Monday’s Watch, Listen, Read

An ongoing series where I share what I’m watching, listening to, and reading. Here are this Monday’s picks:

Watch

Fran Lebowitz is one of those New Yorkers other New Yorkers innately know about. It happens that one day you wake up, and you know who Fran Lebowitz is. You know someone who knows her. You see her on the street. On your street. Or on Sixth Avenue and 50th on a cold Saturday night in January when you are the only two people who have decided to walk to their destinations. Based entirely on this general awareness, I tuned into HBO’s Public Speaking to learn more about her. What I got was an earful. She has an opinion on everything and she’s always spot-on. Always.

Fran Lebowitz might be one of the last great talkers in New York. Her honest, slightly acerbic, and witty social commentary can sometimes be found today in anonymous comments on blogs like Gawker, the occasional tweet from an observant human, and maybe a bit in these guys. There really isn’t anyone as consistent or off-the-cuff as she is, especially live. Don’t mention the political pundits to me. They don’t say anything that doesn’t first appear on the Teleprompter right in front of them. Democrats or Republicans.

Watch this. Learn from it/from her. Listen more. Observe more. Read more. Sharpen your social interaction skills. Put down the Blackberry, the iPhone, the iPad, etc. and live more in the moment. Look at how much of the world you’re missing if you don’t.

P.S. This great documentary was shot by my super-talented friend/D.P., Ellen Kuras.

Listen

+

It wouldn’t be the holidays without this soundtrack playing on a loop on my iTunes, iPhone and anything else I own with speakers and an “i.”

Read

I love SMITH Magazine. The creators of the six-word memoir (which became the NY Times bestseller, “Not Quite What I Was Planning”) always have fascinating projects going on, on their website. They are the curators of stories. The SMITH tag line, Everyone has a story. What’s yours? has become a bit of a mantra for me as I take the writing plunge into conducting more interviews, constructing narratives, and reporting on people & events. I could spend hours on the SMITH site reading people’s stories, imagining their history beyond or behind their six-word memoirs, their moments, and their brushes with fame.

My friend, Susan Orlean, once told me a story about a piece she was doing for Esquire magazine. It was supposed to be an interview with Macaulay Culkin. There was already a headline in place: “The American Man, Age 10.” Susan, fascinated by the title, went out on a limb and suggested instead of an interview with Culkin, she could write a piece on an average ten-year-old boy. She took a risk, flipped the narrative and got to tell the unique story of ten-year-old Colin Duffy. Colin did not have a movie to publicize, nor did he have a publicist, manager, acting career, press junkets or pre-coached sound bites. He had a story that was truly his own, not something drafted and filtered by a team of adults around him.

I always think of “The American Man, Age 10” when I read Smith Magazine. SMITH Magazine, like Susan, knows that the best (and most fascinating) stories come from the people we encounter every day. Whether it’s six words or 6,000, everyone has a story. What’s yours?

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2 responses to “Monday’s Watch, Listen, Read

  1. Hi Ashley,

    This is Alyssa from SMITH Magazine–on behalf on my editors, thanks for mentioning us! I’m glad that you are enjoying everybody’s memoirs. Have you submitted any stories? Seems like you have the chops.

    Good luck with your writing!

    Best,
    Alyssa
    SMITH intern

    P.S. I love Susan Orlean and “The American Man, Age 10”!

  2. Hi Alyssa! Many thanks for your comment!
    I know Larry and love the work you all are doing over there at SMITH. I’m hoping to contribute something to “The Moment.” Working on it now…

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