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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

April 6: Kansas earnings

Distracted driving #1: Kansas tilts

Distracted Driving #2: Kansas is flat

After my feverish night in Tuscarora, Gail armed me with a bag of fresh-baked bran muffins and I headed straight for a drugstore in Elko. I didn't feel very well at the outset of my 800-mile drive but that's what off-brand No-Doz and flu medication are for. Next stop was Denver, where I would stay with my cousins, but I'm one of those hybrid-driving mileage slowpokes and with all the medications coursing through my system I had to keep pulling over to pee so it was nearly midnight when I found myself in an opaque fog, in the middle of the Medicine Bow National Forest, going 20 mph while semis passed me at, what, 100? They have the road and the placement of stray deer memorized, apparently, but I didn't, so I gave up on Denver and cousins and pulled over and spread my queen-sized memory foam mattress pad (Craig's List, $60) over my luggage in the back seat and curled up and slept, very well thank you, and woke up six hours later and kept driving. By the time I crossed into Kansas I felt perfectly healthy - whatever was wrong with me, I must have scared the shit out of it. 

Driving through Kansas, it occurred to me that once I landed in Lindsborg, I would have to play the Tchaikovsky concerto for my teachers, Lee Becker and her husband Allan Harlock. So at the next rest stop, I found a little picnic shelter and spent 20 minutes practicing. On my way back to the car, a large man in a plaid shirt and wide white visor stepped out of his Winnebago and handed me a dollar. 

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Paul Festa’s first film, Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006, 51 min), captures the responses of 31 artists to the apocalyptic music of Olivier Messiaen (with Justin Bond, John Cameron Mitchell, Harold Bloom; screenings: Grace Cathedral, Barbican Centre, Library of Congress; “Remarkable”The New Yorker; “Stunning”Chicago Sun-Times; “Sublime”Globe & Mail; numerous awards). Festa performs the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, opposite members of the San Francisco Ballet and The Cockettes, in his award-winning second film, The Glitter Emergency (2010, 20 min), a silent-film drag ballet comedy (“Enormous visual and musical inventiveness…full of pleasure and joy...Festa gives a bravura performance."—Film Threat). He produced, wrote and edited, with director Austin Forbord, and was chief archivist, for the Emmy-nominated documentary Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco (2010, 80 min: with Robin Williams, Bill Irwin, Peter Coyote; screenings: Geary Theater, KQED; “Intriguing...entertaining...a valuable record”—Variety). Performances as violinist and actor: ODC Theater, Center for Performance Research, Kunst-Stoff, TheatreFIRST, North Bay Shakespeare, Albert Fuller's Helicon Ensemble (Merkin Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall). US, Boston, NYC, SF, LA and DC (Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress on the “Betts” Stradivarius) premieres of Messiaen’s Fantaisie for violin and piano. He is the author of OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, based on Apparition of the Eternal Church, and several anthologized essays, and has written for The Daily Beast, Salon, Nerve, and The New York Times Book Review. Current projects include a novel and Tie It Into My Hand (2014, ca. 80 min), a documentary feature that has screened as a work in progress at the Cannes film market and at ODC Theater in San Francisco (with Alan Cumming, Gary Graffman, Peter Coyote, Mink Stole, Robert Pinsky; "A fascinating exploration of the artistic life, as rollickingly entertaining as it is insightful and stirring."San Francisco Bay Guardian). Education: Yale (B.A.; prizes, honors, distinction), Juilliard (Cert., Adv. Cert., scholarships). Residencies: Yaddo, MacDowell, ODC Theater, Centre des R├ęcollets.