Greetings from Brooklyn, where I'm looking out the window at a frozen sun. I'm staying with my friends Jean-Michele and Mike, and my Goddog, Baci. Last night Mike and I performed at Speakeasy at the Cornelia Street Cafe, an awesome storytelling series here in New York. I told the story of watching the coverage of Ted Bundy's execution with my father and siblings back in 1989. My parents were friends with Ted-- my father went to law school with him-- and so I've been slightly obsessed with the man since . . . well, I can't remember a time when he wasn't of interest to me.
It's damn wonderful being back in New York. I've still got a few days left here, and I'm already plotting my next trip.
But now, an abbreviated update on absolutely everything I'm reading, writing, and rehearsing:
I recently re-read Ann Rule's book, The Stranger Beside Me, which I haven't read since high school. We're approaching the twentieth anniversary of Ted Bundy's execution, so I believe Ann has a new edition of her book coming out. Which means I'll probably be re-reading it again next month. Silly, but I wanted to reacquaint myself with some dates and details before performing at Speakeasy last night.
I've never read anything else by Ann Rule, but I love this book. It's the book that made her career; before Ted Bundy she wrote true crime stories for pulps and glossies. Her friendship with Ted (they worked together at a crisis hotline in Seattle for a year or so) made her book on the serial killer a definitive work, and deservedly so. Her story is gripping without indulging in sensationalism or gore. She reports the story as a journalist would, detailing but not dwelling on the murders. I appreciate this. My imagination is powerful enough. Ann's own story line is of particular interest to me since it closely mirrors what I know about my parents' relationship with Ted, and the difficulty they had believing he was capable of such monstrous crimes. The lines that haunt me:
"Ted has been described as the perfect son, the perfect student, the Boy Scout grown to adulthood, a genius, as handsome as a movie idol, a bright light in the future of the Republican Party, a sensitive psychiatric social worker, a budding lawyer, a trusted friend, a young man for whom the future could hold only success.
He is all of these things, and none of them."
Ann Rule does such a good job of detailing the tragedies of Ted Bundy-- the tragedies he created for so many families, and the tragedy of his own life. Looking forward to reading the new edition when it's out next month.
I've been reading several chapters of David Henry Sterry's memoir, Chicken, each night before bed. The story of Sterry's life as a teenager in LA who is a part time college student and part time prostitute, Chicken is raunchy and occasionally excruciating to read-- particularly as he moves on from working for lonely housewives to a more complicated, emotionally disturbed clientele. David's a solo performer and an immensely gifted character actor. I saw the solo show he adapted from Chicken several years ago at the Bowery Poetry Club. It's very interesting to read the book, now. His performance was very memorable, and I see parts of it as I read-- but then the voice changes slightly and it's like I've been given access to a whole new layer of his experience. I like it. And it's a page turner! I keep going to bed at 4am, vowing to go straight to sleep, and then I do the "one more chapter" thing for over an hour. Woops.
Before I left Seattle, I was reading Under the Tuscan Sun. This was my nightly reading for about two weeks. I helped my friend Francesca pack up her apartment for a few weeks, and naturally was sent home with about a dozen books, including Frances Mayes' book about fixing up a house in Tuscany. Kurt and I were in the throes of house projects, so it was the perfect light read at the end of each day.
It was nothing like I imagined it would be-- I thought it was going to be one of those "picking up the pieces" memoirs in which fixing up an old house becomes the central metaphor for starting over and finding new life in middle age . . . but no. It's really just a diary-- a very poetic diary-- of Mayes' experience buying and fixing up a Tuscan villa, of cooking and shopping and traveling. And there are recipes. I enjoyed the writing. It made me hungry. And it was comforting to get in the tub after a long day of painting or moving furniture or cleaning up and read about someone else in a similar boat. Our house is just over a hundred years old; Mayes' house is at least three times as old, and sitting on Etruscan stones. Her troubles were ever so much more complex than ours; made it hard to complain.
(Which doesn't mean I didn't complain. I believe at one point I started referring to the house as the Amityville Horror House, and snarled at my husband that his Victorian Bitch was trying to kill me.)
(It's a damn good thing he likes me.)
I've read about a half-dozen other books as research recently, but I must speed my way through this post in order to get to a dinner date with a writer friend shortly, so that'll have to do for now.
Writing: This post. Many notes for the new show, and notes from the story I told last night, to keep it fresh in my mind as I think about how it will play in Your Own Personal Alcatraz. Emails and Facebook posts to all the good folks I met last night. It's always such a shot in the arm to be back in New York and among so many interesting, talented people.
Rehearsing: See above! Jean-Michele and I are starting to talk about how we're going to get the new show up and running. I am so excited for it, especially after the performance last night. It felt great to try out new material and see where it could go with more development.
Three more days in NYC, then back to DC for two nights, then home! Home to the husband and the kitty and the Amityville. I'll be honest: I miss them all.