Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hard Day's Work

Saturday at the Greenmarket was one of those days. By 9:00am, here's what had happened:

--I got chewed out by someone who claimed I was not at the market the week prior. I was. I would know, wouldn't I? I think I know where I am, usually.

--A woman berated me for not warning her that she should not put the aluminum can of syrup into the microwave to heat it up. "You should really tell people about that," she said. "Where have you been since the dawn of microwave technology?" I wanted to ask.

--Someone informed me that I could make a lot more money if only I had "better containers." I don't know what containers would be better. And she didn't suggest any, but just walked away.

--A father suggested that I be careful to sweep up the area around the candy jars so that children don't pick the tiny bits off the ground and eat them. Seriously.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tonight at Nowhere!

Charlie Vazquez, Sam J. Miller, Pietro Scorsone, and me.
Readings and drink specials, as part of the Freak Week festivities.

Wednesday, June 25

Nowhere Bar

322 East 14th Street (btwn 1st and 2nd)
(21+ only)

More info can be found here.

Also, thanks to Alex and Jane, I stole this idea. Over at Wordle, they will make a word cloud of any text that you paste into the "machine," as it were. So here's the word cloud for what I'm reading tonight. See any words you like?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dialogue, 6/2/08

C: "Have you seen that show where they show you what you can get with your money? It's called something like, uh, 'What You Get for the Money.'"

L: "I love that show. Every episode is like "For $18,000 in Shittyville, Nebraska, you can get a thirty-seven room estate complete with full-time staff and gardens....."

C: "....And in New York City, you can basically go fuck yourself before we laugh you out of the mortgage office."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Trash Night

It started with small things
found on the street, or won
from cranky vending machines
in badly lit supermarkets
on Flatbush Avenue.
There, and worse places.
Then came demands.

I realize now that all you wanted
was for the fairness to feel like the solution,
having agreed or disagreed,
then come to something we could both live with.
To make promises and keep them.
You wanted compromise,
the bending suited you.

I took all the trinkets, the bits of cloth and paper,
small flags of hope, like something a bird would bring to her nest to
make it better, to hold her children, to seal out the weather and the hunters.
The brown boots,
the watercolor sets,
the books I tried to read, but couldn't.

What if the next thing, I wondered, is a tree?
Or some other exhaling thing, that will ask me to shift
my behavior from one set of know-hows to another
far more exhausting routine of watering, walking, care and feeding.
Do you understand how
eating something different for breakfast could erase me?

On trash night,
I lined everything up in rows on the sidewalk.
It looked like a garage sale,
everything you ever gave me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

August: Amended

I'd like to amend my previous post, in which I dumped lavish praise onto August: Osage County. For the record, I do think it is deserving of acclaim. Even prizes, I guess, for whatever they are worth. (They're worthless, I think, in esteem. But artists can always use prize money, so there's that.) However, as I get farther away from it, I've started to be less enchanted with the play itself. It's seeming a bit showy.

I'm finding it hard to examine what it is, exactly, that's turning me off. Nothing I can put my finger on. The performances are truly stellar, this is undeniable. But there's something overdone about the whole thing, and it's true that there are some ideas that aren't fully fleshed out--the Native American in the attic is a bit much, for example. It's just that kind of play, I guess--loud, talky, operatic in emotional flare ups. But you gotta hand it to them for trying.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

August: Osage County

August: Osage County is the brutal, funny, debilitatingly-good play by Tracy Letts currently on Broadway, as performed by the Steppenwolf Theater Company. The play recently won the Pulitzer-Prize, and decidedly deserves it. It's about the secrets we bury inside secrets, about the lies we tell and the ones we accept. The cast is flawless, and filled with meaty, complicated, real roles for lots of women, something you don't see much of, it seems. The actors are like Olympians here, at the top of their game, bringing the most ridiculously skilled craft to the stage. Needless to say, perhaps, but I loved it.

It's a play that gets people excited. The audience reacts like they're at a cockfight, not watching a family drama about consequences that reverberate through generations. I think some of this audience rowdiness has to do with the fact that the people on stage are telling the truth to each other, which is something very few people ever do in life, let alone within their family structure. (Never mind that for the last eight years we've had a government that does not tell us the truth, and a media that does not tell us the truth.) Thus, the play actually performs a deep, real catharsis. In Who's Afriad of Virginia Woolf?, another play in which the actors tell each other the blistering, fundamental truth, you are left, in the end, with the unbearable amount of love and devotion that the George and Martha have for each other. In Osage County, however, whether or not anyone cares for anyone in such a deep human way is suspect, if not impossible. There are no happy endings. There is no redemption.

As entertaining as the actor's phenomenal performances, was the equally brutal performance by the young woman sitting behind me, who, during each of the two intermissions, spoke loudly--quite loudly--to her companion about The Theater. By this, I mean, the business of Broadway. She held an internship somewhere and was considering moving to an internship at Bravo or Cosmo or 'something like that.' She said she didn't want to start out working at The New Yorker because she was still 'young and fresh.' I wondered if getting an internship at these places was as easy as considering taking one, or if everyone at The New Yorker is old and dried-up. She said she was glad to be 'still young enough to wear a Betsey Johnson dress.' "I mean, what am I going to do at 45?" she said, "Go around in a Betsey Johnson dress?"

Everything that came out of her mouth was colored with a youthful inflation, and at the same time, an apathetic resentment of her apparently unchangeable future. She spoke of the importance of internships and the connections and relationships that you make there. "My friend Andrew started out as an intern at ABC and now he's a casting director," she continued without a breath, "so it's all about who you know and who you form these lasting connections with, I mean, once an intern and now he's an assistant to one of the office managers in the casting department." Okay, so, the truth is in the little details. "I'm young, I might as well do this while I can." The unsaid vision of her future was heartbreaking.

She talked about various shows opening to bad reviews or good ones, about which shows were doing well and which were destined to close the day after the upcoming Tony Awards, should they not win anything to keep them afloat. She spoke in the emphatic, dreadful voice of a person who's brainless enough to criticize the Broadway machine, very loudly, during the intermission of a Broadway show. Like the people bitching about editors and publishing houses while riding the F Train in the mornings: The thing about New York is, you never know who is sitting next to you. So shut the fuck up.

I feel lucky to have seen some truly life-altering theater--Cherry Jones' performance in Doubt, Harvey Fierstein's performance in Hairspray, Jennifer Miller in a purple dress show after show after show, for no money, with a bad ankle--but you rarely see such real theater. August: Osage County is the kind of theater that is elevated to the point of art, but rooted somewhere in the lives of regular people. The play was not just happening on stage tonight--loss, regret, anger, bullshit, fantasy--it was, in fact, spilling out of the mouth of the sad, brittle, empty woman behind me.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Reading at Nowhere

Thanks to the intrepid efforts of the fantastically faggy and tremendously talented writer, Charlie Vazquez, I will joining Sam J. Miller, Pietro Scorsone, and Charlie himself for readings and drink specials, as part of the Freak Week festivities.

Wednesday, June 25

Nowhere Bar

322 East 14th Street (btwn 1st and 2nd)
(21+ only)

We've been asked to read "our freakiest shit," so I'm going to see what I can pull out of the archives. Maybe some pages from the new novel?

More info can be found here.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

True Colors Tour

Kip and I went to see the gayest show on earth last night--the True Colors Tour at Radio City Music Hall. Interestingly, the show actually felt less gay than the Dolly Parton show we attended only a month ago at the same venue. The lineup was stellar: The Cliks, Indigo Girls, Regina Spektor, The B-52s, and Cyndi Lauper. Between-set banter was provided by Carson Kressley, Rosie O'Donnell, Kate Clinton and Margaret Cho. Also a special appearance by John Cameron Mitchell. How the stars collide!

Unfortunately, the show all felt a bit lame to me. With so many artists on the bill, and from such wildly different musical spheres, everyone around us felt compelled to blab to their neighbor through the whole show. And since no one felt the need to experience everything each artist had to offer, the aisles were a constant flow of people, everyone getting up to get another drink, squeezing through the rows of seats, texting their top five, or whatever. All the short sets gave the impression that the show never really began. Everyone was distracted.

The Indigo Girls, whom I have been loyal and loving fans of ever since I can remember--the first CD I ever bought was one of theirs--seemed a bit crammed into their too-short set, maybe 30 minutes or so. Most of the people in the audience were not hardcore Indigo fans, and to my dismay and utter heartbreak, during the song Kid Fears, when any other Indigo audience would be singing their hearts out during the Michael Stipe part, there was barely a peep from the crowd of 6,000.

Rosie O'Donnell--whatever her off-stage personality--was rather extraordinary, managing to harness the energy of the whole room during her short talk about her mother and her family, and, hilariously and poignantly, the first time she met Madonna. Perhaps I'm a curmudgeon--okay, I am a curmudgeon--but I don't think that gay marriage is the most important thing in the universe. I'm disinterested in the assimilationist leanings of the Human Rights Campaign, who is the major sponsor of the tour. Their track record of transgendered issues is simply repugnant.

When the B-52s finally hit the stage, everyone seemed a bit exhausted, though we all rallied and sang along. I'm glad Cindy Wilson has returned--her energy is amazing, and balances Kate Pierson's looseness nicely. When she hollered out "Tin roof, rusted!" everybody went bat shit. Cyndi Lauper is flawless, an exploding flash of joy and talent and love, all extremely heartfelt and genuine. We saw her a couple of years ago in the miserable production of Threepenny Opera, and she was the only redeeming note. A few times she ran out into the crowd, leaping onto the seats and singing from the audience. I understood what she was going for.