Monday, October 31, 2011
Apple is considering axing the Mac Pro after 2011, sources for AppleInsider claim. While the company has allegedly developed an updated Mac Pro, it may or may not be shipped, and Apple management has reportedly been mulling the fate of the computer since at least May. Sales executives at the company are said to agree that the product's days are numbered, largely because both consumer and enterprise sales have dropped so severely that Apple doesn't make much profit from the hardware.
Another topic supposedly raised during internal talks is the difference made by Thunderbolt, a port technology now common on Macs. The 10Gbps standard is expected to allow other Macs to assume many of the duties of the Mac Pro, which is often used by professionals and others wanting the speed of PCIe for external peripherals and storage. Some problems with discontinuing the Mac Pro however would be the death of readily user-configurable hardware, and sheer performance, since the Pro can be ordered with up to 12 cores and 64GB of RAM among other options.
Remember how I said closing my account at Chase was really easy? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. A week or two later, I'm going through the mail and there's all this mail from Chase—overdraft notices for my Chase checking account. Which is supposed to be closed. The notices are for two debit card transactions and two auto-pay electronic checks. Instead of the payments not going through, like you would expect of a closed checking account, all four were paid by Chase, which then added an overdraft fee of $34 to each one, meaning $136 in overdraft fees. So I called Chase's 1-800 number and spent about half an hour arguing with them on the phone, and they kept telling me that while they had received my "request" to close the account, the account had not been closed, and that if I wanted to close it I had to go to the branch in person, which I kept saying I'd already done. At the end of the call he said, "Thank you for choosing Chase."
An adolescent boy's bed sheet semen's worth of ink has been spilled lately about men acting too much like boys. But the trend of reverse-striving has crossed over: adult women are acting more and more like little girls, and it's really starting to get on my nerves.
There's so much ukulele playing now, it's deafening. So much cotton candy, so many bunny rabbits and whoopie pies and craft fairs and kitten emphera, and grown women wearing converse sneakers with mini skirts. So many fucking birds.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
On November 7, some of New York’s most esteemed thinkers convene for an evening of innovative performance and political engagement to share their perspectives on the Occupy Wall Street movement. Each guest will present his or her own unique take on this astounding moment in American history, and then join in a conversation with the audience.
FEATURING: MIKE DAISEY, REGGIE WATTS, ANYA KAMENETZ, MARTIN DOCKERY, and the citizens of New York
Host: GREG BARRIS
WHEN: Monday November 7, 7:00 pm
WHERE: The Brooklyn Heights Cinema, 70 Henry Street at Orange Street, Brooklyn Heights, NY
Tickets are $20. Proceeds will go MoveOn.org and OccupyWallStreet. Seating is limited, reserve now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaker and Host Bios:
Mike Daisey has been called “the master storyteller” and “one of the finest solo performers of his generation” by the New York Times for his groundbreaking monologues. His latest, THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS, currently playing at the Public Theater, has been hailed by the Washington Post as "the best new American play of the year." He is an author, public intellectual, gonzo journalist, professional raconteur, and independent artist.
Reggie Watts Hilarious, brilliant, unpredictable – comedian/musician Reggie Watts is a staple of the international performance scene. Reggie's improvised musical sets are created on-the-spot using only his formidable voice and a looping machine. No two songs are ever the same. An avowed "disinformationist," Reggie loves to disorientate his audiences in the most entertaining way. You may not know what Reggie is going to do, but that's okay – he doesn't either. As a solo performer, Reggie was handpicked by Conan O'Brien to open nightly on Conan's entire North American "Prohibted From Being Funny on Television" tour. Reggie was featured as "Hot Comedian" in Rolling Stone's Hot Issue 2010, named SPIN Magazine's "Best New Comedian" and "Best of CMJ" 2010. Reggie released his debut comedy cd/dvd 'Why $#!+ So Crazy?' on Comedy Central Records in May 2010. His new album 'Reggie Watts Live at Third Man Records' is available now.
Anya Kamenetz is a senior writer at Fast Company Magazine, where she writes the column Life in Beta about change, and the author of several books. Generation Debt (Riverhead, 2006), dealt with youth economics and politics; DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, (Chelsea Green, 2010) investigated innovations to address the crises in cost, access, and quality in higher ed; The Edupunks' Guide is a free ebook full of free and cheap resources for self- directed learning (edupunksguide.org). She was named a 2010 Game Changer in Education by the Huffington Post and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing by the Village Voice in 2005.
Martin Dockery is a frequent performer in New York’s storytelling scene. Over the past several years, he’s created five critically acclaimed theatrical monologues (Wanderlust, The Surprise, The Bike Trip, Bursting Into Flames, and The Holy Land Experience) and one play (Oh, That Wily Snake!), performing them across North America, England and Australia, receiving numerous awards and kudos. If you’re in New York, you can next see Martin in Wanderlust at Theatre 80 St. Marks as part of the AFO Festival (www.afofest.org) on Nov. 16th and in The Holy Land Experience at The Kraine Theater (www.horsetrade.info) on Mondays from Nov 28th-Dec 19th. For more scintillating details, please visit www.martindockery.com.
Greg Barris Hailed as simply `Excellent!` by The New Yorker, Greg is the creator of Heart of Darkness, LA and NYC `s premiere showcase of comics. A staple of New York’s comedy club circuit, Greg has been profiled in The New Yorker, The Village Voice, Comedians Magazine, and The NY Daily News. Greg's comedic shorts have been featured on Funny or Die, College Humor and Jay Leno's Laugh Squad. He has been a commentator on MTV's All That Rocks, and Warren The Ape. "Heart of Darkness” has a monthly residency at Union Hall in Brooklyn, where "The band and comics will all be performing together, the audience will be involved, special guests will be involved—the whole way through. And sins will be forgiven." The show travels to LA, Florida and San Francisco, and has performed at the Guggenheim Museum.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Quick: You’re writing a play about the characters from Peanuts as teenagers. How do you begin? If you answered, “With a monologue delivered by a shell-shocked Charlie Brown about the bloody death of a rabies-stricken Snoopy,” you shouldn’t be allowed to continue writing your script. And if the rest of the play features a pothead Linus tricking Sally into giving him head, and a homophobic, obsessive-compulsive Pigpen, you should be forced to read all 50 sublime years of Peanuts—17,897 hand-drawn strips—from end to end before you’re allowed access to a word-processing program ever again. Bert V. Royal’s Dog Sees God has the depth of an after-school special and the vapid characterization of a B-movie teen sex comedy. It vacillates between those two poles—shame-faced moralizing and dumb, horny naughtiness—and never once manages to find sure footing.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Whatever you think of Jobs, he was too complicated and compelling a person to be boiled down to 400 words of adoration in an Op-Ed piece. Over the past couple of years, monologist Mike Daisey has been writing, workshopping, previewing and preparing The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, his new monologue currently running at The Public Theater. With only a glass of water and a neat stack of notes, Daisey maintains the audience’s rapt attention for 2 hours as he relates the rise of Apple and Jobs while skillfully weaving in the story of how a blog item about a few test photos from a factory in China that were left on an iPhone made this self-proclaimed Mac Fanboy travel to Foxconn to speak to scores of the hundreds of thousands of employees who piece together the electronic devices we use every day. Incredibly, this thought-provoking show on labor, consumerism and the heartbreak of loving a somewhat sinister genius and his work, is also laugh-out-loud funny.
Daisey’s stage presence and aptitude as an entertainer gives you the feeling that you are listening to your most interesting friend tell you a story you never want to end.
We might not know about the Foxconn compound but for the spate of worker suicides there that shook the plant, the province, and China itself last year. When investigators and journalists ventured into the compound, they found a factory complex worthy of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis—300,000 workers, many of them still in their teens, working long hours at piddling wages to turn out the latest in Apple technology, then domiciled together ten in a room. Their story is currently being related by actor-writer Mike Daisey, whose play, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” which premiered in D.C. this spring and is now at the Papp Public Theater in New York, veers between Daisy’s love affair with Jobs’s products and his revulsion at the Foxconn compound, which he visited several years ago.Is Jobs’s indifference to the worker-bees who mass-produced his dream machines the key to Apple’s offshoring? Probably not.
Apple isn’t even the only company that’s contracted with Foxconn to make its products, let alone the only U.S. multinational to go to China for production. Going to China for manufacturing is simply the normal way that American multinationals have done their business for the past decade. Going abroad for cheap labor has been the normal way of American business since General Electric Jack Welch CEO proclaimed that companies should answer only to their shareholders—not their workers or the communities they lived in—a full 30 years ago, and began moving the lion’s share of GE’s production from domestic factories to plants abroad. Shareholder capitalism, it turns out, is every bit as binary, as Manichean, as Steve Jobs’s assessment of humankind. In American business practice, as in Jobs’s psyche, ordinary workers don’t matter a damn. It doesn’t require a special animus to dismiss American workers and outsource their work to substandard factories hidden behind what is both an economic and a psychological Chinese wall.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters' worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.
The study's assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable.
Earlier this month, the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union in New York City held a fundraiser to celebrate its 25th anniversary. It just so happened that this the credit union many of the protesters at Occupy Wall Street (OWS) were using to store funds — and the protest group became an honoree at the dinner. When Goldman Sachs found out that OWS would be at the dinner, it pulled out of the event, along with its $5,000 donation. Despite the threat from the mega-bank to pull its money if OWS would be honored, event organizers decided to go ahead anyway. “”Their money was welcome, but not at the price of giving up what we believe in,” said Pablo DeFilippi, associate director of member development at the National Federal of Community Development Credit Unions. “We lost their $5,000, but we have our principles.”
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Surprisingly, I couldn’t google up a video of Daisey’s monologue – except one in which 87 members of a Christian advocacy group staged a walk out. But, I did find a Vimeo clip from Dream Work China, a documentary made by three Italian journalists who opened a photo shop across from the Shenzhen Foxconn factory [see video below]. They captured interviews with factory workers that represent the dreams of the millions of young Chinese migrant workers who leave their homes and families and travel long distances to work in factories – like Foxconn just across the street. Probably most disturbing are the scenes of dormitories with packed balconies overlooking the nets hung below as a painful memory of the suicides.
Monologuist Mike Daisey, who has put in a several dog years toiling at his craft (if you don't know the extensive Daisey oeuvre, you won't get that reference), finally has the biggest hit of his career.
The Public Theater has extended his latest work, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, which weighs the human cost of must-have technology, through Dec. 4. This move came after the show was greeted by a wave of strong reviews on Oct. 17. Reviewers called the work powerful, unsettling and — given Jobs' recent death and the growing political issue of our country's dependence on Chinese labor — about as contemporary as can be. "It might not be the eulogy the former Apple CEO would have chosen, but Mike Daisey's The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is an eye-opener," wrote the Hollywood Reporter. "This provocative monologue pulls no punches in confronting us with the dark side of Jobs' legacy and of our own mass addiction to gadgets."
A few critics admitted to leaving the theatre feeling newly guilty about owning their various Apple-made gizmos, now irrevocably tainted. That's a hard thing to do, make critics feel guilty. Good job, Daisey.
Friday, October 21, 2011
The truth? In many ways Apple is just another very profitable company, which in July announced that its revenues were $28.57bn, up 90% year-on-year, with profits of $7.31bn, up 124% year-on-year. It is visionary in its products and marketing techniques, but conventional in its working practices and goals. It is, like most world-munching corporations, a feudal hierarchy. There is nothing visionary in transferring the manufacture of your products from the US to China, and subcontracting the work to other companies, thereby circumventing labour laws, as Apple did 10 years ago. The working conditions of those who manufacture the products are appalling and ill paid. Not even the glorious design of whichever number iPhone we are on now could keep the "cluster" of suicides at the Apple supplier Foxconn's main manufacturing plant in Longhua out of the news last year. Overtime in these factory cities is often forced, not voluntary, and with every article puffing the i-Must-Embrace-the-Future-Or-Die, there will be more forced overtime as the factories race to meet demand the newspapers create. All the horrors are there, if you look for them. According to China Labour Watch, Apple pays just £3.99 for the production of your £600 iPhone, and it is the workers who pay for their – and our – greed, so we can tweet and be moving dots on a map. As Mike Daisey said, also in the New York Times, Jobs could have done something about this. He could have really changed the world. He chose not to.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Another scary outcome I discovered is that, when the protesters marched to the first precinct, the whole of Erickson Street was cordoned off – "frozen" they were told, "by Homeland Security". Obviously if DHS now has powers to simply take over a New York City street because of an arrest for peaceable conduct by a middle-aged writer in an evening gown, we have entered a stage of the closing of America, which is a serious departure from our days as a free republic in which municipalities are governed by police forces.
The police are now telling my supporters that the permit in question gave the event managers "control of the sidewalks". I have asked to see the permit but still haven't been provided with it – if such a category now exists, I have never heard of it; that, too, is a serious blow to an open civil society. What did I take away? Just that, unfortunately, my partner and I became exhibit A in a process that I have been warning Americans about since 2007: first they come for the "other" – the "terrorist", the brown person, the Muslim, the outsider; then they come for you – while you are standing on a sidewalk in evening dress, obeying the law.
Noting that the US now foots 18 percent of Israel's defense budget, WaPo's veteran national security reporter Walter Pincus offers some important context:
Nine days ago, the Israeli cabinet reacted to months of demonstrations against the high cost of living there and agreed to raise taxes on corporations and people with high incomes ($130,000 a year). It also approved cutting more than $850 million, or about 5 percent, from its roughly $16 billion defense budget in each of the next two years. If Israel can reduce its defense spending because of its domestic economic problems, shouldn’t the United States — which must cut military costs because of its major budget deficit — consider reducing its aid to Israel?
Last night's GOP debate revealed that the only thing the GOP will never cut is aid to Israel. They're more attached to it than any other item of discretionary spending - a function of Christianism's grip on the party's soul.
Frankly, because it is incredible. This is gonzo journalism at its finest. And every time Daisey turns over a new yellow page your heart will contract, because you are dying to know what comes next, and yet, you are horrified. Terrified.
Agony/Ecstasy is a tapestry of anecdotes about Daisey’s love for Apple, a brief history of Steve Jobs’ career, and devastating stories of his time as an investigative journalist in Shenzhen, China. It is the story of how Apple came to be, of how our modern consumer culture came to be, of how that cell phone ringing behind you in that woman’s purse came to be.
Agony/Ecstasy is also edge-of-your-seat compelling, even as it runs 120 intermission-less minutes—and that’s not because Steve Jobs just died and you’re waiting to hear how Daisey will address the loss. No. It’s because Agony/Ecstasy is a remarkable feat of storytelling.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I'm seeing Mike Daisey all over the internet--the timing of Steve Jobs' death coincided almost perfectly with Daisey's New York opening of The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. This is a monologue that I saw two years ago at T:BA. I loved it; it inspired me in a way that I hadn't been inspired in a long time, and I walked away with a warm tingle in my heart.
So there are all of these articles out there about this monologue, and the timing, and good for you, Mike Daisey. But I see his name and I think, "these people don't know him like I know him." Erin and I spent 24 consecutive hours last month wrapped up in Daisey's world. A 24-hour monologue--he wanted to attempt something laughable; something too crazy.
What started out as a seemingly non-fiction account of events in Daisey's life morphed after a few hours into something that went beyond fiction...something of science fiction, which I have heard Daisey pay tribute to before in a different performance.
When you are awake, or attempting to stay awake, for 24 hours, things get weird. And when you're wrapped up in an ultra weird story of Warren Zevon and Walt Disney and an alternate reality where the Space Needle has been destroyed by a terrorist attack, things get even weirder. And you get emotional. Daisey had me hooked in hour two by describing a marriage in peril (his own), and I became so invested in whether or not he and his wife were still together I just almost couldn't handle it.
I definitely fell asleep a couple of times. And some of the story got lost in my too-tired brain. But over the course of the last month, pieces that I totally forgot about have come back to surprise me (did he really talk about how you can't find a bar full of mercenaries and just hang with them anymore? yes, he did). We sang "Amazing Grace" outside at six in the morning. We ate bacon cooked on stage. The fire alarm went off mid-day and we had to evacuate (intentional? not intentional? I finally decided on intentional but I'm not 100% sure). We followed the characters around the world and witnessed the crucifixion of Warren Zevon (it had to happen). At hour 24, when it finally became clear that Daisey and his wife were not in the midst of divorce proceedings, I was elated, and I cried while Holcombe Waller sang their wedding song (by Warren Zevon), and then we all sang "Lean on Me".
And the crazy thing is, Mike Daisey knows nothing about me. It's really disconcerting, sometimes, to be an audience member.
This has the makings of the perfect Mike Daisey monologue. Foxconn, the giant Taiwanese electronics manufacturer, has reportedly entered into a deal with Amazon.com to produce the next-generation Kindle Fire tablet, reports DigiTimes.
At least twice during his new show, the virtuoso monologist Mike Daisey refers to himself as an actor. Twice more, he calls himself a storyteller. He is of course both things, but the descriptors miss the true impact of what he has accomplished in his powerful piece, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, which opened Monday night at the Public Theater.
As much as he is a performer, Mr. Daisey is also an investigative journalist, even, in the best sense, a muckraker. In his forthright examination of Mr. Jobs, of the various i-devices Jobs created, and of the Chinese sweatshops where those devices are manufactured, Mr. Daisey opens an Upton Sinclair-like window into the horrors and human cost of producing the shiny electronic gizmos resting silently, and increasingly uncomfortably, in our pockets.
Shu Haolun’s 2001 documentary Struggle calls attention to some of the most egregious damages enacted by the factory system: the neglect of wounded workers. After arriving in Shenzen as idealistic young job seekers, the three subjects of Shu’s film suffered similarly careless factory accidents brought on by overwork-induced exhaustion that robbed them of their limbs, rendering them jobless and powerless to retaliate against their former employers. With the help of an altruistic lawyer, Zhou Litai, a former factory worker and devoted advocate for migrant rights reform, the three victims have sought compensation, but the climate for injured migrants remains resolutely crooked. The supply of workers in China far outweighs the demand, Zhou reasons for atrocious working conditions and a lackadaisical approach to injured workers, and people become disposable.
Films like Struggle and media coverage of incidents like the Foxconn suicides—as well as a recent documentary project entitled Dreamwork China offering a more personal portrait of the ambitions and travails of ba-ling-hou and jiu-ling-hou (born in the 80s and 90s) Foxconn workers—endeavor to increase public awareness of this manufacturing framework as a human rights necropolis steadily cranking out goods for global consumption, but much responsibility is being shirked by the very corporations who commission these goods. Steve Jobs was a busy man with a future to design, but, by most recent accounts, he was not a man shy of self-aware, self-critical reflection. As a CEO, Steve Jobs served a symbol of his company: the Apple with a missing bite embodying the lowliest workers to the Silicon Valley bigwigs to the products they so proudly turned out. Remembering a man whose life and work made such strides to connect people and use technology to improve lives, it’s also worth recognizing the intense hardships— coupled with an undeniable struggle for basic human rights, voices, and social progress—withstood by those who supported the most essential infrastructure of his corporation.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
"Who do you think pays the taxes?" said one longtime money manager. "Financial services are one of the last things we do in this country and do it well. Let's embrace it. If you want to keep having jobs outsourced, keep attacking financial services. This is just disgruntled people."
He added that he was disappointed that members of Congress from New York, especially Senator Charles E. Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, had not come out swinging for an industry that donates heavily to their campaigns. "They need to understand who their constituency is," he said.
Yes, this guy is, as the kids say, "for real." Just to be clear, Schumer and Gillibrand's constituency is the 18 million people who live in New York State, like, all of them, not just the 200,000 employed by financial services. Also! Financial services are not really "one of the last things we do in this country" (we do a lot of things in this country! That is why we have the largest economy in the world!), and, uh, "do it well"? You guys almost single-handedly murdered the economy in 2008 and had to be rescued by the taxpayers.
Like Jobs, my Dad was a college dropout. He learned his trade by repairing hardware during battles as a Marine serving in Vietnam. After the end of the war, he got a job in the nascent computer industry, a heady time when law-breaking phone phreaks like Steve Wozniak were on the cusp of becoming millionares, and the industry was open to just about anyone with an interest and some technical know-how. My Dad worked his way up as a software engineer in an industry that was very different than it is now, with employees expecting that they would grow old comfortably working at the same company. When I was very young, he was a well-paid project manager at a Motorola subsidiary located in the same building that now houses Apple’s world headquarters, an office park since given the iconic name “1 Infinte Loop”. We had a large house in the pricy Santa Cruz suburb of Aptos, and I remember eagerly awaiting Christmas mornings where it seemed that no expense had been spared.
In the mid-’80s, his division was shut down and my Dad was laid off. Unlike Jobs, he did not enjoy a golden parachute or late-career comeback. Instead, he was told at the many job interviews he went to that his experience left him overqualified, that his lack of a college or advanced degree left him underqualified, or that he was too old, in euphemistic terms. He doggedly applied for jobs that paid much less than he was worth, for entry-level positions, but there was no place for unconventional backgrounds or desperation in the newly minted, efficiency-obsessed tech industry of the mid ’80s.
For the following two decades, until his death in 2006, my Dad had no choice but to take minimum-wage service jobs, often two at a time, to support his family — his wife, my Alzheimer’s-afflicted grandmother, and myself, his only son. He worked at 7-11, as a security guard, and as the desk attendant at a hotel, and never let his pride or the fact that he was capable of so much more get in his way. The large house in Aptos was sold, and we relocated to small apartments in also-expensive Cupertino and Sunnyvale. During my first two years of high school, the four of us shared a one-bedroom apartment as my parents struggled make ends meet.
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs - David's Thoughtspot:
I saw a one-man show last night by Mike Daisey at the Public Theater called The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. It was not what I expected. The show, which has been touring since July of 2010, was a collection of heartbreaking stories about labor conditions in the Chinese factories that manufacture Apple products (along with most other electronics). As a free-market, libertarian-leaning, Steve Jobs-loving Apple fanboy, it was not easy for me to swallow. However, having been exposed to it, it is hard to ignore.
Metal casing supplier Catcher Technology has partially shutdown a plant in eastern China, following environmental complaints made to the local government by area residents, says the Wall Street Journal. Catcher elaborates that the complaints revolved around a "strange odor" coming from the complex. The facility primarily supplies casing for the MacBook Air, as well as some smartphones.
The complaints may also reinforce allegations that Apple uses known polluters as suppliers. Apple has been resistant to address or even acknowledge the problem; the company has even refused to share the names of suppliers, despite many of them being well-known to analysts, NGOs and the media. Over 20 Apple suppliers are thought to be guilty of breaking environmental laws in recent years.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Many of those paying tribute to Mr. Jobs seemed particularly admiring of a 2005 commencement address he delivered at Stanford University and commended the advice he offered to the students.
He told them, for example: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking … have the courage to follow your heart and intuition …”
Certainly this advice is in keeping with the spirit of the times, and one cannot deny the value of occasionally “thinking outside the box.” But to dismiss dogma as “a trap” and to be contemptuous of “living with the results of other people’s thinking” is merely a verbose endorsement Henry Ford’s culturally and economically suicidal assertion: “History is bunk.”
To be sure, in free and open societies, innovation is both essential (and inevitable). But today’s innovations are built upon the innovations of yesteryear. History—which can be rightly defined as “the results of other people’s thinking”—is a vitally important text book for living. Indeed, as the Harvard philosopher George Santayana observed: Those who will not learn from [it] are doomed to repeat it.
In his monologue, Daisey indicates his assumption that robots put together iPads and iPhones.”I was woefully ignorant most of my life. Even though I love the devices deeply, I never had any idea how they were made and never thought about it in the least,” says Daisey.
Daisey’s eyes were opened when, posing as a businessman, he traveled to the Chinese industrial zone of Shenzhen and interviewed hundreds of workers outside the gates of the secretive Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer. A string of suicides at the heavily regimented factories also have drawn attention to conditions faced by workers inside.
Many states now under Republican control, like Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan, have made moves toward de-unionization, shorter vacations, curtailment of worker rights and even child labor in states like Maine. So this issue of diminished worker rights is being revisited in the US, but nowhere near the horrific conditions in China and Taiwan, for example.
We should thank – and support — the people who are occupying American streets throughout the country, doing all of us a favor, calling out the tyranny that is spreading within corporate America and in the dark hearts of would-be government representatives.
Pinter’s style has been far more influential than his substance — a misfortune if ever there was one. There are few American or British dramatists who have not been affected by Pinter’s heightened, staccato dialogue; but what his acolytes like David Mamet have lacked has been a broader concern with the ways that power is disseminated, domestically and politically, among the strong and the weak, and how this power emerges through the most intimate as well as the most public of relationships. The cool Martin Crimp is one of the few working dramatists who seems to have most interestingly absorbed both of Pinter’s different formal and political legacies. Still, for many writers, what Pinter wrote about Samuel Beckett stands as a meaningful comment on Pinter’s own plays:
The farther he goes the more good it does me. I don’t want philosophies, tracts, dogmas, creeds, way outs, truths, answers, nothing from the bargain basement. He is the most courageous, remorseless writer going and the more he grinds my nose in the shit the more I am grateful to him. He’s not fucking me about, he’s not leading me up any garden, he’s not slipping me any wink, he’s not flogging me a remedy or a path or a revelation or a basinful of breadcrumbs, he’s not selling me anything I don’t want to buy, he doesn’t give a bollock whether I buy or not, he hasn’t got his hand over his heart. Well, I’ll buy his goods, hook, line and sinker, because he leaves no stone unturned and no maggot lonely. He brings forth a body of beauty. His work is beautiful.
Brandon Whitehead, 38
Second day of protesting
"They do hate me. My American dream is different from theirs. I dream of regulating Wall Street, of affordable housing and medicare for everyone. And they hate me for it. Their high-risk derivatives almost bankrupted the world. I want marriage equality. No more war. I want to see an end to corporate tax loopholes and the notion that corporations are people. I want to encourage people to vote, not discourage them. I want a strong and educated middle class. And because of that, they hate me."
The Grey Dog coffeeshop has been a neighborhood fixture in its Carmine Street location since it first opened in 1996. But because of a landlord dispute, the flagship West Village shop will be forced to close tomorrow.
Jobs was a tremendous CEO and worthy of a case study or three at Harvard Business School, but it is ridiculous to suggest that he “vastly improved” the world in the manner of Luca Pacioli, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luca_Pacioli or Thomas Edison, or even Samuel Gompers. As Malcolm Gladwell has recently shown, he did not invent the point-and-click visual interface for which Apple first became famous, and it is ludicrous to suggest that Xerox’ innovation would have died had Jobs not seen it first. Ditto the handheld MP3 player, smartphone, and tablet. Jobs was a design genius with an incredible instinct for the market and he deserves all the money he has made . . . but that is all.
Constituted as I am, it is difficult for me not to read into the response to Jobs’ death the final conquest of consumer culture as secular religion. Something has changed in the last thirty-one or fourteen years. I am aware how ludicrous this sounds. Fortuitously, three luminaries, who did actually vastly improve the world, died within a day of him: Derrick Bell, who invented critical race theory, forever changing the way sensitive citizens look at the law; Fred Shuttlesworth, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and made this country a better place in a direct and obvious way; and Bert Jansch, who made possible the art of, among others, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Paul Simon. But none of them were direct participants in consumer culture, and they have passed mostly un-mourned, overwhelmed by tidal wave Jobs.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Daisey, cognizant that many are currently feeling sentimental toward Jobs, said in a statement, "This moment is an opportunity to peel back the surface and get at the secret heart of our relationship with Steve Jobs, his devices, our labor, and China itself. We live in denial about China: a relationship that so disturbs us that we pretend our devices are made in magical Willy Wonka-esque factories by space elves instead of the real human cost we all know in our hearts has been paid. Steve Jobs was famous for his unsentimental directness, his ability to ignore nostalgia and demand the unvarnished truth, however difficult. I admire that, and these performances at this precise moment are an opportunity for us to together rediscover out how alive theatre can be when we don't know all the answers."
This issue has actually never come up very often in my career, which often surprises me, but yes—within a particular run, monologues can become very similar from night to night. They are still performed extemporaneously—there's no script, and they often begin changing again once something shifts, be it a run beginning or ending, time passing, events from the world impinging, or unidentified forces. There are times when the performances are almost crystalline from night to night, and the music of particular beats are nearly the same. Other times there will be seismic shifts and the show will change in surprisingly large ways, losing parts of scenes, gaining new ones, and the wordings shifting to accommodate these changes.
Extemporaneous isn't improvisational, and it isn't scripted, but the shows do indeed change all the time...but they also change less as they grow more mature, just as we all tend to change less as we discover who we are as we grow up.
It's a lengthy topic, but I'll leave it here tonight to simply say no, the show does indeed change all the time. For example, the final scene has not been performed the same way more than once since Tuesday, as the show is still changing in the new circumstances after Steve's death.
Friday, October 14, 2011
This past week saw an outpouring of grief around the country for Apple founder Steve Jobs, who died of pancreatic cancer last Wednesday. Jobs is remembered as a visionary who changed how we use technology every day. That commercial announcing the launch of Apple's Macintosh played off of George Orwell's "1984" and presented Apple as an iconoclast. But in recent New York Times Op-Ed argues that today there's no company that looks more like the Big Brother of that commercial than Apple itself.
Some members of NYC theater company The Civilians are in Colombia, researching a new project they're calling The Bogatá Musical, based on the beauty pageants held in women's prisons. (The Civilians usually make theater based on research and interviews with people in the real world. Seattle last saw them at the Rep, where they workshopped Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, about the apocalypse and The Simpsons.)
One of their members has just sent an email about death threats that have been issued to theater companies in Bogotá from right-wing paramilitary groups, who work under the umbrella name of Águilas Negras, or "Black Eagles." (For one man's story about Colombia's ongoing civil war and how its factions intersect with the country's drug trade, see the first section of this article.)
There's an election coming up and the Águilas Negras have targeted theater companies that work with lower-income kids to make traditional Colombian street theater—parades, dance, masks, stilt walking, that kind of thing:
Today we begin a social cleansing of all the dirty organizations that stand in our way... motherfucking organizations of shit that pretend to be defenders of the human rights through artistic expressions that are against the policies of our government. We don't care whether you're protected sons of bitches, it won't do you any good.
The Águilas Negras gave the companies eight days to leave the city. But they didn't leave. Instead, on their eighth-day deadline, they held a parade. Video and more details—as well as a call to action—below the jump.
Daisey’s first performance of the Agony and Ecstasy met critical acclaim following its debut in Berkeley over one year ago. Steve Wozniak, Apple’s co-founder, told the New York Times, “I will never be the same after seeing that show.” The Washington Post called the show “blisteringly funny” and the New York Times has called Daisey “one of the finest solo performers of his generation.” Now, as he launches his New York run, Daisey’s catching some unexpected publicity following Jobs’s death. While he acknowledges the mood of his audience may be “charged,” he says he didn’t think twice about keeping the show going.
“A lot of my work in this particular monologue is breaking down people’s defenses so we can actually talk about the truth of China, of manufacturing. The stuff we never ever talk about—that we go to any length not to talk about.”
Thursday, October 13, 2011
“The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”
Where: The Public Theater
First night: Tuesday, Oct. 11
Jobs may've died but the show goes on. Mike Daisey, a master of dramatic lectures and the only showman in America who matters, transforms his visit to Apple's factories in China into a thought-provoking piece about technology and corporations. His monologue will alter how you hold your smartphone.
The burly former Maine native says he doesn't judge his audience, even if they decide to pick up the new iPhone 4S after the show. Daisey says he'd be perfectly satisfied if everyone who buys a high-tech gadget knows how it was made.
"My job is to shine a light on and through something," he says. "My job isn't actually to stop people from buying devices. My job is to ensure that these circumstances are part of the conversation."
Worse than zero. The 13 companies profiled in the report actually cut more than 60,000 jobs. And now the corporations are asking Congress for yet another tax holiday, and this time they promise, really promise, to create jobs. Yeah, right.
Another example is Apple, which, under the late Steve Jobs, touted itself as the "think differently" brand. But that was just a marketing niche. It was business as usual in its manufacturing process over in China. "Disguising himself as an American investor, journalist-playwright Mike Daisey visited the Foxconn complex and documented dozens of reports of abusive labor practices, including the widespread use of child labor, the intimidation of employees seeking redress for workplace injuries, and more generally an oppressive combination of lengthy shifts, constant surveillance, and authoritarian management," writes Foreign Policy In Focus contributor Peter Certo in An Alternative Eulogy for Steve Jobs. "The Foxconn Daisey described was essentially a private-sector partner to the Chinese government’s program of oppression: it kept would-be activists busy, monitored, and under control."
During the Arab Spring, Tunisians and Egyptians and Yemenis and Bahrainis all poured into their public squares to demand the ouster of their tyrants. Now, inspired, Americans are pouring into their public squares to demand the end of a different kind of tyranny, the tyranny of Wall Street, of business as usual.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
He also points the finger at himself and everyone listening to say it’s “irresponsible for us not to consider” these issues. I completely agree with him. In fact, Daisey has become one of my favorite public figures, not just for his consciousness-raising work on Apple (I have yet to see, read or hear his latest work “the Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”), but because he is also so articulate, expressive, and expressive while also being very socially aware, and engaged enough to do something about his feelings.
Daisey rightly points out that “there are no nonprofits within the tech industry that are even concerned with these issues.” He adds, “There’s no one even petitioning these companies in the first world to have independent monitoring in the third world.”
Daisey states (incorrectly) that there is “nobody [monitoring] on the ground in China.” What I would say is that there are not as many people on the ground as there should be. There are a number of international voluntary standards and company codes of conduct that are dedicated to improving working conditions in China and around the world. His point, I think, is that Apple and other tech companies have chosen to spend more resources trying to prevent consumers and the public from seeing what is happening in factories than on improving conditions there. Such backward stances by these companies go against the historical currents of our times, which flow toward more transparency, not less, and hopefully, over time, lead to more sustainability outcomes that improve everyone’s circumstances. In an era of economic globalization, we need solutions like international voluntary sustainability standards adequately applied to life everyone’s boats.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Sunday, October 23rd at 7pm
In The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Mike Daisey explores the way that Apple technology -- and the vision of its leader, Steve Jobs -- have reshaped our lives. In the wake of Steve Jobs' death, the Public Forum will consider the tech legend's legacy: the way that our culture, the construction of our devices, and our relationships with one another have been affected.
Mike Daisey will be joined for this discussion by Robert Krulwich, the science correspondent of NPR and co-host of Radiolab; and Dan Lyons, the technology editor at Newsweek Daily Beast, who created "Fake Steve Jobs," the persona behind the notorious tech blog The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs. The conversation will be hosted by Jeremy McCarter, the director of The Public Forum.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Where does that put you as a consumer? Have you thought about trying to divorce yourself from the system or renounce some of these products, when it comes to buying things?
I've certainly thought about it a lot. I think that an important thing that I want to say is that we spend way too much time obsessing about the shit we buy. We really do. Like, part of being embedded in a consumerist culture and not understanding our actual power is making it so that the only decision that comes out of, like, how to address corporate malfeasance is, "What shit am I going to buy and how am I going to buy it?" Because the reality is what we do is far more important than what we buy.
I saw chaos, but also focus. There was a nerve center organizing general assemblies, coordinating with local civil rights groups, labor unions and liberal orgs. Yes, there were people high as a kite, there were love-ins, there was revelry. But many more people were talking about the issues of the day, telling bystanders why they were there and what they hoped to accomplish. This idea that the protesters do not have a coherent message is garbage. They are more clear-eyed and informed than most of the people who would be happy to dismiss them.
On one railing someone had taped an American flag, the fifty stars replaced by the logos of 50 American corporations. Apple was on the flag, alongside McDonald's and Coca-Cola. I wondered what Steve Jobs would have said about the protesters. Here was thinking differently. Here was the elevated i. All of the media center protesters were working on iMacs. But would Jobs have approved?
Sunday, October 09, 2011
This is the kind of poorly reasoned thinking coming from the tech industry...this one is from this blog. It's indicative of a larger failure in the minds of people--we have so failed to promote fair labor standards that the default assumption is that they will be brutal, but that it is simply unavoidable. Further there is an unsupported deep-seated belief that the only way to change labor standards would be to leave China, which is why we have to live with things exactly as they are today.
It's a sad and revealing bias.
The rest we can figure out; the protesters plan to be there through the winter, so we have plenty of time. Think of it as slow growth activism, one that poses a provocative counter-model to Wall Street’s regime of instant profits. After all, it was in the offices and exchanges surrounding Occupy Wall Street that the financiers sliced and diced assets with mind-numbing speed. Enabled by vast and unregulated databases of information, the genius of quants and fancy algorithms and the whirl of flash trades, they ruled the economy on the principles of simultaneity and speed.
That did not work out so well.
Saturday, October 08, 2011
Of course, there are no seats. Instead, spectators can perch on random, wooden-towered scaffoldings with platforms, unless they prefer to sit on the floor or lean against a wall. The cast is casually unclothed. The men are dressed, as it were, in black jockstraps. The women are braless beneath their shirts, and on some nights topless, if they are in a mood to improvise. The cast begins speaking in tongues, but English is the least of them. The program says that the play is "somewhat like Euripides' The Bacchae," but no one is likely to recognize it. Anyway, thought is the last thought in the mind of Director-Adapter Richard Schechner, who is also editor of the passionately avant-garde Drama Review. His production Dionysus in '69 belongs to the doin generation.
Since the god Dionysus is present, an orgy is mandatory. Sweaty, tangled heaps of men and women kiss and fondle each other from head to toe, all the while uttering erotic moans and groans. Though the audience holds no Equity cards, it is urged to join the act, in the name of "participatory, environmental theater." Sibilant seductive whispers invite the spectators to dance. Some playgoers are gin'gerly about it; others are the life of the orgy.
As an added startler, two or three members of the cast sidle up to a girl in the audience and begin speaking words of love in her ear. The girl may be induced to lie on the floor, where the actors rub against her and caress her. At such moments, playgoers may wonder whether Dionysus was the Greek god of wine or voyeurism.
The late ’60s and ’70s were a period of great artistic and personal ferment for Gray, as he struggled through a nervous breakdown and the dissolution of his relationship with LeCompte and toward the confessional monologue for which he would later become famous. Throughout his work with the Performance Group, Gray honed his sense of self as a performer. In one play, he portrayed a character named Spalding, based on how Schechner saw him — an observer commenting on the action. Later he and LeCompte began collaborating on theatrical pieces — he as actor, she as director — that explored Gray’s family history and the death of his mother. As he increasingly mined his own life for material, he simultaneously grew adept at keeping parts of himself private, shaving just the top layer of a secret and offering it up as a convincing whole. “The well-told partial truth to deflect the private raw truth,” Gray once observed about his monologues in his journal.
But the glowing elegies came courtesy of reporters who — after deadline and off the record — would tell stories about a company obsessed with secrecy to the point of paranoia. They remind us how Apple shut down a youthful fanboy blogger, punished a publisher that dared to print an unauthorized Jobs biography and repeatedly ran afoul of the most basic tenets of a free press.
I had been planning to defer commenting on the death of Steve Jobs long enough to give its impact time to cool a little, but Against Nostalgia puts the case I would have made so well and so publicly that it has changed my mind.
I met Steve Jobs once in 1999 when I was the president of the Open Source Initiative, and got caught up in one of his manipulations in a way that caused a brief controversy but (thankfully) did the organization no lasting harm. The author of this piece, Mike Daisey, does well at capturing Jobs’s ruthless brilliance. Jobs was uncannily perceptive about the interface design and marketing of technology, but he was also a control freak who posed as an iconoclast – and after about 1980 he projected his control freakery on everything he shaped. The former trait did a great deal of good; the latter did a degree of harm that, sadly, may prove greater in the end.
Friday, October 07, 2011
“Empty.” Monologist Mike Daisey (below, right) says that's how he felt when he learned that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs (below, left) died on Wednesday at age 56.
“I’ve been obsessed with Steve Jobs my whole life," he added. "Because of the nature of the devices that he made, I think there are an extraordinary number of people who share this same obsession.”
The performer said that despite Jobs' death, he expected the monologue to retain the same unflinching take on its topic, in a nod to a biographical subject who, by all accounts, wasn't much prone to nostalgia.
"I'm hoping to make a real effort to excavate Jobs' legacy in this really direct, unsparing, unsentimental way," Daisey said.
Daisey said he texted the Public’s artistic director, Oskar Eustis, a few minutes after learning of Jobs’s death. The two discussed how audience reactions will change in light of the news, he says, but he added that they never considered postponing performances, which are set to run through Nov. 13
In a statement released Thursday, Eustis extended his condolences to Jobs’s friends and family but also called this the right time to evaluate the consequences of the digital world that Jobs helped create.
“This is a perfect moment to contemplate that world, its values and practices, and decide what part of his legacy we should embrace and what parts we need to reject,” Mr. Eustis said in a statement.
Daisey has performed the unscripted show over the last 16 months. Last January, Jobs took an indefinite medical leave of absence around the same time “Agony” started previews at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, Calif. “In a sense you could say I’m being hard on him,” Daisey said of his depiction of Jobs. “He was always a very tough person, though, and he was not a big believer in nostalgia and pussyfooting around. I believe in using those same tools in this investigation.”
Apple products are generally more expensive in China than in the West, despite local disposable income being a fraction of that in the developed world. A thriving black market helps fuel the Apple mania. Beijing street stalls, for instance, already sell iPhone 5 cases—a bit premature since Apple's much anticipated product launch earlier this month turned out to be for an iPhone 4S, not an iPhone 5. Earlier this year, an entire fake Apple store was discovered in southwest China. Want a Steve Jobs action doll? It's available in Beijing.
I can't think of a Western company more revered in China than Apple is. Its products, which aren't modified for a Chinese audience but instead represent a universal design aesthetic, are the ultimate totem of the Chinese Dream. Much has been made of Jobs' ties to Buddhism, how Eastern spirituality shaped the pure, pared-down beauty of Apple products. (Many Chinese would be distressed, no doubt, to find out that Beijing's nemesis, the Dalai Lama, was once featured in an Apple ad.) But for many in China's tech-obsessed generation, Jobs represented, I think, the triumph of an American Dream nourished by creativity and individuality. For as much as China churns out more engineers and programmers than America does, it has yet to produce a Steve Jobs.
Thursday, October 06, 2011
Matt, Marc and I saw Mike Daisey's Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs a few months back. We somehow got tickets in the front row. (Matt got the above photo before the show.) From that vantage point, we had an amazingly absorbing experience. Nothing but the lip of the Woolly Mammoth stage and this table stood between us and Daisey, maybe the best monologist in the country. As he described a near-obsessive love and growing fear of Apple, he was Ned Beatty in Network. He set you to explore whatever you knew of Apple — even if you knew a lot.
The monologue was half a tribute to Jobs: his ideas, his creativity, his thinking differently. The other half of the night was a challenge to Jobs: his cutthroat business tactics, his secrecy, his questionable and critical Chinese supply chain. Daisey was a proud fanboy. To wind down after a show, he explained, he would disassemble and then reassemble his Macbook. But he had concerns, ones that sent him to Foxconn's gates to interview factory workers. The split nature of the show allowed him to define how mass innovation happens. Jobs fit into the line of world-beating tycoons, ones like Rockefeller and Carnegie, ones who would not believe there was a line, or if forced to admit as much, would tear apart the line at whatever great cost, rethink it, rebuild it, and sell it.
TONY JONES: So tell me this, from your perspective, how does Apple under Steve Jobs turn into what you call now the most locked down computer company in the world?
MIKE DAISEY: It is hard. It is a story that affects a lot of us, I think. You know we get older and we are often trapped by the circumstances, the strengths that we create ourselves. The story of our lives are often are defined that way. We start out as rebels and pirates and then we go out to change the world and when we're not looking we succeed and we change the world but the world changes us too.
And I think Apple today is locked down in a way that almost no computing platform has been; the iPhone, iPad. People can't touch the software in there; it is controlled by Apple very directly. And part of that is out of the desire, Steve Jobs' desire to control everything.
But after a certain point that level of control starts to take away choice from the user and it is a hard thing this continuum because you start you start out with the best of intentions but if you're not careful, you can go from a place where you're creating something and shaping something to taking away options from users and making computing fundamentally less free.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Fucking Mike Daisey. Fuck.
Before I go further I should make it plain: this is not a review.
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Saturday, October 01, 2011
Personally, I think there’s substantial value even in those protests that lack “exit goals” and “messaging strategies” and the rest of the platitudes from Power Point presentations by mid-level functionaries at corporate conferences. Some injustices simply need anger and dissent expressed for its own sake, to make clear that there are citizens who are aware of it and do not accept it.
In Vancouver yesterday, Dick Cheney was met by angry protests chanting “war criminal” at him while he tried to hawk his book, which prompted arrests and an ugly-for-Canada police battle that then became part of the story of his visit. Is that likely to result in Cheney’s arrest or sway huge numbers of people to change how they think? No. But it’s vastly preferable to allowing him to traipse around the world as though he’s a respectable figure unaccompanied by anger over his crimes — anger necessarily expressed outside of the institutions that have failed to check or punish (but rather have shielded and legitimized) those crimes. And the same is true of Wall Street’s rampant criminality.
I love being condemned midstream as this person lusts endlessly over new Apple devices. That's irony, kids.