Burnside posted an essay of mine called “In the Bathtub with a Jazz Musician and a Beat Poet.” It’s a true story.
I went to brunch at Ovelia in Astoria with my sister and cousins when they visited. Ovelia is one of my favorite Greek restaurants in New York. I love their modern take on traditional Greek foods! And it’s got a great funky vibe going on with the decor.
I had such a blast reading at The Penny Farthing in the East Village on June 18. The event was hosted by C3 Storytellers, and the crowd was one of the best I’ve ever had. The audience had so much energy, and the other performers were absolutely dynamic and thoughtful.
One of the other performers just happened to be Lamont Hiebert, of the band Ten Shekel Shirt, whom I’d seen perform years ago. He’s also the co-founder of Love146, a nonprofit working to end child sex slavery. He shared some stories about working with survivors.
The last person to present was poet Steven Bono Jr., who did a mashup of everyone’s work. Since his poem so perfectly captured the spirit of the evening, I asked if I could reprint it, and he said yes:
A piece applicable for the despicable last minute poet that I have become. I think halfway through my dungenouse ahi tuna bar-room salad I thought, “I should write about…tonight.”
The curtain draws on an old grey toothed Greek woman fondling your brothers…well you know.(___) So the journey started off hilariously and moved to a Janis Joplin show stoppin’ mysterious girl whom I don’t know so sorry,(___) but next it was a large profound thought from a more miniature man who’s plan is to live in some house next to a highway, sounds a tad more homeless to me.(Josh Colon) Like Soni and Cher, or the ying to joshs Yang Miriam came to flutter love filled words of 2 birds with one stone cold poem.
Show em your souls Mims, it’s dark side is as fascinating as the moons is. Did I forget a comic in there? oh yeah, Rodney and his fun drum jokes, if this is too offensive please don’t choke me. (said in an African dialect)
Willem tickled some ivory’s so fast and furious I thought even Tony would be proud. Mr. Big black specs was next, Sir Adam Mcdowell whom I must say has never felt more like family, I hope you feel home homes. Being a man who actually was born in Nashville you did us proud and I’m thankful to be called your friend.
Holy Moses Batman! Your wise beyond your beard and what I feared when you stood was true that my poetry is pretty lame when compared with you. But I’m thankful for your soul sewed into that page where love and age blend like a favorite red wine of mine. I couldn’t come off it as you rhymed new favorite lines of this dream-aholic. I pray for the day I get choked up at my 40 year dear buttercup. You allow me to see Henry V say “from this victory stock” that you have surely come from Josh. Fresh to death Guitar don Roni told us how to love monsters and men and taught us how to continually use a pick for an entire song and to over come fear.
She carried the key to my pad-locked and shocked aspirations for becoming an actor and now teaches me poetry- she Vel-coughed visual motion pictures containing elixers of your past and people’s healed futures. Keep writing, for it is in your fighting we onlookers drop 2 cups of hope in our hearts cookers and begin to bake destiny. Courtney I too am tiny but you are indeed mighty my fine feathered friend. High falsettos- like heavenly in tune balloons floating away in meadows that no one can reach but you. You worship God with your smile Court.
Lamont- his name in Spanish means “the mont.” A rock star founded and pounded as a foundation for the lost- tossed and torn these children born right into sin and as they are you hit your cue in for the rescue. I am a believer that you reap what you soe. Lamont May your children stand as tall for righteousness as you do, may your foundation be fueled beyond every expectation you have ever had for it and may your survivors be your descendants as numerous as the stars that they wish upon to meet you. Sam went Bam into the beyond of her career- a sultry singing buttery bouquet of HeY! Darryl barryrled through the inner soul of purpose and colleen spanned and conquered yet another medium which expands the list of reasons to be envious of her. I pray I seeze every opportunity to do the things I love, to face the fears I hate, to have grudge matches with with rough patches and to bless beloved duos with song and send them off into the sunset, humming your words.
Christine- your children including blue. Holy and whole
Josh- Round 2 blew us away. What construction workers really do in their vans.
Lamont-the bigger the battle, the more daunting the cause, the greater the party!
Looking forward to the next one!
Can you guess which part is about my story?? Haha.
Truly a fun night getting to hear and meet so many creative people. The Penny Farthing had a real intimate, chill vibe that made for a great setting.
Thanks to all of you who came out! You’re awesome!! xoxo
Last month I attended mediabistro.com’s Book Club party at Stone Creek Bar & Lounge, hosted by the always lovely Carmen Scheidel. I have so much fun every time I attend a mediabistro.com event, and May 16 was no exception. I got to catch up with various friends in the media industry, meet some new people, and hear some authors read.
The night’s readings included:
Susie DeFord reading her Brooklyn dog poetry Dog’s of Brooklyn. As it turns out, Susie got her MFA at The New School too!
Jane Hodges reading from her informative Rent Vs. Own: A Real Estate Reality Check for Navigating Booms, Busts, and Bad Advice and answering the audience’s’ questions. She said it’s not always better to own than to rent, despite the fact that many people still think home ownership is important.
Jillian Medoff reading a dramatic scene (oh how she hooked me in) from her novel I Couldn’t Love You More and sharing her experience as a writer dealing with the book publishing industry.
Here’s a picture mediabistro.com snapped of me at the event.
A few months ago my father emailed me to tell me about his new pet. In New Jersey, he tried to literally bring the ocean into our house. He kept all sorts of salt water fish, starfish, shrimp, and sea horses in huge tanks that took up the length of our living room wall. Now in Greece, he’d apparently fished an octopus out of the ocean.
Over the course of several weeks, he emailed me stories about his pet octopus’ silly antics. It was a curious octopus, always watching him. One day, though, the octopus grew despondent. No amount of feta cheese improved his happiness. My father decided it was time to release him back into the ocean.
Now you may remember that my father lives in the Peloponnesus in Greece, near where the Greek poet Arion, who sang and danced for the gods, was rescued by a pod dolphins after being kidnapped by pirates.
Currently, the Ionian Dolphin Project is studying dolphins of the non-mythological variety in a different region of Greece, the island of Kalamos. Catalan biologist Joan Gonzalvo reported on the blog that he recently witnessed an octopus attach itself on top of a, um, rather sensitive, private area of a bottlenose dolphin. With the octopus still attached, the dolphin leapt out of the sea, and the scientists got some awesome photographs.
Speaking of Catalan, don’t forget to check out the Human Tower events happening throughout New York.
Filmmaker Ram Devineni is proving to the world the beautiful complexity of human language. In On the Road with Bob Holman, he traveled the world, documenting the plight of languages headed toward extinction. In The Human Towers he picked up his suitcase again, this time to film the art-sport-poem that is castells, human towers. Castells have been recognized as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Tonight, 150 people from the Catalan’s finest castell group will attempt to build the first-ever eight-story human tower on a rooftop at 150 FIFTH (@27th Street, NYC), and YOU can witness the incredible spectacle for free. It starts at 8pm.
The Wall Street Journal has already created some buzz.
Here’s the press release:
One of the world’s most unusual and spectacular team endeavors – the Spanish region of Catalonia’s three hundred year old tradition of building multi-storey human towers called castells – will make its New York City debut on June 20 at 230 FIFTH, when the 150 member Castellers de Vilafranca will attempt a new world record by building the first eight-level castell ever assembled on a rooftop. The performance, which will also include the building of several other towers in different configurations on 230 FIFTH’s palm punctuated roof deck, will inaugurate a series of free public castell buildings throughout New York City from June 20 to 24 in honor of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center complex. Each tower will be an exercise in intense concentration, strength and balance as the bare footed participants form successively smaller tiers – resembling a human wedding cake – by climbing up the bodies of each layer to mount the shoulders of the previous tier until the tower is topped by a single 9 years old child. An almost balletic, decidedly athletic and heart-stopping feat orchestrated to the inspiring melodies of a quartet playing Catalonian music.
The series of performances will be the first by any castell team in New York City; the Castellers de Vilafranca, considered Spain’s best, have been planning for years to build in the Big Apple as a means of introducing to the United States the activity which UNESCO has recognized as being amongst the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Their trip coincides with an official visit by President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas.
The Castellers de Vilfranca will perform in Central Park and Battery Park for the Make Music NY Festival on June 21st. They will also build a human tower at the United Nations on June 22nd and are scheduling other venues throughout the city including Times Square and Brooklyn Bridge. In addition, the team will participate in the presentation of the global documentary about their passion as practiced in Catalonia, Chile and India on June 22nd at Goldcrest Studios Theater, West Village. The Human Tower is directed by Ram Devineni and Cano Rojas and distributed by Goldcrest.
The record breaking roof building of a human tower by the Castellars Vilfranca at 230 FIFTH will take place at 8:15 p.m. again at 9:30 on June 20, with several different towers created by the team between 8:20 and 10. Like all of the team’s performances in New York City, the event will be free and open. 230 FIFTH is located at 230 Fifth Avenue at the corner of 27th Street, (212) 724-4300, www.230-fifth.com. The rooftop event is supported by Barcelona’s Estrella Damm Beer.
See you there!
Branching out from writing of roses, of the myths and memories and makeup surrounding them, we turn to the Greek vegetation goddess, Persephone, also known as Kore.
The daughter of harvest-goddess Demeter and Zeus, Persephone represents the changing of the seasons. One day she was out gathering flowers with Athena, goddess of wisdom, and Artemis, goddess of wild animals, when she was abducted by the god of the underworld, Hades. There, she was tricked into eating the seeds of the pomegranate. Because she ate four juicy seeds, she was relegated to spending four months of the year in the underworld. Therefore, she is like vegetation itself, disappearing after the harvest.
In ancient Greek culture, the pomegranate was thought of as the “fruit of the dead.” In fact, according to Greek Orthodox tradition it was not an apple that Eve ate in the Garden of Eden but rather a pomegranate! Today, Greek Orthodox believers use pomegranate as an ingredient in koliva, the ritual food prepared for the memorial Divine Liturgy after a death.
Jack Kerouac once quipped back at a journalist, “I’m not a beatnik; I’m a Catholic.” Despite the Beat Generation being associated with the countercultural movement—sex, drugs, and … jazz—Kerouac’s writing so often points toward the spiritual.
Visions of Gerard describes his saint-like brother who died at age nine and touches upon life in the Catholic church in Lowell, Massachusetts. When he left home, Kerouac began exploring Buddhism. Ultimately he grew disenchanted by it, though, an experience he describes in Desolation Angels. On the Road is tinged with the idea of holiness. Check out this quote:
As we crossed the Colorado-Utah border I saw God in the sky in the form of huge gold sunburning clouds above the desert that seemed to point a finger at me and say, “Pass here and go on, you’re on the road to heaven.”
Beautiful, isn’t it? In some ways, Sal Paradise—what a name!—is on a pilgrimage. The point of the trip itself isn’t religious, but along the way Sal sees God in nature and in the act of traveling. Throughout On the Road, Kerouac writes about searching for the holy. What he finds there on the open road is the beatific—the blessings that seem contradictory to what the world says are blessings.
If you think about it, one of the earliest road trip novels is about a pilgrimage: The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer’s fourteenth-century tale has all the seedy characters one might find William S. Burroughs depicting. The pilgrims are road tripping from Southwark to the Saint Thomas Becket shrine at Canterbury Cathedral. Just like how Sal Paradise finds he has tell good stories to anyone who picks him up while hitchhiking, the cast of characters in The Canterbury Tales each tell a story along the journey.
To support the National Literacy Trust, a group of modern-day pilgrims recently reenacted The Canterbury Tales. You can read about it, see photographs, and listen to portions at the Guardian.
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I’m reading tonight at 7:00 at The Penny Farthing (103 3rd Ave., downstairs in the speakeasy), here in New York City, as part of the Storytellers event, hosted by C3.