I’ve had it up to my ass with sedate

We're approaching the 13th anniversary of this blog!* Those were good, stupid blog days: three people read it and I narrated my own life in the third person. Only one of those things has changed, but let's aim for good and stupid again. Hence the color scheme**: I'm bored to death with bland and serious. It's a blog, man. Nobody gives a shit. At this stage of the game I'd rather light some eyeballs on fire.***

* A blog, some blog, my blog
** You know it will change again tomorrow
*** Adam Gopnik says we're living in the Matrix anyway, so obviously there's nothing to lose: "If we are among the simulated minds, then we exist in order to be stimulated minds: we exist in order for the controllers to run experiments."

Sunday in the Park with George @ the Hudson

It was nice that I could sigh and cry in unison with the bow-tied gentleman sitting beside me. I think we both felt the experience belonged to us individually (i.e., you can't possibly love Sondheim as much as I love Sondheim) yet needed to be shared with a sympathetic, like-minded stranger (i.e., there is no such competition). My Sondheim is as specific to me as his was to him and as yours is to you (if in fact you have a Sondheim?): they are one and the same person but we define that person by the singular meaning his work has for us. I have weighted mine down with the sum total of all my sense memories over decades and years and hours and dollars and tickets and miles, and he belongs to me alone. I couldn't share him with another soul if I wanted to.

Sunday in the Park with George is one of my top 3 favorite Sondheim shows but I did not care for the last Broadway revival, which seemed cold and pinched and brown, somehow. I was sad for all the wrong reasons. This is not a show that needs help being "serious": it needs flesh and blood and heat. Here we get all three from the scruffy puppy dog central presence of Jake Gyllenhaal (sorry, but it's in that beard, it's in those eyes), whose dreamy, far-off nature feels more innate than calculated: what he wants he cannot say; what he feels, he cannot give. It goes onto paper, it goes into canvas. Dot (Dot! DOT!) can only wait so long, and Annaleigh Ashford is everything too much all at once: too smart, too needy, too passionate, too pragmatic. She's delightful. She's also the second actress I've seen in the role who I preferred as Marie in the second act (the first would be Audra McDonald): that song "Children and Art" has become precious to me, and when she's being wheeled off the stage at the end of it, and she turns one last time and says "Goodbye, Mama" as she waves up at the painting, well... both my seatmate and I nearly collapsed into the aisle.

From the minimal staging to the overeager Celestes and the perfect pitch and glorious sway of the onstage orchestra, the whole thing felt loose and comfortable—maybe the fact that it's not competing for Tonys released them having to make it feel "Important." It's Sunday in the Park with George! It already is important! But how much better when it's filled with light and just allowed to sing.

Reading “Lincoln in the Bardo”

Abraham Lincoln, the story goes, visited the crypt of his 11-year-old son Willie shortly after the boy's interment at a cemetery in Georgetown in February of 1862, and during at least one of these visits—the story goes—opened the coffin, removed the boy's body, and cradled it in his arms. George Saunders draws up this slim thread of history and weaves 343 fantastical hardbound pages from it, streaming out over a single night stuffed with dozens of ghostly narrators who, like young Willie, have found themselves in a sort of foggy neverland betwixt life and death known, in the Tibetan tradition, as "the bardo." The ghosts do not know themselves to be dead; they are all hung up and hanging on, clinging to what they remember of the living world and determined to hold there. Yet the bardo is no safe resting place for the young and unencumbered, and so three of those ghosts take upon themselves the monumental task to somehow—through the father—convince the child to go.

That's all. I would have been angry if anyone had told me more.

I started “Lincoln in the Bardo” late yesterday and did not quit it til the end, went straight on through afternoon and twilight and evening. I was careful to eat and take liquids, though, careful not to rush. There is a groove and a flow and a line to reading smooth, if you know what I mean, it's precious and rare and I let that line out slowly, afraid the characters might slip away if I let in too much air between us. It's a sitting, this book. It needs your attention and patience. It will dip your head down low and leave you swaying, if you let it. (I let it. I loved it.) It's dark and strange and joyous and deeply, achingly sad. It's a little precious, maybe, a little wayward and confounding, a mixture of Twain and Dickens and Ken Burns and "Waiting for Godot" tossed with Saunders' patented brand of empathy and humor and awe. (Imagine in this day and age your brand being "kindness" and "imagination" and "intelligence.") I've never read anything like it. It's a weird concoction and a wild yarn and a rollicking wonder. By all means, do read!

My God, what a thing! To find oneself thus expanded!
- hans vollman

How had we forgotten? All of these happy occasions? 
- the reverend everly thomas

To stay, one must deeply and continuously dwell upon one's primary reason for staying; even to the exclusion of all else.
- roger bevins iii

One must be constantly looking for opportunities to tell one's story.
- hans vollman

(If not permitted to tell it, one must think it and think it.)
- the reverend everly thomas

But this had cost us, we now saw.
We had forgotten so much, of all else we had been and known.
- roger bevins iii

Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel
By George Saunders

Things I’m a fan of

  1. Nyquil
  2. lotionized Kleenex
  3. this humidifier
  4. this asthma inhaler, which comes with a warning that usage increases one's risk of death from asthma
  5. this Stan Smith profile, which I read on jury duty
  6. being released from jury duty after one day, and then ordering my Stan Smiths online (in navy, natch)
  7. this apartment
  8. this old apartment therapy blog post on offloading crap as a successful life strategy. I'm not moving this year after all, but I can still purge.
  9. this Zulkey.com blog post, which combines my love of the Midwest with my love of family road trips and staying in hotels with pools
  10. !!! barrroooooooo  !!! :

Sundays

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“The eye always craves what it doesn‘t see”

What sort of artist catches your attention? The artists that I’m interested in are the ones that make a picture of the times they live in. If you can listen to that inner voice, you’ll be fine. If you make your work from love, you’ll be fine. Just don’t try to fit in to the prevalent movement. If everybody’s doing video around you, then you should probably start painting. The eye always craves what it doesn’t see.
— Marilyn Minter @ NYT
Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/15/magazin...

Between the coughing fits

It's been 96 hours of misery with no end in sight and at this point I have no reason to believe I'll live to see another day. I just don't understand how a single body can harbor this much mucus and keep on living. Last night I performed the requisite "nasal irrigation" and so much salt water poured out of my mouth that I gagged and puked up my dinner. Classy! I have also sneezed all over my own glasses and at least three times in my own hair. So I bid you adieu with my favorite insane performance video of all time, which I have posted in this blog/space no fewer than half a billion times before, give or take. It's good to go out on a raucous affirmation of life that doubles as a cry for help (this number takes most mortals at least three minutes to plow through, but she sings it like she's got a herd of flaming goats nipping at her heels).

ps. Remember me fondly in your wills! I intend to spend hog wild in the afterlife.

A weekend in Mystic

I came back with a cold, but I won't hold that against Connecticut. It's possible some New York City supergerms have been lying dormant for months, just waiting for me to cross a neutral border (I could also blame Rhode Island, which I entered in search of beachfront property). And if you're ever going to travel for pizza, Mystic is obviously a solid choice. Just maybe not the day after a snowstorm.

mystic ct | feb 2017