Tag Archives: Monday

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

Prior to this evening’s workshop performance, the only time I had seen Sarah Jones perform live was in 2004, when I snagged a ticket to her off-Broadway show, Bridge & Tunnel. I was completely blown away. It was improv, it was art; it was like watching someone act as both the architect and builder of a character right before my eyes.

Here’s Sarah’s TED talk from 2009. Watch the entire “talk.” You won’t regret spending 21 minutes experiencing cultures intersect and characters emerge through the vessel of one extraordinary human being.

Also, if you’re in New York, get over to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe to see Sarah workshop her new show. In the words of Gloria Steinem (the featured guest at tonight’s show), “Sarah carries the world inside her.” Improv and art intersect with humanity and politics in beautiful, smart, funny, and fascinating ways. I cannot say enough about Sarah and this show except, GO, go go!

Listen

I’m a sucker for string instruments, cellos, violins, violas, basses, harps, and the banjo. I was first introduced to banjo music by the father of my childhood best friend. My friend would go on to play the banjo herself (and amazingly, I might add) when she grew up. Because of that early exposure, banjo music has always held a special, warm little place in my heart. More recently, I was working on a movie where one of our actors was quite the banjo player. He played a few songs off his new album one day. This track, Banana Banjo, is my favorite from his album entitled The Crow: New Songs For the Five-String Banjo. He also plays a mean Foggy Mountain Breakdown:

Four banjo songs in one post! Awesome!

Read

I’m in the middle of reading musician (and fellow Chelsea resident) Rosanne Cash‘s memoir, Composed.

I first read Rosanne Cash’s words in the NY TimesMeasure For Measure blog, before I had heard any of her or her family’s music. It’s an odd thing to read a singer/songwriter and not hear them first, but something in her words and the way she talked about the act of composing a song made me know, instinctively, I would like her work. I’ve always been fascinated by the songwriting and composition process, but I had found it hard to understand or connect with the explanations some musicians gave in interviews. It either seemed to be too general or too insider-y. Cash’s posts on Measure changed that. She was eloquent and insightful and demystified the process for the layperson — without talking down to them. It was the first time I felt as if I was inside the mind of a musician. It was a transporting experience. When the NY Times retired Measure For Measure, Cash’s music helped fill the void — and following her on Twitter helps, too — but it has been great to read her words again. Her beautiful prose and descriptions are, at times, reminiscent of Victorian poetry. I can’t wait to turn the page, but I also don’t want it to end.

If Rosanne Cash’s next book is written in Austen-ian dialogue and features pictures of vintage teacups, I think my book life would be complete.

P.S. For those of you waiting to read about my efforts to retrace the steps of Raymond Enders’ 1914-1924 diaries, I’ll be posting an update on Thursday. Stay tuned!

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Monday’s Watch, Listen, Read

Watch

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.

Listen

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.

Read

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.