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Thursday, September 30, 2004

Random Blasts

Random blasts of information:
1. The earth hums. It emits a low-level vibration.
2. All human beings are descendants of one woman: white, black, arab, jew, asian, indian, etc. We are all much more closely related than we think. Seems we are excellent at seeing the differences, and sort of blind when it comes to the similarities.
3. If you want to live a really long life, choose your parents well.
4. DNA is a language: we are created from a sequence of letters. These letters determine whether we have blue eyes, curly hair, if we will die young, etc. I already knew this, but this is certainly a strangely, mystical idea: the world is created from language, the universe is a long-running conversation.
5. Advice from the oldest living woman in the U.S.: 'live your life as best you can. That's all you can do.'

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Bard as Mentor

I get up, brew some coffee and surf the blogosphere. All these voices crying out in the wilderness. I add my own two cents.

I am immersed in the world of 'the Bard.' Young Will Shakespeare lived in a time of great religious turmoil. Protestants and Catholics torturing and oppressing each other, with one or the other gaining the upper hand, depending upon who sat on the throne (Henry VIII, his son, or his daughters - Mary, Elizabeth). Unfortunate victims (Protestant or Catholic) drawn, quartered, guts removed, heads chopped off, eyes poked out, burned at the stake, dragged through the streets, heads impaled on poles. At the same time, the Plague roamed the land, snatching the old, the young, the unlucky.

The poor, unfortunate, the vagabonds were jeered at, punished for being weak, unattached, adrift. England was grim if you weren't a 'gentle' man. Choosing to be an actor, a playwright was a 'risk,' it was not considered a 'noble profession.'

Seems all this turmoil and uncertainty was useful to the young playwright. As per Dickens, 'it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.' I think it has always been so. The same madness is alive in the land today. The writer, the artist transforms the madness to his own devices. Heaven and Hell exist side by side in the eternal now. Here you find the dream, here you find the nightmare. Shakespeare could live with both the dark and the light (the comedy and the tragedy). This is extraordinary. An example to live by.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

'Star Stuff'

Some things have endured, (Shakespeare, Sophocles, Beethoven, Da Vinci, Chaplin). I think survival of their works (by fate, by luck, or quirk of history?) are life-affirming, magical, transcendant. Most things are insubstantial, ephemeral.

Theater and Music have an advantage over other arts (painting, cinema): plays and symphonies are reanimated by the actors, directors, musicians, and conductors of the present day. Watching 'King Lear,' on Sunday, was a resurrection, a reanimation of Shakespeare's text. The King lives again in the body of a Chicago actor in 2004.

This is magic, a ritual, a sacrament. How many men in the last 400 years have played 'Lear?' And as the words tumble from their lips, do they in some mystical way 'become' Lear? Do they join a strange, community of men that extends from Shakespeare's time to ours?

If you're lucky enough to know one of the actors (for instance, our friend Winston) you are reminded that the actor, (the sorcerer's apprentice) is a man just like you, one who may have a 'gift' a 'talent,' but also, one who has the quirks, flaws and humanity of anyone riding the el, walking down the street.

This is an important lesson. We are just human beings, made of the 'stuff that dreams are made of.'

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Deeds of Men

Yesterday was an intense rehearsal for 'Henry Goodbar.' I struggled with my 'love scene' with 'Yvonne.' Still working on the lines; when it comes to 'physicality,' (my special challenge) I'm probably the weakest actor of the group. I am confident that my lines and actions will evolve. It is a strange alchemy. I'm actually better with monologues than with scenes ('he likes to play in his own sandbox, does not play well with others').

Afterwards, we went to see our friend, Winston, in 'King Lear' at the Theater Building. Winston was superb, he plays 'Edmund,' the bastard son who betrays his father, his brother, the King, the King's daughters, etc. Edmund is one of the best, most complete villians in the history of theater. Winston's performance was bold, beautiful, inspiring. His grounding in the language really gives him a special power, he brings the words of the 'Bard' vividly alive.

'Lear' is a difficult play, it is a bleak vision of a world totally askew: daughter against father, father against son, conspiracy and black deeds all around. The King is a madman, losing his faculties, led by a fool and a blind man, stumbling to a cold demise.

The production: performed brilliantly, excellent direction, the language sings. Shakespeare's explosion of words: beautiful, magical, other-worldly. 'Lear' seems 'modern' and relevant. At the same time, it comes from another time and land. Theater is a ritual, a resurrection, Lear lives and dies again and again. The language, the poetry dazzles, Edmund/Winston the rogue extraordinaire is justly punished. The King succumbs, the cold, unblinking sun looks down on us all. Long live the King.

The tragedy is strangely exhilarating; language, poetry, transcends the silly, the false, the horrible deeds of men.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

I am back with the living. The last few days, all energy escaped me. I have been one of George Romero's Zombies from 'Dawn of the Dead.' This morning, I can feel new energy coursing through my body. As per Dylan: 'the ghost of electricty, howls through the bones of her face...'

The play, 'Goodbar,' has gone through more toil and trouble. Two days ago, Manny left a message that he did not feel well, that he was dropping out, and needed to get away from acting for awhile. My first reaction was to call him and tell him that he should rest up, get better, but that he couldn't 'quit the show.' He was tentative, said he was going to the doctor, and wasn't sure if he was up to it.

Yesterday morning, I called Noel (he auditioned for a different role) and cast him as 'The Bard.' Noel came to rehearsal and immediately took to it, he is a film director and acting teacher and he made strong choices and will add to the piece. Carla talked to Manny later in the day, and asked if he'd be willing to videotape the Rashid role.

Manny reversed himself and said he wanted to be in the show. Too late. We are already on to the next actor. Manny brought this on himself, once someone opens the door to 'dropping out,' we must make the decision for them. Nothing will stop this show. Nothing will keep us from our task. 'Don't be denied.!'

I am hoping to convince Manny that videotape is the best way to go. I no longer trust him to make rehearsals and do a live show. This has been a wild ride, but Carla and I are taking everything as it comes.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Mystics with 'Practical Feet'

A germ, a bug, got the better of me. My energy totally escaped me. Yesterday, I barely hung on, going through the motions of my job. By mid-afternoon, I was laying on the back porch, in a fetal position, listening to the birds, trying to soak in some of the sunshine of a beautiful fall afternoon. I ate two Tuna steaks (power/brain food) and two containers of frozen yogurt (chocolate and vanilla), and tried to fill myself up with a new strength.

I rented John Boorman's 'Deliverance,' a great movie that still holds up, it's a dream/event that I lived through many years ago (1970?) and started reading my new book, 'Will in the World, How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare.' I first read about this book in a review by Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker. Adam is a great writer who always has something new to say, he never falls into cliche. The book 'speculates' on Shakespeare's life (there isn't much hard evidence, except for the plays and sonnets) and proposes how the life informed the work.

My first impression is that Shakespeare, much like Bob Dylan, was/is a man open, aware of the world, able to soak up everything, and willing and able to transform the raw materials of a life into art. High and low art the same. A magician (the art is almost inconceivable, looks like magic) who uses the things of the world as they are, and recombines them to create new configurations, for example: 'Hamlet,' and 'Mr. Tamborine Man.'

Two poets, magicians, mystics, men with 'practical feet,' who can make words sing, but who never forget the ground, the humor, the common story of the human and all the things men do.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Back to the World

Yesterday was a lost day. I was up at 4:00 a.m. pretty much completed my work by 10:00 a.m. I fielded some calls later in the day, but bascially I was one of the 'the walking dead.' Lack of sleep made me very edgy, brittle, zombified. I closed my eyes, listened to music, tried to unplug from the world.

I sat quietly on the back porch, watched the birds playing on their cage, eating, listening to the sounds of the world around them. I could not concentrate, or think, everything just kind of passed over me. I made a hearty meal, veggie burgers, celery, cottage cheese, onions, mushrooms; chopped it all up, mixed it in a bowl. It tasted better than it sounds. Topped it off with a frozen yogurt.

Went to sleep early. This morning, back to the world. It's dark, quiet, looking to kind of ease into the weekend and the world of Black Forest. Expectant, aware, not dead yet.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Comedy is King

This morning up at an ungodly hour: 4:00 a.m. The Who song, 'I'm a Boy,' playing in my head: 'I'm a boy, I'm a boy, but my mom won't admit it, I'm a boy, I'm a boy, I'm a boy.'

I went on a wild goose chase last night, looking for the Windy City Rollers -- I rented a car and wandered the south-side (Racine and 71st) looking for the roller rink, knowing that I shouldn't be in that neighborhood. It isn't racism, but intelligence, that tells you there are some places where you do not belong. I decided not to stop to ask for directions. It turns out that the Martin Luther King Roller Rink is on 76th, not 71st. So, I missed the event without shooting a frame of video. I went to sleep, in a very unsettled state.

I finished the Moliere biography. I guess I'm more intruiged by the man, than his plays. He was a satirist who had one great patron: the King of France. Moliere attacked the silliness and hypocrisy of aristocratic society. The King liked to laugh, so comedy was king. Moliere's targets included the Church and the medical profession. Both were riddled with superstition and stupidity. Moliere was a man ahead of his time, although, the King made him a man of his time too. Nearly every play Moliere wrote, created some kind of scandal.

At his deathbed, neither a priest nor a doctor could be found to attend to him. After his death, his wife pleaded with the Church to bury him in sacred ground. The Church refused, he was not only a thorn in their side, he was 'a comedian,' a profession populated by the lowest of the low. The King allowed Moliere to be buried in a Christian cemetary, but he was buried five feet deep, because, according to the church authorities, consecrated ground only went four feet down. 100 years later, the French Revolutionaries dug up Moliere's bones and put them a mausoleum.

The comedian had been resurrected.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Dream a Little Dream

Yesterday was a good road day. I and two of my business collegues took a trip to Hartland, Wisconsin about 2 hours north of Evanston. The trip was smooth, I supplied the music (The Who, Santana, Dr. John, Ronnie Lane), the road easily unrolled before us. We visited a technology company tucked into a small office park just outside of a sleepy little town (Hartland).

I'm still in a good frame, taking things as they come. I'm alive, attentive, not holding on to either the good or the bad. Beyond good or evil, (these are judgements), instead, just noticing the passing phenomena. My favorite line heard yesterday: 'You ask me a question, I give you a dream.'

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Essential Work

Some days, a meditation sets the tone for the whole day. Yesterday this was so, I was clear, no dread, everything fell into place. I could 'see' everyone clearly -- Kevin's dread and invalidation, Paula's motherly concern, Randy's cloud of uncertainty, Ziggy's cold skepticism, Ed's cautious enthusiasm. I could see these things without taking them in, I would notice the energy, let it pass through; I remained unsullied. I maintained the 'calm center.' I was at my best in every meeting I attended: engaged, articulate.

Two years of 'psychic meditation,' has given me tools to navigate the roiling waters. It is essential to sit for at least 30 minutes, running through my visualizations, blowing roses, bringing in gold light. It's so simple, so insubstantial, it's easy to forget the importance of grounding and letting the universe flow through you. But it really is the essential work.

Monday, September 20, 2004

I am the Moth

Living in the moment. Moment by moment. It's working. We had a very productive rehearsal yesterday. David and I gave our feedback, as Carla took the actors through their paces. Black Forest has become an a well-functioning, focused, collaborative. We have learned how to 'give direction,' to keep things positive, to add to each other's vision, without taking anything away from one another.

The key is to be attentive, to be 'aware,' to what others do, and not neccesarily to what they 'say.' We are all walking, talking contradictions, but ultimately, our actions define who, and what we are. This is good to know as a playwright. The words tell one story, the physicality tells another. Sometimes they are aligned, and sometimes not; there is always a 'sub-text,' and if we can be clear on both levels, I think we make the work even stronger.

Anyway, Monday, the work week, that familiar 'dread' has subsided. Everything I do, has a certain, validity, I must be 'aware,' in the moment, at all times. Then, even the dark corners can glow with the light of abundance, certainty and knowingness.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Let It Come Down

Up early, dead black night, I immediately head to the kitchen to brew up a pot of coffee. No dreams last night. Yesterday, I pretty much floated through everything, in my own bubble, not grasping, just taking it all in, letting it go. Visited the old homestead: my father quoted Lewis Black, 'we are all snowflakes.' Seems about right. Are there any rules? Who knows?

Today, rehearsal at Peter Jones Gallery. David heads back to Sante Fe tonight. I have 'low expectations' for the play, (I'm happy with the piece, an excellent cast), things are going well, but my attitude is: 'play it as it lays.' Maybe its the best frame of mind, not expecting, letting things come.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The 'Lick' of Wisdom

Back to 'Free Henry Goodbar, Telepath.' Yesterday, David put the finishing touches on the lighting design, we made decisions on the card and poster, and did some major schlepping (moving and tossing junk -- Peter Jones Gallery is all about 'the stuff' that accumulates in every nook and cranny).

Today and tomorrow, we are looking forward to intensive rehearsals. Now is when the process starts to get really good. The actors are nearly, 'off book,' Carla is pushing to make the piece very physical and intense. David and Carla have set up a environment of beauty and color. The play is about dreams, and we now have a surreal dreamscape in which to work. Once we are on the train, there is no turning back.

I had a series of dreams last night. I was visited by strange little beings from 'Ireland' --- they were black, penguin-like -- wise, odd-looking, supremely enlightened. They greeted me as an equal: one of them licked my arm (a normal greeting). I could feel an alien energy, almost like an electric current, coursing through me. It was a feeling of magic, of transcendance. 'The lick' was a gift from this being to me, somehow, I had become wise too.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Roller Girl, Roller Girl -- Rock My World

A slow start, a little foggy (only in my head) this morning. I was out late, shooting video at the Cork Lounge under the El tracks on Addison. The Windy City Rollers held an event looking for Roller Derby candidates. Ninety-seven women (girls, babes, sweeties -- they prefer to call themselves 'sisters') showed up to hear the Roller Derby pitch, eighty-six of them signed up for tryouts.

Obviously, this is a phenomenom with 'legs.' Girls just want to have fun, and be in the spotlight, and hang together, and maybe kick a little ass too. Roller Girl Names include: Sister Sledgehammner, Juanna Rumble, Violet Nature, Ida Ho, Brawny Parker, Anita Applebaum, Mouse and Predator.

Free food, cheap beer, and the lure of becoming a Roller Derby Star brought out an incredible array of girls -- tatoos, multi-colored hair, leather pants, short skirts, body piercings, hot and cold, short and tall -- sweet ones, tough ones, every type and profile imaginable.

I did the 'Christopher Isherwood - I am a Camera schitck.' This is not my 'thing,' (as opposed to the theater) I'm not conjuring a vision, but trying to capture a 'truth.' Cinema Verite! For awhile, I was the only man in the place. I was the 'officially sanctioned' videographer, (I was introduced as 'Jammer' which happens to be a Roller Derby position) so everyone was open and cooperative. I shot three hours of video (manual focus, low light), I think I captured some nice moments.

Not sure where this is going. I look at this as a long-term project -- a documentary, looking for a tone, a character, a story. Could be a comedy, a tragedy, a comedy with tragic overtones, a farce, etc. Stay tuned, I will follow the story with camera in hand.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Playwright, Actor, Hero

I had a busy morning yesterday, a couple of teleconferences, basically a lot of 'rolling and tumbling.' By late afternoon, I kind of went into shutdown mode. I had a nice dinner, put on Sigur Ros (beautiful, majestic music from Iceland) and took a hot bath.

I read my new book, 'The Life of Monsieur de Moliere,' by Mikhail Bulgakov. It is an obscure gem, a biography, that reads like a novel. It turns out Moliere was a son of a valet, who ended up roaming France with a group of actors, living a hard-scrabble existence, a 'band of gypsies.' We will learn, later in the book, that Moliere's little ragtag troupe will become a favorite of Louis XIV, the Sun King.

I had always thought of Moliere as a snooty Frenchman who lived in luxury and decadance. Not quite the complete story. Bulgakov wrote the book in 1933, but it wasn't published until well after his death in 1962. Bulgakov and Moliere are kindred souls -- they are both satirists who risked it all for their art. Moliere ended up in debtor's prison when his first theater group -- the Illustrious Theater failed; Bulgakov, was shunned and was constantly being censored, because his work did not adhere to the Soviet line.

There's a great early scene when (horror of horrors) Moliere tells his father that he is abandoning the path of Valet to Aristocrats, to become an ACTOR. At the time, acting was only for tramps, gypsies, heretics, charlatans.

Anyway, it's clear Bulgakov thinks Moliere is the ultimate hero (great comic actor, playwright). I won't be donning a powdered wig anytime soon, but once I finish this book, I expect I'll be seeking out some of Moliere's works.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

"I see everything twice." -- from Catch 22

I live a schizophrenic existence. This is probably my natural state. Yesterday morning was all business: Paula and I did a presentation to an electric utility (the evil empire) in Kansas City, MO. via a Webex Teleconference. We did a professional presentation. Paula was at home in McHenry, I was at home in Evanston, a room-full of people on-line from KC. The technology is great, I sipped an iced-latte, with classical music playing in the background (Chopin). No-one realized I was in a t-shirt, khaki-shorts, topped by my 'Bush Evil Doer'/Late Night, cap. These utility folks have sold their souls to the devil. We pitched 'energy efficiency,' kind of like 'whistling in the wind.'

In the afternoon, I went to Peter Jones to confer with David, check on his progress with the Lighting Design on 'Goodbar.' It is amazing what he is able to do with minimal tools and budget. Using colored lights acquired from Home Depot, David created three zones (to be expanded to 4). It totally transforms the set. David is creating a three-dimensional sculpture. Beautiful, haunting, dream-like.

We have created a great friendship based on creative collaboration and the 'good work.' We have learned so much over the last three plays. Anyway, the schizoid nature of my existence seems to be working. Who am I today? Make that a double-shot latte!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Everybody's Talking at Me...

Alone this week with the birds (Carla is in New York), to bed early, up early; long sleep, finally caught up after hitting the 'wall of exhaustion' this last weekend.

Yesterday, it was all business, I am convinced the whole enterprise is madness. Endless teleconferences with no connection to any semblance of 'reality.' How many angels can dance on a head of a pin?

I have found a 'new grounding;' I realize all human relations are 'transactions,' exchanges of energy. There's positive and negative energy, and a 'give and take.' Its important to protect oneself from those who are 'on the take.'

Energy makes energy, the tools of the trade: meditation, running, coffee, reading, writing, art, performance, music. This is how to recharge the batteries. To be alone is energizing. The trick is to be alone in the crowd; without angst, without fear, instead, to be alone, knowing that there is no such thing as being alone.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Nearer the Clouds

To live free without limits? Ah, that's one man's version of Utopia, but in this go-round, we're here to find freedom within the limits. As per Lars Von Trier (see The Five Obstructions), we all have obstacles to overcome. How we do so, is our task, our choice. Do we do it gladly, artfully, or unwittingly, reluctantly?

Melville, (that's Herman) used life as a Merchant Marine to illustrate that one should be careful what one chooses to do, and who one chooses to spend time with; those in the rigging and the crow's nest are far-seeing, the dreamers, spending their time looking at the horizon, the sun, the sky, the stars. Those working in the dimly-lit hold of the ship use their hands, their muscles; they are grounded, solid, a camaraderie of men. Melville, of course, overcame his fear of heights, to spend his days nearer the clouds.

The trick is to stay grounded even as the crow's nest violently sways in the wind. Are we 'pre-disposed' for one mode or another? Are some of the choices made for us, or do we make all the choices ourselves, wittingly and unwittingly?

I believe that I can 'see more' thus, I make choices now, that I didn't know were there for me to choose. Can I navigate this roiling, ocean with eyes wide open?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Life is a Blur

After rehearsal yesterday, I wandered the city alone, took the Brown line to the Blue and tracked over to Wicker Park. I visited the Flat Iron building to see the Around the Coyote Fest, and especially, to visit my brother's studio.

It was quite the carnival scene: the mad, throbbing energy of 'needing, wanting, grasping,' humanity. I kind of floated around the building; every hallway, every nook and cranny overflowing with paintings and sculptures.

My brother introduced me to some of his fellow artists, creative people who are putting their work out into the world; a small clan of outsiders, marginal characters, kind of an extended family brought together by their creative sensibilities.

I thought my brother seemed 'at home,' his paintings, old friends, stood out, strange, fierce, beautiful. We've had our differences over the years, but we have much in common. There's only one person in the world I can truly call 'my brother.'

I took the train back north and met David (Black Forest's Set Designer) for dinner. We discussed 'Goodbar,' and reaffirmed our commitment to 'the good work.' We went to the Music Box and watched Lars Von Trier's 'The Five Obstructions,' an odd, inspiring, bewildering, puzzle of a film.

I took a taxi home, the windows down, the city scene rushing by in a blur. No sense in trying to 'interpret' the blur, I just speed along in my little bubble, looking forward to another day.

Friday, September 10, 2004

A Common Decency

What a difference a day makes...

Phoenix has re-emerged, it looks like 'Goodbar' is back on track, Saturday's rehearsal should include the complete cast, with David flying in from New Mexico to provide a 'critical eye,' and to create the lighting design.

I bounced yesterday, I was able to seperate myself from the troubles of the world. Everyone makes their own choices, I choose to see the beauty in the ashes.

Finished 'Homage to Catalonia;' Orwell returns to a green, sleepy England, and he wonders if the distant thunder of bombs will soon invade the shores of Albion. This is one of the reasons Orwell is so revered today: he appears to be 'clairvoyant,' (clear-seeing) about world events.

Orwell renders the horror, the chaos, the absurdity, the glory, the honor of a Civil War. He leaves Spain, with a belief in the simple, common decency of man. Simple, common decency of man? How often do we hear such words? Our culture seems to revel in the craven, corruptibility of man. Does a 'common decency' fit in America's corporate consumer culture? If you can't put a price on it, can't buy and sell it, does it really exist?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

That's Show Biz, Folks

The winds have shifted, there's a little of that north-country, Mackinac Island, coolness in the air; the humidity has vanished. I'm sitting, in the sun-room, typing into my laptop, the sun is breaking over the horizon. I am refreshed, recharged, wondering what the day will bring. Today, I plunge back into the world of high tech and commerce.

Yesterday was expansive. Left to my own devices, I can find a million ways to occupy myself. 'Homage to Catalonia,' is totally absorbing, Orwell illustrates how one man's story can illuminate the world. He admits to 'taking sides,' how it's difficult, if not impossible to be 'objective,' he admits to his own 'bias,' but he adheres to a strict code: tell the truth as he sees it. There are some jarring moments, for instance when he admits to the 'pernicious' feeling that war is a 'glorious enterprise.' Are there things worth living and dying for? Orwell chooses to fight 'fascism,' he wants to kill for the cause, he puts himself in harm's way, and gets badly wounded.

Military efficiency is in conflict with liberty and honesty. Orwell deconstructs the reporting and editorial disinformation. Today in Iraq, it is clear that the same smokescreen has over-laid events. John Burns and Dexter Filkins of the New York Times have done some phenomenal reporting from the streets of Iraq, but even they have a 'bias;' they are both Brits writing for newspapers in the West. They paint a complex, somewhat bleak picture, that totally contradicts the official narrative coming out of Washington.

You realize, the reality must be even bleaker, more complex, than even they convey.

Anyway, on the 'Goodbar' front, Phoenix has gone AWOL. We must scrounge up a couple of actors. We have many options, nothing will deter us, the show must go on.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Summertime, When the Living is Easy

Easy to be 'sunny' today, it's Monday and we're still on vacation. I have really unplugged from the business world. I have found the 'calm center,' and everything seems to be flowing. I have found time for everything.

Today, a simple agenda: take a long run on the lakefront, get in a good meditation, read a little Orwell, have a good meal, practice my lines from 'Henry Goodbar,' and play my guitar. I have 'rediscovered' the guitar on this vacation.

On the road-trip, I programmed a solid block of great guitar music. My favorites include: Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, Pete Townsend, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Duane Allman, George Harrison, John Lennon, Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton. I guess, these are the usual suspects (heavy on the British Invasion). It's amazing how each has such a distinctive sound and feel. I also enjoy, Roger Mcquinn of the Byrds, and Charlie Sexton (he can be found on Lucinda Williams records and is currently in Dylan's excellent touring band).

I've always loved playing guitar. I'm thinking of setting up a little recording studio (using my Mac) and create some guitar soundscapes. I have gotten so much pleasure and inspiration from the great rock and roll guitar masters.

Anyway, yesterday 'Henry Goodbar' took another little 'hit.' Phoenix who is playing two roles (Dr. Hoffman and Yvonne) went missing. We're hoping it was just a communication breakdown, but we have not heard from her. An ominious development. It's possible we have to 'go to the mattresses' and find at least one and maybe two actors to replace her. This production has shown flashes of brilliance, but we've also gotten very close to breaking into a million pieces (George was sometimes a real 'pain in the ass' but he was also a grounding force for Black Forest). Carla kind of went into a tailspin yesterday, but I'm hoping today she will be recharged and we can 'speed the plow.'

Sunday, September 05, 2004

'Everyone Has Their Reasons.' -- Jean Renoir

Is there virtue in waking up before the sun? It feels good to be slightly ahead of the dawn, awake, before the hubbub and hurly burly of another day. It's rehearsal at Peter Jones with the complete cast this morning. There is much work to be done.

We went to see a movie last night, Zhang Yimou's 'Hero,' a beautiful, martial-arts movie. One of the most beautifully filmed movies I've ever seen. It is a great tale, told very well. Colors (blue, red, green, white) provide much of the pleasure of the piece.

'People give up their lives for many reasons: friendship, love and ideals. People murder for many reasons: friendship, love and ideals.' Also -- 'In a war, there are heroes on both sides.'

Ultimately, 'Hero,' is about an assasin who lays down his sword for a 'greater good.' There are no good guys, no bad guys. 'Everyone has their reasons.' -- Jean Renoir. The Tyrant believes he is a man of peace. The man intent on revenge, shows restraint, courage and heart. The master swordsman devotes his life to the art of calligraphy.

I have been thinking that the world needs a new defining myth. America's guiding myth seems to be the 'lone cowboy,' battling the evil-doers of the world. I believe China or India may provide a new myth to help drive the human race forward into a new consciousness. How about the Bodhissatva? This is an enlightened being who comes back to the human realm to help others find enlightment too. Now that's a myth worth living.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Bohemian Credo: Liberty, Fraternity, Equality & Love

You sometimes need to break a routine to renew a routine. Pick a dot on a map, and like Brando in 'The Wild One,' just 'go,' (in my case, employing a four-door Hyundai, instead of a large, sputtering motorcycle). The familiar seems new again.

Back to the 'friendly confines' of our apartment in Evanston. Hot and humid this morning. I brewed up a thick pot of 'witches brew,' and caught up on the news. I picked up Thursday and Friday editions of the New York Times. Looking to cut through the smokescreen of opinion and spin. I read the text of both Cheney's and Bush's speeches. Language creates consciousness, so in that way, it is a branch of 'magic.'

My take is, Bush/Cheney want to conjure a simple world, Good versus Bad; they want to be seen as tough men, making tough decisions for a strong America. The key promise kept: TAX CUTS. I think this resonates with much of America. It all depends on who you are and where you live. We really still do live in a 'tribal society.' If you are a big city person, you tend to lean Democratic, (which I guess means moderation, restraint, diversity, nuance). If you are in Small Town America, tax cuts, a strong military, a 'don't tread on me and my kind' approach seems appealing.

How do you explain the Shrine to Gerald Ford? I talked to Dan Preston, the proprietor of the Lakeshore Bed and Breakfast. At the age of 22, he worked for Ford's failed bid in 1976. That seems unfathomable to me. A young kid dedicated to Gerald Ford's cause? We briefly talked, he explained it all, (he's worked for a Republican every election since) by saying, 'I hate paying taxes.' That simple. The problem for Democrats? How do we sum up our philosopy with one phrase? 'I'm for a progressive, socially just, equal-opportunity society.' Not very catchy.

The American Revolution was based on Taxes and Religious freedom. The Civil War was based on Taxes and Slavery. Even Ghandi became famous for resisting the British-imposed tax on salt. I believe the real wedge issue is Foreign Policy, but I fear that much of America does not care what goes on 'over there.'

Anyway, the divide in America exists from one community to another. Michigan is a good example. Grand Haven is white, Protestant, conservative. Traverse City, a little less white, more diverse, more liberal. 'Like people' tend to live with 'like people' (Evanston and Oak Park are good examples -- Carla and I have spent much of our time in diverse, progressive, communities). So we see and create the world we want to see and create. Can we look outside our senses five. 'Some are born to sweet delight, some are born to endless night.' -- William Blake. Can we create a world where everyone is free and able to pursue 'happiness?' I believe we need to try to create a world where all beings are treated equally --- with love, compassion, clarity. Thomas Merton asked people to pray for a better world. I believe if I can live with clarity and compassion, I can do my small part.

Friday, September 03, 2004

I Blog, Therefore, I Exist

Back home. We drove over 250 miles today. Started from the Nickerson Inn, in Pentwater, Michigan. It's a rustic place, about ten guest rooms, near the beach, on the east side of Lake Michigan. In the lobby, there's a piano, a checkerboard, an open Bible (In my book, the 'den of thieves' is American Corporate Capitalism). It's looks like it hasn't changed in 100 years. We slept in the Log Runner's Room. The mattress on the bed was as stiff as a log. I might have been better off sleeping on the floor. Still, Carla and I slept 9 hours. The air is so clean, the surroundings are so quiet, it's easy to drift off, and wake up refreshed.

We ate lunch in a little Cafe in St. Joseph's, Michigan. I had a nice tuna salad. The meals have all been good. The last 60 miles home were rough. Traffic jams, pollution, concrete jungle. There is nothing uglier than the Indiana/Illinois suburban sprawl. The expressway system is hard, inhuman. We blasted rock and roll the whole way (Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions - Jimmy Page is an avant garde, guitar god, The Stones -- no bettter rock and roll album than 'Exile on Main Street,' The Byrds Live - lyrical and experimental, Lucinda Williams - love the guitar player in her band, she's poetic and tough).

Finally made it home. I'm sitting in the sun-room, sipping a Perrier, listening to The Who (loud guitars and drums -- Keith Moon was a maniac, are somehow comforting, grounding for me). So, anyway, I guess, I'll call it a day.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Everything is Sweeter

Yes, well, the air is sweeter here. Mackinac Island is surrounded by pristine water, thick forest, no cars, no industry (except for Fudge shops). I ran the island this morning, Carla rented a mountain bike and we went around the island together. An absolutely glorious day. The food tastes better here, (I've been eating a lot of seafood), I'm convinced the clean air clears your palate, makes you hungrier, and every meal has been satisfying.

This is our last day, (we've already checked out), after the run, I showered, and then we visited the Butterfly House (they have thousands of Butterflies from all over the world). Most butterflies only live 14 days (the Monarch is the exception). Butterflies danced and swirled around us as the sound system played classical music. What a nice place.

Stopping for a latte and a quick Blog, then we'll find a place for lunch, get back on the ferry and start the drive south down U.S. 31. We plan on stopping about halfway, stay somewhere near the lake, then tomorrow, we should be arriving back in Chi-town late afternoon.

I've totally unplugged, no TV (radio is good, TV is bad), no New York Times (they don't have it here), in the pub they usually show either the Weather Channel or Sports, so I've missed the big Republican Disinformation Session in New York. It's good to unplug from the Media Monster.

I've totally been absorbed by Orwell's 'Homage to Catalonia.' A 'Brit' journalist who couldn't resist joining a Spanish Militia fighting Franco's Fascist troops. Another time, another place. Orwell's humanity is a shining beacon. He writes of Anarchists, Socialists, Facists, Communists, but it is the day to day life of a man that touches deep. Looking for a world of 'equality' and 'social justice.' Not a bad goal. 'Tell fucking the truth, tell it now, tell it always..' -- Lenny Bruce.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

How Much Fudge Can One Man Stand?

It is raining this morning on Mackinac Island. It feels like Autumn is here. A good day to take a break from running. Carla and I slept almost 9 1/2 hours. This place is very mellow, quiet, there is something about living with less: no cars, no industry. The only transportation on the island, horses and bikes.

A little history of Mackinac: it was first inhabited by the Huron Indians, it then became a French Missionary Outpost (founded by Father Marquette), later, the British took over as a result of the 8 Years War, finally, the Americans claimed it in a treaty following the war of 1812.

It has evolved from Fish (the Huron Indians) , to Fur (the French Trappers), to Fish and Fur (the British), to finally, Fudge (Americans). This place has more fudge shops than humanity could possibly need or want.

The land and sky and water: beautiful, overwhelming, almost sacred. The Huron knew this was a special place. The fudge shops cannot diminish it.

Carla and I are living 'high on the hog;' eating well, taking walks, meditating, reading. I have plunged into George Orwell's 'Homage to Catalonia.' I am already hooked. I think it is a great book about the Spanish Civil War and much else. Orwell discusses all the 'big ideas' and ideologies, but ultimately it is a record of one man looking at the world from a place of clarity and truth. It is a rare and enlightening perspective, one that seems sorely lacking in today's madness and hurly burly.

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