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Part 6: Amazing In Depth Essay About Sopranos Symbolism and Subtext (credit: FlyOnMelfisWall source: thechaselounge.net)
Kennedy and Heidi: Vicarious Patricide as Tony’s Decompensation
At the risk of needless redundancy, I think it’s helpful to summarize Tony’s state of mind going into the episode Kennedy and Heidi. His consciousness is teeming with ancient but recently-agitated memories showcasing his father’s violence and toxic influence, like Johnny shooting a hole through Livia’s hairdo and baptizing him in the act of murder. He’s unable to shake stories of parental neglect leading to tragic outcomes for children. He’s painfully aware of Christopher’s hatred of him and desire for murderous revenge, feelings ultimately rooted in the fact that Tony guided him into the same corrupt existence into which he himself had been led by Johnny, Junior, and company, suggesting a reciprocal, if unconscious, rage by Tony towards those men. His subconscious mind is under constant assault from hats and movie posters and coffee mugs bearing the image of a bloody meat cleaver, an emblem of his own lost childhood innocence and inculcation by his father into his brutal, ugly vocation. He is racked with acute but intense guilt over the role he thinks his life’s example has played in shaping his son’s values and poor sense of self-worth. And he is still repressing a mountain of hurt over the fact that his uncle and second father tried not once but twice to kill him, a repression Melfi warned would someday result in a total collapse of his defense mechanisms, that is, a collapse of his paternal hero-worship and related quest for the macho validation that has prevented him from critically examining his father, uncle, and the men upon whom he modeled his life. Now consider the circumstances immediately before the crash. Tony and Chris are on a routine drive back from business in Christopher’s new black Cadillac SUV (the first Cadillac Chris has ever owned, incidentally.) The conversation turns to life priorities. Chris, conspicuously clad in a Cleaver hat, specifically mentions how Kaitlyn has changed his priorities, and Tony mentions the “shit with Junior”. So the context is immediately pregnant with the fact that Junior shot and nearly killed Tony within the past year and with the fact that Chris is in a new place of responsibility, a position where he is, for the first time, truly the custodian and trustee for another life. In a perfectly-timed illustration of just how ill-equipped Chris is to live up to those responsibilities, he nervously and repeatedly fiddles with the car stereo, fidgets, and widens his eyes, telegraphing to Tony that he is high as a kite on drugs. “Comfortably Numb” swells on the sound system as Tony stares at him, the lyrics underscoring that, in that moment, he does not see Chris as a youngster, as the “adorable kid” he once road around in the basket of his bicycle, but as a grown man: When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpseOut of the corner of my eyeI turned to look but it was goneI cannot put my finger on it nowThe child is grown, the dream is gone Chris swerves, and the crash happens seconds later.
Tony as the Child in the Carseat
It’s critical to note that Tony initially manifests every intention of helping Chris, even as he’s fighting his own injuries. “I’m comin’,” he says as Chris asks for help. His expression and demeanor only change when he realizes what Chris means by “help”. “I’ll never pass a drug test,” Chris moans. “What?” Tony asks incredulously as Chris is inhaling his own blood. Almost simultaneously, Tony turns towards the back and sees that a tree limb has penetrated the passenger compartment, lodging in Kaitlyn’s car seat like a spear. While Tony would somewhat exaggerate the size of the branch in later narrations of the event, there’s no question that it was large enough to have impaled or seriously injured an infant. Even after this warning shot over the bow, Tony apparently intends to help Chris, coming over to the driver’s side and breaking the window when he couldn’t get the door open. He draws his cell phone to call for help but stops when Chris again mentions being doped up, which suggests that Chris is more concerned about the legal consequences of his intoxication than about the fact that he is drowning in his own blood, completely belying his claim to a life newly ordered around the lofty priority of fatherhood. That’s the moment when Tony forms a genuine murderous intent, an intent that has little to do with Christopher’s animosity towards him or the danger that he might flip. Those are conscious, background motives that help Tony rationalize and make sense of his actions later. But the factor impelling him to end Christopher’s life is his own, fundamental identification with the child who might just as easily have been killed or seriously harmed in that carseat. To objectify this point, there is a slow pan of the limb sticking through the seat as Tony performs the suffocation, clearly not a shot representing Tony’s vision or gaze at that moment but objectively corroborating the earlier angle when Tony glances back and we see the seat from his point of view. The juxtaposition of these shots – subjective and objective – tells me the carseat is not just a convenient excuse for Tony. This is what he’s really feeling. In this moment, he is the phantom child in that carseat, a child whose safety and well-being come second to his father’s corrupt values and reckless self-indulgence, a child whose soul and humanity are metaphorically impaled by riding in and being taught to drive his father’s black Cadillac. The exclamation point on the symbolism is provided by Christopher’s hat. Incredibly, it remains on his head throughout the crash and suffocation, its bloody cleaver logo pointing towards Tony when the car comes to rest. As Tony acts consciously on behalf of an innocent child, the symbol of his own lost childhood innocence is directly before him. And, for good measure, the cap and logo stare back at him in the hospital from the gurney laden with Christopher’s bloody clothing and the black bag containing his dead body. (The logo antagonizes Tony a final time from his coffee mug the next morning before he angrily tosses the mug into his backyard woods.) Several points about the suffocation itself are remarkable. First was the look of absolute depravity on Tony’s face as he watched Christopher struggle to breathe. This look was unlike any ever seen on Tony’s face at any other moment in the series. Even when committing other personal and deadly acts of violence, his face and demeanor had always betrayed a commensurate level of animus, an active, passionate intent. In contrast, he reached through the window and pinched Christopher’s nose – and maintained that hold – with remarkable calm. His face and eyes throughout the suffocation were paradoxically both incredibly intense and completely devoid of human emotion, a look far more disturbing than any look of mere rage he’d ever worn before. Second, although this act was, in my judgment, clearly about the release of Tony’s pent up rage towards his father figures, the method of killing evokes Livia. Besides her conspiracy with Junior to kill Tony (which she rationalized was for his own good) and general obsession with stories of child deaths, she had once threatened to “smother [her children] with a pillow” to save them from a fate she deemed even worse. Tony grabbed a pillow intending to smother her in the season one finale before nursing home personnel intervened. In Members Only, Tony spoke of being smothered with a pillow as a suitable form of euthanasia. Its functional equivalent at the scene of the crash had a definite vibe of putting Chris out of his own – and everyone’s – misery. So, in killing his “father”, Tony was also paradoxically suffocating his “son”, thereby channeling Livia’s filicidal urges and concept of mercy killing. The most spine-tingling resonance with the scene comes from two season four episodes where Tony’s deep identification with “innocents” – be they children or animals – once again comes to the fore, as does his appreciation for the consequences of Chris continuing to use drugs. In Whoever Did This, Tony warns Christopher that he “can’t be high on heroine and raise kids.” And in The Strong, Silent Type, after learning that a doped-up Chris accidentally smothered and suffocated Adriana’s dog, Tony ominously snaps, “You suffocated little Cossette? I oughta suffocate you, you prick!” It’s such perfect foreshadowing that the earlier episodes seem to have been written with the outcome of Kennedy and Heidi in mind.
Righteous Retribution as the Explanation for Tony’s Lack of Sorrow
As previously noted, the most troubling aspect of the episode from the standpoint of character consistency and plausibility was not the fact that Tony murdered Chris. It was his vacuous expression during the killing and the fact that he never betrayed a moment’s genuine sorrow or regret afterwards. He remained, in fact, defiantly happy and unconflicted about it, especially to Melfi, and was sincerely troubled that neither she nor anyone else could see how Christopher’s death rescued Kaitlyn from a lifetime of risks and harm that she would naturally suffer as the daughter of a drug addict (and mob captain). In his therapy scenes with Melfi, real and dream, Tony even makes the very contrast I raise, noting that he’s never felt this way after murdering any other person close to him. He alludes to his sorrow over Pussy and specifically allows that murdering Tony B left him “prostate [sic] with grief.” In effect, Tony himself is revealing that this killing feels righteous and justified to him on an instinctive level and is therefore not one about which he can feel guilt or sorrow. That sentiment makes no sense if his dominant motives were those he talked about in therapy: Christopher’s animosity and resentment towards him after the Adriana hit and his drug-use and consequent risk to flip. Whatever weight those factors carry in justifying murder in the corrupt “ethics” of the mob (which, in any case, is less than the weight of the transgressions by Pussy and Tony B), they carry absolutely no legitimate moral weight outside it and could not sustain in Tony the sense of just triumph that he felt in response to Christopher’s death. What could inspire that sense of triumph is the perceived liberation of a child from a dangerous and toxic father, experienced subconsciously as vicarious retribution for the abuse and harm he himself suffered at the hands of his own father and uncle.
Significance of the Names “Kennedy” and “Heidi”
“Kennedy” and “Heidi” are the names of the young passenger and driver, respectively, in the car that sideswipes Christopher’s SUV before the fateful crash. The girls are barely onscreen a few seconds, just long enough to (somewhat artificially) learn their names in the following exchange: Kennedy: Maybe we should go back, Heidi! Heidi: Kennedy, I’m on my learner’s permit after dark! Much forum debate after the first airing of the episode centered around the significance, if any, of these names. I propose a related but even more basic question: why are the girls present in the scene at all? Tony’s windfall opportunity to murder Chris and pass it off as death from accidental injury was entirely dependent upon being unobserved by others after the crash. Given Christopher’s intoxicated state and inattention to the curvy road while he fiddled with radio controls, a mere swerve and over-correction or swerve to avoid an animal (Tony’s crash with Adriana, anyone?) would have easily sufficed to trigger the accident but without the problematic involvement of another car, the driver of which would have to be made to flee the scene illegally and in contravention of the ethics and instincts of at least 95% of the motorists on the road. So the very fact that another car is involved, complicating both the story and the filming, suggests some symbolic or subtextual design to the involvement related specifically to the momentous event occurring right after the crash. One aspect of that design is revealed and amplified when a grieving Kelly shows up at Christopher’s wake with dark hair framing her face and large, dark sunglasses covering her eyes. A member of the crew remarks, “Look at her. Like a movie star.” An odd look immediately crosses Tony’s face as he spontaneously responds, “Jackie Kennedy”, noting Kelly’s resemblance to the widow of John F. Kennedy. In my mind, this striking moment in the episode can have only one purpose, and that’s to evoke Johnny Boy in relation to Christopher via a kind of symbolic math. If Kelly = Jackie Kennedy, then Chris = JFK = Johnny Boy since JFK was the explicit parallel figure for Johnny in In Camelot, the first episode of the series depicting cracks in the foundation of Tony’s paternal hero worship. When that foundation completely crumbles inside Tony’s subconscious a season and a half later, it’s entirely fitting that the JFK/Johnny parallel is renewed. As for the name “Heidi”, most folks around these parts felt it was meant to evoke the idea of “orphan” because of the famous Swiss orphan tale of the same name and because Kaitlyn (and Paulie) both lost parents in the episode. That’s an entirely plausible analysis that requires no expansion, although I’m inclined to think there’s more to it than that, starting with the analogy of Tony himself to “Heidi”. No, Tony was never technically orphaned, though he arguably suffered more as the son of Johnny and Livia than if he had been. He was certainly deprived of real parental love and guidance, on both sides, and that roughly equates to the definition of “orphan”. Before discussing this episode for the first time, I never knew that Heidi was the story of an orphan, only that it was some kind of tale for children. And I knew that only because of the epic 1968 football game between Joe Namath’s Jets and the Oakland Raiders, the climactic ending of which (an improbable comeback by the Raiders) was cut off abruptly for television viewers at the end of its scheduled broadcast slot so that a movie version of Heidi could begin airing on time. I was only four at the time of this debacle but recall my parents talking about it – and the considerable chaos it caused at NBC and at telephone switchboards around the country – for years afterwards. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidi_Game It wouldn’t become clear until the end of Made In America, but there’s an obvious parallel to the Heidi phenomenon in the wind-up of The Sopranos. Consider that, like the Heidi Game broadcast, Made in America featured an abrupt, unexpected termination of excruciatingly tense action at a penultimate moment, pre-empting audience experience of what appeared to be an imminent and momentous climax. The Sopranos ending may not have disabled an entire telephone network, but it certainly generated an enormous amount of controversy that, for better or worse, persists to this day. Beyond that, there were enough other football references in the final Sopranos episodes, and especially Jets references, to warrant further consideration of this football connotation for “Heidi”. In Remember When, Tony’s betting losses on Jets football games prompt his call to Hesh for a bridge loan. Later that same episode, Paulie annoys Tony and company with yet another old tale, this one relating how, after witnessing Joe Namath stagger drunk into a bar the night before a game, he bet a load of cash the following day on the Jets’ opponent. In Chasing It, Tony gets inside information on a Jets football game and is irate when Carmela refuses to bet money on it. The episode features a closeup of a large newspaper headline, “Jets Bomb Chargers”. In Blue Comet, then-current coach of the Jets, Eric Mangini, makes a cameo appearance in Vesuvio, with Artie informing a suitably-impressed Tony so the two can go over and shake hands. News articles at the time clarified that the cameo wasn’t Mangini’s idea but the idea of Sopranos producers, who contacted him months in advance and made accommodations in the shooting schedule around his availability. So this seemed more than a casual desire to have some generic celebrity show up. That especially seems true considering Mangini was given no dialog and that his meeting with Tony and Artie was only depicted in the silent background of a conversation between Charmaine and Carmela. Mangini’s only purpose on set was apparently to show his face briefly and to have the fact of his identity (Tony has to tell a bewildered Carm that Mangini is the head coach of the Jets) permeate the minds of the audience and the subtext of the scene, which is ultimately about chickens coming home to roost on Tony and Carmela because of the lives they chose. As alter egos for Tony and Carmela throughout the series, folks who took the proverbial “other path” in life, Artie and (especially) Charmaine engage in subtle gloating in the scene. Football coaching was firmly established as Tony’s “road not taken” in Test Dream, so having an actual football coach present in the episode where the unsavory and downright deadly consequences of his chosen vocation are crashing in all around him provides dramatic ballast. All the better to have the coach in the scene be the coach of the team involved in the Heidi game in view of the ending planned for the following episode. And speaking again of that ending, the wall behind Tony in Holsten’s is consumed with four large murals specifically brought in by the production crew for the shoot. The largest and most centered depicts a huge, light-colored building with lots of windows, somewhat reminiscent of the Inn at the Oaks in Tony’s coma dream. It’s apparently a high school, however, as it is flanked on either side by images of football players in full uniform with what appear to be names and year of graduation engraved at the bottom. To the side and extreme left is a mural of a tiger and the caption “Class of 1973” at the bottom. The tiger is presumably the mascot for the team and school represented in the other murals. So there is a strong symbolic presence of “football” in the last scene of the series, particularly of high school football from roughly the era when Tony would have entered high school. Finally, though it may be completely insignificant, when Tony tells Carm about the accident from his hospital stretcher in Kennedy and Heidi, he mentions that he re-injured his knee, “the one from high school.” That certainly sounds like a reference to an old high school football injury. If these loose strands from multiple episodes are indeed intended to connote football in relation to the name “Heidi”, what does that actually mean in the context of the episode Kennedy and Heidi? What does football have to do with Tony killing Chris or, more precisely, with him killing his father in the guise of Chris? The linchpin in that symbolism, it seems to me, is Tony’s old high school football coach, the guy who would have been his coach when he originally injured his knee, the guy Tony dreamt repeatedly of trying to silence or kill, the guy whose puzzling duality in Test Dream suddenly makes sense when he’s viewed as a classic, Freudian composite of opposites, specifically a composite of Tony’s opposing father figures with Johnny dressed in the physiognomy of Coach Molinaro by Tony’s subconscious in order to render acceptable imagery of his latent, patricidal feelings. If you further allow, as I do, that the Johnny look-alike shooting at Tony with a scoped rifle (ala Oswald/”Kennedy”) in that same dream is yet another Freudian “reversal into the opposite” by Tony’s subconscious to disguise his repressed paternal rage, then the Kennedy/Heidi connection is pretty clear. The names are presented proximate to the crash to connote that, in killing Chris, Tony has finally acted out the Test Dream imagery that haunted him for years: he has (symbolically) killed his father, the “Kennedy” and “Heidi” of his dream.
In my judgment, this explains Tony’s otherwise puzzling, peyote-induced insight when he proclaims, “He’s dead,” after winning at roulette on 3 successive spins, prompting him to fall to the floor in spectacular and uncontrollable laughter. What other, real death could have inspired such a euphoric and epiphanic reaction? What real death could Tony only have appreciated while in a drug-induced, altered state of consciousness? Many felt the line referred to Christopher because he’d just died, obviously, and because Tony’s gambling luck suddenly changed afterward. That analysis never made sense to me. First, Tony plays roulette at the casino while sober when he first arrives in Vegas and loses every round. Chris was already dead at that time, as Tony well knew and accepted. Indeed, Tony was never in any state of denial about Christopher’s death (or about having killed him.) He embraced it, both consciously and in his dream therapy session with Melfi after the crash. The “he’s dead” insight occurs only after Tony takes peyote and notices a sudden and complete about-face in gambling luck. Why would he need psychedelic drugs to suddenly realize what he already knew and accepted about Chris? And why would Christopher’s death be tied in his mind to his own gambling luck anyway? No prior connection between those two things had ever been suggested. On the other hand, Tony’s sudden escalation in gambling, which coincided with the agitation and intensification of his latent rage towards his father(s), could easily be seen as a subconscious rebellion against the stern, anti-gambling lecture Johnny imparted the night Tony witnessed the cleaver incident. To the extent that the rebellion results in huge financial losses and self destruction, it obviously fails. His father retains ultimate power and authority. To the extent the rebellion results in huge winnings, it succeeds, and Tony vanquishes his father. That conquest was the ineffable and elusive “high” that Tony was subconsciously pursuing in Chasing It but which he could not articulate to Melfi. Thus the sudden change in gambling fortune on his Vegas trip is easily tied in Tony’s drug-altered psyche to a euphoric realization that he has conquered or symbolically killed his father, none of which Tony could appreciate without a vastly altered state of consciousness. And that leads to why he went to Vegas in the first place. He asks that question out loud to the Vegas prostitute, Sonia, immediately before admitting that Christopher once mentioned taking peyote with her. Tony then confesses to having always wanted to try the drug. Clearly, then, he didn’t just happen to pick Vegas and didn’t just happen to make contact with this girl. His subconscious was pushing him to that venue because he craved the enlightenment of a peyote experience. So while Tony’s real motives for the murder, and for his otherwise inexplicable jubilance afterward, were completely closed off to his conscious mind, somehow he sensed their existence and yearned to unlock and understand them. However his peyote revelations didn’t stop with simply understanding why he killed Chris.
“I Get It. I Get It!”
Tony’s desert epiphany is a bookend to his near-death coma experience and, I believe, can only be fully understood in relation to it. Yet exploring that relationship is a journey all unto itself, calling not only for consideration of the coma episodes and Kennedy and Heidi but the meaning of the cut to black that ends the series. While exploring the religious and spiritual underpinnings of those episodes is of even more weight and interest to me personally than the issue of Tony’s motives in killing Christopher, it deserves and demands its own, dedicated discussion. For now, I’d simply like to posit what I strongly believe Tony’s epiphany to have been with only minimal argumentation as to why I hold that belief. The epiphany is presaged when Tony enters the casino on his peyote trip and notes that the roulette wheel is built on the same principle as the solar system. The ball spins round and round the center or “sun” of the wheel because of two delicately-balanced but largely opposing phenomena: the momentum of the ball (which, without the wheel, would carry the ball away in a straight line) and the centripetal force of the wheel (applied by the rim, which continuously pulls the ball towards the center even as the ball’s momentum continuously pulls it on a path perpendicular to the centripetal force.) The antagonism (or cooperation, if you prefer) of the forces gives rise to a unified system: an orbit. If this sounds a bit like the Bell Labs scientist’s explanation of how two tornadoes are in fact just facets of one, unified system of wind, it’s likely no mere coincidence. As Hal Holbrook’s character argued, separateness is a mirage. The universe, and everything in it, is one big soup of molecules interacting in cause/effect fashion according to laws, making it one whole, not a bunch of discrete parts. “Everything is everything,” as the black rapper reduced it. That was the philosophy that really made an impression on Tony in the days and weeks following his coma. The principles of quantum physics articulated by Holbrook’s character are likely as close as you can get to a scientific codification of Bhuddism and therefore reinforced much of what the Bhuddist monks conveyed to Tony in his coma. The monks laughed when Tony claimed he wasn’t Finnerty and explained that there really is no “you” and “me, that death would bring an obliteration of individuality. Separate consciousness – and the consciousness of separateness – is an illusion of the living. So all this laid the philosophical groundwork for Tony’s Las Vegas trip. In that trip, Tony seeks out a girl with whom Chris had slept, then sleeps with her himself. He mentions having refrained from a longstanding desire to try peyote because he always felt the weight of his responsibilities, an implied contrast to Christopher, who always indulged in drugs despite his responsibilities. The idea that Tony was seeking to almost live life in Christopher’s skin in the Las Vegas portion of the episode was something several posters mentioned in first discussions after Kennedy and Heidi aired. Even the girl, Sonia, remarks how similar Tony and Chris are, a somewhat dubious observation that somehow offends Tony but which also helps define his impending epiphany. That epiphany is spurred when the rising sun flares at him over the desert mountain vista. This recalls Tony’s earlier comparison of the roulette wheel to the solar system. It also resonates completely with the fact that Kevin Finnerty was a solar heating salesman from Kingman, Arizona, a town which, not coincidentally, lies 95 miles southeast of Las Vegas and shares the same desert landscape. Also not coincidental, IMO, is the fact that in the prior episode, Christopher spoke of the perks of joining witness protection and of “living large” in Arizona. So I believe that, in that desert sunrise on the cusp of Arizona, in fulfillment of his identity as Kevin Finnerty, solar heating salesman, Tony saw his “son” – Christopher – “rise” and realized that, in murdering him days before, he (Tony) was really “rising” as a “son” against Johnny Boy. And in that linkage, he suddenly realized that “everything is [indeed] everything.” He is both Chris and Johnny Boy, both abused and misguided son and abusing, misguiding father. He is murdering uncle and would-be murdered nephew. He is both the mother that sees suffocation as mercy killing and the son who is suffocated. Christopher is both his son and his father. Johnny Boy is Coach Molinaro. “Kennedy” is “Heidi”. Opposites are really two sides of the same coin. In that fleeting moment of insight, Tony was truly feeling “one” with the universe.
The Second Coming
The episode following Kennedy and Heidi is titled The Second Coming after the Yeats poem that grips AJ in the English lit class he’s auditing. While the poem speaks to the bleakness of his depression and outlook on life at that particular time, there’s little doubt that – like everything of substantial weight in the Sopranos universe – it ultimately relates, first and foremost, to Tony. First referenced in the Cold Cuts therapy session dealing with pent-up rage where Tony’s deep shame from the cleaver incident is finally revealed, the poem seems the veritable inspiration for the storyline (as interpreted in this article) that culminates in Christopher’s murder: The Second ComingBy William Butler Yeats Turning and turning in the widening gyreThe falcon cannot hear the falconer;Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhereThe ceremony of innocence is drowned;The best lack all conviction, while the worstAre full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand;Surely the Second Coming is at hand.The Second Coming! Hardly are those words outWhen a vast image out of Spiritus MundiTroubles my sight; somewhere in sands of the desertA shape with lion body and the head of a man,A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,Is moving its slow thighs, while all about itReel shadows of indignant desert birds.The darkness drops again; but now I knowThat twenty centuries of stony sleepWere vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? The widening gyre, the orbit that breaks down when the center can no longer hold, is clearly a parallel to the decompensation of which Melfi warned, the point at which Tony’s defenses after Junior’s second murder attempt could no longer hold and the underlying pathological rage at his fathers would take over. True to the poem, a “blood-dimmed tide was loosed”, inspired by a perverse compassion for the “innocent”. While “the best” all mourned Christopher and thought his death a tragedy, Tony, “the worst”, was full of passionate intensity and could not understand why no one else saw the greater good in Christopher’s death. The “revelation” occurs in a “waste of desert sand”, imagery easily compatible with Tony’s “I get it” moment in the Nevada/Arizona desert. The uniquely depraved look on his face as he suffocated Christopher is evoked by the line describing a “gaze as blank and pitiless as the sun”. “Twenty years of stony sleep” refers to the decades of denial Tony maintained, the defense mechanisms that kept him all his life from confronting and admitting that, in some very real ways, he hated his father. It’s a figurative sleep that was suggested literally in the noted fact that so many episodes in season 6B started with Tony in a deep sleep. Somnolence was suggested even in the choice of the song “Comfortably Numb” as soundtrack in the moments immediately preceding the crash, the moments right before the hour of the “rough beast” finally arrived. Even the incidentals are perfect allusions, as with the image of “stony sleep” being turned into a nightmare by a “rocking cradle”, or, in this case, by a car seat with a branch sticking through it. I’m intrigued by the line describing the emerging beast as having “lion body”. It may mean absolutely nothing. But among the story points worth considering in relation to it are the tiger on the wall in Holsten’s and the enigmatic cat in Made In America. More obscure is the fact that in Remember When, the single episode most explicitly dealing with the violent release of stifled paternal rage, Carter Chong described his grandfather as a “lion” and noted that his father owned “Grumman” stock. (Grumman manufactured a number of high-profile fighter military aircraft, most of them named for some kind of cat, e.g., Panther, Jaguar, Tomcat, Tigercat.) Carter was reviewing these facts to himself in the scene immediately preceding his vicious attack on Junior, suggesting that, in acting out on his stifled paternal hatred, he was adopting the predatory, aggressive characteristics of a wild cat. Notably, when Junior, the paternal surrogate who modeled this kind of aggressive behavior to Carter, was seen at the end of that episode bruised and literally defanged, his sunken mouth void of false teeth, he was stroking a harmless little housecat on his lap. Once a lion, the former mob boss was a lion no more.
Asbestos Dumping as a Metaphor for Tony’s Toxic Spill of Rage
Kennedy and Heidi opens with a controversy between Tony and Phil Leotardo over asbestos disposal. One of Tony’s contractors was removing asbestos from old buildings, while following none of the strict (and expensive) asbestos-handling laws regulating worker and public safety, and was seeking to dump completely uncontained truck-fulls at waste stations controlled by Phil. Phil’s guys were denying the trucks the right to dump. As a consequence, huge, openly-smoking asbestos mounds were building up at job sites. After Christopher’s death, Tony was doing little to find a solution, skipping town to gamble, get laid, and get high and leaving the contractor high and dry. Finally, near the very end of the episode, the contractor dumps heaps of asbestos at dawn in an open marsh area resembling the New Jersey Meadowlands. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that gained widespread use in the 19th and 20th centuries as an ingredient in various building industry materials – including wall compounds, insulation, and roofing materials – primarily because of its extreme insulative properties and resistance to heat and fire. In the last 40 years, it’s become better-known for its cancer-causing and toxic effects on those mining and working with it in manufacturing, demolition/remodeling, or other “raw” environments. Both the heat resistance and toxicity of asbestos make the shoddy removal/dumping storyline a compelling metaphor for Tony’s equally shoddy “dumping” in Kennedy and Heidi. The smoldering heat and flames from his hatred towards his father and uncle were contained beneath his consciousness by an insulating firewall of denial and repression. In essence, this denial and repression was Tony’s psychological asbestos, and it (more or less) contained the heat and fire within him for 47 years. But it finally broke down, allowing the flames to rage and do damage and necessitating a messy disposal. Unfortunately the breakdown didn’t happen where it should have, in his therapist’s office as the result of honest introspection and dialog about little things like his uncle trying to kill him twice and his father indoctrinating him to murder at 22. That would have been the equivalent of careful, legally-compliant asbestos removal. Instead the breakdown occurred in a roadside ravine and the resulting “waste [in the] desert sand” was every bit as toxic as the smoking piles illegally dumped in the Meadowlands immediately before the desert epiphany and which we saw reprised in the very first shot of the following episode. Think about that for a moment. Tony’s “I get it” moment was literally sandwiched between shots of noxious mounds of asbestos blowing in the New Jersey wind, a significant clue that some other kind of perversely cathartic disposal was in the middle of that sandwich.
The Orbit of the ‘Blue Comet’: Long Journey to Nowhere
It’s fair to ask: if the broad strokes of my interpretation are valid, what impact did the epiphany have on Tony going forward? After the drugs wore off, did he actually retain any specific understanding of his subconscious motives for killing Chris? Was he left only with the impression that he had enjoyed a very brief moment of enlightenment but without intellectual distillation of the enlightenment itself? Because the insight was founded upon the secret that he had murdered Chris, even if Tony had retained it, he couldn’t overtly share it with anyone. Still, I lean toward the interpretation that the specifics (at least the ones I proffered) were lost to him when the altered state of consciousness ceased. When he tried to describe the magic of what he experienced in the desert to his crew, he could only come up with the most mundane, inadequate words: “The sun . . . came up.” They all looked at him like he was half retarded. He was slightly more specific with Melfi, offering that he saw “for pretty certain” that this reality is not all there is. He couldn’t define the alternative but was still convinced there was “something else”. He did speak in therapy of appreciating a balance and unity in opposites that he hadn’t appreciated before, a “ying” [sic] and “yang”. And he offered that “mothers are like buses . . . the vehicle that gets us here,” but that, once here, we are all on our own, individual journeys (mothers included.) So, to the extent his epiphany comported with what he revealed in therapy, it seems to have had little to do with fathers and with Christopher’s murder and more to do with letting go (finally) of some of his issues with his mother. But perhaps the best clue to his residual state of understanding came when he indicated that some of what he thought he had grasped in the desert now eluded him. “You think you know, you think you learn something . . . like when I got shot,” he begins. Then, speaking specifically about the peyote experience, he reports that the insight gained is “kinda hard to describe. . . . You know, you have these thoughts, and you almost grab it . . . and then . . . ftt.” He flicks his fingers away from his chin as if to indicate “nothing”. So, to paraphrase Edna St. Vincent Millay, a fragment of what he knew remains, but, apparently, the best is lost. It wouldn’t take long for all of it to be lost. By the time Tony sits with AJ’s female therapist in Made In America, “going about in pity” for himself because of who his mother was, he has come full circle, essentially back to where he was to start the series. Like a “blue comet”, his orbit was highly elliptical, if not erratic, and carried with it the potential of veering off into deep space or crashing into the sun. But despite killing his own nephew, having a near-death experience himself, and saving his son from an act of suicide, the orbit held. The sober breakthrough never came. The repudiation of his father and of his way of life never took hold in his consciousness. And so, by series’ end, we, like Tony, were exhausted from a long journey that ultimately took us nowhere. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5
During the same press conference, Trump says "My administration currently has zero unfilled requests for… equipment or anything else that they need from the governors. No governor needs anything right now and we think we’ll have it that way until the end because frankly we are stocked up and ready to go.". Of course, this is a lie.
Wealth Formula Episode 224: Multifamily Macroeconomics in the Twilight Zone
Catch the full episode: https://www.wealthformula.com/podcast/224-multifamily-macroeconomics-in-the-twilight-zone/ Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast, he's been on the show before. He's economist Ryan Davis. He actually joined us at one of our last Wealth Formula meetups. Of course, the last one we had was canceled but Ryan was at the one before that. He serves as a chief operating officer at Witten Advisors and provides fact-based research analysis and discussion to help clients like us formulate their apartment strategies and these insights and for investment decisions for multi-family development and buy/sell opportunities which as you can imagine we're all looking for some of this advice these days. Ryan has a PhD in economics from the University of Texas. Ryan, welcome back to Wealth Formula Podcast. Ryan: Thank you. Glad to be back. Buck: Yeah it's been like a pandemic ago when we last talked right? Listen, you know I want to kind of jump into the whole you know what the heck is going on, I mean the overall, if you would, you know kind of give me your overall assessment of the economy. I mean obviously we know these huge drops in GDP etc which were expected last quarter. How is this all affecting real estate asset prices especially you know apartments which is you know is our interest and something that you specialize in? Ryan: Sure so yeah the great unknown is the pace of the recovery. So we had that big drop through April in terms of employment and then we got a bounce back in May and June and the hope was that it was going to be a V-shaped recovery. But then we saw virus cases ramp back up in the second half of June into the early part of July and the local economy started rolling back some of their openings and so with that, we've kind of stalled out recently. So we'll get the July numbers this Friday for overall payroll gains and that could I think the consensus is anywhere between one, one and a half million jobs it could be negative so who knows but it looks like the hope for a v-shaped recovery in the economy has kind of stalled out after the first two months of optimism. And so we think that going forward we won't see any the worst is behind us really and so we won't see you know the big losses that we experienced in March and early into April so kind of what we're calling for right now is for the national economy to continue to add jobs for the remainder of the year and then beginning next year a recovery should emerge and that would sustain demand for housing and ultimately apartments going forward. In the near term as far as multi-family goes we expect some pain through the end of this year and then into the early part of next year. In terms of pricing power, if we had to boil it down to one number it's rent growth so year over year effective rent growth we think that declines to eight percent rent cuts this year and into the early part of 2021. That varies considerably on a local market basis I think our worst-performing market is Metro New York City probably no surprise there but then also many of the other gateway markets such as Boston, LA, the Bay Area, etc. We expect rent declines to be lower than that eight percent across the board, however many of the inner west, Texas, southeastern market should outperform still see rent declines but not closer to five/six percent range at the depth and so we expect near-term pain but then as we get out into 2021 and afterward and the economy begins to add a lot of jobs we would expect rent growth to return to multi-family. And then what that means for pricing in terms of apartment assets for right now in the second quarter hardly any deals trade at hand so it's really tough to get a sense of where pricing is and with the deals that have traded though the cap rates have remained relatively stable which is a good sign. We've heard from some of our merchant builder clients where they had assets they had constructed and were going out to the market to sell in the early part of April they were saying 10 discounts in terms of the compared to pre corona levels but that has since come back in the last 45-60 days and maybe it's only one to two percent in terms of the haircut that they're seeing out there right now. And there's a just a ton of capital that wants to get back into multifamily at the same time there's hardly any distress out there right now so there's a lack of available to you know supply to buy and so everyone is just kind of in this standstill there's a big ass gap because buyers aren't willing to pay yesterday's prices for assets but sellers aren't willing to give any you know deep discounts right now and so it's kind of a standstill and we’ll see how all this plays out. Buck: Yeah you know it's really interesting we're obviously you know through, you work with Western Wealth Capital, one of my partners and you know it's funny because we were kind of thinking well maybe there'll be some real buying opportunities but you know we've seen a little bit maybe just you know from buyers who are sellers who just are just wanting to get out while they're ahead maybe they made some money you know maybe they and at this point you know they're just thinking let's just cash out and maybe they're willing to take a little bit less but for the most part you know if you look across our own portfolio and it might be because it's largely again Texas and Arizona, etc that and maybe it's because it's mostly working-class B and you know high C class apartment but our portfolio you know the numbers are just as good as they've ever been in terms of you know occupancy in terms of even our we're still raising rents. And so when you look at that you're like well I mean how do you expect there to be any you know smoking deals out there if the sellers really aren't feeling any distress. So is there a difference you know when you look at something like a B and C class apartment scenario versus A right now or have you been able to break that down a little bit because I think the people I know who are in the A-class and new build are you know they're certainly feeling things a little bit more than we are. Ryan: Yeah so what we've heard from some of our clients in terms of early on so may June in terms of rent collections class A's were actually from a nationwide perspective actually exceeded the class B and C product. Now we don't think that will continue going forward and the main reason is that new deliveries that are coming online they will compete with the existing top of the market product and so we think that it will be short-lived in terms of the top of the market outperformance and another part is due to just the nature of this downturn where low-wage sectors were hit extremely hard in April, got some bounce back in May and June but the leisure and hospitality sectors lower-paying positions those have been the most impacted so far. But going forward we don't think that this downturn would be any different than prior recessions in terms of the class A leading the way down in terms of jobs and occupancy and also rent growth or rent cuts in the near term. So class A’s will lead the market down but then as we get out into the later part of next year and into early 2022 then class A's would outperform the broader market. So yeah we think through the end of this year until early next that B's and C's will hold up relatively better but that's mainly a function of just the competition that it takes to get these new projects they will get leased up it's just a matter of the market-clearing price and so those have to compete those could be mostly with the top end of the spectrum and so we see big rent declines and concessions in the class A space going forward. Buck: You know there's this thesis that's going around in the multi-family space and you know I've been sort of you know looking at it this way too for a while though I'm starting to you know feel like it's maybe not gonna happen is this idea that there's going to be a potentially before we really rebound and start heading up again that there’ll potentially be a you know big tsunami of defaults and things like that. Right now at least what I'm you know seeing and hearing about in terms of the lending markets and in terms of these properties, there really isn't much indication of that right now is there I mean what do you think? Ryan: No at least not in the short term I mean again there's it goes back to my earlier comment there's been no distress really and so that is due mainly to the huge stimulus packages that have been passed those from a fiscal standpoint and a monetary standpoint which is it's crazy to think that GDP declined at an annualized rate by 32 however incomes soared and so that's all due to the stimulus that we saw and so that's helped prop up renters incomes and allow them to pay rent. Now going forward I think some of these the number of defaults I don't think there will be a tsunami, at least that's how we view it right now, ask me again in a week and it could change, but I think that the defaults will be very market specific and so those geographies that have been hit harder we'll see a larger number but many of the Texas markets, Phoenix, Denver, southeast high growth markets where you've got this short-term tailwind in terms of folks at the margin more and the trends that have been in place for years of folks moving from gateway markets into these inner markets will be kind of you know given a stairway shot really in the near term and so that would help to prop up multi-family fundamentals and so yeah if you're expecting a tsunami of defaults in any of those markets that I've mentioned again it kind of gets a little bit granular in terms of you know potentially Orlando might have some problems just with the amount of supply and then the you know low-wage in tourism industries being impacted more dramatically and that would lead to some weakness in Orlando but out outside of that maybe Houston you could argue you know somewhat but outside of those two and those those areas of the inner west Texas, southeast Florida should be but hold up you know relatively well and I would think that the main stress points will be out you know on the coast in California potentially portland we do think seattle holds up relatively well and then northeast in terms of you know New York and Boston as well so I think it's very locally market driven. Buck: Yeah it's interesting you know we did we were a little worried about Houston too but our you know Houston portfolio is actually doing awesome it's not having any problems at all which is which was you know again, knock on wood that’s what it's been so far. Let me ask you another question you mentioned the pent-up demand of you know money on the sidelines waiting to get back in and you know and in many situations, they have to get back in right they're mandated to deploy capital and that sort of thing do you the one thought that I've had through this is you know multi-family and well multi-family in general has held up so well during this period of time does that potentially create a situation where you know the big money that's coming in starts looking at this even harder as potentially a little bit of a hedge or a little bit of safe haven. What what do you guys think is going to be the effect of that you know the relatively stable performance and then ultimately you know having all of this money on the sidelines,? Do you see paradoxical even further compression of cap rates over the next couple years? What's your thought on that? Ryan: Yeah and so kind of pre-corona our forecast was for cap rates to continue to decline and you know taking a step back it was mainly driven by global factors with the aging populations across the globe that have built wealth up and all that investment needed to be placed somewhere. And so those trends were driving returns lower for longer and so those are the demographic that have not been affected by the pandemic. And so just from a global standpoint, we're expecting returns across all assets whether stocks bonds you know all classes of real estate whether it's multi or industrial retail office, etc those returns would continue to head lower. Now we've had the pandemic and we've seen multi-family and industrial hold up exceedingly well and who knows what to make of retail office and lodging just lots of pain and in those sectors and so if you need to be allocated to real estate then multifamily and industrial or where you want to be at least in the short term and especially if you're looking for consistency of returns and you know risk-adjusted on a risk-adjusted basis you know multi-industrial or have outperformed other asset classes and so really to get into the lodging office retail space probably more opportunistic mindset in terms of those assets may need to be repositioned etc and so I think a lot of that money that's out there is not looking to get there's a lot that's looking for that type of asset turnaround story but there's also a lot of money out there that needs the stability. And so that should continue to compress cap rates or put a really put a cap on that cap rates and so it would be no surprise if cap rates on an aggregate basis hold steady and maybe even decline despite a deterioration in short-term fundamentals and part of that is due to the long-term belief in apartments going forward and so yes there's a short-term dislocation where we expect some move-outs that you know this year actually there are a lot of move-outs that we expect and so there's going to be a lot of doubling up folks moving back in with their families but then there's going to be pent up demand as we as that recovery takes hold next year and that will be released and so we see leasing to be through the roof next year and then out into 2022. Then at the same time as that demand story improves in the short term we see starts decelerating dramatically so we've we're going from a 400,000 unit run rate to about 200,000 units by the early part of next year. And so new production is going to get cut in half now that we don't get any benefit of that immediately so we have to wait till later part of 2022 and 2023 before we see that slowdown and production really lift fundamentals and so I think everyone is seeing that yes there's some short-term disruption in the multi-family market right now, but the long-term drivers are there and if you have the capital to wait out this very painful period in the short term then there will be major benefits after that we should see after next year. Buck: Now one of the things you said I think earlier is that the worst is behind us do you believe that's the case in terms of rent growth and you know rent cuts and that sort of thing right now? Ryan: I think the worst is behind us in terms of the economy. I think that going forward we should continue to produce job gains on a monthly basis, though this next report could see some layoffs we'll see the consensus is one million one and a half. In terms of multi-family we do not think the worst is behind us we think that fundamentals will continue to deteriorate into the early part of next year we think that you know kind of right now in terms of year over year rent growth in the early part of this year let's call it three, three and a half percent we've since gone down to zero percent in the second quarter. So on a quarterly basis we've seen some dramatic rent cuts, again this is on a national basis and then as we move forward we see occupancy dropping by about three percentage points into the early part of next year, rent declines of about eight percent through the remainder of this year into the first quarter of next year and so no we do think that there will be some deterioration and fundamentals going forward. On the flip side of that might present some opportunities and so any assets that were purchased specially in your space in terms of if they were bought at the top of the market at the end of last year in the early part of this year and now that value-add story isn't there where you might not be able to get the rent bumps that you were expecting so some of those assets will have to be recapitalized and so that might present some opportunity as the year progresses but again like you said we haven't seen that materialized so far. Buck: Yeah that's the tricky part right I mean it's sort of like I think when you're on the buy side here you're saying well I mean these prices that we're seeing right now you know with prolonged you know low-interest rates which we can pretty much guarantee at this point for a period of time and then the pent-up demand. It's sort of like okay well I mean this actually might be one of the better times to buy if you consider what could potentially happen in the next you know 18 to 24 months in terms of you know explosive growth. When you look at those indicators that you're you know that you're talking about that may lead to some of the more explosive growth metrics what markets come to mind the most for you? Buck: Now one of the things you said I think earlier is that the worst is behind us do you believe that's the case in terms of rent growth and you know rent cuts and that sort of thing right now? Ryan: Yeah so our general geographic areas that we like we like the southeast, parts of Florida, Texas and the inner west. We really like Atlanta, we like South Florida though there's a little more pain in the short term some of our clients are saying it kind of in terms of you know rent collections you know northeast but also yeah LA but then South Florida is outperforming those two areas but still lagging some of these other markets. So we like the Texas markets long term the interwebs you have Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake as well. We like Seattle that's an outlier on the west coast but then the other markets whereas in the Bay Area we expect those you know rent growth numbers to average four, four and a half percent which stack up really well across the nation but for those markets that's a recession pretty much and so compared to what's normal and the cap rates you have to pay the rent growth numbers there kind of you know lackluster. So the midwest the markets they won't be hit as hard but still they don't get that explosive growth going forward and so we really like the inner West Texas, southeast of Florida markets and you know part of that has been driven being driven by the migration flows. So domestic migration numbers have really helped out all of these markets we've seen outflows from the northeast boston new york the bay area Southern California we've seen migration outflows from those markets into the you know inner west you know Las Vegas the inland Phoenix, Denver you know people moving from the coast into those markets and then you know also parts of texas as well but then in terms of the northeast the flows that are coming in to the Nashvilles the Charlottes, Raleighs, Atlanta, Florida markets we and then also Texas as well and so those trends have been accelerated at least in the short term, but it's important to remember that those have been going on for a decade at least even more and then other markets and so it's not anything new but at the margin that will support many of these other markets. Buck: Yeah on the west coast I mean there's that flight to Arizona as well right from California. One of the things that you know is worth talking about is what effect this has had you know the pandemic and the recession on the lending market, with Fannie and Freddie and you know how that might be playing into any of the growth or lack of growth. Ryan: Yeah I think on the financing side you know debt for stabilized assets it's there and it's cheap you may have to you know have higher reserves than you've had typically but for the most part it's there and so that's part of the appeal of buying assets right now with these record low interest rates. So I think for stabilized assets yeah it's there for new construction it is dried up considerably and this is a change in the last 30 to 60 days and so the fed does a survey each quarter of banks and their tightening of multi-family construction lending standards and that the latest report shows 70 percent of banks tighten their multi-family construction loans last quarter which we haven't seen those levels since 2008/2009. And so I think part of it's the lenders are trying to make sense of what they have in terms of all these other asset types in terms of real estate or retail, lodging, office loans, they're trying to you know spend a lot of time working those out and so then you add on the uncertainty in terms of the economic recovery etc, they've pretty much put a halt on new construction loans. And so that's been a big change here in the last two months call it. Then on the equity side I think returns have been increased but still available and interested but you know a lot of you know equity and especially focusing in on the new starts pipeline if all the deals that have been started are continuing and it's kind of a mixed bag from our clients in terms of are you seeing delays or actually some other clients that reported these they were able to speed up the timing in terms of getting able to get trucks into sites very easily and then also the construction workers that were on you know working on hotels motels those have come into the apartment sector and so that's provided more manpower in terms of getting these deals done. And so those that were under construction are continuing to proceed, those that were capitalized I think that but haven't begun those have been they haven't pulled out completely they just said let's press pause to see let's say can we get any break in construction costs over the next several months and so the equity and banks they're still willing to do it move forward on those deals that have been capitalized but are you know slow playing it. And then you get to the others where there's land sites and they hadn't been entitled and haven't been capitalized those deals we think have been shelved for right now and so it kind of where some opportunity could be is on the land side of you know potentially purchasing some land sites that might be teed up for development as we get further along in this recovery. Buck: Again one of the things that you're saying though in terms of construction loans not being there again it helps us for those of us who have apartment portfolios already that are already there that that again goes to the issue of a simple supply and demand issue which we can benefit from if there's not a whole lot of new builds. You know this is a major driving variable in in apartment buildings nationally can you give us a little bit of the idea of you know just not being able to keep up with you know population growth in various parts of the country, can you give us a little bit of you know sort of a thousand-foot view on the perspective on how big of an issue that actually is? Ryan: I don't know if it's that big of an issue you know on on the whole and I think that you know some of these higher growth markets in terms of where we've you know call it the Atlantas and North Carolina markets, Central North Florida, Texas, the inner west regions where we've seen large population growth statistics you know high growth markets but they're also they also tend to be the highest in terms of supply for housing and so it's more easy to build in those markets especially you know out as you get away from the know central cities etc and so where we've seen the the biggest barriers to supply are out on the coast and so we've seen you know job growth be pretty good in those markets but the supply hasn't kept up at all and so that's why you're seeing you know these big you know rent affordability you know problems in the coastal markets and so we think that supply not keeping up with the population dynamics is more of a coastal problem but then you know as you get into the markets that are more accepting of new development then you know we've seen housing supply increase at a rapid clip in many of these other markets I think you know Austin you know even through the June of this year permit activity for multi-family continued to set it reached big big levels and so I think year to date in Austin it's already pulled permits on almost 10,000 units already which is you know huge numbers. And so I do think that while these population growth numbers and some of these markets are you know off the charts especially compared to you know some of the coastal markets, that supply has been able to keep up there and so yeah you see pockets of where you know rent growth you know bumps up to you know five, six percent levels, it's especially that was the case in Phoenix and Las Vegas over the past two to three years where those markets were leading in terms of rent increases but they tend to you know be markets that you know will accept more new supply and so that will tend to even out over the long term. Buck: How's Vegas doing out of curiosity because that one was just crushing it. It seemed it seemed a little dangerous you know it seemed like one of those markets where it's like wow is it real or is it one of those things that's just gonna go back to Vegas. Ryan: Yeah exactly and yeah kind of thinking that you know before kind of goes back to your comment earlier about people moving from the coast to getting in their car and driving to the riverside and then Las Vegas and Phoenix and so it was benefiting from a real out-migration from expensive coastal California. That said that just the nature of this pandemic crushing leisure and hospitality and the conference circuit that the job losses in Las Vegas I think you know through April into May led the nation. We've seen some a bit of a bounce back there but really the question is you know how fast does the the conference you know a circuit come back, how fast are people willing to travel to casinos, I know they have already, but I think that pre-corona the growth was real and yeah absolutely now it's a little bit different you know market in terms of the cost and you don't want to go in there and if you're a developer you don't you know want to build a high-rise there and so your strategy is a little bit different but so far it's held up relatively well, all things considered, but still a lot of weakness that is materializing in Vegas. Buck: Interesting stuff. Well listen I don't want to keep you all day long, Ryan, but it's been great talking to you. Where can we learn more about your work? Ryan: Sure. Probably the easiest is wittenadvisors.com you can go there, all our contact information is there, feel free to reach out with a phone call or send me an email anytime and I'll be happy to give you more details on the services that we provide and how we add value to many clients that are in either owner, operators, developers, equity or lender clients. Buck: Fantastic thanks again and we'd love to have you again you know in a few months to reassess where we are at. Ryan: All right. Sounds good. Looking forward to it. Buck: We'll be right back
9 and 1/2 years later, one Courier finally reaches the end of his lonesome road.
Been a long time coming. In the small town in which I lived back in 2010, I was one of a just a handful who came to get our copies of Fallout: New Vegas from the local Gamestop during the midnight release. I had college midterms that week and my only chance to play it was that night, so I pulled an all-nighter, with only a pony keg of beer and a large quantity of Monster left over from my friend’s birthday party Jager-bombs for supplies. Felt like absolute garbage the next day, but it was worth it; I got more than six hours of sweet playtime in before going to school in a state of gut-churning delirium. That playthrough however would never be finished. I can’t remember exactly where I fell off the wagon, only that I did fire up the Xbox 360 long after I had given up on it to try to get the momentum going again, and failed. I know I must have been close to the max Vanillla level, and reasonably far along in the main quest (failing the other faction questlines and such) Had probably done at least 75% The next serious attempt came a few years later, when I was able to borrow a friends GOTY (or Ultimate, can’t remember what they called it), also for Xbox 360 and try it again, but with the higher level cap and DLC additions. This time, I was somewhat more methodical, remembering what I’d done and how I wanted to do it right, and then going so far as to venture into Zion, completing Honest Hearts, and then entering Lonesome Road next. Though I was in my mid-twenties levelwise, I found LR to be challenging and a little confusing. I didn’t actually realize I could leave it at any time and come back, and I lost interest again. That’s where the second attempt failed. A friend of mine stayed with me when he was between places, and he used my old copy to do an all-Legion vanilla playthrough. I saw most of this, and it triggered my interest again. Even so, it would be years later until I finally felt the lure of New Vegas tugging at my soul again, and found a nice discount on Steam. So I downloaded the game, and started for the 3rd time. This time I vowed to do something different; rather than the traditional “stealth sniper” model of combat, I would go all-out melee. I min-maxed hard, as I usually do, planning around my eventual stats with my ideal gear loadout and the fact that I would eventually have all skills maxed. Had to take a 1 in Charisma, but it really had no noticeable effect on the game, especially since I pushed Speech high fairly early. Ended up with 10’s in Strength and Luck, a 2 in Charisma, and 9’s in every other SPECIAL stat. I looked up quite a few things beforehand, aiming for ideal outcomes. This is what led me to misinterpret a key detail regarding the NCLegion infamy resetting during the main quest, and so rather than avoiding confronting Benny during the conclusion of “Ring-a-ding-ding!”, I actually did not enter the Strip at all until after I was Level 50, having concluded Lonesome Road (which made swapping companions a giant pain in the ass). I had decided to nuke both NCR and Legion at the end of Lonesome Road, and not because I planned to finish on the Independent questline. No, it’s because I played the most OCD looting obsessed scavenger you can imagine. Wish I could say it was “role-playing” but truth be told, I just couldn’t stop myself. Two things about that: firstly, I wouldn’t make the choice of nuking the two factions again. Honestly, regardless of who I planned on siding with, I wouldn’t bother nuking either. I don’t consider the Scorched Sierra Power Armor useful, especially compared to the Remnants or Gannon armor, and the Armor of the 87th Tribe looks kind of cool, but it’s a pretty poor weight/DT ratio and the only time I bothered equipping it was during one of my many fights against Legate Lanius, as a joke (wearing the Marked Beast Helmet and wielding the Blade of the West. I know, I know, very original…) Also, neither of the unique Grenade Rifles are that interesting. By the time I obtained them, I had Red Glare, Annabelle, and a Fat Man and a stupid amount of ammo for those weapons, so the 40mm grenades just felt beside the point. Secondly, damn did I over prepare. For pretty much everything. Playing mostly melee until all my other weapon skills caught up, I hoarded tons of late-game weapon ammo and I just never had the chance to use much of it. Not mention hundreds if not thousands of healing items. Oh, and money? When the Securitron did my credit check to see if I had 2K caps and could enter the strip, I was just shy of 1 Million. I had closer to 1.2 Million by the time I actually tried gambling in any casino (other than the Sierra Madre), I had a ton of Pre-War money, a large reserve of both Legion and NCR money, and I stole all 37 gold bars from the Sierra Madre vault and never sold any of them. I spent way too much time hoarding, and despite playing on Hardcore there was only a couple of times where I ever felt like I was suffering for it or needed to actually change my actions due to food, hydration, or sleep. When I did the Arizona Killer quest, I thought there was going to be a huge number of NCR troopers and Rangers present. I just reverse pick-pocketed the C4 I’d been hoarding onto everyone present, left about 5 blocks on the stage, and then, just to be a dick, sat on the observation platform using a Stealthboy and waited for Kimball to finish his speech before shooting him in the head with an exploding .50 MG round. Immediately after, I pushed the detonator and there was literally no one left on top of the dam. I didn’t enter Zion until I was around level 30, having already completed 80-90% of the sidequests. After I finished HH, I spent some more time wrapping up in the Mojave, then I did OWB. After that, I finished literally every remaining quest in the Mojave I knew of except the ones that would anger the Legion. Then I did DM, and then I completed the remaining side-quests, becoming an enemy of the Legion, including taking Boone on a nice little trip to wipe out Cottonwood Cove. Finally, I completed LR, let the nukes fly, but saved Ulysses for reasons I’m still not sure about. Happened to get the NCR Courier Duster, which I was happy about; that extra carry weight is actually pretty useful and I wouldn’t have bothered wearing any of the other ones based on their stats. From that point, it was all fairly straightforward. Although since I had several hundred hours invested and this felt like the most complete playthrough I’d ever do, I saved a couple of key “point of no return” moments. On this same file, I finished all 4 main questlines. Started with the Legion, because I had to destroy the Securitrons in the Fort for them alone, and their quests contradict everyone else’s. Then I did Mr. House, because both NCR and Independent require him to die to move forward after a point. NCR was 3rd, and then finally, Independent. For the first 3, though I did complete all companion quests (except “For Auld Lang Syne” during the Legion one), I did kind of a rush job. Then, I really took my time with the final playthrough, because the Independent ending was the one I’d really wanted all along. Took some companions on a nice vacation, like taking Veronica to watch as I got kicked out of every casino, or when I gave Boone my CZ37 Avenger and I took my Shoulder Mounted Machine Gun and we went to Visit Caesar like the hammer of justice. But tonight, I finally did it, and I finished my ultimate playthrough, which despite ending 4 times, didn’t feel over until the last one. Despite playing on PC this time, I didn’t use mods. I wanted the experience. And I have to say, holy fuck does this game still crash way too much. It’s really kind of unbearable at times. I love New Vegas overall, but goddamn it’s buggy. We all know it, just had to get that off my chest. I do think it’s interesting how there’s really no “totally good” ending. All the major factions have their appeal, and their drawbacks. Obviously, the Legion is worse than most. But they’re inarguably effective, and my understanding is that cut content was supposed to expand upon what is only hinted at in-game, which is that life is actually pretty good for everyone in Legion territory who isn’t one of their slaves. The NCR dedicates itself to noble ideals but is bogged down by a corrupt bureaucracy and oligarchy, and plenty of folks in the Mojave aren’t asking for their kind of help. They’re also an imperialist power overreaching, so there’s that. Mr. House himself is an interesting case; while his vision would undeniably be of benefit to mankind, he’s not remotely interested in improving the lives of anyone who he doesn’t employ and thus most of the people just fall by the wayside. He’ll more or less ignore suffering and chaos unless he sees a profit in stopping it. The Independent ending of course puts you in charge, but it doesn’t give you much opportunity to decide what that means, which I found to be disappointing. The Ending slides indicate that really, not much changes aside from the retreat of the 2 foreign powers. Although it’s never been announced that any ending is Fallout canon, I have to believe that the Independent ending is meant to be such. Neither the NCR nor Legion could really be allowed to win and control Hoover Dam; the entire political landscape would have been thrown too far out of whack. Despite the fact that it’s been over 2 centuries since the great war, the Fallout series basically can’t move past the “Post-Nuclear” world, and having one giant regional power control close to a quarter of the continental US would upset that too much. Similarly, with House’s plan to reignite the high technology sectors and send colony ships to new planets, the game world of Fallout would end. Fallout needs a lawless wasteland as the backdrop, and the only ending that doesn’t upset that delicate balance is the death of Mr. House, the retreat of the NCR, and the defeat of the Legion. There's also the fact that Wild Card is the one main questline that can't be failed by interacting with another faction, and is only no longer able to be completed once you've begun another faction's endgame quest. Knowing that New Vegas is largely based on the canceled, original Fallout 3 makes a lot of sense. Though I entered the series with Bethesda’s Fallout 3, I have read a lot of the lore and this game feels much more like a continuation of the story set up then. Even though The Courier is far removed from The Vault Dweller and The Chosen One (though maybe not as far removed as we think, given the extent of his prior travels), the story of the NCR, the Brotherhood, and the Enclave all feel much more connected to the events of the Mojave than they do the Capital Wasteland, despite the Brotherhood and Enclave’s more central roles in that story. New Vegas has the direct consequences of the past protagonists’ actions shaping the world, like the NCR’s transition from a tiny town, to a sprawling Republic, to a militaristic empire that is now sinking under the weight of its own overreach and inefficiency. Whereas 3 had just echoes of the past stories and one or two direct cameos like Harold. I almost now think of New Vegas as “Fallout 3” and Fallout 3 as “Fallout Bicentennial”; the spin-off that created a new-branching storyline to which Fallout 4 is obviously a direct sequel. That brings me to where I wish this game had done better. I know, they suffered from a significant amount of budgetary and time issues. I know there was going to be more to the game than what made the final cut. And they did a pretty incredible job with what they had. The reusing of resources from F03 works pretty well and the game is fun, the character writing is great, I love the humor, the companions are mostly cool. What I wish is that the choices you make in quests had a bit more noticeable impact on the world, aside from random dialogue or radio announcements. I know there’s an in-game reason for why killing Caesar won’t affect the upcoming battle for the dam. But really, going to The Fort and killing him shouldn’t feel like an empty gesture. Both Legion and NCR tell you the Legion is better at taking positions than holding them; why the hell did the NCR never assault Caesar’s camp? I did it with one other dude and Sputnik. And then you can’t even free the 2 slaves that are there once Caesar and all the Legionaries are dead. Why wouldn’t the NCR send some rangers to go hold that hill and rain hell on the Legionaries in the camps below? They send a force to occupy Nelson after you retake it, this seems like a higher priority. It’s also weird to me how little of a role the Super Mutants played in this game, coming here from Fallout 3. You’ve got the quest in Black Mountain, one or two in Jacobstown, and then like 2 other random encounters with Nightkin in Novac and the Repconn testing facility. And that’s literally it. After proving myself a friend to Jacobstown, I think it’s odd that you can’t ask the mutants to help out during the battle, or at least defend Vegas or something since the NCR and Legion probably would wipe them out if they seized power. This would especially make sense during the Independent Route, establishing Vegas as a haven for all. In general, I think if you’re going to decide to seize power for yourself you should have been given more of a chance to decide what that means and what you do with it. I would have really liked to see more options regarding the Brotherhood and the Followers and shaping how they’re going to fit in to Vegas society, post Hoover Dam. Mr. House was also taking cuts from the Three Families and using them fund his operations. I would have liked the chance to start running some of those operations. Hell, for any faction it would have been cool to get to spend some of my stupid amount of money late-game on improving their equipment, defenses, etc. There’s also quite a few quests that I wish had had alternate methods of resolution that would make sense. For example, why can’t you sabotage the Legion’s Howitzer in I Hear You Knocking or why can’t you take over the bottle cap press for yourself and just lie to Alice McLafferty in Pressing Matters? Additionally, when one is working for either the NCR or the Legion, it’s irksome that you don’t actually get to join those factions. Would have been cool to go from Recruit Legionary through Centurion and then become a Legatus yourself. Caesar could have at least formally made you Frumentarius, since that’s what you basically become. NCR could have made you a Colonel by the time the battle begins for all the shit you did for them. Regarding the DLC, and I know this is again due to budgetary reasons, I didn’t like how what you can do in one DLC can’t affect/be referenced in the others or the main game. I also wish you’d been able to go a little deeper on the connection between them, for example talking to Elijah more about Big MT or Graham about Ulysses. Or Christine about Ulysses. I found Elijah to be somewhat a disappointment in general, after him being hyped up by the Mojave BoS, Veronica, and the Think Tank. He’s just kind of a crazy dick. Honest Hearts was enjoyable but it would have been better if you could get deeper into it with Graham. Plus he would have been a phenomenal companion to bring back to the Mojave; I think he might actually be my favorite character in the game. My favorite part in it was uncovering the story of The Survivalist. Wish finding all entries plus his corpse and belongings could have given you some dialogue options with the Sorrows, maybe even teaching one to be his successor or something. And the Desert Ranger armor was awesome, I wore it until I got the Elite Riot Gear in LR. Old World Blues was just really solid: had a fun, weird story. Just wish it had an actual impact after you return to the Mojave and the Endgame. I mean, the Courier controlling, Vegas, Hoover Dam, AND the research and production of Big MT? Some shit’s going down. Where’s MY army of robot-scorpions to supplement my army of Securitrons? Only downside is the unique weapons are trash; the only cool thing was the Stealth Suit once it’s fully upgraded. Dead Money was my least favorite DLC of all. First, the cloud was just annoying, and made it hard to enjoy the one time I lost all my shit and was forced to just play with the newly acquired equipment. Second, the Villa portion vs the actual casino portion is way too long, and I had much higher expectations for the interior of the casino. Third, while the characters were pretty interesting (besides Elijah), I couldn’t believe how there’s no resolution regarding Dean being the one who fucked over Christine and cut her vocal chords. Also, how’d he pull that off? She’s a BoS assassin, for fuck’s sake. Fourth, letting go my ass. My gold. MINE. Fifth, once you’re back in the Mojave, the presence of that vending machine plus the constant dump of chips is basically game-breaking. Not that I needed it by then, I’d pretty much broken the game by being a pointless millionaire hoarder. Lonesome Road was cool overall. Dragged on a little longer than it needed to in some places. Ulysses, while certainly interesting, rambled a little too much and a little too metaphorically without actually saying much. Love the unique weapons from this one, love the unique armor. My one big issue is that I still barely understand the backstory of the courier after all that. Really wish they had gone into more detail, or that there had been a survivor from the community you helped build who could have filled you in more. Feels like you never actually encounter that community at all, since all the buildings are prewar and all the notes are either prewar or from the recent NCR expeditionary force. If I had to do it again, I’d just stop the nukes since I’d rather have the peace of mind and become idolized with the BoS than anything you actually get from Dry Wells or the Long 15. Also, though it killed me to do it at the time, I left ED-E so I could get the perk. But the more I thought about it, letting him die there actually seems less cruel than letting him try to continue to Navarro and discover what happened to it. Would have been cool if it turned out Arcade was actually the boy in the recordings though. All in all, I’m glad I’ve finally seen the end of my own lonesome road. And now I’m going to uninstall Fallout New Vegas. But, since we are in the midst of a quarantine, guess I’ll fire up Fallout 4...
Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater. (the previous edition can be found here if you are super behind). House-keeping:
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Trump’s war on the intelligence community: 10 days under an authoritarian administration
I wrote a stand-alone piece covering the biggest news from last week: Over the past 10 days, we've seen Trump fully indulge his authoritarian impulses in an attempt to stamp out any inkling of facts that he dislikes - whether that be for personal, egocentric reasons or to shore up political strength. This began with a briefing given to the House Intelligence Committee that Russia is seeking to re-elect Trump. In response, Trump purged the Office of the Director of National Intelligence of officials he perceived to be disloyal, installing loyalists in their place. Also covered: how Trump gets away with a cabinet full of acting officials, Richard Grenell’s numerous dis-qualifications, a pardon offered to Julian Assange, and the hunt for “Never Trumpers” in the administration.
Sunday night update
On Sunday, Trump made a veiled threat toward House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff while claiming without evidence that the Democrat had leaked information from the Russia briefing on Feb. 13: “Somebody please tell incompetent (thanks for my high poll numbers) & corrupt politician Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff to stop leaking Classified information or, even worse, made up information, to the Fake News Media. Someday he will be caught, & that will be a very unpleasant experience!” tweet Later, while speaking to reporters, Trump called for an investigation into the leak - more concerned about the public learning of the briefing than he is about Russia’s repeated interference in U.S. elections. “They leaked it, Adam Schiff and his group. They leaked it to the papers and - as usual - they ought to investigate Adam Schiff for leaking that information,” Trump said. Schiff responded: “Nice deflection, Mr. President. But your false claims fool no one. You welcomed Russian help in 2016, tried to coerce Ukraine’s help in 2019, and won’t protect our elections in 2020.”
Authoritarians also dispense largesse, but they do it by their own whims, rather than pursuant to any system or legal rule. The point of authoritarianism is to concentrate power in the ruler, so the world knows that all actions, good and bad, harsh and generous, come from a single source. (The New Yorker)
Last week, Trump granted pardons and commutations to 11 people with one thing in common: connections. Trump bypassed the process of formal procedures typically used to determine who is given a pardon, instead relying on connections to his wealthy friends and political allies.
Former governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted of soliciting bribes from candidates to replace Barack Obama in the Senate after Obama was elected president, knew Trump personally from his appearance on The Celebrity Apprentice. Trump falsely claimed that former FBI Director James Comey was involved in Blagojevich's prosecution; Comey did not take over at the FBI until years after the Blagojevich case.
Illinois' entire GOP congressional delegation—Darin LaHood, John Shimkus, Adam Kinzinger, Rodney Davis, and Mike Bost: "Blagojevich is the face of public corruption in Illinois, and not once has he shown any remorse for his clear and documented record of egregious crimes that undermined the trust placed in him by voters...Blagojevich is the face of public corruption in Illinois, and not once has he shown any remorse for his clear and documented record of egregious crimes that undermined the trust placed in him by voters." (source)
Former San Francisco 49ers team owner Eddie DeBartolo, who was convicted of “failing to report a felony” in 1998 after he paid a $400,000 bribe for a casino license, was pardoned as a result of the lobbying of New England Patriots owner and frequent Mar-a-Lago guest Robert Kraft.
Michael Milken, the so-called junk bond king who was convicted in 1990 of securities and tax fraud, knew Trump personally and frequently spent time with him at Mar-a-Lago. In his first memoir, Trump called Milken “a brilliant guy.” Many of Trump’s inner circle also lobbied for a pardon for Milken, including Rudy Giuliani, Jared Kushner, Steven Mnuchin, and developer friends Howard Lorber and Richard LeFrak. In fact, last year Mnuchin “flew on Mr. Milken’s private jet from Washington to Los Angeles and helped secure a real estate tax break that could benefit Mr. Milken.” A key backer of Milken’s pardon, hedge fund manager (and executive of Wendy’s) Nelson Peltz, held a record-breaking fundraiser for Trump’s re-election campaign at his home just 3 days before Milken was pardoned.
John K. Carroll: “As one of the lead prosecutors on the Milken case, I am outraged — not at the specific result here but at what the pardon process says about the way justice is served in our country...What outrages me, and what I think should outrage others, is the process that brought about the pardon. In as guileless an admission as I have ever seen of rich man’s justice, the White House bolstered its decision by listing a murderer’s row of Republican donors and billionaires who provided “widespread and long-standing” support for Milken’s pardon. Sheldon Adelson, Tom Barrack, my old boss Giuliani and others are listed as supporters of the pardon. If I had to prove that the scales of justice tilt toward the rich, I would offer that list and then sit down and wait for the jury to convict.”
Former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik, who was convicted in 2009 of lying to federal investigators and committing tax fraud, knew Trump personally and had Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera sign a letter on his behalf requesting a pardon from the president. In 2004, Trump called Kerik “a friend of mine” and “a great guy.” Rudy Giuliani also supported the request, as Kerik once served as a senior vice president at Giuliani Partners.
"The pardon cancels out $103,300 in restitution that Kerik still owed the Internal Revenue Service as part of his sentence, according to a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan." (source)
Paul Pogue, a construction company owner who pleaded guilty to underpaying his taxes by $473,000, did not know Trump and did not have any Fox News personalities lobby on his behalf. Instead, Pogue’s family appears to have purchased a presidential pardon. Pogue’s son and daughter-in-law made over $200,000 in contributions to the Trump Victory Committee last year. The couple also made several large donations to the Republican National Committee and each donated $5,600 to Donald Trump for President Inc.,” according to FEC filings.
Roger Stone going to prison
Perhaps not coincidentally, Trump’s pardoning of corrupt public officials like Blagojevich occurred just two days before Roger Stone’s sentencing for lying to investigators, obstructing a congressional investigation, and witness tampering. Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Stone to 40 months - or 3.3 years - in prison, much lighter than the original 7-9 year sentencing recommendation made by career prosecutors who withdrew from the case in protest of AG Barr’s intervention. Lawfare has a great line-by-line breakdown of the sentencing hearing, if you’d like the nitty-gritty details. But if you only have time to read one excerpt from the hearing, I suggest the following:
Judge Jackson: “The truth still exists. The truth still matters. Roger Stone's insistence that it doesn't, his belligerence, his pride in his own lies are a threat to our most fundamental institutions, to the very foundation of our democracy...The dismay and the disgust at the attempts by others to defend his actions as just business as usual in our polarized climate should transcend party. The dismay and the disgust with any attempts to interfere with the efforts of prosecutors and members of the judiciary to fulfill their duty should transcend party. "Sure, the defense is free to say: So what? Who cares? But, I'll say this: Congress cared. The United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia that prosecuted the case and is still prosecuting the case cared. The jurors who served with integrity under difficult circumstances cared. The American people cared. And I care."
Judge Jackson pushes back During the hearing, Judge Jackson said that the jurors in the case "served with integrity." Stone’s lawyers took this statement and moved to disqualify the judge from the case, claiming that her remarks “rendered her unable to fairly rule on his bid for a new trial.”
"Stone’s Motion for New Trial is directly related to the integrity of a juror. It is alleged that a juror misled the Court regarding her ability to be unbiased and fair and the juror attempted to cover up evidence that would directly contradict her false claims of impartiality," his lawyers argued. "The premature statement blessing the “integrity of the jury” undermines the appearance of impartiality and presents a strong bias for recusal," they added.
As expected, Jackson denied the motion to have her disqualified... A pardon for Stone? But the goal may be to reach the ears of the president instead. According to Politico, a former senior administration official who remains in contact with Trump and his senior advisers says about a pardon for Roger Stone: “It’s not a question of if; it’s when.” Following the sentencing, Trump argued that Stone’s jury was “tainted” and said that “Roger has a very good chance of exoneration.” On Sunday, Trump was asked about the possibility of a pardon for Stone and instead took the opportunity to attack the jury forewoman, again:
"That juror is so biased and so tainted, that shouldn't happen in our criminal justice system… You have a juror that is obviously tainted. She was an activist against Trump. She said bad things about Trump and bad things about Stone," the President claimed without evidence. "She somehow weaseled her way onto the jury and if that's not a tainted jury then there is no such thing as a tainted jury."
More info on Stone’s lenient sentence
In the week since four prosecutors withdrew from Stone’s case in protest of AG Barr’s interference, we have gotten a slow drip-drip of new information. A piece by The New York Times Sunday summed it up nicely: Timothy Shea, appointed to replace Jessie Liu as head D.C. attorney, was sent to the office specifically to steer cases to the president’s benefit after previous efforts failed.
A new boss, Timothy Shea, had just arrived and had told them on his first day that he wanted a more lenient recommendation for Mr. Stone, and he pushed back hard when they objected, according to two people briefed on the dispute. They grew suspicious that Mr. Shea was helping his longtime friend and boss, Attorney General William P. Barr, soften the sentencing request to please the president. ...The tensions between the office, the Justice Department and the White House date back further than the tumult in the Stone case. They have been simmering since at least last summer, when the office’s investigation of Andrew G. McCabe, a former top F.B.I. official whom the president had long targeted, began to fall apart. Mr. Shea’s predecessor, Jessie K. Liu, a lawyer whom Mr. Trump had appointed to lead the office in 2017, pressed the McCabe case even after one team of prosecutors concluded that they could not win a conviction. After a second team was brought in and also failed to deliver a grand jury indictment, Ms. Liu’s relationship with Mr. Barr grew strained, people close to them said. She left the position this year, though she and Mr. Barr have both stressed to associates that her departure was amicable.
Undoing Mueller’s work
Trump’s efforts to derail the sentencing of Stone can be seen as part of a larger campaign to rewrite history, and specifically, erase the findings of the Mueller investigation. Roger Stone’s indictment shows that Stone was acting on Trump's personal order to find Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails stolen by Russia. In order to cover-up his role in the Russia-Wikileaks-Trump network, Stone lied to investigators and threatened a witness. By claiming that Stone did not commit a crime, Trump is attempting to reverse the findings of the Mueller report and make himself the victim. Last week, Trump embarked on a rambling Twitter thread calling for all cases stemming from Mueller’s probe to be “thrown out.” He continued, saying: “If I wasn’t President, I’d be suing everyone all over the place.......BUT MAYBE I STILL WILL. WITCH HUNT!” Hours later, while discussing the spate of pardons he had issued that day, Trump made the astounding assertion that he is “the chief law enforcement officer of the country” and thus has the “legal right” to interfere in criminal cases. “I’m allowed to be totally involved,” the president added. While technically he is incorrect - the Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer - in practice Trump has been proven right. A lawless chief executive is in fact in charge of enforcing the law when the Attorney General acts as his personal fixer.
This is in the style of autocrats across the globe, who weaponize the law to help themselves and their friends and hurt their enemies. The nation’s legal system is now run by a man who has spent his life mocking it. (NYT Editorial Board)
Meanwhile, the president’s allies have reportedly been urging him to fire anyone who was involved in Mueller’s investigation:
The MAGA punditry’s outsized influence over the president means their campaign against the so-called Mueller “holdovers” is likely not falling on deaf ears, especially given Trump’s fixation with what his defenders and detractors are saying about his administration in their frequent appearances on his favorite TV programs. “It's totally unclear to me why any members of the Mueller team need to remain in the Trump DOJ,” the pro-Trump conservative blogger Will Chamberlain wrote after news broke of the Stone sentencing recommendation. ...GOP operative Arthur Schwartz, a close friend of Donald Trump Jr. who has been described as the eldest son’s “fixer,” said of the career officials in question: “I think they should all be investigated.” ...John Dowd, a former Trump lawyer who remains in touch with the White House, characterized the line attorneys in the Stone case as “insubordinate,” and “the same crowd of prosecutors wedded to the Mueller agenda” who need to be “cleaned out” from DOJ. “And Bill Barr is doing that,” Dowd said.
What can be done about the politicization of the DOJ? In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Cass Sunstein of Harvard Law School suggests that “Congress should transform the Justice Department into an independent agency, legally immunized from the president’s day-to-day control.”
Public charge rule takes effect
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow the government to implement new “wealth test” rules making it easier to deny immigrants residency or admission to the United States if they might depend on public-assistance programs. Legal challenges will continue in lower courts in the meantime. Doug Rand, co-founder of Boundless Immigration who formerly worked on immigration policy in the Obama White House, estimates that as many as 400,000 people every year could be denied green cards or visas because of the new rules. Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a written dissent that was sharply critical of both the federal government and her conservative colleagues, warning that they are “putting a thumb on the scale in favor of” the Trump administration. Read her full seven-page dissent here.
The justice wrote that granting emergency applications often upends "the normal appellate process" while "putting a thumb on the scale in favor of the party that won." Targeting her conservative colleagues, she said "most troublingly, the Court's recent behavior" has benefited "one litigant over all others." "Claiming one emergency after another, the Government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases," Sotomayor said. "It is hard to say what is more troubling," she said, pointing to the case at hand, "that the Government would seek this extraordinary relief seemingly as a matter of course, or that the Court would grant it." CNN
Justice Department’s new rules benefit Giuliani
In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, the DOJ indicated that the agency has implemented another layer of approval that would make it difficult for prosecutors to widen their probe into Rudy Giuliani:
The Justice Department revealed Tuesday that law enforcement officials running Ukraine-related investigations must seek approval before expanding their inquiries — a move that could have implications for Rudolph W. Giuliani, as President Trump’s personal attorney pushes for scrutiny of the president’s political foes while facing a federal probe into his own conduct. Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd wrote to Nadler that the department had tapped two U.S. attorneys to assist in the process — Scott Brady in Pittsburgh to receive and assess new information, and Richard Donoghue in Brooklyn to help coordinate personnel throughout the Justice Department involved in Giuliani’s case and others with a focus on Ukraine. An accompanying internal memo, circulated by Rosen in January, says that he and Donoghue must approve expansions of any inquiries.
Related: The Hill admits John Solomon’s columns were misleading
The Hill’s review of Solomon’s work can be found here. I have found the review itself to be overly generous to the publication (no surprise), so I will quote from a WaPo summary of the review:
In effect, the Hill said Solomon amplified an inaccurate and one-sided narrative about the Bidens and Ukraine that was fed to him by Giuliani, “facilitated” by businessman Lev Parnas, who was working with Giuliani at the time, and reinforced by Solomon’s own attorneys, who also represented clients embroiled in U.S.-Ukraine politics. But the Hill stopped short of retracting or apologizing for Solomon’s articles, nor did it say it shouldn’t have published them. It also didn’t characterize Solomon’s motives in presenting what appears to be a largely debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine. “In certain columns, Solomon failed to identify important details about key Ukrainian sources, including the fact that they had been indicted or were under investigation,” said the internal investigation, which was overseen by the newspaper’s editor, Bob Cusack. “In other cases, the sources were [Solomon’s] own attorneys” — Victoria Toensing and Joseph DiGenova, who have also represented President Trump and Giuliani, who was also a key source for Solomon’s columns. Solomon didn’t disclose this connection in his columns nor did he disclose to his editors that he shared drafts of his stories with Toensing, DiGenova and Parnas, the review noted.
Trump tries to block Bolton book
The Washington Post reports that Trump is attempting to block the release of former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s book, instructing aides that it should not be released until after the November election.
Trump has told his lawyers that Bolton should not be allowed to publish any of his interactions with him about national security because they are privileged and classified, these people said. He has also repeatedly brought up the book with his team, asking whether Bolton is going to be able to publish it, they said. Trump told national television anchors on Feb. 4 during an off-the-record lunch that material in the book was “highly classified,” according to notes from one participant in the luncheon. He then called him a “traitor.” “We’re going to try and block the publication of the book,” Trump said, according to the notes. “After I leave office, he can do this. But not in the White House...I give the guy a break. I give him a job. And then he turns on me,” Trump added during the West Wing lunch. “He’s just making things up.”
Susan Rice tells Bolton the truth
During a panel discussion at Vanderbilt University on Wednesday, Bolton shared the stage with Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice. Bolton made excuses for his failure to testify in Trump’s impeachment trial, blaming the House for committing “impeachment malpractice.” Rice challenged Bolton repeatedly, denigrating his decision to promote his book instead of testify:
"I thought a lot about if I had been in that position how would I have approached it, and I'll be honest: It's inconceivable to me that if I had firsthand knowledge of gross abuse of presidential power that I would withhold my testimony from a constitutional accountability process.” "I can't imagine withholding my testimony, with or without a subpoena," Rice said. "I also can't imagine, frankly, in the absence of being able to provide the information directly to Congress, not having exercised my First Amendment right to speak publicly at a time when my testimony or my experience would be relevant. And, frankly, when my subordinates ... were doing their duty and responding in a fashion consistent with their legal obligations to provide information." "I would feel like I was shamefully violating the oath that I took to support and defend the Constitution."
Trump corruption update
President Donald Trump’s choice to stay at his own Las Vegas hotel each night during the western states swing that wraps up Friday likely cost taxpayers a million extra dollars as well as diverted thousands of them into his own cash registers.
Breaking with precedent, Trump flew back to Vegas to stay every night at his Trump International Hotel, despite his day activities taking place in California, Arizona, and Colorado.
Had Trump held the same events but done so in a geographically logical order ― starting in Beverly Hills and finishing in Colorado Springs, but overnighting each day in the city where he would begin the following morning ― Trump would have spent four fewer hours aboard Air Force One, thereby saving taxpayers about $1.1 million. ...Indeed, the repeated overnight trips to Las Vegas may have forced the Secret Service and other support personnel to keep a motorcade there for a full four days, rather than move it to the site of an upcoming presidential trip
This week, Trump has a whole new country to focus on: India, home to the largest portfolio of Trump real estate projects outside North America, according to the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. According to The Washington Post, since the elder Trump’s last trip to India in 2014, two of his business partners have encountered massive legal and financial trouble. During Trump’s time as president, the Trump Organization has vigorously promoted their properties in India, earning millions of dollars in royalties:
In 2018, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr. — who runs the Trump Organization with his brother, Eric Trump — spent several days in India promoting the family’s developments, attending a champagne dinner with condo buyers who plunked down $39,000 deposits and bringing in millions of dollars in new sales. While there, he also met with Modi behind closed doors. The next year, Trump’s Indian business partners flew 100 early buyers of his luxury condos near Delhi to visit Trump Tower and Trump Ferry Point golf course in New York City as a way to generate interest in the properties in India. One attendee gushed afterward about meeting the son of a U.S. president on the trip.
Trump 2020: Cambridge Analytica and Facebook
President Donald Trump’s campaign is bringing on an alum of the controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica...Matt Oczkowski, who served as head of product at Cambridge before it went bankrupt and shut down in 2018, is helping oversee the Trump campaign’s data program...Oczkowski, who also worked on Trump’s 2016 effort, joined the reelection campaign in January, and payments to his company, HuMn Behavior, are expected to show up on Trump’s next campaign finance disclosure later this month. (Politico)
An Axios report revealed where most of Trump’s re-election campaign is spending its advertising budget: on Facebook ads. “Last fall, the campaign urged Facebook to keep the same tools for political advertisers that they make available to companies...Facebook ultimately decided not to change its policies around microtargeting.” However, unlike in 2016, the campaign is also diversifying, “testing new strategies on several dozen platforms, including YouTube, Google, ad exchanges, publisher networks and conservative podcasts.”
Side note: The IRS is suing Facebook for $9 million in back taxes, alleging the social media company undervalued intellectual properties when selling them to an Irish subsidiary in 2010. Ireland has lower corporate tax rates than the United States, so the move reduced the company’s tax bill.
Erik Prince investigations
There is apparently another investigation into Blackwater Founder - and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos - Erik Prince. The FBI is reportedly investigating Prince “for his 2015 attempt to modify two American-made crop-dusting planes into attack aircraft — a violation of arms trafficking regulations...The planes became part of private military services Prince proposed to sell or use in mercenary operations in Africa and Azerbaijan.” This new investigation adds to Prince’s legal problems, though he insists that he is untouchable “under this guy,” referring to Trump. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Justice Department is “in the late stages of deciding whether to charge” Prince for allegedly lying to Congress in its Russia probe and violating U.S. export laws in his business dealings overseas.
Trump blocking prominent climate change warning
The United States is against mentioning climate change in the communique of the world’s financial leaders, G20 diplomats said, after a new draft of the joint statement showed the G20 are considering including it as a risk factor to growth...G20 sources said the United States was reluctant to accept language on climate change as a risk to the economy. Reuters
On Sunday, it was announced that the U.S. ultimately agreed to a less-prominent placement for the risks of climate change. It will now appear in language referencing the Financial Stability Board’s work examining the implications of climate change for financial stability.
One of the G20 sources said it was the first time a reference to climate change had been included in a G20 finance communique during Trump’s presidency, even though it was removed from the top of the joint statement. U.S. officials have resisted naming climate change as an economic risk since Trump took office in 2017. One of his first acts as president was to announce Washington’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.
Last week, two men were arrested in separate incidents involving threats to President Trump’s perceived opponents. A Michigan man, Brittan J. Atkinson, was arrested on Thursday for sending death threats to Mark Zaid, an attorney for the Ukraine whistleblower. Atkinson sent the threats in November, on the day that Trump held up a photo of Zaid and read some of his tweets at a rally in Louisiana.
"All traitors must die miserable deaths," Atkinson's email read in part, the indictment says. "Those that represent traitors shall meet the same fate[.] We will hunt you down and bleed you out like the pigs you are. We have nothing but time, and you are running out of it, Keep looking over your shoulder[.] We know who you are, where you live, and who you associate with[.] We are all strangers in a crowd to you[.]"
On Wednesday, Salvatore Lippa of New York was arrested for threatening to assault and murder Rep. Adam Schiff and Sen. Chuck Schumer in voicemails last month.
Lippa started the threatening message by calling the congressman "Schiff, Shifty Schiff," invoking the nickname used by President Donald Trump for Schiff, the lead House manager during Trump's impeachment trial. ...When questioned by U.S Capitol Police, Lippa admitted to making the threatening calls to Schiff and Schumer because he said he was upset about the impeachment proceedings, prosecutors said.
Washington Post: A second court has temporarily blocked North Carolina’s new voter identification law on the argument that it discriminates against African Americans. The ruling reduces the likelihood that the rule will be in effect in a key swing state during November’s elections. A three-judge panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that intent to discriminate was a “primary motivating factor” behind the voter ID law, which passed the Republican legislature in late 2018.
CBS News: Florida cannot bar felons who served their time from registering to vote simply because they have failed to pay all fines and fees stemming from their cases, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
CNN: Mississippi's law banning abortions at the detection of a fetal heartbeat -- as early as six weeks into pregnancy -- will remain blocked, a panel of circuit judges ruled on Thursday...The three-judge panel on the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling that the Mississippi law unconstitutionally prohibited pre-viability abortions.
Tampa Bay Times: A curious request arrived in the inboxes of Florida tax collectors last week from an employee of the Republican National Committee. He asked for “all email addresses that have been collected and are in the possession of the Tax Collector’s Office.” He also wanted any names, property addresses and phone numbers connected to those emails in their records. If the tax collectors had complied, the Republican Party would soon have a valuable trove of personal information for millions of Floridians as it gears up for the 2020 election: A detailed database of many taxpayers’ emails plus the name, address and phone number tied to that email.
Associated Press: Most Republican lawmakers refused to attend a Tuesday night session of the Oregon House of Representatives amid a slowdown over anger at a sweeping bill on climate change. Earlier, Republican lawmakers, who are a minority in the House, insisted that bills coming to the floor be read in their entirety instead of being summarized, which slowed things down substantially. The 2020 session of the Legislature lasts only 35 days, being an even-year short session.
Q13 Fox News: Efforts to expel a controversial state representative from the Washington Legislature are likely over after no Republicans would sign a letter calling for state Rep. Matt Shea’s expulsion. The Spokesman-Review reports that all 98 members of the state House of Representatives were asked Thursday to sign a letter calling for the expulsion of Spokane Valley Republican. All 56 Democrats signed the letter, but no Republicans did.
What's happening around town (Wed, Sep 25th - Tue, Oct 1st)
Tulsa's event list.
The Hex House(The Hex House - Tulsa) Thru Sat, Nov 2nd Travel to Tulsa for The Hex House, northeast Oklahoma's extreme haunted attraction. The Hex House is an intense,…
Wednesday, Sep 25th
🎓 Bounce'n Beethovens(Owasso Library - Owasso) Thru Fri, Sep 27th Start Time: 6:30pm Children and parents explore music through movement and instruments as they play with egg shakers, bells, rhythm sticks, drums and maracas in this fun, interactive program. Registration is required as class size is limited. Register online or call 918-549-7323. Please register for only one Bounce'n Beethovens class per month. For ages birth-5.…
Discover Your Heritage with Genealogy DNA(Tulsa City County Library - Tulsa) Thru Fri, Sep 27th Start Time: 12:00pm One Book, One Tulsa Wednesday, Sept 25, 12-1 p.m. Jenks Library Friday, Sept 27, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Schusterman-Benson Library Join Liz Walker, Genealogy Resources Center associate, and discover options available for autosomal DNA testing and how a test can help adoptees, and compare what tools the different testing sites have to offer. For…
Food Truck Wednesdays(Guthrie Green - Tulsa) Every Wednesday, grab some tasty eats and gather on the grounds of Guthrie Green. During Food Truck Wednesdays, lunchtime…
🎓 JobNewsUSA.com Tulsa Job Faur(Tulsa Renaissance Hotel & Convention Center - Tulsa) Start Time: 10:00am ATTN: Job Seekers! 100s of Jobs are up for grabs at the Tulsa Job Fair on September 25th! This is your opportunity to meet one-on-one with recruiters and hiring managers from some of the area’s best businesses who are now hiring for immediate openings! Whether you’re looking for an entry-level position or a more experienced management…
Les Miserables(Tulsa Performing Art Center - Tulsa) Thru Sun, Sep 29th Experience the award-winning musical phenomenon "Les Miserables" at Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Cameron…
🍴 Take 5: Korean-American Literature(Tulsa City County Library - Tulsa) Start Time: 7:00pm One Book, One Tulsa Martin Regional Library Join us for an evening dedicated to Korean-American literature. Five avid readers will share their favorite reads in five minutes! Leave with 25 readings suggestions designed to inspire. Bookish activities, door prizes and light refreshments will round out the perfect evening. This event is part of…
Thursday, Sep 26th
Bedtime Stories(Owasso Library - Owasso) Start Time: 6:30pm Join us for our evening storytime! Bring the whole family for this 0-to-5 storytime! There’s something for everyone – simple songs and books for the little ones, more interactive stories and activities for your older children. Children are welcome to wear their pajamas.
Ben & Noel Haggard in Concert(Expo Square - Tulsa) Start Time: 8:00pm Catch country artists Ben & Noel Haggard live as they make their way to the Tulsa State Fair. Listen from your…
🎓 Bounce'n Beethovens(Owasso Library - Owasso) 1 day left Start Time: 6:30pm Children and parents explore music through movement and instruments as they play with egg shakers, bells, rhythm sticks, drums and maracas in this fun, interactive program. Registration is required as class size is limited. Register online or call 918-549-7323. Please register for only one Bounce'n Beethovens class per month. For ages birth-5.…
Champions of Health Gala(Cox Business Center - Tulsa) Start Time: 6:00pm Organizations making a positive impact on the health of Oklahomans will be honored at the 2019 Champions of Health Gala at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26 at Cox Business Center in Tulsa. To make a reservation, call (855) 628-8642 by September 19. All proceeds benefit the Oklahoma Caring Foundation, a non-profit organization administered by Blue…
Discover Your Heritage with Genealogy DNA(Tulsa City County Library - Tulsa) 1 day left Start Time: 12:00pm One Book, One Tulsa Wednesday, Sept 25, 12-1 p.m. Jenks Library Friday, Sept 27, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Schusterman-Benson Library Join Liz Walker, Genealogy Resources Center associate, and discover options available for autosomal DNA testing and how a test can help adoptees, and compare what tools the different testing sites have to offer. For…
Food Truck Thursday(Downtown - Claremore) Once a month, downtown Claremore transforms into a community hub teeming with people. During Food Truck Thursday, join…
🎡 Ford Family Fun Night(Expo Square - Tulsa) Start Time: 11:00am Gate Admission is only $3 with a coupon from your local Ford Dealer. Rides are only $2 each during Midway hours (does not include Extreme Rides). Gate Admission without Ford coupon is $5. Promotion starts at 11am; not valid with other promotions or offers.
Green on Greenwood Health & Wealth Expo(Greenwood Cultural Center - Tulsa) Start Time: 10:00am ❤️2nd ANNUAL GREEN ON GREENWOOD HEALTH & WEALTH EXPO❤️ The OCBA is proud to bring you another year of Oklahoma's biggest and best two-day expo for Green businesses and patient education annnnd it's FREE!! Last year, OCBA brought Oklahoma's FIRST CannaBiz Expo!!! We had 96 vendor, 24 speakers and OVER 7,000 attendees in TWO days and this…
♪ I AM THEY(Mabee Center - Tulsa) Start Time: 7:00pm Pop-acoustic worship group I AM THEY is announcing plans to headline The Trial & Triumph Tour this fall during the month of September with special guests @[346090915180:274:Dan Bremnes] and @[1791758947747360:274:Elle Limebear]. “Earlier this year we embarked on a small headlining run with some of our friends at radio,” says I AM THEY’s…
Les Miserables(Tulsa Performing Art Center - Tulsa) Thru Sun, Sep 29th Experience the award-winning musical phenomenon "Les Miserables" at Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Cameron…
Mickey's Search Party(Expo Square - Tulsa) Thru Sun, Sep 29th Tulsa State Fair attendees can take a break from all the turkey legs and carnival rides with a ticket to Disney on Ice's…
Tulsa State Fair(Expo Square - Tulsa) Thru Sun, Oct 6th Bring the whole family out for Tulsa's largest annual event, the Tulsa State Fair, and enjoy fun-filled, family…
Friday, Sep 27th
Aaron Watson in Concert(Expo Square - Tulsa) Start Time: 8:00pm Catch country artist Aaron Watson live as he makes his way to the Tulsa State Fair. Listen from your spot in front of…
🎓 Bounce'n Beethovens(Owasso Library - Owasso) Last Day Start Time: 6:30pm Children and parents explore music through movement and instruments as they play with egg shakers, bells, rhythm sticks, drums and maracas in this fun, interactive program. Registration is required as class size is limited. Register online or call 918-549-7323. Please register for only one Bounce'n Beethovens class per month. For ages birth-5.…
🏃 Cycle For Life Night Ride(River West Festival Park - Tulsa) Evening ride, great for cyclists of all skill levels, benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Fully-supported ride with route options of 30 & 15 miles, including stocked rest stops and bike support along the routes. Start the evening by decorating your bike, body, and helmet at our Get Lit tent, and plan to enjoy our post-ride party upon…
Discover Your Heritage with Genealogy DNA(Tulsa City County Library - Tulsa) Last Day Start Time: 12:00pm One Book, One Tulsa Wednesday, Sept 25, 12-1 p.m. Jenks Library Friday, Sept 27, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Schusterman-Benson Library Join Liz Walker, Genealogy Resources Center associate, and discover options available for autosomal DNA testing and how a test can help adoptees, and compare what tools the different testing sites have to offer. For…
🎨 Film on the Lawn: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory(Philbrook Downtown - Tulsa) Start Time: 6:00pm Friday, September 27, 6:00 PM Gene Wilder puts on his Wonka hat and makes our wildest dreams come true in this 1971 adaptation of Roald Dahl's famous novel. Do you have your golden ticket? Bring a picnic or get a burger at Kitchen 27's Burger Night. Member tickets available on Monday, April 22 Not-Yet Member tickets available on Monday, April…
Fridays in the Loft Chamber Music(FlyLoft - Tulsa) The Tulsa Symphony Orchestra presents a regular Fridays in the Loft Chamber Music series. Take a seat at the Fly Loft in…
Les Miserables(Tulsa Performing Art Center - Tulsa) Thru Sun, Sep 29th Experience the award-winning musical phenomenon "Les Miserables" at Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Cameron…
Mickey's Search Party(Expo Square - Tulsa) Thru Sun, Sep 29th Tulsa State Fair attendees can take a break from all the turkey legs and carnival rides with a ticket to Disney on Ice's…
Miss Nelson Has a Field Day(Tulsa Performing Art Center - Tulsa) Start Time: 7:00pm Presented By: Imagination Series Tulsa PAC Trust Return to Horace B. Smedley School where the Smedley Tornadoes have never won a football game. In fact, they have never even scored a single point! With such a poor record and a team that is out of control, kindhearted Miss Nelson comes to the rescue, enlisting the help of her alter ego, the…
Peter and the Wolf(Tulsa Ballet - Tulsa) Kids are invited to the family-friendly "Peter and the Wolf" production, featuring a familiar cast of characters…
Route 66 Cruisers Cruise-In & Car Show(Claremore Lake Park - Claremore) Day 1 of 2 Bring the entire family out to the annual Route 66 Cruisers Cruise-In & Car Show in Claremore to celebrate classic cars…
Tulsa State Fair(Expo Square - Tulsa) Thru Sun, Oct 6th Bring the whole family out for Tulsa's largest annual event, the Tulsa State Fair, and enjoy fun-filled, family…
🎓 Tulsa State Fair Draft Horse Show(Expo Square - Tulsa) Day 1 of 2 Start Time: 8:00am Mark your calendars to attend the Tulsa Fair Draft Horse show in Tulsa OK!! September 27 & 28 2019. Hitch, halter, pleasure & riding classes. Obstacle courses. Costume class. Loads of fun! Free for anyone wanting to come watch! Registration deadline August 30th. https://www.tulsastatefair.com/p/getconnected/livestock-and-horse-shows/horsehandbook
🎨 Young at Art: Diary of a Worm, a Spider and a Fly(Tulsa Performing Art Center - Tulsa) Start Time: 11:30am Young at Art: Diary of a Worm, a Spider and a Fly Sept. 27-28 at 11:30 a.m. :: John H. Williams Theatre **The Young At Art series is designed for public, private and home-schooled children. These one-hour shows open new doors for children by introducing the performing arts to new generations. All tickets are $5. "The Diary of a Worm, a Spider…
Saturday, Sep 28th
🏃 Tulsa 5K Rosary/Cathedral Run(Holy Family Cathedral - Tulsa) It's a 5k run or 1 mile walk with a twist. See all the historic churches in downtown Tulsa while participating in the Rosary! It's where prayer meets the pavement! This is a USATF sanctioned race but not chipped timed. Top 3 male and top 3 female finishers will be awarded prizes. Sign up online at http://tulsarosaryrun.com
🏃 Tulsa Bicycle Club Fall Century(Whirlpool Plant - Tulsa) The best fall ride in Oklahoma! Explore the backroads of rural Tulsa county. Add great SAG support, filling and relaxing rest stops, and you get the very best in Oklahoma cycling in the fall. Register soon ... and why not join the Club and save yourself $5 on registration for this ride plus enjoy the many other benefits of membership!
🎭 Chandler Park Open Mic(Chandler Park - Tulsa) Start Time: 6:00pm $2/person. Your chance to be a star! Singing, dance, stand up, poetry; show everyone what you've got! Concessions available. Sign up by phone/at location. 918-591-6053.
Rose District Farmers Market(Rose District Plaza - Broken Arrow) Thru Sat, Oct 26th Start Time: 8:00am different music, events, and guests, each week
Route 66 Cruisers Cruise-In & Car Show(Claremore Lake Park - Claremore) Day 2 of 2 Bring the entire family out to the annual Route 66 Cruisers Cruise-In & Car Show in Claremore to celebrate classic cars…
Soul Fest(Guthrie Green - Tulsa) Don't miss one of Guthrie Green's biggest music events of the year during Soul Fest. This free, family-friendly…
Tulsa State Fair(Expo Square - Tulsa) Thru Sun, Oct 6th Bring the whole family out for Tulsa's largest annual event, the Tulsa State Fair, and enjoy fun-filled, family…
🎓 Tulsa State Fair Draft Horse Show(Expo Square - Tulsa) Day 2 of 2 Start Time: 8:00am Mark your calendars to attend the Tulsa Fair Draft Horse show in Tulsa OK!! September 27 & 28 2019. Hitch, halter, pleasure & riding classes. Obstacle courses. Costume class. Loads of fun! Free for anyone wanting to come watch! Registration deadline August 30th. https://www.tulsastatefair.com/p/getconnected/livestock-and-horse-shows/horsehandbook
🏃 Susan G. Komen Tulsa Race for the Cure(River Spirit Casino - Tulsa) Join us for the Annual Susan G. Komen Tulsa Race for the Cure® starting at the Rivers Spirit Casino Resort. Races will include a half marathon, 5K timed event, 5K untimed event and 1-mile fun run/walk. Visit komentulsa.org for more information!
🎨 Teen Program: Butterfly Gardening and Rock Painting(Tulsa Garden Center - Tulsa) Start Time: 1:00pm Part of the teens-only program! Butterflies are some of the most beautiful and interesting creatures on Earth and they make the world a little more colorful. In this workshop to learn why butterflies are beneficial and how to attract them to your yard. After touring the Linnaeus Butterfly Garden we will be guided in painting beautiful garden…
Les Miserables(Tulsa Performing Art Center - Tulsa) Last Day Experience the award-winning musical phenomenon "Les Miserables" at Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Cameron…
Mickey's Search Party(Expo Square - Tulsa) Last Day Tulsa State Fair attendees can take a break from all the turkey legs and carnival rides with a ticket to Disney on Ice's…
Tulsa State Fair(Expo Square - Tulsa) Thru Sun, Oct 6th Bring the whole family out for Tulsa's largest annual event, the Tulsa State Fair, and enjoy fun-filled, family…
Monday, Sep 30th
🎡 For King & Country(Expo Square - Tulsa) Alright Oklahoma, we know you love for KING & COUNTRY so we're bringing them back! Who wants to go? Want the best seats in the house? Get your River Spirit VIP Section tickets TODAY!
🎡 Mazzio's Ride-A-Thon(Expo Square - Tulsa) Start Time: 11:00am Save $10 on a ride wristband by picking up a coupon at your local Mazzio's (does not include Gate Admission and Extreme Rides). Price without Mazzio's coupon is $45.
🎭 Open Mic(Blackbird On Pearl - Tulsa) Start Time: 8:00pm
Tulsa State Fair(Expo Square - Tulsa) Thru Sun, Oct 6th Bring the whole family out for Tulsa's largest annual event, the Tulsa State Fair, and enjoy fun-filled, family…
Tuesday, Oct 1st
🎡 Alltech's Family Fest(Expo Square - Tulsa) Start Time: 11:00am Gate Admission is only $6 per person; Children (under age 5) are FREE. Seniors (62+) and Military are FREE until 2pm; proper identification required at time of purchase. Not valid with other promotions or offers.
🎨 Clothed in Strength and Dignity(Tulsa Performing Art Center - Tulsa) Start Time: 10:00am Clothed in Strength and Dignity Sept. 5 � Oct 1, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and during Chapman Music Hall events :: PAC Gallery Katie Wheat Pernu has spent most of her life teaching others about art. She holds a degree in Art Education from Northern Arizona University and achieved National Board Certification as an art teacher. She has instructed…
🎡 Lovelytheband(Expo Square - Tulsa) Just go ahead and call us awesomethefair because we just snagged lovelytheband for October 1st! Want the best seats in the house? Get your River Spirit VIP Section tickets TODAY!
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