Friday, April 29, 2011


If you want to know who represents the arts, I would suggest looking at the list of Congresspeople ordered by number of Fractured Atlas fiscal sponsorship projects.

Unsurprising takeaways is that the top five Representatives with the most projects in their district are Democrats from NYC. The top 10 adds San Francisco, and Austin, TX. It takes you fifteen to get to a Republican (Staten Island). By the time you start reaching things like suburbs or less name-brand cities (Marietta, GA, for example), you're talking about under fifty Fractured Atlas projects... you're in the long tail.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Favorite Blog Post Title For The Day

"Aaargh! Physicists!"

Religion and the Theater

For those of you who believe in God, you should take a look at this Guardian feature overviewing the difference between George Hunka's theology and Rob Weinert-Kendt's. I'd be interested in your read.

For atheists like me, we can just sit back and reflect on our eternal damnation.

On the Dangers of Narrative... or Lack Thereof

No, unfortunately, this morning I don't have much to say (yet) on the narrative discussion that Tony, George Hunka, Tony, and Isaac have all contributed to thanks to this article in Exeunt Magazine.

I do have a related news story, though:
The Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation into a book written by internationally renowned author William S. Burroughs. It was translated and published by Sel Publishing House in January.

The court referred to a report written by the Prime Ministry’s Council for Protecting Minors from Explicit Publications that accused the novel, “The Soft Machine,” of “incompliance with moral norms” and “hurting people’s moral feelings.” Sel Publishing issued a press release that included parts of their testimony in the court.


The council also accused the novel of “lacking unity in its subject matter,” “incompliance with narrative unity,” for “using slang and colloquial terms” and “the application of a fragmented narrative style,” while claiming that Burroughs’s book contained unrealistic interpretations that were neither personal nor objective by giving examples from the lifestyles of historical and mythological figures.

Yes, that's right, lacking "unity" of subject matter and narrative is still, in some parts of the world, criminal.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easy, But Good

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pack A Change of Pants

The economics of the Death Star.

Art in the Mainstream Watch pt. 3

If you want to know why Dave Weigel compared Mike Daisey favorably to journalists, I think you should read his response to criticism of his work.

Quote of the Day

"We — Jere, Michael, Bono, Edge, Julie — we set out to do something that's neigh on impossible...[Spiderman] just didn't quite hit the mark as well as it needed to. And so it needs to be fixed because it has to set that new standard. Otherwise, it will be a failure."

That and more here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bittersweet Thought of The Day

Dark Theaters

Ken Davenport looked back this morning to the days of dark Broadway. He decides (accurately) that those days will not return, thanks to the long-running cash cows that tie up a lot of real estate.

However, there's a different kind of dark theater: the bankrupt non-profit. Not long ago, there was a photo round-up of abandoned theaters. And it comes back to me now, because the Initman Theater has cancelled the rest of its season. Now, because of this, the artistic director is gone.

How does a theater like that re-open? Would you work for a theater that had closed its doors for a year because of financial failure? What if the next season is also financially troubled?

And what does it mean to be employed for a "theater" that isn't putting on any theater?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Amateurs At The Gate

Some thoughts on amateur critics from Down Under. The overall point is one that we've heard before and will hear again, but she connects it well to a history of amateurs and responses to amateurs from before this "internet" thing happened.

Opening Night

Another chance to see the sort of work I invest myself in:

Our latest show opens tonight!


Get your tickets now!

Art in the Mainstream Watch cont'd

A good counterpoint to the Mike Daisey review I highlighted earlier is this rumination from the Guardian Online.

When you're using real people or facts as your source material for a play, you can either wind up with a piece of dramatic journalism, or the "BASED ON A TRUE STORY" Hollywood Film.

Scott Walters Bait

From Butts in the Seats' look at the Culture Track Survey:

One response that interested me was: “Respondents from cities were significantly more likely to indicate that their home city should be considered a cultural center.” I am intrigued by the idea that city dwellers more than suburban and rural residents place a high level of importance on being perceived as living in a cultural center. If you live in a rural area, you probably have priorities that don’t emphasize a cultural life. I guess the same is true of the suburban experience. Perhaps suburbanites value having their homes within easy commuting distance of work and great culture and don’t have a high expectation of a great cultural life in their town.

In The Annals of Checking Your Data Set

99-seats-at-Parabasis throws up this chart of TomatoMeter scores of movies from the 1950s to today. His takeaways:
- Um. Movies suck more now, apparently. Like a lot. There's been a clear and steady decline in the overall quality of the top movies since 1950. Interesting.

- Also: 1995? What the hell happened there? Oh, wait. That's what happened there. Jesus. What an awful year. What a terrible, terrible year.

Checking your data set... here's a comment at the website:
This is interesting but also pretty inaccurate. Rottentomatoes doesn’t have a database of every review written about films at their release, so the reviews of films from 1950 don’t reflect viewpoints of that particular period. Of course, the reviews of old classics are overwhelmingly positive– they’re already considered classics! Trust me, after taking enough film classes, there were TONS of duds produced in the ’50s… they just get filed away into the “let’s pretend MGM didn’t just spend many thousands on that rubbish” cabinet.

The cost and scale of what it took to make productions is a worthwhile point to make. In 1950, not only did movies cost a lot, distributing the movie cost a lot of money. In 2000, movies can still cost a lot, but they can also cost a lot less (adjusted for inflation), and distribution costs can be pretty low.

The incentives change: the incentive becomes "let's release this movie no matter what--at least then we can get our money back!"

So what you get is a lot more movies, many of which will be poor quality. Does that mean "movies nowadays suck"? No, it just means there's more, which also means more crap.

I mean, even if you look at 1995, which seems like a poor year -- Waterworld, for Christ's sake! -- it still had Goldeneye and Apollo 13, both of which are excellent movies. I have no issue with the existence of Waterworld, provided that we ignore it. And hey--when that oil spill started in the gulf, we at least saw some benefit from that movie.

Also, it's worth noting that along with the increase in proliferation of movies is the proliferation of reviews. As the commenter above noted, we don't have good records of reviews from then; now, every radio station, online blog, and website has an opinion, and RT casts a pretty wide net. I don't have a lot of data, but I feel from my brief work at StageGrade that it's harder to get an A with 1,000 reviews than with 5.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Art in the Mainstream Watch

Another victory for the arts being relevant would be Mike Daisey's newest one man show being called "a smart, vibrant piece of political journalism masquerading as a funny monologue" by Dave Weigel, who is basically the king of Tea Party and libertarian journalism.

When a good journalist looks at an artist and says "that's a good journalist," I think it's a good sign. Now, I haven't seen any of Mike Daisey's work myself, but... if I were him I'd feel pretty pleased.

UPDATE: Sorry, I wanted one more quote from Weigel:

It is not propaganda; you don't leave it pumping your fist and calling for the end of capitalism. You leave it with a better and more honest understanding of capitalism, one that has no comfortable place in politics.

Review: Young Jean Lee's We're Gonna Die

13P and Young Jean Lee's
We're Gonna Die

Young Jean Lee's We're Gonna Die (StageGrade here) is a pretty straightforward offering: the playwright stands with a microphone in front of the audience. She tells us that she wants to share with us the things that comfort her when the pain is so bad she has trouble falling asleep, and for the next hour, with the band Future Wife, do exactly that: telling stories and then singing the lessons she's learned.

Before getting into the play itself, I want to say a bit about 13P. 13P is a union of 13 playwrights who decided to produce their own work themselves. As each playwright has their turn, they are artistic director of the company for that production period. When they are done, the company is done.

I love just about everything about 13P. Firstly, never once does 13P say anything about promoting female playwrights, but the fact is undeniable that it's 11 women and 2 men. Also, the playwrights of the group who are most prominent -- Sarah Ruhl being the one I consider most prominent, seeing as she was nominated for a Pulitzer -- are female, and they definitely bring other female playwrights into the consciousness. To those who say that maybe there just aren't enough female playwrights (insert Wasserstein Prize grumble here), 13P is a slap in the face.

Secondly, it touches on another big subject of today -- playwrights taking ownership of their work, producing it themselves. Their mantra, proudly displayed on the website, is "We don't develop plays. We do them." That's what it's about.

Thirdly, some people think the future of sustainability in the arts involves having limited-term non-profits with fixed, achievable missions that wind down when they're done. The New York Times covered this idea briefly, and it's in 20under40. 13P is a perfect example of a situation in which this is appropriate and effective. Here, it adds urgency to the work and allows each of the playwrights to commit to a something defined, rather than forming some sort of esoteric "company" and having to negotiate what that is.

Sorry! This is a Young Jean Lee review and I haven't mentioned Young Jean Lee until the second section! Bad reviewer, bad!

Anyways. Young Jean Lee's show puts me in mind of the last show I saw, Qui Nguyen's Agent G. At the core, they both spring from the same place: a playwright is struggling with something emotional and important, and therefore decides to put themselves at the center of their own work. They are their subjects.

The subject for Young Jean Lee, as mentioned above, is comfort in the face of terrible tragedy. Whether it's her uncle's existential pain at being alone, her father's undignified death in the face of cancer, or her own traumas small and large, it basically roots down to one idea: we're not special, the protagonists in a story who are protected from harm. Sometimes, as the pithy slogan goes, bad things happen to bad people.

But Young Jean Lee's performance is completely outwardly focused. She is here to share, so she tells stories in a quick and direct way, broken up by the musical numbers put together with the band Future Wife. She wastes no time, doesn't pull any tricks. She has a goal, and she accomplishes it.

I'm not sure whether I would call what happened a piece of theater; the distinction is largely moot. It's really more like a concept concert -- songs that are thematically linked through related stories on a single theme.

Considering the topic (which is one I think about a lot) and the directness of the show, I was hoping to be more affected than I was. I appreciated everything Young Jean Lee had to say, and I liked the music, but I wasn't hugely moved.

Part of this has to do with the venue, no doubt. I dislike Joe's Pub. It's a personal thing; I feel like the way the seating is set up makes it hard in many places to see what's going on, and (not being a drinker) the pressure made by the waitresses to drink (I eventually got flat water with no ice, and was charged for it) makes me irritated. For those who do decide to drink the overpriced alcohol, perhaps it is more worth it. I am not against the idea of combining the bar and the theater venue, but the implementation at Joe's Pub just feels alienating. I think Galapagos Arts Space does it better.

So apart from craning my neck to try and see Young Jean Lee, why wasn't I enthralled? Partly, I felt that Young Jean Lee was trying to make it too easy for me. She put forward very painful, very traumatic events, and then defused them one by one with a song that contained some advice that was helpful, but not necessarily comforting.

In a way, it felt like the moment at the end of a children's show where the motherly figure explains to the child the little life lesson that the child needed to hear, and then sings a song about it.

There's a lot I like about simplicity. I don't object to the simplicity of the form -- the simple form of storytelling and the occasional musical number was just right for the issues at hand, although it was great when that got broken up for just a little bit when Faye Driscoll's choreography got the band doing wacky dancing together.

It simply felt to a certain extent as though the issues themselves had been a little simplified; too much had been solved too quickly.

The great thing about The Orange Hats project I work on, though, is that it forces me to literally come face to face with the audience response. And although at the time I was wanting more from Young Jean Lee, talking with the audience -- most of whom were not theatermakers -- I realized that I was taking for granted the most important part of the evening.

Young Jean Lee's work was incredibly brave, honest, and straightforward. She tackled that simple fact -- We're Gonna Die -- in a way that wasn't overly sentimental, over-artistic, or anything. She tackled something difficult and communicated it well to her audience.

Whenever I interview people for the Orange Hats, I try to ask the question, "What about the show is memorable, that will stick out when you look back on it later?" In a way, I'm trying to get at the question, "Did this show change you; did it give you something, however small, that you'll look back on."

The answer for this show is a strong affirmative. The simple gifts that Young Jean Lee shared are very important, whether we haven't heard them before or whether it bears reminding. And the idea that instead of over-dramatizing our tragedy to give them the proper emotional significance, we should tackle them practically, is exactly right.

So yes, I left the show hungry for more. Considering the deep black hole in the bottom of my soul that the phrase "We're gonna die" evokes, I am hungry for more to assuage it. But that's a good thing. And I want to give a sincere thanks to Young Jean Lee for sharing.

Food: An Art That's Winning

Butts in Seats meditates on food sustainability and the arts:
This immediately sounded like the challenge arts organizations face when trying to introduce audiences to anything outside their experience. The advantage the beef has over the arts is that while both steak and certain segments of the arts have an elitist aura about them, there is a perception that being adventurous with food is a mark of distinction while sampling a new arts experience is either intimidating or the mark of a snob. Do the arts need their own version of Anthony Bourdain to incite exploration?
In my opinion, that last sentence is more on the mark than the sentences that lead up to them. The current renaissance of food accessibility comes from the fact that there are plenty of shows (primarily on the Food Network) that make participating in food easily -- they model good food eaters, share the language of food, and educate their audience while making it seem like a good time.

For instance, take this Mitchell and Webb sketch:

The "rude waiter" is the old elite; instead, food looks more like Rachel Ray who, for better or for worse, makes everyone feel like they can do food.

Do we have that? A show where someone goes and sees the arts, talks to artists, and talks about it with the audience, while sharing input with the audience?

Who would we nominate to host that show?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bruce Norris...

...may have won the Pulitzer Prize for theater, but he's still apparently less important to Wikipedia than the former owner of the Detroit Red Wings.

Ephemeral Theater and the Historical Canon

Another part of this post by 99 Seats raises an interesting issue:
Suzan-Lori Parks, Kia Corthron, Kara Corthron, going all the way back to Adrienne Kennedy and Douglas Turner Ward and Ed Bullins. And let's not forget writers like OyamO, Not all black plays were written by August Wilson or in his style. But these works are rarely revived, rarely canonized, rarely taught to anyone who isn't studying Black theatre. In fact, probably the only people who do read this work these days are young Black playwrights. It's lost history. And it's lost because of the segregation of our theatres. And because of the brain drain.
Firstly, I don't think it's the segregation of our theaters that make us lose many of these plays. I think it's the segregation of our educational institution. A large part of the reason Americans consider Tennessee Williams, Aristotle, Bertold Brecht, or Samuel Beckett to be seminal works of theater is because we are told that they are.

We're taught a canon, and that canon is built around a historical narrative. And if African American writers are left out of that narrative, the theatermakers they create will be ignorant of the names on that list (as I admit that I am).

I had never heard of Sarah Kane until I took a class with a professor who taught Sarah Kane. Oh, and he did not just teach Sarah Kane, he taught the history of contemporary European theater through the lens of Sarah Kane. In fact, when he taught Waiting for Godot, he ended it by saying, "Which all relates back to Sarah Kane, you see?"

For him, there were four great writers of the 20th Century: Sarah Kane, Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, and Mark Ravenhill. I'm not exaggerating. And Sarah Kane was apparently the key to understanding all four of these writers.

And no, he did not introduce the class to any African-American (or African-anything-else) writers.

Secondly, a lot of what determines what goes into the theatrical canon is actually the theatrical publishing industry. Qui Nguyen's Agent G may be one of the best plays out there, but given it's strange mishmash of genres, its specificity of time and place, and other things, the odds that it would be published seem to me low. I don't think I'm going to walk into the Drama Bookstore and see his book in that curious staged version they have.

This is why, attached to my theater company, I founded a small publishing company. To archive and preserve works that might not get published otherwise, so that we don't lose them. I doubt that's going to get any of those works preserved into the canon, but at least it increases the odds that they might be staged again.

Thirdly, when wondering why non-traditional plays don't enter the canon, part of that has to do with the fact that the current playwrighting style is built to create those kinds of artifacts. Dialogue-driven performances in realistic forms are easy to read on the page, and it preserves the best parts of the play.

Writers like Tennessee Williams or August Wilson are good because of the words they crafted. That makes for a good script to publish, because you read it and you can imagine those monologues. But if you pick up a play that's mostly visual, or a play that relies on the personality of a great performer, how does that translate through a script?

Devised work, non-traditional work, work that looks for beautiful stage pictures or music or personalities, are hard to publish. And because they're hard to publish, they're hard to teach, hard to preserve, and hard to enter the canon.

They are, as most theater is, ephemeral. And part of what the word "ephemeral" means is that it doesn't enter "history." You can find ephemeral works by the accounts they leave behind, but the way our academia currently approaches theater, if it ain't a printed play, it ain't a worthy point of academic study.


You know, I really hate to pivot this wildly away from the intended purpose of a post I'm responding to. So before I say anything, let me just say that this post by 99 Seats is a really good look at why our segregated theater doesn't include a lot of non-traditional examples. Go read it first and think about what he has to say.

Done? Good. Because I had a visceral response to this sentence from that post:
First off, I'm not one to go in for a lot of playwright triumphalism/exceptionalism, but I don't think it's too much to say that, historically, playwrights have been at the forefront of making social change and responding to world events.
Um. Responding to world events maybe. But can we really say that theatermakers in general have been "at the forefront" of making social change?

I can think of some anecdotal support. Vaclav Havel, for instance, was a playwright and also the first elected President of Czechoslovakia after its independence, in no small part to his role in the dissidence movement. But I don't know how many Czechs who consider him a hero have ever seen a play of his; I don't know if his theater was any more relevant to his success than ballet was to Rahm Emanuel's.

But equally, you can see artists flailing in the wind as the ship of culture turns away. The phrase "Never was satire more alive than during the twilight days of the Weimar Republic" comes to mind.

Are we at the forefront of social change, or are symptomatic of social change as it happens?

But anyways, that's just a gnawing doubt I have. I promise that I'll respond to the substance of posts in the future, not leaping on one sentence that strikes me strangely.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

And Yet Things Look Alright Sometimes

Two of my fellow stage-graders seem to be in a good mood ... Isaac notes that there's a lot of well-reviewed shows in New York City right now and Rob points out that "the two best-reviewed shows in NYC are form-breaking British imports."

Of course, this is in NYC, where the cuts will have the lightest impact. Still, I need to see something encouraging before I curl up in a coma and sleep the decade away. (I feel you, 99 Seats.)

2011 Budget Deal: How Did We Do?

Unsurprisingly, not well:

The three federal agencies devoted to making arts and cultural grants will take an 11.2% collective hit under the budget deal that institutes the largest spending cut in U.S. history.
Those three agencies are the NEA, NEH, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (which I must shamefacedly admit I'd never heard of before).

Can There Be A New Spiderman?

Matt Freeman seems to think that there really is a new Spiderman, the way that the New York Times seems to think there is. The way he puts it:
If the painting that you are intending to review was previously painted by a different painter, you should still give the new painter the same amount of time that you gave the painter of the original painting. Even if you already paid to see the incomplete painting of a different painter with the same title hung in the same gallery, using largely the same imagery, you shouldn't think twice about paying for another ticket to see the new painting based on the old one, painted by a different painter, using largely the same imagery, with the same title.
Me? I'm skeptical that the new Spiderman is going to be a new painting, or if it's simply going to be a hasty photoshopping of the original painting. Think about how long the first Spiderman was in production before it actually started previews... they're not giving nearly the amount of time as "the first painter" before they share it with the audience, at which point it will be mostly done... until they shut it down for another weekend to create "Spiderman 3.0," thus driving people to "see Spiderman 2.0 before it's gone!" and forcing reviewers back into the theater to write another cruel and angry review like this one:
[A]lthough it is in previews, the problems with it are fundamental to its conception and largely unfixable.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

SEO Is Mystifying

Why am I ranked above Time Out New York if you Google "Agent G Reviews"?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tax Day Approacheth

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

POLICY: Issues On Which I Am Torn

If I say, "Those who are ahead should get more," do you agree or disagree?

If I say, "Those who are successful should be rewarded with more money," do you agree or disagree?

If I say, "Those who are smarter should get more advanced education," do you agree or disagree?

I ask because I was thinking about it today and realize I am rather torn about the idea of gifted education.

Monday, April 11, 2011


News from Belarus:
An explosion tore through a subway station near the office of the authoritarian president of Belarus during evening rush hour on Monday, killing at least two people and wounding numerous others, according to news agencies.
This is useful context to understanding what the oppression in Belarus is doing to that country, and useful context to the Belarus Free Theater that is now in prison or in exile.

Ah, Euphemism...

Great euphemisms from the past:

Cliff Edwards, the singer, voiced Jiminy Cricket.

Have a good day.

Tobacco Warehouse pt. 4

In our continuing occasional coverage of "non-profit theater as cultural imperialism" in the form of St. Anne's trying to convert the Tobacco Warehouse into a private theater rather than a public community site, apparently a judge has ruled that the City can't give the Warehouse to them.

(Update: in related news, apparently too many film shoots are annoying local DUMBO residents as well)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Are We Using The Better Business Bureau, or is it Crap?

I was reading the terrible reviews for Time Warner Cable on Yelp (there's a liveblog in there that's quite worth it), and someone mentioned reporting issues to the Better Business Bureau.

I decided to make a cursory glance at what the Better Business Bureau thinks of Time Warner Cable, and discovered that it thinks pretty highly of it. "A+" highly.

Considering the vitriol that has been heaped on Time Warner Cable in its time, and considering the fact that every single person I speak to has had some strange Kafkaesque nightmare scenario with Time Warner (mine lasted several weeks -- I'm starting to have one with the National Grid too, actually). So, why the A+?

Are we not using it? Is it blind to issues in the community? Is it symptomatic of some sort of corrupt influence? Are these rhetorical questions I have no ability to answer?

The answer to the last one is yes.

(Update: Consumer Reports appears to have many of the same questions.)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Airline Pricing, Extreme Couponing, And Ticket Prices (That Bear)

Ken Davenport has a conversation about ticket prices:

"NAMELESS PERSON," I said, "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure, Ken."

"Have you seen a movie in the last month?"

"Well, yes, I have."

"Have you seen more than one movie in the last month?"

"I've seen two."

"Ahhh, I see. But you can't afford the theater, right? You just spent at least $25 on movie tickets. You know about TDF, right? You know about 20at20, right, where you can see shows for $20?"

He didn't answer.

I could have pressed on . . . "Did you have popcorn when you were at the movies? Oh, and do you drink Starbucks? Watch Netflix?"

But the point wasn't to embarass him . . . the point was to demonstrate how the problem isn't price. The problem is value.

Or complexity.

Ken Davenport has at times cited airline pricing as a model ("You've heard me say before how closely related the theater industry is to the airline industry, right?" from that last post).

I've lived in this city five years now, and I still have yet to have seen a show on Broadway. Like Ken's nameless person, I am fully aware of some of those things (I have never heard of 20at20, admittedly, but I know about TDF and the TKTS booth and student rushes). But I'm just too tired to fight to get a discount.

Honestly, although I would never pay full price to see a show, I would probably pay $20 to see Bengal Tiger in the Baghdad Zoo. But I don't have the effort of mind to go figure out how I can do it most cheaply.

Since Ken likes Airlines, let me tell him the one thing that makes Airlines the worst is this incredible feeling that you have no idea what you're going to pay, and a sneaking, burning suspicion that you could have paid less.

I recently was looking at round trip flights to Prague, and the first time around I used Expedia to look for a round trip. $1200ish. Then I realized that if you put in "Flights" into Google with a date range, it lets you look the same flights up on five or six competitors. Suddenly the cheapest flight was $700.

Then I futzed around, and I saw a flight for $400. A round trip flight to Prague. $400.

Why was it so low? Because I had accidentally made the date range "Tonight." Meaning that airline tickets become about 66% off the day of the flight. At least, Turkish Airline tickets to Prague that connect for twelve hours in Istanbul...

These sites try to take the illusion and guesswork out of airline pricing tickets. But there's still confusion, not knowing how much you're going to pay. I also don't know if Turkish Airlines charges $9 for bathrooms, or $25 for every extra pound of fat on my body.

To return to theater pricing, we are comparing our pricing model to movies. Everyone knows exactly what a movie costs. You can roll up off the street, pay $12, spend two hours, and then roll out. No planning required. If it's sold out, there's probably another one directly after it.

Not so with theater! Shakespeare in the Park is free, but you have to basically commit a major part of a day to getting the ticket. It's like the people who buy out a music concert within minutes of it opening. They eat up the enthusiasm of the casual fan.

Now, to Ken's credit, he actually designed somewhat of a solution to this: an app called At The Booth. It does for Broadway what Expedia does for airlines. But like Expedia, it's not a perfect solution, and it may not be enough to overcome the psychological block of the audience.

(And trust me: the psychological block is incredible. I live off the Bedford stop of the L. I have a harder time convincing people who live in Manhattan to take ONE STOP across the river than I think I would have if I asked them to rob people...)

Instead, being able to guarantee low prices to everyone means that people won't be discouraged not to apply simply because they aren't "in" enough to know they can get it for cheaper.

Theater is entertainment, not extreme couponing.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Libya And the Other Intervention

Hey kids, did you know the International Community was actually also in the air and on the ground supporting rebels in another violent struggle in Africa? Except with helicopters instead of airstrikes, apparently:
The Ivory Coast Ambassador to the UN Youssoufou Bamba called Gbagbo a 'dictator who is killing his own people' and urged him to hand power to Allende Ouatarra, the presidential claimant who won convincingly in elections five months ago.

State TV broadcast footage of UN and French helicopters dropping troops onto a building in the capital city Abidjan.
Airstrikes began yesterday and today, after five months in power, the dictator is negotiating to step down.

Just an interesting counterpoint to this Libya thing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hamlet's Raspberry

To wit:

Sometimes, as with an old fart like Polonius or a bagman like Colin Powell in his notorious United Nations speech, the Bronx cheer is the only appropriate response.

I suggest reading the whole thing.

Live Performance in the Mainstream pt. 2

Also, an economics blog calls this "Wicked cool stuff":

Live Performance in the Mainstream

Every time I see an article like this one (where Andrew Sullivan quotes a eulogy for live performance), all I can think is, "Hey, someone noticed."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Closing Your Doors - The Good Way

The NY Times has an article about non-profits closing their doors for a good reason -- because they've accomplished their mission:
Out2Play, an organization started by Andrea Wenner in 2005, plans to close its doors next year. The group has put up roughly 120 playgrounds used by about 80,000 children in public elementary schools around New York City and is fast running out of locations, in part because the Bloomberg administration liked the idea so much that it took on some schools itself.

“When I first wrote the business plan, I thought about expanding it to other cities or into other types of institutions, like housing projects or hospitals, and we talked about those ideas and others when the board began seeing the end in sight,” Ms. Wenner said.

Ultimately, though, the board decided that the model worked best for the purpose it had served and that anything else would require more than a simple tweak.

“For example, in a housing project, you would still need someone to take kids to the playground and supervise them,” Ms. Wenner said.

In the end, said Robert Daum, chairman of Out2Play’s board, “we just decided to declare victory and go home. Money is a scarce resource, and there are lots of other good causes out there, so there is no point in hitting up our friends and contacts for gifts simply to perpetuate the organization.”

Works for some, but not for others.