Saturday, November 15, 2008


Oakland/East Bay Symphony had the first performance of its 20th season tonight, and Edith and I went because Brother Dan Harder, who has brightened our pathway in our sometime poetry salon awhile, wrote the lyrics for what I suppose you might call a mini-musical, Zipperz, a playlet for two voices in which love comes, quivers, collapses and revives.

It wasn't classic zippers, a form that (I believe) Dan originated in which two poems are placed side by side, read down one at a time -- that's two poems; add 'em up -- and then read across and the two become a third. It's more than a trick the way Dan does it. Most of the time the mashup is significantly different from its two components, really artful.

Zipperz (the musical) wasn't really quite that. It was side-by-side soliloquies from two fine singers and not the true linear union of two discrete poems -- or, in this case, what would have been the melding of two sets of lyrics. But it was witty and then it was lovely, very lovely.

I can only give it my best praise: I'd like to hear it again.

At the reception into which we plowed -- conscious reference to Sarah Palin -- as Friends of Dan, who to our wondering eyes should appear but Charlies Haas of screenwriting renown who has dumped Hollywood and written a novel called "The Enthusiast" that is about to appear.

I guess you'd call Dan and Charlie our acquaintances, but I prefer my old dad's approach, which was that anyone he ever met who enjoyed any success was his "dear friend." The great thing about my old dad was that he was utterly devoid of irony when he so denominated. In his mind all these people loved them some Jim Robertson, and he told his tales with an utter lack of self-consciousness of his inherent desperation to for god's sake be somebody.

Irony is a zip, isn't it, starting out all nice and sincere and then layering on a thin coat of sour perspective, thus undercutting and reframing what was actually a lovely evening and time spent with people I like, and let's leave it at that. That's the way to frame it and not reduce it to an exercise in collecting pals the way Red Indians collected scalps.

Addendum the morning after: Sometimes friends say -- and usually they say it kindly -- that a post of mine doesn't quite make sense, that they don't quite 'get it.' My answer is that I don't always get my posts either. One starts with -- no, not an idea. One starts with an *impulse* and then the words go where they list.

Making sense? I only ever made sense when I was paid to do it. So now I add to last night that I was writing well after midnight and right after stopping at the Vine wine bar on Lakeshore, where we had never before been in attendance. We liked it very well. Of course, the wine was expensive and the music was loud, but we were surrounded by several sleek black couples whose general elegance -- whose general sense of being part of the ton -- made us feel 59 again.

But that is not why I cranked this post up once more. Thinking of Dan and Charlie, I wondered on awaking -- for some reason I always have one or two nice fresh ideas, fresh as coffee just as I get up, literally get up, in the morning -- I wondered how my knowledge of and intimacy with those two would compare to Obama's connection with William Ayers.

Since both of these fellows and their mates have been in our home for meals and play -- though not Charlie and Brenda K for years my goodness -- we know them (I think) better than Obama knew Ayers.

And I hardly know these two admirable fellows at all. That's my point.
That's all I have.

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