April 11, 2014

Small Wonder is a Small Wonder

It has been interesting to observe my 22-year-old son Henry since January 20th when he released Wendy, his album of seven songs loosely based on Peter Pan. My son, whose solo musical project goes by the name of Small Wonder, seems to be walking with a spring in his step these days. He has a newfound confidence born of completion and validation. Within hours of Wendy’s release on Band Camp, a digital music site, he was “discovered” by Gold Flake Paint, an influential blogger in England. Without reading it first, he read the following review aloud to us in the living room:

“I don’t really know anything about Small Wonder. There was another full-length back in 2011 but nothing since. “Small Wonder is henry crawford and vice versa.” is all that the album bio tells us and while it’s not much to go on, I don’t need any more than that. All I need to know is laid out across a record that just hit me, instantly. It makes me want to sob. It makes me want to hug everyone I’ve ever loved and apologise to all of those that I’ve let down. It makes me want to crawl in to the one I love now and hold her for longer than I ever have before. I feel connected to it. I feel like I grew up with it; like it knows all of my secrets and fears and hidden memories. I feel like it was made only for me. I feel like maybe it was made by me.

And this is where my new-found problems come in, because I’ve yet to tell you anything about Wendy. You don’t know what it sounds like, which genre it falls in to, which of the seven tracks is the most catchy, where the hidden secrets are to be found – but you know what? I’m ok with that. There are times when I don’t want to pull a record apart in that way, to deconstruct it to its roots. Sometimes I just want it to be there and to exist and hope that when someone reads the way it affects me, as a person rather than a magazine, they’ll take a chance on it anyway.”

In a stunned silence, we took in what we’d just heard. Then my husband spoke in characteristic understatement.

“I think that was a good review,” he said.

After that astonishing rave, there were more reviews of my son’s gorgeous song cycle about the difficulties of growing up. There were reviews from music bloggers in Greece and Italy. A French blogger compared Wendy to the films of Spike Jonze.  Leor Galil in the Chicago Reader wrote: “Small Wonder main man Henry Crawford calls his music “agnostic gospel,” and that tag well fits his band’s new album Wendy; the kitchen-sink indie-rock songs have nothing to do with religion (or gospel music for that matter), but they’ve got an otherworldly spiritual energy that’s got me hooked.” In NME, a British music weekly, the reviewer wrote: “Small Wonder is anything but inconsequential. Henry Crawford’s project is grand and intricate.” Just yesterday Wendy was mentioned in Stereogum: ”Album highlight “Clearly Again” frames those concerns in a fragile yet expansive indie-rock ballad.”

Within a day of its release, the album was picked up by a distributor called Father and Daughter Records. The album is available on iTunes and can be purchased as a tape cassette or LP. Don’t look for a CD, CD’s are, not surprisingly, done for.

Which isn’t to say that I needed a bunch of music bloggers,  reviewers or an influential indie distributor to tell me that my son had created something special.  I’ve listened to the album almost daily since January 20th because I am fascinated by its lyricism, its slow building musical epiphanies, and its searing instrospection. The album is intricately based on the imagery of Peter Pan. In songs with names like Ball Lighning, Clearly Again, Patron Saint of Pretty Faces and Lost at Highway, Small Wonder describes the inner landscape of a young man transitioning from adolescence to young adulthood with a hyper-vigilant sense of awe and apprehension.

I am so proud of my son because he has not only created something complex and beautiful but he finished it, named it and put it out there for the world to hear. That is brave and strong. For someone who writes about his fears of growing up, I can’t imagine a better example of it.

A word about the drawing of Henry on the cover (and on this post). It’s by the extremely talented Susannah Cutler.

 

April 11, 2014

The Soul of the World: An Exhibit of Photography by Tom Martinez

In his dual career as a minister and photographer, Reverend Tom Martinez is drawn to images that reflect New York’s interfaith diversity, its unexpected natural habitats, and the spirit of protest and volunteerism that’s all around. He also documents art on the ever-changing canvas of the City’s streets and walls.

The Soul of the World is an exhibition of his photography at the James Memorial Chapel at Union Theological Seminary, 3041 Broadway at 121st Street, and it will run through May 5, 2014.

Tom is no stranger to readers of Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn. Since 2007, I have been proud to publish his work on this blog. His photographs of Brooklyn after Hurricane Sandy, are especially powerful, as are his shots of Occupy Wall Street, Coney Island, Red Hook, his Kensington neighborhood and the Children of Abraham March, an annual  interfaith walk for peace in Brooklyn.

At the core of his work is a deep sense of humanity and an appreciation for those who seek to fix what is broken in the world. The photograph above was taken in the weeks after Sandy, when Occupy Sandy was running a relief center in  The Church of St. Matthew, St. Luke’s, an Episcopal church in Bed Stuy. About those weeks after Sandy, Martinez writes,

“Shooting its aftermath reminded me of being in New Orleans after Katrina. It was also a reminder of the powerful resilience of the human spirit, evidenced in the way the Occupy Wall Street movement morphed into Occupy Sandy.  Having successfully survived “off the grid” during the Wall Street protest—bringing in food and generating energy—after the hurricane, Occupy activists seamlessly re-directed the flow of resources outward to those most in need, setting up distribution hubs wherever they could.”

Martinez’s photographs of nature, particularly his virtuosic shots of hawks flying over Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park, convey an innate comfort and connection to the natural world and a true sense of wonder.

In 2003 Martinez became minister of All Souls Bethlehem Church in Brooklyn’s Kensington neighborhood, an unusual house church with a diverse congregation. Tom graduated from Union Theological Seminary in 2000 and subsequently completed a three-year stint at Christ Church in Summit, NJ. With the Christian Peacemaker Teams, he spent two weeks in Baghdad in an effort to promote a human connection with the Iraqi people and alternatives to war. He is the author of the book, Confessions of a Seminarian: Searching for Soul in the Shadow of Empire.  He is the co-founder of Switch to Manual, which offers camera workshops and photo walks. His photographs have been published in the Staten Island Advance, the Brooklyn Paper, Tikkun, and, of course on this blog.

The Soul of the World: Photographs by Rev. Tom Martinez

Union Theological Seminary

3041 Broadway at 121st Street

NY NY 10027

The show will be up through May 5th.

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December 31, 2013

The 2013 Park Slope 100

Here it is: The 2013 Park Slope 100, the  seventh annual alphabetical list of 100 people, places and things that make Park Slope a special place to live. 100 Stories, 100 ways of looking at the world.

This year we had help from OTBKB readers, Facebook friends, and our colleagues at Park Slope Stoop, who will be running this list simultaneously. Much gratitude to Liena Zegare and Mary Bakija. 

For me, it’s about the people around here who contribute in some way large or small or even teeny tiny to the greater good. Who made you feel good this year? Who did something kind, something smart, something creative, something interesting?

Something inspiring?

A few things on this list divert from that but for the most part that’s what it’s about.

Please send your comments, your typo and bad link discoveries, your fact checks and your comments to louisecrawford@gmail.com.

Wow, seven years of the Park Slope 100. If you combine them, that’s 700 people, places and things to know about, think about, be inspired by.

Here goes…

His Honor the Mayor of NYC Bill De Blasio: Park Slope’s mayor. Now and forever.

 Lawrence Abdullah, the good Samaritan who helped police catch an alleged groper; as Council Member Brad Laner said, “he’s a “model citizen hleping to ensure the safety of his neighbors here in Park Slope.

Swati Argade for bringing ethical, yet still fashionable, clothing, jewelry, and more to her new shop, Bhoomki.

Jennifer Jones Austin, named co-chair of Bill de Blasio’s transition team, she has an impressive resume filled with public service, but that’s not all. A few years back, she had leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. It was difficult to find a donor but she did it. Her energy amazes…

Barclays Center. Love it or hate it: it’s here with Jay Z, Beyonce, Streisand, Bieber, Rihanna, Miley, McCartney, Billy Joel, Bruno Mars, Cold Play, Depeche Mode, Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews, Leonard Cohen, Alicia Keys, and the Video Music Awards. Oh yeah, and the Nets!

The BEAT Festival with its immersive art all over Brooklyn, including Dispatches from Sandy, reflections from relief volunteers at the front lines of Hurricane Sandy.

The Benches that have appeared throughout Park Slope, courtesy of the Department of Transportation as requested by diligent members of the Park Slope Civic Council.

Bklynr, Props to Raphael Pope-Sussman and Thomas Rhiel who produce journalism about all of Brooklyn. Twice a month, BKLYNR publishes stories that cover the political, economic, and cultural life of the borough. Each issue contains three pieces, which is designed to look beautiful on your computer, tablet, or phone. Subscribe.

Sarah Brasky, who runs Foster Dogs NYC — she lives in the neighborhood, and has not just placed a lot of dogs not just with foster families (many in the Slope), but has found lots of them forever homes. Plus she organized a great scavenger hunt over the summer!

Bogata Latin Bistro for the food, the service and the atmosphere. I always feel welcome, well taken care of and well-fed there. Gracias.

Brave New World Repertory because of their site-specific performance of “Street Scene,” a 1929 Elmer Rice play, using real residential buildings as an interactive set on a Park Slope Street.

Breaking Bad at the Gate. Again. Another summer with Walt, Jesse and the BB gang plus great bartenders, and a hushed crowd at Fifth Avenue’s best dive bar.

Brownstone Dreams, Kevin McPartland’s gripping novel about growing up on the mean streets of Park Slope in the early 1960s. It took five years to write, ten years to publish and a lifetime to live it.

Ann Cantrell of Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store, for bringing a sense of fun for both kids and grown-ups to 5th Avenue. We could stop in every day for a piece of candy, alone.

Dr. Cao at South Slope Pediatrics for creating such a warm and loving practice. They totally succeed in making their patients feel more like extended family members than names on a chart.

Ken Carlton for his self-published novel Food for Marriage. The Big Chill meets delicious food and juicy secrets and lies.

John Ciferni longtime owner of Tarzian Hardware, where we go when we need anything.

Citibike because biking is an awesome way to get around this city.

Sammy Cohen-Epstein: “Sammy was a remarkable kid. We heard heart-wrenching, beautiful stories at the funeral, and from kids and adults all around the neighborhood, about his young wisdom (some in his class called him “the philosopher”), his compassion and his smile, his skills as a soccer and trumpet player, and the rock-solid support he gave as a sibling and friend. His bar mitzvah was going to be November 16th,” wrote City Councilman Brad Lander in remembrance of this son of Park Slope who died. RIP.

Jill Cornell because she used her corporate and theater background, street smarts and network of friends to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.”

Dante!

The Dolphin that found its way into the Gowanus. The borough watched as this seven foot long mammal turned up in the filthy headwaters of the Superfund canal, more than a mile from the harbor, and struggled for a day before he died. RIP.

Chiara De Blasio because she bravely shared her story about depression and substance abuse. It can’t be easy to be in the spotlight. Bravo.

EidolonPark Slope’s original indie design boutique since 1999 is closing. A fifth Avenue treasure for 14 years, Eidolon  was a cooperative venture with Andrea’s clothing designs, Yukie’s handbags, Mimi’s jewelry and Amara Felice’s own variety of clothing and accessories plus all of the designers who have consigned their goods to the store. Big closing sale in January.

Lucy Farrow, the South Slope 3-year-old who is showing cystic fibrosis who’s boss.

Marc Russ Federman, author of the marvelously entertaining and appetite inducing book “Russ and Daughters”.

The 5th Brooklyn Scouts at the Brooklyn Pride Parade. The group is committed to providing an appropriate alternative and community-oriented Scouting experience. They welcome everyone and provide a positive learning environment within the context of democratic participation, social justice, mutual respect and cooperation. Photo by  Tom Martinez. 

Forever Brooklyn, a short film by Francesco Paciocco 

Martha Foley, archivist at Congregation Beth Elohim, who is uncovering and preserving CBE’s rich history and the history of the people and families, many of them Park Slope residents, who have been part of that vital community

Fourth Avenue. Block by block. Rising to it’s potential.

Friends of Park Slope Library, a wonderful community of neighbors created to support the Ninth Street and Sixth Avenue branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

Gail Ghezzi for her blog and exhibition at Jalopy  Birth, Death, Repeat, an art/writing project featuring the shadow boxes of the Brooklyn designer Gail Ghezzi. Ghezzi’s shadow boxes are meditations on mortality that use antique artifacts and found objects she acquires at antique fairs, online and on her sidewalk. Each box imagines the final moments of a fictional character, and then surrounds that character with the detritus of a life.

Good Byes: Mindy Goldstein and Charlie Libin, longtime Park Slopers who are leaving for greener pastures in Greenpoint; Sweet Melissa decided to call it a day. And what a loss to  someone who loves fine baking and Saturday morning coffees with her sister (who could that be?). Two Boots: Where do we begin?

Katie Goodman for Sh*t Park Slope Parents Say (and continuing to be funny after that).

Martha and Gary Goff for their work on climate issues and with Brooklyn for Peace.

The Greed and Avarice that exists among commercial building owners and landlords on 7th Ave…leaving storefronts vacant for years at a time. Shame.

Chris Hennessy has Multiple Sclerosis but that doesn’t stop him from being a serious athlete and fundraiser for the disease.

Jennifer Kahrs, who co-founded Project Amelia to help friend and neighbor Ameilia Coffaro after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Reverend Cheri Kroon for her work organizing fast food workers and her ministry at Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church.

Caroline Hitshew and Tali Biale, of the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket and Barclays Center Greenmarket, respectively, for organizing great food events and finding creative ways to get us to taste new fruits and veggies every week.

Pam Katz because as co-screenwriter of Hannah Arendt (directed by Margarethe Von Trotta), she was nominated for a Lola, the German Academy Award. The film was selected as one of the top ten movies of 2013 by AO Scott in the New York Times: “Those who complain that movies can’t think don’t really know how to think about movies. This one, focusing on the controversy surrounding its subject’s 1963 book “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” brilliantly dramatizes the imperative at the center of her life as a writer and philosopher, which was to compel the world to yield to the force of the mind.” 

Madelyn Kent and Peggy Stafford for their Sense Writing Workshops that enables those who wish to write to let go of their inhibitions and writer’s block and write.

The LeFrak Center at Lakeside, Prospect Park’s new skating center!

Dr. Larissa Litinova, compassionate, kind MD with a holistic approach.

The Mayoral Forums in Park Slope. Lively.

The Maurice Sendak School (PS 118) at 4th Ave and 8th Street). Love the name. Love the school.

Chirlane McCraine, because she will always be OUR first lady. 

Kimberly McCreight for her excellent debut novel Reconstructing Amelia. 

Steve McGill for documenting the city in photographs — especially the birds in Prospect Park.

Kevin McPartland, author of Brownstone Dreams, a gripping coming of age tale about growing up on the mean and violent streets of Park Slope in the 1960s. It took 5 years to write, ten years to publish and a lifetime to live.

Josh Miele, as reported by the New York Times. forty years after an acid attack by a neighbor in Park Slope, he is productive, forgiving and inspiring.

Miss America is a Park Sloper. Mallory Hytes: You go girl!

Naidre’s for creating the best breakfast taco known to man.

Nemo Hits Brooklyn: Snowy Backyards in Park Slope (Photo by Sophia Romero).

New BBQ restaurants (Dinosaur, Morgans. YUM.)

Connie Nogren, long time incredible teacher at P.S. 321, volunteer at P.S. 10 and peace activist. Pictured above right. Photo supplied by Renee Dinnerstein (pictured above left).

Major Owens (RIP) Member of US House of Representatives from 1983-2007, representing Park Slope

 The continued expansion of the Park Slope Historic District, the largest historic district in New York City, containing the most significant contiguous swath of protected buildings in the entire city.

Park Slope Street Safety Partnership for getting neighbors started with actions to help make our streets safer for everyone.

Park Slope Veterinary Center for working so hard to find families for the neighborhood’s homeless dogs and cats.

Prospect Park, the book about Olmstead & Vaux’s Brooklyn masterpiece by David P. Colley with photographs by Elizabeth Keegin Colley out from Princeton Architecture Press. Available at the Community Bookstore. 

Lou Reed (RIP) born in Brooklyn…

Frank Renda at Superior Auto Care for keeping local cars running (and dogs fed with treats) for more than 20 years.

Sale of a certain building on Seventh Avenue (and the potential for it’s renovation). Mazel Tov!

Krista Saunders and Jill Benson for opening Ground Floor Gallery, bringing so much great art, fun events, and opportunities for local artists already in its first year.

Chris Schneider and Ryan Powers for putting on such a badass holiday light show every year.

Dree Schultz, the talented local drummer who spearedheaded Back to Class, a collaborative album to benfit the music programs of the Detroit Public Schools.

Shavuot Across Brooklyn: A consortium of Brooklyn’s minyanim and synagogues, who  came together for an all-night celebration for the holiday of Shavuot commemorating the giving of the Ten Commandments. It started at 8PM with services and cheesecake and ended with a sunrise service at 5AM. They are surely gonna do it again and you can come for all or part of the night and enjoy a program of learning, singing, and dancing as some of Brooklyn’s finest teachers gather.

Bruce Shearhouse of American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) because not only he is one of the soccer guys but he collects equipment and school supplies for poor kids

Josh Shneider Love Speaks Orchestra. New LP, lots of airplay. A 19-piece big band for god’s sakes. And the music makes you feel glorious.

Sock Monkey Press, started by Scott Adkins and Erin Courtney, publishes strong literary works that have a visual focus, using e-platforms for distribution in addition to printed books.  Recent publications include Terence Degnan’s The Small Plot Beside the Ventriloquist’s Grave, Martin Kleinman’s Home Front, and  My Apocalypse, an anthology. Coming soon: Nicole Callihan’s debut book of poetry SUPERLOOP, Hardcover with fabric case binding.

South Slope Flea, finding a new home after losing their home of 27-years at PS 321. One might say they were kicked out to make room for the Brooklyn Flea. Check it out on 20th Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues.

Patrick Stewart and… 

The Patrick Stewart Tumblr.

Paula Tarzian just because.

Matthew Taub,  lawyer, OTBKB contributor and now Local Write Up, his new venture. 

Teddy Bears on Prospect Park West put up by 13-year-old Alison Collard de Beaufort after she found out that Sammy Cohen-Eckstein, one of her classmates at MS 51,  had been hit by a car and killed in October.

Terrace Books for taking over Babbo Books and keeping a bookish presence in Windsor Terrace.

Two Boots: Goodbye with love.

After 24 years, Two Boots Brooklyn is coming to a close; our last day will be November 10.

It’s been our very great pleasure to have been a part of your lives, and to have had you in ours.

Piper & Andy Wandzilak, the current operators, will be continuing on in this space as their partner, John Touhey, Two Boots co-founder, retires.

Piper & Andy will be renovating and making big changes over the next two months and are hoping to re-open sometime mid-winter.

They plan on having the same warm welcome and relaxed party atmosphere, with much of our same happy staff and management.

We all thank you for your loyalty and support all these years.

For us, this place has been like a second family and a home away from home, and we know it’s been the same for many of you.

We’re heartbroken to be saying goodbye, but we hope to see you again for our re-birth!

Most sincerely and gratefully,

Piper & Andy & John

Jeanne Theoharis for her book The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks published this year and just nominated for an NAACP Image Award in Biography/Autobiography.

Ugly Duckling Presse located in the American Can Factory building on Third Street for its support and publication of POETRY, experimental and otherwise.

Unparallel Way, Emily Weiskopf’s bright yellow median scupture on 4th Avenue between 3rd and 5th Streets.

Andrew Violette, former PS 321 teacher, Hillard-trained composer and pianist, organist and music director at St. Augustien Church.

Ned Vizzini, a precocious son of Park Slope, he was writing for the New York Press and New York Times while still a teenager. He is the author of four books for young adults including It’s Kind of a Funny Story, which NPR named #56 of the “100 Best-Ever Teen Novels” of all time. It was made into a film. RIP.

War/Photography Exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath” continues through Feb. 2, 2014. Image by Ron Haviv.

Marlene Weisman for her feminist/surrealist collage series, While I Was Stuck in the Supermarket displayed at Powerhouse on 8th in Park Slope. A graphic designer, Marlene created graphics, sketch titles, visuals, and props at Saturday Night Live from 1988-1995.

 

What My Daughter Wore, a blog you’ve just got to see for its artistry and casual hipness.And I love that blogger Jenny Williams uses Blogspot, my beloved first blogging platform.

Whole Foods! Yes.

Miles Wickam, graffiti artist, teacher and person who inspires.  From an interview with Creative Times: “First, I believe we all have creative abilities, and we need to discover and refine them. Some of us grew up without the proper support to know this about ourselves. Remember that graffiti, like all other skills, take LOTS of experience, lots of hours of practice, to refine to a level to where you know you are good. There can and probably will be LOTS of frustration and disappointment on the path. Don’t give up on yourself.”

William Butler School, PS 133, brand new school at corner of 4th and Baltic. Beautiful school.

Avra Wing, author of a wonderful young adult novel called After Isaac

The Wooden House Project, where Elizabeth Finkelstein provides some much-deserved attention for the neighborhood’s wooden houses.

Candace Woodward, promoter and advocate of all good things in Park Slope.

 

 

December 30, 2013

Accepting Park Slope 100 Nominations: NOW

I am now compiling the seventh 2013 Park Slope  100, 100 people, places and things that make Park Slope a special place to live. 100 Stories, 100 ways of looking at the world.

Have a look at the 2012 Park Slope 100 for an idea of what we’re looking for. Think of people you love in Park Slope who contribute in some way large or small or even teeny tiny to the greater good. Who made you feel good this year? Who did something kind, something smart, something creative, something interesting.

Help me make this a great and inclusive list. Email me: louisecrawford@gmail.com and THANKS. The deadline is TODAY. I know that’s no notice at all…

November 25, 2013

Dec 7: Brooklyn Holiday Book Fair with Paul Auster Reading “Auggie Wren”

Some of you may remember the inaugural Brooklyn Holiday Book Fair last year at The Old Stone House (organized by Honey & Wax Booksellers). In the afternoon, Pete Hamill read the great O’Henry story “The Gift of the Magi” and one  of his own from “A Christmas in Brooklyn.”

On December 7th from 11AM until 5PM,  independent Brooklyn bookshops and antiquarian booksellers will fill Park Slope’s Old Stone House with rare, vintage, and out-of-print books in a celebration of the borough’s rich history of printing, reading, and writing.

Building on the success of last December’s inaugural fair featuring Pete Hamill, this year’s event includes an expanded range of local booksellers, from general-interest open shops to specialized private dealers, and will conclude with a public reading by Paul Auster of his Brooklyn holiday classic, “Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story.” He will be reading at 4PM. The organizers are expecting a big crowd, so arrive early to shop and see Auster.

That’s right. Paul Auster will be reading his classic story. I’m excited. Super. Here’s a list of the booksellers included in this wonderful fair—just in time for Christmas. You know, books are so easy to wrap.

2013 participants include:

Brooklyn Books

Enchanted Books

Freebird Books

Honey & Wax Booksellers

Joe Maynard, Bookseller

Open Air Modern

P.S. Bookshop

Singularity & Co.

Terrace Books

Tom Davidson, Bookseller

Unnameable Books

Full Disclosure: Honey & Wax Booksellers is a client of my company Brooklyn Social Media. But I’d be excited about this anyway. Very.

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November 8, 2013

Happy Birthday Joni Mitchell: A Woman of Heart and Mind

Happy Birthday to Joni Mitchell who turned 70 yesterday. She was my songwriting guru back in the seventies when I played her record Blue until it got scratched and cackly and wrote songs about my own life and loves with weird guitar tunings.

What a kaleidoscopic artist. A Canadian art school folkie, she moved to Laurel Canyon and defined the Los Angeles songwriting scene at its best (she was, after all, a lady of the canyon). She painted Van Gogh-esque portraits of herself. By the age of 30, she’d written such iconic songs as “Both Sides Now,”  ”Chelsea Morning,” “The Circle Game” and ”Woodstock.” But it was albums like Blue, Court and Spark and Hejira that established her as a musical and poetic force and an artist of the highest degree. Later, smitten by the work of jazz bassist Charles Mingus, she brought the idiom of jazz into her work with serious attention to jazz modes and melodies. Herbie Hancock dedicated an album to her songs called River: The Joni Letters. 

Oh we love Joni for her strength of character, her refusal to be marginalized as “just another girl singer,” her determination  to be recognized as a major 20th century musical innovator, even her exasperating quotes and grandiosity. She IS “a woman of heart and mind” and a powerful influence on American popular music.

Poet Patricia Spears Jones writes: “You want vivid details in your poems, study the lyrics of Joni Mitchell—she can go from yearning to seduction and dejection in like a nano second. Happy birthday to the great pop music contrarian.”

In honor of Joni Mitchell, I am producing Court and Spark Turns 40 on January 16, 2014 at 8PM at The Old Stone House in Park Slope, a concert performance of the entire album with many performers. Sheila Weller, author of Girls Like Us will be there and will share her thoughts on Joni Mitchell and the making of that particular album.

Click on the link below for more information about this incredible event: https://www.facebook.com/events/536216586463886/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar

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November 2, 2013

Nicole Krauss, Author of Great House and The End of Love, Moving from Park Slope

Nicole Krauss, the author of Great House and The End of Love, two novels that I adore, is moving away from Park Slope She and her husband Jonathan Safran Foer are selling their great Park Slope house and heading to points unknown.

I remember seeing her read and discuss Great House at Congregation Beth Elohim quite a few years back. I admired her intelligence, her quiet strength and her grace. She said that a desk that came with their Second Street house inspired the novel.

That house must be very inspiring because it inspired a brilliant tale about (and I quote from her website here because the book, something of a long shaggy dog tale, isn’t that easy to describe, “a reclusive American novelist, who has been writing at the desk she inherited from a young Chilean poet who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet’s secret police; one day a girl claiming to be the poet’s daughter arrives to take it away, sending the writer’s life reeling.”

This is indeed a loss to Park Slope as it was wonderful to have two such fine writers among the many writers in this neighborhood. They made us proud, they illuminated us (pardon the pun), they were among our literary stars. I wish them the very best and much great writing in the future.

Here’s a quote from Great House, which is well worth a read.

Ten days together in this house, and the most we’ve done is stake out our territories and inaugurate a set of rituals. To give us a foothold. To give us direction, like the illuminated strips in the aisles of emergency-stricken planes. Every night I turn in before you, and every morning, no matter how early I rise, you are awake before me. I see your long gray form bent over the newspaper. I cough before entering the kitchen, so as not to surprise you. You boil the water, setting out two cups. We read, grunt, belch. I ask if you want toast. You refuse me. You are above even food now. Or is it the blackened crusts you object to? Toasting was always your mother’s job. With my mouth full, I talk about the news. Silently, you wipe the sputtered crumbs and continue to read. My words, to you, are atmospheric at most: they come through vaguely, like the twitter of birds and the creak of the old trees, and, as far as I can tell, like these things they require no response from you.

 

November 2, 2013

Anne-Katrin Titze: Interview with Barbara Kopple about Running From Crazy

 

Anne-Katrin Titze writes about film for Eye For Film. She also writes about Prospect Park and is a passionate Park watchdog. Gothamist called her a “wildlife rehabilitator” and had this to say: “If you read about a dead animal discovered in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, see a photo of an injured swan caught on fishing line, or hear commentary on the mass Canada goose slaughters in the area… it’s most likely coming from Anne-Katrin Titze.”

This week she did an interview with the great documentarian Barbara Kopple (pictured above), who won an academy award for her acclaimed documentary Harlan County USA. Her new film, Running from Crazy, is about  Mariel Hemingway and the other Hemingway women.

“Running From Crazy, Barbara Kopple’s intimate and revealing portrait of the Hemingway women – Ernest’s granddaughters and great-granddaughters, and the men in their lives – is a documentary on American royalty. The uniqueness of the film consists in the combination of frank interviews with Mariel Hemingway, who has been running from the crazy stigma all her life, and never before seen footage presented by her sister Margaux, who committed suicide in 1996.

“When I arrived at Kopple’s office in New York City to discuss her film, the news had just broken about shootings at LAX airport. Barbara left a message for Mariel inquiring if everything was okay at her end and we spoke about Julian Schnabel’s dream. The name Hemingway, like Kennedy, triggers immediate emotions. Running From Crazy is less interested in the myth than the traumas, fears and internal demons that haunt the clan.”

You can read Titze’s interview here:  http://www.eyeforfilm.co.uk/feature/2013-11-02-interview-with-barbara-kopple-about-running-from-crazy-feature-story-by-anne-katrin-titze

 

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October 30, 2013

Nov 14: Writing War, Fiction and Memoir by Veterans at The Old Stone House

 

Brooklyn Reading Works presents WRITING WAR: Fiction and Memoir by Veterans curated by Peter Catapano of the The New York Times with Phil Klay, Kevin R. McPartland, Maurice Emerson Decaul and Lynn Hill. This is the third time we are presenting this event and we always get a huge crowd. As always, it will be at The Old Stone House, 336 Third Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues. A $5 donation includes wine and snacks.

The drawing is by Jess Ruliffson, who wrote about last year’s WRITING WAR event on her blog Calling the Dog: 

 ”I had the pleasure and good fortune to meet Peter Catapano at the Joe Bonham Project exhibition reception this past weekend and he told me about a reading he was co-hosting at The Old Stone House. Presented by Brooklyn Reading Works, the reading showcased the incredible writing talents of several young writers who are recent alumni of the NYU Veterans Writing Workshop and have been using their war experiences to inform their creative writing. It was an incredible evening and I am looking forward to hearing more from this group of great writers.”

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October 28, 2013

Mike Sorgatz; One of a Kind (and Affordable) Monster Prints

Mike Sorgatz, artist and founder of the websites Art in Brooklyn and Art in New York City is selling these wonderful prints of Frankenstein and other monsters.

Of the print above, Mike writes: “He’s simply called “The Monster” in Mary Shelley’s classic horror novel Frankenstein, but you can call him Frank. Wanted by angry villagers everywhere, this adorable face can now be hanging on your own wall. Printed with a ghoulish green on a pumpkin orange background.”

Mike started Art in Brooklyn in 2008 as a way to make art more accessible to the public. As an extension of this mission, he’s been creating a series of handmade prints at extremely affordable price.

All of the works are made from original drawings and printed individually from blocks carved by hand. Each piece has unique characteristics created during the printing process – no two are exactly the same.

Works are printed on high quality, acid free paper and signed by the artist. More designs will be added to the collection over time.

Mike lives in Brooklyn with his wonderful wife Eleanor (who runs a blog called Creative Times). He works at an art studio in Red Hook. His paintings, which I love, can be seen at www.MikeSorgatz.com.

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October 22, 2013

Park Slope Author Cliff Thompson Wins Whiting Award

I’ve been a fan for quite some time. I loved Cliff Thompson’s novel Signifying Nothing, which he read at the Brooklyn Reading Works event called Young, Gifted and Black Men curated by Martha Southgate a few years back. And when Love for Sale, his award-winning collection of essays from Autumn House Press came out I was over the moon.

I guess you could say I feel good about the Whiting Award coming Cliff Thompson’s way.

The Whiting Writers’ Awards is given annually to 10 writers who have “exceptional talent and promise in early career.” The awards were announced Monday. Each writer receives $50,000 from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, established in 1963 by Flora E. Whiting. The awards honor fiction, nonfiction, poetry and plays and are intended to identify writers, the foundation says, “who have yet to make their mark on the literary culture.” The 2013 winners are Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams (“The Man Who Danced With Dolls”), Amanda Coplin (“The Orchardist”), Jennifer duBois (“Cartwheel”), Virginia Grise (“Making Myth”), Ishion Hutchinson (“Far District: Poems”), Morgan Meis (“Ruins”), C. E. Morgan (“All the Living”), Rowan Ricardo Phillips (“The Ground”), Clifford Thompson (“Signifying Nothing”) and Stephanie Powell Watts (“We Are Taking Only What We Need”).

Yay.

 

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October 18, 2013

Oct 22 at 7PM: Literary Heroes of New York at KGB Bar

On October 22 at 7PM at KGB Bar, three successful writers who give back by teaching workshops through the New York Writers Coalition, will be reading from their recently published works. The special workshops they teach are for 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. These workshops are led by wonderful writers, a few of whom will be at KGB this Tuesday night.

Ben Dolnick will read from his novel At the Bottom of Everything. Avra Wing will read from her award-winning new young adult novel After Isaac, and Judy Chicurel, will read from a forthcoming book.

The event is called NYWC Inside Out, a benefit reading and artist round table at KGB Bar (85 E. 4th Street, Manhattan), featuring a few of the talented poets and writers that make up NYWC’s arts and social justice circle.This is a small benefit for the Coalition, with a suggested donation of $10-$20.

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October 17, 2013

Bianca Stone: Elegy with a Tiny Darkness in my Palms

An excerpt from Sink Review

I feel no sense of religion except this.

Each hand like

a bastard on my lap.

I am thinking of the size

of a tiny darkness

in my palms

that shake out verse

like emerald hummingbirds.

I keep thinking of the word Rhododendron.

In my mind there is only this word

in different sentences.

I plant a rhododendron where your head should be.

It is Christmas Eve in Brooklyn.

I peal an orange in the nebulous vapor

and everything is quiet.

I take toast to the window

and throw the rind at the moon

that recedes into the clouds

like an iridescent testicle into the holy lap of the atmosphere—

I am thinking of the body again.

Tonight at 8PM: Poetry by D. Nurkse, MRB Chelko, Bianca Stone and music by Caitlin Claessens at The Old Stone House (336 Third Street, between 4th and 5th Avenues in Park Slope).

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October 17, 2013

MRB Chelko: Manhattations

An excerpt from Pool Poetry

I get it Big City; there’s no end

to your street light, what

lies beyond (nothing) lurks

out there, but now you must wait

(forever) until morning as I have waited

(forever) to fall asleep, and wait

still and wait now and wait just

a second. It takes two of me to screw

in a light bulb: one to keep my eyes closed

(forever) and one to be open eyed and

satisfied when the switch works just fine.

Now look how the apartment becomes

a box of light; it burns like the others.

Be (forever) grateful. It takes each photon

1 million years to escape the sun.

Tonight at 8PM: Poetry by D. Nurkse, MRB Chelko, Bianca Stone and music by Caitlin Claessens at The Old Stone House (336 Third Street, between 4th and 5th Avenues in Park Slope).

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October 17, 2013

D. Nurkse: The Dead Reveal Secrets of Brooklyn

An excerpt from A Night in Brooklyn (Alfred A. Knopf)

We are frequently asked, What is death like?

Like tossing a frisbee in Prospect Park,

making sure the release

is free of any twitch or spasm—

any trace of the body’s vacilation—

will the disc to glide forward

of its own momentum never verring,

in a trance of straight lined.

Like waving in traffic at Hoty-Fulton

waving away the squeegee man

with his excessive grin and red-veined eyes.

 

Tonight at 8PM: Poetry by D. Nurkse, MRB Chelko, Bianca Stone and music by Caitlin Claessens at The Old Stone House (336 Third Street, between 4th and 5th Avenues in Park Slope).

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October 16, 2013

October 17 at 8PM: Dennis Nurkse and Other Poets at Old Stone House

On Thursday, October 17 at 8PM, Brooklyn Reading Works presents Holiday in Reality, an evening of poetry curated by Patrick Smith at The Old Stone House (336 Third Street, between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, F Train to Fourth Avenue, R Train to Union Street).

Smith is thrilled to present Dennis Nurkse, the acclaimed author of A Night in Brooklyn (Alfred A. Knopf) a magical and haunted collection of poems, that is something like a love letter to our fair borough. Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang wrote of the book:  ”…as much a celebration of the borough as it is a meditation on history, time and the furious love of the places the poet inhabits.”

Sensual, urgent and fierce, Nurkse’s language evokes a white alley cat that mysteriously survives a Bensonhurst winter; the narrow bed where young love took place; the wild gardens behind tenements. In the title poem” We undid a button, turned out the light and in that narrow bed/we built the great city—/water towers, cisterns, hot asphalt roofs, parks/septic tanks, arterial roads, Canarsie, the intricate channels…

Nurkse is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including The Rules of Paradise (2001), The Fall (2003), and The Border Kingdom (2008). His parents escaped Nazi Europe during World War II—his Estonian father worked for the League of Nations in Vienna, his mother was an artist—and moved to New York. Nurkse’s family moved back to live in Europe for a number of years, returning to the United States around the time of the Vietnam War. Nurkse lives in New York and teaches at Sarah Lawrence. He was at one time Poet Laureate of Brooklyn.

Also reading on Thursday night: MRB Chelko, Bianca Stone and Pat Smith. Music by Caitlin Claessens. A $5 donation includes beer, wine and snacks.

Highly recommended.

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October 9, 2013

What My Daughter Wore

 

Fashion blog meets mommy blog: What My Daughter Wore presents gorgeous illustrations by a Brooklyn mom of her daughter’s daily sartorial choices.

The drawings are simply gorgeous and the outfits are wonderful, too. To me, it feels like a collaboration between mother and daughter—but who knows. Some of the outfits feel mildly subversive on the part of the daughter, like the one where she’s wearing a colander on her head.

In a way it’s so representative of what’s interesting and questionable about a certain strata of Brooklyn at this time: the look-at-my-fabulous-kid thing; the sense of “we’re so ultra cool”; the need to shout it out.

But isn’t that the pot (me) calling the kettle black. The drawings are truly lovely and the mom and daughter are equally gifted.

As a former mommy columnist myself I wonder if the blogger’s kids are turned off by the entire endeavor. Mine certainly were. That said, this blog is done with such love and beauty. Wouldn’t anyone be thrilled to have such a record of their lives?

 

October 1, 2013

October 17: What Do Women Want AND Holiday in Reality with D. Nurkse

On Thursday October 17, Brooklyn Reading Works present TWO events:

WHAT DO WOMEN WANT? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire. A conversation with author Daniel Bergner and and Babeland co-founder Claire Cavanah (author of Moregasm). Presented Babeland and Edgy Moms.

Where: Babeland, 462 Bergen Street in Park Slope at 7PM

HOLIDAY IN REALITY: An evening of poetry curated by Pat Smith with acclaimed and award winning poet and former Brooklyn Poet Laureate D. Nurske, author of A Night in Brooklyn (Knopf) joining a fabulous and festive roster of poets and performers, including MLB Chelko, Pat Smith, Bianca Stone and  Caitlin Claessons.

Where: The Old Stone House, 336 Third Street in Park Slope at 8PM.

Do them both! A Lit crawl from Babeland to The Old Stone House.

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September 24, 2013

Birth, Death, Repeat: A Website and An Exhibition by Gail Ghezzi

It’s funny what grabs me, what inspires me to post on this old blog. I got an email this morning and it intrigued me. The subject line was: “Meditations on mortality: Shadow boxes by Gail Ghezzi…

Well, I have no idea who Gail Ghezzi is though I am fascinated by GH last names because my maiden name, may father’s family name is Ghertler.

Meditation grabbed me, too. Then I saw mortality. Then I saw shadow boxes… Click. Reader, I opened the email.

Below is a description of Gail Ghezzi’s artwork that looks very interesting. She collects things—records, artifacts, pop culture odds and ends—and turns them into shadow boxes a la Joseph Cornell but with a different kind of attitude. Way different.

The point of the email was to announce the debut of a website Birth, Death Repeat and an exhibition at Jalopy Tavern through October 12th. The details are below. I’m sorry I missed the opening on Saturday but I was in the thick of the Brooklyn Book Festival so I probably would have missed it anyway. But it’s not too late to see the show, or to check out the website. Ghezzi’s artwork sounds interesting and very interactive. Read ahead and you’ll see what I mean:

“Birth, Death, Repeat…” is an art/writing project featuring the shadow boxes of the Brooklyn designer Gail Ghezzi. Ghezzi’s shadow boxes are meditations on mortality that use antique artifacts and found objects she acquires at antique fairs, online and on her sidewalk. Each box imagines the final moments of a fictional character, and then surrounds that character with the detritus of a life. These lives are captured in short paragraphs attached to each box to make this the first collaboration between the artist and her husband/author Ben Greenman since the births of their children.

Anyone can participate by submitting a short story at birthdeathrepeat.com

Ghezzi’s art  was debuted at Jalopy Tavern on Saturday, September 21 in Brooklyn. After the opening, the party continued next door at Jalopy Theater  with live music by Lara Ewen . Ewen performed from her new record “The Wishing Stone Songs,” which features package design by Ghezz

September 24, 2013

Brownstone Dreams: Love and Death in 1960s Park Slope

What was Park Slope like before it became the affluent Brooklyn neighborhood it is today? In the Park Slope of Brownstone Dreams, a new novel by Kevin R. McPartland, there are no cappuccino cafes, Bugaboo strollers or real estate offices selling million dollar apartments. Author McPartland spins a tragic tale about the mean streets of 1960’s Brooklyn, evoking the sights and sounds of tenements, bars, and schoolyards that comprise the battleground of warring teenage gangs.

The year is 1962. It’s early summer and it’s already a hot one. 19-year-old Bobby Dutton, street tough and gang member, is in a state of turmoil, after stealing the gun of local wiseguy Vincent Casseo. Still high on glue and beer, Bobby has to figure out how to get the gun back to crazy Vincent, without getting himself killed.

“The next morning Bobby sat leaning on one elbow on a cluttered kitchen table. He sat watching his grandfather go about his morning ritual of drinking tea by the fire-escape window while he shaved and complained. ‘Someday you’ll know what this is all about, Bobby-boy. It’s not fuckin easy makin’ a buck in the world. Look at me, other men work on ships that go to sea. I work on a stinking barge in a filthy goddamn canal called Gowanus.”

But Bobby isn’t interested in how hard it is to make a buck in the world He is much more concerned about Vincent Casseo and his missing gun.

Brownstone Dreams is a gripping thriller about fear, anger and revenge. It is also the story of a Brooklyn neighborhood where drugs and alcohol take control of people’s lives; where working-class immigrant families fill tenement buildings; where hardworking men drown their disappointments in seedy pubs, while their sons fight each other with sticks and bats in Prospect Park.

Bobby, forever the dreamer, believes he can get the gun back to Vincent without incident. But that is just the first of many miscalculations that makes Brownstone Dreams such a compelling—and heartbreaking read.

Born and bred in Park Slope, McPartland writes about the world he grew up in with the eloquence and grit of Pete Hamill and Malachy McCourt. “McPartland’s is as authentic a voice from New York City’s streets as you’re ever likely to hear.” write Peter McDermott, Deputy Editor of the Irish Echo.

Bobby’s story comes to a head with the savage beating of one of his best friends by Vincent. That’s when Bobby’s game plan changes and he goes on the offensive, unafraid of Vincent’s reputation or his threats, determined to avenge his friend’s beating.

So begins a downward spiral from which Bobby will never return. Even the love of Cathy, a good neighborhood girl, can’t save Bobby from his inevitable trajectory. “Before Park Slope became the trendy family neighborhood of New York’s wealthy elite, it was the home of Bobby Dutton, an Irish-American teenager growing up in the cockroach infested flats of McPartland’s Brownstone Dreams,” writes Marian Fontana, award-winning author of A Widow’s Walk: A Memoir of 9/11. “The book captures a bygone era with a voice as fresh as it is engrossing,”

Brownstone Dreams will engross fans of Pete Hamill, Joe Flaherty and Frank McCourt, who will discover in McPartland a brave and bold writer with an urban story worth telling.

About the author: Kevin R. McPartland is a native Brooklynite, novelist and short story writer. His work has appeared in AIM Magazine, Grit Mag and in Adventures in Hell, an anthology of short stories by Vietnam Veterans.

September 24, 2013

Forever Brooklyn: A Short Film by Francesco Paciocco

Forever Brooklyn from Francesco Paciocco on Vimeo.

September 20, 2013

Columbus Day Weekend: Artists Open Up Their Studios

Do you know this woman hiding half her face behind her fingers? That’s Bernette Rudolph, my neighbor and a wonderful artist who lives on Third Street in Park Slope. She is also one of the organizers of the Park Slope/Windsor Terrace Artists Open Studio Tour this Columbus Day Weekend (October 12-14, 2013).

At their website,there’s a map, studio addresses and information about the exhibiting artists. It’s a wonderful group of artists including Tom Keough, who does wonderful and mysterious night paintings of Brooklyn Streets. The other artists are Phillip de Loach, Joy Walker, Bernette Rudolph, Janie Samuels, Lloyd Campbell, Bob Hagan, Robin Epstein, Darcy Lynn, Grace Markman  and David Listokin

At her studio, Bernette will show what she’s calling “Master Paintings in Three Dimension.” By that she means 3-D treatments of Chagall’s wedding couple flying off the surface, Picasso’s Guernica, and other master paintings.

I think it sounds fun.

Below is a painting by exhibiting artist Joy Walker:

 

 

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September 16, 2013

OTBKB Picks: Top Ten Brooklyn Book Festival Panels

In no particular order, these panels at the Brooklyn Book Festival appealed to me. There’s so much to choose from and many look very good.  Frankly I’ve never gotten into one of these panels. It’s always so crowded.

ONE.  10:00 A.M. The So-Called ‘Post-Feminist, Post-Racial’ Life in Publishing: Best-selling author Deborah Copaken Kogan sparked a firestorm with her explosive essay in The Nation, and her experience as a 21st-century female author was marked by slut-shaming, name-calling and an enduring lack of respect. Poet, activist and author of sixteen books,Sonia Sanchez (Homegirls and Handgrenades) has consistently addressed the lack of respect for the struggles and lives of Black America. Author and founder of Feministing, Jessica Valenti, has devoted considerable time to transforming the media landscape for women. Moderated by Rob SpillmanTin House. Borough Hall Courtroom.

TWO. 2:00 P.M. André Aciman and Claire Messud in Conversation: The experience of otherness and dislocation are preoccupying themes forAndré Aciman (Harvard Square) and Claire Messud (The Woman Upstairs). The conversation will explore how these themes inform their sense of character, as well as their understanding of the very nature of the fictional enterprise. Moderated by Albert Mobilio (Bookforum). Borough Hall Courtroom.

THREE.  3:00 P.M. Publish and Perish? E-books are killing publishing! The corporations are killing publishing! Self-publishing is killing publishing! While headlines continually bemoan the end of the literary world as we know it, others argue that the reports of publishing’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.  Janet Groth (The Receptionist) and Boris Kachka(Hothouse) take a look inside two of our most storied institutions—The New Yorker and Farrar, Straus and Giroux—and consider the past while taking the pulse of the literary world today.  Brooklyn Historical Society.

FOUR. 5:00 P.M. What Fills the Void After War? Three acclaimed writers from countries that have known conflict and political unrest discuss war’s aftermath and how it informs their work. With Irish writer Colum McCann(TransAtlantic), Sri Lankan writer Ru Freeman (On Sal Mal Lane) and Iraqi writer Sinan Antoon (The Corpse Washer). Moderated by Rob Spillman (Tin House). Borough Hall Courtroom.

FIVE. 5:00 P.M. Let’s Talk About (Writing) Sex: Everyone’s writing about it.Sam Lipsyte (The Fun Parts) pens sardonic short stories about sex in a misanthropic world. Amy Grace Loyd (The Affairs of Others) depicts an apartment building filled with violence, mystery, and, of course, sex. AndSusan Choi (My Education) puts a (sexy) new twist on the student-teacher relationship. Short readings and discussion. Moderated by Angela Ledgerwood (Cosmopolitan Magazine). Main Stage.

SIX. 11:00 A.M. Mommy Dearest: Some women would sacrifice anything to have a child. Others consider having a child a sacrifice in itself. The complications of adoption, of lost chances, and of the relationship between past and present are all held together by a mother’s instinct, or lack thereof. Jennifer Gilmore (The Mothers), Claire Messud (The Woman Upstairs), and Jamaica Kincaid (See Now Then) debate the different roles that motherhood plays in their latest novels.  Moderated by Harold Augenbraum, National Book Foundation. St. Francis Auditorium.

SEVEN. 4:00 P.M. Art Spiegelman and Jules Feiffer in Conversation: Pulitzer-Prize winning graphic novelist Art Spiegelman‘s newest release, Co-Mix, is a career retrospective that covers his work from Raw to Maus to the New Yorker (and Garbage Pail Kids in between). Joined by Jules Feiffer (Out of Line: The Art of Jules Feiffer), also a Pulitzer winner, they debate the purpose and impact of comics art, its history and development, and their visions of its future. Featuring screen projection. St. Francis Auditorium.

EIGHT. 5:00 P.M. On Nonfiction: American literature is in the midst of a renaissance of sorts, from the glossies to the blogosphere, with an unforeseen proliferation of investigative journalism, memoir, and personal essay. Join Svetlana Alpers (Roof Life), George Packer (The Unwinding) and Clifford Thompson (Love for Sale and Other Essays) in conversation with Phillip Lopate (Portrait Inside My Head) about the renewal and relevance of nonfiction writing today. St. Francis Auditorium

NINE. 10:00 A.M. Family Inheritances: It’s all in the family. Sometimes it’s the one we’re born into and sometimes it’s the one we make for ourselves.Joanna Hershon (A Dual Inheritance), Caroline Leavitt (Is This Tomorrow), Callie Wright (Love All), and Donna Hill (What Mother Never Told Me) discuss the secrets, mysteries and hidden truths that permeate these generational relationships and lifelong bonds.  Moderated by Brigid Hughes, A Public Space. St. Ann’s

TEN. 12:00 P.M. Arts and Politics in Fiction: Art has always been a tool for political and social change. In these novels, it comes in the form of protest-pop songs, motorcycle photography and high-end fashion. Alex Gilvarry(From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant), Rachel Kushner (The Flamethrowers) and Nicholson Baker (Traveling Sprinkler) shed new light on the timeless relationship between art and politics. Moderated by Joel Whitney. St. Ann’s.

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September 16, 2013

Brooklyn Book Festival and Bookend Events

THIS IS THE WEEK of the Brooklyn Book Festival, which gathers 40,000 people to Brooklyn Borough Hall for New York City’s largest Book Festival and America’s third largest.

From emerging writers to icons, this year includes readings and panels with Pete hamill, Jamaica Kincaid, James McBride,Claire Messud, Colum McCann, Sharon Olds, George Packer, Karen Russell, Sapphire, Art Spiegelman, Meg Wolitzer and Tom Wolfe and many, many more.

The Bookend events, parties, readings and panels during this week leading up to the Book Festival, are really fun, too. Tonight there’s a big bash at The Bell House. On Tuesday, Brooklyn by the Book presents Paul Harding, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Tinkers in conversation with Michele Filgate. That’s at the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza.

On Wednesday, September 18 at 8PM there’s a celebration of the short story with Elissa Schappell, Dawn Raffel, Gregory Spatz, Clifford Thompson and Ron Parsons.  At the Old Stone House, or course. Hope to see you there.

On Thursday September 19, you can cat ch Catherine Gigante-Brown reading from ner novel “The El” at the Brooklyn Navy Yard at 6:30 PM.

Also on Thursday, a tribute to Alexander Cockburn and a celebration and a new collection of his work: A Colossal Wreck: A Road Trip Through Political Scandal, Corrption and American Culture at powerHouse Arena in DUMBO at 7PM.

Friday is the Fourth Annual Brooklyn Indie Part at Greenlight Bookstore in Ft. Green starting at 7PM.

For all the info you need; go to brooklynbookfestival.org

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September 16, 2013

BEAT Festival: Immersive Art All Over Brooklyn

After last year’s successful inaugural season the BEAT Festival’s second season focuses on site-specific and immersive theatrical experiences in unusual and non-theatrical settings.

BEAT stands for Brooklyn Emerging Artists Theater but the BEAT roster includes a whole lot more than emerging artists with seasoned and accomplished artists like Ping Chong, Lemon Andersen, Brave New World Repertory and others. But there are lesser known groups as well like LeeSaar and the Institute for Psychogeographic Adventure.

This past Sunday night at Congregation Beth Elohim, Brave New World Repertory Theater presented a reading of reflections by those involved with the CBE Feeds initiative, which has been serving food to victims of Hurricane Sandy for the past year and intends to continue.

Also at Beth Elohim, on September 21 they will presenting Ping Chong’s Brooklyn 1963, about events connected with civil rights and the fight for freedom in Brooklyn.

There’s a whole lot more to the festival, including a performance on Saturday, September 21 of the “striking, sexy and assertive choreography” of LeeSaar, a dance company established in Israel in 2000 by  Lee Sher and  Saar Harari.

For more information go here. 

September 9, 2013

Join Elissa Schappell, Dawn Raffel, Greg Spatz and More at Soft Shadows

“My short stories are like soft shadows I have set out in the world, faint footprints I have left.”

― Haruki Murakami

On September 18, 2013 at 8PM, Brooklyn Reading Works at the Old Stone House will present a Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend Event: SOFT SHADOWS: A CELEBRATION OF THE SHORT STORY with Elissa Schappell, Dawn Raffel, Gregory Spatz,, Clifford Thompson and Ron Parsons, who will read and discuss their work and their favorite short stories. Louise Crawford will host.

Audience members will be invited open-mic style to share their favorite published stories and read the first paragraph.

A $5 suggested donation will include wine and snacks. Books will be sold and signed.

The Old Stone House: 336 Third Street between 5th and 4th Avenues. R train to Union Street, F train to Fourth Avenue. 718-768-3195. For interviews and inquiries: 718-288-4290

ABOUT THE FEATURED AUTHORS

DAWN RAFFEL’s illustrated memoir, The Secret Life of Objects, was published in June and was on Oprah’s Summer Reading List and Best Memoir List for 2012. She is also the author of two story collections— Further Adventures in the Restless Universe and In the Year of Long Division (soon to be reissued)—and a novel, Carrying the Body. Her stories have appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, BOMB, Conjunctions, Black Book, Fence, Open City, The Mississippi Review Prize Anthology, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, Arts & Letters, The Quarterly, NOON, and numerous other periodicals and anthologies. She was a fiction editor for many years, followed by a seven-year stint as Executive Articles Editor at O, The Oprah Magazine and three years as Editor-at-Large at More magazine; she has also taught in the MFA program at Columbia University and at the Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia; Montreal; and Vilnius, Lithuania. She is now Editor at Large, Books at Readers Digest, and the editor of The Literarian, the magazine for the Center for Fiction in New York. She lives outside New York City with her husband and sons.

ELISSA SCHAPPELL is the author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls and Use Me, a finalist for the Pen/Hemingway Award. She is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, where she the author of the “Hot-Type” column. She has been a Senior Editor at the Paris Review and is a founding editor of the literary magazine, Tin House. Elissa has also been the co-editor of the anthologies, The Friend Who Got Away and Money Changes Everything. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her family.

GREGORY SPATZ is the author of novels Inukshuk, Fiddler’s Dream and No One But Us, as well as short story collections, Half as Happy and Wonderful Tricks. His short stories have appeared in literary journals and magazines such as Glimmer Train Stories, New England Review, Kenyon Review, Epoch, Santa Monica Review, The New Yorker, etc., and he has published numerous book and music reviews for The Oxford American. He’s won numerous grants from the Washington State Artist Trust, as well as a Washington State Book Award, and in 2011 he was named Individual Artist of the Year by the Spokane Arts Commission. He is also the recipient of a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts literature fellowship.

CLIFFORD THOMPSON is the author of Love for Sale and Other Essays from Autumn House Press. His essays about books, film, jazz, and American identity have appeared in The Threepenny Review, The Iowa Review, Commonweal, Film Quarterly, Cineaste, Oxford American, Black Issues Book Review, and elsewhere. He is the author of a novel, Signifying Nothing. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and children.

RON PARSONS is the author of the new story collection The Sense of Touch from Aqueous Books. He is writer living in Sioux Falls. Born in Michigan and raised in South Dakota, he was inspired to begin writing fiction in Minneapolis while attending the University of Minnesota. His short stories have appeared in such places as The Gettysburg Review, Indiana Review, The Briar Cliff Review, Flyway, and The Onion. This is his debut collection.

ABOUT THE HOST

Louise Crawford runs Brooklyn Readings Works, which has been called “the best place to chase fiction with a little history” by Conde Nast Traveler. She is the founder of the popular blog Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Blogfest, an annual networking event for bloggers. Her company Brooklyn Social Media gets the word out about artists and entrepreneurs.

 

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September 4, 2013

Janine Nichols: Moon or No Moon

Janine Nichols, a Brooklyn performer and leader of the band SEMI-FREE, has plenty to be excited about.

First, she got a glorious CD review wondering why she is not famous by David Malachowski! Click below to read it:

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/articles/2013/08/23/entertainment/doc5216d71ea3c14007168306.txt

Second, SEMI-FREE now has a band photo (see above). Pictured are Nicols and bandmates Brandon Ross and Charlie Burnham.

And third: Semi-Free now has a video on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObT_hq7-2oA

The photo and video were shot by the visual artist Peter Seward at John Brown’s Farm in Lake Placid, NY. It was from there that John Brown organized his assault on the Kansas Territory and, later, Harper’s Ferry. Hallowed ground.

The song in the video, shot wild on borrowed guitars, is a new one, MOON OR NO MOON, the story of a slave escape. Nichols based it on a character in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Known World by Edward P. Jones.

 

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September 4, 2013

Friday at Congregation Beth Elohim: The Bible Story Everyone Love to Hate

Hey, are you looking for something to do THIS Friday morning/early afternoon?

On the second day of Rosh Hashanah at Congregation Beth Elohim, Pulitzer Prize finalist James Goodman will be interviewed by Rabbi Andy Bachman about the binding of Isaac, the subject of his new book But Where is the Lamb? Imagining the Story of Abraham and Isaac (Schocken). 

Goodman and Rabbi Bachman will grapple with a story that Jews have been trying to make sense of and arguing about for more than 2000 years. It is a story many Jews believe is the most enduring symbol — the very definition — of what it means to be a Jew (Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice the son he so longed for to God) and many others wish weren’t even in the Bible.

They will discuss a story that lovers of peace and love and joy (and haters of war and sacrifice and blind obedience and faith) love to hate. He will ask how and why we would want to worship a God who (for no good reason) would ask a man to sacrifice his son, and how and why we would celebrate and revere, as the patriarch of patriarchs, a man who without protest, question, or hesitation, set out to obey. He will explore the answers that other people have given over the years. Although there is a lot not to like about the story, we can take comfort even hope in the endless debate about it and the thought that there has never been a time when people read the story we read and wanted to leave it as it is, on the page.

After the class, everyone is invited to Community Bookstore for wine and snacks catered by D’Vine Taste. James Goodman will sign books.

JAMES GOODMAN is a professor at Rutgers University, Newark, where he teaches history and creative writing. He is the author of two previous books, including Stories of Scottsboro, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His new book But Where is the Lamb? Imagining the Story of Abraham and Isaac comes out September 15 from Schocken Books. He lives in New York.

Full disclosure: James Goodman is a client of Brooklyn Social Media.

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September 4, 2013

American Songbook by Michael Ruby

So nice to get a book in the mail. So nice when that book is from Ugly Duckling Presse. So nice when that Ugly Duckling Presse book is by a friend. Even nicer when that friend is Brooklyn’s Michael Ruby, author of five full-length collections of poetry,  including the brand new American Songbook. 

American Songbook is Ruby’s poetic response to an ambitious sweep of 20th century vocal music, including blues, jazz and country standards, Hip Hop, rock and disco. Lewis Warsh writes “You can sing  along to Michael Ruby’s delirious new poems in American Songbook, your voice echoing down (to mis-qute Fred Neil) “the canyon of your mind,” until you can’t sing any more and the  poem goes off on its own.”

It’s an inviting book, which begins with the words, “Girls, beef up the rackets, and plasticize the seven dwarfs” in a poem called “Pinchbacks—Take ‘Em Away” for the great Bessie Smith.

“Come As You Are” is a poem for Kurt Cobain that begins: “Come circumnavigate this eyeball in a see of eyeballs/As you are glowing polyurethane or coconut soda.”

“I just called the chocolate relief/to say four hearts poise/I love you in the varnished spring/I just called the highboy song…” is from a poem called “I Just Called to Say I Love You” for Stevie Wonder.

Reading Ruby’s book is like browsing through someone’s iTunes playlist. Someone with a really good playlist, that is. All the poems are named for songs and performers, some familiar, some obscure. Quickly the poems take the reader into strange terrain, mangling the lyrics in ways that are complex and compelling. This is language-y stuff that tracks meaning in discombobulating ways. Clearly, he knows (and loves his music) but he also lets loose in the realm of the hallucenogenic poetic imagination.

Ruby’s other books include Memories, Dreams and Inner Voices, Compulsive Words and At an Intersection. You can learn more about them here. 

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August 14, 2013

Insight/Fokus: The Bodies Issue

I woke up this morning to an email with a link to the Bodies issue of Insight Magazine, a project run by my friend Atiba Edwards. I thought it looked incredible on my iPhone. Fascinating art, words, ideas. I urge you to take a look.

We are amazing – we have beautiful bodies that come in an assortment of shapes, sizes, colors etc. We seek out a body (or bodies) to hold near and dear to us. Bodies to keep us warm. Bodies to motivate us. Bodies to challenge us. Bodies that leave a lasting impression on our mind and body as if it were made out of memory phone. Bodies that we long for and cry for. Bodies that somehow manage to be a point of dislike or hate. Bodies that embody feelings which we fail to ever put into the right set of words. Bodies that sometimes are our own.

The journey you are about to take captures all of the above and more. We have a great selection of visual art and word art that expresses a collection of artists seeking out what the body means to them. Through paint, music, word and composition they took the risk and decided to share that with you. Click here to begin.

Bodies (ISSUE 35) CONTRIBUTORS:

AuksOne / Michael Alan / Anirudh ‘Eka’ Dhullipalla / Atiba T. Edwards / Christian Ericson / Simone Frame / Jordan Kifer / Allison Maritza Lasky / Dolly Martinez/ Kristine Palma / Kerff Petit-Frere / Kira Pearson / Gail Ressler / Filipa Silva / Tessa Hirschfeld-Stoler / Stephanie Winbush / Jozi Zwerdling

INSIGHT magazine is based on the concept that we often look to art to define past civilizations. In turn, we provide insight into the artists who are shaping our culture through their work today. We provide insight into the worlds of actors, musicians, designers, fine artists, emerging artists and those who do not immediately come to mind when thinking about the arts/artists, such as culinary artists and industrial designers.

 

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