Monday, September 10, 2012

Forty-Seventh Street

    So having returned from sunny Southern Cal, a little too rested, I launched into my return to New York by going to the matinee on Saturday of Forbidden Broadway.  This exorcised any and all regret and not having been in New York, as I experienced what had to be the best and worst of the entire year, and even at the intermission they played music from when musicals were musicals-- Street Where You Live, etc.
    I sat Saturday night, during the first act of PETER and the STARCATCHER, all I could endure-- it was such juvenilia-- next to a librarian from Maine, whose library was not yet closing as there are a lot of rich retirees in her community who keep it going.  She was compiling a list of the 10 best musicals ever, and I helped her, citing one by Frank Loesser(GUYS AND DOLLS) who hit on me when I was twenty but did nothing to help me with my songwriting career, even though when he heard my songs, he said "Kid, you're the biggest talent since me," and later apologized for having lifted a couple of riffs for "a musical Moss and I are doing," one(GYPSY) by Julie Styne, an adorable man with whom I lunched at the Carlyle for several of the last Saturdays of his social life,-- he wanted to hit on me but was on dialysis;-- none by Vernon Duke, though he did write one of the best songs of all time (AUTUMN IN NEW YORK) and was jealous of Richard Rodgers ("He's a son-of-a-bitch, but he does write a great tune) who actually chased me around my parent's bedroom, old man though he was:) several by Lerner and Loewe, whom I did not know, but much admired, one by my actual mentor Yip Harburg, (FINIAN's RAINBOW)which was cheating a little as it does have a problematical and dated book, but the score is glorious, and he did write OVER THE RAINBOW, which still tears at the heart.  I did not remember until well after I had left the theater that I had completely forgotten Irving Berlin and ANNIE GET YOUR GUN which glows even in revival and without Ethel Merman-- Reba MvIntire, who woulda thunk it, bringing new charm to that great musical.  
    Stunning that I forgot him, since he is the reason I have considered my whole life directed towards songwriting, since I was born on May 11th, Berlin's birthday.  So I always thought, dreamed, imagined I had a Destiny.  The return to the Brooks Atkinson theatre, and the dreadful Peter I also supposed, in advance, anyway, was kind of drawn on a cosmic blackboard, as that was where my play opened on Broadway, for a few performances, anyway, the same time Madeleine was born.  So I was in the hospital for the final, crucial rehearsals, when they fired the director, Paul Bogart, and brought in Arthur Storch, who made the whole(small) cast hysterical.  My obstetrician let me out of the hospital for the end of the opening night--they still kept you in five daysish in those days--as he wanted to go.  So the limo came and got me there for the last laugh, which wasn't there, so I knew it had been a disaster. Mel Brooks who had been crazily helpful out-of-town(Philadelphia) and Annie Bancroft, then our close friends, drove me back to the hospital, and Mel said "You had two things happen this week-- if one of them had to go wrong, if your daughter had been born with six toes or two noses... that would have been okay: what mattered was the show."  I believe he saved my life.
     Everything then, I believed, and I know Donnie did, too, hinged on Success.  Now, I think, it is just about staying alive, gratitude that I have lived this long, trying to stay in shape, and well, sustaining the hope that the South could rise again... or at least libraries might, and, with them, people who read. Oh, well... I guess I have lived so long that I am doddering.  An odd word.  I must look up what it really means. 
    Ah, here it is, online of course so there's no need to open a dictionary, poor dictionary, cast aside along with all the other books, except maybe in Maine.
 shaky, feeble, or infirm, esp from old age. Well, thankfully, I guess I am really none of those, except in spirit.  But nonetheless, onward! Or, maybe at this point, sideways.