Jane Mayer

Tuesday, March 8, 2016, 7:30 pm
Venue: Nourse Theater

Several years ago I learned about an almost mythical unidentified group of men in the US.  Perhaps I read an exposé on a “conspiracy” website that would have also dissected an event like 911. Or, maybe I heard it on a public radio program that was discussing why socialized medicine would never fly in the US.  Allegedly, since the time of FDR, a group of like-minded men have worked together to undo everything that the administration put into place during his presidency: Social Security, the New Deal programs and any thing that hinted of socialism.  It was a creepy story.

Power hungry, most likely-white men trying to destroy anything that was positive and helpful to the US and its struggling citizens?

When the Tea Party hatched from it’s snake egg and proceeded to discredit Obama and his healthcare program, there was so much more to feel disgusted about.  So the creepy men slipped from my mind — that is until Jane Mayer and Jeffrey Toobin showed up at the Nourse.

Mayer-toobin I’d never heard of Jane Mayer or her work and was obviously missing out.  Like Phil Hartman’s “Caveman Lawyer”, I’m frightened and confused by the mostly negative, gloomy, terrifying news that is constantly reported. So I stay informed by trusted friends, occasional public radio programs and all the petitions that are emailed my way.  Still, her eminence remained undiscovered to me.

Before the City Arts and Lectures conversation started, a fellow usher mentioned that he’d listened to Jane on Michael Krasny’s radio program Forum and she was promoting her book Dark Money.  He said the book is about the Koch brothers which, in my news-deprived ignorance, I assumed was the Coke of Coca Cola brothers.

Author Jeffrey Toobin, is also a skilled interviewer and quite funny.  Although sometimes too eagerly interruptive, Jeffrey’s artful prompting of Jane’s narration unfolded a horrifyingly-engrossing story of the Koch brothers. In a nut shell, they are THE axis of evil, destroying the environment and screwing the US for decades.   After some time I started to feel deeply depressed and “texted” my partner a warning – never to bring Coke into the house again. This was before I was corrected on the spelling.

jane-signing After about an hour of grisly details, the audience question portion of the program started and there came a little comic relief. An audience member asked Jane, “Hearing about the Koch brothers I’m wondering, is there any hope for us – at all?”  Despite all that she knew and had been through, Jane declared yes she had a feeling of hope because the truth was now exposed.

I should also be mentioned that during her research and writing period, The Koch’s conducted secret investigations into her personal life, trying to drag up dirt and discredit her article that was about to publish in The New Yorker.

Thank you Jane Meyer and all the other outstanding women and men who get the word out.  Big kudos to City Arts and Lectures for having them in the house.

People awake slumber unconsciously throughout their lives.

Anita Hill at the Nourse

Documentary Screening and Discussion with Anita Hill, Hosted by Roy Eisenhardt
Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 7:30 pm, Venue: Nourse Theater

When Anita Hill appeared before the Supreme Court Justice Confirmation Hearings, I was a temporary
production artist working for Analog Devices in Norwood Mass. At lunch-time I’d go to my car, turn on the radio and listen to what was fast transforming into a trial against the credibility of Anita Hill. Highly distressed by the end of lunch, I would re-enter the vault of Analog Devices, suspecting that no one else in the building was even aware of this unfolding saga. Daily I would return to my desk and resume the“paste-up” and photostat replication of electronic circuitry.

For many marginalized women, Anita Hill’s testimony before the Supreme Court became THE hot topic of the time. Clarence Thomas was to be sworn into the highest position as Supreme Court Justice. Yet as her boss, Thomas had been the sexual predator of several women in the office, making their work lives unbearable. Anita was included in this group whose members were silently, protectively unaware of the each other.

At that time sexual harassment was a norm, complacently woven into the fabric of women’s lives. The concept of “women’s lib” was still joked about by both sexes. There was no support group nor colleague with whom one could trust to speak freely about such a topic. So Anita kept quiet for many years, in order to continue her much beloved law career. Time went by and then she found out that Clarence Thomas was to be sworn into the position that would render him all-powerful and unjust. Anita realized that she had to inform the election community, she had been raised to be true to her heart and to tell the truth

By stepping forward into an uncomfortable spotlight, Anita initiated a profound shift in the lives of millions of women and men. Before an all male panel she publicly exposed the concept of sexual harassment. It was a bold and brave move that inspired other women to step forward, much later, paving the way for organizations like The Kapor Center for Social Impact and Project Include.

For all of you who have not seen her documentary or read her book, please do.

Roz Chast

Thursday, October 9, 2014, 7:30 pm Venue: Nourse Theater Series: “On Arts” Benefiting 826 Valencia Scholarship Program

In the 1980’s I came upon one of the funniest, smartest books I’d ever encountered, “Parallel Universes, an assortment of cartoons” by Roz Chast.  In the book store my friend and I were crying with laughter and eventually had to put it down.

Her ideas are brilliantly absurd with a drawing style that perfectly suits the tone of her concepts. One time I lent the book to a friend and wanted to tag some of my favorites. I ended up tagging more than half of the pages. It’s just that good!

RC-2 Parallel Universes”  opened up the dark recessives of my brain and inserted a new perspective.  It challenged a previously complacent acceptance of normalcy.     “The Man Who Dared to Leave his Job — Right in the Middle of the Day”  because he wanted to take a hot bath, is a perfect example of how  living life in a “normally”  can be dangerously constrictive, and taking a hot bath in the middle of the day could be “quite pleasant” indeed.  Life less serious and more preposterous felt like a relief.   RC-1

25 years later,  I learned that she was coming to the Nourse, so of course I had to be there.  IF I’d thought of it at the time, I would have suggested that she start an important new project — the definitive Life Manual.  I will always be indebted to this genius.


Laugh and laugh as much as you can.