Friday, November 27, 2009

Vendus Interruptus

Coming back into the city on the bus from Washington, DC earlier today (we were only stuck in traffic once we got into the city; 20 minutes to go 5 blocks) I saw a street vendor cover his wares with plastic, carefully unfurl a prayer rug, remove his shoes, and then pray toward the East. It was strange, and beautiful, to watch from the silence of the bus, imagining him focusing on the sacred amidst the cacophony of the profane (Black Friday crowds and traffic jamming the streets near Macy's).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Diary of a Bad Year

I'm currently reading JM Coetzee's Diary of a Bad Year, and remembering that Coetzee is really quite a stunning writer. This clever little tale of deceit has three simultaneous threads that can be followed individually, but that create a crackling experience together. He is absolutely at his cagey finest in this book, creating (or perceiving?) a doppelganger that cannot be pinned down. Many will react strongly to the "Strong Opinions" section of the book, and I suspect that this will turn many off, but patience is a virtue in this case, and those that stay for the duration will be rewarded. I like a good curmudgeonly jab at one's critics!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Debut

I am currently in rehearsals for my first official, soon-to-be advertised New York City Off-Off-Broadway debut in a show by the production company of which I am a member, The Collective. The production offers three weeks of different programming that should interest just about anyone.

The first week, of which I am a part, is a series of six monologues written by Clay McLeod Chapman featuring six Collective members. Chapman is the creator and performer of the long-running and much-celebrated The Pumpkin Pie Show.

The second week features two pieces by Edward Allan Baker (North of Providence) with four Collective Members showing off their chops in two difficult, richly textured one-acts.

The third week will prove to be intriguing, as The Collective debuts a bold new adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s scandalous fin-de-si├Ęcle play Reigen (better known as La Ronde). The production will feature ten Collective members and is sure to create some buzz.

Details to come soon.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Agog

I don't think my previous post was intemperate. Apparently management here would disagree were they to read it, since everything is status quo at work. And "Ron" seems to have gotten over whatever initial reaction he initially had to his humiliation. Water off a duck's back, I guess. Sometimes I think I exist in the twilight zone and have completely bizarro reactions to things that everyone around me seems to think are just fine.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Annals of Douchebaggery

There are times in life when one human being does something to another human being that is so hurtful one has to wonder what in the perpetrator’s past or make up might cause such perfidy.

It’s no secret that I couldn’t care less for my job. That said, I have, at the very least, straightforward respect for each of my colleagues and my supervisor, and at the best, I care for each of them as I would my friends and family. There is a manager in a different department, however, whose work ethic and actions should have left him terminated long ago. I can put up with the fact that not every incompetent jerk gets canned when they should, workplace politics being what they are. What I cannot abide is the willful humiliation of a subordinate employee IN THE WORKPLACE.

This so-called manager played the following self-described “prank” on his own employee. The employee, we’ll call him Ron, is an aspiring model and has all the requisite attitude and narcissism that go along with such aspirations. Do I like the guy? Not particularly, but that doesn’t mean I want to see him publicly humiliated; he does his job and we all muddle through. The boss, let’s call him Asshole, decides that he’d like to play a prank on Ron. Asshole puts together a fake portfolio and letter proclaiming to be from Ford Models (a prestigious modeling agency here in New York) and sends it to Ron via FedEx. The letter says that they’d seen some of his modeling work on the internet and that they’re interested in speaking with him about modeling opportunities and could he call at his earliest convenience (Asshole listed the phone number of one of his friends). Ron calls this number and speaks with the “Ford Models Representative” (friend of Asshole) and proceeds to get very excited about the possibilities of his becoming a legit model and starts telling some of his co-workers, friends, and family about it. Ron comes into work on April 1 and Asshole reveals that this was all an elaborate prank, a ruse, a real dick move. Ron breaks down crying, is beside himself, humiliated. He goes home early after speaking with the HR director (yet another friend of Asshole) and the GM. Asshole remains here to cover his shift, and apparently thinks this will all blow over by tomorrow. He proceeds to joke with his other staff member that he should have his own reality show, he's so good at pranks.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT? You ask. How is this gigantic douchebag of a human being still employed at this godforsaken black-hole of a workplace? I am asking the same questions.

And I have no answer for you, except that bad behavior seems to be rewarded around here. Someone who has such obvious contempt for his underlings that he would trample on their dreams and aspirations in public (and if you knew the context, you would know just how very public it was) has no purpose leading anything, managing anything, let alone getting paid to do so. These are tough times in this city, but I may not be able to continue to come to work here unless they get rid of this sack of shit.

I know how “stupid” it is to post about your job. They can fire me if they want. I’d be proud to sit in that HR director’s office and tell her that, if she had even the slightest inkling of what this manager (her friend, remember) was doing, she is every bit as depraved and worthless as he is, and potentially worse since it is her job to protect her employees. Och. Disgusting.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

On Broadway

I acted on a Broadway stage this week. Okay, a little background. My friend, Sam, was the Associate Sound Designer for a new play produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company (Broadway’s only non-profit producer) call Distracted, starring Cynthia Nixon. Sam is an amazing people person, and he had a little conversation with the General Manager of the Laura Pels Theatre (where Distracted opened last night; here is the NYT review). The result of that conversation was that The Collective was given the opportunity to have our meeting in the Laura Pels. My friend Victoria and I have been working on a scene, which Sam has been directing, from Polish Joke, a play by David Ives that we have loved since we saw it in 2002. We did that scene at our meeting on Monday. On the Broadway set of Distracted. And then Sam gave me his tickets to opening night and I went and watched Cynthia Nixon play on that same stage for two-and-a-half hours last night. It’s been a good week.

Monday, January 19, 2009

For All the Snow-Deprived


Prospect Park
Originally uploaded by patbonck
For those of you whose winter has already ended or for whom winter means balmy in the mid-60s, here is a dose of winter snow. On a run through Prospect Park in Brooklyn earlier today, I snapped this set of photos. I almost stopped to sled down hills with some kids, but decided to run on since I was a few miles from home and wearing cotton clothing, which would have made for a long, cold run home.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Poem: The Smile

Across the many stretches of patched cement
On winding roads to reach your shared door
I travel lightly, leaving what’s passed behind me

You crack the door, but not to welcome me
And it’s okay, because the sun is warm today
Not icy cold and blinding, like where I came from

You peer through the sliver of openness
One round green eye flecked with flint
Shines in the sunlight, taking me in

But not letting me in, no, just looking
Weighing the costs of an encounter
Thinking how easy a debt was a pound of flesh

That is what I am thinking, not your thoughts
And all at once I see the whys and wherefores
I assumed I knew you, but I barely knew myself

Turning to go, ashamed at the recognition
I stop
And ask to see your face in full

You oblige, the reason I know not
Sun strikes you with radiant force
The smooth contours of your mask melt

Revealing what I could not have imagined
And I wonder if your view is any different
I smile without smiling, and so do you

Friday, January 16, 2009

Planting a Seed

More and more often I have found myself daydreaming about having and working a garden. Throughout my entire childhood, we had a huge vegetable garden in our backyard where my dad would spend hour upon hour roto-tilling, planting, weeding, and harvesting. My four siblings and I were convenient labor, and even if we were not held to the kind of disciplined schedule that a farm kid might be, we certainly did our part, though not without some grumbling. The grumblings were instantly forgotten when snapping into a freshly dug carrot, slicing a ripe tomato, picking and eating a juicy strawberry, or steaming just-picked green beans. It was something we took for granted, and that I now miss immensely. My grandparents had a garden, and my great-grandparents, and after losing my grandmother last year, and with my dad having moved to a Stepford-esque neighborhood on a golf course, the desire to continue that tradition has been a constant. Over Christmas, I was eyeing the fallow garden in my grandmother’s backyard. We haven’t sold her house, and most of us really do not want to. In all that time of working in the yard, I always thought I’d never want to do this as an adult. And yet here I am seriously contemplating it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Unbearable Rightness of Playlists

Sometimes a playlist drops in a song that I'd forgotten was there, but that ends up stopping me in my tracks just when I thought it couldn't anymore, when I thought that I'd developed an immunity, a new and tougher skin. But the illusion of safety dissolves, along with the distractions in the room, and collapse in all its forms takes over. And maybe I'll hit repeat once or twice, indulge the melancholy for awhile. But then new music takes its place, and maybe this one has me humming along or singing (awfully) and smiling.

A great Canadian solo artist, Hayden, caught me off guard tonight.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

News...paper?

My beloved Pacific Northwest has taken its hits this dreary winter: record snow, record floods, and the imminent death of perhaps Seattle's best newspaper. A trifecta of mood-killers that would drive, and if you take this Slog post at its word, has driven, the natives to drink heavily (as though that weren't always the case for a region that gets the least winter sunlight in the lower forty eight).

The Seattle P-I was always the best paper in town, especially editorially, with thoughtful and forward-thinking editorials on pretty much anything and everything Seattle and Puget Sound. And it is (was) home to David Horsey, one of the finest editorial cartoonists of (t)his time.

In destruction, however, there is always new creation, and something new will come out of this tragedy--hopefully something that embraces the utilities and speed of the web. Perhaps something like Knute Berger's Crosscut venture, part news-outlet, part blog (but, please, BETTER). The journalists who work at the P-I are some of the finest in Seattle, and if they love Seattle as much as they do journalism, some of them might just decide to stick around and try new things. It's risky, of course, but I hope some of them have the wherewithal to make a go of it.

For now, we wait to see if the P-I can come out of the coma, or whether the plug will be pulled in 60 days.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Work

In an odd twist of...something, I'm back working at the hotel. Yes, the very same hotel from which I was laid almost exactly two months ago to the day. And I also had a pretty great interview at Theatre Communications Group for a Development position today. I really enjoyed the Development Director and think I would really like working with him. And TCG is a great organization (for all you readers of American Theatre or the numerous pulitzer prize winning plays they've published). So after two months of jobless flailing about, I may actually end up having choices. Weird.