Tuesday, September 23, 2008

my first 24 hours

I arrive in New York and settle spottily (since I am so used to the up-and-go with the suitcase now) in Williamsburg, head to Times Square for a Society of Stage Directors & Choreographers event... am delighted to find red carpets and all sorts of 'normal' people on them. Chairs are filling Broadway from 42nd to 47th Streets and giant screens and speakers are set up. The Opening Night of the Metropolitan Opera and Renee Fleming sings for one and all. The audience is rapt. The party is fun. The one person I meet there turns out to be working on my friend's play, the world gets smaller and smaller... then Indian food with said friend and my lovely cousin Katherine, ... and home to the burg. The next morning I join the Language of Trees team and it feels like everyone is batting 1000. So fun. Great to see friends and make new ones. That afternoon-- a surprise jaunt to Red Hook via Water Taxi (got on on Wall Street-- where a fire alarm, or maybe the stock market, sent everyone rushing from the Citibank building) ... I got to see the Waterfalls, a great Obama sign, a very cool converted warehouse apartment building, what views!!, and even go to Fairway. MMMmmm. And that was just the first 24 hours...

in NY on the first day of fall

Monday, September 22, 2008

this is important.

My Aunt Tracy sent this to me and I feel compelled to share it with you. It is powerful.
I feel so lucky I have 6 INCREDIBLE aunts, 7 female cousins, and 1 awe-inspiring sister, each of whom are extremely independent-minded, accomplished, inspiring individuals. Each of whom has inspired me in numerous ways. I am deeply committed to women empowering each other but, like Eve Ensler, the prospect of a McCain/Palin presidency TERRIFIES me, and makes me want to spring to action-- to do anything I can to keep that from becoming a reality. Please read this. And at the very least, please make sure you are registered to vote, you have reached out to others to vote, and VOTE on November 4th.

Eve Ensler, the American playwright, performer, feminist and activist best known for "The Vagina Monologues", wrote the following about Sarah Palin.

Drill, Drill, Drill
I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks. I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it's their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.

I don't like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.

But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story -- connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.

I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.

Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God's plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin's view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, "It was a task from God."

Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will should have a right to determine whether they have their rapist's baby or not. [from ACH: I recently learned (via the NYTimes) that under Palin's mayoralty Wasilla, Alaska actually charged rape victims for their forensic tests.]

She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth control. I imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many babies that makes.

Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who could and might very well be the next president of the United States . She
would govern one of the most diverse populations on the earth.

Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air.

Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector, when war is declared in God's name, when the rights of women are denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.

I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S. , but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It will determine whether we move towards
dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression.

If the Polar Bears don't move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, "Drill Drill Drill." I think of teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.

Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious thing we call life?

Eve Ensler
September 5, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

the very best forms of nostalgia

Today is the anniversary of the death of Johnny Cash. I will always remember the day and the night in New York City in 2003 with Iver and Joey and all that great music.

to me nostalgia is the feeling you have when you experience something in a way that is more than the sum of its parts. Perhaps because of memory, longing, the nature of the thing itself...

1. baseball-- be it current or classic, little league or the Red Sox in October...
2. Ballet and/or dance.
3. The streets between Beacon and Shawmut, and Mass Ave and Clarendon in the South End/Back Bay of Boston.
4. Records played loud in great rooms with wooden floors. Especially, in houses with dogs around...
5. Country music-- especially Dan Seal's All that Glitters isn't Gold
6. the places I've lived-- the towns, the houses, the streets, the cafes and bars...
7. Walking through an art museum/gallery-- in the past few months: Mass MOCA, the Williams College Museum of Art, the Clark Institute, the Institute of Contemporary Art (go Massachusetts!). Highlights were Jenny Holzer, William Kentridge, Robin Rohde.
8. Old boyfriends. (See #1-- related?)
9. Really great movies.

I saw two movies in the past week or so: Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Richard Linklater's Before Sunset (the 'sequel' to Before Sunrise). I really enjoyed both of them and found them both very provocative. They had some things in common, loads of magic hour footage, beautiful European locales and their native women, (Barcelona & Penelope Cruz, Paris & Julie Delpy, respectively), and a solid amount of ruminations of love, relationships, connections, lust & desire, responsibility, etc. Both films were fairly simple constructs-- relying primarily on dialogue and character with little to no major action sequences or special effects... yet both films managed to feel full and rich and exciting. It probably doesn't hurt that I am at an exact point in my life where I am extremely hungry for a European city and also simultaneously intrigued/disgusted by love-- but always FASCINATED.

One of the major themes of the conversation the characters in Before Sunset have, the conversation by the way which spans the entire film in real time, revolves around their decision not to exchange phone numbers when they met in Vienna nine years before. They talk about how when you're young you might throw something away, leave things to "Fate,' because even though you might feel a connection that feels special, you don't want to be tied down, you feel that you are changing so much, you assume that if you feel this connection now, you are sure to feel it again and again for the rest of your life... But as you get older you realize how rare that special connection with someone actually is.

In the earlier film the two characters had arranged to meet in 6 months but with the understanding that perhaps one or both of them would not show. This is very romantic of course, and Linklater even makes light of the characters' naivete a bit. Some tragic thing happened and one of the characters didn't show. With no phone numbers, or any other contact information, that was it for these two. Nine years later, Ethan Hawke is in Paris, reading from his newly published book-- the book he has written no less to sort of hold fast to that night in Vienna. Of course, Julie Delpy shows up. I don't want to say too much in case you want to see this movie, I recommend it-- even though it is SO simple and very romantic, I think it is very good.

Anyway, my friend Siri sent a link a few days ago of an anthropologist lecturing on love, sex, cheating, etc. and I found it really riveting. Here is the link to that:


Thursday, September 11, 2008

"9 dreams and whistling" is the song

Today is September 11th and I remember.
9/11 babies will turn 9 this year
and this war has gone on over 5 years now...
(please PAUSE)

Walking through the Institute of Contemporary Art yesterday my friend Beau and I got to talking about various trends in modern art and the importance of generosity of spirit, rigor, and real commitment. Some of the artists whose work was on display seemed to favor exploiting their personal traumas/minutiae of their lives with an abundant helping of preciousness and implied fragility. These works reminded me of notes from middle or high school, passed to a best friend or boyfriend, full of implied meanings more than the sum of their parts. In a way, some of these artists seemed to be looking to elevate the 'meaning' or 'importance' of their work by hiding some part of it, by making us feel the voyeur, ...by making us look very closely at the tiny half-erased pencil poetry... Beau was contrasting this kind of work with some of Gerhard Richter's work that he saw recently. Being a great lover of blurred images myself, I am a longtime fan of Richter's, and I especially admire his dynamism as an artist, tackling new forms and techniques and seemingly without even the slightest self-consciousness. His work is large and aggressive and bold and GENEROUS.

I want to do work that is both personal, and intimate, but also GENEROUS. Some of my favorite artists: Sophie Calle, Charlie Kaufman, Pina Bausch, Ariane Mnouchkine, Miranda July, Jonathan Safran Foer... are able to achieve precisely this and I love them for it. I also love the feeling when I see some piece of their's, maybe the movie Me and You and Everyone We Know, or Sophie Calle's downtown NYC phonebooth project... and it seems so incredibly brilliant and of a very singular vision but funny and smart and accessible to MANY different kinds of people.
Now, since I am on the subject of art and heroes, here's one I am lucky to call a friend, ... and honestly, if the world had more people like John Hawkes in it-- oh what a wonderful place it would be.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

say yes to great adventures

What a glorious 24 hours.
It was almost like a dream-- at each turn it felt too good to be true, too fun to be real, ... the light on the water, the other people... it was all rather magnificent. Again on this theme: "Adrienne's Extremely Lucky and Magical Summer."

I had three real mates in the adventures on the past day. For me, having someone to share the adventure with is key. I certainly embrace potential adventures solo, but there are parts of the past 24-hours that couldn't have been, or shouldn't have been, if I were just flying solo.

First, Great Pond. Couldn't have a better name. The water is crystal clear, the sun was shining and the sky was blue, my friend Jonathan and I had some great talking and swimming; it was a perfect afternoon.

Next, my friend Lauren 'Jalapeno' (names changed to protect the faint of heart as she plans to run for President in 2040 and I am 'on the charge' rest assured) arrives in town and we have a lovely snack and walk on the beach. She comes to see the play I'm in, the performance goes swimmingly and the audience laughs plentifully... we meet some audience members, and head over to the bar across the way for some fairly competitive foosball tournies. Lauren and I improve considerably but we started at a pretty meek level. We are getting on with our new friends, fellow actors but also LOCALS, (one of whom I am pretty sure I know from somewhere and sure enough, four hours later-- we figure out we have a mutual mentor/guru figure), and we head to Ptown for some dinner and music. Bubala's is an excellent restaurant, the great Lois Smith is eating alongside us, and across the street is Enzo-- a restaurant and piano bar. I ate at Enzo once and loved it and a few weeks back the New Yorker had a sidebar profile of a guy named Billy who looks a bit like Andy Warhol and sings and plays a spirited tune and piqued my curiosity. Lucky again, it was his last night on the bench.
He was absolutely incredible. The kind of performer the like of which you might be lucky enough to see once or twice in your life, and in such a small venue, crowded with a colorful, raucous but tender crowd, a Czech bachelorette barty, lots of drag queens, young and old people... really special. Billy sang songs about Palin and McCain and Obama and his mother... and sang-talked about how the end of summer means saying goodbye to amazing people you met that you now love that you very well might never see again... and he sang Amazing Grace. The last song had the refrain 'life will go on' and that was my favorite one of all. It had lines something like 'all your friends might get AIDS and Herpes and Chlamydia and Arthritis and become junkies and die and you might go to more funerals than you have ever imagined but... life will go on" but it was ultimately a happy and hopeful song. We watched and we drank and we swayed and met people and it was really extremely LIVELY.
Then, with all that vim and vigor in our hearts and our livers we weren't ready to call it a night so we set off for a pond. We circled round the Monument and met up with some other new friends and headed towards another great pond down a very long unmarked dirt road and after we parked and the car lights died down it was pitch black. We walked barefoot and arms linked for about 10 minutes in total darkness and then we threw off our clothes and dove into the water. It felt exhilarating. The sky was ominously cloudy and the locals who do this sort of thing regularly said it was the darkest night of the whole summer. We swam and splashed around for a bit and listened to the silence and dried off without even a single towel and made our way back to the car over many roots and boughs just as it started to rain. The beginnings of the hurricane blew in just as we got dropped off back at the house for a warm shower and sleepover.
This morning I woke up with vivid memories of Sophia Coppola initiating a gchat with me, she had mentioned her dad was visitng, I said, "F.F.?" ... She said, "Yep." I told her my dad was also visiting me. I had also been flying planes onto aircraft carriers in my dream so I woke up pretty exhausted.
Jalapeno and I set out for caffeine and she got on her way and I met up with my dad for a marvelous breakfast. MMMMMMMMMMmmmmm eggs. The Wicked Oyster is one of the Top Breakfast Spots in my entire life experience.
After a leisurely meal we headed for Ptown and meandered around, walking out on the jetty by the salt marsh and driving around the very end of Massachusetts. Such beautiful dunes and birch forests and green and great conversation and it just doesn't get much better than this I don't think.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Remember the Veruca Salt album from 1994? Seether I think it was called.
"I can't see her till I'm foaming at the mouth..."
In the song it sounded like she was saying 'seethe her' -- which is what I am feeling just now.
I am sick of the RNC saying that Sarah Palin has more experience than Barack Obama. She actually said 'being mayor of a small town is sort of like being a community organizer, except you have actual responsibilities.' Or something like that. She was the Mayor of a town with 7,000 people and she has been the governor of Alaska for 20 months. The state of Alaska has a huge budget surplus because of it's oil and the federal money pumping into the state to keep the people who own all that land happy. In case you haven't noticed Sarah Palin, the rest of the country does not have a budget surplus. Similarly, hardly anyone lives in Alaska. And those who do are not the most diverse group of people. Hello Republicans-- America is a diverse country and a country in need of people with experience working with MANY different kinds of people.
My parents were community organizers in Little Rock, Dallas, New Orleans, Vermont, New Hampshire and Boston. I can tell you first hand that community organizers are the people who do the jobs that no one else wants to do. Community organizers are the people who help the people who can't always pull themselves up by their bootstraps-- because, as Obama so generously and perceptively recognized in his Convention speech, sometimes people don't even have boots on. And a lot of time-- this is through no 'fault' of their own-- as many of the people speaking this week at the RNC would have you think.
I grew up in a neighborhood in Boston where a lot of my classmates faced incredible challenges, brothers or sisters being shot while playing, no food, no shoes, tattered clothes, no health insurance etc., and these classmates were children. Innocent children. And they were great children and they are great people today-- firefighters, teachers, police officers... and if they were growing up right now, or under a McCain/Palin administration-- I can only imagine. If the abstinence education Palin supports didn't work, (as it didn't in her own family)-- and they were to get pregnant, with the Supreme Court getting increasingly socially conservative abortion might not be an option and so these young people would have the challenges of a family on their hands at a time when unemployment is at a high, financial aid for college is at a low ... it just terrifies me to think about.

I can't stand the appropriation of 'real' Americans by the Republican Party to refer to relatively well-off white people. I can't stand the accusations flying that the people challenging Palin's credentials are sexist. It is not because she is a woman. I love women and and I am glad she is a woman but that has nothing to do with it. The people saying that anyone saying 'she might not have her priorities straight' is sexist-- because I felt the same way when Edwards chose to campaign despite his wife's Cancer coming back. When you have a 4-month old with Down-Syndrome and a 17-year old who is SO FAR oFF from the values you are espousing FOR THE COUNTRY, I think you need to assess what is most important right now. Man or woman. I don't feel like it should fall on Ms. Palin's shoulders any more than on Mr. Palin's shoulders, but I think we can look to how a candidate looks out for their family as a sign of how they are going to look out for a WHOLE COUNTRY.