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long day’s journey into square

alors, so denn, meine comrades!!!!
team chaos has been hard at work at sean’s house in vermont to get everything packaged and sent out. follow @AFPwire on twitter to read updates about it all and see photos of them being awesome.
as for me, two days til opening night.
i just chopped my hair off and dyed it black for the show.
well, desi chopped it off dyed it black.
well, he SAID he was dying it black.
but i refuse to believe it’s black. he says it is.
but it’s more of a dark dark dark dark purple-y red.
here’s a peek. i am too afraid to unveil it in it’s crazy slightly hitler-esque fullness. it’s sort of hitler-y and sort of dyke-y.
in this way, it’s sort of ironic.
photo taken by superkate, who sat by my side and agreed with me – it’s not BLACK black.
so much of my hair is gone.
my lieber hair.
i’m actually rather sorrowful about the waxing now that it’s been determined that the make-up we were supposed to be using for the show (thus the waxing fest) was nixed due to a whole crew of actors (me included) going home and not being able to remove it with ANYTHING (christopher resorted to paint thinner, i simply slept in it). that’s life. hopefully it’ll grow back fast.
anyway…shit’s busy like all get out.
i don’t take a second of this for granted, even in the middle of the tornado…i’m feeling the calm. well, maybe not feeling it, but i can smell it. in the distance.
the show is FUCKING INCREDIBLE. it’s beautiful. it’s devastating…it’s….just come see it.
the run is getting PACKED – 12 of the 43 shows are fully sold out and many are close.
having neil in town was wonderful and terrible since i couldn’t give him my full attention and that made me feel guilty.
i don’t like counting minutes, counting hours, weighing movements so carefully.
i knew it would be like this. and i can generally handle this sort of squished manic schedule when i’m on my own.
but i’ve never been good at accommodating an Other into this sort of life. now i have an Other. also, he’s really cute and distracting.
i love him, and i love my work, and i’m a terrible, terrible prioritizer. you should see what happens to my home when shit gets busy. it’s revolting.
love, work, friends, colleagues, pets, plants, dentist appointment….family, health, diet, car, lightbulbs….and all of a sudden you realize that YOU’RE expected to figure out how to balance all this shit.
sometime i just want answers and an easy way out. nein, petite amanda.
back to the drawing board.
my priority for the last fucking 2 weeks has been to get this blog together for you, and i’m very proud to unveil:
for those of you making the trek into cambridge this fall to see “CABARET” and/or my late-night shows, first off, some timing info:
“CABARET” (the show) starts at 7pm (officially 7:30, but we open doors and the actors & entertainment are IN GEAR and the show is ALIVE at 7pm – BE THERE…with the excption of sept 8th…one half hour early, 6:30).
if you’re coming to the 2nd “CABARET” show (FRIDAY NIGHTS), the doors are at 10pm and the show’s at 10:30.
in any event, i figure you’ll have AMPLE time to wander around harvard square and absorb the vibe.
harvard square is very close to my heart – it was the Rad Place to Go when i was a little teen AFP growing up in the suburbs of boston, and even though it’s been losing its charm year after year as harvard bulldozes another independent store and raises another Gap, Bank or Jewelry Shop. but it still has an aliveness to it that i miss when i’m gone. and some of my old, favorite institutions are still standing. an average saturday when i was 15 included hopping the bus to the subway from my house, going to the pizza ship in the Garage (still there) where i would also buy some incense at buried treasures (sadly moved), get a new ear piercing (you can still do that in the garage), shoplift some tights (i don’t recommend that unless you want to wind up in a cambridge police station holding cell, which i can assure you from experience isn’t pleasant), rummage through the used book bins at the starr and harvard bookstores (former is gone, latter still stands) and of course, pore over bootleg tapes and vinyl to build my music collection. sadly, almost every little used music store with the exception of planet records and in your ear has gone the way of the dodo. maybe it was my fault for shoplifting too many tapes. :(
but probably, it’s the fact that physical music is dead. O WELL.
here you go, yo.
     – THE FOGG: i am going to give you some seriously specific instructions, here. go to the fogg art museum, which is only a few blocks from the theater, and see my favorite painting, it won’t take you long.
i’m not going to tell you what it’s called, you’ll have to look for it, you lazy bum.
it looks like this:
there’s plenty of other shit to see – the fogg is large enough to occupy you for several hours – but if all you do is traipse up the stairs to see my favorite painting, it’s fine.
they have chairs. steal a chair, sit in front of the painting, and ask yourself some profound questions…if you’re drawing a blank, try these!
* what is real?
* what is performance?
* why do we make art?
* why are we alive?
that’ll keep your brain fully muddled while you look at the best painting in the world, which will probably give you some answers.

UPDATE (via len tower): i hear the main fogg building (with the busch resigner) is closed for renovation. there’s a “best-of” collection up across broadway at the sackler. neither len nor i have been – don’t know if the tricycph is there or out-of-sight. good luck. report back HERE for us, if you go!

here’s the inside courtyard. it’s LOVERLY:
     - MY PEOPLE: there are a ton of street performers if you hit the square at the right time. you’ll see the greatest concentration on friday night when the crowds are out, and they’ll drop off as the weather gets shitty in around late september, but other than that it’s a crapshoot – they come out when they feel like it. they tend to gather right in the center between the main T station and brattle sqaure, but on weekends they spill all teh way down mass ave towards the theater. if your timing is right, you may run into my actual friends.
my ex, blake (yes that blake) is often to be seen right near the T station (the main one in the middle of the square) with a huge pair of angel wings. if you see him, for god’s sake give him some money and look longingly into his eyes.
i took this photo of blake a few weeks ago:
blake also makes art. go support him online:
if you’re in brattle sqaure, you may also run into my friend Blue, aka UNCLE SCAM, one of the oldest veteran street performers in harvard square.
he has a crazy political puppet show set up at all times when it ain’t raining. if he’s on a break he’ll be happy to talk to you and possibly roll you a cigarette.
tell him amanda sent you. give him some money too. he’s awesome.
(from blue’s website:
     - THE GLASS FLOWERS: if you’re into weird little flowers made of glass and a bizarre experience…do THIS (my mom used to take me there as a kid – it’s astonishing).
“the harvard musem of natural history has a unique collection of over 3,000 models was created by glass artisans Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolph. The commission began in 1886, continued for five decades, and the collection represents more than 830 plant species”.


     - LEAVITT AND PEIRCE: this is one of my all-time favorite places to exist, and you can find it at 1316 Mass Ave. you’ll know it when you come across it:

(lifted from HERE)


it’s a tobacco shop that also sells ephemera, games, trinkets, old posters, and other nonsense, and it’s been in the square since ever.
the owner used to let me clamber up into the secret balcony of the store without paying when i was a street performer (it’s usually $2 and reserved for chess-players only). see what you can negotiate.
i used to sit up there, smoke a nat sherman and sip a hazelnut coffee that i would brew next door from the coffee/ice-cream shop i part-timed at (sadly gone), and watch the world underneath me continue. i considered it heaven.
i could see everybody but nobody ever looked up and saw i was there. it’s a magical spot. if you play chess or backgammon, i recommend the spot for gaming. note the harvard oars.
and then, right right NEXT DOOR TO THE THEATER is….
     – THE LAME DUCK BOOKSTORE: (located at 12 arrow st. and) where john is currently shutting down shop and selling EVERYTHING at 50% off.
it’s mostly collectible books and expensive artwork and photography, but it’s a great place to nose around.
neil recently bought a book of poems there. ah. a writer in his element:
009 is their site.

if you give john the password “LAME ENTE” (you MUST USE THE GERMAN PRONUNCIATION – “LLAMA ENT-UH”), he promised he’d sweeten your deal.
and right next to THAT, one door down from the theater is
     - THE PIERRE MENARD GALLERY: i wandered in there the other day and twittered some incredible photos from their oil spill relief show run by heide hatry (i twitpic-ed)
(photo by me, real art by nick gullo)
(photo by me, art by heide hatry)
these are the exhibits that will be up during “CABARET”…
* Sept 10–Oct 10th: New Intangibles, Paintings by Weldon Kees
Oct 15–Nov 15th: BLACK IS Paintings by Aldo Tambellini
what else?
     - CARDULLO’S: go there, and buy some weird imported choclate flakes from holland. also, if there’s a red sox game, the
y BROADCAST onto the street.
people gather. some bring lawn chairs. it’s kind of awesome.
(photo by me, a couple weeks ago…)
for music? well, the hey-day of the used record store is definitely over, but there ARE a few places you should hit for music:
     - PLANET RECORDS: (54-B JFK street) one of the last hold-outs, small, and filled with cheap used CDs.
     - IN YOUR EAR: (72 mount auburn street) has LOTS of vinyl and is way more musty and fun for sifting.
ask both of ‘em why they don’t have any music by amanda palmer.
there’s a great used clothing store that i used to haunt called OONA’S (1210 Mass Ave) that JUST re-opened for business under a new owner.
head over and tell ‘em i sent you. lots of vintage doo-dads and fancy things. there was a rumor they were going to set up a “CABARET” themed
rack – maybe they’ll still do it. if you don’t see it, ASK.
not far from in your ear is the irreplaceable CAFÉ PAMPLONA (12 bow street).
it’s my favorite cafe in the world. limited menu, no music, no frills. it’s a holy, holy, place. (it even has a wikipedia entry)
i suggest going alone and bringing an empty mind, pad of paper, and sitting and letting your thoughts pour out. it’s good for that.
the white gazpacho is to die for.
if you can’t illegally bust into widener library (for real, if you have a harvard connection – BUST IN) there are two BOOKSTORES in harvard square:
one is the harvard bookstore (address, link), which has a fantastic ongoing “remainders” section up and downstairs where you can buy fabulous huge art books for a song.
there’s also an extensive used section – you have to go DOWNSTAIRS to find it. blink and you could miss it. the selection of fiction, etc, is limited but well-curated.
the GROLIER poetry bookshop is an incredible place tucked into a little side-street right near the harvard bookstore….
it’s packed, old, musty, beautiful. go in blindfolded, pick out a book at random, and read something….
then buy a book and keep them in business. they’re one of the last hold-outs of indie beauty in the square.
if you seek FOREIGN BOOKS, you must must must go to SHOENHOFS (76A Mt Auburn St). it’s a foreign book-nerd paradise.
they have a gazillion books in a gazillion languages. if you’re from abroad and have been missing real-life book-browsing in your native russian, french, swahili, you’ll be in HEAVEN.
after cafe pamplona, CAFE ALGIERS (aka ALGIERS COFFEE HOUSE at 40 brattle street) is my second favorite place for hanging. the food is overpriced middle eastern fare, but the decor is worth the hang – it feels like you’re in morocco, and everything is made of wood and they play classical music [which is second only to no music at all (see cafe pamplona, above)]. get the special mint coffee.
the service is NOTORIOUSLY slow. enjoy your wait – it’s a zen experience. the waitress may leave you hanging for well over 35 minutes at a time. do not question her ways.
algiers is located in brattle hall – which is right off brattle square…
brattle hall also houses the BRATTLE THEATER, which remains one of my very favorite movie houses to this day – i’ve even played a couple of shows (and benefit shows – to save them) over the years.
they just finished a special “CABARET”-themed week of films, which i did not get to tell you about in time, and i feel like an asshole. whatever. i’ve been rehearsing. still, if you want to take in a movie – GO there.
it’s fab.
this is a tough one – there’s a little bit of everything.
the american repertory theater is supposedly looking into resaturant partners where your ticket can land you a discount – i’ll twitter news about that if and when it comes in.
if you look to the lower right of the algiers photo (above), you’ll see the word “CASABLANCA”: if you’re looking for an actual dining experience, head there for a fancy dinner. pricey, but lovely. there are huge ingar bergman and bogart murals on the walls and the place is decekd out as a faux “ricks”.
grab one of the little private booths made of straw – it’s magical.
     – CAFÉ PAMPLONA (above) has a simple menu of soups, paninis, salad and KILLER GAZPACHO.
also see: ALGIERS (also above).
there’s a great place called VEGGIE PLANET for vegeatrians hidden in the famed CLUB PASSIM (which used to be club 47, home to joan baez and bob dylan when they rolled through boston).
it’s on a teeny side-street called palmer street (*yip*) and they have bountiful cheap veggie and vegan food.
there’s thai and sushi. google.
     - GRAFTON STREET: (1280 mass ave) RIGHT near the theater, and they serve standard bistro fare with a quasi-sports-bar atmosphere. it’s not awful, but it’s not soulful. it’s nice to eat outside there in the hot weather. iv>

right in the middle of the square there’s GRENDEL’S DEN (89 winthrop street), which has decent bar food and is a good spot for pre-show boozing, and above that is the very ritzy and kooky UPSTAIRS ON THE SQUARE – run by two ladies with a taste for pink, leopard, and chandeliers. the menu itself will break your budget unless you have a hundred bucks to blow on dinner, but if you go for JUST a cocktail you’ll feel like a million dollars. there are occasional late-night live music swing jams there. and if it gets cold enough, there’s a fireplace.
the fresh rolls in the vietnamese place in THE GARAGE are good.
the garage is like a mini-mall that’s spread over two stories right in the hub of the square, it looks like THIS:
and you can enter it from three sides.
it’s home to NEWBURY COMICS (still a great place to get music and weird little things and band t-shirts after all these years), a tattoo parlor, some other crazy shit, and AUDIO LAB – where you MUST go if you want to buy a turntable onto which you plan to place your amanda palmer vinyl. if you need any other hi-fi solutions, go there. say hi to mike volpe. he”ll bust out his photo albums of me dressed as the eight-foot bride (he used to photograph me all the time) and you’ll make his DAY.
and while you’re at it, say what you want about their coffee, the STARBUCKS in the garage is currently rocking an exhibit of amanda palmer & dresden dolls photos taken by mike himself.
i’m not sure how much longer it’s up, but go check. you dont’ have to buy any coffee there in order to do so. here’s a shot i got of it a few days ago….
that would be me in my street performing hey-day on the left, and me and brian on the right.
i’m not sure why brian is wearing my tights.
or my dress.
when you’re done with everything and the nights over, and you’re looking to DRINK, i recommend CHARLIE’S TAP (10 Eliot St.)
they have an increidble beer selection, but more importantly an AMAZING JUKEBOX.
get a chimay and put a dollar in that shit and listen to the clash. it’ll make me happy.
if not charlie’s, there’s SHAY’S (a nice little underground hideout), and in the opposite direction of the theater from the square, there’s THE CELLAR (which also happens
to have great food in their new upstairs restaurant called GARDEN, very locovore-friendly and fresh, but not super-cheap).
and last but not least…..
walk through harvard yard. laugh at academia.
speaking of academia, it’ll be fall soon and you can see the crew, in their boats, skulling along. it’s fascianting.
so after you’ve walked down the little sidestreets off mass ave between dunster and plympton…
go to the river…
stand on the little harvard footbridge bridge…
…..and contemplate the emptiness of existence.
they cannot and will not teach you how to do this at harvard.
only my blog can show you the way.
p.s. i know i missed things. this’ll have to do. if YOU have pointers and want to add to the obvious, PUT YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE COMMENTS.
i’ll edit the blog if i’ve missed anything hugely important, and maybe i’ll poke in HERE on the shadowbox with some suggestions, too…
p.p.s. and next up, a blog about “CABARET” itself. when i get a breather. the show’s sucking my soul out, and i’m happy to be sucked. you know what i mean.
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