Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CRINGE FUNDRAISER! Reduced to 20 Bucks! Just say SNAPPER! at the Door

Due to Recessional Demands, we are offering ten dollars off for this FUN event. Just say SNAPPER at the door and get in for twenty bucks! All the vodka you can drink and a great show. Come on! It’s Wednesday!

Cringe Fund


is being produced this summer in New York City at

The cast from Los Angeles is going to New York for a month to work on the show. Festivals are freebies, so we're having a fundraiser to raise some cash for flights, food and more!


Karen Kilgariff's hilarious musical stand-up comedy

PISS PLAY, the actual play, by Don Cummings
w/ Carla Barnett, Flip Laffoon & David Youse


The Burlesque of the divine RED SNAPPER

El Centro Theatre
804 or 800 N. El Centro Hollywood CA 90038
(2 Blocks North of Melrose, 1 Block East of Vine)

$30 includes Fabulous TRU organic Vodka "Tasting" @ 7PM
(Or all you can drink?)
The Show. Curtain up at 8.

Reservations: http://www.tix.com/Event.asp?Event=198746

or 323-936-3890

Any Questions? email

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ben, the two of us need live no more...

Let’s look at it this way—It was amazing he lived until 50.
What must it have been like? Exhausting? It was a lot.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Look--It Rains in June

People are getting pretty upset about all this rain in the Northeast. But I remember June being one of those rainy months in New York. Pretty much always. Boston, too, naturally.

One June, back in the day, I stayed on in Boston to take some extra courses to maybe finish college early. My good friend, Ed, and I sublet a room from a fraternity and we buckled down to submit to two courses of Organic Chemistry. We were serious pre-med. It rained every day. It was freezing cold. We lasted five days and we quit. Drove that yellow AMC Hornet Station Wagon back home.

We graduated with everyone else. We didn’t shave off any time from the normal four years.

Rain slows you down. Good. Why not? It’s good to slow down. And who wants to cram down two levels of Organic Chemistry, anyway? –In any kind of weather…

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rise Up Healthy Folks and A Pigeon

Back in the late eighties when all my friends were figuring out how to fit into the work-a-day world, so many of them took jobs for the medical insurance.

I remember thinking, at that arty time in my life, “You mean, you’ll go imprison yourselves forty or more hours per week at some lackey job just so you’ll have health insurance?”

I went along without any.

Of course, now, I could not…what with all sorts of little silly things behind me: emergency appendectomy, sinus surgery, a little hernia tear fixed up, a lower back MRI, countless allergy shots, etc. etc…nothing that unusual.

I have been covered by some sort of health insurance for the past thirteen years. The joke is…right now, we pay for it (COBRA) but there were two years where I had TRIPLE coverage. That’s right. Two insurance plans through Adam, my Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner, because he switched from a non-union to a WGA union gig and the two plans overlapped, plus, I had SAG insurance.

A little ridiculous, don’t you think, to be triple covered? What a waste.

Then…there are times, like now, when the only coverage we can have is with this hideously expensive COBRA, which kind of makes me sick to my stomach.

In a world where job security does not exist, having medical insurance tied to employment is absurd. It leads to no or multiple coverage.

So now this: the pigeon (my almost roommate) who lives on the window sill below my air conditioner just won’t leave. Apparently, these beasts have bird mites which are something you don’t want to be around.

Thrown pots of water have moved her away for ten minutes at a time.
Someone I know uses a water gun with bleach in it. Seems cruel and awful.

How does one get rid of a filthy pigeon without hurting it?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dear Deer

Fire Island is not very far from New York and it is loaded with deer, fox, birds, turtles, plovers, you name it. All it took for it to be that way was for huge chunks of land to be set aside and for humans to live, not too densely, on the adjacent land in the thicket along with everything else.

Brilliant. Come on people! Cities are fabulous and we need our cities, fine. But couldn't everything else be like this? Or would that bring the price of prepackaged Kool-Aid in horrendous soft plasic bottles too low?

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Get Your Facebook URL

They’re going like hotcakes…so if your name is Susan Smith and your don’t want your URL for facebook to be www.facebook.com/SusanSmith2017 or something equally horrible, Get on it!

How to Pick your Facebook URL

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the CHOOSE YOUR OWN button. (The default choices they give you often contain a period between your first and last name.)

I was fortunate enough to get /doncummings. I have often missed the chance.


I Always Suspected the World Would End in


I just finished reading a New Yorker article today from the May 25 issue. The mystery is solved. The frogs are all dying because of a fungus.

Yes, friends. Some British doctor in the 1930’s found a great pregnancy test could be had with some African frogs and a syringe.

Those frogs were then released into the world as a business, carrying fungus all over the place. The fungus did not affect the African frogs (clawed frogs, I think they called them). But the fungus sure didn’t agree with many other amphibian species.

Fungus also got into the bat population, killing them, too.

What is interesting is people say, “Global Warming!” for almost everything. But really, the problem is man. Whatever continent we show up on, the large mammals die--except for Africa, but only because it was not overrun with industry.

Friends, there are too many of us. It gets to a point when there are simply too many of us.

The only answer to quell this growth is rampant homosexuality and birth control for everyone else. Right?

Less strollers = less fungus among us.

I don’t want to go down in a sponge of fungus.

I never trusted the stuff. You need bleach to kill it. Who wants to spend their days bathing in and drinking bleach?

The three epic killers: Flood, Fire and Fungus.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

This is the Problem

I was with some Los Angeles friends who were visiting from Los Angeles. They were staying in the Chelsea Hotel. We went up, talked and lounged on the beds.

Ninth Floor.

A great view of the north side of 23rd Street.

The Chelsea Hotel.

Back in the day (and I guess I was never young), but back in the day, I was kind of afraid of the place. It was a peeling heroin den. But it was cheap. Wacked creative people could live there.

Now, as we all know (and it has been known for years), it’s all cleaned up with overhead lighting from Lamps Plus, curtain rods from Restoration Hardware and some leftover Sixties furniture, sort of grooving it out, sort of sadly abandoned.

Look, I will admit, if I were to stay in the Chelsea Hotel, I would rather stay in it today than twenty years ago.

But this is the thing. WHY can’t things be mall-updated AND cheap?

Or even more fundamentally, WHY can’t poor people, I don’t care if they are addicted to heroin, make their places decent and clean and refuse to move out?

Or even more simply, WHY did everything get so bland and expensive?

Of course, I’d rather not have the mall-updates in the Chelsea Hotel. But I think it is a bit better than a carpet of used needles. However, it could have been redone with greater care.

I would like New York to calm down and get poorer. It will be interesting if we can do this, together, and not let everything peel and fall apart and end up dangerous, again.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Good Smoke---After

My agent said something about A Good Smoke.

“It’s not a comedy. It’s painfully funny.”

Well said.

I want to thank my tens of blog readers at www.opentrench.blogspot.com and friends, (Facebook and otherwise) who remained curious about “The event”—there has been the desire to know, “How did the reading go?”

The answer is---it was quite something. To have Henry and Grace and Meryl and Debra and John and Paul up there…doing this thing, after just three hours of rehearsal, and to really get the bone of it, was really something else.

Debra Monk was a riot, at performance level. This is a truly supporting role, and she was hilarious, fully in there.

John and Paul, Dad and brother, had the least showy roles and came in, with full understanding. Pure pleasure to watch them.

The main event was Henry Wolfe Gummer and Grace Gummer as brother and sister with their mom played by their real mom, Meryl Streep. Henry and Grace are both naturals. Fantastic to watch. Truthful. Vulnerable. Connected. Real. And funny. Meryl tackled this big, hard part, never pushing once, always finding the comedy, poking around to discover a take, a tactic, a strange corner of her psyche. Born comedienne. Funny, sad and more--

It sounds like I’m giving a review of my own play, which is kind of weird. So…I’ll leave it alone at this point.

I was very grateful. I felt calm and happy. The response was strong. More ahead.

I did not want to blog about the reading, thinking it might be tacky to do so. But to not blog about it would have been a mock-hip omission.

Solid Response.

So, let's get back to our lives.

Work. Good work. Always work.

Friday, June 12, 2009

When Visiting NYC

Go sit on a sweaty plastic lawn chair in Times Square...sure. Why not? I have to say, it is something else to see a huge patch of road turned into a place for humans to plop.

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Much going on in the state of NY. The legislature has moved a wee bit to the right, through some secret cabal-coup. Looks like gay marriage could be passed over, again. How dull.

There's this:

A Good Smoke Reading at the Public, which is at capacity, or actually just a wee bit beyond. We need to lose six people, or have six people stand. Fine.

It is raining very hard. We have all the windows open. It's like a cool rain forest here in Queens. I highly recommend it! Makes me understand the exact kind of monkey I am.

Trees, trees, trees, please!

I think the blank look in the eyes of so many Southern California natives is because they never got in touch with their primal monkey selves. Or maybe they're just happy and calm looking because it's so nice outside all the time?

THE HIGH LINE IS OPEN! Can't wait to see it. You know--that old freight trestle that runs from The Meatpacking District to the 30's. They left it kind of rough and tracky with wild native plantings. Brilliant.

Clear air. Rain. Clear air. Rain. Clear air. Rain.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stand Piss Dance! July 1 @ 7PM

Cringe Fund


is being produced this summer in New York City at

The cast from Los Angeles is going to New York for a month to work on the show. Festivals are freebies, so we're having a fundraiser to raise some cash for flights, food and more!


Karen Kilgariff's hilarious musical stand-up comedy

PISS PLAY, the actual play, by Don Cummings
w/ Carla Barnett, Flip Laffoon & David Youse


The Burlesque of the divine RED SNAPPER

El Centro Theatre
804 or 800 N. El Centro Hollywood CA 90038
(2 Blocks North of Melrose, 1 Block East of Vine)

$30 includes Fabulous TRU organic Vodka "Tasting" @ 7PM
(Or all you can drink?)
The Show. Curtain up at 8.

Reservations: http://www.tix.com/Event.asp?Event=198746

or 323-936-3890

Any Questions? email

Monday, June 08, 2009

L’Heure d’été

Will Juliette Binoche ever age?

Will the French ever stop making high quality movies for smart adults?

Will huge, crumbling houses in the country, just a train ride from Paris, ever lose their romance and appeal?

Will etudes on loss, old age, families moving on, stuff moving on, everything moving on ever cease to be interesting?

And why does the IFC theatre in Greenwich Village smell like a mixture of mops and body odor?

(Plus—Charles Berling, will you always be this handsome?)

Look, L’Heure d’été (Summer Hours) was sad, beautiful, you name it. A simple story. Mom dies and the grown kids split the stuff up. It’s complicated, though, to handle the emotions of the experience. The oldest, as always, gets stuck with all the hard work. The other two siblings don’t even live in France any longer. They just come back to do what they have to do. Busy lives. Truly Western people living in the great big world, dealing with transition.

Loved it. But then, I am patient and love a movie about relationships, especially if the movie is shot well and takes place in an ideal setting.

Sure, these people do not have any REAL problems. But that means we can look at tiny realities and come away with great clarity. And of course, it is so about the former housekeeper. She reminded me of my grandmother.

Catch it. Renting it would be fine, too.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Art by the Ferry Sunday, June 7 @ 1:40PM

The lovely Marian Fontana is curating the readings at the Art by the Ferry Festival taking place this weekend and next throughout St. George. Numerous artists, writers, musicians and more from all over the city will be displaying their art, playing music, leading workshops and doing readings.

I will be reading tomorrow at at the Fishes Eddy building at 1:40PM, 139 Bay Street along with my talented writer friends from Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island and Beyond. It’s just a five minute walk from the ferry terminal.

So please support the arts by attending this FREE EVENT!! For more information log onto Art by the Ferry.

Friday, June 05, 2009


You Are Cordially Invited to
A Staged Reading of a New Play

By Don Cummings

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 @ 7:30 PM

800 North El Centro Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90038

(2 Blocks North of Melrose, 1 Block East of Vine, Easy Parking)

Directed by Ben Campbell


Dan Alemshah   Blake Anthony   Kimberly Bailey*
Carla Barnett   David Kaufman*   David Youse*

R.S.V.P.   LiveWorkSpace@yahoo.com

In every intimate relationship, one tries to find the better truth, to see a reflection of the greatness of being alive. We hope this truth will lead us to closeness with the one we love. But sometimes, the truth rends us asunder. Live Work Space humorously chides the truth out of two loft living couples in downtown Los Angeles while Disney Hall taunts them in the distance. Open sexual policies, a failed marijuana business plan and a dashed party to honor the homeless aggressively collude to destroy modern marriage in these lofty urban times. With corn and beaver.



West Coast Ensemble is
Under the artistic direction of Les Hanson and Richard Israel.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

What's New in the Hampshire?

With the exception of little Rhode Island, one can go anywhere, as a gay person, in all of New England (and Iowa) and get married. How nice for us!

New Hampshire: Live Free or Die.

New Hampshire is an interesting state. It is loaded with real old timey Republicans. State’s rights, don’t tread on me, libertarian-almost-sort of, Republicans. Republicans that I can even understand!

Ah, the Gay Rights Movement is on the march.

New York State is next.

Then New Jersey.

Then, let me guess:

Maryland will be after that.

Then Washington State.




New Mexico.



Rhode Island


Obama’s Reelection.




Repeal of Defense of Marriage Act.


Civil War.


Hillary Clinton is elected President, first woman and first widow. War continues.


Fuck it, we let the South go... and let them take the lower Midwest and Rocky Mountain States with them.


Refugee Camps. Ideological Relocation.


Balance and Sanity after much murder and mayhem.

And all because some people just can’t stand the idea of two penises or two vaginas rubbing together…

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

One Small Manipulation for Man, One Giant Help for Mankind

Obama is going on about telling the truth. Great. Good. Tell it. Especially in the Middle East. But I believe he is being a little dishonest with this Health Care Plan. Let’s face it. If there is a national health plan competing with private insurance companies, don’t you think it will put those companies out of business?

With the economies of scale, is it not possible that the government can simply wipe out Anthem Blue Cross, Healthnet, you name it?

Look, I hope it does. I am not going to pretend I like Anthem. In fact, I have NEVER been able to get private insurance coverage because of my silly allergies. If it wasn’t for my Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner having insurance through work, I would have had huge troubles.

So, a pox on Anthem and all the other companies that denied me insurance because I have the most common allergies known to man (cat, dust, mold, pollen). I will be happy to see them go down.

But to pretend that a system backed by the government will not put these beasts out of business and that it will only bring about healthy competition? I think Obama and the Democrats are telling half-truths. Spinning things, if you will.

I do see a day when all health care will be under the purview and care of the Feds. So be it. The fear that it will be inferior and all this talk (by Mitt Romney, etc.) comparing UPS to USPS and pretending UPS is superior because it is not owned by the government is such hogwash. In fact, I think the USPS works better, even if their workers do not get to wear those jaunty little brown outfits.

So bring on full federally backed health care. Sure, you sneaks. Do it.

Monday, June 01, 2009

What's Good for GM IS Good for the Country

I grew up on General Motors. My father worked for a Chevrolet dealership as a comptroller. We were middle class people, absolutely not fancy, but certainly well fed, well schooled, well traveled and loaded up with color televisions.

There was a sure solidity to our finances. Nothing Vanderbilty, but certainly not leaky-shack-in-the-woods.

My mother used to quote it this way, “You can always tell how the country is doing by how General Motors is doing.”

Why are moms always right?

She felt it because wives of husbands who worked for GM always felt it. And as we well know, women are financially intuitive, especially Italian ones!

So, Mom, yes…we can tell how the country is doing by General Motors.

These are beastly times.

But let’s get back to the 1950’s quote, “What’s Good for General Motors is good for the country.”

I agree. Retool it, Washington. Enough is enough. Though I love my 1992 Geo Prizm with its 151,000 miles, which still runs on gas, though not too much gas, I would say we have reached the end of the internal combustion engine.

People want to work. They want to build things they can be proud of. Plus, every century, psychologically, needs to ramp up toward the progressive amelioration of man’s balance with nature. There are so many workers who would take a job in a factory that builds the green engineered products of not tomorrow, but today. So let’s get to it!

In addition, those boss cats at GM were gray and dumb. Why people get gray and dumb is beyond me. So they can sit around? New world. New world. New world, please.

I’m being kind. Let’s hear a few words now from Michael Moore, who is also being kind, in his way.

Goodbye, GM
by Michael Moore
June 1, 2009

I write this on the morning of the end of the once-mighty General Motors. By high noon, the President of the United States will have made it official: General Motors, as we know it, has been totaled.

As I sit here in GM's birthplace, Flint, Michigan, I am surrounded by friends and family who are filled with anxiety about what will happen to them and to the town. Forty percent of the homes and businesses in the city have been abandoned. Imagine what it would be like if you lived in a city where almost every other house is empty. What would be your state of mind?

It is with sad irony that the company which invented "planned obsolescence" -- the decision to build cars that would fall apart after a few years so that the customer would then have to buy a new one -- has now made itself obsolete. It refused to build automobiles that the public wanted, cars that got great gas mileage, were as safe as they could be, and were exceedingly comfortable to drive. Oh -- and that wouldn't start falling apart after two years. GM stubbornly fought environmental and safety regulations. Its executives arrogantly ignored the "inferior" Japanese and German cars, cars which would become the gold standard for automobile buyers. And it was hell-bent on punishing its unionized workforce, lopping off thousands of workers for no good reason other than to "improve" the short-term bottom line of the corporation. Beginning in the 1980s, when GM was posting record profits, it moved countless jobs to Mexico and elsewhere, thus destroying the lives of tens of thousands of hard-working Americans. The glaring stupidity of this policy was that, when they eliminated the income of so many middle class families, who did they think was going to be able to afford to buy their cars? History will record this blunder in the same way it now writes about the French building the Maginot Line or how the Romans cluelessly poisoned their own water system with lethal lead in its pipes.

So here we are at the deathbed of General Motors. The company's body not yet cold, and I find myself filled with -- dare I say it -- joy. It is not the joy of revenge against a corporation that ruined my hometown and brought misery, divorce, alcoholism, homelessness, physical and mental debilitation, and drug addiction to the people I grew up with. Nor do I, obviously, claim any joy in knowing that 21,000 more GM workers will be told that they, too, are without a job.

But you and I and the rest of America now own a car company! I know, I know -- who on earth wants to run a car company? Who among us wants $50 billion of our tax dollars thrown down the rat hole of still trying to save GM? Let's be clear about this: The only way to save GM is to kill GM. Saving our precious industrial infrastructure, though, is another matter and must be a top priority. If we allow the shutting down and tearing down of our auto plants, we will sorely wish we still had them when we realize that those factories could have built the alternative energy systems we now desperately need. And when we realize that the best way to transport ourselves is on light rail and bullet trains and cleaner buses, how will we do this if we've allowed our industrial capacity and its skilled workforce to disappear?

Thus, as GM is "reorganized" by the federal government and the bankruptcy court, here is the plan I am asking President Obama to implement for the good of the workers, the GM communities, and the nation as a whole. Twenty years ago when I made "Roger & Me," I tried to warn people about what was ahead for General Motors. Had the power structure and the punditocracy listened, maybe much of this could have been avoided. Based on my track record, I request an honest and sincere consideration of the following suggestions:

1. Just as President Roosevelt did after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the President must tell the nation that we are at war and we must immediately convert our auto factories to factories that build mass transit vehicles and alternative energy devices. Within months in Flint in 1942, GM halted all car production and immediately used the assembly lines to build planes, tanks and machine guns. The conversion took no time at all. Everyone pitched in. The fascists were defeated.
We are now in a different kind of war -- a war that we have conducted against the ecosystem and has been conducted by our very own corporate leaders. This current war has two fronts. One is headquartered in Detroit. The products built in the factories of GM, Ford and Chrysler are some of the greatest weapons of mass destruction responsible for global warming and the melting of our polar icecaps. The things we call "cars" may have been fun to drive, but they are like a million daggers into the heart of Mother Nature. To continue to build them would only lead to the ruin of our species and much of the planet.

The other front in this war is being waged by the oil companies against you and me. They are committed to fleecing us whenever they can, and they have been reckless stewards of the finite amount of oil that is located under the surface of the earth. They know they are sucking it bone dry. And like the lumber tycoons of the early 20th century who didn't give a damn about future generations as they tore down every forest they could get their hands on, these oil barons are not telling the public what they know to be true -- that there are only a few more decades of useable oil on this planet. And as the end days of oil approach us, get ready for some very desperate people willing to kill and be killed just to get their hands on a gallon can of gasoline.

President Obama, now that he has taken control of GM, needs to convert the factories to new and needed uses immediately.

2. Don't put another $30 billion into the coffers of GM to build cars. Instead, use that money to keep the current workforce -- and most of those who have been laid off -- employed so that they can build the new modes of 21st century transportation. Let them start the conversion work now.

3. Announce that we will have bullet trains criss-crossing this country in the next five years. Japan is celebrating the 45th anniversary of its first bullet train this year. Now they have dozens of them. Average speed: 165 mph. Average time a train is late: under 30 seconds. They have had these high speed trains for nearly five decades -- and we don't even have one! The fact that the technology already exists for us to go from New York to L.A. in 17 hours by train, and that we haven't used it, is criminal. Let's hire the unemployed to build the new high speed lines all over the country. Chicago to Detroit in less than two hours. Miami to DC in under 7 hours. Denver to Dallas in five and a half. This can be done and done now.

4. Initiate a program to put light rail mass transit lines in all our large and medium-sized cities. Build those trains in the GM factories. And hire local people everywhere to install and run this system.

5. For people in rural areas not served by the train lines, have the GM plants produce energy efficient clean buses.

6. For the time being, have some factories build hybrid or all-electric cars (and batteries). It will take a few years for people to get used to the new ways to transport ourselves, so if we're going to have automobiles, let's have kinder, gentler ones. We can be building these next month (do not believe anyone who tells you it will take years to retool the factories -- that simply isn't true).

7. Transform some of the empty GM factories to facilities that build windmills, solar panels and other means of alternate forms of energy. We need tens of millions of solar panels right now. And there is an eager and skilled workforce who can build them.

8. Provide tax incentives for those who travel by hybrid car or bus or train. Also, credits for those who convert their home to alternative energy.

9. To help pay for this, impose a two-dollar tax on every gallon of gasoline. This will get people to switch to more energy saving cars or to use the new rail lines and rail cars the former autoworkers have built for them.

Well, that's a start. Please, please, please don't save GM so that a smaller version of it will simply do nothing more than build Chevys or Cadillacs. This is not a long-term solution. Don't throw bad money into a company whose tailpipe is malfunctioning, causing a strange odor to fill the car.

100 years ago this year, the founders of General Motors convinced the world to give up their horses and saddles and buggy whips to try a new form of transportation. Now it is time for us to say goodbye to the internal combustion engine. It seemed to serve us well for so long. We enjoyed the car hops at the A&W. We made out in the front -- and the back -- seat. We watched movies on large outdoor screens, went to the races at NASCAR tracks across the country, and saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time through the window down Hwy. 1. And now it's over. It's a new day and a new century. The President -- and the UAW -- must seize this moment and create a big batch of lemonade from this very sour and sad lemon.

Yesterday, the last surviving person from the Titanic disaster passed away. She escaped certain death that night and went on to live another 97 years.
So can we survive our own Titanic in all the Flint Michigans of this country. 60% of GM is ours. I think we can do a better job.

Michael Moore