When I studied Shakespeare I was taught very simply that a play was a tragedy if it ends in death and a comedy if it ends in a wedding. We shall see what happens with this work in progress. This list has about 136 characters; I’m not sure if I am going to annotate the list, identify the people, or indeed write a theatrical treatment that depicts their role in the actual drama. A small number of people appear merely as ghosts, or muses, or they haven’t returned phone calls yet. Some have put more energy into this than others, for instance Karen Holman has talked to me on the phone while so far Larry Klein would literally not give me time of day; I said “Have you read my letter to council about the Varsity Theatre?” and he said “Yes, but I have to get to an appointment, at 10 o’clock” and walked away; it was 9:45 a.m. and we were standing across the street from his office. Well, he gave me time of day, but not the correct time. He pretended he was late.
I thought of writing a semi-fictionalized version of this set in 1985, in the heyday of the Varsity, with Michael Alden Hedges (1953-1997) dreaming the future, like in that TV drama about a hospital in Baltimore, but have already been accused of being too fancy. But it’s also true that covering the sad truths with fictional veneers might make some of the more gruesome details more palatable to the accused.
For know just think of this as a list, maybe a resource. I will probably add notes later. But keep in mind that although I was trained as a journalist (with the Peninsula Times Tribune for example, in winter of 1984), this is not journalism per se. This is more like poetry than fact, for example, but in some ways it is probably truer than what is being printed in some of the local real estate rags. If I speak in public, at council, at commissions, and directly to these people, in the real world, I am pretty darn truthful. But I am warning you here that I take poetic license as a blog (and am indebted to David Shields) about having no illusions about truth.
THE LAST PICTURE WALTZ
Melissa Baten Caswell
Jon, Marjorie and Maya Ford
Charles “Chop” Keenan
John S. “Jack” Martin
Harvey and Claire Mitler
Brian E. Moore
Gary Lee Parks
Ryan Thomas Riddle
Dr. Nancy Tuma
Tuck and Patty
Gregory A. Zlotnick
Who’d have thought that trust could be bought for a song and a little chat? Or as the lovely D’Andre Aziza says:
We’ll be adding parts and re-arranging lines for a few more weeks yet, so if you want to play a role in “The Last Picture Waltz” you can speak to Council or Commissions a couple more times this week. See the City website for times and places.
edit to add, Wednesday, September 7, 2011: I spoke this morning to the Palo Alto Historic Resources commission, about The Varsity, but also about Nathan Oliveira at 209 Hamilton, and Al Young at The Nevada Building. After the meeting I chatted with commissioner Beth Bunnenberg. She told me that she liked the name The Last Picture Waltz because she was from Wichita Falls, Texas, near where Larry McMurtry’s book takes place. I neglected to ask if, on top of that, she was a lineman for the county.