Monday, September 29, 2008


Today is the feast day of my patron saint: Saint Michael, the archangel. It is also the feast day of Saint Gabriel of "Annunciation" fame and the archangel Raphael. John Nugent and i have written a Broadway bound musical featuring the two angels as the saviour of a group of Dominican nuns. I am sure my dear patron saint has a great sense of humor. There are some interesting facts about. Michael. The good angel was the voice of "The Burning Bush" in the Moses story and one of the angels who secretly buried him. To this day no one knows where Moses is buried. He is also the patron saint of policemen, emergency workers of any kind and the country of Germany. He was the angel who saved Isaac -- Abraham's son and who begged God to preserve the temple at Jerusalem. He is regarded in all religions in a very high and astute fashion. Of course the Mormons teach that Michael was actually Adam and that Gabriel was actually Noah. Strange. Oh well, different strokes, for different folks.The archangel is also attributed as the one who showed Joseph the way to Egypt, the one who prevented Queen Vashti from appearing naked before King Ahasuerus and his guests, and as we said before one of the angels who buried Moses. In Talmud Yoma 77a, however, it is stated that Gabriel once fell into disgrace "for not obeying a command exactly as given, being quoted as saying:"I remained for a while outside the heavenly Curtain." During this 21 day period, the guardian angel of Persia, Dobiel, acted as Gabriel's proxy.The Talmud describes the Angel Gabriel as the only angel who can speak Syriac and Chaldee. Gabriel is also, according to Judaism, the voice that told Noah to gather the animals before the great flood and the invisible force that wrestled with Jacob Gabriel is famous for making the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary.In the Gospel of Luke, Gabriel reveals to the Jewish Pharisee and Priest Zechariah that John the Baptist will be born to Zechariah's wife Elizabeth(Luke 1:5-20) Gabriel's annunciation to Mary has been one of the most frequent subjects of Christian art in general, and a key element in Roman Catholic Marian art. The scene has been depicted by masters such as Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo de Vinci, Caravaggio, Duccio and Murillo, among others. Also one should know that according to later legend, he is also the unidentified angel in the Book of Revelation (the Apocalypse of John) who blows the final trumpet announcing Judgment Day Revelation 11:15. Of course both angels also appear in the first musical that John Nugent and i have written called "SEVENLY". I really hope that both had a great sense of humor with that one. I am also going into the insurance field or at least exploring the possibilities: more on that as time passes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Yes, indeed, Hip, Hip, Hurray, Hurray today is my 61st birthday. I have now lived longer than my father (1966) , my grandmother (1952) and grandfather on my Mother's side, both grandparents on my father's side and have matched my mother's age of 61 (she passed in 1974) That of course is a bit disconcerting, but I will get through it. Today would also would have been Jim Henson's 78th birthday and F. Scott Fitzgerald's 90th birthday. The great novelist died at age forty-six. And Jim Henson left us in 1990 at age 60-- there's that number again. John Nugent and John Long and I will be going out for lunch today and Mr. Nugent and I will be going to see "Rent"-- the filmed version of the Broadway play. Work on "The Runaway Heart" and "Broadway Angels" is almost finished and I am still putting finishing touches to "The Brothers Laughter" and "The Wild Swans". I have never written this much in all of my life, so that pleases me. I received birthday greetings from two of my sisters so far and birthday accolades from dear Tony Westbrook, and my former employee Andrew Arohnson now attending school at Columbia University. Andrew's dad of course is Lee Arohnson who has created two of the funniest shows on television "Two and a Half Men" and "Big Bang Theory". All hopes are resting on Vermont and the Barter Theatre. I am still unemployed, but I have decided to go after my real estate license and my securities certificate. The company I am joining pays for three licenses and the training and has no quotas. Well, I thank God for all of His many blessings. These include my brilliant collaborator John Nugent, my dearest friend Timothy Doran and my life partner John Long. I have a great cat named Simon, my health is still okay and I'm writing more than i ever have written in my life. I love the freedom being out of work has given but sure wish i had done some saving--oh well. Thank you, Dear God, for all of your help and a big thank you to all of the performers who have given their talents to our recording sessions especially Westbrook & Snyder, Bill Lewis, and Karmyn Tyler. Plus Molly Summer, Brian Martin and Paul Hovannes. And Tim Doran, you are so appreciated my friend- you are sixteen hundred birthday presents all rolled into one. well, let the birthday begin!

Monday, September 22, 2008


On this date in 1964, one of the greatest musicals of all time opened at the Imperial Theatre in 1964 and remained on Broadway (although it changed theatres for over three thousand performances. Fiddler on the Roof was originally entitled Tevye. It is based on Tevye and his Daughters (or Tevye the Milkman) and other tales by Sholem Aleichem which he wrote in Yiddish and published in 1894. Back in 1964, the stories would still be under copyright, but no longer. The story centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his family and religious traditions while outside influences encroach upon their lives. He must cope with both the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters—each daughter's choice of husband moves progressively further away from established customs—and with the edict of the Tsar that evicts the Jews from their village.The musical's title stems from a painting by Marc Chagall one of many surreal paintings he created of Eastern European Jewish life, often including a fiddler. The Fiddler is a metaphor for survival, through tradition and joyfulness, in a life of uncertainty and imbalance. "Fiddler On The Roof" was the first musical to surpass the 3,000 performance mark, and it held the record for longest-running Broadway musical for almost 10 years until Grease surpassed its run. Now here's something, dear reader that you need to pay attention to: The original Broadway production (not any revivals) earned $1,574 for every dollar invested in it. The show was capitalized at four million dollars. That's four million times 1,574-- or a small fortune.The show was highly acclaimed and nominated for ten Tony Awards, winning nine, including Best Musical, score, book, direction and choreography. It spawned four Broadway revivals, ( the first three were busts, however) a successful 1971 film adaptation, and has enjoyed enduring international popularity. It is also a very popular choice for school and community productions. I remember that this was the very first musical that I had ever seen. The year was 1980. The place: The Gallery Theatre-- for which I attended an amazing reunion on Saturday night. Mr. Duane Thomas (who was at this re-union) played Teyve so brilliantly, it absolutely hooked me on musical theatre. He was so good, it brought tears to my eyes. Mark Shipley was also at the reunion had directed it. I remember the dream sequence as brilliant. The Broadway revivals were almost embarrassing however. The first stayed open only 176 performances in 1976 and a really embarrassing 53 performances in 1981. In 1990, it was a bit better at 241 and the most recent stayed open for 781 performances. The songwriter in our headline was the amazing Irving Berlin. We lost him on this date in 1989 at the age of 101. Irving wrote fifteen hundred songs in his lifetime. If you read this, play some Berlin today. He'll hear it-- trust me. Maybe play a verse or two of "There's No Business Like Show Business! Maybe Tony can sing that song today and my friend Tim can play it on his grand piano! The patriot we honor today is none other than Nathan Hale-- "If I only have one life, let me give it to my country" He was hung as a spy today. The manager is Tommy Lasorda. Today he is 81. Tommy won us Dodger fans two World Series . The first was 1981. the second was 1988. Twenty years since we've won a World Series! Oh well. Today is another interesting day for history-- Sara Jane Moore tried to assassinate Gerald Ford in 1975. What a crazy woman1! Oh well. She still sits in jail. And interesting-- Gerald Ford remains the only US president to serve only two years and the only president in that two years who had two attempts upon his life. I've completed a new musical book based on my experiences with Danny Simon, the older brother of Neil. It's called "The Brothers Laughter" and it really turned very funny and pretty damn good. Well, my birthday is in two days-- imagine that. I'm going to be 61.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


This is my 366th journal posting, so now since June of 2006, I have written the equivalent of a "Leap Year's" worth of journal entries. Last night was a very special night. I have told you that my beginnings in songwriting came from an association from the Gallery Theatre in Ontario. I wrote two musicals, played the Scarecrow on one and took a lot of pictures over the years. Last night was a reunion. Mark Shipley and his ex-wife, Jeannie were there. I had not seen either of them in just about twenty-five years. Mark looks absolutely wonderful: as witty as ever and ever so relaxed as he now lives in Hillo, Hawaii helping Down Syndromed kids communicate and do dramatics. I saw Howard and Pam Wilson. Howard in those days played some wonderful parts, most notably "The Modern Major General" from Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance". Pam played a lot of great parts. I saw David Poole, Laurel Shipley (who had played Dorothy in my very first musical "Wizard of Oz" and of course the Shipley kids, Josh, Eric and Tannie. All grown up. Ron Vandermolen now owns a antique shop in Pasadena at 60 North Lake Street. There were so many memories. There were quite a few who couldn't make it, but I had made contact with Larry Newman and Mike Tosha before and of course Tim Corvin. All in all it was a wonderful evening. I'll post some pictures soon. The gentleman you see in the picture is the last Steinway. He has just passed over the weekend . His name was Henry Steinway Ziegler — and this gentleman was the great-grandson of Heinrich Engelhard Steinway, the illiterate German immigrant before the ampersand in the company Steinway & Sons. Henry was born on Aug. 23, 1915, in his parents’ apartment on Park Avenue, between East 52nd and 53rd Streets. The location was important to his tradition-minded father, Theodore E. Steinway. The Steinways’ factory, the largest piano plant in New York City when it opened, had occupied that site from just before the Civil War until about 1910. Theodore rented an apartment in the building that took the factory’s place. (The apartment house was demolished in the 1950s to make way for Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building.)By the time Henry was a boy, the name Steinway had become almost synonymous with pianos, famous on concert stages as well as in Tin Pan Alley. Irving Berlin paid homage in “I Love a Piano” with the lyric “I know a fine way to treat a Steinway.”After shuttering its Manhattan factory, Steinway & Sons moved its manufacturing operations to Queens, and as a child Henry wandered through a labyrinth of sawdust-strewn workrooms. He joined the company after graduating from Harvard in 1937 and began his career by building pianos, just as his father and uncles had. “I learned a respect for work that is actually done,” Mr. Steinway said years later.He also discovered that making instruments that have thousands of tiny parts under the lid is not easy. He said it took him a day and a half to do what the workers at the factory did in four hours. In the 1940s, following the death of a cousin who had been the company’s general manager, Mr. Steinway began overseeing operations at the company’s three factories in Queens. Poor eyesight kept him away from the front lines during World War II; the Army stationed him on Governors Island in New York Harbor. He became the factory manager after the war and president of the company in 1955, when his father made a surprise announcement that he was stepping down, immediately.By then the piano business was struggling against changing technologies and tastes. Phonographs and radios had displaced pianos as home entertainment choices, and television was on the rise. As Mr. Steinway recalled in 2003: “People would say: ‘You’re in the piano business? That doesn’t exist anymore.’ ”So, being a very smart businessman, he decided to downsize the company — though he preferred the term “right-sized” — closing two of the plants in Queens. He decided that concert artists to whom the company had lent pianos would have to return them, unless they bought them.He also arranged to sell Steinway Hall, the company’s building on West 57th Street, to Manhattan Life Insurance Company. He moved most of the company’s offices, including his own, to Queens. But the showroom, with its big front window and arched ceilings, remained. In 1972 he sold the company itself. “It was the hippie time,” he recalled in 2003. “Nobody in the next generation —”
He left the rest of the sentence unsaid. He said he did not believe that any of his younger relatives could take over, so he proposed a $20.1 million stock swap with the CBS Corporation. The deliberations split the family, with his mother, Ruth, calling the sale “a betrayal,” although she ultimately voted for it. CBS replaced him as president in 1977, naming him chairman. He gave up that title when he retired at 65, but he never really left. Until a few months ago, he went to Steinway Hall most days. He also went to the factory to autograph just-finished pianos, signing the cast-iron plates with felt-tip pens. At times he served as a goodwill ambassador, visiting piano dealers and attending music-industry conventions. Last year President Bush presented him with the National Medal of Arts, the Federal government’s highest award in the arts. Mr. Steinway was also the founding president of the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, Calif. And today is another anniversary of sorts, because on this day in 1948, Milton Berle became the permanent host on the Texaco Star Theatre becoming officially "Mr. Television". Does anybody know that Milton Berle had a lifetime contract with NBC? How about that? I have now been completing a play with music (as opposed to a musical) about my memories of Danny Simon, the brother of Neil Simon and Milton figures into the last scene. Today in 1958 saw the premiere of the television series "Perry Mason"-- the lawyer who never lost a case. Yeah, wouldn't that be something if it were real? Of course, I think Andy Griffith as "Mattlock" never lost a case as I remember it. My 61st birthday approaches on Wednesday the 24th : I have now met the full age of both of my parents (my dad fifty-eight) (my mom sixty-one) before they passed. That's a very scary thought. Well, it's a beautiful Sunday, and I'm still looking for work. Hold good thoughts for me.

Monday, September 08, 2008


On this historic day in 1974, Gerald Ford pardoned Richard M. Nixon of all possible crimes that related to Watergate. It was a very brave move that most probably cost Gerald Ford the opportunity to have his own term of being the President of the United States. This was one reason Mr. Ford cited for granting the pardon, saying that he had concluded that "many months and perhaps more years will have to pass before Richard Nixon could obtain a fair trial by jury in any jurisdiction of the United States under governing decisions of the Supreme Court." During this long period of delay and potential litigation, ugly passions would again be aroused, our people would again be polarized in their opinions, and the credibility of our free institutions of government would again be challenged at home and abroad," Mr. Ford said all of this in a 10-minute statement that he read that fateful morning in the Oval Office upon signing the paperwork for the official pardon itself. Mr. Ford's decision had not been unexpected, especially in the light of his previous statements that he thought the former President had suffered enough by being forced from office. Yet the unconditional nature of the pardon, taken without the recommendation of Mr. Jaworski, was more generous to Mr. Nixon than many had expected. Today was famous also for the first publishing of Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and The Sea". If you have not read this classic book, I urge you to do so. Well, more writing ahead and a job fair happens on Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles. I am also hoping to hear from Office Depot. A special birthday I would like to note due to my devotion to The Blessed Mother of Jesus. This day is the celebration of her Nativity. My lady has rescued so many times by going to the Lord and interceding on my behalf. She is my personal champion! Happy Birthday, dear lady!

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Today, September 7th is the final day for the Broadway show "Rent"-- the Pulitzer prize winning, seventh longest running show in Broadway history. As someone who aspires to Broadway, himself the story of Rent although tragic that's its author never got to see any of its fame and success is a phenomenal "dream come true" story.So many amazing performers got their start with this show including Adam Pascal and Indna Menzel. The Broadway lottery of offering twenty dollar orchestra seats by lottery on the day of the performance began its tradition with this show. Even tonight with every seat anticipated to be completely sold out, the producers have reserved several of these $20 seat opportunities. The "Rentheads" as the show's ultimate fans are labeled should be absolutely delighted. Today is also the birthday of television-- as way back in 1927 the first antiquated transmission took place. So put a fancy cloth over your television tonight, kids-- and wish it "Happy Birthday" Speaking of birthdays, it would also been the birthday of another great artist: dear old "Grandma Moses"-- what an absolutely amazing painter she was. And for those of us who grew up in that era, today would have been the 72nd birthday of rockster Buddy Holly. Well, another Sunday and a day at church. Tim Doran goes off on his well earned vacation today! Boy, does he deserve that! And John and I continue developing our new musicals. Right now, John is trying to complete the music for "Broadway Angels". This is one funny show!

Friday, September 05, 2008



Yes, indeed September 5th is a most remarkable day in history. The Olympic tragedy in Munich, Germany was in 1972. What a terrible tragedy. On the almost tragic side of the ledger
1698. Gerald Ford escaped an assassination attempt by Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme. Of course dear old "Squeaky" had been an avid follower of Charles Manson. Today was also the first meeting of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1774 led by George Washington. Good old George it turns out was a terrible pessimist. When he was the general in the Revolution, he sometimes sent Congress four to five messages a day that said things like "I think we're gonna lose" or "There is no way out of this" or the now famous phrase "Situation: hopeless"-- yes, dear old George originated that one!-- but hey if you had wooden teeth you might be a pessimist yourself. In the same year, "The Reign of Terror" better known as The French Revolution began in 1793 and in 1693, one hundred years before, Peter the Great in Russia imposed a tax on beards-- and you thought you were paying crazy taxes. In 1939, in what we might call the "famous last words" category,
The United States of America proclaimed its complete neutrality in World War II. My My-- how history changes perspectives. And speaking of World War II history, on this date in 1945, dear old Tokyo Rose, whose real name was Iva Toguri D'Aquino was arrested in Yokohoma-- write one up for freedom, boys! In 1977, The United States launched the Voyager 1 spacecraft two weeks after launching its twin, Voyager 2. And tragically Nobel Peace Prize winner and living saint Mother Teresa died in Calcutta, India, at age 87. Not much happening for me. I looked into selling insurance from Afflex--but it required an investment of over $300-- an out of work guy can't afford that kind of investment. But I did get a call from Office Depot out of the clear blue sky on Labor Day afternoon inviting me to apply on line and come in for one of their personality and honesty tests which I did easily. More submissions going out today-- ten in all. I am at least promoting the shows that we have and we are still awaiting news from the Barter Theatre in Virginia. Well, you know what they say "No news is good news!" Heard a funny one: a vet and a taxidermist go into business together and came up with a real catchy slogan "Either way you get your dog back" --funny!