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Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Strange experience yesterday: I posted a link and some info about Broadway Vampire (print version now available) on Broadway World. (I refuse to link to this site now.)  There was nothing offensive or obscene in the post. Within minutes, the post was deleted from the site

Normally, I would inquire as to what was wrong with the post. I’ve clicked this site off and on for 3 or 4 years. So I’m fairly familiar with what flies there, and this certainly seemed within the realm. However, I did not inquire.

Back at the time of the Obies, this same site ran a photo of me with Wendell Pierce, who I cast in the TV adaptation of my play Avenue Z Afternoon back in the early 1990s.  The photo had Wendell’s name in the caption but had the wrong name for me. When I contacted them (twice) and asked them to correct it, I was ignored.   

Now I’m starting to get paranoid. Does anyone out there know what’s going on? Doesn’t it seem that a book set in the contemporary Broadway theater scene, and that touches on 125 years of Broadway history, would be appropriate to post about on this site? I mean, there are posts about Glee. There are posts about True Blood. Why am I being censored? Any ideas? Anyone?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Amazon's KINDLE version first out of the chute

Today released the Kindle version of my novel Broadway Vampire. Give that it's the 21st Century, I suppose that is as it should be.

If you're a Kindle user, here's the URL:

The print version is coming soon! (Hopefully before I leave for Dublin.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

"Broadway Vampire" blog getting active

The back cover description of my novel is now posted on the Broadway Vampire blog. Advance copies of the complete book go on sale next week.  I'll be posting the prologue also next week, to whet some appetites.

Free 60 week serialization begins September 15, when I get back from Dublin.

Monday, August 16, 2010


So, today I get to talk about my buddy Brian Gormley's upcoming exhibits. In the beginning of September his work is being shown at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin.At the end of September he has an exhibit of his new paintings at Mindy Wyatt Gallery in Manhattan.

I saw the new work when Brian and I had lunch in Easton, PA recently. Afterward we drove down to his studio and home in upper Bucks County, PA. He is an amazing artist, one of the true geniuses I am fortunate to number among my good friends.

I held off on posting about seeing the work because Brian's website was still under construction. Now it is up and running, and well worth a click.

Lo and behold, I got a message on my Face Book page that Arthur Dworin, another abstract painter friend has also launched his new website this past weekend. Also well worth a click.

Oh yeah -- that picture. You'll be seeing it a lot! It's the cover image from my novel "Broadway Vampire". Chaz DeBourbon of designed the cover, and the book. I'm thrilled with the cover image. It so tells the story. But more about me and my novel on lots of other posts, for sure. Meanwhile check out Brian's work, put his opening(s) on your calendar. And check out Arthur's work on his website. Two fine painters launching new web pages on the same day. How often does that happen?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thoughts on Shakespeare and war

Tonight I watched the 1939 version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on DVD. Mickey Rooney as Puck is alone worth watching this cinematic adaptation of German director Max Reinhardt’s legendary Hollywood Bowl staging of Shakespeare’s classic comedy of mismatched lovers. Truly, though, the entire movie is magical (even if I did find myself wishing for a letterbox version at times)..

I’m not a fan of film versions of Shakespeare’s plays. They always leave me wanting, at best. Some have seemed downright stinkers to me. (On the other hand, I was thoroughly captivated by “Shakespeare in Love”.) However, this movie is the exception. It is flat out brilliant. Put it on your Netflix queue right now if you have never seen this work of genius.

The scenery, the costumes, the fairy dust in the forest -- Will himself would have been flabbergasted at this realization of his play, I'm sure. And the acting is so charming.

James Cagney as Bottom is most excellent. Joe E. Brown, my favorite comedian as a youngster, is outstanding. Dick Powell, Olivia de Havilland – a truly star-studded cast. The music is by Mendelssohn. The language is clear and understandable.

Now, I should say that the first Shakespearean production I ever saw, as a high school student on a field trip to McCarter Theater in Princeton – where my own first play was produced several years later – was “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Puck was played by a 6 foot-plus galumphing actor who fascinated me at the time, as I had read the play and expected something quite different.

I’ve seen several productions of this comedy in the ensuing decades – it and “The Tempest” are my favorites of the Bard’s plays, commoner that I am -- and always that first staging was the standard by which subsequent experiences of this play were measured. Now that has been displaced, and by a film no less. The live version must have been astounding.

Among the other terrible crimes against humanity that were engendered by the second world war, the thwarting of the greatness of German theater does not stand out for most people. But a film like this makes you wonder where the world of theater would have gone had not the travesty of war stifled those artists and forced them to work outside their own language.

Humanity deserves better than unending war. We deserve beauty.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Oh, what a Monday!

Well, I had plans to do all sorts of regular posting starting this week. It was going to be an elaborate schedule. Then, late last night, I got a call from the one and only JJ Deluxe. Somehow he came up with a spot for us to play at Musikfest 2010 in Bethlehem, PA.

It's going to be a bare bones version of Uke Jackson and the Ginseng Roots Band. Our female vocalist/whistler/tambourine/washboard/harmonica-player Ellen will be with us some of the time. I don't have all the details yet -- where, what time, and so forth.

I'll rendezvous with JJ and Ellen this evening and we'll play the gig. Tomorrow I'll post info about our location(s?) right here. Maybe even a photo.

Since I spent the summer focused on rewriting and polishing my novel Broadway Vampire, and rehearsing one night a week with various band members, I expended ZERO energy booking gigs. So this comes as a very welcome surprise. It's not a fancy stage gig -- just strolling and playing in the street, which suits me and this band just fine. That's what we're all about -- acoustic performance and you don't need tickets to see us!

Please check back tomorrow for more info. And I'll try and do some of the writing on the topics I had all picked out. Mondays -- love 'em or hate 'em, living through 'em is better than the alternative.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

IGNATZ PFEFFERCORN -- The Hot Pepper Jesuit

Today I told the doctor, "I'm 60 years old. I piss like a race horse and wake up every morning with a hard on, for which I'm very grateful. There's nothing wrong with me a thick stack of hundred dollar bills and a big bag of weed won't cure."

So, I must be feeling better. And I attribute this recovery, in no small part, to liberal doses of hot peppers – both fresh and in hot sauce – these last 2 days. Today, for lunch, I made a local omelet from eggs from chickens less than a half mile away, a plum tomato and a hot pepper and garlic and oregano flowers all from my garden. The onion was from the farmers’ market, and the olive oil from Italy. I made a side order of fried blue potatoes from Farmer Frank's Rolling Hills Farm. It was delicious.

After lunch I got to thinking about Ignatz Pfeffercorn, who I have dubbed in my mind as the hot pepper Jesuit. The good padre was a German sent to the high desert of Sonora in the mid-1700s.. There he became acquainted with the chiltepin pepper – a wild tiny red pepper that grows on bushes and is highly prized; so highly prized that in the 1980s these peppers were fetching $32 a pound in the southwestern USA.

Ignatz Pfeffercorn (what a perfect name for this story) recalled first discovering the chiltepin, sometimes called the bird pepper due to its size and popularity with our flying feathered friends, a quarter century later: “After the first mouthful the tears started to come. I could not say a word and believed I had hellfire in my mouth. . . . It is bitingly sharp yet it is manna to the American palate and is used in every dish with which it harmonizes.”

I learned all this from a chapter in Gary Paul Nabhan’s “Gathering the Desert” which Farmer Frank gave me to read. Farmer Frank (be sure to try his garlic vinegar, if it's available) has a potted chiltepin bush that I once cheekily asked him to leave to me in his will. It is flat out the most awesome hot pepper plant I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a few. The chapter is titled “For the Birds: The Red-Hot Mother of Chiles”. A bit of Farmer Frank’s marginalia describes the chiltepin as “the world’s hottest pepper”.

The fatali from Africa, the Scotch Bonnet from the Caribbean, and the habanero all have their adherents. Frank grows fatalis on his organic farm and now says they are the hottest. JJ Deluxe, bass sax player par excellence, music collaborator and the source of my hot pepper plants this year, grows both Scotch bonnet and habanero savinia. I’ve eaten them all. I've read Scoville scale rankings, but damned if I could tell you which is hotter simply by taste. The Scoville rating on Wikipedia lists the chiltepin in a grouping of the fifth hottest peppers.

While looking up all this for this blog post, I discovered the name of the bhut jolokia – which is apparently accepted as the hottest pepper on the planet. I never heard of it before. But you can be sure the next time JJ and I are practicing (available for bookings from New York City to Philadelphia -- with a female vocalist/whistler! – please contact me for info) we’ll be discussing where to get some Indian seed for next year’s crop.

Meanwhile, I learned something while re-reading the chapter in Nabhan’s book after lunch – chiltepins can be grown quite successfully from cuttings from a mature plant. Don't know how this slipped past me the first time I read it. I’m sure Farmer Frank’s plant is one of the most mature to be found outside the wild. So, I called him immediately and asked if he would mind me taking a cutting to root and start. He was totally amenable to the idea. I'm going out to visit him tomorrow.

Life is good. I'm feeling great!

Monday, August 2, 2010


No. Not one of my shows. Not yet anyway. Me. I'm revived. I collapsed, quite ill, last week. It was scary. It was the second time I collapsed in less than a week, the first time being from dehydration and heat.

Something physical always happens to me after I complete a major writing project, and completing "Broadway Vampire" was certainly major. So, this illness wasn't a complete surprise, I guess. I'm saying that in retrospect.

Anyway, after seeing the doctor and being diagnosed and following his advice to recover, I'm feeling 99% today. During my convalescence it was all I could do to post on Face Book, let alone write a blog post. Crazy, huh?

I'm making a list of topics to cover in this blog and will attempt to follow that list.

Though I have to say, for me, it's difficult writing about theater and the travails of a playwright when the environment is taking such a beating at the hands of the corporate elite and their political enablers in Washington D.C.

So, all I can say is -- stay tuned.