Tuesday, September 30, 2008

we're wired in the woods

I see no reason to ever return to Civilization.

Fatboy is the L.A. Weekly's pick of the week, check it out at:


Ann and Rose win again, John Phillips wrote the song and Johnny Walker Red is always the right answer regardless of the question.

I've got to start coming up with harder questions, but that would require thinking about it before I sit down, which sort of violates the blog's Prime Directive.


No. False alarm, we're cool. It was Nan bringing me a drink.

Good thing this Winchester has a safety.



Big spider.

We're cool.

Monday, September 29, 2008

red-eyed, foul-mouthed...

and ready to rumble.

Touched down in Rat City at 5:25 A.M. this morning, just like the pilot said we would back in California.

Few can be trusted these days but pilots remain an honest throw-back. If your man says you're flying at 10,000 feet, by god, he's got a needle that can prove it. And when he says there "may be a few bumps up ahead", strap your ass in because you're going on a ride.

Uneventful flight, best kind.

The L.A. Fatboy crew did themselves and me proud on Friday night with the L.A. Times and the Weekly both in the house. It was messy as hell, but they delivered, like watching a team run broken play after broken play, but score on every possession. Great bunch of artists out there at needtheater, very proud to be working with them.

Spent the weekend catching up with old Cali friends, Cass and David and Melissa and Jeff and Mary and John and Morgan and all of their beautiful, mostly blonde, kids.

We're staggering a bit from the weight of the many miles, but the plan is to re-pack, load up Car 220 and high-tail it out to the Poconos hide-out for a couple of weeks. Internet guy comes tomorrow, so I may be posting from the compound, just imagine me all done up in flannel, a Winchester rifle resting casually in my lap, ears alert for any sign of approaching marauding bears.

Oh, we got bear.

And all kind of mountain vermin. Deer the size of tractor trailers, chipmunks like bull terriers. Mountain life, man. It's crazy up there.

Our MMMQ reaches back to the days of Hippie Heaven on the West Coast, when all seemed possible and everyone sang, or at least recorded, in glorious harmony.

California Dreamin', sung by the Mamas and the Papas, was written by which hugely talented John?

Was it the pen of:

1. John Phillips

2. John Entwistle

3. John Bonham

4. John Lennon


5. John Philip Sousa?

Winners get a three-picture deal with Universal, losers shoot a Western in Guadalajara, six months on location, no running water.

To the Poconos!

Bears be damned.

Friday, September 26, 2008

friday in the promised land

I'd like to sit here and post away, but there's an orange tree in the backyard and rumors of an ocean to the West of here.

I'm going to the beach.

Me and Matt D. and George and Leo and Spitfire will be on the shore discussing Ocean's 14, in which a group of Hollywood A-listers hang on the Lower East Side and meet up with a bunch of Rat City theater-types.

It's going to be huge.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

when bold crosses over to bizarre

For the good of the country, I'm going to suspend this blog until the financial crisis is solved or... something.

What the hell is going on inside of Johnny Mac's mind?

I make a living imagining things and I'm drawing a blank.

Panic? Embarrassment? Sleep-deprivation resulting in some sort of psychotic break?

Curiouser and curiouser, my friends.

McGee and I are off to L.A. to watch the fat man, home Monday morning.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

free night

Circle October 16th in your calendars, me droogs.

That's Free Night here in the New York theater world, an event that the League of Independent Theater is behind, along with ART/NY, TDF, the Arts and Business Council and the Off Broadway League.

If you're a League member, let us know what you're doing that night and we'll throw some publicity your way.

We're about to get cooking on the League again, our Managing Director, the lovely Abby Marcus, had to take some time off to get married, but now she's back, wed and ready to rock. Congrats, Abby and Qui.

This is my last full day in Rat City for about three weeks and it looks gorgeous outside. Need to walk around and soak it up, the sirens and the construction debris, the swerving, honking taxis and the screaming packs of children swarming outside the schools. Not a lot of that in L.A. and none at all in the Pocono Mountains.

Going to see The Invitation tonight, haven't seen it since opening weekend. They close this Saturday, see it if you haven't yet.

What else?

Democrats in Congress are showing a little backbone, which is what they usually do before they cave and give the White House whatever it wants.

Big news the last few days is that someone ran a poll that shows that race may be a factor in some voters' decision. I am shocked, shocked that there is gambling on these premises.

Big debate Friday. I'm predicting Obama winning with a TKO, third round. Just hammer away, hit all the buttons that make Johnny crazy, keep hitting them and then step back and let him self-detonate.

Johnny's wrapped so tight these days he's begging to blow, just give him the opportunity.

I heard that Palin's handlers have asked that the Palin-Biden debate be modified to exclude any actual questions being asked and that no reporters, photographers or audience of any kind be allowed into the debate hall. Just her and Joe and some private time.

Sounds reasonable.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

a great night

Doped my way over to the Haft Auditorium last night up on 27th Street for the fourth annual New York Innovative Theater Awards.

It's the only award show in the city dedicated to the pure Off-Off or Indie theater world and it's always a party.

Martin and Rochelle Denton, the tireless advocates at New York Theater Experience, were awarded the Stewardship Award and rarely have I seen something so right.

Boomerang Theater took home the Cafe Cino Fellowship, good on you, Tim.

And then I'm listening to Judith Malina and Edward Albee and Olympia Dukakis and Tina Howe all just overjoyed to "come back home", as I think they all said at least twice.

Very moving. It was fifty years ago that Joe Cino opened up his cafe, sixty-one years ago that the Living Theater formed.

And we're still here. Despite landlords, Reagan, AIDS, Guiliani, podcasts, karaoke, zoning laws, institutional indifference and our own foolishness and lack of common purpose, we're still here.

I'm so very grateful that a large part of my life has happened here, in the small theaters of New York, in the same spaces where Genet and Ionesco and Brecht and Shepard and Albee were first heard in this country, in the dressing rooms where Hoffman and Hackmen and Clayburgh and Freeman once shivered.

Off-Off is not a way station and it's not an audition for anything else. It's the thing itself. It's where you're going to see what's next. It's still the most vibrant and entertaining and surprising sector of New York theater.

And it's cheaper and a whole lot friendlier than uptown.

We have three correct answers to the MMMQ, a Museum record, I believe.

Ann is right because, as usual, she supplied the correct answer. "It says here the unions will never learn" sang Mr. Bragg.

Rose is right because she's Rose and that's the way it goes around here. No one ever said life is fair.

And my little sister Mern a la Mern is right, because I haven't thought of Dina Suggs in a long time and that memory deserves something.

Full day of doing what I do today. Trying to clear the decks so's I can go to L.A. on Thursday with nothing hanging over me and then when we get back we can drive out to the Poconos with nothing waiting back here for us but a fat, sleeping cat and clean laundry.

Congrats again to Martin and Rochelle and Tim and all the other winners last night and thanks to Shay, Nick and Jason for putting that thing together. It's a joy to watch.

Monday, September 22, 2008

first day of the paulson administration

Stole that line from George Will, but an honest thief doesn't care who he steals from.

I'm starting to think my mother-in-law is right.

Mary is an old-school Yankee Democrat and she's seen it all from Hoover on. A few years back she started saying, half-jokingly, that George W. Bush must be an enemy agent, sent by his masters to destroy America from within. It was the only explanation she could come up with for the comprehensive and unrelenting disaster of his time behind the Desk. I'd tell her no, he's just a garden-variety Idiot with angry, selfish advisers, but now I don't know.

We now live in a socialist state. And I'm all for socialism, I just prefer the kind that takes care of the young and the sick and the old over the kind that emphasizes state control of the economic sector.

But that's just me.

Milton Friedman's policies (popularly know around here as Reaganomics or trickle-down theory), have, once again, when strictly applied in a real market-place, failed spectacularly. Just as they did in Chile, in Poland, in Russia and everywhere else they've been tried. They call for complete deregulation of industry, destruction of the unions, elimination of the minimum wage, etc.

And they don't work.

It's not a credible theory anymore. It's not something that anyone can honestly and with any intellectual integrity argue for anymore. It has to go sit in the corner with the Flat Earth theory and get laughed at whenever the class wants to feel better about itself.

So, the GOP has to go out and find itself a brand-new domestic policy real quick and the rest of us have to get used to calling each other "comrade", or at least "citizen".

"Brother and sister"?

We killed in Beacon, comrades. America the Beautiful sang up there, had ourselves two packed houses. Learned a lot about the piece, most of all that it works. Need to find a way to produce it.

Our MMMQ on this first day of the New Order reaches back to the work of that English one-man revolutionary party, Billy Bragg. The opening line of his great "It Says Here" is:

1. We should be proud that we are free.

2. The economy is on the upturn.

3. The unions will never learn.

4. We have nothing to fear.


5. My legal name is Declan Suggs.

Winners get a dascha, losers go off to a re-education camp, so choose wisely my brothers and sisters.

Friday, September 19, 2008

traveling man

I spent all of yesterday on Virgin Flight 318, crossing this great country from California to the New York islands.

Big country. Mountains out there in the middle of it, forgot about those.

Saw a stumble-through of the L.A. Fatboy on Wednesday night. Once they learn their lines, that's going to be a great production. Excellent cast, beautiful design and a really good bunch of people working on it. We're going back on Thursday the 25th to see the opening on the 26th and then hang a few days in Los Angeles.

But first we head up to Beacon, NY for a reading of C.J. Hopkins' America the Beautiful. Actually, two readings, tonight and tomorrow.

Papa was a rolling stone, man.

Feel like I've been on a forced march since early August, working on at least two shows at a time, changing time zones every other week, hustling and juking and waking up and doing it again.

No complaints, good to be busy.

But when we get back from L.A. next week, I'm going to hide out in the woods for a few days.

If you're in New York, come on down to the Ohio Theater for The Invitation. If you're in Beacon, NY, come on down for America the Beautiful. If you're in L.A., get your tickets for Fatboy.

And if you're anywhere else, god bless you and keep you safe.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

the wilds of los feliz

I write to you hunkered down at the needtheater's compound off of Santa Monica Boulevard. Outside someone is attacking a lawn with a very large and loud machine. Palm trees watch him from above. There's an orange tree in the back yard.

This must be the promised land.

Met the L.A. Fatboy cast and crew last night at an Indian restaurant in Los Feliz. Great bunch of people. Watching a run-through tonight and then tomorrow back to Rat City.

Ended up at the Dresden last night and stayed well into this morning, some kind of Los Angeles institution, watching Marty and Elaine do a jazz routine that a young Dean Martin wouldn't have blinked at. Hugely, earnestly retro and a lot of fun.

Out to the sunshine now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

heading westerly

Jumping on a big old jet airliner this morning, plans are to be in Los Angeles this afternoon. Checking out the Fatboy rehearsals, maybe stare at the Pacific Ocean for a change.

I lived in L.A. for awhile back in the late 80s, down in the Echo Park area.

Loved it.

Great place to be poor, always warm.

Saw a reading of Don Nigro's Traitors last night at Urban Stages. Excellent work. It's all about the Alger Hiss case and I'm usually not a fan of historical drama, but this was fascinating.

Ann and Rose have won again.

When life looks easy street, there is danger at your door.

And so, logically, you would pack your bags and run.


And that's my cue.

We lost Richard Wright, founding member of Pink Floyd.

Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Glorious sunrise coming up over the East River outside my window, think I'll get on a plane and see what's on the other side of it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

monday, monday

Can't trust that day.

Actually, I look out the window this morning with complete confidence and acceptance, assuming nothing.

I look at my day-runner and see that it has slowed to a crawl.

Have to go see a reading of a new Nigro play tonight, that's it.

Tomorrow it just says "Fly to L.A.".

By gob, my race has been run for this month and I see a little break opening up.

Matt Oberg delivered The Event last night at Barrow Street Theater, thanks all for showing up. Good buzz in the bar afterwards, the show should have some kind of life in the near future.

The Invitation is up and running down at the Ohio in Soho. Always a great feeling as a director when you can walk away from a show, knowing that the actors and the stage manager and the running crew have everything in hand and are making the show better every night without your meddling presence.

I've got some writing to finish up and a lot of LIT work to start in on, but other than that, your faithful correspondent is going to be lying about on the couch listening to the stereo and watching the stock market crash today.

Our MMMQ consults the oracle of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. In the opening lines of Uncle John's Band (to be played at my funeral, over and over, by the way) we are all instructed that "when life looks like Easy Street"...

1. ...don't you worry anymore.

2. ...you better pack your bags and run.

3. ... there is danger at your door.

4. ...a hard rain's gonna fall.


5. ...let's go surfin' now, everybody's learning how, come on a safari with me.

Winners get the peace of mind of being right, losers get a fifty-eight percent ownership of Lehman Brothers.

Friday, September 12, 2008

nice words

Got some good notices for The Invitation from Martin Denton and Aaron Riccio, check out www.nytheatre.com and www.newtheatercorps.blogspot.com.

Show is humming right along.

I'm focused on The Event now, we do one night only at Barrow Street Theater this Sunday, 5 PM. Just show up, it's 15 bucks and you get a free beer. Matt and I did a podcast on the show last week, also up at www.nytheatre.com.

Then next week I'm California-bound, flying to L.A. on Tuesday to look in on Fatboy rehearsals. The show opens on the 26th, plays for awhile, so if you're out there in the Golden State, come on down and watch the fat man rage.

Good to be busy.

Walking home from the theater last night through Chinatown and I thought about how I could use a jacket.

Ah, the fall.

My favorite season and the best time to be in Rat City with the hard blue sky and the leaves swirling down.

Out in the Poconos it's already cold in the mornings, me and Spitfire were shivering and rubbing our ice-block feet against each other a few days back.

Come out and see the shows, or don't and spend some time walking around holding onto someone else's hand watching the leaves fall and thinking on your Halloween costume.

This year I'm going as Samantabhadra, the primordial lord, the unchanging buddha-body of light, the Buddah Body of Reality.

He's blue in color.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

finish line, memories, sadness

Official opening of The Invitation last night with the New York Times sitting there in the house, incarnated in the person of Neil Genzingler. It was our best show yet, so we'll see what they say.

We did our job now he has to do his.

It's the anniversary of that terrible day and I'm sitting right where I was sitting seven years ago, about a mile and a half east of where the towers used to stand.

This from the journal:

Manhattan shut down south of 14th Street. No planes in sky except for occasional jet fighter. Streets deserted. Death toll still unreported, guesses range start in low thousands. Tired, unable to sleep. The ghosts of the dead drift by the window, invisible and in infinitesimal tiny fragments. We breathe them in; we wipe them from our sills. Or are we the ghosts, still walking, lost, looking at each other questioningly and silent?

Gallows humor arrived today. Someone blames Peter Vallone in a last-minute bid to suspend the election. The happiest man in America? Gary Condit. Bush openly and deeply mocked, of course. All the officials on CNN seem red-faced, drunk. Endless replay of the planes plowing into the towers, fireballs blooming, gray smoke billowing, covering the view like a window shade drawn over a private act. And even seeing it the second time I know it will join the greatest hits clip with the Roman candle Challenger corkscrewing through the sky and Reagan being pushed to the ground by thick men in suits.

Today in a gesture of resilience and an admission of exhaustion I mute CNN and put on Cowboy Junkies, The Trinity Sessions. Nancy and I eat breakfast, eggs, waffles, coffee.
No newspapers. No school kids in the yard across the street. No death toll. No words, of course, but there are always words. Incomplete, embarrassing, mawkish, but necessary as oxygen. They are arresting people in Boston and southern Florida. They are digging through mountains of rubble in lower Manhattan. They are driving trucks of blood into New York City. German shepards are patrolling empty airports, stock markets are shivering and sliding in Asia, gas prices are spiking in St. Louis, people are weeping with no hope of comfort, children are dancing in the streets of foreign capitals, lawmakers are being briefed, the Cowboy Junkies are singing on my stereo. I am writing this. We are all moving on. The dust of the dead coats my tongue as I light another cigarette.
The wife of an old friend, a veteran of the 93 bombing, works in the second tower, 97th floor. She hears the impact of the first plane, sees the opposite tower burning...

Old friends, lost by time and geography, call, some reaching our parents. We speak. Our language consists of "We're OK. We’re OK. Is everyone OK? Yeah. Yeah, we're OK”. And we are. Dazed. Shaky. But OK.
First words from the politician’s mouths are vengeance. Retribution. All the carefully-coiffed melonheads of power directing the world to "make no mistake" "Don't doubt our resolve". When at anytime in the last 25 years has any individual or nation on this earth doubted American resolve? We were the ones who invaded Grenada, remember? We invaded the Philippines. We blew up the Chinese embassy and refused to apologize. Is our resolve in doubt? Bush, blinking, round-eyed, assures us that the foundation of our resolve is secure. Repeats "we're at war", so many times it's as though he's trying to convince himself that this is really happening.

Journalists and politicians join in the indelicate but unavoidable dance, blood and money.

6:51 PM No milk in either bodega. Have to show ID to policeman at all cross streets on Houston and Delancey. City is strange; I realize there is no rhythm. Usually the city's beat is as hypnotic and intrusive as house music. We are adrift. I hear a recorded message. "Due to the events of Sept. 11th.”

Mom gets "due to a tornado in the area of your call.” As we hang up she says, “Oh, and watch out for that tornado, kiddo.” CNN scrolls, "Across the nation Americans gather around televisions at stores, bars, airport lounges." It occurs to me that you could run this banner underneath any news story at any time, this being a consistent activity of Americans.

Last night I drink over half a liter of Johnny Walker Red. No buzz.

Wednesday night: We got to Amy's birthday party at a restaurant in the West Village. The wind is blowing north and the smoke is bad. Run into Bree and friends. At the bar we're in Belfast. Meet a cardiologist who has been called down twice, done nothing. I ask him what it's like. He grins, shakes his head, and says nothing. We drink. Bomb scare at the Empire State building. We drink. Buy soy milk on Ave A on the way home.
Walk by vigil at Washington Square Park. In the darkness lit by hundreds of candles we hear a crowd singing God Bless America. The smoke hangs above the park.

A bad day, made bearable by the love and support of a lot of friends.

clawing my way back

Just barely here at the desk after a few unspeakably blissful days up in the Poconos mountains.

The Mountains!

God, you just want to run amok and tackle the plentiful deer.

Ann, Lori and, yes, Rose are all winners of the long-since contested MMMQ.

Never bet against the King.

Unless you're in a yellow submarine.

Thanks to all for the anniversary wishes.

Ms. McGee and I had ourselves a time.

The Mountains!

You can watch a storm brewing up out there and catch it in your paw if you're quick enough, use that bastard to make a serious kettle of coffee, then invite the bears in for a sit-down, see if you can't work it all out civil-like.

If not, it's all just rage and bloodshed and no-one wants that.

Monday, September 08, 2008

up and running

Had our first press in to The Invitation last night. More tonight and then we officially open on Wednesday.

The show is cooking right along, very happy with it. Come on down to the Ohio Theater for 72 minutes of banter, quips and full-on hysteria.

And yesterday me and Ms. McGee celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. The Scrappy Jack and the Fireball Kid Show has been up and running for over 20 years now. Same basic script since the beginning and most of the same jokes, but it works like a dream.

We're heading out of town tonight after the show to celebrate in the Poconos, probably won't be back until sometime Wednesday afternoon. No internet out at the cabin yet, so probably a light week on the old blog.

In honor of the nuptial day back in 1991, our MMMQ asks which song did the very young Jack and the even younger Spitfire sway and giggle to as their official first dance?

Was it:

1. I Can't Help Falling in Love With You

2. The Best is Yet to Come

3. Tempted


4. Paradise by the Dashboard Light

Winners get a wedding photo of their choice, losers get stuck with the catering bill.

Friday, September 05, 2008

strange words in the late hours

Got home from a good, solid thrash-through of The Invitation last night and caught a re-play of McCain's acceptance speech.

My friends and fellow Americans, I'm confused and a little bit freaked.

Is that how dumb they think we are?

And knowing how smart and focused any political campaign at this level is, the next question is:

Is that actually how dumb we are?

He spoke for what seemed like hours and the only actual concrete thing I heard was he'd make the Bush tax cuts permanent.

The rest was anti-government rhetoric, bizarre and disjointed calls for change, sudden one-line slams of Obama and, in what is becoming embarrassing, more true tales from the Hanoi Hilton.

Don't know if it's reached the mainstream media yet, but John McCain spent five years in a Vietcong prison being tortured. Could have got out early, didn't. Very honorable thing to have done. Proves he was a tough, brave and honorable young man.

Has zero bearing on his ability to be the President of the United States, of course, but it's not like he's running on his time in the Hanoi Hilton.

Although, I swear they introduced him last night as "a man who lived in a box. A box. A box, a box, a box."

Like a Dr. Seuss story that just never quite got off the ground.

And then, in the middle of the muddled ramble that was his speech, a very strange phrase popped up. Johnny Mac, the Arizona Wildcat, promised the crowd that:

"The party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan is going to get back to basics."

I went and checked the text of the speech online to make sure it wasn't some slip-up. Nope. That's what they wrote down.

Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan.

Which one of these things is not like the other?

Was he referencing Teddy Roosevelt?

In which case, don't you have to say that, like you'd say Jeb Bush if you said Lincoln, Bush, Reagan?

Or do they figure we're so stupid you can just say anything and we'll nod and clap?

Lincoln is fair, they can claim Lincoln forever. The Republicans can invoke Lincoln the same way modern-day Greece can claim Aristotle, it's true but has no actual meaning past being a factual statement.

But Roosevelt?

Reagan and the modern Republican party has had one stated mission over the last seventy years: Repeal, reverse and abolish the New Deal.

And they're doing a pretty good job of it lately.

Johnny wrapped up his ramble last night with,

"We never hide from history. We make history."

Or, make up history.

Pure blather with a side of lies, that's what I got served last night.

Come on, folks.

Honor the guy all you want, but the Presidency is not a retirement present you give to a man in gratitude for his long service.

Ask Bob Dole.

It's a real job.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

late night

Got our first full-on lights and sound run of The Invitation last night. Great work all around, but didn't get out of there until after 11 and then dropped by to see Fred Backus and Eva's Stewart up at a bar on St. Marks, so didn't get home until around midnight, stayed up just winding down until 2:30.

The Odd Couple is on at 2:00 on one of those channels, in case you find yourself up late and in need of some old-school comedy. A very, very young Albert Brooks was on the show last night, playing a self-described "happening teen-ager". Huge hair, enormous gold-rimmed glasses, tailored suit and tie.

Speaking of odd couples...

I missed Palin's speech, but everyone else seems to be missing the point, or being beaten away from it by the angry right.

Palin may turn out to be Harry S. Truman or Harriet Meyers, we don't know yet, but that doesn't matter.

Her selection says nothing about Palin.

The point is that McCain made the choice because his handlers told him she'd help elect him President. That's it. He chose someone he didn't know and still doesn't know. He chose a highly recommended resume after a brief conversation. So he doesn't know if she's Harry Truman or Harriet Meyers or Harriet Tubman or Joe McCarthy or Jerry Falwell or Ma Kettle.

Again, doesn't really matter who she turns out to be, the salient point is that the man who wants to run our country just demonstrated that it's not important to him what happens to our country in the event he dies in office.

Just not that important.

So when they come back with her qualifications, the reporters just have to nod and say;

"Yes, but you didn't know that when you offered her the job."

And Johnny Mac, that Grinning Gipper of Death, is on the losing side of the actuarial tables.

I don't actually know what actuarial tables are, but my point is that he's an old guy and the chances of his VP actually stepping in and getting behind the Big Desk are higher than if he was, say, 47.

I'm just saying.

The Invitation is a Voice Choice this week as well as a New York Magazine theater pick. Getting both the uptown and the downtown vote.

Come down to the Ohio Theater, first public performance is Friday and we play right through, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Then Wednesdays through Saturdays throughout the month. But come early, they need a crowd to play with.

And hold that date: Sunday, September 14, 5 PM, Matt Oberg performs my new piece The Event, one night only at The Barrow Street Theater.

Lots of good theater for all of you bad people.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

living at the Ohio

I've been waking up every day since Saturday and walking over to the Ohio Theater to get The Invitation ready for friends, family and strangers to look at.

First public performance is Friday, come on down.

There's a real joy and serenity in putting together a new piece with a group of dedicated, focused artists. It's a quiet joy, like a long Christmas morning with family or a summer evening when you're outside and you don't have anywhere to go and you don't want to be anywhere else than where you are and the sun takes its time setting.

When you're a few days out and the crew is still finishing the set and someone's up there painting something and someone else is up on a ladder tying something off and they're making each other laugh and the 70s rock and roll is playing from the booth, the director will usually sit out in the house, third or fourth row, notebook in his lap and just stare at the stage.

You see the whole show, you see the actor's moves and you hear the lines and you track the rise and fall of the argument and it all gets very simple.

You scrawl down a note, stare at the stage for awhile longer and then scratch it out and stare some more.

And then you stand up suddenly, walk onstage and move a chair four inches downstage. You stand on the lip of the stage, eyeball the chair, check it against the back wall, walk back to your seat and look at the whole thing and nod.

All of these small, ultimately inconsequential adjustments and decisions you make before the actors show up add up to very little at the end of the day, but doing them mindfully, making those small choices with all the time in the world gives a balance and a strength to the whole project that is almost unnoticeable, but unmistakable in the finished project.

Truth is, if you have a good script and you cast brave actors with strong physical instruments and you're working with a smart, hard-working design team with a few sets of good eyes and you're able to get the actors to talk fast and be mindful of the rhythm of the language, it doesn't matter whether that chair is four inches up or downstage.

But it's a good feeling when you stare at the stage for awhile longer and move the chair back to its original position.

Ann and Rose both got the TMMQ right. Ann because she got the right answer, The Passenger, and Rose because Rose's pick is always right, doesn't matter if it's factually correct.

Oh, and Joe Lieberman is a worthless sack of shit, in case anyone was wondering.

A worthless, phlegmatic, constipated, morally bankrupt, lying sack of shit.

That's you, Senator Lieberman.

God bless and good luck with those memoirs.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

good morning to you

Looks like we all made it to September.

Change those calendars, put on your school uniform and get ready to pretend to care about football for a few months. Autumnal winds shall blow, the leaves will reveal their true colors before they spin to the ground and before you know it, it will be Halloween, you'll be wearing your old leather jacket, stomping around Rat City complaining about the cold.

Spent the whole long week-end holed up at the Ohio Theater over in Soho, meditating hard on The Invitation. First audience on Friday. It's going to look gorgeous, thanks to Rose Howard and her wonder team and the illuminating stylings of Eric Southern. Bizarre to being working on a Parks' play with a set. Usually I just ask the actors to stroll out there and start talking fast.

We're looking for a few interns to help out with the show, so if you're young and hardy and don't mind the sight of blood, let me know. Need to be available nights, Wed-Sat, through September. No money, but you'll be privy to the endless backstage bits of Paul Urcioli and David Calvitto and that, kids, is a life lesson that all should learn.

I'm shilling for the show and the League of Independent Theater today on WBAI, 99.5 FM. We're on the Tuesday Afternoon Arts Magazine, sometime between 2:00 and 3:00. You can hear it online at www.wbai.org, I'm told.

Word just broke that Governor Sarah Palin is a meth-head, her Mom once lived with a polar bear and an anagram of her name is ANAL RASH, PI.

You'd think they would have at least checked out that anagram thing.

But seriously, what kind of complete contempt for the office and for us does Johnny's offer to someone he talked to for twenty minutes show? This is the sort of calm, deliberative mind we want running things next year?

Palin's qualifications seem to be that she's against abortion and also has a uterus. That's all I can really get from anyone. The current Runner-Up Miss Alaska isn't talking, but maybe that's because she doesn't want to blow her chance for the Supreme Court when Johnny's in charge.

Make that two coats, Ann, and no dripping.

The Republicans have adjusted their convention to deal with the Storm of the Week and so here at the Museum we've adjusted our MMMQ since no one showed up sober yesterday, claiming it was some kind of national holiday.

Our Tuesday Morning Music Quiz is a mite obscure, but then again, so are we.

I found a series of amazing CDs at a used record store in the West Village over the weekend, a four disc collection called "Best of Driving Rock", a compilation for those long all-night drives. But the twist is that it was put out in the UK, so you have to listen to it on the wrong side of the road and it includes some shit you've never heard of. Disc 3 opens with an Iggy Pop classic which the CD sleeve helpfully points out reached the #22 position on the UK charts.

Do the Brits crank up the odometer to:

1. The Passenger

2. Theme from "Repo Man"

3. Something Wild


4. Ready, Steady, Go


the Rose Pick,

5. Hi, My Name is Iggy Pop and It's a Lovely Day to Take a Ride in the English Countryside with You, You Goddamned Englishman, (off of the Vorn Recordings)

Winners get round-trip airfare to London (to be provided by the winners themselves, as is custom), losers have to help Ann paint the Museum.