Sunday … endings, beginnnings, waitings, continuings

10:00 a.m.

My final day at this house/pet-sitting adventure. I’ve been up since 4:30. Tess and Gwennie are early risers. I Sunday morning pre-gamed last evening at Dunkin Donuts, and the New York Times – the real one – is here delivered, so the early rise and ensuing hours were akin to Christmas morning.

I’ve also changed the sheets, cleaned and tidied, emptied the trash, loaded my car; there is nothing now but to nap and read and wait for 11pm, when the owners of this warm and welcoming home return from the rodeo (I think).

Last night, while I was crawling into the luxe-comfort of the beautifully wrought, iron-framed bed in which I sleep when here, I was uncharacteristically – and quite briefly – lonely. The thing is, I have never long (or short) term, consistently shared my bed with a lover. My lovers have been – by and large – people for whom I was not the primary concern, first choice, actual spouse, someone about whom they wanted others to know. I was a secret, a diversion, a decision never really made. So, I am quite accustomed to and fond of sleeping alone. I am an introvert and a solitary man, near hermit-like in my habits, usually content to have my secrets, silence and my books, a few very dear friends, and – of late – my Twitter-actions.

But, last night, quite briefly; Lonely. A loneliness brought on by my undressing. Not like that. In the many quick-pick-up-and-get-the-hell-out moves I have made in the last decade, along with all the skins and people I have shed, I’ve let go of many belongings, including clothes, paring my wardrobe to a small collection of a few pair of jeans, black T-shirts, gym clothes, and lounge-wear, that last consisting of souvenir shirts from the few shows I’ve seen so important to me I could not let the Ts go. My favorite, and the one I was taking off last night to get into bed, is from the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia’s genius production of the legendarily-failed, cult musical, Sideshow.

I love Sideshow. The original was an obsession. My aunt, Sissie, was still alive when it opened and I visited her at Record Street – the same assisted living home where my Mom has now ended up – when Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner were on the Rosie O’Donnell Show, performing numbers from the show, and, too, I spent Thanksgiving morning there with Sissie, in her room, and watched them perform in the Macy’s Parade. Too, I tried to see the closing weeks of the show but was thwarted by my involvement as director/producer of a production of Annie, and by someone who did a lot of thwarting of things that meant the world to me. Too, I later produced and directed a version of Sideshow, which marked a very dark period with a group of very ungrateful kids for whom I’d sacrificed a great deal over the years and who treated me like shit during that show, and it was – in retrospect – when I ought to have stopped teaching; alas, I went on another ten years. And then, most recently, I attended the revival pre-Broadway tryout at the Kennedy Center with dear ones, and sort of erased – or, at least, eased the pain of – some of those memories and made new ones.

So, yes. Sideshow means a lot for me. Echoes. Reverberations. And I’ve now lost enough weight that the extra-large T-shirt, in addition to stretching, un-ravelling at seams, and wearing thin and smooth in that way material can come to hug and caress one as it ages, is also rather long on me, almost like a nightshirt. I’m standing by the bed, stripped down to just the shirt, and from nowhere I hear the sentence in my head:

“Wouldn’t it be nice for once in my life to have someone to sleep beside who understood what Sideshow meant and means to me? Someone who would stay?”

And I cried a little. Because that isn’t going to be my life, because that has never been my life, and because I will never know what that is like. And, maybe, I missed something.

And my aunt, Sissie, was the same. She slept alone for all of her nine decades. She died at Record Street. Alone. I was not even called the night it was happening. I still feel guilty. After Sideshow, she became less and less lucid, often thought I was my father, and we didn’t talk about musicals anymore. Now, my Mother lives there. Now, in four days, my Mother is having a risky operation. Now, I have these books and these memories and these T-shirts that hold me, and a life not unlike Sissie’s was, and I am near 75% like she was and 25% like my Mom and 100% elated I have had both of them to love me and shape me and see me and embrace me, warm and aged and worn, both of whom loved me, love me, as I am.

So, dear ones, while I am often here lugubrious in my contemplations, I have a contentment that few people have. I love getting into bed, with my books, with my peace and tranquility, with my knowing – now – that I have taken the bulk and hulk of all that was my life and chiseled and whittled and sculpted it down into something small, and private, and beautiful, and true, and me.

Yes, I sleep alone, have always slept alone, but it was that sleeping alone, that choice, that made me these souvenirs, like the Sideshow shirt, well aged, and worn, and smoothed, and shaped, and now wrapped around me like an embrace – the warm embrace of the life I have lived, the peace I have earned.

Love and Light, dear ones – and wishes for souvenir shirt embraces of your own.

Zeitbites Friday … Freaks, Bad Weeks, and Tweets

Come look at the freaks . . .

It was announced this week that the beloved cult musical, “Side Show” will be returning to Broadway in its revised form [click HERE for NYTimes article]. I am second to no one in my love for the myth and magic of the original production of “Side Show” (although, when did SIDESHOW become SIDE SHOW?) and its inclusion in the pantheon of failed, big and brilliantly scored musicals alongside Merrily We Roll Along and Mack and Mabel. Once, in the long ago when I still had my beloved and much abused theatre company filled mostly with young (very young) people and did uniquely twisted, relevant, productions only a few bothered to attend, I helmed a production in which I, and my musical theatre illuminati partner in revisionist crime, Alison, re-wrote and re-arranged much of the show, making recitativo into spoken dialogue and cleverly using reflective materials on sets and costumes, catching glimmers of light which here and there flashed uncomfortably into the eyes of the audience, until the final reprise of “Come Look at the Freaks” when the ensemble sneakily dashed and turned on the house with a wall of mirrors to hammer home the point that we are all the freaks — no one ever called our productions subtle.

The revisions that have been made to “Side Show” now — in my humble “I have seen every musical since dirt” opinion — are both too much and not enough. The second act — as always — is still not strong enough. Messrs. Condon and Krieger and Russell, you are welcome to my mirror idea, and I will be happy to assist you. But, having seen the Kennedy Center production, I (and the others with whom I saw it) just don’t think it is a compelling enough re-dreaming to succeed, and I fear that if it fails again, it will fall into the so-so musical category rather than where it belongs, happily a legend among the Glorious Failures. Compare the revival to the original, here:

And now, the original twins, Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner:

I think that tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

That damn cat . . .

In addition to the house (and dogs) I have been sitting this week and the multiple trips to various doctors and airports and drugstores (oh my) I have also been checking in on a cat. I confess, I am a dog person. But I have stayed with this cat before on overnights, although in those cases, her sister dogs were there and this time they are not but I was warned she would be in a foul mood having been left alone in the house. Wow. Angry Kitty managed to urine-SOAK the New York Times padded round her box (I don’t think it was a comment on the level of journalism, although I suppose the cat could be a Wall Street Journal fan?) and, somehow, position her nether-regions up against the wall in order to defecate DOWN THE WALL? What? I spent about 45 minutes scrubbing, reloading newspapers and litter (although the evil furball had barely used the box) and looking to find the demonic feline so as to warn her that this sort of behavior would – in all likelihood – earn her the death penalty when her owners returned. She was nowhere to be found. Perhaps she ran away from home? Not a bad idea. I might try it myself if things continue along the path they’ve been going this week . . .

Techno-cursed . . .

The cat isn’t the only thing seeming to piss and shit all over areas of my life this week. First of all, there is HORRID cell coverage out here on the lake, so it takes for-fucking-ever to send a Tweet and requires running from one to another location in the house trying to catch bars. Consequently, I have had – shall we call them – some communication issues. Too, twice this week my new laptop has been acting up, making me unable to go on-line, the mouse behaves oddly, all sorts of things go wonky-wanky-winky and then, just as mysteriously and suddenly, it all straightens out. Bottom line, I’m sure it’s me but my adaptation to it is not going as well or as quickly as I’d hoped. And my phone has been behaving strangely as well. Then, two days ago, my car started doing that “I’m having trouble accelerating” thing again. And, final straw, yesterday, as I was driving to and from my various assigned tasks, I placed the mix-cd I long ago made myself that opens with Betty Buckley singing “When There’s No One” from yet another legendary failed musical, “Carrie” – and don’t you know, it started skipping and stalling and – well, I started to cry. I tried to calm myself down. I tried another cd. Same thing. I tried another cd port. Same thing. Now, I can’t have music? Remember when I had music?

That’s Alison playing for me. She gave me music for so many years. She is one of my very, very dearest. And Cody filmed me. I cried a lot that day. They both held me up.

When I was younger, I could never wear a watch. It would stop. Lose time. Gain time. Whatever. I suppose that I could attribute everything that has happened of late to my oddly powerful electromagnetic vibrations — it all fits in with my “I DON’T BELONG HERE ON EARTH – I’M A MISTAKE – I GOT OFF ON THE WRONG REALITY” — I’m going with that. I can’t talk about it. I think my Tweets this week tell the tale better.

Tweets to goodbye by . . . I’ll let my Tweeting tell the story . . .

  • I wonder if you ever regret having casually thrown me away & disregarded my feelings & topped it off by making me a villain. Are you sorry?
  • How Gay Am I? Garland in “Strike Up The Band” 8-10 on TCM. “TEEN WOLF” 10 on MTV. With doses of Cabernet, chest pains,& regret. Marry me?
  • My blog entry today has cost me 5 followers? What? How is “Yesterday did not go as planned. . .” a breakup w/me post?
  • Story of my life. Text from man: “I want you to come over but have to wait for my GF to leaf.” Reply: “What sort of houseplant is she?” FML
  • I’m thinking Bette Davis from “Little Foxes” (although I prefer Tallulah) & if you have to ask “Which lines” we cannot be friends.
  • Apropos my mood: RAGE/MELANCHOLY/SELF-PITY/REGRET. Remember I was almost famous as SWEENEY TODD?
  • If I told the story, no one would believe it. Which might be a good thing. Please, can I get to “The End”? So exhausted.
  • Today: Car cd player, computer, both BLEW the hell up in malfunctions and I was “shamed” on Twitter and in person. FML. So done
  • Perhaps my channelling of extreme psychic electromagnetic love/light/energy is causing all my electronics to explode? Let’s go with that.
  • Perhaps that is also what caused the awful cat I’m checking in on to pee all over the SundayNYTimes and poop ON THE WALL? What a week. FML
  • And my latest non-significant-other genius to text: “I didn’t get the 5 messages you sent.” Reply: “Yet, somehow you knew there were 5?”
  • Or, my Mother to say to me today about my dead father; “He was a genius, like you; so sad neither of you ever used it.” FML.
  • I do most heartily apologize to myself for decades of having allowed myself to be treated like crap by people I thought superior to me.
  • I wish I thought I could make it up to me but, sadly, I don’t think I can ever forgive myself. Therefore, I’m ending all communication w/me.
 . . . and so, here I am . . . going . . .
Oh, and did I mention that someone backed into me in a parking lot to start the week off?  Ram bam slam . . . somebody, get me outta here . . . to where I am . . . going . . .




Here comes the sun(set) … come look at the freak(show) …

sunset blvdFor the second week in a row this blog has broken visitor AND view records three days (so far) – I don’t know who you are, but I’m glad that this faded, failed, delusional diva’s scabrous scribbling about just this, my life, and nothing else, is entertaining all you wonderful people out there in the dark.

I’m ready for my close-up now, even though I’ve been through de’mill(e). It would be even MORE exciting if you would follow me on Twitter [CLICK HERE: MIRACLECHARLIE on TWITTER] and SHARE me with your friends. I know that my blog entries are rather LONGER than people say they ought to be — but here’s the thing, I come from another time, really. I’m of a different era and zeitgeist and … well, perhaps it is NOT that my BLOGS are BIG, but, rather, that your ATTENTION SPAN is too small! Yes, that’s it. I am big! It’s the attention spans that have gotten small. Oh dear . . . I’m fading more and more into this imaginary world of mine, follow me quickly, I haven’t much time left, you see . . .

gif sunset blvd2. . . because it’s fast approaching my birthday(month). I’ve no intention of discussing the details – although, there’s nothing tragic with being fifty, unless you’re trying to be 25 — but, I heard somewhere that stars are ageless, and I used to be BIG – before going to the gym and staving myself made me smaller – and so I freely exploit the “subtract 10” theory when it comes to age (and weight) (holy crap, I’m feeling awfully parenthetical today) I still LOVE having a ridiculous to-do to-done about and around my birthday. Once upon a time, I would make a solo Manhattan pilgrimage each year and celebrate there. Not alone, but, rather, at the Algonquin Hotel, surrounded by the spirit and energy of all those who had stayed there before, and, my dear aunt, Sissie, who had never gotten to stay there but who had in her decline, immobilized by blindness and illness in a senior-facility, made me promise not to wait until it was too late — as she had — to “visit the Algonquin”.

I think she meant something else, something more. She had spent her life — mostly — doing for others, serving the needs of others, sacrificing her wants for the wants of others, and to the casual and uninformed observer it might have seemed she was living off of the largesse of others, but that was not the case. Without her, many of those “others” would not have been able to have the freedoms and lives they had, and many, like me, would never have come to know themselves without Sissie being there to encourage and see and support us in our quest for self-dom. The only self she got was the one who put herSELF aside so others could thrive and bloom – she never got to be in love, she never got to go all the places she wanted to go, she put away her own scribbling and exploring so as to take care of others, make others happy. She saw what I was doing, recognized how unhappy and unfulfilled and unseen I was, and felt — I think — that I was her greatest project, the work of her life, and if I ended up as miserable as she had become at the end, she would have failed.

sunset blvd gifI promised her I would go. I did. And don’t you know she was right. I should have gone. And too, rather than get that and understand it, the people who claimed to love me didn’t “get it” or see me and celebrate it, rather, they resented that what I needed and wanted and deserved for ME, putting me first once in a while, cracked the crazy-mirror into which they looked each day like Snow White’s wicked queen asking “Who’s the ONLY person who matters at all?”

Trust me, Snow White I am not and never have been, but I also don’t eat any apples proffered. And I am ALWAYS on the lookout for dwarves eager to take me in and party.

Speaking of, Ryan Murphy has announced that the upcoming season of American Horror Story is going to be called FreakShow. I am a HUGE fan of carnivals, sideshows and freaks — as in Come Look at the … from the musical SideShow … which I never got to see on Broadway, the actual non-seeing of which was the event that prompted Sissie to give me the “don’t wait for the Algonquin” lecture and extract my promise. I used to go visit her on Thanksgiving morning and watch the parade — well, I watched, she listened while I described it — and when SideShow was in the parade and I was describing Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner and weeping because I couldn’t see the show — Sissie started in.

I’m expecting big things from Ryan Murphy on this. And given that he is PRACTICALLY my spiritual doppelgänger and has a fondness for musical theatre divas as deeply embedded in his DNA as do I, it would NOT surprise me (feel free to take this idea, Ryan) if he hires the Ripley and Skinner to play the aging Hilton Sisters who were still alive in the 1950’s when the show is rumored to be set. PLEASE!?!?!

Speaking of SideShow, I was informed last night that I am to keep the date of July 6 open as I will be seeing the tour of the revival of the show at the Kennedy Center that night! HUZZAH!

But before then, I’ve a LOT of birthday partying to which I must attend. For example, next Friday BEGINS the Month of fun. I am seeing CHER in concert!  Yes, it’s true. As if that wasn’t enough, I am being taken out to dinner beforehand at Voltaggio’s D.C. restaurant, PROOF. SO EXCITED!

Then, later in the month, making a daytrip to NYC with a group of my nearest and dearest friends for two — yes, TWO Broadway shows in one day! Seeing Jason Robert Brown’s new musical, The Bridges of Madison County, and Terrensunset boulevardce McNally’s new play, Mothers and Sons. YEE-EFFING-HA!

And then, in early May (which- technically – is outside the birthday month, but, OH WELL) I am being taken to see Megan Hilty at the Kennedy Center. I mean, really, could a birthday month be much better for a dilapidated, desiccated diva descending that final staircase, confessing his sins and nearing death?

MAX, WHERE AM I? WHERE THE FUCK AM I, MAX? And when is Joe Gillis coming back? I wish I’d had the good sense to shoot the bastard — but, unlike in the film, he never really had the balls to turn his back on me and walk away. He just sort of snuck out and pretended he wasn’t going. LIGHTS! CAMERAS! STAIR-FUCKING-CASE!

(Do I REALLY have to tell you AGAIN about the time I saw Miss Betty Buckley in SUNSET BOULEVARD – and how kind she was to me in the alley afterward? OR HOW I HAVE TWICE SEEN HER IN CONCERT AND DECIDED – though I do not believe in God or Heaven – that if I DID – it would be an eternity of Miss Buckley singing.)