Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Kiss Me, Kate!

All right. There are times I’d like to tell Katharine Hepburn to just shut her yap already, for goodness sake; but being dead, I know she wouldn’t listen to me. Hell, being alive, she wouldn’t have listened to me; she would have fixed me with that Hepburn glare, then trampled me and left me in the dirt as she strode away on those long Hepburn legs. She was that kinda gal, don’t you know.

However, I just came across this quote of hers from the book Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog, and I like it:
Well, it’s not enough to be talented. There’s a lot of talent out there, but it’s owned by lazy, stupid, or essentially boring people. You can’t just be talented: You have to be terribly smart and energetic and ruthless. You also have to become more than your bones and your skin to the project. Don’t just show up. Transform the work, yourself, and everybody around you. Be needed. Be interesting. Be something no one else can be—and consistently.
—Interview with James Grissom, 1990
I like this quote because it says something I wholeheartedly believe in. Not that what I believe in matters to anyone, least of all, anyone in the New Orleans Theat-ah Communi-tèe [sic]. I mean, it’s a well-known, but little-mentioned, fact that there are more actors in New Orleans than there are actors in New Orleans. And aside from their insistence on being inaudible from any stage in town, they are ill-trained (if, in fact, they have had any training at all), and they are boring. White-bread, beige-colored boring. I have actually crept out of plays at those moments when all the people on the stage have managed to removed every stitch of their clothing in order to continue an extended sex scene totally naked—because they were all totally boring.

Who knows, maybe if they discover that Katharine Hepburn said something about their being boring, they might take it upon themselves to do something about it.

Maybe.

Maybe not.

You never know.

If, that is, they know who Katharine Hepburn was.

And another thing... If you haven’t read Follies of God, you should. If you care about theatre and if you care about Tennessee Williams (and, God, you should, no matter what you might think about theatre!), get the damn book already.

All right?

All right.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Grocery

Sunday was a beautiful day, breezy, sunny, electric with crowds of happy, peppy people milling along the sidewalks with a spring in their steps and a song on their lips. I decide to take a carefree jaunt down the street to our local (and only-one-in-the-world) Smallmart, a little convenience store on the next block, to pick up a pound of coffee and a carton of Half-and-Half.

Once outside my gate, I break into my happy dance and tap my way to the corner of Barracks Street and Decatur.

There, the corner coffee shop was packed inside with cheerful customers queuing up to collect their Java. Outside, around the perimeter, all the tables were occupied by Sunday-morning revelers.

I pause on the curb to peruse for oncoming traffic before crossing the street.

No one driving up Decatur Street with the intention of turning onto Barracks.

To my right, on Barracks, is an SUV, idling at a stop sign, seeming to aim in the direction of taking a right turn.

I step onto the street.

In that instant, the driver of the SUV accelerates.

I hear squealing tires and look up to see the massive monolith careening straight towards me.

I expect he will brake, but in the next instant I realize it is too late for him to stop without his stopping on top of my broken, lifeless body.

My legs, which under normal circumstances are now slow and creaky, suddenly jetè me back onto the curb.

Then the vehicle stops.

Inside, behind a rolled-up window, a dirty-faced kid wraps his lips around unheard curses that he spits at me.

I turn to the crowd around me and gesture, as if to say, “Can you believe what is happening?”

But no one is looking.

They must have seen. They must have heard. But since no body has been sent hurtling through the air, there is nothing of any interest here for them.

The SUV drives away.

I make a mental note of the license number. However, since I am old, I forget it soon after.

It is now two days later, and I am still perplexed by the rage of the one and the indifference of the others.

The only solace with which I am left is the simple certainty that God’ll kill ‘em all, that dirty-faced kid in a particularly cruel and painful way.

It’s true.

Oh, yeah, it’s true.

We tight like that.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

On Self-Delusion

I have decided to go delusional.

I run across delusional people every day, and they really, really, seem to have it all together.

My natural tendency is towards reticence, uncertainty, self-examination, and caution. Lots of caution. Delusional people have none of that clutter.

Artists-with-a-small-“a” are notoriously self-delusional; and since I, too, am an artist-with-a-small-“a”, I think it’s time I embraced my own inner Rembrandt, Irving Penn, Laurence Olivier, and Peter Brook.

What’s that you say? I cannot paint like Rembrandt, make photographs like Penn, act like Olivier, nor direct like Brook? What has any of that got to do with the price of Apple products in Beijing? Delusion trumps all.

Let’s look at  few examples.

I know this guy. We’ll call him Sam. We’ll call him Sam because, to me, he looks like Sam in the Lord of the Rings movies; and like that Sam, he is a supporting player in this epic blockbuster called Life. But he chooses not to see himself that way. He has deluded himself into thinking he is his own leading man and has taken to the local stage to prove this to as many people as he can.

And he does!

That’s the remarkable thing about delusional people. If the delusion is strong enough, self-satisfying enough, it will delude other people into believing it, too. Lack of ability doesn’t matter. The absence of any conceptual thought is no hindrance. Throw back your head, shake out your mane, lay claim to your domain, and people will ooh and aah.

Go to any club on a Saturday night. You will spot someone who gives the appearance of having wandered in from some mud-wrestling pit. He’s sweaty, pot-bellied, toppling into upper middle-age, wearing a thick gold chain around his neck, and maybe even a pinky ring. He’s the one who is in possession of the single, most effective, sure-fire lines to pick up chicks. And he won’t give up until four or five the next morning when he finally decides to call it quits, call a cab to go home, and work on some more sure-fire lines to pick up chicks because none of the ladies tonight were up to his high standards.

Delusion will never let you down.

Basically, it should be apparent that delusional people are everywhere and in every line of work. Politicians, bankers, pop singers, and bakers? Delusional all.

So beginning first thing tomorrow morning, I will begin a new mantra: “I am handsome. I am lordly. I am the grandest of my race, and my legs bestride the ocean.”

Oh, hell, why wait?

I feel my chest beginning to swell already.

Step aside now. Happy madman coming through.


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