Sunday, December 22, 2013

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom this invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”

David Foster Wallace

Monday, December 16, 2013

What Tech Hasn’t Learned From Urban Planning -

Today, that Starbucks is gone. So is the popular brewery that was next door to it. The sandwich shop across the plaza is closed, as is the salad bar. It’s not that any of these businesses were particularly distinctive or delicious, but they provided a valuable service — lunch — and also some social connection among the building’s tenants and people in the immediate neighborhood.

Gone also is any sign of life the plaza ever had. Google leased as much of the complex as it could get its hands on — and the correspondingly skyrocketing rents accelerated the closing of all the ground-floor businesses, even a short-lived outpost of The Melt (a franchise that serves uniformly grilled sandwiches made with a high-tech — and tech-industry-financed — piece of machinery). In place of Starbucks there is now something called the Mozilla Community Space — that isn’t open to the community. You need to be a registered “Mozillian” (whatever that is) to gain access.

Tech companies that remain in the suburbs are taking a similarly upside-down approach to urbanism. Facebook’s Menlo Park campus, set in a sea of parking, is a sort of movie-set version of a city, with cafe, dry cleaner, doctor, dentist and personal trainers all accessible only to employees. Informal public gathering places (like Starbucks, for example, or a barbershop) are essential to local democracy and community vitality. But by creating “third places” (home and work are the first and second) that aren’t actually open to the public, that benefit is severely compromised.

The Weekend Uber Tried To Rip Everyone Off:

That's down the the line a bit—for now, we're looking at the eradication of low-tech cabs. Uber doesn't hide its contempt for traditional taxi cab systems and dreams of their destruction. City cab companies are rife with problems of their own, yes, but subject to regulation—the kind of regulation we now know Uber badly needs to implement itself, or be forced into. Uber wants to expand to every city in the country, and supplant existing cab systems—the ones subject to laws and regulations. For instance: if a yellow cab driver says it's going to cost an extra $100 just because it's Friday, he'll lose his job. If Uber does it, it's the magical mitts of supply and demand pushing us around.

If more drivers leave traditional taxi companies for Uber—and I've talked to many who have—we step closer to cities where price gouging is the norm, where only the rich can get around, and where outrageous profiteering is the base fare. And if you don't like it, you can hit the road.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Financial and Artistic Disaster of The Guthrie's Dry White (Male) Season - Parabasis:

In other words, the Guthrie's new, huge complex and three separate spaces necessitated more conservative, less adventuresome work. This stood in stark contrast to the promises that Dowling made to the theatrical and funding community while he was actually campaigning for the new space, in which he regularly stated that the new space would allow the Guthrie room to more adventurous and diverse work. In fact, as Anne Bogart's "Conversations with Anne" reveals, major industry figures like Ben Cameron and Oskar Eustis specifically held up the Guthrie as an example of a company that was doing new building right, as a way of doing better, more interesting, more diverse work.

So given that box office was apparently such a major part of the Guthrie's considerations, it's worth looking at how the Dry White Male Season worked out for them. And it turns out it was basically a disaster. Over the course of 2012/2013 season, the Guthrie went from having a surplus to a close to half a million dollar deficit, and much of the blame can be laid directly at the unpopular, criticaly unloved trilogy of Christopher Hampton plays that Dowling went out on such a limb to produce, and which played at around 50% capacity for their runs.

If we drew the same lessons from this that theaters always draw from "underperforming" plays by Black playwrights, The Guthrie would never do a play by a British white male writer ever again. Call me crazy, but I doubt that's what's going to happen here.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Why Are We So Obsessed With Sales?:

Last week the Wall Street Journal published a story on the "Dirty Secret of Black Friday 'Discounts'," pointing out that although the number of deals offered by 31 major retailers increased by 63% between 2009 and 2012, their profit margins all stayed roughly the same.

The reason that holding so many sales hasn't bankrupted all these companies is because, as the Journal puts it, they're illusions. Retailers' margins have stayed the same because the average list price — the price the item is eventually discounted from — has skyrocketed.

It's almost all mental. Retailers are required to sell their products at the list price, but according to the Journal, those prices are quickly discounted. And very few people ever actually pay that list price — former JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson said in 2012 that the department store sold less than one in 500 items at full price.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Goodbye Historic Clocktower Gallery, Hello Tribeca Luxury Condos: Gothamist:

The Clocktower Gallery was instrumental in shaping the burgeoning alternative arts scene in the city. Among its most memorable exhibitions: a Dennis Oppenheim installation where the artist placed a dead German shepherd on top of a legless electric organ. As rigor mortis set in, the tones would change. (The ASPCA provided the deceased dog).

Michelangelo Pistoletto's piece was shut down by the Board of Health because he used bones that had not been properly cleaned.

One Easter, a chocolate-covered Charlotte Moorman played a chocolate-covered cello. And then there's Gordon Matta-Clark's "Clock Shower" performance, where the artist soaped up and showered while hanging off the face of the clock.
Raconteur provocateur: Mike Daisey subverts with soliloquy - : Performance:

“The truth is I don’t always want the audience on my side. That’s not a very dynamic state. A better state is where some are on your side, some are skeptical, some are listening intelligently and are very present, others are reflecting — there’s a mixture. That’s what creates the atmosphere where something unexpected can happen. If you give the audience precisely what they want, they will think they are happy but will leave unsatisfied. What they really want is to be subverted, in order to be delighted.”

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A recording of a new monologue, PRIVATE MANNING’S WAR, performed for one night only at the Public Theater on April 22nd, 2013. From the original production’s notes: “Private Manning’s War is about Private First Class Bradley Manning, who was held for over a thousand days and nights before being arraigned on charges of treason against the United States of America. An incredibly polarizing figure who is reviled by some as a traitor, credited by others as the catalyst for the Arab Spring, despised for aiding and abetting enemy combatants, and celebrated as a hero and whistleblower. Above all Manning is an enigmatic figure who has cast a long shadow across the world while imprisoned, used as a tool and symbol by many different sides. For a single night we will try to find the human story of Private Manning, and attempt to understand this war, and all of our roles in it.”

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot's prison letters to Slavoj Žižek | Music | The Guardian:

You are right to question the idea that the "experts" close to power are competent to make decisions. Experts are, by definition, servants of those in power: they don't really think, they just apply their knowledge to the problems defined by those in power (how to bring back stability? how to squash protests?). So are today's capitalists, the so-called financial wizards, really experts? Are they not just stupid babies playing with our money and our fate? I remember a cruel joke from Ernst Lubitsch's To Be Or Not to Be. When asked about the German concentration camps in occupied Poland, the Nazi officer snaps back: "We do the concentrating, and the Poles do the camping." Does the same not hold for the Enron bankruptcy in 2002? The thousands of employees who lost their jobs were certainly exposed to risk, but with no true choice – for them the risk was like blind fate. But those who did have insight into the risks, and the ability to intervene (the top managers), minimised their risks by cashing in their stocks before the bankruptcy. So it is true that we live in a society of risky choices, but some people (the managers) do the choosing, while others (the common people) do the risking.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Monday, November 04, 2013

Recorded live at the Maine International Conference of the Arts, this was a closing keynote about where we are in arts, arts education, and the particular challenges artists face coming up in a place like Maine. This short piece is about the changing season, and how often we blind ourselves to it. If you really want the full effect, you need to put a badge on, drink some free coffee, and have spent 72 hours in breakout sessions.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spy vs Spy « The Dish:

As more and more details emerge, the Snowden leaks look more and more justifiable in retrospect. The NSA has behaved like many powerful surveillance bureaucracies. Give them a hammer and they will search high and low for nails. When that tangibly harms the interests of the United States, rather than advancing them, it’s time for the Congress and the White House to reform and repeal the potential for abuse. We need to spy. We don’t need the massive, damaging Dyson-level vacuuming up of so much data from so many. Obama now has political cover to do this thoroughly. We’ll soon find out whether he has been seduced by the prerogatives of power, or whether he will respond to the legitimate, and now proven, allegations of widespread abuse.
How Local Governments Hinder Our Response to Natural Disasters - David Wachsmuth - The Atlantic Cities:

In New York and New Jersey, the most agile, adaptive disaster response generally didn't come from local and state governments, but from grassroots response networks like Occupy Sandy. One important thing that differentiated Occupy Sandy from governments is that it wasn't constrained by jurisdictional boundaries. As such, it could simply devote its resources where need was greatest. If governments are unable to work effectively across jurisdictions, they should partner with informal actors who can.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013

UC Davis Pepper Spray Cop Received $38,000 Workers Comp Settlement:

The former University of California Davis police lieutenant who brutally pepper-sprayed a group of peaceful Occupy protesters was awarded a $38,000 workman's compensation settlement from the school last week. The payout is about $8,000 more than each of the assaulted demonstrators received in a settlement from the university last year, according to the Davis Enterprise.

In November 2011, Lt. John Pike of the UC Davis Police force casually sprayed the passive protesters, and was, of course, caught on camera doing so. The video went viral, becoming a sort of symbol and rallying cry for the Occupy movement, and Pike rightfully lost his job for the attack in July 2012.

About one year later, Pike, who made $121,680 per year as a cop, filed a worker's compensation claim, saying the event and its aftermath caused him to suffer depression and anxiety. He also said his family received death threats.

The school and Administrative Law Judge Harter, who approved the settlement, apparently agreed that the eight months of paid suspension (during which Pike “earned” more than $80,000) wasn't compensation enough for the self-inflicted duress and awarded the former officer $38,056.

Bernie Goldsmith, a Davis attorney supportive of the student protesters, told the Associated Press that the settlement “sends a clear message to the next officer nervously facing off with a group of passive, unarmed students: Go on ahead. Brutalize them. Trample their rights. You will be well taken care of.”

Friday, October 18, 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

On Theatre and Politics - Matthew Freeman: Thoughts on this and that:

I took in one episode of Mike Daisey's All The Faces Of The Moon live, and listened to several of them via podcast. It's quite an extraordinary feat of strength. Mike is simply one of the most purely talented stage performers I've ever seen: he's just gifted. While I've only experienced the show in pieces so far, whenever I have tuned in, I've been captivated and delighted.

It's what strikes me as the great irony of whatever controversy (still?) surrounds Mike Daisey's work is that the man is a living example of what makes fiction wonderful. We're living in a world of economists and fact-checkers, when what we really need is the humanities. Connections, magical ones, images, feelings: the things that we make up, the stories we tell. Otherwise, our lives will be pieces of information. That's what I sometimes fear most: that information is replacing imagination.

On the other hand, Daisey's show was also an attempt to engage with contemporary theater audiences in the age of Netflix. It's a show that you can binge. It's a season. It rewards the casual viewer, but also rewards the dedicated fan. While I think there might have been too much to catch up with all at once (once I got behind, each show was an hour and a half podcast to take in in order to get current); it now lives on as a digital relic and so it can be taken in entirely. Plus, there's the great artwork that was inspired by the piece. Things to collect. Things to keep. A mosaic.

Hello All,

ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON was a huge success—as of today we’ve had more than 100,000 downloads. If you want to listen to the full theatrical novel, you can subscribe via iTunes here, completely free:


I’m writing today to let you know about our next project:

These are three monologues being launched over the next eighteen months about what war means to us today in America.

The second monologue,
LIFE DURING WARTIME, will focus on the lives of war veterans after they come home and my father’s work as a veteran’s counselor. The final monologue, NO MAN’S WAR, will be about the corporatization of war as our nation’s biggest business, how drone warfare is the growing heart of that empire, and the lives of drone operators.

But the first monologue starts now, it’s timely, and I can’t wait.

It’s called
THE SECRET WAR, and is about our three most famous whistleblowers: Daniel Ellsberg, Private Manning, and Edward Snowden. These three are polarizing figures—all have been called traitors and heroes. By talking about them in a human way, I’m hoping to tell the most important story we’re not allowed to talk about: the story of secrets. Why we make things secret, how we keep secrets, and the power that secrecy has over our world.

I’ll be performing the first performance of
THE SECRET WAR this Monday, October 21st at 8pm at the IRT Theatre in NYC. Seating is limited—you can RSVP for the free show by emailing Make sure to say whether you’d like 1 or 2 seats, and the theater will email you back to confirm that you are in.


Over the next month
THE SECRET WAR tours across the country:

On Friday, October 25th I’ll be performing
THE SECRET WAR in Maine at the Collins Center for the Arts.


On November 8th and 9th I’ll be bringing
THE SECRET WAR to Philadelphia, headlining the First Person Arts Festival.


And on November 20th and 23rd I’ll be performing
THE SECRET WAR in Santa Fe, at the beautiful Lensic Performing Arts Center.


People kept asking me what kind of break I was going to take after finishing
ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON. I guess starting the war trilogy is my answer to that: life is short, the hour is late, and there’s so much that hasn’t been done. A song said it first, but it's true—I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Be seeing you,


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Banksy Takes the Art World’s Money, But He Won’t Buy Its Line | Creative Time Reports:

On Sunday, a booth appeared in Central Park selling “signed,” “100% original” Banksys—at $60 a piece. Except for a few tourists, everyone ignored it. The booth seemed to be evidence of the cashing-in on any current event, from 9/11 to Occupy to a famous street artist’s “residency,” that we do in this most capitalist of cities. But it was real.

The Internet lacerated itself for not buying Banskys at a 10,000-percent discount. But would you recognize art if it wasn’t marked as such? Banksy, who can’t write the word “elephant” on a water tanker without having it crated off and auctioned, made something that was fake until the magic moment it turned out to be real.

Art’s market value, like that of fashion, is derived from name more than any material properties. The Chinese factory workers sewing Chanel handbags can make the same bags, after hours, but they’ll be low-rent knockoffs without the interlocking “C”s. The same goes for an assistant who painted, without the master’s imprimatur, Damien Hirst’s dots. The Brand does transubstantiation. It turns crackers into the flesh of Christ.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Why I will never return to the USA - Niels Gerson Lohman:

In the five hours that followed, I was questioned twice more. During the first round I told, amongst others, my life’s story, about my second novel’s plot, gave my publisher’s name, my bank’s name and my real estate agent’s name. Together we went through all the photos on my laptop and messages my phones had been receiving for the past months. They wrote down the names of everybody I had been in touch with. In my pirated software and movies they showed no interest.

During the second round of questioning, we talked about religion. I told them my mother was raised a Catholic, and that my dad had an atheist mother and a Jewish dad.

‘We don’t understand. Why would a Jew go to Yemen?’

‘But… I’m not Jewish’

‘Yeah, well. We just don’t understand why would a Jew go to Yemen.’

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Codex Seraphinianus: new edition of weird book by Luigi Serafini out in October.:

If you manage to lay your hands on a copy of Codex Seraphinianus and flip through its almost 400 pages of lavish illustration and handwritten commentary, the only words you will have any chance of understanding—depending on what sort of shape your Latin is in—are those on the title page. This is because the entire text of the book is written in an invented language, and alphabet, which nobody has ever been able to decipher.

And quite a few people have tried: the Codex has had a cult following since its original publication in Italy in 1981, and is often referred to as the world’s weirdest book. The book, which is the work of the Italian architect and designer Luigi Serafini (who is still with us, but has remained inflexibly committed to not explaining a damn thing about it), will be republished in a new edition by the art publisher Rizzoli later this month. It’s not the sort of thing that easily lends itself to classification, but probably the most accurate way to describe it would be as an encyclopedia of an invented alien civilization. It contains hundreds of carefully organized illustrations of plants, animals, people, machines, dwellings, cities, agricultural procedures, clothing, sexual practices, rituals, and so on.

It’s a lavish miscellany of weird specificity; because of its combination of absurdity and inscrutable precision, reading it is a feverish experience—although “reading” is exactly the wrong word, because that is an activity the book doesn’t permit. Rather, you simply look at it; you look at its diagrams of copulating couples gradually fusing together into crocodiles, at its drawings of egg-helmeted doctors rolling the flesh-pelts from supine bodies and trussing them up on hooks while detached skeletons observe, at its colorful bestiaries of impossible creatures (fish with brooms for tails, little snakes that double as shoelaces). And then you look at the accompanying text, with its lines and lines of beautiful and completely indecipherable script. And the experience is one of a book that makes perfect sense—that lays out an entire world in extensive empirical detail—but (crucially) not to you, because you don’t have the experience or the linguistic tools to understand it.

A 560X0-2-706403

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Outrage Queens by Paul Constant - Seattle Features - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:

There's this story I heard once from a homeless veteran I'll call James. He had a pinched face and a smoky voice and huge, square glasses and the kind of wicked alcoholism that accelerated from zero to knife-fight in about half a sip of beer. I was working the night shift in a coffee shop, and James, who at the time was sober and taking a computer programming class, was keeping me company. He told me about this thing he used to do, back in Vietnam.

On those days when he didn't have to be anywhere, James would go out into the jungle. His friends used to go into town to pick up some prostitutes, but James was in one of his religious phases, and so he didn't tag along. Instead, he'd hollow out a coconut, put his gold watch inside of it, and leave it on the jungle floor. Then he'd go hide, and wait. If he was lucky, an orangutan would come along and notice the watch gleaming inside the coconut. It would reach inside to see what the shiny thing was. James would fashion the hole in such a way that an open hand could get into the coconut, but a closed fist was too big to get out. The orangutan couldn't figure this out, and it didn't want to let go of the shiny thing, so its hand would be stuck inside.

The orangutan couldn't seem to make the connection between its hand being stuck and letting go of the watch. Those two problems—the stuck hand and the wanting the thing inside the coconut—were hurtling forward through its ape brain on parallel tracks, and they seemed unsolvable. And so the orangutan started to get agitated. It was at that point that James would jump out of the shadows, he told me, and quickly beat the confused orangutan to death with the butt of his gun.

James clearly loved telling the story, and I loved it, too: It seemed to have so many meanings. If we're the orangutan in the story, we don't understand that the simple solution to our predicament would be obvious if we could just let go of the thing we want. If we're James in the story, we're unknowingly acting out the cruelty and the pointlessness of the Vietnam War on a tiny scale, for recreation, even as the larger war is playing out all around us. I've been thinking a lot about James's story since the government shut down on October 1. I'll tell you why in a minute. But first, I want to talk about the internet.

The Realism Canard, Or: Why Fact-Checking Fiction Is Poisoning Criticism. - Parabasis:

This odd tension-- that narrative art creates its own world yet helps shape our view of ours-- has given birth to (or at least popularity to) a new brand of criticism that measures a story against real life to point out all the ways that it is lacking. You've seen it before, right? "Five Things Parks & Rec gets right about small town budgeting bylaws." Now with Gravity busting box office records, we're getting astronauts and scientists telling us that there are many points where the film departs from real life. Entire critical careers are now founded on churning out "What X Gets Right/Wrong About Y" blog posts, posts that often completely ignore issues of aesthetics, construction, theme or effect to simply focus on whether in "real life" a given circumstance of a story would be possible.

In real life, people don't talk the way they do in movies or television or (especially) books. Real locations aren't styled, lit, or shot the way they are on screen. The basic conceits of point of view in literature actually make no sense and are in no way "realistic." Realism isn't verisimilitude. It's a set of stylistic conventions that evolve over time, are socially agreed upon, and are hotly contested. The presence of these conventions is not a sign of quality. Departure from them is not a sign of quality's absence.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Monday, October 07, 2013

If the 1% stifles New York's creative talent, I'm out of here | David Byrne | Comment is free |

What, then, is the future of New York, or really of any number of big urban centers, in this new Gilded Age? Does culture have a role to play? If we look at the city as it is now, then we would have to say that it looks a lot like the divided city that presumptive mayor Bill de Blasio has been harping about: most of Manhattan and many parts of Brooklyn are virtual walled communities, pleasure domes for the rich (which, full disclosure, includes me), and aside from those of us who managed years ago to find our niche and some means of income, there is no room for fresh creative types. Middle-class people can barely afford to live here anymore, so forget about emerging artists, musicians, actors, dancers, writers, journalists and small business people. Bit by bit, the resources that keep the city vibrant are being eliminated.

This city doesn't make things anymore. Creativity, of all kinds, is the resource we have to draw on as a city and a country in order to survive. In the recent past, before the 2008 crash, the best and the brightest were lured into the world of finance. Many a bright kid graduating from university knew that they could become fairly wealthy almost instantly if they found employment at a hedge fund or some similar institution. But before the financial sector came to dominate the world, they might have made things: in publishing, manufacturing, television, fashion, you name it. As in many other countries, the lure of easy bucks hoovered this talent and intelligence up – and made it difficult for those other kinds of businesses to attract any of the top talent.

Friday, October 04, 2013

The final night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded October 3rd, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. A circle of salt holds back the darkness. Am I my brother’s keeper? Yes I am, goddamnit. The cantankerous ghost and the ridiculous plan. Burning your last letter, bootstrapping yourself on the ladder made of light, blood, bone. “Everything depends on you. It always did.” It’s the world we actually live in, you know. We wanted to change the world, but not ourselves. Cool Ranch Doritos and Mountain Dew. The dreaded CVS, the great autistic bear, and six black glassy cards. Someone always wants to be an elf. “You are all well met at a tavern.” Then: rappers love private jets, embarrassment is a sign of taste, and she is drinking in the moon, constant and inconstant. Later: cutting off the owlbear’s head, the dark faerieland of Erelhei-Cinlu, and we question genocide. St. Marks Place is a Disneyland of filth. The Moon is always wounded. I have told every version of every story, spinning every version of every plate. The dice are burning like embers. The Magician’s trick, the doorbell, and the dog’s bark. You have to say it three times. The river pouring, the cards scattering, the last look at him through the door. Time is the longest distance between two places. He smiles in his triumph. Stage managers on your couch, tangled threads must be cut, and a very public proxy ritual. Then: a hard conversation at a deli. What was beyond the mirror, and what she saw. This is the mask and the invitation—you have to choose it, or it chooses you. A family meeting. I have yours and you have mine. At the bank of the river, the cup is offered. All stories are struggle. I drank my fill.


Thursday, October 03, 2013

Today is Opening Day. And it's Closing Day. The run is over, and the story is over. The run is never over, and the story begins anew each time someone starts listening. All the compasses are spinning. There are new stars in the skies here…no one has been out in these waters for a long, long time. We've always been in these waters, and our fathers fathers sailed here, and the Greeks besides. The constellations are up. We do not know their names, but we know them. If you are open to it, you can hear them. They were always there. They are telling a story that will never cease. Lean close. Listen.

The twenty-eighth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded October 2nd, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: the narcotic attraction of affairs and the pot roast that will never be eaten. She edits out, never fabricating. Nothing insulates you from shame like power, the red line moves on, and the black ink. She wishes she was in the Village. The ziggurat sarcophagus and the Ministry of Silly Walks. Atlas Shrugged yields a different kind of asshole. Then: a white suit with rhinestones, tiny hands making intricate work, and the glass cube’s mystical significance. Export dreams into your MacBook Pro. Buried him in the trench. You can not dance here. You can not be here. Knives of American kryptonite. She hasn’t had a good frenzy since her sisters died. The white and blue water. The sun on your skin.


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The twenty-seventh night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded October 1st, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: The city is shut down, the paintings are vanishing. The darkness before the lights come up is mine. The Bay Area at sunset, the bright and easy libertarians at play. Eames chair and Tiffany lamp. The island where we will hunt slaves. You give books root access to your memories. Then: he had to use modeling clay and it’s embarrassing. Joseph Papp teaches wrestling moves. That fucking rucksack and tapping on your breastbone. A pink Cadillac on the BQE. The ruined utopia, a price of arrogance and delusion, and the spirit of 1964: white men and their wives. Luchadores and my second’s second. Furry Cockroach. The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial is a black wall. The stars are inhuman, but the constellations are ours.


The twenty-sixth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 30th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: The end is near, the wine dark sea and all that shit. A potter’s wheel exploded. Compact florescent lighting is a sin. The naked neighbor throwing handfuls of change. There is no doctor, this is uncharted waters. Then: the Gowanus a poisoned river, flooded with guns and mercury. Tonight Luna Park is open, a royal party, and real absinthe requires crushed faeries. “Crackerjack applesauce!” If you are to die, why not die at the Big Game? George Soros barks. The lost cigar box. This party contains all parties, and orgies have a kind of radiant wholesomeness. The kiss. Nothing polishes you like regret. It’s not a dire wolf. Beyond the door her dreams tell the story we always knew.


Monday, September 30, 2013

The major plot development in ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON where I have challenged Mayor Bloomberg to a Mexican wrestling match is actually something that totally happened as described in the show. Here's the video.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The twenty-fifth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 29th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: It’s been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone. The Cruel Ones, shaking the Bank of England until she cried, and even vampires rely on human resources. The cigar box. We must have rolled a six. The moon from Brooklyn. It’s amazing how small you can make your life, searching the archive, and what I wish I had always done. Teaching the ritual. Then: why Australia always matters, stripping the Red Fort of its jewels, and the mirror can never be trusted. “Go, Daughter of the Moon.” The subway is a metaphor. He hungered to cut the poor off from the coasts. Amadou Diallo and Bernie Goetz. Tight as a drum. “Let’s go…before I lose my nerve.” Childhood’s end.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

The twenty-fourth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 28th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: the Boomtown and the Beverage Manager. We are blinded to the powers age gives us, life in a rigged universe, and where you come from puts its mark on you. The snake eats its own tail. Every quote comes from Mark Twain. “LA is so psychically dead I can get a whole night’s sleep.” The queen of hearts knows multiplicity. Fate is in the house, stage managers love to knit, and it’s six eyes and speaking in unison. “Can you close the game?” Summoning the ghost of Joseph Papp. Did you know it’s anti-American to give away free tickets? Aqua velvet and despair. His face was anyone’s face but once you know it, you know it. You’d know it anywhere.

All the Faces of the Moon :: EDGE New York City:

A proof-of-concept theatrical event, "All the Faces of The Moon" created and performed by Mike Daisey is currently premiering at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater. Mr. Daisey invents a theatrical novel over 29 nights with each show evoking a unique card from the Tarot deck.

In this, Daisey expands his usual bare-bones aesthetic and collaborates with the artist Larissa Tokmakova, who created an original oil painting to accompany each story. The project is 44 hours of humor, mystery, the personal and political by a master storyteller critics dub a modern-day Mark Twain for his provocative monologues.

Each night Daisey creates a story and performs it extemporaneously. It is captured for podcast the next day on iTunes. Providing the podcast for free, Daisey’s apparent intent, aside from reinvigorating the novel and solo performance forms in one stroke, is to subvert the standard business model of theatrical distribution. It’s like he’s saying, in follow up to his "How Theatre Failed America," ’this, boys, is the way it is done.’ What’s delightful about Daisey is that he is open about his hubristic tendencies and waggishly unbowed by his "mistakes." (See the "This American Life" retraction.)

Over many nights, Mr. Daisey mixes reminiscences of his boyhood in Maine with a mythical tale set in the present Bloombergian universe. He invents characters that personify the great institutions of this new Gilded Age -- The Grey Lady, for instance is the venerable New York Times newspaper. He weaves numerous plot lines while pit-stopping at New York City landmarks. Katz’s Deli, The post-Sandy Rockaways, Zuccotti Park, and the Hayden Planetarium are just a few. He subjects each one to his laser-heated criticism that erupts from a raucously cynical viewpoint, accrued after decades of New York living that laments the loss of the magical.

Daisey blames post-9/11 counterterrorism and the domination of the Big Banks post-recession, and observes that the average New Yorker is now completely and "thoroughly fucked." He drafts real folks both from his immediate orbit, his high school friend Gibbs, a waitress at Joe’s Pub, and as in No. 18, his wife, to populate his world. He uses public figures like George Soros and sets them in real life settings. He vividly paints his meet-up with Soros and the allegorical Grey Lady that occurs at Peter Luger’s Steakhouse.

"All the Faces of The Moon," if nothing, is stylistically adventurous. Mr. Daisey gives full rein to his imagination. His tale-spinning risks all with its archetypal figures like the Jewish Golem and a surrealist vision of a New York that at times sounds like the half-finished back lot on a Hollywood set. It’s a testament to his gifts and method that as one listens one can see his "clockwork" people munching gears and pulley sandwiches at Katz’s and his Steampunk styled trains that zip pneumatically under the East River. There are mysterious occurrences, magic and magicians, the transmission of secret knowledge, tête-à-têtes with dead geniuses, vampire-bankers and Burning Man aficionados. All are subject to Daisey’s garrulous scrutiny and caustic humor.

It follows that "All the Faces of the Moon" is for the aesthetically courageous. The scope is Whitman-esque in its allusions to New York and America. The form revives the ancient art of storytelling and mashes it with 21st century content delivery, bypassing the usual channels of cultural production and spiking the art (via earbuds) directly into your brain.

"All The Faces of the Moon" is a significant work and should be witnessed. It’s not every day that an artist breaks new ground and entertains at the same time. The event is beyond the cliché of communal theatrical experience.

Under Daisey’s influence, every night until Oct. 3, New York’s warp and weft are untangled, destroyed, and interwoven anew into patterns, signs and portents that may well restore the numinous to urban life.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The twenty-third night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 27th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: we should all cultivate a healthy suspicion of standing ovations. Wasting money on a filthy experience, we want to be stirred like cake batter, and never end a monologue with a poem. Tell me souls on board. Everyone inflates their numbers, celebrities are viagra, and there will be just seven golden corporate tickets. Are we priceless or worthless? Then: golems are difficult to sleep with because they are heavy. A lone Dionysian is a sad thing. The Grey Lady and the Mole People. The Kierkegaardian turnstile. John McClane is Bruce Willis is MOONLIGHTING. German terrorists in an innocent time. This is an island off the coast of America. My familiar is a doughnut. The Staten Island Ferry. Your stage managers are calling, and they are pissed.


The twenty-second night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 26th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: Rules for sympathetic magic. Dennis, the low production values, and the gunslinger. New York has only one tower, uploading the press release into the cortex, and mentally deficient dolphins have good unions. Thirteen years versus eighteen months. Falling and failure and our intense psychic life in the air. Incandescent bulbs are detritus of another age—now we will diminish and go into the West. Which shade of orange is more forward thinking? Whispering paintings, the moon’s movements are difficult to describe, and lunch with the expert of esoterica. The fiction of nonfiction. The nature of faith and the question of God. Make a Swiss man weep. You must change your life.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

A New Survey Finds a Drop in Arts Attendance -

"Theater is the artistic discipline in America that is losing audience share at the fastest rate in recent years…For musicals, the 9 percent drop in the attendance rate between 2008 and 2012 was the first statistically significant change in that category in more than 25 years. Straight plays fared even worse, with a 12 percent drop over the same period, a figure that has contributed to a whopping 33 percent rate of decline over the past decade."

I have been saying this with HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA since 2008—this latest NEA survey actually tracks a 33% decline for straight play attendance in 10 years. Biggest drop across all arts.

Dynamic pricing does not and did not work.
Tremendous ticket prices does not work.
Lying and pretending that attendance is rising will not save us.

People who should have known better have laughed knowingly at me for years and years while averting their eyes to the fires burning in their houses.

You fucking fools. Wake up. Our house is on fire.

We have to change our life.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The twenty-first night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 25th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: Sting’s coffee in my mouth, David Lynch’s radiant failure, and the insidious taint. Factcheckers omit the jokers. In Istanbul the sun was always on you. Put your genitals inside of genitals. Terrorist horses! The king can never die, the game is never won. Your chess teacher is a perverse and monstrous man. Then: a desperate hour, the ghosts of reporters past, and the skull of her dog. Kasparov’s desperation. “They want your surrender tonight.” No magic for parking. Before chicken fat and frogbreath, call the cell. If we see each other on a snowy hill, maybe we’ll eat a rabbit. “Black ice, Michael.” Staten Island. The artist and her paintings.


Linda Winer had some errors in her review, but Newsday wins by fucking up the correction, too:

"Mike Daisey, who is appearing at Joe's Pub, also performed there last spring. The theater column in Sunday's Fanfare incorrectly described this as his first New York appearance since his 2011 show "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs."

As we politely told them—I actually returned to The Public Theater in October 2012…a good seven months before last spring.

"Also, the program's disclaimer that "all stories are fiction" was incorrectly described as an insert."

I love "incorrectly described". What they mean is THERE WAS NO INSERT. BECAUSE WE FABRICATED THAT PART.

This of course makes it sound as though it is in the program somewhere…just not on an insert. But there is no such disclaimer.

Oh, journalism. How could I ever quit you?
A video review from the inimitable AndrewAndrew, downtown DJs and art mavens who have played themselves on HBO's GIRLS. Best pull quote from this delightful short video:


I can die happy.

It's also shot on location at Joe's Pub at The Public Theater, so it gives a sense of what it's like for those who have been experiencing it via podcast alone.

(Note: there is a rather larger SPOILER in this video, so know that before diving in.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The twentieth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 24th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: Mystically significant Twitter feeds, Susan Orlean is Meryl Streep is Susan Orlean, and a humbug as a trick that delights. n+1 or xojane? We love authenticity. Tilda Swinton doesn’t need to be his son anymore. It’s everything that disappointed us in the twentieth century, the die in the Magic Eight Ball floating like a corpse. “Manhattan we leave to the vampires.” The syringes of Coney Island, the nature of the Russian people, and a brief tutorial on the horrors of film acting. The bobby pin trick. These paintings make the future. Rolling back the tape and the myth of CSI Miami. Mulder and Scully and the case of the missing hand. Pugs are not supernaturally aware.

The New Yorker weighs in:

"Mike Daisey, the author of the infamous monologue “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” is in the midst of a twenty-nine-night stint at the Public’s Joe’s Pub. Each evening through Oct. 3, under the direction of his wife, Jean-Michele Gregory, he furthers an outrageous and hilarious tale, part memoir and part myth. Daisey’s subject matter, on one recent night, concerned vampire bankers; steak; Wikipedia; his best friend from high school, a risk taker obsessed with death; and a dreaded showdown with the editor of the Times at Peter Luger. Daisey, a brilliant monologuist in the tradition of Garrison Keillor, only darker and foulmouthed, is commenting on how Americans are influenced by pop culture in a way that, according to him, makes this time in history not our finest hour."

Today's poll: Should I request a correction, from "the editor of the Times" to the much more accurate "the living mythic embodiment of the Times"?

Monday, September 23, 2013

The nineteenth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 23rd, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: I was born biased, I never would have tried a tuna sandwich. A talisman of pasteboard and feathers, and the great brass bird above New York City. Loose and eccentric play. The dream of the New Yorker hotel, fixing you with a hoary eye, and dissolving into a mist of Peter Greenaway. Seattle’s apocalyptic murdering spirit—a foundation filled with garbage. The Mad Scientist and his somersaults with bowls of birdseed on the ledge. Then: a mirror stares back into you, into the deep well as a lifetime passes in a breath, the bitter moments like coffee and acid. Golems working bed and breakfasts in Vermont. Livia’s schoolwork, bags of consecrated shit, and the duel at the Rockaways. Into the nullifying sea. The black spot.

Less than two weeks remain for ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON. We've had incredible reviews and over 50,000 downloads—this is your last chance to be a part of it live!

Purchase tickets to All the Faces of the Moon
(Members of this list can use the code
DAISEY for $20 tickets.)

Here's a crazy statistic—if every person downloading the show were in the theater, we would have performed
294 sold out performances already, and had to be running for ten solid months instead of just over two weeks.

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes
Or go to and listen on the web.

You can come be part of these shows as we race to the conclusion of this theatrical novel. Every chapter stands on its own...after all, the critics only saw a few nights, and here's what they thought:

This has been a life-changing experience for us, a marathon where we have been writing a huge novel in real-time. I'd like to thank so many people who have been in the theater night after night, and listening from all over the world. We could not be doing this without you.

Be seeing you,



Created and Performed by Mike Daisey
Directed by Jean-Michele Gregory
Paintings by Larissa Tokmakova
Assistant Directed by Tessa Siegel
Photographs by Sabrina Fonseca

The Final Performances:

Sept 23 - The Untitled

Sept 24 - Temperance Under the Gun

Sept 25 - The Devil Always Plays to a Draw

Sept 26 - Paying the Rent in the Tower of Song

Sept 27 - Saturn Is a Father Devouring His Children

Sept 28 - If You Wish Upon a Star You Will Regret It

Sept 29 - The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Sept 30 - The Sun Is a Blind and Burning Thing

Oct 1 - A Flaw in Your Judgment

Oct 2 - The World Is More Than We Will Ever Know

Oct 3 - Last Call

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The eighteenth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 22nd, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: the Maine spiritualist, marriage as a kind of exquisite torture, and ink made of blood and regret. White cloth and hot metal ribbons in the uncanny valley. There are police who take children away. The clockwork man with radium eyes, and the dance of the seven sweater veils. Spiders get better mileage, pneumatic tubes through the East River, and the monument uncarved. Sleeping in your old bed, your old life. Gibbs hearing the voice in the desert. The paint crackling, falling from every car. Livia dreaming, we are divided against ourselves, and meeting your other half. The fake Eiffel Tower, the bodies, the thin red threads. “I can’t tell you anything you don’t already know.” The canvases.

NYC Top Comedy Choices for Sunday 9/22/13 | Best New York Comedy:

Why is genius yarn-spinner Mike Daisey telling 29 new stories in a row (working off mere one-page outlines) in a 29-night, 44-hour monologue? Part of the answer appears near the start of Show #10: “I’ve always been willing to throw myself right off a cliff. It’s a beautiful feeling to know that below awaits the water or the rocks. When you’re suspended in that high arc above the brilliant blue, for a moment you are released, you are free…because you could live or die. I crave that.” If you crave seeing that, catch Mike live at Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette Street, between East 4th Street & Astor Place); or experience this epic adventure at your convenience for FREE via iTunes.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The seventeenth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 21st, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: The half-life of McDonald’s French fries, fish bones in the ice cream, and the shifting story. We are pink slime, it’s the opposite of a light switch, and rolling the hard six. Full instructions on how to get to Luna Park. Don’t lose your ticket and the horrors of the pastrami. The illustrated man, be careful who you let tell your fortune while held up by moonlight. The Jungian mermaid know how to take off her clothes, skin, bones. A hall of mirrors, the trunk of many things, and the master of circuses. Then: unlucky New York in the dark and a safe word takes you to bed. The charge in the foundation. The zeppelin over Chinatown. “I still love you.” “I know.”

Tarrare - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Tarrare (c. 1772 – 1798), sometimes spelled Tarare, was a French showman and soldier, noted for his unusual eating habits. Able to eat vast amounts of meat, he was constantly hungry; his parents could not provide for him, and he was turned out of the family home as a teenager. He travelled France in the company of a band of thieves and prostitutes, before becoming the warm-up act to a travelling charlatan; he would swallow corks, stones, live animals and whole apples. He then took this act to Paris where he worked as a street performer.

On the outbreak of the War of the First Coalition Tarrare joined the French Revolutionary Army. With military rations unable to satisfy his large appetite, he would eat any available food from gutters and refuse heaps but his condition still deteriorated through hunger. Suffering from exhaustion, he was hospitalised and became the subject of a series of medical experiments to test his eating capacity, in which, among other things, he ate a meal intended for 15 people in a single sitting, ate live cats, snakes, lizards and puppies, and swallowed an eel whole without chewing. Despite his unusual diet, he was of normal size and appearance, and showed no signs of mental illness other than what was described as an apathetic temperament.

General Alexandre de Beauharnais decided to put Tarrare's abilities to use, and he was employed as a courier by the French army, with the intention that he would swallow documents, pass through enemy lines, and recover them from his stool once safely at his destination. Unfortunately for Tarrare, he could not speak German, and on his first mission was captured by Prussian forces, severely beaten and underwent a mock execution before being returned to French lines.

Chastened by this experience, he agreed to submit to any procedure that would cure his appetite, and was treated with laudanum, tobacco pills, wine vinegar and soft-boiled eggs. The procedures failed, and doctors could not keep him on a controlled diet; he would sneak out of the hospital to scavenge for offal in gutters, rubbish heaps and outside butchers' shops, and attempted to drink the blood of other patients in the hospital and to eat the corpses in the hospital morgue. After falling under suspicion of eating a toddler he was ejected from the hospital. He reappeared four years later in Versailles suffering from severe tuberculosis, and died shortly afterwards, following a lengthy bout of exudative diarrhoea.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The sixteenth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 20th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: The sin of ordering salmon, smoothing it out, a nominal truce, and needing to call the Small Man. The Future of Storytelling™ with the CEO of Burberry. An unlimited number of specialty taco shacks. The place where the drywall rots, tainted by the touch of the sea. Phil’s hands shaking. Always going to Venezuela. The world ends over and over and over. The filth of Coney Island, mangos on sticks, and the Cherry Lane Theater as a place to murder your marriage. Jack and Mary Jane on the boardwalk. Mushrooms, silver coins, and barbed wire. Luna Park, where only the dead can go and it’s 1929 forever. The lights go out, the name on our lips.


Mike Daisey's All The Faces Of The Moon: This Is How We Make Our Fortune
Michael Mayhew - I've managed to keep up with Mike Daisey's...:

Thirty or more years back there was a BBC series called Danger: UXB! The series dealt with a London bomb defusing crew during the blitz in WW2. UXB stands for "unexploded bomb." The thing about that show that just seared itself into my brain was that they had this brilliant trick of setting up characters, showing you their home life, getting you invested in their goals and worries and aspirations, and then, after 3 or 4 episodes, blowing them up. Very quickly I came to realize that they could, and would, kill off ANY of the characters. As a kid who had grown up on American television - Star Trek, The 6 Million Dollar Man, various cop shows, where you could count on seeing the same faces week after week - I was shocked and horrified. Danger:UXB! was insanely suspenseful.

These days TV shows are more likely to kill or injure a main character then when I was a kid, but it seldom carries the shock of a random event. Usually you see it coming.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that I wonder now if Mike Daisey was also a fan of Danger: UXB!

The fifteenth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 19th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: Before the invention of bread, before the ice, when the cycle was written into us. The Milky Way casts a shadow and David Bowie plays a schnauzer. All dogs dream. Jean-Michele, the greatest of her age. The camera assembly in six motions. Then: a hierarchy of terrible things, the boys want what they want, and a sacrifice sent. Character is the only human gift, cursing is addictive, and The Williamsburg Fade. Budapest. Gay sex fantasia. The way a bear shakes a gerbil. “You have a dark fate. Do what you can.” George and Elaine. 8:36 on the clock. The ladder in the sky. The royal moon. There’s a seat at the table.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Curtain Call: Big Voice |

All the Faces of the Moon is theater at its most essential magic; storytelling that challenges us to stage the scenes in our minds. When Mary Jane — who you realize is probably not a real server at Joe’s Pub after Daisey places her in the Dionysian cult of women devoted to “the Big Guy” who presides over a literally endless bacchanal party (first referenced several monologues before) — fetches glasses to pour a couple of bourbons, Daisey notes: they were a little dirty but no one cared. He is a master of rhythm and volume, communicating familiar feeling so deeply it penetrates us. As he describes Mary Jane hiding in a closet for hours, finally peeking through a slight opening to seeing herself in profile in the next room, we are not only mesmerized children listening to ghost stories around a campfire, we have become Mary Jane. (Moon #12: Mars is a Soldier Whose Hands Are Red, Sept. 16.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The fourteenth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 18th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: The Whigs are dead, pressure cookers, and a penny an issue back in the day. Then: Boss Tweed dyspeptic, William Randolph Hearst knowing the score, and the Herald won by the talking picture. Foreign extemp, how we whore out our mythologies, and writing as a frozen form of thinking. Emily Dickinson, the Cape Elizabeth kids, and the Christian Science Monitor. In a grey box you clip and own and know your facts. Oppose German reunification. Her long hair and her scrawled letters, speaking in the darkness. Mythological climatology. History hangs around our neck like a noose. There are things in the darkness, and they’re us.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The thirteenth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 17th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: The long beach at the end of time, seeing yourself in the cracks and fissures of dust and shadows. You never knew me. Jean-Michele as midwife. The ritual thump against your door in response. Whips and welts and the pool cue. The horrors of respectability, learning to levitate feathers with hate, cursing softly and staking out the bodies. Waking up horribly and deliciously out of phase. Wikipedia is always right. The one where Carla finally breaks up with Nick. His hand like a Tandoori oven. The pleasures, mysteries, and ineffable wonder that is Peter Luger’s, where I am marbled and delicious and in danger.


Monday, September 16, 2013

The twelfth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 16th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: Duality is a human foible, eleven dimensions curdling, experiencing a clear signal, and Sad Carl painting in his big Red Book. Then: the citadel and the bazaar, the Public Theater’s lobby as Krypton, ninjas of gorgeous worldliness with huge dark eyes and love or hate but nothing else. Three vigils. Theater school as training to be human, and the Frosted Flakes scene from Ibsen. Your own private couch, the excoriated park, the blessing visible. One hundred photos to call her. Getting little girls drunk, the wards breaking. “Oh. Good. That’s what I figured.”

Perhaps David Sedaris Was Right

Interesting tidbit in New York Magazine this week—they did a roundup of commentary on their site, and
they say this in describing my position after the TAL retraction:

“In the aftermath of that retraction, Daisey made few friends by taking an ambivalent position—apologizing for his falsehoods but arguing that theater might serve a higher investigative purpose than journalism”

Part of this I would agree with—I did make few friends.

But most of this is simply wrong.

I’ve never said theater holds a higher purpose than journalism—I’ve always been loathe to compare two wildly different human endeavors, especially so reductively. It’s like asking which gets better mileage: a walrus or an apple tart?

And I *definitely* have never said that theater holds a higher INVESTIGATIVE purpose than journalism. That doesn’t make sense—in a world where there are very few pieces of theater that overlap with journalism at all, I have no idea why anyone would believe I hold that position.

No one is waiting for Cirque du Soliel to replace NPR’s news division. (Though that would be

I certainly have never felt that my own work had a “higher investigative purpose” than journalism. Back when the NYT investigative piece came out after my initial TAL episode, some people wondered if I was upset that I wasn’t credited in some way—a large number of journalists contacted me and urged me to make a fuss.

Jim Romenesko asked me how I felt, and
I answered then:

“I’ve been telling this story nightly for eighteen months, and I’m absolutely thrilled that the NYT is doing this reporting. It’s what I’ve been hoping for — that journalists would dig in and pull this story out by its roots, and the NYT has done that here.

I’m a monologist, and not a journalist in any traditional sense. I see our roles as utterly complementary –journalism reports the facts that fill our world, and I tell stories that create connections that make audiences engage in a human way...

As a monologist, I’m passionate about stories told fully and deeply, so there can be a way for us to see the truth in a human way. The NYT’s work on this series does that magnificently, and they deserve all the credit for their hard work. I think it’s a great day when a work of art and a piece of journalism can both be in the public sphere affecting change in their own ways. More than anything else, I am grateful to the reporters who are telling this story because when I speak from the stage I feel less alone.”

You’ll notice that my fundamental positions on the roles of journalism and theater are identical here, before the scandal, as they actually are today.

Why would New York Magazine summarize my position in such a clearly wrongheaded way? I think it’s just people writing the story they think they already know.

Paul Raeburn, a media critic at Knight Tracker,
wrote a piece this week on the occasion of my very positive New York Times review for ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, which he found upsetting. He said:

“One would like to think Daisey would pay a price for his crime, but apparently that's not the case…From what I see in the promotional material, Daisey's new show doesn't claim to be journalism. So we can't accuse him of recidivism. But we shouldn't let him off for good behavior. He hasn't shown any.”

The punitive language is a tell—much like our current correctional system, there’s nothing correctional about the journalistic establishment. He passes judgment without awareness of my
widely-disseminated public apology, or my revising of AGONY/ECSTASY to be 100% factchecked, or the giving of that work away for free so others can perform it.

It's as if he didn't do any research at all, after reading the review and feeling pissed…though that's impossible, as he's a media critic.

It’s also an interesting universe where journalists get to decide who has a voice. After all, he appears to be clear that I work in the theater, but that doesn’t seem to stop Mr. Raeburn from feeling journalists should get to decide when and if I’m allowed to speak.

The fact is that I’m not a journalist in any conventional sense, and never have been. Mr. Raeburn and his colleagues do not get to vote on whether Michael Moore, Louis CK, or Stephen King should be allowed to speak, and they don’t get to vote on me, either.

In fact, even if I *was* a journalist, they *still* wouldn’t get to vote. If Mr. Raeburn disagrees, I would let him know to get to work and begin the purges immediately of all the "impure" journalists, perhaps starting with FOX NEWS.

And maybe there’s a deeper element in both these stories hidden along this thread.

David Sedaris was asked about the TAL retraction a few months ago, and said that he thought, more than anything else, the scale and hostility of the reaction had to do with the death of print journalism.

I don’t entirely agree with that, and I want to be clear that I think people were entitled to be pissed. But the hunger of media journalists to actually nail someone might have more to do with their inability to actually enforce ethical boundaries within their own eroding and transforming profession.

And New York Magazine’s strange assertion that I believe that “theater might serve a higher investigative purpose than journalism” might make more sense if seen through the lens of a fundamental insecurity.

Paul Raeburn and I tussled a little on Twitter, and after going back and forth he posted a new piece with our discussion in it. He ended saying:

“Daisey is arguing that he's done enough to absolve himself, and he might be right.”

I’m not actually arguing that I’ve “absolved” myself. I just think that for many journalists their profession works like America’s correctional system…so there’s no way in those frameworks to express regret, learn, and grow. It’s punitive only.

But I am not a journalist. So I’m not asking for their absolution because fundamentally I don’t need it from them.

And the fact that I never will may be part of their insecurity.

The eleventh night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 15th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: Kathy’s dream is the stub of a ticket lost in your pockets. Turkey legs, the olden faith of Weight Watchers, and flirting for water pumps. Beware black ice, a hand of all royals, and the black spot twice. Then: Zuccotti Park two years later, the goldfish turning to glass and steam, and Peter Falk’s glass eye. Finding her camera. They say the moon is a dead world, the moon without which we wouldn’t be here. Ground yourself. Accept protection. A vicious man is trying to smile. We are fishing on a dark pier in the middle of the night, and holding handfuls of the red rich clay.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The tenth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 14th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: The etymology of lovers throwing themselves off of cliffs. Jean-Michele’s dreams breathing in the dark. The windows to the east cracking. The end of the neverending party: the dead room tone, the wolf dung and tax forms. Everything you owe will be due. Fathers and sons and anger and silence. On the waterbed where he lay, the blood like a river, like a dream. Even the great ones were little boys once, and seventeen bottles run bad. Investment bankers are vampires, the mouth on your sex, and the horrors of Saint Louis. Sabrina’s night with the person who is free, and watching the ladder that climbs the sky. 3:47 3:47 3:47 3:47


Friday, September 13, 2013

The ninth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 13th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: The unluckiest day, the problem with unicorns, the death of wonder, and how yesterday’s black spot became today’s lump. A primer on how to negotiate with the Mechanical Turk, a soul in a dirty half-full Poland Springs bottle, and an ulcer that listens to God. Bleeding bodies under the rugs, the ubiquitous French bistro, a Gygaxian professor, and the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Neither by nor for but *of*. The text that says GET OUT GET OUT. The wine runs sour, the coins turn black.


The eighth night of Mike Daisey's 29-night live theatrical novel, ALL THE FACES OF THE MOON, recorded September 12th, 2013 at the Public Theater. Tonight: stained brown shag carpeting and old litterbox smell, the French Foreign Legion of Found Furniture, and a sofa forged of walrus bone and mink pelts. Then Reverend Billy and His Pompadour of Truth, the glass eye on the red cube, and the Kindle’s shitty shitty eye-raping fonts. The sacred ritual of New York brunch, Frankie’s French Toast, and All Soul’s Day where we heard them where the walls were thin.