Shakespeare in the Park

It was a beautiful Spring evening in New York City, I was just out of Salon Riz in the Upper West Side, and decided that I actually could make it to The Public Theater’s show that evening. I had won a pair of tickets from that day’s TodayTix lottery, fantastically on the second day of trying.

During the elective Shakespeare course I took my senior year of high school, my group abridged and performed William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and after hitting my third summer in New York City, I was particularly antsy to see this Shakespeare in the Park production.

In processing the results of this past, fateful November 8th, the only silver lining I could come up with was the electric impact this election, and this President’s forthcoming term, would have on our 21st century American society and culture. The frustration it would incite, the commentary it would fire, but most stirring, the popular culture and art it would inspire.

Cue The Public Theater’s, Summer 2017, production of Julius Caesar. Caesar and Calpurnia bear an unmistakable resemblance to a certain orange tinged, red tied leader of the free world & his high fashion, Eastern European accented wife. Pussy hats and “Resist” decorated shirts and arm-sleeves abound.

I find myself disappointed by the news that Shakespeare in the Park has lost some corporate sponsorship in direct relation to this production. Not necessarily surprised, but certainly disappointed. This action is in such strong contrast to what I assume is the opening of any performance held at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. In a strong and comforting voice, they say over the speakers:

This is your theater. It belongs to the City of New York. And all are welcome.

In spite of this recent gesture, Julius Caesar will continue to provide some much needed comic relief and captivation. Corey Stoll as Brutus is an approach to Shakespeare that really moved me. While the typical actor likes to adopt a sort of haughty tone, Stoll modulates so well, making his lines so dynamically emotional and the meaning of the words instinctively comprehensible.

Performances of Shakespeare: for free, for anyone, held in Central Park, during NYC’s terrible and wonderful summers, executed so well… is a wildly important initiative. One that the audience members rightfully and gratefully appreciate, and that sponsors should feel honored to support.

Let’s get political:

Human beings are forever testing the limits of their humanity. Corruption is not a new issue, elite’s doing their damnedest to maintain their elitism is not a new effort, it is simply base intuition to act upon and protect one’s best interests. Every century or so, however, a society’s system is rebooted, there is a Rebellion, a Renaissance, a Revolution, a Resettlement. After the succession of these recent waves of Industrialization, Globalization, and now blatant Corporate Domination, I’d say the United States is due for a reboot.

On a global scale now, Capitalism is the new black.
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Ode to Ptown

It’s always a strange sensation to recognize how seemingly intimate places have the capacity to inspire so many people, throughout history, when the inspiration it has fostered in you feels like such a personal experience. Provincetown, Massachusetts, that colorful and rambunctious village, has become an ingrained aspect of my identity, as most iconic spots in Massachusetts have.
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Sugar: Nutrient and Drug

With Halloween being just a day away, now seems a fitting time as ever to talk about disguises and poison.

With that particularly vague statement, I am addressing “sugar”, by which you can assume I am referring to any number of widely used, added sweeteners: cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, etc.
Sugar is ambrosia, the sweet nectar of the Greek gods.
It’s instant energy without the hassle of thorough digestion.
It very well may be one of the key participants in human evolution and advancement, along with beer and wheat (similar products I know, but I’m referring to their applications).
In short, sugar has become a very valuable ingredient in our modern diets.Read More »

Economics: A Story of My Niaveté

My original understanding of economics went something like this: “well it’s like a more practical philosophy”. I don’t mean “practical” as more valid, but naturally more applied rather than perceptive. Seeing as how our lives revolve around money and the exchange of it for goods, experiences, services, social needs etc., economics seemed to be all about the fine details of how this money is shifted around and how people, companies, organizations, governments, etc. decide where it goes.Read More »

Personal account from a Millennial

There are a few social issues that have been circulating around for the past few years, that are gaining a lot of traction recently.

Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg
Knowing Your Value, Mika Brzezinski
The Unbelievers (2013)
Religulous (2008)

I find all this very strange, because these hardly seem like “issues” to me, as in “an important topic or problem for debate or discussion”. While there are riveting conversations on panel discussions, bestsellers based on these topics, “exposés” on the news and in incredibly well made documentaries, and in common conversation with my elders… They just seem to already be figured out in my brain and in the brains of the bulk of my friends.Read More »

Agricultural Industry Equation, and I Suggest We Reinvigorate the Victory Garden Campaign

My studies at JWU, while composed of many wine tastings, plenty of time in front of a stove, and too many “pretend you own a restaurant” projects, were independently supplemented by research inspired by my own intense and possessing curiosity.  I found myself sincerely disappointed that we rarely took a glance at the agricultural industry. Our scope, as food industry professionals,  began at the inventory list of a supplier and ended with what we place on the plate of the customer. True, there are plenty of intricacies in between and there is so much to learn in that cross section of the process, but it’s still a limited view.Read More »

Something short and sweet to honor the bard.

A very merry, happy birthday to William Shakespeare. I am not a literary critic, I do not plan to present to you a long winded thesis full of quotations and complex analysis meant to demonstrate Shakespeare’s significance. Thank goodness, eh?

And this is precisely my point. I do not have to do such a thing. The value of Shakespeare’s works are understood by all. Anyone who has read a Shakespeare play, even so much as a sonnet or two, has felt the weight of his words, and perhaps a touch of the strife it takes to comprehend ye olde English.

I am thankful for Shakespeare’s existence because of the beautiful, complex, goofy, and horrid depictions of humanity he provided to society. More specifically: without discouraging any audience members, by making his product restrictive to just a few privileged people, to a single class – he has become one of the most prolific historic figures that ever lived.

I think this might be the greatest irony regarding most of his works, they were so common. Meant for an audience of ordinary people. At the time the populace achieved a basic grammar school education, if that much, and yet today… we really struggle to actively engage high school seniors with Shakespeare. Nerdy, little I took a Shakespeare elective my senior year.

Now I have to say something that might be off putting, but this is how I see Shakespeare, this is why I felt compelled to write about him today, this is why I think he was so revolutionary and still holds incredible relevance in this age: Shakespeare, 400-something years ago, wrote it all. People, you can have your “classics”: your Russian masterpieces, your English romantics, your French novelists… but we must recognize that the bulk of their words are the reiteration of what Shakespeare has already penned to paper, and has had shouted from stages the world over through the centuries. So if you have read his plays, that is all that you need, you just might be a complete human being (I have yet to complete this task, making no personal claims here).

A bit of hilarity:

My favorite:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then, the whining school-boy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like a snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then, a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then, the justice,
In fair round belly, with a good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Very important post in this corner of the internet.

I am going to shamelessly plug a song in here, with a quote, to set a tone: “I’ve had a question that’s been preying on my mind for some time.” Basically, I think about these kind of issues plenty:

Evil is an awfully strong word, but is it a fair description [one so perfectly accurate]? Well here’s a video that details Monsanto’s history and what role it plays in current affairs. Watch this, and you don’t even have to read the text I’ve written below, I expand upon the issues brought to quickly mentioned throughout the video.

And it was a 51% landslide vote! Followed by the Federal Reserve at 20%… what kind of gold and silver medals are fashioned for such a contest?

This is why “organic”, a concept of sustainable practice with conscience of its effects on surrounding environments and the people involved throughout the process, is essential. Forget about the petty arguments of “but there’s no proof that organic is more nutritious than GMOs, and one method is more affordable than the other. Shopping organic is a refusal to fuel the destructive beast that is Monsanto, the company with the largest global share of their industry and with the greatest influence over policy making.

Monsanto: “American multinational chemical, and agricultural biotechnology corporation headquartered in Creve Coeur, Missouri. It is a leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed and of the herbicide glyphosate, which it markets under the Roundup brand.

The question of the safety of Genetically Modified Organisms is still unresolved in my mind, I don’t have the means to analyze the studies and determine their validity and objectivity of every single one.

The one thing I ask is for the knowledge to make an informed decision. Since the early 1990’s, GM labeling has been mandatory in the European Union, why is that not in place in the U.S.? It’s such a simple reform… that would affect the profits of these agricultural biotechnology companies, I suppose.

Which is when we reach the concept of “revolving doors”: the observation that Monsanto employees move between corporate employment and government positions so effortlessly. From Monsanto Vice President of Public Policy → Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of the U.S. FDA (Michael Taylor), Supervisor of clinical studies of bovine somatotropin (rBST) → Deputy Director of Human Food Safety and Consultative Services, New Animal Drug Evaluation Office, Center for Veterinary Medicine in the FDA (Margaret Miller), and the list goes on. C’mon! It’s not hard to connect their hand in creation and then their effect of putting into practice. The influence they have in barreling their products into market is frightening, and the amount of money they syphon into affecting policy is absurd.

And then the bees! The cause(s) of Colony Collapse Disorder is not confirmed, and I have no intentions of definitively attributing it to the abundant use of pesticides. I mention it because it’s not an issue that can be ignored. Without bees (and apparently wild insects as well) to pollinate crops that bud, the agricultural system would be decimated; we would be without the seed protecting substances that we consume, also known as fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Click on the photo to find out what would disappear. No way this New Englander will readily give up apple picking in the fall. *Fun fact: WFM University Heights was my Whole Foods of choice for two years while residing in Providence.

Whole Foods Market University Heights' produce department with and without items dependent on pollinator populations.  (PRNewsFoto/Whole Foods Market)
Whole Foods Market University Heights’ produce department with and without items dependent on pollinator populations. (PRNewsFoto/Whole Foods Market)

Here’s the thing about Monsanto. They are the quick fix. That is their Modus Operandi. The scariest example is Agent Orange. Manufactured by Monsanto Corp. and Dow Chemical, this toxic mix of 2 herbicides was used to reduce brush in order to easily see the targets of the U.S. Military, and to kill their crops during the Vietnam War. Cue quick fix. The lasting effects Agent Orange has had on U.S. veterans and the resident populations exposed 50+ years later is unbelievably horrific. I cannot describe it with my words, look at the pictures and you’ll understand and never forget. While Monsanto’s agricultural work essentially results in the increased efficiency of food production, providing food for our ever increasing populations (cue quick fix), that is all only attainable by the dumping of pesticides and herbicides, disrupting surrounding ecosystems. The consequences we will have to deal with from developing herbicide resistance, degradation of the soil microorganisms, surrounding land and water habitats are steadily presenting themselves. Though this is true for much of agribusiness in general, not exclusively Monsanto.

image

It all sounds like a ridiculous Hollywood movie. The amount of corruption and ill-intentions running through the veins of this company echoes fiction, bouncing between the genres of sci-fi and horror. Unfortunately Hollywood is such a successfully distracting machine that the juicier and actually damaging dramas occurring every day are constantly missed. Maybe we’ll soon see a Scorsese directed “Wolf of AgriBusiness”!

p.s. In light of all the NSA issues hitting the news these days, I would like to send a shout out to the very special NSA agent who was undoubtedly alerted by all the red flags of my search history for writing this blog… I hope you enjoy the post! 😉

1/8/13 edit:
Stumbled on this excellent essay (Michael Pollan tweeted it). Addresses the incredibly manipulated reporting and scientific consensus on GMOs.