Friday, February 29, 2008

words fail

Our dear friend Merlyn Carney bought us tickets to see k.d. lang play the Lincoln Center's Allen Room last night.

We sublet Mer's apartment on the Upper West Side back in the early 90s when Mer went out to L.A. Out there under the palms Merlyn made many friends, as she's one of the loveliest and sweetest and funniest people on the earth and one of the great friends she made was...

k.d. lang.

Now, I've heard Ms. lang sing on many recorded musical devices. I've heard her on the radio, on the CD player, even heard her warble away on my own Ipod. But Holy God Almighty.

I mean, Great Merciful God.

I have seen many, many things live and up close and personal. I used to work at the New York International Fringe Festival. I've spent some time overseas. I've been to Kansas City and two state fairs but I have never seen anything like I saw last night.

I could blather on indefinitely and have fun doing it, but honestly words fail. All I can say is it was like seeing every man, woman, child and angel you've ever heard sing that could sing and having it all come out of this smiling, bemused, relaxed little person's mouth.

In person, she looks a little like Dame Judi Dench and a lot like Pretty Boy Floyd right before they shot him down. And she just stands there with the presence and good humor of someone who long ago stopped caring about what any critic is going to think or say, she's just doing her job and she knows she's doing it well.

And god, she does it well. At a certain point, like right after she did Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, I was thinking,

This must have been like it felt watching Sinatra in the 50s. Or Billie Holiday before that.

Her microphone work, the notes that came out of her mouth, her band, her relationship to the crowd...

Jesus, y'all. Seriously.

If she's playing within a three hundred mile radius of your home, sell the truck and get a bus ticket and be there.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

again with the laziness

This is part laziness, but also got interested in going through the old files last week. I was looking for some real estate research I'd done back before we got the Theatorium and found this.

Cool little historical footnote for you future historians: EdgeNY was co-edited by Jen Woodward and David Cote, back when Cote was still wearing short pants, right before he hit puberty. Damn he was cute. "EdgeNY" sounds wrong to me, but that's what I wrote back then, so I'm letting it slide.

Originally published in Volume One, Issue One of EdgeNY, February 1999

I’m writing this at a table in Tonic, a hip little coffee shop/salon/nightclub on Norfolk Street down here on the Lower East Side. Odds are good that you’re reading this somewhere not far from Tonic, unless this magazine’s circulation and distribution departments are shooting high early, which is possible. Let’s say you’re nowhere near Tonic, you’re uptown or in the West Village or sitting in some tower in midtown.

Wherever you are, odds are still good that if your eyes are scanning this page you have involvement with downtown theater or emerging theater or independent theater or Off-Off Broadway or whichever euphemism you use. We probably have a lot in common. We probably know some of the same people, have seen some of the same shows, read the same books, hang out in the same bars, hell I probably know you, it’s not that big a town. But wherever you sit, whatever you read, wherever you drink and whoever you are, the odds are astronomical that we belong to the same community, because I haven’t belonged to anything I recognize as a community since around 1969.

I was six in ’69, so it wasn’t a sex and drugs commune, sorry, it was a neighborhood of red brick houses in St. Louis. Every summer we’d have a block party and the adults would get blitzed on Budweiser, the bottles floating in plastic wading pools filled with iced water, and we kids would run around screaming, eating hot dogs, drinking orange soda and trying to push each other into the beer pools. Everybody there knew each other, lived next door to each other, walked the same streets under the same sky, everyday.

In the 29 years since 1969, I’ve belonged to many groups, joined many organizations and found much in common with many people. But I’m not part of a community anymore, not one I recognize. Not like that neighborhood in St. Louis in the burning summer of 1969.

For me, now, the word “community” has become a funding word, a buzzword, less than a word. It’s joined “outreach” and “development” and “mission” on that sad historical scrap heap. They are all fine, solid words conjuring up beautiful, valuable concepts, but when we use them in the performing arts they become deeply suspect and hollow as gourds.

One could mistake the theaters and theater owners that have taken part in FringeNYC for the past two years as a community. We brave the same administrative and financial challenges every day, we book a lot of the same acts, for the most part we know, respect and enjoy each other. But we more closely resemble a merchant’s organization or a cartel than we do a community. One could mistake the tremendous number of talented, driven artists in this town that stubbornly make great theater in the face of the polite disinterest or outright hostility they encounter every day as a community. When one of us is threatened or censored or attacked we all feel the chill. But we’re more of a big social club or a leaderless army or, more often than not, an unruly mob than we are any kind of meaningful community.

So I don’t know much about communities except that I miss them and don’t much trust these new-fangled ones people keep trying to sell me. If I think back to ’69, what I remember most about that community was the neighborhood itself. The trees, the streets, the houses and the people I saw everyday. So let me tell you a bit about the neighborhood I live in now, the neighborhood I’m sitting in, right now, my new neighborhood.

My company converted an empty chop shop/speakeasy/cocaine retail outlet on Stanton Street into the Theatorium last July. My wife and I moved into a place around the corner a few weeks ago, so I now live and work in the same neighborhood. On the corner of Stanton and Ridge is Sajoma, a bodega run by Frankie, Pedro, their father, their mother and an aunt. A big Supermercado opened up right across the street from Sajoma in September and you can bet Frankie and Pedro weren’t welcoming those guys into the Stanton Street Bodega Community. They thought they’d go under. The new place is four times their size, but it hasn’t happened yet. There seem to be enough dollar bills and food stamps to go around. The new guys are good people, too. The boss’s name I could never catch and now I’m too embarrassed to ask so I call him Jefe and his wife laughs at my Spanish every morning. They have better coffee than Sajoma, but I still buy my cigarettes from Frankie. Just doing my part to further the equal distribution of wealth.

There’s a big Catholic church right across the street from our apartment, Our Lady of Sorrows, and I look down at it from my window and think of my childhood and some mornings even seriously think about catching a mass some day. I met the priest back in July when we first got the Theatorium, a purely political move on my part, but at least we recognize each other now. Just a matter of time before he drops by to see a show. I just hope it doesn’t suck when he finally does.

It’s not St. Louis, but it is a neighborhood – an actual, living community. It will be a few years before I can say it’s my community, assuming the Theatorium is still there and the locals keep coming. I look forward to that. I look forward to being part of a community again. I miss that feeling greatly.

UPDATE, 2/28/08
Nine years later, we’re still here, Frankie’s place is still here, though Frankie isn’t around anymore, he got a job as an assistant teacher at a grade school over in Brooklyn. Pedro joined the Army years ago, haven't seen him in quite awhile. Supermercado is doing fine and of course the church is still open for business.

So what’s gone? The Theatorium closed its doors five years ago, four years after I wrote the words above. It’s a vacant lot right now, cleared for the next huge Hideous Incongruity they’re about to build. Tonic has been gone for years now.

So the businesses and churches survived and the arts spaces didn’t.

Go figure.


Buckley dead.

Well... yeah.

Studio Arena shutting its doors.

Well... sure.

Don't mean to sound jaded or bored with the news today, but...


Both stories are sad for those close to the dead.

Our sympathies should always go towards those grieving.

But then we should find those celebrating something else and something new and ask them what the party's about and can we join in.

Great party last night after a preview of the Beebo Brinker Chronicles, re-opening at 37 Arts next week. The great Leigh Silverman directs a knock-out cast delivering a script put together by Linda Chapman sourced from the original lesbian pulp novels of the late 50s, early 60s. Really great, but the best part for Nancy and me was seeing so many old friends.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

James Braly and the Undead

If you've got the time, go up to 59E59 Street Theaters and check out James Braly's Life in a Marital Institution. We're not connected to it in anyway, just saw it last summer in Edinburgh and hung with James a lot in the bar. Funny, funny guy. Strange and funny one-man show, all about his actual life. It's directed by the inimitable Hal Brooks and Hal knows exactly what he's doing up there under the lights. I'm interested in seeing if its gotten any tighter since August, it was great but a little shaggy. Anyway, there's the tip.

So we're watching the debate last night and our collective jaw dropped. Deep weirdness on Senator Clinton's part. Saturday Night Live? What? The only four people who still watch SNL must be Clinton's advisors. And that must be all they do. What the hell was that move about?

Ten minutes into the thing, I write down the only six words Obama should listen to:

Walk Away.

Fight McCain.

And Win.

It's the old political saw: If you've already won, you can't win. So stop fighting and move on. If you're twenty points ahead in a state, you stop contesting that state and move to a place where you're close. Obama is rising every day and every time he gets into any kind of scrap with Clinton, he just starts stalling. Walk away, Senator. All she can do is try to wrestle you, hoping she'll poke an eye out or at least get some mud on you or anything. That's all she's got left. So walk away.

And I'm sure Obama's advisors are saying something along the lines of:

You must kill her, my son. Five times. She is a Clinton. They do not die. You must separate the head from the body, drive a stake through the heart of the body, rub the whole thing with garlic and soak for four hours in holy water. And even then, don't ever turn your back on it. She is Clinton. She will rise again.

Like I've said over and over, publicly, privately and telepathically, I love me some Hilary. She'd be a great President and she is a great Senator and I think she's a great person. But this year something else is going on. Right now, Obama seems to have it locked if he just keeps his cool and some crazy shit from his past doesn't bob up out there. But never count out a Clinton. They are the vampires of the political world.

Like, in a good way.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Museum Hours

Busy day at the Museum yesterday. My so-called job is so strange sometimes, hell, all of the time.

As a producer/writer/director/consultant I have to keep about six projects going all the time. Some I'm writing and casting and going into rehearsal with, some I'm pitching all the time to other producers or people with actual money, some are just wild-ass ideas that I need to talk about regularly with anyone I can think might be able to help just to keep them alive.

I'm looking at three projects that have to be finished and ready to open in six months: Brian Parks' lastest, C.J. Hopkins' America the Beautiful and my own The Event. Those I'm directing in Edinburgh this summer.

Then there's the big one, Captain Overlord's Folly, which we're presenting in August in a reading-like environment. Still haven't figured how we're going to do that and still make it interesting.

Then there's freelance work I'm pitching here in town, trying to get paid, you know? These are scripts by other writers that I'm attaching myself to as a director. I got a good bite at New York Theater Workshop with Greg Kotis' Bad Christmas, we're talking this week. I'm sending Joe Sutton's Complicit around and I'm doing a reading in a few weeks of Stephen Culp's beautiful 13 Hallucinations of Julio Rivera. And then there's the consulting.

Add to that the League of Independent Theater business, the hunt for a new venue Nancy and I have begun and my constant drinking, and, well, I'm just saying some days the Museum has to close down early just so's we can keep up with the paperwork without worrying about kids touching the dioramas.

Results are in for the Music Quiz. Ann wins, of course. Of course it's the Blockheads. I was just trying to hustle her and make her doubt her instincts. It's an important thing to do to a young woman, builds up her character. And what do we have for our lucky contestant, Johnny?

Ann, you win the privilege and legal obligation to donate to Scrappy's Annual Wintertime Fund, in which we raise money to provide firewood and whiskey to the poor, frozen masses here in Rat City. Sure, they're mostly Scrappy's dependents and friends, but they are poor and frozen. Usually its a 50 dollar donation, but hell, Ann, you went:

Double or Nothing.


That's 100 bucks, doll.

We take cash, credit, vouchers, food stamps, old Confederate money or venison. Your choice, all for your own convenience and we thankee for your custom.

Monday, February 25, 2008

pop quiz Monday

I'll start with the Obligatory Oscar opening.


We watched part of it. Kept flipping around between Mr. Holland's Opus (a very underrated film) and Men in Black and the Oscars. So we missed a lot. But Jon Stewart was very funny.

Someone once said that America only has two High Holy Days: Superbowl Sunday and Oscar Night, when we, as a people, gather around and worship at the twin altars of Violence and Fame.

So I'm some kind of apostate because I can't really get into either one anymore.

On the political beat, here's the only question any pollster should be asking. It hit me yesterday watching Nader announce on Meet the Press.

I don't mean to dumb it down past the point of meaning, but let's remember that most of America isn't even paying attention to the race yet. And most of America probably won't vote in November. So here's how I'd frame the thing:

Which movie do you want to watch, opening January 21st, 2009?

1. Die, Hard, Die! The 15th installment of the Die Hard franchise. Bruce Willis is now 73, still a wise-cracking bad-ass renegade. Same plot as every other one, Al Gore plays the villian.

2. Liberal Warriors: Return of the Queen, the last installment of the trilogy in which a husband and wife take on each other, the world and the Boogie Men of Washington D.C.

3. Third Partytime! A minor Michael Moore film, smart-as-hell as usual, absolutely right on all of its major points, but kind of whiny and boring at times.

4. The really smart, contemporary re-make of Frank Capra's classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, with a new script by Aaron Sorkin, directed by Rob Reiner and starring Will Smith in the Jimmy Stewart role.

Because for most of America, its just a four-year long feature film.

Had a nice little tip of the hat from Isaac Butler and Scott Walters on Friday. Isaac is Parabasis and Scott's blog is Scott's not on my blogroll, but that's just laziness and ineptitude on my part. Scott's one of the Original Gangsters of this whole theater blog world. They both posted part of the Steppenwolf Slam I lazily put up. And I can see from the Comments section that it whipped up a lot of excitement here at home.

You non-commenting bastards.

You just want the big Music Quiz. That's all I am to you, some big fat Monday Morning Music Quizmaster. I work and work and work for you people and all I get is...

Here we go, this one for Annie, all about the good old days. And this one's easy because I'm feeling good. Get out those number 2s.

The seminal English New Wave track Sex and Drugs and Rock 'n Roll was performed by Ian Drury and the

1. Knuckleheads

2. Rising Tide

3. Attractions

4. Blockheads

And let's get tickets to that new Will Smith movie, sounds good, right?

Friday, February 22, 2008

from the vault

Getting seriously swamped this week, so here's some Friday laziness. This is something I wrote back in 2001, still true, I think. Haven't seen Letts' latest and am really looking forward to it, frankly. Nonetheless, here's the libel:


Steppenwolf Theater has always been cool. They are the Rat Pack, the Dirty Dozen, the Wild Bunch of the American theater, roaring into town, picking up some awards, roaring back out. The name itself, at first rangy and sharp-toothed and then a tip of the hat towards German literature perfectly captures the Dharma Bums/Hell’s Angels confluence of American cool. Then you have the Chicago mythos. You imagine working-class Poles and Micks toiling in the deafening slaughterhouse all day and then trudging home to rehearse wild-ass shit all night in the basement of a church, slugging back black coffee and rye to stay awake. Add to this the wild success, the movie stars, the Broadway runs and awards, and clearly Steppenwolf is the ideal. So it’s hard to argue that they’ve all but killed American theater.

Not them, of course. It’s their spawn, infected by the Steppenwolf Syndrome. The Stepford Steppenwolfs. The Steppenpuppies. If you’ve worked for any extensive period in the American theater you know them. The actor who looks for any excuse in the script to take off his shirt, knock furniture around or clean his nails with a Bowie knife. The director who casts these actors and encourages everyone to shout, smoke and stalk around. The writer who is openly or secretly re-writing every early Shepard play and constantly robbing profanity of its beauty and power by using it as mere punctuation.

The result of all this misguided energy is a dizzying and ultimately dispiriting accumulation of loud, violent, messy evenings of theater. Every once in a while, like a night in a crowded bar or a walk on the Lower East Side on a Saturday night, these evenings can provide a life-affirming, electric jolt. But all too often you find yourself looking around and thinking, “What the hell is everyone shouting about?” and wishing you were home with friends. The Steppencubs have given us an undergraduate theater, a juvenile theater, a “boys-with-guns-and-women-who-strip-and-cuss” theater.

It is, undeniably, an American theater, which is a large part of its draw and satisfaction. For as much as Pinter and Stoppard and Orton thrill and stir us, there is something in Shepard and Mamet and Rabe that resonates more deeply and fully within us. The best of this theater, like the best of American culture, achieves a Steinbeckian simplicity, an immediacy and a power we recognize intuitively. Plainspoken truth and a celebration of the endurance, courage and decency of the human spirit, coupled with a heart-breaking, bleak beatification of the loner, the misfit and outcast, these things can appear and vanish in much of our theater like the ghosts of the American night. But usually we see the worst of our culture, a loud, leering, dim-witted aggression and a sense that violence is in itself somehow both inevitable and vaguely romantic.

This translates to the stage as actors with little or no control or interest in their physical and vocal instrument, directors emphasizing mood and attitude over thought and objective and writers with their feet stuck firmly to the killing floor, afraid or unwilling to spread their wings and try to fly. We should remember that Thornton Wilder and George S. Kaufman and Elmer Rice were three of the prototypical American playwrights. We should remember that Dos Passos and Odets allowed working-class characters to breathe a lyricism that rarely rang hollow and always reached beyond the grim desperation of their circumstances. We need to stop romanticizing the vulgar and vulgarizing the romantic in our theater and our heritage.

And I lay all of this on Steppenwolf’s door?

Sure. Why not? It’s an American tradition to tear down yesterday’s champions and it’s an American attitude that says, “We know where that road goes, so let’s try something new for a change.”

If the SteppenFetchits were emulating Steppenwolf for the fierce tenacity of their early days, their insistence on an ensemble dynamic and their ability to attract and foster great new writers, I’d say Godspeed. But when you strive to emulate their style, or worse, a dumbed-down, third-hand understanding of their style, I say enough, already. You can break all the furniture you want and never create anything more meaningful than firewood onstage if there is no thought, poetry or craft behind the wreckage. If you want to create the next Steppenwolf Theatre, then do what they did. Commit to ten years with the same core of people and spend every night arguing and agreeing and thrashing around in a basement somewhere until you have your own aesthetic and vision to share. Stop wearing hand-me-downs. They don’t fit and they’re out of style anyway.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

adventures in America

As most of you know, New York City is not actually part of America, its more like a pirate ship permanently docked just off the coast of America. Like any working ship, there are way too many people packed onboard, eating and working and fighting with each other in extremely cramped quarters. And the buggery and rum are the only things really keeping us sane.

On occasion, we get shore leave or just jump ship and find ourselves in the fine land of the USA, where you people have lawns and enormous shopping centers and endless, paved highways.

And truck stops. We love your truck stops.

Yesterday, Nancy and I bolt and are making good our escape through northern New Jersey. Now, I know a lot of good people who grew up in that very strange place, but, to a man, they all left it at soon as they could.

Jersey gets deeply maligned here on the Pirate Ship, but the truth is, its just the small part of it that Manhattan has infected and poisoned that's awful. Southern Jersey is a different state altogether, that's Springsteen land and the Jersey shore and Atlantic City and all of that. Beautiful. And if you get past Paterson, say, you're in lovely, wooded country, looks just like Pennsylvania. But those thirty or so miles just past the Holland tunnel, Christ.

We need to speak about Paterson, NJ.

We pull off the road yesterday morning looking for gasoline (petrol to you British readers) in Paterson, NJ.

Jesus, Paterson.

First oddity was the town's civic obsession with where jurors should and should not park. I'm riding shotgun as usual, taking care of the music and randomly quipping about the things I see out the window. I see a big sign:

Juror Parking this way

with a big arrow pointing down the road.

The next block:

Juror Parking

We can't find a gas station so we keep going. Nan pulls into a place to pull a U-turn, big sign there:

No Juror Parking

I say, "Clearly the major industry in Paterson is Jury Duty."

And then we see, all over the place, what we can only assume are Jurors.

People on the sidwalk, confused and looking around, holding little slips of paper in their hands. This is about 9 AM, right? They're jaywalking, looking left and right, clearly not from around here, all in kind of a controlled panic/rush. We almost hit a few of them, but the town goes slow, so the Jurors just sort of drift and dance around the cars on Main Street.

Strange. We can't find a gas station so we drive a little bit, trying to find the highway again. The town is very, very small so in a minute we're on the other end of it and we both say, at the same time,

"Oh my god."

Because we see the old factory. The old brick mill off of the river. And its huge and beautiful and old. And then we see the waterfall, the reason the town was built originally, the reason it had jobs for years. It's stunning. It's unexpected and amazing. We pull over just to stare at it.

But we need the road, so we drive back down the main stretch, still not able to find the highway which should be right there, dodging the slow-motion Jurors in the road. We see a gas station, pull in, get out and that's when it starts getting weird.

We're right downtown, right? Like on the main street of this little New Jersey town. The pumps, Nan notices, are circa 1965. I go into the gas station, since in Jersey the law is that you can't pump your own gas, another State Oddity. I open the door to the gas station and I walk into an older Polish woman's living room. There are maps for sale in one corner, so that's the gas station motif, but the rest of it...

Shag carpeting. An old couch facing an older TV set. Pictures of her family on the walls. And Herself, coming at me from out of the gloom, 60 years old or so, wearing slippers and a winter coat over what looks like some kind of housecoat, unsmiling, saying:

"I only got Super."

I say, "What?" just sort of thrown by the whole thing. It's 9 AM on a Tuesday in America, I'm trying to buy gas, you know?

"I only got Super."

She's coming close now, I see behind her the TV set flickering light on the couch and the wall behind the couch, I see the old referigerator next to the TV, I see that she lives here, in a gas station on the main drag, I see some Jurors reflected in the glass door, behind me, moving all slow and weird, I hear Nancy saying something about the old pumps and well, I just kind of panicked.

Got one of those Deep Weird flashes you get sometimes. I back away from the old Polish gas station attendant woman, smiling, mumbling something about coffee or gasoline or something, gesture for Nan to get back in the car and when she does I tell her we got to get out of here now. She says, weird place, right? And I say, let's go, let's go. We still can't find the highway and the whole town is like two blocks. We pull into an alleyway with two huge Dead End signs bolted to the walls, one upside down. Jesus. We gain the highway somehow, its like it just appears and we're driving away.

Jesus Christ, Paterson. It's like the town died in 1952 and no one bothered telling the town. David Lynch land, folks. Deeply, deeply weird and beautiful and sad. Dave Calvitto, our Olivier for years, grew up there and he tells hilarious and sad stories about his family. Now I know they're all true.

Tomorrow more ramblings and keen insights about life, art and politics. Today just glad to be back on the Pirate Ship. Someone pass me that rum.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

buenos noches, jefe

Fidel Castro, (after that embarassing Havana airport bathroom stall incident involving Senator Craig), is retiring. Says he wants to spend more time with his family. His brother Raul could not be reached for comment.

As some wise man once said about religion, "Important if true".

It's just that Fidel is the Wyle E. Coyote of dictators. He's going to retire, sit on the beach for a week and come back and take over again. I don't care if he's dying, neither will he, the man likes the Big Chair.

Thank you all for the comments below on the Overlord reading. So helpful when friends can honestly tell you what worked and what didn't. Never been able to figure out why that's so hard for people on both ends.

Saw Alyson Pou's A Slight Headache at Bowery Poetry Club last night. Really fun and it was Old Home Week with Robert Pritchard, Tania Kirkman, Jackie Battenfield, Sam the Dumb, Dumb Bunny and others hanging out.

Overlord reading got me thinking about a simple but vital thing the League of Independent Theater can do. Here's the argument:

One of the reasons that theater doesn't function well in the marketplace nowadays is that its so economically inefficient in how it's made.

There's no way to speed up or streamline the process.

You need a lot of people in one room at the same time for awhile before you can start selling it. And as we all know, its mostly just theory and guesswork until you actually have some outsiders in the room watching it. Previews are where you learn if the ship floats, if the plane flys, if the gag is going to work.

It's no different from the 19th century or the 15th century or the 1st century. How we make it hasn't changed at all.

Down here in my parish, out there in Long Island City, over the river in Brooklyn, you don't get no stinking previews. The first time you show it to an audience, its opening night and, if you're lucky, the critics are there. Think about it. The critics are there, judging your sweating ass, the first preview.

Before you know how it works.

So whatever we do with this Code Reform issue, we have to make it standard policy in the Off-Off Independent world that you get a week of previews before the press comes in. Because that's just common sense. Again, think of the strangenesss and economic inefficiency of our business.

A painter can invite another painter into her studio. The two people can spend five minutes together and the first painter can get an informed reaction about her work. A novelist can send another novelist his long-ass novel, the second novelist can read it, send it back with notes. Right? But in our business, you have to come down at a specific time to a specific place and sit in the room with me and my gang while we jump around in front of you in order to get an approximation of what I'm trying to do. And if its just a rehearsal, then you're actually not seeing the real thing, not like reading a guy's novel or seeing someone's painting. Because the real thing only happens when there are strangers in the room, sitting in the dark, watching.

So we need previews.

Answer to yesterday's quiz is number 3, O Lord, Give Me Your Blood. Might be an actual gospel song, but I made it up anyway. I know the other three are real.

Monday, February 18, 2008

wait a minute, Ms. Weiss

I made a little promise to myself that I'd only post once a day, you know, so I could also work, but I just saw something so over-the-top wrong and stupid that I can't keep my fingers off the keyboard.

Hedy Weiss, in today's Chicago Sun-Times, praises a show called Harriet Jacobs at Steppenwolf. So, right, they're doing a show about black people in February, like all regional theaters with good, guilty, liberal consciences do, this is not a Steppenwolf slam at all, but here's the bizarre and disturbing thing:

The headline is Making the History of Slavery Seem Real.


Maybe they're using different textbooks in the schools since I was a boy, but I was always taught that the history of slavery was real.

Just occuring to me as I type this that journalists don't get to choose the headlines, that's an editor's job, I think. So who's the revisionist over at the Sun-Times?

Am I way over-reacting? Don't answer that, just do the Music Quiz below and I'll shut up.

But that's weird, right?

back to the desk job

Well. I tell you.

Cool, wet Monday morning showing itself outside. Cat asleep on the radiator, Nancy asleep in the bed. Me and my coffee and juice, typing this. Going to the gym for the first time in two weeks as soon as I finish. Now that's going to hurt.

Watching the political talk shows yesterday, before the Big Reading. Smart men and women told me that Bill Clinton's operatic Third Act is going to force Hillary Clinton's long-anticipated Second Act to close early. Interesting.

Great words about Fatboy in Chicago on and I'm just going to pretend that those two outlets are much more important and influential than the Tribune or the Sun-Times. Why not?

So, the Big Reading. We had a few...adjustments we had to make right then and there. Live theater and all that.

Paul Urcioli, my lead, the Clown King Himself, was playing soccer a few hours before the reading. He planted his foot wrong, twisted it or something, and off he goes to the Emergency Room. He's fine, thank god, we won't know the extent of the damage until next week when the swelling goes down and he gets an MRI, but he may have torn his A. C. L., the main ligament that allows your knee to behave like a knee, or it could just be a very bad sprain. (In great synchronicity, there's a big article about the rise in ACL injuries in the Times today.)

So I'm thinking, fine, I can move Ben over to the Clown King and have Emily or Kate or someone do the Boy Clown. But then I'm thinking, that will compromise two roles instead of the one. Hmmm... What to do, what to do?

All of you who know me know what I decided to do, right? Ham that I am, Bottom the Weaver in my soul?

So I'm up there doing the Clown King. Wearing black lipstick, throwing water into Matt Oberg's face, aping and mocking Kurt Rhoads' performance, dragging Matt and Melissa around by a rope. Talk about your meta upon your meta. Second Act is when the Clown King tries to be the Lead and the Director while his Clown Gang is screwing around. And there I am, actual script in hand, telling people to get offstage and to take it from the bit where we do the thing and yelling at them that they're not taking this seriously.

Deeply weird, a lot of fun. And we packed the joint, had to add a row of chairs in front. If anyone reading this was there, I'd love to get some feedback. Learned a lot in the bar after, talking to all of my smart friends. Going to make some major cuts in the first act and clarify the Academics at the end, but probably going to let it sit for a day or two. Much, much business to catch up on.

Our Monday Morning Music Quiz has a gospel flair to it today, praise His Holy Name. I've loved gospel all my life, especially the old-timey stuff. The Swan Silvertones and the Blind Boys of Alabama, that kind of crazy, wailing sound. Gospel, like country, just gets worse and worse the more you produce it. Closer it is to a field, the farther it is from a recording studio, the better it's going to be.

So which of these songs is an actual gospel song and which is just vampiric nonsense?

1. There is a Fountain Filled with Blood
2. Are You Washed in the Blood?
3. O Lord, Give Me Your Blood
4. Power in the Blood

All right, someone get Malta on the phone for me. Let's do some bidness.

Friday, February 15, 2008

open invite

So here's the deal:

Sunday, February 17th at 3:30 sharp.
64 Wooster Street, between Spring and Broome, buzzer #6, take the elevator up to the 6th Floor.

Join us to witness a workshop, script in hands stumble-through of the latest, Captain Overlord's Folly or the Fool's Revenge. RSVP at

Big fun. All of your favorite old archetypes attacked by evil clowns.

Nice article about the whole thing in yesterday's Backstage. Thank you Dan Lehman for catching the spirit of the thing and spelling all of the names right.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

empty well

Got nothing today.

Was going to post an old essay "Steppenwolf Must Die", but can't find it, must be on the old computer. Then I was going to throw down some Kandinsky quote and look all intellectual, but I don't have the time to type it all out.

The Eels fucking well rock. But you probably already know that.

Did some serious re-writes on Overlord last night. I'm a goddamned genius some nights.

This thing on Sunday, the Overlord workshop presentation, you should all come to that. RSVP at Should be fun.

Thinking about doing that awful thing, that "unholy hybrid" as my friends at Stolen Chair Theater would say: a staged reading. Like actually have the poor actors run around with their scripts with blocking and all of that.

Always a mistake. Probably going to do it.

Dressy Bessy also rocks. Never heard of them before last week, now they're my new favorite band.


Hopkins is back to Berlin, beret and all. Sxip is off on the road, playing the South. Fat Bunny sheds more than any animal I've ever known, I'm sitting here covered in white cat fur. Nan's still asleep, have to wake her up so she can run around as a crazy clown in two hours.

Strange life, kids. No complaints on my side.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Winds are howling outside, rain against the window. We've battened everything down and are ready to ride it out.

Incredibly magical night last night, the snow coming down in the streetlamplights, a proper New York winter's night. Cab going slow, crunching over the snow on the street, taking us home after a good day's work and a meal out with good friends. Those little things that make up a life.

Senator O is rolling, racking up victories and delegates and the one important thing, Momentum. If O gets the Mo, then we're going to keep the best Senator from New York we've had in years. And that's a very good thing. Would love to hear Barack and Johnny Mac debate the real issues in the fall, not just campaign against each other. One of the good things about McCain is that he knows the issues and can talk about them honestly and openly. He's wrong on all counts, but he'll make an honest case, not just whisper slyly about fear and race and feminazis and Jesus, like the regular round-up of whores and liars we usually see auditioning for the Big Desk.

What else is going on?

More good work on Overlord. Learning my ass off every day. My sister Liz just got a great job at Washington University, one she really wanted. My nieces remain very, very cute out in St. Louis. Nancy Walsh is the funniest person on the planet. Neil Genzingler or whatever the fuck his mother named him continues the unwarranted and uninformed smear job that Antonin Artaud has been subjected to for a century now, see today's Times for the lazy, mean-spirited review of The Cenci.

Thinking about becoming a choreographer after finishing the Woyzeck piece.

Why not?

Dance is much more interesting than theater these days.

Also want to get back into collage. I was a hell of a collagist in college. Funny sentence, but true.

Put on your tam and your galoshes if you're in my parish and going outside today, kids.

Storm's a-blowing.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the winners are...

Forgot to give the answer to the quiz.

Battle Creek Cereal Box Community College exists only in my mind, but its a beautiful, beautiful campus. Folks sit around eating Cap'n Crunch all day.

fools are everywhere

Besides being an accurate statement you can pretty much make regardless of whatever situation you find yourself in, Fools are Everywhere is also the name of an excellent book I picked up on Sunday. Written by Beatrice K. Otto, its subtitle is: The Court Jester Around the World and its filled with the quips, jests and lifestories of the ministrelli, joculatores, jongleurs, mimi and histriones from way back in the Early Morning of the Day. Cool thing about this book, Ms. Otto tells us herself in the Intro, is that she came across her abiding interest in the subject while studying modern Chinese. There are many histories and studies, I've just learned, about the European jester tradition, not so much the Chinese. But the Chinese have been around a lot longer, so it follows that they've been funnier a lot longer. Anyway, interesting stuff.

Love it when a project makes me have to read new stuff. Awhile back I was working on Don Nigro's Golgotha, a brilliant, jagged rant being delivered either by Jesus Christ or a homeless madman. Led me to do all of this New Testament research, turned me on to this whole crew of scholars mostly historians and linguists, all of whom have studied the earliest writings of the Church and noticed a whole lot of, how would you say, inconsistencies. Just fascinating stuff for me.

C.J. Hopkins, or Berlin Bob as I like to call him, (mostly because he doesn't like it) is asleep on my couch. Flew in from Miami last night and made me stay up late with him, drinking whiskey and talking endlessly about my new play. Forced me, folks. Swear to God. I tried to slip away but he had a knife.

Or something.

Working on the bouffon stuff yesterday, realized, of course, that we're all bouffons. Every outsider who has to get in, who hasn't figured out yet that its better to stay on the outside, is a bouffon. There was at least one day, if not year after crushing year, in grade school or high school that we were all bouffons. Forced to smile, forced to pretend to laugh along as the world called you an idiot and a fool and a lesser being, "smiling with hatred in your eyes", to use Eric Davis' aka Red Bastard's expression that sums it all up for me. What is an artist here in the eye of the capitalist hurricane but a bouffon?

Want to boast and brag about my genius All-Star crew for this thing. In no particular order, here's the starting line-up:

Kurt Rhoads - Captain Overlord and 1st Academic
Kevin Pariseau- Baron Hastings Agincourt and 3rd Academic
Nate Brochin - John Staine and 2nd Academic
Matt Oberg- Giles
Melissa Lynch- Sue Chester-Hampshire-Shireshire
Wil Petre- Tom Hatcher
Paul Urcioli- The Clown King
Christopher Yeatts- Maniac Clown
Barb Pitts - Older Clown
Nancy Walsh- Heavy Clown
Ben Schneider- Boy Clown
Eva Van Dok- Girl Clown

Getting support on the other side of the table by Emily Fishbaine (bane of all fishes) and Kate Sessions. We're all just laughing our asses off.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Deleuze and Guattari babble about blogs

So these two maniacs burst into my apartment last night, Frenchman, I think, and start shouting crazy shit and drinking up all my wine.

I'm reading quietly on the couch, the Fat Bunny curled up next to me, Nancy's crashed in the bedroom so I'm telling them to keep it down for Christ's sake, it's a school night after all, but they're French, right? No sense of propriety, voices rising, shoving and slapping each other in agreement.

Couldn't catch all of it, something about the difference between long-term memory and short-term memory, the gist being:

"The splendor of the short-term Idea: one writes using short-term memory, thus short-term ideas; even if one reads or re-reads using long-term memory of long-term concepts. Short-term memory includes forgetting as a process; it merges not with the instant, but instead with the nervous, temporal and collective rhizome. Long-term memory (family, race, society or civilization) traces and translates, but what it translates continues to act in it, from a distance, off beat, in an "untimely" way, not instantaneously."

I caught some of it, but what with their accents and the speed at which they were going, I had to call for clarification.

"What's that word, 'rizome'? 'Rhyzome'? You can't smoke in here, man, Nancy quit, we smoke in the hallway now. Are you talking about blogs or what? Who are you guys?"

Like I never said a word, they sit down on the couch, Fat Bunny leaping away, and keep talking to each other. It's like I'm not even in the room.

"The rhizome is an antigenealogy. It is a short-term memory or antimemory. The rhizome operates by variation, expansion, conquest, capture, offshoots. Unlike the graphic arts, drawing or photography, unlike tracings, the rhizome pertains to a map that must be produced, constructed, a map that is always detachable, connectible, reversible, modifiable, and has multiple entryways and exits and its own line of flight."

"Like blogs, right? You're talking about blogs? At least use an ashtray, man."

"The middle is by no means an average; on the contrary, it is where things pick up speed. Between things does not designate a localizable relation going from one thing to the other and back again, but a perpendicular direction, a transversal moment that sweeps one and the other away, a stream without beginning or end that undermines its banks and picks up speed in the middle."

And then, I swear to god, one of them set the couch on fire with his cigarette and that was it. It was interesting stuff, sure, I think it had to do with blogs and blogging, but come on.


And we're breaking with the venerable weeks-old tradition of the Monday Morning Music Quiz in honor of all those little bastards who are still considering grad school.

Which of the following is not an actual college and school for higher learning?

1. Inner Mongolia College of Farming and Animal Husbandry
2. Chavez School of Manual Dexterity and Prestidigitation
3. Chief Dull Knife College
4. Battle Creek Cereal Box Community College

I'll give you a hint, one of them was my safety school.

Now let's get to work.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

the author makes an unwise and public statement

I've been going around and around on this inside my own tiny mind for a few weeks, ever since I saw the Chicago production of Fatboy.

The problem is that there is no proscribed, generally understood ethical code in our field. Our fellow professionals, say, the attorneys and doctors out there, have guidelines, actually printed up, and boards of doctors and lawyers that regularly sit and decide on what you can and cannot do when you're out there working the legal or the medical beat.

And the theater and the law and medicine have in common that once the thing starts, you just hold on and get through it. Once you're in court, you just try the case and someone wins and someone doesn't. Once you cut into the patient, you just keep working until she's stable or she dies. Once you open a show, you run it until it closes.

You don't step outside the act and comment on it, explain something or defend yourself. You fix it or you shut up.

All of that being true (or at least relevant to what's been bothering me since I saw the excellent A Red Orchid's production of my play Fatboy,) I have to say this publicly:

They're doing the 2004 version of the text. Before I fixed it. The published version, the version we did in 2006 at the Ohio Theater, is measurably better.

This is no one's fault. They got the script from Scott Morfee, who optioned it back in 2004. I just never checked. If I had an agent, I guess this wouldn't have happened. The reason this bothers me a little bit, is that this is my first production in Chicago. And I like Chicago and want to work there again. Sure, they talk funny and pretend that they don't live in Ice Station Fucking Zebra for three months out of the year, but they seem like good people and they've got a lot of great theaters.

The show did pretty well, by my standards, with the mainstream critics. I never expect the first-stringers to like or even understand what I'm doing and that's cool, I'm not doing it for them. But even the Tribune and the Sun-Times had good pull-quotes. They liked everything except the play, which is fine. Great performances, great direction and design, just that the play was a little long and incredibly repetitive and stupid. Smaller papers and most of the blogs dug it to various degrees, some most deeply.

Here's what Fatboy is:

The Ramones Greatest Hits played very, very loud. For about an hour and ten minutes.

Now, if you don't like early American punk rock, that hour and ten minutes is excruciating. It's the same three chords over and over, they're not even pretending to be able to sing and the lyrics range from "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" to "I'm a Teenage Lobotomy". That second one doesn't even make grammatical sense. Loud, stupid, obvious, repetitive. It ain't Bach, folks.

If, however, you like that sound, you're in hog heaven while Fatboy is thrashing around in front of you.

So I'm reading reviews like:

"(Fatboy) is the intellectual equivalent of slinging animal dung across the stage." Nina Metz,


"Fatboy is confusing, disturbing and so fast-paced it makes your head spin..." Ruth Smerling,

Love the animal dung quote and am amazed that a critic would find the production fast-paced, since they're running at about 95 minutes, 20 more than we ever used.

All I'm saying, I guess, is that the general take on the play out in Chicago is that it's all right, pretty funny, but it kind of falls apart at the end. Which is exactly right, which is why I fixed the third act after the initial production in Edinburgh in 2004. But the script that Guy and the excellent actors worked on for a month is the old version, which is great, just not as tight as it could be.

So if you go see the show in Chicago, which you absolutely should, since I'm getting royalties on the thing, just enjoy the astounding performances and know that you're watching a very good first draft.

Ah. Fuck. Shouldn't have said anything. Now people can't just watch it.

See? Now I feel weirdly defensive and kind of like a big pussy for even bringing it up.

But it's good to get it off my chest.

Let's just move on, shall we?

Friday, February 08, 2008

all about me

Wave goodbye to the Mittbot as he rockets home to the mothership.

Goodbye, you terrifying robot.

Stealing from Ann Read (and I only steal from the best), the headine in the Dime Museum Daily reads:

Mittbot Re-booted

Actual headline in the Times is:

Romney's Run was Dogged by Miscalculation

And in other news:

Romney's Dog was Runned Over by a Car

But let's talk about me.

Lori Hoeflinger pointed out to me last night that in the photo that adorns this fine blog, I look just like Kristi McNichol from the classic 70s televised dramedy Eight is Enough, starring most of the Van Patten family. And so I said,

That's what I was going for back then. I was a very confused child.

Something about this Irish mug of mine. For awhile there I was a spitting image of the kid who played James at Sixteen. Remember that one? Then for a summer back in the 80s I was regularly misstaken for John Cougar Mellencamp. I get Denis Leary all the time, used to get Michael J. Fox, and for about three days in the late 90s, in certain light and at extreme and glancing angles, the left side of my face was Matt Damon.

Those were good days.

My weird thing is, none of those people look anything like each other. And yet I am the Big Tent where all can gather.

Workshop is rocking. Found the opening music for the show, The Eels Novocaine for the Soul off of the Beautiful Freak album. Start it at a moderate volume and then just keep turning it up as the houselights fade and the assembled audience starts wondering just what the hell they're in for. Louder and louder until it cuts out abruptly as the curtain swings open and the show leaps off of the stage.

Lori Hoeflinger. Now, she gets in free all the time. That's quite a name.

I knew her as Lori Lengyel before Mr. Hoeflinger entered the scene. You must love a man a lot to agree to Hoeflinger. I think its a German name, comes from a Bavarian tradition where the men in town would gather and see how far they could fling the "ladies of the night". Just harmless, old-time German fun.

Off to work. So long, Mitt. Johnny Mac is smiling today.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Scrappy's Grad School Alternative

Hey, kids!

Want to prep yourself for a life of relentless disappointment and grinding, unending days and nights of cultural irrelevancy?

Sure you do!

Here at Scrappy Jack's School of Higher Learning and Home for Wayward Girls, we care about the young and the feckless.

We don't want to see you wasting your precious time and money sitting in some airless classroom listening to some failed, lying old bastard telling war stories about his brief and terrifying foray into the real world back in the early 70s. You're young, kids, and some of you are damned good-looking, so come on over and sit on Uncle Scrappy's knee and take the good tip 'cause I'm giving it for free.

Here's all you want to do:

1. Learn how to ride a horse, well.
2. Learn how to fence, passably.
3. Learn how to sing. (Everyone, actually, can sing. It's more about listening and finding a song you like than about singing.)

All that above will take you, conservatively, two to three years. During that time, read every play you can and read everything, anything, that in any tangential way has to do with the theater. Read biographies of old melodrama stars, read studies of Yiddish theater, read Clurman and Craig and Blau and absolutely anything at all, from the boring, dead prose of the academics to the scribbled, frantic notes of production books.

Also, read the paper everyday, you little cyberworld bastards. Find a paper, a physical thing, and read it. You can't read a script online the way you can read it in your hands, you need to get used to holding a thing, looking at it, looking back up at the world, etc.

After this two to three year period, move to New York City if you want to work onstage or L.A. if you want to work in TV or film. Both mediums are fine and honorable, just choose the one that makes you happier and concentrate on it for awhile.

And all due respect to my brethren and sistern in Chicago, Austin, Minneapolis, Dallas, etc., but I'm talking to those scamps out there that are hungry and crazy enough to believe that they won't need a day job by the time they're 30. It's one of the two coasts, kids, that's where the action is.

Now you're in sunny L.A. or Big Bad Rat City. Three years have gone by and you're getting used to reading your ass off. Find a place to live that's quiet and not ridiculously expensive. Find a survival job that doesn't physically kick your ass all day or night. Get a few friends, life is much harder without them. You're ready, now, for the part you have no control over.

If you're very brave and very lucky and very diligent and very patient, and if you're willing, without question, to take every single job offered to you, you have a shot, an outside shot, at paying your bills with the money you earn by acting within five to ten years.

And you'll have no debt to pay off and, most importantly,

You'll be able to ride a horse, fence and sing.

And any one of those three skills might save your life someday.

I guarantee you that knowing the given circumstances of a scene from The Glass Menagerie will never, in any situation, save your life.

So think about that next time you start eyeing the quiet, peaceful groves of Northwestern, Yale and UCLA.

You little bastards.

This has been Scrappy Jack, yer pal and personal trainer, speaking to the youth of this great nation. Be sure to come on down to the Museum this Friday and Saturday, it's Bingo and Booze night, all weekend long. As always, folks with funny names get in for free and please, no more of those Pizza Hut coupons, I misspoke back in the fall.



Wednesday, February 06, 2008

split decision


What happened? The Clash of the Senators continues, both able to claim either momentum or endurance. Senator O won a bunch of lilly-white states, which added to Iowa make him look like the people's candidate and not the black guy. Clinton took the Golden State, which, depending on who rigged which local polling station, could be the ballgame.

Senator Clinton, from me to you, please fire your speechwriting staff or at least wake them up before they write another word. I know you're going up against a guy who can make a cereal box sing, but that's no reason to just give up on the language.

Here's a tip:

Stop giving State of the Union addresses. You haven't, technically, won it yet. We like to hear a candidate want it a little. The Inevitable Shuffle was a great dance last year, time to learn a new move.

Story of the night for me was Huckabee. He didn't go away, it turns out, just stepped out of the limelight and got organized.

And super-delegates are what, exactly? Delegates that can fly? Delegates that can melt steel with their minds? I'm confused.

Continuing to rock steady with Overlord. Learning so much. Such a great place to work, down at Soho Think Tank's sixth floor studio on Wooster Street. Starting on Friday we're going to open the workshop to people in the afternoon, if anyone wants to come down and observe, just let me know. Can't have a mob, but new people in the room always keeps the players on their toes.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

big day

Well, it's here. It's dawned.

Today, February 5th, is Super Bowl/Oscar Night/Kentucky Derby Day for us political junkies. It's never happened before, might not again in my lifetime, 24 states, nationwide, from California to the New York islands, all casting their ballots for four people all with legitimate shots at the nomination. I'm working all day on the Overlord workshop over on Wooster Street then jumping in a cab at 6:00 and hope to be home by the time the polls close.

Here are the headlines in the World-Wide Theatrical Daily News:

Johnny Mac Battles the Mittbot

The human John McCain appears to be pulling ahead of his worthy, if scary, opponent, the intelligent robot from space. The Mittbot, with the strength of ten men and the ability to shoot fire from its eyes, should not be discounted since, after all, its a fucking robot from outer space. When do those things lose, really?

Senator O Confident, Senator Clinton Mad as All Hell

Barack Obama frankly can't believe what may just happen, but he's very, very cool so he's riding it. Hilary Clinton can't believe this shit either, but mostly can't believe that this pup from Illinios is screwing up her shot. Reports from inside the Obama camp say they've put a big sign up above everybody's desk back at headquarters:

Youth and Strength are no match for Age and Treachery.

And they're right, my friends.

What a night this is going to be. Some pundits last night were telling me that it may not even be decided tonight, at least not on the Democrat side. Johnny will probably wake up on Wednesday as the nominee, but Obama and Clinton could wrestle all the way to the convention. O hell yes. Democracy is not a sport, but then again, we're not really a democracy. And it's so goddamned fun to watch.

Amazing day yesterday with the Overlord crew. Eric Davis, aka Red Bastard, gave us a master bouffon class in the afternoon. All I want to do with my life now is study with Eric Davis and perform bouffon. I want to live bouffon. I am bouffon.

Answer to the music quiz, which was greeted with profound indifference from you, faithless reader, is number four, The New Crazies. Mojo Nixon is, of course, the genius preacher turned rockabilly crazy responsible for such classics as "Debbie Gibson is Pregnant (with my Two-Headed Lovechild)" and "I Saw Jesus at McDonalds at Midnight". Screaming Blue Messiahs are an Australian band from a few years back, if you can find their "Wild Blue Yonder", you'll be quite happy. Pay the Man was the bait I thought folks might take, since I don't think they ever actually recorded anything. They were a college band at Oberlin, led by Chris Brokaw, my old buddy who went on to become a modern guitar god with the Boston band Come. They did a punk/thrash version of "Both Sides Now" I can still hear in my head. Brilliant.

Clearly the Monday Morning Music Quiz is a tradition I plan to keep. Writing about music and making up band names is a lot easier than having something to say.

This Friday the LIT Steering Committee meets for what I hope to be the last time. Time to get this thing back out to the larger territory and kick into the next gear.

Wherever you are today, vote. My friend and elder Norman Marshall said that not voting is his way of voting or some such horseshit. Total horseshit. Norm's about 70, so clearly he's starting to dodder. Fucking vote, folks. It's what we do around here.

I am Bouffon.

Monday, February 04, 2008

pray for you, pray for me

The great Joe Henry's Civilians keeps playing through my troubled mind, the perfect chorus repeating:

Pray for you, pray for me
Sing it like a song
Life is short
But, by the grace of God,
The night is long

Ah, it's true.

Hilarious weekend with Ambrose and Mary out on Long Island. Great food, much drink and many, many fires. I appointed myself Fire Marshal and since no one seemed to object, I spent the weekend lugging in logs from the back yard, building the blaze higher and higher, quietly grunting in satisfaction to myself while the other monkeys talked about life and literature. Got right back to that Cro-Magnon part of me where I live most of the time, or wish I could, anyway.

Saw a Times headline this morning:

U.S. Says It Accidentally Killed 9 Iraqi Civilians

Isn't that a bit like Chrysler annoucing they may have made six or seven cars last year? Not sure, have to check our records, but we might have made some SUVs...

Going into the diving bell this morning with the Captain Overlord workshop. Can't even type to you what a joy that's going to be. Like most artists here in America in the 21st century, I spend at least half of my time as Fast Eddie, hustling up games, luring in the fish, setting up the next score. To sit in a clean, large, well-lit room with a bunch of talented, funny people and concentrate on a piece of theater all day gets me right back to who I really am.

Not the Cro-Magnon part, but almost as good.

And here's the Monday Morning Music Quiz, a tradition here at the Museum dating all the way back to last week:

Of the following, which are actual rock n' roll geniuses, fine musicians all, and which did I just make up out of my own muddled mind?

1. Screaming Blue Messiahs
2. Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper
3. Pay the Man
4. The New Crazies

No jumping on to Itunes and looking it up, you cheating bastards. Just go with your gut.

I'm off to be an artist, got to find my scarf and beret.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Art, meet Life. Life, Art.

Got a script last week from Joe Sutton, a three-hander called Complicit. A journalist, his wife and his lawyer. Journalist is being pressured by a grand jury to give up his source on a story about C.I.A. black site prisons. Great language, spare, sharp, just three smart, scared people dueling it out. A little bit of water-boarding onstage just for the visual jolt. Really great. More of a "play" than we usually like to do, but I'm shopping it around.

This morning, I'm reading about James Risen of the New York Times, getting subpoenaed to give up his sources for a chapter in his book "State of War". This after Judith Miller spent 85 days in jail back in 2005.

85 days.

What the holy hell happened to this country? In about 350 days, someone else will take the oath on TV, either Clinton, Obama or McCain, most likely. But have any of them pledged, clearly and uneqivocally, to give up the unconstitutional and deeply un-American presidential powers the Idiot has granted himself? If so, I haven't heard about it.

One of the things I love about Complicit is that it states, without stating it, that we are all, yes, complicit. Journalists, Democrats, citizens all. We were all standing here, watching it happen.

Great line from the Dresden Dolls song "Sing".

"All the world's history gradually dying of shock..."

Writing up a project description for Overlord for the MAP Fund yesterday, and you know how you start to lie and over-reach when you're trying to get funding? Came up with something good. I've decided that Overlord is part two of a three part series, starting with Fatboy and ending with my Woyzeck. They're all new plays that are inspired by traditional dramatic forms or texts. The intent of all three is to hijack old forms and implode them, drive them to places they never thought they'd end up. And the name of the trilogy?

Kill the Zombies.

Heh heh.


That makes me very happy.

Oh, and I think I forget to mention Bill Coelius as a member of the LIT Steering Committee. Don't know, too lazy to go back and look at that old post, but I'm pretty sure I forgot Bill. Which is funny, because earlier this week we almost sent Bill a 1099 for a show that he wasn't in.

Gets confusing here at the Museum some days, especially when those damned tour groups come through. Screaming kids with their sticky hands and ice-cream smeared faces wanting to touch the displays, wetting their pants right on the main floor, rough-housing with each other. We got a big sign right in front, clear as day:

No Horseplay Allowed

But do they listen? O hell no. It's just horseplay all day long.