(Oh yeah: This whole business is being streamed live here, if you're curious.)
2:23 pm—And here something pretty great happens: Mike Daisey loses his shit, breaking character and pushing himself back from his table, laughing hard for a long spell, his big chest shaking, he's giddy and enthusiastic and looking—for the first time in like I don't know a dozen-and-a-half hours—like he's having a genuinely great time. The thing that caused this reaction was a joke about raping Jonathan Ames' corpse.
I can't really explain it so I won't; Ames—apparently a friend of Daisey's—has been popping up occasionally throughout, but not in any sort of way that would, y'know, foreshadow corpse rape, and when Daisey comes up with the joke—it sounds like on the fly—he just loses it, cracking himself and the audience up, hard. And, in general, this last segment feels punchier and funnier and goofier and more lively than the previous six or seven, maybe—tying back into Daisey's early-in-the-show exploration of the "Duration Based Art Festival" and involving a Tesla coil and Trinitite and David Bowie and a sense of flat-out fun that's felt missing for the past long chunks of hours, like the show suddenly feels like it did at the start, like a ridiculous and huge experiment, something that was audacious and bold but also was supposed to be a thing that was invigorating and fun, but at some point all of that got buried under its own weight and ambition and challenge and now, just now, it's finally crawling out from under that heavy rubble.
I kind of want to end this live blog here, actually; true, there are still three hours left in the show, but I have a good feeling about 'em, based on that last segment; this show has been trying and exhausting and so fucking long that it's great to feel like Daisey's gotten a second wind, maybe, and the show's gonna end with a bang rather than a whimper, and that's pretty impressive, and even though I can't really spoil the ending of the show—can you spoil something that likely won't be performed ever again? or something that I haven't even seen yet?—I do feel like I can save it for those of us that're watching, and especially those of us who've sat through the whole goddamn thing, so maybe that's what I'll do. Also I'm really fucking tired so unless something amazing happens that I just have to write about, or unless I feel like rambling like an idiot about Paul Hogan or some dancers again, this will probably be it. I don't know if I could recommend this experience—as great as it's been sometimes, it's also been a whole lot of art as endurance, and I'm keen to stop enduring it—but there've definitely been parts that've been incredibly fun and imaginative and entirely unique and heartfelt and clever and affecting, so here's hoping that's how this whole giant monstrous thing ends, too. —Erik
1:57 pm—attendance has swelled with a ton of people who either left early-on and just barely came back or just bothered to come at the end. looking for blood. just about all of the seats are full again. i sneer at and loathe these people. THEY HAVEN'T EARNED THIS and they CERTAINLY DID NOT EARN THOSE BEAUTIFUL DANCING LADIES . I earned this. I have stared interminable performance art in the face and i have (almost) won, I have forced it down to the ground like Crocodile Dundee did with that water buffalo in the dirt road in Crocodile Dundee when that water buffalo was blocking the road but Crocodile Dundee calmly got out of the car and held eye contact and made the devil-horns hand gesture at it and won, defeating nature, man vs. nature, I am triumphant like Paul Hogan god i want to sleep —Erik
1:43—Following a detour to the Overlook Hotel, Hunter S. Thompson's skull has now made an appearance. So... uh... take that, Peter Falk's back-up fake eye.
I'm sorry if it feels like I'm just grabbing onto the pop culture parts here. They're the only handles I can find.
Some very attractive women in some very tight skin-colored outfits are currently dancing provocatively onstage AND NOW IN THE AISLES. I have togo—eri
12:59 pm—BREAKING NEWS: Word on the street (Ginny overheard somebody) is it might not have been a fire alarm but was possibly an INTRUDER ALARM, which means maybe some crafty criminal is trying to get PERFORMANCE ART FOR FREE —erik
12:27 pm—Well now we're outside again. By the flagpole in front of the main doors. Because the fire alarm has gone off. It was clearly not planned, and is probably going to take a lot of time out of the planned narrative. Mike is at the flagpole, though, and still talking to us, though not continuing the story that was interrupted inside. He's talking a little about how this reminds him of what it was like being there on 9/11. Plans change. We can never know how much time we have. We make do. He has an amazing ability to keep rolling with it. He's also discussing how everybody thinks things like this are planned in the theater (like Noah did when the guy interrupted Catch the other night), and how or why it would be planned, and maybe this is a good time for a fire alarm, and maybe this is what we need right now—an optimistic outlook. Erik said to me on our way out of the building, "What do you think the chances are that this is just because somebody wanted a break?" I think the chances are pretty good, but it might be even more likely that someone wanted to fuck with the grand scheme, to test this guy's improv abilities, to throw us all off a little and see what happens. This is one of the unique qualities of live theater, and I'm glad this is happening because a little surprise is good now and then. We are restored to our feet, we are on our toes, we are refreshed under the daylight. And now we're heading back in. —Ginny (yes, I'm here, too, I've just been watching silently.)
12:12 pm—because we are in a decrepit old high school with really uncomfortable seats of fucking course there is a fire alarm and everybody follows daisey out to the flagpole like we are all six years old —erik
11:11 am—"Make a wish," Daisey says, and yes, Alison's right, he's now streeeettttcchhhhiing out his words and pauses, it's like live theater but played just slightly in slow-mo. "It is 11:11. That means there are less than seven hours left. We are closing in. Can you feel that?
"You don't have the outline, I guess.
"Do I have the outline?" —Erik
10:42 am—He’s still working on the same narrative, a love story/ghost story of sorts about him and his wife, interspersed with observations about art and culture—like how it’s too bad “Piss Christ” represented art in the culture —that’re no less trenchant for being a little groggy. He’s talking pretty slowly. I’m having a hard time staying awake even though it’s morning and I have coffee. There is an old man in a seat across the aisle whom I think might actually be dead. Now some dudes in drag are dancing to that Edin Collins song. —alison
9:42 am—Rolled back in on a humanitarian bagel mission about an hour ago. There’s a decent crowd at this point, though I’m not sure how many of them are cheaters like me. And I do feel like a cheater—it feels like breaking a contract to leave and come back more rested than Daisey or the people who’ve been here all night. Erik looked at me blearily when I sat down and when I asked him if he’d taken any of our friend’s Adderall proudly informed me that he’s “on a natural high.” Daisey seems tired. This last segment was about Chernobyl, and the notion of truth, and the difference between written and verbal communication. “I want so badly to say something of worth,” he says. Philip K Dick got a shoutout, not for the first time—Daisey read from what must’ve been an interview or autobiography earlier, all about how sci fi authors don’t make any money. There are people in sleeping bags gently snoring on the side of the auditorium. Someone just threw a bunch of bouncy beachballs into the audience. On the screen, an episode of the Prisoner. The music is loud, too—this break is trying pretty hard to keep the room awake.—Alison
8:49 am—Because this is Portland a woman is onstage with a microphone and is leading the crowd in yoga. Everyone's doing a lot of ahhhhing and stretching and patting and breathing and sighing and hugging trees while waggling their hips and hugging their neighbors and sharing their breath and no I am not participating. —Erik
8:41 am—Four things:
1. "There's an Arabic word for this... thing... Allah... misthah? I'm probably not pronouncing it correctly," Daisey says. "It means... to test something to its destruction." He takes another shot, thunks the shot glass down on the table.
2. There is a woman in front of me who has been knitting more or less this whole time and she has probably started and finished like 4,000 sweaters by now.
3. Thanks to either fatigue or design, Daisey's slowly unspooling narratives—still stuff about Zevon, still sadness and alienation in the shadows of apocalypse, and now David Bowie's shown up, except he's the David Bowie from The Prestige, which means he's playing Tesla—aren't grabbing me like I suspect they should, but Daisey's digressions are. Maybe my attention span has disintegrated at this hour, or maybe Daisey's just better at observing and interpreting than he is at crafting fiction.
4. maybe i'm imagining things but i'm pretty sure this is the first time i've ACTUALLY WITNESSED ANOTHER MAN'S STUBBLE GRADUALLY GROW INTO BEING —Erik
6:27 am—We're outside.
The sky's growing less dark. Having led all of us outside to the Works' beer garden, Daisey's leading a faux church service from the First Church of Christ Ikea Redeemer. It's an old-timey revival sermon, with Daisey asking us how we can lead ethical lives, how we can live amongst corporations, how we can admit to ourselves what our lives look like amongst objects and corporations and commodification. "We are asleep because we cannot stand to be awake!" he preaches. "We are capable of so much more!" It's The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs but churchier. He turns the stage over to a woman who leads the crowd in "Amazing Grace." It's drizzling and chilly. Daisey says at the back there are bagels available for a small donation to the church.
Before we went outside, Daisey said a few other things. Here's the fractured gist:
• "I'm planning every bit in the break. We're a little behind."
• "Losing cohesion. The vodka isn't helping."
• "The fatigue I can't fight."
• "The bathroom in the artist area is broken. So I'm peeing in cups."
• "If I don't live up to it, I've failed—you, the story, myself."
In related news, my computer's battery is dying. So... y'know. If updates abruptly stop. FYI. —Erik
5:45 am—Another intermission. There are people making s’mores onstage. Someone comes around with cups of hot chocolate. “Night Moves” is playing. sweet god do i fucking love hot chocolate so much. and i love night moves as well i have decided
thank you hot chocolate lady i love you as well —Erik
5:29 am—And maybe that’s the thing: There are threads here that can be woven together, there are ideas here working in concert—they are, fittingly, time-related, I think, past and present and future and all of them bleeding together, affecting one another, tearing each other apart—but at this point (drinking Viso makes me twitchy, it turns out!), I am unsure I have the tools to put them together. This is a big sprawling thing full of a whole lot of littler, smaller things and big ideas, and a lot of self-examination and melancholy, and putting it all together requires a whole lot of concentration and dedication and memory, and I am struggling to summon those things at the moment. It's 5:30 in the fucking morning. We have been here for 11.5 hours. He is putting a lot into this—god he looks tired—and so should I, right? These ideas require time and sprawl, but time and sprawl also drain, and so we might be at an impasse. The format of this thing might be its undoing. Alternately, maybe an Adderall will help. —Erik
5:14 am—“The essence of youth is the misspending of youth. That’s what makes it youth,” Daisey says. It’s quarter after five in the morning and I’m listening to Mike Daisey lament the misspending of his own youth, and also, he’s saying he’s the Düsseldorfian prostitute again, which I had kind of hoped we'd be done with, but okay, and also, Daisey/Düsseldorfian Prostitute is now sleeping with Wim Wenders, apparently, and also Peter Falk’s back-up fake eye—not his good fake eye, his back-up fake eye—just made a cameo appearance? If someone asked me to diagram how we got to this point I would not be able to do so. I am sorry. —Erik
5:09 am— Discussing impotence, Daisey compares his erections to the diminishing elves of Middle-Earth’s Third Age. I am beginning to suspect he is peppering this thing with nerd references just to keep me, and no one else, engaged. If he brings up the Star Wars Blu-rays next, I believe I will have incontrovertible support of this hypothesis. —Erik
5:02 am—“I never see this hour," Daisey says. "I hate going to sleep. I hate it. I think it feels like death.” —Erik
4:10 am—“I brought the wrong set of notes out. Just keep things as they are. I’ll be right back.” Daisey comes back a few moments later and sighs, hard, as he sits down.
These are the hours I was most worried about. Past 6 am, it’s all downhill—the equivalent of a long, physically demanding run, when you hit the halfway point, you know you can finish, because you’re already more than halfway there, right? But this time’s hard. There’s still a point of return. Daisey’s tale of a possible future dystopia continues; details of a dirty bomb that cleared out lower Manhattan. A little more than half the crowd is still here. Some of them are straight-up sleeping, but a surprising number of them aren't. —Erik
4 am—“My favorite episode of Battlestar Galactica is the clearly the best episode of Battlestar Galactica,” Daisey says, citing “33” as the best (this opinion is neither uncommon nor controversial, and is the correct opinion to have), and then going on to note that the series ended well (which is both an uncommon and controversial opinion, but also the correct one to have). Like that episode—in which the Galactica’s fleet has to jump via a faster-than-light drive every 33 minutes in order to avoid their enemies—Daisey says he’s on the clock, here, every 45 minutes, having to compile notes on every break, then come out at the top of every hour. “The whole episode’s about fatigue. It’s a beautiful episode,” he says. He is grappling, he adds, with “the very real possibility that this is not sustainable.” —Erik
3:43 am—In what I assume is an attempt to bludgeon the audience into a state of alertness, three people—at least one of them wearing an unfortunate pair of hammer pants—are frantically convulsing onstage while an aggressively obnoxious, amped-up, tripped-out cover of "Rock Around the Clock" blares at maximum volume as epilepsy-inducing strobe lights blast into the auditorium. I went out into the hall. —Erik
3:31 am—Oh, nearly forgot: Daisey also described his Maine high school as "the sort of school that specialized in pregnancies and violence and the sort of slow, stumbling stupidity that I associate with small towns." —Erik
3:30 am—It's a tricky thing to say considering how (intentionally) unreliable as a narrator Daisey keeps being—and keeps informing the audience he's being—but there are moments in this show that are as autobiographically raw and honest as anything I've seen onstage in recent memory. I'd fuck it up if I tried to summarize it, so I won't, but the guy just told an anecdote about writing, love, loss, teenage pregnancy, and lying on a bed naked while listening to Springsteen that was unexpectedly affecting and jarringly clear. For me, at least, it was easily the most impressive moment of the show so far. —Erik
3:11 am—"Failure is inevitable, and life is like one long Kobayashi Maru scenario." I'm paraphrasing, but Mike Daisey just said something very close to that, and I would like to see it on a motivational poster ASAP. Help me out here, internet. —Erik
2:57 am—Overheard from one of the young, cute, immaculately dressed vegans: “It’s cool. I’ll shower afterwards.” —Erik
2:39 am—In what is either a brilliant satire of goofy performance art or just goofy performance art, Mike Daisey is now delivering a monologue/anecdote/dream sequence about that one time he turned into a female “prostitute in a brothel in Düsseldorf.” Meanwhile, two young, cute, immaculately dressed vegans fry bacon onstage on either side of him. —Erik
2:01 am—Daisey: “That’s my fear: That as things degenerate, I will lose my ability to keep things coherently on track.” —Erik
1:59 am—Huh. Turns out sitting in a dark room for eight hours with nothing to look at except for Mike Diaisey’s round, glowing face kind of fucks with your internal clock. And stomach. —Erik
1:55 am—“The digitization of everything became the commoditization of everything,” Daisey says, and he also has a pretty good point about social media just being gossip but without any quality control. (The boring shit gets broadcast just as much as the juicy stuff.)
For the first time in a few hours, I’m feeling like things are starting to pull together—even Daisey’s whiny imitation of a confused audience member seems to finally tie in to his greater narrative here, even if said greater narrative still does seem to be all over the goddamn place. It feels like it might be going somewhere.
The key, I think, is that Daisey isn’t acting like he’s on hour eight; while I wouldn’t describe him as super sharp at the moment, he still seems lively and smart and fun. He’s a damn good storyteller, and even if the story itself isn’t perfectly clear, it still seems worth sticking around for. Even at like 2 a.m.
Also, there are old people with easels set up and they seem to be drawing the proceedings, like this is a murder trail or something. Perhaps someone will be murdered before this is over. Maybe that horrible laughing woman. —Erik
12:48 am—Daisey’s back to talking about Warren Zevon, now with another story that feels a whole lot like another ghost story, with Zevon getting involved in a grimy, disreputable card game and waking up with a weird mark on his body. Ominous, and creepy, and Daisey says, “Y’know, this isn’t a story we should tell with the lights on,” at which point all the lights except the legally mandated green EXIT signs go out, making the story even creepier and more ominous, but also a lot darker, like, literally darker, which at this point in the proceedings, might not be the most captivating/effective thing to do w/r/t a sleepy audience that's already been sitting for six hours. —Erik
11:44 pm—Alison decided to sit out this segment in the beer garden (WILL SHE RETURN? WHO KNOWS? *hic*) and Marjorie just took off for good (“Hang in there!” she laughed, punching me in the arm with a dickish sort of joviality), so I guess you’re stuck with me from here on out maybe? Sorry! Updates might be scarcer from here on out, partly ’cause it’s getting increasingly tricky to squeeze them in in the 15-minute breaks and partly ’cause there’s so much going on, content-wise, that keeping a running tally seems an exercise in futility. So updates might be… broader.
Two of my other companions here, a couple of non-Mercury friends named Sarah and Grant, are chipping in with opinions about the show, trying to glue these seemingly disparate 45-minute-long chunks into a sort-of whole; Grant’s taking the sci-fi route, tying Daisey into Dick into Through a Scanner Darkly, Sarah’s going the literary route and claiming the disappearance of Jean-Michelle, Daisey’s wife, means Jean-Michelle represents faith, and her vanishing—following a miscarriage, following she and Daisey growing apart—the loss of faith. Both of those seem legit to me, but I’m also already in a fairly un-cogent state of mind and did I mention they’re playing “No Sleep ’Til Brooklyn” over the PA system right now? They are!
(Utterly separate from the show itself—which is moving significantly faster than I’d thought it would, pacing-wise—I’d also like to note that the food situation here is not ideal. 15-minute breaks between segments isn’t enough to beat the lines at the too-few carts to get food, and there’s also a huge line for the bathroom. Organizationally this seems both impressive and like it could be a little bit less of a pain in the ass.)
ANYWAY: Serious audience depletion at this point; empty seats and a few people lying down on the ground, one of whom is gently snoring, which is too bad, ’cause maybe the best part of the show so far just happened, with Daisey kicking into more traditional Daisey monologue territory to talk about the history of Disney World and the life of Walt Disney. He knows so much, he says, because he was working on a duology of two monologues—one about Disney World, one about Burning Man, and the whole thing about how the two places aren’t that different—“both of them yearn for a kind of utopia.” Daisey doesn’t do the duology in question here, but there are glimpses of it, and it’s great, and maybe it’s me, but it makes me wish this thing was less autobiographical than it was.
I’ve seen/heard Daisey talk about Steve Jobs and Apple and China, about cargo cults and money, about Tesla, about Monopoly, about all sorts of different stuff, but all of those earlier monologues felt… more journalistic? Incredibly subjective, true, but also based on something hard and common, whereas All the Hours of the Day is sprawling and vague and, so far, only loosely connected both to its own parts and to the audience. But when Daisey talks about Disney World being “a living monument to the taste of another era,” when he talks about the early years of Walt Disney and mentions the later years, the anti-Semitic, control-freaky ones, Daisey seems to kick up his energy a notch, speed up his words. All the Hours feels slower, more drawn out, and intentionally less concrete than Daisey’s other monologues. Maybe that’ll pay off later—maybe soon? Maybe halfway through Hour 23?—but for a few minutes, at least, it’s kind of refreshing and undoubtedly fascinating, to hear Daisey kick into a less reflective and more lecture-y type format. I don’t know if that Disney/Burning Man duologue was ever performed—if it has, I haven’t heard of it—or if it still might someday, but I’d love to hear more of it.
NO SLEEP ’TIL BROOKLYN
but i’m also getting sleepy —Erik
11:43—Decided I need a break consisting of something other than frantically blogging. Went outside. Watched people dancing in a truck. Missed a Mike Daisey segment.
Things I want to note, though: Daisey keeps making Law and Order references, which I’m choosing to believe are a callback to Taylor Mack’s show, in which he basically identified Law and Order’s brand of “realism” as the antithesis of everything the theater has stood for for thousands of years.
Another reference I want to believe in: Rude Mech’s The Method Gun included a gun that was supposed to lend an element of danger or heightened reality to the production. It was ultimately a fake, of course; the gun on Daisey’s table is fake too, even though he told us it was real. Don’t believe anything these theater people tell you. (Because obviously it’s fake—and also, an ad looking for a fake Colt 45 was placed on the local theater community’s yahoo group a few days ago.)
Current interstitial music: “All Night Long.” —Alison
11:26 pm Had to leave at 10:15pm, and am now nestled in bed, nibbling on Petit Ecoliers and streaming Daisey’s performance. It was probably the delirium-inducing cold I have, but around 9:30pm I would find myself blinking, and Daisey’s desk would shift to the right a couple feet? I’m assuming no one else had this experience…but I should probably wait until Sunday evening to ask that.
Comments on the crowd: most seemed to still actually be paying attention 4 hours in, though were easily distracted, especially if someone opened a door or walked in front of them, in that case they would stare at that individual for a while. Hey, one woman even brought her knitting. And I think the guy next to her brought a TV dinner tray.
A lesser known fact about the Washington High School: its copper wiring was stolen before TBA began doing their festival there, making electricity very sparse, and making live blogging (with a laptop) kinda hard.
Sometimes it's clear Daisey is pulling from previous performances at the festival (which is great, and is similar to how he is weaving together his own previous performances): the handgun Daisey introduced at the very beginning? Just like The Method Gun, eh? The mention of Law and Order as neo-classicism? That was totally a Taylor Mac line, as was Daisey’s little diatribe on “authentic failure.” (Talking about how “most people in the room are failed artists…we are all failed artists.” Singling himself out primarily at the end of that.) And hey, now he’s talking about Disney and its controlling aspect…also a Taylor Mac topic, eh?
As mentioned, it seems there’ll be breaks every 45 minutes, even though Daisey wants you to think otherwise. And, all right, I’m going to keep it brief here. I have a date with my neti pot. Good luck to the steadfast audience out there. -Jenna
10:43 pm—“So… David Foster Wallace?” asked a dude behind me after this last segment wrapped up, and he had a pretty good point: Things took a distinct Infinite Jest turn in these past 45 minutes, with Daisey skipping a decade or two into the future to tell the story of his now-estranged wife who works in the shadow of a bombed-out Space Needle, takes fliers from the followers of the First Church of Christ Ikea Redeemer—a group that meets in Ikea showrooms, but doesn’t believe in buying any Ikea products—and kills time by getting fucked at the Immaculate Sisterhood, a church/playroom based on dual beliefs in orgies and bake sales.
As a sci-fi nerd, I’m pretty hard-wired to dig this sort of stuff; I also like how it loosely relates to the Philip K. Dick passage on being a sci-fi writer that Daisey was reading from earlier, though I’m guessing those connections might grow a bit firmer as the
evening morning eternity progresses. More interesting, I think, though, is Daisey’s inclusion of this fantastical bit of storytelling in a monologue that, so far at least, has had segments that seem mostly believable (ghosts aside) but also like they might not be (that miscarriage bit was affecting as hell, but there’s no way to tell if it’s real or not). Daisey says the vodka and the Colt .45 on his onstage table are real, but who knows if they actually are (I’m convinced the .45, at least, isn’t), and now he’s spinning this rambling narrative into directions that’re clearly, undoubtedly fictional—things that, unlike the Ghost of Mike Gibbs, can’t even be explained away with subjectivity. It’s great and intriguing, even if Daisey’s future Pacific Northwest dystopia—emotional resonance of lost personal relationships aside—just kinda reminds me of Dark Angel. —Erik
10:03 pm This is my fourth Mike Daisey performance, the most recent being his appearance at TBA last year. The first two were at TBA in, I think, 2009, when he performed Monopoly! and a workshop version of If You See Something, Say Something. Both of those performances touched me deeply, especially Monopoly!. I teared up, and later checked his tour schedule to see if I could buy tickets for my parents to see him if he was going to be in their neck of the woods, because his mannerisms in storytelling reminded me so acutely of my father’s.
In comparison, last year’s tale about Daisey’s relationship with Apple, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, left me a little bit colder, in part because Daisey—who clearly spends a lot of his time working and rehearsing and developing his pieces and their delivery—seems to be intentionally moving the comedic side of his work in a harder, more cynical direction. He seems to have more blustery outbursts about being frustrated with stupid people and stupid tv shows and stupid stupidity, and whatever: That’s oft-trod territory in the world of stand-up comedy, which he has hewed closer to in recent works. People clearly like it, but it’s the least interesting aspect of his performances to me. Where he really impresses me is his talent for the literal weaving of tales, juggling everything into a perfect, profound finish-sticking ending.
So far, almost four hours in, he seems to be doing both. The extended parts where he wisecracks about TBA, and how he “likes” Pacific Northwest audiences while totally insulting them, and wandering out in the hall to interview a random festivalgoer all seems like unnecessarily smug filler in comparison to the interesting story of ghosts and gone wives he’s telling in between fucking around. I mean it makes sense to analyze what we are all doing here “for 24 hours” (spoiler: I am leaving as soon as I finish typing this), but with so many ample breaks during which escape is an easy option, it’s my curiosity about the meat of the story that makes me reluctant to leave, not having my long-fatigued interest in anyone telling me what Portland is like, and therefore what I must by extension be like, further exhausted. I know he’s trying to create a time-bending experience, and I’ll be very interested in hearing what anyone who makes it all the way will have to say about it (Go Erik!), but the prospect of a busy day tomorrow makes it only somewhat hard to walk away.
Things I am worried about: It will be four, or seven in the morning, and the audience will be tiny and it will be amazing and completely boundary crushing and the three people there will remember it there whole lives while I on the other hand fucked off to bed. The vodka and the gun indicate that things could go really weird, maybe even start to feel dangerous.
If I can I’ll come back in the late afternoon or evening tomorrow and see how it finishes, how the people who’ve been here all night are holding up, how crazy Daisey’s talking at that point. And to see if anyone actually drank the vodka.—Marjorie
9:58 pm—A few people around me are already starting to nod off, except for the one lady in the back with a laugh like a pained donkey who will apparently never fall asleep ever.
The defining moment of this chunk, as I’m guessing Alison will mention in a bit, was Daisey’s comedic foray out into the halls of Washington High and the “Duration Based Arts Festival,” taking with him a microphone with a ridiculously long cord; the audience stayed in their seats, looking around aimlessly and mostly listening, like we’re all stuck in traffic with an audiobook on the stereo. Both prior to this segment and after it, Daisey slips into a whispery, kind of mean/kind of awesome, cartoony imitation of “the Northwest audience,” an “intellectually curious but lazy” breed that hopes Daisey won’t go too far off track, will stay a reliable narrator, doesn’t understand why this monologue has to go so long. Fairly accurate, probably—but the dead silence that grips the audience when Daisey searingly describes the aftermath of his wife’s miscarriage also indicates that most of the crowd is as invested in the monologue as they were in its opening minutes. No small feat. Also, there have yet to be any more oranges. —Erik
9:45—UPDATE: THE ORANGES WERE JUST A SNACK. This segment was interesting: Daisey dropped the more theatrical storytelling mode in favor of a casual, riffy discussion of festival culture, what audiences expect out of art, and the particular nature of Northwest audiences. First he tells us he loves us, and then he justifiably makes fun of the people who clap at that. We’re “intelligent, aware, and afraid of our own emotions,” he says; and “Northwest audiences can’t keep their hands inside the fucking vehicle.” Then he dropped at some length into the character of a just such an audience member, uncertain about the 24-hour art endeavor, worried about missing something, not convinced why they’re here in the first place.
He tells an anecdote about jokingly texting “one of the artistic directors” of the festival asking for cocaine, and receiving two texts in response:
1. “It would really help to know these things earlier.”
2. “Are you serious? Because there’s a lot happening today.”
This segment was pretty funny, for the most part, at if you find jokes about festival culture, arts patrons, and the weirdness of companies like Boeing and Nike sponsoring ostensibly subversive art to be funny. (I do.) He even left the auditorium for a while, taking his mic out to the beer garden to interview someone about the idea that “art is not art until it hurts you,” and then acted surprised when the audience was still there when he returned. Oh, and he referred to our “wonderfully delicious post apocalyptic landscape” of food carts.
This was all fun and funny and utterly disconnected from the previous material—until, that is, the end of the segment, when he identified his wife’s miscarriage as the source of the malaise described in the previous segments.
8:46 pm—Still right on track, time wise. Volunteers just handed out oranges. REM’s “Orange Crush” (is that the name of the song? Wi-fi is too spotty to fact check the things I would typically fact check). This segment opened with a ghost story, about the house he used to live in and a woman who died there—he shares his skepticism about ghost stories in general, and then returns to that aforementioned visit from his dead friend, Mike. He talks about how they got drunk together, really fucked up, first on vodka and then all the rest of the booze he had in the house; and the whole time they’re drinking together, there’s something his friend needs to tell him. When he wakes up, cripplingly hungover, he eventually remembers what his friend told him: His wife is gone.
And THEN he finds a mysterious Doors tape from his childhood in his living room! A ghostly Doors tape! Things are getting interesting.
Some musicians are loading instruments in. Nothing has happened yet, other than Daisey talking, but between the guitars I just saw and these oranges, who knows.—Alison
7:47 pm—Two hours in, the structure of the performance is clear: 45 minute installments. Whether this will hold for the full duration of the show, no one’s telling. The first installment opened with a title projected against the wall: “The Hour We Begin to Speak.” The staging is vintage Daisey—a wooden table, a glass of water. In the opening moments, he fidgets with the stuff on the desk, moving the water glass around, adjusting his stack of notes. Soon pulls a bottle of vodka out of a drawer. A minute later, a gun follows.
The audience is energetic and wants to laugh, but Daisey isn’t quite ready to let them. There are plenty of giggles as he arranges his desk, pours a shot, drinks it.
Finally, he speaks: “There isn’t enough time to tell you everything you want to hear.” The audience loves this line, loves that he’s finally talking, and applause fills the theater. Daisey is pretty serious, though, and wants to make sure we know it.“How many of you will be here in the end?”
He refers to this opening sequence as an “overture,” and he’s setting a scene that lets us know where he’s coming from. That place? Basically, a midlife crisis. The commodifiction of his art, a sense of disconnection from the things he used to think were important. He introduces a character, Mike Gibbs, a now-deceased friend from his youth, and concludes the segment by describing a day in Brooklyn when his dead friend shows up at his door.
After the first break, he talks a lot about musicians Warren Zebon (sic?), whose music his friend introduced him to, he also tells a quite moving story about a woman in Tajikistan, during the Civil War, who was moved to defend the instruments in the school where she worked as a music teacher. My impression is that he’s putting plates in the air. We’ll see what he does with them.—Alison
Mike Daisey's 24-hour monologue begins in just a few hours; we'll be updating this post with reviews and status updates as often as possible over the course of the performance.
As of Thursday, PICA had sold nearly 400 of the 600 seats in Washington High's auditorium, so it should be a pretty full house. I'm making sure to bring a jacket and scarf (it gets really chilly in that auditorium) and a cushion (those seats are not built for grownups). I'm looking forward to this show—Daisey has set himself the challenge of keeping an audience's attention engaged for a remarkably long time, and I'm really curious to see what stops he's going to pull out to do it. Stay tuned! —Alison
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