Jefe's House

Tag: jeffrey stanley

Bidisha Dasgupta in Philly

by on Mar.03, 2016, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Thrilled that Bidisha Dasgupta will be performing newly choreographed Indian Classical Dance (bharatanatyam) pieces in the Dance Diversity Tour on Saturday, April 16th in Philly. Two shows. Tix are $10 until April 2nd and $15 afterwards. You haven’t bought yours yet?

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A Hindu-Appalachian Christmas in the City of Brotherly Love

by on Dec.23, 2015, under Pophood, Shaheb Cafe, The Sixth Boro

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A Shaheb’s Guide to India

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How a simple father-son craft project became a global, epic diorama

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Five years ago this month my wife Bidisha and I got married a full Hindu wedding in India. Four years ago our son was born.

This past Thanksgiving while carving the turkey at our Philadelphia home I got to the bone that my granny from rural southwestern Virginia used to save and make into a turkey bone Santa sled decoration at Christmastime every so often. It’s a morbid Appalachian thing, you wouldn’t understand. In a fit of nostalgia I decided I’d give it a whirl and introduce my young son to a part of his cultural history.

To make sure I was really remembering correctly I Googled “turkey bone sled” and one of the first things that came up was someone’s Pinterest page about turkey bone sleds with the header, “My granny made these.” Yep, I was on the right track.

The schematic.

The schematic.

My son and I often do multi-stage, multi-day art projects so I told him we were going to embark on this “small” project. I’m thinking the whole thing will be five or six inches long with a couple of ceremonial reindeer pulling it but he insists that it be the full 9 reindeer, and that there be a full moon, and a Pleiades star cluster (the Seven Sisters), Aldebaran (the brightest star in the constellation Taurus and one of the bull’s eyes), a small pine tree like the one we have in a planter outside our house, and our street sign, and snow on the ground, and hovering in the sky above Santa there should be Kartik. Without missing a beat I told him fine but that he’d need to design it on paper first so we’d know exactly what we were making and not leave anything out.

Kartik? That would be the Hindu god Kartik, less famous brother of Ganesh. Kartik is the Pete Best of major goddess Durga’s children. I later learned it’s impossible to find an altar figurine of just Kartik alone, so I convinced him instead to  CONT’D at medium.com>>

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Distress Signals

by on Nov.16, 2015, under Film/TV, NYC, Theatre

My Posthumous Friendship With a Civil Rights Hero

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Back to School

I met Lawrence Gibson at a turning point in my life. After landing my first literary agent and riding the high of a hit play I had abandoned a relationship and a lucrative day job to devote myself full-time to being a starving playwright. I crashed temporarily on the couch of my generous Uncle Joey and, despite an MFA, sought out only part-time office jobs. I soon found myself with a receptionist gig at one of New York City’s many prominent private schools.

At first the administers was baffled by my application; surely, they thought, I was using the job opening as an entrée into teaching there, but I assured them I had no interest. I just wanted to leave at noon every day. They gave me the job on a trial basis. On my third day I met someone who seemed all but invisible to me, and who would, due to my own self-absorption, stop seeming that way to me only after he died. Then his spirit reached across from the netherworld, grabbed my collar and shook me into noticing him. He also enlisted my help. CONT’D AT MEDIUM.COM>>

UPDATE:

Hi Valerie,

Well, you aren’t mentioned in the book but I knew from the New York Times obit that he had a sibling named Valerie. Nice to meet you. I’m surprised not to have heard from you sooner as this isn’t the first time I’ve talked openly of my hope to adapt Get Off My Ship. Please see my previous blog posts athttp://brain-on-fire.com/jefeblog/tag/copy-berg (sadly I never got to talk about it on Coast to Coast AM as I had hoped to do). I trust we’re on the same team in wanting Gibson and Berg’s Navy story told, remembered, and restored to its rightful place in history. I consider them civil rights heroes.

I recently also received an email from someone at the Brooklyn Historical Society asking if I knew Copy’s exact address on Dean Street. They really just wanted to know if he lived on the Brooklyn Heights section of Dean for an upcoming exhibit about gay rights activists in Brooklyn Heights. I’ve told them that as far as I know he lived a few blocks away from Lawrence in Boerum Hill, not the Heights. Steve is also looking through Lawrence’s stacks and stacks and stacks of papers to see if he can find anything but so far has had no luck on a specific Dean Street address for Copy. Is this something you might know? If so I’m happy to put you in touch with them.

As for your posting and your three terse emails via my personal blog, I’ll work my way through them in the order received… CONT’D AT MEDIUM.COM>>

 

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Finding Francis

by on Sep.26, 2015, under Politics, The Sixth Boro

Looking for the Pope in Philadelphia

20150926_100357On this overcast, blustery fall day I made a lone pilgrimage on foot two miles from my South Philly home to Center City for a chance at glimpsing Pope Francis, “the people’s Pope,” in person.  All the way up Broad Street, Army or National Guard soldiers — I’m not sure which — in green fatigues hung out casually in pairs on every other street corner. They’d been there since last night but I’m not sure why as no Papal events are planned this far south and barely a soul was out. The city seems apocalyptically deserted.

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Click to enlarge photos.

Eventually I came to barricades personed by police and military at every intersection to keep out vehicles but as a pedestrian I could pass freely. Finally, just south of City Hall, I reached one of the security entrances to the main event.  The lines were much shorter than I anticipated, and much friendlier.  Soon I was inside the secure zone.

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20150926_101707Although I’m not Catholic and have serious disagreements with the Catholic Church and its checkered history, the Pope is a major historical figure and he’s right here in my town so naturally I wanted to be a part of the event.  Like all these visitors from around the world I was one more gawking pilgrim eager to see “the people’s Pope” in the flesh.

Crossing Love Park I got my first glimpse of one of the Jumbotrons, on which the Pope was just starting (continue reading…)

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Kentucky Premiere of Tesla’s Letters

by on Sep.26, 2015, under Politics, Theatre

Paige Neeley as Daisy and Brandon McCoy as Zoran. Photo via The Richmond Register.

I was flattered to hear that my play Tesla’s Letters , which world premiered Off Broadway to rave reviews in 1999, is in production at Eastern Kentucky University, directed by Jeffery Boord-Dill. Break a leg, y’all.

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Sydney Marks at Biljana And Baxter Wilhelm as Dragan. Photo via the Eastern Progress.

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When We Were Literate

by on Aug.04, 2015, under The Truth Is In Here

Dear sweet jesus god.

“AMAZON PRODUCT REVIEW

5 Stars

Used these on the Appellation Trail for 8 days and these were awesome.”

As someone from Appellatia I was particularly offended.

 

 

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Life at South Park Elementary

by on Jul.30, 2015, under Film/TV, The Sixth Boro

mmkayAn actual email from an actual college student, and my actual response…

From: Student

To:  Jeffrey Stanley

Here is my week 5 Homework. Unfortunately my roommate caught some sort of stomach bug at a party over the weekend and I just got it passed to me yesterday, and I was laying on my couch watching South Park and eating soup and forgot about all schoolwork until the episode where the kids write “Scrotty McBooogerballs” came on and I had a personal reflection on things that I had written myself, and remembered that I needed to send you my treatment for my final project as well as my other homework.

From: Jeffrey Stanley

To: Student

Not mmkay.

a) I need a doctor’s excuse

b) there’s no homework attached here

Ironically I was also sitting watching South Park tonight and I enjoyed it up until the part where Kenny got killed, which made me think of your final grade.

Jeff

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I did not say “anyways”

by on Jul.21, 2015, under On the Road, Politics, The Press, Theatre

Otherwise the section on Boneyards and me in this National Journal article by Simon Van Zuylen-Wood is accurate except where otherwise noted, which is everywhere. Ever feel icky and used by a fellow writer?

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LAST YEAR, AMTRAK LAUNCHED an odd initiative called the Amtrak Writer’s Residency. The idea was to send 24 writers wherever they wanted, on a long-distance train, where they would basically stare out the window and type on their computers. The program was bashed by conservatives and lightly mocked on the Internet; yet an astonishing 16,000 people wound up applying. Among the eventual winners were several high-profile media figures, including the writer Jennifer Finney Boylan and the public-radio host Marco Werman.

In mid-March, I met up in D.C. with Jeff Stanley, a 47-year-old Amtrak resident writer who would be taking the Capitol Limited to Chicago, before heading to San Francisco on the California Zephyr. Stanley, who wore an Ed Hardy–style Western shirt, is a playwright, performer, and adjunct professor both at New York University and Drexel University. A fan of all things occult, he staged his latest production in the basement of a South Philadelphia synagogue, where he used a Ouija board and a martini shaker, among other instruments, in an attempt to connect with the dead [see Boneyards].

“Now, supposedly, the old station at Harpers Ferry is haunted,” Stanley tells me, as we approach West Virginia, sitting in his sleeper car. He goes on for a while about a ghost called Screaming Jenny, [Um, no. I spent about 30 minutes between DC and Harpers Ferry explaining to this writer that I had visited Harpers Ferry many times due to my love of history.  I told him that the Capitol Limited runs the route of the former B&O Railroad, and that many times I’ve stood outside the small building that was the Federal arsenal which was seized in 1859 by radical abolitionist John Brown and a group of 20 followers including his son and five African-Americans. They holed up in the arsenal and were thwarted by a detachment of US Marines under the command of a young Robert E. Lee.  In 1865 as the Civil War ended, Storer College opened in Harpers Ferry to educate recently freed slaves.  Years before John Brown’s raid and Storer College, Meriwether Lewis came to Harpers Ferry and waited while a local iron worker created a collapsible canoe according to his specifications. Lewis started out from here in 1803 in a Conestoga wagon following almost the exact same route that is now the very train line we were following. Lewis  met up with Clark near Pittsburgh to continue their journey West.  Talking about the Lewis & Clark expedition got me thinking about Thomas Jefferson who funded it, and I mentioned to the writer that one of the many reasons I admire Jefferson is that whenever a slave in Virginia sued for his freedom Jefferson would represent them pro bono.  All of the above got boiled down by the writer to “but, anyways.”  See below. (continue reading…)

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Boneyards EVP Session – 6/27/15

by on Jun.29, 2015, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

 
Those who live, live off the dead. Likewise death, too, has to live.
The theater, which is in no thing, but makes use of everything —
gestures, sounds, words, screams, light, darkness –
rediscovers itself at precisely the point where the mind
requires a language to express its manifestations. To break
through language in order to touch life is to create or recreate
the theatre.
- Antonin Artaud

suitcaseThe Saturday 6/27 show concluded with yet another simultaneous Ouija board-EVP session that gave us all plenty to talk about. Audience volunteers JOY and JOE (not the same Joe who sat at the board in the previous show) personed the board while the audience and I gathered round to watch. Joy and Joe contacted someone named V I V (short for Vivian, or perhaps it’s 3 initials) who was 7 8 years old and standing to my R I G H T.  What did she think of the show?  S U B T L E.  (That was a first, and a particularly eloquent response that made me blush underneath my sadhu ocher, ash and dirt).  Did she know anyone in the audience? YES.  J O E.  How did she know Joe?  H O M E. Joe and I didn’t like where this was headed so I quickly changed the subject:  would Viv like to speak with us electrically?  YES.

I took a few steps away and fired up my trusty P-SB7 “spirit box” and connected it to a loudspeaker as usual.  Somewhere between the hiss of the spirit box and my ad libbed one-liners Viv’s seemingly jovial mood changed and she suddenly got annoyed with us.  When I asked if she could say my name, a voice (continue reading…)

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