Friday, April 27, 2007

Soles'n'Bowls

Four years ago, you're working on a house in a little island community, part of Marion.
You turn off the main road (where today everyone is thrilled/appalled to anticipate a Dunkin' Donuts) and drive past the golf course and the famous teevee star's family place, cross a wide landbridge with a salt pond on one side and a beach on the other, a beautiful view of Buzzards' Bay where you eat your bag lunch and pretend you own one of the early-ins imposing their day off on the waters off Converse Point. It's peaceful, idyllic, and you know that if you lived there, you'd probably bring your kids for a picnic every day on that beach, or at least a gin-and-tonic.
Then you go back to banging nails and sheetrocking and painting a place owned by a guy who doesn't really like the water much.
"They sunk one, right out there," says a co-worker, coming back late from lunch because he was chatting up the girl at the sandwich shop. "Oil tanker."
"Sunk?"
"I dunno. Hit something. Big leak."
And then the collective: "Damn."
Admission: I don't remember exactly when we found out about the spill. I know that the mate of Evening Tide ignored the barge it was towing, allowing it to strike the rocks near the first Buzzards Bay green at around 3:15 the afternoon of April 27. The story made the news that night, I think, but local news is very connected to the sea, the source of much audience interest and ad revenue.
According to this unfortunately cool NOAA video, the slick languished around for about a week before attaching itself to just about every rock and bird in the Bay.
Every day after that, though, I would pass the cleanup crews, on the beach in their hazmat suits and their waders and the big grey box that held whatever it was they were cleaning up. I still had lunch there, only now I chatted with the cleanup workers who were lunching there in the small lot. They smelled like an engine room I once knew, all salt water and vague diesel. They spent all day scrubbing rocks, mostly, and explaining to the curious, in sometimes dramatic terms, what our mishandling of our oil addiction can cost, even on a pleasant neighborhood beach 20 nautical miles from the original accident. I envied them their purposeful -- if tedious -- lifestyle, because I was installing, removing, repositioning, and reinstalling windows and toilet fixtures for a tedious tyrant homeowner. The "hazmat heroes" were working against the tide to make every inch of that beach hospitable for birds, shellfish, and families.
Under the Homeland Patriot Security Act or whatever it was that turned the Coast Guard into a regulatory arm of the Executive Branch, Coasties have become particularly unmet around here. They're blamed for cozying up to fuel transporters by ignoring drug and alcohol testing protocols. They're blamed for maybe letting a big fuel company bring liquefied natural gas 26 miles up Narragansett Bay to a possible plant in Fall River. They're ridiculed for citing scallopers for having too-small nets, after the nets shrink at sea. Legislators point at the USCG and say they have to be tougher on rules improvement and execution. And there's friend Mark Montigny, frankly stating, as even I often do, that we're in trouble because the Coast Guard is "in bed with the oil and transportation industry."
Although if I needed help while at sea, I would be in trouble if I didn't welcome the Coast Guard. Or even on land.
And after all, in a few years they won't be taking orders from the same guy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Three Seasons of The Beach: Winter, Pollen, and Road Construction

Sometime last Friday, April 20 2007, the nearby trees burst forth in a splendid release of the kind of at-will sexuality that only rampantly pollinating vegetation can enjoy. (What with the lack of human moral compulsion and all.) And my sinuses have been complaining about it ever since.

Which is not to say that anyone should be denied the free execution and expression of their sexuality. After all, pollination is better than chaps, heels, and a rainbow Afro wig. But... POLLEN? It's nearly as vexingly invasive as show tunes.
I try to avoid "allergy medicines" because they're, well, anti-histamines. And I'm trying not to be "anti-" anything these days because I figure the more positive I am, the sooner the negativity around me will implode into itself, taking the bad drivers and voters with it. When I was abroad aboard, the odds that a stray speck of pollen would waft its way into my mucous membranes to cause sneezing and such, were rare. Another unsavory aspect of life on The Beach...
But back to pollinating.
The Beloved and I share our living room with a night-blooming cereus. In its natural habitat, the desert, the cereus ("Madonna" or "Queen of the Night" or "Moon Beauty" or "Moon Bloom") cactus blooms at night, pollinated by the clever little vectors employed in that endeavour, bats. Last Friday night we experienced the first bloom of the season (see purty above). Early this year, but, why not get a jump on things? This gangly succulent will continue to grow unconstrainedly through our sunny living room, blooming all the while, every few weeks or so, right through (if last year is any indication) Christmas.
When the cereus blooms, I become light-headed and sniffly. Not out of emotion, but because I am allergic. Or "acutely immuno-responsive." And, the aroma is anything but subtle. It is heavy, like some European liqueur. Sweet, sickly sweet, treacly sweet. Some plants' blooms have a remarkable freshness. Daffodils, for instance, smell lightly of honey and fresh lawn. Cereus, not so much. Imagine your favorite candy shop. Now imagine its floor. Forever. You get the point.
Cereus handlers often talk about how easy it is to ignore how ungainly and unattractive the plant is, when the plant blooms. And I guess I'm just like any other cereuswain. Plus, the single bloom is only there for one night. And then the sniffling goes away.
Unlike with those randy oaks and beeches.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Soles'n'Bowls

  • Donna Lange and Inspired Insanity were scheduled to dock at Herreshoff in Bristol RI this weekend. Now she'll be celebrating her return from around the world April 28 at 4pm. Lemme heave a great quote from a recent log entry (from the Google) about her trip and the storm system we've all been suffering: "They are going to have to start naming all the tropical storm D's, 'Donna'...I sure have danced with enough of them." When she gets back, she will have traveled 31,000 miles by one of my favorite means of conveyance, a Southern Cross 28'. (Rather the 31'. One can really use the 3 extra feet living aboard.)
  • Oh, and this year's Southern Cross Rendezvous in July 21,22. Right here in Apponogansett Bay.
  • If you've ever heard This American Life with Ira Glass on your local public radio station, You need to see this 4-minute Chris Ware cartoon. A great fable, with, like all great fables, a moral. Apparently it's on Shotime.
  • New kind of protest: People are walking out of bars and businesses if the teevee is turned to Fox. Try it.
  • If, next Wednesday April 25 at 9pm, check out Bill Moyers Journal: "Buying The War" (also on PBS) or at least tell others. If you can stand Bill's constant pronunciation of our nation's capitol, "Worshington."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

6 Degrees of The 3rdMate

"[Celebrity] these days it's based on, how should I put it... vulgarity. We had standards and we didn't allow other people to debase our standards. It was a different time."

-Kitty Carlisle Hart
A couple of decades ago, I was in a community theatre production that the director told us was nominated for a Moss Hart Memorial Award, which, according to its presenting authority, The New England Theatre Conference, "has a two-fold purpose: to honor the memory of Moss Hart, dramatist and director, for his wit and sensitivity, for his unconquerable enthusiasm for life and for his work in the theatre; and to recognize and encourage outstanding theatrical productions throughout New England of playscripts that present affirmative views of human courage and dignity, that have strong literary and artistic merit, and which in their productions, exemplify fresh, imaginative, creative treatment within the intent of the playwright."
Kitty Carlisle spent the last 45 years doing the same thing, commemorating her husband's work. I got to meet – briefly -- Kitty Carlisle. I remembered her from What’s My Line and the Marx Brother's A Night At The Opera. You know, the one with the famous "stateroom scene." Which was "reworked" as Brain Donors, starring John Turturro. Who was in a movie called Box of Moonlight with Sam Rockwell (Chuck Barris in the movie Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.) And was in the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with Zooey Deschanel, who's cast as Janis Joplin in Gospel According to Janis. Janis Joplin was an acquaintance of my high school English teacher. Small world, innit?(Mrs. Carlisle Hart was also in a Will Smith movie called Six Degrees of Separation. Yes, this whole thing was a cunning scheme to get a cleavagy picture of La Deschanel on my site. )

"He might just have been a dependent calf and unable to survive," [Kim] Durham said.

Kim Durham is a rescue program director with the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research. Sludgie was obviously much younger than we thought. Now he won't be getting any older. Damn.
And in sadder news, the local college is doing Moby Dick:The Musical.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

So, you come a little too close to The Beach...

...and you learn what "fecal coliform" really means.

I can only sympathize with juvenile minke "Sludgie the Whale" (pictured above) who found a fun vacation spot off Brooklyn. I like Coney, he likes the Gowanus. I like the Gowanus too, but only if I'm on the Carroll Street Bridge. Here's what appears to be the official Sludgie Watch website, GowanusLounge.com. It's also a great site for the Red Hooker in all of us during non-cetacean crisis times.
A word of advice, Sludgie: Stay only long enough to get the 4 PBRs in a Bucket Special at Moonshine.


"Sludgie The Whale" is in no way related to "Fudgie The Whale of a Cake" from Carvel. The use of a monicker is in no way an endorsement or recommendation of repurposed ice cream cake products.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Adventures in Obviousness

The S-T, the local "newspaper," has finally come right out and said it: "Art is Economic Goodiness."
The above article, by easily-offended-by-art Dublin sailor Don Cuddy, includes the mandatory long-ass quote from "Katherine Knowles, executive director of the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center," who "believes that promoting culture is vital to SouthCoast's interests, both socially and economically." (Many remember the days when Anne Brengle, Executive Director President of the NB Whaling Museum, would get to read the Chamber of Commerce marketing quote. Knowles can get an 8-year old to play with Buddy Guy, so the novelty factor of dead cetacean carcasses is a little old. Anne also doesn't address donors with sparkles like Katherine does.)
Don's money shot: "A flourishing arts scene downtown and across [the] SouthCoast could prove to be the final piece in solving the puzzle of economic redevelopment that has taxed [!] the region for longer than anyone cares to remember."
Which is to say, "The Arts are part of the Economy, although the mouth-breathers still won't admit it."
Used to be, stories about aht were clumsily-worded, poorly-crafted, cliché-ridden slogs through the show's program by the semi-retired part-timer with a car that could make it to the church basement or art gallery. He'd get good and sauced-up, pull out the thesaurus and try to "aesthetic, artistic, arts'n'crafts" his way through a few column inches, which some editor or other would stuff near the Niagara Falls bus tour ad. He'd have his free ticket, his by-line and his check for $17 (which he would be expected to report as income) and that was the extent of aht as economic driver.
But that was way back in the 1990's, when there was an Arts Ampersand Entertainment section of the newspaper. Then there was an epoch of space-filling Associated Press stories about openings in cities no one around here had ever heard of ("Duluth"?). Now, aht has to share the LIFESTYLE! page with "readers' letters" about ADHD, STDs, new diets, and pictures of dogs catching Frisbees. And then the finger-sniffing guy who writes a column about how he feels when he sees a picture of a dog catching a Frisbee.

Every week.
Our friend David Boyce also writes for the S-T. He's in hospital with cancer. When he went in, we weren't sure how he'd be coming out. There was a palpable pall throughout the art community. David's been an advocate for hundreds of artists, simply by writing. He doesn't just drop names. He genuinely knows the artists in his community and in the larger world, which brings a legitimacy and solidity to the arts community here. He's a gay man who educates and inspires through his take on gender issues, OutPosts, also in the local paper. He's understood the part a conscientious media plays in the cultural life of the area. Again, at the risk of over-stating it, David is as much a part of the the success of arts in the area as the University, the Zeiterion, or NBAM. That said...
My Beloved Redhead explains that David's doctors insisted he

get started on a hormone therapy. He starts tomorrow. The hormone therapy is intended to push cancer into remission. A reasonable expectation for his survival is 3-5 years. This is significantly longer than both David and I believed... needless to say, we are greatly relieved and want to pass that along, hopefully for your relief, as well! Everyone's case is different, and no one can know for certain. It can head in a negative direction and move faster, but Dr. Lang said he does have patients who had advanced metastatic bone cancer and yet have survived for as long as thirteen years.


The treatment is too complicated for a topman to address here, but my reckoning says don't cock the yards just yet. The guy's still got work to do.
Including getting back to writing the columns, reviews and newses, curating at local musei. And saying things like what he said to editor Bob Unger when they announced his LGBT column:

"There are many ways to be in the world, and they're all valuable."

And that's a different kind of obvious. The sensible, 'this bears repeating' kind. Fair winds through this new course, David.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

That Gong thing...

That benefit Gong Show thing I hosted for the Orpheum Theater was a success.
Which means that I haven't failed yet as host for semi-vaudevillian events raising money for buildings in need of renovation. Feel free to hire me.
For a new organization trying to make a few bucks to buy some professional cred, the $100 and $50 prizes to the not-gonged winners were very generous. And in a typically New Bedford class act, the winners, Karen Anderson of Blessed Thistle and fiddler Jonathan Danforth gave their prizes back to O.R.P.H. Inc., the sponsoring organization working to restore the second oldest "Orpheum" in America.

The entrants (except one sadly damaged soul, as expected) bloody nailed the concept. After a local journaliste hadn't really sussed the Barris, our audience actually gave Chuck Barris, the teewee originator of this entertainment, an ovation. All the acts redefined vaudevillian taste, which we so desired that evening. As host, it was my duty to answer cell phones that rang during the show, wear and share my H.M.S. Impossible cap (available at CafePress), joke with the numerous judges (including Miss New Bedford 2007, Chantelle Pavao), introduce a waffle iron as proxy for pal and S-T Senior Arts writer David Boyce (who couldn't make it to the show, which I'll explain later). and keep the several bad acts moving by imploring another bad act to return and save the show from terminality.
A good time was had by all, and I was intoxicated to be surrounded by terrific talent. Of course the intoxication became manifest later at New Bedford's Cork, but that's another, other story. A cheesy moustache and a double-breasted tux can open doors...
But because I am a seeker, I knew there was something missing. One act. Something patriotic. Something a little bit country. Something a little sexy... (now you click)

If you must, call her "Sandy Belle."
Okay, she's actually, according to
Garance: "The Dreg’s Sandra Bauleo, a model and comedian. You can see her head-shot over at R & L Model Management. ... Sandra and the gang will be performing this Tuesday, April 17, as part of the PuPu Platter act at Manhattan gay nightclub Boysroom, on Avenue A and 12th Street.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Significances

R.M.S. Titanic was introduced to a huge block of floating ice 95 years ago. And it only took 95 years for someone to make watches out of pieces of the wreckage.

If you see Sarah Michelle Geller today, wish her a Heckuva Happy™

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Gong Show

I work in The Arts. Which usually means I clean dilapidated buildings, sit at the front desk, tell actors where to stand, and drive artists and performers to gigs. But sometimes I am called upon to use my powers to stumble through some master of ceremonies impersonation or other, and that's what I'm doing this Saturday night, as O.R.P.H. Inc tries to get its excrement assembled and buy a much-loved theater. (While we're on the subject, "theater" is the word when you talk about the building, "theatre" is the spelling when you talk about the organization.)

There was a time (before the Boomers made everything self-centered, passive, and avaricious) when people would leave their houses and go to see live performers. Because they didn't have TeeVees. Whew, lucky those days are gone, you're saying.
Well, some old-fashioned sticks-in-the-mud (some call them preservationists, some incorrectly call them Luddites, but that's another journal entry) want to keep this old theater from falling any more apart or turned into a WalMart or parking lot.
In the old days, all you had to do to preserve an old dandy was get up the money to fix'er up. Nowadays, however, you have to fight against the general phony poverty most people insist they're suffering in while buying a second car and having a sixth kid. And they demonize preservationists and artists in general for being communists or goof-offs. And make up some other ignorant reason to watch their neighborhoods turn to shit so they can have something to complain about and tell everyone what they would have done.
So, some people choose to do something they'll be ridiculed for, and that's O.R.P.H. Marlaina Gaspardi put together a nifty school project (all right, stop making fun of young professionals, old man!) Which you should read. And yeah, that's me, getting back on stage for an evening of "fun raising."
Here's a tip to anyone getting interviewed by an eleven year-old (what did I say about that?): Make sure you attribute to others stupid things you say extemporaneously at a photo shoot. Tonight, I'm going to have to deal with an entire city-wide festival (AHA! New Bedford) full of people saying bon mots like, "Raise any funs lately?"
In the meantime, "Mr. Carroll" is my father, and I didn't see him at the interview. Also, Chuck Barris' Gong Show wasn't early 20th Century vaudeville. Even if you weren't alive when it was on TeeWee. And I wish they'd used my other headshot. The outfit is much nicer. See?
Theirs:

And better hair:

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Everybody else is rounding this marker, so...

I never got Imus.
I always thought he was just a (rusty and useless) tool who always sounds old, hateful and bored. The ringmaster at a circus of sycophantic freaks, he mutters and mumbles barely coherently about nothing that interests me, and if it did interest me, my opinion would eventually oppose his, or at least his tack. But his latest “verbal insensitivity” issue reminds me of a former shipmate.
"Bill" loved loved the I-man so that he often spoke in a drawling monotone and obsessively insisted on calling people “pantload,” or any number of Imus' crusty colloquialisms. Now, "Bill" is a decent sailor, with an education, important job, and swell family. When I think that he would emulate (of all things) a radio host, I fear for those who are not as respectable or discerning. Yes, the clumsy boors who are daily influenced by Imus. After all, they have 30 years' experience pulling out the old “First Amendment sez” arguments and (more recently) “them damn PC Police” chestnuts to support and defend their hero’s insensitivity, racism, thoughtlessness, selfishness, misogyny, homophobia, etc.
On The Beach, “sorry” doesn’t have to mean “contrite,” anyway. Beach natives have a two-blocked and turned misunderstanding of apology and forgiveness. Forever mistaking vengeance for justice, and irresponsible childishness for innocent indecorum, Beach dwellers believe they can commit any number of atrocities, be forgiven by God, and continue in their self-absorbed impropriety, whether anyone else cares or not. And they are bolstered by morning and afternoon chat shows and 24-hour news channels that prove, to them, that untruths are unchallenged and hurtful language is defensible.
What a bunch of pantloads.

Monday, April 9, 2007

"CLASS WAR!™"

Here on The Beach, nothing says "Love [Only] Thy [Next-Door] Neighbor" more than a couple rounds of Class War!™. And where better to play out the folly than on the pages of The Standard-Times (née New Bedford Standard-Times).
It all started innocently enough, as these illusions often do, in a sleepy little hamlet. The hamlet in question is Marion MA, a perfectly idyllic Historical Reenactment of 1923 Marion, Mass. The Directors of this particular Living History Museum are hesitant about allowing one of them new-fangled "Soda Fountains." After all, why would anyone want a Dunkin' Donuts or a Subway sandwich shop in a perfect replica of an early-20th century industrialists' Summer holiday spot? The concept is ludicrous and anachronistic. Much like the idea of bitching about snobs.
Like the S-T "opinion columnists" do. They're in full cat-fight mode against, it seems, a couple of talented historical recreation performance artists trying to deliver their repro from annoying neon and non-free-trade coffee. In the olde-tyme classic newspaper style of "Let's You and Him Fight," otherwise rational
Editor Bob Unger and questionably adequate columner Jack Spillane and newsguy Brian Fraga have hopped on the pander cart and flung their far-fetched salvos at them rich.
If I may digress briefly: There are people who are perceived by others as "snobs." Or "slobs." Neither label is accurate, but in some cases may be appropriate. Unfortunately, those who judge also make up their own definitions. As in high school, "Jocks" and "Heads" and "Preps" (or whatever) define their camps in different terms. To do so does not level the battle field. That they battle thus for some apperceived supremacy shows how unwilling either side is to truly come to accord. And how far each has refused to evolve.
Now, why would a newspaper editor choose to play Class War!™ and take a side? Maybe he learned from the recent local "ILLEGALS!" nonsense. In that episode, Newspaper took the high ground and reported stories from all over the recent seizure of 361 workers at a government contractor sweatshop. Radio just allowed every racist xenophobic uneducable in the area to loudly and unsophisticatedly air his palaver, unedited and unchallenged. (Which is what talk radio is supposed to do, apparently.) Newspaper counters with snarky attacks amounting to about what I just wrote in the last two sentences, including parenthetical.
So now, with the fast food in Marion story, Newspaper has found a way to pander. Pander to advertisers whose presence they defend and insist upon. And most importantly, pander to the angry white guys they were making fun of last month. Because those are the guys who love Class War!™ The ones who hate "them lazy sponging-off-us poor" AND "them lazy running-everything-themselves rich." To put it simplistically (as they only understand clear black-and-white): On one hand, they can hate the rich, and then on the other, they can hate the poor. Which means, as members of either side ideologically, yes, they can hate themselves.
Twice as often.
No wonder The Beach is such a miserable place.

Monday, April 2, 2007

HOLY WEEK, from Captain Wallbank's Almanack

Religion-wise, a busy week ahead. Passover starts tonight, and Judaism's the faith with the noble Green statement:

"When God created Adam, He took him to survey
All the trees of the Garden of Eden
and said to him: 'See my works, how pleasant
And praiseworthy they are…
Be careful not to spoil and ruin my world.
For, if you spoil, there is no one to repair after you.
And if you think I'm hiring illegals to do this Garden on the cheap --
I was right about the dolphins,
and I'm sorry I didn't give cats thumbs.'"
Then, there's Ash Wednesday, when we celebrate Bruce Campbell's well-known movie role, and then Good Friday, followed by Pretty Good Saturday and then Easter. On Good Friday, we participate in the Stations of the Crosstrees and prepare the local rabbit warren for the appearance of their Savior, the Easter Bunny. Who, if he sees his shadow, forecasts six more months of baseball.
Easter Sunday is also the date of Vesak, or the Buddha's Birthday. But don't bother sending a gift, because it's also the commemoration of the Buddha's death. Buddhism is a convenient belief system in that way.
The godless heathens can go about their business as they will do, relishing their empty-headed and black-hearted soullessness, participating in the 13th Act of the Louis Vuitton Fleet Race of the 32nd America's Cup in Valencia.
Damn Yachties.