Monday, April 30, 2007

Tonight is my nominal evening off--Jean-Michele is enjoying hers right now, at a dinner party whose theme is the life of Archimedes.  I'm looking forward to getting the story from here of how it was--I'm at the apartment, getting ready for MONOPOLY!

It's not much to look at--I read and reskim the outline haphazardly, flipping to sections, staring, then staring at the wall. I have taken a couple of long walks, and I'll be taking a couple more before we open tomorrow. I listen and relisten to music and walk my way through the monologue, which is arranged in my mind like a room...I am not formally trained in memory palaces, but having studied it haphazardly I can tell that my self-taught forms are definitely related. I have an uncle who is quite adept at mnemotechnics, able to imprint a deck of 52 cards in any order and then relate to you each card that comes up by summoning up the accompanying image he imprinted. I learned about that before I was a monologuist, and I remember it made a big impression on me--perhaps because of the form I would eventually practice.

So each monologue is a room, more or less, and when the show is not up it isn't possible to turn on the lights and see where everything is--but one can walk around in the dark, with a good flashlight, and make certain the dresser is still on the east wall, that the vanity is next to the hassock, that the oak tabletop still has teethmaks in its corners--that everything is intact and ready to be lit up by and for the audience. That's what I'm doing tonight. There's very little of what other actors do--there are no "lines" to study, and I rarely listen to recordings of the monologue, though on occasion I will if I am particularly cramped by some detail I can't stop thinking about--I'm certainly no Luddite or purist. On the whole it exists as an extremely internal process--there's not much of anything to look at, but tonight I am working very hard to ensure the monologue is ready for tomorrow.

Crossposted to the ART blog.
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The Clear Card: Trade Privacy for Convenience (techyum):

When I'm standing in those long airport security lines, I often find myself thinking about how incredibly safe I feel thanks to the Patriot Act and the diligent, thoughtful work of the TSA. But, I also think, gosh darn these lines are long. I wish there was a way I could show my trust in the government, my faith in the Patriot Act and the TSA, and find a more convenient way to travel. Hell, I'd *pay money* and give up a few freedoms just to not wait in long lines. Well, now I can!

It's FlyClear's Clear Card (first spotted here) which is a biometric card that is getting its own express line in airports all over the US. Enroll in FlyClear's program for $99 USD, then submit to a “Security Threat Assessment” -- an extensive background check through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), including registering biometric information such as iris scans and multiple finger prints, among other ways to make you a completely trackable, docile animal. But don't fret, this information is *safe* with the TSA, who will keep you "in the clear" by conducting "continuous security reviews of Clear members".
Wet Stones
Coming Online Soon: The Five-Minute ‘Charlie’s Angels’ - New York Times:

Sony Television is planning in June to introduce an Internet-based service called the Minisode Network, initially offering the mini-shows for an exclusive run on MySpace. (The company may consider establishing a separate Internet channel called the Minisode Network later.)

However and wherever it appears, the network will consist of a lineup of tightly edited versions of shows lifted off the shelves of Sony’s television library. These are not clips of the shows, but actual episodes with beginnings, middles and ends, all told in under six minutes.

As Steve Mosko, the president of Sony Television, described it, “So in ‘Charlie Angels,’ they have a meeting, Charlie’s on the intercom telling them what the assignment is, there’s a couple of fights, and then a chase, and they catch the bad guy. Then they’re back home wrapping it up.”

“T. J. Hooker,” an especially formulaic cop show from the early 1980s, can be seen in short bursts of action as William Shatner interrogates suspects, fires shots and chases bad guys. “Shatner is just hilarious,” Mr. Mosko said.
Don’t clean in the dishwasher !
I've received thousands of letters, from the hateful to the incredibly supportive--this one is from an old friend, John Moe, a public radio host, recovering playwright, successful father, and man about town.


So I watched the video of the religious folks walking out of your performance and read all your accounts and everything, and came away with one question:

Wasn't that theater? Like not in the sense of artifice but in the sense of public spectacle and interaction and a live event that all in attendance shared? Didn't it have high stakes, surprise, a feeling of immediacy that couldn't be had on film or YouTube? It was very upsetting, clearly, but isn't it sort of supposed to? It wasn't the show you had planned, but aren't all performances subject to risk, though rarely taking the form of something like this?

I mean all respect to what you're doing and all, don't get me wrong. And yeah, it's pretty stupid to walk out on a show and all that (why go in the first place?). But leaving aside the water pourer (more on him in a moment), I just don't see what was so wrong about it all. They had a visceral reaction to what they were seeing, they decided it exceeded their capacity to endure, they wanted to leave, and they left. In a big group. I tell you, Mike, the look on your face as they did that was the kind of brutal honest shock few actors can ever muster. And you engaged with them, as was your right I think, and they chose not to engage back, as I think was their right too. They said what they had to say with their walking out. You had the kind of emotional life that some people waste years in Meisner programs dreaming of (John Moe, Rutgers Univ. MFA program).

I don't know, with the exception of the water pourer, it seems to me like you've created this honest theatrical experience with your shows where you, under your own name and without a script, talk to people who you recognize as being in the room (and not, like, a Cherry Orchard). And then these people respond to your stories by up and leaving (en masse, high spectacle). Were it not for the water pourer, it seems pretty organic.

See, I don't really like theater most of the time. Almost all of it sucks, I think, and so I don't go much. I find it stupid and pretentious almost all the time. Just seems like a bunch of pompous people screwing around. Still. And I'm 38. I just don't ever believe it because I don't trust the motives of the practitioners and find the experience tedious. I'd rather read. Or go see a band. Or take a walk. But I really wish I was there at your theater that night.

Now, the water pourer. That was an interesting guy. I draw the line a while before pouring water on the stage. You shouldn't do that. Did he know that was your only copy of the notes for the show on the stage with you? Do you announce that as part of the show? Is there a special reason for doing that? I mean, one mustn't run up on stage and do something like that, of course, duh, but I wonder if in these performances you've created an environment where everyone is SO connected, if the 4th wall has been SO obliterated that the line of right and wrong is blurrier than it would be in a William Inge play or some sort of downtown, artsy postmodern fiasco. Not to blame you for his action at all but I wonder about the interpersonal vibe.

Years ago, I was in a really terrible late night at Empty Space and some drunks were yelling at us during the show. And we all just went on with the show, though flustered.  Finally they got up and left on their own. But I will go to my grave regretting that we didn't just pour off the stage and start a fistfight on the spot. Like, you want to change the show tonight, you douchebags? Okay then, it's on, now it's a fucking fight scene, right? I almost didn't begrudge them their drunk bellowing, I just wish we had properly listened and responded the way actors are supposed to.

So really, Mike, my question is this: when all is said and done, wasn't it all at least kind of fucking awesome what happened?

yer pal,

Sunday, April 29, 2007

La ventana enjaulada / The caged window
Slashdot | RIAA Claims Ownership of All Artist Royalties For Internet Radio:

"With the furor over the impending rate hike for Internet radio stations, wouldn't a good solution be for streaming internet stations to simply not play RIAA-affiliated labels' music and focus on independent artists? Sounds good, except that the RIAA's affiliate organization SoundExchange claims it has the right to collect royalties for any artist, no matter if they have signed with an RIAA label or not. 'SoundExchange (the RIAA) considers any digital performance of a song as falling under their compulsory license. If any artist records a song, SoundExchange has the right to collect royalties for its performance on Internet radio. Artists can offer to download their music for free, but they cannot offer their songs to Internet radio for free ... So how it works is that SoundExchange collects money through compulsory royalties from Webcasters and holds onto the money. If a label or artist wants their share of the money, they must become a member of SoundExchange and pay a fee to collect their royalties.'"
Daughters of Catastrophe: Our Brand Is Development:

Well that takes me back. Because I myself hated to see the end of the squalid and legendary Squid Row Tavern, where I saw Jesse Bernstein read "More Noise, Please!" fresh out of his typewriter, and Bay Area poet Jack Foley read marvelous works in progress.

You see, in the 1990s some nutty developer stripped out Squid Row Tavern and replaced it with this shamrocky joint called Kincora--yet another faux Irish pub that featured nothing legendary as far as I was concerned. So, pardon my cynicism, but after SRT went without a whimper, I stopped caring about that corner. Knock it down. Who cares?

Whatever crummy stupid place you squatted in when you were young, that's the golden memory spot, I guess.
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Saturday, April 28, 2007

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Boing Boing: Write an essay in Chicago, go to jail:

In Chicago, it is apparently a criminal offense for a high school student to write an essay that "alarms and disturbs" the teacher.

Dion says: "A straight A student is arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct (and removed from the school) for writing an essay that mimics the content of violent video games, in the context of a creative writing class assignment. While some concern about the content is well-understandable, and some investigation appropriate, the reflex to criminalize represents a view that sees adolescents and young adult expression as a dangerous series of risk factors that increasingly require arrest and preventive detention."
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It's the final four performances of INVINCIBLE SUMMER at ART--the insanity of the last week has finally receded a bit, letting me surface long enough to post this before diving in to these final performances, and prepare to switch over to MONOPOLY! It's strange to think that soon I won't be telling this particular story every night, as I have grown very used to INVINCIBLE SUMMER over the last month, but that's the rare joy of my particular form--it won't die when I put it down, but simply sleep and wait until I tell it again in the future. It makes the closing less bittersweet than a traditional production, but I'll miss this run all the same--it has been punctuated by so many strange events, above and beyond my notes being destroyed in performance, that we've joked that it's a cursed production. Cursed or not, we'll ride it into the ground this weekend, and I hope to do it proud.

We met with Derek yesterday to discuss changes for MONOPOLY!--we're planning on changing a number of variables in the space, with a new table, new seating and new lighting to accentuate the very real differences between the two works. INVINCIBLE SUMMER is much more gut and heart driven, whereas MONOPOLY! is more cerebral, with more intertwined storylines that lie against one another, so we're hoping to build a different vocabulary of lights to guide people through. It will be very interesting to have an audience versed in one monologue see MONOPOLY!--it's a rare opportunity to develop work that builds on one another, and see what that achieves.

For my part, I have been looking over the outline loosely, but this weekend in the heat of INVINCIBLE SUMMER I will have to start really turning MONOPOLY! on to have it fully ready in time--a one day turnaround is hard, but we knew that going in, and I think with the right mindset it's completely doable. It's times like these I am grateful the monologues are not memorized by performed extemporaneously--I don't think I'd be nearly as flexible were it the other way.

Crossposted to the ART blog
The Sorrow and the Pity | Film | The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:

Thirty years ago, Woody Allen wrote, directed, and starred in Annie Hall, the 1977 masterpiece that rewrote the rules for romantic comedy, made Diane Keaton a superstar, and earned the one and only Best Picture Oscar for an Allen film. This week, Annie Hall returns with a weeklong run at Northwest Film Forum. If you've never seen it, you must. If you watch it at least twice a year, here's your chance to see it on the big screen.
No Witches!
Harold Pinter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

There are two silences. One when no word is spoken. The other when perhaps a torrent of language is being employed. This speech is speaking of a language locked beneath it. That is its continual reference. The speech we hear is an indication of that which we don't hear. It is a necessary avoidance, a violent, sly, anguished or mocking smoke screen which keeps the other in its place. When true silence falls we are still left with echo but are nearer nakedness. One way of looking at speech is to say that it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness.

Friday, April 27, 2007

20070419214310 Hydropylons
Ten Years (And Counting):

Sunday, the 22nd of April, marks the tenth anniversary of Panic's incorporation.

I started working with Cabel and learning what is now known as the Carbon API slightly before that, in October of the previous year. But April 22, 1997 is the filing date of our original incorporation as an LLC. (We later changed to an Inc. at the urging of our CPA.)

So, it's the closest thing to a corporate birthday that we have.

Ten years!

To put this in perspective, when we founded Panic, I was coding on a PowerMac 7500/132 (as in 132 MHz, or 0.1 GHz) running System 7.5, with probably in the neighborhood of 4 to 8 MB of RAM.

Gil Amelio was running Apple (into the ground). You could still go to a store and buy a Newton, if you wanted to. I was doing nightly backups to 3.5" floppies. Windows 95 was still the most current version of Windows.

Marc Fisher - Lawyer's Price For Missing Pants: $65 Million -

When the neighborhood dry cleaner misplaced Roy Pearson's pants, he took action. He complained. He demanded compensation. And then he sued. Man, did he sue.

Two years, thousands of pages of legal documents and many hundreds of hours of investigative work later, Pearson is seeking to make Custom Cleaners pay -- would you believe more than the payroll of the entire Washington Nationals roster?

He says he deserves millions for the damages he suffered by not getting his pants back, for his litigation costs, for "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort," for the value of the time he has spent on the lawsuit, for leasing a car every weekend for 10 years and for a replacement suit, according to court papers.

Pearson is demanding $65,462,500. The original alteration work on the pants cost $10.50.
N. Colmore Auction Lot
Gothamist: Paris Hilton's Autopsy In Williamsburg:

Nothing says "responsibility" like Paris Hilton. This prom season, the socialite's naked "corpse" will be used as an educational tool for teens getting ready for the big dance. The "corpse" was created by Daniel Edwards, who Hilton herself had reportedly commissioned to create a sculpture of her for Los Angeles' Sunset Strip. This probably isn't what she had in mind. The interactive PSA will be a life-sized replica of Hilton (with her privelaged pup Tinkerbell) wearing a tiara, gripping on to her cell phone, and containing...removable innards in her opened abdominal cavity. Somehow this is meant to warn teenagers about the hazards of underage drinking.
Young-Jean Lee Makes a None-Too-Joyful Noise by Alexis Soloski:

Playwright Young Jean Lee gave up caffeine two years ago, but this renunciation hasn't exactly mellowed her. Over a glass of cranberry juice, in the innocuous surroundings of an Au Bon Pain, she can summon startling rage, inveighing against her hipster peers. Lee on smugness: "How can you be so complacent and so fucked-up and so sure that you're right about everything?" On self-interest: "It's morally wrong to be this selfish and this spoiled." On whining: "This constant depression and anxiety is taken completely dead seriously when we live in almost unbelievable privilege." But she saves her harshest words for herself. "That's totally me," she sighs. "I am so typical."
RIAA: DRM is Pro-Consumer; Gizmodo: Shut Up, Idiots. - Gizmodo:

Earlier this week at the Digital Summit in Nashville, RIAA ringleader Mitch Bainwol spoke on the RIAA's litigious nature and their love of DRM. Unsurprisingly, he let loose with a bunch of steamy, BS-scented PR-speak that we're here to smash into a thousand little pieces.
from Mars u are .. found U on Earth
Jack Valenti, 85; former Hollywood lobbyist pioneered film ratings system - Los Angeles Times:

Jack Valenti, the urbane Washington lobbyist who served as Hollywood's public face for nearly four decades and was best known for creating the film ratings system, died Thursday afternoon, according to Warren Cowan, his longtime friend. He was 85.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Theater offensive? - Arts - The Phoenix:

Every night, prior to his monologue Invincible Summer , which runs at the American Repertory Theatre (ART) in Harvard Square through April 29, Mike Daisey says the audience is warned. He paraphrases: “Ladies and gentlemen, this show will be performed in the patois and idiom of New York City. Turn your fucking cell phones off or we’ll shove them so far up your ass you’ll never find them again.”

Point taken. But last Thursday night, Daisey, sitting at a spare table onstage with just a glass of water and a handwritten outline, was flabbergasted when, during a segment of the soliloquy about “fucking Paris Hilton,” a group of 87 students and chaperones from Southern California’s Norco High School, who’d been in Boston for a choral competition, simultaneously got up and filed out of the theater. As they did, one parent chaperone punctuated their exodus by pouring a bottle of water all over Daisey’s notes, destroying them.
Disgusted Beyond Belief: My Views on Abortion:

In the weeks after this happened, I reflected on some other things as well. While I was upset at losing the little one that I saw on those ultrasounds, it did not feel even 1/100th of how I'd have felt if we'd lost my then 17 month old daughter. Not even close. We did not have a funeral. We did mourn, in a way, but nothing like you'd do with a baby who has been born. In short, just instinctively, we knew it was nothing like that. It was a seed of a person, but it really wasn't a person yet, not in our awareness. Nobody really treats a 9 week old fetus like that. Not even pro-lifers. More food for thought.
Magnet World
Parabasis: My Younger Brother Responds to INVINCIBLE SUMMER:

My quasi-Orthodox younger brother who is a library science masters student at Simmons in Boston went to go see Invincible Summer. I asked him to write a response to the show so I could post it on the blog. So... here you go... from Lee The Brother:
Fall on me
The Medium, the Message, the Drama of TV’s Q & A:

Ginia Bellafante, former NYT Style reporter suddenly turned theatre critic, has a telling second paragraph to her review of Frost/Nixon:

The journalist and his adversary faced each other on a white shag rug in moiré armchairs the color of an unwashed taxi. The effect of the arrangement is startling now, and it prompts us to consider just how deep into the crevices of American life the big Nixonian mess seemed to cast its dust. The whole louche, chaotic, regrettable aesthetic of the 1970s is on display, and right along with it, the visual logic implies, the culprit of all the disorder.

Could have been torn from the pages of Domino, couldn't it? You can take the reporter out of the Style section...
Gothamist: The Belle Of The Jar:

Thus begins The Bell Jar, a novel whose film adaptation Julia Stiles will star in and produce. Sylvia Plath's 1950s-era drama centers around Esther Greenwood, who - while spending a summer in Manhattan - grows troubled and eventually descends into mental illness, attempting suicide several times. She likens her depression to being trapped under a bell jar, struggling for breath...this is a dark novel, exploring the dark side of the human psyche. Yet according to Variety, Stiles wants to make the film...lighthearted, and keep focus on the more uplifting elements. Celine Rattray, of Plum Pictures (attached to produce the film with Stiles), says "Esther Greenwood has a strong outlook on life, and we're really looking to bring out the humor in the character. We don't want to do a depressing descent into the world of suicide."
Ball of plasma, Edinburgh, Scotland
White House Privacy Board Says It's All Good:

The panel, which is part of the White House's executive office, also said that oversight of government interrogation techniques, CIA 'black prisons,' and renditions of non-Americans to certain torture in other countries is beyond their scope of duty.

The panel, created by Congress in 2004, held its first public meeting in December 2006, where it refused to take questions from the media and declined to share what it had learned about the government's snooping program aimed at Americans' overseas communications.
Sunset on the Ohio River
LSD as Therapy? Write about It, Get Barred from US:

When Feldmar looks back on what has happened, he concludes that he was operating out of a sense of safety that has become dated in the last six years, since 9-11. His real mistake was to write about his drug experiences and post this on the web, even in a respected journal like Janus Head. He acknowledges that he had not considered posting on the Internet the risk that it turned out to be. So many of his generation share his experience in experimenting with drugs, after all. He believed it was safe to communicate about the past from the depth of retrospection and that this would be a useful grain of personal wisdom to share with others. He now warns his friends to think twice before they post anything about their personal lives on the web.

"I didn't heed the ancient Alchemists' dictum, 'Do, dare, and be silent,'" Feldmar says. "And yet, the experience of being treated as undesirable was shocking. The helplessness, the utter uselessness of trying to be seen as I know myself and as I am known generally by those I care about and who care about me, the reduction of me to an undesirable offender, was truly frightening. I became aware of the fragility of my identity, the brittleness of a way of life.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It has been an intense few days, and I would like to thank the thousands of people who have sent me emails, which have been overwhelmingly positive and supportive. They've come from everywhere, and in an age when we often seem terribly divided, especially in this country, it really means a great deal. Though now I will be answering email well into 2010, things could be much worse--when you let something explosive loose on the internet you can never predict how it will all go down. As of now I'm glad that I posted the video. I think it captures what it was really like in that theatre, and how incredibly chilling and incredibly dorky it was at the same time.

The group responsible for the incident is from a public high school, though they identified themselves to me as a Christian group as they fled the theater--it's barely audible on the YouTube clip, as an adult tells me they are a Christian group, then flees for the door, refusing to engage with me. Then in the lobby of the theater and on the phone to the box office they identified themselves again and again as a Christian group--I don't know what that says about the division of church and state in Norco, California. As a group, the people in charge freely identified themselves as a Christian group, until reporters call and they remember they are from a public high school.

As has been covered in other media outlets, I know now that the group bought their tickets that day. I have now spoken with the box office staff person who spoke with a representative from the school--when asked if the show had appropriate content for high school students, they were told it had strong language and adult situations. There are multiple corroborating witnesses to this phone conversation.

It bears noting that in fact, there were two high schools there that night--and the other high school STAYED, enjoyed the show, and I had a very good talk with them after the show discussing the work. That high school confirms that they were informed about the language and content of the show when they asked--the box office informs anyone who asks what the show contains.

I did speak with an administrator from the school, and with the individual who ruined my work. I think it's important to note that *I* found and called *them*--it is clear to me that I never would have heard from any of them again had I not hunted them down. In fact, they were surprised to hear from me, which I think speaks to the lack of understanding and civility on their part. My work had been assaulted, and I had a clear vision of this man standing above me, destroying my work, with hatred in his eyes. I refused to be a victim twice--first by being assaulted, and second by committing the sin of silence. So I knew I had to find them, and speak with the man who did this.

The first person I managed to reach was an administrator with the group, a woman who started the conversation repeating the same statement time and again, which undercut her apology: she insisted it was a "safety issue", and that "we had to get our students out of there." There was no discussion of language or appropriateness--it had become a safety issue, as though the students were in danger of being physically assaulted. I think it is tremendously chilling that the language of the war on terror, the language of security, has been appropriated for even this--we can't even begin a dialogue about what is and is not appropriate, because it has all become a "safety" issue. That ends a conversation before it has even begun.

She also insisted that they asked if the show was "clean"--a construction I think is a repulsive way to ask about content, and the way she said "clean", the finality of it, stays with me. I told her that I wasn't interested in that, but would prefer to talk about the assault and vandalization of my work, at which she became slightly more contrite.

I told her I would need to talk to the man responsible for destroying my work. She hedged and said that she'd let him know I wanted him to get in touch, but that she didn't know if he'd want to do that. I told her that I had a videotape of him destroying my work and a couple hundred witnesses, and that it was very important that I hear from him immediately. She then agreed, and I found it disappointing that a veiled threat had to be used just to bring people to the table for a simple conversation.

After talking to her I performed the show for the first time since the incident happened, and I had a hard time. Because the shows aren't scripted the relationship with my audience is key, and I was slightly hesitant--I could feel myself closing up over myself, wanting to hide. I pushed through, but it was sobering to see the damage done, real damage that extends beyond the event itself. I had hoped that it would shake off.

After the show, I reached the man who attacked my work on the phone. I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous--Jean-Michele didn't even understand why I would call him; she was afraid he would simply attack me again--but I knew, especially after that second performance, that I had to try to find some communion with him. If I could look this person in the eye, hear their words and know them I would be able to move beyond that moment at the table. Never forgetting, but being able to walk forward--being able to breathe.

His name is David. At the beginning of the conversation there was a lot of silence--long, long silences that neither of us were willing to puncture. First I made him understand what he had done--that these were the only set of notes for the show, how I work with them, what he had cost me in terms of my physical work and in terms of what it had been like that next night to go out in front of them. I needed him to understand what he had taken from me.

He quietly said that he had heard me, and that he understood.

I gradually opened him up by listening, and responding, the one-on-one version of what I do with an audience. We talked about many things, for almost an hour, and step by step, his story emerged.

He has three kids--one is 21, and two are 17--and he's terrified of the world. Terrified by violence, and sex, and he sees it all linked together--a horrifying world filled with darkness, pornography and filth that threatens his children, has threatened them all his life. They're older now, but he says he still sees things the same way--and that the only way to protect his children and himself is to lock it all out of his life.

He also said he's had anger-control issues for years, and sometimes acts of rage come over him--he explodes, and then has to apologize, and doesn't know why it happens. He tries to lock it down, but it happens, and he's ashamed of it. I told him that regardless of where we both stand, I felt very strongly that the repression of walling off everything in the world and viewing it all as filth is connecting with these outbursts, and that it isn't going to work--until you deal with the root causes, and deal with the world, his anger and rage would keep using him.

He agreed with this.

It wasn't all agreement--he reiterated the administrator's line that it had been a "security issue" (his words) and that "we had to get our kids out of there". He said at one point, "You're probably more *liberal* than I am" and the word *liberal* had this hook on the end of it, one that he probably didn't even intend, but it was unavoidable for him--it sounded edged, like a slur.

He also casually used a coarse racial epithet to refer to black people in a very loose, unnecessary analogy, which was remarkable to me--in a situation where violence resulted from offense at language, our worlds are so far apart that he didn't think for a moment about throwing out this word. I believe strongly that everyone is free to speak, but we are also accountable for our speech--the casual indifference of it shocked me under the circumstances of our conversation.

The moment that was most illuminating was this:

We have been talking for quite some time, making progress, when I mention offhandedly in response to something that I had been raised Catholic.

At this, he makes this little sound: "oh!" It's a tiny exclamation, upward-inflected. I hear that sound, and my heart sinks.

It's a sound of surprise he makes, and of recognition. Of fellowship. And immediately, everything he says is the same, but it is surrounded with a superstructure of scripture--there are supporting arguments from Jesus, the apostles, the whole nine yards. His cadence and language is entirely different, because now he is drawing on over two thousand years of religious writing to enfold and magnify his arguments.

For the first time in the conversation, in my heart, I am furious.

What was I before that moment? I thought we were trying to speak to one another and I was honest with you--but this is your real face, and I only earn the right to see it if I say the right password and get let into your club.

Who was I before? Was I nobody? Was I simply a *liberal*, the word with the hook on the end of it? A dirty, pornographic artist? A purveyor of filth?

No. It's worse than that, worse than labels. I know the truth. I was no one. I was no one to you, not a real person at all--I wasn't real when you destroyed my work, and until the moment I said the magic word I wasn't real. When he made that sound, he betrayed his heart and finally spoke the truth, and I could see him fully. Now I know him, and now he has no power over me.

We keep talking, and now that I can see him completely he's just an angry man, angry and impotent. He is sorry, though not so sorry that he sought me out--and when I ask what the people in his group are saying about what happened, he confesses that no one is talking about it.

I ask him to do one thing for me. I ask him to talk to everyone in the group together, parents and students alike, and talk to them about what happened. I do not even ask him to apologize, nor do I dictate what he should say--that's his prerogative. I simply ask that he open the door for the conversation be allowed to happen. I believe in the truth, and I want him to let the group speak its mind to him and to itself. I do not know if he did this--I hope that he did, and I will continue to hope.

And then I forgive him. He is very quiet--he is obviously shocked. And I tell him, "I want you to remember that a liberal atheist has forgiven you today. I don't want you to ever forget that, as long as you live, do not forget what happened here. I don't have God behind me, but I speak for myself, and I forgive you for myself, and for you. Never forget this."

He said that he would. I wished him good luck, good luck with everything. He wished me the same.

Link to post from two weeks later at the end of the run.

Link to original post.

Link to Mike's homepage.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Last night's performance of INVINCIBLE SUMMER was disrupted when eighty seven members of a Christian group walked out of the show en masse, and chose to physically attack my work by pouring water on and destroying the original of the show outline.

I'm still dealing with all the ramifications, but here's what it felt like from my end: I am performing the show to a packed house, when suddenly the lights start coming up in the house as a flood of people start walking down the aisles--they looked like a flock of birds who'd been startled, the way they all moved so quickly, and at the same was shocking, to see them surging down the aisles. The show halted as they fled, and at this moment a member of their group strode up to the table,  stood looking down on me and poured water all over the outline, drenching everything in a kind of anti-baptism.

I sat behind the table, looking up in his face with shock. My job onstage is to be as open as possible, to weave the show without a script as it comes, and this leaves me very emotionally available--and vulnerable, if an audience chooses to abuse that trust. I doubt I will ever forget the look in his face as he defaced the only original of the handwritten show outline--it was a look of hatred, and disgust, and utter and consuming pride.

It is a face I have seen in Riefenstahl's work, and in my dreams, but never on another human face, never an arm's length from me--never directed at me, hating me, hating my words and the story that I've chosen to tell. That face is not Christian, by any definition Christ would be proud to call his own--its naked righteousness and contempt have nothing to do with the godhead, and everything to do with pathetic human pride at its very worst.

And it wounded me in my heart, because I trusted these people. Scared parents and scared teachers running from a theater because words might hurt them, and so consumed by fear that they have to lash out at the work, literally break it apart, drown it. They've made me afraid of my audience, afraid of my craft, just the smallest amount, and that's the trust I will have to relearn tonight and every night. That's the work--the only way out is through, I tell my students, and it is true for me and it is true for everybody.

I tried to engage with the group as they fled, but they ran out like cowards, and not one of them would stand and discuss with me what they'd done. That cowardice still takes my breath away--that they wouldn't stand and speak like men and women and tell me in their voices their grievances. In spite of everything, I still believe--Jean-Michele says that's one of the reasons I'm a monologuist--and I fought to the end to get a single voice to speak and reckon with me, but they ran and didn't look back.

I had to stay onstage and tend to my audience, who was wounded and reeling--they looked stunned and shaken, as Jean-Michele and Kevin cleaned the table I talked to everyone, normalizing the pressures, rebuilding connections. We talked a bit, then I restarted the show, which was intense from a cold start--like passing a six pound kidney stone--and hesitantly, shakily, they came with me and we comforted each other with the story. At the end of the show they gave a standing ovation, which I didn't earn--they applauded because they had been through the same thing, and worked as hard as I did to carry the story to its conclusion. They were magnificent.

After the show I told the audience something, and it's been rolling around in my mind. It's common to think things will never happen where you are--never in Cambridge, never in New York, never in Seattle--that sort of thing, whatever it is, never happens here, not in our community. Then it happens, right in front of you, and you realize you were blind to it, that you forgot that intolerance and zealotry and viciousness are human currency everywhere, and it takes your breath away. You want to curl up and pretend it never happened, because they were fools, idiots--you make excuses and move on. Do the next show. Breathe. Forget.

But they are not simply fools and idiots--I saw them. They are young and old, they are teachers and students, they are each and every one of us. We are the same family, even if it hurts.  The hard truth is that you reap what you sow, and I will not sow hatred and discontent--I refuse. I will not forget what that man, older than I am today, did to my work. I will not forget the cowed silence of those who left. I will not forget their judgment and their arrogance--but I will not hate.

I will listen. I will listen and learn and remember what has passed here, and when I tell it back it will be louder and longer and clearer. When I tell it back there will be place in the story for you and you and even you.

Read the followup post about the aftermath and my confrontation with the man who vandalized my work.

Link to Mike's homepage.
Fille de Libreville
I Shared Dorms With . . .:

You were my best man, once, and another of my (first) wedding party commented with an unmistakeable certitude, "That guy really is the best man." And you were. I didn't give you a tenth of what you gave me. I owe you, my friend. I called you brother once. I meant it, and I miss you.

I'm pushing forty. I have so much. But I miss so much.

I remember so clearly Jason playing me this song.

The earth is weeping, the sky is shaking
The stars split to their core
And every proton and unnamed neutron
Is fusing in my bones

And an unnamed mammal is darkly rising
As man burns from his tomb
And I look at this as a blissful moment
To fly into the sun
house by the river
Design & color....!
Britain's Dickens World: Theme park with a Twist:

In Dickens World, rat catchers hunt vermin on London's cobbled streets, pickpockets roam the alleys -- and visitors line up for a fun-tastic water ride.

A new theme park inspired by the work of Charles Dickens aims to transform a 70,000-square-foot warehouse near London into a teeming -- and family-friendly -- corner of Victorian England.

Literary purists may balk, but the attraction's backers are confident.
Price Green Zipper Pin
Mr. Excitement News: Richard Nelson's Address to ART/NY:

I sit with young writers and hear how they now leave chunks of their plays purposely badly written - hoping that the 'help' they receive will concentrate on these areas and not on others that they care about. Tricks, games that many a screenwriter has learned over time, but now finding their way into the writing of plays.
Now no doubt many of you are thinking - but the plays aren't finished, they need help, and they do get better.

Again, I am not saying that a playwright should avoid and ignore comments and reactions to his work, quite the opposite. But I am saying that our mindset toward playwrights should be this: 1) the playwright knows what he is doing, 2) perhaps the play as presented is as it should be. So that the onus for change is not on the playwright but on others, on the theater. And the theater is there with a full array of tools to support the playwright as he or she attempts to improve upon his or her play. How to improve a play should be the domain of the writer, with the theater supplying potential tools, a reading say, or a workshop with clearly delineated goals. These are tools that should evolve out of a need, as opposed to being a given.
Chinese Political Prisoner Sues in U.S. Court, Saying Yahoo Helped Identify Dissidents - New York Times:

A Chinese political prisoner and his wife sued Yahoo in federal court Wednesday, accusing the company of abetting the commission of torture by helping Chinese authorities identify political dissidents who were later beaten and imprisoned.

The suit, filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act, is believed to be the first of its kind against an Internet company for its activities in China.

Wang Xiaoning, who according to the suit is serving a 10-year prison sentence in China; his wife, Yu Ling; and other unnamed defendants seek damages and an injunction barring Yahoo from identifying dissidents to Chinese authorities.
Luluweb 2

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Dell casts doubts on Vista:

Dell today revealed that it will restore the option to use Windows XP on some of its home systems, marking a potentially damaging blow to Microsoft's hopes for the newer Windows Vista. The Dimension E520 and E521 as well as virtually all of the company's Inspiron notebooks can immediately be custom-ordered with XP in Home or Professional editions, giving cautious buyers the opportunity to use the earlier OS. The change in policy was the result of user feedback, Dell claims.
Life is too short
Remembering Kitty Carlisle Hart, a Last Link to Glamorous New York - New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer:

Kitty Carlisle Hart belonged to the heyday of the '21' Club and Sardi's, of Harpo Marx acting up at parties where George Gershwin (who once proposed to her) played only his own songs. Her death today, at a vibrant 96, severs one of the last links to a New York that had more glamour than celebrity, more sophistication than wealth. In a newspaper interview a few years ago — between cabaret engagements, dates with beaux, and the other social commitments incumbent upon a "living landmark" of the city — she wondered what had happened to the place. Decades ago, she recalled, "we used to get all dressed up and go out dancing, then we'd go out for breakfast, and then we'd go to work the next day. I don't know why they don't do that anymore." - An easier QuickTime Pro file splitting technique:

I have a long file (call it that I want to split into several different parts. This can be easily accomplished using Quicktime Pro, but usually it requires dragging the selectors around to the start and end points, which can be difficult to target precisely, especially on a longer movie (I'm working with one now that started out as almost two hours). On the other hand, pausing the movie and moving the cursor using the left and right arrow keys moves so slowly, it seems to take forever to get to the right moment. 2br Then I found an easier way: using the keyboard (at least for the important parts):
In Reversal, Justices Back Ban on Method of Abortion - New York Times:

The Supreme Court reversed course on abortion on Wednesday, upholding the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in a 5-to-4 decision that promises to reframe the abortion debate and define the young Roberts court.

The most important vote was that of the newest justice, Samuel A. Alito Jr. In another 5-to-4 decision seven years ago, his predecessor, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, voted to strike down a similar state law. Justice Alito’s vote to uphold the federal law made the difference in the outcome announced Wednesday.

The decision, the first in which the court has upheld a ban on a specific method of abortion, means that doctors who perform the prohibited procedure may face criminal prosecution, fines and up to two years in prison. The federal law, enacted in 2003, had been blocked from taking effect by the lower court rulings that the Supreme Court overturned.
Interview: Will Friedwald, Owner Of The Worlds Largest iTunes Collection:

Will Friedwald proclaims he has the world largest iTunes collection. An avid listener to Jazz music, and a writer for the New York Sun, Will spends his days in front of his Power Mac G5 running “The Maxtix”, his mammoth 200,000 track iTunes library.

Will took some time out of his rigirous daily schudule and took some time to talk with me about iTunes, his music collection, and how he manages it.

The question we all want to know. How large is your iTunes music collection?

I just re-compiled the main library (something that takes about six hours – I only do it a few times a year!). Here are the new stats:

849 GB | 172,150 tracks | 809.2 days
2,935 artists | 11,561 albums
iTunes library database file - 282 MB
iTunes library XML file - 259 MB
The End of a 1,400-Year-Old Business:

The world's oldest continuously operating family business ended its impressive run last year. Japanese temple builder Kongo Gumi, in operation under the founders' descendants since 578, succumbed to excess debt and an unfavorable business climate in 2006.

How do you make a family business last for 14 centuries?
L'allée au milieu
We're halfway through the run of INVINCIBLE SUMMER, and things are looking good--audience numbers are trending upward, and I'm delighted to be in the thick of the run. Due to an exceeding unfortunate encounter with some bad Indian food my day off on Monday wasn't nearly the faerieland of fun I had anticipated--I'm only now fully getting back to myself. It's amazing how much the body rejects food that isn't good for it, and how *thoroughly* it does so--it's a remarkable machine.

Last night's show was a revelation; I was only 80% of the way back, I felt, but the audience was utterly fantastic and full, and their generosity helped me climb back to where I needed to be for them. There was a standing ovation at the end, which should never be an absolute measure of a show's success, but it was so heart-warming that it happened on a Tuesday, when I was feeling weak in the knees, really affirms my faith in this process. It was a surprisingly magical night.

I wanted to take a moment to talk about the idea of working extemporaneously. A number of folks who see the show often, ushers and the like, have noted that they expect the show to change more from telling to telling, and while they are polite I can tell that what they're wondering is if the show is actually memorized--after all, they can't tell what's changing night to night.

That's a byproduct of doing it eight times a week--just because something isn't memorized doesn't mean it doesn't have form and structure, and especially when you're telling the same story again and again you find the ways you like to tell it and it remains remarkably consistent throughout. Now once I put INVINCIBLE SUMMER down for a few months and return to it it will have shifted, and if you saw the first performances here at ART you'd see quite a few changes that then settle down--it's part of the natural breathing of the piece. It's a living thing, theatre that exists without a script, and part of that living is that it finds a shape and form that is stable in the long term. By contrast, MONOPOLY! will be much more volatile, as it only has six performances here, and TONGUES WILL WAG will be one giant discovery, as that will be the first time it will have ever been told.

So don't be surprised if two different performances of INVINCIBLE SUMMER sound similar, any more than hearing someone tell a long and complicated story again and again might resemble one another, or a musician's signature song has the same bridge in the middle--it doesn't mean that the work is scripted, and it doesn't mean it isn't still changing day by day.

Crossposted to the ART blog.
Week 14: Kristín
Mass Media - The Summer That Changed Everything:

"A wise man once said never go to bed angry … stay up and fight," the advice that Mike Daisey's father offered on his wedding day. A clash of humor and sincerity, Daisey's new monologue, "Invincible Summer," is playing through this month at the Zero Arrow Theater in Harvard Square. Like all of Daisey's monologues, "Invincible Summer" is a tightly woven tapestry of human emotion. Intricately united historical fact, humorous anecdotes, and personal reflections are what make up Daisey's solitary masterpieces.
Monceau Park
Websurdity » Blog Archive » Uncomfortable Questions: Was the Death Star Attack an Inside Job?:

We’ve all heard the “official conspiracy theory” of the Death Star attack. We all know about Luke Skywalker and his ragtag bunch of rebels, how they mounted a foolhardy attack on the most powerful, well-defended battle station ever built. And we’ve all seen the video over, and over, and over, of the one-in-a-million shot that resulted in a massive chain reaction that not just damaged, but completely obliterated that massive technological wonder.

Like many citizens of the Empire, I was fed this story when I was growing up. But as I watched the video, I began to realize that all was not as it seemed. And the more I questioned the official story, the deeper into the rabbit hole I went.

Presented here are some of the results of my soul-searching regarding this painful event. Like many citizens, I have many questions that I would like answered: was the mighty Imperial government really too incompetent to prevent a handful of untrained nerf-herders from destroying one of their most prized assets? Or are they hiding something from us? Who was really behind the attack? Why did they want the Death Star destroyed? No matter what the answers, we have a problem.

Below is a summary of my book, Uncomfortable Questions: An Analysis of the Death Star Attack, which presents compelling evidence that we all may be the victims of a fraud of immense proportions.
0 km/h...not fast, not furious :-)
untitled yellow Nº 6
Culturebot » The Pulitzer Prize for Drama Goes to…:

David Lindsay-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole.  Along with a tidy sum of 10,000 dollars.    Here’s where it gets interesting.  According to Playbill, “The Pulitzer jury had nominated three plays — Orpheus X by Rinde Eckert; Bulrusher by Eisa Davis; and Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue by Quiara Alegria Hudes — however, the board decided to bypass the nominations and chose a play that hadn’t been nominated by the jury.”  So, let’s get this straight, the jury, made up of  “Ben Brantley (chief drama critic, New York Times), Kimberly W. Benston (Professor of English at Haverford College), Karen D’Souza (Drama Critic for the San Jose Mercury News), Rohan Preston (Theatre critic for the Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul), Paula Vogel (playwright, Professor of English at Brown University)” opted to select some lesser known works, and then the Board decided it didn’t like their choices and gave the prize, and prize money, to Lindsay-Abaire? That’s a nice “eff you” to  Brantley and co.
Boing Boing: AT&T's vision for the Internet in 1993:

The Paleo-Future blog has just concluded a six-part video series based AT&T's 1993 video "Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future." This is an early-Internet-era promotional for AT&T's futuristic, net-based services, and is hilariously wrong in really interesting ways. Futurism always tells you more about the superstitions and ambitions of the era in which it was written than it does about the actual future. In this cast, AT&T conceives of the Internet as something profoundly organized and polished, something that works a lot more like AOL than the net as we know it. Plus, lots of virtual reality: always the virtual reality, back in 1993!
Orc 8586 Tornlon
Travel through time

Wednesday, April 18, 2007