Sunday, August 29, 2010
As I watched a movie earlier today (the movie matters not, but it was RKO's 1936 Mary of Scotland with Katherine Hepburn and Frederic March - a strange, over-acted, pondering thing directed by the legendary John Ford)... where was I...
Oh, yes... as I watched a movie earlier today, I noticed a candle burning center screen. As the flame flickered, I watched the smoke slowly rise, billow and curl (that's how good the movie was!).
As the actors came and went on screen, it occurred to me that they could repeatedly perform this scene over and over again... nothing unique about their actions; but that candle, that singular element burning unbeknownst to them on the table - that was unique. Its actions were singular. They were one-of-a-kind, never to be repeated. It was the most alive and real thing on that screen.
We are always being told how wonderful we are. How special, how unique. But are we?
As I sit in my apartment, I realize that if I wasn't sitting on this couch in this apartment watching my TV and typing on my MacBook... someone else would be in this apartment. My MacBook would have been sold to someone else and be elsewhere having other things typed on it. My TV (which I won in a sweepstakes from "Men's Health" magazine back in 2004) would be drawing electricity from elsewhere as well, with someone else's eyes peering at it. My burgundy couch from (the now defunct) Wikes Furniture would be in some other room somewhere else, too.
The point is, they would all still 'be' - still would have all been manufactured, shelved and sold. Nothing unique in their existence. Nothing as singular as that flickering candle from 1936.
Or am I wrong? While their existence is not in any sense unique, their existence together in this one place is unique. Is singular. They were all brought together by me. I am the one constant in their life and I am the one variable that, had I been changed out for another, would have resulted in a completely different end result.
The someone else who won the Sharp Aquos from "Men's Health" would most likely NOT be the same person who put the burgundy pull out couch across from it in this North Hollywood apartment. The odds are astronomical.
The only thing that overcame those astronomical odds was me. My existence. My uniqueness.
I therefore must be like that Hollywood candle from over-seven decades ago. While the scenario around me continues unaware of my place in the scene, I am there. Center stage. Burning brightly.
Monday, August 23, 2010
What began as a 4th Grade creative writing project and bookbinding exercise back in 1973 (probably for Mrs. Dooling at Everett A. McDonald Comprehensive Elementary School - they made us memorize that! - in Warminster, Pennsylvania), grew into a trilogy. A fantasy tale with pop-culture references. Of course, leaving those 70s/80s pop-culture references in tact today, make them retro and therefore, once again relevant.
Rediscovered in the mid-80s (sadly ending mid-sentence and mid-climax without a single clue where it was heading), it was fully revised, completed, but again set aside. Dusted off a few years after I arrived in Los Angeles, it went through another complete revision in 1996... before once again neglect took hold and it was left untouched for another 15 years.
While dining with a close friend tonight (and she knows who she is), the idea to self-publish finally took hold. I therefore will endeavor to post it exactly as it was completed in 1996, but you never know... 35 years after it was originally written, it may once again get a tweak or two... or a thousand.
Oh, and The Larry Chronicles will be posted in their own blog location at http://ldweisberg2.blogspot.com/ - but as always, I'll announce each Chapter's addition on my Facebook page or you can subscribe above to 'Follow' the tale as it unfurls.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Lately I’ve found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. And it’s during this time that I find myself living within my head more than I should.
It is after all, not unlike the repository at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s full of memories and closed chapters: Boy Scouts, Navy, familial dysfunction, playing the role of Paralegal at work, Animation Production, married years, single years, straight years, gay years… all chapters that make up the crazy novel of one person’s life.
Recently while in the dusty attic of my mind, I recalled my little suitcase record player. My world was constantly being expanded by the flat grooved bits of vinyl that spun around the little metal stub in the middle. And I begin to realize that hints of what was to come were – in retrospect – quite possibly evident from the very early on. Did the music shape the man I became or was the man that got buried deep inside for decades, simply finding the music that made his true soul dance?
Oh sure, the early experiences were musically provided by my Mother, who listened mostly to Classical. She supplied me with all the Disney tunes I could absorb. But what I craved more was hidden behind a sliding door in old cabinet of hers. With those doors, I found my own way.
Initially it was the album covers that sparked my interest. An old man in a cloud, dangling two people on puppet strings (the London Cast of My Fair Lady) – I listened and heard the voice of Mary Poppins and was hooked!
There was a violinist sitting on top of a house (Fiddler on the Roof) and a sketch of a bandleader who sang about “76 Trombones” (The Music Man). Well, my Mom took notice of this attraction (as I was always borrowing her albums). She then introduced me to Danny Kaye (as Hans Christian Andersen), Nat “King” Cole, Kiss Me, Kate and Streisand. I ate it up.
Soon, I had my own albums (in time, the vinyl collection would swell to about 2000). My Mom also began taking me to see things films like Oliver! and the cast album soon followed. In time, I started performing my favorites.
Oh, how my younger brother and sister loved those shows I’d put on for them… lip-syncing each and every song and performing each album in their entirety. And I did this for them often. Trust me, they’ve not forgotten. Thoughts of Jesus Christ Superstar still give my sister the shivers.
A few years later, my own record store wanderings found me perusing the Soundtrack/Cast Album section, as was my wont, and I came across this black and red and white album cover that stopped me in my tracks. Actually I came across two albums around this time, one was Patti Smith’s Easter with her hairy armpit on the cover. I was so grossed out – that might have shaped something, too!
But the album I’m specifically referring to had: an attractive nerd kissing a pretty girl; what looked like the Bride of Frankenstein; a bald guy with piercing eyes and stringy hair, peering around this guy/girl (?) with red lipstick. On the back, someone was grabbing the pretty girl’s breasts, a muscle guy was in a Speedo… what was all this about? With the promise of “16 Great Songs” and one of them being sung by Meat Loaf (who I recently liked from his “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad”), I gave it shot.
OMG… to quote the lyrics, “…my mind has been expanded.” This was, of course, the soundtrack to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and while it would still be a few years before I encountered that actual movie – another mind-altering, game-changing experience – my perceptions were becoming clearer. Other early favorites were the glam rockers, very androgynous boys that intrigued me. Freddie Mercury oozed sexuality that I found surprisingly attractive.
I vividly remember one People magazine cover (September 6, 1976) with this not-unhandsome woman? Or was it man? The attraction was so strong, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I remember it at the checkout stand and I kept stealing glances at it hoping no one would see me. The caption said David Bowie. I didn’t care, I was attracted to him (I’d already loved his track “Space Oddity”).
So long ago. And while I didn’t actually ‘come out’ until much later on, musically I may have been out at an early age. I’m not saying that every little boy who likes Musicals is gay, for me I think these were glimpses into the real me that was struggling to break free.
I still cherish these Albums (on my iPod now). Hearing these songs still make me smile with more fondness than other songs do. The kid inside is quite pleased.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
"Sit beside the breakfast table.
Think about your troubles.
Pour yourself a cup of tea,
And think about the bubbles.
You can take your teardrops and drop 'em in a teacup.
Take 'em down to the riverside,
And throw 'em over the side
To be swept up by a current
And taken to the ocean
To be eaten by some fishes,
Who were eaten by some fishes
And swallowed by a whale,
Who grew so old,
He died and left his body
To the bottom of the ocean.
Now everybody knows that when a body decomposes
The basic elements are given back to the ocean,
And sea does what it oughta:
Consume the salty water (not too good for drinkin'),
'Cause it tastes just like a teardrop (so you run it through a filter),
And it comes out of the faucet (when it pours into the teapot),
Which is just about to bubble.
Now think about your troubles..."
Friday, August 13, 2010
Yes. Yes, he can.
Meat Loaf. The ubiquitous 70s rocker whose debut album, Bat Out Of Hell is still one of the best selling albums of all time (currently in fifth place worldwide at 43 million), is currently touring in support of his latest album, the Rob Cavallo produced, Hang Cool Teddy Bear. If Rob's name is familiar, think Green Day's American Idiot for starters. We're talking Rock Concert in the finest tradition: light show, video screen, pyrotechnics, large inflatables... this show did not miss a beat.
Meat (or Mr. Loaf if you prefer) opened the show simply by appearing on stage to a standing ovation and then just milked it for a few minutes by walking from one side of the stage to the other, looking out upon the audience that had assembled in the Universal City Gibson Amphitheatre. Once the music began, the opening surprise was "Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show with accompanying film footage on the big LED screen behind the stage.
While new tracks were expected during the course of the evening, they were kept to a minimum and performed with enough video and lights to keep the unfamiliar interesting. And while the new tracks were hard rocking and befitting of Meat Loaf, it was the hits, after all, that the 70% capacity crowd had come to experience.
And experience them we did - "Bat Out Of Hell" (the third number performed) included enough pyro and lights to support the music and a bonus giant inflatable bat that loomed over the stage. "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" opened with an acoustic portion. The duets "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" and "Paradise By The Dashboard" were not only present, but performed perfectly by both Meat Loaf and long-time duetist, Patti Russo. Even the unexpected guitar solo from Lynyrd Skynryd's "Freebird" delighted as a wonderful musical showcase for the guitarists and led into Meat Loaf's own "Rock 'N' Roll Dreams."
Meat's connection with the audience was instantaneous and undeniable. We were standing for track after track. He took no breaks, no intermission, I didn't even see him take a sip of water. He did stop the show once during "You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth" and berated the audience for not singing loud enough, considering that 90% know every word. We then rose to the occasion and the show continued.
So, Meat Loaf 2010... 33 years after he exploded on the scene - worth it? Yes! A great show from a great performer.