1. I wish I could see the new free production of Hair in New York City’s Central Park, but it’s pretty much impossible unless I’m willing to get on the ticket line at 9 pm the night before and stay there till the following afternoon. The last time I did that was for the much-hyped Seagull starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, and I literally fell asleep once the play started.
Oh well. The New York Times gives this Hair a great write-up, but Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal calls it a “poorly crafted revue” and claims that James Rado and Gerome Ragni “don’t know the first thing about how to write a musical”. I think Teachout misses this by a mile. He’s right that Galt MacDermot’s bouyant music is the show’s best saving grace (and it’s a fact that more people listen to the album than ever see the show) but I have seen the show — an amateur college performance, many years ago — and I remember how it lit up the room from start to finish. If Rado and Ragni didn’t know how to write a musical, at least they sure knew how to create a musical that lets everybody else — the performers, the composer, the director — look great, and that makes an audience very happy. What more can we want? Teachout probably doesn’t love Godspell either.
Gerome Ragni died in 1991, but James Rado can still be spotted in the East Village, and I’ve had the privilege of hanging out with this pleasant and friendly writer and performer (I asked him whether he or Ragni were responsible for combining Allen Ginsberg and Shakespeare verses in the big second-act Vietnam War number, but he smiled and wouldn’t say). Rado also keeps the fires burning at the official Hair website, which features photos from countless international productions of the classic hippie-era show.
2. Herman Melville with Nathaniel Hawthorne on a mountain, thinking about a whale.
4. Sparrow, a wistful New York poet and activist, is running for President. I doubt he’ll win but it’s worth a link.
5. A Charles Bukowski side story.
6. The poetry slam in 2008.
7. Jeff VanderMeer on recent political fiction at the Huff.