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Clip: 12 Christmas Trees That Will Blow Your Mind

20 Dec

Burnside published my art post “12 Christmas Trees That Will Blow Your Mind.”

…Because nothing says Christmas like cats?

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Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!

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I’m Hosting a Free Writing Workshop Tonight

5 Dec

writers

Want feedback on your writing? I’ll be co-hosting a writing workshop with another publishing industry professional and a novelist tonight at the Redeemer offices. It’s free and open to all. Just register here and bring one to two pages of your original writing (any genre) for peer critique.

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Can’t make it to that event? Find my upcoming readings and workshops here.

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Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!

I’m Giving a Free Reading Tonight at KGB Bar

2 Nov

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I’m reading at KGB Bar tonight! I’m super excited. I’ve been to a few readings here before, and it’s got a killer atmosphere. Not only that, but check out the impressive lineup:

With Professors:

Wang Ping

Miguel Algarin

Nancy Mercado

Carlos Manuel Rivera

Julie Patton

Everton Sylvester

At 6:30pm Professor Cornelius Eady reads and perform with his Rough Magic band’s guitarist Charlie Rauh and Concetta Abbate on the violin

And poets reading with or without acoustic musicians:
Carl Hancock Rux
Jeff Wright
Brian Omni Dillon
Ronnie Norpel
Susan Yung
Kate Levin
Sarah Sarai
Stephanie Nikolopoulos
R! on verse acoustic guitar & harmonicas

Und singing in German und mit monologue:
Leigh Martha Klinger

I’m listed as a poet, and I do in fact write poetry, but I was planning on reading an excerpt from Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” Specifically, I plan on reading about Kerouac’s Greek connection, his Lowell friend Sebastian Sampas.

The event starts at 6 and is free and open to the general public.

KGB Bar is on 85 East 4th Street (near 2nd Avenue)
New York, New York 10003

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Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!

Recap from My Reading at Jason Harrod’s Album Launch

2 Oct

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Do you mind if I tell you about my reading with Jason Harrod, even though it happened a few weeks ago? I know it’s waaaaay overdue but I still want to share it with you because it was a fun event and I was happy to see some of you there.

So I get to Space 38|39 a bit early and, as any bibliophile would do, I spend my time browsing the bookshelves. And look what I spy on the shelves! Do you see it? The original scroll version of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road! Providence, right?!

I actually read the same passage from the book I coauthored with Paul Maher Jr., Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” as the one I read with David Amram. Someone recorded it so I may have video in the future to show you from the reading, but in the meantime you can see me reading it with Amram here. I selected this particular passage because Jason had asked me to read something about wrestling with God, and here Paul and I tell about when Kerouac felt God wanted to have a few words with him and paid penance for watching a bullfight. It’s actually a pretty gruesome passage, so I always feel awkward reading it, but I think it’s an important passage. It speaks a lot to the way we try to reconcile our actions to God, and it demonstrates Kerouac’s softer, sensitive side.

I was invited to read a second piece and chose an old personal essay I had written. Jason joked with the audience that most of his songs were about God, girls, and the road, and it fit in perfectly with my writing. My first piece was about Kerouac’s road trip, but my second one was about my own road trip, where I met a woman who talked to me about God. The essay I read was called “Man Cannot Live on Bread Alone,” and it’s an early piece that Burnside Writers Collective published. You can read it here.

I made Jason play guitar as I read, and it was beautiful. I love collaborating with other people, and he’s a super talented musician. You can get Jason Harrod’s new album, Highliner, here.

Paul and Bets also performed, and they were so adorable. They’re this amazingly good-looking couple that look like they should be on TV, and they sang songs that transported us from the grime of New York City to the quaintness of the South. And you guys! They whistled! Oh it was too hipster cute.

Anyway, after the show this woman comes up to me, and starts saying her name and how I may not remember her but…. And I was like of course I remember you! It was a woman I used to work with and whom I actually met with on a regular basis right before the publishing division at the company shut down. She and another woman had been a  blessing on my life in dealing with work and life and the transition with the company, but whom over the course of the past few years I had lost contact with. It was such a surprise and so nice to see her. She had no idea when she came to Jason’s album release that I would even be there, so we were both surprised!

Anyway, New York City is a small world full of wonder. It was a great honor to get to read at Jason’s album release party and to have so many friends show up to support it and to run into a few I wasn’t even expecting to see!

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Burning Furiously Beautiful is now available as an ebook! You can download your copy here.

See You Tonight at the Album Release Party

13 Sep

Harrod

Just a reminder that I’ll be reading TONIGHT at Jason Harrod’s album release party!

Here are the essentials:::

When: September 13 @ 7:30pm

Where: IAM (International Art Movement), located at 38 West 39th Street, 3rd Floor, NYC.

Cost: There’s a $10 suggested donation. Wine, beer, and hors d’oeuvres will be available.

Bonus: Musicians Paul and Bets will also be performing.

 

I’ll be reading from Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” which I’m coauthoring with prolific biographer Paul Maher Jr.

I’ll also be reading a personal essay about a road trip I took across the country. The essay was published by Burnside Writers Collective, a website founded by Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz) and Jordan Green.

Both of the stories I’ll be sharing about feeling beat, down and out, yet still searching, wrestling, clinging to God.

Hope to see you there!

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Also, save the date: Thursday, September 19, at 6pm, I’ll be in conversation with Tim Z. Hernandez, author of the beautiful book Manana Means Heaven, at La Casa Azul in Spanish Harlem.

I’ll post on that next week, but in the meantime you can find out more in Appearances.

I’m Reading at Jason Harrod’s Album Launch!

10 Sep

Harrod

Jason Harrod invited me to read at the release for his new album Highliner on Friday, September 13. I’m super excited to help him celebrate his third album’s launch. Musicians Paul and Bets will also be performing.

He asked me to read something related to wrestling with God or faith through hard times. Oh, the stories I could tell…!

The event starts at 7:30pm at IAM (International Art Movement ~ 38 West 39th Street, 3rd Floor, NYC). There’s a $10 suggested donation. Wine, beer, and hors d’oeuvres will be available.

Hope to see you there!

 

Find out about past and upcoming readings in Appearances.

 

Continue reading

Lou Reed, Anne Waldman, Hettie Jones, and Others Celebrate Allen Ginsberg’s FIRST BLUES

16 Jan

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Image via Housing Works

If you’ve never heard Allen Ginsberg read “Howl,” you can’t grasp its full intensity. Ginsberg has one of those voices you can’t shake out of your head, a voice you could hear once and then ten years later still recognize. It’s even but possessive, sucking you into the inner crevices of the poet’s mind and locking you in.

This evening at 7, Housing Works is hosting a musical soiree for the reissue of Ginsberg’s First Blues: Rags, Ballads, Harmonium Songs, Chanteys & Come-All-Ye’s. Ginsberg was a connector, a person who liked to introduce people and make things happen for them. As such, he had many friends and collaborators. Among those who will be celebrating this night of poetry and song include:

Here’s a bit about First Blues from Housing Works:

The work was originally released as a double LP back in 1983, and as a CD in 2006.  Produced by legend John Hammond Sr., this record of songs is a collection of studio sessions from 1971, 1976, and 1981 and included the likes of Bob Dylan, Arthur Russell, David Mansfield, Happy Traum, David Amram, Steven Taylor and Peter Orlovksy. To commemorate this reissue, a limited run of 500 seven track vinyl that mimics the original style down to the newspaper insert will be available that night and online.

Housing Works puts on nerdilcious events.  There was, for instance, the epic reading of Moby-Dick.
They’re also advocates for those living with HIV/AIDS. They’re located at 126 Crosby Street  in Manhattan.

The event is also hosted by Ginsberg Recordings (a collaboration of Ginsberg’s Estate and Esther Creative Group), VitaCoco, and Warby Parker (after all, it’s hard to picture Ginsberg without picturing glasses). 

Welcome to Beat Week!

12 Dec

The people behind the On the Road film are uniting a community of angel-headed hipsters. They’ve organized lots of fun activities leading up to the release of the film in the States. Welcome to Beat Week!

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Those of us who are passionate about Jack Kerouac’s literature may cringe at the use of the word “beatnik” and the commercialism of the events–the supper club event costs $95 and is a far cry from the cafeteria food Kerouac typically described in his writing; I’m not sure what haircuts have to do with the book or the film adaptation of On the Road and I’m pretty sure Kerouac wouldn’t have been able to afford the prices there–but perhaps these are simply fun events that will inspire a new generation to check out Kerouac’s book for themselves to see what the buzzzzzz is all about. And I must say, the chance to see Jose Rivera and Walter Salles in person is too good to pass up!

What do you think: Is this crass commercialism or an inspired way to engage the Millennial Generation? Is Jack Kerouac finally getting his due or are we headed into Maynard G. Krebs territory?

Recap — with Photos! — of David Amram Reading

10 Sep

 

When musician David Amram introduced me before I read with him at Cornelia Street Cafe on September 3, 2012, he very generously said people should pay attention because one day they’d see me on television.  To me, though, reading with David Amram was a much bigger deal than being on television.  There are countless television shows, but there is only one David Amram.  While there are many fantastic musicians and writers out there whom I’d be honored to read with, there are few who hold such a special place in forming my creative identity as Amram does.

I first became acquainted with Amram through studying Jack Kerouac when I was just a teenager.  I was enamored with his improvised performance as Mezz McGillicuddy in the 1957 Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie film Pull My Daisy.  In fact, this photograph, featuring Larry Rivers, Jack Kerouac, David Amram, Allen Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso, who all collaborated on the film, is probably my all-time favorite photograph of the poets, writers, and artists associated with the Beat Generation.  It seems to so purely capture their friendship: just a couple of people hanging out at a cafe, maybe talking about the arts, or maybe just drinking coffee late into the night and enjoying each other’s company.

Although it was literature that introduced me to Amram, his music fascinated me.  Here was a musician who was more than just skillful.  Amram is an innovator.  He’s someone who experiments, improvises, blends genres, captivates.  He is, quite simply, mesmerizing to watch and listen to.

Through reading biographies on Kerouac and also reading Amram’s own biographies, I came to discover the jazz-poetry readings Amram and Kerouac began doing in the Village in 1957.  These were improvised sets, requiring each to masterfully foresee and adapt to changing tempos and moods in each other’s works.  These jazz-poetry collaborations captured my imagination, challenging my view of art and the way in which it’s created, the musicality of words, and the role of collaboration, improvisation, and performance in literature.  As I read about the collaborations in musty library books, forty-some-odd years after they’d taken place, I envisioned what it must’ve been like to be in the crowd at a painter’s loft or at the Circle in the Square.  Did the people there realize they were part of history?

In 2001, I had the opportunity to ask Amram just that when I interviewed him for some research I was doing at the time.  I sat enthralled, clinging to his every word, as he told me about all the places he used to hang out at in New York, about collaborating with Kerouac, and about how the term “Beat Generation” is just a marketing term that people later attached to the individual artists who each create unique works.  As he talked, answering all of my questions and never rushing me, and later as I read another biography of  his, I realized that Amram is the real deal — a creative genius and also a beatific individual, an artist who inspires and encourages.

Amram has been someone whom I’ve long admired, both on an artistic and a personal level.  Reading about those 1957 jazz-poetry readings he did with Jack Kerouac, I never imagined that one day I would have the opportunity to read the book I’m writing on Jack Kerouac with him.  When my former editor suggested we attend Amram’s show at Cornelia Street Cafe in the Village, I excitedly said yes.  A few days later, I had to email him back to say Amram had invited me to read with him.  It was completely surreal.

The September 3, 2012, show was completely sold out.  I had some friends who were turned away at the door.  Special thanks to Cornelia Street Cafe’s Robin Hirsch and the staff for hosting the reading and for doing such an excellent job in organizing the event.  I read a short selection about Kerouac’s time in Mexico from Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, the book I’m co-authoring with Paul Maher, Jr.  It was really exciting because author Larry Closs and painter Jonathan Collins, both of whom I met through the Burning Furiously Beautiful Facebook page, were in the audience.  Poet and producer RA Araya, who has been hugely supportive of my work and whose birthday bash was the premiere reading from Burning Furiously Beautiful, was also there, and graciously provided the photography you see here.  I had some other family and friends there as well and am so appreciative of their support.  It means more to me than most people realize.

As soon as my videographer, Liz Koenig, sends the video, I’ll post it so you can hear me reading with David Amram and his band.  The band, consisting of Amram, Kevin Twigg, and John de Witt played so beautifully — even more of a feat, considering Twigg had hurt his hand before the show.  The music was haunting and fit the piece that I read so perfectly.  I wanted to remain present in the moment, to really hear what they were playing, and savor the moment.  It was one of those times in life that I wanted to tuck into my heart and cherish.

 

 

David Amram, Stephanie Nikolopoulos, Joe Pacheco

Stephanie Nikolopoulos, David Amram, RA Araya

Videos from Premiere Reading from Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road

31 Aug

Here’s video from the very first reading from Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, cowritten with biographer Paul Maher Jr.  This is the reading that took place at The Sidewalk Cafe, to celebrate poet RA Araya’s birthday, and the awesome band I collaborated with is called flashbackpuppy.  Not only was this my first reading from the book — it was also my first time reading with a live band!  We didn’t rehearse the collaboration at all.  I literally met them for the first time when I got up on the stage.

Video via Liz Koenig

Video via Fred Rodriguez

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Don’t forget to come out this Monday night, September 3, at 8:30, to  Cornelia Street Cafe (29 Cornelia St., NYC).  Just steps from where Jack Kerouac and David Amram did their jazz-poetry readings in 1957, I’ll be reading about Kerouac while David Amram plays!  If you’ve ever caught any of his performances, you know that Amram is not only a phenomenal musician but also a great storyteller.

Amram & Co. includes David Amram, Kevin Twigg, John de Witt, and Adam Amram.  $10 cover, plus $10 minimum.

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9/2/12: That’s Jon Martinez on bass, Patrick Conlon on drums, Peter Beckett guitar playing in the videos.