Notes from NYC #1
The first week here in NYC has been an amazing cultural re-set. Did you guys know they have, like, theatre in New York? And museums and shit? It's great! And the cultural tourism has been great for my own inspiration...I've written more in the last seven days than I have in the last seven weeks.
So what's inspiring me this week?
"Seated Ballerina," at Rockefeller Center through June 2
Jeff Koons' work is as whimsical as it is beautiful, and "Seated Ballerina" is no exception. The inflatable sculpture is gorgeous, ambitious, delicate, and powerful. That's a combination that distinguishes the abilities of a true artist. I am so glad I was able to see this before they pack it away tomorrow!
Julius Caesar, from The Public Theatre's Free Shakespeare in the Park program
Not only was this performance free (thank you, Public Theatre!), but it was also one of the finest iterations of Shakespeare I've ever seen, Julius Caesar or otherwise. The cast was an absolute force of nature; Cory Stoll as Brutus; Elizabeth Marvel as Antony (that's right, a woman as Antony, and MAN did she kill it); Gregg Henry played a pitch-perfect Trumpian Julius Caesar; John Douglas Thompson played the part of Cassius, and damn it all if he's not my new favorite actor of all time. The rest of the cast was equally amazing, and watching this cast act its collective heart out in the rainy cold of Central Park during a blustery early-summer cold front was just jaw-dropping. If there's one thing that makes a writer want to write, it's got to be a timeless script acted impeccably and directed with so much passion and verve that you don't think twice about sitting through the rain to watch a show that's more than two hours long with no intermission.
The strange and whimsical Ernest Shackleton Loves Me
I also saw the charmingly strange two-person musical Ernest Shackleton Loves Me. The show was pretty fun, but it's the talents of the two actors that really blew me away. The female lead was played by Valerie Vigoda, who is an electric violinist and songwriter, and who also wrote the music for the show. She played the hell out of that electric violin, and the live looping musicial tech work that accompanied the show was pretty incredible. The male lead was Wade McCullom, who just blew me away. He played a handful of different characters, and MAN was he fun to watch. The show (written by Joe DiPietro, the brilliant writer behind Memphis and I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change) is an odd little concept piece, but their passion made it really work. It definitely swirled a few new ideas around in the old noodle.....
A view of Central Park
Did you know I'm training for the New York City Marathon? It's true! Can you believe that? I guess we all make questionable decisions sometimes. At any rate, it's been pretty extraordinary, running through Manhattan, and you can expect a full post about it in the very near future. But for now, suffice to say, there's a lot of beauty here, and my favorite thing about running is that it helps me clear my otherwise-raucous-and-rowdy mind.
By the way, I'm training with Team to End AIDS, a training group sponsored by AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and I pledged to raise $3,000 for the non-profit in order to train with them. So this probably won't be the last time I ask...but they do SO much incredible work for people with AIDS and HIV in Chicagoland, their work is incredibly important, and if you can find it in your heart and in your budget to give, literally any amount will help! You can donate by clicking here, and everyone who donates will get their name on my race-day jersey! And seriously. Any amount. ANY amount will go so, so far. Thank you!!!
So all this inspiration is great...but what am I writing now?
Great question! And I'm almost ready to reveal a couple new projects. I just need to make sure they have legs first. But I've been working on three new projects this week, and I'm more than a few thousand collective words in, so I think we can safely assume that success is imminent. More on those very, VERY soon!
In the mean time, if you're not signed up for my newsletter yet, this is a great time to rectify that particular wrong! Sign up now, and you'll get a FREE copy of my first short story collection, Pants on Fire: A Collection of Lies! Just sign up below!