Tuesday, March 04, 2014
PLAYBOY: You're more willing than most people to organize your life according to principle and see how the experiment turns out.
DENTON: You could argue that privacy has never really existed. Usually people's friends or others in the village had a pretty good idea what was going on. You could look at this as the resurrection of or a return to the essential nature of human existence: We were surrounded by obvious scandal throughout most of human existence, when everybody knew everything. Then there was a brief period when people moved to the cities and social connections were frayed, and there was a brief period of sufficient anonymity to allow for transgressive behavior no one ever found out about. That brief era is now coming to an end.
Saturday, March 01, 2014
Silicon Valley is also marketed as The Future of Humanity.
But as a human landscape, it's a crushingly boring sunny suburban slab of freeways, fast food, traffic, and long smoggy boulevards of faded retail sprawling out to endless housing developments of sand-colored stucco boxes. It's Phoenix with milder weather, Orlando minus the mosquitos.
Tech-loving travelers come from around the world to see Silicon Valley, but there's nothing to see—no Times Square, no French Quarter, just low-rise office parks and security guards circling the parking lots. Could anything be gained by walking from corporate landmark to corporate landmark? Maybe not, but two days of walking always beats two days of looking at a computer, even if I'd be walking from technology company to technology company.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Monday, February 03, 2014
Next week, Makers is hosting a three-day conference where Sheryl Sandberg, Eric Schmidt, Tim Armstrong, and others plan to "reset the agenda for women in the workplace in the 21st century."
Where does one gather to hit the restart on the stagnant wage gap and institutionalized sexism for the next 86 years? At "the picturesque Terranea Resort, located on a breathtaking stretch of Pacific coastline," of course. The revolution also has time for "Sunrise Yoga" classes in the morning. Work-life balance, ladies and billionaires.
Like all great equal rights initiatives, this one is also invite-only:
Davis was sitting in a parked SUV outside the Jacksonville store with friends when Dunn, who is white, began complaining about their music. An argument ensued, and then ended, when Dunn fired his 9mm handgun into the vehicle. As the SUV raced off, Dunn stepped out of his car and fired again. Then he and his girlfriend drove to a hotel, checked in, and ordered a pizza. He never called the police and was only arrested because a witness jotted down his license plate. Dunn, who is mounting a Stand Your Ground defense, claimed a passenger in the vehicle had threatened him with shotgun—or a stick. The police found no gun.
Friday, January 31, 2014
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
It's a new year. To celebrate, we had a bacchanalian orgy in our Brooklyn home on the 31st, and burned a Christmas tree to cinders in a barely controlled, almost catastrophic incineration.
I also made a big new year's resolution: after years of performing, it is time to write.
So I'm letting the world know that I have committed to writing a new book.
Titled HERE AT THE END OF EMPIRE, it's drawn from many years of my monologues and will try to tell a story of our moment now at the sunset of America's golden age.
I'm delighted to announce that Simon and Schuster has enthusiastically bought the book, and have slated it for publication in 2015.
After the success of ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON I'm really looking forward to immersing myself in another gigantic project.
I'm also happy to announce that I will continue performing. We have shows happening over the next few months all across America, in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Richmond, Blacksburg, and beyond.
We've also decided to keep our podcast, ALL STORIES ARE FICTION, central to our work this year. We're putting up new shows all the time, recorded live around the world, including THE STORY OF THE GUN, the brand-new monologue I just created in North Carolina about guns, their history, and our charged relationship with them.
You can listen to all these stories for free by following this link.
I hope all your resolutions are fiery,
All Stories Are Fiction
University of Richmond
Modlin Center for the Arts
January 31st at 8pm
Center for the Art of Performance
Faster Better Social
The Center for the Arts
at Virginia Tech
February 22nd at 8pm
Yerba Buena Arts Center
May 16th and 17th
Given the statistics about Fox’s conservative influence and the way it misleads its viewers, I think it is fair to classify much of what it does as propaganda. My liberal cynicism seemed to render me immune to that — their O’Reilly-style hectoring eliciting a few laughs, but doing little to change my worldview. But Fox, as I came to discover, indulges in another form of opinion creation. Let’s call this the propaganda of ignorance. By choosing which stories to cover, and, perhaps more important, which stories to ignore, Fox is able to advance its political agenda in a much more subtle and insidious way.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
David Foster Wallace
Monday, December 16, 2013
Today, that Starbucks is gone. So is the popular brewery that was next door to it. The sandwich shop across the plaza is closed, as is the salad bar. It’s not that any of these businesses were particularly distinctive or delicious, but they provided a valuable service — lunch — and also some social connection among the building’s tenants and people in the immediate neighborhood.
Gone also is any sign of life the plaza ever had. Google leased as much of the complex as it could get its hands on — and the correspondingly skyrocketing rents accelerated the closing of all the ground-floor businesses, even a short-lived outpost of The Melt (a franchise that serves uniformly grilled sandwiches made with a high-tech — and tech-industry-financed — piece of machinery). In place of Starbucks there is now something called the Mozilla Community Space — that isn’t open to the community. You need to be a registered “Mozillian” (whatever that is) to gain access.
Tech companies that remain in the suburbs are taking a similarly upside-down approach to urbanism. Facebook’s Menlo Park campus, set in a sea of parking, is a sort of movie-set version of a city, with cafe, dry cleaner, doctor, dentist and personal trainers all accessible only to employees. Informal public gathering places (like Starbucks, for example, or a barbershop) are essential to local democracy and community vitality. But by creating “third places” (home and work are the first and second) that aren’t actually open to the public, that benefit is severely compromised.
That's down the the line a bit—for now, we're looking at the eradication of low-tech cabs. Uber doesn't hide its contempt for traditional taxi cab systems and dreams of their destruction. City cab companies are rife with problems of their own, yes, but subject to regulation—the kind of regulation we now know Uber badly needs to implement itself, or be forced into. Uber wants to expand to every city in the country, and supplant existing cab systems—the ones subject to laws and regulations. For instance: if a yellow cab driver says it's going to cost an extra $100 just because it's Friday, he'll lose his job. If Uber does it, it's the magical mitts of supply and demand pushing us around.
If more drivers leave traditional taxi companies for Uber—and I've talked to many who have—we step closer to cities where price gouging is the norm, where only the rich can get around, and where outrageous profiteering is the base fare. And if you don't like it, you can hit the road.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
In other words, the Guthrie's new, huge complex and three separate spaces necessitated more conservative, less adventuresome work. This stood in stark contrast to the promises that Dowling made to the theatrical and funding community while he was actually campaigning for the new space, in which he regularly stated that the new space would allow the Guthrie room to more adventurous and diverse work. In fact, as Anne Bogart's "Conversations with Anne" reveals, major industry figures like Ben Cameron and Oskar Eustis specifically held up the Guthrie as an example of a company that was doing new building right, as a way of doing better, more interesting, more diverse work.
So given that box office was apparently such a major part of the Guthrie's considerations, it's worth looking at how the Dry White Male Season worked out for them. And it turns out it was basically a disaster. Over the course of 2012/2013 season, the Guthrie went from having a surplus to a close to half a million dollar deficit, and much of the blame can be laid directly at the unpopular, criticaly unloved trilogy of Christopher Hampton plays that Dowling went out on such a limb to produce, and which played at around 50% capacity for their runs.
If we drew the same lessons from this that theaters always draw from "underperforming" plays by Black playwrights, The Guthrie would never do a play by a British white male writer ever again. Call me crazy, but I doubt that's what's going to happen here.
Monday, December 02, 2013
Last week the Wall Street Journal published a story on the "Dirty Secret of Black Friday 'Discounts'," pointing out that although the number of deals offered by 31 major retailers increased by 63% between 2009 and 2012, their profit margins all stayed roughly the same.
The reason that holding so many sales hasn't bankrupted all these companies is because, as the Journal puts it, they're illusions. Retailers' margins have stayed the same because the average list price — the price the item is eventually discounted from — has skyrocketed.
It's almost all mental. Retailers are required to sell their products at the list price, but according to the Journal, those prices are quickly discounted. And very few people ever actually pay that list price — former JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson said in 2012 that the department store sold less than one in 500 items at full price.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
The Clocktower Gallery was instrumental in shaping the burgeoning alternative arts scene in the city. Among its most memorable exhibitions: a Dennis Oppenheim installation where the artist placed a dead German shepherd on top of a legless electric organ. As rigor mortis set in, the tones would change. (The ASPCA provided the deceased dog).
Michelangelo Pistoletto's piece was shut down by the Board of Health because he used bones that had not been properly cleaned.
One Easter, a chocolate-covered Charlotte Moorman played a chocolate-covered cello. And then there's Gordon Matta-Clark's "Clock Shower" performance, where the artist soaped up and showered while hanging off the face of the clock.
“The truth is I don’t always want the audience on my side. That’s not a very dynamic state. A better state is where some are on your side, some are skeptical, some are listening intelligently and are very present, others are reflecting — there’s a mixture. That’s what creates the atmosphere where something unexpected can happen. If you give the audience precisely what they want, they will think they are happy but will leave unsatisfied. What they really want is to be subverted, in order to be delighted.”
Sunday, November 17, 2013
A recording of a new monologue, PRIVATE MANNING’S WAR, performed for one night only at the Public Theater on April 22nd, 2013. From the original production’s notes: “Private Manning’s War is about Private First Class Bradley Manning, who was held for over a thousand days and nights before being arraigned on charges of treason against the United States of America. An incredibly polarizing figure who is reviled by some as a traitor, credited by others as the catalyst for the Arab Spring, despised for aiding and abetting enemy combatants, and celebrated as a hero and whistleblower. Above all Manning is an enigmatic figure who has cast a long shadow across the world while imprisoned, used as a tool and symbol by many different sides. For a single night we will try to find the human story of Private Manning, and attempt to understand this war, and all of our roles in it.”
Saturday, November 16, 2013
You are right to question the idea that the "experts" close to power are competent to make decisions. Experts are, by definition, servants of those in power: they don't really think, they just apply their knowledge to the problems defined by those in power (how to bring back stability? how to squash protests?). So are today's capitalists, the so-called financial wizards, really experts? Are they not just stupid babies playing with our money and our fate? I remember a cruel joke from Ernst Lubitsch's To Be Or Not to Be. When asked about the German concentration camps in occupied Poland, the Nazi officer snaps back: "We do the concentrating, and the Poles do the camping." Does the same not hold for the Enron bankruptcy in 2002? The thousands of employees who lost their jobs were certainly exposed to risk, but with no true choice – for them the risk was like blind fate. But those who did have insight into the risks, and the ability to intervene (the top managers), minimised their risks by cashing in their stocks before the bankruptcy. So it is true that we live in a society of risky choices, but some people (the managers) do the choosing, while others (the common people) do the risking.
Thursday, November 07, 2013
Monday, November 04, 2013
Recorded live at the Maine International Conference of the Arts, this was a closing keynote about where we are in arts, arts education, and the particular challenges artists face coming up in a place like Maine. This short piece is about the changing season, and how often we blind ourselves to it. If you really want the full effect, you need to put a badge on, drink some free coffee, and have spent 72 hours in breakout sessions.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
As more and more details emerge, the Snowden leaks look more and more justifiable in retrospect. The NSA has behaved like many powerful surveillance bureaucracies. Give them a hammer and they will search high and low for nails. When that tangibly harms the interests of the United States, rather than advancing them, it’s time for the Congress and the White House to reform and repeal the potential for abuse. We need to spy. We don’t need the massive, damaging Dyson-level vacuuming up of so much data from so many. Obama now has political cover to do this thoroughly. We’ll soon find out whether he has been seduced by the prerogatives of power, or whether he will respond to the legitimate, and now proven, allegations of widespread abuse.
In New York and New Jersey, the most agile, adaptive disaster response generally didn't come from local and state governments, but from grassroots response networks like Occupy Sandy. One important thing that differentiated Occupy Sandy from governments is that it wasn't constrained by jurisdictional boundaries. As such, it could simply devote its resources where need was greatest. If governments are unable to work effectively across jurisdictions, they should partner with informal actors who can.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The former University of California Davis police lieutenant who brutally pepper-sprayed a group of peaceful Occupy protesters was awarded a $38,000 workman's compensation settlement from the school last week. The payout is about $8,000 more than each of the assaulted demonstrators received in a settlement from the university last year, according to the Davis Enterprise.
In November 2011, Lt. John Pike of the UC Davis Police force casually sprayed the passive protesters, and was, of course, caught on camera doing so. The video went viral, becoming a sort of symbol and rallying cry for the Occupy movement, and Pike rightfully lost his job for the attack in July 2012.
About one year later, Pike, who made $121,680 per year as a cop, filed a worker's compensation claim, saying the event and its aftermath caused him to suffer depression and anxiety. He also said his family received death threats.
The school and Administrative Law Judge Harter, who approved the settlement, apparently agreed that the eight months of paid suspension (during which Pike “earned” more than $80,000) wasn't compensation enough for the self-inflicted duress and awarded the former officer $38,056.
Bernie Goldsmith, a Davis attorney supportive of the student protesters, told the Associated Press that the settlement “sends a clear message to the next officer nervously facing off with a group of passive, unarmed students: Go on ahead. Brutalize them. Trample their rights. You will be well taken care of.”
Friday, October 18, 2013
Thursday, October 17, 2013
I took in one episode of Mike Daisey's All The Faces Of The Moon live, and listened to several of them via podcast. It's quite an extraordinary feat of strength. Mike is simply one of the most purely talented stage performers I've ever seen: he's just gifted. While I've only experienced the show in pieces so far, whenever I have tuned in, I've been captivated and delighted.
It's what strikes me as the great irony of whatever controversy (still?) surrounds Mike Daisey's work is that the man is a living example of what makes fiction wonderful. We're living in a world of economists and fact-checkers, when what we really need is the humanities. Connections, magical ones, images, feelings: the things that we make up, the stories we tell. Otherwise, our lives will be pieces of information. That's what I sometimes fear most: that information is replacing imagination.
On the other hand, Daisey's show was also an attempt to engage with contemporary theater audiences in the age of Netflix. It's a show that you can binge. It's a season. It rewards the casual viewer, but also rewards the dedicated fan. While I think there might have been too much to catch up with all at once (once I got behind, each show was an hour and a half podcast to take in in order to get current); it now lives on as a digital relic and so it can be taken in entirely. Plus, there's the great artwork that was inspired by the piece. Things to collect. Things to keep. A mosaic.
ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON was a huge success—as of today we’ve had more than 100,000 downloads. If you want to listen to the full theatrical novel, you can subscribe via iTunes here, completely free:
I’m writing today to let you know about our next project: THE WAR TRILOGY.
These are three monologues being launched over the next eighteen months about what war means to us today in America.
The second monologue, LIFE DURING WARTIME, will focus on the lives of war veterans after they come home and my father’s work as a veteran’s counselor. The final monologue, NO MAN’S WAR, will be about the corporatization of war as our nation’s biggest business, how drone warfare is the growing heart of that empire, and the lives of drone operators.
But the first monologue starts now, it’s timely, and I can’t wait.
It’s called THE SECRET WAR, and is about our three most famous whistleblowers: Daniel Ellsberg, Private Manning, and Edward Snowden. These three are polarizing figures—all have been called traitors and heroes. By talking about them in a human way, I’m hoping to tell the most important story we’re not allowed to talk about: the story of secrets. Why we make things secret, how we keep secrets, and the power that secrecy has over our world.
I’ll be performing the first performance of THE SECRET WAR this Monday, October 21st at 8pm at the IRT Theatre in NYC. Seating is limited—you can RSVP for the free show by emailing email@example.com. Make sure to say whether you’d like 1 or 2 seats, and the theater will email you back to confirm that you are in.
Over the next month THE SECRET WAR tours across the country:
On Friday, October 25th I’ll be performing THE SECRET WAR in Maine at the Collins Center for the Arts.
On November 8th and 9th I’ll be bringing THE SECRET WAR to Philadelphia, headlining the First Person Arts Festival.
And on November 20th and 23rd I’ll be performing THE SECRET WAR in Santa Fe, at the beautiful Lensic Performing Arts Center.
People kept asking me what kind of break I was going to take after finishing ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON. I guess starting the war trilogy is my answer to that: life is short, the hour is late, and there’s so much that hasn’t been done. A song said it first, but it's true—I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
Be seeing you,
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
On Sunday, a booth appeared in Central Park selling “signed,” “100% original” Banksys—at $60 a piece. Except for a few tourists, everyone ignored it. The booth seemed to be evidence of the cashing-in on any current event, from 9/11 to Occupy to a famous street artist’s “residency,” that we do in this most capitalist of cities. But it was real.
The Internet lacerated itself for not buying Banskys at a 10,000-percent discount. But would you recognize art if it wasn’t marked as such? Banksy, who can’t write the word “elephant” on a water tanker without having it crated off and auctioned, made something that was fake until the magic moment it turned out to be real.
Art’s market value, like that of fashion, is derived from name more than any material properties. The Chinese factory workers sewing Chanel handbags can make the same bags, after hours, but they’ll be low-rent knockoffs without the interlocking “C”s. The same goes for an assistant who painted, without the master’s imprimatur, Damien Hirst’s dots. The Brand does transubstantiation. It turns crackers into the flesh of Christ.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
In the five hours that followed, I was questioned twice more. During the first round I told, amongst others, my life’s story, about my second novel’s plot, gave my publisher’s name, my bank’s name and my real estate agent’s name. Together we went through all the photos on my laptop and messages my phones had been receiving for the past months. They wrote down the names of everybody I had been in touch with. In my pirated software and movies they showed no interest.
During the second round of questioning, we talked about religion. I told them my mother was raised a Catholic, and that my dad had an atheist mother and a Jewish dad.
‘We don’t understand. Why would a Jew go to Yemen?’
‘But… I’m not Jewish’
‘Yeah, well. We just don’t understand why would a Jew go to Yemen.’
Thursday, October 10, 2013
If you manage to lay your hands on a copy of Codex Seraphinianus and flip through its almost 400 pages of lavish illustration and handwritten commentary, the only words you will have any chance of understanding—depending on what sort of shape your Latin is in—are those on the title page. This is because the entire text of the book is written in an invented language, and alphabet, which nobody has ever been able to decipher.
And quite a few people have tried: the Codex has had a cult following since its original publication in Italy in 1981, and is often referred to as the world’s weirdest book. The book, which is the work of the Italian architect and designer Luigi Serafini (who is still with us, but has remained inflexibly committed to not explaining a damn thing about it), will be republished in a new edition by the art publisher Rizzoli later this month. It’s not the sort of thing that easily lends itself to classification, but probably the most accurate way to describe it would be as an encyclopedia of an invented alien civilization. It contains hundreds of carefully organized illustrations of plants, animals, people, machines, dwellings, cities, agricultural procedures, clothing, sexual practices, rituals, and so on.
It’s a lavish miscellany of weird specificity; because of its combination of absurdity and inscrutable precision, reading it is a feverish experience—although “reading” is exactly the wrong word, because that is an activity the book doesn’t permit. Rather, you simply look at it; you look at its diagrams of copulating couples gradually fusing together into crocodiles, at its drawings of egg-helmeted doctors rolling the flesh-pelts from supine bodies and trussing them up on hooks while detached skeletons observe, at its colorful bestiaries of impossible creatures (fish with brooms for tails, little snakes that double as shoelaces). And then you look at the accompanying text, with its lines and lines of beautiful and completely indecipherable script. And the experience is one of a book that makes perfect sense—that lays out an entire world in extensive empirical detail—but (crucially) not to you, because you don’t have the experience or the linguistic tools to understand it.
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
There's this story I heard once from a homeless veteran I'll call James. He had a pinched face and a smoky voice and huge, square glasses and the kind of wicked alcoholism that accelerated from zero to knife-fight in about half a sip of beer. I was working the night shift in a coffee shop, and James, who at the time was sober and taking a computer programming class, was keeping me company. He told me about this thing he used to do, back in Vietnam.
On those days when he didn't have to be anywhere, James would go out into the jungle. His friends used to go into town to pick up some prostitutes, but James was in one of his religious phases, and so he didn't tag along. Instead, he'd hollow out a coconut, put his gold watch inside of it, and leave it on the jungle floor. Then he'd go hide, and wait. If he was lucky, an orangutan would come along and notice the watch gleaming inside the coconut. It would reach inside to see what the shiny thing was. James would fashion the hole in such a way that an open hand could get into the coconut, but a closed fist was too big to get out. The orangutan couldn't figure this out, and it didn't want to let go of the shiny thing, so its hand would be stuck inside.
The orangutan couldn't seem to make the connection between its hand being stuck and letting go of the watch. Those two problems—the stuck hand and the wanting the thing inside the coconut—were hurtling forward through its ape brain on parallel tracks, and they seemed unsolvable. And so the orangutan started to get agitated. It was at that point that James would jump out of the shadows, he told me, and quickly beat the confused orangutan to death with the butt of his gun.
James clearly loved telling the story, and I loved it, too: It seemed to have so many meanings. If we're the orangutan in the story, we don't understand that the simple solution to our predicament would be obvious if we could just let go of the thing we want. If we're James in the story, we're unknowingly acting out the cruelty and the pointlessness of the Vietnam War on a tiny scale, for recreation, even as the larger war is playing out all around us. I've been thinking a lot about James's story since the government shut down on October 1. I'll tell you why in a minute. But first, I want to talk about the internet.
This odd tension-- that narrative art creates its own world yet helps shape our view of ours-- has given birth to (or at least popularity to) a new brand of criticism that measures a story against real life to point out all the ways that it is lacking. You've seen it before, right? "Five Things Parks & Rec gets right about small town budgeting bylaws." Now with Gravity busting box office records, we're getting astronauts and scientists telling us that there are many points where the film departs from real life. Entire critical careers are now founded on churning out "What X Gets Right/Wrong About Y" blog posts, posts that often completely ignore issues of aesthetics, construction, theme or effect to simply focus on whether in "real life" a given circumstance of a story would be possible.
In real life, people don't talk the way they do in movies or television or (especially) books. Real locations aren't styled, lit, or shot the way they are on screen. The basic conceits of point of view in literature actually make no sense and are in no way "realistic." Realism isn't verisimilitude. It's a set of stylistic conventions that evolve over time, are socially agreed upon, and are hotly contested. The presence of these conventions is not a sign of quality. Departure from them is not a sign of quality's absence.
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Monday, October 07, 2013
What, then, is the future of New York, or really of any number of big urban centers, in this new Gilded Age? Does culture have a role to play? If we look at the city as it is now, then we would have to say that it looks a lot like the divided city that presumptive mayor Bill de Blasio has been harping about: most of Manhattan and many parts of Brooklyn are virtual walled communities, pleasure domes for the rich (which, full disclosure, includes me), and aside from those of us who managed years ago to find our niche and some means of income, there is no room for fresh creative types. Middle-class people can barely afford to live here anymore, so forget about emerging artists, musicians, actors, dancers, writers, journalists and small business people. Bit by bit, the resources that keep the city vibrant are being eliminated.
This city doesn't make things anymore. Creativity, of all kinds, is the resource we have to draw on as a city and a country in order to survive. In the recent past, before the 2008 crash, the best and the brightest were lured into the world of finance. Many a bright kid graduating from university knew that they could become fairly wealthy almost instantly if they found employment at a hedge fund or some similar institution. But before the financial sector came to dominate the world, they might have made things: in publishing, manufacturing, television, fashion, you name it. As in many other countries, the lure of easy bucks hoovered this talent and intelligence up – and made it difficult for those other kinds of businesses to attract any of the top talent.
Friday, October 04, 2013
The final night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded October 3rd, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. A circle of salt holds back the darkness. Am I my brother’s keeper? Yes I am, goddamnit. The cantankerous ghost and the ridiculous plan. Burning your last letter, bootstrapping yourself on the ladder made of light, blood, bone. “Everything depends on you. It always did.” It’s the world we actually live in, you know. We wanted to change the world, but not ourselves. Cool Ranch Doritos and Mountain Dew. The dreaded CVS, the great autistic bear, and six black glassy cards. Someone always wants to be an elf. “You are all well met at a tavern.” Then: rappers love private jets, embarrassment is a sign of taste, and she is drinking in the moon, constant and inconstant. Later: cutting off the owlbear’s head, the dark faerieland of Erelhei-Cinlu, and we question genocide. St. Marks Place is a Disneyland of filth. The Moon is always wounded. I have told every version of every story, spinning every version of every plate. The dice are burning like embers. The Magician’s trick, the doorbell, and the dog’s bark. You have to say it three times. The river pouring, the cards scattering, the last look at him through the door. Time is the longest distance between two places. He smiles in his triumph. Stage managers on your couch, tangled threads must be cut, and a very public proxy ritual. Then: a hard conversation at a deli. What was beyond the mirror, and what she saw. This is the mask and the invitation—you have to choose it, or it chooses you. A family meeting. I have yours and you have mine. At the bank of the river, the cup is offered. All stories are struggle. I drank my fill.
Thursday, October 03, 2013
The twenty-eighth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded October 2nd, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: the narcotic attraction of affairs and the pot roast that will never be eaten. She edits out, never fabricating. Nothing insulates you from shame like power, the red line moves on, and the black ink. She wishes she was in the Village. The ziggurat sarcophagus and the Ministry of Silly Walks. Atlas Shrugged yields a different kind of asshole. Then: a white suit with rhinestones, tiny hands making intricate work, and the glass cube’s mystical significance. Export dreams into your MacBook Pro. Buried him in the trench. You can not dance here. You can not be here. Knives of American kryptonite. She hasn’t had a good frenzy since her sisters died. The white and blue water. The sun on your skin.
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
The twenty-seventh night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded October 1st, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: The city is shut down, the paintings are vanishing. The darkness before the lights come up is mine. The Bay Area at sunset, the bright and easy libertarians at play. Eames chair and Tiffany lamp. The island where we will hunt slaves. You give books root access to your memories. Then: he had to use modeling clay and it’s embarrassing. Joseph Papp teaches wrestling moves. That fucking rucksack and tapping on your breastbone. A pink Cadillac on the BQE. The ruined utopia, a price of arrogance and delusion, and the spirit of 1964: white men and their wives. Luchadores and my second’s second. Furry Cockroach. The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial is a black wall. The stars are inhuman, but the constellations are ours.
The twenty-sixth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 30th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: The end is near, the wine dark sea and all that shit. A potter’s wheel exploded. Compact florescent lighting is a sin. The naked neighbor throwing handfuls of change. There is no doctor, this is uncharted waters. Then: the Gowanus a poisoned river, flooded with guns and mercury. Tonight Luna Park is open, a royal party, and real absinthe requires crushed faeries. “Crackerjack applesauce!” If you are to die, why not die at the Big Game? George Soros barks. The lost cigar box. This party contains all parties, and orgies have a kind of radiant wholesomeness. The kiss. Nothing polishes you like regret. It’s not a dire wolf. Beyond the door her dreams tell the story we always knew.
Monday, September 30, 2013
The major plot development in ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON where I have challenged Mayor Bloomberg to a Mexican wrestling match is actually something that totally happened as described in the show. Here's the video.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
The twenty-fifth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 29th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: It’s been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone. The Cruel Ones, shaking the Bank of England until she cried, and even vampires rely on human resources. The cigar box. We must have rolled a six. The moon from Brooklyn. It’s amazing how small you can make your life, searching the archive, and what I wish I had always done. Teaching the ritual. Then: why Australia always matters, stripping the Red Fort of its jewels, and the mirror can never be trusted. “Go, Daughter of the Moon.” The subway is a metaphor. He hungered to cut the poor off from the coasts. Amadou Diallo and Bernie Goetz. Tight as a drum. “Let’s go…before I lose my nerve.” Childhood’s end.
Saturday, September 28, 2013
The twenty-fourth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 28th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: the Boomtown and the Beverage Manager. We are blinded to the powers age gives us, life in a rigged universe, and where you come from puts its mark on you. The snake eats its own tail. Every quote comes from Mark Twain. “LA is so psychically dead I can get a whole night’s sleep.” The queen of hearts knows multiplicity. Fate is in the house, stage managers love to knit, and it’s six eyes and speaking in unison. “Can you close the game?” Summoning the ghost of Joseph Papp. Did you know it’s anti-American to give away free tickets? Aqua velvet and despair. His face was anyone’s face but once you know it, you know it. You’d know it anywhere.
A proof-of-concept theatrical event, "All the Faces of The Moon" created and performed by Mike Daisey is currently premiering at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater. Mr. Daisey invents a theatrical novel over 29 nights with each show evoking a unique card from the Tarot deck.
In this, Daisey expands his usual bare-bones aesthetic and collaborates with the artist Larissa Tokmakova, who created an original oil painting to accompany each story. The project is 44 hours of humor, mystery, the personal and political by a master storyteller critics dub a modern-day Mark Twain for his provocative monologues.
Each night Daisey creates a story and performs it extemporaneously. It is captured for podcast the next day on iTunes. Providing the podcast for free, Daisey’s apparent intent, aside from reinvigorating the novel and solo performance forms in one stroke, is to subvert the standard business model of theatrical distribution. It’s like he’s saying, in follow up to his "How Theatre Failed America," ’this, boys, is the way it is done.’ What’s delightful about Daisey is that he is open about his hubristic tendencies and waggishly unbowed by his "mistakes." (See the "This American Life" retraction.)
Over many nights, Mr. Daisey mixes reminiscences of his boyhood in Maine with a mythical tale set in the present Bloombergian universe. He invents characters that personify the great institutions of this new Gilded Age -- The Grey Lady, for instance is the venerable New York Times newspaper. He weaves numerous plot lines while pit-stopping at New York City landmarks. Katz’s Deli, The post-Sandy Rockaways, Zuccotti Park, and the Hayden Planetarium are just a few. He subjects each one to his laser-heated criticism that erupts from a raucously cynical viewpoint, accrued after decades of New York living that laments the loss of the magical.
Daisey blames post-9/11 counterterrorism and the domination of the Big Banks post-recession, and observes that the average New Yorker is now completely and "thoroughly fucked." He drafts real folks both from his immediate orbit, his high school friend Gibbs, a waitress at Joe’s Pub, and as in No. 18, his wife, to populate his world. He uses public figures like George Soros and sets them in real life settings. He vividly paints his meet-up with Soros and the allegorical Grey Lady that occurs at Peter Luger’s Steakhouse.
"All the Faces of The Moon," if nothing, is stylistically adventurous. Mr. Daisey gives full rein to his imagination. His tale-spinning risks all with its archetypal figures like the Jewish Golem and a surrealist vision of a New York that at times sounds like the half-finished back lot on a Hollywood set. It’s a testament to his gifts and method that as one listens one can see his "clockwork" people munching gears and pulley sandwiches at Katz’s and his Steampunk styled trains that zip pneumatically under the East River. There are mysterious occurrences, magic and magicians, the transmission of secret knowledge, tête-à-têtes with dead geniuses, vampire-bankers and Burning Man aficionados. All are subject to Daisey’s garrulous scrutiny and caustic humor.
It follows that "All the Faces of the Moon" is for the aesthetically courageous. The scope is Whitman-esque in its allusions to New York and America. The form revives the ancient art of storytelling and mashes it with 21st century content delivery, bypassing the usual channels of cultural production and spiking the art (via earbuds) directly into your brain.
"All The Faces of the Moon" is a significant work and should be witnessed. It’s not every day that an artist breaks new ground and entertains at the same time. The event is beyond the cliché of communal theatrical experience.
Under Daisey’s influence, every night until Oct. 3, New York’s warp and weft are untangled, destroyed, and interwoven anew into patterns, signs and portents that may well restore the numinous to urban life.
Friday, September 27, 2013
The twenty-third night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 27th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: we should all cultivate a healthy suspicion of standing ovations. Wasting money on a filthy experience, we want to be stirred like cake batter, and never end a monologue with a poem. Tell me souls on board. Everyone inflates their numbers, celebrities are viagra, and there will be just seven golden corporate tickets. Are we priceless or worthless? Then: golems are difficult to sleep with because they are heavy. A lone Dionysian is a sad thing. The Grey Lady and the Mole People. The Kierkegaardian turnstile. John McClane is Bruce Willis is MOONLIGHTING. German terrorists in an innocent time. This is an island off the coast of America. My familiar is a doughnut. The Staten Island Ferry. Your stage managers are calling, and they are pissed.
The twenty-second night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 26th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: Rules for sympathetic magic. Dennis, the low production values, and the gunslinger. New York has only one tower, uploading the press release into the cortex, and mentally deficient dolphins have good unions. Thirteen years versus eighteen months. Falling and failure and our intense psychic life in the air. Incandescent bulbs are detritus of another age—now we will diminish and go into the West. Which shade of orange is more forward thinking? Whispering paintings, the moon’s movements are difficult to describe, and lunch with the expert of esoterica. The fiction of nonfiction. The nature of faith and the question of God. Make a Swiss man weep. You must change your life.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
"Theater is the artistic discipline in America that is losing audience share at the fastest rate in recent years…For musicals, the 9 percent drop in the attendance rate between 2008 and 2012 was the first statistically significant change in that category in more than 25 years. Straight plays fared even worse, with a 12 percent drop over the same period, a figure that has contributed to a whopping 33 percent rate of decline over the past decade."
I have been saying this with HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA since 2008—this latest NEA survey actually tracks a 33% decline for straight play attendance in 10 years. Biggest drop across all arts.
Dynamic pricing does not and did not work.
Tremendous ticket prices does not work.
Lying and pretending that attendance is rising will not save us.
People who should have known better have laughed knowingly at me for years and years while averting their eyes to the fires burning in their houses.
You fucking fools. Wake up. Our house is on fire.
We have to change our life.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
The twenty-first night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 25th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: Sting’s coffee in my mouth, David Lynch’s radiant failure, and the insidious taint. Factcheckers omit the jokers. In Istanbul the sun was always on you. Put your genitals inside of genitals. Terrorist horses! The king can never die, the game is never won. Your chess teacher is a perverse and monstrous man. Then: a desperate hour, the ghosts of reporters past, and the skull of her dog. Kasparov’s desperation. “They want your surrender tonight.” No magic for parking. Before chicken fat and frogbreath, call the cell. If we see each other on a snowy hill, maybe we’ll eat a rabbit. “Black ice, Michael.” Staten Island. The artist and her paintings.
"Mike Daisey, who is appearing at Joe's Pub, also performed there last spring. The theater column in Sunday's Fanfare incorrectly described this as his first New York appearance since his 2011 show "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs."
As we politely told them—I actually returned to The Public Theater in October 2012…a good seven months before last spring.
"Also, the program's disclaimer that "all stories are fiction" was incorrectly described as an insert."
I love "incorrectly described". What they mean is THERE WAS NO INSERT. BECAUSE WE FABRICATED THAT PART.
This of course makes it sound as though it is in the program somewhere…just not on an insert. But there is no such disclaimer.
Oh, journalism. How could I ever quit you?
"SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA MEETS GAME OF THRONES!"
I can die happy.
It's also shot on location at Joe's Pub at The Public Theater, so it gives a sense of what it's like for those who have been experiencing it via podcast alone.
(Note: there is a rather larger SPOILER in this video, so know that before diving in.)