September 11, 2012 § 2 Comments
It’s the perfect blue skies that always remind me of that morning eleven years ago now. The skies and the air feel the same and that’s always what takes me back.
Last year was the big 10th anniversary of September 11th 2001 that also marked my ten years in New York that inspired more lengthy reflections. My feelings about the political and emotional circumstances around this day have not changed much since last year and the same feeling are echoed even further back. I’m tired of war and tired of patriotism and ready for real critical reflection, justice and peace. Searching in my old files, I found this piece I wrote about September 11 in 2003:
“On that morning language failed… In those moments of not knowing, not being able to articulate what was going on on a massive scale, I knew that never again could I believe in a narrow idea of “truth.” No singular narrative could ever capture that, or any experience. Of course, since then I’ve witnessed many attempts to manipulate these diverse and disparate narratives into one master narrative. A narrative that believes in an idea of “America” as benevolent while at the same time baying for vengeance…
Remembering September 11th is a reminder to me of how the damage done by violence of any kind is permanent. Whether that violence is an act of war, abuse, police brutality, or not having food, housing or medical care, or is emotional, physical, sexual, or psychological. These types and acts of violence are not the same, but the systems that perpetuate them are similar and inter-related… Because it continues to haunt me I know I need to oppose domination and oppression, and the acts of violence that feed them, everywhere. I feel I must do this in order for healing to be possible. Healing is possible, even though the effects of violence stay with us. I believe this because I feel everyone’s life needs to be about more than just survival.”
Reading this now I still stand behind the politics and emotions expressed in that piece. However, I think, I have found a way to heal by slowly, deliberately and stubbornly building a life in this city. I have worked hard to find health and creativity and to inspire that in others. I still struggle with how best I can help contribute to a city that’s a just and beautiful place to live for all and how I can support and engage my own creativity, but I feel my small daily contributions and actions strive towards these ideals.
My life, and New York City, is obviously so different than it was eleven years ago. I had no idea how to picture myself at 31 at that time. Being an adult seemed impossibly far away with such a looming and intense event in the foreground. Looking back today I can say that the 20 year old me who witnessed those tragic events from my 6th floor dorm room in Union Square would be pleased with the 31 year old I have become looking at two towers of light rising into the sky in remembrance and tribute from Brooklyn.
September 5, 2012 § 1 Comment
As some of you know, for the past few months I’ve been working on GO, a borough-wide, community-curated open studio event organized by the Brooklyn Museum. After months of planning, preparation and outreach the open studio weekend is upon us! This Saturday and Sunday, September 8th and 9th, over 1,700 artists with studios all over Brooklyn will open their doors to you from 11 am to 7 pm. I am so excited about GO because it showcases the diversity of artistic talent that Brooklyn has to offer. It also gives viewers the chance to see art in places they never knew artists were working, whether that’s under their nose in their own neighborhood or farther afield.
I’ve been working as the neighborhood coordinator for my beloved neighborhood, Sunset Park, where 160 artists will open their studios! I knew artists worked in the neighborhood, but I’ve been so pleased about just how many artists there are and how many want to participate in GO. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to think about how we can continue to promote art in Sunset Park as a group and our first small step is a Tumblr page, Sunset Park Artists, for participating artists to share images of new work and work in progress. There’s also two fantastic nonprofits, Chashama and the New York Art Residency and Studio Foundation that offer artists affordable studio space, and many artists with studios in these buildings are participating. I’ve also put together a Sunset Park guide of places to eat and hang out before, after or during seeing studios. Why not make a weekend out of coming to Sunset Park? All of these sites give you a little taste of what you will find here in the neighborhood!
To learn more about participating in GO as a viewer and voter, search neighborhoods and explore the profiles participating artists visit gobrooklynart.org. If you want more information about Sunset Park artists stop by the Green Fig Cafe on Saturday or Sunday between 11 and 3 and I’ll give you all the information you need to get out and see art. See you in the studios!
August 17, 2012 § 3 Comments
It’s a cliche to say it, but can you believe how fast the summer goes? All around me I see announcements for “the last (your summertime activity here) of the season!” Already? I’m still sorting through my photos from France and there will be a myriad of posts coming soon, but in the meantime, here’s a little review of my summer activity so far. Enjoy and bon week-end!
June 24, 2012 § 2 Comments
For the first time since I was sixteen and used to compete in horse shows, I got up early on a Sunday morning for a sporting event. The event was the fourth annual Punk Rope Games, where teams of punk ropers competed in events like the chicken toss relay, as well as more “traditional” jump rope events, in addition to performing a fight song to show off their skills.
I love punk rope because it combines fitness drills with serious fun, absurdity, music and team spirit. Tim and Shana, who run Punk Rope, are the most giving and energetic people who make the idea of fitness accessible to those who whose first impulse is not to be active.
My bandmate Marisha signed me up to participate in the games and after some brainstorming we opted for the surreal and based our look and name our favorite internet video of the moment of Henri, the depressed French cat.
This being our first games, and the fact we hardly practiced at all, meant that we manged to not score any points. I do think we nailed our 75 second “fight song” routine, which we did to that enduring 90s classic “Jump Around” by House of Pain. The downside of this is that song is now stuck in my head. And the lyrics are way worse than I remember.
We also managed to heckle and cheer the other teams in bizarre, not quite French accents using odd expressions that proclaimed the superiority of the French culture and lifestyle (you all know I love France and I love to laugh at it too as much as I like to laugh at my own country).
The teams performances and costumes made the event like a mash up between gym class and CHERYL, my favorite arty, off the hook dance party.
The eventual champions, Phat Positive, also put together a video to show off their skills even before the games. They have raised the bar for next year, and next year, my teammates and I will be ready.
However, my favorite part of the games was the after party, where we got to revel in the camaraderie that is Punk Rope. Of course, I had to change my clothes and put together a relaxed, sporty outfit for the occasion.
What gets you up early on a Sunday morning?
Thank you to Felicity Hogan for the great shots of Team Henri in action!
June 15, 2012 § 2 Comments
I’m really excited to tell you about a great, new project that I’m involved in. The Brooklyn Museum, my favorite museum in the world, has launched GO, a community-curated, open studio event. During GO, Brooklyn-based artists are asked to open their studios to the community on September 8–9, 2012. Community members registered as voters will visit studios and nominate artists for inclusion in a group exhibition to open at the Museum on Target First Saturday, December 1, 2012.
GO brings together so many of my favorite things: contemporary art, the Brooklyn art scene, social media, and the cultural life of the borough. Knowing that Brooklyn is a huge borough with 71 square miles and 67 different neighborhoods, the Brooklyn Museum is working with 22 neighborhood coordinators to help get the word out. I’m serving as a neighborhood coordinator for my favorite Brooklyn neighborhood, Sunset Park. If you see a redhead taking up posters or distributing GO postcards along 5th avenue or down in the industrial waterfront, that just might be me! You can meet the different coordinators, learn about art highlights in different neighborhoods, and learn more about the GO project on the very lively GO tumblr.
If you are artist with a studio in Brooklyn you have until June 29 to register to participate in the open studio weekend. You can find out more and register on the GO website. If you don’t have a studio, but want to go see art in Brooklyn on September 8th and 9th, mark your calendar! Registration for voters opens August 1st.
June 13, 2012 § 4 Comments
June is always a fickle month. It’s not quite summer, but I’m already itching to go to the beach, to feel the sand between my toes, the sun on my back, and to spend long lazy days by the ocean or on the board walk, letting my cares drift away.
For a June birthday celebration we wove a nautical theme into a Saturday afternoon with clams at Randazzo’s Clam Bar in Sheepshead Bay (offering fried seafood that is, reportedly “the pride of Sheepshead Bay”), a walk along the board walk at Brighton Beach and a stop at Ruby’s Bar in Coney Island. In honor of all things sea worthy I pulled out my old favorite LL Bean tote bag and paired it with a very matching Built by Wendy dress.
This was the perfect outfit to show off my new Ellips shoes from designer Priscille Demanche’s Spring/Summer 2012 collection. She had a 4 day sale on my birthday and when I emailed her and said that I was offering myself a pair of her sandals as a gift she gave me free shipping all the way from France! What a darling! And hurry, she has organized a sale to benefit a charity of your choice on her past season collections just until Friday the 15th. Up to 60% off and a donation to a good cause! Shop your shoes at the Ellips site here (don’t hesitate to email Priscille if you are ordering from outside of France) and vote on which association should benefit here.
See you on the beach and the boardwalk this summer!
Thanks to my friend Heather Donahue for the lovely photographs!
April 22, 2012 § 8 Comments
There’s a few weeks in April and May that are fleetingly perfect. The sun is out, the breeze blows, you can wear stylish layers, but not overheat, and still not freeze if you happen to forget your jacket. Flowers pop and everywhere you look there is renewed energy, color and vigor. This past weekend was an oportune time to pay a spring visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens where, thanks to a strangely warm spring, the cherry trees and lilacs are in full bloom several weeks early.
In planning my outfit I wanted to dress to match the colors I knew would be in full effect and also dress to around comfortably. Azaleas, lilacs, cherry trees, tulips, and peonies are all in bloom right now… I knew the color palate would be pink, fuchsia, lavender, magenta and rose, so I put together the hot colors of the season: tangerine and bright pink, with the print of the season: floral. It was the perfect time to introduce my new shirt by Canadian designer Jennifer Glasgow that I bought in Montreal. With transparent tangerine and floral prints its on trend and timeless. Also, do you like how my pants disappear into the azalea bushes? Finally, did you know you can check out the status of the cherry blossoms at BBG on their bloom map?
I love the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in any season, but in early spring it is over the top with color and flowers. It’s wonderful for a weekend morning wander with friends and as a word to the wise, if you get there between 10 am and noon on Saturday entry is free! What is your favorite thing to do in spring?
April 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
When the MC on the second night of Chickfactor zine’s For the Love of Pop 20th anniversary show admitted to being, “A zip code fetishists who sent concealed pocket money to mysterious post offices boxes in hopes that weeks, sometimes months, later news from the outside world in the form of zines and records would return to my mysterious post office box,” I shared a knowing look with the group of ladies I had come to the show with. We could relate. We all met each other through the post and once referred to ourselves as the “Zine Girl Army.”
Chickfator was, at times, infuriatingly snobby and unabashedly self referential. The editors, Gail O’Hara and Pam Berry, had impeccable taste in independent and underground pop music. The magazine was mostly a showcase of the editors friends and they referred to them by their first name and the name of their project, for example “Gail Chickfator.” In the late 1990′s and early 2000′s I loved to read it for a window into a world of indie musicians, both ladies and dudes, that interacted and partied and frankly, existed, somewhere outside of my small town, teenaged life. My friend Alex used to get so annoyed at Chickfactor’s inflated tone of self-importance he would rant ad nauseam on about it, but of course, couldn’t wait until the next issue came out. Chickfactor, and other zines like it, set the tone and the scene for today’s music blogs and helped paved the way for the explosion of indie pop bands like The Pains for Being Pure at Heart hitting it big time.
No matter how you felt about it, Chickfactor had a magnetism and a draw larger than the publication itself. Twenty years later they were able to pull off a three-night extravaganza in two cities featuring bands who I thought had long since broke up with no chance of reunion. Lois, Small Factory, and Black Tambourine. And the Aislers Set! A favorite band from the moment I heard them in 1998 until they stopped playing so frequently, perhaps circa 2004? Since my head has been in the sand about music since about 2008, I relied on Dominick to give me a hot tip about the reunion and bought tickets the minute they went on sale.
The Chickfactor shows were like a class reunion of people I actually wanted to see. It was a reunion of those of us poured our hearts out in letters and cassette tapes and sent them to each other. Laster some of those friends became my everyday friends (and still are) and close neighbors. Seeing people I used to see at shows was almost as exciting as the music itself. Perhaps most awesome, Marissa “Red Hooded Sweatshirt” came down from Boston to join Laura “The Other Ramona,” Keight “Pink Tea,” Yumi “External Text” and me (Eleanor “Indulgence”) for pre-Aislers Set tacos. We all used to go to shows together in Boston and attend zine events around the northeast over ten years ago. When we sat down to eat tacos Laura turned to Marissa and said, “I haven’t seen you in 11 years!”
My friend Kirsten “Lightening Bug” surprised me by flying into Chicago. We staked out space by the front of the stage for Black Tambourine and the next night, for Aislers Set. She reminded me that she had visited me in NYC in 2002 to see the Aislers Set in Williasmburg when I said something to the effect of, “This neighborhood is just getting really gentrified” to explain it to her. “It’s our 10 year Aislers Set reunion!” she announced.
The reunited bands full of energy and sparkle and sounded as fresh as they did ten or fifteen or twenty years ago. Lois performed with Peter from Heavenly and Molly Neuman and played “Strumpet,” which I quoted on my senior page in the yearbook.
My heart raced as she sang, “I laugh too much, I talk too loud, people stare at me when I’m in a crowd, you say I walk around like I own the whole place, but I do, but anyone else can have it all too, just walk around the town like you own it.” I turned to my friend Amelia, who also went to my high school, “This was on my senior page!” I whispered. She smiled, “I know.”
Black Tambourine were revelatory. So many bands now are playing washed out, reverbed out, noisy music with bitter sweet vocals (ahem, my band might do this too), but Black Tambourine helped start that sound. Hearing them alive made all those who cite them as a reference seem pale in comparison.
Small Factory also rocked out with upbeat disappointment and plenty of jagged, self effacing lyrics. They played one my favorite song, singing the chorus loud and heartfelt, “I’m not giving up, I’m not giving up on nothing, I still believe in nothing, just not so much in love.” To hear these words ring out over buzzing guitars and a sea of people left me feeling like if I’m still here, still listening to this music and still loving it as much as ever, I must have done something right in my life.
The second night British folk singer Bridget St. John entranced me with her ethereal yet earthy songs, but the real highlight for me was The Aislers Set, who played at the very end of the night. My friends and I staked out space in the front of the stage and refused to move. “We’re doing this 90’s style!” Constance announced, meaning, we’re staking our claim and not moving, just like we used to do as younger music fans. It was worth it. To have no frustratingly tall people between us and Linton and watch every strum of her 12 string guitar was better than I could have even dared to hope for.
I love the Aislers Set. Their songs are catchy and poppy, and Linton’s lyrics are like stories that you tell someone about the small thoughts you have everyday that somehow add up to a profound reflection on your life. Her imagery always makes me soar, “The queen of every rooftop,” is one line I love. Their sound is big – big guitars, big pounding drums, big layers and harmonies, but still delicate and jangly.
As I soaked in their songs I realized a significant portoin of my life from about age 18 to 23 was spent listening to the Aislers Set. When they played “Mary’s Song,” with its wistful start and bass line that comes in like a tug on your heart strings tears came to my eyes. In away, I thought, my dreams from the time I listened to these records on repeat have come true, but I still feel the same wistfulness and longing that this song so perfectly captures.
When the Aislers Set took the stage an audience member cried out, “It’s been too long!” Indeed, it has been. My life has been missing the Aislers Set.
I don’t know if there will ever be a new issue of Chickfactor, but if there is I will surely read it. I am grateful for the community I know and got to re-experience at the shows thanks to zines and 90’s indie rock. I’m grateful that creative people who make music and help make my world so great are in my city and I don’t have to wait for their letters in my mailbox. I’m grateful the rise of social media has made keeping tabs on a wider scene so much easier. But the Chickfactor shows also demonstrated how much was built during those days of zip code fetishism. As Lois sang, “I make a scene, I read about my scene in a magazine.” She then added, “I’m glad that for me at that time it was magazines because Tumblr just doesn’t have the same ring to it.”
January 25, 2012 § 2 Comments
I’ll return to the escapism of the tropics in a moment, but I couldn’t help but note that it has been a year and a few days since I started a new job in DUMBO (which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), Brooklyn. The neighborhood is wedged between the river, the BQE, the Navy Yard and old factories. It is home to galleries, arts organizations, fancy boutiques and a growing number of condos, yet still retains its quiet, cobbled, industrial feel. From my desk I have a view of the East River and use my iPhone to document the changing of the weather, seasons, clouds, light and sky. I’ve become an astute observer of light on smoke stacks and passing ferries, barges and tugs on the river. Enjoy my little window on New York City. There is a full set on Flickr.
November 9, 2011 § 1 Comment
It started with a tweet, “When I am I going to see Corita play?” It seemed like a simple enough question, except that the author of the tweet was Michel, of the indie band MiLK & Fruit Juice and he lives in France. Unfortunately Corita did not have (and still does not have) any plans to play a show in France. Or anywhere else outside of New York. So I wrote back, “I don’t know, when are you coming to New York? I’ll set up a show.” Then I got a better idea, “Why don’t you play a solo show with us?” When Michel told me he was coming to NYC in September I wasted no time in booking a venue. However, I knew the other members of MiLK & Fruit Juice could not come to NYC and that being on stage alone in a new city is intimidating, and so I volunteered to be the backing band.
First of all, let me explain why I love MiLK & Fruit Juice: Michel writes catchy, dreamy songs that are full of heart. Some of them sound a bit twee, with with accents of toy instruments and excellent backing vocals from Marjorie and Sabine, but there’s also a twist of sadness, irony and realism. I am delighted to have met someone all the way across the Atlantic that shares so many of the same musical interests and passions as me. While that may seem like a small thing in this Internet age, when you meet in person, it still seems pretty magical.
On a rainy night in September at Spike Hill in Williamsburg the Pale Lights, MiLK & Fruit Juice and Corita shared the stage. Michel and I had one practice together under our belt and I was playing drums and singing back up on five of his songs. The day of the show I listened to the songs from his well-crafted album I’m Cold Handed Because I Have No Heart to Pump The Blood Through My Fingers on repeat. That night Michel debuted a beautiful, vintage Silvertone guitar he had found at Rivington guitars. I got to break out of my usual role as a guitar player and play drums, with drum sticks that Lisa Goldstein of the Pale Lights loaned to me for Michel’s set. Apparently I kept the fact that I play drums secret from my friends, but I actually took drum lessons for several years in middle school! I never really graduated beyond a 4/4 rock beat though. In any event, it was really fun (and a little nerve wracking) to be on stage playing drums supporting a friend whose music I love and who lives so far away. Anne, who co-runs the label MonsterK7 in Montreal and Paris, took these beautiful photos and video, and Sabine was kind enough to share with me. Enjoy and if you like Michel’s music perhaps you will set up a show for him in your town! Or at least buy his record.