Thursday, December 1, 2011

Second to the right, then straight on til morning.

Gosh, it's been so busy. Or I've been so busy. I only had four hours of work today, had several errands to run, things to do, and so on and so forth. So of course, I decided to wander around down town (which is a short walk from where I live). The local holiday season kickoff is tomorrow (Friday). First up is a weekend long retail promotion dubbed "Holly Days". Tomorrow at 5pm will be a tree lighting in a little vest pocket park at the main intersection on Main Street. Sadly, I won't be able to get there, I'll be working. Lately, I seem to have developed a kind of sadomasochistic love/hate relationship with this town that I adopted as my own. This last year the town has suffered a soul and mind numbing series of natural disasters and murders that exposed nasty attitudes of condescension and disgust by the new age republocrats of economic superiority towards the working and disadvantaged classes. I really want to be there for the tree lighting. Our town needs this, we need to show our support, we need to show our care. We all need to be represented.

I've got the tv on in the background, and it keeps interrupting my train of thoughts that I wanted to record today. They are lighting the Christmas tree in Boston tonight. I lived in Boston for eight years. It's a wonderful city, and had my industry (the film business) not left town, and if it weren't for the high crime rate, I'd be there still. The tree is put on the Commons, and is always around 45 feet tall. Every year, it is sent as a gift of thanks to Boston for the emergency aid that was given Nova Scotia after an early December 1917 disaster, which remains to this very day the largest ever accidental man made explosion in the world. The show was opened by Boston native Joey McIntyre, former and current New Kid on the Block. He's grown up, to say the least. He opened with a solo statement of "Oh, Holy Night" which was joined by a chorus of young black women. McIntyre looked too thin, haggard and maybe possessed. He stood almost argumentatively at first, too clear eyed to be drunk, staking out his ground. He was an Irishman with the fever upon him. It was just about the best damn version of that song I've ever heard. I hope it shows up on YouTube.

Anyway, I was wandering around downtown because tomorrow is also Gallery walk, and I wanted to see what was to be seen before the madness and crowds take over. Where the town's newspaper, magazine, and office supply store (Baker's) used to be, there is now an oh so very trendy home furnishings shop. I thought I'd take a look at what they were offering. And there it was. It was stunning. It was gorgeous. I should have taken a picture. An extraordinarily well preserved, in perfect condition Heywood Wakefield art-deco stick wicker club chair. The left arm-rest magazine holder was in perfect shape. It was beautiful, and I want one. It was $650.00 and  was/is
easily the best I have ever seen. I have no idea if that was a good price or not. If I had money, I wouldn't care about that. I wouldn't even pause to ask. I'd be getting out my means of payment. The example to the right is missing the backrest pillow, and the backrest height is a little short. And the painted trim is only one color. The one I saw today had both a dark green stripe, and one dark maroon. And the left arm magazine slot was a tad smaller and better integrated into the whole. But you get the idea. My Great Great Uncle Harry had one in his summer home in Ocean City, New Jersey. I loved that chair. At least I have good taste.

There are a couple of birthdays for a December 1st that I should like to note:

Today would have been Matthew Shepard's 35th Birthday.
He was martyred in mid October 1998, at the age of 21.

He was kidnapped, tied to a fence, savagely beaten, and left to die alone in the freezing cold.
When the perpetrators of his horrific deed were tried, there was no way to accuse them of a hate crime even though they had bragged about what they had done to the "faggot",
as the state in which the trial occurred had no such enabling legislation.

This led to the immediate creation of a National Hate Crimes Act,
which was rejected by the Republican United States House of Representatives.
(Then President George W. Bush had also promised to veto the bill if it should pass.)

In 2007, under Nancy Pelosi's leadership, the bill was reintroduced in the House.
And in 2008, and in 2009.
During the 2009 debate, the Representative from Virginia labelled the listing of Matthew Shepard's death as a hate crime "a hoax".
Mr. Shepard's mother was sitting in the gallery at the time.
The House finally passed the bill.
In the Senate, Ted Kennedy and Vermont's Senator Lahey immediately reintroduced the bill.
It passed in October 2009, and was signed into law by President Obama  - 11 years after Matthew Shepard was beaten to death because he was gay.

The fence is gone now, it has been taken down.
But that will not erase the memory of what happened.

On a lighter note, today is also the birthday of Cyril Ritchard,
who was so marvelously campy as Captain Hook.

In one of those wonderful coincidences of synchronicity, today is also the birthday of Mary Martin who played Peter Pan in the same production. The Broadway show was so popular, it was broadcast twice when I was a child. (It was live both times.) It started my life long obsession with the Pan material.

In the late 1970's or early 1980's, my best friend at the time, director Jerry Campbell and I realized that two friends of ours were perfect for parts in a production. Acting teacher Michael Graves stood over 6 feet tall, and would have been a joy as Hook. His son, not quite 5 feet, had waist length jet black hair and an elfin manner. He could have been a great Peter Pan. The Freudian overtones would have been incredible. Sadly, the production never came together.

About that time, I started running a theatre bookstore for Bob Nahaus, who owned a popular show biz watering hole and eatery named Curtain Up. Two very dear friends of mine needed something special to get them the attention needed to obtain union cards. So, using my then 31 year old angst, I started writing a show called "Rehearsing 'Wendy and Peter' ", in which actors rehearse a play in which Wendy and Peter are middled aged. It gave me plenty of opportunities ' to poke fun at actors and the off and off off Broadway scene. And it gave my two friends the showboat of a lifetime - in the show they would start the 11 o'clock as Wendy and Peter in middle age, and without anything other than acting ability progress through recovering their youthful magic, to the charcters they play in the rehersal, until they ended as themselves at the end of the show. One of the store's clerks was a woman who wrote screenplays for big budget historical tv mini series. We discussed my ideas. Around that time, I was shot in the back of the head. I was seen, in a public place, kissing a male friend who was returning home to Germany. I was shot minutes later. The police were given a description of the shooter by eyewitnesses. The police never arrested anyone, blaming the incident on kids shooting at pigeons. Needless to say, I missed several days of work, and under doctors orders reduced the hours I was working. My boss then reduced my pay, which had been salary not hours-ly. I quit. Within a couple of months, there was an announcement in the trade papers that Steven Spielberg was going to produce and direct a major  movir about Peter Pan and Wendy in middle age. After I moved to Boston, I ended up working for Columbia/Tri-Star which released it as a Christmas behmoth, and ended up selling it to movie theates throughout New England.

To this day, if you want to see a grown man cry, stand beside me when I click on this:

Clap, Damn it.      CLAP!



Austan said...

I love when you do posts like this. You were a very good boy today, Stevil.

sdt said...

This morning, before heading off to work, I wanted to rewrite and clarify a bit around my show "Rehearsing Wendy and Peter". Of course, I had to paly the clip of Mary Martin from the (1955?) black and white Peter Pan broadcast, live from the stage of the then running original production in New York City. I have both versions on video tape, and the color 2nd broadcast on DVD. I try to sing along with Mary Martin, but I can't. The effect is worse when I try to sing along with the origianl B&W broadcast, but by the time I cross my heart (thank you Jerome Robbins)I have tears running down my cheeks. There is a key there to my whole being.

By the by, if the production Jerry and I wanted to do had happened, Jerry was insisting that I perform again and play Smee.


sdt said...

p.p.s. I also have the color broadcast on Laser disc. And, of course, I have the cast albums of Both Pans - the well known one used in the post, and the lesser known Leonard Bernstein score with Jean Arthur as Peter and Boris Karloff as Hook...

sdt said...

.. and somewhere, from my days in the Dramatists Guild, the priavtely printed Eastside YMHA forum transcript on putting together the Coleman/Leigh version.
And there, Miss Laura, you have one of my guilty little secrets, my obsession with Peter Pan.