Block 104: June 1, 2013



It’s incredibly hot already; I’ve learned this morning that the windows in my new apartment are too wide for my AC unit to be installed.

The Dog and I are suffering today.

Date: June 1, 2013

Crane: 104

Days Spent on Project: 104

Location: Apartment, Washington Heights, NYC

Person I would have sent it to: Michael B.

He was (and still is) the husband of Marie B (yesterday’s Crane).

I don’t know if he knew what he was getting into when his wife decided she was going to take on and develop the Brebeuf Theater Scene into something.

We were incredibly low tech in the 1990s: we were forced, as usable space at Brebeuf was at a premium, to use the school’s chapel as our auditorium. For each production, it was decided where our makeshift platform stage would be configured, how all the pews would be shifted, the optimum (i.e. only) spots for lighting and sound equipment.

Anyone involved in the production was expected to help out. There was always an air of community in those performances (WE are doing this! We made this happen completely!), which I now understand as the big reason that I was drawn to the theatrical experience.

I was just looking for a group that wanted me, needed me, and would take what I could give: myself.

While Marie was the one-woman army who ran rehearsals, corralled the students, and lead us through “acting” the play, Michael was more generally behind the scenes, making things happen. He was entirely supportive of her work and her job.

And also us. He was a great guy.

I’m sure it was tense at times, with our limited means and abilities, but he was there with us.

Music I listened to while sewing: I have spent two days watching and re-watching footage of Alexander McQueen runway shows on Youtube. I’ve fallen more than a little in love with his collection “Irere” from 2003, and have been listening to its soundtrack as often as I can.

I’m now working on a production of The Tempest. When I first suggested this collection as possible research, I wasn’t aware how spot-on its backstory would be with this play.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: Back in 2011, the Metropolitan Museum of Art had an exhibit called Savage Beauty, showcasing the work of the late Alexander McQueen.

Over that summer, I saw the exhibit 6 times. I would have gone many more times, but the lines to the exhibit would frequently snake around the musuem’s halls AND THEN outside and down Fifth Avenue for several blocks.

It was one of “those” experiences in my life that I’ll never forget. The clothes, first of all… then the production design… then the research behind it all. I fell in love with his work and his ability and his ideas and how crazy and bold and challenging and beautiful and scary and heavy and overwhelming his work was.

A friend recently described his work as perfectly using fabric to sculpt a wearable emotion.

His clothes weren’t just clothes; people frequently do call them a kind of feminine armor. But I would venture to say they’re costumes. He took ideas and feelings and created a silhouette from them; that we take those silhouettes and use them to make us think or feel completes a weird sartorial circle.

Anyway, I learned with that exhibit what genius looks like. And that genius isn’t something we all have access to. Sure, I’m “good at” a lot of things. I have talent with a few skills. I’m smart.

Genius is on another level entirely. It’s not commonplace.

And that’s so humbling.

I wonder sometimes if the access to opportunity creates genius. Does it just take a chance? Could genius actually be within us all; could it be that we don’t have the reason to utilize it during our lives?

And that’s the thought that gets me out of bed and to the garment district and at the Strand and the library and seated at my drawing table or sewing machine and thinking about what I could do or want to do or hope to do. I have to tell myself, especially at times like these when you experience how terrible theater can actually be, that there is a chance that I have something inside me that will wake up and be needed and created and seen.

I have to keep thinking that. I have to remind myself to live more with the thought that fantasy and possibility can still exist. I can’t let myself dwell on the belief that my fantasy or my possibility isn’t wanted here. I just can’t.


2 thoughts on “Block 104: June 1, 2013

  1. Mike, I had no idea you had dedicated crane to me, and I’m very touched. I guess when I saw Marie’s name, I didn’t look any farther. Thank you for the kind thoughts and my place in your memory. Yeah, I had a pretty good idea what I was getting into, but it’s nice to hear that the students appreciated the efforts that went into those productions. It was a very special experience for Marie and I, and you were a big part of that.

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