Sunday, December 16, 2007

Send me your phone number

I have been thinking and I think I have figured it out. What we all need- you , me, the world:

You need to send me your phone number.

If you send me your phone number, I, Melissa Dawn Shaw, bartender, would- be- minister, friend, and pseudo-intellectual will tell you something new everyday, in a text message.

That is correct! For the time it takes for you to email me your phone number ONCE you will learn something new about... something everyday!

All moments, phrases, jokes, ideas, facts, and inspirations will be personalized and sent to you, yes, you and you alone. Ask your friends why don't you! They will gladly tell you that you, dear devoted reader, were the only person to learn, today, that alternate side of the street parking is called datumparkering in Sweden.

Perhaps today you will learn about tea, or Macgyver, or astrology.

The future is ours.

This project is very simple and will cost you nothing (unless your phone server charges you and even then I'll bet it's less than the pennies our families never sent to Sally Struthers.)

Now, some of you might be thinking, well, Melissa has my phone number, great, I don't need to do anything, I will be flooded with a silly string of information for eternity.

Do not be fooled...

If you would like to receive a thought, an astrological fact, a witty statement, or a moment of inspiration everyday send your number (even if you are one of best friends) to:

In the email you may also tell me one thing you have NO interest in learning about what so ever.

Sample email:

Dear Melissa,

My phone number is ###-###-####
I have no interest in you ever telling me anything about Victorian Literature.



I will never say a word about Jane Austin and your number is safe with me.

International folks, I will send you all of your charms via email.

Take a couple seconds, think about it, and then email me.
Sign up by sending me your number.

You only have learning the the fat content of Yogurt to win and nothing to lose.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

My Jewish Vagina

By what I can only imagine was sheer accident I was born out of a Jewish Vagina.
Apparently, as soon as the crown of my head hit the vulva something was decided for me -for life.

That's it kid. You're one of us. Sorry, there's not much you can do.

Oh, and now, you have a Jewish Vagina. Peace.

The guy I'm seeing also came out of a Jewish Vagina, which makes him slightly more desirable to the Vagina from which I came. Jewish Vaginas like people who also come out of Jewish Vaginas.

Because now everyone has something to talk about and the ice has been broken.

"Jewish Vagina? Yeah? me too! 'nother drink?"

This is missing from Eve Ensler's work on the Vagina Monologues.

My Vagina is Chosen...

But, anyway, I'm learning, as I get older, and live in New York longer, that this Jewish Vagina of mine entitles me to some crazy things as well as puts me at some disadvantages.

It doesn't know Hebrew which is bad, but it is supposed to have a greater chance of landing a doctor for a husband. It gets a country to call its own, you know, just 'cause, but it has a strange persecution complex after years of systematically being exterminated. No hard feelings though.

I just wanted to take a minute and tell all the Jewish Vaginas out there that I see you and I know what other people can't see.

Like clits. A lot of people don't see them.

To be continued...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


My life has not been the same since I learned about this.

This process is also known as a farce.

Happy holidays everyone, let's shove some animals inside each other and think about the reason for the season.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thanksgiving arts and crafts

So, I didn't post about Halloween.

But wouldn't it be funny to make one of these out of a Penis?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hello Again

So, someone whose opinion I admire, informed me that I have been lazy and not updated my blog for some time.

I respect this person's opinion even if he thinks calling someone "Pumpkin" is violent.

So, I am holding myself responsible for a Halloween report.

See you on the flip side.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Defend Brooklyn!

Hey everyone check this out!!!
This is important.

Develop-don't destroy. BROOKLYN

Media Contact: Nancy Kelly, (646) 796-8624, or Reva Cooper, (718) 965-0486;

WHAT: Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn Walkathon Fundraiser-- A Better Brooklyn, One

Step at a Time

WHEN: Sunday, October 14, 2007, 12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. (rain or shine)

Registration: 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.

Walk: 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m.

Post-Walkathon Celebration: 2:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

WHERE: Prospect Heights Brooklyn

Registration and Kick-off: Freddy’s Backroom, 485 Dean Street @ 6th Ave., Brooklyn, NY.

Post-Walkathon Celebration: Soda Bar, 629 Vanderbilt Ave. @ Prospect Ave., Brooklyn, NY.

Route: the walk will follow Flatbush Avenue to Grand Army Plaza, circle the Plaza and proceed down Vanderbilt Avenue. Total distance, approximately 1.5 miles.

Information and Registration: or email

BACKGROUND: Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) to hold Walkathon Fundraiser—a Better Brooklyn, One Step at a Time. Individuals, teams and families are invited to step out on October 14 to participate in a Walkathon to raise funds and awareness for the ongoing fight against the outsized and unpopular Forest City Ratner Atlantic Yards project.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, a non-profit corporation with 501-C3 status, is an umbrella organization for a coalition of citizen, community and faith-based groups that oppose the current plan for the development of Atlantic Yards. Last year’s Walkathon fundraiser involved over 300 participants and raised over $100,000.

The Walkathon, open to all, will start at the edge of the project’s footprint, on the corner of Dean Street and 6th Avenue. Registration, children’s activities and a word from the event’s Grand Marshal, TBA, will take place between 12:00-1:00 p.m. From there, participants will walk the neighborhood of Park Slope/Prospect Heights on a route that will take them past some of the great monuments and civic buildings of Brooklyn. After approximately 1.5 miles, the walk will end at neighborhood hangout Soda Bar, a kid-friendly bar and restaurant, for an after-party hosted by Roger Paz, aka DJ Motormouth, and featuring a live performance from Brooklyn singer-songwriter John Pinamonti.

Individuals or teams can register to participate and raise money for the event at Donations take place online through a secure and fully-automated system, or can be made in person on the day of the event. All donations are fully tax-deductible.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn supports true progress for Brooklyn, and believes that the citizens of Brooklyn deserve development that will unite our community instead of dividing and destroying it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Hey Everyone!

This month's Monocle is this Friday October 5th at New Voices Bookstore in the East Village...

Come see the Mono-tastic stylings of some of the most talented up and coming actors, comedians, improvisers and storytellers riff on this month's theme:

(Insert sound effects here)



There will be tricks!
There will be treats!
There will be candy!

Come watch us perform some stories and then stick around while we improvise monologues and performance pieces out of thin air, for you, right on the spot!

This event is free!

New Voices Bookstore is located at 424 9th street between 1st Ave
and Avenue A.

They did the Mash...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

This is the world we live in now...

Do you really need a 250 dollar ticket?

When you can have it virtually?

Friday, September 28, 2007

not bad, for your first nervous breakdown.

He had a Turkey on his head and he was singing No, Woman, No Cry.
He had a Turkey on his head and through his clear plastic frames I could see that he was quite serious. He was rocking back and forth as if he were singing to himself. I would have thought so, if it were not for the open guitar case with pennies and dollars sitting in front of him. He was making some money.

He was drinking Vodka out of an Italian Wishbone salad dressing bottle.

He had a sticker that said Trust Snape, on his Guitar- undoubtedly a Harry Potter reference.

I pegged him for an NYU sophomore, who had just realized how ridiculous things are.

That, ladies and gentleman, is how you have a nervous breakdown.

Clap. Clap. Clap.

The follow up is the hardest.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Bird

I am bringing back the finger.

Where on Earth did the finger go?

New Yorkers need the finger. In fact, I can only assume that the finger was created here. Who else would come up with such a meticulous method of communicating frustration and disgruntilation?

The eighties was big time finger time. As was the nineties.
I remember.
My mom gave everyone the finger, but, I think now, sadly, she might the only person using it.

Have we moved on to something greater.? Something with more truth?
No, we haven't. In fact, I say we're lame.
We have not benefited from the decline of the finger.

I say, let us not let the finger die. Give someone the finger today.

It is times like this when we need to preserve what we hold most dear.

Thursday, September 20, 2007



Wanna hear what I just heard?

Walking to the subway:

"Well, my friend had an abortion last summer, and I really saw, that it's not all it's cracked up to be...


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A funny story about Kevin Klein

My sister and I were walking up to the theater where I performing on Friday Night.

We were both carrying a heap of stuff: blankets, bags, a box, and a television.

All of a sudden, Kevin Kline was there too.

Just as I normally do when I see a famous person on the street in New York City, I simply said, "hi!"

It looked like Kevin Klein was about to become one in a long line of "said hi's to", aline which includes F. Murrary Abraham, Susan Sarandon, and Al Gore.

But, instead, unsatisfied by my cursory "hi," he looks at my sister and I and all our stuff and says:

"Well, don't you two look homeless."

It was here that I started explaining to him that I was about to do my Solo Show in a theater upstairs and that he should come.

He explained that he had to go home and memorize lines for Cyrano de Bergerac.

I told him I understood.

But I tried to tempt know, Austin Pendleton directed a show that is in this festival.

He made a little bit of a face...still not sure if the face had anything to do with the festival or Austin Pendleton. Suppose the world will never know.

Then he says, "well, wait, what is the name of your show?"

To which I reply, "On how to dress your children the day you are going to pretend that they have polio."

The he says:

"'ve done that before..."

To which I blink, "Yes!! I have!!"

"Well," he says, "break a leg..."

KK, just incase you read SHAWDENFREUDE from time to time, you know, just in case, I want you to know I had a wonderful show and I'm going to come see Cyrano. Hey, haven't you done that one before?

Friday, September 14, 2007

talkin' 'bout my generation

Oh How to Dress Your Children the Day You are Going to Pretend That They Have Polio is tonight.

There is going to be a great deal of winging it.

Don't think for a second I know what I am doing. That is for professionals.

Those of you who I will see tonight, see you soon!
Those who have sent their love from afar, I love you too.

I love all you guys.

(Redundant) Love,
The soon-to-be Preacher

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Burning Man, part one

Where can you go to have your breasts painted, see/become/participate in art, sleep on a trampoline, drink free booze for five days straight, and meet a Superman from Switzerland who can break into your car?

Well, Burning Man, of course.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you have not been, we are going together next year.

Burning Man, as I have been explaining since I have returned, is a combination between a carnival, an amusement park, a gallery, a magic spell, Christmas, Hanukkah, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, camping, and an American attempt at Utopia.

Things go up in flames at Burning Man.
Things are magic petals at Burning Man.
Things are hot and dusty at Burning Man.

I fell in love on the Playa - with the Playa.
The fact that I was taken away on Sunday in a Ford Explorer bound for Los Angeles was cramped and sad compared to the love fest that Burning Man was, that the desert was.

I am very tan. I am covered in burns and cuts.
Burning Man is an intense adventure where one could be playing pool one minute and being bathed by an almost-stranger the next.

I took a magic love potion, ran away from a 17 year old who tried to kiss me, had a guy guess where I live by my zip code, saw a double rainbow, drank absinthe, survived two major dust storms, and Journeyed with a Shaman who was also giving out Sno-Cones.

Pictures soon.

I slept 17 hours yesterday.

God Bless,

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What to do if you are kidnapped by Terrorists

This was actually on MSN this morning, cortesy of Slate.

Are these how-to articles, in this, our modern age, in this, our twenty-first century, going to begin substituting articles in places like Cosmo? Will this be on page 128 instead of that euphamistic article about how to give a better blow job, or how to be Anorexic without even really trying?

The way it was placed this morning, in the same spot I have clicked on articles like Beat Your Temper Before it Beats You and Blueberries: a Superfood, made me feel like it was a joke. If I am not mistaken this could be a headline in the Onion.

I think it comes just short of telling you not to lose your head.

Well, at least I know what the fuck to do now, don't I? Whew.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

RIP Violetta

I was walking along the Hudson at just about Midnight. It was one of these cool evenings we've been having. I was lucky and brought a sweat shirt. I go there, sometimes, when I am on the West Side, to work things out. Sometimes, I yell into the water and blow kisses at the moon.

I was near Christopher Street and all the couples that hang out there. There is a huge gay community that hangs out near the water. It's gay guys and the occasional runner, at that hour, on the Hudson.

I was going nowhere in particular, when I passed a woman who looked not unlike an aging Sissy Spacek with two pig tales and freckles. This, however, was not Sissy Spacek and she was busy balancing a box on top of a shopping cart. A Medium-sized Manhattan Mini-Storage box, to be exact.

She was tying twine around the box. Once, Twice, Three times, the twine went around.I was approaching from the north and, for a moment, didn't think too much about it- then I realized how weird it was. As I got closer, I noticed that the box was covered in hand written words. I strained my eyes to read the black sharpie scrawled over the printed blue advertisement for Manhattan Mini-Storage.

RIP beloved Violetta.

A little speaker when off in my head:
Attention. Attention. Please proceed to the nearest bench to watch the rest of this unfold.

I knew what was coming.

The Sissy Spacek woman finished tying the box shut, centered it, heavy with dead animal, which I could only assume, by its size, to be a cat, on her shopping cart and began moving to a spot with a clearer shot of the water.

I watched, amazed, with one eye, fifty feet away, so as not to disrespect her or scare her away.

She checked over her shoulder a couple of times making sure she was in relative privacy.

And then, picking up the box, gauging a fair distance between she and the railing, she swung the cardboard sarcophagi:




Burial at Sea.

There was a splash and she peered over the railing. She settled in, elbows resting on the piping, back curved, closed off from the sky.

I watched her for a few moments, from my distant seat, without moving. Suddenly, I felt very alone myself and full of loss. I'm not sure who sunk into me more, Violetta, dead and adrift in the cold and lonely waters of the Hudson, or the woman, aging and likely now, without companion.

I felt very blessed in that moment to be neither.

It began to feel wrong having witnessed the funeral and not having given her my best. Before I knew it, I was walking over to her.

I stood next to her. My knees resting on the railing; I peered over. Violetta was bobbing on the water. She was sinking, but remained steadfast with 60% visibility.

I turned to the lady who looked as if she was amazed by what she had just done, in shock that the cat was dead, and confused by my presence.

I looked at her and smiled lightly.



She immediately started crying.

I told her I was very sorry for her loss she told me she had had her for fifteen years. I told her losing cats is the worst feeling in the world; she continued to cry.

I hugged her and told her I would leave her be in peace.

"Thank you for stopping," she said.

I said, of course, and be well, as I walked away from her and the bobbing Medium- sized Mini Storage box, now only 40% visible in the Hudson River

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Two Gallon Gas Can

I was carrying a two gallon gas can up First Avenue at about one AM on Sunday. Technically Monday. A woman walked by me and said "that's weird" to the man by her side.

That came exactly three seconds after I decided to pretend I was going to go burn something down. I feel like it made what I was doing a little less embarrassing and a little more colorful.

Jilted lover wasn't powerful enough. Too sappy for that late hour in the Village. Besides, the weather was too nice.

I think that's a good one if you live in Arkansas. Jilted Lovers should do other things in New York City. Like pose naked with their Ex's Mother and post them on the Internet.

That's what the clever folks of New York are capable of pulling off. (It's why I haven't left yet.)Biting irony in their revenge.
A burnt up house is so mundane.

But that didn't change the fact that I was carrying a gas can on the Lower East Side on an extremely early Monday morning.

But, before I could decide what it was, exactly, I was going to burn down and why -a woman was onto me.

I abandoned my plot.

When I reached my car, unscrewed the gas cap, and began to glug-glug the gas into my poor abused automobile, a man pulled up on a pair of roller blades and crashed himself down on the stoop next to me.

I smiled at him.

He pulled out a screw driver, took off a skate, and started doing something by the way of tinkering.

"These skates I just bought for ten dollars are acting like I just bought them for ten dollars."

"Because you did."

"Yeah, but they're like $200 skates I just bought off a street kid."


"It's worth it though, I don't have wheels of any kind."

"Well, be careful that they don't fall apart while you are moving."

"Well, I'm careful enough to hope I don't die."

I bid him good bye when my car started up and good luck.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mercury Retrograde

Thanks, everyone.
The Cinquain project is on it's way.

Mercury went retrograde today so everyone watch out!

(Yes, I do believe in that stuff.)
Check your watches, make sure the emails were sent, and if you don't hear back from someone try not to take it personally.

It'll be over July 5th.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Back. And Needing You.


Sorry I have been gone so long.
Long Story. There were two plays and a birthday, you see.
But listen, I need your help again.
I'm back just in time to need all of you!

I need to compile a list of your favorite Historical Figures, Concepts/Theories or just Really Good Subjects. One word nouns are OPTIMAL.

I'll explain the next part when we get there.

Please, just leave them in the comment section.

I feel like Superman after his melt down when I say it, but I promise not to go away for too long again.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fire in the Hole

So, I have to share this.

During the Great Rachel Hyman Scandal of 2007, I had a gentleman visit my blog, undoubtedly from her page, who informed me that he didn't get the "Shawdenfreude" thing and gave a web address that featured the correct spelling and definition.

So, I just visited it and discovered upon it this proverb:

"Pimenta no cu dos outros é refresco.": "Pepper in somebody else's anus is freshness." (ironically used.)

It's Brazilian.

Why have I never been to Brazil?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

All's Well That Falwell

Look what just happened.

Please, oh, please tell me he was in there with a male prostitute. Give me another reason to believe in fairies.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Bye Bye Boobie party

Thursday night I attended a Bye Bye Boobie Party.

I am sure you wondering what that is.
I am so glad you asked.
My friend Kerry is having a choice Mastectomy. She has written a small pamphlet about why, the crux being that Kerry is not happy having boobs of any kind. She is going to feel more like herself without them.

I, inevitably, thought about my own breasts and how I have had a strange relationship with mine for years. I felt torn. I could both never see myself doing it and completely being able to rid myself of two objects that sit on my body, doing me very little good, that get in my way.

I have never been to a party that has celebrated such an enormous life change. I commend Kerry and her well thought out life decision.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Rubin Museum and this guy and his tulips

"Things are not what they seem, nor are they otherwise."

That's a quote written on the Rubin Museum. It is not attributed.

Yesterday, as I was about to enter the Subway, a man stopped me and said excuse me, can I ask you a question. I was in a little bit of a rush, but the man seemed earnest, holding a five-dollar potted plant, in front of my favorite bodega. He asked me the best way that he might ship the plant he was holding to his mother in California. I told him that there is a whole network of people waiting on the other end to bring his mother flowers if he so chose to order and send them to her. He said, oh, that's how it typically works? And I told him yes, I believed so.

I did not, however, wish to crush his dream if he was hellbent on those wilting tulips making their way to his mother, so I told him another route would be to pack that puppy in a box, as tightly as he could, with padding or pillows or the new biodegradable packing foam, and pray for the best. He asked me if that is something I would do, use the biodegradable foam, and I said maybe not on a plant, but sure, it's much better for the environment.

I re-descended the stairs and completed my journey to Manhattan. I got to the Rubin Museum at 8:30, just in time to accidentally catch their Talkingstick program. Talkingstick, apparently takes place every second Friday of the month. Last night one of my favorite comedians, Master Lee, was there and a fabulous woman named Janice Erlbaum, and a man who simply called himself "Mr. Patrick." The major thing I learned about Mr. Patrick is that he took a vow of silence for twenty years and will not live anywhere he can not park in front of. So now he's talking and lives in Harlem. I missed the intro to the talk, but I am assuming the theme had something to do with the Dalai Lama, or meditation, or mindfulness.

I learned this story about the Dalai Lama:

The Dalai Lama was meeting with Chairman Mao and Chairman Mao asked him if Tibet had a flag and the Dalai Lama told him that they did. So Chairman Mao looked at him and said, "Good, I think that it is good that Tibet has a flag, and I think that you should keep it."

So, the Dalai Lama says, if there is ever a problem, if anyone says anything about the Tibetan flag, just tell them I saw Mao, and Mao said it was ok.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Rachel Hyman Is Famous

I am serious she is.

Guys, check it out.

This business is on fark, digg, and

When I am not sitting in a Dunkin' Donuts using the Internet at 2 am (damn you, Time Warner, damn you), shivering over an iced coffee and under florescent lighting, I would love to put some questions to you about why people act like abusive creeps on the Internet and feel completely justified.

The Internet: Playground for people who never stood up for themselves in Grammar school?

Check out the DMCA debacle and some of the the most bizarre reactions I have ever seen.

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, Rachel is extremely fuckable.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Boston Over-Easy

Here is what I have to do today:

Before I get on the road to New England today, I have to crack open two large grade A eggs and put them in my car's radiator.

I have been given the specific instruction to cook these eggs in my car.

It is going to help me get where I am going, I have been told by my helpful mechanic, Butch. It is a farmer's cure for a leaky radiator. Why not? If yogurt helps a yeast infection why shouldn't two raw eggs help my car. It's a homeopathic cure.

My car is now officially an ovo-lacto vegetarian.

Isn't this the diet Charles Atlas recommended?

I think my car would rather have a martini.

This is your car.
This is your car on Brunch.

The Underground

Monday night I was called in to "emergency bartend" at The Underground on the Upper West Side. I felt, for a minute, like a medical doctor.

Paging someone to get people drunk, paging someone to get people drunk.

I was quickly shown the place by the extremely disgruntled bar manager, got a mumbled thank you, and started mixing drinks. Carlos the bouncer is an awesome guy. I drank a shit load of grenadine.

Go there for some cheap drinks and some nice regulars if you're ever on the Upper West Side.

After the Long Island Iced Tea I made I might not ever be back there, but you should go!

And they have a late night menu!

How do you know you have lived in New York too long?

You know you have lived in New York too long when you step over a one-legged woman on heroin who has fallen out of her wheelchair at the corner of 14th Street and Second Avenue. You have lived in New York too long if you don't even think about helping because you don't have time to care and that you really can't care anyway, because what are you going to do? You have certainly been here too long if you think, she's fine.

I think in most other places, still, a person collapsed on the street = get help.

Maybe not LA. Maybe not San Francisco.

You have also lived in New York too long if you own a vehicle with a sign in the window that tells all who may be even remotely interested that there is "No Radio - Anymore."

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Death and Company, Hope and Anchor

Friday night, after the performance of Off the Hook, all the directors of the shows and actors who had just played abused teens, drug dealing fathers, and gang members went out for a little drink.

Hope and Anchor is a fabulous little diner on the corner of Van Brunt and Wolcott in Red Hook. It's a brunch joint, it has a full bar, burgers, and I learned is a karaoke hot spot run by drag queens on Friday nights. One of the drag queens, incidentally, when not wearing a tight black skirt and heels, is one of my lead actors.

Karaoke is an entire phenomenon built around the need to sing along.
Try not singing along to My Girl in a crowded room full of people. Some things cannot be explained.

I think the highlight of the evening was our five-foot-one white waitress getting up and singing Baby's Got Back, really, really seriously, but with no rhythm.

After I had heard as many New York centric songs as I think were available, and members of my group finished their rounds of such crooning love songs as Mack the Knife, I headed out to Manhattan to meet up with some Fashionables.

At Death and Company, I imbibed in a Brava Fresca and a plate of chocolate and strawberries with the lovely and talented Jenny Yuen. If you haven't made it there yet I highly recommend it. It's a pretty sexy place, if not obviously overpriced, but worth it as a treat.

The bar's whole gimmick is to bring back the golden age of the cocktail.
Cute and fun.

Death and Company is a also a poem by Sylvia Plath, just as a side note. I think the two are unrelated.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Earth-like planet

Scientists Find Most Earth-like Planet Yet.
This broke news the other day and I'll tell you it makes me nervous.
I think it has a lot less to do with being excited about the potential of finding new life and has everything to do with "where can we build a spaceship and go to after we have finished destroying this place."

So, when we find a planet like that, I'm thinking all the rich people are gonna keep on keeping on, and think in the back of their minds we'll always have planet 7x5600. I'll tell you it's the same kind of thinking that people who have dual citizenship have. If it ever gets really bad I can always move to Brazil.

Well, listen here you people thinking we can colonize other planets-

Stop it. If it ever gets that bad we are supposed to die off.

And if we are trying to find known life on other planets for the purposes of more outsourcing or even borrowing a cup of sugar, that isn't ok with me either. No one wants to have a BBQ with us, I'm sure. We're the lousy neighbors who have the cops called on them and trash the lawn. We have cat poop in the back yard and take the Neighborhood Watch way too seriously. Like with-a-shotgun seriously.

The Earth is gonna turn out to be the trailer park of the Universe.

Manifest Destiny does not apply outside the Milky Way.
Stop trying to sell EVERYONE an Ipod.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Flying Spaghetti and Other Internastical Musings

I am apparently three to four years, depending upon the subject and the web site, behind the times. I swear I am. It doesn't matter how much crappy Avant-Garde art I see, or artists I know; I am behind. I am ESPECIALLY behind when it has to do with Internet phenoms.

I bring this up for a variety of reasons. To begin with, I just learned about The Flying Spaghetti Monster. Apparently, everyone from 21 to 37 knows about this. Everyone, that is, except two or three of my friends who are equally behind.

Tragically unhip. It's a tragedy, really.

I wonder why this is. Why do some people know exactly where to look on the Internet
and others have only just joined gmail? Is it about age, culture, or education? Is it something completely intangible? Is it just that there are Internet it people?

Now, with my Luddite tendencies being exposed, and all that being said, I would like to bring this to everyone's attention.

This is Mike Daisy and what happened to him last week. Mike Daisy, in my opinion is a genius. As a solo performer, I am picky and snobby about who I like and who makes me laugh. Mike Daisy is a Spalding Gray for the 21st Century. We love Mike Daisy.

Now, if we watch the video we see something come over Mike's face just before an enraged audience member spills water all over his set list. From on stage Mike watched 87 people from a church related group walk out of his show at the ART in Cambridge. The "fucking Paris Hilton" bit put them over the edge, it seems.

Is Mike Daisy an F.T. Marinetti type, or are religious people really out of their minds? Well, either way, I thank those people for bringing more attention to Mike. He deserves it.

And in other news, a professor from Catholic Emmanuel College was fired for talking about the Massacre at Virginia Tech this week. He, at some point afterward, said something about freedom of speech, but I don't think any one was listening.
He's on You Tube, too.

All of this is coming in the wake of The Pope eliminating Limbo.
That's right folks, your dead unbaptised babies are now safe home in Jesus' bosom. More interesting than the dead babies, I think, are all the "good people" who died before the birth of Christ. I think the Pope should check in with the Jews and see how this effects the Jewish settlements in Limbo. Does there have to be a complete pull out, I wonder? Well, I guess this beats a symbolic right of return.
But, still, I wonder who will take care of King David's olive trees?

Monday, April 23, 2007

This Weekend

Hello New York area people.
If you are free this weekend it would be great to have you in the audience.
Brooklyn Borough president, Marty Markowitz is gonna be there on Friday. And I hear rumor that De La Vega might be there too. Apparently, it's the place to be this weekend.

Off the Hook: Original Plays by Red Hook Kids

Six young playwrights, with the support of professional writers, actors, and directors, take center stage
in their own plays for an evening of funny, moving, raw, wonderfully original theater.

Friday, April 27 at 7:00 pm
Saturday, April 28 at 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm
PS 15 - The Patrick Daly School
71 Sullivan Street (between Van Brunt and Richards)
Red Hook, Brooklyn

Admission is free
Reservations: 718-395-3218 or visit

The Playwrights: Atiya Avery, Naturel Cordova, Dominique Daniels, Eddy Fortune, Unique Pearson & Glenn Smith

The Company: Pete Ascolese, Arthur Aulisi, Erica Cardwell, Barnett Cohen, Megan Cramer,
Joey Davis, Jill BC DuBoff, Clayton Dowty, Reg Flowers, Anikke Fox, St. John Frizell, Genevieve
de Gaillande, Andrew Grosso, Chris Hammett, Eve Hartmann, Josh Higgason, Ashleigh Beth Hile,
Andrew Irons, Jessica Krakow, Eliza Langley-Wilbur, DJ McDonald, Jacob Morales,
Joy Newhouse, Abby Royle, Eric Saiet, Tricia Seifert, Melissa Shaw, Edie Stone, & more

Sponsored by DYCD in partnership with Good Shepherd Services' Red Hook Community Center at PS 15.

This event is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.
In Kings County the Decentralization Program is administered by the Brooklyn Arts Council, Inc. (BAC).

Additional financial support provided by Independence Community Foundation and by American Stevedoring, Inc.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Did you just hear a bird call?

Things I Saw Yesterday:

One The Deepak Chopra meditation room
Two a startling ayurvedic doctor in a blue sari who told me my necklace was beautiful.
Three one cross eyed guy, with a lisp, who leaned into me in the 49th street subway station and whispered "Thank God it's Friday."
Four one man carrying three stalks of sugar cane. On the W.
Five Kinkos.
Six man, dressed as a bird, making misleading bird tweets and caws on the N train; his feathers were purple and green, the last round he played right to me.
Seven the inside of the 41st street Starbucks at the corner of Broadway.
Eight an old woman who harassed a kid for the way he was sitting and then tried to take my other chair, in order to build her fort.
Eight and a Half another woman, slightly less bonkers, who was angry that I would not let her sit in on my meeting.
Nine a meeting with a playwright from Columbia.
Ten the temperature dropping from the 70s.
Eleven"Little Michael Jackson." The best Michael Jackson impersonator is two feet tall. And draws a CROWD at Times Square
Twelve In Darfur at the Public Theater. Go see it. It is the greatest thing I have seen in a very long time. It is a work in progress and the finished product is going to be breathtaking. I learned a lot.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gypsy Robe

These are not the future of New York fashion, although, I think my grandmother once bought me something like the one on the bottom for Christmas one year; these are Gypsy Robes.

I had chalk in my pocket and I was distracted. I was breezing through the Performing Arts Library thinking about getting my hands on this particular book that synchronicity keeps pushing in my face. I won't say it now. I'll let you know if it changes my life.

I was listening to the music they were piping into the gallery exhibition in the library. Songs from A Chorus Line. Ethel Merman. I was being transported back to Junior High Drama Club. I was thinking I needed to get out SOON. As I ambled along, I came upon something encased in glass and padlocked to the ground. It was made out of everything but the kitchen sink, had the tail of a sea creature, the blue hood of a fairyland princess, and a boat. Yes, a boat.

I circled the glass case until I found the tag explaining just what in Abraham's name (Remember Abraham?)I was looking at.

The Gypsy Robe is one more example of how the theater is unlike any profession in the world. The Gypsy Robe was put into existence by Bill Bailey fifty years ago. A friend of his was in the chorus of Call Me Madam and nervous about his opening night so, Bill Bailey, as a good luck charm, gave him a pink robe the he had been given on his opening night of Gentleman Prefer Blondes. A Broadway tradition was born.

Now, it is given on opening night to the chorus member with the most stage credits. That performer is then obligated to attach a memento from their show, to the robe, before passing it along to the next "Gypsy" or Chorus member.

When the Gypsy Robe is full it is retired and is housed in Lincoln Center or in the Smithsonian. The one I was seeing was the 7th generation Gypsy Robe, started in 1979.

I sat with that robe for the better part of the time I was in the library. I got outside and it was still too wet to use my chalk. Too bad, too. After seeing the Gypsy Robe I felt like everything could use some color and luck.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Is That From Moby Dick, Do You Think?

I am embarrassed. I am embarrassed and disgusted that a man like Chris Matthews is a journalist. No, I am embarrassed that people allow him to think.
Tonight, he asked Steve Capus, the President of NBC, if Ishmael, the name that Virgina Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui adopted, was a reference to Moby Dick.

Sure. You could argue that, I suppose.
The kid was an English Major and Moby Dick is indisputably an important work of American fiction. Yeah, all the shit that happened on Monday could have to do with a whale and a boat.



Dip wad.
ISHMAEL, which means "God will hear" is only the FIRST SON of Abraham. That's all. You heard of Abraham? Abraham, you know that little guy who almost sacrificed his son, Isaac, the father of the Israelites. You know, Abraham, that little guy that three MAJOR WORLD RELIGIONS hinge their beliefs on. Or whatever.

And Ishmael, his son, cast out by Sarah. You know, maybe one of the most famous outcasts. Ishmael, the one who many deem to be the blood line of Islam.
You heard of Islam, Matthews?
No? Well, it's just this religion that we've been a little prejudiced toward for the past few years. Just the second LARGEST religion in the world.
But, you know, whatever.

"Is that from Moby Dick, do you think?"

Oh shit, yes, of course, Melville. I'm glad you cracked it. Man, I would have gone on thinking it had something to do with the Bible.

Google it, for Christ's sake.

Note: If I turn out to be incorrect and we find out that this had to do with Melville's narrator, and had nothing to do with alienation of biblical proportions, I will PERSONALLY call Hardball and issue a formal apology.
And buy Matthews a copy of Moby Dick.
In hard cover.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, why I first fell in love with unreality

Constantly risking absurdity
and death
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
above a sea of faces
paces his way
to the other side of the day
performing entrachats
and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
and all without mistaking
any thing
for what it may not be
For he's the super realist
who must perforce perceive
taut truth
before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
with gravity
to start her death-defying leap
And he
a little charleychaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spreadeagled in the empty air
of existence

- L. Ferlinghetti

"I'm sorry for the interruption, but this is a revolution."

Lawrence Ferlinghetti informed the theater that Ferdinand Marcos had said that, but it sounded beautiful coming out of that old bard's mouth.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti knocked his clunky brown oxfords against the podium as he spoke at the 92 street Y on Monday night. He read from A Coney Island of the Mind and some of his unpublished and newer works.

"I love reading these old chestnuts," he declared, turning the page, after finishing one of the poems from A Coney Island of the Mind.

Another time, he was humbly self critical.

"Rather pathetic imagery there about breasts," he said after reading poem #20 in which a woman's breasts were "breathless in the little room."

He ended with a poem about a dog in the White House.

After the poetry reading, I waited to have him sign Unfair Arguments With Existence, a book of his plays. I never do it, but I wasn't sure when I would ever see Lawrence Ferlinghetti again.

He looked at the title page and looked at me.

"Well, this is an old one," he said. "This has been out of print for years!"

I was honestly not expecting conversation and, taken aback, I think I said something about an oldie but a goody.

"I designed this image," he said.

"It's beautiful," I said, looking at the title page with him.

He told me that he had taken the image from a poster he found in Cuba. He said the flower in the gentleman's hand had been a gun and he replaced it with a flower.

I asked him if the poster had had anything to do with Fidel. He said he was almost a hundred percent sure that it had been Cuba.

I told him he was one of my biggest influences.
He smiled and nodded at me.

After I left, I realized I should have asked him what he thought about what was happening to Coney Island, and how he felt about his plays, and how he would rival Rilke with advice. Now, I have to see him again.

Walking out of the auditorium, the rain had paused, so my companion and I decided to walk a little further on to the subway. Avoiding puddles, with sleight-of- foot tricks, we reflected on the homage they had payed to Kurt Vonnegut at the top of the program.

They played a piece of an old interview. His voice, deep and clear and full of mirth, announced with no reservation his opinion on the role of art:

"The goal of art, is to make us like life better than we do right now."

I thank both of them.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

"O Oysters, come and walk with us!" The Walrus did beseech.

Now on view at the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden is an exhibit focusing on how oysters were served in the 1800s. Yes, it is an Oyster Dinner Installation.

I was there, originally, to hear a woman give a lecture on food inspired by operas from around the world. From this lecture I learned some very interesting things of note. One being, for example, that this is called a fiasco.

I also learned the sordid details about the Champagne Aria.
But, what I mostly did was get acquainted with the old house, of which, I have decided to become a member. Located on 61st street and York, Queensboro Bridge looming, this place houses the only Oyster Dinner exhibit worth seeing in town. I mean, it's how the table would have looked and everything, folks.

The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden was a day hotel and very few people actually ever stayed over. It used to be called the Abigail Smith Adams House, but they changed it, much to the chagrin of Rosalee, a woman who conducts the children's tours.

"I mean it doesn't matter whether it was the wife or the sister, at least the name was recognizable."

Well. There you go.

After hanging out with the Gray Hairs of the Upper East Side, I made my way down to the place that loves me best, and hit up a music venue called The Stone. The Stone is operated by the composer John Zorn, and since Tonic closed this week I decided to check out the future of Avant-Garde music.

Now, I hope the entire future of Avant-Garde music isn't a woman screeching songs in Yiddish. I mean, if it's part of the future, that's ok. I guess anything is better than a synth.

After Ghetto Tango stopped singing about Mashiach , I was on to Flux Factory, a must not miss in Queens, for the closing of Grizzly Proof. Although I have been there before, many times in fact, I have never gone dressed as a bear. Please visit their website to see why there was so much encouragement to arrive as a grizzly. My costume, sad, as only a furry brown coat, paled in the face of the bear-creating-genius of the kids of Flux. As always, the art was as good as the company.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Everything In Moderation, Including Moderation -Mark Twain

The best reply to unseemly behavior is patience and moderation.


Couple things ;)

First and foremost, I just want to let everyone know that I temporarily put all the comment business into moderation, you know, for safe keeping. I have, however, taken it off, it is not the way I wish to roll. I appreciate that people have fun here. I want to keep it that way.

I am sure things will be just fine.

I also have to say that my intention was never to have any kind of immature hijinks in this joint. Check your weapons at the door, gentlemen, or stand outside. House Rules.

I would also like to say that unless you are out of your mind, I will always post your comments. And even if you are out of your mind, and you're acting like a mensch, I will post your comments.

Let's not give this anymore attention. And forgive.

Ok. So, New?

What I really want to tell you about is Francine, Rosalee, the Oyster Exhibit at the Mount Vernon Hotel and Museum, and why a Champagne Aria is called as such. I would like to talk about why I love Rachel Hyman and Fels, Flux Factory and its Grizzly party, being dressed like a bear, and how much I wished Nick Normal was there.

And I will right, after rehearsal and work tomorrow, I swear.
Keep those suggestions coming!
Thank you for all your love and support.

Gainfully devoted to you,

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut

And, although we could never say anything that could rival your legacy, please allow me to just say Rest in Peace, Mr. Vonnegut.

Thank you for waking us up all these years.

Staten Island-Stange Things-Quan's Third Eye

I got on the third car of the L Train and made my way toward Staten Island. The L train is kind of like that dangerous friend from Junior High School. The one who’s friendly before first period, but doesn’t show up at lunch. I can love her while I have her. That’s it.

I arrived to swap trains at Union Square and dropped down the stairs to the NRWQ connection. The sounds of a Busker wafted through the air; someone near me banging on a bucket. For some reason I decided to walk toward the sound, even though I usually avoid the subway musicians; I feel guilty if I don’t have loose money to put in the hat.

A sign propped up in front of him told me that I was listening to the musical stylings of Quan and his Third Eye.

He had on a Bindi at the bridge of his nose and a University of North Carolina hat.

He was banging on a Benjamin Moore paint can.

I asked him what the answer was in three words, he said love and truth and some people might say peace.

I got on an R train headed south.

I arrived downtown, Lower Manhattan, the financial district. That place reminds me of 9/11 and a boy I used to know.Up an escalator and into a place that felt more like a Hospital waiting room than public transportation.

There was a triumvirate of pigeons flapping through the Staten Island Ferry station. Two little boys were chasing them, corralling them, pinning them in the nooks and crannies of the terminal, releasing and starting again.

As we were about to board the boat, we assembled in waiting- for- doors- to-open formation. Grouped tight at the loading dock, there were apparently people who had to get to their regular seat.

I walked on with a crowd of tourists from Minnesota. They all went to the starboard side of the boat to see the Statue of Liberty. I figured I really had nothing better to do. Twenty five minutes of sight seeing might do a body good.

Staring out across the water at Ellis Island, I thought about the fact that people came here some years ago with hope, and had their names changed. America was a place people heard a rumor about and got on a boat for. This guy behind me had a totally different thought.

“Ok, so, let’s get our troops out now, ok? Let’s face it we didn’t go there to give the Iraqi people Liberty, we went there to take their oil. So, let’s get out now, ok?”

A protester.

He clapped a little. A couple of people agreed. A Latino mother of two, near me, tried to start a chant of agreement.
Then, one of the people from Minnesota spoke up.

“If you like them so much why don’t you move there?” said a man wearing a hat with ALASKA written on it.

“I didn’t like Saddam Hussein if that’s what you mean,” said the protester, who I noticed was wearing a button that read, War Is Terrorism.

“Well, go sell it some place else. We’ll get the troupes out when we’re done doing the job.”

“And what’s the job?”

“Getting their oil.” If I am not mistaken, ALASKA Hat’s eyes glittered at his own wit.

“Well, at least you’re honest.”

The mother of two reminded us that we were all Americans and to relax.

Slowly, the protester came to a halt with his pleas and disappeared. The man in the ALASKA hat went back to staring at the Statue of Liberty, perhaps thinking that he had won something.

We disembarked the Ferry and I decided to remain in Staten Island for a while. I got an idea that I needed a pocket dictionary and I went into the stationary store/pharmacy of the main drag in St. George. The merchant had dictionaries of the Spanish/English variety, but not what I was looking for. Nothing, all in English, which I could put in my pocket.

I asked the man behind the counter if he had any water I could purchase. He said he didn’t, as he spoke my eyes darted behind his counter to the very, very, very many pictures of Marilyn Manson that were cut out and pasted behind him.

“Who’s into Marilyn Manson?” I asked, putting my unused wallet away.

“He’s my God.”

“Really,” I asked/commented to the Italian Metal Head who couldn't sell me water or a dictionary, “What is it about him?”

“He doesn’t give a shit about what anybody thinks about him. He does his thing and if you don’t like it you don’t have to be around him.”

I walked out feeling like I had learned something about that man and his Stationary Store.

After consuming a sandwich of Mozzarella and Eggplant in a restaurant that was trying very hard to feel like Sicily, I stumbled upon The Staten Island Museum.

And, by the way, if you are looking for embalmed flying southern squirrels, stuffed ducks, florescent minerals, Security guards who really, really like their job, gems of any variety, morels, lesbian teenagers making out in awkward places, Agate from Brazil, Aquatic history, butterflies, dinosaurs, or beetles I know just the place.

I would like to focus in on one particular highlight of the museum that held me past the 3:30 ferry home.

The Strange Things Exhibition

From left to right in a curio-cabinet on the wall, here is what it offered the viewer:

1) Weathered wood

2) Tree Burl

3) Section of pear tree bored by larvae of Leopard Moth

4) Concretion shaped like a potato

5) Cow horn (from young cow actually killed by turkey buzzards when she was calving. I shot over 20 of them.) -Charles Roome Parmele. Author’s note: I’m assuming this man is the donor.

6) Growths on the white cedar

7) Ironstone concretion in the shape of a horn

8) Pine knot

9) Tusk from wild boar (which I shot in Louisiana swamps but not until he had killed my dog.) - Charles Roome Parmele Author’s note: Me again, Apparently, Mr. Parmele. has cornered the market on strange things in Staten Island.

10) Rabbit droppings (in a matchbook)

11) Section of rind from a four pound lemon

12) Shellac facts (This is too hard to explain.)

13) Four-legged chicken

14) Hair ball from the stomach of a Texas Steer

It is my belief that this is all on permanent collection at the museum so please make a trip anytime. Note: I learned that the 2 dollar entrance fee for the museum is waved on Tuesdays, for a lunch time special, from 12-2. All of this (including the ferry ride) can be yours for free.

On the way home I made the 3:50 Ferry by the skin of my teeth. There were these beetles at the end that wouldn't let me go.

The third beetle from the left was a Stag beetle from Ecuador.

Thank you to Franny and Sarah. Franny, it was a "3" day.

I would love more suggestions from you, the reading audience. Please feel free to keep them coming.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

An Experiment

"Chaos is the score upon which reality is written."
This Henry Miller quote just popped up on my gmail banner.
Sounds like he knows the way I make my art and my relationships.

I had a conversation with a very dear friend of mine about this last night, and we discussed the difference between chaos and adventure.
The difference?
Go ask someone's therapist, I certainly don't know.


Lovers, Haters, and Friendly Tolerators of Shawdenfreude,


Here is the interactive part of our Shawdenfreude show. I have decided to conduct an experiment and I need my dear readers to become active participants.

For the next week, I am going to ask for parts of an assignment from you funny and intelligent people and all you have to do it post your suggestions in the comments section.

The deal:

I am going to go places in New York I have never been before. galleries, bars, cafes, etc. and I am going to create written pieces based out of my experiences there.
I will then post them the next day on Shawdenfreude.

Here's what I need from you:

From you fine folks, I need suggestions of where to go, creative limitations, things to focus on, or things to include in that day's post.

For example, you might suggest that I:

Can't speak to anyone.
Ride the Subway.
Include 5 quotes I hear that day in the text.
Wear a flower in my hair.
Use a portion of the book I am reading in whatever I write.
Go to a church.
Mention Sweden 4 times.

Think of yourselves as putting a thumbprint in the clay. Somewhat like a Choose Your Own Adventure Story, I would like your outside input in helping me create the next day's written piece. The piece will then take the form of a short play, a poem, a fiction piece, or a rant depending what the set up is.

But in order for it to work, I need everyone to be involved and post ideas everyday for the following day. So please post as many as you like. (And Have fun. Just try to pick things that won't get me arrested, unless they are brilliant!)

Please feel free to forward this on to your friends who might be interested in being involved in the experiment.


Sunday, April 8, 2007


In case you haven't noticed, it has snowed, in some part, for four days straight.
Someone I know said it serves us right.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


Keith Richards totally snorted his father.
Keith Richards absolutely positively one hundred percent took his father's ashes and put them in his nose.

On the sign in front of the Burp Castle, from now on, I'm going to write, "beers strong enough to make you want to snort your Dad."

We make you want to snort your parents.

Speaking of the Burp Castle(again), what would you do if a non-English speaking patron from Colombia tried to explain to you what it was like to work in the liposuction business in New Jersey?

Listen with rapt attention.

That guy did an amazing impression of a vacuum cleaner.

Monday, April 2, 2007

He said he was from Yemen

Another reason to love New York.

There was a man in a fedora who was watching me write in the Subway station.

Between the time it took to get from Union Square to Bedford Avenue I heard a story from a man who was born in Yemen and almost eaten by a lion, while taking a piss, before he moved to Israel, where he served in the army and was almost killed by an Egyptian Soldier when he was thrown off his Motorcycle. He tipped his hat and showed me the scar on his head. He then relayed the tale of being shoved out of a car by the German Mafia for whom he was working as a driver. He asked me to write his autobiography. He got off at Bedford before I could hear about his time in America. He and what he called his 12 lives.

Happy Passover.

The Burp

Sarah had some mango in a plastic dish that was the color of dead shoulder blades. We were talking to a gentleman from the Czech Republic. We realized that I am pretty ok at helping people figure out what they really want to say in English. The guy from the Czech Republic had some issues with W's and V's. I tried to explain. Good luck getting him to say Newark.

Before he came in, there was a moment I shared with a Deaf Man who wasn't sure what to do with his boat, now that his father had died, he had to think about moving back to Manhattan. He decided, at the end, that he might just buy another boat. Keep one near Long Island. Maybe. He didn't know that he had been yelling the whole time.
My grandfather was the same way.

This is sometimes the Burp Castle. It is also sometimes people from Houston wrestling and it is sometimes people crying. It is sometimes dead and it is sometimes full of french fries and cheese.

Will you, won't you? Will you, won't you? Won't you join our dance?

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Edward Scissorhands

Last night, I saw Edward Scissorhands, the silent dance-theater piece by Matthew Bourne. Oh Yes, they made the fabulous movie into a fabulous play.It was beautiful, clunky in some moments and occasionally indulgent, but over all, I felt that the idea was not wasted. If you saw this movie as a kid you would love it.The dance of the avant-garde lawn sculptures is worth it alone. Lots and lots of geometrically shaped, jete-ing pachysandra. More of it in the world, I say.

I was glad not to feel, walking out of BAM, that it was better left undone. Although, I'm sure some critics have, honestly, I haven't looked. Everything will get someone speaking out against it.

But, it is true, that so often things are made from plays or books into films and shouldn't be. It is especially offensive when perfectly good stories are turned into Ice Capades. Not everything is better on skates, Disney

The next thing I'm planning to see is Point Break LIVE! In, fact, I can't believe I haven't made it there yet. It's only running in New York and it's an adaptation of your and my favorite Keanu Reeves/Patrick Swayze surfing/bank robbing flick. And they pull someone different from the audience to play Keanu EVERY NIGHT! I hope they pick me.

If you can make it tonight to the closing of Edward Scissorhands I recommend it.

My only wish was for Johnny Depp to be there, but that doesn't really diverge from the norm.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

This Old Man

Gordon comes into the Burp Castle and we talk about NPR.
We talk about NPR and he says witty Octogenarian type things. I don't bet on him having a lot of teeth. His bottom lip meets his nose.

Gordon wears a tackle vest looking thing. Very Henry Blake from MASH 4077.
Gordon used to be a social worker, now he lives alone near Webster Hall.

I have recently discovered that my beloved old coot is a tricky one.

After he asked me why I wasn't off getting my PHD yet, he ordered a Stella and put a ten dollar bill on the counter. If you have ever seen me around regulars at the Burp Castle, you might have noticed that I am not quick to pick up money. I figure, nobody's going anywhere. Especially if they're planning on coming back. Especially if they look over 82.

Well, Gordon and I left that ten spot unattended to, the bill that would have covered his one drink, if I indeed decided to charge him. (Gordon, in my opinion, has earned his free beer at this point.)

Gordon left to use the bathroom in the middle of a conversation he and I were having about Barack Obama. He thinks Obama is too young and is pulling for Edwards. He silently nodded through my opinions about Hillary.

When Gordon returned and we picked-up our conversation, I noticed his ten dollar bill had whittled its way down to a five.

There was now a five on the bar under Gordon's Stella.
Abe Lincoln peering skyward through a passable pilsner.
Since I wasn't planning on charging my last, only, and oldest customer of the night, I didn't much care. I, instead watched, with bewildered amusement, as a few more minutes passed and a few more dishes were done, a few more tables were cleaned, and the five was gone- replaced by two singles and an empty pint glass.

A kind tip for a beer on the house, only I wasn't deciding to give Gordon a free drink. Gordon was.

Gordon has moments when he reminds me of my grandmother. My smart and charming grandmother who would talk you out of your last dime if you gave her ten minutes- and your last dime.

I cannot wait until I can plead Alzheimer's.

Friday, March 23, 2007

I don't have all that much to say about it, but this is me, in the Negev, on a camel.

Between Two WORDS

As fate would have it, last night, I saw a chassidic love story, called Between Two Worlds. It was based on a play entitled The Dybbuk written in 1914. A woman I know played the lead and she and her lover gave wonderful performances. At one point she played a Dybbuk in a wedding dress. More female roles like that, I say.

And Israel is haunting me. I have met more Israelis, in New York, in the past week, than I think I did while I was in Israel. I have met a bunch of strangers who did the free Birthright trip; The woman who does my eyebrows almost moved there; The girl I picked up my new eyeglasses from told me she got a better tan when she was there.
Not to mention the plays I'm invited to see. Apparently half of New York has been to Israel.

Israel- The Jewish Bahamas?

When I was in Jerusalem, I saw a play completely in Hebrew. It was a translation of Life is a Dream by Calderon de la Barca. I read this play about 10 years ago, and needless to say, had very little idea what was going on. But it happened. In two hours, I watched people captured, released,love, cry, consumed with envy, and forgive- all without understanding a word.

I do have to say, although I felt helpless from beginning to end, I understood something very new (or very old) about our relationship with language. During the play, I saw all those things(fear, love, hate) but I came one small huge step away from feeling them. In the dark of a language that was not my own, I saw how deeply we are triggered by the word. In our own languages the codes we have get inside us. Body language does only half the work. The word sears us. I forgot that, I think. I was reminded during a the King's, stationary, 12 minute Hebrew monologue. Where everyone one was laughing except the three fake Jews in the front row.

The chassidic love story on the other hand, I got every word. When a frum Jew says "you've come to steal my heart," in English, to a secular female, you just get that.

Oh, the places Jew will go.

Let's pretend I never said that.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Now, was that bird an Arab?

So, I've been a slacker and I'm sorry if you've been checking in.
Coming back to New York has taken a little more out of me than I thought.
The clock and time and who the hell was George Bush to redesign Day Light Savings, anyway?. That didn't help. I see 2 am a lot. I see 6 am. I feel like it shouldn't take this long, but a few people have told me it is one day for every hour difference. I'll buy that, it sure feels that way.

They loved me in Newark airport, the Jews. I was asked a litany of questions before I even left New York (New Jersey, for you sticklers). They weren't crazy about my last name. They weren't too keen on me not having any Hebrew.

"What is your Hebrew name?"

See. I knew I had one. That I knew, but since I had never been Bat Mitzvahed and all, I didn't pay too much attention to it. I knew my sister's for some reason -vaguely, but I decided not to lie.

"I'm sorry, I don't remember."

The security agent took my passport and said she would be right back. It was clear that I was not Jew enough for El Al. My grandmother always teased me for looking too much like a shiksa.

When she returned:

"I have reason to believe that someone may have given you a bomb or another item and placed it in your bag."

I had to report at Noon.

After a bag check, a shoe swab, and escort to the plane I was permitted to enter the State of Israel. Some of my compatriots did not fare as well as I did. There were strip searches, lost cameras, and one guy was so upset after he got to Israel, he turned around and went home.

The group of us that were asked to step aside, were wondering just what it was that flagged us. Did we look different? Were our answers insufficient? What made us look like a terrorist would give us a bomb?

I realized after a little bit that every one of the Israelis who just put me through the ringer, had probably been in the IDF. El Al knows how to keep the skies safe for the Chosen People.

You know what is beautiful, like mountain, Mediterranean beautiful? Not being able to read advertisements or sales pitches because they are in Hebrew. That, my friends, is worth a ten hour transatlantic flight. There are no English cognates in Hebrew, nope, that's right, I couldn't even get close.

"Hey, Rachel? What do you think that says?"

"Box, box, squiggle, ccchhhaaa."

"You think that means they have falafel?"

I am wearing a red string around my ankle. It is supposed to ward off evil. I put it on just before I stepped down to the the Kotel, just before I washed my hands and approached the wall, near the ramp that might start another war. I was supposed to make a wish and tie it. I forgot. So the red string represents a red string, until it falls off. Then, it will simply be gone.

Did I tell you I watched a bird be murdered? Yeah. By a fisherman near the Andromeda Rocks in the old port city of Yafo, which is part of Tel Aviv. He cast his line behind him and asked our unmanagable group of Americans to please move back. I still say it only happened because he was focusing on us. Distracted, he cast, and somewhere, above the ocean, his hook met with a the breast of a passing bird and struck him dead. The bird took a nosedive and sunk into the ocean. A single feather fluttered, spiraled, and followed its body down to the sea.

The entire group I was with fell completely silent for the first, and only time in our ten days together.

I screamed, "he killed a bird!" Just in case no one had noticed the bird, now a death brick, fall into the western most waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

If that bird's religious affiliation had been known, THAT may have been a political act on the part of the fisherman. We didn't ask, and he kept fishing. The bird's carcass looked like it was helping the angler's endeavor. Our tour guide moved us along.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Israel: It's complicated

You'll never believe what Israel has as a national problem.
No. Not the Palestinians.
Nope. Not Iran.
If you say Global Warming, you're ice, ice cold.

Stray, stray cats.
They are considered the squirrel of Israel.
The Zionists are overrun by feral cats.
In Tel Aviv.
In Jerusalem.
In the Negev Desert.
They tried to kill the cats one year and got a rat problem. They swiftly went back to the cats.

I'm back in America and I am getting used to not seeing things in Hebrew. English is the third national language in Israel. Arabic is second,it sweeps across road signs and shawarma stands and looks like dancing.

In Israel, in the Arab neighborhoods, it is not uncommon to see houses built with only a completed first floor. The second and sometimes, third floors are left for a later date. The houses are designed deliberately as such so that when it is time for the family's son to wed, there is a place to build a home. Arab men are not permitted to wed without their own dwelling first being secured. Sometimes, in the desert, these bottom heavy domiciles look like ghosts.

In Israel, there is pain in the hills. Like one of the dead Zionists said, the future of Israel, is in its desert.

Hebrew is a mostly made-up language.
From the Torah, they did the best they could. They, of course, had to figure out how to say things like ice cream and computer as time went on. Video game. The Internet was never mentioned in the Song of Songs.
New Jew, new Hebrew, is the sentiment.

Sometimes Israel, the way it is built, the secrets that it has, feels like a Disneyland for Semites. Some Semites more than others.

In the Dead sea. You do not swim. You cannot swim. You float, only.
Any attempt to swim and the water will try to kill you. If you go under the surface the water will keep you, and sting you. It is too heavy to come up through. The water of the dead sea is toxic and healing all at the same time. If the water gets in your eyes you cannot open them from the pain. The Dead Sea tastes like putting your tongue on a battery and it takes several minutes for the pain to subside.

You can not stand or you will cut your feet on the salt deposits and spines of unidentified rocks. Lie on your back and the Dead Sea keeps you up all on its own. I have never felt anything like it. Its surface feels like mineral oil and its waters cradle you. If you pull your breasts out, they will float like Buoys.

They have signs cautioning for camels like we do for deer and you can feel the people feel God in the land. At the Kotel, and at the Dome of the Rock you can feel the two religions, both so strong in their beliefs, turning their backs on each other. It is cold in its separation and more stifling than frightening to see the amount of guns on peoples' backs. In both religions, the women cover their hair.

On Sunday, I stood where the The First and Second Temples used to be and where Muhammad, made wings, and went up to heaven.

I saw where Jesus Christ was crucified at Golgotha.
On the slab, where Christ's body was laid out, people took off rings and laid them down so as to have them blessed. People blessed oils, and candles, and incense. People kissed everything in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre that they could.
It's funny, but of all of the religions trisecting Jerusalem, Christianity feels out of place. At the fourth Station of the cross, where Jesus met with Mary, there is a sock and brassiere shop. The Jews and the Muslims seem to have the strongest lock on the Old City. The Christians aren't putting up much of a fight.

You feel the air change in East Jerusalem where the Muslim population is not "Israeli-Arab," where they are not citizens of the State of Israel, but instead Palestinian.

In case you were wondering, yes, there is a Palestine.

You can see it on the hill from the The Temple Mount. Because Palestine is both it and and beyond it.

In case you were wondering, Israel is complicated. After two weeks, I see the murk of the region only more. I see it like Dead Sea mud.

I see an Israel that should exist, because it is as much in the history of the Jews as anyone's. Who the hell hasn't taken that land? The Arabs got it from someone else, too. That land has been lost and reclaimed like a Title.

They offered the Jews Uganda when this all started. Before '48.
Some people thought they should go there.
Brooklyn has the second highest Jewish population in the world.

Third Temple in Williamsburg?

I have more to say after I sleep.
Thank you for welcoming me back.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


So, the Dead Sea stings and cuts your feet. The future is in the desert, they say here in Israel.
Greetings from Zion.
I am staying on longer and will have time to write when not in the group.
Alive and Tan and in Jerusalem,

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bukowski Tonight. Israel Tomorrow.

Israel Tomorrow.
My hope is to write as frequently as I can.

I was walking around New York today finishing things up. Grabbed the repaired trench coat. Stowed the car. Went to the bookstore.

I took a lot of looks at New York tonight. Remembered why I love it.
I love her dirty and sad and full of too much stuff.
I love that she's loud and pushy and smart.
I love her because...apparently she reminds me of me, wait a minute!!

I was at East Village Books tonight, I was in the last minute throws of is-there- something-I-need, and I made my way up to the counter with a couple of last minute finds.

For the very first time, I noticed the 5 tiered bookcase behind the store keeper.
It was covered in Bukowski. From top to bottom.
I asked him what for there was so much Bukowski.
He laughed and said it's like that at Barnes and Noble too.

"The junkies steal it to sell on the street."

"Just Bukowski?"

"Well, Keroac, too."

I looked and saw some of him in the corner on the bottom.

So, junkies have very specific tastes, and the verdict is in. Bukowski is the junky street vendor's author of choice.

See you in Israel.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sure, But How About My Robot?

I'm about to fly internationally and I have just learned that I may not bring a sno- globe of any kind on the plane with me. I may, however, carry on Toy Transformer Robots. Those have the all clear.

I feel really, really safe.

And glad that no one is being unreasonable about robots anymore.