Bald Eagles overhead
Friday, October 1 2004
It's been many hours since the first Bush-Kerry debate and Kerry is still the winner, but I'm still nervous that Bush could pull ahead. Karl Rove's spin operation puts even the Mormons' posthumous conversion program to shame. If one really wants to win a gold in the Olympics (it doesn't matter which Olympics or which event), it might be easier to put Karl Rove on it than to actually train.
At some point today I heard a loud whistling outside that I knew (from all the nature shows I have watched) to be the call of a Bald Eagle. I ran outside and looked around. Nothing was visible yet, but in about twenty seconds there they were, a pair of adult eagles with some smaller grey bird of prey (an Osprey?) circling hundreds of feet over the house. I took a bunch of photographs.
This evening Gretchen and I went out with our lawyer friend Peter to see Emma, a dramatization of the radical early-20th-Century life of Emma Goldman, at Byrdcliffe Theatre in Woodstock. We met Peter at the Landau Grill, where he was chatting with a blond radio personality. Seeing someone at the bar we hoped to avoid, Gretchen and I relocated with Peter to a set of couches in another part of Landau's indoor space (I'd eaten there before but never actually been inside).
The Byrdcliffe Theatre is another one of Woodstock's many quaint old cultural institutions. Built at the turn of the last century mostly with improvised materials, it's a space that cannot be heated in the winter, so it can only host performances in the warm weather. Being October, there was a little chill in tonight's air. As for tonight's show, it was sold out. It was your usual lefty Woodstock crowd, evident immediately from the bumperstickers in the parking lot.
The play, written by leftist historian Howard Zinn, was a lumbering beast, the kind one sees in vintage monster movies whose special effects are executed by stop action cinematography. In Emma, the "frames" were brief acts punctuated by what Gretchen found to be slow, poorly-executed scene changes. Its story unfolded slowly. Typical, I suppose, of a play written by a historian, the characters themselves were less significant than the things they did, things that, at least as presented, all had a certain sameness to them. Peter, who was sitting to my left, must be troubled by an attention deficit, because by the end of the play he was shifting in his chair restlessly, making comments, and stomping his feet like an eight year old on a sugar high. Mind you, the man is in his fifties.
But I have to sympathize. The play dragged. But it also had its entertaining aspects. It was interesting to "overhear" 19th Century radicals sitting around a table talking about a New York City I both could and could not recognize. It had subways, a Union Square, and a Cooper Union. But it also people organizing for things that Joe Rightwinger now takes for granted every day: the eight hour day, the weekend, etc.
The play was less art than craft, but it did make use one intriguing technique. During scenes in which Emma or her colleagues addressed crowds, the play's audience was used as a prop and actors dressed in period police costumes walked up and down the aisles, smacking their billy clubs against the palms of their hands.
We had to rush home at the end of the show to catch the last half of the Seattle-Sacramento WNBA game. It ended up being as close as the 2000 election, tied until the very end, when a shot made by Sacramento balanced precariously for a time on the rim of the basket and then leisurely toppled through it. The Oxygen network didn't show the rerun nearly enough.
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