Casey James

The Washington Times Daily - - Life -

Casey James

In case you for­got, Casey James was the third-place fi­nal­ist on “Amer­i­can Idol” back in 2010. That was a life­time ago in the fast-mov­ing world of pop mu­sic and an epoch in the world of “Amer­i­can Idol,” where new win­ners are crowned ev­ery year and largely for­got­ten by the time the next sea­son rolls around.

The guy is worth re­mem­ber­ing, though. He’s the best gui­tarist the show has ever seen, with a bluesy tone rem­i­nis­cent of Ste­vie Ray Vaughan and a solid voice to match. Maybe he didn’t de­serve to win the whole sea­son — that honor should have gone to hip­pie folk­ster Crys­tal Bow­er­sox — but he cer­tainly should’ve crushed Lee Dewyze, who took first place and wound up de­liv­er­ing the low­est-sell­ing al­bum of any “Idol” cham­pion.

Mr. James gets the last word with this self-ti­tled de­but. Un­for­tu­nately, “Casey James” falls prey to some of the same pit­falls that plague most de­buts from “Idol” alumni. It’s too pol­ished for blues mu­sic and too poppy for rock ’n’

and 77 were in­jured.

But some of Mr. Daisey’s older mono­logues might get a sec­ond look.

“If he had only cho­sen to ac­tu­ally uti­lize what the­ater al­lows you to do — which is to trans­form fact into some­thing that re­tains an emo­tional truth,” said Howard Sher­man, a for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Amer­i­can Theatre Wing and an arts ad­min­is­tra­tor and pro­ducer. He didn’t see Mr. Daisey’s show but said he thought it might “call into ques­tion peo­ple who do this in the fu­ture.”

Mr. Daisey is just the lat­est artist to ap­par­ently get tripped up by the truth — join­ing a list that in­cludes James Frey, who ad­mit­ted that he lied in his mem­oir “A Mil­lion Lit­tle Pieces,” and Greg Morten­son, who is ac­cused of fab­ri­cat­ing key parts of his best-sell­ing book “Three Cups of Tea.”

The con­tro­versy raised once again the ques­tion of the artist’s role in so­ci­ety and what his or her re­spon­si­bil­ity is to the truth. And has Mr. Daisey ul­ti­mately harmed the very peo­ple he was try­ing to help?

Terry Tea­chout, chief the­ater critic for the Wall Street Jour­nal, called Mr. Daisy a tal­ented artist but said the episode was “un­for­giv­able,” and Peter Marks, the critic for The Washington Post, tweeted that Mr. Daisey’s “zeal seems to have got­ten the bet­ter of his judg­ment.” Chris Jones at the Chicago Tri­bune sus­pected Mr. Daisey “was se­duced by the glare of at­ten­tion.”

The con­tro­versy put the Public The­ater in a dif­fi­cult spot, pro­tec­tive of artists, but also sen­si­tive to au­di­ence con­cerns.

“We do not and can­not fact-check our artists; we’re a the­ater, not a news or­ga­ni­za­tion. The vast ma­jor­ity of what oc­curs on our stages is fic­tion. If we didn’t be­lieve fic­tion could re­veal truth, we would have to give up our pro­fes­sion. With that said, it ob­vi­ously mat­ters a great deal to me that our au­di­ence un­der­stands what they are see­ing,” Mr. Eustis said.

Mr. Daisey, who per­forms his mono­logues seated at a desk and us­ing notes, has pre­vi­ously tack­led ev­ery­thing from dys­func­tional dot-coms to the in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial cri­sis. A movie has been made of his mono­logue “If You See Some­thing Say Some­thing,” and in a weird twist, he did a 2006 show called “Truth” about how art and fact mix. In it, Mr. Daisey ad­mit­ted he once fab­ri­cated a story be­cause it “con­nected” with the au­di­ence.

Mr. Daisey told Mr. Glass he felt con­flicted about pre­sent­ing things he knew weren’t true. But he said he felt “trapped” and was afraid peo­ple would no longer care about the abuses at the fac­to­ries if he didn’t present things in a dra­matic way.

In an in­ter­view with the AP last year when his show was first in New York, Mr. Daisey’s pas­sion for hu­mane treat­ment of Chi­nese work­ers was ev­i­dent.

“Artists are peo­ple who are called to ac­tion,” he said. “If they’re not ac­tive then they’re prob­a­bly asleep.”

An Ap­ple spokes­woman de­clined again to com­ment on the rev­e­la­tions about the mono­logue. The com­pany has been re­but­ting Mr. Daisey’s al­le­ga­tions for months, to lit­tle ef­fect.

Be­fore he scrubbed the mono­logue, he de­scribed trav­el­ing to the Chi­nese in­dus­trial zone of Shen­zhen and in­ter­view­ing hun­dreds of work­ers from Fox­conn Tech­nol­ogy Group, the world’s largest elec­tron­ics con­tract man­u­fac­turer. Mr. Daisey said he stood out­side the gate with a trans­la­tor and met work­ers as young as 12 and some whose joints were dam­aged be­cause they per­formed the same ac­tion thou­sands of times a shift.

“I talk to peo­ple whose joints in their hands have dis­in­te­grated from work­ing on the line, do­ing the same mo­tion hun­dreds and hun­dreds of thou­sands of times. It’s like carpal tun­nel on a scale we can scarcely imag­ine,” he said, ac­cord­ing to a tran­script of the show. Later in the mono­logue, he said he met work­ers poi­soned by the chem­i­cal hex­ane, used to clear iphone screens.

But “This Amer­i­can Life” re­ported Mr. Daisey’s Chi­nese in­ter­preter dis­puted many of the artist’s claims when con­tacted by Rob Sch­mitz, a China cor­re­spon­dent for the public ra­dio show “Mar­ket­place.” Among them, the trans­la­tor said guards out­side the fac­tory weren’t armed, Mr. Daisey never met work­ers from a se­cret union and he never vis­ited fac­tory dorm rooms.

Mr. Daisey told Mr. Glass he didn’t meet any poi­soned work­ers and guessed at the ages of some he met. He also said some de­tails he used were things he read about hap­pen­ing else­where.

“I’m not go­ing to say that I didn’t take a few short­cuts in my pas­sion to be heard,” he told Mr. Glass. “But I stand be­hind the work. My mis­take, the mis­take that I truly re­gret is that I had it on your show as jour­nal­ism, and it’s not jour­nal­ism. It’s the­ater.”

In the edited mono­logue, Mr. Eustis said Mr. Daisey ac­knowl­edges “that his trans­la­tor, Cathy, does not re­mem­ber things which he does re­mem­ber.”

Ap­ple’s pop­u­lar­ity among con­sumers and in­vestors alike has only grown while Mr. Daisey has been rail­ing against the com­pany. Since his one-man show hit the stage in the sum­mer of 2010, Ap­ple has sold more than 74 mil­lion iphones, more than 35 mil­lion ipads and more than 29 mil­lion ipods.

Mr. Daisey’s em­bel­lish­ments threaten to set back the ef­forts to im­prove the work­ing con­di­tions in China and other coun­tries where many trendy gad­gets are made, said veteran tech­nol­ogy an­a­lyst Rob En­derle.

He said he fears Mr. Daisey’s tainted cred­i­bil­ity will em­bolden more U.S. com­pa­nies to turn a blind eye to how the assem­bly-line work­ers are be­ing treated in the over­seas fac­to­ries run by their con­trac­tors.

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