Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Lights! Lights!"

I took attendance at the first meeting of my class, and then we left on a small field trip from our Boylston Street classroom down to the Mills Gallery in the South End. Our mission was to see the Turner Prize Winning Work No. 227 by Martin Creed.

Anybody who reads the Globe or keeps up on the Arts scene should know already that Work No. 227 is subtitled: The Lights Going on and Off.

And the piece of art is just that. You can read about it more in one of the many articles, but the photo to the right (the original installation at the Tate in the UK,) should give you all you need to know.

I had gone into the gallery on the weekend before class to scope it out. I walked slowly through the empty gallery as the lights switched on and off. My wife stood by the entrance, perhaps wondering if blogging, combined with all of the research I had been doing for the class, had finally fried my brain.

As the song goes, "I felt noooothing." Not exactly, there is a strange effect where you find yourself trying to anticipate the switch. You are almost always wrong.

The class and I returned to talk about the "art" and what they felt about the exhibit, if anything.
I felt it was a good introduction to the course and the strange intersection of the arts with critics, audiences and society.

One of my students, when were talking about the worth, (if any,) of what we had just seen, said, "Well that's the Fifty Thousand Dollar Question, right?"

How right he was! Though he was just a little off. It is really the thirty thousand dollar question, as in Martin Creed won the Turner Prize of $30,000 dollars in 2001 for this work. He received the award from the Material Matriarch herself at the ceremony in 2002. Looks here as if Creed was getting the "kiss." Hope it turns out better for him than it did for Britney.



In 1913, a show opened at the Armory in New York City, and part of its purpose was to provide a a venue for artists to exhibit outside of the museum and major gallery system. Also, the Armory exhibit was being used as a way to showcase some of the newer painters and movements from Europe, as well as present some of the contemporary work of established European masters. The show was important for several reasons, but one of the more overlooked aspects of the show's success was the amazing way the creators played the public relations game.

Walter Kuhn, one the more prominent forces behind the show utilized his significant skills at promotion to build the show into a much anticipated event. Everything from the poster for the show, (the flag of the United States Revolution,) to the Sunday feature supplements in the New York Times profiling the artists was calculated for maximum exposure.

In one feature, readers were treated to a photo and a profile of the Duchamp brothers, a family of avant gard artists hanging around the yard.

The show opened with about thirteen galleries featuring works of Cezanne, Gaugin and the works of the more experimental cubists. You can take a virtual tour of the Armory Show at this excellent site here.

As the site mentions, despite all the work that was being shown, everything centered on Gallery I. In particular, one painting in Gallery I.

Marcel Duchamp of the avant gard Duchamps created a national frenzy over his painting Nude Descending a Staircase, No 2. ( At Right. ) The critics were either gushing or groaning, with one calling the painting "An explosion in a shingle factory."

Numerous parodies followed, everything from Chuck Jones' Nude Duck Descending a Staircase to my favorite, a cartoon depicting a mob of surging transit riders fighting their way down to the subway. "The Rude Descending a Staircase," the caption reads.

Although the general public response was satirical, there is not doubt that the moment in art history had a lasting effect on our culture. The Cubist/Futurist paintings sold. In fact, Nude Descending a Staircase sold, sight unseen, for a lot of money. Department stores quickly, very quickly adapted the "cubist" look. And we still see it today.

But, as the culture quickly adopted Cubism, Marcel Duchamp quickly abandoned it. For those who thought his Nude was shocking or a fraud, I wonder what they thought of some of the work that followed closely on its shingled heels.

His "Readymades" (examples left) were the grandparents of Martin Creed's Work No 227. One masterpiece of this period is a snow shovel.Duchamp was quoted as resenting the old phrase "dumb as a painter," and it appeared that he wished to show his cleverness. But the question must be put to him as to whether he thought the inverse of "dumb as a painter" is "smart as a guy who labels a urinal 'fountain'?"

Currently the shovel is at Yale, the toilet is in a private collection and that bicycle wheel is actually a replica. Which reminds me, the Globe had an excellent Letter to the Editor regarding Creed's Work No. 227. The letter writer asked several great questions:

  • "For how much is the work insured?"
  • "If a thief breaks into the Mills Gallery, how much of the work must he steal to say that he has the original?"
  • "If the Mills Gallery burns down, is the masterpiece lost?

Perhaps the New Critierion said it best when doing a retrospective of the famouse Duchamp fracas:

Indeed, to place the artist who painted the Nude Descending a Staircase in the company of Braque and Picasso, never mind Matisse and Léger, is to define him as a minor figure. In the Paris avant-garde of the period before the First World War, Duchamp did not rank at all.

Only in America was he mistaken to be a major representative of the modernism that had been created by talents more robust than his. The truth is, the sensation which the Nude caused in New York in 1913 was more a reflection of our provincialism than of Duchamp’s originality. Yet who can doubt that the entire career of the Duchamp who is now so admired, so solemnly studied and so widely emulated—the Duchamp ofThe Large Glass, the “Readymades,” and the enigmatic notes and clues that accompany them—was determined by this early episode in mistaken identity? For that episode and the publicity it generated placed upon Duchamp’s every subsequent artistic effort an obligation to come up with something that would prove to be equally provocative and controversial.

(...)

Today, nearly eighty years after Duchamp perpetrated this bluff on the New York art world, his anti-art legacy fills our museums and in some other quarters, too— the academy and the media—commands an esteem that is often greater than any enjoyed by works of art created by more traditional means. All of which is a reminder, if we still need one, that the conventions of this anti-art legacy have themselves now come to constitute an academy of sorts.

Young Audiences Avert the CPAC Bohemoth!


In today's Globe Geoff Edgers files another story about the ongoing fallout of the Citi Performing Arts Center.

We have already read about the Citi Performing Arts Center (CPAC) Strategic Initiative, which includes "partnering" with smaller organizations. Well, now two of those organizations seem to be listening to the ghosts of past CPAC partners.

The discussion with Young Audiences of Massachusetts, a chapter of the national nonprofit that works to bring arts education programs into schools, did reach a point at which the Citi Center laid out a potential merger plan, according to Young Audiences of Massachusetts executive director Carol Bonnar. Under the proposal, Young Audiences would have moved its offices from Somerville to the Citi Center's Boston headquarters, Bonnar said. The Citi Center would have covered overhead costs, which account for about half of Young Audiences' $1 million annual budget. Bonnar said she would have become a department head at the Citi Center.

Bonnar said she was concerned about the material reported by the Globe, including Spaulding's compensation, and the decision came down to "issues of trust and risk."

"It felt more like an acquisition than a merger," she said yesterday.

Yes, the emphasis is mine.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

You Kant Tell Me...


If any one reads me his poem, or brings me to a play, which, all said and done, fails to commend itself to my taste, then let him adduce Batteux or Lessing, or still older and more famous critics of taste, with all the host of rules laid down by them, as a proof of the beauty of his poem; let certain passages particularly displeasing to me accord completely with the rules of beauty (as set out by these critics and universally recognized): I stop my ears: I do not want to hear any reasons or any arguing about the matter. I would prefer to suppose that those rules of the critics were at fault, or at least have no application, than to allow my judgement to be determined by a priori proofs. I take my stand on the ground that my judgement is to be one of taste, and not one of understanding or reason.

This would appear to be one of the chief reasons why this faculty of aesthetic judgement has been given the name of taste. For a man may recount to me all the ingredients of a dish, and observe of each and every one of them that it is just what I like, and, in addition, rightly commend the wholesomeness of the food; yet I am deaf to all these arguments. I try the dish with my own tongue and palate, and I pass judgement according to their verdict (not according to universal principles).

As a matter of fact, the judgement of taste is invariably laid down as a singular judgement upon the object. The understanding can, from the comparison of the object, in point of delight, with the judgements of others, form a universal judgement, e.g.: “All tulips are beautiful.” But that judgement is then not one of taste,

Emmanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement

If Poetry Seems Irrelevant...

In a five thousand word essay in The New Criterion, Joseph Epstein looks back on the changes in the literary landscape of the last 25 years.

The decline of the schools of criticism, the passing of the youngest of the the New York Intellectuals (Susan Sontag) and much more. It is a sweeping assessment that hopefully was written with tongue in cheek nature because it is painted with extremely broad strokes.

Critics, novels, globalization, poetry and the universities are all discussed. However, theatre merits one single sentence:

"English playwrights are less dreary than American, still up to taking on large themes (see Tom Stoppard, passim), though they are much aided here in having a superior cadre of fine actors."


But perhaps we can extrapolate his feelings from looking at his meditations on other subjects.:

On Poetry:

Poor poetry, it is the Darfur of twenty-first century literature. Everyone wants to do something about it, but nobody quite knows what is to be done. Money is poured into it (think Miss Ruth Lilly’s $100 million bequest to Poetry magazine), prizes and titles are awarded to poets roughly every thirty-five minutes (think Poet Laureate of the State of New Jersey), new poets are produced roughly at the rate of rabbits (don’t think, lest serious depression set in, of all those endless MFA programs turning out more and more people who will themselves go on to teach in MFA programs). I shouldn’t be surprised to learn that in the United States today there are more practicing poets than members of the National Rifle Association.

(...)

Contemporary poetry has an air of crushing intramurality. Poetry has become a schoolhouse affair, with poems being, as they say in the MFA programs, relentlessly “workshopped,” an empty word which means no more than discussed in a classroom setting. The only people who read contemporary poetry appear to be those who write it. Stories circulate about magazines with more would-be contributors than actual subscribers. Poets of reputation meet to give Pulitzer and other prizes to pals. Contemporary poetry begins to seem like a club to which one is lucky to escape membership.

On Novels:

Some while ago I was asked to write about Russo’s novel Empire Falls and a novel by Jonathan Franzen called The Corrections, which is steeped in hatred for the middle-class from which Franzen derived. The comparison between the two novels reminded me of an essay Matthew Arnold wrote about the difference between Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary, which was that Tolstoy, the larger-hearted man, came to love his heroine and Flaubert never veered from his loathing for his. A good heart remains the first requisite for a great novelist.

(...)

So many young novelists appear to be up against the same problem, settling for composing books that go in for verbal feats and imaginative flights over gripping moral dramas: I have in mind the novels of Michael Chabon, David Foster Wallace, Gary Shtayngart, Jeffrey Eugenides, among others. Belief goes to the heart of the problem: if you don’t know what you believe in, you cannot construct moral dramas, which leaves you with making jokes through elaborate literary constructs to make the sham point about reality not quite existing, or that life is really no more than a dream, sha-boom, sha-boom.

Early in The Emperor’s Children a character is reading one such novel, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and finding “bits of it made him laugh, but he couldn’t seem to keep track of the broader premise, or plot (was there a premise or plot?).” I didn’t have much better luck with this novel than Ms. Messud’s character, and I have decided to take a pass on such fiction: time is not limitless, the grave yawns, and so, while reading it, do I.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Faith and Consquences?



"That picture! Why, some people might lose their faith by looking at
that picture."
So says the character of Myshkin in Dostoevsky's The Idiot. The subject of his observation is the stark painting The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb by Hans Holbein the Younger. (below) 



But, like the infamous photo Piss Christ, I think Holbein was up to something a little more than sowing the seeds of atheism.

At the Boston Center for the Arts Ronan Noone is also up to something a little more in his play titled The Atheist. His slick tabloid journalist, Augustine Early, (played by Cambpell Scott with a smirking satisfaction,) leads the audience through a labyrinth of his amoral muckraking. The key, this ink-stained wretch reminds us, (early and often,) is that without a belief in God you are free to the buffet.

Speaking into a tripod-fixed video camera, Augustine (pronounced August-teen,) hip to the way the world works, tells us of his talent for dissembling at a tender young age. Taking his single mother along for the ride, he schemed his family through the welfare system and the bureaucracies of affordable housing lotteries.

Campbell Scott in The Atheist at the Calderwood
He eventually lands a freelance job at a Midwestern city daily, and his nose for the underside of the mainstream gives him a juicy scoop about an Elian Gonzalez-type situation. However, he soon stalls in his ascension until a tryst with an aspiring young actress leads him to a story that has every ingredient for a cable-ready scandal.


The play's production coincides with the Larry Craig episode, and I couldn't help equating Augustine Early to the journalists at the Idaho Statesman suddenly being thrust into the bright lights of the national cable shark tank at feeding time.




Mr. Scott, wearing a light-colored suit and speaking to us in a Midwestern/Southern accent, has an irresistible charm and is a natural for the piece, even if the age of the protagonist gets a little lost in the translation. (It seems that Early jumps from being a teenager to the news business, but just how long he languishes in obscurity is a little vague.) If the tale is in the telling, Scott has us mesmerized. Augustine's life, at least as he tells it, is fodder for a feature story if not a feature film.

But what we are to make of Augustine's life is another story. Are we looking into the abyss? Is this a cautionary tale?


The original Saint Augustine, telling of his "early" years, had distance and a conversion through which to frame a portrait of the sowing of his wild oats. It is a dawning Noone's character could possibly be gaining. After a lifetime of screwing everybody in order to get to the front of the line, perhaps Augustine Early is learning that the food at the buffet isn't all it's cracked up to be?


Here is Saint Augustine on his famous sin of stealing pears:

Those pears were truly pleasant to the sight, but it was not for them that my miserable soul lusted, for I had an abundance of better pears. I stole those simply that I might steal, for, having stolen them, I threw them away. My sole gratification in them was my own sin, which I was pleased to enjoy; for, if any one of these pears entered my mouth, the only good flavor it had was my sin in eating it. And now, O Lord my God, I ask what it was in that theft of mine that caused me such delight; for behold it had no beauty of its own --



If the slick Augustine of Noone's play is feeling this at all near the end of the evening, it is very deep down, and the wry smirk which trumpeted his superiority at the beginning, now signals only his acceptance at being played a fool by people better at the game.


Saint Augustine's spiritual influences, (his Mom and Saint Ambrose,) were instrumental in his conversion. But, (as Thomas Garvey points out in the Hubreview,) while Early is briefly affected by the piety of a certain female character, it seems too little too late, both in the play and for Early's chances at redemption. And, as Bill Marx mentions in his Artsfuse review, without the redemptive possibilities, Mr. Augustine Early, charmer though he is, may not be scheming on a large enough stage. He makes comparison's to Richard III. (Personally, I was hoping to see Noone's delightfully sneaky schemer try to capitalize on what has become a standard in the world of the 24 hours news cycle: Rehab.)


With the more obscure title of Psychosis 4:48, the Fort Point Theater Channel's production of British playwright Sarah Kane's most known and produced work, gets people a lot closer to Myshkin's exclamation about Holbein.


Psychosis 4:48 has closed, with only the Weekly Dig penning a review, The Atheist continues through September 30th.


On a small, stark set of white, in a theater that is really just a room that is under construction, Psychosis 4:48, plays out as a battle between a depressed young woman and her therapist. Of course, this is not the only way the play can be presented. Kane's text is basically written like a long poem with no stage directions and has been performed as a solo show, a two-hander and even with 6 different actresses playing the text out.


This production almost reads like a post-modern version of Marsha Norman's 'night Mother, (Edie Falco and Brenda Blethyn in a recent production,) with all of the devastating finality of that play's final gunshot. But Psychosis is, at the same time, more intimate, and more distancing than Norman's straightforward, realistic presentation. (The clock on the set of 'night Mother is functional and reads the real time.)


Alternating between too-clever-by-half wordplay and painfully deep confrontations with the abyss of a world that has been bled of its vitality, the script allows the two actresses, Elizabeth Anne Hayes and Lisa Tucker to veer between Shakespearean flights of Kane's poetry and quiet studies of the brief moments of drama.


"I feel like I am eighty years old," Hayes's character helplessly murmurs at one point. But she also make jokes, ("My doctor told me I had eight minutes to live, but I had just spent a half hour in the waiting room.") When Tucker's therapist asks her if she cut her arm "to feel relief," the patient challenges, "Why don't you ask me WHY I did it?" This is the key question, it would seem to me. And it echoes more profoundly once the therapist finally relents and asks this direct question, only to be met with a excruciating silence. The patient cannot, it appears, articulate an answer, and as an audience member, I didn't want her to articulate it.


In the play's opening moments, Tucker stalks Hayes about the four corners of the stage only to ask the most unhelpful questions, "You have friends, what is it of value that you give to your friends?" The insufficient nature of these inquiries is intensified after seeing the full throes of a deep psychotic episode later in the play. This moment is followed by the evening's most still and most engrossing image: Tucker holds the spent, exhausted and still trembling Hayes and strokes her forehead and her hair.


The despairing situation of the clinically depressed is problematically embraced by the arts. Peter Kramer in his book Against Depression talks of how the idea of "melancholy" has not helped things. At every stop on his first book tour he was inevitably asked what he called the "Van Gogh question."


Would Van Gogh, without his depression, still have been Van Gogh?


Writing in Salon, Laura Miller said that it is a tough question to answer, but, she adds, at least we might have had more paintings.


Kramer starts Against Depression by telling of patients who, after finding the right medication and being "restored," come to him angry that they had considered and had given credence to certain unhappy feelings about areas of their lives that were, in actuality, not going so poorly. They liken it to having been held captive by an insurgent government and forced to confess to things that were not true.


Kane's script is lucid, but is it really a way for us to interpret what it is like to suffer mental illness or depression? No. That doesn't make it bad though. It is an unflinching look at existence itself and the alternatives facing those who find themselves, through a chemical imbalance, on the bleak side of that existence.


In a sequence that details litany of medications and their results and side effects on the "patient," we see the exasperation for those who cannot find the right mix of pharmaceuticals.

What is left?


Noone's Atheist may not be seeking any salvation, but, to paraphrase one reviewer of Holbein's painting, it would seem that only a miracle could save the protagonist of Kane's vision.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mirror Caught Up! Back Posting.

Well, I got the car back this afternoon and should resume regular posting. There are still some things I have to catch up on, but I hope to see a few more shows before I am knee-deep into telling ghost stories up in Salem for the Month of October.

This year I am telling a slight abridgement of the F. Marion Crawford classic The Upper Berth. I was going to write another story this year, but I didn't have the time. My story Northwest Passage went over well last season.

No time for a Friday Roundup, but check out the reviews at Larry Stark's Theatermirror and Thomas Garvey's Hubreview to get caught up.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Boston Theatre - Friday Roundup

The American Repertory Theatre continues its Opera/play-thon with Don Giovanni and Figaro. Reviews are out in the Globe, Phoenix, Theatre Mirror, EdgeBoston, and the Weekly Dig.

The English Channel, Robert Brustein's dramatic presentation of Bardolatry is at Suffolk University. Some reviews are here, here, here.

At the Fort Point Theatre Channel Sarah Kane's Psychosis 4:48 enters its second weekend. The Weekly Dig reviews it here.

PS Films opens Simon Says at the Black Box in the BCA tomorrow night.

Speakeasy's Boston premiere of Zanna Don't kicks off this weekend.

Dario Fo freaks can check out My Fair Heathen's production of Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist at the Studio Theatre at Northeastern University tonight and tomorrow night only.


And Campbell Scott seems to be seducing the crowds, or at least the reviewers, as Boston Playwright Ronan Noone's amoral muckracker Augustine Early in The Atheist. Thomas Garvey talks about the original Early Augustine at Hub Review, Louise Kennedy talks about the differences between readings and productions in her Globe review. And it looks like Jenna Scherer, the Weekly Dig's resident reviewer, is freelancing for the Herald's all but defunct Arts pages. (Perhaps since Scott is something of a film star, they felt they had to cover Noone's play?)

New Rep opens Streetcar Named Desire this weekend, and Lyric Stage is up and running with Man of La Mancha.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Citi Performing Arts Center - Feeling a Draft

On the bus yesterday, (my car is still in the shop,) I read the Geoff Edgers piece about the new cultural facilities fund giving out grants to arts organizations.

60 Arts and cultural organizations will be receiving grants to help upgrade facilities and infrastructure. Here is a link to the press release from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, along with a listing of awards.

Theatre-related groups receiving grants include Riverside Theaterworks, Shakespeare and Company and Double Edge Theatre.

The Citi Performing Arts Center is noticeably absent. Thomas Garvey at hub review has some thoughts here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Theatre Season Well Underway - Mirror Behind Already

Boston's Theatre Season is swinging all ready. Streetcar Named Desire, Psychosis 4:48, The English Channel, Zana Don't, 11:11's Newest Production, Opera's at the ART....etc.

I have seen exactly none! I really have tried, but between moving, teaching classes and working on several big bid projects at work, time is really tight.

And, making things more difficult, we got in a accident with the Mirrormobile last week. (Everybody is fine, but the car is in the shop for a week or so.)

This morning I was taking the 90 Bus to Wellington Station to get a ride with a coworker and the Bus hit a parked pickup truck near Broadway in Somerville. We all had to get out and walk to Sullivan Station.

For Bostonians: Never park near T bus lanes on the streets. I have seen 3 accidents like this in my years of riding the T. Basically, the T driver jogs into the bus lane too quickly and scrapes/smashes the legally parked car.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Site for Sore Eyes?

Over the past few months Boston Theatre has seen a little surge in site-specific productions and found spaces.

Actors Shakespeare Project utilized the Garage space in Harvard Square for their Titus Andronicus. Marsha Norman's Third and Oak: The Laundromat was staged, appropriately, in a Brighton laundry by Brook M. Haney Productions. And, most recentley, Spontaneous Theatre Project produced The Shape of Things at the Bernard Toale Gallery in Boston's South End.

Could this be reflecting a trend, not just here, but in theatre in general? Whereas Boston is finding spaces to fit plays, other cities are taking sites and creating works to fit in them.

In Minneapolis a theatre company stages a meditation on life and death called Cityceased:


Audiences for this play with music will begin at Lakewood's reflecting pool, nestled between the plum-domed, Byzantine-style chapel and the starker mausoleum. From there, they'll walk a mile or so, circling the cemetery's small lake, encountering - among others - bereft widows, reunited lovers and an afterlife humane society where pets have a foster home until their owners join them.

In this week's Stranger Brendan Kiley previews Implied Violence's upcoming show:

The show they're planning for Smoke Farm sounds messy. According to the hand-drawn maps, there's a big, derelict barn with a stage, where most of the audience will watch the Inside Play. It includes lines like this: "I have a headache and a suicidal thought. Hang, hang, hanging in my head head head head. I have heartache, gray hairs, and wrinkles. I'm a young old lady!"Behind the barn is a huge field where the Outside Play will happen—platforms for musicians and performers, a string-and-tin-can telephone, big patches of sod, 40 balloons full of helium and globule lights, microphones and loudspeakers, blood, piñatas, and performers running around, stoking the pandemonium. The catch is this: The audience members inside the barn aren't allowed to turn around and look at all the spectacle going on behind them (save for eight of them, who will be assigned to sit in seats in the field). If people want to watch the action in the field, they have to raise their hands and get carried out there on the backs of cast members.

Although, in the Gaurdian, Michael Billington talks to a skeptical Iain Mackintosh:


Mackintosh only demurs when I suggest that there is a whole new generation who wouldn't set foot inside an existing building but who will rush to a "found" space such as Shunt Vaults under London Bridge or the derelict building in Wapping recently discovered by Punchdrunk for their Faust. Without denying the sensory thrill of
the "found" space, Mackintosh observes that the young people you see packing into the Soho in Dean Street, the Young Vic or the Theatre Royal, Stratford East don't seem to have any built-in edifice complex.



On a larger scale, as far as non-traditional spaces go, there is also De LaGuarda's new theatre piece which is getting prepared in New York:

At considerable expense two of the show’s main set pieces were installed in the theater: a 15-foot-long treadmill platform and a 50-foot long pool, hung from the ceiling, where it can be raised and lowered to just above spectators’ heads. Designers spent a year creating the set, which will take nearly two months to install, said Bradley Thompson, the show’s United States technical supervisor. An assistant on a laptop controlled the treadmill, which moved at more than a quarter-mile a minute.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Leonard Jacobs, Playwrights Horizon, George Hunka and...Johnny Caspar

I'm talkin' about friendship. I'm talkin' about character.
I'm talkin' about--hell, Leo, I ain't embarassed to use the word--I'm talkin' about ethics.

. . . You know I'm a sportin' man. I like to make the
occasional bet. But I ain't THAT sportin'.

When I fix a fight, say--if I pay a three-to-one favorite to throw a goddamn fight--I figure I got a right to expect that fight to go off at three- to-one. But every time I lay a bet with this sonofabitch Bernie Bernbaum, before I know it the odds is even up--or worse, I'm betting the short money. . .

The sheeny knows I like sure things. He's selling the information I fixed the fight. Out-of-town money comes pourin' in. The odds go straight to hell. I don't know who he's sellin' it to, maybe the Los Angeles combine, I don't know. The point is, Bernie ain't satisfied with the honest dollar he can make off the vig. He ain't satisfied with the business I do on his book. He's sellin' tips on how I bet, and that means part of the payoff that should be ridin' on my hip is ridin' on someone else's. So back we go to these questions--friendship, character, ethics.

So its clear what I'm sayin'?

It's a wrong situation. It's gettin' so a businessman can't
expect no return from a fixed fight. Now if you can't trust a fix, what can you trust? For a good return you gotta go bettin' on chance, and then you're back with anarchy. Right back inna jungle. On account of the breakdown of ethics. That's why ethics is important. It's the grease makes us get along, what separates us from the animals, beasts a burden, beasts a prey. Ethics. Whereas Bernie Bernbaum is a horse of a different color ...ethics-wise. As in, he ain't got any. He's stealin' from me plain and simple.


-Johnny Caspar, Miller's Crossing a film by Joel and Ethan Coen

Boston Theatre Coverage - Up Close and Personal

Larry Stark at Theatermirror is running a little experiment. He is checking the Globe every day for the month of September to see just how much theatre is covered and how.

He breaks down how many pages are in the edition, what the sections are, etc. He expected the results to be bad, but...


Okay, that left the section called

LIVING / Arts 8 pages

Which was the one serious reason for my months subscription to The GLOBE, and I fell on it eager to see, on this Saturday before the Labor Day weekend, how Boston's most important newspaper covered the world of live theater.

And I learned that in all the eight pages, the GLOBE never even
mentioned the word "theatre" once.

Not even once.....

There were, though a quarter-page "Music Review" of her Bank of America Pavillion concert given two nights previously by Hilary Duff (with a photo, not from the Boston concert but an earlier New York State appearance), and a feature review of an apparently significant art-house film called "Halloween" which Globe Corresponent (that's GLOBEspeak for "stringer") Tom Russo yawned tepidly at, while Globe Staff writer Mark Shanahan swooned over the seamanship of
someone called Geraldo Rivera, and another Globe Correspondent (Kathleen McKenna) covered LIVING, I assume (not ART, surely!) by focusing on a children's coloring-book of drawings of Red Sox players, in action.

Still, I wish The GLOBE would be honest about the section, and
call it "Living / MOVIES";

(...)

Fliers and brochures have come into my mailbox from Boston's theater "Biggies" (Huntington, A.R.T., Lyric, New Rep, SpeakEasy) and e-mails from many smaller companies --- all announcing seasons. People in the past five years and more have been Coming In To Boston because they think it's a good place to do live theater. There were three or four "fringe festivals" of new plays around the end of the summer. I expect to see
FOURTEEN plays in just the next two weeks.

But of course, since not one of them has sprocket-holes, the GLOBE
doesn't know any of them exist.