Cricket's Notebook by Larry Stark

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide



entire contents copyright 1997 by Larry Stark

Sunday, 7 September '97 --- Who The Hell Is Larry Stark? Part 1

Larry Stark is just a fat old man with a cane.

But you wouldn't even know that much --- in fact there would never have been a Theater Mirror to Tell you even that much --- if that fat old man with the cane didn't have a good, generous friend named Lee VanderLaan. So let's start there.

I met Lee around 1971, when he and an old friend paid a visit to Boston while trying to see the USA in their VW Bug. Some months later they called from somewhere in California where they had a blown engine and no money, asking the loan of $200 to get them back to his native Iowa. He repaid that loan, of course; but since then Lee has paid back that hard-time two hundred bucks a thousand times in money and ten thousand times in other ways.

He got involved with computers living for a while in Tennessee, first doing computer composing for a local newspaper, then putting parts together in a "clone-shop". When he came to Boston computering gradually replaced backbreaking construction-work as his means of livelihood and he got married, started a business, started a family, and moved to Essex. He does sales and support, which means putting in long hours fixing glitches and booting upgrades and a whole lot of other jargon I don't understand. The elder of his two daughters has been in regular attendance at every North Shore Music Theatre show this year, and she just graduated to kindergarten.

Lee loaned me an IBM-Compatible clone thinking we ought to learn how to put it to good use, and the uneasy amalgam of me and machine has made his life a living hell ever since. He's probably deaf in one ear from my screaming obscenities at him and his machinery every time the computer does Exactly What I Told It To Do instead of what I really wanted. He taught me DOS, he fought my resistance to WORD, he helped me wrestle with what I still call "HaTeMaiL-code" in grudging acceptance of the necessity for HTML, he has fixed every one of my screw-ups both eumongeous and trivial, he has paid for everything that makes The Theater Mirror possible, and he does it all in the time left over from being a busy businessman a husband and a father.

Lee's the one who created all that structure at the tops and bottoms of every Theater Mirror page that makes the whole thing work so easily and affortlessly. All I do is play in the space in between, filling his robust oreo-sandwich with my words, and yours. No one could read them without Lee.

He's not a raving theatrical monomaniac, as I am. He gave the Vietnam Veterans for Peace organization he's part of its website; and he has tried to negotiate the gift of computers and instruction they are still trying to make --- to teach Vitenamese kids how to use computers --- though the beaurocracies there and here have yet to get it together. He has spent the summer working on websites for theatres that didn't think they needed one, but it's more the fun of the fabrication he's most interested in.

So that's Lee. Lee VanderLaan buys the time that allows you to look into The Theater Mirror, and sees to it you see what's there no matter what new ways I invent to screw it up.

So before you ask who Larry Stark is, you ought to ask who's the guy who makes Larry Stark possible.

( a k a larry stark )

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide