Oct 12: Colum McCann at Muldoon’s Picnic

October 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 


Paul Muldoon, Pulitzer Prize winning poet and poetry editor for The New Yorker curates and hosts Muldoon’s Picnic the second  Monday of each month at Irish Arts Center at 553 West 51st Street in Manhattan.

On October 12th at 7:30 p.m., Muldoon’s Picnic will feature author Colum McCann author of  Let the Great World Spin, winner of the National Book Award.

This omnium-gatherum of words and music also includes Portland-born poet Michael Dickman, fiddler and violinist Dan Trueman, Indie Neo Folk band Damsel and Rogue Oliphant, a spoken word ensemble featuring Paul Muldoon. You’re in for a treat as Paul Muldoon leads this night of half musical, half literary revelry.

For more information: irishartscenter.org

Help Your Child Develop Ease, Confidence and Joy about Reading & Writing

September 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

My friend Eleanor Traubman is a wonderful tutor. She’s smart, patient, compassionate, creative and fun. If you child is in need of school help or wants to develop confidence and joy about reading and writing, give Eleanor a call. I give her my very highest recommendation.

Tutoring with Eleanor Fall 2015

This Week on The Katie Halper Show: Al Giordano To Drop Bomb on Facebook

September 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 



Called “cute and somewhat brainy” by The National Review (of all people), KATIE HALPER is a new kind of radio personality. A mash-up of Bill Maher and, er, Emma Goldman, she uses humor as a portal to serous issues and serious issues as a portal to humor. In the process she eviscerates as she illuminates.

This week Katie is joined by AL GIORDANO, who will speak on behalf of Narco News and the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism to announce that they’re taking their 27,000+ Facebook followers to Tsu as a response to Mark Zuckerberg banning links to his upstart competitor. On Katie’s show, he plans to invite “all of New York City to join us in the exodus.” Giordano is a journalist who operates the Narco News Bulletin, reporting on the War on Drugs, the political blog The Field, reporting on American politics, and the School of Authentic Journalism.

She will also interview NATASHA LENNARD, a former freelancer at the New York Times, who helped the newspaper cover the initial Occupy Wall Street protests. She was arrested during the Brooklyn Bridge demonstration while reporting on the event. She now writes for Fusion.

The Katie Halper Show on WBAI (6 pm on Wednesdays) takes a humorous look at the news, politics, pop culture, and the arts through news segments and conversations with writers, journalists, activists, artists and political comedians. Upcoming guests include Ta-Nehisi Coates on October 28th and Judah Friedlander (TBD). Katie also writes and performs sketches like “Excuse You,” “Right Wing Erotica,” “Family Values,”  and “The Sixty-Second Rant.”

Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie is a comedian, writer, filmmaker and history teacher based in New York. A co-founder and member of the comedy ensemble Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, and The Nation Magazine Cruise. Katie’s writing and videos have appeared in Salon, The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Jezebel, Guernica, Alternet, Raw Story, Feministing and more. Katie appears regularly on HuffPost Live as well as MSNBC, RT, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once).

Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, the Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit.

Katie attended the Dalton School, where she has taught history, and Wesleyan University, where she learned that “labels are for jars.”

You can listen to The Katie Halper at these links:

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Oct 4: Children’s Festival of Literature at Irish Arts Center

September 25, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

In honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year Award, Irish Arts Center introduces its first-ever festival celebrating Irish children’s literature!

On October 8th at Irish Arts Center, the very best Irish children’s writers recognized at the leading book awards in Ireland, the CBI Book of the Year Awards, are featured at Rí Rá Festival of Children’s Literature. Bringing children and families together to creatively engage with literature, the festival encourages readers tall and small to discover new books at readings, talk with those who create them, and share their love for reading. Stay all day, or pop in to play at one of our many free events for kids, teens, and adults.

Rí Rá, Irish Gaelic for “ruckus” or “mayhem,” is the perfect word to describe this one-day extravaganza of Irish children’s literature.

Authors include Áine Ní Ghlinn, Oliver Jeffers (pictured above), Chris Haughton, Louise O’Neill, Gabriel Rosenstock, and Eoin Colfer (Children’s Laureate of Ireland).

Sunday, October 4, 2015

11 am – 4 pm
Irish Arts Center553 West 51 Street, New York, NY 10019

$5 per person for individual events: Oliver Jeffers (11 am,) Chris Haughton (12 pm,) Gabriel Rosenstock (1 pm,) Aine Ní Ghlinn (2 pm,) and Louise O’Neill (3 pm)

Festival Pass $15 (+ 20% off books)

$50 Festival Family Pass
(2 adults + 2 kids OR 1 adult + 3 kids + 20% off books)

FREE for Junior Joyce & Family Circle Members

Eye-Opening Account of Prostitution at Irish Arts Center with Rachel Moran

September 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 



“Thoughtful, highly readable, and provocative….shines a necessary light on a dark and underdiscussed topic.”– Kirkus, Starred Review

Bestselling author, sex-trade survivor, and activist Rachel Moran will be at the Irish Arts Center to discuss her new memoir Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution—a brave, compassionate, and humane account of her time lived as a prostitute in Ireland, her struggle to break free, and the politics and psychological damage associated with selling your body to survive.

Escaping an unstable family and state care, at age fifteen Rachel became homeless. For the next seven years she worked as a prostitute—isolated, drug-addicted, outside of society. Her experience was one of violence, loneliness, and relentless exploitation and abuse. Paid For is an indictment of prostitution and a celebration of a remarkable woman’s survival of body and soul.

Rachel Moran grew up and lives in North Dublin. At 22 she started on the path to further education, gaining a degree in journalism from Dublin City University, where she won the Hybrid Award for excellence in journalism. She speaks internationally on prostitution and sex-trafficking and volunteers to talk to young girls in residential care about the harms and dangers of prostitution.

Grand Central Oyster Bar Brooklyn Makes for a Real Staycation

June 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Food and Drink 

The recent history of Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue swirled through my mind while dining at the Grand Central Oyster Bar Brooklyn at 256 Fifth Avenue.

Cucina was one of the first to occupy 256. It was, at one time, Park Slope’s only fancy, special occasion restaurant. When they closed, the space, which is three commercial spaces wide, became Tempo and then Fornino, a highly rated gourmet pizza restaurant with tons of cred that still couldn’t make a success of that enormous space.

Around 2008, there was talk of an Asian fusion restaurant with the owners of Stone Park Cafe. But that never came to pass, I’m guessing, due to a recession that briefly kicked Brooklyn’s butt.

Then, Grand Central Oyster Bar, the New York institution on the lower level of Grand Central Station, decided to drop anchor in Park Slope. What? It seemed such an intriguing if strange idea?  How could the Oyster Bar make sense in Park Slope?

I was familiar with the Oyster Bar from the days my father worked in the Pan Am building and we’d meet for an elegant and quick lunch at the Oyster where we’d have clam chowder at the counter. What fun that was.

Grand Central Oyster Bar Brooklyn (GCOBB) opened its doors in December 2013. Interestingly enough, the original Oyster Bar first opened its doors in 1913 almost exactly 100 years before. Seems that the Brooklyn Oyster Bar is some sort of franchise. Here from their website an interesting quote from Jerome Brody, Founder of Grand Central Oyster Bar & Franchising:

In 1974, when I was approached by the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority to take it over, the old restaurant had been bankrupt and empty for two years, having become in its last days not much more than a sad, old coffee shop.

To prepare for the decision, my wife and I toured the best-known seafood restaurants in Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey, and the rest of the metropolitan area, and they were invariably full–even when the cuisine was ordinary. This is why I decided to take a chance–the same kind of chance I had taken with restaurants such as the Forum of The Twelve Caesars, the Rainbow Room, the Four Seasons, and Gallagher’s. And so, in 1974, I entered into a lease with the MTA, and embarked on inventing the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant.

According to Michael Slimmer, General Manager and a self-described Oyster Bar geek, GCOBB joins franchises in Newark, New Jersey (at the airport) and in Japan, where it is wildly popular.

Slimmer welcomed my daughter and me warmly to the restaurant and we were seated at the white Sarrinen tables and chairs in the bar/restaurant room, which is very attractive with black walls and beautiful lighting. He explained that the big room on the south side of the restaurant is only open on weekends and for special events, including a recent baptism/circumcision. Later he showed us the marvelous chandeliers that are from the original Grand Central Oyster Bar.

The food was delicious, sizes ample. For appetizers my daughter had the crab cakes and I had the steamed clams, which reminded me of being on Block Island. The broth was delicious as were the clams.

For my main entree, I ordered the delicious Pan Seared Extra Large Diver Sea Scallops with Oregano and Buerre Blanc with Sweet Peas and Parmiggiano Reggiano Risotto, which is one of Chef Jamal Bland’s specialities. It’s a mouthful but a very delicious and savory dish. The scallops were large and fresh and went well with the  tastefully seasoned risotto.

My daughter ordered a medium sized lobster, which she adored.

I had a glass of Chardonnay. I believe it was the J Lohr “Riverstone” 2012 from California. Our server was delightful. A twin from the great state of Florida, he was friendly and very attentive.

I observed what people were eating at other tables and concluded that GCOBB is a perfect place to order a huge shell fish platter to share with friends—a perfect dish for a celebratory meal. It’s even a place where you can go on a casual date and order lobster roll or an entree of jumbo lump  crab cakes. I just might do that next time.

And yes, there will be a next time.

GCOBB is the perfect summer restaurant. It’ll make you feel like you’re on vacation for a couple of delicious hours. Cape Cod, Block Island, Grand Central Station…

All aboard!

Full disclosure: We were treated to our meal by the restaurant. 



Lucinda Williams Kills It at Celebrate Brooklyn

June 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

Cherish the experience, folks. Last night at Celebrate Brookyn, we caught more than a wiff of greatness. The sky was dripping tears (someone said it felt like spit) when Lucinda Williams thanked the audience for braving the forecasted rain. But it never turned into a full fledged sqaull. Instead, we got  genius.

For me, it was like seeing Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin or Nina Simone in the flesh. This is what a living legend looks like. And alive it was: ninety minutes with one of America’s greatest songwriters (it’s poetry, really) with a voice like fermented syrup mixed with heartache, disappointment, desire, and a hypervigilent mind.

Cherish the experience, folks.

I saw her in 1998 at Irving Plaza. It was a late show that started an hour late. I had to stand at that famously seatless club. She’d just released her masterpiece Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, an album that took six  years to make and she seemed a testy woman. A famous perfectionist, at one point during the show, she insisted on starting a song over again. She seemed angry with herself and tormented by a quest for transcendence.

That was then, this is now. She’s sixty-one with a plume of grey hair wearing tight jeans, a partially buttoned button-down shirt with a long-hanging gold cross. She’s bold, confident, poetic and badass. Her virtuosic four-man band perfectly  infused her songs with a rootsy authenticity.

The evening never felt nostalgic like a greatest hits roll-out. Never. A late-bloomer, Lucinda is a living, breathing artist who just put out one of her best albums, Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, written after the death of her beloved father, the poet Miller Williams.

The set touched on songs from a few of her albums but not all of them. She’s got a discography that would make the best drool and songs that are true classics of rock poetry.  Older and wiser, she keeps the perfectionism at bay—but make no mistake she strives for excellence while embracing a ragged spontaneity. She’s feisty and outgoing when she speaks up for a better world during the song “Foolishness” giving a shout-out to Bernie Sanders, thanking Obama for the Affordable Care Act, and sending condolences to the families of the victims of the Charleston hate crime “because that’s what it was,” she said.

For me, it’s her attention to language and unerring sense of line that is so thrilling. She writes poetic stuff but it doesn’t come across as precious or pretentious. I particularly enjoy her use of place names: for for me it’s southern geography in action. Here from “Lake Charles”:

He had a reason to get back to Lake Charles
He used to talk about it
He’d just go on and on
He always said Louisiana
Was where he felt at home
He was born in Nacogdoches
That’s in East Texas
Not far from the border
But he liked to tell everybody
He was from Lake Charles
Did an angel whisper in your ear
And hold you close and take away your fear

She also writes beautifully about sexual longing and desire. Here from “Essence”:

Baby, sweet baby, bring me your gift 
What surprise you gonna hit me with 
I am waiting here for more 
I am waiting by your door 
I am waiting on your back steps 
I am waiting in my car 
I am waiting at this bar 
I am waiting for your essence

Her songs can be like daggers. Beware of spurning Lucinda. “One of the great kiss off songs,” said the man sitting next to me at the show of this song:

You talk about the junk you did,
Like you talk about climbing trees.
You look like a little kid,
With bruises on your knees.

You will never cop,
To the damage that’s been done.
You will never stop,
Cos it’s too much fun.

Now you want somebody to be your buttercup,

Good luck finding your buttercup

She opened with two songs I didn’t know and her voice sounded off: low octave and slightly off key. We noticed she was drinking from a cup of tea and figured she had a cold or had ravaged her voice from a year of straight touring. But by song number three, “Lake Charles,” she was in excellent form. “Drunken Angel” followed and from then on it clear we were in good hands with a performer expert at pacing her set lists.

Surprises? She did fewer ballads than I expected. I would have been up for a night of dark and delirious songs about suicide, sexual longing and people who died too young. Instead, we got an adventurous roster of roots rock, funk, blues, and raucous country. As her father wrote: “The world still doesn’t quite know what table Lucinda’s work belongs on. She doesn’t fit neatly into any of the established categories. She’s still a genre to herself, and always will be.”

Surprises? She did a slew of inspired covers, including Springsteen’s “The Rising,” The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and Neil Young’s “Keep on Rocking in the Free World” (Take that Donald Trump).

At moments during the show I thought of Patti Smith. The two remind me of each other in their dedication to language, authentic feeling and a kind of punk audaciousness. At the end of the evening, Lucinda shouted out: “Power to the people!” and then quickly amended it to “Or as Patti Smith would say, People Have the Power.”

Cherish the experience, folks. Last night at Celebrate Brooklyn, we were delivered a deluge of greatness. And it didn’t even rain.

June 15: Spirits Made Exclusively in New York

June 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

Slow Food NYC and The McCarren Hotel present the fourth annual SPIRITS OF NEW YORK event featuring spirits made in New York, primarily with principle ingredients grown and produced in New York, or, if not, fair- or direct-traded.

Here’s a great opportunity to support a great cause (Slow Food NYC Urban Harvest) and to sample selected regional producers’ beverages served up neat or in imaginative cocktails.

The not-for profit Slow Food NYC Urban Harvest program is a good food education for NYC kids at 16 schools, in the Bronx and East Harlem, on the Lower East Side and in Brooklyn, and at a summer educational urban farm in Brownsville.

More than 1,000 Urban Harvest kids each year learn about the importance of good, clean, and fair food to their health, the health of their families and communities, and the health of the planet.

Participating distillers include: Astoria Distilling, Barrow’s Intense Liqueuer, Black Button Distilling, Black Dirt Distillery, Breuckelen Distilling, Caco Prieto, Harvest Spirits Farm Distilling, Jack from Brooklyn, Nahmias et Fils, Port Morris Distillery, Van Brunt Stillhouse

When: 7-9 pm on June 15, 2015

Where: McCarren Hotel Rooftop Lounge “Sheltering Sky” – 160 North 12th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, 11249

Tickets: Tickets available at http://sony15.brownpapertickets.com
General Admission – $40 / Slow Food Member – $30

Edgy Moms Manifesto 2015

May 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

Edgy Moms 2015 was awesome. Here is the Edgy Moms Manifesto I read at the beginning of the event every year.

In 2006  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

Her kids have seen her fight with their dad and yell at her mother and curse her sister on the phone.

They’ve watched her cry

She’s been know to throw away her children’s old toys and art supplies when they’re not around

And when they ask, she pretends not to know where they are.

But she can’t let go of their artwork even that sharp pointy wood sculpture her son made in pre-school back in 1993.

She loves when they sleep over at a friend’s house

Because the apartment is so quiet, so serene and so  terribly lonely.

She looks forward to her late afternoon glass of wine

And lets her kids miss school when she feels like sleeping in.

For years she didn’t own a First Aid Kit or keep children’s Motrin in her bag.

Sometimes she takes a bath when she should be making dinner

Or reads Ann Karenina when she’s supposed to be helping with homework.

She watches shows like Gossip Girl and discusses Blair, Serena, Chuck and Dan with her teenage daughter

Even if that’s not appropriates.

She doesn’t always know what is appropriate.
Sometimes she feels like the most boring person on earth.
Like someone’s mother and that’s all.

But who could ask for anything more on a good day?

She tries not to tell “my kids are so amazing” stories. Even if they are.

Or say to new moms: “Enjoy it, they’re gonna grow up fast.”  Even if it’s true.

She hates to sound like an old fart, an elderstates-mom or a know-it-all. Even if she is.

Or say:  “Do you mind if I brag?”

Even though there is SO much to brag about

Do you mind if I brag?

She’s made a lot of mistakes, some she would never ever admit to anyone.

She’s afraid she’s ruined her kids somehow. 
That everything is her fault

If only she’d followed those expert books

Or even read them.

And didn’t let her kids get away with murder.

She hates to watch them puke, or be in pain, or feel sad when they’ve had their feelings hurt.

She wants to kill anyone who hurts her child.

Sometimes she even wants to kill her child.

But just for a teeny tiny fleeting second

On a good day.

She tries to make eye contact when they haave a very long story to tell (even when there’s so much else she needs and wants to do).

And now that they’re in their teens and twenties she practically GROVELS for their attention, for those long stories she used to tire of.

She  loves her kids with a passion that makes her ache, moan, yell and scream, and feel all  gooey inside

Do you mind if I brag?

Oh Patron Saintesses of Edgy Moms: Lucille Ball, Erma Bombeck, Sylvia Plath, Alice Waters, Elastagirl, Lisa Belkin, Smartmom, Eartha Kitt, Morticia Addams, Toni Morrison, Lenore Skenazy, Tina Fey, Shirley MaClaine (in Terms of Endearment), Maya Angelou, Ayalet Waldman, Nina Simone, Cher (in Mask), Cher in real life, Josephine Baker, Susan Sarandon, Liv Ullman, Marge Simpson, Claire Dunphy, Gloria Pritchett and Cameron Tucker in Modern Family and Betty Draper on Madmen and so many more.

Bless this Edgy Mother’s Day and bless tonight’s readers and writers: Sophia Romero, Lisa Gornick, Julia Fierro, Sean Grover, Jennifer Michael Hecht and Stephanie Thompson: writers who embrace motherhood without sanctimony, without sugarcoating.

Edgy moms all: they are gonna rock you and shock you and make you laugh and make you cry and make you  look at motherhood in a whole mother way.

May 12: Edgy Moms 2015

April 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

Brooklyn Reading Works presents: EDGY MOMS 2015 provocative writing about mothers and motherhood. Curated and hosted by Louise Crawford and Sophia Romero

Tuesday, May 12 at 8PM
at The Old Stone House, 336 Third Street in Park Slope between Fourth and Fifth Avenues.(718) 768-3195
Directions: F train to Fourth Avenue, R train to Union Street
A $10 suggested donation includes wine and refreshments

This Year’s Edgy Moms and Dad:

–Julia Fierro (Cutting Teeth)

–Lisa Gornick (Louisa Meets Bear, Tinderbox),

–Stephanie Thompson (Fearless Parenting)

–Sophia Romero (The Shiksa from Manila, Always Hiding)

–Sean Grover (When Kids Call the Shots)

–Jennifer Michael Hecht (Stay, The Happiness Myth, Doubt)

–Special reading of the Edgy Moms Manifesto by Louise Crawford

Academy of American Poets: Steinem, Winger, Hunter and More Read Favorite Poems

April 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

Last night I attended Poetry and the Creative Mind, an event at Alice Tully Hall, an annual fundraiser for Academy of American Posts. What a special night it was.

My friend Ruda Dauphin was involved and she graciously  invited me to attend this festive gala meant to emphasize “poetry’s important place in our culture, and its impact on the lives of readers.” Her title at the Academy is Artistic Coordinator and she also curates events for Irish Arts Center.

Chip Kidd, considered one of the greatest book jacket designers, was charming and funny and a perfect master of ceremonies. Jennifer Benka, Executive Director of the Academy spoke briefly about the power of poetry. She mentioned the Academy’s online Poem-a-Day, which  presents original, previously unpublished poems by talented poets throughout the week and classic poems on the weekends and reaches 300,000 poetry lovers daily.

I know that’s the first thing I read in the morning on my iPhone.

The show kicked off with an impressive poem by Ashley Gong, a 16-year old selected as the 2014 National Student Poet by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. The daughter of first generation immigrants from China, she is a student at Newtown High School in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. When she introduced her poem, “Preamble” as “an early poem” the audience laughed. “Well, relatively early,” she added humorously. Here’s an excerpt:

we the members (Hailie, Justin, and I) under this sagging tenement roof
the eaves drooping like disgraced willows on the cusp of giving in.

in order to form a more perfect family picture you know… the one that rests above the mantel its image darkened by soot and wilting from neglect (you know, every time I see that picture, with your hand holding mine, I want to laugh at my naiveté).

From there an illustrious and eclectic group of legendary actors, dancers, artists, musicians, and public figures got up to read their favorite poems.

Holly Hunter, yes Holly Hunter of The Piano and Broadcast News, did a wonderful reading of Mary Oliver’s “If I Wanted  A Boat” her sensuous southern voice thick with intelligence and comprehension. Here’s an excerpt:

What kind of life is it always to plan

and do, to promise and finish, to wish

for the near and the safe? Yes, by the

heavens, if I wanted a boat I would want

a boat I couldn’t steer.

Saying that she’d  rather dance the poems than read them, Judith Jamison, the former artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, did a beautiful reading of Conrad Aiken’s “Dancing Adairs.” 

Nick Cannon, host of MTV’s Nick Cannon Presents Wild ‘N Out and author of a new collection of poems for children, Neon Aliens Ate My Homework, read “Dreams” by Langston Hughes, a poem he said, he learned from his grandmother.

Anita Lo, an acclaimed chef and owner of Annisa, a restaurant in Greenwich Village, read three wonderful poems about food. Best among them was a real tour de force called “Fruit Cocktail in Light Syrup” by Amy Gerstler. Here’s an excerpt:

Fruit cocktail’s
colorlessness, its lack of connection to anything
living, (like tree, seed or leaf) seemed
cautionary, sad. A bowl of soupy, faded, funeral
fruit. No more nourishing than a child’s
finger painting, masquerading as happy
appetizer, fruit cocktail insisted on pretending
everything was ok. Eating it meant you embraced
tastelessness. It meant you were easily fooled.
It meant you’d pretend semblances,
no matter how pathetic, were real, and that
when things got dicey, you’d spurn the truth..

Singer/songwriter Sam Beam of Iron & Wine read poems by William Stafford and sang a beautiful self-penned song.

Debra Winger, the deep voiced and soulful actress, so memorably the star of Terms of Endearment, rocked the house with an indelible reading of “Freak-Out” by Lucia Perillo. Here’s an excerpt:

Mine have occured in empty houses
down whose dark paneling I dragged my fingernails—

Though big-box stores have also played their parts,
as well as entrances to indistinct commercial buildings

cubes of space between glass yellowing like onion skin,
making my freak-out obscure

Artist Julie Mehretun read Allen Ginsberg’s “Five A.M.,” She said that it inspired a group of drawings that represented a new phase in her artistic work. Here’s an excerpt:

The muses drawing breath for you? God?
Nah, don’t believe it, you’ll get entangled in Heaven or Hell –
Guilt power, that makes the heart beat wake all night
flooding mind with space, echoing through future cities, Megalopolis or
Cretan village, Zeus’ birth cave Lassithi Plains – Otsego County
farmhouse, Kansas front porch?
Buddha’s a help, promises ordinary mind no nirvana –
coffee, alcohol, cocaine, mushrooms, marijuana, laughing gas?
Nope, too heavy for this lightness lifts the brain into blue sky
at May dawn when birds start singing on East 12th street –
Where does it come from, where does it go forever?

Then it was Gloria Steinem’s turn to enchant the crowd. Clearly she is a great lover of poetry. She thanked the audience and the Academy for making poetry accessible to so many and went on to read Marge’s Piercy’s “The  low road,” which she called a great piece about “organizing.” Here’s an excerpt:

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.

She then read Alice Walker’s “New Face,” which she said she sends “to all my new lovers.” Here’s the poem in its entirety.

i have learned not to worry about love;
but to honor it’s coming
with all my heart.
To examine the dark mysteries of the blood
with headless heed and swirl,
to know the rush of feelings
swift and flowing
as water.
The source appears to be
some inexhaustible spring
within out twin and triple selves;
The new face i turn up to you
no one else on earth
has ever

Steinem ended with a poem by Robin Morgan, author of Sisterhood is Powerful, called “A Worm of Robins” about aging and death.

Vanessa Williams was also a crowd pleaser with her voluptuous and passionate reading of “‘What Do Wome Want'” by Kim Addonizio and Maya Angelous’ “Phenomenal Woman.”

The great Kris Kristofferson, songwriter, actor, winner of the Golden Globe for his role in A Star is Born—and one mustn’t forget his performance in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore—rounded out the night with a incredible performance of his song (and Janis Joplin’s hit) “Me and Bobbie McGee.” Wow.

The crowd responded, at the end of the 90-minute presentation, with a standing ovation. Sitting behind me was Saeed Jones, literary editor of Buzzfeed and author of an acclaimed 2014 collection called Prelude to Bruise,  a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Somehow that was perfect. The crowd was filled with many poetry luminaries, poetry lovers, and those who support the Academy’s mission to promote and appreciate contemporary American poetry.



Toni: For Those Who Like Their Loves Songs Edgy and Dark

April 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

There’s something at once ultra contemporary and classic about Toni, who is fast becoming a regular on New York City’s alt-cabaret circuit. I was introduced to her work through cabaret singer Karen Kohler, who is very much in the know about the best and the brightest lights musically in New York.

Clearly, it’s the haunting, raw quality of her voice, the poetic sensibility of her words, and her magnetic stage presence that astonishes audience. “I feel like her voice reaches me in the deepest places of my soul and pulls me up,” raves actress/singer Valentina.

Working with Michael Kingsley, an award-winning composer and producer, Toni will appeal to those who like their love songs edgy and dark. She is equally at home in a cabaret or a Bushwick club. “My songs are about survival and love as the foundation of all that is important,” she says.

She approaches her work philosophically. “I believe in the truth and the essence of things,” Toni says. “I try to steer clear of the world of created complications, the modern mind dust.”

Indeed, listening to her latest work with Michael Kingsley The Heart is Not Involved one feels clear of “mind dust” as the beauty and depth of the singer and her song infiltrate the air. A sweeping orchestral arrangement anchors the song, which is about deep loneliness. The vocal is wrenching and real.

You can listen (and buy) Toni’s music at CD Baby. 

Friday, Feb 13 at 7PM: Short Pieces for Long Nights at PS Coop

February 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

On Friday, February 13 at 7, come upstairs at the Park Slope Food Coop for an entertaining evening of short pieces by Tomas Rayfiel and Susan O’Neill. The night is free and non-members are always welcome. Refreshments will be served.

Rayfiel will be reading his The Three Penny Review “Table Talk” pieces, super-short essays on varying subjects, mostly literary, akin to The New Yorker’s “Talk of the Town” department. The Three Penny Review recently published a best-of collection of its “Table Talk” department, featuring contributions by Leonard Michaels, Philip Levine, and others.

O’Neill will present her short, mostly funny essays, from “Calling New Delhi for Free.” They loosely deal with the way technology screws with our heads, covering everything from an attempt to get a Starbucks barista to leave the lid off her coffee, to being threatened with eviction from a Russian train, to say nothing of visiting an All-You-Can-Eat restaurant in the Midwest and spending a lot of money to go to Obama’s second inauguration and not see the President.

A discussion with the authors will follow the reading. Did I mention that refreshments will be served? Yes, they will!

2014 Park Slope 100

January 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

The Park Slope 100 is something I started in 2006. It is now a collaboration with Park Slope Stoop. I want to thank Mary Bakja for helping me continue this great tradition, which tells a nice story about our neighborhood. Kind of an archive of what goes on around here. I had fun coming up with a bunch of these. Great to hear about the people, places and things that Park Slope Stoop brought to the list. Hope this inspires people to seek out the new. It certainly inspires me.

In a neighborhood where you can easily find several inspiring new stories every day of the year, it’s hard to choose just a few that represent how Park Slope is such a special place to live.

But annually for the past eight years, Louise Crawford of Only the Blog Knows Brooklynhas managed to do just that with her Park Slope 100, choosing 100 of the most interesting people, places, and things that have made the past year unique.

For the second year in a row, we here at Park Slope Stoop and our sister site South Slope News helped compile the list, and we are proud to be able to share it with our readers and neighbors as well.

If you have any thoughts, corrections, or suggestions for 2015, let us know in the comments, or email us at editor@parkslopestoop.com or Louise at louisecrawford@gmail.com.

Here goes…

Brett and Ashley Affrunti for doing their absolute best for Dottie the dog.

Bishop Ford administrators and current and alumni students for their valiant effort to save the school.

Charles Blow for his consistently intelligent and powerful New York Times op-eds about racial justice and for the publication of his memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones.

Blue Lightning for showing us that kids can rock the house, too!

Local bodega cats, in “their own” words.

Josh Breitzer for the glorious music as cantor of Congregation Beth Elohim.

The Brooklyn Cottage, for creating space for a variety of programs — storytelling evenings, cooking classes, meditation gatherings, writing workshops, art exhibitions, and creative “unleashings.”

Brooklyn for Peace for presenting Noam Chomsky as the special guest at their 30th anniversary gala in November.

The brown bins! Even if not everyone that can is using them…

Mark Caserta from the Park Slope 5th Avenue Business Improvement District, for advocating for and promoting businesses along the commercial strip — and one of the most familiar cyclists we see zipping along 5th regularly!

Patty Cavallo for being such a tireless advocate for children’s cancer research, and for doing a beautiful job honoring her daughter’s memory. Ditto for Ellen Hollander-Sande and her son Caleb.

Neighborhood bar/cafe chalkboards…for giving us a laugh through our eternal winters, dog days of summer, and everything in between.

Those who preserve the memory of Sammy Cohen-Eckstein by maintaining the memorial to him at the 3rd Street entrance to Prospect Park. And to his parents Amy Cohen and Gary Eckstein, who have worked so hard to improve traffic safety and lower the speed limit.

Erin Courtney, the recipient of an Obie award for her play A Map of Virtue, produced by 13P and called “one of the most terrifying plays of the past decade” by Alexis Soloski in The New York Times. She teaches playwriting at Brooklyn College.

Amy Cunningham for The Inspired Funeral, creative ways to approach the inevitable.

Dianna D’Amico, who made well more than 45 pies in 45 days for locals in need at Thanksgiving.

Sensei Alex Davydov and the team at Amerikick Park Slope for treating the kids in their classes like family.

They were filming here basically all summer, but it was still fun to spot Robert De Niroon 7th Avenue.

For those of us without a car but with a hankering for nature, we’re glad David DiCerbo and his Destination Backcountry Adventures are here — super fun escapes with super fun people.

Sue Donoghue, the new head of the Prospect Park Alliance.

Mary Dore and Nancy Kennedy for She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, the first documentary to tell the story of the birth of the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1960s.

The incredible cast members of Dream Street Theatre Company, and those who work with them.

The old-school Brooklyn t-shirts made by Rob Feingold that spill out of the Mailboxes store on 5th Avenue.

Karin Feldman for keeping Jewish heritage alive at Oranim Jewish Early Childhood Program.

Julia Fierro for founding Sackett Street Writers and for telling it like it is in Cutting Teeth, an acclaimed novel about contemporary Brooklyn parenthood.

Michele Filgate for all the reading, reviewing, and writing, and her time behind the counter at Community Bookstore.

Isaac Fitzgerald, for editing the funny, touching, and beautiful book Pen & Ink, and for giving excellent hugs.

Freddy’s Bar — great live performances, a dog fashion show, weird video art over the bar and projected outside, a tank full of frogs, excellent tater tots and conversations. We’ll say it: We’re glad you got displaced by Barclays because we couldn’t imagine 5th Avenue without you now.

Ellen Freudenheim for knowing and writing all about Park Slope for About.com.

Everyone trying to allow dogs back at The Gate — don’t give up!

Cathy Gigante Brown for publishing her novel The El, a story of joy, loss, desire, and food in depression-era Brooklyn.

Deb Goldstein for making tasty gluten-free options more accessible around the neighborhood.

The Gowanus AllianceCouncilmember Brad Lander, and all the community members who rallied to save and restore the letters from the Kentile Floor sign.

Melinda Greenberg Morris for her well-named shop, Lion in the Sun, filled with perfectly curated cards and things.

Jeanne Heifetz for her intriguing works on paper: Surface Tension, Working the Line, and Geometry of Hope. She is also a great connector of artists and friends.

Jessica Hernandez and Munisa Akhmedova, both 8th graders at New Voices Middle School, for helping locally while thinking glabally by taking a lead on making their school more environmentally concious.

Michael Joyce, for starting up a great (and free) weekly comedy show with friends at Bar Reis.

Blue Breath, an exquisite album by born and bred Park Sloper Oliver Kalb (aka Bellows) selected by All Songs Considered as one of the Top 10 Albums of 2014.

Kale Chips graffiti for showing us that even the Slope graffiti is gentrified now.

Marc Katz for becoming assistant rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim, a role he was meant to fill.

Steve Keene painting live in front of the Central Library!

Nathan Kensinger for continuing to artistically document the abandoned and industrial edges of the city, including Far Rockaway and Staten Island, NYC after Sandy, and our very own Batcave. Oh, and he runs the Brooklyn Film Festival. More props.

Kolot Chayeinu for marching through the streets of Park Slope to show solidarity for workers from Vegas Auto Spa, who filed a lawsuit against their employer for wage theft.

Letter of Marque for bringing free theatre (with a hint of pirate flair) to area bars.

Judith Lief and Gilly Youner, the new “dream team” co-presidents of the Park Slope Civic Council.

Goodbye to Lisa Polansky, 40 years selling clothing, shoes and whatnot to Park Slopers. How’d did you fit it all into that shop? And never a sign. Cool.

Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, for writing that Oscar-winning Frozen song that every kid knows the words to, and every parent probably wishes they could forget the words to.

Kim Maier, for helping to make The Old Stone House what it is today, and for continuing to help it grow and bring us some incredible programming.

Lisanne Mackenzie for Parish, the stylish and comfortable bar we really, really needed for cozy cocktails on 7th Avenue.

Julie Metz, for writing “My Daughter, Her Rat” for the NY Times Opinionator about taking her daughter’s white rat to college.

Paul and Dee-Byrd Molnar for bringing free Shakespeare to the street for another summers.

Morbid Anatomy Museum for exploring the intersection of death and beauty, and that which falls through the cracks.

They’re pretty much gone now, but the faces of MS 51 students and faculty posted to the outside of the school as part of the Inside Out Project were a fabulous addition to 5th Avenue while they lasted.

The bright and happy “What’s Your Brooklyn” mural on 5th at Union, much better than a brown wall.

Neighbors who stepped in to help when a woman was mugged on 12th Street.

T.J. O’Connor may be a bit cranky sometimes, but he’s a terrific local character who makes delicious pizza at Pauline & Sharon’s.

Ian Olasov, for making us think with his new Brooklyn Public Philosophers discussion series at the Central Library.

Christmas Eve at Old First Reformed Church for bringing together spectacular classical and bluegrass musicians and even a Scottish harpist for a beautiful night of story and song.

David Oppenheim, for taking wonderful photos of the neighborhood now, and in the past.

Being transported to Grover’s Corners during Our Town at Green-Wood Cemetery.

Cerulean Ozarow, the 11-year-old Jeopardy champion!

Penelope the pregnant Mexican Red Rump tarantula for reminding us that life could be worse.

Dean Perry for recognizing that, although Grand Prospect Hall is the least rock and roll place in South Slope, they will make your dreams come drue.

Goodbye to Joyce Pisarello and Danielle Mazzeo, the two lovely moons who brought us 4th Avenue’s Two Moon Art House & Cafe. Thanks for all the culture, the fun, the sense of community, and the delicious shortbread.

The Pooper Snooper.

Rest in peace Alex Pozzan, owner of the now-closed Parco cafe on 7th Avenue. And a big thank you to the family who adopted his dog, Luca.

Tom Prendergast for all of his amazing neighborhood photos.

The PS/MS 282 rugby teams, for making the neighborhood proud as 2014 NYC Rugby Cup Champions, and their chess team for continuing to make us proud at state andnational competitions!

PS 295 Farmers MarketPark Slope Farmers MarketGrand Army Plaza Greenmarket, and Bartel-Pritchard Greenmarket for keeping us stocked with farm-fresh goodies.

All the PS 321 and PS 107 Mighty Milers (and their coaches) for their impressive dedication to a sport — keep running, kids!

PTA parents for working so hard for our neighborhood schools!

The R train going through the tunnel again, phew.

Grace Rauh for reporting smart and fair news on NY1.

To Royal Palms Shuffleboard ClubAmple Hills Creamery, and Threes Brewing for helping to turn Gowanus into an area we hang out in more and more and more.

Suzanna Schumacher for telling the stories of how homeless pets find their owners, and what their lives are like now, in The Sidekick Series.

Pastor Emily Scott, who is trying to make mass a more communal experience by combining cooking with the religious ceremony at St. Lydia’s Church.

Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan, who bring passion and humor to animal advocacy through their website and Brooklyn Independent Media show Our Hen House.

Katherine Slingluff, the local runner who became the millionth person to ever finish the New York City Marathon.

Patrick Smith for his poetry blog Not in the News Today, and for organizing his yearly poetry extravaganza at The Old Stone House.

Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven, a best-selling novel and finalist for the National Book Award, about a troupe of Shakespearean actors roving through a dystopic post-pandemic world.

Darcey Steinke for her wonderful novel Sister Golden Hair from Tin House, about growing up in the 1970s, full of amazing powers of observation and a deep desire for the sacred.

Eleven-year-old Laura Sternbach for raising money for our local library with a lemonade stand!

Tea LoungeLeaf & BeanBoing Boing, wow…RIP.

All of the teenaged members of Unlocking the Truth for rocking so hard, but in particular Malcolm Brickhouse, 13, who goes to PS/MS 282, and bassist Alec Atkins, 13, who goes to MS 88.

Alex Uys, the 15-year-old self-described “cub reporter” behind The Park Slope Dispatch — we hope he gets back to local crime reporting again soon, because he’s damn good at it.

End of an era: We lost our last video store when Video Gallery closed. Best of luck to Kathy on her new endeavors.

Creative wifi names!

Keith Williams, for writing thoughtful and compelling pieces on his own site and for other outlets, and for helping to create a Jeopardy villain.

Goodbye Two Moon: We Will Miss You

November 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

With a name like Two Moon Cafe and Art House, it was easy to think of cafe owners Joyce Pisarello and Danielle Mazzeo as two beautiful moons illuminating a lonely stretch of Fourth Avenue to create a cafe and arts space that would inspire community and connection.

To say that they suceeded would be a vast understatement. Their cafe, which just closed after three years in business served coffee, wine, soups, salads, sandwiches and baked goods. It was busy from early morning to late at night with activities as diverse as children’s music classes, Peace Corps meet-ups, life drawing sessions, open-mics for comedians, indie performers, folk singers, poets, writers, and wall space for artists of all stripes. And in recent times, they have become a bakery for their delicious Two Moon Artisanal Shortbreads in various flavors that include coconut and cardamon and, my favorite, rosemary and sea salt.

It was clear the first time I met them that they had just the right amount of humor and energy to sustain this adventure. Sure, the location was dicey but it had potential as developers were madly building co-ops, condos and rental high rises on Fourth Avenue and a Whole Foods was a-coming just a block away. Still, there was not much in the way of pedestrian traffic and another cafe had already occupied that spot and bailed out.

As impossibly young as they were (were they even out of their twenties yet?) Joyce and Danielle had already accomplished quite a bit in their lives and I knew they were up for the wild challenge. There were obstacles a plenty but with humor and resilience they dug in and made something very special in that space.

The two moons met while working in New York City politics  “where they learned they didn’t like shaping public policy as much as shaping dough.”

Before Two Moon, Joyce served as a Peace Corps volunteer and studied international affairs at Columbia University Danielle earned a degree in Anthropology and Religious Studies at Brown University. She also taught 3rd grade, working for Planned Parenthood, Women’s World Banking, the SPCA, and a progressive think tank.

After much soul searching and brainstorming the two decided that hey wanted to open a cafe and provide a space for the arts on the funky west side of Park Slope.

Meeting with them just weeks after opening Two Moon, Daniel and Joyce were all ears about the ins and outs of Park Slope. I gave them a quick Park Slope 101 about the people, places and things that make this neighborhood tick. It was this curiosity and enthusiasm that made their cafe such a popular destination.

I was wistful and sad when I heard that Two Moon was closing. A plumbing disaster and an unhelpful landlord are just two of the reasons that inspired the two to move on (I don’t really know the story).  I won’t say they called it quits because these two are already plotting their next adventure. Heck, they’ve got an artisanal shortbread business to run and who knows what else they’ve got up their collective sleeves.

I want to wish the very best to Joyce and Danielle. Thank you for being our two moons and for illuminating the night and day on a now enlivened stretch of Fourth Avenue (thanks to you). I look forward to whatever lies ahead.  



Nov 17: First Bite, One Page Only

November 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

This is a new event for me. It was started by one of my literary heroes, Lauren Cerand, who had the idea to do a monthly event that would bring together the authors of the seasons most anticipated and freshest new books.

In late August, Lauren presented Bridgett M. Davis, Atticus Lish, Emily St. John Mandel, Saeed Jones, Ronna Wineberg and Patrick Hoffman. In October poet Saeed Jones presented Timothy Liu, Anne Helen Peterson, Isaac Fitzgerald and Kevin Fortuna. Now it’s my turn.

Curated by Louise Crawford
84 East Fourth Street at Second Avenue

Come hear the first page of a few of fall and winter’s freshest and most-anticipated new books. There will be delicious food prepared by Contrada and you can kick back with a cocktail or a glass of wine and enjoy these literary treats.







Doors open at 6. Readings begin at 7. Free appetizers, cash bar and the opportunity to order from a small plates menu. Books will be sold and signed. You’re encouraged to introduce yourself to the writers, find out about their upcoming launch events, and, if you fall in love, buy a book or pre-order the book(s) from your favorite independent bookstore. The event is free. RSVP on Eventbrite: http://bit.ly/1sSIsRg

Wordsprouts: Nonviolent Communication Workshop with Dian Killian

November 12, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 


Wordsprouts, the reading series of the Park Slope Food Coop, is presenting a nonviolent communication workshop with Dian Killian  on Friday November 14 , 7-8:30pm. Please note: you don’t have to be a member of the Food Coop to participate.

Can you imagine a better way to get ready for Thanksgiving, the December holidays and all those family-centric days ahead? A communication workshop with  Dian Killian could be a real game-changer. She is the co-author of ‘Connecting Across Differences: Finding Common Ground with Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime’ and the author of ‘Urban Empathy: True Life Adventures of Compassion on the Streets of NY.’ 

Her credentials are certainly spot-on. Killian is a Certified Trainer with the international Center for Nonviolent Communication. At the Food Coop whe will lead a workshop about about practicing empathy and compassionate communication in every day challenging situations–including the holidays with your family! She will share stories from her book, Urban Empathy, and some practical exercises and tips to help make being heard and connecting with others easier!

See you there. Refreshments will be served. Learn to communicate better.

Nov 7-9: Irish Arts Center PoetryFest

November 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 


Less than a month ago, I was honored to be asked by Irish Arts Center to help spread the word about PoetryFest, a celebration of poetry from both sides of the Atlantic. I said yes, of course, because I am a poetry lover and I’m a bit of a specialist on getting the word out about literary events.

I also recognized more than a few of the luminaries listed on the roster. When I saw that Gerald Stern, perhaps one of the greatest living American Jewish poets was going to be there, I got excited.

I started collecting poetry books in the the seventies because I fell in with a crowd of poets and writers at SUNY Binghamton, now called Binghamton University. Poets like Milton Kessler, John Verson and Heather McHugh were teachers there. Many others like Tess Gallagher visited the school for readings.

In the 1980s, I discovered the Gotham Book Mart then on West 47th Street, the Diamond Exchange block. There was a sign above the door that said: Wise Men Fish Here. My father gave me a $100 gift certificate as a birthday gift and I decided to spend it all on poetry collections. At the recommendation of Flip, one of the greatest booksellers ever, a Gerald Stern book called Lucky Life, published in 1977. On the cover the poet as a young man walks in Pittsburgh with another poet. Years later I learned it was Jack Gilbert.

What a pleasure to find these words at the end of the title poem:

Lucky life is like this. Lucky there is an ocean to come to.
Lucky you can judge yourself in this water.
Lucky you can be purified over and over again.
Lucky there is the same cleanliness for everyone.
Lucky life is like that. Lucky life. Oh lucky life.
Oh lucky lucky life. Lucky life.

Gerald Stern will be reading his favorite poem tonight at the opening night gala of PoetryFest, as will nine of the participating poets, including Robert Pinsky, Peter Fallon, Rita Ann Higgins, Kevin Young, Adam Fitzgerald and many more. Rosie Schaap, who writes the Drink column for the New York Times and is author of Drinking with Men, a popular memoir, will read a favorite poem, as will Lisa Dwan, who “astonished” in recent Beckett plays at BAM, and Joseph Mitchell.

I expect an ecstatic evening of poetrylove. There will be a gala opening party after. I plan to have shot of Irish whisky if it’s offered. PoetryFest goes on all weekend and includes readings, panels and opportunities for casual conversation with some of the greatest poets of our time. He will do a reading with Irish poet Peter Fallon on Sunday, November 9th at 5PM.

Who would want to miss this? For a full schedule of PoetryFest go here. 

Rustic Supper: Catering in Brooklyn

October 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Food and Drink 

Two women in Brooklyn open a catering company and their story must be told. They have both worked in numerous and notable professional kitchens and have decided to pool their talents and their passions to open Rustic Supper.

In the beautiful photos on their website, you can practically taste the food and the pleasure it brings.

One of the two is Molly Baz, the daughter of old friends. On Facebook, I have followed the early path of her career as she has worked in professional kitchens in New York City, including Picholine, Allswell, and Glasserie to expand her palate and truly understand the global plate. Her culinary expertise includes classic French cuisine, to rustic Italian, to American gastropub, making stops in Middle Eastern and Asian kitchens along the way.

Molly’s partner Amanda Elliott has been working as a private chef and caterer since graduating from The Institute of Culinary Education in 2005. Her globe spanning food emphasizes seasonality, creating memorable meals for two or two hundred.

Together? Well, collaboration, adventurous, fresh ingredients, talent and great energy is all. Just look at their web site and dream about events that would be perfect for this dynamic duo.

For example, dinner could begin with cauliflower fritters with cumin and  date molasses, and steak skewers with aleppo, almond aioli, and thyme. This could be followed by chickpea and yogurt soup with dried mint. And for the main course: leg of lamb, warm spices, garlic, cilantro, charred baby eggplant, tahini, pomegranate,  crispy black rice, dried apricot, shallot, mint.

Dessert sounds divine: cardamom donuts flavored with rosewater and pistachio.

To me, it looks like Rustic Supper excels at creating communal dinners that will inspire conviviality and delight. The food, I must say, looks absolutely delicious.


Nov 11 at 8PM: A Veterans Day Reading at The Old Stone House

October 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

Brooklyn Reading Works in partnership with Words After War Presents: Writing War: A Special Veteran’s Day reading with writers of fiction and memoir who served in Iraq and Afghanistan at The Old Stone House/Washington Park. 

This year’s writers are: Mariette Kalinowski, Lisbeth Prifogle ,Nate Bethea, Adrian Bonenberger, Eric Nelson, Jacob Sotak and Nebojsa “Vic” Zlatanovic. LTC Peter Molin will host.

For the fourth year, Brookyn Reading Works is the proud host of this important event. Past readings have included 2014 National Book Award finalist Phil Klay, author of the acclaimed book of short stories Redeployment, Roy Scranton, Matt Gallagher, Jake Sigal, Maurice Decauland host Peter Catapano, editor of Home Fires in The New York Times.

To see video by filmmaker Leslie Topping of past Writing War events CLICK here. 

What: Brooklyn Reading Works in partnership with Words After War Presents:
Writing War: A Special Veteran’s Day reading with writers of fiction and memoir who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When: On Veterans Day, November 11, 2014 at 8PM

Where: The Old Stone House, 336 Third Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215 F train to Fourth Avenue, R Train to Union Street

What else: Suggested donation $10. Refreshments

Words After War is dedicated to building a community of thoughtful, engaged and skilled veteran writers. Through high-quality literary programming, they provide veterans, their families and civilian supporters with the tools they need to tell their stories.

The Old Stone House/Washington Park is on the site of the first, and largest conflict of the American Revolution, A Historic House Trust of New York City site, OSH commemorates the Vechte-Cortelyou House’s unique place in Brooklyn and American history.

Brooklyn Reading Works is a monthly thematic reading series presenting emerging and established authors. Produced by Louise Crawford and now in its tenth year, popular BRW events include Edgy Moms, Writing War, New Plays by Brooklyn Playwrights, Funny Pages, Brooklyn Book Festival Book End.

How to Get Over Your Ex Italian American Style by Rachel Russo

October 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

Remember Love American Style, that television sitcom from a few decades ago? The theme song was sung by The Cowsills. Well, fugetaboutit. This story is about love (or getting over it) Italian American style.

Last Saturday night I drove up to Bay Ridge, dropped my daughter and her friend off at Century 21 on 86th Street, and stopped by The Book Mark Shoppe to hear Rachel Russo read from her new book How to Get Over Your Ex: A Step by Step Guide to Mend a Broken Heart Italian American Style. 

Now, how could I resist such a title?

I walked to the back of the bookstore and found an attractive dark haired woman with extremely long legs and high stiletto heels sitting on a chair in the children’s section surrounded by a huge crowd of friends, family, fans, and local media.

Rachel Russo is, to put it succinctly, a how-to rock star.

For starters, she’s a dating, relationship and image expert with her own boutique coaching business. She’s also a matchmaker with a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and a BA in psychology.  She’s got the goods.

Indeed, Rachel is a strong, empathic, frank, and funny gal. In her talk, she mentioned that she’d had a very rough breakup and that’s what motivated the writing of this book, which provides readers with a solid strategy for getting over your ex as efficiently and wholeheartedly as possible.

Badda Bing, Badda Boom.

Russo has a very direct, self-help approach but she also celebrates Italian-American culture and enjoys talking about her loving parents, Sunday night dinners at home in Bay Ridge, and being stubborn. She writes in the chapter titled: “Make a Case for Stubborness: Have a Head Like a Rock.”

“If you didn’t settle for any old job, you shouldn’t settle for any old relationship. You should be way too proud to go back to your  ex. Ideally, you’d be just as proud as the Italian American bella who’d tell a stunad to “go eff himself” and believe it with every fiber of her being. I know your ex and the breakup may have messed with your self-esteem…and you may not be super-confident. Whatevs. You can “fake it ’til you make it”.

In the book, Russo offers tips on being single and loving it, encountering your ex, action steps to take care of your body, mind and spirit, how to attract a better match, and what to do if a Mama’s Boy crosses your path(“your sex life may resemble that of a teenager”).

As you can imagine the book is a fun read. But it’s also practical and realistic. At the reading, Russo reminded everyone that getting over an ex takes time and a strong belief in the power of faith, family, food and fathers:

Father figures are an incredible source of wisdom. A father many not coddle you the way a mother would. He may not want to hear all of the details of the breakup but he can give you some unbiased advice. Since many men can be less emotional and more objective, they can really help you heal post breakup. You’ve already experienced enough emotion. If you want to see things from a more rational lens, go to your father. Chances are, he will tell it like its is.

In Russo’s opinion, the biggest threat to your emotional availability is an attachment to your ex. That’s why thinking you will never meet someone as special as your ex again is a no-no. “Sorry, your ex isn’t that special,” Russo writes.

I must say, I enjoyed Russo’s no nonsence style and her frank, in-your-face way of expressing herself. She doesn’t mince words in person or in the book. Here’s from the first chapter:

“Full Disclosure: How to Get Over Your Ex, does not provide an overnight miracle cure. Anyone who tell syou that you can get over a relationship faster than a New York minute is a liar or has never been in love.”

That said, Russo give readers a lot to hope for.

“The path to emotional availability starts with a commitment to seeking the truth about who you have been and who you want to be in your love life. You just have to be willing to go a little deeper to find the truth, as there is a deep reason why your relationship didn’t work out. If you look within and around to heal yourself, the answers will be revealed to you.”

Homework Help for Brooklyn Families: Patient and Focused Tutor

October 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

Do you need a  patient, focused educator to help your child with homework, reading, and writing?

Look no further.

My friend, Eleanor Traubman, is an alumna of Bank Street College of Education with 25 years of experience working with children in public and private school settings, as well as in museums (Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Brooklyn Children’s Museum.) A former Assistant Teacher at PS 29, she is a skilled writer with a blog called Creative Times that’s been around for almost a decade and lots of articles published on the web.

She can support your K – 5th grade child in the following ways:

–Stay organized and on-task with homework assignments.

–Establish patterns and routines to boost study savvy.

–Develop increased comfort with and enjoyment of reading and writing.

Eleanor works with families in the Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill neighborhoods. I know Eleanor very well and know how kind, empathic and attuned to young people she is. She also has many years of classroom experience. Eleanor and I worked together on the Brooklyn Blogfest for four years and she is an incredibly hard working, organized and creative person. She is also really fun. I have no doubt  that young people will enjoy working with her. Please don’t hesitate to contact Eleanor if you are interested: etraubman(at)gmail(dot)com

Oct 16: Holiday in Reality: Poetry at The Old Stone House

October 10, 2014 by · Comments Off on Oct 16: Holiday in Reality: Poetry at The Old Stone House
Filed under: arts and culture 


Brooklyn Reading Works presents the 4th annual “Holiday In Reality” Poetry Blast, with an all-star line-up of New York poet-heroes: legendary Edwin Torres, powerful Morgan Parker, brand new mom Julia Guez and Brooklyn bon vivant Pat Smith. Oct. 16, 8 p.m., at Park Slope’s Old Stone House, 336 3rd St. Suggested donation of ten bucks at the door for beer, wine, snacks and the delicious thrill of poetry on the tongue!
“And I taste at the root of the tongue the unreal of what is real.” Wallace Stevens,Holiday in Reality

Illustration by http://www.alice-wellinger.com/Life-courage

Food for Thought: Civic Council’s Annual Eatathon and Scholarship Fundraiser

October 10, 2014 by · Comments Off on Food for Thought: Civic Council’s Annual Eatathon and Scholarship Fundraiser
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life, Food and Drink 

The Park Slope Civic Council’s Food for Thought event is in its third year and, can you believe it, I’ve  never been! My bad. But this year, I won’t miss it because it’s the best one yet. At least that’s what I’m hearing.

If you like:  al di la trattoria, Amorina, Backyard, Benchmark Restaurant, Branded Saloon, Brooklyn Brine, Buttermilk Bakeshop, Du Jour Bakery, Krupa Grocery, Palo Santo, Pickle Shack, Rose Water, Runner and Stone, Scottadito Osteria Toscana, and Stone Park Café.  Wines and spirits will be provided by Barrows Intense Ginger Liqueur, Freddy’s, Jack from Brooklyn – Sorel, P+H Soda, Pull Brewing Company, Red White & Bubbly, Shawn Fine Wine & Spirits, and Slope Cellars, you’re going to LOVE this tasty event, which is also a benefit for the Civic Council’s scholarship fund.

Each year, the Civic Council awards an education scholarship to an outstanding high school senior graduating from each of the Secondary Schools at John Jay High School who exhibits exceptional commitment to community service. Their goal is to establish an endowment for the scholarships from the surplus funds raised by the event in future years.

It all happens on Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. to support the education scholarship program! We’re hoping to make this year’s fundraiser even better than last year’s.

As you can see above, there will be delicious food from local restaurants, drinks, music, mingling and lively conversation, all to support a worthy cause.

WHAT:            3nd Annual Park Slope Civic Council Food for Thought Fundraiser.

WHEN:            Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.

WHERE:            Prospect Park Picnic House (located near the 3rd Street and Prospect Park West entrance to the park)

Julie Markes: Good Bye to Met Food

October 1, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Civics and Urban Life 

Wide Array of Literary Talent and Ideas at Brooklyn Book Festival

September 21, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: arts and culture 

Lots to do today at the Brooklyn Book Festival. Aside from the endlessly fascinating marketplace where established, indie and emerging publishers of all stripes display their wares, there’s an amazing array of authors and thinkers on panels and readings. Below I offer a taste. There’s so much more. Check out the schedule at the Brooklyn Book Festival website

Unbound: Daniel Kehlmann with Zadie Smith, presented by BAM and Greenlight Bookstore.
Borough Hall Courtroom
September 21, 2014

How to Write About a City
Brooklyn Law School Student Lounge
September 21, 2014
With Phillip Lopate (ed. Writing New York: A Literary Anthology), Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts (Harlem Is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America) and Edmund White (Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris). Moderated by Lynne Sharon Schwartz (Leaving Brooklyn).

Losing and Finding Yourself: Comics of Heartbreak and Healing
Brooklyn Historical Society
September 21, 2014
Gabrielle Bell (Truth is Fragmentary), Mana Neyestani (An Iranian Metamorphosis), John Porcellino (Hospital Suite), and Anya Ulinich (Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel). Moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos, ed., Best American Comics. Featuring screen projection.

Jonathan Lethem and Jules Feiffer in Conversation
St. Francis College Auditorium
September 21, 2014

Ties That Bind, or Tear Us Apart
St. Francis McArdle
September 21, 2014
Kyle Minor (Praying Drunk), Darcey Steinke (Sister Golden Hair), Bill Hillman (The Old Neighborhood). Moderated by Beth Bosworth, The Source of Life and Other Stories.

The Hilarity of Death and Deadlines with Roz Chast,
Robert Makoff and Hillary Chute.
St. Francis College Auditorium
September 21, 2014

About Africa
St. Francis McArdle
September 21, 2014
Susan Minot (Thirty Girls), Dinaw Mengestu (All Our Names), and Bridgett Davis (Into the Go-Slow) discuss love stories, growing up, and the search for meaningfulness across the continent of Africa.

Animal Heroes
North Stage
September 21, 2014
Loyal, brave, sharing, protective, loving… from house dogs to military dogs…

So, Can You Judge a Book By Its Cover?
St. Francis College Auditorium
September 21, 2014
Graphic designers and book cover design icons Chip Kidd (GO! A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design, Book One: Work) is joined by Riverhead Press art director Helen Yentus. Moderated by Brian Tate.


Park Slope Art Classes for Children with Bernette Rudolph

September 5, 2014 by · Comments Off on Park Slope Art Classes for Children with Bernette Rudolph
Filed under: arts and culture 

My friend and neighbor Bernette Rudolph has been teaching art classes for children for many years. My niece Sonya took her class when she was younger and learned a great deal about painting, collage and sculpture. It was a really fun and playful experience and I know she enjoyed it a great deal.

Bernette is the real deal: a working artist who has lived in the Slope for many years. She has a masters of fine arts and has been an exhibiting artist, art teacher and art therapist for over forty years.

What can I say, if my kids weren’t so darn old they’d be taking art classes with Bernette. I can’t recommend her highly enough. About her own artistic practice she writes:

I work in my studio with music or silence depending on what I am creating. I close the door in my studio, which leads to my living quarters; I am alone with my work. I have worked this way for over fifty years.

The current inspiration for my work is the people I see on the streets and subways of New York City. My camera never leaves my side. I shoot without a flash or a camera click. I am rarely noticed, people are to busy with their own agenda to be aware of me. Occasionally I will ask someone if I can take their photo, some are flattered others object. I respect the wishes of my subjects.

Bernette will be participating in the Gowanus Open Studios Tour on October 18-19. At that time, feel free to visit her studio at 457 Third Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. That’s also where she teaches.

Here are the details about her art classes: 

Small art classes for children ages five and up.
Classes follow the school calendar.
Classes meet on Tuesdays 3:30 to 4:30.

Class fee is $30 per class paid one month in advance.
When the month has four weeks the fee is $120.
When the month has five weeks the fee is $ 130.
There is a $50 material fee paid once for the term paid the first month.
Basic mediums and skills will be explored thru varied Art materials.

Your child is invited to a trail class for $30.
If the child joins the class the fee will be added on to your first month.
Classes meet in the Art Studio/Gallery of Bernette Rudolph. You can reach her by email her at bernette@earthlink.net

Great Women Wear Stripes

September 3, 2014 by · Comments Off on Great Women Wear Stripes
Filed under: arts and culture 


This is a photo of my mother on the right, age 88, and my Aunt Rhoda, age 92, taken just a few days ago on the roof of Aunt Rhoda’s apartment building in White Plains.

We had a wonderful day eating, talking, sharing news. So wonderful to see both sisters, Brooklyn born and bred, in their striped shirts, enjoying a special day.

Sept 16 at 8PM: Hot and Bothered: Writers on Fire

September 3, 2014 by · Comments Off on Sept 16 at 8PM: Hot and Bothered: Writers on Fire
Filed under: arts and culture 

Brooklyn Reading Works at The Old Stone House presents Hot and Bothered: Writers on Fire,  a Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend event. On September 16 at 8PM, acclaimed authors Lisa Gornick, Beth Bosworth and Marian Fontana come together to explore just what makes fire irresistible to us as writers, readers, and human beings. Gornicks’ Tinderbox speaks to the power of unearthing old secrets, and lighting a match to engulf a family in its own dark past. Marian Fontana’s memoir A Widow’s Walk addresses her marriage to a New York City firefighter. Beth Bosworth, author of The Source of Water and Other Stories, will read an excerpt from , “Sequoia,” about how a fire destroys one home and brings about another.

Each author will read from their work. There will be a panel discussion that touches on fire as subject, metaphor and literary device.

Painting by Wayne Visser


Beth Bosworth’s latest book The Source of Life and Other Stories was the 2012 winner of the Heinz Drue Award. She has a story coming out in Agni in 2014. She has taught at the New School for Social Research, CUNY’S NYC Technical College, and for many years at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, where she is also founding editor of the Saint Ann’s Review. Her publications include a novel, Tunneling, and a collection of short stories, A Burden of Earth. Her stories have appeared in the Kenyon Review, the Seneca Review, Forward, IMAGE, Hanging Loose, Guernica, and elsewhere.

Lisa Gornick is the author of two novels: Tinderbox (Sarah Crichton Books/ Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and Picador) and A Private Sorcery, (Algonquin). Her stories and essays have appeared widely, including in AGNI, Prairie Schooner, and The Sun, and have received many awards, including Distinguished Story by the Best American Short Stories. She holds a B.A. from Princeton, a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Yale, and is a graduate of the writing program at N.Y.U. and the psychoanalytic training program at Columbia. A collection of linked stories, Louisa Meets Bear, will be published June 2015, also with Sarah Crichton Books/ Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Marian Fontana has been a writer and performer for over twenty-five years. Her articles have appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Guardian and more. Her memoir, A Widows Walk was published by Simon and Schuster and was in the Top Ten Great Reads of 2005 by People magazine and the Washington Post’s Book Raves of 2005. She is currently on the board of the New York Writers Coalition, a not-for-profit that offers creative writing classes to some of the most underserved populations.

Happy 10th Anniversary: Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival This Saturday

August 22, 2014 by · Comments Off on Happy 10th Anniversary: Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival This Saturday
Filed under: arts and culture 

This Saturday will be the 10th annual Fort Greene Park Sumer Literary Festival sponsored by the New York Writers Coalition, one of the oldest and most inspiring community writing programs in the United States.

Killer stoop sales, the Brooklyn Flea, and the saucy return of Habana Outpost are just a few Fort Greene staples in summertime. But when it comes to a community tradition in this ever-changing neighborhood that readers and writers from all generations flock to, there’s very little that matches the power of NY Writers Coalition’s Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival.

Young writers from the NYWC summer youth workshops in Fort Greene Park will share their powerful poetry and prose alongside some of the city’s most beloved writers: Five Quarterly co-founder Vanessa Gabb; Lit Fest vets Danny Simmons and Sapphire; BlackGirl Mansionauthor Angel Nafis; and prize-winning poet and children’s author Willie Perdomo. The Master of Ceremonies is music journalist and WFMU deejay Gaylord Fields.

This event is free and open to the public and takes place at Fort Greene Park’s Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument on Saturday, August 23 at 2:00 p.m. (Rain Venue: BRIC Media House Ballroom at 647 Fulton Street). An after party will follow at 4:30 p.m. at Greenlight Bookstore (686 Fulton Street). Come meet the writers – and invite your friends!

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