Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Homeless Man

The young woman offered him a sandwich while he was resting out in the cold. She thought he was a homeless man.

He can't afford a haircut. He looks like a homeless man.

He putters around his apartment but it is not his home. He feels like a homeless man.

His porch light is always on but no neighbors come to call. He is a solitary man.

No one in the town knows him well. He is a friendless man.

They canceled his lecture to the group. He is a speechless man.

He loves to paint but can't afford new paints or frames. He is an artless man.

He loves to make music but has no musical instrument. He is a soundless man.

He loves adventure but has no means of travel. He is an immobile man.

He loves to make love but has no partner. He is a loveless man.

He loves life but doesn't know where he lives. He is a homeless man.


Vagabond Journeys

Dana Bate

Never Give Up


Friday, February 15, 2013

A Strange Language

Laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can.

(Elsa Maxwell)


Hello Lily


You will need the enclosed glossary to understand the following conversation The language is spoken by a peculiar group of Americans who live in a small area.



derz - there's

da - to

duh - the

dis - this is

euh - ear

fou - four

he - here

i - it

noo - new

nah - no

o - of

terd - third

tru - through

tanks - thanks

wes - west

whaz - what does

windas - winters

yuh - you, or your

yawk - york

yeah - year


I enter the dry cleaners in a small town in northern New Hampshire to get my suit. The man takes my slip, goes into the back and comes out with my suit, hangs it up, puts a piece of paper on the counter and speaks.

He: Deres yuh receit, i comes to foh fifty.

I: (I pay him) Yuh from noo yawk, aren't yuh?

He looks at me with a bit of suspicion. I point to myself.

I: Upper wes side.

He: (pointing at himself Duh Bronx. Whaz i show?

I: Hah, It's in duh euh, man. Duh sounds o home. How long yuh bin he?

He: Dis is my terd yeah.

I" So yuh bin tru a few windas an know duh story.

He: Yup.

I: Well, good luck.

He: Tanks.


Vagabond Journeys

Dana Bate

Never Give Up


Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Discarded Lecture

I do not let myself get carried away by my ideas. I discard 19 out of 20 of them every day.

(Gustav Mahler)


Hello Jen


I am a member of the Artists of Bristol on the Delaware, in Bristol, Pennsylvania. It's a group of mainly painters who are very supportive of each other, if they like you. Some of them don't like me.

Being a group of painters their arms are not open wide to any other form of artist, no matter what they claim, Musicians, writers or any type of performing artist are not recognized with the same sense of validity. Being a retired actor I do not qualify as being a true artist in the minds and looks of many of the members.

As you well know from the magazines and the TV gossip news, we actors are not artists. We are just artificial, self-indulgent, posers who just go around emoting all the time. We are promiscuous, insulting to each other in public and we live in mansions. You may go to see an actor in a play or a film and enjoy it very much, but you would never take an actor to lunch or let your daughter marry one.

It doesn't' matter that being a retired actor I now paint pictures and write stories. I'm still not accepted, I still carry the dreaded devil's cloak of show business around my shoulders.

We meet together once a month to talk about present and future art exhibits. The discussion never veers into any other topic. But also every month someone gives a presentation about some form of artistic expression in which they are involved Many of them are very interesting and informative. I have such a presentation to give to the group. I've been trying to get a night to give it for about 9 months, but I always get elbowed out for one reason or another. Finally, last November, I got a commitment to give it in the March meeting. I've worked hard on getting it ready. Today I found out that, over my head and behind my back, someone else has been moved into that slot. Since the next few moths are scheduled I'm out in the cold again.

My presentation is about drawing and its relationship to painting, music, theatre, writing and poetry, with a bit of history about New York City, The Art Students League and the Bristol Riverside Theatre. I have references from Henri Matisse, Marcel Marceau, Etienne DeCroux, Arnold Schoonberg, Shakespeare and ancient cave paintings.

I guess that wouldn't be of much interest to artists after all, would it? Maybe I'll discard it. Or maybe I'll wait until I'm out of debt, rent a hall, hire a musician and give the lecture someplace else.

Should I also discard the Artists of Bristol on the Delaware and perhaps find a writers group, or form one?


Dana Bate

Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up


Wednesday, February 13, 2013


In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.

(Abraham Lincoln)


Hello Marty


Even behind the masks of the slow, lazy and ignorant, the human being is a miracle of creation. Look behind the masks and start appreciating and loving yourself, and don't quit.

There are as many reasons to give up on life as there are people who do it. But there is one overriding reason to fill out your time with living, and that is because life is God. Giving up is an enemy to life.

The answer to my prayers, no matter what it concerns, is always the same, the one word "relinquish." I am led by life to relinquish, to give up on the bad,,harmful, evil and ugly things, to not cherish them nor let them occupy any part of my life. Everything that needs to be relinquished is thought. It is, after all, ideas that create, shape and run our lives.

We may hope to see our happiness and salvation come from the spin of a wheel, a lottery ticket, a government program or the right person to live with. But in the clear cold day of a winter sunshine we will face the fact that it is our own thinking that will bring any palpable result into being, good or bad.

So, what to do, what to do? First you have to clean out the mess. That means you have to learn to tell the difference between the truth and the trash. Some of those ideas you've been holding on to may be worthless, or even worse, harmful to you. Examine them and see what's worth saving. The rest? Introduce it to a big mental garbage bag.

Once the place is clean you have to begin to judge the visitors. Should they be admired and accepted or should they be shown the door? The thoughts from the past and the present may be negative ones. They will pop up looking for space in your head. And when you identify a guest you don't want to entertain give it the finger, or the fist, or just simply say "scram." The negatives are not yours, they're anti-you.

What needs to be relinquished? Everything that suggests you are not the best, most beautiful, smartest and most lovable creature that you are. Never give up on your special self.


Dana Bate

Vagabond Journeys

Never Give up


Friday, February 8, 2013


To my New York friends and my New England friends: May the big bad blizzard huff and puff and blow itself out to sea.


DB - Vagabond Journeys

Never give up.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Midwinter Revelry

'Tis the season to be chilly.

Fah la la la la.


Hello Arlene


Today marks the beginning of the last half of Winter. According to the Farmer's Almanac you should have half your wood left and half your hay According to my almanac you should have your hat, scarf, overcoat, gloves and boots in good repair, because "It ain't over till it's over" (thank you Yogi Berra).

Winter begins with a lot of joy and celebration. There's Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Years Eve. Then comes a long Siberian stretch until the warm weather with it's tasty breeze blowing in from some magical place. There isn't much to break up the waiting period, to keep one from getting depressed, to cure the frustration of shoveling mounds of snow that's only going to melt away to mud one day, to calm the rage on the rare morning that for no reason the car won't start.

What we get is MLK Day, Groundhog's Day, Valentine's Day, Presidents' Day, St. Patrick's Day and a bouquet of birthdays, including my own. Otherwise it's Lent (yippee).

I like to celebrate, or at least make note of, birthdays. But not ages. "How old are you now?" "None of your business." Don't count the candles on the cake. Only children concern themselves with how old they are. She's not 14, she's 14 and a half. "Don't grow up too fast" I say. She doesn't want to hear that. She wants to be an adult as fast as possible so she can be free, she thinks. Give her a few decades and she'll wish she hadn't grown up so fast. Ah well.

But birthdays are good. Your birthday is a celebration of the fact that you are part of life, you claim, express, reflect and represent life. Your being, your existence contributes to life that is. It's your day to proclaim life to the universe.

Growing up is not amassing years, accumulating memories and moving toward oblivion. Growing up is growing out, growing out of age, growing up to discoveries. It is the expansion of life.

I think people who were born during the Winter have a certain destiny. Perhaps we are more serious about things, however I note that I and my near neighbors on the calendar have a good sense of humor. We can laugh in the darkness. Perhaps when we were babies and we looked out the window to see dark skies and falling snow we instinctively knew something that others had to learn.

Every birthday is a moment of reaffirmation. Growing up and out is an act of renewal. One doesn't have to wait for the Spring, or even a birthday to light another candle on the cake and celebrate the fact that life lives.


Dana Bate

Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up


Friday, February 1, 2013

Limber Up

Jack be nimble,

Jack be quick,

Jack jump over

the candlestick.



Hello Ken


An actor I know told me abut a year he spent in London. He went there to take a particular course in movement for actors. While there he occasionally went to the theatre and did a few other things, but almost his entire focus was on that rigorous movement training. He did no acting at all. At the end of the year he returned to New York and said he never was so limber in his life. It's an excellent and necessary thing for any actor to be nimble. Those who aren't are deficient.

After my actor friend returned he went out on auditions and started working again. But he complained that one year away from doing any acting work had taken its toll on him. He said he had lost his edge on some of the other aspects of the actor's craft and felt he had to catch up. He said the other actors around him were quicker at learning their lines, finding their characters and processing the director's needs. He may have been nimble of body but was no longer so nimble of mind.

Every play worth doing (and I admit some of them are not), from the silliest superficial farce to the most powerful thunder drama, has a lesson to teach. And that lesson reaches out across all time and humanity. As with any art, theatre has a right to affect and change people's lives. But it can only do that when the theatre artists are aware of what the lesson is and how to teach it. A play can be like a grand sunrise, a beautiful picture that exists in both time and space. It is the responsibility of the actors, and especially the director, to know what the play says, not just a chain of events but an unfoldment of discoveries about those events and the people they affect. They reach the other side with the author's flame still burning brightly. Those in the play who aren't alert to those things (I admit I've had the misfortune to work with some of those, sometimes) never get there. They kick the candlestick over and put out the flame.

Theatre is a metaphor of life. In every important activity of life one must remain alert, nimble, quick and limber in every way.


Dana Bate

Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up