Sunday, October 11, 2015

Dear Hillary Here are the opening remarks you need to give at Tuesday night’s Democratic debate. Love Bob

Good evening
When I saw a recent poll that had me running even with Donald Trump I had a come to Jesus moment. That did it for me. I’m announcing tonight that I’m done being a contestant on a reality tv show.
I don’t do folksy and funny. I never have and never will So If you are looking for a president who you’d like to go out for a beer with then don’t vote for me. Even I would not want to go out for a beer with me.
Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley are good guys but neither of them have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning a national campaign. I have made mistakes and I will make more but we certainly can’t turn the country over to any one of those Republican snake oil selling gas bags with their 1950s Mad Men view of the world and women.
This is not professional wrestling folks. This is a national interview for the most important job on the planet. You can trust me with the keys. Thank you

Saturday, October 03, 2015

“Barbecue” by Robert O’Hara at the Public Theatre A Bullet Theatre Review

When you enter the Newman Theatre at the Public, to see “Barbecue”, a play that opens on October 8, on the same stage that launched Hamilton, three things hit you; 1. the ushers aren’t giving out Playbills until intermission to enhance a plot surprise; 2. the wall to wall stage set with ceiling to floor panels of trees and greenery engagingly creates a state park with birds chirping, picnic tables and built in barbecue stands and 3. the animated audience strolling in looking like it just got off the L train from Williamsburg is a reminder that the Public does envelope pushing stuff that pulses with youthful vitality.
There is a really interesting unexpected story change up. The cast is funny and talented with a stand out performance by Samantha Soule, playing a post rehab young woman from the other side of the tracks who finds her hustling counterpart, played by Tamberla Perry. Ms. Perry is a skillful, physical comic actress who takes her character send up a little too far over the top for my taste.
So without giving the change up away I will just say that the play is a bold skewering of a target that deserves it but after a fun two hour ride it was ultimately more of a good SNL sketch than great theatre.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Travel Notes - 10 days in a rent-a- wreck jeep in Alaska

Generalizations about people who live in the place you're going to based on who's waiting to board the flight with you are bound to be unfair and usually wrong. Having said that, it was hard not to notice that people on the Portland to Anchorage leg of our flight to Alaska, were looking rugged and large  and I'm talking Cinnabon large.  When a loud guy, sitting a few rows back, finished a story with   “and we were catching 50 pounders”, I knew this wasn't the flight from Newark to West Palm for Passover.

Lori and I just got back from a ten day visit to Alaska, in a 2003 Jeep, on a loop from Anchorage,  to Whittier, Seward, down the Kenai Peninsula to Homer and then north through Anchorage to Wasilla and then to Denali National Park.

The original plan was to drive to the town of McCarthy in Wrangell St Elias National Park where the big rental car companies wont let you drive because the road is so bad. As a result we, and by we, I mean Lori, found Stanley of A-1 car rental in Anchorage. When Stanley picked us up at the airport he proudly asked how we liked the job he did duct taping the missing driver side rear window. Before we pulled out of his lot, with the broken down trailer office, Stanley went into a junk filled storage hut and came out with a prospector's pan - just in case.

Anchorage  is a small scale city (pop. 300,000) , with a half a dozen plain looking six story office buildings, a few large hotels, parking lots everywhere and a distinctly uninspired hulking symphony hall downtown.

The tall brown buildings in the back are the Captain Cook Hotel where the President stayed a few days before we got there. Met a guy who said he was in the gym when Obama came down to work out.

From Anchorage we drove south, on the Seward Parkway, along the shores of the Cook inlet  - an eye popping introduction to Alaska's uncommercialized beauty that just keeps coming and coming.

The first stop was  Girdwood and a night in the Alyeska Hotel. They have a mountain top restaurant at 2,300 feet accessed by gondola and some amazing, large, smooth textured gold oysters.

The only land route to our next stop, Whittier, on the western corner of Prince William Sound,  is a one way 2/12 mile tunnel built for military trains in the 1940s. It was adapted in 2000 to allow cars and trucks to drive on top of the rails through the tunnel into town.  They let you drive in on the hour and back out on the half hour.

The town, which has a land that time forgot, science fiction quality, gets an average of 30 feet of snow in the Winter and has a population that swells to around 200 in the tourist season. Most of the town's residents live in one large run down apartment building that was built to house US troops in WWII.  

The good news is that the main hotel in Whittier is a nice place with terrific views of the water.

We took a five hour tour out of Whittier on the Prince William Sound with the added delight of 
fluking whales, eagles, harbor seals, a fleeting glimpse of a bear family on the shore  and a breath taking glacier.

After Whittier we headed south down the Kenai peninsula to Homer, and the Homer spit, 226 miles southwest of Anchorage at the mouth of the Cook Inlet. Homer, which looks like it was a 60's hippie destination,  was built in the late 1800s as a mining camp. In a frame on the wall of a tiny Homer City Hall,  is the 1898 Constitution and By Laws of the Kings County Mining Company formed by a group of gold seekers that sailed from Brooklyn at the turn of the century around Tierra del Fuego up the West Coast of North America into Cook Inlet.

We arrived in Seward a few days before the President got there. At Exit Glacier, where the pres was to have a photo op, we were chatting with a ranger when a beefy looking guy with a short hair cut flashed a badge. The ranger stepped aside to let him into a back room.

We had some great food with first prize going to Little Mermaid on the Homer Spit.

On a 9 hour cruise our of Seward on Kenai Peninsula Fjord tours a family of orca whales encircled the boat just as we got under way. With  our captain/naturalist enthusiastically sharing his wealth of knowledge we were treated to eagles, orcas, humbacks fluking, tufted puffins and a noisy rookery against a backdrop of glaciers.

On the drive north towards Denali National Park we stopped in Wasilla, 40 miles north of Anchorage. This town, which is a strip of highway with a few shopping malls, launched the career of Ms. "drill baby drill ubetcha",  the right wing cartoon character who in 2012,  John McCain decided should be a 76 year old heartbeat away from America’s nuclear arsenal.

We checked out the Alaska State Fair in nearby Palmer. Amid the cute kids showing off prize pigs and calves, and the Republican tent with its anti Obama stickers, there was also an Alaska Democrats tent with Bernie and Hillary bumper stickers. Two lovely folks there explained that Democrats are about 1% of the population of Wasilla and about 33% of the state.

At Denali National Park we took a day long bus tour run by the National Park Service. Our funny knowledgeable driver, "Kat", a big woman, who drives a Fairbanks school bus in the Winter expertly drove our National Park Service school bus 85 miles into Denali Park, We slowed down to check out a few grizzlies off in the distance, a bull moose moving quickly in the woods and an elk. Kat expertly navigated hair pin turns on switch backs around snow covered mountains as we  all took in the 6 million acre, forever wild, treasure.

The bus turn around point was about 20 miles from Mt. Denali  which loomed ahead of us through the clouds at 20,000 feet.

We did have one dangerously close wildlife encounter. They say you don't want to get between this big fellow and a free sample at Costco.

The back stories of the folks who work in the Alaska tourist business usually start with wanderlust to be in one or the most unspoiled parts of the planet. September is the end of Alaska's tourist season People were a few weeks away from leaving and tourist venues were getting ready to shut down for the Winter when there is three hours a day of sunlight.

Highway crews were racking up overtime, working until 10 PM as they raced to finish road work before Winter sets in. A flagman, at one of many highway stops, who had been an army medic and was still an RN, told us that he was making better money  on the road crew than he would as an RN. He and his  wife, who is also an RN, would soon be heading to the North Slope, where he expected to find good paying work in construction or the oil business.

The tourists in Alaska come in a variety of categories.There were lots of camper vans with retirees.  , a few hardy souls who have driven from the lower 48 and families from the US and Europe who rented campers when they landed. There were guys on booze fueled fishing trips eating at local restaurants that will clean and cook the days catch as well as bus loads upon bus loads of older folks and families on bucket list cruises. Princess Cruise lines appears to have cornered the market and has its own desks in hotel lobbies.

The Alaskans we met were charming, friendly people who more than once, expressed appreciation for the chance to be in such an extraordinary place. College age seasonal service staff were anxious to leave for home in the lower 48 as well as eastern Europe - Serbia, Hungary or Lithuania. A few were heading for winter ski resort jobs.

We met a young woman from Bulgaria on her only day off in the last 3 weeks
She had been misled by a company that imports Eastern European young workers by luring them with false promises of opportunities to see Alaska, charges them a fee,  and then sticks them in kitchens working long hours with few days off.  We tried to convince her to file some kind of complaint, or at least make it public on line to warn others, but she declined.

There was also strong evidence that folks up there have a good sense of humor.

It's not often that license plate mottos actually tell you something  about a state but Alaska is actually "The Last Frontier".  John McPhee, in his 1977 book about Alaska, "Coming into the Country", wrote;

Even now, after the influx of new people that followed statehood and has attended the building of the Trans-Alaska pipeline and the supposed oil based bonanza, there are fewer people in all Alaska than there are in San Jose. The central paradox of Alaska is that it is as small as it is large - an immense landscape with so few people in it that language is stretched to call it a frontier, let alone a state.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

A Bullet Review
August 1, 2015
A play by Annie Baker
Signature Theatre 42d Street NYC
There are people who are very comfortable with interpersonal silence and others like moi who need to keep yapping to fill it in. In Annie Baker’s new play “John” interpersonal stage silence is an important part of her playwright’s tool box in this exploration of the dark psychic baggage of seemingly everyday folks.
The Signature Theatre, where the play is in previews, won’t be putting asses in seats with this one, and there were a lot less asses in those seats at the end of this 3 hour and 15 minute play but its filled with sharp humor, compelling characters , and strong performances.
Ms. Baker, who won a Pulitzer in 2014 for “Flick”, digs into the psychic anguish of every day lives while challenging traditional notions of staging. In Flick she peeled back the layers of desperate underpaid young people working in a small town movie theatre with a stage set consisting of rows of a run down movie seats facing the audience.
In John, a young couple with a relationship, hanging by a thread, spend a weekend in a dowdy tchotchke smothered Gettysburg PA bed and breakfast. In the early minutes, the audience watches the couple climb the stairs to their room. We are left staring at the empty set for a few beats and then become awkward eavesdroppers straining to hear the muffled voices of the couple arguing in their room.
Here comes some good news. Georgia Engel who plays Mertis, the B&B owner combines the same sweetness and deer in headlights, small town dopiness, that cracked up those of old enough to remember her as Ted Baxter’s girlfriend Georgette on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Her impeccable timing and larger than life facial expressiveness squeezes great things out of silent spaces as we get larger and larger glimpses of the haunted dark side of her back story.
Then there is the always wonderful treat of watching veteran stage and screen actor Lois Smith play the role of Mertis's blind best friend Genevieve. Genevieve speaks truth from darkness about life and love. In another unexpected moment which again challenges theatrical staging expectations Ms. Smith . . . . Its not major, but it is unique enough not to spoil. If I were a real critic I would understand this tapping of the blind sage as a classic character of Greek theatre but, Im not and I don't.
Christopher Abbott and Hong Chau give solid but unexciting performances. The plot’s descent into darkness was ultimately engaging but unrelenting while leaving too many dangling unexplained threads of spookiness. It did meet my first criteria of theatre on a weeknight - I stayed awake.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

A Bullet Review / Big Love at The Signature Theatre NYC By Bob Salzman 3/1/15

Big Love, at the Signature Theatre, on 42d Street, by Charles Mee, starts before the actors appear with an eye popping Italian seaside villa stage set including a video of the glistening Mediterranean running across the rear wall of the stage, tropical flowers dangling above the audience’s head and large video projections of seaside birds on each wall.
The play is a modern day take on an ancient Greek play “The Denaids” about 50 women fleeing forced marriages to 50 cousins. In an unwelcome reminder of how much I never learned in college, the Playbill tells us that it’s “one of the oldest plays in the western world”.
The play is engaging fun because of its easy on the eyes, high energy talented cast with great voices and acrobatic floor slamming choreography, inspired by professional wrestling. The wonderful singing includes an unexpected Italian aria and my favorite when the sisters grab cordless mikes and belt out the female breaking free anthem “You Don’t Own Me”.
As the women plot their final exit strategy the play touches on some big ideas about oppression, rebellion and moral choices but ultimately descends into incomprehensible, three ring circus like - shall we just say - “liquified” chaos.
I don’t get opera, but plays like this one shed light on why opera fans buy expensive tickets to experience breathtaking talent even if what’s happening on stage is incomprehensible and dopey .

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Bullet Review : The Audience by Peter Morgan starring Helen Mirren 2 15 15

Last night, at the end of the first act of "The Audience", in previews at the Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway, Helen Mirren has the crown placed on her head in a re-enactment of Queen Elizabeth’s 1953 coronation and the audience broke into applause. It gave me the creeps.
It was the same strain of the creeps I felt at the start of the currently running delightful production of “On The Town” when they light up a massive flag and the audience stands up for the Star Spangled banner. Something other than theatre was going on.
OK Helen Mirren is one of the world’s greatest actresses and it’s probably worth the overpriced tickets, in an overheated theatre with zero leg room seats to see her on stage but Helen – make this the last one. One more Queen Elizabeth imitation and you risk crossing over into the land of Elvis impersonators.
There are some hardwired problems. Much of the play assumes a knowledge of British politics and history that at least this American does not have. It is, however, an interesting fly on the wall look at the weekly chats in Buckingham Palace between the Queen and British PMs from Churchill to Cameron. You get a snapshot of Elizabeth as a well meaning woman, raised in a pampered form of institutionalized isolation, capable of tart questions but ultimately a vestigial relic.
Its worth mentioning the strikingly skillful creation of iconic historic images like the appearance of Churchill's hulking cigar smoking form (played by Dakin Mathews) which is, I dare say, spot on.
But ultimately it’s as if Disney’s Magic Kingdom hired world class talent to put on a "Rule Britannia" patriotic pageant to compete with “Impressions De France” in the pavilion next door.
I don’t feel ripped off but this production is something other than a play.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

At a Police Funeral, Backs Turned on the Mayor A Letter to the Editor NY Times 1/5/15

To the Editor:

Re “Silent Protest as 2nd Officer Is Laid to Rest” (front page, Jan. 5):

When a group of responding officers can’t subdue an agitated, unarmed man being arrested for a nonviolent offense without killing him, the New York Police Department has a training and supervision problem that needs fixing.

Instead of even a minimal recognition of the problem and the broken relationship between the police and minority communities, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, rank-and-file cops and pandering politicians have opted to lash out at Mayor Bill de Blasio as “anti-cop” because he made balanced statements respectful of both the police and peaceful protesters.

Officers who turned their backs on their civilian commander in chief at the funerals for Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu committed shocking acts of public insubordination — a troubling statement that this local and national problem will get worse long before it gets better.

Brooklyn, Jan. 5, 2015

Friday, November 07, 2014


      I fell asleep watching the KochFoxican take over of the US Senate on election day and I had this dream .  . .

      Obama’s at his desk speaking to the nation the morning after election day.

      My fellow Americans, last night’s election reminded me of the farmer who said the only way he can get his mule’s attention is by hitting it over the head with a 2 by 4.  OK America – you got my attention.

          Republican voters have bought the two big myths about whats wrong with America- that government is picking their pockets and giving their money to deadbeats and that things would be better if only rich people could get their hands on more money.

          Like the slickest trial lawyers that ever bamboozled a jury the Republicans and their 24/7 friends at Fox News have convinced every day people that their interests are the same as the Koch Brothers. That's a pretty good trick. I tip my hat to them. They had some Democrats so terrorized that they wouldn't even admit who they voted for in the last national election.

       Americans who vote Republican are not stupid. They are just so busy trying to get by, pay their bills, hold onto their jobs, raise kids, keep a roof over their heads and food on the table that they are sitting ducks for the Republican smoke machine.

  It's time to take back the narrative. If spoken to directly and honestly American voters will understand that they are being fed complete hokum. Every day for the next two years people will hear from me with a message that is strong, loud and clear;

                - that the Republican goal of bringing back the emergency room as America’s primary care provider is a bad idea

                 -  that the immigration problem cannot be solved by inflicting suffering on people whose only crime was risking everything to give their kids a better life.

                  - that no one is taking away anyone’ s guns any more than requiring drivers licenses and stop lights is a slippery slope to seizing everyone’s cars.

                  - that freedom means government should stay out of people’s bedrooms and politicians should not be telling women what they can or cannot do with their wombs.

                  I will continue to do whatever I think is necessary to protect the country from the real and present danger of lunatic murderers with their sick hate driven belief systems but the world's  Hatfields and McCoys war zones will not be fixed with military solutions.

                   The Republican vision of a society of haves and have nots is not the America that gives us goose bumps when the flag  comes by on July 4.

                  I have tried not to step on toes for the last 6 years and the result has been footprints on my face. So that’s over. 
As FDR said in 1936 – referring to the same sectors of American society -  I welcome their hatred. 

                  Ever have one of those dreams where you don't want to wake up?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The front page story of Harry Reid kvetching about his meeting with Obama and Mitch McConnel has been bugging me all week.

There was a front page NYT story this week (8/19/14) about Harry Reid feeling frustrated with the Pres. It has been bugging me all week because it feels like bullshit and the Times fell for it.

The media concensus is that Obama is coasting into the home stretch and everyone is frustrated.  Once a concensus is formed its much easier for journalists to play "pile on"  - especially during beach vacation season.
Here's a piece of the story;

But Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, wanted to press another point.
With Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, sitting a few feet away, Mr. Reid complained that Senate Republicans were spitefully blocking the confirmation of dozens of Mr. Obama’s nominees to serve as ambassadors. He expected that the president would back him up and urge Mr. McConnell to relent.
Mr. Obama quickly dismissed the matter.
“You and Mitch work it out,” Mr. Obama said coolly, cutting off any discussion.
Mr. Reid seethed quietly for the rest of the meeting, according to four separate accounts provided by people who spoke with him about it. After his return to the Capitol that afternoon, Mr. Reid told other senators and his staff members that he was astonished by how disengaged the president seemed. After all, these were Mr. Obama’s own ambassadors who were being blocked by Mr. McConnell, and Secretary of State John Kerry had been arguing for months that getting them installed was an urgent necessity for the administration.

What did Reid expect! The President of the United States invites the four top Congressional leaders to his office to talk about  the downward spiral of Iraq to get their input about how to avoid another war. Then Harry Reid tries to change the subject and he's upset when it didnt work.

Without any prior heads up or an agreed upon Democratic strategy he tries to pull the rug out from under Obama's meeting agenda and then whines to the NYTimes about it.

What was the sandbagged President supposed to say? - although I called you here to talk about how to avoid being sucked back into Iraq, losing more lives and flushing another couple of billion down the toilet, lets change the subject to Harry's inability to do his job.

The NY Times let itself be bambozzled by a transparently sleazy attempt by Reid to hijack the press coverage of a White House meeting on Iraq in order to get a front page story dumping responsibility on Obama for Reid's failure of leadership.

I have one thing to say to Harry;

Monday, July 21, 2014

JULY 19 2014

The Jewish woman was having a loud cell phone conversation about the Jews charged with the murder of the Palestinian kid in retaliation for the murder of the Israeli kids. The Jew is alleged to have called the Palestinian a "murderer" and the Palestinian is said to have called the Jew a "Zionist pig"
I stopped reading and drifted off into a daydream that went something like this ...
The fight ends and they go back to their seats and a few minutes passes.  Then the gods of motherhood reach down and both of them are surprised to see the other approaching down the aisle.
The Jewish woman says (in your own daydream you can chose who starts the conversation)
"OK I'm a Zionist pig and you're a murderer - Now that we've gotten that out of the way let's talk about our kids and their future. Someone gives up a seat and they sit down next to each other.When they finish showing each other pictures of kids and grandkids one of them says "You and I both know that this is only going to be solved by mothers working it out for the sake of their kids not by men with guns and bombs. The other nods. They  talk for a long time. Someone nearby hears the conversation stop and turns to see them weeping uncontrollably and embracing.

The daydream didn't last long and I went on to finish the paper.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Condoleeza Rice, mushroom clouds and the Rutgers Commencement 2014 - Another unpublished letter to the editor

 To the Editor
Timothy Egan’s column The Commencement of Bigots, NYT  5/15/14,  slams as "bigots" the students who objected to Condoleeza Rice being their commencement speaker at Rutgers.
Condoleeza Rice  played a prominent role in the hoodwinking of the United States into one the most costly military disasters in American history, most notably by using psychic terror to suppress the opposition with her famously dishonest warning that “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.". Considering the human, economic and geopolitical damage she and the Bush administration did to the world that college graduates are inheriting  opposing the decision to award her with an honorary degree at their commencement ceremony is not bigotry. It's called caring and being heard about who this country trusts to be its leaders and not honoring those who cynically and knowingly betray that trust. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dear Sheriff Nut Job;
[A letter to Orange County California Sheriff Sandra Hutchens who is urging people to apply for gun permits NYT Sun 4/27/14 p.4]

I get it.  You've been drinking the NRA kool-aid and anyone who thinks that the US has a gun violence problem is part of the gov'mint conspiracy to take away all guns.
        Who can argue with your thinking that what the world needs now, aside from love sweet love, is lots of people packing concealed automatic weapons? This way if folks feel threatened they can start shooting before the cops get there. This will certainly be a great contribution to road rage incidents, bar room brawls, or people faced with a dark skinned person knocking on their door for assistance.
This decision is not likely to be changed anytime soon, especially if the Supreme Court gets their paws on it. So to people like you who think that its good public policy to give lots of civilians the ability to open fire in public places here are a few news clips from New York City that show what happens when the people doing the shooting are trained police officers. 

Police wound 2 bystanders in shooting near Times SquareBy AnneClaire Stapleton, CNN
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Mon September 16, 2013
Decision by 2 Officers to Open Fire in Busy Midtown Leaves Bystanders Wounded By  and 
Published: August 24, 2012

  • --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Police Bullets Hit Bystanders, and Questions Rise Yet AgainHiroko Masuike/The New York Times
    The scene at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue after officers fired at a man who was darting in and out of traffic on Sept. 14.
    By  and Published: September 15, 2012
                                            *    *   *
    Two officers opened fire, discharging a total of three bullets. They missed the man, but struck two women nearby, including one who had been leaning against her walker; the bullet wound to her leg sent her tumbling to the ground. 

    1. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                      This is unlikely to change your mind, and by "this" I mean reality,  and by "your mind" . .  I'm speaking hypothetically . . . but with people like you in charge of public safety its probably a good idea to increase your county's budget for ambulances,  emergency rooms and surgeons with training in war zones.

    Saturday, March 08, 2014


    I know it’s a little late for post Olympic commentary.  OK maybe an invasion by an under cover plain clothes army that ain't saying who sent them is more important but somebody needs to say something about the Cossacks. So this will be quick and then you can go back to the invasion.

    I’m 62 years old.  Getting together with friends these days often begins with who pulled something while bending down to pick up soap. For me watching the Olympics and all the 20 somethings  flipping, spinning, zooming, flying around upside down was mostly annoying.

    Then there was an unscheduled event – Cossack bull whipping.  

    Out of nowhere, the flipping, spinning and zooming was suddenly interrupted by a video of men in  silly hats whipping a group of 20 something women also wearing interesting head gear because they tried to sing one of their songs   "Putin Will Teach You How to Love. The sports reporters matter of factly explained that the guys with the whips were Cossacks. OK got it. Now back to curling. 

    Whoa! Time out . Hold on. There are still Kossacks in Russia and  they patrol the streets with whips, while dressed up as bell hops?

    I thought the Kossacks were guys on horses who drove my ancestors out of Russia.  This was like watching the local six o’clock news and hearing the news anchor say “This afternoon people eating nachos at the Vince Lombardi rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike were attacked by Hessians. Now lets take a look at the weather."

    OK I got it out of my system. I just needed to scream for a few seconds. Now back to the invasion.

    Monday, January 13, 2014


    I appreciate your thoughts on the inauguration and mostly see things the same way... I don't totally agree with everything. I not convinced that what happens in NYC is as critical factor in the future of liberal policies. I realize now that maybe I'm even more pessimistic, glass-half-empty than you. I think there's very little chance that a NYC mayor can take major strides in ending income inequality without significant help from the state (where we have a governor who Dean Skelos rightly calls a good moderate Republican) and the feds. So I'm cautiously pessimistic about some of his more dramatic proposals. I would also urge you not to be quite so discouraged about first day speeches, which will largely be forgotten in the very near future. What I am really nervous about - something that you allude to - is that conservative, corporate forces will band together to defeat important parts of the Mayor's agenda, and they have extortionate power, the threat to leave, the threat to - thanks to Citizens United - offer a bottomless well of cash to opponents of progressive change. But I'd like to think there's room to hope for incremental, but significant change. The city council looks like it may be a progressive force, the Gov. actually might help (for example, though he clearly won't support a tax increase to fund Universal pre-K, it's certainly no coincidence that UPK featured prominently in his state of the state address).

    Lastly, I had some dealings with Tish James when she was an Assembly staffer. She's really smart and I think her heart's in the right place. The Public Advocate has limited power and almost no staff, but I think/hope she'll be something of a force in the right direction. And about her holding hands with the young homeless girl, what's so terrible about highlighting, though in a somewhat cheesy way, the plight of the homeless.

    There's more talk around the country about poverty right now, owing, I believe, in no small part to DeBlasio. What will come out of it? It would be silly to be too exuberant, but it would be a real shame not to get on board for as far as we can go...