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?



Leonard Jacobs said...

Who is Jacobson?

CollisionWorks said...

Thanks for the shout-out, JC.

However, Berit wanted to be clear - in the interest of fairness - that while she was the one who decided on WTFC as a good nickname for Our Friend, the actual immortal phrase was coined by Moxie the Maven.


John said...

Ah, Moxie. That maven.

Leonard! Ha! Errr...

You're Jacobson. In a way. Late at night and when I'm a moron.

Sorry, brother, I will ammend.

John said...

Or amend. Jesus, I need a nap.

Aaron Riccio said...

While I agree with the nickname and general consensus that WTFC doesn't actually care about the theater he's reviewing, I don't actually mind the television references that are getting everyone so riled. So what if Caryn James compares an actor to someone from Lost? So what if Isherwood tells audiences that the play is DVDlicious? He's writing for an audience that would rather watch TV, too. However, what we SHOULD be irate about is that sentences like that are meaningless. Why can't he excite us with zingers from the script, descriptions of the scenario, or vivid depictions of the actors? I'm guilty of throwaway sentences too, but then again, I (1) don't have an editor and (2) don't write for the Times.

John said...

You're right, Aaron. The fact that a reviewer (or critic, but that distinction/argument is a whole other kettle of angry fish) uses TV references isn't in itself reason to condemn. It's just, I don't know, so lame. And when it's the Times, you think, come on.

I'm reading Postdramatic Theater and when I read shit like Isherwood's reviews, I get very worried and angry that he and folks like him, folks in positions of power and influence, don't understand the difference between live and taped performance. I mean, the essential, actual difference. They don't get it. And then I think, hey, this "new" kind of theater has been going on for over forty years. When, sweet Lord, when will you begin to recognize it? Not as something freaky and strange the kids are doing, but as theater?

Clearly there's a lot more emotion to this for me than I thought. But you're right, the use of TV references, aimed at an audience of TV watchers, isn't, in itself, reason to put the guy in the stocks.

John said...

Hey, Kettle of Angry Fish.

Like a ska band or something.

Lot of drums and wailing.

Kettle of Angry Fish and Elephant Dung Incident, touring with the New Crazies. I'd buy a ticket.

Slay said...

Um .. FYI ... DVR = Digital Video Recorder = TIVO, kinda. That Ish loves his TiVo.

John said...


You kids and your digital video whatsits. In my day, you had to drive down to the movie palace and stand in line and then...

(3 hours later)

...and half the time there wouldn't even be a second feature, not one you wanted to see anyway and then the Japanese came in and...