Happy Birthday, my beloved, wacky country of origin!
I hope all you citizens celebrated safely and joyously. I have always found it bemusing that we ooh and ahh to the sights and sounds of faux battlefield explosions at this time of year. I do not say that as an outsider. I love them bombs bursting in air too. (Maybe because my dad made all those war movies. Here he is, the fresh faced young lad about to save Gary Cooper in GUNG HO.)
And in my little town, the 4th of July Parade is about as Americana as you can get. The floats on truck beds, the kindergarten kazoo bands, the way the chairs start appearing on street corners three weeks in advance for those who will sit and wave and cheer. I love the whole kit and caboodle.
And this 4th wound up being an extra special delight. We were planning a quiet little wine and burger burning on the back patio at sunset, when who should appear, guacamole in hand, to share the afternoon but the amazing Michael Feinstein and Terrence Flannery, who have a glorious home just up the highway on an avocado ranch overlooking the sea, bringing with them a brand new friend, Marc Cherry, creator of such TV delights as DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. It wound up being a marvelous conversation sparkler of a party. That was fire works enough for anyone!
Summer is upon us!
Here in Ojai, moisture is but a dream. It feels as if we are all living in a box of Rice Crispies. That is certainly the color of the landscape. Buckets in all the showers and sinks, and flushing is but a dream, unless company is coming! But my roses WILL SURVIVE! If I have to pee on them daily, they will still get moisture!
It has been a most wonderful and challenging month. I was thrilled to be cast in a production of Jon Robin Baitz monster play, OTHER DESERT CITIES, at my beloved Rubicon Theater. My first non-singing role in about seven years! COULD I remember lines without melodies??? COULD I remember anything as difficult as this play? (Mr. Baitz cut his teeth at the knee of Aaron Sorkin on WEST WING, so you know the dialogue was smart, complicated, and FAST!) AND could I play a hostile, uptight Reagan era Republican dragon mother with a BIG SECRET??? It appears I could. (This play makes KING LEAR feel like LITTLE MARY SUNSHINE!)
Thank God for the most wonderful theater family…Granville Van Dusen, Trey Ellett, Deborah Taylor, and Michelle Duffy! The cast was astoundingly talented and totally dear, and our beloved director, Brian Mc Donald, brilliant! I could not have asked for a more wonderful leap back into the world of drama. A theater family such as this is the reason anyone stays in the business! Laugh together, cry together, act together, drink Scotch from tiny glasses in the dressing room together… Now I am greedy for more!
So now the play is over, my theater family has scattered to the theatrical winds (I miss them terribly), I have burned my Spanx and am enjoying a summer vacation of sorts…learning to Tweet(I can’t believe I am writing the words!) …to You Tube (is that a verb?)
Oh, it is all so sci fi to me.
(I had to find some way to lead into this photo that some nice Star Trek geek from London sent to me. Yes, that’s me as the JAG of the Universe, trying to decide if Data the android is a person or a machine. But what part of his anatomy am I pondering in this picture, I wonder???)
My most exciting news of the moment… I am plotting my next CD. I have been writing several new songs with my beloved Michele Brourman, and some of them are doozies. It is about time they came out of the closet and into the light. So hopefully the end of the year, or the beginning of next, will find some new musical stories for your ears.
Two of my older songs have made delicious returns to the zeitgeist. ERROL FLYNN was just recorded as the lead track on a new CD by the wonderful country singer Donnie Fritz. It is a wonderful, honest, heartfelt, MALE version of the song and warms my heart!
AND THE ROSE is not only making the rounds of the world under the divine tutelage of Ms. Midler in her world tour, but was featured in the opening sequence of TRUE DETECTIVE last week! The whole thing! I gather the creator of TRUE DETECTIVE ( one of my favorite TV series) lives in Ojai. I have to find out where and send him flowers, or a basket of cookies. SOMETHING to say thank you very much!
What else to tell? That I find the whole circus of American politics right now hilarious, debilitating, depressing, confounding. I think England has the right idea. They are allowed to campaign for three weeks only! The rest of the time they are supposed to take care of their constituents. From Bernie Sanders (my personal hero) to Donald Trump…from soup to nuts, as it were, of the American political spectrum. We are SUCH a mixed bag! Will the Confederate flag come down? Will the drachma return? Will I be able to stay awake past 10 PM when we lose Jon Stewart? This summer is fraught with unpredictability!
SO I think I will close the way I opened, with a celebration of this 4th of July. Here is my poem in honor of the CHAIRS OF SUMMER!
THE CHAIRS OF SUMMER
It starts with just one chair
Alone…aloof…astride a busy corner
By a bus stop or under a dusty oak
From Costco or Target, Viet Nam or Taiwan
Worn white plastic or ragged rainbow webbed
A solitary chair appearing suddenly, surprisingly
Like the face of Mary in a taco
A miracle of the mundane
Tomorrow it will multiply magically, mysteriously
By week’s end four hundred plus
Bound together by bungee cords and anticipation
Waiting for the large pink people waving small bright flags
Who will plant themselves like sunburned petunias
Listening for that first squeal of high school clarinet
that rat-a-tat of snare drum
The buzz of fifty kindergarten kazoos
Flinging John Phillip Sousa
To the summer skies.
The fire truck will pass by…
The flatbed filled with princesses
Representing various vegetables
Pious folk on hay bales with banjos
A float or two of bunting and bed sheets
All will wave and cheer and pass on by
Leaving the chairs to sit in silence
As the sun dips behind the crisping hill
The sky explodes above the football field
Then one by four by forty they will disappear
Back to garages , closets , invisibility
Their annual migration complete
Until next July calls them out once more
To unveil their true selves,
Their sacred purpose
To be the chairs of summer.