Cover to Cover with Jack Foley & Nina Serrano

Cover to Cover with Jack Foley & Nina Serrano – July 3, 2019

Wikipedia: The name WEDNESDAY continues Middle English WednesdeiOld English still had wōdnesdæg, which would be continued as Wodnesday (but Old Frisian has an attested wednesdei)…The name is a calque [a word or phrase borrowed from another language] of the Latin dies Mercurii “day of Mercury,” reflecting the fact that the Germanic god Woden (Wodanaz or Odin) during the Roman era was interpreted as “Germanic Mercury.”

A first Wednesday—Odin’s or Mercury’s Day—is still another excuse for the highly mercurial team of Serrano and Foley to vaudevillize the airways. Nina and Jack will have many a thing to offer, including music by the multi-talented Tony Perez with his Peace and Rhythm Orchestra and the broadcasting of a remarkable, career-summing-up speech by the composer, lyricist, playwright, actor, Yankee Doodle Dandy George M. Cohan (1878-1942), who was, as he accurately says in the song, “born on the fourth of July.” The speech was delivered in 1938 to the Catholic Actor’s Guild and includes Cohan’s recitation of a passage from his play, The Tavern (1920):

 

“I don’t know who I am and if I did I’d be the most miserable man on earth, for my greatest happiness lies in the fact that I occupy a most unique position—that of not having been cast for a part in the great world drama of life. (Slight pause) I am a lonely, single-handed spectator sitting back looking on and laughing at the monkey-shines of the great all-star company of several billions of men and women who are unknowingly playing the piece for me—they’re playing the piece for me. I am the audience, but a good audience, withal, for I laugh— I am the audience, and if I may say so, a highly intellectual audience, for in all the changing scenes of this ever-beginning, never-ending plotless plot, I recognize the spiritual hand of a great director, a master director, who has so skillfully staged this tightly woven, disconnected, tightly knitted spectacle of tragic nonsense, and so I am amused, and I laugh, and I applaud. (Applauds) And if I’m any critic, it’s a bully good show, and I hope some day to meet the author, and compliment him upon his marvelous entertainment. Alas, I have no one with whom I may discuss the merits of the play, for all the rest are on the stage. I’m sitting out in front, alone, all alone.”

 

Jack comments: It is hardly strange that a man who spent his whole life in the theater should finally come to regard theater itself as life. In the end, Cohan is not even a performer: only a member of the audience, someone whose lone perceptions are shared by no one. Cohan the great performer finally becomes Cohan the critic, a person who has no audience whatsoever—no one to whom he can tell the life secrets he has learned. His is a position of pure theatricality, an affirmation of the essential nothingness of life, though Cohan does assert the existence of a “master director.” His “strong creative drive,” remarked James Cagney, “gave him no rest.” Near the conclusion of Cohan’s play, Pigeons and People (1933), his leading character asks, “Why should I permit life to make a fool out of me?…That’s what’s the matter with life, Doc. It’s had too much of its own way. Somebody’s got to give it a battle. Why not I?”

 

A new poem by Nina:

 

SUMMER SOLSTICE 2019

(For Susan Sherrell)

 

Susan summons summer

Soaring

Scanning the shore

Leaping into lakes

Just thawed

Swimming away shoes and all

Her celebration was the icing on the cake

Coming in these last lengthening days

Our party songs calling in migrating ducks and geese

Soon summer days will ever so slowly shorten

Yet they will feel luxuriantly long

Till one day it will start darkening before dinner

But not now—

Now—the gardens overflow with joyous color

Clothes rejoice in the season

Earrings dangle like chimes in the sea breeze

Oh Susan

You unleashed so much pleasure

For a community

 

And from Jack:

 

I received a Facebook message about cancer and the instruction to pass it along “to support those afflicted by cancer.” I answered:

 

THANK YOU for this. I went through Adelle’s death as she finally succumbed to stomach cancer. It was horrible to see her suffer, though there were moments of tenderness and love. I would have done anything to save her. I would have given my life for hers. But there was nothing I could do. I won’t copy or paste a message written I take it by someone other than you. But these are my words and a reminder of what I went through—nothing at all compared to what she went through. Neither of us believed in life after death. I wanted to die when she died, but life finally wins in the end—partially. At any rate, life continues. I didn’t die and, to my surprise, I found that I could love again. I survived the death she had to die.

 

YAHRZEIT June 27, 2019

for Adelle (August 15, 1940-June 27, 2016)

 

Three years,

And much has changed

Though much remains the same.

Life rouses us, strikes us down.

Whenever I move what was “your car”

To the other side of the street

To make room for street cleaning

I remember the moment three years ago

When I went to return it

And you said, “I can do it,”

And you did. 2016.

It was the last time you drove the car.

Other memories as well—many.

Neither of us believed

In an afterlife:

This world was all

Life rouses us, strikes us down.

But I can imagine you

Or your soul

Traveling through spacetime

Perhaps returning

As Sangye believes people do.

How much I wished

To be haunted by you

But it never happened.

Thought I’d be the one

To play the death scene;

Now I’m collecting tchotchkes,

Testimonials to my “great career.”

Life rouses us.

I told the good acupuncturist,

The marvelous Dr. Alex Feng,

That I wanted to die when you died,

I didn’t know what to do.

He answered, “Live!”

Which is what I have done.

My love for Sangye

Brought me back

From the limbo of grief into which I had descended.

I am even making drawings

As I did when I was fifteen

And then again, briefly, at thirty.

This is, in Whitman’s phrase,

“Death’s outlet song of Life,”

And I have taken him as my great predecessor.

There is no world other than this one.

If you hear these notes, my dear first love,

Be glad:

They tell of love,

And I learned loving from you.

There is no world other than this.

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