Category Archives: Album

Suspended in Now

11. Visit principal/
Over our suspended son/
Angry at school, boy/

12. Defiance conforms/
To the personalities/
Confined by the rules/

13. Supporting your child/
Sometimes means backing his school/
‘Gainst his righteousness/

14. Resent procedure/
Of institutional might/
Still we require rules/

15. Lines between “Ego”/
& organization’s needs/
Blurred by insecure/

16. Rules offer guidelines/
But can be crude instruments/
When Ego’s involved/

17. Papers need grading/
Though some students aren’t learning/
No matter the score/

18. My Ego’s involved/
My prejudices stirred up/
Obedience rules/

19. Accepting the rules/
From both sides of equation/
Will repress* Ego/
#haiku *stifle

20. Life is a blessing/
That is too hot to contain/
In neat containers/

21a. Suspended in Now/
We struggle with G_d’s agar/
That keeps us alive/

21b. Suspended in Now/
We submit to G_d’s agar/
That keeps us alive/


Midnight Minyan

Paul Shapiro’s Band/
Hijacked my CD Player/
*Midnight Minyan* swings/

I went and bought a CD on a lark. I had been a fan of Paul Shapiro’s music 30 years ago and I saw his disk *Midnight Minyan* so I impulsively bought it for some vocal-free music to grade by. I figured “updated devotional music? WHY NOT?”
Instead of something to drown out the noise of my kids as I correct papers I got a mind-blowing tour of the “familiar foreign.” Not only are the melodies strangely familiar to this unschooled New Yorker, but the styles and arrangements also touch my soul in a compelling way. I cannot tell you exactly what it is about Mr. Shapiro’s playful reflections of these songs that so intoxicates me, but I’ll try.
The playful style of jazz that I’d thought had gone extinct roars back on these melodies that I was unfamiliar with. It is like the band, made up of old souls revived from 78 records got together with a post-modern sensibility and swung-out some tunes from the childhoods of Post-60s kids raised in the “diaspora of Hip.”
Whether it is the tonal music of the middle east, the rumbas and tangos of 60s jazz, or the klezmer revivals of the 90s all of the sounds are familiar and wonderfully out of place. These are familiar because I’ve been waiting to hear these styles in New Music for years fruitlessly. And they are “out of place” because the melodies and styles seem never to have been in the same room or mind before this CD. Who’d have thought prayer music could become the material for a swinging CD?
I just love it and I’ll have to look Paul up and tell him.

Black Box Album


I went to see Album at LaGuardia’s Black-Box theatre last Friday night. It was a simmering evening depicting the high-school years of four teen-aged men and women. The picture above was the set for a stunningly complete emotional depiction of adolescence.

Jocelyn Catasus was the supportive friend who knew too much without being a know it all. I wish I had had friends like her when I was in school. Her performance was alive without showiness; her Peggy was the teen in control who you could still see the insecurity in.

I knew “a Billy” like Aaron Berke’s Billy, but that was at Cambridge Friends’ School (where I went to repeat 6th grade). The patina of experience he spread on the basically insecure character covered like cream-cheese on a bagel.

Bridget Giuffrida’s Trish was the most teen. In her I saw my daughter. From the opening strip poker scene where she was self-consciously modest to the pure terror she showed looking around the cheap motel room after her character had run away with Boo, she was vulnerable in a way that totally supported the “Brian Wilson monologue.”

Christopher Diaz’s Boo reminded me of my own insecurities in Highschool (though I tried to embody a cross between the hockey shy player Bobby Orr and paisley-psychedelic George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic [oil and water: do not mix]). When he put on the horn-rimmed ray-bans and affected the tones and cadences of Bob Dylan I was back in the commune I grew up in in Boston with insecure and pretentious posers all around.

When the last scene came together at the Quarry and they had all reached the “biological-growing-up” they had so frantically sought throughout and receded to the Album of the title like a year-book of HS nostalgia I felt the bitter-sweet youth I lost so long ago trying to grow up too quickly. These young men and women brought four awkward years to life with this exceptional play and I think that having the writer as the director made this all the more special.


I went to see the play with my almost-in-high-school-daughter who had rehearsed with them one day because she was using a monologue form the play for her High-school auditions (applying to HS in NY is akin to applying to college in the rest of the country, but that is another story). The play-write and director, David Rimmer, had generously invited Chandler to come sit in with them one day at rehearsal. He said that she was really helpful because she was the age of the cast in the opening scene and brought a lot to the truth of the play (chronologically). Watching the play with my daughter made me aware of how important first love, biological and emotional, –so long lost to me– shapes the rest of our lives. I want to thank David Rimmer, Jocelyn Catasus, Bridgit Giuffrida, Aaron Berke and Christopher Diaz for bringing this all alive to me.