Sunday, March 18, 2012

Review For A Walk in the Dark 2002

Note: I'm gearing up to finalize negotiations to remount my second solo show, El Hijo Prodigo, and my long term goals with the piece are to take it on the road. In preparation of that endeavor, I'm digging up old reviews for my first solo show, A Walk in the Dark, which received two. This one from the local alt-weekly, and another, which can't be found online anymore -- in fact, I had to obtain a copy from the Seattle Public Library, bless their souls. In order to have it available on line, I am transcribing that review, so that at least the two extremes of critical thought on the piece are represented...I used to have a shtick talking about the subjectivity of criticism, and these two reviews are a perfect example, as they both saw the exact same performance. - ja

A Walk In The Dark at Open Circle Theater

Seattle. Home of (sometimes) sublimated race politics. With our guarded language and left-wing evasions, where can we go to find the dynamics of diversity nakedly doing their weird, too often ugly dance? Buses. Metro buses, school buses, Greyhound buses. With fury and violence, or, more often, a no-less-deadly quiet politeness, buses are where the politics of sitting, talking, laughing and looking go down.

José Amador knows this, and chose buses as the thematic center of his brilliant one-person show A Walk in the Dark. A child of Puerto Rican parents, Amador's whiteness, blackness, bothness and neitherness don't square with America's crippling binary framing of the "race problem" as a black/white issue -- and he's not afraid to laugh about it. But this "semi-autobiographical look at race and homogeneity" laughs bitterly as well as gleefully.

Bearing blows from self-styled American blacks and whites alike, A Walk in the Dark's narrator tries to find his footing in an unimaginative either/or world of culture blocs built and driven by we who identify as Y-folks or Z-folks. The very categories we use to make sense of our world confound Amador, and he performs a convincing argument as to why our cultural logic is profoundly senseless.

A Walk in the Dark does one of art's critical jobs -- it tells us things about ourselves with a gutsy energy that our politicians and press can't or won't attempt. It tells us with an encouraging, humane voice, not pedantic and self-righteous, not simply wallowing in the gore of race politics.

The theater is a tiny place and was perhaps half full. This is, in its way, disappointing -- Amador has crafted a well-written, well-paced show everyone in the Americas (and many beyond) can enjoy and learn from. Nevertheless, theater is important the way graduate seminars and startling encounters on buses are -- though few people have the opportunity to participate in them, their ideas and revelations work themselves out to impact the world at large.

Amador's is one of these important seeds. Count yourself lucky that A Walk in the Dark is being performed anywhere, and even luckier if you get to see it. Has no one else in Seattle yet reviewed A Walk in the Dark? A quick internet search of our major papers' archives comes up negative. For shame. José Amador is giving us one of the most remarkable works of theater -- no, art -- this city has seen in a long time.

Brendan Kiley
Tablet Magazine, July 25 - August 7, 2002

Saturday, November 22, 2008

B. Jones: Schadenfreude

No, I can't let it go.

Mind you, I'm not as bitter as I was six months ago, but the animus I feel toward the OKC ownership group, and the commissioner of the NBA hasn't really let up. This, despite the fact that I can't stop participating in the overall product.

I've already seen a couple of games at the local, and my fantasy basketball team is called the "Fuck D. Stern." I doubt I'm alone in either that sentiment, or predicament.

(For the record, I am not ambivalent about the possibility of having Seattle get another team in the same manner they lost one. I am as against that idea as I am about getting a venereal disease. No, that analogy is not overblown. I don't blame the contingent in Seattle, or in any other city that wants a team, that would welcome such a move.

What I would love to see, however, is for cities who are being courted to host an NBA team to get a little bit of backbone, stand up and demand both results and loyalty from the bastards. If they want to be in your city so bad, then surely it is worth it for them to stay for 50 - 70 years, and to pony up 60% - 75% of any future expenditures in building costs. No ownership group would ever go for such a deal, but I say make things as difficult for them to get their way as possible.

I am reminded of this musical exchange in The Simpsons' monorail episode: "Were you sent here by the devil?" "No good sir, I'm on the level." Stern, as a charlatan, doesn't even rate comparisons to the original Music Man.)

Unsurprisingly, it hasn't been a complete month into the new NBA season, and the OKC Thunder organization is tanking so badly, I wouldn't be surprised if they started talking about relocation within seven years. After the karma police caught up to Aubrey McClendon (the man responsible for letting it be known that the ownership group had intended to move the storied Sonics franchise to OKC all along, and for saying that OKC wouldn't want the WNBA Seattle Storm's ostensibly lesbian fanbase in their city) by wiping him out at the stock market, yesterday it tapped on the shoulder of the man hired by the ownership klowns to ensure that Sonic fan interest in their team remained minimal.

Yes, PJ Carlesimo has been fired as head coach of the Thunder after a 1-12 start. So long, douchebag! Good luck getting another head coaching position!

Cheesefucks, all of them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

If Any Form Of Pleasure Is Exhibited

Report to me and it will be prohibited!
I'll put my foot down! So shall it be!
This is the land of the free!

-- as sung by Groucho, during the opening musical number in Duck Soup

I was working on an upcoming entry for the political blog, and stumbled upon the fact that the zenith of Marx Bros. mad-cappery known as Duck Soup turns 75 during the month of November. (Weekend America's segment on this event embedded below.)

Must have a late viewing this weekend.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Politically Appropriate Pop Detritus

- Season 1 of 24. The Plot: The nation's first black Presidential candidate gets stuck in some terrorist related hullaballoo, his life is threatened, his family life implodes. Through these cataclysmic events, his true character as a bad ass, ice in the veins, tough choice making muthafucka is revealed. He goes on to win the election.

- During these roller coaster days of political dadaism, I think back to a particular bit of Obama lore: The Setup: Hillary Clinton had been running some negative ads (which, in perspective, seem like child's play now), and Obama got to talking about it. I imagine he's doing a fair number of these in his head these days:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Perils of a Deregulated Market - A Garish Reminder

It's been nearly a century since the last time class conflict reared its head in the US in a major way. As a nation, though we still feel the psychological repercussions of The Great Depression, most don't remember the union busting activities of the era, the role that the Pinkerton agency played in all of that, and just how tumultuous a time it was for the country. Some would argue that it was the unfettered and open free market that led to both the Dickensian corporate practises of the times, as well as the violent repercussions.

It proved to be a necessary revolution, for out of these bloody times, there emerged the 5-day 40-hour work week, a minimum wage, and the strengthening of unions in the workplace.

Somewhere along the way those lessons were forgotten, however, leading to a frenzy of de-regulation that took place over the last 30 years, and enacted in order to create massive profits in the private sector. It should be noted that politicians on both sides ended up embracing de-regulation (though some more fervently than others). The end result is obvious; leaving aside the massive economic breakdown that we've been experiencing this year, the chasm between the upper and lower classes has probably not been wider since the beginning of the Industrial Age.

Perhaps someone should remind the proponents of the radical free market of the violent protests that could take place on our very shores should the chasm be allowed to grow wider still.

Frankly, we're already on the precipice, and it's only a matter of time before people stop lashing out at each other and pinpoint exactly where the source of most of their troubles lay.

Consider this a public service announcement.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

If You're Not Watching Rachel Maddow...

Look, I'm not going to force anything on you.

All I'm saying is if you were to go to, found the MS-NBC tab, clicked on "The Rachel Maddow Show", played the selections "Drill, Dems, Drill?" and "Friendly Fire?", I would bet you'd be entertained in some way. You may end up hooked, maybe not.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D)NY: I wanna tell you, I am so taken with algae. Did you know...How am I doing so far?
Maddow: Whoa-waitwait I do want to hear why you're taken with algae, that's the best lead in ever. But - hold on - [Ms. Maddow gets back to the point.]

Ms. Maddow is the face of your friendly neighborhood tough journalist.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

All About Fletch

I think it’d be fair to say that I was affected by Gregory McDonald, the man responsible giving the world Fletch, the barefoot reporter with cheek.

Yes, the same Fletch that inspired that mid-80s Chevy Chase movie (one of the few good movies he ever made) and its cheesy sequel. The quintessentially 80s synth soundtrack is now playing in my head, in fact.

Initially, I had no idea that the movie was based on anything until I saw the paperback at the PX and thought I’d give it a quick look.

I became hooked. McDonald wrote 11 Fletch books, and I’ve read each of them at least twice (with many of them having been read upwards of a dozen times). Same applies with the Flynn series of books, which are a spin off from Fletch. Of his other material, I’ve only read Merely Players, from his trilogy of Shakespeare inspired novellas. I will be rectifying that in the future.

McDonald’s pulp world consumed me. Without delving too heavily into the Dickensian aspect* of my life, I didn’t have a strong male presence to model after. In my mind, Fletch became that guy. Clearly, there’s something slightly off about doing this…

Mostly because Irwin Maurice Fletcher (aka – “Fletch”; “Earwig”) was the kind of breezy charismatic young man who’d have things fall his way more often than not. The forces against him occasionally got the upper hand; after a couple of quips though, Fletch would again wiggle out triumphant, and infinitely cooler than the competition, and usually on the way to hooking up with some smart, acerbic and ultimately comely young woman.

There is simply no way to emulate this kind of behavior in real life, not like I tried, but I did spend inordinate amounts of time wishing I lived in a light noir world where the ladies would be naturally attracted to me and my slightly daffy sense of humor. High school sucked.

As an adult, though, the world of Fletch and Flynn grew in scope for me. Still light and breezy, but the adult view of the world became clearer, and the romance I’d attached to that world when I was younger dissipated. It was only after growing up myself that I saw that the murders that surrounded Fletch often served as his cues to adapt to the world. This is particularly true in the case involving the Widow Bradley.

But what nailed the series for me is the story told in Fletch, Too. It is the last book McDonald wrote before giving his marquee character a son, and is also the book during which we see Fletch at his most exposed. In this story, Fletch goes to Africa in search of his long lost father…Whether he finds him or not isn’t important. Or at least it wasn’t for me. For me, the story’s resonance brought the character full circle, and I found myself identifying with Fletch more strongly than before.

Here was another bright young man who had learned to make do without a proper father figure to provide some kind of hint as to how to get along with life. You can’t buy that kind of identification, you either get it or you don’t. Fletch had it in spades, as far as I’m concerned.

Gregory McDonald passed away on Sunday, September 7th. No information on cause of death has been released; I'm willing to bet it was natural causes.

Thanks for the enjoyment and inspiration you brought to me, Mr. McDonald.

*Nod to S5 The Wire. I still get consumed by narratives, obviously. - TBO

B. Jones: THIS?!?

You're a fucking multi-billionaire with a hair up your ass to put your podunk hometown on the NBA map. In typical robber baron fashion, you spend just the right amount of time and money lying your ass off to the populace whose team you intend to steal. After battling it out for who knows how long, after gaining a reputation as one of the world's biggest douchebags (second only to the comissioner whose ass you essentially dined from), you finally win, AND ALL YOU CAN COME UP WITH IS THIS PIDDLY ASS BULLSHIT?

You, sir, deserve all the bad breaks coming your way.

Shit heel.