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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.