Archive for May, 2012

From the deep archives/photo diary: West Coast, 1986

May 28, 2012

I’ve unexpectedly found myself spending a lot of this Memorial Day weekend looking at old pictures and uncovering all kinds of pleasant recollections.

In the summer of 1986, I went on a West Coast road trip with my friend the late Bob Boyle. We ended up in San Diego, but we started out in San Francisco, where I hung out with my playwright friend Stanley Rutherford in the Embarcadero on his lunch break.

From there we drove down the coast, stopping in Big Sur at Nepenthe

Los Angeles was a big destination, and I was eager to see a whole bunch of friends in a short amount of time. So we all met at a Mexican restaurant. I think this was where I first met the poet and artist Gavin Dillard (center), who was then dating my friend the late Dave Whyte (right).

Also at that same dinner were the late Peter Evans (left), a dear friend of mine from New York, and Rick Fouts (right), whom I first met while standing in line at a theater in LA two years earlier.

From there we proceeded to La Jolla where we spent time on Black’s Beach with Dave and Gavin. Gavin took a bunch of great black-and-white photos of us that day, and I got this shot of him.

In those days, I was friends with Des McAnuff, who was artistic director of the La Jolla Playhouse, and I saw shows Des directed there every chance I could get. He and his wife Susan Berman (above) played with the band (the Cadillac Cowboys, below) in a fun mini-concert after William Hauptman’s terrific play GILLETTE, whose cast included a very young Campbell Scott.

The following summer Des directed Linda Hunt as Dolly Levi in a revival of Thornton Wilder’s THE MATCHMAKER.

Linda is a childhood friend of Stephen Holden’s, and I’d gotten to know her a bit over the years through other mutual friends in the theater. Over dinner she told me about her brief torrid affair with Caryl Churchill.

Quote of the day: FEMINISM

May 27, 2012


[Feminism] has been “abducted,” as [Arlie Russell Hochschild] has put it… by the logic and demands of the marketplace — what she provocatively calls “the religion of capitalism.” Feminism has coincided with a drastic lengthening of work hours and a steep decline in job security, and in America those stressors have not been alleviated by social supports like paid family leave and universal child care, at least not in comparison with most other Western nations. As a result, too many bonds of family and community are left untied by anxious, overworked couples, too many familial functions have to be subcontracted, and too many children perceive themselves as burdens. (One of Hochschild’s finest essays, also published elsewhere, is called “Children as Eavesdroppers”; it describes how children listen closely to their parents’ haggling over child care, and conclude that they are unwanted.) Feminists once dreamed that the work of mothering would be properly valued, maybe even reimbursed, once some portion of it had been redistributed to fathers. Instead, a lot of it is being handed off to strangers.

— Judith Shulevitz, reviewing Hochschild’s The Outsourced Self in the NY Times

Culture Vulture: Loudon Wainwright III, the Gossip, and Actress

May 25, 2012

I’ve been under the headphones the last couple of days, listening to some great new music in VERY different genres:

Loudon Wainwright III, Older Than My Old Man Now. Loudon’s songs have always been smart and funny and tuneful, but this batch of songs about aging drop to a new level of depth and honesty.

The Gossip, A Joyful Noise. Beth Ditto continues to emerge as a powerhouse singer — it’s like hearing Madonna or Adele sing with a real rock band, and the muscular production by Brian Higgins showcases them brilliantly.

Actress, R.I.P. Actress is the nom de studio of Darren Cunningham, who churns out a set of steamy atmospheric stoner/sex/rave music — not for every mood or every setting, but I’m liking it a lot.

Quote of the day: ROETHKE

May 25, 2012


Theodore Roethke was a big man, 225 pounds. He was fascinated by gangsters, and he even talked like one — he had a deep voice, a growl. He was manic-depressive, and he often drank too much. He wore fur coats and drove big cars. As a teacher, he was persuasive and emotional. When he wanted his students to write a description of a physical action, he told them to describe what he was about to do, then climbed out the window onto a narrow ledge and inched his way around the whole classroom, making faces at every window. He insisted students memorize poems so that they would have something to call on when they were going through a tough period in life.

— The Writer’s Almanac

[this is the poem of his I know best — I heard it read several times by Michael Meade and/or Robert Bly at mythopoetic men’s gatherings in the early 1990s]

In A Dark Time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood—
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.
What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
That place among the rocks—is it a cave,
Or a winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is—
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Quote of the day: PRESENCE

May 24, 2012


Compared with generations past, theatre artists today are more likely to commute to rehearsal with earphones on, listening to the soundtracks of our lives instead of the voices around us. We send quick, pithy texts instead of calling even our best friends. Many of us actors keep our cell phones in our dressing rooms and text throughout the play, unable to relinquish “connectedness” for a two-hour stretch even while we act – the one thing that purportedly makes us feel the most connected.

This isn’t to point a finger. Our generation is accustomed to communicating with multiple people simultaneously. We experience it as being hyperconnected to a world community, part of the buzz we get from being a Generation Without Borders. And it is wildly attractive. To be connected across state lines, time zones, and continents is an achievement we should make use of.

But there is a flip-side. As connected as we are globally, we are increasingly cut off from our own communities. Our iPod drowns out the person sitting next to us on our commute. We don’t know the name of our neighbor on the other side of the wall. We text with our friend across the country rather than notice the distinctive way the stranger in front of us holds his cane. While some borders have dissolved, new, perhaps subtler, borders have emerged all around us. My call to action for the artists of Generation Without Borders is to strengthen our communities.

To be present. To take the buds out of our ears and listen. To witness and relate to the plights of strangers we see in the street. To be moved by a play and share our thoughts with our fellow audience members before immediately posting a status update. To look out. To offer up. To volunteer in our communities and know who our neighbors are. Let’s embrace what’s best about our new connectedness and reject what threatens to make us self-absorbed, distracted and myopic.

— Amanda Quaid

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