Archive for February, 2010

Quote of the day: THERAPY

February 24, 2010


We now know from neuroscience and attachment research that interpersonal relationships profoundly affect the physical structures and processes of the brain. Indeed, neuroscience tells us that our brains are exquisitely social in nature—as a species, we’re constantly getting into each other’s heads, affecting each other’s moods and emotions, rewiring each other’s neural networks. Therapy works primarily as a nervous-system-to-nervous-system regulator (like mother to child, mate to mate, friend to friend) that helps clients ramp down their own brains’ arousal levels and reactivity, as well as activate their neural capacity for regulating their own emotions.

— John Arden and Lloyd Linford, “The Rise and Fall of Pax Medica,” Psychotherapy Networker

Performance diary: THE HIDDEN SKY and the Charles Ludlam films

February 23, 2010

February 20 – Some friends of Andy’s, writer-director Kate Chisholm and composer-lyricist Peter Foley, have spent the last few years developing a musical called The Hidden Sky, based on Ursula LeGuin’s short story, “The Masters.” It’s currently having a production at the Prospect Theater Company, so we went to have a look. It’s truly Off-Off-Broadway: performed in a disused church, minimal production values, amateur actors, minimal orchestration (two live musicians, everything else on tape), terrible sound, etc. And wouldn’t you know, the woman playing the lead was out sick, so another member of the cast was stepping in, with book in hand. But the musical values were respectable – the choral arrangements (by Foley) were especially lovely, and most of the cast had pretty good voices.

The main draw is the story, set in “a time other than now” but very much about now nevertheless. (It could be taking place in Afghanistan, or Iran, or Iraq, or Albany — any place where religious fanatics are trying to bring back the Stone Age.) The world is dominated by a highly religious culture that worships the sun as God…only the environment has been destroyed so God has not shone through the clouds in many years. Knowledge and thought has been banned, but an underground tribe of “seekers” continue to pursue scientific experimentation and mathematical calculation. A young woman named Ganil, who’s achieved mastery in the crude industrial culture and is engaged to be married to the son of a mucky-muck, possesses unusual aptitude for math. Despite being cautioned against this pursuit and the prospect of bodily mutilation and ostracism, egged on by a renegade from another region named Lee, Ganil focuses on numerical patterns that exist in nature, studying them to the point of neglecting other concerns. (Can you say Sunday in the Cave with Ganil?) In one of the weirder yet fascinating musical numbers I’ve encountered in the theater, she basically discovers or re-invents the Fibonacci sequence. The climactic moment of the show is when she realizes that there is a predictable, elaborate, elegant pattern that shows up in nature, and she proclaims this awesome phenomenon to be “the face of God.” Are we meant to take that seriously and agree with her? Is she truly seeking a scientific alternative to the superstition of the mainstream culture, or is she exchanging one fundamentalist faith-based system with another? Does she have no other language for something mysterious and powerful than to call it “God” and is that the show’s point? (I haven’t read LeGuin’s story, so I don’t know how much of this is original to her or shaped by the adaptors.) Is the show making a case for intelligent-design theory? I had a good juicy discussion of all this over drinks and dessert at French Roast with Andy and Allen, who are both science-fiction/fantasy geeks and enjoyed the show more than I did.

February 22 – Steven Watson had an extra ticket at the last minute to see the showing of “The Lost Films of  Charles Ludlam” (two black-and-white silent shorts left unfinished when he died in 1987)  in the “Queer/Art/Film” series at the IFC Center, hosted by filmmaker Ira Sachs and BUTT magazine editor Adam Baran. I was delighted to go, and I’m glad I went. Not that the movies are great. They’re decidedly not. It was a little like watching the dailies from an extremely low-budget student film – zero editing, bad lighting, mugging rather than acting, every shot going on 20 times longer than necessary (every shot!). But still…there was the late great Charles Ludlam, playing a bisexual convict on the lam in Museum of Wax – it’s thrilling to see his incredibly expressive face on film. And you get a glimpse of him naked on a train in The Sorrows of Dolores, a madcap takeoff on The Perils of Pauline starring Everett Quinton (above) with Ridiculous Theater stalwarts Black-Eyed Susan, Lola Pashalinski, John D. Brockmeyer, and Minette in smaller roles. (Both films would probably be better off being shown as slideshows — brief slideshows! But with some of the terrific music Peter Golub apparently whipped up at short notice for these screenings.) Everett introduced the films alongside Anthony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons fame), who selected the films for showing in the festival and gave a rambling but personal and touching talk about his introduction to the lineage of gay drag theater. The audience for this event pretty much WAS the event. Lots of familiar faces, art fags of every age and gender. It was one of those nights where New York felt like a little tiny cozy village.

From the deep archives: Harry Kondoleon’s THE BRIDES

February 22, 2010

Caroline Kava, Mary Beth Lerner, and Ellen Greene in Harry Kondoleon's "The Brides" (photo by Jonathan Postal)

I’m in the midst of launching a website that is a tribute to and archive of the work of the late Harry Kondoleon — details to be announced soon. But for the moment, I’ve gone back and posted my review for the Soho News in 1981 of his play The Brides (or Disrobing the Bride, as it was called in its first New York production). Harry Kondoleon was a true original artist, and The Brides was one of his most delirious, unusual texts for the theater.

Quote of the day: SEX ADVICE

February 22, 2010


In order to experience true intimacy, we need to get rid of certain socially programmed ideas about physical relationships, sex and spirituality. I would like to offer the following insights regarding sex and spirituality:

(1) Sexual energy is the primal and creative energy of the universe. All things that are alive come from sexual energy. In animals and other life forms sexual energy expresses itself as biological creativity. In humans, sexual energy is the energy of spirit, creative at all levels: physical, emotional and spiritual. In any situation where we feel: attraction, arousal, awakening, alertness, passion, interest, inspiration, excitement, creativity, enthusiasm, in each of these situations sexual energy is at work. Whenever we feel these states of awareness, we must put our attention on these states that we are experiencing, nourishing it with our attention, experiencing it with joy and keep it alive in our awareness.
(2) Sexual desire is sacred and chaste. The suppression of sexual energy is false, ugly and unchaste.
(3) During sexual union there is union between flesh and spirit.
(4) Bliss, carefreeness and playfulness are the essence of sex.
(5) To improve your sexual experiences: Get rid of your expectations! Expectations are primarily in three areas:
Performance. Exemplified in the question: How am I doing?
Feeling: How am I feeling?
Security. Exemplified in the question: Do you love me?
(6) In sex as in all areas of life, resistance is born of fear. All resistance is mental. It implies judgment against what is being felt. Sex becomes a problem if it becomes mixed with hidden emotions, such as shame, guilt and anger.
(7) Sexual intimacy is the road to the taste or experience of true freedom, because it is the one area of life, in which we can be completely uninhibited and free.
(8) Sexual fulfillment occurs, when the experience comes from playfulness instead of need. Frequently people bring their conflict and needs into the sexual experience. When sex is used to fulfill needs it leads to addiction. When sex comes from playfulness, the result is ecstasy.
(9) All problems, related to sex, neurosis, deviancies, sexual misbehavior, violence, can be traced to resistance, suppression and repression, not to the sexual urges themselves. If we are allowed to discover our urges, desires and emotions, without outside inhibition they won’t go to extremes. Extremism in any from is a reaction to repression, inhibition and suppression. Aggression and violence are the shadow energies or fear and impotence.
(10) Sex is a means of escaping our little self or ego. It is many peoples only experience of meditation.
(11) Meaningful sex has to be value based. Values are personal. Each situation that has sexual energy in it involves the whole human being and their entire value system. My values maybe different from yours and I have no right to be the moral judge of anyone’s values. It is important however, to have core values and respect them. Without values we become spiritually bankrupt. Sexual experience will never cause problems and will always be joyful if lovers share the same values.

In summary: True intimacy is union between flesh and flesh, between subtle body and subtle body, between soul and soul. Sexual energy is sacred energy. When we restore sexual energy to the realm of the sacred our world will be chaste and divine wholly and healed.

— Deepak Chopra

Playlist: iPod shuffle, 2/22/10

February 22, 2010

“Water from a Vine Leaf,” Beth Orton
“Poor You,” Kate Baldwin
“They Also Mourn Who Do Not Wear Black,” Sufjan Stevens
“Turbulent Indigo,” Joni Mitchell
“Orphan Girl,” Heather Masse
“Cinderella,” Aqualung
“Where Is Love?” Euan Morton
“Defeated by Love,” Sussan Deyhim
“Blue Bird,” Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions
“Last Day of Our Love,” the Bird and the Bee
“The Fear,” Lily Allen
“He Hesitated,” Natcha Atlas
“Calling,” Axiom of Choice

“Hero and Leander,” Adam Guettel”
“Ruckert Lieder: Ich Bin Der Welt Abhanden Gekommen,” Lorraine Hunt Lieberson
“Share Your Love with Me,” Aretha Franklin
“El Caporal,” My Morning Jacket
“Rouge,” Laurie Anderson
“Birthday Horoscope for B.R.,” Rebecca Luker
“Le Teetab Alayi,” Natacha Atlas
“Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone,” Ella Fitzgerald
“My Funny Valentine,” Curtis Stigers
“Second Self-Portrait Series,” Rachel’s
“Prologue,” the Fifth Dimension
“The Bad and the Beautiful,” Bill Evans
“Valley of the Low Sun,” Jakob Dylan
“Rotiano Secondo,” Giovanna
“You Don’t Know Me,” Ben Folds Presents
“1br/1ba,” Vienna Teng
“Neighborhood #2 (Laika),” Arcade Fire

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