Thursday, May 31, 2007

John Lahr Tells it


Tennessee Williams on a romantic reawakening


The New Yorker, May 28, 2007

On December 30, 1947, the thirty-six-year-old Tennessee Williams boarded a ship bound for France, sailing away from America and from the tumultuous success on Broadway, only a few weeks earlier, of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Almost immediately, he hit creative still water, finding it “Frightfully hard to discover a new vein of material.” When, in late 1948, his play “Summer and Smoke” failed on Broadway, William’s confidence dipped still further; he felt, he said, like a “discredited old conjurer.” To his champion Brooks Atkinson, the drama critic of the Times, he wrote in June, 1949, “The trouble is that you can’t make any real philosophical progress in a couple of years. The scope of understanding enlarges quite slowly, if it enlarges at all, and the scope of interest seems to wait upon understanding...All artists who work from the inside out, have all the same problem: they cannot make sudden, arbitrary changes of matter and treatment until the inner man is ripe for it.”

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cleaning Out

Memorial Day Weekend around here was not about barbecues or swimming. We cleaned out the garage.

It was such a great thing to do. In Los Angeles, you can take all your cans of old poison and electronics to the toxic waste station downtown...guys in gear take it out of your trunk and they sort it all and take care of it for you in an environmentally conscious fashion. Nice.

Then, of course, once you get to cleaning out the garage, you just want to clean out everything.

I got to looking around at my loose pieces of blog papers and here they are, thus, cleaning up my desk. To purge! To clean! To make way for the new and unusual!

Fourteen pieces of paper:

1) People used to be ignorant because they had too little information. Now they are ignorant because they have too much.

2) One cannot succeed in the United States in a whole way because the pressure is to be both rich and virtuous, simultaneously. This is impossible. It leads to neurotic see-saw behavior.

3) Republicans try to trick people into thinking how they think. They fool people into believing they can become wealthy.

4) People do not behave well because they are modeling bad behavior. At the end of the day, we are a monkey-see-monkey-do sort of species. People watch a lot of television. Actors on television are not quite human. They are distant and do not form real relationships in a show. Partly because it’s a show. Partly because television is fast. When working that fast, it’s hard to show natural human behavior. Because the actor is in a time crunch, stressful situation, the behavior is kind of pulled in and self centered. At least this calms the actors down. And people imitate this behavior. This hall of mirrors is making for some very strange behavior and relationships in the rank and file. I have always felt that the invention of the camera pretty much destroyed depth. Cameras do steal souls.

5) You can be nude in Brattleboro, Vermont whenever and wherever you feel like it. How civilized!

6) Hopefully, the rage instilled by bad parenting does not run out midway through an artistic career.

7) Modern civilization has always been a war between the sensualists and the ideologues.

8) Libertarianism sounds fun...until you imagine catching that bullet because you said, “Have a nice day,” to the wrong person.

9) Alpha males take care of much of the material world. Their payment is that they get to take as much of it as they want. And the lower humans in the pecking order allow it. Like chickens.

10) My drag queen name: Helena Hand Basket

11) My optimistic view of how this right/left conflict will end: Nature seeks peace, so liberals will win.

12) Less cars, better air. Let the jobless from Michigan come to Los Angeles to build the railways! Turn Michigan into a big nature preserve.

13) People do not naturally want others in their personal space so at dinner parties, we have to drug each other to get along.

14) At the end of the day, popularity does decide who lives and who dies.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I didn’t know anything about it, really. We saw ONCE.

I suggest you stop reading this blog entry right now. Come back and read the rest tomorrow after you see this movie tonight.


Okay, have you seen the movie yet?

My experience and thoughts:

Cried through most of it. Okay, I’m half Irish....and there’s the sentiment. But the best kind of sentiment.

And it’s a musical.

A pop one. Kind of light U2. Kind of Cat Stevens. Really good music, if you like the soft modal thing building into the high, searching mourning thing. Suspended chords. Aching stuff. The lead actor, Glen Hansard, is the main guy in the Irish band The Frames. He’s pretty amazing with his acting, singing and hair. And the Czech girl, Marketa Irglova. Also, amazing. She’s so young.

ONCE was made for four cents (okay, $150,000. But in movie terms, that’s like four cents). The story is completely simple but surprising, nevertheless. The acting is spot on perfect. Directing and Shots---spot on, too.

Come on. Really. Go see it if you jumped the asterisks and read this blog entry before seeing the movie. Lyrical. Loving. And the best part is, well, how it all goes...I don’t want to oversell it. I went in knowing nothing. So go in knowing nothing and just enjoy yourself.

I wish I suffered from polydactyl disease so I could give this movie three thumbs up.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My Mutt

I got sucked into MMI Genomics.

For $79, you swab the inside of your dog's cheek and you send it in and you recieve a certificate of your dog's breed.

Louise, which I always assumed was a Maltese/Yorkie is definitely part Yorkshire Terrier. But even more than that, she is a Chihuahua. And Whippet. Whippet! MMI Genomics cannot test for Maltese, so I still guess she is part Maltese. Her face is just like a Maltese and so is her fur. Though I am not surprised about Chihuahua. She was an LA stray, after all. When we first got her and she was all mangy, she looked very much like a Chihuahua. I thought, "I have the ugliest little inner city dog, ever!"

But then her fur grew in with the obvious markings of a Yorkie and the ears and coat of a Maltese. I figured she was a mix. If she had been at least 50% one breed, that would have showed up as a primary category. But she isn't that. Louise is, get ready, a mutt.

A brown, black, silver and white mutt made of Chihuahua, Whippet, Yorksire Terrier and probably Maltese. I love her so much.

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Oy! The Virgins!

So there I was at the gym, doing the elliptical. Trying to keep down the tonnage...

And who’s up on the screen? Justin Timberlake. Some video. I have no idea which one. They all look the same to me. But then, I’m not a teenager who can distinguish the subtle differences between throbbing pop offerings.

But there it was, the video, in all its unoriginality. Justin, singing at a mike in some kind of bar, with his homies backing him up (obsequiously, naturally) and there, in the room, dozens of dancing women for him to choose from.

He chooses some. He dances with one in particular. But clearly, it’s all about him having the choice of many.

Is this fantasy any different than the Muslim one of forty virgins at death?

Seems to me, at the fundamental biological level, that men have a fantasy of having a load of women at their disposal. Is it distasteful? To some, sure. Is it wrong? No. It just is. Men are like that. If they weren’t like that, the species would not continue.

So, no need to put down the Islamic men who are waiting for their virgins in heaven. It’s not much different than the video fantasy that was in my face at the gym. It’s just that we’re a material culture so we actually make our fantasies come true, or at least play at them in front of the camera and sell it on television.

The longer I watch human beings collide, the more it seems to me that most behavior is just plain biological. It gets expressed differently in different cultures, but the root is the same.

In fact, the most ludicrous acts or the strangest customs, when deconstructed, end up about as prosaic as someone trying to pick someone up at the grocery store for sex. Or for food. Or for both.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Let's Say This Together



Tying health insurance to employers?

All that says is, “Work or Die.”

The United States of America is a work camp.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Play's the Thing

The problem with plays that involve audience participation is the audience. A few meek men with small appeal become emboldened by their new found vocal power in public and they dominate the evening with their clever ravings. They do not take into consideration that they’ve had their turn. As the night wears on, their outbursts become increasingly more stupid at grand frequencies. The annoying honking deafens sensible theatre goers. The ignorant and greasy self appointed court jesters bleat their poor suggestions and odd non sequiturs to such great distraction, that one wishes for a bomb scare. These men lack wit. They darken the evening. They sadden the future.

By the end of the night, one does not remember the show. One only remembers the howling of the weirdos.

So, I promise myself, “Never Again!” And I start my life anew.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Death gives life tempo.

Life without tempo would be so much less interesting.

Ultimately Failed

Regarding the Pope’s recent visit to Brazil and his admonishing the listeners for their pleasure-filled way of life, I came to realize Christianity is a failed philosophy-game.

Like Marxism, which did not take into account the ambition and initiative of the individual, Christianity, as preached, does not take into account the sensuality or the creative thinking of the human being.

If Christianity was truly success oriented, it would have had an inclusive policy. It did bend enough to enfold a couple of pagan things like Easter eggs and Christmas trees, but not enough. It turned a blind eye to most individual creativity. It continues to strive to convince and thus continues warring. It fails to conquer.

I believe being unsuccessful is choosing to be in eternal conflict. Relationships or careers that are unsuccessful have the sting of endless combativeness. Christianity has this same thrust.

Buddhism seems to encompass a wider scope of the human experience, but it does not take into account aggression. At least the Western sales force of Buddhism has not presented any kind of aggression as part of the package. Without facing aggression, Buddhism can only fail.

Judaism, one cannot say anything about it, unless one is to be accused of anti-Semitism, so I must leave the Jews alone to circumcision and the boiling of chickens. They are still bruised from their horrendous treatment during the twentieth century. Let them heal, deal, reinvent the wheel.

I do not know enough about the Hindu or Islamic faiths to make any sweeping remarks. But they just don’t feel that winning to me.

If someone wants to win this philosophy/faith contest, they are going to have to come up with a bigger tent, a grander scheme, a material acceptance and an acknowledgment of individual creativity and power. The only way to end all this conflict is to decide to win, absolutely. And the only way to win is to actually have something that works. It can be worldwide. It might be something very simple. Like salt. No one fights any longer over salt. See its ubiquity and how calmness surrounds it? The war about salt is over.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ralph Ellison

All novels are about certain minorities: the individual is a minority.
-1955 Paris Review interview

Tuesday, May 15, 2007



I think cabaret shows are where it’s at. First of all, you can drink. Secondly, you can write patter that is rated X and no one minds...and they may even laugh. Thirdly, everyone gets to drink, did I say that? And of course, the last thing is, you get to hear all these people sing.

The cool think about singing is people really do have unique voices. Of course, I’m a sound and language person more than a visual I might be biased. But there’s something about how a person sounds that really appeals to me. Even if it’s in a low ceiling bar in Silverlake on a Monday night. Even if the bar is packed to capacity. Even if the bar smells like ass.

We raised 1700 bucks. It was worth it. And we all got to sing.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Medieval Germany

This building is from the Fourteen-hundreds? Yes. Except now it operates as a hotel. Where we stayed. Witches nearby. In the Hartz Mountains. I strongly recommend Goslar.

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Loft Living

Hamburg's old warehouses---pretty cool.

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Market Town. Former East Germany. Wonderful.

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Rape Seed

Germany is basically yellow. And no billboards.

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Hitler's podium. Freaky. Wrong. Decaying. Oddly, the Germans like to rollerblad in this area. Simply, it's because there is so much asphalt. A practical people.

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Come on! This place is so middle ages charming, you could put your chatty wife in a bronze shame mask, complete with long, ugly metal tongue.

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How Lucky

To still have this ancient town on earth. Rothenburg.

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Fresh Air

Just the sound of "Alp" makes you happy.

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Lilac Season

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So Great to Have All Your Meat...

In Tubes

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The Superior Race?

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Thursday, May 10, 2007


Monday night. May 14. in Silverlake. 8PM. 2538 Hyperion Avenue

HOW SILVERLAKE WAS WON! A jukebox musical about, well, how Silverlake was settled. Written by me and others.
Sung by twenty people.

Hosted by a huge drag queen.

A fundraiser for West Coast Ensemble.

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