Monday, January 10, 2022

“So Damned Beautiful and Strong Inside and Out”

Lee Grant Remembers Sidney Poitier

Legendary actor Sidney Poitier died this past Thursday, January 6, at the age of 94.

One of the books I read during my recent COVID quarantine was actress, documentarian, and director Lee Grant’s 2014 autobiography, I Said Yes to Everything. Following is what Grant writes about Poitier and their work together on the groundbreaking 1967 film In the Heat of the Night.

I got a call to meet Norman Jewison about In the Heat of the Night. When I read the script, I knew why he’d sent for me. It was about a businessman who is murdered while on a short trip to the deep South. You never meet the businessman, but the wife, me, is given the news of his death. Sidney Poitier is a Philadelphia detective, held as a suspect because he is black and a Northerner. Rod Steiger is the Southern sheriff.

In his office, I sat across from Norman, who introduced me to Hal Ashby, his longtime friend and the editor of the film. At that point Hal had not directed anything, and he still had a wife in Idaho. We looked at each other across the desk and connected in a hundred ways without exchanging a word. I knew about losing a husband, which was what the role was about, and I let myself go there, sitting across from them. By the time I left, they knew everything they needed to know about me and had found what they were lookng for.

[. . .] A day before I left for the Midwest, where Heat was filming, I’d done a day’s work in Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin’s Divorce American Style. I went from fun and silly to deep and dark as I entered the set.

I had pretty much cocooned myself preparing for the part, had done a lot of remembering and breaking down behind locked bathroom doors. All I wanted was to keep myself in that wounded place through the filming. Rod and Sidney were both my friends, and they went out of their way to greet and hug me, but I needed to keep my concentration internal and in character to play the part.

When Sidney’s character finally gave me the news of my husband’s death, I reacted the way I had in life. I thought if I didn’t hear it, I could turn back the clock and it wouldn’t have happened. My throat closes with pain still as I write.

I kept saying “No, no, no” to block out the reality. Sidney’s sensitivity in that scene was true and unscripted, and he was there for me every step of the way. Sidney’s eyes, concerned, sensitive, his body – I can’t see him as an actor, he was that good. He was so talented, I forgot he was actng. Norman Jewison encouraged this fresh exploration to happen and take its course. Haskell Wexler, the director of photography, was doing handheld, and wherever we went as actors he followed with his camera.

I don’t think there is a better film about race in America than In the Heat of the Night. Rod Steiger’s journey as the Southern sheriff reluctantly brought to enlightenment is so remarkable, and Sidney is so damned beautiful and powerful inside and out.

Lee Grant
Excerpted from I Said Yes to Everything
Blue Rider Press, 2014
pp. 236-237

Related Off-site Links:
In the Heat of the Night Star Lee Grant Remembers Sidney Poitier: “He Was Ahead of Everybody” – Julian Sancton (The Hollywood Reporter, January 8, 2022).
In the Heat of the Night’s Norman Jewison and Lee Grant Say That Sidney Poitier’s Famous Slap Scene “Echoed Around the World” Following Its Release – Sam Joseph Semon (The Daily Mail, January 8, 2022).
Interview With Lee Grant on the Making of In the Heat of the Night – The Criterion Collection via YouTube (2018).
Sidney Poitier Was Far More Than Just a Symbol of Racial Progress – Aisha Harris (NPR News, January 7, 2022).

Saturday, January 08, 2022

“How Can One Overreact to a Mortal Threat to American Democracy?”

This past Thursday was the first anniversary of the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In marking this deplorable event and its aftermath, PBS Newshour host Judy Woodruff moderated a panel discussion which explored the broader effects of the insurrection on American politics, culture and democracy itself.

Woodruff’s guests were George Packer, staff writer at The Atlantic; Jelani Cobb, who covers race and politics at The New Yorker and is a professor of journalism at Columbia University; Stuart Stevens, a former Republican strategist and author of the book, It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump; and Gary Abernathy, a contributing columnist at The Washington Post.

As you’ll see from the video below, it was an informed and insightful (albeit disturbing) discussion and exploration, with all the guests but Abernathy expressing the belief that the January 6 insurrection was a “warning shot” and likely a “harbinger” of things to come.

I should note that although I appreciated what everyome had to offer, I thought it was unfortunate that the panel was comprised only of men. It’s a pity the producers of the show didn’t reach out to some of the many female social and political commentators out there, such as Heather Cox Richardson and Marianne Williamson, both of whom published thought-provoking pieces that same day (see here and here).

One last thing: This post’s title is taken from the following statement by George Packer (right) which he shared during the panel discussion.

How can one overreact to a mortal threat to American democracy, the first in my lifetime that actually seems to be on a road toward making it impossible for the popular will to be respected at the ballot box?

That’s been the goal of all these [Republican-backed] bills passed or debated across legislatures in Georgia, in Arizona, in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, which are not just about restricting access to the ballot, but are about putting elections in the hands of reliable partisans, so that, next time around, we will have states that claim that the election was somehow wrongly held, and that it’s thrown into the hands of a partisan legislature, which sends its own electors to Congress to choose the next president.

That’s exactly the strategy going on right now, and it’s building on what the Republican Party learned from January 6 and these events around it, which was: You need the right people in the right offices to be making these decisions in order to seize power.

They didn’t have it last time. They’re trying to get it next time. I can’t possibly overestimate the seriousness of that.

Following is video of the complete panel discussion, the transcript of which can be found here.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Deeper Perspective on What’s Really Attacking Democracy
“The Coup Attempt on January 6th Was a Warning for What’s to Come If We Don’t Act”
“My Biggest Worry Is for My Country”
Republicans Pose an “Existential Threat” to American Democracy
The Big Switch
Two Conservative Voices of Integrity
David Remnick: Quote of the Day – February 13, 2021
Dan Rather on America’s “Moment of Reckoning”
The Republican Party in a Nutshell
Acknowledging Where We Are
Michael Harriot: Quote of the Day – January 7, 2021
Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol

Related Off-site Links:
Are We Doomed? – George Packer (The Atlantic, December 6, 2021).
A Year Later – Dan Rather (Steady, January 5, 2022).
The January 6th Criminal Case Against Donald Trump – David Rohde (The New Yorker, January 5, 2022).
Trump Thrashed for Lie-Laden Response to Biden’s January 6 Anniversary Address – Brett Wilkins (Common Dreams, January 6, 2022).

UPDATE: The White Christian Nationalism Tearing America Apart at the Seams – Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis (Common Dreams, January 11, 2022).
January 6th Is Just the Beginning of the Assault on American Democracy – Christina Baal-Owens (Common Dreams, January 11, 2022).

Image: Leah Millis / Reuters.

Friday, January 07, 2022

André Holland: “There Are So Many Stories in Our Community That Are Yet to Be Told”

My COVID-19 quarantine continues. I’m now basically symptom-free, and so have been up and about my attic apartment – reading, cleaning and organizing, re-potting some plants, and catching up with a number of Netflix series, including Grace and Frankie, Sex Education, and the rebooted Lost in Space.

I also watched the Netflix movie Passing, the feature directorial debut of Rebecca Hall. The film is based on the 1929 novel of the same name by Nella Larsen, and its title refers to African-Americans who had skin color light enough to be perceived as white, referred to as “passing.” The movie explores the experiences and issues of two mixed-race African-American women, Irene and Clare, who were childhood friends and have taken different paths of racial identification and marriage. Irene (Tessa Thompson) identifies as Black and married a Black doctor (André Holland); Clare (Ruth Negga) passes as white and is married to a racist white man (Alexander Skarsgård), without revealing her African ancestry. The film explores Irene and Clare’s experiences of reuniting as adults.

Passing is a very well-made and thought-provoking film; I definitely recommend it. One reason I appreciated and enjoyed it so much was that it features one of my favorite actors, the talented André Holland. He plays Irene’s husband Brian.

There is an undercurrent of homoerotic desire in the film, one that I picked up on and which the following from Wikipedia insightfully explores in relation to the film’s source material, Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel.

Scholars have identified a homoerotic subtext between Irene and Clare, centered on the erotic undertones in Irene’s descriptions of Clare and appreciation of her beauty. As scholar Deborah McDowell’s writes, “the idea of bringing sexual attraction between two women to full narrative expression is [. . .] too dangerous a move, which helps to explain why critics have missed this aspect of the novel.” In that interpretation, the novel’s central metaphor of “passing” under a different identity “occurs at a surprisingly wide variety of levels,” including sexual. This suggests that there are other forms of “passing” that take place in the novel that is not just based on race. Larsen has a clever way of “deriving its surface theme and central metaphor-passing,” disguising the plots “neatly” and “symmetrically.” The apparently sexless marriage between Brian and Irene (their separate bedrooms and identification as co-parents rather than sexual partners) allow Larsen to “flirt, if only by suggestion, with the idea of a lesbian relationship between [Clare and Irene].”

. . . The character of [Irene’s] husband, Brian, has been subject to a similar interpretation: Irene’s labeling of him as queer and his oft-expressed desire to go to Brazil, a country then widely thought to be more tolerant of homosexuality than the United States was, are given as evidence. It is also shown that Brazil is considered to be a place with more relaxed ideas about race. Irene begins to believe that Clare and Brian are having an affair to hide or distract from her own feelings for Clare. McDowell writes, “the awakening of Irene’s erotic feelings for Clare coincides with Irene’s imagination of an affair between Clare and Brian.” Although she had no reason to accuse him, Irene did so to protect herself from her own sexual desires.

In promoting Passing, André Holland was recently interviewd by Stefan Pape of the movie website, HeyUGuys. In this interview, Andre talks about his personal connection to the film and his admiration for director Rebecca Hall’s work.

André was also recently interviewed by Kimberly Truong of In Style magazine. Following (with added images and links) is an excerpt from Truong’s November 10, 2021 article. Enjoy!


To hear André Holland describe it, he discovered acting by chance, and has been “stumbling forward ever since,” but his filmography has been anything but accidental. The 41-year-old actor has been intentional when it comes to taking on roles, resulting in a KonMari’d CV that’s as interesting as it is unpredictable, ranging from Stephen King horror (Hulu’s Castle Rock) to historical drama (Selma). Perhaps not so coincidentally, Holland has been in two Broadway plays both written by August Wilson: a 2017 production of Jitney and a 2009 staging of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.

“When I’m reading something, first of all, I want to make sure that it doesn’t do anything that denigrates my culture,” he says. He has other questions, of course: is it a project that moves him, something that gives him an opportunity to do things he hasn’t before? Does he believe in the people he’s working with, and in their vision enough to work with them for 12 to 14 hours a day? But at the end of the day, it comes back to his main priority.

“After I’ve gone through all of that, I come back and revisit the question of, is there anything here that denigrates my culture?” he says. “I was just reading this book today called Colorization by Wil Haygood, which is about the history of Black people in Hollywood, and the first chapter is about D.W. Griffith and [the 1915 silent film] The Birth of a Nation, and the damage that film did to Black people. And so I just want to make sure that we’re telling stories that highlight the beauty, the complexity, the joy, the anger – all of the things that we are – but in a real, actual way.”

To that end, Passing, based on Nella Larson’s 1929 novel of the same name, ticked essentially every item on Holland’s list. The Netflix film [which premiered on] November 10, follows Irene (Tessa Thompson) and Clare (Ruth Negga), two light-skinned Black women in 1920s Harlem, the latter of whom has chosen to live and “pass” as a white woman.

Holland says that having grown up in the South, he was familiar with the idea of passing, and heard stories from his parents and grandparents about people they knew who had passed. As Brian, Irene’s husband, he enlivens the screen opposite Thompson, their chemistry coming to a head in a scene in which Brian and Irene argue over whether or not to talk to their children about the dangers of the racial discrimination they’re bound to face.

“It felt like a conversation that I had with my parents, it brought back memories of that,” he recalls. “It also felt like a conversation that people are having today and sadly will likely be having tomorrow. I’m not a parent yet, but I hope to be one day, and I felt a lot of sadness around what it must be like to be having this debate about how to keep your Black children safe in this country.”

The film is actress Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut, and Holland says the experience of working with her in this new capacity was revelatory for him: "Seeing her on set as a writer and as a director revealed to me that I also have an appetite to write and direct my own stories," he says. “Seeing her in action made me think, 'OK, not only can I do this, but I also feel like I have to do this.'”

Holland already has experience working behind the scenes, having produced High Flying Bird, the 2019 sports drama he also starred in [right]. Through his production company, Harper Road Films, he’s working on over a dozen different projects, one of which he’s directing, and a slew that he’s slated to star in as well.

“Storytelling was a part of my tradition growing up, I love stories maybe more than acting,” he explains. “Producing, I think, has made me feel as though I have more agency over the kinds of stories that I want to tell. It's given me the opportunity to learn things about history and about culture that I didn't know before. It's been really, really thrilling.”

Holland hopes to elevate stories he believes in, and to make space for new voices to come in. He talks excitedly about a meeting he had earlier in the day with a writer, telling me, “This amazing brother was a scholar, teaches African American history, and we were just kind of riffing on all the story ideas we both have and realizing there are so many stories in our community, in our culture, that are yet to be told, you know what I’m saying?”

In a sense, he’s now in the position of opening doors for others the way Moonlight did for him. The Oscar-winning film, he says, allowed him to meet filmmakers he thinks he otherwise wouldn’t have met, and to be sent scripts and opportunities he remains grateful for.

Above and below: Andre Holland in Moonlight (2016).

Moonlight made me feel hungry to have more experiences like that, where you make something that feels important, relevant, that has something to say,” he says. “But the truth is that projects like those don’t come along every day, you know? In some ways, there was a little bit of disappointment, I think, on my part, just because I had such a wonderful time working on Moonlight and I wanted to recreate that experience.”

He might have that chance now that he’s re-teamed with [Moonlight director] Barry Jenkins for a new follow-up season of The Knick, which Jenkins is picking up from the series’ previous director, Steven Soderbergh. But otherwise, Holland is taking things into his own hands.

Right: André Holland in The Knick (2014-2015).

“That’s where producing feels like a lifeline because it’s like, well, maybe rather than waiting for something like [Moonlight] to come along again, what about getting in there and trying to figure out a way to make those things happen, to put those projects together?” he says. “So that makes me feel a little less anxious and yeah, it makes me feel excited.”

To read Kimberly Tuong’s interview of Andre Holland in its entirety, click here.


I must admit that the prospect of The Knick returning is something I’m very much looking forward to. I enjoyed this series, and André’s character was my favorite. He played Dr. Algernon Edwards, an African-American assistant chief surgeon at a fictionalized version of the Knickerbocker Hospital (the Knick) in New York during the early twentieth century.

Algernon manages a secret after-hours clinic in the basement for African-Americans, who ordinarily are turned away from the hospital. He also encounters constant racism from white doctors and patients, all the while engaging in a clandestine relationship with Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance), head of the Knick’s social welfare office and daughter of Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines), a prominent member of the Knick’s board of directors.

Above: Juliet Rylance and André Holland in The Knick (2014-2015).

Above: André’s Dr. Algernon Edwards in a rare relaxed moment.

Above: A more typical look for the beleaguered Dr. Edwards.

Above: André Holland as Dr. Algernon Edwards and Clive Owen as Dr. John Thackery in The Knick (2014-2015). Reports Rodrigo Perez: “Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh’s turn-of-the-century medical drama ran for two seasons on Cinemax from 2014-2015. Director Barry Jenkins and The Knick co-star André Holland are discussing the idea of reviving the series for a third, or brand new season now starring Holland’s Dr. Edwards character (Clive Owen’s lead character died at the end of season two).” Perez also notes that the show’s original creators, Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, have written a pilot episode for the third season.

Interestingly, André’s character in The Knick, the Harvard-educated and Paris-trained African-American surgeon Dr. Algernon Edwards, is said to be based on the historical Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (left) and Dr. Louis T. Wright. The lives and accomplishments of these two medical pioneers are among the many stories of African-Americans that are rarely told in films or TV series – something that André Holland is clearly dedicated to rectifying.

I conclude this post with a 2014 interview with André in which he talks about his character in The Knick.

For more of André Holland at The Wild Reed, see:
Vulnerability Is Power
Stephen A. Russell on Moonlight

Related Off-site Links:
André Holland Is Taking the Reins – Kimberly Truong (In Style, November 10, 2021).
André Holland: “I Grew Up Feeling Afraid of White Folks” – Dan Einav (The Financial Times, October 21, 2021, 2020).
We Need to Give André Holland His Flowers – Ineye Komonibo (Refinery 29, May 8, 2020).
André Holland Says The Eddy Isn’t a Musical, But Tells a New Narrative Through Music – Kristen Lopez (IndieWire, May 6, 2020)
The Eddy’s André Holland: “I Still Have a Lot to Learn, and a Lot to Offer” – Maxine Wally (W Magazine, May 4, 2020).
High Flying Bird: Andre Holland Explains How He Pitched a Movie to Steven Soderbergh – Tambay Obenson (Indie Wire, February 8, 2019).
Actor André Holland Explores: “Where I Fit, How I Fit, If I Fit”Fresh Air (August 22, 2018).
Othello Review – Mark Rylance and André Holland Get to the Heart of the Play – Michael Billington (The Guardian, August 2, 2018).
Here’s What Critics Are Saying About Hulu's André Holland-Led Stephen King Series, Castle Rock – Monique Jones (Shadow and Act, July 25, 2018).
The Knick’s André Holland: “I Don’t Want to Be 'the Black Friend'” – Sarah Hughes (The Guardian, October 13, 2015).

Thursday, January 06, 2022

A Deeper Perspective on What’s Really Attacking American Democracy

Writes author and activist Marianne Williamson . . .

The real “attack on our democracy” wasn’t just one event that took place a year ago; it’s the larger pattern of legalized bribery that’s destroying our democracy from the inside. Every time resources of hope and opportunity are transferred from the many to the few, our democracy is attacked. The main point of attack is the systemic corruption that goes on in that Capitol building every single day.

. . . The real dichotomy in American politics is not between the Right and the Left; it’s between the powerful and the powerless. The political-media industrial complex, headquartered in both parties, has created the Left-Right culture wars to distract Americans from the truth of who and what actually oppresses them. Our fellow citizens are not our enemy. Greed is our enemy. Abusive power is our enemy. Injustice is our enemy. Unfettered corporate influence is our enemy.

And those are the things that have been attacking our democracy. Many of the people who so sanctimoniously sang democracy’s praises today, standing on the Capitol steps with those stupid fake candles in their hands, are for all practical purposes but handmaidens to democracy’s enemies. No legislator who takes money from Big Pharma or insurance companies; gun manufacturers, Big Chem or Big Ag; Big Oil or the MIC [media industrial complex] has any right to call themselves a defender of our democracy. Not today, and not any day. Nor does it matter any more that they don’t see that. We do.

Marianne Williamson
Excerpted from “January 6
January 6, 2022

NEXT: “How Can One Overreact to a
Mortal Threat to American Democracy?”

Related Off-site Links:
Congress Closes Day of Events Marking Anniversary of January 6 Riot With Candlelight Vigil – Kate Scanlon (Washington Examiner, January 6, 2022).
The Reckoning That Didn’t Come – Susan Milligan and Lisa Hagen (U.S. News, January 7, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
“The Coup Attempt on January 6th Was a Warning for What’s to Come If We Don’t Act”
Will Democrats Never Learn?
Norman Solomon: Quote of the Day – July 8, 2021
Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
“Two of the Most Dedicated and Enlightened Heroes of Present Day America”
Inauguration Eve Musings
Biden’s Win: “As Much the Sounding of An Alarm As a Time for Self-Congratulations”
We Cannot Allow a Biden Win to Mean a Return to “Brunch Liberalism”

Opening image: On January 6, 2022, Democrats held a day of events to mark the attack on the U.S. Capitol of a year ago, including speeches, personal testimony, a panel of historians, videos, moments of silence, and a candlelight vigil. (Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

“The Coup Attempt on January 6th Was a Warning for What’s to Come If We Don’t Act”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) on the First Anniversary
of the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol

Today marks one year since the attacks of January 6th. I will never forget the experience of fearing for my life, my fellow members, and staff on a day designed to show the strength of our democracy. I will never forget the call I made to the father of my children, asking him to tell my children I loved them if I couldn’t.

But the insurrection of January 6th was not solely significant for the havoc that it caused, the property destroyed, or the lives it cost. No, January 6th was significant because it was an attack on the seat of our democracy, specifically designed to undermine, interrupt and overturn the most fundamental of democratic processes – an election – on the day its results were to be certified. With each passing day, it becomes more and more clear that the outgoing President of the United States planned and executed the coup attempt, refusing a peaceful transition of power, pressuring election officials and his own administration to overturn results, and organizing a rally and march on the seat of government when his other efforts failed.

I know personally what happens when a government fails, civil strife takes hold, and people are displaced. And I know that coup attempts are rarely one-time affairs.

In fact, as we speak, Donald Trump’s allies in statehouses across the country are seeking to erect barriers to voting – largely affecting low-income people, people of color, and seniors. If that’s not enough, they are stripping power from nonpartisan election officials and rewriting state laws to seize partisan control over election certification.

The next coup is not only possible; it has already begun.

But the causes of the attempts to overturn our democracy run much deeper than Donald Trump. For decades, our institutions have been failing to meet the needs of the people they are tasked to represent. Inequality has skyrocketed, as has the cost of basics like healthcare and education, while the average American’s wages have not kept pace. Self-interested elites have prioritized profit and greed over the common good. Trust in our government’s ability to tackle the biggest problems we face – from healthcare to climate to food insecurity – has cratered as a result. Borrowing from demagogues around the world, authoritarians like Donald Trump filled the void, offering false promises while scapegoating immigrants, and religious and racial minorities.

“A democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience,” John Dewey once said.

To stop the next coup, we must reinvigorate the democratic experience. That requires, at a minimum, passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and strengthening election laws around the country to prevent the next coup. But it also requires reforming our institutions so that they are once again responsive to the core demands of our constituents. That requires abolishing fundamentally antidemocratic elements of our system like the Senate filibuster and the electoral college, and it requires major investments in childcare, education, health and climate like the Build Back Better Act.

The coup attempt on January 6th was a warning for what’s to come if we don’t act. The work to prevent the next coup begins now.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)
January 6, 2022

NEXT: A Deeper Perspective
On What’s Really Attacking
American Democracy

Related Off-site Links:
Ilhan Omar Warns “Next Coup Not Only Possible; It Has Already Begun” – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, January 6, 2022).
A Year After January 6, Divisions and Disinformation Persist – Mark Zdechlik (MPR News, January 6, 2022).
“Democracy Was Attacked” During January 6 Insurrection, Pesident Biden Says on Anniversary – Associated Press via PBS Newshour, January 6, 2022).
Noam Chomsky: GOP’s Soft Coup Is Still Underway One Year After Capitol Assault – C.J. Polychroniou (TruthOut, January 6, 2022).
A Year Later, Progressives Warn “Another January 6” Is Coming If Voting Rights Not Secured – Kenny Stancil (Common Dreams, January 6, 2022).
The Crackdown After January 6 May End Up Being More Dangerous Than the Riot Itself – Branko Marcetic (In These Times, January 6, 2022).
Trump Thrashed for Lie-Laden Response to Biden’s January 6 Anniversary Address – Brett Wilkins (Common Dreams, January 6, 2022).
A Year Later – Dan Rather (Steady, January 5, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol
Michael Harriot: Quote of the Day – January 7, 2021
Acknowledging Where We Are
Inauguration Eve Musings
The Republican Party in a Nutshell
Dan Rather on America’s “Moment of Reckoning”
David Remnick: Quote of the Day – February 13, 2021
Refuting Surface Level Comparisons Between the Insurrection at the Capitol and Black Lives Matter Protests
Two Conservative Voices of Integrity
The Big Switch
Republicans Pose an “Existential Threat” to American Democracy
“My Biggest Worry Is for My Country”

For more of Rep. Ilhan Omar at The Wild Reed, see:
Juan Cole: Quote of the Day – February 11, 2019
Ilhan Omar on The Daily Show
Progressive Perspectives on the Ilhan Omar “Controversy”
Ilhan Omar: Quote of the Day – April 13, 2019
Ilhan Omar:Stepping Into Her Power
To Whom the Future of America Belongs
Ricardo Levins Morales on the “Deepest Political Fault Line” Separating Democrats Ilhan Omar and Antone Melton-Meaux
Rep. Ilhan Omar Responds to President Trump’s Authoritarian Threats
Progressive Perspectives on the 2020 Election Results
Ilhan Omar: Quote of the Day – January 13, 2021
Ilhan Omar: Quote of the Day – May 29, 2021

Image: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) attends a news conference on Capitol Hill on November 30, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

An Epiphany Blessing

We are all kings and queens in the palace of the heart!

May all that is holy and wise in this world forever shine radiant beyond the realms of ignorance and malice, free from division and the arrogance of conjuring small victories in the name of the ego, yet forever recognising the holy spirit in all sentient beings as being worthy of respect and kindness.

Deja Hu
via Facebook
January 6, 2022

See also the related Wild Reed posts:
The Feast of the Epiphany
What We Can Learn from the Story of the Magi
Our Story Too
We Three . . . Queens
A Story of Searching and Discovery
The Onward Call
The Magi and Our Journey to Christ
Sufism: A Call to Awaken
Don't Go Back to Sleep
"Joined at the Heart": Robert Thompson on Christianity and Sufism
Wakey Wakey

Image: "Worship of the Kings" by Ángel Zárraga (1886-1946).

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Photo of the Day

Related Off-site Links:
Cold Press: Arctic Blast Set to Deliver Subzero Temps – Nicole Mitchell (MPR News, January 5, 2022).
Tuesday Snowstorm Brings Another Arctic Blast – Nicole Mitchell (MPR News, January 4, 2022).

UPDATE: Arctic Sky Show: Subzero Temperatures Trigger Sun Dogs Around Minnesota – Paul Huttner (MPR News, January 7, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Blizzard of Epic Proportions (2020)
After the Season’s First Snowstorm, a Walk Through the Neighborhood (2019)
Winter Storm (2016)
Winter Storm (2012)

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Richard Wolff on the Necessity of Transforming Capitalism

I’m currently in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 this past weekend. As I note in a previous post, my symptoms are very mild, and so I’m able to be up and about doing things.

One thing I did today was watch a video I’ve long wanted to watch but had not until now found the time to do so. It’s an hour-long interview from last August with economist Richard Wolff (right) from author and activist Marianne Williamson’s podcast, Transform.

Wolff is Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School in New York. He specializes in economic methodology and class analysis.

In his conversation with Williamson, Wolff analyzes the deficiencies of modern capitalism, articulating the benefits of a socialist system and the pathway to a more equitable society. As you’ll see, Wolff promotes a gradual transformation involving a shift in consciousness from profits before people to people above all else.

Related Off-site Links:
Richard D. Wolff – Richard Wolff’s YouTube Channel.
Socialism or Capitalism? Arthur Brooks and Richard Wolff Debate – Intercollegiate Studies Institute via YouTube (June 1, 2021).
How to Fix Democracy: An Interview With Richard Wolff – Bertelsmann Foundation via YouTube (May 26, 2020).
A Debate Between Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman and Socialist Economist Richard WolffDemocracy Now! (February 24, 2020).
Capitalism vs. Socialism: A Soho Forum Debate Between Richard Wolff and Gene Epstein – Reason TV via YouTube (November 14, 2019).
Democracy at Work: Curing Capitalism – Richard Wolff (Talks at Google, June 28, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Capitalism on Trial
Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Democratic Socialism
Pope Francis: Quote of the Day – November 28, 2014
Something to Think About – November 26, 2013
Jonty Langley: Quote of the Day – August 17, 2011
Terry Eagleton: Quote of the Day – March 28, 2011
In a Blow to Democracy, U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Corporate Personhood
A Socialist Response to the Financial Crisis
Remembering the “Radical Ethic” of the Catholic Worker Movement
John Pilger on Resisting Empire
John le Carré’s Dark Suspicions
R.I.P. Neoclassical Economics

Image: Bertelsmann Foundation.

Sunday, January 02, 2022

A COVID Start to the New Year

Well, 2022 is certainly off to a memorable start for me! . . . I tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday.

I’m not sure which variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, I have, but if it’s the Delta variant than I’m sure I have the COVID vaccine and booster shot to thank for my symptoms being so mild. It’s like I have the flu or a bad head cold. No shortness of breath and no loss of taste or smell; just a headache and overall body aches, which over-the-counter cold & flu tablets are helping relieve.

If, on the other and, it’s the new Omicron variant, then it’s effects are known to be not as severe as the Delta variant, though it’s way more contagious. Given that Omicron is currently spreading at “lightning speed” throughout the U.S., I’m thinking it’s the variant I have.

Regardless of which variant I’ve contracted, I’ll be quarantining and away from work for the next 10 days. I intend to make the most of it: reading books I’ve long been meaning to read, doing some exercise, cleaning and tidying my attic apartment, maybe starting to journal again. My friends who live downstairs have been wonderful, bringing me soup and offering to get groceries. Many others have made similar offers.

Overall, I feel very fortunate and very well taken care of. I wish everyone who contracts COVID could have it so easy in terms of symptoms. Sadly, from my work in the hospital setting, I know first-hand that this is not the case. I also know that the global COVID-19 (or coronavirus) pandemic is still very much ongoing.

So, my friends, mask up, get the vaccine if it’s available to you, and help reduce the spread.

Related Off-site Links:
Omicron Is Spreading at Lightning Speed. Scientists Are Trying to Figure Out Why – Will Stone (MPR News, December 31, 2021).
New Year's Eve Muted by Omicron; Many Hoping for Better 2022 – Associated Press via MPR News (December 31, 2021).
Health Experts Warn of "Unprecedented Number of Social Disruptions" Amid Omicron Surge – Kenny Stancil (Common Dreams, January 2, 2022).

UPDATES: Latest on COVID-19 in Minnesota: New, Active Case Counts Climbing AgainMPR News (January 3, 2022).
Omicron COVID-19 Is Spreading Around the World Like Wildfire, But Some Countries Are More Worried Than OthersABC News (January 3, 2022).
What the Numbers Tell Us, Or Don't Tell Us, About the Omicron Surge – Mary Louise Kelly, Megan Lim and Christopher Intagliata (NPR News, January 3, 2022).
Omicron Surge Poses Political Peril for Democrats – Julia Manchester (The Hill, January 3, 2022).
Latest on COVID-19 in Minnesota: New Cases Spike as Omicron SurgesMPR News (January 4, 2022).
These Are the Numbers Health Officials Are Watching At This Point in the Pandemic – Mary Louise Kelly, Megan Lim and Christopher Intagliata (NPR News, January 4, 2022).
More Than One Million Americans Were Diagnosed With COVID Over the Long Holiday Weekend – Rachel Treisman (NPR News, January 4, 2022).
U.S. Tops One Million New Daily COVID-19 Cases – A Global RecordAljazeera (January 4, 2022).
Why Are So Many Vaccinated People Getting COVID-19 Lately? – The Associated Press via NPR News (January 4, 2022).
As Active Cases Leap in Minnesota; Hospitals “Literally Full”MPR News (January 7, 2022).
Minnesota Hospitals Report Hundreds of Staff Out with COVID – Catharine Richert (MPR News, January 9, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Renae Gage: Quote of the Day – November 30, 2021
COVID Observations From a General Surgeon
Richard LaFortune: Quote of the Day – August 20, 2021
Something to Lament
A Pandemic Year
Out and About – Spring 2020
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
The Calm Before the Storm
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It’s Okay to Be Heartbroken
Sonya Renee Taylor: Quote of the Day – April 18, 2020
Examining the Link Between Destruction of Biodiversity and Emerging Infectious Diseases
The Lancet Weighs-in on the Trump Administration’s “Incoherent” Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic
Memes of the Times

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

Shining On . . . Into the New Year

Heaven’s on the inside,
That is what I find.
. . . We are never far,
I am a native of your heart.
Light is who you are,
You love me like the stars above.
Never giving up on me,
Shining your light on me.
I’m where I’m supposed to be.

Something special for New Year’s Eve at The Wild Reed. . . . It’s the video of the live version of “Shine On” by Luke James (left). It’s a beautiful performance, one that also features Miami’s Nu Deco Ensemble, musician Sensei Bueno, and guest vocalist Samoht.

I realized the other day that I've been drawn to the imagery of light quite a bit recently. That’s because lately I’ve been seeking to focus very intentionally on the sacred or divine source (the “cosmic consciousness,” some might say) that is both within and beyond me. In my view, the connecting to and living from one’s deepest, truest Self, requires an openness to and relationship with this divine source, one which many people refer to as “God,” and which since ancient times, and across religions and cultures, has been symbolized by light.

You know, when I meditate for five minutes every morning at my prayer shrine, I trust that I am aligning my inner divine light (my deepest, truest Self) with the “Living Light” (yet another name for the divine source) which is ulimately beyond me and which infuses all of creation.

With the awareness that I am both aligned with and an embodiment of the sacred, that I am, in other words, with and of the Living Light, I am ready (blessed, if you will) to go out and shine this transforming light upon others through my words and actions, and even my “sweet intentions.” I trust that my “shining on” helps bring balance, healing, peace, and love to the world, and that it cannot but help encourage others to get in touch with and live from (to whatever extent they’re able) their inner light; their source of and connection to the divine. They too can then choose to “shine on,” and in doing so, spread the light ever further.

Friends, may our living as one with the Living Light
and our unique ways of “shining on,”
transform us and the world in 2022!

Baby, you’re God’s sign
Heaven’s on the inside
That is what I find
Whenever I wait, collide
You’re my beam of light

Shine on me
Shine on
And wash away my darkest days
Shine on me
Shine on

We are never far
I am a native of your heart
Light is who you are
You love me like the stars above
Never giving up on me
Shining your light on me
I’m where I’m supposed to be

When you
Oh, when you
Shine on
Shine on me
All over me

Shine your light on me
Shine on me, yeah

Following is D-Money’s Soul Bounce review of “Shine On.”

Luke James has an undeniable talent, and his live shows are not to be missed. However, more than a year of living through this pandemic has all of us yearning for live experiences that may or may not occur depending on how things go down in the coming weeks. Luke wasn’t going to leave us hanging, though, retooling songs from his to feel love/d [studio album] alongside Miami’s Nu Deco Ensemble for his new live album A Live Sensation. He’s also giving us a taste of the recently released project with a video for the live version of “Shine On.”

The song was already a standout on the 2020 release, but this live version shows exactly why Luke is a musical beast. Assisted by the orchestral ensemble and musician Sensei Bueno, the song takes on a form reminiscent of the innovative and musically rich soul sound of the ’70s. The crooner reminds us of a Let’s Get It On era Marvin Gaye here, but he gives us even more by inviting fellow singer Samoht [right] into the fold, turning the track into a duet as both powerhouse singers milk every ounce of emotion from the song in the empty concert hall the visual was filmed in.

It all ends with Luke sitting at the keys to play while he and Samoht sweetly ad-libs against the soft sound of strings before the clip fades to black.

“Shine On” is but one of nine tracks that get made over on A Live Sensation, with each gaining a new life and perspective with their reimaginings.

See also the precious Wild Reed posts:
Aligning With the Living Light
The Light Within
The Most Sacred and Simple Mystery of All
The Source Is Within You
I Need Do Nothing . . . I Am Open to the Living Light
Chadwick Boseman and That “Heavenly Light”
Like the Sun

See also:
Carrying It On . . . Into the New Year (2021)
Jane Fonda on the “Eye-opening, Vision-improving Year” That Was 2020
A Blessing for the New Year (2020)
A Blessing for the New Year (2019)
Jane Goodall's New Year Message (2018)
A New Year (2017)
Move Us, Loving God
Andrew Harvey on Radical, Divine Passion in Action
For 2015, Three “Generous Promises”
Threshold Musings (2013)
A Song and Challenge for 2012

Previously featured musicians at The Wild Reed:
Dusty Springfield | David Bowie | Kate Bush | Maxwell | Buffy Sainte-Marie | Prince | Frank Ocean | Maria Callas | Loreena McKennitt | Rosanne Cash | Petula Clark | Wendy Matthews | Darren Hayes | Jenny Morris | Gil Scott-Heron | Shirley Bassey | Rufus Wainwright | Kiki Dee | Suede | Marianne Faithfull | Dionne Warwick | Seal | Sam Sparro | Wanda Jackson | Engelbert Humperdinck | Pink Floyd | Carl Anderson | The Church | Enrique Iglesias | Yvonne Elliman | Lenny Kravitz | Helen Reddy | Stephen Gately | Judith Durham | Nat King Cole | Emmylou Harris | Bobbie Gentry | Russell Elliot | BØRNS | Hozier | Enigma | Moby (featuring the Banks Brothers) | Cat Stevens | Chrissy Amphlett | Jon Stevens | Nada Surf | Tom Goss (featuring Matt Alber) | Autoheart | Scissor Sisters | Mavis Staples | Claude Chalhoub | Cass Elliot | Duffy | The Cruel Sea | Wall of Voodoo | Loretta Lynn and Jack White | Foo Fighters | 1927 | Kate Ceberano | Tee Set | Joan Baez | Wet, Wet, Wet | Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy | Fleetwood Mac | Jane Clifton | Australian Crawl | Pet Shop Boys | Marty Rhone | Josef Salvat | Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri | Aquilo | The Breeders | Tony Enos | Tupac Shakur | Nakhane Touré | Al Green | Donald Glover/Childish Gambino | Josh Garrels | Stromae | Damiyr Shuford | Vaudou Game | Yotha Yindi and The Treaty Project | Lil Nas X | Daby Touré | Sheku Kanneh-Mason | Susan Boyle | D’Angelo | Little Richard | Black Pumas | Mbemba Diebaté | Judie Tzuke | Seckou Keita | Rahsaan Patterson | Black | Ash Dargan | ABBA | The KLF and Tammy Wynette