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Random access commentary, images, links, and desiderata from Mike Daisey.

Updated: 2010-05-01T00:22:47.434-04:00



Hello, internet.

We are relocating this blog to a new site and the RSS feed is changing. If you are reading this blog via RSS, the new RSS feed will be

Good night, and good luck.




Hello All,

I'm writing this from Chicago, where we're performing
HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA and THE LAST CARGO CULT in a doubleheader until May 9th. We're at Victory Gardens in a fantastic, intimate space—and there are still tickets for some nights available at this link.

After Chicago we will begin a world tour which takes us to the
Sydney Opera House in Australia, Hong Kong, mainland China, and Ireland. We'll be on the road over two months taking the monologues to new audiences everywhere, and hopefully come home with some new stories to share.

If you know folks in Chicago or abroad, please consider letting them know that we'll be in their area. Details of all the upcoming shows can be found at my site, and we'll be making updates from the road...and that link is:

I would close with something pithy in Gaelic, Chinese, and Australian, but I do not speak any of those languages.

Be seeing you,



collective leverage: Thanks, Mike


collective leverage: Thanks, Mike:

I’m obviously not in the business of recommending shows here. But, last night I saw the Mike Daisey piece “How Theater Failed America” at VG. I hadn’t seen it before, but I have been a part of numerous discussions about the piece, read interviews with him and read opinions about the piece. I was prepared to hate the piece and to absolutely loathe him, but I thought I should see it. I am now Mike Daisey’s #1 fan. I had thought about the piece as an indictment of institutional theatre, which, until I took this job, I had worked in most of my adult life. It’s not an indictment, it’s a freaking love story. It’s so much bigger and more powerful and more personal and full of truth and beauty and by the way absolutely hilarious than anything I have read or talked about or heard talked about. All the talking about it just doesn’t do the piece justice. Do I disagree with some of the points he makes? Yup, sure I do, but I disagree with plenty of playwrights, that doesn’t mean I’m not profoundly affected by what they have to say. Whatever you might think about what he has to say, whatever you might think you know about what he has to say, this, for me, was a great night in the theatre.

Hai Fleisch at Cuda Cabaret



REVIEW: Mike Daisey – How Theater Failed America « Chicago Theater Blog


REVIEW: Mike Daisey – How Theater Failed America « Chicago Theater Blog:

“You should not have come here,” begins Mike Daisey in his one-man tour de force of nature, How Theater Failed America. For one thing, he continues, the title of the show sucks – ( “What is this, a fucking film strip?”) For another, Daisey’s simultaneously bleak and brilliant autobiographical walk down the memory lane of his career will outrage the politically correct. It will also send those who view theater as a sacred, noble art spiraling and screaming down a wild rabbit hole of profane realty. (Spoiler alert: Those who want to cling to the myth of “community” in theater should stay home and stick to their Twitter confabs.) It’s fair to ask why anyone other than out-of-work actors (which is to say – more or less – actors) should give a whit about the death of theater or about Daisey’s scathing monologue. Will the grid go dark if all of the world’s liberal arts grads collectively decide never to mount another revival of A View from the Bridge? Does the world’s well-being rest on an endless cycle of revisionist Ibsen? Of course not. Yet this is where Daisey’s explosive and formidable talent becomes so gloriously apparent. Directed by Jean-Michele Gregory, How Theater Failed America will be powerfully entertaining even to those who could not care less about whether Becket and Brecht vanish from the face of the earth, washed away by the likes of “The Little Mermaid”. As for those with a vested interest in the arts, they will find themselves repeatedly shocked and undeniably entertained by the galvanizing candor of Daisey’s observations. The man articulates truths that just aren’t spoken aloud and in doing so, breaks what often feels like a conspiracy of silence among artists.

137/365 - HDR - Poole.Hamworthy.Sunset.@.1150x365





Five things to do today: April 29 | The TOC Blog | Time Out Chicago


Five things to do today: April 29 | The TOC Blog | Time Out Chicago:

In monologuist Mike Daisey’s reckoning, the American institutional theater has become an industry that’s more invested in real estate than real artists; this is a piece that’s not to be missed by anyone who cares about theater.

Sunset Glow Palouse




It’s always a delicate thing to comment on reviews—as a rule theater artists never do. Recently Neil LaBute violated this guideline in the comments section at TimeOut Chicago in an unfortunate series of posts that capture exactly why this rule makes sense.However, I also believe that the absence of real dialogue in American theatrical discourse is one of its core weaknesses—and since I strive to embrace the change I want to see, I’m going to address a number of points made by Chris Jones in his review of HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA for the Chicago Tribune.“On the other hand — and this is the other side of the coin to which Daisey gives short-shrift — there would be howls of anguish from the bleachers if the Chicago Cubs suddenly announced they were going to hire their players entirely from within the city of Chicago.”I give them short-shrift in the piece because it’s a false dichotomy. What institution in the American theater is going to “suddenly” do anything? And where did anyone dictate “entirely”? There are still presenting organizations in Chicago to bring work in, and I’m expecting commercial theater to follow where the money is—and if that’s casting stars, that’s what they will do.I’m advocating most specifically for non-profit theaters, especially the largest ones, to return to their original mandates and support artists by integrating them back into the life of the theaters—to move away from believing that real estate is more important than what happens inside the building. I advocate for this not only because it is humane, but because the institutions desperately need this change—without it they lose more and more identity every year, and can’t understand why their audiences are slipping away and not being replaced.The problem of the artists being so supported and comfortable that the work becomes static is one that has afflicted ensembles in parts of Russia and Europe at times—it’s a real issue when it raises its head, and a thorny one to untangle. This is so far from the central economic realities that confront us in American theater that it’s laughable. Non-profit theaters whose missions are supporting arts and artists routinely build multimillion dollar buildings and won’t raise their workers wages over starvation levels with no possibility of security or connection of any kind. That is the story that is untold outside the world of the theater.“And, being an out of-towner with a scripted show, Daisey doesn't note that most Chicago theaters cast locally and rely on an ensemble tradition.”As anyone familiar with my monologues should know, they are unscripted. They are performed extemporaneously from an outline, and refined through performance. To the best of my ability on each night, I tell the story I want to tell to the people in the room.The story I’m telling at Victory Gardens is the story Chicago needs to hear. The monologue is not called:HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA EXCEPT MAYBE CHICAGO IS AWESOMEOrHOW CHICAGO SAVED THEATER AND SHOULD CONGRATULATE ITSELF EVEN MORE THAN IT ALREADY DOES FOR GETTING IT RIGHTIt’s called HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA because it is about the failure of the American theater to be relevant and vital in our culture, and the decisions we made about what to support within this art form. It’s about all of us, and we all share in this problem.I love Chicago theater—a lot of the best work I’ve ever seen comes from here, and the ecology is deep and varied. I love the commitment to ensembles, the explosion of devised work, and the spirit of its artists is inspiring.Peel back the surface however and it isn’t so utopian. Many of y[...]



Microsoft's PR Department Must Be Shitting Their Pants Right Now | Slog | The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper


Microsoft's PR Department Must Be Shitting Their Pants Right Now | Slog | The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:

The piece—front page! main story!—goes on to say that "Like an insurgency, PowerPoint has crept into the daily lives of military commanders and reached the level of near obsession." General Petraeus calls sitting through a PowerPoint presentation "just agony." Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps says, "PowerPoint makes us stupid." General H. R. McMaster—"who banned PowerPoint presentations when he led the successful effort to secure the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005"—is quoted as saying that PowerPoint is "dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control. Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable." Commanders also say that "the program stifles discussion" and that "the slides impart less information than a five-page paper can hold." A retired Marine colonel refers to giving half-hour PowerPoint presentations as "hypnotizing chickens." The Times refers casually to "the numbing sensation that accompanies a 30-slide briefing" and reports that "senior officers say the program does come in handy when the goal is not imparting information."

Empire Hotel



From All Directions at Once: Kenneth Hite on Cthulhu & Creativity « Booklife


From All Directions at Once: Kenneth Hite on Cthulhu & Creativity « Booklife:

But more significantly, and I think more permanently, Cthulhu is a very, very important monster for the modern age. He symbolizes the kinds of vast, impersonal, inevitable, unknowable fears we have now: global warming, terrorism, ecocide, future shock, and so forth. Lovecraft invented Cthulhu (at least in part) as a response to Einstein and Shapley and Hale demonstrating that the universe could not be known or mapped. It was too big, and our view was too limited. That still scares us today; we want to believe that we matter, and Cthulhu is there to say that we really don’t. That’s why he’s still calling to writers and artists even after 80-plus years.

Microsoft wins its $100M tax-break and amnesty from broke-ass Washington State - Boing Boing


Microsoft wins its $100M tax-break and amnesty from broke-ass Washington State - Boing Boing:

As the Washington State Legislature wound down its special session to close a $2.8 billion fiscal deficit, Microsoft's General Counsel Brad Smith successfully used a carefully timed press conference making veiled threats about tax rates as a concern regarding future job expansion in Washington State. Led by Finance Chair Rep. Ross Hunter, a 17 year former Microsoft manager, the Legislature gave Microsoft two huge gifts: a $100 million annual tax cut and an estimated $1.25 billion in amnesty on its 13 year Nevada tax dodge. To make ends meet, the Legislature cut $120 million from K-12 education and $73 million from university budgets. It also raised the general tax rate on businesses from 1.5% to 1.8% and created new '7-11' taxes on the Average Joe on beer, soda and candy. The benefits of 4,700 at-risk unemployed people with disabilities will expire in the coming year. No word on how cash-strapped Washington plans to address Smith's concerns about its educational system and transportation infrastructure.



MacNN | Jobs consoles partner of cancer victim via e-mail


MacNN | Jobs consoles partner of cancer victim via e-mail:

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has written an increasingly common personal response to an e-mail message from the public, this time one thanking him for wielding political influence in California. Following recovery from a liver transplant, Jobs used his clout to help push for a change to California law -- still pending -- which would ask everyone renewing a driver's license whether they want to be an organ donor. Jobs resorted to his wealth to secure an out-of-state operation, whereas many Californians have died waiting for donors.

The person writing to Jobs, identified simply as a Cupertino man named "James," remarks that a girlfriend of his died two years ago when melanoma spread to her liver. James applauds the executive, calling him a "hometown hero." In response Jobs is said to have sent a brief, one-line e-mail from his iPad.

"Your [sic] most welcome, James," the message reads. "I'm sorry about your girlfriend. Life is fragile."

Theme 52 - Four elements / Water



Apple Gestapo: How Apple Hunts Down Leaks - Apple Worldwide Loyalty Team - Gizmodo


Apple Gestapo: How Apple Hunts Down Leaks - Apple Worldwide Loyalty Team - Gizmodo:

Of course, all this is voluntary. Management recommends that you relinquish your phones. If you don't do it they will fire you, or they will investigate why you didn't want to give them your cellphone. Simultaneously, everyone is asked to sign NDA's during the investigations, even though they already signed Apple NDAs to work there.

"I was at several events. When they find what they are looking for—which they usually do—the person is asked to stay until the end of the business day. Then he is asked to leave the premises quietly, escorted by security," Tom says. While he's there, the special forces hang around, watching. "There is a lot that goes behind doors that I don't really know about. I do know, however, that they really interrogate people that are serious suspects, intimidating them by threatening to sue."

There is no way to know how often this happens, however, as everything is handled very quietly. The same Worldwide Loyalty Team does many other things to keep everyone in check, from searching out the email history of every employee—which is also a normal practice in other corporations and government agencies—to seeding fake images to catch potential leaks and diffuse the hype about some product introductions.

As Tom was describing all this, my mind was getting back to all I've read about Steve Jobs and Apple, back when he was El Capitán of the brave group of free pirates who created the Macintosh. The Mac was a secret project too, but there was no secret police making sure there were no leaks. After a hard day of work, all the Mac team sometimes played on the beaches of California, careless and happy, confident that this new revolutionary computer would change the world, one desktop at a time. All of them shared information, there were no seeeecrets, and that's why they came up with an "insanely great" computer, as Steve Jobs himself used to refer to it.

The Carroll Gardens Diary: Lana's Barber Shop: Making The Cut For Over 20 Years


The Carroll Gardens Diary: Lana's Barber Shop: Making The Cut For Over 20 Years:

The antique sign at 523 Henry Street doesn't credit her name but long-time customers will know this barber shop as Lana's Barber Shop. Once offered three-thousand dollars for the sign, natives can rest assured that it won't be sold or replaced anytime soon. In a rapidly changing neighborhood such as this one, some things deserve to stay put.




Apple Didn't Leak the iPhone—and Why That Matters - lost iPhone - Gizmodo


Apple Didn't Leak the iPhone—and Why That Matters - lost iPhone - Gizmodo:

For the better part of a decade, Apple has been the most secretive consumer company in the world. In an age of blogging vice-presidents and corporate Twitter accounts, Apple communicates with all the garrulousness of a defense contractor.

Ask journalists who have dealt with Apple PR and they'll tell you the same story: Apple is the most annoying company to work with in the business. At best, they're finicky, imposing ridiculous demands for simple requests like borrowing test products; at worst—and most commonly—they just won't respond to requests.

Once you've got the ear of Apple, they're great. Human, considerate, and helpful. But make a mistake or step on their toes and they shut off your drip. That's their system—and it works brilliantly. If you want access to Apple, you can't upset them. And since nothing gets attention like Apple products, it behooves those in the tech enthusiast press to stay in Apple's good graces.



When all else fails...