Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.


Mike Daisey Plays The Trump Card


Donald J. Trump – This is your life!  – as told by monologist Mike Daisey. While the nearly two-hour solo performance produces many laugh-out-loud moments, Daisey ends on a sobering note: Trump may not be elected president, but what he has accomplished has set the stage for future candidates who will follow his playlist.

Daisy attempts to soften the blows by, at times, not only empathizing with Trump, but also comparing himself to the real estate mogul turned political candidate. Donald’s father, Fred, was an “alleged” racist (“alleged” emphasized by Daisey), as was Daisey’s grandfather, described as a crusty character from Maine. Daisey’s mother and father served as buffers, both parents condemning the older man’s attitude, while Trump was not sheltered from his father, instead inheriting his business and, we are led to believe, his prejudices.

Daisey’s father frequently cruised yard sales and mailed his children packages wrapped in brown paper and secured with lots of tape. While Daisey says he often burned the packages before opening them, on one occasion his father’s note proves intriguing. Inside, Daisey finds a Trump version of the popular board game, Monopoly. Daisy decides to throw a theme party, inviting friends over to play the vintage game. He serves Trump steaks (actually regular steaks that he slaps a Trump label on). Rather than Monopoly’s two die, the Trump game has one dice, a capital “T” substituting for the numeral six. Throw that letter, and the player gets to essentially rob the game’s bank.

daisey_portrait_1While most Americans now know a great deal about Trump, Daisey puts his own spin on The Donald’s history. Trump was only 27 when he took over the family business, shifting the company’s focus from Queens to Manhattan, but continuing his father’s business practices which, Daisey says, meant holding out payments to contractors and then paying less than was owed. Those who objected were threatened with being blackballed by the construction industry, he says.

Besides his father, Trump’s greatest influence, according to Daisey, was the lawyer, Roy Cohn. (On the night I attended, a young member of the audience leaned over to her mother, whispering, “Who’s Roy Cohn?” Anticipating that millennials might not recognize the name, Daisey is prepared.) Cohn was chief counsel to Joseph McCarthy’s communist witch hunt. A closeted homosexual who died of complications of AIDS, Cohn, Daisey reminds us, has been portrayed in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America and on The Simpsons as the blue-haired lawyer representing Mr. Burns, the evil owner of the Springfield Nuclear Plant. After resigning from McCarthy’s committee, Cohn went into private practice and for 13 years one of his clients was Donald Trump. He represented Trump against charges brought by the Justice Department for violations of the Fair Housing Act. Daisy notes that Trump settled and there was never any indication that he was found guilty.

daisey_trump_portrait_3This is a low tech production – just Daisey sitting at a table with a glass of water and a small towel that he uses to blot sweat from his face. (While the photos included here show shots of Trump, none were used during the press performance.) He has notes in front of him, but often improvises. With Trump producing new headlines each day, Daisey has plenty of opportunity to update his script. The fact that the Republican presidential nominee ejected a crying baby from a rally made it into the performance I attended.

While Daisey stressed that he does the necessary research for his monologues, he ran into trouble with his The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs after a portion was broadcast on “This American Life,” a public radio show. “I have difficult news,” Ira Glass, the host and executive producer stated on the radio show’s blog. “We’ve learned that Mike Daisey’s story about Apple in China – which we broadcast in January – contained significant fabrications. We’re retracting the story because we can’t vouch for its truth.”

The incident raises an interesting question: are Daisey’s monologues journalism or entertainment? The Trump Card was certainly entertaining. And, in what is turning out to be a wacky presidential campaign, much needed relief.

The Trump Card
Written and performed by Mike Daisey
Directed by Isaac Butler
Woolly Mammoth Theatre
641 D Street NW
Through August 7, 2016

Manus x Machina: Fashion In the Age of Technology at The Met’s Costume Institute


For the past several years I’ve been enthralled by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute annual exhibition organized under the aegis of the incomparable Anna Wintour who we all know as the editor of Vogue and who is a trustee of the Met lending her vision extensive connections to turn these exhibitions into blockbuster events. And, each year, I leave breathless thinking they will never be able to top this.

06.Ensemble,IrisVanHerpen,Spring2010This year’s event, Manus x Machina (Hand x Machine): Fashion in an Age of Technology, is no less spectacular taking us steps closer to the future of fashion. Presented in the Museum’s Robert Lehman Wing the show explores how designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear.

Featuring more then 170 examples dating from the early 1900 when the sewing machine was invented and the founding of the haute couture through the onset of industrialization and mass production to the present day when technological advancements, such as 3-D printing, laser cutting, and computer-generated weaving and patterns are commonly used in creating high fashion. Highlights are numerous, but special mention goes to the handcrafted haute couture of Chanel and Dior and to the spectacular printed creations of Alexander McQueen and Iris van Harpen.

11.KaikokuFloatingDress,HusseinChalayan,Autumn2011Sponsored by Apple, Jonathan Ive, a co-Chair of the Gala and the firm’s Chief Designer who masterminds those glorious product designs, understands the fine line between technology and craftsman. “Both the automated and handcrafted process requires similar amounts of thoughtfulness and expertise,” he said. “There are instances where technology is optimized, but ultimately it’s the amount of care put into the craftsmanship, whether it’s machine-made or handmade, that transforms ordinary materials into something extraordinary.”

Or, simply put, technology reinvents material to form different shapes allowing us to push boundaries whereby hand crafted empathizes the refined intricacies of design creating another kind of aesthetic. In either case, as borne out by the fashion on display, machine vs. handmade practices borrow from one another thereby blurring the line between the two.

14.MxM,CaseStudy,ChanelWeddingEnsembleA word about staging a stunning complement to the minimalism of the fashion displayed. In the Robert Lehman Wing galleries on the museum’s ground and first floors, the exhibition has been installed within a dramatic cathedral-like structure by Shohei Shigematsu from OMA New York (the head office is in the Netherlands led by star architect Rem Koolhaus). White translucent scrims were constructed and stretched over an intentionally visible framework creating a building-within-a-building feel that unfolds as a series of alcoves. Each of these different ports: lacework, leatherwork, embroidery, pleating, tailors and dressmakers, and so on, showcases the garments along with projections of their details that work to amplify the craftsmanship in the pieces.

Manus x Machina (Hand x Machine): Fashion in an Age of Technology
Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
On view from May 5 – August 14


18. Upper Level Gallery View: Embroidery
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art

6. Ensemble, Iris van Herpen (Dutch, born 1984),
spring/summer 2010 haute couture; The Metropolitan Museum
of Art, Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2015
(2016.16a, b)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope

11. “Kaikoku” Floating Dress, Hussein Chalayan (British, born
Cyprus, 1970), autumn/winter 2011–12 prêt-à-porter; Courtesy
of Swarovski
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope

14. Upper Level Gallery View: Case Study
Wedding ensemble, Karl Lagerfeld ,
autumn/winter 2014–15 haute couture, back view; Courtesy of
CHANEL Patrimoine Collection
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art