Jack Layton's Endocrine system. This is a tough one. On July 25, Canadians discovered that the leader of the NDP, a folk hero to some, a super hero to others, the eveready bunny to hacks during the election, and an irritant to many who still hold liberal principles close to their hearts, has a very bad cancer. (cbc report) This man who defied enormous odds, rewrote the books on the political landscape in Canada, announced that he needed to step down as leader of the party until September 19, 2011. His first reported bout of cancer (prostate) was he said on the mend, looking good,  however there is a new cancer, an unnamed one, that requires his full attention. And we all know it... it is very bad. This fire starter of a man, this gattling gun with an unerring smile, this steam engine, has lost his power and we are left on the side of the road with a "wha happened?" or a "quest-ce qui ce passe?" It sucks. he is an amazing guy. When I was Artistic Director at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre he and Olivia Chow would show up and work on behalf of queer voices. they would show up and support the art. They were contributors, IN A MAJOR WAY. Jack Layton is the reason the NDP did what they did in the last election. Cancer threatens to dismantle this. He has named an interim leader who I trust will conduct herself perfectly well in the interim. But really this can only be seen as failure. Defined how you will. There is little hope for change in the tidal wave of "rightness" and this recent addition to the cosmic order sends ever greater waves into our oceans. But for all of that I send love and wishes for the fullest of recoveries and thanks for doing so much good that makes this news so horrible. Failure often shows up in the shadows of  incomprehensible success.
This one feels a bit like a freebie or a cheap shot. Then again I have never before paid so much money  to be able to say this. Spiderman: Turn of the Dark. I finally saw it this week. On February 7 the following review was published on the front page of the New York TImes This is unprecedented. This review was written before the show opened (along with many others) and  this was before Julie Taymor was relieved of her duties. Here is a link to the NYT review that was published on June 14.(Published after Taymor was gone and the show closed and reopened again) I paid close to $150.00 to see this show. I was overcome by just how terrible the music was. I could not believe how lacking the whole event was in story, character development or "the something to say" factor. And the acting  was  - to be kind - uneven. It is a failure of enormous proportion. And yet. I would recommend it to anybody and here is why: There are few who can claim to matchJulie Taymor's visual imagination and capacity to implement this imagination. She is a talent of monstous proportion. And this talent is in rich evidence throughout the 2 and a half hours of mish mash. When she hits her moments the hair on the back of my neck responds. And the flying. I have never seen anything like it. For about 25 quality seconds. These 25 seconds are worth it. The rest of it not so much. And finally the title song and (I would argue the whole reason for this piece ever having been made) the beauty of Arachne. I think there is little doubt that Julie Taymor had a brilliant and original idea. I think too that Bono and the Edge "got it" when she first proposed it. A story about the origins of Spiderman, a story about the mother, about birth, hell, a story about Oedipus retold for today. The one song, the title song, is a beautiful song. And all of the work that comes as a result of Arachne is stunning. It is a great failure because everyone else (including this production) wants Spiderman! Arachne is for a smaller stage. Arachne lives in the dark. And this piece will  - I am afraid  - keep it that way. So see it before you can't. You will not regret it. Failure is staggeringly beautiful.