Tag Archives: watch

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

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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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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.

Monday’s Watch, Listen, Read

Watch

So you want to write a novel …

This video encapsulates it all.

Favorite quote: ‎”It’s Science-Fiction crossed with Chick-Lit, crossed with Literary Fiction.”

Maybe I need to stop going to book parties …

Listen

I know what you’re thinking. This song is incredibly random. It’s coming at you from summer 2007. I remember laying  with my sister on narrow beds in a old world hotel in Rome, watching this video. It was 107 degrees outside. If we sat still, we could feel the central air-conditioning blowing into our room through a tiny little vent. Apart from BBC, the only channel we somewhat understood was MTV Italy. They played this song on a continuous loop. (Guys, remember when American MTV played music videos? Like, when it was the reason the station was created?) My sister loved the fact Italian MTV played back-to-back music videos. It was a novelty compared to the Real World, MTV reality show network she was used to. I was amused by the fact an Italian pop star recorded this song in Spanish and it was a hit in Italy, but not in Spain. After our afternoon of MTV-watching, we started hearing this song everywhere; while walking in the Trastevere, waiting on a two-hour long line for the Vatican tour, on the train to Florence, and in the airport as we boarded a plane (along with a shackled prisoner) to Sicily.

When we returned to the states, Alexandra and I would catch each other humming this song for months after our trip, a sheepish smile crossing our faces when we called the other out on it. This song was a musical souvenir that bonded us in a land where we could only communicate with each other, where words ended in vowels, MTV played music videos, and everyone hummed along.

Read

I’m starting Steve Martin’s latest book this week. I attended a reading and Q&A he did at Barnes & Noble (Union Square) University last week and it blew me away. His prose writing achieves greater heights with each book he writes. Even if he wasn’t Steve Martin (genius and master of pretty much every medium he chooses) I would still be in awe of writing and exquisite sentence structure. An Object of Beauty takes place in the New York art world of the 1990s through to today. I can’t wait to get lost in the word canvas Martin paints in this book.

P.S. If, like me, you’re on the Twitter, you should be participating in #FridayReads