|photo of RuPaul by David Shankbone|
Friday, June 28, 2013
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Remember Rod Serling's immortal words, "You're traveling through another dimension -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's a signpost up ahead: your next stop...”-- the The Transit Zone! Planning on visiting the Taj Mahal, The Great Wall, The Terracotta Warriors, The Great Barrier Reef. You may have second thoughts after hearing about the pleasures of the transit zone of the Moscow Airport. Besides a T.G.I. Friday’s and Burger King, you might can enjoy celebrity spotting like guess who? Our modern day Clark and Lois, Ed Snowden and his WikiLeaks sidekick Sarah Harrison (“A Stakeout Grinds On in Airport Limbo,” NYT, 6/25/13) And then there are all the locked doors. Behind one of them is, you guessed it, Ed Snowden. The transit area of the Moscow airport is the place to go if you want to be free, at least according to Vladimir Putin, who has declared it the Cayman Islands for those who are seeking freedom from their political liens. There have been rumors that Ed Snowden and Sarah Harrison are actually rehearsing Chekhov’s The Three Sisters behind one of those locked doors. You remember the line "to Moscow?" It was the fate of Chekhov’s three sisters never to satisfy their dreams, but in the contemporary updating not getting there is a boon since it means our two feckless characters can remain in The Transit Zone!
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Taking the cue from Vladimir Putin who has said that “As a transit passenger, he (Ed Snowden) has the right to buy a ticket and fly wherever he wants,” (“Vladimir Putin: Edward Snowden Still in Moscow Airport Transit Zone, Won’t Be Extradited,” The Huffington Post, 6/25/13) apocryphal travel agents with suspiciously suggestive names are vying to work on his itinerary. The American chain Liberty Travel may not have yet gotten into the fray, but amongst the contenders are such mythological giants as Fugitive Travel, Lost Continent, Trudge the Path of Happy Destiny, Witness Protection Tours, Vanishing Point and New Horizon Line Travel. Whether some of these fictitious agencies will be contacting Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic remains to be seen, as it’s unclear whether Mr. Putin’s statement about Ed Snowden being free to go where he wants applies to outer space. For instance, if Snowden were to be landed on the moon, could he still be extradited by United States authorities (ditto the International Space station or comets which may be approaching the orbit of the earth). Some other potential destinations that fictitious travel agents might be considering include Waziristan (the mountainous region of Pakistan favored by the Taliban), Somalia (home of the sea piracy industry) and Pyongyang, which are all considered extradition proof by most experts in the field. One of the nicest properties that is also on the list is the peak of Mount Everest, from which no fugitives have ever been known to be extradited—though as a vacation property its magnificent views are often obscured by inclement weather. Meanwhile, further questions have been asked about whether Snowden will be able to transfer U.S. course credits to universities in countries where he might be offered asylum. For instance if he had ever taken an introductory course in Public Speaking at an American or European University would he get course credit in Havana or Quito?
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
At first it appeared to be a paper work snafu that enabled Ed Snowden to avoid being extradited from Hong Kong for espionage. However, soon other troublesome issues started to emerge concerning the Snowden affair. Ed Snowden has ostensibly been doing a lot of economy class traveling. The Times had a nice little chart on the front page of Monday’s print edition, showing how Snowden went from Honolulu to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Moscow, and then showing hypothetical routes to Havana and Caracas and Quito (“U.S. Traces Path as N.S.A. Leaker Flees Hong Kong,” 6/24/13), but one of the unanswered questions relates to his rewards points situation. The Times reported that despite disclaimers on the part of the Hong Kong authorities, it was the Chinese government who was apparently responsible for enabling Snowden (“China Said to Have Made Call to Let Leader Depart,” NYT, 6/23/13). In addition, The Times also reported that Julian Assange “met last week with Ecuador’s foreign minister to support Mr. Snowden’s asylum request,” (“Offering Snowden Aid, WikiLeaks Get Back in the Game,” NYT, 6/23/13). In the same article, The Times described how Sarah Harrison, “a British WikiLeaks activist” was with Mr. Snowden “on the Aeroflot airliner that carried him on Sunday from Hong Kong to Moscow.” What's most significant however is that neither WikiLeaks, nor any of the countries involved in Snowden’s odyssey including the U.S. has dealt with the irksome matter of the rewards points. If you commit espionage in one country, can you receive rewards points on the airline of the country which is offering asylum? Aeroflot does have a bonus program and the question of rewards points for fugitives is a matter that will ultimately have to be dealt with by the ICC at The Hague.
Monday, June 24, 2013
|Ed Koch at Christening of U.S. Lake Champlain|
Friday, June 21, 2013
Fundamentalism has it right, were not the belonging and other satisfactions it provides bought at the cost of autonomy and individual freedom. And Fill the Void, which deals with the Ultra-Orthodox Haredim of Tel Aviv, should warm the hearts of the Christian and Muslim counterparts of the characters portrayed in the film. On a global level fundamentalism creates the conditions under which men and women can function and thrive. For example, the attraction to sexual differentiation and prescribed roles which brings many who have strayed back into the fold (and which lies at the heart of many these ritual bound credos) can be understood as a relief for refugees from modernity with its war torn sexuality and Pandora’s Box of ambivalence. While remaining totally faithful to the world it describes, Rama Burshtein’s film complicates matters, not so much extrinsically by virtue of her characters living in the 21st Century, but intrinsically by playing on the struggle between tradition and free will. Free will is of course a very Jewish idea and even within the confines of the traditional society Fill the Void inhabits, one is almost disconcerted by its presence. In a nutshell, the void of the title is the result of the death of Esther (Renana Raz) during the birth of her son Mordechai. Yes the film takes place on Purim and as we all know Esther and Mordechai are key figures in the Purim tale. However, the real question is how Yochay (Yiftach Klein), Esther’s grieving husband, will raise his child. Will he move to Belgium where a prospective new bride awaits him or will Esther’s younger sister Shira (Hadas Yaron) become Yochay’s new wife? In one sense you have a classic Yiddish melodrama of the kind that played on Second Avenue in the Golden Age of Yiddish theater. Yet there are differences, the Yiddish theater portrayed a secular world and this is a religious one. The language of the movie is Hebrew. And most importantly the repertoire of emotion that eventually pulls the heartstrings of both the characters and the audience would have been almost biblical, were it not for the fact that it was so shockingly modern.