Monthly Archives: February 2003

2/18/03 Day 59 of the

2/18/03

Day 59 of the Keep This One On The D.L., But We’re Still In Town Road Trip of Unexpected Delights

Chapel Hill, NC

On a day we were supposed to be barreling up I-95 en route to a snow-buried Brooklyn, we lost steam around 4pm and decided to stay in Chapel Hill, plans be damned. Tessa was cranky (it being Day 59 of a road trip that was originally only supposed to be two weeks or so) but after a sunshine run around UNC, she returned in great spirits. So great, in fact, that we treated ourselves to something we’d thought we’d miss this go-round: shrimp & grits and barbecue at Crook’s Corner. Jesus, we’ve eaten well on this trip.

I’d forgotten about the basketball game tonight until my old buddy Andy Bagwell of the late, great Selected Hilarity group hooked me up with tickets so we rounded out the perfect Chapel Hill day with a trip to the Dean Dome to see my beloved Heels put on a paint-stripping, chassis-throttling shellacking of North Carolina A&T. True, going up against the 0-20 Aggies is a bit like playing the St. Hazel Rotary Club Choir, but a 360-degree dunk by David Noel probably added five minutes to my life. In the year 2067, when I am on my four-poster deathbed gasping my last, I will thank David Noel for giving me enough time to get out something really witty.

Later tonight, we went over to Matt McMichaels’ place to show the trailer for The Pink House (I believe a very small version can be seen here) and talk shit well into the night. Yay for the simple, ancient pleasures of your college town!

2/17/03 Day LVIII of the

2/17/03

Day LVIII of the Bunker Mentality Cabin Fever Road Trip of Sorry, We’re Closing at 2PM

Chapel Hill, NC

Snow is always a magical thing in Chapel Hill; I went to school here five years, and it probably really snowed twice. It’s been a little more screwy lately (three snows this year alone) but this campus was picture-postcard made for it.

It being one of those days where nothing could be planned, all of us had nothing to do, and set up an impromptu gathering at Strong’s Coffee Shop (which used to be The Roastery, which used to be Judge’s Coffee, which used to be Barrel of Fun, an arcade where I spent approximately $750/year on Track & Field and Cyclone Pinball). First Tessa and I got a couch, then Dana showed up, then Lindsay and Matt, then Chip, then Colin Soloway and his new gal Emily Hodges.

Colin, for those of you who have been watching CNN lately, is Larry King’s favorite war reporter, and has been asked not only to guest-host the show, but be Larry’s correspondent for any possible Iraq war. Unbelievable! Ever since Colin’s first breathless reports of finding the “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh, Larry King has fallen in love with him, the kind of love grandfathers have for their favorites.

We all chatted about the war (of course, Colin and his ilk secretly want it to happen ‘cuz it’s good for business), our wedding (where, inshallah, we shall all gather again), and the Sara Foster cookbook (by all accounts, simply a must-have for any displaced Southerner).

Tonight, we played Scrabble and I had a commanding lead over Sean, Jordana and Chip

2/16/03 Day 57 of the

2/16/03

Day 57 of the Jesus Christ Ma! It’s Snowin’! We Gotta Git Us Fourteen Gallons ‘o Milk Road Trip of Southerners and Snow

Chapel Hill, NC

Everywhere we go on this trip, we stay longer than we intend, but this time it won’t be due to laziness or scads of unfinished business North Carolina has been socked in by a major winter storm that has everyone freaked out, buying hundreds of eggs and batteries and shit. It’s hard to make fun of them for their paranoia, since the ice storm in December took out the power grid for five days

2/15/03 Day LVI of the

2/15/03

Day LVI of the Not Since the Days of Erasmus Has Drama Been Turned Upside Down Road Trip of Lord Chip Chapman Stooping to American Theatre

Chapel Hill, NC

I rarely have to be anywhere by 7am, which made this morning’s call time for directors particularly excruciating. And since I stopped drinking both coffee and Coke, getting through the morning at Chapel Hill’s first-ever rendition of the 24 Hour Plays took an act of will not seen since I survived Mr. Sims’ morning Government ’84 seminar without toppling to the floor.

As directors, we got to choose one play (out of six) the same way pledges rush sororities: we picked our top three, and got the play that wanted us the most. Mine was called “Mr. Nice Guy,” which was a sweet, violent, surreal little ditty that was one man’s revenge on a tap-dancing insult comic. My actors were off book pretty early, and nailed it at the performance. The only person that missed a line, of course, was me – I was supposed to introduce one of the characters from offstage, and totally forgot. Oh well.

Ross, Nelson and Lizzie doing a last-minute runthrough of our play

Tessa’s hilarious, chatty depiction of a bisexual dating party was a crowd favorite, and had me beaming the whole time. But the true pice de magnifique resistance was the triumphant return of His Very Reverend Sir Lord Chip Chapman to the American stage, where he portrayed an anchorman living in the brain of a college boy, detailing his romantic progress with a hot girl in the dorm. Sure, Woody Allen had explored the idea before, but Monsieur Chapman provided just the right sprinkle of panache to elevate the material into the night’s easy favorite.

Chip, at left, shows us all how it’s done

We all gathered at Henry’s for a while afterwards, and talked about all the UNC folks we dug they have a good gaggle of artistes, this present crop of Tar Heels. Further proof was to be found at Mill Creek apartments, where the techie folks were hosting the cast party. I thought it would be the usual Chapel Hill apartment party: loud, undulating, sweaty, prefab shithole with broken towel racks and 145 people, all smoking, all saying something stupid.

Instead, it was a spotless, technophilic, gorgeous little pad with Barbra Streisand albums, “Flaming Queen” bathroom soap, Dave Brubeck on the stereo, and lots of great theater conversation over games of Spades. Yay for gay college students!

at Henry’s after the show: Matt, Tessa, Chip, Sean, Lindsay, Jordana, me, Scott, Carrie

2/14/03 Day 55 of the

2/14/03

Day 55 of the Better Think Quick Road Trip of No Time to Get in Your Own Way

Chapel Hill, NC

I must keep this brief, as I will be required to wake up in about five hours’ time to direct my first 24 Hour Play – I’ve written two of them on different continents, and attended several, but this will be my first directing since Pink House reshoots last September. I’m psyched, especially since Tessa is over in Hamilton 100 right now, staying up all night to write her 10-minute play. The Carolina kids we met tonight were all fabulous, all gregarious, genuinely funny, outgoing sorts who made me really miss being down here. God, there was never an outlet like this for us; I hope they take advantage of it. The only wet blanket was this one chick who wanted us not to make fun of Jesus, but I’m sure we could work that one out. She says she wants to be an actress, but would not make it past the pretzel guy at the Port Authority if she ever came to New York.

Lindsay Bowen doing his impersonation of Charles Foster Kane

We ran into Susan Comfort today downtown, which was great, since she was carrying her new baby! Lesbian moms are the best, I swear. At least that’s one kid that won’t end up clamoring for World War III.

Oh, and I got a haircut. Whaddya think?

Whaddya mean, it makes me look fat?

2/13/03 Day 54 of the

2/13/03

Day 54 of the Scattered Emotions Over a Mackerel Sky Road Trip of Our Coats of Many Colors

Chapel Hill, NC

First, the good news: apparently I am made of such stuff that actually does get nauseous – for 24 straight hours – from half a Cuban cigar. I woke up fine, which is cool because I don’t have the Norwalk Virus or anything, but is uncool because apparently I now have to cross off one of the Simple Joys of Being an Elder Man. I always thought I’d eventually take up cigars, and fetishize them like subscribers to Cigar Aficionado Magazine and have a walk-in humidor and all that. Clearly, cigars have joined Rumplemintz shots on the list of Shit I Can’t Do No Mo’.

Secondly (which apparently isn’t a word): I scanned several pages of my baby book while at my mom’s place in Mt. View, and one of them dealt with the issues of the day, you know, what the country’s zeitgeist was while I was being born. It being 1967, she mentioned mini skirts, paisley and sticky tape.

detail from the baby book

So I thought I’d share another kind of sticky tape for Zeitgeist 2003; namely, the batches of the shit being bought by Americans trying to protect their houses from chemical or radiological terrorism. There has been a run on plastic sheets, batteries, water and flashlights around the country over the last few days, which would be really depressing if we weren’t so beleagueredly used to it by now.

I saw a local news report tonight of a woman in a army surplus store buying gas masks for her family; the 3-year-old took the pacifier out of her mouth, tried on a mask and yelped “I want this one, mommy!” Then, of course, the requisite shot of a kook in Virginia who has cloaked the entire outside of his house in plastic painter’s sheeting, exclaiming, “I gotta do something with all this anxiety, man!”

Frankly, the problem with all this talk is that it is ultimately unsustainable with other “hunkering down” situations like a hurricane, we have a weather report, radar, and a good estimation of when it will hit, and how long it will last. The shit we’re wading though now, however, has the ineffable quality of dreams, the ungraspable horizon of paragraphs without periods.

Besides, anyone who has done any research on the subject knows that short of an actual nuclear weapon (highly unlikely), the next terrorist attack will only kill the unlucky sots who happen to be on that train, in that mall, at that sporting event, or through Times Square that afternoon. The rest is all anxiety, hearsay, speculation on the internet, and endless stories about how you were right in that spot two weeks ago.

Tessa says that the Bush Administration issues these warnings and tries to couple Iraq with Al-Qaeda for one purpose: the instillation of fear silences questioning, and the lack of questioning feeds their power. It’s hard for me to even venture a guess at the inner workings of the intelligence community; I think it’s really just a litmus test for your own cynicism. Believe what you want to believe. But I do feel sorry for new mothers, writing in their baby books today about the zeitgeist of America during their child’s infancy. I hope all this crap including entries like today’s blog

2/12/03 Day 53 of the

2/12/03

Day 53 of the Vagus Nerve Road Trip of Esophagal Agony

Jasper, GA to Chapel Hill, NC

Well, I’d like to correct something from my last entry… apparently a little bit of Scotch and half a Cuban cigar is not what I need right now. I’ll spare you the details, but after writing last night’s blog, I spent eight hours in the bathroom throwing up.

I’d had episodes like this before with tobacco once, while visiting Duke University with the Pate twins, I tried “dipping” for the first time, and puked all over the Bryan Center. But I’ve had plenty of cigars before, so this one hit me from left field. In fact, this wave of nausea is so bad and long-lasting that I worry it might be the stomach flu.

This I do know: today was one of the worst seven hours on an American highway I have ever spent. We were trying to push it in order to make it to the Virginia game at the Dean Dome and I arrived, bedraggled, matted with cold sweat and greenfaced. Sweet Tessa, who dealt with my moaning misery all night, had to help me up the stairs to the Dean E. Smith Center.

There were only nine minutes left in the game, but it was worth it. For nine whole minutes and even a time out or two

2/11/03 Day 52 of the

2/11/03

Day 52 of the Pickens County’s Finest Steakhouse Road Trip of All U Can Eat Soft Serv Ice Cream

New Orleans, LA to Jasper, GA

In a day full of terrible news, most of it centered on a war nobody wants and a looming terrorist threat over the city my loved ones and I call home, the only true therapy lies in visiting your oldest friends on top of a mountain, emotional light years away from the troubles that beset your brain. I’ve needed lots of Celexa and a healthy bushel of therapy to get through the last year-and-a-half of anxiety (for reasons well-documented here) but perhaps a few more Cuban cigars and a tiny snifter of 18-year-old Scotch on Salem’s porch would help just as much.

Finally, we got to Jasper at a decent hour the last three times we’ve come to this sleepy little town in the Georgia Appalachians, it was 2am and all the kids were asleep. This time, we ate dinner with them and got to enjoy the surreal humor of McColl (no doubt cribbed from Salem himself), and the gentle, sensitive beauty of Victoria (courtesy of her mother Elizabeth). Lillie-Anne, the baby, was asleep in her crib all night, but I snuck in and held her hand for a few seconds, as she yawned and nodded in a swimmingly good baby dream.

me, Tessa, Victoria, Elizabeth, Salem and McColl

I could live in a town like this for a while; Tessa and I could take room a somewhere, as long as it had a fireplace and a good chair for writing. Salem and Elizabeth are considering another house up the mountain a million-dollar estate that is being sold for almost nothing. It has an indoor basketball court, which would make a winter’s respite here so obvious as to be a total “duh-ruh!!!”

2/10/03 Day 51 of the

2/10/03

Day 51 of the Deep, Salty Bayou Brackish Backwater Road Trip of Spanish Moss and Still Live Oak

New Orleans, LA to Convent, LA

I’ll be amazed if this blog posting works we are truly as In the Deep Buttocks of Nowhere as one gets in America, here in the salty marshlands of Convent, LA (which is just outside Gramercy, LA