Saturday, June 03, 2006

Third Inaugural

Thank you for your kind attention.

Mr. F.W. Thomas is hosting one more thrilling evening of readings, artistic display and song before he leaves for his summer vacations in parts unknown. The pleasure of your company is kindly requested. This is the last edition of the F.W. Thomas Performances until Sept. 18, so please come and soak in elevating proceedings as if it were your last night on earth, because in many ways, it will be.

This event will again occur at the Warehouse Theater on Monday June 12 at 7:30PM. Admission is $3. The Warehouse Theater is located at 1017-1021 7th Street NW. It is a short and not altogether unpleasant walk from the Chinatown/Gallery Place Metro. Phone is 202 783 3933.

The June 12 event will feature:

  • Andrew Beaujon, managing editor of the Washington City Paper and a former senior contributing writer for Spin will read from his new book, "Body Piercing Saved My Life."

  • Josh McIlvain, a singer, author and songwriter living in New York City, where he performs his own compositions under the mysterious and alluring name of Sex Cop, will be singing songs. He maintains a MySpace presence here.

  • T.M. Lowery, cartoonist, artist and creator of the Skeleton Kids will present more hilarious items from his illustrated personal journal and offer advice to the lost and lovelorn. See his work here.

  • Matthew Summers-Sparks, humorist and short story writer whose work has been published in The New York Times, Mississippi Review, McSweeney’s, reading stories.

The F.W. Thomas Performances will be hosted and introduced by yours truly, Adam Mazmanian, a writer living in D.C., a contributor to the Washington City Paper, and who was voted by his high-school graduating class as "Most Likely To Serve As Spectral Conduit for the Ghost of a Minor Nineteenth-Century Writer."

The series is named for F.W. Thomas (1811-1866), the attorney, novelist, satirist, polemicist, poet, journalist, government employee and a dear personal friend of Edgar Allan Poe.

Thanks as always to Miss Katie Lederer, official acting amanuensis and subaltern to the estate of F.W. Thomas. And thanks also to Olsson's Books & Records, who will be acting as our Bookseller of Record in our never-ending quest to move units.


moemurph said...


I am utterly devastated that I missed the show.

I am writing to you from the deepest bowels of a D.C. law firm. One of the many desperately indexing, collating and filing. I have sent out word of you to others of my kind. We are gathering to join you at the next show on September 18th.

P.S. The Rachel Beckman Wash Post description of the 21 year old literary hipster at your show ("I didn't get that at all... I was like, "Who is this guy? [F.W. Thomas] I figured he was the headliner." almost made me wet my pants, I laughed so hard.

Here is something of my own, from the upcoming blog THE TUMBLWEED MANIFESTO, this is the first of what I hope are many entries, I am being shameless, but I don't care. Best regards to you and Mr. Thomas. "MOE MURPH"

Here is draft Entry One of a "Live Journal" My journal is an experiment in learning, growing as a creative artist, and collaborating with others who are trying to grow). If you'd like to follow, I can give you the MySpace URL address when I launch. '


Maureen Murphy is beginning a year as a "mid-life independent scholar," with studies culled from The Great Books Series , The New Lifetime Reading Plan by Clifton Fadiman and John S. Major, and various other sources as they crop up.

"My soul is calling upon me to wander, first, into the internal landscape of the mind, second, through several of the greatest cities of the 21st century, the cities where I sense the post-American era will unfold. Dublin. Berlin. Shanghai. My cover: teacher of Business and Legal English. My true assignment: vagabond, tumbleweed, collector of experience and point of view.
I would like to share my findings with you in this Journal.

On the surface, my life is very quiet. I sit and perform various administrative tasks at a small Washington DC law firm. I particularly like to order the books and update the small law library that is my own little kingdom and bailiwick.

Some attorneys are friendly, some ignore me. Those who walk by as if I am invisible perceive a shape, a "secretary" one of many that come and go over the years, fungible. Dismissed from the realm of issues they will deal with in an attentive way. I like being invisible. I like the quiet. I can think.

After several years of shock, the previous seven years of stress, my mind finally feels rested. The mechanism is oiled. Safe in a warm clean garage, covered by a thick quilted canvas. The engine coils in readiness, ready to take to the highway and roar. It is time to feed.

I remember, but can't feel anymore, the raggedness, exposure, as if each cell of my brain was lying raw, as if the hair, scalp, skull had been peeled away.

Certain moments stand out, a cold December morning, a solitary rush to an office in Friendship Heights, Maryland with a sweated-out registered check, the threat of foreclosure hanging in the air. Another morning, the advent of the unthinkable possibility that I didn't have to stay married forever, that life could start all over again, alone. Other moments following, the unthinkable becoming possible, the possible inevitable.

Seven years of peeling away the layers of what I thought was my life. Was reality. They are all gone now. I am a 47 year old adolescent. I am inventing myself.
At 17, I received a call from Bryn Mawr College. The possibility of a scholarship, the opportunity to spend four years immersed in knowledge, sucking it up. But for what purpose? A liberal arts degree? Pish Tosh!

There was already a voice, deep inside, that whispered to me that in some universe such a thing, knowledge for knowledge's sake, was possible. But the voice was so soft, so dim, so timid at that age. To Simmons, a nursing degree, "something you can do part-time when you get married - you can always go to medical school later if you want, but you'll have a way to pay the bills in four years." A soothing bromide.

I don't remember if anyone told me this, or it was something out of my own mind, but it seemed acceptable, practical, eminently doable. It also beat back the black beast, the creeping creature that threatened to tear down the universe.

Vague memories of wheeling groceries home in a little red cart. I am five, holding my sister's tissue paper soft pink hand. My brother threatens to dart out in the street at any second. My mother laughing, grabs the three of us and sings "I Want To Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles.
She has just finished counting out 27 pennies, all the money we have left after buying our groceries for the week. I see the copper glinting in her hand as she counts. She turns to me.

"Maureen, don't ever let this happen to you."


The chaos of manic depression and alcoholism. Driving into town for a Clancy Brother's concert, only to turn around and go back home because "Daddy is in a bad mood." You know something is wrong, and catch occasional glimpses of another world, but this is your world. You develop your mechanisms and strategies.

I begin to worship at the shrine of "What Is Practical." I begin to baby-sit, chambermaid, take pride in buying my own clothes. After sophomore year, I observe a privileged summer boy, his parents probably renting one of the huge beach houses, being tutored for the SAT exam. I feel a rage, an envy, and a desire to take him on at his own game. I buy my own prep book, study it all summer, and become a National Merit Finalist. My guidance counselor sniffs that I studied for the test. "It's supposed to be an aptitude test." I look up at her bookshelves, say nothing, but privately inform her to go fuck herself. Of course, I don't say it out loud. I am a good girl.

To Simmons. The nursing degree, doctor dream go by the board the day I slaughter an annelid worm I am dissecting. I am physically clumsy, bad with my hands, a dreamer, a "space cadet." Not wanting to kill any future patients, I look for the next impressive sounding idea. Economics. Brisk, cool, formulas, equations, business! Then on to law school.

Years go by. Government law practice, marriage to a gifted magician and artist. One day, I walk by a poetry slam, feel a pull, go in. I start writing, inventing characters. One is called Psycho Bride, a 140 pound bundle of id, who hacks her fiancé of 11 1/2 years to bits after he breaks their engagement because he "needs his personal space." She loses it when he tells her "I hope we can still be friends." My husband finds the character "repulsive." A friend says "You sound very angry." A lot of young guys really like her, older guys mostly find her scary. I keep her on the back burner and wonder where she came from.

Other characters, vague and unformed, sitting at various spots on a dimly lit stage in my mind. A mystery-solving law librarian, a mummy, a half-man/half dog truffle hunter from 75 years in the future.

Something else is stirring. Music. The post divorce torpor begins to lift at bluegrass nights in Adams Morgan, Celtic fiddle at Fado's. I am waking up. I hear a young man play and sing bluegrass and feel an indescribable longing. I begin to study guitar with him, and write five songs. My own songs! I follow the websites of bands on the road, touring, creating music together, creating little musical families, babies. Wow!

An idea takes root. The impulse, the urge to learn, to create, is valuable. It is not to be squelched, it is to be listened to. You pay the bills, true, but you do not live to pay the bills.

I am receiving hints and portents for building a life. On a trip to Japan, jet-lagged and sleepless at 4 a.m., I watch a show on Business English. Topic: "Revealing Delays In Product Distribution."
Apparently, this is done in very different ways in Japan and the U.S., resulting in a lot of frustration and bumped heads.
Talks with a Belfast computer engineer working in Sapporo. Sitting cross-legged on the gray carpet at Narita airport on my way home, teaching Spanish phrases, in Japanese, to a group of girls heading to Mexico for vacation (Buenos Noches! Kon Ben Wa!) I see needs, markets out there to be filled. I also see a world to explore while you teach and earn.

Meanwhile, I give myself permission. Permission to study knowledge for its own sake, to dive in and wallow in 3000 years of ideas. What do they mean for us now? I give myself permission to make it up as I go along. To not know what is happening next. Permission to feed.

I've realized that my creations, my music, my characters will wait for me. There is no schedule, no timetable, I carry them inside me, and what nourishes me will nourish them as well.

The study begins now. Would you like to join me?

Note: I welcome feedback. Next installment, I will be getting into more detail about my studies, and would love to chat with anyone as time arises. Also, will give information on where you can find these materials to begin a course of study of your own.


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