Tag Archives: Arthur Miller

All My Sons-Part 3-December 2008

 I walk down to the Schoenfeld theater and try to go in but I’ve got over an hour to kill and they don’t open the doors yet, so the hipster guy at the ticket window tells me to go up to the 8th floor of the Marriot a half block away where I will find several lounges to have a drink and relax, so I thank him and take off, it’s been almost a hour since Starbucks while I walked around trying to memorize streets and landmarks. Soon I arrive at the beautiful hotel I go in through the doors and start the long ride up the escalators, many people are here since there is also several theaters here as well as shops and restaurants. The well to do and the tourists rub elbows here at the bar and in the seating areas, I pass a Sushi Bar, Starbucks, and a souvenir shop and at last settle down in the Broadway Lounge, for a few rum and cokes, I make a phone call or two while I wait. The piano player on the other side of the room is playing top ten hits, easy work if you can get it I guess, at least he doesn’t ham it up the way alot of these guys do-at least in movies and TV. I like it here, I could easily come here  often and eat, drink, and maybe pick myself up a rich widow among the lounge lizards that probably reveal themselves after the theater crowd runs off to see the shows down the block. That reminds me…soon it’s time to go.

  The Gerald Schoenfeld Theater is located at 236 West 45th St and was formerly called the PlymouthTheater in 1918 when the Schubert brothers completed the construction, and it was designated a New York City landmark in 1987. It’s a beautiful old theater typical of old New York, richly carpeted and at over a thousand seats it’s a little cramped when you sit down. I take a look at the stage set and write, occasionally getting up to let late comers pass by, the stage is simple. A grass mat covers the floor with a small tree stage right. The entire backdrop is made to look like the big old back of a barn or large house, a screen door in the center leading inside.  There are fences and gates stage left and right used to separate the houses and occupants and give the feeling of a neighborhood. There is a porch in front of the back wall and great use will be made of this wall to show images associated with the memories of the characters. It gives the scenes a tremendous power that would not be there without it.

 The play is powerful and acted with great courage and energy by the cast, of course John lithgow is stellar as Joe Keller and Diane Wiest is shattering as his long suffering wife. Patrick Wilson gives a commanding performance as Chris Keller, the youngest son of Joe & Kate, and Katie Holmes makes an auspicious debut as Ann, Chris’s dead brothers former fiancee. But I think Damian Young gives a solid performance and is very supportive as Dr. Jim Bayliss, the man who lives next door and knows much without saying. The piece is passionately acted, a family perpetually in crisis, trying to go on without letting go of the past. It is tense and at times uncomfortable. There is a feeling of shared sorrow which must be hidden by denial, it is the denial though that makes us desperate to pretend it’s not really there, and therein lies the tragedy. I wrote that at intermission so I won’t give the end of the play away, I think I have a good insight after attending a few plays in my day. I guess I didn’t love this play like others I’ve seen but it was a huge experience and I’m glad I spent the money and time to see it. I went to the loo afterwards so I missed getting a good spot at the stage door, but I got an arms length autograph from John Lithgow and got a photo of Katie Holmes and her new baby, very cute as she left quickly because of the cold. It was a powerful play…one I won’t soon forget . I make my way to Penn Station, a short walk on a cold night.

 The ride home was loud, a bunch of young people are in the car, a girl across the aisle complains to her friends about how she is treated at home, I wish I could talk to her, give her some of my hard won knowledge. She’s fighting a losing battle but doesn’t know it yet, she needs to know that people aren’t going to change, you have to change without giving yourself away. I keep quiet and listen, sipping at a bottle of Stella Artois and relax, I’m a little worn out….I think about 2009 and what it might bring and remember the good times of this year and try to put it all into perspective as the train rhythmically moves bringing me closer to home.
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Filed under Arthur Miller, New York City, Off Broadway, Plays, Theater, Theatre

All My Sons-Part 2-December 2008

 I start out on the East Village and begin walking west to my destination, the streets are crowded with people despite the cold weather, I see many cute girls with red noses walk by (I always thought girls looked very cute with red noses) and it’s windy, a bone chilling cold. So of course everyone has the same look on their face and the silent glances with passersby say it all…what the heck is all this cold?

 I finally arrive at my place dujuor. AOC is on Bleeker St just off Grove St the letters stand for “Appellation d’origine controle’e”, which is the French for “controlled term of origin” a certification for certain geographical indications for wine, cheese, dairy, etc. I go in and am seated quickly, this is a typical old village eatery, creaking old wood floors, wainscot walls, overly decorated with framed posters and small paintings of French country homes a such. I find myself soon refreshed by Jasmine tea, I order  Mussel Saffron soup to start, a delicious puree of squash, mussels and spices, it is creamy good, the mussel tastes like the sea and warms my frozen body from the inside out! 

 While I enjoy my soup I scan the room, a table of six guys is wrapping up their meals,  haggling over the check and who got what, so who owes more…ad nausea. Who cares!… each pay your share and leave happy. Well after a while I see that the fuss is because they were three couples on dates, that’s why the split on the check was important, this is the Village-you aren’t in Kansas anymore when you come here Toto.

 But hey I don’t mind same sex couples, as I get older the only thing that I see that matters is finding and keeping love, and both of those things are very hard to do.

 My main dish arrives… a Cassoulet Toulousain, a casserole of white beans, tomatoes, duck leg, garlic lamb sausage, summer sausage, and pork all topped with bread crumbs and baked. It is delicious but a little dry, I would have liked it less oven cooked but the lamb sausage is extraordinary as is the duck, which is rich without being gamy and the pork  is slightly pink and juicy, I enjoy a glass of house red while I eat and listen to the table of people by the window.

 They seem to be a group of British students, they sound like acting students except for one girl who seems to be a writer, she rips into a guy that just left the table  from A to Z, he did this and he bailed out on so and so, on and on she went…I was amazed at how my story on WordPress”To Be A Wannabee – That Is The ?” where I mention how people always tear down the absent friend came to life right before my eyes, minutes earlier he was sitting talking and laughing with them and nobody treated him like they were mad, human behavior…bad as usual, but I guess that’s why they call it acting.

  When my check comes (brought to me by the manager) I am dismayed to find out they only take Amex, which I don’t have, he walks away not wanting to deal with me so I spend a couple of anxious minutes wondering what to do. My waiter comes, tells me to go down the street to get cash and come back. So I do just that, pay my check and go off to my theater district destination feeling a little stupid and naive, I guess I should have read the whole page of their website on Menupages.com so that I would have seen (which I did later at home) that they only take Amex… I could have gone someplace else.

 But I try to forget it and find a subway uptown to locate a Starbucks where I can charge my phone and  grab a quick cup of coffee which I find after walking around 42nd St, the area is alive with folks going to shows and restaurants. I take a photo of Smith’s Bar and some shops lit up nicely for Xmas so eventually I find a Starbucks about a half block from the theater where I sit,  charge my phone and write while a procession of cold people come and go, families and couples, harassed from shopping drag in with packages for some hot refreshment.

 I’m sitting at a table with one of the workers for the Times Square Alliance, the people that try to keep the place clean for us to enjoy, he is a big black guy with the TSA logo on his orange polar suit he talks to various people on his cell phone. He’s cool, I like the way he talks to people on his cell, he probably could do voice over work on radio or TV or even be in movies…I wonder if he ever thought about it? He sips his Tazo mint tea and says “Riiight” drawing it out as he listens to the person on the other end of the phone tell a story. My mood is lifting a little now as I warm up and relax, I’m a little worn out from the oral surgery I had this week on two teeth and I didn’t take any time off afterwards-tomorrow I have to rest. When my table mate starts to leave, I stop him and tell him that I am writing about him and I read what you just read about him, he seems not to believe me at first but after I read it to him he is pleased, I hope  he takes my advice and try to get some work in commercials.

 Before I know it another man comes in and asks me if he can sit down, I agree, he’s walking with a cane and is not well dressed for the weather, he asks me where I’m from and starts telling me his life story. He is Spanish, Hungarian, French Canadian and was adopted, he grew up well to do upstate New York but soon had to go live with an aunt in Maspeth, he didn’t say why. The aunt was very religious, he went to college for human services and has worked as a prep chef, line cook, landscaper, ships machinist, etc. We talk about life and love and the economy, he tells me that all you need is a little faith and things will get better, we agree that maybe Obama might turn things around, then as we both prepare to leave…he asks me for a dollar. He’s either homeless (although he doesn’t smell bad at all) or he’s a veteran outpatient from the hospital nearby. It’s at times like this that I wonder, am I being tested by God or being played by a con/homeless guy. I give him the dollar- just in case, and he goes to the counter to get a snack and I leave and begin walking to the theater.
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All My Sons-Part 1-December 2008

  I’m standing inside the platform waiting room of the Long Island Railroad, as you might have guessed by now, it’s very cold and windy and the small room is pretty packed. There is a large contingent of Asian’s here, they seem to be disabled and are being overseen by a few folks, probably a church group. The group leaders are looking after everyone and one nervous young man in particular counts heads over and over again, maybe it’s his first big assignment. We board the train and I score myself a window seat and take out my pad to begin writing. The nervous church leader seats his people and counts heads again, he is really working hard. Then he passes out chopsticks and starts passing out long styrofoam boxes of food before sitting down next to me and opening one up for himself. He has way too many of these, I guess some people didn’t want any. But he opens his and starts to eat, it’s vegetable sushi and the large rolls are cut into about eight pieces. This is an express train so we stop only twice before getting into Penn Station, a cool thing because I’m a little hot now in my overcoat and there’s no room for me to get up without disturbing this guy’s meal.

 I’m going to see the Arthur Miller play “All My Sons” at the Schoenfeld Theatre tonight but my first destination will be Prune, an East Village landmark for the downscale hipsters but also an upscale place for dinner where I saw Anthony Bourdain eat on his hit show “No Reservations” a year ago. Tony ate upstairs in the kitchen where only chefs are allowed to eat, probably because many of us wouldn’t want to eat what’s served out of fear or culinary knowledge. Thank God the brunch menu is not so scary as that!, I’m really looking forward to this meal. My seat companion is on his second boat of sushi, that’s sixteen pieces and counting folks. The day is bright and mostly clear, I’m warm now so I take off my scarf, hat and open my coat up a little to cool off. This guy next to me is up to twenty four pieces of sushi!, I mean he’s thin…how is he doin it?

 There’s a young guy behind me talking on his cell phone in low, obviously educated hipster tones. He’s talking about snopes.com mentioning an accident of some sorts, he asks the person on the other end if their bone was broken or pulverized, (nice choice of words genius) I think as we roll on into Jamaica Station and then off again.

 When I arrive in Penn Station I waste no time in going topside to seize the day in New York, enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. There are scores of people walking about as I try to get my bearings and figure out where I need to go. But it’s too cold to do a walkabout, right now at least, so I go down to the subway and take the seven train across to the six downtown, there are alot of people here in the tunnels waiting for a train. Families are just starting to shop for Xmas and the kids are fussing and crying over something already. So many people are shopping today, and it’s not even black friday yet! Makes you wonder where people are getting the money to spend in a bad economic environemnt as ours. Thanks all of you out there in Washington, you too in big business for messing things up, but don’t worry your pretty heads about it, the middle class will pick up the tab for you as usual, we always do… don’t we? Yes, of course we do, the only thing that matters is that you have all you need because God knows, rich people  need their money!

 But  there I wait, in an ever rising body temperature coupled with a growing urgency to relieve myself. Nearby a one man band plays bongos and cymbal and uses pre-recorded tapes to provide the missing band members. The music is temporarily drowned out by the rush of trains coming in, but not mine yet. The train roars out and he begins a different piece, a few minutes later the six train comes in and I get on with the throngs of people. But the trains are stacked and mine  has to go to fourteenth street.  Because of a jam up on the lines, (too many trains I guess) so off we go passing station after station in this underground time travel device we call a subway, I get off at Spring Street and have to double back and over but that’s okay.

 I find Prune easily, located on 54 E. 1St between 1st & 2nd Ave, it’s owner and head chef Gabrielle Hamilton presents with an eclectic menu of childhood memories mixed with favorites turned on their end with ingredients and flair. It is jammed, there’s a 1 1/2 hour wait to get in and by that time brunch will be over. I ask the attractive red headed  hostess if I can use the rest room, and since the upstairs one is occupied I’m allowed downstairs. I descend a spiral staircase, small steps made for a time long ago when people must have been smaller overall, and find myself standing in an anteroom out side the bathroom door, to my left is a kitchen door about three  feet away from a table of five waiting for their food! Down here in this small space is a table? But that’s how good it is here, every available square foot of table space is used for seating-it has to be! I use the loo and then go outside to wait for my spot with others hoping to get in. It’s sunny but cold, and growing colder and after about forty five minutes I decide to move on to my backup destination I begin walking toward Bleeker Street, to my backup eatery A O C.
Bon Nuit
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