Monday, May 4, 2009
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.