The following abstract will be read on behalf of John Purugganan at The Future of Justice Policy Roundtable, which will include and discuss one of John’s recent essays, “Life Without Parole: The Shocking Truth.” The Future of Justice Policy Roundtable is hosted by Square One Project, and co-hosted by Merritt College and the Justice Lab at Columbia University.Read More
For some time I’ve been interested in (all right, obsessed with) listening to people’s conversations as they eat in public. I know it’s perhaps unethical to pry, but it’s a public place—what are they expecting? And I’m proud to say I accomplish my objective—mining this essential raw material—very discretely. (I don’t stare, I don’t take notes—well, if I do, I pretend to be jotting down something I’m thinking about.) And it’s not as if I transcribe directly; it’s more like a prompt. Mostly. Sometimes.
I worry sometimes that if people really knew what they were saying while they’re eating, they’d probably stop talking completely. And that would be a disservice to all us writers. So please don’t mention my habit to anyone. As an enducement to your cooperative quiet, I’m sharing here the first in an irregular series of, what?monologues from those eating, based on what they’ve ordered. In this case …
BLT WHISKEY DOWN AND A BEET SALAD
God, I hate coffee shops. They always put too much mayonnaise on these things and why is rye toast so difficult? Tomato like cardboard. …Can’t anyone do anything right?
Why did you order beets? I’m your mother, I know you hate them. Why are you using that beet to make designs on your placemat? Put the beet back in the dish for god’s sake. Is this like the oatmeal this morning? And don’t give me that look. I am so tired of your looks. Use words for god’s sake. Clear the air for once. Oh, never mind.
Why are you wearing your cheerleader uniform now? Showing off for… Aren’t you supposed to be in history this afternoon or something, learning something?
I don’t get you. I’m not the one who needed this conference. Family counseling. As if talking to a stranger was going to… What is that sigh? One more and I… If you’re going to be mad at anyone, be mad at your father. Daddy-Do-No-Wrong. His idea. And of course he’s late. …This sandwich is foul. …I’ve got a 1:30 back at the office, had to pick you up from school. I take any more time away from the office, they’re going to…
Do not pick up your phone. I swear I will take it away and you won’t see a phone until you leave for college, bless the day when that miracle happens. And don’t put it in your lap and think I don’t know that you’re texting Susan, all right Stephanie, whoever. You and your so-called friends.
Listen to me, Miss Perfect. Show some respect or it’s military boarding school. Don’t test me.
Here’s your father. You smile, dammit. Remember. I’m not the one at fault here.
Hi, dear. You have time for a bite? Try the BLT.
I hid behind a tiki hut to sketch Jane Burgoyne by Robert Moulthrop during its live performance on Sunday.
These small moments are the ones that keep us coming back for more… to re-watch the movies they’re in, and to explore movies we don’t know, or don’t yet know, in order to enlarge ourselves and our lives.Read More
A staged reading. Sounds so simple. But it takes 17 hours over 4 days; 1 director, 3 actors, 1 reader of stage directions, 1 stage manager; 1 play development director. Not to mention an audience of around 120 people, a crew of ushers, the sound and lighting departments, and then there’s those providing PlayWrights Punch in the concession area. And, of course, the playwright. It was a wonderful week. It was exhilarating and exhausting.
The latest version of Jane Burgoyne, developed over the summer with the help of Cynthia White (Orlando Shakes director of new play development), made for a stronger play, and provided the director and the actors with moments that connected. Hats off and big thanks to director Tony Simotes, and actors Kate Young (Jane), Michelle Brightman (Katherine), and Megan Valle (Allison). And also Alli Gersbach (Stage Manager), and Melissa Landy (Stage Directions reader).
What’s next for Jane? I’ll keep you posted.
Those novelists. They sure know how to get you. Pick up that book at the bookstore and begin to read at your peril. Here are a few of my favorite openers for your consideration.Read More
I offer, and they seem, silently, glad of my help. But there are three return addresses they point to on the well-folded, well-creased envelope they thrust in my direction. One in Queens, one in Brooklyn, and one on Lafayette Street. I direct them to the latter. It’s closer. But they don’t want that.Read More
My Little Cell is my personal laboratory. A laboratory is a place equipped for scientific experimentation. My Little Cell is equipped for universal learning, universal studying, and experimentation. I am my own little personal scientist. What does a scientist do? Experiments. And through experimenting, what emerges? Inventions.Read More
Later, after the vise is open,
Rough old hands—
Gnarled fingers, calloused thumbs—
Invoke the plan.Read More
What’s enough? Why
Isn’t enough enough?
Why more?Read More