Sunday, June 4, 2017

June 4: "Wonder Woman," Classic Saint Marty, "Something Better"

It has been a good day.  I went to see Wonder Woman with my wife and kids.  Generally, I hate superhero movies.  I haven't seen an X-Men movie since the first.  Stopped going to Spiderman  movies when Tobey Maguire stopped playing Peter Parker.   

Wonder Woman was different.  It was about a strong woman.  Yes, that strong woman was still in a tight swimsuit with armor, but it was still good.  Even my daughter, who generally eschews the superhero genre, really liked it.

And I just finished grading a whole bunch of papers for my online class.  I am ready for the evening.  I will be watching the Tony Awards.  No Hamilton this year.  But, hopefully, Bette Midler will sing "Hello, Dolly!"  Maybe.

A year ago, I lost a friend who really loved theater.  Tonight's Classic Saint Marty is dedicated to him...

June 4, 2016:  The World Floating, Death of a Friend, Lee

Emerson saw it.  "I dreamed that I floated at will in the great Ether, and I saw this world floating also not far off, but diminished to the size of an apple.  Then an angel took it in his hand and brought it to me and said, 'This must thou eat.'  And I ate the world."  All of it.  All of it intricate, speckled, gnawed, fringed, and free.  Israel's priests offered the wave breast and the heave shoulder together, freely, in full knowledge, for thanksgiving.  They waved, they heaved, and neither gesture was whole without the other, and both meant a wide-eyed and keen-eyed thanks.  Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, said the bell.  A sixteenth-century alchemist wrote of the philosopher's stone, "One finds it in the open country, in the village and in the town.  It is in everything which God created.  Maids throw it on the street.  Children play with it."  The giant water bug ate the world.  And like Billy Bray I go my way, and my left foot says "Glory," and my right foot says "Amen":  in and out of Shadow Creek, upstream and down, exultant, in a daze, dancing, to the twin silver trumpets of praise.

It's all about living life to the fullest.  Eating the world like a ripe apple floating in outer space.  And giving thanks for everything in life that brings happiness and joy.  That's what Annie Dillard is talking about in this final paragraph of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.  She is giving glory, saying a prayer of thanksgiving, for all the creation around her, big and small.

This morning, I am giving thanks for the life of a friend of mine.  A big friend.  A guy who looked like he could reach up and eat the world like an apple.  Yes, Lee LaForge was larger than life, a Rushmore of a man in stature and joy and love.  Gifted teacher, performer, activist, and friend to everyone.  In the past, I drank with him.  Sang with him.  Laughed with him.  In a musical, I shared a stage kiss with him.  It was a pretty good kiss.

I am not going to become maudlin.  Lee wouldn't want that.  He would want me to tell you this story:

Over twenty years ago, I directed a production of the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.  Lee was in the show, playing, among other things, a state senator caught in a compromising situation by a news reporter.  The only direction I gave him was, "Do something funny."  Every performance, when the door was opened on Lee's scene, I never knew what I was going to see.  One night, he and his acting partner got creative with a can of whipped cream.  Another night, Lee was on all fours with his partner riding his back like a horse, cracking a whip and yelling, "Who's your daddy?"  That little moment, orchestrated by Lee, always brought the house down.  Every night.  Joy.  Laughter.  Thunderous applause.

That was Lee.  His whole goal in life was happiness, making the most out of the piece of pie that he was served, whether pecan or pumpkin or banana cream.  And he always wanted to share that pie with everybody he loved.  I always knew, when I met up with Lee, he would have a hug and a joke.  And his laugh was thunder.  It rolled and overtook you, shook you, until you were weak and breathless.

Lee LaForge, you took large steps.  On your left foot was "love."  On your right foot was "rejoicing."

Saint Marty doffs his halo to a really saintly man.

A really good kisser . . .

And a poem for 2 Sundays before Father's Day . . . 

Something Better

by:  Martin Achatz

I want something better for my kids,
The way all parents want their offspring
To attend college, law or medical
School.  Do something extraordinary.
We scrub toilets, paint walls, deep-fry potatoes
For thirty or forty years, put everything
On hold until we're sure our daughters
Can study veterinary medicine, our sons
Learn to x-ray broken vertebrae, tibias,
Clavicles.  My uncle drove to the GM plant
For over thirty-five years before he received
His pension, then began to paint oil landscapes
Of places he’d dreamed about in rush hour
Traffic on I-75, places full of waves,
Evergreens the color of Chinese jade,
Places he knew he'd never see,
All so his daughter could study,
Become an engineer at Ford.
I don’t want my children to teach
College English part-time, work
Eleven-hour days in an office,
Scribble poems on napkins, lunch bags,
Margins of graded essays, dreaming
Always of a time when those words,
Cut and polished and set in lines of gold,
Will buy vacations to Stockholm or Rome,
Ballet lessons and birthday parties
In hot air balloons.  I want my kids
To know a life better than mine,
Even if it means I eat bologna
With cheese every day, pretending
My cut of lunchmeat is somehow
Superior to the one my father ate
At work for over fifty years.

1 comment:

  1. We are kept pacified by the illusion that our hard work leads to a better world for those who follow.

    On the other hand I won't lie, I do appreciate indoor plumbing and electricity, so thanks great grandad for going into the mine and thanks grandad for working in a tannery and thanks great grandma, for not killing grandad when he filled the outhouse with kindling wood, as bratty boys sometimes do.