Posts Tagged ‘bushwick book club’

GIRL POOL in Berlin

June 30, 2016

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
FullSizeRender (4)FullSizeRender (3)

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…
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

The Debutante Hour

and GOLD


(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.


Yesterday morning and later this week!

January 11, 2016

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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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…






Songs from the last Bushwick Book Club show

September 5, 2014
Our first collaboration with Bushwick Book Club Malmo.

Songs About Books Gone Wild

August 12, 2014

I was talking with Leslie the other night about how I don’t tend to post things from the lower clouds.  I mean, my last post was from cloud 9, but generally speaking I won’t speak online if I’m not at least coming from cloud 7.  Yesterday, I got to Cloud -5, which included sitting on a train that wouldn’t move after I had already waited 30 minutes for it when I was dead tired at the end of the day.  It sat with the doors open on the platform where a folk singer played and played, making me feel like I was at that eternal open mic in hell.  I cried.

But you know, it never ceases to amaze me how all things exist at once.  There I was crying in hell, but then there’s this great thing that exists now that is the product of some of my very favorite people coming together to make something.  Here’s the new music video for “Girl Pool,” a song I wrote for our Vonnegut-Cat’s Cradle Bushwick Book Club show a while back.  The recording features Matt Menold on guitar (who I miss a lot), Mark Ospovat on bass (who I miss a lot), Adam Amram on drums (yay!) and Julie and Leslie on vocal harmonies (sweet and powerful mix).  Oh, also Cecil Scheib on trombone!  He’s the best.

The video is made by my dear friend and talented filmmaker, Deborah Magocsi.  And the cast of course includes adorable people I know from many different worlds.  And they all came together and got in the water with me.  It was a beautiful experience.

People come together for weddings.  And funerals.  The making of this video felt like I married myself, and all these loved ones came out to witness and celebrate.  Or maybe it was a funeral too.  A funeral of one of my old selves, and the moving on to a different place.  Well, now I want to do it again.  More wedding/funeral/choreographed dance numbers, please.

Speaking of songs about books, there’s also a SHOW next week at City Winery with the founders of BBC Malmo.  TICKETS are on sale now!  You can get them here:

Wednesday, August 20th, musical nerdery reaches new heights as we present our first international collaboration of songs about books at City Winery.  The founder of Bushwick Book Club Malmo (our Swedish Chapter) will be in New York to present new songs and performance inspired by Reidar Jonsson’s My Life As A Dog.

The night will feature original music and performances by:

Sunny Sanam – performance artist, actor
Julie Lamendola – Ching Ching
Sam James – The Wowz
Charlie Nieland –
Christy Davis – GOLD
Casey Holford –
Sophie Malleret
Early Riser – Heidi Vanderlee, Kiri Oliver
Susan Hwang –
Summer Morse
Jessie Kilguss –
Hilary Downes –
Pierre de Gaillande –
Pearl Rhein –
Sweet Soubrette –

Hosted by Susan Hwang with the founders of Bushwick Book Club Malmo – Kristian Carlsson and Thomas Teller,

August 20th, 8pm
City Winery
155 Varick St.
New York, NY 10013
Ph: 212 608-0555
Door: $10

“The Bushwick Book Club takes humdrum book reading to a new level.” — The New York Times



Sunday – Philip Roth in the Park

July 18, 2014

Okay, it’s on this time.  July 20th in Propect Park.  Join us in the southern end of the Big Lawn in Prospect Park under the tree on top of the hill with the Teddy Roosevelt Boy Scout Tablet.  We’ll be the ones playing songs inspired by Goodbye Columbus by Philip Roth.  

Sunday, July 20th, 3 pm
Prospect Park – Teddy Roosevelt Boy Scout Tablet

PerformersPierre de GaillandeJessie KilgussSusan HwangLeslie GravesDave Voigt,Chris RaelDon Rauf, Geoffrey Scott Diesel, Julie LynnMark Lessereaux




Playing the Julia Child-inspired Bushwick Book Club show TONIGHT!

June 25, 2014

It’s that time of the month.  Yes, I’m irritable and angst filled and eating to distraction… because I’m writing a new song.  Sometimes, you have to turn into a horrible person just to get a song out.  I don’t know how other people do it, but that’s my, um, process.  And now I’m single.  But I have this new song to play tonight for Bushwick Book Club, and it’s inspired by Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking.  Come see and hear what souffles and omelettes and butter inspire in performance tonight.  It’s making me hungry.

June 25th, 7pm at Barbes in Brooklyn

The Bushwick Book Club takes on its first cook book with a show of new original music in response to Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  It will be a literary/musical feast at our favorite Park Slope venue.

Performers:  Bob Holman (poet, founder Bowery Poetry Club), SPACE MEOW (Dool Chao, Adeline Thery), Susan HwangLeslie Graves (GOLD), Casey HolfordJessie Kilguss, Sophie Malleret and Shannon Pelcher .  Hosted by BBC creator, Susan Hwang.

Wednesday, June 25th, 7pm
376 9th St.New York, NY 11215
ph: 347-422-0248
Door: by donation


Walk With Me

May 31, 2014

Here’s a new song.  I wrote it for the Bushwick Book Club show at Barbes inspired by Jonathan Ames’ very funny and moving book, Wake Up, Sir.  It’s called Walk With Me.  Chris Rael of Church of Betty who I like so much, tweaked the arrangement, wrote an interlude and made the entire backing track with his own hands!  Who does that for a girl these days???  In case that link went unnoticed, click on the Jonathan Ames below to hear the song:

That’s Jonathan doing the “Hairy Call” that ended the show that night.   That’s the closer.  You really can’t follow that with anything.  It’s the hairy call, and then it’s good night…

All the songs from that show were recorded live and are now available for listening on our bandcamp site.


Marathons, the flow and songs about Orson Welles

November 7, 2013

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:

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.

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