In yanking a blazer out from under the books, tennis rackets, newspapers and magazines weighing down my car trunk the other day, finally at the dry cleaner, I found a microfine 0.3mm pen: a Pilot G-TEC-C3 rollerball, black. I love this pen. I remember buying it in September at Baker Office Supply in Greenfield. Line like a scalpel pull.
It’s a special purpose pen: not much good for signatures; probably intended to help me sketch, and think. I love office supplies, art supplies, hardware stores. In those moments of browsing, everything’s solvable.
But then, of course, the trunk.
OK, preflight checklist.
-- Roger, running the numbers. Gyros up; all involuntaries normal. I am showing amber on urine. I have that pegged to … 80 percent.
Rog., keep an eye on it, we'll deal inflight.
-- Affirm. Sensors up. I show ceiling, wall. Tactiles online. Temp nominal.
-- Ah, going for external self-check; muscles responding to the stretch. Good, good aaand, good.
-- Skip, I'm showing 90 percent on that urine now. Confirm 90, approaching redline. I would deal with this.
I copy. Will adjust flight plan. Let's just finish the checklist.
-- Rog. Memories responding. Aaand, late for work.
OTHER PERILS AT THE WONKA FACTORY
Insincere child + licking candy windows = defenestrated
Overly athletic child + throwing food = peppermint mallet to noggin
Picky eater + declining a free sample = turned into spinach
Tattletale + tattling = turned into Oompa Loompa
The know-it-all + correcting Wonka = parents audited
Fearful child + refusing boat ride = left behind
The horseplay kids + knocking over display = souls frozen solid
Having to pee + asking where the bathroom is = hour in the centrifuge
The adventurer + running ahead to next exhibit = felled by leopards
Don’t like to read + frowning = turned into book page; ignored
Underachiever + careless with candy wrapper = caramelized pants
In the tradition of Errol George, Godfrey Royal and A.O. Wayne, Douglas Porch is that rare actor who brings a role to life and makes it look not only effortless, but also inevitable. Since its 1968 opening in Brooklyn, “John Snyder,” Herman Hasp’s critically acclaimed realo following a talented, stricken writer with a heart of gold, has had only one leading man ... and 44 seasons later that man is at the top of his game. Art’s Melody Pebbler catches up with Porch on location to learn his hopes — and fears — for the character he illumines, but insists is not himself.
Q: I don’t know whether you remember me; we met once before, at a wedding reception.
A: I do remember you. George and Ankita’s, right? Oakland? You were with a banker.
Q: A stock broker. Yes. I’m flattered you remember. Your memory is said to be photographic; I was testing.
A: That’s what it was? A test? I was hoping you were flirting. [Laughs]
Q: Alas, I married the stock broker.
A: Well, that’s that. Can’t win ‘em all.
Q: You’re in your 45th year of playing John Snyder. When does it end?
A: When should it? This is art...
...I realize the necessity of the question in the context of what’s happened to culture in only the past 30 years or so. Realo was never intended to compete with theater, with television, with the Web. Realo contains those things, as it contains marriage, shopping, crying. Your question, When does it end? presupposes commodification, objectification. "What else is on?" Very distressing. Realo simply is. That’s its universality, its particularity and its beauty. Zen enough for you? [Laughs]
Q: It’s a more defensive answer than I expected. Are you concerned for the future of your art?
A: “Attention must be paid...”
Q: This is Death of a Salesman. Linda Loman…
Q: You don’t find it ironic, resorting to —
A: No. It’s simply the truth. Whether we’re talking about Dustin Hoffman (or Philip Seymour Hoffman, God, that’s genius) as Willy Loman, or Bobby DeNiro as Jake LaMotta, or Douglas Porch as John Snyder, or for chrissakes Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson, you create a life. You tell that story. You live it for as long as the story calls for. In that time you, the actor, are irrelevant. John Snyder is a thing of beauty, as nothing as he is.
Q: By the same token, isn’t Douglas Porch a thing of beauty in his own right? Why privilege John Snyder? What are you sacrificing, and why?
A: What do we sacrifice when performing King Lear? Or kabuki theater? Despite the opportunity cost, the rewards are overwhelmingly compelling. Who cares whether Doug Porch wakes up, showers, punches in on a job? But this [character] is a rare and golden moment of intentionality. What this show achieves in quiet moments transcends the Sistine Chapel, Guernica, jazz. It’s an honor to perform. I will say, I plan to direct 2013. I’m very excited.
Q: By 2011 we’d seen John start to master the trauma of his childhood, and begin to embrace fatherhood, though apparently at the cost of his marriage. What kind of life does John want to live? What do you want for him?
A: We’re tying together most of the loose ends off of the depression arc, and giving John more a sense of permission to meet his own potential. He’d like to pay his own way, make amends with his kids and build out a world of rich fiction. Me, I’d love to see him solve crimes in Monaco. [Laughs]