It’s spring break: Scatter hits the links

CarlosAlexis Cruz and Mayra Acevedo as Pedro and his militant wife on an attempt to confront a human in "A Suicide Note from a Cockroach." Photo: Drew Foster

No, not the golf course. Mr. and Mrs. Scatter do not do the Scottish thing. (Maybe the Scotch thing, but that’s different.) This morning the Scattermobile is heckbent for the Oregon coast to take the salty waters for a few days, Large Smelly Boys in tow and hoping that some Susan Cooper on tape will quell the teen and pre-teen insurrections.

The Scatter notebooks will be included among the various baggage for this trek into the semi-wild, and yet we cannot guarantee that anything will emerge from them. Perhaps. Perhaps not. But the ingestion of clam chowder and fresh oysters is a better bet.

In the meantime, let’s do the links. Here are a few things from other places we think you might like to read:

COCKROACHES BITE THE BIG ONE. On Saturday night Mr. Scatter went to Imago Theatre to catch Pelu Theatre’s circus-skill performance of A Suicide Note from a Cockroach …, an hour-long spectacle based on Nuyorican poet Pedro Pietri’s 1979 piece A Suicide Note from a Cockroach in a Low Income Housing Project. It’s good, utterly nonrealistic stuff. A brief review is in this morning’s Oregonian, and you can read the the longer Oregon Live version here.

Melody Owen, "Drought in Kenya -- Buffalo," Elizabeth Leach GalleryMELODY FOR THE MEEK. Portland artist Melody Owen has a pair of shows up in town, one at Elizabeth Leach Gallery and one in The Art Gym at Marylhurst University.

They are both elegant exhibitions, and both consider, to one degree or another, the position in our midst of the meek — specifically, of the members of the animal kingdom, who have no say in the decisions that humans make about the world in which they live. Mr. Scatter reviewed the shows on Friday in A&E; you can read it here.

PBS UNPLUGS THE ARTS. Scatter friend Holly Sanders relayed this column from the always provocative Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal.

Notice a dumbing-down of arts programming on PBS, America’s public-interest television network? It’s not your imagination: After years of stolid denials by PBS brass, even the network’s chief is now admitting it. Teachout’s rallying cry: Less Nutcracker and Antiques Roadshow, more Lynn Nottage and Samuel Barber. Whatcha think? It’s worth a read.

Silk Parachute, essays by John McPheeTHE GEOLOGY OF DESIRE. Perhaps the most significant of many significant things we can say about John McPhee is that he makes geology fascinating. Way back last Sunday Mr. Scatter reviewed Silk Parachute, McPhee’s newest collection of essays, mostly from The New Yorker; you can read it here.

One of McPhee’s essays is a warm salute to the extraordinary fact checkers of The New Yorker, whose abilities he has come to rely upon utterly. Nobody fact-checks like The New Yorker’s fact-checkers, he points out; especially most book publishing houses. (The lesson: If it’s reliable accuracy you’re after in a book, check out one whose contents were published in The New Yorker first.)

Reading it reminded Mr. Scatter of a Rising Young Playwright he profiled several years ago for a newspaper of high factual standards. (That is, for a newspaper, which as an institution perpetually in a rush to ferret out and record the first draft of history, of its nature sometimes gets things wrong.)

In the course of the interview Mr. Scatter asked the RYP, who had recently spent some months in New York, what he liked about being in a bigger city and whether he thought he might relocate for good. RYP replied that for career reasons he might have to eventually move, and that he loved New York’s larger pool of good actors.

Mr. Scatter recorded those thoughts, and the RYP blew a gasket. He posted a rebuttal on a local theater Web site, claiming that he had been misquoted and then archly blaming the Reputable Newspaper for not having fact-checkers to call him up and, presumably, allow him to reinvent his quote. It was the slipshod press’s fault, he proclaimed: The fair burg in which he still temporarily resided was simply chock full of wonderful actors whom he’d be proud to have in his shows.

Now, Mr. Scatter knew what Mr. Rising Young Playwright said. Mr. Rising Young Playwright knew what Mr. Rising Young Playwright said. Mr. Rising Young Playwright knew that Mr. Scatter knew what Mr. Rising Young Playwright said. And yet. Those missing fact-checkers, apparently, were large enough to cover Mr. Rising Young Playwright’s exposed behind.

The last we heard, Mr. RYP was in A Very Large City Somewhere to the South. We’re not sure how he’s doing on that accuracy thing.

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ILLUSTRATIONS, from top:

– CarlosAlexis Cruz and Mayra Acevedo as Pedro and his militant wife on an attempt to confront a human in “A Suicide Note from a Cockroach …” Photo: Drew Foster

– Melody Owen, “Drought in Kenya — Buffalo,” Elizabeth Leach Gallery

– “Silk Parachute,” essays by John McPhee.

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a Portland-centric arts and culture blog