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Five Things That Make Life Better for November 2, 2018

By Lisa Birnbach

We can’t deny it is upon us: the “most important election of our lifetime.” For some reason, I hate that phrase. I think it is because it is overused; it is the boy who cried ‘wolf’ situation. We have said and we have been told that every election is the most important one. And now that we have a mid-term on which all the weight of correcting the ills and changing course are imposed, hearing that worn-out talk can sound like babble. (Yet, indeed the 2018 midterms are the most important elections so far. Truly.) I do hope you will vote.My Five Helpful Thoughts    1) Like you, I imagine, I have had really long waits and incredibly unfriendly service at the post office when I go there to mail a package or two. (“I just got here; why are you mad at me?”) However, I love Yaya, my mailwoman, and I appreciate the hard work she has and the good humor in which she labors. She has taught me how she layers socks and plastic wrap in her boots for the long winter days on her feet. Romeo, my previous mailman downtown was also wonderful. He really was my first friend in the neighborhood. When I read about the bombs being sent in the mail it made me remember how decent and thankless so many of the men and women of the postal service are. And we only know about those 14 intercepted devices. I am sure there have been plenty more of those. Thank you to these folks. 2) Last week I was part of a half dozen women friends at a performance of “Gloria, A Life.”    “Gloria, A Life,” is a play and a post-play discussion/salon/talk-back/group therapy session based on Gloria Steinem’s life and writings. She is portrayed by the effervescent actress Christine Lahti. I have to confess that even with video images of Steinem on the walls, I sometimes forgot that she was being portrayed by someone else. But the evening was even more special to me because of the group of women I got to join. A sophisticated mix of accomplished women of many backgrounds, they include an artist, bankers, a professor at NYU, a jeweler, and one of the producers of the play. (I’m the newbie and very honored to be one of this bunch.) We laughed, we cried, we talked. We listened. And we want our children and the men in our lives to see “Gloria, A Life” too.    3) “The Ferryman” Was high on my list of plays I wanted to see this fall. I didn’t know much about it beyond that it was written by Jez Butterworth (who wrote “Jerusalem”, the remarkable Mark Rylance play) it was imported from London where it was directed by Sam Mendes. He’s brought a first-rate production to Broadway. The story of an extended Irish family in Ireland in the early 1980s — it’s a kind of “August Osage County” set at the farmhouse just before the harvest celebration. There are plenty of children and wizened old people, an actual real human BABY, a live goose, and several rabbits. There’s a lot to see and understand in the play. The virulent anti-English sentiments of the older generations, bullying by the powerful in the neighborhood, the tug of tradition versus new ways of thinking, and always love. I couldn’t recommend this play more highly. It’s exciting to see a new play which isn’t based on a commercial movie from the 1980s or 90s. It’s exciting to be provoked into thinking. And it gave me many hours’ respite from you know what. Donald Fagen 4) We saw Steely Dan perform at the Beacon Theater on Tuesday night. It was weird doing something so frivolous with everything happening in Pittsburgh, but we had bought the tickets and we also have to live. Right? It is always amusing going to a concert of someone whose music meant a lot to me growing up. The audience is made up of older people…. like…. us….(I’m hyperventilating now.) Tuesday night brought a suprising mixture of ages. No, no babies but a lot of younger (and ardent) fans. Perhaps they were introduced to Steely Dan’s music by George St. Geegland and Gil Faison (John Mulaney and Nick Kroll) in their show “Oh Hello.” [Netflix trailer is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPQL8RbwckU] In any case, never did I feel so average (in the best possible way — I was like everyone else at the Beacon). At some point I stopped being the mother of three fine exhibits ™; I was just another happy college junior listening to some of my favorite songs. But even better too, because while I was compulsively listening to Aja, The Royal Scam, and Pretzel Logic, the band didn’t perform or tour. This tour is now over, but listen to their music, if you haven’t already.   5) Some weeks — this one in particular — getting to 5 is a real effort. Thank you Robert Mueller, for making number 5 the easiest part of this work. And on behalf of many of my friends and many likeminded strangers, I would like to apologize to Special Counsel Mueller for the vulgar debasement that was attempted on his reputation. Of course, the attacks didn’t stick. Make this “the most important week of your life.”Stay calm and act natural, and most of all, VOTE.Lisa

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