HAiR, USA, New Jersey, Red Bank, Phoenix Productions, Sat., Sept. 9, 2006 CE


In short, hats off to Director Anthony D’Amato. Well, done young man. And how lucky you must feel to have scored such an attractive and talented cast, … an attractive and talented “Tribe.” I intend to see Phoenix HAiR again, and, yes, it passed muster, so indeed I would recommend this HAiR to others. These guys, they give good HAiR.Â

Now, it’s 3:05 in the AM as I type, post-HAiR-opening-night, so, I’m making this brief (so I can crash, contentedly). My Red Bank HAiR experience I’d describe as, well, a joy.Â

And, get this, I realize I’ve met this guy, the director, this Anthony D’Amato before. Saw him in the Rocky Horror Show, Fast Lanes, Asbury Park. Afterwards, we talked about HAiR! I’m proud of the work of this local boy in creating such quality HAiR as I had the privilege to witness this evening just past.

And yadda, yadda, yadda, … (You get the point). Main thing is, I liked the show. I give a thumb up! As an American Studies academic project, yeah, I’d give ’em an “A” (not an “A+,” mind you, but an “A,” all the same. I’m going to see more of their staging before their run ends. I have a hunch they will approach that “A+.” I wish them well. Break a leg! Peace (and all that jazz : ), –Tioga (Lee Joseph deTioga Livingstone Smith, aka Tioga Joe, Washitaw Tribe HAiR, Northeast Louisiana, 1974, and “Cyber Tribe” since, what, 1997 … -ish? [ … and yeah, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah, and so what?] )


Okay, he’s getting cranky. He needs to go to bed and go to sleep. Hell, it’s 3:35! Sun’s comin’ up soon. In the meantime, “Look at the moon! Look at the moon!”

Later, Dudes and Dudettes,





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2 Responses to “HAiR, USA, New Jersey, Red Bank, Phoenix Productions, Sat., Sept. 9, 2006 CE”

  1. Anthony D'Amato said:

    My man Tioga Joe:

    You are are incredible soul: there has obviously been a calling for us to get close and work together for many years. It can only be a sign that we’ve been meeting on and off for the past 5 years, and to finally meet again at dinner and share this weekend!! You are most certainly a member of the Phoenix Tribe, and along with everyone else that joined you on opening night, you are a huge part of my heart.

    — Thank you for BOTH of your posts. I am so, so, so blessed and honored to share this experience with you.

  2. Tioga Joe said:

    I’m with you.

    Let’s do it.

    Your HAIR warrants many more runs.

    In the meantime, here’s some notes from your Military Advisor:

    I’m there with you, Nina (refer to her reply to Michael Butler’s posting about “HAIR, RED Bank, NJ”), backing every word and imagining even more words to our singing of praise of a true PHOENIX with HAIR, the magnificent HAIR of Anthony D’Amato and Company (and TRIBE), staged at the historic Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Monmouth County [there’s also one in Gloucester County, it seems), Noo Joisey, USofA (and as coined in New Jersey, “Born in the USA.”):

    Me? Well, at the moment (11:45AM EDT, Monday, 09.11.2006CE), at home (“Down the [Jersey] Shore” — OG/AP, NJ, USA) [and if you have to ask the question, if you haven’t figured it out yet, the answer is … “Yes”], I’m groovin’ to the sounds (on CD) of the Original Israel Cast of HAIR (2002 NMC Music Ltd. ISRAEL), and I’m trying to keep from crying, as the sweetest soprano starts singing in “Flesh Failures” (it was either Zvika Pick or Margalit Ankori; since my reading of Hebrew is extremely limited, my reading of the liner notes [written in Hebrew] is extremely limited, which, BTW (and we’re still talking about the liner notes here), opens and reads … in the Hebrew Way (as does the CD case! It’s funny the first time you try to open it your regular way — it opens backwards! At least “backwards” to all us Goyim out there! : ) … “Oy vey, Wot’s a mudder to do?” —

    [Oh, oh, Anthony. On a side note: I missed that “Oy vey!” I heard the “What’s a mother to do?” It sure as hell ain’t necessary, but I DO get a kick out of hearing it — particularly, it would be fitting with your HAIR, with your having that superb “Mom” character your Tribe kicked up — the “Mom” in the green coat doing the Jewish-mother schtick. She did it superbly. I saw in her, rather, she brought to my mind) my son’s “bobi” (pronounced “bubby” and it’s Yiddish for grandma). Yes, perhaps shes’ a caricature, emphasizing stereotypes, but damned if it ain’t well-grounded into reality! And, I’m sure, rather than being offensive to, … say, … Jews in general, I’d wager, dear Anthony, that your [Jewish] “Mom’s” presentation would (should) be found endearing to any who have ever had a “Jewish Mother” in their lives. Good call, Phoenix Tribe.

    [Which brings me to another point, dear Athony, what IS the name of your Red Bank HAIR Tribe? Have you claimed one? If you have, I’ve missed any mentioning thereof (chalk it up to ADD, PTSD, and perhaps one more three-letter … Initial). Who shall we know and call you by (your Tribe, that is)? “Phoenix” would give a nod to your production company, but it might too easily mislead readers into thinking your Tribe’s stomping grounds are in central Arizona rather than a mere commuter’s distance in Jersey from the Big Apple. “Red Bank” is … well, … okay, but …. I’m thinking, … what about … “Navesink” — the Navesink Tribe. What else would the Indians have called themselve who once lived along the RED BANK on the Navesink River? White guys surely named the river for the red guys already living on the land (yeah, the land the white guys would steal from the red guys, and then to protect it would send off the black guys to kill off the yellow guys, right?)

    Anyhoo, who really cares what you’re called? You (THAT Tribe) are still … cool as hell.]

    Oh, Nina, thanks for mentioning their “Hippie Life.” Oh, so SHE is the “Jet Dragon” I saw listed in the cast! She was SO perfect for leading that song! I instantly fell in love with her, imagiing that actress is really that Earth goddess she depicted singing that song. And, yes, the song’s placement (as was the movement and sound on stage that led to it) was perfect! It was snuck right in and very naturally, most fluidly grooved into the full blossoming of the song. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I have ever witnessed this newer HAIR song, where it didn’t FEEL like it was merely a plugging-in somewhere (almost obligatorily) of this new song, to keep up with the updating of HAIR. Here, in Red Bank, it happened. It worked. It was a natural fit, it didn’t jar me (like the first time you heard the new songs added to Jesus Christ Superstar [“Could We Start Again, Please”] and Godspell [“Beautiful City”]. Jim, Jim Rado, I think Anthony did your work good. I felt, at his HAIR, “Hippie Life” has truly been welcomed into the home of HAIR. Cheers!

    Hi, Natalie. I was honored by your company Saturday night. Thanks. And, you know, I’d have to admit, “Natasha” does come to mind at times! : ) Maybe I see as you that svelte black-haired beauty who used to hang around bad-guy Boris thwarting the good-guy efforts of Bullwinkle Moose and Rocky Squirrel. Maybe. : )

    Anyway, Natalie, that Israeli Cast album? THAT is why I now opt for “CE” (or “Common Era”) over “AD” (or “Anno Domini” or “In the year of The Lord”) (as per our earlier discussion).

    I forgot to mention. Their HAIR (the Israelis’) is sung entirely in Hebrew! (‘cept apparently “Gliddy glup gloopy” looses very little in translation! : )

    As I feel confident that Anthony D’Amato’s HAIR is an effective interpreter (in the history museum sense) of HAIR in THIS neck of the woods, so must I imagine was/is the Israeli HAIR. They WILL infect others in the Middle East with the HAIR virus, the move towards peace. I yearn for the success of HAIR in Arabic dialects. The HAIR pen is one mighty sword. Peace will come. Let it begin with me. (Yadda, yadda, yadda)

    And, that, my dear ‘Tasha, Natasha, the incomparable Natalie, is why I yield to the more inclusive “CE” in my datings. We have powerfully effective HAIR Tribers in Israel. They live in my same time, but they might not be so inclined to pay homage to a Lord not of their choosing. To stand adamant to the use of “AD” reflects a sense of superiority over all other faiths (and “counter” faiths). MY tribe is larger than the one delineated by ascribers to the Jesus solution (and I’m a baptised Southern Baptist, BTW, about as hard-core, Fundamentally Christian as you can get; and I paid attention in Sunday School, so I’m not talking out of my ass about this). ‘Twon’t refute it’s validity (Christianity’s), but neither will I refute the validity of other defined “Ways.” ‘Twon’t also deny the blatant Jesus references in HAIR — there’s a VERY Christian thing going on. But that would be the family background of Bukowski and Berger (and certainly Woof!) A lot of very-Christian boys lost their religion on the battlefields of Vietnam (they saw themselves doing anything BUT “doing God’s work”). Time transcends the politics of religion. “Common Era” acknowledges that.

    Which brings me to “Beefy” (that statement above about the GIs in Vietnam), “Brother Beefy,” the Navasink Tribe’s VVAW-representative character (that’s Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc.), nicely (and appropriately [IMHO] understatedly) portrayed by Jay Giberson (who was also John Wilkes Booth, and the gung-ho Army recruiter admonishing the hippies that they ought be sent to “the Vietnam meat-grinder”). I particularly like this character, Bro’ Beefy. Historically, the ORGANIZED Peace/Anti-War Movement was begining a nose-dive as the Sixties began turning into the Seventies, this due in part to inner turmoil among the organizers, such as Sheila Franklin’s beloved SDS (Students for a Democratic Society). The resurgance came with the influx of Vietnam Veterans, home from the war, speaking against the war with the clout of first-hand experience with the war itself. Operation Dewey Canyon III in Washington, DC, and Operation RAW (Rapid American Withdrawal), the march of VVAWers through New Jersey, following General Washington’s line of march to Valley Forge, where the “Winter Soldiers” stayed on to fight (in the absence of “the sunshine soldiers” who’d split long ago), these were shots heard ’round the world announcing this new and strong voice on the stage, the anti-war WARRIORS. The VVAWers called themselves “The New Winter Soldiers,” the modern era American citizen-soldiers who will continue to fight for the ideals of the American Revolution, only with the absence of guns — hence the symbolism of their breaking their rifles and throwing their medals back to the White House — “Ain’t gonna study war no more / Ain’t gonna study war no more.”

    This, I see in “Beefy.” And Claude would have had more conversations with him (about the War) than Brandon’s characterization of him has projected thus far (tho’ I sense Brandon’s on the threshold of truly embracing “Claude”). Claude [this is my unsolicited two-cents worth to Brandon Straka], no doubt, has even MORE trepidation about accepting his assigned induction into the American Armed Forces, since his encounters with this vet, going by the handle of “Brother Beefy.”

    Here is the combat veteran home from the war. He probably was a volunteer (like Ron Kovic, Viet vet author of the autobiographical “Born on the Fourth of July”), gung-ho like John Wayne in “The Sands of Iwo Jima,” wanting truly to “kill Commies for Christ” and happily use hippies as cannon fodder for his noble mission. But, like Kovic, Brother Beefy changed. He witnessed (and no doubt did) shit that was NOT part of the plan he’d bargained for. This was NOT a noble cause. This shit, this Vietnam War was FAR from noble. There’s stuff about it that’s just plain WRONG. And while it’s going on, our BROTHERS are being blown away coming and going. Ain’t fair. Ain’t fair. Ain’t fair. I don’t want to talk about it.

    THAT’s the mind of Brother Beefy that he shares with Claude. And Claude pays attention, because he feels like he’s got this [Fundamentalist, Southern Baptist-style] “calling” to comply with the Draft and probably be sent off to … yeah, that “Vietnam Meat-Grinder.” And Beefy must be at odds about his feelings about Tribe leader Claude going off to war. Beefy KNOWS the horrible shit Claude’s going to have to face with war. He also knows that coming back home to America after war duty ain’t going to be no piece of cake for Claude, either (Beefy KNOWS he fell in with a RARE “gaggle” of hippies — these guys not only welcomed him, they encourage his BEING a Vietnam veteran, sporting the colors — the vest from a fatigue shirt with sleeves ripped off, the headband in lieu of a helmet or even a “boonie cap,” the aviator-framed sunglasses, typical of helicopter air crews (Beefy may well have been a Crew Chief on a Huey, serving as door gunner), but he does also wear colors that endear him to the Tribe, and for which they respect him, the colors of the VVAW (MACV means Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. General Wesmoreland wore the MACV patch on his shirt sleeve. Take that patch, remove the upturned sword of war, and replace it with the downturned rifle, planted in the ground with its fixed bayonet, with a helmet resting atop in on its shoulder butt — the universal symbol of “the fallen soldier,” the honored, yet too often unnecessary product of war. But Beefy also respects Claude’s leaning towards going. He sees in this part of Claude a little of that part of him that caused him to volunteer, to enlist, that … noble cause. Beefy respects Claude’s nobility. He believes Claude WILL go to Nam. But he hopes beyond hope that Claude will make it back alive. He’s had enough hurt, loosing brothers in that “dirty Asian war.” He doesn’t want to loose his new “brother,” Claude.

    And this is why he spontaneously takes off his dog tags he’s worn all along, and gives them to Claude. Those dog tags got Beefy through Nam alive. Perhaps they can help bring Claude home alive, as well. When Brandon (as Claude) looked at the dog tags he was so surprised to find in his hands, I didn’t see so much his bonding with Beefy, as I saw the look of a GI in Nam, looking at the dog tags in his hand, that he’d just taken from the body of his best friend in Nam, the brother who’d crossed the protective boundaries into friendship, the brother who helped him through the insanity that was now their lot in life. Now, KIA in RVN (Killed In Action in the Republic of Vietnam, a name on The Wall in Wasington). Surely, when Claude bought the farm in Vietnam, there was a “brother” who wished he had the time to cry as he held in his hands the dog tags of his beloved comrade in arms, now The Fallen Soldier, Claude Hooper Bukowski of Flushing, New York. Claude’s look (Brandon’s look), to me, was a forshadowing of Claude’s own fate. THAT was why he was lost to expressing any gratitude or understanding of Beefy’s gesture. Any notion to do so was upstaged with Claude’s seeing his own demise. And wondering, would someone care about the name on the dog tags they pulled from his lifeless body? Would his death have … the right … meaning? Well played, Brandon. Well played. Your Claude is coming more alive to me.

    Anyway, this has been Tioga Joe’s impression (a valuing thereof) of the Navasink Tribe’s Triber called “Brother Beefy,” the representative Vietnam-vet Tribe-member character.

    And, as I understand, Jay Giberson came into the role (and into the play) only TWO WEEKS before opening night! Not bad, my man. Not bad.

    BTW, I did also dig some other identifiable (at least in MY mind) Sixties (and Seventies) icons. There was (as I called him) “That ‘Seventies Show’ Guy.” There was “Bruce Springsteen Guy.” And there was Anthony himself doing, well, I saw it as a “Wavy Gravy Guy” doing the kind of hosterly stuff Wavy Gravy did at Woodstock ’69.

    And yes, Nina, Anthony sang like an angel with “What a Piece of Work Is Man?” I believe Walter Michael Harris would be proud. I was surprised by the clarity of Anthony’s almost-falsetto, almost castradi-like tenor. Anthony, it was beautiful. And you were NOT Wavy Gravy then. Maybe you were the big Mother Bird in Claude and Berger’s Tribe. A sense of the sadness that oft must accompany unconditional love came through. It IS your heart, Anthony, that cries out, “Why must they try to end this beauty? Why must they try to end this beauty?”

    With apologies to Mister Butler (and you, dear reader) if I went over any generally accepted limits of words and space here — but, that’s just what HAIR tends to do to me. Oh, that Hippie Life! : )

    Erratically yours,
    Doktor Verbose

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