Just a quick reminder about tonight's Boundless Tales reading in Queens. The listed time is 7:30 pm, but if you're making the trip out I happen to know that the event won't actually start until 8:00 pm, and that I'm the last of the five readers in the lineup. That's not to give you an excuse for showing up late, but, you know, it's a bit of a trek from the city so you don't have to kill yourself to make it there on the dot.

Thursday, April 17th, 7:30pm
Boundless Tales
@ Waltz-Astoria
23-14 Ditmars Blvd.
Astoria, Queens, NY 11105

(N/Q train at Astoria-Ditmars Blvd)



Boundless Tales features themed personal essays, the theme this month being "I Dominated/I Was Dominated." My fellow readers include Michelle Augello-Page, Sarah Bonifacio, Danny Herrera and Joan Willette. See you there!


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
I keep forgetting to mention this, but I'll be reading with the Boundless Tales reading series this coming Thursday evening in Queens. Boundless Tales features themed personal essays, the theme this month being "I Dominated/I Was Dominated."

Thursday, April 17th, 7:30pm
Boundless Tales
@ Waltz-Astoria
23-14 Ditmars Blvd.
Astoria, Queens, NY 11105

(N/Q train at Astoria-Ditmars Blvd)



My fellow readers include Michelle Augello-Page, Sarah Bonifacio, Danny Herrera and Joan Willette. This is my first public reading since moving back to NYC from Chicago, so I hope you'll make the trek and check it out.


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
Brooklyn-bound N train, Thursday evening.
Leaving Ditmars Boulevard,
End of the line,
He slouches through the doors from the next car
Like a gunslinger into a quiet saloon.
Angry and blond under a straw fedora,
Jaunty beach towel around the shoulders
Of his Cuban shirt,
Belligerent hips thrust forward,
Hand jammed down the front of his
Oversized blue swim trunks
Like he's just waiting
To unload on the first cocksucker
Who looks at him funny.

No one gives him the satisfaction.

Where's he coming from, this Lord of Flatbush,
This Warrior coming out to play?
There's no beach at Ditmars,
Not unless you just swam over from Rikers.
It's ninety minutes to Coney Island
And dusk will soon be falling.
A hundred minutes, let's say, since humiliation
Sent him fleeing the sand and cotton candy
To the farthest corner of the earth:
Astoria, Queens.

But the gravity of betrayal on an otherwise
Perfect afternoon draws him back,
Back to an abandoned beach blanket for two
In the shadow of a graffiti-tagged lifeguard tower.
Flopped in a plastic seat, legs splayed,
Glaring and helpless,
He burns to curse the heavens,
But all the God was prayed out of him as a child.
Or is he still a child,
Hand down his pants
Fondling his balls like worry beads,
Like a long-dormant rosary?
Hail Mary full of grace.
Spectacles, testicles, wallet, watch me,
No, don't watch me,
What're you lookin' at anyway?

Ninety minutes to Coney Island,
End of the line,
To take back what's his—
Or, more likely,
Kick sand in the face of the moon.


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
It seems absurd for me to say that I wish we were in New York City right now, with Hurricane Sandy bearing down, but we are definitely thinking of all our many friends there and all over the East Coast and hoping everyone stays dry and safe.


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
Our friend Ali is on TV again. John Klima points me toward this clip from Jamie's American Road Trip, which just recently starting airing in the States. It features Jamie Oliver traveling from Manhattan to Queens to learn Egyptian cooking from Ali El Sayed of the celebrated Kabab Cafe:



(The actual arrival in Queens comes at about 3:28, and you can click here to jump straight there.)

I dragged a very willing Mr. Klima to Kabab Cafe back in 2008, when we both happened to be in New York, and a memorable night it was. If you find yourself in New York and want to get off the beaten path for a culinary adventure, the address is 25-12 Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens. Tell Ali that Bill from Chicago sent you.


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
Our good friend Edie Nadelhaft (one of whose paintings hangs on our dining room wall) is participating tonight in Changing the World Through Art, an auction and gala to benefit the Time In Children's Arts Initiative.

New Yorkers, please consider showing up and supporting the gala! It takes place at Haunch of Venison, 550 W. 21st St., from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. (Buy tickets here.)

Edie says:

TimeIn is a unique outreach program that introduces children from some of the most underserved and impoverished neighborhoods in NYC to the arts through activities such as hands on classes, sketching at museums and galleries and listening to opera.

Please make this the first of your 2012 tax deductible donations and enjoy hors d'oeuvres, bespoke cocktails and a live auction of works including my own Cherry Biter No. 12 as well as works by Takashi Murakami, William Wegman, Nick Cave and many more!

Edie-Nadelhaft-Cherry-Biter-12.jpg


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill

29

Nov. 21st, 2011 09:03 am
So there's this meme going around on Facebook where you give someone an age and they write about their life that year. I was given 29.

29 )
shunn: (Forehead)
You Are Here - Roosevelt Island - New York City

you are here

the southern tip of roosevelt island
east river easing by to either side
beside your wife astride the bikes
you rode like phantoms through
the hushed streets of queens
over the red bridge at 36th ave

you are here

inside the four mile ring of the
concentric circles of immediacy
and inverse kneejerk jingoism
the two towers at their center
their sides pierced by spears
gushing ash into waterclear sky

you are here

holding hands in the swelling
congregation of silent cyclists
a u.n. of observers stunned and numb
distant sirens the only sounds
besides the murmuring river
or the murmurs might be yours

you are not here

to see or hear the first collapse
you're riding back over the bridge
retracing miles unwinding the clock
restitching time with no success
at home your t.v. sees just one tower
a dustblinded eye about to close

you are not there


originally read at Tuesday Funk, September 6, 2011 [video]
shunn: (Lavender Mist)
No, I don't mean dancers smoking pot. I mean dance choreographed on an indoor set of living grass and trees. It's "Wooden," by our good friend Laura Peterson (with sets by Jon Pope), and you lucky New Yorkers can see Part 2 at Here Arts Center tonight and tomorrow night only. Please go, since we can't! Tickets are $15.

Laura's choreography always strikes me as supremely logical, whether rooted in organic forms or technological ideas or a hybrid of both, and entirely superior to the hackneyed vocabulary that seems to compose much of modern dance. Here's a link to a video of one of the improvisations that led to "Wooden" to whet your appetite:

VIDEO: Improvisation at MOMA, 2/14/2010


See more of Laura's videos here and here. And here's a past favorite of mine, just because:

VIDEO: Electrolux (2008) )
This morning,
with a high of seventy degrees in the forecast,
amazing for a November in Chicago,
I drove the dog to Warren Park.
That's where we go for a special treat
instead of our usual neighborhood walk,
because the squirrel chasing is most excellent,
and there are never any cops there to harass you,
a scofflaw walking his dog off its leash.

We like to run up the steps of the sledding hill,
which a parks department sign actually proclaims "Sledding Hill,"
and then charge down the slope,
after which we make our way around the skirt of the hill
where the squirrels rummage through the leaves
like so many bargain hunters.
We crunch crunch crunch across the orange carpet,
and if we're lucky we spot a squirrel far enough out
in the open that Ella can chase it full-bore
back to its tree.
She has never once caught one.
Or at any rate never killed one.

Next we like to follow the cinder jogging path
all the way around the little nine-hole golf course embedded
like an off-center yolk
in the albumen of the park,
and that's exactly what we did this morning.
I walked in the leaves at the side of the path,
trying to encourage Ella to do the same,
but unless she has a rodent, lagomorph or marsupial in her sights
she prefers to walk on pavement. Go figure.

We were on the south side of the golf course,
the tall chain-link fence meant to protect us from flying balls
off to our left,
when I saw two men coming our way along the path,
youngish men—younger than I, at any rate—
neatly bearded men dressed in long robes the color of wet sand.
It was already warm enough out that I was regretting
the heavy coat I wore over my hooded sweatshirt.
I snapped my fingers imperiously,
calling for Ella to return to my side,
to leave the path and get out of the way
of the two youngish men engaged in animated talk.

Infidel dog

Ella is a good dog, shaggy-bearded herself,
and she mostly listens. But I know that Muslims
are afraid of dogs, or wary, or I think I know this,
having watched many women in headscarves
whisper urgently to their children to stay out
of our path. At least,
I assumed these men were Muslims. I admit I don't know
the taxonomy of robes and caps and beards.
They could have been Coptic Christians or even Jains for all I knew.
At any rate, they didn't have turbans on
so I knew they weren't Sikhs.
But despite my commands, Ella didn't leave the path
entirely. She shifted toward me, trotting along
the very edge of the pavement, but didn't leave it altogether.
"Ella," I hissed. "Come." She spared me only a sidelong glance,
certain she had already obeyed me to the extent required.
Letter of the law.
I only wanted to be a good neighbor.
The men were yards away.
Dogs are not consistent with Islam.
I braced for whatever.

It's not that I thought anything worse
than embarrassment might transpire,
but my dog does have a history.
She grew up in Queens, and she still has some of that attitude.
We socialized her with people pretty quickly,
my wife and I, but that didn't prevent her from
barking her selectively bred head off at any unfamiliar creatures
we encountered on the street,
ones with strange colors, shapes or motions.
Woman in full burqas, like shambling mounds of midnight.
People in big hats.
People on crutches or in wheelchairs.
Black people--a sad reflection of the diversity
of visitors to our apartment.
The worst was the time she lost it at an old black woman
in a wheelchair
in front of a funeral parlor
on Astoria Boulevard near the elevated tracks.
As we dragged her in a wide, apologetic berth
as far from the frightened woman
as possible.
As the woman's decked-out younger companions yelled at us.
As if we'd trained our dog to hate old black women in wheelchairs.
That was the worst.

But it's not as if Ella has never met a Muslim man before.
We used to walk her up Steinway Street in Queens,
right past all the Middle Eastern restaurants and pastry shops
and bookstores, and the men's social clubs with the curvy hookahs,
and even past the mosque.
Some people avoided us, though we never walked her
up the middle of the sidewalk or in such a way
as to block anyone's path.
We didn't mean it as a provocation
but more as a statement, an exercise of our rights
to free association, an exercise in multiculturalism.
And not everyone avoided us. One time
a group of three thirtyish Egyptians stopped us
as we walked Ella up the far edge of the sidewalk.
One of them with a reedy mustache and a look of childlike wonder
asked if our dog was friendly. "Yes," we said.
He asked if he could pet her. "Of course," we said.
We made her sit.
Ella could care less about most strangers, but she doesn't like
surprises, so we told the man to reach out slowly.
His fingertips barely grazed the hair on the top of her head,
while Ella sat patiently and yawned.
"Good dog," we said, while the man straightened up
with a smile as wide as the world on his face.
You could see him already composing the story in his head
that he would tell his friends,
about how he petted a dog
and didn't even get struck by lightning.
He'll be dining out on that one for years.

We loved that neighborhood for reasons like that meeting
on the street. We loved it for our friend Ali,
who would never touch Ella because he was cooking
in his little restaurant, but who always had a kind word for her,
and still asks about her when we visit.
I love it for the times I stayed out all night drinking
with Ali, who knew everyone, for the times he Virgiled me
into the social club across the street from his restaurant,
where I smoked shisha with the Egyptian men and listened
to monologues on history and hieroglyphics,
on all the important things that Egypt invented, or did first.
Our travels in Cairo and Luxor and Petra and Amman,
talking Islam and politics and Christianity
with virtual strangers in coffee shops and cafés,
sometimes seemed the inevitable endpoint of our years
in that neighborhood, which we loved.

What I'm trying to get at is, I don't hate Muslims,
and I especially don't want any Muslim to think I hate Muslims,
or that my dog hates Muslims.
Which she doesn't.
The two men on the path had nearly drawn even with us,
and Ella still hadn't moved off the pavement.
But there was enough room for her and the nearest man to pass
each other without touching, which they did.
"Good morning, sir," he said to me with a cheerful trill,
his face like a gibbous moon, beaming.
"Good morning, how are you today?" I said with a smile
as wide as Lake Michigan,
a smile trying a little too hard,
wanting to be seen as a friend, not a fraud,
and reflect the genuine shiver of camaraderie I felt.
"Very well, thank you," he said, dipping his head.
He, the respectful, non-threatening immigrant,
me, the welcoming, tolerant native,
both playing the part of open-minded, ideal world citizen.
Maybe he was born here, I don't know, and maybe I was not,
as far as he knew.
No matter.
We both still played our proper roles—
roles still, even if based on a true story,
inspired by real events.
I might wish for a deeper connection,
a meeting of the minds,
but at least we all passed on our leisurely errands
without baring our teeth,
without drawing our guns,
and I can live with that.

Ella, more alien than us all,
paid none of our human posturing the slightest mind.
While Laura and I were in New York City about a month ago, we were introduced to a drink called the "pickle back"—a shot of Irish whiskey followed by a pickle-brine chaser. Yes, I was dubious too, but it was the best new drink I'd tasted in ages. Of course, the pickle juice needs to be of high quality. You can't just use the liquid from a bottle of Vlasic dill chips.

We first experienced the pickle back at Sweet Afton in Queens ([livejournal.com profile] ecmyers was there!), so imagine our surprise when at Whiskey Tavern in Chinatown the next evening we found two varieties of pickle back on the menu! It's apparently a growing trend in bars in the know, as detailed in this New York Post article:

Give Pickle Juice a Shot

Time to invest in cucumber futures?

(To my Blue Heaven peeps, don't lump this tasty treat in with the horror that is Gherkinbräu. Here, of course, the pickle taste is deliberate.)
shunn: (Forehead)
Fans of the monthly New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series in Manhattan are used to gathering for good food, good whiskey, and good beer at Ryan Maguire's Ale House, on Cliff Street near the South Street Seaport. Unfortunately, Ryan Maguire's was destroyed by a fire early this morning:



It's great that no one was hurt, but this is a real loss. It was a warm, welcoming place, and I always looked forward to heading there with Jim Freund and a big, interesting, varied crowd after readings while Laura and I still lived in New York. I'm glad I had a chance to go there one last time, in January, when Paul Witcover and I read together at NYRSF. RIP.
Hi, NYC friends! Yes, it's a last-minute surprise to me too, but I'll be reading with the excellent Paul Witcover THIS COMING TUESDAY EVENING, January 5th, as part of the New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series at the South Street Seaport Museum. Doors open 6:30 pm, readings begin 7:00 pm. Suggested donation is $5. See below for all the details, and we hope to see you there.

Please note, if you haven't been to a NYRSF reading at the Seaport lately, that the location is slightly different than it used to be....

Event details )
I consciously realized something this evening that has been nagging at me for a few weeks now, which is that tomorrow morning, when the new episode of my podcast goes live, there's going to be a line on the front page of my web site that reads "September 11." I'm not looking forward to seeing that.

It helped this evening that Laura and I had a good friend over, and that date was one of the subjects we chatted about on the back deck amidst the wreckage of banana daiquiris, white Russians, and Tomintoul 27yo served neat with water back. I was glad to hear that I'm not the only one who gets so angry that he has to withdraw from conversations of the sort that I had a few weeks ago, when a random stranger at a bar I like to frequent on Friday afternoon tried to tell me that the American government was behind 9/11. (It's not exactly a counterargument, but my favorite statistic to trot out in such circumstances is that Manhattan [a/k/a New York County], the very borough that was attacked by foreign nationals, voted 80% for Al Gore in 2004.)

Anyway, if you have some time, browse over to my survivor registry tomorrow, read some of the posts from that confusing day, and try to remember what it was like to feel the world changing around us.
As a fan of the band The Negro Problem, I was delighted to pick up the following throwaway tidbit from a New Yorker blog post by John Colapinto:

{Spike] Lee's next excursion into the question of race in America is his filmed version of "Passing Strange," the remarkable musical by [Negro Problem leader] Stew. I watched Lee shooting this production last June, in the Belasco Theatre in New York. The movie will be released, Lee tells me, in late August, at the IFC Center, in Manhattan.  [full post]
I learn from Stew's website that it's also been picked up by PBS for a Great Performances airing in 2010, and possibly will have a theatrical run this fall.

Having missed the run of Passing Strange in New York, I'm glad there are going to be multiple opportunites to see it.
My scotch-loving friends in New York will want to hear about an email I just received from the Brandy Library. (Yes, I can't bring myself to unsubscribe from their mailing list.) The 16th Annual Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza is coming to the Roosevelt Hotel on Thursday, May 7. Find all the information you need here. And if you go, knock one back for me.
I've mentioned this recently, but just as a reminder to all you lucky folks in New York City, go see our good friend Laura Peterson's new show Forever at Dance New Amsterdam, this weekend. It's still running, tonight through Sunday. We usually come to town to see every new Laura Peterson show, but this time we're unable, so you have to represent.

This is a bit of what Dance View Times had to say about Forever:

"Modern Dance is Modern Art." That's what Laura Peterson tells her dance students, and it's a teaching she follows rigorously in her company's new work, "Forever." This is dance strictly as a visual object, the elements being four dancers in four colors, moving on a white oval floor, among four faux Grecian columns and a mirrored rear wall. The set is vaguely reminiscent of the modernist paintings of Dali or de Chirico, but the dancing itself is even more abstract. Always a minimalist, Peterson makes art by strictly limiting her choices. In "Forever" there's no emoting, no acting or miming, not even any touching. It's just snippets of movement, driven by sound....

Not incidentally, "Forever" is a pleasure to watch. You can take it simply as a kaleidoscope, with the sound score acting as the engine to turn the lens and set off a new series of changes every two minutes or so.... The point of "Forever" could be that when human beings hear sound in rhythm, they have to move, and that's what makes the river run.  [full review]
We've made some of you come with us to her shows before, so you already know to expect a pure spectacle you wouldn't expect from modern dance. Here's a sample, exactingly performed to the music of Lumberob:

Forever video )

Forever

Jan. 27th, 2009 10:57 am
Hey, all you lucky folks in New York City! Get tickets and go see my good friend Laura Peterson's new show Forever at Dance New Amsterdam, running February 18-22. Here's a sample, exactingly performed to the music of Lumberob:


[direct link to video]

And all you lucky folks in Chicago, be sure to see Laura Peterson with Asimina Chremos in Verbatim at Links Hall, running February 6-8. Two stunningly talented dancers in an evening-length duet.
I loved this LCD Soundsystem song even before I saw the video, but now I love it even more.

The Flame

Nov. 25th, 2008 07:44 am
We had a fine, fine time at the SFWA mill-and-swill last night, saw tons of great people. But what we appreciated most about the evening was that when we got back to our hotel—not even drunk!—and found that room service wasn't answering its phone even though it will still supposed to be operating, we just walked around the corner to one of those all-night Greek diners and ordered a couple of gyro platters. Midnight dining in midtown, man. It really hit the spot.

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