Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"Moonlight" Should Be On Broadway Or Off-Broadway,Too

Moonlight, released in 2016, and the Best-Picture Oscar winner earlier this year, is a beautifully made movie about the coming-of-age of a young black gay man living in Liberty City, Miami's inner-city area.

The movie, directed by Barry Jenkins, is based on fellow Miami native Tarell Alvin McCraney's play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. The play to date has never been produced. I hope all the accolades bestowed on Moonlight will encourage a Broadway or Off-Broadway producer to bring the movie's source to a New York stage. A radio production on NPR or a live telecast on one of the TV networks would also be worth doing. No doubt the gay community, especially the black gay community, would support these efforts.

The one thing we don't need is a Broadway musical version of the movie or the play.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Demon In Men's Minds

"We might say that we have far more to be afraid of today than the people of Salem [,Massachusetts, in the 1600s] ever dreamed of, but that would not really be true. We have exactly the same thing to be afraid of--the demon in men's minds which prompts hatred and anger and fear, an irrational demon which shows a different face to every generation, but never gives up in his fight to win over the world."--Shirley Jackson, American author (1916-1965), from Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin (Liveright/W.W. Norton, 2016).

Note: I love this quotation. It is so applicable to current events.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

When New York Rents Were Cheaper

It's hard to believe sometimes that at one time people in New York City paid, at least by today's standards, much more affordable rent. They weren't paying two-thousand or three-thousand-dollar rent to keep a roof over their heads.

In author biographies that I recently read, I learned, for example, that Shirley Jackson and her husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, in October of 1943, in Greenwich Village, were paying $75 a month for a second-floor apartment.

Howard Fast, his wife, and one-year-old daughter moved into a 13-room duplex apartment on Central Park West, where the rent was $154. (Imagine that!)

Allen Ginsberg paid one-fourth of his monthly income as a newspaper copy boy (which was $120) for an apartment on the Lower East Side that he shared with fellow scribe William Burroughs. His rent payment was $30.

Robert Gottlieb , the book and magazine editor, lived on the top floor of a brownstone on St. Mark's Place, in Greenwich Village, with his wife and young son. Their monthly rent was $96.

James Baldwin, when he lived on Horatio Street, also in Greenwich Village, according to his biographer David Leeming, "paid $100 a month for three large rooms."

I'm sure that back then those rents weren't considered cheap since people didn't make as much money as they do now. But if current rents were comparable to those in the 1940s and 1950s, there would be much less homelessness in New York City.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Rod Serling's Rejected Teleplay

Rod Serling's daughter, Anne, wrote a foreword to Mark Dawidziak's Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Twilight Zone (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press). It's a fascinating self-help book that reveals the life lessons to be learned in various episodes of The Twilight Zone, Serling's iconic science-fiction/fantasy television series that ran on CBS from 1959 to 1964.

Ms. Serling writes that the 1955 murder of  the Chicago teenager Emmett Till in Mississippi "profoundly affected my father." So much so that he wrote a television script called Noon on Doomsday, "his first attempt," she further writes, "to tell the story and it was turned down by the sponsors who were afraid it might offend their southern customers."

Lately there have been live telecasts on network TV of musicals such as Peter Pan and Hairspray. Wouldn't it be wonderful if one of the networks decided to air a live telecast of Rod Serling's rejected teleplay? It's probably as relevant today as it was back then.