TO DO: Jack Ferver

Among other fab things going on at Dixon Place’s HOT! Festival, Jack Ferver is presenting a new piece, MEAT, likely to have all the high-energy, wrist-cutting, shade-throwing, and fierce-ass-bitch-mongering that he is known for. (Remember, we reviewed Jack for The Rail a while back.)

Tickets tonight and tomorrow are 1/2 off, so jump on that shit. Call 212-219-0736 to reserve tix.


written and performed by JACK FERVER

w/ Reid Bartelme, Liz Santoro & Jason Akira Somma.

Thursday-Saturday, Aug 21*, 22, 23, Wednesday & Thursday, August 27 & 28
Thursday, Friday & Saturday, Sept 4, 5, & 6 at 8pm

Dixon Place, 258 Bowery, 2nd Floor, between Houston & Prince
Gen Admission: $15, Stu/Sen $12; TDF (Mon-Thurs)


Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to die musicians

In the NY Times music section: 4 obits and 1 in memorium in the past three days.


LeRoi Moore, 46, Saxophone Player, Dies

Ronnie Drew, Folk Singer and Guitarist Who Founded the Dubliners, Dies at 73

Johnny Moore, 70, Ska Trumpeter, Is Dead

Hollywood Joins Memphis for a Farewell to Isaac Hayes

Dorival Caymmi, Singer of Brazil, Is Dead at 94

Talk To Me, Goose

Hey peeps-

My real-life alter ego is working on an article about the Met’s HD simulcast program.

If you or anyone you know has been to one of these, and thinks it would be fun to be interviewed by a real live arts journalist (well, darn near close to it), please send me your (or their) info via the “Contact” page at the top of this blog.

I’m particularly looking for people who have strong opinions about popcorn…


Michael Nagle for The New York Times

Michael Nagle for The New York Times

To Do: Shameless Self-Promotion

Ten years after coming out, composer/performer/writer Ryan Tracy has one more thing to come clean about: His songwriting. Since 1998, Ryan has written over a dozen songs that chronicle his pursuit of the big gay life. But for inexplicable reasons, these songs have remained trapped in the closet: Until now!


Original songs by Ryan Tracy
(Ryan will be singing, dancing, monologuing, and even playing the piano!)
Featuring Chris Woltmann on guitar

Assistant Director, Jeremy Laverdure

THURSDAY, AUGUST 14, 2008 – One night only!
Dixon Place
258 Bowery (below Houston)
Click here for tickets, or visit, or call 212.219.0736

ON CHINA PART 2: The Erotic Problem

All ranting aside, there is something we can glean from examining China’s relationship with itself and with the world.

I’ve been reading a series of essays by Anne Carson on the history of Eros–the Greek concept/god of desire–a fascinating, puzzling and ultimately illuminating exposee on the ancient principle. In her book, “Eros: The bittersweet,” eroticism comes down to a sort of triangulated relationship between the lover (or desirer), the object/beloved (the desired), and a static gap that separates them (the ideal). This gap can be perceived of as the unreal, the lack, the thing that actually doesn’t exist. The gap is what keeps the lover in pursuit, and the beloved an always intangible thing.

When I really started to think about the Chinese government and their endemic policy of manipulating everything and anything in order to achieve certain appearances, the more I began to see that China–as a government, as a culture–is engaged in a game of eroticism with its national identity.

There is the real China; totalitarian, human rights abuser, huge poverty population, leader in pollution. This China always desires the unreal China: a society where every citizen is really free and happy with the government, no one complains, everyone has enough; a political culture that is fair and honest and always does what’s best for the people; a government that can do no wrong. And the disconnection, the reality that China IS NOT that nation, is what continually drives China to pursue, at all costs, the semblance of that unreal China through aesthetics. Continue reading

ON CHINA PART 1: Three strikes…China’s out. Oh, and take NBC with you.

I’m taking a cue from L. Ro., who has this great post about Olympic culture on her WNYC blog. Because, I too, in theory, am a fan of the Olympics. I think, as a mechanism for global interaction that celebrates the feats of the human body, while fostering sportsmanship and appreciation of cultural differences, the Olympics have the potential to do real good in the world.

However, these Olympics games, at every step of the way, are being undermined by the Chinese government’s insistence upon manipulating perceptions of their country. The lengths to which they seem to go to in order to foster illusions of perfection are really astounding. And annoying.

Strike 1: There was the digital insertion of fireworks into the televised broadcast of the games.

Strike 2: Then we find out that the little girl who was passed off as “singing” the special I-want-to-fuck-my-country theme song, was actually pulling an Ashley Simpson. And the little girl whose voice everyone heard has probably been shipped off to some mardi gras bead-making factory because she wasn’t cute enough to represent all 1billion of her countrymen.

Strike 3: And this is the one that got me, last night, as I was watching the American girls gymnastics team (and every other girls team except for China’s) put their heart and guts on the line, competing fairly and honestly, against a Chinese team that cheated by letting girls under the age of 16 compete on their Olympic team. It’s obvious. It’s obvious. It’s obvious.

Now, ok, fine. Who’s to say that other teams aren’t trying to cheat in other ways. It’s always hard to prove.

But, it’s really beginning to wear–not even a complete week into the games–always having to deal with China’s endemic practice of artifice-making. And NBC’s complacent, even apologetic attitude regarding such issues is so blatant. They paid almost a billion dollars to have the broadcast rights, so there’s no way in hell they’re going to criticize the host country. It’s pathetic.

Furthermore, what’s passing for sports journalism is really coming off as “tales from the tourists.” The immaturity, caution, and non-critical Disney wonder at China and its culture is just getting to be too much for me.

At one point last night, one of the commenters–I wasn’t sure if it was Bob Costas or the other guy cuz they were cutting to a picture of the Chinese girls–said something to the effect of, “These girls are taken away from their families from a very young age…err…you know…not kicking and screaming or anything like that…”

Excuse me, but any government that takes little girls away from their families in order to serve the government and doesn’t allow the girls to see their families except for once a year, SUCKS. And for our news casters to constantly apologize is simply hypocracy at its lowest. There is no journalism here. There is only damage control, which is complicity, which is playing into the manipulative activities of the Chinese government. Ergo, NBC’s reporters are working for the Chinese government.

What we need, and what we won’t get, is a critical view of China that, while allowing the Olympics to move forward, does not flag one iota in holding China up to the light. These games are coming off more and more as a ruse, and a giant PR campaign.

It makes sense though, that China and corporations invest similarly into their images. In the next post, we’ll take a closer look at why, and why the Greek concept of Eros has everything to do with fake fireworks and lip-syncing.

Read Part 2

Jacob not biting his Pillow any time soon; at least, not outside

Rinfleisch and Company

Rindfleisch and Company

It was in the spring that I found out that Elke Rindfleisch’s 80% of Love–which premiered last summer in NYC at the Ohio Theater, and on which my opera ensemble, Collective Opera Company, had collaborated–had been slated for the outdoor stage at Jacob’s Pillow this summer in what the festival calls its Inside/Out series. Needless to say, all involved were thrilled at the prospect of performing at this vibrant and historic festival of dance. Dropping “Jacob’s Pillow” in any dance-crowd conversation seems to draw a sudden round of “oos” and “ahs”. And rightly so. The festival is a testament to the importance of dance to east coast culture, and proof that dance, on its own, can be a destination for those seeking enlightenment through entertainment.

So, it was not without some disappointment that we were alerted by the festival organizers that the word “sex”–which appears three times in some spoken text written and assembled by dramaturg Joseph Gallo–had to be removed from the performance. The explanation for such censorship was that the outdoor performance series, being free to the public, is geared to attract family audiences. Right…

BEFORE I GO ANY FURTHER: In no way do I speak for Ms. Rindfleisch. These thoughts and criticisms are my own, and I am solely responsible–as the Counter Critic–for their appearance on this blog.

So let’s get into it…

Now, what is probably the more obvious of two issues that arise from the request for and justification of the removal of the word “sex” from this dance piece, is that which concerns definition of language:

How does Jacob’s Pillow define “family” in this instance? Continue reading