Been lying awake at night wondering what sorts of things I've been writing? Well, for one thing I just finished a rough draft of a heist play about Parisian chefs. (If you want to read it, let me know. It's good!) But as far as writing for money goes, well, I've been doing a bit of that. For instance, this pulse-pounding review of A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About The Death of Walt Disney , which wowed audiences last month at Soho Rep.
We shouldn't be surprised that Walt Disney has something up his sleeve. He is a showman, after all, and a showman always keeps something clever in reserve. So when Walt—moustachioed, imperial and cruel—takes a handkerchief out of his pocket, it's natural that it will turn into three, four, seven or eight more. They tumble out of his sleeve, falling to the floor, but somewhere the trick has gone wrong. The hankies are covered in blood. The showman is beginning to die.
Lucas Hnath's A Public Reading Of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney, which opened May 9 at Soho Rep and runs through June 9, is a poetic examination of a famous magician's attempt to execute the greatest trick of all: immortality. It's an audacious gambit, and it's clear from the first scene—and the presence of "Death" in the play's title—that he probably won't pull it off. But watching him try has proven one of the most engaging theatrical experiences of the spring.
Pretty good, eh? I've also been doing a bit of writing for The Classical , the website responsible for coining the word sporps—a wacky neologism that I somehow can't seem to get out of my head. For instance, I wrote this appreciation of Mets fringe player Mike Baxter—a sad-faced local kid who was, tragically, demoted on Sunday.
On a pleasant Friday afternoon last April, Mike Baxter misplayed a fly ball. The Mets were on their way to a 4-0 loss to the Phillies, playing the halfhearted and thunderously mediocre baseball that has been their trademark in 2013, when the fly came Baxter’s way. It was a long run, and could have been highlight-reel worthy had he successfully slid to catch it, but Baxter broke late, arriving just in time for the ball to roll towards his shoes. From right field came the shout: “You’re a piece of shit, Baxter!”
The heckler wore a Yankee hat, but even without that, it would have been obvious he wasn’t there to cheer on the Mets. Met fans love Mike Baxter, with the dull, unconditional affection usually reserved for pets, or a favorite, fading t-shirt with stains and a few expanding holes. It’s a love too rare in stadiums. The Yankee fan, after an inning or two cursing the hangdog right fielder, disappeared to watch the Knick game. But the Met fans did not turn away. In the seventh inning, when it was clear the Mets had no interest in winning that night, two young women serenaded Baxter, hollering, “Hey Mike! You’re gorgeous! We love you, Mike!”
Read mas, if you have a moment. It's probably the best thing I wrote last month, if you don't count my famously engaging grocery lists. Also for The Classical , I did an impression of someone who is qualified to write about soccer, producing this (I think pretty nifty) article about John Isner.
During the last weekend of May, New York got walloped with the first heat wave of summer: three days of humidity and haze dense and unremitting enough to make ordinary men sympathize with David Berkowitz. From the moment I stepped out of the climate controlled sanctuary of my bedroom and into a wall of stale, broiling air, the afternoon was doomed. I slithered onto the sofa, dragging a wheelbarrow of iced coffee behind me, and turned on the French Open. I seldom watch tennis, but it just felt right.
This is an urge I hadn’t had, if I’m being honest, since the last time my apartment did its convection oven impression, during last year’s U.S. Open. When warm weather strikes I find it soothing to watch attractive people grunt, leap, and yell at line judges. This doesn’t seem to need defending, but so rudimentary is my knowledge of the sport that it took me until last year to piece together what a break point is—a mystery I might have solved faster if I weren’t so committed to watching tennis only when hungover, heat-stroked or both.
Because it’s free of the grave mythology that bogs down American team sports, tennis can be easy to like and hard to love. I can get quickly invested in a game of football, basketball, or hockey, even if I don’t care about either team. Just pick a uniform, a city, a player to hate, and bellow until one group of meatheads crushes the other. But in tennis, the focus is too close. Those are real people out there—beautiful, talented, mostly European people. What the hell could they have to do with me?
What the hell, indeed. Find out more!
I'll be out of town for the next couple of weeks, so feel free to drunk a hogshead of whiskey and drunkbernate until I return.