Here are some excerpts from my reading of excerpts out of my new Novel, The Buzzer as presented at The Irish Writer’s Centre on 10 May, 2016. Many thanks to Amy, Bernie and Valerie at the centre and my dear friend, Fionan Nadim who filmed the proceedings.
An excerpt from Farrell’s continuing memoir, 3 LIES ABOUT BROOKLYN as presented at Dixon Place in July of 2014.
It’s a journey from Farrell’s complex childhood (Orphanages, Foster Homes, Sisters of Mercy, Child Abuse) Told with humor from the evolving point of view of the narrator pt 2 covers the mid-to-late ’60s through to the mid-to-late ’70s. Farrell’s inspiriting aim was to finally tell all the stories that were never to be spoken about. BE ADVISED: Candid discussion of sex which might suggest NSFW – (just in case)
“I started out as a dirty secret – now, I’m just dirty”
Farrell could have subtitled this clip: “Seduction among the Seminarians.”
At 12 Farrell discovered that sex could actually be fun! This clip traces the emergence of his Gay side and the activist imagination he adopts as he reinvents himself (again) upon entering college.
Without a doubt, my participation with Jonathan and Geraldine in The Everyman Company 40-odd years ago now was absolutely critical to my entire future. Jonathan’s ethos lay in his ability to transform text into powerful visual moments and in his shameless lack of condescension in fashioning a people’s theater whose like hadn’t been seen in the USA.
In all respects my subsequent work in the theater was completely the result of my continuing to work out the lessons learned in those hyper-active days.
So, I’ve decided to launch a Facebook community for The Everyman Company which I hope will draw out some of the alumni. A bit of an oral history would be great to start collecting.
Here are a pair of stills from Carte Blanche in rehearsal on Friday. (Produced by The O’Neill Film and Theater Foundation) The young German lads are played by Danny Erickson, Michael Czyz, Gavin Rohrer and Tim Haber. In the group shot we see the author, Sophia Romma to the right. In the other shot we see Cam Kornman as Blanche beginning her ascent (maybe) to the heavens. A whirlwind week from the first reading last Monday through to the opening on Saturday as part of The Midtown International Theatre Festival. I am confident our action packed fantasia won first prize. (Not pictured but also outstanding in the cast, Walter Krochmal and the extraordinary pianist, Manana.) Oh, yeah, I was the director.
(Nice comment from the author on Facebook: “You are the greatest director, ever!” I am not going to argue with that.)
Farewell, Manahatta! From now on I’m going to work where I can walk. And I can walk, in fact, I can run to the BRIC Arts Media Center – it’s that good. Can I say that it looks like the first (and only) Arts Institution in the Metropolitan Area that truly feels “21st Century”
Some years ago I became something of an expert about the secretive milieu of the Dublin underworld. For over a year I tried to get some of my findings published or on-air and kept hitting a stone wall. No one wanted to touch any of the different exposes I wanted to run with. Finally, (especially after Veronica Guerin was killed) I decided to write a novel: part fiction, part roman-au-clef. Since I knew that I would be revealing a lot of stuff no one in Ireland wanted to hear I turned it into a first person novel about obsessional love. A kind of misdirection but a way that would allow for some terrible truths to be told while seemingly putting myself most at risk. The central conceit was fictional but the truths told and the powerful figures exposed (albeit under pseudonyms) were very real.
The eponymous hero of the book, The Buzzer, was based on a real person and years ago when I read some of it to him he cried and begged me not to publish it. I am still not publishing it but I have been persuaded to leak some of it in audio – Here then is the opening section: (click the play button to start)
The Buzzer, Prologue (added 20 February, 2015)
The Buzzer, Chapter 1, pt 1 (added 26 February, 2015)
The Buzzer, Chapter 1, pt 2 (added 25 March, 2015)
The Buzzer, Chapter 1, pt 3 (added 17 April, 2015)
I think the confessional tone works pretty well. With the above excerpts (Chapter One), the Narrator relates how they met and, how, over the following six months he had become sexually obsessed with the young man. (Lots of sex here – be careful.)
Ever since I first encountered Joseph Cornell back in the ’70s I have found myself deeply responsive to his legendary boxes but never really gave much thought as to why. Perhaps it was their modest claim to my attention: in never demanding to be surrendered too (and let’s be honest, lots of New York Art strutted around like either a macho top or a bossy-bottom) Cornell’s boxes possessed a unique and understated beauty whose shyness seemed a breath of fresh air.
Recently, Michelle Beshaw gifted me a copy of Deborah Solomon’s wonderful biography of Cornell, Utopia Parkway, (Order here) which I can be seen reading here –
Okay, I’m actually asleep in this picture but that’s only because I couldn’t put the book down.
Despite being linked at various stages of his career to either the surrealists, the New Romantics and even the Abstract Expressionists he never fully shares their concerns –
The Surrealists were always measuring the epistemological limits of rationality; their absurdism rooted in intellectual punning and pranksterism. The abstract expressionists were determined to make painting an extension of visceral feeling. But reading this book and thinking more about the specific effects the works produced in me made me realise that what Cornell does is give form to the profoundly enigmatic workings of memory. He is not trying to be ironic. He is not trying to provoke a gut response. He is trying to embody the elusive membranes by which all of us are linked to a past which is ever present; the elliptical allusions and connections, unique to each of us, out of which our own evasive identities emerge.
I Love the Poetry Brothel's events! Here I am at their annual Masquerade Ball on Sunday past (26 October) (The music, from the wonderful Hot Club of Flatbush was recorded live at the event)
In two weeks they will be bringing their delightful mix of music, burlesque and poetry to Paris where I hope ALL my Parisian friends will make a point of dropping in. It’s free admission but you will need to book in advance (here) to ensure a spot!
Your hosts are seen here: Tennessee Pink (Nicholas) and The Madam (Stephanie)
They just got a great write-up in The Guardian which you can read here:
Poetry Brothel puts the bawd in bard
A party where you pay to have verse read to you in a bordello-style setting is packing in the punters. Are poetry and sex work really comparable?
I am in the back room of the Backroom cocktail bar in New York, reclining on a fur-covered day bed. Next to me is a woman. She wears a leather corset and harem pants, like a gypsy girl from a fairytale. She is barefoot. In the dim candlelight, she asks what I’m in the mood for – something sexy? Something dark? I tell her what will please me, and she reads me a poem. (more here!)
Of course, Walt Whitman has had the pleasure of performing there – so, if you go, be sure and tell “Tennessee” or “The Madam” that Walt sent you!