“You Just Took A Little Rest Stop That Wasn’t On The Schedule…”


My recent post about Times Square, set me thinking about the film Midnight Cowboy. When it first came out, all the talk was of Dustin Hoffman whose turn as Ratso Rizzo was, of course, a classic characterization. After Hoffman’s scrubbed suburban college grad in The Graduate, it was a treat to see him do something diametrically opposed in Midnight Cowboy. But I think because of Hoffman’s flashy performance as Ratso, Jon Voight’s achievement in the film was somewhat overlooked. Voight looked like they had picked someone off the street from Texas and that was that. But how many knew that Voight was born and raised in Westchester County, NY? His transformation was just as impressive as Hoffman’s, only nobody realized it.

Above, you can see the devastating last scene in the movie, fading out with John Barry’s haunting theme written for the film.

Thanks to YouTuber Ofer3331


Monday’s Back Pages: Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and More


Because you were so much older then, Monday morning brings the second half of a Dylan one-two punch.

In this great live version, Dylan’s joined by George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Tom Petty, G.E. Smith, and Roger McGuinn.

Epitaph: King Crimson


This is the kind of great profound over-produced song that as a teen-ager I put on the record player, turned off the lights, locked the door to my room, blasted the volume, and played ten times in a row.

Thanks to YouTuber DimitriadisTasos

The Vessel With the Pestle: Danny Kaye


The great Danny Kaye was a master of the patter song, but this wonderful scene of tongue-twisting word play gets laughs even without music. I somehow missed this one in my own childhood, but was happy to catch up with it during my son’s growing up.

Click on the video of this clip from Danny Kaye’s whimsical The Court Jester to find out if the Vessel With The Pestle has The Brew That Is True.

Thanks to YouTuber sirstrongbad

Times Square Scam Photo

times square scam

(Click to enlarge)

Times Square in New York City used to be known as the headquarters of vice and con men. A few days ago, I took the above picture on 42nd Street, capturing a very interesting scam. Can you guess what it is? It will probably help to enlarge the photo.

If you think you know, post the answer in the comments section (however, if you already knew before seeing this, please don’t spoil it for others). If there are no answers by Friday, I’ll post the answer myself in the comments section.

I’m Into Something Good: Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits


Monday morning is all hopeful anticipation beating in a moptop’s head.

Thanks to YouTuber John1948SixA whose link contains lots of interesting info about the band and the 16 year old Peter, including ID-ing this song as a Carole King-Gerry Goffin number.

Old Hats: Two Master Clowns, Bill Irwin and David Shiner

old hats

Let’s say that there was some kind of technology that no matter what your mood, no matter how lousy you were feeling, for two hours it would make you smile and laugh continually. Then let’s say the machine blew up and didn’t work anymore. Would you be upset?

Well, you shouldn’t be. Because the current play Old Hats Off-Broadway has exactly the same effect sans technology, and you still have a chance to see it. You will thoroughly enjoy yourself and leave a happier person for the experience.

Bill Irwin and David Shiner are two really terrific entertainers who present an evening of silent physical comedy in the manner of the classic vaudeville and music hall comedians. Think Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Now I know I tend to get hyperbolic in my enthusiasms, but I tell you we mortals are truly blessed to be alive at the same time as Irwin and Shiner. If you live in the New York City area, you will see two superb clowns the likes of whom I’ll wager you won’t see equaled on the stage. And, as an added bonus, the show enlists the talents of singer-songwriter-accordionist Shaina Taub,  a composer whose taste in lyric writing runs to Brechtian mordant cheeriness. Her dry cynicism contrasts nicely with the slap-happy Irwin and Shiner.

My favorite sketch (natch!) was “The Magician and His Assistant,” clearly inspired by Johnny and Pam Thompson’s “Great Tomsoni” act. Bill Irwin makes a sexier gun-chewing blonde assistant than Pam herself. Probably the biggest laugh in the show comes as David Shiner, who plays the magician, attempts to make an old-fashioned radio levitate—I won’t spoil the ending, but it brought down the house.  They also do a sawing-a-woman-in-two act with a woman from the audience. At first, I thought she was a stooge, but later, as they called up more audience volunteers for other sketches, it became clear that Irwin and Shiner do a very nice job of cueing and instant-stooging the audience volunteers. Steve Cuiffo is  listed in the program as the magical consultant, and you can see the thought that was given to making the sketch hilarious without revealing anything that shouldn’t be revealed.

One other wonderful sketch was of two political candidates debating, each one attempting to one-up the other. Believe it or not, the sketch was actually more ridiculous than the current Republican efforts, no mean feat.

The two clowns, Bill Irwin and David Shiner, who worked together in their play Fool Moon over twenty years ago, are now, almost unbelievably, both in their early 60s. In an age-defying way, they dance, pull physical sight gags, and knockabout in ways that would be impressive for someone half their age. It’s a must see. Hot tip: limited TDF tix are available.

“I Have a History of Taking My Shirt Off…”


Monday mornings are the perfect day for reviewing the preceding week’s events; today, Barenaked Ladies share their One Week with you, ready or not.

Thanks to YouTuber LyricssFromTheBest

Grand Slam



The Sixth Annual Shakespeare Sonnet Slam needs you! In one month on Friday, April 22nd at 1pm, sonneteers will descend on the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park and perform all 154 Shakespeare Sonnets.

You can become one of those sonnet slingers by signing up at http://www.shakespearesonnetslam.com/ . While you’re at it, you might want to donate money so that producer—Shakespeare scholar, director, teacher—Melinda Hall can continue doing the fine job she does every year with this. I had the pleasure of interviewing her last year and really enjoyed learning more about Shakespeare from her.

I participated in the Fourth Annual Slam and the Fifth Annual Slam where I read sonnets #33 and #133, respectively. This year I’ve been assigned Sonnet #62.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve grown to like the idea that you cannot choose your own sonnet to do; it forces you to stretch and grapple with whatever the material happens to be, because you have to make some kind of sense of it if you’re to come across on the day of the Slam. When I first read #62, I breathed a sigh of relief because at first glance this sonnet seemed much easier to parse than my two previous ones:

Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye,
And all my soul and all my every part;
And for this sin there is no remedy,
It is so grounded inward in my heart.
Methinks no face so gracious is as mine,
No shape so true, no truth of such account;
And for myself mine own worth do define,
As I all other in all worths surmount.
But when my glass shows me myself indeed,
Beated and chopp’d with tann’d antiquity,
Mine own self-love quite contrary I read;
Self so self-loving were iniquity.
‘Tis thee, myself, that for myself I praise,
Painting my age with beauty of thy days.

But as I take a closer look, I see there are issues I’ll have to resolve. I hope to post an update in a week or two on my progress.

“I Lost a Buttonhole…”: Steven Wright


There are lots of good stand-up comedians out there, but I most enjoy those comedians who have changed the stand-up comedy paradigm. Carlin was one, Richard Pryor was one, so is Sarah Silverman. Even when the humor or jokes fail to land, I enjoy watching the performers bending the rules of comedy. “Unique in All the World,” as the Siegfried and Roy posters use to say, here’s one of my favorite comedians of that group, Steven Wright.

Thanks to YouTuber Genie Harrison

Vivian Reed: Sentimental Mood




Once more, cabaret maestro David Kenney of radio station WBAI’s Everything Old Is New Again hosted a dynamite cabaret, aired live on WBAI from the chic Metropolitan Room in Manhattan. There were so many great acts, it’s hard to pick just one, but I was particularly impressed by jazz and blues vocalist Vivian Reed. She opened Sunday’s show and wowed the audience. Here you can listen to her interpretation of the Duke Ellington classic In A Sentimental Mood. Listening to her voice, I got flashes of Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughn. The Drama Desk Award-winning Ms. Reed  is truly extraordinary.

David’s show can be heard on Sunday nights from 9-11pm on WBAI 99.5 FM, simulcast on WBAI.org on the Internet. And David’s live cabaret show continues on the first Sunday of each month from the Metropolitan. The next live show will be on Sunday, April 3rd. If you’re in the NYC area then, join him for some great entertainment.

Click on the gray triangle to hear the soulful Ms. Reed. (Please excuse the technical broadcast hiccup near the end—I just pretend I’m listening to vinyl!)

Gravel: Ani DiFranco


Monday morning wakes up to the sound of the motorcycle engine in the driveway.

This was the first Ani DiFranco song I ever heard, and it’s still my favorite. Great guitar playing and singing.

Thanks to YouTuber GoodMusicOnEarth