Saturday, December 29, 2007

more nog, please

Love these stretches when you can't remember what day of the week it is and then you realize it doesn't matter. Today's Saturday, I'm pretty sure. Too lazy to find the calendar or check the Times home page. Doesn't matter.

Found this in a notebook in what looks to be my handwriting:

A work of art, an original work of art, should come down like the Day of Judgement. For the faithful, it is the moment of consummation, for the wicked (which is most of us) it is a terrible, terrible experience.


Genius or gibberish? Or somewhere in the great in-between?

Taking full advantage of the weird week to hole up and read until I'm blind. Tearing through the Postdramatic Theater book, cracking A Thousand Plateaus, finished the Kandinsky, I'm on a tear. Also picked up two Dave Matthews CDs at a Goodwill up in Connecticut on the drive home from Greenfield. I missed him when he first came out, never really heard him except for the astonishing Ants Marching thing. Not bad at all. Serious musicianship, that's for damn sure.

More nog, please. Thank you, James.

Everyone have a good New Year's Eve. And if you find yourself shouting at and/or undressing a complete stranger, it might be time to go home. Alone. Or, it might be the start of something wonderful. Judgement, as always, is yours alone.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

holiday break

We're just cleaning up from the office Christmas party here at the Museum. Got crazy last night, me and Nancy and the cat all dancing around, lampshades on our head, way too much Electric Kool-Ade punch. Jesus, that punch.

Probably won't open up shop again until the new year and will be spending the first part of January in St. Louis, land of dial-up internet connection and Macs, so you might not hear from me until the Day of Her Birth, January 5th, Nancy Walsh Day.

Here's wishing everyone peace and rest and love.

Pretty hard year, 2007.

Raise a glass for those now gone and reach out your other hand and hold on tight to those still around. End of the day, that's all you've got.

Friday, December 21, 2007

guest host

I've got nothing to say this morning, but my buddy Wassily Kandinsky was keeping me up all night last night, yammering away. He said something like:

Every work of art is the child of its age and, in many cases, the mother of our emotions. It follows that each period of culture produces an art of its own which can never be repeated. Efforts to revive the art-principles of the past will at best produce an art that is still-born. It is impossible for us to live and feel, as did the ancient Greeks. In the same way those who strive to follow the Greek methods in sculpture achieve only a similarity in form, the work remains soulless for all time. Such imitation is merely aping. Externally the monkey completely resembles a human being; he will sit holding a book in front of his nose, and turn over the pages with a thoughtful aspect, but his actions have for him no real meaning.

I said,

Sure Wassily, I hear you, man, but what about the spark of inner life? Put down that vodka, son, and tell me about the spark of inner life.

He poured himself another tumbler, in the old Russian fashion, right up to the lip of the glass, you know, and said:

This all-important spark of inner life today is at present only a spark. Our minds, which are even now only just awakening after years of materialism, are infected with the despair of unbelief, of lack of purpose and ideal. The nightmare of materialism, which has turned the life of the universe into an evil, useless game, is not yet past; it holds the awakening soul still in its grip. Only a feeble light glimmers like a tiny star in a vast gulf of darkness. This feeble light is but a presentiment, and the soul, when it sees it, trembles in doubt whether the light is not a dream, and the gulf of darkness reality.

Then he passed out, sleeping in his clothes on the couch. Big coat, boots, everything, just snoring and choking and coughing all night.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

idiot with a mic

So he's up there, joking and glaring and posturing and being all He-man Presidential and someone asks him about the blatant, glaring, obvious obstruction of justice that is the destruction of the tapes that show our guys torturing some poor, evil motherfucker.

Not harshly interrogating. The full-on money shot. That thing we don't do. Our guys doing it. On tape.

Journalist asks him when he found out about it. He squints, shrugs, chuckles and says:

"Sounds pretty clear to me when I say I have- the first recollection is when Mike Hayden briefed me. That's pretty clear."

Yeah. Classic. It does sound pretty clear when you say you found out about it. That wasn't the question.

You fucking idiot.

The question was when did you find out about it?

And if you don't think we all know the answer to that one, which is as soon as the shit happened and you probably got a hard-on just hearing about it, then you must think we're idiots.

Some of us are paying attention. And more of us are paying attention every day.


blowing of the horn

Everyone should run out and buy The Best Plays Theater Yearbook, 2005-2006, edited by Jeffrey Eric Jenkins. It's the 87th edition of this thing. Do the math, it started in 1919? 1918? Something like that?

Anyone got a calculator?

Actually, don't buy it. It's good, but it's like fifty bucks.

I bought two, not only because I want to read Grey Gardens and Rabbit Hole and Red Light Winter and Shining City and six other fine plays, but because of certain words written on pages 259 and 260 by John Istel in his essay, The Season Off Off Broadway.

I won't quote, because that would not only be blowing my own horn, but actually blowing myself right here in front of everyone, but suffice it to say that my own Christian name, (correctly spelled) is there. Istel, acute observer that he is, quotes my Obie acceptance speech and goes on to name me as one of the true Titans and original framers of all that is good and true below 14th Street. Hopkins, Parks, everyone gets a nod, with the glaring exception of Nancy Walsh. Behind every great man there's a woman rightfully screaming:

"What the fuck? Again?"

Anyway, a real thrill for your faithful correspondent. It's always good to have a thing around that says you actually did something at some point that you can pull off the shelf and hold in your trembling hands on those dark nights of the soul that come to us all.

Bought two, one for the dark nights of the soul, one for my Mom.

Great meeting this afternoon with Jess Bauman. She's a very kick-ass director whom we're working with, a fellow New York Theater Workshop Usual Suspect who's been working for awhile on something she's calling Into the Hazard, (Henry 5). She had a long workshop at the Culture Project last year, now the thing is starting to cook and she wants to bring it out again to the public eye.

If you like your Shakespeare, you're truly going to enjoy this one. Henry V stripped down, cast of six and very inventive use of video. She's casting this week up at the AEA building, so Nan and I go up there for a meeting, enemy territory and all that. We spend most of the time just bullshitting, but hell, we're only consultants. Early warning:

The workshop goes up Thursday January 31 and Friday February 1st, down at the Tank. Every one of you motherfuckers needs to be there. Even if it means jumping on a plane and flying in from Berlin. Hopkins.

Not that I'm singling anyone out.


All right, enough of that.


Also, I feel I need to address the issue of the first six songs on Icky Thump, by the fine young American band White Stripes. In an earlier post, June of 1971, I believe, I confessed to being unable to listen to the album until track 6 or 8, depending on how Celtic I was feeling at the moment. I've since sucked it up and put the bastard on from the top like Joe Chiccarelli, Jack White and God intended it.

It's fucking great.

Title track Icky Thump is first. No prisoners kind of shit. Here we go, hold on. Crazy-good guitar work, for a moment it's Led Zepellin doing Jethro Tull. Eighth-grade stoner jack-off heaven.

Next up is arguably the best song on the album, You Don't Know What Love Is. Direct, catchy, brutal. I'll just give you the chorus:

You don't know what love is
You just do what you're told
Just as a child of ten might act
But you're far too old
You're not hopeless
Or helpless
And I hate to sound cold...
But you don't know what love is
You just do as you're told

It's what you want to say to every smart woman in a fucked-up relationship. Your mom, your sister, your old girlfriend, your friend, every one of them. And it rocks.

Next is 300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues. Not quite as good as its title, but not half bad. Really great lyrics, which is true throughout the album. Ends with:

One thing's for sure in that graveyard
I'm gonna have the shiniest pair of shoes


Fourth on the platter is Conquest which is fucking awful. Written by someone else, starts with a blast of trumpets, no fucking idea what this is doing on the disc. Still haven't listened to it all the way through. Seriously. You sort of run at the stereo, whacking away at it, shouting:

"Get it off! Off!"

Some sort of artistic Jack White bullshit.

No good. Skip four.

Five takes us back to where we live. Angry, spare guitar, Meg banging away on the drums. It's called Bone Broke. At a certain point, Jack's guitar seems to get away from him and play what it's been trying to play since Jack first picked the thing up. He chokes it back down, but there's a moment of whoah what the fuck? that's a lot of fun.

And then, I swear to you, it's off to the races. 6-13. Over and over again. Join me in my joy. It's all I fucking listen to. And I'm so happy.

I just read this over.

What is this, Rolling Stone? Spin? Trying to run a theater blog here.

I am a Titan. Ask Istel.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

jump down, turn around

Full day yesterday. Met up with the lovely Vallejo Gantner, he of PS 122, ostensibly to pitch him on The Event, a one-man thing I wrote for Matt Oberg. As always happens when I talk with V, we end up just laughing about silly shit. A deeply funny man. He's got dates in February, too soon for us to do anything, but he bought my coffee and a chocolate croissant too, so I look at the meeting as a clear gain for me.

Have to get up to 52nd and 7th to have lunch with Dave Weems, my new writing partner and old boyhood friend. I'm coming from 9th street and 1st avenue and its high noon, so I'm fully fucked. Jump in a cab, 15 bucks later I'm still eight blocks away and twenty minutes late. Jump out, run through the madding crowd, Weems is waiting at the bar. We tell each other how much money we're going to make writing screenplays for Al Pacino and Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgewick, eat stew, hug and I'm off.

CJ calls from Berlin, we talk about his new play America the Beautiful. We're probably taking it to Edinburgh this year, we both get the wild idea of rehearsing in Germany, dirt cheap there and maybe we can get a local theater involved. Hmmm...

Meet up with Jon Stancato of Stolen Chair, end-of-the-year catch-up thing. Stolen Chair have been clients for awhile, we're actually on retainer for them, how cool is that? Like we're lawyers or a goon squad or something. They are, frankly, rocking of late, got a NYSCA grant for two years, planning their latest unholy hybrid, working title is The Tragic Swashbuckler, an Errol Flynn movie as penned by Sophocles. Love how their minds work.

Then out to the wilds of Brooklyn to The Brick for a reading of Julia Lee Barclay's latest, Besides, you Lose your Soul, A History of Western Civilization. Julia's in town from London and the evening is hard to distinguish from some sort of feverdream. Everyone from the old Theatorium days is there: Elena, Fred Backus, Maggie Cino, Robin Reed, Danny O'Brien, Chris Campbell, the Dentons, the Piper McKenzie crew, Julia, etc. The Brick feels like a scaled-down Theatorium, in a way, and I keep flashing back to the old days, losing the train of meaning of the script, which is easy to do even if you're paying full attention because it's a Julia thing and you better not be looking for narrative.

Goddamn. Just typing all that wore me out. Thank god for the meth or I'd never get through these days.

Last League meeting of the year this afternoon. Things finally winding down. I'm about ready for my nog and a good book.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

many things

Looking ahead to January and Lordy, we're going to be busy.

We've all had those stretches where you check to see if the phone is actually on and wonder if you've insulted everyone somehow and figure it's finally time to get out of the business and go back to St. Louis and sell shoes, so it's good when the gigs come fast and furious.

We get back into town on the 4th, do the APAP conference thing on the 13th and 14th, rehearse for the nEW Festival in Philly that week, open Time to Dance on the 18th, fly to Edinburgh on the 19th to meet with the International Festival people and talk about Overlord, come back on the 22nd, fly to Chicago on the 24th for the Fatboy opening at A Red Orchid Theater, come back home on the 26th and then start the Overlord workshop at the Ohio the following week. All that plus a consulting gig that caps out on January 31st. Me and the missus will be dancing as fast as we can.

Congratulations to the fine folks chosen for People of the Year by the other fine folks at I know a lot of them, this being a fairly small fishbowl of a town, don't know some, congrats all.

And I'd just like to randomly say that I've recently come across two excellent young playwrights. Eric Sanders I've written about before, he wrote Ixomia which played as part of the Crown Point Festival a month or so ago. Beautiful, crazy, disciplined work. And my old buddy Danny O'Brien just turned me on to his wife's work. Julie Shavers some of you may know. She had a hit at the Fringe last year or two years ago with Go Robot Go. Her new one is Silver Bullet Trailer. Man alive. Can't adequately describe her voice, only read each play once, but she is funny, assured and very brave.

These kids give me hope. And it's hard to do this stuff without hope. So, thanks, Eric and Julie. Write if you get work.

Monday, December 17, 2007

the truth, at last

Didn't catch all of it, but the Sunday talk show highlight for me was Tim Russert going for the full hour with the Mittbot. I, personally, would have been worried about the lengthy exposure to the radiation or whatever it is he emits. And the mindcontrol he's clearly capable of.

That's one high-tech robot.

Tim, in best prosecutorial mode, kept patiently nailing him. Mitt would smile, hunker down and press on. Impossible positions would become defensible, clear contradictions in public statements would vanish. Extraordinary. He's got a great sound bite he's playing now. When pressed on the ludicrous and racist dogma of his church, he gets all steely-eyed and repeats:

I'm proud of my faith. It's the faith of my fathers.

Tempted to go with "also the faith of his mothers." But that would be a cheap Mormon shot and we don't do that here. Ever.

But he was tough. Hung in there the whole hour. Fiercely defended the Idiot from Pastor Mike, contorted himself into the actual shape of a stem cell at one point, talking about abortion and generally beamed the Presidential Death Ray full-on.

Maybe there's some alien/Mormon connection we're all missing. Joe Smith, abducted by Maroni, taken to the Mother Ship, impregnates forty alien Mormonots or something, they come back down, off to Salt Lake. Generations later, Mitt rises.

I love a good conspiracy. Too bad there's no electronic way to spread rumors and conspiracy stories rapidly, like, globally. Hmmm...

random Monday

Oh man.

Went to Dov Weinstein's bachelor party last night at the Comfort Inn on 25th Street. Got home around 3:00. Strippers, male prostitutes, cocaine everywhere, lots and lots of unprotected sex. The usual drill.

No. Just poker and booze. Hilarious.

Day started with my cousin Deirdre's birthday party out in Queens. This year was also her engagement party, so lots of family. And strippers and cocaine and unprotected sex.

No. We always use protection out in Queens.

I've had White Stripes Icky Thump, Tom Waits Mule Variations and the Very Best of The Grateful Dead on seriously heavy rotation here at the Musuem. It's like the Soulful White Men Station around here.

Last week before the holidays hit. Need to get some stuff done and in the can before Friday.

Friday, December 14, 2007

mug shot

And apparently my name is now John United States.

another reason I will never be president

Watching the Democrats debate yesterday afternoon out in Iowa and they’re all talking tough about protecting the family farmer, like it seems everyone always does just around this time of year every, oh, four years or so, and one of them, Richardson I think, lets slip that there’s only about 550,000 of them left. And I’m thinking,


Fuck the farmers, then.


550,000? There are more one-armed Filipino barbers in this country named Joe than there are family farmers. Why are we all bowing and scraping to these motherfuckers?

You’re going to say food, they give us the food, and I’m as big a fan of food as anyone else out there, but do they really do that? Doesn’t Beatrice or AgriGro or the Jolly Green Giant or someone actually do that nowadays? Is this just nostalgia? Some land-yearn we’re all having, some national memory/fantasy of the Joads? Do these 550,000 actually put the muffin on my plate or are they just sitting out there in Iowa going broke like the rest of us, only they’re doing it with a view?

If it's nostalgia, then shouldn’t we be fighting for the sheet music sellers and the icebox manufacturers and the organ-grinders? And their monkeys? What about those poor little monkeys?

Someone set me straight here. Don’t want to malign those hard-working farm folk, but what are they actually doing of vital national interest? And what’s up with those subsidies? Tell me it’s not true that you can make more money staring at a field than tilling it.

I remain,

Ignorant in Manhattan

Thursday, December 13, 2007

readings and writings and meetings

Had the big Captain Overlord's Folly reading on Tuesday up at the Ohio's Sixth Floor space. Assembled a true all-star veteran cast: Nancy Walsh, Kurt Rhoads, Kevin Pariseau, Paul Urcioli, Ben Schneider, Matt Oberg, Eva Van Dok, Bill Coelius, Matt Whitten, Danny O'Brien, Eric Davis and newcomer Kate Lord.

Man, it was good. Needs a ton of work, but as I said to someone at the bar afterwards, it floats. It's seaworthy. I'd been working on the thing for so long and this was the first time I'd heard it in a room with a bunch of people and it works. Hallelujah.

Second act is weak, but the ending is great. In other words, only things I can fix. Nothing needs to be scrapped.

Also read Greg Kotis' Bad Christmas, or most of it. Jesus, it's funny.

Met with my writing partner Dave Weems yesterday and he showed me our screenplay all typed up and looking real. Quite exciting. We've got a meeting this afternoon with a major player, Dave thinks he can hook us up with an agent and then, well, it's Scrappy Jack no more. Gentleman Jack, motherfuckers.

I'll be saying,

"Who? No, I don't think I remember you. From where? Stanton Street? I don't believe I've ever been to Stanton Street. Drive on, James."

In a bad bullshit English accent. Wearing a cape. O yes.

Also met up with Peter Tear and the good people at 59E59. The usual mutual hustle.

So far a productive week. May have yet another consulting client. We're just consulting our asses off around here.

All right. I'm late for a fitting. For a cape.

Drive on, James.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

another from the vault

Wrote this three years ago, after attending the Berkshire Conference, a high-end arts junket run by MassMOCA and some other big time folks.

I was asked to come and sit on a panel about alternative theater in America. Turned rapidly into one of the worst, most angering weekends of my adult life.

They put us up in high style, fed us, we were hobnobbing with some serious folks and Nancy and I stood around like a couple of assholes, not able to catch the flow of the thing for a single moment.

Went home and wrote this. It’s undated, but it must be sometime winter of 2004, if I was 41 and Ben Cameron was still at TCG.

I’m frankly surprised I wrote anything this cogent. I remember feeling only furious and foolish, that awful combination where you know somehow it’s all your own fault but you can’t figure out exactly how.

Anyway, here's the rant:

Either they don’t get it or I don’t. Either new work and new forms and young artists are perfectly fine and taken care of or their welfare is not up to us at all. The entire weekend colored by the disorienting, umanning feeling of encountering smart, successful people in my own industry: arts leaders, curators, programmers, and having nothing to say to them. Having no common experience. As if we had lived through completely different times.

Must remember that this was organized by successful nonprofits, Shakespeare and Company, etc. The nonprofit universe they live in has provided well for them. It’s a universe filled with smart people, alarmed people, aware people. They don’t need to be told that there is a crisis. They are dealing with the crisis with the strategies and vocabulary of their world. They’ve survived over forty years with this approach.

The problem might be that I have never been in that universe, not as an artist or a producer. I’ve grown up next to that universe, knowing a lot of the people, but never really knowing or respecting that culture. I’ve developed a deep distrust of that universe and a dismissive attitude towards it without ever really understanding it. It’s a complicated, ambivalent emotional attitude. I never joined that club.

I don’t have a club.

I’m 41 years old, have been working in New York theatre actively for 12 years and I can’t think of one ally I can call. Most people in the business know my name but don’t know my work. I have never adequately been able to describe my style. I feel there are reservoirs of creativity and resources and people I could pull together, but I don’t know what to do with these things.

I’m tired of not liking, of actively hating the industry I work in.

I feel too old to still be a malcontent.

And my strategy, to the extent that it exists, is fuzzy. If Ben Cameron said, here, take the reins, what would I do? I don’t want those reins, don’t want to drive that stagecoach, because, again, it works for those people and those institutions. I have to actively stop looking at that world and worrying about it and letting it anger me and be mature about it. Use it, accept it and work around it.

So, what do I want? To run a massive institution and die a cultural icon? To write a recognized American masterpiece? To articulate a new American style? To run the hippest venue in New York and 20 years from now be Grandpapa Fringe?

Figure you got 30 years, probably only 25. Still a long time. Start by knowing where you are.

My theater has always been generous, direct, engaged. Present. Keeping the focus on humans in front of humans. Low to no-tech. Text-driven, rhythm focused. Power of imagination. Blurring of performer/character. Open, easy acknowledgement of audience. No effort of creating illusion.

Start there.

three things that are perfect

A long night with a full moon.
A long night with a blazing fire.
A long night with a beautiful person you love.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

new rule

I'm on record for calling grad school for theater artists a waste of time and money. In some cases, graduate programs are perpertrating what amounts to fraud, taking massive amounts of money from young people or their parents and implicitly promising a thing they cannot deliver: a career in the industry. I tell students and others thinking about grad school to move to LA, Chicago or New York and start working. Volunteer to be someone's assistant. See every show you can. Audition for and take every job. If you're a writer, start writing. Et cetera.

It's all about flight time. If you want to be a pilot, you need flight time. The more hours you've logged actually in the air, the better you're going to fly. The more time you've spent actually on the stage, or in the rehearsal room with actors, or having actors and directors and designers talk to you about your play, the better you're going to be at your craft.

So, I'm establishing a new rule here at the Dime Museum.

No more grad school recommendations. My last one will be Chris Taylor, an excellent young playwright I met down at Rowan University. He's looking at Northwestern and from what I can tell, he's looking for the right reasons and while it's still a big mistake, it's one he's making with his eyes wide open. Plus, I promised him.

But that's it. I will no longer be a party to the hoax. If you're applying for a grant or a gig, I'm your man. But school's out around these parts.

Monday, December 10, 2007

dream ticket

It hit me yesterday.

Obama Biden.

It rolls, doesn't it? And Barack could say that Joe's one of the cleanest, most articulate VP candidates out there.

And Biden is Johnson to Obama's Kennedy. And of course, Obama isn't Kennedy, but Kennedy wasn't actually Kennedy either. Sure, Kennedy was Himself, but his admnistration was Vietnam and the Space Race and The Cuba Fucking Missile Crisis and then Dealey Plaza and bye-bye.

What if we could have a Kennedy administration without the Kennedy ending? What if a young, idealistic guy could sit behind the desk with an old, totally trusted guy in the VP seat? And what if, and I'm dreaming now, Barack had the balls and imagination to appoint

John McCain

The Man

As Secretary of State?

Yes. Think on it. Him.

Isaac has a point in a comment to the previous post, which is that Johnny wants to bomb the living shit out of most countries and probably most states beside Arizona. But the Secretary of State doesn't make those calls. And yeah, it's a really bad idea the more I think about it, but he came to me because he's the only person, the only one, god help us, to be able to state simply and with conviction:

No. We don't do that.


We're Americans. I swear to you that we won't do that anymore.

John McCain.

If you don't know his history, look it up. And forget about the last five years. He made a bad, stupid deal with his tribe and he chose loyalty over honor. It was a bad deal, but you should look at his whole life and you'll see that it makes internal sense that he made that deal. He should have beat the Idiot in South Carolina seven years ago. He didn't and he accepted that fact. And he stayed, tight-lipped and smiling, loyal.

Stupid. But honorable. I carry such a torch for this guy, don't know why.

So that's my banner:


McCain as SOS.

Hillary stays an extraordinary and effective Senator from New York. Edwards starts a church or a shopping network or something. Rudy's head explodes from internalizing the Snarl for too long, but he survives, of course. Big Fred is revealed to be Newt Gingrich on Dan Quayle's shoulders, dressed up in a Big Fred costume. Huckabee eats a pie, blows back up to 350 pounds, loses all electability. Richardson retreats into obscurity, still insisting, rightly, that he's the most qualified person in the race. Romney, angered but still smiling, goes back to the Mother Ship, after destroying several major American cities with the beams of light that come out of his eyes. And the rest of us find something else to bitch and argue about.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

the kids are all right

Took a free-fall leap of faith on Friday, out to an apartment in Williamsburgh to see an illicit, off-the-books performance of a certain fairly recent Off-Broadway hit.

Yes, I said apartment.

20 of us crammed in a corner, three stellar young actors foaming away mere feet in front of us, no royalties, box office, backstage, lobby, program, nothing.

We're just sitting in their apartment and they're doing a show.

20 0f us and except for me and some dude named Richard I smoked with at intermission, no one over 20 years of age. No idea why Richard was there. I went because a kid named Emily Loeb invited me. Emily came and saw Americana Absurdum in London three years ago and stayed in touch. Last week she emails me and says:

"We're doing this thing, we're doing it in an apartment, can you come?"

Now, I love apartment theater. I've seen professional apartment theater and random, broke-ass apartment theater, and I love both varieties. Even if the play sucks, you're sitting in someone's home, watching art or something like it flail and flap around in front of you.

I love it.

This one was spectacular. They're doing it a few more times, call me and I can hook you up. And if you're an agent or a casting director out there reading this, you need to see these people.

Nothing startling, just straight-on American psychological realism, but the acting and the direction are really, really fine. Play is quiet good, better than I remember it being. It's set in an apartment, so it works great.

Actors are the aforementioned Emily Loeb, T.J. Linnard and Ian Alda. Direction by Brian Frederick. Smoking young talent.

And from the political world, the best quote of the Sunday talk shows has to go to Joe Biden on This Week with George Stephanopoulus. Talking about the latest outrage, he says,

"...this is the Nixon administration without the competence."

Go, Joe.

My dream ticket: Obama Biden.

Say it out loud. It rolls, doesn't it? And we convince McCain to be Secretary of State and suddenly the world might have a prayer again.

I can dream, right?

Busy, busy week. Trying to get everything locked down before the holidays rage. 08 could be very rewarding if I can keep all the ducks in their goddamned rows.

Goddamned ducks. They just won't stay in their rows.

Goddamn them to hell.


Friday, December 07, 2007


I started working with a writing partner about a month ago, my oldest friend, Dave Weems.

I met Dave on the playground of Flynn Park Elementary School back in St. Louis in the fall of 1970. I was heading into my kindergarten class, he was an old creepy man cruising the playground.

No, he was also walking into class.

Best friends all the way through high school until I got kicked out and then we roomed together the first two years at Oberlin. Dave put himself through law school here in New York, works in midtown for some big firm. But he's been whacking away at screenplays the whole time. He bluffed his way into a meeting with a major player a month ago, called me up and said,

Dude, you have to help me finish this thing. This guy wants to see the script and its got to be polished and sharp and done.

So I put on my writing scrubs and we've got a screenplay. And we're jamming on a TV show and another treatment.

The beautiful thing is, I don't really care about movies or TV shows. I write plays. But I'm finding that it's really fun to pitch TV shows and movies because it allows me to tell stories, something I'm not that interested in doing on stage. But who doesn't love a good story?

And because we've known each other forever, we work fast and don't have to be polite with each other.

That's bullshit.


You meant to say blah blah...

Really fucking fun. And if we sell one of these things, that's like selling forty-three plays. I'm moving to Monaco. Scrappy Jack on the beach, sipping a Mojito, counting my money.

O yes. Believe it.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

missed it

Man. Just realized I missed Maxwell's Ode to the Man Who Kneels. Had an actor friend who saw it and said it was the worst, most ass-clenching experience he's had in the theater in memory. Made me want to see it even more.

I'm an unabashed fan. His House is still the best thing I ever sat in front of. He did Boxing 2000 at the Theatorium back when. Many, many stories I could tell and will if you buy me some drinks.

What I need is a personal secretary. Besides the cat. Someone to tell me where I'm going and when and whether or not I should wear a hat.

Goddamn it. Now I'll have to go to the Netherlands or somewhere to see it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

WTFC strikes again

Berit Johnson, as reported by Ian Hill, at , has christened Charles Isherwood, second lieutenant of The New York Times as What the Fuck, Chuck?


Ian's blog isn't on my blogroll, I just noticed, but that's only because I'm an idiot and couldn't dial a telephone until quite recently. No idea how to get him on, embarrassed to ask Steve or Nancy again.

Sorry, Ian. I'm a regular reader.

In a rave of August: Osage County yesterday, WTFC penned:

The play has the zip and zingy humor of classic television situation comedy and the absorbing narrative propulsion of a juicy soap opera, too.

All right...

The play is killing all critics and hey, hallelujah. Tracy Letts is a very good writer and I know the guy a little bit, enough to know he's a guy not a gal despite the ambiguous first name, he read Fatboy a while ago and was very cool and supportive about it. He's also a very fine actor, as anyone who saw Austin Pendleton's Orson's Shadow at Barrow Street a few years back can attest. Judging from the current and projected field and the very strong notices so far, Mr. Letts should start working on some acceptance speeches. The Tony and the Pulitzer are out there waiting for the Chicago mantle back home.

So bully, Tracy. Good on you, son.

But back to Chuck.

He doles out the appropriate pull quotes:

"sensationally entertaining... blazes... the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years blah blah blah..."

Fucking great. A new play received on Broadway with open arms, great.

But then, Jesus, then, he wrote and someone allowed him to publish:

Watching it is like sitting at home on a rainy night, greedily devouring two, three, four episodes of your favorite series in a row on DVR or DVD.




Several things come to mind.


What the fuck is a DVR, Chuck?

And what the fuck are you talking about?

And simply,

What the fuck, Chuck?

I mean, fuck.

Come on, man.

Is there a good reason you can't go to the person behind the Big Desk who decides these things and tell him or her you are fucking dying to be transferred to the TV beat?

You're salivating, publicly, for the gig. You recommended, during the recent strike, that theater audiences should rent or buy Friday Night Lights and sit at home, alone, and enjoy themselves.


Sir. Chuck. You're a theater journalist for The New York Times. Do you have no idea whatsoever what your job is? Have you ever had the single thought, once, to wander, carelessly, thoughtlessly outside of your prescribed, corporate bailiwick?

Move over and let Zinoman or Kendt or Jacobs or Simonsen or Cote or Feldman or any of a legion of very qualified and hungry writers I, and anyone else who's paying attention, could name to take your spot.

Guys who care about the theater, Chuck. Guys who know what the fuck they're talking about and where the fuck they live.


What the fuck, Chuck?

Life will roll on at the Times, I guess. They gave up really caring years ago. A shame, but hey, at a certain point you have to stop looking at the idols of your youth for guidance today.

I knocked a first draft of the Melanie Stewart Dance piece out of the park today. Beautiful little ten-minute piece. Hope she likes it. Basically just boiled down C.J. Hopkins' screwmachine/eyecandy to a ten-minute dance thing, but it's good.

And had a wild, hour-long conversation with a tune-meister from the 70s/80s about a potentially big-ass musical he wants me to direct. Major money behind this. Could be great, could be ridiculous, don't know yet. Remember, I'm the genius who worked on the stage adaptation of Midnight Cowboy.

Never heard of that?


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

god's mercy on the elephant man

At the end of the first long day back in the Big Dirty, Nancy and I fall back on the couch and click on the TV.

IFC is showing The Elephant Man.

Haven't sat through the entire thing in years, so sure, yeah, turn it on.

Sweet merciful Lord.

We are plunged into David Lynch's one true masterpiece.

Black and white. Hopkins. Hurt. Bancroft. The Elephant Man.

He is not an animal.

Halfway through, no, ten minutes in, we are both convulsing, sobbing, and Nancy gasps out:

"This is not entertainment. This is just crying."

I blurt/snot out agreement and we watch the whole thing.

See it again if you haven't seen it in a few years or if you haven't seen it three times. Seeing it with no sense of the visual shock is seeing it fresh, seeing it for what it is. Christ, we went through half a box of Kleenex.

Then, (and this post is becoming a TV diary, sorry about that) there's a special on Fred Phelps.

You've probably only heard about this fine man as a bit player in The Laramie Project. He's a hateful, organized, Kansas piece-of-shit fuck who's made it his own personal mission on this green earth to protest anything that gets TV coverage with bright black-on-yellow signs proclaiming "GOD HATES FAGS" and "YOU'RE GOING TO HELL" and other such incisive shit. Fred and his church are particularly attracted to such blazing, public media events as private funerals for guys and girls who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.



Real subtle player, our man Fred.

The documentary clearly lays out that he's an abusive, deluded, deranged motherfucker, but hey, is that actually a news flash?

Here's my solution, assuming the prick is still walking around. Give me some time and money and I'll break the bastard. Seriously.

Anyone with real money out there, listen to my pitch. Because everyone's missing the two cogent points.

1. He's an advertising genius.

Why do you think the signs are black on yellow? They pop on TV. Why do you think he protests soldier's funerals? He gets press.

His website is You're going to go to it right now, how can you resist? It's a great domain name.

He's Rove to the nth. He's got the zeitgeist around the neck and he's fucking it doggy-style and the whore zeitgeist is loving it. He's brilliant.


Don't argue with the man. That's what he's counting on. That's just more free press.

Don't condemn the man. Same thing. There's only one way to defuse a brilliant, virtually unassailable position.

Laugh at it.

Turns it around. Makes him angrier and sillier. Crown him as the rightful descendant of Andy Kaufmann. Praise, honestly, his audacious humor and media manipulation. Place him where he belongs, as a jester, as a fool. That's what he knows, inside, he really is.

He's too smart to be that ridiculous. And he thinks he's smarter than anyone who may call him on it.

It will kill him from within. His own spleen will spit bile, writhe up and do righteous battle and strangle his own leathery throat.

Again, this is all assuming he isn't dead and turning on a spit somewhere. I just saw him on TV, what do I know?

Here's what I'd do with some money:

Hire 20 people to track Fred's Crew to every event for a year and have them wave the seemingly exact same signs. His signs are his ticket to TV. We've all seen his signs. They pop.

Except our signs say:

God Hates God

God is Fred

Fred Hates God

Fred is God.

God is Gay

Gay is God

Goo Goo Ga Choo

Gabba Gabba Hey

Et cetera. Increasing absurdity. Only our people are paid ,which Fred's faithful aren't. And our people are actors, and they'll perform better in front of the camera, which is the only audience Fred cares about. And our people, straight-faced and sincere, claim to be Fred's people. We out-faithful the faithful. And we make every goddamned Phelps outing a beautiful surrealist comic performance, gentle and warped and silly and patient and inexhaustibly comic. Keep calmly repeating Tommy Smothers nonsense until they turn off the cameras.

Because Here's the Thing:

2. He's got nothing behind the advertising. That's his whole play. And that's his weakness.

Anyone that media-savvy in today's world can't resist the media. So we bring him into our home field and we blitz his dumb-fuck, Bible-based, backwoods, piece-of-shit Kansas hateful motherfucking ass. Blitz him all day long. With step two:

Invite Fred and his family to have a civil dialogue in whatever forum they want.

Invite him not as an opponent or an adversary, but as a wonderful, accomplished, curious comic. This will take the patience of Job, but it will work. He vomits stupid hate, we gently, easily point out the absurdity and wait for the response. He'll probably refuse the first fifty offers, explaining to anyone who asks that he doesn't want to talk to fags, fag-enablers, sinners or whatever the fuck else he calls us.

We just keep inviting him. It becomes a joke. He becomes the punchline.

The trick with these absolutely crazy, unhappy people is patience.

They're nuts. They've got nothing else. They assume they can out-wait any sane person.

You make them a very minor but diligently observed part of your daily schedule, get on with your life, and sure enough, ten or twenty years down the line you've reduced them to the self-admitted joke they've always been. And sometimes, if they're crazy enough, it happens a lot faster than that.

Or, we could just hire some guys and shoot the evil fucker in the heart ninety times.

Either way. Call me and we can discuss details, money and the salient points.

My point, long-winded though it may be, is that Fred may be our own American Elephant Man. Keep him in the dark, in the shadows, hide him, and he's a monster, some Other that we fear. Welcome him into the discourse and he may just quietly lay down and die.

If the soul of John Merrick is out there somewhere, forgive me for using your horribly painful earthly existence to make this argument and I apologize for associating you in any way with the twisted, ugly, wracked, choked visage of Reverend Fred Phelps. The man looks like he's trying to damn his own lips for the audacity of speech every time he opens his mouth to spew.

Look at the poor tortured bastard. Jesus. If hate were hair he'd be Sasquatch.

Long day at the corporate office. Nancy and I had two serious meetings, pulled both of them off convincingly. Continued rocking on the Melanie Stewart Dance piece, think that might turn out to be quite good. Need to focus on the screenplay the next couple of days, that could be money.

Emphasis on politics lately. Just writing down what comes out. Thanks for reading.

catching up

A beautiful, funny, emotional week-end down in Dallas, catching up with Joe Nemmers and Sally Nystuen now Vahle. Met their respective off-spring and Sally's husband Tim, drank many margaritas, drove around town in our rented Hyundia Sonata blasting Tom Waits, drove by the apartment Nancy and I first lived in, many many memories were just standing there waiting to be waved at. And they all waved back.

Lost a day yesterday and can't believe it got to be December. Lots of things piled on the desk here, have some catching up to do.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

lone star return

Going down to Dallas, TX tomorrow. Flight's scheduled for 7:05 AM in the mean, mean morning. Mostly going for kicks, seeing some very good old friends. Some business, meeting with Kitchen Dog Theater and maybe Undermain.

Ah, Dallas. The Metroplex. Crazy-ass transplanted Easterners dancing with the real deal, Texans, folks who grew up in the Republic of the Lone Star, a state you can't drive across in a day, a flat land underneath a blazing, watchful sky. Gets weird down there, or at least it did for me.

Good, productive day today. Started a little thing I'm writing for Melanie Stewart Dance, ten minute piece for the nEW Festival in January. Going to be fun. Think I've cast Overlord, at least for the reading on Dec. 11. Nice progress continues happening with LIT, great group of people.

So farewell, my friends. I'm going deep in the heart of Texas. Back, god willing, on Monday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

wednesday night fights


Anyone see the Republican debates last night?

I, personally, love these You Tube debates, makes it almost feel like the candidates share a world roughly similar to mine. Anderson Cooper is probably a prick, he was born rich and he's good-looking, went gray at nineteen, so he's all serious and shit, but he always does a great job, which is just another reason for him to be a prick, but my point is...


I mean, Jesus.

Christ Almighty. Did you see that shit?

Big Fred stepped straight out and said the main focus of the party needs to be overturning Roe v. Wade. Not at all surprising for anyone who's been watching for awhile, but fuck. Nan started quietly crying on the couch next to me. I watched, silent and struck. Anderson didn't have any follow-up. On to the next question...

Mitt and Rudy wrestled for awhile, lots of elbows and slaps. Duncan Hunter ran over and built a fence between them, right there on the spot. Very impressive.

Duncan Hunter.

Did no one say to him at any point:

"Your name is Duncan Hunter. You will never be president. Stop spending people's money."?

I guess no one ever said that to Millard Fillmore either.

Anyway, holy Jesus fuck.

We're in trouble, folks.

They're running the same "crazy as a shit-house rat" shtick on Ron Paul as they're running on Dennis Kucinich, both of them have no prayer but play well on TV, they're the eccentric comic uncles in our bad national sitcom, but Paul came on strong. His slogan, right there and out in the open is Revolution. Fuck yes, Ron. You're dead wrong on just about everything, but fuck yes. Shout and sing, you crazy bastard.

Rudy, of course, scares the shit out of me. He could win and he's smarter than anyone you've ever met. And, yes, he's a Fascist. Look it up. Not on Wikepedia, do real research and you'll see, he's a Fascist. Not empty words, not a reflexive epithet, the man is a true-blue Fascist and he could win and that scares the very shit out of me, a New Yorker that lived under Guiliani and voted for him once. Absolute scream-and-yell-and-run-for-your-life terror if Rudy takes the pledge and is our President. Buy a gun and aim for the White House. We're all dead.

God No. Not Rudy. Jesus. Holy Fuck.


We need to talk about Mitt.

I'm going to go out on a ledge here. No one's really talking about this, but...

He is not of us.

I'm not talking the Mormon thing, which is weird, but I'm talking seriously, human to human here,

He is not of Us.

The dude ain't human. Watch him for awhile. Closely.

Not Us.

Everyone says "Ken Doll" but it's deeper than that. I watched him for two hours, watched him duck and dodge and smile and joke and make his points and attack and defend, and no, my friends, (I'm ripping off McCain with that one, he was great, "My friends, my friends..." he kept mumbling the words long past it was clear he had few in the house), my friends, I tell you true:

He Is Not Of Us.

I get a deep, cellular creep-out from this guy.

Synthetic. Programmed. Soothing. Handsome. Careful. Coiffed. Healthy. Beaming.

He's some kind of fucking robot is all I'm saying.

From some alien civilization.

Probably a civilization of vastly superior intelligence, sure, but my friends, an alien civilization.

Watch him. I am not fucking around.

So, I don't want no damned alien in the White House. Is all I'm saying.

Huckabee is all the rage, but I don't see it. Nice, Christian guy from Hope, Arkansas. Didn't we already do that?

I think it comes down to Big Fred and Rudy, maybe there's a Christian Soldier who fights it out with them, but I can't see him yet.

Fred is Freddy from Nightmare on Elm Street. He's got the charm and style and intelligence (my father will kill me for using that last word) of Reagan.

Totally dangerous dude. Just because he's good on the little screen doesn't mean you want him deciding whether or not your daughter or niece should bleed to death in some corporate park sub-basement when they've outlawed legal abortion in your state. That's not a flight of fancy. That's what will happen, to someone in your family, mine, or someone none of us knows. Doesn't matter.

This is America. Goddamn it. Hard to believe it lately, I know. But this is America. Let's please stop fucking around.

I want you to envision a sweet little female face, someone born now or a year ago. They're your blood or they're not, again, doesn't matter. They're born in America. And fifteen years later they fuck up, as we all have or could have, and that sweet little person is pregnant. And they have no choice. There is no legal, protected above-board place for them to go to do the most horrible thing they have ever done in their very young life. So they go to the guy who does the thing at the place and they give him the money.

Like it's nineteen fucking fifty five or something.

And the Guy who does the Thing is a criminal, as he would have to be, if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Now, a word or two in defense of criminals:

Full disclosure forces me to admit here and now that I have broken federal, state and local laws in my life and I have thankfully gotten away with most infractions. My total time behind bars is only about three days if you add it all up. You can technically call me a criminal but my crimes were virtually all victim-free and can mostly be chalked up to youthful or chemical exuberance. But my life experience has allowed me to live, work and socialize with many low-level and perfectly harmless criminals, people who have to make their money beneath or outside of the law, and I can tell you this,

most criminals are simply business people providing a service who happen to be poor. And usually, they are under-educated. And usually, in my experience, they are high or not far from getting high.


Is that the type of person you want to have aiming a sharp object at your niece or daughter or step-daughter or any other American's reproductive organs?

Think about it.

That's what they're talking about. It's not an abstraction. It's young girls dying. It's horrible. I know. I wish every baby were wished for and planned for and welcomed. But it's not true. We have to deal from where we are, not where we'd like to be.

So, Jesus.

Jesus Holy Fuck on High.

Vote Democrat. Vote for whatever pathetic corporate whore they nominate. I'm an Obama man, of late. If they nominate Hilary, I'll swallow it and vote. If they nominate Edwards, I'll pretend that the corn-pone horseshit doesn't physically cause me to wretch and I'll vote. If it's a write-in and it's Ronald McFuckingDonald on a platform of forced French Fries for all, I will fucking well vote for the clown.

If it's Rudy, we're all deeply, deeply fucked. Look above, we'll live under a Fascist government. It will be extremely well run. Every train will arrive on time. It will always be sunny and quiet. You will never have to see anyone who is not hard-working, tax-paying and scared out of their poor fucking mind. You will live in constant, unrelenting fear. That's how those boys play and they play like a Vegas casino. The house always wins.

If Rudy wins, goodbye U.S.A. He'll take everything the Idiot has done and run it like a corporation. He is so fucking smart.



Had a good day on the art side. Signed a new client to consult with, had an outrageously good meeting with Eric Sanders, cast Overlord, great morning meeting with the LIT crew, all that. But, man.

Night ended heavy watching those sons-of-bitches stand there pretending to talk to me. I like and respect McCain. I voted, once, for Guiliani. I bet I'd have a perfectly enjoyable conversation with everyone who stood on that stage. But if any single one of those motherfuckers wins the Big Prize, we as a nation, we as a world, are immediately endangered. Like they talk about species.

total indifference and other great traits

Struggling through Hans-Thies Lehmann's Postdramatic Theatre. Alternately crystal clear and baffling, often within a single paragraph. Reading along, nodding my head and then stuck staring at a string of words for thirty seconds, trying to figure out which one of them is the verb. Love this bit, where he's talking about the historic shift away from drama and towards theater, sometime in the early 20th century:

The French director Antoine Vitez, someone who stages classical texts with sparse and functional theatrical means, knew what he was talking about when he said that since the end of the nineteenth century all great works written for the theater were marked by a 'total indifference' towards the problems their texture posed for scenic realization.

I know some of those writers. Used to piss me off, but mon ami Antoine has a good point. Writers should just write and leave it to the directors and designers to figure the rest of it out.

Meeting with Eric Sanders today, he wrote Ixomia which just played at the Crown Point Festival. He demonstrated absolute, total indifference to the staging and design when he wrote it. I read it, loved it, told him "I have no idea what to do with this." The production at the festival worked, his director and design team solved a lot of it. Might be another way to do it, but without having seen an attempt, I would still be clue-free.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

triumph on the Bowery

Bad Christmas burned down Dixon Place last night. Stellar performances, as usual, from Urcioli and Coelius, Ayun rocked it and those Krazy Kotis Kids, India and Milo, not only nailed every line and entrance, they charmed the bejesus out of the crowd. We're bringing it back on Thursday, playing at the PIT. Seven minutes of holiday heaven.

Looks like a public reading of Captain Overlord's Folly is in the works at the Ohio Theater, some time in December. Need to hear the words coming out of actual human mouths before any more rewrites.

Real thrill last night for me, met Jeff Jones, author of Seventy Scenes from Halloween, a favorite show from my youth. Saw a production of it at the Undermain Theater in Dallas about twenty years ago and it gave me hope that the theater could be strange and funny and fast. David Lindsey-Abbaire was also in the house, got to shake his hand. And Tom Murrin, the Alien Comic and other good friends I hadn't seen in a while.

Love these short little projects, one rehearsal and then toss it up on the stage, see what happens. Hones the directing skills, you have to be clear and pay attention to the basics.

India and Milo in their little jammies! So cute.

Monday, November 26, 2007

bad Christmas

Hilarious rehearsal for Greg Kotis' Bad Christmas yesterday at the Atlantic's new second-stage space. Nice rehearsal space, by the way. The show is up tonight at Dixon Place and then again on Thursday at the P.I.T. space. Come one, come all and see Bill Coelius get smacked in the face with a pan and then get his sternum all splintered up by Paul Urcioli while Paul strides around in the full Santa regalia: wig, beard, glasses and the requisite big red suit. We got cute li'l children who know most of their lines and Ayun Halliday, wielding the aforementioned pan. Solid holiday entertainment and at seven minutes, it's over before you get bored.

Working on the Code of Ethics for LIT this week, have to show folks something by Wednesday.

Strike still going on, starting to seriously freak some people out. Nancy and I have a handful of friends, all actors, who are losing good money.

Flying to Dallas this Friday to see some old friends and pitch some shows to Kitchen Dog Theater, so it's a short week here at the Dime Museum. We shall endeavor to work industriously.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

little break

We're off to the wilds of New England for the Meal of the Giving of the Thanks. Much to be thankful for this year and much to mourn. May not be posting until Monday, may start jonesing before that.

For what it's worth, why would Isherwood spend precious ink directing people to watch a television show, Friday Night Lights, instead of to the hundreds of Off-Off shows completely unaffected by the strike? And note that in his universe "downtown" is 23rd and 10th. Around these parts, East 4th between 2nd and 3rd is a considerable walk uptown.

Easy to indulge in the time-honored sport of Times-bashing. But, seriously. The second-string Times critic should have a little more sense than that.

Enjoy your bird, all. Give thanks for what you have and bitch and moan for what you don't. It's America, after all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

magic night

Spent the evening out in Red Hook with the fabulous and ever-resourceful Ben Schneider and his beautiful bride and super-chef Sohi Kim. Finally met their pride and joy, the 3 month old Jasper Dae. For all of you out there with children, I hate to break it to you, but we have a winner. She is hands down the cutest thing in jammies.

We were scrambling to find a time for a last dinner for David Calvitto, who is expatriating on Friday, moving to the Big Smoke to chase his dreams. Middle of the afternoon yesterday we realized tonight's the night and two phone calls later, Bob's your uncle and we're all having dinner together. Dave and Ben did Horse Country for me back in 2002, went on to tour the UK with the show for months.

Very sad to see Dave go, but then again we get over there often, so it just means we have another friend in London.

Maintenance day today, wrapping some things up so we can eat the big bird in peace. We're going up to Nancy's ancestral home, Greenfield, MA for the holiday. First Thanksgiving without Jane, so it might be rocky. But as Nancy pointed out, Jane always hated Thanksgiving. No prizes. We all get together, we sit around, and no presents? What kind of holiday is that? She loved her prizes, that girl.

Monday, November 19, 2007

new LIT statement of purpose

Here's what we came up with at the ungodly hour of 8:30 AM. Come on, if you were God, would you get up that early?

The League of Independent Theater (LIT) is the association of theater professionals working in New York City theaters of up to 99 seats. LIT's mission is to organize and protect its members to ensure that independent theater is economically viable for all of its practitioners. We will advocate on behalf of the decades-old tradition of off-off Broadway theater to ensure that it remains, and grows, as a thriving artistic and economic sector in New York City.

Pretty sure that's it. Please commence throwing the brick-bats if not.

On the art side, had a first reading of Greg Kotis' Bad Christmas , a seven-minute thing we're doing at Dixon Place next Monday as part of an evening called Little Theatre. Greg, being Greg, has cast his own brood as the little children eagerly awaiting Santa on Christmas Eve. India is Honey and Milo is Nick and goddamn are they adorable. Bill Coelius plays the part of the drunken (and wronged) husband, Ayun Halliday (Greg's wife) plays the wife and Paul Urcioli plays Santa, but it's a Kotis piece, so the stage directions read:

(Santa enters- a grim, avenging Santa.)

And we're off.

Lots of stage combat, Urcioli in full Santa regalia, a surprising and quite disturbing twist at the end and lots of shouting and wailing throughout. Just like any bad Christmas.

Friday, November 16, 2007

scrappy jack's random Friday thoughts

Sxip Shirey (that's Sxip with an "x") is some kind of genius. Kind of known him for years, he played at the Theatorium and we have a lot of shady friends in common, but only sat down and talked with him a few days ago. He gave me his eponymous CD, put it on late last night, left it on for about an hour. Crazy-ass musicianship. Here's my pull-quote,

If Ry Cooder were a little crazier and Tom Waits had never been discovered, they both would have been lucky to have become Sxip Shirey.

At the Mayor's Awards for Arts and Culture Wednesday night, Big Mike listed the three reasons that culture is important to New York. Look for the one that triggered an internal double-take in Scrappy's immortal soul:

Culture is central to our quality of life.

Culture is central to our brand identity.

Culture is central to New York City's economy.

That's right, folks, apparently I'm living in the great brand of New York, New York. The brand so nice they named it twice. I'm going to stop calling it "the city" when I'm out-of-town, which is a pretentious and snobby thing to do anyway. I'm going to call it "the brand".

It's going to be great to get back to the brand.

Look me up when you're in the brand.

Can you believe this brand?

Definitely has a 21st century ring to it.

In art news, C.J. Hopkins sent me his latest, America the Beautiful. Holy fuck. We might just have us a thing here. Ostensibly set in an underground interrogation room at an American airport, we see the Smiths, a nice upper-middle class American couple returning from London as they answer questions and comply with requests coming from Jack, a government official. Probably. Maybe. Jack's assistants, the beautiful Ingrid and the stolid, handsome Otis are there as well. And...

Well, it's Hopkins, so things get reliably strange, comic and ultimately just god-awful. Very excited about this one.

C.J. and I are also talking about a Woyzeck collaboration. May spend some time on that this afternoon.

That's me. New laptop just arrived, Nancy's monkeying around with it behind me. She's a monkeyer, that little monkey-girl.

Let's all pray she never reads this post, she'll hit me for that one.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

cool public art project

Went downstairs to get some cigarettes at the bodega and looked across the street at the ugly plywood fence surrounding the Theatorium. Sixty feet across and about eight feet high. Blocking what was once the nicest piece of graffiti in the neighborhood. Thought about all of the shows that went up in that place once and all of the posters, postcards and other imagery associated with those shows.


It's a temporary surface, will only last until the demolition is over and the construction starts most likely. And it's nasty weather, so anything not securely attached will get blown off or fucked up in the rain. But still...

Imagine the color and the living history and the memorial for what the neighborhood used to be, right there on the site where they're hammering in what is pretty much the last nail on the casket.

Could be cool. And would give me something to look at when I buy my cigarettes.

I feel a draft

I think this is what we came up with yesterday as a draft Statement of Purpose for the League of Independent Theater.

My uncertainty stems from the early hour in which we drafted it and the difficulty in reading my own handwriting after 24 hours. Seriously, I have notebooks filled with writing from years ago that, without remembering the context, may as well be Arabic.

Some things we considered in the drafting of this:

1. This is for the ages, should make sense and be appropriate ten years from now.
2. Rhetoric and stirring imagery are not necessary for this document; that language is for the Manifesto and anything else the League decides to put out.
3. The Statement should make clear who (or whom, I guess) the League is being created to serve.

Here goes, draft draft drafty:

The League of Independent Theater is the association of Off-Off Broadway professionals working in New York City theaters of up to 99 seats. Its membership comprises every aspect of the theatrical trade. The League's mission is to organize and protect its members and to advocate on behalf of the artistic and economic sector they have created.

Last sentence seems a little weak and clunky when I look at it now, but like I said, big draft draft drafty. Think we're close.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

wild, wild life

The Orwellian moment this week comes from President Pervez "How Do You Like My Suit?" Musharraf, our man in Pakistan.

Explaining why he suspended the Constitution, dismissed the Supreme Court, silenced independent news stations and arrested at least 2,500 opposition party workers, lawyers and human rights advocates, Prez Perv said, with what appeared to be a perfectly straight face,

"To ensure elections go in an undisturbed manner."

Undisturbed by, say, opposition.

But don't worry, Condi's on it, vowing to shake her finger at him for several minutes and then smile at him with her big weird teeth until she has blinded him with the righteousness and justice of her American smile.

So everything's going to work out fine.

Great Steering Committee meeting early this morning for the League, even though I slept through the first half, awaking to find the room shouting at me, waving their fists in the air, demanding more coffee. A spirited group.

And tonight one of those strange, dressy events. The New York Fringe Festival is receiving the Mayor's Award for Arts and Culture, along with Anna Deavere Smith and five other folks and organizations. Elena is thrilled, naturally, and Nancy and I will be there to bask in the reflected glory of our Big Monster Baby. Might shake Mike's hand, ask him for some money.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

R.I.P. Theatorium

Bring down your flowers, ticket stubs and empty champagne bottles to 196-198 Stanton Street and throw them over the wooden fence. After four years of sitting empty the Theatorium is being torn down to make way for another apartment building on the Lower East Side.

We live just across the street so I was walking by yesterday and they had the roll gate open. I peeked in, hadn't seen the inside of that place for about five years. I told one of the workmen I used to work there when it was a theater. He said,

"It was a theater? We heard it was a strip club."

I thought, well, we would have made a hell of a lot more money.

Anyway, goney-gone now.

In its brief life it witnessed the first stagings of Tiny Ninja Theater, Rich Maxwell's Boxing 2000, Leigh Silverman's Brandon Teena, C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-A-R ( which went on to become the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Greg and Mark's Urinetown and about 500 other beautiful, shaggy shows. Usually when people talk about the place now, they talk about the rats and hell yes, there were rats, we even named one Gus we got to know him so well, but come on folks, it's Manhattan and we were always broke when we had that place. When I think about it, I think about the people who worked there and came in and out of the doors. I think of that crazy spiral staircase you had to navigate. I think of the look in a designer's eyes when they first caught sight of the large, open space. No columns? they'd ask and I'd nod happily.

But mostly I think of the good people who came and stayed and I wish I could thank them all again for their work and good humor. We never made a dime down there, but we made a lot of good shows and we almost always had a good time by the end of the day.

League meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning. General agreement that the draft SOP posted below is actually a Manifesto and should be reworked and titled as such. Working on a simple, clear SOP.

Excellent meeting last night with Dave Weems, Del Pentecost, Curtiss I'Cook and Nancy. Weems and I are going to write a multiple Emmy award-winning television show for Del, Curtiss and Nancy and we are all going to make, conservatively, eleven jillion dollars. Not bad at all.

All right. To work.

Monday, November 12, 2007

while the iron's hot

It was ugly, folks.

Citing the protection of a "vital national interest", Mayor "Gentleman" Mike Bloomberg after an all-night closed door session with Jerry Schoenfeld and Richard Frankel, ordered the New York City Mounted Division to break up the rabble and roustabouts calling themselves "Local One". The horsemen rode into the crowd, flanked by mysterious "Pinkerton" agents, all wielding batons, shouting "The show must go on!" The ragged men and women scattered, some tripping over their home-made "Mo' Dough or No Show!" picket signs as the tear gas eddied and drifted over Times Square.

The battle was fierce, but one-sided. The "stage-hands", as the strikers call themselves, could not organize a coherent counter-attack, due to what appeared to be some sort of internal disagreement about how many men should be on the left flank and for how long. One striker inexplicably pulled out a stool and sat on the sidewalk in the midst of the battle, reading a newspaper and claiming to be "leading the charge".

The producer's squadron of mounted goons were swift and brutal, using both batons and what appeared to be enormous sacks of US currency to bludgeon all who stood in their way, strikers and innocent citizens alike.

As the smoke and hyperbole cleared, the Rialto seemed to this reporter to be a deserted and damned place, a graveyard of all that once mattered to the Republic. The lights of the marquees blinked back on, hesitantly at first and then, gaining confidence, blazing in the cold November night. Hushed tourists slowly filed through the doors of the great Broadway houses and the immortal music of Mama Mia, Young Frankenstein and Legally Blonde struck up and could be heard, dimly, playing bravely once again.

Like I say, ugly.

Friday, November 09, 2007

gray day made bright

Cold and raining and the sun going down at 5:00 today. Saw it all driving back down from Albany. Safe and home on the Lower East Side.

Nancy and I both picked up the same cold last night at the Quality Inn, Nancy much worse, sneezing and hating life, asleep on the couch. I have a weaker or just earlier strain of the bug so I'm the designated caretaker.

Such are the balances of marriage.

This dark day made brighter by three anniversaries:

My little sister, Mary Anne Schwartz nee Clancy born today many years ago, bringing us all untold hilarity,

her daughter and my goddaughter Elizabeth Rader Schwartz, born today nine years ago, our miracle child

and also nine years ago, on the very day little Elizabeth came to us, Nancy and I moved into this apartment. Developers and bohos and bars have descended in the last long nine years, but we're still here.

So happy birthdays all around.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

family business

My sister-in-law's house is closing tomorrow. Nancy is in charge of all things Jane since Jane died back in May, so we're driving up to Albany today. Tomorrow we'll sit in a lawyer's office and talk to strangers about money.

We miss her so much.

Probably no posts until Monday.

Everyone, call your family and tell them that you love them.

It's a simple thing to do and it's the only way to insure there will be no big regrets when somebody calls you with the bad news. It's a pretty short ride, makes no sense to waste time fighting with the other passengers.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

first lap

Finished a draft of Overlord. Sat here typing all goddamned day. And now I'm typing some more, but I have a glass of Scotch next to me.

Hallelujah. It's not done, but I think I've got it finished.

On the New York Times website they have this headline:

Michael Jackson Ignores the Gossip

Isn't that the kind of headline you could have safely run any day since 1977?

Just asking.


Had a breakthrough on Captain Overlord last night. May have found a way to end the thing.

Going to go deep-sea fishing in my head and see if I can haul the bastard aboard today.

Always great when you've been working on something for awhile and you catch a glimpse of the exit light.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

corrupting the youth

The draft SOP below for the League focuses on funding, real estate, union Codes and contracts and a code of ethics for our territory. These are long-term issues and vital areas of interest.

I don't want to forget another one, though, which is harnessing the power of the university resources and student population of New York City and directing those resources and that audience to our theaters.

It's like we're living next to a reservoir and we're all still digging our own little wells. Imagine an organized, unified approach to the New York University theater department and the Columbia University School of Journalism. And those are just two departments in two institutions.

I'm not talking about conjuring up a hail of interns that are usually twice as much work to monitor as they're worth, I'm saying what if we could sit down with a dean or two and say we represent forty theaters and theater companies here in the city and we want to educate your students about the new works being created right now and we want to invite your class to an open rehearsal and talk-back and we want your arts administration class to use our theaters as their residencies, etc.?

This would take some serious organization and thinking through before we pick up a phone and call a professor, but man, we could catch those kids now and expose them to the good stuff and hook them for life.

Monday, November 05, 2007

draft Statement of Purpose

Just a draft, but how does this sound?

Statement of Purpose

The League of Independent Theater is the trade association for all entrepreneurs and artists working in theatrical venues with less than 100 seats within the five boroughs of New York City. "Indie" theater has an enormous cultural and economic impact on New York City and, by extension, the American Theatre; as such it is a national treasure and must be recognized as such. It is the de facto Research and Development wing of American theater, incubating and training the next generation of American masters and nurturing and sustaining the experimentations and new techniques that will perpetuate the discipline. It must be recognized, respected and funded as the vital resource it is.

Today, the indie theater artist is faced with unprecedented challenges, both economic and cultural. Practitioners of the theatrical arts have always honed their craft far from the bright lights and living wages of the commercial sector, eking out a livelihood while finding, establishing, and exploring their creative voices in basements, attics, converted lofts, parking lots, and found spaces throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and even Staten Island.

Entire neighborhoods have been saved by the contributions of indie theater artists who attracted audiences to once dangerous streets; those streets now host boutiques, bistros, and bodegas, and the indie theater artists who made possible the renaissance of the City are now transients in our own communities; from Greenwich Village to the Lower East Side to Williamsburg to Long Island City we have moved like peasants fleeing in slow-motion from the smiling, inevitable pogrom of urban gentrification.

Recent economic and political trends have decimated the public funding of the arts in America. A cultural war was fought and our side lost.

We reject out-of-hand the peace treaty offered; the League is our response.

The League is explicitly artist-centric. It is the individual artist, the writer, actor, director, designer and choreographer; that is the source of all economic activity in our industry. It exists, first and foremost, to fiercely advocate for its members.

We can no longer tolerate the incalculable loss of time, talent, and effort that is ensured by the volatile real estate environment in the city: a migrant community is a disposable one. Working with city officials and enlightened realtors we will secure the existing indie theater venues and make it stated public policy to create new arts centers whenever and wherever new residential and commercial building occurs.

In our sector the artists are more often than not, by choice or necessity, the ones doing the bulk of the producing and managing. The traditional barriers of labor and management are much more fluid and nominal than in the industry at large. Recognizing this, we call for a complete re-working of the existing union codes and contracts that operate in our sector. We call for this in the spirit of progress and with the clear vision and knowledge of how things actually work on the ground. The AEA Showcase Code is an anachronistic relic, doing far more harm than good to our community and by extension, to the industry at large. We will partner with AEA, in good faith, to address this vital issue. We see the Showcase Code as the single, most onerous burden that keeps our community, a community of both artists and producers, from flourishing

Our industry is Art; without the artists, no industry. Recognizing this, the League has introduced a Code of Ethics that all members must agree to and practice. The code ensures that artists, both union and non-union, are treated professionally and respectfully. It is an agreement between equals, a self-policing instrument to help guarantee a productive and positive working environment in our theaters and rehearsal halls.

The arts are the final fruit of civilization and a civilized society recognizes their centrality and insures their growth. The League will work with local, state and federal governments to create a $300,000,000.00 annual fund for the indie theater sector.

Three hundred million.

This fund will be used to secure and improve the infrastructure of our territory, enable the preservation of real estate so vital to our survival, subsidize the salaries and artist fees of our members, and train and support the next generation of American theater artists and administrators.

Every generation of indie theater artists has been forced to create a new network, find and build new spaces, move to a new neighborhood, adapt to mercurial and unforgiving economic conditions. Today, we come together to make a stand.

The League of Independent Theater welcomes artists, companies, venues, audience members and service providers to join us. If you are invested or interested in theater that occurs in venues of 99 seats or less, we are invested and interested in you. It is in our theaters and by our members that the future of the form will be forged. It is in our theaters and by our members that the future of the industry will be determined. An organized and unified approach is the only way to assure that that future will be a bright one, benefiting all.

tell me why

I don't like Mondays.

Actually not true anymore. Many good projects and little gigs make the start of the work week something I look forward to nowadays. I'm sure the drought will come and the cupboard will go bare again, so I'm enjoying this now. It's an Irish thing, I think. Certain of impending doom, we take the days of sunshine, skittles and beer and hold them tight.

Big League meeting at the end of the week. Steering Committee will see if we can get the thing out of the harbor and into the open seas. Incorporation, by-laws, all that sexy stuff.

Helping an old friend with a screenplay. I should be a board-certified script doctor, I am that good. I can cut and graft and make a dying story sing. In the immortal words of Alec Baldwin in Malice, the greatest B movie of our time:

"I don't have a god complex. I am God."

No problems with self-image to report on this Monday morning.

Friday, November 02, 2007


I was looking at the first act of Overlord last night and trying to figure out what I was doing.

Challenge is to build a very compelling and well-constructed play and then destroy it with the intrusion of the clowns. It's a lot of fun watching this slightly creaking but still servicable vehicle go off the rails, but like I say, I was trying to figure out what the point of it is.

Came up with this:

You have to think of it like you're in a zombie movie. Dead things still walking around have to be killed. They may look like living things, living things you used to know, but they're not. They're dead and they shouldn't be walking around. They have to be killed. It's as simple and as terrible as that.

And, like most zombie movies, sometimes it can be as funny as that, too.

Saw a preview of The Seafarer, Conor McPherson's latest a few days ago. Free tickets from Rachel, an old friend on the producing team. Amazing performances, especially Conleth Hill and Jim Norton, David Morse always great but with kind of the stiff, tough/silent role to carry.

It's at the Booth Theatre, my favorite Broadway house. And I don't go up to Broadway much, but when I do, the best part is still walking into the theater. Looking around, sitting down in the nice seat. As soon as the lights go down and the thing starts, the thrill inevitably starts ebbing away.

Seafarer should do well. Despite the zombies.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

goodbye, Tom and thanks for everything

So things are starting to come to a boil with the Captain Overlord project.

Great phone meeting with Robert Lyons, the tallest man in show biz, yesterday. Might be able to throw some space at us, loves the script so far, we'll talk next week.

Hilarious and very productive meeting with my old combat buddy Elena K. Holy on Tuesday. We have seen and done things that will bind us together forever, the dark and terrifying early days of the Fringe, when financial ruin and physical collapse seemed the only plausible outcomes. Elena knows every possible stage in Manhattan, she has to score twenty or so theaters every August for the festival, so she's on the hunt for Overlord.

Going down to Two Rivers Theatre tomorrow, somewhere down in Jersey, where my old friend Aaron Posner runs the show.

We're looking for two weeks in the winter to workshop, pure development time, need to screw around with the clowns and come up with a better ending. Or any ending at all, at this point. Then a weekend or so in the spring, again some space to see what we have.

Also think I've got a workable first draft of this one-man, self-reflective, arty-as-all-hell piece. Think its funny and has a point, so I'm happy.

And in a great new development, found out last night that my old collaborator C. J. Hopkins knows how to work a video camera and might be able to help with Woyzeck. Would be great to work with Chris in a new capacity, we trust each other implicitly and he's one of the very few artists I know who actually knows what he wants to do with any given piece. Takes his shit very seriously. Might even be able to help out with the text since he's living in Berlin and speaks German now.

All very good.

League is popping as well, more on that soon. Drafted a Statement of Purpose, felt like Thomas Jefferson. Might have been the powdered wig and the big-ass quill pen I was using, don't know.

And in the news today, Tom O'Horgan, famed director and father of us all, has sold his apartment on 13th Street to Zach Braff for 3.2 million dollars and is moving to a condo in Sarasota, Florida. Tom is 83 and has Alzheimers.

Tom's gone and we get Zach. Nothing against Zach, I laugh my ass off at Scrubs, but that's a sad trade.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

ripped from the headlines

Yesterday's edition, but still:

Chris Bond, Republican from Missouri (which is my home state, also the stomping grounds of our man John Ashcroft who against all odds turned out to be one of the saner of the New Crazies) was trying to defend the indefensible yesterday.

We all know we don't torture, but when we do torture, (which we don't) we don't call it torture and of course we don't torture in the first place, but sometimes there are good reasons to torture. Not that we'd ever do such a thing.

The new word is "coercion".

Talking about the information we've gained from not torturing people, Chris Bond, weak and bland as James is strong, is quoted as saying,

"Coercion has opened the dialogue."

And I was always told you were supposed to open with a joke.

And one of the great all-time obits ran yesterday, online anyway:

Khun Sa, Drug King, Dies at 73

Come on. Drug King? How cool is that? Imagine if they had to sum up your whole life and they came up with Drug King. I am the King of All Drugs! Bow before me Psylocibin! Kneel, you Narcotics and Opiates! Pledge to me, all ye Green and Leafy Herbs!

Fucking Drug King. And he dies at 73, making him Good King Drug King. And if I could get people to start calling me something like Khun Sa, I would answer without a smile.

"Is Khun Sa coming?"

"Yeah, Khun's coming, he's running a little late, but he'll be here."

"Khun! How you doing, man? This is Jim, Jim this is my friend Khun, he's that Drug King I was telling you about..."

So long, Khun, and may the heavens be empty of Feds. Guy was probably some kind of homicidal lunatic, but he scored a great obit.

More on business tomorrow, good things are popping with the League and the EIF project.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

how do you drive this thing?

Good first step was achieved last night on the long journey of actually establishing the League of Independent Theater. We have a Steering Committee. So far, this esteemed group of, in my estimation, esteemed people, includes:

Me, of course. World-class equestrian and raconteur.
Paul Bargetto, AD of East Village Commedia and bomb-thrower from way back.
John Pinckard, hot-shot young producer type, winner of that big new hot-shot young producer award.
Martin Denton, He Who Knows All, publisher, editor, man behind New York Theater Experience, Inc.
Paul Adams, AD of Emerging Artists Theatre.
Erez Ziv, Hero of East 4th Street, man who runs Horse Trade Theater, twice voted Most Likely to Become and Already Actually is a Rabbi.
Michael Gardner, one of the geniuses behind The Brick and an old Theatorium Alumni.
Abby Marcus of Vampire Cowboy Theater, by day General Manager of the Dramatists Guild, by night an actual Vampire Cowboy, smartest person in any room I've ever sat in.
Steve Kovacs, Hero of the Fringe, First Class. Awarded numerous combat stars during the Battle of El Bohio, 2000, Carrier of the Soldered Screwdriver.
Jennifer Conley Darling, whom I'm going to start calling "Dahlling!" until she tells me to stop, runs Terra Nova Collective.

Christ, I hope I'm not forgetting anyone.

This group is still forming, so if you're reading this and thinking you should be on the list, do tell. Not a lot of glory in this one, this is a working group with a hard deadline. Goals include: write by-laws, statement of purpose, determine membership categories and secure nonprofit status, all this and more by the end of the year.

Time to dance.

Monday, October 29, 2007

sox win

I married into Red Sox Nation. Nancy grew up in Greenfield, MA, wilds of the Berkshires and her father is a stone Boston fanatic. By birth I'm a Cardinals fan, but it was good to see the boys sweep the Rockies last night. I'm just imagining someone from London trying to decipher all that.

Glorious weekend up near New Paltz at Sheila and Norma's place, perfect fall weather, smoked pork by the plateful, hi-larity abounding. Smoked pork. Deserves its own sentence.

Sheila is a brilliant actress, performer and writer and as all who know her know, also a confirmed pyromaniac. If it can be burned, Sheila has probably burned it. So when we go up to their little place by the river up there in the woods, we let it burn, baby. They have a big fire pit out in the side yard and it gets very tribal. Saturday night the women all sensibly went to bed around 11:00, leaving me and a lonely bottle of single malt to guard the fire. Sat there and stared into those flames for an hour, alone, darkness all around me. Anyone watching would have thought "Time to call the authorities. Do it now while he's still planning the rampage. Quickly now. Call the police." But I was wishing no harm or foul, I was getting down to the bottom of a few things. How much did we lose when we stopped staring into fires all night? Seriously. Settles the mind in a very distinct and beautiful way.

Sunday we took a forced march into New Paltz and fell into one of those effortless quip-fests that can occur when naturally funny people relax and start laughing. Highlights include the concept of a "front-heiney" (can't go into that here), snakes on bicycles and Norma and Sheila's tandem monkey walk. Oh man. Two good people who know how to live.

Anyway, to work. Lots of writing due this week, god help me. Meeting tomorrow with Elena to talk about the Overlord project, phone meeting with Susan out at St. Annes. Have to find a big space, ideally a proscenium theater, to work on this thing for two weeks in January/February. Any ideas, please do tell. We've got some money, but I'm really looking for a place we can use for free. Imagine that.

Also, check out Zack Mannheimer's latest post, it's a good read, questioning the idea of a meaningful"community" of New York theater artists. He's at

Friday, October 26, 2007


Held a very exciting and productive nascent League of Independent Theater meeting last night. Goal is to recruit a Steering Committee to birth this beast. So gratifying to sit in a room with people smarter than yourself in so many areas and have them all nodding their heads at the same time. Feels like a good idea whose time has come. Many questions and statements and whatnots to come, I'll be looking for everybody's reaction. Watch this space as they say in the advertising bidness.

Other highlights of the week:

Jude and Ben from Grid Iron theatre are in town from Scotland, had a drink with them last night. Well, several. Known these guys for years, they won the big Carol Tambor Award a few years back, they're in town scouting for an outside location for their children's thing that New Victory is bringing over next fall. Tribal kin from another kingdom. Sitting in a bar bitching and laughing about the exact same things, knowing the ending of each other's stories as soon as we hear the set-up.

Great meeting with Audrey and Eric of Bouffon Glass Menagerie. They're thinking about Edinburgh next year, I'm pitching them to help out with the Overlord development. Need me some clowns and a good clown wrangler.

Nancy and I went out to Long Island City to see Robert Pritchard's new space, the Queensbridge Theater. Robert ran Surf Reality for years, he was a veteran when I doped onto the scene. Great to see him having a second or third act. Space is massive and Robert's business parter bought it. Oh yes. Six story warehouse in LIC, owned by the man. They are talking massive cash to make it state-of-the-art, shooting to open in the spring. From the L.E.S. to the L.I.C., Pritchard remains a pioneer, right out there ahead of the curve.

Figured out the White Stripes' Icky Thump. Start on track 6, Prickly Thorn but Sweetly Worn and you can rock right through to the end. If you have a low tolerance for faux Celtic soul nonsense, then start on track 8, Little Cream Soda. Either way, 8-13 are worth the cost of the album. Little Cream Soda, Rag and Bone, I'm Slowly Turning into You and the killer closer Effect and Cause are as good as anything these guys have done. Nancy listened to the beginning of the album a few times and said it sounded derivative. I thought, well, sure. But it's derivative of Zeppelin and AC/DC, so that's like being derivative of God. Am I spelling derivative right? Looks weird.

That's me. Hope everyone's well.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jim Croce lives!

Singing in the shower last week (I shower every week whether I need to or not), I discovered that if I drop down into my bass register and keep breathing, I'm one of the most outstanding male vocalists of all time. I'm talking stirring, soul-lifting change-your-life kind of singing. I was doing Crash Test Dummies "Superman Song" and almost made the cat cry.

Nancy and my sisters bought me a guitar for my birthday a few years back. I learned a few chords and then put it in a corner. It's still there.

So my plan is to pick that guitar back up, keep singing low and hit the Grammys around 2012.

In other news:

Black Watch is in town, absolutely worth your time and money. Saw it in Edinburgh last year and thought, "I've got to raise my game." Really beautiful stuff.

Kinderspiel closes this weekend at Under Saint Marks. Run your ass over there.

Meeting tonight with a small braintrust to jumpstart this League of Independent Theater I've been mumbling about. It's a small braintrust, not a small brain trust, if you see what I mean. Heh heh. Small brain trust. Will let you know what comes out of that.

Meantime, I'm going to work on my scales.