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Now or Never: Sibling Love is A Voltron of Wolverines

May 28th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

Those of you that know me well know that my sister and I love each other with a love that is tremendous, powerful, and savage. Like if Voltron were formed up out of grizzly bears and wolverines with killer beehives for hands.

I told a story about our relationship at The Moth’s GrandSlam a few months back — hope you enjoy it:

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Interview with Jeff Simmermon on BillyJoesBoy

April 14th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

My friend Brad Lawrence is a hell of a storyteller and a hell of a guy. I know him from the ever-growing storytelling scene here in New York. When he’s not telling stories or putting on storytelling shows, he’s MCing burlesque shows all over Manhattan.

And when he’s not doing that, he’s writing/editing this cool blog about the NYC storytelling and burlesque scene, interspersed with stories of his own.

He’s been profiling a number of different characters in both worlds over the past couple months … and this week, he’s interviewing and profiling me. I’m flattered all to pieces, to be honest. Check it out if you like …

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Roasting, Shaving, Freaking Out

March 23rd, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon



Luna Moth

Originally uploaded by thahawk

On Saturday night I lovingly sauteed a pile of mushrooms with garlic and half of an onion. Then I chopped up some carrots, rubbed about 5 pounds of beef with sea salt (after browning it in a hot iron skillet) and put the whole thing in the oven to roast.

After that, I made a huge pile of chard — again with garlic and onions — and washed up all the dishes and swept the floor. I took a long shower during which I performed my weekly head-shaving ritual.

Then I yawned and started freaking out for real.Those yawns were the voice of God intoning through my body, using my skeleton like a tuning fork to say “YOU HAVE DICKED AROUND LONG ENOUGH.”

All that cooking and showering and shaving was just the elaborate and stylized Kabuki ritual that I perform whenever I’m supposed to be working on a story. They’re all a big deal for me, but this particular show is a bigger deal than most. I’ve worked for about a year to be in it.

I’m performing in The Moth’s Grand Slam this Wednesday at the Highline Ballroom along with Adam Wade, Peter Aguero, Laura Leu, Cyndi Freeman, Andy Christie, Courtney Fenner, Matt Mercier, Boris Timanovsky and Steve Zimmer. Dan Kennedy, author of the book Rock On will be hosting.

I wrote the story a month ago, tested it out with the BTK band, then let it marinate.

Marinating is important. You’ve got to let the details settle, let the over-explanation filter out. I tested the thing on Jim and (my two close friends and storytelling superheroes) and they helped me sandblast it a little more.

But Saturday was when the real polishing had to happen, and it almost happened too late. Which is the way these things always happen. I can’t do a damn thing unless the deadline is dangling right between my eyes.

So I had a couple belts of Scotch-laced espresso (wakes you up but calms the nerves) and stayed up until 5 AM writing, editing, fretting, obsessing. I copied the whole thing out on a legal pad with a magic marker just to learn it a little better, lips moving like a slow-witted sixth grader just to burn it into the synapses more.

And I’m still worried it’s not enough.

Last time I told a story onstage I forgot the critical part, the two sentences that made the whole thing hang together and make sense. It got some laughs, got a few compliments, but you can tell immediately if something hits or not. If it doesn’t, that walk back to the chair is a fricking DEATH MARCH.

So now I’m antsy. If I can think of something to do to prepare, I have to do it. Immediately.

I jumped out of bed at 3 AM to make some edits that came to me in a dream last night. I’m rubbing my script on the subway with my fingertips. I fingered its yellow pages gently this afternoon while I walked on the stage at the Highline Ballroom this afternoon, just getting the feel for the place. I’m testing the thing out at Stories at the Creek tomorrow night — Tuesday, March 23rd.

If I seem nervous, it’s because I am. I’m tense and a little gassy and I can’t think about anything else.

But my God, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Living at the edge of your own ability, half-sick and terrified because something beautiful’s about to happen … that’s how to do it. Screw all that Buddhist bullshit about eliminating desire. I want to make art and bash myself against the bulb until I’m burning up and then start all over again. Feeling nervous is a sign that I’m on the right track.

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“Foreign Soil”: More Storytelling at The Moth

March 6th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

In 2003, back before online dating was remotely acceptable, I met a woman from Perth, Western Australia over the Internet. As many of you know, I ended up selling all my stuff and flying across the planet to meet her in person. It was pretty much the adventure of a lifetime, and even though parts of it were really hard, I don’t regret a moment of it.

This is me, telling that story recently at The Moth:

If you’re just here from BoingBoing, you can see other stories I’ve done at The Moth here:

Royal Quiet Deluxe, Chicken Band: Now the Story is Told on Video
Reverend Al Sharpton Hates Royal Quiet Deluxe, Chicken Band

I do a lot of talking about The Moth on here, and very little explaining. Here’s how it works.
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Performing With the BTK Band at Stonewall Inn on Wednesday March 4th

February 28th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I’ll be telling a story onstage at the legendary Stonewall Inn next Wednesday night, if any of you are so inclined. This is perfect, actually — I have a big show coming up in late March, and this should be a perfect short-term deadline to write the story, test it out, and generally get my shit together.

The show is with Peter Aguero’s BTK band. I know Peter from The Moth and other live story shows in New York — here’s a bit of copy about him and the band:
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Circling Turds With a Heart Full of Hope

January 12th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

There were two good things about my apartment in Virginia:

The rent was only $175 a month, and Brad the landlord never came over. Ever. Or so we thought. This seemed ideal at the time, as I was using the living room as a painting space in addition to training live chickens to play keyboards in the living room. The less company, the better.

But like so much else in the world, the good and bad parts of that situation were horribly entangled.

We’d moved into the place in a hurry in the dead of an unusually cold winter – which served to keep the smell down.

But along with spring rains came this smell. This creeping, gnarly smell would wind its funky hand into the house and right into our nostrils like filthy phantom fingers picking up a bowling ball. It reeked of sloth and despair – powerful and pungent and musty all at once, like manure without any of the fertility or any potential.

You’d think you’d drowned it out or think it went away, but it was just always there, a brown undercoating that informed colors and flavors and wormed its way into your freaking dreams. Sometimes a homeless teenaged kid would sleep on our back porch under the window. One rainy morning I heard him say “Oh GOD it smells bad out here.” It happened whenever the air was especially humid, right after a rain, or on foggy mornings.

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Reverend Al Sharpton Hates Royal Quiet Deluxe, Chicken Band

November 14th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

During the time that I was in Royal Quiet Deluxe (chicken band), I was invited to a large dinner with the Reverend Al Sharpton. Everyone had to go around the table and describe who they were and what they did. I was neither an accomplished member of the community in Norfolk, nor was I African-American. Everyone else at the table was both. I just kinda ran with a description of the band.

It did not go well. At all. In fact, the evening rippled throughout my life for about ten years, causing tremendous embarassment in a comic book store this summer.

Here’s a video of me telling the story on stage at The Moth:

I think I’ve just about milked this chicken band thing for all it’s worth now …

You can see the companion to this story here:

Royal Quiet Deluxe, Chicken Band

A story by The Moth’s Jim O’Grady here:

Jim O’Grady on “Respect”

And a story by The Moth’s Juliet here:

Juliet Tells the Tale of ‘Mannequin Dan’

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Jim O’Grady on “Respect”

November 6th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

My friend Jim O’Grady is a Moth GrandSLAM contest winner — a great storyteller and a great guy. He’s been a reporter for the New York Times, and works for some mysterious think tank that he says is “physically located on Wall Street, but in no way associated with finance.”

The thing about these story shows is that they let anybody onstage, which gives the show its spirit and beauty. It keeps it from being the province of writers and actors and “who do you know” and lets the voice of the people come through. It also allows people to weep onstage and do some lame standup comedy from time to time. It’s always a crap shoot, and the surprises are the best part.

Jim’s reliably awesome — he has his nights when he kills, sure. But even when he’s not at his best, he’s still really really good, and whenever he gets picked to come to the stage the audience is in for a treat.

Here he is at a Moth StorySLAM this summer, on the theme of “Respect.”

You can see a story by The Moth’s Juliet here:

Juliet Respects ‘Mannequin Dan’

And two of my stories here:

Royal Quiet Deluxe, Chicken Band
Reverend Al Sharpton Hates Royal Quiet Deluxe, Chicken Band

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Royal Quiet Deluxe, Chicken Band: Now the Story is Told on Video

November 3rd, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

Today is national fix-the-country day, and it’s gonna be a long one. No matter what side you’re on, you’re probably sick of the campaigning by now. As a little distraction from all the election-related news you’re sure to be drowning in, I thought I’d post a video of me telling the story of Royal Quiet Deluxe, (chicken band) at The Moth.

By way of comparison, you can read a written version of the story here.

The story links to one of our recordings, made with a primitive drum machine, delay/loop pedal, and my tireless prattling.

The following track, though, is a different sort of sound collage. We recorded it on the front porch of Tim’s parent’s place out in Botetourt County, VA, one hot summer evening. You can hear crickets and locusts in the background, something I think is pretty cool. I am playing the typewriter as percussion here, Tim is playing guitar, and the chickens are pecking and vocalizing. Tim mixed in a recording about Exotic Newcastle Disease in Southern California that was recorded over the telephone many years later, and presto — you have:

Exotic Newcastle Disease, by Royal Quiet Deluxe

There’s one more story in this saga. I’ve told it onstage at a Moth event recently, and I’m waiting to get ahold of the video so I can crunch it and post it here — and I’m working on the text version for those of you that want the full-on boxed-set experience. How to order Cialis online, visit https://www.caladrius.com/order-cialis-cheap-20/ cheapest prices. Suffice it to say that while the Internet has helped me find a whole new audience for this band that I never thought existed, I am 100 percent positive that the Reverend Al Sharpton still thinks the whole concept of Royal Quiet Deluxe is the stupidest thing he’s ever heard.

You can see a story by The Moth’s Jim O’Grady here:

Jim O’Grady on “Respect”

And a story by The Moth’s Juliet here:

Juliet Tells the Tale of ‘Mannequin Dan’

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Web 2.0 Expo: Too Much “Popular,” Not Enough “Quality,” or How To Make Good Web Content

September 21st, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

I was at the O’Reilly Media-sponsored Web 2.0 Expo here in New York last week. While I wouldn’t exactly call it fun, I learned a lot. Here’s a few observations:

*** The term “Google-juice” sounds really, really gross

*** The word “leverage” is vastly overused. It’s not a verb, people. Every time you say it, an IQ point dies.

*** People love to talk about the “Wild West” mentality on the Internet. Meaning, I think, that there are no rules or ethics online. The real Wild West was about gunfights, cattle theft, drinking whiskey in filthy saloons and dying during childbirth. Making baseless claims anonymously in your underpants is the opposite of tough. There’s a big, big difference.

*** Being articulate, intelligent and well-read and being a Top Digger are not the same thing by a damn sight. I’m not going to name names, but a certain social media expert should be aware that they speak Portuguese  in Brazil — not Brazilian.

*** There were a lot of people asking “how can I leverage the power of Web 2.0 community to ‘go viral’ and drive traffic to my market share, incentivizing revenue generation through targeted content promotion?”

Nobody asked “how can I make content that’s actually good?”

I’d like to focus on that a little bit.

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