Thursday, January 31, 2008


It became a two-candidate race on both sides yesterday, with Rudy and Edwards seeing the light and realizing that blowing millions of dollars of other people's money just to get in the papers everyday is not a smart or honorable thing to do. I'd say so long, Johnny Hotcakes, but I got a feeling he ain't going anywhere. We'll be hearing from that boy, whether we want to or not.

And what happened to Huckabee?

Seriously, anyone know? I missed that news cycle, must have been traveling. Doesn't matter, just wondering.

So we've got four potential match-ups here. The way I figure it is,

If it's Romney, Democrats win either way. Clinton kicks his ass the old-school way, Obama makes him look old-school.

If it's McCain, it gets trickier. I think McCain can beat Clinton, because then you'll have two old-school faces battling it out and, frankly, the nation likes McCain more then they like Hilary. Just a "have a beer with" kind of bullshit liking, but sadly, that means a lot in this country. Most people wanted to have a beer with Bush more than they wanted to have a beer with Kerry four years ago, even though Bush ostensibly doesn't drink anymore. Thus making morons of us all.

Obama beats McCain handily, Johnny Mac becomes Nixon to Obama's Kennedy. The pitch becomes,

Want an old, tired white guy who's been in town forever, or this charismatic, relaxed and funny young guy?

Nation says,

Young guy, please.

You run against McCain like you're running against Bob Dole. Show a lot of respect and never engage with him. Like he's everybody's grandfather. Implicitly saying,

Old as dirt. Great guy, but come on.

Anyway, that's the morning line here at the Dime Museum.

If you like Obama, or even if you don't, you should find Parliament's Chocolate City and put it on. I guarantee you'll smile.

"Cuz I love you, CC."

Need to do the MAP Fund application for Overlord today. It's due, oh, tomorrow, I think. I have been last-minute Freddy this year, not usually my style, but damn we've been busy.

Not complaining, god knows it beats the alternative.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

final draft

Finished the Captain Overlord draft last night, polishing this morning and then its off to the actors. Great feeling when you just sort of sit with a new play, fixing the punctuation and gentling a phrase here and there. Like petting a new-born colt that just dropped out of its mother. Only not as disgusting, with all that amniotic fluid and...


I used to be good at metaphors.

Johnny Mac took Florida; bad news for those, like me, who like him except for every little thing he believes in. He would be a worthy and tough opponent in the general election and god knows we don't need that.

Rudy is set to take the Long Walk Home, maybe he already has by the time I post this. That's very, very good news. He's the smartest person in the field, a true Fascist, and prone to make terrible personnel decisions.

So long, Rudy and good luck with the fear-mongering.

75 years ago today Hitler took power in Germany, I read somewhere. Important to remember that Adolph Hitler was just a name in the newspaper once, just another goddamned guy. And the world let him alone or made fun of him. And his name slowly crept above the fold. And no one thought he'd ever really act on all of his crazy words. And he did. And the world was either too busy or too broke or too frightened to stop him right at the beginning. And he rolled through Poland. And tried to kill every Jew, every Pole, every Gypsy and every homosexual that he could. And his own people, the Germans, the most advanced, civilized society on the planet joined in the killing or looked the other way.

This is not ancient history. This is the story of the 20th century. Just a guy who gets elected in a free society, a civilized democracy, who turns out to be ruthless and a little bit crazy and very charismatic. And millions die while tens of millions stare at the ground or pretend not to see.

I'll try to perk this shit up a little tomorrow, but today is an important anniversary.

LIT Research meeting tonight and Jess Bauman's Into the Hazard (Henry Five) workshop tomorrow. Then out to Long Island to see family for the weekend. Really looking forward to that.

And how fucking brilliant are The Magnetic Fields? Holy dancing Jesus at a nightclub. Picked up their 69 Love Songs a while back. Extraordinary.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

the joint is rocking


The whole apartment is shaking from the construction they're doing at the old Theatorium site. Glasses rattling in the cupboards, floor vibrating low and ominous. There are some old buildings around here, built over a hundred years ago for poor people, so I'm just waiting for one of them to drop. It's happened before, about ten years ago we had two buildings on Stanton Street go. One just leaned out onto the street about four feet one morning, the Leaning Tenement of Stanton Street. Housing authorities came in and tore it down that afternoon. With people's shit still inside. Citing safety concerns, they wouldn't let the tenants back in. Some folks ignored them and ran in and grabbed what they could. Most didn't, just stood in the street in quiet, sad shock. The building was gone by sunset.

Nice words from Chicago about Fatboy in TimeOut Chicago. Love it when a critic gets to write "fuck" seven or eight times in a review, can tell they love it, too.

Gearing up for the Overlord Workshop, re-working some sections, mapping out some stuff I'll send to the actors before we begin.

Saw the Idiot give his State of the Union address last night. Was half-hoping he'd just stumble in drunk, shirttails out, crying a little bit and just keep repeating:

I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm a... you know, an idiot. I'm just an idiot. I'm sorry. Sorry, Daddy. Sorry, Jeb, I really fucked up your shot, I know. Should've been you, Jeb. You're the smart one. I'm sorry. I'm such a stupid dumbfuck. I really fucked everything up.

Laura shouting at him off-screen:

George! George W. Bush! You come back here!

The Idiot bursts into self-pitying tears and tries to hug Pelosi, she pushes him away. He vomits in Cheney's lap. Camera cuts away to reveal Obama and Kennedy French-kissing in a moment of unbridled passion. Camera cuts to show Clinton aiming what appears to be a large blowgun at Obama and Kennedy, placing a feathered dart into its wooden shaft. The Idiot, competely distraught now, starts tearing off his clothes and throwing his shoes at the assembled press. The commentators are silent, stunned. Russert finally summons:

Well. You don't see that everyday.

A man can dream.

Answer to yesterday's quiz:

Happy Go-Lucky Nazis.

Just like the sound of it, somehow.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Obama wins, Artaud and Gravel tie for fourth

How about Senator O? The man just needs to play a little touch football in front of some photographers and this game is over.

Saw somewhere that Mike Gravel got 240 votes in S. Carolina, which is about what I would have picked up if I had spent a weekend down there carrying a big sign saying "Vote Clancy" and buying people drinks.

Candidate Antonin Artaud, dead now sixty years and a Frenchman at that, is in a statistical dead heat with Gravel. When asked about his position on legalization of drugs by a local reporter, A.A. spouted:

There are souls which are incurable and lost to the rest of society. Take one means of madness away from them and they will invent ten thousand others...As long as we have been unable to take away any reason for human despair, we will never have the right to try and take away the means by which men try to cleanse themselves of despair...We must be left alone, the sick must be left alone, we ask nothing of mankind, we only ask them to alleviate our pain. We have evaluated our lives well, when confronted by others and particularly confronted by ourselves we know what restrictions they comprise. We know what willing decay, what self-denials, what paralysis of subtleness our sickness forces us to undergo every day. We won't commit suicide right away. In the meantime, leave us alone.

Reporter wrote down:

French guy babbled about something. Thought he was dead. Anyway...

Saw the first reading of the first part of Stolen Chair's latest last night, working title The Tragic Swashbuckler. Going to be great. Part three of their Cinetheatre Tetralogy, this time it's Errol Flynn meets Sophocles. So fucking funny and smart. Everyone needs to go to their big Pirate Party this weekend, Saturday the 2nd at the Underwater Lounge out in Dumbo. Nancy and I will be out on Long Island, partying like respectable people, but the rest of you can party like pirates. Live swordfighting, a Delphic oracle, DJs, all like that. Info and tickets at

Now about those keycards.

What genius, I ask sincerely, decided a few years back to improve on the time-honored device of a key and a lock? Something that had worked, without any public cry or complaint for, oh, three thousand years or so? Used to be, when I was a boy, the hotel clerk would give you a key and when you got to your room, you'd unlock the door and that would be that. Used to be, when I was just a lad, that the only reason a key wouldn't work was because it was the wrong key. This new invention, this improvement, works, from my personal experience, about 35% of the time.

You stand there like an idiot, sliding the card in and out, trying to figure out the right speed or force or angle, while the little lights blink red. And then you trudge your tired ass back to the desk and say, "Didn't work." And they shrug and do some goddamned thing with it and you go back to the door of your room and it still doesn't fucking work.

Bring back the fucking key, folks. This is like improving on the plate or the table or something. It works just fine. Move on. How about using all those resources and ingenuity on renewable energy or finding a cure for Crohn's Disease? Something.

Been carrying that little rant around for awhile. I'm better now.

But seriously. Is this some money-saving initiative that the hotel lobby has foisted on us? How much could a key cost?

That's kind of funny, "hotel lobby".

And to end this strange, rambling post, a quiz.

My brother-in-law sent us about 800 songs on a CD which we downloaded onto the Ipod yesterday. Great new stuff. So, of the following bands, which one did I make up? Three of them are real and rocking, one is just a great name. Winners will get... uhhhh... winners will get... uhhhhhh...the answer right.

1. Happy Go-Lucky Nazis
2. The Icelandic Motherfuckers
3. Eelwax Jesus
4. Chickasaw Mud Puppies

Take a guess.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

journey's end

And home.

Feel like a kid playing Capture the Flag, safe on homeground. In the last eight days, the grand total is something like four cities, four beds, four airports, eight or nine meetings, two shows, three or so litres of Johnny Walker Red, countless Marlboro Lights, one really stunning sunrise and just shy of ten thousand miles.

Which is nothing here in the 21st century, half of you reading can probably best that, but it occurred to me flying in from Chicago this afternoon that if you go, say, three generations back most Americans didn't travel ten thousand miles in their lives. We've become homo mobilus over the last fifty years.

Here to report to one and all that A Red Orchid Theater rocks quite steady. Saw a great performance of Fatboy last night in Chicago, beautifully directed by Guy Van Swearingen. Steve Pickering and Jennifer Engstrom tore the room up, really tremendous, funny, disturbing performances. Doug Vickers did a little stellar turn as the Judge in the second act, stealing the show without breaking a sweat, Mark Vallarta was a fucking chameleon in the second banana roles of the Tenant, Prosecutor and Slave, and a very funny chameleon at that. John Luzar did the yeoman work of the Mailman, the Bailiff and the Innocent and honestly, it rocked.

And their design was off-the-hook. Much more realized than we were ever able to pull off. Grant Sabin did the sets and Karen Kawa went fucking nuts on the costumes, hair and make-up. Matthew Gawryk did lights, Joseph Fosco did sound and music and Ann Filmer came in to choreograph the song and dance routine. Can't thank them all enough. Mostly because it would be too boring to keep typing in all these names from the program, but if you're in Chicago, go and enjoy.

Have to thank Sheila Schmidt, the stage manager and Jessica Forella, the ASM who hooked us up with the hotel.

Friday, January 25, 2008

if it's Friday, this must be Chicago

Typing this from deep inside the lap of luxury, holed up at the Embassy Suites in downtown Chicago. And when they say Suites, they get all literal on it. We slide the little key card thing into the slot, the door makes a bizarre whirring sound and we step into a suite. Living room, little hallway, bathroom to the right and a bedroom. Nancy informs me gleefully that there are three sinks in the place. I don't even care if the show is any good at this point, I'll be at the pool.

So thank you, Guy and Kristen and all the fine folks at A Red Orchid.

Hearing good things about the production. Apparently a blood pack went flying a few nights back, drenched a critic in the second row. I'm thinking:

"Blood pack? Really? All right."

My folks are flying up from St. Louis this afternoon to see the show, so we should have a great afternoon. We're old traveling companions, the four of us; been to the wilds of Australia and the finest restaurants in Buenos Aires and even stood at the foot of a glacier in Patagonia together. They know Chicago well, so they'll be our guides.

May try to hook up with my old buddy Greg Allen, he of the Neo-Futurists. Known Greg about twenty years and I've never seen his theater. That's what happens when you live in a bunker, I guess.

Times endorsed Clinton. Makes sense.

More later on the inanity of key cards, the hilarity and genius of Antonin Artaud and the tragic figure of Dr. Freeman, the Lobotomist. Right now, I'm jumping into that pool.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

last lap

Off to Chicago this morning to see A Red Orchid's Fatboy. CNN just told me it was -4 degrees in Chicago. Negative four and that's without the wind chill. Holy gamoley, it's cold outside.

Lovely moment last night. Elena K. Holy, our old partner in crime and art and all other things, was in the neighborhood for some meetings so we all met up at the Parkside Lounge. Then we bought the cheapest bottle of champagne that Tony sells, grabbed three paper coffee cups from the bodega and stood in front of the building site that was the Theatorium. Toasts and memories, R.I.P. Theatorium.

And while I'm at it, why can no one pronounce Elena's name? I've heard countless variations over the years, so here's the phonetic tip:

Uh-lee-nuh Holy. Holy, not Holly. Uhleenuh Holy. Not Uh-lay-na Holly.

Good to get that off my chest.

Piece in the paper today about how his Republican rivals can barely disguise their dislike of the Mittbot. Well...

He's a robot from outer space, after all. Sent here from some superior, technologically advanced civilization. Would you want to hang out and have a cup of coffee with something like that? Course not.

Bill Coelius had to drop out of the Overlord Project, which is a crying shame. But into the breach steps young Chris Yeatts, one of the city's true unknown heavy-weight actors. Worked with Chris up in Maine a few years back, became the backbone of a very strong ensemble. Really can't wait to get in the room with all of these people and see what this thing is.

All right.

Negative four without the wind chill. I'm going to go buy a parka. And a dogsled.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

get LIT

Forgive the recent lack of League of Independent Theater news on this blog, been running and gunning on some other projects of late. I want to thank Nick over at Rat Sass for pointing out that we would do well to keep all of the developments and thoughts of the Steering Committee out in the open for concerned members of the territory to weigh in on. As a matter of public record, the Steering Committee is:

Paul Bargetto
John Pinckard
Nancy Walsh
Erez Ziv
Bill Coelius
Robert Honeywell
Abby Marcus
Martin Denton
Leonard Jacobs
Shay Gines
Michael Goldfried
Morgan Tachco
Jennifer Darling
Steve Kovacs
Michael Gardner

God I pray that's everyone. Sorry if I dropped you, just let me know.

We met just about every Wednesday morning at 8:30 from November until the holidays hit and people started getting crazy with their own end-of-the year stuff. Abby, thanks to the Dramatists Guild, gave us a nice room and free coffee, which almost made it worth it getting up that early.

A few things that I believe I've put out there before but are worth repeating:

1. LIT is not a single-issue organization. The reform of the Code is a vital and urgent task that we will work to achieve with any and all partners. But in addition to this, we plan to:

create a comprehensive economic survey of the territory
work with enlightened realtors to preserve and create 99 seat theaters in the city
present an organized and informed voice to the feds, the city and the state to fiercely advocate for the territory
introduce a Code of Ethics to the territory, some general principles to maintain a professional and respectful workplace for all of us
raise 300 million dollars as an endowment for our individual members

and lots of other stuff. Which brings me to the second point:

2. We're still working on this. We broke down into some committees in order to get some things done faster. Robert Honeywell is heading the Legal Committee, since he's the only lawyer in the room. His fascinating and rewarding job is to draft some bylaws and guide us through the maze. Due to his and Nancy Walsh's research, we've decided to incorporate as a 501(c)6, which is, (if you don't know your nonprofit arcana), a business league with no limitation on advocacy, as opposed to a 501(c)3, which is more of a charity. Robert's still in the process of this.

3. Leonard Jacob's heading up the Research Committee, which is initially concerned with drafting the Economic Survey. Without real numbers, we're just doing the same old "scream and cry and bitch" routine when we sit in a room with politicos and business people. We're not saying we deserve respect and money because we're culturally imporant, we're saying we deserve real respect and real money because we're an economic engine that this city depends on.

4. Martin Denton is head of the Financial Committee, which is pretty inactive because we don't have any money yet.

5. Paul Bargetto is heading the Communications Committee, since he cares more passionately about this than anyone, which is saying a lot.

6. There are other committees, of course, Membership, Web, etc.

It's definitely time to move the discussion back into a wider realm. The Steering Committee idea was to get some focused conversation and to generate some ideas in an organized and timely manner. That was part of the impulse behind the podcast I did for with Leonard. Anyone wanting more information or willing to help out with their time and energy is much, much more than welcome to email me or call me or any of the Steering Committee members. We could use some help. Kyle at Blue Coyote Theater has reached out, we're talking this week, I hope.

Next step is to get the thing born. Robert's working on that.


Home and safe on the Lower East Side, four legs done on this six-legged beast of the 3 cities on 2 continents in 8 days whirlwind blitzkrieg roller-coaster ride. Thursday we're in Chicago to see A Red Orchid's production of Fatboy. Rob Kowzloski saw the first preview Friday night and he liked it, so all is good in the City of Broad Shoulders.

My internal clock is all screwed-up so I'm up at 2:30 in the morning, wide-awake. One good thing is that I can do some business with England and Germany, they're just waking up and having their tea and sausages now.

The Edinburgh trip was a good one, met up with all of the Edinburgh International Festival folks in their amazing office at the Hub, right at the top of the Royal Mile. We met with Marketing, Logistics, Technical and the Man Himself, Jonathan Mills. The funny thing was that they all admitted right at the top that they had no idea who we were or what we do. Not a clue. The jury panel that awarded the prize was a separate entity, so here are all these nice Scots smiling at us and saying:

"And so, what kind of work do you do?"

And Nan and I are smiling back, saying:

"Really crazy, loud, fast-as-hell shit."

And they're nodding and writing it down.

We made everyone we met laugh at least once, and that's usually a good indication that you can work together.

Also met up with Laura at the Traverse Theater, spent that entire meeting laughing, don't know if it was jet-lag or if I hit a groove. Gave her all of the scripts, stumbled off.

Missed the debates last night, Tuesday night, whenever it was. Somebody fill me in. All I'm hearing is that Barack decided to take on Bill mano y mano, which sounds like a dumb idea to me. But then again, running against the Clintons you have to start playing 3-D chess and thinking eleven moves ahead. They are very, very good.

And Big Fred is ambling slowly away from the limelight, back to the little screen. Fred, we hardly knew ye.

All right. I'm going to get on the horn and yell at some Brits.

Monday, January 21, 2008

dateline Edinburgh

Sitting alone in the lobby of the Premier Inn on Lauriston Place, hunched over the keyboard, a dark Monday morning rolling by outside. Sun comes up around 11:30 AM around here this time of year, looks down briefly and then drops like a stone.

Dr. King's day, today. From the great speech:

"...we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity in this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice."

Holy god. What a mind, what a heart.

And as long as we're quoting (much easier than thinking things up on your own), this is from today's Guardian, still the world's greatest newspaper by far. This is Gary Younge writing about the Republican field. There's more and better coverage about our elections over here than you're ever going to get from the Times.

"Chinese terrorists are streaming across the border. Barack Obama is a violent socialist. Mexico has been launching military attacks against America. God has endorsed Mike Huckabee. Spend a week with Republicans in South Carolina and you will hear the most incredible things. That a small minority in any group might say crazy things is not surprising; it is when the majority don't dismiss them as crazy that you start to worry."

He goes on to brilliantly and hilariously dissect the field.

Had our preliminary lunch meeting yesterday with Sally Hobson at the International Festival. Clarified a lot for all of us. Essentially, they have no idea, nor should they, about how we work and what would be most helpful for us. Told her that New York artists of my generation are best understood as either feral children or members of a cargo cult. She laughed, but when I elaborated, she started to get it. Big meetings today and Nancy is going over to the Traverse this afternoon to pitch The Event. All in all, having fun and getting things done.

Now, all you men of my age, its a sad day. Suzanne Pleshette, the hottest of the 70s TV hotties, dead from lung cancer at 70. Had a great life and will forever live in my mind, half-naked and staring meaningfully at me with those beautiful eyes.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

the ghost of Ernie Pyle

Your far-flung correspondent logs in, holed up in an internet cafe on Howe Street, Old Town, Edinburgh. It's ugly out there on this quiet Sunday morning, fear and Lothians everywhere. Been trying to work that phrase into a joke for years, guess I'll have to settle with that.

Dealing with this goddamned UK keyboard, where they hide the @ sign and have moved the shift key somewhere. Tempted to just leave all the \\2## bullshit in, give you a sense of my struggle, but that would make this jet-lagged ramble even less intelligible, I fear. Isn't this the kind of thing we should standardize here in the era of Late Capitalism, like which side of the road we drive on and how we pronounce "schedule"?


Woke up about thirty hours ago in a spare bedroom in a ranchhouse outside of Philadelphia after staying up all Friday night with Melanie Stewart, Nan and Mel's husband Tom Fontana, arguing politics of all things. Me, talking politics. It was a first. Long, interesting, lively discussion which I can boil down to:

I was right, everyone else was wrong and I should be running the world or at least the Obama campaign.

Friday night we saw some of the nEW Festival, Melanie's dance thing. Amazing. Seven artists doing about ten minutes of their new stuff. If anyone is nearby, go see this. It plays tonight, Sunday, and then I think its over. Beautiful people moving around the stage doing funny, scary and astounding things. I'm always energized and humbled when I watch new American dance. So much more interesting than 95% of new American theater.

Drove back yesterday to Rat City, unpacked Philly, packed up Edinburgh, out to Newark and the big old jet airliner dropped us down here in Scotland six hours later. Sweet Nan's crashed out at the hotel, didn't sleep on the plane. I got a few hours so I'm getting all caffeinated and pounding this keyboard, alarming the locals.

We're staying in the same neighborhood we lived in last August, so this is my old Internet haunt, completely different people running it. Might walk by the old apartment and spit and curse. Bad days last August.

Meeting someone for lunch, then prepping for the big meetings tomorrow. So nice to be in this town without the pressure of opening a show in nine hours.

So Johnny Mac took South Carolina, which raises mixed feelings for me. Love the guy, don't want him as an opponent, because I think he's the only one in the Republican field who can take the country away from the Democratic nominee. Everyone is also expressing amazement that Clinton is still in it, to which you have to say:

She's been putting this in place for over twenty years. Are you kidding? She's no fluke, no novelty. She's got money and supporters and friends who have sworn blood oaths all over the country. If Barack can keep it close until the Big Day in February, then we'll see what happens. But, come on. She's Hilary Clinton.

All right. That cost me about fifteen pounds right there, working out of the cafe. And that's about eighty bucks American these days.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday, start your engines

This is the last morning for the next eight days that I can do this, my morning routine. Wake up next to Nan, the Fat Bunny curled at the foot of the bed, stagger to the kitchen, make the coffee, smoke a cigarette in the stairwell, turn on the old laptop, check the email and the Times, type something up for the blog. We're on the whirlwind tour starting this afternoon, three cities on two continents in eight days. Philly tonight, off to Edinburgh tomorrow, home briefly late Tuesday and Chicago on Thursday. Technically home on Wednesday, but we'll be all jet-lagged and weird.

Checking the paper today, Bobby Fischer dead. One of the last rebels. Up there check-mating God, let's hope. Also, more Cheney craziness. The guy's like Stalin, sometimes.

Want to take the time to publicly name, thank and praise the actors we didn't cast for the Overlord workshop. Nancy and I truly had such a good time seeing and working with these people on Wednesday. Anyone looking for some attractive young talent in this city, you could do a lot worse than:

Emily Loeb, Amanda Sayles, Jessica Chandlee Smith, Kate Fabel and Jenny Zerke.

And Brandon Woolcot, Matt Schock, Kyle Fabel, Scott Price and Patrick Taylor.

Some seriously good actors, those.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

300 and counting


Lots of rich guys losing their shirts today.

this business we call show

Been thinking this through for a few days, think I've got it:

Theater is not a business, as much as we all pretend it is. There's money involved and professionals and offices and economic studies and all of that, but theater is not a business.

It's a vice.

And like most vices, its there for society's good and should be somewhat regulated. Theater has more in common with gambling, prostitution and drug-dealing than it does with real estate, banking or any other actual business. I'm talking in a nuts-and-bolts, day-to-day sense, not making some grand metaphorical statement. At every level, from the guy starting up his own operation in a little storefront somewhere in Brooklyn to the bigshots swanning around up in midtown, we behave more like pimps or drug-dealers or cardsharks than responsible buttoned-down businesspeople.

Our customers are there for the thrill, not because it makes any sense to buy our product. Our employees, our workers, aren't in it for the security, they're crazy, ambitious, addicted dreamers. We behave like benevolent pimps towards them, not like senior management types. You can take this just about in every direction and as far as you want and I think it holds up.

This is not a business. Bottom line, that's not a helpful model to have in your head when you're out there trying to do it. It's a vice.

Think we might have a cast for the Overlord thing. Very funny day yesterday, watching so many talented people reading the words.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

mostly vegas

Watched most of the Nevada debates, kept getting phone calls I had to take about the auditions tomorrow. Missed some stuff, probably the most important exchanges.

I hope so, anyway.

The whole thing felt like standing in the lobby of a swanky hotel uptown, watching two elegant, very well-dressed society matrons politely but insistently elbowing each other out of the way while they speed up, carefully, to catch the same cab. They can't openly run or scratch or tackle one another, but they both really fucking want that cab.

Edwards was just the loud out-of-towner shouting "Taxi!" facing in the wrong direction.

Theater business first, you can read this and if you don't give a fuck about the future of our Republic, then you can zip off and watch your porn or whatever it is you do.

Still need people for the Overlord auditions tomorrow, or at this point, today. Have slots between 3 and 5 and 6 and 8.

Just come by. 3-5 at the Kraine, 6-8 down at the Ohio. Refer to previous post for breakdown. Call me if you're coming, if you don't know me, I'm not that hard to get to. Call someone who knows me, insist that they give you my number.


Some politics.

First, here are the banners we should be seeing:

Obama: Change You Can Believe In (meaning Hilary is a Liar)
Clinton: Ready for Change (meaning Barack is a Child)
Edwards: Spare Some Change? (meaning I am so Fucked, VP again? Pleeeeeaazzze?)

Don't mean to laugh at John, miracles happen and he's probably, deep down, not a complete Southern-fried fraud. But.

What I saw on the TV gave me a lot of enormously needed hope that one of those motherfuckers is going to win in November.

Really liked Clinton's coining of "green-color" jobs. Never heard that before. Like it.

But when they asked the candidates to cop to their own "strengths and weaknesses", I think the field became clear. And again, I'm a confessed Obama man, but still.

Edwards was just:

I'm a fighting bastard! I fight! I fought on the fucking playground, man! I fought before I thought a blessed thing in my poor-boy head! Fight! I'm Truman! How about that? Truman, goddamnit!

And everyone's just like,

Sure, John. Probably true. But then you went on to make a zillion dollars, sit on your rich white ass and at some point decide that politics is where the real game is at. Not buying it.

Obama was, as he usually is when he's relaxed, clear, human and funny. He said his strength is bringing people with different views or backgrounds together to solve a common problem and his weakness was organization, saying he tells his staff:

Don't hand me a piece of paper until two minutes before I need it. Otherwise, I'll lose it.

Drawing one of many Obama laughs from the crowd.

Senator Clinton went last in this round, and she broke my heart with her answer because, as previously confessed in a previous post, I love this person. She spoke beautifully and eloquently and the only problem was that she sounded like she was the spokesperson for a very good and well-established foundation. She sounded like she was the American Cancer Society or something. It was all true and lovely, but it was so completely impersonal. And then, foolishly, foolishly, she tried to take Obama's answer and compare him to the Idiot. It must have felt like the right thing to do in the moment, again, they're so carefully trying to fight each other, but it went nowhere. It was like a half-hearted lob that Barack just crushed back to her.

Here's a simple, casual thing that happened. In response to a question, Obama is talking about energy policy and he says, thing I know about Nevada, folks got a lot of sun here."

Drawing another laugh. Mostly because of the phrasing. Most folks sitting out there are thinking,

Sounds like my brother-in-law. Or my old high-school buddy. Or me, actually. He's a Senator?

All of which is to say, Clinton is starting to look like the best VP candidate in modern memory. Experienced, smart, a party loyalist, ready to fight, knows where all the bodies are buried, can rouse the base and, as she keeps saying, ready to take the reins from Day One.

Have to admit, John had me with his heartfelt and insistent call out to the 200,000 veterans sleeping right now, as I type this and as you read this, doesn't matter what the time gap between those two events is, the 200,000 (which is a conservative estimate, no real way to count these guys), veterans, folks who volunteered for the armed forces, who are right now sleeping under bridges and on grates in this Great Land.

I've done that, slept in those places, with those guys, years ago and voluntarily as a young white kid looking for adventure. I slept and woke and scrounged for food with those guys he's talking about (and he's the only one talking about them) and believe me now, if you're ever going to believe me, it's a fucking crime that's going on. A crime, literally, like someone should serve time for doing this to another person, sit in a prison cell for doing that to a guy who volunteered to take a bullet and/or kill a stranger to protect the United States of America.

I got close to two guys up in Alaska years ago, Steve and Dave. Both vets, Vietnam vintage, both drunks. Both ready and prepared to die on the streets, probably of hypothermia, possibly of some violent stupidity. Neither one of them was David Halberstram or Wesley Clark. They were hungry, addicted, opportunistic, generous people I ran into. But they were both American citizens who served in the armed forces and it was their experience in the armed forces that shaped and scarred them and made them pretty much useless to society for the rest of their days. And society gave them back nothing. Our government gave them back nothing. Dave got a check for 400 bucks a month. Which we all went through in about three days up in Ketchikan in the summer of 87.

So, a nod to Senator Edwards. That poor boy made good, no question, and he's saying the right things.

But I feel something else going on around here.

More later on the Democratic field's chickenshit response to the Second Amendment argument.

Please, dear god, if you're still reading, come by and audition for me tomorrow.

Need to see some lovely young actors.

Need it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

one hundred years ago

I'm reading all of this stuff written by painters one hundred years ago and it all feels like it was posted by some angry theater blogger yesterday. Here's Kandinsky writing about theorists and critics, (emphasis mine):

There are also philosophers of aesthetics who write profound books about an art which was yesterday condemned as nonsense. In writing these books they remove the barriers over which art has most recently stepped and set up new ones which are to remain forever in the places they have chosen. They do not notice that they are busy erecting barriers, not in front of art, but behind it.

And later in the same paragraph:

Theory is the lamp which sheds light on the petrified ideas of yesterday and of the most distant past.

The parallel is obvious, I guess. These were guys (mostly all guys) trying to move a mummified art form forward, bored with "creating a window" or "representational accuracy" or whatever. Critics and patrons were intrigued but deeply distrustful and frankly a little spooked by what the artists were putting out. Imagine the first time anyone ever looked at a Cubist painting. With no context, no one telling you it was a masterpiece, you'd probably think one of two things:

This is complete bullshit, where's the real painting?


This is a joke, right? You're putting me on, seeing how big an idiot I am?

The beginnings of a thing are never clear and a baby doesn't look like a complete person you should take seriously.

Nancy and I rocked that APAP yesterday. Matt was OK, didn't drag us down, anyway. Now we're strapping in for the big auditions tomorrow. And then Edinburgh on Saturday.

Ah, Scotland in January. Sun goes down around 1:30 in the afternoon, howling winds, drunken Lothians everywhere.

It's a sight to see.

Monday, January 14, 2008

auditions Wednesday


I'm seeing some people for the Captain Overlord's Folly workshop at the Ohio in February. Need me some beauties. Here's the breakdown:

Tom Hatcher: 21-25, young handsome romantic lead. English accent, comic, earnest and heroic. Workman, from lowly origins, but a man of energy, principle and honor. Poses a bit, unconsciously, but believes fully in the coming socialist revolution and is prepared to do what it takes to hasten the day.

Sue Chester-Hampshire-Shireshire: 18-22, young pretty romantic lead. English accent, comic, smart and headstrong. A bit spoiled, madly in love with young Tom. Incredibly sexually repressed, just waiting to explode, but still a nice young lady.

Both should be sort of ridiculously attractive, classic young lover types.

Gig is Feb. 4-15, M-F days, showing Feb. 17. 50 bucks a day, don't need everyone every single day.

If you are one of these people or know someone who wants to play around with some very fine artists in February (my whole old regular crew is in the show), email me at and we'll hook it up. Having afternoon auditions at the Kraine and evening auditions upstairs at the Ohio.

Thanks, all.

sxip, the horned god

So last Thursday I amble into the deep hipitude that is Joe's Pub. I'm seeing Sxip Shirey's Hour of Charm, so I perch at the bar and wait for Brian Parks to join me, we're going to scheme on Edinburgh while watching the show. Sxip played the Theatorium back in the early 1880s, right after the Civil War and all that. We're old compadres. Part of the variety hour is 500 Clown out of Chicago and part of 500 Clown is my old college buddy Adrian Danzig, so, let the games begin.

I have to tell you friends and acquaintances, it was the finest hour of fun and amazement in recent memory. Adrian's crew is incredible, I saw the best hula act I've ever seen (and weirdly, I've seen a lot of hula acts over the last few years), a group of lovely ladies sang totally crazy, beautiful "country songs from other countries", Greg Wallach told his rightly famous "cake story" and wrapping it all up and keeping it all together was Sxip Himself.

Rare for downtown artsy folks, Sxip tolerates zero irony on his stage. He made a point of it, right at the top of the show, which chilled the crowd for a moment. He said,

"This isn't the cynicism show. If you want that show, it's playing down the street in that direction and down the street in that direction and over there and over there and over there."

Pointing in every possible direction.

And then he did this thing with a modified, amplified, rocket-fueled flute that left us all just staring at him with our mouths open. It was like watching Pan call in the Apocalypse. Seriously. He'd breathe out through the flute and it would be like:


And then he'd breathe in and it would be:


And then he'd start playing a song with that, using the keys of the flute as percussion. And then start singing in this crazy-ass old Tibetan voice.

No way to describe it. Mind-melting shit.

This is what I wrote at the bar, immediately after my mind resumed its former shape:

It's a strange thing Sxip Shirey does. It's probably unclassifiable, like most hugely interesting things are. Yeah, it's music. It's performance. He introduces himself as "an actual circus and theater composer". Which he is.

But what he most of all is, to me, is that 11 year old best friend of yours who never quite grew up (in the good way) and is still widely and wildly fucking around. With joy. And talent. And instruments he's just now invented. And you watch him, giggling at times and then absolutely stunned at others, as he defies possibility and expectation right there in front of you.

A strange thing Sxip does. An ancient, human thing. Like human sacrifice and agriculture, something we've been doing ever since we became us. There's wonder and some terror in what he does, but most of all it's funny and direct and astounding.

Quite a night.

Other random news:

Nancy and Matt and I rocked our little corner of APAP yesterday. Three more showings today, 4:10, 5:10 and 6:10 at the Alvin Ailey Studios, Lower Level, 54th and 9th. It's only ten minutes of Fatboy, so don't quit your jobs or anything, but if you're around its a lot of fun.

Saw that Kerry endorsed Obama, which is a little bit like Keith Richard becoming your Narcotics Anonymous sponsor. Probably not going to help much, but you'll hear some good stories.

And if you're a huge podcast fan (and who isn't, really?) check out

and you can hear me and Leonard Jacobs talking about the League of Independent Theater and my favorite cuss words.

It was kind of a weird conversation.

Now let's get busy on this Monday morning.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

pocono madness and APAP

Took off Friday morning for the Poconos, part of the Walsh Natal Day Week celebrations. Most New Yorkers forget that our fair city is only 63 miles from the Delaware Water Gap which is one of the most outrageously beautiful things on the continent. Shoot the gap and you're in the Poconos.

The wife and I are fans of the Pocono's Caesar's Palace. Very crazy, funny place. Heart-shaped jacuzzi in the room, a round bed for some reason, mirror's everywhere. Got to say, there are few things more confusing than a round bed.

Since they can't have gambling for some civic or state reason, they go wildly overboard on games, sports, etc. 24 hour regulation-sized basketball court, squash, huge indoor pool, tennis, indoor mini-golf, nice wooden backgammon boards everywhere, all very well-maintainied and hilarious. They don't allow children, so its this massive playground for adults.

Nan crashed early so I'm standing alone on this basketball court wearing only my bathing suit at midnight missing free throws. Then I jump in the pool, splash around, and then back to the bar for a nightcap. Doing the full-on HST gonzo routine, sitting at the bar wearing a wet bathing suit, slippers, a big windbreaker thing and my black wool watchcap. Everyone slowing moving away, trying not to catch my eye.

Need to spread the gospel of Sxip Shirey, who made me stay up all night on Thursday and drink with a bunch of circus folk, but no time. It's the day of the big APAP thing and I've got to learn my lines.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

big blue world

We've been putting the "world-wide" back into the theatrical of late.

Currently scheming with Germany, Scotland, England and Malta yes I said Malta. We're going to Edinburgh at the end of next week for a meeting with the EIF folks and just scheduled a meeting at the Traverse as well. For those who don't know Edinburgh, the Traverse is the one legit theater there, operates year-round and is one of the premiere Fringe venues. They have the best theater bar in the city and the work is always top-notch. We did a week of Horse Country there five years ago. Trying to get them to bite on The Event, a one-man thing I wrote for Matt Oberg.

Germany and England would be for America the Beautiful, the new CJ Hopkins thing. Maybe rehearse in Berlin in June or July and then bring it back for a short run in September.

And Malta. Did I mention Malta? Got a request from Malta for a copy of Fatboy. So I wrote back saying, "You know, we tour. And we ain't never been to Malta." Guy over there seemed interested, so we're talking later this week.

Malta. Had to look it up on the globe, took me about five minutes just to find the bastard.

Would be good to travel around for awhile. Have pretty much been stateside for the last 18 months, with a few short journeys here and there. I've found you appreciate NYC and the good old USA a lot more when you've been away for a stretch.

Yes, our country is going through some severely dark days, but I tell you, it's still the best place to be in the world.

Scrappy Jack a patriot?

You bet your flag-waving ass.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

ballroom blitz

More on the Melanie Stewart Dance gig:

I'm writing a thing called, for now, Time to Dance. It's an exploration/spoof/implosion of the Dancing with Your Mom type shows, directed by Melanie. I have a ten page thing with the host, Bill Holdover, the celebrity Buck Harlan and his dancing partner Rita. Very hard not to just rip-off CJ Hopkins and do a screwmachine/eyecandy thing, but I think its mostly my voice so far.

Here's the big difference between New York and Philadelphia:

We rehearsed yesterday in a huge, clean studio on Broad Street, which is the main street down there. Fourth floor, windows looking out onto the main drag, everyone calm and relaxed. Walking to the studio I pass a bus stop and there's a huge poster for some small Philly theater company's next show. A bus stop poster, friends.

Contrast that to the Big Dirty. We would have been lucky to get rehearsal space in a dark room half the size, way downtown. Instead of the bus stop poster there would have been a stack of postcards on a table outside of the room. And that would be it.

Man. Hard times in New York town.

And here's the beautiful synchronicity:

I'm on the bus yesterday and I've got the Mysterians cranked up and then I put it on Shuffle Songs and Tia Carrere's cover of Ballroom Blitz from the Wayne's World soundtrack comes on. And I listen to it about forty times in a row. And I play it for Melanie and it's going to open the show now and we may even call the thing Ballroom Blitz.

And the man in the back said everyone attack
And it'll turn into a ballroom blitz
And the girl in the corner said boy, I'm gonna warn you
It'll turn into a ballroom blitz.

Ballroom blitz.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

signed, sealed, delivered?

Hilarious day in Philadelphia and a raucous night up in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire first.

As I type, AP and CNN have called it for Clinton. Just saw her give her victory speech. I fucking flat-out love this woman, by the by, don't know if I've ever confessed this publicly before.

I'm an Obama man, but I love me some Hillary. She's my Mom if my Mom had married a politician. She's smart, disciplined, deeply moral, suffers no fools. If you know my Mom you know what I'm talking about. Love her.

Still an Obama man, me, but Hillary has earned and deserves all of our deep respect.

Her speech was mostly bullshit, but damn, did anyone catch the Yes We Can speech Obama gave? I'm crying on my couch. Clapping like an idiot, sitting alone in my living room.

Here's the crazy shit: Obama walked off the stage, after giving what was supposed to be a concession speech, to the blaring strains of Stevie Wonder's Signed, Sealed, Delivered.


I'm Your's.

Heavy message. Saying: it's done. I'm there. Get on board.

Hillary, with weaker writers, I guess, opened with "...blah blah after listening to your voices for a week, I found my own voice."


Just now? You just found the thing?

Really? Who knew it was hiding in Durham, NH all these years?

In the second sentence of her speech she declared herself Comeback Kid II, with the original just off to her left. Again, we have to say,


After one loss? After leading all national polls for over a year? Is this a comeback or just, say, an adjustment? Not that we here at the Museum know what the fuck really goes on on these levels, but, still...


Again, swearing honest love towards Hillary, I have to break it down like this:

Senator Clinton's entire argument, which is a good one and one I will support if it comes down to it, is:

"Yes, you morons, I have a vagina but I also have balls. And I've been there. I know this game. I've been right there. And I have a steady hand. I won't make one single freshman mistake, which is the one thing we can't afford."

As opposed to Congressman Obama's message:

"Hey! Brand new ballgame! Anyone want to play?"

And to most of us, the answer is:

Hell, yes! Bring it on!

Which is why Hillary is probably going to lose.

And someone, anyone, has to tell her to quit with the fake podium off-microphone bit of "seeing-a-person-in-the-crowd-and-being-surprised-and-genuinely-touched-that-they're-there-and-mouthing-with-utmost-sincerity-"thank-you" bit. We've seen it in too many movies. Even if it's real, and Hillary probably knows 70% of New Hampshire's population on first name basis after the last 18 years, it still rings phony as fuck.

So we've got a race on our hands. Good.

Quite a night up there in the Northeast. Crazy world.

Down south in Philly I enjoyed a full-out laugh riot during rehearsals for Time to Dance by Melanie Stewart Dance. I wrote some stuff for them and they just went wild, improvising, improving, doing all sorts of dance-like things. Love working with dancers.

Signed, sealed, delivered?

Not quite yet, Mr. Congressman.

just like old times

I'm climbing on to the Chinatown bus this morning and winging down to Philadelphia, just as I did every Monday, Wednesday and Friday all of long last year. Then it was to teach at Rowan University, this morning I'm going down to work with Melanie Stewart Dance on a new piece. Love working with dancers, they are so rarely in their heads.

Reading the Collected Works of Antonin Artaud last night, caught this:

I would like to make a Book to disturb people, like an open door leading them where they never would have gone of their own free will. Simply a door communicating with reality.

Love that second sentence.

Russell's Under the Radar opens tomorrow. Go and see everything if you can. When the final game is scored and put into the record books, Mark Russell will most certainly be our MVP.

Charging up the I-Pod for the bus ride. I plan to play ? and the Mysterians Cameo Parkway, over and over, for the entire two hour trip. I remember reading Lester Bangs going on and on about these guys and, as usual, he was right. It's like a viral thing that gets in your ear. But in a good way.

Something going on up in New Hampshire today?

Monday, January 07, 2008

with a bang

Back like a bastard on this cool Monday morning. January is going to be non-stop, with gigs and big-time meetings in Scotland, Philly and Chicago, our first ever APAP appearance, writing deadlines falling like deadwood and all sorts of assorted whatnot. Strap in and hold onto something tight. 2008 has begun.

Highlights of the holidays include a snowy Christmas in Greenfield, sitting quietly in the Walsh compound, hilarious hours with my nieces in St. Louis and a re-connection with my old partner in crime, both literal and metaphysical, Christian Saller. Christian was my best man at my wedding and used to style himself The Menthol Nitelife back in the old S. Taylor daze of my youth. He's the only philosopher-king I've ever met and Christ we had some times. He's living quietly in St. Louis with the wonderful Rene and three cats, passing himself off as a solid citizen. Oh, but we know better in our hearts, don't we Christian?

Christmas swag, besides the ubiquitous sweaters:

The complete West Wing. I'm talking all seasons, I'm talking Toby and Donna and Josh and Sam and Charlie and every line Sorkin ever wrote. I will never, willingly, leave the house again.

Gonzo, the oral biography of Hunter S. Thompson. Every terrible thing you've ever heard is true.

The Bose sound dock thing for the I-Pod thing. Can't believe we're calling it a sound dock. Does that make the I-Pod some kind of boat? I've gone into complete ITunes obsession now, feverishly downloading music, trying to fill the bottomless pit. Deeply addictive behavior.

And how about my man Barack Hussein? Great day in the morning. Poor Hillary looked like she was still reeling in those debates Saturday night. Mr. O grew about five feet taller, he's starting to look like the Lincoln statue, sitting there all wise and massive. Opened up a double-digit lead in New Hampshire and, friends, we may just have a candidate.

In the latest sign of desperation, the Clinton camp is considering spreading rumors in South Carolina that Barack and Michelle have a black baby daughter. Wait a minute. That's wrong on so many levels.

All right. To work. Hungry mouths to be fed around here.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

on this, the glorious day

Fellow homo sapiens!

I greet you with great joy on this, the glorious day of her birth! Some years ago, a child was born to us and lo, she grew to become Nancy Eileen Walsh and she dwells among us! We who know her bountiful goodness give thanks this day for her awesomeness and full-on rockingness. Yea, she rocks.

Bring forth the gifts and prizes! Cash is always in good taste! Let there be brunches and Bloody Marys and other such enjoyments!

As is our hallowed custom, we shall celebrate and be festive for at least one full week, starting on this, the actual day.

I wish all of you the joy of knowing such a human and entreat all of you to praise her and call her on this, the glorious day, since most people forget because its such an awful time to have a birthday!

May the joy and peace of whatnot shine forever in your heart.