Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Beware the Angry Vagina

While sifting through a dense underbrush of resumes and headshots in response to an ad I placed in Backstage for actors to appear in comic videos, I was struck by how many women have appeared in one form or another in "The Vagina Monologues." It seems like vaginas, silenced for centuries, are now declaiming with a vengeance.

For example, one young woman's resume listed that she played the part of the "Angry Vagina" in that selfsame play.

Here are some other characters from that play:

The Manic-Depressive Vagina
The Nervous Vagina
The Happy-Go-Lucky Vagina
The Vagina with a Heart of Gold
The Vagina with a Chip on Its Shoulder
The Goofy Vagina
Mamacita Vagina
The Yodeling Vagina
The Tap-Dancing Vagina
The Vagina with a Criminal Past
The Mom-and-Pop Vagina
The "Are You Looking at Me?" Vagina
The Ventriloquist Vagina
The Stepford Vagina
The Special Needs Vagina
The Passive-Aggressive Vagina

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Now drilling at a theater near you

Last night, I took the above photo of the marquee of Theatre Three in downtown Port Jefferson, Long Island. A production of "West Side Story" is the feature attraction, and the theater also advertises a Saturday night improv comedy show. But I was struck by the middle title: "Glenn R. Korsen, DDS." What is a dentist doing on a theater marquee? Does he have a solo act reading X rays of selected audience members? Maybe he does entr'acte root canal for the Sharks and Jets. I mean, I don't remember any character named "Glen Korsen, DDS" in "West Side Story." But my memory is sketchy; maybe along with the Sharks and Jets there was a dentists' gang:

"When you're a Dent
You're a Dent
From your first wax impression
To your last dyin' day.

When you're a Dent
You're the top cat in town,
You're the gold medal kid
Making a solid-gold crown!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dating in New York City...

The outpatients in pursuit of the in-patients.

Monday, July 23, 2007

In Seaside Heights/God: the ultimate Peeping Tom

I was visiting some friends at the Jersey shore this past weekend. One night, I accompanied my friend Mike while he took his 13-year-old daughter and her friends to the Seaside Heights boardwalk - one of the last vestiges of old, vulgar-beautiful America. A Fellini-esque phantasmagoria of proletarian carny splendiferousness. Rides such as the Moby Dick, the Pirates' Cove and the Skyscraper, which consists of two capsules at either end that perform elliptical revolutions (and that resembles a weather vane), the apex of which is several hundred feet off the ground, and even the thought of which made me nauseous. Ski-ball, pinball, test your strength booths, the haunted manor, Sno-cones, cotton candy, Sicilian pie, sausage and peppers, frozen custard, Dutch pretzels, calamari - even arepas, an indication that the largely Italian-American crowd of my youth has been a bit diluted by Hispanics, Asians and a handful of other tribes, all sporting oversized T-shirts, faded jeans, baby doll dresses a la mode, piercings and bare midriffs overhanging pants like a landslide of flab. (I say the following with some affection.) I always wondered where in the world all the girls who do porn come from? Now I know: Seaside Heights.

A background sonic drone of ringing bells and whistles, screaming kids and poorly mic-ed adolescents barking up prospective customers or declaring the winner of a stuffed bunny. We passed one girl desultorily swinging a Star Wars light sabre, her attitude signifying "yeah, getyourStarWarslightsabreswhogivesashitit'sasummerjobwhoneedsitsellingcheapplastictubestomoronsiftheythinkthisisarealStarWarssabrethey'reevenstupiderthanIthoughtIcan'twaittogetoffandmakeoutandsmokeajointwithmyboyfriend."

At the end of the night, as my two friends and I left the boardwalk my friend Mike suddenly said, "Hey, check out that guy over there." I turned my head just in time to see a small, older man standing in a dark driveway peering into the window of a bungalow right off the main drag. A Peeping Tom, who was startled by the sound of our voices and scurried away.

This led to conjecture about the man's motives. Could he be the bungalow's owner who locked himself out? Unlikely; otherwise why did he allow us to interrupt his mission? If he was a "peeper," at what was he peeping? Did he peep on a regular basis, or was this a special occasion? My friend Mike said he probably peeped all around the neighborhood, which led me to add that he was taking advantage of the town's "$9.95 All U Can Peep" policy.

We continued riffing in this vein for so long that it dawned on me that we were becoming as obsessed with the Peeping Tom as he was with, well, the object of his peeping.

Were we meta-peepers?

My friend Michael had the last word: "Since God knows all and sees all, isn't he the ultimate Peeper?"

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Uniqueness of the masses

A current Time Warner Cable TV spot ends with the announcer's exhortation, "Share your individuality with people just like you."

Friday, July 13, 2007


I bought a package of caramelized walnuts from Balducci's. The ingredients listed were "walnuts, sugar, honey." Then in capital letters were printed the words "CONTAINS WALNUT."

It's as if they had to reassure you that the food you just bought is exactly what it purports to be.

And it got me thinking...Humans should come with their own ingredients list. A label on their clothing. For one thing, it would make dating much easier and allow you to completely bypass potential sociopaths (which comprise at least 75 percent of the population of Manhattan).

For example, you see an attractive woman at a party and start a conversation. She seems interested -- she's curious and enthusiastic about your work, she touches your arm frequently, smiles constantly and laughs at your jokes. Then you lean in (or perhaps turn her over) to read her label: "Ingredients: self-involvement, egocentrism, superficiality, materialistic bent, insensitivity, erratic personality. May contain nut."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Next, the "Overture to Lohengrin," but first the Philharmonic would like to congratulate Sammy Liebowitz on his bar mitzvah

Last night, I attended an event at Lincoln Center that was part of their outdoor "Midsummer Night's Swing" dance season. My longtime friend and virtuoso saxophonist Michael Hashim was leading an exceptional band in a program of the music of Billy Strayhorn. In other words, consummate musicians playing some of the greatest music ever written.

At one point, I was dancing with a young woman around 21. She had come with a group of friends to celebrate one of the friend's birthday. While we were dancing, she complained to me that she had asked Michael if he would announce the friend's birthday and he had replied, "Uh, no." She seemed to think that his was some sort of bar band whose duties included taking requests ("Hey, can you play "Money, Cash, Ho's"?) and announcing milestone events in the lives of audience members. She hadn't the slightest idea that she had been granted the privilege of attending an event of rare musical importance and sublimity. (The Billy Strayhorn Orchestra, as Michael calls the band, plays many obscure arrangements retrieved from the archives of Duke Ellington and elsewhere, and the costs in time and money for research, transcriptions, copying, gathering the musicians, rehearsals, etc., puts practical limitations on the frequency of such concerts. In fact, the band hadn't played at Lincoln Center in four years.)

But all this was unknown and probably incomprehensible to the young woman.

Can you imagine some bozo attending a concert of the New York Philharmonic and asking Lorin Maazel, "Oh, before you do Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring,' could you play 'Happy Birthday' for my girlfriend?"