Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Late Wednesday

Thanks to everyone who donated to the fund drive to fix Jon’s car and help him get back to work. The goal was $1500. We raised $2270. That alone made it a great day.

Last night I had heard my new play, “How We Know You,” read by actors for the first time, in a first rehearsal for a small invited reading on Saturday night. The cast — two women and a man — are all veteran theatre actors, with many dozens (hundreds?) of credits. Only a truly great actor can be funny and ambiguous in a menacing role without seeming too menacing, which must mean that Dana Schwartz is a truly great actor. Which is certainly my theory. Some people immediately get my plays, and she one of those people. About 12 years ago, we did a reading of my play “Safehouse” at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood.  I knew then that the play doesn’t fully work, but Dana, and Richard Ruyle, and James Smith, were so great in the play that people got confused and thought the play was great. (At least, until it wasn’t.) But watching Dana last night made me think that, yes, I should pull that play out at some point and try to fix it.

I’m in the San Francisco Bay area and Napa Valley today until Friday night. Given how many different places I’m going, and that I’d have to drive to an airport, park, clear TSA, wait, board, rent a car, drive all over the place anyway, and repeat the process in reverse two days later, I decided just to drive. It took me about four hours to get to my first stop. (Google maps had predicted 6 hours, but we’re not going to talk about that, although I will say at some point I noticed I was doing 102 and decided that might be excessive.)

I can testify that from all visual evidence, the drought is definitely over. In the 29 years I’ve lived in this state, and the innumerable road trips I’ve taken, I’ve never seen the center of the state so filled with lakes. Large lakes, populated by waterfowl, neither of which used to be there. As the line from Coleridge goes, “Water, water, everywhere.” The last several years I’ve been up here, the hills were a caked brown. Now they shimmer with green.  One thing that hasn’t changed:  the ferocious bugs that spatter across your windshield as you drive through the grapevine and stick like glue. No amount of squeegeeing gets them off.

Finally, an endorsement. Every once in a while, Fuddruckers lives up to its claim to have the world’s best hamburgers. Tonight was one of those times. Driving was smooth all day until I hit the crush of cars leaving San Jose around 5 (of course). After about an hour in which I made every phone call I could think to make, and listened to the news, and grew tired of every bit of music in my catalog, I figured it’d make more sense to have a beer and something to go with it while waiting out the traffic. My GPS located a Fuddruckers right along the way. I can’t offhand think of another chain in California where you can get a too-large burger cooked just right, plus steak fries, plus a side salad and, thank you Lord, an ice-cold craft beer, for eighteen bucks. I sat down to enjoy it and as a passing thought wondered what Anthony Bourdain would think of it, when I flipped over the copy of the New Yorker I’d brought inside to read with my meal — and there was a profile of Anthony Bourdain. Timing is everything.

Leave a Reply