Thursday, April 19, 2018


If I slept two or three restless hours on the night of Sunday, March 4, 2018, I don’t remember. All sorts of unsettling scenarios kept nagging me every time I began to drift—nobody would show up, the historic windstorm would double back, I would improbably fail my partners Emily and Erich with some horrendous oversight—until I threw myself out of bed at daybreak and began hoofing toward the Capital Fringe Trinidad Theatre in Washington’s H Street Corridor. I carried in my backpack what any good co-producer would carry: a couple of four-terabyte hard drives and ten home-made (hand-crafted!) sandwiches. 

A little back-story: After reading my research-post on the song “Li’l Liza Jane,” Emily Cohen contacted me last July. She and I had collaborated on several earlier projects, but hadn’t spoken in a couple years. We both declared that we required something else in our lives, something bigger than ourselves. After a typical Emily-Dan conversation (okay: sometimes we quarrel, we’ve had some classic donnybrooks, but it’s very productive!) we decided to embark upon a documentary film project. We would call it Li’l Liza Jane: A Movie About A Song. Around Thanksgiving, the luminary cinematographer Erich Roland joined the team as Director of Photography and we began planning the production of a fundraising trailer. In time, we settled on the Trinidad Theatre space and the date, March 5th. Everything would happen there and then. 

A couple days before my night of tossing and turning, a severe windstorm with hurricane-force gusts pummeled the D.C. area, upending trees and power lines. It spared the Trinidad Theatre, however, and it spared Emily, who lives in Wyoming, and who made it to D.C. after enduring a few frustrating air-travel delays. The crew—including Andrew Capino (Assistant Camera) and Lenny Schmitz (Sound Engineer)—had already begun to load-in a copious amount of gear when I arrived. Emily and her personal assistant (her father Mike) arrived with coffee. Our featured musician Phil Wiggins brought a bag of thirty harmonicas to the filming session. Our featured interviewees Faye Moskowitz, Bobby Hill, and Elena Day appeared, and all four of our people-to-be-filmed brought their A games. So did the fabulous Capital Fringe staffer, David Carter, who assisted us throughout the day.

Phil kept a harmonica in each hand and played both interchangeably as he cycled through his stirring rendition of “Li’l Liza Jane” again and again. Faye surprised us not only by singing, but singing “Liza Jane” lyrics that nobody had ever heard before. Bobby emphasized that African American people didn’t always have a chance to describe their plight, and so, told their stories in song. Elena emphasized that, at the heart of “Li’l Liza Jane,” stands an independent woman who would be an impressive person, now, during an era when women are empowering themselves. As opposed to the worst happening (as when I panicked, sleepless) the best had happened, instead. Each person put her or his stamp on the session.

Check out our trailer [click here] if you haven’t done so already. The amount of effort and professionalism on display speaks to the great affection we have for music, for one another, and for the support of a good cause. The full story of America’s favorite poor gal, Li’l Liza Jane, will be told, and with any luck, this trailer will be helpful in attracting funders to the project. Emily and I will be following every lead, tirelessly, in the days to come. By doing so, and by eventually endowing the film with adequate resources, we hope to reward the trust of all the crew members and interviewees who helped us to create this preview. Notably, we want to think of the men and women—dating back nearly 200 years, enslaved people and hardscrabble fiddlers alike—who recited some of the original versions of the tune, as well as Li’l Liza Jane herself. . . . .whoever, and how many different women, she may be.

               Trailer Day Trivia
               Varieties of sandwiches: 3
               Renditions of “Li’l Liza Jane”: 2
               Number of fog machines: 1
               Crew members: 5
               Number of temple oranges: 7
               Cans of sparkling “Refreshe”: 12
               Number of microphones: 3

               Guide to the Photographs
               1. Phil Wiggins
               2. Emily Cohen, Erich Roland, Andrew Capino, and Phil Wiggins
               3. Faye Moskowitz
               4. Tape
               5. Elena Day
               6. Bobby Hill and crew
               7. Emily Cohen and Dan Gutstein

               Still photography by Mike Cohen (1, 3, 4, 5, 6) and Dan Gutstein (2, 7)

Friday, March 23, 2018


The sailors overtook the ship at lunchtime, in Matinee on the Bounty.
Enjoy some Junior Minsk, the li’l box of chocolates from Belarus.
“Persecuted? Yeah, we had that in the joint. I stole a purse, and got 
the electric chair: I was purse-a-cuted.” Suffering from Markie Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder? (You watch too much Night Court!) Now we know
that Marlon Brando had ‘Pryor knowledge.’ A few Japanese assassins
suffer from the gum disease, Ninjavitis. There are many vast possibilities
to choose from these days. As a result: I have multiple or chasms……

Re: the singing tradition—Call Center and Response—[Hullo?] [Please listen
carefully…] [Hullo?] […as the menu options have changed!] [Hullo…?]
Modality meets hip-hop, bird, geometry, and WW II, in Kind of Blue Jay Z
Axis Powers. “Feasible? Yeah we had that in the joint. If it could go in the freezer
it was feasible.” A Sea Dog pursues the mutineers, who fire a warning shot
across the bowwow. Now, they’re serving time for involuntary man’s laughter.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


The musician arrived with a bag of 30 harmonicas.
30 harmonicas!
He selected two.
And he began playing both of them, together.
A folk song.
A beautiful tune, newly interpreted. His way.
There were many others of us there.
We all had jobs to do.
(I myself “co-produced.”) (I also made some sandwiches.)
Whatever each of us was doing. . . . .
When the man played, and sang, we heard him. Oh yes.
“A recording was made,” as they say.
There is more. Much, much more.
Stay tuned, my friends.           

too mysterious? see incredible hulk + pris Stratton


Imagine Dr. David Banner tripping along dystopian urban streets in the year 2019, which was not so long ago. Coincidentally, it’s the Los Angeles of Blade Runner, a city with 106 million people, most of them cavorting-about with their spacey umbrellas perpetually sprouted. There are talkie-ads the size of skyscrapers and flying cars and embittered replicants, artificial people who intend to visit some voracious vengeance upon the malevolent corporation which designed them.

In this future, the camera follows Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, and especially Harrison Ford. (“Harrison Ford?” says Dr. David Banner.) Yes, Harrison Ford, which is really aggravating, so Dr. David Banner hulks, his mouth agape, his eyes resembling the green of lightning. The buttons on his shirt pop free, one at a time, and he shreds the legs of his blue dungarees to inhabit them perchance as a perfect pair of cutoff jeans. “Rawwr!” he says.

By now, Dr. David Banner hulks every fifteen-twenty minutes. So much so, the makeup artists tire of scrubbing off the green pancake, and slopping it on, scrubbing and slopping, until it’s just Lou Ferrigno walking around as an ill-clad drifter, a kind of Mr. Green Universe Meets the Crowded Indifferent Future of California. There’s no more need for Bill Bixby, who is seen smoking apple tabac and attending dubious matinees. His anger no longer matters; he’s cured of his gamma radiation overdose.

When all of a sudden, Lou Ferrigno espies Pris Stratton, a basic pleasure replicant who could be The Incredible Hulk’s spirit animal. They are both pancaked, they are both raccoons, they are both shorn in the same shaggy hairdo. Pris is really Daryl Hannah. She dunks her hand without pain into water that boils a dozen eggs. Perhaps she desires a magnificent sprawling omelet, the ambient heat of the whipped eggs and southwestern ingredients. “Rawwr!” goes Lou Ferrigno.

If Daryl Hannah was capable of love, then she’d have already crushed Harrison Ford’s face between her thighs, his head bouncing down the stairs like the meatball in the spaghetti song. We know more about the future than ever before, and it continues to predict the demise of Pris, kicking her legs and howling for help. The Incredible Hulk trudges toward a second transformation, green and dumbfounded, and in that way, Lou Ferrigno resembles all of us, trapped in the lonely squalls of our acrimony.

too futuristic? see super secret project

Friday, February 16, 2018

the doctrine is IN.

The rapper reveals his sensual exploits in S & Eminem, a Yo Yo Mah Jongg film. Perhaps he was “cup-holded” in a previous relationship, you know, forced to watch his partner place a beverage into a strange receptacle. Or perhaps he developed sympathies for the captors who kept him hostage in a warehouse—he might’ve suffered from Stockroom Syndrome. Do you know the hip-hop poet, Eazy-e.e. cummings? Well, L.L. Cool J. Edgar Hoover Dam!

We say “patty wagon” because in the beginning of law enforcement, only hamburger makers were thrown in the back of the van. Did you know that the cops can invoke “Search and Caesar” and thereby confiscate your salad? The Chinese, meanwhile, will be catering the next solar eclipse with their cuisine, Dim Sun. Before that happens, you should go see the new episodic play that focuses on Native American deified spirits—The Kachina Monologues.

Listen to the editor, when the editor sez: “I smell errata!” He may be suffering from a Chagall stone in his De Gaulle bladder. Humankind emerged from the ancient goop to primordial ooze and ahs. Thirteen deer are a hunter’s venison whereas every bird is a moderate, owing to its left and right wings. Chickens are always being forced to re-coop their losses, while turkeys are on the rise—and on the pumpernickels. I saw it on that TV show, Slaw & Order.

Thinking ahead, the husband and wife planned their funerals: his and hearse. Afterwards, they watched a triple X movie about double-entendres: Read Between the Loins, a Yo Yo Mah Jongg Film. Here are your messages. The crunchy sixty-something called you back—yeah, the baby boomer rang. Whereas that Australian toy you chucked at the far horizon, that didn’t return? What a bummer-rang. Lodge a complaint with the Obscurity Exchange Commission!

Was it B.B. Q’ing who sang the blues and ate the barbecue? (He’s back on line, he’s B.B. Queueing, for some more saucy meats.) Okay, okay, I’ll mind my appeasements and queues. The mafia are now predicting the end of the world, or so sayeth the Cosa Nostradamus. If you can’t honk there’s a product—“Honk Ease”—that should help you honk, whether or not you’re brightening your coffee in Half & Halfghanistan.

Thursday, February 1, 2018


The young woman’s whereabouts involve snow: seeds and dots weltering in halos of oily water at her shoelaces, which go boot-over-boot down the embankment to lengths of wintering scrub. “Garvey’s Ghost”—the bitter sweet percussion—starts on her earbuds. Her red hair clipped and chipped. The railroad tracks offer a north-south corridor between shallow wood where the wind can scour the poor footing of coarse ballast, culvert quiet and quiet akimbo. She had walked, once, through the pre-lightning metals, the stackable shoulders of a buckled housing distant, until she had lain down in a cemetery, long enough to be missing. A group of firefighters in t-shirts, heavy pants, and suspenders had discovered her, fetal, amid the irrational angles of the headstones. They had carried her (it only took one) (at a time) through a bright precipitate, and among the elevations and lift, she caught the slanted medallion of a fuselage in blue-gray suspension. Trumpet, the train drives through the wake of its own trumpet, the heralding, itself, always irrelevant.

There is little time to spread her arms in benediction as the locomotive—speeding, bright, juiced by catenary power—illuminates the regret of her body, organized forward in recognition of terror. Thirty minutes later, the train brakes, shrill, to a clatter, before the incongruity of a brief reversal, the passengers wakening to a small station, quiet akimbo. Abbey Lincoln had been guiding the musicians with the swells of her wordless voice, and the young woman must’ve deduced, “No, it’s good to be cold, it’s good to be cold,” before the engine’s number, 900 series, screamed beyond the glint of her good, cold, living eyesight. The conductor will fumble but save his coffee, the train will move, people will move, and isn’t that why she had protested in the first place, as the song clanged in her earbuds? Portraits will always decorate the hollows of a living room. They will always decorate fewer hours of dusty light.


Little Blue Mouse

Red Line
Wash., D.C.

Blood And

1 minute

Advance Praise:
“No mice, no dice! We demand umpteen equity rodents now!” —Critter Twitter
“The sensible reaction in the D.C. subway system (is to run!)” —Espouse Mouse
“The mouse sizeth-up. Ye shall know of my great benevolence.  ” —Mono Deity