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Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Night of the Secretary-General, A Music Drama for Tenor and Small Orchestra, Selections from Dag Hammarskjold's Markings set to music by Paul H.Kirby, Adapted for the stage by William G. Marx, Directed by Lissa Moira, starring James Parks ...

 is Pretty Beautiful, and intimate, in considering the solitude of the man prior to his fateful airplane journey; but come to think of it, that was a discovery because we don't know the history of this secretary general for whom a UN plaza is named.

The UN itself is somewhat peripheral to our Nation of United States, in that it is independent, yet finds itself placed in the middle of a city like the Vatican in Rome.  Do you need a passport to get into the independent Nation of the Vatican?  I'll go off on any number of tangents, but Paul Kirby has defined the musical sound of Secretary-General Hammarksjold (Dag)'s Markings.  I remember my parents having the book   My highlight from the performance text was about the personality, the assembly of random parts that become I.  (The quote is "This accidental meeting of possibilities calls itself I. I ask: what am I doing here? And, at once, this I becomes unreal.")

The palette of the musical spectrum is wide, yet it is all of a single composer and it builds to a spectacular cacophony as we arrive at the realization that the setting of the piece, this dream of a united Congo, will suffer an interruption.

The brilliant setting for text (Adapted by William Marx), and then the intimate details of finding comfort in a foreign room (as directed by Lissa Moira), help lend context to the segments of the book that make up the entirety of the script, with a narrator (David Zen Mansley) guiding us through.
There are two acts, consisting of the two parts of the night, PM and AM, and there is complete darkness to separate the two acts for Dag to have a short sleep in his borrowed room.

The room itself is well used.  There (at the Lutheran Church that hosted the performance) is a background of organ pipes lit by various colors, including florescence.  The front of the stage represents borrowed accommodations.  We're in 1961, the evening of September 17 into the 18th.  The place where Dag is spending the night is the office of the Officer in Charge of the United Operations in Congo, located in Leopoldville (currently Kinshasa.  His name is Sture Linner.

Dag has had a stressful flight to get to the Congo, to be followed by another flight in the early morning to get to a meeting scheduled with Moise Tshombe, the leader of the Congo revolution,.  Mr. Tshombe is seeking Katango province independence, and may not even attend. 

This is Dag Hammarskjold's last act as Secretary General.

The historical context of this piece was unknown to me.  I'm aware that King Leopold made the Congo a personal real estate investment, independent of his rule of Belgium, and that private ownership granted him great freedom from oversight. 

As for Dag as UN Secretary General, he was preceded by Trygve Lie.  The current Secretary General, its 9th, is António Guterres, from Lisbon.

The memorably named Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali was from Egypt.  I had a roommate from France/Morocco who worked for him.

I'm also realizing that the instructor for the Music Theater Writers Workshop where Paul Kirby and I met (Richard Simson) also worked for the United Nations. 

Other audience members in attendance... Leonard Lehrman was there with Helene Williams, so were Ilsa Gilbert and Robert, also from the workshop.

We heard beautiful orchestral sounds, and songs that were remarkably delivered by a great young singer actor (James Parks), who simply transformed into the older man.  He sang low and high; his full register is remarkable and his tenor intensity cut through the sometimes loud accompaniment.  He has a challenge because there are rock moments in the score, in addition to a tango.  There was a lot of great music.  I want to hear it again.

"If you find them worth publishing, you have my permission to do so."  The writings referred to in the prior sentence, discovered in Dag Hammarskjold's New York apartment after his passing, became the book, Markings.  Using that book as the basis of this remarkable new composition, Paul Kirby draws worthy attention to its subject. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

By contemplating the toilet training of a puppy I am reminded of my own bed-wetting, into my 14th year, trained with two metal screens, one covered by a  pillow-slip cover, resting upon the other, both resting beneath me on the bed, connected electrically to an alarm.  The conductor through which the screens connect the current is
I'm even reminded of the expense,  Perhaps $345! and of a visitor explaining and selling with a house call this simple alarm, a folder of two pillow-sized metal screens connected to a blue box with a red light, resting beside me,
which quite simply....
Deep sleeping especially concerned me when I was at a friend's sleep-over.  For all our shared food eccentricities, I could never share this...
My thought at the time, perhaps even up until this blog moment if I cared to give it a thought, is one of mortification, but more importantly, one of general gratitude and admiration for the non-invasive effectiveness of this training.

Thanks to the research of my parents and their discovery of the above described invention, I am toilet trained today.


after writing this I became willing to talk about it, and before I described the bed-wetting cure, a friend described the exact same experience to me...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Why Did I Become a Lawyer?

On this surprise snow day I found a reminder of the answer to the question , Why Did I Become a Lawyer? in statements written to supplement my application to Columbia Law School's Juris Doctor Program in March, 1982 for admission in September, 1982.

I ultimately, for 4 years, attended St. John’s Law School as a night student from 1982 to1986 while continuing to work... at the Comptroller's Office.  I was admitted to the NY Bar in March 1987.

Question 16. (Has there been or will there be an interruption of school attendance for more than five months during the time between graduation from high school and enrollment in Law school.  
If yes, please attach a statement explaining the reasons for any interruptions and describing your activities during those times.)   

An interruption in school attendance began in January, 1981 when I graduated from Queens College with majors in both Music and English and a minor in Philosophy.  That interruption continues on into the present day as I am currently employed full-time at the City Comptroller’s Office in Financial Analysis, a division that produces a monthly cash flow projection and analyses financial date to evaluate City spending plans.  Its Bureau Chief, Dan Rosen, is Assistant Comptroller.  My title is office Aide, which means I do anything from stocking the supply cabinet to decorating the Christmas Tree.   Mostly, though, I type and proofread reports, often for press release and publication.  I submitted a resume for a summer job and was placed here on June 15, 1981.  Prior to that date I was at work on a novel that I began writing several years ago and that weighed heavy on my mind – it is called Stormcloud.  I was also busy pursuing a renaissance in songwriting that was to escape me for a time.  Songwriting is an area of expression where I have found immense personal satisfaction as well as an effective means of compressed communication with a large crowd of people.  However, after five months, many songs were still to be written and my novel remained unfinished.  Fortunately for my well-being, steady employment was to follow.

Other activities during the restful months from January to June included teaching private piano lessons (I had and still have five good students), writing arts criticisms (usually one a week) for the college newspaper, Phoenix, and participating as a member of the Bench and Bar Law Club in moot courts where I and a partner researched and argued famous cases.  I was also involved with a band, “Equal Temperament,” which performed rigorously composed music to the commands of a conductor at such esoteric havens as Inroads and the Columbia radio station, WKCR.  Another activity which I found sensually invigorating was doing camera work for videotaped versions of plays and revues (school plays, piano recitals, cabaret entertainments, parties and talent agency showcases).  But, as mentioned, my work on Stormcloud – that novel I had hanging over my head, and on my songs, was at a low.  I was writing and composing more while taking nineteen credits and working nights at the school library.  It was not until after I became employed that I valued my time enough to complete the novel and begin a new cycle of songs.    Now, my creative work, no longer forced by leisure time, has reverted back to a therapeutic necessity and I am ready to broaden my mental horizons to include the study of law.  I am intelligent, and the more pressure and responsibility I have, the more I get done.  I look forward to accepting the challenge offered by Columbia Law School. 

Separate Statement to Question 20, "You may wish to attach a separate statement describing any circumstances the knowledge of which you think would be helpful to the law school in acting on your application, such as reasons for applying, personal experiences, background talents and factors, or any matters tending to indicate why your application should be favorably considered.   Are you attaching a separate statement?  

As I hope to have demonstrated in my answer to Question 16, I have a great deal of ability and energy which wants to be challenged and needs to be channeled into an exacting field.  I have chosen law because it involves the study of a complete and thorough way of thinking which not only sharpens the analytic skills of the mind but has a broader "extroverting" application to people and society; and I have chosen Columbia’s Law School because I have heard it renowned for its philosophically oriented, universally applicable approach to that study (Also, Columbia is in New York City which remains the center of my universe.).

My unique course of study at Queens, with its slant on the arts, provides an excellent background for the study of law.  In music I excelled in theory and analysis.  In English, my most insightful papers were those of comparative research. In the Humanities program I was required
And the Queens College Humanities program provided a liberal arts survey of western culture with a stress on political philosophy from Plato and Aristotle to Marx and Engels.  It required its humanities students to take 48
It assigned its student to a total of 48 credits of classes
And that's how it ends.  

Also listed is my summer employment:  6/81-? NYC Comptroller Office Aide
7-9/76-80 NYC Dept. of Trans. College Aide, 6-9/75-80 Candlewood Isle Ass. Film Programmer, 7-9/75 B'nai Torah Field Worker

Sorry this is simply a transcription but it says something about a condition which simply always existed, which I see as a tendency to lose interest in myself...OK, keep going... It's not a bad idea, it's a good idea... to maintain an "up" attitude. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

With cacao as my hot chocolate I'm writing about today, where we found that a double feature of gallery exhibits exists here in New York, at the Breuer and the Guggenheim.  First it's good to report that the old Whitney is the Breuer, curated through the Met to keep the Old Whitney Americana alive. (Breuer designed the building in the Bauhaus style?) The Breuer exhibit has solo artist Kerry James Marshall, filling two floors with his own, and his selections from Met, art.  His is the double feature's black exhibit.  At first I thought he depicted Nigerians in American settings but he is choosing black as a skin color shade, while Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim, chose, as her canvas shade, white.
Marshall sets against a black base light reflected outlines of expression and detail, upon a large canvas composition informed by art history.  The work is representational, often realistic, completed majestically, and then, by glitter or paint, scorched and graffiti'ed.  Ms. Martin's designs are more like beautiful handkerchief designs, although I suppose there is no limit to the depth or height of appreciation they offer.
We began the Breuer visit with Diane Arbus, impressing me with her printing.  She so clearly focused on the 400 tri-x grain in the negative as she took the photo twice, first through the camera, and second through the enlarger. Is the work's content soul-less or simply random chance re-defined as perfection?  The photo of two children, "one teasing the other" is the caption, was my highlight.  She also redefines rectangular composition, again because there is a natural order in the universe.  She is a documentarian of her time; the value of her work increasing the more of the past it becomes.  (The photographer takes the picture twice, once in the camera and once in the darkroom.)
The Breuer's top floor was filled with the oddly familiar territory of Paul Klee humor, a humor which continued into the end of his life.
When we visited the Guggenheim, which does resemble a toilet bowl in a spiral flush, I had to go to the bathroom, so we went in.  This is where the gold toilet is currently on display, as well as works by 6 Chinese artists in the offshoot rooms (am I mistaken to see frustration in the actions of a robot gathering an ever seeping away red liquid?  Yes.), with Ms. Martin's art a solo show in the spiral.
Next we met friends at the Central Booking Art Space at 21 Ludlow Street, where the exhibits included books, African explorers (in harm's way) and Ornament, small pieces.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Humans are part of a greater force of nature, and we isolate ourselves from it, because we want to live among each other, our people.   The bigger picture is dangerous.  In addition to, what, garbage pick-up and sewer service? our governing bodies protect us from it.

We're safer living vertically, one box atop another, but "Bulb" returns us to the garden and throws us in as participants, joining the other pollinators, although our controlling husbandry tends toward the clip and clone approach.   "The imposition of our will upon nature's will is part of nature's will."

While the gardeners plan to follow the advice of their brokers to move their bulbs to softer ground, they eat a sleep inducing bulb and fall asleep, tranquilized.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Keeping dark is HATEFUL a Draft from December 2015

Before there was Quentin Tarrantino's Hateful Eight there was Robert Aldrich's The Dirty Dozen.

As the Hateful Eight went rolling along toward its intermission I thought I saw a shift in genre from John Ford's Stage Coach western to Agatha Christie's locked house mystery, and I was excited by that.

After 12 minutes running around the East 12th Street City Cinema maze during intermission (an architectural mystery of the now and forever Yiddish Theater), I returned to my seat and watched the final chapters unfold, saw the script roll forward by time-shifting back to reveal events from a different perspective.  By the end all I could think of was Ma Grisham in that other Robert Aldrich movie, The Grisholm Gang, and that Walter Goggins looks like Kenneth Anger.

Waking up the next morning I am left with a mixture of dreams of additional scenes for the claustrophobic movie. I'm pretty sure there was no nuclear device detonated in a movie theater by the clown man, whose delivery resembled the tour guide delivery of the death proof aukland visitor (Rose McGowan?  no it's Zoë Bell, I think... I have no memory of why I wrote this paragraph)..

I suggest that the movie could be even more meta by showing the cast arriving at the theater for the opening. And though a movie is fixed in time, perhaps next time it runs Bruce Dern can answer Samuel Jackson by saying, "I don't see anything.  It's you who is visualizing your description.  I'm not following..." falling asleep instead of becoming predictably activated.

Ennio Morricone's score has some low register bassoon that is great.  His other credits include the Mario Caiano horror movie,The Faceless Monster, and a movie called Bugsy, as well as the things he's famous for... .

The Hateful Eight is a carefully assembled chess game.  I imagine I will fragments of it again on cable and will enjoy it more in snippets because it is so artfully plotted and so well acted and so well framed around beautiful characters (such as Ma Grisholm).  Oh, I want to acknowledge Jennifer Jason Leigh's great work in general.  As always I base my blanket statement on having seen her in another movie, Ulu Grosbard's Georgia.

I also want to acknowledge the necessity of using reversal film for images of snow.

Right now I'm trying to resolve the resemblance between the movie and the dreams that followed.   Is the last chapter actually called black man white hell?  And does the sudden narration draw from Mark Madsen's journal?

As the remaining two guys string up Ms. Leigh in the most meaningless hanging ever, while they lie dying, coupled on the bed, I realized the arbitrary nature of the entirety of the prior 7 movies.

Whether it's the third reich or the belle south, or misshapen expressions of love as control, we're activated, but no longer because this movie is the key and the cure.

Now back to long term contributions to cinema... I think, as they may be found in Steven Spielberg's road movie, Duel, we'll find them in the Tarrantino road movie, Death Proof, (particularly in the overhead shot of the rain?  I'm not justifying my suggestion here.... however...)

There is a distinct narrative in Death Proof.  It's divided in two parts.  Some terribly shocking thing happens the first time, we go on the same trail a second time, with some kind of more satisfactory vengeful outcome.

Or in the case of Run Lola Run, we go down the same path several times until we get it right...
Psycho takes us down the path twice.  Follow the path of Janet Leigh for part 2.  Going down the same path twice also happens in Horror Hotel/City of the Dead, and in the Vanishing... I think....
In Death Proof we follow the path of another time with a cleverer group of gearheads, making the advice Serge Gainsborough gives in his song, give up the chick habit, as the credits roll, somehow supported by the denouement.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Question of Solitude, some back story....

In A Question of Solitude there are verbatim re-enactments.  A nurse (Mortimer?) really did leave a message on my apartment phone, which I promptly returned.  She was asking if I was related to, and could therefore consent to treatment for, Peter Dizozza, my long lost uncle, who was hospitalized in Houston for stress fractures from a sidewalk fall.

My father's youngest brother, a red head who had been named after their own father, my grandfather, Peter Dizozza, was living at the Coach Motel, an SRO near Hobby airport, and he wanted to go home.  Nurse Mortimer did not advise that, however.   She said he was well funded and asked if I would approve extended rehabilitation in a nursing home (where he was to die... he refused to eat so they inserted a stomach tube.)

While I was there visiting him some months later, yes, as in the Q of S script, he asked for "a hamburger, make that two."   By the time of my visit to the nursing home I was writing A Question of Solitude, so when we left him we went to The Gulf Greyhound Park to watch the dog races.   I was accompanied, thank you, Kim, by Kim who did accompany me nto the nursing home.  She stayed for many seconds prior to my uncle turning to her and saying several times, actually, "I want to eat your face."  I suppose you could say he sounded crazy when he said that.  What happened to his records?  Why was he well-funded?  Why had he been on disability all these years?  I think I know why, but no the records were lost..  Only the funding was there.

The departure from Gulf Greyhound Park that ends A Question of Solitude's Act 1, includes the favorite dialogue from the Peter Sellars Casino Royale ("What are your movements for the rest of the evening Mr. Bond?"  "I thought we'd get a late dinner, go back to the hotel and turn in for the night.".. something like that...).  It also depicts my understanding, honestly, of what I determined was the murder of my grandmother at the age of 100 years and 97 days...

Seriously, the undertaker let me examine her body.  There were no bruises, not on the hands or anywhere, except of course the single blow to the left aorta that opened up the cable of blood to the brain, which, when cut, filled the skull and herniated the brain into the brain stem, not a bad way to go in 7 hours.  In her lifetime she had no downtime other than that.

My grandmother within the first 30 minutes of this blow needed an emergency craniotomy... so she's found in her 68-37 Yellowstone Boulevard hall, my mother found her, in a pool of blood, only from that single bruise... if you don't act fast it kills anyone.

Just briefly, at 1PM Tuesday, June 20th, 2005 my grandmother lay on the floor of the first floor hallway leading from steps to the elevator.  She always took the stairs from her second floor apartment.  She and her husband  had lived there since these president apartments were built.  She had to slip back and cut the lower left back of her neck on the edge of a step, then move to the middle of the hallway... and there was no blood from the steps to the place where my mother found her.

Look my mother is dead, too, amazingly going through the same manner of passing because a stroke and an infusion of blood thinner created the same problem in the bruised area from a clot of the aorta leading to the brain.  Yes, the doctors managed to squeeze in a craniotomy procedure at a rather late stage in her treatment, this over the course of 12 days, Monday, February 28th to the morning of Saturday, March 12th, 2011 when she passed away.)

I acknowledge that other examples of the slow coma/death from impact to the back of head are clearly accidents.   A boy sliding into home base, a woman resting from a fall at a ski lodge.... there's a gradual loss of consciousness.   They needed an emergency craniotomy.

So in A Question of Solitude at the Gulf Greyhound Park entrance, after they win big, Jimmie awaits Fremda, who went looking for her daughter.  A valet brings them her Nissan Mazima.  The Valet, one of Blofield's lacky's, clearly strikes James in the lower left back of the neck.  He continues speaking until he falls.. this was rather amazingly performed by Zach Pethoud and Mike Allen Hill.   Mike is definitive in the role of the Young James Bond.

Then a misfiring of Blofield's new heart tempers his exuberance, so he needs to return to his hospital for an emergency transplant..

Act Two opens with the two bond girls (Mortimer and Fremda) performing upon the younger James an emergency craniotomy, using one of those manual crank drills creating the perfect sound of surgery.

The young James Bond is saved, and he has the added benefit of a plug in the back of his head so he can release future pressure therein.  Unfortunately the bond girl, Fremda, holds the key that can open that pressure plug....

So there are three James Bonds in a Question of Solitude, Senior Bond, Uncle James, and Jimmy, because there are three Peter Dizozzas, me, my uncle and my grandfather.

Anything else?  There's a line in an old song, Trailing, "She's sunning at a dog race, where dogs are killed if they catch what makes them run,"

That's true because it's just a mechanical rabbit whipping around the race track.  It's really nothing for the dogs to get excited about and, when they realize that, they let it go by without chasing it.

The artist, Faith Palmer-Persen, took me to a kennel where we met and helped care for (during one afternoon) some of the rescued ones..

So the last line of A Question of Solitude is "No one leaves here without taking home a retired greyhound."
Jimmy:  Return to Goldeneye!
Fremda:  And guess who is waiting for us there?
J:  Who?
F: Suzie?
J: Who's Suzie?
F: My daughter.
J: Who's been taking care of her?
F: The bachelor next door,
J: Noel Coward?

George Ferencz, who helped develop this project at La Mama, helped me discover that Ian Fleming wrote less about James Bond, who is, after all, the orithologist who wrote The Wild Birds of Jamaica, than on cataloging species of birds, fish and plants...