Saturday, January 31, 2009
An Austrian pastor who has been quoted as calling Hurricane Katrina God's punishment for sin in New Orleans is being promoted to the rank of bishop.The Vatican announced Saturday that Pope Benedict XVI has tapped the Rev. Gerhard Wagner, 54, to be auxiliary bishop in Linz, Austria. It made no mention of the reported remarks about Hurricane Katrina.Again I ask, where were the brothels?! I didn't know there were brothels? Are there any left?
Wagner has served since 1988 as pastor of a church in the Austrian town of Windischgarsten and received a doctorate in theology from the prestigious Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome, the Vatican said.
In 2005, Wagner was quoted in a parish newsletter as saying that he was convinced that the death and destruction of Hurricane Katrina earlier that year was "divine retribution" for New Orleans' tolerance of homosexuals and laid-back sexual attitudes.
Kath.Net, a Catholic news agency in Austria, released in 2005 excerpts of what it said were comments Wagner made in a parish newsletter in Linz about Katrina.
It said the newsletter quoted Wagner as saying that Katrina destroyed not only nightclubs and brothels in New Orleans, but also abortion clinics.
"The conditions of immorality in this city are indescribable," Wagner was quoted as saying.
What was that the Gospel said? "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son ..." yada, yada, yada.
And to think those poor uptown people sent that letter to Il Papa asking for help with the Archbishop. Be careful of answered prayers, y'all.
Friday, January 30, 2009
So, yeah, it was making me nervous, getting me down.
Thank God I smoke.
I say, "Thank God" because of something that happened last week.
It was a Friday evening, and we didn't have a rehearsal. I went out and down the block to the little shop where I buy my Benson & Hedges Menthol Lights. The shop was crowded, but the clerk saw me as soon as I walked in and called out to me to hold on a minute before he rushed to the back of the store.
He returned with an old and battered book that he settled on the counter top while finishing his sales to the group ahead of me.
Now how do I describe this young man without sounding generationally patronizing? First of all, he seldom speaks to me. When I go into the store, he knows what I want, puts the four packs of Benson & Hedges Menthol Lights on the counter, takes my money, and gives me change - all so economically efficient. If ever I might pass him standing outside the shop, taking a break, he rarely replies to my "good mornings" except to nod his head once. His hair is long and pale yellow. He has a blue circle tattooed around his left eye and a blue line tattoo running down his forehead to the tip of his nose. I never knew his name, but I inquired later and found out it's a name pronounced as "Ada" but spelled in a Scandinavian fashion.
Tonight he had urgently told me to hold on a minute.
When the other shoppers had left the store, he turned to me and began to speak of someone he'd once known who, in his turn, had known Tennessee Williams and had told him stories about the man, lots of stories. Eventually, his friend had passed on this book to him - the book on the counter - that was chock-a-block with stories about Williams, many of them stories he'd already told "Ada".
He wanted me to have it.
I looked at the little book sitting there in front of me. The cover and a few front pages were long gone, and what was now the first page had been torn and patched with Scotch tape, then later torn again. The spine still carried its title: TENNESSEE: Cry of the Heart. I'd heard of it long ago, but never bothered to try to find it. Now, here, in this tiny place where I purchased my poison, someone was passing it on to me.
I asked him why he would give this to me. He only said he thought I might like it since he'd seen me carrying a book recently that, itself, had carried the playwright's name prominently on its cover.
I've started reading the book. It is written by Dotson Rader and is a personal memoir of time spent with Williams, observing, listening to stories, sharing madness and laughs. The book plants Williams back squarely on the ground, allows the reader access to a man who failed at so many things, but was still able to arrange beautiful words on pieces of paper where they signified important things.
Now, if I take my shoes off as I approach the work of mounting The Glass Menagerie, it is only to be more comfortable and, perhaps, a little ... dirty.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
He loved the picture, and I have to admit I really liked it, too, liked it a lot, not having had the benefit of seeing it on the London stage or on Broadway where it was surely better than any "Opie" movie could have the right to be.
I have to admit, though, that never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that Richard Nixon would have had so much in common with Norma Desmond.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Mine is reading this one particular little blog I subscribe to. I won't name it. That would be cruel. The young lady who writes it is probably the sweetest thing, lord love her, and I wouldn't want to hurt her fragile feelings, bless her heart.
But, damn, she's dumb.
Today I came across a recent post of hers in which she tells of catching two movies over the weekend, namely The Wrestler and Sunset Boulevard, and compares them to one another, drawing parallels between the characters played by Mickey Rourke and Gloria Swanson!
You read that right.
Stop and take a breath now.
Here it is:
It was strange to start mentally comparing Norma Desmond to Randy "The Ram" Robinson, but the more I thought about it, the more they resembled each other. It's not just that they both rely on adoring fans for their self-esteem. The bigger problem is that both Norma and Randy are only able to define a coherent self when they are performing. When circumstances prevent them from performing, they not only lose their self-worth, they lose all sense of themselves. They don't know who they really are, or how to function in the world. ...D'oh.
Now I'll admit this quote is just sad, and normally I would have left it alone, but she also had the audacity to write in the same post:
It's funny how ... famous lines often become garbled as they enter the popular idiom; everyone thinks Bogart says "play Misty for me, Sam" in Casablanca, but he actually just says "Play it, Sam."No, no, no! Don't be fucking with Casablanca, buttercup. You got it all wrong.
Nobody has ever misquoted Bogart as asking for "Misty", for Chrissake. "Misty" ain't even the song. The song is "As Time Goes By".
The real misquote is "Play it again, Sam." The correct quote is "Play it!" That's all. You can look it up, for crying out loud. You should have.
And that - that! - is unforgivable.
While he slept, I got a haircut. Not bad, but my stylist (at thirty-bucks a pop, my barber is a stylist) nicked my mustache right above the left corner of my upper lip. So I'll have to lay low and out of public scrutiny for about another week.
I napped a bit after that until Bobby woke up feeling pretty good. He trundled downstairs and nestled into his barcalounger before requiring of me a glass of ice water and a bowl of sweet peas. While he managed to hold that down, I uploaded pictures to my Flickr account. You don't want to go there, they were nudes.
By the time it was time for me to leave for my rehearsal of The Glass Menagerie, he was feeling well-enough to be left alone, so I did. While three of the cast were running Scene 5, I got a phone call from our Gentleman Caller, begging off rehearsal due to strep throat. I'm still trying to figure out why he chose that call to share with me the information that he has an overactive gag reflex. I believe that can be remedied easier than the strep throat itself. But, not being a doctor, I felt it wasn't my place to render advice.
Other than having to wait even longer for the "long-delayed, but always-expected something that we live for", the run-through went well. However, it's become painfully obvious that we need space now to start moving around. So far, we've been working in the theatre foyer or the patio when the weather was nice or the leather shop next door. Those spaces are fine for reading, but none of them offer room to walk about in, and the actors are ready to get onto their feet.
I'll have to talk to my producers today about getting us something ... bigger.
Won't my Gentleman Caller be surprised?
Sunday, January 25, 2009
And I keep wracking my brain trying to figure out what did I ever do to deserve that - even if it was just a dream.
But then I consider that no one deserves to be loved. It isn't something you earn or accumulate. Every one of us just is. The suitor is already always there, patiently waiting to be recognized.
And I remind myself it is the hardest lesson to ever learn and have to live with. That despite what we keep imprisoned deep down in that dark place where we hide our secrets and our hates, our hurts and past wicked deeds, none of them is so bad as to render us unlovable to the lover who will never cease his pursuit.
That knowledge can sometimes lead some of us to willful self-annihilation, but to others of us it can lead to joyous release.
Excuse me now while I have a smoke, roll over, and go back to sleep.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Believe me, this will not go into his portfolio.
I may keep a copy in my wallet.
Damn, I wish he looked like this ...
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Change has come to WhiteHouse.govI wasn't online when Bush was deleted, I was downstairs watching him being flown away in that helicopter to be dropped off some place where he couldn't do anymore damage. The middle of the Gulf of Mexico might be appropriate.
Welcome to the new WhiteHouse.gov. I'm Macon Phillips, the Director of New Media for the White House and one of the people who will be contributing to the blog.
A short time ago, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States and his new administration officially came to life. One of the first changes is the White House's new website, which will serve as a place for the President and his administration to connect with the rest of the nation and the world.
Millions of Americans have powered President Obama's journey to the White House, many taking advantage of the internet to play a role in shaping our country's future. WhiteHouse.gov is just the beginning of the new administration's efforts to expand and deepen this online engagement.
Just like your new government, WhiteHouse.gov and the rest of the Administration's online programs will put citizens first. Our initial new media efforts will center around three priorities:
Communication -- Americans are eager for information about the state of the economy, national security and a host of other issues. This site will feature timely and in-depth content meant to keep everyone up-to-date and educated. Check out the briefing room, keep tabs on the blog (RSS feed) and take a moment to sign up for e-mail updates from the President and his administration so you can be sure to know about major announcements and decisions.
Transparency -- President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history, and WhiteHouse.gov will play a major role in delivering on that promise. The President's executive orders and proclamations will be published for everyone to review, and that’s just the beginning of our efforts to provide a window for all Americans into the business of the government. You can also learn about some of the senior leadership in the new administration and about the President’s policy priorities.
Participation -- President Obama started his career as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, where he saw firsthand what people can do when they come together for a common cause. Citizen participation will be a priority for the Administration, and the internet will play an important role in that. One significant addition to WhiteHouse.gov reflects a campaign promise from the President: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it.
We'd also like to hear from you -- what sort of things would you find valuable from WhiteHouse.gov? If you have an idea, use this form to let us know. Like the transition website and the campaign's before that, this online community will continue to be a work in progress as we develop new features and content for you. So thanks in advance for your patience and for your feedback.
Later today, we’ll put up the video and the full text of President Obama’s Inaugural Address. There will also be slideshows of the Inaugural events, the Obamas’ move into the White House, and President Obama’s first days in office.
Maybe he'll do one more flyover. If he does, I hope he'll see the bird I shoot him as he passes by.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Maybe someone should map the locations of these spontaneous tryptichs, sell "Murder Tours". We could have ourselves a Prospect.2. Really make some bucks, wring some positive impact from the opportunities these unfortunate incidences afford us instead of just wringing our hands in despair.
Sell the brand! Yeah!
Sunday, January 18, 2009
View Larger Map
Pretty corner, no? This is the corner of Dauphine and Governor Nicholls Streets in the Lower French Quarter here in New Orleans. Push the buttons and look around. It's a lovely place.
This is where Wendy was murdered last night around 8:00 PM. She wasn't robbed. She wasn't mugged. She wasn't raped. According to the word on the streets, she was just ... murdered, shot in the back. For no other reason than that she was there - in that place at that moment, either coming from or going to a movie.
I knew Wendy, not that well, but well enough to know I could count on her if I ever needed her. That's the kind of girl she was. She worked on the block where I lived, so I invariably encountered her whenever I left the house during the day and walked to the right up Decatur Street.
She laughed a lot and could always get a smile out of me.
When Brit Hume did a joint interview last week with Bush father and son, dubbed “41st guy” and “43rd guy” by W., the Fox anchor asked whether it was true that “there wasn’t a lot of give and take” between them, except on family matters.Now go back and reread that sentence I italicized.
“See,” the Oedipally oddball W. replied, “the interesting thing is that a president has got plenty of advisers, but what a president never has is someone who gave him unconditional love.”
That's creepy. That's sick. So, dude, you never got enough love in your childhood? What kid ever does? All of us start out as needy, selfish little narcissists. Growing up is growing out of all that.
For the last eight years, we've had this pathetic excuse for a man running the country when he should have been running to a psychiatrist twice a week.
Friday, January 16, 2009
(Who is Leon? you're wondering. Leon is this really good actor I had already cast in the show who, in his real life, works at doing publicity or public relations or some such shit as that - and since he does it for real, he offered to do it for us on this show. I just didn't think he would start so soon. As it turns out, he was smart to do so. I'll explain later.)
And he was right, my friend on the phone. Up to a point. Another reason I hadn't reported on Sunday's audition was that the casting I had done could be perceived as a coup of sorts, and I didn't want to reveal it until Leon had given me the go ahead to go ahead and do it, which he did at 6:26 this morning.
(That doesn't sound right. He sent me an email at 6:26 this morning. He wasn't, like, here, - like, here at the apartment - like, I mean, sleeping with me or anything like that. He just sent me an email. Really.)
So, anyway, now, without further ado, I can tell you that Lyla Hay Owen(!) has accepted the role of Amanda Wingfield.
And who is Lyla Hay Owen? you're wondering. You might remember her as the Widow St. Clair, sharing screen time with both Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire. She even got to get her neck snapped by Mr. Cruise in that picture. Other than that, she is, quite simply, a local legend and a remarkably talented actor who, for some reason, thought she might want to work with me.
I, of course, wanted to work with her ever since the time, a year-and-a-half ago, when she penned a favorable review of my production of Valhalla for the Times-Picayune. That single review was the turning point for how my future work was to be perceived by the local "paper of record".
She gave me some respect, and, yes, I'm grateful. But the reason I cast her was because she enchanted me. And enchantment - and, yes, astonishment, too - is all I ever ask an actor to give me.
And she is the lynchpin for Leon's publicity strategy, which is already paying off. Just yesterday, a teacher tracked me down and requested a special matinee for students. I also received a request from a local glossy asking us to advertise our production in his magazine. Of course, that would cost money, but the fact is, the writer came to us (and offered to cut us a deal). That's new to me.
So things are looking up as I get ready to start rehearsals tomorrow.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
This afternoon, I'll be walking back into the Marigny Theatre to hear an actress read for a role in The Glass Menagerie. It's time to pick and choose again, time to elevate one person for basically being who she is and to dash the psyches of the others for being essentially who they are - since who they are right now is not quite what I have in mind at this particular, specific moment in my life for this particular, specific role in this particular, specific play. In other words, it is time to decide who are the people who will never speak to me again as long as I live.
And before the show has run its course, of course, there will be others who will soon be crossing thoroughfares so as not to have to say, "Good morning," to me as they pass me by.
I need a larger support group.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Overall, I've enjoyed my little spell of sub-existence.
It may, however, soon all be over. I got the go-ahead last night from my producer to start preparing for a new production of The Glass Menagerie to run in tandem with the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival this March.
My palms are already beginning to sweat.
Monday, January 5, 2009
I think Bob needs to meet Joan Rivers and see where that'll get him.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Seriously, check it out. It's only fifty pages long with big print and lots of pictures. It even mentions Hurricane Katrina one whole time! It's the Little Golden Book of Cynicism and Despair.
Frank Rich calls it:
... a booklet recounting “highlights” of the administration’s “accomplishments and results.” With big type, much white space, children’s-book-like trivia boxes titled “Did You Know?” and lots of color photos of the Bushes posing with blacks and troops, its 52 pages require a reading level closer to “My Pet Goat” than “The Stranger.”
This document is the literary correlative to “Mission Accomplished.” Bush kept America safe (provided his presidency began Sept. 12, 2001). He gave America record economic growth (provided his presidency ended December 2007). He vanquished all the leading Qaeda terrorists (if you don’t count the leaders bin Laden and al-Zawahri). He gave Afghanistan a thriving “market economy” (if you count its skyrocketing opium trade) and a “democratically elected president” (presiding over one of the world’s most corrupt governments). He supported elections in Pakistan (after propping up Pervez Musharraf past the point of no return). He “led the world in providing food aid and natural disaster relief” (if you leave out Brownie and Katrina).
If this is the best case that even Bush and his handlers can make for his achievements, you wonder why they bothered. Desperate for padding, they devote four risible pages to portraying our dear leader as a zealous environmentalist.
But the brazenness of Bush’s alternative-reality history is itself revelatory. The audacity of its hype helps clear up the mystery of how someone so slight could inflict so much damage. So do his many print and television exit interviews.The man who emerges is a narcissist with no self-awareness whatsoever. It’s that arrogance that allowed him to tune out even the most calamitous of realities, freeing him to compound them without missing a step. The president who famously couldn’t name a single mistake of his presidency at a press conference in 2004 still can’t.
Friday, January 2, 2009
The NOLA Project tackles a revisionist version of "Assassins," in which everyone shoots himself in the foot.To really appreciate the venom, you have to check this out.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Let me begin by wishing you a very belated happy birthday. Your last email reached me at a low point in my seasonal ebb, and since I was dealing with an atypical interlude of paranoia, I put you on a back burner. That was perhaps cruel, certainly thoughtless, and I apologize. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.
I'm glad you were able to pull yourself up out of your pity pool, where you were able to "waddle in the waters of remorse and regret", and enjoy the Christmas holiday cum natal anniversary with friends who could be present for you, if not give you any - presents, I mean. (Personally, I've always found pity parties to be delightful events for the party thrower, usually resulting in an enlarged - engorged? - sense of empowerment and self-worth afterwards. Don't you remember mine from our college years together? O tempora, o mores! Or do I mean to say, Gaudeamus igitur?)
Actually, I believe that the surrender of the need, or the desire, for presents is one of the steps toward achieving what you postulated in your email as "Maturity".
Don't you love that segue into the theme of your message to me? I fancy myself as being good at those.
I have been working on a theory over several months that many people on the planet who are roughly in our age category are on the cusp of the emergence of a new developmental phase for human beings. Let's call it "Maturity" but with distinctions. Previous generations were old and done when they reached our age. The horizon offered retirement (at best), decline and death. ...The point is that we may be pioneers in that evolution. (It's too soon to tell.) It will not buy us out of aging and decline, but there may be new opportunities for development, self-expression and vitality. Case in point is your using your retirement years to rediscover your passion for theatre.
But I do wonder if our both having grown up in small Louisiana towns does not have something to do with this abhorrence of annihilation we both feel towards the "dying of the light". As a child, I well remember seeing all the old people around me reaching retirement age then seemingly in short order pulling over to the side of the road of life and dying. But then, we were very young back then and they were certainly aged and decrepit, not still vital and vigorous as we find ourselves to be. Besides, in our hometowns, there was nothing else for them to do. What was left but just to get out of the way and stop taking up space?
You and I, we live in cities now. Our cities offer opportunities we could never have dreamed of in the little farming communities of our youth. Of course, I've rediscovered my passion for theatre. I planned on it when my looming retirement began to be a solid image on my horizon and not the fluttery mirage it once had been. I was lucky to find an organization to take me in and allow me to pursue my revitalized dreams. And, knock wood, I may still have a few seasons left in me since I haven't managed to alienate the entire local theatre scene as of yet.
I hope I don't sound to you as if I'm carping on the validity of your breakthrough. I'm not. It's very real, and I hope you pursue it since you - and, I hope, I, too - still have accomplishments waiting for us to consummate in our futures.
Oh, yes, we are old. Old, old, old. Old! Soon - real soon - we, too, will have to get out of the way of some youngster coming up rapidly behind us who needs the space we are occupying to try to make his mark on a world we can never know so that one day he can discover that he isn't - really - old, but still vibrant with ideas and still facing new horizons.
Until then, let's ride the white line down the middle of the road of life and not let him pass us, the snotty-nosed little son of a bitch.