Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bowie got out of glam rock just before it became cheesy.

Yes, this has been complained about but I'm seething right now. Consumption is the American ideology. How do we solve environmental problems? Consume appropriate things? How do we wage political battles? Consume bumper stickers, or give our money so that we can provide ourselves with more consumption opportunities.

Specifically, I'm stoked about the drive to donate to the California Prop 8 political thing:

Either one, the first thing you are instructed to do is contribute. Such an extreme amount of money has been dumped into every political thing this season that blah blah blah problems could be solved with the money, I won't waste your time with describing that. I just need to share that it is sickening.

Ok, I have nothing inteligent to complain about regarding this issue. Stop giving money to everything and invest in an efficient heating system in your house, get new windows.

Oh crap, I totally just suggested directing consumption from one direction to the next.

David Bowie can sing about this stuff real nice.

I think the worst thing is that there is no ability to check this push. Next presidential election new records will be set for how much we can contribute towards one person, because the our botched system does not have safeguards against extreme campaigning. Much like the olympics will keep on having people attempting to flip FOUR times in the air instead of three. Of course, if enough athletes die in their flipping attempts, they might have to regulate that. Similarly, if people start donating their plasma to raise money for the FIGHT against anything, the system might recognize the unsustainability.

Sustainabilty has taken precedence for the word Precedent. Remeber last year when everything was without precedent? Perhaps collectively we're recognizing that most things do actually have some kind of precedent occurance.

Stop reading this blog. Vote for supreme court justices as president. Scalia/Bader Ginsburg 08!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

who knows where their tatoos are?

We really like world leaders, don't we?

Have we met any yet? If we watch Putin's Judo video, will we feel more connected to his soul (------>I'm referencing pop politics here!!<--------)?

I think if either of us were more committed internet people with less to do we could make mash-up videos of random love affairs between world leaders?

Angela Merkel and Robert Mugabe?
Hu Jin Tao and Steven Harper?
Angela Merkel and Benazir Bhutto?
Putin and Lula da Silva?
Ohhhh imagine Tony Blair and Zapatero? That'd be so cute and vanilla.
For all the straight people out there reading this: Sarah Palin and Sarah Palin?
Oooo once Tzipi Livni comes on the scene there'll be all sorts of sexual tension between her and the next US pres. Obama and Livni? McCain and Livni?

Both fit well into ultimate female Jewish fantasies.

Please, avid internet creators, make these mash-ups now.

For my next bar mitzvah I'm going to invite every world leader. There's sort of a serious point behind this post. Trivializing all the world's elected officials in the action figure sorta way does provide me some sense of agency.


Monday, October 6, 2008


So my Dad, in that slightly joking, slightly maniacal way, told me he is anxiously awaiting the moment that people start blaming the Jews for the money problems. He prefaced this with an oft-repeated "Anti-Semitism is on the Rise, you know."

I recognize of course that indeed, exurban Colorado and suburban Ohio might have a strong undercurrent of blaming the Jews, but in general I think the public has a clear grasp on who we think we should direct our anger towards - the banks that did the lending and the credit manipulating. Politicians are trying to dumb it on the other party, but I don't know if that's really sticking with either side. Speaking for myself, I see both sides playing damaging roles.

A point of interest is the bad attitudes the blame game fosters. My dad also sent me this link/article talking about the easing of credit lending at FM & FM. -- I am really bored with all the catch phrases of this time period including Fannie and Freddie, financial crisis, meltdown, and maverick --. Those two housing lenders were somewhat motivated by the ethic of housing as a right. What's going to happen to this belief if we crawl our way out of the problems? I fear the ease with which this could slide into a group blame thrust towards the poor, and validate the ideology of poverty as a necessary component of society.

Blame is the worst, and politics seems to be so satisfied by it. George W. this is not your fault. Poor people with no ability to pay your loans, it's not your fault either. Jewish homies, it's not your fault. Corporations, it pains me to say this but it's not your fault either - for plenty of reasons. A collective sense of responsibility would be so lovely. Maybe in a month or so that can start to happen. I DO honestly look at my own capacity to learn lessons from mistakes as a beacon of possibility for the same phenomenon to occur in the American culture. I do.

Aspects of the American culture created this crisis, widespread throughout every group, ideology, village, company, nonprofit, whatever. It is the same thing that affects my age groups resistance to forming community, the same thing that ferments the political culture cleavage, example, example, example, I'm done.


Friday, October 3, 2008

the best we can do, that I can do.

Well now is as good a time as any.

The group I watched the debates with, they were ironic without empathy. Essentially, the worst of America - as you and I discussed the other night when we disagreed.

The bubbles. Perhaps it's an effect of this especially sports focused city, but they may as well have given a big crowd wave every time Biden opened his mouth, and heckled the umpire whenever Palin responded.

One woman could not stop exclaiming how bad a moderator Gwen Ifil seemed to be for refusing to chastise the Governor any time she veered away from the question in her response. Perhaps she has never seen a politician do their thing. I did not have a chance to ask.

We know that a first step towards empathy is active listening, but there was none of that in this liberalest, Jewy crowd.

Two things of special interest to me was the group's body jerk reaction to the Israel questions. I have no clue what the Governor said, all I know is that the group disagreed with her and grumbled during the Senator's response. Liberal Jews are obliged to disagree friends of Israel, and agree at the same time, for conveniences' sake.

The other thing (notice the identity politics trend) was the crowd's discomfort with the same-sex relationship question. All in attendance were shocked at her mention of the word tolerance and appalled that she would admit to supporting equitable treatment for adults who chose their partners regardless of sex. And then, noble Joe took the same position - with apparent greater discomfort and cumbersome language than the pretty lady - and it seemed to resonate far better with the -clearly- beyond tolerant audience.

---- I hope that these examples help to substantiate my argument that the bubble cleavage is far wider than the rhetoric of repair presumes. City and suburbs, Democrat and Republican, they're not listening to each other.

Of course, as I write I reflect on some possible absolving factors. The buildup of last night was obviously pressing and emotion boiling - and I certainly value the glasses of wine I consumed during the talky thing.
The party was organized by a friend who is working under the auspice of Righteous Indignation, and while RI is 501 c3 non partisan, the crowd was just living up to the title.
Maybe they all are content actually hating America.
And maybe it's just cause she was prettier than everyone in the audience.

That Governor, she sure would make a pretty VP.

Monday, July 14, 2008


David Remnick's internview on HuffPo: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/13/david-remnick-on-emnew-yo_n_112456.html

For those of you who don't know, this week's New Yorker cover features possible Muslim Terrorist and US Democratic presidential nominee Barack Hussein Obama and his wife portrayed as Taliban-style insurgents. And of course they're fist bumping, which is actually how terrorists start their foreplay.

And people, including the Obama campaign, are freaking out.

The title of the cover is "The Politics of Fear," and I'd say it was pretty obvious to me that this cartoon, expertly drawn, is meant to poke fun at the RIDICULOUS AND BIGOTED notion that Barack Obama is a terrorist.

I'm pretty disappointed, even more so because I am also not surprised at everyone's outrage. As Cher says in Moonstruck - Snap out of it! Not talking about the scary parts does not make them go away. This cover is clearly satire, and it's satirizing an effective strategy of the Right's to portray ANYONE, but especially Barack Obama, who disagrees with them as unpatriotic and therefore a terrorist.

And, I'm sorry, but anyone trying to place David Remnick and the New Yorker to the right of center is just plain ignorant SLASH in desperate, obvious need to improve their progressive image.

Excuse me, I have to go to my not-for-profit arts job and talk about how I blogged about this now.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

some thoughts on pride.

oh those fuckers.
i'm chilling out and watching Ghostbusters, and they cut the spin. bill murray just spins out of the shot and then they cut to the office.

ahem, pride.

well, i'm very proud.

i sometimes wonder what my gayness would be like if i'd thrown myself The Community upon my coming out instead of whatever it is i did instead. but i really have no idea. and obviously i did what i did and i probably wouldn't change it if i could.

but walking home from the Gansevoort today, crossing through the early hours of the parade, i did feel solidarity, comfort, pride, joy, pleasure, and calm. i like that it happens. i like that i don't have to march in it. it's enough.


the spin (it's at the end, trust me, best i could find) and other good stuff:

creation nation:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

rich, about TV -

i think that the resurgence in the popularity and quality of television has a lot to do with our generation's obsession with childhood.
this obsession is fueled by marketing, but probably created by a combination of 70's/80's wealth and selfishness as well as the realization that we will prolly not be richer (or even healthier) than our parents as well as a lot of other things.
this isn't a new though, but we haven't blogged about it, and i'm tired of the Tim Russert post being the first one i see.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert and me.

I don't know Tim Russert.
I don't feel like he's part of my family.
I don't feel like we're friends.

He was an anchor, a pundit, who was present in my life because I like how he deals with politics and current events. I found Meet the Press immensely satisfying. I trusted Tim Russert. I loved listening to him and watching him on television. And I will miss that experience immensely.

In an age of so much deception...so much bias and partisanship...it really boils down to who you trust. I trusted Tim Russert. I just did.

I don't think this is the end of an era.
But it's sad. I'm sad.
And I wonder...what happens now?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

dick and jane go to war.

read this

john mccain's daughter has written an illustrated picture book about her father's life. um, hey john-boy, i don't think that's quite how obama rallied the 18-24 bracket, but good luck and godspeed.

this is my FAVORITE part of the book:
“He didn’t get the right kind of medical care for his broken bones, and the food was really bad,” she writes, accompanied by a somber drawing of Mr. McCain, looking apprehensive if not scared, sitting on the floor in a bare corner.

oh yes, we'll certainly raise our obese children to have a healthy and realistic view of war if we stress to them that being a POW means eating airplane food.

Friday, June 6, 2008


we hate them.

i want to make amputee ribbons that have no tails.

i want to make a crane victims ribbon that isn't a ribbon at all, but rather, a big decal made to look like a hole in your car.

i'm grateful for this.

i've been thinking about this joke for a while.

Sacha's mum (that's what they have in the jolly old), one Maureen Haworth, sent her this article, which made its way to me via the emails (does anyone else long for the day of pneumatics?).

To be clear, I'm not opposed to trading your pollution credits (it seems like a natural extension of the market...highly inevitable...and vital if the whole thing is to work...but that's a whole other story). What I'm opposed to that this article pokes fun at so well is (a) the self-aggrandizing nature of this, and the marketing initiatives that are sure to follow, that only feed into our culture of selfishness and (b) trading pollution credits while you zip around in your Hummer (the last line of the article sums it up nicely).

Anyway, thanks Mrs. Haworth, wherever you are.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Risa: i'll set up the time capsule and figure out clickclack
Sent at 10:37 AM on Thursday
me: Risa, can you not refer to it with Apple's all too euphemistic name?
can you call it the wireless harddrive please?
the thought of you working on a timecapsule is unbearable
Sent at 10:40 AM on Thursday
Risa: i put nina in it
while she's still alive
let's call it the catbox
me: done.
i mean it makes sense
cause it's a little box
but we can't call it a little box
cause you have so many boxes
but it's gotta be some kind of box
and really, if it's got that much space, you should be able to fit the cat inside the box.
so - catbox,.
can I post this to the blog?
Sent at 10:46 AM on Thursday

Risa is busy. You may be interrupting.

coffee shops.

I'm at an inspiring little coffee shop in Evanston, Pick a Cup
Literally, you order a drink for here, you pick the cup. Hilarious. And it is mish-moshed enough to remind me of the collective, 60 main

Holy crap?! the website for 60 main is all pretty! way to go npcc. And way to go being the first hit when I INTERNET SEARCH 60 main.

Did you all know that Chinese people are economically expendable? This article was a stark reminder that we do not live in China. China is not America, because China feels no compulsion to declare war on earthquakes.

Next week's poll will determine the victor in the war on earthquakes.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Birthday Gift to All of You

BunB's "That's Gangsta" featuring Sean Kingston

Rich, that survey, fucking awesome.

Euphemism for youTube: TV.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Strangerer

I saw a play that deals with this, called The Strangerer - based on the Camus book which I have not read. And the company, Theater Oobleck, is doing that smart 'paywhatyoucan' strategy. At the box office I credited Radiohead with the idea, and they made it clear that I was wrong.

Regardless, this play was FANTASTIC. The best theater I've seen in Chicago. It's I guess the subject of the book, retold through the context of the Bush/Kerry debate in Florida, moderated by Jim Lehrer. Unfortunately, my problem that I have to got to disclose is this ridiculous preference for political art. I'm a total sucker. So while I think this really was stand alone good theater, I will recluse myself from giving too much about it. Bias - it only exists when you want it to!

I'm hungry.

Have you developed a euphemism for youtube yet? We need to euphemize it. Please think of something.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Not done yet.

So Risa, I'm not done blogging. I think I was intimated by our different approaches and that turned me away...but maybe I'll be more consistent if I just stick to my intentions.

And I don't need to explain things either, right? I think I'll feel better if I can relax feeling compelled to explain details of conversations we have on the phone. As we've discussed countless times, everybody knows what everybody is saying half the time anyway, our sentences are so repetive that we may as well just thing thing thing thing thing thing.


I've been way on the excitement about the skill breakdown of empathy through motivational interviewing. I haven't felt this way since college, but for the past week eveything has been connecting on an intellectualy splendid plane.

If everybody just learns how to do this, learns how to meet people where they're at, we can create a sex-positive, drug-positive, pluralistic, empathetic world.

I wonder where Barack Obama would fall on a sexuality and gender scale? And what his rating on the purity test is?

oh man....oh man.... I would put money on the fact that he has 'experimented'.

*** I apoligize for my use of hyperbole in this post. Hyperbole is gross.***

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

DTWOF #527

It's here!

Alison Bechdel says she's invoking a hiatus to finish her next graphic memoir.
It's fine.
I'm fine with it.
It's fine.
I believe in breaks, I think they're good, distances gives us perspective. She's not obligated to me in any way. She's not making a living from the strips, she needs to eat, this is fine. This is her right.



Seriously, Alison, as much as I'll miss the strip, as happy as I'll be when it returns, good luck with all your projects...have some fun too dammit...and I look forward to whatever comes next.

Goodbye, Mr. Rauschenberg

I took Bob Rauschenberg as a hero in college. I think, originally, I just really loved his work. His pieces, like so much of the art I love, appeared to me as something I had always dreamed of...but never seen...and then they were there. Then, the more I learned about him, specifically his collaboration with John Cage and Merce Cunningham, he became a figure of possibility for me. He represents a lack of limitation; an artist can do anything with his/her chosen medium/ia. And yet, despite the infinite meanings they convey, his work is tightly controlled, limited in the best way. Each piece has its rules, its subjective meaning for Rauschenberg, which may or may not be conveyed to us as he meant them, but surely SOMETHING is conveyed.

Thank you, Mr. Rauschenberg.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Using Sontag's On Photography for a paper about Weegee's Naked City, came across the word quiddity:
The photographer’s ardor for a subject has no essential relation to its content or value, that which makes a subject classifiable. It is, above all, an affirmation of the subjects thereness, its rightness (the rightness of a look on a face, of the arrangement of a group of objects), which is the equivalent of the collector’s standard of genuineness; its quiddity – whatever qualities make it unique (77).

Sometimes words are great because they are onomatopoeitic.
Sometimes words are great because they sound like nonsense but convey a definition you've been looking to signify with one word for quite sometime.

Quiddity, for me, goes into the latter category.

Oh language, you're so terribly, terribly flawed, and yet...

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Cult of the Impossible

When I was 20 years old, after my sophomore year of college, I took part in the SITI Company's summer intensive, which takes place every May/June at my college - Skidmore College.

At some point during this summer, some member of the SITI Co., maybe Anne, maybe someone else, forgive my faulty memory, imparted unto me the idea of the "intention of the impossible." Which I have taken to mean is the goal of all theater.

Mind you, I do mean the INTENTION of the impossible, and not the brining of this intention to fruition, for that truly is, as the phrase suggests, IMPOSSIBLE.

You do not become a Jet when you act the part in West Side Story; Peter Pan does not exist and, sadly, no one can fly without the aid of mechanics. You simply do not, from curtain to curtain, become another person - your chromosomes and heart defects and gap-toothed grins stay, relatively speaking, as they are, as they have been from the day you were born.

HOWEVER, you can lie. You can say you are thin when you are fat, you can say you are tall when you are short, and you can say you are a man when you are a woman. And if you say it with complete intention, if, as any good con knows, you believe your own lie first and foremost, then others will believe it too. Simply put - if you intend the impossible, others will achieve it for you out of sheer belief.

But let me toss you a slight curve ball:
When you train with the SITI Company, as I was remembering on the subway today, and bear in mind I haven't trained in some years, and as I have already proven, memory often fails, but as I remember, this idea of the intention of the impossible is part and parcel of Suzuki and Viewpoints training as well. But here's the thing that got me puzzling on the subway: Suzuki is approached with zealot-like exactitude, that seems to beg you, as the author of your training, not to intend the impossible but to actually achieve it. And so I recall getting caught up in not being able to do it "right," which is indeed impossible, and so I don't think I ever performed as well as I could.

I guess what I'm really talking about it is that it does you no good to worry over being right. Impossibility is an arationality (cheers, Professor Stone-Richards) that we approach but never achieve in theater, and we build a rational system off this intention. So too, perhaps, in all walks of life. Do not fret over your rightness, for you are bound to be wrong...most of the time. Open yourself to the very impossibility that you gain more truth in wrongness than rightness.

Looney Tunes' The Rabbit of Seville

Salvador Dali & Luis Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou

Banana Bag and Bodice's The Sewers

Monday, April 28, 2008

best real thing ever...

People amaze me.

I don't know if this is a joke.
I don't know if it is the result of intoxication.
All I know is that Sacha found it on Craigslist, and it's hilarious...and intelligent...and hilarious.

Friday, April 25, 2008

so many choices...

Donald's recent post got me thinking about this issue.

Here's what I don't quite understand, generally speaking why do we do things that we know are bad for us?

We smoke, we eat poorly, we don't exercise, we drive drunk, we cross without looking both ways...some of those bad decisions, when made in moderation, are entirely manageable, some become unmanageable the moment we start making them.

I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to be good all the time, and then we're stressed out when we make an inevitable mistake, and then we let it all go to shit.

The issue then becomes not so much about eating a 540 calorie Big Mac, but about the disconnect between our American belief that we can achieve perfection and the multitude of choices made available to us that make achieving that belief, which we think is part and parcel of being American, available to us...and also totally impossible.

Glad I solved that problem. Off to deal with the Middle East now.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

DTWOF episode #526!

No time to really comment, but you can read it here.

The panel with Raffi and Stella and the moms in the car is my FAVORITE.
Simultaneously making fun of and legitimizing rhetoric.

EDIT - link fixed. sorry about that folks.

Dear Rich,

On the occasion of having just watched Tracy Letts' August Osage County, I submit the following ideas:

1.) Art is NOT universal. It is, actually, entirely specific being the product of one person's subjective interpretation of one part of a supposed collective reality, which I would also like to assert is really their subjective reality.

2.) What do I mean by art is not universal it is specific? Art deals with a specific story, that is, an interpretation, based on one person's specific life experience sometimes in regard to one moment of this specific life experience...sometimes in regards to several or the entire life lived to the moment that the work was made public. We like to think that art has some universal meaning -- that great art has one meaning that EVERYONE can understand...even though it might also have a multitude of other meanings that only one or a few people can understand...we yearn for art to have one universal message, thus making it, great art. This is bullshit. Sometimes everyone thinks that they think what everyone else thinks and therefore art is universal. But really, that's impossible. You can get there to a certain extent, PERHAPS, but not 100% and therefore it's impossible. Sometimes the audience agrees, or thinks they agree, with the artist. We think Shakespeare was saying a thing and we think everyone knows what he is saying, so his work has some universal significance. No. I'm not saying it's bad (which is kind of useless, considering if you think it's good then it's good just as if I think it's bad, then it's bad), I'm not saying it is not important, I'm just saying that not even Shakespeare is universal. Because we don't know what Shakespeare was trying to do - we don't even know if he is one person - and furthermore, what does it matter what he was trying to do? The structuralists and the post-structuralists and pretty much most theorists, have taught us that we create as we interpret - just like the artist did when he painted that girl he loved or wrote that play about the time in Vietnam. We interpret that play or that book and it gains meaning for us, and therefore, begins again anew. Because it begins for us. Because we didn't know it before, and now we do, and it has added to our life, and therefore changed our life. And we want not to be alone, so we say to our friend - did this book/move/symphony/etc. make you feel this way and do you think it means yes? And our friend says yes it did and yes it does yes, and then it's universal. But it's not. Because we are not our friend. Our friend, even if they agree with us, agrees with us for different reasons, or might choose to use different words. We are not the same as our friend. We are experiencing the same thing called the Mona Lisa, but the Mona Lisa is a different thing for each of us...and it was different for Da Vinci and also Dan Brown.

2.1) Art is also not universal because art ALWAYS gives us the OPPORTUNITY to reflect. Our lives - subjective or collective - do not ALWAYS give us this OPPORTUNITY. Nor do we always take it. Moreover, not all art makes it easy for us to reflect. This might mean the art is bad, or it might mean we do not like the art, or it might mean we see very little of ourselves in it. But I do think that --- wait. Here's what I think: if you like the art, you see yourself in it. If you do not like the art, you do not. I also think pretty much everyone likes everything a little. This is sympathy - liking things a little, even though you don't want to. Or wait is that empathy? What the fuck is sympathy? I have no idea.
Continuing on: if art gives us the opportunity to reflect on our lives it is not universal because we do not all have the same life. Ah! You (I don't mean you-Rich, I mean you-stranger...but it could be you-Rich too...but it doesn't have to be and I wanted to leave the option open for you, for both of you, for all of you) say we do, I say we don't, we disagree. This is a fundamental disagreement. The nice thing is, it doesn't need to come to blows. Because I might change my mind. Or you might. Or we both might. That is okay. Because we are meant to change. We are meant to add to our lives. Subtracting is much harder. I do not actually think it is possible. Obviously to forget is not to subtract because we remember. So perhaps people with neurological disorders that actually prevent them from remembering subtract. I think that might be true. The possibility of that happening to me frightens me.

OK. That's all that I can write on that for now. I'm not going to edit it, by the way. I want it to remain in its flawed state. I want to correct it later. Mess leaves room for change. I was writing about that in the Scheib post.

So what does this have to do with August Osage County?
I don't care to write too specifically about this play. Yes, it was extremely well constructed by the playwright and acted by the actors...and I imagine directed by the director (because if the director had messed it up, I'm not sure I would have understood it as I think the job of the director is to convey the words on the page to us in the audience). And it was well-designed. And I do not mean to sound like I am writing any of those people off - I am not! I'm just not interested in writing a review that points to those things. That is for someone else to do. But all those people helped me have this very moving experience, and for that I am entirely grateful. More so than I can say.

What I want to say about August Osage County is this: I loved it without question until the part where Karen's fiance molests Jean...and Jean leaves with her father and argues that it's not a big deal and it is implied that maybe she wanted Karen's fiance to try and have sex with her...and that's pretty much where I started to question the morality of the text. And then I realized that the play was not trying to make a universal moral statement. It was trying to tell me a specific story, and that story was allowing me to question the idea of consent. You might see the play and disagree - you might say Tracy Letts is sexist and reactionary. I would disagree because even if I do believe that Karen's fiance was manipulating Jean (and I do) and doesn't get punished for it, it doesn't matter - what matters is that sometimes young women are molested by older men and then in court someone says they were asking for it. And to put an analogous situation to this on stage and force me to think about it, to decide where I stand - this is what matters. And also because this play was not about balance. It was not about good things happening to good people or bad things happening to bad people - it was about things happening to people and also people happening to things. And life is a lot more like that.

Right and wrong are such dangerous lies. If enough people believe that right is right it is often beneficial to create a system that allows for the circumstance of being right to be repeated, but we should also allow for this system and that rightness to change. And we do not. And that is a major problem. Because people do change. And so too does the environment in which those outdated systems remain active and therefore detrimental to the benefit of society.

A work of art brings us to action, to change, it does not allow us to stay complacent, no matter how right we are, no matter how comfortable. That is what I have come to believe about art right now. That is what I need to believe.

With love,

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Hey, we haven't talked about the Pope at all. All sorts of amazing things about this Pope. I'm a bit frustrated by his enthusiasm for the President, because I do have such strongly favorable feelings about this Pope. Ratzinger, after all, is empathetic and absolutely void of irony. He knows better.

Can we talk more about things that lack irony?

Dear Risa and readers, what else is not ironic?
The Pope Mobile IS ironic, of course.
Every edible thing is ironic.

More to come...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Risa speaks! May 3rd.

Hey readers,

I'm speaking at Brooklyn College's first ever graduate English conference on May 3. For a full schedule and stuff, click here.

There are some really interesting presentations, and a great keynote address.
I hope some of you will come support us. I'm really invested in raising the profile of Brooklyn's program, and making it a more intellectual, more focused environment for learning.


Monday, April 14, 2008

james carville and mary matlin turn me on.

they do.

i'm a big "meet the press" fan. i just really enjoy watching it; i don't always think it's good, i don't always agree with the rhetoric, and i don't always see my viewpoint being represented, but i do always enjoy watching it...and arguing with it and agreeing with it. ESPECIALLY if james carville and mary matlin are on.

this sunday's episode had some particularly smart talking about why and how hillary's campaign was managed as atrociously as it was. give it a whirl:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

blog-flavored-blog blog post

I had one of those New York days today, the good kind.
Oh, I can already hear you - "how is it a 'New York' day, you can have that day anywhere!? Shut up."

Well, I suppose if I had performed the same actions in another city it would be a great Atlanata/Seattle/London/Dubai day. But it happened here, and actually I think there was an intrinsically New York characteristic to it all...even if that is only because of some myth about what New York is...which is another topic, for another time.

The days started with a spot of sleeping in, followed by lunch with Shoni at Good Enough to Eat.
See there's Shoni to the left after I stole her soul with by BlackBerryCamera. This is not a fair photo of her, but I'm trying to make the blog more visually stimulating.
Good Enough to Eat is delicious. I had the turkey hash and coffee. I really enjoyed it. Any New Yorkers reading this? You prolly been to GETE, but if you haven't, you should check it out.
I got there at 12, and the deal when there aren't any available tables is that you wait outside. There's a little sign on a podium that says "please wait on-line to be served" [sic]. Shoni was late, and I had to give up a table, which pissed me off, but THEN, disregarding any grammarian discourse, here's what the crunchy folks with no fashion sense in back of me said:
GirlHippie: Only in NYC would you see a sign like that.
GuyHippie: Oh I know, because everyone is online all the time on their BlackBerries.
GirlHippie: No, it's because in NYC you always have to be on top of everything.
They then proceeded to step on my heels as they read the menu over my shoulder...honestly folks, if you don't like it here, leave. And don't immediately contradict yourselves after you make lame generalizations about an entire city based on a restaurants rules about how to get seated. To be sure, I'm aware I'm making a generalization about what New York as a great city because I had some nice eggs and walked around with my friend and talked about theater and made sarcastic jokes, but c'est la blog.

Here's a photo I took with MY BlackBerry, loudly proclaiming "It's for my blog!":

Then Shoni and I had the delicious lunch. Shoni runs The Shalimar and works in programming at PS122. The Shalimar is linked on the blog roll as "this theater company Risa really likes." Mark your calendars for their benefit on May 17th! Please come support them, please. They work their asses off to make very entertaining, topical, devised theater. As I told Shoni today, one of my greatest pleasures working at chashama has been getting to know The Shalimar.

After lunch, Shoni and I strolled downtown through the park and over to Rock Center. Lunch followed by walk on sunny day is enough to make it a great NYC day IMHO, but no, Shoni and I are pretty badass, so we went to a tasting at Morrel's for Camitz. Camitz might make you go: why fuck with perfectly good vodka? Trust me, s'worth it. This stuff is DELICIOUS. And a perfect addition to any bougey-licious day in NYC. Morrel's has a pretty nice selection of wines too...if you're taking the cousins from out of town to see the tree next December, go there to get yourself a little something-something.

Then I went to the gym, and took these photos up and down Lex @ the corner of 34th, you can sort of see the flowery trees and the Empire State Building:

The end. Now I do homework.

forms forms forms

Does anybody listen to the radio aside from NPR? Often I get the sense that I'm the only one in my world.

Today I'm going to the CHIRP record fair to cover it for journalistic purposes. In my first interview with the somebody on the CHIRP staff, I was pretty open about being a fan of the station, and I noted the technical unprofessionalism of my open opinions. But really, I'm not sure about my ethical boundaries as an aspiring journalist. I'm certainly not sure if I want to be a journalist.

I am sure that I want to connect with my interviews, and I'm not going to try to be their therapist. So I opine.

In case you were wondering, that is a radio.

I hate NPR these days too, have I told you that? Who knew that could happen?

Oh and this month's New Voices is a radio issue, and the interview with Amy Goodman is nice.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Jay Scheib's "Untitled Mars (this title may change)"

It behooves you to see this.
You can read on to read why I think it behooves you.

I've been interested in Jay Scheib since Amanda mentioned him to me regarding the '05 Prelude Festival. I don't remember what she said mind you, but I remember that was when I heard his name for the first time, from someone whose opinion I tend to care about.

Last night I saw "Untitled Mars (this title may change)" at PS122.
I really loved it, and here are some reasons why (I'm not too crazy about my language here, but it will have to do for now. Leave a comment and the dialogue can continue, and my prose will get better.):

1.) The worlds he creates on stage are those of thoughtful choas. Let me state for the record that I think the ultimate goal of theater is to create a dialogue between creator and created, between artist and audience, between artist and audience, etc. I think the reality of the "stories" that Scheib and his performers* are telling us is entirely subjective. It is not our collective reality, and it is not my individual subjective reality. It belongs to them. I can never understand it as they do - however it forces me to create my own meaning, my own understanding, and in this way, it becomes mine. Or a version of it becomes mine - MY version. And this is allowed to happen because of the way the work is created: with confidence, and with no attempt to hide the fact its imperfections, but rather with every attempt to embrace them and say to you, audience member, "this is not perfect. this is not real. this is a fiction. it is happening before your eyes. do you believe it? do you believe it now?"

2.) I feel that Scheib is having a conversation about the resources, and lack thereof, available to contemporary, progressive theater artists**. A friend of mine did not like the show because it was too messy. How can a show not be messy? I like a good clean mess. I like papers everywhere, but food in the garbage and dishes in the dishwasher. I like that I can find you that copy of The Invisibles even though it seems an impossible task amidst those piles of records and pens and that shirt over there and my sunglasses and the cat. Environments like this make us work, make us think, encourage constant adaptation and change. They are no necessarily comfortable, but they are, more often than not, the environments we find ourselves inhabiting. I think that "Mars" is about our human desire to behave selfishly, out of fear, in uncomfortable situations that leads to our stagnation and ultimate demise. But it is not a parable, it is actually also a story about a fictional colony on Mars. You can enjoy it totally on this surface narrative level, or you can allow it to remind you of your own subjective reality.

3.) I like the way he makes his actors do it. I like the stylized "bad" acting of Scheib's performers because I think it's an exploration of the question: what is acting in the 21st century...in the age of information technology, where we are all always avatars, where we are all always acting....what then is acting on stage? On film? I also like the way he makes his actors "do it" on stage. It's sloppy, it's sexy, it's good on stage fucking. I like it because it turned me on; I like it because it makes the issue of gratuity irrelevant and forces you to ask - do you want this or not?

Here's a photo from a scene I particularly enjoyed:

* apropos to Scheib, and becoming more popular with a lot of the theater I enjoy, the "techies" are becoming more and more performative in their activities. I like this trend.

** I am not wild about the term "experimental theater" (all theater is an experiment, and if its not, it might not be theater, what is theater again? i'm not sure) and hesitate to use it, but sometimes I do out of laziness. Morgan likes to use "indie theater" a la indie film, which I appreciate, but haven't started using myself (yet?) for a variety of reasons.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tekserve is super

My hard drive crashed on Tuesday morning.
It's just about 2 AM Thursday.
I too my machine to Tekserve on Wednesday AM and it was fixed by that afternoon.

I called Apple on Tuesday AM and they treated me like I was subhuman. Mac tech support employees probably operate in inhumane conditions, this is true.

Anyway, I wrote Tekserve a thank you later when I got to work after taking my machine in on Wednesday, and received a letter back thanking me for thanking them.
And then my machine was fixed FOUR HOURS LATER.
And then I got a FULL REFUND for the machine I rented while mine was being fixed.

The Tekserve employees, especially Sandor from Wednesday morning, are totally friendly, honest, attentive and knowledgeable. They will make you feel better; they will make your Mac feel better. It's pretty effing great.

First moral of the story: always to go Tekserve
Second moral of the story: write your fucking thank you notes.

FYI - I was told my hard drive crashed due to substandard factory conditions where my hard drive was made.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The internet beat me.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Mommie dearest...

This is a great blog that Marissa introduced me to.
Rich, you probably hated it last week, but whatever.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Brooklyn owes the charmer under me

A small Risa.
Riding in the back seat of my father's Mercedes. Silver. E-Class. Black leather seats. He and mom and in front.
Or maybe I'm older and it's Bill's BMW or his Grand Cherokee or he's driving mom's Volvo or even I'm in high school and it's her Lexus.

But let's say I'm 5 and they're still married and it's the silver Merc'.
And it's 1988.

And we're driving home from my grandparents' house on E.5th Street and Ave. F in Flatbush (Midwood, eh? Another debate for another time, dear reader.)

My grandmother made dinner and we ate in the basement of their 3-story home. In the basement. It's an Italian thing. Sure, there's a dining room, sure! But that's for...I don't know, I can barely remember doing more than going in there with my mother and my grandmother to look at some Norman Rockwell something-or-other (no, really, Rockwell, not just a well-played allusion to times gone by, my grandmother collected Rockwellia). And there were cocktails (Manhattans) and wine and I sat on my grandfather's knee and we read the funnies...and if the weather was at all palatable I played outside. They watched 60 Minutes. I got bored. Read a book, fell asleep on the couch. It was time go....

We drove home through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, and up the West Side Highway and over the GWB. These days, I'd scoff. Tell you to take the BQE to the FDR. Who wants to deal with the lights on the West Side Highway? But my mother hated/hates the BQE. I don't mind it.

And we're gliding across the bridge, and I turn around, waking up, and look behind me at Manhattan. So many lights! At 10PM on a Sunday night and still so many lights on! People are awake, doing things, not fettering away the last hours of the weekend in the back of the car. Fettering them away maybe, but in an exciting way. Dinner parties, a movie, walking the dog, sex, drugs, long talks, reading, whatever, I didn't know. Still don't know. I'm blogging. Weird noises emanating from a neighbor's apartment remind me that in a city so populated, I still don't know how we all spend our Sunday nights.

But what I did know: that's where I wanted to live. In New York City. Where it didn't get dark, which meant there were no monsters in the closet, which meant I didn't have to be afraid, which meant I could be whoever I wanted to be.
An important realization on the way home from my grandparents.

A fact that never changed; they got divorced, cars became other cars, became my car. My grandparents moved to New Jersey, my dad moved to Vermont, my grandfather passed away. I moved to New York City. The house in Brooklyn has been torn down. My mother affirms that she's not ready to go back, that maybe she never will be. I keep thinking I'll ride the Q out there one day, or walk from Brooklyn College. But I haven't yet. Some things belong in memory. Some things are meant to be actualized because of the things in our memories.

Today, I passed the better part of the evenings with Sarah and Donald in Bay Ridge. It nice. We watched Simon Schama's The Power of Art, and ate Middle Eastern food. We had cocktails. We turned the volume up and talked loudly over Schama. It was lovely. It was the same. It was not the same at all.

I took some photos on the subway ride home:

The whole of time we gain or lose
And power enough to choose Brooklyn owes the charmer under me

that shooting pain in my left arm --

carpal tunnel or a heart attack?

to attempt at serious commentary for a moment: if you work at home, you need to make an extra effort to leave your home and exercise and not eat takeout chinese for every meal.

hmmm...crappy attempt at serious commentary.

but you get the idea.

perhaps not even worth posting. and yet i believe we must join the dialogue in order to make sure it doesn't dissolve into ridiculousness.
sort of.

"It's Important Because You Say It Is"

Some 40 minutes ago I was having a disagreement with a young(er) friend of mine who is writing a paper about the biological determinants in gender...or sex...he wasn't clear...and neither am I any more.
But this paper of his is premised on the idea that "the norm" is a heterosexual male and a heterosexual woman.
And after quite the debate, I realized that my main argument with his position is that if you call a heterosexual relationship the norm, then you reinforce the traditional power structure that seeks to take power from homosexuals...and other living (female, non-white, etc) living things.
I attempted to explain this to my youthful compatriot, but he responded, much as I might have some years ago, "But I am deviant. I'm a homosexual. I'm not normal."
And he was proud of this.
And that's very good.
To be proud. This is the thing: to be proud is to be important.
This is good.
But my counter is this: why do you need to be proud of deviance? Why not absolve deviance and normality? Why buy into it at all?
I mean, it makes for a sexy pair of jeans, that's true.
But I guess what I'm saying is, that my paper would be about WHY we view heterosexual relationships as the norm...not presupposing that they are.
"That's not academic, that's activism," my friend told me.
"I see no real difference between the two. I'm wasting my time if I can't politicize my arguments."
But what if my politics are positioning me far within the academy...with no ability to communicate outside?
Recently I've considered identifying as a Republican to help alleviate this anxiety.
But really, that's a whole different thing.
Things and other things and sometimes nothing at all and also occasionally everything.
Gertrude Stein and Gloria Steinem.
It's the process not the product.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Good Joke

Rich -
Thought you might find this amusing.
For at least 2 seconds.
"The Class - Without the Classes"

Your apartment.

It's really too bad that I haven't seen it yet.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Between this week's NYMag article about Horace Mann and this terrifying story, I'm beginning to wonder about a paradigm shift in (a) the idea of respect and who gets it and who gives it and (b) a breakdown in the myth of a cohesive American value system which has very far reaching implications not just for social policies but education, the economy, foreign policy and diplomacy (or lack thereof), etc.

Maybe our myths have caught up with us.

Maybe it's the war...video games...Columbine...bad parenting...bad education policy...bad internet...bad government...a culture of fear and selfishness...

I have no idea.

But we need to fucking figure this out. Because despite the differences between the issues at Center Elementary in Waycross, GA and Horace Mann in NYC, these are not freak occurrences, and I think they are somewhat related.
And it scares me - as a citizen, a student and a future professor.

Hillary? Barack? John? Are you listening? Or are you on the phone...at 3AM?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Cool video of a chashama project:http://www.oilsoakedrag.com/recent.html

The artist who created this video is named Jake Scharbach.
Click through the rest of his website, www.oilsoakedrag.com, as well.

DYTWOF & Me...a happy tale

Dykes to Watch out For - Episode 525!

Couple-a things:
1.) Courier is too hard to read. I'm switching to Georgia.

2.) I have always loved comics. I can remember (sappy thing!) sitting on my grandfather's lap (no fucking kidding...prolly one of the most traditional domestic memories I have) while he read me "the funnies." And it just sort of evolves from there. In the last year I've gotten really into Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch out For. I'm going to post a link here every time there's a new epsiode...or a new post on the blog that I am interested by...but I totally recommend exploring on your own. I have a lot of problems with most domestically themed, "realistic", atlernacomix, but I like DTWOF a lot because (a) I find it very witty and (b) it deals with a group of lesbians and their lives in a way that I can really relate to. I find that Bechdel's characters don't fall into the butch-femme binary that I am so ardently opposed to. I think she does a good job of expanding the defination of what and who a lesbian is. I also think she leaves room for queerness in lesbian culture, most notably with the character of Sparrow, but in a lot of less obvious ways as well.
: Re: my usage of "queerness" in the preceding sentence: Being queer, to me, means that I identify with a lot of the elements of a homosexual and lesbians lifestyle, but that I am still open to having sex with members of a different gender from my own (I identify as female), but that I don't feel comfortable calling myself bisexual. More on this later, but I felt a need to clarify.

Thanks, Alison. Your work really means a lot to me.
I like how our narrative styles defer.

I realize that I don't always talk directly to you.

I am right now though.

We're reading Light in August in American Modernism.

Here's a quotation I read earlier in the day...actually, it seems that it technically I read this yesterday now...but anyway, here you go:
Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders. Knows remembers believes a corridor in a big long garbled cold echoing building of dark red brick sootbleakened by more chimneys than its own, set in a grassless cinderstrewnpacked compound surrounded by smoking factory purlieus and enclosed by a ten foot steel-and-wore fence like a penitentiary or a zoo, wher ein random erratic surges, with sparrowlike childtrebling, orphans in identical uniform blue denim in and out of remember but in knowing constant as the bleak walls, the bleak windows where in rain soot from the yearly adjacenting chimneys streaked liked black tears.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Google decided that eliminating gender, race, and waking life was not enough. It has now moved beyond time.

Risa - Google believes in less things than us. We have to stop believing in something big right now to maintain our ontological advantage.


What a dumbass. I'm embarrassed but you said I can't delete. But now I'm more interested in this even better idea from Google!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Oh What a Difference A Space Makes (Part of a perpetual dialogue that has already begun)

- we live our lives not in a process of covering or uncovering...but in a kind of dialectic, wherein we are constantly covering up one aspect of our (personalities? desires? fears? insecurities?) as we are uncovering another...we live in a world of binary opposition, and of course, we set ourselves the goal of eventually uncovering everything, but really we should just be honest with ourselves about the fact that at this moment one thing is bare and one thing is obscured and in the next moment, it will be different
- we like what we like in art because the art that we like looks like us...we see ourselves in it...it is the most meaningful uncovering process...because we abdicate guilt and blame it on the artist and simultaneously are relieved of the burden of covering...we see a part of ourselves reflected in the work of art, but what is most ironic, is that we each see something different - you, i, and the artist - we all see something entirely different ...so the question becomes, is what we see actually there? yes, insofar as we are actually there...

Above are some thoughts I was writing down at the beginning of the semester that I never finished. I submit to you, dear reader, that by placing them here on the internetletter, they are, somehow, finished (read: published -- at any rate).

I am still interested in exploring these ideas. And I hope to continue to do so (as the subject of this post suggests) over time.

I am also fascinated by the change in value given to things due to the environment in which they are placed. For example, how is narrative, cinematic film called "video art" in the galery and "independent cinema" at the Film Forum? Yes, I do mean "how," for I take this to mean what is the process that we have gone through to get to this label of video art or independent cinema. As opposed to why. Which is another good question to ask. Why is about what those labels do for us as selfish individuals and differently selfish members of a larger society.

I wish I had more time to write more.
I will later.

Hey Risa

I had a deja vu while browsing the first three paragraphs of articles. I just wish I had written this right when it happened.

I was drinking tea, I was not doing work, I read this article, I thought about Africa, a client walked about behind me, I suppressed anxiety about the democratic fantasy to do the job, and after my meeting all that was left was a lingering recognition of a repeated experience.

But look, China!:

Yeah, you don't need to worry about this blog being boring. But I'm not as interested in confusing hyperlinks as you.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Is it still funny?

I wonder how long it will take for this to get old.
But then, if it's not boring after 10 years, I guess it stands a good chance of being one of those blogs with a healthy monthly archive.

I think we should agree to get rid o--
I was going to say "I think we should agree to get rid of it if we stop using it," but then I realized part of the point of this is to leave our footprint upon the internets. Regardless of how successful this blog is.

Handprints left on people, or something like that, from Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters.

A terrible cliched anology about learning to swim.

A funny immoral remark about drowning. Drowning kittens in the toilet. Nina. In the toilet. Fuckers peed in the fucking litterbox.

It's done.
The First Post.

I gotta go do homework.