What’s Up?

Lots of variety onstage the past couple weeks. It was a full theater at Dink Tank at the Movies last Friday. The 2007 film, “The Happening”, was given a deserved shaft by Renegade Theater regulars Evan Kelly and the Bennett Brothers. The goofy flick about killer flora (writer/director M. Night Shyamalan did intend it to be a B movie) meant a little to me because of scenes from Philadelphia, my old stompin’ grounds. Even took us past the dread Three Mile Island stacks, stuck in the Susquehanna outside Harrisburg. Sustained Dink Tank patter concerning Mark Wahlberg’s furrowed brow (brackets?), and Zooey Deschanel’s lookin’ really zooey helped carry us to the unnuanced end.
Look for more explicated movies by Dink Tank in the future.


Families with kids in plays luck out. We may not be actors ourselves, but our kids can bring us up close and into the excitement of the world of theater. Area teens in the recent Playhouse production of “Les Miserables” gave not only their families, but all of us a new understanding of Victor Hugo and of 18th century France. What a gift! In 1987, when Les Mis first opened in Manhattan, I made the decision at the Times Square discount booth to buy my kids and myself tickets to a different show. Talk about regrets! But now Duluth has claimed its own production of what’s become a classic.

My own granddaughter just played Henriette in Moliere’s comedy, “The Learned Ladies”. Playwrights give us the skinny on the conventions of other times. Here, Moliere makes fun of 17th Century bourgeois women yearning to be educated. The story tells us about women’s aspirations and, perhaps, Moliere’s misogyny. Last week, my grandson was super as Dickens’ Dodger in “Oliver Twist”. Plays can graphically, viscerally show our kids as well as ourselves the realities of life.

SXSW is over, and spreading. Son Leif invited his bro, Ianni, to Austin’s two week cultural spectacular where Bruce Springsteen gave the keynote speech and later turned up onstage at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater. This rates as one of the most emotional shows in E Street Band’s history. The recent loss of sax player, Clarence Clemons, brought out the best in everyone, and everyone was there. Springsteen hauled up on stage Jimmy Cliff; Eric Burdon, with the anti-war classic, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”; Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine; Arcade Fire; Jerry Lee Lewis.  Woody Guthrie was intoned. Many songs from Springsteen’s new album, “Wrecking Ball” chronicled our tough times and gave the concert a gospel feel. Baba Booey was in the audience; Springsteen did some diving. If we coulda been there.

In other performances, Jay Z was on the ACL stage and, from Minneapolis: Dessa, Brother Ali, Atmosphere, from the Doomtree Group, along with affiliates, Rhymesayers (on KFAI every Sat. night). Jack White showed up on the UT-Austin campus.

The small (2700 seat) Moody offered ACL tapings: Radiohead, Alabama Shakes, Lionel Richie with Kenny Rogers. Ian saw Minneapolis’ Polica onstage with Trampled By Turtles. People were nuts for Polica, who was all over the place and got a lot of press. He heard Sleigh Bells open for Naz.

Last week, my ten-year-old granddaughter played Gotye (“Eyes Wide Open”) for me. I’d never heard of him, but it made me realize my cello-playing granddaughter has great taste. In Austin, about this time, Ian was walking down the street, and there was Gotye (pronounced Gauthier) on an outdoor stage with a huge crowd. The Belge/Australian musician progressed last weekend to The Tower Theater in Upper Darby, outside Philly, the same venue where I danced to Bob Marley more than once in the 60’s. Next Wednesday, April 4, Gotye is at The Epic in MPLS.

Ian and bro Leif saw them all. Spunky all-girl Japanese group Toquiwa (formerly Pinky Piglets) are segueing North to play this week at the Twin Cities’ 400 Bar. Rum Diaries actor, Giovanni Davisi was at The Mohawk. Robert Plant was with the boys in a mezzanine box, ‘surrounded by 20-somethings’. And who should Ian fly back with, but the Iron Range’s own Paul Metsa, at South By SouthWest with his book, “Blue Guitar Highway”. Next year, we all gotta go.


I am sad to say I missed the Chicken Hat Plays held at Harbor City School last weekend. But this Saturday, March 31, Rubber Chicken will give us new sketch comedy. Be at Animal Allies’ Match-a-Thon at 10pm for improv featuring pets and their people. The performance is part of the entertainment and activities for the thirty hour Animal Allies event that begins at noon on Sat. and goes to 6pm on Sunday. Be there or be square. 4006 Airport Road.