Friday, October 24, 2008

Just Bein' Steve.

It seems I have a reputation for being a little, oh what's the word... dizzy. No. Spacey. Maybe. Forgetful? Distracted? An idiot?

I was so careful to count out all my pills and put them in the little tray, to make sure I had everything set for my trip here to San Francisco. Jimmy even asked me if I had them all ready.

Then, I checked my wallet. Present. Keys. Present. Laptop. Socks, pants, shirts, underwear. Phone recharger. Check. Check. Check. Everything good to go. Perfect.

Saw on the news that there was a fire right on the highway to LAX. Bad sign. Getting to LAX from the Valley is difficult. The subway won't get you there because the Taxi drivers union protested. So, you take three trains and then change to a bus. Stupid and time consuming. But, there is a new bus from the Valley that only costs 4 bucks.

So Jim drove me to the bus after I made sure I had everything. Traffic was a nightmare. The airport was its usual nightmare of long lines.

I checked on the board for my 12 noon flight to SFO. No flight. But there's one at 11. It was 10:15. Then I realized... that WAS my flight. Noon was my ARRIVAL time. Boarding time was 10: 30. I had 15 minutes to get to the gate, and... a long line was ahead of me to get through security.

However, I didn't panic. I just waited patiently. I arrived at the gate just as the plane was shutting the doors. I got on. Whew.

And realized that I had filled my pill tray but hadn't put it in my bag.

Five days without my pills? Can't do it. Diabetes. Thyroid condition. AIDS. And several other conditions that require daily pill therapy or else I melt into the landscape and go into some kind of god knows what.

So, I finally called Jim. And realized that I had his bank card and he had no cash whatsoever. But could he find a way to overnight my pills to me?

And that's a day with Steve. I apologized profusely but he just said, "I'm used to it." Or, as Michael Sugar said after I called him, "Well, at least you're consistent."

I also got a phone call from Kathleen McGuire, the conductor of the Gay Men's Chorus, asking me if I could sing with them this evening. Sure!

Turns out it was a special appearance with about 30 of the chorus members singing for a benefit program at Bloomingdale's. What I didn't realize was that she was going to introduce more than a few songs from New World Waking.

My first time to actually hear the arrangements Kathleen had done.

And, of course, I forgot to bring my camera to the event, so you'll have to imagine it. They stood in front of a lighted wall hocking goods by some some fancy designer. That was kind of pretty.

Then came the songs. Wow. The arrangements are even more spectacular than I could have imagined. And this was with only about 30 people. When I go to the rehearsal on Monday, it will be with several hundred singers! I could barely breathe listening to songs.

Then I joined them on "My Rising Up" and, afterwards, many chorus members came up to me to tell me how much they were loving the music. One said that he began crying upon first hearing Gabi's Song. And he was so happy that the songs were addressing real lives and real stories.

Another chorus member said he was completely puzzled by the song "Franco Ate The Paperwork" because the words didn't make any sense to him. (They are impressionistic rather than narrative). But he said that after he started memorizing them, that suddenly they started making sense.

I assured him that they do indeed make sense and are connected in some weird way, but that it was one of the few times I venture outside traditional lyric writing to just let the lines almost construct themselves without my thinking about what they mean. But, yes, they do make sense. Kinda.

Another person said he's never seen a chorus piece where so many people were vying for solos. He said that this is a really good sign that the chorus itself is embracing it. And that made me very happy.

I am telling you all this not to toot my own horn but to make the point that when something is brand new, you can never know, as a writer, whether the material is connecting to the singers. All you can do is write it, mean it and let it go.

Several others approached me and said they felt this had all the resonance of their biggest choral commission, a brilliant piece called "NakedMan." Stylistically, the two pieces are worlds apart with NakedMan being a bit more classical sounding and musically sophisticated. New World Waking! is more pop, as that's the genre I'm most comfortable with.

So, I'm reveling in the lovely compliments and the emotional commitment of the chorus.

But, man, I am exhausted. After I got back to Ken's I could barely move. My feet felt like lead, and I remembered that I've been sick, off and on, for a month or more. With flu, then a couple of upper respiratory infections.

Being immobile for that long makes it hard to be up and about. And I realized I had pushed myself too far -- we did a lot of standing yesterday.

So, I'm going to take it easier over the weekend so that on Monday, I'll be at full strength for the chorus rehearsal when I'll hear everything out loud with the full chorus.

I cannot wait.
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For my birthday, also St. Francis of Assisi Day,

here is "Rescue" the song I sang to Erika Amato 's Buddy the dog. Imagine if we loved humans as much as we love our animals...