Winter Tour Journal, 2013, Entry III, Confounded

Posted: February 5th, 2013

Hola mi,

Phew! What a set of great shows over the past weekend! If the opening salvo of the winter tour is an indication of what’s to come, I’d advise one and all to make an extra effort to attend one of the upcoming shows. Whilst the temperature outside was dropping south of no north, inside the Best Buy Theater the boys were white hot. There was serious toe-tapping, hip-swaying, head-bopping mojo everywhere. People were excited and happy. And with that comes great reward. I can honestly tell you my friends, the energy you bring to the theater channels right to the stage.

For me, as always, I enjoyed seeing all the old familiar faces and meeting a few new ones. It’s one of the great perks of being on the road, that, and getting to know the towns and cities where moe. plays.

By my last day, Times Square became less of a challenge and more entertaining and enlightening. During the afternoon, I ran into Woody from Toy Story and Mickey Mouse having a chat. I was nearing 45th and Broadway. They stood just about nose-to-nose, and their big mellon-sized cartoon heads were bobbing and jerking around. I thought they were being playful. But then I realize that they were talking kind of loud. Shouting really loud. At each other. Angrily. And they were yelling in Spanish. I know what you’re thinking. I didn’t know Woody or Mickey were Mexican, either. I hear the word “mama” and “puta” spoken liberally. I translate with a computer-like efficiency that would have even impressed my high school Spanish teacher—the same guy who awarded me a “D” just for remaining conscious during the dullest nine months of my life. Roughly, well, it turns out Woody’s momma’s a whore!!! Which, as Dr. Phil might say, goes a long way in explaining his chosen life path as a lonesome cowboy, riding his beloved horse, Bullseye, across the high prairie.

I would have liked to share the outcome with you, my, but time was against me. I was also distracted by a well-dressed, middle-aged man rapidly approaching me like we were old friends. His hand was extended, and just as I reached to shake it like we rowed together at Yale, he asked me for a buck. Presumably, the one I held in my other hand. Man, this guy really disappointed me. Obviously, he didn’t know what he was doing. The previous evening, after the show, as I made my way back to the hotel in 15 degree weather, I encountered panhandlers and bums on every corner. In that walk, I counted more bums on Broadway than plays or musicals. Not one would dare dress as a Yale man and expect a return. Poverty is supposed to be a wretched sight to behold. I think that was lost upon him. For all the charitable donations, awareness, public and private institutional giving, and so on, it—poverty—persists. It’s there, thriving, on the fringe, in every city, town, and village I go to. I’ve concluded there must be an art in sustaining poverty beyond the callous indifference to human suffering. The key is as much in the giving as in the receiving. On an institutional level, you need to target the recipients carefully if you really want to get nowhere and keep your job. It’s easier to help people who can help themselves than help people who cannot. Especially, when the person you’re helping is yourself.

The Yale man has not learned this yet. When I had no dollar in my hand for him, he brushed it aside and moved on to the next person. I would have watched him further, but I had to go. The road to Pittsburgh beckoned. Besides, the dollar I had in my hand was for the guy hunkered over an air vent, wrapped in a dog blanket, shivering like a quivering mass of protoplasmic jelly. Confounded by what I should do or what can be done, I handed him the bill, and walked on.

The bright lights in the big city continue to distract me.

YOY must it be? John