Friday, July 18, 2008


Despite the fact that I have a million things to do and a little demon wanting to be taken to the swimming pool and/or the downtrodden South Bend playground, I have been writing yet another play. Or rather a pageant. And it strikes me that whenever I write a play-ish text I'm utterly trying to recreate the brilliant performance of Jean Genet's "The Screens" I saw at the Guthrie in Minneapolis with my brother back in the late 1980s. The colonialist French soldiers wore these huge boots and cartoonish outfits. The main character - played brilliantly by one of the main actors from that show "Fame" from the early 80s (possibly the greatest acting job I've ever seen, though I rarely notice acting)- walks around in a state of constant epileptic fit. Philip Glass collaborating with North African musicians for the brilliant soundtrack.

Another performance that struck me incredibly deeply was a time I watched the pell-mell art/noise ensemble "Blackie" play in the basement of the Steamboat Gallery in Minneapolis in 1992. I know this date specifically because I went with my friend Tyler, with whom I shared an apartment at the time. We had gone to high school together and then we got a place together when we graduated. I was a student at the U of Minnesota and he was working for an environmental organization. "Blackie" was a group of people who got together once a year or so and played without rehearsals (the term in fact is absurd in the context of their music). Most of them probably didn't know how to play instruments. The leader of the crew was a very flamboyant guy with a baseball hat and fashionable suit. He yelled out all kinds of free-form poetry-ish stuff while filming himself with a little video camera. At one point he was writhing on the ground yelling "We're in Spokane! We're in Spokane!" After the show Tyler and I went to get something to eat at the Rainbow grocery store and I said, "I feel dirty." And Tyler laughed then gave me a strange look and said "You know, so do I!" Something about the noise and the amazing self-indulgence had this amazingly strong effect on us. I still think about that show - I even remember the worn out old couch we sat on - and ponder how powerful that show was.

It also fits in with an interesting topic of thought - the event.


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