Trav S.D. (travis-stewart) Fri 20 Jan 06 14:59
David Leopold, with that epic, thinly-disguised plug for your own book masquerading as a post about mine, you are a man after my own heart.
Trav S.D. (travis-stewart) Fri 20 Jan 06 15:01
Yes, but JayZ would be great in vaudeville
Rick Brown (danwest) Fri 20 Jan 06 17:27
So, did vaud houses have pit bands?
lizp (yodayodayoda) Fri 20 Jan 06 19:08
Thanks, Trav, for your enthusiastic response to my first post...now I can move beyond the fear of being "one hand clapping"...although in your case, I guess one hand is quite enough to "throw money"! (Love your title, truly...) Okay. "Ollie, now you've gone ahead and done it": innocently stumbled into MY domain: the dark, solipsistic, masturbatory, experience of internet porn (and other cellulocyber yuks). True, this may be a leap from vaudeville to cybersludge, but I'm open to it if you are. I seriously believe we are becoming a country of addicts, settling for even the slightest, most pathetic detour from the Superhighway of Nada on which we commute to our supposed "life". Paddy Chayevsky wrote about the need the human mind has to regularly "alter" its "state"...this being closer to a need than an option. Unfortunately, the multimogulmediamongers have become adept at exploiting this vulnerability, injecting their seductive "drug" into the veins of staggering body politic. And like any good druggie can (eventually) tell you: it's cool, yeah, no problem, everyone does it; but yeah, okay, you start to need a little more to get high like in the beginning; and then, well, you can't get off at all no matter what you do so you keep upping the ante; but then, you can never seem to get enough or even feel good, let alone high; and then, all of a sudden, where is everyone? you're all alone and you have no life and you're dead. On every conceivable level... I guess the metaphor I like the best to depict the steady erosion of our spiritual/aesthetic core is that of the poor Maine lobster, who supposedly sits in the pasta pot with the temperature gradually building, so gradually in fact that he doesn't even feel it, until he's just boiling away and then "Dinner's ready". In my heart, I fear this is what's happening to us, on so many fronts. And one more thing: I'd like to refute my own metaphor. Someone told me that she heard the poor lobster screaming... Well, maybe that's what these posts are about.
We're all just lobsters in this pot (kafclown) Sat 21 Jan 06 04:10
Way back in post 67, Travis agreed with lithp, saying (or should that be thaying?) >Whoa, that last post was awesome! I think you hit the nail on the >head...the attitudes of both producers and audiences are part of the >ever-accelerating national mania for profit and efficiency. We run >the risk of being redundant here (this stuff has been written about >for decades), but this is a deodorized, alienated culture. We don't >want a dialogue with our fellow man, nor do we want to make any >effort or any compromise. It is a culture of instant fulfillment >of all needs in their most pure state at the lowest cost...and > impatience at anything less. To me, the nadir of this tendency is >internet pornography...the evolution of a healthy, social amusement >experience (cinema) into a dark, solitary, obsessive compulsion. While I basically agree, I also think that exact sentence may have been written in the NY Sun about the opening of P.T. Barnum's American Museum back in 1841. (substituting appropriately of course) On some level, the new is always a perversion of the old, and the "next" is always a harbinger of doom and foreboding. Not that I really want to be the guy defending internet pornography (though it gives jacking in to the internet a WHOLE new meaning!) but 200 years from now, when we are all dust, (except for those of us with souls) this conversation will be had again, but internet pornography will be the good thing in the conversation. As for lobsters, well, perhaps that's the real answer to the mystery of Global Warming? We're all just lobsters in this pot...
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sat 21 Jan 06 06:52
What connection is there between vaudeville and Chatauqua?
lizp (yodayodayoda) Sat 21 Jan 06 12:32
Time to make the donuts... A dualistic view of the universe has always been rocket fuel for launching hot but reductivistic debates...with the goal being for one commentator to "prevail" over the other. I personally think a more dialectical approach yields a fuller and more nuanced understanding of one another and our world as we know it. On the other hand, I do shudder to think that the passage of time alone could lead us to a position of utter spiritual neutrality (cf. Mr. Kafclown's hypothesis that future cultural commentators will determine Internet porn was a "good" thing.) I do agree, however, that novelty in our culture has always seemed to elicit some outpouring of doomsday predictions (Remember those early dire predictions vis a vis rock and roll) My concern is that we not limit oursevles to some dispassionate, fatalistic frame of mind where we cede our current sensibilities to some Bogartesque "hill-of-beans" mantra. This is surely the slippery slope to "lobsterism". You heard this "ism" here first...
Carl LaFong (mcdee) Sat 21 Jan 06 12:34
The Rhode Island state motto (well, should be): "Lobsters and Mobsters."
Andrew Alden (alden) Sat 21 Jan 06 16:05
I have a technical question about slapstick. I've never seen a slapstick. What is it LIKE?
Trav S.D. (travis-stewart) Sat 21 Jan 06 16:06
Chautauqua is to vaudeville as vaudeville is to internet porn. How's that for tying things in together? Chautauqua evolved in the upstate NY town of the same name and refers to a sort of "educational" variety form, featuring lectures, poetry recitals, music recitals, and occasionally more vaudevillian type things. Sometimes in an off season, a vaudevillian might take a gig at a Chautauqua (Edgar Bergen--and Charlie McCarthy-- did, for example). Especially in the first 2 or 3 decades of vaudeville, Chautauqua-like acts were very much a part of the vaudeville experience...actors doing classical monologs...a cellist...a humorist...an explorer relating his adventures...DeWolf Hopper reciting "casey at the Bat"...these are all very Chautauqua like
Paulina Borsook (loris) Sat 21 Jan 06 19:57
ah, that answered one of my questions. i have inadvertently started programming/putting together/producing (cringe/snort) evenings of diff kinds of performers trying out new stuff. as i have been readung this topic, i wondered 'is this vaudeville?' but, i think what i am doing may be more chataqua. not consciously; but just as an expression of what i tend to be interested in (though on the upcoming one next friday 27 jan, there will be a dancer and there will be a fellow is a poet/humorist,so maybe vaud?). my intention wasnt 'educational', but maybe more artsy? hmmm... a question: did you read/what did you think of the novel 'niagra falls all over again'? i stmumbled into it, and in many ways it -is- a history of vaudeville. as someone who has actually written such, what did you think of it? finally, i agree grimly on how much people seem more comfy with the mediated and the coccooned...hell, all the musicians i know complain about how so many kids have djs, rather than live music, at their events, that...
lilac-deprived westerner (nanlev) Sun 22 Jan 06 00:23
I honestly don't understand what you mean by this. >Chautauqua is to vaudeville as vaudeville is to internet porn. Some deep similarities do exist between what became known as the Chautauqua movement and the golden age of vaudeville. Both had circuits that entertainers travelled, both flourished before radio and TV and films were commonplace in the rural U.S., and both were more or less killed off when they did become commonplace. There are several dozen chautauquas operating today presenting educational and entertainment programs. Most are stationary but a few travel. A short list of some of the more well-known ones is found at http://www.chautauqua.org/history.html One of the more comprehensive sites on chautauqua history is http://members.aol.com/AlphaChautauquan/index.html/ Unfortunately it looks like the most recent update was last June, but it's still the best collection of this stuff I've seen on the web. Also a great site, http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/Bai/redpath.htm Entertainment-wise, it seems there might have been a lot of crossover with the vaudeville acts, but I don't know if this happened. Travis, did you run across anything in your research about this ? The lecturers were the main draws, but plenty of variety acts played the chautauqua circuits, too. From the last URL above: ""Talent" included musicians, lecturers, humorists, actors, interpretive readers, magicians, and others. Some of the talent worked the year around as entertainers: lyceum in the winter and tent Chautauqua in the summer. For others, such as authors, teachers, clergymen, and politicians, Chautauqua provided a little extra salary in the summertime. " "About half of a Chautauqua program consisted of music. There were Swiss bell ringers, orchestras, glee clubs, string quartets, grand opera stars such as Madame Schumann-Heink, oratorio artists, bands (Bohumir Kryl's Bohemian Band was a favorite), and male quartets. One of the most famous male quartets was made up of four farm boys from Charles City, Iowa, the Weatherwax Brothers." Alden: here's an old slapstick. http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.dragonwings.net/images/Slaps tick4097.JPG&imgrefurl=http://www.dragonwings.net/Slapstick.htm&h=347&w=409&sz =10&tbnid=kgDXFYntG9_UJM:&tbnh=102&tbnw=121&hl=en&start=7&prev=/images%3Fq%3Ds lapstick%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26sa%3DG If that URL doesn't read, go to google images and this came up in one of the first 10 images. The only one I ever saw looked more like a cricket bat (or what I think a cricked bat looks like) with a shorter hinged flap over the wide part of the bat.
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Sun 22 Jan 06 05:42
I was just about to post the image of that slapstick-- damned you Nanlev! The official part of this conversation is due to wrap up in a few days, so I just want to encourage anyone who is following this conversation to ask their questions while they can. If you are following this conversation online, and not on the WELL, and would LIKE to ask a question, email me <email@example.com> and I will act as the interlocutor for you, and ask our own Mr. Bones what you want him to know.
lilac-deprived westerner (nanlev) Sun 22 Jan 06 11:14
Has anyone here used a slapstick in performance ? In shows I've been a part of, if any sound effects were needed, we just did the hand clap.
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Sun 22 Jan 06 17:12
Travis-- we've had a question from someone that prefers to remain anonymous... "Long time listener, first time caller. I've been reading this discussion with interest, but am not so interested in the minutiae of history and circus arts performances and the technical aspects of the slapstick-- who did what when a hundred years ago is not so interesting to me.. I'm much more interested in vaudeville as a philosophy, and as an expression of human dreams and desires. It seems to me that the idea of vaudeville-- the voice of the people- is reflected in other populist movements of the era. Communism and the Russian revolution come to mind. Is there any philosophical discussion of vaudeville from the Marxists (Grouchoists or otherwise?) as a philosophy of the people and as an anti-"High society" art? I'll take my answer off the air.
Trav S.D. (travis-stewart) Mon 23 Jan 06 08:53
Variety was always a "people's" art form -- from ancient times til the vaudeville era. As Adam said so well though, nowadays many of the variety arts appeal only to connoiseurs, a college-educated elite. This is an exceedingly odd development. It has somehow become "highbrow" to watch somebody juggle...I guess because, as a preserved folk form, it is perceived as "cultural tradition"...some medicine we have to swallow because its "good for you". It takes patience to watch, etc. Back in the day, though, the opposite held true. The alternative to popular theater was "legit theater"...which meant that the variety arts were what the uneducated chiefly prized. If watching a juggler takes patience, it takes even more patience to sit throgh "O, What a Rogue and Peasant Slave am I..." American populism (as I think of it, the political movement bookended by Andrew Jackson and William Jennings Bryant) was very different from the European left. It was about the people, yes...but what that meant for them was the opportunity for those at the bottom of the ladder to become a Commodore Vanderbilt, or an Andrew Carnegie. The Horatio Alger story. This is the philosophy--I believe--that drove the great majority of American vaudevillians. Show business was one of the few avenues (and rather a long shot, at that) for the poor and working class to get a decent piece of the pie. On the other hand, the European left embraced the variety arts as well, and you find the CP and the avant-garde embracing them as tools to reaching out to the proletariat. Nowadays if you wanted to energize the people I'm not sure what you'd do -- write a rap, maybe
David Leopold (dleopold1) Mon 23 Jan 06 10:50
A new vaudeville that adds rap into the mix would be something. Vaudeville has to keep adding, and reinventing what is has always done to stay fresh for an audience who might be scared by performance that has not been pre-digested. It should also go to county fairs, block parties, and other people friendly, but perhaps not entertainment saturated places where people are to connect with that audience. Vaudeville is a lot like the current Democratic party. Some good ideas, dearly held by some, that seem incappable of connecting with many.
Trav S.D. (travis-stewart) Mon 23 Jan 06 13:50
A great analogy and an excellent proposal!
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Tue 24 Jan 06 09:28
To reach the proletariat nowadays, I'm not sure if art (either capitalized or under-capitalized) is the right way to go. (Hmmm I think I just found a little truism-- "Art" is capitalized art (ie, art with capital behind it-- and under-capitalized art is never capital A Art.) I'm thinking if you really want to reach the proletariat nowadays, you need to be an athlete. Think Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, Dale Earnhardt. Any of those guys can reach the "common man" in ways that a juggler, song and dance man, or second banana (no matter how fantastic) can only dream.
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Tue 24 Jan 06 10:07
Travis-- in the taking care of "Bidness" mode-- Where can people buy your book? Keep tabs on your vaudevillian activities? Sign up for a mailing list? Get a book signed? Do you have a website where people can do all these fine and wonderful things?
Trav S.D. (travis-stewart) Tue 24 Jan 06 14:00
Adam hates sports! But it's true -- to get elected it seems like every Presidential candidate has to put on a nylon baseball cap and go jogging or head for the golf course. Otherwise he ain't no guy. Anyway, to answer my favorite question, Adam--every bookstore I've been in Manhattan has carried the book, and I'm getting reports from friends all over the country that they are finding it in the major chain stores (Your B&N, Waldenbooks etc). You can also get it online at Amazon and such like. Unfortunately, I am between web sites at the moment...out-of-date ones remain up, but the deluxe new one is still in construction. My next book event will be a two-parter at the Brooklyn Public Library, March 4 & 11. Joining me at the dais will be the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, Jennifer Miller of Circus Amok, and Miss Saturn, among others. Be there or be square!
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Wed 25 Jan 06 05:14
I won't be at the March 4 one-- (I'm up in the Catskills doing a fundraiser for the NACL guys) Possibly March 11 I could be in attendance. Well, I want to thank all of the participants of the conversation for helping to contribute to a lively discussion about vaudeville. I also want to thank our author, Trav S.D for answering all of the questions, and playing along with us. As a host of the theatre conference, I invite WELL dwellers to come and take a look, and feel free to start or continue conversations there. (Type "g theat" in the shortcut box (engaged) or at the prompt (picospan)) I'll also be keeping tabs on this topic, so feel free to continue the discussion here. Not sure how much longer Trav will be on the WELL for, but if you absolutely need to get a message to him, you can always email me, and I will send my carrier pigeon into the great beyond. <firstname.lastname@example.org> I also want to encourage people to stick around for the next conversation, which will be going live sometime today, featuring author David Leopold, radio journalist Angie Coiro, and the classic song stylings of Irving Berlin. And to quote one of the legends of stage and screen: "Good Night Mrs. Calabash, Wherever You Are"
Trav S.D. (travis-stewart) Wed 25 Jan 06 06:58
Good night and good luck!
Rick Brown (danwest) Wed 25 Jan 06 08:06
Thanks Trav! I a, seriously enjoying your book and the conversation here. Due to a death in the family, I have yet to finish it, about half way through, but now that things have setteled down, gonna tear back into it.
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Wed 25 Jan 06 09:56
The one thing I forgot to admonish people to do-- if you did like the conversation-- I don't think you should applaud-- I think you should just throw money! And while I'm sure that Travis would you like to throw some his way-- my larger point is that wherever you live-- go out and support today's live entertainment-- musicians, poets, clowns, vaudevillians, spoon-artists, plays, singers, hand-balancers, tightrope walkers, and everybody in between. Throw some money in the hat, toss some money in an envelope, email paypal equivalents of doubloons across the internet-- support live entertainment. It's your area's most important cultural resource-- it's artists. This message brought to you from the Live Arts Council of Entertainers.
Members: Enter the conference to participate