Tavern Club Newsletter for July 2020

A Note from the President:

What a troubled and disturbing time! The events of the past month have roused many of us from our obligation-light cocoons where we were sheltering from the virus and forced us to consider horrible examples of police misconduct and confront uncomfortable issues of institutional racism. All of this without the solace of companionship at the Tavern. The good news is that Tony and the staff are well, and I am unaware of additional cases of the virus among members or their spouses. The building was not affected by the demonstrations on the Common. Emerson suffered some broken windows along Boylston Street, but the Emerson Police blocked the entrance to Boylston Place on one end and the Boston Police blocked the other end at the Transportation Building. Plans for the fall at the Tavern are still unsettled. We hope to have the Fête, in some form, on a Thursday before Labor Day. The re-opening of society is an ongoing experiment, the results of which need to be known before an organization such as ours with demographics like ours can safely resume operations. As a start, the theater is available for rehearsals by small groups who can maintain appropriate social distancing. No food or beverage service will be available. Call Tony if you have any questions. Courage, mes amis!   Bob

Tavern in the Sky 

Thursday, July 2 at 5:30 p.m.

Tom Kelly on Beethoven 9

Tom will talk about the first performance of Beethoven’s last symphony.  What could be better than an Ode to Joy in a dark season?  Consider the inimitable Harvard Gazette headline:

“Professor Delights in Details of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.”

Or watch this to remind yourself of ongoing delight.

Sign up now with Mr. Fay  manager@tavernclub.org, to get the link for Thursday, July 2.

Online Bridge

Online bridge continues this summer, please contact Deb Bornheimer, duxdeb@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 22 at noon

Midsummer Book Club on Zoom, Abdi Nor Iftin will lead a discussion of his book Call Me American. Alice Cornwell will introduce him.

In this exquisitely written memoir, Abdi Iftin describes what it was like growing up in war-torn Mogadishu and brings a personal context to events most of us have only read about in headlines or in the movie Black Hawk Down. As a boy, Abdi survived a civil war, the arrival of U.S. Marines, and the Battle of Mogadishu when to his surprise “skinny rebels” pushed out “the movie-star Marines.”

He writes of learning English from Arnold Schwarzenegger movies played in a small shack while selling popcorn and peanuts to make money to help feed his family. Becoming known as “Abdi American,” he performed the latest hip-hop moves at local weddings. During the rise of the Islamist group al-Shabaab, Abdi hid out in Mogadishu sending reports that were written up in The Atlantic and recording radio reports for the NPR program The Story.

Please join Abdi to discuss Somalia and his journey here to life in Maine and Boston. Sign up for the Zoom link with Ed Tarlov, edward.tarlov.md@gmail.com.

In case you missed it:

On June 4. Andy Calkins, Anson Wright, and Bobo Devens invited us into three movies all about food and love: Big Night, The Hundred-Foot Journey, and Chef.  Participants recalled meals eaten and other food movies watched.  Longing for real meals, in person, was expressed.

The Poetry Slam on June 11 brought out the Club poets who had been musing over the state of the world while sheltering. Contributions ranged from a series of limericks combining boat names from transoms in Gloucester Harbor by John Paul Britton to a cry for a better world from Carol Burnes. Maisie Houghton read her touching poem in which she used fashion and memories of fashion to elicit a memory from her husband. Anne Carter linked together her son’s COVID 19 symptoms into a chilling poem. Andy Calkins and Watson Reid tied for the “Bob Dylan Poetry set to Music Prize.” Other contributors included Sandy Righter, Ed Tarlov, Hilary Bracken, Elaine Woo, Anson Wright, George Heaton, and Warren Ross. Nancy Maull summed up the spirit of the evening by quoting Seamus Heaney, So walk on air against your better judgment.

On June 19 Tom Kelly led us through the famous first night, in 1913, of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.  It was riveting.  The intensity of the music and dancing, coupled with the staging and costumes combined to make the audience’s riot perfectly reasonable. How can performance and audience both be so right?

From the Plays Committee chair, John Tittmann:

A Call for Halloween Plays

Taverners:  lurking inside each one of us is a playwright.  Take up the challenge and write your script this summer, and submit it to the Halloween One-Act Plays Competition by Labor Day.  This year, imagine that we’ll be presenting the Halloween Plays virtually.  Think of the creative possibilities!  Instead of staging the plays in our theater, we might ‘stage’ the plays on Zoom.  Any play we’ve performed in the past on the stage would work in this new format. 

  1. Exactly Four actors. Clever writers might introduce more roles, but there are only four actors in each play.
  2. The length of total document, including stage directions, etc, should no more than 1250 words long.  (There’s a 10% overage wiggle room
  3. Only one pseudonym per author. By all means, write more than one play, but use the same name on each submission.  The idea of the competition is not just to have three plays, but to also have three different authors.

How to submit your play:

  1. Create a Word or PDF file named by the play name plus your Nom de Plume.
  2. Using your own email, send the file of your play to tchalloweenplays@gmail.com This email is managed by a discreet plenipotentiary who will forward your file only to the Plays Committee, keeping the email source anonymous.
  3. Submit the file no later than Labor Day.
  4. Watch for confirmation from the TCHalloweenPlays email to confirm that you have successfully submitted the file.

Summer Project suggested by Alice Cornwell:


Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.  (Henry James)

Do what we can, summer will have its flies. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Whatever you think of summer, it’s here and will be different to summers past. A call goes out to all Taverners interested in keeping (or already keeping) a journal of this historic summer. It might be interesting to record our thoughts and activities for Tavern posterity. How do we adjust, what changes are made and what do we manage to hold onto? Does the urgency of our current political situation make its mark on the season that we often hope will exist “outside of time?” Is it actually nice to stay near home?  If we venture out to a restaurant or go for a haircut, or even take a plane to a foreign country, what does it feel like? Or is your grandson still cutting your hair?  Just generally, where do our thoughts run during these times?

Email submissions – up to three pages – by August 31 to be read and shared at a fall Zoom cocktail – when the world might have all changed again. Writing of all types, drawing, sketches, paintings, pressed milkweed – all welcome. Whatever you would consider including in a journal.

To be hosted by Peter Rand, Warren Ross, and Alice Cornwell.

Submissions to alicelcornwell@gmail.com.

— Nancy Maull, Secretary

Social Distancing in Paris – sent by Katharine Boden
Social Distancing in Paris – sent by Katharine Boden

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