Monday, March 24, 2003

Tick Tick Boom or Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

"It's mighty funny, the end of time has just begun/Oh honey, after all these years you're still the one..."
A certain intriguing Victoria's Secret Salesman

It wasn't exactly Fitzgerald and Hemingway getting wasted over wine (and more) in Paris discussing the meaning of life and talking about their dreams and destinies but one of the fondest memories I have in my Cheapo career is the time former Cheapo employee Christina Schielske (from Tina and the B-Sides) and I were sitting around talking about our lives. Tina was frustrated with her lack of progress in her musical career and I was in the middle (with no way out) of writing a pretentious little novel wondering what the end would be. Somewhere in the middle of our conversation Tina looked over at me and smiled and said it would be just our luck as one of us, or both of us were hitting it big we'd be hit by a bus.

As the bombs are dropping across the planet I decided I would immerse myself in something this country doesn't have to be ashamed about (who'd thunk the day would ever come where I'd find myself muttering the following in public: "I wholeheartedly agree with a Dixie Chick.")- our culture and inspiring art.

Thursday night I made my way through the Minneapolis skyway watching the peace protests on the street below as I headed over to the Pantages Theatre to see Jonathan Larson's tick, tick... BOOM! with my still inspiring boss. Larson of course is better known for his play Rent and TTB was actually put together after his death at the age of 35 (the night before Rent opened on Broadway). The play's story revolves around Jonathan (Christian Campbell) a struggling playwright who is about to turn 30. In his mind it is a landmark birthday as he wonders if it is time to give up on his dream and get a practical (and paying) job. His roommate Michael (Wilson Cruz) has made the move from the theatre to a successful career in marketing. Michael is doing well enough to buy a BMW (complete with seat warmers!) and think about moving to a better apartment (where you don't have to step over anyone on your way in!). Jonathan's girlfriend (Nicole Ruth Snelson) is pushing for another alternative- moving out of New York to Cape Cod to raise a family.

The performances of all three actors carried the sometimes predictable script (and I wasn't all that impressed by the songs) and the play raised a number of the kind of questions that keep you up at night. Having just made a career move partially for security reasons I must admit one of the hardest things about walking away from my last job was the fact that right there on my business card was the title "writer." More than once I wondered what Tina would have thought if she saw that. At some point in your life you really do need to either realize what you've always wanted to do or accept that your dreams might just be fantasies and it's time to become more practical.

One wonders if that day might soon be arriving for Ike Reilly. Just why isn't this guy the biggest thing going in the music biz? The night after seeing the thought-provoking TTB I once again headed further downtown to First Ave to meet up with my friend, the blue-eyed intern, to see Ike perform as part of a benefit show for Multiple Scerosis. The blue-eyed intern was the one who introduced me to Ike's music last summer and after having seen him at the Turf Club last month I told her she just had to fly up from North Carolina to see him live.

We met up before the show and had a quick dinner at TGI Friday's. As always I enjoyed our conversation as we talked about love and life and I couldn't help but hark back to that certain talk with Tina and how having just gotten out of college everything seemed possible if not just beyond my grasp. The blue-eyed intern graduates from Duke this spring and though I have no doubt she'll go far I'm not sure she quite knows what to do next. I had called her earlier in the week and she seemed more than a tad stressed out so seeing Ike, I thought, might just be a much needed escape.

After his Turf Club show I felt so inspired- he gave such an intense performance. This time around it wasn't quite the same. For one thing he and his band were clearly drunk. There were times he nearly fell over, as he was stumbling all over the stage. The performances of his terrific songs certainly wasn't noticeably sloppy and seeing an inebriated Ike was certainly better than seeing just about any other performer yet there was something a bit off in the show. He opened with the appropriate "Duty Free" with its sing along refrain- "Gotta get out of the U.S.A." I also loved a raucous version of "I Don't Want What You Got Goin' On" where despite the events of the week Ike convinced me that "cars and girls and drinks and songs" really are what makes this world go around.

Yup my heart may have hardened to the point where it can't feel love as deeply anymore but turning to art (and friends) still inspires me in a way that nothing else can.

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