May 2005  | This Issue

Claudine Jones

Ergonomic Sock Drawer

etting used to this new keyboard from which no one ever will sense the sheer volume of backspace keystrokes; RSI-proof, however—which is the whole ballgame these days—and not too pricey.   Pretty fair skilled at shopping the internet & avoiding sleazebags sellers. So I am one step closer to the organizational nirvana not only of my work space, but my brain as well.

If you ever watched Queer Eye, you know that rolling your clothing up into little bundles is the way to systematize your t-shirts & sweaters & underwear, etc., but did you ever think that might apply to your wits, too? See here’s the thing: when you’re young and foolish, you fling away the tight little rules set by your mum & live like you will never one day want to find one specific thing until it drives you mad searching.  Then it’s too late—entropy has got you. There’s music to learn, lines to run, choreography to practice & no time for hardwiring the methods she says she invented at 16 because she was near-sighted and wouldn’t have survived otherwise.  No, in the grand tradition of generation-skipping, mother has (she says) no acting or singing abilities, yet she does a bit in your son’s student film like a natural and that’s her voice on the tape your dad made of us all singing Christmas carols & it sounds like you.  Your youngest son ticked off the items on his packing list for school trips with a pencil & made his own bed.   

Does the correlation however, hold any water when she says she never could do what you do up there onstage?  Underneath that statement lies the other meaning—she hasn’t the desire to do it. Couldn’t pass her life that way. The people are a mystery; worse yet, they’re a mad pastiche of conflicting passions, unbalanced, ungrounded—unorganized.In those ‘backstage’ scenes of adolescence, you’ve flung yourself in a heap during the entr’acte and someone kind or even a bit spiky hangs up your clothing & hands you things & takes care of you since you are an artist.  Then you’re going to drink too much, or choose somebody unsteady as a life-partner or skip having babies cause they’re trouble.  

My personal sock drawer goes back longer in history than it ought: what use is it to sport thin pale blue hose with barely any threads in the bottom of the heels when there are dozens of neat fat rolled up mates with years more wear, right cozy next to them. They should be out there on the pyre with 1 female 8-10, 18-25, 20-35, 30-40.

The People’s Temple [sic] to distinguish the performance piece from Peoples Temple

I got my invite to the opening at Berkeley Rep of this world premiere work by a collaboration of many, including Leigh Fondakowski of the Laramie Project, and noticed right away in big bold letters: seats are going to fill up so rsvp your butt over here fast.  Of course—Berkeley is right across the Bay from the long defunct offices of Jim Jones in San Francisco. Those of us old enough will never forget November ’78 the same way people around here don’t have to explain it when you say ‘The Big One’.  We lost some folks here; we lost Mayor Moscone & Harvey Milk & over there, we lost a lot of babies.

Velina Brown, Margo Hall & Greg Pierotti. Photo: David Allen

What a hair-raising concept:  you’ve lived your life, such as it is and then it ends abruptly & all that is left of you is in a cardboard banker’s box in a sort of sanctified building with a lot of other identical boxes.  Keepsakes or letters; a few pictures and some clothes—your face smiles goofily out from a photo taken long before you had an idea that you might end badly.  The sound of your voice is gone, but somebody on a stage is speaking words you yourself spoke while you were in love or in pain, but still living & breathing.  You might have said ‘no’ but unless you got out early, you were trapped.  On the outside and amongst the audience of the world, you seemed foolish and just handed your life over.  All the faith rose up and away, disappearing above the settlement & beyond comprehension for the discoverers of your body.

 Working, A Musical

Over at Actors Ensemble of Berkeley, Studs Terkel’s book gets a going over & songs added by such composers as James Taylor and Stephen Schwartz using the text of interviews with the (mostly) blue collar workers. While the book is admirable politically, and the musical mildly punchy in spots, the setting of it is so crazily banal & shallow next to the tragedy of Jonestown, I think I just checked out.  Found myself silently urging the performers to jump off the stage, do a sort of ‘Cradle Will Rock’ thing or some such gesture.  There is ultimately little energy in the substance of the complaints—schools aren’t what they used to be, there’s too much traffic, nobody appreciates housewives—so if I’m supposed to do more than applaud politely at the end of each song, it better engage me un poquito más or it’s gonna be almost 180 degrees from the crusty old spirit of Studs.

Kimberly Chong, Timothy Banks, Sarah McKinney, Edward Pizzini,
Constance Lopez and Scott Alexander. Photo: Christian Carter, David Stein


©2005 Claudine Jones
©2005 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Like an orthopedic soprano, Actor/Singer/Dancer Claudine Jones has worked steadily in Bay Area joints for a number of decades. With her co-conspirator Jaz Bonhooley, she also has developed unique sound designs for local venues. As a filmmaker, she is doing the final cut of YOUR EAR IS IN YOUR NOSE, destined for release next year or whenever her long time technical task wizard Animator Sam Worf gets his head out of his latest render.

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