By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
"So I can't sleep, I'm trying to sleep, I'm wide-awake, and I start freaking out -- more and more panicky -- going, 'Oh my god I can't go to sleep, what am I gonna do? I'm not gonna be able to do the thing tomorrow because I haven't sweated enough and it's my first day and I took the niacin and I'm going to be punished and pushed back, and oh my god I don't know what to do.' So I'm trying to get myself tired out and I'm starting to act like a complete psycho, which I know is hard to imagine [audience laughs]. And I'm in my room and I start doing push-ups [sound of her imitating herself frantically doing push-ups] and I'm going insane, I'm crying, so I just start thinking, 'I can't even do anything. I should just kill myself. I should just commit suicide.' Um, sometimes I have those thoughts."
The Uncabaret audience got quiet when she said that. Probably some people were silent out of embarrassment for her, that she made herself so vulnerable in front of them, but I bet at least as many were quiet because they identified with her. When she did standup, the highs and lows -- mostly the lows -- of life in show business were laid bare, because she laid herself bare.
"She was completely open and best friends with the audience at all times," said Cynthia Greenburg, who co-wrote Me and My Needs with Toll. "It was like being on a phone call with her."
But even though Toll made herself so vulnerable in her comedy, she wasn't a pushover. For instance, she decided to get her money back from the Church of Something-ology, and did. She was tenacious, especially about work.
"She was willing to go all out at all times, and hang on to what she thought was great," Greenburg said. "She knew what she liked and she knew what was good. She had amazing taste."
At the screening of Me and My Needs, a lot of people in the audience didn't know that Judy was dead. When Greenburg introduced the pilot, she didn't mention it.
"If you want to know the truth -- and somebody might think this is horrible, but I think Judy would agree -- it was nice that they didn't know," Greenburg said. "They could just watch the show and see how great it was."
It's sad when anyone dies, and it seems particularly sad that Toll died when she did. She'd finally made it, after years of struggle. She'd gotten married only 10 months before. Obviously, the biggest tragedy is her death, period, but at the screening it was hard not to also feel the loss of what could have been a great sitcom. There simply aren't enough of those around for us to go losing one.
Letter from Burning Man: Dust Up
IT TOOK ME 30 HOURS TO GET OUT OF Black Rock this year.
Two shredded truck tires, full ignition-system meltdown, minor air-cleaner fire, and several hacks to my brake and taillight wiring seemed about what I deserved for attempting to drive, once again and against its will, my 1969 junkyard crane truck home after attending the Burning Man festival, two hours north of Reno, Nevada. But, as is often the case, the event was not quite done with me: When I got home and opened my e-mail, I found this -- already on its 1,000th or so bounce around the Burning Man e-mail ecosystem:
Wednesday, Sept 4th
Starting Tuesday at noon and going until 7 in the evening, the playa had the worst whiteout conditions seen in the history of the event in Black Rock. Whatever was not packed up by noon is now under one inch to 18 inches of dust. They are having another whiteout today, including gusts of up to 100 MPH.
These are very serious conditions. We all have friends still on playa, who are having to deal with this. The lucky few of us who got out in time are home, rested and clean. If we can find it in our bodies, souls and pocketbooks to go BACK to the playa now, the project and our loved ones need us.
How better to participate than to go rescue our friends, the DPW (Department of Public Works), and the project in general? Hands are needed to clean up MOOP (Matter Out of Place), help pack up camps still left on playa, and guard piles of stuff against the scavengers, which are everywhere, sadly.
By the time I read this dispatch, it was too late to return. I had already lived through the cataclysm; I was one of those who didn't get out in time. I sat through the dust on Tuesday and Wednesday, watching firsthand from the cab of the crane truck. I watched as everything got buried and generally destroyed. Waves of blinding white alkali scratched over the cab as my truck reeled with each blinding gust. Loading anything ä was out of the question. Trying to sleep in any vehicle was like trying to nap in a Shop Vac -- running. No one could leave. You couldn't see for more than a couple of feet. It was like being incarcerated, against your will and better judgment, in one of the largest expanses of open horizon in North America.