vic fortezza
3 min readMay 24

Is this cool or what? Scene from immersive street theater in Toulouse, France. Photo from Google Images:

The work of poet/playwright John Gay, 1685–1732, is still relevant today, particularly The Beggar’s Opera, written in 1727, the most performed work of that century. It spawned many imitations and the classic The Threepenny Opera by Bertholt Brecht. I wouldn’t be surprised if it inspired Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Folks of a certain age would recognize several of its characters, Macheath, Jenny Diver, Suky Tawdry, mentioned in the pop smash hit Mack the Knife (Brecht/Kurt Weill), popularized by Bobby Darin, covered by so many others. A copy of the play came my way courtesy of a donation to the floating book shop. Set in London, it is a satire as cynical as the work of Martin Scorsese but with the humor of fellow cynic Woody Allen. In fact, I think an adaptation, language modernized, would be a perfect cap to the latter’s career. The story is a snapshot of the times, when the division between rich and poor was acute. The former buy their way out of criminal charges, the latter live in abject conditions and are executed in droves even for petty larceny. Fidelity is not expected, either. The piece is also a sendup of early Italian opera, which was outrageous but wildly popular, to the consternation of critics. That aspect would be of interest only to historians these days, ditto the allusions to the era’s notables. The rest would interest readers willing to plow through the language of the era, not quite as difficult as Shakespeare but not easy, although the large Penguin paperback runs only 82 pages. It is padded by an informative intro by Bryan Loughrey and T.O. Treadwell. I didn’t understand all of the play, but still enjoyed it. Here are excerpts: “Why are the laws levelled at us? Are we more dishonest than the rest of mankind?” “We are for a just partition of life, for every man hath a right to enjoy life.” The line most pertinent to my life, not confined in my case to a single instance but many: “A moment of time may make us unhappy forever.” “… you should never do anything but upon the foot of interest…” “They bite their companions, and prey on their friends.” The Beggar’s Opera has stood the test of time. The title character introduces the action. Gay used UK folk songs and they are done by various characters. His Wiki page lists 16 other works. His family was not poor, but he struggled financially. His epitaph reads:
“Life is a jest, and all things show it,
I thought so once, but now I know it.” To my chagrin, a DVD is not available at Netflix. I spotted one starring Laurence Olivier and another starring The Who’s Roger Daltrey. Here’s a portrait of Gay, photo from GI:

Wrap your head around this headline: “Gwyneth Paltrow peddles Goop anal sex toy — as a Father’s Day gift.” Well, tools are the most popular gift on that blessed day.

Excerpt from an NYP editorial: “Why do Dems oppose a ban after 12 weeks, a restriction that leaves 99% of abortions untouched?”

My thanks to the kind folks who bought, donated and swapped wares on this beautiful day. Here’s what sold: a hardcover and kids’ CD in Russian; Don’t Worry, Make Money: Spiritual & Practical Ways to Create Abundance and More Fun in Your Life by Richard Carlson; Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; five music CDs; and DVDs of The Bourne Identity (2002) and The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey (2012).

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vic fortezza

I was born in Brooklyn in 1950 to Sicilian immigrants. I’ve had more than 50 short stories published world wide. I have 13 books in print.