Last night at Westchester’s Emelin Theater, I lectured on RBG, a new documentary about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was beyond reassuring to discuss this well-mannered, succinct, intellectually rigorous, even-handed, courageous, tenacious, and scrupulous woman. Even more reassuring to watch scenes of her working out vigorously with a trainer at age 85.
We need the Justice to live to a biblical age—200, even 250. Maybe clone herself too. But right now, she’s still a key cog in the U.S. government, the ultimate antidote to this political climate of hot air, hot heads, (not) hot messes. As I zoomed back into the city, the traffic a mere trickle at that hour, I looked at the spiny diamonds of the city skyline and just grinned.
It’s still ours.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. The world–especially the United–is still going to hell in a handbasket. But I am starting to think my prediction that Trump and his cronies will exit the White House in cuffs will be realized. Better yet, every day I continue to work on a book I’ve wanted to write for decades. Today I already have penned 1,600 words, and now am swilling an extraordinary spicy turkey sandwich and a post-work glass of vino. On my speakers Marc Dorsy is crooning: “Somewhere in life there’s a joy to be/Between the hope and reality.” I feel the extraordinary solidarity of my girlfriends far and near, foremothers alive and dead, and Miss Grace, sitting pretty on my legs. O, if money didn’t exist, I’d be the happiest 47-year-old in all the land.
Yesterday I did a full Angels in America immersion–10 hours in Midtown for Parts 1 and 2. I scored cheapo tickets on TDF.com and into the Neil Simon Theater I smuggled water, sliced apples, nuts, whiskey, and lavender water in case my neighbors had hygiene challenges. (They didn’t, but because they were tuna sandwich smugglers, the lavender water proved useful anyway.) Outside the theater the city was cloudy and cold and Mercury Retrogradey. Which is to say: there was nowhere I’d rather have been.
Put simply, it was the best theatrical experience of my life—timeless and timely, emboldened and emboldening, transcendent and holy fractured. The staging–neon boxes and steampunk lanterns and ladders sliding up and down, side to side– was extraordinary. Ditto for the performances—Nathan Lane, raw and raging and hilarious, was the best anyone’s ever seen, and even Andrew Garfield’s look-Ma-I’m-playing-gaaaaaay conceit was not appalling once he found his rage. And get this: every straight male role was played by a middle-aged lady wearing a doggedly bad wig!
But all that pales in contrast to the powerful joy of hearing Tony Kushner’s words uttered live for the first time. I honestly believe he is this greatest country’s finest voice. Even in a too-many-cooks-in-a-kitchen mess like “Lincoln,” through his cadences course everything–salt and blood and cum, stone and silt and copper. The sweat and tears of our country and our heavens, basically. As when I saw Hamilton, I felt connected to the groundlings taking in Shakespeare while he was still alive. Connected to all of time.
Yes, Mrs. Lincoln, everything, and I do mean everything, was vibrant and devastating in equal measures. By the time I walked out, my legs barely worked anymore, so it was a good thing I could fly with the play’s 1980s Jewish Mormon homosexual lady angel wings. As I soared, the Eustacia Vye phrase I’ve whispered since I was a teenager flashed like another sign on Broadway: “Send me great love from somewhere, else I shall die.” That great love never did show up for me in the mommy-daddy, one-on-one incarnation I expected. But in New York’s museums, galleries, kitchens, caverns, sidewalks, subways, and, o fuck, stages–all those “melting pots that never melted”–I feel it all the time. I guarantee you everyone in attendance at this play feels it too: great art, great truth-yes, great, great love. It comes in such finely feathered forms.
I woke craving chocolate cake, as I do when PMSing despite having quit refined sugar or dessert of any kind more than three years ago. It’s miraculous that I gave it up, really, given my passion for sweetening things up literally. Am I utterly vice-free? Goddess no; I’m still more of an isolationist than is healthy, I still drink “adult sugar” as a goddaughter once called wine, I’m still waiting for that last sweet-faced narcissist to leave my bloodstream. But the more I detox my family’s favorite drug–and apparently it takes years to do so–the more I recognize it as one of the most odious and culturally accepted tools of end-stage capitalism. Keep them loggy, keep them sick, and fill their spiritual voids with empty calories. People will swallow the worst kind of shit with a spoonful of sugar, and no one rises to fight from the throes of sugar coma.