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.