Monday, July 6, 2015

The Dalai Lama's 80th Birthday....

So I'm home now from helping celebrate the Dalai Lama's 80th birthday. Want to know how it went?

Onstage guests included Josh Radnor ("How I Met Your Mother,") Julia Ormond, Desmond Tutu's grandson, Wilmer Valderrama ("That 70s Show,") some 20-something Aussie musician (Cody Simpson), George Lopez (doing his usual schtick, bashing on Donald trump) Randy Jackson, and MC HAMMER (yes you read that right), who wore Stevie Wonder-grade sunglasses the whole time, and more. Two and a half hours of this michegoss before His Holiness said a single word.

And when he did speak, it was for 20 minutes.

After that, there was not a Q&A, but "a dialogue," in which these nitwits all spouted their opinions and were quick to point out what everyone else should be doing to save the world. I couldn't give two shits about their opinions; I was there to hear the Dalai Lama.

I did have to laugh, though, when George Lopez was complaining about all the criticism people were posting about him on the Internet, and asked the Dalai Lama (basically) what could be done to stop that. I wish with all my heart his Holiness had answered, "Well, maybe you should stop being a dick."

All in all, it was a bizarre and surreal experience. As each Z list non-celebrity took to the podium, I got more and more tempted to leave my seat and go up there myself. I'm sure I could have done a better job - and I'm more famous than at least half of them.

The whole wretched mess was emceed by Ann Curry, who kept saying stuff like, "of course you've seen the television show, 'How I Met Your Mother' or 'That 70s Show.'" Jesus GOD, I told myself, I certainly hope not!

The very last bit (it just wouldn't end) was basically a pole dance by the Lucent Dossier folk. An aerialist performed full-on stripper moves inside a giant lotus flower that hung 20 feet above the stage (and completely out of the Dalai Lama's sight line).

Hey, I guess after all is said and done, the man is still a man. And anybody who makes it to 80 deserves a little pole dance action if he wants it. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Nick Cave's The Sick Bag Song - What the hell happened?

An open letter to Nick Cave and the American Cinematheque

Hello Cinematheque staff -

Last night I attended the Nick Cave Sick Bag Song event at the Egyptian. As a dedicated fan, I jump on every chance I have to see him live, and was very excited about this event. I also love the Egyptian and get there as often as I can.

BOY was I ever disappointed. So much so that I feel the need to reach out to you.

From start to finish, the whole event was one Epic Failure.

1. Nick's headset mic failed completely, and the hand-held wasn't much better. Really? No sound check?

2. How on earth did you choose That Guy to interview Nick? That was by far the WORST "interview" I've seen. He just made a bunch of vague statements, leaving poor Nick to try to come up with "answers." It was pretty much, "Dude. I read your book. Awesome." Incredibly unprofessional. He was clearly unprepared. I was embarrassed for him and mortified for Nick.

3. The two videos - I liked the LA one, but the trailer for the book is posted on the Sick Bag Song website and can be seen for free. I didn't mind seeing it again, but when I realized it was one of only two videos, I started feeling a bit short-changed.

4. The Q&A - Have you never done a Q&A before? This was an even bigger mess than the rest of the evening, which is saying something. Eventually, two people with mics moved through the audience, but there was zero organization and a lot of wasted time. Here's some free advice on how to do a Q&A: BEFORE the show, have people write their questions cards (either while they wait in line or once they are in the lobby) and hand them in to staff. There was plenty of time for this last night. Your performer can review the questions, choose which he wants to answer, and maybe even prepare a bit. This eliminates the need for roving mics, repeated questions, and questions your subject doesn't want to answer. You're welcome.

5. The staging - I was seated in the fourth row and all I could see was the heads of the people in front of me. The seats sink very low (yes, this is great if you're watching a film), but you should have compensated for that by building a platform or riser so Nick and the interviewer sat high enough to actually get seen.

Honestly, I probably wouldn't be so vocal had this event cost $25. But it cost $65 (plus TicketBastard's usury fee). For that price you should have included a copy of the book (and/or put on a professional show).

And by the way, Nick had NO IDEA the book was on sale in the lobby. He talked a lot about how this was an experiment in publishing; that the book was ONLY available from the website - while members of the audience held freshly-purchased copies in their hands. Again, I was embarrassed for Nick. You made him look stupid - something I never thought possible.

The only moments of value in this very short event were Nick reading from the book and the LA video. I would have been much happier to see more of him reading, much less of him being interviewed (or him being interviewed by someone who knows how to do that), and a Q&A (if you must) as described above.

I've seen better-organized events at a junior high school. You should be ashamed.


Ruth Waytz