Friday, May 12, 2006

39 Things I've Been Meaning to Say

  1. This blog started a little over a year ago when I was out in Juneau doing columbinus at Perseverance Theatre – a wonderful venue and a long overdue knock-me-on-my-ass adventure. That’s where “tundratastic” and “arcticactor” came from. At the time, the blog was just a way to keep friends and family posted on the whole trip. Somewhere in there, I stopped posting about nature and started posting about Theatre In General. I‘ve met a ton of brilliant colleagues and reconnected with a handful of old friends and enemies through this blog.
  2. No, that’s not meant as a flattering preamble for resignation.
  3. I’m trying to build a new one from the ground up – sifting through existing templates and trying to learn CSS and Flash at the same time. Ideally, it’ll be connected to a larger site that consolidates/organizes all my work.
  4. I’m in NYC for the time being. I don’t know for how long. As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t changed residence until my books are with me. It would take some pretty solid footing to commit to hauling my crap up the coast. So I don’t know right now.
  5. Columbinus has been a completely different enterprise up here and because of the circumstances of my employment, I was doubly-unprepared for it. After being dropped at the last minute – and after I had made peace with the whole mess (psychologically, financially, etc.), PJ called and asked if I was free to re-join the project at NYTW about two days before tech was to begin. Yes, crazy. I swear to god, every time I think this play is Done, it comes back to life. The state theatre of Turkey wants to produce it. Yes, Turkey.
  6. If a New York Actor got a Turkish production credit, would he-she put it under the “Regional” section of their resume? I have received conflicting answers for that one.
  7. New York City. Ever been? I hear it’s great! Just great. I haven’t been able to stray very far from the East Village since I got here. I’m staying with an old college chum who lives a few blocks from NYTW. But again: because I had to come here so quickly, I had to bring work with me. So between a rather intense preview period (3 weeks, with re-writes and re-blocking and re-teching every day until we opened), the bucket-load of work I brought with me, and the basic rigors of doing this calorie-burner of a play eight times a week, I haven’t been able to stop and simply check out the city.
  8. That said, here’s a warning: the next few entries will probably be peppered with all sorts of virginal observations about NY-squared. I doubt my first impressions will be exotic for anyone who’s ever been (or currently lives) there. Just so ya know.
  9. Keith Nobbs was going to play Eric here at NYTW. Yes, the man has a Name, but it’s one that he’s earned over and over again. His rep as one of NYC’s best and brightest is rivaled only by his rep as an all-around quality guy. I’ve actually had the privilege of hanging out with him a couple times and after patching together each other’s side of the story, it was clear: neither of us were put in a position to do our best work. And both of us got screwed somewhere along the line.
  10. Please watch Keith’s forthcoming show, The Black Donnellys this fall on NBC.
  11. Here’s a picture of human consciousness from the 17th century.
    Free Image Hosting at
  12. Is anyone out there developing some advanced blogging annotation software? I’ve been trying to develop some in my spare time. Seriously. I think we just need a new way to track-back and organize comments. Something with logical-rhetorical rules built into it. Get to work kids!
  13. Conversation So far, NYC conversation involves the accumulation and re-appropriation of select Banter. It’s like blogging in real time with a live person – I can see the Friendster profile, the adorable coinages, the bedrock of snark, the hit-counter. No subject is ever exhausted to satisfaction; pesky verbal hyperlinking sends a discussion about Darfur into an exegesis of the latest Vince Vaughn movie. And back again.
  14. Example. I listened to two young women on two different occasions tell me their life story. I remember trying earnestly to interject with an autobiographical detail or two. I think I made it clear that I was born in Detroit, for one. Beyond that, I didn’t get another full sentence into the mix for a good forty minutes. It was “Excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom.” I was surprised to discover that one of these women told a mutual friend that she thinks we have a lot in common. Maybe we do. I don’t think she was born in Detroit, though, so I really don’t know where she made this connection.
  15. Most people I’ve met don’t want to live here. Rather, they don’t want to “end up” here. They’re here because this is where all the work is. But most of them don’t work. Still figuring that one out.
  16. I have done the following requisite NYC things:
    1. I have stepped on a live rat.
    2. I have given directions to a stranger.
    3. I have given correct directions to a stranger.
    4. I have seen every form of fresh human excretion on the street.
    5. I have attended a Party on the Upper West Side.
    6. I have had meetings.
  17. Everything is suborned to real estate: industry, status, ambition, diet, romance, exercise, opportunity, spiritual well-being, fate. Coffee consumption! My god. I swear I could make a ball-park wager as to the real estate value of the 14” X 14” square I’m using to write this. When I buy coffee, I don’t think about the coffee – I think about how much of that $1.79 goes to pay the property tax on the two-square foot nook I will occupy when I drink it.
  18. Since I’m basically homeless, I have yet to find a place that offers the following amenities for work:
    1. Comfortable chair.
    2. Ample workspace (books, papers, laptop, beverage).
    3. Light.
    4. Outlets.
    5. No techno music in the background.
    6. Decent coffee.
    7. Wi-fi access.
    8. Open 24 hours.
  19. Now, I’m sure such places exist, but I can’t find one. At least, not one that I don’t have to subscribe to or perch on some poncey waiting list. At this point, I’d settle for a place with a real chair and table. Everything else is up for negotiation.
  20. NYC has a panhandler to match each of John Hogeman’s 700 Names. They’re more enterprising and courteous than DC panhandlers, I must say.
  21. Strange though: there are no change machines here. Now, I used to work in Potomac, MD – one of the absurdly wealthy neighborhoods in the DC metro region. The local banks and supermarkets had change machines. I don’t get it. NYC has a vast underground penny-nickel-dime economy – one that I was forced to participate in last week. So what’s the story here? If you’re only remaining assets include a hefty bag of change, three rare Balinese stamps, and two theatre paychecks that have yet to clear … why are the banks so persnickety about converting money for you, their trusted client? Does change conversion only encourage pan-handling (or, in my case, freewheeling survival accounting tactics)? Is it another stupid NYC pride transaction? Rather than embarrass yourself once, you must embarrass yourself a dozen times at different corner bodegas, paying for a juice and an orange with nickels, while the hair-trigger cashier drums on the counter waiting for you to finish? Why do Potomac housewives have easy access to a service they never use, but Sparkmonkey, the genial and ambitious 2nd Ave bum slash freelance philosopher can’t cash in his earnings every night?
  22. NYC has a lot of blind people. More than I’ve ever seen in a big city.
  23. NYC has a lot of deaf people. Not quite as many as DC, but the figure’s up there.
  24. NYC has virtually NO mute people. Like, none. It’d reeeeeeally balance out the population.
  25. After being here for two months, I now believe that child-rearing is a selfish enterprise. If you live with nine million people, why must you create more? It’s not the kids that bug me; it’s the parents. See: Bill Hicks. I’ve been staying with two Brooklyn school teachers – two extremely generous and smart women who honestly believe that most of their students would have been better off unborn. This troubles me because I just discovered my latent paternal instincts! Damn!
  26. And, no, it’s not a class thing. Rich people need to stop having kids, too. Super-rich people need to stop pretending that effective parentage comes from having more money (Spielberg, Brangalina, et al.). Please give all the money you want to underprivileged kids, just don’t insult them by calling them your child.
  27. Ever been to Little Lichtenstein? I can’t find it on the metro map …
  28. I’ve been chewing on Walter Davis’s Manifesto for a Progressive Theatre. Please read it and comment. He categorizes emotions based on their locus to the Self – primary emotions are feelings inseparable from identity (embarrassment, envy, cruelty) while secondary emotions are feelings generated by the ego to displace anxiety and render unpleasant experience as something external (fear) or random (pity).
  29. I guess he places “guilt” as a variant of embarrassment and I have no idea what he imagines the Subject does when It isn’t resolving perpetual psychic conflict. In WED’s map, Anxiety is the irreduceable state of things, conflict is primary and harmony/resolution/integration … these are temporary departures from reality, not Reality at its most real. Interestingly enough, for a taxonomy that casts the ego and logos as twin demons, the ultimate purpose of the subject (and presumably progressive theatre) is to "reverse the control that others have over one’s psyche.”
  30. Try to avoid using the word "watchable" to describe an actor. It's not a complement. It's like saying Hopscotch was "legible." It's not insulting, either, it's just confusing.
  31. Speaking of sideways complements, I keep hearing that DC has a “credible” theatre scene. This is another weird complement that appraises nothing in particular. To be credible means … that you’ve been granted certain credentials, I guess. I’ve read and heard this adjective several times since I’ve been in NYC and I have no idea what it’s supposed to mean. Calling an artist or community of artists “credible” is like calling your lover ... I don’t know … “sentient.” Yeah. “Baby, you are the most sentient lover I’ve ever had.”
  32. Some dude at a Williamsburg café is using that line right now.
  33. I don’t know what to tell you.
  34. I just spent a week in Poughkeepsie, doing a play workshop at Vassar.
  35. Vassar has over 400 species of tree on its campus.
  36. Vassar has two coffee shops.
  37. My new computer has an iSight camera built into screen. Sometimes one of the pin-hole lights on either side of the camera will blink randomly. This creeps me out.
  38. I can take pictures of myself and do video-conferencing with this camera, which is cool. The Photo Booth program that came with the OS lets you do funhouse distortions as you take the pictures. Here’s one.

  39. Free Image Hosting at
  40. Here’s another. I almost want to set up an online dating profile just to use it.

  41. Free Image Hosting at