Saturday, March 29, 2014


I mean, that way at least we know there's activity in the Bleak, so it isn't just a stagnant overlay of gray.  This has been without doubt the most down period of my late middle years, as I, who have always believed in new beginnings, cannot even rev up memories of old endings, there is such a lack of light, of bright possibilities in my soul, which I am confident is still there but it's hard to see through the clog.  SAD(Seasonal Affect Disorder) it's called, but UTD is what it should be named-- Unfair To Dreamers.  See?  There remains in me a vestige of the Innocent, the optimist who returned to New York imagining you really could start over, no matter how late you returned to the game.  But for that to happen, the game has to be in progress.  And for that, you need light.
   Still, I did make an attempt.  If you remember-- not that you knew in the first place-- that I was born on Irving Berlin's birthday, in Stephen Foster's home town-- and here comes the surprise: It was not the deep South, but Pittsburgh-- there should have been no doubt even through the soot that I was meant to write songs.  Having spent a lot of Berlin's later years(he lived to 101) hoping (an unfulfilled hope) to meet up with him, but having had the privilege of close friendships with some of the songwriting greats, Yip Harburg, Julie Styne, chased around a piano by Vernon Duke, coming to brief rest with and inevitable betrayal by a conscienceless master, Frank Loesser, being given a kind hand up by Cy Coleman, but still, at a pretty far juncture down the road, having made no solid connection, I determined to check the ethers and tune in to Stephen Foster.
    So it was that I made my way last night to Lincoln Center, where Foster was one of those honored in dance by Paul Taylor, and his amazing troupe. "Molly, do you love me?" was the first of his songs, little known, (no Oh, Susanna! or Old Folks at Home,) but clearly the origin of the popular song.  The construct is a slider into what was the template, until the advent of rap, which for me, outdated as I am, is antithetical to music.  The fact that his output was as great as it was, as brief as was his stay-- 38 years, the same as Gershwin's--might indicatee one has to choose between time and popularity.
    Anyway, the Taylor dancers, who I would never have known existed, shame on me, had I not returned to these fetid climes, were past remarkable, every fiber of their bodies,-- and a bonnet for one of the ladies -- were engaged, though none of the romances, as far as I could see, were consummated.  Still, what a triumph for Stephen, no matter how long in coming.
     But oh, how dismal the view from what I guess you could call my window, the glass doors out to a metal balcony across from a quite ugly rooftop, truly un-enhanced by this drear.  Next to me at Lincoln Center, in a building that is one of the few positive arguments for the existence of the Koch Brothers, were two pleasant, soft-spoken gentlemen, one of whom, an engineer, called me 'Ma'am,' (his father had been in the military) the other, an architect, had put a railing around the spectacular interior of the library at NYU, as students kept throwing themselves off the high floors.  I would like to say it is lucky there is a railing around my balcony, except I do not even go out there to look down, the vista is so antithetical to beauty.  I shall try to look at it all with the wizened eyes of Irving Berlin, who must have been juiced by this city, or he couldn't have written Annie Get Your Gun.
    But it was engaging, in many senses of the word, to connect with people who so loved art, as manifested in dance.  I could probably delight in it here, if the sun ever came out, and we found the right director for my musical, and they welcomed to New York all those who had had a long struggle but never gave up.  Or, as my darling husband used to say, "If a bullfrog had wings, it wouldn't bump its ass when it landed."