Monday, June 30, 2008

Ruslana Korshunova, No Longer Anonymous:

Over the weekend a successful young fashion model touched off a minor media circus by killing herself. Almost immediately, details of the beautiful life cut tragically short swooped in to fill blanks; the apocryphal tale of her "discovery" by benevolent industry scouts; her melancholy poems; how she'd been watching "Ghost" the night before. It was mostly bullshit. But there is something about great beauty that inoculates us to the more mundane realities of life, which was that Ruslana Korshunova was an immigrant from a desperately poor country who came to New York at a scarily young age to make money to send back to her parents. In that way she was no different from the tens of thousands of kids from former socialist states whose parents send them thousands of miles to work in restaurants and gas stations. It's generally more legal, and the living conditions a little nicer, but as our anonymous model columnist Tatiana has discussed before in this space, the people governing a model's fate are no less predatory and self-interested, and the experience is only slightly less anonymous.
N7072487626740886231If5 How I stopped worrying and learned to love the Fringe:

Though the Toronto Fringe's 148 shows are selected by random lottery, the majority of the theatre, comedy and dance festival's programming has become quite predictable.

You can always count on at least one Something Unlikely: The Musical! (this year's edition includes Fart Factory, Hockey and Floozy: The Musicals!), a feminist twist on Shakespeare (this year: 'Beth), a couple of plays about the jobs actors work in between gigs (The Reservation, set in a restaurant, and Silver and Stinky, about bike couriers), as well as more autobiographical solo shows than you can shake a microphone stand at.

As an example of how much of an artistic echo chamber the Fringe has become, note that the 2008 edition has not one, not two, but three shows with titles that riff on Dr. Strangelove: How I Stopped Worrying and Learnt to Love The Mall, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Abortion and, last but not deceased, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Zombie Master. (The zombie play is another Fringe mainstay.)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Letter to the Editor of American Theatre Magazine | New York Acting & Theater Blog:

I believe the title of Teresa Eyring’s article “How Theatre Saved America, Part I” is misleading. “How Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble saved Bloomsburg, PA,” would have been entirely more appropriate. I applaud Eyring for highlighting BTE, but this topic is too massive to be covered in a two-part, two page article. To highlight only one of seven listed theatre ensembles and then tell readers that the American theater is “saving America” is incredibly insufficient. If American Theatre magazine and TCG are truly concerned about this problem they should devote an entire issue to it. Interview both sides talking with everyone involved including board members, artistic directors, actors, playwrights, etc. A good place to start is the blogging community as there are many artists, practitioners and educators sharing their struggles and points of view. Also highlight more theaters outside the major metropolitan hubs showing how they are accomplishing ensemble work and providing a living wage for the artists. As well, if permission is granted, the issue should also include Mike Daisey
's monologue How Theatre Failed America, which would serve as an additional source for this contentious issue.

AT&T Whistleblower: Spy Bill Creates 'Infrastructure for a Police State' | Threat Level from

Today’s vote by Congress effectively gives retroactive immunity to the telecom companies and  endorses an all-powerful president. It’s a Congressional coup against the Constitution.

The Democratic leadership is touting the deal as a "compromise," but in fact they have endorsed the infamous Nuremberg defense: "Just following orders." The judge can only check their paperwork. This cynical deal is a Democratic exercise in deceit and cowardice.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Five Myths About the New Wiretapping Law:

Sometime today, the Senate is likely to approve the most comprehensive overhaul of American surveillance law since the Watergate era. Unless you're a government lawyer, a legal scholar, a masochist, or an insomniac, chances are you haven't read the 114-page bill. Don't beat yourself up: Neither have most of the 293 House members who voted for it last week. Ditto the mainstream press, who seem to have relied chiefly on summaries provided by the same lawmakers who hadn't read it.

To be fair, wiretapping is so classified, and the language of the bill so opaque, that no one without a "top secret" clearance can say with any authority just how much surveillance the proposal will authorize the government to do. (The best assessment yet comes from former Justice Department official David Kris, who deems the legislation "so intricate" that it risks confusing even "the government officials who must apply it.")

Out of the echo chamber of ignorance and self-serving political cant, a number of myths have begun to emerge. We may never know for sure everything that this new legislation entails. But here are a few things that it most certainly doesn't.

rejoice, for Hot Bee-Ass Wednesday is here again!
One more short interview—this one is from Performance New Mexico with Spencer Beckwith. You can listen to it here.

Preview article on IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING from the New Mexican:

Iyss Newmexican
Read the whole thing here.
that doesn't look good...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mike Daisey’s Final Roundtable: Ideology vs. Experience | New York Acting & Theater Blog:

Out of all the highly experienced panel members I was drawn most to the ideas of Oskar Eustis, the Artistic Director of the Public Theater. One idea mentioned was the fact that the American theater should go the way of the American public libraries. Free for all. As talked about all over the theater scene the budget to run the American theaters is a drop in the hat of the national budget. I appreciated that he made sure to say that this was not going to get any artists rich, but that it would be a healthy alternative to the capitalistic view that is running the current non-profit theater system.

Naturally he used the example of the Delacorte theater in Central Park. The current play Hamlet recieved bad reviews from the New York Times, but is still “selling out” shows because of the very fact the tickets are free and the production value is of quality. He presented to the Public’s board the idea of having free tickets for the shows in the downtown space. The board could not imagine such a thing. Which brought Eustis to the crux of his point. That ideology will always trump experience. Experience says that when tickets are free people will come to the Public’s productions, but the ideology says that theater can not be run on this model as it has to make money and there are no other options but to sell tickets. Eustis said the national ideology surrounding how theater is run in America must change. He has hope because the current administration in the big institutional theaters will soon be gone and the next generation can “take them over” and issue reform.
Enough is enough
Here's our first interview for IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING: it's with the Santa Fe Radio Cafe, recorded at a great bakery in Santa Fe, at a table as people ate and worked around us--very neat idea for a show. The host Mary-Charlotte was really sharp--we covered a lot of ground about the new piece.

Listen to the interview here.
The Playgoer: My Night With Daisey:

It's a deft balance he achieves in the monologue, since the connection between the two strands remains unspoken. It's up to the audience to contrast in their own minds the thrill of creating theatre "by any means necessary" and the deadness we encounter so much in our larger nonprofits. The solution of course is NOT necessarily to return to Daisey's 5-person college rep-company adventure "Theatre on the Pond". But to find some medium in between, one could say. Allow for a company to have the energy and purpose of Theatre on the Pond with just a little more budget, and audience. But one without the other just won't do it anymore.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Technology Liberation Front » Archive » FISA Capitulation: Bad Policy, Bad Politics:

Barack Obama is supporting the FISA bill. That pretty much seals it: Russ Feingold and Chris Dodd may filibuster, but we already know that there are enough Democrats willing to break ranks to reach cloture, and with the party’s figurehead on board, none of them are likely to switch sides. Obama says he’s going to try to strip out the immunity provision, but this is obviously so much political theater. If he were serious about doing that he’d be saying he planned to oppose the “compromise” until the immunity provision got stripped out. The fact that he’s committing himself to support the overall bill whether or not it comes with immunity is proof that he doesn’t really care about getting rid of immunity. And why would he? A few angry liberals may decide not to give to his campaign, but he’s already got a lopsided fundraising advantage over John McCain, and in the long run he probably wants to stay on the good side of a powerful lobby that could prove useful to him once he’s in the Oval Office. Same goes for Steny Hoyer: Obama will need his support when it comes time to nationalize the health care system, so why risk alienating Hoyer just to make Glenn Greenwald happy?

We are, in other words, right back to the narrative where being “strong” on national security means trashing the constitution. Within that frame, Democrats are always going to lose because they’re never going to be as enthusiastic about Constitution-trashing as the Republicans (well, I hope so anyway. Bill Clinton did his best). So by conceding the premise and saying, in effect, “we can trash the constitution too!” the Democrats were setting themselves up for future political problems. Because if the Democrats are carbon copies of the Republicans on national security issues, why not go for the real thing?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Obama's support for the FISA "compromise" - Glenn Greenwald -

In the past 24 hours, specifically beginning with the moment Barack Obama announced that he now supports the Cheney/Rockefeller/Hoyer House bill, there have magically arisen -- in places where one would never have expected to find them -- all sorts of claims about why this FISA "compromise" isn't really so bad after all. People who spent the week railing against Steny Hoyer as an evil, craven enabler of the Bush administration -- or who spent the last several months identically railing against Jay Rockefeller -- suddenly changed their minds completely when Barack Obama announced that he would do the same thing as they did. What had been a vicious assault on our Constitution, and corrupt complicity to conceal Bush lawbreaking, magically and instantaneously transformed into a perfectly understandable position, even a shrewd and commendable decision, that we should not only accept, but be grateful for as undertaken by Obama for our Own Good.

Accompanying those claims are a whole array of factually false statements about the bill, deployed in service of defending Obama's indefensible -- and deeply unprincipled -- support for this "compromise."
Point du jour | night break
This Artist's Life: Making it work in NYC: How Did Theatre Fail America?:

Saw Mike Daisey's "How Theater Failed America" last night at the Barrow Street Theatre. Brilliant. If I had seen it before its closing night, I would have probably been back several times. There was an excellent roundtable to follow the performance, which included Oskar Eustis (Artistic Director of the Public Theater), Richard Nelson, Jayne Houdyshell, Gregory Mosher, Aaron Landesman, John Eisner and Garrett Eisler. I definitely look forward to applying some of the issues and suggestions to reclaim the theatre, to COTE. Mike Daisey will be back in New York in the fall with a new monologue called "If You See Something, Say Something".
track of faith
Theatre de la Jeune Lune:

In 1978 Barbra Berlovitz, Vincent Gracieux, and Dominique Serrand began an adventure called Theatre de la Jeune Lune. They were soon joined by Robert Rosen and eventually Steve Epp and innumerable other collaborators. Over the past 30 years we have created nearly 100 productions, performed for hundreds of thousands of people in cities across the United States and in France, but primarily and most importantly in Minneapolis. For the first 14 years we were itinerant, making the most of any venue we found ourselves in. Then in 1992, with an amazing groundswell of support, we purchased and renovated the Allied Van Lines building in the Minneapolis warehouse district. We excavated the interior of this historic building to create a stunningly innovative and award winning performance space, opening our new artistic home to the public on November 18th of that year.

Sixteen years later we are faced with an excruciating decision. With the organization burdened by mounting and unmanageable debt, the Board of Directors has voted to put Jeune Lune's home up for sale. After much soul searching and extensive fundraising and debt management efforts, we have determined it to be the only prudent and fiscally responsible choice. What has been acclaimed, as one of the most striking and unique theatre spaces in the country will go dark. It is a huge loss, a loss for us, for all of the artists who work with us, for our audience and for the community at large, both locally and nationally.

And with the building, we have decided that the time has come to bid adieu to the theatre ensemble we have all known as Jeune Lune.
George Carlin, Splenetic Comedian, Dies at 71:

George Carlin, the Grammy-Award winning standup comedian and actor who was hailed for his irreverent social commentary, poignant observations of the absurdities of everyday life and language, and groundbreaking routines like “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” died in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sunday. He was 71.


Although some criticized parts of his later work as too contentious, Mr. Carlin defended the material, insisting that his comedy had always been driven by an intolerance for the shortcomings of humanity and society. “Scratch any cynic,” he said, “and you’ll find a disappointed idealist.”

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Tonight is the last performance of HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA at the Barrow Street.

It's been six months since we launched the show at Under The Radar in January, which seems like a lifetime ago--it's grown and refined so much, and I'm indebted by all the people who have done so much to make that possible. It's really a list that could go on and on: Mark Russell, Shanta Thanke, Oskar Eustis, AJ Epstein, Scott Morfee, Nicole Borelli Hearn, Jenny Werner, Theresa Eyring, Cris Buchner and many, many more.

We're putting this one to bed tonight--there are no dates booked for it in the future, though there is talk, and hopefully it will be back one day...but it is moving to think that this could be the last time I perform it.

My old professor Dick Sewell used to say, "Let's put this pig in the meat grinder!" before shows sometimes, and he'd laugh maniacally. No one ever understood it, but it was totally infectious--and the older I get, and the more shows I have under my belt, the more and more it makes sense to me.

Now I will go and put this pig in the meat grinder!

The Woman Who Fell in Love with the Berlin Wall:

Like millions of sweethearts across the globe, Wall Winther has found true love. Her husband, in his prime, was a stalwart of immense stature, a domineering presence who was feared throughout his homeland and infamous the world over. Events haven’t been too kind to his physical state, but the couple’s love remains strong. You might think Wall Winther is lucky to be attached to such a celebrity, but it’s unlikely the couple will be gracing the cover of Hello! any time soon. That’s because Wall Winther’s other half is the Berlin Wall.

Wall Winther (whose original name was Eija-Riita Eklaf) is an Objectum-Sexual, or OS for short. Most OSes harbour their passions in private, terrified of rejection by society. But they can still form meaningful relationships, even if their partners might be considered unconventional. “It’s an orientation, like hetero or homosexuality,” explains Kiowa, a US-based OS who moderates an internet forum for like-minded souls. “We’re emotionally and physically attracted to objects. Replacing the term ‘hetero’ with ‘object’ would accurately describe OS.”

Wall Winther agrees. “We see things as living beings,” she says. “That’s a must. Otherwise you can’t fall in love with an object.” Wall Winther is attracted mostly to constructions with plenty of parallel lines – buildings, fences, bridges, gates and, in one case, a guillotine. But other OS fetishists might be turned on by the intricate workings of a turbine or television set, the delicate curves of a shiny sports car, the rigid harshness of a railtrack, or the bell end of a trumpet.
Who says you need a CD Recorder to burn CDs?
I'm delighted to announce our first national tour--we'll be performing IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING, a monologue about the secret history of the Department of Homeland Security, what it means to be secure, and the price we are willing to pay for it.

Lensic Performing Arts Center
June 26th to 28th

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
July 11th to 20th

Time-Based Art Festival
September 11th to 14th

Colby College
October 3rd

Museum of Contemporary Art
October 10th to 12th

The Public Theater
October 15th to November 30th

We're ecstatic to birth the monologue next week in Santa Fe, where it will be seen by many who know intimately the work of the Los Alamos weapons labs, and then travel to DC so that those who run the Department of Homeland Security can have it in their backyard. After stops in the Northwest, my alma mater, and Chicago, we'll end the tour with a full production at the Public Theater.

Details and ticketing links can be found at, and a longer description of the show follows at the end of this email.

This is also the final weekend to see
HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA at the Barrow Street Theater. We're booked up for the foreseeable future, so see it now or see it never.

Be seeing you,





A New Monologue
Created and Performed by Mike Daisey
Directed by Jean-Michele Gregory

About the Show:

Called “the master storyteller” by the New York Times for his groundbreaking monologues, Mike Daisey tackles a story at the heart of our world today: the surprising, secret history of the Department of Homeland Security. This is woven together with the untold story of the father of the neutron bomb—called “the perfect capitalist weapon” for the way it kills civilians while leaving cities and industries intact—and a pilgrimage to the Trinity blast site, where atomic fire rewrote history a half a century ago and ushered in an age of American supremacy. Combining damning fact and searing personal history, Daisey takes us on a journey through the dark heart of America, in search of answers for what it means to be secure, and the price we are willing to pay for it.

Praise for Mike Daisey:

"What distinguishes him from most solo performers is how elegantly he blends personal stories, historical digressions and philosophical ruminations. He has the curiosity of a highly literate dilettante and a preoccupation with alternative histories, secrets large and small, and the fuzzy line where truth and fiction blur. Mr. Daisey’s greatest subject is himself."
New York Times

"Sharp-witted, passionately delivered talk about matters both small and huge, at once utterly individual and achingly universal."
Boston Globe

"Daisey’s skill is that he is able to talk about the historical and make it human, the personal and make it universal, so that the listener is both informed and transformed."
Paper Magazine

"The insightful hostility of the best comedy."
The New Yorker
melting in the slow heat of a summer night, damp with the dark air & thoughts of you

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The EsoCritic: Theater Review: How Theater Failed America:

Having worked in theater in a variety of performance, writing, and yes, administrative jobs, I was surprised to learn how common my experience must be, judging from Daisey’s own trajectory. Less surprising is how universal the desire for a Reformation Movement in the American theater is… or at least a very public gossip session. It’s too early yet to say whether Daisey will be the industry’s Martin Luther, but it is impossible to confuse him with Thomas More, and he’s certainly no gossipy hen.

The fact is How Theater Failed America is more sophisticated than any manifesto, far funnier and more entertaining than an excommunication, and unlike the average Union Square zealot or university stowaway, Mike Daisey knows what of he speaks. Many times his performance made me think that if South Park’s Eric Cartman grew to adulthood and used his powers for good instead of evil, this is what it might look like.
Things are weird without you
Obama Supports Telecom Amnesty Bill | Threat Level from

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama supports the spy bill compromise passed by the House Friday, despite having opposed retroactive amnesty to telecoms that helped with the President's secret, warrantless wiretapping.

The measure expands the government's ability to install blanket wiretaps inside domestic communication infrastructure and frees the nation's phone and internet companies from lawsuits accusing them of massive violations of their customers' privacy. The Senate is expected to take up and pass the Bush-approved bill next week.

The bill is widely perceived as a victory for the White House, and was agreed to by Democrats out of a fear of being labeled soft on terrorism in the upcoming elections.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Parabasis: YouTube is Changing Everything (For the Better!):

When blogging became a widespread phenomenon there was the hope, the promise, that people's standards for paid writing would perhaps get higher.  After all, if there's a hundred really great film reviewers (or political commentators) regularly churning out high quality material for peanuts, why should we listen to Richard Roeper? In reaction to this, the mainstream media regularly unleashed a series of stories about blogger ethics, blogger meanness and other blogger badness to try to delegitimize it's closest competitor.  I remember thinking that the theotrosphere had arrived when the Times did a piece on how corrupt bloggers (whom I'd never heard of) were given special treatment to review plays, including celebrity access etc.  These stories became common for awhile (mostly in political realms) but now that the blogosphere is an accepted reality everywhere except spellcheck, the Times itself now hosts a large numbers of great blogs and has gotten rid of TimesSelect, which limited people's access to their online content.

And now, perhaps, the same thing is happening with YouTube.  YouTube is changing the way we think about film.  If a movie is meant to be just entertaining well... then it has to be more entertaining than 90 minutes of entertaining YouTube clips, or else it's not worth your money.  The more free stuff is out there, the more value must be added for each dollar you spend on something. Our standards as a culture may actually be changing for the better.
fuji milf?
House passes wiretap telcom immunity bill - Boing Boing:

House Democrats covered themselves in shame today, joining with Republicans to pass a bill granting amnesty to the cowardly telephone companies who helped the President's office with its illegal bulk-wiretapping campaign that spied on every American call and email without any judicial oversight. What's more, the bill also allows this to continue going on in the future. Who needs the fourth amendment?
George Bush's latest powers, courtesy of the Democratic Congress - Glenn Greenwald -

Perhaps the most repellent part of this bill (though that's obviously a close competition) is 802(c) of the telecom amnesty section. That says that the Attorney General can declare that the documents he submits to the court in order to get these lawsuits dismissed are secret, and once he declares that, then: (a) the plaintiffs and their lawyers won't ever see the documents and (b) the court is barred from referencing them in any way when it dismisses the lawsuit. All the court can do is issue an order saying that the lawsuits are dismissed, but it is barred from saying why they're being dismissed or what the basis is for the dismissal.

So basically, one day in the near future, we're all going to learn that one of our federal courts dismissed all of the lawsuits against the telecoms. But we're never going to be able to know why the lawsuits were dismissed or what documents were given by the Government to force the court to dismiss the lawsuits. Not only won't we, the public, know that, neither will the plaintiffs' lawyers. Nobody will know except the Judge and the Government because it will all be shrouded in compelled secrecy, and the Judge will be barred by this law from describing or even referencing the grounds for dismissal in any way. Freedom is on the march.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Prelude to a gangbang / Violet Blue asks Chuck Palahniuk about his new porn novel, 'Snuff':

We're standing in a Mission bar, and Tristan Taormino has just finished poking my cleavage with her index finger and giggling, when she says, "So. The story goes like this. One night, Hunter S. Thompson calls up Susie Bright. It's late, and he says, 'It's Hunter. Tell me everything you know about statistics on bestiality. Details.'

"Except Hunter had the wrong number. He hadn't called Susie, but some other woman whose number was a digit off. But the minute the woman realized who was on the phone, she hopped on her computer and started researching for him. The next day she got a hold of Susie and said, 'You wouldn't believe this, but ...'"
Out of reach
Theater Talk's New Theater Corps: How Theater Failed America:

Mike Daisey quickly gets to the point in How Theater Failed America, because his monologue has more important goals than the schaudenfraud desire to see Charles Isherwood, Disney, and the lot get theirs. His goal isn’t some global-warming summit filled with hot air and no answers (though he does get aboil): it’s How Theater Failed Mike Daisey. His vibrant drop-of-a-dime storytelling—always sincere—lands between the steadfast directness of Spalding Grey and the manic energy of Chris Farley.
a boy and his bunny
Congress set to vote on telecom spying immunity TOMORROW -- write to your rep NOW!  - Boing Boing

After weeks of empty rhetoric about coming to a "compromise" on new spying laws, the House of Representatives is set to vote on telecom immunity tomorrow. The bill is HR 6304 and contains the exact same blanket immunity provisions, only with a few cosmetic changes so that political spin doctors can claim that it actually provides meaningful court review.

Whether or not Congress decides to offer immunity for telecoms that cooperated in warrantless spying programs is a key part of the broader battle over the Bush Administration's legal doctrine of unchecked executive power.

If you live in the US, please visit, find your Representative's phone number in Washington D.C., and tell them to oppose immunity for lawbreaking telecoms!
DramaBiz magazine -Web Exclusive:

There may be no better way to infuriate those in the theatrical community than by creating a show called “How Theater Failed America.” In the one-man show, which recently moved from Joe’s Pub to off-Broadway’s Barrow Street Theatre, veteran monologist Mike Daisey makes the case that the regional theatre movement has lost its way by abandoning locally-based, community-nurturing theatre to focus instead on wasteful building projects.

Unsurprisingly, the response from many in the theatre has been dismissive. In The New York Times, The Huntington Theatre Company’s Nicholas Martin called some of Daisey’s proposed solutions, including creating endowments for local actors that would cover salary and health insurance, “facile and often naive,” and Kurt Beattie, artistic director of Seattle’s A Contemporary Theatre, referred to the show as “shallow” and “inapplicable to my theatre community.”

DramaBiz New York correspondent Larry Getlen met with Daisey in their downtown Brooklyn neighborhood to further explore Daisey’s take on the state of theatre today. (Note: Daisey will also be holding panel discussions about these issues after his Barrow Street shows with participants including Eric Bogosian and Robert Brustein.) This article is Part I of an edited excerpt of that conversation.