When you meet a stranger, thefirst thing they often ask is “What do you do for a living?” When I reply, “I write about arts and culture,” the usual response is “What do you do all day?” So, with deepest apologies to the memory of John Lennon, I present “A Day in the Life ... of a Culture Columnist”:
Dec. 10, 2010
My alarm clock goes off at its usual time. Thank god today is Saturday, and I get to snooze for an extra 30 minutes before leaving for work.
Crap! Today is Friday, not Saturday! Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head, etc.
Curtain time for the 30th performance of Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, for which I serve as stage manager. That means I sit on a stool in the back of the Orlando Repertory Theatre whispering “standby” and “go” into a microphone, while an audience of 303 first graders lose their collective minds. In case you don’t have a 6-year-old in your life, author Barbara Park’s Junie B. Jones is the Ramona Quimby of today’s early-reader set. Judging by the grammatically challenged thank-you notes they leave us, the kids’ favorite parts of the show are the screaming, fighting and burping. Hey, it pays the mortgage (well, the Netflix subscription at least), and working with this cast – featuring Beth Neel, Sarah Jane Fridlich and Michael Marinaccio – makes our six-day-a-week schedule sail by. As an added bonus, during preshow and intermission I get to hear campy caroling curiosities like “What Can You Get a Wookie for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)?” over and over again.
A few minutes after curtain call, I’m dashing out the door (with deepest thanks to my assistant Adrienne Forsythe for tackling our show’s daily truckload of dirty laundry) and driving down Fairbanks Avenue to Rollins College. My destination is the basement of the Student Resource building, home to radio station WPRK-FM (91.5). By some miracle I find a vacant legal parking spot on campus and sprint to the station just in time for host Jeremy Seghers to introduce me on “Out and About.” You might know Seghers as an art curator, cover-song singer, stage director or co-host of “Front Porch Radio” with Julie Norris; his weekly noontime show is the best broadcast about Orlando’s art and theater scene since Scottie Campbell’s late “Life in Stages.” We chat for half an hour about artistic collaboration and pornography-inspired performance, and he lets me plug my latest theme-park guidebook. If everyone in the listening audience buys 100 copies, I might actually crack the top 4,000 on Amazon. Possibly.
Time to take a conference call with noted Disney blogger Len Testa about a book we’ll be collaborating on next year. We’re supposed to be discussing reader-survey methodology, statistical sampling and online database maintenance. Of course, since we’re both theme-park geeks, the conversation eventually devolves into a debate over the artistic merits (or lack thereof) of Disney California Adventure’s World of Color show, and the general suckiness of Anaheim’s Tower of Terror in comparison to Orlando’s ride.
Damn you, I-4! I’m supposed to be attending the Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs holiday party. I wanted to meet Ray Gargano, the new director of the arts education center. But the traffic gods have other ideas. There’s no way I’m making the party in time, so I might as well head to Shari in Thornton Park for some happy-hour sushi and sake.
Seafood-stuffed, I slide next door to Urban ReThink, the new multi-purpose nonprofit space that Jana Waring and Ryan Price are building from the ashes of the former Urban Think bookstore. Tonight is the premiere of Macabre Vignettes 3: Snow, an icily entrancing dance/puppetry/art experiment crafted by the impossibly creative Marke sisters. Among the 50-odd people in attendance are Pinocchio Marionette Theater’s Sean Keohane, IBEX Puppetry’s Vandy Wood, writer Michael J. Freeman and artist Thomas Thorspecken (who sketches the scene from the second-story balcony rail). I named the 2009 edition of Tamara Marke-Lares’ and Leah Marke’s installation experience among my favorite shows of the year. But since my wife was involved in the 2010 version, it would be totally unethical for me to tell you how astoundingly exquisite it was.
Final stop tonight is Taste for an art opening/funk concert/holiday party hosted by Frankie Messina of Apartment E and Jessica Pawli. The multi-faceted format has pulled a dizzyingly diverse crowd, and there are cheap beers on offer, but I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open.
Home to bed before it begins all over again. Thank god today is Saturday, and I get to snooze for an extra 30 minutes before leaving for work ...