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Ten Years After

September 11th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

9/11 Lightbeams

Originally uploaded by Tim Sklyarov

Everyone who can remember September 11th, 2001 has a story. That includes me. I wasn’t in New York or DC or rural Pennsylvania, so mine’s not that dramatic. But if I went around trying to win suffering contests, I’d imagine that my life would look a lot different than it does now.

Both the phone and the electric company caught up to me on the morning of September 11th, 2001. I had a story due to at the time, a freelance project that had been filling a hole in my tattered writing income. I didn’t really need the electricity that morning anyway — I didn’t own a computer in the first place. I’d sneak into campus computer labs or squat at friend’s places when I had to, typing down handwritten notes in order to get the thing written as quickly and efficiently as possible.

So I did what I always did when the deadline was tight. I climbed out my bedroom window onto the row house roof and jimmied open my neighbor’ Kate’s office window with a credit card I didn’t deserve. Then I climbed in, turned on the dialup modem and made my final edits while the connection hissed and fused.

I sent the piece in and then cleaned her cat’s litter box to show both gratitude and penance. Then I called the office. Kate answered – she was a writer there. “Who is this?” she asked, recognizing her own number on her caller ID. “Uh, sorry” I said. “Listen, we’ll talk about this later. Turn the TV on, now,” she said, and hung up the phone.

I turned it on and watched a few minutes, trying to make sense out of it. Then the second plane hit and everyone in the world realized what really happened. A few seconds later, the station feed jumped to a scene from a Frank Zappa film. Cotton smoke boiled through a cheaply made model town, cars crashed into styrofoam gravestones and Zappa’s face hovered over top of it, grinning. Then whoever it was at the TV station fixed the problem and the news came back on.

I’m not sure if any other Richmonders saw that too, or not. I’ve never discussed it with anyone, actually. That was far from the strangest thing that happened that day and pointing it out never seemed that important.
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Talking About Willie at The Moth: Funk Like That Never Dies

July 30th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

I used to live in Richmond, Virginia, in a row house that was exactly the color of a bunch of dirty old Band-Aids. My rent was $175 per month, and a schizophrenic street mystic named Willie used to come over several times a week and demand to hear Rick James’ “Ghetto Life.” He and his lady would dance to it, over and over, all day long until we had to kick them out.

I told a story about the experience at The Moth at Housing Works Bookstore in SoHo, NYC back on June 23rd — you can see video of it here:

Willie is one of those rare people who is both a classic archetype and a completely unique individual. I can see how someone might see my story and think I’m reaching for this cartoonish stereotype of an older cracked-out street character, not unlike Chappelle’s Tyrone Biggums or Richard Pryor’s Mudbone. Except I’m white, too, and I worry sometimes that I could be perceived as indulging in a reductive racist stereotype on top of whatever else is going on in that story.

Then I think “fuck that, just because I’m white doesn’t mean I don’t get to have a real, complicated friendship with a black man who is literally too funky to function within mainstream society.” It really happened, you know. You change things around a little to make your memories fit a story arc, but Willie is real as hell.

Possibly too real.
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We Had Us A Show The Other Night

April 29th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

I would have mentioned this earlier, but I’ve been crippled with a bog monster infestation – a whole bunch of them set up shop in my sinus cavities and have been using my lungs as a fricking waterslide. I coughed so hard the other night that I think I gave myself a small hernia.

That’s got nothing to do with what I’m talking about here, though.

What I’m here to talk about is that we had us a show a few weeks back, and it went really well! I had a ton of fun, despite some really frustrating technical difficulties in the beginning.

The Kraine Theater is this dank, crumbling space in the East Village, the sort of place that feels like it’s haunted by a bunch of old men in long raincoats. It made a certain kind of sonic sense to hear someone kick over a beer bottle during the show, and when an old lady showed up in a sun hat with a Mike-Tyson face tattoo drawn on with eye liner, I wasn’t even surprised. OF COURSE we had one of those. It was that kind of show.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I still wanted to kick the wrinkles out of that old bat when she started heckling the comedian. I like weirdos in the audience and all, but I really prefer when they stay quiet.

Still, I had a ton of fun, and I’m pretty sure the crowd did, too.

I talked to the theater director about the show today, and I think we are going to start doing this quarterly.

One thing I know, though: we’re bringing this show up to Albany, NY in mid-August. We’ll be performing in Saint Joe’s Church, what appears to be this amazing crumbling cathedral in downtown Albany. I’d love to make a little tour out of it, maybe play in Boston, Providence, BUffalo, what have you. If any of you book shows in bars, clubs or theaters in that area and want some storytellers and burlesque people to come up, do please let me know.

And if you happened to be in the audience on Sunday, thank you so, so much for coming. It was a jam, for real.

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Screaming Rock Trailer for Sunday’s Show – Mildly NSFW

April 13th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

Look, I know I’m flogging this live show on Sunday pretty hard. But I’m really, really excited about it, and I think you guys should be, too.

Our good friend and fellow storyteller Tracy Rowland just made us a magnificent trailer for Sunday’s show, and I’d be remiss in my mission to promote awesomeness on the Internet if I didn’t share it here. There is some mild language, almost- nudity. Which is maybe a selling point:

And I Am Not Lying – LIVE! from And I Am Not Lying on Vimeo.

The music is by Richmond, VA sweatrock legends RPG, permission given by Matt Conner. Show info after the jump:
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The Ghostbusters Firehouse Is Right in Tribeca

April 11th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

The always-excellent ScoutingNY blog has an excellent post tracking down all of the exterior locations in Ghostbusters. I was pretty amazed to see that the firehouse that was the Ghostbusters’ home base is still functional, and just a few blocks from my gym — right there on the corner of North Moore and Varick Street.

Naturally, I went over there and took a few pics:

Ghostbusters Firehouse 1

Ghostbusters Firehouse 2

It’s still fully functional. I wonder how long it takes for the magic to wear off for the firefighters that get assigned there.

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A Giant Lizard Ate My Pants: “Into the Wild” on the Moth Podcast

February 27th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

I had the honor of performing in The Moth’s GrandSLAM back in January at the Highline Ballroom here in New York City. The night’s theme was “Into the Wild.” Naturally, I told another story about the brief period of time I spent working as an assistant to a kangaroo shooter in the Australian Outback.

I’ve been to that well before, and I think I’ve about beat that thing to death by now. Still, I’m glad I was able to squeeze another story out of it.

It’s not every day that a giant lizard tries to eat your blood-soaked pants. And the opportunity to talk about having a giant lizard steal my pants on a kangaroo shooting trip doesn’t really come up in conversation at the office all that much either.

So I’m really glad I got to use that little gem for something. I’ve probably forced it a few times too many over the years.

The Moth was awesome enough to include my story in their podcast today, too. I’ve wanted to make their podcast for years, and it’s a pretty huge honor. I feel like running down the hall at work high-fiving people, but I’m pretty sure that opportunity’s not going to present itself either.

Here’s a video of me telling that story from today’s Moth podcast at the January GrandSLAM, in case you’re stumbling in off the Internet and wondering if I am, in fact, a bald-headed white dude with glasses and a suit:

If you want to see more stories, you can do that here, here, and here.
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The Standard Issues Podcast volume 2

February 10th, 2011 by Brad Lawrence

A new episode of The Standard Issues podcast is up. This one features three stories from January’s live show at Pacific Standard in Brooklyn.

The theme was “Heat” and the performers were Jenna Brister, Miguel DeLeon, and Daisy Rosario. In this episode we learn that the reason Jenna is called Blue Thunder is very different from the rest of her fast pitch softball teammates. Miguel teaches us how to use the Scoville scale to measure anger, and Daisy explains why she never saw Darryl Strawberry hit a home run even though she attended a game where he hit two.

When I listen to a podcast there are two things I like most, that I think work the best. One is sitting in on a conversation and listening to people talk about something important to them, as in last week’s show. The other is shows recorded in front of a live audience, like this week’s show.

There is something about hearing the sounds of the audience as they react that makes you feel like you are in the room for the show, it makes the whole thing seem more immediate. That is why I hope that some of you can make these next couple of shows where we will be recording new episodes and be our next live audience.

The shows coming up are The Domino Effect at The Fifth Estate, 506 5th ave in Park Slope. That is on the 15th at 8 o’clock.

Then we have next Standard Issues live show, Pacific Standard, also in Park Slope at the corner of 4th Ave and Saint Marks, also at 8. That one will feature And I Am Not Lying’s creator and editor in chief, our J. Jonah Jameson if you will, Jeff Simmermon.

Now here is The Standard Issues Podcast, Volume 2.

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Wonder Woman: A How-To Guide for Little Jewish Girls

January 28th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

Cyndi’s taking a bit of a break from blogging here to do something a lot more intense, personal, gratifying and fantastic.

You may know her from the NYC burlesque scene as the fabulous Cherry Pitz — she does a spectacular routine with Vincent Price’s disembodied voice. (Link goes to video that may be considered unsafe for work, but inarguably awesome.)

Now she’s working on a one-woman show show that traces her journey from a little suburban Jewish girl obsessed with Wonder Woman to a fabulous burlesque Queen in NYC.

The show’s called Wonder Woman: A How-To Guide for Little Jewish Girls.

Wonder Woman - A How-To Guide for LIttle Jewish Girls
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Harryhausen’s Outback Showdown: Deliver or Die, Skippy

January 20th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon
Harryhausen's Outback Showdown

I’ve been writing and editing and re-writing my story for this Monday’s Moth GrandSLAM, just scribbling it over and over on a legal pad to make sure I’ve got it. The theme is “Into the Wild,” which poses a challenge. I’ve pretty much told and re-told what I like to think is a pretty solid story on that theme. I’ve told that thing right into the red dirt, to be honest. I’m sure my friends, family, and the odd person I am totally trying to impress is sick to their guts of it. I think I’ve worn a track in my brain from repeating it so damn much.

I got one of the best passive-aggressive guilt trips about this that I’ve ever had from anyone that wasn’t my own mother recently. She’s a great friend I met through the Moth, and when I suggested I wanted to visit that old incarnation of that story for the theme, she said “Yeah, I mean, you could do that. But if you won with it, I think you’d feel pretty cheap.”

She’s right. So I’m working on it, but brother, you never know you’ve got something until it’s over and done with. The challenge here is to find other material in that experience, stuff that didn’t make the first cut and massaging it into something brand-new.
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Hotsy Totsy Burlesque Presents: HARRY POTTER AND THE BOOBIES OF FIRE!

December 20th, 2010 by Brad Lawrence

Cherry Pitz and Joe the Shark are proud to present:

Hotsy Totsy Burlesque presents Harry Potter and the Boobies of Fire

Hotsy Totsy Burlesque is back with…


at The Delancey Lounge

Tuesday, Dec 21st – 9:30 PM – $8

168 Delancey Street, NYC (between Clinton and Attorney.) Map here. Just 2 blocks from the Delancey/Essex subway stop (F/J/M/Z) in Manhattan.

That’s right, Hotsy Totsy Burlesque is celebrating the holiday season with everyone’s favorite group of magical teens!

Will He Who Shall Not Be Named ruin Hannukah and Christmas for us?

Featuring Coney Island’s own ADAM ‘THE FIRST REAL MAN”

and more!

Check out the swell photos from our production of DR WHO BURLESQUE. And check out a great review of our DR WHO show @Vitamin C4.

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