The New York Birthday Chronicles: 24 Beautiful Hours, 2 Beautiful Shows, 5 Beautiful Friends

Alas, my birthday month is just about ended. Huzzah, it is ending with a huge, fantastic bang. I am still recovering from my whirlwind trip to NYC with my near and dear ones which began with a Friday night slumber party and ended with me sleeping most of the day Sunday. But here is a brief tour of the tour, although I will be reviewing the two Broadway shows we saw at greater length in another entry (coming soon).

Friday, April 25

I arrived at Sue and Pat’s house at about 9:30p.m. Good neighbor friends visiting, drinking ensued. Cody arrived around 11:15. Drinking continued for a bit but mostly we were all in bed by midnight after having agreed to rise at 5:30 and who would take their allotted five-minute shower in what order.

Saturday, April 26

5:30a.m. We rose. We coffee-d. We showered. By 6:35 a.m. we were headed for White Marsh and the MegaBus. We stood in line next to a Mother and Daughter from Walkersville on their first trip to the city.  They were not seeing shows, which is fine since their idea of good shows had to do with some of my least favorite musicals which, sadly, seem to have huge appeal to the undiscriminating and unwashed masses. At around 8:15 we en-bus and my favorite seats at top of stairs on second level with extra leg-room are open, into which Cody and I lunge, and across the aisle are two more, conveniently, for Sue and Pat.

Charlie and Pat

Pat and I at falafel stand

Noon-ish. We arrived at 28th and 6th. Cody, Sue, Pat and I hot-footed it uptown to a falafel stand near the Algonquin where we scarfed down some scrumptious street-food and then headed into Algonquin for cocktails. I complained bitterly the entire time about what Marriott has done to the Algonquin. Pat suggested I should perhaps shut up or find another place to drink; I suggested he did not know me as well as I thought he did if he thought I would surrender a century of tradition to the Marriott Corporation and suffer the wrath of the ghosts of the Round Table habituees. I sipped my $23 dollar cocktail and Pat let slip that he and Sue had recently patronized ChickFilA. I was appalled. Cody suggested I was sometimes overly dramatic. I suggested he should choke on HIS $23 cocktail and that they all might remember this was MY BIRTHDAY TRIP.

Group theatre

From L to R, Me, Pat, Sue, Cody, Andrea (The fabulous Alison is photographer) outside BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY

Cody and Charlie theatre

Me and Cody, who has just lost the toss and has to sit next to me, well-known sobber, during the show.

1:45-ish. We meet up with Alison and Andrea outside the Schoenfeld Theatre and prepare to see Jason Robert Brown’s latest musical, The Bridges of Madison County. We are seated, 2 and 2 and 2 in third, fourth, and fifth rows in ridiculously glorious seats gotten by Andrea. Because it is my birthday trip, I am in second row. Because he is defenseless and the sweetest, Cody is stuck sitting with me, the well-known sobber. We open the program to see that the male lead is out and stand-by is in. We worry.

3:00ish. Intermission. The well-known sobber has not disappointed. Nor has the stand-by, Kevin Kern. Nor has Kelli O’Hara, the female lead. well-known sobber suggests another libation. Cody and I each have a $14 glass of wine. The $14 is no doubt due to its being served in a sippy-cup, which I find both fascinating and appalling on many levels but thanks to the residual buzz of the earlier Algonquin cocktail and the re-buzz brought on by shot-gunning the sippy-cup of cheap cabernet, I do not go on at my sometimes over-dramatic length about the issue to Cody.

Cody and Charlie at Bridges

Cody trying to make me laugh as much as possible BEFORE show starts so I will cry less during the show. Silly boy.

4:15-4:30ish. The show ends. I am a sobbing, wet-faced, emotionally exhausted wreck of a man. The group is presented with dinner options. While I am a well-known sobber, and at least three of the six of us are well-known control-freaks, all six of us are nearly pathologically incapable of making decisions. I break the mold and say I would really like to eat at Joe Allen’s. We walk the few blocks there and, despite my complete and utter lack of belief in the existence of anything divine, some Divine Intervention occurs and we not only do not have to wait, but the ONE table they have left is a six top.

Andrea and Charlie SMILING at Joe Allens

Me, SMILING, yes, SMILING, and my dear Andrea, at Joe Allen’s.

Alison and Stalked Man at Joe Allens

My dear, DEAR, Alison at Joe Allen’s – we really wanted this photo because I was SURE the man behind her was someone I should know – not that I don’t LOVE AND ADORE ALISON! But, who is that man?


Smith’s, where we stopped for a drink after the dinner drinks and before the pre-show drinks. I love New York.

6:30ish. Dinner has ended. It was delicious. I had three and a half glasses of wine. NOT in sippy-cups. Everyone made me laugh at least once. Everyone made me feel loved over and over again. We headed toward the next theatre. We stopped at a bar. The bar was called Smith’s Bar. Yes, yes it was. Cody bought us a round. I had a large Brooklyn lager.

7:30ish. We got to the Golden Theatre. We took our seats, all of us in a row in the second row for Mothers and Sons. mothers and sons marqueeWe knew it was a cry-fest. It was decided without rancor but not without some snark that the seating arrangement would involve Cody being on one side of me and Andrea on the other, thus insulating Sue, Alison, and Pat from my sobbing. Cody and I decided to go the bathroom before the show. Sue met us in the theatre basement where a souvenir stand was conveniently located next to a bar. She was buying a t-shirt. While we waited, Cody and I, never ones to waste an opportunity, bought our own souvenirs that looked and tasted suspiciously like tequila shots. (Note to Golden Theatre Bar: Please stock SILVER PATRON, Jose Cuervo is NOT the preferred Tequila of true drinkers- by whom I mean, me and Cody.) We got Sue a wine in a sippy cup because we wanted her to have the experience. Unlike us, she did not shoot it, but, rather, savored it and kept the cup.

9:30ish. The show was over. So was I. Such a moving script. Some really moving performances. And my first time seeing Tyne Daly, live and in person on stage. Alison had sent a note backstage to Bobby Steggert, rising Broadway star and originally from Frederick, worked with and friends with everyone I know although, somehow, he and I never worked together, and other than me being in the audience of a few of his shows in Frederick in those olden days and now, in New York, I don’t think we were ever even in the same room – although we did share a voice teacher and, as I said, tons of friends. In any event, after the show, we stayed long enough for Alison to talk to Mr. Steggert, who I have now met, and who, in addition to being ridiculously talented, is quite erudite, well-bred, and lovely to people hanging at the stage door after shows. Lovely guy at the end of a lovely show nearing the end of a lovely day with my lovely friends.

Alison and Bobby

The lovely and talented Alison back-alley at MOTHERS AND SONS with the lovely and talented Bobby Steggert.

We went our separate ways, Alison and Andrea heading for the train station since Alison had a sixteen hour work day coming on Sunday, while Sue, Pat, Cody and I headed back to the Algonquin so I could complain some more and have one last $23 cocktail. Which I did. And some rosemary steak fries. Cody had cake.

Cody and Charlie Algonquin 4Cody and Charlie Algonquin 3Cody and Charlie Algonquin 2Cody and Charlie Algonquin 1

11:15ish. Cab. To MegaBus stop. Nearly die on way. Alas, there is no bar-cart on street by bus waiting area. Bus arrives. We en-bus at 12:30ish. My favorite seats on second level at top of stairs are available again. Cody and I sit. Sue and Pat choose to ride on level one this time to avoid car-sickness that Pat experienced on ride up from being on wavy-weavy-second level of bus. So, on ride home they experience bumpy, bathroom-smelly ride of first level. Thank goodness there are only two levels as opposed to all of Dante’s circles, right?

Sunday, 5:30am. After the three and a half hour bus ride to White Marsh, and the one hour and change ride from there to Sue and Pat’s, and the twenty-minute drive from Sue and Pat’s to my house, which come at the end of 24 hours of being awake and eight hours or so in vehicles, four hours or so of being in a Broadway theatre, approximately nine alcoholic libations, priceless hours with the best and dearest and most loving, wonderful, perfect collection of friends with whom any one undeserving man has EVER been blessed, I am SMILING – yes, me, the well-known sobber, SMILING about having just had the best birthday ever.

I somehow know that my dear aunt, Sissie, ten years gone now and Queen of all things New York, birthday, and Algonquin, has somehow arranged all this – from the perfect group of friends, to the perfect shows, to the perfect last table at Joe Allen’s, to my favorite seats on the bus (twice) to every other perfect detail-HA! SHE’S THE DIVINE INTERVENTION ABOUT WHICH I WAS TALKING! And I smile one more time, throw off my clothes and drop into bed.

This was, indeed, as one of my friends who shall not be named said to me more than once, a HAPPY FUCKING BIRTHDAY! And all I have to say, to New York, to Broadway, to my dear aunt who taught me all of this, to my dear friends who indulged my birthday wish, and most especially to my dear Andrea who coordinated most everything and channeled Sissie, THREE WORDS.




American Horror Story: Coven … the end

jessica-lange-sarah-paulson-american-horror-story-covenI have loved every season of American Horror Story. Like children, each was quite different with its own unique blessings and foibles and glories and – I suppose – shortcomings. But, as far as I am concerned, Ryan Murphy is a genius. And, in some very strange and haunting ways, my doppelgänger.

In brief; when he made Popular, I was at the start of my dealing with adolescents terrorizing the world and being, somehow, responsible for them. When he put Glee on the air, so many of its story lines reflected the experiences I had had as a young thespian, and even more, the experiences I had had as a teacher, and most of all, the way he used existing music to illuminate and limn a new story was what I had been doing in my productions for years.Murphy and Peters crop

Then, American Horror Story. The first season obsession with old haunted, memory filled, trapped there houses was like my Libertytown; and the second season obsession with the strangely supernatural and Catholic symbolism – puhlease – my life, again; and this season, the power of the female spirit and the poison that can come from female power gone mad – oh my. And, Jessica Lange, who I have worshipped since Frances; and Sarah Paulson, who is the next Jessica Lange – it is almost torch passing; and Evan Peters, who is just – well, Ryan and I seem to have the same taste in young men.

Tonight, when Evan Peters character, Kyle, killed the character, Madison, played by Evan Peters’ real life lover, Emma Roberts – it was exactly what I would have done. And when he said – during the killing – “You’re not that good an actress.” Well, that is not only the sort of thing I would have done – it’s the sort of thing I repeatedly DID, using shows I wrote to serve as life lessons and hints for the people for whom I wrote the shows. Evan, listen to Ryan, dump Emma.

AndreaBUT THE VERY BEST THING ABOUT THIS SEASON, and why it was my favorite, was that my dear, dear, dear A, allowed herself to be nagged into watching. Every week, she, far out in her country home, and I, here on the outskirts of the burb, would text furiously back and forth throughout the show – often at the same time, the same line, same comment. I love me some A. Such a dear, dear friend – it is difficult to believe we have only known one another for such a short time, because it feels as if we have been approaching becoming Supreme together forever. Treasure.

So, I will miss AHS:COVEN and impatiently wait for October and the next season, but even more, I will miss the crazy, finger numbing, deliriously hilarious texting that A and I did through each episode.

And, honestly, Evan Peters ass.Evan Peters Coven 2Evan Peters CovenEvan Peters Coven 4Evan Peters Coven 3

I mean, who wouldn’t?

… beautiful days … beautiful people …

The past four days have been pretty beautiful.

Sunday I saw a friend, home for a brief college break, spent a beautiful, fun, over 21 evening together.

Tuesday I saw a friend, now a fantastic mom of a child who is not that far from the age she was when first we met, and we had a beautiful, grown-up conversation.

Today, from out of the blue, get a fantastic good news text from a gentleman from New York who had returned to Frederick to visit saying, “I would love to see you.” And we had a beautiful few grown-up hours, he is living the life he told me he would live when I first met him, a youngster barely having entered puberty.

Three people I have known since they were mostly children who have grown up to be beautiful (I love that word today) people, adults, full of joy, full of wisdom, full of life, and full of love for me – which I return without reservation.

I love it that I managed with some of my “children” to maintain connections, and that they have become such honest, delightful, loving, amazing, giving, loyal, forgiving, much cherished friends in my life.

Thank you, C and J and K; you’ve TRULY made these past four days (and many other days in my life) quite BEAUTIFUL for me.

. . . and your point? . . . i have none . . .

I have always been alone. I have no idea how to be alone.


I went to the gym yesterday, as I do most days, and most often, I go and am alone. I walked in and saw someone I knew, there with a friend. We spoke, briefly. An exchange mostly about planned suicides, mine in particular. And birthday parties. His, in particular. And my next, which, currently, coincides with my planned suicide. Then, we went on our ways.


I was pedaling on the recumbent bike when another friend approached. I have known her since we were sixteen. Many, many years. We had a deal then, if by the age of forty, neither of us had wed, we would wed one another. She wed. I didn’t. We have gone very different paths from our meeting way back when, cast members in a production of “GODSPELL” – my first turn as Jesus.

She congratulated me on looking ten years younger. Ten years younger than what? And I told her that since I had stopped smoking I have devolved into rather serious depression. She said, “Call your doctor, tell them you just need something to get you through.”

I don’t have a doctor. I don’t have insurance. I don’t have the facility or paperwork at the moment to visit a free health clinic, and I certainly don’t have the funds to purchase psychotropic drugs to “get me through.”

Get me through? What does that mean, really? Through what? I’ve been looking for something to “get me through” since I was – well – for as long as I can remember. I always – ALWAYS thought that Continue reading

…five circles of hell…i’ve kindled my own private inferno…


Okay, confession time. I can’t stand the guilt. I know the ghosts of Balzac, Proust, and Isherwood are bound to haunt me for it, but here it is: I have downloaded a book to read on the Kindle I was given for my birthday. I’ve been wanting to read “The Love SonMay 20 Kindleg of Jonny Valentine” by Teddy Wayne and although I looked, it never made it to the local bookstore. I have this Kindle and a gift certificate and . . . well, after weeks of delaying even plugging the device in, it is now fully charged and loaded with a novel. Please don’t hate me.



I’ve been thinking a lot about hate and the expectations people have (or have had) of me for the past week or so. I had hoped, by now, to be making a bit more money than I am with my combination of Continue reading

…the awesomeness of me…better stories about myself…

This is my new occasional series: THE AWESOMENESS OF ME; because:

“The most dangerous, damaging, and deleterious lies are not those we are told by others, but, rather, the ones we tell ourselves. Exercise for the day: take an inventory of the damaging beliefs you’ve believed about yourself, figure out the why and the wherefore if you can, then, if you need to – forgive yourself; but even more important: TELL YOURSELF A BETTER STORY ABOUT YOURSELF.”

charlie and lucky

1) Dogs LOVE me. By this I mean the canine variety. There could be an argument made that a particular breed of male one might term… Continue reading

…all my children…

I taught (and directed) for many, many, MANY years; years during which, through the doors of my classes and rehearsals came many of the people who now, years later, are some of my dearest friends. I wouldn’t be me (or truthful) if I didn’t say that those doors also saw the entrances (and exits, alas) of some people to whom Continue reading