Election 2020

Election 2020
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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Into the Mystic

'Beautifully mad,' and not afraid of the mystery. I feel that I must maintain my course. The motto: 'don't be denied.' We had another sell-out show last night for 'Free Henry Goodbar, Telepath.' The feedback from the audience afterwards was all over the map. Some people just 'go' with it, some are confused, I guess, I don't make it easy, but I'm suprised that others don't see the connections in the world that I see.

My method is simple: if I connect disparate things, people, ideas; I trust that there is a connection, and that others can connect them too. I'm not trying to be incomprehensible, but I do want to capture the strangeness, the mysteriousness of the world. So I throw all these ideas out there, mix them up, create a new stew. This makes the work interesting to me, suprises me, and I trust that others can make the leap too. Some can, some can't. So goes the world.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

'Goodbar' Lives!

Maybe it's the title? Never write a play with 'Korea,' in the title. Just isn't cool. Last year it was a struggle finding an audience, eventhough, the show was quite good. 'Free Henry Goodbar, Telepath,' seems to be just the ticket. We had a sellout opening night. And it looks like a sellout tonight too. I believe that the 'house' should be irrelevant, whether there's one person in the audience or one hundred, the actors should give their all, and perform as if every moment is precious. The audience is another 'player,' they bring another energy that varies each night. It's part of the 'kick' of live theater to interact and feed off this unknown, mysterious, energy.

Anyway, it was great to get the first show under our belt. We had a few minor glitches: missed lines, timing issues, but overall not bad for the first time through with a real audience. The adrenaline was flowing. Our group has really bonded, everyone was aware and focused. It takes a lot of work to pull something like this off, but when all the elements come together, there's no better high!

Friday, October 29, 2004

The Dolls

Yesterday, I was running on empty, but I kept running. A long rambling business meeting took up the morning (how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?), then off to Peter Jones Gallery to do some last minute schlepping (we moved stuff, arranged chairs, made our space look like a nice little bohemian theater space), then went to the Liar's Club to shoot some video of the Windy City Rollers. It was the 'derby dolls debut.' Quite the scene, the Rollers took over the bar. I wandered around with my camera, tried to catch the 'ambience,' of the scene. Girls want to drink and arm wrestle, and get their photos taken, and look cool and...be beautiful, rockin' Derby Dolls! Yes.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Better as We Go

Brooklyn in the morning, 'Goodbar,' in the evening.

I had quite the day, yesterday. NYCHA could be the deal that saves my company. Our application would monitor and alarm on boilers. This is a real solution for a real problem. The question is timing. The big rollout wouldn't happen unitl spring 2005. Will our major investor stay in the game that long?

Flew back home in the afternoon. Air travel is one of those incomprehensible facts we just accept: hurtling through the air, 500 miles per hour, 30,000 feet. Kind of like a really fast taxicab ride.

We did a complete 'Free Henry Goodbar, Telepath,' preview, with a small audience (three friendly people). It felt good. No major glitches. We are ready. The show should get better as we go.

I strive to be alive in the 'real world,' pretending and imagining, that I live in a better one.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Days of Strangelove

Back to Brooklyn. The flight was smooth, Paula and I discussed Shakespeare, she had just seen the 'Merry Wives of Windsor,' and I have been stuck in a Shakespeare kick. Time passed quickly, we were in New York before we knew it.

This place is familiar. I picked the restaurant; Philip (the client) , Paula and I (the three of us, a new version of the Mod Squad) had a nice meal and a long comfortable conversation. Business and pleasure all mixed together in a gumbo-like stew. Afterwards, Philip dropped us back at the hotel, Paula went to her room to work on the presentation, I went back to Court street. I browsed a bookstore and bought Bob Dylan's autobiography, 'Chronicles.' 63 years old, finally Bobby is gonna tell us what happened from inside the 'hurricane.'

Back to my room I watched a little bit of a PBS program, 'Rise of the Vulcans,' Cheney, Rumsfield, Powell, Wolfowitz, these guys have been hanging around since Nixon's days. Tough, secretive, authoritative, anti-democratic, a depiction of the concentration of power in the hands of a few, making decisions that have consequences for us all. American Power Unbound.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Light in the Cave

Heading to Brooklyn today (it has become my second home), a short trip, I'll be back early evening tomorrow. Working with Keyspan Energy on a New York City Housing Authority opportunity. I'm definitely feeling a little 'fractured,' I've 'spread myself thin,' I have 'divided loyalties.'

It's the dream world of 'Goodbar,' that has captured my imagination. My body is stuck in the day to day. Taxi, airplane, hotel room. Client, dinner, presentation. Appointments, responsibilities. Time is not my own. I am just a passenger, a guest. I will use all my tools to stay grounded, in the center of my head.

Sometimes it all seems like a shadow play. I am just a shadow too.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Little Big Man

"Free Henry Goodbar, Telepath," emerged in rehearsal this weekend. All of the elements came together yesterday (we ran it three times in full dress). I finally settled on an opening song, John Lennon's 'Gimmee Some Truth,' which captures the spirit of the piece and sets the tone for what follows. Technically, it is probably our most difficult show, lots of lighting changes, music and video cues. Krista (our lighting and sound tech) has been a godsend, she has not been intimidated by the technology, and she jumps in without complaint.

The cast is really committed and they have expressed an affinity for the content of the play. Our cast is 'more mature,' so references to George Harrison, John Lennon, J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes and Richard Nixon resonate. 'Dreams of Guantanamo' propel the piece into the present. The 'arrogance of power' extends in a crooked line from Nixon to 'Little Bush.'

We capped the day off with a dinner at 'Rick's,' on Sheridan. A party of six. A great meal, a long, rambling conversation. The looming election hanging over us like a bad dream. The hostility to 'Little Bush,' was palpable. I think like minded people will head to the polls to take America back from the brink of disaster. It is so easy for this Behemoth to slip off the tracks. Power invariably ends up in the hands of the corrupt and craven.

Sunday, October 24, 2004


Back to the blog. Everything is falling together. Sometimes forces just seem to converge, and all is well. Rehearsal yesterday was clunky but good. We broke the piece down into pieces, all the 'cue to cues:' lights out, lights up, music here, machine guns there. We have created a great group dynamic, and ultimately the group transcends everything. The play is the vehicle, the structure that holds the group together; but its the energy of the players, acting and re-acting off each other that makes it all worthwhile. To do this 'live,' in the moment, without a net, to find actors willing to risk it all, for the hell of it, is the real kick. The audience, yes, Virginia, we hope to have an audience, is the co-conspirator in this little 'game.'

Last night, Carla and I went to an art opening at the gallery. Carla was one of the featured painters. Her work is large, luminous, bold, bright, and beautiful. We kind of floated around the space, taking in the art, the people; not grasping, or holding on to anything. People just want to see and be seen. "Hello, I'm alive, how about you? Do you ever wonder what happens next?"

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Ride the Whirlwind

A good day yesterday. I conducted a teleconference connecting parties from the East Coast to the West. Might be on the fast track to a partner opportunity for my company. Good timing seems like magic. In the afternoon, I hooked up with Michael Patrick Sullivan and we headed over to Peter Jones Gallery to play music. It felt good to strap on my electric guitar. Michael plays some nice 'dark' songs; edgy and brittle, made me think of 'The Violent Femmes.' I tried to add some dark shadings. We played for hours. Playing guitar is one of my favorite things; puts me in a positive, relaxed frame.

This is the final weekend before the 'Henry Goodbar,' opening. Key rehearsals today and tomorrow. David is in from Sante Fe as the 'third eye.' There are a million little details (light adjustments, sound cues), but I'm feeling good about where we're heading. I'm hoping we'll have an audience. I'm jumping into the whirlwind. No looking back. 'Damn the torpedoes!'

Friday, October 22, 2004

The McGuffin

Finished 'Will in the World,' last night. Stephen Greenblatt (thank you Adam Gopnik) conjures up Shakespeare's world, gives us a sense of the man, and the times in which he lived. He puts the plays in a 'context,' which doesn't 'explain' anything, but makes them resonate in new ways. Greenblatt like Shakespeare, uses his imagination to create a world based on documentary evidence, myth, poetry and speculation.

Greenblatt accuses Shakespeare of 'raising the dead.' Othello, Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth; these characters come to us from a distant past (they were already past in Shakespeare's time) fully-formed, conjured by the playwright, re-animated by the actors (Shakespeare was a performer too). Playwright as: conjurer, magician.

Greenblatt tells us that sometimes Shakespeare seems to peek out from behind one of his masks, and as a 'for instance,' he mentions, Iago; and I was pleased because that's exactly how I felt when I recently saw 'Othello.' Iago is the villian who manipulates the other characters, he propels the plot forward, he steps outside events, he comments to the audience. Iago's speech examining reason and passion appeals directly to the audience, draws us into his conspiracy. This is exactly the role of the playwright.

Greenblatt suggests one of the reasons for the enduring appeal of the plays (besides the magnificent burst of poetic beauty) is that so much is 'not explained.' Why does Iago hate Othello? Why does Hamlet pretend to be mad? Why does Lear test his daughters love? Do the witches drive Macbeth to murder? There is a 'strangeness in the ordinary.' So, anyway, might as well end with the Bard himself: 'we are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with sleep.'

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Smiley Face of Hell

Between cell phone calls yesterday, I re-cut the DVD for 'Henry Goodbar.' I have become quite good at 'multi-tasking,' one of the great advantages of working from home. I was also able to punch up the soundtrack by adding Jimi Hendrix's '1983 Merman,' and the Beatles 'Strawberry Fields Forever,' to the mix. Early to bed, early to rise, has meant that I get most of my 'paperwork' done before 9:00 a.m. The days are now: dark to dark, with a little light in between.

The business front is just an on-going duel with the forces of negativity. I almost succumbed to the darkness a day ago, but it is amazing how resiliant you can be if you have the right mix of milk and coffee.

Yes, I know it's a lot of money for a coffee ($3.33), but Starbuck's provides a luxury product at luxury prices, and everyone is happy. Starbuck's pays a decent wage for an honest days work, plus they have tuition credit and health benefits for their employees, so those extra dollars are actually making a worker's life a little better. On the other hand, Wal-Mart is EVIL. Their motto: 'always the lowest price,' means that consumers are at war with 'the workers.' Wal-Mart squeezes their own workers to get that 'lowest price.' My vision of hell: working as a greeter at Wal-Mart. 'Good morning, welcome to Wal-Mart.' If Dante were writing today, this would be one of the 'circles of hell.'

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


As a birthday celebration, it was a bust. I hopped a train, went north, hooked up with a business colleague and drove up to Milwaukee to meet with a competitor. We made a pitch to them about working together. It was an odd meeting; a real, substantial company sat down with a illusory, shadow company (I work for the shadow one). It was strange, unsatisfactory, probably another rabbit hole. I am paid to be a shadow, to chase shadows, to do battle with windmills. Sort of an urban, high-tech, Quixote.

By mid afternoon, I was really flagging; nature's birthday gift to me: a malicious little cold. Early evening, I celebrated with a Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia (Captain Trips Lives) and a bottle of Perrier. No Carla, she's in New York, so it was just me and the birds and Will Shakespeare ('Will in the World,' -- I'm vicariously living in 1601). I read my book for awhile, until my eyes began to blur. Still early evening: I put the birds to bed, shut out the lights and went off to Dreamland.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

A Pre-mature Being

I was born in a hospital, in Chicago, on this day, 49 years ago. I don't remember, but have been told that I was 'pre-mature,' and that I spent some time in an incubator before I could face the world on my own. I was lucky to be born into tight-knit family. I started as the happy go lucky little, fair-haired, boy, (Sunny Jimmy, indeed) and I've been that same boy ever since.

It's been a long, strange trip...and...a blink of an eye. They say that your cells regenerate, and that every seven years your body is made of these regenerated cells...so this would be the seventh version of myself.

I'm 'in a good place,' no major regrets, no broken bones, a few scars, but I believe, most, if not all, of my wounds have been self-inflicted. I have been in the process of 'becoming.' I have been a little slow on the uptake, unsure, not realizing just how much I could do, not understanding that I had to decide how the world is made; that the world would not tell me it's secrets, I would have to discover them on my own. Not an efficient way to live, but it has been good enough.

I'm still premature...probably always will be, just hoping I'm a little wiser down the line.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Every Man Needs Protection

Monday morning, dark; slept like a dead man.

The weekend was devoted to theater; excellent rehearsals, I upgraded the lighting and sound system. Music is always a big part of our productions. I've inserted a few of my all-time favorite songs into 'Goodbar': The Stone's 'Gimme Shelter,' Neil Young's 'My My, Hey, Hey,' The Sex Pistol's 'God Save the Queen,' Jimi Hendrix's 'Freedom,' and The Who's 'Overture.' The music is so good, I'm disappointed when we fade it out, to let the actors speak.

'Goodbar,' is a real freak production: an amalgam of things I've culled from the life of Howard Hughes, visions of Richard Nixon, Lennon and Harrison dabbling with LSD, modern string theory, odd slapstick, Errol and Sean Flynn, and the madness at Guantanamo Bay. Rashid is the 'radical anchor,' of the production, it is his plight, in prison, powerless, vunerable, a suspected 'terrorist.' The ultimate measure of a society is how we treat the 'least amongst us,' Rashid is one of the 'least.'

We end with Nina Simone's version of Dylan's 'I Shall be Released,'... 'I see my light come shining, from the West down to the East, any day now, any day now, I shall be released...'

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Dancing in the Dark

Yesterday, I sacrificed it all for Black Forest. Rehearsal started at 10:00 a..m., I didn't leave until 10:30 p.m. We had a good, solid run-through of the show with the full cast, then I stayed after to address lighting and sound issues. I added another dimmer to the lighting design. Then I struggled with setting up a new sound system. I couldn't quite get it to work. Electronics is not my strong suit.

I took the red line home. Saturday night on the red line is humbling. It is a very interesting demographic. Street people, party-goers, the floatsam and jetsam of life. The cold wind was whipping, nothing like standing on an el platform late at night, waiting for a train. Up early, to finish the DVD of the video we shot and cut.

Warren Zevon used to sing a song, 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead.' He paid the price for living the rock and roll lifestyle by taking an early exit. I'm figuring, I'll sleep when I get home tonight.

This morning I hear a Lakota Indian on the radio talking about the 'great spirit,' and how the divinity is in all things of the universe. By smudging themselves with herbs, they take in a little of the universal energy. Dark forces, taken in small doses makes one stronger: life is a process of 'acceptance,' not 'resistance.' Instead of a battle of dark and light, it is a dance.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


Yesterday, I was in the 'blue chair,' cell phone in hand, a laptop computer for my business tasks, and my desktop computer for my editing tasks; I loaded up the cd player with two disks from the Drive by Truckers and one from Gillian Welch, and plunged into the work.

Sometimes it feels good to 'submerge.' The hours float by. By the end of the day, I had accomplished much: I finished the 'Rahsid,' scenes for 'Goodbar.' I am very happy with the four short films we've created. Rahsid is the character who really holds the piece together, he makes a journey, which ends with a shot of water and light.

On the business side of things, I talked through some issues, tried to move things forward. The accomplishments: much more nebulous, but I kept the game moving forward.

We topped off the evening with a dinner at 'Oceanique,' a French restuarant down the block. We had a great, three course meal, rich and rewarding. Slept well. Today we rehearse and attend to a million details on the production. Sometimes there's no time to think, instead it's all about the 'doing.'

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Soft Machine

I felt like I was hanging by a thread yesterday. My maladies, seem to be accumulating. I'm still dealing with a bad back (it is getting better) and my body just seemed to be one step behind.

I was accused of being 'soft' yesterday, by my business collegues. I've heard this charge before: that I am too lenient with Customers, I am not a 'tough' negotiator etc. This really riles me up (maybe there's an element of truth in it?). I see my 'job' as being able to listen to people, trying to find a solution, moving forward. I am not about 'the hard sell.' I don't believe in it, I'm not suited to it.

I believe in the 'humble' approach. This is in contrast to what I see as arrogance; a blindness, that characterizes my management team. Most of my battles have been with my own team. I don't think they really understand how to develop relationships. What they see as my 'weakness' is actually my strength. They mistake my smiles; my positive, happy attitude for an easy innocence. I'm tougher than they know. Sometimes I try to 'be the nail,' to hold things together, or to 'be like water,' passive and flowing. To maintain a genial humbleness takes a tremendous act of will. To 'run energy,' to let the negative go, is the essential work.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


It there anything drearier than hearing of someone else's physical maladies? Yesterday, my back, got the 'works' from Mari, my acupuncturist: electrical stimulation, needles -- in my back, my hands, my feet. She also applied heat to the area, and threw in some 'new age' music to boot. It was all very relaxing. Somehow, the needles, placed strategically, stimulate the body to heal itself; at least that's the theory.

Eastern medicine: needles and herbs, seems much less invasive than the Western kind. In the East, there is much less reliance on technology, in the West, it seems, we believe our technology will save us. Since there's so much we don't know, maybe less is more.

I have a long day ahead of me. I'm traveling with a business collegue to the far South Side for a meeting. I'm a little 'low energy,' this morning. I must be careful not to 'give it all away.'

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Juggler

Today, trying to juggle at least three things at once. I'm heading to the acupuncturist this morning; a few needles in my lower back will hopefully get my 'chi' flowing again. I've been feeling a little 'creaky,' the last few days.

Then, a business meeting in the loop. I am trying to move some 'deals' forward, but I am 'riding a tiger,' each deal has it's own momentum, it's own tempo, not sure what I really offer, except: show up and be aware/awake.

Then, later at home, I will continue work on the video project for 'Goodbar.' I've completed two scenes with Rashid: two to go. We captured some good images on the video shoot last weekend, Wahid did a great job, he looks good on tape. I've gotten better at the editing process, things come a little easier, I'm aware of sound, camera movement, lighting and flow. Throw in a little music to cover some of the sound issues, add a little 'cross dissolve' here and there, and bingo, Rashid, my Guantanamo prisoner, comes alive!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Good Morning, Bob!

Bob Dylan's voice on the radio this morning...'the answer my friend...is blowing in the wind...' still gives me a chill. Cutting, hard-edged, midwestern...the young prophet standing on the corner.

Bob says he was just doing his 'job.' The label: 'voice of a generation,' was a burden, a stone he carried around with him that had nothing to do with the man. It's just that the songs said so much, to so many. "Hey Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me...I'm not sleepy and there ain't no place I'm going to...'

He soaked it all up and gave it back in such a unique and powerful way. 'God said to Abraham, kill me a son, Abe said man, you must be putting me on...' OR 'The man standing next to me, his head was exploding, I was praying the pieces wouldn't fall on me...'

The words, the voice, unlike any other. A prophet, a poet, a walking contradiction... yes sir, Bob Dylan, that skinny little dude from Hibbing, Minnesota a conjurer, an inspirer. 'I can't help it, if I'm lucky...'

Monday, October 11, 2004

A Perfect Hell

A long 'Goodbar' rehearsal yesterday. The raw structure of the piece is in place. We have a good, mature group of performers growing comfortable in their roles. Adding lights, music and black-outs for scene changes will help finish the production. There is much work to do. David will be coming in on the 22nd to review and give us additional notes. To be continued...

We stayed after rehearsal to see a 'puppet show' version of Kurt Vonnegut's 'Player Piano.' It was a very innovative presentation using little cardboard cutouts and light to project shadows on a screen. Live music was provided by 'Francois,' an excellent cello player and whistler. It was all an elaborate dance of light and music. It depicted a war between man and machine. After being immersed in the verbal pyrotechnics of our own play, it was kind of refreshing not to have to follow a text, but ultimately there was very little to hold on to, except a kind of quiet, low-tech, beauty.

What is entertaining? To ask an audience to laugh, to shed tears, to amaze, divert, challenge? In Will Shakespeare's time 'Hamlet' co-existed with 'bear-baiting,' a staged spectacle where a bear, chained to a stake, would be attacked by dogs. This was considered an entertaining diversion.

Was, 'King Lear,' perceived as an elaborate, poetic, version of 'bear-baiting?' Why are 'the villians,' (for instance: Edward in 'Lear,' and Iago in 'Othello') so entertaining? The villians drive the plot forward; they conspire against the honest and simple characters, and by confiding in the audience, they include us in their conspiracy. When the villian is punished, there is a feeling of justice earned. We get the vicarious thrill of transgression, and then when the punishment comes, we can stand back and be happy that we are just 'bystanders.'

Krishnamurti was once asked, why evil existed in the world. Krishamurti replied, 'to thicken the plot.' Without evil, without the villian would we all die of complete, absolute, boredom? A perfect utopia - a perfect hell?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Leave a Trace

Yesterday, the wakeup call came at 5:45 a.m. (4:45 Chicago time) and I kicked into gear: getting my stuff together, packing my bag, visiting my blog, checking out the news, taking a hot shower (I pointed the nozzle at my lower back and let the hydro-therapy do it's magic). Living in a hotel is an 'anonymous' experience, you have access to a room, but it is not yours, you fill it up with your things, but they don't really belong there. How was it that Warren Beatty and Howard Hughes spent all those years living in hotel rooms?

N.Y. -- Brooklyn and Manhattan -- amazing. The cityscape is so large, so all-encompassing, you can't help but feel small, insubstantial: how to make a mark, leave a trace? The flight out of La Guardia was all blue sky, smooth ride. Easy landing at O'Hare. Happy to be home.

We shot video yesterday afternoon, I think we captured some nice images of Wahid playing 'Rashid.' Tonight we will review the tape. I will have to do some creative editing around sounds at Peter Jones: slamming doors, heavy footsteps, the el, the train, music, laughing, talking. Where is the sound of silence when you need it?

Last night, I took a hot bath, really sunk into the tub, sipped a glass of Australian Shiraz (a light smooth taste) and read 'Will in the World.' Jack Kerouac used to spend hours in the tub, reading books. It's a great way to 'absorb' literature. Went to bed early. This morning feel happy, 'sunny,' refreshed. Today is a long 'Goodbar,' rehearsal. 'There's no place like home.' 'Home is where you hang your hat.'

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Why is a Snake a Snake?

Yesterday was much better. My bad back was a little less bad, the business conference ended early, and so I wandered the streets of Brooklyn on a sunny, autumn Friday. I found a nice Thai restuarant on Court street, then made my way to BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) to see a new staging of 'Othello.' BAM's theater space used to be called 'The Majestic,' it was built in 1903, it was a pre-Broadway tryout space in the 30's and 40's and then fell into a long disrepair, until Peter Brook decided it would be a good location for one of his productions. It is a 900 seat theater that has been restored, but it looks shaggy and raw, with peeling paint on the ceiling, exposed brick walls. It's a place with a 'history,' and character.

'Othello,' was staged beautifully, the actors were excellent; the actors mature and accomplished in voice and movement. Good theater acting is a unique art form; the players are like a guild, or a priesthood, it is a special calling, that requires extraordinary skills. The rewards are primarily in the 'doing:' in the business on stage. This 'Othello' was stripped down, tight, the text soared, the staging was taut and to the point. Iago is a 'villian,' from the first word to the last. He leads the honest man, Othello, like an 'ass,' to the slaughter. Othello's simple honesty almost seems a flaw, as he is easy to fool, and easy to incite to violence. The hero is easily prone to jealousy, and Iago plays him like a fiddle.

So, it is the conspiring, dishonest, calculating, false, Iago who is most intriguing. 'The divinity of hell.' Iago makes an argument about reason over passion. He convinces, but at the same time, he is wicked, he unleashes the forces of murder, and revenge which lie waiting in the heart of the honest, simple, man. We watch Iago set his trap, playing a double game, almost admiring his diabolical intelligence, the audacity of his plan. Why is he so evil? Why is a snake a snake?

Anyway, (oh heresy) I actually left at intermission: the first act ends at the point where Iago's plan has taken root in the Moor. The 'setup' seemed rewarding enough. The rest is already foretold. Passion, murder and revenge. I exited the theater, walked down Fulton Street (Hip Hop Land) and I was back in my room by 10:00 p.m.

I fly home this morning. We have a video shoot scheduled in the afternoon. This will be a long day.
Oh yes, and why is a snake a snake?

Friday, October 08, 2004

About a Weak Back

I pride myself on being, 'the stoic,' sunny jimmy, but yesterday, dear blog, (I can confide in you), I was all 'dumps.' I woke up yesterday with a bad back; it was stiff as a board, I could not bend; putting my shoes and socks on was a long, painful process. I believe I strained my back the previous day, when I tried to put the booth together. 'Hey doc, I got a weak back, I got it about a week back.'

My bad back set the tone for the day. I put on a smile, and tried to gut my way through. Of course, yesterday was the marathon session at this energy conference: glad-handing people wandering around these little false booths, with false little smiles, plastered on their false little faces. My heart was not in it. I put on a performance, I talked about energy monitoring as if it mattered. I played the hustle and the schmooze. I could not wait to get out of there. I took a walk around Battery Park, it was a golden day, the sun shining, the water flashing, the life and sounds of the city swirling around me.

I cut out early, there was another 'cocktail reception,' which I was determined to miss at all costs. I went back to Brooklyn and decided to go see a movie. I picked, 'The Motorcyle Diaries,' a film about the young Che Guevara (I thought it would be a good antidote to the corporate schmooze), but it turns out I misread the listing, 'Diaries,' didn't open until Friday, so instead, I went to a repellant little French film called 'Red Lights.' It is a well-made piece, but I did not enjoy it. A perfect cap to the day.

I wandered back to my room and read about Shakespeare in London. Newcomers to London were greeted by the sight of up to 35 heads affixed to the London Bridge, these were traitors (mostly catholic) to the crown, who had been beheaded and displayed as a warning to the masses. What did young Will think as he paseed those heads? 'This is the town where I will make my fortune and fame.' (?)

Thursday, October 07, 2004

A Bridge Too Far?

Yesterday, I ran the Brooklyn Bridge one and a half times (there were two film shoots on the bridge, one, looked like a commercial about food, and the other, was focused on two outrageous drag queens who were having a significant moment). The bridge is actually a great running path, a good part of the path is wood, so I ran with an extra spring in each step.

It was a long day at the business show: it was set-up day and then a cocktail reception at 5:00. It is a strain to be attentive for 8 hours at this business conference 'thing.' It's a false environment, a bunch of guys walking around in suits, pretending to be interested in meters, generators, computers, etc. I kept up a brave front, but I couldn't wait to get out of there. By the time I got back to my room I was exhausted. I crashed out early.

Thankfully, I had a thought provoking conversation with my father in the afternoon yesterday about 'history,' and how as a people, as a society, we seem to have amnesia. I do think we need to try to 'learn,' from history, but I'm not sure what lessons are to be derived from 'one damn thing after another.' There's seems to be some kind of never-ending story unfolding, but I'm not sure it has a purpose, although, it does seem to have a direction. There's a biological evolution and a 'cultural evolution,' which seem to move 'forward,' at different speeds. Biologically we are not so different from early man, but culturally we have moved in many directions. I have been reading about Shakespeare's time, and just like today, there is war, poverty, madness, joy, beauty, etc. The manners change, the fashion, the language, changes, but the broad outlines of a man's time on earth are the same: born, lives, dies.

History can enrich our lives, because it reflects how others have lived and died. The stories of others, the biographies of individuals, and nations, can be illuminating. But the 'lessons' are less clear. There is pain, there is joy, there are a million ways to live and die. Each man must choose his own narrative, and try not to sink beneath the weight of the world. The bridge is a good metaphor: running above the traffic, above the crowd, looking to the sun, hoping to get to the other side, and to come back again, renewed, refreshed, stronger and dare I say it; in some little way wiser!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The Bridge

I'm at a hotel in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. I walked the bridge yesterday afternoon (about an hour back and forth), it is an incredible structure that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan. The bridge took 14 years to construct, 24 people died in the constructing. It is a 'suspension' bridge, a remarkable feat. There is a bike/walking path that takes you above the traffic, above the water; to the west, there's the Statue of Liberty looking sort of small and 'toy-like.' Yesterday was a beautiful, clear autumn afternoon in New York. I sat on a bench at the foot of the bridge, practiced lines from my play, and watched the swirling, mad carnival of people and traffic. The streets are alive, the city is a large system, a structure, an animal with an incredible roiling energy. I just surfed the energy, alive in my own lonely bubble.

I walked down Court Street in Brooklyn (Cobble Heights) and found a nice restuarant (salmon, cucumber/avocado soup). I ate well, then went back to my room to watch the VP debate. My only comment: an old, sick man sat next to a young, vibrant man; they talked about alternate universes.

I'm here for a business conference. Today I'm to set up a booth at the conference hotel. It's all just show biz. I'm playing National Account Manager, sort of a 'high tech' Willy Loman. All I have is a 'shoe shine and a smile.' Anyway, the Marriott is my home for a few days. The internet connection is good, the coffee is not. Since I'm on a little Shakespeare kick, I'm thinking of checking out a new staging of 'Othello,' at BAM. Hope I can get tickets tonight.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Big Apple

Today, I'm heading to New York City. I'm attending a business conference at the Embassy Suites, near Battery park until Friday. I'll be staying at my usual hotel, the Brooklyn Marriot, near the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge will be my new running path for the next few days. I hope to see some theater, (looking for some off-beat inspiration) and to find some good restuarants. Philip Clark, my client, is always a gracious host. We'll be commuting in the morning together, from Brooklyn to the show.

I've got my walkman, plus many good discs to sink into (Sigur Ros, The Who, Donnie Darko, Bob Dylan) and my book, 'Will in the World, How Shakespeare became Shakespeare' (at the age of nineteen, Will was married, with three kids, no good profession, no good prospects --- he heads to London to find his fortune). I've also got my laptop, I'm committed to blogging every day. I'm bringing my script, I have just one more scene to memorize and then, I'm 'off book.'

Yesterday, I edited the video we shot on the beach. I think we have a very nice ending sequence: Rashid walks to the water, the camera slowly comes up behind him, circles his head, ends in profile, the sun streaming down, shafts of light and sun spots dance around him. 'I dance, to the beat , of a simple, rock and roll...song.'

Monday, October 04, 2004

Rashid Duck-Walks

Yesterday was all about 'the good work,' a very good rehearsal with the full cast for 'Goodbar,' and a video shoot in the late afternoon with the actor playing Rashid, on the beach in Evanston. The light was good, the wind was whipping, and we captured some nice images: Rashid, dressed in white, dancing on the beach, walking towards the water, doing an almost joyful 'duck-walk,' into the immensity where water and sky meet.

Carla and I reviewed the images in the evening. Wahid/Rashid is a young actor, born in Bahrain, who has lived in Chicago since the age of three. He is a young, attractive kid who graduated from Depaul with a technical degree (he has a good day job) who has just entered the Second City program for comedy/improv. Wahid had rehearsed a few lines of dialogue and we did multiple takes. The later takes were looser, almost joyful; we burned some tape, joked around, which helped him relax, and find an amiable 'honesty.'

Rashid is a powerful presence in the play, he is 'the other,' from a foregn land, but his words are 'poetic,' he must come across as sympathetic. He is a 'mujahadeen' from Afganistan. He is not depicted as an 'evil-doer,' but as a human being struggling against the constraints of being human. 'The essential message of Islam: to surrender to love.' This is counter to the political narrative of the day.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Stage Business

Weekends are all about Black Forest, and our play, 'Free Henry Goodbar, Telepath.' Yesterday's rehearsal was solid, the performances are emerging, the text is becoming 'embodied.' It seems the cast has finally 'jelled.' The lineup: Noel as 'The Bard,' Pat as 'Johnny Pilgrim,' Phoenix as 'Yvonne' and Doctor Hoffman,' Carla as 'the Siren,' Wahid as 'Rashid,' and me as 'Henry Goodbar.'

We open end of October, there is still much to do: we will add another dimmer to give us more channels for 'lighting zones.' We need to work the 'transitions,' between scenes, the music cues, blackouts, stage business, moving props, etc. Also, refine and tighten the physical score; make movements specific, organic, flowing.

We are adding another layer of complexity: we will film Wahid's role as Rashid, and his performance will be displayed on a video monitor during the live performance. Noel will 'interact,' with the video monitor as another character, Rashid (supposedly at Camp X-ray) will reside in another time and place. After rehearsal today, we will shoot exteriors, and next Saturday we film everything else. Rashid is in three scenes with one major monologue. Wahid is a young kid, with a quiet vunerability. This is a great contrast to what we had with Manny. Should be perfect for my vision of a 'mujahadeen' from the battlefields of Afganistan, now in solitary confinement at Guantanamo Bay.

'I, Rashid, the one who cannot dance...I dance to the four winds...'

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Brecht is 'the Man'

The worm has turned again...

A cool blast of air this morning, there's the crisp, clear, feel of autumn. The sun hasn't peeked over the horizon yet, it is as dark as midnight.

Yesterday I was on a strange ride...

I envision myself as the 'optimistic realist,' (see Bertolt Brecht) in a land of doomsayers and fatalists. This optimism doesn't wear well with those who have found refuge cloaked in a dark, cynical, pessimism.

The optimistic part: life is good. There is a mystery, a beauty, that is ultimately unknowable. This 'not knowing' is not a failure, but a gift.

The realist part: life is suffering. There is turmoil and trouble everywhere. There are 'dark forces' in the world. One must be able to see the world with clarity. It is a hard, pitiless, paradise.

One must work to become 'authentic,' not the 'happy idiot,' not 'the Great Pretender,' the pretense of happiness is just another rabbit hole. Also, one must give up the idea of having 'others' see the world as we do. One man, one vision. We find our common humanity by being totally, absolutely ourselves: a unique manifestation of energy in a roiling sea of energy.

Friday, October 01, 2004

The Mothers of Invention

I failed to convince Manny to videotape his role for 'Henry Goodbar,' so, we are back to the drawing board. I contacted an actor who we auditioned months ago, we are to meet with him tonight. The plan: have him do a quick study for the role of Rashid, and tape his performance within the next two weeks. Then, I will need to do some creative editing. We will set up a video monitor for the live performance and the Rashid character would appear on-screen only. The 'interrogation scene' would be between a live actor onstage (Noel) and a taped performance (Wahid).

This actually all 'makes sense' for the piece; Rashid, is a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay; the Dreamer dreams of a character in another time and place. It will be tricky to pull this off, but at this point, we don't have many options. As always, 'necessity is the mother of invention,' (thank you, Frank Zappa).

Creativity sometimes comes not from complete freedom, but from 'real constraints.' Somehow, we want to turn these 'constraints' to our advantage. This is true in everything we do.

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