Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mike Daisey and Cargo Cults

On rare occasions, I post updates from friends of the Spalding Gray site. With Mike Daisey, I usually leave it up to him as his site, does a great job. But this one is so bizarre, it's a MUST read:
From Mike:
In a few weeks I'm traveling to the remote island of Tanna, a tiny speck at the end of the Vanuatu island chain in the South Pacific. It is the location of the last cargo cult in the world: a religion created by islanders after Americans built temporary bases here during WWII.
The religion revolves around the worship of American power, and the summoning of America's power back to the island through sympathetic magic. Islanders enact rituals where they wear whiteface and create costumes that look like military uniforms, and sit at bamboo tables to "type" on bamboo recreations of typewriters...because they saw American servicemen doing the same, and it made the cargo come, and with it the power of America.
From the Wikipedia entry about the John Frum cult:
"In 1941, followers of John Frum rid themselves of their money in a frenzy of spending, left the missionary churches, schools, villages and plantations, and moved further inland to celebrate traditional custom through feasts, dances and rituals. The movement gained popularity in the 1940s when some 300,000 American troops established themselves in Vanuatu. The islanders were impressed both by the egalitarianism of the Americans and their obvious wealth and power. This led them to conflate perceived benefactors such as Uncle Sam, Santa Claus and John the Baptist into a mythic figure who would empower the island peoples by giving them cargo wealth."
Meticulous simulacra have been created—life-size models of McDonnell Douglas DC-9 aircraft, lovingly shaped from bamboo and straw, totems made to call power back to the island. Control towers of bamboo, whole runways accurate to an inch but made of palm fronds—a universe constructed from faith that they could compel America to return to the island.
Now the religion is over fifty years old, and the islanders' faith has evolved with the times. Today the village elders watch CNN on satellite uplink...and they write new hymns to draw out the power of America, based on the news events they see occurring in that far-off land.
I will be there for a massive celebration, held once a year, when the islanders recreate the stories of America from across the sea. They will re-enact the events of the past year—I hope I will see Obama be inaugurated a second time—in great detail.
Thanks Mike. Check out the links. Totally in the belive it or not category!!!

Stories Left to Tell in Boston

Playbill - Stories Left to Tell (Spalding Gray) in Boston -
Cast announced!
Josh Lefkowitz, Ain Gordon, Hazelle Goodman and David Cale. Guest performers feature Claire Messud, Buddy Cianci and Christopher Lydon.

someone please go and send me a review. I know there was/is someone in Boston who wanted the show there...just can't remember...
for times:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Free Reading...

Spalding Gray's America by William Demastes
Chapter 5 - (strictly copyrighted)
Courtesy Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group19 W. 21st Street, suite 201,New York, NY 10010
is now available for reading both in Updates and Books at

Also remember that :

Thanks to permisson from Kathleen Russo (Estate of Spalding Gray) and in cooperation with and John Robinson, I am extremely pleased that we will be posting the complete text of In Search of the Monkey Girl, photos by Randal Levenson, The book is quite rare ($50 minimum)and if you purchase it, please use our affiliates.
See (all copyrights are maintained by Estate of Spalding Gray and Randal Levenson)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

From our good friend James Braly

From our good friend of the Spalding Gray website, monologist James Braly:
As an American who believes deeply in the Founding Fathers' credo of enlightened self-interest, there's only one thing more important to me than my former classmate Barack Obama's upcoming inaugural address: my new monologue.It's called The Monthly Nut, and if you've ever hated your job and loathed your life, yet loved your lifestyle though you couldn't begin to afford it, this show is for you.Directed by maestro Hal Brooks, the first workshop performance will be presented by The Deep End Productions on Saturday, February 28. More at night (Tuesday), I'll be performing a short section of The Monthly Nut as part of the QUARTERLY IDEASMYTH READING-PA-LOOZA:Tuesday, January 13th, 2009, 7pmTrattoria Dopo Teatro 125 West 44th Street (btw Bway & 6th Ave)Performers/readers include:James Braly (Off Broadway: Life in a Marital Institution, 2x Moth GrandSlam winner)Andy Christie (The Liar Show Producer, Moth GrandSlam winner)Cindy Kaplan (author of Leave the Building Quickly and Why I'm like This)Joel Solomon (head writer MTV Works)NO COVER-NO MINIMUM-DOWNSTAIRS PRIVATE DINING ROOM Please come at 7pm to place your orders; Readings start at 7:30pmwww.dopoteatro.comThe next night, I'll be appearing in the “REAL TALES OF COLLEGE” storytelling show. All I can promise you about this event is that it will feature the man who graduated from Columbia University in the mid-1980s, who has two beautiful children of the same sex, aged 10 and 7 years old, who wrote a critically-acclaimed autobiographical story, but who is not going to be the 44th president of the United States:Wednesday, January 14th - 7:30 PM SHARPOchi's Lounge/Comix353 14th St. between 8th and 9th AvenuesHosted by Adam Wade and Jake Goldman
Finally, in this season of change through elections, I'd like to draw your attention to another candidate worthy of your vote: Victoria Rowan, host of READING-PA-LOOZA, founder of IDEASMYTH, and writing workshop leader extraordinaire, who has been nominated for a Daily Candy Sweetest Thing Award.My writing workshop leader for five years, Victoria helped me (and many other writers I know) significantly improve their craft. In my case, her work helped me land a book deal-perhaps the most reliable litmus of a writing teacher, and certainly a clear measure of her ability to attract serious students. She's the real deal. And as Al Franken (and Norm Coleman) just learned in Minnesota, every vote really does count.Please visit
Stay tuned for more on The Monthly Nut. In the meantime, just keep asking yourself, How much misery does it take to be happy?Thanks for reading,James***Now Booking:Life in Marital Institution: 20 Years of Monogamy in One Terrifying Hour“Never less than excellent.” (The New York Times)“Gaspingly funny.” (Variety) “Four stars.” (TimeOut New York)“One of the best feats of one-person-show-ship I've seen."(Sarah Jones, Tony Award-winner, Bridge & Tunnel)“Excellent.” (The Times, London)"A masterpiece of storytelling." (The List, Edinburgh)Booking info:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Perfect Moments

When any person leaves this earth
We're sad, engulfed in pain
The worst is when depression wins
Can't wrap around our brain
Our Spalding left to find his peace
To quiet his own mind
We're sad he's gone but glad he leftHis legacy behind
His wondrous words his monologuesTurn back those dreary clocks
His talent lives and he is safe
That monster's in a box
We miss you Spalding Gray
5 years gone
- Barbara Murphy, site poet laureate

Monday, January 5, 2009

Petition to bring back 'Trying Times'

Dear John Boland (NOT from PBS),
Thank you for using our free petition hosting service.Your "Bring Back 'Trying Times' on PBS" petition is now live online at, and it will be considered for linking from the directory pages.The main URL for your petition is:
Now that your petition is actually live here on the web, we recommendyou put some energy into spreading the word. The concept is simple: themore people you can send to read your petition, the more people willsign it and thus contribute to your cause.In addition to promoting your petition on your own web pages, ideas forencouraging visitors to your petition include e-mailing a petitionannouncement to your friends and sympathizers, submiting your petitionpage to major search engines, promoting the petition in appropriate newsgroups and online forums, and getting as many good incoming linksconnected to your petition as possible. Consider contacting thetraditional media press as well, locally or nationally, as appropriate.
Please contribute $2.00 (or more) and help maintain PetitionOnline.comas a premiere free speech forum. Contributing is quick, easy, private,and secure, directly to or if you prefer, via the Honor System, online at: -- * --Note, however, that in helping to promote this petition you areexpressly prohibited from sending unsolicited bulk mail messages ("junkmail" or "spam"). This includes, but is not limited to, bulk-mailing ofcommercial advertising, information announcements, and political tracts.Such material may only be sent to those who have specifically requestedit.To help support your primary petition promotion efforts, each person whosigns your petition will automatically receive an email message from usto confirm their signature, which also suggests that they take a momentto tell a few friends about your petition.If your petition is a good one, with support among visitors, lots oftraffic will lead to lots of signatures. And that's the whole point!Good luck and best wishes,Kevin MatthewsPetitionOnline.comby Artifice, Inc. "This is the marketplace of free ideas" (tm) > A new petition has been submitted by John Boland (NOT from PBS),
The petition title is: Bring Back 'Trying Times' on PBS.> > The petition URL is:
The petition is directed to: John Boland, Chief Programmer, PBS> > The start date is: ..> > The end date is: ..>> The petition statement says:We,the undersigned,ask that PBS bring back the show Trying Times that ran in 1986 and 1987. There were 12 episodes. The main reason to bring this series back is that it was exceptional. It was also the early work of many actors now well known. The list is at These include :
Rosanna Arquette, Candice Bergen,Teri Garr,Spalding Gray,Steven Wright,Stockard Channing,Carrie Fisher,Sally Kirkland,Robert Klein,Jean Stapleton,Jessica Harper,Tim Matheson,Ted Stidder,John Stockwell,Lyman Ward,Griffin Dunne,Corey Feldman,Sheila McCarthy,Judge Reinhold,Peter Scolari,Louie Anderson,Catherine Bach,Hagan Beggs,Hope Lange,Ketty Lester,Gail Boggs,Anne De Salvo,Katherine McGrath,Linda Purl,Danitra Vance,Dustin Berkovitz,David Byrne,Bruno Gerussi,Betty Phillips,Ruth Springford,Richard Dimitri,Alejandra Gollas,Jerry Houser,Marcell Rosenblatt,Al Ruscio,Melanie Jones,Catherine O'Hara,Keanu Reeves,Robert Ridgely,Ron Silver,Eric Ayala,Buck Henry,Kurt Knudson,Jon Polito,Tracy Brooks Swope,Anne Ramsey,Jeff Schultz,Doug Tuck,Laura White,George Belanger,Kalimba,Max Perlich,Ken Smith,Jay Brazeau,Norman Browning,Jackson Davies,John Steadman,Álvaro Carcaño,Ellen Gollas,Dondee Spencer,Alex Bruhanski,Brandon Call,David Alden,Gabriela Goldsmith,Ron Wertheim,Janne Mortil,Jaqueline Fernandez,John Sabol,Irina Areu,Jeff Daniels,Julie Hagerty,Swoosie Kurtz,Roger Cudney,Geena Davis,Nancy Lenehan,Peter Riegert
I have had a number of people ask me if I have particular episodes. It was never released on VHS or DVD. Releasing the complete set of episodes on DVD and PBS selling them is another viable alternative.
We specifically address this request to John Boland, Chief Content Officer, PBS. The fact that this request was started by another John Boland is purely coincidental. My interest in particular is the episode 'Bedtime Story' written by Spalding Gray and Renee Shafransky. As with all the episodes, the writing is hilarious and the episode outstanding.
Respectfully written by John Boland Webmaster for the Estate of Spalding Gray