Dinner with Strangers

We were having dinner by the pool of the restored Sunset Towers Hotel in Los Angeles. Capote and other celebrities once enjoyed basking in its art deco elegance.

From the hotel's hilltop location, Hollywood's lights twinkled below and behind the Chateau Marmont's Parisian roof nearby. The once-chic Marmont is now known as the site of John Belushi's fatal drug overdose. That's Hollywood.

The chef fired up his poolside grill on which this evening's fare would be meticulously cooked. Tables filled up quickly. Under a green canopy on a couch-swing, a young, overly-amorous couple struggled to keep their bathing suits on.

Casually chic middle-agers, all sun-glasses and Ralph Lauren, urged their waiter to hurry so they could make "curtain."

Beyond the pool, an emaciated yuppified biker drank shots and beers, amazingly out of context here. He smoked endlessly. When a waiter clumsily poured his second beer straight up, creating a six inch head of foam, the smoker complained firmly and got a complimentary brew.

Halfway through our own dinner, two gentlemen took the last two terrace seats behind my chair. One was a tall, lean man whose dyed hair did not hide his advancing years. His dinner companion, a handsome 20-something stud, seemed all fawn without depth.

The elder man had a deep voice that rolled over us from his perch less than two yards from our table. His companion spoke is a softer tone, but audibly nonetheless. Other terrace diners, like ourselves, tended to eat quietly, enjoying the view, the night air and the breathtaking landscape. But the two men carried on a streaming dialogue, fueled by lots of wine, flirtatiously dancing around and toward the night ahead of them.

The young man spoke of his roots in Battle Creek, and his plan to leave his current lover. The older man praised being "open to new experiences," then allowed that they might get together in Battle Creek sometime, on one of his "business" trips. I wondered if he trafficked in corn flakes. Mostly, I sensed the bluesy sounds of loneliness behind this chatter.

The stud suggested he could probably eat "about half an entrée," so they ordered a hamburger plate to share, and, predictably, another bottle of wine.

During lulls in our own conversation, we continued to hear occasional bytes from the neighboring table. The guy from Michigan told the sexagenarian how much he enjoyed him because, "you've had so many experiences." Feigned modesty and giggles replied.

This could just as easily have been an older man speaking with a much younger women-of-the-evening. It wasn't about sexual orientation or about age but about the commerce that springs from aloneness.

As we prepared to leave the terrace, my shawl fell. The gentleman with the big voice picked it up and graciously handed it to me. Our eyes locked momentarily as I thanked him.

I shall never forget those eyes, begging me not to judge.

This piece originally appeared in the Keene Sentinel 8/29/2006


A 9/11 family-wide thank you

Like most 26 year-olds, 2nd class Petty Officer and Electrician’s Mate Nuclear (or EMN2, for short)  Ben Forzani probably never thought about how it would be to leave his wife and children, alone at Kitsap Naval Base in Washington state. He served with the US Navy in South Korea, China and the Philippines doing the work our military does while we work, go to the beach, and worry about what to make dinner.
Many of us take the joy of our children and grandchildren for granted, if not in fact, then via Skype or other electronic ways we have today for participating in their lives even from a distance.

Not so for Ben. For the last half-year while he was deployed, he and his wife, Allie, communicated mostly by email and a few times by telephone (when he was briefly on land here and there. But because of the ship’s signal limitations, he had no chance to see his 6 year-old son Jack, or “baby,” Josie -- just 2-- “live” and doing things Dads love to watch their kids do.

For Allie, the long stretches when Ben has been absent since he signed up in 2010 have been “different.” She just becomes used to having him home with her and the kids for dinner, then, suddenly, he’s gone. She and the children bonded “to form a really close unit” which -- as many military families know-- is the survival tool they depend on until the missing parent returns.

Ben’s 6-year commitment to the Navy will end this October. He has only been home for a few days and Josie just wants to stay in his arms. As her Dad says, with joy and pride, Josie, “just hugged me all over, and wouldn’t let me put her down!”
Ben and Allie, who met in college in Sarasota, Florida, will soon leave military life as Ben pursues an eventual Masters’ Degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He says he feels confident he will be able to find employment with the skills he has and, in general, seems optimistic about his family’s future.

As he basks in the sunshine of his children’s delight at having him back, I ask him how he will feel if and when Jack-- or even Josie-- decide one day to serve in the military, or are drafted. Ben say’s he would support those decisions if they make them, but also adds he will tell them exactly what to expect so they don’t sign up “unprepared” for all that service means as he and many recruits have done.

For now, it’s easier to focus on the joyous reunion this one American family is enjoying after the many sacrifices they and families like them make for all of us every day. It’s too easy to forget how much we owe them all—families struggling on the home front and soldiers battling the global hell still raging since 9/11.

So on this year’s anniversary of  9/11-- to Ben and Allie, Jack and Josie, “Thank you all for your service.”



Rudy DOES Love to be in drag
(maybe this is a turn on for the Donald )


Rudy "the mouth" Giuliani jumped in to defend Trump's 2nd amendment outburst today against Hillary Clinton....Giuliani and Trump deserve each other-- two lothario has-beens who these days get a charge out of bullying women in public. Here is who Giuliano really is (yet I still defended his right to fair treatment from the cardinal-  something he would never do for me.) 

The second column here is more recent and proves what we Italians say about parental influences on children, "...If you plant tomatoes, you get tomatoes."

 (This column originally appeared in the Keene Sentinel in June 2005) 

On May 28, 2004, Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore, during an interview for the Baltimore Sun, ("Keep politics out of Communion -- It's between a Catholic and his conscience") told a reporter:
            "Our position is, Catholics have a responsibility to examine their own conscience and see if they are in a state     that is appropriate for the reception of the sacrament. We don't need bishops to get into the act. We have said a       gain and again as bishops, we are not in partisan politics. We dare not be pulled into a dispute between one         party and another."

Either something has changed in the Cardinal’s interpretation of Catholic teaching since then, or he made a mistake a year ago, but in May of 2005 the same Keeler refused to attend Loyola University’s commencement ceremonies in protest of an honorary degree that Catholic college was giving to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Keeler’s boycott was based on Giuliani’s own pro-choice politics.

Giuliani, himself a former seminarian who dropped out of priestly pursuits to choose marriage-parenthood-adultery-divorce-and remarriage instead, is no raging feminist. His political survival, however, made supporting women’s abortion rights necessary in heavily pro-choice New York City.

Giuliani's treatment of his ex-wife, Donna Hanover, and their two children who were publicly embarrassed by Giuliani’s open philandering with his current wife Judith Nathan was not exemplary Catholic pre- or even post-Canna behavior. Before Nathan the mayor seemed to spend more time with his female chief of staff than his family.

Giuliani's recommendation to President George W. Bush that former New York top cop Bernie Kerik be nominated for the newly created National Security cabinet post blew up in all their faces when Kerik was found to outdo even Giuliani at screwing around. Kerik, it seemed, had a wife and child plus another woman (also married) set up in a love nest in Manhattan just in case he needed sex between commutes to his home in the suburbs.

But Cardinal Keeler, apparently, would have been perfectly content to share the stage with Giuliani the libertine and insensitive Dad as long as the former mayor condemned women seeking pregnancy terminations for relief from the traumas of rape, incest, or pregnancies by husbands like Giuliani who had since taken off with another babe.

Keeler’s remarks a year ago regarding communion for pro-choice candidates like Giuliani and John Kerry (whom now-pope-then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had declared unfit for the sacrament) fly in the face of the Giuliani boycott. Since Catholics believe communion represents, “...the body and blood of Christ...” then Keeler implies that Giuliani may be good enough for Christ but not for him. Some people have taken this one step further to wonder if Keeler means Christ is good enough for Democrats but not for Republicans.

This year,  rival Catholic institution Notre Dame University awarded an honorary degree to U.S. Court of Appeals judge Jose Carbranes who is given a Grade A on the website for his excellent record on ruling to uphold Roe v. Wade, the law legalizing abortion in this country.

Feminist Elaine Kim, a professor of the University of California at Berkeley and no supporter of the Marian model for women is another 2005 Notre Dame honoree. No cardinal boycott for Notre Dame, however.

As a June footnote, the Covington, Kentucky diocese just made the nation's largest-ever settlement to litigants protesting its 50-year coverup of alleged sexual abuse by its priests and others. This settlement like huge cash payouts by Chicago, Boston, Albuquerque and others threaten to bankrupt the American church.

No word yet on how many good laypeople will boycott communion rails and collection plates to protest this gross disrespect for the same "innocent human lives" men like Keeler claim to care about.
Mary Ann Sorrentino is a columnist who was formally declared excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1984 for her work as then Executive Director of Planned Parenthood of RI.
Her email is


  • Mary Ann Sorrentino: Giuliani's upbringing nothing to write home about

  • By Mary Ann Sorrentino
    Much of the world knows about former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s recent rant that President Obama "doesn’t love his country” and “wasn’t brought up the way I was."
    Like Giuliani, I have Italian immigrant roots, and I challenge his skewed rationale. I know more men like Rudy Giuliani than I care to count. I know them well: I am even related to some and I nonetheless abhor their thinking and their bigotry.
    Giuliani’s parents were working class Italian-Americans. His father, a sometimes plumber, went to Sing Sing prison for robbing a milkman at gunpoint. Once released, he became an enforcer for a brother–in-law involved in Brooklyn’s rackets.
    My wild guess is this wasn’t a family championing the racial equality, gender equity or the gay rights that Rudy Giuliani supported when he needed money and votes. If Giuliani was brought up differently than the president was, maybe that’s his problem.
    Giuliani recommended top-cop friend Bernard Kerik to lead George W. Bush's Homeland Security Department. Kerik imploded beneath colorful zipper problem revelations and charges -- by no less than GOP icon Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. -- that he went AWOL and deserted in Iraq. But men raised as Rudy was are recklessly loyal: for them, a man’s worth is enhanced -- not damaged -- by his “girlfriend” (comare) quotient.
    While Mario Puzo’s Godfather deeply valued mothers and children, Giuliani publicly mortified the mother of his two children — TV anchor Donna Hanover — by revealing his divorce plans in a news conference. He chose Mother’s Day to film a “romantic walk” TV news feature with his mistress, aired from his wife’s studios.
    The Feb. 21 front page of The New York Times described today’s Giuliani as "an occasional fund-raising attraction [whose] time as a national Republican leader is past.” The article underscored that Rudy was not asked to speak at the 2012 GOP convention and concluded that his recent Obama slurs were the product of “slack political instincts” in a man who “has lost self-awareness.”
    I think Giuliani is aware of his inner Rudy, but the Rudy he channels is the now-defunct “America’s Mayor” of 9/11 and shortly thereafter.
    That Rudy urged us to join hands with New Yorkers in unity; entreated everyone to recognize and report terrorist threats and fight them valiantly. Today’s Rudy earns a fortune consulting with the government of Qatar, the country that gave refuge to 9/11 architect Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
    Even though President Obama is seen — by detractors and supporters — as a caring father and husband and a decent, hard-working human being, and Giuliani himself admits Obama is “a patriot," the president’s mother and the grandparents who raised him don’t get any credit from Giuliani for all that.

 It would be unfair for Giuliani to blame his parents for his bad behavior. They probably didn’t raise him to behave this way. Rudy Giuliani likely evolved into the angry, arrogant, self-absorbed skunk at the Republican garden party all by himsel



Published on

Greenwald Explains What Out-of-Touch Media Doesn't Get About Trump, Russia, and US Electorate

'People have been so fucked by the prevailing order in such deep and fundamental and enduring ways that they can't imagine that anything is worse than preservation of the status quo'
Glenn Greenwald
"You have this huge portion of the populace in both the U.K. and the U.S. that is so angry and so helpless that they view exploding things without any idea of what the resulting debris is going to be to be preferable to having things continue," Glenn Greenwald toldSlate. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)
Donald Trump poses "extreme dangers" to the United States and the world, journalist and co-founding editor of The Intercept Glenn Greenwald says in a new interview published atSlate.
But to stop the GOP presidential nominee from getting elected, "U.S. media and U.S. elites" must take a lesson from the recent Brexit debacle, he warns—and bending over backwards to link Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin isn't the right approach.
"U.K. elites were uniform, uniform, in their contempt for the Brexit case, other than the right-wing Murdochian tabloids," Greenwald told Slate contributor Isaac Chotiner by phone.
"They all sat on Twitter all day long, from the left to the right, and all reinforced each other about how smart and how sophisticated they were in scorning and [being snide] about [U.K. Independent party] and Boris Johnson and all of the Brexit leaders, and they were convinced that they had made their case," he said. "Everyone they were talking to—which is themselves—agreed with them. It was constant reinforcement, and anyone who raised even a peep of dissent or questioned the claims they were making was instantly castigated as somebody who was endangering the future of the U.K. because they were endorsing—or at least impeding—the effort to stop Brexit. This is what's happening now."
He continued:
Do you think the people voting for Donald Trump because they feel their economic future has been destroyed, or because they are racist, or because they feel fear of immigrants and hate the U.S. elite structure and want Trump to go and blow it up, give the slightest shit about Ukraine, that Trump is some kind of agent of Putin? They don't! Just like the Brexit supporters. The U.K. media tried the same thing, telling the Brexit advocates that they were playing into Putin’s hands, that Putin wanted the U.K. out of the EU to weaken both. They didn't care about that. That didn't drive them.
He cautioned pundits and the political elite against harboring a limited perspective about Trump supporters and their beliefs:
One of the things that is bothering me and bothered me about the Brexit debate, and is bothering me a huge about the Trump debate, is that there is zero elite reckoning with their own responsibility in creating the situation that led to both Brexit and Trump and then the broader collapse of elite authority. The reason why Brexit resonated and Trump resonated isn’t that people are too stupid to understand the arguments. The reason they resonated is that people have been so fucked by the prevailing order in such deep and fundamental and enduring ways that they can't imagine that anything is worse than preservation of the status quo. You have this huge portion of the populace in both the U.K. and the U.S. that is so angry and so helpless that they view exploding things without any idea of what the resulting debris is going to be to be preferable to having things continue, and the people they view as having done this to them to continue in power. That is a really serious and dangerous and not completely invalid perception that a lot of people who spend their days scorning Trump and his supporters or Brexit played a great deal in creating.
Filmmaker Michael Moore floated a similar argument last week, when he (apologetically) predicted that Trump will beat Hillary Clinton in November.
"I live in Michigan," he said in an interview. "Let me tell you, it's going to be the Brexit strategy."
"I think one of the things I've been concerned about this week is...that we're sitting in our bubble having a good laugh at this shitshow, as you say, of a [Republican National Convention], but the truth is that this plays to a lot of people that he has to win to become the next president," Moore explained at the time. "The population of schools has been wrecked, and the news media is just insipid and stupid and doesn't give the people the facts about what's going on."
Meanwhile, Greenwald denounced hysteria around Trump's relationship with Russia in general and specifically the billionaire's call on Wednesday for Russia to find Clinton's "missing" emails. "[T]he history of linking your political opponents to Russia is a really dangerous and ugly one in the U.S.," Greenwald said.
This echoes a charge leveled Wednesday by editors of The Nation, who wrote that "[i]n their zeal to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president—a goal we share—representative voices of the liberal establishment have joined with the forces of neoconservatism to engage in what can only be described as McCarthyist rhetoric."
Chotiner's interview with Greenwald also tackled the timing and source of the DNC leak; Edward Snowden's life in Russia; and Trump's recent statements about NATO.


Talk About Lies!

PLEASE read and FORWARD: Voters Need to WAKE UP !




PASS THIS ON..... Our children and grandchildren say, "Thank You."


How Many Husbands Would Be Too Many?

( Originally published on Open Salon 5/12/2010)

By Mary Ann Sorrentino

 "ONE MAN, 5 WIVES, 46 CHILDREN" screamed the cover of the National Geographic magazine in the waiting room holding me captive. I hadn't read a National Geographic since puberty, when teens would fumble through copies in their parents' libraries, hoping for a glimpse of naked people around the globe. With less than that youthful enthusiasm (and with only Sports Illustrated or Family Circle as reading options) I read the polygamy article.

It described the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) which split from the Mormons in 1935 after rejecting the mother church's ultimatum to renounce polygamy. Today the FLDS has more than 38,000 members mostly on the Utah-Arizona border and in other parts of America's West.
The guy on the cover with the 5 wives and 46 kids is Joe Jessop, a church elder aged 88.Jessop also has 239 grandchildren. (I'm thinking Joe and the wives ought to be sitting in 6 bathtubs watching a sunset behind the mountains in their own Cialis ad.)

There's probably not much passion in places like the FLDS Yearning for Zion Ranch in El Paso, Texas. The scriptural basis for the sect's clinging to polygamy--"Go forth and multiply--" doesn't conjure images of sex toys, black lingerie, saxophones in the background or a lovers talking "dirty." It's a slam, bam, thank you m'am and call me after you deliver this one type of ethic. Plus, if a guy has a half dozen wives to service, 50 kids and a couple hundred grandkids, you might as well take-a-number like you do in the deli and just wait your turn. 
FLDS women admit they sometimes feel hurt, rejection and jealousy aboutcompetingwith other women (sometimes their biological sisters.) This happens in monogamy too, so get over it.
The article made me wonder if there were societies where women take multiple husbands. My immediate response was that women are smarter than to do anything that dumb. By observation, if not experience, women understand that most husbands demand so much attention no one would want more than one. And 46 children! The thought alone would send most women-- usually the primary caregivers-- scrambling for a tubal ligation.
In fact, there are virtually no polyandrous societies on this planet (polyandry beingtheterm describing women with multiple husbands.) Polygyny is the accurate term for men with multiple wives. The more commonly used polygamy is actually a non-specific term describing those of either gender with multiple spouses.
  Another issue of National Geographic described the only remaining society where women may have several husbands-- all brothers--in a remote area in the Himalayas. Acquiring fraternal husbands, however, is different from men picking their own wives.  In the Himalayas it's, "marry one get 2 or 3 more free."
 The brothers may (but are not compelled to) take the same wife. They live together, with common children. The men help with the housework (or hut-work) so it's not all bad. Not surprisingly, Psychology Today's examination of polyandry attributed to it more sexual motives. The shrink journal also had an accusatory subtext warning men in monogamous situations not to be fooled by wives likely to sleep around. So Psychology Today basically concludes women are naturally sluts and it shouldn't matter if they service multiple husbands. (No professional in-depth scientific analysis, though, of the roving eyes, hands and other body parts of "monogamous" husbands like Tiger Woods, David Duchovny, or Bill Clinton.)

I see the fact that women do not choose multiple husbands as one of the few genderbased advantages females can claim. Women should just continue to play "dumb like a fox" in societies where they are not allowed to have more than one husband, for whatever reason. It is a gift to be spared several more mates to pick up after. Just think about all the nagging time women save by having only one guy to remind to take out the trash, pick the kids up after Little League, call his mother on her birthday, keep the doctor's appointment on Friday, feed the dog, put those in the hamper, or look in the second drawer-- where they have ALWAYS been.
 So the absence of polyandry in the world may not be an accident at all, but testimony to the superior wisdom, practicality and self-preservation instinct of the females of our  species. An old feminist adage cautions that, "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." (now click on this last sentence)

 So a fish that doesn't need Lance Armstrong can probably do without the whole Tour de France.                                    

To learn more, click link below for video


Bats and Balls
By Mary Ann Sorrentino  (orig. pub. In the Keene Sentinel)

An article in the British magazine The Economist tells us about a scientific study done at Syracuse University in New York by Professor Scott Pitnick. Interestingly, researcher Pitnick was studying bats and the biological relationship between their testicles and their brains. ( Some readers are now asking, “Why?”)

Since many women have maintained for generations that men actually think with their, uhhh, testicles, the article had my attention. The premise of the research team is that a bat’s testicles would be larger in species where the females of that group were more promiscuous, and smaller when the females tended to limit their couplings.

The article went on to mention casually, as if we all knew a lot about such things, that:
“Greater promiscuity does, indeed, lead to bigger testes presumably because a male needs to make more sperm to have a fighting chance of fathering offspring, if those sperm are competing with a lot of other males.” This is fascinating since women are so often accused of ripping off those particular body parts, or “busting” them, as they say. Now we find out there is a legitimate scientific study that shows that we actually give men those things they love! More interesting, the naughtier we are, the bigger theirs get! It is only if we are prudish that they “shrink” to embarrassing miniatures.

Again from the article:
“Gorillas which discourage dalliances between other males and the females of their harems, have small testes. Chimpanzees, among whom females mate widely, have large ones.”

Then the addenda our curiosity has been waiting for:
“Human testes lie between these two extremes.”

This conjures a spectrum with King Kong on one end, J. Fred Muggs on the other, and your husband or boyfriend(s) -or both- somewhere in the middle.

The smallest bat testes were found among those whose females were monogamous.

Finally, the kicker:
“Brain size, by contrast…varied in the opposite direction.”

This means the bigger the testes, the smaller the brains. (Many women reading this column are now resting their case.)

This study is not likely to be nominated for a Nobel Prize, but it does give us something to ponder. The conclusion of the article said much more than anything I might add in summarizing the results of all this research referred to in the title as, “Bats and Balls”.

As the article ended, simply:
“…it is better to be virile and dim, than impotent and smart.”

But then again, a lot of us already knew that. Sleep tight King Kong: we now know you are much smarter than you look in those frontal nudity shots.


Mary Ann Sorrentino

Mary Ann Sorrentino
Italy Series of articles runs Aug./Sept/Oct 2015

Hope for the Future: Uruguay 2007

Hope for the Future: Uruguay 2007
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"JOACHIM" - Oct. '92-March '08

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