Monday, October 25, 2004

Cat Woman Told Me

E-mail from Leon!
Taking time out from the election countdown to smell the roses, drink the coffee, and read my e-mail.

Leon has written to inform me (and others) that Julie (“Cat Woman”) Newmar came to see his play in Los Angeles, and was so taken with it that she asked to meet him afterwards. Smitten, Leon informed us that she was very tall and had large hands. Awestruck Mr. Martell reports: “Her face is like really tight!”

She told him that there were too many “F words” in his play, but blamed the actors for not adhering strictly to his (no doubt) pristine text. She further told him that the “F word” was not used until the 90’s. Which was news to Leon. “I could have sworn I’ve been watching you clowns F Word up a storm for at least thirty years. But it has to be true. Cat Woman told me!”

But enough about Leon. What about me?
KALW is the feisty underdog in the public radio market here in San Francisco. Run by the feisty Nicole Salawa, it takes chances that the staid powerhouse KQED never would, including the airing of PHILOSOPHY TALK, a new (and still developing) show, with Ken Taylor and John Perry, philosophy professors at Stanford University. Among other things, it tackles current affairs from a philosophical perspective. What do we mean when we say “terrorism,” for instance, or: what is democracy? It is refreshing to have a semblance of discourse on the airwaves, but then, I’m prejudiced. I am involved with the show, providing two- minute essays from time to time.

Public radio, as you know, asks for money from its listeners. As a reward for pledging to KALW, the station (and PHILOSOPHY TALK) offered listeners a chance to attend a salon with Ken, John, (me), and the staff of the program (including Amy Standen, who does a pre-produced piece on the topic of the day).

This salon occurred today, and it was a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon. A couple had offered their lavish flat, on a hill in Noe Valley, with a fabulous view overlooking the East Bay. The special guest was Geoff Numberg, linguist and frequent guest on FRESH AIR, contributor to the New York Times, etc. He is an acquaintance, and a man whose writing I admire enormously.

So I got to hobnob with rich folks whose hearts are in the right place, drink some righteous red wine, nibble little crabby things, accept praise from strangers, and listen to some intelligent conversation about language and politics. I could pretend for a moment that I belonged to the fabled elite the right wing are always railing against, and which in fact exists. Only they’re not really elite. They’re just people. Some of them were even offended (or at least wondered if they should be offended) by Kerry’s remarks about Mary Cheney. Beats me.

DVD News
Bill has harangued me into contributing some drawing for the audio portion of the DVD. (We are including a half dozen or so radio bits we have done over the years.) Since Bill cited me as the John Lennon of the group (though Dan has done much more of this sort of thing than I), I am overly flattered, and will illustrate each of the bits in a style that owes nothing to Thurber, and more to years of bored doodling in margins of notebooks. However, I will do my best to thrill and astound.

At one point I thought I might pursue art. In high school, I had this epic vision for a painting. I wanted to paint a bathtub, with the water going down the drain between a guy’s feet. It was symbolic, see? Life and that.

But since I had no idea how to do perspective, the finished product, when shown to my mother, prompted her to ask if it depicted two ants trying to escape from a rug.

I gave up my art career then and there, though I wish I still had the painting. In the retrospect of maturity, that's a a lot more interesting than what I was attempting in the first place. It has everything! Drama! Conflict! Insects! Carpets!


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