My Trump Connection

trumpInteresting story. Found this in an article online from 1993 in Caribbean Beat magazine. Caldwell was owner of Palm Island in the Grenadines, West Indies when I arrived around the same time to interview for another magazine, Cruising World (a yacht mag.) He told me about Streisand, but not Trump. Several celebs wanted to buy the place. When I later wrote a novel based on John’s story, I called it FAME ISLAND, detailing a Powerball winner’s battle to save the island from development (and using a Survivor type reality show as cover to fight a corrupt governor on neighboring Union Island.) !  Well, Mark Burnett happened to be producer of Survivor and The Apprentice, so I included a quote by Trump: “People are impressed by fame. Think big and live large.” Imagine my surprise to see the other day Trump liked Palm too! Caldwell died, and his sons sold the island to a private company. The audiobook version is narrated by Emmy winner (and Star Wars gaming voiceover and TV actor/director) Kris Tabori; the ebook version is titled “The Instant Celebrity.” Caldwell had sailed around the world with his family to discover the place, then spent 20 years with a wheelbarrow transforming it into paradise. He always hoped a movie would be made there, so I wrote a fictional version that includes his account of fighting off an attack from renegades. The audiobook was directed by a Grammy winning dramatist, and got accolades from a Disney producer, who said, “it would make a great movie, lots of twists and turns.” Alas, it was an indy press and not in hardcover first, and so didn’t get much press.

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Also interviewed pianist Lola Astanova, who Trump admired (and who played in Palm Beach.) The photo below shows her with Trump and Julie Andrews in 2012 at Carnegie Hall in NYC. Astanova reposted it from my Instagram feed. Andrews starred with one of my fav actors, James Garner, in the anti-war classic “The Americanization of Emily,” and read the intro to Garner’s biography. Garner’s daughter liked my review of the biography, AND Tabori (narrator of Fame Island above) was once in The Rockford Files as a guest star! So that’s my Kevin Bacon “6 degrees” moment. (Oh, and I also penned a Kindle ebook “TrumpWorld: Post Election Daymares.” It’s a fantasy on reading in honor of my mentor, Ray Bradbury.)

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The First Olympics

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Before the gladiators started sticking it to each other, before men in tight shorts started running and jumping around for the benefit lusting female fans, there were the Greek gods themselves. These were the original players, inspiration for the first game developers to keep the gods amused so they’d leave us the hell alone. Let the Games begin!

ZEUS:  The supreme ruler of heaven and earth from Mt. Olympus. Overthrew his father Cronus for the spot. Often cheated on his wife Hera, and was once forced to turn a lover into a cow to disguise her. (He might have turned a cow into a Jessica Simpson lookalike, as in “moooove over, Extreme Makeover,” but we’ll never know since Homer doesn’t tell us.)

POSEIDON:  Lord of the seas. Brother to Zeus, he cruised for chicks in an amphibious chariot pulled by mermaid-like horses with gold manes. This macho display of horsepower led to his scoring with the stunning Medusa in Athena’s temple. Too bad for Medusa, though, because when Athena found out, she turned her luscious tresses into snakes. From then on, anyone who looked at Medusa got turned to stone. (Was Athena jealous, or what??)

ATHENA:  Goddess of wisdom, peace and war. Scholars may debate whether she had the hots for Poseidon, but they generally agree she was one powerful and crafty bitch. She even went up against Poseidon once, and got the Parthenon built in her honor by the Athenians. Then, when she was challenged to a weaving competition by Arachne, she not only beat Arachne, but turned her into a spider to keep her weaving forever. (Now you know why Poseidon didn’t buy her any drinks.)

HADES.  God of the underworld, this brother of Zeus tormented hordes of sinners and fallen Demi-gods. For instance, for trying to trick the gods, Tantalus was placed before some fruit trees beside a lake, which disappeared or stretched away whenever he tried to eat or drink. (Hence, the word “tantalize.”) Sisyphus once snitched on the randy Zeus, and was doomed to push a boulder uphill, well, forever. Then, with Zeus’ permission, Hades kidnapped the beautiful Persephone for himself. . . that is, until her mother Demeter found out and brought winter on the world. That’s when Hades relented and let Persephone visit her a few months of the year. That’s also when crops were allowed to grow, and why we have what we now call “the seasons.” (Try telling that to Sports Illustrated, though!)

DEMETER:  Goddess of the harvest. (In case you were wondering.)

APHRODITE:  Goddess of love. One hot mama, Aphrodite nonetheless married an ugly, lame man because it made her seem all the more beautiful.  Still, she was no saint. (None of the gods were, by a long shot.) In a beauty pageant judged by a prince of Troy, Aphrodite won by bribing the judge with a beautiful woman of his own. She went on to have an affair with Ares, the god of war, that produced two offspring–Phobos and Deimos. (Meaning “Fear” and “Terror.”)

APOLLO:  God of music and poetry, Apollo was the original rock star of Ancient Greece. Young and handsome, he had groupies, a pre-Fender lyre given to him by Hermes, and numerous affairs with both women and men alike. (Naturally enough, one of his conquests was Dionysus, the god of wine.) His ill fated tryst with Cassandra, though, resulted in the fall of Troy when Apollo shot an arrow into the foot of a famous warrior named Achilles (to spite Cassandra after their nasty breakup.)

HERMES: The messenger god Hermes is the one to whom everyone drank, with hopes of receiving good luck in return. But one of his children was truly spooky.  Pan was half man and half goat (wonder how that happened?), and would follow people into the woods and play an insane but soft tune on a flute from somewhere behind them. This usually resulted in what became known as “panic.”

PROMETHEUS:  Legend has it that this god stole fire from Zeus and gave it to the humans he’d been empowered to create. This angered Zeus (the control freak), so Zeus chained Prometheus to a rock and let an eternally ravenous eagle feast on his liver forever.  (Do you see a pattern here?)  Zeus was not done there, either. Oh, no. He also gave a human named Pandora a box that looked like a present, and told her never to open it. When she did, evil and misery flew out, but not hope, which had no wings. (Zeus, you’re one sick, vindictive son-of-a-)

EROS:  At last, the god of love. Son of Aphrodite, Eros went around shooting arrows at people to get them hot and bothered. One time he shot Apollo, who fell in love with a river goddess named Daphne. But he shot Daphne with an arrow made of lead, which turned her off to him. So Daphne turned herself into a laurel tree, and that’s why Apollo began the custom of crowning the Olympic Games winners with laurel leaves. (Sorry, Daphne, you’ll grow more.)

ECHO:  This was a minor deity who was cursed by Hera, the wife of Zeus, after Echo delayed her with endless talking while she was trying to catch Zeus in the hay with some other forest nymphs.  After that, Echo couldn’t talk except in echoes, and so was rejected by Narcissus, the man she fell in love with.  After Echo ran off, other nymphs then cursed Narcissus so that he would only love himself, and so when he tried to kiss his own reflection in a pool, he fell in and drowned. (Nonetheless, he’s still Trump’s favorite.)

Who Doesn’t Like a Slow Kiss?

televangelistOne person alone in a room is complete and inviolate. Add another and comparisons arise. The same goes for two dogs, two leaves, two shrimp, two Gordon Ramsays. If there’s a pair of human eyes in the room, they will focus on one thing, and then the other, and then back again. Assessing and valuing. We just can’t stop! (Nor can Gordon Ramsay. . .by the way the formula for every episode of his show “Kitchen Nightmares” is: you go in, meet everyone, taste the food, hate it, discover stale food in freezer, toss microwave, insults, coach owners in Dr. Phil mode, retool, relaunch, second wave of errors, success, kisses/hugs. . . kinda like a romance novel, only instead of sex it’s food.) Anyway, comparison is instinctive, fundamental. Call it a genetic abnormality, if you want to. A flaw of epic consequences, because it may inevitably doom us. Yup, we’re all going down because the one thing we can’t do is accept something for what it is. No, we have to compare, to judge, and then. . . and then to kill?
    Ever since homo sapiens acquired a slight intellectual edge over Neanderthals, and used this edge to crush their bony skulls, mankind has been stuck with this US vs THEM thing. (And with perfection, as defined by our clan, race, club, team…the cosmetic industry got its start on the banks of a roaring African river when some cad we shall call Kudzelgeek placed a fistful of clay into his girlfriend’s hand, and she used it to smooth out those tiny lines and wrinkles in her forehead.  “Hey, lookie here,” Zeebeeaum told her best friend Wilma. “I pretty. . .you not so much.”)
    I say all this because I’m about to compare one musical performance to another. Any true artist (music/art/literature) gives an instinctive interpretation, and as long as he or she has mastered the medium (ie. can do it many other ways) it becomes a matter of subjective taste (unless the listener/reader/viewer doesn’t think for themselves, and watches televangelists and the Food Porn Network instead.) The following Chopin nocturne is played at probably the slowest pace you’ve ever heard it, but is it wrong? Not at all. The slower tempo renders the piece in an entirely new light, as though from another angle you viewed a sculpture. Exquisite.  Famed pianist Martha Argerich plays it in 4:17; here it’s 6:25. Chopin himself would have approved, however, since this is romantic music, more about feeling than rigid rote. To play this as you’ve heard other people perform it is like kissing someone based on how you saw someone in the movies do it. Either it’s real or it’s not…and who doesn’t like a slow kiss?  (Ironically, note that Ivo Pogorelich was called a genius by Argerich, who then quit the jury when he was eliminated by the other judges in the 1980 Chopin competition!)