I used to call Assemblyman Vito Lopez the Darth Vader of Brooklyn politics—and that was before I knew about the sexual harassment allegations. Many have charged that he is a Democratic kingmaker, a real old school party boss that rules the roost and is almost never challenged. Tish James told the New York Times in 2010, “Some people, when you mention the name Vito Lopez they quiver. They’re fearful.”
Lopez was first elected to the State Assembly in 1984 (representing Bushwick and Williamsburg) and since 2006 has served as the Chairman of the Kings County Democratic Party.
Last summer he announced that he would not seek re-election as Kings County Chairman due to allegations that he sexual harassed two of his female staff members and he was stripped of his committee chairmanship.
This week the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics issued a report outlining the sexual harassment of multiple women on his staff by Lopez. It sounds like there was a system of sexual harassment in his office. On Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo and many others recommended that Lopez be expelled from the Assembly.
On Friday, finally, Lopez, said he would resign his seat in the Assembly in five weeks. Five weeks? He should go immediately. But in an even more exasperating move, he announced that he plans to run for a City Council seat.
This guy is just unbelievable.
Steve Levin, a Park Slope City Councilman, issued a statement today renouncing his former mentor. While I am a fan of Levin’s I always wondered why he never spoke out against Vito before. I think he’s either very naive or very beholden to the man who helped him get elected.
“I was shocked and saddened to read the findings in the JCOPE report on Assemblyman Lopez. The findings detail behavior that is disturbing, indefensible, and constitutes a breach of the public trust. During my time in his office there were never any incidents or allegations of sexual harassment. If there had been I would have contacted the authorities immediately. Sexual harassment is unacceptable under all circumstances and I do not tolerate it. Due to the circumstances, I believe it is the best thing for everyone concerned that he voluntarily step down.”
Lopez should leave the Assembly immediately and never run for another office. Systemic sexual harassment is not acceptable in our government, in our military, anywhere. Out with the bad. Time to go Vito. Someone show him the door.
Join me for an evening of South African Story, Song and Savory Cuisine at Madiba Restaurant on June 5th at 7PM. The event is FREE but there’s a delicious $35 three-course prix fixe meal available, as well as Dinner and a Book for $50.
There will be free appetizers and wine from 7-8PM.
Novelist and South African emigré Neville Frankel reads from his newly-published literary thriller of the apartheid era, Bloodlines, called “fierce and thrilling” by Kirkus Indie Review. In this harrowing story of a family fractured by apartheid and a son who struggles to piece everything together, Frankel “explores the bloody truths of apartheid in a sweeping narrative that covers five decades,” writes Jan Gardner in The Boston Globe.
Together with South African music performed by Nedelka Prescod and Earth Tones, the evening will provide a moving and deeply personal perspective on a country that has suffered great turmoil in its quest for social justice and equality.
Email me if you’d like to reserve a spot or a table: firstname.lastname@example.org. Madiba Restaurant, 195 Dekalb Avenue, in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn. The Event is free.
Have you seen Bklynr? It’s a brand new web magazine offering quality journalism about Brooklyn. Founded by Raphael Pope-Sussman, who you may remember from the Park Slope 100 for his blog The Audacity of Pope, and Thomas Rhiel, it is gorgeously designed and it features stories, smart and deep, about immigration reform, barber shops, the Gowanus Canal, and happens when the biggest Jewish cemetery in Brooklyn runs out of room and much more. Plus photojournalism, graphic stories and illustration.
The illustration is from ”What You See Is What You Get,” a semi-autobio comic by Dean Haspiel featured in this month’s Bklnr.
Here’s the pitch from Bklynr, which costs $2 a month or $20 a year.
It’s harder than it should be to find quality journalism about Brooklyn. Certain aspects and areas of the borough are covered to death (you know which ones), while the rest of Brooklyn gets limited attention. We want to help change that. BKLYNR strives to produce thoughtful, compelling journalism that explores new narratives rather than retreading tired tropes.
Twice a month, we publish in-depth stories about the political, economic, and cultural life of Brooklyn. Each issue contains three pieces.
To read BKLYNR, subscribe. You can choose either a recurring monthly subscription, which is $2, or a one-time annual subscription, which is $20.
Thanks to all for Edgy Moms 2013. It was a great night with Sophia Romero, Karen Ritter, Lori Topoll, Susan Hodara, Vicki Addesso, Chris Nelson, Cathy Brown and Nicole Calihan.
I think we delivered on our promise of funny, poignant, frank and fresh writing about motherhood and mothers. It was truly a great night.
Thanks to everyone who came to Edgy Moms 2013 last night. I think we delivered, as promised, funny, poignant, shocking and fresh writing about mothers and motherhood. And now for something else. I hope you’ll join me on May 23rd for a pop-up reading at Babeland in Park Slope.
In collaboration with Edgy Moms, Brooklyn’s favorite alternative Mother’s Day event, Babeland invites you to ditch sippy cups for sex toys and let loose. Enjoy readings about sex and motherhood by authors Karen Ritter, Louise Crawford, Alex Beers, Caitlin McDonnel and Babeland Bubbly. We’ll raffle great prizes and the first fifteen moms to arrive will receive gift bags filled with items to hide from the kids. Dads welcome.
Thanks to DNA Info for the shout-out about Edgy Moms (May 9 at 8PM). Here’s an excerpt to their story called “Park Slope Reading Celebrates ‘Edgy Moms’ for Mother’s Day” and a link:
Forget breakfast in bed and a bouquet: some moms will celebrate Mother’s Day this year by sharing wine-fueled true confessions about the maternal experience.
The annual “Edgy Moms” reading at Park Slope’s Old Stone House on Thursday night will feature writers regaling the audience with “funny, poignant, shocking” and “very, very frank” stories about motherhood, organizer Louise Crawford said.
On Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at Congregation Beth Elohim, an all-night event called “Shavuot Across Brooklyn” will take place in honor of the holiday of Shavuot, which commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments.
Starting at 8PM with a choice between Orthodox, Traditional Egalitarian, Reform, and Meditation Services, the night will transition into a festive party and then to a host of creative classes going through the night culminating in a sunrise service at 5AM.
The night includes opportunities to learn with some of the best teachers, musicians, artists, and cooks in New York Jewish life.
Jeremiah Lockwood – acclaimed musician and leader of the band Sway Machinery
Ron Lieber – New York Times Columnist who will join with Rabbi Shira Epstein to teach about money and ethics
Rabbi Jeff Salkin – Acclaimed author of Putting God On The Guest List: How To Reclaim The Spiritual Meaning of Your Child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah, and The Gods Are Broken! The Hidden Legacy of Abraham
Jeff Yoskowitz – founder of the Gefilteria and appearing on the Forward 50 list who will teach a worship on pickling
David Deblinger – the co-founder of internationally renowned Labyrinth Theater Company and the Founder of Ensemble Force Inc.
For a full list of presenters go to: www.cbebk.org/shavuot.
The night is sponsored by:
Altshul, Brooklyn Jews, Congregation Beth Elohim, Congregation Mount Sinai, Flatbush Jewish Center, Hannah Senesh Community Day School, Israelis in Brooklyn, Jewish Meditation Center of Brooklyn, Kolot Chayeinu, LABA, Locally Grown Shabbat, Mishkan Minyan, Moishe House, Park Slope Jewish Center, Prospect Heights Shul, Shir HaMaalot, and Union Temple
Because I was feeling nostalgic and compulsive I decided to compile a list of the all the Edgy Moms from 2007 through 2013 (That show will be on Thursday, May 9 at 8PM at The Old Stone House).
EDGY MOMS 2007
Susan Gregory Thomas, author of Buy, Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Mothers and Harms Children
Louise Crawford, aka Smartmom
Amy Sohn, author of Prospect Park West and Motherland
Sophia Romero author of Always Hiding
Mary Warren, blogger
Jennifer Block, author of Pushed
Judy Lichtblau, writer of short stories
Alison Lowenstein, author of City Baby Brooklyn
Michele Somerville Madigan, author of Wisegal and Black Irish
Tom Rayfiel, author of Parallel Play and Eve in the City
EDGY MOMS 2008
Christen Clifford, playwright of Babylove
Amy Benfer, editor and staff writer at Salon, Paper and Metro
Michele Madigan Somerville, author of Wisegal and Black Irish
Louise Crawford, Smartmom
Amy Sohn, author of Prospect Park West and Motherland
Sophia Romero, author of Always Hiding, The Shiksa from Manila
Lenore Skenazy, author of Free Range Kids
Started in 2007, Edgy Moms is an annual reading of funny, poignant, shocking, and fresh writing about mothers and motherhood at The Old Stone House in Park Slope (presented by Brooklyn Reading Works). This year it’s on May 9 at 8PM. The Edgy Moms Manifesto, which I wrote, is read at the beginning of each year’s event:
Seven years ago I created Edgy Mother’s Day. I had sort of a vague sense of what that meant but it’s always been hard to articulate when people ask for, y’know, the quick elevator speech.
So what is an Edgy Mom?
She’s feisty and fun and a little bit zany. She whines to her friends and can be a bit of a martyr. She fantasizes about taking long trips without her children,
And getting a room of her own on Block Island with a computer and a view of the sea.
She lets her kids have dessert before dinner,
Reheated pizza for breakfast.
And NEVER remembers to bring Cheeros in a little Tupperware container to the playground
Except when she does and then she feels VICTORIOUS!
Last night’s mayoral forum, organized by the Park Slope Civic Council and other local civic groups, was set within the grandiose beauty of Congregation Beth Elohim’s sanctuary. Esteemed WNYC radio journalist Andrea Bernstein sat on the bema (stage) at a round table with a blue tablecloth. There were maybe two hundred people in attendance.
The idea was that each candidate, one at a time, would get their fifteen minutes or so to answer questions, some of which were submitted previously by members of the audience.
A fairly simple idea. But politics is always a circus, isn’t it? Apparently there were two other mayoral forums going on elsewhere in the city and the candidates were shuttling from one to the next.
Up first was City Comptroller (and former City Council Member) John Liu. Fresh on the heels of a conviction by a federal jury of two of his campaign staff on campaign-finance fraud charges, he came across as smart, direct, well-informed and a little defensive.
“I will defend Jenny Hu until the day I die ,” he said referring to the 26-year old staff member. He called the investigation into his campaign “basically a witch hunt.”
I couldn’t help but think he was making the old “I am not a crook” mistake. Let it go, Liu. Let it go and move on.
The Park Slope audience was pleased by his dis of the Barclays Center and disdained the developer’s use of eminent domain and the promise of affordable housing. “We got a stadium and jobs for popcorn vendors,” he told the crowd. “What else have we gotten but promises that were never met?”
He proposed ending all subsidies given to corporations for development, including tax abatements. “We can develop without tax payer’s money if we’re getting little in return,” he said and many in the audience applauded.
In a moment of levity, he asked that the audience not hold it against him that he’s from Queens. Asked what he didn’t like about Bloomberg he said, “NYC is too much of a Nanny state,” citing the proposed restrictions on beverage drink sizes.
Asked about the Prospect Park Bike Lane, he said there was was “a paucity of outreach” and that many of the bike lanes around the city were eroniously set up as pilot programs that circumvent the community process. (In fact, the Prospect Park Bike Lane was supported by the Community Board process.)
Capture some of New York’s best and most accessible art in its gritty concrete “gallery” as we take to the streets and explore the unique applications and vibrant renderings of the urban artist.
Tom and Tony of Switch to Manual are your guides and the tour starts at the Verb Cafe. They’ll bring you to some of the great spots for street art in Brooklyn.
Given the transient nature of street art, every walk will be different as one masterpiece is replaced by another.
The Ground Floor Gallery opened last month in a storefront on Fifth Street just steps from Fifth Avenue. Krista Saunders and Jill Benson, already hot names on the short list of interesting Brooklyn art impressarios, have the honorable goal of connecting local, emerging artists to residents of Brooklyn and beyond through curated solo and group exhibitions of original, affordable art. As they did with their G-Train Salon, which was a floating gallery at various sites in Brooklyn, they love to host artist salons and other events, and encourage conversations between local residents and the artists-in-residence in the gallery throughout the exhibition season.
Ultimately, the gallery hopes to forge connection and communication between the artists and the community to help art lovers get to know the person and the story behind the work in a warm and inviting setting
You won’t want to miss their May opening on Friday, May 10 from 6 – 8:30pm at Ground Floor Gallery in Park Slope, Brooklyn! They are located at 343 5th Street (off 5th Avenue). The majority of the work on view will be between $75 – $400!
For May, they are presenting a featured artist exhibition, as well as a group show. The featured artist will be Bushwick-based Andrea Burgay, who will be showing new collage and sculpture in her solo exhibition, “Becoming Ritual.” The May group show features artists Jessica van Brakle, Iviva Olenick (whose work is pictured) and Caroline Marshall Hill. Both exhibitions will be on view through Sunday, June 2.
Those of you without a blog probably don’t realize that bloggers are constantly besieged with blog comments spam. This spam is a form of advertising, an attempt to sneak a particular company or website link onto a public page. It’s written in English, sometimes bad English and sometimes makes me laugh but mostly annoys me. A lot.
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WHAT: NYC Mayoral Candidates Forum
WHEN: Monday, May 6, 2013, at 7:00 –9:00 p.m.(doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
WHERE: Congregation Beth Elohim (274 Garfield Place at 8 th Avenue)
All the mayoral candidates as of March 2013 have been invited to attend the forum (Sal Albanese; Adolfo Carrion; John Catsimatidis; Bill de Blasio; Joe Lhota; John Liu; George McDonald; Christine Quinn; and Bill Thompson).
The forum will be moderated by Andrea Bernstein of WNYC and will be strictly timed. There will be 1.5 minute opening statements and 2 minute closing statements. We wish to extend an invitation to all interested voters to attend this forum, and hear the candidates’ vision for the future of Brooklynand NYC. All local news outlets, publications and blogs are also invited to attend.
You can even submit questions in advance at Google Moderator: http://go.gl/mod/8 pOB. The forum is free and no RSVP or tickets are required. first come, first served seating.
Last night Maddie on Things launched at Powerhouse Books in DUMBO and I hear the line was out the door because a whole lot of people wanted to meet the amazing dog, who has already been featured in People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly and elsewhere.
When photographer Theron Humphrey discovered that the dog he rescued from a shelter had the ability to stand on all kinds of things, he knew he’d stumbled on “a super serious project about dogs and physics.”
Photographer and dog traveled cross country and together collaborated on these incredible photos. Maddie is obviously a sweet-tempered coonhound. She can balance on everything from bicycles to giant watermelons to horses to people. The amazing photographs by Humphrey owe a lot to William Wegman and his iconic Weimaraners, but also have much in the way of their own unique charm, skill and sheer wow-power.
The book is a celebration via skillful Instagram photos of Maddie and her incredible balance.
My friend Branka just wrote to me about this cool activity on May 5th from 2-6PM. Spring is here and everything’s in bloom. Come discover what greens are growing wild in our back yard. Learn how to identify seasonal edible and medicinal plants in Prospect Park with locavore and urban gardener Leda Meredith. For more info and tickets go here.
Learn to identify plants like: lamb’s quarters, burdock, pokeweed, plantain, mugwort, dandelion, peppergrass, epazote, sassafras, spicebush, sorrel, milkweed, garlic mustard…and many more.
Tastings will include – red clover blossom bread and a garlic mustard pesto spread, plus one other wild-food based dip or spread to enjoy.
Afterwards, sample tastings prepared by Leda, accompanied by your favorite beverage at Snail of Approval bar/restaurant Flatbush Farm.
Proceeds from this event support the programs of Slow Food NYC, including the Urban Harvest program of good food education for NYC kids at schools in the South Bronx, Harlem, Lower East Side, and Brooklyn, as well as a summer urban farm in Brooklyn.
The television was still on when I awoke Tuesday morning at 4AM after falling asleep exhausted at midnight during a Dave Letterman show recorded without an audience.
A few hours of sleep and then it was time for an update on the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Sandy’s landfall in New York City. The wind gusts are still fierce on Third Street; the trees sway violently. From my windows it looks like Park Slope made it through the storm very well. The same, of course, cannot be said for areas close by…
Walking though the apartment I see signs of yesterday’s panic/preparedness. The stove top is covered with pots filled with water. On the countertops are pitchers of water. The bathtub is filled with water.
The dining room table is covered with flashlights and batteries. A Scrabble board with tiles of a game played last night next to a thousand jigsaw puzzle pieces, an image of Marilyn Monroe coming into view.
The refrigerator is filled with food; our rain boots and foul weather gear are at the ready by the front door. We never got around to creating “Go Bags” but I don’t think we’ll be needing them now anyway.
On the TV, a flooded Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, a dark Manhattan, a crane dangling from atop a NYC high rise under construction. New Jersey looks hard hit, weathermen and women describe weather conditions to come. More than 600,000 are without power in NYC and Westchester.
Before sunrise it’s hard to even know how bad the devestation. The Gowanus just a few blocks away flooded familiar streets near our home. Park Slope may have averted disaster but Manhattan, especially below 34th Street, wasn’t so lucky.
Shock. Pain. Incredulity. A native New Yorker I don’t remember a situation like this before. 9/11 comes to mind as a similarly disorienting and traumatic event. We know from that experience that we can pull together, that we are resilient, that we will get through this.
Remember: this too shall pass—with a great deal of hard work by rescue workers who evoke our gratitude. But all of us will have to find a way to help those in need and muster our strength to get through this anomalous and disorienting situation.
We waited and watched.
In Park Slope power outages and flooding never came (though the Gowanus overflowed just blocks away). But on the television we watched as Con Edision transformers exploded, Manhattan went dark below 34th Street; fires raged in Queens; and water flooded subways and tunnels.
We waited and watched as trees flailed violently outside our Park Slope windows and images from lower Manhattan painted a portrait of life after wartime. A flooded metropolis astounded us. Catastrophic was a word that was bandied about. A back up generator at NYU failed and patients were shown being transferred to other hospitals. On Twitter, incredible images of a submerged FDR Drive, a soaked Penn Station, a dark Tribeca, a flooded Stuyvesant Town in the East Village.
At 4AM Tuesday morning, my city is in ruins. A million are without power, the subways are stilled, stations soaked. The streets are canals, fires rage and forecasters discuss a bizarre convergence of weather systems that left unseen destruction in its wake.
I wait and watch for the sunrise when my resilient city begins its slow recovery from this destruction.
On the fourth, there will be a bake and plant sale, face painting, puppets, and activities galore for kids and adults. From 5:30 until 9:30 PM, there will be a multi-media dance party on the turf. Nice poster, huh?
A New Yorker editor Ben Greenman is known around Park Slope as a PS 321 dad and an author of some very interesting fiction, including the novels Superbad from McSweeney’s, Please Step Back and a collection of short stories called What He’s Poised to Do.
So how’s this for a cool idea for a literary reading?
To celebrate the launch of his new novel The Slippage (Harper Perennial), Greenman welcomes students from Park Slope’s esteemed elementary school, PS 321, to read from their original work.
What a cool idea. It’s sure to be a great event. As a former editor of Pandamonium, the school’s annual poetry magazine, I know the kids do great writing at that school.
Greenman will also read from The Slippage, the story of a suburban husband and wife in the process of assessing what their relationship means to them, and if it will survive.
Props to Kayla Bernie, the young artist who created this work. She is a junior at Bishop Kearney High School in Brooklyn and she won third place in The Tablet’s ”Christ is Risen” art contest. The Tablet is the Brooklyn-Queens Diocese Newsletter.
Don’t miss the Seventh Annual EDGY MOMS, presenting poignant, hilarious, incisive and powerful writing about mothers and motherhood. Curated by Louise Crawford and Sophia Romero, this uproarious and insightful event takes place, as always, at the The Old Stone House on May 9th at 8PM (once again sponsored by Babeland). Presented by Brooklyn Reading Works produced by Louise Crawford
Meet the 2013 Edgy Moms:
A veteran of advertising, KAREN RITTER has squandered decades crafting copy for clients as diverse as Dunkin’ Donuts and Weight Watchers. Persuading some people to gain weight and others to lose it created a psychic split, galvanizing Karen to take refuge in fiction. She has completed one novel, Living with Men. A mother of one, Karen is still traumatized by the autobiographical novel her own mother self-published 35 years ago. Now that her mother has left this plane of existence in search of better material, Karen is writing her own autobiographical work, My Mother/Herself.
CHRIS NELSON earned her MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied playwriting with Tony Kushner, John Guare and Arthur Miller. She has a BA in both English and Drama and a Film Certificate from Duke University. Her writing has been recognized with an NEA grant, two Benenson Awards in the Arts, the Reynolds Price Award, and residency grants from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico in Taos, NM, the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Banner, WY, and the Julia and David White Artists’ Colony in Ciudad Colón, Costa Rica. Chris lives with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn.
NICOLE CALLIHAN’S poems, stories, and essays have appeared in Cream City Review, L Magazine, and Painted Bride Quarterly. She teaches at New York University and in schools and hospitals throughout the city.
SOPHIA ROMERO is the author of the novel, Always Hiding. She writes the hilarious blog, The Shiksa from Manila and has two children, Amalia and Eli. Her husband, Dan Silver, is a good egg.
CATHY GIGANTE-BROWN has been a freelance writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry since the ripe young age of fifteen. Her works have appeared in a variety of publications, including Time Out New York, Essence, Seventeen and The Italian Journal of Wine and Food. Along with Robert “The Harrad Experiment” Rimmer, she co-wrote two fringe biographies for Prometheus Books (Mistress Jacqueline’s Whips & Kisses and Jerry Butler’s Raw Talent). Her short stories appear in several fiction anthologies and her essay, “When I was Young,” was included in Penguin Books’ Vietnam Voices. A number of her screenplays have been produced by small, independent companies. Her essay “Autumn of 9/11” was awarded first prize in The Brooklyn Public Library’s 2004 “My Brooklyn” contest. Her work, Weekender, was included in the Rosendale Theatre Collective’s first annual Short Play Festival. Cathy was born and bred in Brooklyn, where she still lives with her husband and son. Her ebook, The El, is her first published novel
After a 15-year career in museum education, and 10 years of full-time mothering, VICKI ADDESSO began devoting her time to writing memoir and fiction. Addesso works part-time doing research for the Treeture Environmental Education Program and writes for the organization’s Web site. Her work has been published by Damselfly Press, and she is currently at work on a collection of short stories.
After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, LORI TOPPEL worked as a staff writer and editor for different magazines. She received her MFA in fiction writing at Columbia University, where she received a fellowship. Toppel’s novel, Three Children (Summit Books, 1992), was nominated for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Her stories and personal essays have appeared in such journals as the Antioch Review, Del Sol Review, and The Living Room. Her work has been listed in the top 25 of the Glimmer Train Fiction Open. She is currently at work on a novella set in Puerto Rico.
SUSAN HODARA works as a freelance journalist who frequently covers the arts, with articles appearing in publications including the New York Times, Communication Arts, Harvard Magazine, and others. She has been writing memoir for more than 15 years, with her pieces appearing in the anthologies Motif 3: Work (MotesBooks, 2011), Illness & Grace, Terror & Transformation (Wising Up Press, 2007), The Westchester Review (2007, 2008), I Wanna be Sedated (Seal Press, 2005), My Heart’s First Steps (Adams Media, 2004), Girl Wars (Fireside, 2003), and Surviving Ophelia (Perseus Publishing, 2001). Her memoirs have also been published in numerous literary journals and other publications including salon.com, The Lindenwood Review, Evening Street Review, Airplane Reading, tak′tīl, Venus Envy, Cesium, and Conversely; one was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. With degrees from Harvard and Columbia universities, she has been teaching memoir writing since 2003, and currently conducts memoir workshops at the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center in Sleepy Hollow, NY, and the Pelham Art Center in Pelham, NY.
Photograph borrowed from http://www.mommaroo.com
On May 9 at 7PM, Tony Kushner, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for his play “Angels in America,” and author of the Oscar-nominated screenplay for “Lincoln,” joins Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives’s Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, who was recently named among America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis by The Forward, for an intimate conversation, reception and book signing on May 9, at 7:00 PM at Kolot Chayeinu in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
“Lincoln: The Screenplay” will be available thanks to the Community Bookstore. This special evening launches Kolot Chayeinu’s TALK THE TALK annual lecture series.
Maybe because I am a runner and have run a half-marathon, I felt like it was my people who were targeted yesterday. Obama, who looked grim during his remarks yesterday said, “On days like this there are no Republicans or Democrats — we are Americans, united in concern for our fellow citizens.”
To which I might add, we are all runners, we are all citizens of Boston.
In January I attended a book launch at the exquisite Boston Public Library, the oldest library in America. I stayed at the Lenox Hotel and ate breakfast at the Four Seasons in Copley Square. Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood was vivid in my mind as I watched video of first responders wheeling runners on gurneys across bloody sidewalks.
Another day was vivid in my mind, too.
The weather was perfect, the sky bright blue just like the morning of September 11, 2001, when I felt the same sense of violation and loss. Just like that day, it was the second hit that convinced us that it was not an accident but an attack.
Yesterday afternoon the TV news played the same video over and over again, just like they did on 9/11. I knew from that time to turn it off and tune in to what I was thinking and feeling. Shock. Pain. Fear. Grief. Sympathy for the victims, hope for the injured.
To which I might add, we are all runners, we are all citizens of Boston.
The Epoch is a community of musicians, writers, visual artists and filmmakers born and bred in Brooklyn who are now living all over the country.
“We were grown together, and are growing still,” they write on their website. A group of the musical contingent of The Epoch just moved to Chicago and they’ve recorded an album in honor of that move.
Here’s how they describe it:
Walk Away From Me is a three-way split between Bellows, Small Wonder and eskimeaux. The album was recorded between February and April 2013 and is a flagship for the recent move of the three artists from their childhood home of New York City to Chicago. Henry (Small Wonder) came up with the idea of three bands from the same scene covering Lou Reed, David Bowie and Iggy Pop, as a tribute to three bands who each transplanted from their hometowns to live and work in Berlin in the late 1970′s.
Walk Away From Me begins with three covers — Small Wonder introduces the album with The Velvet Underground song “Candy Says”. Bellows covers the David Bowie song “Soul Love”, and eskimeaux covers Iggy Pop’s “Tonight”.
The second half of the split is made up of original songs by each of the three bands, “Well”, written as a reaction to “Tonight” by eskimeaux, “Papa Bear”, a woodsy electro-ballad by Bellows, and “Wood for the Fire”, a song of bodylessness and anxious peace.
The song Candy Says is pretty awesome.
I am working on a short video about the NY Writers Coalition, which is one of the largest community writing organizations in the country.
The NY Writers Coalition offers free creative writing workshops throughout New York City for people from groups that have been historically deprived of voice in our society, including at-risk and disconnected youth, the homeless and formerly homeless, the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, war veterans, people with disabilities, cancer and major illness, immigrants, seniors and others.
It’s really quite amazing. Their operating premise is that everyone has a story, everyone has a voice; we’re all writers and writing can be transformative and therapeutic.
Yesterday we videotaped a writing workshop at CIDNY, the Center for Independence for Disabled Individuals near Union Square, and I was reminded of why I love writing and why writing is so important for expression and self-actualization.
The CIDNY Group, which has been meeting regularly for four years, is led by author Avra Wing, whose novel Angie, I Says, a New York Times notable book, was made into the feature film Angie starring Geena Davis and James Gandolfini.
Avra started the workshop with a writing prompt, something she found on Craig’s List about a purple scarf lost in Williamsburg. This was followed by fifteen minutes of writing.
Everyone in the group has some kind of physical or neurological disability. Some members of the group struggled to write, some struggled to read. One man in particular read haltingly. But it was worth the wait to hear everyone’s incredible written response to the Craig’s List prompt.
One man read about a friend who died a year ago. A woman wrote about a woman with cancer knitting a purple scarf, as she receives chemotherapy. Another participant wrote about a jazz musician, another wrote a poem vividly describing the purple scarf lying on the grey, dirty sidewalk of Williamsburg.
There was poetry, short story, scenes with dialogue, and journal-like writing that wandered into personal confession. After each person read, Avra asked the group to comment and many in the ten person group contributed comments about what stood out, what moved them, which phrases were most striking.
After the workshop, we interviewed the participants individually and heard just how important the group is to them. Quite a few described the warm, non-judgemental environment that enabled them to feel like writers, not “disabled people.”
This was the first time I ever attended one of NYWC workshops, and I feel privileged to have been able to witness it first hand. I look forward to the other shoots, especially Saturday’s seventh annual adult marathon reading, featuring a myriad of writers from NYWC workshops.
This year’s reading takes place at the Andrew Heiskell Library (40 W 20th Street, Manhattan). Light refreshments will be served. Click here for directions. If you are interested in donating to this wonderful organization or would like to attend their Spring Fever fundraiser on May 10th, Go here for more information.
You know I enjoy the work of James Braly. You’ve almost certainly read about him here before. He’s a laugh-out-loud kind of guy who was part of a great panel we did at Brooklyn Reading Works called The Truth and the Ghost Writer.
Today’s the news is that he’s just published his first book, a laugh-out-loud memoir based on his hit Off-Broadway Show Life in a Marital Institution. You don’t need me to tell you that James has a lot going on:
–He is a contributor to This American Life
–He is a frequent performer on The Moth, and its first two-time GrandSlam winner
–His hit Off-Broadway show has been optioned for television by Meredith Vieira Productions and received fantastic reviews from The New York Times, Variety and others.
From what I’ve read (and I’ve read a few hilarious chapters), Braly’s memoir is a brilliant expansion of his show, and a hilarious treatise on the endless battle of the sexes.
Here’s the quick synop: James and Jane are a 21st century Lucy and Desi: It’s a classic love story– a relatively conservative man marries an increasingly progressive woman with whom he tries (and frequently fails) to find middle ground. Eating placentas? Check. “Post-betrayal sex?” Check. Breastfeeding past the 1st, 2nd, 3rd… birthday? Check.
The culture is ready to be examined– and Braly’s memoir examines the clash, from a male perspective, between the old world and the new in the context of modern romance and timeless male/female dynamics and differences.
Sound like your cup of tea?
In my mind’s eye, I can see us in the big living room of the house on Mendelsohn Street in Binghamton listening to another favorite Persuasions album called Street Corner Symphony with songs like People Get Ready.
That’s why I am so excited to see that they’re coming to Park Slope where they’re going to raise the roof—literally and figuratively—of Old First Dutch Reformed Church.
On April 26 at 7PM come on out for Raise the Roof with A Cappella, a benefit concert featuring Brooklyn’s own, The Persuasions, the sophisticated harmonies of VOX BOP(including our own Jennifer Nelson), Old First’s in house ADOLESAINTS, PolyPrep’s UNACCOMPANIED MINORS, and musical interludes provided by the fiery fiddling of PITNACREE. Tickets:$30 adults, $25 children(12 and under), $35 at the door. Purchase at bpt.me/357326
All proceeds will be donated to the Ceiling Restoration Fund
Venue: Old First Lower Hall