In Tune with June!

Don’t ask me why but Judge Judy Sheindlin reminds me of my mom. Her father was a dentist. My mom’s father was not a dentist but my mom was. My maternal grandfather was a Renaissance man interested in the world around him and, in some ways, he took me along with him. He did it by reading to me, taking me to the theater and applauding when I played the piano. (Oh! I’m having a nostalgic digression.) But let’s get back to Judge Judy, who, when she enrolled at the Washington College of Law at American University, was the only woman in a class of 126 students. My mom was one of a handful of female students at Columbia Dental School. Judge Judy is known for her fast decision-making and acerbic wit. My mom was too. The television star states that her show’s primary goal is to motivate the public to do the right thing and to show that each individual must take responsibility for his or her own actions. Judge Judy tells it like it is with a no-nonsense, wisecracking approach. In case anyone reading this has not tuned in to her program, the lady holds court as presiding judge and hers is the highest rated daily television show. It’s a half hour program, nationally syndicated where one can watch Judge Judy adjudicating real-life small claims disputes within a simulated courtroom set. She revitalized the courtroom genre. On another personal note I suppose that my mom revitalized me!
Aziz Ansari, a writer, a stand-up comedian, and actor, is the creator of the Netflix series “Master of None.” I had never heard of him until my son and his wife told me to tune in. “Master of None” is not like much else on television. Ansari, who is 32 years old, began his career performing stand-up comedy some fifteen years ago while attending New York University. In his original series he plays Dev, whose career highlight is a Go-Gut commercial. In a premiere episode he meets his maybe-girlfriend, Rachel, and his pals. In the second episode it flashes back to immigrant stories of Dev’s parents. It is actually played beautifully by Ansari’s real-life mother and father who left India. Also, there’s his friend Brian’s father who left Taiwan. It’s all about the two families, East and South-Asian, teasing out their similarities and differences. Aziz Ansari himself makes Dev, a 30-year-old lightweight with a soul, feeling and fighting the pull of maturity. The creator is committed to building comedy on ideas. The super-talented actor even directed several episodes of “Masters of None” with his observational and improvisational comedy. His subjects are every-day life, self-deprecation, and American culture. Oh, did I mention that, although he was born in South Carolina, Ansari is an anomaly: an Indian playing an Indian character in a lead role? As an aside, the numbers for women are low too. As a stand-up comedian Aziz Ansari sold out Madison Square Garden. My granddaughter, Ali, who was part of the crowd, said that he was hilarious. I suspect that we’re going to hear a lot more of this talent. As for “Master of None” I agree with Andy and Andrea that his TV show is binge-worthy – and gaze-worthy
At the same time that a new movie came out, “Suffragette,” a new book by the feminist icon Gloria Steinem came out. The film dramatizes an important – and still painfully relevant – fact-based story. It’s a British historical period drama about women who fought for equality and the right for women to vote in early 1900 England. It’s a meaningful history lesson that caused one critic to say, “It plays like a slog through History class.” Personally, young audiences may be drawn to the film. I’m sure they would laugh out loud at this quote: “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” It certainly made me laugh out loud. Older moviegoers may find that it evokes memories of more recent battles over women’s rights. Gloria Steinem was recognized as a leader and spokeswoman for the feminist movement in the late 1950s and early ‘70s. She revs up memories and travels in “My Life on the Road.” Her story makes the case for travel not as a luxury, but a transformative, potentially radical act particularly for women so long relegated to riding behind their husbands or staying home. It took Ms Steinem twenty years to finish her memoire because of the sheer difficulty of “writing an on-the-road-book when you’re on the road.” She credits her father who was an itinerant salesman for giving her the courage to cut an unconventional path. Her life reads like a remarkable and fascinating one. What surprised me most was to learn that the lady is a fan of Amy Schumer and her viral brand of feminine humor. Chacun à son goût.
My friend’s mother dated Sam Newhouse when he was simply a copy boy at The Bayonne Times. Since most of you never heard of that newspaper it’s simply because it was such a long time ago. He went on to owning a number of other newspapers, radio stations and magazines. Some seventeen years ago his son S. I. Newhouse offered the job of editor of The New Yorker to a favorite journalist of mine, David Remnick. When the offer came his wife said “it could be a great adventure.” If you were fortunate enough to tune into Charlie Rose’s TV interview of the writer you may have learned as I did that the man who, in 1992, was simply a staff writer became the editor. As a progressive journalist David Remnick won a Pulitzer Prize for his book “Lenin’s Tomb.” Remnick wrote many profiles on world political leaders and edited many anthologies. He also taught at Princeton and Columbia. As for the The New Yorker it started as a comic magazine (I still enjoy its cartoons although I can’t always find the humor in many of them). Beginning in the late ‘30s The New Yorker got more serious although its cartoons are still something to enjoy if you’re smarter than I am. As editor David Remnick finds good writers and keeps looking for new ones. He himself has written many pieces reporting from Russia, the Middle East, and Europe. His profiles on politicians and world leaders have won him awards for excellence in journalism. Remnick professes to love writing and reporting. As editor he learned quickly to make decisions about contentious stories. Under his leadership The New Yorker has won thirty-seven national magazine awards. With David Remnick at the helm the magazine continues to be known for its long-form investigative pieces, revues, cartoons, humor, and fiction. He states that the burden is to be fair and accurate. The prolific man looks forward to navigating the enormous revolution taking place in the print business. He’s a 57-year-old man who rose from staff writer to editor. We think he’s up to the task. (As a personal aside, my granddaughter, Rachel, graduated from the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and benefitted greatly from her four years there.)
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