A New Yorker Melting in LA

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Klinghoffer Opera

KlinghofferAct 1:Frought with attempts to liven up a crowd to rally via historical timeline for those who are otherwise two-dimensional. I'm not impressed with the pace nor the angst. Possibly opera, though dramatic and elongated, may not be the form to portray a political bend of factual realm. It executes well only for the passing of time on a cruise ship waiting to live or die
Act 2:
If Act II was a diptych, one side Francis Bacon and the other side Velasquez, these two acts juxtaposed would be each other's exact opposite. Act 2  led to a harsh understanding of the realities of life on a cruise ship and how the mind copes.  Passengers focus on what they'll do when they're home and safe, how they'll laugh about this with their children.   One describes the sandwiches the cruise ship served and their lack of meat, laughing about cigarettes and her misconstrued belief that a hijacker had any balls. The question at hand, does arrogance or the way you are brought up lead to judgement calls that may have otherwise been ironic if only time played a factor. Does education and one whos politically fervent, need to shut the fuck up, or does he think hes going to pull a Bill o'reilly with irrational people and somehow get away with it?  It's not that I feel anyone deserves anything that happens in tragedies, and in this case the dialogue leaves you virtually slapping the sense into the cruisers for such blasé coping. When listening to the dialogue of the actors, I don't doubt that the ones speaking out with confidence were brought up to be so adamant. Some men and women like to throw their religion's supremacy around. Klinghoffer was not afraid to speak up and let men with guns know how he feels about them.  This may happen when you're afraid and helpless. Why not try reasoning, especially if you think you're dead already? The problem is, hindsight is 20/20 for an audience.   

The two best parts about the opera were its focus on how ones mind gets polluted from the motherland and a collective religious chorus which drives a modern dancer to soundtrack without music. And second, is to put one in the shoes of a wife who learns the worst unexpected news and to dare recreation of ones feelings when actually in true life this must've been devastating. Where would u be if the girl you loved for 40 years was killed and u didn't get to say goodbye. How would she feel if u were gone and her heart had long since beat in unison with yours. In the end, u want to trade places for the hurt of one's spouses death isn't worth living. 

I am yet to understand if the strategy of the captain was non-fiction in that he believed he would fare better with negotiating power by lying to Egypt stating that all passengers were safe. When in real life we do know the plane with those PLF members was re-routed and they were arrested after the US heard the truth, then again they got off on parole anyway.  Was it deplorable, or was it genius to save the rest of those lives? Your opinion. 
 Why though are people picketing outside about this interpretation by John Adams?   I grabbed a pamphlet from a Rabbi to understand it. What I didn't quite grasp was how this is any different than a lawyer trying to understand the mindset of a criminal they are beset to protect and defend.  Are the lawyers pieces of shit for representing the side of a derelict loser criminal? No, he/she is doing their job and representing the other side with somewhat of a sideways argument. I don't think the exploration of the opposite side by a composer is exactly like a lawyer playing devils advocate.   I don't believe entertaining that analyses is anything but human nature or intelligent to assess. The pamphlet from the rabbi said if it were a black person, the public would be up in arms. I think this type of thing, although not terrorist related, happens to blacks like parking maids give tickets for blown meters. The ultimate question of this nights performance is, why is the recitation of Klinghoffers demise considered exploitation?  If in this case, you absolutely had no control that this man died, then why not teach people like me about this horrible tragedy. Why hide this man's death instead of hanging it out there as a red badge of courage?  I now know of Klinghoffer. I did not before. I know he was brutally murdered, and i know that was specific to his religion's persecution by another. Why is that considered to be whoring out this man's life?  In fact, i think its a more present analogy for what has been dragged out until today which is the jews persecution during the holocaust. At least here is a more present example for millenials to consider. Thank god for John Adams and for teaching us about this man. What idiots would block thousands from understanding his brutal death. METLive in HD offers just that type of exposure. Klinghoffer's story had all to gain in these performances. The pamphlet I had slid to me at the steps of Lincoln Center was the propaganda. 

Hyena at La Mama


To tear away flesh, to feel the skin ripping as you turn your jaw to the side with teeth clenched, as you grip the bone and feel the leg pulled away from you, you’re hoping for delight.  You’re willing to ravage what is dead in order to not make its loss of life less important.  You enjoy its life in your mouth because you can, because you’re in control.  How much of our lives can we consciously control without factors in our subconscious telling us how to act?  What is ok for a woman to do, and why?  Can she be who she wants without judgement?  I fear not, because what men want, women typically will be forced to become.  Possibly that’s because nature winds a clock that counts down, or possibly its because the values of cultures steer different ships in opposite directions than a movement towards women’s independence.  Hyena was as graphic as its first scene where a woman, our woman, Romana Soutus wants nothing but to be let out of her cage, but she  must ask for help, or otherwise be given permission via lock and key, and we will allow her out.  So came the mini-pigtails, the open wound, the heaving breasts indicative of a sophomore’s get-up.  The subtleties of lilly white Americana flow throughout her work, as do her gyrations, see-through panties and attempts at tackling allegory via the Boy Who Cried Wolf, and a woman seeking to wear the mask of what eats Little Red Riding Hood.  In one moment, she’s awaiting her iron to heat up so she could ease the wrinkles out of her blouse, before damning the pores and seeds of strawberries to their last drop as its juice dribbles down her elbow, her arm, her armpit hair, her hips and to the floor.  Such frustration could make the tickle of liquid flowing down your elbow as meaningless as a compliment from someone you already know loves you.  Romana wants to make a point, and within her dialogue so much of what we yearn for is heard, but rarely does it get to settle.  There are lines of greatness that women deserve to tattoo on their biceps.  We want to be asked how we like to get fucked.  We want to know what she wants for the rest of her life.  She does an amazing thing, bringing us into a space, making us feel uncomfortable but invited, insecure but empowered, jealous but desperately seeking fresh air, and our lives, with the remote, and the less assumed weight of self doubt lingering on our careers and whether our deepest darkest everything will make for entertainment.  We live in double standards but perpetuating ignorance is innate in humans.  You cannot escape a tide, regardless of how hard you swim.  And as tide’s change, which I believe they are, Romana will find herself in a wave that’s crashing toward shore, but has with it the foam, the seaweed, the sandbar and the bruises that she can walk through life with.  Wearing those black-and-blues like medals which would have been earned in other ways as timing and fights and love will do to us all. This was a woman coming of age, ravenous and aggressively pursuing the dead so that someone alive would notice her, and the spotlight’s still shining, regardless of the bruises…after all, we like the bruises.

MDLSX at La Mama


One solitary killer performer; one play not labeled or titled via acronyms. This is a journey that doesn't stop tonight, not for the person showing us their life, and not for us. Mini tripod and iPhone in-hand, tandem home videos also translate an education lesson that I will use in my life if ever confronted with its subject. You don't wish anyone a tougher life, you learn, you listen, and you love. The timing is always right. The title? Let's start with the title.   Perhaps a strategic choice reminiscent of our culture lessening important things. Do I think that was strategic?  Brilliance is always fun, in the minds of the brilliant.  Vowels? Why does a word always need one? Formulas are plastic and we need to be able to shape things in a way that we can understand them even though it's not what you're used to. Maybe it's a metaphor for our generation's attention span, or how we speak, or spell, like kindergarteners sounding out words and then attempting their spelling. Why can art be subjective, but spelling can't? Spell how you would like kids, if it translates across generations, great, if it doesn't, who cares, life is short and those whom you love will get it.
Tonight this performer revealed their discovery of their life and exposed the transformation to us. If your life could have a soundtrack, what songs would you pick? Years go by and each song is indicative of the moment - The Cramps, David Bowie, screaming as each kid on the playground asks if you're a boy or a girl. A celebration when a pubic hair surfaces, and an orchestra follows. Same goes for breasts and the ache that may follow growth, and a melodramatic build and confusion play when a penis protrudes; one person. This is their life. You're allowed in. She pulls her hair back to reveal an uncanny look mirroring her brother, and then she sticks the camera inches from her vagina. If you were picturing some play-doh creature you blindly make during a Cranium challenge, you're wrong. You've been up in there and you're not confused. In the end though, she is and she wants to be the person inside. Not what parents have steered or expected; what the person inside is saying.

Alejandro Jodorowsky makes a vocal cameo in an interview with someone equally important considering their opinion on the topic was stellar and well informed. There shouldn't be a label for a man or a woman since there aren't just two, ever. If that's true, than a man or woman are not the only two options so therefore acknowledge. In the end we did. Although this human beings life led to a hitchhiking journey, shaved heads and drugged mermaids in tanks w sheer shiny flippers, a kaleidoscope of colors, songs, beats and philosophies, never could you put yourself in their shoes, and so you stand and clap. I haven't stood and clapped in a long time. I literally jumped out of my beach chair, and threw my jacket down to clap. Not because you're sad, not because it was difficult for the performer to deliver such a show, but because you know you're not that strong. Because you know you just witnessed something above and beyond someone coming out to the public.  Because you know you're a better person for her having been alive, and selfishly walking away with more than what you ever paid.

Goldberg - Marina Abramovic

Goldberg Variations

Surrender your belongings to a locker, take nothing but the key and follow instructions.
You're seated like a Dubai sand resort, or a ufo farm diorama, or the latest burning man tent seashell. You sit gently. Crimping your hamstrings against a wooden beach chair, headphones in-hand. Your neighbors are unaware and lay neatly in place, staring up at a hangar ceiling that could fit a blimp. A gong sounds, and arms raise to silence the world around you. I smile and for some reason shed a single tear. Yup, cliche I know. Maybe I hadn't blinked in a while. I thought about the impossibility of shutting out everything and quieting the noise in ones life, but not being alone in your room, staring at the window, preparing for the next day, or a terrible night's sleep - which many did, sleep, but not out of boredom.  They'd chosen to spend this time in their life in this space, with the silence, the music and nothing else.

The tick of your temple, the rhythm of your heart, every breath guides you through the next twenty minutes. You're a fetus. You're life is muffled. There's light at the end of the tunnel and doors with which you choose to enter this life. A stick is clicking in the background but my attention is focused on the ceiling, on my life, on the mistakes and where I'm at. I'm keenly aware that my experience will be solely mine and different because my life is not the same as anyone else's.  Similar, maybe, but no ones thinking about suicide, or should I say, self-assisted  suicide in my old age and How to Die in Oregon.

Igor Levit is creeping by me at a slow pace. He's wiping his face, he buries his head in his arm and takes a nap on the piano before his work begins. He's nodding his head as if to say "I can't believe I'm doing this again". His piano is slowly pulled into the center of our chaise stadium, our headphones still on, dead silent. 4 illuminated doors have been our roof compass. None of which dictate a direction, however a possible moment of birth when they suddenly power down at the sound of a second gong.  The headphones come off, our heads breach, the lit doors slam, one stream of consciousness surrounds us and dims throughout our lives.  The piano slowly rises to the noise of ones life that never ceases from inception. You're born, and so goes the rise and fall of ones trajectory and Igor chooses how to crescendo a lifetime - it's got angst, hyperactivity, love, confusion, awe, fantasy and death.  It might not be your death. Just another chapter, on repeat.  There's no doubt that many a movie scene will subconsciously draw us to the death of elders sitting in wheelchairs at some broken down senior facility. This piano plays like a drug you want to take over and over even though you will die together.  You think of the saying "the soundtrack of ones life" and nothing rings more clear especially when you're cell phone isn't around. As time passes though, you settle deeper into your chair because your arms have fallen asleep at the angles you'd set them at shoulder length. Your legs are pinched and your back starts to yearn for a stretch. As you sit, you start asking yourself what time is it, let me check my watch. Is anyone going out after this, where's my phone. I crossed my leg and was worried something would fall out of my pockets into the bars of the Steinway and ruin mastery worse than the coughs from phlegm squandering hackers.  As the light faded and what we knew was an unblemished attempt at painting ones life, it led me straight to my death and the thought of yearning for a song that could walk me out into the next state of silence. I'll now know it when I hear it, because it's mine.



Without having any idea about the Man Who Fell to Earth, I'll break apart the already fractured yet duct taped Lazarus. With cart Blanche access to David Bowie's catalog, the show is like the Northern State Parkway. It winds its way around the richest areas of the island but never lets you peek inside. You get glimpses of greatness at multiple landscapes and then you're pulled over by the strobe of police before you can even tell them how much you enjoyed your view.  The actors are mad for each other and drive your interest through the two straight hours, however there's never enough dialogue to secure ones fallibility.  Just as your invested, poof magic trick, smoke, stab, drag off stage and strobe into the next digital remedy. I try to keep my criticism to be less than just a scene outline, and therefore where in my life did I find myself? I found myself searching for each character's wants and needs without focusing on the David Bowie songs that were way too popular to not be a biopic musical on his life (also the vinyl records in sleeve laying against the wall was kitschy). How do we create a scene that matches this song, and hey, we can sing it slower or pitchy...I loved it and I wished it was me, but I also wanted to fall in love.  I wanted to lay in the afterbirth cytoplasm that is my life and bleed opaque purity as if to have offered more than I was given. I watched that intercellular fluid travel toward me on stage as they lay. The battle between life and death is indicative of the angel and devil on ones shoulders, or a grim reaper like meet Joe black, taking a life in order to meet you in the flesh and depict a message that you might not have believed if not tactile; there he's striding past in your nude box, black as night, the part of your heart that's long since died, and he continues to poison your spirit because you know you're not the same. They'll try to save you. You made up your mind long ago, but you're a good person and try to save them the pain that time has worn on you. Certain characters got me there, even with the snot, the tears, the milk and the electric hair, but I went limp when they started singing about the man who sold the world, or being a hero just for one day.

What would you do if you absolutely couldn't get home but you knew that home existed?  What about not being able to die? I think in the end the only way to survive such pain is your eventual efforts to destroy oneself. Hope is a fallacy and makes for temporary glimpses of a future that's never to come. That's not really a future, that's a dream and therein lies the premise. In order to escape our lives, we picture  ourselves in another place, dreaming about what we'll have and how great it will be, while each day that passes, we grow closer to our deaths. Did we love enough? I hope so. But then again, we know what hope does. It keeps us alive, for how long, and for who, well that's up to you. What memories will keep you ticking. You'll never figure it out. It's not for us, it's more important that you do it for them.

Friday, September 26, 2014

9/11 w Philip Glass, Harriet and Rittenhouse 100

I start in Berlyn.  Standing up against the wall, blocking the kitchen and the two skinny bathroom doors - they couldve been phone booths a century ago - hot pretzels fly by.  We're waiting for Philip Glass.  NYT mag in-hand.  I'm catching up on West Point chicks and the things they'll do for their country, or their future, or my future.  Sipping Rittenhouse Rye 100 - it burns and then it coats.  I squint and my nostrils flare exhaust pipes wincing, dripping, "don't do that to me again" in trachea-speak.  I press down on the gas, or open throttle, or sesame.  My new favorite Rye.  I like what hurts.  What hurts never fails to deliver in life, or libation, or love.  I think of this letter that arrived at my door May 2013.  A Dear John letter, to my father regarding his friend that passed away. 

"I know you were both good friends" she says "and I suspect you remained that way. Undoubtedly this letter is coming as a complete surprise to you, but Robbie was my first true love, although I'm sure he wasn't aware of that fact, I was very saddened to learn of his passing. I often thought of him through the years and in my heart, I hoped our paths might cross again and we could share the story of our lives together and smile."  "Are you in line for the bathroom?"  I snap out of it.  "Nope, left one is occupied."

Time check, 12 minutes and countdown to the man who's brought us Einstein on the Beach and Satyagraha; scores of pleasure brooding with monotony and the test of wills to conquer ones mind versus the body's willingness to oblige.  Can you hold that 10 pound weight straight out in front of you and not shake? Oh you can?  But for how long....because you'll shake, eventually.  Ticket for one lonely soul somehow snagged me front row.  I open my emails.  I'm feeling the love.  I've got 4 minutes.  1) To my CSS: Thank you so much for the closing the lights in the model, you are an unbelievable team mate and where would I be without you.  2) To resident Ms. Kaputnick: I'll make sure we come check your light fixture cover first thing in the morning; thank you for being such a kind and patient resident.  3) To my Director: Heyo, do you need me to setup anything for the Halloween Party - what's everyone being?? If you need anything, I'm always looking for a project!  

Man and new date sit down next to me. They were so lovie dovie that they must be new, or in transition, or just the luckiest people ever.  "I'm gonna keep this on all night" I say to the guy, hinting at my glowing phone screen.  "Oh great!" he says, warmly.  We snuggle into our seats and the lights go down.  

Act 1.  Two men walk across the stage, white shirts, black pants and they begin to clap. Crouching and pounding their hands together, they contain a beat and they do not let it fail.  As they are clapping wildly in rhythm I could not help but feel like this was the origin of entertainment. If there were no radio, no Son House, and the chain gang finally gets a moment to break it down. This was the numbing of ones hands, and ones life, repeatedly executing at a level required of you or else realize your demise as human, flaw-full, and stamped with an expiration date.  I can accomplish this, while you accomplish that, and we together support each other's end.  For there is no tomorrow but for this.

Act 2. A new translucent screen alights to an empty stage, and a hologram man with drumsticks pops onto the screen and begins to hit three vertical spots on his electronic drum pads. 1,2,3,3,2,1,1,2,3,3,2,1,1,2,3,3,2,1......  He starts low, works his way up and comes back down.  A real man walks out and sits behind the hologram-like screen and grabs his drumsticks.  He begins to try and mimic the computer graphic.  He finds his timing and joins and then falters, poking a stick through the space in between the vertical pads.  He drops a stick.  He picks a new one up.  He misses and doubles back on one pad.  He catches back up. He's sticking it out, literally.  And he fucks up again, poking that space he just can't seem to navigate.  All the while Mr. Hologram, 1233211233211233211....without fail...paradiddlemethis......for ten minutes this goes on and the beat rarely switches.  It's the mind that needs control because the body wants to find the quicker, easier way rather than stay in line.  We find the beauty in the mistakes.  You cannot beat a computer, nor should you, for mimicry can be attempted but is only acceptable when errors dictate humanity.  That's what makes the performance shine, notsomuch the humanizing of the man, but yes, in a way, this highlights evidence of difficulty. No one would show up to watch a computer do the same thing over and over.  Stabbing the open air is only upsetting if you don't attempt recovery. And in the recovery, the glory will reside and praise will be wrought for the effort rather than the impeccability.  We stand and numb our hands as he exits stage left.

Act 3. How do instruments speak about horror? What sound would you make if your voice was a violin? Can you put a score to a live, true horrible event?  The answer is yes, and by belief for its success is in the duration of the attack.  Live recorded voices come over the loud speaker as instrumentalists sit and cover the words to near zero distinction, but you know they're Sept. 11th callers and interviews.  The timber and bass strummed low and then shrieked through the walls. Viola and flute served deserved respect to the mania without dumbing down those so frantic in delivery. This show was on September 11th 2014, and there was no cheapening or dilution of the events nor the people speaking, but personification of wind from voices that may not ever catch more breath.

Reciting above the first half and those acts with a flare for the contemporary, I will let you see Philip Glass' operatic works instead of putting words to songs immaculately executed in the second.  I find myself back in Berlyn.  The bar is empty aside from a gay couple who recited a great joke to me about trying it out.  I sipped my Elijah Craig and ordered the Sea Bass before jotting notes in my phone. Nosing back through the mag, I read about charter schools and DiBlasio's distaste for the structure.  I thought about school.  I thought about my life.  I felt alive in the moment; honest and clear.  I felt like conveying my truest love, to share life in these moments and the next, to make sure I'm not Harriet, writing Dear John letters, thinking her and Robbie, they'd live forever.  I'll speak now, I'll speak tonight - I'd rather that, in words, than in memoriam, as a Stradivarius. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Walking at Night

I often choose paths, less lit by afar, 
for there is little risk, in what's inevitably bright.

There are times, many times, where I'd rather not live, 
hence traveling dark paths especially during night.

Walking, passing, doubling back, caught staring.  
Through yellowed windows, a man sits at 80.
His chair, his posture, the TV, me at 80. 
Yellow walls, clear glass, flickering future, leather lazy.

Coasting by, I beg not, for old age comes to all.
Why rush what's inevitable, some do choose to fall. 

Why bother walking, when you can just sit and rot?
Because rotting is just sitting, when walking is not.

I feel pity, in my gut, for my life, for my choices.
Should I have changed? Never moved? Entertained other's voices?

What's real, what's fake, what's right, what's wrong.
Close your eyes, embrace the night, kiss and hum, cicada's song.

I know when I ask out loud just to die, 
all pain's remedied looking up at the sky.

Pacing the stars, late at night, grass soft, at my feet. 
Your chest bare, to my ear,  beat beat, a stammer beat....

If you walk, think of death; do choose a less lit path.
For we're all seeking answers, this here, aftermath.