Monday, May 4, 2009

A New York Love Song of an Evening

At 4 pm I get an email from Flash Rosenberg. She says, "Wanna go? My treat. 6 pm Cornelia Street. I'm one of the performers tonight." Tonight being the monthly MONOLOGUES & MADNESS (organized and hosted by the talented Tulis McCall) where 17 people each gets 4 minutes before the incredibly friendly audience of fellow readers in the cozy black and red performance space underneath the Cornelia Street Cafe.

I showered in about 4 minutes threw on the safe West Village camouflage of black sneakers, black socks, black tee shirt, and black vest. Did I mention I wore black? We hopped on a downtown 1 train and arrived on time. And there was Flash with two seats saved for us, we refused to let her treat us and paid our 7 dollars admission and got our glasses of wine. What ensued was in turns funny, sad, hilarious, moving, and totally unpredictable stories and storytelling. One piece required audience participation with Kazoos. Perfect.

We met her dear friend and dramaturg Maxine Kern. Maxine was great to talk to between sets. She and Jim between them know a lot of theatre folks. And on top of that, fun coincidence that Maxine teaches dramaturgy in the theatre masters program at Stony Brook. So of course I had to tell her that Deb and Val (who teach in the undergraduate theatre program at SB) had been huge helps to my daughter Natalie and clearly taught her the skills to get into the Actors' Theatre of Louisville intern acting program.

Flash was great. She wrote her piece earlier today! How can she possibly do that? She delivered humor, wisdom, a touch of Chaplin's sadness, Coco Channel's wardrobe on crack, and Dorothy Parker's wit spun into the electronic age. She has that great ability to turn the world upside down and get everyone to look at it that way with her, while laughing.

Flash challenged me, Jim, and Maxine to write monologues and get into the event. So we are on!

And if that wasn't fun enough we ended up sitting into the next set, thanks really to Robin Hirsch (owner of Cornelia) for letting us, with some of his delicious wheat bourbon, and this set was unbelievably terrific. We got to hear the legendary David Amram, with piano, french horn, flutes (two at a time even), play composition & surprises--beat poetry, scat and all that; Kevin Twigg, drums, glockenspiel; John de Witt, bass; Adam Amram, percussion; and John Ventimiglia, an actor reading from Jack Kerouac's Visions of Cody.

A day ago Amram was playing the huge Madison Square Garden. He told us he really loves playing small places. He wore a necklace festooned with metal stars, 5 and 6 pointed, and metal bits that could have come from brass instruments.

I now feel that my poetry readings would only be enhanced by having this top notch jazz group back me up. Our table also had the very funny and talented Carl Kissin, who had read the piece with kazoo.

I did my best to sketch the players by candle-light. Got an autograph from John Ventimiglia. Fun. Wine and spirits on a dinner of humor, heart, jazz and beat, but scant on food, left us tippy and delighted. We took a cab home. Are eating pizza. Am thinking this is why we live here. You know, this crazy city life, when it isn't maddening it is a delight.

When Flash calls, we go.


Joseph Hayes said...

And the nexus draws even closer. You've already seen Amy Denio; now, if I had known you were going to be at Cornelia Street I could have told you to say hi to David for me. I've known the extraordinary Mr. Amram since 1973, and we just spent an afternoon with him a few weeks ago when he was here in Orlando. I've never met anyone so inspirational, so willing to embrace any opportunity to create, so alive. Next November is his 80th birthday and we'll definitely plan to be in NY to celebrate with him, it should be a grand party.

Good lord, I'm beginning to sound like Deborah "Yes, I know him" Atherton!

Claudia Carlson said...

We had no idea we'd be staying for set 2 with Amram. Got to talk to him a bit before the show. Loved him. Glad you know him. That should be a terrific party. Wish I could go. I am feeling very on the scene this week. And it feels good.

Joseph Hayes said...

Oh, you will be at that party! He'll probably have it at Cornelia Street.

david amram said...

dear claudia
just saw your nice comments abiut the nuht at cornelia St and happy you enjoyed it!

also nice that you know Joe Hayes

my 80th is NOV !& @010!!! (Not 2009!!)

2010 is....SOON ENOUGH!!
I send cheers from that never ending road and so happy to read your nice wrte up!

all best cheers

david amram

Peter Selgin said...


Your drawings get better and better. Terrific! Hope all is well.