Rotterdam, New York. Thursday morning around nine. April 24, 2014. Posted from the road.
I’d never seen one of these before. Wonder how much business it does and who’s using it. There are probably companies and government agencies in the area with fleets of vehicles that run on natural gas but I’d expect them to have their own filling stations. But are there private cars out there running on natural gas? Who makes them? What’s their range? How do they work? Do they work? Guess I’ve got some googling ahead of me when I get home.
My problem with all the violence and bloodshed on Game of Thrones is that the nobles, who apparently can kill with impunity, never take their swords to people just for being annoying. Nobody gets it for talking during the movie, trying to buy 30 items in the 10 items or less line, passing on the right, coming to church with a hacking cough due to a cold, tweeting in all caps, waiting until getting right up to the counter before even thinking about what to order. Civilization protects these irritants. We don’t do much of anything about them because it’s less irritating and less disruptive to let them irritate us. So they never learn their lesson and continue to go about breaking all the little rules the rest of us abide by in order not to go about in a constant state of irritation. But what’s the use of a total breakdown in civilization if you can’t at least take your broadsword to the tires of somebody who’s taking up three slots by parking their new Hummer at an angle so it won’t get dinged?
This morning I took the wagon down to get gas. There are two sets of pumps on a single island at the station. There was a single car on each side of the island. Both drivers had pulled up so that they blocked both pumps. Both were small sedans, a Honda Accord and a Hyundai. They had both just pulled in to so that they could see me and the two other cars looking to gas up. Did either of them bother to pull all the way up?
Why do you think I’m writing this post.
Not only didn’t they pull up, they each took their sweet time about getting out of their car. And of course neither one paid at the pump. And of course when they went inside to pay they each had to buy something. The driver of the Hyundai was a heavy-gutted man around fifty wearing a gray suit and sporting a brush cut. He bought a coffee. Large. With cream. And sugar. Oh, and he almost forgot. A donut. The Honda driver was a little younger. He wore a ball cap and glasses and the slightly stunned, resigned expression of someone who’d overslept and was late for work and was already hearing his boss yelling at him, again. Not that this made him hurry. Just the opposite. It slowed him down in an Oh what’s the use way as he bought his breakfast burrito, coffee, juice, lottery ticket, and stocked up on a few items for around the house. By the time he got back to his car, I was just about done filling up mine in the space finally vacated by the Hyundai, whose driver, as you might have guessed, was very careful not to meet my eye as he climbed in his car, set his coffee on the dash, buckled up, adjusted his seat belt, adjusted his mirrors, took a couple of sips of his coffee, searched around for a place to put it, decided against using the cup holder, and started up and nosed his way out, balancing his coffee on the steering wheel with one hand as he steered with two fingers of the other. The other driver avoided eye contact too as he took his time settling in behind the wheel of his Honda. So they both knew!
I managed to leave enough room behind the wagon for another car to pull in and so did the F150 that pulled in on the other side when the Honda dawdled on its merry way.
Like I said, civilized society functions because we let stupid and annoying people like this get away with being stupid and annoying. But Westeros isn’t civilized so why should they put up with it?
There are those who believe knowledge is something that is acquired---a precious ore hacked, as it were, from the gray strata of ignorance.
There are those who believe that knowledge can only be recalled, that there was some Golden Age in the distant past when everything was known and the stones fitted together so you could hardly put a knife between them...
Mustrum Ridcully believed that knowledge could be acquired by shouting at people...
It's amazing how good governments are, given their track records in almost every other field, at hushing up things like alien encounters.
One reason may be that the aliens themselves are too embarrassed to talk about it.
It's not known why most of the space-going races of the universe want to undertake rummaging in Earthling underwear as a prelude to formal contact. But representatives of several hundred races have taken to hanging out, unsuspected by one another, in rural corners of the planet and, as a result, keep on abducting other would-be abductors. Some have been in fact abducted while waiting to carry out an abduction on a couple of other aliens trying to abduct the aliens who were, as a result of misunderstood instructions, trying to form cattle into circles and mutilate crops.
The planet Earth is now banned to all alien races until they can compare notes and find out how many, if any, real humans they have actually got. It is gloomily suspected that there is only one---who is big, hairy and has very large feet.
The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.
If you lose your job, it doesn’t matter how you lost it. It’s your own fault. The company went under. A Bain-like hedge fund bought it and looted it and pumped up stock prices by kicking you and half the other employees out the door. You got sick. You got injured. You used up too much time in your bosses’ opinion taking care of a sick spouse, sick kids, a new baby, elderly parents. Whine all you want. It’s your fault. Now go away, loser, and leave the rest of us winners alone to enjoy our winnings without guilt or the slightest sense of obligation.
The Republicans’ rhetoric on unemployment---on all of life’s vicissitudes that routinely land people in need of help---is designed to make needing that help so shameful that we all become terrified of inviting that shame upon ourselves. And of course the surest way to wind up needing help is to lose your job and that makes losing a job the worst thing that could happen. We’re meant to be afraid to do anything that might cost us our job. We’re meant to feel so grateful just to have a job we’ll take anything the bosses’ dish out and accept whatever they deign to give us in the form of pay and benefits.
The object is to make us good employees, from the bosses’ point of view: Pliable, unquestioning, obedient, fearful, and cheap.
On top of this, it’s not enough that we’re afraid of losing our jobs through our own faults---and remember, it’s always our fault---we’re meant to be afraid of, resent, and outright despise anyone who might cost us our jobs: Boat-rockers, rabble-rousers, meddlesome liberal politicians, unionizers, any of our erstwhile fellow employees who’ve lost their jobs through their own fault and in the process possibly made us look bad in the bosses’ eyes.
And of course it goes beyond that. Our resentment, fear, and contempt is meant to extend to anyone, anywhere who’s lost their job and is asking for help. We’re meant to see them as losers and deadbeats, not worth our time or attention or aid. We’re meant to push them away so their bad luck won’t rub off. We’re meant to turn our backs on them, tell them to go away, leave us alone, we got problems of our own, mac, so we can go about our business of keeping our heads down, keeping our noses to the grindstone, taking whatever comes with thanks, and never, ever asking what’s wrong with a country that throws people away like this, leaves them to suffer and starve, just so that a few already rich assholes can get richer?
A hundred less than solitudinous years ago when I was in Boston working in a bookstore and in charge of our literature section, Avon Books was publishing a series of paperback editions of the great Latin American writers of the day. Jorge Amado, Julio Cortazar, Mario Vargas Llosa, many others. The covers were white with fragmented paintings on the front, all in a similar style, maybe by the same artist. They were bright and rich with lush greens and sugary browns dominating the motifs, calling up images of jungles and cinnamon skin. Employees could take home as our own any paperback we desired by tearing off the front covers, which would be sent back to the publishers and written off as discards I rarely took advantage of this perk and I didn’t with this set because books have feelings and the covers were too pretty, too evocative, too much a part of the appeal of the books But we were also allowed to borrow books, encouraged to, in fact. The company wanted us to be able to make knowledgeable recommendations to customers. I borrowed most of these books over the course of a month and became insufferably knowledgeable. At that time, that was the point. Showing off my knowledge. I still thought of myself as a playwright in the making. I read fiction for fun or homework but not to help learn a craft.
Like I said, I read most of the ones we had in the store. Maybe all of them. All of them but one. However many I read, there was at least one I didn’t get to.
I don’t know why I stopped before I got that one or why I didn’t start with that one, since it was the most famous. Maybe I was saving it because it was the most famous. Maybe I thought that because it was the most famous it didn’t serve my purpose as an intellectual showoff. Everybody knew that one. Most likely what happened, however, is I found something else I felt needed to read first.
I’ve read other books and stories by Marquez since. Autumn of the Patriarch.Love in the Time of Cholera. One Christmas when I was home from Iowa and it still seemed not just possible but likely I was about to become a novelist in my own right, Mom and Pop Mannion gave me his Collected Stories. I loved that book, for itself, for his sake, for what it seemed to promise for me and my career. Today I went down to the basement and retrieved it from the box where it had been stored since our move here from Syracuse, ten and a half years ago. A dozen other books in the box with it and it was the only one time and damp had touched, its cover slightly warped, a few of its back pages bloated. I put it between two heavy books, hoping it’ll flatten out. I’ll read a story or two from it tonight, and then I’ll open the copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude I just bought and finally begin that one.
Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower and Going Clear, has written a play, Camp David, which is being performed at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC, and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see who’s playing Jimmy Carter.
There’s an irrationally hopeful part of me that keeps expecting that one of these days Paul Ryan will pop up in front of a camera and instead of announcing yet another version of his basic Starve the Little Children budget he’ll say, “Hey, folks! Guess what, I’ve been kidding all along. These ‘budgets’ of mine are jokes. I just wanted to see how appalling I could make them before the Political Press Corps noticed they don’t add up, they don’t even make sense, they certainly aren’t intended to be helpful and that rather than being the serious, thoughtful, center-right grown-up Republican they’ve been trying to present me as I’m a dangerous goofball and Right Wing tool. Doesn’t look like that’s ever going to happen. I could propose turning poor old people into Soylent Green and the Sunday talk show bobbleheads would only wonder why no Democrats were willing to even discuss a compromise with me on it.”
Just a few points here. I could, and will and do, go deep in the weeds on this sort of thing. But here’s pretty much all you need to know: his cuts to Pell grants–college tuition assistance for students from low-income families–comes under the section called “Expanding Opportunity.”
Strengthening the safety net is actually block granting SNAP (food stamps) and Medicaid. “Ending cronyism” is repealing Dodd-Frank. Orwell would blush.
At the diner. Woman at the counter regaling three old guys and the waitress with tales from her high school days, which I’d estimate at about thirty years ago.
“That’s what they called me in high school. Ass and Elbows. They all called me that. Ass and Elbows. My best friend got me a t-shirt that said that. Ass and Elbows. ‘Wear that proudly,’ she said, ‘Wear it proudly, cause that’s all any guy’s gonna see of you. Ass and elbows.’”
Coming to the bitter end of Peter Baker’s Days of Fire. Lots to think over. Hasn’t changed my mind that George W. Bush should never have been President. Wasn’t Baker’s intention that it should. But I’ll tell you what it has done.
Made me hope that if I search through the archives here I won’t find any posts in which I called Bush stupid or an idiot.
Another reason to keep reading Days of Fire is to be reminded that there was a time when someone who sat out the War in Vietnam to devote himself to ratfucking political opponents of Richard Nixon could stand up in public and question the courage, resolve, and patriotism of men who had not only volunteered to serve in that war but had been wounded in country:
In the midst of the discussion, Bush got more good news. Karl Rove received word that he would not be indicted. Rove was on a plane around 4 p.m. about to take off for New Hampshire when his lawyer called to tell him the prosecutor had informed him no charges would be brought. For Rove, it was a powerful relief. While he had maintained a public stoicism about the investigation, “behind the mask, the whole thing was scaring the hell out of me.” Now pumped up, Rove went on to deliver a red-meat speech to a Republican audience that night, accusing Democrats like John Kerry and John Murtha of “cutting and running” in Iraq. “They may be with you at the first shots,” he said, “but they are not going to be there for the last tough battles.”
Someday someone will write a book about how a professional weasel and smear artist like could not only get away with spouting off like that but be hailed as a political genius and then, based on that reputation as a political genius, go on to have a lucrative career as TV "analyst."
In case you were wondering, I'm still reading Peter Baker's Days of Fire and passages like this are why:
What Bush did not describe was exactly what the “alternative set of procedures” were. He did not disclose that [Khalid Sheik] Mohammed had been waterboarded 183 times and [Abu] Zubaydah 83 times. Nor did he describe ho Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the Saudi accused of directing the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, was waterboarded twice and threatened with a power drill and a loaded handgun in a mock execution; if Nashiri did not talk, he was told, “we could get your mother in here.” Bush did not describe other techniques, including forced nudity, slamming detainees into walls, placing them in a dark, cramped box with insects, dousing them with water as cold as forty-one degrees, and keeping them awake for up to eleven days straight. He rejected the notion that all this constituted torture. “I want to be absolutely clear with our people and the world,” Bush said. “The United States does not torture. It’s against our laws and it’s against our values. I have not authorized it, and I will not authorize it.” This reassurance, however, meant only that as long as he and his lawyers determined that a tactic was not torture, then he could say he did not authorize torture, even if it was deemed torture by the rest of the world.
Definitely not the apology for Bush I was afraid it might turn out to be. It was almost impossible that it could have been. You can't set out to chronicle that administration without its becoming a chronicle of ineptitude, corruption, misfeasance, malfeasance, and political, military, intellectual, and moral failure.
Tuesday. April 8, 2014. Two or so in the afternoon. Outside the convenience store, four old men well past retirement age, three in ballcaps, one, the one who still has a full head of hair, bareheaded, all four with hands dug deep inside the pockets of their windbreakers, standing on the sidewalk enjoying what is passing for the spring weather. Out the door bursts a young man, no more than thirty, swinging a gallon of milk and singing.
Strolls by the old men towards his mud-spattered SUV. Just as he reaches for his keys he reaches that line in the song.
You know which one.
He belts it out at the top of his lungs as if he thinks he has an audience waiting for a strong finish.
The old men turn their heads slightly and give him a four-part side-eye.
“La de da la de dah!” the young man sings and slides in behind the wheel and drives away.
Lots to lament and deplore in this series of pictures showing various storefronts around Manhattan as they were ten years ago and as they are now, especially in the lower sets of photographs which are records of decline and decay and not gentrification. But up higher it’s not all lamentable and deplorable. It’s a good thing when failing and failed businesses are replaced with going concerns, even if the going concern is a Subway franchise. But of course it’s not good when a going concern makes way for nothing in the way of an improvement because the rent’s gotten too damn high or the changes in the neighborhood have driven away the clientele. I don’t get down to the city often enough to see what’s going on for myself. My sentimental bias has me thinking the world needs more bars like McHale’s than restaurants like Satya, but I never drank at the one and haven’t eaten at the other, so what do I know?
What got me in this one and in others and something I’ve noticed on some blocks when I’ve walked around is the disappearance of red brick and its replacement by metal---steel, aluminum, chrome---all of it with the shine, welcoming warmth, and visual appeal of polished tin.
I don’t know what the architects are thinking. I imagine the business owners are thinking, Just give me something that’s easy to hose down. But it appears as if the architects think people want to live, work, and play in an environment with a minimum of visual and tactile interest and a maximum of sterility and self-containment, as if sealed in against germs and spoilage. That is, inside a can.
To some the young Mickey Rooney will always be Andy Hardy fumbling his way towards adulthood and getting laughed at by love along the way or a babe arm in arm with Judy Garland singing and dancing and putting on a show. But to me he’ll always be working his way towards inventing the phonograph and the light bulb. Rooney and Virginia Weidler in Young Tom Edison.
The real fun in this post is in following the links.
To honor Mickey Rooney tonight, do not watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Instead, try The Black Stallion or Carl Reiner’s often overlooked The Comic starring Dick Van Dyke as a Buster-Keaton-esque silent movie star and Rooney delivering a terrific performance as his put upon but always devoted friend and sidekick, Cockeye.
One of my favorites of his performances, though, was on television, in an episode of Naked City called Oofus-Goofus.
Remember, the basic corporatist conservative premise is that the country exists for the care and feeding of millionaires and the driving economic principle is that it’s better to make one rich person one dollar richer than a hundred working people a penny less poor. School “reform” with its attendant push towards privatization, union busting, and standardized testing administered for a hefty profit by private corporations encapsulates both that premise and that principle.
Simply put, they want all the money!
Then, in January 2013, teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School announced they would refuse to give their students the Measures of Academic Progress Test—the MAP test. Despite threats of retaliation by their district, they held steadfast. By May, the district caved, telling its high schools the test was no longer mandatory.
Garfield’s boycott triggered a nationwide backlash to the “reform” that began with Friedman and the privatizers in 1980. At last, Americans from coast to coast have begun redefining the problem for what it really is: not an education crisis but a manufactured catastrophe, a facet of what Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism.”
Look closely—you’ll recognize the formula: Underfund schools. Overcrowd classrooms. Mandate standardized tests sold by private-sector firms that “prove” these schools are failures. Blame teachers and their unions for awful test scores. In the bargain, weaken those unions, the largest labor organizations remaining in the United States. Push nonunion, profit-oriented charter schools as a solution.
If a Hurricane Katrina or a Great Recession comes along, all the better. Opportunities for plunder increase as schools go deeper into crisis, whether genuine or ginned up.
The reason for privatization Chris Hedges, the former New York Times correspondent, appeared on Democracy Now! in 2012 and told host Amy Goodman the federal government spends some $600 billion a year on education—“and the corporations want it. That’s what’s happening. And that comes through charter schools. It comes through standardized testing. And it comes through breaking teachers’ unions and essentially hiring temp workers, people who have very little skills.”
Heading up to Syracuse this morning. Taking Potter’s Avatars to see the mantinee performane of the drama department’s production of Brecht’s The Good Woman of Setzuan. I’ve seen a whole lotta Brecht in less than a year. Caucasian Chalk Circleback in May. A Man’s a Man just a couple months ago. And, psst, don't tell my students, but once you've seen one Brecht, you've pretty much seen them all. The Caucasian Chalk Circlewith Christopher Lloyd was a lot of fun, but in that Bertolt Brecht was balanced off by some Chekhov---Pavel, not Anton---and a little Rocket J. Squirrel. My review of A Man's a Man sums things up for me. Here it is again, in case you missed it, A Man’s a Man: Brecht at his most obviously Brechtian:
Justin Vivian Bond as the Widow Begbik sings a lament over the not really deceased but increasingly dead to himself Galy Gay (Gibson Frazier) in Classic Stage Company’s production of Bertolt Brecht’s very Brechtian A Man’s A Man.
Stated simply, the title of Bertolt Brecht’s A Man’s A Man might sound like a modest boast of every man’s intrinsic worth, as it is in Robert Burns’ poem A Man’s A Man For A’ That. But the original German title is Mann ist Mann which can be translated as Man equals man and with that in mind it might be better to hear 'A Man’s A Man" as part of a sarcastic dismissal of a man’s individual worth.
What does it matter who does the job? Him or you. A man’s a man, and one’s as good as another, a point Classic Stage Company’s roisterous, often rowdy production of one of Brecht’s earliest plays makes forcefully and persuasively in the first thirty minutes with much fun and ingenuity and then goes on making and making again with increasing ingenuity but with less persuasiveness and more gritted-teeth determination to have fun as it follows a script in which the young Brecht establishes his too Brechtian habit of repeating himself exhaustingly while growing more and more didactic with each iteration.
After a short while, all the enjoyment here is in the many ways director Brian Kulick , his production team, and his talented and exuberant cast have come up with to distract us from Brecht being Brecht.
Thematically, A Man’s A Man is about the mutability of identity and how society treats one human being as interchangeable with any other.
Theatrically, the best thing about the Classic Stage Company’s production of A Man’s A Man is its one central female character as played by the remarkable Justin Vivian Bond.
Bond delivers a sultry, sensuous performance as the Widow Begbik, the owner of a canteen serving soldiers of the British Army in a place that’s not exactly India---A colony’s a colony---in the days of the Raj, who claims to have had her identity, reputation, and true life story rewritten by the ungrateful and exploitive men who have passed through her bar and come and gone from her bed. She implies that who and what she appears to be is a surrender. She’s given in to her imposed identity and become what people say she is.
But Bond brings her so vividly and sympathetically to life that she seems to refute herself.
If this is a self written and foisted upon the Widow Begbik by others, she’s made it her own the way fine actors like…well, like Bond can make a character a thousand others have played uniquely their own.
The same can’t be said of Galy Gay, the man who is a man of the title, just not the man he thinks he is. Galy, a good-natured, obliging, and not particularly bright dockworker, is as rewritable, revisable, and cut and paste-able as an image in PhotoShop. What’s done to him in the course of the play is almost the theatrical equivalent of what gets done to Daffy Duck in the Looney Tunes classic Duck Amuck in which Daffy finds himself trapped on a drawing board at the mercy of a maliciously mischievous animator who turns out to be Bugs Bunny in full “Ain’t I a stinker?” mode. Galy is redrawn in different guises over and over again to the point where he can’t recognize himself or even remember himself anymore.
The plot of A Man’s A Man is, we’re warned right up top by the whole cast shouting in unison, “Incomprehensible!” It’s not, really. It’s that Brecht isn’t much interested in developing it. It’s like all his plots, the rails on which the train carrying the jokes, songs, lectures, and occasionally fully-realized scenes runs.
On his way to buy a fish for his wife to cook for dinner, Galy Gay is intercepted by three soldiers who introduce themselves as his new best friends, ply him with beer and cigars, and convince him to do them a small favor.
Could he put on a uniform and pretend to be a missing member of their squad at roll call this evening? Nothing to it, really. Just blend in among the rank and file and shout Present when they call our missing mate’s name? There’s a sergeant who has it in for us and if you help us fool him like this you’ll save us all a world of trouble.
Friend’s name is Jip. Jeraiah Jip. When you hear it, just call out good and loud.
What the three don’t tell Galy is that Jip isn’t so much missing as hiding. The four of them tried to rob a temple and when the robbery went awry Jip left behind a clue that could identify him as one of the would-be robbers. But more than they're concerned Jip might get caught, they’re afraid that his getting caught will lead to their getting caught.
The trouble is the suspicious sergeant is a bloodhound. The ruse has to continue past the point Galy is willing to go along with it. Then the soldiers hit on the idea that the best way to convince Galy to go pretending to be Jipp is to convince him he is Jipp.
What follows is an extended clinic on brainwashing that involves a stolen elephant, a mock court martial and execution, and Galy delivering the oration at his own funeral. Galy begins to lose track of who he is. Is he himself or somebody else or nobody else? Maybe Galy Gay was an alternative self he dreamed up. But does it matter? A man’s a man, after all.
With his lantern jaw, aquiline nose, and high noble brow and forehead, Gibson Frazier, who plays Galy, looks like he might be about ten years or so away from being typecast as a Supreme Court Justice or Roman general. But he has a close-set pair of beady dark eyes and an expressive mouth that frantically reset and reshape themselves within the handsome outlines in a desperately friendly attempt to approximate the appropriate expression to meet whatever’s being said to him and since most of what’s being said to him is absurd or insane or intended to confuse, rather than presenting a portrait of judicial sagacity or military formidableness, Frazier’s face is a constantly and fast moving montage of comic misapprehension, bafflement, existential terror, and short-circuited thought. And he has a wiry muscularity that allows him to assume in an instant whatever body-shape and posture that expresses who Galy thinks he is or ought to be at moment.
Martin Moran, Steven Skybell, and Jason Babinsky play Galy’s new friends who become the mad behavioral scientists engineering his identity swap, a charming trio of rogues and Brecht’s variations on Kipling-esque Tommy types who would turn up less conscience-impaired in the movie Gunga Din played by Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Victor McLaglen, and Cary Grant. Moran is the soft-spoken, smooth-talking con artist Uriah Shelley. Skybell plays the Irish bully boy Jesse Mahoney. And Babinsky is Polly Baker, the would-be charmer too self-infatuated to see he’s having the opposite effect on the ladies than the one he imagines. Babinsky gets the funniest moment of fourth wall-breaking when he swaggers up to a member of the audience and, unasked, takes her program, autographs it, and wafts it back with an obliging “There you go,” as if he’s done her a favor but of course doesn’t want her to make a big deal of it, he’s just that kind of nice guy for a star.
Andrew Weems plays the real Jeraiah Jip as a jovial and clueless sort whose own weak investment in himself as a self makes him a perfect candidate for replacing by someone, anyone else. Stephen Spinella is the suspicious sergeant whose nom de guerre is Bloody Five, a self-important poseur who begins to lose track of himself when a sexual meltdown brought on by his slavish infatuation with the Widow Begbick causes him to revert to the weakling he fears he really is and shed his identity as the very model of a modern soldier and killer.
Allan K. Washington and Ching Valdes-Aran fill out the cast and fill in around the edges in various roles, Washington most notably as Galy’s accidentally abandoned wife and Valdes-Aran as Mr Wang. A man’s a man, except when he’s not or she is.
A Man’s a Man may not be Brecht at his most didactic. But it is him at his most obvious. He wrote the play in his twenties as his farewell to expressionism and he was just working out the tropes and tricks, themes and alienationalist strategies that would become his hallmarks and signatures. A Man’s A Man is a working model of the kind of theater now known as Brechtian. It’s like one of those glass-bodied concept cars at the auto show that let you look in and marvel at the genius engineering in action.
In effect, Kulick and his actors and designers are staging a demonstration of how to stage Brecht and having a grand time doing so. This makes stars of the show out of Paul Steinberg’s colorful and dynamic set design and Justin Townsend’s evocative and transformational lighting.
Gabriel Barry’s costumes and Matt Kraus’ sound design are excellent in support.
But, as I said, the real star is Bond who makes the Widow Begbik a brilliant special effect.
A MAN'S A MAN by BERTOLT BRECHT. Directed by BRIAN KULICK. Featuring JASON BABINSKY, JUSTIN VIVIAN BOND, GIBSON FRAZIER, MARTIN MORAN, STEVEN SKYBELL, STEPHEN SPINELLA, CHING VALDES-ARAN, ALLAN K. WASHINGTON, and ANDREW WEEMS. At Classic Stage Company, 136 East 13th Street, New York, NY 10003. Through February 16. Call 212.352.3101 or visit the website for tickets.
Photos by Richard Termine, courtesy of Classic Stage Company.