A friend writes:
You need to be kept on a somewhat shorter leash–which is what you promised to do for yourself a while back but forgive me for doubting that you even know what the words mean.
Ever since taking that unscheduled ambulance ride a year and a half ago, I’ve mostly steered clear of the state of sped-up, work-obsessed lunacy in which I once passed too many of my waking hours. On occasion, though, things still get out of hand, usually when a harmonic convergence of my various print-media deadlines causes them all to fall in a single week.
This happened to me last week, during which I did the following things:
• Saw four shows.
• Wrote four pieces, two of them (totaling three thousand words) in a single day.
• Polished the first six chapters of Hotter Than That: A Life of Louis Armstrong to a high gloss.
• Spent all of Thursday at the Institute of Jazz Studies in Newark, where I took copious notes on eight oral-history transcripts, seven uncollected magazine articles about Louis Armstrong, and some twenty-odd books in which he figures more or less significantly.
• Interviewed Joe Muranyi, the last clarinetist of Armstrong’s All Stars, with which he played from 1967 to the trumpeter’s death in 1971.
• Caught up with a friend whom I hadn’t seen for a year.
• Went to Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Sunday to see one of the aforementioned shows, Don Juan Giovanni.
Tomorrow I’ll be making my circuitous way to Hartford, Connecticut, where I’ll be seeing Hal Holbrook in Our Town. On Saturday it’s Madison, New Jersey, where the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey is putting on a rare revival of William Saroyan’s The Time of Your Life. The very next day I head down to Arlington, Virginia, to see Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along.
All of which should suggest to the dullest of readers that I’m feeling the least little bit stressed. Right? Yes–and no. After a frustratingly long layoff, I’m now piling up pages of Hotter Than That with exhilarating speed, and making discoveries about Louis Armstrong that keep me in a constant state of excitement. I’ve seen a bunch of good shows lately, and expect to see a bunch more in coming weeks. And The Letter is thundering down the tracks like greased lightning on slick wheels.
All in all, life is pretty good these days, so I’m not complaining–but I do think I could use a day or two off. Or three.
OGIC and CAAF will amuse you until Monday. Or maybe Tuesday.