“I’ll be your substitute teacher for the remainder of the concert,” preened 57-year-old David Lee Roth last night, midway through Van Halen’s wry, spry two-hour gig at a sold-out Verizon Center. He was freestyling a new spoken interlude, as is his wont, to a resistence-is-futile Van Halen classic that already featured plenty of chitchat, “Hot for Teacher.”
Substitute? Puh-shaw! He’s the real guy!
This wasn’t Van Halen’s first tour with their cocksure original singer since they kicked him out of the band in the mid-eighties. Roth and the trio of Van Halens — guitar god Eddie, drummer Alex, and 21-year-old spawn-of-Eddie Wolfgang on the bass — made up and made a killing on the road in ‘07 and ‘08.
This time, Eddie kept his shirt on and instead flogged A Different Kind of Truth, the group’s first new album together since 1984 in 1984, approximately 125 Earth-years ago. Performed at detail-eradicating volume, the handful of new songs sounded enough like the circa 1978-84 warhorses dominating the set that no one seemed to notice. Roth’s attempt to get the mostly age-40-and-up crowd to sing “Tah! Too! Tah! Too!” during a new jam entitled, uh, “Tattoo” flamed out a lot faster than his post-Halen solo career did, though. Continue reading →
Wait, wait, I'm still apologizing! Don't start the music yet!
Mike Daisey appeared for a one-hour public Q & A session last night at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, the place where his controversial monologue The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs was born — or, to use his creepy syntax, “birthed.”
It was an interesting hour highlighted by a fascinating exchange near the end, which I reproduce in my Washington City Paper Arts Desk post about it.
One thing I brood about when I read a really great memoir, like Keith Richards’ Life, just for example, is that I have a poor memory. There is no good reason why this should be. I’m only in my midthirties and I’ve never touched hard drugs in my life, so the fact that 70-year-old Keef can write in vivid detail about his postwar boyhood after a lifetime of committed drug abuse makes me feel like I just got dealt a bad hand. (Keef takes pains throughout his book to attribute his startling longevity to the fact that all the drugs he did were of the finest quality; Merck medical-grade cocaine and so on. I have no idea if that’s a real thing or not, but it’s in his book.) Continue reading →
More than 3,000 words later, I’m still sorting through my thoughts about what Mike Daisey has done. While I think it’s unfair to compare him to Jayson Blair or Stephen Glass, as many have, I’m still puzzled by my inclination to defend a guy who endangered the reputation of This American Life by lying to Ira Glass and Brian Reed to prevent them from fact-checking his story as thoroughly as they should have.
And yeah, as someone who has been a part of Daisey’s theater audience for years, I guess I could say he lied to me, too. I know a lot of people who paid to see (full disclosure: I didn’t pay for my ticket) The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs feel indignant on those grounds.
I don’t go to the theater for news, any more than I go to a dentist when I need my car serviced. Even when something is billed as “a work of nonfiction,” as this show was, I approach it skeptically. And I don’t consider myself an unusually cynical person. I consider myself to be the kind of person who, after seeing a show or a film or reading something that moves me and deepens my interest in an issue, then consults other sources. Continue reading →
The guy who looks like Mr. Clean is Ken, a pal I’ve been working out with for years. He surprised me last night by setting up his camera at our semi-regular Tuesday-night focus mitt session. (We both teach boxing classes on Wednesday nights, so Tuesdays are a good opportunity for us to get some rounds in.)
Everyone likes to work mitts: You’re developing your speed, stamina, balance and punching power all at the same time, and you feel like you’re accomplishing something. A good partner will keep you motivated by swatting you on the ear or clipping your forehead if you get lazy and let your hands drop, a feature no heavy bag can offer. Continue reading →
Sheldon Best & Manny Brown in Studio's SUCKER PUNCH (Scott Suchman)
I did a follow-up to my Washington City Paper feature about the fight choreography in the Studio Theatre’s current U.S. premiere of Roy Williams’s boxing play Sucker Punch after the play had opened, and after the Washington Post had run their subsequent story on the same topic.
I’ll just go ahead and admit I hadn’t heard of Baruch de Spinoza, or hadn’t remembered his name from Philosophy 101 a million years ago. But David Ives’s Venus in Fur was, I think, the best play I saw in DC last year, so when I had the opportunity to catch Theater J’s current remount of their 2010 production of Ives’s New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza,I fairly jumped at the chance.
Please read my feature in today’s Washington City Paper about the fight direction in Studio Theatre‘s U.S. premiere of Roy Williams‘s Sucker Punch.
It never occurred to me to check into this until I started working on this story, but did you know that there is no Tony Awards category, nor is there, closer to home, a Helen Hayes Awards category for excellence in fight direction? Madness!
If you live in or will be visiting Our Nation’s Capitol on a Wednesday evening, drop me a line and you can come to my boxing class for free just for mentioning this story. You don’t even have to read it, because how would I know? We’re on the honor system here. And only you know if you’re an honorable person or not. Continue reading →