All the world’s a bar…I mean a stage.

All the world’s a stage…

And nowhere is this more apparent than in a Brooklyn bar on a Friday night. Or any bar that’s conscious of its own “bar-ness,” its own esthetic sensibility. It’s a stage, set with a certain décor that bespeaks speakeasies and times no one there is old enough to remember (that includes the grey-haired intern in the corner) yet for which everyone seems to have a certain bizarre nostalgia. (This nostalgia is about to go full-tilt batshit commercial crazy when Baz Luhrmann’s “Gatsby” hits the screens. In fact, it’s already got a full head of steam as Brooks Brothers displays are happily hawking the suits that make the man in his twenties look like it’s the twenties. Excuse me old sport, but does that suit come with a matching flask?) It’s a stage recognized from movies and TV, stories that trace outlines of archetypal locations in our collective pop-conscious. It’s dark enough to provide shelter and light enough to invite curiosity. The faces flashing forth in the windblown candles’ flickering light, dancing shadows on the walls. The place teems with just enough je ne sais quoi that you know exactly what’s what. People are out to hang out. This is the pretense we’ve agreed to believe. Our suspension of disbelief. What we’re really out to do is to watch and be seen and to inhabit this stage.

And all the men and women merely playa’s…

Everyone is here to play a part. Costumes creating character as we stare at each other and write lines in our heads about how the others see us while we watch them. (In a Broadway echoing announcement we hear that tonight’s role of the aloof, slightly intoxicated observer in the corner will be played by The Gray-Haired Intern. I too assume a guise.) All of us acting out roles while scribbling scripts on the fly, like a mad-hatter improv party. We shed our weekday day-time parts in the hope of adding drama to our comedy, or comedy to our drama, or dimension to our docudramedy. There is everything and nothing going on. Drinking the preferred way to pretend you’re doing something. Each of us the slightly out of focus background characters in each other’s show, getting more out of focus with each passing glass, wondering who might step forth into a guest-starring appearance as we hear canned applause in our heads or music surge at just the right moment.

There’s no denying we play roles. Even if I say I play no role, I’m just playing the role of the person who refuses to play a role. There’s no escaping the spotlight of self-awareness.

Stumbling through their exits and their entrances…

And so I exit the multitude of plays happening on this small set and enter many others. Strutting and fretting my hour upon the stage, right on over to the taco shop.

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One thought on “All the world’s a bar…I mean a stage.

  1. Good to read your voice. Glad the wit is still there, as is the barstool, as is the bar, and you, my friend, the unshaven Bukowski.

    Living on a lighted stage
    Approaches the unreal
    For those who think and feel
    In touch with some reality
    Beyond the gilded cage.

    Cast in this unlikely role
    Ill-equipped to act
    With insufficient tact
    One must put up barriers
    To keep oneself intact.

    Living in the limelight
    The universal dream
    For those who wish to seem.
    Those who wish to be
    Must put aside the alienation,
    Get on with the fascination,
    The real relation,
    The underlying theme.

    Living in a fisheye lens,
    Caught in the camera eye.
    I have no heart to lie
    I can’t pretend a stranger
    Is a long-awaited friend.

    All the world’s indeed a stage
    And we are merely players:
    Performers and portrayers,
    Each another’s audience
    Outside the gilded cage.

    RUSH (it just doesn’t get much lyrically better, or apropos to your blog)

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