Saturday, July 20, 2019

FRANK DE LA ROSA R.I.P.


Frank de la Rosa is mostly known as a great jazz bassist, but I knew him as the coolest uncle of a dear friend in the 1990s in LA and the cool brother of triplet sisters who were equally cool in their varying ways. I only spent time with him at a few events, but I loved talking with him. He had a generosity of spirit, in my encounters with him, that unfortunately isn't as common as it should be. My condolences to all his family and friends and fans.

Hard to find videos (for my old brain anyway) of his bass work, but here's a gig he played on where you get to hear some of his exquisite musicianship, if you listen closely:



Friday, July 19, 2019

CAPTAIN MARVEL

I saw CAPTAIN MARVEL because it starred Brie Larson, and she certainly made it worth watching for me, along with some other members of the cast. And the big plot twist added an element of surprise that, well, surprised me. But for the first third, maybe even half, of the film my main reaction was: whaaaat? Guess you had to read the (comic) book.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

ONCE

Not sure who took this shot of me at 32 in 1974 in my studio apartment on Florida Avenue not far from DuPont Circle in DC. I'm grateful to my Irish ancestors who endowed me with genes that allowed me to eat whatever, whenever, and as much as I wanted, and not jog or workout or take any measures to stay so slim, except a lot of boogieing of all kinds.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

OUTSIDE MULLINGAR

While I was in The Berkshires this past weekend I saw the closing night of John Patrick Shanley's OUTSIDE MULLINGAR at The Unicorn Stage in Stockbridge. It had been done on Broadway in 2014 and ran less than two months (though it was nominated for some awards).

But seeing this production directed by Karen Allen (full disclosure: a longtime dear friend) I could imagine it running for years. The audience included people who were seeing it for the second and third time, and it was given a standing ovation and a couple of curtain calls. There was laughter and tears and that childlike quality that Shanley brings to so much of his work (MOONSTRUCK for instance).

Set in the Irish countryside on two adjacent farms, it involves four characters, a widow and her daughter on one farm and a widower and his son on the other. The soul of the story is familiar in Irish theater and history: who gets the farm. But the heart of the story is all about the reticence and reluctance and shyness and insecurity when it comes to romance, so common in Irish culture and stories.

They say casting is ninety percent of a director's job, though having done some stage directing myself I'd raise the percentage of work a director does after the cast is chosen. In this case, Allen elevated Shanley's story by her direction, beyond picking a solid cast. Like Jeffrey DeMunn as the father and James McMenamin as his son, who together make the tensions and vulnerabilities of their relationship(s) poignant.

But it's the women of the play—Deborah Headwell as the widow and Shannon Marie Sullivan as her daughter—who opened my heart wide to Shanley's whimsy and humor that makes their longings bearable. Sullivan especially is a revelation. She should be a Broadway star. From the moment she came on stage, the power of her presence and performance almost drew gasps, and certainly my awe. I hope there were some talent scouts among those who came to see it, because Shannon Marie Sullivan showed colossal talent in this production of OUTSIDE MULLINGAR.  

Monday, July 15, 2019

YIKES

So I'm up in the country on a little hiatus and I walk into the eating area of the home I'm staying in just as my hostess (one of my dearest and oldest friends) spies a bear standing up and holding onto a large bird feeder only inches away from us on the other side of the window flicking its tongue rapidly to get the seed out of the feeder (she says they can empty this almost two foot long feeder of all the seed in only minutes).

As she bangs on the window, the bear turns to stare at us, mouth open, powerful jaw and many teeth impressing me, but then goes right back to flicking out the bird seed with its tongue. So she opens the window next to it and yells and claps her hands very loudly, and the bear drops and rumbles off a few feet, then turns around and looks at us and starts walking back to the feeder just as she opens the window to get the feeder off it's hook and into the house and the window closed.

She starts clapping again and I join in, and that, or the yelling or the feeder being gone, gets the bear to waddle off among some nearby trees, climb up one to about fifteen feet off the ground and then, not finding what it wants, climb back down and eventually wander off. I didn't have the instinct nor do I have the habit of recording all this on my phone, so you'll have to take my word for it. I found it a little scary, and fascinating, she seemed to find it fascinating too, though she's used to it, and the bear kind of adorable.

Friday, July 12, 2019

JIM BOUTON R.I.P.

I thought the worldwide web was supposed to make everything available, but a lot of things from my life I can't find including the time I was on TO TELL THE TRUTH, somewhere in the late 1970s or 1980 (?), and Jim Bouton was on the panel for that episode.

I remember standing around talking to him and how humorous and unpretentious he was for a guy who was famous at the time. It made me go out and get and read his book, BALL FOUR. Many years later (1990s?) I ran into him in an ice cream store in The Berkshires (Western Mass) and reminded him of the episode and was able to tell him how much I loved that book. And once again he was funny and unpretentious.

Those two experiences left me believing that he was a happy human, well adjusted to his life and the realities of it, good or not so good. I smile whenever I think of him. May he rest in all the smiles he generated, including mine, and his own.