Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bonds, Steroids & Race.

It's a stressful day for Major league baseball, as commissioner Bud Selig has launched a steroid investigation just three days before the start of the 2006 season. Emotions are running high. Everyone seems to have a different opinion about the issues at hand.

There's a great article in thursday's edition of USA Today about Barry Bonds and the complex question of race against the background of the growing steroid scandal swirling around the San Francisc Giants Slugger. Here's an excerpt:

"As opening day looms Monday, baseball prepares an investigation of steroid use in the major leagues and the letters keep arriving, a debate gathers momentum:

Is Bonds, seven home runs from surpassing Babe Ruth for second on baseball's all-time home runs list, the latest African-American athlete to suffer the effects of racism, similar to the experience of all-time leader Hank Aaron?

Or is the anger directed toward Bonds a product of mounting evidence he used performance-enhancing drugs to reach this point in history?

Or could he be paying the price for a career of surly behavior toward fans and the media?

Whatever side of the debate they take, the participants — Bonds, other major league players and observers of the game — fervently and heatedly argue they're right.

"White America doesn't want him to (pass) Babe Ruth and is doing everything they can to stop him," says Leonard Moore, director of African and African-American Studies at Louisiana State University. "America hasn't had a white hope since the retirement of (NBA star) Larry Bird, and once Bonds passes Ruth, there's nothing that will make (Ruth) unique, and they're scared. And I'm scared for Bonds."

(The rest of the article can be viewed at

....I take issue with the above statement from Mr. Moore, and I sent him an e-mail this afternoon to express my viewpoint about what he expressed. Here it is. If he responds, I'll post that here as well.

Subj: Barry Bonds & Steroids.
Date: 3/30/06 3:35:13 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: Scott Wichmann
CC: Scott Wichmann

Dear Mr. Moore,

I read your comments in thursday's USA TODAY feature story on Barry Bonds, and I have to respectfully disagree with you on a few points. You stated "White America doesn't want him to (pass) Babe Ruth and is doing everything they can to stop him,"....and "America hasn't had a white hope since the retirement of (NBA star) Larry Bird, and once Bonds passes Ruth, there's nothing that will make (Ruth) unique, and they're scared. And I'm scared for Bonds."

I am a white male, and rather than being offended by your comments, I simply choose think they are the comments of someone who has not considered all angles of the story. (And, frankly, someone who doesn't really follow the sports world that closely) There are some black americans that think, as you seem to, that MLB is going after Mr. Bonds "Simply because he is black," and choosing to ignore the overwhelming evidence that he used illegal perfomance-enhancing drugs. Conversely, there is a certain section of white America who hold onto racist attitudes for whom your assesment is correct. But they aren't the entire story.

The presumuption that ALL white people in America don't want to see Barry Bonds pass Babe Ruth is preposterous. I would be all in favor of his surpassing the Bambino's home run total had he gotten to where he is without the use of performance-enhancing drugs. It would be nothing but good for the game of baseball. Mr. Bonds would be a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer even if he had never gotten involved with Messrs Conte & Anderson at the BALCO Lab, and it pains me to see the overwhelming evidence of his 'juicing.'

To me, his accomplishments would be more impressive (from a historical perspective) had he NOT used perfomance-enhancers in an era where many others did. I have so much more respect for guys like Ken Griffey, Jr for playing the game the right way, even though his numbers don't have the eye-popping totals of Mr. Bonds. It has nothing to do with race, at least not for me. I wish that MLB would place an asterisk next to the MGwire single-season total of 70 homers and duly note the statistics of Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco. The stats of slugger sammy Sosa are suspect as well. The entire era in baseball is tainted, (Much like the segregated pre-1947 era) and unfortunately for Mr. Bonds, his monumental achievements make him the present poster-boy for the rampant corruption and borderline consumer fraud that Major League Baseball played a huge role in perpetuating.

As a diehard lifelong baseball fan, I am more concerned about the safety and sanctity of Hank Aaron's magic total of 755 career home runs. Mr Aaron's homerun total represents something: Personal Integrity. How can you play the race card as your entire hand without looking at the issue of Steroids? You say you fear for Bond's safety-- What about his health?? Can you defend the man simply because he is a successful black man, staying ignorant of the other issues surrounding him?? What about the many young black (and white) men who will follow Bonds' lead, risking their health for a huge MLB payday?? Do you not fear for their safety?? What would Jackie Robinson say?? Two-time MVP and current Nationals manager Frank Robinson has advocated purging the stats of anyone found guilty of using steroids. He happens to be a black man-- is he a traitor to his race??

To adress your childish point that white america is mostly upset because it hasn't had a 'White Hope' since Larry Bird-- Just what the heck is a 'White Hope' anyway?? Aren't there plenty of white athletes who excel year after year?? Ever hear of Tom Brady? Roger Clemens? Mario Lemieux? I hardly think that white America is primed to lash out at Barry Bonds because of the residual shockwave caused by the retirement of Larry Bird in 1993. Your statement oversimplifies the complexity of the issue.

I look at athletes like Ichiro Suzuki, Yao Ming, Mike Grier, and the Irish National Baseball team as examples of sports figures who have made a positive impact on the world by defying convention and showing us what is possible. I will always root for anyone to strive for their best on the field as long as they display integrity, honesty, and passion. I am even willing to forgive those who have allowed that passion to cloud their judgement, as long as they are willing to take personal responsibility for their actions. Unfortunately, it seems, Mr. Bonds is incapable of doing so, as is also the case with Mr. MGwire, Mr. Palmeiro, and the entire Major League Baseball hierarchy.

I look forward to your response, as it will probably contain points which I have heretofore failed to consider. Nevertheless, I wish you well.

Best Wishes,

Scott Wichmann

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

'L'Affair PAPELBON.'

Okay. So. I'm in Lexington, Kentucky, with a nasty case of insomnia at 2:09 am on a wednesday morning. I'm downstairs in the basement office room which also serves as my sleeping quarters at my buddy Rick St. Peter's house. Rick is directing me in 'Rounding Third' the two-man play about little league baseball here at Actor's Guild of Lexington.

Up until now I've had no internet access, save the offices of AGL, which I can't get to but once a day, usually at night... But today, while doing laundry at home, I noticed Rick & Laura's prehistoric eTower 466id home computer sitting unused in a corner. I took it to the old seer guy from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. He told me "THIS MEAN SIX KHADDAM HIGH!! AND-- TAKE BACK ONE KHADDAM-- TO HONOR THE HEBREW GOD WHOSE ARK THIS IS." I said "Okay."... and slowly backed out the door without making eye contact.

I brushed the cobwebs off of the 'Flinsonian' PC, ran SCANDISK, re-configured the modem, plugged it into the phone jack, hit the 'AOL' Icon and VOILA! Instant internet access. I am now typing this blog entry courtesy of the fine folks who designed AOL 4.0... That's what I said. FOUR-POINT-OH. It feels like 1995 all over again. That was the year I graduated from college. This old computer program is so far out-- I wonder if I can email people in the past??

"Dear Dad: Sorry, but you'll have to hold onto my comic books and Larry Bird Memorabilia for at least like twelve more years..."

"Dear Folks at SALLIE MAE: Don't hold your breath. Seriously."

"Dear Jennifer: You don't know me yet, but I'm the guy you'll end up marrying. I hope you have a good sense of humor... I'm totally & completely serious-- I'm a friggin' HOBBIT."

"Dear Vegas; I would like to place large wagers on the following teams in the following sports...."

"Dear Peter Jackson-- I would like to audition for the part of 'Gollum' in your movie version of LORD OF THE RINGS..."

"Dear Mr. Keaton: Please don't open the screenplay for JACK FROST. Put it down, and WALK AWAY."

Man, how stuff changes.

I remember back in 1998 I was using this very same AOL program to read my favorite writer-- Bill Simmons, the 'Boston Sports Guy'-- through the 'Digital City Boston' web portal on the AOL Red Sox page. Back then I was a struggling actor, and he was a part-time bartender and up-and coming sportswriter. Now he's a six-figure ESPN Columnist with a best-selling book on; He's hanging out with TV Stars, poppin' crystal and hanging at the Playboy Mansion... Meanwhile I'm a struggling actor who currently happens to be drinking ice-water out of a pink plastic BARBIE cup in the basement of my best friend's house....

Bhavatu, Sabbe, Mangalam. (May all beings be happy.)

I have been vey fortunate, though. My Co-star, Adam Luckey, had his apartment broken into last week and had every valuable thing he owned stolen right out from under him. So I guess I should consider myself... Luckey... I'm going straight to hell.


Sunday night was my first ever Fantasy baseball draft. I'm new to this whole 'Fantasy-Baseball' thing. I'm a lifelong, diehard baseball fan and avid Sox enthusiast; I like to think I have more than a passing knowledge of the game. During the summer, I generally eat, sleep and breathe baseball... Yet oddly enough, I have never participated in a Fantasy Season before, for several reasons.

Reason #1: I am a diehard Red Sox fan. I can't begin to imagine how it would feel to have a non-Sox player on my fantasy roster and rooting for that guy to do well when the Sox are in town-- It's a conflict of interest that makes me feel dirty and, frankly, creeps me out. If 'my' guy comes up against the Sox in a clutch situation and does well-- Well, hell-- I just can't imagine taking even a sliver of satisfaction from that... Just can't wrap my mind around it.

Reason #2: The thought of ending up with a Yankee on my team is enough to make me want to hurl. Stats be damned, no Posadas,Jeters, Matsuis, or Sheffields for me, thanks. That will never happen. As Larry Bird said in defiance of a prediction of victory by one of the Houston Rockets in the 1986 NBA Finals, "You'd have a better chance of seeing God."

Reason #3: I didn't want to be "the guy who mentions how he 'traded for', 'just acquired', or 'Just released' EVERY PLAYER ON SPORTSCENTER." It makes for a really annoying conversation when one of my friends won't shut up about his 'NL-Only 5x5 Keeper league' 24/7/365. Now I know how my wife feels listening to me talk about the sox day in & Day out....

And I don't want to be the guy making fantasy trades as they re-posess his entire house-- You know, the guy who's scouring for a decent lefty while smoking through a hole in his neck and roasting a cocktail wheenie on a pile of STREET & SMITH's magazines as he talks agitatedly on his GO PHONE, trying to swing a deal for Placido Polanco while his kids are being raised by wolves... That ain't me.

But after being invited by my buddies, Jack-- and and the aforementioned Rick-- and after having read Sam Walker's great new book FANTASYLAND cover-to-cover on an 18 HOUR BUS RIDE OUT HERE FROM RICHMOND, VIRGINIA (all to altruistically save Rick's Theatre Some $$$) I became really excited about the prospect of giving Fantasy baseball a try. the draft was set for sunday, March 26th. A Yahoo! Fantasy Sports League. Perfect.

So anyway, this past sunday... It's draft day, and I'm trying to fill my team out with a good group of players. For some reason I have put a hefty premium on pitching. I've devoured all the magazines, the online fantasy draft guides, the player prognostications, etc (yet like a dork, I've somehow missed the news coming out of Chicago). The team I am taking over has two big names coming back that I could claim or release back into the draft pool-- Minnesota Twins lefty Johan Santana, a nasty Cy Young award-winning pitcher; And Mark Prior, the oft-injured hard-luck righty from the Cubs whose best years may be behind him-- and he's only 25.

So I took them both, not knowing that Prior is in severely bad shape (Put on the 15-day DL just today-- GENIUS!!) and won't be on the opening-day roster. Apparently I have been in a cave or something since my 10-day Vipassanna Course ended. Couple that decision with my severe brain damage and jolly demeanor and I'm the next Lou Gorman. So the draft started in earnest. Names where being typed int Yahoo! Messenger fast & furiously. I had already claimed Santana as my first pick in round one... I would, one would think, naturally be picking again some eleven picks later. Right?? WRONG.

See, Unbeknownst to me, the draft was a 'serpentine' draft, meaning if you pick a player TWELFTH in round ONE, you THEN pick FIRST in round TWO. My team was set to pick at #11 in the first round, and I had already claimed Santana in that spot, so I was settling back to see what players fell where. I even contemplated running to Subway or something since I thought I had all day. My next two picks (In rounds three and Four) had been spoken for as well-- one was Prior, and the other one was traded by the previous owner of my team the year before, so I was under the impression that I had a lot of time before making my selection. Na-AAAANH!!

Before I knew it, Rick was hollering "You're Up, Dude!!" From his computer across the AGL office. I snapped to attention-- 'No way!!' I thought, "Already??" I said "Are you sure??" Rick shot back, "It's a serpentine draft, dude!!"

I hadn't really anticipated that. I looked at the computer screen. The cursor flashed below the chat text, obviously waiting for me to enter my team name and player selection. The other ten guys running teams in the league were waiting all over the country for their chance to pick. Rick was in the office with me. The guy who went before me (With the clever team name 'NoMo Yankee My Wanky') had snapped up my favorite fantasy player, Ichiro Suzuki, and my other coveted selection, Carl Crawford had flown off the board as the third pick overall.(Thanks, Matt.)

I looked over at my notes, where I had written "Go for Pitching" on a yellow-lined legal pad with a makeshift lineup card. I began to sweat as I glanced at the names I had written down, checking them against the ones crossed off of the draft board. My eyes floated across a name in the pitching column, and for the briefest of seconds, I thought "Cool-- No one has THIS guy yet..." I had the second pick in the second round of my very first Fantasy Baseball Draft; I couldn't screw this up. I had to get a good arm-- Somebody so good that no one would see it coming-- A diamond in the rough. Everything was crystal clear. I was nervous, because as a rookie I knew I would get godd-natured-ly 'slammed' for taking too long with my selection (Even though only like a few seconds had elapsed)so-- I took a deep breath, and with fumbling fingers I typed in these words:


I Hit 'Enter'.

There was a collective CACKLE heard throughout various parts of the country as the reality of the situation closed in on me like a demon predator in one of the EVIL DEAD films. What the hell did I just do??

My first pick-- in the second round, no less-- was JONATHIN FREAKING PAPELBON. A good player, to be sure, but a guy without a definite role as of yet, and at best a talented rookie with some serious UPPP Side, but NOT NEARLY a first-or-second-rounder. Needless to say, the tale of my rookie pick will probably live longer than me. Days later I am still getting HAMMERED on the message boards. No one will ever take me seriously EVER AGAIN. If I ever run for office, I will be 'Swift-Boated' with two words. JONATHAN PAPELBON.

To make things worse-- I still have Prior on my roster for some ungodly reason, his arm dangling by a thread and the season a week away. I COULD have had Pedro. I COULD have had Josh Beckett. I COULD have taken JAVY VASQUEZ and it wouldn't have been this much of a shock. I can't explain it. Unbelieveable. I'm the ANTI-THEO.

I think about Grady, Buckner, Torrez and Bill Lee, and the crap they had to put up with publicly for the decisions they made in clutch situations, and I can't fathom having to exist under that kind if scrutiny-- But I absolutely laughed my ass off when we got home from the draft; The kind of laughter where you can't breathe and your face hurts... Rick shouted things like "MAN!! Papelbon went nineteenth in the Papelbon FAMILY DRAFT!!... and "He's a second round pick!! In 2012!!" Dude was KILLING me. I just rolled with laughter. Good God, I'm a funny little guy. What the hell is wrong with me?? JOHNATHAN PAPELBON?? SECOND ROUND?? OKAY!! I'M ALL IN!!

Well, needless to say, I sure made some splash with my new Fantasy League. It's gonna be a great year. By the way, Look for Jonathan Papelbon to do great things... BWAAAAAHAHAHAHAH!!!

And the final funny thing is, there's one line in the show we're rehearsing that now-- I will never be able to say with a straight face ever again:

Don: "Mike, if there is a secret to my success, it would be this: I DRAFT WELL."

...That's why they call it 'Acting'!!

That's all for now....



Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Shape of Things to Come...

'Shades' Premieres Sunday at 10pm at Firehouse theatre as part of 'Project Resolution'
(I'm the bald-headed thug in the upper right corner)

Okay, so things have picked up steam in the last week or so. First, I am happy to report that Rounding Third is a Go. I travel to Lexington, Kentucky on Saturday night and I start rehearsals on monday for this heartwarming dramatic comedy about two mismatched little-league coaches trying to co-exist peacefully despite very different world views. Directed by Rick St. Peter, Rounding Third opens April 22nd and runs until May 14th. This production will be unique, as each evening the actors will switch roles, much like Phil Hoffman & John C. Reilly did in their LAByrinth Theatre poduction of True West a few years back. It is something I have never attempted before, and I'm excited about the prospect of seeing how the play takes on new life as we come at it from different perspectives every other evening...

On May 15th, I travel back to Richmond and start reheasals for The Taming of the Shrew at Richmond Shakespeare Festival. I'll be playing 'Grumio,' the plucky comic sidekick to Petruchio. The show is presented outdoors at historic Agecroft Hall, which is such a wonderful place to play. The lovely, charming & talented Susan Sanford stars as Kate, and it will be incredibly fun to work with her again. We were teamed for 2002's Barksdale Production of Olympus on my Mind with hilarious results. She is the consummate professional; A sassy stage prescence with heart & moxie. I can't wait. 'Shrew' opens June 15th.

I will also be teaching the 'young'uns' at SPARClers day camp as well this summer-- Jennie Brown and the School for the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community have graciously asked me to be a part of the three-to-six-week curriculum, and I have accepted...

You may remember a few weeks back that I took part in a reading of a great new play by Israel Horovitz called The Secret of Madame Bonnard's Bath. The reading at the Firehouse was vey well-attended, and the play, a three-actor examination of the life of artist Pierre Bonnard, was very well received. Well, Mr. Horovitz has asked me to be a part of the cast of 'Madame Bonnard' in his world-premiere prodction at the Gloucester Stage Company in Gloucester, Massachussetts. The show will run from August 10-27th.
I am so incredibly excited to be able to work with Mr. Horovitz on this play. He's a very down-to-earth and accessible man, a gracious and humble fellow who has been the Artstic Director at GSC for 27 years (Without pay, no less!!). My wife Jennifer is currently in the Firehouse production of his play Compromise which runs until March 25th. Please Ch-Ch-check it out...

In some film-related affairs, Keith Marcum's short film Shades of Grey (pictured above) will be premiering at Project Resolution on sunday evening at 10pm. 'Project Res' is an open forum for local local filmmakers to screen their work, receive feedback, and enjoy comradeship and free popcorn. Jennifer and I both have parts in this heart-wrenching film about the goodness which lies within all of us. I watched it last night and was really moved by it. the film stars Walter Schoen as a homeless man who gives back to the world even though he has nothing. 'Project Res' starts at 7pm on sunday at the Firehouse Theatre project.

Lastly, special congratulations this week go out to my friend and Where's Charley? partner-in-crime Clifton Duncan. Clifton was recently accepted to NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. A very talented and headstrong guy, I know he will do very well. HOLLA AT YA BOY!!

That's all for now!!

Peace & Justice,

Scott Wichmann

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


The debates between these two in '04 were classic.

Oh, man... what a great weekend Jennie & I had. First, Jennie opened Compromise at the Firehouse Theatre Project. Playwright Israel Horovitz was there & he seemed to really enjoy it. The cast is first-rate & the talk-backs were illuminating & fun. On sunday, I got to do a reading of Madame Bonnard's Bath, a new play by Mr. Horovitz, about the life and loves of artist Pierre Bonnard, who curiously once started 'fixing' a painting while it hung in a Paris museum, freaking out the security guard.

The play employs three actors; One to play Bonnard, one to play all the women in his life, and one to play the male figures in his life--Philanthropists, Fellow 'Artistes', a freaked-out security guard & many more. I got the plum role of the swing actor who plays all of Bonnard's male cohorts, and man, what a blast. The challenge is the for the actor to make all of the characters different and interesting, and the writing is so accessible & such fun to bring to life.

JackParrish directed myself & VCU student Megan Carboni, who filled in nicely for Jennie when she was hit with some mystery crud that seems to be circling the Capitol region, and the always interesting & quirky Justin Dray got to navigate Bonnard through all the phases of his life. It is a great play & Mr. Horovitz is looking to do it onstage at his theatre in Gloucester, Mass this summer.

I'm still waiting for confirmation of Rounding Third, and as a result I am kind of in a state of inertia; Unable to commit to any alternative course of action until I hear for sure... So I've been sitting around in my swaetpants, drinking coffee & trolling this crazy MYSPACE site --catching up with old cronies from back in the day & those who'm I've always wanted to meet in person. My favorite baseball player, Infielder Pokey Reese, has a page of his own & I stopped by to tell him good luck & thank him for being part of the Sox' run to greatness in '04. I'm such the dork. I have also sent salutations to figure-skater Tanith Belbin, Musical Duo ONE RING ZERO, Congressman Dennis Kucicnich, and fictional characters Dr. Buckaroo Banzai and GALACTUS-- devourer of worlds!! What stupid fun!!

I should probably sit down & do some Vipassanna while I have this time, but I keep watching stupid videos of people crashing into stuff on the MYSPACE video catalogue & laughing like an eight year-old kid. I do have the first full-team outdoor baseball workout on sunday for the VBC Cardinals, though, so that should be good. I'll post more about the coming months as soon as I know more!!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Month's Worth of Discovery... 'and all that Jazz.'

Basie as Brahmin: Jazz Guru Bob Hallahan

Jack-of-all-trades: Performer Scott Wichmann

It has been quite awhile since my last post... Sorry about that-- It has been quite an eventful month or so. Since the closing of 'Scapino' on January 22nd, I have taken on many fun & challenging projects, and I will fill you in on each one until your eyes glaze over and you begin to drool all over yourself. So get a bib.

'I Have a Dream':
In January, Theatre IV gave me the job of directing I Have a Dream for it's Theatre IV America touring program. For two and a half weeks, I had the pleasure of working with perhaps the most committed and talented cast of actors I have ever directed. On the first day of rehearsals, I was given their contact information-- The contact sheet had the words 'Dream Cast' at the top... It couldn't have been more aptly put.
Keydron Dunn, Brad Fairbanks, Sadrina Johnson, Christopher Schoen and Jason Weaver (a brilliant & powerful MLK) put their heart & soul into telling the moving and inspiring story of Martin Luther King through the medium of theatre. This production was truly touched by divine forces, as we rehearsed daily for two weeks at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church. At the Invitational Dress Rehearsal, People got goosebumps as Jason pumped new life into the famous 'I Have a Dream' speech at the end-- It was alive, fresh, new, Immediate; And, more importantly-- Possible.
I advised the cast (as they took to the road to perform the show for children all over the country) to remember -- no matter what is happening around the world-- That they are doing the work of peace in real time. Educating children with the knowledge that there is dignity and purpose in the way of non-violence. Talk about right livelihood-- Dr. King's message was never needed more than it is today, and the cast of I Have a Dream has re-energized and re-invigorated my faith in the communicative & healing power of theatre. I will never, ever forget the experience of working, discovering, and creating such a powerfully hopeful story with them.

'The Bachelor':
In late January, I took part in the final staged reading offered by David Sennett's Richmond Ensemble Theatre. The play, a new translation of George Sands' The Bachelor, was very well received by the audience, and hopefully it will have a life beyond it's initial reading. Special thanks should go to Mr. Sennett for his service to the artists in the Richmond Community. His tireless efforts to bring actors more employment opportunites should not go unrecognized.

'An Evening With Ol' Blue Eyes':
On saturday, february 4th, I got to work again with my good friend (and jazz pianist extraordinaire) Bob Hallahan. Mr Hallahan served as arranger/musical director for Barksdale theatre's world Premiere Musical revue Ella & Her Fella, Frank-- Starring myself and Maxjazz recording artist Renee Marie-- back in 1999. This time, we performed on a bill titled 'An Evening With Ol' Blue Eyes' for the Performing Arts Foundation of Luray, Virginia, at the invitation of Chairman John LaCava. Bob & I were backed up by Bass virtuoso Randall Pharr, and 'slick-as-soap-rat-a-tat-daddy' Aaron Binder played drums. These guys are wicked good.
We swung the you-know-what out of 18 Sinatra tunes. Here is the set-list from that night:
I've Got the World on a String
It's All Right With Me
I Get a Kick Out of You
Old Devil Moon
Someone to Watch Over Me
That's Life
Fly Me to the Moon
Angel Eyes
Come Fly with Me
It Was a Very Good Year
The Lady is a Tramp
The Way You Look Tonight
One For My Baby
I've Got You Under My Skin
My Way
Theme From 'New York, New York'
Day In, Day Out (encore)
It was a pleasure to perform for such a great crowd. they braved some treacherous weather to spend the evening with us. The best part for me was seeing the smiles of recognition on the faces of some of the older patrons as they recognized a tune or two they hadn't heard in years.
At the end of the evening, several audience members came up and asked me "Do you have a CD I can buy? I would buy one if you had one!!" Other people were like "Me too!!" Someone even suggested I go on American Idol. (Thanks but no thanks) I realized that they really enjoyed it and that there was a genuine connection there. This got me thinking about doing these gigs more regularly in an effort to learn and grow more as a vocalist. I really love the music of Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Bobby Darin, Mel Torme, Nat 'King' Cole, Oscar Brown, Jr, and so many others from the heyday of the American Songbook.
I'm looking forward to finding my own voice and finding more songs to sing-- I'm being pulled in that direction and I think I'll follow its' call. Richmond is a great place for learning the craft of Music, and it is home (or has been home) to some really talented and committed professionals. Some of these include the above mentioned messrs. Hallahan, Pharr & Binder (sounds like a swingin' law firm) and the world-reknowed talents of vocalist Renee Marie, drummer Howard Curtis, bassist Elias Bailey, and pianist Daniel Clarke, to name just a few.
If anyone is planning an event which requires live music, email me at

Now--I just have to find out if Garanimals makes a tuxedo...

Vipassanna Meditation Course:
After the Luray performance, I spent ten days taking part in a Vipassanna Meditation Course in Shelburne Falls, Massachussetts. The course was taught by SN Goenka, and quite frankly I would recommend it to anyone. The practice of Vipassanna is a form of insight meditation which deepens the mind/body connection through observation of the breath--and the physical sensations which the body produces.
Sounds simple, but putting it into practice can be maddening, boring, frustrating and downright painful. Ultimately the practice teaches two things: Awareness and Equanimity-- Two traits which I have not always skilfully cultivated in my life. (The understatement of the millenium) Vipassanna teaches one to take the steps necessary to live a harmonious, balanced life; neither reacting aversely to unpleasant sensations ("Damn!! this cold weather is driving me insane!!") nor grasping and clinging to pleasurable ones ("Gee, I want summer to last forever!!").
Through this practice, one becomes aware of the changing nature of all phenomena (doo-DOO-dee-doo-doo!), both inner and outer... and, with continued practice, deep observation, and diligence... someday, something like true wisdom might dawn!! Holy Crap!!

As 'Caddyshack's' groundskeeper Carl Spackler said "So... I got that goin' for me..."

The retreat itself was difficult-- but well worth it. For ten days, I took a vow of noble silence--(I know, I can hear all of my friends say 'Dude, YOU shut up for ten whole days??'-- No way!!) Yes, friends, I undertook a vow of Noble silence (Silence of body, speech and mind, in an effort to eliminate all distractions) We awoke at 4am every morning, meditated according to the technique for a cumulative ten or twelve hours a day (not consecutive) ate simple vegetarian meals, listened to Dharma talks by SN Goenka, and tried to be mindful of every movement, thought, and breath throughout the day. You know... Little stuff. Wicked easy.
The first three days were focused on Anapana Meditation, or simple observation of the breath, as it flows in and out of the nose. This technique sharpens the awareness capabilty of the mind, and attunes it to pick up the physical sensations from the body. We soon learned the Vipassanna technique, expanding that awareness-- We focused on every part of the body, from head to foot, foot to head, simply observing the sensations, as they arose and passed away. We did this continuously.
By day six, some serious emotions were bubbling to the surface along with the sensations, and I began to feel very sad and isolated. I wept openly & cathartically... But meditation isn't about cryin'. With the help of my teacher, I did the best I could to simply observe this emotional storm, and not let myself get caught up in it. I began to see the transient nature of these wacky physical, mental and emotional phenomena.

Dear reader-- You're drooling. Far Out.

Sounds very involved, but it was really cool-- I started observing the fleeting nature of the world around me every morning. It was easily reflected by the weather. All I had to do was look out my dorm window. There was this large pine tree outside, matted proudly against the sky. Some days, the blue sky expanded majestically behind the tree with the sun beating down; Other days, the rain & hail pelted the tree mercilessly. One day it snowed. Another day, the wind battered the tree back and forth; Yet this tree stood it's ground, deeply rooted, and allowed the world to turn without attaching to the sun's warmth or displaying aversion to the rain, hail, or wind. No matter what, the tree stood proudly. Just a tree, not trying to be anything else. I found myself attributing to this tree a profound sense of humble dignity. I thought, as I watched silently from my window "I want to be a wise person someday; Wise... like this tree is wise."

How do you like that? The freakin' tree taught me how to meditate. Sweet!!

(I hope to cultivate the diligence necessary to keep on practicing this technique-- heaven knows that Awareness and Equanimity are paramount to an artist... Especially one who's between gigs.)

Home, Sweet Home:
After the retreat was over, I travelled to my hometown of Pittsfield, Mass and spend a week with my Uncle Bob and my Aunt Sandy. They are tremendously giving and loving folks, and I have been blessed to have them in my life. It was great catching up with them. Then-- Jackpot!! My Mom came up on the third day (she is moving back to Mass from North Carolina) and I was the luckiest guy in the world for a week. I was able to spend some much needed time with my Mother, the sweetest woman I have ever known. A five-minute drive, and BAM! I got to pop in and visit with my Father, who is "Wise like this tree is wise," without having to meditate. Dad showed me his model train setup-- It goes all around his downstairs living room, workshop & storage shed-- It is awesome. (I love my Dad, because as hard a worker as he is, when he gets down in his workshop & starts tinkering with his model railroad, he's really just a big kid)
I saw all of my little cousins; All of them are growing and talking-- and throwing up-- and radiating the unique joy of childhood. It was a really great visit. I re-connected with my family, went to Friendly's with my cousins Carrie & Tammie (they shook their heads as I ordered a Garden-Burger) I watched some Celtics games, got my tail kicked in 'ESPN NFL 2K' by my 14-year old cousin Bradley; I reminisced, explored and observed just how much my hometown has changed over the years... Yet I can't wait to visit again-- and bring my wife Jennifer with me next time.

Thomas Wolfe was full of shit-- You can go home again.

Today, Tomorrow & Beyond:

After such an introspective month or so, filled with music, inspiration, meditation, and family, I am even more aware of the many blessings in my life. My family is #1 on the list. I wouldn't be the person I am without them, and I feel incredibly lucky to have their continued support and encouragement... Even if some of them are still scratching their heads wondering "Now-- What the hell was he doing for ten days exactly??"
As things stand right now-- tomorrow, Sunday, March 5th, at 1pm, I will be doing a staged reading of a new play at the Firehouse Theatre. The play is entitled The Secret of Madame Bonnard's Bath, written by world-reknowned playwright Israel Horovitz. Mr Horovitz will be in attendance, and there will be a short Q & A afterwards. It's cool enough that I'm helping to evolve the work of such a distinguished american playwright-- but a really swell perk is that Mr. Horovitz is father of Adam Horovitz, AKA the 'King Adrock' from my favorite musical trio,
The Beastie Boys.

(...I guess-- wait-- doesn't that make Israel 'Dad-Rock'??....)

After the reading, I will be waiting by the phone to find out if my next gig is a go or not-- My participation in the Actor's Guild of Lexington (KY) production of Richard Dresser's Rounding Third is still up in the air-- Some last-minute concerns have to be ironed out before I can start rehearsals (talk about a leap of faith!!)... I am also up for a few roles in various shows about town, but for the time being, I must be comfortable with uncertainty... No matter what happens, I will try to practice awareness and equanimity, (meaning I will try not to freak the hell out) and try to always be conscious of the opportunities for personal peace which are present in every moment. easier said than done.

So, umm...well-- That's all for now.... The Virginia Baseball Congress Schedule comes out soon & the VBC Cardinals are looking good this year; We're working out and staying healthy in an attempt to win lots of games. I'd love to hit .300 and steal 25 bases-- that would rock.

Oh-- I am now caught up in the highly-addictive MYSPACE Phenomena-- I recently created a page for myself there. There are some cool pictures, sweet tunes, and links to people way more interesting than me. You can visit it at:

May All Beings Be Happy,

Scott Wichmann