Recently my dad and I attended a benefit concert in Brooklyn for a local theatre (spelled, pretentiously, "theatre" and never "theater". It's much more Dickensian-more Shakespearean-more Peter O'Tooleian. Need I say more?). The theme of the night was "Hal Willner's Stay Awake Live". To my feeble mind, the only images I can conjure up, based on the title, are of red-eyed musical theatre junkies swilling espressos in the vain attempt to remain conscious. How wrong I was.
Apparently "Stay Awake Live" was this huge album in the 80's or something where contemporary musicians and other celebrities re-recorded Walt Disney songs. This one woman I met (who reminded me of a drunken Joan Cusack) continually repeated how she used to cry and cry while listening to the album, especially the song from Bambi. Thinking back, I am not really sure I have even even seen Bambi, or Dumbo, or other one-word titled cultural masterworks. I have images in my head from it, like Bambi's mom getting shot, but over time I think that I have made it a much more gruesome scene in my imagination. There's Charlton Heston (RIP), stalking his prey down-wind, with a 30.06 in his calloused hands, a German Luger at his hip, and a Bowie knife between his teeth... just in case. Striped down to his American flag knickers, he puts snow in his mouth to hide his breath, stares down his iron sights, tracks the foraging beast before him, and between heart beats...
I'm pretty sure it was nothing like that. I digress.
So we show up to this Berlin-esque warehouse-turned theatre. Beautiful men and women with perfectly crafted messy hair serve glasses of wine to willing patrons and sporadic tables filled with every trendy snack imaginable (carrots, pita chips, hummus, assorted cheeses, etc.) litter the reception space. Pops and I partake in the red. Most go for the white. I think that's because the red might stain their teeth. I don't know, I feel like if you drink it a certain way, that doesn't normally happen. Or maybe they just like the look of a glass of wine but not the taste. No matter. The room fills, the lights begin to flicker, and the show starts. First person out on stage:
Like, the David Byrne.
For those of you not up on your post-punk-"80's rock is unappreciated-Ian Curtis is God-Duran Duran Changed My Life, instead I Rock to Rachmaninov", losers... David Byrne was the lead singer/creative genius behind The Talking Heads. Or so they tell me.
With a shock of white hair and sporting a white tuxedo, the man himself comes out on stage and is full of charisma and charm. He breaks out into the Cinderella tune "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes". It's wonderful. He's full of emotion, in that Byrnesian throaty voice. Very nice.
At this point, both Dad and I were feeling the full effects of the vine, making wise cracks at the performers and our fellow attendees. It was father-son bonding at its best.
Other highlights included Steve Buscemi coming out and sing-speaking "Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho" in a kind of Mike Myers from "So I Married An Ax Murderer" beat poetry style. That's ok, because, hey, Mr. Pink doesn't really shout out Musical Theatre to me. He can get away with it.
The night continues, we schmooze with the locals, eat salmon salad, fine cuts of steak, and wild rice, etc. Then, the man sitting next to me points out a living (read: barely living) legend who is in the crowd today.
Yes, Lou Reed. Velvet Underground. and uh... Lou Reed.
I thought the dude was going to croak right there. He is maybe 4 feet tall, wearing a bright orange hoodie (I guess he was trying to be inconspicuous), and shuffling about like an aging Igor (that's Frankenstein's assistant, not Stravinsky... although the visual of an aged Stravinsky is pretty close to what I'm trying to get at). The man is a legend. He changed modern music. He made "noise" cool. Andy Warhol produced one of his albums for christsake! But dude, he looks old and kind of imp-y. I wanted to say something to him, but chickened out. What could I say? "Hey Mr. Reed! No relation. Hahaha! Get it? My last name is Reed too! ha. Nevermind. Uh, I liked that time, forty years ago, when you were with the Velvet Underground. That was awesome. Umm, I'm not really sure what you've done since then, but I'm sure it was pretty important. Have a great night!" Nah, let the dude enjoy his meal. The last thing he needed was some smart ass 20-something claiming to know all about his influence on music and not really knowing a damn thing.
And that was the end of the night. Good times. I'm off to try and find a job and make a small contribution to society!