Aries 5° (March 25)
It doesn’t help that it is super dreary here on Cape Cod. We briefly ventured out to deposit some money and to get some things from the pharmacy. Quick, with two pairs of gloves and one mask. Terrence McNally died yesterday. Prince Charles has the virus. I don’t know how this happened so quickly but it is not going to resolve quickly that I can tell you. I will venture out again in a couple of days to get some more supplies in—I am keeping a list. We have to just keep moving the needle under duress. J. seems to feel she had it and that Jess did as well. But there is no way to know because there is no testing. As of yesterday there were thirty cases on Cape Cod, today forty. I just added that new tidbit. I am having trouble focusing that much I know. There is work at hand to do, and I will do it. But I also have a need to massively under-achieve right now. We have our first TV meeting on Friday and I’m very much looking forward to that. I jumped through another major hoop in the book-selling process, yesterday, and I’m hoping it will yield. We spent yesterday late afternoon watching some new episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David being one television character to whom I relate (and Quinn Cox haters—and, oh, there are some—would certainly agree, from their perspective). I had made this giant soup, only, for dinner, so we thought let’s have some cheese and crackers and a little Italian wine we have on hand. Well that became dinner and we fell asleep at around seven in the evening and, though I was up for a little bit around the one o’clock hour, we managed to sleep until four. As horrific as that sounds, we are getting closer to normal schedule. It’s just about ten now and I feel I’m already ready for bed. It will not be another long day I can tell you that. I may have to stock up on some more wine though is the only thing. I decided (after getting to day twenty-three of my thirty day Bikram (Paris) yoga challenge before they shut the studio, and seeing how good it has already done my body, I am going to restart my own thrity-day practice, again for April.
I have so many thoughts swirling around my head. I will write to check in with Jesse. And also to the grant people in Provincetown, just to take their temperature. Bad choice of wording in the circumstance I realize. Anyway I was realizing how this health crisis even changes the way I procrastinate. Or the manner in which I check out. I’m so concerned with keeping my immune system as pumped as possible, I’m only letting myself indulge in the off glass of wine with dinner, before bedtime, which has been before nine o’clock now since I returned back stateside. I am scared like everyone else is; but being a default optimist, I’m not as freaked out as others I know who are darker, generally, even in the best of times. I’m also quite the loner so isolating isn’t that hard for me. I knew there would be an upside to alienating people for most of my adult life! I am (only wishing I were) kidding. Well I feel that might be enough to go on, today. The great thing is that I know the whole world is at a standstill so for the first time in my life I don’t feel like I’m behind the eight ball or in the weeds meeting deadlines. The point is I never am. I need to cut and paste that lesson. I owe it to S. for getting us back home that’s for sure. I wouldn’t have asked for the favors (which were on offer, to be fair she did to bring this about. (Probably stupidly, I would have stayed in Paris.) But I am much more adapted to change, especially on a dime. I came home, unpacked completely, shopped and cleaned, sorted out all the homey stuff, like firewood, dump runs and car maintenance. I haven’t missed a beat with my work, either, really. And so here I am. I even had time to look some things up on Wikipedia today, which form the title of today’s entry.
The following blocks of texs are exceprts from my first year of Blagues, nos. 26-30. I am reading through all my Blagues, five per day, and posting some samples here. Now, in my sixth year of writing this Blague, but the time I get to my seventh, I will have through all the daily Blagues of my first five years. If that’s confusing I apologize:
Just blocks from where I now find myself in Boston is the Hotel Eliot where we had always stayed, for over a decade, whenever we would come to town. In fact the suites there remain the model in my mind for the perfect pied à terre (plus a small separate kitchen), something for which I’m always on the lookout in any of the several cities of the world I fancy living. I think it was the winter of 2004-5, we were staying in town overnight and I had a dream that was seemingly banal but very vivid and thankfully I verbalized it in the morning to Stella or else I would have been stuck in my own head with this happening. I told her upon waking that I had a dream of being in this underground parking lot and there was a small dark indigenous looking man washing a wall with a fire house and that he tried to speak to me but then I woke up. I might have even brought the dream up in context of an ongoing most-boring-dream contest we had with each other and some close English friends, one of whom had a dream she was vacuuming; I had once had a most boring dream that I was sleeping and not dreaming. Think about it.
Anyway, we decided we’d take in a movie after checking out. I believe it was Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, which was playing in Kendall Square which is a very open, unpopulated part of Cambridge, especially in winter, characterized by renovated old warehouse buildings and sparkling new hotels and office buildings. It sort of reminds me of some of downtown Los Angeles. When we got to the theater, which was part of a sort of building complex, it became clear that we didn’t have to find street parking it was provided and we followed the blue P sign. This started leading us down an incline and I got a flash. And then we went over a pretty remarkable bump for which there was no warning, and I turned round to look at what we had run over and it was a meaty fire hose. I immediately broke out in a cold sweat and my heart started racing and I desperately blurted out in rapid-fire machine-gun style: this is the dream; when we get to where we’re parking we will see a small, dark man hosing down a wall and he’s going to want to talk to me and I can’t, I just can’t. “Calm down,” came the response; but I was already in full on panic-attack mode as we circled, down and down, going over another bump. As we turned the corner we saw the doors marked elevator to theater and to our right, for some inexplicable reason, in the middle of winter, the temperatures well below freezing, there was the tiny dark native of somewhere looking man blasting a wall with a fire hose. As we passed I heard the water turn off. And I repeated: he’s going to want to talk to me we have to get out and just walk really, really fast to the elevator. We parked, and slammed the doors and bee-lined and, of course, after us came the compelling voice in broken English: “Hello, excuse me, please, excuse me, sir, please, hello.”
No effing way. That’s all I could think. Whatever he has to say (for some reason) I do not want to hear it. Move, move, move. I can still see him coming towards us as the elevator doors shut. Now, needless to say I was shaken. First of all, I had never had so vivid or so ridiculously immediate a manifestation of a prophetic dream of this nature. I laughed the dream off as being a contestant for most boring but the moment I knew, upon entering that parking lot, that the dream was being born out in reality it did not exhilarate me, it freaked me the ef out. And yet, I have to say, that this trip to Boston, and we talk about this, ushered in a spate of pretty bad misfortune that lasted more than a few years. As these things go, this period was character building but I still say: we didn’t need it. Regarding the little man so desperately needing to tell me something: I’ve had to live with the fact that I didn’t let him. Sure, at first, it was a very great relief because my instinct was Run. So I felt as if I had dodged a bullet; for awhile. Then it slowly crept in: What if he was trying to tell me something helpful, useful—what if he was trying to warn me about some horrible things on the horizon; and would it have helped to know about them?
I have a mystic friend called Margaret. She douses. That is to say she has a special talisman on a chain that she swings over you via which she reads your energies and removes any unwanted, shall we say, entities. The first thing she told me was that…hmm, I hesitate to write this for some reason…how to say: I have a positive entity that watches out for me and helps clear my path, energetically. She said he was an Indian man with a certain weapon which made me think American Indian for some reason. I never asked which. But then I wondered, sometime later, after the dream cum parking lot incident if she didn’t mean a man from India; because, though I refused to really take a good look at him, it is very possible that the man with the big hose (ha, ha) was Indian and therefore most directly analogous to my description of the dream man being indigenous. I’ll never know. And as the decade marched forward I came to actually regret not stopping and heeding what this creature had to say. I probably would welcome the experience now. But I’m not the same person I was then. And that’s the point. So yes maybe he was going to issue a warning and that’s why today’s oracle seems apt, but I suddenly have another theory.
I wasn’t equipped to handle whatever knowledge or power was going to be imparted—I was not equipped to have my dream of prophesy fully born out. I couldn’t have handled that. It would have been too much. So for the first time in nearly a decade I don’t regret not stopping to listen. I believe I did the exact correct thing. It would have blown my own cosmic circuits perhaps. I didn’t want to know that I possessed such a power. I was scared. And fear can be a great guide. I recognize that over the last decade I’ve slowly accepted that I have certain gifts and I’ve explored them gradually and in a way that has, with a few exceptions, been comfortable and not crazy making. Remember, I had that experience with the superhuman strength and the Sherlock Holmes-like blueprints appearing in my mind, mathematically outlining every physics possibility to every action, back in 1987. That was too much a break with reality as we know it (though it opened me up to other realities) for my tender mind and body at that time. There is a monstrous manifestation of unseen power that can threaten to undo us lest we learn to harness said power in such a way that folds it into our present reality, gently, like whipped egg-whites into batter.
Needless to say I wasn’t in a state of “calm watchfulness” that winter day in question. I mean WTF? who hoses down a wall in freezing weather and why did that man want to talk to me, specifically, so urgently. At that point I had major limits and restrictions and today’s oracle has helped me understand that this was probably a good thing. I don’t think it was safe (for me at that time) to hear what the little man had to say. I’ve encountered little men before, I might add. One of whom spoke in tongues, but that’s another story for another day. Meanwhile, I can’t help think of the little man in the top hat in J.D. Salinger’s Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters, as he does suggest a mystical presence which wouldn’t have been lost on Buddy or any of the “Wise Child” Glass children. I know it’s not unusual or a even un-pompous to relate, as I did as a young teen, to members of Salinger’s fictitious family. In my youth I fancied myself something of a Zooey who, despite being one of the brood, embodied a certain skepticism which I now realize was his assured way of hanging onto present reality in a world, and in a family, in which those around him were forever shifting the “limits and restrictions” thereupon. I’ve become less the Zooey as I’ve gotten older and am more the Buddy now, a character, I feel, who operates from that vantage point of “calm watchfulness.” Let us all take a page from Buddy’s book today. Let us be the observer. Let us not leap at opportunities to bite off more power than our fragile psyches can handle,
I remember some years ago, we accompanied our friend JK Rowling to Harvard where she was giving the commencement speech, which of course was brilliant, and entitled “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination.” In it she speaks of how what she considered her own epic fail stripped away the inessentials to focusing on the one thing she wanted to do most, write novels. It’s an inspiring read. And it’s most fitting given today’s oracle which asks us to allow loss to inspire our creative imagination. If you’re like me, more than one opportunity pops to mind but, perhaps, also like me, they may be of a piece, falling under a larger umbrella.
I started writing a paragraph about the history of specific failures but deleted it. Seems the wrong tack. But let me cite a few examples: For years we wrote horoscopes for magazines and their websites. It was quite lucrative and was our bread and butter. We had really high-profile gigs like Paris Vogue and The Daily Beast, which never had a horoscope before and not since. But as publishing changed and print magazines began to shrink in size or fold, horoscope pages were the first to go. So the column idea “failed” as a means of income. We thought screw this. We will write a horoscope for free every week and just offer it up as a tithing to people. As a result our weekly Haute Astrology column is very popular and though it doesn’t pay financially I know that it benefits us in other ways; if nothing else it keeps us connected to people interested in our unique perspective on astrology and planet moves.
The failure of our column business—at one point we were writing upwards of six to eight different daily, monthly, weekly horoscopes at one time—also freed us to explore our talents as personal consultants. And now, a decade on, this is the most thriving aspect of our professional lives; and nothing gives us greater joy than helping people in their journey of self-realization. It has also cultivated those extra-sensory gifts of ours to which I’ve alluded in this blog. So that’s a big win-win.
And, speaking about that umbrella under which seeming disparate things might fall: I realized that our nighttime pursuits of performing in clubs and theaters, and even the founding of the Afterglow Festival, which we did in collaboration with John Cameron Mitchell and others, and our quite serious private consultancy with clients all fell under the larger heading of “lifting people’s spirits.” And whenever I feel that I’m wearing too many hats or stretched too thin or teetering into Libran dilletantism I check myself with that phrase. Is what you’re doing lifting spirits? If the answer is yes than I’m on the right track.
We had a decent success in publishing Sextrology and I’m most encouraged by the fact that it still hasn’t achieved its “tipping point”; it’s a boon to know someone hasn’t heard of the book because that is a potential new reader. That book is a success story against all odds. People say publishing has always been a nightmare industry; I entered it with the whole fantasy of getting a great advance and writing out at the beach, which we managed to do. We like to say we got the last real advance in publishing before the polarization occured whereby only celebrities (in whatever field) were given money and others peanuts or worse. But this celebrity obsession is true across the board. And when they are famous for nothing? Why do we care if some junior Kardashian got her lips plumped up amid denials of plastic surgery. It’s like we always want superficial people to complain about. Shouldn’t this sort of thing have ended with guillotine-ing Marie Antoinette? Did I mention Stella is related to she who lost her head?
I’m rambling today. But I don’t care. This subject inspires rambling. Rambling is the form my creative imagination takes. Back to books. We were hardpressed to write a second book. Or as our agent said: “you need a second widget.” I should have known right there that this was a bad idea and ran far, far away. The world had changed. There were no more good advances for the non-famous. What was meant to be a sidebar to Sextrology was then poured into our second book Cosmic Coupling but it was chopped to bits and we weren’t “allowed” to give gay relationship chapters equal length. “The book can’t be too long.” Don’t get me wrong, people love this book, but there is a worlds better version of this concept waiting to be published. But how to do it? Despite the fact that Sextrology is an industry success story, you’re only as good as your last book and our highly abridged sophmore effort (which maybe would have been a huge seller had it contained all the content we intended it to) pales in comparison to Sextrology. Well maybe we should take a page from Amanda Palmer’s (actual) book, The Art of Asking which was her Ted Talk and an art she has perfected, admittedly, amid some rumblings. The point is one might say we have at this junctured “failed” at book publishing or have “missed opportunities” in that field but I don’t think so. I think the way that industry treats non-celebrity writers is criminal and it should inspire my creative imagination to find a way to get our work out there in spite of traditional publishing that takes the lion share of profits. Oh, to be sure, HarperCollins has made millions off of Sextrology and though our royalties are stellare compared to most, we assuredly have not. One silver lining was our “prediction” that ebooks would be a thing and a decade ago we had those rights reverted and recently published the Sextrology ebook under our own steam. #pleasebuythisone
I know we will, via use of creative imagination, find a way to publish the (at least) dozen other books we have on our virtual drawing board. And, in so doing, I have a feeling, we will trailblaze uncharted territory, paving the way for other writers to do likewise. This is a gut instinct. We know where we’re going and so we needn’t be in a a rush to get there.
Television has been another “epic fail” for us. We have been approached by innumerable producers and networks and even Oscar-winning movie stars with their own production companies to develop a show. We also have a menu of ideas for the making of a great one. But oy. Publishing is like a neighborhood playground compared to the snake pit that is the television industry. You’ve seen the program Episodes, right? I wish I could say that the most exaggerated characters on that show were caricatures. They are not. If it’s challenging to retain the integrity of ones work in publishing, it’s near impossible to do so in television where every promising conversation and agreement devolves. It is truly comical. Just this past year, after several years of saying no to offers, after several years before that of “going out”, both in the US and UK, with sure-fire (not) show ideas: we were working with this one production company that swore they were only interested in a classy, elevated, artful concept that we could pitch to some high-class networks only to package the “sizzle” they shot of us to appeal, seemingly, to one TV exec who wanted us to host a late night sex show where we basically critiqued people fucking. Yeah no.
Yet we know that our effort isn’t for naught, just as we know energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It will find an outlet. That will be up to us. Not that either one of us have any burning desire to be on TV—we so don’t. But should the failure of these past approaches creatively inspire another way to represent ourselves, in our best light, in that or a similar medium. Well then yes bring it. I think what we are meant to glean from all of this, actually, is that failure is for winners, only regret is for losers. Dane Rudhyar gives a nod, with this oracle, to the relationship between guru and student whereby the guru sets tasks for the initiate that are designed to fail so that the novice finds a unique inroad born in his or her imagination. I would say that the guru is mimicking the action and purpose of Life and the Universe. If we achieved everything we set our mind to, we would never be inspired and we would never grow. We would never divert from the norm.
Remember how evolution works. There must be a mutation, an offshoot from the norm, via which new life thrives. When we hit a wall, we find a new way around, not just for ourselves but for others too. No is Yes. So next time someone slaps you with the former, hear the latter and find a new way. Yes is the word of creation. When others succeed where you have failed be inspired by them not resentful. When your greatest hopes are dashed realize you’re probably being saved from distress. Other’s success isn’t your success. You can’t have what other people have. You can only have what you have and you can only want what you have. That includes success. You are already successful. Don’t look at the successes you haven’t achieved. Look to the ones you have achieved.
Anything denied you isn’t yours. If it was meant to be it wouldn’t be denied you. You won’t regain that loss. You’ll gain something else. That loss was only meant to inspire your imagination—so-called loss is indeed the most powerful fuel for your imagination. In this way we not only weather, we welcome, it. A closed door of opportunity speeds your path further down that great hall toward rightful success and fulfillment. But that’s the byproduct really. What is being cultivated all the while, during this process, is your unshakable Faith, not only in yourself, but in the workings of the Universe. If you feel you could achieve a) success or opportunity, but find it denied you, why wouldn’t you move to b) or c) all the way to z) and around again to aa)? You had faith in achieving a). Is that all you could achieve? Just a)? No. We don’t keep going back, beating our head against a wall trying to succeed under hardship or duress. Success should be worlds easier than that; so we thank the “loss” of opportunity for saving us the struggle and speeding us toward more natural fits of opportunity where success comes naturally and readily. I don’t know who said this originally but Stella utters this phrase quite a lot: There Is No Loss In Divine Mind.
…;this is the nightmare of anyone who performs on a stage. Typically it doesn’t include being confronted by the audience, good gods. But the not being prepared part, please. Surely you’ve had some version of this dream. In a way it would almost be a relief to be confronted by the audience. Then you could sort of dialogue about it. But to disappoint an audience and have them sort of politely slink away—”the lighting was nice”—is just the worst. Or is it? My pal Justin Vivian Bond used to advise, and probably still does: “Dare to Suck.” And I gotta tell you those words have buoyed me on a number of occasions when I wasn’t quite sure if my idea of what I could do matched my ability, on stage, or in other settings requiring a leap of faith in myself. Of course it has to be a large audience, as if this wouldn’t be intimidating enough. Some performers I know would just call it an interactive workshop and own the censure as part of the experience. I’m not that clever and I’m way too sensitive. I like to be prepared. And the times that I haven’t been my best on an actual stage or a metaphoric one aren’t my favortie memories. But even they were learning experiences. My most favorite acting teacher of all time (it wasn’t Uta), Edward Morehouse used to warn against trying to wing it. It never works. There is a difference between daring to suck and winging it although, to the untrained audience eye they might be indistinguishable. If I’ve been over tired or over served and didn’t give my best performance on a stage that’s my bad because it was my responsibility to be prepared. If I was indeed prepared and stunk up the joint, well then, my side of the street is clean and I can just shrug that shite off.
Speaking of joints: I used to love to smoke marijuana. It relaxed me. I could do anything while high. Everything except act. I would never in a million years touch the stuff if I were acting in a play. And, in those couple of times I was lucky enough to be on Broadway I saw actors who would be high for rehearsals, if not performances, and it would give me panic attacks; and this was years before smoking pot myself resulted in my own actual panic attacks. Yes, there came a day, one exact moment, when it all turned on a dime and smoking weed switched from encasing me in a giant white comfy cotton ball air-conditioned parka in which I could walk to setting off bright electri red-orange lighted alarms of seizing terror. Just like that. But wait where am I going with this? I think I’m circling back. Am I? Let’s see.
Acting was a craft. It was always sacred to me. And though hardly anybody I now know has ever seen me at my craft, it really was something that I once lived and breathed. And I prided myself on being a good actor because I was always prepared. Always. I employed every fiber of my being with every amount of technique I honed, and that allowed me to fully inhabit characters in a safe, real, open, honest, accessible way. Performing was a different story. And I always made the distinction between when I was acting on a stage and when I was performing on a stage. Doing sketch comedy or improv or singing a song, even, back in the day was performing. Acting was something else. Though I don’t act really anymore—I mostly perform—when I sing now I don’t perform, I act. I wouldn’t be able to stand up and sing any other way, really, because I’m not a singer per se. I absolutely love to sing; but in order for me to sing in front of people I have to prepare the song the way I would take on a role in full-length play. Then what comes out will always be right. Even if it’s wrong it’s right. If I don’t approach a song like it’s a juicy monologue my character is compelled to communicate it falls short. Trust me, I’ve tried. I can’t put a song across on musical chops alone. I’m not an instrument that way.
However, if you know me, or if you’ve been reading this Blague, you might have come to realize that certain forces have been known to move through me. But if that’s ever happened in my work as an actor it would have taken the form of the thinnest membrane because even if I’m playing an out-of-control character, as the actor, the real me, William—not Quinn really—is in full control of what’s happening. But I have had other performance experiences where I’ve been a total instrument for those sometime friends of mine, the unseen forces.
Back in the early 1990s I worked as a waiter at the Bell Caffe on Spring Street, in New York City, while so many of my friends, now, would have been at Don Hills, literally spitting distance away. If you were around there then and remember the Bell, but didn’t realize I worked there, you are probably revising your whole concept of me. And well you should. Because on any given night as your waiter I might have been wearing a vintage micro-mini real Hawaiian print woven cotton bathing suit with oversized workboots, a hooded zip windreaker and some kind of beany as my uniform, and there would have likely been a joint hanging out of my mouth while I was taking your order. I loved waiting tables. Most waiters have nightmares that they can’t keep up with a slew of tables—see, another performance anxiety dream just when you need it—while I would dream that I had to wait on the entire restaurant by myself, which would be a very good dream indeed. Actually I could handle an entire restaurant by myself back in those days. I would love when people wouldn’t show for work. That just meant a bigger challenge to keep the entire restaurant happy and buzzing without missing a beat; and of course more cash for Billy. It is my name don’t wear it out.
So the Bell Caffe would be packed to the rafters with hipsters before there were hipsters. It was a perfect melange of punky, hip-hopping, hippy, biker, fashionista grungesters. You know, the 90s. So of course we had a live middle eastern jazz trance band on Friday nights that would come in and set themselves up in a circle right in the middle of the restaurant through which you already couldn’t walk with any semblance of ease, unless of course you were me, coursing through the place serving up a storm. Against the wall, right near where they circled up, was an old out-of-tune upright piano that looked like it was from, oh I dunno, 1910. I good quarter of the keys didn’t work at all and nobody ever played it. But one night, as the band began to play, people packed in like sardines, a thick cloud of smoke infused with garlic and pot and patchouli and incense and steamed vegetables and sweat and love and coffee and indifference hanging in the air, all my tables happy, nobody wanting for anything: I opened the piano.
I can see the keyboard now, its white keys were, wait, colored?, in my imagination—pink, blue and yellow—the black keys still black; and the music, this exotic form of jazz, was swirling and quickening into an improvisational froth, and the color-coded keys, like the sometime blueprints in my mind, urged my fingers to them in certain combinations. And I began to play. Now, as I child I took piano lessons, but it was all by rote, the Fur Elise, the Sonata in C or whatever—pieces I tried to learn and through which I only ever stumbled. But now I was in it. I was part of the band. And the piano was telling me what to play like a spool in a player piano in reverse. And I just kept forming chords and running up and down the ivories and trilling here and well, to be honest, I’m not really sure what I was doing. I was gone. Gone, daddy, gone. And the song went on forever. And I remember the hangnail I had began to bleed and I could feel the keys missing ivory scraping my fingers with raw wood edges, and on I went and it was wild and spectacular and I came as close to being possessed, and happily so, as I have ever been in my born days. And it got faster. Crescendo. Lightning speed. To beat the band. Like dancing the Alley Cat as a kid. Me and this band behind me, whom I never saw during any of this, together in a fever pitch, faster and faster and faster and then, stop, all together on a single note, done.
I was a bit out of it. Transported. My fellow waitrons were like what the fuck, why didn’t you tell us these past two years working here that you played piano? I don’t. And the band on their feet hugging me and slapping me on the back; and customers, some I knew some I didn’t, asking me when and where I would next be performing; did I have a band? did I play solo? “How can we see you?” You can’t. I don’t exist—this I.
I remember that night flashing back to another night long ago when I was a freshman in high school inappropriately attending a party of seniors where there was a band made up of bad-ass graduates who were never going to college. I was some version of drunk I’m sure; but very lucid, I recall. Still I had the pluck to join the band’s open invitation to anybody, anybody who would like to come up a sing Sweet Home Alabama. Yes that’s right. I started too high. I was in that weird strained part of my voice the whole time. However, I was working it. Showmanship up the wazoo. The full on Mick Jagger cum Bowie, with maybe some Tina thrown in, experience as applied to a Southern rock song. Sure, why not. Except that people were absolutely appalled. I would go so far as to say livid actually. When you’re fourteen giving raw androgyne glam to a room full of long-haired nineteen year olds who spent all four years of high school in auto shop, and their girlfriends for whom feathered roach clips are the de rigeur hair accessory in 1977, it’s a bit awkward to say the least. People may have thrown things. If not bottles then at least they flung the liquid contents at me. I was a shaking outcast as I left the “stage” any liquid bravado that had gotten me up there having evaporated in my spine. And then this girl grabbed me. I forget her name. But she was one of those sort of earth-shoe stoner girls, hair too thick and kinky to work a feathered roach clip. “You were great” she said, and it was clear she meant it. I began to mumble some kind of disclaimer but she interrupted me. “I know, I know”, referring to the popular opinion of my performance, banishing that pervasive thought-form with a dismissive wave of her hand and a modified Bronx cheer. “These people don’t know anything; that was great, that was truly great.”
So what have we got? We have me being possessed by the spirit of some piano jazz great; and me being universally reviled but for one individual dissenting from the Large Audience Confronting The Performer. In neither case was I prepared. When I took over one of the three roles I was understudying in a Broadway production of The Seagull back in the early 90s for a few weeks, I was on stage a good amount but basically had one key line. I was universally praised for what was considered my compelling albeit silent physical life on stage; and yet Jon Voight, who was in the cast, would come to my dressing room after the show to give me a line reading or make comment on my tone, projection or modulation (on my one line!). It was so embarrassing and so infuriating. And being a sensitive young soul I thought well he must be “representing” everyone in the production and he’s been elected to come and correct me. I am ruining the entire three act play with my two dozen syllables. I wasn’t. He was just a blowhard. And apparently he is notorious for giving other actors line readings. He’s like Cloris Leachman with a overlarge dinner plate for a face and a penis that creates incestuous offspring. Gosh that felt good to say. But I am aware that I am being self indulgent in this reading of today and storytelling without much exploration of how this oracle applies to all of us. Or am I performing for a Large Audience and have I Disappointed Its Expectations. You decide.
The Bell Caffe had let me take a hiatus while I did The Seagull. And when I first went on as The Cook for the great actor and artist John Beale, Stella was attending the wedding of our closest friends, in France. The wonderful Maryann Plunkett who was in the cast made a very sweet announcement wishing me luck over the loudspeaker that piped into the dressing rooms—something I shall never forget—and after the curtain I was so keyed up with nobody to celebrate with or vent on. So I called the owner of the Bell, Krt Williams, from the backstage payphone! to see if he and other staff were still hanging out and could I come down for a drink and unwind because I was so shot through with adrenalin I could have scaled the Empire State Building. He said they were. Great. I cabbed it down to Spring Street. Meanwhile Krt had gone around to every table in the still packed restaurant telling all the customers—eek gads I’m getting teary—that I’d just gone on in this role. So when I walked into the Bell the entire room shot to their feet and applauded my entrance. I can’t tell you how amazing that felt. It was like being in an old 1930s movie. But I’m still on about me, aren’t I?
The oracle, the oracle: Preparation. That’s the key element. We can’t just be hopeful. We can’t leave it to chance. We can’t expect to be possessed of a spirit. And we can’t hang our hopes on the exceptions to the rule—we have to consider the Large Audience, which symbolizes everybody, really, all of humanity. All the world is a stage. We are all players. Everybody else is the Audience. We all have a part to play and we better know that shite cold. We have Responsibility, literally: ability to respond. To what? Our purpose and our calling, so many of the themes we’ve been touching on thus far as we cycle through these Sabian Symbols. Great expectatons and Hope are not enough. So we are Confronted with the fact that we have promised more than we’ve delivered. Hope, Promise, Deliverance—these are all themes of the sign of Cancer which, in my estimation, governs this oracle. After the Fall of Gemini (duality) as befitted yesterday’s oracle on failure, we have the Flood of Cancer, the cardinal-water sign, with its’ ark (promise) to carry us to a new shore (deliverance); but it isn’t automatic, we have to prepare the vehicle for our own deliverance. Everybody, all of mankind and all life depends on our putting in that work. And, really, if it’s going to rain for forty days and forty nights you might as well stay in, put your head down, power through, and prepare! So here, as this oracle says, we haven’t done so, and we are going to be read hard by a critical mob. Good. At least the mob has the courtesy to read us instead of flinging rotten tomatoes or complimenting us on our costume with a forced smile. I think that Large Audience, as daunting as they are, are doing us a big favor. If they’re taking the time to critique us we are probably being given another chance to deliver. If they care enough to tough love us in this way then they must have seen a glimmer of hope that we do possess the right stuff to deliver. Dane Rudhyar says it comes down to “how to handle this situation.” Indeed. I think slapping on the notion of “It” being a workshop is a good one. Yes we are performing and though we mightn’t be prepared, we are preparing. And guess what, Large Scary Audience, you’re all a part of it. Maybe Jon Voight was right, maybe my tone was off, maybe he was trying to help me, maybe he’s not a face-plate after all, maybe I really learned something via his criticism, and maybe I did appreciate the fact he cared enough to come to me and try to help me. It could just as easily be that as it could be he’s a blowhard. The perception is better for me. Forget about him or any audience. What reparations are we willing to make in the process? None? Okay, then, good luck with that. But don’t expect an Audience to care enough next time to Confront you. Meanwhile it’s your responsibility to deliver; to get the job done. It’s your sacred duty to be the best most prepared You you can be. We are recovering, repairing and being delivered all the time. Every day some Audience has something critical to say; and the truth is we can always benefit from said criticism. There is always something we can learn from it. Even if the lesson in patience in enduring the criticism and still looking at that critic as a teacher, a guru. You have high expectations of others to deliver. Why shouldn’t they have high expectations of you. Maybe they think you are capable of meeting them. Isn’t even their disappointment a compliment when you think about it? Think about it. And once you have: come back more prepared and show us what you got!
To view the original Sabian Symbol themed 2015 Cosmic Blague corresponding to this day: Flashback! The degree pointof the Sabian Symbol may at times be one degree higher than the one listed here. The Blague portrays the starting degree of for this day ( 0°, for instance), as I typically post in the morning, while the Sabian number corresponds to the end point (1°) of that same 0°-1° period. There are 360 degrees spread over 365/6 days per year—so they nearly, but not exactly, correlate.
Typos happen. I don’t have a proofreader. And I like to just write, post and go!
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