The show begins with a naked man emerging from behind the curtain and taking a seat at a piano. The moment was Pythonesque in the sense that seeing a naked man at a piano reminded me of the similar Monty Python bit. I didn't look up from my notepad quickly enough, though, to see if it was Pythonesque in any other sense.
After the pianist was seated and the music began, the cast emerged. Like the title says, the men were naked and singing. There was also a good bit of dancing. It's not West Side Story or anything, but the men were all handsome and graceful as they darted around one another. The songs were mostly playful odes to sex, love, lust and nudity. Of the specifically penis-themed songs, "The Bliss of a Bris" was my favorite. I particularly enjoyed the moment where the proud parents of the newly circumcised boy posed with their faces next to the family jewels.
In addition to the actual enjoyment of song and dance, the play provided me, a straight man, with a rare opportunity to examine nude men up close in a socially acceptable, safe environment. I've seen naked men before at the gym, but you can't really stare there without earning yourself a black eye, or, at my L.A. Fitness branch, a date. So what did I learn? Well, assuming that the six men onstage are a representative sample, I learned that most men do in fact fall into a narrow size-range, at least when they're at rest. Only one of the men was obviously larger than the others. I wonder if this play helps his social life. Anyway, you'll have to see the play yourself to discover who.
My only complaint about the play was the cast's lack of diversity. There wasn't a single uncircumcised penis on the stage. You'd figure that gay men, so often discriminated against, would be more sensitive.
Kegger: I should know better by now, but I have to admit that I was really looking forward to seeing the Clarks at the Cotton Club on Saturday night because they're signed to a label called Razor & Tie. Razor & Tie put out one of my all-time favorite CDs, It's Raining Today: The Scott Walker Story. In addition, they put out left-field reissue gems like the Fistful of Dollars soundtrack and Christmas with Chet Atkins. If the Clarks are on Razor & Tie, how bad can they be, right?
The answer: very bad. They play lame frat-boy rock pitched somewhere between Hootie & the Blowfish and the Spin Doctors. That crap sucked in 1995 when it was popular, and it still sucks now. When the hunky singer wasn't mugging for my camera and the lead guitarist wasn't contorting his face into every guitarded expression he could conjure, they were doing Jager shots. JAGER SHOTS! I didn't check the merchandise table, but I wouldn't be shocked if they were selling beer funnels alongside the T-shirts. Atrocious.
Much better was the headliner, Fastball. The Austin rockers who had a hit in '98 with "The Way" are a super-tight rock band that can veer from hard rock to power pop to country with grace and ease. They're also vastly more likable onstage. When one of them joked that they'd come all the way "from Austin to rock and roll," it occurred to me that one of the main differences between Fastball and the Clarks is that if one of the Clarks had uttered that line, he wouldn't have been kidding. Fastball was inspired, original and clever. Apparently, those are bad things. Half the audience emptied out after the Clarks played. Atrocious times two.
Who's buried in Grant Park?: Last weekend, the Beau Bridges of Atlanta parks, Grant Park, was the site of the cute little Grant Park Summer Shade Festival. Sure, it wasn't as big budget and flashy as Piedmont Park (Jeff to Grant Park's Beau) typically offers, but it was unique and charming. Instead of tent after tent of bad art, Summer Shade offered an interesting mix of jewelry, apparel and a good selection of cute handbags. Did I just write the words "cute handbags"? What's happening to me?
The festival also hosted several bike races, of which I watched two. The children's race was won handily by an elementary school-aged girl. She wasn't nearly as much fun to watch, though, as the non-winners (it's not PC to call kids losers, you know). My favorite was the kid who, reduced to tears for some unknown reason, slammed his helmet on the pavement and yelled, "I wanna go home now," at his dad. To his credit, Dad remained poker-faced.
Hidden art: The steady hemorrhaging of great young Atlanta artists to either New York or L.A. continues. The latest is L.A.-bound Yun Bai. To mark her departure, she had a final show for herself in a friend's space at the Candler-Smith Warehouses in the West End. The bulk of the display was Bai's multipart Cellnoid series -- white background decorated with brightly colored dots, lines and animal stickers. It sounds banal the way I'm describing it, but through her careful placement of shapes and mixing of colors, she conjures a moving world that's half-magnified cellular life, half-Ren & Stimpy surrealism.
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