It Hardly Matters

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Davey Is the Greatest

My man Davey is still keeping it real. That has to be the L train.

Davey Dance Blog - 28 - NYC MTA - The Sunshine Underground - "Put You In Your Place" from Pheasant Plucker on Vimeo.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Bit of Stevie

So I'm trying to write about Stevie Wonder. It's difficult. But here's what I've come up with. For my grad school friends: it's part of a longer piece (wink), called Prescriptions for the Soul.

Track 1: Fingertips Pts. 1 & 2

For fans of apt introductions. For enthusiasts of raw talent. For prepubescence. For rhythm and commands from bandleaders. For blindness and vision, extrasensory perception, the feel of cool ivory under your fingerprints. For witnessing something important. For articulation. For the beginning, the beginners. For people who like things in parts. For promise. For hope. For permission.

I’m watching a black and white video from the early 1960s. The music starts immediately, mid-harmonica solo. He’s lip-synching but no one cares, if they know. He is high-pitched, and young. He’s standing in a bible-salesmen suit on an empty stage, no band, feet close together in shined shoes. He can’t stop moving, he’s electrified. The audience, mostly female black teenagers, claps along, slightly out of time, slightly bewildered. They smile teenaged smiles colored with embarrassment, self-consciousness and fear. Several of them are wearing cheerleader sweatshirts with large white Es on the front. He sings to them, asks them to clap louder, and they do. (Robert Plant will borrow this vocal riff from him years later when he sings, “lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time” on “Rock and Roll”.) He’s a child, but I suspect he already knows things we don’t know. I’m watching him and I’m thinking: thank you.

(Stomp your feet, jump up and down, do anything that you wanna do!)

It'll go on from there, through every track on the 4-disc set, At the Close of a Century. Oh, and here's the Fingertips video.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

La Lotta Continua

Today I find myself utterly, crushingly distracted by the memory of someone who once told me he loved me. Or, more accurately, by the memory of the moment he told me. It's a physical memory, detailed, and warm, next to me from the moment I awoke until this second. I'm pulled by it, neck snapping up and to the left.

It's curious, with all its power and pull. How can he walk around knowing that he said it? With all that guilt and meaning, if, in fact, he meant what he said? That's what's astonishing me, the fact that I'll never know if he meant it, if anyone ever means it, those three words we long to hear. I have a mind to believe that once they are said they just float into the universe with all the other words and are rendered meaningless.

Does the curiosity of this love-day mean that I love him too, in some obtuse way, out of some deep soul-stirred dream? Or is it love that I love, I miss, that fat glowing thing?

I try to convince myself that love exists only when someone makes a move, does something, creates a real connection with another person, a life, not mummifies it in memory or art. Although Caravaggio could convince me otherwise.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


When I can't write, or won't, I can't sleep. So I've been up to all hours lately. Instead of applying my anxiety to my work (my new mantra, thanks, Jo Ann), I sit and stew in my own juices for hours on end ingesting various media: music, TV, films, books, magazines. I try to turn the level up a notch during what are supposed to be "writing hours": watching touching PBS documentaries about inner-city kids performing Shakespeare at London's West End Theatre, reading Lucy Grealy's harrowing medical/psychological memoir Autobiography of a Face, listening to The National's two albums on repeat, finally popping The Lives of Others into my DVD player instead of letting it rot in its Netflix sleeve on my coffee table. All this in search of my soul.

The kids in the PBS documentary (My Shakespeare) were having trouble. They weren't actors. They had never read or seen Shakespeare. They had no hope of success in any tangible way. But after a month of intensive rehearsals and constant guidance/encouragement from filmmaker/actor/director Paterson Joseph, they pushed through adversity (thank you ESPN, for that phrase) and connected to their characters, wrenching emotions like love, lust, and betrayal from their souls and getting them out on stage.

An actress friend of mine once told me that she had to stop acting because the ability to access and control emotions, though she could do it, was too much for her. She couldn't stop feeling them after the scene ended. I think this kind of direct access to and control of emotion is necessary for all art. But writing isn't a performance. It's just always there. So if you're attuned to your emotions when you're writing, if you're ripping your heart out, when and how do you put it back in?

Last night, I caught American Beauty on TV, uninterrupted, unedited. I remembered going to see it in the theatre with Jane, when it first came out, when she still lived here, when she made me go see the best films. Afterwards, we clutched each other and sighed with overwhelming wonder at the Wes Bentley character: how gorgeous, how real. The plastic bag dancing in the wind. We probably cried.

It's so easy (too easy?) for me to access my emotions. It's wrangling them into art that pins me to the couch. What good is all that emotion with no means to get it on the page? So I'm up all night, feeling stuff, staring into the night, the flickering television casting a frantic shadow in my bedroom, wondering what to do.