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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Shakespeare & I

 "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."

"Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none."

~ William Shakespeare

Happy belated 450th birthday, Billy Shakespeare, on whom I've had kind of a crush since the 1960s. Romeo & Juliet was required reading in junior year in high school. So refreshing and not at all like that boring and illogical Silas Marner (really? he confused a kid's hair with a pile of gold coins by his fireplace?), R&J romanticized my teenaged mind.

In 1968, Franco Zeffirelli's movie version was released and I was enamored. It was like West Side Story all over again (cinematically)! So beautiful, so tragic, so divinely romantic, just as the Bard had  intended.

At that time, I was a student at Paterson, NJ's East Side High School. In my senior year, I fell in love with Shakespeare all over again, as well as with my English teacher, Mr Weiss. Al Weiss, at that time, had salt and pepper hair with bangs, enthralled us with his stories about the Broadway (and off-Broadway) shows he attended in NYC, made us answer his tests on the back of twofers (as an ecological/recycling whim of his) and admitted to me personally that he believed smoking pot can lead to greater thought. (He was right!) I was secretly Shakespeare-in-love with this man who led us through MacBeth. Mr Weiss was a great influence on me, a gentleman and the person who made me realize there was a more sophisticated life in store for me beyond my blue-collar environment.
My Mr Weiss w/ previous student in 2012

But, even in my upbringing, I heard Shakespeare quoted: "All the world's a stage," "Hell is empty and all the devils are here." Stuff like that there.

In college at University of Colorado, I had a terrific professor, Mary Smith, who took me under her wing during Shakespeare 101 and 102. Consequently, I bought (and still have till this day), the voluminous Complete Works of Shakespeare. Poems and plays.

In 1972, I was enthralled by the Roman Polankski film version of MacBeth, even though I still don't know why Lady M did her big moment naked. Nice tits, but in a cold, drafty castle? Well, hey, she was crazy!

I love Lady MacBeth. One of the greatest drama queens ever! And I love William Shakespeare and wish him a Happy 450th. Your legacy lives on, Billy. In the world and within my heart in so many ways.

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