Posts Tagged ‘bushwick book club’
I’m mostly against marathons. It’s nothing personal against running or runners; I’m against anything that impedes traffic. I like to say that I’m pro-flow. I was looking on the marathon website last Friday to see what the route and timing was, but they made this very hard to find. There was all this essential information on security measures, baggage options, where the cheering zones are.. “How to Run in 2013” “How to Qualify for 2014″… They forgot “How to Avoid.” I might be a marathon Grinch.
This past week, we had our first Bushwick Book Club show of the fall. The book was My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Orson Welles and Henry Jaglom. It was a good show. There were 12 songs in all from 12 different songwriters (myself included). I hosted the show, but I didn’t gather my thoughts enough before the show to express what I wanted to about Orson. What I did manage to express was that I loved the language that he used. I loved his voice in my head. I loved his stories.
But what I missed saying was that he was in a basic way just like us. His goal always was to make stuff. And he did. He created until his last breath. He had a heart attack while writing a script. He died with a typewriter in his lap. What you hear about is what he didn’t make towards the end of his life, and it’s true, he was working on getting funding to make King Lear and The Dreamers. It’s true that many projects were stalled or incomplete because of lack of funds and whatever ways he couldn’t find around real or perceived difficulties. But it doesn’t mean he didn’t continue to create. He wrote and made smaller films. He painted. He acted. He never stopped being who he was. He never stopped being an artist. He did it by hook or by crook or by funding his own projects with money made from hawking cheap wine. He did it come hell or high water or talk show spot on Merv Griffin.
I can relate to this. My parents never explained this to me. I think it’s something they couldn’t’ explain because it was something they didn’t know. In their minds, creating was an indulgence and potentially bad for you, like eating candy or having sex with prostitutes. They didn’t know that for some people, it’s a need—a fundamental aspect of being. It’s as basic as whether you’re left or right handed. Or whether you have a genetic predisposition to diabetes or alcoholism. It’s like being gay or straight. I make things, because I was born this way. You can’t brainwash me or cure me of this with a Christian reform camp or even maternal bullying from my Korean JW mom (which is pretty formidable). My parents tried to get me to stop, because they thought it was detrimental to my physical well-being and survival in society. They have their reasons. During the Korean War and afterwards, being a musician may well have been a death sentence. This is likely why my father’s dying words to me were “Don’t hang around musicians… They cannot function in society.” Well it’s too late… I was born this way.
I think for some people it is a choice, and depending on circumstance, that urge to make things can be nurtured or neglected, and either way, they will be fine. Some people have no desire at all to make anything but money. There are all kinds of urges. My people, we make things. Sometimes we get outside notice for it, sometimes money. Sometimes we don’t. But whether or not you get money or attention from what you make doesn’t have anything to do with that basic inner orientation to make. They are separate. One doesn’t have more value than the other, but it’s just separate I think.
That said, I was thrilled with all the new songs from the Bushwick Book Club show last week. The conversations, whether you liked Orson or whether he irked you, inspired all the songwriters to express something that hadn’t been said before. Something they hadn’t said before. And I marveled at the colors each musician chose to present their reflection of or response to Orson. I marveled at how truth finds its own specific path out of each performer. The flavor of each artist, each person, each song. You can hear them here: bushwickbookclub.bandcamp.com
It’s hard to assign a value to the things we make, but they are valuable. Just ask the Gurlitt’s, the Rosenbergs, The Monuments Men (sounds so Marvel Universe). All those paintings, stolen, the effort made to recover them.. Those 1,400 works taken from Cornelius Gurlitt’s apartment in Munich recently, of which could include works by Matisse, Courbet, Max Liebermann, Marc Chagall… This is a big deal, because we value the representation of truth as shown on each canvas. These artists were great because people found value in the way the truth came out of them. That’s my interpretation. The way truth comes out of you is so important that you can be sent to Siberia for it. Just ask Shevchenko (exiled from Ukraine in 1847 for an unflattering poem about the Emperor and his wife). And these nine exiled poets . And Dante (exiled from Florence for supporting the Holy Roman Emperor over the Papacy), Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Salman Rushdie… Don’t tell me it’s not important the way the truth comes out of you.
Also this—the maltese falcon made of resin that Humphrey Bogart carried in scenes from the movie has a starting price of half a million dollars. I’m using this as proof that people still care about stories. A prop used in the making of a piece of art is a valuable thing to some people. I’m using this to support my argument that stories and art are essential to us as humans—integral to our existence in ways I’m not able to articulate or even fully comprehend most likely.
I’m collecting proof to counter evidence to the contrary, like the woeful lack of funding from the government and the fact that it’s increasingly rare to make a living wage being a band/musician in New York City. If you need stories of the glorious golden days, talk to my dear friend and super-drummer Steve Rubin. I can’t hear any more of these stories myself, because I’ll get unhelpfully sad and teeteringly close to bitter, but the stories are fascinating… this mythical time when animals talked, there was a chimera on every corner and you could earn a living as a house band playing music to people who would come out and dance. I also recommend talking to drummer Paula Spiro for tales of playing music in a very different, long gone New York. Just like Orson said–”It’s terrible for older people to say that, because they always say things were better, but they really were.”
And if that’s true, that means right now is the Golden Age of something… so there’s that.Share
This morning, I was rushing for the train. I was rushing as much as I could, what with my lack of sleep impeding me, along with bags of supplies for tonight (recorder, cables, book, bookmarks, extra shoes, change of clothes, clipboard). I ran onto the train before the doors could close and sat down. The lady next to me said, “Just so you know you have a little….”
“Schmutz?” I asked.
“On the back of your skirt..” she said.
“”Typical,” I said.
“It’s fur, a bunch..” She used her hand to show me the relative size and shape of the clump.
“That’s Chutney,” I said. She laughed, and I thanked her, and she returned to her book. It was a hardback. I glanced down and it looked like a cook book. I really wanted to ask her about it… I immediately thought of how I want the Book Club to use a cook book for a show. I looked away, and I contemplated not saying anything and leaving the nice lady alone, but then I thought, well.. she started it. She made contact with me. She didn’t have to say anything about the schmutz on my skirt. So I reached into my bag and brought out a book mark. “Do you need a book mark?” She took it and thanked me. I explained that I run a show of songs about a different book each month. “Oh really? That’s great.. I’m a librarian,” she said. A librarian!
“Well, I also organize The Hip Hop Book Club which conducts workshops for youth in libraries!” I said, and I handed her one of the new HHBC book marks. I left her alone for the rest of the train ride, which luckily was short, because she got off at the next stop. I mean, I assumed she got off to change trains at the Jay Street station, but she could have just gotten off to switch cars and get away from the cat-hair-covered, songwriting-book-club lady. I wouldn’t blame her. I’m such a Jehovah’s Witness about the book club. What is wrong with me? I think it’s just that my mother is an actual Jehovah’s Witness, and as much as I don’t agree with her religion and its tactics, I’m a huge hypocrite, because I’m just like my mother and need to proselytize what I believe in. I’m turning into my mother! Again. I’m telling perfect strangers about what gets me excited, which is songs about books. My mother tells people about what gets her excited, which is Armageddon. Well, Armageddon is exciting…
These are the bookmarks:
And here is one of the bags of nonsense I was carrying this morning. It started to split as I entered the office and searched for my building ID. If I’m going to be proselytizing, I really should find a better bag for my nonsense. No self respecting JW would be caught with this mess. JWs have standards.
And here is the FLYER for TONIGHT’s show!
The song is about how New Yorkers are nature freaks in their own way. It’s based on page 50 of the book by Becky Cooper! Come to The Living Room at 8pm if you want to hear it and other songs by lots of great musicians:
Like a bag of chips or a napkin note from your mom, songs about books can really bring a lunch to the next level. Tomorrow, I’ll start off the Bushwick Book Club lunchtime set at Grand Army Plaza for The Brooklyn Public Library. Come hear my set at 12:30pm (w/ ADAM AMRAM, JULIE DELANO and LESLIE GRAVES) and extend lunch until 2pm so you can hear Phoebe Kreutz, Adventures of Kaila and The Kid from Hip Hop Book Club, spiritchild and members of ArtStart. too!
Wednesday, May 22nd, 12:30pm-2pm
Grand Army Plaza/Brooklyn Central Public Library
ph: (718) 623-7100
Right here. I’ll be the one with the accordion.
Have lunch with BPL on the Plaza! Lunchapalooza, Central Library’s weekly lunchtime festival, kicks off this Wednesday, May 22. Enjoy delicious food, story time ( In a Land of Frogs and Princesses, 11:30 am) and music for the whole family ( Bushwick Book Club, Hip Hop Book Club & ArtStart, 12:30 pm). A different food truck will be parked outside the Library each week, rain or shine. In case of rain, entertainment will be canceled.
One of my favorite songs is Sparks’ “Sherlock Holmes.” Back when Debutante Hour first started, Maria and I used to do a cover of it as a duo. She humored me.. I’m sad that a recording of it never made it onto the Follow Me covers EP, but I was thrilled to work it up to any performable level with her.
I’d never actually read any Sherlock Holmes before. It seemed so old and so British and so something I wouldn’t like. There didn’t seem to be any women in the stories. When I was a kid, I liked fantasy novels. These stories didn’t have a single dragon or magic back door into another realm. What was going to keep my interest?
Turns out that I love Sherlock Holmes. And Dr. Watson. I love them. Maybe it took me being in my thirties to appreciate Sherlock’s obsessiveness and Dr. Watson’s loving observation of Sherlock’s obsessiveness. They are both hyper-vigilant observers. Sherlock of the clues, and Watson of Sherlock. And artists are all hyper-vigilant observers, so when Sherlock falls into a depression and shoots cocaine (a 7% solution) because he’s in between cases and there’s nothing to occupy his mind, nowhere to direct his obsessiveness… well, I can relate. And Dr. Watson thinks it’s a crime that Sherlock never gets the credit for his genius. Others get the glory for the mysteries he’s solved. Musicians are the same way — “That guy was doing Beck before Beck was Beck!” Or “everyone knows that Keith Richards was the glue in The Rolling Stones.” Singer songwriters are often unsung heroes.
Sherlock was an artist. He didn’t solve mysteries for acknowledgement or money. He was a purist who solved problems because he was rigged that way. He couldn’t not solve problems. He needed people to do bad things and try and hide them so that he would have something to figure out. He lived for problems.
I love a guy who lives for problems, because I usually just get irritated by them–irritated or doomed. I love a guy who doesn’t feel doomed by things going wrong, because I already know how to do that. It’s such a novelty to be around someone who gets excited over difficulties. I think that is the way to be, but I have a feeling I’ll never be that way.
In conclusion, I’m enjoying Sherlock Holmes more than a century after he was created, because he’s someone who knows what’s going on when no one knows what the hell is going on, and it makes me feel safe. I know safety is an illusion, especially here in 2013, but it’s still a great illusion.
THURSDAY, March 28th, 8pm
9 Clinton St. (just south of Houston St.)
New York, NY
ph: (646) 863-7171
Door: by donation (suggested $5)
March 28th, 8pm at Culturefix in the Lower East Side.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic detective stories are the inspiration for new music tomorrow night! A Study in Scarlet, A Scandal in Bohemia and any of the 56 much loved short stories featuring Sherlock (and Dr. Watson of course) are fair game for intrepid local songwriters:
Aron Blue: Aron is a singer songwriter, sound engineer and producer. She created SuperMeow Records and also curates shows in Brooklyn. She ain’t afraid to get things started.
The Adventures of Kaila and The Kid – Kid Lucky and Kaila Mullady are the beat-rhyming duo of the decade. They are a beat-rhyming force of nature, soon to be touring with their new recording. Watch the TRAILER.
Casey Holford - is an Antifolk-based musician, songwriter, recording engineer and photographer. He has a way with melodies, and his songs are harder to drum to than you think. Did you hear his Game of Thrones song?
Chris Andersen – When he’s not working on his daily online comic, The Ego and The Squid, he’s redefining your notion of hip hop with TheHappy Rappies. He’s performing solo for Book Club this month!
Dan & Rachel - This rock and roll duo is usually zig-zagging the U.S. in their Mazda, hypnotizing the country city by city with their cross-genre, harmonizings and brazen lyrical variety. They will also seduce you with Kale – KALE RECORDS, that is.
Jason Perlman – is a local songwriter who made THIS for the first book club of the year. Happy to have him back for our March show!
Natti Vogel – can break your heart in any musical genre and at least 2 languages. One of them i being Chinese.
Phoebe Kreutz – is an award-winning songwriter and exceptional conversationalist. She is known for her remarkable ability to turn a Sumerian epic into a musical. You must see her GILGAMESH the Musical.
Susan Hwang – is the founder of Bushwick Book Club. She bends literature to her own musical whims and makes a mission of encouraging others to do so because she thinks it’s funny.
The smell of roasting Chex Mix is what greets you at the gates of heaven. The trick is that there’s no eating in heaven. You can’t eat unless you’re alive, so you have to be on earth to actually indulge in the addictive invention of Ralston Purina and American housewives. I love the idea that American housewives would bake this version of middleclass crack in their own homes. I did last night, because it’s the Bushwick Book Club snack for the A Clash of Kings show!
I’m excited for this one, because I’m a sucker for new songs about books, and because I get to sing with Adam Amram and Julie Delano tonight! I wrote the song on bass, but I can’t play bass. Julie Delano can play a bass. Adam Amram kills drums for a living. It’s a nice combination. We’re going on first, so get there early and settle in with the Mix of Kings and a Green Dream cocktail (absinthe-based). 8:30pm at Goodbye Blue Monday (1087 Broadway, Brooklyn). The song I wrote is about Arya Stark and hate. To prepare for the performance, I’ve been PMS-ing all week.
Look, Bushwick Book Club got a photo in “The New Yorker!” Page 4 of this week’s issue. I opened it and showed it to the guy at the newstand, and I said, “See! Look, that’s me. I’m right there.” He looked at the page and looked at me. Still cost me $7.Share
Pineapple Ice for tonight’s Bushwick Book Club show co-hosted by Chris Gethard, the author of A Bad Idea I’m About To Do: True Tales of Seriously Poor Judgement and StunninglyAwkward Adventure. It really is an adventure. The stories include pro-wrestling misshaps, Mr. Gadget, the police, mistaken virginity, uncontrollable rage and much, much more. I’ve felt a little bit like a Jehovah’s Witness about this book. But I kind of feel that way a lot when it comes to The Bushwick Book Club. My mother became a JW around 1986, because the religion has a lot of rules and requires diligent study (my mother loves research and homework). I could never relate to this, because as far as I could see, this religion was one of the surest ways not to have any fun at all.
But now, I see that the apple does not fall far from the tree. I do this monthly nerdy thing that requires study. I carry this book with me everywhere I go all month; I underline passages of it, dog-ear favorite pages, talk about it with others who are also reading the book. I have extra copies that I pass onto others. Sometimes I meet them on the street. Sometimes they come to my house. I fall asleep on the train thinking about it. I wake up in the middle of the night hearing song ideas. I consider myself lucky if I hear inspiration from the book after a few glasses of wine, but this cannot be counted on. And I speak in tongues. Okay, that’s just my usual gibberish. And when I meet other people who don’t know about the Book Club, I get really excited talking to them about it. I can’t help it. Sometimes they get it, but sometimes they don’t, and I can see them slowly stepping away, wondering how to get out of this conversation. I, of course, can’t understand why they wouldn’t be delighted by the prospect of monthly brand new original songs about a book. I mean, come on… brand new songs.. about books. AAAahahahahaahaaa…
The show is TONIGHT at Goodbye Blue Monday, 8:30pm. Chris said he’d be there to co-host! You can ask him questions about White Magic and Koozo and eat a coconut milk-based pineapple ice that I made last night. Sweetened with agave… and Jehovah. Just kidding.
TONIGHT, March 22nd, 8:30pm
Goodbye Blue Monday
1087 Broadway (JMZ to Myrtle or J to Kosciusko)
ph: 718 453 6343
Songwriters: Buffie Roseanne, Jonathan Mann, Kristin Sedivec, Maria Sonevytsky, Memo Salazar, Nicole Tourtelot, Sarah Pappalardo, Susan Hwang, Sweet Soubrette and Zane Van Dusen! Emily Einhorn special guest!Share
So, can I blame it on planetary alignment when I look down after the first song in our CD release set, and I see some of my areola peeking out from my dress? We can’t control these things, but it was the second time I’d ever flashed an audience. This was the first time with my breasts, but once I was sitting down at a keyboard in Tompkins Square Park, and I flashed the East Village from under my American Apparel jersey knit dress. Another time, I was on the train and noticed the buttons on my shirt dress were unbuttoned to expose just my navel. Another time, I walked a European guest across the trading floor while my skirt was tucked into my tights the whole time. So my unintended exhibitionism was all very fitting for the release of a CD titled “An Awkward Time with The Debutante Hour.” We really lived up to the name of our CD last night. There were uke and cello tuning competitions like 6 times and many lyric flubs, a call to sublimate (inspired thinking from Mia Pixley) and an amazingly awkward intro from Franz Nicolay highlighting all the the things that are neither here nor there over a yamaha keyboard rendition of “A Whole New World.” It was just like what Nan Turner said during the beautiful Schwervon set–”Let It All Hang Out.” So.. we had a good time (I got to groove on Eva’s transporting vocals with Choban Elektrik. If anyone’s voice could teleport you, it’s Eva’s. She should be harnessed as a green mobility option). I heard there was a fight during our set and a girl stormed out after throwing a glass at some guy, but otherwise, most other folks had a good time. Good and awkward.
I am still the Chris Gethard book fairy, in case you’re wondering. I hear melodies and lyrics when I’m half asleep on the train… “If she won’t come to you… show her you’re Framsky…” I know, it doesn’t make any sense to me either. There are songs being written right now–brand new, A Bad Idea I’m About To Do songs being thought up, felt up, dreamed up right now. How does anything happen??? I don’t know, but it does. And things will happen at Goodbye Blue Monday on March 22nd at the Bushwick Book Club show.
Here’s a photo from last night taken by Amy Pearl who should have everything she wants:Share
His book is A Bad Idea I’m About To Do, and we’re about to do it for the next Bushwick Book Club. I walk around this city with a couple paperback copies on me at all times. If you’re looking to have one, you can just tackle me and pull them out of my blue canvas bag. I’m leaving them at bars for songwriters, under their pillows, meeting them in back alleys or in front of office buildings to do the literary hand-off. I’ve missed 2 train stops reading it, and I’ve had 2 dreams about it. The show is March 22nd at Goodbye Blue Monday. I have no idea what will happen, but it’s exciting to know something will happen. If you’re curious, you should come out for the show. Chris Gethard said he’d co-host with me and Sweet Soubrette. See… anything can happen.
What else is happening is that The Debutante Hour is birthing a new CD! The labor was intense for this one. Each one is different, as you know. This time around, we had Peter Hess producing, and we all had cravings for hot wings and chocolate (wait, we always have cravings for hot wings and chocolate). The doulas were all our friends and supporters who donated so generously through our Kickstarter campaign. The release show is THIS THURSDAY, the 15th at Littlefield in Brooklyn!
We’re going to be joined by amazing friends — Franz Nicolay (keys), Cecil Scheib (trombone), Jared (guitar), Butch and Nan (percussion), Karen Leblanc (saw), Jonathan Vincent (accordion/keys), Natalie Hung (big voice), Julie Delano and Leslie Graves (mesmerizing movements). And the amazing Choban Elektrik (7:30pm) and big love Schwervon (8:30pm) will be opening!Share