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.