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Oh PETA, oh PETA, with your naked protests and fake blood and…sea kittens. You mean well, but you come across as so…strange. There are better ways to draw attention to the plight of animals, and to encourage vegetarianism.
Most of your protests seem to be something more along the lines of trench warfare, getting down and dirty in crafting your next move. You tend to go for the shock value, trying to get at people’s guts rather than their hearts, with some success. I can’t deny, many a vegetarian has been created after visiting your website or watching your protests. Nothing wrong with creating vegetarians, most became vegetarian after learning about the violent nature of the meat and poultry industry, and depriving the industry of that insatiable demand for meat (and I suppose fur and other animal-derived products) is the best way to reduce these practices. Yet you haven’t shied away from using violent (throwing fake blood at people wearing furs) and underhanded methods in expressing your discontent with the industry as a whole, which seems to defeat the purpose of PETA. People are, after all, animals too.
I think what set me off is this article from Newsday, about a PETA protest at an elementary school in Hempstead, a town on Long Island. It’s one thing to target adults, who are at a point in their lives where they have the ability to grapple with the (often horrifying) details of animal mistreatment. It’s another thing to target young children, who are still vulnerable and cannot necessarily handle all those realities. What a way to target them too! Protesters dressed up as circus animals and handed out coloring books entitled “Circuses are not fun for animals.” Seriously PETA? Do you know what the ramifications are of that? These kids are young, they can’t logically say “oh I won’t go to the circus because they mistreat animals” and not run through the other, dizzying possibilities that exist, real or imagined. Let kids have their childhood, leave it to the adults to initiate change…since they are in a better position to do that than the kids are. I’m surprised PETA hasn’t gone around to school cafeterias dressed up as farm animals with propaganda to inform kids that their hamburgers and hot dogs didn’t come from a quaint, little farm.
There are better ways to inform our children that what they think they know about animals in their day to day lives may not be what it seems. Why scare them, especially at such a young age? That is incredibly irresponsible. Please, if you’re not going to tone down the nature of your protests, at least keep them away from children. Leave it to their parents and teachers to choose whether to tell them or not, and how to tell them.
There Really Is No Business Like Show Business
The time: January 2009
The place: Broadway
The event: A total of 14 productions (including three long-running Best Musical Tony winners, two shows with multiple Tony wins, three musicals by Tony-winning writers and/or directors, a high-profile revival of a play with Hollywood stars, the last original play by a recently departed playwright, two limited engagement holiday shows, one Chinese spectacle, and the triumphant return of Liza Minnelli) closed.
It’s Steven here from Penguins and Procrastination. Last summer, I worked at a well-respected, professional (or for those in the know, Equity) theatre upstate New York. In the lineup of shows were four popular musicals that can be brought up in everyday conversation. However, even with loyal patrons and repeat subscribers, the theatre had trouble filling the seats. With $4.00 gas prices and the urge to save money, regular theatergoers were not willing to make their annual trips to their favorite regional theatre or stay for the after-show cabarets. Similar situations have been seen across the nation, causing many regional theatres to shut their doors or be in danger of doing so.
These instances may be a serious wake-up call for any aspiring theatre professional, such as the one writing this blog post. And it is. The nation’s economic crisis has affected all industries, and it is no secret that Broadway and the theatre in general have been hit hard. What does this mean for someone like me who is taking his first steps into that elusive field called show business? A few things come to mind, and not all of them are scary.
In the midst of all the drama surrounding the economic state, I have found that New York City is never at a loss for theatre opportunities and auditions, and those auditions are teeming with talent. The theatre scene is just as competitive as ever. This is a good thing. Competition is a healthy aspect of show business. The quality of talent is not necessarily diminishing with the gloomy economy. Standards of talent have not decreased, which means that from an artistic point of view, the theatre continues to thrive.
It is a fact that in this economy, people still make a living by working in the theatre. It may true that actors have to accept gigs that pay less than they’re used to, but to be working in a show means a steady paycheck for the duration of that contract. Out-of-state theatre gigs and tours help people save money since they don’t have to worry about paying rent for however long the contract is (as long as they sublet their apartment or any similar alternative). Also, many theatre people have other jobs to help pay the bills. These jobs are flexible and don’t go out of style, whether it is working at a restaurant or offering services such as photography, web design, or music or dance expertise to fellow actors. Let’s be honest: someone working in the theatre probably knows what it’s like to have a smaller salary than someone working in corporate America, so a year of slightly less pay is manageable.
If the economy has scared anyone out of a career in show business, it hasn’t ended the life of the business itself. In fact, Broadway has adapted to the economic climate. Sure, intimate or experimental musicals such as 13, [title of show], and most recently The Story of My Life have all failed on the Great White Way, but there are only four empty houses on Broadway currently (that’s a low number of empty Broadway theatres). The focus of shows playing on Broadway has shifted to uplifting tales during economic hardship (like Mary Poppins, In the Heights, and the brilliant Billy Elliot) or family-friendly crowd pleasers (The Little Mermaid and Shrek). I realize that four of the five shows I just mentioned are based on movies, but this is a way the theatre has redefined itself to stay afloat. If this is not Broadway’s proudest trend, at least it has kept itself alive. (More screen-to-stage Broadway transfers coming up: Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 and the U2/Julie Taymor Spider-Man musical, with Sister Act, The First Wives Club, Ghost, The Addams Family, Catch Me If You Can, and Slumdog Millionaire in the works.) This isn’t the first time a gimmick put Broadway back on its feet. In the aftermath of 9/11, jukebox musicals helped bring people back to the theatre. One of the original jukebox musicals, Mamma Mia!, is still playing worldwide and was turned into one of the most successful movie musicals ever.
The times reflect and reshape every medium within the entertainment industry. The requirements of a theatre professional are always changing, economic crisis or not. Of course, it is wise to be a bit more conscious about money right now, but the theatre is far from dead. I’m currently working at a dinner theatre in Florida with actors who are happy to be employed and audiences who relish a good night at the theatre. I’m also returning to that suffering theatre I worked at last summer for one of their biggest seasons yet in terms of the caliber of their lineup of musicals. The economy has claimed some victims in the theatre world, but this is all part of the natural evolution of theatre itself. Broadway will survive, the theatre will prevail, and the show must go on.
Steven holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Emerson College. Originally from Long Island, he is currently performing in Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson, FL. He urges everyone to support the performing arts in any way possible, especially in schools. Check out his blog, Penguins and Procrastination.
I am a huge Yankee fan, and while my gut instinct is to forgive and forget his transgressions, his attempt at an apology seemed wholly lacking.
It’s not like he singlehandedly destroyed the sport, the sport was already tainted by those that came before him (Bonds, McGwire, Canseco, et. al.). Yet his status as one of the greatest home-run hitters of all time sheds a particularly unfriendly light on him and his sin of steroid use.
What do you think? Should he be booted from the Yankees? Should his records be nullified?
I spent most of my formative years in the nurturing cocoon of the Clinton administration. I was vaguely aware of Bush 41, but the first president I chose (in my head) was Clinton, so he was really my president. I didn’t really know what war was. I had heard of the first Gulf War, but it seemed less a war, more a way to keep a madman at bay. I knew something of Bosnia and Serbia, but these were minor engagements (especially compared to what we’re involved in now). All I was aware of was economic excess and of prosperity. I assumed that everything always came easily, not necessarily without work, but without worry. I realize now that I was wrong to assume. This is not to say Bush 43 is entirely at fault, or that Clinton is blameless. There were mistakes being made everywhere, on Capitol Hill, on Wall Street, in banks, and in our own living rooms. Now the fruits have been borne from our mindless sins of ignorance.
I was talking to a sixth grader I tutor yesterday and we ended up discussing various things. At one point, she asked me about medicine and how long it takes to become a doctor. I laughed and went through the whole spiel. I told her that if she doesn’t take any breaks in between, she’ll probably be in her late twenties by the time she starts working. It was the truth; the road to becoming a doctor is a long, winding, pothole-ridden road. She sighed before declaring the world was probably going to end before then. I was taken a little aback by her pointedly frank pessimism, especially given her age. Pessimism wasn’t supposed to kick in until at least the angst-ridden teen years. Yet as I thought about it more, I realized she was right to assume, and right to worry. We have become conditioned to fear.
I’m not saying the world is going to end. Obviously that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that the smooth sailing we have had for the last decade or so has come to an end in the most unceremonious and clumsy fashion possible. Gone are the times when wide-eyed, college graduates can expect a job waiting for them within months after their graduation, followed by buying their first home, setting up their children’s trust fund, and letting their 401(k)s bloat with money. Employers no longer are waiting at the end of the college road with open arms and a fat paycheck. Instead we are seeing college grads moving back with their parents, as they wait and wait for employers to come calling. Over 2.6 million jobs were lost in 2008, and the number continues to grow. As the economy shrinks, states are now cutting spending in places that could have drastic consequences (like Paterson cutting hospital spending in New York State in a time where healthcare is suffering). Again I used to assume that doctors were at least a little immune to economic crises; after all, there’s always a need for doctors right? Yet when hospitals can’t afford to take on new doctors, and when people can’t afford to get healthcare, even doctors are finding it difficult to find work. There is no real certainty in the current economic climate, and the possible ramifications are frightening.
As I was buying my ticket to Penn Station from my home station, I saw a man who asked me for a buck or two towards a train ticket. This wasn’t your typical bum though, and this wasn’t the city. This was Long Island. He looked like any other Joe Schmo who lived on Long Island. Maybe I’m naive to have even entertained the idea that Long Island was somehow, immune, from the economic downturn. I can’t help but think that the number of people booted onto the streets will increase as the economy continues to sink.
Many of you must be reading this and thinking, “She is such a pessimist” and “This is so depressing.” It’s the truth. No one wants to envision a world where we have to be fearful for our livelihood as well as for our lives. Certainly we don’t want that for ourselves, and we definitely don’t want that for our children. We want our children to know that they can do anything they want, with little worry, assuming they put in the effort. Yet it’s something to keep in the back of your mind. To continue assuming that everything is perfectly peachy is a sign of sure insanity.
Yet to those that say, “Why bother doing anything if we’re just destined for a rough road to employment in the end?” the point is not to give up, the point is to work harder. Employers (presumably) will favor the more qualified candidates over the guy or girl who just scraped through with a bachelors degree. Go for the unpaid internships to get your foot in the door. Network as much as you can, a resume and transcript can only tell so much about a person. Do whatever you can, short of stepping on another guy’s toes.
We’ll have to make some changes to the way we conduct our lives now. We can’t continue the same wasteful practices that landed us here in the first place. We can’t allow the market to operate of its own volition. We need strict regulations to rein everything back to some sort of stable state. It’s important to note that all situations are temporary, good times, and bad. I’m just hoping that, for the time being, the stimulus plan passed by Congress will have its intended effect sooner rather than later.
Until then, we have to work hard and stay positive. This, too, shall pass.
Despite reports by three New York newspapers stating the contrary, Caroline Kennedy has in fact, not dropped her bid. While the Post reported she dropped her bid due to a poor likelihood of getting the seat, the New York Times reported it was due to her uncle Ted Kennedy’s ailing health. However, David Gregory of MSNBC’s “Meet the Press” confirmed that Kennedy is still in the running.
Yay I really do want to see Kennedy in the Senate.
EDIT: She withdrew her bid this morning. Man, way to raise my hopes.
No, no dear I’m not a first timer. I voted once for president by absentee ballot, this is my first presidential election voting in a voting booth. I’m just having trouble with the stupid curtain, thank you very much.
It’s some surprise that we haven’t all upgraded to newer, sleeker voting machines. Instead, we here in my hometown are stuck with voting machines Noah must have used to punch his ballot. Seriously…it’s kind of silly. But otherwise, I had a mercifully short voting experience. The line was oh…five minutes. Thank goodness for multiple polling locations in one town, and even funnier that we’re a pretty small town. I think I may have killed myself otherwise.
The other source of amusement: how a lot of people were looking at me like “holy crap, it’s one of them young, non-white ones!” The rest of the people voting (at least when I went) probably were an average age of 50…plus or minus ten years. All were white, except one guy signing in voters and one woman who I think was a voting official. Welcome to my world.
I’m surprised at how Republican my little corner of New York is. New York, though, always goes blue and the same will be the case today. So I’m not too worried. It’s just the rest of the country I’m worried about. While I feel bad pushing my views on other people, I think here it’s ok to be a little pushy. All you people who live in Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Florida, and Pennsylvania…PLEASE VOTE FOR OBAMA. Ultimately the choice is yours, I’m just helping you make that choice.
Let’s hope for change today, change for the better, a change for a brighter future.
For now, I want to go to one of those election parties! To quote from my brother “today feels like Christmas!” I swear he meant it jokingly.
I will probably develop lung cancer before I leave NYU, and I’m probably only going to be there a year. No, I am not a smoker, never have smoked and probably never will (yes, this includes hookah). Yet never have I seen so much smoking in one place, ever. This is especially a problem near the Bobst Library. As soon as you step out of the library, you are enveloped in a cloud of smoke, courtesy of at least five or six people within a foot of the building, and another six or so another three or four feet beyond that. Walk down West 4th and you’ll encounter at least another ten or fifteen, smoking. Holding my breath is out of the question, it’s not like there’s much room to breathe clean air.
Am I just being whiny? I don’t think so. Everyone is entitled to good health, and everyone has a choice as to whether or not they want to smoke or not. Likewise, people should have a choice as to whether they want to breathe in someone else’s smoke. While people smoking on the street can’t be stopped, people smoking near buildings can.
There are already laws being pushed nationwide to set restrictions on smoking near buildings, most between 10 and 15 feet of a building, some as high as 25 or 50. In fact, the CUNY system has banned smoking on its campuses. Why not NYU or other private universities in New York State? Even Cornell was bad, but at least there was open air to allow the smoke to dissipate…not so much the case for colleges in New York City. Why do we have to pass through clouds of smoke to enter almost all of the buildings on campus? Why do we have to gag and cough at every step? I’m almost certain that there is law in New York calling for a 10 ft. radius outside of which people can smoke, though for the life of me I can’t find it. If there isn’t a law in place, there should be one and it should be strictly enforced. Washington state already has a 25 ft. ban in place, why can’t New York follow suit? Why are our politicians (pardon the expression) pussy-footing around this issue? Smoking has no benefits, it is a physical and societal detriment…why encourage it?
I’d like my lungs and voice intact. I sing, I talk, I laugh, and I live. I’d like to keep it that way, preferably for several decades if I can help it.