Tuesday, August 31, 2021

On Regret

David and Mariah
(Kenston High School, 2001)
Twenty years ago this week, I began my tenure at Great Lakes Theater in the role which would define my life, that of an actor-teacher in the school residency program. I learned a great deal from my partner that first year. I once used the word “regret” and she said helpfully but absolutely that regret is useless.

And I’d never heard it stated so flatly like that. Regret is useless. It has no use. There is nothing to be gained from regret. You can learn from past mistakes, but regret is an emotion attached to these mistakes which serve no practical purpose. You are just feeling sorry for yourself.

When I departed Dobama Theatre, after only three years, I announced that I would attend grad school! Instead, I started Bad Epitaph Theater Company. I have regretted not attending grad school then. Why did I not attend grad school then?

I’ll tell you why. In order to attend grad school, and to be successful, I had to stop doing other things. And at the age of thirty I was not yet prepared to stop doing other things. I would have kept on doing other things, I would not have been focused. This was also true at the age of forty. 

There have always been other things I wanted to be doing. But I thought I should have been pursuing a Masters Degree. Even my own children know that there is no should.

I was not previously prepared to attend grad school. But when I turned fifty, I was. Why then? Who knows? Who cares? Let be.

Great Lakes Theater
Actor-Teachers 2021-2022

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Process XXXIV

Thursday evening writing desk.
(Parnell's Pub
on Playhouse Square)
Something new, something different: in-person classes. Only taking two courses this semester, each relating to my major, and both on the Cleveland State campus. We are wearing masks, we are small but mighty, sitting apart from each other. The difference is apparent -- cross-talk, sudden revelations suddenly shared, and that most spontaneous of human reaction, laughter. All of these things were absent from Zoom.

And now I am writing a play. Or at least, I have conceived of one, which is a good stretch better than where I was two days ago. I dropped this question on Facebook: What’s the worst thing you or someone you have worked with has done as a form of sabotage in your place of employment? As a result I received numerous responses which have become the basis of a new work.

There is a lot of reading I will need to do, and to do it every night. Starting tonight, I guess? Most of the texts we will be covering in Dramatic Structure I already own, so that’s convenient. A class on structure, the other a playwriting workshop. Convenient.

Question: What do you want this work to achieve? It is a commentary on the post-pandemic service class. On Monday night I had no idea how I was going to produce a one-page description of the play I intended to write within the next two weeks. Four days later I am confident I will have it complete by Sunday.

Meanwhile, Mark Ravenhill ("Shopping and Fucking") has taken it upon himself to offer a free masterclass in playwriting on Twitter, just dropping nuggets of wisdom several times a day. Each one is considerate and meaningful and often very, very challenging.

What is the nagging doubt in this play I am conceiving, the question that won't leave me alone? Currently it is merely a puzzle, but that's just the plot. What is the puzzle of the characters? I don't even know who they are yet.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Assessment

I’ve been high and I’ve been low,
And I don’t know where to go.

- The Godfathers, “Birth, School, Work, Death”
This used to be my plaground.
Late August is a time of stasis. It’s all about to happen, but nothing’s happening. We’re still in a pandemic, but we’re behaving as though we aren’t. Sure, we’re vaccinated. Went a few weeks not masked, the change for us came during our trip to Maine this year. Drove up not wearing them, came back wearing them.

That was almost a month ago.

Drove the eldest to school last weekend, a transition made all the more surreal by a two days blackout just prior to our departure. Fortunately, they are always well-prepared and had had most of their packing done before the power went out. Imagine last minute preparation in the hot and dark.

But where am I? Where are we now? As they are attending Ohio University, my alma mater, I have had nostalgic memories rattling around my head, not all good ones. Mostly not good ones. Also, shocked to discover they’re tearing down all the dorms on (old) New South Green. Just as well, I guess. It’s like a graveyard to me.

Anyway, I was thinking of the aforequoted song by the Godfathers, their only single, really. It slaps (as the kids say) but the lyrics are terrible.

Less writing. More reading.
BIRTH


I have not been writing. Like, not at all. For six hundred days I wrote every single morning, and then I stopped. It’s like it never happened. I am not down on myself about this, but it is a lesson, for anyone about anything. You can maintain a process. And the process continues as long as you maintain it. You can resume when you are ready, you are also welcome to stop. No one judges you, and it is best not to judge yourself.

It has been a summer for other things.

SCHOOL

I have found it necessary to adjust my status as a student, which is disappointing. I won’t be taking a full course load this semester, only two classes, both in playwriting. This is good, in so much as that is my major, but I was hoping to continue expanding my literary knowledge and experience.

The workshop starts tomorrow night. An in-person class! It has all been on Zoom since I began last fall. We are expected to create entirely new work. I was planning to take this as an opportunity to develop a previous manuscript, but I am going to meet the challenge with positivity because that is why I am here. To do something new.

Last week's joke.
The fact that I have no idea where to start is daunting, but that’s hardly unusual.

WORK

March 2020 broke with all that was normal as all in-person events, of any kind, were abruptly canceled and after a brief respite we tried to figure out what we were going to do in the interregnum. This time last year we were in the planning stages to create interactive, asynchronous videos to market to schools in place of the residency program.

Next week a new slate of actor-teachers will come together as we last did two years ago, as I first did twenty years ago, to learn lesson plans to bring into schools across northeast Ohio. But we will take precautions. Masks and sanitizer. Open windows. And figure out how to stage scene work without contact.

We know things aren’t normal. We aren’t pretending that they are. We are trying to move forward and do our work without getting sick.

Please don't kill me.
DEATH


I have developed what I find an unhealthy preoccupation with death. I started when mother started ailing, it passed for a while after she passed but it hasn’t entirely gone away. I have become much more attentive to every aspect of my health, getting regular physicals, and trying to eat better and to exercise. It’s all you can possibly do, what is in your control.

I choose to run, while I can still run. I still keep a running blog, I have logged every single run I have taken for fifteen years. The wife says I need more upper body work, and she’s right. But just stepping out into the world is a blessing, that I can still do this. Who knows how much longer I can run. Twenty years? Ten? Five?

On Friday I was feeling low, and motivated myself to take a late afternoon run. And it was a good decision. It was hot, yes, and humid. But that doesn’t bother me, I like it. I ran through the city, stopping at every intersection, giving berth to the pedestrians walking to and from the Greek Festival on Mayfield

A block from my house I spotted a car coming slowly to a stop at an intersection and I waved as I began to run into the street. But they hadn’t seen me, they just rolled to a soft stop and sped up again, missing me by a couple feet.

I wonder how I will die. It may be a long time from now. It might be tonight.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Rememberings (book)

“Everyone wants a pop star, see? But I am a protest singer.” 
- Shuhada Sadaqat (Sinéad O'Connor, Rememberings)
Pengo's 2021 Summer Book Club

Thoughts Upon Reading:

Friday, August 6

We were aware of her immediately, late 1987. That one, with the impossibly huge eyes, shaved head, beautiful and aggressive Irish voice. Troy was about desire, heartbreak ... was it also about abuse?

The inside back cover is shocking. Fashion photos from the before, her dark bob of hair, the sexy poses. Not the person I know. The one who destroyed her career in a flash on live television. The one who was Peter Gabriel’s plaything at WOMAD. Vulnerable, fierce, and quite possibly insane.

Saturday, August 7

Sinéad O'Connor, now Shuhada Sadaqat, the legend: I had conflated two stories I had read about her, though they amount to the same thing. I was given to understand she had originally shaved her head, just prior to promoting her first album, because management insisted she get an abortion.

Well, she split with her management, and her entire production team, because of this insistence. She’s already shaved her head when they pressed her to dress more feminine; short skirts and to let her hair grow.

In either case, it speaks to men telling women what to do, and she just said fuck that.

(I will continue to refer to her here as O’Connor as that is her stage name, and her name on the book. When she refers to herself professionally as Sadaqat, I will call her that.)

Sunday, August 8

The assumption was that people who have been the object of abuse are “messed up.” That they have been damaged and therefore have been twisted in the manner in which they engage with the world.

She very clearly describes that they are instead those who can clearly see the world as it truly is, while those of us fortunate enough never to have been dominated or traumatized by anyone, ever, we are the ones with a narrow, fuzzy view of the world and how it works.

O’Connor’s story is a search for being, it is not a rock and roll memoir. There are a few passages about how she “achieves fame” but in fact she makes it sound completely arbitrary, which is the point. Success is arbitrary, abuse is also arbitrary. Those who we see as stars and those we see as victims, neither have done anything particular to deserve their position.  

"The Lion and the Cobra" (1987)
Americans were provided a docile image.
Monday, August 9

Less than a year after she ripped up a photo of John Paul II on SNL, I was surprised to see O’Connor onstage with Peter Gabriel at the WOMAD Festival in Columbus. She had just recorded a duet with him on his most recent album. But you don’t expect to see such high-profile singers accompanying other artists just to do that one song.

But there she was, singing back-up for Peter Gabriel. She sang her part for The Blood of Eden and the vocal for Don’t Give Up which had been recorded by Kate Bush.

It was apparent from the audience, both in the way that she looked at him, and also in the stupid, arrogant manner her was strutting around her during Sledgehammer that they were having some kind of affair. His crotch-thrusting act during that song was particularly embarrassing. He was trying to play it as a joke, but it still seemed territorial. “Hi, everybody! I’m fucking Sinead O’Connor."

He was 43. She was 26. I was 25.

I was not surprised to discover that he was less than serious about their relationship. I’ve been listening to his stuff recently and I’m not sure it holds up. I used to idolize that guy.

Incognito, trolling a protest ⁠— against her.
Tuesday, August 10


It has always bothered me, from the first time I heard it, that Bono introduces the live version of Sunday Bloody Sunday by saying “This is not a rebel song.”

Isn’t it? You evoke a specific instance of Imperial British aggression against a Republican Irish protest, but it’s not a song criticizing British colonial oppression? Is it not a protest song? What is it, then? It’s just a song against violence, in general. Violence is bad. Boo, violence. 

Ok, Bono.

O’Connor has never had such qualms. She once wrote and recorded a song called This Is a Rebel Song because she also believes Bono to be a dithering twerp. She describes herself as a punk, a punk with an agenda, as all true punks have, to call out the abuses of an authoritarian system where she sees them.

In 1992, she was banned “for life” from NBC for her naming of the Catholic Church as the enabler of a system of child abuse. In 2016, the movie Spotlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture for doing the exact same thing.

Her voice, whether she be whispering or screaming, has cut a path through my adult life. I always recognize it, even when she is singing in support of someone else. The later chapters of the book detail the significance of her more recent work, albums with which I had not been familiar. I have been listening to them as I have been reading. 

The sound of her voice has become so familiar to me, like she’s someone I went to school with. In a way, I guess she was.

Monday, August 9, 2021

How I Spent My Summer (2021)

Progressive Field
How is the summer over? I mean, I know how. I was aware its speed while it was happening. And I wasn’t even doing much … only I was doing a lot, as compared to last year.

The summer began, for me, with an outdoor orchestra performance in front of the high school. The only live musical performance of the school year, and the last for our eldest. It was a perfect evening, and the conclusion to a terrible year, as we sat out on blankets and chairs and enjoyed their work. After there was a lot of cautious meeting and greeting between friends and family who hadn’t spent any time in each other’s company for over a year.

The boy had a gig at the Beachland Ballroom with the School of Rock, the “Relativity” show featuring acts that included siblings and other family members. All were asked to arrive masked, and we were escorted to tables and asked not to mingle. Plexiglass separated the tables. But it was a live, indoor performance and I was reminded of the Mike Doughty gig my son and I had attended in late 2019. That was the last time I had been in that room.

He was the drummer as they played Champagne Supernova by Oasis and if I say I hated myself for crying, it’s only because Noel Gallagher is such a dick. 



The kids have been very busy all summer, our eldest, they, have a job serving at a local restaurant, while our youngest, he, has been assisting a landscaper. Speaking of landscaping, we finally had the patio put in in the backyard, something we had hoped to do last summer. There have been a few gatherings and firebowls and it’s so nice to have people over.

"In the Heights"
While live, outdoor theater has resumed I haven’t been able to attend too much of it. I took the boy to see Panther Women under a huge tent at Cleveland Public Theatre. Every seat was taken. Our first live theatrical performance, for so many of us, it was a powerful evening in more ways than one. 

But David, what about your professional life? How is the writing going? Good questions, all, and not much to report. Sherlock Holmes Meets the Bully of Baker Street has been published by Pioneer Drama, and I have already started to hear from interested schools! Vivid Stage in Summit, NJ (formerly Dreamcatcher Rep) presented an outdoor, staged reading of I Hate This, interpreted by Jason Szamreta. And the writing ... happened. It's cool. We'll get there.

A friend wanted to unload some of the Cleveland baseball tickets, so we bought them. Four dates at Progressive Field. They hadn’t announced the new name when we attended in July, at our first game everyone was handed a free, commemorative Bob Feller jersey. It doesn’t say Feller, but it has a number “19” on the back and CLEVELAND on the front. And I like it that way. 

I love this woman.
There were also summer movies -- at a movie theater! I took one of the kids to see In the Heights, then a few days later I took the other one. And the wife and I saw Summer of Soul, which you can see on Hulu but it's so much better on the big screen.

July was very busy with work, for everyone, concluding with our annual journey to Flood’s Cove, Maine. The four of us made the journey, in one car. The first night of our drive there we stayed in a hotel and took advantage of the pool. The only people in there that night, the family played Marco Polo. It was like they were small again.

As our eldest makes their way to college this coming weekend, I wonder how many more journeys we all have together. As the Delta variant does its damage, I also wonder whether this summer has only been a brief reprieve and if the worst is yet to come.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

To Maine By Canada (1996)

Emily Grotz & Kiernan Danaan
"Aquitania"
Camden Shakespeare Festival (2021)
Last week, we did something we have never done before, in a lifetime of vacations in Coastal Maine.

Went to see a play.

The Camden Shakespeare Company in cooperation with Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble is producing Aquitania, written and directed by Stephen Legawiec, and one of the featured singers is going to be a new actor-teacher with Great Lakes this fall. It was an opportunity I did not want to miss, having long considered checking out the company’s work, which is presented on a beautiful lawn behind the charming Camden Public Library and a short walk to the harbor.

We generally prefer to stick close to the cove. That is, after all, why we go there. To hide from everything for a little while, and theater is my job. But I was delighted by the performance, my son was too. A witty, punny, fanciful production with some lovely music and good laughs.

There’s a couple ways to get to Maine from Ohio. You could take the Massachusetts Turnpike, as we did this year, though it does have its problems because it is in Massachusetts. One option that was not open to us this year was to travel through Canada.

My parents took us that way in 1976, though I barely remember it as Dad liked to drive through without stopping very much. We took the scenic route by Niagara Falls, without getting out of the car.

Six years ago, we took the kids and made a time of it, overnighting at Niagara and spending several days in Montreal. That was a magical week.

Twenty-five years ago this week, my wife and I returned from our second road trip together, through Niagara, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City, on our way to Friendship. There was an Olympics going on that summer, too. Our first day on the road in late July, the papers were reporting on the pipe bombing in Centennial Park, and the TWA 800 crash. 

This trip was my first real break from work in a year. And it had been quite a year, concluding my first season with Dobama's Night Kitchen. A third iteration of The Realistic World was have an extended summer run as we traveled, and while I looked forward to sightseeing and relaxation, just as I had during our drive through the midwest in 1995, I was also keeping my eyes open for new ideas.

“Clouds” in Toronto


You may find this hard to believe, but this member of Generation X did not own a pair of Doc Martens until he was twenty-eight. True story.

In Toronto we bought several pairs of shoes, and also took in a show. The Ancient Comic Opera Company was presenting an original adaptation of Aristophanes' Clouds at the 106-seat Poor Alex Theatre. From my travel journal:
Tuesday, July 30, 1996 - Toronto
“I want a theatre that size. I also want to dedicate more of my time to writing plays … I think I’d rather leave directing to others.”
Huh. Wish I'd kept that thought.

Enjoying a fifteen month run, the text for Clouds was freely translated by Greg Robic, ACOC Artistic Director and it was drop-dead hilarious. Faithful to the plot of the ancient Greek original, it had elements of Forbidden Broadway and also Tom Lehrer, incorporating familiar music by Gilbert and Sullivan, Wagner, Rachmaninov, Mozart, and several others.

This take on the corrupt influences of that scoundrel Socrates (they mistrusted teachers even 2,400 years ago) included songs with titles like “Strepsiades In the Night” and “No Cockfights Today” and a rousing direct address to the audience to support independent theater, eschewing those Broadway shows that had been running in the city for years. They closed the first act waving a flag with a picture of a French orphan on it.

After the performance I met the playwright — Robic, not Aristophanes. He said he also had a one act version of Lysistrata that used to run as a midnight show which he was planning to expand into a full-length. Instead, he pursued an education in Japanese theater and is currently a Rakugo storytelling in New York City, working under the name Katsura Sunshine.

A week or so later I would pick up a copy of Lysistrata in a used book store in Camden, Maine. This experience and that book would lead to my directing Lysistrata at Bad Epitaph (featuring original songs by Dennis Yurich) in the year 2000.

Tu voulais le meilleur, tu as le meilleur.
Montreal: KISS and make-up


Montreal was a revelation, like a dream where you discover there is an entire carnival lurking in a room in your house you didn’t even know you had — it’s right there, waiting for Americans to discover. We loved our brief moment here so much we got an AirBnB with the kids in 2015 and stayed several days.

Strolling past an HMV (that’s what we used to call a record store) we noticed some kind of concert going on, and ducked in. KISS was going to perform in the city in a couple days, and the place was hosting a lip-sync contest. One band was particularly excellent and when I asked if I could take a photo they insisted it include “my woman.”

Listening to these guys in KISS make-up switching between perfect English with us and French among themselves was a bit of a mindfuck. So, too, was something we spotted across the street from a cafe where we were dining al fresco.
Thursday, August 1, 1996 - Montreal
“Toni noticed a crowd gathered around a life-size statue of a clown holding a book. It was a bronze statue and Toni wondered what little purveyor of Montreal children’s mirth it was dedicated to. When we got closer, we saw it move!”
As you can tell, we had never seen a “living statue” busker before. Having seen dozens since, I sincerely believe this guy was the best. Not only did his make-up and costume and prop have the patina of aged and weather-worn bronze, he had these little bells which emphasized his movement — when you put something in his hat he would do a brief routine — which lent to the illusion that he was a truly mechanical automaton.

We watched him for an hour as we ate and relaxed. Crowds would build and with all the coins being tossed into his hat he might be moving non-stop for a short while. As fewer people were contributing he would come to a stand-still and folks would drift away and he would be still for several minutes with folks coming and going. Pedestrians would walk past, not even noticing him, until a curious soul would put a coin in the hat full of money and the cycle would start all over again. One old man even exclaimed, “Oh, my GOD!”

Yes, I know. It’s just a living statue, or as they referred to it in Hot Fuzz, the “extremely irritating living statue.” Having noticed this one, I saw several more before we left the country. But you never forget your first, you know?

Don't blink.
Friendship: Hamlets


Arriving in Flood’s Cove, I shared with the woman whom I would later marry this important corner of my family history. We joined my brother and his girlfriend, my parents and my grandfather for some long, leisure hours on the coast.

The day before my father’s birthday I had something of a belated birthday party with cake and gifts. Dad presented me with Mary Maher’s book, Modern Hamlets and Their Soliloquies, in which she describes several important 20th century productions concentrating on how each performer tackled one of the pivotal speeches. The book includes interviews with such Hamlets as Derek Jacobi, David Warner, Kevin Kline, and Ben Kingsley.

I had enjoyed Hamlet in the past, we had even seen Ralph Fiennes play him on Broadway the year before. But it was this book that set me down a path I would travel for some time.
Sunday, August 4, 1996 - Friendship
“Reading this, reading how the great acting men of this century tackled what some feel is theater’s greatest role (if not play) makes me long for directing Shakespeare. R&J was difficult. Hamlet would be more so, but I would like to try.”
By the next day I was already making notes.
  • Re-read this book.
  • Re-read Gielgud’s book.
  • The David Warner chapter.
  • The bit in the Kinsley chapter, about the director throwing the characters a party, a real party, with drinks and cake and paper hats.
  • Been toying with the idea of “to be or not to be” sitting next to an audience member, asking them to speak right to them, or getting them to say it, getting everyone to say it.
  • Modern dress can be so much fun.
  • Check all extant records for the other (“bad”) lines. They exist because someone, somewhere, remembered them that way.
Within three years, I would direct Hamlet. Seven years after that, I directed it again. Thanks for the book, Dad.

Source:
Canadian rakugo storyteller keeps dream alive in NYC by Matthew Carland, Kyodo News (10/5/2019) 

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Music Television: Forty Years On

"Are we living in a land
Where sex and horror are the new gods?"

- Frankie Goes to Hollywood, “Two Tribes”
Forty years ago today, at 12:01 AM on August 1, 1981, MTV went on the air. We didn’t get our MTV until early 1983, but its influence was already being felt as HBO (Video Jukebox), NBC (Friday Night Videos) and other networks sought to capitalize on all the new material that was suddenly being generated to feed this new medium.

A short list of songs that were featured during the first twenty-four hours of MTV might seem confusing as it’s not very “80s” but then, what would you expect. They could only play what was available, and the 1980s hadn’t really started, anyway.

 
Why so many Rod Stewart videos? It’s weird.

The major impact of MTV, as I saw it, was the mainstreaming of non-traditional culture. Even as America was course-correcting from decades of increasing liberalism into a decades-long slide back into Puritanical conservative authoritarianism, young citizens dwelling away from the coasts were suddenly exposed to a non-stop Weimar Republic cabaret of sex, androgyny and synth.

Even those elements of pop culture that eventually made their way to the Midwest, used to take months or years to reach us. Commercial television was never very good at pushing trends, only reflecting them, and the internet was a long way off. Suddenly, we were receiving the avant-garde in real-time.

"Girls On Film" (1981)
Duran Duran
There are those who argue that music videos promoted vapid music in favor of attractive imagery. But how any artists who flourished in those first years were inarguable music geniuses whose identity were as visual as musical? David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Talking Heads, Prince – you can listen to their music on its own, it’s brilliant. But it would be a different world without their videos.

Even MTV had to cleave to arbitrary social mores. They censored several videos due to nipples. Blurring the double bass drums in the Tubes clip for She’s a Beauty or zooming to focus on faces, creating fuzzy moments in the Golden Earring video Twilight Zone. No tits, please, we’re American.

Three music videos stand out to me as iconic, specifically because they were edited for broadcast or just not scheduled for broadcast. I hesitate to use the word “censored” because only a government can do that. But the short film which accompanied each songs – songs I would have been listening to regardless – were inspirational to me, for better or worse.

The first, the clip for Girls On Film by Duran Duran and directed by Godley and Creme, a racy piece of work in which the band is depicted playing in the background as staged performances of scantily clad women sumo wrestling men, massaging men, and playing wading pool drowning for a lifeguard.

While this is all presented to satisfy the male gaze, in each case she entirely dominates he, in the last instance leaving the lifeguard unconscious one-inch underwater.

This piece was edited, shadowing, obscuring, or editing skin. The original version had been shown in clubs and on the BBC, but as I learned reading Annie Zaleski’s book on Duran Duran, when it came to releasing it for home video, they actually added additional, provocative material. I thought I was purchasing something I hadn’t been allowed to see on MTV, while what I was really getting was something that had never been broadcast anywhere.

"Relax" (1984)
Frankie Goes to Hollywood
 
The video for Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood wasn’t just edited, MTV insisted upon a completely different video or they wouldn’t play it. We got what must have been an intentionally boring video of singer Holly Johnson toying about with the “laser beams” from the lyrics in order to shield the American public from the original clip, directed by Bernard Rose, which featured an orgiastic brawl in a gay bar.

The thing about FGTH was this … for a few years we had all been playing the androgyny thing. Many gay anthems of the early 1980s are couched in vagueness. We could pretend George Michael was into those girls, and that Boy George was just an act. Because they didn’t come right out and say it, in their lyrics or during interviews.

But Frankie was up front about it, and that meant we had to choose. Not whether we were straight or gay, you can’t choose that, but were we going to open ourselves to the difference?

You could rent the Duran Duran video from the local store and I did, several times. I had to order and purchase the Frankie Goes to Hollywood VHS. Almost ten years later you couldn’t even buy the Nine Inch Nails video “album” Broken, it was a widely-distributed bootleg recording of a simulated snuff film that Trent Reznor commissioned but never released.

Included on the many-times dubbed-over copy I picked up at Record Rev was the video for Happiness in Slavery, directed by Jon Reiss. The supposed “single” from the new EP (no commercial station in Cleveland would play that song nor any other from the record) the clip presupposed censorship and Reznor didn’t provide any alternative for the song until the Woodstock ’94 live performance version.

"Happiness In Slavery" (1992)
Nine Inch Nails
Performance artist Bob Flanagan stars in this darkly hilarious scene, filmed in black and white. A mockery of faith and trust, Flanagan enters a room, lights a candle, strips naked and voluntarily sets himself into a machine that tortures, rapes and disembowels him before grinding up and shitting out his corpse.

Why is that funny? No idea. I can’t remember, it sounds horrible. But there was something deeply troubled in my soul in my mid-20s and I had to see it. By the 1990s music videos were beside the point and MTV was already in the process of transitioning from those to original, episodic reality-based programming.

Which means of course, the only people who bemoan the fact that MTV no longer plays videos must be well over forty themselves. They don’t actually wish MTV was still playing music videos 24 hours day – they wouldn’t like what they’d be seeing.

To put it another way: No one misses music videos on MTV, they miss the person they were way back when they watched music videos on MTV.