Monday, June 29, 2015

We interrupt this dream journal, to bring you a dream come true.

The delightful Miss Dornacker and Miss Goldberg, with hats.
Some years ago one of my photographs was included in a feature on's blog. There is plenty of nostalgia for those days in the Bay area and many die-hard fans –gods bless them! Enterprising journalist, Peter Hartlaub, haunted the SF Chronicle's photo morgue to unearth some gems. The dream-come-true: receiving a proper photo credit for this photograph of yore. Even more amazing that it survived along with this timeless image. Seems just like yesterday…

Whoopi arrived for the session early, so we perched in my front window-seat and talked 'comedy' while we waited for Jane. At the time, she was working with Berkeley's Blake Street Hawkeyes and already honing her characters—the junkie Fontaine, the Surfer Chick, the Crippled Lady and the Jamaican Woman—that would become part of The Spook Show. These staples were likely part of her show at the upcoming Great American Music Hall with Jane.

At that time, many comediennes chose the stand-up joke telling model which assured them booking in nightclubs and bars, where the short attention span of drinking patrons was rewarded with quick get-to-the-point punchlines. The tougher road to forge was character sketches, which seemed an inherent female talent and the province of theatrically trained actresses. Those that ventured into character work were a tougher sell to the club bookers and their audiences. Conversely, as a showcase for television or films, it was ideal to show ingenuity, range and versatility to possible casting agents in the crowd… if you could book yourself on the club circuit to pay the bills while waiting for your big break.

The most memorable part of our conversation, was her certitude of success and fame. She knew she was going to be a big star, and said so, out loud, in so many words, with conviction. Impressed with her confidence and long a believer in 'naming your intent', I had no argument with her sharing her mantra and plans for destiny. I understood the ego required for performing, so it was familiar in my world, not arrogant, rather matter-of-fact. She knew fame —big fame— was coming, maybe not knowing how it would transpire, but assured it was within her grasp. This was nearly a year before her off-broadway debut, Mike Nichols's 'discovery' of her talents, and 'the rest is history' inevitability…

Jane finally arrived in true glamazon style, costume changes, props and make-up bag in tow. The style contrast between the two was apparent, unimportant, so unmentioned. We got down to the business/fun of capturing the right image for what would become a flyer for the show. As an improviser, I was ready to play with their ideas and add mine to the mix, on-the-fly. Good photographic practices call for a variety of poses to yield surprises during the session and a range of choices afterwards. A bit like bracketing for exposure, it's a way of covering the bases while the talent is in the studio. During the shoot, despite encouragement from Jane, then me, Whoopi was reluctant to remove her hat for some alternate looks. It may have been the vanity of a bad hair day, but she was not having it, demurring our requests with a child-like reticence. After the bravado of her future trajectory talk, it seemed like a contradiction to her fearlessness and self-assurance. To this day her reaction still puzzles, and while we did convince her to de-hat for a dozen shots, I will honor her mysterious reasons and keep those in the vault for a while longer.

By the way, I believe Whoopi's dreams came true, as well.

Re-animated fun from that shoot…
an ill-advised and out-of-character idea from Jane's prop bag. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dream • Row U Seat 22

Walking and exploring a neighborhood, somewhat familiar as around the Market Safeway and around and down Bartlett at a leisurely pace. There are stops along the way, a motel balcony where friends are conversed with and many dream forgotten incidents relating to school, bushes of lilies that are quite fragrant and beautiful, children of others coming home from school and ?. As I meander on my way home, I encounter Carrie Snow who tells me of a large concert event being held in an armory like building on the west side of Bartlett. It may be just a speaker of some import and interest, but I can still get tickets at the venue and double back to do so. There is much confusion with a Philippine man at the door as to whether I have a ticket. He assumes I am in need of two tickets and charges my cc around 40 bucks with handling fees. The tickets come with hotel accommodations as it is assumed everyone attending is from out of town. I realize he has given me two room keys with small medallion fobs. I am not concerned with the overcharging and rationalize the low cost overage. He gestures to my seat: U 22, which is uncharacteristicly  in the front row among other unoccupied seats in the filling up amphitheater. I notice most of the attendees are my age or a bit older. I have some time before the show starts so I decide to walk up the wide stairs to further explore the hall toward where U 22 would logically be, although I realize these seats are numbered laterally across the room in alphabetical sections. There is a projection area that has a certain amount of rusty cave coloring on the white walls. No one is manning the space and I am free to marvel at the huge stalagmite that inhabits and bifurcates the space. It is a crusty, crystallized formation, mostly orange red in color and it seems the building may have been built around it. The speaker is about to commence and I know I must return to my seat in Row U seat 22.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dream • Food Expedition

Kathy Jones and I are taking care of her gangly teenage cousin as we walk around a small town of hers, possibly Fremont, shopping and taking in a bit of touristy stuff. We decide to eat and are joined by Jimmy Kimmel. Jones and I decide to impress them with a well known and well worn approach to the restaurant row of this town. The entrances are secret and back-room, underground and near-kitchen access.
We jump up on a counter located at the back of a bar, swing our legs over to jump into a dirt basement, the bar's freight-receiving cellar and proceed up stairs with brick walls in one of many passageways to our destination. It is meandering and byzantine, also fun to lead the group and show our prowess and knowledge of this little-known back of the house approach. There are some outdoor segments but is is long and convoluted skirting the restaurants we are working our way around and past. The restaurants' noises of conviviality are muffled but heard as we finally make our way to the destination of an Italian restaurant. Jones usually eats heartily and this is her favorite cravings place. There is much anticipation from Kimmel as he has bought enthusiastically into the adventure. The cantankerous counter waitress that will take our order says we must partake of their new setup/menu that includes a Wednesday-Friday inclusion of a comedy night, beyond the food offerings. Jones's young cousin announces she has $1.81 to spend and I make a note to self that I will cover her meal. Jones has pulled away and is mumbling about not being hungry. I believe it is because of lack of funds and assure her repeatedly "I got this". Meanwhile Jimmy Kimmel is making his dinner choice from the huge price fixe meals which include many courses. Jones and I have always come here for our favorite salmon entree with antipasto.
We finally find it buried in the new color xeroxed menu and proceed to order. There is entertainment going on in an adjacent room, but we are uninterested as it is not our style or we have seen it many times before. Everyone in our intrepid party is in good spirits and impressed with the path and trail we took to get to this special place with amazing food. It feels like Bruno's in decor, but the waitress has a NY vibe and no-nonsense manner about her.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Dream • Record Drought

Drought related business is booming in a Brill-type building (or the locale my dentist's building) Simone Joseph is the successful business owner making a killing on karaoke-style musical songs  about the drought. A friend confides the details of her $uccess, which delights me for her accomplishment.
A yellow barrier tape is evident while I record my own drought single. It is something I must do prior to leaving on vacation for parts unknown.
Returning home to pack I am greeted by backed-up toilets in serious need of a plumber. The sub-letters, guests or visiting group have left a plugged toilet and small shit pile dump on bathroom floor where ants have swarmed, as I prepare to clean up.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Dream - Slippery Slope

Staying in a long resort house, the large living and TV room at the front of the house are. connected by a long hallway to the back kitchen and entrance. Another door in this hallway leads downstairs to a garage area room where the cat litter box for 2 cats and a neighbor's cat hang out. The cats are apparently difficult to wrangle, and they eye me suspiciously when I am introduced into this room. Their owner, a Kristen Bell-type woman is energetic, athletic, in charge and prepping for a day of skiing with her husky, heavily bearded ginger husband. They are endorsing new ski equipment on this trip and I was brought along to watch their cats. Later, I try on the newly designed skis that are supposed to feature a sharp blade cutting edge, but the snow pack is hard-crusted and completely frozen. The sharpness will be useless, as I demonstrate by trying to tap and cut through the glistening surface, tentatively with the ski edges. The impending slope is going to be treacherous and dangerous for a beginner like me, so I fret and lay on my side at the top of this house-connected partially indoor track afraid to stand up as the icy slickness will certainly propel me down the hill and certain injury. There is no reason I must join in except the woman is being inclusive and competitive with her superior skills. She will appear even more Olympian in contrast by conquering the descent with ease. The husband is ill-suited to the athleticism at hand and seems to be steamrolled into the activity by his wife's self-serving agenda and lucrative endorsement deal.