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Loney's Show Notes
By Glenn Loney, September 9, 2009
About Glenn Loney
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.
Please click on " * " to skip to each subject in this index:
BRAIN HEMORRHAGES & PERFORMING ARTS REPORTAGE: *
New Plays: *
Old Plays in Revival: *
New Musicals: *
Old Musicals in Revival: *
Other Entertainments/Other Venues: *
Opera, Dance, & Special Events: *
LAST ROUND UP AT THE OK CORRAL? *
Music Critics of North America Annual Conference: The New York Question Was: To Blog or Not To Blog? *
As Print Outlets Die & Culture Coverage is Reduced or Terminated, Are Annual Conferences Over for Music, Dance, & Theatre Critics? *
Musical Offerings for North American Music Critics: *
Glenn Loney’s On Going Fight for Justly Deserved Medical Coverage: *
This End of Summer Wrap Up might never have been. On 13 July, I fell Head First down some Cement Steps—without any Guard Rails—in an Historic Gun Emplacement by San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge!
Not only did a Brain Hemorrhage result—there is apparently still some Ambient Blood sloshing around in my Cranium—but my three heavy Cameras & Lenses came crashing down on my Shoulder & Collar bone, with a smashing Thud.
Thus, much that I might have written about Shows seen Before the Fall has been Erased, for which I am sorry.
This could have been my Final Fall, ending in My Death!
But this was not yet to be. Nonetheless, I do believe There Are No Accidents, so this Dire Event has Focused My Attention on finishing the most important of my Writing Projects: the two Memoirs about My Mother, Marion Busher Loney.
They are already titled: Mother in Summer: A Month in the Country & Mother in Winter: Nurture vs. Nature.
Although it has long been an Odd Pleasure—as well as a Guilty Responsibility—to write my Show Notes & Museum Notes columns, as I am neither Paid nor Thanked for doing so, since way back in 1996, I believe it is now Time—especially as I am over 80 Years of Age—to Blog a bit instead…
The Report below would have been more Substantial if I could remember more. But it is also somewhat afflicted with the Burst of Anger I have just experienced on learning that my HMO—HIP—had issued a Notice of Denial of Medical Coverage!
This apparently refers to my recent stay at Lenox Hill Hospital, to which I was sent by my GP immediately on my return to New York from San Francisco General Hospital.
Faceless Functionaries down at HIP’s Water Street HQ have "determined that the admission to the above named facility was not medically necessary as of July 29, 2009." [Italics & Bold added]
No mention at all is made of my constant disorienting Dizziness & Nausea, my Shattered & Unhealed Collar Bone, my damaged right arm & shoulder, as well as my damaged right foreleg & the deep gash on my left cheekbone!
Unbelievably, not only ignoring these Severe Problems, they insist that "you are an 80 year old who has a history of a subdural hematoma." [Italics & Bold added]
How can this be a History, when I had my first Subdural Hematoma—or Brain Hemorrhage—only on 13 July 2009?
At a time when the Outlook for a decent, compassionate Universal Health Plan seems totally blocked by the Very People We Elected to Represent Us—they, unfortunately for us, being obligated to HMO & Big Pharma Re Election Campaign Donors—this Unfair Judgement by my own HMO is downright Frightening.
Where is an 80 year old to turn for Help? Who will Protect us? Obama? The AMA?
The Cold War has been Over for a long time, but the Angry Screeches of "Socialized Medicine" ring through the Corridors of Our Congress, as if Joseph Stalin were still managing the International Communist Conspiracy—soon to be operational at a Hospital Near You?
And what is Walter Reed Hospital but another form of Socialized Medicine, but free for those who oppose Decent Medical Care for the Mass of Americans, many of whom cannot afford it?
For those interested in the on going Drama of Medical Insurance Coverage for Your Hard Pressed Scribe, some relevant documents are appended to this Report.
La MaMa Ellen Stewart’s ASCLEPIUS [*****]
Ethan Coen’s OFFICES [****]
Theresa Rebeck’s OUR HOUSE [****]
Naomi Wallace’s THINGS OF DRY HOURS [***]
Scanlan & Scott’s EVERYDAY RAPTURE [****]
Carlyle Brown’s PURE CONFIDENCE [****]
Leslie Ayvazian’s MAKE ME [***]
Geoffrey Nauffts’ NEXT FALL [***]
Scott Hudson’s SWEET STORM [***]Cusi Cram’s A LIFETIME BURNING [***]
Karl Gajdusek’s FUBAR [****]
Waterwell’s #9 [***]
Aeschylus, Sophocles, & Euripides—not to mention Aristophanes—all neglected to write a Major Drama about the Great Healer, Asclepius.
La MaMa Ellen Stewart—now entering her Ninth Decade on Earth—has richly repaired that Oversight with her new drama, Asclepius, written, composed, & directed by La MaMa herself!
This amazing production in the La MaMa Annex recalled the Glory Days of Andrej Serban’s La MaMa Greek Classics Revisited Revivals.
Ellen was at her Opening in a Wheelchair, but Age & Illness "…cannot wither her Infinite Variety," as Antony once said of Cleopatra, thanx to his Transcriber, Wm. Shakespeare.
Ethan Coen—the Coen Cinema Brother with Playwriting Aspirations—is At It again. Some Drama Critics think he has yet a Lot To Learn about writing for the stage, but I immensely enjoyed his new effort: Offices. Not least because my old friend & Brooklyn College Colleague, F. Murray Abraham, was in the Dynamic Cast! Neil Pepe staged deftly.
We all admire Theresa Rebeck, especially those of us who see her new dramas first at the Humana Festival in Louisville at Actors Theatre. Our House is not as unusual as her co authored Omnium Gatherum, but it is certainly another step on the way to a Long Resumé in Who’s Who in the American Theatre.
Naomi Wallace is another Humana Favorite. In fact, she has a Major Obligation—as a Kentuckyan—to uphold the Literary Reputation of the Bluegrass State. My favorite Wallace Opus is still the fausse naïf Local Color drama, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, also shown at New York Theatre Workshop, as Things of Dry Hours recently was. Her early One Flea Spare—about The Plague in London—was itself something of a plague…
Who would have thought that Sherie Rene Scott—recently a Sinister Octopus in Little Mermaid—was raised a Latter Day Saint, but with a Yen to Perform! This is a charming show, without the unsettling Hustler Overtones of Confessions of a Mormon Boy, of recent memory.
This ingeniously designed show is custom made for the Road, now begging for new Product.
Gavin Lawrence is amazing as the Southern Slave Jockey, Simon Cato, in Carlyle Brown’s Pure Confidence. I saw this taut production initially at the Humana Festival, but it lost none of its power at 59E59 in Manhattan.
If this stunning show tours to your region, do not miss it. Freeing the Slaves—as this drama cruelly demonstrates—was a disaster for some African Americans. Anti Colored Prejudice in the formerly Abolitionist North often proved devastating…
If you have been starved for Soft Porn Dramas about Couples trying to spice up their Married Life, Make Me may be the play for you. Candy Buckley worked very hard—Whips & All—as Mistress Lorraine, but I felt Intensely Uncomfortable to be an Onlooker…
At 59E59, both Waterwell’s #9 & Project Y’s Fubar were Provocative in the Americas Off Broadway season. From my US Army Days, I already knew what the Anagram SNAFU meant, but FUBAR was a new one for me: "Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition," Or is that last word actually Repair…
The author insists that San Francisco—at the opening of the New Millennium—is a Character in his play. Unfortunately for Your Scribe—at the Moment, at least—"Don’t Call It Frisco" is the place where you can easily have a Brain Hemorrhage on Landmark Stairs by the Golden Gate Bridge!
Although the Interior Decoration—made possible by a Publisher’s Advance on a new book of [fake] Memoirs by an Out of Control Bi Polar Blonde—is Admirable, the constant quarrelling & shouting of the Nutty Author & her Jealous Sister, also in Publishing, is Enervating & finally Unproductive as an Audience Experience.
Good Luck to Playwrights Scott Hudson & Geoffrey Nauffts! It must be the Brain Hemorrhage, but I cannot now remember any details of Next Fall or Sweet Storm. But my Mentor, the late John Gassner, once told me: "Forgetting is also a form of Criticism…"
Wm. Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT [*****]
Wm. Shakespeare’s Arabized RICHARD III: An Arab Tragedy [****]
Tony Chekhov’s IVANOV [*****]
Tennessee Williams’ VIEUX CARRÉ [***]
Were it possible to move the NY Shakespeare Festival Delacorte Theatre production of Twelfth Night intact to Broadway, Chief Bardolator Oskar Eustis would have a Palpable Hit on his hands!
But, if the show moves without Anne Hathaway as Viola, much of the Magic of Daniel Sullivan’s staging will be lost. Hathaway is Amazing: she Acts, she Sings, she Dances! She Is Viola!
What is more, for the first time in My Experience—how many, many productions of Twelfth Night have I seen so far?—both Viola & her Twin Brother Sebastian actually look, not only related, but also like Twins!
Usually, this Look Alike Illusion is achieved with Wigs & Duplicate Costumes. Not so at the Delacorte! Stark Sands seems the Ideal Sibling! [Is that a Stage Name, or is it Baptismal?]
Any actor Worth His Salt can have a success with Sir Andrew Aguecheek—as does Hamish Linklater—but almost the entire cast is/are Exemplary!
Raúl Esparza is an admirable Orsino, as are—in their by now familiar roles—Michael Cumpsty [Malvolio], David Pittu [Feste], Julie White [Maria], Jay O. Sanders [Sir Toby], & Audra McDonald [Olivia]!
The Physical Production—set design by the usually ingenious John Lee Beatty—isn’t so impressive. In fact, it seems at times even Actor Unfriendly…
Overcome with Dizziness & Nausea—from the Brain Hemorrhage, alas!—I couldn’t make it into a darkened Central Park for the NYSF’s The Bacchae.
Fortunately, it was Before the Fall—revising an Arthur Miller Title: After the Fall—that I got over to BAM in Brooklyn to savor the impressive Arab Adaptation of the Bard’s Richard III.
Also Pre Subdural Hematoma was the Josef Katona Theatre’s remarkable re imagining of Anton Chekhov’s early & problematic drama, Ivanov, with its Self Destructive Anti Hero.
This is one of Budapest’s Leading Ensembles—in an Historic Danubian City with a Long Theatre Tradition & Many Stages—so Characterizations that might have astonished Chekhov were wonderfully, even annoyingly, Realized.
My good friend & former Grad Student, Moshe Yassur—who has revived Yiddish Theatre in its Native Romania—was periodically Outraged at what he saw as Violations of the Playwright’s Intentions, but he did have to agree that the actors were remarkable, even so!
This was part of the Admirable Programming for Lincoln Center’s Summer Festival, which also included a Boris Godunov, which the Hematoma made me miss.
Austin Pendleton staged the Pearl Theatre’s revival of Vieux Carré, with Sean McNall as Tennessee Willliams’ Stand In, The Writer. This is still a Problematic Play, but at least it deals directly with Homosexuality, a topic Williams was often accused to avoiding—or Cloaking in Feminine Guise, as with Blanche in Streetcar.
This season, the Pearl moves to Mid Town, sharing the City Center Basement with the Manhattan Theatre Club!
THE TIN PAN ALLEY RAG [****]
Tim Burton’s animated movie, Coraline, was certainly Dark enough to scare Adults, as well as Impressionable Children.
But it remained for the ingenious Playwright/Actor/Cross Dresser David Greenspan to devise a fascinating book for a Musical Coraline at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Greenspan was also on stage, along with the admirable Jayne Houdyshell, playing the young Coraline.
Greenspan has hewn closely to Neil Gaiman’s original novel about a little girl whose Inattentive Parents have not quite Carbon Copies of themselves on the Other Side, an attractive but Dangerous World that bodes harm for Coralline.
Stephin Merritt has crafted Music & Lyrics for this bizarre tale. It could be Something Really Different for your Community Theatre!
Imagining Scot Joplin jiving with Irvin Berlin may seem quite a Stretch, but Mark Saltzman has fashioned in Tin Pan Alley Rag a very imaginative Musical Fable that should be more widely seen!
Preferably in this very vital production—staged by Stafford Arima—with the excellent cast moved intact, preferably to Broadway!
THE GREENWICH VILLAGE FOLLIES [***]
Well, this is not exactly a revival of the Original Greenwich Village Follies. It is more like inspired by, with some More Up To Date Material, celebrating more recent Village Incarnations.
It plays Only on Sundays, so you have to Plan Ahead.
Doug Silver [music & lyrics] & Andrew Frank [book & lyrics] recall Early Village History, as well as Edgar Allen Poe, Edna St. Vincent Millay, & Stonewall.
Dildo, a Novelty Musical Number, may also relate to Stonewall somehow…
Lincoln Center in Summer:
Le Théâtre du Soleil’s LES ÉPHÉMÈRES [*****]
The Lincoln Center Festival recreated—in effect, inside the Drill Hall of the Park Avenue Armory—the very special Performance Space le Théâtre du Soleil devised in Paris for its remarkable two part production of Les Éphémères.
Unlike such Ariane Mnouchkine epic stagings as Les Atrides & Tambours sur la Digue, this astonishing production deals with little things, the Details of Daily Life—at a moment when it is possible that the World will come to an End…
A constantly shifting set of Roller Stages—round, oval, square, rectangular—moved by members of the Ensemble, scoot on & off through Stage Right & Stage Left Portals, between two ranks of Bleacher Seats.
Hurts, Disappointments, Resentments—even moments of Joy & Epiphany—inform the Actions & Emotions of a wide range of characters, in various stories, some of which seem to have odd relevances to others.
Jean Jacques Lemêtre creates & performs the subtle musical accompaniment.
This show is Pure Magic. But it is obviously very expensive & difficult to tour—which doesn’t prevent le Théâtre du Soleil from making World Wide Tours.
Les Atrides was performed some seasons ago over in Brooklyn in a huge Armory.
But, if you happen to be in Paris at the right time, you should make every effort to see whatever newly improvised Théâtre du Soleil Work is In Progress at their home base in the famed Cartoucherie.
This former factory for the Manufacture of French Military Ammunition is on the Outskirts of Paris, near the Historic Chateau of Vincennes.
Not only will you surely be enthralled by the new production, but you will also be Wined & Dined by the Ensemble—Buffet Style—perhaps with Ariane Mnouchkine herself ladling out a bowl of soup for you!
Carlisle Floyd’s SUSANNAH [****]
DanceAfrica 2009 [***]
THE TOM TOM CREW [****]
Adams Dance Company: An Evening of Sharing: A Year Gone By [n/a]
L’Aquila Relief Benefit: Plays by Valentina & Mario Fratti [n/a]
La MaMa Umbria International Symposium & Workshop [n/a]
Bright Flutes, Big City/Sir James Galway & Massed Flutists Break into Guinness Book of Records!
"Infinite Riches in a Little Room" could well be the way to describe the recent Concert Performance of Carlisle Floyd’s admirable American Opera, Susannah.
In fact, the tiny West Side performance room was not nearly big enough for the Powerful Passions & Magnificent Voices of the innocent young village maiden, Susannnah [Sumayya Ali] out bathing nude in the stream & the Lecherous Preacher, Olin Blitch [Nathan Baer].
Even though this was not a Fully Staged Concert Version, both Baer & Ali were thoroughly into their roles, virtually living their Characters. As, indeed, were all the talented members of this Opera Company of Brooklyn offering.
Jay Meetze is the Artistic & Music Director, so it’s to be hoped he can find the funding to give Susannah the production it deserves, with this fine cast, of course!
Nathan Baer was especially interesting in his Take No Prisoners approach to the challenging role of the hypocritical local Divine, Olin Blitch—even the name sounds Unclean, like a Primordial Curse!
Some seasons ago, I was able to have breakfast with Carlisle Floyd every morning at the Bregenz Festival where his John Steinbeck derived opera, Of Mice & Men, was being given a powerful staging & performance.
I was participating in the Bregenz Opera Workshop, showing slides of Steinbeck Country & offering backgrounds on the Salinas Valley World of George & Lennie.
I told Floyd how much I admired the opera, but he laughed: "Most people think I’m a One Opera Composer. Susannah is It…"
Nathan Baer is a Bass Baritone of phenomenal Power. The Resonance & Richness of his Voice, especially in its lower registers, are amazing: If dozing off, you instantly wake up & pay attention!
Nathan—who is now also a Personal Friend, having recreated my apartment after a Plague of Bedbugs—tells me he is considering developing roles in the Wagner Repertory. He is thinking about Hagen, for instance…
Figaro, in Barber of Seville, is all very well, but there is now a desperate need for new, strong young Singing Actors who can bring Wagner’s Masterpieces to Life On Stage!
Would it be too much to hope that Richard Wagner’s Great Granddaughter, Katerina Wagner, would Audition Nathan Baer for a Debut at the Bayreuth Festival!
At the very least, we ought to be seeing him soon at the New York City Opera, as well as at the Met!
DanceAfrica 2009 at BAM was more like an informal, if enjoyable, Community Entertainment, with lots of Awards & Honors. Nonetheless, there was also a lot of Energy & Talent on stage at the Howard Gilman Opera House.
"Daredevil Theatre by Aussie Acrobats" efficiently describes The Tom Tom Crew, seen at the New Victory Theatre, the final show in an adventurous season.
Mitzi & Don Adams are not only Old Friends, but they are also Master Practitioners of Jin Shin Jyutsu, an ancient Japanese form of Acupressure that has Saved My Life.
Mitzi’s interesting program of New Choreographies—shown recently at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theatre—included slides & videos of her charming young Ensemble at work in rehearsals & in a Performance Residency. OK, but Sharper Lenses would have helped…
Playwright & Critic Colleague Mario Fratti’s historic Italian home town of L’Aquila was recently dealt a savage blow by Mother Nature: an Earthquake!
So Mario—Nine is his greatest Claim to Fame!—& his talented & lovely daughter, Valentina Fratti, created a Benefit Evening at the Cherry Lane Theatre.
Mario’s Martyrs & Valentina’s Unearthed were ably performed, interspersed by some Vintage Canti Partigani: Songs of the North Italian Communist Partisans, who fought both Mussolini’s Fascists & the hated Nazi Occupation Troops.
For the Record: Siamo I Rebellii della Montagna is certainly a stirring Call To Arms!
Not so far away from Aquila is Ellen Stewart’s La MaMa Umbria International. This was an Abandoned Convent that Ellen bought with her MacArthur "Genius Award." It is near Spoleto, home of Gian Carlo Menotti’s famed Festival, as well.
This past summer—if you had $5,000 & were Registered in time—you could have participated in both the 10th Annual International Symposium for Directors & the 3rd Annual Playwright Workshop.
The latter offering was under the Tutelage of Charles L. Mee, jr, who has crafted some remarkable scripts for Anne Bogart’s SITI Ensemble, such as the Joseph Cornell inspired work, Hotel Cassioppeia.
Among the Directors & Choreographers working with Enrollees were such talents a Meredith Monk, Takeshi Kawamura, Kama Ginkas, Daniel Banks, Dimitris Papaioannou, Liz Diamond, Leigh Fondakowski, & Romeo Castellucci.
When Ellen first purchased the Convent, she invited me to come & "write a play." I was already booked for the Bayreuth & Salzburg Festivals, but I also feared the Ancient Establishment might not yet be ready for Apprentice Arthur Millers…
Anyway, you don’t just sit down & write a play. It helps to have an Idea, a Concept, a Conflict, some interesting Characters, something Important To Say. And even fire in the belly to write…
Goethe had already written Faust, Parts I & II. Not to mention the fact that either Shakespeare or Christopher Marlowe or Sir Francis Bacon had already penned Titus Andronicus. So why should I spend the summer trying to emulate O’Neil’s Mourning Becomes Electra?
The most important Panel Discussion of the Music Critics Conference was titled: Bought Out, Laid Off, or Otherwise Bruised But Still in the Game.
To Stay in This "Game," it seemed, one had to become a Blogger, not a skill most Print Journalists have yet perfected.
But there is also an Important Question to be considered: If you are the Major Critical Voice for, say, Cleveland, will anyone not from your Home Town want to go Surfing the Internet to discover what you had to say about a one time only Vocal Concert in Severance Hall?
Will a Music Lover in, say, Phoenix, AZ—or in Seattle, WA—even know your Name so he or she can find your Blog?
In any case—with all the Distractions of 2,500+ TV Channels—are most folks really dying to read more Music Criticism?
The same Questions can be asked of Dance & Theatre Critics.
Even if you are currently The Theatre Critic Voice of The New York Times—say, Ben Brantley—do you any longer have the Recognition & Credibility that once was the Hallmark of a Broadway Review by Brooks Atkinson?
Not to mention the Honor & Respect once given such Critics as Stark Young, Harold Clurman, & even Robert Brustein…
We are becoming accustomed to Raves such as: "The Best New American Play!" Since last week…
Around the Nation, even famed Dance & Music Critics are being Cashiered, Discarded. A Color Photo with Caption will do quite well, Thank You Very Much!
On the Second Day of the recent Annual Conference of the American Theatre Critics Association in Sarasota, FLA, the local sponsoring newspaper laid off almost the Entire Arts Staff. Except for our Host, Jay Handleman, who had planned this wonderful Circus Oriented Sarasota Adventure.
The next day, the Publisher prominently posted a kind of Op Ed, promising how much more Readable & Enjoyable the paper would be without all that boring Text about the Arts.
No one seems to be cutting back on Sports Coverage, which should show you where Our National Values now lie…
Nonetheless, a talented young Vocalist or Violinist—making his or her Carnegie Hall Debut—really needs some Well Informed Reviews of the performance. Not just for Personal Vanity, but to be able to book a National Tour! You have to have those New York Reviews! Bloggers cannot do this…
Without Professional Reviews, such Concerts would be rather like that famous Alarm Clock on the Mountain that No One has actually heard…
Was it only a year or so ago that the Dance Critics of America had their Annual Conference at La MaMa ETC down on East Fourth Street in the Village? It took only a Sunday Afternoon, most of it spent mourning Our Dubious Futures as Arts Journalists…
Blogs seem to be The Answer, but—unless you are a Nationally Known Opinion Maker—who will know who you are & why they should Surf to find your Individual Blog?
Some Music Critics also raised a Crucial Question: How can Standards Be Maintained, if Anyone can post a Blog?
Recently, in the Village Voice, their excellent & very perceptive Drama Critic, Michael Feingold, also posited the Problem of a Drama Blog that might meld Trivia with, say, Reviews from the Educational Theatre Journal.
I hope this was a kind of Compliment, for I—succeeding my late Mentor, John Gassner—wrote Quarterly Reviews on New York, Regional, & Foreign Theatre, Dance, & Opera for a number of years in the ETJ, alas, long since defunct.
I did this to the Immense Annoyance of some Ambitious Young Theatre Professors who desperately needed to: "PUBLISH OR PERISH!"
What makes most Blogging Sense is an Organizational Review & Report Blog: one for the Music Critics; one for the Dance Critics; one for the Theatre Critics. Sub Sections such as The Drama Desk & The Outer Critics Circle are well on their way to such developments.
Or is Culture in America actually Dying right before our eyes, just as Print Journalism & Arts Publishing seem to be?
John Adams’ A FLOWERING TREE [*****]
Mostly [Not] Mozart at Lincoln Center: Beethoven & Others [*****]
Bard Music Festival: Wagner & His World [*****]
If you are almost Totally Bored with the Music of Mozart & Lincoln Center is not prepared to offer any Alternatives such as Plenty of Pachelbel, Bags & Bags of Buxtehude, A Surfeit of Stravinsky, or All the Stephen Foster You Can Stand, what are you—especially as a Programmer—to do?
Well, as in this past Summer Season, you can continue to call your festival Mostly Mozart, but you schedule instead an All Beethoven Evening, conducted by Osmo Vänskä, featuring the New York Debut of the brilliant young pianist, Yevgeny Sudbin, who also performed Beethoven’s Cadenzas.
Even before the Main Event, Sudbin showed his virtuosity with challenging works of other Important Composers! A Name & Talent to watch!
Also on offer for the Music Critics of North America were the Scola Cantorum de Venezuela, conducted by its Artistic Director, Maria Guinand, & the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment, an Age that is unfortunately Long Gone, at least as regards the Concept of Enlightenment…
As for Summer Opera at Lincoln Center, when I entered the Rose Theatre in the Time Warner Complex, the first thing I noticed was a Barren Tree standing on the stage. I knew this Tree! But from what Previous Performance?
It was not a Waiting for Godot Tree…
Then it hit me! I had already seen this Tree & Peter Sellers’ full orchestra onstage production of John Adams’ A Flowering Tree at the Edinburgh Festival!
Unfortunately, at that time, I had too many shows to see each day to give myself some Quiet Time to prepare for a Challenging New Work.
This time, however, I had the Prior Advantage of hearing the charming, thoughtful, cultivated, & wonderfully talented composer himself interviewed for the Music Critics by Frank J. Oteri.
We each also received a Review Copy of his new Autobiography, published by Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux: Hallelujah Junction: Composing an American Life.
Although I wasn’t a great admirer of The Death of Klinghofer & I liked the sets for Nixon in China more than the Musical Satire—Henry Kissinger getting caught up in the Maoist Ballet of Red Detachment of Women, now I think about it, was really ingenious & amusing.
But I was finally deeply moved by A Flowering Tree. Especially by the central performances of Russell Thomas & Jessica Rivera.
Ripeness, as they say, Is All…
I joined the Music Critics on their Sunday Jaunt up to Bard College mainly because I wanted to photograph for INFOTOGRAPHY™ the Frank Ghery Tortured Titanium Clad Theatre, better known locally as the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. A Mouthful, as they say…
[Mr & Mrs Fisher are also the Generous & Indulgent Patrons of Charles L. Mee, jr!]
The Intensive Programming of Bard’s 20th Annual Music Festival—Wagner & His World—looked both Challenging & Informative. The Program Book is a Keeper!
Our Program was Wagner in Paris, with a variety of compositions by Contemporary Parisian Talents who Influenced or Annoyed—or both—the Great Richard. Among them: Auber, Meyerbeer, Halévy, Berlioz, Chopin, & Wagner’s eventual Father in Law, Franz Liszt!
For the Record: Leon Botstein is the Titular Deity at Bard!
1] What Actually Happened:
"San Francisco, Open Your Golden Gates!"
Or: "I lost my Heart Balance
In San Francisco!"
A Regretful Report on the Perils of Photographing The Golden Gate Bridge From a Cliff on Land’s End, When One Is Over Eighty Years Old—But Still Feels Seventeen Inside…
By GLENN LONEY
©Glenn Loney 2009
My beloved Aunt Elva Busher achieved her 100th Birthday at home in San Francisco, on Golden Gate Heights, on 13 July 2009, one day shy of Bastille Day.
As she was almost like a Mother to me & certainly a Best Friend, this was not an Anniversary I could miss, especially as all the Busher Relatives would be on hand, like the old Family Reunions we used to have many years ago.
The Cousins seem to be doing very well: Cousin Gerry Adcock even seemed a bit miffed that I wasn’t surprised that she looks so Terrific at 85, even with a Knee & a Hip she was not born with…
It has been a kind of Mission/Obsession with Cousin John Busher to see his Mother celebrate her Centenary in the bosom of her Family. This she did at San Francisco’s Irish Cultural Center—great food & quasi Celtic Ambiance—even though the Bushers immigrated from England in the 19th Century.
Yours Truly is the only [Half] Irish American among the Busher Hewes Clan.
We toasted Aunt Elva on Sunday, 12 July, a day before her actual Natal Day.
The following Sunday, the Relatives drove up to Stockton, to help Cousin Fred Busher celebrate his 75th Birthday.
But I was unable to join them, as I was in Intensive Care at San Francisco General Hospital.
As I am now In Progress in finally writing the two books about My Mother that I have refrained from beginning for some Fifty Years—when almost everyone is Dead, who will Sue?—I had planned to spend two weeks photographing Childhood Scenes in Grass Valley, Nevada City, Tahoe, Virginia City, Loney Meadows in the High Sierras, as well as locales in Steinbeck Country, for an Interactive On Line John Steinbeck Photo book.
One of the two books about my very Remarkable but Complex Mother will feature our Willowbrook Summer Vacation Camp—created to fill three Chicken Houses, whose 3,000 chickens had suddenly died of Coccidiosis—as well as to help us Survive the Great Depression of the 1930s.
This is titled: Mother in Summer: A Month in the Country.
The other, dealing with Adoption & Foster Children—is called Mother in Winter: Nurture vs. Nature.
But my planned Photo Safari was not to be: I spent two weeks flat on my back at San Francisco General, with a shattered Collar Bone—the Ill Tempered Clavical?—as well as a Subdural Hematoma!
For over fifty years—under the brand name of INFOTOGRAPHY™—I have been making Archival Images of notable Architecture & Design, Historic Sites, Cemeteries, & Monuments, as well as other Man Made Artifacts that could be destroyed in the Next World War.
This has been inspired by my Post World War II arrival in Frankfurt am Main—to teach for the University of Maryland Overseas—where I was confronted with Devastated Bomb Sites, Ruins of Medieval Masterpieces, & stunning new Post Modernist High Rises.
I decided then & there to record all of this, fearing it would be erased in Fifty Years. As things now stand, we seem to have deferred this Destruction by a decade or two, preferring instead to make depredations in Asia & the Middle East.
Along the way, I thought I should also be not just a Photo Archivist, but also, possibly, an Art Photographer, consciously seeking the Unforgettable Image.
Of course, it helps to have really good cameras, with Excellent Lenses. I have Leicas, Nikkons, Canons, & Olympuses, but also some Trick Lenses. Notably one with twenty facets which works wonders with the Gothic Spires when one is on top of the Cathedral of Milan, among other targets.
Renting a Hertz Auto the morning after our Birthday Bash, I drove out Geary to Lincoln Park & the California Palace of the Legion of Honor—a copy of the Original in Paris.
After photographing Anna Huntington’s Joan of Arc statue & her El Cid—another can be seen on Upper Broadway at Audubon Terrace!—I once again lensed the George Segal Holocaust Memorial & worked my way down Lincoln Drive, until I reached the 1906 concrete Gun Emplacements at Land’s End.
The Big Guns are Long Gone, but the Cement Bastions recall the days when Theodore Roosevelt sent the Great White Fleet around the World, with the Motto: Walk Softly, but Carry a Big Stick!
Descending a narrow trail along the cliff, one can get a remarkable view of the Seaward Side of the Golden Gate Bridge. I had photographed this scene before, but not with the Twenty Facet Lens.
The path then leads under the San Francisco side of the Bridge Approach & Toll Plaza: Good Girders & other Engineering Artifacts. Then the road widens to bring Tourists & Hikers up to the Plaza Level & onto the Pedestrian Bridge Walkway, where one is constantly in danger of Maniacal Bicyclists, bound for Marin County.
My Photographic Mission Accomplished, I retraced my steps back to the Gun Emplacement. Although there are some Guard Rails elsewhere, there are none on the steep cement stairs leading down from the trail.
Slung over my left shoulder—but with the weight on my right—my Camera Bag had three heavy cameras & a huge metal Zoom Lens in it.
One third of the way down, I felt myself listing downward. I grabbed for the cement wall, but there was no rail, not even some vines to clutch.
If I had had my wits about me, I should have immediately sat down. Or leaned back onto the stairs I had just negotiated.
But no, there I was, standing upright on the stairs, desperately grabbing for Supports that were not there.
As the Weight of the combined Cameras & Lenses pulled me sideways, toward the bottom of the stairs, my One Thought was: "Please, God! Don’t let my cameras get broken!"
This is rather like the late Radio Comedian Jack Benny, when confronted by an armed thief who demanded: "Your Money or Your Life!"
In keeping with his comic character of Miserliness, Benny swiftly replied: "Take my Life! Don’t take my Money!"
As I plummeted down to the bottom of the stairs, I thought: "This is IT! My Life will now pass rapidly before me as a Video in Reverse. Then I’ll scoot through a Narrow Tunnel—the Womb, also in Reverse?—to be met by Buddha & Jesus, all in White, plus all my deceased but smiling Relatives…"
Nothing like this occurred: It apparently was Not My Time. Instead, all was Black.
Until I came to, lying on the front seats of my Rental Car.
A Hiker had found me collapsed & somehow walked me back to the car—of which I have No Memory—having found my keys with the auto’s License Number in my pocket.
He had then called 911 on his Cell Phone. An Ambulance Team from the San Francisco Fire Department swiftly arrived & rushed me to Emergency at San Francisco General Hospital, administered by the University of California at San Francisco’s Medical School.
I was in Acute Pain, but the shock of the fall kept me from sensing its Magnitude.
X Rays & MRI’s were rapidly made.
Although I had Not Fractured My Skull, there was severe internal bleeding: a Subdural Hematoma, I was told…
Worse, at least in terms of the Pain, my Cameras had fallen down on top of my Chest, shattering my Collar Bone in several places.
The fragments were not pinned, so this is healing like a Lump of Bone.
There was also severe Trauma to my Ribs, my Right Shoulder, & my Right Arm. The Lower Right Foreleg was densely swollen from a bruise on the outside.
Periodically, two teams of Physicians checked up on me: I think they were Neuro Surgeons & Trauma Specialists.
One helpful Night Nurse whispered to me: "If the bleeding in your Brain doesn’t stop, You are in Big Trouble!"
I was also overwhelmed with Dizziness & Nausea…
Nonetheless, the very next morning—after an agonizing, sleepless night—I was DISCHARGED from San Francisco General Hospital, still bleeding internally, with broken collar bone fragments grating on each other: Nothing was Stabilized…
I still cannot believe that a Reputable Hospital would Discharge a Severely Injured Patient—before he had even been treated & begun to mend!
My Cousin John Busher came to pick me up, although I could scarcely move. He deposited me on a simple couch like bed on the ground floor of 1922 Funston, as he had to Care Give his elderly & virtually immobile Mother upstairs.
Suddenly, I needed desperately to Pee, but there was no Urinal at hand. Nor was there any kind of support for me to pull myself up to stand.
My feet couldn’t reach the floor, so I keeled over sideways, again to my Right, but this time, without the Cameras…
I fell down into the narrow cleft between the Bed & a Night Stand, breaking some Marble Tiles in the process.
The Shattered Clavicle was again disrupted; a new Puffy Bruise was added to my right lower leg. But this time, my right elbow was also damaged.
Worst of all, I hit my Left Cheek on the Night Stand, opening a big bloody gash—sealed with some kind of Magic Glue, rather than Stitches.
I nearly passed out.
Cousin John called 911, but this time a Commercial Ambulance responded. For the downhill trip to San Francisco General—which seemed like only half an hour or so, the bill has come back for some $1,500!
A host of individual special services is listed, among them Oxygen of which I have no memory of using—not even that TV Channel.
[President Obama! Yes, we really do need a new & improved Health Care Program for Everyone!
[American Voters cannot check into Walter Reade Hospital, where Our Congress enjoys endless Socialized Medicine!]
So, before the morning was over, I had had my second Disastrous Fall in just Two Days!
But why did the Docs send me home, when I wasn’t even Stabilised from the First Fall?
Some Medic muttered, just before I was released: "It’s not about the beds," by which I understood that was exactly what was At Issue, as Emergency was constantly admitting new Worst Cases…
One of the Doctors did say: "You won’t get better lying in bed. You need to get up & begin moving around!"
Unfortunately, I was still Traumatized, Disoriented, Dizzy, Broken, & Bleeding Internally…
This Physical & Mental State was not improved by the Nurses’ desperate Search for Veins in my Left Arm, for draining off what seemed Quarts of Blood, at regular intervals. [I thought they had discontinued Bleeding of Patients in the 19th Century?]
Worse still was the periodic arrival of the Glucometer, testing levels of Blood Sugar.
My Readings used to hover around a Normal 92 to 96.
Unfortunately, both at SF General & back here in New York, at Lenox Hill Hospital, they can jump from 96 or 120 in a matter of a few hours to 260, 320, & 410—off the Charts!
To control Blood Sugar over time, I have been taking Metformin. But the pharmaceutical company‘s Warnings for this drug say it is Dangerous for anyone Eighty or Over. That includes me…
My GP, who prescribes Metformin—as did both the Hospitals—assures me it’s OK: "Eighty is the New Seventy," he says.
Both here in NYC at Lenox Hill & in SF, Medics & Nurses observed: "Those are not the legs of an 80 year old!"
So maybe there’s hope for Healing, if not for clambering on Cliffs at Land’s End, to make some Fabulous Trick Photos? Glenn Loney
2] Letter to State Board of Insurance, suggested by my GP, who originally sent me to Lenox Hill:
5 September 2009
New York State Board of Insurance:
To Whom It May Concern:
On 28 August 2009, I received from my Health Plan Insurer, HIP, the enclosed communication, dated 3 August 2009.
They are wrongfully denying payment for Hospitalization at Lenox Hill Hospital, commencing on 29 July 2009.
I had been released from San Francisco General Hospital on the morning of the previous day, 28 July 2009, to be transferred to New York City—my home city—to complete recovery from a Shattered Collarbone, injuries to my Right Arm & Shoulder, as well as to my Right Leg & a deep gash on my left cheek.
As well as to the disastrous effects of a Subdural Hematoma—a Brain Hemorrhage—incurred in an unavoidable Accidental Fall on 13 July 2009, near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco!
Immediately on arrival at JFK, I was taken by my trusted advisor, Sean Mohammadi, to my Primary Care Provider, Dr. Alan Egelman, who signed an admittance referral to Lenox Hill Hospital. I was first taken to Emergency, after which the hospital staff moved me to a regular hospital room, from which I was discharged on 9 August 2009, to return home for Rehab, where I now again reside.
In the enclosed "Denial of Medical Coverage", no mention whatever is made of the Bone Trauma Injuries, Gashes, & Bruises from which I had not yet recovered in San Francisco.
Obviously, whoever made this decision—down in the HIP Offices on Water Street—did not have my Complete Medical Records or Referrals.
When I was admitted to Lenox Hill, I had no use of my right arm—then in a sling—with the collar bone still semi shattered & extremely painful. As well as the gashes & bruises, plus constant Dizziness & Nausea, no mention of which is made in this faulty evaluation.
The point is made that I am 80 Years Old. Does this mean HIP wants to avoid covering Old People?
It is, accordingly, Grotesque to say I have "a History of a Subdural Hematoma." This was incurred on 13 July 2009, in my fall: How much of a History is that?
Instead of hospitalizing me for treatment of the Brain Concussion, Broken Collarbone, Damaged Right Shoulder & Arm, Dizziness & Nausea, & other Bruises, San Francisco General discharged me the morning of the next day after my disastrous fall, 14 July 2009, to the care of my SF Cousin, John Busher.
No sooner was I at his home than—Nauseous & Dizzy—I fell off the basement bed provided, again crashing to the floor, renewing the previous day’s injuries, as well as inflicting a deep gash in my left cheek.
I was rushed back to SF General, where I was again in Emergency, then transferred to a Ward, from which I left on 28 July 2009, to return to New York City to complete the treatments.
I have previously enjoyed good Medical Coverage from HIP, so I hope this Unjust Judgment Against Me is not just another attempt of the HMOs to avoid their Responsibilities to Long Time Subscribers!
Please help me to restore the HIP Coverage to which I believe I have a Right!
Thank you! GLENN LONEY
PhD, Prof Emeritus/City University of New York Grad Center; Senior Correspondent: NYMuseums.com & NYTheatre Wire.com; Cont. Editor: Western European Stages & Entertainment Design; Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, ATCA & International Theatre Critics Assn, Music Critics of North America, Dance Critics of America, NY Municipal Arts Society, etc.
3] Letter to The Editor of The Nation, famed for fighting for Civil Justice:
30 AUGUST 2009/THE YEAR OF THE OX!
Ms. Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor & Publisher
35 Irving Place/New York, NY 10003
Dear Katrina vanden Heuvel!
Yes, I know you don’t want Manuscripts, only E Mail Queries, but the Non Socialized Medicine Situation—in which I suddenly find myself—doesn’t call for a Special Report or a Letter to the Editor.
It probably calls for a Cry of Outrage.
The enclosed On Line report on my Disastrous Fall after Photographing the Golden Gate Bridge with a Trick Lens can provide Context for my Out of Hand Rejection by HIP of for Payment of Subsequent Hospitalization at Lenox Hill Hospital, after I was rushed back from San Francisco by air.
I was driven from JFK directly to my GP, Dr. Alan Egelman, who signed a slip sending me to Lenox Hill for their disposition of necessary Medical Care.
In San Franiciso, I was repeatedly seen by teams of Neuro Surgeons & teams of Orthopedic Specialists, as I had sustained not only a Brain Hemorrhage [Subdural Hematoma], but also severe Bone Breaks & Bruises.
On Friday, 28 August, I just received a letter from HIP, dated 3 August.
This printed letter is headed: HDMC: Notice of Denial of Medical Coverage.
It reads, in part: "…it has been determined that the admission to the above named facility [Lenox Hill] was not medically necessary as of July 29, 2009."
[I was still too dizzy to walk without assistance & the broken collar bone fragments had not yet healed. On arrival in Manhattan, my cousin took me directly to my HIP GP, who sent me to Lenox Hill! I did not sign myself into the hospital.]
"Based on available information, you are an 80 year old, who has a history [Italics Added!] of a subdural hematoma. You were admitted to the hospital on July 29, 2009 after a fall. There is no evidence of a new or worsening subdural hematoma or that you had any changes in your mental status. There are no neurological deficits and your care could have been managed in an outpatient setting after ER care. Your admission to the hospital does not meet medical necessity criteria for an acute inpatient medical admission…"
Obviously, this determination was made by Faceless Bureaucrats down on Water Street. How can you have HISTORY of Subdural Hematoma, if the first one you ever had was in the Second Week of July?
Also, this determination doesn’t even consider the Continual Pain I was in at Lenox Hill, owing to the Bone Breaks & Orthopedic Traumas. Constantly Dizzy & Nauseous, I could walk only a few steps, with Nurses’ Assistance.
Does this HIP Judgment seem Fair & Balanced?
I’m bringing this to Your Personal Attention at a time when the Foes of Universal Health Care are insisting that the Status Quo is just fine. This is not an Op Ed or a Special Report, but I hope someone on your staff might be able to mention this IN REBUTTAL when we are endlessly hearing how Great the HMOs are.
It is just not so. I’m fortunate to have been covered—before my Retirement & now—by HIP, provided by the City to CUNY Professors & others in the System.
HIP, like so many Commercially Oriented Health Plans—is OK, as long as you do not get SICK!
Thank you for your Attention!
Sincerely, A Regular Reader of THE NATION… GLENN LONEY