Sunday, November 27, 2016



We can’t get rid of him, now.  He’s everywhere. On all the newscasts, on the Internet, on every page of the newspapers.  Just like prewar Germany.    

Here, I’ve copied a letter from the Los Angeles Times: 

“We judge prewar Germans harshly for not seeing Adolf Hitler’s racism as categorically disqualifying. A large minority of German citizens voted for him because he offered the country hope, and they overlooked his racism.

A large minority of Americans have just elected a president who offered them hope, overlooking an attitude toward race and torture that ought to have been categorically disqualifying.

We should be just as concerned about the one as we were about the other. Neither had any prior experience in governing. Both showed dictatorial tendencies early. Both were persuaded that their passionate followers in effect gave them a blank check.

I can hardly believe that I will be living through the self-destruction of two aspiring empires in a single lifetime.”  Siegfried Othmer (Woodland Hills). 


I’m with Siegfried Othmer all the way.

I can’t get my head around this.  I’m trying, but I can’t accept it.

Like Othmer, perhaps like half our voters, each day I’m struck anew that as a free society we’ve failed. How could so many “others” be seduced into taking on as our leader a man like . . . well, a man like him?   

It’s not as if Trump was hiding: He never hid at all. Like the Fuhrer before him, he gave us plenty of warning. He shouted, he insulted, he condemned, he lied, he exposed his worst traits (if not on the stump, in taped comments). He tweeted anger, a vicious drive to “get even,”  a deep scorn of women.  He spewed ignorance of science  (think Global Warming), disdain for international treaties, contempt for illegals, admiration of the NRA and Putin, plus his belief that “only I” can solve certain problems--because I know more than the generals  . . .

According to columnist Michael Hiltzik in Wednesday’s Business section of the L.A. Times, our president-elect was lucky to escape his Trump University lawsuit with a $25 million settlement. The facts suggest a fraud so blatant Trump could have been impeached. 

Since then, the news has gotten scarier . . . Last Monday, Trump’s “off the record” threatening of the press.  Next, a stream of re-tread appointments of failed politicians. Now, worst of all, the possible selection of Judge William H. Pryor, Jr., for the Supreme Court. Pryor called Roe vs Wade, “the worst abomination in the history of constitutional law. . . ”  Try to explain this news to our daughters.

I can’t help asking—What can we do to make this go away?      

Friday, November 18, 2016



He was an old angel—probably mid 70’s or more.

A smallish man with white hair, he sat at the grand piano in The Segerstrom Center for the Arts and performed like no one I’ve ever heard before. At the hands of this gifted leprechaun, Grieg’s Concerto in A minor for Piano and Orchestra was magic, a seemingly endless cascade of lilting or sparkling notes you’d seldom hear this side of heaven.

Somehow, during that piece, the man and the piano disappeared, and only his lyrical notes remained. The two of us, make that the entire audience, was riveted.

Strangely, Rob and I had never heard of Joaquin Achucarro, born in Bilbao, Spain. Yet, as the program notes said, “It was his victory in England at the 1959 Liverpool International Competition . . . and the rave reviews in the London papers after his debut with the London Symphony in the Royal Festival Hall that marked the beginning of his career.” 

Think of it—that was 57 years ago. How old was he then?  We can’t be sure. But by any measure this gifted man must be nearing eighty.

How could we not have heard of him, this genius who has been winning international awards right through 2014?  Over the years, Rob and I have been treated to a multitude of gifted artists at the piano, but few that moved us like Achucarro.  At the end of his Grieg Concerto, the audience rose as one and clapped thunderously, whistled and yelled “bravo!”  Achucarro, standing quietly next to the conductor—Rune Bergmann, a Norwegian who was easily a foot and a half taller—smiled and modestly bowed.

The audience would not let him go. The leprechaun came back and played for us another richly dramatic piece—all with his right hand resting on the piano seat.

With those otherworldly notes still ringing in our heads, Rob and I decided not to stay for the second half. When you’ve floated away on a wave of music, you can’t bear to trust competing sounds that might bring you off that high. So we went home.

On the way, I considered briefly and privately how bad most of the day had been—awful Trump news (he’s bringing back as re-treads some of the worst politicians our country has ever known), plus some equally awful personal news for both me and a family member.  But I quickly dismissed those thoughts.

The day had ended better than I ever imagined. Better than I thought it could. Not for the first time I recognized a power that men have long known but often forget. Music can lift you up and take you to places that moments before existed only in your imagination. With sounds like we heard tonight, the world suddenly became a better place.  And with one of our near-magic CDs at home, we can return to that better place any time we want.


In my memoir, THE TAIL ON MY MOTHER'S KITE, I describe what it was like to do dishes with my gypsy mother, while we sang together in harmony.

The book is available on my web-site, Maralys.com, or at Amazon.    

Tuesday, November 8, 2016



Everyone I know is devastated.   

Except for when my two sons and my son-in-law died, there has never been a worse night for me,  at least none that I can remember.

A year ago, in August, I wrote in a blog that Trump’s approach to our country reminded me of Germany,  during those awful years when it was being taken over by Hitler. Years later I read in detail how the intelligentsia of that era could not believe that their fellow citizens would be so blind. But I never imagined, deep down, that it could actually happen here—not to us.  I assumed our Americans were smarter than that.

Sadly, they’re not.  I cannot absorb this, but now I know, as my friends do, that there’s a great mass of  people out there who can’t see what they see . . . who don’t recognize evil when it’s right in front of them.  Who are swayed by bombast, by bragging, by anger, by bigotry, by nasty tweets, by runaway narcissism . . . and are still willing to make that person their leader.

But then most of us couldn’t believe Jonestown, either--that such a large mob failed to grasp the dementia in their leader and willingly drank the poison that killed them.  

Never has such an individual risen to the top of this country . . . at least not that I know of. In fact, how strange it’s been these many months to view someone like him orating from a national stage—this creature without one admirable quality.  He lies, he cheats, he steals from the government, he threatens his victims with lawsuits, he womanizes—and he has a twenty-minute attention span.  If he possess a single trait that qualifies him to be a leader, I’ve never seen it.  Nor have any of my friends.

Except for China and Russia, who are celebrating, the rest of the world is speechless. Like the better half of our country, they cannot imagine where we, as a nation, are headed. They simply know it will not be good.    

Oh, how sorry these voters are going to be!  How bad they’ll feel when they realize that at his core Trump does not care a whit for any of them.  What disillusionment they’ll  suffer when they discover that their icon, at heart, has no sympathy for coal miners, for people of other races, for hungry children, for families living without hope, for cripples, for any of the disadvantaged souls he’s been appealing to.

He doesn’t care, because he’s unable to care.  His own father made sure of that.

As I’ve said in other blogs, the voters who gave this man their trust will soon know what the rest of us have already perceived: Donald Trump cares only about Donald Trump.

As a final lament, it horrifies us to envision the path a nation will take when its leader, and probably the men who will assist him, are devoid of either morals or insight.The ascent of Trump is now on track to equal, in its worldwide results, Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

Saturday, November 5, 2016



It’s three days before the election . . .  and we all need relief.

Then along comes Samsung. 

It’s not enough that their cell phones are apt to catch fire—anywhere, at any time. Which of course the company takes seriously. “Store your phone in a fire-proof container,” they advise. With an add-on from the FAA: “Never, ever, carry them on planes.”

But now Samsung is once again in the news. They’ve developed top-loading washing machines with what you must admit is a distinctive feature. They explode.

“I was sitting in my living room, when there was this awful boom,” said one customer. “I thought the roof had fallen in.”

But it wasn’t the man’s roof, the problem was out on the service porch . . . with what is normally considered a docile, non-aggressive appliance. No lithium batteries. No toxic ingredients. No bad behavior in its DNA--expect for possible overflowing. (We’ve had our Maytag for 15 years, and it’s still going strong.) 

Still, a lack of lithium and carcinogens must not be enough. Thanks to Samsung’s creative engineers, suddenly you see their washing machines on television—their tops blown off, the insides exposed and destroyed, bits and pieces of everything spreading across the floor. You can’t help thinking, A washing machine with a suicide vest?    

Luckily, injuries so far have been minor, except for one woman who suffered a broken jaw.

But here’s the real hooker. Samsung has a message for its customers: you can get a coupon for a new washer. (Explosive? Or non-explosive?)  Or alternatively, you can buy a new, reinforced lid.

A new, reinforced lid?  Seriously?  To keep the eruption confined to one place? So the socks and underwear and assorted pieces of machinery won’t get scattered around the room?    

As Rob said, “Well, at least the new lid won’t fly. But the machine won’t wash, either.”

Which you’d know the second you looked inside . . .     

You’d realize, of course, you can no longer finish your laundry--what’s left of it.  But maybe you can save the lid for the next exploding machine. It might even be reusable.

Poor Samsung. You really have to feel sorry for . . . well, for starters, whoever put out those suggested remedies. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016



People want change—I get that. 

But this race is not what you think.  It’s not about change. It’s not even about a conservative viewpoint versus liberal.  It’s not now, and never has been, a contest between two philosophical positions. 

Unlike any presidential battle we’ve ever seen in this country, this has become a choice between a rational, eminently prepared person and someone who’s off the rails.

With enough reading (“The New Yorker,” “USA Today”, “The Los Angeles Times,” and many others), plus observation of the man himself, you can’t miss the fact that this candidate isn’t normal.  He has no core positions. He doesn’t care about others (his Polish workers or anyone else.)  He has no longstanding beliefs. He has a shallow, easily-triggered personality. 

For Donald Trump, there’s only one thing that matters: Donald Trump.

His biographer said it first, but we’ve seen for ourselves that he has a twenty-minute attention span.  After that he goes off message and attacks his enemies. We’ve seen for ourselves that his “message” shifts from day to day and week to week—that he really doesn’t care whether women have abortions or not, that he’s fiscally a dreamer, that after his six bankruptcies and 3500 lawsuits, he can’t be considered a businessman, that he almost never gives his own money to charity, that on any subject he habitually tells the first lie that comes to mind. 

And never mind his attitudes about women. On that subject, he’s made it clear where he stands.

It grieves me to think that nearly half the country misses what’s so clear to the other half.  I can’t get it through my fool head that somehow forty percent of us actually think they’ve been listening to a man who can bring about change, that he will somehow “shake things up” and cause the government to spin on its axis and provide a better life for millions of people. They think because he shouts and rants and lies he will also accomplish.

He won’t. Because he can’t.

The Donald doesn’t grasp this, but he’s not running for king.  Without the active help of Congress—and yes, the Supreme Court--he can’t build a wall, he can’t deport millions of Hispanics, he can’t cancel all our international treaties, he can’t magically bring back jobs, and he can’t put Hillary in jail. Only a dictator could “in the first 100 days” accomplish any of these things.  

The only thing this new president can actually do without the active support of others is give the order to send off an atomic bomb. He’s even said, “If we’ve got ‘em, why can’t we use ‘em?” If he wins, he can use ‘em--and yes, he can do it in the first 100 days. 

For that reason alone, we are possibly on the path to disaster.

We should all be terrified.