BAM gone blah?

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) has established a deserved reputation for excellence in the arts – in music, dance and theater. I have blogged on many of these, including Grupo Corpo, Trish Brown Dance and Roman Tragedies.

Brutus absorbs the impact of Antony's speech.

Brutus absorbs the impact of Antony’s speech at BAM in 2012.

Thoughtful, sometimes even entertaining, the productions have been well worth the time and expense.

This, however was not the case in this fall’s highly-touted New Wave Series, offering instead half-baked exercises in esoteric nonsense. While my sampling is limited, having attended only four evenings, of those four, three were hardly passable – We Have an Anchor, An Enemy of the People & Hans Was Heiri and one – Bodycast – was probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen in New York. 04bodycast-articleLargeBAM has taken a turn for the worse, indulging in this directionless, tedious stuff and, to add the insult, changed their ticket policies, almost blackmailing attendees into subscriptions. Bad, BAM. No.

And so we’re thinking of doing something different, perhaps subscribing to another theater or maybe even being more drastic than that.DC_Leafs_Rangers10.jpg

I feel it in me, tremendous

I expect another to sit with me. I expect the music. I expect the god embrace. I have that narrative in me. It’s a story in my head.Ooooo (6)I don’t tell it to myself. I work through the pain of what I must do. I understand that I am a failure. I don’t feel bad. I know what I am. And I get to somewhere. I am here. I wait. I expect this person to sit with me. I expect that with certainty. IMAG2424That’s my narrative. Yes, I have a story. It’s convoluted. I loved deeply. And then I ruined everything. I fought. I desired. I want to tell this to the other person that is supposed to sit here. There is supposed to be music. There is supposed to be something remarkable, Justine’s thunderbolt. There is supposed to be that. IMAG1272But there isn’t. There is this page. There is this writing.There is this supposed reflection, this thinking, this processing, this firing, this continuance, this cold.

And then he is there. He wore a long shirt. He was bald. He moved like a neuron.IMAG3734That’s what I told him. He almost hit me because I said that. And then he looked at me like he was going to love me. And I thought he might. I even thought about giving him something real, thinking he was the one who would deliver me to what I was most afraid of.

Phone 257“Who doesn’t have cotton candy at an arena?”

And then I realized he was the bartender, that he wasn’t even talking to me, that I had an issue with who I was, with how I got here and how I would leave. And I was okay with that. At least that was the story I told myself.

This is the End?

I don’t know how to end. It seems like I just go on and then it comes to a stop, the story just gone, ended, like a final breath. This is the way of life, but it’s not supposed to be for writing. The problem is that endings can be so ridiculous and easy to predict, which I blogged about last year. the greyI have had a multitude of endings for my bad side, some of them obtuse, others pointed, all of them too introspective. I had an ending, a moment, part revelatory, part happenstance, but it came across as a blunt object struck on the reader’s head.IMAG2306I have tried to avoid core themes and images and end up with a moment that means more than it should. Phone 158I need something in between, something clean, something that begs for more but doesn’t, like a good drink.mcmanusSomething like that.


The Marquis de Sade’s Wickedly Accurate Condemnation

The Marquis de Sade isn’t much of a writer; his descriptions are tedious, his dialogue static, his narrative almost non-existent and his prose little more than a mask for his sadistic tendencies. screen-shot-2013-10-30-at-5-46-52-pmHis perverse point of view however can be surprisingly accurate, in spite of his delight in the suffering of others, and is relentlessly damning.

Justine, the eponymous character of his novel, never gives up on her fight for virtue, this despite being subjected to the starling perversions of libertines across France – systematic rape, torture, blood-letting and auto-strangulation – and their passionate arguments. old Robert Wise The Sound of Music DVD Review Julie Andrews PDVD_021States the Compte de Gernande: The happiness that the two sexes may find in each other can be found by one through blind obedience and by the other through the greatest possible domination. If it were not Nature’s intention that one of the sexes should tyrannize the other, would she not have created them of equal strength? (176) 021313-national-history-idi-amin-dad-ruler-ugandaSays Monsieur Roland: The poor are part of Nature’s plan. In creating men of unequal strength, she has convinced us of her wish that this inequality should be preserved despite the changes our civilization would bring her laws. It would be going against Nature’s wishes to disturb the equilibrium that is the basis of her sublime organization, to work towards an equality that would be dangerous for society, to encourage indolence and sloth, to teach the poor to steal from the rich when the rich refuse to help. (216) stroszek11901Says Baroness Dubois: Our laws wish in vain to restore order and bring men back to virtue. Too unjust to achieve this, too inadequate to succeed, they will take people off the beaten track for a moment, but they will never get them to leave it. When it is in the general interest for men to be corrupt, anyone who is unwilling to become so with the rest will therefore be pushing against the general interest. (220)THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Monsieur Saint-Florent concludes: The weak must give in to the desires of the strongest or else fall victim to their wickedness. (248)

The Myth of Kerrivan’s Men

A small group led by Peter Kerrivan walked out of a settlement in Newfoundland some 200 years ago and vanished into the barrens. They were never heard from again, transforming them into myth. It’s an image I use near the end of my bad side.Newfoundlabrador2010 075The streetlights came in above the band, Kerrivan’s Men, the green and red light across the fishing nets and buoys, onto the pews in the back. Fitz returned with our drinks.

“Who’s Kerrivan?” I asked. 

“Kerrivan led a group of fellahs off with him into the barrens,” he explained. “This was some 200 years back. Didn’t like how he was being treated by the Royal Navy – the English always hated the Irish, yeah? – and up they went into the barrens, lived off the land. Called themselves the Masterless Men.”

“Never seen again,” Tommy added.Phone 192

“Charlie swears he’s in the line, his great great granddad the man himself.”

“Probably another great in there at that.”

“Maybe another one, yeah.”

“What do you mean they lived in the middle of nowhere?” I asked.

“Down there on the peninsula, in the rocks and bog, nothing but low trees and wind.”Newfoundlabrador2010 028“For how long?”

“No one knows,” Tommy replied. “Generations.”

“Maybe they died,” I replied.

“Some would say that. The English would. Not me. I think they waited to be forgotten and then came back in.”

“Yeah,” Fitz agreed. “That’s what they did.”

Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”

Cheryl Strayed’s auto-biography Wild is a painfully honest account of how she processed the death of her mother and confronted her own shattered sense of self. wild-cherylUsing her remarkable solo hike on the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) as the central image, she confronts her fears, loss and short-comings with a relentlessly detailed and direct manner. I dreamed of my mother incessantly. In the dreams I was always with her when she died…I tied her to a tree in our front yard and poured gasoline over her head, then lit her on fire.

IMAG2091Strayed’s honesty is striking, tearing herself apart, not only reflecting on her loss but also her isolation and her sexuality. My hands running slowly up into his curly hair and down to his brawny back, holding his gorgeous male body against mine. There hasn’t been a time that I’ve done that that I haven’t remembered all over again how much I love men. hand on shoulderBecause of the consistently self-reflective approach, Strayed’s book does read long, conveying the relentless aspect of the trail she hiked and the problems she faced with perhaps excessive detail.

For a glimpse into the unforgiving style – and soul – of Ms. Strayed, her autobiographical essay, The Love of My Life is a stunning piece.

Also of note, Reese Witherspoon has optioned Wild, aiming to use it as a vehicle for herself one day. We’ll see.Reese Witherspoon-As Cheryl Strayed In -Wild-

How I Have Written

Many years ago, I was keen to pursue creative writing at the graduate level. I had been out of college for a few years and just completed the first draft of a novel, The Sacred Whore. IMAG2334The genesis of the book had come to me in a flash – a gang of prostitutes kidnap a basketball team so that they can air their views on the declining morality of America – and one of the characters, Chantal, had fought against being removed from the narrative after I had done exactly that. HitchcockI went back and realized the story was all about her; she was an epiphany. Flawed as it was, the book did have moments – to say nothing of Chantal – and I was enthusiastic at the prospect of work-shopping my prose.

And then I met Ben, a friend of a friend, who was registered in such a program. IMAG3730Ben waxed not-so-eloquently about his attempt to re-invent the novel and went on and on about that. I couldn’t get away from him fast and far enough and promised myself I would never be stuck in such conversations again.

And so instead of pursuing my work in school, I planted trees in northern British Columbia, bicycled across France and Spain, edited closed captions for sitcoms and soft-core porn, did the biking again, coached pee-wee hockey, taught high school English, started a film festival and wrote copy about toilets, all of that to buy time to write. 2012-10-13 15.02.29And write I did – in Paris, Dublin, Toronto, Vancouver and New York, in apartments and houses, notes in the post office, on menus and tickets, in transit, in journals, on computer after computer, saving copies, emailing myself additions to text – putting everything together, always in isolation. Newfoundlabrador2010 064I have a clear sense of who I am as I write. It’s just me and the words coming out of my head, a long wavering stream that I sometimes catch and can feel crystalline within, almost exactly like that. My writing grants me understanding, gives moments where life isn’t just chaos and missteps. IMAG1183It allows me to consider and process, search through thoughts and events, my reactions and those of others, their expressions, and find the words that make some sense. The book is my focal point – the concept, the research, the going back and starting again, a character suddenly there, the honing and culling, the letting go and bringing to an end.