Tag Archives: conversation

Monday’s Watch, Listen, Read


Lena Dunham, the writer/director/star of TINY FURNITURE has created a movie that feels both very specific to downtown New York and entirely universal at the same time.

Aural, the film’s main character, graduates from college, moves back home, tries to get a job and figure out her place in the world at large. It’s an overwhelming task. It brought back pangs of how I initially felt upon graduating and, how I still feel today. It’s also the story of how sisters relate to each other, how mothers and daughters go through growing pains of their own and how there isn’t a map (but maybe, there’s a diary) to help us all navigate through our tumultuous 20s. This is very much a 20-nothings story. I felt like I was watching someone without skin walk around in public, nerves, muscles, veins, tendons, and bones all exposed. Lena Dunham has made a beautiful and poignant movie that recognizes a generation no one seems to know what to do with. A generation that’s continually being rearranged and used for decoration, much like furniture.


I am the proud owner of a crazy CD of Christmas music called “Hipster’s Holiday.” This is my favorite track — because who doesn’t want a five-pound box of money for Christmas? Christine Ebersole does a rendition of this tune that rivals Pearl Bailey’s original.


I’ve written about both Lynda Barry and Maira Kalman before, most recently about Maira’s book, “And The Pursuit of Happiness.” Last week, I attended a conversation between Lynda Barry and Maira Kalman at the 92nd St Y. Just the combination of those names was enough to make my brain explode and had me purchasing a ticket to this event back in September. Two friends joined me (one from Canada and the other from the far away land known as Hell’s Kitchen). Before their conversation, Lynda and Maira were able to spend 15 minutes each giving a Powerpoint/slide presentation of their books and talk about their work.

The moment they sat across from each other, I felt as if I was watching both side of my brain in conversation. Maira was the epitome of a polished New York artist, in back pants and a black jacket. Lynda, the Midwestern, rough-and-tumble kid at heart, dressed much like her collage-style work: cuffed jeans, Pocahontas braids, a black hat, and motorcycle boots. Lynda is Wild Turkey. Maira is coffee.

Despite their physical differences, the two share a similar approach to their work: They both rely on memories and observation to combine their handwritten text with their images. Maira’s images are more realistic. She works directly from photographs (most of which she takes herself). Though there’s still a bit of a surrealist quality to her work. At one point, Lynda said to Maira, “your pictures look like frosting. Sometimes I just want to eat them.” She’s not so far off.

Lynda’s work digs deep into the state of play we all lived in as children. Her medium is yellow legal pads, Chinese ink and brush, used magazines, and characters she created for her long-running comic strip. Her latest book, “Picture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book,” is a companion to her last book/work book, “What It Is.” “Picture” delves into how and why we draw and the importance of creating something that involves both our hands and minds. Barry’s book is part story, part hands-on work book. When it comes to art, drawing and writing, she’s a suggester, not a forcer, but her message is so enthusiastic, strong, and kind, you would do anything to hear her positive reinforcement, including drawing a hand turkey.


Redefining the “Power” Lunch

Today I had lunch at a New York institution. I had always envisioned my first lunch there would have something to do with mergers and media. Instead however, it was much more casual and by far a lot longer than the average “power lunch.” My lunch partners were an SVP of a PR agency and a two-time Tony award-winning actress. We talked for two plus hours, covering everything from politics and religion to trips to Hawaii and home renovation in New Jersey. It was a lunch for the soul, where interesting ideas and opinions were shared. There was no agenda, no power plays and no egos. It was simply “Fun.”

This lunch presented itself at the perfect time. I was getting tired of the young New York small talk at cocktail/book parties, networking events, news of ridiculous book deals, and paper-pushing with clients. I felt like the city itself was turning on me with everything from the torrential downpours, humidity and subway hassles, to feeling like I was letting possibilities slip through my fingers. I was tempted to say “goodbye to all that,” but then days like this happen and New York opens her arms and gives you a gift. I never would have met either of my dining partners had it not been for the serendipity and six degrees of Manhattan. “Fun” is a word that has been farthest from my vocabulary recently, but which I’ll now always be able to resurrect the feeling of when I think about my “power” lunch.

So while the power-suited around us played their trump cards, surrendered fortunes and gained millions, we simply talked for the sake of conversation, to learn, to laugh, to nourish our bodies and souls, to remind us that true power lies within our ability to connect with others, and to help remind me of why I continue to love New York.