Harvey Korman of ‘Burnett Show’ Dies at 81 - Obituary (Obit) - NYTimes.com:
Harvey Korman, the award-winning comedic actor who rose to fame playing second banana to Carol Burnett on her television variety series and who starred in hit movies like “Blazing Saddles” and “High Anxiety,” died on Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 81.
A tall man known for his outlandish characterizations, Mr. Korman was nominated for seven Emmys for his television work and won four. He also was nominated for four Golden Globe awards, winning one.
The bad news about the good news about terrorism:
Zakaria hangs his argument on a new study from Canada's Simon Fraser University that reviews the main terrorism databases. The report breaks down the data and observes that the annual double-digit increases in the death toll from terrorism that have made headlines in recent years are misleading because they include large numbers of fatalities in Iraq. "This makes no sense," Zakaria writes. "Iraq is a war zone, and as in other war zones around the world, many of those killed are civilians." We don't count deaths in other civil wars, such as those in the Democratic Republic of Congo or Sierra Leone, as terrorism fatalities, so why in Iraq? Take away the Iraqi deaths, and the databases indicate either a decline in terrorism-related deaths or a flat line. Ergo, terrorism is not the threat that the great scare machine of the U.S. government, press, and terror experts make it out to be.
For those who believe, as I do, that there has been a relentless exploitation—read, scaremongering—of the terrorist threat for political advantage and a horrifying distortion of our foreign policy into a reckless global war on terror, this is an attractive argument. Zakaria, one of our smartest foreign-policy analysts, is not the only one making it. The problem is that even if the current administration has misused the issue—and John McCain, with his relentless talk of the "transcendent challenge of our time: the threat of radical Islamic terrorism," is following in Bush's footsteps—the focus on statistics is misplaced.
Mr. Excitement News: Sunday's HTFA Panel:
I caught the show when it was at Joe's Pub and I've been meaning to write about it. I went in expecting to nod my head in agreement with the critique of corporate theater, but I didn't expect to feel so vividly connected to my own memories of trying so hard to do theater, with people who believed in it just as much as I did, all across the country. So many people's dreams are tied up in this thing we call American Theater and what Mike does so brilliantly in this show is to connect his own youthful passion to that of everyone who's ever wanted a life in the theater. The critique is there -- and it is direct and it is no-kidding -- but Mike's no hater. He connects the audience emotionally to why we're all so devoted to this art form, then asks everyone to come together and address some of these hard questions.
How Theater Failed America:
Interweaving personal experience with cultural commentary, Daisey creates an alternately exhilarating and frightening picture of the contemporary American stage. From his own history as an actor and teacher, he relates how theatre can be thrilling even though it rarely pays and is so often performed under low-budget or no-budget conditions. This point is illustrated with a hilarious segment about a season of low-rent summer stock in which Daisey was part of a cast of six that performed all the roles and served as the entire crew: Even though he and his friends were sleeping on tabletops in a resort kitchen, they were still making theatre. In a particularly moving portion, Daisey explains how his love of the stage literally saved his life when a job coaching high school drama pulled him out of a depression.
The Disappearing Critic:
Joe Adcock, theater critic at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for 26 years, is retiring this week. Critics aren't anybody's favorite people. Last weekend, standing outside a theater during intermission, I mentioned Adcock's departure to a prominent artistic director. He replied in song: "Ding-dong, the witch is dead!" Then I told him the P-I hadn't just lost Adcock. They'd also eliminated his job, and won't hire another full-time theater critic, due to a hiring freeze. The artistic director's face fell: "Oh. That's terrible."
Carrie: The Current Cinema: The New Yorker:
At least, you could argue, Miranda has a job, as a lawyer. But the film pays it zero attention, and the other women expect her to drop it and fly to Mexico without demur. (And she does.) Worse still is the sneering cut as the scene shifts from Carrie, carefree and childless in the New York Public Library, to the face of Miranda’s young son, smeared with spaghetti sauce. In short, to anyone facing the quandaries of being a working mother, the movie sends a vicious memo: Don’t be a mother. And don’t work. Is this really where we have ended up—with this superannuated fantasy posing as a slice of modern life? On TV, “Sex and the City” was never as insulting as “Desperate Housewives,” which strikes me as catastrophically retrograde, but, almost sixty years after “All About Eve,” which also featured four major female roles, there is a deep sadness in the sight of Carrie and friends defining themselves not as Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, Celeste Holm, and Thelma Ritter did—by their talents, their hats, and the swordplay of their wits—but purely by their ability to snare and keep a man. Believe me, ladies, we’re not worth it. It’s true that Samantha finally disposes of one paramour, but only with a view to landing another, and her parting shot is a beauty: “I love you, but I love me more.” I have a terrible feeling that “Sex and the City” expects us not to disapprove of that line, or even to laugh at it, but to exclaim in unison, “You go, girl.” I walked into the theatre hoping for a nice evening and came out as a hard-line Marxist, my head a whirl of closets, delusions, and blunt-clawed cattiness. All the film lacks is a subtitle: “The Lying, the Bitch, and the Wardrobe.”
Wal-Mart puts the squeeze on food costs - May. 29, 2008:
Ever wonder why that cereal box is only two-thirds full? Foodmakers love big boxes because they serve as billboards on store shelves. Wal-Mart has been working to change that by promising suppliers that their shelf space won't shrink even if their boxes do. As a result, some of its vendors have reengineered their packaging. General Mills' (GIS, Fortune 500) Hamburger Helper is now made with denser pasta shapes, allowing the same amount of food to fit into a 20% smaller box at the same price. The change has saved 890,000 pounds of paper fiber and eliminated 500 trucks from the road, giving General Mills a cushion to absorb some of the rising costs.
McClellan: Plame leak case was turning point - TODAY: People - TODAYshow.com:
“The larger message has been sort of lost in the mix ... The White House would prefer I not speak out openly and honestly about my experiences, but I believe there is a larger purpose,” Scott McClellan, the chief spokesman for the White House from 2003-2006, told TODAY co-host Meredith Vieira exclusively during his first interview since snippets from his new memoir hit the Internet on Tuesday.
“I had all this great hope that we were going to come to Washington and change it ... Then we got to Washington, and I think we got caught up in playing the Washington game the way it is being played today,” said McClellan, who made only passing references to Bush himself.
village voice > theater > Two New Productions Rant and Roll by Alexis Soloski:
From the first moment of the show, sweat moistens Daisey's face. He dabs and mops at himself with a black handkerchief as he works himself into frequent lathers. Daisey favors an extreme emotionalism—laughing, shrieking, roaring throughout. Happily, he's such an engaging performer and such a fine writer that he pulls it off. (Even if you don't always agree with his arguments, you admire the sentences that form them.) Though theater may have failed, Daisey nicely succeeds.
SHOWBIZ & PLEASURE MIX NICELY - New York Post:
DESPITE its off-putting title, Mike Daisey's new solo show, "How Theater Failed America," is a rollicking, entertaining evening that's as inspiring as it is cautionary.
Daisey, who burst onto the scene with "21 Dog Years," his account of working at amazon.com, clearly knows the territory, having performed monologues at regional theaters across his country. His latest monologue - now playing a limited off-Broadway engagement after winning acclaim at Joe's Pub - is a highly personal account of his often checkered theatrical past.
As I type this I am riding to the airport after finishing the second
weekend of HTFA at the Barrow Street. Houses have been good, and the
numbers are trending well--if this is how we do on Memorial Day
weekend, I have a lot of hope for the rest of the run.
I'm flying to Seattle, where I'm officiating my first wedding later
today--it's for my good friends Suzanne and Kurt, and I really
couldn't be more honored to be marrying them. I would say more on
this, but I'm saving my thoughts for the wedding.
After today, I spend Monday through Thursday in Seattle--if you're
reading this and you're a friend who'd like to get together while I'm
in town, call me and we'll see what we can make happen.
Happy wedding day,
Slashdot | Senate Committee Votes To Fingerprint Lenders:
tjstork recommends a blog post up at Openmarket.org on the passage by a Senate committee of a fingerprinting provision in a foreclosure assistance bill. The provision would require thousands of people connected with the mortgage industry, even tangentially — possibly including part-time and seasonal real estate agents — to send fingerprints to the feds for storage in a database. No explanation is in evidence as to how this would help the problem of loan fraud. The measure passed the Senate Banking Committee by a bipartisan majority of 19 to 2.
Day 3 of the R. Kelly trial: Sparkle's revenge:
Kelly's lawyers tried, exhaustively but futilely, to prevent the jury from seeing the video. This is understandable—when you're defending an accused child pornographer, it's best not to have the jury hear a man who looks just like your client refer to himself, on tape, as "daddy" as he begins to have intercourse with the alleged victim. (The girl's answer when he asks her to initiate sex: "Yes, Daddy.") There's also the matter of his prolonged urination on the girl's face and breasts, which stops and starts, and stops and starts, for what seems like minutes on end. It's excruciating to watch.
Before the tape started rolling, I thought that a few people might have to leave the courtroom. The vibe in the room, though, is more uncomfortable than appalled, like we've all been dragooned into watching Porky's Revenge at grandma's house. Aside from one guy who occasionally breaks into a nervous smile, the jury is stone-faced and intent on the big screen. The two obvious Kelly fans in the room—a pair of young girls who've scored visitors' passes—watch with their hands in their pockets and slightly downturned mouths. Kelly, wearing a dark pinstripe suit and a blue tie with diagonal orange stripes, his hair immaculately braided, tilts his head every so often, putting his chin on his hand to peer at the video from a different angle.
If the defense is to be believed, Kelly is looking at someone other than himself. In the defense's opening statement, Sam Adam Jr. proclaims, "Robert Kelly is not on that tape." I predict that in the decades to come, law schools will teach this as the "Shaggy defense." You allege that I was caught on camera, butt naked, banging on the log cabin floor? It wasn't me.
Mission impossible | Theatre story | guardian.co.uk Arts:
It's the kind of work, in other words, that needs thoughtful handling - and that's what Cheek By Jowl excels at. Founded in 1981, the company sprang into being during one of British theatre's periodic bouts of obesity - a time when Lloyd Webber showstoppers were all the rage and massive, concept-obsessed productions dominated the subsidised sector. Donnellan and Ormerod, aspiring young director and designer respectively (and partners in real life), wanted to turn things around. Their company would be small, supple, and cheap to run. It would travel incessantly. And it would offer an eclectic repertoire, small-scale, boutique versions of core English plays alongside big European scripts - Sophocles through to Corneille and Racine. Somehow, it all worked: with Ormerod's clean, lean designs and Donnellan's irreverent yet subtle direction, they developed a reputation for teasing the intricacies from classic texts while skewering the pieties that surround them.
Book Club of the Damned: I Will Fear No Evil, Part 2 | Slog | The Stranger | Seattle's Only Newspaper:
So far, the inordinately wealthy male businessman Johann Sebastian Bach Smith has had his brain implanted into the nubile young female body of his secretary, Eunice. Somehow, Eunice’s thoughts have survived the loss of her brain, and so the two are communicating mentally via dueling parentheses, like so:
(Eunice, would you still be willing to have a baby by me?) (What? Boss, don’t joke about it. Don’t mock me.) (I’m not joking, beloved.)
Eunice has started referring to Johann, who now answers to Joan Eunice, as “Twin.” In the last hundred and sixty pages, they have made out with a lot of men. That’s just about all that they have done.
FakeTV emulates human watching the tube, supposedly discourages thieves - Engadget:
What else can we say? The concept here is pure genius, and it totally makes those pricey security systems seem way pointless (okay, slightly less critical). The FakeTV is a strobe that sets up in an occupied room at night and flashes up beams of light. From the inside, we can imagine it looks fairly curious, but from the outside, it gives prospective burglars the idea that someone is actually awake and watching a television program. It promises to produce the effects of "scene changes, fades, swells, flicks, on-screen motion and color changes," just like they were generated by a bona fide set.
Save Union Square: What's Going On? What Can You Do?:
Here's the skinny: after letting the pavilion building fall into disrepair for over a decade, the city government was finally ready to pony up the cash to repair the building and return it to public use. Before the city could even complete their own plans, the Union Square Business Improvement District, or BID, (led by corporate chain stores such as Barnes and Noble and Whole Foods) got involved, dangling wads of extra (anonymously donated) cash, and before you know it the plans that emerged took on a decidedly unfriendly tone, particularly if you happen to be an artist selling your work, a farmer selling food, or any citizen who might want to just sit down in the park without having to purchase a $5.00 latté.
The BID plan will create two more lanes of traffic on 17th street, thereby reducing the space for the Farmer's Market by half, forcing them to push into space previously occupied by artists (this is the divide and conquer strategy, as old as Machiavelli). Furthermore, the Pavilion, an icon of free speech and free assembly, is slated to be turned into a swanky restaurant, about the last thing this particular neighborhood needs. In combination, these two developments will pretty much eliminate Union Square North as a viable place for public assembly. Without public space to peaceably assemble, the First Amendment is meaningless. How did this happen?
Mayor Mike's buddy, Danny Meyer, the owner of the Shake Shack at Madison Square Park, as well as Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe, is the head of the Union Square Partnership. He is a primary backer of this plan. Meyer and his backers found willing partners in the offices of the corporate chains that surround the park. And why not? Fewer farmers means more business for Whole Foods. Fewer artist-vendors means more knick-knack sales for Barnes and Noble. We suspect that the "anonymous" donation that greased the wheels of this back room deal came from Danny Meyer, or from one of his backers. We also suspect that the future swanky restaurant in the Pavilion might just be run by Mr. Meyer himself. But of course this is all speculation, because THERE IS NO TRANSPARENCY IN THE PROCESS. We don't know how such a crap plan got put together, with no meaningful community input. We just know that they were able to get it passed, and that they even got Rosie Mendez to sign off on it. They bought off her and some of the opposition by promising to expand the children's playground, a classic bait and switch tactic to obscure the reality of this plan: they are decreasing the size of the park, giving it over to cars and to private businesses.
A Chronicler of Late-Night Party Melancholy - City Room - Metro - New York Times Blog:
“I like that hour between 3 and 4 in the morning when desperation sets in, when you see all the anticipation of going out starting to fade. The masks drop and everybody realizes the night is not going to be everything they were hoping for.”
The world's a stage at MCA :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Hedy Weiss:
Performing artists with roots in Nigeria, Japan and Quebec, as well as from throughout the United States, will be part of the 2008-09 Performance season at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. Among the many intriguing offerings will be a new take on Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" inspired by life in the high-energy Nigerian capital of Lagos; a seven-hour presentation of the full text of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel The Great Gatsby; the tale of a Japanese couple holed up in a "love hotel" far from global news events, and a new dance version of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth.
Here is the complete rundown of the MCA's to date, with more entries to be added in the future:
-- "If You See Something Say Something" (Oct. 10-12), author-humorist Mike Daisey's satirical monologue that takes aim at the Department of Homeland Security and also relates the story of the inventor of the neutron bomb.
A huge congratulations to Heidi Schreck, who won an Obie tonight—we've been friends and colleagues for more than a decade, and there's no one I'd rather see win one tonight, myself included.
She's always been a magnificent artist, a brilliant actor, a gifted playwright, and an excellent human being.
(Collage built on the cheap via Google Image search and a little screenshotting...after the Obies, this is as high-tech as I get.)
Leaving Your Artistic Legacy
by Craig Lucas
The following is a commencement address I delivered on Sunday to the graduates of the Boston University College of Fine Arts
Congratulations! Congratulations congratulations congratu-lations congratulations. I'm honored to stand here and say, Congratulations! You have proved once and for all that you are indeed incredibly hard-working and genuinely talented. You can now go tell your High School Guidance Counselor what to do with that joyless advice they probably offered.
I only sort of remember my graduation. I know I was not really looking forward to facing "real" life, but I was so happy to be done with school
School is incredibly hard. Change is hard. Being constantly told what you don't know is horrible. Exploring the unknown, stuffing the brain with new information while emptying it of what is now revealed to be erroneous is all completely horrible. Falling on your face. It makes us feel stupid and encourages more confident students to leap up and show off. One wishes bad things to rain down on them. You know, the ones who got cast in everything, got all the solos, the praise, whose poems are already appearing in the goddamn New Yorker and who handled it all with such grace, one wishes for them to fall down and chip their teeth.
Perhaps it's because: how in the hell are we to face a life in the arts? Did they teach us that? I don't remember that happening, but I cut a lot of classes and I am a very slow learner and late bloomer. Really. So when your parents start asking what the hell is going on, what are you working on?, remind them that Van Gogh didn't paint until he was 27; don't mention Schiele whose huge body of unforgettable work was cut short by his death at 18. Don't mention him. Or Jesus.
What I vaguely remember about my graduation is having to sit and listen to some ancient man, older than carbon, standing before us in red gown droning on and on about the meaning of a life in the arts in America.
Now I'm back and this time I'm up here and, worse still, I know what you're thinking.
You want to drink and get laid, and I want that for you, I really do. (Or was that high school?)
It bears noting that some years after graduating, I started to read about the Group Theatre, the seminal theater company which saw its own function in society as being something more than the attainment of success, fame and wealth. Elia Kazan, Lee Strasburg, Clifford Odets and Harold Clurman, the director of Member of the Wedding and author of the finest book on directing we have, and our greatest drama critic.
That was the ancient man who spoke to us.
Never mind. Here's the good news:
"Real" life is no more unfair, cliqueish, competitive, back-biting, frustrating and claustrophobic than college. In my experience. The trouble with experience, of course, is you have to have it yourself, you never take it on faith.
So since I can't spare you the pain and humiliation soon to be brought about by your absolute unwillingness to trust me, I can tell you that through all the pain and suffering will also to be the consolations of sex, art and pursuit of justice. An added perk to these three -- if you fully commit yourself to sex, art and justice - the Republicans will be out on their ass.
Why should that be? Because -- and here's more good news -- sex and pleasure will always be radical ideas. It is eternally the reactionary who wants to control our behavior in the bedroom, our delight in being alive and rewarding ourselves on this side of the grave; they are the ones who wish to punish people for having sex for pleasure by forcing them to have babies they don't want and then giving them no health care, no day care, no maternity leave, nothing! God is on their side, pointing to something originally written in Aramaic by people who refused to eat lobster and stoned you if you did. Bush says he talks to god. As do people wandering about the subway.
I'm not saying religion is wrong. Not at all. Jesus said give your money away. Love your enemy. Charity is the greatest virtue. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. He did say, If a member offends you, cut it off. And I'm not down with that at all.
So that's sex.
Justice. I'm leaving art for last -- Why should I be any different than Congress?
Complete and eternal justice is unattainable. Things are defined by their opposite.
However, the Big Shots who told my generation that people of different "races" should not marry or sleep together; that sodomy was a good reason to discriminate against people and oust them from their jobs and prevent them from marrying and having children; that Christianity is our one true national religion; that killing a million poor people in a country that never threatened us is "Bringing Them Democracy" -- these barefaced lying hypocrites are finally headed straight where they belong inside the dioramas at the Museum of Natural History. [Right next to the Saber-Toothed Tiger. Reeow!]
As I see it, you are the first generation in a long time to register to vote and oppose reactionary politics, and this could mean the arts finally receive some of the attention and federal support the Dinosaurs stole from us twenty-years ago. You guys have the power to remind everyone, as preceding generations failed to do, that Art is a quality of life issue! It makes things better. Worth living.
And you don't have to agree with all of it -- whatever that means, who the hell "agrees" with the Mona Lisa? -- in order to support it. I don't have to agree with the bombs my taxes pay for, it's part of democracy to pony up anyway.
It's way too easy to dismiss people we don't agree with, which I have been doing since I stood up. Certainly we don't have to like everybody-only Buddha and Laura Bush can do that -but as artists, we pretty much have to love them. We can still hate them, but we have to find a way into their experience, and find them inside ourselves-the tyrant, the barefaced lying hypocrite, in here. Without doing that, having done that, we could never have Iago, Richard III, Oedipus, Willy Loman, Hannibal Lecter. There would be no Goya, Francis Bacon, Diane Arbus.
If you can hold two diametrically opposed ideas in your head at the same time, you can write a play. The push and pull of paint, sound, bodies in space, clay, cat gut on horse hair (do they still use that shit?) is all about one thing: Conflict. Us and Them.
Example: the American people own the airways, legally, they're yours and mine, and we let Congress give them away to TV executives who then use them, our airwaves -- I'm not making this up -- to sell us things we don't necessarily need like war and deodorant and antidepressants we choose to take so we won't get too angry or sad about what they are doing to us.
Without understanding that and them, the ones doing all the doing, our art can get puny and impotent -- just more pretty frou frous for the rich to wear on their way to dispensing with compassion altogether. No art should be less than outrageously itself! A new work of art that offends no one, neither surprises, frightens, mystifies nor startles, is not a new work at all, but a clone of the past.
Please don't get me wrong. I hope you get rave reviews. I hope you receive every award and accolade there is. And I wish you fame and I hope you get very rich. All of you, I really do. I think you can make the world so much better, I know it. Most of all what I want for you ... is hope itself. Which requires either courage or tremendous foolishness or frivolity or indifference and god knows there is nothing wrong with these, especially if they help you to create.
I do think I should bring up just a couple of things your teachers probably didn't dwell on, if only because I don't believe I was asked here to simply sprout bromides while predicting rosy outcomes, or they would have asked the White House Press Secretary.
In getting all the things you want and deserve, these are the things I have seen prove problematic:
Getting rich and famous.
If you're lucky enough to be published, give a concert, dance, see your paintings hung in galleries, have a play produced, you are going to be criticized.
This criticism is not generally the kind you got here. Here, they wanted you to get better. There, very often, they want you to go away. You challenge them. Hopefully they haven't before seen what you do. What if they look foolish for liking it? They very well may envy you, even hate you. You're getting to do what they wanted very much to do and can't. Or aren't brave enough to do.
Just remember: your success is only news once. After that, the only possible news flash, is that you're not what you're cracked up to be or your new work isn't as good as the old. Eventually, if you keep at it, they will rediscover your brilliance, thereby giving themselves another chance to draw attention to their own brilliance of perception.
Some artists do escape this. They're geniuses, they came at a moment when to belittle them would reflect badly on the critic; either way, I hope it happens for you, it won't be within your power to decide, but such good fortune does come to some, and may you all beat the odds.
If you don't, you might try listening to what people criticize you for. Cocteau said it's who you are. Marlon Brando's mumbling. Philip Glass's triplets and basic harmonics. Anne Sexton's solipsism. Mamet's vulgarity. Twyla Tharps eccentric toss of limbs.
By the way, if any of you do become a critic, please remember that your first task is to give your readers an experience of what it was like to be there. You were privileged. You got to see it. If it becomes too burdensome for you to go out and see things for free that other people have to pay for, try to locate some gratitude for all the responsibility you have been accorded.
Who can tell me what play won the Pulitzer Prize Drama the year of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" None. It was decided there were no worthy plays that year. What won the Pulitzer for Drama the year before? "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."
Clearly, many great and deserving writers have received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Nonetheless, here are some who never won, all of whom died after the Prize was instituted:
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Who are some of the greats who took their place?
Pearl S. Buck.
The Moral: only time will decide. Since you may already be dead then, make the art you want to make.
A sidenote: The only people who should be allowed to care, really care, about your awards and raves, besides your agent, manager, accountant and, of course, audiences, are your mom ... and potential dates. If you cling to any of what is said about you -- good or bad -- you're dead. Those are the ones you see on E! stumbling in and out of limousines, showing off their pooter.
Beware of Making it. Obviously this danger hovers more ominously over some than it does others. Poets, ballet dancers, oboists, arts administrators teachers and historians, even playwrights - our dreams of money and fame ought not extend much beyond, say, the Parent Teachers Association and, hopefully, a pretty good 401K. Pop music, movies and TV, the sky's the limit.
Art critic Clement Greenberg was instrumental in making Jackson Pollock rich (but please note, being rich did not make Pollock entirely happy, it would appear at least to have figured in making him dead.) Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Schnabel-critics helped make these men very rich. And good for them; if it hasn't killed them, we applaud them.
The commercial prospects, however, for a handful of inimitable geniuses and/or those lucky enough to find international critical adoration should not serve as guidelines for anyone outside the psyche ward. The commercial prospects today for artists in America is, let's say, interesting and complicated. But is it any worse than it was sixty/seventy years ago when O'Neill, , DeKooning and Martha Graham were making new work?
Here's Brecht from 1941. He's in Hollywood speaking to a fellow émigré who has become rich and famous, about his, Brecht's, new play, Galileo, one of the few unquestioned masterpieces of 20th century drama:
-and it is as if I were remembering a strange sunken theater in ancient times on a submerged continent. here [in America] all they are concerned about is selling an evening's entertainment. the buyer is the boss, hard to please, suspicious, blasé or plagued by strange wishes, always ready to shoo away sellers like bothersome flies. whole hierarchies of experts and agents have forced their way between seller" - he means artist - "and buyer" - audience - "claiming to know the needs and wishes of the buyers; in this way the sellers never get through to the buyers, who in turn never meet the sellers face to face. all they are actually introduced to are the goods, crippled, mutilated objects of suspicion and eulogy, tailored to fit a body that never put in an appearance. every act of selling thus becomes a defeat, either for the buyer or for the seller, depending on whether a sale is made or not. for an author to succeed, his public must fail. the idea that matters of concern to the nation might be treated on the stage is utterly fanciful, since nothing of the kind happens anywhere else in the entertainment business.
I don't know, I find this comforting. It was ever thus in the land of Opportunity. It either makes money or it ain't. But wait, you say! What about the symphonies, ballet companies, schools that are going to hire me?
It is now time for you to turn to your graduating colleagues in arts administration, history and teaching and beg them, on your hands and knees, to protect you. It is up to them to create audiences that will support what we do. If they don't demand that their audiences open their eyes and greet the new, demand funding, fight zoning laws, parking laws, tax schemes, real estate scams, your new ballet, concerto, play, sculpture may well find its audience in single digits in your friend's father's garage in Burlington. There is no one in this room you need more than the teacher, manager, historian, theoretician. So check to see if they're wearing a ring on this finger.
Okay, my last downer-arguably the most catastrophic threat to your art, never mind you:
Here's some Tennessee Williams -- to balance out Brecht's European butch bravado with some sweet-tongued, homegrown homo-wisdom:
Security is a kind of death, I think, and it can come to you in a storm of royalty checks beside a kidney-shaped pool in Beverly Hills or anywhere at all that is removed from the conditions that made you an artist, if that's what you are or were or intended to be." [...] "The sight of an ancient woman, gasping and wheezing as she drags a heavy pail of water down a hotel corridor to mop up the mess of some drunken overprivileged guest, is one that sickens and weighs upon the heart and withers it with shame for this world in which it is not only tolerated but regarded as proof positive that the wheels of Democracy are functioning as they should without interference from above or below. Nobody should have to clean up anybody else's mess in this world.
Did anyone see American Idol Wednesday night (okay, I watched, so what?!?!?) And, small tangent: I'd like to see just one of those melismatic tweens try their hand at Visi D'Arte. Anyway, the commercial where the final three contestants were shown in their new imaginary mansions, with chauffeurs and uniformed butlers and vast beachfront property, every last detail of their existence being taken care of by someone else? Not one mention of, say, excellence in music or making other people joyous, improving lives, being good at something. No, the point of it all: WEALTH! The most important thing is being able to hire people to wipe your ass!
You don't want it to be easy. You think you do, but you don't.
I promise. Deep down most artists I know know full well that art and artists are born in trauma. Painful, scary things kick our innate talents into gear, otherwise why would we ever put up with all the mishegas and bullshit and naysaying. We have to express these things, no matter how, no matter what: that loneliness and injustice and untrammeled sense of ourselves! I was here, goddamit! Listen up! Look!
Take away that mote in your eye, the tears dry up, and what will you sing about? How hard it is to be rich?
I absolutely refuse to believe that you and parents sacrificed so much to send you here to this incredibly expensive place, which you so desperately hoped would do justice to your talent, god please prove that I have enough of it, so you could then completely jettison the idea of sacrifice and justice when you got out?
Do we really need another prominent American to stand before the world and say that the sacrifice they made in a ghastly war was to give up golf? That's the kind of entitlement and greed that comes with too much privilege. (And what even is that? Have you ever known anyone in your entire life who was so clueless they would say something like that even if they were alone in a some desert gas station toilet stall in the middle of the Yucatan?)
By all means, earn accolades, find fame and fortune, and when the world falls at your feet, just don't let them tell you what to do next. Just don't let them make you do the same new thing over and over. The world is full of artists who literally painted themselves into a corner. No one should have to write the same play twice.
Learn that most magical of words, the one that will open the most doors, command the most respect, and free you from the tyrant within and without:
If all we do as artists is make people feel, that alone can subvert some of the cynicism and indifference being peddled.
By feel, I don't mean that warm glow audiences get when they're told how smart they are and everything is fine just as it is; that warmth is nothing more than the fever accompanying the disease that is killing them. That's called pandering and people will pay an awful lot for that; and so will you. You really can ask more of yourself and your audience.
That's the hope I want for you.
We began, as artists, tens of thousands of years ago, by putting our hands to the walls of the caves and leaving a handprint: "I was here! This is what it was like! These arrows, these animals, this blood."
That is still our job.
David Lynch puts a fan's panties in his mouth.
How Theater Failed America: Review on TheaterMania.com:
Mike Daisey admits that How Theater Failed America, his new solo performance which has moved from Joe's Pub to a limited engagement at the Barrow Street Theater, has a terrible title. In fact, he spends the first few minutes of the show hilariously deconstructing it, speculating on what an audience might hope for or expect. This proves to be the perfect set-up for the monologist's engaging, witty, and impassioned critique of what's wrong with the way theater is currently being done -- and who is responsible.
Slashdot | Microsoft Acknowledges NBC's Wish is Its Command:
Responding to questions about why some users of Windows Vista Media Center were prevented from recording the NBC Universal TV shows 'American Gladiator' and 'Medium,' Microsoft has acknowledged that Windows Media Centers will block users from recording TV shows at the request of a broadcaster. 'Microsoft included technologies in Windows based on rules set forth by the (Federal Communications Commission),' wrote a Microsoft spokeswoman, apparently referring to an FCC proposal that the courts struck down in 2005. 'Microsoft has put the requirements of broadcasters above what consumers want,' said the EFF's Danny O'Brien. 'They've imposed restrictions way beyond what the law requires. Customers need to know who Microsoft is listening to and how that affects their equipment. Right now, the only way customers know what Microsoft has agreed to is when the technology they've bought suddenly stops working. Microsoft needs to come clean and tell its customers what deals it has made.'"
The Story of the Father
This is another story that I often think about:
the story of the father
after the funeral of his son the suicide,
going home and burning all the photographs of that dead boy;
standing next to the backyard barbecue,
feeding the pictures to the fire; watching the pale smoke
rise and disappear into the humid Mississippi sky.
Aware that he is standing at the edge of some great border,
ignorant that he is hogging all the pain.
How quiet the suburbs are in the middle of an afternoon
*****************when a man is destroying evidence,
breathing in the chemistry of burning Polaroids,
watching the trees over the rickety fence
****************seem to lift and nod in recognition.
Later, he will be surprised
**************by the anger of his family:
the wife hiding her face in her hands,
**************the daughter calling him names
—but for now, he is certain of his act; now
he is like a man destroying a religion,
or hacking at the root of a tree—
*Over and over I have arrived here just in time
to watch the father use a rusty piece of wire
to nudge the last photo of the boy
************into the orange part of the flame:
the face going brown, the memory undeveloping.
It is not the misbegotten logic of the father;
it is not the pity of the snuffed-out youth;
It is the old intelligence of pain
********************that I admire:
how it moves around inside of him like smoke;
how it knows exactly what to do with human beings
to stay inside of them forever.
$1 Billion Later, Subway Elevators Still Fail - New York Times:
¶Two-thirds of the subway elevators — many of which travel all of 15 feet — had at least one breakdown last year in which passengers were trapped inside.
Slashdot | Shopping Centers Track Customers Via Cell Phone Signals:
"According an article from the Times, customers in shopping centers are having their every move tracked. Using cellphone signals, the system can tell when people enter the center, how long they stay in a particular shop, and what route each customer takes. The system works by monitoring the signals produced by mobile handsets and then locating the phone by triangulation."
HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA reopened last night at the Barrow Street Theatre--we had a fantastic time, and a lovely party that featured THREE KINDS OF CHEESE, little American flags--Two Step Productions and the Barrow Street really outdid themselves theming the party.
Tonight is the first of the six roundtables we're going to be having on the state of theater in America.
DOWNTOWN, MIDTOWN, EVERYTOWN
Gideon Lester (Acting Artistic Director, American Repertory Theatre)
Jim Simpson (Artistic Director, The Flea Theater
Jonathan West (Milwaukee based actor and blogger)
Emily Ackerman (Actor and ensemble member of The Civilians)
Leonard Jacobs (National editor for Back Stage)
Sheila Callaghan (Playwright, DEAD CITY, member of 13P)
Come on down and check it out--the roundtable begins following the 7pm performance.
The Story of Obama, Written by Obama - New York Times:
The story of Mr. Obama’s life as an author tells as much about him as some of the stories he has recounted in his books. It possesses at times the same charmed quality sometimes ascribed to his political ascent — an impression of ease, if not exactly effortlessness, that obscures a more complex amalgam of drive, ambition, timing and the ability to recognize an opportunity and to do what it takes to seize it.
USATODAY.com - Woman paid thousands to rent rotary phone:
A widow rented a rotary dial telephone for 42 years, paying what her family calculates as thousands of dollars for a now outdated phone.
Ester Strogen, 82, of Canton, first leased two black rotary phones — the kind whose round dial is moved manually with your finger — in the 1960s. Back then, the technology was new and most people had to rent telephones as part of their basic phone service. It was pre-AT&T when the telephone business was monopolized by the company known as "Ma Bell."
It's bright and fabulous outside, and inside as well...I feel incredibly lucky and rare and happy today. Last night's preview went very well, and the Barrow Street is a fantastic theater to perform in—perhaps my favorite house in New York City. It's warm and resonant and the audience was great.
Even more than that, the company is great—everyone has been a marvelous combination of professional and hilarious, warm and passionately engaged in making certain everything looks perfect. They're very, very good people.
I'll see you on the other side. I'll be the one with the gin and tonic.
'Bright Shiny Morning' by James Frey - Los Angeles Times:
"Bright Shiny Morning" is a terrible book. One of the worst I've ever read. But you have to give James Frey credit for one thing: He's got chutzpah. Two and a half years after he was eviscerated by Oprah Winfrey for exaggerating many of the incidents in his now-discredited memoir "A Million Little Pieces," he's back with this book, which aims to be the big novel about Los Angeles, a panoramic look at the city that seeks to tell us who we are and how we live.
Clearly, HarperCollins, Frey's publisher, expects a lot from this book; it reportedly paid a million and a half dollars for it. You can interpret that in a few ways: as a shrewd business decision (as of this writing, the novel is No. 52 at Amazon.com) or as yet another symbol of a book industry in crisis, with publishers grasping at whatever straws they can to manufacture buzz.
Ultimately, though, it is still what's on the page that matters, and "Bright Shiny Morning" is an execrable novel, a literary train wreck without even the good grace to be entertaining.
Bush's blundering brand of "diplomacy.":
Later in the day, the Saudi oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, twisted the knife a few notches further by saying, at a press conference, that his government had already increased production by 20 percent—then added that this move was in response to requests from some 50 customers all over the world, not just from Bush. (In other words, he went out of his way to avoid giving even the impression of doing the United States a favor.)
The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, took another poke at Bush. "The president showed great concern for the impact on the American economy," the prince told the press corps. "We of course sympathize with that." Period. The end.
So humiliating—and after the White House press secretary, Dana Perino, had alerted reporters on Air Force One that the president would be asking for just such a favor. "Clearly, the price of gas is too high for Americans, and it is causing a hardship for families with low income," Perino said. "We do count on the OPEC countries to keep adequate supplies out there, so the president will talk with the king about that."
What is going on? It's bizarre that Bush should expect the Saudis to sacrifice their economic interests for the sake of doing him a favor. It is no less odd that Bush, through Perino, would publicly announce his plea in advance, thus setting himself up for humiliation. Finally, on a point that goes beyond political blundering to national policy, it is damningly revealing for Perino to say that we "count on the OPEC countries" to maintain adequate oil supplies. Maybe, in the name of sovereignty and for the sake of our vital interests, Bush should be taking the initiative, doing something on his own to bring oil prices down—for instance, devising a national energy policy that offers incentives, or sets mandates, to reduce demand.
The Film Festival: A Theater Festival:
a TK Film from Best Ten Dollar Suit Pictures
Written and Directed by Lawrence Krauser
Designed and Edited by Larissa Tokmakova
Starring Mike Daisey, T. Ryder Smith, and Paul Willis
Mr. and Mrs. Child (T. Ryder Smith & Mike Daisey) live in perpetual enmity with their only mistake: Horrible Child (Paul Willis). Their world is a bodyless echo-chamber of memory and hostility, honed into baroque linguistic ritual. Mother and father have a dream: that one day The Exterminator will arrive to cap H.C. and set them free. A visually minimal, sonically lush, perversely comic talk-opera catalog of human dysfunction from Lawrence Krauser and Larissa Tokmakova.
Q&A WITH DIRECTOR AND CAST TO FOLLOW!
Wed, June 11 at 7pm
Declarations - WSJ.com:
They are also – Hill leaders, lobbyists, party speakers – successful, well-connected, busy and rich. They never guessed, back in '86, how government would pay off! They didn't know they'd stay! They came to make a difference and wound up with their butts in the butter. But affluence detaches, and in time skews thinking. It gives you the illusion you're safe, and that everyone else is. A party can lose its gut this way.
Many are ambivalent, deep inside, about the decisions made the past seven years in the White House. But they've publicly supported it so long they think they . . . support it. They get confused. Late at night they toss and turn in the antique mahogany sleigh bed in the carpeted house in McLean and try to remember what it is they really do think, and what those thoughts imply.
And those are the bright ones. The rest are in Perpetual 1980: We have the country, the troops will rally in the fall.
"This was a real wakeup call for us," someone named Robert M. Duncan, who is chairman of the Republican National Committee, told the New York Times. This was after Mississippi. "We can't let the Democrats take our issues." And those issues would be? "We can't let them pretend to be conservatives," he continued. Why not? Republicans pretend to be conservative every day.
The Advocate (CUNY Graduate Center):
Mike Daisey’s new monologue, How Theater Failed America, which runs at Joe’s Pub through May 11 and then moves to the Barrow Street Theatre for a six-week engagement, focuses not on the collapse of theatre’s physical infrastructure but on that of its ability to attract an audience, and the quality, daring, and relevance of the work produced.
The strongest segments of the piece are centered around the rise of gleaming new theatre buildings around the country and how these structures coincide with the collapse of regional theatre’s ostensible mission and purpose which was, as Daisey puts it
to establish theaters around the country to house repertory companies of artists, giving them job security, an honorable wage, and health insurance. In return, the theaters would receive the continuity of their work year after year — the building blocks of community. The regional theater movement tried to create great work and make a vibrant American theater tradition flourish.
But, Daisey continues, “The dream is dead.”
What has replaced this vision of community-building and community-derived theatre? A series of gleaming new buildings that stand empty most of the time, monuments to their own continued existence rather than to the work they will produce. The cost of the buildings reinforces the already prominent strategy of choosing plays not to build a new generation of theatre-goers but to timidly try to appease the dwindling audience we already have. Actors and directors are flown in for individual shows and then move on to other theatres around the country. Good work results not infrequently but successful shows are a triumph over the system rather than the result of it.
Theater Listings - New York Times:
★ ‘HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA’ Mike Daisey is a remarkable performer. His new monologue, supposedly about the failure of regional theater, is actually the touching and at times hilarious story of how he fell in love with theater, and of his professional misadventures (1:00).Barrow Street Theater, 27 Barrow Street at Seventh Avenue South, (212) 239-6200. (Caryn James)
Tomorrow Museum » Archive » Our Past is Haiti’s Present: An Interview with “Secondhand ‘Pepe’” filmmakers Hanna Rose Shell and Vanessa Bertozzi:
Today, anyone in the Miami, NYC, and Boston areas — cities with large Haitian immigrant populations — is likely to run into someone at a flea market or thrift store collecting goods to take home to Port-au-Prince. Secondhand (Pepe) (clip) is a short documentary showing this remarkable trade in goods, as it explains the history of secondhand clothing in our country. Filmmakers Hanna Rose Shell, a Ph.D. in the History of Science at Harvard, and Vanessa Bertozzi, a graduate of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program, who now works at Etsy, were curious about the tradition of secondhand clothing. From 2003 - 2007 they visited ragyards in Miami, went through archives in London and Washington DC, and traveled to Haiti to see the pepe markets for themselves.
flyer.jpg Shell says Haitians sometimes dress better than Americans because they are used to tailoring their secondhand clothes to fit. While the pepe market makes it difficult for Haitian tailors to sell their own designs or traditional fashions; the cheap cost means, as one woman in the documentary explains, they can “adopt the look that is on television without much effort.” Shell describes the country in an essay in Transition as completely absent of traditional retail, “interiors lie vacant, transformed into makeshift dwellings or pepe depots. Chain stores and standard clothing outlets dot only the poshest streets of Petionville. Whereas McDonalds, Walmart, and American banks have invaded other Caribbean and Latin American countries, Haiti operates at the level of the individual seller and transaction.”
No Joke: Youth Killed By a Helicopter While Getting His Mail Sparks Debate About Headphone Safety:
A 23 year old Canadian college student was killed when a crashing helicopter struck and dragged him as he was walking to his mailbox. Apparently eyewitnesses noticed that the youth was completely unaware of his impending doom and a friend told reporters that he often listened to music through earbuds underneath the hood of his sweatshirt. Naturally, reaction was swift. If he had not been listening to music perhaps he could have nimbly sidestepped the helicopter and gone about his business as if nothing had happened. After all, this sort of crap happens everyday right?
While I completely agree that listening to music too loudly can inhibit your ability to recognize and react to a potentially dangerous situation around you, I can't help but find it completely baffling that this story sparked a debate about the dangers of headphone use while completely glossing over the fact that this dude was hit by a HELICOPTER. In fact, no concrete evidence was given that he was even wearing headphones at the time.
NBC-Vista copy-protection snafu reminds us why DRM stinks:
It seems the flag only triggered copy protection measures in Vista, as one of our staffers with a DirecTV HD DVR recorded Gladiators as usual, and a TiVo spokesperson told CNet that the company had not received any complaints. Spokespersons from Microsoft and NBC also told CNet that the issue was being looked into, indicating that the broadcast flag was likely switched on by accident.
The serves as a unsettling reminder that broadcasters can give instructions to the software built into DVRs, although they almost never do. Many DVRs and other, similar devices appear to be aware of the content-restriction flags set by broadcasters, even if they're not programmed to "obey" them by default. Still, broadcasters would love to have the power to stop users from recording their shows, watching them later, and most importantly, skipping commercials when they do it.
Remember: DRM isn't about fighting piracy. It's about the ability to strictly control how we consume content. Users who are interested in pirating TV shows and movies aren't going to do so with a DVR or buy them through PPV. They've already skipped the middle-man and gone straight to BitTorrent with its decent-quality, commercial-less, and DRM-free offerings. Boneheaded mistakes like the one apparently made by NBC and Microsoft Monday night will only serve to make alternative means of obtaining content more attractive.
As part of the reopening of HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA at the Barrow Street Theatre we're hosting a series of roundtable discussions after select performances on the state of theater in America. These feature luminaries like Robert Brustein, Rocco Landesman, Gregory Mosher, Oskar Eustis, James Bundy and more in direct conversation with working actors, do-it-yourself producers, arts funders, theatrical bloggers, and you...the schedule is below, and I hope you'll come and be part of the conversation.
HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA ROUNDTABLES
DOWNTOWN, MIDTOWN, EVERYTOWN
Sun May 18th:
Robert Brustein (founder of Yale Repertory Theatre and American Repertory Theatre)
Jonathan West (Milwaukee-based actor and blogger)
Emily Ackerman (actor and ensemble member of The Civilians)
Leonard Jacobs (national editor for Back Stage)
Sheila Callaghan (playwright, Dead City)
DO-IT-YOURSELF OR BUST
Sat May 24th:
Greg Kotis (playwright, Urinetown)
Jason Eagan (Artistic Director, Ars Nova)
Erez Ziv (Managing Director, Horse Trade Theater)
John Clancy (founder of the New York International Fringe Festival)
Scott Shepherd (The Wooster Group)
Lisa Kron (actor, solo performer and playwright, Well)
YOU ARE WHAT YOU WATCH
Sun June 1st:
Jim Nicola (Artistic Director for New York Theatre Workshop)
Mark Russell (founder of PS122 and the Under The Radar Festival)
Steve Bodow (head writer of the Daily Show and Elevator Repair Service member)
Morgan Jenness (literary agent, former literary manager of the Public Theater)
David Cote (theatre editor for Time Out New York)
Isaac Butler (Freelance director and theatre blogger)
FOR PROFIT, NON-PROFIT, NO PROFIT
Sun June 8th:
James Bundy (dean, Yale School of Drama; Artistic Director, Yale Repertory Theatre)
Dan Fields (Disney Imagineer and freelance director)
Stephanie Weisman (founder and director of The Marsh in San Francisco)
Dave Greenham (executive director, The Theatre at Monmouth)
Tommy Thompson (veteran Broadway production stage manager)
Diane Ragsdale (Mellon Foundation)
Sun June 15th:
John Collins (Artistic Director of Elevator Repair Service, The Sound and the Fury)
Tanya Selvararnam (collaborator with Jay Scheib and The Builder's Association)
Colleen Werthmann (actor and Elevator Repair Service ensemble member)
Heidi Schreck (collaborator with 2-Headed Calf, Seattle's Printer's Devil)
Scott Walters (former Artistic Director of Illinois Shakespeare Festival and blogger)
Hal Brooks (freelance director, Thom Paine and No Child…)
THEATER IN 2033
Sun June 22nd:
Rocco Landesman (Tony-award winning producer, Angels in America, The Producers)
Gregory Mosher (Tony-award winning director, former head of Lincoln Center)
Oskar Eustis (Artistic Director of the Public Theater)
Richard Nelson (playwright, Conversations in Tusculum)
Paige Evans (director, Lincoln Center's new LCT3 program)
Garrett Eisler (Village Voice theater critic and blogger)
Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth: Almost Arrested for Taking Photos at Union Station:
Throughout the conversation, which I should point out was conducted in a cordial, but firm tone, we received mixed messages from the security guards. One told us the problem was that we were using a tripod, while another insisted it was because we had "that thing" on top of our tripod. They then changed the story again, and said that journalists couldn't take pictures without permission from management, and that Union Station is a private space run by a private company, not a public space. They never gave us an answer as to why we were first allowed to take photos in the first location, but could not do the same here.
London supermarket secretly photographs alcohol/cigarette buyers, wants national database - Boing Boing:
Budgens, a London supermarket chain, secretly records biometric facial photos of people who buy cigarettes and alcohol and compares it to a database of known underage buyers, and they're hoping to link their database with other grocery chains around the country. This means that just bringing a bottle up to the till means that your likeness and details will be added to a nationwide database, recording your movements and purchasing habits.
They'll probably be forced to drop the "secrecy" bit in the end, but that will not bring an end to the practice. Instead, they'll just put a sign up next to the till saying, "By buying alcohol here, you agree that we can violate your privacy and share your information with anyone we feel like." After all, that's what they do with the CCTV signs in London already.
You don't create a culture - (37signals):
From time to time during conference Q&A sessions I’m asked “How did you create the culture at 37signals?” or “What do you recommend we do to set up an open, sharing company culture like yours?”
My answer: You don’t create a culture. Culture happens. It’s the by-product of consistent behavior. If you encourage people to share, and you give them the freedom to share, then sharing will be built into your culture. If you reward trust then trust will be built into your culture.
Artificial cultures are instant. They’re big bangs made of mission statements, declarations, and rules. They are obvious, ugly, and plastic. Artificial culture is paint.
greg.org: the making of: Bloghdad.com: Now Watch This Drive:
"I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch this drive." was made on a tee in Kennebunkport on Aug. 4, 2002. ["Before Golf, Bush Decries Latest Deaths In Mideast"]
The Neural Buddhists - New York Times:
Over the past several years, the momentum has shifted away from hard-core materialism. The brain seems less like a cold machine. It does not operate like a computer. Instead, meaning, belief and consciousness seem to emerge mysteriously from idiosyncratic networks of neural firings. Those squishy things called emotions play a gigantic role in all forms of thinking. Love is vital to brain development.
Researchers now spend a lot of time trying to understand universal moral intuitions. Genes are not merely selfish, it appears. Instead, people seem to have deep instincts for fairness, empathy and attachment.
Scientists have more respect for elevated spiritual states. Andrew Newberg of the University of Pennsylvania has shown that transcendent experiences can actually be identified and measured in the brain (people experience a decrease in activity in the parietal lobe, which orients us in space). The mind seems to have the ability to transcend itself and merge with a larger presence that feels more real.
This new wave of research will not seep into the public realm in the form of militant atheism. Instead it will lead to what you might call neural Buddhism.
Robert Rauschenberg, Titan of American Art, Is Dead at 82 - New York Times:
Cage meant that people had come to see, through Mr. Rauschenberg’s efforts, not just that anything, including junk on the street, could be the stuff of art (this wasn’t itself new), but that it could be the stuff of an art aspiring to be beautiful — that there was a potential poetics even in consumer glut, which Mr. Rauschenberg celebrated. “I really feel sorry for people who think things like soap dishes or mirrors or Coke bottles are ugly,” he once said, “because they’re surrounded by things like that all day long, and it must make them miserable.”
The remark reflected the optimism and generosity of spirit that Mr. Rauschenberg became known for. His work was likened to a Saint Bernard: uninhibited and mostly good-natured. He could be the same way in person. When he became rich, he gave millions of dollars to charities for women, children, medical research, other artists and Democratic politicians.
A brash, garrulous, hard-drinking, open-faced Southerner, he had a charm and peculiar Delphic felicity with language that nevertheless masked a complex personality and an equally multilayered emotional approach to art, which evolved as his stature did. Having begun by making quirky small-scale assemblages out of junk he found on the street in downtown Manhattan, he spent increasing time in his later years, after he had become successful and famous, on vast international, ambassadorial-like projects and collaborations.
Feds to Collect Millions of DNA Profiles Yearly, Stay Out if You Can | Threat Level from Wired.com:
The feds will soon be collecting about one million DNA samples a year under a new program that lets federal agents collect cheek swabs from citizens merely arrested for any federal crime or from any non-citizen detained by federal agents -- including visitors to the country who have visas.
The intent is build a massive database of DNA samples (.pdf) that police can use to catch rapists and murderers, but even the innocent should fear being in the database, due to the vagaries of how cold case DNA searches can easily pinpoint an innocent person.
How to spot Photoshop chicanery:
After a New Yorker profile implied that "king of the photo touchup" Pascal Dangin had airbrushed photos taken by Annie Leibovitz for Dove's high-profile "Campaign for Real Beauty," the company issued a statement last Friday explaining that Dangin had only removed dust and performed minor color corrections. Is it possible to determine whether the Dove photos were retouched?
Maybe, but it would be very difficult. Amateur retouching can leave seams where two different images are spliced together. But in the case of an expert retoucher like Dangin, visible signs would have been diligently scrubbed away. Additionally, since images can be distorted when they are compressed into other file formats (PDF) or printed in a magazine, any apparent smudges or irregularities in one of the Dove photos might well be artifacts of the photo's reproduction, rather than signs of tampering.
Microsoft tries to put a ceiling on ultra-low-cost PC power - Boing Boing:
Microsoft is aggressively pushing a new low-cost version of its operating system intended for use with "ultra low cost PCs," competing with Linux on machines like the Eee and the One Laptop Per Child XO. However, Microsoft isn't willing to sell the low-cost license to any ULPC -- rather, the company has set out onerous conditions governing the maximum spec of these machines: 10.2" screens and no more than 80GB of storage, and no touch screens allowed.
Microsoft is trying to distort the market for cheap, tiny laptops by setting up artificial incentives to manufacturers to limit the power and capability of their lowest-cost units -- even if a vendor can figure out how to put more storage, a bigger screen, or a touchscreen into its machines, Microsoft doesn't want it there, and they'll punish any vendor that tries by refusing to license XP Home Edition on the same preferential terms that lower-spec machines get.
The key term here ls "Ultra Low Cost" -- note that this is not the same as "Ultra Low Spec. The primary market for these super-cheap machines are kids and poor people, and they'll be the collateral damage in Microsoft's crusade.
The Theatre: The Theatre: The New Yorker:
HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA
Mike Daisey brings his monologue about the current state of the American stage to the Barrow Street Theatre. Opens May 16. (27 Barrow St. 212-239-6200.)
The Fortress of Jason Grote: I'm back!:
I wonder if that's why I and others get so down on theater so often - it's impossible to reproduce that triumphant endorphin rush when one isn't at an opening night, so the whole thing feels ephemeral and a little depressing. I'm sure other artists feel this too, but instead of being left with a film, book, album, or whatever when it's all over, all I'll have left is the script and some reviews.
Lucky Grote--I don't even have the script. ;)
Seriously, there's something to this--it's extremely ephemeral, but so is life itself. It's the most difficult and honest part of the theater--that it is written on the air as it is spoken and immediately dies in that moment. I do believe that in an age dominated by commodification it is also the trait that may prove to be theater's salvation.
Theater - Summer Stages - New York Times:
CAPITAL FRINGE FESTIVAL July 10-27. More than 100 performing groups will take over the capital in this third annual festival that offers drama, comedy, improvisation, clowning, dance, mime and more in about two dozen performance spaces. One highlight: the monologist Mike Daisey will skewer the Department of Homeland Security in “If You See Something Say Something” (July 11-20) at the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company, one of the participating theaters. (866) 811-4111, capfringe.org.
How to answer the people who think you’re nuts? « FreeRangeKids:
I quote crime stats that show a child is 40 times more likely to die in a car accident than by being abducted. I appeal to common sense. I remind people that a couple of generations back, a 9-year-old probably would have had a part-time job. And then I ask the interviewer, “Didn’t you get to run around and do things by yourself when you were a kid?”
“Sure!” comes the answer, but “times have changed.” Once they get that out of the way, they go in for the kill: “How would you have felt if something DID happen to your son?”
So much for my years of media training.
What I really want to say is: “Terrible! Earth-shaken! I’d be cursing God — and especially the radio hosts who asked Him to zap my son just to teach me a lesson! But, Mr. Fulminator, sir, don’t you see there’s something sick about immediately and endlessly envisioning the very worst? Isn’t that the very definition of paranoia? And isn’t it wrong to teach kids that they are incapable of taking care of themselves, that they can’t trust their community, and that it is better for them to live a virtual life inside, where life is programmed, than a real life, outside, where they can glory in the wonders of the world? Are you ever going to let your kid GROW UP?”
That’s what I’d like to be able to get out, but it sounds a little hysterial and it’s not exactly pithy. So if you have any amazing zingers that really seem to open people’s eyes (or shut their mouths), we are all eager to hear them.
Survive a Nuclear Blast - Wired How-To Wiki:
In a traditional nuclear exchange warning times might be as little as three to four minutes (for the UK and Europe) or from 15-30 minutes for the U.S. and Canada.
Air raid sirens (if they still exist in your community) and public emergency systems would be put to use to notify you of an impending attack. Do not ignore these! Even if you feel your community may not be at risk in a nuclear exchange you should still find shelter as only the enemy knows all of the targets that will be hit.
In a large scale nuclear exchange the tactic of using an electro-magnetic pulse from a high-yield nuclear weapon detonated high above a target country or area would most likely be used. This would cause all sorts of electronic devices to fail from cell phones to automobiles.
If you notice that all vehicles and electronics in your immediate area have failed all at once then it is almost a sure sign that a nuclear attack is imminent.
On the other hand, nuclear attack from a terrorist might come with little to no warning, in which case you must know what to do immediately.
In either case the following steps do apply.
Tonight's the final night of the run of HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA at the Public. I'm excited, but not the way I imagined I would be back in December when this began to come together. I anticipated that this would be a charged conversation, and I hoped it would be successful, but I didn't imagine that we'd sell out every performance--with people lining up outside with SIGNS to get tickets--and be arranging an immediate Off-Broadway transfer to the Barrow Street. I like to think big, but the success of this show has broken through any expectations I could have had, both professional and emotional.
I'd like to thank the good people at the Public who've allowed this to happen: Mark Russell, who was inspired and crazy enough to let us do an untested piece for a night at Under The Radar in front of hundreds, Shanta Thake who believed in our work and helped arrange this run, Jo Lampert and Alex Onish, who have tirelessly worked beyond the call of duty on this show when the media was blowing up, Robbie Saenz de Viteri and Ruth Sternberg for their technical assistance and generosity, Maria Goyanes and Liz Frankel for the supportive advice and wise counsel, and finally Oskar Eustis, who gave his blessing for performing a piece that challenges the American theater within one of its finest institutions.
I'd also like to thank the staff at Joe's Pub, the servers and waiters and staff, who have been solicitous, kind, and incredibly skillful in the space during the performances—thank you for being so conscientious, it has made an immense difference.
To one and all, I hope that we work together again soon.
Crazy Frog - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Crazy Frog is an animated character used in the marketing of a ring tone based on The Annoying Thing, a computer animation created by Erik Wernquist. Marketed by the ringtone provider Jamba!, the animation was originally created to accompany a sound effect produced by Daniel Malmedahl while attempting to imitate the sound of a two-stroke moped engine. The Crazy Frog spawned a worldwide hit single with a remix of "Axel F", which reached the number one spot in the United Kingdom, Turkey, New Zealand, Australia and most of Europe. The subsequent album Crazy Frog Presents Crazy Hits and second single "Popcorn" also enjoyed worldwide chart success, and a second album entitled Crazy Frog Presents More Crazy Hits was released in 2006. The Crazy Frog has also spawned a range of merchandise and toys, and two video games.
'My daughter deserved to die for falling in love' | World news | The Observer:
For Abdel-Qader Ali there is only one regret: that he did not kill his daughter at birth. 'If I had realised then what she would become, I would have killed her the instant her mother delivered her,' he said with no trace of remorse.
Two weeks after The Observer revealed the shocking story of Rand Abdel-Qader, 17, murdered because of her infatuation with a British solider in Basra, southern Iraq, her father is defiant. Sitting in the front garden of his well-kept home in the city's Al-Fursi district, he remains a free man, despite having stamped on, suffocated and then stabbed his student daughter to death.
Abdel-Qader, 46, a government employee, was initially arrested but released after two hours. Astonishingly, he said, police congratulated him on what he had done. 'They are men and know what honour is,' he said.
For those who do not know, Andrew Cyr and I grew up together in Fort Kent, Maine, and were recently reunited after Andrew heard me on Studio 360. Performing with his Metropolis Ensemble was the best possible way for us to reconnect after almost twenty years, and I had a fantastic time. Below is a short sequence from the concert.
Sports et Divertissements - Tennis
Erik Satie's Sports et Divertissements (1914) arranged for chamber orchestra by David Bruce, performed on Thursday, April 10, 2008 at The Times Center in New York City. Featuring Mike Daisey (narrator), and the Metropolis Ensemble led by conductor Andrew Cyr. Video by Timothy Bakland; sound by Ryan Streber.
RIP Chicory - A Brooklyn Life:
Just taking a moment to mourn the neighborhood's best fried chicken, greens and various roasted veggies. Also, I'll miss the burger.
J.K. Rowling should lose her copyright lawsuit against the Harry Potter Lexicon. - By Tim Wu - Slate Magazine:
As sympathetic as I am to Rowling and her rights as an author, the answer is no. There is a necessary and healthy line between what the initial author owns and what follow-on, or "secondary," authors get to do, and Rowling is running over that line like the Hogwarts Express. The creators of H.P. Lexicon may not be as creative as Rowling, but they are authors, too, and deserve a little respect from the law.
At issue are the giant fan-written guides like the H.P. Lexicon or the Lostpedia (for the show Lost) that try to collect all known information on topics like Harry's pet owl or the Dharma Initiative. Rowling takes the position that she, as the original author, has the right to block the publication of any such guide. In her words: "However much an individual claims to love somebody else's work, it does not become theirs to sell."
But Rowling is overstepping her bounds. She has confused the adaptations of a work, which she does own, with discussion of her work, which she doesn't. Rowling owns both the original works themselves and any effort to adapt her book or characters to other media—films, computer games, and so on. Textually, the law gives her sway over any form in which her work may be "recast, transformed, or adapted." But she does not own discussion of her work—book reviews, literary criticism, or the fan guides that she's suing. The law has never allowed authors to exercise that much control over public discussion of their creations.
Aerialist at Martin's closing party.
Our Looming Housing Crisis | Slog | The Stranger | Seattle's Only Newspaper:
I was speaking with a friend this weekend about two couples who, like Myhrvold, worked in tech, got rich, retired, and built insanely elaborate mansions—excuse me, houses—in the area. Microsoft and Amazon and other tech companies, which are all located here for entirely arbitrary reasons (and could pick up and move tomorrow), created hundreds of millionaires and a quite few billionaires. My friend—who isn’t rich, but associates with richies—figures that two hundred or more these tech-money mansions—excuse me, “houses”—have been built over the last twenty years by tech millionaires with more money than taste.
Hey, it’s their money, and they can spend it however they like. God only knows what kind of monstrosity I’d build—or have built—if I had Myhrvold’s money. Probably something like this on top of Beacon Hill.
But here’s what I wonder: What is going to happen in twenty or thirty years when the tech booms millionaires start to die off? Who is going to buy all these sci-fi movie mansions with Mesozoic gardens? A lot of insanely elaborate, insanely expensive houses are going to come flooding onto the market all at once—places that cost tens of millions of dollars to build—and there’s no guarantee that our region will have the millionaires—billionaires—it’s going to take to buy up all these houses when they come up for sale in twenty or thirty years.
So who’s going to buy up all these houses in two or three decades? Who’s going to live in them?
Reality Sandwich | The Awakening of Teotiwakan: A Paradigm Shift to the Living Cosmos:
On March 21st 1968, when Regina turned twenty years old, she and the four Secret Guardians of the Tradition, went into the cave at the base of the pyramid and performed a ritual ceremony to awaken its heart, its energetic center. According to the Tradition, this center serves as a synchronous resonant chamber that amplifies earthly and cosmic energies. After the ceremony Regina explained to the Guardians of the Tradition that there remained four energetic seals on the pyramid.[U3]
These seals had been put in place by the Toltek and had the effect of inactivating the pyramid's geo-energetic resonant function. Regina and the Guardians knew that the spiritual energies of the Earth were once again moving polarities, from the Himalayas to the American Cordillera. It was the Tibetan Lamas who needed to perform the rituals necessary to break the first three energetic seals and only then she and the Secret Guardians could break the fourth seal, which sat at the top of the pyramid.
Mexican agents murdered Regina on the night of October 2nd 1968. She was shot from a helicopter during the infamous student massacre that took place in Tlatelolko. Regina died on top of the small pyramid at Tlatelolko surrounded by the four Secret Guardians of the Tradition and the Witness, Velasco Piña. The Guardians buried her body in a well-hidden cave in the Istaksiwatl.
Little Brother >> Blog Archive » HOWTO anonymize your digital photos:
If you take enough images with your digital camera, they can all be compared together and a unique signature can be determined. This means that even when you think that you are posting a photo anonymously to the internet, you are actually providing clues for the government to better tell who you are. The larger the sample size of images they have, the easier it is them to track down images coming from the same camera. Once they know all the images are coming from the same camera, all they then have to do is find that camera and take a picture to confirm it beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is important to remove this noise signature so that you cannot be tracked down. I cannot guarantee any of these methods will work beyond the shadow of a doubt because the woman doing research for the government on how to find the signature is very good. I can only promise that this will make their work more difficult.
It Isn't Easy Being a Genius - New York Times:
The foundation avoids using the term "genius," and stresses that the award (worth $500,000) is for creativity. Most people, however, play up the genius label. I got my first taste of this the morning the awards were announced. As I left home to get coffee, my neighbor leaned from his second-story window, still in his pajamas, and yelled: "Hey, Jimmy Neutron! I didn't know I was living next to a genius."
Within days, I began to receive requests from family, friends and strangers to evaluate various pet theories, some well founded, some half-baked, ranging from the therapeutic benefits of magnets to the location of the missing dark matter in the universe. People sought me out for answers and insights, usually prefacing their question with, "You're a genius":
"We just saw 'War of the Worlds': are there aliens out there?"
"What's the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?"
"Does it really take seven years to digest chewing gum?"
"How do you weigh someone's soul?"
MacNN | House passes Pro-IP copyright protection act:
The House of Representatives on Friday approved the controversial Pro-IP Act, a bill which is designed to protect intellectual property by imposing more rigid punishment in the case of copyright infringement. Ars Technica writes that the bill passed with a vote of 410 to 10, but has yet to be voted on by the Senate. Among the details of the bill, one segment states that law enforcement agents would be able to seize property from those charched with copyright infringement.
International ferry terrorism search called off: they were just tourists - Boing Boing:
Since last summer, the FBI has been on the lookout for two men who were seen taking a deep interest in a car-ferry in Seattle. The men were believed to be terrorists, plotting to blow up the ferry.
Actually, they were tourists who'd never seen a car ferry and thought it was cool.
Eric Haseltine (kottke.org):
Right at the end of the session, interviewer Jane Mayer asked Haseltine if perhaps the Bush administration is overreacting to terrorism...if the mindset that danger lurks everywhere is appropriate and realistic. He replied that since he got involved in the intelligence community, he doesn't sleep well at night. "I know too much."
Here's audio from my appearance on PRI's FAIR GAME yesterday—I was on a show with Goldfrapp and Jimmy Carter, which I mention because I was always under the impression that if those three things come together, the world ends.
A Midget Among Giants - Books - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
Seattle is home to the largest book retailer in the world. Amazon.com may have spread its catalog to engulf lawn mowers, potato chips, diapers, and—literally—kitchen sinks, but, as its recent push for the Kindle e-book reader has proven, the company still wants to retain a major presence in book sales. And Amazon is staying in Seattle for the foreseeable future: In December it signed a deal to move from its Beacon Hill headquarters to a brand-new six-block, 11-building campus in South Lake Union in 2010.
It'll be sad when Amazon isn't based out of the looming Pacific Medical Center building anymore. Its weird, sulky omnipresence mirrors the company's relations to Seattle. It's obviously there and recognizable, but it seems aloof, apart, like a kid who has taken his ball away from the other children on the schoolyard but still lingers on the edge, unable to fully extricate itself.
Most Seattle companies contribute a lot of money—a lot of money—to the Seattle arts scene. It's considered being a good neighbor. It's not mandatory, but it is, at the very least, polite, and it's a necessary kindness, because taxpayer funds to the arts are slim and most arts organizations wouldn't be able to operate without these giant windfalls from corporate philanthropy.
Amazon, which posted a $476 million profit last year, has refused to return repeated e-mails and calls from The Stranger about the company's seemingly nonexistent contributions to the Seattle arts scene. Internet searches for any sign of philanthropy on behalf of the company prove fruitless. Lists of donors for organizations like the Paramount Theatre, the Seattle Art Museum, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, and the Experience Music Project read like a who's who of local corporations: Every major bank is represented and even national chains with a significant local presence like Macy's are major contributors.
Amazon.com isn't on any of these lists.
Bill Henson at the Opera - Shoot The Blog:
What I was interested in terms of Paris Opera series was that whole strange business of finding oneself with a whole lot of other people gathered in a darkened space, such as the opera, awaiting some special event. There is something quite magical about it. I've always found that people sitting in the dark just waiting for something is the most haunting sort of experience. It seemed to me it was a common experience, a universal thing that everyone feels, really, at some point or another.
How Do They Take This From Him?:
There is no calculation that currently gives the Clintons a majority of the popular vote. There is now no mathematical possibility of them getting more delegates. Obama has won by far the most states. He has raised far more money; he has 1.5 million donors, mainly small sums. He has crushed her among new voters and young voters; and as a black politician, his support spans all races and classes. And recall: he is a freshman senator with a very funny name against the biggest brand name in American politics and a worldwide celebrity whose chief campaigner was a former two-term president of the United States.
iMac turns 10 - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW):
It was ten years ago today that Steve Jobs mounted the Flint Center auditorium near Apple's campus and revealed the product that would save Apple, and become the best selling computer of all time: the iMac. It is hard to believe that this cute little guy is ten years old, but it is true.
Gothamist: Slowed Atlantic Yards Project Could Mean Empty Lots:
The MAS renderings take as a starting point Ratner’s recent admission that the economic downturn will stall most of the proposed construction for the time being. But since he still intends to raze everything in the project’s footprint and break ground on the stadium and one building, the MAS slideshow envisions a desolate expanse of vacant lots surrounding a lonely arena for decades to come.
Yahoo stock plunges? (kottke.org):
On Jan 31, the day before Microsoft offered $31/share for Yahoo, YHOO was at $19.18/share (market cap: $26.4 billion) and MSFT was at $32.60/share (market cap: $303.6 billion). At the close of trading today, YHOO closed at $24.37/share (market cap: $33.5 billion) and MSFT was at $29.08/share (market cap: $270.8 billion). In other words, the Microsoft offer increased the value of Yahoo! Inc. by more than $7 billion and decreased the value of Microsoft Corporation by almost $33 billion. In still other words, in attempting to take Yahoo by force, they let an amount equal to Yahoo slip through their fingers. Why isn't anyone writing about Yahoo's amazing stock gains and Microsoft's plunge?
iPhone is most popular camera phone on Flickr - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW):
While we're on the subject, I'll offer my tip for taking decent iPhone photos. Unlike nearly every other camera ever made, the iPhone exposes an image when the "shutter button" is released, not depressed. With that in mind, here's the three step process I follow
1. Press and hold the "shutter button"
2. Compose the shot
The tendency is to compose the shot and then tap the button, often resulting in blur. Try this method and watch the results.
At the Soho Rep Anniversary Party
Clinton, Nixon; Nixon, Clinton | Democracy in America | Economist.com:
SIX days ahead of the North Carolina primary comes a story of real sleaze—not Jeremiah Wright-style buffoonery, but Nixon-style illegality designed to dupe and disenfranchise voters—that should surprise precisely nobody who has been following and covering this campaign. A group called Women's Voices Women's Vote (WVWV), which claims to have been "created to activate unmarried Americans in their government and in our democracy" has been placing robocalls to voters across North Carolina that seem designed to fool them into thinking they have not yet registered to vote. Many of the voters who received those calls are black. Voters in 11 states have complained about similarly deceptive calls and mailings that have been traced back to WVWV this primary season.
Guess which Democratic candidate WVWV's founder and president, Page Gardner, has donated $6,700 to (hint: it's not Barack Obama). Guess whose election campaign Joe Goode, WVWV's executive director, worked for (hint: it was in 1992, and it was a winning campaign). Guess whose chief of staff sits on WVWV's board of directors (hint: it was the president who served between two Bushes). And guess whose campaign manager was a member of WVWV's leadership team (hint: it's Hillary Clinton).
Theatre Ideas: Nicholas Martin Repeats the Theatre's Biggest Lie:
Of course, part of the problem is that someone like Martin, who is in a position to actually employ young actors, doesn't want to actually grow good actors, he just wants to pluck them ripe from the tree. They have to be "really, really good" before he'll touch them. It is the super market approach to theatre, where somebody else does the spade work for you. George Steinbrenner is the ultimate example of this in action -- don't develop players, just buy them after somebody else does the work.
Epstein: Basically, they're all parables. Endgame is a parable based on the simplest everyday lives that people lead. And since we are people, we lead these lives. And minute by minute, line by line, and some more than others, every single thing in the play is translucent. And you do understand it. You do recognize it. You do recognize what it means. And you do recognize yourself in it. Because it's presented as a parable, not as a piece of realistic theatre; it has a coating of mystery over it. But then, underneath this coating of mystery — the fact that it's not a realistic, kitchen-sink drama — is, actually, a kitchen sink. And it's usually pretty funny. I think the lines you have in the play, Elaine, where you say, "Nothing is as funny as unhappiness" — that's what the play is proving. It's funny to watch these people be unhappy, because they're unhappy in ways that we all recognize.
The deep contradictions of Christian popular culture:
At a Christian retail show Radosh attends, there are rip-off trinkets of every kind—a Christian version of My Little Pony and the mood ring and the boardwalk T-shirt ("Friends don't let friends go to hell"). There is Christian Harlequin and Christian chick lit and Bibleman, hero of spiritual warfare. There are Christian raves and Christian rappers and Christian techno, which is somehow more Christian even though there are no words. There are Christian comedians who put on a Christian version of Punk'd, called Prank 3:16. There are Christian sex-advice sites where you can read the biblical case for a strap-on dildo or bondage (liberation through submission). There's a Christian planetarium, telling you the true age of the universe, and my personal favorite—Christian professional wrestling, where, by the last round, "Outlaw" Todd Zane sees the beauty of salvation.
At some point, Radosh asks the obvious question: Didn't Jesus chase the money changers out of the temple? In other words, isn't there something wrong with so thoroughly commercializing all aspects of faith? For this, the Christian pop-culture industry has a ready answer. Evangelizing and commercializing have much in common. In the "spiritual marketplace" (as it's called), Christianity is a brand that seeks to dominate. Like Coke, it wants to hold onto its followers and also win over new converts. As with advertisers, the most important audience is young people and teenagers, who are generally brand loyalists. Hence, Bibleman and Christian rock are the spiritual equivalent of New Coke. Christian trinkets—a WWJD bracelet, a "God is my DJ" T-shirt—function more like Coca-Cola T-shirts or those cute stuffed polar bears. They telegraph to the community that the wearer is a proud Christian and that this is a cool thing to be—which should, in theory, invite eager curiosity.
Straightforward, if somewhat crude, merchandizing so far. But there is also another level of questions, which the creators of Christian culture have a much harder time answering: What does commercializing do to the substance of belief, and what does an infusion of belief do to the product? When you make loving Christ sound just like loving your boyfriend, you can do damage to both your faith and your ballad. That's true when you create a sanitized version of bands like Nirvana or artists like Jay-Z, too: You shoehorn a message that's essentially about obeying authority into a genre that's rebellious and nihilistic, and the result can be ugly, fake, or just limp.
Mukesh Ambani, the fifth rchest man in the world, is... (kottke.org):
Mukesh Ambani, the fifth rchest man in the world, is building the most expensive single family residence ever, a $2 billion -- yes, BILLION -- 27-story skyscraper in downtown Mumbai.
New York Times:
“How Theater Failed America,” Mike Daisey’s monologue, will move from a sold-out run at Joe’s Pub to a six-week engagement at the Barrow Street Theater. The final show at Joe’s Pub is on May 11; performances begin at the Barrow Street on May 16.
Cross-Theater Pollination of Off and Off Off Broadway - New York Times:
This spring the barrier between these two worlds seems to be becoming more porous, with forward-thinking Off Broadway companies increasingly acting like curators of the woolly Off Off Broadway scene, using their resources to bring attention to worthy work that might otherwise be limited to small audiences. These ad-hoc collaborations are healthy for everybody, exposing new voices to new audiences, freshening the bloodstream at some of the city’s established Off Broadway companies and providing the luxury of ample resources for artists used to scraping by.
Microsoft Withdraws Its Bid for Yahoo - New York Times:
Microsoft said Saturday that it was abandoning its blockbuster bid to acquire Yahoo after the two companies could not agree on a price.
The breakdown in the talks followed a meeting on Saturday morning in Seattle between Microsoft’s chief executive, Steven A. Ballmer, and Yahoo’s chief and co-founder, Jerry Yang, according to a person briefed on the discussions.
At the meeting, which also included Yahoo’s other co-founder, David Filo, and Kevin Johnson of Microsoft, Mr. Ballmer increased Microsoft’s offer to $33 a share, but Mr. Yang said Yahoo would not sell for less than $37 a share, this person said.
Microsoft’s decision to walk away is the latest chapter in a three-month-old standoff that began when Microsoft made an unsolicited offer to acquire Yahoo in an effort to compete more effectively with Google in Web search, advertising and services.
Can we please stop pretending she has a plausible chance to win the nomination?:
That exhausts the possibilities. Not one of them is plausible. So, please, let's stop pretending there's much suspense about who the nominee will be. As an arithmecrat, I will not consider anyone the winner until a candidate achieves 2,025 delegates. But neither am I obliged to believe Hillary Clinton has a decent shot. She doesn't.
How Theater Failed America - On Stage - OregonLive.com:
Is Daisey being naive? Pining for some bygone era when small communities of crafts persons grew their own food and performed Shakespeare?
Uh...no, not pining for that. Yikes!
Daisey's 'Theater' goes Off-Broadway - Entertainment News, Legit News, Media - Variety:
Mike Daisey's monologue "How Theater Failed America" has been picked up for a six-week Off Broadway run beginning later this month.
Written and performed by Daisey, show is currently in the midst of a run at Joe's Pub that ends May 11. Production, which earned favorable reviews, has been playing there since April 14.
Embracing intellectual obtuseness and deflecting criticism with charges of elitism is a tactic George Bush often deployed while campaigning. It's striking to see Clinton do it because she has been a regular and harsh critic of Bush's blindness to expert opinion. It's even more striking to hear her aides actually sound like Bush administration officials. When I asked Communications Director Howard Wolfson if the Clinton team could offer any intellectual ballast for the gas-tax vacation, given that so many policymakers had criticized it, he said, "The presidency requires leadership. … There are times when the president does something that the group of experts, quote unquote, does not agree with. Presidents get advice and then act, and that is what Senator Clinton is doing." Or, as George Bush used to put it: A leader leads. Even if off a cliff.
Finally, Microsoft and Yahoo in Merger Talks - Mergers, Acquisitions, Venture Capital, Hedge Funds -- DealBook - New York Times:
After a months-long standoff, Microsoft and Yahoo are in active merger talks, a person involved in the discussions said.
Microsoft, which had threatened to abandon its bid, has increased its offer “by several dollars,” this person said. The merger talks represent an enormous breakthrough following weeks of behind-the-scenes discussions without any progress. Exact terms being discussed could not be learned.
The talks would explain the silence from Microsoft this week as it has refused to disclose its plans, despite threatening to bring a proxy contest if Yahoo didn’t reach a deal with it by last Saturday. Seven days have passed without any announcement from Microsoft about how it intends to proceed.
DHS grounds air marshalls for having names similar to the no-fly list - Boing Boing:
"According to this article in the Washington Times, some air marshals are being forbidden entry to the airplanes they are supposed to protect, as they have similar names to people on the no-fly list. Another nugget from the article- Chertoff says just one airline is seeing some 9,000 false positives EVERY DAY from this list."
BIG MOUTH ARTSY SCHMARTSY:
Mike Daisey ruffled some feathers a couple of months back when he wrote an article in a Seattle newspaper claiming that the American theater machine had basically failed on delivering the American theater dream to the nation. Not only had they failed, he said, but they were essentially sticking it to the artists who were giving their lives to the stage. Is Mike just an angry guy? Far from it. This guys loves him some theater, and when you here him talk to me this week, you'll know that he is smart, cagey, and forward thinking. Mike doesn't have all the answers, but who does?
More Greeks, Please - Theater - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
Open Circle is the young existentialist of theater companies—it doesn't have any money, but loves to brood over ideas, preferably dark ones. In its 15-year history, the company has produced Jacobean bloodbaths, works inspired by Kafka and Cocteau, and annual adaptations of H. P. Lovecraft stories with little more than a few tables, chairs, and folding screens. Their productions demand an audience's willingness to look past the novice acting and Dumpster-diver sets and appreciate their ardor. The artists of Open Circle are true amateurs—their theater isn't always good, but it's always made with love.
Scrappy Jack's World-Wide Theatricals and Dime Museum: may day:
It's a beautiful day and I've no reason not to expect more of the same, more sunshine and beautiful days, but just the same, Life has shown itself to be a tricky bastard and a fast-moving son-of-a-bitch as well.
So let's all hold on to whatever and whoever is close by and see if we can't get through the rapids ahead.
I'm thinking of Curt Dempster this morning.
God bless, Curt. Hope there's more funding up in Heaven than there is down here and that all of the dead playwrights are signed up for your celestial Marathon.
The Miley Cyrus Message, in the Eyes of Schoolgirls - New York Times:
Fifteen. It’s also the age at which a girl, even a girl at a competitive alternative high school like Beacon, might be just on the cusp of outgrowing her love affair with Miley Cyrus, the 15-year-old performer (and star of the Disney Channel’s “Hannah Montana” show) who recently posed for Vanity Fair in suggestive, if artful, photos taken by Annie Leibovitz.
“My friend loves her,” said one 15-year-old sophomore who wouldn’t have class for another hour. Eye shadow and blush with a hint of glitter were brushed across her perfect face, giving her the look that Barbie gets when some young girl decides she could have even prettier pink cheeks. “Well, she love-hates her,” she corrected herself. Once her friend saw the pictures in Vanity Fair, “She called her a slut.”
It stung to hear the word; another version of it came up a moment later. Looking quickly at the image — Ms. Cyrus with her hair damp, her back bare, a sheet draped over her front — another Beacon sophomore looked not so much shocked as disturbed. “Is this who we’re supposed to be growing up to be?” asked the young woman. She wore sunglasses, a tight baby-T and short shorts over black leggings. “I don’t want to be that,” she said. “It’s sending a message that girls are supposed to be whores.”
Dressing sexy, as she and so many of her classmates do, was one thing. Dressing in bedding, seemingly otherwise unclothed, was apparently quite another: contemptible, an actual evocation of sex itself. It’s a paradigm about this generation of teenage girls that’s perplexing to anyone who’s aged out of it: They exude sexuality, even as they’ve internalized a language of shame and anger around it, a language that makes anyone who crosses some ever finer line of appropriate behavior a slut or a whore.
Mike Daisey's How Theater Failed America to Transfer to Barrow Street Theatre: Theater News on TheaterMania.com:
Mike Daisey's solo performance piece, How Theater Failed America, will transfer directly from a sold-out, critically-acclaimed run at Joe's Pub (concluding May 11) to Off-Broadway's Barrow Street Theatre, May 16-June 22. Jean-Michele Gregory will direct.
It's really gorgeous.
Sound check at the gorgeous synagoge.
For Immediate Release, May 1, 2008
IT’S ABOUT THEATER, FAILURE, PASSION, AND HOPE.
“HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA”
BARROW STREET THEATRE
LIMITED 6-WEEK ENGAGEMENT
MAY 16 – JUNE 22 ONLY
BARROW STREET THEATRE
(27 BARROW STREET @ SEVENTH AVENUE SOUTH)
HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA, Mike Daisey’s monologue about theater, failure, passion, and hope, will transfer directly from a sold-out, critically-acclaimed run at Joe’s Pub to a strictly limited 6-week engagement at Off-Broadway’s Barrow Street Theatre. Created and performed by Mike Daisey and directed by Jean-Michele Gregory, the show begins performances at the Barrow Street Theatre on Friday, May 16. Final performance at Joe’s Pub: Sunday, May 11.
Mike Daisey has been called “the master storyteller...one of the finest solo performers of his generation” by the New York Times. In HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA he sinks his razor-sharp wit into a subject he knows well: the American theater, from the sublimely crass to the genuinely ugly. From gorgeous new theaters standing empty as cathedrals, to “successful” working actors traveling like migrant farmhands, to an arts culture unwilling to speak or listen to its own nation, Daisey takes stock of the dystopian state of theater in America: a shrinking world with smaller audiences every year. Fearlessly implicating himself and the system he works within, Daisey seeks answers to essential and dangerous questions about the art we’re making, the legacy we leave the future, and who it is we believe we’re speaking to.
HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA earned rave reviews in its run at Joe’s Pub which began April 14th. Variety wrote, “Surprising and poetic. This piece should reach anyone who believes in live performance,” and Time Out New York declared, “Not only vastly entertaining, it’s also a call to action.” The New Yorker observed, “His transfixing delivery underscores his central point: theatre is a wave, not a particle, and the current system isn't doing it—or us—justice,” and The New York Times hailed the show, “A sardonic rebuke to the corporate types who hold American theater hostage and a powerful sense of the wonder of theater.”
Mike Daisey’s many other monologues include Invincible Summer, Monopoly!, TRUTH, The Ugly American, I Miss the Cold War, Great Men of Genius, Wasting Your Breath and 21 Dog Years. Over the past decade, he has performed his unique extemporaneous monologues at venues such as the Public Theater, American Repertory Theatre, the Spoleto Festival, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Cherry Lane Theatre, Yale Repertory Theater, the Noorderzon Festival, Portland Center Stage, Intiman, Performance Space 122 and many more. He has appeared as a guest on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” his work has been heard on the BBC, NPR and the “National Lampoon Radio Hour,” and his groundbreaking series All Stories Are Fiction is available through Audible. Currently he is a commentator on PRI’s “Studio 360” and NPR’s “Day To Day,” a contributor to WIRED, Slate and Salon and a web contributor to Vanity Fair and Radar Magazine. His first film, Layover, is being distributed by Lars von Trier’s company Zentropa and he stars in the Lawrence Krauser feature Horrible Child. His first book, 21 Dog Years: A Cubedweller’s Tale, was published by the Free Press and he is working on a second book, Great Men of Genius, adapted from his monologues about genius and megalomania in the lives of Bertolt Brecht, P.T. Barnum, Nikola Tesla, and L. Ron Hubbard. He is the recipient of the Bay Area Critics Circle Award, two Seattle Times Footlight Awards and a MacDowell Fellowship.
HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA is presented by AJ Epstein as An Ethereal Mutt Production. Lighting Design is by AJ Epstein.
HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA will play May 16 – June 22 as follows: Friday & Saturday @ 7:30 PM and Sunday at 7:00 PM. No performance Sunday, May 25. The Barrow Street Theatre is located at 27 Barrow Street (at Seventh Avenue). Tickets are $30 and can be purchased online at www.telecharge.com or by phone at (212) 239-6200 or (800) 432-7250 (outside the NY metro area). For group information please call (212) 367-7690. The Box Office at the Barrow Street Theatre is open Tuesday – Sunday from 1:00 PM-8:00 PM.
**PLEASE NOTE: Each Sunday, a roundtable forum with theater artists and administrators will follow the performance. Slated guest include: Eric Bogosian (Talk Radio), Robert Brustein (Founder of Yale Repertory Theatre and American Repertory Theatre), James Bundy (Dean, Yale School of Drama), Jim Nicola (Artistic Director, New York Theatre Workshop), Richard Nelson (Conversations in Tusculum), Lisa Kron (2.5 Minute Ride, Well), Maria Dizzia (Eurydice), Gideon Lester (Artistic Director, American Repertory Theatre), Maria Goyanes (Producer, 13P), Paige Evans (Lincoln Center) and others in direct conversation with working actors, technicians, designers and independent producers of the American theater. The audience is invited to stay for the roundtable forums that will immediately follow Sunday evening performances.
For more information, please visit www.barrowstreettheatre.com or www.mikedaisey.com.
* * *
The Coolidge Effect | Reuniting:
When you drop a male rat into a cage with a receptive female rat, you see an initial frenzy of copulation. Then, progressively, the male tires of that particular female. Even without an apparent change in her receptivity he reaches a point where he has little libido-and simply ignores her. However, if you replace the original female with a fresh one, the male immediately revives and begins copulating again. You can repeat this process with fresh females until the rat nearly dies of exhaustion.
The rat's renewed vigor does not reflect an increase in his wellbeing - although it will look (and temporarily feel to him) that way. His vigor comes from surges of a neurochemical called dopamine, which flood the reward center of his primitive brain... so that he gets the job done.
In short, animals do not choose their mates randomly. They identify and reject those with whom they have already had sex. Scientists know this reflex as the "Coolidge Effect." It earned its name many years ago when President Coolidge and his wife were touring a farm. While the President was elsewhere, the farmer proudly showed Mrs. Coolidge a rooster that "could copulate with hens all day long, day after day." Mrs. Coolidge coyly suggested that the farmer tell that to Mr. Coolidge, which he did.
The President thought for a moment and then inquired, "With the same hen?"
"No, sir," replied the farmer.President and Mrs. Coolidge
"Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge," retorted the President.
Mike Daisey and his wife/collaborator Jean-Michele Gregory are sitting in front of me--a Panasonic tape recorder from the late 1980s and the remnants of various coffee drinks and pastries between us. We are sitting in The Fall Café, a small coffee house in Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn. The crazy old man who sits in a corner and rants about the evils of George W. Bush (and, rumor has it, co-owns the place) is thankfully missing. A Best of Queen CD is playing in the background, however, so we all lean in close over the table, making sure the conversation is preserved for posterity.
I have asked Mike and Jean-Michele to join me to glean how they work together as creator/performer and director. Of their latest show, How Theatre Failed America, much has been written (including by me), but little of it focuses on the great amount of thought and craft that informs their practice as an artistic team.
Don’t forget that The Moth is a part of the PEN festival tomorrow night (Thursday):
Stories about drag queens, swordfights, censorship, and an open bar all night (you’re going to need it!)
Stories about Public Lives and Private Lives
with stories by
Jonathan Ames (author of Wake Up, Sir!)
Ana Castillo (author of The Mixquiahuala Letters),
Mike Daisey (author and monologist, How Theater Failed America)
Josh Kilmer-Purcell (author of I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir)
Rian Malan (author of My Traitor's Heart)
Annie Proulx (author of The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain)
Hosted by Andy Borowitz
at The Eldridge Street Project
12 Eldridge Street
8:00pm Stories on stage
$30 tickets on sale now on www.smarttix.com or call 212 868 4444.