Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

The night I saw Mike Daisey on stage in ’21 Dog Years’

Ticket for Mike Daisey show from 2002

The ticket stub from the night my brother and I went to see Mike Daisey perform "21 Dog Years: Doing Time at Amazon.com."

When I first heard of the Mike Daisey controversy, I had no idea that I had seen one of his one-man shows.

I had visited New York City in April 2002 and saw a show that my brother Robert had wanted to see, about Amazon.com.

I remember that the protagonist was a heavy-set man who described some of the absurdities of answering the phone for Amazon.com.

New York City was still in shock from the 9/11 attacks, and I saw lower Manhattan from the plane and saw the scar in the earth where the Twin Towers and other buildings had been. On the ground, I had gotten as close as you could get to the site and shot pictures.

So a night at the theater, even off-Broadway, was a treat and an escape. I think Robert suggested it and I was agreeable, so he bought tickets and we went.

Flash forward nearly 10 years, and a monologist named Mike Daisey is talking about Apple and how its products are made in China. A story he does for “This American Life” turns out to be fabricated in part, though he insists that the essential truth is there. I comment on it, and the effect on journalism.

Then my brother Robert comments on my blog post that we saw Mike Daisey in 2002 when I visited New York. As a memento of my visit, I have my ticket stub from that show, “21 Dog Years: Doing Time at Amazon.com,” in a bag I take with me to all my jobs. The bag is from the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, after the organization generously gave a number of laid-off journalists some good training and hope for the future. The bag has served me very well, and the large front zippered compartment has some mementos I like to take with me everywhere.

One is that ticket stub, shown above, photographed today (March 20, 2012), cropped and uploaded.

So the question I now have is this: How much of “21 Dog Years” is true, and how much was made up? Or, again, is there an “essential truth” about his three years at Amazon.com that was fictionalized for effect?

I am willing to bet that people are going to start raising questions about “21 Dog Years,” as well as his other work.

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March 20, 2012 - Posted by | Living in the modern age, The news business | , , , , ,

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