Ellen Burstyn’s Lessons on Survival

Ellen Burstyn’s Lessons on Survival

On the Death, Sex, & Money podcast:

When Burstyn was 18, she got on a Greyhound bus going from Detroit to Dallas. She had 50 cents in her pocket and a hunch that she could find work as a model. The actress and director, known for her roles in Alice Doesn’t Live Here AnymoreThe Exorcist, and Requiem For a Dream, says she’d never do that now. But back then, she didn’t doubt herself.

It wasn’t the only risk she took as a young woman. At 18, she’d already gotten pregnant and had an illegal abortion. By her mid-20s, determined not to just get by on her looks, she left Hollywood to study acting with Lee Strasberg. In her mid-40s, after leaving an abusive marriage, she starred as a newly single mom in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. The role was based in part on her own life, and it won her an Oscar.

Now, at 81, she told me she is most proud of her relationship with her son, whom she adopted at birth. “I really think of myself as a work in progress,” Burstyn told me as we sat in wicker furniture in her Manhattan bedroom. “I know I’m a successful actress, but I don’t feel I’m necessarily a successful person.”

Dan Savage says infidelity isn’t a problem in his marriage, but money is

Dan Savage Says Cheating Happens. And That’s OK. – Death, Sex & Money podcast.

Good podcast, but not a great headline. Savage doesn’t say cheating is ok. He says you should decide with your partner what your commitment will be regarding other sexual partners, and then honor that commitment.

He also says that most monogamous marriages experience cheating at least once, and that’s not OK. It’s WRONG WRONG WRONG. But if you love each other, the marriage can survive it and do OK afterward.

Savage describes his own marriage as “monogamish.”

A Clinton-hater’s wise observation

I’m a Clinton supporter, as you know. But what may not be entirely clear is that I don’t just support her because the alternative is Trump.

That is a sufficient reason to support Clinton. That is a sufficient reason to support anyone. If the Democrats were running a chimpanzee against Trump, I’d support the chimpanzee.

And yet there’s more to it with me and Clinton. I think she’ll be a good president. Or, to be more precise, I think she has the POTENTIAL to be a good president. Maybe even one of our greatest Presidents, on a caliber with the Roosevelts and Harry S. Truman.

I got in a conversation with a Clinton-hater the other day, who declared that she is the most paranoid Presidential candidate since Richard Nixon, and her administration would quickly, like Nixon’s second term, become paralyzed by scandals of her own invention.

Since then, I’ve surprised myself to find I agree with my friend. She IS paranoid. Justifiably so, given her career of being dogged by Republicans who make up lies about her and spread them to millions of willing supporters. Republicans lied that she’s a closet lesbian, they lied that she murdered Vince Foster, they lied that she made money on insider real estate deals in Arkansas (in fact the Clintons LOST money). They lied that she faked being sick during the first Benghazi hearings, and they are lying now that she is faking being essentially healthy other than pneumonia that she’ll get over. Republicans lie that she has somehow coopted three Republican prosecutors who have cleared her of wrongdoing that would get anybody else thrown in prison. Etc. etc. etc. I’m sure there’s a list somewhere of all the Republican lies about Hillary Clinton.

And yet paranoia would be Clinton’s undoing. Even if it is justified.

There’s an old joke that goes: Are you paranoid if they really ARE out to get you? That’s supposed to be a rhetorical question, with the answer: No. Paranoia, according to the premise of the joke, is the DELUSION of persecution. No delusion, no paranoia.

But the reality is you can be both paranoid and persecuted. And that’s Clinton’s problem.

Is priority queueing un-American?

The good old American serpentine queue is highly democratic. Rich or poor, saint or sinner, it’s first come, first served. Or first to the urinal. Or whatever. But priority queuing lets people with more money pay for faster access — to amusement parks, public highways, and more.

Waiting in Line – Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything podcast.

Not mentioned in the podcast: My favorite, favorite, favorite priority queue: The TSA Pre program.

Bob “Happy Little Trees” Ross had  naturally straight hair 

He got his hair permed when he got out of the Air Force, and was unsuccessfully trying to make a living as a painter, says longtime business partner Annette Kowalski.

Danny Hajek, NPR:

“He got this bright idea that he could save money on haircuts. So he let his hair grow, he got a perm, and decided he would never need a haircut again,” Kowalski explains.

Before he could change it back, though, the perm became his company’s logo — Ross hated it. “He could never, ever, ever change his hair, and he was so mad about that,” Kowalski says. “He got tired of that curly hair.”

Ross was a meticulous businessman whose every move on his TV series “The Joy of Painting,” was scripted in advance. He did three copies of every painting he did on the show. His art supply company is still in business today, more than 20 years after his death, and the show is coming to Netflix.

Kowalski discovered Ross “in the aftermath of a family tragedy.” Her oldest son was killed in a traffic accident. All she could do afterward “was lay on the house and watch television.”

She watched a painter named Bill Alexander, who was big on PBS back then. Kowalski’s husband was desperate to get her out of the house, so he signed her up for Alexander’s painting class, 900 miles away in Clearwater, Fla. But then Alexander stopped teaching and passed his classes off to an unknown protege.

“I was very disappointed,” Kowalski says. “I so wanted to paint with Bill Alexander. But my husband said, ‘Get up. Get in the car. We’re going.’ ”

It was a five-day class in a hotel conference room. At the easel upfront was a guy with a perm who went by Bob. His paintings were good, but when he started talking to the class, that’s when Kowalski knew she had met someone special.

Donald Trump has spent his life being ridiculed by serious people. Now he’s hitting back.

Journalist McKay Coppins is often blamed for the Trump candidacy following a blistering 2014 profile. Now he looks at what makes Trump tick.

Trump is still the young man whose father and grandfather made it big in the outer boroughs, desperately trying — and failing — to get taken seriously in Manhattan. An episode later in Trump’s life in Palm Beach, when he bought an estate called Mar a Lago and tried to get accepted by high society, shows what’s like being Trump:

“You know, in Palm Beach there’s an in-crowd and an out-crowd and no matter how much money he has, he will never be a part of Palm Beach’s inner circle,” socialite Marlene Rathgeb told the Miami Herald in 1986, adding, “The fact that Trump is Jewish and because he’s nouveau riche turns a lot of people off.” When a rumor circulated that he’d been denied membership to the exclusive Bath & Tennis Club, Trump furiously disputed the claim, insisting even decades later, “I can get in if I wanted to. If I wanted to, I can get anything. I’m the king of Palm Beach.”

When the whole nasty ordeal was finally over and Mar-a-Lago was his, Trump looked endlessly for ways to take revenge on his stuck-up neighbors. He had DJs blast music loud enough for all the “stuffy cocksuckers” in town to hear. In 2006, he installed an 80-foot flagpole in brazen defiance of local zoning ordinances, and then left it up for six months — a towering middle finger to the Palm Beach pooh-bahs who were heaping fines on him.

Pokémon Go is everything that is wrong with late capitalism

Pokemon Go takes money out of local communities and centralizes it to big corporations, and that’s what’s wrong with late capitalism, says Timothy B. Lee at Vox:

If you were looking to have fun with some friends 50 years ago, you might have gone to a bowling alley. Maybe you would have hung out at a diner or gone to the movies.

These were all activities that involved spending a certain amount of money in the local economy. That created opportunities for adults in your town to start and run small businesses. It also meant that a teenager who wanted to find a summer job could find one waiting tables or taking tickets at the movie theater.

You can spend money on Pokémon Go too. But the economics of the game are very different. When you spend money on items in the Pokémon Go world, it doesn’t go into the pocket of a local Pokémon entrepreneur — it goes into the pockets of the huge California- and Japan-based global companies that created Pokémon Go.

There are, of course, some good things about this. Pokémon Go can be a much more affordable hobby than going to a bowling alley or the movies. In fact, you don’t have to spend any money on it. And the explosion of options made possible by online platforms creates real value — the average teenager has vastly more options for games to play, movies to watch, and so forth than at any time in American history.

Clean money

Because of loopholes in disclosure laws for large cash transactions, real estate is a great way to launder money. So if you’ve got a million dollars in illegally obtained cash lying around, a luxury Manhattan apartment is a good place for it.

How To Hide A Million Dollars In Plain Sight – Planet Money

There are apartments in cities around the world where the lights do not go on at night. The apartment is empty. And it’s hard to tell who owns it or where the money to buy the apartment came from.

And that’s because some of that money is from questionable origins. If you have a lot of money to hide, you can park that cash in real estate. You hide the money in plain sight. You turn a fancy apartment into a giant piggy bank or secret vault.

On today’s show, the international quest to try answer a simple question: Who owns Apartment 5B?

Saudi Arabia plans a $2 trillion megafund to carry the country’s wealth past the decline of oil

The misogynistic, homophobic, terrorism-supporting medieval hereditary religious dictatorship has plans to extend its influence into the 21st Century, even after oil ceases to be all-important. Yipee!

Saudi Arabia Plans $2 Trillion Megafund for Post-Oil Era: Deputy Crown Prince [John Micklethwait, Glen Carey, Alaa Shahine, and Matthew Martin – Bloomberg]

Home again home again

I’m headed home after 10 days on the road, which is I think the longest I’ve been away in 10 years since my father passed. I spent four days in Chicago for Light Reading’s Big Telecom Event. Then I spent another day in Chicago for staff meetings. Then Julie joined me for five five days in Columbus and Athens, Ohio, visiting her family, whom we hadn’t seen for three years. And now I’m on a plane back home.

It was an eventful trip. The conference was a success, with much good insight and connecting with peers. I’ll post links here later to the articles I wrote from the conference. I got to meet a few colleagues face-to-face whom I haven’t met before. We’re a very 21st-Century organization, with about 50 employees spread across the US, Canada, and in Britain. My boss is based in a suburb of London, eight hours ahead of me.

After work, we went to dinner. I did karaoke for the first time ever in my life. Rumor has it there is video. I think its safe to say that as a singer I am very enthusiastic.

I ate and ate and ate this trip. I have a bet with myself how much weight I gained over the 10 days. I’m thinking 12 pounds. I am not disciplined controlling eating while I’m traveling. That wasn’t a big deal during most of my weight loss and maintenance, when I was traveling just a couple of times a year. Now that I’m on the road for about 20-25% of the time, it’s becoming a problem. I need to work on it.

Still, I enjoyed every bite. Such a lot of good food.

I’ve become an enthusiast for nondescript hole-in-the-wall places that serve great food. I found a beaut in Columbus: Pho Asian Noodle House and Grill on West Lane Avenue. It’s a Pan-Asian place, which is a highfalultin way of saying the menu has Chinese food and Japanese food and Thai and Vietnamese and maybe other ethnicities I couldn’t identify. I had the kung pao chicken with fried rice, which is a safe choice, and it was delicious. The restaurant is obviously in a converted Taco Bell, with minimal redecoration, which adds to its charm.

Another big highlight of this trip is going to meet our financial planner in Marion, Ohio, about 75 minute out of Columbus. Until now, I’ve left financial planning to Julie. I make the money, she manages it. But this is a bad idea, and so I’m getting up to speed myself. I am impressed by how on top of things both Ron and Julie are. Ron seems very competent — and I liked him personally too.