Thursday, June 12, 2008

impending nieces and an interview with the archbishop

The three of them are waking just about now out there in the flood plain of Missouri. With their little suitcases clutched in their hot, sticky little hands, they'll board the big Plane and fly through the air and, Gob willing, touch down safely in Rat City this afternoon.

They're all in the wedding as Flower People, so that's going to be pretty funny.

Quiet morning at the Museum yesterday, got a lot done. Great, long phone conversations with Melanie about our Dance Thing, Curtiss about The Postmen and Philip Gersten about his play This Isn't What It Looks Like.

Current conclusions:

Mel and I are not interested in making Another Damned Thing, no matter how funny or cool it may turn out to be. Goal is to create a social event, not an artwork. Goal is to make something that keeps changing, as soon as it becomes clear in the room what's going on, change it up. Build in a real element of chance and surprise without getting all flaily and chaotic. Create some strong characters or personas, have a strong structure everyone can play within, but keep the competition real, somehow. I can't wait to hear what happened in rehearsal yesterday.

Curtiss is still completely fucking crazy. You'd think he'd settle down, what with the house and the eleven kids, but no. Completely batshit. Always a pleasure to work with him.

Philip has a great play, going to do an informal apartment reading of it in a few weeks. Trick is scheduling, as the fall is beginning to fill up, praise Jebus.

Yesterday afternoon I had an interesting-bordering-on-surreal meeting with the CEO of Coldwell Banker Commercial up on Madison Avenue, David M. Michonski and his associate Blanche Baker Magill.

Now there's a great name. Blanche Baker Magill. A gangster's moll if ever I typed one.

I'm lining up some pieces and laying the groundwork for a big land grab to make sure that there are still some Art Spaces here in the Big Dirty when me and McGee are old and doddering and need some shelter from the Storm.

Mr. Michonski, an affable man from Greenwich, CT, filled page after page of his yellow legal pad with querolous scribbles as he sat across from me in the boardroom. After about twenty minutes of smiling, puzzled chit-chat, me saying things like:

"We have to identify twenty properties and secure six."


"I'm looking for around 20,000 square feet minimum."

he puts down his pen and asks,

"Where's your money coming from, John?"

and like he'd asked me the square root of 1,113 I reply quickly and simply,

"Oh, I have no idea, David. We have to get the property first. If we find the right property, we can get the money."

A moment of silence. He tries again.

"But...from where?"

"Don't know."

A moment. He smiles. I'm a witch doctor and he's an oncologist from Sloan Kettering. I'm a pagan painted blue and he's the Archbishop of Canterbury. We're just not going to get each other.

So he does a nice little switch-up and tries to sell me on 11 acres of vacant land in the middle of downtown Newark. I cooly reply that that would be giving up my chosen battlefield, the five blighted boroughs of Manhattan. He shows me the plans, they're going to build an art center to coax the white people back, there will be luxury condos with views of Emerald City across the waters, etc., etc. I tell him my buddy Norman might be interested, but not for me, thanks.

He gives me a full hour of his time, decently, shakes my hand, still smiling, and I ride the elevator car back down to reality.

And the whole time I'm thinking:

"You called the meeting, motherfucker. I don't know why, but you called me and said we should talk."

Hard sometimes when powerful people look at you like you're crazy when you're telling them the very simple truth.

Money is never first when you're trying to do something big. Money is just another resource. It's important, of course, but it's not the Primary Factor. The idea has to be solid, the time has to be right, the team has to be hungry and varied and the other resources (property, materials, etc.) have to be there. Then you add the money to the project. If you have the idea, if you're catching the wave of the times, if you've assembled the right team, then the Money has a thing to flow into.

It never starts with the Money.


Good LIT Website Task Force meeting last night. Love having Task Forces. Feels like we should have nicknames and assign someone to be in charge of Demolition.

Trying to get nine things done today so I can play hooky next week out on Long Island. Walking along the beach with Spitfire, screaming and goofing with the nieces, maybe even go fishing with my Dad.

Summertime, baby.


Rose said...

I can't really be the head of demolition since I'm not on the force, but can I press the little red button? :D

John said...


You're our perfect little secret weapon. Every Force needs the Presumed Innocent, the woman pushing the baby carriage that actually carries the ticking bomb.


Ann said...

You need me, John. My secret talent? Translating pagan into archbishop. Give me an hour with Mr. Michonski, see if he mentions Newark once I've given him The Stare.

John said...

Ah god, the Stare.

Know it all too well.

Rose said...

Sorry I made a small fool of myself today John. Seeing you in the middle of having a very trying day making puppets was like...having the wizard of Oz show up at a high school dance set decorating afternoon or something.
IE: Completely unexpected and awesome!!!
So forgive me if I hugged you and mumbled incoherent things a bit too many times. It was a long long wacky day, and that place is crazy!!!
PS: Ann, John on a normal day out reminds me of Hunter S. Thompson or something. Little strawish fedora hat, hawaiian shirt. Maybe khaki shorts though I don't really recall much more than hat and silly shirt. Very funny and adorable.

John said...

Yeah, I'm working that HST feel for the summer, I've decided. Not going for the cigarette holder, no way anyone but the Duke Himself could pull that off, but all the other good craziness is fun.

Absolute trip to see you, too, and actually it was perfect.

Good random joy right in the middle of a not awkward but rusty conversation with an old, old friend and colleague I hadn't spoken to in a long time.

Loosened us up and we had a great meeting.

So, clearly the Cuteness Powers are in fine form.