“We did not believe in God,” Lawrence Howard recollects. “We believed in chicken soup and matzoh balls.”
As Mrs. Scatter has recently intimated, Mr. Scatter has embarked on a quest deep into the wilds of the exotic North American continent, hunting the elusive Snark. Today the Snark sleeps, and it is only sporting for Mr. Scatter to pause, too. Fortunately he’s discovered a forgotten hilltop with remarkably modern reception, so he’s decided to recount his recent adventure back in civilization, last Friday night at Hipbone Studio, at the opening of Portland Story Theater‘s Singlehandedly festival of solo shows.
Howard is one of the founders of the story theater, and so it was fitting that his hour-long piece, The Adventures of Huckleberry Horowitz, kicked the festival off. Most everyone knows the mystical power of chicken soup, and most understand the pull of ritual and tradition in that thing we loosely call religion, so Howard’s audience, maybe 65 or 70 strong, rippled into laughter: the easy, familiar kind, the kind that says, “Yeah, we know what you mean.”
What transpired was a memory-tale, a tale of growing up Jewish, sort of, but not in a particularly devoted sense. His father changed the family name from Horowitz to Howard because in the 1940s and 50s he couldn’t even get a job interview with a Jewish name, and the family celebrated the holidays with a Christmas tree, although not in a window where it could be seen. Still, being Jewish was somehow important, not only in the way Howard viewed the world, but also in the way the world viewed him. Which was not always in the kindest or most pleasant way.
This bothered him: “I wanted people to hate me for myself, not just for my name.”