31 August, 2013

[MORE] Songs I play over and over again [Another Mixed Tape]

©hula seventy
"Deep Mine" from Pendulum by Morgan O'Kane
I have never stopped in my tracks to listen to a street musician. But with Morgan O'Kane?
I came, I stopped, I bought the CD.
No one one-man-bands it quite like this.

"Run Freedom, Run" from Urinetown
Now. It is very important that I tell you how I do NOT regularly have musical theater on my iPod. I, in fact, only have musicals on there if I need to listen to them for work...Okay that's not entirely true, actually. Every once in a while I slip a Playlist on there entitled "Musical Stuferooooo" but THAT IS NOT THE POINT.

The point is this: LOOK. Whether or not I am rocking out to Mary Martin, or whether I have banned the MTs for the likes of Johnny Cash ONE SONG ALWAYS REMAINS... and that, my friends, is "Run Freedom, Run..."

Hunter Foster sings the main thrust of the song, with epic contributions from the entire cast. And I was a bit sheepish about this when I shared a dressing room "area" (and bonded doing "Downtown Arty Theatre") with Hunter Foster last year, because I didn't know how to tell him how often that tune had got me going in the morning, how many times it had turned a bad day around with this faux-revivalist-spiritual (complete with a capella choir, tambourine epic modulations, and Hunter quite possibly literally singing his face off, all done with its tongue so deep within its cheek it has Ran-Freedom-Ran half-way to the Arctic...)

"Rattlin' Bones" from That's It!, by The Preservation Hall Jazz Band 
I saw The PHJB on Jimmy Fallon, and, in my first ever use of televisual advertising: I WENT STRAIGHT TO THE INTERNET like a BELIEBER-ONE-DIRECTION-FAINTING-ELVIS FANGIRL to purchase tickets to their show. I came apart. So I took my little self out on a date to The McKittrick hotel in my sexy starfish jumpsuit and I lost my brains in The Manderlay Room. "That's It!" is their first ever full EP of original tunes, and they nail it. But the EP cannot capture how Ronell Johnson dances in his tuba, or how red-hot the man-on-keys Rickie Monie tinkles those ivories, nor how sexy the octogenarian Charlie Gabriel is on his clarinet. It is magic beyond description. 

That said, "Rattlin' Bones" is my favorite (and truly grabbed me by the neck live). You know how much I love the darkness, love a bit of Halloween flair, and overall: it feels the most "old world" to me as if you are really transporting back in time to the Bourbon Street of yore. Freddie Lonzo's vocals are spot on, while the muted trumpet solos of Mark Braud utterly soar here. But come on: you really should get the album

"Start Wearing Purple" by Gogol Bordello
...I mean...just... just listen to it.
Then party.
Like it is 1991.
In the Ukraine.

"Twenty Four Hours a Day" by Elena James
The opening track on the self-titled album of Elena James: golden-throated, fiddling virtuoso is the musical equivalent of a B12 shot in the sternum. The lyrics are adorable, her voice is smooth as smoky, but above all her virtuosic fiddling blows the speakers apart. Elena James is a real gem of a talent. She is a must.

"Farther Along" as performed by The Grascals
"Farther Along" is without question my favorite spiritual song. I love it because the main bulk of the lyrics actually manage to ascend religious specificity. They speak to me because they are speaking to everyone, not merely Christians.

The sentiment is simple: with time, we shall have understanding.

"Farther Along we'll know all about it.
Farther Along we'll understand why.
Cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand it all by and by."
The Grascals nail it: you can feel the musicians are connected to its original intent, but they share it with the listeners and give musical space within their interpretation to find your own significance within this beautiful tune. Their musicianship is world class, and though The Peasall sisters are a close second, The Grascals take the prize for the most universal, instrumentally dense, and thoroughly poignant portrayal.

"One More Night" by Maroon 5
I would also like One More Night with you Adam Levine. We can talk about stuff or... you know... not talk...

"The littlest bird sings the prettiest song" from Blue Horse by The Be Good Tanyas.
The Be Good Tanyas first played together at tree planting camps in British Columbia. So... a great start. They are a Canadian traditional music group, with folk, country, and bluegrass influences.

The record Blue Horse (which combines old-time music standards such as "Oh! Susanna", "The Cuckoo" and "The Lakes of Pontchartrain" with self-penned songs like "The Littlest Birds"), was  highly praised for the quality of the vocal harmonies, and the mixture of the new and the traditional in the 8000 instruments they all appear to play with virtuosic, bourbon-soaked, Pacific-Northwestern flair.

Lilly first gave me this album back in the day, and let me just tell you one thing: this album has so many winner songs on it, it is ridiculous. Not one loser song. Not one. Other albums include Chinatown and Hello Love with a lot of winner songs too. But Blue Horse will always be my first Tanya love.

"1985" by Bowling for Soup
No one punk rocks it out with somewhat overly quippy lyrics quite like these boys. But they sure do know how to make me dance, and celebrate feeling über-irresponsible.

"This is Prophetic!" from Nixon in China by John Adams
You would probably be surprised, (or, if you read this blog regularly, not at all surprised) to know that my musical tastes are a touch diverse. But my love of John Adams is at the level of "groupie." I pretty much attend every New York concert of his music, and sometimes travel to see him... like he is THE BOSS. Because to me, he is The Boss. The Boss of contemporary classical music, opera, symphonic genius. I love him and I'm not ashamed. But man: "This is Prophetic..."

Nixon in China is an opera in three acts by John Adams, with a libretto by Alice Goodman. Adams' first opera, it was inspired by U.S. President Richard Nixon's visit to China in 1972.

The work underscores not just the personal and the private in these bigger-than-life figures — (Richard and Pat Nixon, Chou En-lai, Chairman Mao and his wife); but also the rivers of incredible sadness that runs through Alice Goodman's powerful libretto. The sense that life might possibly just be a dream--that big events, however legendary, are entirely beyond our control.

At the top of the Second Act, Pat Nixon is touring the city with translators and guides. Factory workers present her with a small model elephant which, she informs them, is the symbol of the Republican Party (which, of course, her husband leads.) She visits a commune where she is captivated by the children's games that she observes in the school. "I used to be a teacher many years ago", she sings, "and now I'm here to learn from you." She then moves on to the Summer Palace, where, alone on stage, she envisages a peaceful future for the world... (For the record: Dawn Upshaw's recording from her album "The World is So Wide" is my favorite.)

I sent a video from the original Peter Seller's production of the gorgeously contemplative aria to my closest family friend Ken a few years ago, and his response (which I don't think he'd mind me sharing) exceeds what I could ever write myself about the profundity of the piece:
"One of Pat Nixon's first lines, "I treat every day like Christmas..." says it all as she straightens out the sheets on a bed hardly worthy of the First Lady, and lines up the glass and pill bottle on a plain wooden side table....

My first reaction was dismissive....Pat Nixon singing! About "treating every day like Christmas!"

Come on! Mrs. Presidential Sourpuss! And you never saw her lips part, let alone sing an aria. Her emotions were bound tighter than an old whalebone corset.

But that image of her, buttoned up in her red coat, stiff, self conscious, perhaps as paranoid as her husband....straightening the sheet....an ordered existence....Everything in its place....And then you hear one of her first lines, "I treat every day like Christmas" -- and this one line exposed a sentimental side to her, a peek into her feelings that remained publicly hidden behind her stiff exterior. She shows genuine interest in China and the Chinese, even though the scene with the woman in the hospital should betray the cruelty of the Cultural Revolution...but she is quickly taken away "to see the pig"....I felt somewhat sorry for her because I felt she was being deceived, deluded by the Chinese....whose expressions are as stiff as the American's public image of Pat Nixon.

The conflict between the image she presented to the public and these feelings exposed an unresolved conflict. Her public manner was never 'comfortable'. We see a 'comfort' in her behavior with the Chinese, and her comments about "once being a teacher" that seems to reveal a part of Pat Nixon that has long been suppressed for some reason. I'd sure like to know why....

This unresolved conflict is mirrored by the geopolitical tensions of the play's plot. Both hide complex feelings, complex issues. The fact that Nixon DID help change China...four years after his visit Mao and Dun Xiao Ping were dead and Mao's wife was imprisoned....and China began to change....So, you are right, it is beautiful and heartbreaking....Mao killed millions, as did his wife.....And yet Pat Nixon sees hope, while her husband works his balance of power politics with one of the most heinous world leaders in history.

To quote (lifted indelibly by the music, of course),
"This is prophetic! 
I foresee a time will come 
When luxury
Dissolves into the atmosphere
Like a perfume, like a perfume...

And everywhere
The simple virtues root and branch
And leaf and flower. 

And on that bench
There we’ll relax 

     and taste the fruit of all our actions. 
Why regret
Life which is so much like a dream?


27 August, 2013

A Letter Never Sent

Somewhere in
New York
United States of America
Continent of North America
The Earth
The Solar System

A balcony in
Knob Hill
San Francisco, California
June 25, 2013 

So I am officially off my writing game. The words mustve caught the first bus for the bay. Or the hills. Or...somewhere I am not. None of this is helpful for my finalfinalfinal deadline for the books, let alone a handwritten letter to you (which I promised myself I would write at least one of, here on the balcony of this really quite magnificent hotel in Knob Hill). 

To be fair: all my energies are focused on music. 
Specifically: not screwing up the first-and-only symphonic recording of West Side Story EVER. 

I dont quite know how that piece of information escaped me, but it did, and here we are: theres no backing out now. 
It's funny, I am no stranger to the ebb and the flow (I am possibly the doyenne of both The Ebb as well as The Flow) but something about these last few weeks feels very different. I can't put my finger on it exactly but it has everything to do with seismic change, a true turning over of cells. What that means precisely, I don't know. But change is in the air. Nothing to do but breathe in, open my arms and leap. I might be wrong, but I might also be Wright. […See what I did there?]

Also to be fair: it is summer. And I have many a festive intention. In fact, I wrote a little Manifesto on the red-eye. Then? Well then I dug my heels in, John Proctor, I dug my heels in deep. I shall be the very last of the Mohicans holding onto summer--gaze set. 
Here are some highlights: 
- I will make room for small adventures
- I will say yes to camp fires
    and road trips
- I will always say yes to the park
- I will always have Popsicles in the freezer
     ...and watermelon in the fridge 
- I will stop worrying about things I can't control
    because I will turn 30
- I will chase and tickle my nieces
     and sing them to sleep 
     and escort them to the county fair.

- There will be many a photo-booth
- And the eating of raspberries off the tips of my fingers, out of the carton 
    And not sharing the watermelon
- I shall sit on rooftops and balconies and fire escapes
- I shall swim in rivers and lakes and both American oceans.
- I shall bring magic and romance and spontaneity into my own life. 


Well. My my my. Guess who has finally mastered the use of the espresso machine (!!) in my hotel room? Why me. The best part of this development, however, is not the double espresso that I can now enjoy each morning while sitting on the patio overlooking the bay with my score (and 10,000 markings and mental reminders to use less vibrato), or listening to the bells from the church across the road, or trying (and failing) to write. 

No. OH NO. The best part is that while I make said double espresso, I get to recite aloud (for myself and sure, sometimes the housekeeping staff) in my somewhat laughable Italian accent, the molto-lame-o slogan embedded on the side of the machine:
For Music ~ Puccini
For Art ~ Bernini 
For Espresso ~ Pasquini

Yet, isnt that the most ridiculously charming thing you have ever heard? Perhaps in the whole of your life? 
In other news, do you know what goes nicely with espresso? Bernstein. 


I hope you are well. Youve gone awfully quiet these last few weeks, which of course I understand. You should. You deserve a moment (or five) to look inward and make adjustments. I would never have wanted to have been robbed of my silent contemplative treks through Siberia all those years ago. Figuring out who the heck I was going to be next. Not on paper, mind you, but within. As well as without. 

Yet, Gogol said 
Everywhere across whatever sorrows of which our life is woven, some radiant joy will gaily flash past. 
He is right of course. That white-hot, phantasmagoric mind was so very correct. Nickolai Gogol is my kind of genius. 

So, Dear B, wherever you are, I hope you are everything you need to be right at this moment; and that those 'flashes of radiant joy' are not kept from you. 


22 August, 2013


Everyone needs a place like Greek Islands Coney Restaurant.

You know—a local “joint” that’s the just-right balance of casual and quality, so you never have to worry about whether the food is gonna be any good, or, critically, what you have to wear. A place where they know your family, your “usual,” and where “everybooooody knows your name…”

Hand-painted murals grace the walls of Greek Islands. One (in “section five”) is a parody of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel only God and Adam are reaching for a Coney dog. Another (which blazes just above the entrance) is of The Last Supper painted with Greek gods instead of Christian disciples.

I knew every person that bused the tables, waited them, cooked the food, and ran the register. I knew the ins-and-outs of their lives. I knew the neon lights. I knew the menu backwards, and what was better on Tuesdays (go get the Greek Islands Special Salad with the signature dressing, but start with saganaki cheese). When they light the saganaki on fire after smothering it in brandy, the waitress will yell “OPA!” before dousing the flame with a fresh lemon.

Mere words fail to describe not merely the love, but the enormity of time spent in "G.I" (as we all eventually came to call it), from eating there every night we “decided” not to cook, to working there for years as a teenager.

Greek Islands— as described in the full title— is a “Coney” Restaurant owned by a local Cypriot family. Its main (and original) branch is located in Birmingham Michigan, right in the heart of Downtown on Hamilton Road (between Maple and Woodward) in a building that used to be a carpet and tiling store in the mid-90s (Dad helped GI with a few legalities in fact). Their current location is right behind the Palladium 12 multiplex cinema that used to be a department store. Not to be confused with the Birmingham 8 Art Cinema down the street that used to be a live housing theatre—the town has changed a lot over the years. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Like all towns, everywhere.

Well. What better place to eat the day after the funeral?

Sleepless, haggard, and unable to face opening the refrigerator full of goulash and leftover deli-meat, the five of us piled into the Jeep and drove to Greek Islands, eating slowly, silently, unable to quite tell our friends behind the counter, at the register, bussing the tables, why Michael was not with us. Was no longer with us. Why he would, in fact, never be with us again. Never to share the Special Salad, or joke and laugh aloud with John (the owner), or smile at Shauna (the hostess), or ask if he could take an extra strawberry-flavored Dum Dum lollipop after paying the check to give to me.
The place was quiet, for we had come after the dinner rush, and the warmth from the people and the kitchen, along with the bright neon lights that lined the ceiling only served to emphasize the darkness both outside and within.

We sat there prodding at our food in a state of awful quiet.

Then, in a rush of lightning-quick, burning grief, tears burst from within my mother. The force of it was shocking, the kind that makes one choke. Catherine—in the same lavender coat she wore over the lavender dress at the funeral—quickly caught herself, tears leaking from her face. She reigned it in with the left hand which glittered still from her wedding ring in the impossibly cheery neon lights.

We all looked at her, and Kent, placing his hand gently atop her arm silently said We are here Cathy. We were. She nodded, and placed her hand on top of his own—in gratitude. And though we returned to our food, no one was hungry.

Our GI Family glanced over—Eleni the matron waitress consoling her children Paul and Theresa in the distant corner over in section five. Mercury the bus boy, Tikko in the kitchen— they all exchanged looks of disbelief. You could almost see their hearts sinking.

That night, dinner was on the house.

18 August, 2013

I've Been

my new "What About Bob?" shirt

Making my own cold brew coffee.

Having slumber parties!

Singing my face off (with my great teachers and coaches, and recently blessed to sing in some really fancy places...)

Driving spontaneously to the Poconos with (and skinny dipping at 1am in the Delaware...)

Checking out a lot of new places popping up in my Astorian 'hood.

Going to the Astoria Farmer's Market with El Stans!

Taking myself on a lot of "Self Dates" (like treating myself to Preservation Hall Jazz Band at The McKittrick Hotel!)

Revisiting a lot of my favorite old books.

Contemplating getting a cat. (A black cat named Rasputin, specifically...)

     Finishing my trilogy of novels!
     aaaaand putting the finishing touches on my memoir. (PHEW!)
Plus, spending a great deal of time in local haunts pretending I'm Hemingway. (Thank you to Bugatti on 34th/31stAve for the glass of Chianti on the house!)

Watching ALL of Psych. It's.... amazing....
Anna is very strict about "home tasks"

Learning Russian! (Da.) From my incredibly awesome next-door-neighbor Anna.

Speaking of neighbors, throwing a building goodbye party for Apartment #22 (they are moving to Michigan!)

Juicing! (I bought a Nutribullet... WOW...)

with some wonderful old pals, and making a lot of great new ones.

Spontaneously traveling up to the Berkshires to surprise my pal Richard Schiff in his glorious dramatization of Chaim Potok's The Chosen up at Barrington Stage.
     (Then road tripping back to NYC with him, his daughter, and Kate The Intern.)

Having major adventures with "Comrade" Kit Baker (to the fringe at the Mostly Mozart festival at Lincoln Center)

Really indulging the Audbile.com's series The Great Courses.
     Greek Mythology
     Understanding Opera
     Russian Literature

Lower East Side magic.

16 August, 2013

14 August, 2013

The Book of Dmitri

Dmitri Pavlovich Petrovsky had been born with twines of music lodged tight about his heart.  Like a rusted barbed-wire, it clutched at him and the harder he struggled, the deeper the barbs would cut.  The wounds festered, encased in the pus of his dead imagination. 

Coming from a family of folk musicians in a city as bright as Petersburg made no difference whatsoever to a boy so innately fraught by the simultaneous demands and admonitions of a world in which he felt he did not belong. Depression blanketed the boy from the time he could remember, though his family was quick to dismiss it all as “family flair” or “histrionics.” His father, mother, and two older sisters were kind people of fair-complexion, tall, warm artistic types with open faces and straightforward values.

    “Mityushka, zheezn’maya, doosha’maya[1] !” They cried, “Nyezh-naya Mitya[2]!” They did not, they could not, know what to do with him. Nor did he know what to do with himself.

Dmitri’s personage had always been a shroud of mystery—broad shoulders hunched over a lanky body as if to protect the heart that ached within. His face beautiful, but tender and surrounded by a mop of dark, messy curls. Large expressive hands with long fingers worked up into fists plunged deep within his pockets, or else wringing, itching to be used to play his cello. His small but ferociously intelligent eyes held all the world at arms length, shielded further by the spectacles he’d worn since childhood. 

If the truth of a man lies within him, then it stands to reason one might then be able to simply open him up and grasp at that truth the way one carves into a carcass to extract the tenderest cuts of meat.
But there are certain men whose inner truths are far too delicate, and whose constitutions far too strong to penetrate. In such a case, one must simply wait for the truth within to creep out of its own accord, like a creature that may break apart if pressure is put upon it. Perhaps it was so with Dmitri.

How could the shackled heart, and the poetry that mocked within him; how could the stench of fear,  the cacophonous clamor of uncertainty, and the darkened depths of spirit; how could any of it ever be expressed?

It was the cello, in the end, that set him free. That gave him peace. Inside the chords and notes and arches of melody, he found an expanse of space where all of what he longed to be could fit— that unnameable, unknowable self.

He tagged along, of course, to play in the city venues with his family— folk songs soared and crowds cheered as his father lead with accordion, his mother on balalaika and sisters on violins.
He was grateful to his family for the instrument itself (handed down from his grandfather), and for the ability to play it. But his family, however musical, could not hear his music at all.


To look at him before Nerchinsk one would think Dmitri Petrov had no reason for pain. His curls, his higher education, and lovely family—of course one would think he had no agonies. But there are pains and there are pains.

Once in Nerchinsk, no cold, no labor, no punishing treatment, no single thing could mar him more than the love that raged within his breast for her. The love he felt but could not utter, which he knew with every scrap of his being to belong not to him, but to the only man he admired, the man he respected above all others. If only he could say what everyone already knew to be true. Everyone, that is, but her.

He felt that ancient barbed twine unravel itself and come between them, it lodged itself into Shura without her knowledge, and once enmeshed it yanked and ripped at his already riled heart, and made it throb in agony. One moment he would revel in her scent, the next he could weep with guilt.

When together, the three of them were such a happy triangle. But Dmitri recognized he was the  hypotenuse in a shape perfectly right without him—an attachment, not at all unlike a third wheel on a cart— excessive, unnecessary for it to function, but somehow with its presence the entire structure had better balance. Countless times he nearly spoke, nearly moved to kiss her; Tell her! His mind bawled, Take her in the arms you know were designed to enfold her within them! But every time, he thought of what would happen if he did. Crippled by loneliness, fear penetrated his love—the alchemical result was aloofness. Or often, viciousness.

He knew that he could never be alone with her without wanting desperately to touch her. Could not touch her without wanting to posses her, to make her his own. So he barely spoke to her at all. He would waste his life away beholding a painting upon the wall of a locked house he would never be allowed to enter…

    “…Mityushka! Zheezn’maya, doosha’maya…Nyezh-naya little Mitya!

There was nothing to be done.
Nothing he could do but honor them.
And play of course.
He could play his cello.
Every strand of aching music, every forlorn concerto, for her.

[1] Жизнь моя, Душа моя, “my life, my soul!
[2] Нежная, tender Mitya

10 August, 2013

"High High High" on Betty Buckley.

Ms. B's response.
So... last night, Andy Einhorn (my first ever collaborator on "London Still" The Concert, not to mention the rising star personal MD of Audra MacDonald, and of Cinderella on Broadway) and I had a SLUMBER PARTY of sorts. 

We met at the stage door post-show, bought some snacks and head up town and got REAL about life, love, the great Betty Buckley, Patriotism, and musical theatre, all very LATE into the night. 

Love Betty Buckley on Twitter and buy the 1776 Original Cast Recording.

It is never too late to stay up too late...

08 August, 2013

A Trip to the Theatre [a memoir]

We had decided to see a touring production of Tartuffe in Ann Arbor a few days after Thanksgiving.

I’d seen him at the intermission lurking in the corners of the auditorium, but didn’t approach because he’d been so integral the High School Theatre Department malarkey which still, despite all that had transpired, felt so raw and recent.

John Breen was wildly talented, popular and charismatic (certain to become a professional actor in the future), but he was also withdrawn and brooding and (what I felt was) dismissive of my underclassmen status. Not to mention, he was a classmate of A, S and K (and A’s boyfriend for a period of time), and all of this, I suppose, made him an adversary-by-association in High School terms. I dunno. I just tried to stay out of everyone's way.

But in hindsight, I realize he was most likely shy.

After the show I approached from across the theatre. (In case you were wondering, the journey through the cushioned folding chairs is also known as The High Road) The trip was arduous.

    “Hi John,” I said, nodding awkwardly.
    “Oh, hey Alex” he replied with his signature nonchalance.

I tried not to wince at the jarring use of 'Alex,' (deeply, deeply not my name) and distract myself by observing that he was also finding our prior connection confusing—do I or do I not like her? Am I under the same obligations in college as I was in High School? Ah! This mind-of-my-own is killing me.

    “What are you doing here?”
    “I just saw the show.”
    “Right…” he looked about him and thought, “...but you don’t go to school here do you?”
    “Right. But you’re a Freshman right now, right?”

I suppose it was technically true, and even if it wasn’t, it was the easiest response.

    “So are you home early for Thanksgiving or something?”

This was by far and away, the most concern John Breen had ever shown me, and that concern, far more than the probing nature of the questions themselves, was starting to feel a little uneasy.

    “Um—” I hesitated, “well, not exactly.”
    “Oh.” It started to dawn on John Breen that something was fishy, “God Alex, I’m sorry” he immediately retreated, “I didn’t mean to pr—”
    “—My Dad died.”

There was a horrible pause.
John Breen stared at me.

    “A few weeks ago. He’s dead. He died.” I was repeating it because John wasn’t moving. I was beginning to become concerned for his life.


The Playing Frisbee with the Popular Kids story goes like this:

[AL— a Freshman in a large, typical, public American High School holding her own because of her ability to excel in the performing arts but a Freshman and young woman nonetheless. It is the spring of 1998 in a typical Midwestern “Wonder Years-y” suburb. The phone rings. AL answers it.]

Freshman Al: Hello, Silber residence.
Popular Senior: [awkwardly] Hey Al, this is Popular Senior calling.
Freshman Al: Oh. Um, hi Popular Senior [WTF?!], what’s going… on?
Popular Senior: Well…
Popular Junior: [calling from the background] Ask him! He said! He said to call! He said he’d play!
Popular Senior: Eh, sorry that was *Popular Junior Guy.*
Freshman Al: I see.
Popular Senior: Well, we were calling because we were just hanging in the park and wondered if...
[AL thinks momentarily “Ohmigod the popular guys want to hang with me…”]
…If your Dad wanted to play Frisbee with us?


Popular Junior: [yelling from the background] Is he gonna come?!
Freshman Al: Let me… um… get him… one second…
Popular Senior: Well, we’re actually… like down the street can we just come over?
Freshman Al: Eh, sure. I’ll get my Dad.

[Hangs up. Calls upstairs]


Dad: Yeah?
Al: The Popular Boys wanted to know if you want to… play FRISBEE with them…? [disbelief] Did you say you’d hang out with them?
Dad: …well… um, yeah. [AL displays further disbelief] Can I go? I promise not to say anything embarrassing. I’ll be really cool I promise!
Dad: But Al I really want to play Frisbee! Pleeeease?
Al: Oh God FINE.

[Doorbell rings. AL answers door…]

Al: Hey.
Popular Boys: Hey.
…Um, is your Dad home…?
Al: [life-over] Yeah.
Popular Boys: …Cool…
Al: …okay…I’ll go get him…

[AL turns around and sees her Dad right beside the door looking really, really cute and anxious to go and play with the boys. Like a kid.]

Al: Oh go ahead Dad heavens sake!
Dad: Thanks Al! See ya!
Popular Boys: Later Al.

…[AL alone, “My Dad is more popular in high school than I am…Awesome” on her face.]

That was pretty typical.
A group of über-cool teenagers thinking my Dad was the absolute best. Of course the über cool teenagers could get in line, because everyone thought Mike Silber was the absolute best.


Back in the auditorium, John Breen was still before me, completely still.

    “Oh my God Alex, I am…” he looked at the floor, his hands in fists within his winter coat pockets, “I am really so, so sorry to hear that.”
    “It’s okay...” I replied without thinking.

I wanted it to be okay. For him. Despite the fact that we had never really been friends, that he had never really given me the time of day aside from the lines we exchanged on stage, and despite the fact that he had never exactly stood up for me. Despite it all I wanted him to come out of this conversation unscathed, for I could actually hear his heart crumbling from an arm’s length away.

     “I mean, of course it is not okay,” I reconsidered, “but… well, anyway thank you.” I could feel the acid in my throat.
    “I uh…” he hesitated, “I really liked your Dad...” John said, eyes still locked on the bizarrely bright carpet on the floor of the theatre, “… a lot...” said John Breen of the popular Frisbee boys.

Whoever would have thought he would be so devastated to hear that Mike Silber was no more?

    “Take care, John.”

And I left him there; alone and aching in the emptying theatre.


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