NOT NEWS – Me, Above the Title

File_000Supposing that this blog has any organizing principal beyond being the soiled boxers of my random brainfarts, which supposition is facially unmerited, in my humble opinion, I would say that, besides being the byproduct of my trying, trying, trying to stay in the moment, it’s about finding clarity and satisfaction in a world that contains the very real possibility of there being no tomorrow, without either positive or negative fantasies of a future that no longer feels ahead of me (and that’s okay). Maybe it’s my near-death experience or my first wife’s actual-death experience or my happiness with Jolean, maybe it’s being retired, maybe it’s being 60.  In any case, that’s my commitment and in furtherance of said goal I am compelled to confess right here and right now that I have lived for 55 years, right up until this very moment, with the absolute expectation that there would come a day when all the people of the world with the intelligence to discern it would recognize me as the preeminent actor of my generation. Don’t ask me how. I don’t know. Discovered having a malt at Schwab’s, maybe. For 35 years I’ve answered the phone hoping that it was my friend Ken Slevin, the theatrical agent, saying, “I have a call here for a 5’10”, 190 pound blue-eyed bald Jew with glasses, a paunch and a knowing demeanor and I remembered how good you were in that student film Gompertz did in sophomore year so, naturally, I thought of you.” Whatever, from my first audition at five years of age for the part of Toto in the Deerkill Bungalow Colony 1961 production of “The Wizard of Oz”, I knew. All that insipid arfing and bow-wowing the other kids produced – my father, who, in those days, I took to be the funniest living being on the face of the planet had taught me authentic barking right alongside mama, dada and alleged – I knew I nailed it. I wore white footie pajamas with a brown spot pinned to it and a stocking my mother had braided for a tail and I hit my marks and I picked up my cues and I barked like my life forever would depend on it and during my curtain call the audience’s applause shook the above-ground foundations of the whole damn casino just like I knew it would. A partial CV: it’s 1962 and a nation overwraught with nuclear anxiety is crying for the restorative laughter that can only be provided by just one brave little boy performing impressions in Miss Jospey’s Second Grade Class Talent Show at the P.S.196 Annex (without exaggeration, David Leonard still speaks of my Jimmy Durante); a cavalcade of skits, co-written and performed with future Angeleno Jimmy Baron, offered to Mrs. Schwinger’s fifth grade class in lieu of written book reports; two times have I played the father of an ingenue significantly senior to me, once in the Camp Arcady production of “The Pajama Game” and once in the Camp White Meadow Lake “110 In the Shade”; I delivered what is still largely regarded as the definitive adolescent Nicely Nicely Johnson in The Forest Hills Jewish Center presentation of “Guys and Dolls”; I expanded my portfolio to include Ibsen with my stirring portrayal of Peer Gynt for an acting class I enrolled in during the eleventh year of working towards my undergraduate degree at NYU (I really bit the shit out of that onion – very moving); and then there are the twin triumphs of a two-hander from “The Country Girl” performed with future expatriate teacher Rosemary James (Rosemary, I’ve kept your secret!) and Ricky Romano’s opening monologue from “Glengarry Glen Ross” performed in the manner of Moe Grubman, both for Bill Hickey’s class at HB Studios in 1982, and, I swear to you, pound for pound, there was no other 26 year old thespian in the city, in the country, anywhere with more talent, more potential than I had before I entered law school. [NB that the above portrayals represent maybe one quarter of my repertoire.] Who born in 1955 could surpass me? Bruce Willis? That’s practically a gimme. I can act from a bed just as somnolently as Willis can and at half the ticket price. The awful truth is I can’t remember watching a theatrical or film or television production without churning with envy at the performers positions, without sitting there assessing “I couldn’t do that part” (most of the female roles), “I could do that part” or, most tragically, “I could have done that part if I had spent the last 35 years honing my craft instead of practicing law”. [Deep Reveal: at the most honest level, I am still hoping that the very act of posting this piece will motivate some drama type to make me an offer.] Because the awfulest awful truth is that my writing ambitions are no more than my acting ambitions wearing a lower risk, less homosexual, more respectable face and, as you can judge, my skills here have also suffered from too long a fallow period.

One Response to “NOT NEWS – Me, Above the Title”

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