Sunday, May 21, 2017

May 21, 2017

Nothing better than to wake to the sound of rain. Nothing harder than to stay awake through a whole day with the soporific murmur of it all around.

Spent most of Saturday at the Studio Stroll. For every ten people who came into the Phil Mechanic, one climbed the stairs. For every ten who climbed the stairs, one came into my studio. But I did sell The Last of the Giants, which the buyers referred to as “the one with the hikers.” Good enough, I thought, hikers let it be. I painted like mad in the solitude.

Thin house last night, though more tickets sold for today’s matinee. It is simply a misfire, which we must carry out now like a sigh to the guttering end. Not all of us have to drive  90 minutes to do so. Even the boy culture was off last night, subdued and wistful. I think everyone was hungover.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

May 20, 2017

Bird-cally morning.

Gave Y Spanish Arch, for his birthday, and because he was part of the blessing that freed me from the demon.

Opened Gatsby to a small house and a delicious buffet. We face four weeks of a presenting a–let’s face it– mediocre play to diminishing audiences. Glad that the backstage atmosphere is happy and brotherly. Yet I trust that nothing hits the stage without someone finding delight in it, somewhere.

Hit something in the road driving home. I didn’t see it, but I sure did hear it. Some damage to the right front of the car.  The commute between here and Waynesville becomes more and more costly.

Studio stroll today. I will buy Gatorade and figure out some prices.

Friday, May 19, 2017


May 19, 2017

Workout, writing, then more time in the studio than anticipated. Studio stroll tomorrow, and one wants to be at SOME level of preparedness. Bought a broom and GoJo.

Watched the monitors last night, listened to the show. It was boring. Maybe just final dress doldrums, maybe I was sick of hearing it, but nothing sparked, nothing surprised, though everyone’s professionalism is unimpeachable. Tonight, perhaps, we catch fire. The conversation in the dressing room was about how handsome we all are, and how we could profitably be each other’s wing men. It was actually very sweet.

Woke this morning with some joyful revelation, brought it out of the dream into the waking world for a while. I had managed to create a space where, entering it, a person could make his meaning absolutely clear, be understood utterly, love someone in a way that could not be blunted or soured or misinterpreted. I pulled the beloved to me and said “You are the one I dreamed of” and all was understood as it was meant. If only I could make it last. I made it last for an hour, at least, and that is a triumph worth writing about.

Reading The New Yorker again after several years’ hiatus, when I was supposed to be reading it on Kindle, but wasn’t. Remember the juiciness of the articles. Remember the vacuity of the fiction, as if it were a magazine for invalids and anything above the extremist quiet might cause harm. Remember the outright and downright awfulness of the poetry, the championing not merely of the worst poetry available, but the worst poetry imaginable, feelers evidently sent out into the world to find the worst beyond all worst. The message: we are so exquisite we make our meals on dust and twigs.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


May 18, 2017

Sensational Wednesday at the studio, breakthroughs and new visions.

Sensational Thursday at the studio, breakthroughs and new visions, plus the discovery of somebody’s abandoned stamp collection, affording amazing possibilities for collaging. I do not think I employ collage, until I realize that I do.  I have not had this much fun painting since I began, all those years ago, now.

The water iris came to bloom overnight. They are now my favorite flower.  Sat by the pond and drank a cocktail and watched the minnows bump against the surface.

My face aches from smiling at the boys in the dressing room. Their culture is very specific and, to me, unexpected. They love the same comic movies, the same music, the same superhero movies, and weave quotations from them and speculations about them into a tissue of alternate reality every night. I realize this is the exact equivalent of listening to the chatter of your grandsons, and I feel accidentally blessed. Male banter must be baffling to women. Tonight is “friends and family.” I’ll be mightily sick of the show and the drive to it by the time we get a break on Sunday.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


May 17, 2017

Immense wall of pink cloud at dawn in the north, visible through my tiny study window. My hollies are a din of calling birdlife. The unhacked bamboo shoots– those on the apartment house side of the fence–are fifteen feet tall, still formidable leafless spears. Planted over the last few days, columbine and lady’s mantel and spurge and hydrangea and a Carolina spice bush the clerk said would draw wood thrush.  The towhee has grown companionable, and will feed a few feet away from me as I work.

Finished “Seaside Town.” Began work on a new play–all while sitting for an hour at the High Five.

Tech week for The Great Gatsby. There’s nothing like the proximity of a small dressing room and five or six guys to give one perspective on human diversity. One of us has Marine-like efficiency (he has to, having the most costume and scene changes). One of our number has trouble dressing himself, figuring out how to button cuffs or fasten fasteners. Even putting on a shirt seems to daunt him. Everyone instinctively steps in to help him over the gaps. He has, in compensation for this, the most beautiful back I have ever seen, from the hairline to the top of the pants, Apollonian. I consider that he himself has probably never seen this asset. I am by thirty five years the oldest person in the cast, and the conversation in the dressing room can be informative. Last night the boys were challenging each other to trivia. I’m pretty good at trivia, so I thought I might shine, but they meant (and understood without having to say) the specific subset of Star Wars trivia, and left me instantly in the dust. They know the name of the captain of the star ship that glided across the screen one time. They know the home planet of. . . everybody. If attention ever turns to history or science, I hope to mop the floor with them. I’m having a good time. The drive is grueling, but if it’s the most grueling thing this summer, I am blessed.

Reserved our digs in Galway. I know it from my time on the Sea Road, thinking I might dwell there. Excited about the return to Ireland. Excited in general, though it’s hard to know by what.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


 May 14, 2017

In the actual performance, our piece turned out to be clever and engaging, its quirks becoming delights. The program was unbalanced– way too many lengthy Mexican pieces the texts to which were beautiful (the settings trivialized them) but which, musically, all sounded about the same.  The program, in fact, was overwhelmed (in the virtuous way) by Jon’s piece and Brahms’ “Wie lieblich. . .”  My sister rode down and witnessed the premiere, and said she liked it. In the car ride home (shortened by a hour by the opening of the I-85 bridge) I thought about the Atlanta Young Singers, and decided that in this time it, and things like it, are worth double their weight in gold. The kids were striving and achieving. They were becoming citizens and scholars and team players as they sang. Watching their faces would, in Whitman’s phrase, stagger sextillions of infidels, who believe that training in the arts is a luxury, or even an imposition. I think especially of Stephen, the bass in the male quartet, a high school senior, who acted out the words as he sang them in a transport of delight and empathy. People ask what we should fight for. I say this.

I fear and hate–almost above all other woes associated with traveling–not knowing how I’m going to get home. Someone saying “we’ll figure it out when we get there” makes me berserk. This is what nearly ruined the experience of Budapest for me. So I’d fixed my phone so I could call either Uber or Lyft to whisk me back to the hotel, but when the concert ended, both failed me, and in my repeated frenzied tries the phone got locked up somehow. This is exactly like saying “Well, I’m OK, barring a tsunami,” and watching a tsunami suddenly crowd the horizon. I had made the walk before, but I couldn’t again the next night, and so I stood on the sidewalk on Ponce de Leon in Atlanta and, literally, repeatedly, howled. I kept the card of the Ethiopian driver who picked me up at the Aquarium. I walked to a Mexican restaurant and they– with the customers piling up in line–phoned him for me. As I waited, the phone came back on, and the Uber screen said “looking for your ride.” I hit “Cancel.” My driver was home for the evening, but he came for me, having remembered saying that he would. I gave him a gigantic tip. As we rode the actually quite short way I thought maybe God intended this, that the Ethiopian guy really needs money right now, and I was the way to get it to him. Or I was meant to learn to swallow my pride and ask waitresses to make call for me. .  or. . . something. Or maybe God is a sovereign brat who changes the rules in order to hurt a person. Being human is not being able to find a way to bring those possibilities into balance. Sat on the hotel terrace and watched lovely people in formalwear come maybe from a Prom, maybe from the Fox. Saw the Watermans, a couple I’d met in a Peachtree bar, who were in Atlanta for a childless weekend, pass by in white, looking beautiful, looking ethereal, looking very happy. They have everything I do not. I have everything they likely never thought to desire. I wished for everyone I know that they might be the Watermans.

Saw a white winged hawk high above me as I walked.

Went to the Atlanta Young Singers on You Tube, and there were Stephen and Michelle singing their hearts out two years ago in “Hey Jude.: Felt like a little part of their lives. What a father I might have been. . . .

May 13, 2017

The Georgia Aquarium had early opening today, so I took advantage of it. I walked from the hotel. It was farther than the web page suggested, but last night’s trek got me in the footing it mood. Under the bridges of 85 is the bedroom of the homeless. They were stirring as I passed, rising up out of clusters of old cloth, either gathering or scattering the meager accouterments of the night before. One was putting on a blue dress shirt and a necktie. Maybe he had a job, or an interview. He looked around, as I would have done, for something to serve as a mirror.

Under the fish-tunnel of the Aquarium, I watched a man propose to a woman, kneeling and handing her a ring as the sharks passed over. They stopped here and there while a friend took artful shots of them against a backdrop of sea creatures. A man asked his daughter–maybe 3 years old– what color the beluga was. She said “aquamarine,” which was absolutely right, though everyone over the age of 3 would have said “white,” which is what the answer is supposed to be. The cabdriver on the way home remarked on how far I had walked to get to the Aquarium.  “You have your exercise for the whole weekend,” he said. I agreed, His amazement may explain something else I’ve noted: Atlanta is run by seriously obese black women.

What did I like most at the Aquarium? They jellies, I guess, blundering into each other like chandeliers set loose in the wind.