It’s tax season! Beware the Ides of February! Yesterday, Janna and I were disappointed to learn someone filed a tax return in our name. We discovered this identity theft when we diligently filed our 2015 taxes online via TurboTax and quickly learned our returns had not only been rejected by the IRS, but also by the New York and New Jersey tax offices! I later learned if the Feds reject your return, the States, in turn, will automatically reject your return, too. That’s good there’s some sort of communal, emergency, trigger that is in place for this homegrown brand of unsophisticated, commonplace, thievery.
Let’s agree on one thing: Deaf West’s excellent Broadway revival of “Spring Awakening” is a fine production currently showing at the Brooks Atkinson theatre in a limited run. The sets and lights are magnificent. The staging is right. The actors are completely superb. The effort is noble, but perhaps, imperfect in the execution of its essence, and it is in that vacuum of those slight flaws in amber that this review reflects — to make you think and wonder in preservation and ponder beyond the simple joy of watching a few Deaf actors on a live Broadway stage.
There’s an old, weary, chestnut in the theatre — that deserves to be burned alive, eaten whole, pooped out and buried in the deep blue sea and then never spoken of again — that goes a little something like this, when directors say to Playwrights: “Never Speak to the Actors!”
Columbia University in the City of New York was founded in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter of King George II of England. Columbia is the fifth oldest university in America and the oldest living school in the State of New York. As a graduate of Columbia, you never tire of reaching back into history to pull out instances of living and of educational memeing and of the loving of a life that remains to haunt you today — because way back when is always more perceptive and pleasing than the now and again.
I was delightfully fortunate to be able to purchase a large cache of genuine Columbia University photographs. Columbia has a certain reputation in the history of America as being a seat of unrest, and a center of the human protest against the status quo, while also trailblazing educational concepts for teaching and learning.
We begin our photographic tour in 1930 with this caption:
COMMENCEMENT EXERCISES AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
New York — General view of the commencement excercises at Columbia University, showing the great assemblage of students listening to the address of president Nicholas Murray Butler of Columbia. There were 861 diplomas and 4,895 degrees awarded during the ceremony. More than 20,000 spectators witnessed the exercise. 6-3-30.
In you look closely, you can see a naked 115th Street from the Columbia green! There’s no Butler library yet — named for Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler mentioned in the caption — Butler Library would rise along the North side of 115th Street in 1931 and would be dedicated in 1934.
There once was a rather famous, if old timey, theatrical agent in New York City who had one hard and steadfast rule in his office: No drawers allowed! This no-drawer mandate mainly had to do with desks, but he also included boxes, trash cans and file cabinets in his rage. The rule was incredibly raw, because in those days, The City, and theatrical agencies, ran on paper. There was no digitization. No cloud or computer storage. You Xeroxed and your Faxed and you managed the wood pulp blizzard as best you could.
Yesterday, I was fortunate to watch a live Memorial Day weekend performance in Union Square in New York City. The performers were wild and quite enjoyable and I have some video tidbits of the event to share with you.
[UPDATE: June 10, 2015 — I received a phone call from an old friend of Oscar’s who verified Oscar was having financial trouble in New York City, perhaps with loan sharks, but definitely with credit cards he took out in his wife’s name. Oscar asked his father in Lincoln, Nebraska for a $50,000.00 loan to pay off an “identity theft” debt and was denied. Later, Oscar called his mother the morning he went missing and had her wire $200 to him at a money exchange near Penn Station in Manhattan. The friend believes Oscar used that money to get on a train and disappear — he also believes Oscar is, and has been, dead since that day. Oscar sent three suicide notes, one emailed to a friend, one mailed to his wife and one mailed to his parents. The friend also said there is no way Oscar was Gay or changing sex or is now still alive and playing the role of a woman. The friend is authentic and genuine and caring and provided verifiable facts that no one could know without direct knowledge of this human tragedy. Please use this updated information to color your reading of the rest of this original story published here on May 5, 2014.]
Have you seen this man? His name is Oscar Long. He’s a talented, long-ago, Lincoln, Nebraska friend who went missing in New York City near Penn Station on November 28, 2007. He left behind a wife and child. He has not been seen alive since then.