Archive for October, 2003


Wednesday, October 29th, 2003

It was supposed to pour down rain all day today and it hasn’t at all. Sometimes it’s the little things.

Several Christmases ago, I called my brother Ian “the laziest mother fucker on the planet”. He responded by telling me to go fuck myself, and a session of shit talking on both sides ensued. Then, we forgot about it and moved on.

We never apologized. Do I regret it? I mean… honestly, no. I don’t really care and neither does he. To say I regret it or to apologize or whatever would be a wholesale sell-out on what guys have to do occasionally. Maybe it’s because we pee standing up, but every once in a while you lean back and see how far you can make a stream of urine go. When that happens, you end up peeing on people. It sucks, it’s unpleasant and the women who share our lives with us have to deal with us ranting and raving about what assholes we all are, but there you go. It has to be done.

Plus, how could I possible claim that Ian is the laziest mother fucker on the planet. There are lots of lazy mother fuckers, and I’m willing to bet Ian isn’t even in the top 25%. Also, I like Tessa’s assertation that there is no such thing as laziness, only fear. That appeals to me, as a lazy mother fucker, so I’m gonna hold on to it.

Anyway, bearing that in mind, this will not be the blog it was going to be. It was gonna be a blog about how I just can’t be a Lakers fan anymore. Malone breaking people’s teeth, Devean George not living up to his huge contract, Shaq being an immature jerk, Kobe, aside from raping a girl, being a jackass, Phil Jackson usurping eastern mystical ideas for a completely western experience, Jerry West long gone, my own conflicts with the idea of Los Angeles, etc.

But last night watching the Lakers play was just so gorgeous. To see the very best players in the NBA at three positions, and to watch the role players score at will when their defender was defending everyone else was wonderful. It could be that I have been a fan too long, that the gold and purple jerseys rubbed my eyes the right way. But it was great basketball, and it’s fun to watch. So, let Kobe and Shaq call eachother lazy and fat and selfish. It isn’t anything worse than what Ian and I say about eachother.

However, if anyone talks shit about Michelle, I will kill them. If you hear me talking shit, don’t even fucking agree, I will kill you.

I hate that people use the “boys will be boys” excuse, and I know it offends a lot of people. (These are many of the same people that feel like saying “women understand these things” is totally inoffensive.) But the fact is, Ian and I adore each other and we still can say terrible things, even behind eachother’s backs. That’s why we have brothers, to talk shit out of one side of our mouths, and then jump down outsider’s throats when they agree.

We contain multitudes and apologizing for that would be hypocritical and insane.

A play…

Tuesday, October 21st, 2003

My sister once said, “everyone always knows the truth about everything, we just choose to believe the lies we tell ourselves.” To my great disadvantage, I’ve held this to be true for most of my life, even though Michelle said it quite flippantly when she was thirteen.

The problem with it is that I like to make jokes about this guy I play, this big jerk who constantly talks shit and treats people badly. It’s a fun character, and one I’m sure shares something with who I really am, but still, I do it with the understanding that everyone knows the truth about who I am.

Here’s a little play I sent to my freinds yesterday.


Sean And Jordana, Act 76, scene 12

Sean is in the kitchen eating Hershey’s kisses as fast as he can, Jordana enters with cleaning supplies. Jordana moves around the kitchen during this scene while Sean stands in one place with the water running absently into an already full mug.

S: I knew you were gonna clean the whole bathroom, so I didn’t give you any shit.

J: What do you mean?

S: (piling chocolate in his mouth) I told you we should go to bed, but I knew you wouldn’t be comfortable unless you cleaned the bathroom, so I figured I wouldn’t give you any shit.

J: Give me shit?

S: (mid-chew) Y’know, for staying up later.

J: Let me get this straight. You stayed on the couch eating chocolate while I went in to the bathroom and cleaned it entirely, and you would like me to give you credit for not giving me shit?

S: (pause) Well, I mean, I didn’t give you shit, right?

J: There’s chocolate spit on your face. It’s really gross.

S: But not as gross as the bathroom would have been if I hadn’t stopped giving you shit long enough to clean it.

J: It was pretty gross. I just felt like it should be clean, y’know. Nothing’s grosser than a gross bathroom.

S: (eating more chocolate) How ’bout a severed human head? (pause, looks at her with eyebrows raised pointing at her) Seriously. A severed human head. S’pretty gross (goes back to eating chocolate.)

J: I think Jon and Mac’s bathroom might actually be grosser than a severed human head. (she leaves)

S: (calling after her and playing with the full mug in the sink) If you want to clean their bathroom, I won’t give you shit…


And here’s what actually happened. I was washing dishes in the kitchen. I had eaten one Hershey’s kiss, but any more than that would have made me sick. There was a large stack of dishes (tech week and a roommate who teaches 4th grade in Harlem manifests itself in the kitchen), and I was trying to get through them because Jordana really wanted the house cleaned.

Jordi came in, saying, “I’m sorry, I know you want me to get more sleep, but I just need to get the bathroom clean before Mike gets here…”

I said, “Dude! Why are you apologizing? You just cleaned the bathroom. I knew you wouldn’t be comfortable unless it was clean, and I didn’t want to give you shit about it.

Jordi: “There’s just nothing grosser than a gross bathroom.”

Me: “How ’bout a severed human head?”

Jordi (not missing a beat): “Um, Mac and Jonathan’s bathroom is probably grosser than a severed human head. I’m gettin’ in the shower…”

See? The real story is so frickin’ pollyanna, you don’t want to read it. Nothing happens, it isn’t funny at all. But, when we’re with a group of people we hardly know and Jordana says, “Sean’s always trying to make sure I’m taking care of myself, he’s the one who is manic about keeping the apartment clean”, if I don’t interrupt her and say, “Did I give you permission to speak?” then we’re just another annoying couple.

But I’m sure there is a whole group of people who hear that and think I’m being serious. I don’t think there’s anything I can do about that. I have a job, and that job is boobery, and if I don’t do my job, I don’t get paid back with the kindness and devotion of my friends.

And plus, sometimes, I beat her. Not because I’m bigger and stronger or just because I can, although that is true. I beat her because she disobeys.

Just a question

Friday, October 17th, 2003

I watch television sometimes. Usually I do it with a touch of guilt… actually, that isn’t true at all, I don’t feel guilty at all, but sometimes I worry that other people think I’m wasting time. I’m like a bear, I have to relax while I can, I’m storing up energy for, y’know, the seven lean years.

Anyway, I was watching television and an advert came and this poor businessman is getting hassled. There is someone at the door, knocking, and our businessman locks the door and hides. Someone is saying “how much software would you like to buy?” The guy eventually tries to break the window and can’t and crawls into the false ceiling to get away from the guy trying to sell him software.

I had no idea that door-to-door salesmen were creating such anxiety in the world of business.

This ad, the one that interrupted my television watching, was trying to sell me software. I think. I don’t know, I was so mystified at the apparent rash of inter-office door-to-door software salesmen.

I mean, here’s the problem with spam and at-home calling and all of that. Television advertisers have figured out that you don’t actually need to sell a product to sell a product. You have to make people laugh, or make people feel something, and then mention the product’s name.

You can say “two thumbs up” all you want when advertising a movie, but even better is if you show all the jokes and then mention the movie’s name. Everyone gets so pissed that previews give away the movie, but if they don’t make you feel like you’ve seen a movie, you won’t go. Studies that I can’t cite have proved this.

Two previews out right now, one starring Jessica Alba (a relative newcomer and B-list star) and the other starring Meg Ryan (an established superstar). The Alba movie has all of this footage of her dancing and looking hot as frickin’ hell. The Ryan movie shows her, out of focus and in a bath-tub, and the word “Sexy!” (from a Jeremy Lyons review or something) keeps popping up.

I’ll bet you a hundred dollars that the Alba movie does better in the theaters. And I’ll give you double or nothing that the Ryan movie is better and gets better Oscar buzz and better reviews.

If it is possible to send me spam that I enjoy, I’ll enjoy your brand. I can’t imagine what that would be, but you should do that instead of offering me guarantees about how much I’ll enjoy my mortgage or breast implants.

Advertising plays is therefor damn near impossible. All we can tell you is what other people say about it, we can’t make ads that make you feel the way you feel when you are in the theater. Kinda weird, and kinda cool, but the only way you will know if you want to see a show is by going to see the show.


Thursday, October 16th, 2003

I was hanging around a group of actors the other day (an often unfortunate byproduct of being a theater person) and I overheard conversations about what people were doing with their weekend. Suffice it to say, not a one of them was going to see live theater.

This coming weekend is a bit of a stretch for us. Friday we’re going to see “Days of Wine and Roses” directed by a good freind. (I apologize for the royal “we”, Jordana and I will be doing all this stuff together. There tends to be two plurals in my life, me and Jordi and Gideon. This is just me and Jordi). Then on Saturday we are watching modern dance in Brooklyn in the afternoon and seeing week 3 of the Estrogenius Festival at night.

Our weekends aren’t always like this, but we do try to at least support theater made by our friends. If they bother to make shows, we’ll go see them.

And I guess that’s my question, what I really want to ask with this blog. What are you doing? It’s a huge question, because you kind of have to boil it down before you get to the meat of the thing. Also, it’s more than the one question. What are you doing, and then, why?

If you say, “I work as a receptionist”, that’s obviously not what you’re doing, you’re making money for some other reason. If that reason is, “I have kids and a wife or husband and I love them,” then, awesome. You’re done.

But if you answer “I’m an actor” then I have to ask “why’? If you say, “because I love the theater, I love to act, I am an artist and this is how I communicate” then great. You’re done.

However, if

1. You don’t go see any other live theater, ever, unless you are hassled into going.

2. You are always trying to figure out how to turn the work you are doing now into a more commercial venture.

3. You are impressed as much or more by celebrity than you are by ability.

4. You hate rehearsal, and complain about the amount of time you have to spend making a show.

5. You complain about the space in which you are allowed to rehearse and/or perform.

6. You want to die when you tell a joke onstage and no-one laughs or you get done with a play and everyone describes it as “interesting”.

7. You spend more time trying to get an agent than you do onstage or in class.

8. You are more excited about the prospect of getting a national Coke commercial than you are about working on a large role in a musty theater by an unknown but incredibly talented playwright.

9. You joined any of the unions the first chance you got…

Okay, okay, I’m ranting. But seriously, if that describes you, then don’t tell me you love acting. You want to be famous, and that’s fine, but there is a way of going about it.

I’m sure my dad always wanted to be famous. But he wanted to be a conductor even more than that. He took a job with the Cedar Rapids Symphony and worked with them for seven years, becoming a better and better conductor.

And y’know, he was never famous, never more so than locally. But he’s a goddam great conductor. When he gets shoved up on the podium, which he has from time to time, in front of the world’s best orchestras, he knows his shit.

And that’s because there is always, and has always been, music in his house. He loves music. He’ll be in the middle of something and music will be chugging away in the background and he’ll stop and point at the speakers, frozen, with a big smile on his face. Three minutes will pass and you listen to what he’s hearing and you recognize that on top of being an artist, he’s a fan.

So, don’t tell me there’s no good theater going on. Don’t tell me there’s too much of it, there’s no way of knowing what to see. Go to

and start looking through the lists. Read the synopsis. Find shows that are five dollars. You’re never going to be famous, nothing you do will ever make a difference, your agent is never going to get you that national spot. *All* of our lives are interconnected, we are *all* working for five dollars a person, and all that can be counted, all that can be judged, is the exchange of ideas, the stories we tell.

So, for god’s sake, go see a damn play.

Where is Raed?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2003

I stumbled on to this once when Kent posted something from his blog. You should go and check it out, this is a blog kept by someone who lives in Iraq and speaks our language.

That is to say, knows how to write. Everyone speaks English.


Tuesday, October 14th, 2003

I have two blogs I want to write, and I keep waffling on which to write first. I think I’m going to write the harder one.

Assessing information free from opinion is impossible. The whole idea that there is “information” is pretty screwy. The uncertainty principle is the only definite in this world, viewing information changes it.

Divorce brings this home, boy-o. If you think there is objective truth, try dismantling a marriage, even amicably. My parents have a mythology about one another that is thick as a rump roast, and my ex-wife and I have mythologies that are, y’know, flank steak thick, but there nevertheless.

I find myself having to assess information as if it were opinion in everything. Girls think I’m handsome, girls think I’m not handsome, for some reason they didn’t all get together and agree one way or the other. About half the people who saw Dirty Juanita loved it, about 95% of the people who saw Lucretia Jones loved it, but I love them both.

It’s important, I think, to continue to keep people close to you who seem to be working with a different set of facts. It’s important because it keeps you intellectually alert. I am fascinated by people who are in favor of the war in Iraq, I genuinely want to know why. When people hate the art I create, I am genuinely fascinated by why. Everything I do, I start out thinking it is a good idea, I want to have knowledge as broad as possible so I can make better decisions in the future.

At a certain point, though, these people become more work than they are worth. Especially if they make decisions before there are facts. Mac, who has twice been featured in festivals honoring women in the arts, was told for years that he was misogynist.

It is sort of sad when you realize that you just can’t listen to a person or a set of people. You strive and strive to maintain an open mind, but you can’t stay open to gaslighting. It isn’t necessarily that you are throwing pearls before swine, or anything that dramatic, but if you are listening to someone’s opinion of your art or your life, and they actually dislike you arbitrarily, then you have to decide it means nothing to you.


My first year at Carolina, I was sitting in a room talking with Mac and about ten of our friends. Everyone was talking about what a snob Jordana was, that she was transfering to a private school where people would understand her, that she thought she was so hot and smart. Mac, who knew her best, just laughed and said, “I don’t know what Jordana would say, I think she would be amazed that you guys are taking the time to even discuss her.”

And it’s true. Ian and I have never talked about this, but there has been a lot of calories burned talking about what a pair of shits we are. It’s just now occuring to me that these people might not be my friends.


Tuesday, October 7th, 2003

My friend Dani is just so chock full of mean-spiritedness and hideous political fury that I almost can’t talk to him. He has said things that even the Bush administration won’t admit, he is further right than the people we can’t believe are that far right. And the weird thing is that I am comforted by his politics. I can think of many people who are nowhere near as adamant about their politics as Dani, and yet I think they are ultimately somewhat more destructive.

Americans as a whole seem to be mystified by what could have driven the terrorists to attack New York City. Yet, so many of them hated New York City before the attacks, and hate it still afterwards. How many times have people talked about East Coast Bias? About the leftist newspapers in New York and Washington?

Most of my religious family won’t go see an R-rated movie. Many of them want to home school their children, to protect them from the social evils that live in the American system. Many of my friends talk about Starbucks and Walmart and McDonald’s as if they are evil institutions trying to take over the world.

I have known bible-belt Christians that were as anti-American as middle eastern Arabs. I spoke with a woman, my age, back in ’95, who insisted that the existence of Hillary Clinton was a sign of the coming apocalypse, and she quoted scripture to me to prove it. There are smart people who are in favor of curtailing the right to privacy in an attempt to thwart those who would destroy our “freedom”.

This mobius strip logic might seem idiotic. Wait, “might” has nothing to do with it. This *is* idiotic. These people, in my humble estimation, are small minded morons. Anyone who decries the loss of the general store to the Walmart can kiss my ass, Walmarts are awesome and you can get anything you want for half the price. If they’re putting you out of business, come up with a better idea, don’t whine about the winners.

Look, my business is ridiculous. The three of us *killed* ourselves to break even on this show, and when we did it was considered a frickin’ *coup*. But we don’t sit around and bitch about how movies are stealing audiences from plays, or about stunt casting or bad Broadways musicals. We’re trying our own ideas, and if they don’t work then we don’t deserve to win.

So, that’s why I like Dani. He doesn’t claim we are attacking Iraq to give them democracy, he believes we’re attacking them because we had to attack someone, and they were the easiest target. Hideous, yes, but logical.

My dad once said that Angie Harmon had a big butt. Aside from the fact that she doesn’t (and that, if she’s got a big butt, then I’m a rhino), I liked the fact that he said what actually bothered him, he didn’t start talking about her acting. Say something ridiculous that you actually believe, not something reasonable based in half truths.

Take yer medicine

Saturday, October 4th, 2003

Ah, the highs and lows. Or rather, the ups and downs.

We needed to sell ten tickets a night in order to pay for the space, and we needed to sell about twice that in order to make money. We averaged about 22-23 tickets sold a night, and more like 26-27 people seeing the show with comps.

We have one more weekend (provided we don’t move the show) and there was some concern that we would be able to sustain the pace that the rest of the show had. As of right now, we’ve sold out completely tonight and we have about 25 reservations for tomorrow. If we sell out the show both nights, we will have sold as many tickets the last weekend as we did the rest of the run.

More on that in a second. I got food poisoning last night. It’s amazing how you know what it is, you recognize it immediately, once you’ve had it once. You think you have the flu, you think you have a fever, you suddenly realize you’re exhausted, and then you start with the barfing. Once everything is out of your system, you feel a little but better.

Mac called, we talked for a minute, he expressed concern, and then we had a classic moment. “I mean, I just want you to be good in the play tomorrow, I don’t really care how you’re feeling.” “Sure, yeah, well, let’s be honest, no matter how sick I am , I’m still going to be amazing in the show tomorrow, I wouldn’t worry about it.”

If people give you what you pay for, you gotta pay ’em back in kind.

So, for the show, there is a tendency to want to somehow milk this cow while she’s still walking to the barn. We will have covered our costs, which is unfortunately a huge success to us, but we covered our costs because we aimed right with this show. We knew we could get 150 or so people to come see the show, and we will have ended up right around that.

So, although there is the sense that we want to extend the show, the fact is that we can’t unless someone outside our actual PR circle comes in and wants to move it. Unless someone else who thinks they can get another five hundred people to see it wants to move the show, there’s no reason to move it.

One idea is to take it to Napa for a week, play in one of the smaller venues out there and stay at my Dad’s. But even that’s really sketchy.

The one good thing is that the show is ours, totally. We own the set pieces and the costumes, we own the play and the actors. We don’t have to pass it by anyone but ourselves. I mean, if there was *any* chance of the show moving, we would drag John along.

My Home

Wednesday, October 1st, 2003

My friend Mac claims that my autobiography ought to be titled “How I’m Winning”. Every time something happens, no matter how good or bad, I figure out exactly how it has affected me in the best possible way. I’m not trying to claim to be a *positive* person at all, I just try to put the best face on whatever shit just hit the fan.

That’s right. The best face on shit. You want sensible metaphors, go somewhere else.

Anyway, the most potent aspect of this self-celebration is the fact that I always adore whatever community I am living in. No matter where I am, I can’t imagine trying to live anywhere else. Even when I lived on 35th street, basically putting my head down each night on top of the Lincoln Tunnel, I thought I would never be happy if I moved.

So, y’know, grain of salt and all that, but I absolutely adore Astoria. This morning I walked with Jordana to the trainstop because I needed to pick up potatoes for a dinner party tonight. As I walked back, I noticed for the first time that there is a wave of couples that walk to the train together each morning holding hands. Everyone is probably going to different places, but half the train is riding in tight twos like they’re boarding the Ark.

The other half are all nerds. Once in a great while you will get someone who looks like they spend a little money on their clothes, or like they spend a lot of money on their hair and a lot of thrift store money on their clothes, but mostly it’s just guys and dolls heading in to their jobs. No downtown dicks, just guys with jobs, musicians, playwrights, actors, heading in to the city to get their manpower checks.

I mean, the couples are all nerds too. Everyone is nerds.

I’ve lived here a year now, officially, today. And I am still so in love with the walk around my neighborhood. We seem to be just far enough away from the city that we don’t have that aggressive urban feel, but we still have roaming groups of twelve year olds swearing too loud to prove how tough they are. I live near two basketball courts, one covered with teenagers in baggy baggies, and the other, much nicer, usually abandoned right next to the east river.

There is no urgency here. Old men and young girls stroll around the neighborhood like they are conserving energy. For some reason, almost none of the buildings are higher than two stories. There are some, it can’t be a zoning thing. But there is sky everywhere, trees everywhere.

The afore-mentioned Astoria Park is a perfect example of the whole neighborhood. You can see people sailing and boating down the east river while playing between the huge lawns and ancient overhanging trees. But, they are boating down right under the Troboro bridge, which is suspended over you while you are playing basketball or tennis or running on the track. It isn’t natural, this park, it’s concrete and there are buildings across the way. It’s saying, “Here’s some nature, but don’t lie to yourself, you’re in New York. This is gorgeous, but it’s also packed with people. That’s why they call it Queens, not Queen.”

I always love wherever I am. There is nothing quite like being in Napa Valley at my Dad’s house and I really love visiting my family in Brooklyn because 7th Avenue is just amazing. I also love every second that I am in the city. God, New York City is just the most incredible place on earth, there is no feeling like walking through Manhattan, it’s like Gershwin and Babe Ruth are two blocks ahead of you yelling, ‘Come on, come on, drink down, breathe deep and run, it just gets better!’

But the twenty or so blocks around my apartment right now have everything I could ever want, and if I actually need Taco Bell or a Home Depot, they are five minutes by car. I would love it if the Kew Gardens Movie Theater (a whole blog will be written about that place) and a really great big clean deli were right around the corner. But maybe that would be just too much.

As it is now, without kids and without more concerns, there is no place I would rather be.