Okay so this is going to sound very Jewish but. A member of my very extended family (my mishpokhe, if we’re going all in on this) runs a bagel place and their closest rivals brand their bagels as “Montreal style” and we were raised to like the New York style and dislike the Montreal style. So I do like the texture of the New York style much better (especially at my relative’s bakery where they’re boiled in whey rather than water) but I am super biased here.
I now want a musical about your cousin who falls in love with the Montreal bagel family’s heir.
Either that or an elaborate heist film involving bagels. I’m still working on the concept.
Does the heist include a truck full of lox?
It does now.
If a crucial part of the heist involves “The Whitefish King of East Flatbush,” then count me in.
So. Today in class we assigned Macbeth roles to students to read. When I asked the class who wants to be Lady Macbeth, a young man raised his hand. I kind of stared at him like “Lady Macbeth,” and he nodded like “I know what I’m about ma’am.” So then the student who ended up as Macbeth raised his hand and said “HE’S THE ONE, HE’S MY WIFE!” So I said “yeah sure why not,” and the entire class period they were blowing kisses to each other and winking at each other, and every now and then Macbeth would say “I’m the luckiest man on Earth” and Lady Macbeth would put a hand to his chest, and be like “BABE!”.
I just stared at them, knowing that they CLEARLY have never read ‘Macbeth’ before, so… all this lovey dovey… I don’t know if I have the heart to tell them the truth.
- Macbeth is absolutely willing to fucking throw down for Lady Macbeth. Has already threatened a wall, a desk, a few students, a textbook that was neither his nor Lady Macbeth’s, and me
- Lady Macbeth is enjoying the attention and has begun to use this new connection to his advantage. I’m starting to suspect he’s read ahead in the play.
- Macbeth is going to end up living in detention at this rate.
- Macbeth has no idea that he is the tragedy of the story. Claims to be the hero of the play, fails to see the irony in this
- Macbeth slowly scooted his desk across the classroom to hold hands with Lady Macbeth. He was not subtle.
- Macbeth has proposed on several occasions. Lady Macbeth just laughs and says they’re already married.
- Macbeth’s girlfriend is in the class with them and is “totally not jealous or anything just thinks this whole fucking play is a waste of time”
- Lady Macbeth should probably be a theatre major at some point, he fucking rocked Act V scene I
- Other teachers and staff are emailing me about the “lovely lords”. Lady Macbeth now refuses to answer to anything other than Lady Macbeth and is always very upset when people don’t call him by his proper title.
I mean. This relationship does feel dramaturgically consistent.
I ship it.
I’ll be curious to see how consensus shakes out on Star Trek: Discovery, the first new Trek TV series since Enterprise. In the hours since the season-one finale ended…I’ve seen mostly expressions of disappointment or outright hostility, mingled with affection for certain characters, moments, and episodes.
This baffles me. To paraphrase what people tell me every time they disagree with one of my reviews, I feel like we saw two different shows. I thought Star Trek: Discovery delivered the strongest first season overall since the original series, which premiered on NBC almost 52 years ago, and that, on evidence of this first run of episodes, it could be one of the all-time greats if it plays its cards right.
With the exception of a smidgen of Kirk Drift, this review is SPOT ON.
Fun with old memes and new Disco
As I’ve alluded to, I’ve been working for a while on a script about Aaron Burr. When this project began, it was definitely about the things that went down in all those metaphorical rooms where it happened. But it quickly became clear that if I stayed there, it would just be yet another Great White Man History and zzzzzzzz. So I widened the scope to try getting out of those rooms and into the other places of the time where perhaps other kinds of folks were trying to live their lives. Absolutely the right choice. But it leads to some other kinds of problems.
Because almost all our history is Great White Man History and Here Are The Important Things history, there’s very little actual record of all the stuff that was happening to all the Not-Great White Men at the same time.
Because the job of a historian is to paint the broad brush, and give us the sweep of history. But the job of the dramatist is to create living, breathing characters, who do things, for reasons, that have ramifications.
So many times, a person will be mentioned in passing and then never again, and I shout WAIT! WAIT! I NEED TO KNOW MORE.
There are so many basic, simple facts that are just missing, or fragmented, and of course its all the stuff that I need.
To wit, here are some facts:
–As a State Assemblyman in New York, Aaron Burr introduced a bill to outlaw slavery in New York, It failed.
–Aaron Burr owned slaves.
–New York gradually emancipated slaves over a period from 1799 to 1827.
–Aaron Burr died in 1836.
When you put all of these facts together, you get is the following: Aaron Burr opposed slavery on some level, but not enough to renounce the practice himself. But at some point in his life, he made the decision to emancipate the slaves that he held.
When did he do that? Why did he do that? How many slaves did he have at the time? What made him decide at that point to do it. What happened to the slaves he emancipated? Where did they go? Did any of them stay in his service? Why? And most importantly WHO WERE THEY?
If you read all the Burr bios, you get these little glimpses of people like Alexis and Peggy and Peter Yates, slaves and servants who are always around and in the background, but nobody cares enough about them to tell us who they actually were.
But I need to have all of that in my script. Because who they are – and how Burr treats them – is essential information for this story. The fact that Burr held slaves, and the way he treated them – these are essential windows into his character.
(@linmanuel skirted this whole thing my making the choice to show Hamilton as an ardent abolitionist – which, HELLO? NOT! Both Hamilton and Burr were members of the Manumission Society who also owned slaves and helped other buy them. I imagine if the 3rd Cabinet Battle song had stayed in, that would have added some nuance. But because of the frame of Hamilton The Musical, it’s less problematic. Or, to be more precise, if I were to try the same tactic, it would be much MORE problematic.)
And every piece of wiring that I’ve picked up from living in our culture is inviting me to frame it in a “well, he did hold slaves, but it was New York, so it wasn’t as bad as the south, so it could have been worse” way. Which, frankly, is a bullshit cop-out, and I am resisting.
So I’m basically going to have to make it all up. Which, fine, okay, that’s my job. But boy, oh boy, do I not want to get this part wrong. These people have been erased from history already, and I feel a responsibility to not further that erasure.
The only thing I’ve found that directly addresses this issue is one passage in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895 that says:
“Burr emancipated his slaves just before the enactment of the bill instituting gradual emancipation in New York State for African Americans born after 4 July 1799.”
I’ve followed the cited sources, but have been unable to discover where they got this information. The only one I don’t have is the Mary-Jo Kline one, so I’ve got a trip to the LAPL reference desk in my near future.
(The text of that gradual emancipation bill can be found here. It was passed on March 29, 1799.)
So, if that one line entry is to be believed, sometime in 1799, Burr freed his slaves.
One might guess that it was a monumentally important day to Alexis and Peggy and Peter Yates.
And yet none of Burr bios I have read mention it. Even allude to it. There’s no sign of this event every happening.
It frustrating me in my attempts to write this thing – but ultimately that’s trivial. What’s more important is this:
We are narrative building creatures. And given a set of facts, we will impose narrative, character, values, morals and meaning on those facts. But every historical “fact” that we think we know is surrounded by a cloud of other facts, data, people, relationships and reality that are totally hidden from us.
Hidden by design. Hidden by choice.
And we are all the poorer for it.
Sloan, whose debut novel, Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore explored the future of the printed word, clearly believes the traditionalist and the futurist need not be locked in combat. That may seem a little optimistic, and yet there’s something so unjaded about his story, and so plucky about Lois that I found myself captivated by its tiny dramas despite myself. Perhaps it’s that Californian can-do spirit. Or perhaps it’s just a relief to read a novel about breaking bread rather than broken humans.
Oh, Vasquez! You’re just too bad.