09 January, 2010

the thaw

i was writing about dancing yesterday. it's been on my mind lately, how i use my body to react to music. sometimes i get frustrated that i have an instrument hanging on my neck so often. my favorite moments on stage are ones where i can put down whatever it is i am holding and move unfettered.

i wrapped up cultureweek2010 last night with a night of dancing to new orleans bands. perhaps because the APAP conference is this week, the musical offerings this weekend were vast. a new friend from new orleans was here in town, so i tagged along while she went around visiting her hometown bands.

after an amazing ethiopian dinner at meskerem, we started at sullivan hall. john ellis, paul sanchez, jason marsalis, and christian scott all took the stage in some form or other. there was tuba, trumpet, harmonica, vibes, and more, all mixing it up. it was early in the evening, and the crowd was moving like they needed more drinks. me too. i hadnt been to a club to just dance in awhile. you have to dance to new orleans music, but it took me a second to get going.

08 January, 2010


every time i set about writing today, i find myself distracted. i was never the kid who put off writing the paper. i was the cranker who turned it out in one sitting two or three days ahead of time and then coasted into the due date. i dont want to think about my blog as homework, but i am starting to feel that way. i felt the same way the other day when i had to write up a set of comments on net neutrality and my internet usage for the FCC. i kept finding reasons not to write. why? am i really that obstinate these days that any whiff of assignment, even self-imposed, results in intractibility? (by the way, you too can file comments with the FCC. instructions here, due on jan14th)

someone either here or on FB recommended the museum of art and design (thank you!), which has an especially attractive pay-what-you-wish thursday option. i went last night with my friend moose, a gifted producer and composer. we each paid $10 and saw a fabulous exhibit of paper sculpture.

07 January, 2010

elevate, escalate, remember

i got home last night from a friend's birthday party in the far away land of the Upper West Side, and was too tired to type. a contributing factor i am sure was the pounds of italian food i ate at gennaro. squid-blackened risotto, kale salad, truffle salad, more gnocchi, octopus salad, fettuchini bolognase, then mousse, flan, and tiramisu. happy birthday jane!

i finished up "zeitoun" the other night, tearing through the 4th segment of the book like a mad-woman. i needed to know what happened more than i needed to sleep. i love books like that, even though they make my head ache from all that reading and leave me short of breath from all that excitement. i am contemplating a move to new orleans, and a book like "zeitoun" mostly makes me want to live there.
i have always wanted to be a part of the type of community that has formed there. although there is a part of me that is consistently horrified by every new story i hear about katrina-related atrocities, i also wonder if an event like the flood has to define a city forever. i suppose like any place, there's gonna be ups and downs, and new orleans just happened to have had a very very famous down. i need to think more on this.

so instead of reading last night, i decided to watch a film. the first one i saw on the shelf was "ladysmith black mambazo: on tip toe". i could do a whole entry on this documentary. maybe i will when i dont have too many other things to get to in this one. like most people, i heard of LBM when i saw them with paul simon on SNL back in 1985. "graceland" had just come out, and paul simon was BIG. i was too young to catch any of the debates swirling around the record (politics, expoitation) and i still havent resolved my feelings on all that (and i have a damn ethnomusicology degree).

05 January, 2010


i spent the day stuck in front of my computer and on the phone dealing with Real Life. no worries, after a day of nose to the digital grindstone, i think i got done almost everything i needed.

i did go out to dinner in manhatten at frankies 17. there is one in brooklyn too. amazing italian food. we had beets and meatballs with raisins and tiramisu and cheesecake.

i was joined by my friend, the irish director jimmy fay. he's got a new sam shepard play opening at the atlantic next week. i'm not going to get to see it until later in its run, but it promises to be, as they say, a corker. jimmy is one of the smartest, deepest guys i know, and that's from only hearing about half of what comes out in his crooked irishman's accent. imagine if i understood everything he said.

04 January, 2010

translations from the good book

i woke up today feeling hungover and tired from all the stuff i have been pouring into my days. besides my cultural diet, i am also gorging on old friends and long catch-ups. so i took today easy, kind of.

when my friend c.Love and i had coffee this morning, i asked her if she was doing anything interesting tonight.

"yes, trans, dolly, gospel."

that's really all i heard, because i got so excited by what she was describing.

"stop," i said."i want to be surprised."

so i ended up tonight at joe's pub in manhatten seeing an incredible transwoman perform the gospel-oriented repertoire of dolly parton, complete with 7 piece band and choir.

the spirituality of subtraction

what happens when we take things away? i've been thinking a lot about that recently. perhaps part of it is because of the new year, and many resolutions involve giving something up. but i am thinking of subtraction as something even more fundamental and lasting than a new years diet. what happens when we abstain? what happens when we set limits for ourselves around consumption and accumulation?

i dont drink, smoke, or take drugs anymore. the subtraction of these items from my life has been miraculous. everything has shifted for me- my relationships to people, places, and things especially food, sex, and god. i am closer, clearer, and more present for all three. it's been a beautiful and i hope permanent shift.

03 January, 2010

time waits for no woman

i couldnt sleep last night. not because of being in a new place, or even the clatter of the F tracks outside my window, no, i couldnt sleep because i was reading "zeitoun" until the wee hours. I Could Not Put It Down. a gift, that book is. i mean, we all know whats gonna happen. a hurricane is coming, then a devastating flood. so what could be the hook? real lives painted in hyper color. i wish someone could take my day to day and go beyond reporting to commentating, contextualizing, and in short, elevating to literature, the daily sentences of life.

it made sense then to start my day at the strand in manhatten. as i was wandering about, i spotted a celebrity or two, including gretchen phillips, the punk-rock queere-core legende. after perusing the stacks a little more ( i bought nothing, she art books and the autobiography of helen keller), we decided to get some lunch.

a short hop away was souen, macrobiotic and beautiful asian food. i'd been there before, but didnt realize until i walked in the door and saw the split level layout. i love their grain coffee, a chicory and root combo that lives somewhere between coffee and tea. it reminded me of the tea that the spaceship heart of gold tries to make for arthur dent in the hitchhikers guide. something "very like" coffee, but not quite.

01 January, 2010

culture week 2010

for my vacation this year, i didnt choose to go to an island, someplace sunny, or even someplace warm. i chose instead to come to brooklyn for a week and pack in as much music, theater, art, and food as possible.

i have a friend who lives in carrol gardens. she has a fabulous little apartment not far from the F Train, where i've often stayed when i come to town. she's currently in africa, doing amazing political and activist type things, and she offered me her keys in exchange for watering her plants. i think i got the better end of the deal.

my plan is to be here for 8 nights and to pack every day with as much as i can hear, taste, and see. i regularly spend long stretches in brooklyn, but this time i am consciously setting out to overstimulate myself before i have to get back to work.

so, day one, i drove in and started out easy with an evening showing of guy ritchie's sherlock holmes. it's been awhile since i have been to a rock 'em sock 'em blockbusta. what a pleasure to turn off my mind and watch things explode. there was enough of a plot to hang some great fights on and plenty of eye candy (hello jude, and hello production designer) to satisfy me. sequel please. by the way, i dont know why but i am rooting for guy ritchie. was he done wrong by madge?

ok, how about some restaurant recommendations. i need an interesting dinner spot near BAM and a good sunday morning brunch spot (not too pricey) in midtown. also, what art should i see? anything special going on this week? hook me up!

PS: book for the week is zeitoun by dave eggers