Category Archives: Baltimore

In the Archives: Edgar Allan Faux (1877 then 1845)

EAP1

They say humor is based on timing. Yes, as is everything else. Ask Elisha Gray about telephone patents. I was plugging along, working on a piece about the comedian Dana Gould, and still figuring out when I would finish writing about Mark Twain and the German language, when an article in my local newspaper caught my attention:

“Dead Poets Society founder visits 300th grave”

The fact that there’s an actual Dead Poets Society prompts visions of Ethan Hawkes’s teeth and an involuntary desire to kill Robert Sean Leonard. Swallowing my bile I learned that the current founder, Walter Skold of Freeport (Maine), has visited the gravesites of 300 poets “ahead of this weekend’s fourth annual Dead Poets Remembrance Day.”

What is “Dead Poets Remembrance Day”? Apparently, “with the help of 13 current and past state poets laureate,” Skold was able to dedicate October 7—“the day that Edgar Allan Poe died and James Whitcomb Riley was born—to heightening public awareness of the art of poetry.

The article posted October 5. That was Saturday. Making the actual memorial day a Monday. Today. My day to submit. So in honor of dead poets everywhere (and as one who writes the occasional verse and considers the artform dead, and therefore all practitioners the undead) let us examine the two poets tied to this day. What the article does not share is an appreciation for not just the day, but the year. On October 7, 1849, as Edgar Allan Poe lay dying of possibly drunken Rabies in a Baltimore medical college, James Whitcomb Riley was borning in Greenfield, Indiana.

Continue reading →

Advertisements

Live “Wire”

Although the likelihood of the following event is very, well, unlikely, if I were in some kind of hostage situation and forced at gunpoint to name from memory at least two mind-blowingly bad musicals that were never made, I could do it. One would be from Woody Allen’s standup routine from the 1960s, during which he joked that he was once “at a party with a very big Hollywood producer, and at that time he wanted to make an elaborate cinemascope musical comedy out of the Dewey Decimal System.” The other would be from the David Sedaris story “Smart Guy” in Me Talk Pretty One Day, in which he pits his own intelligence against that of his boyfriend Hugh, who once “with no trace of irony… suggested that the history of the chocolate chip might make for an exciting musical. ‘If, of course, you found the right choreographer.'” To my knowledge, both projects are neither in development nor should be (although with Kickstarter these days, anything’s possible). And so, meeting the eccentric demands of my imaginary abductors, I am freed. You might want to mentally file these away as a precaution; the world is a dangerous place.

The list of unlikely candidates for unnecessary musicals might have once have included The Wire, David Simon’s gritty, gorgeous drama about the complex social ecologies of life in Baltimore. (This month marks the tenth anniversary of its debut on HBO.) And while a full-fledged stage show is quite thankfully still a fiction, Funny or Die recently produced a commercial for The Wire: The Musical that reunites some of the original cast in a performance that is exactly what The Wire: The Musical would be if it were real — which is everything you remember about The Wire, but with more jazz hands and the occasional high kick.

Need another hit? Click through for a Victorian rendering of The Wire, and the inexplicably actual version for children.

Continue reading →