SO I CHRONICLESnAnna’s description of the Pennsylvanianattic-room she spent the night of Robbie’snfuneral in is not only poetic, it isnalso an organic metaphor. She describesna mass of butterflies, capturednand pinned on the walls by Robbie’sncousin: “They were pinned, eachnwing, around the walls.” As she wasntrying to fall asleep, she’d heard “thisnintermittent soft flutter sound” andnrealized they were all still alive. Asnstriking and natural as the anecdote is,nit assumes relevance later when Annanexclaims in Act II, “I almost feel like Inhave burst my chrysalis after thirtynyears of incubation.” Though she’snspeaking to Burton at the time, it’snobvious that she’s referring to hernpassion for Pale.nAs exquisite as Joan Allen’s performancenas Anna is, John Malkovich isnoverwrought as Pale. The difEcultynmay be in striking the balance Wilsonnintended between Marlon Brando andnJack Nicholson. When Pale says, “Inlike those gigantic city-wide fires. … Inlike avalanches . . . you know, any shitnthat can still amaze you,” he has beennreduced to self-conscious characternanalysis, in keeping with the culturenthat has become overly self-aware. Momentsnlater. Pale says, “My normalntemperature is like one-hundred andnten” and “My . . . heart is killing me”nbecause Stanley would, without thenself-awareness that diminishes thenstate-of-being. In the midst of thesenlines, Wilson (or perhaps director MarshallnMason) has Pale beat his chestnTarzan-like; but even this is a responsento heart palpitations from being cokednup and high on booze. Pale exists as ansymbol or embodiment of the mindbodynconflict that has only increasednsince Williams’ day.nSublimated into the more incidentalncharacters of Larry and Burton, Wilsonnis shrewdly on the sidelines observingnthe precious fire that Anna isnfinally subjected to, despite her instinctsnfor self-preservation (her lastnline, delivered in Pale’s embrace: “Indidn’t want this — Oh Lord, I didn’tnwant this”). If the terms for Anna arendifferent than they were for Blanche,nAnna, who has more ahead of her, isnpaying a higher price.nAfter Anna has resolved to leavenPale (who urges her to stay: “No, I amnnot dangerous. What you think is thatnyou’re afraid of me . . . becausenyou’re afraid you might feel something”)nand to work on a new dance, itnis Larry, Wilson’s spokesman, whonultimately brings the couple back together.nLarry gives Pale the keys to thenloft and a note which reads: “I don’tnknow how you’re doing, but Anna is innpretty bad shape. This isn’t opera, thisnis life. Why should love always bentragic? Burn This!” With Burn This,nWilson is fanning the fires of contemporarynpassion with all of the skill, andnthe passion, that his creative imaginationnhas engendered over the years.nWith a certain timidity, if not outrightnequivocation, Lanford Wilson isnviewed as a contemporary link in thenchain of great American dramatists.nWith his work as evidence, many havenseen him as capable to ameliorate thenplight of our failed drama. But inngiving Wilson the benefit of the doubt,nhis critics are quick to introduce anseries of other doubts and further questions.nBy respecting his masters, Wilsonndares to be traditional and in thatnsense anachronistic. Alone amongncontemporary playwrights, he maintainsna respect for the past even as henattempts to uncover new terrain and tonstretch the boundaries of dramaturgy.nBut “attempts” is used here advisedly,nfor Wilson’s downfall is precisely this:ndespite his evident efforts, he finallynfails to break any new ground or tonbecome a harbinger of how the dramanmay be evolving.nDavid Kaufman writes from NewnYork.nPOP CULTUREnRock and RollnHootchie Koonby Gary S. VasilashnYou don’t hear much about groupiesnanymore. This is strange, since thendemographics of the rock audience —nranging from about 40 to 10 —nsuggests there ought to be morengroupies than ever slithering aroundnout there.nIf Pamela Des Barres {I’m With thenBand: Confessions of a Groupie, NewnYork: Beech Tree Books) is a typicalngroupie, then it’s easy to understandnnnthe lack of publicity: many of themnmust die off before they can even givenan interview. Des Barres recounts hernexperience with a drug called Trimar, anliquid that is normally measured by thencc but which she handled by the quart:n”Even when I found out that it wasnused in zoos to knock out gorillas andnelephants, I refused to believe it couldnalso knock out my brain cells.” Hernreaders will be less skeptical.nThe best way to get a grip on DesnBarres — to use a metaphor that seemsnappropriate — is by considering her descriptionsnof the man who changed hernmaiden name from Miller. MichaelnDes Barres, an insignificant glitterpunknperformer, was “a degeneratendrug-taking sex-dog” who “didn’t takenmany showers” and whose “teeth werenall chipped from banging them withnthe microphone.” Of their courtshipnshe writes, “He gave me scabies and Indidn’t care.” Love means never havingnto say you’re sanitary.nWhy was this book published? Whoncould possibly be interested in thentrajectory from a schoolgirl infatuationnv/ith Paul McCartney to grabbing atnthe privates of the lead singer of thenIron Butterfly, from a craving fornJimmy Page to secret rendezvous withnMick Jagger to family life with then2’appas to scabies? To be sure, thennames are there, but they are connectednwith only one part of the anatomy.nIn a “kiss and tell” Hollywood autobiography,nthe victims are supposed tonbe chagrined by the revelations. Butnwill Mick Jagger really care?nThe only person who would bendrawn to the sticky pages of this “confession”nis someone who alternatelynreads Spin and the Star. But even theynwill be disappointed because: (a)nthere’s no really good rock trivia in thenbook — people like madcap KeithnMoon come off looking more boorishnthan maniacal; and (b) she never meetsnElvis (though she nearly dated thenKing once).nThe book may be of historical interest,nhowever. Several hundred yearsnfrom now, someone researching thenpop culture of the late 20th centurynmay regard I’m With the Band as thenkey to a culture that can be reduced tonone big hormonal throb.nGary Vasilash washed his hands afternfinishing this book.n