Sunday, February 06, 2005

On Love, David Cale,...and the Long Line

How often we find ourselves separated from our friends and family and yet, thanks to the "Long Line" of the telephone, we can still connect.

I had the enormous pleasure tonight of making "love" connections with two of my most favorite men. The first called from an incredibly raucous-sounding bar in Europe. While it was very difficult to hear every little thing he was saying to me, it was ever so much more important just to hear the lovely and beautiful sound of his voice. I knew, kind of by osmosis, that he was in the throes of elation, but also, exhaustion. And yet, he still made that extra effort to reach out and share his happiness with me. He is an angel.

My second call came a few hours later. My best friend, Jim, from Pittsburgh, was calling. He informed me that he had just seen our favorite performance artist, David Cale, at the Warhol. The first time I ever saw David perform was in a Bette Midler HBO cable special called "Mondo Beyondo". According to the Rotten Tomatoes site: "In this spoof of a television talk show, Midler portrays the Italian bombshell hostess, Mondo Beyondo. Her guests include monologuist David Cale; Bill Irwin, mime, comedian and clown; and the bizarre Kipper Kids." Apparently the Rotten Tomatoes' writer was unaware of Bette's relationship to Martin von Haselberg, who plays Harry Kipper of the Kipper Kids. They met in 1983, but he lost her phone number. They met again and started dating in 1984, and were married by an Elvis impersonator at the Candlelight Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas later that year. They're still happily married.

As a lyricist for The Jazz Passengers and composer Roy Nathanson, Cale's songs have been recorded by artists including Deborah Harry and performed in concert by Elvis Costello. His songs have been featured on the soundtracks of Suzan Pitt's animated film Joy Street and Robert Altman’s Short Cuts. He wrote and narrated the text for the dance “Chickens,” performed by Mikhail Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project.

The Warhol's program was called David Cale presents A Likely Story. Acclaimed as one of the leading solo performers in America, OBIE-award winner Cale has written and performed over half a dozen solo shows, has acted in ensemble pieces on and off Broadway, and has appeared in feature films including Pollock and Woody Allen’s Radio Days. In his tragically funny new show, all hell breaks loose as a married woman considers making Viagra brownies to seduce her neighbor, a wife’s poodle obsession gets out of hand, and two straight actors who loathe each other are cast as gay lovers in a TV movie.

Jim said it was a sold out house. He also said that there's something that really touches him about Cale's work. I know what he means. Somehow, no matter how many characters Cale seems to inhabit, they all share a certain special quality. Unlike Eric Bogosian, another fascinating and strong monologuist, who seems to be ready to fall off the edge of sanity at times, Cale seems to transfer the dignity and human-ness to the audience in his performances. Where Bogosian is hard and brutal, Cale is soft and quiet. But still, the calm within the eye of the storm...

Baby It's You
by David Cale (from Smooch Music)

I woke up with a strange taste in my mouth.
It was you.
While you were asleep
I used your shampoo.
It made me smell just like you.
While you were asleep
I went through your clothes.
I stole your T-shirt.
Wore it to work.
The people there were saying,

"Where did you get that T-shirt?
It really isn't you."

And I said,

"Yes it is."

But that wasn't true.
It wasn't me.
It was you.
While you were asleep
I had breakfast with my friend.
We got into an argument
and he said,

"Where did you get that attitude?"

I said it was new.
It wasn't new.
It was you.
Baby, it's you.
Baby, it's you.
If I had back-up singers they'd be going,

"Baby, it's you.
Baby, it's you."

But I don't.
Baby, it's you.
"Here I go again.
I hear those trumpets blow.
I'm all aglow.
Taking a chance on love.
Taking a chance on love.
Taking a chance on love."

- listen to David Cale's 4th radioplay written for NPR's The Next Big Thing. Starring Steve Buscemi.

And click here to listen to an MP3 file of David reading an excerpt from his performance piece, Smooch Music from the CD, The Uproar Tapes, Volume 1, Antilles Records AN7084 (1986) . From UbuWeb Sound.