Friday, October 19, 2018


A book I love is ALL ABOUT ALL ABOUT EVE.  Sam Staggs wrote it.  And I read his book on SUNSET BLVD and I liked it but I'm not a big fan of that film.  (I'm writing that despite knowing from C.I. that Sam loves it and is even glad that there is no footage somewhere that was cut from it because he wouldn't want anything changed in SUNSET BLVD).

So I grabbed WHEN BLANCHE MET BRANDO with some trepidation.  I love A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE a lot more than SUNSET BLVD but it's not a film I need to see over and over.  I'm fine with seeing it about once every five years or so.


Well this is an excellent book.  If you're a big fan of the film -- or even the play -- or just a little one, you're going to find out so much about this book. 

You learn how Vivien Leigh's film performance differed from Jessica Tandy's Broadway performance.  You'll learn how Marlon Brando wowed in both.  You'll learn about the play, about the score, about revivals.

On the latter, you'll learn about Faye Dunaway and Jon Voight doing a revival in L.A. and how that went.  Their battle, actually, was fully in character. 

You'll learn about other productions. 

And a ton of other details.  Here's one I did not know and found fascinating:

Edna Thomas, an African-American, played the Mexican woman ("Flores para los muertos") on Broadway from opening night to closing without missing a performance.  Interviewed at Warner Bros. while re-creating the role on film, she referred to the years of her spotless record at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre as "a career in itself."
Born in Lawrenceville, Virginia, in 1885 and raised in Boston, Thomas spent most of her life in New York.  She made her Broadway debut in 1925 in a bill of two one-act plays by Eugene O'Neill.  In one of these -- The Emperor Jones -- she costarred with Paul Robeson.  In the twenties and thirties, Thomas appeared periodically on Broadway, though her greatest triumph took place upton in 1936.  She played Lady Macbeth in Orson Welle's legendary Macbeth in Harlem at the Lafayette Theatre, 132nd Street and Seventh Avenue.   This production, which twenty-year-old Welles directed for the WPA-sponsored Federal Theatre Project's Negro Unit, came to be known as the "Voodoo Macbeth" because of its setting Haiti in the nineteenth century.  (The witches were transformed into voodoo priestesses.)
Photographs of Edna Thomas as Lady Macbeth suggest a regal combination of Lena Horne and Anjelica Huston.  She looks at least fifteen years younger than her actual age, which was fifty-one.  Although many in the Harlem community resented this "Shakespeare in blackface" directed by a white man, Welles soon won over Edna Thomas through his consideration for her and his regard for her work.  Once in the good graces, he soon earned the loyalty of others in the cast, for she was respected for her professionalism and dignity.
But, as Actors Studio cofounder Robert Lewis pointed out, "there were few parts offered in those days for actresses like . . . the beautiful Edna Thomas, who made such a staggering success as Lady Macbeth . . .  She was in almost nothing else until she played the Mexican woman crossing the stage in A Streetcar Named Desire."
Her only film appearance was in Streetcar.  In 1956, she reprised the role of the Mexican woman in the problematic revival starring Tallulah Bankhead as Blanche.  Edna Thomas died in 1974.

This is a great book and it entertains.  Sam Stagg is a wonderful writer.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, October 18, 2018.  More US troops ready to deploy to Iraq -- all the more reason to take part in the March on the Pentagon this weekend -- and is Iraq to be the first victim in the coming water wars?

CLARKSVILLENOW reports, "The Department of the Army announced Thursday, Oct. 18 the winter 2018 rotation to Iraq of the 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky."

Yes, US troops are still in Iraq, 15 years after the start of the war.  Yes, US troops are still being sent to Iraq.  It apparently doesn't matter who is in the White House, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will continue forever and ever as other wars are started along the way.  Bully Boy Bush, Barack Obama and now Donald Trump.  The wars continue.  They don't end.  They just keep going on and on.

Oh my, my, my
I'm feeling high
My money's gone
I'm all alone
The world is turnin'
Oh what a day
-- "On & On," written by Erykah Badu and Jaborn Jamal, first appears on Erykah's BADUIZM.

Ready to end the wars?  It's going to take standing up.  This weekend is Women's March on the Pentagon in DC with actions also springing up throughout the country.

To Confront the Bi-Partisan War Machine

In response to the continuing march of military aggression by the USA and to put an antiwar agenda back on the table of activists, we are calling for a Women's (and allies) March on the Pentagon tentatively set for the 51st anniversary of the 1967 big antiwar event in DC and subsequent march on the Pentagon that had 50,000 people! We are also inspired by the 1980 Women's March On The Pentagon.

If you don't like Trump (and who doesn't), we have something for you too! Just think TRUMP'S BLOATED FINGER IS ON THE NUCLEAR BUTTON! 

However, this is NOT, nor will it turn into a Get Out the Vote Rally for the Democrat 1/2 of the War Party. This is a principled call to action against the entire rotten Empire in solidarity with oppressed and occupied women (and their families) all over the world.

This is a clearinghouse for volunteering and putting together the event---it will be updated regularly as more information is added.


  • The writing is on the wall. The time to dismantle the war machine is now. Join us this weekend.
    In February, Cindy Sheehan spoke with about her hopes for a rekindling of the antiwar movement and her plans for the Women's March on the Pentagon.
    news analyst Nicole Roussel joins the show to discuss the upcoming , how war affects women and children, how both Democrats and Republicans support the US war machine and more. Listen live here:
    The is about more than just militarization abroad. It's about imperialism worldwide.
    Thank you Veronica Just in time for the Oct 21st
    On the call with and talking about and the anti-war movement. Join us at
    Women's March on the Pentagon this weekend in Washington. October 20 and 21.
    Come one, come all! is the place to be! Join Alison Weir along with many other peace loving people on Oct. 21, 2018! . . . . . . . . . . .
    Hey ! Stand in solidarity with the Women’s March on the Pentagon at your local action!
    Hey ! Stand in solidarity with the Women’s March on the Pentagon at your local action!
    Hey ! Stand in solidarity with the Women’s March on the Pentagon at your local action!
    Plucille Retweeted Women’s March on the Pentagon
    So amazing Eleanor Goldfield!! Thank you!!
    Plucille added,
    We're ready, we're coming. Huge thanks to and for projecting on the Newseum in DC tonight. Join us this weekend to call for an end to the bipartisan war machine.
    Writing’s on the wall - literally. Out projecting with before this weekend’s
    Hey , NY! Stand in solidarity with the Women’s March on the Pentagon at your local action!
    Join us this Sunday at the Pentagon!

    The wars keep going -- on and on -- and you can make your voice heard or you can just stay silent and hope that our politicians suddenly sprout a spine.  How's that hope been working out for you?

    False hopes and lies -- if it weren't for those, the Iraq War would have ended long ago.  It's always a 'turned corner' to hear the press tell it.  Iraq's on the rise -- finally!  But after the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk is done splashing, the reality is the same as it was before.  Toby Dodge (FOREIGN AFFAIRS) observes:

    At last, after months of deadlock following national elections in May, Iraq is on its way to a new government. The president, Barham Saleh, and prime minister, Adil Abdul Mahdi, are both veteran Iraqi politicians known as technocrats and reformers. The international community greeted their ascent with optimism, in the hope that these figures will drag the government out of the corruption, institutional incoherence, and alienation in which it has been mired since 2003.
    But the international community has repeatedly invested too much hope in the ability of one or two individuals to change an entire failing system. Today’s narrative conjures up memories of a version from 2006, when Nouri al-Maliki replaced Ibrahim al-Jaafari as prime minister, and 2014, when Haider al-Abadi replaced Maliki. Both leaders subsequently failed to tackle the vested interests and structural constraints that hinder reform.

    Maybe al-Mahdi will turn out to be MLK and Mahatma Gandhi rolled into one.  More likely, he won't.  But his appearance on the scene does not change the realities that Iraq is facing.  This includes the issue of the water.  Yes, Turkey's now saying it will stop blocking at least some of the water but the summer season is already over and the crops that should have been planted will have to wait (possibly next year) and the live stock that managed to live on very little water looks weathered and thin in the photos ALJAZEERA shows.   The water issue threatens the Mandaens and their way of life.  Philip Issa (AP) reports:

    Every Sunday in Iraq, along a strip of embankment on the Tigris River reserved for followers of the obscure and ancient Mandaean faith, worshippers bathe themselves in the waters to purify their souls.
    But unlike in ancient times, the storied river that runs through Baghdad is fouled by untreated sewage and dead carp, which float by in the fast-moving current.
    “It’s very saddening. Our religious books warn us not to defile the water. There are angels watching over it,” said Sheikh Satar Jabar, head of Iraq’s Mandaean community.
    Iraq’s soaring water pollution is threatening the religious rites of its tight-knit Mandaean community, already devastated by 15 years of war that has also affected the country’s other minority sects.

    "Mandaeism follows the teachings of John the Baptist, a saint in both the Christian and Islamic traditions, and its rites revolve around water."

    Society - ‘'s soaring water pollution is threatening the religious rites of its tight-knit community‘
    in threatens Mandaean religious rites - MyMcMurray – Every Sunday in Iraq, along a strip of embankment on the Tigris River reserved for followers of the obscure and ancient Mandaean. …

    The water issues also include oil rich Basra which produces so much wealth for Iraq but which has tap water that can land you in the hospital  SPUTNIK reports:

    The number of people poisoned by polluted drinking water in the Iraqi southern Basra province has reached 111,000, media reported citing a statement by UN Iraqi envoy Mehdi Tamimi.
    Media reported in August that 17,000 people were admitted to hospitals over illnesses contracted from polluted water.
    Tamimi called on the central government and local authorities to adopt a clear position on the issue, according to the Al Sumaria broadcaster.

    Mass protests erupted in Basra in July, and finding a solution to the water crisis was one of the demands of protesters, who also called on the government to address unemployment and the electricity shortage.

     Mamoon Alabbasi (THE ARAB WEEKLY) offers:

    Mass demonstrations that rocked the Iraqi city of Basra, which sometimes spread to other Shia-majority areas in southern Iraq, were not merely about providing jobs and basic services but were also meant to protest against the entire governing system, political activist Mustafa al-Safi told The Arab Weekly in an interview.
    He is from the respected al-Safi family in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq. He said he was an opponent of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the mid-1980s and co-founded the group “Hezbollah Iraq” in the Ahwar marshes in 1994 before fleeing the country and settling in the United States. He returned to Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003.
    Safi said the Basra protests, which flared up in July, were a continuation of demonstrations in the southern city and Baghdad in the past five years.
    “The protesters wanted complete change in the political system, changes that affect the election process, the government, the constitution and the role of Iran,” said Safi. The poor living conditions in the country were symptoms but the cause was a bad system of governance, he argued.

    Also examining the protesters as a block -- a unified one -- is Helene Sallon (LE MONDE):

    From Basra to Najaf, and Al Diwaniya or Baghdad, people let their frustrations be known this past summer. Unlike the reform movement of 2015, it is no longer only a question of jobs and infrastructure, of corruption and the "big whales" who fatten themselves at the expense of everyday people. There is also a violent rejection of the Shia religious parties and the denominational system that has ruled the nation since 2005. Only Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the highest Shia religious authority in Iraq, commands their respect for his support of reforms.
    "Many Shia icons, such as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Moqtada Al-Sadr or Ammar Al-Hakim, whom people used to venerate in Basra, are now jeered," says Taïf Khoudeir, 38, an activist blogger and petroleum engineer who has taken part in all of the city's demonstrations since 2011.
    Fueling this break is the heavy toll paid by the south in the war against ISIS — thousands of volunteers fought in this campaign — and the unfulfilled reform promises made after the protest movement of 2015-2016. "There is an escalation of claims," says Hossam Kaabe, a 39-year-old journalist and activist who lives in the holy Shia city of Najaf, where the uprising was violent this summer. "The demonstrators no longer accept half-measures. They want a radical change. The political parties are seen as a disease."
    This rejection worries the Shia political class all the more because it stems from its electoral base and confirms a disaffection that was already clear during legislative elections in May. Abstention in that vote stood at 57.5% nationwide. It was probably even higher in the Southern provinces. Since then, the winning parties have been jostling to form a government coalition government, and the demonstrators feel as if the politicians are only concerned with their own interests.

    The protests and the water issue are interlinked for a number of reasons.  Richard Spencer (THE BRIEF) explains:

    Have water wars claimed their first high-profile political scalp? That is certainly one way of looking at the downfall of Haider al Abadi, prime minister of Iraq until this month. It does not fall within the usual perspectives journalists and analysts apply to Iraqi politics, which tend to concentrate on the interplay of sectarianism, ethnicity, and the competition for influence between Iran and the United States. However, consider this: despite only coming third in May’s general election, Abadi had reasonable hopes of bagging another term until residents of the southern city of Basra started turning up at hospitals, first in their hundreds, then their thousands, and then tens of thousands, poisoned by the water coming out of their taps. Embarrassingly, a visiting football team was struck down, and even, most recently, the EU ambassador. Protests turned into riots when police opened fire. Among the casualties, burned to blackened hulks, were the Iranian consulate, the governorate building, and the headquarters of most of the major political and militia factions in the city. Ten young men were killed. The final casualty was Abadi himself who, after the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani suggested that Iraq’s internal decay had gone on long enough and it was time for a change, fell on his sword and announced he would stand down.
    “The protests were aimed at government incompetence and corruption, which is not only real but entirely visible in Basra”
    The protests were aimed at government incompetence and corruption, which is not only real but entirely visible in Basra, a city which sits on a sea of oil but whose suburbs are little more than slums and whose famous canals are silted up with refuse and sewage. However, the water problem is not unique to Basra’s taps. The Basra protests were a mirror of similar riots earlier in the long Gulf summer, 45 kilometers down the road in the southern Iranian cities of Abadan and Khorramshahr on the other side of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, where residents likewise woke up one day and found little more than brown sludge in their pipes.
    For historians and, in general, all those nostalgic about the legacy of the past in the Middle East there is something extraordinary about this, and not just because of the enormous oil wealth involved: Abadan was the Middle East’s first oil city, and is still home to Iran’s major oil refinery, while Basra’s Rumaila oil field is the third biggest in the world. No, Mesopotamia, the land between the rivers, is the home of western civilization for a reason, which is the abundance of the Tigris and the Euphrates, as they meander through the desertifying landscape to the Gulf. Environmentalists have been warning for years that this abundance was being abused, and this year they were finally proved right.

    Are the water wars -- that so many governments (including municipal) have been preparing for finally emerging?  Years from now, will Iraq right now be seen as the start of the water wars?

    Who knows but the Iraqi people are being effected right now.  Bel Trew (INDEPENDENT) reports:

    According to the United Nations Environment Program, Iraq is currently losing around 250 square kilometres of arable land annually – mostly in the south. Desertification is also on the rise.
    The causes of the rural water crisis are many, but it is largely due to the shrinking levels of the Euphrates and Tigris, pounded by climate change and international dams further upstream.
    The disappearing agricultural lands will, however, spark a displacement crisis far beyond what Iraq has already suffered after a three-year war against so-called Islamic State, or Isis. This, experts warn, will in turn put massive pressure on urban centres, contribute to the deterioration of the already volatile security situation, and possibly trigger fresh conflict.
    Iraqi environment ministry officials have told The Independent that if nothing changes and no drastic action is taken to fix the rural water crisis, millions will be on the move.

    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley and the ACLU -- updated:

  • 17 hours ago