for May 15, 2002
Sold! To The Guy With $24 Worth Of Shiny Objects
by Your Diva, Robin Pastorio-Newman
Your Darling, Your Diva, Your One True Love might - just this once - be
in a bad mood. We have arrived at a funny moment, a confluence of
events, in which local history parallels American cultural history. A
quick list of elephants sitting in your living room:
1. The New Brunswick, NJ City Council unveiled its new proposal for the city's development and surprise! A parking facility and
office complex sit on the corner of Church and Spring. [For those outside the area: In other words, right on top of the extremely worthy local venue, the Court Tavern. - Ed.] Actually, it's no
surprise. After the shouts of "Save the Court Tavern!" died down, the
council was free to do as it pleased. The city will proceed with its
longstanding practice of giving the (well-funded and extremely-picky-about-its-neighbors) hospital everything the hospital
wants, and what the hospital doesn't want, developers buy.
2. Showcased in the Home News Tribune the day after the above article:
the Alexander Library's Special Collections Department's exhibits called
"The Changing Landscapes of New Brunswick" and "Who Built New
Brunswick?" It is in two rooms, to offer balance and objectivity. One
room discusses development in terms of progress. The other looks at the
work of hod carriers, bricklayers and builders whose predecessors' work
is the target of arsonists and wrecking balls all over the city.
3. A dear friend took moi to see the George Street Playhouse's "Public Ghosts -
Private Stories". (It's hard to know where lay off complaining and pick
up with the Bond gadgets. My Sweet, pass the poisoned lipstick, there's
a playwright to kiss.) The GSP's effort to recognize the city it sits in
was called "the Bridge Project." It involved bringing artists from
California - because apparently there aren't any here - and conducting
workshops all over town in which residents told their stories.
(Before we jeté into trouble, a disclosure: news of these workshops was
in the air, but it sounded suspiciously like thievery. Your Egg Drop
Soup did not speak to these tomb raiders about Italian people in New
Brunswick, but it's hard to believe no one did. So. Your Orange Slice
was perturbed that her people were missing, but no way, Giuseppi, was
she handing over her great-grandparents' bones to strangers. Wanting to
have things both ways is so messy.)
The playwright listened to these stories, put some together and added
some fluffy filler. Some of the play was genuinely affecting. Some
performances were delivered with authority, warmth and respect. Actors
were better on the whole than in many plays at the GSP. Problems begin
with the first mention of Joyce Kilmer and that tree of which we're so
sick we cut it down decades ago. The play concludes with a saccharine
homage to the people of New Brunswick, as if a gentle pat on the head by
people who do not live here or love this place meant anything, and a
brush with "all the poems unwritten" in this place.
Begging your pardon. How did someone slip me the Ipecac mickey?
The assertion that residents of New Brunswick, people who actually live
here and don't sprint to the train station at 5:30, are simple savages
with no art or culture beyond whatever the GSP deigns to bring in is so
wildly insulting Your Dragon and Phoenix left the theater in a teary
snit. No. Really. At great risk of mascara failure, even. The fact that
Your Beef with Snow Peas' corporeal counterpart Rob Pastorio-Newman has
been a working artist in town for years, has known dozens and dozens of
brilliant working artists in New Brunswick all her life contributed to
this outburst. The real insult, though, is that this message was brought
to you by the same people who are eating the city, demolishing
neighborhoods and erecting soulless, characterless hospital buildings
and chain stores in their place. Look at the GSP's sponsor organizations
list. Every hand is dirty.
Well, that was a long list for three little events, wasn't it?
New Brunswick's losses parallel American culture's. Every time you see
another Britney or Christina or Jessica, a corporate monoculture
committee decided what you are, what you're worth, and when you should
be discarded. Every boy band means you have been commodified. Further,
what you don't get to see has also been decided. Your Spare Rib knows
she is not this gelatinous goo Tommy Motolla and the George Street
Playhouse spoon out. She hopes you know it, about you.
©2002 Robin Pastorio-Newman
All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.
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