Now that I spend so much time on the road, I have to take my workouts where and when I can find them. That’s why I went straight from Penn Station to my Upper West Side gym last Friday at eight-thirty, an hour when I’m usually sitting on the aisle of a Broadway theater. It felt more than a little bit weird. Manhattan is full of busy people whose schedules oblige them to operate at oblique angles to the clock, but even so, a gym still isn’t the sort of place where most of us care to be seen on a Friday night. I caught myself looking out of the corner of my eye at the other refugees from normal life who were taking exercise after hours, and wondered whether they in turn were looking at me and muttering to themselves, Poor guy, he can’t get a date! Smiling wryly, I inserted my Ultimate Ear in-ear monitors, fired up my iPod, and withdrew from the world for the next forty-five minutes, tugging violently at the handle of a rowing machine in order to defer for as long as possible my ultimate appointment with the distinguished thing.
I spent Saturday and Sunday chewing through a mountain of piled-up mail, straightening out my reviewing calendar, dining with Supermaud, and going to a couple of plays, one in Manhattan and the other in New Jersey. I was pleased to find in the mail a copy of the bound manuscript of Somewhere, Amanda Vaill’s forthcoming biography of Jerome Robbins, and promptly set to reading it in between appointments. One of the pleasures of my line of work is that I get to read books like Somewhere prior to publication and listen to CDs in advance of their street dates. (In recent weeks I’ve been sampling a stack of preview copies of soon-to-be-released albums by Ani DiFranco, Bill Frisell, Roger Kellaway, Diana Krall, Audra McDonald, and Chris Thile.)
Just as I was getting ready to pick up a Zipcar on Saturday and drive out to Madison to see the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, I got a call from a TV producer who wanted to know whether I’d seen World Trade Center and would come to the studio to chat about it. “No and no,” I told her. As I mentioned in this space the other day, I haven’t gone to the movies since I got out of the hospital, and I saw no good reason to break that record for a movie about 9/11, no matter how fine it may be, and least of all in order to talk about it on TV. Most TV “conversations” are semi-staged pseudo-debates whose participants are picked with the intention of generating heat rather than shedding light. Me, I prefer radio, where you’re occasionally allowed to speak without interruption for more than ten seconds in a row and there’s a pretty good chance that your interviewer doesn’t already know what you’re going to say.
Truth to tell, though, I didn’t really want to be doing much of anything at that particular moment. I love flying from city to city to see new shows, but I also like to spend a certain amount of time curled up on my living-room couch, looking at the Teachout Museum and thinking about nothing in particular. I’ve learned how to get things done on planes, trains, and buses, but they’re always going somewhere, and sometimes I prefer to be going nowhere.
I’m definitely going somewhere today: I have an appointment with my cardiologist, after which I’m headed for Connecticut, where I’ll spend the middle part of the week working on Hotter Than That. (Reading the manuscript of Somewhere whetted my creative edge.) I’ll be leaving the blog in the capable hands of Our Girl until Friday, so don’t be alarmed by my disappearance. On Friday it’s back to New York for The Fantasticks, Mr. Dooley’s America, and Fame Becomes Me. That’s my life, and I like it, usually.
Just in case you’re wondering, you’ll find me at the gym in between shows. Dead men write no books, nor do they get to curl up on their living-room couches and look lovingly at their lithographs. Given the alternative, I prefer sitting on a rowing machine and listening to my iPod. The Teachout Museum will keep.
UPDATE: Maud just blogged about her latest visit to the Teachout Museum. And my cardiologist (bless him) says I’m in the pink.