Doin’ Time in Umeå

As many of you know I flew to Sweden on Christmas Day and will be here in the Northern city of Umeå until the 17th.

My hosts, Alex and Noa, take very good care of me with a full vegan spread at every meal. They even let me cook when I want. 🙂 I face no danger or fears here, other than I might get crushed in the elevator by the garbage can if I am not wary. Of course if this does happen, I have been sufficiently warned, so it will be my own damn fault.

I realize that less than 10% of people living in the US have a passport. Most of us do not leave our country, which impoverishes us culturally, intellectually and socially. Sure not everyone can afford to travel, but as a culture we cannot afford to stay home either.

I learn so much on the road. It’s like I’ve been on an advanced graduate course learning something new every day about history, philosophy, music, food, science and even math. Last night we had dinner with a brilliant mathematician, Ewa and her partner Pontus. Also Bjorn a professional church musician rounded out the group as we spoke about Swedish and American culture, politics, sexuality and so much more. Nothing like a tasty meal, good wine and even better conversation. I feel fully nourished after such a meal.

Today the whole family (with the three children, Alice the dog, and this crazy American) walked to the store as the sun began to set (about 1:00 in the afternoon).

The youngest possesses perfect faith that I understand every Swedish word he utters. He chatters away about monsters, Spider Man and Bat man. The girls are less shy than when I first arrived, and we have begun to teach each other words and songs in our native tongues. Thank God for the Simpsons! We can speak to each other in Simpsonease, with regular references to Spider Pig.

Tomorrow night I perform at Ålidhemskyrkan, a nearby church (with the coolest building), where I will present The Re-Education of George W. Bush–No President Left Behind. Ah, I want EVERYONE to see this play. In some ways it is my best work.

Artistically I find much satisfaction in the layering of imagery and the slow unfolding of the real message behind the play. The dramatic tensions I seek to provoke as well as the cognitive dissonance I hope to inspire require a careful construction of sentences and a specific delivery that provide me with a challenges at each performance.

Lots of people assume the play is simply a Bush-bashing affair. In a way I want them to think that when they enter the theater. I wish to lure Bush-bashers who may carry certain assumptions about conservatives and Republicans.

I want people, who dissatisfied Washington, spend a lot of energy complaining. The play is ultimately more about them than about the US president. It is more about our own personal policies and life choices than about US foreign policy or the choices made by Bush’s cabinet.

We can each run the risk of bitching and moaning about the state of things in Washington and in the US all the while supporting the Bush administration with our very lifestyle choices, by the attitudes we hold towards our enemies, by what we refuse to know, and the ways we refuse to become deprogrammed from a society that taught us to be racist, sexist, homophobic, and violent.

We look to leaders to institute the changes that will make the world a better place all the while living lives that demand that our president goes to war for oil and supports the oppression of other people so that we can have those low low prices. The American problem is not purely political. It is a social disorder that we face and it is a problem of misinformation that we need to address. But sadly some of us are so easily distracted by Britney’s Who-Ha and the “celebrity news” that they force-feed us (and some of us binge on–me included) that we can loose sight of reality.

So the Bush play is a comedy. Therefore, it addresses some of the most serious issues today. I feel pleased that it is the first piece I will present for 2008. Here’s hoping for many more gigs particularly in the US where it has been hardest for me to get bookings for it.

Okay, vegan food is on the table and the sun has fully set (3:00 PM), so I am off.

This post has 8 Comments

  1. Auntie Doris on January 6, 2008 at 2:55 pm Reply

    Sounds like you are having a wonderful time and being refreshed physically, emotionally and spiritually. Enjoy the rest of your stay 🙂

  2. Anna HP on January 6, 2008 at 4:14 pm Reply

    Sounds like you’re having a wonderful time. We had snow as well but in the true spirit of south-swedish snowing, it melted away within a couple of hours. About the sign in the elevator, that has actually happend to someone .. hence the sign, so beware 🙂 and the matter on children and language is funny. I see it everyday. One of the kids at work, age 2, chatters away in a mix of swedish and spanish since she know I speak both. Si, claro saves many situations 😉

  3. Peterson Toscano on January 6, 2008 at 11:02 pm Reply

    anna hp! so great to see you again. Oh, and I have no doubt that someone was crushed in a lift like the warning poster suggests, just like a woman was burnt from McDonalds coffee and now all coffee cups carry a warning that they contain a hot beverage. Sometimes we have to spell these things out.

    Of course in my case, the warning posters intrigues me and makes me want to try and see if I can recreate the accident.

  4. Joe on January 6, 2008 at 11:59 pm Reply

    Have you considered using a different title when performing the play in Europe? The current title would appeal to widespread anti-American attitudes in Europe.

  5. Auntie Doris on January 7, 2008 at 1:20 am Reply

    If you try and recreate the accident can you make sure someone films it for Youtube? Thanks. AD x

  6. Tom D. on January 7, 2008 at 12:23 pm Reply

    Have fun in Sweden! It sounds like a great time! (My week in London is over, alas.)

  7. Peterson Toscano on January 7, 2008 at 12:35 pm Reply

    wait, Joe, there is widespread anti-American feeling in Europe ???

    Tom, you have photos, huh, well?

  8. Ewa on January 24, 2008 at 8:07 am Reply

    Ah, “brilliant mathematician”, that is actually exactly how I would like people to address me. “You over there, you brilliant mathematician, I would like to talk to you!” Yes. Perfect. 😀

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