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.

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.