Tag Archives: Push Lounge

Last Call for “Vic & Paul”…

After more than two decades away from the stage, my wife Victoria and I, along with our great friend and musical director Steve Rashid, launched our comedy comeback with “The Vic & Paul Show” in June 2010 at Push Lounge in Woodland Hills.

We’ve had lots of fun getting back onstage, doing sketches and musical numbers in a two-person revue format reminiscent of the great Nichols & May — and sharing (mostly) intelligent laughs with our audience. Plus working with Steve Rashid again has been a constant source of joy, musical merriment, and tons of Wisconsin jokes.

Now, after two years of performances in six venues and three cities, Victoria, Steve and I are celebrating the final run of this inaugural edition of “The Vic & Paul Show” with four shows at The iO West Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, August 9-12.

So, blow off NBC’s London Olympics coverage for a night (it’s on tape delay anyway, and they’ll show it all again at 1:00 AM) — and come out to enjoy a summer drink and lots of laughs with us.

For tickets to “The Vic & Paul Show” click here.

Or call the box office at 323-962-7560.

And we hope to see you again with our brand new show sometime in 2013!

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Filed under Art, Comedy, Improvisation, Music

“The Vic & Paul Show” Comes Home to Chicago!

From PUSH to PROP: A Homecoming.

Last summer, “The Vic & Paul Show” ended it’s debut run at PUSH Lounge in Woodland Hills with a sold-out show on the evening of Sunday June 27, 2010.  For a fun yet fleeting moment, adult cabaret comedy flourished in the western end of the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.

Our final performance at PUSH capped a wonderful three weeks for this author and his very funny wife, Victoria Zielinski. It had been 23 years since we’d done a comedy revue together — and we were gratified and encouraged by the steady parade of great friends, fellow Northwestern alums, co-workers, and enlightened comedy lovers that made their way to Woodland Hills’ faux French Quarter on Ventura Boulevard to share some laughs and enjoy a drink with us.

Closing night at PUSH was an emotional, celebratory evening. But that closing night was just the beginning of our return to the comedy stage – and one year later, we’re taking “The Vic & Paul Show” to Chicago.

This summer, from June 9-12, “The Vic & Paul Show” will play a special engagement at The Prop Theatre, one of Chicago’s great theatre institutions, run by our longtime friends and theatrical visionaries, Scott Vehill and Stefan Brun. It’s altogether fitting that Victoria and I should make our theatrical return to Chicago on the Prop stage.

Scotty and Stefan founded The Prop as a storefront theatre back in 1981 at the same time that The Practical Theatre Company was starting its first season in our own storefront at 703 Howard Street. The Practical and The Prop worked and partied together — and The Prop provided us PTC nomads with a temporary home. A friend in need is a friend indeed.

In 1986, The PTC’s John Lennon Auditorium on Howard Street was closed and our Piper’s Alley cabaret space had become the home of Second City touring companies. So, Scotty and Stefan offered us their space on Clybourn Avenue (a former machine shop) to rehearse “Art Ruth & Trudy”, which opened at Club Victoria on Broadway near Belmont and became The Practical Theatre’s longest-running comedy revue.

Scott Vehill and Brad Hall in the Prop lobby.

Since their early years on Clybourn, The Prop has moved to 3504 North Elston Avenue, a few blocks south of Addison – where Sthey keep two theatre spaces booked with the best in avant-garde, Brechtian, experimental and adventurous theatre, comedy and performance art.

Brad and Stefan Brun in the Prop space.

And now, The Prop will host “The Vic & Paul Show”. We couldn’t be happier to be welcomed once again into the Prop playhouse.

We’ll be joined once again by our brilliant musical director, Chicago area Emmy-winner Steve Rashid, who will accompany us on keyboards and perform his own brand of satirical songwriting. The show was directed by another Chicago native, Shelly Goldstein.

We'll turn this space into a groovy cabaret in June.

There will be one preview performance at 8:00 on Thursday, June 9th. Tickets for this preview show are $10.00.

Our opening night performance is at 8:00 on Friday June 10th. ($20.00 a ticket), followed by a show at 8:00 on Saturday June 11th ($20.00 a ticket), a matinee show at 2:00 on Sunday, June 12th ($15.00 a ticket), and a show at 7:00 on Sunday ($20.00 ticket).

For Reservations go to: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/169351

Cash & checks only at the door.

The Prop’s phone number is 773 539 7838. And you can check out their website at: www.propthtr.org.

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Filed under Art

2010: The First Year In Review

This snapshot by Rob Mendel (above) appears to have been taken at The John Lennon Auditorium at 703 Howard Street in Evanston, Illinois on what looks to be New Year’s Day 1982.  (Note my Beggars’ Holiday hair and beard.) My 18-month old daughter Maura appears to be grasping a champagne bottle in her right hand, the stage looks as though it’s set up for a Rockme gig, and the numerous empty beverage containers and crumpled gift-wrapping all suggest a big holiday party the night before. (Maura certainly didn’t close the party, so this must be the day after.) Of course, I’m on clean-up duty. (I trust the amazing Rush Pearson will let us know if my photo analysis is correct.)

30 years after this picture was taken — and just one year ago — I started this blog.

So far, it’s been a fine voyage.

As of this writing, Paul’s Voyage of Discovery & Etc. has attracted over 22,250 views. I’ve made 73 posts and readers have contributed 565 comments. That’s a pretty healthy start — and I’m grateful for everyone’s interest, enthusiasm, and participation in this admittedly idiosyncratic forum.

This is not the real subscription sign up box. The real one is further to the right. And up a little...

I’m especially gratified by the 63 subscribers who have signed on to have my posts automatically delivered to them via e-mail. (And when Mark Lancaster gets his e-mail address straightened out, we’ll be back to 64.) Are you a subscriber? If not — just look to your right at the photo of the saluting Matey, then look below the photo and follow the simple instructions to “Hop Aboard!” I know most of us just can’t get enough e-mails stuffed into our inboxes, but I promise my posts will be at least marginally more entertaining than the daily onslaught of Viagra ads, MoveOn broadsides, replica watch ads, and assorted unrelenting spam you’re already inundated with.

My posts on this blog largely stuck to the main topics I established at the outset: history, adventure, politics and rock & roll — including a four-part history of The Practical Theatre Company. And to what type of posts were readers of this blog most attracted? What follows is a list of The Top 12 Posts of 2010, listed in order of the most views. Taken as a whole, they represent a sort of oddball Year-in-Review.

THE TOP TEN POSTS OF 2010

Note: Just click on each the title of each post to access the original article.

1. The Saints Come Marching In…

The New Orleans Saints got 2010 off to a great start by winning the Super Bowl. So, why does a man who was born in Cleveland, went to college and met his wife in Chicago, and moved to Los Angeles twenty years ago care if the New Orleans Saints finally won a Super Bowl after decades of epic gridiron failure? Simple: my daddy was New Orleans born and raised. Who dat say what about dem Saints?

2. All About The Rockme Foundation

It’s not possible to write everything about Riffmaster & The Rockme Foundation in one article, but I tried my best in this post to tell the basics of the band’s ongoing legend. A spring reunion gig at SPACE in Evanston was the catalyst for telling the story. The band is making plans to play SPACE again this year. Rockme-mania lives.

3. The Practical Theatre Co. Part 1

One of my goals this past year was to tell the story of The Practical Theatre from start to finish. (Is it ever really finished?) This first chapter covered the period from the company’s founding and the establishment of The John Lennon Auditorium  — to just before our 1982 comedy revue, The Golden 50th Anniversary Jubilee, brought the PTC to SNL.

4. Baseball Season Opens: Of Mud Hens & More…

Readers loved those Mud Hens. What was written as a tribute to The Practical Theatre Company’s contribution to the Chicago Theatre 16-inch Softball League became a post that hundreds of Toledo Mud Hens fans found online, attracted to the info and photos of Toledo Mud Hens history — especially that picture of Jamie Farr. Go figure. Cluck! Cluck! Cluck!

5. History & Honeymoon: Part Three

20 years ago, my wife Victoria and I went to Gettysburg and other Civil War battlefields on our honeymoon! It’s true. I needed no other assurance that I had married the perfect woman. On our 20th anniversary we returned to Gettysburg. Now both students of the battle, we walked the battlefield on July 1, 2 and 3, 2010 on the 147th anniversary of that critical conflict. My four-part account of our battlefield tramping became one of the most popular items on the blog.

6. The Vic & Paul Show

After more than two decades off the stage, Victoria and I once again wrote and performed in an original musical comedy review, The Vic & Paul Show, in June at PUSH Lounge in Woodland Hills. It was the most fun we’ve had in years. We hope to bring the show to Chicago sometime in 2011. If you’re curious about what the show looked like — there are a series of clips on my YouTube channel. Click here to get there.

7. “I have not yet begun to fight!”

History and politics are two of my greatest passions — and this article combined the two. I’m gratified that so many people have continued to find it and read it since it was first posted on January 20, 2010 at the time of President Obama’s first State of the Union Address.

8. Le Salon de Crawford

I wrote this tribute to the incredible Crawford family early in the year — and I feel as though I must already write another. Ron and Sydney Crawford and their fabulous children are a gift that keeps on giving. I cannot imagine what this blog would have looked like in 2010 without all those wonderful Ron Crawford drawings lifting each post into the realm of true art. We love Ron & Syd. And we can’t say it enough.

9. Will California Buy a Used CEO this Election Year?

In an otherwise bleak mid-term election for progressives, California turned back the conservative tide by rejecting the self-funding, millionaire ex-CEO candidates, Meg Whitman for Governor and Carly Fiorina for Senator. Instead, liberal Democrat Barbara Boxer was returned to the U.S. Senate — and former “Governor Moonbeam” Jerry Brown was sent back to the California governor’s mansion (where he refused to live back in the 70’s). Maybe Jerry will pass on the mansion again. But thank goodness California passed on Meg and Carly.

10. The Practical Theatre Co. Part 3

This installment of my Practical Theatre history covered the insanely creative and productive period from the aftermath of the PTC’s headline-making success in 1982-83 to the closing of The John Lennon Auditorium in 1985. Looking back, it’s hard to believe a bunch of inexperienced, counterculturally-inclined twenty-somethings accomplished so much in so little time. That Practical spirit lives on today — and I hope this blog has helped in some small way to keep it alive.

11. The Matey’s Log: Sailing Season Begins

This blog has a nautical theme for one reason: Captain George Moll, who invited me to sail with him some years back, and instilled in me a love of the sea that had first been aroused by my reading of the entire Patrick O’Brian canon. I am grateful to Captain George for allowing me to serve as a crewman aboard his fleet of racing sailboats — and my accounts of several of our races proved to me among the most popular series of posts on the blog this year. And did I mention we won this year’s TGIS Series Championship? Hats off to Captain George!

12. A New Day of Glory for the Great (you heard me right) Cleveland Browns!

Great football teams bookend this list. When my beloved Cleveland Browns upset the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints in the early part of the 2010 NFL season, I was moved to write this remembrance of the Browns’ glorious past. Otto Graham, Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar are just a handful of the memorable stars that made history with the Cleveland Browns. Now, it’s up to Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis to write the next glorious chapter.

So, that’s the best of 2010. Stay tuned. Subscribe. Post those replies!

Here’s to another fine voyage in 2011!

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Filed under Random Commentary

A Salute to Walter Cronkite

“And that’s the way it is.”

Those of us who are of a certain age remember the days when there were only three TV networks (and those two weird UHF channels) – and network news was the Big Deal every night. In those years, back when the network evening news was an important daily event, Walter Cronkite was the Big Man Behind the Anchor Desk.

Walter Cronkite, the anchorman of CBS Evening News, was the most trusted man in America. Seriously. He really was. And he deserved our trust. After all, it was Walter Cronkite who went to Vietnam and said, essentially, game over: we’re losing and we should get out. (Can you imagine Wolf Blitzer going out on that limb?)

So, what’s happened to TV news since the days of the legendary Walter Cronkite?

Here’s a musical reflection on the gradual ruin of television news from “The Vic & Paul Show”, written and performed by Paul Barrosse and Victoria Zielinski — with musical director Steve Rashid.

The show was directed by Shelly Goldstein and performed in June 2010 at Push Lounge in Woodland Hills, CA.

This is the final installment of clips from “The Vic & Paul Show” available for free on this blog and on YouTube. The entire show will be available very soon on DVD. If you’re interested in getting a copy of the DVD, let me know by e-mail or via comment to this blog entry.

I’ll send you a copy of the whole show for $5.00 – which should just about cover the cost. (It’s the cheapest, coolest, and funniest Christmas gift ever!) You can send me a check when you get the DVD.

And that’s the way it is…

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Filed under Art, History, Music, Politics

“Now, Voyager” Revised

My wife is a huge Bette Davis fan and years ago she introduced me to one of Bette’s best films: Now, Voyager.

Based on the popular romantic novel by Olive Higgins Prouty, Now, Voyager was released in 1942. Mega-star Bette Davis was Oscar-nominated for her performance in the film, which was selected in 2007 by the Library of Congress for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry. Like all the great movies accorded that honor, Now, Voyager was deemed to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Now Voyager may be a timeless classic – but there’s one central aspect of the film that has not aged very well: all that smoking.

Of course, until the last 20 years or so, everybody smoked in the movies – and in the 40’s and 50’s, cigarette smoke filled nearly every romantic drama, gangster movie, western and film noir frame. But Now, Voyager made smoking a central character.

In the film’s signature moment, Paul Henreid lights two cigarettes in his mouth at the same time and hands one to Bette. Henreid’s ultra-romantic two-cigarette move was first used ten years earlier in the film, The Rich Are Always With Us – but when Paul Henreid did it in Now, Voyager — it caused a sensation. For years afterward, Henreid couldn’t go anywhere without women begging him to pop two cigarettes in his mouth and fire them up.

Back then — unlike Bette and Paul’s relatively chaste and unrequited lovers — Hollywood and the cigarette companies were in bed together. Check out this fine article for some eye-opening details on this unhealthy alliance, including Bette’s contract with Lucky Strikes – and Paul Henreid’s own radio promotion, using his role in Now, Voyager to flog cigarettes.

68 years later, Now, Voyager’s smoky and sensual signature bit of dramatic business just wouldn’t fly in today’s more health conscious, socially and politically correct Hollywood.

So, while we were working on “The Vic & Paul Show” early this year, we asked ourselves, “What would happen if Now Voyager was re-made in 2010?”

Here’s our answer to that question, performed puff by puff at the Push Lounge in Woodland Hills in June 2010.

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Filed under Art, History

Austen vs. iPhone

“The Vic & Paul Show” photos by Robert Mendel.

It was not all that long ago that men and women in the throes of romance took pen in hand to write long, expressive letters to each other.

Your parents probably wrote love letters to each other. And if you’re anywhere over the age of 35, you and your loved one probably did a lot of letter writing, too.

That’s not necessarily the case today. I imagine that stationery sales are not what they once were. Modern lovers now proclaim their undying devotion via e-mail and text messaging.

Instead of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s immortal prose…

How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach…

…today’s lovers are more likely to text:

do I luv u?
OMG!
xoxox
ILY, 6Y
Ur BF

The great romantic novelist Jane Austen, who was born on December 16th, 1775, lived and wrote in a world of quills and ink and letter writing. Her novels celebrate a time when people in love put their thoughts and emotions into words. Lots of words. Pages and pages of words. Relationships in the Age of Austen developed more slowly than today. There was time for reflection and expression. Lots of time. That was then

And now?

The first iPhone was introduced on January 9, 2007 – 190 years after Jane Austen’s death. An amazing technological marvel, the iPhone might also be the final death knell for romantic letter writing.

From what I’ve witnessed, texting is now the universally preferred method of communication between young people with a romantic interest in one another. In fact, they’d rather text than talk on the phone. I have two teenage daughters. Trust me. I’m not making this up.

So, when my wife Victoria and I were writing “The Vic & Paul Show” this year, we thought it would be fun to look back at the slower, more deliberate, literate and reflective expression of passion back in Jane Austen’s day – as opposed to today’s rapid-fire boy-girl TTYL texting.

“The Vic & Paul Show” was performed in June 2010 at Push Lounge in Woodland Hills with musical director Steve Rashid at the piano and directed by Shelly Goldstein.

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Filed under Art, Beauty

Mass Media Medea

What would happen if Medea was making the media rounds to promote her sensational new book?

No, not Tyler Perry’s “Madea”…

I’m talking about the infamous ancient Medea: the barbarian demigoddess of Greek mythology.

Medea’s lurid autobiography – a story of adventure, romance, scandal, revenge and murder — would be as big a bestseller today as it was back when the Oracle at Delphi drew bigger ratings than Fox News.

The same book publishers, news media and television networks that shamelessly flog the latest tell-all tomes by the famous and fallen would love to put Medea on the talk show circuit.

In recent years, the American public has shown either an increasing appetite for scandal or a short memory or both.

It’s one thing for author Andrew Morton to cash in by writing Monica’s Story, the authorized biography of Monica Lewinsky – but quite another for Monica herself to parade in front of the media like she’d actually accomplished something other than being a Friend of Bill with Benefits.

And while it took lots of chutzpah for a philandering, ethically disgraced politician like New Gingrich to write a book called Rediscovering God in America – the media hacks who interviewed Newt on his book tour (like Fox’s Sean Hannity) rarely, if ever, bothered to mention Newt’s serial adultery or the fact that he was the first Speaker of the House in history to be disciplined for ethical misconduct.

It’s even more ironic when you realize that Newt’s co-author, his third wife Callista Gingrich, was the woman he was having an affair with during the Congressional investigation of Bill Clinton and the Lewinsky scandal. And, how’s this for scandalous symmetry? Callista is 23 years younger than Newt: Monica is 27 years younger than Bill. Betcha Sean Hannity didn’t point that out.

And, like rubber-neckers at the scene of a traffic accident, there’s a segment of the public that just can’t ignore a book like Why I Stayed: The Choices I Made in My Darkest Hour, in which conservative former mega-church pastor Ted Haggard’s wife, Gayle Haggard, explained why she stayed with the holy rolling hypocrite after a 2006 scandal revealed his drug use and “massages” by a male prostitute.

Still, compared to Medea, these scandals are tame and not likely to stay anywhere near as long on the bestseller list. After all, Medea’s story has been a classic in print for more than 2,400 years.

 

The basics of Medea’s tale are headline-making stuff indeed. The daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis, Medea was the granddaughter of the sun god Helios, and later married the celebrated hero Jason (the guy with Argonauts). After helping Jason win immortal fame by bringing back the Golden Fleece, she settled down with him and they had two kids. Then, things broke bad for Medea.

According to Euripides in his play Medea, Jason dumped Medea for a younger woman, (Just like Newt Gingrich did.) It was William Congreve who wrote, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” That would make a good title for Medea’s tell-all book: an account of how she got her revenge on Creon, Glauce and Jason.

How did Medea get her revenge? If you don’t already know, hold on. I’m coming to that…

In recent decades, the character of Medea has been portayed by a trio of the greatest Greek actresses: Maria Callas, Melina Mercouri — and Victoria Zielinski.

In 1970, the opera singer Maria Callas starred in Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film adaptation of Medea. And in the 1978 film A Dream of Passion – the great Melina Mercouri (who was such a Greek national treasure they put her on a postage stamp) played as an actress portraying Medea who seeks out a mother who, like Medea, recently killed her children.

As for Victoria Zielinski, she was one of two exceptional women to address the Medea role in notable Los Angeles area productions in the past year. The three-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening played Medea in UCLA Live’s staging of the classic at the Freud Playhouse last fall. Bening got great reviews. But Victoria got a lot more laughs.

Here’s Victoria playing Medea in “The Vic & Paul Show” this past June at the Push Lounge in Woodland Hills.

The video clip doesn’t quite capture Drew McCoy’s great lighting plot, Emilia Barrosse’s timing on the light cues, or Shelly Goldstein’s dramatic direction — which made the live experience very special. But Victoria’s bravura performance blends Callas, Mercouri and Arianna Huffiington into a Medea to remember…

Which brings us back to the opening question: What would happen if Medea was making the media rounds to promote her sensational new book?

 

Jesse James’ tattoo-laden mistress is actually scarier than Medea.

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