Home Away From Home

I’m the only one left in my family that actually lives in New York and though I understand the clarion call of, y’know, “the possibility of success and happiness” I’m just bummed that I’m the only one left. It may all change in the coming months and years, but as for now, my family’s gone. It’s not a bad thing, it just is what it is.

And, the thing is, if I was doing what I’m doing now in any smaller town, just about anywhere in the country, I’d be a phenomenal success. If my writing partners and I were living in Pittsburgh or Toledo or whatever, then the shows we’re putting on would be responded to. As a matter of fact, if this latest Fringe Festival proved anything, we’d probably have as good a chance or better if we were producing musicals in the middle of America of getting them seen in a New York venue.

And there’s a part of me that would love that. I’d love to be like my dad, the most famous musician in all of Cedar Rapids Iowa. I’m not being remotely ironic or snotty here, I really want that. And my whole family is on the west coast now, AGAIN, as there seems to be a constant shift from one coast to another. The theater community is booming in the valleys of southern Cali, and if I moved the company, lock stock and barrel, to Napa, I’d have an enormous support system already in place.

And if I was in one of these places, I could develop a show over the course of months instead of weeks. The truth is that we’ve developed an arsenal of theater pieces that would cover us for the first two years of shows. We choose two established plays and put them up with two-three pieces we’ve already developed and the first two seasons are taken care of. Rehearsal space would be a fraction, the shows could run for the same length of time they do here, except they would be well-attended, and you can’t convince me that the audiences in San Francisco are less educated than the idiots on our audience here…

So, why do we stay? Why wouldn’t we follow the exodus to a place that makes more sense.

I can’t describe it, but it’s the city itself. It’s the very sense that what you do here doesn’t make a mark on the greatness of this place. The towers went up, the towers went down, and it didn’t change New York. Disney moves in and, eventually, Disney will move out. The crack whores will be replaced by some other kind of whores, but New York hasn’t changed. There are surface alterations, but this is still the center of the universe.

I live in Astoria now, and I don’t get in to the city unless something forces me in, but I still go in at least three days a week. When you get out of the subway at 47th street, when the rains come in mid-September, when April hits and you can smell the thaw…

We won’t leave this city. We have no loyalty to her, and god knows this city could give a flying shit about us. We stay here because we love the city, like the way you love an opera or a girlfriend or a book. I’m the worst romantic I know, and I love the city the way I love old recordings, the way I love a great friend’s great idea. I love the city in the way only a convert can love God. Every day, this is where I want to wake up, and when I’m on vacation I want to come home. This isn’t where I started, and I can’t say that New York is my home, but I didn’t know who I was until I was myself here, and it really doesn’t matter how much better aspects of my life would be somewhere else, that life wouldn’t be lived here.