Tuesday, December 13, 2022


December 13This happened Tuesday, December 13, 2022, a day-in-the-life story. It was more like four hours.
I was taking the bus to the Washington Avenue branch of the Albany Public Library to attend a book review. It was about five minutes late; no biggie.
The bus stopped to pick up a guy in a motorized vehicle, a very fancy wheelchair. As usual, the driver put up some seats to accommodate the rider, then let down the ramp. But the fellow couldn’t get to the ramp because of the snow.
The driver let up the ramp, closed the door, and started ranting. “You’ve got to be kidding me! The STAR [specialty] buses should pick up these folks!” Then they pulled the bus up about two meters, let down the ramp, and the passenger boarded.
I believe the driver was stressed because they fell further behind schedule, not out of animosity towards those with disabilities.
Getting to the talk as it was starting, one of the hosts made the joke, “Now we can begin because Roger Green is here.” He’s made the joke once earlier.
I bought not just the author’s new book about the 1936 Presidental election but also a book written by an audience member about a much more recent Presidency.
Bus back
I took the bus back. The guy with the snazzy wheels was already on the bus and got off at the same stop without difficulty.
I stopped at the CVS to pick up prescriptions for my daughter. CVS and other pharmacies are closed between 1:30 and 2 pm. So I was fifth in line, with more folks behind me, when the counter opened. But the clerk, who was also a pharmacist, was quite efficient, answering a couple of my questions, and it did not take long. I also picked up a UPS package at the front.
The sidewalk of the Madison Theater was a sheet of ice five days after the snowfall. The sidewalks on the rest of the block were totally clear. They need to be better neighbors.
Then I  went to the Price Chopper/Market 32.   Ostensibly, I went there for blueberries, grapes, and butter. But, as is often the case, I bought more items so that my bag from home was inadequate.
I was second in line at the register. In front of me was a couple, approximately my age, buying only a few items. I was not paying attention to them until the man berated the woman. ‘Where are the cards? I just gave them to you since we were in line!”
I half-heard a series of exchanges between the man and the cashier.  They involved needing to void purchases. One was that he couldn’t buy razor blades with food stamps.
There is a calculation about when to pick up the items you’ve already put on the conveyor belt, put them back in the shopping cart, and look for another checkout aisle. I decided to stay. Surely this will be concluded soon. Still, I told two other people to go to another aisle behind other people, and both finished long before I started.
FINALLY, the young cashier, who didn’t appear old enough to shave, said to me, “I’m sorry. I’ll be right with you.” My reply: “You’re fine. I’m not blaming you.”
The man in front of me in the aisle scowled, “Are you blaming me? You can’t blame ME! I should go and kick your ass!”  Fortunately, there was a shopping cart between us. For some reason, I calmly replied,  “As you wish, sir.” He huffed out of the store.
The young cashier said, of the previous customer’s transactions, “That was very stressful!” I told him that he handled the situation very well. Then I finally carried my groceries home.

Polina, Michael Butler and connection

But nothing is graphic. Everything is inferred.

polina1Thursday, November 12, my long-time friend Karen, who lives in New York City, emails me that Michael Viktor Butler is premiering a play called Polina (poh-LEE-nah) the next evening and that she’s coming up to see it. In Albany. About three and a half blocks from my house, at the Madison Theatre, primarily, but not solely, a movie house.

Michael and I know each other very peripherally, but he, who was a friend of one of Karen’s older siblings, became a muse to Karen, as he ran the experimental television in Binghamton in the mid-1970s, before returning to NYC himself, and she’s kept in touch with him.

I had no idea about this production until I perused this description on the movie theater’s website:

In This sensational scorcher, adapted from Butler’s novella of the same name, will be presented in the tradition of 19th Century Grand Guignol theater, complete with live salon orchestra and spectacular special effects. The title role is played by Madame Irene McMahon. Butler assumes all other parts, spectacularly interpreted in Delstarte Technique.

Polina also featured puppet master Erica Johnson.

Then I read Amy Biancolli’s preview about it in the Times Union, where Michael explains that Polina, “literally… steps out of paintings to snack on the man-parts of virgins… But nothing is graphic. Everything is inferred…”

Walking to the Madison Friday, I just happened to see Karen disembark from her car. And we and a couple of her friends she knows from a local radio station sat together.

Briefly: Polina really is a dark comedy. The first act’s too long, and the second much too short, but it’s the first production, so one discovers these things. Also, there were a few technical glitches, but nothing major.

Something I did not remember is that Michael Butler was living in my area, presently about six blocks from my house. We became reacquainted, and I got to see Karen for the first time since my birthday in March.

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