Sunday, July 24, 2016

Boy Camp 2016

A low-key first night, but not without activity. First order of Boy Camp 2016, the boy needed a haircut. From there we proceeded to BD’s Mongolian Barbeque. Why? Because the girl won’t step foot in that place due to her peanut allergy. The boy has always been curious about it.

We ate way too much, so after window shopping at Big Fun for a few minutes we dragged our back ends home to watch Believeland on Netflix, the “Happy Ending” cut.

Believeland, a film by Andy Billman, lays out the humiliating defeats of each of Cleveland’s three major sports franchises in painful details, against the backdrop of urban decay and despair and unfortunate 1980s and 90s Midwestern hairstyles.

We played poker for a bit and then made an early night because I needed to take a friend to the airport first thing this morning. Of course, “early night” this summer means before midnight. We still had to watch the final Cleveland installment of The Daily Show.

After a relaxing morning and taking care of a few errands, we set out for the rest of the day. First up, the U.S.S. Cod, our resident World War Two submarine, located pretty much in the same location as a World War One submarine during the Great Lakes Exposition.

Thou lumpish, hasty-witted maggot-pie!
Then we headed to the library to join two actor-teachers, Shaun and Will, as they began conducting a Shakespearean comedy workshop in Brett Hall.

Had we really performed Twelfth Night (As Told By Malvolio) right there in that space, at that time, only one week ago? Crazy.

Boy Camp traditionally (though not always) commences with bowling. It’s always been at that place in Solon, but since we were already downtown, we made a spontaneous decision to go to Corner Alley on East 4th.

Yes, I know it’s fucking expensive. This is not your son.

Souvenir vendors up and down Euclid Avenue we selling the last of their RNC booty, but otherwise, downtown looked much more like itself, without any security barriers or barricades and none the worse for wear.

From there we moved to the near west side for dinner at XYZ Tavern (Broccoli tempura is totally a thing) and knocking around at Superelectric, which is the coolee-coolest place to have fun, be stupid 1970s nostalgic, and really not spend a lot of money.

I wanted to try all the different pinball machine, but the boy had seen a “shuffle bowling” machine at Corner Alley that didn’t work and when he found they have one at Superelectric he didn’t want to play anything else.

Assassins (Near West Theatre)
The major event for our evening was Assassins at Near West Theatre. A community theater in Ohio City, they recently opened a brand new facility right on Detroit in the heart of Gordon Square. I was excited to see this "problem" musical of Sondheim’s (aren’t they all, though, after all) performed by a large cast of performers between the ages of 16 and 25.

Really. They produced Assassins during a national political convention. Word!

And the performances were delightful, the design was tremendous. My major issue, unfortunately, is with the show itself. I had seen it once before perhaps a dozen years ago, and am a great fan of the Off-Broadway cast recording starring Victor Garber. The recording by itself tells a tight and compelling tale, clearly playing out the American obsession with guns and fame. A couple things trouble me about the production presented in full.

One is all the scenes that don’t feature music. All the pre-Kennedy assassins, who all killed their targets (except Giuseppe Zangara) are treated to set pieces with great Sondheim songs. John Hinckley, Jr. and Squeaky Fromme get a duet as well, but Fromme also participates in a few scenes with Sarah Jane Moore which are goofy (women, what are ya gonna do) and Sam Byck has two rambling monologues which, though amusing, merely explain the mindset of a deluded murderer which is already and much more successfully communicated through the songs and  lyrics.

The show now seems awkwardly dated. We are living in a time when gun worship is a society endangering mental illness. It’s not enough to discuss these figures from history in the context of their megalomania. Also no longer relevant is the special significance given to the legend of Lee Harvey Oswald, as though that assassination was more elevated, more significant, more holy than the rest.

This is the point of view of someone who personally experienced the event in 1963. No one under fifty has that experience. The assassination of John Kennedy was no more devastating to the people of his time than that of James A. Garfield to his. I mean, don’t tell a Baby Boomer that, you’ll never hear the end of it.

"Time Of The Apes"
The addition of a new song after the 1990 Off-Broadway production, Something Just Broke, was new to me. The penultimate number, it expresses the horror and sadness that grips the nation in the wake of such a loss. However, as the rest of the show is so arch, so satiric, and so dark, dealing exclusively until that moment with the assassins themselves, it felt a little late in the game to present earnest, real world grieving from everyday citizens.

After the show we considered ice cream, but Sweet Moses was packed. Besides, we were totally exhausted. No, we did not get around to everything he wanted to do this weekend. We did not make bacon dippers or chicken and waffles. But that didn't keep him from telling me what a great day it was.

Sunday morning we watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 because that is what you should always do on Sunday morning.

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