Sunday, March 21, 2004

Everybody’s breaking point 

A man goes out one day, presumably to go to the market, but alas having no tradable currency with which to make any purchases of any monetary value, returns empty-handed. Well no not empty, he has in his hand coupons which he might redeem if only he could get to the point of purchase in the first place. He was not a thief, no certainly not the type, at least not when he left the house he wasn't, but at some point between his departure and arrival back in his own shabby abode, he forces entry into a house, for the first time in his life. The window was open and no one appeared to be home or paying attention, so he went straight to the bookshelf, chose one hastily, one book, and ran off, closing the door quietly behind him. Success. He goes home and reads. He wants more books. He chooses a residential neighborhood adjacent to a university, and walks around slowly, inquisitively, until he determines which house to enter, then steals another book, goes home, reads. He continues this until he has more books than his small abode can feasibly handle. Busied by his new preoccupation of stealing books, he begins to collect books faster than he can read them. One day he gives up, carries as many books as he can between his two skinny arms, and takes them to the meeting.

A young girl drops out of second grade for her love of flowers. We warned her mother about this. She is at that age where she asserts her own will fiercely, unreasonably, with an adorable fire in her small, young eyes. She collects flowers incessantly, indiscriminately, from the sidewalk, from after-hours flower shops, from the bouquet of roses hanging from a young man’s hand. She sneaks into weddings before they begin and takes a stem out of each bouquet adorning the aisles. The day is long and her arms are small, and everyday she has gathered more than she can carry before it is even four pm. She doesn’t stumble into the meeting on purpose, she was just looking for more flowers, but it’s just as well.

A young drinker, having spent all his money on video games, baseball cards, and a somewhat rare insect collection, wanders casually through the bar. He slides into seats where the people have their backs to him, and sneaks a sip out of each person's beverage glass. He starts with women, to get warmed up, and then starts his serious hunt for men and their harder liquors. Each time he returns the glass to exactly where he found it, so that the owner of the drink senses nothing out of the ordinary, except for one or two degrees extra of tipping the head back to get to the drink. Many people do in fact notice this, but it is at such a mild and non-threatening level that usually whatever else is readily available on their minds takes over in no time at all. The young drinker hops bars this way, never returning to the same bar twice. He collects their business cards in order to know where not to go. After years in the same megalopolis, he moves on to the next, not because he has exhausted all the bars, but out of a desire to overhear bits of conversation in a different language, a new language, to understand less, once again. This new megalopolis is where he finds himself at the meeting. He is drunk. At the meeting he continues to take sips from other people’s drinks, but strangely, they all seem to notice, and even nudge their glasses slightly in his direction.

The meeting takes place by a lake. There is a man who has been there since the very beginning of somebody’s time. As people arrive, lugging with them more whatevers than they really are able to handle, he sits them down without a word and relieves them of their books, their flowers, their alcohol. One by one he dives into the bottom of the lake and plants these objects there, with love and respect, in a neat and orderly fashion, as if planting a row of corn at the bottom of the odd-figured lake. The man does not steal books, or collect flowers, or sip alcohol, but is working on gaining a little bit, just a little bit more every single day, of capacity in his lungs. One day he will run the Boston marathon in one single breath, and all of us who have ever been to that lake will thank him for it and cheer him on, throwing our books and flowers and booze at him as he whizzes by oh-so-very quickly.

Anger performance I 

Leave the house with acoustic guitar over the shoulder, slung, and walk as if, as if cool, as in iss all cool, for the german homies

And only on a bright and shiny day

Walk until the path is crossed by an insect
(See appendix C regarding which insects are most appropriate)

At which point begin the documentation

At which point raise the gee-tar

High high overhead at a fairly steady clip

Document: h = height

Document: h of 1 thru 6 = height of each string of the guitar to the nearest micrometer relative to 0, where 0 = the ground directly underneath the feet of the insect

And then lower the guitar very very quickly in a smooth arc that shall culminate through the body of the insect, let’s say for example grasshopper or ladybug

The sound shall be documented with each of the strings isolated and all the gee-tar-generated sounds graphed separately from the grasshopper or ladybug-generated sounds. A verbal description, such as ‘The grasshopper or ladybug screams without shaking its fists in the air,’ may be included with the graph.

All documentation shall be produced and printed within the hour of incidence, one copy of which shall be mailed to the Office of Insect Harrassment, at which point a generic letter of apology shall be issued and mailed to the surviving spouse and children of the late grasshopper or ladybug, if any such creatures admit to partaking in such relations.

(Absolutely no one makes any amends to the guitar, itself a very loved and affected instrument, not pretty nor expensive, but loved all the same, destroyed all the same, sometimes having been accused of making a sound similar to that of love.)

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Cherry Blossom Pageant 

A young naked girl runs through a tunnel of cherry blossom trees with her arms in the air.

Because this is Tokyo, there are many people around.
Of those who witness the young girl running, they immediately organize themselves into categories: mothers, children, young men, businessmen, working ladies, old farts. Within these categories they further subdivide by response: amusement, horror, concern for the child's potential to catch cold, desire to join in, and so on. The groupings of people wordlessly assemble into lines, the starting point being the first location of incidence, the lines stretching parallel to but away from the lines of cherry blossom trees, thus forming a natural human bar graph.
They look at each other, waiting patiently for the line to move, trying to see over each other's shoulders, hoping there are cherries at the front of the line, which they will eventually arrive at, oh yes they will.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Group translation project for engineers and mechanics 

Someone invents a machine that can translate dogspeak to humanspeak, so that 'wanwan' means 'I would like some food please' and 'bowwow' means 'give me my food, bitch.'

Someone else invents a machine that translates catspeak to insectspeak directly to newspeak.

We all get bored.

Someone whips out his cell phone, and displays a photograph next to each entry in his address book.

We are still bored.

Someone comes along with a digital audio device, and claims that he has a sound clip for every person he knows. The sound clips do not consist of each person's voice at all, but the sound that is particular and most indicative of each person's sonic contribution to the world: rustle of a certain jacket, length of time between clicks of the heel, a neck that always cracks in multiples of three, the popping irregular timing of bubble gum. I am no longer bored at all, until I realize that this device already exists, not in a piece of machinery in the palm of my hand, but in a sliver of gray in the favorite part of my mind.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Overflow Assignment 

An extension of family, everyone outside of immediacy, comes together for a conference in an overpriced rented hall.

A decision is made as to classifications of 'junk.'

Beginning with, then alternating between, the lowest and highest categories of classification, named items are thrown into the swimming pool, one at a time, one person at a time, ceremoniously, silently, everyone there to witness, hear, take mental note of the sound of each splash, to be stashed away in a drawer of the memory never to be recovered.

The person who throws in the item which makes the pool overflow is branded with an 'O' somewhere on his or her body.

Then a job opening is listed in the classifieds, in the Help Wanted section. Need someone to help with overflow.

The process of throwing objects into the pool continues for as long as there are objects to throw into the pool.

Each participant, when it is not his or her turn, continues to live life as normal.

When it comes down to the final piece of junk, of a median level of junk classification, a conference is held once again in the overpriced rented hall, in order to determine what shall be done.

One of the decisions is that the last person with the last piece of junk shall jump into the pool, together with the junk.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Circle - a group performance. 

Everyone sits in a circle: one big group circle, or that of a more internal and private nature.

In a moment of group anxiety, each person uses their right hand (unless they are left-handed) and begins to incessantly touch, squeeze, or knead a certain body part which gives them comfort.

The baker squeezes his right ear lobe because it reminds him of bread dough at its crux.

The Norwegian kneads the skin on his right elbow because he likes to monitor the moisture level.

A child rubs her right thumb over the skin between the thumb and index finger of her left hand. She remembers what it looks like to press a flashlight through this skin, the brightness and redness of her blood shining through.

A couple of Catholics close their eyes and poke their eyeballs - sometimes with one hand, sometimes both.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Selling -- a sound performance 

The cast
involves a line of people, each with something to sell, stretching clear across.

The audience
may consist of none, one, or many.

The sound
is adjusted by each audience member, by varying the distance and speed with which one walks past the row of vendors.

The end
occurs continuously, as does the beginning.


The cast:
(All members of the cast shout at once to advertise their wares)

A kid at a lemonade stand. He knows he is a phony and this is a hoax. Except that the lemonade is real, and damn good, and still going for only 5 cents, just like in the old days. But this is a hoax, the kid an accomplice, and the lemonade has its reasons for tasting the way it does.

The most beautiful woman in the whole row of vendors is not for sale, but is a vendor herself. Her body does not function in the usual ways of a woman, but more in the usual ways of a threshold. Once across this threshold, one wonders vaguely and only vaguely and for inconsistent durations of time whether it is the smell of bullshit, or that of perfume.

Children selling their parents at a high price. The parents have a dumb grin on each of their faces, as if looking down upon their child’s lemonade stand. These are the parents who don’t believe.

Man selling Bullshit Detectors As Seen On TV for only $19.99

Man next to him with apparently nothing to sell. Step closer though, and he motions you even still closer. “Those Bullshit Detectors don’t work. What bullshit are you concerned about?”

Ella Fitzgerald singing Love for Sale. Every once in a while her tongue sticks to the inside of her left cheek, signalling to those in the know or to those that matter the most dearly to her.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Train A 

Sitting in a train car in Tokyo, London, or Washington D.C. where it is deathly or strangely quiet, a fullness of strangers.

From a place called out of nowhere - a seated man shreds pieces of paper out of a notebook, lets them fall to the floor below him, an entire page, all pieces but one landing face down, one piece only with text, handwriting, word.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Intersection monologue 

a valentine, all of it all of it within such an intersection

A catalogue of things to catch in a busy intersection: female body parts and male body parts.

I’ll a) come back to it later, next time I’m in Tokyo b) catch a long single stem of a flower of any flower-like color: red, yellow, white and such. Okay so it wasn’t caught, but picked up after the initial dropping, subsequent trampling and indifference from xyz number of people. And does this flower still have any value -- post-sentimental, visual, herbal, token -- value, and would I keep it.

I a) spy someone’s cell-phone, but this is a way bigger deal than a flower and even though I would like to have my very own telephone I don’t have that kind of time nor do-gooder-ness, so I b) pretend I never see it. The folks at home who are paying attention would notice that I swerve from my path just ever so slightly, most likely because I am afraid of stepping on or kicking any kind of telephone. Later that day we get an unidentified phone call and I think again about that phone, but mom doesn’t believe in answering unidentified phone calls. (Dad prefers them.) One day in the middle of another intersection it will occur to me, like that stuff they call lightning, why I am so averse to telephones, and countries that encourage telephone use by offering all-you-can-talk plans, and of course it has nothing to do with mom. I am generally weary of most all-you-can-anything plans and offers, but perhaps this is one of those things I will learn to appreciate once I fall in love for the penultimate time.

I’m not really sure I can a) explain what I expect to happen at the very last incidence of love, but fortunately no one is paying attention. A paper bag with perhaps a gun in it. Nah. An empty bottle of what used to hold absinthe. Nah. Not in this city. Actually I b) catch sight of a couple of people kissing, and worry that if they keep at it too long the cars will come and hit them. I wonder how they got started, kissing in the intersection. And you wonder why people can lose their phones, flowers, and public sense of propriety so easily. Or rather, I wonder how they got started in the first place. Perhaps this is their anniversary and they met each other, or rather bumped into each other, in the very first place, right in the middle of this intersection, and she dropped her flower and he picked it up and they didn’t no of course they didn’t realize immediately that they had found their respective someone specials, but much much later when they bumped into each other again, at a different geographical location wearing different clothes but they were still the same two special someones.
And then I c) find a TV monitor in the intersection. Not true. What is true, though, is the thought of such. An installation, they call it. Perhaps involving the kissing couple, trampled flower, and a little bit more drama. As in a car chase. Nah. An execution, by guillotine. Not likely. But what is true, though, is the existence and history of such, and what is also true is that time warps do happen, just a matter of attentiveness. Women also warp their bodies, time and again. More on this later, when I get my rounded bum back to Tokyo.
I didn’t just d) say that, but it’s true. Later, as I’ve said, when I’ve e-f) fallen in love for the penultimate time, I would like to draw a conclusion from all this, the flower and phone, TV and couple, the warp. But later. For now, lesser intentions have been articulated, perhaps by a so-called voice on my shoulder, so I think I’ll gesture towards crossing the intersection.

Oh boy.
What fun.
Wish I could do this every minute of every waking hour of every day. Nah. I think I would rather observe the reorganizations of people from a micro- to centi- metric emotive-rational scale. Nah. I can make a social science project out of this. I can make a human gum drop machine out of this. Nah. I can make a picture perhaps, of all this, the people and junk, perhaps in watercolor to disguise my inability to pay attention to detail. Or maybe oil is better for that. And then I would paint over the whole thing using authentic intersection dirt. Keeping it real, of course. Nah.

Should get back to crossing. I catch what appears to be a fight, so I walk parallel alongside it, oh-so-casually, for as long as I can pull it off. The woman is upset and walking fast and puffing, but the body is slower than all that, and I recognize this probably quicker than I should but oh well. The man is being, or has been, a bum, because she was carrying all this stuff and not only did he not offer to help her carry it, but he let her struggle to open the door, only for him to waltz right through as if she weren’t carrying a million things and having a tough time with just that. This happened many months ago, of course, but now is the time to talk about it because she is upset, enough so that she stops walking alongside this bum of a man, but in the time she hesitates in deciding which direction to move, he takes both his free hands and wraps them around her in what looks like some sort of embrace but she is looking straight ahead and meets eyes with me and I am caught, so I lower my eyes and move on, though I try to keep watching them through the eyes on the back of my head. Nah. I don’t think I meant to come back to Japan.

For example when a space clears I feel suspicious. Someone feels like puking, but of course the surface of the intersection is well-primed to handle such abuse. I watch, because it’s fairly rare to actually see someone in the act of puking in the middle of an intersection. Except it doesn’t quite happen, and watching someone’s nausea is not nearly as spectacular as the real deal. Boo. And I am still not even halfway across the intersection so I try to get a move on, but then again, as it turns out, that first original kissing couple wasn’t even in the intersection at all, in fact they are stationary on a sidewalk, all the way across the ocean in a far far away land I’ve heard talk of called Paris, and so I keep walking and the story, or my part in it, as I hear first-hand accounts of it later, is that there was a manhole with a lid on it called ‘love’ which I didn’t notice, and probably possibly might have fallen in, but then just then by a stroke of luck a car came and hit me, sent me flying all the way back to Tokyo, to land in someone’s arms, a chesty solid surface where someone coos and it feels warm and a hand pets me on the head gently, tenderly, and that painting I was talking about is in fact real, hanging on the wall, I get up to check out the dirt on the painting because I need to know if it is authentic, and I sneak a small sample and send it to the lab, and now I am anxiously, so anxiously awaiting.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Flying Accusations 

Two people, then add a woman. Then a crowd.

of being dangerous to one, or simply a comfort hazard, of having heaved some heavy body some part of the way uphill time and yet again, of having peered. out one eye and in the other, and in one eye, nay behind both eyes, something believing.

of having said this and nothing furthermore.

of having pried both eyes wide with two fingers each, thumb and another finger, thumb and another finger, one person uphill and the other person downhill.

a woman who has never held a job, never driven a car, never had anyone raise any voice at her.
woman having been referred to as loose, loose in the head, lets a few words drop from her mouth.

peer down the hill, hold two eyes pried open using two hands and yet now more than two people accumulating uphill downhill, an aggregate of downhill persons meet an aggregate of uphill persons at some finite or defined forthcoming moment.
one person uphill says nothing at all, except in the form of two prying fingers, regarding one downhill person.
downhill person in particular, or not to lay such specific trappings.

everyone else, as a member of the home audit takes it all in from what is presumed to be a safe distance.

a banging is heard on the door, and a woman who has never opened the door stands behind it with her hands on her hips, indignant at the thought.

meanwhile a downhill person lifts an uphill person, then staggers sideways in a lack of conviction.
a new downhill person lifts both the staggering downhill and saddled uphill person, staggers backward in a lack of momentum.
soon an assembly of staggering bodies.

speed arrives from a distance although no one notices it at first.
gravity slows down as it can.
the hill itself, staunch in its angle.
the home audit members grow restless and start packing their bags. one person lifts a bag labeled wanderlust, but leaves it behind in confusion. the only person who has ever said anything so far is the woman who has never spoken her mind. the only two executable actions, the home audit remembers, is that of staggering and that of prying eyes open. the lifting is never completely so transitive as it may believe itself at any given moment. on the other hand, all moments are given, just as everyone here is a member, just as any moment is dangerous to everyone, even those who claim to be comfortable and those who plan to stay at home and those who have never left in the first place. having been swept away, or up, or out. under some dirty table. both uphill and downhill are both here and there, and neither uphill persons nor downhill persons have any expressable doubt. what they do have, however, builds itself up the longer they stay on the hill, which is by this time bordering on excessive. the woman takes her hands off her hips but no one is there to feel any relief.


Given all of the conditions above, including the one-dimensional hill, any of the above performers are asked to drop their shoulders, gather their last bearings, remove any metal from their persons. A rush of simulated heat and its wherefore.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Ice Event: For 14 Performers and 1 Audience Member 

printed in Clutch, Tinfish Press, 2002

The Vehicle: a large, hollow hockey puck with the top open; about three feet in diameter, two feet high.

The Audience Member: must be small enough to fit in the Vehicle only slightly uncomfortably, perfectly upright with all limbs inside the Vehicle. Only the head should stick out. The Audience Member, once installed in the Vehicle, shall be referred to as IT.

The Cast: two full hockey teams and two referees. One of the team members is a Person of Motherly Concern in disguise; this character will try in vain to protect IT from harm.


The Cast will play a hockey game on the ice rink with IT as the puck. The game will begin in the center of the rink when the Perverted Referee stops kissing IT.

Rules are similar to hockey, plus the addition of one: no player may touch another. Any two players who touch each other even slightly must be immediately removed from the game with no replacement.

The role of IT is to verbally manipulate the players into touching each other until there are no more players left and IT can be relieved of IT's misery.

In the middle of the game is an Intermission: Two Zambonis come out, decorated as for a high school Homecoming float. The theme is Favorite Fast Food Groups: One is Hamburgers and has people in assorted Big Mac, Whopper, and Famous Star costumes. They gesticulate wildly and sometimes take a bite out of each other. The Other is Tacos and has characters dressed as Taco Bell items, Rubio's Fish Tacos, and Roberto's tacos who are quite groggy because they haven't slept in 24 hours.

All players speak in grunts, except for the Person of Motherly Concern who speaks gently with compassion.

If IT's vehicle tips over and IT spills out, the goalie must quickly scramble off the rink. The referees blow the whistle, then set IT upright again. The goalie may return through the gate. This all takes place in the fastest, most inefficient manner.

Sometimes the players slip and fall. This should be visually elaborate but always wordless.

Facial expressions on the players should be generally that of intimidating anger, again with the exception of the Person of Motherly Concern.

IT is allowed to do anything IT wants, as long as all limbs stay inside the vehicle.

If, or when IT cries, the game is over.

Cloud performance 

for Laura Mullen or Laura Wright, and Patrick Durgin and John Granger

Bully Cloud
Cloud Minions
The Hurries
The Pain of Seeing Something Beautiful

Composed and never heard by the Airsmiths, the collected collective sounds captured between their snores while they tour across the mainland of a country that likes to blow up other countries, waving their long banners of ratty dirty hair

First Action
The cast meets over Georgia. The Pain of Seeing Something Beautiful recognizes immediately that it is not in its element here, and begins scouting for a new location.

Second through Fifth Actions
The Hurries sigh, quietly but in unison. The other cast members have not yet rid themselves of the paranoia of meeting for the first time, and fidget a little. The Pain of Seeing Something Beautiful notes that it is the same size as Bully Cloud. Bully Cloud feels some kind of gaze from The Pain of Seeing Something Beautiful, and mistaking this gaze for admiration, puffs up a little.

Sixth Action
Bully Cloud leads the migration to Southern California.

Seventh Action
The Pain of Seeing Something Beautiful leads a storming of the skies, just in time for sunstorms and wildfires.

An Accident
One of the Cloud Minions gets lost. The group must decide whether to descend in search of the Cloud Minion, risking evanescence, or to remain at altitude and continue the show.

Eighth Action
The Hurries sigh. One of The Hurries misses a beat and comes in too slow, gets tossed out without a second chance.

Ninth Action
The lost Cloud Minion is forgotten about before a decision is reached about the search.

Tenth Action
The Bully Cloud was never a Bully at all. The Pain of Seeing Something Beautiful knew it all along. The storm subsides and the cast dismantles and everyone goes back to their normal routines.

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