Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Show: 26, Madison, WI

Turnout: 25
Monetary Votes of Support: 91 AND A CAN OF PEAS, Merch: 6
Personal Injury Report: Unscathed!

Show Description: We were very happy to be at Broom Street Theater. The arrangement was great and we got to hear Tim Morgan play another awesome set, this time with acoustic guitar, cymbals, butter knives, drum sticks, and lots of other stuff, throw in a pencil or two.

Performance-wise, Kate wishes she could have lost at a game of chess beforehand, thus making it easier to cry during the cryish parts. Maybe next time.

It felt good to do the show in a theater space like this with no distractions or strange things going on in the background. It's been a while.

There wasn't much discussion afterwards, so if you saw the show and want to discuss it with us from the privacy of your own home or coffee shop or wherever you are, follow the following:

Did you see this show? If you did, comment on it, write a review or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Economic Report: Week 4

I made a graph to make it easier to see how things are generally going. The first peak is Boston and Storrs, lost on the drive back west. The second big peak is Michigan, lost it going to Pittsburgh and in Chicago. The results still aren't fully in, but what we're doing is working, and seem to be working best in the area east of Chicago and west of Baltimore. Generally working better among older political audiences. But there have been some remarkable exceptions (Storrs and Boston).

Here's another graph, based on what we're spending money on and where we're earning it.

It looks like we're generally making more money doing donation-based shows than door-based shows. This is tricky though, because door based shows are more likely to be split with other performers, so they are often better shows in terms of turn out, and our enjoyment (cuz we like seeing other people perform). Merch sales seem to benefit the concert type shows too. Discussions tend to be best when we're performing alone for donations though. It's sort of apples and oranges.

I think our ideal situation will be approaching the different types of shows differently and then keeping a good mix going.

On expenses: the car costs continue to weigh heavily on us, and we've counteracted by spending very little of the show profits on food. Fortunately, many wonderful people have fed us, but we've also eaten at restaurants out of our own pocket more than we should. This makes touring less economically (and nutritionally) sustainable for us as individuals. Discipline and adapting personal habits to touring life will be high priority next month. Getting exercise (outside of performing) stocking the cooler with ice so we can keep perishables longer, and spending more time writing and working on other projects while on the road are all areas I need to improve on if this is going to be something I want to do lots more of.

The data behind both those graphs, and breaking everything down in detail is online here.

Show 25: Co-Prosperity Sphere, Chicago

Turnout: before we started: 25, who watched us: 4.
Cut of the door: $18
Injury report: The reputation of big cities and artist-types declined even further.

Show Description: What's more disheartening than watching a bunch of Bloomington Highschoolers walk away as we start introducing the show? Seeing a bunch of Chicago adults do the same. What's more distracting than performing one thin wall away from the venue's crowded noisy bar? Hearing a TV blasting what sounds like cartoons or music videos upstairs while we perform.

Hey Chicago! We drove hundreds of miles today to show you something, something I spent years writing and that we spent months rehearsing, do you think you could maybe put aside your prejudice against non-chicagoans, or against theatre, or whatever first impressions of us you got and maybe spend 15 minutes giving this a chance before you listlessly make your way upstairs? I guess not.

Ryan (instinct control) arranged some additional acts to play with us. Marissa Perel's intimate performance art evoked a tense slow dance with death, Ryan played his most erotic set ever, reclining on a red leather couch, and this other guy who can only be described as a whiner, played a techno-with-distorted-vocals-and-feedback set that can only be described as vapid hipster imitation noise.

Here's a picture of Ryan humping his reel-to-reel:
Did you see this show? If you did, comment on it, write a review, or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Show 24: Iowa City, MI

Turnout: 9
Cut of Door: 11, Merch: 11
Personal Injury Report: Some nerve in Kate's shoulder

Show Descriptin: Rioting in the streets! There was a football game. Iowa city against another city. Big Match. Iowa won! Rioting in the streets! Woo Iowa! Woo!

There was a much different mood down where we played in Public Space One. It's in the basement of a marble and wood panneled type building and it felt a little like we were taking refuge from a tornado above us. Turnout was small and our opinions on the performance itself differ, but a fun time nonetheless. There was a baby who slept through two bands and part of our show, amazing. We met some fine people from Minneapolis who played in some rockin' bands which is handy, since we're going there shortly.

Did you see this show? If you did, comment on it, write a review, or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Vehicle Report #4

Vehicle report.

We took Mary to an instant oil change place in Lansing. She passed all the inspections except one. The dipstick or cap or whatever for the transmission fluid was stuck shut. We got some WD40 but can't unstick it. Been running around crazy (Pittsburgh and back) since then and haven't had a chance to take it to a mechanic. This is potentially disasterous, cuz if it's stuck, that might indicate the running loud as problems with the transmission. These problems will only be getting worse with us driving it like this. Before we did half the expensive work back in Milwaukee we got an assurance from the mechanics that the transmission is fine. We're hoping this assurance doesn't turn out to be false.

We're at THE LARGEST TRUCKSTOP IN THE WORLD right now. Where we found an amazing device for warming up liquids in the car. You know what that means? We can finally easily prepare the case of soup we bought!

Other vehicle related adventures:
MILES PER GALLON: 28.164 (thanks to new high grade oil)
SANDWICH TALLY: Kate - 8.5 Ben - 7
Oatmeal, dates, almonds and raisens are all at around 1/4 of the original stock.
STATE WE VICTORIZED MOST: Ohio, with Michigan in close second.

NIGHTS SPENT SLEEPING IN THE CAR: 11. 5 in truck stops, 2 in sleepy neighborhoods (Ann Arbor and Buffalo), 1 in a state park (Monongahela), 1 in a Wal Mart lot (outside Bloomington), 1 in a urine soaked rest stop (middle of Connecticut) and our favorite, in a cozy little cul de sac named "B'JAYSVILLE LANE" in Iowa City.

* states that victorized us are ones in which one of us just about lost our shit for one reason or another (usually traffic)

Show 23: Bohrs' in Chicago

Turnout: 11ish
Monetary Votes of Support: $2.02
Personal Injury Report: Kate ruthlessly jabbed the hard-edged gun into Ben's knee. Right in that sensitive spot that doctors like to tap with their reflex-tester tappers, too.

Show description: After a 7 hour drive back from Pittsburgh (with a stop for a surreal hungarian dinner and burned out house exploration in Youngstown, OH) we went to our friend Bohrs' apartment, watched some TV, ate some corn on the cob, smelled some roasted chicken they were eating, went to a big ole poetry reading at Loyola, performed the play in our second fake mantlepiece and hard wood floor living room, talked about silly things like dragon dicks, theatre programs, cherry pie and the rise of American fascism until 2:30 in the morning.

It was good. But nobody had hardly any cash. Would it compromise our ethics to haul a credit card machine around with us?

Look at this house!

Did you see this show? If you did, comment on it, write a review, or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Show 22: G20 in Pittsburgh

Turnout: From everyone in the quad to 8.
Monetary Votes of Support: 21.40
Personal Injury Report: Kate stabbed a rolled up stack of paper we were (fortunately) using as a safety replacement for the gun (due to presence of riot cops and black helicopters) into Ben's left eye socket.

Show Description: After a 7 hour drive and a hike accross the CMU campus, we discovered that a bunch of anarchists had just left for their illegal march. So we played for college students and other activists who were there for the G20 but not for the police confrontation. Suffice to say, we didn't find the critical political tactics discussion we were looking for.

But we did find something else. One of the activists remaining on the periphery, a guy working on climate justice with pretty critical views of the police confrontation milieu (calling it "death cult S+M tactics") was talking about the "pedagogy of self-criticism". This gave us an idea that might become our next play, the development of which begins with conducting interviews with all kinds of people who went to Pittsburgh and comparing their various intentions, assumptions, and experiences. Please contact us if you'd like to help us develop this piece.

Did you see this show? If you did, comment on it, write a review, or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Show 21: Grand Rapids, MI

Turnout: 20
Cut of Door: 25, Merch: 27
Personal Injury Report: Nothing, but we did pay remembrances to Hames hitting his leg on that stage before Paint the Town last time.

Show Description: Strange show. The area around the DAAC seemed much different than a year ago. Different in that this time there was a woman performing in a nearby gallery in what can only be described as a rose petal outfit doing a rose petal dance on a symbolic rose petal rope trying to conjure the image of rose petals from her audience.

At the DAAC we got to play with Realicide and the members of Victory again, had a somewhat confrontational discussion afterwards with audience members and left for Pittsburgh right after the show. Woohoo.

There was also this. A wonder.

Did you see this show? If you did, comment on it, write a review, or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Show 20: Lansing, MI

Here are the people! Half of them here, half of them there.

There was a pole.

Turnout: 16 or 17
Monetary Votes of Support: 111, Merch: 2
Personal Injury Report: That pole and Ben's elbow.

Show Description: This show went marvelously. It was like a breath of fresh air.
We played at Gone Wired Cafe, a large space that the Peace Education Center had suggested. The crowd was small but the energy was outstanding.

After the show, Tom Rico took these pictures of some of the people who stuck around to talk.
Insurgent Theater's Ulysses' Crewman by Peace Education Center Insurgent Theater's Ulysses' Crewman by Peace Education Center

Before the show, we got to see Rivendell, a beautiful cooperative house in Lansing pictured below. I also copied a picture of some of the people we met there off facebook because it's adorable, and I don't think I could have taken a better one, and moreover, I didn't. So, here it is.
Rivendell Cooperative House
We didn't meet everyone pictured there, but the ones we did make a good miso soup. Cathy, the woman in the bottom left, showed us around, introduced us to the farm she works on and shared her room with us. This whole day was a treat.

Did you see this show? If you did, comment on it, write a review, or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Economic Report: Week 3

I'm starting to think that my metrics are kinda screwy, that p/P numbers aren't terribly valid, reliable or meaningful, given the extensive extenuating circumstances surrounding any given show. Sometimes we're splitting the door with other acts or with the venue, sometimes the money is collected at the door, sometimes after the show, sometimes the turn out is low, different shows are promoted in different ways. We'll never have a big enough sample size or sophisticated enough statistical analysis to isolate, control for, and find correlations between these variables. In the meantime we'll have to rely on gut feelings, guestimates, and instinct.

Also, attempting to do anything with this data is time consuming and eminently not-fun. I realize I promised a more thorough last time, and now I'm failing to keep that promise. As recompense I offer this picture of Kate victorizing some public art in Ann Arbor, where we spent our day off today.
Of course, we're still keeping track of things, and you can still check out the data for yourself. If anyone is really missing my vague attempts to make this data mean anything other than, the car has put us in a serious hole, which we are slowly but steadily digging our way out of, thanks to many shovels small and large offered by many wonderful people across the country to whom we are very grateful, then please complain and i'll strive to do better.

Show 19: Yipsilanti, MI

Turnout: 11
Door: 21, Merch: 10
Personal Injury Report: Unscathed!

Show Description: We played at Dreamland Theater, a place stocked with puppets and marionettes. Here's one of them, the hairy frog. And another, a robotized baby.
The show felt a bit routine, which was unfortunate. And Kate's pre-show introduction thing sucked by her own admission. But besides that, overall, it went well.

Dreamland seems to house some pretty cool events. The music before us was great, the people from the collective were very, very nice and we stayed at a house with a squash the size of an elephant tumor on the counter and chickens roaming the front yard.

There were two downer things revolving around this show. 1) We were held up in dead stopped traffic for an hour due to a bad, bad, bad motorcycle accident.

2) We mistakenly left the gun inside the venue and then went to the squash-chicken house to sleep without a thought about it. Kate had taken it off at the end, which usually doesn't happen. Wonderfully, by a stroke of amazing luck, we were caught just in the nick of time to go and pick it up at the venue. Thank you, thank you.

This is not the most professional behavior we've exhibited, but at least the motorcycle accident wasn't our fault.

Did you see this show? If you did, write a review, comment on it, or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Show 18: Toledo, OH

Turnout: 15
Cut of Door: 40, Merch: 10
Personal Injury Report: Kate pulled a muscle or tendon in the collar bone area pretty badly. Shoulder movement impaired for the moment.

Show Description: Our original set up of playing at Gabe's house was combined with another show and moved to an anarchist space called the Black Cherry. This venue is three things: a large cafe slash infoshop on the ground floor, a show space in the basement and soon to be apartments, ten of them, on the second floor. All this is in the more or less construction phase. It could turn out to be a very prosperous space considering the city of Toledo seems to be in need of pretty much any kind of business.

We played with eight other acts. This was quite a night. One of the guys who saw Paint the Town said it was the show he'd been waiting for all summer. Lots of people, possibly fifty, were there.

It went late into the night, and as any feisty party should, it got a little rowdy. We were interrupted twice by a couple of noise guys due to their apparently vibrant and dog-in-heat style love of theater. Surprising, I know. Their lack of inclusion in our set obviously causing quite a bit of devastation, they decided to fuck up our intro by telling us how to do it, and also delay and fuck up the beginning of the play by improving a Power Electronics set right as we started.

Now, I can't speak for everyone, but I tend to think of guys, especially noise guys, that get excited about theater as, how shall we say... "lesser men." I mean, I don't want to have to be cruel, but come on. Really.

I tend to stick with the volume knob as my measure of truth.

You all can think what you want, but let me tell you, a guy that will go as far as attempting to prove himself by saving the play from his assumption of the performer's own mistakes, yelling, "don't explain it, don't!" during the introduction is in need of being saved himself, lest he fall into the depths of the ever-present emasculating theatrical tights.

And save him we did.

I really couldn't help myself. Seeing someone on the precipice of such disaster made me shoot into action running over to him like a god-fearing evangelical to her coming-out son, slamming the top of his suitcase down on his hands, getting the power cut, and after his nick-of-time salvation, demanding he explain himself, since he better know the reason for his action so as to avoid future repetition of this pitiful display.

Obviously too embarrassed directly afterwards to give any good explanation, he just mumbled, incapable of handling audible language for the time being. And who could blame him really, I wouldn't want to admit that kind of theatrical love either. Ruin a guy's career.

That episode behind us, and the adrenaline happily still pumping, the performance kicked ass and the audience fucking ate it up.

We met some great people before and after the show and got to see some who'd been there for Paint the Town last time we came through. This show was, performance-wise, probably the best yet.

Staying at Gabe's was great, as always. He makes Toledo really worthwhile and an extra enjoyable time.

Did you see this show? If you did, write a review, comment, or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Show 17: Buffalo, NY

Turnout: 27 ish
Our Cut of Door Donation: 40.60, Merch: 20
Personal Injury Report: Our bodies and minds remained intact.

Show Description: Nobody's turned out to be a great show despite various, what should we call them... screwinesses?

Everybody seemed to be in a great mood, we definitely were; things were giddy and Buffalo is a surprisingly enjoyable city. It seems oldish, or maybe just small in that there are two main streets populated by a surprising mix of businesses one wouldn't expect to see next to each other.

For example, Nobody's, an anarchist punk space, is in a house on the corner of one of the main streets that also sports an "I have muscles and wish I had the nerve to pop my collar like those guys I see in GQ do; oh well, that new hair gel I got does pop me up a notch style-wise, I suppose that makes up for it," kind of restaurant.

It's like a family reunion where you can find your biker aunt sitting next to your business school cousin who's explaining collateralized debt obligations to your punk nephew's harmonica playing girlfriend.

On that same street there is also a great European Cafe, a convenience store largely labeled "WE NEVER CLOSE" along with various boutiques, overnight printing shops and tattoo parlors all located inside old Victorian houses. Not to mention, on the other main street, there are goth bars merging with well lit modern minimalist cocktail places that always freak me out, next to worn wood New Orleans style whiskey parlors.


Anyway, the screwiness mentioned earlier can be divided into two categories, one being, good screwinesses and two, bad screwinesses. The bad of the two was that the radio decided to sound like a recording of an already talkative hamster now on coke. This threw things off a bit as one might expect. This is a good reason not to own a hamster, always brining things closer to disaster, bastards.

So, in lieu of not having a working recording on the radio, I attempted to tune in actual static instead. And as the part about the character's Mother in the Land of the Dead begins, Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody picks up on the radio, perfect timing, singing in exact harmony with where the play is going, "Mamma, I've just killed a man..."

This was amazing. And awkward. It kind of made us look like haphazardly bad magicians, and threw me off performance-wise.

The good screwinesses were that people were much more enthusiastic than usual. Everyone hated Ben, quite a bit, and did so obviously. They actually rooted, loudly, for his demise. Also, people participated eagerly in the parts where there were suggestions to. Ah, goodness.

There was some great discussion afterwards too with everyone.

Did you see this show? If you did, comment on it, write a review, or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic artistic transparency.

Vehicle Report 3: Don't ask, don't tell...

It's Monday, which means I should've written this vehicle report two days ago. Forgive me, we had some long drives and good times, see Kate's show reports for details on that.

The odometer says 113145, which means we've traveled 3025 miles. Mary is getting 27.56 mpg, which is quite good. We spent quite a while city-driving in Toledo, the land of closed businesses, in search for something that wasn't boarded up or overpriced ($13.50 for a buffet-style brunch, really?)

We got a new AC/DC adapter, twice the watts and 3/4 of the price. Hopefully this one won't spontaneously deconstruct.

Ever since Mary's CHECK ENGINE light went off on its own just outside Philly we've been in a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" arrangement. Mary still smells funny (like melting plastic) when she starts up, and makes a lot of noise, but as long as that light stays off, we're comfortable pretending nothing's wrong. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, since this 'don't ask don't tell policy' is pretty stupid) it's about time for an oil change, and the friendly 15 point inspection is sure to pick up some kind of disaster in need of our attention. If it doesn't, the emissions test we'll have to do when we get back to Wisconsin probably will. At least then we'll have a few days off in a row.

SANDWICHES! Kate : 6.5 Ben 6.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Show 16: Providence, RI

Turnout: 10
Monetary Votes of Support: 35, Merch: 6
Personal Injury Report: Unscathed.

Show Description: Providence!

We got a lesser dose of what we were dealt last time in this artsy city. Although there were no coon skin caps or tin foil patched clothing, the ironic art school style and attitude prevailed.
People sat in the bar. The guy we were kindly offered to stay with didn't see the play.

There was a man there filming it for, at first what was described as an Anti-war documentary, but then, after a bit more detail was an anti-war documentary, with zombies.

There were two great guys from Salt Lake City who saw the play and found it interesting. I liked talking to them.

There was also one woman who got in a sort of mild humorous argument with Kate that started out with her talking about her MFA and deconstructionism lectures and then evolved into her telling another MFA (who was running the door) to "suck it" when she mentioned another perspective on deconstructionism.
Suck it indeed.

Did you see this show? If you did, comment on it, write a review, or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency. And sucking it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Show 15: Storrs, MA

Turnout: 80
Door Donation: 61, Merch: 55
Personal Injury Report: Ben's jacket split right up the middle.

Show Description: Tom from Blunt Objects did a great job of promoting this show.
Before we started there was a puppetry version of Antonin Artaud's Spurt of Blood, a poetry reading, folk punk, and a puppet piece from Tom himself.

We were pretty excited about this show and it turned out very well. Just having that number of people in the room gives more energy to the performance. Though, there were a couple noteworthy things we learned set-up wise. One, being that with that number of people, it matters even more where you're sitting. The farther back the worse for sight and audibility. Next time we'll have people scoot in closer.

That night there was conversation over clay work and Food Network, and the next day Mandy interviewed both of us for the college radio station, which was enjoyable.

Did you see this show? Comment on it, write a review, or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Economic Report: Week 2

We've survived a second week on the road. I've been online working on booking October shows and taking care of other shit for a couple hours now, so I'm gonna keep this breif. This is what economic reports are about and the raw data is here.

Payment Per Person (p/P) See this post for explaination of this.

Between 9/8 and 9/13 we performed the show 5 times for about 78 more people, and earned $217 in donations. That's an average of $2.78 p/P. The Cambridge show was donation-based and we split the money with others, so for the purposes here, we should add in that $40, which makes the p/P $3.29.

Last week our p/P was $5.89, and the cumulative is $3.73, so this week shows a decline.

There are many possible explainations. First, we might not be performing as well, or making the case for supporting us as well. Things started feeling a little routine midweek, which is a bad sign. Could be geographic, with East Coast people giving less. Could be weird specific circumstances, read the show reports, some were a little unusual.

I promise next week's economic report will be more thorough. So far we're just happy to be making money, and that the car hasn't gotten any worse.

Show 14: Boston MA

Whoo Hoo!
We don't have a picture of this show. But, we do have this, a record of last year.

The red paint from Paint the Town is still on the floor in Egan's basement, turning a bit pink.

I wish we had taken a picture of the show, cuz it kicked ass! Here's Egans design:

Turnout: 30
Donation at Door: 108, Our cut: 68
Personal Injury Report: The REVERSAL of injury. This show was injuryless in all facets! Opposite! Opposite! Opposite!

Show Description: We played at the Zeitgeist Outpost, a gallery space that Egan rented for the show. Best show yet.

Diagram A, Xiphoid Dementia, Zerfallt, and Bitchneck played some great fucking noise sets. Man! I miss this stuff. We haven't been playing with too many bands so far this tour, and no noise acts up until this point. And ah! I can't say how much I like performing with these people.

The show went great, it felt fresh like the first times we did it, and the audience was marvelous.
What more can you ask for.

Rick from Nonsense Co. also came out to see the show, which added another layer of surprised excellence to an already excellent night.

This show made up for all the earlier hellishness of driving around Boston for three hours trying to find free internet. Ben mentioned this in the Vehicle Report and so anyone who read that can now consider at least that point moot.

Did you see this show? If you did, comment on it, write a review, or ask us some questions here. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Show 13: New Paltz NY

We did not play at the Gilded Otter.
We did play at 60 Main.
: 20ish
Cut of the Door: $42, Merch: 20
Personal Injury Report: Ben's immune system

Show Description: Played at a coffee shop on the main drag of New Paltz. It was kind of strange to begin with, but then got better.

We'd expected or hoped that New Paltz would be kind of like Bisbee AZ, an out of the way small hippieish town, but, not so. The ratio of locals to tourists weighed even more heavily than Bisbee's on the cuff of the slick-back-haired vacationing businessman's sleeve.
The people who saw the show though were great and we had some good conversations afterward.

Again, for the second time! no one noticed the gun when Kate left through the front door and walked straight out into the street. One of these times she's gonna get tackled.

On the other hand, people did notice when we brought the merch box outside to load back into the car. One guy who'd missed the gun spotted it immediately and excitedly informed us that we could grow pot in it if we drilled some holes in the bottom, and (after some wittiness) that if we didn't want to grow pot in it, then we didn't want to make money. So be it. Our fate is sealed. Fuck.

Anyway, with some time to kill, and New Paltz offering so many opportunities to victorize things, we did just that. Here are some of the results:
We have a towering grandiose waterfall, large french fries along with proof that we were competing with Green Day, (they're listed on the white board), and Express Yourself Tattoo, (my favorite), all victorized, all much better for it.

Did you see this show? If you did, comment, write a review, or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Vehicle Report #2

You know how racehorses are named with phrases, things like "Hot Little Number" or "Sail on Sunshine"? I've decided to name the Volvo the same way, it's name is now "My Life Savings". We'll call it "Mary" for short.

Mary is getting around 25 mpg. Her odometer read 111633 Saturday morning. Her check engine light came back on shortly after the last repairs, but has mysteriously turned off. The funny melted plastic smell at start up, the loud exhaust and the strange whining sound when we accelerate are still with us.

The AC/DC adapter we bought for $55 at a RadioShack south of Chicago fell apart and then melted when I put it back together (apparently incorectly). So we are now without means to charge laptops on the road, which means we're singing the choruses of songs and mumbling the verses to pass the time on the road. We looked into a replacement radio, but the slot isn't compatible with most car stereos and all car stereos are over $100 because they play CDs, even though what we (and anyone with an Ipod) needs is just a radio receiver, ideally with a headphone jack input. These would likely sell well, but you can't justify charging more than $25 for them, so nobody is manufacturing them. Our goal is to find a thrift store and buy an ill-fitting cheap stereo and get the adapter/connectors for it from radio shack.

We've slept in Mary 3 times, including last night. Sandwich tally: Kate 4, Ben 3. Jars of salsa consumed: 4. The windsheild wipers stick, the TRACS light comes on and off intermittedly, the AC came on and wouldn't turn off once. We spent hours getting lost in Boston/Cambridge this afternoon. Somehow this city (unlike every other city in the nation) does not have a wealth of cafes with free internet, and when you do find one, there is no parking near it, and then when you drive out of the city a little way you get to these weird roundabouts and crooked-ass streets, and boutiques and fancy cafes with no internet at all. Today has been a pretty hurnsy fucking day. But the show tonight looks like it's going to be GREAT!

Show 12: West Chester PA

This is how we play a 375 seat theatre:

: 20
Monetary Votes of Support: 77
Personal Injury Report: Ben bumped his head.

Show Description: We got there late and left early.
It was raining. We drove in the rain. The rain kept raining. It rained all over us multiple times.

As the picture shows, we played at the back of the theatre. It worked out well. A bunch of people sitting on the floor.

Oddly, when Kate left the theatre at the end of the play and walked into the student union area with the gun still strapped on, no one seemed to notice. Not even the twenty or so sorority girls standing right there like upright stalks of licorice, red dressed and twisty haired. I have nothing more to say about this. I will simply wonder about the number of curling irons employed to create such grandiose wavery.
All in all, the show went well. Ben was sick, so that dampened things a bit, but nonetheless a good time.

Did you see this show? Comment, write a review or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Philosophical Musing #3: No Good Choices

Influences on my thoughts the last couple days: prospecting neighborhoods where we might like to move, reading Douglas Rushkoff's Life Inc. and this zine from Non Fides and seeing Mike Daisey's "The Last Cargo Cult" on Thursday night. These influences come together to create a kind of crisis of decision where it seems like any option I choose will be the wrong one, in some way or another.

Looking to move makes gentrification hard to ignore. "How soon before the rents are going to be more than I can afford?" is an unavoidable question. Being an artist who's looking to move makes "culture first development" or Richard Florida's "Creative Class" inspired city planning even harder to ignore. At this point, Florida (and Jane Jacobs, etc) have explained gentrification in a way that politicians and power elites can understand, which is accelerating the process and turning artists into a resource to be exploited for the eventual benefit of corporations. Chapter 3 of "Life Inc" follows this process to it's logical and dismally shitty end.

Choosing a neighborhood to live and work in is like choosing which stage of this process we'd like to insert ourselves into. For example, our first impression of West Philly is that its already lost, South Philly is on it's way and there must be other places a few artist pioneers are begining to explore (i hear rumors). We didn't look closely at neighborhoods in Baltimore yet, but did talk to artists and do some research and that whole city seems to be going through hyper-gentrification so I'm almost certain we'll have these same sorts of choices there.

What these choices mean as far as our future actions are concerned, is we will be trying to: 1. help reverse gentrification in someplace like West Philly. 2. help contain it in someplace like South Philly, or 3. help not start it somewhere else. This is all assuming we can overcome our role as midwesterners experimenting with east coast city life, which is no small part of the problem itself.

Each option invovles joining a fight, often a fight allied primarily with other artists, defending our interest and places as artists. The Non Fides zine makes these alliegences look both enormously unattractive and tactically fucked.

I don't agree entirely with all the claims Non Fides is making, I think they overlook people like us who are artists only as a means to a political end. The zine's design, word choices, etc are creative decisions no less than our script and acting. I could argue that our play proliferates revolutionary ideas and discussions as much as Non Fides, and enacts revolutionary practices in a more direct and personal (but less widespread) manner than their downloadable pdf's do.

On the other hand, their statements are an accurate description of the vast majority of artists in our present society. Any of the above described positions relative to gentrification require us to ally with these artists, which makes me not want to move to any of these neighborhoods, because we'll join a class of artists who, to paraphrase the zine, "do our creativity for us". The delineation of some activities as "art" helps break people up into little isolated peices that interact primarily through monetary exchange, allowing capitalist mediators to get in there and skim off the top.

Which brings us to Mike Daisey's peice, which is really wonderful, even better than his peice on the patriot act we saw before. It's basically all about money. One part of the show is he gives 100% of his cut of the ticket sales to the audience as they enter the space, then, at the end of the show, after talking about money for almost two hours, he asks us to give it back. It was very exciting and surprising to see him basically conducting our same experiment on a much larger scale with much more wide array of audiences, and somewhat more dramatically as well. I really wanna see the results!

The thing about this experiment (both ours and his) is it's not really that experimental. There are tons of punk shows going on every night accross this country and around the world that are based on trust and voluntary donations. The only thing we're doing differently is focusing on it and publically tracking it. Daisey focuses on it even more.

Which rasies two questions: 1. by publically focusing on this are we (like Jane Jacobs and gentrification) making it easier for capitalists to understand and thus recouperate? Or, does allowing the consumer to decide the value of our work themselves escape any possibility of recouperation?

If the value of a dollar is determined by consumers and tied to trust, fairness and a human connection to the producer, rather than tied to gold or floating on the supply and demand of the market, that seems to radically change the nature of money. This new nature might not be so incompatible with "custom" of communal societies. In fact, it might acheive the best of both worlds, or it might destroy money entirely.

The second question is: Where does that leave me in my search for a new home? If I'm going to chase after some place where gentrification/colonialization isn't happening, I'll end up in Tanna. It's really a trap, and of course, compromise is the only answer, but "which compromise?" only makes the choice more nuanced and harder to make.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Show 11, Baltimore MD

Turnout: 7
Monetary votes of Support: 45 (we think)
Personal Injury Reports: Our outlook

Show Description: Hurns. Great space. Seven people. Within five minutes of stepping in the door Ric, who set the show up, started talking about how there was competition with the music festival High Zero.
As you can see here from the poster, it's begging you to touch it, or at least Nick Becker, who that is, is, but the line up actually looks pretty interesting and something we may have liked to go to.
I am not going to write much about this show because I was pretty disappointed. Had been looking forward to it and it didn't go well, in turnout and performance, and it didn't have to be that way. Or maybe I'm wrong, maybe it did, and there's no getting around that.

On a better note, to start out the show, Ryan Harvey, who was great, played some political songs that we really enjoyed hearing.

After the show, the discussion in the venue was interesting but also kind of disturbing in this strange way. Later we went with some of the audience and Ryan Harvey to a bar down the street and had some good talk about anarchism, machismo, and activism. That was enjoyable.

Did you see this show? Comment, write a review, or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Show 10: Charlottesville VA

Turnout: 8
Monetary Votes of Support: 30
Personal Injury Report: Unscathed again!

Show Description: So, we pull into the venue's parking lot in C-ville and no one is there except a nice man selling bread and a guy hanging out by the side of the building. Not a good sign.

Luckily things got much better! Ali, one of the contacts for the venue, came and met us, Jacob, the other contact soon followed. Plans were that we perform at there, at the Bridge PAI, a more galleryish venue at 8, but since it seemed no one was going to show for this gallery-on-a-Tuesday-night action, we switched the show to 10:30 at a studio in the McGuffy Arts Center.

Before going, we got the scoop on city life in Philly and Baltimore from Ali at this great tea house called the Tea Bazaar, a warm and ornate place that sometimes has fire spinning and bands play out back. The Tea Bazaar is located right in the middle of an outdoor mall that is basically its opposite, lots of minimalist thin fingered wine bars and slim lined boutiques, also, this strange phenomenon of these black painted wood cutout people in strange and sometimes perverse poses.

Like one where the cutout of a man is holding another cutout of a bust that looks to be the head and shoulders of George Washington (although it could be someone else) up to his face in a glorifying manner. Not that strange, right. Just another man looking up at and in awe of history. But the way that the cutouts are positioned makes it look like the man is holding, presumably, the bust of George Washington up above his head not to glorify it or stand in it's shadow-- but to suck its blood.
Vampire action.
That's right.
In the middle of this white light outdoor shopping and restauranting buy me, buy me mall street.
I was pleased.
There was also another cutout Ben noticed that was about to flash us, it's hands on its wooden shirt ready to yank it up and expose it's grainy chest.

It seems this population of wooden people exist unnoticed in Charlottesville's midst only to mock both its historical figures and it's present consumers. Hm, hm, hm...

Besides that, we also found a 1, 375 dollar, 300 pound piece of petrified wood next to a dumpster that someone apparently couldn't sell. 1,475 dollars if you wanted it shipped. The sale prices were taped to its top.

Ok, I haven't talked about the show yet. Here we go.
The studio we performed in was Cindy Leal's, set up at the last minute.
It was great. Usually a host to dance performances, it was big and open with large windows and a smooth slick floor that Kate slid on accidentally during the show.

Eight people showed up, which is more than expected for the two hours notice. The performance went smoothly and at least half the audience told us they really liked it, which is encouraging considering they were more of a college art crowd as opposed to our more often anarchist/political audiences.

Cindy let us crash in her basement for the night after telling us some hilarious and awesome horror stories about a recent trip to Puerto Rico; stories of the kind where there is a knife and a pot clutched tightly in each hand, waiting, just waiting.

Lastly, I should also mention this pile of trash:

It plays music.
The trash is rigged up with various instruments that bang, rustle, ding and knock on the stuff per programmed 45 minute composition. It was all natural sounding and pretty engrossing.
The artists are David Ellis and Roberto Lang. The project is Bing.

Did you see this show? Comment on it, review it, or ask us questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Economic Report: Week 1

This is the second economic report for Ulysses' Crewmen. The previous report dealt with our initial costs and our intentions. There is also an online spreadsheet with detailed and updated numbers here.

This report (and others following) will deal with the success or failure of our experiment in post-capitalist modes of exchange, our expense report, and lessons we've learned.

Post-capitalist exchange. This is a preliminary explaination, if you're familiar with our economic intentions and methods, skip ahead to "Payment per Person". If not, check this out: Insurgent Theatre has always been an avenue for practice of post-capitalist economics. We started this practice with replacements for the most basic relationship of capitalism: the labor relationship. We went into business with the goal of returning the full product of labor to the laborers. This is kind of like trying to fit a round peg (comunist labor relation) into a square hole (capitalist economy). The idea was not to succeed, but to learn from the attempt. Rather than tossing around economic theories in some kind of classroom, we decided to focus on economic practice in the real world.

This focus remains today, but on this tour we're applying the method to not just the labor relation, but also the exchange relation. We haven't coined a term for our exchange relation yet, but it's based on direct consumer empowerment, voluntary payment, and personal connection. How it works is simple: anyone can see our shows for free, but those who value them and want to see us succeed, come back, or create more shows will pay for them. This post on Insurgent Theory (my other blog) describes this situation and mode of exchange in more detail.

As that post states, one of the goals of the Ulysses' Crewmen tour is to demonstrate whether or not the post-capitalist mindset is present in American society enough to sustain our endeavors. Our goal is not to change the political economy by changing people's minds, but to provide evidence suggesting the degree that people's minds are already ready for a new political economy, thus encouraging more to practice this economy, developing it and spreading it further through real-world practice rather than political application of academically derived theories.

Payment per Person. One key measure of our experiment's success is 'payment per person' (or p/P) this is the average donation per audience member. Comparing this number to typical ticket prices is misleading, because mandatory ticket prices might reduce audience attendance. For example, if our approach brings in 100 people paying an average of $5, it is more sustainable than requiring $10 and only getting 40 people willing to pay. This of course gets all kinds of muddled up when you think about consumer mentalities and the fact that (in the worst example) bourgie theatre people tend to think that if a show isn't demanding $40 it's probably not worth their time. Again, we're a round peg, and they are the squarest of holes.

In addition, our audience numbers include people who A. set up the show for us, B. feed us (and we've had some great meals from very generous people) C. let us crash on their couch. I'm assuming these bartered exchanges often replace money in the hat, which makes sense, because they are more valuable.

This week! We've performed the show 6 times since leaving Milwaukee for a total of roughly 100-120 people. These shows earned $420.50 total. Which is an average of around $3.80 p/P. This number is not an accurate representation of the average voluntary payment per audience member, because not all the shows functioned under our experimental economic system. Mess Hall was free and Rhino's was admission-based, so taking out those audiences (50 people) and that money ($67) will give us the average p/P for shows based on voluntary requested payments for our first week: Roughly $5.89 p/P.

TOTAL: If we add in the numbers from our shows in Milwaukee it looks like this: People: about 140. Payment: $556.50. p/P: $3.98 This means the shows in our "home town" did worse than on the road, which is initially curious. If direct-connection and desire to succeed is what encourages payment, then you'd think the community we've been working in for 6 years would be the most supportive. In actuality, the community norms (in Milwaukee and elsewhere) is to support touring acts. Local bands often pass on 100% of the door to touring acts, so being local gives the impression that you don't need money the way touring groups do, and discourages payment. Also, we're in the process of moving out of Milwaukee, which means our relationship to that community is sort of strained right now.

Looking more closely at these contributions, as we unravel the cash at the end of the night, we often find $10 and $20 bills, and sets of fives and ones folded together, which seems to indicate that our audiences are often composed of a few people who contribute significantly, and many who give little or nothing. If payment correlates to presence of post-capitalist mindset, it seems like there are a few people in each place who've got it, and many who don't. Either that or some people who've got it, just don't much like the particular thing we're doing (which is entirely possible. We are doing weirdly intense oppressive confrontational theatre here).

Expense Report: This week! Discounting the initial investment, costs and donations, our "operating expenses" have been $140 and normal earnings have been about $550. Our stock of merch, and materials hasn't been depleted much. Our initial $134 of bulk foods from the Coop is mostly still intact. We've been eating restaurant food out of pocket more than we should be, and we've also been fed really well by some of our hosts, which is GREAT! So it's pretty accurate to say that we earned $410 doing our first 9 shows. That's an average rate of $45 a show.

Once we put the initial costs and donations back in, we're up $800 ($1100 in donations helps). Once we put the costs of the car in, we're $4200 in the hole. At $45 a show we're going to have to do the play 94 more times before we'll have a positive balance sheet. That's a lot of shows.

Summary: I'm glad we're not losing money on the road. We're obviously not doing this for money, but if what we're doing isn't sustaining itself economically, then there's no way we'll be able to keep doing it for long. The goal of our experiment is not to prove what we're doing is lucrative, only to demonstrate if it's at all possible without quickly going broke.

The main hurns here is the car. We're hoping to get the check engine light off permanantly at a mechanic in Charlottesville tomorrow, and hoping to not pay too much for it. We've got to either improve our earnings or get serious about soliciting donations to cover some of these costs.

Lessons! The main economic lesson we've learned so far is to plan ahead much more regarding the vehicle. By letting the car arrangements wait until the last minute, we committed to a vehicle that may end up costing much much more than we'd planned for. The multitude of uncertainties surrounding repairs and costs is also very stressful and frustrating.

Show 9: Athens OH

Turnout: 10
Monetary Votes of Support: 33
Personal Injury Report: Gun broke again. The strap. We'll fix it.

Show Description: Wonder upon wonders, we have now performed on a porch. A little tight but workable. Later on, a gigantic spider and a small but hairy monster graced its presence as well.

At the Ecohouse we performed for a college crowd that was on their pretty much last weekend of summer vacation. Athens seems like a more developed version of Bloomington IN, more chain stores, popped collar jock types and restaurants like Chipotle, (which has always been a wonder to me, since the craze over chipotle peppers with restaurants putting them in everything from asparagus glazes to white chocolate cheesecakes seemed to have ended at least four years ago). There are still some good spots to Athens, including this Ecohouse we're staying in and the easy access trails and woods.

After the show we got to see a band called Whale Zombie in a basement with lots of crazy dancing and a cat that was a pro at catching cicadas.

Did you see this show? If you did, comment on it, write a review, or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Show 8: Colombus, OH

Turnout: 20
Monetary Votes of Support: 49.50
Personal Injury Report: Unscathed !

Show Description: We had been looking forward to doing the show at Spore and it turned out just as well as we had hoped. The crowd was great, the show went well, there were no injuries, good discussions, and the house (see picture) we stayed at afterwards, a communal living space, had front and backyard gardens, a bee hive, gray water sinks and a kitchen packed with bulk goods. The house itself and the people staying there were the most interesting things about being in Columbus. It's good to see places like that. And I would like live in one in the near future, so seeing this one in action was useful for getting a clearer picture of the areas where communal living does well and challenges it faces and how to approach them.

Kate also learned how to do this double pushup acrobatic move after the show.

Did you see this show? If you did, comment on it, write a review, or ask us some questions if you've got 'em. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Vehilce Report

This is our tour chariot. A 1998 Volvo v70. It's parked outside a WalMart cuz we heard they allow overnight parking, and so we slept there and used their bathrooms on the way from Bloomington to Colombus. Mess Hall would call that surfing on surplus.

For the rest of the tour we'll be doing roughly weekly vehicle reports, with the vital statistics, load, and condition of this vehicle. We need to name it. Right now "motherfucking money sucker" is all that comes to mind, so maybe someone who is less angry at the thing could suggest a better name.

We departed with about 110200 miles on the odometer. It's supposed to get 20 mpg city and 28 highway. We're doing pretty well.

580 miles 21.876 gallons since Chicago (where we first filled up) means we're getting about 26.5 mpg.

We went to Joes for a full tune up, replaced the brakes, shoes, rotors, caliphers, battery, belts, etc before we left. They warned us the catalytic converter was fucked, so we got up early to spend a day in Urbana to getting that fixed. Now the "check engine" light is back on and it's noisy and smelly, but mechanics are closed for the three day weekend. Here's hoping we make it to Charleston on Tuesday.

We hastily packed Monday night while cleaning out our apartment for the new tenants. Everything was haphazardly thrown in there. Then delays at the DMV (my stupid fault) had us rushing to Chicago for our first show before we could re-pack it. It wasn't until we stopped in a suburban wallgreens parking lot Tuesday afternoon that we managed to rearrange everything and put the plates on. The car is currently holding the set, merch, our bedding and clothes, a 3 gallon water jug, silk screening supplies, paper, a cooler, a traveling library (suitcase full of books), extra penut butter and jelly, and bulk groceries from the co-op.

A quick note about these bulk groceries: the organic quick oats are amazing. Best oatmeal i've ever had. The almonds and the dates are loose packed in cardboard boxes, which means they are destined to spill all over the place at some point. The cases of soup and salsa are stuffed in the spare tire compartment. The glovebox is our kitchen, it's stuffed with utensils and napkins.

We plan to make the following modifications/additions to the chariot in the coming weeks:
  1. a dashboard oven. We look forward to cooking soup and heating up leftovers by the power of the sun!
  2. a solar generator. It is sometimes possible to get used low wattage solar panels on craigslist for $20. Plug one into a battery, add a volt meter, a DC output and a AC/DC adapter and we'll be boiling water, making coffee, charging up laptops and printing new programs/merch on the road, also by the power of the sun!
  3. a stereo. I can't figger out what is wrong with this one. All it will do is tell us that it's "OFF" when it's off, and take a CD in but not play it (or the radio) when it's "on". It also only half-ejects the CD sticking out just enough of it for you to see but not be able to get a hold of. So the fucking thing is basically taunting us. We've been listening to music on laptops plugged in through an adapter to the cigarette lighter, which means A. we're missing the low-end cuz laptop speakers are crappy. B. the laptops are fueled by the power of the car battery, which is charged by the power of the car, which is fueled by the power of gasoline, which is fueled by the power of the US military industrial complex's ultaviolent adventures overseas. Hurns!!! We gotta go biodiesel, or tour on bikes next time. I fucking hate owning a car.

Philosophical Musing #2: Identity Politics

Yesterday we encountered some contrasting examples that have got me thinking about Monika and my ongoing identity politics debate. To sum this debate up: I think identity politics are problematic for a variety of reasons, including: 1. on an individual level, structuring ones identity along the lines of gender, sex, orientation and/or race buys into these catagorizations, which are imposed by nature or society (or some of both). I'd prefer to see people structuring their identity around personal agency, the things they control and choose. 2. on a community level, identity politics' focus on advancing one group undermines unified struggle against the institutions that oppress us all (in various different ways). This advancement can develop to such a level that, for example, some consider gang warfare, ghettoization and purchase of flashy baubles and luxury cars "keeping it real" for black culture.

Monika retorts that her people need to be protected and garaunteed a place in the coming revolutionary war, and that my ability to structure my identity around personal agency is an example of cisgendered white male priviledge. This debate sits in a sort of stalemate (a fairly healthy one, in my opinion) we maintain our basic positions, but have each surrendered some ground, and remain wary of the others' concerns, predictions and warnings.

Yesterday, in Bloomington, I found fodder for both sides while spending part of the afternoon at a place called Rachel's Cafe. This cafe is one of those places you'll only find in a vibrant community. It's big. It's open. There's lots of stuff in it, a piano, unlocked cabinets in the bathroom, couches, all kinds of loose valuables. The owners must be very trusting, and the community must be very friendly and respectful to not steal, vandalize, neglect or otherwise abuse this space. This makes me like Bloomington. How this relates to identity politics is that the owner of this place is a 6 foot tall transwoman. Remember, this is Bloomington Indiana, the middle of America's bible belt. Fundamentalist Christian propaganda litters the highways around here. If enclaves exist to house places like Rachel's Cafe in this region, that seems to indicate that the defense and acceptance of Monika's people has already been quite successful.

Unfortunately, while at Rachels, Kate and I read a short zine we picked up at Boxcar Books called Why She Doesn't Give a Fuck About Your Insurrection which pretty clearly indicates that the ultra-radical left is in some places still a white male dominated hellhole. The zine was written in New York about the radical scene's recent adoration of insurrectionary anarchism as expressed by The Invisible Committee in The Call and The Coming Insurrection. These texts seem highly influential with many of the most radical folks I've met, and have been central in Monika and my debates. I don't agree with everything insurrectionaries have to say, but I find many of their critiques compelling, and the community where I've encountered these ideas strikes me as being positive and decent. (I realize the CCC has a reputation for being elitist, but I've attended a number of their umbrella meetings and think they mostly don't deserve this reputation.)

Thing is, this zine contains a pretty scathing critique of the NYC radical scene. There (unless the zine is all lies) women are routinely sexualized and men use the tactics of "invisibility" and "anonymity" to escape responsibility for committing sexual assault. This is obviously fucked. But, when the author of the zine calls them out on it, other men fault her feminism for failing to "focus on the totality". This is even more fucked. This kind of bullshit made 60's radicalism into another avenue for priviledged stright white males to have adventures, get laid, and otherwise dominate others. It's completely fucked. I don't mean to paint all insurrectionary communists with this brush (i haven't seen in among them myself) but I hear that New York often sets trends which eventually spread to the rest of the country. If this is happening, the radical left hasn't learned this basic lesson yet, and Monika is absolutely right: her people need to be defended.

Show 7: Bloomington, IN

Turnout: variable
Door money: $55
Personal injuries report: 1. The gun spilled its guts (easily repaired). 2. Over-tight knots made Ben's right arm feel all tingly and gross. 3. Kate thought it looked really good when she smashed Ben in the head with the gun again, and the audience laughed. 4. Our pride took a pretty serious hit.

This was a really strange show, and we've got a couple hours to get to Colombus, so get ready for a long story. We played an all ages music club in the middle of Bloomington. First, the good news: Bloomington is a decent city to spend an afternoon in. Almost like Madison ten years ago. Boxcar books is a great bookstore (more bookstore than infoshop, though), Runcible spoon has amazing veggie burgers, the "people's park" is an active and open space populated by burnouts and weirdos (as it should be) and Rachel's Cafe is a kind of astonishing place to find in the middle of the bible belt.

Rhino's is also a really great space, an all ages club with a great sound system, community support and an awesome staff. But, this is where things start getting a little weird about this show. When we set up the show it somehow didn't occur to me that "all ages music club" meant "almost nothing but highschool". Cliques, drama and budding adolescence were here in full force. A group of metal heads and goths too poor to pay admission chased each other around the parking lot while suburban teenage girls squealed at the bands inside. The first of these bands, an Indie-rock group called My Hidden Track were rockstars, and I mean that in the worst possible way. About 40 kids sang and clapped along (on the singer's orders) to their songs which seemed predominantly about how every "bitch" they'd met "didn't matter". Their huge elaborate merch table and amp covers featured banners with pictures of a young blonde who will surely have an similar immature rant-song written about her one day. When they finished playing the place cleared out. We set up and tried to convince people that this isn't your grandma's theatre, mostly only the goth kids were buying it, but they didn't have money for admission, and had a reputation for being disruptive and shitty. We convinced the staff to let them in for free anyway and started the show.

So we started out with a little more than a dozen in the audience; the staff, the goths, the last band and a few of their fans. As we started the show I appreciated the reversal we'd staged. Poor kids who normally hang out in the parking lot were inside the space, while the trendy rich kids hung out outside. We started the play and the kids initially laughed at the violence, which we sort of expected. We are all desensitized, but kids with slipknot t-shirts are even more used to violent images as pure fun entertainment. By the time I was tied to the chair they'd gotten quiet. I'm speculating, but I like to think that the violence we presented was very different than what they were used to, which made it sobering rather than titilating. Throughout the play we don't focus on the violent act itself, but on what follows the violence. The pistol whipping is obviously fake and is undermined by the spoken stage directions, but the characters' reactions are complicated and true in a way that they aren't in the movies. Kate's character is horrified by her own actions throughout.

Unfortunately, shortly after the blindfold came off one of these kids left to answer a phone call and came back, herded the rest up and left us with about 5 audience members, mostly staff. We got the impression it was a parent on the phone and they left cuz they had to.

Divided Highway played last, to a mostly empty room. I feel bad that we apparently chased away their potential audience, especially since i enjoyed their music much more than the first band's. It was pop punk, still with break-up songs, but much more introspective and honest. Their musicianship was a little rough, but more genuine, which i appreciate, a little rawness puts the punk in pop-punk.

Overall i'm really happy with how the show turned out, unexpected things make for interesting experiences, and i feel like we showed the few people who watched us something they haven't seen anywhere else.

We left the show and started our drive to Colombus, spending our first night sleeping in the volvo (see pic) which was decent.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Show 6: Urbana Champaign IMC, Urbana IL

: 10
Monetary Votes of Support: 68 in donations, 12 merch
Personal Injury Report: Nothing on us. Though, after the show the gun needed stitches and the delegate pants light repairative surgery.

Show description: This is the third time we've done a show at the IMC, all of them with small audiences who have lots to say. Discussion is always good there. Afterward, at Mark Enslin's house we got to tell stories of doing Lucky and Pozzo which was enjoyable.

Oh, and Kate also victorized these plants:

If you've seen this show, write a review, comment or ask us some questions. We'd like to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.