Category Archives: News

Holiday Letter 2016 (Skip’s part only)

My wife & daughter have stronger senses of privacy that I do, so we generally don’t put our family holiday letter up on the Net, or even send it out as email. (You’re either on The List or you’re not.)

But this year, it so happened that I took up one side of the page all by myself, and I kinda don’t mind who knows what’s in it. This is because (a) there are a couple of links in there to stuff I feel is pretty important and could use some wider propagation, and (b) there’s nothing sensitive or particularly “private” about it…  So, if you’re interested, and you haven’t gotten your copy in the mail, check it out by clicking the link below – and if not, then “Happy Merries!” to you anyway!

Skip’s Holiday Letter 2016 (PDF)

Parallel Universe News: Trump Forces Take Wichita

In one of the parallel universes where Hillary won, pro-Trump forces have taken over Wichita and declared an independent republic. National Guard troops have been ordered to stay out of the city by Gov. Brownback, and remain stationed in the suburbs. Reports of “ethnic cleansing” of neighborhoods could not be confirmed, since all reporters and media personnel have been ejected except for those working at the local FOX station, which is reporting that everything is “fine and under control.”

President Obama and President-Elect Clinton have urged calm, and called for talks with the rebel leaders, whom Clinton says “have legitimate grievances that must be heard if we are to move forward together as a country.” Sporadic fighting continues in Atlanta, Austin, St. Louis, and other major cities, though casualties remain light so far.

There has still been no comment from Trump Tower, where Donald Trump and his family are under 24-hour protection from the NYPD, the Secret Service, and Trump’s own security forces. NYC Mayor De Blasio has extended the protective cordon around Trump Tower for an additional block in all directions. The 6 PM curfew for non-shoppers remains in effect, as does a ban on all drone flights within the city.


Announcing a new venture (well, not a new venture, really, just a better name for what I’ve been doing all along):

The purposes of the CITIZENS CREATIVE rubric are twofold:

  1. To encourage the development of creativity in thought and expression
  2. To encourage the application of creative thought to the social and political challenges we face.

I pursue these goals in a number of ways – through conducting workshops, giving performances, and writing. As I said above, this is actually what I’ve been doing all along – but having a name and a framework like this, I think, helps to define and focus my efforts.  Under this heading, I could also publish books (“Citizens Creative Press”!), present performances (“Citizens Creative Productions”!), sponsor conferences, etc.

For now, it’s just a plain ol’ sole-proprietorship kinda thing… but later, we might look at making it a real live nonprofit with memberships and swag and everything.  But you can certainly  help – any contributions towards getting this endeavor off the ground (and also, incidentally, keeping yours truly on top of the ground) would be much appreciated… ! Checks can be sent to PO Box 368, Honesdale PA 18431;  prayers, beams, and good wishes can be sent directly, or via the Higher Power of your choice.

The first scheduled activity will be the Green Corpuscle production I mentioned before (working title FOURTEEN CHILDREN), which is also being made possible in part by a grant from the Puffin Foundation.  Plans for other activities and any other news will be reported as they happen!

Local Performer Receives Grant


28 June 2010
for immediate release
for more information contact Skip Mendler, Director, 570-352-5769


(HONESDALE) – Local performer and activist Skip Mendler has received a grant from the Puffin Foundation of Teaneck, NJ to develop a new production exploring Americans’ reactions to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Tentatively entitled “Fourteen Children,” the production will combine material from existing texts (such as Caryl Churchill’s controversial play “Seven Jewish Children”) and original material created collaboratively by the performers.

Skip Mendler has been a professional performer since graduating from Harvard College in 1978. He was a member of the TOUCH Mime Theatre in North Carolina from 1984 to 1988, and has also performed with John Bromberg’s puppetry group Pictures Moved by Strings. His latest solo performance, “Ballots, Bullets, and Bagatelles,” premiered at the North American Cultural Laboratory (NACL) in October 2006. He is interested in using the arts to promote social progress and economic justice in ways that entertain and encourage as well as inform. “Fourteen Children” will be the first project of a new venture, Green Corpuscle, which will create and perform works designed to do just that.

Rehearsals will begin in mid-July, with performances slated to begin in late September or early October. People who may be interested in participating in the production can contact Skip at 570-352-5769, or via email at


Beginning Nov. 3: Aikido class at Himalayan Institute Main Street, Honesdale

It’s official – I’ll be teaching a class entitled “Aikido: Self Defense with a Peaceful Spirit” at the Himalayan Institute’s Main Street facility, 630 Main Street in Honesdale PA, beginning on Tuesday November 3.  The class will meet from 4:15-5:15 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Each class is $7 for members, $10 for nonmembers.  Come join us!

DEADLINE EXTENDED (AGAIN)! The “Not a Plutocracy?” $20 Challenge

Given the way the health care debate has gone, it now seems that the insurance and pharmaceutical companies (a/k/a the “medical-industrial complex”) will once again come out on top, despite the express wishes of a good-sized chunk of the American people for some kind of public/government-funded insurance  option. The corporations and their lackeys have pulled out all the stops to confuse and frighten the American public.  Corporate control of politicians and media seems practically unshakeable.  This leads me to wonder if we oughtn’t just make a few little tweaks to the Constitution and codify what appear to be the facts-on-the-ground: that this is actually a plutocratic country, with decisions being made by the wealthiest folks, for the benefit of the wealthiest folks, all dressed up in a cynical “democratic” shell.

But maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe this really is still a democracy.  Maybe there are times when the wealthy interests lose out (or at least don’t get everything they want) in favor of the general welfare, or in response to the wishes of the people .  Maybe there are even times when wealthy interests VOLUNTARILY take a hit because it would serve the greater good.

So here’s the deal.  I’ve got $20 (not much, I know, but this SHOULD be easy, right?) that I will give to the person who can offer the most convincing evidence refuting the following assertion: “At present, the United States of America is a de facto plutocracy.”

This evidence could be presented in the form of an essay, a video rant, a list of facts, a dramatic dialogue, an interpretive dance, a crayon drawing scrawled on a napkin, a PowerPoint preso, whatever. My decision will be my own, quite possibly arbitrary, and it’ll be final. If I can’t make a final decision among a bunch of similarly-qualified entrants, I’ll commit some random act to determine the winner.  I also reserve the right to declare NO winner at all. All entries remain property of their creators, so you can republish or do whatever you want (that’s only fair), but by sending in your entry you grant me permission to publish it on this blog.  Send your entry (or a URL pointer to it) to smendler[at]; include the word “PLUTOCRACY” in the subject line.  Deadline (twice extended!) is 11:59:59 PM ET on OCTOBER 31, 2010.  Good luck!

Dr. Mort Malkin Has Some Answers to the Healthcare Problem

Local fitness expert Dr. Mort Malkin thinks he sees the solution to health care reform – not just different organizational schemes or payment methods, mind you, but the way to fix the very process of “health care” itself, including finding the money to pay for comprehensive universal coverage.

The answer, says Dr. Malkin, is simple: creating a true “culture of health,” including lectures and courses promoting “primary preventive medicine” in every community around the nation.

Malkin, author of Aerobic Walking – The Weight-Loss Exercise and the forthcoming Health Care Reform: No Politics Required, points out that according to the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, as much as 70% of all chronic disease could be prevented with simple lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation, better diet, proper exercise, and improved stress management. Such a reduction, he reasons, would then free up more than enough money to pay for a robust “public option” and make universal single-payer health care financially viable. “There can be no political argument against promoting prevention and personal responsibility,” says Malkin. “Moreover, health education is dirt cheap compared to the costs of coronary bypass surgery, diabetic coma, back surgery, and all the prescription medications Americans consume.”

Malkin’s theories are supported by a recent study involving more than 3000 patients, divided into three groups.  One group followed a diet & exercise regimen backed up with individual counseling, another was given medication to control blood sugar, and the third was the requisite “control group.”  Over the following years, 28.9% of the controls developed diabetes, 21.7% of the medication group became diabetic, but only 14.1% of the diet & exercise group contracted the disease.  “The key,” says Malkin, “was the counseling.” Malkin believes that the motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle doesn’t come from “food pyramids” or public-service announcements on billboards, but rather requires ongoing people-to-people contact between citizens and professional health educators in classrooms, workplaces, and parks.

Malkin would have public health professionals trained in the arts and sciences of teaching healthy lifestyle change, and make 10-week instructional programs available for all citizens, community by community.  The long-term result, he maintains, would be a healthier, more productive, and more energetic populace – plus a cut of at least 50% in health care costs.  “With the $800 billion savings,” says Malkin, “the uninsured can be covered, premiums for the rest of us can be reduced – and there will be money left over for Belgian chocolates (for mental health).”