Friday, July 13, 2007

I think we have officially started a "feud"

With no introduction needed, let me reintroduce you to Mr. Chuck Gardener, irate member of the Iowa voting community, whom evidently believes himself besmirched by New York's very own Mr. Worthington. Take it away, Chuck:

"Dear NY Collective,

Evidently, judging from the recent letter you posted (which, I will truthfully admit seemed to be a bit of a reaction piece to my original note to you a couple of days back)(who knew I would be starting down this dark and twisty road?), I seem to have raised the spit-shined dander of many an Eton collar wearing New York Stork (yeah, that's an Iowa joke, and it would take too long to explain unless you live over here). Well, you know what? I'm not at all darned sorry I said what I said, and if the other gentleman seems to think that ONLY Iowa excels in exporting pig slop, then evidently he's not aware of how many copies of the New York Post your illustrious state pushes onto the other forty-nine every single day. And another thing, I guess because I didn't quote Shakespeare every other sentence, I must clearly be some sort of back-forty rube with at least two pitchforks (one for formal occasions) and a fire-engine red tractor. Well, that sounds like a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing, if you ask me. Here's the thing. Do you really know why the Iowa caucus matters? Because, as you may of guessed, us Iowans speak our mind and we're not afraid to wear our hearts on our flanneled sleeves (which, I hear, is going out of fashion in "other" parts of the country)(and by "other" I mean "probably the North East"). If a candidate can make the rounds through us and finish without looking like a total jackrabbit, he's got the gumption to take his tour to the rest of the country. He (or she) has been Iowa approved, and is all the better for it. You people in New York like metaphors, right? Makes things more like classic Victorian literature for you, right? How about this: imagine the American political process is a jeans manufacturing plant (one with competitive wages and the opportunity for advancement, of course). The Iowa caucus is the jeans inspector that takes the extra five minutes to check for stitching errors and then, knowing he has done his job right, puts a little piece of paper in the pocket so the consumer not only knows his jeans were inspected, but by whom. We give America that tangible piece of mind, we're that little piece of paper, we are Inspector #5. You take that system away, and you've got little rips and tears that, seemingly not a lot to deal with at first, turn into a hole filled pair of jeans that will split wide open the exact moment you take Sally-next-door to Prom and you're dancing the last night of the evening and she's about to tell you she loves you for the first time. Sally don't want to tell no one she loves them when their jeans split wide open on the dance floor. That just ain't American. In closing, yes, I don't read enough T.S. Eliot, but I will take the missus and go catch a showing of "Cats" when it comes into town. Catch my drift, Mr. New York City? Or was that too obtuse for you? I'm sure you'll let me know either way.

Faithfully Yours,

Chuck Gardener"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Shocking Rebuttal: NY Fights Back!

It seems as if our recent email from the heart of Iowa has prickled some sensitive nerves here in our home state of New York. Why just yesterday we received some more viewer (e)mail, this time from a gentleman who's calling out Chuck Gardener for his (quote) "fightin' words" (end quote). Are you as excited as I am?:

"Dear NY Collective for the Arts,

As a concerned, politically aware New Yorker, I must say I was greatly upset and unnerved by the recent post I read on your blog, by one Mr. Gardener. By the time I finished reading his drudgery and written bile, I had to quickly place my carafe of Chianti down on my crystal endtable, as my hand was shaking so from the injustice done to me. Perhaps I should list some facts of my own, to clear up this suddenly befogged issue. Simply put, regardless of all the weight and pomp you put on the Iowa Caucus, Mr. Gardener, one fact is immediately clear: roughly only 10% of Iowans actually vote in the caucus. A resounding majority of the people in your state have nothing to do with the great importance the rest of the country has thrown on top of them (as opposed to gently placed, of course). So really, we have a small minority of people in a state who's main export is pig refuse deciding the political fate of the entire nation. Honestly, does that sound right or correct to you? How did this unacceptable system come into fruitition? How has it survived the steadily changing political landscape? What can I do to stop this reign of terror? Yes, I've asked myself these questions many times, and when I read that odious letter from the heart of Iowa the other day, all those questions came rushing back, assailing my heart, body, and soul to the point where even the Times Op-Ed page couldn't soothe my troubled neves. At that point, I knew we as a country were in serious trouble. In closing, hopefully your play festival will help illuminate the troubled state of affairs that are going on in Iowa. Even if you hold a candlelight up to the problem, you can color me a vindicated citizen.

Most Respectfully Yours,

Richard X. Worthington"

Monday, July 9, 2007

News from the Trenches!

I was going to start off this entry with more boring information about caucuses (did you know the word "caucus" has the highest ratio of vowels to the letter "c" in the entire English language?), but luckily I don't have to, because, we unexpectedly received an email from a gentleman FROM Iowa yesterday, and well, why don't I just let him speak for himself:

" Dear Chris, Mark, or Mercedes (whichever one of you reads this first),

I came across your group the other day and thought I could actually add a level of actual information to your project. While you came up with a couple of fancy sounding facts and figures and wrote it in a fancy way, that's not at all the Iowa way of doing things. See, when I say something like: "Iowa has the third best cost of doing business in the US of A," I just say it. I don't need to dance around the point like it's May Day, and I'm dancing around a maypole with streamers in my hand. Bedazzled streamers, at that. What's that? How about another shot of the old Iowa spirit? Fine by me, partner. Did you know that Iowa is the sixth most livable state? Darn tootin'. It makes me quake in fear to think what the livability of your fancy North East states is. Fancy words can't cover up a lack of real community. Do you know that I know every single person that lives on my block? When someone makes a darn fool of himself by mowing his lawn on a Sunday, I know exactly who that fool is, and what he probably had for dinner the night before. Heck, I've probably got half my power tool set borrowed out at any given time. Are you that free-wheeling with your Complete Set of Keats or whatnot? Here's a tip: Get to know the man on the street, the man with watering his lawn with a good old fashioned watering hose, and you'll know the Iowa Caucus.

Your friend,

Chuck Gardener"

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Caucus By Any Other Name...

...probably wouldn't smell just as sweet. Sorry. Half the fun in going to a caucus is the fact that, yes, you get to stick it to someone by crowing that you're going to an event actually called a caucus. But, of course, I'm getting ahead of myself.

The prestigious research journal Wikipedia defines "Caucus" as "a meeting of supporters or members of a political party or movement" (can you tell we chose not to scrimp on our research budget?). But how did a word that describes such a normal everyday event come to be formed with such an irregular affinity for vowels and the letter "c"? While dark voodoo conjuring is definitely one of the Top 3 possible reasons why this might be, the actual root of the word allegedly derives itself from the dark witchcraft of the Algonquin Indians (just kidding!, I'm sure the witchcraft they practiced was perfectly on the up and up)(kidding again!, the term "Algonquin" wasn't even created until the 1930's when Dorthy Parker needed a new word to describe getting totally sloshed in a hotel restaurant bar before noon). Actually, the term "caucus" is believed to literally mean a gathering of ruling tribal chiefs.

But why listen to me, when you can hear it straight from this guy:

THE David Yepsen. Political consultant extraordinaire.

According to Yepsen (who once won second place in a jaw slackness contest), the Iowa caucus didn't become the hootenanny we love and appreciate today until 1972, when George McGovern was able to use a surprising win there to slingshot himself to the head of the candidate pack (this is much like the slingshot effect that the USS Enterprise used in Star Trek 4 to go back and forth through time)(but with a lot less whales). Since '72, the Iowa caucus has become THE definitive battleground for political hopefuls everywhere. Case in point, for the '88 election, the combined on-the-ground time in Iowa for all the candidates prior to the caucus tallied roughly 1000 days. It's foolish to even write it, but yes sir, that's a heck of a lot of days. And I shudder to think how many of those 1000 days were spent kissing babies (mainly for photo-op moments)(of course).

In the end, while I'm not sure what exact branches of science and mathematics Yepsen used to come up with these statistics, I know for a fact he's at least got a PhD in Jaw-ology, and that, my friends, is a satisfying credential enough for even the harshest of critics.

-Christopher Czyz, Assistant Director

And Now for a Word from the Directors

Participation is on our minds.

We are very excited to be participating in this year's New York Collective Ten Minute Play Festival and are thrilled to be collaborating with a truly outstanding group of writers, designers and actors. We are extremely grateful to Wayne Kasserman and Gibson Knott, the visionary and dynamic leaders of the Collective’s Theater wing, for giving us such an amazing opportunity. We are keenly interested in participating in this year's presidential election and have long been curious about the IOWA caucus and its unique position in the presidential nomination process. Our central curiosity -- who are these people who have so much influence on who the presidential nominees will be? All of us participating in IOWA 08 will attempt to answer this question by using the Iowa caucus as a backdrop to tell the story of a handful of Iowans.

Setting: in Iowa in a school gymnasium/polling station.
Time: Caucus time (needn't be present day)(needn't not be present day)

1. Iowa is first to vote and people seem to take participating in the process very seriously. (Or at least more seriously than most of the people I know).
2. The Iowa caucus matters. Over the years its caucuses have legitimized campaigns and candidates including Jimmy Carter (1976, seen as winner despite placing 2nd behind "Uncommitted") and George W. Bush (2000, records highest percentage ever in contested GOP caucus).
3. It is as All-American a state as you'll find. Its chief exports are tractors and pigs and is the birth place of John Wayne, "Buffalo Bill" Cody and Hebert Hoover, among others who seem to embody the very best and worst of what it means to be American.

Of course, we don't purport to be experts on the topic; we're interested observers trying our best to document this slice of American life. But don't take our word on it.


The success or failure of this blog depends on the you, the voice of the community, the ones with your ears down on the railroad track. Is it the Number 9 coming around the bend or a rampaging buffalo stampede? Hopefully, over the next couple of weeks, we'll be able to figure that out. Together.

-Mark & Mercedes

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Iowa 08

New York Collective for the Arts will drop . . .

July 19-29th at the Dimson Theater
108 E. 15th St, between Union Square East and Irving place.

Continuing to build on the success of our previous festivals and our 2006 New York debut, we will present a series of provocative, modern and timely plays performed by the most exciting talent in New York.
IOWA 08 focuses on the issues that will surround us in a volatile election year, centered around a state nestled securely in our nation's heartland. Once every four years, America turns to Iowa and its people for the earliest indication of who the presidential nominees will be. Who are these people, these Iowans, who vote first and have so much influence on the presidential nomination process? In anticipation of this crucial political season, the artists contributing to IOWA 08 seek to provide insight into the state and the personal nature and political leanings of its people

To purchase tickets click on the link to the right or call TheaterMania at 212-352-3101.