Presentation of Self

One of the most striking aspects of living in Scandinavia is to realize that the level of paranoia one is used to, as an American, is no longer relevant. I experience this dislocation daily. I can observe myself in social interactions, with strangers, preparing for the defensive self protective reflex to be called forth. I think it's hard to grasp the degree of paranoia and anger in US culture. I think part of this is both reflected in and created by the culture industry. There is almost not a single US TV show in which the narrative does arrive at a moment in which someone apologizes...and this apology then refused. "I'm sorry" is usually, almost always, met with "that doesn't cut … [Read more...]

Odds & Ends

Odds & ends. When I was growing up, in Hollywood, in the sixties, and as a young boy in the late fifties, it was a given that people came *to* Hollywood (and by extension, LA) and that it was a city of domestic immigrants. They came to be in 'movies'. The general career arc was from aspiring young actress and actor, to second career that usually began around the age of thirty -- maybe a bit more for the men. That second career for woman was (this became the joke) beauty school, massage school, or they got into real estate. For men it was move to places like Lake Havasu or often not even that far....just the further ends of the San Fernando Valley, to start up a small business in sporting … [Read more...]

Consuming Culture, Consuming Education

Several related topics rattling around in my head today. Let me start with a nice piece by my friend Rita Valencia....http://www.timesquotidian.com/2012/06/07/go-ask-alice-i-think-shell-know/ I've never liked nor trusted Sellars. The reason has to do with this brie & chablis network of rich people culture he rambles through, with his cuteness and faux enfant terrible persona. The truth is, what Sellars does (and he's hardly alone) is to create the right variety of kitsch, tricked out in high culture drag, and calibrates it perfectly so as not to offend anyone or actually say anything. I am immediately reminded of Marina Abramovich, who also has built a franchise on emtpy posturing...with … [Read more...]

Theatrical Forensics

I lived in Poland for almost eight years, so thats possibly why I find this such an intelligent look at the space and architecture of "oldtown" Warsaw: http://nastybrutalistandshort.blogspot.no/2011/07/reconstruction-time-again.html I also link this because its germane to several other topics I intend to discuss. All of them related, in the broad sense, to theatre and writing. I realized today, after adding several links to the blog roll at the right, that I dont have a single blog pertaining to theatre linked over there. I can't say for sure this isn't just my negligence, but I have a suspicion whatever good ones are out there, are not in English. But I digress... Something stopped … [Read more...]

Dialogue #1: Death of a Salesman

Various discussions with other writers and artists, as well as critics and academics on various topics relating to culture. Some were my idea, some not. JS Namna Norway June 2012 A conversation between a theatre professor at a California community college in the Bay Area and and playwright John Steppling regarding Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. John Steppling: Well, first off, lets focus on the Miller play. I don’t think it’s an accident that this play has retained an extraordinary popularity. I can think of no American play more performed at a collegiate and even high school level.  Something in that fact suggests there is nothing that really disrupts the general public’s … [Read more...]

intimidation, harassment, snitch jacketing, imprisonment, and murder — ‘your’ FBI.

This story contains a few interesting elements, besides the obvious fact that the US government has continued, through the FBI and now Homeland Security, to spy on and terrorize US dissidents-- or perceived dissidents. What is so painfully obvious though, is just how cretinous these folks are. http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/fbi-domestic-terrorism-training-anarchists-eco/6199/ The final sentence is really to the point. The FBI, and state authority, CREATE threats. They do it overtly, but they also do it through the indoctrination of their agents. (A high percentage of Mormons in the FBI is kinda interesting). COINTELPRO (counter intelligence programs) is a piece of history … [Read more...]

Wal Mart culture jamming

My friend Polsby sent me this: http://www.countrycalifornia.com/local-man-arrested-for-merchandise-tampering-at-area-walmart/ So, consider this my small show of support.... … [Read more...]

Authority, Fear, the Performance of Compliance, and Death Valley Days.

Mike Elk tries to ask a question and congressional staffers snatch the mic from him, and a room accepts this Orwellian police state drama because, well, it IS an orwellian police state. People are trained to take the side of authority. The training is very effective. Elk was trying to ask a question of Honeywell CEO David Cote. http://usw7-669.com/story/honeywell-continuing-deceive-workers-and-community Obama is scheduled to give a speech today at Honeywell's corporate headquarters in Minneapolis. Honeywell....longtime favorite for the US state dept, and Pentagon. … [Read more...]