the next service is in Los Angeles on June 11

Monthly Archives: May, 2014

From our Grand Poobah | Can You Feel It?


Ok! Summer’s on the way and what a beautiful season’s it’s been. We have just started to wind things down with our services BUT NOT BEFORE A BIG, BOFFO finish and end to the season. We had our final NYC service this past Sunday – the theme was MEMORY. The next will be in LA on Sunday, June 22nd – the theme will be ADVENTURE. We already have a great line-up of performers and presenters and, as usually, I’m really excited for a trip to wonderful Los Angeles. Right after that, we’ll be back in NYC for our benefit – Monday, June 30th at Dixon Place. This is the annual benefit that was supposed to happen in February but got snowed out! So, it’s going to be a summer benefit instead and, who knows, maybe it’ll be a new annual tradition. Fewer blizzards in June. At the end of July, we’ll be bringing the whole show to Woodstock at the historic Byrdcliffe Theater – how exciting to start branching out to other towns. Someday, we’ll be all over the country with our green fueled bus and a big tent – bringing the magic of The Secret City to the people everywhere. In the meantime – join us wherever and whenever you can. And, if this connection via the website is all we’ve got right now – well, then that’s just fine, too. We’re connected regardless of where we are in the world.

Oh, one more piece of news – in addition to the benefit, we’ll also be launching our annual online fund-drive. Watch out for news about that – mid-June.

So, lots of excitement in the air – in the immortal words of The Jacksons – Can You Feel It?



Upcoming Events

Surf’s Up! And, we are heading back to Cali, friends. Our final LA service of the season will be Sunday, June 22nd at 12noon at the fabulous Bootleg Theater. The theme is ADVENTURE! Perfect send-off for a summer of love, travel, fun and mystery…and, who doesn’t want a summer like that?? Join us for a raucous, joyful, sacred, beautiful celebration of art, community and joy. Oh, and there might be chocolate covered ants…what?


Jamie Brickhouse | Featured Writer


Jamie Brickhouse has been a big part of the success of the secret city over the past several years – he was the chair of our board and shepherded us from small, grassroots art project to legit non-profit. he recently stepped down to launch his own business – the redbrick agency – and, to complete his upcoming memoirs- Dangerous When Wet. This is an excerpt that appeared recently on Huffington Post/Gay Voices – about sobriety and showbiz, it’s a beautiful tribute to them both.


India Kotis | Immigrating to the Promised Land

India Kotis is a junior at LaGuardia High School of the Performing Art in NYC. She’s a filmmaker and shared her recent short film at our service on THE FOOL, back in April. The film is here for your enjoyment: Immigrating to the Promised Land.


Jeremy Bass | Passenger


In addition to being the music director for The Secret City, Jeremy Bass is also an accomplished poet, having received his Master’s at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. Since then he’s been published in various journals around the country for his thoughtful reviews as well as his really beautiful poetry. On Sunday in NYC, for our service on MEMORY, he read one of his poems, the title poem to just completed manuscript. Here it is. [Oh, ps – Perkinjie Shift refers to the phenomenon whereby the sky during the daytime becomes overcast and darker and the light and environment appear to get brighter.]






Will rain fall we don’t know

only a few drops seem willing to answer.


High clouds the hulls of unseen ships

parked their dented blue enamel over our heads


each rib of cloud an arched gunnel

longer than the highway we drove on


the family car no larger beneath

than a splinter of steel. Will it rain we don’t know


why this dark lowering its metal around us

brightens suddenly the veins of leaves almost


lifting into air. Ten years old from the passenger seat

I watch fields darkening low trunks and leaves


rinsed in a chemical glow as my mother

explains Purkinje Shift the loss of light the eye


finding brightness in the lowering storm. Will it rain

we’re not sure are there even ships above those hulls


can we ever know their rigging how their sails fill

with the breath of the dead? As she


who has long been a passenger on that voyage

continues to coast down the same highway


across years she names what I cannot each tree

glowing in the encroaching dark each leaf


a memory lifting in silence to speak to me—

maple tulip hemlock cypress ash.




The Cultural Calendar | 5.18.14

cultural calandar

Today is Sunday, May 18th, 2014. It is the 138th day of the year. There are 227 days remaining until the end of the year. We are in the sign of Taurus – there’s a fine line between homebody and hoarder.


Today is World AIDS Vaccine Day



1830, Edwin Budding of England signed an agreement for manufacture of his invention, the lawn mower. Weekends will never be the same.

In 1926, Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson vanished in Venice. California She showed up a month later and said she had been kidnapped.

In 1960, Jean Genet’s, “The Balcony,” premiered in Paris.

In 1965, Gene Roddenberry suggested 16 names for the role of the captain in Star Trek. Kirk was one of them.

And, in 1974, “The Streak” by Ray Stevens hit #1 on the charts.



Director Frank Capra in 1897. Meredith Willson, who wrote The Music Man, in 1902. Blues man Big Joe Turner in 1911. Perry Como in 1912. Ballerina Margot Fonteyn in 1919. Actor Choy Yun Fat in 1955. The great Tina Fey in 1950. And, singer/songwriter Jack Johnson was born on this day in 1975.

Gustav Mahler in 1911. Playwright William Saroyan in 1981. And, Elizabeth Montgomery, from Bewitched, died on this day in 1993.




  • Leah Coloff, who plays cello with The Secret City Band, will be appearing at Spectrum on the Lower East Side, celebrating the release of her new record, ThisTree, songs of love, family and connection. Saturday, May 24th at 9pm. Info:
  • The Red Gloves Performance Group, created by Billy Schultz and Geneviève Leloup, creates a living comic strip that combines the rigor of dance, the expression of theater and a powerful sense of humor that pulls no punches. With live music from pianist and composer Amir Khosrowpour. May 28 & 29 at 8PM at Irondale Center in Brooklyn – tickets available through brownpaper tickets, for info visit their facebook page – the red gloves.
  • Summerworks, the annual new works festival from Clubbed Thumb, will run from May 30th to July 5th at Wild Project. There are 3 great new plays with a fabulous line-up of actors. Visit for details.
  • Showgasm, a raucous variety show with performances ranging from hilarious to titillating to utterly inappropriate. At Ars Nova, Thursday, June 5th at 9pm. With Drew Droege, Kim Katzberg and additional fabulous performers to be announced. Press release says: “WARNING: May lead to spontaneous singing, dancing and/or an unexpected climax.” All this for only $5, visit for tickets.
  • Sandra Bargman’s new cabaret show, The Edge of Everyday, explores the territory where resistance collides with inevitability in a musical ritual of covers and original songs. Saturday, June 7th at 7pm at the Duplex. Visit for information.
  • June 11 is the 1st Anniversary show of Dead Darlings at Judson Memorial Church!  An all-star lineup of writers, performers and musicians, perform their cut, rejected, or otherwise dead-on-the-desktop material.  Music and wine at 7:30, show at 8. It’s FREE. See Raquel Cion or check out the facebook page “Dead Darlings.”
  • Encore Encore a new play about the private life of Dorothy Parker runs June 12-15 at Gallery Players in Brooklyn. Visit or see Paula for details.
  • The great cartoonist and author Lynda Barry has a show of her work running at Adam Baumgold Gallery on the Upper West Side, featuring drawings, comics, watercolors and mixed media collages from the past 35 years, the show runs until July 11th.
  • And the benefit for The Secret City rescheduled from the winter, will take place here at Dixon Place, Monday, June 30th. Watch your emails for details.


From Our Grand Poobah | Greetings from Cleveland, Ohio!


Greetings from Cleveland, Ohio! A little acting gig fell in my lap this week – I’m working on a new play by Heidi Schreck, directed by Kip Fagan. It’s part of a new works festival here at Cleveland Playhouse which is a really amazing place – a regional theater that will celebrate in 100th anniversary next year. Anyway, I flew in on Tuesday and we’ve been working in the rehearsal room – doing table work – one of my all-time favorite things to do. There will be a staged reading on Saturday and then, bam, fly back home on Sunday.

It’s been years since I’ve worked on a play – the thing I dedicated so much of my life to. When I started The Secret City, I put that part of my life on hold, I guess, and dedicated myself to building the organization and planning and producing our monthly events. It feels great to be back in the room with actors and theater folk – to be in the midst of a company. And, to play a character – I’ve been playing the Chris Wells character pretty exclusively for several years now and it’s fun to slip back into someone else. And, it’s a great part – an erudite homeless man and recovering addict named Frog, who visits this soup kitchen in the Bronx, where the play is set. It’s called GRAND CONCOURSE.

Other highlights of the week will be a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art tomorrow night and, two other shows here at the festival, compliments of the Playhouse: Grounded by George Brant and Informed Consent by Deborah Zoe Laufer.

I skipped going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – admission is $22…I don’t know, I really wanted to check it out but, I’m on a budget! And 22 bucks seems steep to me…

I still can change my mind, here till Sunday. If anyone out there thinks I should just go for it, let me know. Would be nice to supplement the theater and fine art with some ROCK AND ROLL energy. It’s just that rock n roll has gotten expensive…

Ok, off to rehearsal. I love saying those words.

Then it’s back to NY and prepping for our next service on May 18th, our annual celebration of MEMORY, what life is full of all the time, swirling all around.


Clayton Dean Smith | Cultural Calendar

Clayton Dean Smith

Delighted to present Clayton Dean Smith, who’ll be reading the Cultural Calendar for us this month. Clayton is an actor, writer and advocate in New York City, by way of Kansas City and San Francisco. He serves as Chair of the Parks Committee and 2nd Vice Chair of Manhattan’s Community Board Five. He lives on the Lower East Side and believes in booze as a culinary ingredient.


Bombay Rickey | Featured Performers


I really love this band and am so excited to have them play for us at our service on Sunday, May 18th – Bombay Rickey!

Called “the future of music” (New York Music Daily), Bombay Rickey is a five-piece band from Ditmas Park, Brooklyn that writes original music straddling the boundaries of surf, cumbia, spaghetti-Western, and Bollywood, balanced out with a little coloratura soprano. The band features Kamala Sankaram: vocals, accordion; Drew Fleming: guitar, vocals; Jeff Hudgins: alto saxophone, vocals; Gil Smuskowitz: upright bass; and Brian Adler: percussion. All longtime NY musicians, the five members of Bombay Rickey have done previous work with John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Chicha Libre, and Alarm Will Sound, to name a few. Bombay Rickey will release its debut album, Cinefonia, this fall. And, they’ll play for us at our final NYC service of the season, the theme will be MEMORY. Yeehaw!

Bombay 5-0 from Kamala Sankaram on Vimeo.

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