Thursday, December 20, 2007

blowing of the horn

Everyone should run out and buy The Best Plays Theater Yearbook, 2005-2006, edited by Jeffrey Eric Jenkins. It's the 87th edition of this thing. Do the math, it started in 1919? 1918? Something like that?

Anyone got a calculator?

Actually, don't buy it. It's good, but it's like fifty bucks.

I bought two, not only because I want to read Grey Gardens and Rabbit Hole and Red Light Winter and Shining City and six other fine plays, but because of certain words written on pages 259 and 260 by John Istel in his essay, The Season Off Off Broadway.

I won't quote, because that would not only be blowing my own horn, but actually blowing myself right here in front of everyone, but suffice it to say that my own Christian name, (correctly spelled) is there. Istel, acute observer that he is, quotes my Obie acceptance speech and goes on to name me as one of the true Titans and original framers of all that is good and true below 14th Street. Hopkins, Parks, everyone gets a nod, with the glaring exception of Nancy Walsh. Behind every great man there's a woman rightfully screaming:

"What the fuck? Again?"

Anyway, a real thrill for your faithful correspondent. It's always good to have a thing around that says you actually did something at some point that you can pull off the shelf and hold in your trembling hands on those dark nights of the soul that come to us all.

Bought two, one for the dark nights of the soul, one for my Mom.

Great meeting this afternoon with Jess Bauman. She's a very kick-ass director whom we're working with, a fellow New York Theater Workshop Usual Suspect who's been working for awhile on something she's calling Into the Hazard, (Henry 5). She had a long workshop at the Culture Project last year, now the thing is starting to cook and she wants to bring it out again to the public eye.

If you like your Shakespeare, you're truly going to enjoy this one. Henry V stripped down, cast of six and very inventive use of video. She's casting this week up at the AEA building, so Nan and I go up there for a meeting, enemy territory and all that. We spend most of the time just bullshitting, but hell, we're only consultants. Early warning:

The workshop goes up Thursday January 31 and Friday February 1st, down at the Tank. Every one of you motherfuckers needs to be there. Even if it means jumping on a plane and flying in from Berlin. Hopkins.

Not that I'm singling anyone out.


All right, enough of that.


Also, I feel I need to address the issue of the first six songs on Icky Thump, by the fine young American band White Stripes. In an earlier post, June of 1971, I believe, I confessed to being unable to listen to the album until track 6 or 8, depending on how Celtic I was feeling at the moment. I've since sucked it up and put the bastard on from the top like Joe Chiccarelli, Jack White and God intended it.

It's fucking great.

Title track Icky Thump is first. No prisoners kind of shit. Here we go, hold on. Crazy-good guitar work, for a moment it's Led Zepellin doing Jethro Tull. Eighth-grade stoner jack-off heaven.

Next up is arguably the best song on the album, You Don't Know What Love Is. Direct, catchy, brutal. I'll just give you the chorus:

You don't know what love is
You just do what you're told
Just as a child of ten might act
But you're far too old
You're not hopeless
Or helpless
And I hate to sound cold...
But you don't know what love is
You just do as you're told

It's what you want to say to every smart woman in a fucked-up relationship. Your mom, your sister, your old girlfriend, your friend, every one of them. And it rocks.

Next is 300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues. Not quite as good as its title, but not half bad. Really great lyrics, which is true throughout the album. Ends with:

One thing's for sure in that graveyard
I'm gonna have the shiniest pair of shoes


Fourth on the platter is Conquest which is fucking awful. Written by someone else, starts with a blast of trumpets, no fucking idea what this is doing on the disc. Still haven't listened to it all the way through. Seriously. You sort of run at the stereo, whacking away at it, shouting:

"Get it off! Off!"

Some sort of artistic Jack White bullshit.

No good. Skip four.

Five takes us back to where we live. Angry, spare guitar, Meg banging away on the drums. It's called Bone Broke. At a certain point, Jack's guitar seems to get away from him and play what it's been trying to play since Jack first picked the thing up. He chokes it back down, but there's a moment of whoah what the fuck? that's a lot of fun.

And then, I swear to you, it's off to the races. 6-13. Over and over again. Join me in my joy. It's all I fucking listen to. And I'm so happy.

I just read this over.

What is this, Rolling Stone? Spin? Trying to run a theater blog here.

I am a Titan. Ask Istel.

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