I'm posting this from the Newark airport, as I get ready for the next leg of the book tour--Seattle tomorrow, then Portland on Tuesday. I'm really looking forward to this--it's kind of like a homecoming , and though many literary types have warned us all that you can't go home again, I'm resolved to give it a good college try.
Today was outstanding--I had a matinee, which is already a problem in and of itself, as 21 DOG YEARS is not much of a matinee show--it's really more ofa bluesy, late-night kind of a thing. At any rate, it was a matinee, and it was Gay Pride Day--and the Cherry Lane Theatre is actually at the epicenter of gay culture in NYC. The streets were aswarm, and luckily we got started before the massive parade, which apparently starts at 60th Street made its way down to our neck of the woods. Nevertheless, during my performance we had a lot of old people and a few nappers, so when you could hear Cher's anthem "I Believe" playing through the walls of the theatre, it added a certain precious surreality to the proceedings. Matinees attract slow-moving older folks, so I hope they all didn't get nipple-pierced and booty-grabbed on their way back to New Jersey.
This pales in comparison to what happened earlier in the week, when 21 DOG YEARS was host to a marriage proposal. Greg Wong, an old friend of Jean-Michele's from high school moved to the city last year, and when he decided it was time to pop the question, he wanted to do it at our show. It worked splendidly--right after the show, I calmed the crowd down, then read from a piece of paper to find out if "Greg" was in the house. I then asked him a number of pointed questions about his prospects (dim) and his employment (nil), which caused quite a stir--the show being so up front and in your face, everyone assumed this was some kind of bizarre "after dinner treat" where an audience member was humiliated for the pleasure of all. I think everyone was just happy they weren't Greg Wong.
That reversed after I revealed that, knowing what I now knew about Mr. Wong, he'd be a fool not to marry the woman he had with him right now. He said, "That's a good idea," pulled out a ring, dropped to his knee and the audience was both dumbstruck and delighted. So did she--she couldn't stop laughing as she said yes, which I have always taken as a good sign in wedding engagements.
I couldn't top that, so we said goodnight--and long after the rest of the audience had filtered away, the two of them sat in the seats, the post-show music playing, the stage lights still shining, stretching that one moment out and holding it. None of us went inside...we didn't need to. Like mice we cleaned up all around the rest of the theater until we heard from them, and wished them well, and they walked off into a warm summer night like every betrothed couple on this fine planet.
I have performed a lot of shows, and been around the block, but that was some of the finest theater I've had a hand in yet. Thanks to both of you for letting us have a small role in your night.
A lot has been happening over the last few days, even beyond Xerox joining WorldCom, Enron and the rest of the sorry bastards in revealing that they couldn't keep themselves from inventing their own prosperity in the 90's.
I'm between shows right now, and it is a day of surprises: Drew of FARK fame was at the 5pm show, along with Ken of Corporate Motherfucker. We chatted a bit after the show--Drew is in town to pick up Fark's award ta PCExpo, and Ken lives in NYC, so he was serving as escort and bodyguard. Really nice fellows, especially for internet rock stars--they're reviewing the book and show, and so after I had bribed them they went their merry way.
SAN FRANCISCO: What a great experience! After the mediocre reception in LA, I was a little fearful of what the next leg of the book tour was going to bring, but I needn't have worried--it turned out fabulously. Highlights include getting a commentator job on NPR's Tech Nation, where the host Moira Gunn is not just cool, foxy and intelligent, she's used to work on rockets at NASA. We had a great interview, and then she offered me a gig doing tech and science commentary for the show...and so my steady descent from comedy and into the dark realms of punditry and talking-headedness takes another step. Bwaahhahahahha!
I did a nice spot with the kids at TechTV, and it was neat to actually meet them and hang in the studio--before now I'd always done things by remote from here in New York. Good people. I did a segment fueled by sleep deprivation and Skittles that emphasized the homoerotic elements of 21 DOG YEARS, which probably isn't ideally suited to TechTV's audience profile, but damn, it was pretty funny.
The less-that-one-day visit wrapped up with a drive down the coast to Capitola, where I visited Capitola Books, a fabulous bookstore there. Lovely staff, and great turnout--we had over sixty people, which is more than Rick Russo had the last time he was there...of course, Rick now has a Pulitzer, and he's on book number six, so we're really not in the same league, but he was my teacher in college and the desire to compete is strong...even if the man can clean my clock without taking a deep breath. It's good to have role models who can kick your ass--it keeps you honest.
Well, I need to get back to the theater, where tonight's show features a visit from Harvard Business School alumni. We have a talk-back afterward, and I'm just hoping they aren't quite as straight-laced and literally business-minded as some of the folks who review my book online and are pissed that it doesn't contain Business Secrets of the Universe. Also, tonight is Jean-Michele's birthday, so I'm hoping we can clear out quickly and actually get some celebrating in. So here's hoping everyone else's weekend isn't involving alumni BizSchool types, and that your weather is as nice as it is here in the city.
Just when you think that there couldn't be another sign that corporate America is out of control: WorldCom discovers massive apparent fraud. All those profits, the last year? The ones that made front pages of financial papers? Pffffft. Smoke, mirrors and paper shuffling.
Just got in to my hotel room, dead of night--and guess who was on my flight, and then just ahead of me checking in? My opposite number, Jim Cramer, who is also on a breakneck book tour. It was a funny meeting--kind of like two dogs sniffing each other--we'd each heard of the other. he has a higher profile than I do, but he's all business--check out the Amazon book summary to get an idea of his schtick. I kept thinking, "aha...this would be where my business audience went in LA..." and had the sudden uncharitable thought that if I could take him in a fight, I could yardarm him and in a Dungeons and Dragons universe I would then get all his media for the next day. Bwahahahahah.
Luckily that feeling passed and we made conversation--it's nice talking to another author on a similar tour and there are similarities--he's on his first book, he takes shots at himself in a book that is about his reactions to the Net craze and he has his picture on the cover of his book as well, though his visage is a tad more stark than my own smiling dog bone look.
Anyway, we were both bushed, so we made a date to talk later--but it was a neat camraderie, to see someone else who has to go to bed at 2am and get up for a 5:30am interview. And at the end of the day I don't know if those business-types would have been all that happy had they been herded over to my reading--they'd hear about aesthetics, onanism and how to make a blowgun from a Sharpie rather than tax advice.
I'm writing this from LAX, where I am awaiting a delayed flight to San Francisco--the blessings of wireless internet rain down on my poor undeserving head. Let me catch everyone up to speed on this schizophrenic book tour.
The Austin reading: we're at Book People, a charming Austin institution. They ensconce me on the second floor, where a healthy-sized posse of people show up...and they are my kind of people. Sharp, friendly and affable, they ask great questions and put my mind at ease. Although I have done a lot of performing, book readings are a different animal completely--too casual for theater, too mannered for loose talk--it straddles a difficult line. Still, with the help of the good people of Austin I acquit myself honorably--there is a lot of smiling and laughing, and after the low-key (but suitably energized) reading concludes, I feel a sense of fulfillment, plain and vanilla and decent. It wasn't Carnegie Hall, but I did my job: not strictly as a performer, but as an author. That is the difficult part, at least for me...I am a fledgling author, and this world is still very strange to me.
After the reading I went back to my palatial hotel and walked down by the bridge, to watch swarms of bats fly out into the darkening sky. They fly with determination, in a loose, roiling mass that pulses and darts in a way disturbingly unlike flocks of birds in motion. You can tell they aren't avians--they are mammals, like us, and they obey a different imperative. If you should ever drop by Austin, I encourage you to go down to the bridge (everyone will tell you where it is) and see it happen. It is not just beautiful--it's a little haunting.
The L.A. reading: we're at Borders in Westwood, and the situation couldn't be more changed. The room is a lot sparser than Austin, and there's a funny energy in the air--a kind of slackness. I am on a small stage, after a very professional and heartfelt introduction from the organizer, who is very excited about 21 DOG YEARS. I begin speaking, and after a few moments realize that no one is looking at me. No one. Not even my friends. I look over to where they are all staring and see that a homeless man is listening to Enya very loudly. I'm loosing to Enya--that Celtic bitch is killing my chances at getting through this in one piece.
A store worker goes over and brings the Enya volume down to a low roar of harps and power chords. I keep trudging ahead, talking about how I develop my shows orally, when suddenly I hear a shout. The homeless man is scratching his head and yelping. Arhythmically yelping--he makes a sudden noise, gets quiet, yelps again. I am reminded of Motherless Brooklyn, the book i am reading at nights on this tour, Jonathan Lethem's sharp and skewed novel about a small-time thug living in my neighborhood with Tourette's. I simultaneously wish I had Tourette's, or that I could suddenly yelp myself and get away with it, pull everyone back and not get tagged as a freaky insensitive. I also wish I was Jonathan Lethem, and in a wave of nausea I am professionally acquainted with I am suddenly sickened from speaking of my own life. I want fiction, anything else to speak about that isn't me, standing here, outgunned by the Enya-loving superfreak on Aisle Four.
I do none of these things--instead I weave this into the story I'm telling. I talk about how drama in life always trumps drama in art, and how when a moth flies into the Cherry Lane while I perform that scads of rational adults who spent nearly 50 bucks apiece stare at that moth, lost to words, proving in their simple staring that childlike wonder is not nearly as dead as some skeptics would like us all to believe. I talked about the nature of stage performance, and retold the gruesome and horrific story of my performance in Jean Genet's THE BALCONY, this time in technicolor detail and attention that isn't found in the book's form. I worked it as best I could, and despite myself I started to feel good. Not very good, not the fulfillment of last night but maybe her kid sister, brattier and less willing to put out. The people were gracious, and we talked less like performers and more like people running into each other in a book store, except that I said too much about myself--a professional hazard.
Now I am at LAX, after the reading, flight delayed, waiting in airport limbo. I do want to say that this isn't a rant or a whine--I'm lucky to be on this tour, lucky to have a book, lucky to be alive. If you are reading this, odds are you are lucky too. I just feel sometimes that this site can get a hip tone, where I censor myself to keep only politic and positive sentiments flowing forth so that to the world my success looks bulletproof: after all, what's a website but a PR machine? Well, maybe. And maybe one can tell the unvarnished truth sometimes and admit when he's been taken down a peg.
I'm looking forward to San Francisco, to tomorrow. As time passes, it doesn't seem so bad--and it was nice to see friends. And when you collect stories, setbacks are often opportunities.
I really liked those bats. Those bats were worth everything.
I'm writing this from the hotel room in Beverly Hills, where I am doing an interview for Etopia Books, a great chat being hosted by Linux Public Broadcasting Network. They will be streaming with Real starting at 3pm PST...I'll be answering questions and kibbitzing. More on Austin's shenanigans to follow--I'm all out of order with the excessive travelling.
DATELINE: AUSTIN. The sky is painfully bright and gray, like a high-wattage analogue to Seattle's passive-aggressive cloudiness. Last night the moon hung low and fat over the trees outside the hotel, strung up in the web of high-tension electric wires that framed it for me. I keep riding past the tower where that crazed U of T student took his last shot, doing the radio shows and FOX affiliates, working the crowd. My escort's SUV is so high off the ground that a family of 4 could live beneath it. The language here is laced with dipthongs and uplifts, peppery innuendo and brashness--I never realized that I would find Texans sexy.
I still don't know what I'm going to do at this reading.
Price Waterhouse Cooper has changed its name to "Monday." Yeah, that's a pretty weird rebranding...but it's notable because though they have registered introducingmonday.com, they seemed to have forgotten to get introducingmonday.co.uk, which a very funny British contributor to B3ta by the handle of AndyK took and ran with. Warning: the site is damn addictive.
(If anyone wishes to make a Flash-animated version of MikeDaisey.co.uk, you have my blessings so long as it is as funny as this movie.)
This made me giggle.
Bald Faced Lie is Seattle's funniest sketch comedy troupe with the best longevity--and having produced a sketch comedy festival in that town, I should know. They've been branching out into related hilarious enterprises, including staged adaptations of movies like HEATHERS and PRETTY IN PINK, as part of their Brown Derby Series, which I was lucky enough to read in a few years ago. This article doesn't do them justice, but it gives a great overview of the work they're doing. If you're in Seattle, check them out.
A quick reminder that I am on book tour this week, touching down in Austin, Los Angelos and San Francisco. All the dates, times and locations can be found under the "Mike on Tour" tab of the website, and I hope people will make an appearence and say hello. I'll be performing pieces of 21 DOG YEARS, pieces of other new and old monologues and a healthy element of chaos. It should be worth your while.
NYT is getting into the act, bashing Microsoft's hegemony with this article on open-source office suites--they aren't just for hackers anymore:
The Office Software That Roared
Another episode in the continually amusing story of Mike auditioning: I was in today at CBS casting. Due to a conflict with a callback I was not in with a group all trying to get the same role, but a different posse entirely. In my case it was a waiting room with me and six tall, sexy black men trying to get the role of "Neville Lane" on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS.
There is nothing quite like sitting, quietly waiting to audition while six super-sexy black men meditate, speak to themselves and practice their soap opera faces over and over. I can see how casting people get grumpy though--this group seemed completely interchangeable. I don't see how they're able to make a single decision--do you pick the guy whose eyes quiver the most, or whose lips have the infinitesimally greater degree of sexiness? These are problems that keep somebody up at night.
When I came out of my audition, I picked up my bag and for some reason all the black soap opera actors looked at me. I couldn't resist...very calmly I said,
"Guys, I think you can all go home, because I totally *am* Neville Lane."
For just a second some of them looked shocked and angry, like I was serious, then one started laughing, then two, and then they all laughed, with a lot of relief, which is good--those waiting rooms are murder to sit in.
Just when you think technology has gone too far, you read something like this.
I'm going to be on TALK OF THE NATION today as a guest talking about the nature of work--specifically, the idea of "paying your dues." No, I don't know when I became a pundit, and I am still waiting to receive my Talking Head PhD in the mail.
(Wait...I do know. I think it was yesterday, when I made a pointed and reasonable obscure reference to Mao. That's a requirement, you know.)
Phil over at FuckedCompany.com has this great Customer Service email thread concerning a Dell employee who had the audacity to refer a problem directly to Michael Dell, the CEO. He only did this because the customer in question had been hounding the company for a solid year to get a power adapter, and Dell was ignoring her. What I think is interesting is how the transcipt of the emails shows that while Michael Dell (who responds) is concerned about the customer, all the layers of bureacracy are concerned (of course) with how a lowly customer service drone could have done this--none of them seem surprised or concerned that it took a year to get a part somewhere. I think here we are looking at the difference between "acceptable incompetence" and "unusual, attention-grabbing behaviors". You know that were it a choice, the Dell mid-level managers would rather have had that part stay lost forever than attract the eyes of their CEO for even a moment.
It's common sense, but it bears repeating: bureacracies exist to perpetuate themselves. Mao didn't know how right he was when he put that little bon mot in his little Red Book.
RICKY JAY, a remarkable magician/performer whose latest Off-Broadway show ON THE STEM was directed by David Mamet, is featured with Mamet in this interesting interview at the Times. Jay's next to last answer is on how he gets ready on show days:
JAY: Rehearse a little, go to sleep, get up, take a shower, go to the theater two hours early, rehearse some more, and do the show. It's completely consuming. I have maybe three hours a day to myself, so I can do one thing, maybe have lunch with someone. And then after the performance I can't sleep, I'm up till 4 or 5 in the morning, wired from the adrenaline.
This is exactly how I've been living for the last two months, in which time there have been 72 performances, which works out to approxiamately 108 hours of stage time. I don't think I've ever done anything so fully absorbing in all my life.
Read the article--it's very good.
I don't link to reviews of the show or book, as that somehow seems tacky, but I can't resist when it's a fellow blogger...especially when he gives me props for being geeky. Rock on.
I don't have the time right now to break down Mr. Surowiecki's brillant writing point-by-point, but this is a wonderful piece that cuts through the hype of the "bubble-and-bust" mentallity that pervades the media on technology. Good stuff.
The New Economy Was a Myth, Right?
Microsoft accidentally distributes virus. I suppose we should be heartened that these crack-smoking, arrogant bastards didn't intentionally distribute the virus in their flagship developer tool. I can't think of anything else to add. Gah.
I'm about to go on my first book tour, so I found this article by Steve Almond over at Bookweb very interesting--it's a positive look at the coolnesses that can be in a book tour, its place in the world and asks the simple question what do writers want?
I must say that I'm really looking forward to the experience...I hope my journeys are even half as cool as what Steve describes.
Which Colossal Death Robot Are You?
I am Optimus Prime.
Is there no amusement the Internet cannot bring to us?
It was just a matter of time...even TIME is publishing articles on War Driving. After San Francisco, NYC is the next great place for picking up free WiFi signals...and here are some resources if you'd like to give it a whirl:
My friend Glenn has a great discussion/resource page on WiFi (or Airport or 802.11b or "that cool wireless internet thing" at 80211b.weblogger.com Check out his sidebar links for a full rundown on what the industry is up to.
The guys at NYCwireless rock my world. This is the best way to locate free wireless points in the city.
If you are a Mac head, Apple's AirPort pages explain how you can effortlessly get in on the fun. PC folks are welcome to--Glenn has some links above that will help you suss out what you need.
And my favorite geek touch--Ultimate Apple AirPort. When I get a chance I am going to hack the hell out of my base stations, get a Pringles can and see just how far I can make my signal go.
Some people love cars...that always seemed silly to me, and I often made fun of folks who did that when I was young. But I'll invest a week of work to double the range of a wireless internet connection. Hmmm.
I'm currently on MSNBC doing a chat...MSNBC's chat system does not support Macs. Why? I have no idea. They have Java, the net is supposed to be cross platform...blah blah blah. Apparently their lame-ass excuse for an operating system can't handle a CHAT PROGRAM without loading a proprietary module that forcefeeds you advertising.
So I can't see what's going on, and when I ask why on earth they don't support Macs, unlike every other chat site I've used, the guy laughs and says, "Heh heh heh...hey man, we're Microsoft."
So then I tell him I use Microsoft products every day, as they theoretically support my platform--was it just too hard to code a chat client? He is silent. I tell him that I am disappointed, and he is more silent. Typical, passive-aggressive Microsoft: let the silence grind over you, since they believe no one has an alternative to their way of life. Let no one mistake--you can find a company guilty of abusing a monopoly and even indict them, but that doesn't make them any less a bunch of pricks. Not a lot of humility or humanity floats out of their idustrial complex.
The chat went well enough, though I did get an inordinate number of questions about my relationship with V.S. Naipaul, a subject I haven't wanted to bring up so much in public. I've made some rather pointed remarks about Mr. Naipaul's use of his literary fame in bludgeoning others into listening to his social criticisims, and he has responded in kind with deprecating remarks about my scholarship. So if this can not remain under the wraps, let it come out--let this literary feud blossom in all its warty and confused glory so that the chips fall where they may.
I've been restrained before, Naipaul...now you'll discover that my Fists of Fury know no human boundaries, and that my wrath is as deep as my tolerance had been commendable.
As I sit writing this, I am watching LATE SHOW on my television, seeing the same thing I saw from the Ed Sullivan theater backstage and in the green room this evening.
Here's how it went down: a limousine came to pick me up this afternoon and drove me down to the side door of the Ed Sullivan theater, the celebrity door through which the guests come. There are lines holding back the gawkers, and paparazzi stand at attention, ready to photograph the stars as they walk into the theater. The limo slid up, and I knew as I prepared to exit the car, prepared for the inevitable disappointment these eager folks would feel when they discovered that I was not Freddie Prinze, Jr.
The car door opened, I began to step out and a ragged cheer went up--my blond hair had made people think i could be Prinze! Then my bulky form came into focus and the cheer wavered and disappeared, the cameras stopped clicking and a low, sonorous booing began. Two people near the front shouted to their friends--"It's nobody, it's nobody...no, it's nobody."
The more I heard booing, the more I felt compelled to wave, smiling a little and saying, "Yes, I am not Freddie...sorry about that!" The paparazzi laughed, and the Prinze fans ignored me, already looking up the street for the next car that would hold their Holy Leader.
Backstage at the LATE SHOW was everything I imagined: cramped, kinetic and really cool. It has the spare utility you see off-stage in Broadway theaters mixed with some killer photos on the walls of all the acts that have come and gone and come again over the years. About the third time I rode the elevator I realized it was the one The Beatles get stuck in and then run out of in that movie, and that made me smile. Small world.
I suited up, got miced, talked with the producers one last time while I reviewed the rough list of talking points Dave would be using to work off of and went to my launch point...where I waited, at the edge of the stage, and a man with a stopwatch counted down...
...and then I was bumped, at 15 seconds to go.
That's the breaks, in a live show--cancellations happen, and since I'm not Alicia Keys or Freddie, when push comes to shove I'm at the unfavorable place in the food chain. The producers, whom I really like, were very apologetic and I felt bad for them--this happens a lot, I would suspect, and it has to be hard to run a live show with so many variables. Personally, I didn't mind that much, as it was a very interesting afternoon...and getting booed for not being Freddie is always worth a trip uptown.
Word is that I'll be rescheduled soon, and so I get a second tilt at the wheel...and since I got all the way to the edge of the stage, I feel like I had my nuclear armageddon test, the one where the guys from WAR GAMES have to turn their keys and launch their missles, only to discover at the last moment that this has all been a test to see if they were REALLY PREPARED TO GO ON LETTERMAN.
Afterward I found myself feeling a little weird, and realized it was just lots of adrenaline running all over me with nowhere to go. I imagine astronauts have similar issues when their missions get scrubbed at T-minus seven seconds--luckily I had a show to go do, and I funneled my energy into that.
Also, I did receive a number of LATE SHOW T-shirts! That may sound facetious, but it is not: they are very nice shirts, and few things make me happier than free stuff. Even better, I think we get them EVERY TIME we are on, so if I can just manage to keep getting bumped, I could have a hundred of them in a matter of months. If I'm able to work that out I'll start giving them away here at the site.
Celebrity gossip: Freddie Prinze, Jr. is cool...he is very low-key, no longer has blond hair, and blended right into the crowds there. Friendly, affable and a nice guy. Alicia Keys had a 60 person entorurage, which is just as excessive as it sounds. She has her own band, which makes sense, but she also had tons of folks who seemed to be bodyguards, lawyers, hangers-ons...it seemed as if everyone she ever knew came into the cramped confines of the green room and corridors. If you see the show, check out her hair--she has a massive afro that has glitter sprayed through it, and let me tell you that it is entirely more impressive in person, in ways that are hard to express. I never thought the Godhead could be visible in Alicia Keys' hair styling, but I was proved wrong...I don't know how big it will look on TV, but it was larger than life in person. I have no idea what she's like as you'd have to have broken through three layers of guards to speak to her.
Also, they all do some sort of group affirmation/prayer that involves a bit of chanting before they go on stage. It was spooky to me, but then again if I ever have an entourage I'll probably want to do some sort of team empowerment exercise before big events on national TV. I wished it had been firewalking...that would have been a sight, though the quantities of hairspray involved in Ms. Keys' creation make this an exercise in danger.
Okay, I was wrong--I will be appearing on the LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN tonight, barring any more unforseen schedule changes...in the wacky world of live TV, you never know what will happen next. I will do my level best to get Ms. Keyes and Mr. Prinze to play a little bocce ball...I need to go buy a carrying case to get my set down to the Ed Sullivan theater today.
Word around the campfire is that I'll be bumped to another night, but if you look right now I'm on the schedule for David Letterman this Wednesday--I never thought I would be in a list with Alicia Keys and Freddie Prinze, Jr. but God moves in mysterious ways.
I am trying to imagine the backstage shenanigans right now, and somehow I am failing. I am thinking of bringing my bocce set and trying to get them to play, or maybe some imprompty candlepin bowling. We shall see.
If I do get rescheduled, I'll let you know when I know that it'll be happening, and hopefully we'll score somebody more bitchin' than Ms. Keys or Mr. Prinze.
The central problem with this Michael Lewis piece is that the facts aren't all on his side. Lewis loves to make sweeping generalizations, and he's good at that...but his analysis of the effect "millionaire youth" has had on our culture neglects to mention the fact that porportionately almost no one in the dot-com boom became millionaires. The idea that there was ever huge numbers of 27 year-olds with massive capitalizations was fueled by NEWSWEEK and WIRED, and never by numbers. Same goes for investment banking--sure, WALL STREET made it look ubiquitous, but there's a gap between that and reality. I wish that he'd paid some service to that fact.
Otherwise, a lot of what Lewis says makes sense, and echoes thoughts I've had about the death of the ride. The anecdotal evidence I've seen so far, which is of course totally unscientific, leads me to believe that my generation will emerge a richer, more prepared, more interesting posse for its experiences in the dot-com boom, and you'll see more and more people "reverse selling out"--becoming more aware of social and economic issues that matter to them as they get older, which could make them a potent force. Lewis neglects that the greatest problem with radicals is that as they age, they lose their convictions. But if the force behind a movement ignited and burned stronger the older they became...now that's something I'd like to see applied to better use than the AARP.
On the other hand, this article by David Brooks in the same issue does an outstanding job of tracing the arc of American largesse, and rather than having a kneejerk guilt reaction is delves deeper into looking at what the effect all this affluence has had on us as a people--I was particularly pleased by Brooks' noting of how excessive options and abundance creates a kind of nervous hypertension that stresses people out as they try to cram more work, more fun, MORE WORK, MORE FUN! into each and every day. Check it out.
Okay, I'm off to brunch.
I can not believe that Beijing fell fora story in the Onion. As if we needed more evidence that communism doesn't work.
(Thanks to Jennifer in NC for the heads up.)
Fascinating article positing that due to rampant copying and the realities of the 21st century, the music business will become the new book industry. In their day the book industry had "rock stars" like Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck, but then the finger of commerce moved on. And whereas music biz folks used to only be happy with selling at gold and platnium levels, they'll become satisfied with releases that break 40,000...working and sweating for every sale. Very interesting stuff, and a lot of it has the ring of truth...they are discussing this over at Slashdot, from whom I shameless stole some of the preceeding copy that describes the article's contents.
What a day it has been--it is my day off, so I'm trying to rest up, because my throat has been bothering me. I do eight shows a week, so any variation from routine can really through a wrench into my vocal cords, and I'm afraid that between interviews, rushing about and social engagements I have maxed out my body. Doing a professional run in a solo show is a bit like being a marathoner, and I find that I spend most of my day off, every week, simply recuperating and readying myself for the next week.
Reviews are starting to come in for the book, which I will take a similarly agnostic attitude toward as I did with the theatrical reviews--it is more acceptable for authors to comment on reviews, so long as they don't say anything crude, but I think I'd rather avoid the whole situation. I will note that the book was reviewed at Slashdot today, where it received a great review, only to then get a weird mixture of incredibly informed followed by incredibly venomous responses. Amazon has always been a red-button topic for some people, so there's some risk in being in the cultural crosshairs.
This weekend I actually made it out to New Jersey for my friend Kathleen's wedding. Her family lives in Englewood, this posh suburb just over the George Washington Bridge, and that's where the celebration was held. We had a 5pm matinee show, so it was quite a logistical challenge to get all the way there, do a 2pm wedding and then get all the way back to Greenwich Village in time to do a show. We managed, though I suspect the stress of this has something to do with my tiredness now, four days later.
I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Kathleen and I have been friends since college, where we did theater together, and all Kathleen's friends, who are my friends too, were at the wedding: Miranda, Julie, Betsy...okay, I know most people reading this have no idea who these people are, but they are really cool people.
Anyway, Jean-Michele and I got to go hang out in the bridal suite, which rocked--having gotten married already, let me tell you that the women have a much cooler time up in their pre-wedding rituals. They do their hair in intricate, hairspray-laden routines, everyone writes their names on the soles of the bride's shoes to see whose will be rubbed off first--it's a cornucopia of history-making moments, and it was fun to be there. Kathleen's dad is Charles Osgood, of CBS radio and television fame, and it was trippy to have him walking around in a cool, old-fashioned gray tuxedo saying friendly things in a stenotarian voice I normally associate with broadcast journalism, and not a man giving away his oldest daughter.
For me the best parts of weddings are the unexpected-outdoor weddings are good for that, especially ones held at a person's house ,however ornate or large. I loved it when the trumpeters slightly warbled in the bridal procession, and you could see everyone WILLING THEM to hit the next note. I loved it when the family Dalmatian, Cleo, came trotting out and had to be corralled by the groomsmen and taken back inside. And just as Kathleen was holding back tears and saying her vows, an enormous bee flew onto the back of the head of the woman standing near us...she noticed this immediately, saw the bee, made a muffled shrieking sound and struck her head repeatedly with her wedding program. She then went completely still, all in a matter of moments, because she was very aware she had abruptly become the focus of the wedding.
I laughed and laughed, quietly, and all of Kathleen's friends around me laughed too, some through tears, as she said her vows and found herself married. The sun was shining, the flowers were blooming and the dog stood at the door, licking the window, waiting to be let out into the party. I hope her marriage finds all the humor and beauty her ceremony did, because if it does it will be a beautiful thing.
This gets my vote for weirdest news story of the week, courtesy of Mr. Tanzer:
"It was hell," said Corporal Paul Richard, 20. "Every village we went into we got a group of men wearing make-up coming up, stroking our hair and cheeks and making kissing noises."
Read it and weep for mankind.