I did have a good week-end, in spite of myself. Friday night I saw the S.F. Lyric Opera's production of Un Ballo in Maschera , sang by Americans in Italian. The head spins. [Editor: Thanks to Razvan Georgescu for pointing out that I had attributed Un Ballo to the wrong composer. What was I thinking? Oh! I know, I wasn't thinking, and obviously, I wasn't proofing either. Thanks Razvan. I'm also changing the word "terrorizing" where I described his singing of Rigoletto. It is not acurate as far as describing Mr. Georgescu's singing, and it's not fair to the character of Rigoletto who actually is the one who is terrorized and who, because of that terror, contributes to his own daughter's death. Is that better? ]
S.F. Lyric Opera is the child of Barnaby Palmer, a dashing young man whose depth of musical character belies his boyish looks. This is the second opera I've seen him conduct. The first, Rigoletto, sung by Jennifer Chan, was incredible. This was one was great also. The role of Amelia was sung by Duana Demus , a beautiful woman with a grand voice. If she gets the right mentoring, she might be great some day. She's got the basics down.
Local girl, Patrice Houston (no relation) stole the first act with her performance of Ulrica, the gypsy fortune teller who has the sad duty of telling tenor William Gorton singing Gustavo that he was going to die at the hands of his best friend whose wife he just happens to be boinking, although we are given strong reason in the final act that there was no boinking involved. Yeah, as if. Returning to the stage as Renato was Razvan Georgescu, the best friend of Gustavo, and husband to the woman Gustavo is boinking. God, I love opera. It's just like life, only every body's always singing.
The really neat thing about S.F. Lyric is the hall where it's performed. The Florence Gould Theater at the Palace of the Legion of Honor is a very intimate room, maybe 50 feet in diameter, but there can't be more than 300 seats, and each of them in spitting distance of the stage. The orchestra is now up to 14 people, and I don't see how he can get any more chairs there without having them sit in the audience, but he sure as hell pulled a big sound from those 14 instruments. I think I have a serious crush on Barnaby.
Congratulations, though, on your incredible accomplishment of creating the San Francisco Lyric Opera. This is how opera is supposed to be enjoyed.
On Saturday, Bridey and I saw the Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet exhibit at the Palace of the Legion of Honor. This exhibit, from the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, France is a nice collection of one man's obsessive vision of art.
Alfred Bruyas (1821–1877), who assembled the collection on view. One of France’s foremost collectors of contemporary art of his day, Bruyas gave his collection in two stages in 1868 and 1876 to the Musée Fabre. Remarkable in and of itself, this gift was also one of the first philanthropic gifts to a French museum. An exceptional collector in a provincial setting, Bruyas challenged the Parisian dominance of the art world in France by bringing then-contemporary works to Montpellier and in asserting the importance of his own vision and collection.
Bruyas’s tastes encompassed romanticism as well as realism. He collected art that drew upon the French Academy as well as works that were then considered avant-garde. His impulse to showcase the best of French painting in Montpellier resulted in friendships with many of the renowned artists of his day.
What I liked most about the exhibit was the story of the tension between artist and collector. Perhaps it was the style of the day, but it seemed that each time Bruyas made an important purchase, the artist whose work was purchased painted Bruyas's portrait. Bruyas felt that he was able to influence the direction of art because of his power as a patron. There's one painting in the exhibit by an artist Bruyas patroned, so to speak, that shows Bruyas sitting between the artist and the canvas. Many years later, Courbet found himself in a similar situation with Bruyas. This was Courbet's response to the earlier painting. Notice that Courbet is closer and taller than the other two men, one of whom is Bruyas, and also notice that only Courbet is important enough to cast a shadow.
Fooey! The only picture I could find to steal doesn't show the shadow, oh well, I enjoyed the show.
I went to an interesting party Saturday night in a decrepit, run-down mansion in one of S.F.'s more upscale neighborhoods. I love decrepit and run down. There's so much more character there. There was even a ghost. Well, no there wasn't, but I was in bayou mode, so I created one for everyone to enjoy. Rod and James, our hosts, had too many electrical things going on at once, and this place hadn't been rewired since the 50s, so the lights kept blinking and going off and coming on. I started the ghost story at 6:30 and by 9:30, it was being told to me by the cutest young man from Dallas by the name of Chip.
Sunday the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence held their celebration of Easter in Dolores Park. My roommate and close friend, Huntly, is Pope Dementia the Last, also known as "Popie." Here's a picture of Huntly on Sunday.
I did wear an Easter bonnet.
Sunday evening, Bob C. and I went to see the most god-awful show at the Berkeley Rep. We would have walked out if we could have done so without walking across the stage. We're just not that rude.
I wasn't depressed when I woke up this morning, but after reading Mark Morford, I am now. Sheesh!
We are in dark times. Five years of economic
bloodshed and three of brutal warmongering and the worst environmental
president in American history and you simply cannot deny that as the
ruthless American agenda goes, so goes the populace, so goes the
collective attitude, the shared vibration, the health of the planet and
the feeling that this particular karmic sinkhole has no known bottom.
In other words, it is all connected. It
is all of a piece. There is a direct correlation between the violent
and heartless tone and attitude of our country and the mental and
spiritual health of its people and by way of comparison just look at
the Clinton era, which brought eight years of unprecedented prosperity
and peace and a nearly balanced budget and high economic flush.
It's true. There was, we forget, a
decided lack of sexual anxiety and uptight moral rigidity in the
nation, minimal pseudo-religious puling from the uptight Right and much
moderate lawmaking and I don't care a whit for what you say about the
man's personal moral compass -- under Clinton, America had deeply
supportive allies, intelligent foreign policy, more genuine concern for
the planet and the health of our forests and oceans and air, and we had
a president who was incredibly articulate and deeply intelligent and
greatly beloved the world over and the nation enjoyed one of its most
prosperous and nondivisive and peaceful periods in its history.
And now, the exact opposite. Everywhere
you look, the culture is fractured and divisive and mean. Everywhere
you look it's war and pollution and more toxins, red versus blue, good
versus evil, more garbage and less concern where to shove it, fewer
restrictions on industrial polluters and fewer controls on corporate
abuse and an administration that has so shamelessly leveraged the worst
tragedy in American history to further its brutal and hawkish
right-wing agenda it would embarrass Mussolini.
The sad fact is, there are a great many
among us who believe we have entered into a new Dark Age, that it will
be a long and brutal slog indeed and BushCo is merely the precursor,
the devil's handmaiden, and that we have a long way to go into the
bleak and the bloody and the environmentally devastating before the
pendulum begins its slow swing back toward the light.
I've always thought we were each the captain of our own ship with the right to steer it towards the star we choose, but there are cosmic hurricanes which can smash the strongest ship and the best captain onto the rocks of fate and chance. Are we in a new Dark Ages? Is humankind as a whole depressed?
It's an appropriate question on this Holy Saturday of the Christian calendar. Our optimism and our hope, like our messiah have been crucified and have died horrible deaths. The light has gone out. Without getting into the dogma part of what happened two thousand years ago, our challenge today is can we pull ourselves from the gloom that is this winter of our discontent. Can we find spiritual renewal? This year I just don't know if Christ is going to make it out of the tomb or not. I'm not sure but that he's on the other side of the rock holding it in place so people will leave him alone and keep his name out of it.
The louder the Evangelical Fundamental Extremists become, the more embarassed I am to be thought of as a christian. That's a terrible place to be at Easter.
Thank god for the Easter Bunny and chocolate. I'll always believe in chocolate.
Beauregard still hanging in. He's up to about 9 lbs. At 12 years, he's about as much fun as any other old man his age. He's grumpy, complains a lot, gets up in the middle of the night and isn't happy unless everyone in the house knows he's awake and up. I think he needs a hobby. Maybe a nice mini. schnauzer puppy?
Last night, I went to see Lillies, by Michel Marc Bouchard, directed by Serge Denoncourt. The cast was composed of members in the Masters program at A.C.T. and A.C.T.'s core company.
Clayton B. Hodges in the front of the tub as the Count de Lilliy (Lilly White), and Stephen Strobel, as Simon Doucet, taking care of the rear, so to speak. Truthfully? Their performance wasn't that compelling, and because the rest of the play, staging, acting, etc., was so compelling, the two cuties seemed like, well, lightweights. I hate saying bad about two boys that cute, but ... Oh well.
Why the fuck are you so mad at me? What did I ever do but make your life easy? Why are you blaming all those fools on me? Anybody can call themselves anything. It ain't got nothing to do with me. I gave you fuckers life. I didn't presume to tell you what to do with it. I think you're all a bunch of nuts. I haven't been on this side of the universe in half a billion years, so don't blame the kid on me! (Just kidding, Mary.) You know, Houston, I always liked your grandmother more than I like you.
You talk about me so much on this blog of yours that I'm tempted to accuse you of stalking me. You talked about "catch and release" in your post about fleas, well I practice a "create and release" sort of schtick. This was one of my first efforts. I am continually embarrassed by it. I have gotten much better in the past couple of billion years.
Sorry you're mad at me. However, you're nothing. You should have heard the shit I got from the Jews during and after your World War II. Those people were pissed! I think they still are. There's this one temple in San Francisco that still addresses the prayers of the congregation with "To Whom it May Concern -- If You're Bothering to Listen."
Oh, and Sonny, I mean, Houston, (Sorry, I knew him when he was still a twinkle in his daddy's eye), stop being so angry at me. Like your friend Wanda said, you sound bitter. You little creeps are around for about a blink-blink of a second. Concentrate on celebrating your life. Be righteous for my sake, but leave the anger to me. I promise you, it'll all turn out alright.
Take Terri Schiavo into your bosom and give her peace. That's what I would like for you to do to clear all of this mess up down here in these United States of America of Yours. Free Terri from the prison of her body, a body that will never be vital again under any circumstances. Maybe when Terri's body is dead and buried, her parents will be able to let go of the dream that was their daughter. They've been through a lot because they love their daughter and cling to a belief that You are somehow going to make Terri whole again. Yeah, as if. As bad a christian as I am, I know that's not going to happen. For some reason or another, the last miracle you performed that anyone (other than Roman Catholics) has written about happened over 2,000 years ago.
Wonderous are your ways, O Lord. If you wanted to show us all right now, You could allow Terri to have a complete recovery stimulated by the removal of the feeding tube. If You wanted to. Well why don't You want to, God? You afraid of the challenge? C'mon, old man, Your people down here say You're fierce. That's why they want to put You in the middle of all of our shit. Lord, I'm asking You nice-like, make Terri Schiavo whole. Make this a win-win situation. I think those people down here who are making the most noise about being Your most faithful servants need a sign. They don't believe in accepting Your will. They want THEIR will to be done IN YOUR NAME. I think you need to speak up for Yourself right now. Show us Your Stuff.
One last request, God. If you choose not to show us Your Stuff, can You make Your idiot followers sit down and shut the fuck up and about Your Will and Your Ways? Cause you know what I think, God? I know You know what I think because I'm always telling You how I think it should be done, but I'm going to tell You again. It's been my experience with You that You do not alter the laws of nature because a few people can't see Your Divine Will in all things. With their petty little minds, they try to write a script for everyone else to follow.
Listen, God, if I judged You by the way Your people act and and carry on, I'd have become a member of the opposition a long time ago. However, despite what Your weasels say, You ain't got no opposition, have You? There ain't no Devil. Please. Your people handle that job pretty darn well all by themselves. Do you know how many people we Americans have killed in Iraq in Your name? Well of course You do, since You know the number of hairs on our heads and all, even if most of those poor suckers in Iraq were Muslimsl. Hey, answer me this one. You're not the same Joe those Muslims call "Allah" are you? As long as You're explaining things to me again, tell me what the importance of Jesus is again? Are we supposed to worship him or practice what he preached? We get mixed signals on that subject from the people who most loudly claim to speak for him.
Sorry for the wordy prayer, God, but I need some of your Grace right now. I'm consumed with anger over the cruelty of some of those people who claim to speak for You. What am I angry about? Last month, Your people let a living child die in a hospital in Houston, Texas because there was no Congress demanding that the hospital continue life support. The baby died because Your Chosen One signed a bill into law when he was governor of Texas that allows the corporation which owns the hospital to pull the plug if there's no one to pick up the check despite the objections of the family. You know the part that's hard for me, God? Not one of Your people did anything to try and save that baby.
Alright. So what I'm asking, God, is for You to bestow some of that Grace on me now, and help me to let go of my anger. I have been doing what You suggested after our last little talk. I'm trying to be more humble, and yes I do remember that being forgiven is tied to forgiving. You pounded that lesson into my head well enough.
Oh, and one little selfish request. Please make Oprah's producers aware of my cousin who cares for her adult comatose child without the benefit of hope from You. As long as You're going to be indifferent both to her suffering and the suffering of her child, would you mind signaling someone down here to lend a hand.
[This post has been edited at the insistence of several readers who resented similarities of names and guilty parties, so I obliged. I also changed the caliber in an example used, for emphasis. I also used a new fangled invention called "spell check". Enough said.]
I spent the past two hours on a post and just lost it. Damn. That's what happens when you do too many things as one time. My left brain is uploading music to my iPod, my right brain is philosophizing and holding forth. My sturdy little fingers manage it all just fine, most of the time. Oh well...
Dogs and Cats
The unit downstairs sold last month. The new owner, Miss Ima, has a dog, a "small terrier-mix." Yeah, right. It's a fucking pit bull. Her name is Hog. Isn't that sweet? When I walked out onto my front porch and saw Miss Ima, Hog and another couple of neighbors chatting, I turned and pushed Beauregard back inside, commiserating that his life just changed.
Hog is six years old and was adopted three years ago from an animal shelter. Isn't that sweet? If you told me that you found a stick of dynamite on the street this morning and were using it as a paperweight on your desk, I'd say that was interesting, just as long as your desk isn't near mine.
I concede that pit bulls get a lot of bad press. Chihuahuas attack more people each year than do pit bulls. Chihuahuas are mean little fuckers. Vicious even. However, I've yet to see a headline that says "Child savagely mauled by chihuahuas."
Let's say Miss Ima stopped by my house for coffee one morning and saw a .44 magnum laying on the table, and when I noticed the gun on the table made her nervous, I says to Miss Ima, "Oh don't worry sugah, the safety's on." Should she stop worrying about her neighbor having a loaded gun on the table, or should she just find reassurance that she's a sweet natured and loving dog I've got the safety on?
Fleas We've been flea-free here in the Bridges' household for the past two years. One week after the dog moves in and so do the fleas. I woke up the other night feeling something moving on my skin. Oh, my god, fleas! In my bed! On my cat! Worse, on me! There are several awful things about fleas. Sure, they make your pet miserable. They also defecate little blood pills that while small are still visible to the naked eye, especially on white sheets.
I got up the next morning and Beauregard got a bath and rinse. That's a tough process for both of us. He's been bathed regularly since he was about 14 weeks old. I figure anything (or anyone) who sleeps with me needs a regularly bath. There are several rules to bathing a cat. The first rule has nothing to do with bathing a cat, and yet, it has everything to do with bathing a cat. The first thing you do when you're going to give your cat a bath is CLIP THE DAMN CLAWS! Who would have thought that Beauregard would sink his claws that deep into my hand? Who would have thought?
Last night I woke up to that same chilling sensation. Something was moving on my skin. Only this time I knew it wasn't a spider. It was a flea! I have this love-hate relationship with fleas. I hate what they do to my pet. I hate their little shit pills on my white sheets. However, they do not bite me. With that many of them around, you gotta love 'em for that. For that reason, I do not kill them arbitrarily. I practice "catch and release," sort of. So when I felt the first flea, calmly I awoke and turned on the light. After finding my glasses, I grabbed my weapon of choice, a lint remover, the sticky tape kind. Theoretically they can escape the sticky sheet of tape that I put into the trash. I wish them well, really I do, only far, far from me. I went flea hunting three times last night.
On the more mundane side, I've decided to remodel my kitchen and master bath. It'll give me something outside of myself to worry about.
The week off from blogging was interesting. I think it's a good thing to be quiet once in awhile.