Thursday, September 27, 2018

Closing this weekend--Don't miss!

I just saw a terrific production of Maxim Gorky's first play, Meshahnye, at the Theater for the New City. Written in 1901 and first produced a year later, it's a drama of family conflict during the upheaval of pre-revolutionary Russia.  Director and co-translator Jenny Sterlin introduced the show with a warning that the intermission would be a "hard" 10 minutes because "it's a long play--it's Russian."   Long it is--we got out a few minutes before 11--but worth every minute.

It closes on September 30.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Vietnam Veterans Plaza

Somehow I didn't realize, or had forgotten until this month, that New York City has a memorial to Vietnam veterans, created in the same era as the one in Washington, DC, the early 1980s. It's a small riverside park on South Street called Vietnam Veterans Plaza. Two days ago, thinking about John McCain, I stopped and spent some time there.

Etched on the glass wall are quotations from writings of New Yorkers who served in Vietnam, including this letter from LT JG Richard W. Strandberg:  "One thing worries me--will people believe me?  Will they want to hear about it or will they want to forget the whole thing ever happened."  And this, from a poem by Major Michael Davis O'Donnell, written shortly before he was killed in action on March 24, 1970:

And in that time  When men decide and
Feel safe to call the war insane . . .
Take a moment to embrace those
Gentle heroes you left behind . . .

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Aretha, now

If you happen to see this on August 19, right now, and till midnight, WKCR (89.9) is playing nonstop Aretha.

Can't tear myself away.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Yes, Karen Finley's back!

But then, she never left.

Brilliant, fearless, and deep, Karen Finley will forever be associated with a 1989 performance, We Keep Our Victims Ready, in which she applied chocolate to her bare torso, while speaking disturbing truths about sexual abuse and the claims of love that accompany it.

Outraged conservatives spearheaded the passage of a law mandating that NEA grants comply with "general standards of decency and respect for all the diverse beliefs and values of the American public," thereby leading the NEA to veto Finley's latest grant application, along with those of three other artists. The NEA Four, as they were called, sued the agency on the grounds that their First Amendment rights were being violated, won in the lower courts, but in 1998--after the Clinton administration elected to continue the appeal--lost in the Supreme Court.

Through the years since, Finley has continued speaking truth to power in performance and in print.
Her latest, Grabbing Pussy, is as timely and provocative as the title suggests.

You can catch her Sunday, August 5 and 12, at the Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Cafe, in New York City, an intimate space that's well-suited for her.

And on September 12, she'll be at the ISSUE Project Room, as part of the Brooklyn Book Festival.

She tours, too.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Still true, I think

The things that turn up in old notebooks . . .

In one of mine, dated August 9, 2004, something Clinton (Bill, I assume) said, more or less, on the Daily Show:

"If you're a Democrat, you win when people think."

Two Stories and a Poem

 Earlier this year, two short stories of mine were published by print journals--"Bandits" in the Humber Literary Review and "Alterations" in Saint Ann's Review.  The stories aren't currently available on line, but the issues as a whole are well worth reading.

And my poem "Prairie" appeared in the latest issue, entitled Hello & Goodbye, of Spillway.

Pyramid Schemes and Roast Corn

Two essays of mine have just been posted on literary websites.  At The Smart Set, a journal published by Drexel University that features a wide variety of excellent work, you can read "The Price of a Friendship."

And my essay "A Feast Day of Roast Corn Up in Michigan" (first published years ago by the New York Times)  was a finalist in the semiannual travel writing contest run by the literary travel journal Nowhere, and may be read  on their website (with copy restored that the Times had dropped):