Posts Tagged 'wisconsin'

Summer 2018

Where. Does. The. Time. Go. Go Brewers!


Middle class in America

In college, I spent an academic year abroad in Florence, Italy. It was pretty much the greatest year of my life. I have a million memories from that time but one in particular has been flooding my memory inbox the last year or so. During our spring break, my friends Andrea, Jon & Andy and I decided to go on a trip we called Operation Behind the Iron Curtain. Of course, the Iron Curtain had been opened by this time – March 1997 – but we all remembered it and thought we were very clever for our name and brave in our exploration. We flew from Rome to Athens and then took a bus around Greece for a bit (and hitchhiked up Mt. Olympus) and then took a bus into Sofia, Bulgaria and finally another bus from Sofia to Istanbul. The trip was really something. One of the things that really stands out for me, though, despite all of this time, is a guy we met on the bus from Sofia to Istanbul. I can’t remember where he was from. Somewhere in South America maybe. Anyway, my friend Jon really took to him and they were supremely chatty on the bus and the rest of us sort of worried this guy was going to latch onto us when we got off the bus in Turkey. We weren’t xenophobes or anything, but the guy just didn’t seem very, well, nice.

I don’t remember a lot of what he said, but I do remember this. He said that he would rather be a peasant anywhere (I actually think he named a place, but I can’t remember where it was) than be middle class in America. I was floored. I seem to remember Jon nodding knowingly. I had never heard someone say such a thing before. He wasn’t disparaging suburbia or strip malls or chain restaurants; he was insulting millions of people, including me and my family and pretty much everyone I knew because of their bank accounts. The statement feels as arrogant to me today as it did fifteen years ago. The difference is today I can’t shrug it off as a foolishly ignorant, condescending and pretentious thing said by a young man who had too much privilege and too little education and compassion. Today I see that young person’s sentiment all around me. The assault on America’s working class is as real as it is heartbreaking. And I don’t know what to do about it.

I try to buy American-made products, but not nearly as much as I should. I cry when I read about the unemployed and those that are losing their homes. I refinanced our mortgage so that it would no longer be held by Bank of America, but I have a half dozen credit cards that are held by banks that may be equally greedy and heartless and irresponsible. I don’t know when things got so bad, but I do know that it feels that I am complicit in letting it happen.

The thing that felt most important to me about last year’s protests and the recall movement was that it was more than a million people coming together. Teachers and professors and fire fighters and cops and iron workers and plumbers and lawyers and electricians and professors and paralegals and custodians – all working together, all singing together, all marching together. It felt like we all realized that we are in this together. Our lives and livelihoods are completely intertwined and we would not be taken in by The Rich’s effort to turn us against each other. We would refuse to fight each other for scraps and pennies. We would stand up for our neighbors and in turn stand up for ourselves.

I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it doesn’t feel like it’s getting better. I hope that’s not true. I hope that we realize what we used to know: a rising tide truly does raise all boats. I want Mollybear to have the dream, which I’ve always understood was to be middle class in America.


We are nearing the end of the traditional holiday season and I am sad to see it go.  Not because I haven’t had enough Christmas time, or enough good food and drink, or even enough time with my lovely Christmas tree with all its sparkly lights and the warm feeling it brings me.  Between you and me, I’m not exactly not looking forward to putting it out on the street this weekend.  You can’t really argue with the facts that it is a bit messy and crowded sticking a big pine tree in your living room.  And, of course, I am my mother’s daughter and my mother pretty much always wanted to stick the thing out on the curb late on Christmas morning.  Ok, now back to why I am saddened about the end of the season: I haven’t seen nearly as many movies as I’d like.  Christmas time means Movie Time!  There are always a million that seem to come out this time of year and, living in Wisco as I do, the holiday movie season starts later and ends later than it does in other parts of the civilized world.  What this means in reality is that I feel behind before movies have even arrived in town.  For example, Sarayu saw Up In the Air at least a month ago, it seems, whereas I saw it just this afternoon.  Sigh.  I am so behind, in fact, that I just saw Julie & Julia this week.  Geesh, Kate.  Get it together.

I wonder if Jesus would have been a movie fan.  I think so.  He seemed to like a good story-telling and what better way to connect with your fellow man than to sit in a crowded, dark theater watching someone’s story unfold in a gigantic way just a few feet away from you.  I wonder what he would want to see this season.  Since I really have no idea, I’ll set out my list instead of speculating on his.

Up In the Air … Check!  Done.  And I really, really liked it.  I’m not saying it’s Best Picture quality movie, but I think it’s damn close.  It’s at once a unique, fresh story that has conventional plot lines and ideas.  Sort of the best of both worlds as far as I’m concerned.  Afterall, there’s a reason we return to convention (sometimes rudely billed ‘cliches’).  It’s comforting.  And as much as Up In the Air is uncomfortable — all that plane travel!  the lack of real intimacy, the supreme attractiveness of Clooney and Farmiga — there is so much that is achingly familiar.  The wedding scene felt so real I could hardly contain the tears of joy streaming down my face.  Ok, I couldn’t control them.  I very much recommend this movie.



Sherlock Holmes (maybe).

It’s Complicated.

An Education.

Also, I saw two previews today for movies that aren’t coming out for a bit but will, no doubt, be given some Oscar buzz.  Actually, I’m sure they already have generated some but, see above, we don’t always get that news in time, either.  Or, more accurately, we might get the news but it doesn’t always register when it’s for a movie you can’t remember the name of because it won’t be in town for a couple of months.  One was A Single Man with Colin Firth and Julianne Moore.  It seems very Mad Men period-esque, but I really have no idea what it’s about.  The preview was lovely, but it was only music and images, ie no dialogue at all.  It gave me the impression, though, that it would be a movie that would make me quite uncomfortable in a Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf way.  The second was Shutter Island.  Martin Scorsese + Leonardo DiCaprio + mental patients + an island + possible ghosts = I’m intrigued.  Frightened, but intrigued.

What are you seeing? 

Find the car


Isn’t this awesome? I’d like to add a few more ideas to the list — strolling down State, lunch at Chataura, an actual beer on the terrace — but it’s still pretty great, in my opinion. An added plus is the Anthology shop they mentioned, which is co-owned by a gal I played tennis with in high school.

Speaking of Wisconsin, which we now are, the state’s been going rather bonkers for a long time now over the movie Public Enemies. I don’t know how the rest of the country is reacting to its premiere (though I suspect Michael Mann + Johnny Depp + John Dillinger = lots of excitement and hype), but Sconnie just about collapsed from the weight of it all. As you may know, lots of scenes were filmed here — Madison, Columbus, Oshkosh and more. Most significantly, perhaps, was the infamous shoot-out at the Little Bohemia lodge in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin, which still stands and which we often comment upon when we are up on our annual family vacation in near-by Presque Isle. Anyway, lots of towns had early premieres and people came out in 1930s wear and drove around old cars and smoked cigars. It was really quite a reaction.

So, with all of this in mind, I saw the movie last night. At Sundance. Gosh, I just love that theater. Even though the restaurant blew and reminds me of a low period in my adult life, the movie theater is just the bees’ knees and makes me not want to go to any other movie theater ever again (well, that doesn’t include the drive-in or the Orpheum, both of which I adore). Anyway, as soon as the movie started, it occurred to me what I was really going to see. A Michael Mann movie about John Dillinger. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me early. Maybe because I didn’t really know much about Dillinger (this despite there being an old family story that my great-grandfather was kidnapped by Dillinger’s gang to repair some plumbing or electrical problem at one of their hide-outs). So, it hit me late that this was going to be (a) long and (b) violent. Michael Mann is not even close to one of my favorite directors and I absolutely hated his uber-long, unedited, ultra-violent, super boring Heat. But it was too late to turn back. The movie starts with a pretty violent jailbreak, which sets the tone. There’s a lot of blood in this movie and a lot of killing. Johnny Depp is pretty great, though, and Marion Cotillard is simply gorgeous and commanding. Christian Bale, though…Ugh. I don’t know why I feel bad criticizing him, but I do. Enough’s enough, though. I let his Batman performance slide and I can’t do it again. I feel like he’s really pushing when he “acts.” I don’t believe him at all. I don’t know if he’s trying too hard to cover up his Welsh accent or what. Personally, though, I’d rather have a Welsh accent slip in in an otherwise smooth and believable performance than watch someone speak so woodenly so that we don’t know where he’s actually from. It’s really enough already. At least for me. And it probably didn’t help that his role, a would-be federal agent though the FBI has yet to come into its own, is really boring. I was hoping for more of a movie like, say, American Gangster. In American Gangster, you are just as interested in Russell Crowe’s police work as you are with Denzel Washington’s criminal work. In Public Enemies, though, there is very little police work and it’s just not that interesting.

Overall, though, I liked the movie and it didn’t feel as long as I thought it might. I would give it a B. For whatever that’s worth. Maybe a B+ since seeing the Capitol was pretty cool.

December 2022

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