Thursday, December 31, 2009

“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.”

—Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect. (1864-1912)
Is aviation security mostly for show? -

Despite fearful rhetoric to the contrary, terrorism is not a transcendent threat. A terrorist attack cannot possibly destroy a country's way of life; it's only our reaction to that attack that can do that kind of damage. The more we undermine our own laws, the more we convert our buildings into fortresses, the more we reduce the freedoms and liberties at the foundation of our societies, the more we're doing the terrorists' job for them.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

David Byrne's Journal: 12.12.09: Art Funding or Arts Funding:

Hoving and a couple of others, following this line of thinking, created the blockbuster museum show — which famously brought Tut to the masses, and made the Met and other like-minded museums into temples for all, instead of the dusty halls for academics they had become. Hard to remember, but the Met was once a fussy old place, and now it’s super popular — which is not in itself a bad thing. Although the idea was loudly espoused that art was for all, and all could benefit from exposure to it (something like a flu shot), this idea was not exactly democratic, not as I would define it — though it was certainly portrayed as democratizing art and culture. What the movement was actually doing was letting more people know that culture was, and is, HERE, and you slobs, you hoi polloi, are over HERE. We want you all to look at it, and listen to it, but don’t even think you could ever make it, or that your feeble efforts are anywhere close to these Himalayan peaks we have on display.
beam me up
Wearing An LA Dodgers Hat In Brooklyn Still Means Trouble - Gothamist:

A baseball fan threatened to kill a stranger who was wearing a Los Angeles Dodger's hat in a Brooklyn diner yesterday. According to the Post, 38-year-old suspect Marcos Esteban — who was born 14 years after the Dodger's abandoned Brooklyn — menaced the Los Angeles fan with a boxcutter for wearing the wrong ballcap to the eatery, which is near the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Skillman Street.
Here's my appearance on Studio 360's time travel show, which airs this week:

It was taped in front of a live studio audience, which is very unusual for radio these days—WNYC's Greene Space is creating a new renaissance in this kind of broadcasting. It was a hoot to pull off.
The Beck Supremacy | The New Republic:

It’s no surprise, then, that thriller writers often appear on conservative shows as political experts. Take Flynn, for instance. Prior to becoming a thriller writer, he worked in sales for Kraft Foods, but, these days, he routinely goes on Beck’s show and other Fox News programs as a national security analyst. “We have allowed the far left in this country to define torture down, to encompass everything,” he told Bill O’Reilly last December.
President Obama, It's Time To Fire the TSA - Travel - Gizmodo:

Today, DHS's Napolitano's response to the crotchbomber: "We're looking to make sure that this sort of incident cannot recur." But the TSA's response to Abdulmutalib's attempt makes one thing clear: We must stop pretending the TSA is making us safer.

Security expert Bruce Schneier nails the core incompetency: "For years I've been saying 'Only two things have made flying safer [since 9/11]: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers.'"

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Everyone's Defaulting, Why Don't You?:

Strategic defaults—the phenomenon of people who could continue to make payments on the mortgages on their homes deciding to walk away from their obligations—are rising. According to the Wall Street Journal, strategic defaults are likely to exceed 1 million in 2009. This is making some worry about the very future of capitalism. Georgetown University business ethics professor George Brenkert told the Journal that borrowers who can afford to stay current are morally required to do so, and that were Americans to conclude they could just walk away from obligations, it would be disastrous. Mortgage Bankers Association CEO John Courson wondered about "the message they will send to their family and their kids and their friends?"

Should you walk away from your house? Um, do any of these people read the Wall Street Journal? Strategic defaults are the American way, and I'm not talking about strapped middle-class borrowers who prefer spending money on vacations to staying current on their payments. Deep-pocketed companies, billionaires, and institutions that can afford to stay current on payments strategically default all the time.

Morgan Stanley, for example, is a gigantic corporation. As of the second quarter, it boasted total capital of $213.2 billion. It certainly has the ability to make good on obligations incurred by its many operating units. But earlier this month Morgan Stanley said it would turn over five San Francisco office buildings to lenders rather than pay the debt on them. Why? Morgan Stanley foolishly paid top dollar for the buildings in 2007, when prices were really high. The values have plummeted, and tenants are hard to come by. "This isn't a default or foreclosure situation," spokeswoman Alyson Barnes told Bloomberg News. "We are going to give them the properties to get out of the loan obligation." Smells like a strategic default to me.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Schneier on Security: Separating Explosives from the Detonator:

And what sort of magical thinking is behind the rumored TSA rule about keeping passengers seated during the last hour of flight? Do we really think the terrorist won't think of blowing up their improvised explosive devices during the first hour of flight?

For years I've been saying this:

Only two things have made flying safer [since 9/11]: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers.

This week, the second one worked over Detroit. Security succeeded.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Stage and Cinema-The Last Cargo Cult - Mike Daisey - Off Broadway Theater Review:

Daisey's sit-down comedy is as sharp and as original as it comes, but his lack of mobility mutes the theatricality. There's so much performance and physicality from the waist up that you long to see him engaged in full-blown physical comedy. Clocking in at 90 minutes, this political show—penis sheaths notwithstanding—runs too long for its singular concept. Nonetheless, with keen observation, statistics and storytelling, Daisey captures your interest and maintains it.

On the other hand, I'd submit that the intentional, calculated minimalism of performing at the table is why even reviewers who believe they'd be better served with blocking often don't realize that the show is actually two hours long.
355/365 December 21, 2009
The Campaign Against the Phrase 'Pro Life' - Healthcare - Gawker:

People will be bandying the phrase 'pro-life' around to refer to anti-abortionists. They should stop.

It is a ridiculous piece of propaganda — who the hell is anti-life? — and has permeated even the most rigorous publications. A search on the New York Times website, for example, reveals that they have used it dozens of times (and not always in quotes from others) over the last month or so.

If self-proclaimed 'pro-lifers' were actually 'pro-life', rather than just anti-abortion, they would presumably also be against the death penalty and for increased regulation of guns. But that's often not the case. There is apparently no moral difficulty for many in holding lethal injection as sacrosanct as the embryo.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Parabasis: The Myth Is Bigger Than That:

But there's a bigger lie/myth in 99's quote-- that literary managers pick seasons. They don't. They frequently act as gatekeepers that work has to progress beyond before it gets to the artistic director, but a lot of the decision making power generally rests in the AD. Portland Center Stage proved this last year... when the economic downturn hit, they eliminated their literary department.
Tesla coil
Best comedy of 2009 - Time Out New York:

Most thoughtful show: Mike Daisey’s latest monologue, The Last Cargo Cult, stimulates brains on multiple levels.
The Best Theater of 2009 -- New York Magazine:

At the Public with his latest monologue, Mike Daisey (21 Dog Years) cannonballs into the Great Recession, deploying the populist sensibilities of Michael Moore and Lewis Black, the vocal stylings of Chris Farley, and the macroeconomic obsessions of Paul Krugman. We got our money's worth — then left wondering what that means, exactly.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Facebook's Great Betrayal - Facebook - Gawker:

But it's not just that Facebook is tricking its users; it's betraying them. It did so when it literally communalized private friend lists that people spent years accumulating, without which their accounts would be useless. It did so when it mislead them by saying it wanted to enhance their privacy, when the real goal was growth and profit. And it continues to do so every day it does not respond to the loud fedback of its users (and the implicit feedback of its own CEO).
voltage cascade x3
grain edit · ISO50 Interview:

Balance isn’t a word I’d ever use to describe any aspect of my life. When it comes to work, everything is in extremes for me, it’s all or nothing most of the time.
Steppenwolf Avoids Stars, Making Its Own Instead -

When New York producers expressed interest, the two lead actors, Randy Steinmeyer and Peter DeFaria, who are standouts in Chicago, were dumped in favor of Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The critics were lukewarm on the Hollywood pairing, but audiences ignored the tepid reviews, pushing ticket sales for the play’s 12-week run into record-breaking territory.

Mr. DeFaria said he and Mr. Steinmeyer were aware that the producers wanted to get huge movie stars into the roles: “They were very upfront about it. I guess I just didn’t think it was a real possibility.”

Neither actor saw the play in New York. They might have, they said, if someone had invited them or sent them tickets. Instead, “They offered us house seats,” Mr. Steinmeyer said. “For $120 apiece.”

Alien pod?
Hundreds of billions in crime money knowingly laundered by banks during credit crunch:

The Observer reports that an estimated $352bn of drug and mafia money was laundered by the major banks at the peak of the credit crunch, while regulators turned a blind eye, since the highly liquid criminal underworld was the only source of the cash necessary to keep the banks' doors open. As Charlie Stross notes, "A third of a trillion dollars is a lot of money; it's enough to fund the US military invading another country halfway around the world, or a manned Mars exploration program." Charlie goes on to mention that now that these narcobucks "aren't neatly bundled up inside the mattress any more; they're in the system," that there's $0.3 trillion sitting there, nice and legal, entering the investment world.
Mike Daisey Pays It Forward With 'Last Cargo Cult':

In Last Cargo Cult, performer Mike Daisey hands out the pay he receives for the performance to the audience before the show begins. Then expects them to return it at the end. At a recent performance at The Public Theater John Hodgman acknowledged the risk Daisey was taking, Hodgman responded: "“I think he’s going to make a lot of money with this scheme.”

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Scott Adams Blog:

Technically, you're already a cyborg. If you keep your cell phone with you most of the time, especially if the earpiece is in place, I think we can call that arrangement an exobrain. Don't protest that your cellphone isn't part of your body just because you can leave it in your other pants. If a cyborg can remove its digital eye and leave it on a shelf as a surveillance device, and I think we all agree that it can, then your cellphone qualifies as part of your body. In fact, one of the benefits of being a cyborg is that you can remove and upgrade parts easily. So don't give me that "It's not attached to me" argument. You're already a cyborg. Deal with it.
A wooden table:

The last show for the calendar year at the Public Theatre is Mike Daisey’s “The Last Cargo Cult”. We needed to construct a new table to match the design of the world. The design called for a solid, fairly sturdy-looking wooden table, which showed some character and a lot of age.
Impossible Balcony
Next for Mike Daisey: Insanity and Exhaustion - Playblog:

The explosively funny monologist Mike Daisey was working The Public Theater last fall, performing his Homeland Security send-up, If You See Something, Say Something, when the economy took that long, agonizing nosedive into the toilet, setting him off on another raging routine. The result is The Last Cargo Cult, and he is premiering it appropriately (through Dec. 13), at The Public.

“All together, counting previews, that’s about two weeks,” Daisey said of the Public gig. “There was the desire to create something that was An Event — that was event-driven so that it happened and then it’s gone. With our schedule and The Public’s schedule — this was the marriage that makes the most sense. I think everybody wants it to run longer, but then again — Barnum always said you should leave while people want more.”

It is gone, then? No. Specifically, it’s “heading for the Wooly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, the Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago and it’s going to tour Ireland and throughout the U.K. I’m of Irish descent, but I’ve never been there.”

December 2009
And A Round Of Applause For Yourself For Coming Out And Supporting Live Theater:

Before that, I saw Mike Daisey's The Last Cargo Cult: fantastic as always, as good as the best Daisey. It's playing through the 13th and you should catch it if you can. I often have a hard time visualizing scenes, but Daisey made me feel like I was in a Maine college dorm, or on a bare-metal plane, or watching the John Frum Day celebrations, or in a car driving to the Hamptons. Some of his phrasings and lines stay with me, like splinters; some of the story has sailed through my conscious recollection and I'm not sure yet which appendage is bleeding.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

lincoln center
Mike Daisey: The bard of personal finance - at the Public Theater:

The glass bowl filled to the rim with dollar bills didn't look like any old tip jar. Resting on the wood table behind which Mike Daisey had just performed his monologue "The Last Cargo Cult" at the Public Theater in New York, the bowl of money seemed to glow.

The green never looked so green. The paper never looked so crisp. It was beautiful, really, the way the bills rested on top of each other. For those of us who worry about paying the bills every day, Daisey's show is a refreshing, laughter-inducing eye opener about money.

Field of Ruin
Obscene Jester: we care a lot:

The fact that any performer can keep an audience captivated, alternately silenced and laughing hysterically, without ever moving from his chair is tribute enough. However, in classic Daisey style, his weaving of texts, events, and ideas puts more power in a ten-minute anecdote about blue jeans than most plays can convey in their entirety.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mike Daisey Gives Away Money: The Q: GQ:

Over the past decade, monologist Mike Daisey has taken audiences to some strange places, both literal and metaphorical—from the secret heart of the dot-com boom in his 2001 breakthrough "21 Dog Years," about working at, to the world of post-9/11 "security theater" in last year's "If You See Something, Say Something," soon to be released as a feature film. Daisey's latest, "The Last Cargo Cult" finds him wandering farther afield than ever—all the way to the South Pacific, from which he returns with a tale of cell phones, odd cults, explosive volcanoes and the global financial collapse.
What the New York Times Lost in the Buyout - New York Times - Gawker:

More broadly, these buyouts signal the end of the classic New York Times culture. The paper used to be a job for life, with tenure as strong as the most bureaucratic college and a bureaucracy as entrenched as The Pentagon's. Those days, by necessity, are ending for good. Slowly, NYT employees are being forced to show and prove to justify their own paychecks. Just like employees of normal media outlets!

A year from now, many more newsroom employees will be gone. And things will be tighter at the NYT. For better or worse, they're going to lose some flab. And a fair amount of mystique.

Worth Seeing Again_4386

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Unbearable Banishment: The Cult of the U.S.A.:

This time around, Mr. Daisey visits an island in the South Pacific that's purported to be untouched by money and commerce. He juxtaposes this against last fall’s economic meltdown and gives a pretty sobering assessment of the stranglehold the Investment Banking community has on this nation. Yes, there are lots of laughs, but you do end up feeling like the victim of white collar crime. Which you are.

Buffet Infinitude
Police stop church photographer under terrorism powers | UK news | The Guardian:

Grant Smith, who has 25 years experience documenting buildings by Richard Rogers and Norman Foster, was stopped by a squad of seven officers who pulled up in three cars and a riot van and searched his belongings under section 44 of the Terrorism Act, which allows police to stop and search anyone without need for suspicion in a designated area.

"Three of them descended on me and said they were here because of reports of an aggressive male," Smith said. "One of them even admired my badge which said 'I am a photographer not a terrorist'. But they searched my bag for terrorist-related paraphernalia and demanded to know who I was and what I was doing. I refused. saying that I didn't have to tell them, but they said if I didn't they would take me off and physically search me."

Smith's trouble began when he refused to provide his name and explain what he was doing to a security guard from a nearby Bank of America office. He said he was astonished by the police response, not least the expense of dispatching four vehicles and seven officers.

His experience comes despite a warning last week to all police forces not to use section 44 measures unnecessarily against photographers. In a circular to fellow chief constables, Andy Trotter, of British Transport police, said: "Officers and community support officers are reminded that we should not be stopping and searching people for taking photos. Unnecessarily restricting photography, whether from the casual tourist or professional, is unacceptable."

First Ave
The Last Cargo Cult: Daisey Dukes (

I seriously doubt if I'd ever describe a stage performance as being "literally explosive" but gosh darn it if Mike Daisey doesn't make the prospect tempting. If you've ever seen this uproariously funny, socio-politically-minded soloist in action you probably know what I mean since, even though he always performs extemporaneously -- guided by his hand-written notes rather than using a scripted text -- there's a standard look and style to his shows that remains consistent. He is always seated at a table, on which are his neatly piled pages of notes, a glass of water and a small towel for mopping up his ever-perspiring face. Daisey is a large man given to large physical gestures and extraordinarily broad facial expressions. The explosions come periodically, usually preceded by a calm, even-toned explanation of some diabolical system that a government agency or huge industry is using for personal gain at the expense of an unsuspecting public. Then, as he gets to the payoff, which is usually the comic climax of his point, boom! His voice bellows, his face crunches and his arms flutter as though panic, anger and madness are all finding ways to escape from his body. Then, as the audience roars with laughter, he placidly rests his elbows on the table, lightly touching his fingers together, and peacefully watches his listeners until the room is once again quiet.
Emilie Autumn
The Last Cargo Cult at Public Theater - Theater review - Time Out New York:

How badly does monologuist extraordinaire Mike Daisey want you to see The Last Cargo Cult? So much so that he’ll pay you out of his own pocket to attend this wry, exuberant and hilarious response to the global financial meltdown. Along with a program, audience members receive a dollar bill as they take their seats, and the rumbling begins as we realize some got more than others—the bills range in denomination from $1 to $100.

Midsize Matters | LA STAGE BLOG:

All this activity on the middle tier of L.A. theater often goes unmentioned when people talk about L.A. stages. At an organized roundtable following Mike Daisey’s performance of How Theater Failed America last spring at the Kirk Douglas, a couple of panelists blithely cited the vacuum that supposedly exists between the highest-profile theaters (Center Theatre Group, Pasadena Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse, and presumably the big musical theater companies) and the many sub-100-seaters at the bottom. Following the formal panel discussion, during the now-the-audience-also-gets-to-pontificate segment, I raised the question (I’m paraphrasing here), “So what are L.A.’s midsize theaters - chopped liver?”

A mosaic made of 100% cardboard by lead scenic painter Hugh Morris on the occasion of our opening.
How’s Giving Away All Your Money Working Out for You, Mike Daisey? -- Vulture:

There are so many reasons to see The Last Cargo Cult, Mike Daisey's fascinating, trenchant, and very funny new monologue, before it ends its ten-day run at the Public on Sunday. There are his very timely thoughts on the pyramid scheme that is (or was) finance, musings on the meaning of money, and — most entertaining — his magazine-feature-worthy account of a nine-hour celebration on a remote Pacific island whose denizens literally worship the American armed forces and the "great shit" they brought over from the States during World War II. Finally: If you don't like it, you can keep Mike Daisey's money.
Nicky - Has a Big Bowl of Fruity Pebbles on a Disco Ball Encircled By his Favorite Shoes, Posters, Beauty Products & Cereals in The Business Corner of His Bedroom at His Mom's House
Five Questions for Mike Daisey - ArtsBeat Blog -

Mike Daisey, a monologuist who has tackled themes of war (“If You See Something, Say Something”) and the state of American theater (“How Theater Failed America”), is back with a new show about religion, money and the worship they inspire.

“The Last Cargo Cult” is about a trip Mr. Daisey took to the Pacific island Tanna where, he says, the world’s last cargo cult — more on that later — still exists. Interwoven into the monologue is a thread about the national financial collapse.

In his review, Jason Zinoman writes: “The way Mr. Daisey makes his arguments, more than the arguments themselves, is what makes him one of the elite performers in the American theater.”

Mr. Daisey, whose performances can be sweaty, thunderous and profanity-laced, talked about what inspired his new work. Following are excerpts from the conversation.

sound orb

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Thoughtful, compelling NYT review. One note: I'm not employing hyperbole when speaking about the pyramid scheme of our financial system on the largest scale, nor by using the term "financial terrorism" for the "too big to fail" shakedown last fall. While grotesque and absurd, it is simply true. When the truth is horrifying, sometimes we call it something else to make it go down easier.


Theater Review - 'The Last Cargo Cult' - At Public Theater - Mike Daisey’s Latest One-Man Show -

When he arrives onstage, sitting as he always does behind a glass of water and a desk, he dives into a story about a plane ride to the Pacific island Tanna, which he describes as a land “beyond the reach of money.” With an effortlessness that comes from years of spinning tales, he imbues this uneventful trip with the punch of the first explosion of an action movie.
Crossing the Frame

Monday, December 07, 2009

An interview I did on Cat Radio Cafe about the show can be heard here.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

merry go round
By the numbers: Some preliminary results to make you move back home to mama | Upstaged | Time Out New York:

Most artists have relatively low incomes, even though the majority (62%) are college graduates and hold at least one additional paying job. Two-thirds reported their total 2008 income was less than $40,000, including nearly one-third who earned less than $20,000. Artists tend to earn very little of their income from their art work or almost all of it. Unexpectedly, artists who spend more than 80% of their time on their art work have the highest income levels, while artists who rely on cobbling together an income from a mix of sources are most likely to earn under $20,000.
Johann Hari: A morally bankrupt dictatorship built by slave labour - Johann Hari, Commentators - The Independent:

Dubai is finally financially bankrupt – but it has been morally bankrupt all along. The idea that Dubai is an oasis of freedom on the Arabian peninsular is one of the great lies of our time.

The people who really built the city can be seen in long chain-gangs by the side of the road, or toiling all day at the top of the tallest buildings in the world, in heat that Westerners are told not to stay in for more than 10 minutes. They were conned into coming, and trapped into staying.

In their home country – Bangladesh or the Philippines or India – these workers are told they can earn a fortune in Dubai if they pay a large upfront fee. When they arrive, their passports are taken from them, and they are told their wages are a tenth of the rate they were promised.

They end up working in extremely dangerous conditions for years, just to pay back their initial debt. They are ringed-off in filthy tent-cities outside Dubai, where they sleep in weeping heat, next to open sewage. They have no way to go home. And if they try to strike for better conditions, they are beaten by the police.
New Device Desirable, Old Device Undesirable | The Onion:

With the holiday shopping season officially under way, millions of consumers proceeded to their nearest commercial centers this week in hopes of acquiring the latest, and therefore most desirable, personal device.

"The new device is an improvement over the old device, making it more attractive for purchase by all Americans," said Thomas Wakefield, a spokesperson for the large conglomerate that manufactures the new device. "The old device is no longer sufficient. Consumers should no longer have any use or longing for the old device."
Tiger Style
Charged With Felony After Taping 4 Minutes Of "New Moon" - The Consumerist:

The Sun-Times is reporting that a 22-year-old Chicago woman has been arrested and charged with a felony after taping 4 minutes of "New Moon" during her sister's surprise 29th birthday party.

Managers saw the woman taping and called the police, who examined the camera (a digital still camera that also takes short video segments) and say they found “two very short segments” that totaled no more than 4 minutes.

The alleged felony movie-taper says she was taking pictures of her family before the film and that nobody warned her.

From the Sun-Times:

“We sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her in the theater,” Tumpach said.

She also took pictures of family members in the theater before the film began, but an usher who saw the photo session never issued them a warning, Tumpach said.

As ads and previews ran on the big screen, she fiddled with the camera — which she got in July and is still learning how to work — and was surprised to see it took clear videos of the screen.

The footage she shot also includes the pre-film commercials, as well as her talking about the camera and the movie.

“You can hear me talking the whole time,” Tumpach said.

She plans to fight in court the felony filed against her because she said she did nothing wrong — and certainly didn’t try to secretly tape the movie.

“It was never my intention to record the movie,” she said.

The theater managers decided to press charges, so the woman spent two nights in jail and faces up to three years in prison.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Looking Ahead
the money conversation | USA Arts Grants Finder | Grants for Artists, Musicians, Film and TV, Theatre and Writers:

Friday night I went to see Mike Daisey’s THE LAST CARGO CULT at the Public. It has been a long time since I laughed so much or so hard. Daisey is a wonderful storyteller who deftly weaves multiple narratives together in unexpected and frequently revelatory ways. He is prolific but this show stands out from the others, in my mind, as a more ambitious endeavor. Perhaps that is because he is taking on the most pervasive and all-consuming obsession of MONEY. We’ve all had the Money Conversation – we have it all the time in lots of different ways. And Daisey manages to pull together the particular and the universal in ways that get to the very heart of the question “What is money and what is its effect on us?”

From Ruscha with love

What indeed.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Tonight was a fantastic evening—one of those nights when the theater has an ecstatic charge, when the thought and its intellectual meaning are in sympathetic union with the passion and the emotional intensity. A fantastic audience—I could not have asked for better.

After this particular monologue I’m always careful to figure out how I feel about the audience as an experience before I find out how they treated us financially. It’s a wise precaution.

They took my money.

This crowd, the fastest ever to its feet in the curtain call, was the fastest out the door with my money.

It’s a fascinating practice, this production—it teaches you how hard it is to separate price from everything in our culture. We’ve learned that the value people give to the experience varies wildly, and that the connection between their human experience in the room and their fiscal identity varies. We are often willing to make situations abstract when it works in our favor—and then when we are called on this behavior, we shrug and say it is "business".

But this is exactly why the experiment of this show is so vital. Far from a theatrical trick or flourish, it lays bare the fundamentals. In that room we are briefly a tribe, united in an experience, and seeing how our systems calculate value, how they assert themselves with incredible speed. I put all of the money I am paid for my work on the line each night, and I am not complaining—it is my risk to make, to trust the audience.

What is illuminating is how easy it is for value to shift under us, and for the ephemeral to be valued as meaningless within our chosen system. At the same time that we live in a culture that works this way, that assigns no value to love, happiness, hatred, or compassion, we all agree that our own personal values are wildly different—the vast majority of people want to be loved, want to love others, and their highest concerns are family, friends and other things that have zero fiscal value. But like all things priced at zero, are they “priceless” or “valueless”?

Tonight the crowd spoke in its human voice at the end of the show, and with its wallets as they left. They knew it was my pay, and they took it anyway.

At the same time, after the show someone found me in the lobby and told me that they enjoyed the show, and wished they had money with them, but came to the show tapped out—like so many of us, they live on debit cards alone most of the time. The man then realized he had some cookies with him he had made.

He gave me one. Some were burned, so he gave me a nonburned one.


What is the value of this cookie? Well, fiscally, in our system…very little. The ingredients are simple, it isn’t terribly soft, and it’s quite small. It also doesn’t come with an efficient cookie distribution system and marketing campaign of cookie awareness. Maybe a few pennies at best, if you really hawked it on the open market.

This cookie reminds me clearly that audiences are made out of individuals, and that each person makes their own choices. And those choices are human ones. Thankfully that is still true.

This cookie is small and spare, but it is food. It can be eaten, and it is real—there is nothing abstract about a cookie. If you were hungry, and someone handed it to you, it could be just what you needed.

Tonight I came out ahead.
Photographic Fictions - Alternative Histories 1
Nearly 90,000 Print Jobs Have Been Lost in the Last Year - Recessionomics - Gawker:

And this paragraph from the BLS's release should provide some sobering context:

About 2.3 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in November, an increase of 376,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

But there's good news: Employment in commercial banking increased by 1,000 jobs, or about 1%. They always win, don't they?
'Highest Paid Man on Wall Street' Ignites Culture War at His Kid's Prep School - prep school - Gawker:

Look, Skip: I get that you're sad about Lehman. But when everyone knows you get a 7-figure paycheck every month, maybe don't complain about how emotionally difficult it was for you to steer 11,000 people's job losses, not to mention setting off global economic freefall and bankrupting entire nations. That said, the image of a Lehman exec's teenage son blinking back tears of confused rage, shame, and filial protectiveness makes for a somewhat fascinating tableau on the concept of "inheritance."
" Fly Me To The Moon "

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Daisey's The Last Cargo Cult Begins Off-Broadway Engagement Dec. 3 -

Monologist Mike Daisey takes audiences to a starker South Pacific in The Last Cargo Cult, which begins performances at the Public Theater Dec. 3.

Jean-Michele Gregory directs the New York premiere of the work that officially opens Dec. 7 and plays a limited run through Dec. 13 in the Newman Theater.

"Mike Daisey is funny, fearless and brilliant," Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis said in a statement. "He's one of those rare performers who is as fascinated by the world around him as he is by the world inside him, and he creates evenings that are delightful and genuinely thought-provoking. He's rapidly becoming one of the seminal theatre artists of his generation, and we are delighted he has a home at The Public Theater."

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