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I Am Not Hanging Out with Wild Mountain Gorillas, No Matter How Cute They Are!

January 30th, 2012 by Cyndi Freeman

One of the latest viral videos is of happy gorillas in the jungles of Uganda taking in a tourist as one of their own. Now this is an amazing video, so sweet, so heart-warming, and it got me cruising YouTube for gorilla videos – and there are plenty. That being said, I am personally not going to be hanging with the Wild Mountain Gorillas.

I am not saying you shouldn’t hang with wild gorillas –  if you want to. Go ahead, it looks like fun.

It is just that they are both intelligent and they are wild animals, plus they have ideas on how things should go.

*Note to self – do not take your pet baby orphan gorilla into the jungle.

Personally I think I understand gorilla culture and etiquette, as it looks a bit like the culture and etiquette in my family. But as my husband knows, I avoid hanging with my family because they behave like mountain gorillas. They are cute and cuddly until you challenge them. You never quite know what you said that got them all riled up, all you know is that they are suddenly screaming and somehow its your fault …

Also a Safari into the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda is like $300 a day, and I’d like to see what $300 a day could get me in Vegas.

I know that someone reading this might be thinking, “but  - but –  but….have you seen Koko the talking Gorilla who speaks sign language? Bill Shatner has!”

And I say to the imaginary Koko loving person in my head, “Oh yeah but what about the story of the Petronella Yvonne de Horde, she loved gorillas! She was convinced that the Gorilla named Bokito, who lived at the local zoo in Rotterdam was her friend…and so she went to visit him almost every day.  She would make kissy faces at him and he would make what she thought was kissy faces back….

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See-Through Jukebox at the Black Cat

November 11th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

I love jukeboxes – pack ‘em right and everyone in the bar’s a pretty good DJ, all night long.

The jukebox at Washington DC’s Black Cat is out of order. Or, it’s out of order as a jukebox – it works just fine as a multi-disc CD player, stuck on shuffle. Someone took the protective covering out from under the glass on the front, and you can see right into its guts. It’s pretty beautiful, I think.

I took this photo with TrueHDR via a wide-angle lens stuck to the front of my iPhone 4, then ran it through the Photoshop app and some other stuff to get this image:

BlackCat_jukebox

Archives Posts

Followup to DC, Philadelphia Shows: The Meat Rots Fast Off A Big, Fat Kill

November 8th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

Man, am I beat. In case you hadn’t noticed, we had two shows outside New York City last week. I’ve been consumed with them for months, and we’ve all been super excited. And that excitement pretty much paid off, too.

The bus ride down to Washington from New York was pretty uneventful. The cab ride to Eric and Sarah’s (our hosts for the evening) was another story. That was when I found out that we’d sold out the Black Cat.

It’s really, really difficult to articulate what that felt like. Everything got brighter, sharper. Sounds had more clarity, and all the hairs in my nostrils stuck out straight. I think my metabolism tripled. We all had a belt of bourbon before going down to the club, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that it burned up before it got all the way through the esophagus.

I’d been getting a cold, and my body did this incredibly strange thing. First, it fast-forwarded through the generative stage of the cold, stuff running out of my head like a child had salted a slug’s nest in my brain.

Then when we got to the club and literally had to walk through a small crowd of total strangers to see this sign on the door, everything just stopped completely:

photo.JPG

The cold dried up. My body paused it completely, put the whole thing on layaway.
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And I Am Not Lying: Storytelling, Comedy and Burlesque at L’etage in Philadelphia

November 5th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

So it’s the night before our And I Am Not Lying – Live show in Philadelphia, and I’m antsy. We’re bringing this storytelling, comedy and burlesque gig to L’etage tomorrow night and I’m really hoping that folks turn out.

Here’s a little flyer:

L'EtageUPDATE

Here are the details:

  • Show’s at L’etage, (6th St and Bainbridge St.)
  • Doors at 7:30, show starts at 8PM prompt.
  • It’s $12 at the door.

You’ll see:

Brad, Cyndi, ****** and I all met as regulars at story slams with The Moth in New York. Brad and ****** have won their share of Grand Slams, and Brad, ****** and I have all appeared on the Moth’s podcast. I was on This American Life a while back, and was featured on The Moth’s Radio Hour recently, too. Cyndi’s an accomplished storyteller fresh off her show “Wonder Woman: A How-To Guide for Little Jewish Girls.”

And just last week, we added Philadelphia comedian Doogie Horner to the bill, too.

I’m pretty stoked to meet him – the guy is really funny! In addition to performing on America’s Got Talent (I know), he’s a graphic designer by day — and actually designed the cover to “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Philadelphia Magazine called him the “Most Hilarious Guy in Philly,” and they may be right:

Hope you can make it.

Archives Posts

I Hope the Walls Stay Dry: And I Am Not Lying Live at The Black Cat in Washington, DC.

October 24th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

On Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011, I am going to be performing along with my troupe of storytellers and burlesque performers at the Black Cat in Washington, DC.

It’s going to be me (Jeff Simmermon) as a storyteller, along with And I Am Not Lying members Cyndi Freeman and Brad Lawrence, along with additional burlesque by Runaround Sue and Cyndi Freeman as Cherry Pitz. Tickets are $12, show starts at 8PM.

You can get those tickets here: And I Am Not Lying: A Night of Storytelling, Comedy, and Burlesque

This is a cool trailer that our generous, warm and talented friend Tracy Rowland cut together for us. If you happen to write a blog or want to shout it out loud on any sort of social platform that you fancy, do please go right ahead:

And I honestly cannot believe that I just standing here in my office, typing this like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

We used to sneak off to the Black Cat in high school and college all the time, to pretty much see everybody. It was the beacon on the hill, the magnet in the big city that produced Bad Brains, Fugazi, Nation of Ulysses and God knows how many other bands — many of which contained my friends that I secretly admired but never told because I was so jealous — and sucked me right up there. I hung out there all the time in the years that I lived in DC, and now I’m thrilled and terrified to be a tiny part of the continuum that made me.

Imagine if you ate at incredible potlucks for your entire life, full of incredible, nourishing delicious everything you could possibly imagine and then found all these new things you didn’t ever know existed but blew your mind apart all the same.

When it comes your turn to put a dish on the table, you just really hope it doesn’t make people barf on the walls, is all I’m saying.

I am nervous enough to barf on the walls right now. I started this blog in Washington, DC as well, and it’s going to be a pretty weird homecoming.

I made this fun little flyer to promote the show, too. Just go right ahead and post that on your social platforms as well:

And I Am Not Lying at the Black Cat

I sure hope you folks can make it.

Archives Posts

Meet the Jersey City Pimp

August 4th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

This is the Jersey City Pimp:

Jersey City Pimp

I saw him on the PATH Train a few weeks ago. I don’t see him that often, but he’s not like, white buffalo rare. A JC Pimp sighting brings you goodluck, but it’s rapidly expended: you get the privilege of seeing him. That’s good enough. I have no idea what this guy’s name is, or what he does, or how he afoords those suits that make him look like Flavor Flav starring in a remake of “The Mask.” But he’s probably not a real pimp, like that other guy in Jersey City.

People in Jersey City try to photograph him, and they track sightings on the JC List. I saw him on the train once, wearing a floor-length faux-raccoon fur coat and a fedora covered in matching fur. I asked him if I could take his picture, and he waved me off, muttering “no pictures, no pictures.”

It’s fascinating to me, that someone could want to draw so much attention to themselves in one way — and so little in another. He’s not exactly trying to blend in.

Archives Posts

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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Surf’s Up: Permanent Summer in an Abandoned Refrigerator

February 23rd, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

A little bubble of summer weather surfaced just after Thanksgiving in Jersey City, late enough to be a treat but not so out of place that the guy on the corner in the velour tracksuit with a cigar would make a little global warming joke about it.

I’d just walked up the street to see DeCarlos about a suit he was working on for me. When I walked up the sidewalk, it was completely clear. Fifteen minutes later, this fridge appeared in the sidewalk, maybe coalesced out of some swirling dirty plastic vapors or something. It had no front door, nothing in it except for this one PBR gleaming in the freezer compartment:

photo.jpg

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Tracy Rowland’s Return to Standard Issues Storytelling

November 16th, 2010 by Brad Lawrence

I was trying to get Tracy Rowland for Standard Issues from the moment we started the show, but she always had some conflict, like moving to LA. Then that cleared up and now she is back on the correct coast and here she is from our latest Standard Issues show.

In this story, Tracy like so many American girls abroad, accrues some very strange bedfellows.

In related, but more self-promoting news. I am currently experimenting with travel essay over on my blog so have a look.

Archives Posts

It’s Not Just a Blog, It’s an Adventure: We’re Turning This Into a Live Show

August 31st, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon



Subway Poster 092907

Originally uploaded by chinese_fashion

I started this blog back in 2005. At the time I figured that if I just kept banging on my laptop, eventually someone would recognize my nascent brilliance and offer me a sack of money. That person would also be able to reach through a hole in time and pull out a finished copy of a book, by me, and drop it on the desk next to the money.

Then I’d never have to work pouring concrete driveways or slinging pizzas ever again. While it’s true that I stopped working in both the concrete and pizza industries shortly after starting this blog, the rest turned out a little differently. I haven’t seen a fricking dime of profit from this thing, and nobody’s offered to turn this into a book. Apparently, to write a book you have to do something more than just type whenever you feel like it.

Here’s the thing: while I’ve always wanted to be a writer, I’ve also always wanted to be in a rock band. My early efforts in that regard were similarly misguided. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from storytelling, it’s that making a crowd feel something I’ve written — like a whole, big, crowded rock club — that ‘s pretty much the best feeling in the world. If you could chop up the laughter of several hundred strangers and line it up on a mirror, cocaine would go out of business and the would be no more killing in Mexico.

I was reading “Our Band Could Be Your Life” on the subway a few weeks ago and it hit me like Galileo’s apple. I’ve got the Internet platform and the storytelling skills – and now we’ve got Brad and Cyndi on board, two hilarious, exciting and weird burlesque performers AND storytellers, as well as D.Billy’s peerless art, design, and production abilities.

We’re turning this blog into a live show and we’re going on tour. I don’t know how and I don’t know when exactly, but I’d expect to see some of you people outside New York City by spring 2011.

That’s where we need your help.
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