Say You Want a Revolution?

Visiting revolving restaurants is playwright's hobby

He also has a Martha Stewart-ish notion for a wedding reception in a revolving restaurant "with the top table on the inner bit that doesn't revolve, so the whole rest of the party goes 'round, and the top table gets to converse with every single person at the party, instead of that whole thing with the bride and groom at the head table, and if you're at the back, you just wave at them."

We're looking south now -- at BOB and America West Arena and at the little patch of days-are-numbered slummy buildings at the western end of the Purple Palace. Our lunches arrive, a peppery ahi tuna sandwich for me and grilled chicken for Greenhorn. As we dig in, our talk turns to more general subjects. He is, indeed, a news junkie, and very up on American politics, particularly on the presidential debacle in Florida. He startles me by wondering aloud whether perhaps it would be better if Europeans could vote in American elections. I wonder how this idea would go over on either side of the Atlantic.

He also tells me how he happened to end up studying drama. "I was at university, the first time, to be an astronaut. Took physics, left by mutual consent. Went back to another university to get an honors degree in English, but the first year realized that I didn't want to spend all my career reading Jane Austen; life's too short. But I realized you could read Arthur Miller in an afternoon."

By his third year, he wrote a student play that won an award, and by the time he was out of school, he says, "I was too old to train. I applied for a job as a petrol pump attendant and they wouldn't employ me 'cause I was 'too literate.'" He decided he had no alternative but to pursue his writing seriously. Since then, he's gained notice for The Salt Wind, which he describes as "a tragedy set in a fishing village, very Greek, lots of inevitability, so I got that out of my system," and for his road comedy Passing Places. He's also written for both the radio and TV sides of the BBC.

We've been at the Compass more than an hour -- one revolution takes 55 minutes, and we're past where we started. It's time for me to leave, but Greenhorn says he's going to stay awhile, and orders another glass of wine. I leave him there, staring out at the Valley, sipping contentedly.

Ah, research.

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