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This rainbow was visible from the Tuesday Farmers' Market on Adeline Street.  Proposed high-rise development in this area might block views like this.
Mike O'Malley
This rainbow was visible from the Tuesday Farmers' Market on Adeline Street. Proposed high-rise development in this area might block views like this.


New: Santa Cruz Police Chief says Homeland Security Agents "deceived" police by gang investigation for detaining immigrants

Keith Burbank (BCN)and Planet
Thursday February 23, 2017 - 03:00:00 PM

Santa Cruz city officials said they feel "deceived" and "outraged" that the Department of Homeland Security detained 10 people based on their immigration status during a joint operation with Santa Cruz police targeting gang members last week.

Santa Cruz police were part of the Feb. 13 operation to arrest the alleged gang members but claim that they were repeatedly told by DHS officials that day that an immigration operation was not taking place.

At the Feb. 14 meeting of the Oakland City Council, outraged residents insisted that this was not the case, despite efforts of some councilmembers to prevent them from speaking, and their claims prompted Deputy Chief Dan Flippo to undertake an independent investigation,

Today, DHS spokesman James Schwab said, "The whole thing is one investigation," when asked about the immigration enforcement operation.

A total of 22 people were arrested or detained as part of the operation, including 12 that are facing criminal charges.

Homeland Security officers arrested or detained 10 people for their immigration status, police said. All ten have been released; five people have been given a summons to appear in immigration court and five are wearing a GPS monitor, police said.

"I'm outraged," Santa Cruz Mayor Cynthia Chase said about the immigration enforcement. "There's no question that this action has torn families apart."

Police Chief Kevin Vogel said police are revising their policy on immigration actions and will present that policy to the City Council on Tuesday.

He said the Police Department has been "deceived" by Homeland Security and vowed the department will not collaborate with law enforcement agencies it doesn't trust. 

"As chief of police of this community, I want to offer my apology," Vogel said. "I offer my apologies to our immigrant communities." 

The alleged criminal activity involved the extortion of drug dealers and drug sales and began in 2011 by members of an El Salvadorian gang called Mara Salvatrucha 13. 

Police said a Santa Cruz resident of El Salvadorian descent tipped them off to the formation of the local group. 

Police and DHS officials initiated the criminal sweep last week because they believed gang members were planning to kill someone and police wanted to stop that, Vogel said. 

Vogel said that the alleged gang members arrested are "likely responsible" for two unsolved homicides and peripherally involved in two hothers. 

Deputy Police Chief Dan Flippo said he began investigating whether immigrants were detained during the operation when he heard public comment at a recent city council meeting. 

He said he left the meeting to get in touch the Homeland Security officials who have since refused to provide information on the scope of the immigration operation. 

Flippo said Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Jimmy Panetta are now looking into the incident. 

Panetta called Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials Feb. 13 and has followed up since then, a spokeswoman for the congressman said. 

"He's working with his colleagues on the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee to hold ICE accountable for their actions," spokeswoman Sarah Davey said. "He will continue to demand communication, clarity and transparency from DHS and ICE." 

DHS officials have told police four immigrants were detained based on their immigration status, according to Flippo. 

The 12 people arrested for criminal offenses went before a federal magistrate in San Francisco on Feb. 13 and turned over to U.S. Marshals. 

Flippo said DHS has violated the Police Department's trust. 

"I am very angry this has occurred," he said, adding that DHS forced police to be the face of the operation and provided misinformation and now refuses to communicate with them. 

See the whole press conference here. 

Berkeley school stabbing victim has been treated and released

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday February 22, 2017 - 10:09:00 PM

A female staff member at a private school in West Berkeley who allegedly was stabbed by a 20-year-old student on Tuesday afternoon has been treated for non-life-threatening injuries at a local hospital and released, a police spokesman said today. 

Berkeley police Sgt. Andrew Frankel didn't specify the woman's position at Via Center, a private special education school at 2126 Sixth St., but said she wasn't the principal, as the school doesn't have a principal position. 

The stabbing at the school was reported at about 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday. 

Berkeley police said the suspect, Angel Juarez, fled the scene and ran west on University Avenue, over the Interstate Highway 80 overpass. 

But he was arrested a short time later after the California Highway Patrol spotted him near Buchanan Street and Interstate Highway 80. 

Juarez is being held without bail at the Berkeley Jail on suspicion of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon and tentatively is scheduled to be arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland on Thursday morning.

Press Release: Kate Harrison Stands Against “Trickle-Down” Housing Policies at Chamber of Commerce Forum

From the Kate Harrison campaign
Tuesday February 21, 2017 - 05:26:00 PM

Berkeley City Council candidate explains plan to preserve, develop new affordable housing for a diverse community

Calling for regional solutions for new housing and to reduce homelessness, Berkeley City Council Kate Harrison, at a recent debate forum hosted by the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, said focusing only on market rate housing development in Berkeley won’t solve Berkeley’s affordability challenge.

“The real need is moderate and low-income housing,” said Harrison. “ ... building only market rate here in a local, hyper-active real estate market will not result in a reduction in prices. We have met 300% of the regional standard for market rate housing without an apparent impact on prices.” 

Harrison’s opponent said he has supported “by-right” development to speed up new housing production. By-right development, rejected resoundingly last year by the California legislature, would severely limit community input in planning. “The way we get the housing is to build the market rate units,” he said, before Harrison challenged him on over-reliance on luxury housing. 

“I really don’t believe in the trickle down idea that building all market rate will in the near term result in more affordable rents.” Harrison said, arguing that approach would also make Berkeley less diverse. “We’re not having the same conversation. I would like to see balanced, equitable growth in Berkeley that allows us to keep our African American community, our artists.” 

Instead, to preserve and develop new affordable housing, Harrison called for: 

  • Deep affordability requirements for new housing projects, that reflect the impact of these projects on the community; 

  • Taxes on short term rentals, and; 

  • Increased transfer taxes on residential home sales to support affordable housing. 

“If we want to cut greenhouse gases, we have to provide housing for the people who work here,” she said, not merely build housing for commuters to elsewhere. “Berkeley is a real place, not just a transit corridor.” Harrison also proposed a City program to assist seniors in financing accessibility upgrades to their homes so they can remain in Berkeley. In contrast, last year, Harrison’s opponent proposed a parcel tax on all homeowners to pay for affordable housing, a tax that would hit low income and senior homeowners particularly hard. 

Harrison supports a balanced approach to new housing, and also rejected a proposal by her opponent (in a questionnaire by the Berkeley Progressive Association) that would require homeowners with large yards but no accessory dwelling unit to pay for a special use permit. 

A special all-mail ballot election is underway in Berkeley’s District 4, where Harrison seeks to succeed Mayor Jesse Arreguín on the council. The final day to vote is March 7. Harrison’s recent appearance before the Chamber of Commerce was streamed via Facebook live and can be reviewed at: https://www.facebook.com/100009944043239/videos/420668544941277/ The housing portion of the debate begins at minute 34:45.

Don't miss this: Pro-Trump March planned for Berkeley

Tuesday February 21, 2017 - 05:06:00 PM

Berkeley: Yiannopoulos woes strip planned pro-Trump march of major theme >

BERKELEY — Recently publicized comments by alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos that appear to condone sex with adolescent boys have ...

Updated: Berkeley Police arrest stabbing suspect

Daniel Montes (BCN)
Tuesday February 21, 2017 - 05:02:00 PM

Police have arrested a 20-year-old man accused of stabbing a staff member at a private Berkeley school this afternoon. 

The suspect, identified as Angel Juarez, was spotted by the California Highway Patrol near Buchanan Street and Interstate Highway 880 in Albany, police said.  

After witnesses positively identified Juarez as the stabbing suspect, police booked him into the Berkeley jail. 

The incident began at 1:46 p.m., when officers received a report of a stabbing at Via Center, a private, special education school located at 2126 Sixth St., according to police. 

The employee who stabbed was taken to a hospital. The extent of his injuries was not immediately released. 

After the alleged stabbing, Juarez fled the scene and was last seen running west on University Avenue, over the Interstate Highway 880 overpass. 

Because Juarez was allegedly carrying a large knife and was considered dangerous, police had asked residents in the area to shelter in place. The shelter in place advisory has since been lifted, police said. 


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Advisory: Police Activity 2100 Block of 6th Street: Search Ongoing for Stabbing Suspect

Berkeley Police via Nixle
Tuesday February 21, 2017 - 02:42:00 PM

On 2/21/17 at approximately 1:46pm, the Berkeley Police Communications Center received a report of stabbing which had just occurred at a school on the 2100 block of 6th Street. The single adult stabbing victim (a staff member of the school) has been transported to a local hospital for treatment of their injuries.

The suspect has been identified as Angel Juarez 20, who has been described as a Hispanic Male Adult, brown hair, brown eyes, 5’0” and 100lbs. He was last seen wearing a long sleeve burgundy shirt, black sneakers, black pants, and carrying a large knife. Juarez was last seen running westbound on University Avenue over the Highway 80 overpass. Juarez is considered armed and dangerous. Officers are currently searching the Marina, Aquatic Park, and areas of west Berkeley for Juarez.

Community members in the affected area are encouraged shelter in place and report any person matching Juarez’s description.

Updated: Shooter disarmed and detained on 580

Scott Morris (BCN)
Friday February 17, 2017 - 10:40:00 AM

Oakland police have "disarmed and detained" an active shooter in East Oakland this morning, according to the California Highway Patrol. 

The man armed with a rifle was in the area of 98th Avenue and Golf Links Road, according to police.  

The California Highway Patrol shut down eastbound Highway 580. As of about 9:40 a.m., CHP officials said shots were still being fired. 

As of about 10 a.m., CHP officials said that Oakland police had detained the suspect and the highway had reopened. 

Police did not immediately say if any force was used in the arrest. Police are still searching the area and some streets remain shut down. 



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Bay Area cities and counties urge constitutional protection for detained migrants

Julia Cheever (BCN) and Planet
Friday February 17, 2017 - 10:18:00 AM

Twenty U.S. cities and counties led by Santa Clara County and including Alameda County have urged the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that immigrants held in prolonged detention during deportation proceedings are entitled to certain constitutional protections. However, the city of Berkeley was not among them.  

The local governments filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Feb. 10 asking the high court to uphold a 2015 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. 

The appeals court said in that ruling that immigrants who are held in custody while awaiting deportation proceedings must be given a bond hearing before an immigration judge every six months with the possibility of release on bond if they are not deemed dangerous or a flight risk. 

The friend-of-the-court brief, also known as an amicus brief, supports a group of immigrants who sued the federal government in federal court in Los Angeles in 2007, won a preliminary injunction in that court and then won the appeals court decision. 

The brief was written by lawyers in the Santa Clara County Counsel's Office. Other Bay Area governments signing on include Alameda and San Mateo counties and Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose. 

Other participants nationwide include Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Portland, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Washington,D.C., among others.  

"Our amicus brief offers an important local perspective, which has been missing from the conversation about immigration detention without bond hearings," Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams said last week. 

The cities and counties said in the brief that while they agree that dangerous immigrants should be detained while awaiting deportation, there are two reasons from a local perspective as to why immigrants who are not dangerous should be granted a bond hearing. 

One reason is that in the experience of the local governments' law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, the opportunity for release following an individual bond hearing "does not negatively affect community safety or the integrity of the court process," the cities and counties said. 

The second reason is that prolonged detention of an immigrant family member destabilizes families and jeopardizes the welfare of children, thus requiring the local governments to provide expensive public services such as foster care and welfare payments, the brief said. 

"Our immigrant residents are valued members of our communities," the cities and counties told the high court. 

"Many of them are longtime residents of our towns, cities and counties; make substantial social and economic contributions; and have U.S. citizen children and other deep local ties," the brief argues. 

U.S. Justice Department lawyers challenging the 9th Circuit decision have argued to the high court that procedures concerning immigrants facing deportation are the province of the executive and legislative branches of government, not the judiciary.

Homeless man arrested for slashing tents in Berkeley

Dennis Culver (BCN)
Friday February 17, 2017 - 10:02:00 AM

Police arrested used less-lethal weapons to subdue a homeless man who was allegedly slashing tents with a sword in Berkeley on Thursday afternoon. 

Manuel A. Ayala, 48, was arrested on suspicion of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, according to police. 

On Thursday at 3:11 p.m., officers with the Berkeley Police Department responded to Gilman Street to a report of a man slashing tents with a sword and brandishing the weapon to individuals inside the tents, police said. 

The suspect, later identified as Ayala, fled the scene as officers were responding. 

Witnesses reported he continued to slash objects with the sword as he walked east on Gilman Street. 

Officers located the suspect on Gilman Street between Fifth and Sixth streets and saw him threatening another man with the sword, police said. 

Officers observed Ayala with the sword raised near the intended victim, and officers fired multiple rounds from a less-than-lethal launcher and were able to get the suspect to drop his sword, police said. 

Ayala was taken into custody without further incident. 

Police said Ayala had assaulted a woman at the tents with the sword, and the second victim was an associate of the woman. 

During the assault, the woman was struck with part of the sword, but she declined medical attention.



Bring back Yiannopoulos to Berkeley? Yes, but this time...

Becky O'Malley
Friday February 17, 2017 - 02:12:00 PM

Something must be done about having a lunatic for president, that’s a no-brainer. But what?

Many of my best friends are attorneys, from my own law school days and beyond. Actually, many of us are lapsed lawyers: retired, inactive or just former, since we’ve discovered that simply passing the Bar does not set our hands on the levers of power as we might have hoped when young.

Nevertheless, of the three branches of government we learned about in high school civics classes, the judiciary still seems to offer the most hope of eventually curbing the worst excesses of the person a creative rapper has been calling “Agent Orange”. Some among us are trying to learn what we might do to defend the migrants among us, but the short answer seems to be not too much, or at least not too soon.

Demonstrations are still needed to focus public attention on the worst outrages, which can pop up anywhere at any time. The spontaneous crowds who assembled at SFO and other airports when travellers were detained were very effective in highlighting the problem in a hurry, though it was the judges in the end who stopped the worst excesses created by the rogue executive’s illegitimate order.

The SFO action was a triumph of its kind. An opera singer of my acquaintance (a soprano) jumped on BART to join the action. On the train she ran into three singer friends, also headed for the airport to protest. When they got there, they decided that shouting slogans might be harmful to their voices, so they formed a spontaneous quartet and improvised harmonically on the words of the protest chants, to great (and even louder) effect. When they paused for a moment, a little girl of perhaps ten came up to the soprano, saying excitedly, “Did you know you just sang a high B flat?” “You must have perfect pitch,” the singer replied. And indeed the little girl said she does have perfect pitch.

You never know who’s watching your demonstration, do you? And eventually the detained travellers were released.

I thought of this story as I was wondering what could be done about the self-indulgent bullies who think they’re influencing public policy by breaking windows during other people’s peaceful demonstrations. Yes, boys just like to have fun, but this makes things worse.

I stand with my peers from the Free Speech Movement: I believe that we need to hear all ideas, no matter how hateful, so that we can combat them the best way, with Justice Brandeis’ classic antidote to speech we dislike, more speech.

Watching the live stream of the Black Bloc boobies in Berkeley a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of how Ann Arbor’s African-American community handled the threat of a similar eruption of testosterone-fueled violence. 

In July of 1967, when we were living in Ann Arbor, Detroit blew up. A late night police raid on an after-hours joint frequented by African Americans was the last straw in a long history of insults to black residents—it turned into what were subsequently called the Detroit riots. Wikipedia: “The result was 43 dead, 1,189 injured, over 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed.” And of course, most of the dead were Black, and the destroyed property and lost jobs affected African Americans most of all. 

Though my family was all white at that time, our home was in Ann Arbor’s small predominantly African-American neighborhood, in a period when housing discrimination still ruled, even in liberal northern college towns. We were right across the street from the historically segregated elementary school where our daughter was the only white child in the Head Start preschool program. 

When the carnage started tearing up Detroit, people in our neighborhood organized caravans to take food and clothing to the beleaguered Detroiters. But late one hot night at that time we looked out our front window across to the dark schoolyard and saw a crowd of noisy young men beginning to gather. They were shouting militant slogans, and it soon became obvious from what we could hear that they were working themselves up to create some Detroit-style excitement in their relatively peaceful home town.  

We were worried, because what our neighborhood didn’t need was looting, broken windows and arson, despite the very real grievances of the African-Americans among us. Just as we began to exchange anxious phone calls with neighbors, we noticed a change at the school. Out of the shadows materialized a substantial group of Black community elders, men and women, carrying yardsticks, brooms, rakes and pitchforks. They soon surrounded the cluster of angry young men, and we could hear their voices, though we couldn’t make out what they were saying. After about a half hour, though, the assembly dispersed—old and young wandered on home, no damage done. 

The peaceful protesters at the Yiannopoulos demonstration far outnumbered the violent few, but they didn’t have a game plan for how to stop the destruction.  

Like the Black elders in 1967, we grown-ups should simply plan to surround the Black Bloc rowdies if they show up at our rallies and give them a time out—send them home. We could wear our pink hats from the very effective Women’s March for gravitas.  

And meanwhile, we need to work out practical suggestions for allowing free expression of ideas without enabling an offensive speaker to do the equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theater. 

How about this? The unattractive Mr. Yiannopoulos could be invited back to the University of California, but this time sponsored by FSM-A, the guardians of the Free Speech Movement Archives. This time, however, the university could take serious adult responsibility for preventing violence by regulating the time, place and manner of his obnoxious expression as ­constitutional law provides. 

He could speak in broad daylight in Memorial Stadium, where a ticketed audience could be screened at the gate for weapons. His talk could even be live-streamed for anyone who couldn’t get in, though I doubt that his dribble would draw an overflow crowd. He could be required to stay to listen to rebuttals. 

And best of all, a lot of people like me who regard him as a cowardly fool should show up en masse to laugh at his ranting. Speech is a good argument against tomfoolery, but non-verbal derision might be even better. 

But what if the Black Bloc boobies show up again up in their comic-opera Junior Fascist costumes and starts pushing people around as they did before?  

One suggestion: cops could “tag” misbehaving masked protesters with paint balls so they would know who to arrest if laws were broken, and the rest of us would know who to laugh out of town, pretentious schoolyard bullies that they are. And I’m sure if we planned ahead we could think of other effective schemes for telling them that with friends like you we don’t need enemies. 

We do need to express our disgust with the ideas of people like Milo Yiannopoulos, but we also need come up with creative non-violent methods for cooling down hotheads before they damage both property and the causes we (and they) claim to support. It’s a delicate balance, and made more difficult by the probable presence of provocateurs from the other side in their midst, as those of who remember Cointelpro are well aware. It’s important not to turn fence-sitters into enemies.  








Public Comment

Redwood Gardens residents threatened by management action

Eleanor Walden
Friday February 17, 2017 - 03:12:00 PM

The residents at HUD multifamily Redwood Gardens have been issued a potentially life threatening decision by the Corporate owners and management of Redwood Gardens, 2951 Derby St. Berkeley, a HUD 197 apartment building. 

We were informed by Alex Kakavas, overseer for CSI out of Monrovia, CA that the management as of March 1 would no longer accept packages for residents, due to “the abuse of the courtesy by residents.” The seniors were instructed that they would have to pick up packages at the post office or rent a post box. 

At a general meeting on Wed. Feb. 15 no details of the so-called abuses were cited. The residents were unanimous in their opposition to this edict. Many people cited the fact that they received their prescriptions by mail; other people cited disability to walk or stand in line at the post office, others would have a financial hardship to take transportation to the post office. 

The facilities has been in operation for 28 years and has a precedent for accepting packages. Does that not imply a right of continued use? Is there not a principle of RFD that accords delivery of mail to people out of the metropolis? 

The residents of Redwood Gardens need advice and support on this issue. Initially it is mean spirited. Alex Kakavas, the CSI executive for the last 3 years, has a pattern of demoralizing threats to residents. He seems to operated on a mean spirited basis of issuing threats of eviction based on anonymous reports. This is only the last of a litany of abusive behavior, but it is the most egregious and potentially dangerous. 

While Redwood Gardens is designated as “independent living” those of us living here are still aged or disabled, that does not mean that we do not or cannot take care of ourselves given the proper support and accommodation. The withdrawal of this necessary accommodation would be impossible to comply with and would drive many people into dangerous circumstances. 

I would appreciate your response and any advice that will help resolve these circumstances to the benefit of the residents of Redwood Gardens. 

Eleanor Walden is the former Co-chair of the Residents’ Counci, Housing Chair of the Gray Panthers and Board member of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants


Tejinder Uberoi
Friday February 17, 2017 - 10:52:00 AM

As the NYT opinioned “leaks are common currency — and, depending what side you’re on, either sinister or patriotic”. 

A pre-election footnote. Following the publication of Clinton’s emails, Trump responded enthusiastically at a rally in Pennsylvania, “I love WikiLeaks!” He declared the leakers had performed a public service declaring in typical hyperbolic fashion, “the emails are the biggest scandal in US history”. 

Now the shoe is on the other foot, Trump has declared a fatwa on leakers. Oh, what hypocrisy! Here is a man in mortal fear that his dark secrets and connections to Russian intelligence may soon be made public and his presidency may crumble like a White-House of cards. All the leading intelligence agencies agree that Russia interfered with the 2016 election tilting it in Trump’s favor. 

A number of people in the intelligence community have expressed fears that classified information may end up in Russian hands or perhaps a darker fear that there may be a mole in the White House. 

Much like the Nixon Watergate scandal, the larger question is what did Trump “know and when did he know it”? 

What is urgently need is a top level inquiry modeled on the 9/11 commission to uncover Russia’s intrusion into our democracy and the legitimacy of the White House occupant. 

If the “pink hats brigade” and their supporters are looking for a couple of new slogans perhaps they should borrow Trump’s playbook (“lock him up” . . . “what are you hiding, release your tax records”).

Fearful messages disturb sleep

Romila Khanna
Friday February 17, 2017 - 02:58:00 PM

“Lock the doors!” “Lock the gates to feel safe”. I hear this comment from friends all the times. I wonder if someone can advise, how one can stop the invasion of fearful thoughts in one’s brain. They steal our rejuvenating sleep patterns and invade our relaxation time. They fear the executive orders and its impact on them and their families. 

I also notice this problem prevailing in our three branches of government. The constant change of policies and executive orders depicts a malfunction of the brain and a disorderly thinking process. 

I just want to say that this is impacting the hurried decisions to protect and govern the country. In my view, it is not good for the public. 

We are all perplexed and bothered with the selection and policies of our President who seems to depend solely on his own perceptions. He has his own business style agenda on how to think and act. I believe that Public sector work needs a different approach. He is not thinking about everybody. I thought he had won the election to represent all of us.  

Why did he choose to nominate and select just billionaires and millionaires to be on his team? Those who have never experienced poverty and homelessness, don’t have the heart to think about those who lack food, clothing and shelter the three most important things needed to live. Everyone should have access to healthcare. I see all the members of our government enjoying all benefits on our taxpayers’ dollars but when it comes to think about policies that may benefit the poor and elderly they want to cut healthcare availability to the most needy in our society. 

They must sacrifice their own protection of health, wealth and safety to provide for all others whom they represent. 

Every day we hear the arguments and debates on how to cut the programs and funding from the most vulnerable class of our society. 

The real believers know how to serve rather than to be served. 

Is there a law, which protects all citizens without any discrimination? Why does color, status or occupation, matter? Why do I feel that the readers of our Constitution need to spend more time to understand the amendments more thoroughly? There can be a provision to amend the broken system in our country that works for the upper class ignoring the rest of the struggling families. 

Can any one suggest our three branches of Government to stop self-love and work for all to give them physical safety, health, housing facility and opportunity to pursue their inner growth? I hope somebody can inspire our Government to represent all.


One Month of Trump

Bob Burnett
Friday February 17, 2017 - 10:41:00 AM


28 days into the Trump regime it's worse than expected. Here's what we've learned.  

1. Trump's not an executive. On November 8th, undecided voters opted for Trump because they were impressed by his business credentials; many commented, "He knows how to get things done." 

Trump's (probably) a billionaire so it would seem that "he knows how to get things done" but, if he does, he hasn't applied this skill to his job as America's CEO. Everything about his first 28 days suggests that Trump is in over his head in his new job. For example, after an (initial) week full of executive orders, Trump now appears to have no overall plan for domestic or foreign policy. As another example, Trump's White House is understaffed and Trump doesn't seem to be a good recruiter. 

2. His thought pattern is chaotic. It's hard to view Trump dispassionately but his impromptu speeches and press conferences are cringe-worthy. On Tuesday (February 14th) during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Trump was asked about rising anti-semitism. He responded by boasting about his election victory and then said the Trump administration is “going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on.” 

3. He doesn't appear to read briefing papers. The New York Times reported that for national security briefings, Trump wants "a single page, with lots of graphics and maps." 

It's hard to imagine that Trump is as dumb as he has appeared the last few days but, to say the least, he's not an intellectual and is not informed on most major issues. 

4. Trump has very thin skin. As his lack of focus wasn't bad enough, Trump seems to spend a disproportionate amount of time watching cable news—time where he should be reading briefing papers—and takes negative reporting very seriously. He may have a sense of humor but it's not evident. For example, he continues to be outraged by the satirical skits on Saturday Night Live. 

5. Trump detests the mainstream media. In his rambling Thursday (February 16th) press conference, called ostensibly to introduce his new candidate for Secretary of Labor, Trump spent most of his time attacking the mainstream media. (For example, stating that CNN hates him.) As a result he has created the most hostile White House press environment in modern times. 

6. He doesn't understand the Federal bureaucracy. Perhaps it wouldn't matter that Trump doesn't prepare adequately and has anger management problems, if Americans believed that he really understood the Federal government and, therefore, was prepared to "drain the swamp." But there's no indication that Trump understands the government or has surrounded himself with people that do. For example, his January 27th immigration wasn't adequately vetted by the Justice Department and wasn't discussed, beforehand, with Republican congressional leaders or Trump's newly-appointed Secretary of State. 

And, of course, Trump doesn't appear to have any intention of "draining the swamp." Many of his cabinet appointments are billionaires—such as Education secretary Betsy DeVos—and appear to be part of the problem rather than a path to the solution. 

Trump's biggest negative is that he is not, inherently, a team player. When confronted his basic instinct seems to be to run over his adversary rather than seek a way to collaborate. 

7. Trump doesn't have a legislative agenda. He prevailed over Clinton because he promised jobs and an alternative to Obamacare. So far, Trump hasn't produced anything remotely like a plan—other than to say that what is coming will be "phenomenal." When Trump's January 27th immigration order was blocked by the 9th Circuit, he promised, "See you in court!" So far, nothing. 

Trump promised to build a wall along the southern border and to have Mexico pay for it. Since, he has waffled about the "have Mexico pay for it" part but hasn't said what he proposes as an alternative. 

And his foreign policy is a mess. Almost every day Trump says something that irritates foreign leaders. On February 14th, speaking with Israeli PM Netanyahu, Trump appeared to back away from five decades of US foreign policy and abandon "the two-state solution." 

8. Trump doesn't care about other Republicans. Not surprisingly, for someone whose instincts are not collaborative, Trump doesn't work well with other Republicans. He doesn't consult Vice President Pence. He doesn't consult his Cabinet members. And he doesn't doesn't consult the Republican congressional leaders. 

Come 2018, it's hard to imagine Trump campaigning for any Republican running for reelection. 

9. Trump is in the process of losing his base. The latest Pew Research poll finds that only 39 percent of respondents approved of the job Trump is doing. Those that do approve of Trump are "White, non-college-educated" (57 percent). But how long will they approve of Trump when he doesn't deliver jobs, takes away their healthcare, and fails to build "the wall"? 

10. Trump has "phenomenal" conflicts of interest. An under-reported story is Trump's violation of the Constitution’s conflict-of-interest clause (“emoluments”). Writing in the New York Review , ACLU legal director David Cole describes the lawsuit brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics: "never before in American history has a president-elect presented more conflict of interest questions and foreign entanglements than Donald Trump... Our forty-fifth president has deliberately chosen to undermine the interests of the people he represents in order to further the interests of the one person he cares about most." 

One month of Trump. How many more will Americans have to endure? 


ECLECTIC RANT: In support of Planned Parenthood

Ralph E. Stone
Friday February 17, 2017 - 10:04:00 AM

On February 11, 2017, demonstrations were held at least 225 Planned Parenthood clinics across the country in support of, and against, the organization.  

Planned Parenthood operates 650 health centers across the U.S. providing women with "the information and care they need to live strong, healthy lives and fulfill their dreams -- no ceilings, no limits." In the year ending June 30, 2015, the organization received $553.7 million in government health services grants and reimbursements or 43% of its revenue. 

I remember when anti-abortion activist and Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleiden alleged in a series of undercover videos in 2015 that Planned Parenthood was selling donated fetal tissue for a profit. The videos totally misrepresent what Planned Parenthood does. Republican Party jumped on Planned Parenthood to highlight their anti-abortion stance and a Republican-led investigations quickly followed. The investigation found nothing. In truth, Planned Parenthood follows federal law in allowing women to donate fetal tissue for research, and only charges a small amount to cover the costs of storage and shipment.  

In actuality, only about 3% of Planned Parenthood services are dedicated to abortions and no federal money goes to abortion services. And remember the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. The other 97% of services are for contraception, treatment and tests for sexually transmitted diseases, cancer screenings, and other women’s health services.  

Unfortunately, the falsehood about selling fetal tissue has turned into an anti-abortion crusade against Planned Parenthood with a GOP threat to repeal the Affordable Care Act and eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood.  

If Planned Parenthood loses its federal funding, women will be denied a vital source of health care services; their health centers are often the last resort for women seeking healthcare in low-income communities. The attack on Planned Parenthood is just another GOP attack on women. 

Demand that Congress continue funding Planned Parenthood.

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Anxiety: the good, the bad, and the unbearable

Jack Bragen
Friday February 17, 2017 - 10:08:00 AM

A psychiatrist said (I don't remember which one, or under what circumstances) that some amount of anxiety is useful because it keeps you on your toes.  

It is true that if you are taking care of yourself, you must be engaged with your environment. This means not ignoring that twinge in your gut that is telling you something needs to be done. That could mean paying bills, using caution on the road, or being mindful of some other necessity. That twinge in the gut, which is one form that anxiety sometimes takes, is intended for self-protection, and sometimes it helps you.  

On the other hand, sometimes the twinge in your gut is a false message and is unnecessary worry, something that only makes you falsely alerted, and that can lead to creating new problems--where there was no actual problem in the first place.  

This is the dilemma that people who have paranoia face. Is a problem real and does it need to be addressed, or is it imagined or overblown? This is where therapy can help.  

While deep psychoanalysis to unearth some psychological problem left from childhood doesn't help most mentally ill people, therapy of the type where you do problem solving for daily living can be helpful.  

We must learn to deal with practical problems while not panicking over something about which we needn't worry.  

Excessive anxiety doesn't help you; it only makes new problems or it makes it impossible to deal with existing problems, due to its immobilizing or other uncomfortable properties. When people have excessive anxiety and try to sweep it under a rug, so to speak, it potentially causes denial of problems.  

For someone with generalized anxiety who represses it or walls it off, the "good anxiety" could be lumped with it, and you may miss messages that you may need. This is also applicable to those who take an excessive amount of antianxiety medications, or perhaps the wrong medications for anxiety--either of these might block too much brain function.  

Prioritizing emotional comfort above "survival" is where the desire not to feel anything painful supersedes practical needs. This may work for a while, but in the long run, it is a path of ruin.  

Life isn't always comfortable. However, at those times when circumstances are essentially okay, we should not feel terrified and we should not feel massively anxious to the extent that we can't function.  

It is not unusual for persons who live in outpatient institutionalization to become hypersensitive to emotions. This is partly because therapists, through their techniques, cause emotions to become amplified. This is the opposite path compared to that of people who are employed and in the mainstream, non-afflicted population.  

We need at least some of our emotions. We need to get anxious some of the time; the body could be warning us to pay attention to some concern. However, anxiety in excess, which can be a result of a brain malfunction, can be unbearable, and can block the very actions that could resolve a problem. It is a fine line, but we must walk it.

Arts & Events

AROUND AND ABOUT MUSIC AND THEATER: Unusual Recital of Kunqu Chinese Opera on UC Campus

Ken Bullock
Friday February 17, 2017 - 10:50:00 AM

Kunqu--or just Kun or Wu--opera is one of the oldest forms of Chinese Opera, a great influence on the more famous Jingju or "Peking" Opera, famous for its melodic form ... 

There will be an unusual recital of Kunqu Opera by Peng Xu, postdoctoral felliw at the Center for ChInese Studies at UC, accompanied by Daniel C. F. Chan (flute), Tal-Yen Pao (drum), with Lindy Li Mark as host, performing "The Ballad," a scene from poet Hong Sheng's play, 'Tge Palace of Lasting Life' (1688), 4-6 pm Wednesday, February 22 at 180 Doe Library on the UC campus. Admission is free. 

The recital will be of 10 solos by the character Li Guinan, formerly a leading musician with the Pear Garden Academy of the Tang court (685-762), reduced to singing ballads on the street after the An Lushan Rebellion in the 38th scene of the opera, the songs portraying the tragic affair of the Tang emperor and his favorite, Lady Yang, hardening back to the 11th scene, when Lady Yang hears her famous composition, "Rainbow Skirts," during a dream voyage to the moon, writing it out by memory when she awakes and teaching it to Li and the other Academy musicians. 

The last solo is of a reunion between the two noble refugees, and the prediction--which was fulfilled--that "Rainbow Skirts" would be passed down through the generations. 

(News of this recital brings back a happy memory of another Kunqu program, actors-singers and musicians on tour from China two years ago this Spring at Santa Clara University--and the wonderful hospitality of the presenters from Chinese Ticket Box (.com), who continue to bring unusual cultural events to Northern California.)

American Bach Soloists Perform French Baroque Music

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday February 17, 2017 - 11:01:00 AM

Led by their Music Director Jeffrey Thomas, American Bach Soloists gave a series of concerts featuring French Baroque music throughout the Bay Area February 10-13, 2017. I attended their Saturday, February 11 performance at Berkeley’s First Presbyterian Church. In the 17th and early 18th century, French music was centered at the royal courts of King Louis XIII and Louis XIV. Under Louis XIII, an ensemble of the finest string players was created in 1626, called Les vingt-quatre Violons du Roi (The 24 Violins of the King). Occasionally, this group of violins, violas, and cellos combined forces with the royal wind and brass ensemble, La Grande Écurie, so-named because wind and brass music was mostly played for the hunt and dressage, thus emanating from the royal stables. Later, Louis XIV added more string players to the initial 24 strings, and this larger group was called La grande bande.  

Louis XIV not only loved music; most of all he loved the dance. He himself debuted as a ballet dancer at age 13, and his love of dance never waned. Impressed by the talents of Florentine-born Gian-Battista Lulli (Jean-Baptiste Lully) as a musician, composer and ballet dancer, Louis XIV placed Lully in charge of the King’s music in 1661. Lully initially created ballets and stage-plays with musical and ballet insertions. For the latter, he collaborated with the great French writer of comedies Molière, most notably in Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (1669). Later, Lully turned to opera, where he combined the experiments of the Florentine camerata and the decisive innovations of Monteverdi, on one hand, and, on the other hand, the declamatory style of the French alexandrin, a formal verse-pattern that gave great dignity and control to vocal and musical declamation, although it emphasized control of the passions rather than the full expression of the passions themselves. However, in all his music, Lully retained the centrality of dance. 

It is no surprise, then, that the concert program of French Baroque music offered this weekend by American Bach Soloists concentrated largely on the various dance-forms that were so central to this music. However, as he did in his 2015 summer festival of Music of the Court at Versailles, for some unknown reason Jeffrey Thoma chose not to include in these programs a single work by Jean-Baptiste Lully, focusing instead on composers who came after Lully. Though I find this both unfathomable and regrettable, there are, to be sure, plenty of worthy composers who, upon the death of Lully in 1687, developed further the very same components instituted by Lully, namely, the detailed ensemble control of the orchestra, a lightness of sonority, and a graceful reliance on dance structures. 

First on this ABS program was, fittingly, Les Caractères de la Danse by Jean-Féry-Rebel. This brief work from 1715 was written for Françoise Prévost, the first prima ballerina of the theatre. Musically, Rebel’s piece consists of different dances; and with each new dance Prévost danced and mimed a specific character – a blundering elderly lover for the courante, a young fool for the gigue, an embittered lover for the grave sarabande, a gracious young girl for the menuet, etc. Personally, without the presence of a dancer, I lost track of which dance was supposed to illustrate which character; but I can well imagine that if one saw a great ballerina perform this work one would no doubt find it entrancing. Without this, it was underwhelming. 

Next on the program was Laudate Dominum de caelis, from Psalm 148, by Michel Corrette (1707-1795). Here Michel Corrette stepped into the heated debates over the respective merits of French and Italian music, debates which erupted in 1752 into La Guerre des Bouffons; and Corrette adroitly combined the best of both the French and Italian styles. In this psalm of 1766, Corrette begins in a brief, very French style. Then a soprano enters singing virtuosic coloratura melismas reminiscent of Italian music. Elegantly sung in Latin here by soprano Nola Richardson, these coloratura passages were impressive, to say the least. Though I’ve heard Nola Richardson before, especially with ABS, with whom she was a charming Galatea in 2015 in Handel’s Acis and Galatea, this time around Nola Richardson was absolutely astounding. Her voice is angelic in tone, yet full of emotional intensity. Richardson’s technical handling of the coloratura passages in this work by Corrette was impeccable. The result was stunningly beautiful. The music itself is Corrette’s adaptation of Vivaldi’s music for “Spring” in his Four Seasons. Here Corrette manages to link up the text of Pslam 148 and the text of Vivaldi’s “Spring” in ways that make both literal and musical sense, thus creating a work that effectively combines the contending Italian and French musical styles. 

Following this work by Corrette came a suite from the opera Dardanus by Jean-Philippe Rameau. The most important composer following in the footsteps of Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) was both a composer and a musical theorist who wrote important treatises on musical theory. He was a friend of Voltaire, whose plays he often set to music in his operas; and he was also a frequent interlocutor in debates over musical theory with Diderot, D’Alembert and Rousseau. What was remarkable about this ABS performance of Rameau’s music was the clarity of each segment. Here the transverse flute, a relatively new instrument at this point in history, was prominently featured. Dance music included lively tambourins, in which violas, cellos, basses and percussion effectively imitated the sound of tambourines. (Incidentally, I’d like to question Jeffrey Thomas as to why no tambourines themselves were heard in these pieces. Surely they were a part of the 18th century ensemble that performed these works.) 

Yet another setting of a Psalm came next, this one by Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville (1711-1772). The Psalm 114, In exitus Israel, was set by Mondonville as a Grand Motet, a large choral work with soloists. Particularly impressive was a solo for countertenor, elegantly sung here by high tenor Steven Brennfleck with a bassoon obligato. Equally impressive was a solo by baritone William Sharp, who sang dramatically of the earthquake associated with Christ. Once again, however, the show was stolen by soprano Nola Richardson, who took the musical momentum created by her colleagues and redoubled it in dramatic fashion. How I would love to hear Nola Richardson in a leading role in an opera by either Jean-Baptiste Lully or Jean-Philippe Rameau! It’s regrettable that she is not in the cast for the forthcoming Philharmonia Baroque performance in April of Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloire. 

The final work on the program was a series of dances from the opera Sémelé by Marin Marais. This long neglected opera was given its first performance outside Europe by ABS as the culmination of their 2015 summer festival in San Francisco of music from the court at Versailles. Sémelé, as performed by ABS and soloists, was a resounding success. Here, following a few short dance segments from Sémelé, the concert closed with a chaconne from Sémelé introduced by Jeffrey Thomas, with a bit of overkill, as “the greatest chaconne you will ever hear.” Bach notwithstanding, this chaconne by Marin Marais is very good; and it was a fitting climax to this concert of music from the French Baroque. Nonetheless, I can’t help wondering what’s behind Jeffrey Thomas’s persistent omission of works by Jean-Baptiste Lully, who more than anyone created the structural fabric of French music that has endured from the mid-17th century to this day. Thomas could go a long way toward rectifying this oversight by scheduling in the near future one of Lully’s operas, say, Cadmus et Hermione or Alceste, and, if possible, casting Nola Richardson in the lead soprano role.  




A Semi-Staged Gospel According to the Other Mary at Davies

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Thursday February 23, 2017 - 05:04:00 PM

There is tremendous hubris at work in John Adams. He reaches for the heavens, yet inevitably remains earthbound. In The Gospel According to the Other Mary, which was performed in a semi-staged setting by San Francisco Symphony February 16-18, a musical passage here or there may momentarily soar, yet vast stretches of music never get off the ground.  

In a pre-concert talk, John Adams said in this work he wants to make the audience feel extreme emotions. Yet I came away from this Gospel, as I did from performances of John Adams’ operas Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer, feeling empty. Where Bach, in his Passions, can make even an atheist share in the grief and anguish of Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, John Adams, himself an atheist or at least an agnostic, offers here only a pastiche full of affectations of emotions. Likewise for the politics. Adams may take up issues associated with progressive politics. But in merely alluding to them and seeking to wrap himself in the mantle of progressivism without taking a clear-cut stand, which is what he did in Nixon in China and, to disastrous effect, in The Death of Klinghoffer, John Adams, and to a lesser extent Peter Sellars as well, lay themselves open to the charge that, politically, they are mere poseurs, cashing in on a fashionable aura of progressivism. 

Working as usual with Peter Sellars, who supplied the Other Mary libretto by stringing together widely diverse texts, John Adams premiered The Gospel According to the Other Mary in 2012 with Gustavo Dudamel leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic. For a work of this title, there is, astoundingly, no evidence whatsoever that either Peter Sellars or John Adams even knew of the existence of the papyrus manuscript of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, which was discovered in Upper Egypt in 1895. Sellars and Adams may lard their Other Mary with 20th century texts that might be called feminist, yet they betray not the slightest interest in the ultimate feminist text that is The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, which sheds invaluable new light on a distinctly feminist tradition of early Christianity long hushed-up by the Church fathers. If readers want to experience an operatic setting of this long-suppressed Gospel, they should turn not to Adams and Sellars but to Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, which received a splendid production at San Francisco Opera in 2013 with Sasha Cooke in the lead role. 

John Adams and Peter Sellars set their Other Mary in a dual timeframe – the biblical time of the Gospels, on one hand, and, on the other, the present. In the biblical timeframe, they focus not on Jesus -- who is never seen, only quoted – but on Mary Magdalene, her sister Martha, and their brother, Lazarus. In the present timeframe, Mary and Martha are depicted as social workers, political activists who care for the homeless, the poverty-stricken, and the immigrant farm workers. Other Mary opens with Mary Magdalene in jail where she is placed in a cell next to a woman experiencing horrendous withdrawal symptoms from an overdose of heroin. The music in this opening scene is harrowing. As Mary sings from a text by Catholic social worker Dorothy Day, horns blare and chords slash. The chorus interjects “Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand.”  

The role of Mary is sung by mezzo-soprano Kelly O’Connor, whose voice is perhaps more angular than beautiful. John Adams states that he sees Mary as a woman who was likely abused in childhood, a woman who bears the scars of this past yet seeks inner peace. In Scene 2, Mary and Martha are depicted running a hostel for unemployed and poverty-stricken woman. Martha does all the work, while Mary meditates and strives to pray. Martha is sung by contralto Tamara Mumford, who possesses a remarkable voice of great range and color. Mumford was outstanding as Martha. Scene 3 depicts the illness and death of Lazarus, then his raising from the dead by Jesus. This scene goes on much too long. It is melodramatic in a pejorative sense, and it simply doesn’t work. In an oratorio that seeks to draw connections between the biblical past and the ongoing present, the raising of Lazarus has no place, for our secular age has no truck with so-called miracles, and this one is a whopper. As Lazarus, tenor Jay Hunter Morris lies on his death pallet wrapped in his shroud and comes back to life very slowly, wriggling first his toes, then a finger or two, then flexing a leg, then arching his back, and finally bolting upright in almost comical fashion. This whole scene and the music that accompanies it are tedious in the extreme. The inclusion of this scene represents a huge failure of artistic vision on the part of both Peter Sellars and John Adams. 

Scene 4 is not much better. Lazarus is so delighted to have come back from the dead that he sings a set-piece aria that sounds for all the world like a sheep bleating in a bah-bah singsong voice. Next we see Mary anointing Jesus’s body with perfumed ointments, and, kneeling, she washes Jesus’s feet and wipes them with her hair. Mary now sings from Louise Erdrich’s poem “Mary Magdalene,” voicing the startling assertion that “I will drive boys to smash empty bottles on their brows. It is the old way that girls get even with their fathers – by wrecking their bodies on other men.” For this bit of text and the feet-washing of Jesus by Mary, Adams offers lush strings and more than a hint of eroticism. This scene doesn’t quite jibe with the ascetic Mary we have seen in previous scenes; but it somehow works as an illustration of the contradictions Adams sees in Mary’s character. Moreover, when onlookers object to the money spent on exotic perfumes and ointments, saying the money would be better spent helping the poor, Jesus is reported intervening with the words, “The poor will ever be with us, but I will not ever be with us.” Mary has thus prepared him for the death he knows is coming. In the context of this Sellars libretto, with its emphasis on working with the poor, Jesus’s words almost seem selfish and insensitive. The final scene of Act I depicts the Passover dinner. Set to a poem by Holocaust survivor Primo Levi, this music is sung by tenor Jay Hunter Morris in a simple, songful voice that is quite moving. The words speak of hope: “This year in fear and shame, next year in virtue and justice.” 

Musically, John Adams claims to have moved beyond the minimalism of his early works. Yet the minimalist emphasis on rhythmic propulsion at the expense of melody and harmony remains as the bedrock of Adams’ Other Mary. The difference between his early works and this one lies mainly in the thicker orchestration, which features twelve woodwinds, eight brass, a full complement of strings, a huge battery of percussion, including a forest of Almglocken, tuned gongs, and tam-tams, plus a quartet of piano, harp, electric bass guitar, and cimbalom (a hammered dulcimer). This good-sized, quite exotic orchestra, conducted by Grant Gershon, brought out the rich coloration of this music. However, the minimalist emphasis on repetition with slight rhythmic variations certainly got tediously repetitive. Without a Jesus present on stage, the narrative element is provided by three countertenors, here sung by Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings, and Nathan Medley. The San Francisco Symphony Chorus, directed by Ragnar Bohlin, contributed concise choral interjections. The staging (or semi-staging) by Elkhanah Pulitzer tried to inject a bit of drama into this overlong (nearly three-hour test of audience endurance), but to little avail. 

After intermission, Act II, Scene 1 opened to an audience much depleted by patrons who simply had heard enough. Opening with raucous, strident music in a scene in which police pound on the door of Mary-and-Martha’s hostel, coming in search of Jesus of Nazareth, Act II begins noisily. Jesus gives himself up to the police. In the street, some of Jesus’s supporters turn violent, and one supporter slices off the ear of a policeman. Jesus rebukes his supporter, picks up the severed ear, and miraculously restores it to its owner’s head. Yet another miracle hard to believe in today. “He who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword,” is the message Jesus directs at his supporter. Scene 2 depicts the protests of women. This time they are sisters, mothers and wives of farm workers who, under the leadership of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, are on strike against the grape-growers who deny their workers good housing, decent wages, and health benefits. The text here is from social worker Dorothy Day, who briefly joined in the United Farm Workers struggle. Scene 3 depicts the scene at Golgotha, where it is reported by the three countertenors that Jesus is nailed to the cross and hoisted. The music here is again raucous, with crowds of onlookers sung by the chorus in mocking, shouting, abusive voices. A lament by Mary Magdalene based on Louise Erdrich’s poem “The Savior” is accompanied by keening oboes and clarinets. Scene 4 depicts the nightlong vigil at the foot of the Cross by Mary Magdalene, Martha, and Lazarus. Instead of having Jesus say “Eli, eli, lama sabacthani? (Lord, why have you abandoned me?)”, this Jesus of Sellars and Adams is reported as saying, “ Ash to ash, you say, but I know different. I will not stop burning.” The switch of texts here undercuts the drama. 

Scenes 5 and 6 depict the removal of the dead Christ from the Cross, the washing of his body, the placement of his corpse in a cave-like tomb, and, finally, his Resurrection. Momentarily interrupted by an extraneous bit of poetry from Louise Erdrich about the birth of frogs, the tale of the Resurrection is surprisingly and disappointingly anticlimactic. John Adams is simply not up to the task of providing music for the Resurrection that moves us. Instead, this strange, overlong, often tedious Gospel According to the Other Mary simply fades out, then makes a feeble attempt, altogether unsuccessful, to go out in a brief, hurried blaze of glory. As I said earlier, it just left me feeling empty.