Thursday, June 28, 2007


Sinead O'Connor dropped by the other night to debut songs from her new album, Theology. It's a work of real beauty and the show was one of those things where everyone started breathing in the same rhythm and I could swear I was awake and asleep at the same time.

Faith is a funny thing, sitting there all detached from the real, floating along despite all evidence to the contrary, allowing random events to attach and assign meaning. I've been in one of those periods of late where I don't know where I'm going and the fear wells up within me; doubt becomes my default setting and I find it's time to unplug and start again.

Sometimes, it's a chore to know the things we know; so, sitting there watching Sinead act on her impulse to sing songs of hope and pure belief, detached from the institutions assigned to safeguard the mysteries was inspirational.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Few Weeks In The Life

Well, it's been a hectic couple of weeks. This one started in Newport, Joey and I hanging out in our room after the rehearsal dinner, trying to unwind from all the excitement. I added some the next weekend down in Austin where I met Linus, mighty Linus and listened to a bunch of Wilco with Alex, contemplating his first Father's Day. Another section showed up sitting at Quacks up in the old neighborhood where Jennifer and I used to stop for coffee and bagels. Then I threw in a little nature from a lovely afternoon laying on a rock in the rapids of the Greenbelt.

It's been a longer and stranger trip than usual of late, reconnecting with old friends and many memories and revisiting old haunts only to find them not as haunted as I remembered them. Time and distance, baby . . . time and distance.

I've also been working on some completely new things, things that don't fit on my scanner, things that stretch my moments to the length of weeks, things that have made me a little secluded and slower on the processing. Things that just weren't made for a blog. In fact, one of them debuted Sunday night on stage at the Bait and Tackle where Balthrop, Alabama held their album release party. It looked mighty purty up, there framed by the band and presented like a check from Ed McMahon.

However, it has to be said that Ed McMahon NEVER dropped a check. Just saying.

Do you remember the days when an album came out and you loved it for the music and the package the music came in? Well, Balthrop's delivering. They made the music available months ago on their web-page, but now it's all been mastered and dressed up pretty in a two-cd-package with accompanying book and artwork and if you want to be like me, get yourself a copy, sit on your couch and listen to it while you ooh and ahh your way through the pages.

Oh. And look who flew home from the West Coast, arriving early on a Tuesday and making New York a little cooler and me a good bit happier.

Into the Next . . . .

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Exit Center Stage

Alessandra Ferri gave her last performance with American Ballet Theater tonight. A print of this drawing--which includes all of the ballets she danced with ABT--was given to her at some point after the performance as a gift of appreciation.

I don't know Alex as well as I know many of the other dancers at ABT, but the few times I've been able to watch her in rehearsal are among the greatest rehearsals I've ever been able to watch. It's hard to explain, because I'm not really a dance expert, but Alessandra Ferri is kind of The Thing Itself.

She was fierce.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friends in High Places

I saw Chalk on Wednesday. I was down in the Village with Alana and Samantha and we decided to wander over to The Sunshine to check on the movie-times. Alana had heard about this great new Morgan Spurlock film and really wanted to see it, but she was so rarely in the East Village. I indulged her because I had heard of this movie and I too wanted to see it. For the third time.

"You know, I know them," I bragged at some point in the film because I am a name dropper and when you're friends with three of the four stars and you did Ivan's scene from Threepenny Opera with Greg, the music teacher, you've got some serious material to work with.

"No way," she said.

"Dear friends. Known them for years. Jonny comments on my blog page all the time, I mean when the computer allows it."

"Is he the history teacher?"

"Oh no--Jonny's Janelle--the tragic gym teacher who only knows theatre games." Apparently I've learned nothing over the years about the proper way to drop Janelle's name.

Afterwards, she couldn't stop going on about how beautiful Shannon was and how genius she was with the walkie-talkie. I told her I give Shannon music all the time and whenever Shannon has surgery, I go along because we're that close.

Later that night at Joe's, Shanta asked me where I'd been and I told her I went to see Chalk before coming over and she said, "I've got to see that! It's that new Morgan Spurlock movie, right?" and I rolled up my sleeves, and leaned back in my chair and said, "you know . . . "


The problem with meeting Judith is that the drive from Staten Island to The West Village has so much potential for delay. "I'm near the tunnel.""I'm in the tunnel." "I'm at Canal.""I'm on Sixth at Houston."

Luckily I was waiting at a table by the window and got to watch the whole thing, how the sky changed and the wind shifted and the billboard across the way tried in vain to be a sail.

"Didn't you look at the Times Weather on-line?" Johanna later asked me and I said, "no." because I have had other things on my mind and a little rain never hurt anyone.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Come Together

Chris and Raina did it right, walked the aisle of Marble House in front of family and friends looking so good the rain stopped on its way down and went back up to declare a cease-fire. We danced until we were kicked out and then moved the party back to the Viking and closed that place down too.

The only drawing I really got done was at the rehearsal; it's hard to hold a pen and champagne at the same time. Besides, this wedding was an intersection of about five families and one of them was one of mine and I really like laughing with the cousins. Pat and Merv showed up on a DVD to compete with Joan Rivers as most entertaining toast ever at a wedding. The jury's still out, but don't look in family-oriented newspapers for the transcripts of either one.

Chris and I are the only people in our generation of the Mervis family to lose a parent and the ache of that loss is never very far from either one of us. We also share a completely different but similarly complicated post-parental-divorce life, going through the years since we were children with multiple parents and families so unlike each other, yet abundant with grace and joy. Chris and Raina wanted this wedding to be a celebration and a coming together of the many different strands of love that made them who they were. Chris in particular has a gift for this sort of thing--it's his super-power, bringing people together and enjoying the company of those he loves.

"Chris in context," I said looking around at all the family still left standing Sunday morning.

"Exactly," he smiled.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Make Out King

John and Shana and I got to be VIPs last night during Eleni Mandell's show. I had to draw by candle-light because I'd left my clip light at home. Now, I'll grant you that that's not very professional, but look how my show-must-go-on attitude prevailed . . .

Wondering what it was like? She's got plenty of live videos up at YouTube for your perusal and delight . . .

I'm off to Newport for the weekend, dahlink. The big show has arrived; it's finally Chris and Raina's big wedding blow-out. It's like Thanksgiving in June with Mervis's flying in from all over the country.

Not entirely sure how to dress for hanging out on the streets with the blue-bloods, I enlisted Joan Helpern to be my personal stylist. Now, this is the woman who's been known to say, "it doesn't matter what you do as long as you are the best," so I had high hopes. Also, she's a fashion legend. I have to say the results were mixed; I got a great industry lesson and more inside information on the way that styles are realized in the stitch, stitch, stitch of the factories, but sometimes Eliza, a shirt is just a shirt.

Anyway, the shopping was like my life in microcosm. We wandered Fifth Avenue shops and Joan gave me a great education and then I cut loose the next day and did it my own way. I now own a pair of white jeans for the first time in 15 years and I have a pair of those funky J Crew shorts-of-many-pastels. I'll be wearing a tux by Ralph Lauren and underpants by Hanes. I passed on the 350 dollar socks because WHO THE HELL BUYS 350 DOLLAR SOCKS? Besides, Chris says he's walking the aisle sans socks and when in Rome . . .

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Over the weekend, Kristina and I wandered around Brooklyn, talked about old times and swapped stories about what had happened in the years between now and then. We also acted like proud aunts and uncles with nothing to show for ourselves, throwing down pictures and saying "awwww" a lot.

We ended up at Joe's, of course and caught the Motion Trio. I once took Hillary to an Old 97s show at Irving Plaza and she kept looking at me like she'd dropped into an alternative universe where there was a heretofore unknown-to-her band that was so loved that she was the only one there who didn't know the words to every song and when to clap the fills. I guess The Motion Trio is to Poland what the Old 97s are to Texas because the crowd cheered in glee every time this three accordion band . . . uhm . . .ripped into . . . classic Polish polkas and folk tunes and made them sound like the kind of thing you'd hear three guys dressed like kraut rockers do with squeezeboxes late at night in a dark alley.

Then last night, Johanna and I went to see Passing Strange upstairs at The Public. It's the first show developed through Joe's and it's getting all sorts of rave reviews and attention. The New York Times and The New Yorker have both laid down with Stew afterwards, lit up a cigarette and gushed about how great he was. Also, it looks like the show is moving on to other venues.

And it deserves it. I saw it a few weeks ago in a preview and then again last night and what was promising and fun a few weeks ago has become an outright great night of rock and roll and storytelling. And I pretty much hate rock musicals.

A note to old people with sensitive eyes: don't sit in the front row, house left because sometimes Stew wanders down in that direction and the wash of lights hits you and you just look silly shielding your eyes like a nuclear device has gone off in your face. And, jeez, what's with the scowl, old folk? It's only a star, man.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Monday Morning