I recently met (live) Sherri Frank Mazzotta, with whom I’ve been chatting about writing via the Internet. As yet unpublished, she is incredibly accomplished and passionate about of all kinds of books and different styles of writing. As much as I enjoy the Internet, email, and all the people I meet in cyberspace, I guess I’m the age where “there’s nothing like the real thing.” We spent hours comfortably talking, not only about books, but our lives and how we got to where we are. A cool do.
One question Sherri asked me is what it’s like to come up with an idea for every week’s post. My response: nerve-wracking. From the moment Monday passes, there’s a part of me anxious about whether a new subject will pop. And the game has to come to me. If I sit down to conjure up an idea it’s like telling someone to “be funny.” Just doesn’t work.
This week it’s multiple “nexts” since no single thing jumped out front. But over this week, like all others, I do stuff, ideas flit in (and most often out), some news report or column or cartoon catches my eye.
Let’s forget the straw poll in Iowa. Crazies only interested me when I worked as a therapist. So one of the most important things that occurred this week was my softball team (Jah Energy) won its one-or-done playoff game against the Loan Sharks. It was a wet one; took place in a steady shower. The game had been rained out twice before and there were no more permit dates for a makeup. Maybe not on dry land, but ironically we were better than the Sharks in the water.
Now we play the first place team for two out of three beginning tomorrow evening—weather permitting. Not gonna be easy. Ron’s Auto consists of farbissina players, both men and women. People who Lenny Bruce would describe as the type who wear wool suits with no underwear. Needless to say, we are major underdogs. I guess it will make winning that much sweeter–if we win. I’ll let you know.
Also, something that caught my eye this week was a letter to the New York Times by Stephen Sondheim (http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/10/stephen-sondheim-takes-issue-with-plan-for-revamped-porgy-and-bess/) that tore Diane Paulus and Pulitzer Prize winner and McArthur Genius award recipient, playwright Suzan-Lori Parks new assholes for their re-interpretation of Porgy and Bess. Paulus is the Artistic Director for American Repertory Theater, a prestigious theater company connected to Harvard University. My ticket isn’t until the end of September, but what I find interesting is:
Diane Paulus. Who receives an enormous amount of shit for her productions while, at the same time, filling seats with a large number of people who rarely, if ever, attend theater of any kind. I understand why critics often have trouble with her work. When you take Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, turn it into a disco, replete with roller blades and semi-nude actors dancing up a storm with the audience and call it The Donkey Show, it’s easy to understand why traditionalists have a difficult time seeing it as theater despite having its run extended for months.
Or when she invited the British Theater Company Punchdrunk to use an abandoned local school and turn Macbeth into Sleep No More, a production where all ticket holders wore masks to become anonymous as they wandered through the building from room to room where different scenes were played out. Paulus caught it for that one too—Which also sold out and went on to be a must-have ticket in New York.
It’s odd that I find myself defending over-the-top theater since my favorite playwrights are Eugene O’Neill, Tom Stoppard, Arthur Miller and similar writers—as well as traditionally performed Shakespeare. But there’s something to be said for introducing theater to a brand new audience and introducing it in a way we can all relax and have fun with. Hats off to Diane Paulus for fucking with A.R.T.’s traditions and succeeding—despite the avalanche of criticism. Me, I’m looking forward to Porgy And Bess.
This week I also found out we are definitely going to trial on September 8th in that same unnamed Midwestern state for the second of our two malpractice cases. The defendant refuses to negotiate or mediate and I expect them to stay their course. It’s a complicated case in a very conservative county where the defendant’s employer has their hands in damn near everything.
So it’s yet another David versus Goliath; this time Goliath has all the weapons except truth. It will be interesting to see whether truth can win. It often doesn’t in our civil court system where clout has a way of determining judicial decisions throughout a trial. We can only hope a jury is able to separate the wheat from the chaff. They’ve had practice since a good many of them will probably be farmers. Again I’ll try to do frequent posts on the day-to-day once the trial begins.
And finally, my friend and artist, Michael Smith (check him out by clicking his links on my website’s ‘links’ page) came by Sunday morning to do a photo shoot of the cover for my digitalized version of Still Among The Living. Spent a fair amount of time Saturday hunting for my old Bakelite radios and deco objects and art. And finding someone with a gun permit and gun to bring to the “shoot.”
Well, that was my week. How was yours?
“Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” – John Maxwell