Old York: back to the 70s

Gotta hand it to Ol’ Jo[k]e: he’s makin’ me feel like a twenty-something again! An “oil-crisis”—so seventies! (And didja read on Am Thinker that, not content with strangling US fuel production, he’s selling off our Strategic Petroleum Reserve ?) But amongst many examples, the greatest of these is DIE! (diversity, inclusion, equity). It now permeates our entire culture—again.
Not that I’m interested but I just received Barnes & Noble’s “Books of the Year” list—all about, Y’know, slavery and bigotry in America.
But what I really wanna tell you is about New York City. First of all: in the early 70s it was a dirty, dangerous place. But exciting! And a lot of the theatrical offerings were about “race”, “tolerance”—with a daring side-dollop of glimpses into the gay subculture.
Now it’s a dirty dangerous place again. But exciting?
I’ve seen two plays so far in this long awaited seasonal reopening of live theatre. Both are about how awful and unfair it is, or was, to be black in America.
Yesterday we saw “Trouble in Mind”, a “daring”, “thought-provoking” play from (prepare for future shock) 1955! Whooo! It didn’t make it to Broadway back then, we were admonished before the curtain rose, because the author refused to “tone it down”. It’s about how tough it was in 1955 for black actors to get any parts that weren’t stereotypical. As produced in NY this season, it consisted of innumerable scenes (okay I dozed through a few of them; I think it’s the effect of the oxygen deprivation from the required face mask) of black actors in blackface, grimacing and groveling and shuffling as they “rehearsed” scenes of the play within a play which the plot involves. Lotsa keening and earthy crooning, kneeling, lotsa showing the whites of their eyes and teeth.

Okay maybe in 1955 that woulda been shocking and revelatory to white audiences, like, “gee, you mean they aren’t really LIKE that? It’s just an act?” But now, I found the grotesque self-parody merely excruciatingly embarrassing. I cringed for the black actors. As for the white cast members: do not ask.
But the audience? Even though they looked to be my age or older, they reacted as if they had never heard this stuff before. Like after 60 years of systemic ANTI- racism, my generation still needs to go back to school, like the idea of “tolerance” (no, I know) equality, equal justice,etc, are sump’n NEW to us? They spontaneously applauded when the lead actress, after a rant complaining about black actresses only getting to play maids, concluded with the line “I’m holdin’ CLASS today!” Oh, hit us AGAIN, you sassy truth teller!
And on the other marquees on Broadway? “To Kill a Mockingbird”. “Ain’t too Proud” . “For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide:When the Rainbow is Enuf.” Yes, “enuf”.)
Been here, done this. A long time ago.
The sparking city has lost its edge, the Big Apple is more like a dried fruit now.
Welcome to Old York.


It must almost make the audience members long for that original fast-acting Covid – the one shown in those first videos from China where well-dressed working-age men dropped dead in the street. Or in this case, in the auditorium. That way, the audience would not have to endure the whole sorry performance.

Presumably, the issue is that today the majority of the cast must be of African heritage – because those of African heritage are so badly treated (unlike, say, the Irish). Since there are so few good playwrights today writing material which fits that niche, producers end up going back to the Eisenhower era. Cutting edge!