Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Magic Theatre and North Shore Music Theatre Now Facing Extinction

I discovered 55 articles on google about North Shore Music Theatre's immiment demise, but here is the Times' coverage.

And here is the Playbill story on the Magic Theatre in San Francisco, which needs $600,000 or it will close.

Peeps, listen. Saving Shakespeare Santa Cruz, which was miraculous, isn't enough.

Here's North Shore's website.

Here's the Magic's website, which has this copy on it:

San Francisco's nationally acclaimed new plays theatre, Magic Theatre, is on the brink of shutting its doors. Now in the midst of a staff shutdown, Magic may be forced to cancel the remainder of its season and close for good. To keep our doors open we must raise $350,000 by January 9, 2009.

So, peeps, get up and do something. You think this is it? That everything is hunky dory and we should just focus on positive news? Get real, peeps. There's a crisis. Get up and do something.

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The Village Voice Fires Nat Hentoff

The firing of Nat Hentoff from the Village Voice -- where he filed for 50 years -- isn't so much shocking as yet one more reason to say farewell to 2008.

What a horrid year.

Shame on them.

(Even if Hentoff's anti-choice position is equally horrid.)

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My Name is Mitch McConnell. I'm a Senator from Kentucky. And I Enjoy Torturing the American People.

This kind of stuff just makes me angry. Today the Washington Post reports that even before Obama's inauguration, the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, is pledging to be a total obstructionist regarding the new president's huge stimulus package.

Like many Republicans, McConnell is content -- even happy -- to see the American people suffer. Let them starve, let them hurt, let them be jobless, let them be hopeless. Oh, but please volunteer for the armed services so we can send you to a war fought on false, misleading pretenses.

Here are the first few graphs of the story:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced skepticism today about the emerging economic stimulus plan, applying a brake to Democratic plans to quickly pass up to $850 billion in spending and tax cuts soon after President-elect Barack Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration.

"As of right now, Americans are left with more questions than answers about this unprecedented government spending, and I believe the taxpayers deserve to know a lot more about where it will be spent before we consider passing it," McConnell said in a statement, which will be publicly issued later today.

Obama's advisers and congressional Democrats have been huddling in the Capitol trying to craft a massive stimulus plan that could cost anywhere from $675 billion to $850 billion, while some economists are pushing for a total package worth more than $1 trillion.

McConnell -- the most powerful Republican in Washington, based on the filibuster-proof level of 41 GOP Senate seats -- called for many congressional hearings on the stimulus plan and some undetermined safeguards to assure the money is being spent wisely.

Clearly what McConnell is doing is sending a warning shot across Obama's bow -- to make sure the new president understands that he must negotiate with the other side. But I think there are far more constructive ways to make his point known.

I also find these comments on Politico.com, in response to this story, very interesting. You can read the comments here.

Bottom line: It was 25 years of Republican dominance that fiscally decimated my nation. People like McConnell should be taken out in the back somewhere and given a shot of real patriotism. The new president is trying to save the nation. Doesn't anyone realize that? It's that serious, people.

And if you don't believe me, let's talk about something truly apocalyptic: a Russian professor, according to the Wall Street Journal, who is considered neither a wacko nor a fatalist, is openly predicting the end of the USA in 2010. It's such a bizarre story. Here are the first few graphs of that piece:

MOSCOW -- For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument -- that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. -- very seriously. Now he's found an eager audience: Russian state media.

In recent weeks, he's been interviewed as much as twice a day about his predictions. "It's a record," says Prof. Panarin. "But I think the attention is going to grow even stronger."

Prof. Panarin, 50 years old, is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations.

But it's his bleak forecast for the U.S. that is music to the ears of the Kremlin, which in recent years has blamed Washington for everything from instability in the Middle East to the global financial crisis. Mr. Panarin's views also fit neatly with the Kremlin's narrative that Russia is returning to its rightful place on the world stage after the weakness of the 1990s, when many feared that the country would go economically and politically bankrupt and break into separate territories.
Of course this fellow has his own agenda, and no, I don't believe it. But the stakes are terribly high, aren't they? And all McConnell knows how to do is to play politics with the nation -- with the lives of the American people.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Remember the Move Toward Finding New Models? Jon Stancato is Doing Just That

For those of you unfamiliar with what ERPA is, read this.

Meantime, here is a press release I received from my buddy Jon Stancato, artistic director of the Stolen Chair Theatre Company, which I proudly support financially and otherwise. Jon's idea is just superb. Congratulations to all the grantees.

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

In 2008 more than 350 community stakeholders joined us for Invention Session across New York City. Now, with seed money from the Rockefeller Foundation, The Field invests in seven artists who brought forth innovative ideas to generate new revenue streams from their art for their art...

Congratulations to Kahlil Almustafa, Nick Brooke, Rachel Chavkin, Connie Hall, JoAnna Mendl Shaw, Jon Stancato, and Caroline Woolard.

These seven artists will be paid $5,000 to research and develop their projects under the auspices of the ERPA entrepreneurial lab. In the fall of 2009 their ideas-in-progress will be presented and publicly adjudicated to receive up to $25,000 in additional project implementation funds.

More than 100 ERPA applications were received and adjudicated by a panel of veteran arts and business leaders, including: June Choi, Shawn Cowls, Corey Dargel, Trajel Harrel, Jaki Levy, Kristin Marting, and Heather Rees. ERPA projects were selected based on their potential vision, impact, relevance, and viability.

Kahlil Almustafa: will bring performance poetry to his hometown of Jamaica, Queens. Through poetry workshops at high schools, performances at theaters, and Living Room Readings, Almustafa will promote poetry as a tool for community engagement.

Nick Brooke: composes collages of pop song fragments and sound effects, and then trains live performers to sound like these recordings, while creating intricate theatrical tableaus. Though he cannot release any of his music on CD due to copyright, he wants to use ERPA to create a 'micro-commissioning' program, in which small fragments, songs, or vignettes of a larger work are supported by smaller commissions.

Rachel Chavkin: The T.E.A.M. proposes re-envisioning the model for corporate sponsorship in the arts with the goal of solving one of the leading problems facing small companies and individual artists: the inability to afford health insurance. Through a partnership program, business and corporations will adopt theater companies and artists to form a mutually beneficial bond between the business and arts community.

Connie Hall: Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant not only generates an abundance of comic material and great food, but also offers an alternative producing model for artist-driven theater. Through the ERPA program, the actor-run theater company will develop a sustainable business model using income generated by the sale of food and beverages to support its artistic work.

JoAnna Mendl Shaw: The Equus Projects will develop their Regional Touring Program to include on-site coordinators in seven regional hubs throughout the country, enabling each to advocate on the company's behalf and cultivate performance and workshop participation. This program will build upon The Equus Projects' strong national support base, cultivating effective leadership with a handful of key supporters.

Jon Stancato: In conjunction with his company, Stolen Chair, Jon Stancato proposes a way to adapt the business plan followed by most Community Supported Agricultures (CSA). Like the CSA model, Stolen Chair hopes to build a membership community which would provide 'seed' money for the company's development process and then reap a year's worth of theatrical harvests.

Caroline Woolard: proposes an online peer-to-peer network where creative people can trade objects, services, and space with each other. Check out the prototype at www.OurGoods.org. There you will find a work dress designed by Caroline waiting to be traded for your skills or artwork!

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Donde Esta Pedro Mano?

Just letting y'all know that I'm directing a short one-act, Donde Esta Pedro Mano?, by my friend Montserrat Mendez, in next month's The Short List, a festival that is showcasing the work of members of Ingenius at Manhattan Theatre Source.

Details in the JPEG. And thrilled to work with everyone!

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Punch 59 and Starr-Reich-Hunter Improv to Play the Broadway Comedy Club

Punch 59 returns! Here are the details...


to appear at

8:00 pm
318 W 53rd St. (8th Ave)

Tickets just $5.00 with a one drink minimum!

FREE ADMISSION to current UCB and PIT students!

PUNCH 59 is intelligent, irreverent sketch comedy and STARR REICH HUNTER is some damn funny improv. For five bucks, who could ask for more?

In addition to sketches like “Duane Rude,” “BBC’s Baby Time,” and “I Woke Up Racist,” PUNCH 59 features a Thomas Meehan one-act, "Movie, Movie". Originally published in the New Yorker, "Movie, Movie" features the characters Bonnie and Clyde, who meet "in Coney Island, in shadows and fog...” Their ensuing dialogue consists only of movie titles.

Thomas Meehan received his first Tony Award in 1977 for writing the book for Annie, his Broadway debut, and subsequently won for The Producers (2001) and Hairspray (2002). He is the writer of the Broadway versions of Cry-Baby and Young Frankenstein, a longtime contributor of humor to the New Yorker, an Emmy Award winner, and the co-writer of the screenplays for Spaceballs and To Be or Not to Be.

PUNCH 59’s cast is Jen Ryan (NYC Fringe Outstanding Performance Award), Rik Sansone (Summer of ’69), Adam P. Murphy (the voice of Sean John’s “I Am King”), Melisa Breiner-Sanders (“The Knot”), Rebecca Lewis-Whitson, Carlos Espada (KISS Nation), and Marek Sapieyevski (“Easy Outs”). Directed by Jen Ryan.

STARR-REICH-HUNTER is Noah Starr (co-star of the Food Network’s "Ask Aida"), Mikal Reich, and Lauren Hunter. Their shared love of improv based in reality inspires them to create their ninja-less, pirate-less, trips-to-mars-less form. Directed by Alex Marino.

Tickets are available at the door or by calling the BROADWAY COMEDY CLUB at 212-757-2323.

UCB and PIT students, bring proof of current enrollment and GET IN FREE (drink minimum applies).

For industry comps please email punch59comedy@yahoo.com.



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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Paris X

This is the conclusion of the series. Thanks for looking!

At Versailles, just another statue in the wall...

Don't be so arch.

Through the window at Versailles.

Another wall.

A ceiling. My favorite photograph.

The view at Versailles

The chalice at the palace for your vessel with the pestle...

More palace...

More palace...

More view...

Those are frogs. No comment.

More view.

Ken, did you buy this for yourself?

Yes, I did!

King of the world!


The view from Sacre-Coeur.

More view.

Here is the church, here is the steeple...

At Montmartre...

The Lapin Agile...

Graffiti, Parisian style!

Look at that iron work!

The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

More view.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt, 1927-2008

Major bummer.

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Harold Pinter, 1930-2008

Per the BBC. Let us pause and reflect.

He was one of my very favorite playwrights. And unquestionably one of the most important playwrights of the 20th -- or any -- century.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Is Journalism the Terri Schiavo of American Business?

Being away on vacation was really good for several things, including forgetting about how utterly our economy is in the toilet. For a little more than a week, I could just put out of my mind the seemingly unending string of bad news about the media that has been coming along, including one report that I saw suggesting that the New York Times is increasingly likely to declare bankruptcy next year, which is something, if it happens, that will absolutely send shockwaves around the world. We all know "Pinch" Sulzberger is borrowing against the company's ownershp stake in its new tower to service the company's debt, so already they're on the precipice. Scarily enough, Rupert salivates. Imagine him owning the Wall Street Journal and the Times! That's the thing he wants, kids.

Well, anyway, here are some links to stories that are bringing me, however sadly, back to this thing we call earth. Sorry to be a big Debbie Downer on the eve of the birth of Christ, but who'll disagree that we need something like the Second Coming at this point to really save American journalism?

Washington Post, Baltimore Sun to Begin Sharing Some News Content
Betcha $10 this will include arts coverage in 2009.

Wenner of Discontent
"The latest round of cuts, which came Friday, marked the second time this month that Wenner Media has shed jobs. On Dec. 10, Wenner laid off four people in the editorial department, which now stands at 40 people."

Non-Profit Model for Newspapers May Be the Answer
There are two salient bits here. The first is what, for this story, functions as the dek:

"Before newspaper owners whittle their newsrooms and their product down to nothing, they owe it to themselves, their employees, their still-loyal readers and their communities -- not to mention their shareholders -- to try the not-for-profit route."

But the second is more intriguing, if worrisome, buried within the body of the story:
"Not-for-profit, tax-exempt. No longer dependent on commercial advertisers. A brave new world!

These not-for-profits would be supported by corporate sponsorships and by contributions from foundations and public-spirited citizens who care about the community and who understand how it would be diminished by the loss of its newspapers."
Here's my question: Can journalism maintain objectivity better as a charity than as a profit-oriented business? Discuss.

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New York City Mayor McScrooge?

As you all know, I've spent much of this year attempting to help Susan Hefti of the 93rd Street Beautification Association to bring two projects to fruition: having her block renamed Marx Brothers Place (honoring where the extraordinary comedians grew up -- and where the building, despite developers wanting to fool with it, still stands), and having her stretch of the Carnegie Hill Historic District extended by precisely this block in order to equally honor the comics (she lives in the building).

Susan, who is even more of a tenacious if tender pitbull than I am, has been fighting the good fight all year and run up against what seems like good and bad -- or shall we say at this time of year, naughty and nice -- politicians. Were this Chicago, for heaven's sake, maybe we could just cough up some money to the Governor of Illinois, who I understand now goes by "Do not Blago, do not collect $250,000." But, indeed, we're not in Chicago, we're in New York City, where the Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has shown the most remarkable aptitude to use his leverage, even if he doesn't have power, to achieve ends that he deems important. Like, for example, shoving the legally enacted term limits aside and ramrodding it through the City Council like a virgin at a VHI1 video gangbang.

But when Hefti and the rest of her 93rd Street crew look for Bloomberg to spread a little holiday cheer their way -- to simply endorse the idea of a Marx Brothers Place -- this famously anti-preservationist billionaire mayor simply raises his prominent nose and extends a metaphorical middle finger.

The irony is that yesterday, two prominent politicians endorsed Susan's ideas.

The first was Scott Stringer, borough president of Manhattan, who no doubt would like to have the mayor's job one day and might even care to ask Mayor Bloomberg to take all his billions and shove them where the Bloomberg terminals don't shine. Here's Susan email blast on the subject:

We have just received a copy of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's wonderful letter requesting that the Chairman of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission CALENDAR our RFE which asks that the city extend the CHHD one block east to include historic Marx Brothers Place!

Wow ! What a great holiday gift for our block to receive the full support of Borough President Scott Stringer ! This really means a lot to us all !

As you know, our block has been under siege for quite some time now, and most residents feel as though our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. As support for this preservation campaign continues to grow, it helps us feel that, at least, some folks are listening....
Following that was a second email blast from Susan because State Senator Jose Serrano, whose district includes this area, has endorsed the idea of extending the Carnegie Hill Historic District as well, in a letter to Robert B. Tierney, chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Let's remember that Tierney is a man, appointed by Bloomberg, who, as the Gotham Gazette noted in its summary of a recent series of exposes by Robin Pogrebin of the Times (quoting The Clyde Fitch Report), may or may not be suitable for his position. (In my coverage, indeed, I suggested he may be corrupt.) Still, how nice to get Serrano on board:

December 23, 2008

Hon. Robert B. Tierney, Chair
Landmarks Preservation Commission
Municipal Building
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

I respectfully ask the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to reconsider a
Request for Evaluation (RFE) submitted by the 93rd Street Beautification Association on September 5, 2008.

This RFE seeks to extend the Carnegie Hill Historic District one block east to include a collection of houses and gardens known as Marx Brothers Place, located on East 93rd Street between Lexington and Third Avenues.

At a time of great development in our city, I believe that preservation is a key to protecting our historical, cultural, and architectural treasures. This is not to mention the environmental benefits that come with less demolition and construction.

Marx Brothers Place, which falls within the confines of my State Senate District, is worthy of our attention, and worth of the protective umbrella of city government. I urge you to revisit the proposal, and calendar the item as soon as possible.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions.

But here's the reason I'm writing this. Susan Hefti has had some less than nice correspondence of late with representatives of Mayor Bloomberg's office, and they have, I think, unduly, needlessly and shamelessly chastised her for daring to enlist the mayor's support of any of the 93rd Street Beautification Association's goals. That's just disgusting. The tone of the woman who wrote to Susan was just awful, unprofessional. The correspondence, which I am not at liberty to quote but may refer to, argues that the mayor has no jurisdiction in this matter and to leave him alone. As the Gotham Gazette wrote, "This administration is so excited about the new that it overlooks its obligation to protect the old."

But why protect Bloomberg?

Anyway, here is a final email blast on this that Susan sent out. I urge you all to follow through. It's amazing that when it serves the mayor's interest to subvert democracy in the crassest way, in a bitter betrayal of the public trust that makes him not a much better man than the double-dealing Blago, he'll do it. But when it comes to something so clearly, unquestionably toward the public good, Mayor McScrooge says "Bah, humbug" and hides in his East 79th Street mansion. And to think that Bloomberg's elderly mother is alive to see what a monster her son has become.

Please consider lending your support.
With 8 days of Chanukah and 12 days of Christmas, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has oceans of time to grant our holiday wish for Marx Brothers Place!

Why, it didn't even take him that long to get NYC's term limits law changed !!!

Please help us inspire the Mayor to use his considerable influence over the City Council - to honor the legacy of the world's greatest comic geniuses & NYC's cultural history by clicking on this link and cutting & pasting & sending a message to: ljackson@cityhall.nyc.gov (with a copy to: garodnickoffice@gmail.com and 93rdst.beautification@gmail.com)

Please make sure the Subject Line of your email reads: Marx Brothers Place!

Or just call the Mayor @ 212.788.2958 or 212.788.3245 and ask him to grant this simple holiday wish for Marx Brothers Place!

And while we're at it, please don't forget to click on this link so that YOU can sign the petition to co-name the block Marx Brothers Place!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Paris IX -- More Photos

In honor of the fallen.


Triumphant! (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

More in honor of the militarily slain.

There's a Les Miz joke here, but thankfully I haven't found it.

Harry? As in Winston. Next to the Plaza Athenee Paris.


At the Basilique de Saint-Denis, where the French kings are entombed.

Gorgeous glass.

That's Louis XIV on one side, Marie Antoinette and her breasts on the other.

Catherine De' Medici on the right. Oh, and King Henry II on the left.

At Versailles, baby.


Be wary of statuary.

How do I get one of these?

A tribute to Jim Morrison? Not.

Close-up. One of my favorite photos.

Dancing on the ceiling.

More dancing, more ceiling.

Yes, that's part of the awful Jeff Koons exhibit on the right.


An inflatable lobster at Versailles. Thanks, Jeff Koons. (Ugh.)


Take a nap!

Just a little something for the house, dear.

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