Thursday, December 30, 2004

Happy Holidays

Following performances of I HATE THIS people often ask what impact the play has had on my relationship with my family. The answer is, my relationship with them is fine, better to ask what impact the show has had on them.

For Christmas this year, my father made a contribution in Calvin's name to the The Heifer Project which helps hungry families around the world by giving them livestock or other farm animals in hope they may become self-reliant for food and income. He bought a hive of bees. I loved that. He also gave a flock of ducks in Zelda's honor.

In late 2001 he originally offered to dedicate a pointsetta for Calvin at his church, and there were those in the family who didn't get it. Toni and I have greatly appreciated his remembrances, they mean an awful lot.

Happy New Year's, folks.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Farewell From Bad Epitaph Theater Company

After five years my company, Bad Epitaph, is calling it quits. Not a major event in the history of Cleveland theater, but it is bound to be some kind of downer to a lot of theater fans around here, if only for purely symbolic reasons.

The state of theater in Cleveland kinda blows. The most daring theaters are petering along as best they can. Small companies like ours pop up for a bit, do some refreshing work, and then either disappear or ... well, no that's about it, they disappear.

Most of us are already involved with other companies, that's part of the reason for the split. Again, no big crying shame. It's kind of a relief. But I know I will miss the autonomy of doing whatever the hell I want after a short while. I always do.

Bad Epitaph Theater Co. 1999 - 2004
"I have tried so hard to do the right."
Cleveland, Grover (1837-1908)

Little Boys

We found last week that the Fish (as we call him) is going to be a boy. Or rather, he already is, but now we know it.

This news came strangely to me. I think I had assumed I really did want a boy, but wouldn't admit it to myself, for fear of being disappointed. And now I am not sure that was ever the case. My standard line was, "I just want it to be live and healthy." And I think that was true.

Boys are weak, you know. Boys are fragile. Zelda could get hit by a train and get back up again, she's tough. But little boys? Little boys die. At least, that's been my experience to date.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Angle 17

Fringing It

My personal take on Fringe Festival culture, and my experience in NY. Okay, not just my take, I interviewed a lot of people for it. I like it a lot better in print than when I wrote it.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

For Mother and Child, A Lurking Danger
NY Times, 11/23/04

Nice article. A little background info on preeclampsia.

And here is the dangerously unhelpful Parents Magazine: Emergency Guide mentioned in my last post.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Parents Magazine, November, 2004
from their "Pregnancy First Aid" guide

... If you're close to your 20th week and your face or fingers are swollen - or if you've gained excessive, unexplained weight - you might have preeclampsia (high blood pressure.) If it's not treated, the condition can cause convulsions severe headaches and vision problems.

No. Preeclampsia does not mean "high blood pressure," it means "before seizure." If it's not treated, the condition can cause the death of the child and/or the mother.

I understand the fact that there is a philosophy that giving mothers this information is counter-productive, as it is an outside risk and will only make them worry. I understand it, but I do not condone it.

It's like that chapter of "What To Expct When You're Expecting" which says, in its own way, do not read this next section, because you will no doubt find your symptoms in it, and these things can't possibly happen to you. We went back and read that section after Calvin had died, and that was where they warned of preeclampsia.

With permanent marker I retitled that chapter "Do Not Read Until Your Child Is Already Dead."

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

And you can dance ... for inspiration!

Yes. I am totally gay.

But, it has been an inspiring couple of days. I have been slow off the mark in following up on the contacts I made at last week's event (though I did finally get Kelly her check in the mail) but there has not been much time since then. At least, no time I can make work for me, if that makes sense to any of the other parents of small children out there - and Brian, that's for you, because you are no doubt the only one still reading this.

But two things came my way in the past two days. First off, check out the pictures of this stud-muffin running the New York City Marathon. May I admit I am actually a blood relative of someone who looks like that. My family tends towards the chinless, pale and flabby, but check out my cousin JT!

Can't remember if I wrote about this when I was in Maine ... we had arrived too late to participate in "Friendship Days" and the morning when we did arrive was the 5 K or 5 mile run they have, and my cousins JT and Amy were on the front page of the local paper in the race. If I'd known better I would have tried to get us all there the night before or something, I was really jealous. That would have been fun.

Not that those two would not have left me in the dust - in NYC last weekend JT came in 6th in his age group. Isn't that nuts? I mean, that's it - last summer I made a pledge to run a marathon before I turned 40. I have got to keep up with this or its never gonna happen.

Meanwhile, just today, I had another little surprise. I am sitting in my little cubby at work when Daniel calls me and says come downstairs, Suzan-Lori Parks is about to give a private talk to some students from Early College.

Yes, things like this happen to me all the time.

She had just come from an interview on a local public radio affiliate, and was to give a talk for a much larger audience in the Ohio tonight. But this was for a half-dozen or so young women ... and folks like me who happened to be in the right place at the right time.

photo: Must I make that face?

It was real informal, but Ms. Parks just said some awesome stuff I really needed to hear right now. There's a new play (my third? - is that all?) I have been struggling with for ... oh, hell, nine years ... but it's just starting to come into focus as a result of the election.

She said she wasn't sure there was any such thing as talent, just love. A love of writing. And if you keep at it, maybe that's "talent." Something like that. And a lot of supportive words about keeping at it.

No, without direct quotes, it sounds like a lot of the usual advice for aspiring writers. But even writers need to tell other writers these things, or I think we'd all just stop.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I Have a Headache

The fact is, I have had a headache every day for the past several weeks. It may be the climate change - I thought it was going to pass after the election was over, but then the sun refused to come out. Maybe Zelda coughing all night had something to do with it. I was really hoping that once this performance was under my belt it would release its grip on me. That happens you know, I will begin a show with a headache, but it is gone the moment I start.

It didn't. I did a show with a headache. Having said that, it was a good show. Shame I don't get another crack at it, there were some weird spots but by and large I think we were all having a special time.

Yes, there were 150 attendees. It was a relief to look into the crowd as we were setting up and see that everyone - I mean everyone - was a woman. What can I say, it's a different vibe. You know, the weirdest thing about my first performance in New York, was I could clearly see the first row, the row full of critics - they were all guys.

Guys don't openly weep during my show. Especially guys from the NYC media establishment. They cross their arms, the way guys do, and stare at you. They laugh when I use the word "cunt."

Anyway, as I said, it was a good show. Kelly was perfect - the auto-stop on the CD player didn't work, exactly. I mean, it worked, but what that meant was when you reached the end of a track - it stopped. As in, it was like you hit the stop button, not the pause button. Koesters would have figured it out, Kelly just used the pause button and never blew a cue.

For the record, the event was the 19th annual Current Challenges in Newborn & Women's Health Nursing conference, sponsored by Mead Johnson Nutritionals. I met a number of wonderful people there, picking up a number of contacts - a lot of them asked about a recording, either audio or visual, and several gave me contacts to persue in regards to getting one financed.

That would be good ... I have been hesitant about making a professional video. I just don't know if it would beas effective as a live perf. But then, they were suggesting that a video could be sold to hospitals all over the world, something so many doctors and nurses could use as a training tool. It would be irresponsible of me not to follow up.

I will get photos from the event on the photo page soon. It was a good day. But my head still hurts. I blame Bush.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Room That Ate My Head

First off, let me apologize to the technical coordinator at LaCentre, who was very, very helpful today. This is a weird situation for everyone involed, I am sure. Now I have a much, much better idea of the kind of things I need to be specific about when this show is produced again.

Kelly and I got two hours in the room. The ROOM. A big, long banquet hall - it's actually a much larger room divided in half. The audience will sit at long tables, all facing one direction, maybe eight across, with an aisle down the middle - and strecthing back some fifteen rows. The event organizer says it will be full, 120 people - the largest audience I have ever played to.

Now, the stage - and there is a stage, a platform that gives me about as much room as I had in New York - is set to one side, directly in front of half of the audience.

The other half of the audience has in front of it THE SCREEN.

This screen is bigger than the one we used in Minnesota. It's bigger than my garage door. It's about one storey high. Crazy. They will, oh yes, be able to read the slides in the back.

And the sound distribution is wild, too - I hear the sound at the same volume as they hear it in the rear of the hall. Only I will be smaller. And to this end, I will have a wireless mic. A really good one - the stuff they have at this place is pretty good, let me tell you.

No light cues, just lights up at the beginning, lights down at the end. And Kelly and I got to run all cues.

I hope I can get some pictures. This may be the future of this show - special events catering to the medical health profession. I can live with that.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Doctor, Doctor

This Wednesday, November 10th I will have a performance at 10:45 in the morning as part of a newborn and women's health conference in Westlake. I'd have sent a press release for it, but you know, it's a private gig.

In October, 2003 I staged this show for the first time in a lecture hall setting, for a conference of Nurse-Midwives, and it turned out much better than I had hoped. Unlike a theater setting, there were no internal light cues, just sound and slides, and I could see my audience perfectly. But the response, during the show was very strong - the doctors and nurses and midwives didn't have any problem openly expressing their shame at the behavior of a small number of their bretheren.

This time I would be feeling more confident, if it weren't for the fact that my main technical contact at the facility has been ... unhelpful. Kelly is stage managing again, and we had an appointment for last Thursday morning. This guy was a half-hour late, and showed us the wrong room. On top of that, when I said our specs hadn't been met (we were promised rear projection, an accessible CD player) he started quoting prices at me for different eqipment.

The kicker was that we were shown the wrong room. The performance is in two days, and Kelly has no idea what kind of set-up she'll have - and this man is difficult to get hold of.

And you know, this may be the largest audience I have done this show for, something like 120 or more. I'd like this to go off the way it's supposed to.

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmmn ...

On the good news front, we are expecting again. There was a time when we thought we only wanted one child - but that child was Calvin. We don't want Zelda's only sibling to be a dead older brother.

What is awkward is when we are expcting - May. Early May, perhaps, but Calvin's was at the end of May, which puts us on a near equal pregnancy track as we had with him. This will be difficult, especially around the holidays.

We back-tracked and found that the "fish" was conceived around August 14th. IHTBlog fans will note that on the day in question I was in New York City.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Overall Excellence Award: Solo Performance

Amazing. Thanks, NY Fringe. You really knocked me on my ass.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

AIDSWALK:CLEVELAND - Sponsor My Run!

AIDSWALK/RUN 2004 is Sept. 19 at Edgewater Park. I need your support, please visit my donations page and throw your weight behind my efforts for this worthy cause, which raises much needed cash for worthy Cleveland-area HIV/AIDS assistance and prevention organizations.

I ran seven miles today. I hope to kick last year's pathetic time on its ass.

And another thing ...

I did not mean to give the impression in my last entry that I will never perform this show again, there is nothing further from the truth. I just meant that I needed a little breaky-breaky.

Keep the job offers coming.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Notes from the Fringe: Day Nine

What's On David's iPod?
Dilemna
Nelly w/Kelly Rowland
Nellyville
(Shouts out to the boys in THE PRECINCT.)

The Fringe continues. We went home. Sarah arrives in New York today (or maybe it was yesterday) and her run begins on Wednesday. 4 MINUTES TO HAPPY. Do not miss it.

I believe this is the first time I have left New York City in better physical condition than when I arried.

Toni and Simeon went off to catch DOG SEES GOD, upon my orders, and Liz, Harris, and Zelda and I went to the Carousel. Could I spare some time, before heading Downtown, alone, to run lines before the matinee, to ride the carousel once with my daughter? And what kind of father would I have been if I hadn't?

We attracted our requisite fifteen audience members for our closing performance. It was a good show. They were with me, as I was with them. The set was struck with a minimum of fanfare - the rocking chair and monitor returned to Harris' place of work.

And we left. Brian and I drove nine hours, pretty much non-stop, to get back here by 3 am. I will pick Toni and Zelda up at the airport this afternoon.

And how do I feel? Hmm. Good question. I was asking Toni in the kitchen yesterday whether or not this entire experience had been worth doing, and that should give you an idea of how much I had lost perspective.

If there is a mission with this play, it is to share the story of child-loss, a story no one wants to hear, with the widest audience possible. And so I have, in three major cities now. And people came, and they heard it.

... Why is he telling an audience about this? My guess is that Mr. Hansen, who laments that there is no term in the English language for the father of a dead child, believes that the best way to handle tragedy is to talk about it. And it is to his credit that he makes you listen.
-The New York Times


After Minnesota I spent my last days lamenting the lack of press in spite of good attendance. Here I have been lamenting the lack of attendance in spite of outrageous press. A pack of blessings light upon my back.

I tell everyone what a joy it is to perform this show, and it is. What's hard is everyone's reaction to it. Last year I resolved to do something light and funny after the MN Fringe, and I did, and that helped. I don't think I have time for that now.

And next year? Well, we have a new show in the works called THE BIG GAY NUDE VAMPIRE MUSICAL. We think it's going to be a hit.

I began this summer overwhelmed by all the different events I had on my calendar ... staging THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, participating in and reporting on the Spencer Tunick installation, walking around Cleveland dressed as William Shakespeare for Great Lakes Theater Festival, taking a road trip to Maine, and finally this. Actor-teachering begins again in a few weeks. I get a couple of free days with my family before it starts all over again.

Yes, I should be depressed. Another great adventure has reached its conclusion, and that deserves some reflection.

I have to thank Kelly for being a spot-on stage manager, especially during a personally difficult time. Josh's grandfather passed away, and she headed down to Baltimore for the funeral on Saturday, and came back on Sunday - with Josh. It was great to see him there.

And Harris wasn't even aware he was getting paid for this. Thanks for being our Guy In New York, for getting that chair, the monitor (or two) and for running those slides.

And Brian? What can I say? You totally rock, man. So much work, and once again you get to stand in the background. I was spending afternoons relaxing my voice, whining, drinking tea, taking jogs in the park, and just being a total diva, while Brian charged around the Village, putting up posters, handing out postcards, spreading the good word ... and he spent the first several nights on the couch at Erin's so I could sleep in the bed.

And thanks for all the dirty stories driving home last night. Those really kept me awake. I won't tell Donna.

Thanks to all of those who made the FringeNYC trip possible, with your donations, your time, and your kind words of support. Once again, we have been overwhelmed by all the goodwill towards this project, and to our theater company.

And thanks to you - for reading all of this. I hope I gave some realistic impression of what we did there. It has been an awesome adventure.

New I HATE THIS Photo Gallery

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Transatlanticism


What's On David's iPod?
Transatlanticism
Death Cab for Cutie
Transatlanticism

Ran roughly four miles. Man, Sunday it is a free-for-all, everyone running in every direction. Keep your head up.

I ran the route twice, alone, and then past the East 72nd Street entrance so I could walk around the Bethesda Terrace. And then that song came on my iPod, as if on cue. An anthem of isolation in the crush of humanity. A 21st century version of Peter Gabriel's Here Comes the Flood or something.

Walking around that stunning fountain, keeping my eye on the angel, squinting in the sunlight. I want to say something profound about New York, but I can't. Brian and I were having a conversation earlier this week about how self-referential this place is, how bored he gets with plays or movies that feature NYC as a character. I used to feel like that.

Listening to Simeon, Harris and Israel last night, arguing about the sainthood vs. damnation of Robert Moses, and the innaccuracies of Queens in the Spider-Man movies ... I mean, I thought I was self-involved.

But how many wonderful, awful places can be concentrated in such a small area? How can you not be overwhelmed? When I look outside my home, I see a street, a tree, a sidewalk. Children who can play in the street. I do not see speeding cars, or garbage, or skyscrapers, or angels, or madmen or geniuses or fantasy or danger or dreams.

How can you live here? How can you not?

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Notes from the Fringe: Day Eight

I was catching the 6 train home tonight, by myself on the platform at 14th Street - Union Square. A middle-aged Asian man in shorts was on the platform playing electronic sax, a very melancholy tune - he's the first busker I tipped this week ... the right tune in the right place at the right time.

I have not been thrilled with the way things have fallen out. That sounds ridiculous, I know. I have plenty to be grateful for.

I am thankful for all of the people whose support made it possible for us to do this work. The folks at Fringe Central have given our show a great deal of positive word-of-mouth. Ron Lasko at Spin Cycle deserves my eternal gratitude for convincing the New York Times that my show was worth paying attention to.

In spite of all of this, attendance has been weak. We know the show isn't weak. And we know the promotions were not merely the best we could afford. When I was at the Minnesota Fringe last year, there were plenty of pissing matches on the message boards about getting critics to your show.

And it appears as though all other shows which have received favorable notices in the Times have fared extremely, extremely well.

We attracted fifteen audience members this evening. And we had a great night, all of us. You can't blame the people who do show up.

And you can't blame people who read about it and said, no, thanks, sounds great, I don't want to see that. (Well, no, okay, maybe those are exactly the people to blame.)

If there is anything I am truly disappointed in, it is the lack of support from the other fringe artists. Perhaps one or two have attended, if so I haven't seen them afterwards. It's a shame. I know we are all very busy and whipped and there are so many shows to see, but I have met with a large number of the folks here, especially after taking in their shows, but from what I can see, none have returned the effort. It doesn't speak well for the community, especially to a guy from out of town.

But I can deal with that. I still have a great love and respect for the City, and will miss it a great deal once we depart tomorrow. I will miss our friends here, and all of the places where we have been hanging out.

Tomorrow I will go running one last time in the Park, this morning we did the lower circuit, I did it twice, it was over 3 miles. Not as lovely as running the reservoir, but it's still a great track. Harris went with me today, and Liz did some in-line skating.

Toni and I did some shoe shopping with, or rather for, Zelda. After her nap (during which Toni went out to Shakespeare & Co. and got totally drenched in a big, freak rainstorm) we spent a few moments at the Met before I left to prepare for this evening. God, those girls are fun anywhere.

By the way, it was my goal to attract 100 audience members to this show, which I thought, with 5 performances, was modest. I am still short 52 people. If you are a fan of this blog, and there are a couple, please join us tomorrow afternoon at 2:15. You can find all of the necessary info at the Bad Epitaph website.

Notes on the Fringe: Day Seven

Zelda slept on the flight in, and so was totally wired by bedtime. Where are we? What is this? Look at all the wonderful, dangerous stuff Harris and Liz have left out for me to play with! She fell asleep by one a.m., the morning was a slow affair.

This was our girl's first visit to New York, and our first with a small child. It's a different world. Of course, I never took into account how much there is for children to do here, and how many playgrounds. We went to the Central Park Zoo - stopping by the childrens' zoo first. We had last been to the zoo when we visited Harris in July, 2001. Then we had pointedly avoided the childrens' zoo.

Zelda has been delighted. After a nap in the early afternoon (I took one, too - not much sleep the night before and a 10:30 show ahead of me) we visited Harris at work. His office is in the Chelsea Market, a place which is too cool for words. I mean, its let's send up the fact that it used to be a warehouse asthetic is very early 90s but it's still a beautiful place to hang out or shop or eat or work in. We had cardamom ice cream and sat around in the delightful air conditioning.

Oh that's right - the weather. It's been rainy and relatively cool the entire time we've been here, until today. It was suggested we walk from the market to the East Village to meet Simeon for dinner, but I vetoed that. Taking the bus make take as much time, if not longer, than walking ... but it isn't walking. Besides, unlike the busses in Cleveland, New York City busses are pleasant to sit in.

We ate at a decent Italian place (no hot tea? what the hell?) but I was distracted and headed off early to get my head together for the performance.

After last night I was dedicated to putting on a good show. And expecting a low turn-out, which is what happened. We had fifteen people, which was an improvement - and a very lively crowd for a late-night show in a hot theater. They were definitely on top of what was going on, and it made me quite loose and free with the delivery. I can't tell from Brian's reaction, but maybe I was a little too cheerful, I do not know.

And yes, I did the show in a t-shirt, forgoing the sweater. You could not have blamed me.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Notes from the Fringe: Day Six

You would think a positive write-up in the largest paper in the universe might affect turn-out. Alas, we had another - as we say in the business - intimate audience.

But it was a 5 o'clock show. On a weekday. And it's still about stillbirth.

It was such a long night Wednesday night, I woke late and feeling poopy, and resigned myself to not doing nothing all day. But I thought better of it, and went running anyway. That, my friends, was a good idea.

And we headed downtown, Brian saw a show and I ate raw fish and squatted in another cafe, sipping tea and not talking, which is always a challenge.

photo: Grundik and Eliot at the Next Stage - thanks, guys!

The performance was not one of my best. I felt comfortable on Tuesday, and perhaps too comfortable on Thursday. I imagine I was disappointed by the size of the house. But I was thrilled to see Jason M. show up, an old friend from Cleveland who has been living here since 2001, acting, bartending. He looks the same. And my cousin Charlotte came from Philly and brought a friend. And yes, there was at least one couple who came just because of the review. They are, as we say, members of the club. I thank you, and hope you enjoyed the show.

After dinner at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame (where we all, Harris, Liz, Brian, Kelly and I shared our individual marriage proposal stories - Liz and Harris' kind of overlap) it was off to Laguardia to pick up Toni and Zelda.

I have relocated to Liz and Harris' place with my family. Shouts out to Katie and Tom (woo. woo.) for letting me stay there these past few nights. Not sure how much "fringeing" I will be able to do in the next couple days, I am back in parent mode.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

What's On David's iPod?
Big Time Sensuality
Bjork
Debut
("I don't know my future after this weekend. And I don't want to.")

An anniversary which passed unacknowledged yesterday was how on Aug. 18, 1994 I flew to NYC for the first time to visit Toni on my own. And today she is flying in to see me, little girl in tow. It has been quite a decade.

I am still reeling from the Times review. "Hey Dave - your fans want to know how you maintain that lanky body of a teenager and the somber, cavernous face of an old man."

Thanks for asking, that would be a crappy diet and a whole lot of worry.

Notes from the Fringe: Day Five

Okay, I have to try and make this quick ... I am a little in shock. First off, I am beginning this at 2 am, when a boy like me should be in bed. And secondly, I just read my review in the New York Times.

Yes. I have already cried. Now I want to vomit. I can't imagine what my reaction would have been if it were negative.

It has been another long, eventful day. There was more jogging in Central Park, yes, Brian and I did laundry, bickering like an old couple, yes. We split off in the late morning so he could visit old girlfriends and I could visit the Met.

I had hot dogs on the steps, and took a nice two hours, giving myself a "best of" of my favorite things (Dendur, Manet, the Studiolo) but I also found myself lingering over every single classical sculpture. There was something about the freely flowing motion of frozen marble that struck me today.

The Studiolo was disappointing. When I first discovered it (see the IHT timeline) there was music playing, I couldn't tell you what kind. I'd say "baroque" but I used that word recently. It was the only part of the museum with a soundtrack, and in such a private space. There was no music today. I asked a guard and she said, "there's never been music in there." To which I replied, "Oh, it must be me."

photo: I want a hat like that.

On the rooftop garden I indulged in one of the world's most expensive glasses of wine. I knew there was a reason I skimped on the entrance donation.

Now, earlier in the day Toni urged me to do some p.r. around the Village - she knew I would be antsy if I didn't, that I might blame myself later on for wasting time. And she's right, that's the way it was in Minneapolis.

So I did a little homework, and figured out four theaters I could hit, one after another, and catch people as the shows ended. At the very first, the Cherry Lane Studio, I ran into Caroline, who was in the cast of ANGST:84 in the 2001 Fringe. She's already got tickets to come on Friday! It was very nice to see her, though she's just the kind of person (college student, living in NYC) who makes me wish I had moved here myself a decade or so ago.

Brian, Kelly and I met up to see AN ACCOUNT AT FIRST HAND OF THE BATTLE LATELY WAGED IN AND AROUND THE TOWN OF GETTYSBURG (PA.) AS RELATED BY MAJOR GENERAL ISAAC RIDGEWAY TRIMBLE (RET.), ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA (C.S.A.) I wish my dad could have been there, I think he really would have liked it. A short show, less than an hour. The actor, one George Rand, had the charm and demeanor of a really good history teacher. And, in fact, for a time that's where I thought I was, in class. But it was an enjoyable education.

After tramping all the way to Katz' deli (yes, we did, and wouldn't you) for dinner, we caught a 10:15 performance of - drum roll, please - DOG SEES GOD: CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE BLOCKHEAD.

Oh my. This is why we do this. I almost wept. Experiencing that show made the entire trip worth it. I am not exaggerating, I liked that show so much.

photo: the crowd outside "Dog Sees God"

It is a parody of "Peanuts" ... sort of. That just makes it sound funny. "What if Charlie Brown and the gang became teenagers?" Sure, lots of yuks there. But the playwright, Bert V. Royal wanted more than that. It is a tribute to the spirit of Charles Schulz. I poop you not. It's dark in places, very funny, never sticky sweet ... like "Peanuts."

And even more than that, the actors were, every single one of them, so excellent, so in character, so comfortable with what they were doing, there was never a false moment. There was a big old party going on onstage, and we were invited.

And it's moving. And upsetting. And very, very funny.

* Sigh. *

It's been a long day. And I have a stack of newspapers to buy tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

What's On David's iPod?

Brand New Colony
Postal Service
Give Up
(A long distance dedication, going out to the one I love. Awwwww yeah.)

Notes from the Fringe: Day Four

It feels as though we have been here forever. And yet, only today has the Fringe truly begun for us.

It was a good morning. yesterday was depressing. Yes, it was good that I stayed home. I needed the rest - and today was not without its additional stress. But I felt like I was missing the party. Brian returned late last night to report he had seen two awesome shows. Meanwhile, I had discovered, much to my horror, that when I eat alone ... I talk to myself.

Okay, okay, let's move on. This morning I ran the reservoir. Me and a million others, it was liberating, actually engaging in exercise, I don't think I have ever done that in New York. Not just walking, but running. My entire body thanked me.

Tech

Our tech rehearsal was scheduled for 12:30. We had two and a half hours to run through all of the cues and get everything straight. It's a simple show, this has never been a problem.

photo: Kelly our Stage Manager (SM); Harris our General Organization Director (GOD)

Today, it was a problem. I won't say what was the problem ... okay, to be honest, there's some confusion as to exactly what the problem was. It was enough to say we put Grundik in the awkward position of having to kick us out at 3 p.m., with a lot of question in the air as to how it was going to look for our 5:45, premiere performance.

Kelly and I limped back to the Village to check Fringe Central and which shows were sold for the evening, and to relax in a rather baroque cafe, sip tea, and count our blessings as regards to our significant others.

Opening Performance

photo: Sunflowers for Calvin - thank you, sweetheart.

Brian warned me it would be a small house. And indeed, it was. Every show I have seen at the Fringe so far has attracted a respectable crowd. But I have the show no one sees without being urged to see it by someone who already seen it. You can understand the Catch-22 involved.

The bad news is we only attracted 10. The good news is that half of them were critics. The people who run the Fringe - the people at SpinCycle - are obviously in my corner.

Yes, I was very tense before it began - I kept hitting my head on the ceiling of their subterranean dressing room. But I thought it might be a good show when Grundik, the venue director, introduced it in his usual, somewhat broken manner:

"... The exits, in emergency are there and there ... you can get in shows for free by volunteering ... once again we thank you all for coming ... I hate this."

And then he just walked off the stage, getting a big laugh. I want him to introduce the show like that every single time.

I flubbed some lines, and I wonder how the revised Sept. 11 scene goes over with a critical New York audience. But the response was strong, I felt good, relaxed ... and Brain said I did my boy proud. That was probably the sweetest thing he could say.

So. One down.

After we had some celebratory pub food at the White Horse, and then Brian and I dashed off to see the only show we could possibly catch in the vicinity - the boys from Elephant Larry performing their new sketch show, THE PRECINCT. People who know me know how I am not a big fan of improv of sketch humor. 'Cause it's not usually funny. These guys are funny. We laughed a lot.

And now I have a day off. Should I go into the Village, sell my show, pass out flyers? Should I visit the Cloisters, the Met, do laundry? Run, sleep, play?

I don't know. And tomorrow, I think that will be okay.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Wow. An edited version of the radio diary Toni and I wrote for WCPN on the Tunick installation was broadcast this last weekend on a new, national NPR program called Public Radio Weekend.

Not a great edit. Kinda weird, listening to that. You can still hear the complete version by visiting my Spencer Tunick page.
What's In David's Mug?
Throat Comfort tea, lemon and honey.
(Thanks for asking.)

Oh well, another rainy day in the Big Apple -- wait, no, that's not me, that was the opening narration from a sit-com. Spoken by a spunky young woman. Let me start again.

I always find it difficult to wake up early in New York. Must have something to do with exhausting yourself walking the width of Downtown a few times, and staying up until 2 am writing a blog.

A BLOG! A BLOG! I AM WRITING A BLOG! WHAT AM I DOING, HOW RIDICULOUSLY SOLIPSISTIC CAN I BE???!!!

Glad I got that out.

The plan was to take it easy, sure. And it was raining. But Brian and I walked downtown a little, swinging through Central Park, briefly, so I could eyeball the reservoir. Great running track around the reservoir, and I was hoping to begin tomorrow (and tomorrow, and tomorrow.)

We would return to the Village, he had a box office meeting, and I would sit around, maybe catch a show. But shortly after lunch I realized that the catch in my throat was not simply overuse, but probably something else. Toni has a cold. Zelda has a cold. And I decided, forget this, I am going home.

Note to Donna; Brian wanted me to tell you we had lunch at this Indian place that had an awesome buffet. And the mango lazzis were real tasty. You would have loved, loved, loved it. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

And can I just report how awesome Erin is (and her roommates Katie and Tom) for letting us stay here. They keep a very neat and pleasant home, and I hope we aren't mesing up the feng shui too much (but then, if I have to ask ...)

Anyway, it's a lot of tea, rest and Harry Potter. Oh, and maybe going over my lines. Am I nervous? Well, here's the thing ... I do not expect a critic. I think I would prefer not having one. I have been clocking the reviews in the New York Times and some of them are pretty blunt. I just want people to show up. And I need to do the best I can.

Notes from the Fringe: Day Two

I got blisters on my feet.

photo: Brian and I outside The Next Stage

Brian and I had a big day planned ... if not an interesting one. We were going to walk all over the West Village and drop postcards and put up posters, and in fact, that's just what we did.

First, however, we had breakfast with Harris and Liz closer to home base. Man. I like New York City diners, but EJ's is just way too cramped and far too air conditioned. I could barely stir my coffee.

Now ... when I am usually in NYC, Toni is my brain. It's her city, I began visiting this place to be with her, and we have returned many times since she moved to Cleveland. So I would just follow - I always knew where I was going, because a was with her.

So as we started, I was treating Brian like Toni. Where are we headed? Which way are we going? Where the hell are we? I don't know if it was bothering him, but it was frustrating the hell out of me.

But we did get an awful lot of area covered. And I heard this evening one other fringe artist compliment our work getting the word out. This is good.

However, Brian left me to have a cookout in Queens with some people he had only met through an online chat room, and not in real life. Yes, I told him that sounded kind of creepy. But it left me all alone, beginning at around 2 in the afternoon.

And the moment he headed up the street, I felt a sensation I had not felt in a very long time. I was alone. And I had nothing to do.

I have spent about three months of my life living alone. And my days are usually dictated by work, theater, or family. I know what I need to do, and I know where I am supposed to be.

And now I ... I was supposed to ... uh ... postcards. Posters. West Village. Where the hell am I? Which way am I going? What am I doing?

I did cover more ground. But I was going in circles, constantly surprised by what was around the corner. Wait - Bleeker is parallel to West 3rd ... right? And so is Sullivan. No, it's not, damn.

I could always keep an eye out for Washington Square Park - where I caught (part of) my first show of the day, something after my own heart. AMERICAN OLIGOPOLY is old fashioned, broad, unapologetic, agit-prop street theater. A semi-improvised, jumbo-sized Monopoly board (Guerrilla Theater Co. die-hards take note) where there is a "Liberal" team and a "Conservative" team, and audience volunteers and they roll huge dice - and I will leave it to you who wins and who loses this game. Played in THE VILLAGE.

This did little, inspite of everything, to change my mood, and so, on my next past through Houston and up, uh, Sullivan (I think) I promosed myself sushi at the next available stop.

I ate raw fish, I studied a map, I drank a beer. I emerged a changed man.

And then I saw another play. And what a play.

THE ADAMS CONGLOMERATE HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA CLUB PRESENTS: TALES OF THE EIGHTH GRADE!! is pretty damn funny. It claims to be based on an actual book written by an actual eighth grader in the year 1987. Having read countless middle school and high school plays for the kids' fest at Dobama, I don't believe it's a hoax. The four girls in the show get into ridiculous, life-threatening situtations that involve rape and cigarettes and kidnapping and everyone is okay at the end.

The actors are all incredible, they really go all the way with their "bad" acting. If anything it, like Queer Theory suffer from lack of editing, but it was a hoot.

As someone who was a teenager in the 80s (these actors were not) I was amused by some of the costume choices. I mean, by 1987 no one was doing to off-the-shoulder Jennifer Beals thing, or wearing a Pat Benetar headband. Puh-leez.

Stepping out of the theater, I had a real emotional treat. I ran into this guy (I am not at liberty to share his name, for reasons that will become apparent) who was doing an awesome job of pushing his show on people, he had a really great, loud patter.

I took his card, and gave him one of my cards.

"Oh," he said, "ah, yes - I have seen, uh ... I shouldn't be telling you this. Yes." He was awfully flustered. "I have seen your show."

"What?"

"I saw the video," he said.

"What? How? It's a really crappy video."

"I shouldn't tell you ... I am on the screening committee for the Fringe - I am not on the selection committee, I am not saying that, but I am one of the first screeners, and it's a great show."

"Oh! Wow. Hey, thank you!"

"Yes," he said, "it made me cry."

Amazing.

But I was still on my own. Brian wouldn't be back for some time and I hadn't heard from Kelly. And so I headed east, not knowing where I was going, but knowing I had had enough of the West Village for the afternoon.

And I continued east, dropping of cards and posters. And further east, and into the East Village. And I knew where I was going. I was going to find the Present Theatorium.

When Toni's play, ANGST:84 was presented here three years ago, the Fringe was concentrated in the East Village. And her play was produced in the home of the producing company, the Present Company. I was unaware of the fact that they had left that space on Stanton Street.

And I walked, for over a half-hour. And I did not use a map. I knew just where I was going. And I found it, all gated up, unused for what they tell me is several years. I peeked through the garage doors into what used to be Fringe Central, which was an open courtyard. It was wildly overgrown with weeds.

I am a creature of nostalgia. It was a difficult year that year, but I have a great deal of fond memories of the '01 Fringe. And this time it's very different, it would have to be. It's just me on stage. The subject matter is very, very different. No teenagers, or Dan Kilbane, to chaperone. And no Toni.

I guess I just needed to return to the scene of the crime. To see the body.

Just then Kelly called - and that was that for the East Village. She and her friend Sam, who she is staying with, were going to try and see HARVEY FINKLESTEIN'S SOCK PUPPET 'SHOWGRILS' and would I like to join them? I jumped a bus, walked lots of blocks and found that the show was oversold, so instead we went to Chumley's and enjoyed possible the best fish and chips I have ever eaten, ever. And, yes, a martini. And for the first time since I arrived, I was feeling relaxed.

Sam told a good story, too. Apparently she was a student at the All-Ohio Thespian Conference in 1994 when Guerrilla Theater Co. conducted a class there. And you know, she was looking for proof then that theater could be relevant and important and actually say something ... and apparrently that's something we accomplished. It was a big surprise to hear that - my memories of that period in my life are pretty dark. I was grateful to know my life wasn't as worthless then as I thought it was.

photo: Chicks with Vespas in the East Village

The evening concluded with GORK! THE RETARD ALWAYS WINS back at The Next Stage. Wow. Autumn Terrill is my new hero. I have been largely enjoying the shows I have been seeing here, but she revived my faith that Fringe can be truly astonishing and transcendent. And just ... well, gee whiz, she's just a powerhouse.

She tells the story of the her life with her ...well ... retarded brother. With humor, with love, and with a really big voice. It's the first solo show I have seen this time out, and it's a challenge I hope I can live up to.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

What's On David's iPod?
Future Sightings
I Am The World Trade Center
Cover Up
(Thanks for asking.)

Notes from the Fringe: Day One

Upon returning from the Spencer Tunick unvieling at MOCA last night (Friday night) I got exactly one hour of sleep before rising at 1:30 am. I have been up ever since.

Brian (our Authorized Company Representative), Kelly (Stage Manager) and myself, left town around 3:30 am, and made very good time to New York. Brian also took this opportunity to learn how to drive a stick. We actually got into Manhattan with very few wrong turns, though I was a little shaken by Brian's safe driving habits. I know how to drive like an NYC cabbie, and feel safer that way. If everyone decided to drive backwards, wouldn't driving forwards be kind of dangerous?

Fringe Central

We checked in at Fringe Central, which is located just off Washington Square. As soon as possible, I began handing our small ticket-sized flyers out to people. A lot of people say the same thing; "Oh - I've heard about this." I don't know what that means. I was thrilled to discover that we received capsule mentions in both New York Newsday and something called The L Magazine. That last struck me as interesting.

Now ... we had a car full of stuff to be dropped off at the space, and our personal effects. Timing was important; shows were on, we would have a limited window to get things into The Next Stage.

We had lunch at a sidewalk table at a nice pub on Bleeker - there was a street festival going on, too. We were already very, very punchy, but the food made everything a lot better.

The Next Stage

Finally arriving at The Next Stage, we met our Tech Rep, Grundik, and were told it would be best if we waited until the next show began, because one was about to start.

So Brian and I took the opportunity to see our first show - and I got to scope out my performance space. The Next Stage actually looks and feels a lot larger than what I had prepared myself for. I am looking forward to working there, a lot - except for the atmosphere. They do have air conditioning ... but they can't run it. It would be too loud. I think I will be performing in a t-shirt.

We saw THE END OF THE LINE by Jessica Hammer. I call it a "woulda, coulda, shoulda" play. The story is the familiar tale of a naive girl from the Midwest meeting a flinty NYC resident on the subway, and how they come to be friends. The conceit is that all the plagues visit them, in order (blood, frogs, lice, etc.) through direct narratives to the audience and their performer encounter on the World Trade Center line. When a villain intrudes on the stalled, trapped victims on the subway, they all gang together to defeat him. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

I liked the performance of Melissa Shaw as the New Yawker. She had an understated sense of humor that really complimented the dialogue.

Afterwards, we loaded all of our stuff in, and took Kelly to her friend's place in Queens. Brian and I met Harris and Liz to swap posters and flyers, and then we finally checked in at Erin's 6th floor (pant) walk-up on East 95th Street. Her roommate Katie has been incredibly accommodating.

Soho Playhouse

photo: David gets stupid over QUEER THEORY cast member Matt Weimer

Heading back downtown, we picked up some kebabs at the waning street party, and had a half-assed attempt at passing out flyers and putting up posters. We made our way (eventually) to the Soho Playhouse to harass the folks coming out of DOG SEES GOD. Stupid me, it hadn't sold out. But there was no way, the way our day had gone, we could have made it.

We were encouraged to stay and see San Francisco's Theatre Rhinoceros perform QUEER THEORY, which I really enjoyed. Very funny - I haven't seen something outrageous and funny in a long time. And I really liked the message. It takes place at Berkeley, Harvard and Oxford, poking fun at academia's look at Or assault on) gender issues. Classifications run amok and the message, when it had one, was "let people be people." And there was full frontal male nudity for the kids!

Stand-out was Matthew Martin as Dr. Renee Webster, PhD. He's fricking amazing, a great drag queen with a pack-a-day voice and MAN can he dance! The materials was funny, but he made it hysterical. But I was fond of the entire troupe, really. It was a delightful capper to a stupidly long day.

Which wasn't over yet. Brian and I had to navigate the trains in the rain, and we did, but it did take over an hour to get home.

Not-so-private note to Toni: It's not New York without you.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Sweet Jesus.

This morning, August 13th, at 7:00 am, the power went out in Cleveland Heights. You can only imagine what went through my mind. It came back two hours later - Toni, Zelda and I took that as an opportunity to do some major rolling around time, but it still makes me feel a bit more uneasy than I already was.

Or maybe it was all the beer Phil bought me (thanks, Phil!)

Back to Dobama

This past evening we held our one-night only "preview" at Dobama Theatre on Coventry. This, I believe, went very well.

Okay, the truth is, I thought I didn't do the best job, I was very nervous and the stress made my voice poot out a little. But I have made a number of changes - not just lines, though there a number of those, but also in delivery. Toni noticed this. She was a bit hesitant to say the show has improved ... probably because I think I have done the show enough that there's more actual acting going on.

I am less earnest in places, and a lot more comfortable in others. There were a lot of scenes tonight where, since my tone was less heavy, the audience felt freer to laugh. They knew I was making fun. As usual, I ws surprised at some of the places where the audience laughed - but I am never displeased when this happens.

Anyway, BLAH BLAH BLAH - let's take your eyes off your navel for a moment, what happened? One of these days I am actually to attend a Coventry Street Fair - Dobama Theatre is located in a residential shopping district, the former home of Cleveland's bohemian fringe, and the primary stomping grounds for Harvey Pekar, for those of you who saw AMERICAN SPLENDOR. They have been hosting these monthly street festivals, and apparently they are packed. Vendors, outdoor patio dining, live bands and street performers, it just sounds like such a treat.

It was a coincidence we scheduled our performance for this night, but it was a plus, not a minutes, a number of people were dragged down into the basement that is Dobama Theatre - and reportedly were glad they did. Toni was amused by some of the comments she heard from audience members. Tom explained to the audience how, because I would be performing in New York on a postage stamp, they had marked off the stage to the size of the postage stamp. "Ooooooh," someone sitting by her whispered, "that's a good idea!"

I had asked Gina to make a survey, expecting a nice turn-out. We had about seventy-five people. And just as I had suspected, this morning's Plain Dealer piece attracted a lot of them. Gina, as usual, was wildly helpful, this night by getting everything set up and oragnized.

I was very glad to see my old Great Lakes partner Mariah there, and her mother Diane. And Tommy's mom Helen - always a big supporter of our work. Amy came from MOCA, and one of our good friends whose name I cannot mention because she is pregnant and hasn't told everyone yet. I may have suggested she not attend, sometimes I discourage pregnant mothers rom coming, but she really wanted to and I did want her to see it. Apparently it did shake her a great deal.

And, oh, wow, I know another person who was there - and pregnant - who I can't name for the same reason, but she didn't seem upset by the show.

God, I am kind of at a loss here. There is so much more to say about the show but my mind is a blank. Perhaps because it is 1 AM. In a little over twenty-four hours we leave, and that has me a little wigged. It is finally sinking in how painful it is going to be to leave Toni and Zelda for a week. I mean, that's going to be hard. Hopefully I will be too busy to notice, but it would have to be really, really busy.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Everything in its right place.

Oh my. Big fat picture of my face in the Plain Dealer today, and a very nice article on mine and Sarah's shows. Unfortunately, those of you who might be interested in reading it online will only be treated to a few paragraphs, for some odd reason.

They call the New York Fringe "prestigious." That's cute.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Boy, this is just silly.

Tom, Kelly, Brian, Gina and I were all at Dobama this morning at 8:30. Okay, that's being generous, but we were all there close to 8:30. First order of business - tape off the Dobama stage to represent the dimensions of the space at The Next Stage.

Harris had suggested I would be performing in my living room. My living room is bigger.

Tom mused that the technical specs that said the lighting provided had two different "sides" to the stage. I said they must have meant "inside" and "outside."

In Minnesota, I feared the stage, once I had seen it, would be too large. It was a wide, open dance space. It also featured a ceiling to floor projections screen for slides.

This space is going to be so tiny - but you know what? I am really excited by that. I think it's going to be fun. There used to be a small table for the phone - not anymore, we are placing it on the mantle of the fireplace (Harris: take note.) And the slides will be a PowerPoint presentation, on a monitor placed (we hope) on the piano.

The rocking chair will be tucked away in the corner by the door, hopefully far enough away from the the window-mounted air conditioner. Did we mention there will be air conditioning?

However ... we did not make it very far through tech before I had to, or I should say, far enough. We will do the actual cue-to-cue, with the actor, tomorrow afternoon.

I guess there's nothing very interesting to be concerned about. Everything is running smoothly. I work with great people.
Hey, we're in Cool Cleveland, the home of everything cool and Cleveland. Cool.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Tai Chi Chuan, Everyday ...

So I took a Tai Chi lesson tonight, for the first time since I began rehearsing AM REV - which was maybe three months ago. I wouldn't have even gone this evening if Toni hadn't strongly encouraged me to. And yes, I am glad I went.

Even though I am lousy at it. I can't concentrate on anything for more than a moment, how can I breathe, relax and move without suddenly trying to make sure I don't forget to say this line differently, call so-and-so about an article, and damn do I really need to fart.

But tht's why I am there, to change all that. To improv. To keep moving towards ... something. I don't know. But I have a thing about those cute little shoes.

The new phone book is here!

Wow. The August print edition of theatermania.com came in the mail today. Woo boy! There's a photo of me in it! Way cool! Makes up for all the dumb things I said.

Seriously, though, it all helps. I am glad there is at least one publication in New York that has something on my show it. That's nothing but good.

Tech

Tomorrow we tech at Dobama. 8:30 in the morning. I should be in bed.

Monday, August 09, 2004

"Is Our Children Learning?"

The theatermania.com article on our show and several other Fringe offerings is now online, and a print version will soon be available all over Manhattan.

Yep. I cannot describe this show without making it sound wretched, no matter how I try.

"I get to share all the things I learned." Yes, I really said that. Because that's why we go to theater. To learn things.

There's Always Someone Cooler Than You ... In The New York Times

What's On David's iPod?
There's Always Someone Cooler Than You
Ben Folds
Sunny 16

Big, full-page article on the Fringe in the Times yesterday. No, we weren't featured, which is no big surprise - especially given what was featured. Some high profile plays or players, that's for sure.

What's a shame is that some of these shows were on my must-see list - and now I am almost certain there is no way I will get to see them. DOG SEES GOD: CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE BLOCKHEAD was a big favorite - an unauthorized look at what the Peanuts kids might have been like as teenagers. Right up my alley. What I didn't know was that the guy who was the gay friend in "Mean Girls" plays Charlie Brown. And now it's been written up in the Times. Might be sold out by opening. That happens.

I mean, I could see these shows, I could order my tickets now. But they are $15 a pop, and I want to see as many shows as possible. Unlike Minnesota, where Fringe artists see shows for free, we have to pay (admittedly, a discounted admission) and we have to wait until all other tickets are sold.

What obviously sucks about that last part is that you may wait until curtain to get in, not get in, and then you've blown any chance of running off to your second choice. Kinda messes up your schedule. I don't mind paying the five bucks, but this bit really ... well, it blows. Really blows. Really, really blows.

However, what I do know is that I will make it a personal goal for Saturday, August 14 to be ready and waiting with a handful of flyers to meet and greet the sell-out crowds leaving performances of YOU'LL HAVE HAD YOUR HOLE, BELIEVE IN ME: A BIGFOOT MUSICAL and yes, DOG SEES GOD.

Along with about a hundred other of us, I am sure.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Home at Last (Temporarily)

The Mayor of Cleveland, by the way, sends her regrets - she cannot attend the performance at Dobama on Thursday. But I was very pleased she, or rather one of her people, called. I thought that was classy.

So, anyway, we have made it home. There wasn't too much to report, at least as far as this show was concerned. Got a message from the BROWNTOWN peeps, apparently they, like I, have been "googling" ourselves to find out if there is any mention of us, anywhere. Other than that, we spent a largely stress-free three days getting home.

Okay, that's false, it was actually pretty stressful. Zelda couldn't understand why, after spending merely five days running around in the grass and sunshine and gravel and mud and seashells and everything it was necessary to get back into the damn car again (adorable photo of a sleeping child, notwithstanding.)

But I have a peculiar week ahead of me - beginning with my procrastinating, as a writer will, on a paid assignment. I need to turn in a five-hundred word piece on "what I did this summer" to Cleveland Magazine by Tuesday morning. Only this time it won't be about appearing naked in public, though it will be about something actually embarrassing. I will keep you in suspense, I will say it has to do with a ruffled collar and a pork rib.

On our way home we did stop in Elmira and check out Mark Twain's grave, speaking of dead children. The graves of the two daughters who predeceased him are there, as well as that of the one who lived. And did he not have a fourth daughter who died very, very young? We thought so, but there was no marker, at least not there. Now there was a man plagued by depression - and not without reason.

Oh, but about this week ... writing, getting back on top of my employment for Great Lakes Theater Festival (in this case - dry cleaning) and teching for the show at Dobama. Brian reassures me that everything is well in hand. I am not sure that means it will actually be a fun morning on Wednesday, especially as I will have to leave early to appear on Around Noon with Toni. The unvieling of Tunick's Cleveland portrait will be Friday evening, and they will we rebroadcasting our 'radio diary' on the first half of the show Wednesday, and then we're taking questions, live on the air. Hopefully Spencer will be available by phone, his next gig is this weekend in Buffalo.

Then the show Thursday, the unvieling at MOCA Friday ... and then I need to talk Brian and Kelly into leaving Saturday morning at, like, 3 AM or something to drive to NYC because I won't be sleeping anyway.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." - George W. Bush

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"No News" Is Good News

Caught this on NeoPAL today - all three of you who read this blog regularly should be sure to check this show out tomorrow night at Cabaret Dada's Black Box. I would go, but I am in Maine. I expect a full report on my desk on Monday.

David Pratt has written a one-man show about his experiences dealing with the death of his daughter, Isabella. She had Thanatophoric Dysplasia and lived for a day. I have already been in touch with him - he says he had, at the age of 35, just finished his memoir when his daughter came into, and then left his life, and suddenly his "memoir" seemed a little self-involved.

I can say without fear of contradiction, I know exactly how that feels. I am so glad he has created this show, and hope I get to see it sooner or later.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Blogging Live from ... The Barnstable?


Friendship, ME
Who is here?
David, Toni, Zelda
Toni's entire family; Con, Chris, Locke & Adrienne
Most of David's family; Mom, Dad and Denny

Flood's Cove is not a very fancy place, and that's why we like it. The Barnstable (you can guess its origins) has brown paper on the walls to keep out drafts, and I was shocked when returning in 1990 after a five-year absence to discover hot running water and that a shower had been installed. This was luxury.

So you can imagine my surprise when, in a cabin with no cable (we received one and a half broadcast channels) and no phone at all - that Toni's iBook is receiving a WiFi signal. From where we do not know, there are a number of permanent residences in the area which may be connected, but none close. Denny suggested it may be one on Martin's Point - a distance from here, as the crow flies, of roughly a quarter-mile. But there's nothing between here and there but water, nothing to obstruct the signal.

It comes and goes. Cool. Weird. I should be walking in the woods, and not sitting here.

What Keeps David Moving
This morning's randomly generated playlist:
All Night - Sam Phillips
Piku - The Chemical Brothers
Pump Up the Volume - M/A/R/R/S
One Call Away - Chingy
Didi (Funk Club) - Khaled
I Do Not Want This - Nine Inch Nails

I have been running roughly three miles a day* since I got here, beginning with the hill that takes me out of the cove, and then following the road along Martin's Point. I get an excellent view of the water, the morning lobster boats (yes, I have chosen not the hear them) and the smell of the sea - today, the low tide smell. I usually run as far as my uncle Dave's place and back, but today I pushed it all the way to where the road ends ... another five hundred yards.

Moxie

I always drink Moxie when Downeast, the most horrific soda pop even invented. I am always surprised they still make it, I think it was bought out by Coca-Cola, but the natives raised such a hoopla they continue to make it just for them.

It's a less-sweet cola, which a subtle and extremely tasty licorice flavor ... and the nastiest aftertaste you can imagine for something that is supposed to be a sweet treat. But it's like your first beer, after a while you just enjoy the bits you like and stop paying attention to the parts you don't.

My entire extended family has taken to ripping on me every time I pour a glass.

[*actually 3.8 miles - 8/3/2014]

Monday, August 02, 2004

Full Fruit-Bowl

My article on the Spencer Tunick installation has been published in Cleveland Magazine. Three people, three different perspectives ... at least , that was the idea. Von Glahn was right, they all sound the same. We even all reported about the Nude Guy, ignorant of what the others were writing. Is that funny, or merely repetitive?

Sunday, August 01, 2004

What's On David's iPod?
Everyone Is Someone in L.A.
Felix Da Housecat
Devin Dazzle & The Neon Fever
(Do the kids still say "da bomb"? They don't, do they.)

"I want to introduce my dead son ..."

Friendship, ME

Okay, this is going back a few days, but something happened on Wednesday night I have reglected to recount. To me, it speaks volumes about the level of discourse in our nation at the present time.

We're getting ready to watch John Edwards give his acceptance speech at the Dem Nat Con. It's on PBS so Jim Lehrer is hosting, surrounded by a couple of stiffs, including David "isn't my skin smooth" Brooks. He writes luke-warm apologies for Bush for the New York Times. I think it's the luke-warm bit which supposedly makes neo-cons like to call him a liberal.

Anyway.

So Edwards is about to speak - he's been introduced by his wife, and she before by their eldest daughter. The talking heads make mention of the fact that their eldest child, a boy name Wade, was killed in 1996 in a car accident. I did not know this.

Brooks goes on to say (in a passing comment - the speech is about to begin) that he never talks about Wade in his stump speeches - and then he adds, but that will probably change tonight. Or words to that effect.

So. A man - a lawyer, yes, and a politican - has chosen to leave a great, tragic, one might suggest "life-defining" event out of his political rhetoric. This is not what I would call a casual decision. I am not suggesting he should or should not talk openly about Wade with his audiences. But it is obviously a decision, a decision for which there are definite reasons.

However, Mr. Brooks would suggest that John Edwards would go back on that choice out of some political need. Having decided to keep his personal reaction to the sudden, early death of his eldest son to himself (he does, always, acknowledge his son, by name, as a present member of the family, which is beautiful) what kind of man would he be to go back on that decision? What kind of person is Brooks suggesting he is by that comment?

I am just sick of the characterizations which have arisen in this campaign. From all I can see, Edwards is a good man. And he chose, once again, not to make Wade part of a campaign speech. Brooks was wrong, about an insignificant detail, perhaps, a small, thoughtless comment right before the speech, one we can all forget about.

... unless Edwards had chosen, instead, to make passing mention of the accident (he doesn't even do that, he refers to his eldest son as though he simply couldn't make it that night, which in a sense, it true) in which case Brooks could say "I told you so" and transform a new insight into Edwards' character as simply another political manipulation.

As Denny puts it, Brooks, like all the other heads, left right and non-existent center, are paid to write and say what people want them to say.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Talk to a local, they know what you need.

Hampton Inn: Bow (outside Concord), New Hampshire

Toni and I have a rule on road trips - no chains. We cannot eat in a franchised establishment without first making a legitimate attempt to find something home-grown. It's has always been very tempting, first leaving the Interstate, to pull into the nearest B*b E***s - D***'s - A****bee's or what have you, especially when your butt is tired and your feet are cramped. Even more so when you have an anxious toddler (who turned 18 months today, if you can believe that.)

Normally, we press on into whatever city is nearby, sometimes five miles up the road, some little burg, forgotten as a result of the big, nasty National Highway System. Thank you, Eisenhower. And we meet friendly people, the food is better, and cheaper. And it makes you feel like you've actually gone somwehere, and didn't just take a turn at Westlake.

Case in point - we load up from Syracuse around 9:30, with a resolution to go an hour before breakfast (it was a late night, we fell asleep watching Kerry's speech, and if that doesn't suggest we are all doomed, don't say I didn't warn you) and got off the turnpike at Hermiker, NY and decided to ask the Toll Booth Guy for advice. He was corpulent and had poor teeth.

"Can you recommend somewhere for breakfast?" I ask, handing him our ticket and cash.

"Okay," he says with a sigh, as though he knew I was going to ask that before we pulled up, "I can give you D***y's or a diner."

"Diner," Toni and I said, simultaneously.

He rattles off easy directions, and says the place is called "Chet's." And he was right, that place was great. Pretty homely, with lots of photographs of kids on the noteboard next to the bathrooms. The portions were not obscene and the price was right.

There was a McD*****'s up the street, the aforementioned D***y's we had passed, and a K** ... I wonder how much early morning business Chet's used to get, when it was "The Diner."

Holiday Inn: Syracuse, New York

Road Trip! We are headed for Friendship, Maine for a week with the extended family - mine and Toni's. Should be quite enjoyable - and make for a lame blog. Who knows. I have wondered whether taking a ten day vacation shortly before embarking on this NY Fringe gig would be an exercise in relaxation or futility. Will I succeed in taking an hour a day to rehearse my show, maybe out in the woods somewhere (or maybe in the outhouse, in order to approximate the size of our West Village venue) or will I merely whine about the fact that I am not rehearsing?

Yes. Interesting reading, indeed.

Anyway, Friendship is not so far afield I won't be able to check in on the company nor give regular reports on this thing. At least, I don't think so. And maybe there will be pretty pictures of puffins.

Oh, and we have indoor plumbing there. Not an outhouse. I just said that to be smart.

Next up: nagging Brian to pick up the postcards and posters to send to Harris and Liz in advance of our arrival, and then nagging them to distribute them around Downtown Manhattan (or, as they say, "Downtown.")

Nag, nag, nag.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Oops.

It’s too early to get paranoid, it really is.

Theatermania.com has put up their Fringe 2004 page – and we weren’t featured. They were holding out for payment, and who could blame them. Only we sent a check last week. I don’t know what is up with that, but we took care of it early today … and I look to see if our show is listed and it isn’t and I send this short email to them asking where is it … and then I see it and send an equally brief, contrite (is that a word?) message … but when I check the page the graphic (you know, the one with the blackmail font) is missing – it’s just not there, and I refresh and it’s still not there, and then I fear I have offended someone, so I called them.

I am such a little weenie.

However, it has been a big day for promotional doubt. I printed the Fringe Guide – it’s got the entire schedule, you can get your as a PDF file from the FringeNYC site – and, man, a whole lot of people bought ads, and they really do sell the show. I was looking at all the ads and none of the listings. We bought a big ad when ANGST:84 went to New York three years ago, but when I took one out for the Fringe guide in Minnesota, I found I was one of maybe a half-dozen shows that bothered to.

When I was beginning college, I got an advertisement in the mail for a "Freshmen 1986" guide or something like that, it looked official, like it came from the university, and I thought it might be nice to have a year-booky, orientation, memory-type thing with the pictures of the Class of 1990 or whenever we thought we might graduate. And, of course, it was some stupid, cheap thing, that not very many people fell for.

Okay, I didn’t feel that stupid about buying an ad in the Minnesota guide, and it probably helped. But I am looking at this year’s FringeNYC guide and thinking "oops."

The Next Stage

Harris attended the meeting at The Next Stage yesterday, and now we have a much better idea of where I will be performing.

My living room. That’s what he said, start rehearsing in my living room. There’s even a fireplace. The air conditioner? It’s going to be behind me. It’s a small room, the stage is 12’ x 12’. There’s a piano in the room that cannot be moved. The idea of projecting slides has to be reworked. And, as he puts it, the sound operator will have to sit on the light operator’s shoulders.

Some of the other companies were miffed at what they found. Not me. I am looking forward to it. The last performance I had (okay, not counting the Rock Hall at 5 in the morning) we had no light cues, only sound and slides. It felt a lot more intimate, even though it was in a lecture hall, there was less artifice. That worked extremely well.

As for the slides, I have suggested getting a monitor, and using that, off to the side of the stage. The place is small enough, I think that would do just fine.

And of course, they were extremely helpful when it came to rescheduling our technical rehearsal. We will be putting the show together in two hours on Aug. 17, our opening date.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

What's On David's iPod?

Zelda is.
(Thanks for asking.)

Local Media

Sarah Morton and I had a joint interview with Linda Eisenstein for the Cleveland Plain Dealer this afternoon. Even though our shows don’t open for several weeks, this story will run in time to get the word out for the Dobama performance on the 12th.

Linda is a playwright in her own right (write?) and asked a lot of really good questions about how artists influence other artists – the conversation just naturally flowed in that direction, I guess, because of the extent to which Sarah and my works have influenced each other’s. That surprises me, actually, I still think of myself as a novice writer or playwright, and I see Sarah as this genius, the idea of my having an effect on her work is flattering.

But the facts remain – I directed her first one-woman show, The Eighth Wonder of the World in 1998. That was the same year I also acted in her Love In Pieces and Eight Impressions of a Lunatic, the year Sarah told Linda she called the "David Hansen" year, though I referred to it as the "Sarah Morton" year.

Now, in spite of my being a great admirer of her work, I would have found it difficult to write my own one-person show without going to the 2001 Fringe and seeing the variety of solo shows I did. Sarah is an amazingly poetic writer, and she has a much broader vocabulary than I do. It was hard to think of writing for myself without thinking my work had to be 'heightened' in some way. However, I decided to just be myself with this story, tell it, use my journals, why not? It works for Trent Reznor.

Meanwhile, having broached such an intensely personal subject, Sarah says seeing IHT made it possible for her to feel comfortable (if that is the right word) tackling her own demons with 4 Minutes to Happy.

"Fubu"

"We just had our first line of urban apparel? Do you mean FUBAR?" - Brian

I might have meant FUBAR, but I think I really meant BUFU which means something similar, but a lot less passive.

G.O.D.

Harris is our man in New York (we have a woman in New York, too – Hi, Liz!) and he is acting as ACR at a technical meeting this afternoon. We will be asking the important questions, checking with other companies about getting a screen, or using our projector, or whatever deals he can carve. And he will have a camera, so we will have photos of the space tonight.

And then I will have a much better idea of where I will be, literally, on the 17th.

I pressed Harris for a bio earlier for the program and he asked what his title was and I said "Technical Operator" unless there was something else he preferred. He told me … and I suggested instead we call him "General Operations Director" so we don’t offend anyone.

Monday, July 26, 2004

AIR CONDITIONING

Yes, it is a lot of fun to open an email from your Authorized Company Representative that begins:

DO NOT PANIC WHEN YOU READ THIS EMAIL!!!

We have had our first major fubu. Every show gets one tech rehearsal, the duration is dictated by the length of your show. Our show opens Tuesday, Aug. 17. Our technical rehearsal has been scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 10.

A full week before our show opens. And four days before we can leave for New York. Suddenly the fact that the space we are booked for - the space a number of the shows we are sharing it with will also find surprising – which was touted for it’s a/v capabilities, has neither a projector nor a screen.

We have our own projector. The screen is a minor inconvenience. The tech rehearsal hurts.

Anyway, Brian is working on it, and Grundik will hopefully be able to work something out with the space. Hopefully. I am not sure what comes next if he can’t, but we are a small show, with very limited tech. Actually, I think all the shows in that space are, but hey, uh … we’re from Cleveland.

That’s the bad news. The good news? AIR CONDITIONING!

That’s going on the website. AIR CONDITIONING!

Happy birthday to me.

New developments: Harris has found a rocking chair in NYC. I always need a new rocking chair, it’s like the drummer in Spinal Tap. I had one in Cleveland, it split. Denny found one in Minnesota; I bought it, brought it home, it split.

Harris’ rocking chair is metal. Take that.

You can now download the haunting opening melody from the show, composed by the incomparable Dennis Yurich.

Saturday, July 24, 2004


Calliope Katherine Koesters!

Nick and Carolyn had a baby!

Calliope was born Thursday, July 22 at 8:16 am at Lakewood Hospital. She weighed 7 pounds and was 20 and 1/4 inches long. Meg Chamberlain performed as doula. Everyone is "happy and healthy."

Gen X. Our kids' names rock.
What’s On David’s iPod?
Slow (Chemical Brothers Mix)
Kylie Minogue
Music from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
(Metrosexual? Please, we prefer ‘fey’.)

Lush Life

When Toni and I were honeymooning we came across this fabulous skin product shop in Vancouver called LUSH. Their entire deal is that their stuff is "handmade" and contains "natural" ingredients. Whatever. We just love what they make and it’s a real guilty pleasure.

One a year or so we get a box of happy things from them, and as time goes by I think I get more stuff for me than Toni does for herself.

I have developed an unhappy T-zone which is delighted by the exfoliating effects of my new bar of Fresh Farmacy as well as a post-shower treatment of Imperialis (contents include lavender, mullein leaf, orange blossom water and olive oil, among a number of lovely butters.) I also have a new shaving mucilage, as well as a body bar that fairly reeks of patchouli.

I like being a girl.

Hair Loss

Next question: How in the hell did a local "hair restoration" business get their hands on 1) my parents address in Lakewood attached to 2) my birth name, which I have not used since 1986, replete with the information that 3) I have male pattern baldness?

These places infuriate me. They begin by stating "hair loss has plagued mankind for centuries," and reassure me that "with the advances of medical technology, there is no reason to suffer from hair loss."

F*** you very much, is all I can say, I am not plagued, and neither do I suffer. You know, I got a hairpiece once, for a show. Never used it again, I think it looks ridiculous. I named it Hell Toupee.

I never had a nice time with my hair, I could never do anything with it. I have to conduct a poll among my friends who go back that far – which, admittedly, number about two – and ask whether I looked better then or now.

What really irks me is how neurotic guys are about hair loss. I think I was better off losing so much so fast when I was young. I started thinning when I was 22 or 23 and was pretty much where I am now in about six years. Any social adjustment I needed to make took place a long time ago, and the only people I know who make jokes … well, okay, the only person who makes jokes is Nick. What a surprise.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

What’s On David’s iPod?
Closer
Nine Inch Nails
The Downward Spiral
(Old school. This is old school.)

Bizarre Milestone

Ten years ago this Friday, I committed adultery. This, in and of itself, was not unusual. My wife and I had both gotten into the habit. I was about to turn 26. She was about to turn 24. It is, I imagine, something a lot of young couples do, or at least more than you might imagine.

What makes this date worth noting is that unlike previous dalliances (I would never have used the word ‘dalliance’ when I was 26, it would have made me feel old) was that the woman to whom I made what an entirely successful pass was an old high school friend of my wife.

That friend is named Toni.

It became, you can safely assume, a horrible, wonderful mess. And in hindsight you can speculate on the correctness of Toni’s and my decisions, but I wouldn’t give us that much credit. We were not clairvoyant, but we did fall in love, and there was little else we could do about that.

The wife (now the ex-wife) and I had been married for a few days shy of eighteen months at that point. Zelda will be a few days shy of eighteen months on Friday. I used to think my ex-wife and I hadn’t been married very long when Toni and I started fooling around, but when I put it that way I am not so sure.

In any event, I was listening to an awful lot of Nine Inch Nails back then.

Ten years is a very long time. I assume my ex-wife still despises me, she attempted to be in touch with me in 1999, five years ago (five years was also the amount of time between when she and I began dating and when we decided to get divorced: 1989 to 1994) but that turned out to be a mistake, she seemed to think I was still cheating on her or that I cared what she thought of that. I admit, I can use all the friends I can get, but it’s been a long time since I thought I needed forgiveness for what turned out to be the right decision.

Man. Toni and I were together for seven years before we lost Calvin. And it’s been only three years since then. And soon I turn 36. On my eighteenth birthday (1986) I changed my name to David. That means David is turning eighteen.

I thought of emailing my ex-wife this year. Another five years, why not? But I couldn’t figure out why, either, so I haven't. Recently she had her first child, a son. He lives. His name has the same number of letters as Calvin’s, has four out of six of the same letters as Calvin’s, and sounds like Calvin, if you say it while holding your own tongue. Don’t blame me if I thought that was really weird. Though probably not nearly as weird as your imagining me worrying all that through.

Or any of the rest of it.

Monday, July 19, 2004

What’s In David’s iPod?
All Night
Sam Phillips
A Boot & A Shoe
(Christians need to get laid, too.)

Describe Your Art, Please. Do Not Panic.

More free publicity – check out nytheatre.com’s FringeNYC exclusive previews. It’s great, you only have to answer these three questions:

1. What is your show about?
2. Why should audiences see your show?
3. What can audiences expect when they see your show?

Toni and I fretted over the text for our preview piece (oh ... uhm, I mean Tommy did) for some time on Saturday. It’s not as easy as you might think.

But the results are very good - people get to go into some detail about their show in a way their one line on the FringeNYC site can’t. Suddenly I have a desire to see THE BICYCLE MEN or BROWNTOWN where I may not have considered them before.

And then there are those whose previews do not help at all, I am sorry to say. YOU WILL LAUGH!!! (they desperately wail) YOU WILL LAUGH AND LAUGH – OH GOD THIS WILL BE THE FUNNIEST THING YOU WILL EVER SEE !!!!!!!!! JESUS CHRIST THIS IS FUNNY, PLEASE, PLEASE BELIEVE ME!!!!!! AAAAUUUGGGGHHHHH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s only July, and I smell flop sweat.

As for me, us, our show … well, how is this; "You can expect to see a man talking about his dead child for an hour and ten minutes." Yes, I should have written that. Or how about, "You will not see him cry, he will never scream, you will not be made to feel uncomfortable, we really, really, really promise."

One of the things Toni (I mean Tom) really dislikes about what … our company submitted is the use of the word "acceptance." It suggests we are all right with Calvin’s death, or that we are "over it." I suggested other words and phrases like "acquiesce" or "surrender" or "give in."

Other words … Tom avoided using in the preview (and would have recommended to others, had they asked) were poignant, uplifting, heal and laugh.

Oh and "resigned," that was another good one we threw out. We also made sure we did not suggest our play is a musical.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

THE FUTURE ... and the past

Toni went to see Fahrenheit 9/11 last night. She was impressed by a number of things - and by impressed I mean it left an emotional impression on her – but the one which is most relevant in this context was his handling of the attack in New York itself. This is probably old news by now, but he leaves the screen black, with just the sound of the planes striking the Towers.

Seeing the image of that horrible occurrence – again – is unnecessary to revisit the horror, the grief, the sadness, the helplessness, all of it.

I have a scene in my play called THE FUTURE, which details my reaction to those events. September 11 was almost six months after we lost Calvin. We were going through our own grief process, and suddenly, so was absolutely everyone else. And new trauma, even entirely unrelated trauma, can rip open old wounds. I tried to write about that in a way that made sense to my audience.

That worked in Cleveland. And Minneapolis. But I didn't think it would work in New York. Not the way I had written it. I invite the audience in; yes, we were all on the same page for a moment, you were with me then. Because my audiences to date weren’t there, they were watching it on t.v or listening on the radio, as I was.

So I have rewritten it. And rewritten it. I have been trying to make it work. Without sounding apologetic. Without sounding provincial. Without sounding petty, or insensitive or super-self-absorbed. I lost a child. I do not know if I will be addressing someone who lost a brother or a parent – or a child – in those attacks.

And I hate that. I hate defining this part of my play by what I do not want it to be.

This is where Toni’s experience with Michael Moore’s film comes in. She says it’s best to be honest. Just tell my audience what’s happened, what I meant to say, and say that.

I am strongly considering doing that. Just throwing the thing out, turning up the house lights, explaining the situation and moving on.

This is a shame, because as it is THE FUTURE has one of the biggest laughs in the show. And as a performer, I am trying to figure out how to keep as much funny as I can. But as the playwright, I need to figure out how best to serve the story.

Amazing how controversial this one scene is. I guess that makes sense. Some find its inclusion a distraction from Calvin’s story, but it isn’t his fault he had to die in 2001.