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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, July 28, 2014

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Anthony Weiner is in hot water again after it was revealed his sexting habit isn't quite under control.
Anthony Weiner is in hot water again after it was revealed his sexting habit isn't quite under control. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

Weiner's sex scandal has nothing to do with mayoral race

I have been watching with interest the assault on Anthony Weiner, who is running for mayor of New York City.

For the second time, Weiner is being hung out to dry for having traded explicit sexual messages with women who are not his wife. His wife, by the way, stands by her man and says she’s ready to help if need be.

My question is, what’s wrong with Weiner’s behavior?

So he likes online sex and phone sex with women. If we were to arrest everybody who liked these things, we’d have to build a thousand new jails. There is nothing illegal about online sex and there is also nothing particularly immoral about it. Same thing for phone sex.

As kinks go, it is a long way down the list. Nobody seems to be getting hurt by this activity. Everybody involved seems to have been a willing participant.

I wouldn’t know how to get into a chat room if you paid me big money. I know it has something to do with the internet, but that whole world is still kind of a mystery to me.

But I have long believed that whatever your sexual practice is, it’s not anybody else’s business. I don’t think people ought to be hurt. If a spouse is both surprised and hurt by a lying, cheating mate, then you have a problem. (Hello, John Edwards.)

But if everybody knows what’s going on and nobody raises a stink except the media, then I think people ought to rethink this thing. I agree with Weiner when he says he thinks New Yorkers will focus more on his message than on this other stuff.

I hope so. I mean, if Weiner was taking advantage of someone or hurting them or doing something illegal or even seriously immoral, then he should go.

But a little harmless fun online doesn’t seem quite serious enough to derail a political career.

Jim Farrell is channeling his lifelong love of the theater into his new company, The Splinter Group.
Jim Farrell is channeling his lifelong love of the theater into his new company, The Splinter Group.

The Splinter Group launches inaugural season this summer

If you start listing things you want to do where there is a risk that the rewards might not be quite what you hope, starting a theater company might be right near the top of that list.

But that doesn’t make any difference to Jim Farrell, whose long-time love of the theater takes a new twist this year with the birth of The Splinter Group, a fledgling troupe that will stage three plays during its inaugural season at the Marian Center on the South Side of Milwaukee.

Farrell, 51, has a long and impressive resume in the theater. He’s been a development director, a fundraiser, an actor, a playwright, a producer, a director, an audience development coordinator and is the current fiancé of Nifer Clarke, who is just about my favorite actress in Milwaukee. They are getting married Aug. 18 at the Skylight Music Theatre, where they met.

With a background like his, Farrell would seem a natural to run his own theater company. But it is a task filled with peril and he is going into it with his eyes open.

"We are going to do three plays the first year and see if we can develop an audience," he said recently over coffee at Alterra. "I think we’ve got a wonderful space at the Marian Center and we’re going to stage plays that are going to be a little edgy for Milwaukee."

The season opens Sept. 20 with "Kimberly Akimbo," a play by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay Abaire. The play tells the story of the most dysfunctional family you could imagine. It’s about pain and sorrow and a little bit of hope as well, and it is likely to attract a healthy audience. It’s not an unknown play, but it’s not been frequently produced in Milwaukee.

Farrell is a very nice man and, unlike a lot of dreamers, he brings a lot of juice to this endeavor. He’s got a pretty clear vision of what The Splinter Group should be.

"Lots of people in the Milwaukee theater community want to do something a little edgier, something that has a little teeth," he said. "All theater starts because peo…

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Dave argues that parking here should lead to a ticket, but not a tow.
Dave argues that parking here should lead to a ticket, but not a tow. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

Dave's Downtown parking woes

Downtown.

Everybody who lives in Milwaukee wants people to come Downtown.

One way to do it is to get rid of those damn parking checkers in their little Jeeps with the power to have your car towed.

Thursday night I was downtown for the first night of Bastille Days. It’s a tradition for our family. Same spot. Same foods. Same trip with Papa (that’s me) to get an ice cream cone after dinner.

We got done and I walked west to Broadway and Kilbourn, where I had parked in a no parking zone, along with dozens of other cars.

Much to my surprise, Broadway was empty. My car was gone and so was every other car parked on that street.

So after spending about $50 on cabs I arrived at the Milwaukee tow lot on 38th and Lincoln at 7:30 a.m. Friday morning. I was standing outside. Eleven other people were also there, saying their cars got towed from Bastille Days.

The clerk who took my money said she wouldn’t even bother asking for my title and insurance card because they were going to be swamped with people trying to get their cars back.

I know I parked illegally. Give me a ticket. Make it an expensive ticket. But for God’s sake don’t tow my damn car. Talk about a message that says don’t bother coming down here or you may end up having your car towed.

It was a festival, for God’s sake. Cars were parked all over. Give those checkers instructions to ticket everybody parked illegally. But don’t tow those cars. What you have done is ruined a festival and really pissed people off about Downtown Milwaukee.

Somebody around here needs to have some common sense.

The Alchemist Theatre's production of "King Lear."
The Alchemist Theatre's production of "King Lear." (Photo: Jason Fassl)

This "Lear" is just too young

"King Lear" may well be the most towering tragedy written by William Shakespeare, and the role of the king has demanded well-developed men who can provide both the gravitas and the old man madness of the monarch.

Over the years many of the world’s finest actors have worn the crown - men like Laurence Olivier, Paul Schofield, James Earl Jones and most recently Sam Waterston. All men who wear age with grace and with evident turbulence, they have earned the wrinkles on their face.

And so, it was with some trepidation that I walked into the performance of "King Lear" at Alchemist Theatre over the weekend. Bo Johnson is an actor of great skill with a distinct ability to play a wide variety of characters. But he is a young man, not nearly with the life experiences to make this version of the king resonate. He is in a rock and roll band and performs extensively.

This production of "Lear," directed with great skill and creativity by Leda Hoffman, is a very powerful night of theater. But with the role of Lear being the mountain upon which this play lives or dies, there was at least half of a problem.

There are two things to know about this king. One is that he is old. The other is that his age and infirmity are parts of the demonic madness that marks the fall of this monarch.

Johnson delivered a spectacular portrait of a man going mad before our very eyes. He was mad at the start of the play and shred all semblance of sanity with a skill and sensitivity that was breathtaking the rest of the way.

The problem which was never overcome was that Johnson is a young man. While he and others in the cast proclaimed their sorrow and angst over his aging, Johnson pranced around the stage like a young man.

Old men move slowly. They take small steps. They may have a touch of palsy. They have voices that are halting and sometimes quiver. They are hesitant and careful.

Johnson moved with speed and certainty. He spoke with passion and power. He showed how strong and agile he was.

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