…The Performing Arts Center’s fundraising Venetian Ball was in full swing. Some say it was at its height. Some say it was the stroke of midnight. A figure of spastic feline grace, wearing silver body tights, a Tiresius breast plate, and masked to resemble Disney’s Dumbo, ran wildly through the hundreds of dancing and mingling Newnan elites crammed into the poorly ventilated, box-like Riverwood Studio soundstage. “Intruder!
Imposter!” the figure shouted in a wincingly high, gender-bending voice. Suddenly it stopped before a tall raven in a tuxedo. Yelling, “I unmask you!,” the silver siren proceeded to do just that, grabbing the raven’s beak and giving it a good yank. Black feathers flew, carried upward by waves of body heat and hot breath. The mask of black shot toward the ceiling, its stilletto-like ebony beak a whip of grief, and then violently hit the floor, the smack of it turning heads in the sudden silence. Moot Hippodrome, congenial bon-vivant, a somewhat eccentric and colorful member of Newnan’s “creative community,” stood revealed, his face flushed red like a freshly opened wound. The crowd pulled back to the walls as the silver figure began a menacing circumnavigation of Hippodrome’s personal space and continued with that dizzying whine, “I know the truth! He is not as he appears! Do not believe his lies, that pitiful story he tells over and over to any and all who ask.” At this point, if you had attempted to observe the eyes of the onlookers, you would have begun to detect a certain gleam, a subtle bulging interest, indicating a veiled feral arousal very much like you would catch in the gaze of a councilwoman slumming at a dogfight. Hippodrome, all who were there would later agree, looked as if he had left his body. The circling prophetic figure ticked off the points one by one as if trying to make a credible presentation to a bank’s loan officer: “–He says he’s a “stay at home dad” but his children are practically in college–He says he’s a “retired clinical psychologist” but he only stopped because insurance questions confused him and he was burned out–He claims to be a “theatre person” but is not even amusing at dinner parties –He claims to spend time “writing” but what…blogs?–He claims to be a teacher but he doesn’t really know anything to teach; he can’t remember what he had for breakfast–He claims to have some kind of interesting academic background but really he was a desperate degree collector addicted to passive alliances with mentors–He claims to be a “musician” but that just means he obsessively improvised when young to deal with anxiety and is now trying to pass off as true ability what he gained through indulging a weak autodidactic impulse–He has “chosen” not to earn a living because he fears any and all forms of competition, not because he’s experimenting with radical principles.” And on and on it went. Eventually Hippodrome left, witnesses claim through a hole in the roof. The silver figure plunged back into the punchbowl, crying, “Poseur unmasked!” The Ball took off once again and hit another height…
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A Note of Explanation: The above is taken from Part II of Tamara Pinchme’s notorious underground classic Somewhat Underdressed Brunch, page 114 in my Evergreen paperback edition, starting three lines from the top (those of you who know the work know there are no paragraphs). I first read the book when I was a freshman in college, and there was something about this particular passage that grabbed me and struck me as strangely familiar. At the time, I had no idea why. Now I see, of course, that it was telling me what would be. Passages from this quirky book have had a similar effect on numerous people since it was first published in 1962. Check out the Pinchme Wikipedia article.
Hey, you forgot your excuses/apologies!
There is no excuse. There is no apology. Grade me accordingly.
And no Times. Ah, the Times. The Times this. The Times that. The Times. I lack the wherewithal to elbow my way in to a credible journalistic aping.
Tell you what. Let’s call it another Unfinished Assignment.
Somebody please submit something so this won’t have to be the opening post. JB, do another one.
Ha! That’s a good one, Dale. You almost had me going for a aecond.
Oh, not at school–I’m sitting in a meeting. Feh. But I’m madly jotting notes for my exposÃ©.
Jeff, I am now concerned. Having had brief moments to watch you work (in person and cyberwise) your wit can’t helped but be noticed. Now I fear for your coming book on the Trail of Tears. If it breaks public to the discovery that it is a comedy, or worse yet, a musical comedy, the fact that it is truly funny will not excuse it much in the minds of the critics.
Seriously though, the bit about Dale working honestly made me laugh out loud.
Somewhere else it was noted that we all admired Jospeh Campbell. Perhaps one big artistic challenge would be to see if we could create a musical comedy about “The Journey of the Hero” without deriding Campbell. Or at least talk about the possibility. Or are the two mutually exclusive?
Ignore the above post. I am still thinking of a way to introduce Campbell as a discussion topic here.