Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Tonight I’m playing a show called The Current curated by writer and musician, Deenah Vollmer that raises money for immigrant advocate group Make The Road. Musicians and poets are performing new work in response to the times at CounterEvolution – the beautiful venue created by Jim Malone (who knows what to do with reclaimed bowling alley wood). Doors are at 7pm tonight. 37 West 17th St., 2nd floor, Door code 2695. It’s BYO so I’m headed to the Trader Joe’s for some snacks in a minute, and we can all share. Lusterlit (my duo with Charlie Nieland) are on the bill with poets Deenah, Niina Polari and Josef Kaplan and also musicians, Gary Lucas, Phoebe Kreutz, Vincent Caccione, Devon Church and Jeff Lewis.
But you know how when you’re working on something, suddenly it’s everywhere. I spoke a lot about music and my family’s experience as immigrants in an interview last week. I didn’t intend to. Writer and radio host and producer, Jia Jung approached me about participating in her podcast with John Asante, Play It Back, which focuses on songs and the stories around them. I didn’t know when she asked me that I’d delve into my earliest recollections of songs sung, how music reflected my family dynamics and how a single song can steep layers of personal history with understanding and meaning that keep being revealed to me.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Jia Jung and engineer, Steve Francis of Stush Music were both really receptive and sensitive which made it easy to share. So much more came to light for me as I responded to Jia’s questions and curiosity, but I wanted to include the text of my initial email response to her invitation which was the jumping off point for the interview. Here it is:
Sometimes there are too many storylines you can’t pick. In this case, the threads keep getting longer and more entwined. I better just get started now and end up where I end up because the information is too good to keep it to myself. Although, if you know anyone who knows me, or if you know me, you know that I don’t shut up about it. It’s what I do everyday. I eat cake.
Sometimes I just call it Survival Cake (not the sexiest of names). Or what about Fun-Fun Anti-Inflammation Cake? Listen, this cake by any other name would keep you alive and pain free enough to be jumping around with kids half your age and double your talent in a joke-folk musical about the epic tale of Gilgamesh written by your genius friend, Phoebe Kreutz. This is my present reality, and it’s made possible by many things, including my ever-evolving recipe for turmeric cake.
It can look like this:
I make chocolate/cinnamon/cayenne too:
Is that a car dashboard in the background of that landscape of chocolate turmeric cake? Why yes it is. It’s part of my turmeric journey. The turmeric journey includes an actual road trip that illustrated to me via bucket seats in a rental Kia the importance and effectiveness of this substance to my daily functioning. I laughed that on other tours, it was pot brownies that were the medicinal snacks of choice in the minivan. This time, it was turmeric cake and tons of it that I wouldn’t share with Charlie, because his back is fine. The ones I made on the road were pretty hardcore — made with whatever we could find at the Safeway.
But I want to give you my basic recipe before we go further, because it’s important.
- 1 carton of eggwhites (or 10 eggwhites equivalent in whole eggs)
- 2 Tbsp flaxseed (meal or whole seeds. I like Trader Joe’s golden toasted)
- 2 Tbsp chia (optional)
- 2 Tbsp coconut flour (also kind of optional)
- 2 Tbsp Turmeric (heaping… heap it up)
- 2 Tbsp Cocoa (raw or what have you)
- 2 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp vanilla if you want
- pinch of cayenne to taste
- sweetener of choice – sugar, maple, agave. I use tsp or 2 of powdered stevia (the straight stuff is best, like from Trader Joe’s. Don’t get it cut with anything like dextrose if you can avoid)
- 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- shake or 3 of baking powder
For lemon version, just use lemon juice from one lemon or lime. And I like to add about a tsp or so of whole pepper kernels.
You put it in a bowl, usually dry ingredients under the wet ones, and then you blend the shit out of it with a hand immersion stick blender until the batter is a batter. Like pancake batter. Thicker or thinner depending on your taste. If it’s thicker, it’s likely to come out more like biscotti which is also great. Put it in a small-ish baking pan or pie pan at about 350 for like 15-20 minutes. Go take a shower. Come back and press on the surface to see how done it is. It’s usually done when you can smell it. It smells great. It’s the smell of anti-inflammation. It’s the smell of pain-free mobility!! Which, to an arthritic accordion player, drummer, singer who once missed a gig because standing up made her cry, smells pretty fucking good.
The thing that I learned about turmeric is that you have to eat a shit ton of it. The dumb capsules say like one or two of these pills with a meal. I don’t know; maybe that helps Barbie’s arthritis, but for my degenerative disk disease-aggravated sciatica, I had to start at two big honking tablespoons a day until I noticed a difference — the difference being I would spend less and less of my days in exhausting pain. And now… like I said, I’m singing and dancing and acting with this very exuberant cast of Go Go Gilgamesh. And my midtown chiropractor misses me. We just don’t see each other like we used to.
And of course, turmeric you can take in so many different ways. Teas, milk, curries… You’ve heard about the golden paste? Another sexy name. There’s just no way to make “paste” sound like something attractive that you’d actually want to put in your mouth.
I find that the cake is the way for me, because cake is actually something I do want to put in my mouth. Just about any time in fact. And I love coffee. So now I can have coffee and cake. Also, sometimes I do an unsweetened, savory version omitting sweetener and sometimes adding an herb, like cilantro or rosemary. The recipe is versatile and travels well. Look, here it is with me on this bus to Washington D.C. for a gig I played there (three hours solo accordion playing Russian and cowboy songs – it’s a living).
I will write more about my initial road trip (Lusterlit West Coast BBC tour!) that opened my eyes to the effect of turmeric in my life and on my body in my next post. It will make sense, sort of. But I wanted to get this out there. Get it started. Let the tale be told. My tale includes my participating in the telling of this one:
Go Go Gilgamesh! has five shows as a part of the 2017 Frigid New York Festival. We open today. TODAY. 8:50 pm at The Kraine Theater in the East Village. 85 E. 4th Street.
Get tickets here: http://www.horsetrade.info/event/67153edafbf86148a1617559c8cd08ba
I know that second picture doesn’t make any sense to you, but it was yesterday morning as we were going to the theater for our 9am tech rehearsal. Wake up and make the art!! You don’t even know the super-human feats of maneuvering I did with two bags of costumes and two instruments on that morning commute from Bushwick to the East Village. There was one moment when I looked at the guy behind me who wanted to get out too, and I just said, “I don’t know how to do this.” And then somehow, I had the lip of my drum and the handle of my accordion case in one hand and 2 bags in the other and I heaved myself out before the doors closed. It was like I was some new kind of superhero or something. New kinds of superheroes are born everyday as new circumstances create them. I became Remarkably Agile Overloaded Multi-Instrumentalist Actor Girl able to maneuver morning rush hour commute without killing or being killed! And it’s not radiation that gave me my superpowers, but cake. Mmmm… cake. And I guess that would mean my kryptonite is still… bad conversations I can’t get out of? Something like that.
Come to the opening of the play tonight!! I get to play a goddess and an old man!! It’s written by a genius and performed by brilliant people who are directed by a dedicated visionary! And we got a very nice lighting director yesterday. Come come! You need to be entertained. You’re not on this earth to not take my advice about where the great entertainment is.Share
We’re playing at Halyards (not 12th St. Bar and Grill) tonight. Halyards is located in Gowanus. I’m also working on a song inspired by the block of 3rd Ave. between President and Union in the neighborhood of Gowanus (Marin Gazzaniga’s project MAPPING GOWANUS). This is just to further illustrate the connectedness of everything. I mean Carrie Fisher and her mom dying days of each other? They were so connected. That’s a hell of a mother-daughter relationship. My mother and I think of each other constantly. Kind of like all day. We don’t talk on the phone. Last time we texted, she sent me these emogees:
I think it means she loves me. I don’t know if we’ll die a day apart from each other, but we will die. And I hear her voice all the time in my head as it is anyway. We don’t even have to talk on the phone anymore. We’re both the single people in the family now. We tend to travel around the same time. My mom with her Korean Pharmacists Association and also with her Jehovah’s Witnesses. Me, with my bands. I remember one summer I stopped in to see her at the tail end of a Debutante Hour southeast tour. I drove in from Charlottesville, VA. She had just come back from Richmond. She was with her best friends, Julia and Nancy, a West Indian lady and a caucasian octogenarian. I had just come back from touring with Debutante Hour.We had both just come back from road trips in the South with a white girlfriend and a black girlfriend! That’s weird, right? Another similarity is that we’re both into things we can’t see. My mother is in a cult, and I’m new agey as all get out. My mother joined a religion with really strict rules because rules make her feel safe. I made up my own religion that includes the possibility of all truths and freedom up the wazoo. See, we’re like two sides of the same coin. We both believe in good food and feeding people. Maybe the coin we incarnate is a meal. We might be two sides of dinner.
Okay, so all this to say Lusterlit, my duo with Charlie Nieland playing all songs about books on a lot of instruments (guitar, bass, Janggu, accordion, lots of singing) is playing at Halyards tonight as a part of Terry Radigan’s RADIGAN ROUND UP. She presents several songwriters and is playing herself tonight as a part of a collaboration with Rachelle Garniez and Amanda Homi called VickiKristinaBarcelona. Also, Sasha Dobson is one of the songwriters tonight! Holy cow, some of my favorite geniuses are on the bill. I needed to tell you about it.
TONIGHT – December 29th, 8pm
406 3rd Ave @6th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11215
FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/145904332564563/
I had time with geniuses last night too. These geniuses. NAN TURNER and her group NAN and The One Night Stands. (Plus John S. Hall’s new band, SENSATION PLAY!)
I get to shake it as a part of Nan’s dance troupe. It’s dance, it’s performance art. It’s part Janet Jackson and part Bob Fosse and all Nan. She brings people together–glorious, creative, fun and brilliant types–as part of her annual NANCATION show in New York. I love her art so much because it’s all her, streaming through, with honesty, with humor, with obvious joy and depth too and badassedness. Lots of that. Making it badass to be weird and to be kind and to be expressive. You can check out her bandcamp: https://nanturner.bandcamp.com/ and also her band with Matt Roth – SCHWERVON.
Also, I leave you with today’s turmeric cake:
It’s raw cacao, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne in an egg white base with chia and toasted flax seeds. Cacao nibs on top. Apple cider vinegar and baking soda. Sweetened with stevia. Keeping me alive and shushing the sciatica….
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.
And 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.
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!
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.Share
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….
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
169 Ave. A
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
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.
Janine Diorio…. (I don’t have a picture of her).
Tricia Balsamello.. (look at those eyes!!)
Some of the other girl pools I’m lucky enough to have occupied are:
(as mentioned earlier) The Main Squeeze Orchestra
(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.
I Can Abuse Anything
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!
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:
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.
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.
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:
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…
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:
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.Share