Monday, March 1, 2010

On Birthdays, Pabst, Robert Frost and Writing...

I turn forty nine today. Frankly, I'm aghast. It is something I really don't deserve.

When I turned 21, I was asked to leave the local VFW in my hometown of Fulton, Missouri. I got roaring drunk with a few friends and stood up on a rickety table around midnight and was reciting Robert Frost's A Road Less Traveled. I can honestly say I may be the only person in the history of Fulton's VFW to be asked to leave.

On March 1st, 1984, I was living in a three bedroom apartment in Springfield, Missouri. Going to SMSU and pissing people off left and right in the theatre department. For whatever reason my roomies and I began taunting the guys living in an exact replica of our apartment across the way. It ended, predictably, in a brawl in the street. Spent that birthday in jail.

On March 1st, 1987, I was doing a play I had written in New York, called The Flagger. After the performance, went out with Michael Moriarty and George Dzundza (very fine actor - google him) and drank till four in the morning at an Irish Pub in Midtown called BREWS. George and I sat transfixed as Michael recited nearly two straight hours of Shakespeare from memory.

On March 1st, 1989, I sat in one of the dingiest bars I've ever had the misfortune in which to drink in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with my buddies, Jeff Wood and John Bader. We closed the bar. We were a self-contained drinking trio, John, Jeff and I. Always entertained each other. I think we were working on a play of mine at the time, Jeff directing. Passed out and had to be helped back to their apartment right down the street.

On March 1st, 1993, I was on Sanibel Island doing a play called The Boys Next Door. Got blind drunk with my buddy Scott and found myself buck naked and swimming at midnight in the warm Gulf of Mexico, surrounded by dolphins wanting to play.

On March 1st, 1997, I was doing a play I had written for my then fiancee, Eileen, and we sat on the set drinking champagne until early morning. She could drink like I could. Rochester, New York. There were a few other actors there with us and we ended up toasting the dawn of March 2nd after 15 bottles of bubbly had been happily assassinated.

On March 1st, 2000, I was doing a play in Chicago, Lost in Yonkers, and after the show came down, around 11:00, spent the entire night and morning in my favorite dive bar in that city, on Belmont and Clark, slamming Jim Beam and slurping $1.00 Pabsts. Keifer Sutherland, of all people, was in town doing a film and quite accidentally, ended up drinking with us all that night. He picked up the whole tab at the end of the evening. I have never met or seen him since.

On March, 1st, 2002, I was working as the television spokesman for Chicago Opera. Did about five spots that day. Afterwards met up with a few actor buddies and drank deep into the night. I woke up the next day in jail after another bar fight. One of the arresting cops recognized me. He said, "Don't you talk about Opera on TV all the time?"

On March 1st, 2004, I attended the funeral of my dear friend, Alex Ramsdell, the finest jazz pianist I have ever heard. I was working as a drug and alcohol counselor in Chicago, IL. Alex had helped with some early drafts of Praying Small. He died of a heroin overdose. I stayed up until late, late in the evening reading A Prayer for Owen Meany. Occasionally I would put it down to cry.

On March 1st, 2010, I'm writing a new screenplay based on a play I've written. Drinking coffee, then switching to iced tea, having lunch with a close friend, taking a walk around Griffith Park with my dog, having dinner with my partner, Angela, getting to sleep early because I have to meet with a theatre company tomorrow for my new play, From the East to the West.

I am happier today than I can ever remember being. And I think that's all I need to say about that.

See you tomorrow.