Lusterlit in Brooklyn on te%

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Lusterlit on the West Coast and The Times

I’m in Mia’s apartment on the opposite coast.  My pajamas are the same, but I listened to a completely different set of neighbors having sex this morning (why do neighbors come in sets, like legos?), and it made me miss my lovely Bushwick neighbors.  I don’t know why it’s preferable to wake up to their sex noises as opposed to these perfectly nice strangers.  Maybe it’s just bias for the familiar.  However, I’m not here for the familiar, although I am to a degree.  The familiar that I’m here for is the playing and making of songs with my Lusterlit bandmate, Charlie Nieland.  The unfamiliar part is the West Coast.  It smells different out here.  So different.  I was just texting this morning about it with my friend, filmmaker Lisa Barnstone who is in Finland with her son as he listens to the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra rehearse what he wrote for a performance Tuesday of new work from composers who happen to be in the fifth grade. She likes the smells of San Francisco too… I was saying that I wish we could record smells like we do songs and sounds…  We could make smell-notes to ourselves.  Next iphone.  Smell symphonies… holy cow.  A whole new medium of art.  Storytelling through our noses.  Yikes.  I’m getting excited.

I’m also excited because I’m in print!  It hasn’t happened too much before.  I don’t know how I feel about it, but I suppose it doesn’t matter (how I feel).  The bottom line is, here’s the print, and the fun thing is buying the magazine at the counter at the airport and opening it up and getting to tell the cashier, “Hey!  look!  That’s me!”  And she was happy for me and impressed.  The important thing is that Bernice got a kick out of it…

Me and Bernice sharing a moment at 6:30am at JFK.
fullsizerender-11And there’s more online but here’s the spread for the Sunday NYTimes Magazine.  My friend Alison took this one.  She stills gets that delivered on the weekend.  Like it’s 1995 or something.  I like old school values too though.
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AND… look, there was a rainbow outside the book store waiting for us and our first show at ADOBE BOOKS on our LUSTERLIT Bushwick Book Club West Coast Tour!

fullsizerender-7My friend Lisa pointed out that this photo looks “fake as s***.”  That’s the filter I used–it’s called “Fake As S***” or “HDR.”  But really, a double rainbow, and it smells good here.

And I got to meet up with Mia and meet her friend Hawa who were just gorgeous and opened up and spread their gorgeous around the room until we were all filled with it and we became so good looking we didn’t recognize each other but still appreciated it and the sharing of ideas and feeling.  That’s what happens when you play songs about books.  I’m telling you.

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fullsizerender-9Find out about all our tour dates here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/907566202681474/

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RELEASE – Songs about books this WEDNESDAY at HiFi!!!!

You know, you write some songs about books, and they seem innocent enough, but then they gain life and become their own sentient beings, and they demand things like videos where all your friends jump naked into a pool.  Or they want to be played all the time and then recorded, and then they want other songs about books to hang out with and soon you have a whole album (or EP), and then that album wants to be released, so you’ve got to have art and a party.  And then they want keys to the car and they’re trying on your clothes.  It’s a spiral.. downward, upward, outward….

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You’re invited to the party–the party that songs about books wanted–on Wednesday, September 28th at HiFi in the East Village.  Producer and musician/songwriter, Charlie Nieland and I are playing as our new, lit-based duo, Lusterlit.  He’s got an incredible album of songs written for Bushwick Book Club too that begged for this party.  And we’re partying with the awesome singer/songwriter, Jessie Kilguss, who is also releasing her recording of BBC songs.  AND we’re having special guest performances from BBC contributors Sweet Soubrette, Casey Holford, Pearl Rhein and John S. Hall.  That’s the thing about songs about books–they’re very social.  They’re like 20 year olds–they’re all about their friends and hanging out.  Everybody dates everybody; it gets incestuous.  I mean, if you’ve never hung out with songs about books, you’ll see what I mean Wednesday night.  We’re all backing each other up on our songs, switching instruments and harmonies all night!  And then we’ll get pizza… metaphorically.  I’m still actually in my forties, and I’m lactose intolerant.

Here’s the video for the book-inspired song party!

Here are the details again:

Wednesday, September 28th, 7:30-10:30pm
HiFi
169 Ave. A
NYC

Here’s the video made by Charlie Nieland for one of my frisky songs to be released on my Vonnegut-inspired EP EVERYTHING IS SATEEN.

EUPHIO – Noise from the Void

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GIRL POOL in Berlin

What could possibly be more pleasing than a girl pool.  Who doesn’t like girls and pools.  A pool of girls is a desirable thing, as far as things go.

I’m fortunate in that I’ve only experienced the most satisfying, exhilarating of girl pools with the most talented, true, fearless girls one can know.  That’s how my experience of them has been.

The video, inspired by Chapter 7 of Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, is for a song written for Bushwick Book Club.  It’s being shown at the Berlin Short Film Festival today.  I’m not there in Berlin, but the director of the video, Deb Magocsi is!  (Incidentally, I met Deb in a girl pool known as the Main Squeeze Orchestra.  I’ve occupied many, and they have all been glorious.)

These are shots from the original Girl Pool.  

Phyllis Junick
FullSizeRender (5)Margaret Langan
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Janine Diorio….  (I don’t have a picture of her).

Gail Malone (the blonde with the sweet smile at the end of the table)
FullSizeRender (1)Sharon Murphy…

Tricia Balsamello.. (look at those eyes!!)

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Donna Ingargiola Mustafa…
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Those are some of my girls from the Girl Pool of M&A Goldman Sachs.

Some of the other girl pools I’m lucky enough to have occupied are:

(as mentioned earlier) The Main Squeeze Orchestra
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The Debutante Hour
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and GOLD

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(we have a show tomorrow night, 9pm at Union Hall in Park Slope!)

People have all kinds of luck. I personally am fond of parking mojo, but I’m also blessed with knowing pretty much only amazing people.  It’s hard for me not to surrounded by geniuses, adorable people and  adorable geniuses of all genders and degrees of genders identifying more or less with one, several or no genders.

That’s all I wanted to say.  And one of the happiest occasions of my life was making the video for Girl Pool.  I can’t explain how fun it was and how many adorable, very good-looking geniuses it brought together at Mark Lerner’s pool in upstate New York and in the offices of Enstoa (thank you Jordan Cram!)  And I’m happy that Berliners get to peek in the Girl Pool that keeps swirling due to the forces of art, love and Vonnegut.

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If You Shove Anything Into Your Mouth Blindly, It Is Abuse (a.k.a I Can Abuse Anything)

I Can Abuse Anything

If it feels anywhere near good
at all
I can do it
to death.
A good rule of thumb for identifying abuse is
if you do it until your eyes roll back in your head.
A good rule of thumb is
if you do it until it hurts, it’s probably bad for you.
Also, if you do it naked in a closet.
Also if you won’t ever tell anybody you do it naked in a closet.

There are the obvious objects of abuse:
alcohol
chocolate
opiates
TV

But when you open your mind, you really can
abuse anything that feels
remotely in the vicinity
of good
at all.
My ancestral demand of hypercorrectness has honed my addictive tendencies to the razor point
of superhuman ability.  Surely
this is a new height.  Surely,
this is the new edge
of the obsessive envelope.
I made a new mundanity.
I didn’t know this was going to happen.
You just live life and do your normal
jog and dodge around pain.
You’re doing it for yourself and for
your own dislike of pain,
but look what you’re also doing for humanity.

Here, humanity.
Here’s a list of the unabuseable
that I have successfully abused:
 

kabocha squash
sweet potatoes
avocados
coconut
tomatoes
blueberries
fresh figs
watermelon
steak
flax seeds
milk kefir
sleep

You’re welcome.

I would abuse sunsets and sunrises
but they won’t let me.
They run on their own timing.
It’s nice that they happen everyday though.

I have eaten blueberries to the point of shame.
That’s a lot of blueberries.

 

***************************************************

 

Kabocha squash. The spiral of squash. A downward or upward spiral. The choice is yours.
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Also this:
photo (3)Even these people want you to act on your base, insatiable appetite for discount socks and discontinued beauty items.
Jesus.  Like I didn’t have enough problems.
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Yesterday morning and later this week!

A remarkable day..  It was a remarkable day.  Someone asked me the other day what I enjoy doing.  I thought that was the weirdest question.  What do you mean, what do I enjoy enjoy doing?  I enjoy doing everything I’m doing.  The day before, I drove a car on the New Jersey turnpike to get to a new acupuncturist.  I enjoyed that.  I enjoyed being by myself in the car and drinking coffee and seeing the wide expanse of sky that the Turnpike bestows you, and I enjoyed wondering what kind of birds those were, circling and circling ahead, and I enjoyed the calm that comes to you when you make it outside the city, when the city finally lets you go, no matter how many obstacles it puts in your path as you carve and scrape your way down Flushing Avenue to the BQE ramp.  I enjoyed how you can hear yourself louder as you’re driving fast, alone in your car, or in the car that was so kindly lent to you by a friend from Texas.  It’s great to have friends from Texas!  I enjoy that too…  What do I enjoy?  Jesus.  What do I not enjoy… Okay, you don’t have to answer.  There are a lot of answers to that.  But this post is not about that.

This post is about New Jersey.

And gambling?  And risk..  and rainbows!  And driving.  And drivers.

It’s a normal day in New York, meaning that it started out raining and then got really sunny.  It was  a balmy 56 degrees… In NJ, it rained again in the afternoon, a torrent for four minutes, and then a sudden stop, and then this rainbow!

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But you see, the morning began with an email asking if I was available for a job this afternoon.  I said yes.  Even though Google was skeptical (they warned me that this could be a fake email; what the..?).  It turned out to be real.  They needed someone to come to a studio in East Hanover, NJ for an infomercial for an online casino.  Yay!  Another opportunity to make rent!  And although my father told me on his deathbed never to play the lottery, he also told me never not pay rent.

They sent a car for me.  It was huge.  An SUV with two rows of seats.  For me.  It stopped at my corner in Bushwick and waited for me.  It shuttled me to East Hanover, NJ.  I got to see this:

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The rain had stopped, and the mist that was lingering was beautiful.  Lower Manhattan was beautiful.

And then the sky was doing this in New Jersey.

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What??

And the car was so big, I was like, “I just want to lay down…” The driver said, yes, of course.  It was my car…  So I laid down and looked at the sky.    And it reminded me of rides in my parents’ car as a kid and watching the telephone lines dip and point on our way to Montgomery Mall or whatever Korean dinner party we were going to.  But this New Jersey sky was great to look at, maybe even better?  Better than those skies I gazed up at from my father’s Chevy Chevette hatchback?  Or my mom’s station wagon with the wooden side panels?  I think it was better.

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And then it hailed and rained a torrent when we arrived at the studio.  And then it stopped, and there was this as mentioned before:

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See…  what’s not to enjoy?

Also, there’s this other story.  It’s weird, but there’s a portion of it being aired this week.  Watch my interview on a show called “In Harlem” this week, January 14th at 4pm on MNN Channel 2 and you get part of the story.

The interview is strange and great because it wasn’t scheduled.  I just happened to walk into the MNN studio that afternoon because I was showing it to my friend and amazing art director and co-producer of my TV show, Storm Garner.  We walked in and then were asked to be interviewed on this show where the guests had cancelled last minute, and I thought, ‘Sure, fine,’ and then I ended up having this incredible conversation with the host, Gerald Shultz, who I ended up asking to help me with technical directing my own TV show (which was fortunate for me because he’s a genius).  I’m also now enjoying knowing someone who doesn’t read fiction, but operating manuals for pleasure.

There’s more back story because the night before the interview, I saw my friend, Rachel Feinstein’s taping of her Comedy Central special at the theater across the street from the MNN studio and drank way too much tequila at the afterparty and then woke up not caring about anything I used to care about and then went back to the MNN studio wearing yesterday’s make-up, because really, there are no requirements in this life but to love people.  Or love… something.

So there’s that.  Watch the show and the interview — “IN HARLEM” January 14th, 4pm on Channel 2!!  I talk about the Bushwick Book Club and the show I’m making, THE LALALA SHOW… which will also air SOON.  Ack.  And a rainbow today.  Can you believe???  Thank you, weekend…

 

 

 

 

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Unusual Squirrel

Does everyone do this? Wake up and immediately check email? I’m still in bed, and I reach to the nightstand and swipe on the inbox, watch the swirly asterisk turn..

The first message I read today was from my mom, who’s been mad at me since I left my day job. It was titled, “Unusual Squirrel.” There may be no better email subject line than that. This might be the best one… for the rest of my life. I’m okay with that.

The message included this text:

We found him on Saturday.
It’s so huge and fat and well nourished.

Yesterday was the day your dad died 15 years ago.
I don’t feel that long ago.
Have a good day.

Sent from my iPad

And these photos:

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I don’t know… I get such a kick out of my mom finding something near delight in a fat squirrel.  And even though she’s still mad at me, she can share this fat squirrel and thinking about my dad’s passing in the same email.  It was a really good first email of the day.  Will tomorrow’s be better?  Better than “Unusual Squirrel?”  Probably not possible.  I would like to see my inbox try.

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Morning

Some mornings you can feel more.  Some mornings just talk to you and don’t shut up.  This morning, the air was soft, and it was romantic, looking at the Bushwick rooftops from the elevated train platform.  There was romance.  I’m sure that’s what it was.  I didn’t take a picture.  But I took a picture of the lady’s tote that I saw soon afterwards:

1.12.15_dwell“Dwell in possibility” was the quote.  I loved it.  Dwell in…  yes, if you’re going to dwell in anything, it may as well be in possibility.  I’ve often said that I’m a citizen of doom, because that’s where I was born.  I know all about it.  But who cares where you were born.  If you have a chance to choose where you dwell, you can choose to dwell in possibility.  I thought about Dickinson’s famous solitude.  She chose very consciously where she would dwell.  And what company she would keep.  It sounds like she was pretty unwavering in this.   I thought, “Emily Dickinson was so smart.”  She really had it going on.  She really knew what was what.  Here’s the whole poem:

 

 

 

 

 

I dwell in Possibility – (466)
BY EMILY DICKINSON

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –
Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –
Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –
Dwell…  I like that “well” is in this word.  A deep well of feeling well..  choose deliberately where you dwell.. may as well be possibility.
Then I saw this guy…  I just thought I’d capture him, because he’s someone my mom 1.12.2015_subway2
would look at and say, “Does his mom know his hair is like that?”  I’ve always loved a good fro myself.  I can’t help it, I’m pro hair.
And then I saw this guy:
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Who I LOVE… I see this Chinese man several times a week.  We tend to get on the same train, the same car.  I think he gets on earlier than me?  Later?  I like seeing him, because he’s my unspoken train friend, and because his face is one that always has an extra happiness in it.  I will try and get a better picture next time.  Some faces have built in tragedy.  My mom’s best friend from Korea is that way.  Mrs. Ma.  She’s a beautiful, beautiful woman.  Always has been.  She has this delicate, fragile femininity and pale, pale skin.  And if you look at the photos, as far back as high school, her face had the tragedy behind it.  Behind her eyes and the vulnerability of her chin, there is this sadness that is blooming.  That sadness in her eyes speaks of big, epic doom, like in Russian novels.  I’ve never actually read a Russian novel.  I want to read The Brothers Karamazov this year though.
This Chinese man..  he is the opposite of Mrs. Ma.  He has built in joy.  Like his joy is so loud, there’s no question in it.  It’s just the frequency his face emits, has always emitted.  Will keep emitting…  People say that Asian faces are not as expressive.. what is the word?  Inscrutable.  I don’t know how true this is.  I mean, there is a thing about showing emotion and about formality.  There are rules, but goodness knows, no one loves tragedy and drama more than Koreans.  Except maybe the Chinese?  I was speaking with a member of the Main Squeeze Orchestra who is Chinese, this awesome woman, Elaine Yau, and she’s learning to play the erhu.  She said the Chinese love tragedy too.  Her teacher wouldn’t teach erhu to her daughter because  the instrument is too sad for children.  You should have already given up on life and the possibility of happiness before you touch it.  So Elaine’s learning it herself.
What was I talking about… faces.  Right.  I think that “inscrutable” business is something white people say because they didn’t grow up in an environment where all the faces were Asian.  You have to go to Seoul, and see only Asian faces everywhere, in the advertisements and on TV.. every type of person will be Asian… there will be nothing that an Asian face can’t be or express or represent.  Then we can see what you say.  People just need to get out of the country more.  That’s all.  We need to have mandatory world traveling as U.S. citizens.  Like some countries have mandatory military service for young people.  We need to have mandatory study abroad.  I’m telling you, it will cure some things.  At the very least, it could improve conversation.
Speaking of Asian faces… what is it about big ear muffs that make it so that people think it’s okay to “ching-chong” me?  I’m serious.  I get consistently more ching-chong noises when I’m wearing these
muffsthan when I’m not.  I must be asking for it.  Is that right?  Is there something in the audacity to wear loud head gear that says, “This girl wants you to yell nonsense at her.  She’s begging for it.”   Or does it say, “This girl has no boundaries!  She is aching for contact that transcends language.  Go ahead, just make unintelligible noises at her that poke fun at her race.”  It’s a mystery.  Is it because I look more like a hello kitty with these on?  I become closer in appearance to a large-headed, mute cartoon cat, so of course, I’m a receptacle for all those pent up desires to make another person uncomfortable.   I really don’t understand, but I will continue to study this phenomenon.  Once, I was ching-chonged walking through downtown Brooklyn, and I stopped and asked the guy why he was making those noises at me.  He said, “Oh… I’m sorry.  I just thought you couldn’t speak English.”  Right.  So if I don’t speak English, I am obviously fluent in gibberish.
This is a true story.
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Even the bad parts are good

I don’t know what to think of the holidays.  I don’t have the same early childhood memories of magic and getting what you want that other people do.  With my JW upbringing, Christmas was always this horrible time of flagrant false religion that was all Jesus-oriented on the outside but actually dripping with Satan the whole way through, so you know, it was to be tolerated until the evil was over.  Until the next year.

So far this awful Xmas music coming from a lighting display at a Bushwick dollar store is my favorite thing about this season.  It’s mesmerizingly bad.  I just want to watch it over and over.  I don’t want it to stop.  I may have to go back and get a longer clip.  It’s a good lesson for all of us though as we leave this year and head off into the new one.  If you’re going to be bad, be mesmerizingly, hypnotically bad.  If you’re going to do it, really do it.  Here’s to us.  Merry merry!!

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Sing it to me

We started talking about love.  I don’t know how we started.  I think it was because he wanted to marry me.  Some days it’s just like that.  You sit on the subway train and somebody proposes.  And then his friend does too.  They had just gotten done singing a song.  The one man stopped to give me a compliment, asked about my marital status.  I lied, because it was funner and because I can’t help it.  I said I’d been married three times.  “Third times a charm,” I said.

He said, “But you’re single now.”  Yes, I’m single.  I’m only a fibber; I can only carry it so far.  He said, “So how about a fourth?”  Well..  And then talk about love… love is a beautiful thing.  “Why yes it is,” I said.  “And everybody has it.”  He agreed.  His friend came up behind him to chime in, “It’s free…  you can give it, share it…”

“And produce it,” I said.

“And reproduce..” he said.

“Whoa!” his friends said from the other side of the car.

“Wow, he’s really cutting to the chase,” I said.  “These are modern times.”  We imagined how beautiful our babies would be.  I said yes, they would be very beautiful.  None more so.  He said, “How about not giving me a fast no, but a slow yes?”

I said, “Who needs reproduction.  How about a number?  I’m a sucker for harmonies…”

So they did this song.  For me.  And for reproduction, I guess.  If it sounds this good, it could be for paper cuts and bikini waxes, whatever.  Sing me the song:

You can hear me on some of the “ah”s and the last “ooo” at the end.  I couldn’t help myself.  Bypassing marriage to sing the harmonies.  It’s a good trade off.  Any day.

Come and hear me and Marlon Cherry play some songs on Friday night as a part of “Call and Response – ‘answer songs’ to the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil by Natalia Zukerman, Susan Hwang, and Ben Arthur.”

Friday, December 5th, 8:30pm
Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3
185 Orchard Street
New York, NY
tickets: http://www.ticketfly.com/event/702367-call-response-answer-songs-new-york/

Still all about Satan – Friday @ Rockwood Music Hall

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© Susan Hwang 2017. Photo: Dany Nierman. Site design by Billkwando@yahoo.com