Thursday, April 29, 2010

New York Is

Sometimes when I walk these streets while listening to all the sirens and the honking, I witness people from all walks of life dressed in their chosen socio-economic drag in order to solidify their place in this concrete pile of a city, some of them who only know the word Fuck, some of them with frozen faces of hostile greed, many of them bewildered and in various states of urban desire, I come to the conclusion that this big apple of a town is just like Colonial Williamsburg and the people in it are just acting their parts for the entertainment pleasure of the tourists.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tonight's Blog is Brought to You by Nyquil

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Walking Makes You Think

Hiding out in my apartment as the pollen count climbs to ten-zswadrillion particles per milliliter, one’s mind slows down.

There is something about walking outside that really shakes things up. You get the new ideas, the new connections. It makes you understand that there is really almost never a reason to sit-and-think. In fact, sitting and thinking probably brings you tired answers. Being engaged in activity is zippy and gives rise to original thought, at least for me.

Also, talking to others.

Taking a shower.

In fact, anything in the bathroom seems to give rise to new ideas.

Drugs and booze do this, too---but you don’t want to rely on that.

Sitting in a different spot can help. Although it can be scary.

It is strange when the pollen takes over. I have no choice but to respect Momma Nature when this is going on. (And mold in October on the leaves). It always gives me a different perspective and a slightly different way of thinking.

I love trees so much. Apparently, they planted too many of just a few types in cities, this is why people are more allergic than ever.

Like anyone else with a handicap, I experience limitation. But luckily it is seasonal. But it makes you think about thinking. Maybe here is the gratitude: all things that change you for better or for worse do something to your personality. And maybe that’s not a bad thing. Slowing down is interesting. But I do prefer my faster thoughts.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Promises Promises

So many reviews of Promises Promises out there, none of them great. There seems to be a feeling that the show is lacking in wattage. I have to say, I thought the proceedings were quite lively, the design quite beautiful and the acting and singing, for the most part, quite wonderful. What is it with critics? I guess they have a preconceived notion about how things should go. My biggest beef was that Sean Hayes didn't sing all that well---but no one else shared my opinion, so it was probably just jealousy on my part, having never starred in a Broadway play or nuttin. Ms. Chenoweth sang amazingly and yes, she was a bit long in the toothies to be up there as the ingenue. Whatever.

It's always good to hear Burt Bacharach live. And it was fun to go to opening night, Neil Simon and Burt up on stage for the curtain call, the apres party at The Plaza Hotel, star studded in a very homey way, people yacking and mingling and eating and drinking.

Go see the play. It's schnazzy. And the opening scene of Act II is so funny, a rough pickup on Christmas Eve, it is worth the price of admission. Brilliant.

But back to the party.

I realized something about New York City last night. It really is colonial Williamsburg. All tarted up in its special way and people acting accordingly to make it seem authentic. The rococo style of the grand ballroom of the Plaza is so silly. Our good friend Chrissy calls the style, "Hungarian Whorehouse."

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Muslim Target

We've been researching neighborhoods in New York. Went down to northern Battery Park City which calls itself Tribeca. We walked by the new World Trade Center iron going up. This is the new single tower they are building to replace the two towers that pancaked into a cloud after those Isalmic lunatics destroyed them with their planes they hijacked.

This construction looks solid and old fashioned to me. Good luck.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

More Volcanic Activity

I have a play that is in development here in New York. It is called A GOOD SMOKE. New York producers like to have readings, lots of them.

We put together a reading starring a couple of Broadway actors. But one of them is in a show right now, La Cage aux Folles. But wait. That pesky volcano spurted more lava my way.

Many of the London producers and the legendary Jerry Herman were stuck in New York when they should have been in London, southeast of Iceland and unfortunately shrouded in ash.

They had nothing to do so they decided to call a special rehearsal and notes session for La Cage and so my actor who was free today was plucked away from me by bored volcano victims.

But luckily, my grand reading producer, KS, jumped right up there and took the role and he was brilliant. It was like a modern Mother Earth plot of All About Eve.

But with a happier ending.

KS was brill. The day was an enjoyable success. Though I did tuck my bunchy button down shirt into my underwear to keep it smooth and in place and after everyone had left, Adam pointed to my lower back and said, “Did you know the band of your underwear is showing in the back?”

Which, of course, had nothing to do with the volcano.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Public Service Announcement

I just have to write it every couple of months for all my Open Trenchers to Read:

1)Update your anti-virus software and do a full scan.

2)Go into your web browser under Internet Options and Delete your history, cookies, etc.

3)BACK UP YOUR DAMN HARD DRIVE. Summer’s coming. Electrical storms are near. Volcanoes are erupting. Bunnies are chewing everything. Back it up. Pictures, Music, Videos, Web faves, Data bases, Everything.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Volcanic Panic

While walking back to my apartment on this beautiful clear sky evening, I saw two men talking, one was tall and lost and sounded and looked German, the other one was an average height Queens guy. The German was asking for help and the Queens guy didn’t understand him, got frustrated and fled. I decided to turn around and help…Hell, I took one semester of German.

I asked the guy what language he spoke and he said German and I said, “Ich kanne ein bichen Deutsche sprechen.” After that he spoke rapidly and with some distress and I didn’t understand a word he said, unless he massacred a little English, which he did. Something about his son in Miami. Then, he showed me his cell phone and was asking if the number displayed was a Miami number. His son lives in Miami. This man had just left Miami, “Where it was nice and warm and the people were nice.” He was unhappy with being in New York. Had no plans to be here. And he asked me three different times if, “This is Chelsea.” I said, sadly, “No. Queens.”

He was staying in an apartment in our building with two women with a small common area, which distressed him. Sounds like they got on some sort of help-and-we’ll-give-you-cash list by some airline. We do not live far from LaGuardia. We are also close-ish to JFK.

So this German guy (from Frankfurt) left his son in Miami, flew to New York and was on his way to Frankfurt when the plane turned around and dropped him back at the airport. Volcanic ash trouble.

But I still did not understand what he wanted. At first, I thought his son was on some sort of lam and this man was trying to figure out, by looking at the area codes, where his son was hiding. But that was not the case as I realized not only had he been to Miami looking for his son, but he actually had been with his son. But what was the deal about this Miami phone number? Basically, it was all about this area code problem and I was trying to look up the area codes on my cell phone web browser but my not-state-of-the-art Samsung Blackjack phone had trouble, so clearly we needed to get to a computer so I could check out this area code, though my phone did show on a googled site, for a second, that it was Miami. But we needed confirmation even though I had no idea why.

So I invited Mr. Deutschland up to my apartment. He was Euro-polite and did not want to intrude and also maybe afraid I was going to chop him up in the bathtub. But we proceeded. I fired up the computer and I looked up the area code and sure enough it was Miami. Then we got to the heart of the trouble. He showed me his phone and he showed me what he had been doing---sometimes placing a 0 in front of the number, sometimes a 1, sometimes a 01. He indicated by deleting numerals that he did not know if these other digits should be there in order to make the dialing go through. Ah! He needed to stop all that. So by miming, I told him to delete the 0 and the 1 and just dial with the area code and phone number and that would work. (Attention all international travelers. Usually when you go to another country your cell phone gets zapped into the local cell system. So dial as if you live there. When in Rome…)

Anyway, he dialed just the area code and phone number and started to hear a ring on the other end and was pleasantly surprised. His son answered, the German language flew, I got every thirtieth word…and I started putting away the day’s stuff, mail, paper, etc. Clearly, there was much talk about flugs, which are flights or planes. His son and he were figuring it all out. The deal: This man had just been in Miami with his son, had left Miami to fly through NYC to go to Frankfurt, came here, got stuck here, got stuck in a small apartment, and wanted to get the hell out of here but could not and so he had to speak to his son in Miami, using the right phone number, who is fluent in German and English to take care of all this.

In the middle of his German conversation on the phone, he shook my hand so as to say goodbye and Danke. And he was out the door and into the elevator.

Volcanoes. Affecting the streets of Queens.

Monday, April 19, 2010

April List

1. I like to find people on Facebook who share my name. It’s a completely shallow connection, but it is fun.

2. Most people with my name are accountants, bankers, insurance men with MBA’s. I see a bit of music in there, too.

3. This spring has been beautiful. The tree flower season is very long.

4. Having a reading this week of my play, A GOOD SMOKE, one mo’ time for the fellas with the producing cred. Development. They call it that. I’m open.

5. Obama is still crafty.

6. The United States is simply changing. Well, I think it is. I remember when Reagan was first elected. I felt like I was hit in the face with a skillet.

7. There are lots of skillets. So get ready.

8. If France is so great, why don’t I live there?

9. Why on earth must I buy a new cell phone every two years?

10. To be alive is pretty simple. You just have to pay attention. And when people try to convince you to not pay attention, pay attention to that.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Republican Friends

I have Republican friends. It’s funny!

What I like about all of them, and I do mean all of them, is they have this wry detachment about the human condition. And why not?

I mean, you might as well consider yourself separate from the crowd because humanity is, ultimately, a big frigging mess.

We all see the rare outstanding things human beings do and we applaud. Great for us! But most actions we witness are simply common. And much human discourse is nothing special, at best, or really stupid and harmful at the worst. So why not have wry detachment and say, “Fuck it! I just want to take care of my own time, my own stack of cash? Okay? Take care of the military and the roads and just leave me alone with all those other people I do not want to have anything to do with. Government, go away, I can take care of myself, and take all those needy frigging brown people with you.”

And I kind of agree. I grew up in a comfy suburb. My life has been weirdly stressful but also incredibly easy.

So I like my Republicans. They are cynical and funny and you can still make an insensitive off-color joke with them and they laugh and no one feels bad for having had a good laugh at someone else’s expense.

Cool. Sure. People are mean. But they don’t really mean it.

But I still want universal health care for all, including all illegal immigrants, fantastic free education for all, through graduate school, extreme government oversight over the markets, with, yes, a world government putting the brakes on things whenever possible.

So I am, of course, a liberal. But I still like to laugh with my harsh, hard working, humorous Republican friends. But we all know my collectivey-touchy-I-love-everyone-man idealistic soul is a rock of forever. But we all get along, my Repubs and me. It isn’t that hard.

Not to be all narcissistic, but why can’t congress do this, too? Everyone has become way too serious and combative. Does anyone laugh at themselves, the human condition, any of it anymore? I believe it is time to get friendly. Stop being so serious about your point of view. It’s only your point of view and you’re just one person and you’re not right, you’re just part of being right. It’s collective, man. But that’s my point of view. Not to button this thing up…

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Obama Giving a Gay Hoot

I do not want to write about Obama giving directive health care rights to gay people. But I guess I have to.

Sort of.

Thank you.

I am so tired of it all. A week or so ago, I blogged about incremental change being just fine. And I believe, functionally, it is still the way to go.

However, this slog is a long one. And I will be so old before it is close to over.

Why are rights not automatic?

We keep moving.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Obama Forward

This guy is moving fast. From Health Care to Securing Nukes, he has a To Do list and he expects people to fall in line. And they do.

If you are a registered Democrat and/or Obama supporter, do you keep getting all the emails of the videos of President Obama doing this and that, selling his line, letting you know what it’s all about? Even I, a supporter, feel like I am being bombarded by a wild propaganda machine. It is smart. The administration, along with the sympathetic left-wing media elite, have this country in a choke hold. The opposing tea party, its voice shrinking into racist grumbling, can barely be heard under the Center-Lefty din. “What’s that noise? Three of the last little deranged leftover tea children acting up in the school yard over being afraid to share their dollies with anyone else?” Cannot compare. Might is making right. Lefty might.

Which is to say, I am disgusted. Sure, it is pleasurable that “my side” is winning right now. But in order for that to happen, my president has to present himself as a school teacher/car salesman? To teach and to sell?

What is the other way? There must be one? Maybe not.

I was reading Marx quotes today. They say Marx got a few things wrong but he leaves me as academically excited in my brain as other brilliant philosopher circus barkers with a well thought out point of view crossed with the witty Mark Twain. It sounds and feels so great, all that. I love totalitarianism, especially when it is witty. It is slicing and bold. It attempts to slash and burn the past in order to build Utopia. It comes from a wonderful, positive impulse. But then you need a dark plan for its administration. Always the trouble.

I am not saying Obama is a Marxist or a Utopian or a man with a dark plan. But he is tricky and he has a biggish plan and he is following through, witty and purposeful. The Right is clearly annoyed by all this in addition to opposing what he is selling. How dare he get the upper hand? Because he has the talent for it. In recent memory I cannot think of a Republican as clever and smooth as our man. Rove had a certain something, but it sure was not smooth. Obama is a star, bigger than our first black president, Clinton. I am sure these tea party people want to lynch him.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

To Live

So with the recession and the mid-life career strategizing and everything else, it has become clear that we need better living arrangements in New York or else we are going to end up killing each other out here in Queens in this tiny apartment.

Using the livability calculator, one ends up in Park Slope. Where do you end up?

The Livability Calculator

The calculator was found in this article:

Most Livable Neighborhoods in New York

Of course, all I want is my yellow California bungalow, my swarm of upbeat California friends and my old dog back.

But until that can be arranged, we need to figure this out.

New York is an odd place. Because I grew up very close to the city, it always seems so past tense to me. It is hard to feel like this is the present. Not to mention the strange way that people clump into their old timey groups---socioeconomically, creatively, ethnically, you name it. Just seems so frigging old world to me. Why are people still doing this?

In addition, as I have stated, the idea of having a house in the country in order to get your fix of greenery seems outsized and downright annoying. Though a car is prudent. I never feel more normal than when I am banging over that Triborough Bridge to the mainland of the United States in search of suburbia, woods, streams, small towns, mountains, apples, what-have-you.

The geography of the east coast is simply fantastic---because of all these chunks of crazy shaped landmasses sticking into the Atlantic in all sorts of directions. You cannot get bored looking at the maps, even.

But something sticks in my craw here. It is the old world thing. I am not much for separation-identity-history. I am more of a futurist. And this place feels much attached to the past.

I even experience Paris as being more in than present than this place.

Over time, I will figure out if it is me or if it is the city or, most likely, the combination.

One does want to break through this feeling.

Fun As Hell

I have been thinking about having fun lately. I don’t know what it is. Oh yes I do! It’s the weather. It is so nice out these days with cherry blossoms everywhere, you just want to scream with delight.

But instead, since screaming and being delighted are both a bit fagotz, I go on these walks to both increase the joy and dissipate it all at once. I have been attempting to write during the day instead of the vampire shift and when I am done, I reward myself with a monster walk. It feels so right.

But there is something else going on, well, two other things.

One, the economy IS getting better. This decreases anxiety. There is one way out of this economic mess and it is UP. But what about the soon-to-be expansion? I always wonder…but it is probably necessary, a reflection of the constant growth in population. But it scares me. But so what? Okay, so the economy is getting better. I will stop thinking about what that all means except for my present relief.

And I have decided something else. Two. If you are going to be a writer, you will make some big chunks of money here and there in your life with periods of time when the money is not so large. So you better calm down about it.

Calming down means you get to feel for yourself, firsthand, who you really are. And when you are doing that, you cannot help but notice the things that make you happy and so you just have to set aside time to do more of those things. For me, it is very simple: Long walks, playing music, spending time with friends, traveling and going to movies and plays. I mean, you could chuckle with how common that all is. A list like that--it sounds like I am looking for a very average date.

But then I think---there is comfort in being average. I mean, I once enjoyed watching The Preacher’s Wife on a cross country flight. Was it the Ativan? I do not know.

But happiness is underrated, and mostly by the very serious. I have decided I would rather be happy than serious. This may lower others’ opinion of me. But frankly, if I am worried about that then I am an ego-dude and that just makes me unhappy, too.

If it is not fun then it is not for me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Those Counties Up There

Funny, you get in the car, you drive upstate to check out a bunch of cute towns and you come back and you think, “So what is this second home thing?”

I imagine myself sitting in a redone old house, obsessing on book cases and rugs. Managing Netflix becomes more difficult. And then, clich├ęs be damned---there’s the roof. Always the roof.

I don’t know.

And Dutchess and Columbia Counties ain’t no Napa and Sonoma. Not even close.

Will tool around Litchfield County…but have been there before. Nice houses, an inn or two, nothing else.

Trees. It’s all about the trees. And the kettle ponds. And the brooks. But to go sit there?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Next Fall

Sometimes, you get to see a play on Broadway and there are not movie stars in it and the play is well written, extremely well directed and acted and there is no mention of Greek tragedy or Shakespeare and it is not a remake or a retake on something else, it is a new play, and it is good and you sigh, “Okay, finally.”

Next Fall, if you do not know, deals with the short four year history of a gay couple going back in forth in time between the development of the relationship and a waiting room in a hospital after a car accident.

One guy is an atheist, the other a true praying Christian who feels he will not go to hell, even though he is a gay sinner, because he has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior. The couple struggles with their opposing world views but not so much that they break up, though they do get close to that. In any event, a careening taxi cab changes things for everyone.

I do not know how timely this play is or if it is the timeliest play of the day. I personally feel this is twenty year old news, but then I realize, shit, it is actually tomorrow’s news. Slow slow rows the boat.

This is one of those lovely success stories where a well established smaller theater company (Naked Angels) gets their play onto the big boards. I hope they make money. I mean, it is absurd what the theater owners charge for rent. But it is not in the hugest theater, the lovely Helen Hayes on 44th, so hopefully they will meet their costs and expectations. Hate to get all businessy about it, but since I am in this dreaded business where 70% of all plays do not make their money back, well, I get concerned.

So, with this I will say this. You could go see this play and you would enjoy it for its smart, comedic yet serious experience. And in doing so, you would be sending a message to the world, “We want to see new plays! We’ll do it! Star free ones! Bring them on!”
And you will get to hear Geoffrey Nauffts’ great natural dialogue and you will get to watch Maddie Corman’s, Sean Dugan’s, Connie Ray’s, Cotter Smith’s, Patrick Breen’s and Patrick Heusinger’s fantastic unforced acting all put together by the wonderful director, Sheryl Kaller. I mean, isn’t that enough? Is it?


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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Gay Agenda

You know what? I think they might slip in all sorts of gay agenda stuff, our Dems…but I do not believe it will be for marriage. And you know why I think that’s just fine? I will tell you.

Because of Abortion.

I believe that Roe V. Wade did more to calcify the divide between left and right than anything else in this country.

And I think the divide is silly and I am exhausted.

Look, I am pro-choice. And I am pro-Gay-marriage. But let’s face two things. The first is, we really do not know when life begins (though I am still pro-choice). And second, I am against marriage for everyone. I believe states should only recognize domestic partnerships and marriage should be something left for religious outfits.

But until that day (which is probably never), when marriage is off the table, I believe we might just let this gay thing go state by state. At least, that’s what the go-along-to-get-along part of me thinks, while the quiet schemer in me knows that this is the better strategy anyway.

If we go on the real numbers it appears we have to wait for the in-favor number to be about fifty-five percent. Right now it’s at forty-four percent. All growth points toward a majority in the near future. If about three or four more states turn, surely within a few years that national majority will get up to fifty-five percent. When the peanut crunching crowd finally accepts that states have much bigger fish to fry than to worry about same sex couples having the same rights as their straight brothers and sisters, they will give up their resistance to marriage equality. It will help to add just a few more states to the marriage equality roster and then the dominoes fall rationally all the way to Washington D.C.

Pushing for marriage equality in places like Oregon, Washington and New Mexico seem to make a lot of sense. And Nevada. Certainly New Jersey and California. If these six states go, it’s basically a done deal. And if it goes this way, we will not have to listen to the anti-choice type people screaming loud and crazy like they have since ’73.

Which brings me to this---Why do we not make birth control the first thing that is taught on day one of the Seventh Grade? I mean really? I think everyone can agree that abortion is not an easy thing to face, personally, politically, eternally. So why do we not simply get way into birth control? I mean, way way into it? I simply do not understand the resistance. Because we cannot bear the thought of our teenage citizens having sex? But they do in that wheelchair, Blanche, they do!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Cherry Blossoms

It is simply that time of year and you do get sort of freaky about it: The Cherry Blossoms

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Near the Reservoir

Uncle Charlie

I would like to say goodbye to my Uncle Charlie who died tonight. He was a very cool guy. He was in WWII, though I don’t know what he did. He once popped a balloon of mine with his cigarette.

He was wry and a great friend to my parents. He was earthy and worldly and a rogue.
He had a hard bitten but light hearted bead on life. He was an Irishman with the best of them.

R.I.P. or Have a good time Uncle Charlie.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Recurring Dream: Sex with Bush?

During the Bush administration, I was terrified of this guy. He seemed like an out of control freak to me. And I do not like tension.

So how did my psyche solve this problem?

I had a recurring dream that I was Bush’s advisor. Truly. He would have me down to D.C. from New York…and he liked to call me D.C. since those are my initials. He always had a pet name for everyone.

George had a soft spot. He actually wanted the other side to like him. So he took me on, knowing I was from the other side, but also thinking I was a true moderate who “got him” and what he was trying to do. It might have even been possible to convert me to the neodoxy, but it was better for him to leave me just as I was, part advisor, part spy.

In my dream, Bush was right. I did get him. I could allow my mind to understand his point of view. I was happy to be near his power. And I felt bad for him that no one would ever tell him the truth: that he was actually hated. (And I was one of the few people who could look at him, let him know by my expression that he was hated and that being hated is not an enjoyable experience and that there might be a way out of this.)

But more importantly, I would come up with little ideas to push him away from waging war, toward helping the “homeland” to create jobs, to give people a sense that they could maybe crawl into the middle class.

He liked my ideas. We got along.

And there was a sexual element to it, too. But George and I never talked about it. He acknowledged it in his own way, but he had a country to lead.

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