The Ragtime Palomino


In the summer of 2004 I had just graduated from college as a theatre major. I had no job prospects on the horizon, so in an effort to assuage my anxiety about What To Do Next With My Life I elected to get a job for a summer stock theatre in Virginia.

If you’re not familiar with summer stock theatre all that you need to know is that the shows are chosen because they are crowd pleasers, the production schedule is compressed into a few intensive weeks during which time the crew is flogged like a redheaded stepchild to get the show on stage by opening night, lubricating the production process with their tears and lamentations.

Theatre folk take this as a point of pride.

During that fateful summer, my last summer working in theatre before I switched to film, the keystone production for the Heritage Repertory Theatre was the musical “Ragtime”, an elaborate, ensemble based musical based on the novel of the same name by E.L. Doctorow. Through the lenses of nostalgia it was one of the best productions I ever worked on. I genuinely can’t believe that it happened nearly ten years ago.

Recently I picked up the book “Ragtime” at the library and read it over Memorial day weekend. Lines from the musical were lifted word for word from the text sending me hurtling headlong down memory lane, so in the spirit of nostalgia I had to include it in the Beer, Book and Blog.

The Beer: Bootlegger’s Palomino Pale Ale

The Book: “Ragtime” by E.L. Doctorow

The Blog:

Ahh, what a summer it was! Each morning the Wife opened the blinds and slid back the glass door in the kitchen and stood looking at the tree that grew in the courtyard. She wished she could see the sea, but the apartment was well inland in an un-noteworthy suburb. Birds chattered in the tree. The rising sun was not yet visible through the hazy grey morning marine layer. By the time she had seen her Husband off to work and conducted her morning routine of calisthenics and ablutions would dissipate and the sky would be beneficently blue and the sun would shine in the window across her desk as she went to work. 

She thought about her work a good deal. Her acceptance into a graduate program at a prominent university had shaken her faith in it. Yet at moments, for whole days at a time, she soldiered on as  before- with a sense of the appropriateness of her projects, their fixed and unalterable style, as something meant to be. Always she had intuited a different future for herself and her team, as if the work they had done before was a kind of preparation, when the production of short films and microbudget features would lift themselves from their respectable existence and discover a life of genius. She didn’t know of what it would consist, she never had. But now she no longer waited for it.

Husband and Wife enjoyed the company of a fellow who was also in the moving-picture business and carried around a rectangle framing glass with him even when he joined them for drinks. Life excited him. He dwelled on his own sensations and liked to talk about them. He looked at his beer and then tasted it. You have of course tried this Palomino Pale Ale. No? By Bootlegger brewery? No? He laughed. Don’t be embarrassed! It is a microbrewery. Right here in Southern California. They make small batches but many varieties. He passed around the glass. Everyone tasted it. Yes, he said laughing, it is delicious!  American Pale Ale made of American barley and hops. It is refreshing and has no bite. In the movies, he said, we only look at what is there already. People want to know what is happening to them. For a few dollars they sit and see their selves in action, struggling, growing and learning to get along with one another but there is no bite like in real life. This is most important today, in this country, where everybody is moving so fast. There is such a need to understand. 

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on June 1, 2013.

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