Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Many shades of crankiness

At least the misery was brief: France lost to Italy yesterday, and packed its bag to return home, tail between the legs. What a crap Euro we had. In hindsight, not pushing more against Romania was a huge mistake, but one the French squad makes over and over again: underestimating a seemindly modest opponent. Fine, we're out and we deserve it, no question. Now let's fire inane coach Raymond Domenech and hire a guy who can stand up to the overpaid prima donnas who make up half the French team.

And speaking of failure, I talk about the deliciousness of Broadway flops in a new post over on the SundayArts blog. It's pegged to a new book by Bye Bye Birdie and Annie composer Charles Strouse, Put on a Happy Face. One anecdote Strouse related and that I couldn't fit in the other post is his first meeting with Arthur Laurents, the book writer for Gypsy and West Side Story. Now Laurents has been showered with a lot of love lately for directing the current Gypsy revival, but before that, and for several decades, he was known as a legendary crank. Strouse writes that he showed up at Laurents' house in Greenwich Village and was greeted with mirth. Laurents was "barely able to suppress his laughter, as though he'd just heard the funniest joke in the world. 'What's so funny?' I asked. Once he was able to stop chuckling, he said, 'Tony Perkins has AIDS.' (…) I never imagined he was capable of actual cruelty, and I thought little of it at the time."

Strouse, of course, would go on to realize he should have taken that little episode more seriously: "I imagined killing him and being brought to trial," he later writes as their collaboration on the ill-fated musical Nick & Nora unravels. "I could picture the judge peering down at me. 'Are you the one who killed Arthur Laurents?' he'd ask. 'Yes, sir,' I would say, 'I couldn't control myself.' And the judge would smile and say, 'I want the mayor to meet you and shake your hand.'"

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