Friday, December 28, 2007

Pakistan on my Mind.

I found out that Benazir Bhutto had been assisinated in, of all places, the elevator. The news flashed on one of those "captivision" televisions that are de-riguer in most high-end office buildings. I mean, god forbid, we just be in an elevator sans stimuli. I gasped and I am still gasping at the news and the photographs of (even more) turmoil that have been unleashed in that part of the world. I read about it all day yesterday, her life as the offspring of a powerful and aristocratic Kennedy-esque (by way of Pakistan) family. The streak of tragedy and corruption that ran through her life. She sounded supremely flawed, like all leaders, and, of course, terrifyingly brave almost like a character out of a novel. I read that her minders didn't want her to go into the crowd and expose herself but she was apparently unfazed and bullheaded about addressing her supporters in the flesh, so to speak. It never ceases to amaze me how almost all human beings are capable of such extreme acts of courage and cowardice.

Of course, the U.S. news is focused on how all of this will affect the "Global War on Terror". I really wish that phrase would stop being printed and repeated. It's so laughably Orwellian and utterly meaningless; an advertising slogan not a policy and printing it gives it credibility. At any rate, I did remind me how, by comparison, life here seems so, well, placid. The past (nearly) eight years of governance have been so awful and the response, by and large, has been so utterly tepid, defeated almost. I am not, by any means, suggesting that turmoil is a sign of a healthy civic life but our culture seems like it's at the almost opposite end of the extreme. I sometimes look around at my peers, my friends, and, well, myself and am reminded of that frog in boiling water metaphor/analogy i.e. put the frogs in cold water and they won't jump out, slowly boil the water and the frogs won't realize that anything is wrong until they are floating on top i.e there will be no trouble closing the lid.

Well, that's dark...maybe too dark and it is an election year afterall. And, perhaps, the extreme cultural/political amnesia we've experienced these past eight years will begin to wear off and the great American mass will realize that if they don't act now, events like the ones happenning in Pakistan - corruption, military rule, quasi-dictatorship, phony elections, politics for keeps - will become a daily reality here too.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


"Home" I am vaguely obsessed with the concept, now that we've started asking questions about what that is, or what that means to people and, interestingly, how many times when the question is asked how torn or unsure most reponses are. And, to that end, I took the Greyhound Bus (to me an American icon of a bygone era). I get on it and immeadiately start thinking of that Simon and Garfunkel song that has that refrain "Kathy I said as we boarded the greyhound in Pittsburgh, I'm empty and aching and I don't know why, it took me four days to hitchhike to Saganau, I've come to look for A...MMMM...EEEE...RRRR....IIII....CCCC....AAAA".. And, the Port Authority is quite an experience the day before the most travelled holiday of the year, Thanksgiving. I had the offensive thought as I joined the many feets-long line and began the process of waiting to get on a seriously overbooked bus that I knew how it felt to be one of those poor and huddled masses at Ellis island minus, you know, the stakes of a new life and the hope and terror the new arrivals must have felt. The only thing I feel as I stand in the line is something approximating severe irritation.

Finally, we board over an hour past the time that was scheduled. I wonder if somewhere President Bush is clutching his forehead over the bus delays like he did over flight delays but I doubt it, the bus is, mainly, the refuge of the poor - real Americans own cars or take planes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Music Industry

Would this man have stood a chance of getting his videos played on MTV (if he were just starting out and not a bona-fide legend being produced by Trent Reznor)???

Just wondering...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wander Lust

Ooooh, I'm in love with travelling again but I was never out of love with travelling but I am often out-of-pocket which is a discreet way of saying: I'm a pauper and travelling is for rich folk or very crafty aid-workers or diplomat types. I grew up travelling so it's in the blood, kid. But, then again, who doesn't have the yen to blow this Taco Stand for places unfamiliar (though, uh, I've mainly been to Western Europe lately so that hardly qualifies as "exotic" or "foreign" even).

I've promised myself that the next trip I pay for (and, luckily, eventhough I've travelled a decent amount these past few years they've mainly been for theater gigs which means: me no pay) Besides, I want to get out of the Western Europe travel vortex. I'm talking whole other continents, people! And to that end, I am putting it in print and on the web in order to make it, somehow, more real and to make myself accountable to my own travel...lust(!).

And so, in no particular order, the top 3:

Vietnam and Cambodia (Does that count as 2?)

Chalk it up to watching "Apocolypse Now, Redux" one too many times... Not really, I have friends who have gone and say that it is astoundingly beautiful and that the people are, surprisingly, warm given that fact that we dropped Napalm on their children only thirty years ago. Oh, being an American is fun, isn't it? I think I am just generally fascinated by countries that have, for better or worse, been irreversably changed by colonialism and the former Indochine certainly falls into that category. Plus, I know this might be lame but...I love vietnamese food! The most delicate and piquant of all asian cooking (mint? lemongrass? vietnamese coffee?!). Plus, a communist/buddhist country with capitalist leanings is worth a visit, no?


I am itching to go back to South America though Peru just sufferred a terrible earthquake...but I want to see Machu Pichu before the acid rain washes away the last remnants of the once great Inca empire. Plus (here we go with the food again): cerviche? potatoes with cheese? arroz con pollo? Itchy sweaters and hats with ear flaps? Plus, it's relatively cheap and after spending a month in Europe I need to visit countries where the dollar is still king (or just not almost worthless).


Truth and Reconciliation Committee! Nelson Mandela! Home to the next World Cup! Plus, I met a very cool South African in Edinburgh who made his country sound pretty incredible - joyous, beautiful. Again, I've heard it on good authority that it's the kind of place you don't want to leave and the political transformation of South Africa is fascinating. Plus, I've never eaten the food so that alone merits a visit.

Now, I just have to steadily amass a fortune which between temping and acting gigs should be doable in about 30 some-odd years after I give up my apartment and go live with my parents. But I can DREAM and thus make this happen.

Travel or Shrivel!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I saw 24 Plays last Month or some thoughts on Theater (cue the Snoring).

I saw 24 plays last month or 24 shows or or whatever you want to call them. Some of them were performance "experiences" I guess, but the majority of them were plays. And, dear me, I came away with the thought, that I often have, which goes something like "making a good play is so hard" and "theater is so subjective"... Actually, in a fit of pretension one night I even likened it to proving the existence of God (I was getting all St. Thomas Aquinos on their asses). are a few things I came away with in terms of "what I want to see in when I am sitting in the dark" (ahem).

So without further ado -- Here in, ahhh yes, the always trusty, always reliable, numerical list format

1. A Story

I'm a sucker for a good beginning, middle and end. I am going to throw out all the usual cliches like when I see a play "I want you take me with you" and "bring me on a journey" blah, blah, etc. etc. Serioulsy though, maybe the time for non-linear, deliberately obtuse to the point of incoherence theater/storytelling is over (thank god). I don't want to be spoonfed by any means but from where I am sitting clairty is king. Now, that doesn't mean everything needs to be a clean point A) to point B) but if you want a mess on stage - let me, the audience member, know why. I can't care about your characters or their actions or the world artificially being created in front of me if I don't understand what the f!@#$ is going on and I don't mean in that ambigious Harold Pinter kind of way.

2. Cultural Authenticity

Hmmmmm, this is a tough one and I hestiate to put it out there but..the worst thing I saw at the Fringe was a British play set in the heart of white trash Americana (though they wouldn't have described it that way). Man oh man, was it phoney in the worst possible way - finger wagging, self-righteous which means it was also smug and humorless! Think Lars van Trier movie but not nearly as good (he's never been to the United States either but writes/makes those great DOGMA film allegories about the injustices of the Fat American Empire). For the record, Dancer in the Dark is one of my favorite things...when the dog bites, when the bee stings... But, really, I am not sure I would want to see an American do a play about the chav's who roam the British housing tenements. It's hard enought to write a play that doesn't reduce your own county members to two-dimensional cariactures but it's nearly impossible not to do it when writing about the "other" (especially ones as ubiqioutious and, at times, offensive as Americans). I am not sure what the solution is... Is it to keep theater local just like produce? I dunno but if you are going to take on another country's culture (especially the weakestmembers among them) make sure you do it with a wide embrace.

3. Writing RULES!

A beautiful play, a visually beautiful play, a feast for the eyes, a sumptious sensory experience unless it's a William Forsythe ballet or Charles Bukowski stories done with puppets (which I didn't see but I heard on very good authority was muthf@!#g amazing) is nothing if the writing is shit. It's just becomes so much window dressing - momentary distractions and utterly forgettable.

4. Actors shouldn't be critics

Yikes, I have a lot of opinions which, like a true actor, I am very good at running at the mouth and talking about after I've seen a show...within, of course, the correct amount of politcally safe walking distance of said show. However, I will say, with great sincerity, this is an art-form I love, even if the culture couldn't give a shit and most of our audience are going the way of the Dodo bird, so I wish I had fallen in love with more of the 24 shows that I sat through (in true Bogart fashion - leaning forward, arms uncrossed)...

But, theater, like faith, can't be willed - you're either a believer or your not.

Monday, September 03, 2007

And so the Nostalgia sets in...(a few thoughts on being "abroad").

Of course, when it was all over and even in the midst of being there and doing performance # 24, I kept on having the same thought, the same reoccurring thought, which went something like "jesus christ, we really pulled this off, we are in Scotland, we are back in Edinburgh, I can see the Castle from my window and I am doing my castmate's dishes, we're back, Baby, we're back." When we were selling Shoni's t.v. and my hardback copy of "Kafka on the Shore" and Kim's juicer/hotpants/Nina Simone record/DVD of Napoleon Dynamite during our ghetto-fabulous stoop sale on Bedford Avenue in the middle of June I wasn't so sure we were going to pull it off. But, oh boy, we did and we did it, if I do say so myself, with aplomb! Plus, the cliche is true: the harder you work, the sweeter the rewards or maybe you can chalk that up to being brought up with the whole American "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" ethos.

The Fringe Festival in Edinburgh a magical experience, a kind of delicious bubble (think College) where the only thing that matters for a whole month is doing the best show that you can do, drinking the best beer you can after you do said best show, then seeing the other "best shows" that other people are doing in the Festival, and drinking more of that best beer, and then having the best hook-ups (it's a town full of actors - perfect for superficial intimacy and built-in endings!!!) and getting up the next day and doing it all over again.

And, what makes it all so wonderful is that it's this finite month so you are constantly aware that time is running away from you - you are forced to Carpe Diem whether you want to or not.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Chicken Little

I had the curious thought this weekend about the Iraq War… what if we were winning? Would George Bush be so despised? I have a theory that the reason Americans are turning away from him in such droves is not because he is an incompetent, piece-of shit, liar but because he is a loser. We hate losers and we hate losing; it goes against our mythology and it contradicts our status as the world’s last remaining hyper-power. Scary to think that if we were winning Karl Rove really would have crowned the Emperor and the Republicans would, indeed, be solidifying their plans for a fifty-year reign.

I had this thought because I think about the Iraq war everyday . The news out of Baghdad and beyond reinforces the disparity at play in the world still I move along with my life: I shop, I rehearse, I pursue my goals, I read US Weekly, I party, I even hope but there is a sense of unease about how world events are playing out around me. I am often accused of being a “Debbie Downer” because I can’t quite divorce myself from the fact that much of the world seems to be spinning into ever greater chaos and barbarism by the day.

Chalk it up to listening to too much NPR.

Needless to say, I spend a fair amount of time feeling guilty. Sure, I have had my share of hardships but none of them involve a roadside bomb or death in crowded marketplace because I needed to get some rice. I am not exactly sure how to turn my guilt, my frustration, my rage really, into meaningful action. I suspect that there are a fair amount of Americans who feel as I do and I hope (yes, this is where hope comes in) we collectively put down our credit cards and shopping bags, turn off the tv’s and do something about it one day. Till then I will try and temper my chicken-little speech and live my life as honorably as I can, silently honoring those suffering at home and away.

Friday, July 13, 2007


I haven’t blogged in a year. At least.


I lost my taste for it and, more to the point, life took over – it took over in that nagging, kind-of “oh god, where did my day go?” and “when will I have time to do my laundry” kind of way. Oh yeah, and I really committed to being part of a theater company which is the equivalent of getting married and having a baby. Seriously. It’s a commitment only you’re married to, about, five other people and there’s no sex. More like plural marriage. Think “Big Love” without the Mormonism.

So for all of you reading this who I don’t see on a daily basis which is to say, no one, I am still trucking along (as R. Crumb would say). Still doing the office monkey thing and, yes, still acting despite the protestations of my mother. My sweet mother (I love her and that is said without irony or snarkiness) who is merely worried and can’t understand why I keep shrugging off permanent jobs that offer the promise of health care and a 401K, for the chance to runoff with the gypsies because they have offered me a spot in the circus.

And speaking of running off with gypsies… I am about to. In about two weeks I am off to the Edinburgh Fringe for a month. Shalimar (said, theater company/plural marriage, I mentioned) is off to Scotland to show our wares, our latest show, our, yes, screaming baby (I am never one to let go of a metaphor even a bad, cliché-ridden one). And…that is, in part, why, folks, I decided it was time to blog again –to document life for the next month in the thieves’ den.

I’ll get a 401K when I’m forty (sorry, Mom!).

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Shalimar proudly (re)presents "stirring" March 16th, 17th, 18 and March 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th AT the InterArt Annex.

Shalimar is (re)throwing up one of our most popular pieces “stirring”! “stirring” is a modern-day Pygmalion tale inspired by real life personal ads, blogs and emails and tells a bittersweet and funny story of 7 New York hipsters navigating the line between fantasy, lust, love, hope and reality.

ON March 17th, 23rd and 24th: Please Join Us for a Night of Hipster Speed Dating after the Show !!

Even though it's snowing Spring is just around the corner and we're in the mood for love! Leave your laptop behind and come out and speed date. Watch our show, have a few Brooklyn Brewery Beers (on us!), and then get ready to get to know the rest of the audience. The next day you might NOT be going to brunch alone...

March 17th & 24th: Straight Speed dating.
March 23d: Gay Speed dating (cause this ain't the middle ages).

FOR $ 20 you get A SHOW, 2 DRINKS AND a Chance to meet the LOVE OF YOUR LIFE or at least meet some really cool activity partners.