Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Things to Do on Katrina Day

  • Drive a friend to Ochsner's on Old River Road for procedure (medical euphemism for a colonoscopy).
  • While said friend is going under, run back into town to take another friend pharmacy shopping (that prescription here, this prescription there).
  • While zooming crosstown between drugstores, take call from nurse at Ochsner's, saying procedure soon to end. But we thought procedure would take three hours. "Oh, Lordy, no, la-la, only an hour-and-a-half." I must be present to remove friend from premises. Suddenly realize I don't know where premises are - I dropped him off outside. "Don't worry, we're easy to find. Take the golden elevators."
  • Huh?
  • Hustle second friend out of Walgreen's, rush him home (under the speed limit - I don't care what that camera says!).
  • Have to pee. Friend kindly offers me his bathroom. Neglects to watch car left idling on the street. Pretty orange-colored ticket waiting for me when I return (no money in the meter).
  • Meander out of city and back to Ochsner's. Park in garage, and set off on quest for golden elevators.
  • Lots of them.
  • Poor friend must be frantic, feeling abandoned, too groggy from sedative to manage a call to me, asking, "Why did you do this to me, Dimmy?" like in The Exorcist.
  • Wonder of wonders, find clinic reception area where friend has had his procedure. Friend not in sight. Uh-oh.
  • Stand in line for receptionist. Finally reach her, ask if friend is ready. "Ready? Oh, la-la, so soon? These things take time. You take a seat. We get you when he done."
  • I take a seat.
  • And wait.
  • Wait.
  • Wait.
  • Fifty minutes later, a nurse appears and calls my name. I may pass through the doors that say keep out and collect my little friend. He's fine.
  • He's hungry. Wants Mexican. Is that wise this soon? "Hungry. I want Mexican. Get Mexican now."
  • We find Mexican. We eat. I worry about lately-chronic heartburn. But food too good to push away, and Telemundo Novela on televisions in restaurant strangely engrossing.
  • Finally get friend home and make my way to mine.
  • Am feeling tired, but not like bored - tired like ... tired. It's four o'clock, too late to nap.
  • Sit up till ten, then off to bed.
  • Chest begins to burn again.
  • Not to worry, though. Have doctor's appointment next afternoon. My own.

Monday, August 29, 2011

August 29th (Enough of the Wallowing)

Okay, ya got it? Then get on with it.

Memories have their place, don't get me wrong. It's usually in the hallway, hanging next to the wedding portrait and the kids' first communion pictures.

Bad things happen. They happen to everybody. Nobody's got the exclusive rights.

And suffering is not a competitive sport.

August 29th

Sunday, August 28, 2011


A former friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) has slapped a sequence of photographs up on the web which he purports to be pictures of me.

They are not.

I don't know where he dug up the Falstaffian sot he shamelessly tries to pass of as me, but I am quite certain that once he was through with the old soul, he promptly tossed him back into the gutter where he found him like some damp cigarette butt.

The man must be stopped.

Promise me you will not wander off to his website and peruse these godawful images.

I repeat, these are not facsimiles of my likeness. They are, rather, attempts at visual assassination. This is what I really look like:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dear Eastern United States,

As someone who has been there, done that, and even helped design the tee-shirt (and I know after that earthquake, you guys must be down to your last nerves), may I offer some words of encouragement as you prepare to meet Irene on her sweep up the Eastern Seaboard? Thank you.
  • First of all, don't panic. Not yet. You still have time. Stop and think. Decide what you need to save should you have to evacuate. You certainly don't want to leave the expensive stuff, so make sure you leave room in your car for the widescreen TV's, the computers, more than three-days' worth of clothes and underwear, and any kids and pets that might want to tag along. I assure you you will find lodging somewhere along the way that will allow you to board them in the same room with you or, at least, direct you to a kennel.
  • If you have photo albums, take them with you. It's a little thing, but you will miss them if you lose them. 
  • Before you leave, get some plywood and nail it over your windows and your doors. Get some bright, glow-in-the-dark paint and slap messages across the front of your house. Things like, "We have guns, and we're not afraid to use them." Or, "We left the pit bulls and the anaconda inside with not much food."
  • Wherever you might happen to find yourself, you will find that people are kind. As long as you are polite and pitiful and don't stay too long.
  • Once it's all over, and you make your way back, you might meet some people from an outfit called FEMA. They will offer you money. It's okay to take it, but put it in the bank and don't spend it for at least seven years. They have a way of coming back to you later on and telling you you didn't deserve it after all and you have to pay it back. Now. Oh, and if they offer you a trailer, do not get in it. Those things can be more dangerous than the hurricane.
That's pretty much it. Stay safe. Stay strong. Try to get some rest while you're gone, because once you come back, you'll have a lot of work to do rebuilding. But you guys come from strong stock, so I'm not too worried about you.

Y'all take care now, and have a nice day.

Monday, August 22, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different

After getting that warning from the Ohio State Trooper for hugging the shoulder, we've turned tail and inched out way back home. We've parked the van, slipped back into the house, and gone to bed. Nothing left now but memories of that particular road trip.

That's how it ought to be, how it's meant to be. A thing is born, it lives, it dies.

Once gone, those left behind move on and, on occasion, "summon up remembrance of things past."

I'm lucky for the recollections I'll retain of working with two actors I'd never worked with before. Joe Seibert and Eli Grove gifted me with a sense of joy throughout the rehearsal process and a sense of awe as they became infallible in performance once the show had opened. Neither one of these young men ever made a false move or snatched the opportunity to ham it up for friends in the audience. They were always true to the text of their heart-breaking tale, a story built in brick by Jerrod Bogard.

Every theatre piece since All About Eve was first unspooled requires a Thelma Ritter character, and Hugging the Shoulder had one, too. She knows who she is, and she knows the gratitude I have for her and all she did for me.

What's left?

I have the photographs. I have the sound effects and the music used. I can always play that siren sound whenever I feel the need to annoy the neighbors, or I can wallow in the limpid waves of being so lonesome I could cry.

And, always at hand, there are the memories of those people who came to the play and were moved.

Not much to be left with, perhaps, but enough.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Payin' a Debt

So, the guy who wrote Hugging the Shoulder has this kiddie show running in the New York Fringe Festival, and I kinda promised I would give it some publicity (like hordes of New Yorkers read this blog).

It looks kinda cool, though. All about saving the environment and all, ya know. It has music and puppets.

Me, I'm partial to puppets.

Something to do with having worked with actors, I guess.

Puppets will do anything you want them to do without complaining or asking for motivation or running off for really long pee breaks or declining to take their tops off.

Yeah, I like puppets.

Puppets are cool.

Puppets can also be hot.

If you know what I mean ...

Go ahead and check out Jerrod's show. I'm pretty sure it's cheaper than Spider Man or The Book of Mormon - and just as entertaining.

Well, as entertaining as The Book of Mormon.

Which is a really good show.

With music by the same guy who wrote the music for Avenue Q.

Which was a musical with puppets.

Hot puppets.


Hot puppets...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Weighing In

Ted Mahne writes theatre reviews for the Times-Picayune. He came to see Hugging the Shoulder on opening night, and this morning, his review appeared online. I'd like to share some of it with you now.
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” It’s an age-old moral question that has never been satisfactorily resolved since Cain first asked it. In “Hugging the Shoulder,” now playing at the Shadow Box Theatre, playwright Jerrod Bogard adds layers of complexities to the moral implications of the question as a young man desperately attempts to save his brother from the depths of his own drug addiction.

The setting is what appears to be a simple road trip – the pair of men driving in a van. Derrick, the younger brother has essentially kidnapped his brother Jeremy, and is driving across country for days and days to an unnamed destination, in the hopes of breaking Jeremy of his heroin addiction. Through a series of flashbacks, we see glimpses of their earlier lives together, as well as the spiraling path of self-destruction that Jeremy has plunged into head first. ...

“Hugging the Shoulder” is finely cast. As Derrick, Joe Seibert gives a nuanced and delicately balanced performance of a man who is struggling to do the right thing, but is overwhelmed by his brother’s predicament. Seibert plays Derrick distinctly not as the hero – before the road trip, his primary relationship with Jeremy seems to revolve around knocking back a couple of six-packs, smoking joints, watching NASCAR, and fighting. Seibert especially captures the guilt of his conflicted feelings (he clearly loves his brother but he doesn’t particularly like him), as well as the tormented anxieties of being in over his head.

In the more overtly showier role of Jeremy, Eli Grove smartly never overdoes it. As he goes through his heroin withdrawal, the screaming, pleading, vomiting and fighting is ripe for over-the-top theatrics. Grove gets the feelings, the pain, and the sheer exhaustion of his character’s struggle across without scenery-chewing histrionics. He also is unafraid of presenting an unlikeable character but holds the audience captivated by each move he makes.

As Christy, the junkie girlfriend seen only in the flashbacks, Liz Mills only has a few precious moments to define her character (she spends one entire scene passed out on the couch) and its place in the brothers’ lives. Her brilliantly honest and heartbreaking performance captures the tragedy of addiction most compellingly in a monologue in which she describes Disneyland, the “happiest place on earth,” as she shoots up. The result is a disturbing and frightening allure.

In a brief role that is vital to the exposition, T.J. Toups does well as the highway patrolman.
You can read the complete review here.

Then there was this.

Congratulations to everyone involved. Be proud.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Falling from Grace

Two brothers, the older aged before his time, the other about to topple from his nest. We all experience the expulsion from Eden as we grow from innocence to experience, but that common bond does little to lessen the grief.

Until, that is - if we are blessed - the years can pull us far enough away so that our memories mist over, and the past becomes a welcoming place; the gaping wounds  - just strawberries, really - that once held terror for us, we find have healed, have closed, becoming medals that commemorate our survival. Then, so far away in time we are, we close our eyes and can recall the summers shooting BB guns and stumbling upon that old rusted biplane, fallen in a secret place beyond the highway on the edge of town.

Everyone we've ever known or will, will leave us; and memory can be as cruel as she is nurturing.

Two brothers, each alone - saying goodbye and whispering in their hearts, "I have loved you, and I will remember you."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Off with His Head

In late June, Bobby received a letter from the nice people in the Residential Parking Program of the City of New Orleans. They very kindly wanted to let him know that his current permit would be expiring on the last day of July, and, if he wanted to, he could fill out these simple little forms and get his new permit mailed to him in the wink of an eye.

Of course, he would have to furnish proof of his residency. That proof would include copies of his drivers license, his  auto registration, and his current energy bill. Oh, and, although he didn't have to pay that nasty old $15.00 registration fee anymore because he was a senior citizen, surely he wouldn't mind paying the $40.00 application fee that all the other good little people of the City of New Orleans were eager to pay for the privilege of parking their evacuation four-wheelers on the historic pitted streets of America's Crescent City.

Of course, he wouldn't. He was thrilled to do his part and pay for his God-given right to purchase and own such taxable property as a car. He filled out his form. He gathered his paperwork. He put it all together in a big yellow envelope, dropped a personal check into the mix, mailed it away, and waited.

He waited.

After three weeks with no word, he telephoned the offices of the Residential Parking Permit Program and spoke to a lady who told him his paperwork was not in order. It seems he had substituted his telephone bill in place of his energy bill. That wouldn't do. The rules clearly stated he needed to send a copy of his energy bill. He explained that the energy bill was in my name - not his, and that was why he sent his phone bill instead. Oh, that was too bad. Well, then, what about a lease?

Yes, he had a lease.

Send us that, the lady told him.

He did, along with a letter from his landlord certifying that he did, in fact, live where he said he lived - and had lived here since 1985.

He waited.

A week later, he telephoned the offices of the Residential Parking Permit Program again and inquired into the status of his application. The lady on the other end of the phone told him that Miss Wilson handled status calls, but she didn't come to work until ten o'clock. Try back later.

He did.

The lady on the other end of the phone told him Miss Wilfred didn't seem to be in yet. He could leave his number, and she would call back when she arrived.

He did. She didn't.

He waited.

He called back the next day. Miss Wilson-fred was in and took his call. She found it hard to believe he'd lived in the same place since 1985. Nevertheless, Bob told her that he had. So where, she asked him, was his current lease? He explained that our landlord required a one-year lease upon moving in, but that upon the first-year anniversary of that lease, it rolled over into a month-by-month arrangement. Besides, there was the letter from the landlord ...

Miss Wilfred-son said they would take it under advisement and get back to him.

He waited.

Time hauled itself relentlessly through the mud of summer into the last week of July. Still, there was no Parking Permit. Bobby dialed that old familiar number once again.

"Oh, that's all been processed. Your permit's in the mail."

"But the check still hasn't cleared my bank."

"Don't know how they handle that, but the permit's in the mail. It's in the hands of the Postmaster now. It's all up to him."

"But if I don't have it by the end of the month, I'll start getting tickets."

"No, you have a month's grace period to renew."

"Well, all right, I'll wait ..."

He waited.

Today, he called again and asked to speak to a supervisor and was switched over to a Miss Emory. He told his tale. When he was finished, Miss Emory told him, first of all, his drivers license was no good really. Why, her license said she lived in Gretna, but she didn't. It only said that so she could get cheaper insurance. Why should the City accept a drivers license?

Bobby thanked her and called his City Councilwoman, Kristin Gisleson Palmer, and spoke to her secretary. He repeated the pitiful history once again. Councilwoman Palmer's secretary said she understood his frustration and would look into it and call him back.

He's waiting.

He may be in this strange in-between place between reality and non-existence, but he's waiting, ever mindful of the fact that the renewal notice the Residential Parking Permit people sent to him was sent through the mail to the address those same people don't seem to believe he lives at. But he got it.

In the old dreamy book about Wonderland, Alice faced a truculent adversary in the Red Queen, a vain and arrogant little person, drunk with power. Sadly, for her, though, the Red Queen turned out to be nothing more than a playing card, one of fifty-two.

I've also read that something - can't  remember what it is right now - comes to those who wait.

And Bobby's waiting.

Pure Terror

I'm a mess.

That's an understatement. I'm ransacked. Like a house that's been burgled, I'm strewn willy-nilly 'round the room, everything turned inside out.

It's almost time for the new show to open, and I'm feeling helpless as I face the night when I have to let go, let be, and walk away.

I'm feeling paranoid, too, like I'm in certain people's sights with a target on my back, an eight-point buck.

I was driving one of my actors to rehearsal last night and moaning about my troubles.

He said, "You get like this on every show."

"I do?"


"I don't."

"Oh, yeah. Usually worse. You're getting better."

"You think I'm better? Really?"


"That's nice."

All I really want to do is sleep, though.

Wait. Wasn't that what I was doing a few weeks ago when I told my doctor there was something wrong with me?

Is there something always to be wrong with me?

Will I never know contentment?

Where the hell is my bliss?
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