By Ray Pride

Tony Kushner

“Well, like absolutely everything that this guy has done since getting into office, I think it’s an appalling idea. I hope it’s noise. I really hope that the Republican Congress doesn’t go along with it. We spend $400 million on military marching bands, and $145 million on the NEA, in a country of 319 million. They’re woefully underfunded. It’s a completely empty gesture: we’re talking about a $1.1 trillion budget, and a savings of a few hundred million dollars – a negligible amount. They think the NEA is going to be an easy win for them – an easy thing where they can say to their base, “Look, we got rid of these wasteful programs”. But the programs are of value, even if they’re woefully underfunded. They’re digitizing information that’s of immense value to scholars. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting produces invaluable news programs, which I suppose are among the enemies of the people. It’s never about the NEA. The barbarians who go after it are usually after something bigger than that. In the 90s, when Republicans went after it, it was to stop the LGBT movement and feminism and multiculturalism. The NEA was a handy way of going after that. Now, I think, this is only comprehensible as an expression of the president’s priorities: Congress has to pass the budget but what he’s saying is, ‘Let’s start dismantling the federal government.’ The vision that is more and more clearly looming is that we’re not looking at an attempt to set up a fascist state. We’re looking at a decisive victory in a battle that’s been going on since before the Civil War – really since the founding of this country – for the states’ rightists.”
~ Tony Kushner

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“With every table in the dining room occupied and me, the only waiter, neglecting the needs of a good fifty patrons, I approached Roth. Holding out Balls as a numbness set into the muscles of my face, I spoke. “Sir, I’ve heard you say that you don’t read fiction anymore, but I’ve just had my first novel published and I’d like to give you a copy.”

“His eyes lifting from his iPhone, he took the book from my hands. He congratulated me. Then, staring at the cover, he said, “Great title. I’m surprised I didn’t think of it myself.”

“These words worked on me like a hit of morphine. Like two hits. It felt as if I was no longer the occupant of my own body. The legs had gone weak, the ears warmed, the eyes watered, the heart rate increased rapidly. Barely able to keep myself upright, I told him, “Thank you.”

“Then Roth, who, the world would learn sixteen days later, was retiring from writing, said, in an even tone, with seeming sincerity, “Yeah, this is great. But I would quit while you’re ahead. Really, it’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you.”

“I managed, “It’s too late, sir. There’s no turning back. I’m in.”

“Nodding slowly, he said to me, “Well then, good luck.”

“After which I went back to work.”
~ Julian Tepper

“Any form of physical or sexual assault is a very serious matter, potentially a legal matter. But I’m also wondering, what about having some kind of “extreme asshole” clause? I know lots of people who have been abused verbally and psychologically. That’s traumatizing, too. What do we do with that?  It takes a lot of energy to be an asshole. The people I admire most just aren’t interested in things that take away from their ability to make stuff. The people I really respect, and that I’ve met who fit this definition, have a sense of grace about them, because they know that there is no evolving and there is no wisdom without humility. You can’t get better if you behave in a way that shuts people off. You can’t! You don’t have all the ideas necessary to solve something. You don’t! I’m sure if you spoke to Harvey in his heyday and said to him what I just said to you, he would believe that he accomplished all that he had because of the way he behaved.”
~ Steven Soderbergh