Spencer Rumsey

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Spencer Rumsey, the Long Island Press’ senior editor, has worked on dailies, weeklies and monthlies, including New York Newsday and the New York Post, the East Village Eye and the supermarket tabloid Star Magazine. Starting at the Press in 2010, he’s written award-winning stories on planning, politics and policy, to name a few topics, and he’s taken on a wide range of targets in his Press blog, Rumsey Punch.

Nassau Art Museum Honors Halston, Once America’s Fashion Superstar

halston

To his family, he was Roy Halston Frowick, but to millions of high-minded followers of fashion he was simply known as Halston, a name that stood for style and taste.

Now, for the first time, this distinctive American fashion designer gets his due as the Nassau County Museum of Art turns over its entire gallery space for the most comprehensive retrospective of his works ever assembled in one place outside of a fashion runway.

Focusing on his life and art, “Halston Style” is “one of the most ambitious projects the Museum has ever undertaken,” said Karl E. Willers, director of the Nassau County Museum of Art.

This “celebration of Halston and his achievements in fashion,” as Willers describes it, includes many never-before-seen objects from the designer’s personal archives that he left to his niece, Lesley Frowick, who is the guest curator and author of the accompanying catalogue, Halston: Inventing American Fashion.

“This is a story of a self-made man who rose from the amber prairies to the glittering heights of success in Manhattan,” said Frowick in a statement about the show. “Along the way he created a uniquely American definition of chic that remains relevant to this day—one of simplicity made elegant. He was the first superstar American designer.”

Sponsored by “H Halston Exclusively at Lord & Taylor,” this unique exhibition will include more than 60 Halston fashions, juxtaposed with photographs, artwork, illustrations and accessories, as well as a documentary chronicling his breakthrough Versailles 1973 fashion when he rocked the world and knocked Parisian haute couture for a loop. Among the reasons was Halston’s stunning array of beautiful black models, including the iconic Iman, who later would marry David Bowie.

As Halston put it, “You are only as good as the people you dress.”

Among the highlights of the exhibit are Halston’s trademark pillbox hat design, made famous by Jacqueline Kennedy, who wore it to the Inauguration in 1961 when she was First Lady, and also his innovative Ultrasuede shirtdress garment along with his minimalistic jersey dresses. Masterful examples of the designer’s classic gowns are also abundantly on view as well as sketches of his uniforms for the U.S. Olympic team in 1976 and for the Girl Scouts of America. Museum goers will also get to gaze about Liza Minnelli costume designs, snapshots of Studio 54 when it was at its heyday and Polaroids of him with famous models.

“Halston was the premier designer of the disco age,” writes Aria Darcella in Fashion Unfiltered, “whose minimalistic silhouettes and designs defined not only the fashion at the time, but also American fashion’s place in the global style sphere.”

Not bad for a young guy starting out in the hat salon at Bergdorf Goodman who wound up working with Andy Warhol and even renting his place in Montauk. Halston died in 1990, after entrusting his niece with his archives.

“He always kept a magnum of Dom Perignon in his refrigerator,” Frowick told Women’s Wear Daily recently about her famous uncle. “Funnily, he never drank Champagne. It was for his guests.”

Can visitors to “Halston Style” at the Nassau Museum pick out their faves, take them off the rack and wear them home? Most definitely not, unfortunately. But they can dream!

The show opens officially March 25 and runs until July 9. Nassau County Museum of Art is located at One Museum Drive in Roslyn Harbor, just off Northern Boulevard, Route 25A, two traffic lights west of Glen Cove Road. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors (62 and above) and $4 for students and children (4 to12).

Featured photo: Halston, courtesy Nassau County Museum of Art

Schumer: Judge Gorsuch Will Need 60 Senate Votes to Reach the Supreme Court

While President Trump has his hands full lining up support from House Republicans for his overthrow of Obamacare, Senate Democrats have taken a clear stand against his nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, raising the stakes for his confirmation.

On Thursday, after three days of listening to his “lack of candor” at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said his party plans to filibuster Gorsuch, which means that the conservative Colorado jurist will likely have to hurdle the 60-vote threshold to take his seat on the High Court. Right now Democrats are in the minority with only 48 Senators, leaving the Republicans with 52.

“After careful deliberation, I have concluded that I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court,” said Schumer. “He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation.

“To my Republican friends who think that if Judge Gorsuch fails to reach 60 votes we ought to change the rules, I say: if this nominee cannot earn 60 votes, a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees and President Bush’s last two nominees, the answer isn’t to change the rules—it’s to change the nominee,” said Schumer, who laid out the reasons why he’ll oppose the nomination and urge his colleagues to do the same.

“His career and judicial record suggests not a neutral legal mind but instead someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology,” said Schumer. “He was groomed by the Federalist Society and has not shown one inch of difference between his views and theirs. And finally, he is someone who almost instinctively favors the powerful over the weak, corporations over working Americans. There could not be a worse time for someone with those instincts.”

He blasted the 10th Circuit judge for not having “an ounce of courage” to defend the judiciary branch against President Trump’s repeated attacks. “Instead, he just tells us that he’s demoralized, disheartened.”

Asked about his judicial philosophy, Schumer said Gorsuch uttered “banalities and platitudes. We did not get any real answers to any real questions about what he thinks about the law and why.”

From  Roe v. Wade guaranteeing a woman’s right to an abortion to the segregation-busting Brown v. Board of Education, Gorsuch’s refusal to answer whether he agreed with the Supreme Court decisions in those seminal cases convinced Schumer to oppose his nomination.

“Instead of an umpire calling balls and strikes in baseball,” Schumer said, “what we really saw was an expert—a well-trained expert—in dodgeball.”

Schumer took particular aim at Trump’s selection process, criticizing the president for simply picking someone off a list prepared by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society and “groomed by billionaire conservatives.” Schumer said Gorsuch’s background gave him little confidence that once on the Supreme Court the jurist would care to curtail the “dark, secret, undisclosed money,” released by the Citizens United decision in 2010, and now being spent by the millions on television ads to drum up support for his confirmation.

“To say he is neutral in his views is belied by his history since his college days and by his own judicial record,” said Schumer.

Then Schumer brought up a very sore point for Democrats: Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to fill the seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death last winter, who was rebuffed by Senate Republicans. The nation’s highest court has been operating with only eight judges ever since.

“We all know that my friends across the aisle held this Supreme Court seat open for over a year in hopes that they would have the opportunity to install someone hand-picked by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society to advance the goal of big-money interests entrenching their power in the courts,” said Schumer. “They don’t even mind that this nomination is moving forward under the cloud of an FBI investigation of the president’s campaign.”

He noted that President Obama was under no investigation when he nominated Judge Garland. “It is unseemly and wrong to be moving so fast on a lifetime appointment in such circumstances,” Schumer said.

His objection was preceded weeks ago by New York’s junior U.S. Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, a fellow Democrat, who announced in the beginning of February that she would not vote for Gorsuch and supported the 60-vote threshold.

“The Supreme Court is supposed to be the ultimate arbiter of justice for our citizens,” said Gillibrand in a statement. “Unfortunately, Judge Gorsuch has proven to have a judicial philosophy outside of the mainstream and time and again has subjugated individual rights to those of corporations. I fundamentally disagree with his ruling that a boss should be able to make family planning decisions for an employee and that corporations are people. I plan to stand up for individuals over corporations and oppose his nomination, and I will insist that his nomination meet a traditional 60-vote threshold.”

As Democrats, both on Capitol Hill and around the country, have angrily pointed out, the Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) never even bothered to bring Garland’s nomination to a vote, let alone have him appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Additionally, just prior to the November election, some Republicans suggested that they would refuse to vote for a Hillary Clinton Supreme Court nominee had she won.

“The Republicans’ refusal to allow Merrick Garland to get even a hearing to fill this seat was nothing short of a crime against democracy, a twisting of democratic norms beyond all recognition,” said Paul Waldman, a senior writer at The American Prospect, in a recent column for the Washington Post. “Garland should be in this seat, and Democrats should go as far as they possibly can to avoid giving even a shred of validation to the way Republicans stole it.”

And so Schumer has thrown down the gauntlet for Gorsuch and his supporters to cross.

Photographer Joan Weiss Exhibits Otherworldly ‘Illusions & Impressions’ In Manhasset

joan weiss

The way Joan Weiss sees it, there’s always more than meets the eye.

Her images really reside in the mind. Whether she’s honing in on details others might easily overlook, or capturing layers of meaning hidden in plain sight in a landscape vista, this acclaimed Long Island photographer brings an artistic aesthetic to her work that makes a lasting impression.

Not bad for someone who could neither draw nor paint as a kid growing up in Brooklyn—and never saw her artwork stuck on the refrigerator door by her parents. But she did borrow her family’s trusty old Brownie, and that passion for photography—though it took some significant detours over the years as she pursued a high-pressure career as a medical writer and editor—stayed with her.

After she retired a couple of years ago, this Jericho resident devoted herself to becoming a full-time art photographer. What she’s accomplished since 2015 is impressive: She’s been elected to the Board of Directors of the Art League of Long Island and had four solo shows on Long Island, with more to come.

This Sunday marks another milestone in her photographic odyssey that has taken Weiss from Coney Island to Vietnam, when her exhibit, “Illusions & Impressions,” opens at the Shelter Rock Art Gallery in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset. On display from March 25 through April 24, it’s fitting that the largest show yet of her work takes place at a gallery considered by many professional photographers as the best venue on Long Island aside from museums.

“I will be showing 40 photographs, a few of them on the ‘gigantic’ side,” Weiss told the Press, adding that some are five-feet wide. “That will be new for that gallery, but I think it shows those particular photographs to their best advantage.”

Admittedly, her work is edgy, impressionistic and even surreal—and at their best breathtakingly beautiful.

In her photography, she says, “I see textures, and layers, and the way objects interact in geometric patterns to form other creations. I see shadows and reflections, and the blur of human motion, and sometimes an incongruous fusion of these elements.”

Her formal training began at Cornell University when she amazed her friends by signing up for early Saturday morning photography classes. After graduating with a B.S., she went to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she would often be the one wielding the camera instead of the reporter’s notepad. The year was 1968.

“It was a turning point in my life,” recalled Weiss, who was known as Joan Solomon back in those days. “I had become sort of the unofficial class photographer,” she said. In April that year, Columbia students protesting the Vietnam War began a nonviolent occupation of campus buildings and subsequently classes were suspended.

“So we just wandered around the campus during the day looking for where the action was,” Weiss said. “We would often hear in the middle of the night that there were riots on campus and the police were going after students. So we, of course, got up to join the action. We were all in our 20s then and had no fear. If the police caught you, they either crushed your skull with their batons or arrested you. One night my shoe fell off and I fell down. I was terrified. A couple of my friends got me up and dragged me off campus.”

Interestingly, her next big solo exhibit, “Vietnam Now,” will be shown at the Art League of Long Island in Dix Hills from May 3 to May 31, featuring about 30 photographs she took during her trip through that war-torn south Asian country last January.

But it would be wrong to draw the conclusion that her work is overtly, or even covertly, political. It’s more profound than that, and harder to categorize.

“I sometimes feel like I’m in a dream, where things are not what they seem but serve as clues to a deeper, more elusive truth,” Weiss explained. “That truth is revealed to me more vividly through the camera lens than through the naked eye.”

As Weiss gained confidence in her art, she began to realize that she doesn’t see the world as others do—and she has grown to appreciate the difference.

“When I travel and members of my group look in one direction to snap a photo, I invariably aim my camera in the other,” she said. “I find interest and beauty where others might see the mundane. I see glitz where others might see grandeur.”

To create a compelling image, she says she takes “a practical approach” that she’s willing to share:

“Go out in atrocious weather. Get into impossible positions. Ruin your clothes.”

And so she does—willingly. But what she brings back with her camera makes it all so worthwhile.

Joan Weiss’ photography show, “Illusions & Impressions,” runs from March 25 through April 24, with an opening reception on March 26 from 1-3 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, 48 Shelter Rock Road, Manhasset. Call 516-472-2933 for more information.

Jimmy Breslin Proved That the Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword

The first time I met Jimmy Breslin at New York Newsday I thought he was sitting down because he already had such a huge reputation I didn’t realize that this living giant of New York City was actually shorter than me. But that didn’t stop me from always looking up to him.

I was ecstatic when my publisher hired him away from the Daily News to join our side of the city’s tabloid war in 1988—even if it was for half a million bucks. Breslin was no Times man, as he’d say, although he did once entice the New York Times‘ Abe Rosenthal to join him at a bar in Queens, proving that some of the colorful characters he chronicled actually existed. Now it’s hard to believe that Breslin no longer exists—he died Sunday at age 88 of pneumonia.

At that first meeting in Newsday’s city room, I wasn’t sure why he seemed to single me out when he said the trouble with young journalists today is that we spent too much time at the gym and not enough time in bars getting the real story. He made going to a health club sound like a dereliction of duty. He urged us to put the phones down and get out into the boroughs, walk up the five flights of stairs and knock on doors.

I already knew about the groundbreaking columns that he had turned in, like when he interviewed the man who actually dug John F. Kennedy’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery and earned $3.01 an hour. Or how as a columnist at the Daily News he was the recipient of the Son of Sam’s letters, which helped lead the cops to the author, David Berkowitz, the serial killer responsible for terrorizing so many young New York women in the summer of 1977. And how he had the presence of mind—and the respect of the men in blue—to write about the policemen who rushed John Lennon to the hospital after the great rock musician had been gunned down outside The Dakota on West 72nd in 1980.

Breslin had a staccato style that was Hemingway-like to my ears, as if I could picture him pounding on the keyboard of an old Smith Corona typewriter. But he also had an eye for detail and a love of language that propelled even his most mundane efforts into something worth reading, because you know, it was Jimmy Breslin, and what he had to say mattered no matter what, whether he was writing about that unique mob boss, Un Occhio, or taking the wind out of a blowhard politician who had turned his pin-striped back on the poor.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed devouring some of his 20-plus books, particularly The Good Rat, about a murder trial involving two cops, and Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game, about the hapless 1962 Mets under beleaguered manager Casey Stengel. I could always hear his distinctive voice, as if he were on the next barstool telling a tale while chomping on a cigar. But I remain a bigger fan of his columns, because that daily deadline pressure brought out the fighter in him—and he was afraid of nothing and no one.

In pursuit of the story behind the headlines, he got severely beaten up at Crown Heights during a race riot in 1991. He was left standing in his underwear holding his press badge, with a black eye and a bloody lip. But the city wasn’t his only beat. He covered the world, too. I learned from his obit that he was standing five feet away from Robert F. Kennedy when the great liberal Senator from New York was shot in Los Angeles after winning the California Democratic primary in 1968. I had missed his column on Three Mile Island in 1979 when it was on the verge of a meltdown that would have had apocalyptic consequences. Breslin didn’t hunker down in a bunker. Instead, he headed straight for the overheating reactor just south of Harrisburg, Penn. He reportedly told his loyal New York driver—Breslin never got his own license—to “step on it—it could be the end of Pennsylvania!”

His path through the harrowed halls of the Fourth Estate took him from the old Long Island Press in Jamaica, Queens, where he was a copy boy, to the New York Journal-American, where he was a sports writer, to the New York Herald Tribune, where he started writing a column, and later to the New York Post, New York Magazine and the Daily News, where I first found him. With Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese and Hunter S. Thompson, he was one of the pioneers of New Journalism in the 1970s, practitioners of a unique blend of subjectivity and objectivity that never compromised on integrity—and my inspiration as a journalist. In recognition of his career, Breslin won a Pulitzer Prize in 1986 “for columns which consistently champion ordinary citizens,” the board explained. But he didn’t rest on his laurels. Not for a moment. He still had many more stories to tell, with hundreds of thousands of words boiling within him, waiting for the right moment to hit the page.

During my time at Newsday, I never edited Breslin, but I did know some copyeditors whom he’d bark at when he was on deadline and didn’t like them messing up his lede. I knew he was cantankerous, and didn’t suffer fools, but I wish he hadn’t hurled a racist slur at the young Korean-American woman reporter who had sent him an in-house message criticizing one of his columns for being sexist. His politically incorrect attitude led to his brief suspension in 1990. As he said in an apology to the staff: “I am not good and once again I can prove it.”

That was the flipside of his larger-than-life persona. He could share a drink with Norman Mailer, no slouch when it comes to big egos, and regard himself as the great American novelist’s peer—they did run a Don Quixote-like municipal campaign together in 1969, with Mailer aiming to become mayor and Breslin City Council president (their big issue was to make New York City the 51st state). But he would also venture into the farthest reaches of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens to shine the light on the unsung New Yorkers who make the city actually function—or whose lives were worth telling when tragedy struck close to home. He himself had come out of a rough and tumble world.

While he was still a kid in Queens, his alcoholic dad abandoned Breslin’s family. From that low point, Breslin rose to the heights of the city. And he did it without fear or favor.

Breslin called it the way he saw it—and we hung on every word.

Mockstrosity Tour Hits Long Island With Heavy Metal Laughs

mockstrosity

It’s certainly the first—and definitely not the worst—in fact, it could be the most unusual heavy metal show ever to hit Long Island. Never before have these three extraordinary bands from west of the Rockies appeared at the Revolution Bar and Music Hall, and Amityville may never be the same after they leave.

What brings Mac Sabbath, Metalachi and Okilly Dokilly to LI on the last Sunday night in March is the 2017 Mockstrosity Tour, covering 26 cities in 26 days, leaving tattered cultural expectations in their wake.

As the tour promoters say, their misguided mission was simple: They would amass “the most motley collection of costumed musical miscreants ever assembled. Our shortsighted ambition would prove to be our demise as one by one a hapless triad of lawless vagabonds have now come together to form a blasphemous axis of musical mockery far more powerful than we could have ever imagined…or hope to contain.”

It looks like they succeeded beyond their sickest imagination—purists, be warned.

Founders of what they call “Drive-Thru Metal,” Mac Sabbath mixes reimagined Black Sabbath classics with raucous comedy and borderline-horrific theatrics, complete with a smoking grill, laser-eyed clowns, bouncing burgers and many more surprises. Buzzfeed dubbed Mac Sabbath as one of the “13 Metal Bands You Didn’t Know How to React To,” while LA Weekly put them on their “Best Tribute Band” list in 2015. One look at the band in full regalia is frightening and funny at the same time.

“Heavy music, like heavy food, is best consumed voraciously and without much thought,” writes LA Weekly’s music critic Lina Lecaro. “But the McGenius behind Mac Sabbath is that they obviously put a lot of thought and skill into their quirky musical cooker, which roasts greasy fast-food corporations as much as it pays tribute to the pummeling rock of Ozzy and Sabbath. Like many gimmick-driven grinders, the members shroud themselves in secret sauce.”

The band includes Grimalice, the Catburglar and Slayer McCheeze backing up creepy clown Ronald Osbourne on vocals. With their “clever, freak-fried takes on Sabbath’s lyrics (‘Pair-A-Buns’ to the tune of ‘Paranoid’ and ‘Frying Pan’ to the tune of ‘Iron Man’),” Lecaro says, “these happy meal menaces sizzle life, and always serve up more than the empty calories of most cover bands.”

America’s Got Talent alumni Metalachi is the world’s only heavy metal mariachi band. Hailing from Hollywood via Juarez, Mexico, Metalachi is a musical/comedy stage show that somehow blends the world of Spinal Tap and Cheech & Chong into an over-the-top stage spectacle. The group is a 5-piece ensemble of classically trained mariachi musician brothers who have been fused together with the molten power of metal.

Their unique mix of raucous humor and innovative music has reportedly drawn praise from the likes of Dave Lombardo (Slayer), Vinnie Paul (Pantera, Hellyeah), Eric Wilson (Sublime), Billy Idol and Howard Stern. LA Weekly also put Metalachi on its list of LA’s “Top 5 Tribute Bands” of 2015.

“Metalachi roll metal and mariachi music together in to a big zesty burrito with just the right amount of heat,” writes LA Weekly’s Lina Lecaro. “Like the most garish ’80s glam bands, they don painted faces and wigs; they just top ’em off with sombreros and sometimes fancy polyester, too. The shtick works because the guys are skilled mariachis, especially their horn and violin players, who attack their solos like Speedy Gonzales meets Slash.”

They started building their following in North Hollywood, and struck it big, so to speak, on the Hollywood Strip. Their scorching rendition of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” would be ideal with some flaming margaritas, Lecaro recommends.

Rounding out the line-up and all the way from Phoenix, Arizona, come Okilly Dokilly, a very unlikely looking band performing what they describe as “Nedal,” a subgenre of metal inspired by Ned Flanders, the overbearing goodie-two-shoes neighbor on The Simpsons. Although these guys are certainly animated, they’re definitely not cartoon figures. The band includes Head Ned, Red Ned, Thread Ned, Stead Ned and Bled Ned.

They say they draw most of their lyrics from Ned Flanders’ direct quotes. Last November they released their debut album, Howdilly Doodilly, and they’ve since reaped worldwide attention from the likes of Time, Maxim, US Magazine and other outlets. Their first video was for the song “White Wine Spritzer,” an ode to Flanders’ favorite stiff drink.

After hearing one verse, you’ll never be afraid again to order that drink in front of your friends when you’re at a bar; you just have to summon the emotional intensity that Okilly Dokilly bring. It’s not at all what you’d expect from a bunch of nerdy looking guys in pink sports shirts, dark green sweaters and nondescript slacks. Their high energy shows try to “weave together comedy and brutality,” the band boasts.

“Guttural screams and pounding drums provide a soundtrack for the pummeling of an inflatable donut as green sweaters and round glasses blur across the stage.” Now that’s a sight for sore eyes.

On March 26, the Mockstrosity Tour comes to the Revolution Music Hall, which is at 140 Merrick Road in Amityville. Doors open at 7 p.m. General admission is $20, for ages 18 and over.

Mac Sabbath photo credit: Paul Koudounaris

Hollywood Insider Patricia Bosworth Hosts Rare Screening of “A Place in the Sun” at Cinema Arts

cinema arts

In another fascinating installment of Hollywood comes to Huntington, acclaimed author, actress and editor Patricia Bosworth will be on hand at the Cinema Arts Centre on March 15 for a special big screening of the 1951 critically acclaimed masterpiece, A Place in the Sun.

The classic stars 18-year-old Elizabeth Taylor and Bosworth’s pal, Montgomery Clift, who was at the top of his game at age 29. Bosworth will be hosting the event in conjunction with the release of her new memoir, The Men in My Life, which just came out.

Bosworth’s father, Bartley Crum, a well-known lawyer who’d defended “The Hollywood Ten” after they were blacklisted in the McCarthy era, had introduced her to Clift while she was still a teenager.

“We’re thrilled to have Patricia Bosworth come to Cinema Arts Centre and put a marvelous film like A Place in the Sun into historical context, as well as the life of her friend, Montgomery Clift,” said Raj Tawney, director of publicity and promotions at CAC. “Bosworth has had a life of ups and downs like all of us, and she’s someone who has pursued her dreams with realistic results. It wasn’t all glamorous, but through her journey, she became one of the top Hollywood biographers. We’re looking forward to having Miss Bosworth share her life stories which are detailed in her new book.”

Tawney credits this unique evening to Jud Newborn, Cinema Arts Centre’s curator of special programs, who will be hosting the event.

“For year and years, Dr. Jud Newborn has brought Hollywood to Huntington,” said Tawney. “The list of guests is so long and legendary, an outsider would think they’re living on the wrong coast.”

Newborn said that he and Bosworth chose the 1951 movie because she not only knew the troubled star but she wrote his definitive biography, which became one of her biggest bestsellers.

“But there’s more,” Newborn told the Press, “because the film introduces the coming decade of repression and stultifying conformity which Bosworth covers in her acclaimed new memoir—along with the tremendous burst of wild creativity (and wild living) which that atmosphere unleashed. This was especially the case in Manhattan at the elite Actors Studio, where Patricia studied with such friends as Marlon Brando and Jane Fonda.”

She later wrote biographies about them, too.

“Clift—like Patricia’s beloved younger brother, whom she lost to suicide—was a closeted homosexual, tortured by the toxic climate of the era,” notes Newborn, “while other friends like Fonda shared Patricia’s struggle to burst free from the suffocating role women were supposed to conform to. A world where men dominated them and pressured them for sex, then punished them for some of the inevitable consequences, like the shame of having to endure abortions, which were illegal, humiliating and often botched procedures.”

Before she became an accomplished writer—she’s been a freelancer for the New York Times, a managing editor of Harper’s Bazaar and contributing editor for Vanity Fair—Bosworth acted with Helen Hayes, Audrey Hepburn and Paul Muni, and was directed by Arthur Penn and Elia Kazan.

“Patricia flourished,” said Newborn, “all the time fighting a secret numbness that she’s only now overcome, and brilliantly, in her liberating new memoir that reveals a life as dramatic as those of her most famous biographical subjects.”

Directed by the legendary George Stevens, A Place in the Sun paired Elizabeth Taylor in her first adult role with Montgomery Clift and Shelley Winters in a griping, class-conscious tragic romance, based on Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 best-selling novel, An American Tragedy. This 1951 film, set in upstate New York, is actually a remake of Josef von Sternberg’s 1931 more somber version, which had kept the original title.

Nominated for nine Oscars (including Clift for Best Actor and Winters for Best Actress), this Hollywood classic won six: Best Director for Stevens, Best Screenplay for Michael Wilson and Harry Brown, Best Black/White Cinematography for William Mellor, Best B/W Costume Design for Edith Head, as well as Best Dramatic Score and Best Editing. It lost the Best Picture nod to An American in Paris.

The on-screen chemistry between Taylor and Cliff apparently worked for Hollywood, which later paired them in 1957’s Raintree County. At the time, Taylor had just finished making a movie with another closeted gay actor, Rock Hudson, in Giant.

In 1956, Clift left a dinner party at Taylor’s Beverly Hills house (her marriage to Michael Wilding was on the rocks), drove down the windy road and had a near-fatal car crash, his famous face a bloody pulp. Taylor came to his rescue and kept him alive before the ambulance could arrive. When it did, it was accompanied by a pack of Hollywood photographers, but she reportedly threatened them that if they took one photo of the disfigured actor, she’d never let them photograph her again. They relented.

Interestingly, Clift later starred with Marilyn Monroe in the 1961 film, The Misfits. Monroe said he was “the only person I know who is in worse shape than I am.” In 1966, Clift died in his Manhattan apartment, reportedly watching The Misfits on TV. He was 45. Monroe had died three years before in her L.A. home, reportedly an overdose. She was 36.

Bosworth knew them all. But tragedy had hounded her, too. Both her father and her brother committed suicide. She named her memoir to honor them.

This special evening begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, at Cinema Arts Centere, 423 Park Ave., Huntington. The event includes a dessert and Prosecco reception featuring local jazz guitarist Mike Soloway. Tickets are $20 for CAC members, $25 for nonmembers. As a bonus, you get a 20 percent off when you buy a copy of Bosworth’s memoir. For information, call 631-423-7611 or visit www.cinemaartscentre.org.

Featured Photo: Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor, starring in A Place in the Sun, photo courtesy Cinema Arts Centre.

GOP Health Care Plan Raises Serious Concerns For LI & NY, Say Rep. King & Experts

Congress doesn’t know how much the American Health Care Act will cost or what its impact will be on the federal deficit, but the Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace Obamacare passed two Congressional committees Thursday with President Donald Trump’s encouragement.

Those who’ve seen the details released so far say it would impose higher costs on some of those who gained insurance under Obamacare while putting millions of Americans at risk of losing their health insurance altogether. Here, it could strain Long Island’s hospitals that serve the most vulnerable population, put severe pressure on health insurance companies, and raise the tax burden on New Yorkers.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who could play a key role when the final bill comes up for a vote on the House floor, said he has serious concerns about the proposal.

“I have concerns about how many people are going to fall through the cracks and how big a fiscal impact it will have on New York,” he told the Press.

“I am certainly not convinced to vote for it,” he said. “It’s going to cost New York billions of dollars, mainly because of the cuts in Medicaid as we go forward.” He put the figure at $4 billion. But he didn’t expect the final version to be ready for passage for at least two weeks at the earliest.

“It’s still a work in progress,” the Congressman said.

His Republican colleague from Long Island, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), did not respond to repeated calls for comment although thousands of Suffolk residents in his district stand to lose their coverage.

“At first look, it appears that the House bill neither truly repeals nor meaningfully replaces the Affordable Care Act,” said Janine Logan, senior director of communications and population health at the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, which represents all Long Island’s 23 hospitals including Northwell Health (formerly North Shore-LIJ Health System) and Catholic Health Services’ facilities.

“This is bad news for New York,” she said. “Capping Medicaid funding will be financially devastating to the state budget and to the thousands of New Yorkers with modest incomes, many of whom are elderly or disabled, who will no longer be guaranteed coverage. About 70 percent of the Medicaid spending is for the elderly and disabled of all ages.  Continuing Medicare and Medicaid cuts to hospitals without reducing the number of uninsured patients they will have to serve is just as devastating.”

She explained that the House bill fundamentally alters the structure of Medicaid, shifting a greater burden from the federal government to the states. Under the ACA, New York State greatly expanded its Medicaid program. “It is how on Long Island the uninsured rate has gone from 10 percent to 5 percent in three years,” Logan explained.

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, approximately 300,000 Long Islanders are at risk if Obamacare is repealed. The state could lose $2.4 billion annually. But part of the problem of assessing what the Republicans have approved so far in their rush to make President Trump’s campaign promise come true is that their alternative omits key details.

As Logan put it, “The House plan has not yet been scored for cost by the Congressional Budget Office, and it does not provide specifics on how its provisions would be paid for.”

What is known so far, she said, is that it would eliminate current tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies.

“The most generous assistance under the ACA has gone to those with low to modest incomes,” Logan said. “The plan instead offers limited tax credits based on age and not income.”

According to a recent study by S&P Global Ratings, up to 10 million Americans would lose the health insurance they gained through Obamacare. Insurers would be allowed to charge people between the ages of 50 and 64 insurance premiums at five times the rate charged to younger people—under the ACA it was three times. Tax credits would reportedly begin at $2,000 for people in their 20s, and gradually increase to $4,000 for people over age 60.

“If the intent here is to not only repeal but improve upon the Affordable Care Act, we don’t think the House bill meets that standard,” said Terry Lynam, a spokesman for Northwell Health. “There’s not a lot to like about it.”

Hospitals that rely on Medicaid funding to offset the cost of providing care to their population could be harmed by the new reform as it’s been rolled out so far, he noted.

“In New York you have a lot of hospitals that are barely breaking even or are in the red,” he said. As for Northwell Health, widely regarded as one of the most successful health care providers in the region, its operating margins are still thin, he said, so any additional impact could be damaging in the long run.

“We recognize that there are flaws in the Affordable Care Act, but we think it needs to be renovated, not demolished.”

Professor Debra Dwyer, a health economist at Stony Brook University in the College of Engineering who specializes in public policy, has been studying the health care issue for some time. She told the Press that she’s alarmed by the details she’s seen so far in the House Republicans’ new plan.

“It’s kind of amazing to me how they’re targeting the vulnerable populations,” she said. “They’re literally targeting older people and poorer people—those who are more likely to be sick—and their argument is that they cost us more. But the whole reason for having a social welfare network system is to protect the most vulnerable, which is why Medicare came about: to cover the aged and the disabled. Now they’re targeting the 50-64 year olds who are going to have to get less in tax credits and pay higher premiums.”

For Long Island’s health care system, the impact could be severe as well, she noted.

“We have some hospitals that are going to be hit pretty hard,” she said, singling out Stony Brook University Hospital and Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in particular because they serve Suffolk County’s more vulnerable population and made investments in response to incentives from the Affordable Care Act.

“They took in a lot of the uninsured,” Dwyer said. “They did it in good faith that they would have these Medicaid expansions, and people are getting coverage.” But these hospitals could take a hit in reimbursements, she explained, and end up with uninsured people coming to their emergency rooms because they could not afford to see doctors regularly. She said that many insurance companies that serve Long Island also created Medicaid plans based on its expansion under the ACA, but if it’s retracted as proposed by the House bill, then these companies won’t get the return on their investment.

“There’s a lot of companies we have to worry about,” she said. “The hospitals are going to feel it. The health insurance companies are going to feel it. The hundreds of thousands of people that are going to lose coverage are going to feel it.”

She pointed out that the Republicans in Congress have specifically targeted funding for Planned Parenthood, which is the primary source of breast cancer screenings and maternal care for poor women. She said the cuts “will increase the number of unwanted babies because of birth control, and it’s also going to increase cancer.”

She was skeptical of the Republicans’ plan to offer health care savings accounts as a safety net.

“These vulnerable populations are living paycheck to paycheck,” Dwyer said. “They don’t have savings. They can’t afford to lay out the money for insurance and wait for a tax refund—and the tax refund they’d be getting back is not going to be big enough.”

Long Island’s Congressional Delegation Weighs In On Controversial Raid In Yemen

Yemen raid

The acknowledged highlight of President Trump’s Joint Address to Congress Tuesday night was the two-minute ovation given to the grieving widow of U.S. Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, who died in a controversial raid on an al-Qaeda compound in Yemen on Jan. 29.

Lingering questions regarding the ill-fated mission—the first one in that country since 2014—have prompted calls for a congressional investigation into how the operation was planned and approved so early in the Trump administration’s tenure, rather than relying solely on a Pentagon inquiry, which is customary yet could take months and never be made public. Long Island’s congressional delegation is split over the issue. Meanwhile, the United States launched new airstrikes in Yemen Wednesday night.

Besides the death of Chief Owens in January, the Pentagon said three members of Navy SEALs Team 6 were wounded. In turn, they killed 14 militants but also 20 civilians, including an 8-year-old daughter of a radical US-born cleric who’d been killed previously by a U.S. drone strike. A $70 million MV-22 Osprey damaged during the assault was also destroyed during the mission to keep it from falling into al-Qaeda’s hands. Whether the mission got vital intelligence about the terrorist organization is still being debated, along with whether Trump should have even approved the raid at all, considering he’d barely been in the Oval Office a week.

Long Island’s senior member of the delegation, Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), serves on the House Homeland Security Committee, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is chairman of the Sub-Committee on [Counterterrorism and Intelligence], and gets briefed on these kinds of operations.

“I can’t go into details other than to say that this was many months in the planning,” King told the Press. “It was approved by every military official. It was encouraged by every military official, and certainly [Defense] Secretary Mattis endorsed it, and supported it.”

King says that after every operation, whether it’s successful or not, the Pentagon conducts an “after-action report.”

“Basically, what went wrong on this [Yemen mission] could have gone wrong at almost any time,” said King. “Without going into detail, there were no mistakes made. There’s always risks.”

According to Coleman Lamb, a spokesman for Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), who serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, she supports further congressional action.

“Rep. Rice agrees that Congress has a role to play in answering serious questions about how this mission was planned and executed and what led to the death of Chief Owens and dozens of civilians,” Lamb told the Press. “She believes strongly that there should be nothing remotely political or partisan about this. Members of Congress from both parties should come together and get the facts.”

Her other Republican colleague from Long Island, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), is content to leave Congress out of it, and let the Pentagon go through its normal protocols, according to his communications director, Jennifer DiSiena.

“The next step is for the military to complete a 15-6 investigation,” DiSiena told the Press in an email. “A 15-6 would take place within the Army and is intended to be a timely, thorough and legally sufficient investigation.”

Zeldin, a Major in the Army Reserves, serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is a member of the Congressional Military Family Caucus.

Freshman Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), a minority member of the House Committee on Armed Services, as well as the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee and Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa, was unavailable for comment, despite repeated requests to weigh in.

Chief Owens’ father Bill, a Navy veteran, was so angry about the raid that cost his 36-year-old son’s life that he refused to meet with President Trump at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware when his son’s body was returned to American soil on Feb. 1. According to the Miami Herald, the father criticized the special operation and the aftermath.

“The government owes my son an investigation,” Owens said. “Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation.”

The morning of Trump’s address to Congress, the New York Times editorialized that “Mr. Owens deserves to know whether his son died in a worthwhile pursuit or a botched mission of dubious value.”

In Congress on Tuesday night for the president’s speech, Carryn Owens, Ryan Owens’ widow, sat with tears streaming down her face in the front row of the balcony next to Ivanka Trump. The president singled her out, saying:

“Ryan died as he lived: a warrior, and a hero—battling against terrorism and securing our nation.”

As for the point of the mission, Trump cited his Defense Secretary James Mattis.

“I just spoke to our great Gen. Mattis, just now, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, ‘Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.”

As Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) told NBC News in early February, however:

“When you lose a $75 million airplane, and more importantly, an American life is lost…I don’t believe you can call it a success.”

In a talk with news anchors Tuesday before his speech, Trump blamed the generals “who are very respected, my generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades, I believe. And they lost Ryan.”

“I wouldn’t have said it that way,” King told the Press. “The fact is, ultimately the president is responsible.”

Asked to respond to what Bill Owens had said about his son’s death, King demurred.

“Listen, I can’t begin to understand the father’s grief, so I would respect whatever he says and understand his right to say it. I would never question him,” King replied. “But his main objection to it—which was ‘Why are we in Yemen?’—it was President Obama who decided last fall that we should carry out operations in Yemen.”

Recently, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed the mission was discussed in the White House under former president Barack Obama, though members of the former administration allege that is not quite true.

According to the Washington Post, Colin Kahl, a former Obama administration official with knowledge of what the Pentagon presented to the National Security Council on Dec. 19, said that the request had no specifics about the raid; instead it was a broader request from the military to carry out raids in the country. Kahl said the outgoing Obama administration decided to let Trump review the request once he occupied the White House after inauguration.

How many details were available then remains unclear, hence the doubts lingering over Owens’ death.

In its Tuesday editorial, the New York Times urged Congress to demand answers to serious questions that it claimed may not be answered in a timely enough fashion by a Pentagon inquiry, stating:

“The most important is whether national security officials in the Trump administration carefully considered the risks and potential benefits of the operation, and explained them to Mr. Trump before the president approved it just five days after taking office.”

It noted that Obama administration officials “did not sign off on it before” the president left office. “Mr. Trump was reportedly briefed on the plans over dinner with members of the national security team, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his domestic policy counselor, Stephen Bannon.”

Congressman King became livid about the assertion that President Obama had rejected the mission.

“That’s a typical New York Times lie. It’s a lie,” King told the Press. “President Obama did not disapprove it in any way. There were reasons why it was put off for several weeks which had nothing to do with any president’s decisions.”

King said he was privy to those details, but he wouldn’t comment on the record.

So far the raid is under investigation by the Department of Defense, according to Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer. An officer in the Navy Reserve, Spicer told the White House press corps in his briefing the morning after Trump’s Joint Address that he’d been watching the State of the Unions for 30 years and he’d “never seen a sustained applause like that” for the widow Carryn Owens.

 

 

Suozzi & Zeldin Take Different Approaches to Meeting Their Constituents

For over three hours, freshman Congressman Tom Suozzi took questions from an overwhelmingly supportive crowd gathered at the Mid-Island Y JCC in Plainview for his first town hall event since his taking office in January. The participants ranged from a 98-year-old former Congressman to an 89-year-old refugee who fled Hitler and a seven-year-old who thought the new president is “very bad.”

In the auditorium, it was standing room only as Suozzi set the ground rules for the evening. “I want to make it clear—this is not going to be a Trump rally, so nobody gets to lose their temper and punch somebody if they disagree with them!” He wanted “respectful behavior” and said that all comments should be directed only at him because “I can take it.”

To keep the evening moving, Suozzi suggested they tackle four issues, starting with saving the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the “unusual relationship between the president of the United States and Putin,” the “discriminatory” anti-Muslim travel ban and the deportation of undocumented immigrants that is “destroying neighborhoods.” Then, responding to audience suggestions, he added the environment as well as preserving Medicaid and Social Security.

He even polled the crowd about how long they wanted the town hall to last—9:30 p.m. seemed to win the majority vote but Suozzi was still fielding questions from about a dozen constituents after 10 p.m. while the custodians packed up the chairs to clear out the auditorium.

Suozzi’s approach to meeting his constituents was quite different from the one taken by second-term Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who held an hour-long teleconference from an undisclosed location on the East End. Across the country Republican Representatives who’ve dared to hold town halls during this recess have taken heat from constituents upset at the direction Congress and the White House are going.

Zeldin reportedly took about a dozen questions, touching on Obamacare, gun control, Trump’s conflicts of interest and the rise of anti-Semitism. A caller identified as Joe asked him: “As an American and as a Jew, how do you condone Donald Trump’s belated condemnation of the rise of anti-Semitism that has been going on throughout his campaign and now his presidency?”

Zeldin, who is Jewish, said he was critical of the president for not mentioning the plight of Jews in the administration’s recent Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.

“It’s important that our statements reflect and honor and never forget the loss of millions of other people who weren’t Jewish,” he said. “I also believe it’s very important to mention the fact that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were trying to exterminate the entire Jewish religion.”

Zeldin also condemned the bomb threats against Jewish community centers across the country and the desecration of the Jewish cemetery near St. Louis. Then the same caller asked the Congressman why President Trump hadn’t visited the mosque in Texas that was firebombed on Jan. 28.

“Morally it’s the right thing to do to speak out when there is intimidation, physical threats, violence, destruction of personal property—sacred personal property—speaking out at those moments is a leadership opportunity,” Zeldin replied. “Not only to connect with the people who support you, but many others who maybe didn’t vote for you.”

In Plainview, the public’s outrage over President Trump’s policy pronouncements was palpable from the moment they sat down, waving anti-Trump signs, American flags, and little placards that read “Agree.” Early on, Suozzi asked the audience to raise their hands if they were Trump supporters—only one woman raised hers. Some participants were part of progressive groups like MoveOn and Indivisible, and they’d come from Queens, Nassau and Suffolk to hear him.

“We have to hold the president accountable,” said Suozzi. “Things are a little scary right now.” Indeed, Suozzi praised the Mid-Island Y JCC for holding the public event in light of the nation’s Jewish centers targeted with bomb threats—“67” so far, said a lady from her seat.

At several times during the evening, the town hall took on the air of a political pep rally, as Suozzi repeatedly urged the audience to go out and organize, which many Long Islanders have already done.

In particular he wanted their support for what he called “New York’s Third Will Be Heard,” a volunteer action campaign drawing upon 16 neighborhood regions of the 3rd Congressional District, as shown by two billboard-size maps on display at the front of the stage. The purpose, he said, is to “take all this energy that we’ve got, all this excitement that we’ve got, and use it in a constructive fashion to do the politics to win the battles. That means writing letters to the editor, attending issues meetings, that means going to other town hall meetings, that means running for office, that means supporting people for local office, because one of the reasons the country’s ended up the way it is right now is because the Democrats have not done a good enough job organizing locally throughout this country.”

He vowed to keep on pushing and fighting to get answers to the questions facing the nation as Trump settles into power.

“We can’t hate the Trump supporters,” he said. “The reality is that many of them are in desperate conditions as well. They don’t realize what they’ve gotten themselves into.”

He urged the activists in the audience not to underestimate their influence, referring to the Congressional Republicans’ inability to eliminate Obamacare without coming up with a valid replacement and the courts’ decision delaying Trump’s travel ban after nationwide protests sprung up against it.

In response to a questioner’s concern that Russia meddled with the November election, Suozzi said it’s time for “reasonable Americans” to put the love for their country before their party and help get bipartisan support to find out what’s going on between Putin and Trump. “If you care about your country, you want to know the answer to this question,” Suozzi said. Since the McCarthy era, he noted that the Republicans have tried to paint the Democrats as “the unpatriotic ones and the Republicans as the patriotic ones, which is not true at all!”

Suozzi admitted he has drawn some heat himself—even from his own political advisers—for joining a new bipartisan group of Congressmen called “the Problem Solvers Caucus,” consisting of 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans. He said working across the aisle to find common ground is going to be key in the coming years considering that the GOP controls the White House and Congress.

“Right now Chuck Schumer is probably the most powerful Democrat in the United States of America because he’s the bulwark” of the opposition against the conservatives’ agenda, Suozzi said, referring to New York’s senior U.S. Senator.

Perhaps the most combative moment came when a young man near the back of the auditorium demanded that Suozzi proclaim his support for Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee, which will vote on Saturday in Atlanta. Suozzi refused, but he wouldn’t say who he preferred, either. “I don’t want to get into DNC politics,” he said. The contest seems to come down to Ellison, a liberal Muslim-American, and Thomas Perez, who was the secretary of Labor in the Obama administration. The majority of the audience at the JCC seemed eager to move on to other matters.

“This is so powerful that you are in this room and that there are so many of you like this in places like this all over the country!” Suozzi exclaimed. “Don’t blow it by fighting against ourselves!” That response drew loud support from the audience.

Among those on hand who weighed in on Obamacare were several cancer survivors and their spouses who made a passionate pitch for keeping the program in some form. One man whose wife has a pre-existing condition said that “we need to amend it, not end it.” Suozzi said he prefers single payer but “the problem is that the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies have much too much influence” in health care policy, which makes it harder to fix.

Health care was the top topic at Zeldin’s teleconference, according to his staff who conducted a survey of those on the line. The Shirley Congressman said, “No one wants to pull the rug out from anyone who is currently covered. That is an important focus of mine.” He noted that his fellow New York Republican Representatives are working to “mitigate” the effects of an “outright repeal” because the state would stand to lose billions of dollars in Medicaid. Nor does Zeldin support measures that would weaken Social Security or Medicare.

Addressing his Nassau audience’s concerns about health care, gun violence and climate change, Suozzi said the main stumbling block always boiled down to money “because if you’re not paying attention, money will always control the conversation.”

Occasionally, when someone would ask Suozzi about a certain bill, he had to admit he’d only been in office “50 days.” He conceded that he and his staff were feeling “overwhelmed” trying to deal with the myriad of important issues all pressing for their attention, and he’s had “very little free time.” But he promised he would get up to speed on the particulars. In Congress he’s serving on the foreign affairs and the armed services committees.

Seated in the front row across from Suozzi’s wife Helene was former Congressman Lester Wolff, 98, a Great Neck Democrat, who smiled broadly when Suozzi introduced him. Two hours later when he got up to leave, Suozzi gave him the microphone. Wolff said he was very happy to see that the seat he’d held on Long Island from 1964 to 1981 was in “good hands right now.”

On the immigration issue, Anu Raj, who was born in India near New Delhi, told Suozzi that too many Americans today misunderstand what extreme vetting is. Now a citizen, she came to the country when she was 15 years old and told the JCC audience about what she went through two decades ago to enter the United States. “I was put through the ringer,” she said, and she had a green card. At one point at JFK Airport, she felt that she’d been hung upside down. It was a grueling process then, and it’s only gotten stricter, as Suozzi observed. He noticed that she was with her husband and her twin daughters, both born in the U.S., and he posed with them, sparking a round of selfies with the crowd.

“One of the reasons that New York is much more understanding of immigrants and why the Muslim ban is a problem is because we’re surrounded by immigrants and Muslims!” Suozzi said. “If you go out to some places in the country where there are no immigrants and no Muslims, it’s like: ‘Get those people out of here!’ We’ve got a lot of work to do to educate people.”

He pledged to fight for tolerance. “We can’t give up who we are,” he said. “This ban not only makes us less safe—it’s not who we are; it’s not who the United States of America is.”

He recalled how his own father left Italy to come to America as a very young boy. “America is founded on two very fundamental principles,” he said. “All men and women are created equal. It’s not all men and women with green cards are created equal.”

Wearing an Army baseball cap and seated in the front row was Harry Arlin, 89, who was born in Czechoslovakia. “I had the privilege of living briefly under Hitler and I had to run,” said Arlin. “Then I lived under Mussolini and I was incarcerated. Then I lived briefly under Stalin, and I had to run again. Now I’m living briefly under Trump. I’m too old to run again!” The crowd roared with appreciation.

Despite all that’s been going on in Washington—as well as recounting his personal history (“I’ve won a lot and lost a few”)—Suozzi insisted that he believed politics was a noble profession—and he urged people to stay involved.

“You know, John Kennedy used to describe himself as an idealist without illusion,” the Congressman said. “I’m not a sucker. I’m not going to fall for stuff. But I still believe in the country. I still believe in this system. I believe this is a powerful group of people that can make change. The sooner you give up on that, the sooner this country is wrecked.”

Seven-year-old Zachary Aquino, a second grader at Floral Park JLC Elementary School, had to stand on his chair to make his point. Confidently taking the microphone, the youngster said, “I don’t think this is right. Having this president I think is really bad. I don’t know how this happened…It’s good that we’re here tonight. This is a really valuable time that we’ve got to get this stopped. We’ve got to do this. We cannot stop! My name is Zachary.”

“Thank you, Zachary!” said Suozzi, with a smile.

Legendary Joel Grey Hosts Rare Screening of ‘Cabaret’ at Cinema Arts Centre

cabaret

Chalk up another amazing evening of entertainment coming to the Huntington Cinema Arts this Thursday night, when legendary Joel Grey hosts a rare “big screen” presentation of Bob Fosse’s Cabaret, the scintillatingly original musical drama about decadence in 1931 Berlin as the Weimar Republic was about to be swept away forever by Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany.

The movie, which premiered in 1972, earned Grey an Oscar for his role as the leering, sneering Emcee of the seedy Kit Kat Club, where the vulnerable performer, Sally Bowles, was played by Liza Minnelli—Judy Garland’s daughter—who won an Oscar, too. The film, based on Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories, earned eight Oscars in total. When it came out on screen, Bob Fosse was already a leading American choreographer, dancer and director, who’d later go on to create “All That Jazz” (1979) and “Chicago” (2002). But nothing ever quite equaled the groundbreaking Cabaret, the movie version of the John Kander and Fred Ebb Broadway musical, where Grey had first created his role of the Emcee on stage in 1966.

As the New York Times reviewer Roger Greenspun wrote in 1972, the film is “not so much a movie musical as it is a movie with a lot of music in it.” He remarked that it had a “general theme of sick sexual ambiguity…as a kind of working motif. The master of sexual ambiguity, and the master of motifs, is again Joel Grey, master of ceremonies at the Kit Kat Klub, the cellar cabaret where Sally sings and dances, and where everything, even the rise of the Third Reich, is ‘beautiful.’”

“An appearance by Tony and Academy Award-winner Joel Grey—at the Cinema Arts Centre or anywhere else—is a major event,” said Dr. Jud Newborn, the Cinema Arts Centers’ special program curator. “This man is a legend, and a unique one at that. But ours is an exclusive for Long Island! And the timing is especially potent for our rare ‘big screen’ showing of Cabaret because the film, with the rise of Nazism as its backdrop, resonates with the crisis of democracy that is roiling America today. We all can’t wait to hear Joel Grey’s ideas on this connection.

“But, of course, the sheer entertainment value of this Oscar-sweeping film, no matter what your politics, cannot be exceeded,” said Newborn. “After all, Joel Grey is on all lists as among the most important Broadway stars of all time.”

He’s an Oscar, Tony and Golden Globe winner.

Grey has just published his new tell-all memoir, Master of Ceremonies, and he’ll be on hand to discuss that as well.

“Grey reveals the risks and excitement of his bisexual life while giving us an amazing inside history of theater from the Vaudeville era to today,” said Newborn. “And think of what he can tell us about Liza Minnelli, his co-star and friend, and so many other celebrated artists!”

A singer, dancer, producer, director and photographer, Grey has lived a fascinating life on and off screen, in the limelight, and in the shadows. In his memoir he reportedly recounts his “fraught but exuberant bisexual love life at a time when any sexual ambiguity was both difficult and dangerous.” From his childhood in Vaudeville acting with his father to performing in gangster-filled nightclubs and basking in the glamour of Hollywood, Grey is a living legend who’s seen it all—and probably done it, too.

As the Emcee would say, “Life is a cabaret, my friends.”

For more information, visit Cinema Arts Centre’s website.

Liza Minelli as Sally Bowles and Joel Grey as the Emcee in “Cabaret.” [Photo courtesy Cinema Arts Centre]