Thursday, April 28, 2011

Where the Wild Things Are - Hell's Kitchen Edition

"From hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee." – Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Call me nycityman.
Destiny may beckon us, at least once in our lifetimes, to embark into brutal battle with an oft-noble and fiercely formidable foe. Ahab had his great white whale, Michele Bachmann – truth, Glenn Beck – sanity. And like Melville’s good captain, even those of us residing in the most urban of arenas can find ourselves in occasional encounters with beasts of the wild. What the hyena is to Africa, what the remora is to the deep, what Donald Trump is to dignity - the pigeon is to New York City - a pest and a nuisance spreading disease and illness in its feathery wake – surely one of the foulest fowls to ever populate our planet. Some find this passerine objectionable as a matter of hygiene, cleanliness or because of the resulting bread crumb shortages among the elderly. For nycityman, it’s a far more personal predicament. They litter my air conditioner and windows. They frustrate my feline. They discuss my shortcomings behind my back. They ridicule my clothing choices. And they question my sexuality. In over half a century of existence, I’ve spent many an hour, nay many a day, nay many a week – even nayer (yes, I said nayer) - many a month, locked in corporeal combat with my feathery foes and despite my Darwinian advantage, my higher ranking on the evolutionary chain, my clearly superior SAT scores to any genus of bird, I have yet to emerge victorious.

Even less a desirous situation than the repeated rainstorms of bird droppings is the recurrent racket caused by the activities of amorous avian arousal. Perhaps I possess peculiar proclivities but pigeon porn? Please. (Sorry, the “p“ key got stuck) And when one, or rather two (no matter the species), live out the lustful lyrics of a Barry White tune, unforeseen results often arise - and so, I become a godfather. Blocking every inch of possible air intake on my living room Fedders are feathers, two farm fresh eggs and the stolidly protective mother. Imagine the potential damage inflicted by a pigeon family, thriving with infected disease life, on my air conditioner vents for an undermined amount of time. Is this, at long last, my Ahab moment? And is Kate Middleton … for the sake of the blog I topically named the pigeon Kate Middleton … and is Kate Middleton my personal Moby Dick? I live in a land rife with snooty, over-priced restaurants; surely I could find an establishment interested in fresh squab eggs. But... call me a wuss. Call me a wimp. Call me weak. Call me irresponsible. Call me unreliable (darn that Sammy Cahn and his infectious lyrics.) I could never become the Aileen Wuornos of the avian community. No one wishes to see “Most Wanted” posters of themselves plastered in every Audubon Society across this great land of ours. No one should want to be Sylvester to Tweety. And so, as a very un-Sarah Palin/un-Ted Nugent-type person (I’ll never understand the joy or thrill experienced from extinguishing the life of a defenseless, innocent creature - you're not Davy Crockett, we have A&Ps now) we anxiously await the birth of Martin and Lewis, the twins. Despite my tolerance and acceptance of Kate and Dean and Jerry, I do hope that they find their way out of my life as quickly and humanely as possible. May they depart to discover domicile on statues of only the most eminent dignitaries; and experience a life of joyful car and coat soiling and whatever else dirty diseased life-forms are want to do. The weather has already warmed and before spring turns to summer, I hope to once again enjoy conditioned air, free of feathers and fecal matter. Such are the dreams of man.

And for the sake of consistency - The Beatles, "And Your Bird Can Sing."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Tale of Two Tales of Two Cities

All Hail the Hale Center Theatre

“I can’t recall a night so clear
The heavens seem an inch away
And not unfriendly after all
After all, if life was ever quite this sweet
I can’t recall” – Jill Santoriello

Be warned my friends, for those of you who have become accustomed to a certain tone here at “…and several butcher’s aprons,” be neither frightened nor alarmed. Nycityman has not suffered a fall, been a victim of mental cruelty nor been replaced by the pod people from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” The all too usual snarkiness, skepticism and sarcasm just do not apply in this situation. So fear not and remain unruffled, for today you will be reading nice things, pleasant things, positive things – not even a Palin or Beck swipe in sight (but then again, why kick people when they’re down?) – and while this may seem counter to my heretofore known nature, unusual circumstances call for unusual measures and unexpected joys can come from unexpected places. Please accept and embrace this behavioral alteration, and if you have ever found enjoyment, entertainment or enlightenment in previous posts, I hope you find similar values in this more amiable endeavor. As any theatre critic can attest, regardless of actual merits and realities, it is often far easier to be clever and comical when penning disapproving prose than when opining with positive postings – this, however, will clearly and justifiably be the latter.

This is a tale of Two Tales of Two Cities. Confused yet? Then my work is done here. In way of explanation, this is a tale of a marvelous musical and a praise-worthy production - Jill Santoriello’s “A Tale of Two Cities.” But it’s also a tale of a judicially jaded and surreptitiously cynical New Yorker embracing the people and environs of a city that (gasp!) is not home to the IRT, McSorley’s Old Ale House or Tom Seaver’s legacy.

New York City courses through my veins as human growth hormone does through those of Alex Rodriguez. Nycityman, born and bred in, and married to, his beloved Gotham, discovered much to admire in Utah - a destination that prior to this weekend he couldn’t have located on a map with a gun to his head, his cat being held hostage and a cartographer as his phone-a-friend. My own personal tale of two cities began when seeing this superior presentation of this powerful and poignant musical adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic. Dickens’ account is of London and Paris, while mine involved New York and Salt Lake City – for it was there, in “the Crossroads of the West,” where I had the immeasurable pleasure of experiencing a production with heart, soul, love, care, talent and more sincerity and emotion than an Osmond family Christmas (a recently passed Utah state ordinance requires an Osmond reference be made in all published writings.) This is a musical that I have been fortunate enough to see dozens of times through the years, in virtually every imaginable theatrical venue - from readings in rented rehearsal spaces to its glorious run at the Al Hirschfeld Theater on Broadway. And despite the fact that I could karaoke the score and recite the lines along with the cast, it was almost as if I was seeing it anew and discovering its joys all over again.

But there’s even more to this personal saga that extends beyond the fulfillment that one can receive from such a satisfying work of art, and that has to do with the people encountered there. The explanation escapes me – perhaps something in the high altitude and the accompanying thin air prohibits egotism and malice from growing and flourishing in Utah. The populace was so considerate, kind and convivial that this world-weary New Yorker was somewhat initially perplexed. Could this be real? Have I wandered onto the “Waltons” set and will this all evaporate upon the calling of “cut?” Well, much to my happiness, this altitude attitude is very authentic and honest; and with apologies to Theodore Geisel and his Grinch – “well, in Salt Lake City they say that nycityman’s heart grew 3 sizes that day.” And speaking of hearts, if one’s was not stolen by a female cast member or two, then get on a waiting list because a transplant is long overdue. Similarly, gentleman of “Tale,” from what I understand, such was also the case concerning yourselves and the audience members of the fairer sex. But then again how could one not fall for the sly easy charm and savoir fare of a Barsad or a Cruncher?

As regular readers may recall, I recently wrote a piece questioning the nature of religion and the very existence of a higher power. I will always have my doubts, but the people I met this weekend did manage to pry open a pair of very tightly shut eyes and gave me the opportunity to see things from a slightly different point of view. I witnessed the value and worth that can accompany faith, conviction and spirituality. And as they were so warm and welcoming to their visitors from the east, I posit a notion - at the still undoubtedly adorable, cute and cuddly age of 51, I offer myself up for adoption. Sure, newborns may have their appeal, but think of the advantages – I’m already on solid food, I can dress myself and you won’t have to pay for my college education. You, my new friends, may have it within your power to make nycityman, slcityman.

In conclusion (collective sigh of relief) alas, all was not goodness and light – I received no fry sauce, a situation I hope will be rectified post haste.

And now, from the Hale Center Theatre, a taste of “A Tale of Two Cities.”