Thursday, April 28, 2005

The End of the Road

It’s not just a phrase, it’s the truth. We drove there yesterday afternoon before tech rehearsal started. Since the town is water and mountain-bound, you can’t drive too far in any direction without swimming or flying. No roads in or out. So we followed the main drag south for forty-five minutes, through mountains and construction sites where the municipal government is still trying to make the cliff-side carvings safe for vehicle passage. We drove past a sign that read:

“TRAVEL BEYOND THIS POINT IS NOT RECOMMENDED.”

Isn’t that great? I love how simple and polite it is. The Juneau government can’t technically forbid the pioneer spirit, but they can issue vague recommendations that you turn back to the city at the first sign of falling rocks.

“IT WOULD BE MOST ACCOMMODATING OF YOU TO TURN AROUND NOW.”

So we found a lovely little oasis at the end of the road. The path curved down to the water where a handful of people were camping and boating. A rocky beach lapped up against the channel. And, finally, it was windy. Windy enough to whip out the Ventura HP stunt kite for a quick dive around the sky. I love this thing. And not in a nostalgic, Peter-Pan, quarter-life-regression sort of way.

“WOULD YOU KINDLY CONSIDER ANOTHER ROUTE FOR YOUR TRAVELS TODAY?”

So at long last, the kite flew. It’s not that large, but it has a double-harness gizmo on the frame with two guide-lines so you can gently tug it into dive-bombing at 45mph or simply let it hover on its side, two feet above the water, motionless. It’s not that hard to learn, either. It’s on a par with making quiche or oral sex.

“MIGHT WE SUGGEST YOU VISIT THE GLACIER INSTEAD? WE HEAR IT’S A LIFE-ALTERING EXPERIENCE.”

And there’s the zen angle and the isn’t-it-just-like-sex angle. But when I take the kite out for a spin, I think back to Kerouac’s description of his friend the parking-lot attendant in action. You’re driving a creature. Because you need equidistant strings for both your left and right guide-lines, you have to extend the line to its fullest before takeoff -- no gentle strolls a few feet above your head when the wind is low. No, it’s all or nothing with this bird. So when the air obliges, all it takes is a quick yank upright and she bolts seventy five feet above your head in about three seconds.

“SERIOUSLY. THE MAN WHO PLANTED THIS SIGN WAS EATEN BY TWO EMACIATED MOOSE.”

As if the sight could get any better. I’m not doing a good job of describing the mountains and the air, so try to imagine … well … more of them. With 72 degrees of sun to make sure you don’t miss a single snow-cap or island. My filming has tapered off in the past couple days because there’s only so many ways you can shoot a mountain with 800x digital zoom. So I’m going to start interviewing the locals. Two have already slipped past my wily lens and I’ll be damned if I don’t have the camera the next time a fat curmudgeonly boat engineer (named Bob) decides to tell me about his three-day fuckfest with “some crazy woman who just wouldn’t quit.”

“MOOSE, I TELL YOU!”

Tech has been lurching on. I didn’t realize how complicated a sound design could be -- all due respect to the wizard Marty Desjardin who hooked us up the first time. Perseverance had to buy new faders and dimmer packs and computer consoles to accommodate the hundreds of cues and cross-fades it took to do the show. Which is a good investment for them, but makes for lots of downtime backstage. I’ve been reading Life of Pi, at Kimberly’s insistence. Will move on to Carter Beats the Devil after that. And somewhere between the two, I need to dig into Equus again since we might slap together a two-week summer run of that before I leave.

You know, for the tourists. They’d dig that. Light, summer fare.

Why this sudden frenzy? Because Curious Theatre in Denver is really living down their namesake by sticking to tame certified off-Broadway hits instead of loading in for our show. We got the official word the other day and even after PJ offered them the rights, the design, and eight wound-up actors ready-to-go for a guaranteed hit … AND raised $7k in three days to patch over the other costs … the management at Curious is still sheepish. That was the brass ring for us. A Denver production before we loose our hair. Now the Denver Theatre Center (which is much bigger) might team up with the New York Theatre Workshop next season, but … that’s one year, two re-writes, and five commercial theatre producers from now. So who knows where we’ll be.

In the meantime, I’m still drinking up the days on the wharf and getting gobs of writing done on the side. The key to budgeting yourself in an over-priced tourist town is to avoid drinking for recreation. The alcohol here is weak, overpriced, and unsavory. Like Edward Albee’s writing. Ha ha! No, fill in the blank.

4 comments:

yvette said...

men with kite flying, quiche making AND oral sex capabilites?!?! if you find any of these karl, feel free to pass along my phone number.

yerMom said...

Thank you for sharing your musings, Karl. I feel like a soaring kite to read your prose.

p.s. do you have enough clean socks??

East Coast Alaskan Girl, Retired said...

i love that your mom is like my mom and has concerns about clean clothing.

she'd probably be horrified to know that i am recycling the same white long sleeve shirt from yesterday.....

HOORAY FOR FREAKIN' TECH.

LuckySpinster said...

um, are you flying a kite or are YOU flying, attached to a kite--like hang-gliding? i'm curious. 'cause it SOUNDS like YOU'RE actually in the air. i guess i just can't imagine that standing on the ground and flying a kite could be THAT exciting. but then again, my only prior kite experience ended in a tangly mess at age seven and i've never gone near one since.

nice blog.