Tim "Speed" Levitch (the nickname given for his fast speaking and fast literary style) is a thirty four year old that might be one of the first great philosophical
minds of the early 21st century
. A native New Yorker
, Levitch has appeared in multiple films
, has had his poetic and philosophical works published in books and periodicals and is what you might call an urban vagabond
Tim Levitch was born in 1970 in New York City. He mostly grew up in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx, yet spent his summers in Kansas City. When he was twelve, his parents got a house in Westchester County and he was briefly a suburbanite. He longed to return to New York and eventually he did. Escaping from the suburban lifestyle he despised.
"It's a place of spacious living rooms where people are fluffing up pillows to make their fears comfortable.
Levitch first started performing professionally as a New York City tour guide in 1992. While he had gained quite a reputation in the city as a poet and philosopher of the tour guide scene, his first taste of actual underground stardom came in 1998 when Bennett Miller made a documentary on Levitch titled The Cruise. "The Cruise" showed Levitch as a man who lived out of a suitcase, working 20 hours a week on a NYC double-decker tour bus and making $200 a week, going from friends house to friends house. They show him frequently getting arrested for breaking into New York City skyscrapers around town to try to get a different perspective of his city. In one scene, he stands between the two towers of the World Trade Center, spins in circles really fast and then looks up to get a cool natural effect of the towers spinning. The film won various awards, including top prize at the Newport International Film Festival and winning two Berlin International Film Festival awards. It was released internationally by Artisan.
Levitch eventually didn't have to work as a tour guide anymore, and branched out into more interesting projects. In 1999 he formed the Shakespeare Delivery Troupe. The purpose of the group was that people in the city would call and request a certain scene from any William Shakespeare play. Levitch himself and his group of thespians would arrive at your home and do the performance of that one scene in your living room, on your stoop, anyplace.
"People get pizza, they get Chinese food, they get marijuana-why not a dispatch from the master? A fresh Shakespearean moment from the oven of the master-Fresh! There's going to be a night when a guy on the upper west side in despair because of unrequited love and we're going to send in Puck because Puck is going to find the love potion underneath that guy's couch. And he's gonna know that the love potion was sitting in his room all the time. There's going to be a gal on the lower east side one night who is going to be having trouble with her boss and we're going to help her kill Duncan, you know, MacBeth is gonna go in there and show her how to kill the king and take it for himself. We're going to deliver personal theatrical catharsis. We're going to have menus and slip them under doors just like the Chinese restaurants do and we're going to be in the Yellow Pages and we will be a valid delivery service that will simply fit into the ventilation of the city until it is an every day event and people will have Shakespeare delivered just like they would a pizza. I've already seen this. I don't know when. I don't know how. ... I just need fuel, that is, money. And artists that really want to live together and join a community a la The Ghostbusters."
The Shakespeare Delivery Troupe has had mixed success, yet to this day, still remains a work in process.
In 2001, Levitch had a featured role in Waking Life, the animated film from Richard Linklater, the director of Slacker and Dazed & Confused. He is credited as himself, and provides viewers with some of his signature quips ("On really romantic nights of self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion.").
That same year, the highly literary Levitch appeared in Scotland, PA, filmmaker Billy Morrissette's modern telling of MacBeth in at a fast food store. Levitch appeared as Hector, one of the "three Hippies" (as in Macbeth's three witches) alongside bigger names like Amy Smart and fellow nasal speaker Andy Dick. The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. Levitch and The Shakespeare Delivery Troupe performed at screenings of the film at McBeths, a resturant at 25 East 17th Street in New York City.
On September 11th, 2001, Levitch was over 3,000 miles away in San Francsico from his native New York City when tragedy struck. Months later, everyone seemed to have great opinions on what to do with the space vacated by the loss of the World Trade Center. In the summer of 2002, Levitch voiced his opinion in a Heeb Magazine article titled "Bulls, Bears, and Speed: The Inimitable Speed Levitch Cruises Ground Zero." The article suggested the idea of having a wide open grass field as a grazing ground for American Bison in the spot where the towering Twin Towers once stood.
"The idea is that the central monument should not be an inanimate piece of stone but it should be something that's alive, that has a heartbeat and that propagates.".
His idea was obviously met with much criticism, yet Richard Linklater liked Levitch's idea. He liked it so much, they made a twenty minute short film documentary together titled Live From Shiva's Dance Floor that was screened in January 2003 at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. Levitch shopped around the film, but at the same time, Levitch knew that his idea didn't have a snowball's chance in hell in becoming a reality. At various screenings of the film, Levitch critized all the actual ideas to built over ground zero.
In the middle of the entire "Buffalo Idea" period, Levitch published a book titled Speedology: Speed on New York on Speed through Context Books. The book hit shelves on September 1st, 2002 and was met with critical success. The book is written in an array of fonts and font sizes and has a chapter for every major New York City neighborhood.
In 2003, Levitch was featured as himself in "The Making of 'Invasion of the Freedom Snatchers'." The film was a documentary on two brothers shopping around their screenplay at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and the 2003 U.S Comedy Arts Festival. Their official screenplay description was "A contemporary political sci-fi epic about evil aliens from outer space who disguise themselves as wealthy CEO's and steal the US presidential election, buying their way into the white house and snatching away our freedoms." The documentary was made by Andrew Jon Thomson, who edits all his films using razor blades and tape. Also in 2003, Levitch had a cameo as a waiter in longtime friend Richard Linklater's biggest commercial success to date, School of Rock.
Thus far in 2004, Levitch hasn't been in the limelight much. He has made apperances at a couple of film festivals. Most notable being when he gave a bus load of people attending the 2004 Silverdocs film festival an "old school Levitch" style of a tour of the D.C suburb Silver Spring, Maryland. And also, never before seen footage of Levitch in 1997 reciting his own original poetry while rock outfit Weezer jammed out their hit Undone - The Sweater Song has surfaced and was released on the band's DVD Video Capture Device.
Besides that, Levitch must be somewhere in TriBeCa doing snippets from Titus Andronicus on somebody's living room floor.
Article "War Correspondence from the Present Tense.
an interview with Timothy "Speed" Levitch" by Evan Dashevsky from Hybrid Magazine (www.hybridmagazine.com)
Article "AFI/Discovery's Silverdocs Shines in Second Year" by Lily Oei from indieWIRE (www.indiewire.com)