Category Archives: Kultcha

Go See ‘White Guy on the Bus’

GablesStage has a terrific production on of Bruce Graham’s ‘White Guy on the Bus’. It has many moments of brutal truth about race relations, and some nicely abrupt surprises that I don’t want to ruin.

At the start of the play we meet suburbanites Ray (Tom Wahl), a successful investment manager to the monied class who has vague dreams of chucking it all, and his indomitable wife, Rox (Mia Maththews), who teaches in a tough inner-city school. Their young friends, Christopher (Ryan Didato, fresh from Zoetic Stage’s lively ‘Wrongful Death and Other Circus Acts’) and Molly (Whitney Grace), live in the city. Christopher is getting ready to defend his thesis. But he’s worried that he might run into a buzz-saw of political correctness, although the topic doesn’t sound terriblly controversial to my perhaps jaded ear and he certainly sounds well-prepared. Molly, whom Ray and Rox find a bit naive, teaches in a ‘nice’ school and starts the play as the least-defined character, perhaps because we’re seeing things more from Ray’s and Rox’s perspective, and they’ve known Matthew since he was four.

There’s a key fifth character, Black bus-rider Shatique (Rita Joe), to whom Ray is the ‘white guy on the bus’. Ray strikes up a conversation. Shatique is spending all day working and studying to become a nurse; she sees her son only once a week because he lives with her mother in a safer neighborhood. Shatique is understandably puzzled as to why a white guy in a suit and tie is on a bus — and especially this bus. And that turns out to be a good question.

The play starts out a bit preachy-sounding, but that is as much misdirection as prelude. Everyone is going to have their balloons punctured by the end. Or worse.

Michael Leeds (more commonly found directing at the Island City Stage) directed, making this a rare GablesStage production not directed by Joseph Adler — who no doubt has his hands full trying to get GablesStage relocated to a rehabbed Coconut Grove Playhouse. Leeds gets great performances out of all his cast, particularly Wahl, Joe, and Matthews.

GablesStage always has great sets (blame Lyle Baskin). This one, which allows for seamless (indeed overlapping) transitions between scenes works particularly well to serve the plot twists in the play.

That this play shines light in dark places can’t be denied. But if it has a moral other than ‘race relations are ugly, life is complicated, brutal, and a lot of things suck’ it was kind of lost on me. Do any of the characters get what they originally wanted? Maybe, but to the extent some do it is certainly safe to say that not one gets anything they want — or later decides to want — in any way they possibly could have wanted. This is not uplifting theater, and the only truck it has with easy answers is to stomp on them very hard. This play doesn’t sugarcoat. But is a really good production of a smart play — one that notably does not suffer from the second act letdown that can infect the kind of small cast plays that find their way to the little stage in the Biltmore. 

If you like good theater, go see it and support what has to be one of the best regional theaters in the country. The run is until Sept. 9, and there are student tickets for some shows.

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Parody Project

Parody Project’s “Confounds the Sciednce”, says David Brin, is “One of the best pieces of musical political satire I’ve seen in years!“:

Parody Project are prolific. Leaving the science tag, I like What Does the Gun Say?, Where Have all the Statesmen Gone?, The Age that Will Bury Us, and Battle Hymn of the Republic – Modified for Relevance:

There’s lots more where that came from.

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When the Featured is the Whole Feature

I recently spent three minutes and forty-two seconds of my life that I will never get back listening to DJ Khaled – I Believe (from Disney’s A WRINKLE IN TIME) ft. Demi Lovato on YouTube. (In my defense, it autoplayed.)

I admit I totally don’t get the appeal of either artist, especially DJ Khaled–and not because of some non-existent aversion to rap either. But de gustibus non est disputandum and all that. So my question is not why does this basically uninteresting song have more than 1.6 million views — autoplay, right? or maybe movie tie-in — but rather, how can this possibly be called a song by DJ Khaled featuring Demi Lovato, when by my very rough count (I will not make myself play it again) he supplies the audio for less than 15 seconds and appears on the video doing his arm-wavy thing for at most a little more than that.

She does all the work, it’s his song with her ‘guest’ vocal?

By the way, Chloe x Halle’s Warrior from the same soundtrack, while in no way ground-breaking, is much nicer and the video also better-looking:

Yet as of this writing it has only under 400K views, less than a quarter of the other one.

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Weird Al does Hamilton

The genius of Weird Al Yankovic is marrying sympathy for the material he parodies with a childish (sophomoric seems too grown up) comedic sensibility. His Hamilton medley featuring an accordion was I suppose inevitable.

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Bow Ties are In Again

“This year’s draft broke the record for the most freshmen chosen, but the real record might have been for the most bow ties worn by draftees.” – NYT, Bow Ties and Statement Sneakers at the N.B.A. Draft

As someone who, when wearing a tie, has worn only bow ties since college (funerals and juries excepted), I’m happy to hear it. Over the years I’ve been asked if the bow tie meant I was a follower of Elijah Muhammed (yes, really, a first year student asked me that about 20 years ago), or a conservative (I blame George Will and Tucker Carlson for the tarnishment). I’m much happier to be associated with the fashion-forward NBA.

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Monster Mashup

I’m guessing that most of the readers of this blog won’t care, and some others won’t agree, but I think it’s a shame that this piece of mashup brilliance by the Kleptones has only had fewer than 62000 views on YouTube since being uploaded exactly seven years ago. Even if the ending is abrupt.

Wikipedea on the Kleptones:

The Kleptones are a one-man English electronic music group fronted by music producer and DJ Eric Kleptone. They are best known for their Internet-exclusive mashup albums. Typically, Eric Kleptone mixes rock/R&B instrumentals with rap and hip-hop vocals in a style that is “fun… and often surprising”.[1] Both his name and the group’s name are parodies of the famous guitarist, Eric Clapton, and a play on the fact that he is a “klepto of tones” (that is, he “steals” others’ music).

Update: OK, I see 125K views on Vimeo, which is a little better, but still way short of what it deserves.

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