Isaiah Sheffer, R.I.P.

After I moved back into Manhattan proper from Brooklyn (circa ’86 or so), one of my regular  treats was attending the Selected Shorts series at Symphony Space. I liked it so much I even bought season tickets for several years. The only other venues I attended with such regularity were the hiphop clubs downtown, and this was a very different experience. No frisk at the door, for starters. The audience – a packed house at every performance, by the way – was split between  elderly, West Side intellectual types and, for some reason I never figured out, huge packs of teen-aged/twenty-something Indian-American or Pakistani-American women. Go figure.

Isaiah Sheffer would mount the stage and introduce the actors reading the stories; on a good night, he’d be one of the readers. The performances (directed by Sheffer) were almost always fine – beautifuly paced, well-thought-out readings.

Before the doors opened, I would take a leisurely stroll around the block to prepare, wander in to a seat, lean back, and close my eyes (I find watching anything while I’m listening to it quite distracting). Bliss, it was.

The performances so impressed me that I once badgered Mr. Sheffer into having lunch, and I asked him – as one spoken word producer to another – how he managed to get such stunning performances from different actors at each performance. “We rehearse. Sometimes just once, but if possible, two or threee times. I give notes, we talk, we make it work.” It had never occurred to me; in advertising, and radio advertising especially, actors saw the script as they stepped up to the microphone. No rehearsal, discussion or any suchlike. Read it and get out, pal. I couldn’t get rehearsal time for advertising (then or now), but it was enlightening to find out how one of the great pros did it. And, I got to lunch with one of the best.

I began buying cassettes of the performances as soon as Symphony Space started selling them. One of the first had Sheffer reading Roy Blount Jr’s story “Things In The Wrong Hands.”

Take a listen (11 meg download). It’s truly awesome (timing! emphasis!) and wildly funny; “My sister… is glued… to the dry cleaners!”

This audio is up without permission; if you’re the owner and want me to take it down, just let me know. It’s offered here as a reminder of a talented man recently gone. I mean only respect.


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Coming soon: Funky mixes of music and comedy from TJ Miller’s Comedy Central “Mashup” show

TJ Miller (above) generously reached out to me at the end of my recent, seemingly endless surgical rehab and suggested we collab on a series of audio pieces extracted from his latest show on Comedy Central, Mashup.

It’s absolutely, positively the best project I’ve worked on in a very long while. We’re putting  comedy pieces to music, augmented with sound effects and strange production techniques. Very boss.

So far, I’ve worked with material by Nick Vatterot, Sean Flannery, Erin Foley, Chris D’Elia, and Bryan Callen. And that’s only in the first two weeks of feverish production, interrupted briefly by Hurrican Sandy (power out) and a huge nor’easter (lots of snow, wtf?). Barring any further natural disasters, more insightful hilarity will follow, featuring talents like Pete Holmes and Hannibal Buress, among several others.

And all of these brilliant works, I’m happy to say, will be available for free download exclusively  on Beginning very soon. Maybe tomorrow. Go figure.

And to capitalize on the UNDOUBTEDLY MASSIVE FLOW OF TRAFFIC that will certainly follow the postings of these, I hope to be able to offer an attractive t-shirt for young and old, so wax up your PayPal account. Stay tuned.

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We won. Yay. Now how do we keep Obama from selling out the social contract?


Of course I’m delighted Romney lost, and lost so decisively everywhere. And I’m beside myself with joy that most of the Republican shitheads either lost their races (Akin, etc.) or their asses (Rove).


We are now facing a throughly bogus financial crisis worked out as a “compromise” between Boner and Obama a while back. Lots and lots of ignorant media pressure is building about this faux deadline. And there’s no evidence that Obama will not sacrifice Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, ADC, and whatever else the financial establishment wants, just to say he lowered taxes a bit. He blew it on the healthcare issue when he had a better chance, a bigger majority and lots more momentum than he has now.

We’ll have to see if he has the balls to stand up on the issues. Don’t forget – Goldman Sachs was Romney’s biggest campaign contributor; they were Obama’s second-largest campaign contributor. I mean, I’m happy he won, too. But let’s not forget who gave him the bread. It wasn’t us little folks with our pissy $10 donations. He raised almost a billion dollars. By Washington standards, he doesn’t owe us a thing. And Goldman Sachs and the rest of Obama’s heavyweight 1% “supporters” are no different from Sherman Adelson or the Koch Bros – there’s only one thing they care about. They don’t support; they invest.

Several people are wary of Obama’s rush to acommodate the plutocracy.

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The Onion nails the movie theater slaughter

Taking the long view of the latest gun tragedy, The Onion shows they understand exactly what’s going on.

And by the way: Fuck the NRA and all who hide behind it.

“WASHINGTON—Americans across the nation confirmed today that, unfortunately, due to their extreme familiarity with the type of tragedy that occurred in a Colorado movie theater last night, they sadly know exactly how the events following the horrific shooting of 12 people will unfold.

While admitting they “absolutely hate” the fact they have this knowledge, the nation’s 300 million citizens told reporters they can pinpoint down to the hour when the first candlelight vigil will be held, roughly how many people will attend, how many times the county sheriff will address the media in the coming weeks, and when the town-wide memorial service will be held.

Additionally, sources nationwide took no pleasure in confirming that some sort of video recording, written material, or disturbing photographs made by the shooter will be surfacing in about an hour or two.

“I hate to say it, but we as Americans are basically experts at this kind of thing by now…,”

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