The best way to find out if you can trust somebody...
...is to trust them.*
Letter from the editor Welcome! On the chance that you have picked up twenty-four without knowing what it is or how it came to be, please give me a moment to explain. This is a brand-new— practically infant—quarterly publication. This issue (and every one that we hope will follow) was made, entirely, from start to finish, in 24 hours. The object you currently hold in your hands doesn’t exist yet, as I write this at 2 a.m. on the morning of Friday, February 24th. This magazine is still taking shape. Sixteen hours ago it was only an idea. Eight hours from now it will be finished. At our first production meeting (yesterday morning) I asked my staff if they knew what this magazine was supposed to be about, and they shook their heads. “Great,” I said. “I don’t know either.” I asked them to try to make something people-driven, focused on our personal and specific experiences here in this space, as well as the larger experiences we each share as creative professionals. “The theme of this issue,” I said to them, “is trust.” We have been working together, in the past sixteen seventeen hours, to not only create this beautiful thing that we hope you will enjoy, but to capture the dialogue around it online. As you read this, I encourage you to also open an internet connection and visit twentyfourmagazine.com/issue-one, where you’ll be able to see how it was made, read our drafts, follow our conversations, and see silly photographs of us exhausted, jittering, and giddy. We believe that process is just as interesting as product; we hope that this magazine is a self-contained and whole experience in print alone, but we also hope that the added layers of complexity you’ll find online will make it a little more special. We raised the cash to pay for this adventure entirely on Kickstarter, which means that we are able to give you issue one of twenty-four entirely ad-free. It also means that we are incredibly grateful to the 158 (and counting) people who have trusted us with their money before we have anything to show for it. To each of them: thank you. This magazine started as an idea that I happened to have, and a few talented people who happened to find that idea exciting. To see it move from that first simple thrill of possibility to the wonderful, terrifying, sleepdeprived reality of this moment has been one of the
greatest experiences of my life. I have said “thank you” to each person in this room so many times that the words have begun to feel sticky, but I will keep saying them, over and over and over again. Andrew, Elissa, Kevin, Jack, Chris, Rich, Garnet, Elizabeth, and Roses: thank you. I am honored and moved by your trust in me, and in one another. Sixteen Seventeen Eighteen hours ago we set out to do something tremendous together. I don’t need another six to know we’ve done that. And you, reader, as you move your way through this hopefully beautiful, hopefully interesting, hopefully a little ridiculous and tremendous thing: thank you too. Best, Sara
The hardest part is trusting yourself enough to let go. - For Eugenia
10:03 a.m. - The Rules
11:24 a.m. - Friends and Free Drinks
Every hour, at 24 minutes past the hour, an alarm will sound. I will then sit and write for at least five minutes on a different element of trust. In between those times, I can do research and write notes about possible future themes, but I cannot do any writing that will be included in the final result outside of those time constraints. The work will be edited for clarity by the magazine’s copy editor. I trust myself to undertake this challenge with all seriousness.
Michael Molloy was a former firefighter and engineer who had fallen on hard times. He lived in the Bronx in the latter days of prohibition. He became friends with five men he met in a speakeasy, one of whom owned the place and gave him free drinks. Once drunk, they asked if he’d sign a piece of paper to endorse the bar owner’s run for public office. He obliged. The paper he signed was in fact an insurance document. The five had a deal with a corrupt insurance agent, who took out three expensive policies on Molloy. Then they tried to kill him. The bar owner, Anthony Marino, gave Molloy unlimited credit at the bar, expecting him to drink himself to death. After a while, Marino bored of this, and started serving him antifreeze. Then turps. Then horse liniment. Every day, Molloy drank his free drinks. Every night, as he left, the five men did not expect to see him again. Every day, he returned to his new friends at the speakeasy. They later confessed to police that things had escalated. They gave him oysters soaked in methanol. Sardines mixed with poison and carpet tacks. He passed out one freezing night, so they dragged him to a park and poured five gallons of water on him. He survived. Reports differ over what happened next. Some say that they chose another vagrant in the bar, gave him Molloy’s ID, and paid a cab driver to run him over. Others say that this fate occurred to Molloy himself. Whether the man or his imposter, the lucky curse persisted: three weeks later, the victim was out of hospital and back at the bar. Finally, Molloy’s new friends had their way. They challenged Molloy to a drinking contest, serving him wood alcohol to his opponent’s whisky. Once he had passed out, they pushed a pipe into his mouth and filled his lungs with gas. Eventually, mercifully, Michael Molloy died. A corrupt doctor performed a perfunctory autopsy, filled with the details the insurance companies required. But when one of the insurance companies tried to pay out, they found that the beneficiary was in jail. It was over an unrelated issue, but their suspicions were raised. The police were called and Molloy was exhumed from his pauper’s grave. The five conspirators were arrested. One was imprisoned; the other four went to the electric chair in Sing Sing. Records suggest their executions went smoothly.
Text by Andrew Losowsky Illustrations by Rich Watts
(Sources for this article can be found at twentyfourmagazine.com/issue-one)
A coming out... of sorts Sexuality/Professionalism: Intersections Thereof
Creative Coming Out Column
I constantly struggle with the question of how sex-full I can make my work before people stop taking me seriously. Not sexy, specifically, but sex-full; concerned with—perhaps obsessed with—sex and sexuality. Mechanics and metaphysics. I sometimes feel that I have painted myself into a corner as a creative professional. Four years ago I was writing a somewhat popular blog (about being a queer, poly, dominant woman); putting the finishing touches on an MFA thesis (a fiction novel set deep within my experiences in the kink and queer communities of New York); and starting an unconference about sexuality. I was making paintings about bodies, collisions, affection, and rope. A lot of my work made people I was close to uncomfortable. A lot of it still does. Today, it’s hard for me to provide writing samples, or talk about running blogs, or write an “events and organization” section on my resume without referring to those experiences. There is a great deal of oblique language involved in my professional identity. In fact, it is a little terrifying to speak so openly, right now. I don’t believe that fear is a valid basis upon which to form career decisions. But on the other hand, being afraid makes everything complicated. Especially when I’m never precisely sure what I’m afraid of. Closing professional doors? Being pigeonholed by people I hope to work with? Losing certainty that the people I love believe the life I lead is ethical? I recently applied to another graduate program, and my application was a masterwork of delicately worded allusions. I now believe that was wrong; my delicacy was in fact timidity, and timid choices discomfit me. Nevertheless, I make them. Sometimes they seem necessary. Sometimes they don’t get me into grad school. I’m not sure what the next step is in this process. I hesitate to make a sweeping statement concerning my future commitment to bravery and the molding of a professional life that encompasses all aspects of my identity. I have made that statement many times before, but it doesn’t seem to stick. As I said, being afraid is complicated. Instead, I will continue with I’ve been doing for the past four years: be out at times and timid at others, be happy when happiness comes, and move quickly out of moments of fear.
At this point in my life, it’s easy to claim my identity as a bisexual woman. I’ve been doing that for so long that it’s second nature. I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m used to it. I’m not nearly as loud and proud about the fact that I write erotica. When I sold my first story to Circlet Press, I was in graduate school. I chose to use a pseudonym so that searches on my name would only bring up my “professional work.” Since then, however, erotica has become one of my professions. I have placed stories in a dozen anthologies and published a collection of my own, and I’m very proud of my work. I just don’t know how to be out about it without risking damage to my reputation as a sexuality educator and researcher. Is the risk real? I think so. Sexuality professionals who come from a background of sex writing and sex work don’t seem to have the same level of respect and authority amongst their peers as those who come from a background in research or education. They’re described by the most tantalizing aspects of their histories instead of the most important aspects of their work. I don’t want that to happen to me. My academic and scientific works are hugely important to me. They make a difference in people’s lives, and I don’t want to sacrifice my authority for book sales. However, I also love writing erotica, not least because it’s professional fantasy fulfillment. I try to write the change I want to see in the world. In my day job, it’s rare that I get to talk about sexual pleasure without tempering my message
Sara Eileen Hames
On Coming Out
with warnings about risk and consequences. In my stories, I get to show people having joyful, explicit, intelligent sex, and focus on the ways that it’s incredibly hot. It’s a refreshing change from writing about sexually transmitted diseases and counseling people that it isn’t actually possible to get pregnant by humping a pillow1. Being out about my sexuality is important to me, because I care strongly about GLBT rights and equality. I don’t have a similarly political reason to be out about my erotica. I just want to live in a world where it’s more acceptable to talk about sex, and to enjoy it.
Yes, someone really asked.
The problem with coming out as kinky and polyamorous is that you usually have to explain what exactly you’re coming out about. Being gay is pretty self-explanatory but being into BDSM is a bit more complicated. As an erotica writer, my blog and my stories have been my icebreakers; my tools of communication, seduction, and negotiation; and eventually an almost passive form of outing myself to my friends and acquaintances. My family was another story. My mother had always been peripherally aware of my writing. When I started publishing things and getting more involved in the BDSM scene in New York, it became harder to keep quiet about the things I was proud of. When I designed the logo for an alternative sexuality conference called the Floating World, I showed my mother the booklet of presenters. She was happy to see my design work. As she perused the book, she asked me, “So these are things you write about, but don’t do, right?” “No, I do them as well,” I responded. My second-wave feminist, ex-hippie mother thought about that and then said, “So you hit women.” I wasn’t sure what the tone of the statement was: accusatory, questioning, disappointed? “Sometimes. Sometimes they hit me. Sometimes it’s not women.” She proceeded to ask me questions and I rationed out the answers I thought she could handle. In the end, I realized the tone I was trying to figure out was confusion. Once I explained particulars like consent, trust, and honesty, she was fine. All right, perhaps fine is an overstatement. She was less confused. At work, I’ve had to be equally careful with what information I give to whom. My philosophy has been not to be forthcoming with information, but never denying or lying about anything. twenty-four is one of the first non-kink, non-erotica endeavors I’ve been involved in under my pen name and “scene name,” Jack Stratton—and I’ve told people I work with about it. Once they learn my “other” name, that can lead them to by blog and my e-books and my “other” life. Once again, my creative work outs me. I’m a child of the internet, first generation. I communicate online, in text, in stories, blog posts, and email. My life is epistolary and so it only makes sense that I would come out in that medium. And frankly I like it that way. I came out in the same way I’ve lived: as a writer.
12:24 p.m. - Measuring Trust
We put our trust in measurements as a way of avoiding trickery or disagreement surrounding transactions. They need to remain stable and be agreed upon by all parties. So when it comes to two of the most common measurements used around the world, it makes sense that they’re kept securely in a vault. First, the measurement of length. The word “metre” or “meter” comes from the Greek for “universal measure.” It was decided by the French academy in 1766, and confirmed by royal French decree, that a measurement called the metre would represent exactly one ten-millionth of the distance from the north pole to the equator. Following a long and complex measurement process involving the triangulation of church spires and towers on the route from Dunkirk to Barcelona, a platinum rod, the first meter, was made in 1799. This became known as “the Prototype Metre,” and officials traveled to Paris to measure poles and rods against it. In 1875, a Metre Convention was called by the French to establish a common system of measurement that would establish a single delineation of space that everyone could rely upon. The 17 signatories included Austria, Denmark, Russia, Italy, Turkey, Spain, and Germany. Given that many of them had been at war just a few years earlier and would be again fairly shortly, this was quite a feat. In 1899, a copy of the International Prototype Meter was created out of platinum and iridium, an alloy that hardly expands and contracts at all. It was an X-shaped bar, stored at 0 degrees centigrade, at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures near Paris. The meter was not alone. In the same vault, also constructed from the same alloy in 1899, remains the International Prototype Kilogram, a perfect cylinder roughly the size of a golf ball. There are seven versions held in Paris; working copies are held by other nations. They return to Paris sporadically (the last time was between 1988 and 1992) for cleaning and comparison with the original. The American copy is held at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersberg, Virgina. The weight of “a pound” is officially 0.45359237 of the weight of the International Prototype Kilogram. The proto-meter was retired in 1960, when a scientific constant was chosen to represent the distance. It is now calculated in relation to the speed of light in a vacuum. A new value for the kilogram, based on a fundamental constant of nature, is expected to be adopted by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in 2014. National Weights and Measures Day in the U.S. takes place in first week of March. The exact dates change every year. (Sources for this article can be found twentyfourmagazine.com/issue-one)
Zac Bruner (drinkicd.com)
is a crafter, a maker, a machinist, and an artist. Whether he’s working in steel or spirits, his collaborators trust him to build things that are beautiful in both form and function. All of the objects seen in these photographs are his creations. Although Zac isn’t a member of the twenty-four crew, when we went to gather handmade objects for a photo shoot about creativity, we realized that his work was all around us. There was a bottle of vodka on the table and a number of other, smaller objects in the pockets and purses of his many friends. After laying out the items for the shoot, we couldn’t resist asking him to stop by and visit so that we could also photograph the hands that did this wonderful work.
1:24 p.m. - Trust In Stories When I was nine years old, I became obsessed with the land of Narnia. I read the seven books in the series, over and over. I played out the scenes with my toys, particularly the moment when Aslan returned to life and he took the kids into battle with him and then the stuffed bear (Aslan) knocked over all the Transformers (the Witch’s army) and then defeated my sister’s My Little Pony (the White Witch) in a huge battle involving plenty of homemade sound effects. C.S. Lewis was, I precociously concluded, a genius. In a bookstore, I found a compilation of Lewis’s letters to children and adults and persuaded my mother to buy it for me. I saved the book for a special Sunday afternoon when I knew I would not be disturbed and settled down in my bedroom to read. Many of the letters, to be honest, were really dull. There were no characters or adventures. This was a very different kind of reading from anything I had read before. In an early letter, Lewis began to talk openly about Christianity. He mentioned his hope that children would see the truth of the words and deeds of Jesus made so clear within the Narnia stories. That this would help to spread the Good Word. At that moment, I stopped believing in God. I felt betrayed. This man had used children’s stories—a wholesome place of magic and goodness in which good characters were those who could be trusted completely—to trick kids into believing in Christianity. Everything that I had loved about the books suddenly turned sour. The worst thing of all was that I instantly knew it was true. Images I had created and obsessed over flashed in my mind. Aslan’s crucifixion. His resurrection. I felt stupid. I felt tricked. I had learned about metaphors in the most brutal of ways, and I was so angry that a writer would ever do such a thing. This crime had been perpetrated by a man of God—a different God from the one I had vaguely imagined as a burning fireball in space, but still, a man who felt that it was OK to sneak Jesus into a story. I was angry at Lewis. I was angry at Christianity. And God, the Fireball in Space—how could He allow such a thing? That was it. He was dead to me. There was no Fireball. There was only the sun. I still like Narnia, but now my favorite of the seven books is The Magician’s Nephew. Aslan doesn’t do much in that one.
10 creative things I have been paid to do By Elizabeth Boskey
Blog about the best holiday gifts for your pet
Speak in the voice of a girl less than half my age
Write an advice column
Make a PTSD grant more interesting
Design the website of a man who teaches yoga classes with his dog
Sew costumes for a Renaissance Festival
Convince people that I was British, named Amnesia, and kept locked in a restaurant basement
Sing “Here Comes the Bride” in the original German
Hit people with swords
10. Develop lesson plans for 6th grade science
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Shouting “awesome” in a The Awesome Foundation. “Don’t Forget to Be Awesome.” “Be Polite. Be Human. Be Awesome.” The internet seems to use this word a lot, and it doesn’t just mean “good” or “cool” or “successful.” There’s a more substantial idea in there, and at first it looks completely like a force for good. Part of why we’re saying “Awesome!” more is that we want to hear it more. It doesn’t matter if I’m sending you a link to an article about faster-thanlight neutrinos or a video of Maru jumping into a box; I want that one word back. But professional interactions are the same way. If I’m working with you on a creative project, and I’m scheduling a rehearsal or sending you drafts of a piece of my music or telling you how much money I was able to raise to pay you, that’s the word I want to hear. Maybe a generation ago I’d have been mailing contracts back and forth, looking for a signature on a form. But “Awesome!” can come back so much more quickly, and make me so much happier, than a contract in the mail. All of these interactions are coming together. Professional communications are looking more and more like friendly social interactions, and enthusiasm and approval are the new common currency, conveyed from one person to another in one word: “Awesome!” This universally casual approach to seeking and getting approval is great—mostly. It lets us do things more quickly and with less organization, infrastructure, and waste of time and resources. It lets us connect to each other more directly, and in a more human way. It also means that more of our interactions are conducted as though we were talking or writing to friends. For some people that makes life smoother and easier. But for other people, friends were never the easiest people to talk to. I’m a giant, giant geek. I grew up on a steady diet of “Be as smart as you can and the rest will take care of itself.” My social life was built around smart, awkward
people who spent middle school waiting for it to be over and talking on the internet. Then I went off to music school, where being smart didn’t count for as much. I’m a composer, and if you want people to play your music you have to just walk up to them and ask them. And when they say yes you have to schedule rehearsals and coach their performance and get them to do their best creative work for something that just came out of your head. For a geek who didn’t like social interaction, this was not the easiest trick to learn. But I did learn it and now people play my music. When I work with creative professionals, they know they can trust that they’ll be treated with respect, have a chance to do their own creative work as well as they can, and if I can possibly swing it, get paid. I’m good at this now, and when I think about treating business contacts as friends, I can relax a little bit. I also wind up treating my friends like business contacts, which in most cases they are. I look back at that first year of music school, when everyone thought I was a snob, as a time when a community that didn’t understand me judged me harshly. But it’s also a time when I didn’t understand the people in my life, and didn’t know how to communicate with them. I didn’t just learn how to talk to people, I learned how to be good to them. So while I grew up thinking that insisting on great social skills was unfair, I can also see that better social skills can make you a better person. That’s definitely been my story, and as social interactions become better documented on social media sites it’s hard to imagine a world where these new social pressures don’t force people to be better to each other. On the other hand, there’s still a voice in the back of my head that says it should be OK to not be great at people skills. People might be better to each other, but some of them will have been forced. And understanding social etiquette isn’t the only way to form connections. Even in the darkest days of middle school, when my stringy long hair was the least of my antisocial affectations, I had people to talk to. I had enthusiasms to explore and an early internet full
crowded internet of wonderful things, including people like me who weren’t so good at having or being friends. And you know what? Those people were just plain awesome. And we used that enthusiasm to build safe spaces filled with trust. We shared ideas, and we shouted “Awesome!”, and it made the rest of our unhappy social experiences easier to bear. Now it’s time to be careful. Doing stuff is easier. You don’t need a record company to make an album; you just need your friends. But suddenly your friends are your employees for the weekend and you owe them more than you did on Friday. Or suddenly you’re making a magazine with friends of friends for 24 solid hours. I like these people and some of them are my friends already, but maybe right now they’re my colleagues instead? If this were a normal job I’d have a script for how to treat them, but it isn’t and I don’t, so I fall back on the rules I have for my friends. In less than nine hours, though, we have a deadline, and I don’t know how the rules are going to work by then. We’ll have to be fast, and we’ll have to be professional. I think gradually we’re going to switch over to the rules we know from our jobs, and those won’t work quite right either since they’re designed for people who go home at the end of the day, not people who’ve been hyped up on caffeine this long. Really, we have no adequate framework for how to treat each other. And that’s okay; this is an experiment. When we stop knowing how to interact, at least we can focus on making something awesome. -Kevin Clark
2:24 p.m. - In Us We Trust Society thrives through trust. We employ it as an alternative to certainty. It allows us to focus on other things. We trust everyone around us to follow established rules, to stop at stop lights, to give and accept money as a medium of exchange, to abide by the arbitrary agreements upon which we have built our worlds. We trust large institutions— utilities, law enforcement, banks— to fulfill the purposes for which we understand they were designed. We trust that floors and ceilings will not collapse, that airplanes will land safely, that water and electricity will flow (but only when and where we expect them to). Behind every trusted piece of equipment, material, or institution are other people, who made and monitor and maintain them, people in whom we are constantly placing our trust. It’s only when things go wrong that we realize what we did.
3:45 p.m. - Trust Traps Maps are projections of reality that we trust to help us navigate through unfamiliar spaces. Also, they’re cool. However, they are expensive to research and to create, and while we trust mapmakers, they don’t trust each other. As it’s much easier to copy than to create, most maps today include “trap streets”—small fake streets that are placed on the map by its makers in order to prove copyright infringement. The A–Z Company’s map of Bristol, U.K. includes “Lye Street” in a place where no street exists. The official map of Michigan in 1978 featured the town of Goblu, the fictional birthplace of Road Pig in G.I. Joe, while Google Maps, which gets its data from Tele Atlas, features a block of streets on a bare mountain in Germany. (The Sky on Trap Street is a Tumblr log featuring pictures of the sky taken from Google Street View that were supposedly taken on the trap streets in the system.) Other copyright traps in authoritative sources that are made by the untrusting to catch the unwary include the New Colombia Encyclopedia’s entry on rural mailbox photographer Lillian Virginia Mountweazel (1942–1973). A German medical encyclopedia includes the fictional “stone louse,” a mite that eats kidney stones. And the urban legend–debunking webpage Snopes.com features the Repository of Lost Legends, which contains entirely fake discussions of invented myths. According to Snopes themselves, a TV show and a board game have so far reproduced content from this section, without permission. The first letters of “Tthe Repository of Lost Legends” spell out TROLL. (Sources for this article can be found at twentyfourmagazine.com/issue-one)
About a boy Growing up on the beautiful island of Saint Lucia, I was always loosely aware of the stigma and discrimination most people felt toward the homosexual lifestyle. I recall being nine years old when I first became aware of the fact that men and women are not the only pairing. This realization did not come through any visual means, or by actually knowing anyone who was homosexual. My first brush with the term came from the lyrics of dancehall and reggae songs that I heard on the radio and blasting from the walls of packed dance clubs until closing time at 3 a.m. As with learning any new language, you quickly want to learn the bad words first and how to say them and use them in proper context while blending them with your native speech. So it seemed only natural that the terms in these lyrics eventually made their way to my tongue. In the hallways and play yards of our school, my friends and I repeated keywords and common words from most songs that we heard, one of them being the famous Jamaican phrase “Batty Man.” As time went by we quickly forgot this term as we had nothing to relate it to; we simply didn’t understand it, and couldn’t perceive how two man could be together. We were that naïve in 1992. Over time there was one young man—I’ll call him Ryan—who began to stand out among the other guys in the village. He was three years older than my group. We would all play marbles, cricket, or cops and robbers, or rough horseplay mimicking an action or kung fu movie that we had seen. In between our mock battles we would glance at Ryan and notice that he would always opt to play with girls; he seemed to love jumping rope and playing dress-up. We eventually decided, using the only logic that we knew at our age, that his strange behavior came from being raised by girls. He had no male siblings or a dad around that we knew of; he lived in a house with his sister and two aunts. As time went by, Ryan’s dress style changed from regular jeans to marginal daisy dukes that he made himself. He started using the model runway walks that he practiced with the girls during play as his normal way of walking. Most of the older folks, who were well-traveled and had a better idea of what exists beyond and outside of our little world, knew and easily identified what the
changes were that he was going through. They made fun of him, and we eventually joined in, speaking about him behind his back and using him as reference for the songs that we had heard. We still had no further clue of what “homosexual” fully meant, so the term came to mean “a man who walks and dresses as a woman” to us. As time passed, making fun of Ryan became an afterthought. I believe we no longer saw him as someone threatening change in our tiny village. We didn’t know of anyone like him, so once we believed we understood him, we assumed we had nothing more to learn on the subject. About four years later, I was uprooted from my tiny paradise where I enjoyed eating guava, pineapples, and mangos on a hot sunny day, and I came to cold weather and a fruit I knew little about: the Big Apple. In my new life, I was engulfed by new experiences: new food, new friends, horseplay that now turned into new sports like baseball and basketball. I never gave Ryan a second thought. He was a past notion that didn’t make it into my new world. My first day in eighth grade, I walked into the restroom, trying to overcome nervousness from my Caribbean accent, which I found more frightening than being the only black kid in my class. (One of the many benefits of growing up in in the Caribbean was that racism didn’t exist; everyone was always friendly, welcoming and vibrant.) I guess the restroom door was just slightly locked, or the force I used pried it open. I walked into a make-out session between two young boys. Looking back now, I’m amazed I wasn’t shocked by seeing this, as I walked away with just a polite “Sorry!” Maybe my dad’s parting words get the credit. He said simply, “You will see new things that you’ve never seen before.” At the time I assumed he meant snow, apples, and pizza—but who knows. His advice helped me handle a lot of new experiences. Years passed. I took many trips back to St. Lucia, now a different person who was no longer constricted in thought, or restricted by lack of experience. On my most recent trip, I was enjoying a local beer when out of the corner of my eye I saw a long slender figure with a distinctive walk. It was the walk that brought a wave of nostalgia. My brain switched back to me as a
4:24 p.m. - Reaching Out
nine-year-old boy deflecting a downward strike with a high block, and out of the corner of my eye, seeing Ryan doing an exaggerated runway model walk. Just as I recognized him, he recognized me as my sister’s younger brother. He had grown about three feet taller than I had remembered. He was now fully sure of himself, and appeared much more enlightened. I offered him a beer and chatted, debating whether to ask him personal questions. I looked around for change, since I had evolved and thought others might have too. Some of the guys that I grew up with now hung out at the bar; they still made fun of Ryan, but it was slightly different. There was now an undercurrent of respect for this young man. Over a beer, I learned how he overcame his fears, being raised in a strict Roman Catholic village. Dealing with who he was with no TV, internet, or radio to influence him, he paved his own path, never lied to himself about who he was. In the end he overcame a village and found a partner. “I had no idea what was happening,” he told me. “I was too young. I just trusted myself, man.” A car honked, and he toasted me and walked away. Garnet Burke
5:36 p.m. - Shipping Promises The most trusted brand in 2011, according to a Milward Brown survey, was Amazon.com. What Amazon got right early on was that, while their stock and price were important, their delivery promise was more important. Better to say five to seven days if there’s even a small chance that it won’t get there sooner. Nobody will ever complain if it arrives in two. While publishers, independent bookstores, and libraries rail against the Seattle giant’s efficiently aggressive tactics, the public doesn’t care. If you keep every promise, people will trust you more.
A short route through Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, 1937. Trusty Trojan: a roysterer. Roysterer: One of a band of “rude, Roaring Rogues.” Rogue, wild: A born rogue ever on tramp. Beggar. Beggar’s Benison: “May your prick and your purse never fail you.” Prick-in-the-garter: A fraudulent game in which pricking with a bodkin into the loop of a belt figures largely. Bodkin: (sporting) One who sleeps in a bed only on alternate nights. Bed, go up a ladder to: To be hanged.
I Have a Message from Rose A theme song for Rose Fox, copy chief q = 100
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Repeat until you have an ending
6:24 p.m. - Trust Issues As a child I was told never to trust strangers. I wasn’t to speak to them or to accept presents from them. I should never get into someone’s car, or accept an offer of help from an adult, unless they were a police officer or a similar, trusted authority figure. Nobody ever said anything about Santa Claus. Here was a giant man with a white beard, who I had never met, and he wanted to give me presents. I was a very literal child, and he was no policeman. So, for many years, in the lead-up to Christmas, I wrote him letters asking him not to leave me any presents, and I shook my head wildly if my parents asked me to sit on his knee at the mall. After a few years of this, and following much conversation with my carefully poker-faced parents, I reluctantly agreed to allow him to leave my presents outside my sister’s bedroom. After all, if he was a stranger, then he’d get her first, and I might have time to escape.
Do You Believe in Miracles? If you think you can trust your taste buds, miracle berries will change that. They contain a protein called miraculin that makes sour food taste sweet. They’re hard to find—I found only one store in New York that stocks them—but I still managed to get 11 fresh berries for our team to chew. To test the effects, we set up a spread of foods including hot mustard, spicy chili sauce, goats cheese, lemons, limes, and salt-and-vinegar potato chips. After a minute of chewing the (fairly unpleasant) berries, some of us certainly couldn’t trust what we were eating: “These lemons taste amazingly sweet.” “The chips are like Froot Loops!” “The cheese is like cheesecake.” “My lemon-lime seltzer tastes like plastic.” However, half of our team didn’t seem to witness any oral miracles whatsoever. “This lime still tastes like a lime,” reported one unfortunate. “But fortunately for me, I like sucking on limes.” “Have we slipped into an alternate universe?” - Nancy
7:25 p.m. - Why You Can’t Be Trusted Psychology has a wonderful word: confabulation, meaning “honest lying.” This comes from the idea that we can’t trust what we think. The word is most commonly used to refer to the more entertaining ramblings of severe sufferers of Alzheimer’s—“I just played golf with the President,” that kind of thing—but it’s also true for you and me. What we remember might not be true. Our gut feeling might not be what we think it is. A couple of examples: According to Fiery Cushman at Harvard, people named Dennis or Denise are more likely than any other people to be dentists. People named Virginia are more likely to move to Virginia. People who are holding a cup of hot coffee claim a closer bond to their mothers than those holding cold coffee. Adam Alter at NYU wrote recently: “Self-identified Christians tend to behave more honestly when they’re exposed to an image of the crucifix, even when they have no conscious memory of seeing the crucifix in the first place.... Another experiment showed that Christians held lower opinions of themselves after they were subliminally exposed to an image of then-Pope John Paul II.” Our brain loves to create stories to explain everything, but it’s not very good at understanding where it gets its messages from. My favorite example: neurobiologist Roger Sperry and then–grad student Michael Gazzinga gathered a number of what’s known as “split-brain patients.” Due to severe epileptic attacks, surgeons had severed many of the connections between the left and right sides of their brains. As each eye is attached to a different hemisphere of the brain, the researchers devised a setup that allowed different images to be shown simultaneously to each eye. The subjects were asked what they could see when an image of a bicycle was shown only to the eye connected to the right hemisphere, which deals with perception and artistic ability, rather than the left, which deals with processing and language. “Nothing,” they responded. Yet when given a pencil, they would spontaneously draw a bicycle like the one on the screen. “Why did you choose those?” he was asked. The chicken goes with the claw, he replied. “And the snow shovel is needed to clean out the chicken coop.” It’s not that everything we think is bunk. But we certainly can’t be trusted. (Sources for this article can be found at twentyfourmagazine.com/issue-one)
Body trust As makers and creators, we use our minds and our bodies every day. When the twenty-four staff were discussing the issue’s theme of trust and the overall twenty-four examination of what it means to work (and play and live) in the media world, I picked up a pen to write on one of our wall signs and started to think about my injured arms, which are the most consistent limiting factor on how much I can do the work I love. I realized that every creator I know has at some point hit an unexpected physical limitation, a realization that our bodies are fallible in unexpected ways that affect our careers and our approaches to making art. I knew the other twentyfour contributors would be full of stories, and they didn’t disappointment. These transcripts have been heavily edited to conform to the magazine’s space constraints, but you can listen to all the interview recordings at soundcloud.com/24magazine (other than Sara’s, which was one of the files we included on the USB key for our most generous donors). I recommend taking the time to listen to what these very smart, very different people have to say about bodies and creativity and the shock of betrayal. In future issues I hope to explore that initial assumption of trust, and the difference between being betrayed by one’s body and never being able to trust it at all. Jack: Pancreas Well, I’ve always had a very strange relationship with my body in that it’s like a tank, like, all through my whole life. I almost never get sick. And I’m, like, strapping. And then, about six years ago, I suddenly got really weak. And I didn’t know I was diabetic. And I went into, like, full ketoacidosis. And I was in the ICU for a week. And then I was diabetic for, like, a year. And then I went to the doctor and he said, “You’re not diabetic anymore.” And then I lived my life for another three years. And then the same thing happened. And so now I’m more careful about things. But I don’t trust my body. And it’s the first time it failed me. And it’s worrisome.
8:25 p.m. - Trusts in Time
Rich: Posture and Movement I feel like I have too much faith in my body, in that, if something bad were to happen, I don’t feel like I take adequate precautions now to protect myself. And one of those things is definitely bad posture. I sit; I slouch. I’ve slouched my whole life. It didn’t really negatively affect me until I started working out of the distillery space in Sunset Park. I was using a chair that Zac brought in, which was very lowslung and very comfortable. And I ended up sitting a lot, because, when you’re that low and you’re that comfortable and it requires that much energy to get up, you just don’t get up. And that was the first time where I was like, “Wow, I should not sit anymore.” And so I built a standing desk that day. And I’ve been standing at work there pretty much ever since. And I feel like it’s the first change I’ve made for the sake of work in regard to my body. I still type on a flat keyboard, and I still use a magic mouse, and I do not have an ergonomic workstation. But I try and not do any of that for too long. I definitely feel like this space we’re in right now exists because I get really antsy if I can’t mix up what I’m doing throughout the day. It’s really important for me to have some sort of a mix. A certain amount of physical activity has to happen throughout the day, or my brain just doesn’t work as well as it would otherwise. Andrew: Fingertips I find myself chewing them a lot, my fingertips as well as my fingernails, especially when I’m working on something, trying to think about something. And I was talking to a friend the other day, and he mentioned that he’d read something, which is that, when you’re thinking, a lot of people lick their lips, or they stroke their lips, or something. And apparently it releases serotonin. And that helps us concentrate in some way. So, it might be connected to that. But all I know is that I have terrible ends of fingers. It’s not so much the nails; it’s just the skin on the fingers, which is a terrible habit. But it is something that I find helps me think and concentrate. So, I don’t have an easy solution for it. It’s strange because I’ve tried to stop myself or to, like, put things on the end or wear gloves or something like that, but then I feel like I’m deliberately trying not to do this thing that helps me concentrate. So, I find that I can’t trust myself not to need that in some way. So, yeah, I still do it. And I try not to make too much of a mess of my fingers.
Compound interest is when you calculate 10% interest per year on $100, and then in the second year you calculate interest not on that $100 but on the $110 you now have. It keeps on growing. Put a penny in a compound-interest trust, and in a thousand years, you have enough money to bankrupt the entire nation. That’s not a joke. In Benjamin Franklin’s will, he left a thousand pounds each to the cities of Boston and Philadelphia, to be invested with compound interest. The first portion was to be paid out after a hundred years, in 1890, and the second after a second century had passed. By 1990, the total payout was around seven million dollars. But that was mere pennies compared to what, according to the Fall 2011 issue of the ever-excellent magazine Lapham’s Quarterly, an eccentric New York lawyer tried to do last century. In 1936, Jonathan Holden started to place $2.8 million into “a series of five-hundred- and thousand-year trusts—just one of which, allocated to the Unitarian Church, would be worth $2.5 quadrillion upon its maturation in the 25th century.” Other trusts left to a small liberal arts college and (in homage to Franklin) the state of Pennsylvania, worth several trillion dollars on maturation. Known as “Methuselah Trusts,” these were very slow time bombs that would destroy the American economy the moment they matured. Eventually, the trusts were allowed to stand but had to pay out yearly, rather than accumulating such levels of compound interest. Lawyers for the IRS successfully fought against the trusts in a series of cases. In 1958, they argued that trusts would destroy “the tax base of the nation, if not the world.” It’s probably for the best that these trusts were brought under control. Pennsylvania’s nice, but I’m not sure I’d trust it to own the planet.
Chris: Eyes So, being a photographer, you’re super, super reliant on your eyes. Like, I mean, if they go, you’re done. You know what I mean? That’s also very scary. I mean, there’s other things—if you’re a writer, you could always write in Braille. You know, you could do other things. But, if you’re a photographer, you need to be able to see the light and so on and so forth. So, that’s it. So, I don’t know; I feel like I’ve put a lot of eggs in my eyes, in that basket, which is worrisome, a little bit. Like, I have this thing—you know when people get a laser pointer out? I just leave the room, because I’m just so paranoid about it. You know. I’ve actually really never told anybody that, but yeah, it’s just a thing I do. I’m like, “All right, you know what? I’m not risking it,” whatever. So, yeah, I don’t know; it’s an odd little concern. And, yeah, now I eat a lot more carrots, and I actually try to take care of my eyes. There’s not much you can do for your eyes. I mean, it’s not like you go to the gym for them or anything like that. But yeah, so I definitely take care of my eyes. Elizabeth: Voice I had my thyroid removed. One of the biggest risk factors for that surgery is damage to the vocal cord nerves. And my voice is very important to me in my work. I sing; I do voice acting; I speak as a presenter. And I’m used to being able to convey myself artistically and effectively through speech. And I was terrified that I would come out of this surgery damaged. When I woke up out of the surgery, I couldn’t talk at all. And I was in enormous amounts of pain, and my voice sounded funny. There were two or three weeks where I just spent the whole time terrified and having to reevaluate my sense of self as a creative person if my voice wasn’t there anymore. Finding a way to calm down and trust that everything had gone fine, and that everything would come back, was very, very difficult. For a while after that, every little sore throat was, “What if this is a side effect?” But it was strange, because I wasn’t worried about cancer. I was worried about performance.
Elissa: Head I would say, four years ago, I realized that I was having issues with depression. And then I had a day where I realized that I was spending every day waiting to be yelled at. Like, I could just feel my stomach clenched up. I was very tentative. When I don’t deal with what’s in my head it pops up physically, like my skin breaks out; I get hives everywhere. And I’m just miserable. And so, you know, realizing just how much working through what’s in your head affects your work, affects your physicality, your physical life, and, like, trying to understand the mind-body relationship and how much your mental state can impact your work—working on a project, in theater, as a director, you need to always be rallying the troops and keeping everybody moving forward. But, if you’re doubting yourself, if you’re falling down, it’s really hard. And being able to sort of keep tabs on yourself and spot tells and avoid them getting worse is really important for me. And I’m really grateful that I’m able to do that, because I think, if I wasn’t, I just don’t know how you would continue, because it’s just completely and utterly debilitating. Rose G.: Eyes I just got these glasses a couple months ago. I had had 20/20 vision my entire life. When my eyes started to get worse, I didn’t want to realize it. I kept thinking that it was because I transcribe for a living, because I stare at a computer screen all day. “Oh, it’s just that I’m not exercising my eye muscles enough. I’m just not looking far away enough. If I do some eye exercises, it’ll get better. I’m just straining them,” whatever, whatever, whatever. And I think I went on for a while actually not being able to see far away at all, and not realizing it, or refusing to accept that it was an issue. It is sort of that reminder that your body is fallible in ways that you haven’t come up against in your life yet. If all your senses go, what do you have left? What is there of you that isn’t a reaction to sensory information that you intake? And that was really interesting to me, just sort of coming up against those questions for something that is really a very minor problem: how much you don’t just trust what you see, but rely on the fact that you see at all, when you’ve always been a seeing person. Sara: Hair I invest a lot of—I guess you could say creativity into the way that I wear my hair. It’s not only an expression of creative self, but also an expression of gendered self and of mental self-image. And I feel more like myself when I have short hair. When I had my first “real” job, my hair was, like, down to my ears. I went home one day after work and I buzzed it. The next day, I remember the CEO walking into my office and saying, “Hello,” and then stopping and going, “Oh.” And her eyes got big. And then she sort of turned and left. I could tell she really hated it. But she was clearly too much of a professional to say anything about it. On the one hand, that taught me that professional people will usually accept you if your work is good. But it also told me that she probably wouldn’t have hired me if I had done that the night before my interview, as opposed to after having worked for her for six months. And so, a lot of my thinking about the way that I wear my hair and the way that I present myself after that was based around the idea of selling myself, and how I balance the choices that I make with things that give people confidence in me.
9:24 p.m. - Parental Guidance I’m not sure when it happened, but computers have now passed a critical threshold of mistrust among our parents and their parents. In the 1980s and 90s, the computers were the ones at fault. We didn’t trust them not to crash and lose our work. We didn’t trust them to understand what we were trying to do. We didn’t trust them to have the capabilities we needed. Now, however, things are different. My parents aren’t confident with their computer, but the problem is no longer with the machine—now they don’t trust themselves not to press the wrong button and to do something irreversibly bad. They worry that, if they were to click the wrong mouse button, their laptop would somehow delete everything, download a thousand viruses, and reveal their credit card details to Facebook. However much I try to reassure them, they still approach the machine with a combination of excitement and trepidation, as if they crave the warmth of the fire and yet also might get burned. Their machine, they know, has the capability to do almost anything, and they are thrilled by that idea. Within a few clicks are surely wonders unimaginable—yet somehow they also seem to feel a little deceived by how simple things were when I stood next to them, and how impossible it all seemed the moment I left the room. Without the confidence to click and explore, they stumble and think they have fallen when in fact all that happened was that the wi-fi briefly went down, an event that had nothing to do with their actions. The saddest fact for me is that they both phrase any queries about computer-related matters in terms that stress their perceived inadequacies with modern computing. Every problem is prefaced with “I think I might have pressed the wrong thing.” “Even if you did,” I try to reassure them, “there’s nothing you can have done that could be too serious. It’ll be fine. Just restart.” They do, cautiously, and with apology. “I didn’t know if I should do that. I didn’t trust myself to do it right,” they always say. If my parents no longer trust themselves around the technology that they use, perhaps we’re not building it right any more.
Rose F.: Arms After I dropped out of college, I got a job at my favorite computer store. I would pick up a 19-inch monitor in its box with all of its packaging, and I would carry it around. Then I took a very oldfashioned architecture class where it was your pencil in your hand and you on your stool, at your gently sloped desk that was probably somebody’s idea of ergonomics back in the 1800s and has persisted to this day. And my right arm just crapped out. I went from being this person who could haul things around to being this person who got up every half-hour and went over to the wall and stretched. So, I was at the point where I couldn’t lift my hands to wash my own hair. And I couldn’t type, and that cut me off from communication. Everything was built around, my whole life became, my arms. I trust pain to let me know when I have screwed things up and pushed too far. When I take anti-inflammatories, I have to trust my intellect—remember to stretch, remember to ice, remember to rest—because the pain is not there telling me, “Stop. Stop it now.” So that’s kind of the progression. I started out trusting my body to be well, and then I started out trusting my body to tell me when it wasn’t well, and now, in order to make my body well, I have to basically mummify it and shut off the alarm so that I can function. It’s scary. It’s very hard. Kevin: Wrists I’m a composer. I don’t perform; I’m a writer. That’s actually a very unusual thing, and it’s sort of against type. So I tried to become a better pianist, and working too hard at that and not paying proper attention to the technique led me to injure my wrists pretty badly. I could hardly work, couldn’t make things, couldn’t read, couldn’t type that much. I spent a lot of time watching television with ice packs or heating pads. I had to get used to these shocks where I’d exacerbate my wrists, and suddenly I wouldn’t be able to make anything for a while. Up until then, my creative life had always been about, when you find the energy to do something, just do it. Let it take over. Go into the flow and be creative. And I had to get used to that shutting off, to being completely in the flow and having to stop. To the extent that I can predict the behavior of my hands, I can, in fact, trust them. I know what they’re going to do. And what they’re going to do is shit. But that doesn’t feel like trust. Like, I can trust that shitty people will be shitty, but I can’t trust them. That’s kind of how I feel about my wrists.
Garnet: Legs I have the tiniest legs I’ve ever seen on a guy. When hiked Mount Washington, I noticed that my legs are really the weakest part of my body. It was excruciating pain going up the mountain. Most of the people I hiked with, they have hikers’ legs, I would say. Everyone has very toned calves and very sculpted legs. Throughout the entire hike, I paid close attention to everyone’s legs in comparison to my legs. After that trip, I said to myself, “If I am going to actually take photographs outdoors, maybe I should join a gym, but only to work on my legs.” In my mind, I’m not actually working out. I’m actually building a body part to use for a hobby, if that makes any sense. And I eventually joined a gym and started working on my legs, but I haven’t seen much difference. I think it all boils down to bone structure. You could build up your calves, but you can’t actually do anything with your ankles. I got to a point where I am actually comfortable with my legs. But I’m realizing that I will never actually change the size of my ankles. I finally hiked in St. Lucia. We have the Pitons, which are the most highly photographed landmark that we have. I finally took my camera up there. And I had no troubles with my legs. And I felt like I accomplished something, and it helped in some way with my creativity.
IMDB It would be a great service to humanity, By which I mean to me, If someone with encyclopedic knowledge of film and television, Who can recognize actors from the back in still photographs, And name that movie star in less than three words, Would start a 900 line.
10:25 p.m. - Trust-e-ness I remember this girl, Kaycee, who was getting a lot of attention online. It was 2000, and she was struggling with cancer. She appeared in the New York Times talking about blogging. People were sending her things. Some even talked to her on the phone. It was an amazing moment where people were connecting online in a meaningful way. And then she died. And then this post appeared on a website I followed, saying, “Is it possible that Kaycee didn’t exist?” It wasn’t only possible, but it was exactly what happened. “Kaycee” had been blogging for two years when she “died”—and all that time she was the invention of a middle-aged woman called Debbie Swenson. The hoax had been ongoing and bizarre. The term “Münchausen by Internet” began to be used for internet users who mobilize sympathy by offering false stories of illness. There’s a growing amount of medical literature on the subject. It touches on a theme common to anyone who has been hoaxed or deceived: is it better to be the kind of person who might occasionally be tricked, or to be the kind who doesn’t trust anyone at all? I have posed as other people on the internet, and was for a few days (falsely) accused of being the author of a high-profile anonymous sex blog. I do believe in the right to online privacy, and also the need educate people about online untrustworthiness. Trust is an increasingly important online metric. “Klout,” thousands of followers, and hundreds of likes all suggest that something is true and real—but they are little more than circumstantial evidence, as much as we want to place value upon them. On the internet, nobody knows if you’re sick as a dog.
Then my mother Could dial it to ask “Why does that actor look familiar?” Or “Don’t I know the voice from this commercial?” Instead of bothering me. I’d even be willing to pay the fee.
“If only I could figure out a way monetize my relatively uncanny ability to recognize relatively unknown stars from the back in still photographs” - Jason
11:32 p.m. - Bones Nine years ago, I was in a cemetery in Havana. One of the people sweeping the cemetery asked me if he could show me something. Sure, I said. He took me to a tomb where the slab was divided into two horizontal halves. Each half was punctuated by three diagonal holes, dayold flowers poking out of each center hole. It was the grave of a woman who had died two years previously, age 83. “This woman,” said the man, “she loved to play dominoes. She was very competitive. She would never let me win.” “You?” “She was my grandmother. She would accuse me of cheating all the time, but I never cheated. Why would I? This was my grandmother! She had just won a game against me, a really close game. She placed her final domino down, laughed, and then down fell on the floor. I called an ambulance, they took her to the hospital, I went too. She died in there in less than an hour.” “I’m sorry,” I said. “But you know what happened? The doctor comes out and he says, ‘Mister, I’m afraid your grandmother is dead. And when we were trying to revive her, this fell out of the sleeve of her dress.’ He hands me this domino. The double three. She had been cheating all along! “So when they told me she could be buried here, I knew this was how she should have her grave. She really loved playing dominos.”
24 meets 24 twenty-four’s Rose Ginsberg interviews 24 Hour Plays’ Sarah Bisman ROSE GINSBERG: How did you get involved with the 24 Hour Plays? How long have you been working with them? SARAH BISMAN: I first got involved when my boss was asked to write for the first-ever celebrity show and I begged to come along and volunteer. I have worked with the company since September 2001 and was made a full member in summer 2004. Basically I flung myself around Tina Fallon’s ankles and refused to let go. It worked out pretty well. ;) RG: What specifically do you do as producer? Are you involved for the full 24 hours straight? How much of your work gets done in advance? SB: Over the last 11 (ulp!) years, I’ve been involved all over the building—wherever that happens to be. NOT with tech. I leave the tech bits to people who know far more about that stuff than me. But over the years I’ve been involved with everything from the writer overnight to casting to liaising with our sponsor’s PR firm. During one of the celebrity benefit’s early years, I went down to the TKTS line and talked up the show; the last time I was in England I helped stuff programs. My strengths are the writer overnight and liaising with the talent—we are asking people to produce a lot of work in a very short amount of time. I like facilitating that process. 24 hours straight? Technically, no. We producers work in shifts—the whole show does, really. Once our meet-and-greet/production meeting has drawn to a close, everyone is sent home but the writers and the staff facilitating the overnight. We make everyone else come back incredibly early, and then the overnight people sleep. Or try to. Sleep is hard to come by when the adrenaline is pumping like it does during these shows. Some people are way better at it then others. For a couple of years I stayed over at the benefit director’s apartment, but we ended up fine-tuning logistical bits instead of taking a nap! I’ve built up a
tolerance to sleep deprivation, though. If the project is as awesome as this one is, I can run on very little. But it takes a few days to recover from producing the 24 Hour Plays. A lot of our work gets done in advance. None of it involves the actual creation of the new work itself, but a lot of production has to happen in order to bring together six or seven writers, six or seven directors, and around twenty-four actors. More if we’re doing the musicals. Or if the show is overseas. RG: What is the process for setting up each new production? Are there lots of specific steps? How regimented is the process? SB: The 24 Hour Plays were founded in 1995, and we’ve been doing celebrity fundraisers for Urban Arts Partnership since 2001. A lot of our setup is down to a science, but when we move into a new city or work with a new company, we adjust and adapt. Each theater or beneficiary we work with has different needs and different resources—and I mean physical resources, like rehearsal space, etc. So doing this requires a great deal of flexibility. The casting process for one of our larger benefits starts in earnest a few months before the show, but everything is subject to change. The same goes for booking writers and directors. It’s regimented enough that we can train producers in other areas to do what we do in the way that we do it. RG: Are there specific guidelines for actors, writers, or directors? I see the actors bring props. Do writers have a set theme or things they have to include? SB: We ask that everyone who is participating on the talent side (actors, writers, directors) each bring a costume and a prop, and come prepared to tell us what they’ve always wanted to do onstage. We do not have set themes or things the writers must include. A couple of years ago one of our writers convinced all the others to work in a line from a play
our founder’s then six-year-old daughter had written. But that was all them, for fun.
SB: We get a lot of repeat audience members who are fans of the process or of people involved in it, or both.
We ask that the writers arrive free of preconceived notions, without having prewritten a thing. The challenge here is to create from scratch, writing specifically for the actors the writer has selected.
We do our “tick tock” at the top of the show, to walk anyone who may not already know through our process, how much the actors, directors and writers have been through, etc. So if you’ve come to see someone you like but don’t really know what they’ve been up to all day, we arm you with that info.
RG: What’s different about the process of creating the 24 Hour Plays from the process of creating a “normal” show? How does the time limit change the experience for the participants? SB: To a certain extent, everything is sped up and smooshed together. We require a fully staged production of each play, so that means everyone has to be memorized, everything has to be blocked, etc. It’s like a normal show on speed. We are almost always using an existing set—whatever the theater we’re renting happens to be producing at the time. We are limited to what we have been allowed to touch, move, sit on by the host production. Sometimes we have a blank stage, which is when we bring in Susan Weinthaler to create our amazing abstract string sets. What’s different? Well, we’ve usually mostly sold out before we open! And our press happens predominately in the lead-up to the show. We also know we’re going to close the night we open, so there’s no stress there to sustain a long run. As a performer, I’ve found the time limit to be both maddening and freeing—there’s less time to evaluate the choices you’re making, but on the other hand, there’s less time to evaluate the choices you’re making. You have to go big and go confidently. It can be really scary, and really rewarding. RG: What’s different about the 24 Hour Plays for the audience? How are they a part of the process? How is their experience different from watching any other show?
Very often, we’re doing our larger scale shows as benefits and our ticket sales are a giant part of that. So we very literally would not be there without them, and we remind them that that is the case. Anything can happen and usually does. Our audiences are tremendously good-natured and supportive. Our performers are sometimes tasked to do some really zany stuff, and are sometimes asked to master large chunks of text. Our audiences are there to be entertained, but are also friends to the process. That’s terrific because we can both wow them with our skill and share in the unexpected moments. RG: What is your favorite step of the process? SB: So hard to choose! I love the meet and greet because it’s nice to see people from different performance avenues mix and break the ice and start to have fun. I love the writer overnight because brand new, original plays are coming to life all around me. I love getting to peek in rehearsal rooms and see how things are coming together, and I love watching the fearless performances. So basically I love it all. The afterparty is fun too. RG: What excites you the most about the 24-hour deadline? SB: Come hell or high water, we will have a fully staged production of 6 (or more) brand new pieces of theater 24 hours after we start. We are collaborating on something amazing and ephemeral and we will reach the finish line together no matter what.
RG: What’s your favorite memory of a crazy 24 Hour Play moment—a celebrity interaction, a screw-up, a last-minute miracle? SB: It’s hard to choose. Honestly, there are like 10 every year and it’s a pretty even split between “amazement at the process and the art” and “oh, wow, I really get to make this happen and work with these fantastic people.” I asked Rachel Axler (currently of FOX’s New Girl) to step in at the last minute and fill one of our writer slots in LA this summer—she graciously agreed and then wrote us a play that was hilarious, heartwarming, and fantastic—a success on every level. It featured Jack McBrayer as a bear translator (from English to Bear, etc). People were laughing so hard they were crying, and the cast really had fun putting it together. One of my non-producing memories? I geeked out about television back stage with Matt Smith at last year’s Los Angeles show. I’d held on to my super nerdy Doctor Who fan situation through the whole process, and then there I was, chatting up a Time Lord in a Batman suit. RG: Trust is always important in theater, but is there another level of trust for participants in the 24 Hour Plays, or a different way it comes into play? SB: Absolutely. Like I said before, we’re condensing a great deal of the theatrical experience from several weeks into a single day. People really have to commit to trusting each other and commit to being good creative and production partners in order to make the work happen and to have fun. And everyone does work really hard to earn one another’s trust, I think, on all sides. It’s rare to encounter someone in this process who isn’t a team player. Rose Ginsberg
12:26 a.m. - Tryst
1:24 a.m. - Power to the People
“Don’t you trust me?” “This isn’t a question of trust.” She looked at Lexi, squinting in the glare of the sun that was shining directly over her shoulder. “You don’t know how deep it is. You’ve never done it either.” “Do you trust me or not?” “It’s not about that.” “Why won’t you answer?” Jen looked down at Lexi’s bare feet, seeing the creases around her ankle still stained by the mud and sand from the previous night. She thought for a moment about all they had done in the previous day. What Lexi had done, really, and she had almost done, what she had witnessed and had managed not to tell her parents. Of course she didn’t trust this wild figure, seven months and three days younger than she, yet so alive and confident and brave. How could she trust someone who lied so casually to adults, blamed Jen for things Lexi herself had done and then grinned when Jen had confronted her about them, close to tears? She looked back up at Lexi, who was crinkling her nose, making her freckles push together. “Trust me, Jen. Please” Jen looked again over the edge, and then back at Lexi. “You’ve never done it.” “So?” Jen looked down at her pink plastic beach shoes. Without moving her gaze, she reached out a hand. Lexi took it. Jen knew the grin she would have on her face. That was part of the reason she had done it. She looked up again at Lexi. “I trust you.” She grinned back. And together, they jumped.
In Nigeria, the only electricity company in the country cannot be trusted. Between 1972 and 2005, the national power company was called NEPA, or National Electric Power Authority. However, among the people, it stood for Never Expect Power Always. The power would frequently cut out, all over the country. In some towns, the blackouts would last for several days. People either owned gasdriven generators or used flashlights, lamps, and candles while they waited for the power to return. By 2005, the company had decided it had had enough of being made fun of. NEPA had a huge branding problem, so it renamed itself the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, or PHCN. However, if you ask most Nigerians what PHCN stands for, the answer is simple: Problem Has Changed Name. The blackouts continue.
2:24 a.m. - Things I like trusting... My wife My friends My parents My sister My landlord My brain My body My #24mag colleagues My fellow New Yorkers My shoes My future I have to trust... My cell phone provider My internet provider My electricity provider My water supplier My computer My cell phone My apartment My laundry My employer I want to trust... My government
3:24 a.m. - Trust Bias Bill is fun, trustworthy, spontaneous, cynical, angry, and jealous. William is jealous, angry, cynical, spontaneous, trustworthy and fun. Who do you like more? This is an example of what is termed “serial position effects.” We process the first items in a short list more effectively than later ones—one of many cognitive biases that affect our thinking, and can influence how we view people and how others view us. So if you want to be trusted by people you meet, don’t start with an apology.
Sexuality on the straight I love being a freelance creative professional and sex educator, which makes it hard for many people to understand why I’m in the process of training to become a sex therapist. The only explanation I can give is that I’m angry and frustrated with the sex therapy establishment, and I want to do something that will make a change. It all started two years ago when I enrolled in the sexuality attitudes reassessment (SAR) that I was required to take as part of my process of certification as a sex educator. There is, although few laypeople are aware of it, a national organization that certifies sexuality professionals, and I wanted their stamp of approval on my work. Intellectually, I knew that I was good at my job, but I was insecure enough to want outside verification, which to me meant American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) certification. The process for getting that certification was so intimidating that I put off applying for several years. Finally someone pointed out that I might be eligible for the easier application designed for people who had been working in the field of sex education for more than 10 years. It took the amount of documentation required from overwhelming to possible, and once I had gotten my paperwork assembled, all that was left was my SAR. I expected to enjoy the experience. I was familiar with the techniques used from my graduate education and teaching work, and I always love talking about sex. I found the SAR interesting, learned a lot about sex What is a Sexuality Attitudes Reassessment? The goal of a SAR is to help participants examine their values, assumptions, and prejudices about sexuality, so they can become better acquainted with potential sources of discomfort. The theory is that identifying both positive and negative triggers in advance will make it easier for the therapist to deal with them when they come up with a client. In a SAR, most organizers will show two pornographic films in parallel so that participants always have something else that they can look at if one of the images is too disturbing. In the undergraduate sexuality course taught by my thesis advisor, using the same technique, students often stated that what they found most disturbing were images of elderly people having sex.
and disability, and discovered how much my feelings about age and sex had changed in 15 years, but by the end of it, I wanted to pull out my hair. No one in the group, not even the trainers, was capable of talking in an open-minded and nonjudgmental way about GLBT issues and alternative sexualities. I was, once again, the only queer woman in a room full of straight women and gay men, and the way they talked about queer sex—including activities I’d happily engaged in—made me feel like a pariah. I looked around the room and thought to myself, “If I needed to see a sex therapist, if I was in trouble, I wouldn’t trust any of these people to help.” As I left the room, I fervently wished that more sexual minorities would get involved in sex therapy, but I didn’t think that one of them would be me. That changed after I enrolled in a 120 hour course in sex therapy, with the goal of supplementing my documentable education hours if my certification didn’t go through on the first try. If I had thought the SAR was frustrating, it had nothing on my sex therapy training. After almost every six-hour day, I would walk out of the room gritting my teeth. I was surrounded by mental health professionals who, with few exceptions, were less literate about gender and sexuality than most of my self-educated friends. Some of the conversations I had with my fellow future therapists were horrifying. Coming from a sex education background, where I was taught to value diversity and inclusiveness above all else, I struggled to deal with a course where the only sex the instructor described was the monocultural, heteronormative sex following the scripts of straight, white couples over the age of 50— her client base. As a member of a community that
and narrow On Terminology I use the terms GLBT and alternative sexuality not because they’re the best terms available, but because they’re the vocabulary I hear most within the community I’m discussing. GBLT— which stands for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender—is easier to type than GLBTQQIT (queer, questioning, intersex, and two spirit), but is also less inclusive. As for the designation of certain sexualities as “alternative,” it’s a questionable one. Recent studies have suggested that a growing number of American adults practice sexual behaviors that are traditionally considered outside the mainstream.
regularly has discussions about topics such as gender fluidity and androgyny, I was alarmed to discover that only a tiny proportion of my professional classmates were familiar with the word “queer.” Still, even in the midst of my irritation, I was starting to find a passion for the actual work of sex therapy. I thought it was something that I could be good at. I thought that I could be a much needed resource for the local sexual minority community. I just wasn’t convinced that I was ready to go back to school. Then a colleague insisted that it was inappropriate for sexual minority therapists, or therapists who were comfortable engaging with sexual minority communities, to advertise that fact when seeking clients for their practice. They said there was no reason that gay patients, trans patients, or kinky patients couldn’t get just as much from seeing a heterosexual, cisgendered, vanilla therapist as they could from talking to a doctor who either specialized in working with their community or personally shared some of their experiences. Of course there’s a reason. While there are welleducated, compassionate, heterosexual, cisgendered, vanilla therapists who can talk to sexual minority clients without judgment, censure, or the assumption that their sexual orientation is the cause of any problem they’re having, they aren’t necessarily common. Far too many of my queer, kinky friends have been forced to spend hours educating their doctors about their sexuality, and had it pathologized even when it was only peripheral to the reason they were seeking care. It shouldn’t be the patient’s job to give the doctor basic education about sexuality and gender identity, even if it is important to their care to explain what the terms they use mean to them.
Patients shouldn’t be afraid to trust their doctors with their sexuality, but they often are—and with good reason. When you’re queer, questioning your gender identity, or interested in dominance and submission, disclosing that information to a doctor risks judgment and censure, just like disclosing to anyone else. That’s why there’s a Kink-Aware Professionals list, and why many patients look for therapists who advertise a comfort in dealing with sexuality. It lowers some of the barriers to communication and good care. I shouted, and I cited, and eventually I convinced a few people that I had a point. For a few days I thought I might be able to relax and go back to my normal life, but then it was time to start arguing with the people who try to frame all female masochism as reinforcing Freudian cultural archetypes. It seemed that I had only two practical choices if I wanted to avoid the overwhelming desire to fling my computer across the room: I could either ignore the conversations in my classroom and professional community, or get the education I need to engage with them in a way that would encourage change. I’ve tentatively decided on the second, and have been accepted into a clinical degree problem. Hopefully acquiring another three letters after my name will not only allow me to serve people who need an educated ear but also help me encourage my future colleagues to bring more of a sex-education perspective to patient care. In the meantime, I have another 60 hours of sex therapy training to go in my current classroom. If you listen carefully, you can probably hear the sound of my screams. - Elizabeth Boskey
4:24 a.m. - Reaching Out
5:39 a.m. - Hierarchies of Trust
Hello? Can you help me? Hello? Anybody? Jesus, someone please, I need to... hello? Excuse me. Excuse me. Can you help me find the way out? Thank you, ma’am, sometimes it can be hard to... Please, just take my elbow, that’s all. Thank you. Thank you so much, ma’am, yes, I’m changing to the R train. Can you help me? Oh, well at least can you lead me to where the R splits from the F, I’ll find someone else? This is kind of you, thank you again, I don’t usually go on the subway, not on my own. I wanted to go to the site, visit my friends, but they didn’t want me to so I had to... OK, thanks, ma’am. You have a great day.
You may have noticed that the time stamps here haven’t stuck to the challenge I created for myself. I trusted myself to stick to 24 minutes past, every single hour. I trusted that it would be possible. But circumstances haven’t always allowed it. Trust, as I stated at 2:24 p.m., is an alternative to certainty. Reality intervened. Most important in the environment of this kind of project is to be a trusted and trusting member of the group; walking out of a crucial meeting or abandoning someone at a crucial moment in their own work, merely to fulfill an arbitrary deadline, could potentially compromise others’ trust in me. And if I encourage others here to trust me, and put my trust in them—almost everyone here didn’t know me before we began the project, so I have no “previous credit” of trust with them—then that will ultimately help both me and us succeed. When I set the challenge, I hoped that circumstances would be ideal; they never are. But more important to me is that I am a full member of a group that needs to trust every member in order to make this magazine happen. I don’t feel I’ve let myself down; I’ve merely redefined the order of my priorities of trust. My initial level of trust allowed me to set up a limitation that has proven highly useful. Now I trust that we’ll get it all done, together.
Hello? Hello? Anybody there? Hello... oh hey, can you lead me to the R train? I need to go to Manhattan. Thanks, kid, just let me know when I’m near the bottom of the stairs. Now? How many steps, kid, “that’s pretty near” ain’t no good to me right now. Great. Now can you help me get to the right side of the platform, kid, get me safely on the train? That’s great, thank you, kid. Yeah, I’m going to the site to visit my friends, I haven’t been back since I got like this, so I thought maybe I could go back and see them, see what’s going down, I mean I guess I won’t be seeing a lot but you know what I mean. It was only like six months, it’s still pretty weird you know? Ha. Yeah, people ask, they always say that. No, kid, I ain’t. No super hearing or smelling or nuffin. But I’ll tell you one thing, you learn a lot about people when you’re like this. You learn a lot. The minute you... Is this the train? Great. You know, I used to take this train, twice a day for eight years, kid, and now I don’t even know it when it’s right in front of my nose, you just don’t think, ya know? No, it’s OK, thank you, ma’am, I don’t need to sit, I’m fine right here, can you tell me when it’s Second Ave? It’s near there, Second and Third, that’s where they’re building that new tower, that’s where I was, six months ago, you don’t think. No, sir, I don’t want to sit. No. No! I said I’m OK! Jesus, leave me alone, I don’t need to sit, OK? Just because I can’t see, I’m no cripple, I don’t need to sit all the time, the stick is for tapping, not for walking, you stupid...whatever, I don’t even know what you are. Hey, kid, you still there? You gonna tell me when I’m near Second Ave? Kid?
6:24 a.m. - Trust in the Words of Others “Trust yourself, then you will know how to live.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe “I trust no one, not even myself.” Joseph Stalin “It is impossible to go through life without trust: that is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all: oneself.” Graham Greene “To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.” George Macdonald “Trust is like a mirror, you can fix it if it’s broke, but you can still see the crack in that motherfucker’s reflection.” Lady Gaga
7:25 a.m. - Trust in Absentia In my day job, I run the books page of a prominent news website. I left my team in charge of the page so I could spend 24 hours working on this magazine, trusting them to deal with anything that might come up. We have a running gag in our team. It’s not very funny to be honest, but it’s useful shorthand: what would happen if J.K. Rowling died? It’s about the biggest story we can think of, and we use it as a way of making sure we’re prepared for breaking news. None of us were connected for the past three hours? What if J.K. Rowling had died? We don’t know how this tool works? We should learn, for when J.K. Rowling dies. J.K. Rowling didn’t die yesterday, but she did announce her first-ever book for adults. It was a huge story, and my team had to cover it without me.
“Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work... Trust implies accountability, predictability, reliability.” Warren G. Bennis
At no point did I think it necessary to walk out of this magazine or to call up my day job. I kept an eye on my email and on the news—and they did an amazing job, as I knew they would. As I write this, the story they posted has 1,634 Facebook shares. Another story they put up yesterday currently has 1,266 comments.
“You must trust people or life becomes impossible.” Anton Chekhov
I’m sorry they had to deal with such a big story without me—but when I saw it break, I knew they’d be able to handle it without my interfering from a distance.
“Trust everybody, but cut the cards.” Finley Peter Dunne
So I doff my cap to Zoë Triska and Madeleine Crum. It’s a highly rewarding experience to work with people I can trust.
8:24 a.m. - Community Trust Nobody is sure who invented the festival, but its formula is not in dispute. A week before February 24th, in the eastern Austrian town of Glaube, residents post their grievances from the previous year on the church noticeboard. It is understood that nobody is to be blamed or shamed by the listing. The grievances are placed in alphabetical order, by surname of the person who first submitted each one. In the town’s church, on the nearest Sunday to the 24th, a silent vote is then held. Churchgoers close their eyes and raise their hands to vote for whichever of the grievances they feel most personally involved in. The priest then announces what he says is the vote winner—but in truth, he chooses that which has caused the largest break in trust among the community. Once chosen, the festival itself becomes a celebration of going back in time. Everyone looks in their calendars and tries to repeat exactly their behavior from the day of the dispute. The main parties play the same parts, wearing approximately the same clothing, adding whatever salient details they can to make proceedings more historically accurate. (When necessary, other residents take on the roles of people departed.) Except this time, they do it right. This time, the participants seek for ways to enhance the lives of their former antagonists, rather than entering into the dispute. They strive not only to restore trust between each other, but to enhance it. With everyone in the community cheering them on, they make things right. Following this, the celebrations and acclamations continue long into the night. The Trust Festival has been held for at least 25 years, and as far as we know, is unique to Glaube. Last summer, a major historical reenactment society from Vienna attempted to pass through the town and recreate a classic battle on the school playing field, with real-life cannons and horses. The show had been, they said, a smash hit all over the country. The mayor of Glaube turned them down with a smile. “Danke,” he said. “But we have our own reenactment society here in town, and we use it to rewrite history for the better.” 9:07 a.m. - When It Matters The end of a magazine is a tense situation. It’s always terrifyingly close to deadline. People have usually worked late nights, the printer’s representative might be on the phone, servers and laser printers and hard disks suddenly decide to stop working. Crises that would earlier have caused thought and discussion are dismissed with strident efficiency. It is a time when everyone talks quieter, file names are shouted across the office, final proofreading happens, and amazing solutions are pulled out of the bag at the last second. It is a time when you have to trust everyone around you to get it done. This is what is happening around me right now, in a small studio space in Brooklyn with 11 people who mostly met for the first time 23.75 hours ago. Nobody has slept. Empty containers that once held Mexican, Japanese, Thai, and diner food, as well as miracle berries and fruit, sit in plastic bags around an outnumbered, overflowing trash can. The coffee bags are half empty. So is the whisky. We have trusted each other throughout, and I now trust these people more that I would several members of my own family. We are so, so close to being done. We no longer have to trust that it’ll happen. It has nearly happened. So what happens next, among this newly formed group, one built on discussions and ideas of trust, and then proving the concept to each other again and again? Tomorrow, sleep. Beyond that...we haven’t discussed, but I’d be amazed if we didn’t try to do it once more, do it better. Make another magazine. How do I know that’s true? Trust me.
Contributors All interviews were conducted by Rose Ginsberg. For Rose’s interview, the part of Rose was played by Kevin. Each contributor provided a short bio via Twitter at roughly 3:07am. ROSE G: One of the most fun things about doing a series of interviews around a common theme is that patterns begin to emerge, more intricate than the theme itself, that weave through the interviews in unexpected ways. The diverse artists of twenty-four each bring a unique perspective to the simple question: how is trust important in the creative work that you do? CHRIS: I think it’s amazing, the trust that clients put into you. You’re in charge of the photos, and they don’t really know you. It can be kind of—I don’t want to say scary, but it’s a powerful feeling. It’s really motivating for me. It gets me up out of bed. And then you have to trust that people are going to publish your photos properly. You have to make sure that people don’t do something that makes you look bad, especially because you’re kind of in the public eye a little bit. So, that’s another trust thing. You have to trust in other people. Q: Does one inform the other? CHRIS: I don’t know. I see them as two separate things, even though they can be with the same person.
CHRIS: I like throwing myself into the deep—and seeing if I can make it out alive.
I’m a bit of a control freak. So, in a sense, I don’t really trust anybody. That’s why I like freelancing, because I get to say, “This is it.” I mean, yeah, you work to your client and everything like that, but you get a lot of control. I don’t really have to use experiences with other people to create that motivating feeling of wanting to live up to that trust.
ELISSA: Creating art by throwing thoughts and other people’s work up in the air and arranging the pieces as they land. ELISSA: The power of theater is being in the room with someone while they’re experiencing large emotions. So you have to create a space where actors can experience big emotions. They have to be willing to make mistakes and they have to trust their director to say, “What you’re doing is serving the text, the playwright, the audience.” Empowering people is important but it’s scary, because you have this beautiful vision, then you go into a room and you have to trust your collaborators. You open up your vision and you have be willing for it to change, trusting it to get better. That’s terrifying. Q: And then you leave the performance in their hands. ELISSA: My old boss used to say that “an audience gives the play back to you.” You read a play the first time and it’s this breakthrough, “Oh my God, this is amazing.” And then you focus so intensely on the pieces that you forget what the whole looks like again. You have to trust that these moments will add up to that big vision. Q: You have to trust your process. ELISSA: Yeah. At a certain point, you cling to your process. And I’ve learned that if I hear something and it’s not what I was expecting, I have to say, “Let me spend time with it and understand it.” And then it, in turn, informs the rest of the
speak about trust production in a very healthy way. Q: So, trusting in the work, trusting in the designer, trusting in your brain to catch up. ELISSA: Yeah. I don’t always understand why I’m making a specific decision. And I hate not having answers for people. But I make it clear going in that I’m going to ask you to try something, and I might tell you a choice is right, but I might not be able to tell you why. Working together to figure out why might just mean finishing rehearsal, going away, and then coming back and talking about it. But, after a couple days, I figure out why that choice made sense. So, I’ve learned to say, “this is what it needs to be, and I need you to trust me for now.” It’s a lot of hard work. But, oh my God, when you have amazing people in the room, nothing is better.
ELIZABETH has lost track of her professional identities, even though she’s spent most of the past 18 hours writing about them. ELIZABETH: One of the things that I do a lot is improvisational theater. Trust is huge for improvisation. And one reason is that you have to trust that your compatriots who you’re playing with are going to give you a safe space to fail, because, if you’re in an improv group and you’re doing stuff and you’re afraid to risk doing something stupid, then you’re never going to do anything funny. And you also have to trust that they’re going to listen to you and that they are actually going to follow the cardinal rule of improv, which is to say yes. And so they’ll listen to your story and they’ll continue building on your story. One thing that I’ve found to be true for improv performers in a way that isn’t true for necessarily all performers is that people who do a lot of improv are very generous with their laughter. You can trust them to be there as a supportive audience for you, whereas, in other circumstances, where it’s more about getting the laugh, people are a little bit more stingy. It becomes a competition, and you can’t trust them to be on your side. And you really need anyone you’re performing with in an improv situation to be on your side. Q: Yes. So being used to needing that trust means you also give it more freely. ELIZABETH: Exactly, you get used to needing it and you get used to giving it. And it is hard to restrain that generosity when it’s not expected. I mean, part of why you do it as an improv performer is because, by interacting and engaging with what’s going on onstage, no matter how strange it is, and enjoying it, you give the audience permission to find that safe. So, you trust the other performers and they start to trust in you. And they can take the lead on your reaction, even if they might otherwise shy away. They have to buy in with your buy-in. My feeling has been that, when you have an improv group where everyone is engaged and trusts each other, that the audience really starts to trust you too, and they say, “Look, these people are fun, and they care about each other, and we can care about them, because they’ve made it safe to do so. They’re not shying away from each other on the stage. We don’t have to worry about what they’re going to do. We can just enjoy it.”
ROSE G. thrives on collaboration with brilliant and generous people, whether in the rehearsal room, at a studio, or over coffee. ROSE G.: I think trust is most important in my favorite part of what I do, which is rehearse. I love being in the rehearsal room with actors. There is nowhere in the world that I would rather be. They have to trust each other, and they have to trust me, and I have to trust them, and it has to be this huge circle of everyone being comfortable and safe and trusting. And because I’m the director, I’m the one who’s responsible for creating that environment. I’m the one who sets the tone and makes sure that everyone trusts themselves and the process and me and each other. When we do that, that’s when we can do our best work. Q: How do you do it? ROSE: I try to make people feel like I have confidence in them, and that I have a direction in which I want all of us to move together. I try to give them confidence in the process so that they don’t feel like they’re doing things for no reason or that I’m wasting their time, and so they trust me to watch them and to listen to them and to give them feedback that will help them. Q: Have you ever lost that trusting environment? ROSE: I lost the trust of a playwright once, when I was an extremely green director. And, being a green director, I didn’t know how to deal with it. We were already in performance, so there wasn’t all that much to be done anyway, really. But the playwright stopped being a part of the team. And that was very difficult for me. It all boils down to—and this is huge—communication. What you do as a director is you communicate with everybody. You communicate with each designer in his or her own language, and you communicate with the actors in their language, and, more specifically, with each actor in the language that they need for their process or their emotional needs or whatever it is. You speak to them in their language and give them the feedback that they need to feel safe and trusted and comfortable and confident. As a director, the key thing for me is you cannot ever let that communication break down, between any members of your team. It’s so crucial not only to speak to everyone in their own language, but to speak to them all the time and make sure that they’re included, because you cannot have trust without talking to each other.
GARNET won’t admit how awesome he is, so Elizabeth wrote his bio for him.
GARNET: I would say trust comes into play in terms of taking photographs with anyone standing in front of a camera. You have to trust the person taking the picture. Most people don’t love color pictures of themselves. If you do take a photograph in black and white, most people tend to say, “I love this,” as opposed to taking a look at a picture shot in color. Most people look at it and tend to say, “I don’t like this about myself. I think I have a pimple right here.” And so, what I’ve learned is people are actually trusting you to make them look good. So, they have to trust you. And there’s a sense of you have to build trust before that person actually gets in front of the camera, or even allows you to actually point a camera at them. Q: So, you have to build the trust before you can even do the work with them. GARNET: Way before, yes. And this goes with just friends. Most of my friends, family, people I’ve known for a very long time, refuse to get in front of the camera. And I think it’s more towards the size of the camera. They’re intimidated. Most people who are not familiar with buying cameras, semi-pro cameras, will look at any camera in a DSLR size and think that it’s a high-tech, professional camera. So, once you point it at them, like, “Oh, no, no, no!” You know? So, just coming around
that camera, sometimes, you tend to have to hide it, and they’ll trust first, you know? Q: So it’s like they don’t trust the piece of equipment, even more than trusting you. And so you have to get them to trust you extra, to make up for the fact that they don’t trust your camera. And, once people start letting you, does the trust increase as you photograph them? GARNET: I would say the best thing that I’ve noticed is that you tend to take at least close to 20 pictures, if someone allows you for the first time to photograph them, before they start being comfortable being in front of the camera. And then, seeing something out of the 20 pictures, they say, “Ah, I like that.” And we can continue. And it’s especially very easy with the digital cameras, as opposed to the film cameras before, where you can’t waste film. You just click, go. If you have a memory card, you can erase. But people are much more comfortable, and I think technology helps that a lot.
ANDREW now writes words every time a buzzer goes off. ANDREW: The work I do relies on people who I work with that I have to trust to be able to do things. When I give them a task, I can’t need to oversee and keep an eye on them all the time, because that would just be a waste of everyone’s time. So, I trust the people that I work with. I trust the people above me, that they are going to take into account the work that I am doing, I feel I’m doing the right things in consultation with them, and that they will approve and agree and want to help me do the best job I can. Also, I work as a journalist, more or less, and a lot of that is about readers trusting my word, and me trusting people to tell me what they believe is true, but then having to doublecheck information, because people can’t be trusted to tell the truth, either deliberately or not. I don’t think most people lie deliberately, but I think most people aren’t as clear on facts as they think they are. Q: So the levels of trust go all the way through, from the creation of the thing to the people who then receive the thing and spread the word about the thing. It extends across. ANDREW: Absolutely. And I think that’s fundamental in almost anything. And I think that that’s how everything works. When you’re buying food, you’re trusting it; if you’re buying a wrench, you trust that. Any action that you make involves a level of trust in someone or an entity. Anything you buy is because you haven’t made it or created it. And therefore, you are trusting everybody else in that to give you what it is that you want from it. Q: So society is just an elaborate trust network. ANDREW: Society exists because of trust. If we didn’t have trust, we couldn’t have society, because it requires trust at all levels, because trust is the closest thing we have to certainty. And society is about people, and people doing things as groups. And you can’t do anything as a group if you’re always wondering if the person’s going to stab you in the back or steal your stuff or ignore traffic lights. Society is based on rules, and those rules are based on trust that people will keep to them.
KEVIN writes music, often funny, with lots of words. He also makes wonderful things happen for talented people instead of sleeping. KEVIN: It’s not something that I think about that much, partly because it’s so central to what I do. For a composer, I work very closely with other people. I tend to put things together with people. I tend to ask for their input. I tend to see if it actually moves them in some way. And, beyond the actual composing I do, I do a lot of producing stuff. I do a lot of making other things happen, including this magazine. And that work is absolutely about having a trusting relationship with people and having people believe that I have something to bring to the table. Q: So it’s about getting people to trust you, not just you trusting other people. KEVIN: Yes, that’s important; it’s not what I think about all the time. What I think about is keeping people happy and keeping people productive. We all came together for the goal. We’re here to work. And we all can trust that everyone else is doing what they’re supposed to be doing and cares about what they’re doing. But honestly, I’m usually moving too fast to think about trust itself. Q: Because it’s just a baseline. KEVIN: Yeah. If we don’t have that, I won’t work with you. I mean, I have this rule—I blogged about it—about “Always Carry Drums,” because, if you’re working on a concert, at some point, the percussionist will have more to do; they’ll be still loading stuff in from their car, and you’ll be done. And you have to help. If you don’t, I’m not going to yell at you, but I will never, ever work with you again. And that is partly about trust; it’s also about, well, I know you’re not the sort of person who does whatever it takes to put the ball in the hole. Q: So it’s trusting in people to come to the table with effort and enthusiasm and doing whatever needs to be done. KEVIN: It’s also about making a space so that, when I put together a team to do some crazy-ass thing, that people know that whoever else is on the team is committed, and that it’s going to be a good experience. And it ends up being about trust, but that’s not the way I think about it. I think about it in terms of reliably doing good work; I think about it in terms of mutual respect, about valuing each other’s ideas.
RICH: I work exclusively with people smarter and more talented than I. I live to work on projects I love. I get off on making things well. RICH: Trust changes when you’re dealing with barter, which is a huge part of what I do professionally. Our Goods and Trade School are two projects that I helped start, two very small teams. And a lot of work goes into thinking about trust.
Trade School is a place where people can come to learn in exchange for meeting one of the teachers’ barter needs. So, teachers sign up to teach a class; they say, “I need apples and cheese and running shoes and someone to help me set up my Twitter account.” Students can take a look at the list, decide, “Oh, I can bring one of those things. Cool.” So, they’ll come to the class. Trust is really important in barter, but, in a learning environment where you have one person bartering with many, it’s a lot easier to avoid bad transactions or bad experiences, because you’re going to teach the class whether there are five people or 25 people coming, and so there’s a lot less disappointment, because most people bring things. And the teacher has a lot of people bartering with them, and everyone there, they’re getting knowledge. Our Goods is an online bartering network for artists, people involved in creative pursuits. But, because this is just straight barter, it’s one-to-one, a lot more work has to go into developing a space where people understand what barter means and what they need to do to have a successful barter. And so, a lot of the tools that we’ve put on the site are ways to let people know that trust is important in this space. It’s not as simple as exchanging currency. And that’s where most of my thought goes when I’m thinking about trust, because most people who come to the site have never bartered before. It’s like a foreign concept to them; it’s like an eBay, but like a Craigslist, but like an OKCupid. In the last year or so, we’ve started moving the site towards the interpersonal relationships. You’re not really there to find things; you’re there to find people who you work well with. And so, a lot of our new design decisions are informed by dating sites, because the whole point of them is to match people who are compatible. But, in our case, we’re trying to give people enough information to make an informed decision about who they can trust, and, beyond that, whose working style they would jive with.
SARA EILEEN is an organizer of people and things, and apparently a creator of magazines. Almost. It’s only 3:30am. Q: Why did you decide to make trust the theme of the first issue? SARA: I was thinking a lot about startups, and the necessary ingredients to be willing to uproot one’s life to do something incredible, like start a company. And so much of that kind of culture is about trust. I realized that none of you knew one another, and I was asking an enormous amount from you all in order to make this happen. You all had to trust not only me, not only my idea, but my judgment of everyone else. I wanted to honor that leap of trust that you had all made. And I needed to trust you that this was going to get done. Q: How is trust an important part of your creative work? SARA: I think one of the major breakthroughs in trusting myself as a creative person was the first time that I got a really terrible critique of a piece and knew that the person giving me the critique were wrong. Which is stubborn of me, granted, and I try not to be incredibly stubborn in critique, but this was a unique experience. It was wonderful to be able to say, “No, you know what? I trust my creative judgment enough to know that this is already right, and is doing exactly the things that I want it to do.”
SARA: That was a big thing for me, learning to trust myself and gaining the knowledge that I could stick by my own decisions when questioned about creative work, which is hard to do, because supposedly there are no right answers. And it’s hard as a creator, if someone comes to you and says, “I don’t like this decision you made,” to be able to come back to them and say, “But I still made it. And it was mine. And that’s the way it is.” I learned to trust in myself as an artist, trust in my ability to make choices consciously, and trust in other people to give critique for good reasons, and to not dismiss them as idle, even if they are promoting choices that I did not make. ROSE F.: The creative work that I do is editorial primarily, so, first of all, other people are trusting me to handle their creative work, which is huge. It’s like somebody handing you their baby, only you’re about to take their baby apart and put it back in another way. And so, when I pause to think about the things that I do to people’s work, even just giving somebody a sample edit before they decide whether to trust me with their whole work, is a big deal. I’ve had potential clients say, “I’m only going to send you the first three chapters of my manuscript, because I don’t trust people not to pirate it and put their names on it and put it up as their own work.” And I just have to respect that. I mean, I send them assurances, but my professional website basically exists as a way to tell my clients that they can trust me. So, I have this huge page that’s nothing but testimonials from published authors, unpublished authors, people I’ve worked with, the bigger-name company the better. I have that there to say, “I am not someone who’s going to take your work.” I actually emphasize that I’m not a writer, that I don’t have anything invested in being a writer, to say, “I’m not going to take your novel and put my name on it as my novel, and I’m not interested in being a novelist on my own merit, so I’m not interested in being a novelist stealing from anybody else.”
ROSE F.: I make good writing better.
And when you send work off to be edited, it’s a big ego hit, basically. Admitting that you need editing at all is saying, “You are not perfect. Your work is not perfect.” That’s hard. So, people are trusting me to be gentle with them when they’re in a very vulnerable place. And, at the same time, they’re trusting me to be honest with them, because the honest edit is the one that will make their work better. So, I have all sorts of testimonials up on that page that say things like, you know, “Nobody’s ever torn my work apart and put it back together the way that you did. But I really needed that; the work really needed that.”
JACK: I think trust has been a very strange and interesting journey, in that I write erotica, and often I write pretty risqué things. For many years I didn’t show it to anyone. I was very scared to. Then when I did, I wrote very mainstream things, and it was boring. And when I randomly put out one thing that I was really worried that everyone would think I’m a horrible person, people wrote me emails saying, “Oh, this is great. Why didn’t you write this before?” I think that was 10 years ago. Every year since then, I’ve had some little barrier. It could be just an emotional thing I didn’t want to write about, or something else that I wasn’t trusting my readers to get. Almost every time I posted it, everyone was like, “Oh, yeah, that’s fine, I write about that. I love that.” It’s been very surprising every time. I’m still waiting for the time when somebody will be like, “All right, you went too far.” Q: Interesting. So, it’s trusting the audience to accept and welcome just what you have to say. JACK: Right, and it’s also a point of trusting that things I write about are not as strange as I imagine them to be, and there’s lots of stuff out there that people think about and want to read about. I’ve hardly ever gotten negative feedback. I’m talking thematically, not grammatically. That’s been good. And that’s really helped me trust the world at large, in coming out as kinky to people and so on, because writing has been a gateway into understanding that things aren’t as weird as I make them out to be.
JACK: Making a magazine. Go away.
Q: Almost like trusting that there’s a place for what you do and you.
JACK: Yeah, and also trusting that I’m not alone in thinking things, whereas, when you’re a teenager and you read things, in your little corner of the internet, you’re pretty sure that this is something that no one would ever do or talk about in public. And then you find out, oh, yeah, there’s a club where people do only that. Q: Okay, so trusting that you’re not as different as you think you are, almost, that the world won’t think so. JACK: Right. Q: And the art as first step in that. JACK: Absolutely.
When I was little, my Pop-pop seemed like a giant, with his broad shoulders and huge laugh. It’s difficult to conceive, as I write this, that he won’t be with us for much longer. But I know he’s been in pain, and I know it’s what he wants, and, although I will miss him, I am relieved and even happy for him that he can finally let go. All my love, Pop-pop.
Australian transplant and Red-Sox fan, lover of Guinness, pie, and children, stubborn to a fault. She passed away last Sunday. My mother called to tell me, an hour before my friends arrived to celebrate my birthday. I welcomed them and drank with them, and late in the night I hid in my bedroom and cried. My partner came to find me. We sat together on the floor, in the dark, and I told a halfâ€“fairy tale about how this first Eileen sold buttons in Melbourne, met my grandfather, left Australia a bride. In grief, stories.
Louise is my last living grandmother, one of three women who I barely had time to know as an adult. Losing my other grandmothers makes the urgency of seeing her, and knowing her stories, sharper.
I hold on to jewelry as a reminder but she left much more behind. Her eyes in the faces of family members. Her feet at the ends of my legs. Sensitive skin covering my palms. And a rosy hue before my eyes.Â
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