Monday, December 31, 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Several Eras End at One Lower East Side Building -

On the day after their wedding in May 1967, they spied a “For Rent” sign at 70 Hester, owned by Sarah Feifer, an old-fashioned leftist. “The only newspaper she read was The Daily Worker,” Mr. Nozkowski said. Harry Snyder ran a fabric store on the main floor, but the former sanctuary upstairs had been vacant since the factory closed, leaving a floor full of grommets. Yet Ms. Robins, who had grown up in an Orthodox Jewish family, said she discerned something “very genial and obviously special” about the place.

In exchange for a few months of rent-free tenancy, the couple spent about $3,000 and a lot of elbow grease to replace windows, upgrade electricity and add plumbing. (From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.) The space was certified habitable under the city’s artist-in-residence program.

Warm, it wasn’t. When the couple decided to have a child, they built a small bedroom so there would be one easily heated space in the loft, which had only a potbellied stove in early years. “We spent winter nights with a stolen shopping cart out looking for wood,” Mr. Nozkowski recalled.

Friday, December 28, 2012

BOMB Magazine: Rude Mechanicals by Eric Dyer:

SS People had sex at our show. I can’t stress enough how proud I am of this fact.

ED People what?

LL They had sex. They were just fucking in the corner! There was another couple that dry humped their way through about 45 minutes of the show.

SS They wouldn’t get off the stage. They just dry humped each other, and rolled around, and groaned and panted while the play kept going on around them. The actors had to sort of shove them out of the way so they could finish the play.

ED They just kept with it?

LL Yeah, they did. And they didn’t even come with each other. They came with other dates. They’re still a couple, we hear.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A year ago right now at this moment it would seem impossible to imagine reading this story in the New York Times today. So much incredible change has started happening on the ground, and this story describes how it is transforming the lives of workers in both large and small ways. In our culture stories of wars and of business dominate the news—we rarely talk about workers—but in fifty years, when we are telling the full story of globalization, this will be part of that narrative.

Signs of Changes Taking Hold in Electronics Factories in China -

When Ms. Pu was hired at this Foxconn plant a year earlier, she received a short, green plastic stool that left her unsupported back so sore that she could barely sleep at night. Eventually, she was promoted to a wooden chair, but the backrest was much too small to lean against. The managers of this 164,000-employee factory, she surmised, believed that comfort encouraged sloth.

But in March, unbeknown to Ms. Pu, a critical meeting had occurred between Foxconn’s top executives and a high-ranking Apple official. The companies had committed themselves to a series of wide-ranging reforms. Foxconn, China’s largest private employer, pledged to sharply curtail workers’ hours and significantly increase wages — reforms that, if fully carried out next year as planned, could create a ripple effect that benefits tens of millions of workers across the electronics industry, employment experts say.

Other reforms were more personal. Protective foam sprouted on low stairwell ceilings inside factories. Automatic shut-off devices appeared on whirring machines. Ms. Pu got her chair. This autumn, she even heard that some workers had received cushioned seats.

The changes also extend to California, where Apple is based. Apple, the electronics industry’s behemoth, in the last year has tripled its corporate social responsibility staff, has re-evaluated how it works with manufacturers, has asked competitors to help curb excessive overtime in China and has reached out to advocacy groups it once rebuffed.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Cult of the Complicated and Counterintuitive

David Zax has written a
simplistic piece on Foxconn, ostensibly to explain how other narratives have been too simplistic:

At first glance, the narrative of Foxconn and the iEconomy has appeared to be simple. That narrative–espoused by Mike Daisey and others–had been that Western consumer lust had caused us to turn a blind eye to the apparent exploitation of workers in China, an exploitation that went so far as to lead to a string of suicides. And Apple, went the implied narrative, was failing to do its duty to those in its supply chain, blinded by its greed. 

Right—except that's totally wrong. Adding "and others" is an old journalist trick—it lets you cast a wide net, as now anyone who said anything about Foxconn could be caught in it. Gives you coverage, so then you can say what you want. But since I'm called out specifically, let me address it.

First, I've never said, nor do I believe that "Western consumer lust" had caused anyone to turn a blind eye to anything. We have been turning a blind eye to labor conditions all over the world for decades—it has nothing to do with how much we like our iPhones in particular. There's nothing in my work that indicates that.

I also never, in either AGONY/ECSTASY or the interviews around it, talked about the Foxconn suicides as an endpoint. I was clear about this in every version of the show, and in fact clear about it on its TAL broadcast, wherein we discussed how those suicides matter because they indicate a problem by the nature of their cluster. Mr. Zax could easily know that, and quickly, by doing some light reading.

But I doubt Mr. Zax has actually read AGONY/ECSTASY, and I doubt that he has any real grasp of what I've been saying over the last three years. I do believe he thinks I have been "discredited", which means he can use me to further whatever argument he cares to make, without having to check to see if it actually works or not. I'm used to this. The funny thing is, the same thing would happen before TAL—people will always find the narrative they'd like to tell.

But journalists love the counterintuitive—they hunger for it—so we get to hear from the Wall Street Journal, who went to Shenzhen to discover, unsurprisingly, that many workers want to keep their overtime.

This should surprise exactly no one.

The WSJ and Mr. Zax bury the real center of the story—workers want to keep their overtime because they do not believe or trust that Foxconn will ever pay them equitably. They don't believe that because the plan Apple and Foxconn drew up together for reforms doesn't increase wages to a level where it compensates for the loss of overtime that will happen if Apple actually follows existing Chinese labor law.

And they are right not to trust them.

Instead of telling that narrative, we get another story about how counterintuitively maybe doing more for workers will give them less. People eat that shit up with a spoon, in large part because it confirms our comfortable belief that it would be best if we did nothing.

If Mr. Zax had wanted to really write a counterintuitive piece, he could have just explored the stories about Foxconn that have been systematically cropping up since last spring. Like when, after all the reforms Apple has promised, they were caught using child labor again. Or when they worked to shut down schools and have the students conscripted to work in their factories in the run up to the iPhone 5 launch. Or talk about how Samsung has now clearly been caught using child labor but is facing no real outcry from the tech community.

There are stories still waiting to be told. They are sitting right in front of people. The true counterintuitive tech story is how we refuse to see them, and how those who control our media choose to tell them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A theater critic just asked me what I anticipate excitedly and what I dread about having a reviewer in the house. This was my quick answer:

"The act of having a theatrical critic in the house is unique, because in no other artistic endeavor is the act of the creation of work so intimately tied to its criticism—only in the performing arts is the critic present, affecting the performance by their very presence. What I most anticipate is rarely achieved—a true synthesis and communion with the critic, whose words illuminate beyond a recitation of what happened, or a Yelp-like assessment of whether the show is “worth your money”. What I dread is the opposite: seeing the same reviews over and over again, even when they are positive—*especially* when they are positive—written with no real contact with the work, without risk or joyful struggle, by overworked, underpaid scribes who get no support in our age for real criticism to take root. Every critic should know that they themselves will be weighed, and the better the artist the more exacting our measure is—you can often learn more about a critic from the way they write their reviews than you will about the show itself. Truly great theatrical criticism is a unicorn in the American theater—but I’m a dreamer, and I want to believe, and insist on believing, that it is possible."
Apple: Top 5 events from 2012 | Apple - CNET News:

Concerns about overseas manufacturing, and Apple's involvement persist. A report from the Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior said in September that those in a key Foxconn factory in China that produces iPhones still faced "deplorably harsh working conditions," among other violations of Chinese law. Foxconn said the report did not represent the 192,000 employees who worked at the facility. Just three days later, 2,000 workers at a Foxconn factory in a different part of the country erupted in a riot, reportedly over a spat between a worker and a guard. The plant, which employed 79,000 employees at the time, was closed and reopened a day later.

More recently, an investigative report from French TV program Envoyé Spécial claimed there were still some major worker rights issues, including workers living in unfinished buildings without water or electricity. The report made use of hidden-camera footage captured at Foxconn's campus in Zhengzhou.

Robert Bork Was a Terrible Human Being and No One Should Grieve His Passing:

As solicitor general, Bork was third in line at the Justice Department, so the order fell to him. Sniveling bootlicker that he is, he carried it out. And surely Nixon knew that Bork would bend to his will—he had previously offered Bork the job of his chief defense counsel in the Watergate matter, a job that Bork later said he would have accepted if Nixon had allowed him to listen to the tapes. When he asked, Nixon's chief of staff Al Haig told him that the president would rather publicly burn the tapes and resign than let anybody, even his own attorney, listen to them.

Knowing that Nixon regarded those tapes as a red line, Bork fired Cox and his staff, and—in a startlingly dystopian move that is scarcely conceivable happening in the U.S. even today—saw to it that FBI agents sealed off his offices, as well as those of Richardson and Ruckelhaus, so that the president could lock down any evidence of his criminality they had uncovered. Bork would later describe his reasoning: "A junior officer in the government cannot face down the president and expect to get away with it." Which is a different way of saying that the president is immune from criminal investigation at the federal level. If the president does it, that means it's legal.

It's easy to second-guess difficult moral choices in hindsight. It's easy to condemn people for getting hard choices wrong. This isn't one of those cases. Two brave men had shown Bork the right path. He could have followed them and slept that night with a clean conscience. Instead, he chose corrupt power over justice. He chose criminality over law. He participated in a vast effort to obstruct a criminal investigation that thankfully failed despite his best efforts. That the man Richard Nixon chose as his defense attorney was ever even fleetingly considered for a seat on the highest court in the land, let alone nominated, is a cruel prank.

Robert Bork should be remembered as coward and sycophant. The fact that he persisted in public life, and continued to garner praise from conservative circles for his ideas, is an indictment of a corrupt and blind political culture.

The rest—the hatred of gay people, the rancid paranoia, the tribal resentments masquerading as principled stands—is garden-variety, Ann Coulter bullshit.

Aynrandshow Image Web

Unbelievable—we added a second show yesterday, which sold out in a few hours. This is insane. We are now adding a THIRD and FINAL SHOW—we will not be adding any more—on January 16th at 7pm at the Public. Tickets are available right now
at this link.

"The latest piece in an explosion of new work by Mike Daisey, FUCKING FUCKING FUCKING AYN RAND is an evening dedicated to that most frustrating and difficult woman in our literary and philosophical canon, Ayn Rand. Reviled by millions for her infantile philosophies and turgid prose, she is simultaneously worshipped by millions more for her ideological purity and dedication to the self at all costs. Torrid rape sex, terrifyingly bad movies, and the underpinnings of the modern American financial system all play a role in how Ayn Rand became the most powerful woman in the American mythos today. Discounted tickets are available, though all who do not pay full price will be required to perform a ritual of public humiliation during the show for being moochers, takers, and part of the 47% of proles who are dragging the rest of us special people down toward the gutter when we could be reaching for the stars."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Apple Customers Spend More Money On Apple Things | The Awl:

These may be true facts, but another bit of Apple news out today suggests what everybody already knows: Apple customers have plenty of money to spend on more Apple things.

The iPad Mini, for example, was marketed as an actual iPad tablet computer. It was assumed by many analysts that iPad Mini sales would "cannibalize" new sales of the full-sized iPad Retina. This assumption, however, was based on another assumption that nobody would ever make if they walked into any upper-middle-class apartment and saw the absurd number of Apple devices elegantly crowding every recently dusted surface: multiple iPhones and iPads, of course, but also the latest iMac in pride-of-place nook atop a $2,300 sliver of desk, and several MacBooks gleaming from the kitchen counter and coffee table and bonus room desk, and also the white Airport wifi stations blinking with contentment from various line-of-sight electrical outlets, and even an AppleTV unit and a Time Capsule backup system tucked here and there.

Apple customers don't know what "Oh I already have one" even means. It is as foreign to them as a Windows login screen. So, more than half of all iPad Mini sales are going to existing Apple customers; only 47% are new to the iPad market.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Don't Trust 'Zero Dark Thirty' - Peter Maass - The Atlantic:

Unlike Lincoln, about a man who was killed a century and a half ago, Zero Dark Thirty portrays recent events. We know pretty much everything there is to know about Lincoln—all that's left is to interpret the historical record—but precious little about the hunt for bin Laden. That's why I was not only riveted by the "Bring me people to kill" line, but curious. Did it really happen? Did the film's heroine, who is called Maya, really tell the CIA director, during a meeting about bin Laden's compound, "I am the motherfucker that found that place"?

If journalists had received the same access as Boal and Bigelow, I would be a bit less troubled. But as it stands, we're getting the myth of history before getting the actual history.I had fact-or-fiction questions about nearly every scene in the movie. Because the historical record is so slim, there was really only one person who could answer all my questions. A few days ago I talked with Boal, a former journalist who wrote the screenplay, basing it on exclusive interviews he conducted with, among others, people at the CIA.
"It's a movie," Boal reminded me. "It's not a documentary." He continued, "I'm not going to go scene by scene or line by line, because first of all I think I've got to have some authorial privilege ... My standard is not a journalistic standard of 'Is this a word-for-word quote?' I'm not asking to be held to that standard and I'm certainly not representing my film as that. The standard is more, 'Is this more or less in the ballpark?'" I pressed for detail and he replied, "It gets very dicey for me if I start confirming specific lines from specific people, so I'm not going to do that."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hi there,

Mike Daisey just shared an Instagram photo with you:

view full image

"Simple things are often the best things. "

The Instagram Team

Friday, December 14, 2012

Kathryn Bigelow: Not A Torture Apologist - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast:

But the simple juxtaposition of terror with torture in the film does not force an obvious conclusion. In some ways, like Spencer, I think it reveals the core truth behind Cheney's armchair warrior mindset. The torture was not for intelligence (and it provided nothing reliable as well as countless leads that were dead ends). It was for revenge. It was an emotional lashing out at often random Muslim suspects (and some genuine terrorists) for killing so many Americans. There was no reason behind it and no law. There was pure rage fueled no doubt by Cheney's guilt at being in charge when the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor happened. Cheney subsequently acted out - and yes, it was acting out, it wasn't a rational strategy - as a lawless third world dictator for a couple of years. But by 2008, we see the long-term consequences of this war criminal's rampage. We hear the CIA officer in charge of trying to get the culprits of 9/11 say: "We are failing."

What the movie also shows - importantly - is the evil of Jihadism, and its fanatical religious roots. It shows the terrorism as well as the torture. The easy view that all of this torture was based on hallucinatory threats is rebutted. We see the 7/7 London bombings in horrific detail; we see the heroine's car suddenly peppered with bullets as she leaves the Pakistani embassy; we see her in a hotel blasted to smithereens; we see a key CIA analyst tricked and blown to bits by a suicide bomber. The evil of the enemy is as clear as the evil of Cheney. That matters. Evil begets evil.

And the heroine of the movie is at first appalled by what she sees in the torture rooms. Then she is made complicit, then numb, then desperate. But her strength comes from a passion to get bin Laden and a persistent insistence on tracing every tiny piece of evidence to its source, which means, in the end, on-the-ground human intelligence in Pakistan at great risk. In so many ways, this movie echoes what we are told the Senate Intelligence Committee report concludes. We got bin Laden when we stuck to Western values. When we acted like the Nazis or the Communists, we failed.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012



It's Time for Organized Labor to Build Their Own Media | Slog:

Rolf is short on specifics, so allow me to suggest one: Labor—either alone or as part of a broader progressive coalition—needs to build its own media. And I don't mean union-focused online newsletters or blogs. I mean broad, general purpose news outlets that also cover sports, entertainment, business, culture, and everything else consumers demand. I mean competing directly with daily newspapers, TV and radio newscasts, and yes, even alt-weeklies like The Stranger. (Sorry, Tim.)

And I don't mean a propagandistic rag. They need to hire professional journalists, and assure the same sort of editorial freedom one gets at, say, the Seattle Times. No more, and no less. Of course, a labor backed outlet is more likely to hire a Rachel Maddow than a Michelle Malkin, but that's the privilege of ownership. And when it comes to the op/ed page, well, Katie bar the door. But that's the way this industry works.

And yes, such a union owned/subsidized news outlet would still be advertising supported. But without the need to break even let alone turn a profit, the whole newspaper business model crisis becomes a non-issue. There would be no expectation that revenues ever cover operations. Washington state unions already spend millions of dollars a year to get their message out through earned and paid media—they'd simply be shifting a portion of this expenditure to creating the media themselves.

What would the labor movement get out of such an investment? An audience.

2012: The Year the Internet Almost Became a Cozy Cuddle-Puddle : The New Yorker:

American consumers almost confronted the fact that overseas workers often make our goods in grim conditions, of the sort that—you’ve seen the photos—result in the need for employers to erect suicide nets.

No wait, that was all a lie made up by Mike Daisey! Phew. Or else maybe, as Charles Duhigg and David Barboza meticulously chronicled in the Times, Chinese workers assembling gadgets in Foxconn’s factories for Apple and other U.S. companies have, indeed, faced “onerous work environments and serious—sometimes deadly—safety problems.” It’s all rather confusing, really, and easier not to sweat the details. By summer, many readers had just thrown up their hands and returned to scrolling through pictures of baby pandas on their iPhones. (And now: Ikea monkeys in shearling coats!)

But even as the year closes out with news of Apple pledging to bring some of its manufacturing jobs home, a fire at a Bangladeshi factory producing for another major U.S. company—Walmart—killed more than a hundred young women and men. What’s more, we’re learning the details of a similar fire in Pakistan that killed some three hundred workers trapped behind locked doors two months before that. Not a banner year for the “close your eyes, swipe your credit card” school of American mass consumption.


BY POPULAR DEMAND: After selling out in 16 minutes, I want everyone to know we’re investigating options for adding another performance of FUCKING FUCKING FUCKING AYN RAND. We’ll send word when we know more. Watch the skies!

In the meantime, tickets are still available for
AMERICAN UTOPIAS, our show about Burning Man, Disney World, and Occupy Wall Street, playing TOMORROW NIGHT at the McCarter Theater. Get $20 tickets with the code UTOPIAS here.
Upcoming: Mike Daisey and Ayn Rand | Superfluities Redux:

About twenty years ago, more or less as a dare to myself, I read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, all 1,088 pages of it, from cover to cover. About 150 pages into it, I began to develop a slight tremor of the hands, which by page 500 turned into a St.-Vitus-Dance-like full-body twitching; at page 750 I was foaming at the mouth, and finally, when I turned the last page, I collapsed entirely into a stammering imitation of a man, banging into walls and scaring children and dogs. After a period of hospitalization and rehabilitation I was restored to something of my old self. But the memory of it remains — the horror, the horror: the turgid prose of this dime-store Nietzsche, the cardboard characters, the grotesquely mealy-mouthed dialogue, the screeching jeremiads, the self-serving self-pity of the eternally-adolescent privileged class continue to haunt my nightmares. Unfortunately Rand’s so-called “ideas” continue to permeate a particularly annoying subclass of American culture — not only Paul Ryan and Alan Greenspan, but also pathetic young men (and, for some reason, not a few women) who pore over these pages on their subway rides, eyes narrowed through horn-rimmed glasses, trembling with teen-age rage and looking for self-justification and rationalization for their paranoia and fear.

Oh well. You can skip the book, I think, and probably the on-going series of films based on the book as well. On Tuesday, 15 January 2013, the raconteur, satirist, and sit-down comedian Mike Daisey will present his latest monologue, Fucking Fucking Fucking Ayn Rand, at the Public Theater‘s Joe’s Pub. “Reviled by millions for her infantile philosophies and turgid prose, she is simultaneously worshipped by millions more for her ideological purity and dedication to the self at all costs,” goes the description of the show. “Torrid rape sex, terrifyingly bad movies, and the underpinnings of the modern American financial system all play a role in how Ayn Rand became the most powerful woman in the American mythos today. Discounted tickets are available, though all who do not pay full price will be required to perform a ritual of public humiliation during the show for being moochers, takers, and part of the 47% of proles who are dragging the rest of us special people down toward the gutter when we could be reaching for the stars.”

Tickets are on sale today. It’s only $25.00; and if I’d known that, I’d have saved the thousands I spent on therapy after reading the work of the woman herself.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Project Iceworm - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Project Iceworm was the code name for a US Army Top Secret proposal during the Cold War (a study was started in 1958), to build a network of mobile nuclear missile launch sites under the Greenland ice sheet. The ultimate objective of placing medium-range missiles under the ice - close enough to Moscow to strike targets within the Soviet Union - was kept secret from the Danish government. To study the feasibility of working under the ice, a highly publicized "cover" project, known as "Camp Century" was launched in 1960. However, unsteady ice conditions within the ice sheet caused the project to be cancelled in 1966.
Theatre blogosphere dead; no services planned | Superfluities Redux:

“I actually think one of the reasons why the theatrosphere essentially died is that things got better on our big issue (new play development),” someone wrote on a Twitter account yesterday, “and then crazy trolls started taking up a lot of the oxygen.” Now among the other things that are dead (politics, theatre, the book, newspapers), we have the theatre blogosphere. Is it time to write its obituary after all?

I do not mention the name of the person who wrote this because Twitter and Facebook, unlike the blogosphere, are essentially private. People who use these social media can now control who sees their tweets, status updates, and what have you, and unlike the blogs living on the World Wide Web membership is required. But if, as I maintain, the theatre blogosphere is not at all dead, it’s because Twitter and Facebook are no substitutes for it. The theatre has always had self-promotion and gossip as two of its most robust extracurricular activities, and Facebook and Twitter are excellent for these. But what appears under the heading of drama criticism in the mainstream media is still no substitute for the more contemplative and theoretical kinds of drama and theatre criticism necessary to the health of the form itself.

New play development in the United States has been a theme of many blogs in the past, as well as this one, but it was never “The Big Issue” to the exclusion of others. The theatre blogosphere has investigated the same issues as drama criticism always has, to a depth rarely found in the mainstream media these days. It was this — the need for an outlet for extended critical expression of the art form — that led to the rise of the medium, and that need remains.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

My Superpower Is Being Alone Forever: Newly Single | The Awl:

The first few days of being alone again hit like OxyContin withdrawal. Or, at the very least, like a juice cleanse. Only instead of toxins leaving my body, about a shallow lagoon of Merlot floods into it. All the many things I took for granted about the relationship appreciate in value as they suddenly become unavailable. So many inside jokes and dumb little rituals lined up in my mind like a continental breakfast buffet, wheeled away by an overly officious concierge just as I arrive, famished.

This absence manifests itself everywhere. I'm keenly aware of a certain G-chat window's negative space on my computer screen all day. Unfortunate coworker fashion choices go criminally underreported. The pertinent details of which falafel place I did for lunch are lost to the ages. My day's narrative simply loses its primary audience, as though cancelled due to low ratings and frequent profanity. I could continue the broadcast on Facebook, dispatching glossy post-breakup PR or the romantic distress bat-signal of Sade lyrics, but being heard is not the same as feeling known. Nothing can substitute for the presence of an actual human person who knows most of your secrets and still somehow wants to make out with you.

Friday, December 07, 2012

It Happened To Me: My Family's Private Tragedy Became Front Page News | xoJane:

It’s gut-wrenching stuff, and it had all of my Facebook (and real-world) friends talking on Tuesday about how unbelievably callous, unethical and tasteless The Post editors are for publishing it.

I’m invested in stories like these and why we feel compelled to gawk at or reject them because in 1995 my grandparents committed double suicide. Or “murder-suicide,” as it was termed by local law enforcement and more than one local news source. “News” of my grandparents’ sad demise was printed on the front page of my hometown post and in a much larger nearby city’s major paper.

“Murder, suicide cited in deaths,” The Palladium-Times said. “Murder, Suicide Suspected In Oswego,” teased the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Read ‘em and weep. I did.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Mac in the USA | Near-Earth Object:

I think even if it is primarily a PR move, which I also presume it is, it’s a huge one, and even Daisey himself should be patting himself on the back. Steve Jobs famously told President Obama, “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” and as much as folks wanted badly for Apple’s manufacturing to be subject to U.S. labor standards, we all knew it was never, ever, ever going to happen. The iPhone alone, if it were its own business with nothing else, would eclipse all of Microsoft. They’re not moving an inch.

But they are. Even a token move like this is, I suspect, a huge deal, a nightmare of logistics and upheaval for Apple and its juggernaut manufacturing ecosystem that at times seems to have developed an intelligence all its own. It’s a bone thrown, but what a heavy bone it is.

Another step. I recall, vividly, how many times I was told that no one would ever adjust anything in their manufacturing ecosystem to accommodate ideas like human rights or safe and sane work conditions. And this is a gesture, and a PR move, and does not speak to the violations still happening on the ground in China. But it does show that pressure can effect change—Apple never thought along these lines before, and neither have other electronics companies. But be clear who is the driving force here—it's people. Thanks to millions of people paying attention, the landscape is changing, and this move by Apple is part of its efforts to adapt to that.

Apple to Resume U.S. Manufacturing -

For the first time in years, Apple will manufacture computers in the United States, the chief executive of Apple, Timothy D. Cook, said in interviews with NBC and Bloomberg Businessweek.

“Next year, we will do one of our existing Mac lines in the United States,” he said in an interview to be broadcast Thursday on “Rock Center With Brian Williams” on NBC.

Apple, the biggest company in the world by market value, moved most of its manufacturing to Asia in the late 1990s. As an icon of American technology success and innovation, the California-based company has been criticized in recent years for outsourcing jobs abroad.

Lena Dunham Doesn't Write For Money And Doesn't Think You Should Either - Forbes:

On the other hand, people do need to pay the rent, and it isn’t exactly nice to discover that someone who is earning $3.5 million for her musings is so clueless about the things the rest of the world often needs to take on to get by like, say, corporate writing gigs or staff positions on television programs on that can kindly be described as less profound than Girls. It gives ammunition to all of those critics, formerly thought of as humorless, who pointed out the absurdity of presenting Dunham’s Girls as a generational statement as if all Millennials come from a privileged, artistic background. They just need space, time and an understanding boss so they can find their way in the world after their well-off parents pull the financial plug.

Let me be clear: Dunham’s Hannah, the autobiographical character she created for Girls, does not suffer from a permanent shortage of funds. She could be better described as having a cash-flow problem, which is not the same thing at all. This is the sort of situation that gives one the freedom to say writing for money is ”weird.”

Here’s hoping the next season of Girls takes this issue on.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Train Wreck: The New York Post's Subway Cover -

Within its four corners, The Post cover treatment neatly embodies everything people hate and suspect about the news media business: not only are journalists bystanders, moral and ethical eunuchs who don’t intervene when danger or evil presents itself, but perhaps they secretly root for its culmination.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

thinaar's blog: Color Me Obsessed (a fan letter to a fan letter):

Jim Findlay and I were talking about The Replacements a month ago, doing a little armchair critique of artists in their 40s who self-describe as punk, and I credit him with nailing something true: "Punk was an act of faithlessness. It was nihilistic and selfish." It said 'we don't matter and neither do you.' The part of me that wants something to believe in, conveniently, or that wants to believe what I experienced was necessary for some reason other than my own relief, was shaken, until I realized that what got me through adolescence was not faith, but was actually a kind of energetic, enveloping comfort in the idea that whatever we do, it's probably bullshit.

Punk was by young people for young people. We're not punk now. We're in our 40s and our heroes from that time are at least that. We might have moments of it (like my friend Esther getting arrested at a Pussy Riot protest). We still listen to it, maybe we use it as a benchmark, but we are not it. We don't represent it. We have final reports to do, kids to raise, insurance policies to buy. And the new Cat Power's not that vanilla, is it? Surely it goes great with our microbrew and our dinner party?

Monday, December 03, 2012


Excuse the informality—I figured if the president can get down with the one-word subject line, I'd give it a whirl.

I'm writing to announce that we're doing a one-night special event—I'm performing
AMERICAN UTOPIAS, my monologue about Disney World, Burning Man, and Occupy Wall Street, on Thursday, December 13th at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, New Jersey.

We're incredibly proud of
UTOPIAS—we just finished a sold-out run in Chicago, and we think it might be our most fun monologue in years. This will be your LAST CHANCE to see it in the New York area—it's not currently booked to return, so I hope you'll join us.

Starting today, you can get
$20 TICKETS (!) by using the promo code UTOPIAS at the McCarter's site here.

Be seeing you,


Utopias Mccarter

Mike Daisey:

Created and performed by Mike Daisey
Directed by Jean-Michele Gregory

Master storyteller Mike Daisey brings us a distinctly American vision of utopia—how we create public spaces in which we come together to act out our dreams of a better world. Daisey takes us everywhere to pursue the story: from Disney World and its nostalgic theme park perfection, to the drug-fueled anarchic excesses of Burning Man, to Zuccotti Park, where in the unlikeliest place the Occupy movement is born. Gunplay, giant glittery dildos, raving animatronic presidents, and brutal police actions come together to paint the landscape of our American dream.

Daisey’s groundbreaking monologues weave together autobiography, gonzo journalism, and unscripted performance to tell hilarious and heartbreaking stories that cut to the bone, exploring stories that define our age through his blend of hilarious comedy, brilliant observation, and pitch-perfect timing. This is a rare opportunity to see Daisey do what he does best: a master storyteller at the peak of his form, weaving new stories about the things that actually matter.

"His shows have the insightful hostility of the best comedy."

"Masterful and bombastically funny...a voluble and valuable raconteur."

"There is nothing minimalist about this monologuist - if Lenny Bruce was embodied by Zero Mostel and played by Louis Armstrong, the result would be Mike Daisey."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Scott Walters: The Wal-Marting of American Theater:

Instead of local arts organizations run by and staffed by artists whose lives are made within a specific community and whose artistic vision is informed by that community, Wal-Mart-style regional theaters and their big-box counterparts, the touring houses who sell Broadway remounts, import generic artists from NYC to do generic plays for a short run after which they depart never to be seen again, taking the community's money with them. This is the system being celebrated by Beth Leavel, as well as every theater instructor who dazzles their young charges with visions of Tony Awards. This is the system that monologist Mike Daisey dissected in How Theater Failed America.

Admittedly, only a fool would assert that New York City isn't currently the dominant city of the American theater, in the same way that Wal-Mart is the dominant retailer. But many would argue that Wal-Mart isn't good for America, and I would argue that neither is Wal-Mart theater. And like the business leaders and legislators who promote Wal-Mart as an economic engine bringing jobs to depressed areas despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, theater artists and educators who continue to promote this system are contributing to the homogenization of the American theater.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

33 Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out To Be True ~ RiseEarth:

The Church Committee is the common term referring to the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church in 1975. A precursor to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the committee investigated intelligence gathering for illegality by the CIA and FBI after certain activities had been revealed by the Watergate affair.

The Committee uncovered, among many other things, that the CIA had violated its charter to perform only gathering of intelligence. For example, the assassinations of Allende in Chile and Mossadegh in Iran. Assassinations against Central and South American leaders and revolutionaries, as well as Africa, Middle East and East Asia. The list was tremendous. They even declassified a “Heart Attack Gun” the Agency had made for the use of killing someone without it being detected.

Cancer, car accidents, skiing accidents, suicide, boating accidents, heart attacks, and just plain being shot were common assassination methods. The hearings, although recorded in full in congressional record, the mainstream media and official policies, is still largely not taught in American schools on recent history. The American public still has no idea this was ever actually confirmed or even took place. It is common for people to still refer to any of these assassinations as a joke or made up conspiracy.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hostess bankruptcy: What will happen to the recipes for Twinkies, Ho Hos, and Wonder Bread? - Slate Magazine:

Confectioners rarely patent their recipes, because applying with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office means publishing the ingredients and methods. The legal protection lasts only 20 years, after which time anyone can profit from the creation. Manufacturers instead guard their recipes as trade secrets, a status that isn’t time-limited. The company forces employees to sign nondisclosure agreements and sues rival manufacturers that extract their methods and formulas from workers. The companies that eventually buy Hostess brands will gain access to those trade secrets and the right to enforce the secrecy agreements. If, however, someone cracks the Twinkie recipe and manufactures an identical product under a different name—the brand names are protected by trademark—there’s very little the new owner will be able to do.

Candy companies go to extraordinary lengths to protect their recipes. In her essay “Trade Secrecy in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory,” law professor Jeanne C. Fromer explains that the fictional Wonka’s lock-and-key approach to candy making isn’t far from reality. Companies store their recipes in safes. For many years, Mars, the company that makes Skittles, Snickers, and M&Ms, refused to reveal its president’s name. The company also builds its own machines and blindfolds visiting repairmen. No Hershey employees know the proportions of ingredients in the company’s chocolate bars.

'We own the whole widget': Unbowed, Mike Daisey returns to Joe's Pub | Capital New York:

He soaks up stories, binds them together and wrings them out again, producing critically-beloved monologues at a staggering clip—more than a dozen in the last 10 years alone. When a controversy earlier this year dented his reputation, he responded by doubling down, working harder and faster than he has in years. Whatever one thinks of Mike Daisey, the man is like nuclear fission: unstoppable and impossible to ignore.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Wal-Mart Workers Will Walk Off The Job On Black Friday: Gothamist:

A labor attorney with the firm Steptoe & Johnson told the CSM that the protesters are likely to withstand any challenges from Wal-Mart: "The bottom line here is that labor would not be talking about this strike on Black Friday if they were not well aware that there are ways to pull it off without violating the law. Labor holds the upper hand here so long as they are able to persuade a sufficient number of employees to participate to make the impact felt."

Wal-Mart employees are so underpaid that they are the number one reason behind the burgeoning role of food stamps in the country. Wal-Mart's CEO makes more money in one hour than nearly all of the chain's employees will earn in a year. A worker making $20 an hour told Allison Kilkenny that he and his better-paid peers are "required to be [Wal-Mart's] slaves," and cited an instance in which he loaded heavy boxes in sub-zero temperatures with an open wound to his leg because a supervisor didn't want the injury recorded.

Meanwhile, the chain has received more than $1.2 billion in tax breaks, grants, and land from the government to build its vast empire (not to mention the massive bribery scheme the company ran to corner the market in Mexico). The workers are striking for a raise of their minimum wage to $13, and for affordable health care, a better work schedule, and overall better working conditions.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln,’ Passive Black Characters -

But it’s disappointing that in a movie devoted to explaining the abolition of slavery in the United States, African-American characters do almost nothing but passively wait for white men to liberate them. For some 30 years, historians have been demonstrating that slaves were crucial agents in their emancipation; however imperfectly, Ken Burns’s 1990 documentary “The Civil War” brought aspects of that interpretation to the American public. Yet Mr. Spielberg’s “Lincoln” gives us only faithful servants, patiently waiting for the day of Jubilee.

This is not mere nit-picking. Mr. Spielberg’s “Lincoln” helps perpetuate the notion that African Americans have offered little of substance to their own liberation. While the film largely avoids the noxious stereotypes of subservient African-Americans for which movies like “Gone With the Wind” have become notorious, it reinforces, even if inadvertently, the outdated assumption that white men are the primary movers of history and the main sources of social progress.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

CNET has ranked my imagination as one of the Tech Turkeys of 2012, in one of those BuzzFeed-style roundups journalism sites use to troll for clicks these days.

Setting style aside, it's interesting to look at what they actually say.


There are only two stories in the TAL retraction that this is referring to: one is about the worker I spoke with who had a maimed hand, and the other was my account of speaking with workers at the gates of Foxconn.

No one disputes that I spoke with a worker with a damaged hand at the labor meetings I went to. What was disputed was that he had been injured working at Foxconn.

Is his story less heartbreaking because we aren't sure which kind of machinery mauled his hand, after which he received no medical support, healed incorrectly, and then was fired from his job after being too slow?

Similarly, no one disputes that I met with workers at the gates of Foxconn, nor does anyone contest the facts of what that work is like in terms of its incredibly long hours, monotony, and conditions.

Is it less heartbreaking because the girl may have been two years older? Three years? How do we rate our empathy?

At what point do we blame the worker? At the moment they are an adult in our eyes? At the moment the clock strikes, at the second they are legal to work in the country they live in, is the story then about how they should have known better, because they are, after all, adults?

Of course, some would say that what makes the story not heartbreaking is my perfidy—since they do not trust me as a narrator.

On the surface this makes sense. But the encounter with the worker with the damaged hand has been fact checked, and the details that remain aren't contested. Even if they were, it's an open book that hideous injuries like these are incredibly common throughout the SEZ. And there are mountains of evidence which make clear what it is like to be a worker at Foxconn.

What is most likely is that clinging to the idea that I am untrustworthy is a convenient excuse for people who would rather not think about something like their labor.

Here is a succinct web graphic about this very idea:


I won't comment on the overall sentiment of this graphic, beyond the obvious: that Gene Wilder was a genius.

The CNET piece ends with:


This is rich.

First, to some degree I'm sympathetic. In my apology I specifically talked about my concerns for hard-working labor journalists where my work may have made their jobs more difficult. That was a real and valid concern.

It's also clear, eight months on, that, thankfully, this turned out to be bullshit.

People don't have a problem believing the conditions in Foxconn and across the Special Economic Zone—they've been amply documented for years and years by NGOs and journalists.

If there's been a gap, it hasn't ever been believability. It's been empathy.

And chief among those not caring are the journalists—those in the tech industry, and those who edit and control what stories get inches coming from foreign correspondents.

The energy and attention the TAL retraction threw on the already blazing fire about Apple only heightened the scrutiny—and in the light it is now clear that Foxconn uses forced labor, still uses child labor, and shows few signs of sincere reform. The mountain of evidence was tall before I ever showed up, and now it's even taller—as I say in AGONY/ECSTASY, the idea that this was even ever "news" is ludicrous. We always knew.

Having now spoken with workers rights organizations who work directly on these issues, it is clear that today they are in a far different and better place than they were a year ago—one director told me they were fifteen or twenty years ahead. They have access to new visibility, new fundraising opportunities, to a whole new level that was impossible before.

Chinese labor has been talked about on Saturday Night Live, and in the presidential debates. When is the last time a labor issue of any kind asserted itself in the popular culture?

Everyone knows who Foxconn is now, and Apple's complicity with them. And given that they've been now caught, after pledging reforms, to still using child labor and forced student labor, the shoe still sadly fits perfectly.

Engadget did live updates of riots at Foxconn, culling data from Weibo. CNET itself sent Jay Greene to Shenzhen and beyond to do serious journalism. On the mainstream side, now that editors can see that there is interest in heat in Chinese labor, there has been a huge jump in the number of stories about conditions in China.

The funny thing is that CNET's comment is a double-edged sword. It can be pointed at me, certainly—in their belief, I forced the journalists to work at least twice as hard.

In a world where we believe in the myth of objective journalism and the perfectly informed public, that does sound like a bummer. No one wants to make the purveyors of truth have to work any harder—after all, without them we wouldn't know what to think.

But in the universe of the actual, in light of historical inequities in labor reporting, making journalists work harder to actually get stories about labor in front of the eyes of the public doesn't sound like that terrible a charge.

And if you accept that on its face—when were they going to work this hard? And where was the empathy going to come from, that makes a story leap from the pages to actually resonate? After all, this has happened before—Apple responded to labor issues when people were writing stories about them back in 2006. When there was nothing but journalism alone, the story rose up and died without breaking the surface of our consciousness.

Whether you like how we got here or not, I'm asking—if there had been nothing else, would we even be where we are now?
What's Happenin': Winter, 2012-13:

The wintertime lineup of artists in Hancher Auditorium’s Visiting Artists Series concludes with the University of Iowa’s February 21 through 23 residency with the hilarious, fiercely intelligent monologuist Mike Daisey, who has been described by Metro magazine thusly: “He’s the History Channel, the best of public radio, and the most entertaining guy at the bar, but much, much better.” Despite being a bit peeved that the author of that rave has obviously never seen me at a bar, I’ll continue with this piece, but only because Hancher’s winter schedule is so darned impressive.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Twinkie: an indestructible icon of American capitalism | Mike Daisey | Comment is free |

Friday, Hostess, the seminal American bakery, announced it was declaring a final bankruptcy. It ceased production immediately, and as its halls went silent across the nation, you could hear Americans realizing this was the end of the Hostess Fruit Pie, which has nothing resembling fruit in it, and is only a pie if you have a drunken and scandalous definition of "pie".

So, too, would pass the Devil Dogs, the Ding Dongs, the Funny Bones, and most mysteriously something called "Chocodiles", which I could Google to determine what it actually is, but I am happiest believing is a chocolate-cakey crocodile filled with a slightly sweet frosting made from Elmer's glue, soap, and human tears.

But nothing aroused our pathos like the loss of the Twinkie.

All day long, the scribes of the internet, chained to their iPads with absurdly expensive keyboards, sat in coffee shops in fashionable neighborhoods and thought about what this meant. Hostess gone? This icon, this emblem … you could hear the great wheel spinning and spinning.

And maybe, this was a magical moment in a sense – few times in our history have we yet seen the triumph of branding so complete. Because despite this outrage and despair, beneath the nostalgia and sadness, there are no actual humans who like Twinkies.

Let us be clear, there are millions who respond to the word. Twinkie. And we have its brand associations buried deep in our hippocampus, thrumming and pulsing up against our midbrain. We remember that scene in Ghostbusters when the hypothetical giant Twinkie of ectoplasm would engulf the city, we remember eating them in our youth and in our shameful moments …

But what is interesting is that no one actually likes them.

Not Quite Convergent: Apple, Mike Daisey's artistic liberties, and the moral ethic:

But I was finally (finally!) heartened in the closing minutes of the TAL piece. Why? In Ira's discussions with Charles Duhigg - one of the original authors of the NY Times investigative piece about Apple's labor practices and author of the book "The Power of Habit" - Charles gets right at the point that Mike tries so hard to get at: people should care that their buying practices have far-reaching impacts. He asks:

"Do you feel comfortable knowing that that iPhones and iPads and, and other products could be manufactured in less harsh conditions, but that these harsh conditions (in factories and societies worldwide) exist and perpetuate because of an economy that you are supporting with your dollars?"

and, in response to his own question says:

"You are actually one of the reasons why it exists. If you made different choices, if you demanded different conditions, if you demanded that other people...enjoy the same work protections that you yourself enjoy, then those conditions would be different overseas."

I can only hope that listeners of TAL and those summarizing the episode in the wider media catch this last, critical piece in today's show.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sir Ian McKellen: there will be no more British acting greats - Telegraph:

Britain will produce no more actors of the calibre of Dame Judi Dench or Sir Derek Jacobi because repertory theatre has died out, according to Sir Ian McKellen.

Sir Ian said he would not have the career he has today without a grounding in regional rep. The current crop of actors, who go straight into television and film roles or appear in the occasional stage production, do not have the same experience.

“The situation is desperate. There are no [resident] companies in this country - not even the National Theatre has one. There’s a desert,” he said.

“The danger’s going to be that the current generation of actors won’t develop into good middle-aged performers because they won’t have been able to live from their work.

“The strength of British theatre should be that these actors in their middle years know what they’re doing and are good at it. Not rich, not famous, but making a living.”
Hello All,

This Monday's show,
MY BIG BREAK, is completely sold out. I'm writing today to announce our next monologue:



This December 10th we explore the power of storms on every level—from the hurricane that tore through our city and the work of thousands making recovery possible, to what it meant to live in a city divided by darkness, and how for many the struggle hasn't ended. More than a news story, we'll endeavor to wrestle with what storms mean—as a harbinger of the future, as a dramatic illustration of our blindness to class, and even as a moment when it can feel like our direction is changing. Expect both the ridiculous and the heroic in equal measure, a survey of our waterfronts large and small, an accounting of the power of tides, and a night of shared stories. Fill your bathtub. Check your batteries. Sit tight.

Everything we make for this performance will be donated to Sandy relief with Occupy Sandy.

Tickets for this one-night show go on sale this
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 21st at 1 PM. You can purchase them then at

I hope you can join us.

Finally, I'm performing tomorrow, Saturday, as part of a fantastic all-day event called
If You Should Ever Happen To Find Yourself In SOLITARY.

Solitary Web

I'll be speaking alongside Tony Kushner, the Yes Men, and a remarkable convocation of artists and thinkers about how we imagine we would cope with solitary confinement...

...and then actual survivors of years of solitary confinement will speak, and we'll get a glimpse of how little our imaginings can contain the truth. We'll also hear from experts about the philosophical, legal, and human rights implications of our current addiction to solitary confinement.

It's free and open to the public--I can't imagine a more interesting, compelling, public event for a Saturday in New York. You can find all the details

Be seeing you,


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Planting Seeds of Inspiration: ‘I done good!’ « Woman Wielding Words:

This semester I’ve been teaching a course called Studies in Drama at Bryant University; a University that is mostly known as a business school, but has been expanding its liberal arts offerings. This is a 300 level course taught through the Literary and Cultural Studies Department that fulfills an LCS requirement that all students need to graduate.

Did you pick up on the key words there? Business students, 300 level, requirement.

Knowing that I might have a reluctant group, I decided to try and make the course relevant to their interests as well as my own. Since I could design the course as I saw fit, I decided to focus on “theatre as a tool of cultural expression, political engagement, and social change.” (From my syllabus). The first thing I had them read was The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs by Mike Daisey, which is a somewhat controversial monologue/play that questions the ethics of Apple, Steve Jobs, and the use of Chinese workers to build Apple products. What better play to intrigue the interest of business majors?

The Last Time that Congress Got Scared About Privacy and Surveillance : The New Yorker:

Will the scandal surrounding David Petraeus, General John Allen, Paula Broadwell, Jill Kelley, and a shirtless F.B.I. agent turn into the same sort of eureka moment that Congress experienced when Bork was, as the saying now goes, “borked”? Although the lustful portion of the Petraeus scandal is hardly disappearing—who else will be drawn into it, and when will we read the e-mails?—attention is turning toward the apparent ease with which the F.B.I. accessed the electronic communication of Petraeus, Broadwell, Kelley, and Allen. The exact circumstances of how the F.B.I. got its hands on all this material remains to be revealed—for instance, whether search warrants were obtained for everything—but the bottom line appears to be that the F.B.I. accessed a vast array of private information and seriously harmed the careers of at least Petraeus and Broadwell without, as of yet, filing a criminal complaint against anybody. As the law professor and privacy expert James Grimmelmann tweeted the other day, “The scandal isn’t what’s illegal; the scandal is what’s legal (or what the FBI thinks is legal).”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012