Life as a Artist: “The daily struggles of an undocumented immigrant in the greatest city in the world.” By Loredana Gasparotto

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“Camera, action! Sofia, the lead character of Pentimento walks into her basement apartment, rundown, shabby, sad.” Little did I know 18 years ago that this would be the NY I would choose to depict in my feature film Pentimento.

A depressing immigrant neighborhood instead of skyscrapers or the bohemian buildings of the village. I have always loved those old New York buildings shabby and dusty, but in a pre-war romantic way. They inspired feelings of dreamy nostalgia and hope, not futility and depression.

I’ve always perceived old NY buildings the way they appear in my favorite movies as a metaphor for the characters’ destiny: poor, but beautifully poor. The whole idea of artists, musicians and other creative types struggling while trying to make it in the city is always depicted as a fun even if at times arduous, experience. It was this idea of a romantic, beautiful, and inevitably rewarded at the end, struggle that drove me to NY.

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I remember spending the first few months meticulously visiting all the locations from my favorite movies: the Empire Diner, the Cherry Line Theater, Port Authority and the great bench with the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from Annie Hall.

I had landed in the biggest living movie set in the world! NY was electrifying! It was pure, harsh, romantic poetry, with its gritty streets, graffiti, old subway cars, smoke coming from the underground holes, and iron fire escapes hanging outside. However, the fairytale came soon to an end.

And instead of settling in the East Village I had to dock in Bushwick with its constant gunshots, murders and in an apartment without a fire escape, but rat infested.

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A little by little, the harsh trivial reality of surviving in NY consumed all my time. As I was wiping gross pubic hair from a public bathroom to make rent, my idealistic perception of NY was gradually changing. The excitement wore out. What if this was going to be my life for the next 10 years? How long would it take before becoming a big star and would it ever happen at all? As the beautiful, cinematic fantasy of NY clashed with its cruel actuality, I created my own unique picture of what it’s like to live in it.  And years later, that insight, uncertainty, and fear inspired me to tell the stories of all those artists/immigrants who come to Big Apple to be creative and free.

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My memories translated into Pentimento, a film that might shape other people’s view of the city, continuing the progression of creativity and hopefully redefining common perceptions about NY. …Oh yes, and just for the record the bench where Woody Allen and Diane Keaton were sitting in Manhattan? It was just and only for the movie.

Loredana Gasparotto is an independent filmmaker, residing in Queens and her most recent film, Pentimento, details an immigrant struggle in New York and many of the sites in the movie are based on her own experience as an immigrant herself. Her movie is available on Amazon and she has been a guest on occasional basis on the Donelson Files. 

Federer at the US Open, Is This The End?

There is that moment in which an athlete ages before your very eye and you wonder, is this the end of a great career? I’ve seen this in boxing where a fighter literally ages in front of you, where punches seem slower and often misses their target when a year earlier, they connected with ease.  When Roger Federer lost to John Millman, it was more than a shock, the audience witness a great Tennis player age in front of them.

Federer won the first set with ease and appeared to be winning the second set before he got broken and then lost in the tie breaker. Throughout the final three sets in which he lost everyone, there were times that he had Millman on the rope only to let him off the hook and unable to finish off his opponent. The old Federer would have won this match in three sets against an opponent that wasn’t even ranked in the top 50 before the US Open.

On a hot and humid night, it was Millman who looked fresher as the match continued and it was Federer who looked sluggish and slow.  The Federer of old melted in front of us and the Old Federer appeared.  Maybe what made this performance shocking was that for the past two years, he had won three of the previous seven majors along with Nadal who also won three. He made it to the finals of Cincinnati, the last big ATP hard court tour before the Open, where he lost to Novak Djokovic. On this night, the heat and a determined opponent who was playing the match of his life combined to evaporate Federer skills.

Federer looked 37 and the audience watching the match were more stunned than anything and even Millman acknowledge he hit Federer at the right night, not gloating about his victory but thankful that this night, he caught a Federer on a bad night.

For many pundits it may be too early to declare Federer old and career over when one view the past two years in its totality but there are those moments, you look at athlete and wonder, when does father time nail you?

In Peyton Manning final year as a Bronco, injuries and age combined to slow a great career.  The year before, Manning completed 66% of his passes, had 39 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions but in the Bronco championship year, he threw only 9 touchdowns and had 17 interceptions and was benched for a few games in favor of Brock Osweller who took over for Manning against the Chief on November 15th. He replaced Manning for rest of the year before Manning came back in the last game to lead the Broncos to victory.

Manning won his second championship that season but he was not the reason, the Bronco defense was.  Manning at this stage of his career was no longer the catalyst for Broncos offense but left to manage the team while the defense pounded the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl.  In 2014, Manning was still the great Manning but by 2015, injuries and age combined to take a once great quarterback into a utility quarterback looking over his shoulder at his back up.

Federer against Millman looked like the Manning of 2015 while spending much of the past two years looking like the Manning of 2013 and 2014 that played for the Broncos. Is this the end of Federer as we know him?  Good question but the Federer that we saw at the US Open finally look like an old Federer who finally reached that point in his career where father time told him, “No Mas.”

Explaining Trump by Tom Donelson

Another way to look at the Trump phenomena is to understand his populist base is for real and for many Republicans, their future is tied to the success of their ability to combined conservatism with a populist edge.  As I noted in my book, The Rise of National Populism and Democratic Socialism, conservatism Trump populism is compatible with Trump populism as Trump based his individual tax plan on the Rubio proposals from the 2016 election including tax rates. (Trump did add an additional 37% tax rates on the wealthy but he added many tax breaks that benefits the Middle Class, similar to what Rubio proposed.)  The corporate tax plan proposal begin at 15%, similar to Cruz’s 16% rate and ended up at 21%.

Trump own view of immigration is a combinations of amnesty for many of them here illegally now combined with restricting future immigration levels, border security, vista reform and moving toward a more merit base system, most of which is supported by majority of Americans and this is where most Republicans are.  For many Americans, they no longer believe that immigration is a boon to their economic prospect and while many in the political class wants increase immigration levels and amnesty for illegals but little in the regard for border security or change in our present immigration levels.  Immigration increases GNP overall but it also impacts those at the bottom of the economic skills as lower income and Middle Class compete with both legal and illegal immigrants. What we see is that overall economy goes up while those at the bottom of the economic ladder see their overall income go down.

The political class, in particular the left, biggest failure has been in foreign policy.  While we debate the wisdom of the second Iraq war, we can positively say that America was safer in 2009 than in January of 2017.  Isis rose in the ashes of Obama pulling out early, only to force Obama to begin putting America troops back, and his policy in Syria has led to the death of at least 500,000 million civilian and a weakening of our position in the Middle East. The Iranian deal allowed Iran free reign throughout the region and the deal will allow Iran to produce a nuclear weapons.  Russian essentially annexed half of Ukraine and added Crimea.

China has essentially used the WTO to its benefit while applying its mercantilism theory to gain the upper hand in its own quest to turn the Middle Kingdom into the center of the universe in place of the United States.  Many of the post-World War II era institution that kept the peace are fraying and Trump is asking the right questions.  What is the role of NATO today? How do we get our Allies pay more of their defense? What should our relations be with Russia and is Russia a greater threat or is China over the long run?  How do we liberalize trade while dealing with various inequality that exist within the United States?  We could go on but Trump own view is that American interest comes first and while I question his views on trade, it would be ironic that Trump may end up be a more free trader after being elected to be the most protectionist.

For the Republicans, a new coalition is within reach that includes a portion of the minority whose economic interest no longer served by Democratic policy, blue collar workers and the Middle Class, and need to get some of those suburban whites who deserted Trump.  The Democratic Party has moved to the left and within the Democratic Socialism movement, many Trump voters understand the when it comes to Democratic Socialism movement, the Democracy is expendable when it comes to push socialism and as Trump voters see their own views censored on many of the social media sites, they understand that what stands between them and the political class is Donald Trump.

Why Do Trump Voters Stick With Him? By Tom Donelson

Despite recent convictions of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, many Trump voters still stand by their man as Salena Zito noted, “Last week, a woman in her mid-40s who lives in a tidy suburban enclave just outside of Columbus, Ohio, summed up her continued support for President Donald Trump despite his morals, values and behavior not matching hers nor matching her expectations she had for any president of the United States. (the woman stated) “For decades I have been inspired by aspiring politicians and elected officials who took to the podium or the camera and delivered poetic speeches to earn my trust and my support. They would sway me with expressive words and artfully delivered promises. It took me a while to realize those words weren’t theirs, but skillfully crafted sentences that had been massaged and focus-group tested by a full staff of speechwriters and strategists.”…While the words were beautiful, they never manifested into anything tangible in her community.”  For many, Trump is producing results as Zito added, “Along comes Trump in 2016. She cannot abide anything he tweets, finds his speeches a stream of consciousness that is hard to unscramble and considers his morals in the gutter. She reluctantly voted for him and knows she will vote for him again, something she admits even surprises her. Why does he hold her support? He delivers results.”  He got tax cuts passed and the economy has continued its upward trajectory, we may witness the first 3 percent growth since 2007.  This recovery is now starting to impact many of the blue collar workers, minorities and others left behind in the Obama recovery.

Many Trump voters understand his moral failings and figure that into their calculations as they understood that he is what stands between them and the political class they viewed have screwed them over.  Zito added, “Right now the value of Trump to the Trump voter is he is all that stands between them and handing the keys to Washington back over to the people inside Washington. That’s it. He’s their only option. You’ve got to pick the insiders or him.”

If anything, Trump has exposed the incompetence of the present political class and how they truly feel about the people they governed.  For many of the political class, many Trump voters are merely deplorable and they see their values mocked by the political class.  This is the worse political class since the end of World War II, combined with an Academic and Science class that no longer seeks truth but are so politicized that the search for truth no longer matters.

The hatred for Trump expose the length that the political class will go to protect themselves including the pursuing the Russian collusion that can’t even be proven to exist but was designed to undermined the Trump administration and seek to overturn the 2016 elections as Paul Sperry noted, “Bitter to the core, Hillary Clinton and her campaign aides hatched a scheme, just 24 hours after conceding the race, to spoon-feed the dirty rumors to an eager liberal media and manufacture the narrative that Russia secretly colluded with her neophyte foe to sabotage her coronation… The plan, according to the book, was to push journalists to cover how “Russian hacking was the major unreported story of the campaign,” and it succeeded to a fare-thee-well. After the election, coverage of the Russian “collusion” story was relentless, and it helped pressure investigations and hearings on Capitol Hill and even the naming of a special counsel, which in turn has triggered virtually nonstop coverage.”  The Steele Dossier, paid for by Clinton’s administration, became the basis for FISA warrants and used to spy on the Trump campaign and administration.  While Manafort was convicted on crimes that occurred before the 2016 campaign and Cohen was pursued over other crimes nothing to do with Russian Collusion but in one case, it dealt with paying off porn stars to keep quiet about affairs. Investigation now spread into Trump Foundation and Trump organization so the political class has spread it tentacles beyond the Collusion.

What many voters understand is that the class protects its own as Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration allowed the Russian to get 20 percent of uranium reserve, on investigating the Clinton Foundation which could be describe as a pay to play including foreign contributors, how the FBI and DOJ tanked the Clinton’s email investigation, and the IRS went after conservative groups and no one pay the legal price. They know that there are two standards, one for the political class and one for them.  Trump, the imperfect vessel, is what stands between them and the political class.

Blog From Right to Left

By Tom Donelson

Donelson Files will feature writers from Left and Right plus everyone in between.  The Donelson Files is a podcast, that features dicussion left to right featuring Tom Donelson, long time political operative, chairman of Americas Pac and project director/research associate of Americas Majority Foundation.  Coco Konski, writer and author, represent the left.  We will feature other writers and cover a variety of issues.

Not all issues will be political since not all of life is political.  We will feature reviews of books and entertainment along with Sports to lighten the load and go beyond the political. Sometimes what we see in sports and the entertainment world reflects the political or is it the political that reflects the happenings of our culture?

The Donelson Files is on 6 pm EST Wednesday on the Batchelor Pad Radio Network and you can call in at 646-929-0130.