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Monday, April 28, 2014

Invasive Species -- May 2014 Story of the Month

This month's Story of the Month is free. It is dedicated to gardeners everywhere.

Invasive Species
by Uke Jackson

A quilx consumes a whole lunjaba fruit and spits out thirty two seeds in rapid succession. At that moment a slight rip occurs in the fabric of existence and the seeds arc straight through it, one after the other. The quilx watches this. She scampers up to the spot where the seeds disappear but the tear is already closed.
Slight tears in the fabric of existence happen every decade or two. Something as potent as lunjaba seeds traversing dimensions through such rips? This happens every billion years or so, if that.
            Harvey is sitting on the lanai at his home in Tampa, Florida when seeds start dropping one after the other onto the tile floor. Harvey yelps in surprise as the seeds are popping into existence out of thin air. He jumps up and takes a couple strides and examines this phenomenon up close just as it ends.
            The last of the seeds come into sight out of nowhere a couple feet above eye level. Of course, nowhere for Harvey is a parallel dimension and home to an entire spectrum of life and existence about which he knows zilch. Harvey looks down at the floor and hops back as he sees the seeds scrambling to arrange themselves into a circle.
“What the fuck?” He looks at the half a joint left in the ashtray and shakes his head. “Man, that’s either the best shit I ever smoked or I’m losing my mind.”
He looks back down at the seeds. They are no longer moving and he decides to leave them be. But if he sees them move again he is definitely stomping on them. Harvey reminds himself that he has a gig and must get ready, much as he would like to stand there and observe the circle of seeds.
The gig goes well. Harvey has no hallucinations. He plays solid rhythm on his resonator ukulele. He is no more stoned than usual, it seems.
Harvey is part of a band that plays a mix of old New Orleans jazz tunes and novelty numbers from a cross section of musical genres – Tin Pan Alley, British Music Hall, Rock, Folk, Blue Grass, Texas Swing and so forth. The band is known as The Skiffle Bohemians.
He goes home after the gig and goes right to bed. His wife Helen, a school teacher, is already asleep. The next day is Saturday and it is almost noon before they get up. Harvey steps out onto the lanai while Helen makes pancakes and he remembers the seeds, which he hasn’t thought about since the music started last night. The seeds are gone when he looks to where they circled together on the tile.
“Whoa!” Harvey slides open the glass door and calls t his wife: “Helen, you have to come see this.”
There stands a plant of shimmering beauty. Its colors glisten and swirl and at times seem to have come from another spectrum, a rainbow of previously unknown and unseen colors. The plant is almost eight feet tall and one fruit the size and shape of a large mango hangs on it. There is a sheen to the fruit that flickers from color to color to color – blue to yellow to red to orange to purple to an unnamed color to green – without repeating a discernible pattern and constantly changing.
Harvey crosses and picks the fruit and takes a bite. He feels a surge of life enhancing energy. Another fruit grows to replace the one in Harvey’s hand. Helen comes out onto the lanai and gasps.
“Harvey, where did that plant come from? What is it? ”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” he says. He holds out the fruit. “Here, take a bite. It’s a amazing. It tastes like pancakes.”
Helen partakes of the proffered fruit. “You’re right. It does. With real maple syrup.” She takes another bite and hands the fruit back to Harvey.
He spots the thirty two black seeds in a circle around the center and scoops them out of the juicy pulp with two fingers. “What are you doing?” asks Helen.
“Seeds.” He pushes open the screen door with his toe and tosses the seeds and pulp onto the backyard. “Let’s see what happens,” says Harvey.
            Soon Harvey’s yard has half a dozen of these plants growing on it. Before long the other guys in the band are growing their own plants. The fruit is rejuvenating in every way when eaten. Harvey’s neighbors’ yards are now also home to these plants.
            Harvey’s plants give new meaning to the phrase “locally grown.” It is discovered that if a fruit is taken more than a mile from its mother plant, it shrivels to a dry husk with the thirty two seeds rattling around inside. Those seeds will still grow, though.
The Skiffle Bohemians bass player, Martin, has a brother who is a licensed marijuana farmer in northern California. Martin sends some dried husks with seeds inside via FedEx and soon the plants are spreading throughout California.
Meanwhile, first the St. Petersburg Times does a story and then CNN picks it up and interviews Harvey. Part of the CNN segment shows Harvey playing and singing with the band. Everyone who eats the fruit, including the TV news talkers, tastes whatever food is in their mind when they take that first bite. Some taste a banana split. Others taste Cheerios, or peanut butter, or marshmallow, pork chop, steak, hot dog, fruit smoothie.
Word spreads as quickly as the plants. The fruits’ power of rejuvenation is unquestionable. Soon it is the only thing that people in retirement communities will eat. Meanwhile, stoners everywhere love to watch the seeds rearranging themselves in preparation for the plants’ rapid growth cycle.
AgriQuo, the pesticide and genetically modified seed giant, releases a statement claiming that the plant, which people have begun calling the Harvey plant, is the company’s very own genetically modified creation. AgriQuo refers to Harvey and Helen as “agricultural terrorists” and demands that they be charged with larceny, fraud, and grand theft. The losses, claims AgriQuo, will be in the billions.
“Surely,” says a pretty blonde AgriQuo spokesperson in a sound bite seen on all TV news. “No one believes some musician’s crazy hallucination of the seeds coming out of nowhere. This plant is right out of the AgriQuo labs. This fruit is the result of safe, healthy genetic modification.”
However, independent botanists soon dispute AgriQuo’s claims. The plant and its fruit have no genetic material to be modified. There is no DNA, no mitochondria, no cells. There is a substance that is unlike anything ever seen before. Its properties and mass are unique.
AgriQuo tries to backtrack but no one cares anymore. The plant is everywhere. Some news talkers, inspired by an AgriQuo press release, wonder if the plant is a danger to civilization. “Will it take over everything?” the TV news talkers ask.
However, it is soon evident that the plant population stabilizes naturally and does not produce more fruit than is consumed. The Harvey plant is the perfect plant. Pick a fruit and another grows immediately in its place. The media soon changes their collective tune.
Before long, all of the TV superstar physicians are in agreement. Eating the fruit of Harvey’s plant could lead to what the TV doctors are calling “natural immortality.”
“We can still die by train wrecks, car crashes, or bullets or other powerful impacts. But disease and what we call death by natural causes – those could be gone forever.”
            It is now four years since the seeds arrived through a rent in the fabric of existence. AgriQuo’s CEO and top scientists are all in prison for conspiring to create a toxin to kill the Harvey plant, after Congress passed a law protecting it. AgiQuo has been in bankruptcy proceedings for a year, as have the giant pharmaceutical companies. There is no more disease.
            Almost everyone everywhere on the planet has a Harvey plant. They need no care and grow in deserts and on mountaintops, indoors, outdoors, in drought or monsoon. They even grow in jail cells.
            A somewhat sad side effect, though, is the absence of babies. Once people eat the fruit they become sterile. Everyone is still able to enjoy both the physical and spiritual sides of love, but no procreation.
A few human couples are said to have taken refuge in remote regions. No one persecutes them. Everyone is too happy for that. Once it becomes clear that those who eat the plant regularly will feel great and remain their present age forever, with the exception of children and teens, who grow to maturity then stop, the vast majority of people happily trade the possibility of parenthood for eternal youth and vitality.
Ten years pass. No one gardens anymore, except at the breeder enclaves in remote regions. Farmers do not have to slave in the fields. The Harvey plant is the only crop. Hunger ends everywhere on the planet. People forget other tastes. Harvey fruit is the perfect food, a source of balanced and healthful nutrition. It tastes like happiness.
            The quilx begin to notice the changes. The colors of lunjaba plants have begun to dull ever-so-slightly and their swirling and changing hues are sluggish. The fruits grow smaller.
The lunjaba plant is entering its dormant phase. Every lunjaba plant everywhere, even where people call them Harvey plants, is now going dormant for fifty years. The quilx moves on to other food sources. 
Quilx experience neither loss nor anticipation as the plants enter their dormant stage. Their cravings shift from the lunjaba fruit to the leaves of the nakilila and other related plants for their food. That is the natural order.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Obies Are Coming ! 2014 Edition

Tickets Go On Sale April 9th

The OBIE Awards Ceremony Will Be Co-Hosted By:
Tamara Tunie & Hamish Linklater

The OBIE Awards Will Be Presented By:Betsy Aidem Harvey Fierstein Lena HallAndy Karl David Bar KatzCristin Milioti Kelli O'Hara Stephen Trask 

New York, NY The Village Voice, the nation’s largest alternative weekly newspaper, announced today that tickets will go on sale April 9, 2014 for the 59th Annual Obie Awards on Monday, May 19, 2014, at Webster Hall in the East Village, 125 East 11th Street.
The Obies will be co-hosted by the distinguished actress Tamara Tunie, whose many memorable stage performances include the lead in the Public Theater’s Troilus and Cressida, while her film and television credits include Devil’s Advocate, FLIGHT, City Hall, Snake Eyes, Eve’s Bayou, The Caveman’s Valentine, The Red Road, “Law and Order: SVU”, “24”, “Sex and The City”, “NYPD Blue”.
Sharing the stage with Tunie will be co-host Hamish Linklater, an Obie winner who is currently starring in the CBS comedy “The Crazy Ones” opposite Robin Williams and recently starred in the HBO series “The Newsroom”.   His theater performances include Seminar on Broadway and many appearances for the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater, where he will be seen this summer in Much Ado About Nothing for NYSF. On film Linklater can next be seen in The Angriest Man in Brooklyn and Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight both to be released in 2014.
The 2014 Obies are honored to have, among those who will be presenting Obie Awards, the following performers who have made or are currently making a notable impact on New York’s theatrical scene:
Betsy Aidem, an Obie winner for Sustained Excellence of Performance, who can currently be seen on Broadway playing Lady Bird Johnson opposite Bryan Cranston’s LBJ in All the Way. Her New York stage appearances include Nikolai and the Others (Lincoln Center),  Dreams of Flying, Celebration, Sea of Tranquility (Atlantic) among others.  Film and TV work includes: Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret & You Can Count on Me, The Bleeding House. TV:  “The Americans”, “The Big C”, “Rescue Me”, “Nurse Jackie”, “Law & Order.” 
Harvey Fierstein is the author of the current Broadway smash hits Kinky Boots (2013 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical) and Newsies, as well as Torch Song Trilogy (Tony, Drama Desk and OBIE Awards), La Cage aux Folles (Tony and Drama Desk Awards), The Sissy Duckling (Humanitas Award), A Catered Affair (12 Drama Desk nominations), Safe Sex (Ace Award), Legs Diamond, Spookhouse, Flatbush ToscaCommon Ground, and more. He will soon have three productions running on Broadway when Newsies and Kinky Boots are joined by the world premiere of his first play in nearly 30 years, Casa Valentina, which will open at MTC's Samuel J Friedman Theater in April, directed by Joe Mantello. As an actor Mr. Fierstein is known worldwide for his performances in films like Mrs. Doubtfire and Independence Day, and on stage in Hairspray (Tony Award), Fiddler On The Roof, La Cage aux Folles, Torch Song Trilogy (Tony Award), and TV shows such as "Smash," “How I Met Your Mother,” “The Good Wife,” “Cheers” (Emmy nomination), “The Simpsons,” and “Nurse Jackie.”
Lena Hall is currently starring as Yitzhak in the hit Broadway revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch opposite Neil Patrick Harris. She has appeared in roles on and Off Broadway as well as on television and in films. When not on the Broadway stage, Lena performs with her band The Deafening.
Andy Karl is an award winning actor currently starring as Rocky in the new hit Broadway musical based on the Oscar winning film and directed by two time Obie winner Alex Timbers.  Andy is best known to off-Broadway audiences for his performance as Luke, the thuggish rapper in the original cast of Altar Boyz. Numerous Broadway productions include 9 to 5, Legally Blonde (ACCA Award), The Wedding Singer, Saturday Night Fever and On the 20th Century. His Film and TV roles include Joyful Noise; Rob Reiner's And So It Goes (opposite Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton); Legally Blonde: The Search for Elle Woods; On the One; New York, I Love You.
David Bar Katz is a member of The LAByrinth Theater Company which produced his plays Philip Roth in Khartoum (at The Public Theater) and The Atmosphere of Memory (starring Ellen Burstyn) and has presented six of his plays in their annual Barn Series Festival.   He is an award winning screenwriter, playwright, author and director.
Cristin Milioti won our hearts as “The Girl” in the OBIE-winning Off-Broadway production of the musical Once. When Once moved to Broadway, Cristin was singled out for her outstanding performance by every major theatrical award and she helped the company win the Tony for Best Musical and a Grammy for “Best Musical Theater Album.   Most recently, she played  “The Mother” on CBS’s hit comedy show "How I Met Your Mother"  and played opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in  Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
Kelli O'Hara is receiving rave reviews for her portrayal of Francesca in the musical adaptation of The Bridges of Madison County currently playing on Broadway.  
She has also graced the stage and earned awards for her in performances in Nice Work If You Can Get It, South Pacific, Pajama Game, The Light in the Piazza among others. Her concert work spans from Carnegie Hall to Capitol Hill.  She is a frequent performer on PBS's live telecasts and the Kennedy Center Honors.  
Stephen Trask, co-creator and Obie winner for Music and Lyrics  of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Hedwig is back on Broadway this season.  Stephen is also the orchestrator for the Broadway production of Rocky. Since 2003, Stephen has been scoring films on both the independent and studio level for directors as diverse as Tom McCarthy, Paul Weitz, Todd Graff, Tamara Jenkins, Jon Kasdan, Robert Benton, Sean Anders, Bill Condon, Alan Poul, Tom Vaughn, Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman. Stephen has recorded and performed with alt  rock n' roll royalty such as Stone Temple Pilots, Bob Mould, Sleater-Kinney, Yoko Ono, Debbie Harry and Lene Lovitch.
The 2014 Obie Awards are chaired by Michael Feingold, a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism and George Jean Nathan Award winner, who began contributing to The Village Voice in 1971 and served as its chief theater critic from 1983 to 2013. Feingold’s fellow judges include: Kirsten Child, whose musical The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin won her, in addition to the Obie, the Kleban, Larson, and Rodgers Awards; Nicky Paraiso, Director of Programming for The Club at La MaMa and curator of the annual La MaMa Moves!; Tonya Pinkins, the Tony and Obie Award-winning actress, who has appeared in television and film but whose first love is theater; Michael Sommers, who currently covers the New York theater scene for New Jersey Newsroom and is a freelance reviewer of regional theater for The New York Times; and Rick Sordelet, an award-winning and prolific fight director with 60 Broadway productions and 54 first-class productions on five continents to his credit.
For the past 59 years, the Village Voice Obie Awards, founded by Jerry Tallmer in 1956, have honored the best of Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway. Structured with informal categories that change annually, the Village Voice Obie Awards recognize persons and productions of excellence. Unlike most theater awards, the Village Voice Obie Awards list no nominations publicly. In the conviction that creativity is not competitive, the judges may give several Obies in each category, and may even invent new categories to reward exceptional artistic merit. 
Many of the most celebrated names in theater, film, and television say their Obie Award was the first major recognition of their professional career. Past winners include such well-known stars  as Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Felicity Huffman, Viola Davis, Kevin Kline, Nathan Lane, Tony Kushner, Kathy Bates, James Earl Jones, Edward Norton, and Sigourney Weaver, to name a few.
Because the Obies always strive to recognize artists of exceptional ability early in their careers, the award often serves to encourage, support, and in some sense nurture youthful talent. The Obies help shine an important light on theater artists who are breaking new ground, or just breaking through in their careers. In addition, the Obies honor those who have given years of service to the theater, with awards for Sustained Excellence and Lifetime Achievement.
Tickets for the Village Voice’s 59th Annual Obie Awards are $25 general admission Balcony and will go on sale April 9th at
The ceremony begins at 8pm sharp and will be held at Webster Hall. For more information, please visit
The Obie Awards are presented by STELLA ARTOIS and also sponsored by Barefoot & Bubbly Wine, Verizon FIOS and Frames. The awards are benefiting the Obie winning non-profit Alliance of Resident Theaters A.R.T./ New York .
About Village Voice Events:
The Village Voice has independently produced and created such celebrated events as Choice Eats, Obies Awards, 4Knots Music Festival, Choice Streets, Brooklyn Pour, Holiday Spirits well as the most anticipated issues and guides of the year including the annual Pazz and Jop music poll, Best of NYC, and its Spring, Summer, and Fall Preview guides. The Village Voice is New York's most influential must-read alternative newspaper in print and online. For more information on the Voice or its events, please visit us online at .