(Not) A Review of The Merchant of Venice

Go see it, or don’t. Live your life. I’ve been living mine over here and frankly, it’s alright if I die tonight. I’ve seen enough to be bored by living and if it passes me by just one more time I’ll be just fine. It played on broadway, starring a famous person. Nothing matters unless you’re famous, or talented or beautiful or rich or powerful but what does that matter to me? All the millions in your bank are not as important to me as the $380 I paid to behold the spectacle of St. Alberto Pacinoni as the Blind Venetian. That was reason enough to be excited to see the show. I bought tickets and started planning a romantic date night with the wife.

The wife, who, for the week prior, challenged me to an epic transnational trauma cleanse, a pentathalon of sulking, screaming, smoking, drinking, and another-thing-ing. She was a champion in all such events, a test of every learned defense, redlining emotional resources across the board of benevolent directors known as my conscience. 

During a lull in the fracas, while the ingenue and her six pack of tall boys took several hours recess in our one bathroom, I stepped out for a walk around the block, blurring out my thoughts with the electric techno tourist mob of Times Square, shuffling past the theaters proclaiming the greatest shows ever witnessed, promising heart-pounding exhilaration and the time of your life. I scowled. Billy Joe, you’ve come a Longview from the Dookie days. 

As the quintessential American Idiot, on my way back to workshop the tour-de-force audience participation performance piece unfolding on an ikea carpet eighteen stories above these storied stages, I stopped under the makeshift umbrella of a marquee just around the corner from Studio Apartment Arena. 

I took out a brown satchel of tobacco, selected a wad of fragrant brown shreds and tamped them into the paper, placed a white filter tip a little bit off to the side, gently rolled thumbs against forefingers until the cylinder appeared, ran the tip of my tongue over the glue strip, pushed the filter flush with the roll, letting it hang from the precarious precipice of my lip as I tilted my head to the side to avoid a butane-torch beard fire or a seared schnozz. The invisible flame clicked on and I saw AL PACINO in glowing red. 

Something to look forward to, I thought. Wait, what day is it? 

I knew what fucking day it was. I knew before I opened the ticket confirmation email that I had flagged, or double checked the calendar app. I knew from the reminders I had ignored while embroiled in the aforementioned top-floor tomfoolery. I had to prove it to myself, I couldn’t believe it until I saw it. Was it distrust? Was it that I just missed the money? Was I angry over a petty loss or furious over the foregone failure of my future family?

Our godfather which art on broadway, dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Sicut in Carlito et terror. Lesson learned forever: don’t be shy, or locked. After all, nobody owes you a goddamn ounce of their skin, let alone a pound, and you don’t owe by the same token, no matter how much you think you need them, if this prayer means anything. Each play will have its run and fun, but with some productions the best seat in the house is out on the sidewalk, in my humble opinion.

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The Singing Place

Signs and wonders for all that have eyes to see, the desire to please oft outweighs the will to be free. Words can’t hurt. Not physically. Meaning hurts. And meaning is something you have within yourself. You can only guess what a jar contained inside the cellar of the speaker. Perhaps there is a label on it or some residue on the rim, or a few pennies rattling around, but it is not the full contents. It could have the shape of a common shit jar, but if you put the jar on your personal shelf and put shit in it, it’s not the speaker who gave you a jar of shit, you put shit in the jar they gave you. They might have intended you to have shit, or they might have intended you to have gooseberry preserves, or maybe they just didn’t know what to do with the jar, or didn’t know it was in the crate of jars they dropped off at your doorstep. Maybe you just don’t like gooseberry preserves.

We all apply special meaning to words. We all do. Don’t blame me for your pain, tell me about it instead. We are all terrible and saintly. Kindly and cruel. But I don’t hold it against you. And I hope you don’t hold it against me, too. But do we do it on purpose?

We know not our purpose. But we tend towards connection. And we tend towards separation, as all matter does. Depending on scale. The galaxies flinging away from each other even as the planets rush towards the stars and the stars towards black holes.

Perhaps all you say is true.

But where is this coming from? I know there are no sure things. I’m not insecure in that sense. I am aware of statistics and I’ve observed patterns of behavior that give me pause but I hold no deed against you, save those you claim as your own.

There ain’t no guarantees
In amongst the evergreens
But it is customary to doubt
And try to figure it out
See your lover’s face
by many moons
And in the changing light
the trajectory of flight
Temporal divining rod
In the dark night of the soul.

Or are you bored already
With all the waiting?
You tired of dating?
Rather get to mating?
And what then?
Disperse to the four winds
Never to be seen again
Or a fixture for torture
Lashed to the nearest mast
Watch the tragic plot unfold
I’ll die plenty before I’m old.

A firm commitment to try,
A belief in romantic love
With the insensible senses
The rut and strut of hormones,
Not to continue trying
But to try again
Once she’s done with him
Once he doesn’t fit the bill
Once she loses the steam
The license to roam free
She cancels his subscription.

Easter. It’s the springtime. New growth. Breaking through the ground after a dirt nap. Being covered with the distributed detritus of complex models, discrete and non-central in all but radial symmetry expressed without contest or duress in equal measure more or less regardless of their worthiness, waviness and wondrous wind become the end of the begin and so anew begin again.