Jed Bell

Various awesome

There’s a lot of awesome going around, despite the grim clouds rolling around. Here’s one: Jacqueline Novogratz was talking about her Acumen Fund on the equally awesome Diane Rehm Show podcast the other day. I ain’t an expert, but setting up systems in Africa, India, and Pakistan to employ thousands of local people in doing stuff like providing cheap clean water to their neighbors for the first time—sounds pretty excellent to me. Her set-up is a bit like Kiva in that it allows us first-worlders to invest in the enterprises of people in desperately poor areas. Novogratz has a new book out called The Blue Sweater, referring to a piece of clothing from her own adolescence that she had put in her family’s GoodWill pile one day and that turned up, decades later, worn by a random boy she ran into in the streets of Rwanda (I think). She said she grabbed him and checked the inside collar of the sweater—her name was still sewn in there.

Fugue State update and Homemade Superheroes

Jed and I have been madly (and I don’t use the word loosely) producing Fugue State, my work-in-progress. A staged reading which Jed directed, this project just premiered to sold-out audiences here in San Francisco. Now, we’re at it again, doing a two-night run at The Garage aka 975 Howard (ttp:// here in SF. The dates for our encore run are Weds. and Thurs. July 30 and 31st at 8 p.m. If you’re in the ‘hood check us out especially since the more people we get to show up the more we can pay everyone! Tix are cheap: $15 and $10 at the door. We’ll also be showcasing parts of Fugue State at the SF Fringe Festival in September. So check out their website once we’re closer to that date:

Jed was also busy working with Rocco a.k.a. Katastrophe on Homemade Superheroes. An amazing one-time show, according to Homemade Superheroes “draws a parallel between the double life of a super hero to the experience of a transperson.” Jed did an incredible job on the animation for the project which was synced to Rocco’s styling lyrics.

That’ll do it for now.

The King is the Slave is the King.

Just got back from the Morrissey concert tonight. I don’t know why I couldn’t get wrapped up in it the way I could with the last show I went to, Billy Bragg, who you’d think would be much more cerebral, less visceral. Couple possibilities: Billy Bragg is _about_ combining with other people to change things. Maybe that’s not right. But Morrissey is so much about a singularity and a missed connection with the universe, it sort of seems wrong to be singing along to him with so much of that universe, his love and self-love requited everywhere. It seems like you should be listening to Morrissey alone, on headphones, in high school, and barely surviving it. I do love him, of course. But maybe not when I’m in public.

Another possibility is that I’m such a cerebral fucker that Billy Bragg hits my emotional stripe perfectly. Not cerebral–abstract? Unable to contemplate art without vulgarly mixing in politics? So maybe it’s my fault.

But there in my headiness and abstraction tonight I was, like it or not, thinking about Coriolanus and Hegel while I watched Morrissey and didn’t fall into the music. I’m a director, for film and TV, and directing is a thing I love to do. I especially love it when I see a room full of people enacting words and schemes I’ve put down on paper myself.

I always think of actors as kind of the opposite of directors–they are there to be seen, we are there to see them. I think of something and they bring it into life in some beautiful fantastic way, with some whole other kind of need and intelligence than what I have.

But when Morrissey came out tonight and looked us all over, started up the first song and had the whole club singing his words, I realized he, the looked-at, was directing _us_. Hegel said the problem with being a master is you require a slave. Coriolanus, in the Shakespeare play, is disgusted with the idea that he has to show the mere people his battle scars to win their vote for Roman senator. Who rules who? Morrissey told the truth about his pain and weakness and ugliness over and over and over. He’s a rich man now, happier, I think, and possibly now even minus a crippling personality disorder or two. He’s up on the stage. Our hands are in the air, worshipping, or giving orders. The king is the slave is the king.