Did you know I am a professional writer? That's right. I type up words—words just like these—and then I put them in a special, top secret order, and mail them off to companies who pay me for them. Truly, it is a wacky life.
Lately I have been so busy writing things professionally that I haven't had time to tell you about them on this, my blog. Allow me to catch you up, in reverse chronological order, because we writers are saucy like that.
First, I reviewed Here Lies Love for Howlround, a wonderful website whose name is hard to say out loud. (It's not quite The Rural Juror, but it's a toughie.) If you click on that link, you can see a picture of me wearing a cat. I talked about this play a bit after I saw it, and what it was like to dance next to David Byrne, but now you can see my fully-fleshed-out critical whatnots. Here is a sample:
Eight drumbeats thud out, a martial pulse that sounds suspiciously like the famous opening bass line to a Talking Heads classic. Two lovers march towards each other through the crowd, and the audience wonders—“They’re not covering ‘Psycho Killer,’ are they? They wouldn't dare!” And then the lovers kiss, the room explodes in disco, and “Psycho Killer” is a distant memory.
Until that moment, I was wondering if David Byrne was the only reason anyone had come to Here Lies Love, the former Talking Head’s new musical, which plays at the Public Theater through June 2. In the last decade, Byrne has dabbled in conceptual art, producing work like 2008’s Playing the Building, a pleasant-enough art installation in southern Manhattan that probably did not deserve the attention drawn by its creator’s name. In his eagerness to cross genres, Byrne is like a much more talented, much less irritating James Franco. Conceptual art is best left to the professionals, but rock is Byrne's beat, and Here Lies Love is a sparkling reminder of why he became a downtown icon in the first place. His name may get them in the door, but the music will make them stay.
Pretty good, eh? If you like that, you'll love this article I wrote for the Observer about Europa Editions, a scrappy independent publisher whose new line of World Noir makes me so happy I could just sneeze. Seriously, I read almost nothing but crime fiction, and these guys have got the goods.
Detective Fabio Montale is having a rough week. His best friends are dead, he keeps getting beaten up, and his city is descending into, as the title of the novel he stars in suggests,Total Chaos. But he still has time for a little bass. Fennel-stuffed and grilled, maybe, with a lasagna sauce and peppers, “gently fried.” Some friends are coming over for pastis and Lagavulin and gin rummy by the sea, and they expect the copper to cook.
“I was finally calming down,” Montale thinks. “Cooking had that effect on me. My mind could escape the twisted labyrinth of thought and concentrate on smells and tastes. And pleasure.”
The kitchen is an escape for this harried gumshoe, but Total Chaos, part of author Jean-Claude Izzo’s Marseilles trilogy, is not mere escapist literature. Mr. Izzo used detective fiction to shine a light on France’s rugged southern port and the corruption that turned his stunning hometown into one of the most dangerous cities in Western Europe. The city loved him for it, and when he died in 2000, Marseilles’s bookstores closed their doors and filled their shop windows with Mr. Izzo’s pioneering novels.
Pretty heavy stuff? So heavy that maybe you'd like to read something about sports? Or, since this article is on The Classical, perhaps I should say sporps. I write about the proposed Flushing Meadows MLS stadium, and why handing it over to one of English soccer's many billionaires is a totally unfun idea.
This is the dead period in the English Premier League. The title race ended weeks ago, with Manchester United claiming their eleventy-millionth championship in honor of retiring rage-legend Sir Alex Ferguson. At the end, there was nothing left to wonder about but whether or not Wigan Athletic will escape relegation. Coming as it does with the start of spring, this annual tepid period carries a pleasant taste of the English countryside—village greens and quiet pubs and all the other stuff Ray Davies just couldn't get out of his system. But for Manchester City, who will finish second this year, it is a time of seething discontent.
Last May, the blue half of Manchester won its first title since 1966, in five minutes of madness that made the madcap end to the 2011 baseball season look contrived. (Relive it here, accompanied for good or ill by the musical stylings of The Verve.) Manchester City won the FA Cup the year before, and will try for it again this weekend, taking on hard-luck Wigan in a match as well balanced as Goliath vs. David’s asthmatic younger brother. With all their recent success, the placid American fan would expect them to be happy. “You can’t win them all,” we tell them, naively. But if City loses on Saturday, a dapper gent named Roberto Mancini will probably be out of a job. The Premier League is no place for sentiment.
And in a league where a bad season is rewarded with relegation, there is no such thing as rebuilding. (Jeff Fisher, for instance, would not have lasted in England.) Sheikh Mansour, City’s doe-eyed billionaire owner, has dumped nearly half-a-billion pounds into the club, and has no interest in passing a springtime afternoon over a pint of bitter, wistfully crooning, “Wait ‘till next year.” The Premier League system is a mad one, driven by greed unheard of in American sports. So it is maybe or maybe not a good thing that it appears to be on its way to Flushing.
What's that? You want more? Well I just remembered that I never linked to my Richard Foreman profile on here. Lordy, have I been slacking. It's got a pretty good lede:
One morning last month at the Public Theater, Richard Foreman was having trouble with rage. On a stage crowded with pillows, stuffed animals and string, an actor droned through a monotone monologue. He made it halfway through before Mr. Foreman, the last standard-bearer of the 1970s avant-garde, stopped him in the middle of a line about “incalculable rage.”
“What’s another word for rage?” Mr. Foreman asked the room. “Rage sounds weak.”
“Fury?” suggested the actors. “Ire? Wrath?”
“Maybe it needs another leading word. Not incalculable rage. Black rage?”
The actors offered more suggestions—“blind rage,” “mad rage” “octopus rage”—but their director’s attention had shifted to the lightboard. As the actors waited, he conferred with his staff of 10—some Public employees, some interns—flipping through light cues and eventually casting the theater into darkness. By the time the lights were sorted, and he had settled on “incalculable rage … Rage!” it was time to break for lunch.