Be-In

American Drama Music New York City Summer Of Love

1. I wish I could see the new free production of Hair in New York City's Central Park, but it's pretty much impossible unless I'm willing to get on the ticket line at 9 pm the night before and stay there till the following afternoon. The last time I did that was for the much-hyped Seagull starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, and I literally fell asleep once the play started.

Oh well. The New York Times gives this Hair a great write-up, but Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal calls it a "poorly crafted revue" and claims that James Rado and Gerome Ragni "don't know the first thing about how to write a musical". I think Teachout misses this by a mile. He's right that Galt MacDermot's bouyant music is the show's best saving grace (and it's a fact that more people listen to the album than ever see the show) but I have seen the show -- an amateur college performance, many years ago -- and I remember how it lit up the room from start to finish. If Rado and Ragni didn't know how to write a musical, at least they sure knew how to create a musical that lets everybody else -- the performers, the composer, the director -- look great, and that makes an audience very happy. What more can we want? Teachout probably doesn't love Godspell either.

Gerome Ragni died in 1991, but James Rado can still be spotted in the East Village, and I've had the privilege of hanging out with this pleasant and friendly writer and performer (I asked him whether he or Ragni were responsible for combining Allen Ginsberg and Shakespeare verses in the big second-act Vietnam War number, but he smiled and wouldn't say). Rado also keeps the fires burning at the official Hair website, which features photos from countless international productions of the classic hippie-era show.

2. Herman Melville with Nathaniel Hawthorne on a mountain, thinking about a whale.

3. An intense sampling of comic artists flagellating themselves (via Maud).

4. Sparrow, a wistful New York poet and activist, is running for President. I doubt he'll win but it's worth a link.

5. A Charles Bukowski side story.

6. The poetry slam in 2008.

7. Jeff VanderMeer on recent political fiction at the Huff.
8 Responses to "Be-In"

Haha, I like Terry Teachout's description of "the gray-ponytail set turning out in force" to see Hair. I never saw it, but I was a big fan of the soundtrack in the late 60s.

Glad to see the Jeff Vandermeer link. If Jeff ever decides to stay home (Tallahassee, FL) for a lit event, I will definitely show up, but he's too busy with books tours in Romania and the Czech Republic, conventions in California, and a Book Festival in Louisiana. A while back I read his book, City of Saints and Madmen and loved it (horror/fantasy/humor is right up my mushroom-populated alley).

Also, The New Weird, an anthology edited by Jeff and his wife Ann Vandermeer, features an email exchange that reminds me of the ones in Coffeehouse: Writings From the Web, edited by Levi Asher and Christian Crumlish. Both Coffeehouse and New Weird gave me the excited feeling of something new and cool being ushered into the world through a symbiosis of human consciousness and internet connectivity.

by Duncan Brown on

This may indeed be the dawning of the second coming of the age aquarius.
But the the end may very well be nigh for anything resembling good tailoring, and we wont mention the middle age pony tails ever again.
Most probably better'herd than scene'unless one is terribly fond of bespoke tailored wet suits.

by d. matus on

i've begun using the ereader on my iphone, and I think it's rad. i especially like it for poetry. handy, pocket-sized, ability to whip out at a moment's notice due to the fact that I will always have it with me by default of the somewhat extraneous "phone" function of the iphone; all in all, pretty great.

by Steve Plonk on

Yes, I, too, was in New York in the sixties. I saw the original "Hair" when I was "on pass" from the service. I wore a wig when I went into the show just for laughs. At that time, the venue was an old nightclub called, I believe, "the Cheetah". Folks were handing out a few free tickets and I happened to score one. The play was off off broadway then and had not reached prominence.

The play was "off limits" to service personnel but that didn't scare me at the time. Since then, I have seen the movie(s) two versions and heard the soundtracks. Heck, I even bought the book printout of the play and played some of the songs for tips--giving credit of course.

Thanks for the link to my Melville/Hawthorne article.

My son, through his friends, recently acquired "Hair" on CD through his friends, so they obviously see something in it.

anti-spam word: Kerouac. Love it!

Now, if only I can remember to look at what I wrote before I hit "submit" ....

I know how you feel, Bill Peschel. I find myself hoping that other bloggers will understand that I posted something in a hurry. It's because we have such dynamic minds, our fingers can't keep up!

by Duncan Brown on

Bill P. Very Yossarian 'I see everything twice' I don't know why we keep doing that.
Is it because we want to get rid of what we write as quickly as possible.Or,is it a desire for some kind of verification that our scribblings are somehow worthwhile. Or, are we all just egomaniacs.
The smart money is probably on the 'egomaniac'

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