Loosening

As the caffeine began to nudge my neurons into relectant action this morning (wake up, you lazy bastards!), I started the day as I do most Sundays, and slowly focused on the New York Times Sunday Week in Review section, which is where the editorials are published on the weekend, and my attention was drew to Nicholas D. Kristof’s colum “Drugs Won the War.”

It was a reasonably phrased piece recapping stuff I already knew: that Ronald Reagan’s “War on Drugs” never worked, drugs were easier to obtain and cheaper than ever, and drug profits were fueling terrorism and corruption in Afghanistan, Mexico, Colombia, and other countries (including the United States), and that the only way to really get a handle on the issue was decriminalization or some form of drug legalization. Over the years, I’ve researched the issue fairly extensively, partly because I wrote a play on the subject called “Altered States of America” (which put forth the modest proposal that drugs should be made available through state-run outlets to adults who passed a drug education program and could purchase reasonable, non-addictive amounts of drugs through a ration card; note producers: the play went on to be nominated for an Oregon Book Award).

Plus I’ve been hearing whisperings on the subject of late, and Obama’s choice of “drug czar,” the former police chief of Seattle (whose name I can’t spell and I’m too lazy to look up right now) has suggested a “harm reduction” model where drug treatment is favored over arrest. So it didn’t seem like a big deal. I thought, oh, that’s interesting, and went on to read Frank Rich’s column, which more or less echoed my Frankenstein piece on Right-wing nutjobs.

But then the appropriate synapse finally flickered, and I went: wait a second. I just read a pro-legalization/decriminalization piece in the largest paper in the U.S. by a staff editorial writer, not some outside writer hired for the piece. Did I really? What?

Yes, I did. You can read it at:

Drugs Won the War

But the most remarkable part seemed to be that the whole thing seemed entirely prosaic, and maybe a little boring. Kind of a “duh” moment. It’ll be interesting to see reactions to Kristof’s piece, whether it comes and goes as so many of these articles do or opens a dialogue, but it does seem like a vague ray of light. If anything happens, it probably wouldn’t be until Obama’s second term, but…you never know. If the guy actally pulls off revamping the health care system, anything is possible.

Anyway, it makes for good reading, especially if you’re not well-versed in the twisted history of America and drugs.

Coming Apart

The phrase “coming apart” is one of the most elegant oxymorons in the English language, and it perfectly describes what’s happening to this country’s right wing.

For the longest time, the Right’s been operating under George Orwell’s Rules of Order, selling war as peace, love as hate, fear as strength, etc. What happened last November is that a moderate/left politician got elected not only because he said “well, that’s all just silly bullshit” but because he offered an alternative. These things take awhile, but the bill finally came due for lying about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Plain and simple.

Now, the Right Wing (which is to say the mainstream of the Republican party because they’ve purged their “Main Street moderates”) has nothing. Tax cuts are no longer the panacea for every economic problem. War is no longer the solution to every foreign policy issue. Their leaders are repulsive or foolish or hypocrites or plainly lying (and some are all of the above), and suddenly they have to own their lunatics. When George W. Bush was riding high in his flight suit and had over 50% of the public on his side, nobody paid much attention to some of the deeply disturbed people who glom onto the racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic, practically phobophobic tendencies of the Right, which operates pretty much by pulling people together by frightening them with enemies drawn from the shadow of the collective unconscious. But now that polls have only some 28% of the population identifying themselves as Republicans (which means they’ve pretty much lost all the independents), that poisonously crazy 5% of the Right, which in the past has found common cause with neo-Nazis, white supremacists, John Birchers, and survivalists, makes up a larger proportion of the party, and the Republicans are terrified.

Poetic irony, no?

Which is why we’re being treated today to the spectacle of conservative talk show gasbags attempting to portray…wait for it…Nazis as leftists. That’s the only way they can deal with the fact that a white supremacist, neo-Nazi, anti-Semite walked into the Holocaust museum and blew away an African-American security guard. Because Hitler was really a leftist. And war is peace. And hate is love. And, don’t forget, fear is strength.

Which is why the Right Wing is so incredibly strong. All 28% of them. Excepting the 5% who are certifiably out of their minds.

Speaking to the Right: You built the monster, you bastards. It’s yours. Own it.

Pussies.

And, uh…fuck you. Also.

I mean, hey. What’s the big deal? What are you afraid of?

ACHTUNG!

If you’re a playwright or care about the birth and life of new plays, you HAVE to read the recent posts at Parabasis. Check it out….

here

Here’s some of the meat:

Theaters:

–Consider themselves one flop away from folding

The following statistics are self-reported, and are probably somewhat skewed due to the selection-bias of the survey (i.e. they only surveyed theaters that produced new plays):
— New plays account for 45.6% of offerings on our stages
— 23.8% are world premieres
— Fewer than 2 shows a season are 2nd productions

–Prevalent emphasis on world premieres are helping to strangle the new play system

–1 in 5 theaters regularly seek new plays that have already premiered

–As a result: the writer/agent want to get as big a world premiere as possible if they want the play to have a future life. This drives them back into the big institutions that they find problematic in the first place

–Culturally specific theaters have to compete with large theaters for multi-cultural grants and frequently become “farm teams” for the artists who will be included in the “multi-cultural” slot at larger theaters

–Expectations have been downsized. Small spaces, small casts.

ACCESS:
–How do plays move through theaters? How do good theaters shepherd this process?

–Lack of Artistic Director access is frequently discussed. It is playwrights’ biggest perceived problem

–Pass-blocking of admin staff, particularly lit depts.

–Most ADs agree that access is the key… so… “how can writers + ADs build relationships?”

–How much do agents help? (this part is tricky, data-wise, i’m gonna try to get it right):
-62% of playwrights had at least 1 play produced from direct submission to theater.
-83% have had 0-1 produced from agent submission
-Only roughly 5 agents are well regarded

–55% of playwrights think formal difficulty is the thing that is most likely to sink their plays

–ADs, on the other hand, rank cost and production demands as highest factor

–“Everyone wants the same 10-20 playwrights, and those writers are backed up with commissions”

Axe of Kindness

Last August, I was deep in the process of writing Bluer Than Midnight, a weird, noir-insprired two-act about The Blues, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Afterlife (no, really), when, taken with a wild notion, I went and bought a guitar because I figured, well, how can you write about the Blues from the inside without trying to play it? A quaint notion, but still….

Anyway, after a year of struggling with my Strat, I finally managed, this weekend, to play a Blues song above my usual profound level of lameness such that I enjoyed myself. It’s “You Gotta Move,” a Fred McDowell tune that the Stones covered on “Sticky Fingers.” I’d looked up the tabs on the Internet, but the key was a challenging one for me, so I actually, honest-to-God transposed it to a key I could play (that’s “A” boys and girls), and the pieces came together. Plus, the song’s within my extensive, five-note vocal range; so I could actually sing the goddamn thing without hellishly embarassing myself.

Afterwards, I kind of sat back in a fugue state, my left hand aching like hell because I ended up playing it nonstop for about a half-hour, and thought: “Damn…I really did it. I’ll be go to hell. I feel incredibly high.”

And then I tried to play something else and was immediately humbled.

The play’s more or less finished until it goes on to the next stage–a workshop or public reading–and I’m happy with it and looking forward to seeing where its journey next takes it. But whether it lives or dies, it’s given me a moment I’ll always remember.

Garden Report

A couple warm days of rain, including a spectacular thunder and lightning storm, and the garden’s essentially gone loco. Some plants have practically doubled in size in a couple days. Especially blown away by the black bamboo, which went from waist-height to over my head in three days. Had a few casualties from the storm–the big white peonies fell over, despite being staked, but they’re scenting the living room now with blooms six or seven inches across (with just a faint tracing of pink on the edges of the petals). I’ve had tremendous luck this year finding plants I was looking for, including the fantastic Verbena bonaresis (might have the spelling wrong there), which grows to four or five feet and then blooms with delicate, gauzy purple flowerheads. Purple haze, baby. Haven’t been able to find it the last couple years, and now it seems to be everywhere.

Also pleasantly surprised to find a couple plants that I thought I’d lost have not only come back but come back in strength, especially the Geranium psilostemon, which is another supposedly common variety that I havent been able to find for a bit. Snagged one last year and thought I’d lost it in summer’s heat. It forms a mound three or four feet high, and in summer it’s smothered with one to two inch magenta flowers with a black center. A couple Eryngiums I also thought I’d lost came back, which pleases me to no end because I kind of collect the weird little buggers, with their spiky, steel-blue flowers.

It’s going to be an amazing June. I expect to be taking a lot of pictures, especially since I’ve finally figured out the macro function on the G10. As with the rest of the camera, it’s brilliant. The shot above is Lady’s Mantle, which has a web of fine hairs on the leaves that cause rain to puddle up like sequins. A superb, simple plant with clusters of acid yellow flowers in summer.

S

Come Down and Get It


So I guess my question is, how wasted does one have to get to play this correctly:

VENTILATOR BLUES

Guitar 1 main riff
^
E————————
B————————
G——–0-0-X-3-X–0—0
D——–0-0-X-3-X–0-3-0
A——1—————–
E—3——————–

Optional Guitar 2 main riff
^
E———————————
B——————————–
G————–0—3—0——0–
D———-0—————3—–
A——1————————-
E—3—————————-

X = hit strings with right hand or heavy palm muting

^ = bend ½

Guitar 2 during chorus

Gm Bb F
Ain’t nobody slowing down no way
C (main riff) 2x
Everybody’s stepping on their accelerator
Gm Bb
Don’t matter where you are
F C
Everybody’s gonna need a ventilator

Main riff

Gm Bb F
Everybody walking ’round
C (main riff) 2x
Everybody trying to step on their Creator
Gm Bb F
Don’t matter where you are
(C)
Everybody, everybody gonna need

Guitar 1 Solo (coming soon)

Guitar 2 Main riff to end

Some kind of ventilator (randomly said to end)