BRYAN CRANSTON DISCUSSES LEGAL TWISTS AND TURNS ON SHOWTIME’S ‘YOUR HONOR’ and his membership in the Universal Life Church

I joined the Universal Life Church in 1968, along with many others for five dollars unless a title was desired which cost upwards of $25 to be a Father/Brother/Hadji/Enlightened One. A real rogue gallery of draft resisters/dodgers from the Viet Nam War, tax cheaters or those who just wanted to be recognized as holy men/women. The five dollar admission gave certain entitlements and public recognitions (ecclesiastical discounts and ministerial parking) that recognized one to perform weddings, funerals and baptisms … Brian Cranston was also a member in good standing … enjoy the interview.

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Bryan Cranston stars as a judge whose son is involved in a hit-and-run in New Orleans in the new Showtime series, Your Honor. He speaks with NPR’s Scott Simon.

~~~ LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW ~~~

SCOTT SIMON, HOST: 

Michael Desiato of New Orleans seems to be a conspicuously good judge who encourages all in his courtroom – defendants, police, attorneys – to be conscientious. But one day, his son drives home on the anniversary of his mother’s death, can’t reach his asthma inhaler under the seat of the car and runs over another boy on his new motorcycle. He breaks down before his father, the judge.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, “YOUR HONOR”)

BRYAN CRANSTON: (As Michael Desiato) Adam, you drove away before the EMTs arrived.

HUNTER DOOHAN: (As Adam Desiato) I tried to help him, but I couldn’t get him to breathe.

CRANSTON: (As Michael Desiato) So you called 911?

DOOHAN: (As Adam Desiato) I tried to, but…

CRANSTON: (As Michael Desiato) What do you mean tried to, Adam? Is it yes or no?

DOOHAN: (As Adam Desiato) Help me please, Dad. I couldn’t breathe.

CRANSTON: (As Michael Desiato) OK. Shh. Shh. Shh. Shh. Shh. I got you, buddy. I got you.

SIMON: “Your Honor” is a 10-part Showtime series that begins tomorrow night, Sunday, December 6. It stars Bryan Cranston, Hunter Doohan and Sofia Black-D’Elia. Bryan Cranston, the Emmy, Tony, Golden Globe and Olivier Award-winning actor joins us now from Los Angeles. Thanks so much for being with us.

CRANSTON: My pleasure, Scott. Good to be with you.

SIMON: Oh, my word. What a series this is. What we see is a terrible mistake and a tragedy. What makes a good man like Judge Desiato do what he winds up doing?

CRANSTON: I think what happens to Michael is the same thing that would happen to most anyone. Despite your righteousness and your desire to do the right thing in any given situation, if given a condition that you think your child is in mortal danger, all bets are off. And it becomes more of an animalistic reaction to something.

And that’s what happened to Michael. He is ready to put his son into the judicial system, take responsibility and accountability for what he’s done, leaving the scene of an accident, which constitutes a crime. So we need to do the right thing. And I convince him to do just that. And we go to the police station to turn him in. And I’m ready to do that until I see the parents of the boy who was killed.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, “YOUR HONOR”)

CRANSTON: (As Michael Desiato) Jimmy Baxter is the head of the most vicious crime family in the history of this city. Do you understand what that means?

And I know with no uncertain terms that that man would seek out and kill my son if he knew. So I do an about-face. I tell my son, get back in the car. We’re changing the equation.

SIMON: The judge tells his son at one point, Adam, this is the rest of our lives. And I’m sure you’re good and tired of “Breaking Bad” comparisons, but it struck me when I heard you deliver that line that we’re getting a glimpse of a good man’s capacity for criminal behavior.

CRANSTON: There are similarities. But what I realized in looking and crafting Michael to be different is that Walter White was methodical in his endeavor. He planned it out. He knew exactly what he wanted to do and where and how to get there. Michael Desiato has to make an impulsive decision to save the life of his son. He doesn’t have the luxury of time to be able to think down the road what is going to be the ripple effect of this decision.

SIMON: And I have to ask, the father of Sofia Black-D’Elia is a judge in New Jersey. Did she ever sidle over to you and say, no, no, no, no…

CRANSTON: (Laughter).

SIMON: …That’s not the way you use a gavel, or something like that?

CRANSTON: No. What’s interesting is that I when I went to New Orleans, I was in courthouses for two weeks just doing some research and observing judges. And it’s really interesting, the vast difference of personalities.

SIMON: Did anyone ever say to you, excuse me, “Malcolm In The Middle” – you’re the dad, right? – or anything like that?

CRANSTON: Yes, unfortunately. I was working with David Duchovny years ago on “X-Files,” and we were talking about that. And this is before “Malcolm In The Middle,” and so I had anonymity. And I was able to do an actor’s work, which is basically observing human behavior anywhere. I could go anywhere and do anything, and no one would pay me any attention. And I said, how is that for you? And he said, well, it’s nearly impossible now because the observer has become the observed.

SIMON: Yeah.

CRANSTON: But, yeah, it’s – it was a little different. I had to kind of discount some of the behavior of the judges that I was observing.

SIMON: Can you tell us about the time in your life when, according to reports, you were a waiter, a security guard and a Universal Life minister performing weddings?

CRANSTON: Yeah. It’s, you know, one of those things. I spent the summers of 18, 19 and 20 years old on Catalina Island, which is about 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, Newport Beach area. And it was – it’s a beautiful resort town. The tough part is finding a place to live. I did find a place to live with a great guy who eventually married me to my wife 31 years ago. His name is Reverend Bob.

SIMON: Oh.

CRANSTON: And Reverend Bob came to me one day and said, I need your help. I’ve made a mistake. I’ve accidentally booked two weddings at the same time.

SIMON: (Laughter).

CRANSTON: You need to do one of them. And I said, I can’t do that. He goes, no, no. It’s the Universal Life Church. Come here. Follow me. He had his IBM Selectric in there. And he put an official piece of paper in her, typed in my name, sent it off to the secretary of state of California. And he said, this will go through. You’ll be registered and legally able to marry people. Here’s a book from Kahlil Gibran. Here’s some poems. Here’s where the groom signs.

SIMON: Oh, this is lavish.

CRANSTON: And here’s your address. You’re going to the Van Nuys Airport.

I have shorts. I have hair down to my shoulders. And they said, oh, you’re the minister? And I go, yeah (laughter). And we get into this six-seater plane, the pilot and myself in the front…

SIMON: Yeah.

CRANSTON: …The bride and groom in the middle, best man and the maid of honor in the back. And he said, well, let’s start when we get over the Hollywood sign. And the engine’s going. I’m looking forward. My heart is up in my throat. I look back at them. Their hands are clasped together. This is their wedding.

SIMON: Yeah.

CRANSTON: And they’re looking at me to officiate this and be serious and sincere about this. And I took a deep breath, and then I just turned around in my seat, and I started yelling to get over the sound of the engine.

SIMON: Oh, my God.

CRANSTON: I’m going, do you take John (ph) to be your husband, you know, to have and to hold? And I’m screaming this out. And I just said, this is a performance. Just own it.

SIMON: Yeah.

CRANSTON: Dive into it, and do the best you can. And that was the first of maybe 12…

SIMON: Wow.

CRANSTON: …Ceremonies that I officiated.

SIMON: I find that very moving.

CRANSTON: (Laughter).

SIMON: Bryan Cranston – his new series on Showtime is “Your Honor.” Your Honor, thank you very much for being with us.

CRANSTON: Thank you, Scott. It was a pleasure.

Sitting proud …

Paul Sibley roosting with pride in the ranch rig he stole from an old man that also gave up his Marshall property in a case of grand theft robbery (according to Billy Roos) which soon became infamous as Macho Acres.

For a longer version of a life of debauchery & ordinary madness, please check out The Colorado Nut Story.

total de crédito, Stephen Collector

stephencollector.com

~~~

Sib with a few more years on him, deep in restoration of an old hippie/meth bus he found abandoned in front of his place near the Stoned Barn Farm

crédito total de la foto

kda and Karl Arndt

The Loyalty Dance

Everyone should know the steps. If you have a boss you definitely need to practice. That’s just the way it’s always been … dance a little dance …

The “loyalty dance,” or zhongziwu (忠字舞), was a collective dance that became prevalent during the Cultural Revolution, at a time when Mao Zedong and his image reigned supreme over all aspects of life in China. The dancers, grasping their copies of the “little red book,” Quotations From Chairman Mao, would dance, leap and shout to the impassioned ring of the music – all to express their boundless loyalty to the Chairman.

The “loyalty dance” was a fixture of China’s Cultural Revolution, and Kang Wenjie’s performance at a giant Maoist teach-in was boffo. (Li Zhensheng / Contact Press Images)

FREEDOM AS THE MUZZLE OF A GLOCK

In western Colorado, the election is about “not having the government think for us, the right to protect ourselves.”

Roger Cohen

By Roger Cohen

Credit…Jason Connolly/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

RIFLE, Colo. — At the Shooters Grill, whose waitresses pack heat, I found Gary Nichols enjoying a burger. A man with bright blue eyes and a shock of gray hair, he got right to the point.

“Trump has my vote,” he told me. “I’ll go with whoever supports my beliefs and my freedom.”

For Nichols, an investigator in the sheriff’s office in nearby Moffat County, where he’s worked for more than 35 years, the Second Amendment is “probably top of the lot.” The right to carry a gun “is just a basic freedom,” he argued. “It’s about individual choice, self-thinking, not having the government think for us, the right to protect ourselves.”

Look, Nichols said, “this is how we started. People came here, out to the West. They worked hard, helped their neighbor. America was not about government interference. It was about doing the right thing. Biden and Harris are way to the left of what I consider good for America. They’re always putting America down. I believe in this country.”

There you have it. The soul of America is on the ballot Tuesday, any way you look at it. For Joe Biden and the Democrats, the election is about rescuing American democracy and restoring decency in a nation dragged into the mire by President Trump’s lies, self-obsession, racism and creeping autocracy. It’s about firing a corrupt charlatan who has sullied the Oval Office and sown the violence that could well erupt after the vote.

For the Trump Party, still known for some reason as the Republican Party, it’s about preserving American self-reliance — the God-fearing, straight-talking and gun-toting heart of the frontier — against Biden’s politically correct socialist takeover. It’s about the unbridled spirit of the land of the free, where no pandemic should shutter business.

These two Americas often live in proximity. Rifle, a small conservative ranching town, is a little more than an hour’s drive from the Democratic stronghold of Aspen, where the “Aspenites,” as they are known here, hold festivals on the state of the world. But they might as well be on different planets, so impossible has dialogue become.

Trump, a multimillionaire from Queens, has exploited this division with astute cynicism. He does not know which way is up with a Bible, could not shoot an elk if it stood in front of him on Fifth Avenue, and has no idea what morality means. Yet he has become the hero of millions of upstanding, churchgoing, rural Americans like Nichols, who grew up with guns and have never had it easy. The president’s political heist defines demagogy in the digital age.

I put this to Nichols. Sure, he told me, Trump says things that make him cringe. “If he were a member of my congregation, I’d probably go over and talk to him.” But that’s small stuff. Trump, he said, “stands against abortion, kept us out of wars, brought industry back, defended the Second Amendment and is big on fossil fuel. We cannot go solar overnight.”

I looked around the restaurant. Waitresses with guns holstered on their hips. A cardboard cutout of Trump with a red MAGA hat. Signs saying, “We don’t call 911, we use Colt.” And “Smith & Wesson spoken here.” And “Keep Calm and Carry.” And “God, guns, Trump.” And “Don’t Tread on me.” Copies of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

The Shooters Grill is owned by Lauren Boebert, a 33-year-old hard-right Republican who, as my colleague Carl Hulse observed, has something of the combative flourishes of Sarah Palin. Boebert, who did not respond to a request for an interview, beat Representative Scott Tipton, the five-term Republican in Colorado’s Third Congressional District, to win her way into the general election. Despite several brushes with the law — including a citation for disorderly conduct and a recent cease-and-desist order for allowing indoor dining despite quarantine restrictions — she’s in a tight race against Diane Mitsch Bush, the Democratic candidate.

Credit…Emily Kask/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Credit…Emily Kask/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Colorado has been losing its swing-state status as an influx of immigrants and young people has settled in the more urban and liberal Front Range, east of the Rockies. That, combined with Trump fatigue, has nudged the state into what looks like secure blue territory. But Boebert’s outspoken campaign, symbolized by the Glock 26 on her hip, has resonated.

It’s that soul thing. “We are in a battle for the heart and soul of our country,” she likes to say — a Biden-through-the-glass-darkly riff. Or, “Our country is on the line.” For Boebert, a mother of four boys, who quit high school her senior year before earning a G.E.D. certificate, her hardscrabble battle to make it defines the can-do American spirit Democrats want to stifle.

“Hell no, you’re not,” she famously declared when Beto O’Rourke, then a Democratic presidential candidate, said, “Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

Lauren Boebert campaigned last month.
Lauren Boebert campaigned last month.Credit…Brunner Kelsey for The New York Times

Boebert is backed by Lanny and Jonilyn Hall, two “1,000 percent” Trump supporters, who were also lunching at the Shooters Grill. They moved west from what Lanny called “the communist state of Washington, D.C.” He has grown his blond hair long and won’t cut it until the “propaganda bull” of the virus is over. “It’s my Covid rebellion,” he told me. As for Biden, “If he wins, he’ll open borders and give immigrants everything we worked for.”

Jonilyn Hall, who drives a school bus, loves Trump because he “has done a lot for the vets,” and her father, who will turn 100 next month, fought in World War II. “Our country is special,” she told me, “and with the Democrats we’ll lose that Constitution.” She worries about violence after the election. “There is going to be chaos,” she said, “and those Democrats and liberals will be to blame.”

Everyone I spoke to in Rifle agreed that the election would not go smoothly. Tamara Degler, the owner of the Crescent Moon Spiritual Goods store and a former nurse, told me, “Protests? Violence? Yes, for certain.” She called Trump “a high-vibration person sent to guide us through this time.”

It’s Trump, of course, who has done everything he can to stir doubt and violence around the election. He will not go easily. But in the world of Rifle, it’s Black Lives Matter pillagers who have created this America pregnant with tumult.

As I was talking to the Halls, one of those gun-holstered waitresses approached me to say she had spoken to Boebert, who did not want me interviewing people in her restaurant. I stepped outside and carried on the conversation there.

When I went back to my table, she approached me again to say Boebert wanted me out of the restaurant. Period. On what grounds? “She just wants you out.”

So much for “freedom,” Boebert’s slogan on her campaign posters. So much for freedom of expression and the freedom to talk to people who think differently. So much for the freedom of the press and that free American “spirit.”

That’s what freedom may look like in a second Trump term: more the my-way-or-the-highway muzzle of a Glock than the liberty enshrined by the Constitution and the rule of law.