Thursday, August 30, 2001

Before this point, DILETTANTE existed only as an email newsletter with no online archive. Here are transcripts of some of these early transmissions.


[8/15/01] Dilettante: When it rains, et cetera.

On the 4th of July I was caught in my first serious New York rainstorm--I was walking to a party at a friend's house. Rain starts. Not one taxi. In Seattle, I would just be misty and damp and that would be the end of it, so like an idiot I just kept walking in the downpour, assuming it would spare me.

I was not spared. I had to take off my pants when I arrived, and then spent the rest of the party naked, wrapped in a towel. People don't take large naked men seriously--they are always waiting for the punchline...they keep asking, "hey, why are you all naked, big guy?"

Advice on surviving downpours and good umbrella shop locations openly solicited.

* * *

21 DOG YEARS has been getting a lot of attention, with major notices in the last week in the NEW YORK TIMES, the NEW YORK POST, TIME OUT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE, FORTUNE, NEWSDAY and CNBC. The show has sold out all of its performances so far, and has in fact garnered the ultimate New York endorsement--scalpers! Real live scalpers!

For details on catching one of the remaining New York Fringe Festival performances, go to:

and order tickets quickly--they are going very fast.

* * *

Every time I buy a soda in New York, I am given a straw. At stores, at corner markets or on the subway--for some cultural imperative I can't fathom, a straw is automatic with every beverage purchase.

I have been trying to refuse the straws, by shaking my head, or smiling sheepishly and waving them away, but this just confuses people--they look at me cockeyed and I take the straw. I'm not trying to rock the boat.

Weirder still, no one I see is using their straws. Like me, I believe everyone is carrying bundles of unused straws in our pockets. If anyone knows anything about this, or what I should do with these straws, please write.

* * *

SPECIAL SEATTLE ENGAGEMENT: 21 DOG YEARS will be performing this year at BUMBERSHOOT, Seattle's amazing arts festival, for one show only at 9:30pm on Sunday, September 2nd at the Seattle Rep's Bagley Wright Theatre. Complete details are available at:

* * *

Overheard on the street: "Yeah, his mama is gonna do him like he's a Pepcid A.C." This is then followed by peals of laughter.

Other than being a textbook case of excellent branding, does anyone know what this could mean? His mother is going to eat him, and then he'll have a calming effect on her stomach? Why not TUMS, which I always assumed was more popular?

Explanations welcome.

* * *

I will be reading tomorrow at the McSweeney's store in Brooklyn--a weird, wild and woolly place. Another man will be auctioning off his smoking jacket. If you are curious, please attend and you will be just as surprised as I will be at what takes place.

Be seeing you,



[7/16/01] Dilettante: Overheard and Underreported

I have moved to Brooklyn, and I'm typing this overlooking the East River. Night is dropping and the city is looking back at me, the Brooklyn Bridge mute and solid on my right and the Statue of Liberty no bigger than a Star Wars figure across the waters.

The people next to me are talking about how their mutual friend, a midget who works at a bakery, is getting married. One woman is in the wedding party. They are speculating about the midget's sex life, and they are unashamedly curious, because they hear it is excellent.

The other woman says, "Yeah, she's small, but she's small and FIERY."

New York is a marvelous city for eavesdropping.



21 DOG YEARS will strike New York this August as part of the NYCFringe Festival for only six performances between August 10th and the 23rd. Tickets may be as scarce as hen's teeth, I hear.

Pieces of the 21 DOG YEARS and special guests will be shown at the next PINK SLIP PARTY on the 25th of July at the club HUSH.

I'll be doing some events connected with MCSWEENEYS, Messr. Eggers inscrutable and farfetched literary experience, at the their store, which only has 10 square feet and looks like the place you can buy GREMLINS from.

HORRIBLE CHILD, a grotesque play I am working on by that MCSWEENEYS author Lawrence Krauser is being performed at TONIC in the lower East Side on Mondays throughout the rest of July. It is sick, wrong and wonderful.

Complete details on all the whys and wherefores of all the above will be available at soon, if not already.


On the F train a week ago: an Indian man is sobbing between the cars. His friend has the door half-open, and is awkwardly comforting him the way grown men comfort other men. The man is incredible, giving full voice to his crying in a way that few ever do, and everyone in the train knows something terrible has happened.

No one speaks. The sobbing echoes off the car walls. Everyone is trying to read or stare at the walls as their minds imagine: what could have happened? The answers are so unacceptable to the morning commute we have to close ourselves off. This is happening over and over again until 42nd Street.


21 DOG YEARS, the book, is nearing completion. I'm exhausted but hopeful--expanding, deepening and enriching the stage show has been a really fascinating experience that I would like a year off from before attempting again. We're still on track for it to be available in May.

Oddly, it turns out that a lot of this book will have been written in a Barnes and Noble in Brooklyn. Go figure.


On 57th and Broadway: I am writing, and two very precise women are talking animatedly. They each have some kind of triple espresso, and they are both chorus members in different Broadway shows: RENT and 42nd STREET. It seems like every person who comes down the street recognizes them, shrieks, hugs them, kisses them, chats about "the biz" for 20 seconds and immediately leaves. Then, unfailingly, the two say:

"That bitch."

"She is such a total bitch. Hate her."

proving once again that clich�s exist because they have some grounding in fact. And I love and hate New York all at once, another clich�, which is a good place to be.



[6/29/01] Dilettante: When You Care Enough To Prove A Point and are giving away free books!

Amazon, in a dramatic move in their struggle toward profitability have changed their shipping policies, increasing their prices but providing free shipping if you order two or more items together.

I remember this idea being shot down while I was at Amazon, and dismissed as a desperation move that would never work. Thank goodness things changed!

Now *you* get to suckle at the teat of corporate largesse, as I will buy you two (2) copies of the fabulous "Ward's Business Directory of U.S. Private and Public Companies : 2001 Supplement".

The publication is notable, as it costs all of $.02. Yes. Two pennies. Shipping is free, so it will cost only two pennies to ship this to you, wherever you are in America. God bless capitalism.

What's really impressive is that Amazon has managed to make this a profitable venture--I must have been wrong about the strategy when I departed, and I'm thrilled and tickled pink that against all odds Jeff has found a way to squeeze profitability out of an apparently hopeless situation. He's a very gifted man.

Here's the link if you'd like to hear more about what I am buying you:

It's a thrilling read, I'm certain, and it's so rare that a company helps someone to such heights of generosity that I'd love to get the Ward's Supplement to as many people as I can. In fact, let me know if you need more than 2--I'm happy to oblige.

You could also have a copy of "The Book Of Hope", which is a princely $.50...but's coffers are swollen with our recent IPO, so if you'd like to buy this rousing philosophical tract I will assist.

You can find this selection at:

All you need to do is send me your physical address and I will get cracking.



ps--private to jeff: word on the street is that you read these little missives. no hard feelings--I couldn't really let this pass without comment. you know damn well the viral nature of the net--this is a terrible idea. if interested, I am still available for consulting. best of luck.


[5/31/01] Dilettante: News You Never Wanted To Hear

The Speakeasy, recent home of 21 DOG YEARS: DOING TIME @ AMAZON.COM, burst into flames and burned to the ground, completely destroying the theater and caf�. The fire was intense, damaging nearby buildings with its heat, and obliterating the structure within twenty minutes.


21 DOG YEARS arrives in Portland this Sunday, Monday and Tuesday...full details are available here:


On local news I watch the faces of people who have lost everything in fires. They speak about what happened to their things & lives & loved ones.

It never made sense that they were real. I am thankful no one was hurt.


Recent media coverage on the show includes ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, WIRED MAGAZINE, OREGON PUBLIC RADIO, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES and the WALL STREET JOURNAL. I was also recognized by a skateboarding kid outside a coffee shop.

When I did the photo shoot for WIRED we took pictures in the Speakeasy's ad hoc dressing room-- a closet of a room stuffed with old props, electrical equipment, costumes, makeup and assorted remainders. There's a photo of me with a handmade prop above my head--a fresco of the Titanic going down for the first and final time.


Fire changes things, and things change on their own. I am moving to New York City, sooner than I would have ever thought, leaving Seattle behind for now. The book needs writing, the show needs performing and things need to be packed or left behind.

I'll let you know when the next thing happens,



[5/01/01] Dilettante: News From Five Minutes Too Late

� 21 DOG YEARS: DOING TIME @ AMAZON.COM is ending its 3 month run at the Speakeasy Backroom in Seattle on May 12th, and tickets are going fast and furious for the remaining nights. If you want to catch the show before it hits the road call the info line at 206.444.4336 right away.

� Writing a book is like kissing your sister's friends: more work than you'd think, but it provides a sordid and dirty kind of pleasure.

� We will be performing 21 DOG YEARS in Portland on June 4-6 at the Stark Raving Theatre, and in San Francisco on June 21-24 at a Space To Be Named Soon. We're expecting to perform in Los Angeles sometime in July, and NYC in August/September. will have all the details.

� People like to ask "How is the book going?" a lot if you are writing a book. I'm now responding by staring at a point on the wall, cocking my head to one side, sighing slightly and saying with great portent, "It's...going...well." People nod sagely at this, so I think it's the answer they wanted.

� The workshop of a new monologue, currently titled WHAT WAS LEARNED IN LONDON, will happen in mid-June for one night only in Seattle. Think of it as a beta test--if you want to see a work in progress and look behind the scenes, this is for you.

� Essay on performing for venture capitalists is almost finished, and will be rolled out on the site along with a slew of other things that I will make up at the last possible instant. Ah, the internet: learn what you know, share what you don't.

� Best internet tidbit: there have been more searches for "Mike Daisey" than "The Rock" on Lycos over the past few weeks. this causes two thoughts:
1)can I make a lateral career move into pro wrestling?
2)people are still using Lycos?

� Best internet rumor: that I was dismissed from Amazon for smoking crack. I just want to remind people that I was arrested, *not* convicted.

Don't work too hard,



[4/4/01] Dilettante: News From The Present Tense

Roman a clef: in the style of Larry King:

� 21 DOG YEARS has extended again, now until the end of April. Interest from other theatres has been strong, and we're currently figuring out where to take the show next. New York, the Bay area, L.A. and London are the strongest possibilities...we'll keep you informed.

�I have run out of the shampoo I like, but I refuse to buy more until the bottle is achingly empty. I'm not comfortable with my intimate relationship with this shampoo bottle. The bad shampoo is pleased with this development.

�Simon and Schuster will be publishing my book (currently imaginatively titled 21 DOG YEARS) in early 2002. I'm very excited about the chance to expand and deepen the material--you can say a lot more in a book than you'd ever fit in 90 minutes on stage. As things develop I'll let you know.

�Interviews are like blind dates with a lower probability of sex.

�In the media: there show makes an appearance in this week's issue of NEWSWEEK, and the NEW YORK POST and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY are running stories on the book sale. Also, check out a radio story on NPR's MARKETPLACE, airing on April 9th, featuring clips from the show and an analysis of customer service culture.

�I'm working on a new show right now, called WHAT WAS LEARNED IN LONDON. I'm hoping to put it up midweek sometime in late April as a workshop--it'll be free, so people will be able to swing by and check it out.

�Benecio Del Toro goes by "Vincent Roach" when he's trying to be sneaky and use a pseudonym.

�I performed the show down in San Matteo last week for a gathering of venture capitalists and rich, rich investors. It was probably one of the strangest performance experience of my life, and I'll be posting an essay on it to soon.

Best wishes, take care and don't work too hard,