Tuesday, December 1, 2009

TRASH INTO GOLD


Do you remember life before recycling?

Gee, it was nice -- just to throw stuff out, not have to separate, not have two bins in your house, or outside.

Recycling is a chore -- a bore.

Ron Gonen, a 32-year-old guy, is firing up the issue of garbage disposal.

He's made a business out of recycling -- a profit-making venture that encourages you, rewards you with cash, for what you've bothered to separate from your garbage. Enroll, and you get a container with a computer chip that weighs the amount you've recycled, rewards you with points that you can redeem at 1,500 retailers (like Bed & Bath, Target -- a lot of stores are jumping on the bandwagon).

I remember how stunned I was when JC and I were writing a musical about garbage, and we learned that each person in the US produces about four-and-a-half pounds of garbage every day.

We'd set up a temporary office on our roof during a heatwave. Worked nonstop on the plot -- before, during, and after a July 4th weekend -- while our son played in his playpen, Teechi, our Lhasa Apso snoozed, and remnants of lunch and dinner were on the grill above coals that were whitening with ash.

"Rosanne" -- that was the title. Rosanne was the name of a garbage disposal machine, that a baritone singer, "Bill." the inventor, and his dancer fianceƩ, "Betty" were promoting -- selling to the city --harmonizing about the junk they'd found in the sand, in a song we titled -- "Me & the Beach & Betty."

This marvelous idea (a sure-fire hit on Broadway, we thought), was inspired by JC's cousin Bill, a brilliant inventor, who'd created a garbage disposal machine -- gotten a $300,000 grant from a think tank group in California, to develop the idea of converting waste into atomic power that could run a city.

Collaborating in that heat wave -- phew -- JC was like a commander of a ship, terse, overly precise -- you do it HIS way, and HIS way is generally "according to Hoyle."

I was frustrated. Every idea I got -- all my wild, theatrical ideas were deflated by JC's approach. And his ideas, in my opinion, were stodgy, square.

Too bad the idea (what a brilliant idea it was), never got off the ground! A month later we auditioned it for Phil Burton (Richard Burton's stepfather), who headed the American Musical Theater Academy, and Phil, in his scholarly, knowledgeable, English-accented way, thoroughly deflated our script. So, we immediately did it for Alan J. Lerner's number-one assistant, who was JC's pal, and drinking buddy, who said, "Nobody wants to see a musical about Garbage."

They were wrong, but that's show biz. What I loved, still love about cousin Bill's concept -- I can't explain it scientifically, but it was based on using the Air Force's discarded jet engines to power a garbage machine that could "eat"everything (except bottles and glass).

Bill was working on that problem, when he got side-tracked into another government project, but that problem (separating out bottles and glass), is being solved right this very minute, today!

By Ron Gonen – he's got people separating stuff --bottles, glass, paper, metal and other valuable recyclables -- teaching his enrollees about trash. inspiring them, motivating them -- not just because it's the law, but because it benefits them, financially, and economically.

The government booklet says four-and-a=half pounds of garbage is 29 pounds per week and 1,600 pound a year. According to Wise.com, with the the garbage alone, you could form a line of filled-up garbage trucks and reach the moon. Or cover the state of Texas two-and-a-half times. Or bury more than 990,000 football fields under six-foot high piles of waste. According to WM Recycle America, LLC, we throw away enough aluminum to duplicate the full commercial air fleet of the U.S.

Golly -- if went back and recycled that play -- ho ho -- I'd make the baritone a 32 year old singer dancer like Ron ...

I'm picturing us up on the roof, Jc commanding the ship ... me ... a peppy, zesty, indefatigable first mate . We'd create an opening song about weighing your junk, using the rhyme scheme from the song we wrote .....that wonderful old script ...

Well, maybe it's good that I don't know where the old script is.

Here's a truism about old projects (like my unpublished novels, and plays, off the shelf -- out there on my Website, The Readery).

Projects that almost happen, but don't happen ... they're a part of you. Like an amputated limb, you keep thinking you can still use it -- reach, walk, touch, stride. Whatever that part of you did, it lives on somehow -- in reflexes, in a feeling that you can grab on, stride from here to there.

There is where?

I mentioned just the other day in a post ... JC and I, the two of are us tip-toeing toward a way to get Em's Talkery to a larger, broader audience ... maybe audio, or the two of us reading posts, audio and video podcasting.

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