Posts Tagged ‘susan hwang’

Summer

July 28, 2021

Is it boring to talk about the weather? Is it mundane to mention the seasons? I don’t know, sometimes boring is great. Sometimes boring is just what you need, and it takes a lot for me to say that, with my general stance since I was born being that everything should be fun all the time. But I’m thinking now that there’s fun even in boredom. See those threads of fun in the fabric of boredom? What a trick.

It’s been kinda an explosion of extroversion. I was not exactly ready for it, but I think I did okay. Remember that first “party” where it was everybody’s first time in a room with other people, and you were all trying to remember how to socialize? Everyone felt conversationally clumsy. I was all thumbs. My friend Virlana said she was having trouble discerning whether she had just spoken a thought aloud or not. Boy, was it thrilling just to feel that awkward. With people.

Ooo. I’m just realizing that you need people for awkwardness at all. I mean, you can’t feel awkward alone. Can you? So “social awkwardness” is redundant. There might not be such a thing as solitary awkwardness. At least I hope not.

Other thrilling (and somewhat awkward) things in my book:

Released this video for Yara Arts with lyrics from Serhiy Zhadan’s poem “Psalm to Aviation #58.”

And Lila Eaton, the daughter of my best friend from freshman year at college, was here with her TRUMPET and learned the parts *that day* to perform at the release with me and Marlon! Omg. Trumpet dreams do come true.

Lila Eaton on trumpet and Susan Hwang on accordion at the video release event for "Psalm to Aviation 58" based on the poem by Serhiy Zhadan.  The release event included live performances from Susan Hwang with Marlon Cherry on percussion and Lila Eaton on trumpet.
Susan Hwang on accordion. Lila Eaton on trumpet. Marlon Cherry on percussion and backing vocals (not pictured). Photo by Bob Krasner.
Marlon Cherry and me performing the first part of the release event outside on the stoop! Photo by Bob Krasner

Journalist and photographer Bob Krasner also covered Bushwick Book Club‘s first in-person and live streamed event for AM New York. It was a creative feast and a much needed, heartening gathering of artists, musicians and author. I would describe that show for Brandy Schillace’s Mr. Humble & Dr. Butcher as spectacular and deeply satisfying, and Bob’s article really caught the moment and all the layers of meaning in the article and photos.

Okay THEN… Bushwick Book Club presented our first stage at the Porchstomp music festival on Governor’s Island. Here’s some of the documenting I was able to do:

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New music video and music on the stoop with Marlon, Charlie and Penny Arcade.

January 18, 2021

There’s music happening. It’s in multi-dimensional realms with mythical creatures like in the new music video for Charlie’s TIGHTROPE. It’s also right here on the stoop in the East Village with special guest drop-ins like the magnetic irresistible Penny Arcade coming up to sing a few songs.

I’ll include the video clips here, and just so you know, there will be a live stream on January 23rd for 7MPR Dance Company on Facebook. Plus, the first Bushwick Book Club live stream of 2021 is coming February 13th for Kurt Vonnegut’s TIMEQUAKE. There are incredible songwriters chomping at the bit for this! Or rather, they’re chewing their Vonnegut and turning every bite into brand new literary-song GOLD!

The amazing video by B.A. Miale for Charlie Nieland’s song TIGHTROPE.

On the stoop for Accordion Fridays:

Getting ready to go down to the stoop!

It was great to have Penny Arcade there to do a cover of Marlon Cherry’s “Just How Beautiful (You Are)” with Marlon on percussion. She sang to all of 2nd Avenue… when she performs, she opens all of her heart. I felt like she was extending her love to everyone who passed the whole city of course. It was exciting to have her be our special guest for the live stream.

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Lusterlit on the West Coast and The Times

October 31, 2016

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!!!!

September 27, 2016

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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Triple A Trixie in Rouyn Noranda

November 7, 2014

Am I over my October performance art tour of Canada?  No.  No I am not.

Here are some more pictures.  Look, Leslie is green.  It’s the magic of theater.  We are in our world created by the loving and genius hands of Julie Lamendola as we sing Leslie’s song “Sleep.”

09_Triple_A_Trixie_photo®Christian Leduc

10_Triple_A_Trixie_photo®Christian LeducAnd Genevieve with her monologue in the song “V-JJ” that I wrote initially for Bushwick Book Club presents Philip Roth.  It was her improvised vagina monologue.  She initially wasn’t going to talk about her vagina but vaginas in general since her mom was in the audience that night, but in the end, she decided to talk about her vagina after-all.  Her mom was okay.  She knows her daughter has a vagina.

AND… here we are at the finale.  Julie Lamendola’s interpretive vaginal dance.

11_Triple_A_Trixie_photo®Christian LeducIt was the closer.  I mean, where do you go from that.  You go and have a drink and call it a night…  You might want to sigh and digest your feelings, maybe mull it over with fellow spectators, maybe dance, shake it out, let it move through your body, your glorious body that is yours alone to experience the world with.  But that’s about it.

Way to be, Rouyn-Noranda.  Thanks for having us.  You know how to make a vagina feel received.

Photos by Christian Luduc.

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Aygo Chamna and Monday Night with Amrams

August 5, 2014

Hi.  I’m writing to you from Cloud 9.  I don’t know if I’m supposed to be up here.  I’m not going to stay.  I don’t think they let you.  You get booted in time, so you can find another way up.  But it’s nice to make it here today.  I got here with the help of Amrams and Dr. Vella.  It’s a pretty potent combination and one that I couldn’t have planned, but glad I fell into.

You know that David Amram has this monthly residency at Cornelia Street…  I saw it for the first time in May after I had moved onto Hart Street.  Actually, the day I moved in.  Adam moved me to the apartment
and then said he was playing with his dad later on Cornelia Street if I wanted to go.  I was dead beat, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to see the show.  I was charmed and amazed and moved.  David Amram can freestyle.  There’s almost nothing more exciting, right?  It’s like the Cirque du Soleil equivalent of verbal acrobatics.  He’s got all the plates spinning; he’s contorted and balanced and is hanging in impossibly beautiful positions in mid air.  Will he fall?  Will it all come down?  How can this sustain itself?  But instead the contortions continue and now chainsaws are being juggled and then midgets are being balanced on chins, and then he dismounts and lands perfectly on the ground.  It’s like that but with words and singing while playing piano with a 4 piece band.

That night in May, Mr. Amram improvised music to accompany a recited poem.  He followed the story and added drama in whichever way tickled his fingertips, and because of his natural playfulness and musical agility, the accompaniment was as much the story as the words.  It was one of those things I saw and then knew I could do.  There actually aren’t that many things like that.  I mean most things, a lot of things I see, and I think, ‘That looks really hard’ or ‘Not for me in this lifetime.’  Like when I see really good guitar players… really good musicians, any instrument, actually, I kind of know I’m never going to get to that level.  I’m not a virtuoso, not even close, on any instrument.  Honestly, I don’t think it’s in my make-up.  I may not have the head space or the ear or the coordination or the discipline or the, what is that called… talent.   As I explained once, I don’t have any chops.  Maybe one chop on a good day, but plural, never.

But when I saw the poem accompanied by David’s improvisations, I just knew that was something I could do.  So I asked Adam if he thought I could tell a story at the next show.  And he said yes.  And so I had to have a story.

But it was intimidating, as that process often is..  All weekend, I was “writing.”  Which requires all kinds of breaks, like going to pick up my keyboard and eating Chinese food.  There’s lots of time needed for staring off into space.  Suffice to say, it wasn’t exactly flowing.  I thought I could do this.  What the hell?

So the whole weekend, and I’m still confused.. nothing’s clear about the story I want to tell.  Usually it’s pretty obvious to me what I want to say and how I want to say it, but all of a sudden, I’m spewing out things and all kinds of tangents that I’m not sure are interesting…  I’m really wishing I had an editor.  And I mean, this has to be good..  if I’m bad, they might regret letting me do this, and I’ll never be allowed to do anything again ever.  That would be really sad for me.  Very regrettable.  Why did I say I wanted to do this again?

Monday comes, and things are STILL murky.  I can’t do anything but focus on this, but I can’t seem to focus on this…  I’ve got to go to Dr. Vella’s in Queens later…  I’m running late.  He’s running late..  I tell Dr. Vella about my dilemma.  He says he’ll fix me.  He’s a chiropractor, but he’s really not like any chiropractor you’ve ever met.  He just touches little spots on your back and neck and tail bone and then lets you lie face down for a while and then comes back and touches your feet and has you move your head left and right.  And he can check your system to see what it’s compatible with.  I swear, my body never talks to me, but it will talk to Dr. Vella and tell him things.  Answer questions.  Pretty remarkable.  I never knew my feet had so much to say.  Apparently, sugar alcohols are all kryptonite to me.  Who knew.

I leave Dr. Vella’s with that open, mushy liquid feeling… a little vulnerable, but not bad at all…  I work on the piece on train.  I have dread.  I thought maybe I shouldn’t do the show, but the pendulum said I wouldn’t regret it, so I said fine, I’m coming.  I’m writing stuff out by hand, because it’s not like I have a printer.  I’m cutting and re-wording… which sections stay, which sections go?  I’m still writing as the show starts..  I don’t know if this is going to work.  I imagine calling out for the hook to pull me off stage if I get terribly boring.  Can I just carry my own exit hook with me to extract myself out of failing performance situations?  Is that allowed?

But as I start talking (telling the story of the time I dyed my hair blonde and then had to go to my brother’s medical school graduation dinner, so bought a wig to wear so as not to offend my Korean relatives and spirits of my ancestors), I was flanked by Amrams.  I was in their attention.  It was intense.  I had known this before from playing with Adam.  He locks into you, and then whatever you do, he’s already with you; he’s already there.  Now I see where he gets that.  It’s like their whole nervous system takes you in, connects with yours.  You can see it in their eyes, but really it’s their whole being.  And the great thing is, they respond to you with their own creativity and skill.  Which is huge.  I mean, their creativity and skill are huge.  Formidable, really.

So things went where I had no idea they would go.  Some of the parts I doubted the most ended up being the most fun.  The audience responded in ways I hadn’t anticipated which changed what I did, which affected the band, which affected me and then the audience… whoa… we were on this ride.  I was out there on this wave with two Amrams in the Cornelia Street Cafe.  You didn’t even know there was ocean in that basement, did you.

I’ve never actually been surfing in my life, but I can’t imagine it could be more thrilling than that.

I jumped off the stage like I was just delivered to shore.  The rest of that night, I kept thinking, gosh, my parents came to this country.  We had no idea what we were in for.  But look, last night happened.  I did a scary thing that ended up with me surfing with Amrams in a historic venue in New York City.  What a thrill.  Thanks mom and dad for being brave enough to come to this country even though I now can only speak Korean like a three-year-old, and it caused you much heartache because your kids did exactly what you told them not to do–art.

Last night will not be written about except for here.  I don’t think it was recorded.  The memory may please some of the people who were there for a little while.  Certainly, any enjoyment or expansiveness of a shared moment like that does something good to you and adds some measure of joy and connectedness to your store of joy and connectedness.  I think there’s that.  I don’t think any time spent in pleasure and sharing is time wasted.  However, even with the transience of last night’s moment, I count that moment.  I mark it in bold, for myself, because I walked through some dread and uncertainty to arrive on a stage with incredible people, and we created something.  We made something.  Really the whole room made something, because we were informing and affecting each other the whole time.  And me there, who came to this country as a toddler, with parents who never wanted me to sing in public, I got to share that stage and be a part of an American culture of music and performance.  My parents never wanted this, but isn’t it great.  I’m really happy about it.  Sometimes the best things are the things you never could have imagined.  I’m glad for all these moments that don’t last, past and future, doing what my folks never ever imagined, but what makes me happiest.

Look, Amrams have a penchant for musical multi-tasking.  My theory is, you throw an Amram any two things, and he/she will play them at once:

David Amram on flutes (an Egyptian song):

And Adam on drums and trumpet in my room.  That’s me singing along like an idiot (albeit a happy idiot):

See that space, that space between the 2 Amrams?  That’s where I was standing, talking about my hair.  And.. the obligatory selfie in front of Cornelia Street Cafe.  David Amram said, “That was a great story!  Does your mom know you’re telling that story?  I bet she would really like that.”  Well, he obviously doesn’t know my mother, but I called her today and mentioned it.  She was silent mostly in response.  I asked her if she remembered that time with the wig.  She said, of course.  How could she forget?  I asked, what was it that you said when I took off that wig?  She said, “Aygo chamna.”  I asked what exactly that translates into.  I know what it means for me, but I wondered what the exact words were.  She said it translates into “Oh my god.  So awful.”  Oh, I now have the next album title…Share

My hair knows things now.

July 11, 2014

It was just a haircut, but it was also a reflection of my evolution as a being.

I tell Hannah that I want Brigitte Bardot hair (the usual).  She gives me layering options.  We let the pendulum (Pendgie) decide on the classic cut/shape for me, and I head off for shampooing.

I’m met by a lithe young woman named Ford.  I’m a little intimidated at first at how lovely she is.  She’s effortlessly beautiful in her strappy white top and brown skin.  The kind of girl whose only needed cosmetic is a nice tan.  Her loveliness has this eternal quality to it.  Surely, she must be immortal.  I should have asked.

I normally feel like a truck driver around women this pretty.  This happens  a lot around French women who have a built in, cultural or genetic quality of impossible femininity.  Like Asians have this genetic connection to cute things–hence the creation of Hello Kitty and Hello Kitty-like things.  But the French women have this extreme, hyper, yet refined, femininity.  It is a force.  And around it, I always feel like a truck driver.  Actually, when I think about it, I often feel like a truck driver, whether I’m around the French or not.  It’s weird when I catch myself in the mirror and realize I don’t actually look like one.  I am, however, a very good driver.  And I can parallel park with the fearless abandon of an Olympic figure skater or um, Errol Flynn or Inigo Montoya (prepare to die…). .  I’d like to learn to drive camels and elephants one day, because I have a friend who says he needs a mahout.

So I didn’t ask if Ford is immortal, but I found out she has the hands of a goddess.  This is the view I have of her as she presses and rubs my head. Come on, mythic beauty.  You can see why I was questioning her mortality.  She does this amazing thing where she presses hard on the very top of my head.  Oh, this must be my reset button!  Ford, is making me new!  I make  sounds.  She asks if it’s too hard.  I say, you can’t press too hard on my head.  You just can’t.  And we talk about how expressions of pleasure and pain are sometimes indistinguishable.  I think, what a wonderful thing to give a person for a living.  Of course, she’s apprenticing to become a stylist herself there at Blackstones.   But I was thinking, if I could, I would give up my mahout dreams and just wash peoples’ hair, pressing on their heads until they felt like heaven.  I think that would be fulfilling.

So they start haircuts at Blackstones with ecstasy, which is a very nice

way to start.  And then I go to Hannah’s chair where you can bare your soul and be received with expert attention all while getting that much closer to Brigitte Bardot.

Speaking of bare..  yes, that’s a bear in between us.  And an antelope.  Or I guess a deer.

I tell Hannah that I’ve finally made peace with my forehead.  It only took about 41 years.  My whole life, I bemoaned my mediocre forehead.  I wanted it to be as large as Rita Hayworth’s Hollywood-altered forehead.  Or this.

Now this is a forehead.  This forehead is royalty.  And romance.  You can dream on this forehead.  Carol Lombard’s forehead is moonlit nights and mystery and the height of everything.

Hannah and I have had similar forehead issues.  We’ve both tried covering them up with bangs and strictly-enforced side parts.  For over ten years I had Bettie Page bangs, then various bang-like fluctuations, and then finally, in my forties, I’ve said, you know what, I’m going to just let my forehead be my forehead.  So what.  And you know, for the first time in my life, I love my hair.  I walked into the salon that day and said to Hannah (who gave me my last cut as well), I love my hair.  I don’t know why I’m here.  I love it.  I guess maybe trim it a little?  She did.  It was a touch up refresher.

I told her that I’m not married to my side part either.  She agreed–why be committed to a side part?  Yes, these days, I let the part fall where it may.. the middle, off from the middle, left right.  It does what it wants.  All the time.  Which brings me to my new motto:  Do What You Want All of The Time.

Honestly, anything else only gets you in trouble.

So see, sometimes it takes you 41 years, but you eventually get to learn flexibility and acceptance.  Even my hair knows it.

I’ll leave on this note.  Hannah is one of my heroes.  She’s one of the amazing young women I met working at Goodbye Blue Monday.  What I lacked in tips at the bar I certainly made up for in inspiration from the young people around me.  They were all (still are) like 15 years younger than me, but they moved me so much in how they shaped their lives into what they wanted them to be.  Hannah was working at the cafe, but wanted to be a hair stylist.  She got up the nerve to ask her favorite salon, and they hired her.  She worked her way up to being a top stylist/cutter there.  She transformed her life, and she spends all day transforming other people.  She’s all about making everything more beautiful.  I think that’s beautiful.

I feel like that generation of girls has less fear than mine?  Or maybe just less fear than me…  but I don’t think I’ve ever changed my life like that, where I get to do what I want most of the time.  I think it’s because I never believed I could, so I just let things happen instead of directing myself where I want to go.  I’ve always been a good driver, but if you don’t have a sense of where you want to go and the bravery to move in that direction, then you’ll just parallel park or sit in traffic.  Well..  better late than never.  And I have great inspiration from those friends I made at GBM.  My hair is already learning things like flexibility and acceptance.  Where is that elephant..Share

Show in Red Hook Tonight

June 20, 2014

If the animal parts have trouble coming off, we’ll just change our name to The Relasticats.

The show is tonight at Bait and Tackle in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Tonight, Friday, June 20th, 10pm
Bait and Tackle
320 Van Brunt St.
Brooklyn
ph: (718) 451-4665
Door: by donation

We are playing songs inspired by physicist, Richard Feynman, plus a new doo-wop inspired by Philip Roth and girl parts.  Join us at Bait and Tackle with our friends Jessie Kilguss and her band playing her beautiful alt. country originals.  We can walk by the water afterwards and gorge ourselves on negative ions.  Oh look, we’re making up our own perfect pre-solstice rituals.  That is so resourceful of us….

Last night, we raised money for this guy:


 

Charlie requires 2 surgeries to have an abscess removed from his ear.  He’s got an active lifestyle.

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Tonight: TRANSformative – A Night of Songs that Propel Us

March 24, 2014

Oh geeze, when favorite human, Barbara Maier invites you to play a song for a star-studded, super-cabaret benefit for Joe’s Pub, New York Voices and the Ali Forney Center, you just say yes.  Even if you’re not sure who you are anymore and you don’t have a clue as to what to wear.  I will be there, wearing something that does not feel quite right, but flanked by lovely friends/musicians who do–Julie Delano, Julie Lamendola, Johnny Dydo (drums)and Zane Van Dusen (bass).  We will sing a song about physicist, Richard Feynman, because the night is about movement and change, and he studied the essences of everything, and often described everything as being made up of tiny bits that were “jiggling” all the time.  Everything’s moving all the time.  And as a professional thinker, he found that you didn’t have to pound the problems to get the answers.  You could tap at them lightly.  That’s what the song is about.  Tap-tap-tapping…

Look at the line-up.  Good lord…

Justin Vivian Bond, Michael Cavadias, Angela Di Carlo, Eisa Davis, Miguel Gutierrez, Nicholas Gorham, Carol Lipnik, Amber Martin, Lady Rizo, Viva Ruiz,Chris Rael, Sanda Weigl, Earl Dax and MORE!

An FB event link from Chris Rael: https://www.facebook.com/events/229607627239917/

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© Susan Hwang 2017. Photo: Carrie Jordan, ShotsByCarrieLou.com. Site design by Billkwando@yahoo.com