Big and Little Apples

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Somebody asked me if all we did in New York was see shows. First of all, I wish I could afford to see as many shows as I want, and really, there is only one matinee and one evening performance per day, so no. In addition to Broadway, we went to Central Park, Grand Central Station, the new Highline Park, a Radio City Music Hall tour, and the 911 memorial fountains. The old World Trade Center water footprints are quite stunning, but I couldn’t bring myself to go into the museum. That day is still seared in my brain.

Also, I forget that New York has as many stars as Los Angeles. Upon arrival, we saw Nick Carter walking the backstreets and the plumber from Desperate Housewives checking into our hotel. We also saw Broadway star Christopher Sieber talking to someone on a street corner, like a hooker. Albert also got us tickets to The Daily Show, so we got to see Jon Stewart live and in person, and he is hysterical. He does a little Q&A with his audience before the show, and he is friendly, smart, and quick witted. We were also in the city during Comic Con, so there were costumed characters everywhere, but they blend seamlessly with the locals. Darth Vader, in all black from head to toe and sporting a dramatic cape, is definitely a New Yorker. I’m still tired from our non-stop vacation activity.

Speaking of stars, last week Albert and I were at The Grove and I spotted Tilda Swinton walk past us. We had just purchased a pumpkin at The Farmers’ Market, and when I mentioned to Albert who had just walked by us, he started chasing her. Rarely does he get that excited that he would chase a celebrity, particularly while carrying a large orange squash. He never caught her, which is probably for the best, because I’m pretty sure Tilda would have frowned upon being hunted by a man wielding a large pumpkin.

Last week, Albert and I were enjoying some Tuesday tacos at Malibu Fish Grill. I got up to get some of their amazing fat-ass tartar sauce, when I passed a little girl in a stroller. I can’t pass by a baby and not say hello, so I bent over to chat with the child who was less than two years old, and said hi to the mother. The little girl looked at me, pointed and yelled, “apple!”

I tried to continue the conversation with, “So, did you have an apple for lunch? I had a fish taco.” I sound like a strange man-baby.

The mother looked at me, held up her iPhone, and said, “Apple. She wants your phone.”

Oh my God, this little baby wants my technology. She doesn’t even know that an apple is fruit. How am I going to have a meaningful conversation with a tech-obsessed stupid baby that can’t even tell me what she had for lunch? Geesh.

This week Albert and I went to see the national tour of Pippin at the Pantages. If you are a fan of this show, it is by the far the best production of it I have ever seen. The singing and staging are a fantastic non-stop circus act. Los Angeles also has the original lead, and the Tony-winning Andrea Martin reprising her role as Berthe. Martin’s well-deserved applause for her trapeze number actually stopped the show, only the second time in my life I have ever seen anybody do that (the other time being Eden Espinosa in Brooklyn). With all that said, Pippin is still an overly simple, abstract, conceptual piece that is not for everyone. Act one is better than act two, and the lead is so whiney that Albert cringes every time he hears the name…Pippin.

New York, New York

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Albert and I just got back from a New York City theater vacation. Yes, we have amazing live theater in Los Angeles, both very large spectaculars and small intimate repertory. What don’t we have? Broadway. What people don’t understand, unless they travel to Manhattan, is that Broadway theaters are the perfect middle size. They’re just right. Oh, and then there’s the casts of multitalented triple threats working on those stages. So, for anyone interested in what to see, here’s my two cents.

The first show that we went to was the new musical Here Lies Love at The Public Theatre in the east village. I have been listening to the concept album by David Byrne and Fat Boy Slim for years, and loving it, but never really knew the whole story of Imelda Marcos. This is a modern Eva Peron, and just as Evita featured groundbreaking staging and music, this show breaks new ground again. The entire story is told on a dance floor, much like the Studio 54 where Imelda partied her way into the lives of the world. So the music is disco and dance, and the story takes place on an ever-shifting stage around you. It is a really fun party and an emotional, moving history lesson at the same time. I loved this show and would recommend it to anyone who is still able to shake their moneymakers.

The next show we went to see was Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Belasco Theatre. I have seen two live productions of Hedwig and am a huge fan of the film, so I had high expectations for this first full Broadway production. It delivered in pure glitter-covered adrenaline. We saw Andrew Rannells of The New Normal and Girls fame, and he was absolutely fantastic in the transtastic role. I was never certain if Middle America would accept these characters as leading players in a Broadway musical, but they are almost immediately on board with sympathy and love for them. The show is funny, moving, and electric, and the reaction of the audience filled me with hope. Outsiders are actually being let in. If you are not familiar with Hedwig, rent the John Cameron Mitchell movie immediately.

The next show we caught was a preview of a revival of the classic On the Town. I’ll be honest, I am not usually a fan of old fashioned musical comedies, as I prefer downers like Les Miz, where everybody ends up dead. I’m also not a huge fan of ballet, and the idea for this show sprang from Jerome Robbins. Despite all of this, I thought this production was just about perfect. The sets, the costumes, and the cast, all dancing together to the amazing Leonard Bernstein score, are completely joyful. This is a show you could bring absolutely anybody to and have a great time. It’s interesting to me how every show since the Hair revival is trying to integrate the audience with the cast. The director, John Rando, does that here in the number “Lovely Town” to striking effect. This is going to be a tough show to beat at next year’s Tony Awards so get thee to New York, New York…it’s a helluva town!

The next show we went to was a preview of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. This is an Olivier Award-winning play from London based on a best-selling novel that I was not familiar with. Before I give my review, let me say, I think that I would enjoy this novel as the narrator is reading some of it aloud, and the words are lovely.

I hated this play, and let me tell you why. The story is set up as a mystery, but it is solved in act one and then NOTHING happens in act two. Also, the show is about a student with an unnamed social disorder, some sort of autism, and while reading about this is one thing, watching over two hours of tantrums is unnerving. Much of the buzz about this show is the technological staging, which I found completely overblown. The last Olivier Award-winning play I went to see was War Horse, which I also hated. Yes, the horse puppets were fantastic, but the play was lame. In Curious Incident, the acting is great and the staging is unique, but I left with no new insights, other than I don’t care for anything from the London stage. It’s been all hacks since Shakespeare.

Speaking of Shakespeare, the last show we went to was Sleep No More. It is a sexy, moody, immersive experience that I highly recommend to anyone over 18, who is mobile enough to walk and do stairs for three hours. It is a completely unique take on Macbeth set in a dilapidated 1930’s hotel. The audience members wear Venetian masks and essentially play the ghosts, who are haunting the actors in the show. The cast is made up of phenomenal model/dancers who violently and elegantly perform the conceptual play all over the five-story space. The audience gets to follow whomever they want in the cast, sometimes running in the dark to catch them, doing everything from the dramatic to the mundane. I watched a king being suffocated, a nurse sleeping on a bed of rocks, and one sexy dancer take a rape-shower. The hotel is a set decorator and art director’s heaven, and Sleep No More is filled with plenty of time-tested crowd pleasers—sex and blood. Apparently they are working on a Los Angeles production of this show, and I would definitely check back in to this hotel in a heartbeat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gone Goat

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Albert and I just returned from a road trip up north to visit family. We went fishing in Medford, where I reeled in a 20-pound salmon on the Rogue River. Albert’s dad, Bob, gutted the giant fish on the riverbank and began by tossing the beating heart on a nearby rock. He expertly butchered the rest of the water-beast and the heart continued to beat during the entire process, like a horror movie. Oregon is beautiful land, and you can see animals everywhere. From Bob’s porch we could see cows, llamas, and almost a dozen wild turkeys. My first thought is “beautiful.” In Oregon, people’s first thought is, “I want to kill and eat all of that.”

We also went to visit Albert’s aunt and uncle near Sacramento. The day before I arrived, they had rescued a kitten and an adult cat, so here I got to pet the animals as opposed to hunting them. There is nothing more fun than playing with a couple of very happy cats that know they just got a new lease on one of their nine lives. We also visited friends in San Francisco for the weekend. I love that beautiful city and it still feels like home in many ways, BUT (and there is always a but) it is filthy. The first thing I saw as we parked our car in the Castro in the light of day was a man pooping on the sidewalk. Welcome home!

Speaking of sidewalks, let me just add, that throwing stuff on the sidewalk or in the gutter is gross. People in my neighborhood clean out their cars by dumping their trash onto the streets, like it’s supposed to magically disappear. Beer bottles and Slurpee cups dot not disintegrate like fall leaves, and I believe that you are whatever you leave behind. For example, if you leave your trash on the ground, you are trash. If you leave your dog’s crap on the ground, then you are shit. It’s very simple.

Sometimes the garbage just doesn’t make sense, however. I was picking up detritus by my front sidewalk the other day and came across a coupling I just couldn’t figure out. There in my grass was one used condom and a cherry tomato. I could see either of these item alone, but together it’s just the worst salad ever. Did someone almost finish their light lunch before having sex in the gutter. I am actually happy that somebody is having safe sex in front of my home and eating healthy in the street. Good for you, you dirty prophylactic.

Before I sign off, I have a few recommendations for you. Albert and I went to see Edward Albee’s “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?” playing at the LGBT Center, and it’s fantastic. The show has witty, smart dialogue similar to his classic “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” but with the addition of bestiality. It is shocking and hysterical and has some of the best performances I’ve seen in town.

We’ve also gone to a couple movies that are not to be missed. Gone Girl is a great adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel starring Ben Affleck and his penis. I loved the book and thought David Fincher’s direction of the film was perfect. We also saw the movie Pride, based on the true story of how a London-based gay and lesbian activist group supported a group of National Mine Workers in 1984. It is a very funny and inspiring movie about tolerance and friendship. Gays, lesbians, and miners should see it to learn some of their history, and know the hard work and battles our fairy godmothers and godfathers had to fight. Everybody else should see it because it shows the power of the human spirit, and it will make you laugh and cry.

Finally, my new book Bring a Bag of Ice is available digitally for your Kindle, tablet, or smartphone. Download your copy from Amazon today:

http://www.amazon.com/Bring-Bag-Ice-Short-Adventures-ebook/dp/B00O3IOJNY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1412631426&sr=1-1&keywords=bring+a+bag+of+ice