The Great Plotnik

Friday, September 30, 2005

Caught in Traffic

The Great Plotnik and The Great Ducknik are seated on the plane. The announcement comes: "Shmunited Air Lines apologizes deeply, but our copilot is caught in traffic and can't get to the airport. Therefore, our departure has been rescheduled to 1PM."

A 1PM departure means an 8:30 landing. P and D miss the dinner they were flying to Atlanta for. Plotnik has sworn to never again fly this bankrupt garbage airline before. Now, he does it again. Caught in traffic. Yo mama.

The flight attendants retreat behind a wall of indifference. "How about you don't charge us for your crummy meals, then?" somebody says. "Are you planning to do that?"

"Not at this time," says the flight attendant.

Yo Mama, Plotnik thinks, and we say it aloud: Yo mama.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Doughy, white buns

Tomorrow, Friday, Plotnik and Ducknik will be winging their way on yet another airplane, flying this time to the SouthEast of our country, to enjoy the company of family while downing many bbq sandwiches. Plotnik will remember he is in a red state surrounded by red states, and refrain from political commentary.

Not that politics really matters when downing bbq sandwiches. In fact, there could be a very good case made that red states make the best bbq sandwiches, in the same way blue states produce primo vino. Red states have the best sweet corn. Blue states make better movies. We need each other.

Of course, there is no bread worth eating in the red states, which is why the bbq always comes on doughy, white buns. But, hey. The President has doughy, white buns. So do all the red state governors. Haley Barbour's buns...rgggghh, not an appetizing thought. One thing you can say about Arnold. His buns may be white, but they're sure as hell not doughy.

Ducknik has packed a pound of French Roast, and Plotnik has made up a batch of fresh granola. They're ready for anything, but particularly ready for three or four bbq sandwiches the second they step off the plane.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Smokeland to Spermbank

Flying in airplanes is an unpleasant task. But if you choose to do so, it's far nicer if you can fly off-hours, and from small airports. A one hour flight from Saint Plotniko to Stiletto City is an exercise in paranoid schizophrenia, but the same flight from Smokeland to Spermbank is simple and without tension.

Spermbank Airport is one of Plotnik's favorites, because you disembark the plane from the front and rear, like stomach flu, then walk out onto the tarmac and into the airport, instead of trudging through a covered runway. It's nice to fly, then land and feel the real ground under your feet. Of course, you can't do this in the snow, but it never snows in Spermbank.

People in Spermbank bought their houses thirty years ago for greatly discounted prices, because they were under the airport landing pattern and it was TOO LOUD! WADD'YA SAY? I SAID IT'S TOO LOUD! You'd have to be stone deaf to live there, or have a family of teenage drummers. Now they're suing the city because it's TOO LOUD, I CAN'T HEAR YA, I SAID IT'S REALLY REALLY LOUD! DIDN'T YOU REALIZE IT'D BE THIS LOUD WHEN YOU BOUGHT THE HOUSE? WADD'YA SAY? I CAN'T HEAR YA!

You have to be crazy to live in Spermbank. But it's a million times nicer than Stiletto City International, where it snows soot.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

PunkyDunky's 30th

PD 30-2
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
Midnight, Stiletto City, you can see the smoke curling from the potted balcony, the empty shot glasses of tequila, you can hear the African music on the stereo and everyone screeching SURPRISE! -- you can even taste the chocolate cake. 5-Head's surprise birthday party has been a huge success.

In this picture one can see The Great PunkyDunky and his sister, one still a Twenty Something and one a newly Sturdy Thirty, The Great 5-Head, four of the five members of PD's High School rock and roll band, one of the two twins who were his very best childhood pals, several college friends, and some of their friends, and new friends, and friends of the new friends, and don't forget The Great Plotnik, cleverly camouflaged as Jadenik, the beautiful blonde in the front with the 50 Megawatt smile. That smile sums it all up. What a night.

Monday, September 26, 2005

PunkyDunky's Surprise

Plotnik, Ducknik and BZWZ dropped The Great PunkyDunky at the airport, kissed him goodbye, and yelled 'Happy Birthday!' out the car window as they drove away, but they weren't through with him. They got a bite to eat, then drove back to the airport and caught the following plane down to Stiletto City.

When PunkyDunky and 5-Head got home, she took him out to dinner. While they were gone her friends snuck into their house and put up the balloons. By the time they got home from dinner, all their friends had assembled. When PunkyDunky walked up the stairs, slower, of course, because he was now 30 years old, everyone screeched "Surprise!"

Then, ten minutes later, Plotnik, Ducknik and BZWZ arrived and yelled "Surprise Again!" It was a wonderful party.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

5-Head, PD, BzWz

5-Head, PD, BzWz
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
Birthdays are beautiful, when you haven't had too damned many. Last night, for the Great PunkyDunky's 30th birthday, he and his wife, sister, mother, father and two friends ate bbq'd wild salmon in mojito, heirloom tomatoes, coleslaw from Rick Bayless, rice with Indian spices from South Africa, spinach and paneer, grilled red and yellow peppers, and chocolate birthday cake.

The last time The Great PD had tasted this birthday cake was at his 7th birthday party at Brand Park in Stiletto City. The cake fractured down the middle and was thereafter known as Earthquake Cake.

It was the same cake The Great Ducknik had gotten for her 30th birthday, just a few short...time periods...ago, when everyone who gathered at the farmhouse decided to play Pin The Pecker on Burt Reynolds, but that's a really long story.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Plotnik Suggests Fish

Politics, natural disasters, disease, love. Humans have terribly short attention spans. We need to be zapped periodically with something new, or we forget. The President tells us we're winning, and we believe him, because we can't remember what we see with our own eyes on television every night. The hurricane destroys a city, and we're surprised, because we can't remember the same thing threatens the same place every year, and neither can we remember to prepare for it. There's a new deadly virus in Africa or China and we're surprised, because we can't remember experts have been warning us about it for decades. Couples we love break up, and it makes no sense. It’s as if they can’t remember what attracted one to the other in the first place. Our brains must be like our hard drives – programmed to deconstruct periodically.

The Great Plotnik suggests fish. It’s supposed to be memory food.

Tonight he is making bbq salmon which has been marinating all day in a mojito – limes, lemons, garlic, oregano, oil. The Great PunkyDunky, The Great FiveHead, and The Great BeeziWeezi are all in town. The Great Plotnik has a surprise for them all. Hopefully, they won’t die of embarrassment, nor he.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Trastevere, Roma

The Trastevere, Roma
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
Nefnik and Fefnik are heading for Europe. An espresso in a morning cafe in Paris, a ride along a vibey canal in Venice, a short history of the art of the Western World in Florence, dawn from the window of an overnight train, an almond croissant on a two thousand year old cobblestoned street, stained glass windows in a medieval church...

Fefnik, who was once a refugee, has seen the world, and is excited to show a tiny part of it to her man. They'll come back different people, with a newer and richer idea about the things that matter and the things that don't.

The Great Plotnik is jealous. Mmmmm....the veal chop in Il Bambino, the eggplant terrine at the D'Orsay, the fried artichokes at Il Pompiere...did he mention the North African hot chocolate at Angelina's?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Man With Hand on Head

Man With Hand on Head
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
Cirque Eloize is truly spectacular. Imagine Cirque du Soleil on a theater stage instead of in a huge tent, with an intimate cast, each of whom has mind-numbing and gravity-defying balance, tumbling, juggling and strength skills. Think accordions and pianos, think French aperitif instead of champagne shot through a fire hose. Think beautiful women with shoulders like redwood trees. Think brilliance, and an audience holding its breath, followed by cannonades of screaming applause.

The Great Plotnik was accompanied to Cirque Eloize by his friend The Great Dancenik. Earlier that day she had received a particularly bizarre gift. She couldn't return it to the store. She figured she'd probably drive up to the Sonoma Coast and figure out the next step.

After Cirque Eloize The Great Plotnik and The Great Dancenik drove around the city. The moon was out, and the crazies, and the views she still hasn't found in the Big Shmapple.

While they drove, The Great Plotnik could not erase the show's lead melody from his mind, played on accordion and violin. Over and over it cycled, and was still there when he awoke this morning. Bittersweet, rhythmic, happy, sad, unforgettable, just like Cirque Eloize.

The Great Plotnik Theatre Division awards Cirque Eloize Four and Three Quarter Stars, with an Extra Side of Sauce for the amazing two women on the trapeze, and special mention for Mrs. Leibowitz's Pearls.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Feefty Pounz Cuban Chicken

In the beginning there were Adam, Eve and The Great Plotnik. What do we remember about those days of long ago? The apple, and Eve's lithe young body wrapped either in her long blonde hair or covered by fig leaves. That's it.

Clearly, the Message should have been clear to all of us: To get readership you need a lithe young body wrapped either in long blonde hair or barely covered by fig leaves.

The Great Plotnik looked at his aging corpus in the mirror this morning. Not bad for someone as old as Adam, he thought, but not great for selling spam, which is what blogging seems to be all about these days. You blog, and one second later you receive a spam comment that begins: "I reely luv a yu blog. You genius. You would like maybe to buy feeefty pounz concrete?"

If The Great Plotnik really wants to sell concrete, he's going to have to figure out how to make people want to look at his hairy chest barely covered by fig leaves, or perhaps grape leaves, mmmmm, stuffed grape leaves with pine nuts and feta cheese and sun dried tomatoes, mmmmm. Add a Cuban chicken, strategically placed, and a glass of Valpolicella.

Mmmm, Plotnik, you genius. I really love a yu blog. You want to buy feefty pounz Cuban chicken?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Plotnik's Ukelele

Plotnik's Ukelele
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
The Great Plotnik has a meaningful birthday coming up, one of those monsters that ends in Zero. He is once again considering his own mortality. This is not the first time the subject has crossed his mind. It happens every year. OK, every month.

He hopes his beloved Writer's Group will continue to bring his ukelele case to meetings, and place it between The Great Willnik and The Great Wallacenik, as in the photo above. Not that a Big Birthday with a 0 on the end of it is a signal of the demise of life, or the slipping away of time, or the beginning of the houseslipper shuffle, or, you know, cruises to Ensenada or anything like that.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Song about Kitty's Wedding

Dad and Bride
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
The father walks his daughter up the gravel path by the sea. In a few minutes she is to be married, but for these 200 steps she is still his, if she ever was, if any daughter through time has ever really belonged to any father.

The Great Plotnik aims his camera at the empty spot above the ocean, between two small mounds of sea grass, and as the dad and daughter walk into the frame, the shutter snaps. Five seconds later the space is blank again, save for the ocean, and the grass, and the sky and the clouds.

If The Great Plotnik were to write a song about Kitty's Wedding, he would write about this moment, when John's arm was Kitty's link to the future. She couldn't move on without him, and he felt good to have his part to play.

In the end, it's always about moments like these. What comes before, what comes after, the convoluted reasons humans behave as we do, become distilled into frames by the sea. Later on, we look into these frames and try to remember what we were thinking about, what the weather was like, was the cake chocolate or olallie berry?

But all we'll see is a very beautiful bride and her smiling dad, and the ocean beyond. It's still 5:15PM, Saturday, September 17. It's breezy. The air smells of salt and sage.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Bless Her Heart

There was a comedian on the radio who was from New Orleans. She said 'you can insult anybody, say any danged thing about them you like, as long as you close the sentence with 'bless her heart,' such as "She must be 150 pounds overweight, bless her heart."

The Great Plotnik just got back from the Department of Motor Vehicles, where he sat on the hard bench next to a man with a cane who never stopped yelling "This is Bulls___!" He was right, but he was a drunken fool, bless his heart.

Plotnik's weekly ball game earlier this morning was no fun either. For the second week in a row he was stuck on a team of people who knew only how to argue. Every shot, every layup, every dribble led to an argument and then another argument. It was like being stuck in a sauna with Johnny Cochran, bless his heart.

Still, when Plotnik got home, the bagels were hot, the cream cheese thick, the tomatoes ripe. Later today, an old friend is getting married. Life is good, very very good. Still, as he writes these words, The Great Plotnik spits over his right shoulder to ward off the evil eye, with a smile towards Grammie Plotnik who taught him how the world really works. Bless her heart.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Fat But No Fatter

It being History Friday, it is good to observe that nature has natural limits. The great Norman and Tudor Kings of England could eat as much and as often as they liked, but they couldn't get any wider than these stone walls in the Tower of London. We cannot know exactly how much Henry VIII weighed, but we can be sure he was was able to center himself on this bench when he strolled in for a pleasant morning's deliberations.

The wooden planks have been worn smooth. The hole is nicely beveled. The graffiti that various Kings must surely have scrawled upon the stone walls --"For A Good Time Call Guinevere" -- has disappeared.

It is said that the task of gathering the Royal Poop fell not to a servant, but to a Duke who had fallen out of favor. The Great Plotnik asks you to think about that when filling out your next job resume.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Four Stars Plus Parking

The Plotniks and Mushniks saw 'Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress' yesterday at an old fashioned family movie house in the western section of Saint Plotniko. The French movie was in Chinese with English subtitles, the theater is named after the first Spanish explorer to stick his toes in the Pacific Ocean, and the neighborhood is today populated by thousands of folks from the other side of that ocean.

While The Great Plotnik fixed on the Shanghai Dumpling House, Mrs. Mushnik invoked her parking karma and the Plotmobile settled into a spot fifty feet from the theater. This, in and of itself, is remarkable, but the film was even more remarkable.

Those who had read the book, which probably included most of the dozen people watching the movie, were ready for a huge letdown, which is usually what happens when romances are Hollywoodized. Worse yet, the film was French, so they were required to add several more layers of maudlin to the original ending. Amazingly, however, the tacked-on new ending, though tres, tres lagrimeuse, didn't kill the story -- in fact, it gave everyone something extra to think about afterwards.

The seamstress was lovely. Her grandfather could make anchors out of thread. The musician got a lot of mileage out of one string. Sadly, the Shanghai Dumpling House was closed, which knocks the rating down half a star.

The Great Plotnik Film Division awards 'Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress' Four Stars plus an Extra Half Star for Meritorious Parking.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Great BeeziWeezi

The Great BeeziWeezi
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
Guess who's birthday it is today? (hint: it's not the one with the pointy ears.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

SBC Park

SBC Park
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
The 'SBC' in SBC Park stands for 'Silly Braindead Caribbeans.' The Braindead Caribbeans are Saint Plotniko's favorite sports team that doesn't play football. As readers of The Great Plotnik already know, Plotnik does not care for the Braindead Caribbeans, but is a life long fan of their ancient enemy The Stiletto City Plotzers.

It is with some difficulty, therefore, that Plotnik finds himself in the unaccustomed and slightly nauseating position of being forced to root FOR the Braindead Caribbeans in their crucial series with the current league leaders, the Saint Patooty Piffles.

Last night's game, played at SBC Stadium (seen in above photo), featured the return of Carib star slugger Booty Benz. In the photo, we can see Benz rounding third (wearing black shirt and blue pants) while his mother (wearing orange blouse) waits in back of home plate to give him a hug.

For The Great Plotnik, rooting for the Braindead Caribbeans is like praying for gum surgery. Still, he will root the Caribs on, while also rooting for his Plotzers, again tonight, and tomorrow afternoon, and the following week as well.

This does NOT apply to Thursday through Sunday this week, however, no absolutely shmooty booty way, uh uh, no siree. The Fat lady may have already begun to sing (see Sept. 6 entry), but she may pause for a Plotzer Dog with sauerkraut.

Monday, September 12, 2005

An Extra Star for the Unagi

O Ramen
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
O o o o is Oyaji Ramen ever good. Since he began studying Japanese, The Great Plotnik has made it a point to seek the perfect ramen in Saint Plotniko. It is also true that he has sought the perfect ribs in Georgia, the perfect pastrami in New York, the perfect taco in Stiletto City, the perfect pide in Istanbul, the perfect prawn in Cape Town and the perfect aji in Cuzco, but that probably had more to do with how hungry he was at the time.

Ramen is different. Ramens tend to taste like each other, except in the rare occasions where they have been touched by the Broth Fairy. Thanks to Beburee-san and Sheem-san, Plotnik and Ducknik have now partaken of Oyaji Ramen, just gingery enough, with just enough noodles, just enough char shu and with the addition of shavings of garlic on top.

Not to slight Daikokuya in Stiletto City, but that's there and this is here. The Great Plotnik Restaurant Division awards Oyaji Ramen 4 Stars with an extra Star for the Unagi.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Travel Sunday: Singapore Windows

Singapore Windows
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
These windows grace the second floor of a line of buildings in the Little India District of Singapore. Only a fraction of the originally sizeable neighborhood remains, since much of the island has been bulldozed for high rise development. But these streets still maintain their centuries-old feel, largely because prostitutes have traditionally used them to ply their trade. This was necessary because the ultra-conservative-ethnically-Chinese Singaporean government would not tolerate vice anywhere except in another ethnic group’s locale.

When you walk in Little India during the day the smells of curries, spices and ripe fruit predominate. At night, women stand in doorways or sit in windows wearing white, gauzy clothing. No one solicits – perhaps you have to know the secret handshake.

Most Singaporean Indians came from Bengal – so they eat Southern Indian food. In restaurants you sit down and are served on a banana leaf with no utensils. You must eat with your right hand. Or is it your left hand? You must taste everything. But that’s easy to do, for the portions are small and selection huge. Mmmmm, masala dosa. Mmmmmm, idli and pasam.

Perhaps the most wonderful dish in Singaporean Indian cuisine is paratha -- the breakfast of Kings. You sit in an outdoor café in the already numbing morning heat, and are served enormous crepe-like parathas, grilled from a layered egg batter on a stone griddle five feet in diameter, and then rolled up into a scroll. You dip your parathas in a bowl of curry sauce and drink hot, sweet coffee enriched with condensed milk. The rest of the day is taken up waiting for the following morning’s sumptuous breakfast of more parathas, more curry and more hot, sweet coffee.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
The Great Plotnik's game of plotzketball has been going on weekly for more than 20 years at James Plotz Middle School. Most of the players are between 30 and 40 and between 5' 8" and 6' 3". Weight is another matter -- the game has a few large S.U.V.s, some tractor trailers and a mumbo jumbo or two. Still, as in most long lasting pickup games, no one is too big, no one is too small, no one is too old, no one is too young, and, most of all, no one is too good.

Until this morning. One of the players brought along a High School Junior he has been coaching. The kid is 6' 9" and has long arms and huge hands. Worse, he has been schooled. He's very good already, miles and miles out of the class of any of the James Plotz plotzketballers. Worse yet, he's only 17 years old.

So what happened? The team with him on it realized the advantage they had. Everytime they came down the court they threw the ball high up in the air, and the kid jumped up, caught it, held it in one hand a mile over everyone's head, and then turned around and laid it in the basket. On defense, everytime the other team tried to shoot, the kid would stick up his long arms, block the shot and catch it in his other hand.

You can teach everything in plotzketball, but you can't teach height. It points out the wisdom of the famous quote by Magic Johnson, when he was describing the best way to play defense: "Stay low, bend your knees, and when you straighten up make sure you're 6' 10".

Friday, September 09, 2005

Macapuno Rapture

Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
The Great Plotnik has recently heard people talking about The Rapture, which sounds OK all by itself, but these same people can never refrain from pointing out that The Rapture only follows death, destruction, flames from Heaven, volcanoes, typhoons, floods, huge fiery crevasses opening in the earth and multiple appearances of three-headed Brian Johnsons.

Would you like to know about rapture? Rapture, with no preconditions and no repercussions? Rapture with a spoon? See center of above photo.

Those interested in the Plotnikkie religion will be delighted to realize that Reformed, Conservative and Orthodox Plotnikkies ALL accept the appearance of a half gallon of Macapuno as proof of the divine. The only difference is that Reformed Plotnikkies always go early so they don't have to line up around the corner, while Conservative Plotnikkies enjoy it more if they can wait in line at least two hours. Orthodox Plotnikkies insist on the long line, plus they have to ask for it in Plotnish (Hef Gallon Mach-a-Plotznicchh), AND they are required to eat it from right to left.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

152 Seasons

On August 29, The Great Plotnik wrote about baseball, and again on September 6. Between innings, a world class disaster befell America's vibiest and most unique city. Plotnik and his fellow citizens wrote and thought about practically nothing else during that time, but, in the end, the baseball season continued, as it does every year from April through October. Coincidentally perhaps, October also signals the end of hurricane season.

The Great Plotnik's friends all have given and will continue to give to New Orleans's revival, even though they are fans of the Saint Plotniko Braindead Caribbeans, while Plotnik still supports the team of his childhood, the Stiletto City Plotzers.

Baseball is not life, no matter what we all think. In the end, when the Caribbeans blow another late inning lead to the Plotzers, or when the Plotzers fall on their faces in their next series against the despised Saint Patooty Piffles, not much will have really changed. When the games are over, people will file out of the stadium and go drink beer. In real life, not everyone gets to file out of the stadium and there can suddenly be no more beer.

Outside the stadium, out in America, we still have a large class of powerless citizens without the means to even get out of the rain. What does this say about us? It has been 152 years since the end of slavery. 152 years! We can't say we haven't had enough time. We can't say we were busy at the ball game. And if we've seen five minutes of TV in the past week, we can no longer say we didn't know.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Fat Lady has Begun to Sing

The tummy's jigglin'
The torso's wigglin'
The transfat's congealin'
The cellulite's squealin'
The thighs are floppin'
The chins are ploppin'
Her shape's as slinky
as a deep fried Twinkie.

The Fat Lady has begun to sing.

The Stiletto Plotzers dropped three straight to the Mile High Mediocres and now have kicked away the first of three to the Saint Plotniko Braindead Caribbeans.

Her mouth is open
There's no more hopin'
The only fix
is 2006.

The Fat Lady sings like Jose Canseco.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Po Boy and the Groove

Po Boy
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
Last night, The Great Plotnik dreamt about the New Orleans Shuffle. He was eating an oyster po' boy, on a stage somewhere, playing in a band, when his turn to solo came up. He put down the po' boy and began playing a chorus of 12-bar blues, then another, then another, then another. Usually the dream cuts out before he can really get going, but last night he was allowed to play as long as he felt like it, in a New Orleans shuffle with the most comfortable and swinging groove. When he left a little space, the horns filled it in. At the end of every 12th bar the drums played the transition into Bar One of the next section. Whoever was playing bass knew Plotnik's fingerprints. It felt so good Plotnik never wanted to stop, but to do that he'd have had to keep dreaming.

When he awoke, his fingers were still twitching and the music was still in his head, where it is right now. He did not have to speak with Doctor Cigar to know the meaning of his dream.

In the end, New Orleans lives on, as strong as ever. The rhythm of the streets, the cries of the trombones, the smells of the river, the garlic, the gumbo and the oyster po' boys, the blare of the trumpets and the blood of the nation, live on. No puny little rain can stop it, no flood and no dislocation, as long as its groove cuts us as deeply as it always did, always does and always will.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Second Lines in the Third World

Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.

The Great Plotnik wonders what he would have done if the government had told him to abandon his house, but none of his neighbors were abandoning theirs? What if he had nowhere to go? And what if he had no way to get there, even if he had?

And what if the same government had advised him to evacuate his house several times before and things had never really panned out like they'd said?

And what if the only thing he really had in the world was his little house and his little family and his buddy with the tuba marked 'Rebirth,' who marched the Second Line with him at every family affair?

He'd have stayed put, that's what. Damned straight, just like rice sharecroppers in Bangladesh. Where else would he go?

Everyone in high places had seen the studies. They knew that if the levees burst, at least 100,000 people would act in precisely this way, because they always do. So if the city were flooded, there would have to be some way to deal with all these people afterwards.

The Great Plotnik is no expert on human affairs, but he can promise you that if these 100,000 people had been prosperous, there would have been a plan in place. An hour after the first levee fell, there would have been choppers in the sky, rescue boats in the sea and seaplanes in the bayous. There would have been airborne medevacs and representatives from Allstate and local restaurants would have catered the welcome rooms in Hilton Head.

What galls The Great Plotnik is not the above, because it is the same in every country in the world: the wealthy have more tools.

What galls him is that most Americans don't realize that New Orleans did not just become a third world country. Parts of this grand city have been crying out from the third world for a long time. It's also true of Chicago and Los Angeles and Miami and every other large city in America. Kids don't go to school, gangs create all commerce and color divides all but the most spectacularly capable.

The newscasters continue to spout about a breakdown of humanity. The only breakdown Plotnik has seen comes from a government of privelege who gave up on its needy long ago.

Remember this too: the man's tuba says 'Rebirth.' It is a stone cold fact that the day the streets of New Orleans are clear the Second Lines will tune up and march again. The Great Plotnik hopes to be marching with them.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Three Stars with Half an Ambien

Once, on a long-ago and faraway planet, The Great Plotnik was a film reviewer. Several times a week he would get to lounge with all the other reviewers in plush screening rooms, on comfy seats, and watch endless variations of three themes: boy-gets-girl, girl-gets-ape, dog-dies-child-cries. Later another variation cropped up: machine-bad-human-good.

It became clear very early that because we saw so much last-week's broccoli, the only way a film could jump out at us was to be totally different, unique, outlandish. It didn't matter it if was a good film or a bad film, perfectly executed or with more fatal flaws than a banana Blimpie, if it was different, critics loved it. It stood out. That was enough.

Which brings me to 'The Overcoat,' currently running at A.C.T. Theater, which Mush loved, which Ducknik loved, which all the critics loved, except for one, and you can Guess Who. (Plotnik, in his new life on his new planet, now reviews theater.) 'The Overcoat' could be called ballet, or symphonic musings, or even wordless theater, and it is certainly unique. It stands out.

ZZZZZZZZZZZ, snored Plotnik. Well, no he didn't, because reviewers don't snore, they keep leaning forward, trying to figure out where this bird is going to land. It reminded Plotnik of being in Africa and following, with binoculars, a leopard that was staking out his antelope lunch. That leopard moved very slowly through the veldt - slowww - stalking - sloooowww - I see him - you see him -- ooooh he's beautiful -- what a gorgeous purple coat - isn't that a gorgeous purple coat? my, what a gorgeous purple coat -- oh look, what's he going to do now? - oh, just - more stalking -- sloooowww --

One thing Plotnik knew from the get-go was that, wherever branch of theater the show chose to land in, the critics would laud it, love it, want to marry it, want to have its babies. That is certainly what has happened. Proceed with caution, however, theater lovers. It's very good, but try as they might, The Great Plotnik Theater Department is unable to award 'The Overcoat' more than Three Stars with half an Ambien.