Friday, July 25, 2008


Call me Max.
Max the dreamer.
Max the poet.
Max the dog.

My dream is to live in Paris.
To live in Paris and be a Poet.

These are the first words I came across fifteen years ago, when I opened the front cover of Max Makes a Million. That moment marked the beginning of my ongoing love affair with the work of author/illustrator/designer Maira Kalman.

I read and re-read and re-re-read and re-re-re read that book, soaking up the way the words were arranged and the way they played off the illustrations. I was amazed by the way that earth tones appeared alongside of sorbet colors to create images that were both whimsical and sophisticated. I was delighted by references - in words and in paintings – to aspects of life in New York City. There, for example, in the painting of “The Museum of Incredibly Modern Art” were the very same black grid chairs in MOMA’s sculpture garden that always left tiny squares in my legs and backside!

I gave the book as gifts to adults and read it aloud to children. I distinctly remember sitting in Barnes and Nobles ten years ago, reading Max Makes a Million to twin six-year-old boys. I came to this passage, and they made me read it over and over again and laughed harder each time that I did:

Bruno and I left the studio. Walking to lunch
we passed the door of the mysterious twins
Otto and Otto
and their two dogs
Otto and Otto.

Then there is my personal favorite passage, spoken by Max himself:

There is an old Chinese proverb that says parents must give their children two things, roots and wings. I have the roots. Now I want wings.

The book, at its heart, is about going after ones dreams ,which is why it has appeal and relevance for people of all ages.

Kalman went on to write and illustrate other picture books, and I relished all of those, too. There was Max in Hollywood, Baby; Chicken Soup, Boots; Ooh-la-la, Max in Love; Swami on Rye; Next Stop, Grand Central; and What Pete Ate. I went on several occasions to see her artwork at the Julie Saul gallery in Chelsea and also visited the Children’s Museum of Manhattan when they featured an exhibit based on Maira's picture books.

I saw Ms. Kalman's artwork appear in many other places - on the cover of The New Yorker, in The Sunday New York Times Magazine and in the newest edition of The Elements of Style. I saw her designs appear on Kate Spade merchandise and was overjoyed to find a mural of hers at Wave Hill Cultural Center depicting its lush and glorious landscape. Most recently, I enjoyed receiving as a gift The Principles of Uncertainty, the content of which came from her New York Times blog of the same name.

Every time I see Ms. Kalman’s work out in the world, there is the joy of recognition same as when I see someone I love unexpectedly on the street or when I see a dachshund dashing by on the sidewalk. Ah! Something I love – there it is again! Hooray!

So you can imagine my surprise and delight when Ms. Kalman granted an interview in her Manhattan abode.

At the door, I was greeted by her dog Pete (as seen in What Pete Ate) . He was dressed in crème color fur and Ms. Kalman in a crisp white outfit.

We all sat down for some conversation.

What has Ms. Kalman been up to these days?

As of late, Maira has been working under the auspices of the Robinhood Foundation and Pentagram Design Studio to create a three dimensional installation for a public elementary school in the Bronx. The central concept of this 3-D collage is that of a wall poem about the alphabet. It will be made of found objects, made objects, drawings, photographs, letters, words, and bits of text from books.

Maira likes the fact that the children will see mundane objects used as art, thus learning that they can create art from the stuff that is right around them.

For the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia, Maira is working on a project based on Lincoln ephemera – letters, photos, etc. - in commemoration of the bicentennial of his birthday.

She’s also creating fabric based on maps for Maharam, a New York based textile design company.

Ms. Kalman was once a student at The High School of Music and Art right here in New York. What was that experience like for her?

Ms. Kalman originally went to HSMA for music. Her entrance was based on her skills as a pianist and, once admitted, she also found her way into the choir.
An important part of being at the school was getting the message that an artist is a real thing to be.

Maira went on to attend college at NYU. Her original focus on writing and she added drawing to her repertoire.

Her literary inspirations include Cummings, Austin and Nabokov. She’s currently reading Ulysses which she describes as “a full time job” that is both stupendous and sleep-inducing.

Does Maira collaborate with other artists?

Maira’s collaborations have been with her late husband, her current beau, and well as with a longtime friend and composer Nico Muhly. Her joint projects tend to evolve out and extend from already existing relationships.

Mostly, Ms. Kalman is a solitary worker who is “looking and absorbing in a daydream world.”

What does Maira like to do when she is not working?

She likes to clean things, travel, and walk. “I’d be happy to walk around the world, just not through wars or up steep mountains,” she shared.

Maira’s ideal is one where work and life are integrated in a seamless way where one can “be pragmatic and in another world at the same time.”

Are there other artists whom Maira considers to be kindred spirits?

Yes, and here’s a list of some of them:

Charlotte Solomon, a woman who made hundreds of gouache paintings of her life and who created books which were exhibited. Ms. Solomon was killed by Nazis in the 1940s.

Louise Bourgeois and Kiki Smith, who are both “trying to inhabit a few different worlds at once.” They both tell a narrative story and use imagery made up of dreams, memory, and childhood.

Eva Hess and Matisse.

From the world of children’s books: Lewis Carol, who wrote Alice in Wonderland and, by using humor on different levels, engaged both young people and adults. William Steig. Ludwig Bemelmans, author of the Madeleine books.

What is Maira’s daily schedule?

First, she does early morning exercise with a friend. Then, she spends time in her studio which is also in the building where she lives. Next, she gathers inspiration and ideas by wandering around New York.

Maira also spends a great deal of time traveling.

What’s the story of Maira and dogs? They appear a lot in her books.

When Maira was a child, she was terrified of pets. As an adult, she liked them conceptually. When her children were young, she got Pete – the dog she’s had for the past eleven years.

How does Maira like to spend her birthday?

In a quiet celebration with her family.


Since I missed it at the theatre, I've been waiting impatiently for Step Up 2: The Streets to come out on video. When the only copy at the local video store was already checked out, I asked the clerk if she had any other good dance movies on hand. She suggested Center Stage, which I have seen a dozen times already but am still willing to spend an evening with because it's so much fun (and set in Lincoln Center!) She also recommended Save the Last Dance, which I'd also seen on various occasions.

Turns out, she didn't have either of those flicks either. After a couple of minutes of research, she came up with The Company. I remembered vaguely that I had seen ads for it on tv but never made it to the theater to see it. "Great!" I said, "I'll take it!"

Neve Campbell (Party of Five) starred in, co-produced, and co-created the storyline for this film. The Company is directed by Robert Altman and also stars James Franco,who plays Neve's chef boyfriend,and MalcomMcDowell, who plays the arrogant director of the ballet company.
The dancers in the film are all from the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago.

Although Neve is primarily known as a television and movie actress, she also has a long history as a dancer. She started dancing at six and studied, from ages 9 to 15, with The National Ballet School of Canada. At 15, she performed classical ballet in The Phantom of the Opera.

What makes this movie special is that it totally focuses on dance - not on competition or status-seeking between dancers, not on any actor in particular - just on dance. The dialogue is minimal, and where there are scenes that are not focused on dancing itself, much is conveyed through images and music rather than through words. Gorgeous.

After nine years of being away from dance, Neve had to go back to her roots and train intensively for two years leading up to the making of the film. To read a brief interview about Neve, dance, and the steps she took to make the film, go here.


Creativity coach Tama Kieves is someone who has inspired me over the last several years. She is the author of This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love. Tama chose her creativity over her conditioning and left her work as a corporate lawyer to become a writer and international teaching catalyst. Through her own path, she has helped many other people round the world to "discover and live their wildest creative dreams."

I liked this month's newsletter from Tama in particular:

Money has been on people's minds these days. The media volleys the word "recession" around. It's like a toddler learning to say a first word and saying it again and again. Personally, I don't believe that staying obsessed about a future fear, is staying "informed." Actually, I'd call it mental poisoning. You often create what you focus most upon. But even more importantly, fear distracts us from our present moment and the present moment is where our only abundance resides.

Recently, walking with my friend Ann, we decided to focus on the grace of current conditions. Strolling back from a local coffee house, we appreciated the genteel temperature of a metro Denver summer early evening, the drunken perfume of Catalpa trees, the orange of the yearning tiger lilies. I reveled in the rambunctious love of every dog, straining on leash, to meet me. Ann, a non-dog-lover, allowed me my impulsive love affairs. We appreciated decaf coffee, a purple door on someone's home, and the power of the everyday life stories we shared. I started to feel giddy and alive as we had our own Eckhart Tolle- Ram Dass- Be Here Now-kind of moment. We had switched from discussing "the future," our plans and hopes, to being where we were. The future, an unknown that the media often portrays as a formidable mountain lion, gazed at us with yellow eyes... until we backed up into the present where we were safe, and rich beyond compare.

I believe in a purpose to things. I like purpose. I don't like thinking that God just got bored or had a little ADD moment of creating other universes and forgot what she was doing in this one. (I'd hate to think she's journaling, "darn, I meant to do something about that ozone hole. Woops, senior moment!" ) So here's my take on current challenges. The changes in our world do not allow us the "comfort" of walking through our days on auto-pilot, on the way to someplace good, in the future. We've all just enrolled in "Joy 101," some graduate course on how to savor the juice of our current experience and transform our entire lives. It's like sitting in a large Zen meditation hall where the beloved teacher carries a huge stick and whacks you on the back when you slouch with distraction. The pain brings you back to paying attention. Paying true attention, not judging, resisting, or fantasizing, leads us straight into the pearly experience called our present lives. Here we realize we are ridiculously blessed.

Eckhart Tolle explains in his bestselling book The Power of Now: "The moment your attention turns to the Now, you feel a presence, a stillness, a peace. You no longer depend on the future for fulfillment and satisfaction -- you don't look to it for salvation.... You have found the life underneath your life situation." The wisdom tradition of A Course in Miracles echoes this same philosophy. It teaches that you can never have a miracle in the future. There is nothing in the future that you want or that you don't want. If you knew your true power and felt your connection to Spirit's unending, unlimited love -- all craving and anxiety would disappear.

So you might ask, but what about serious problems? I remember once reading about a 26 year old Buddhist girl. She had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Everyone cried out in horror at the injustice of it, all the life she would miss. The young woman, however, wrote about how she had learned to focus on each moment of her life without reflecting on her past or her future. She said she had reached a state of freedom and rapture that transcended every joy she had known before. She wrote about all the life she would have missed, had this challenge not come her way.

We live in stirring times. I believe our Information Age will provoke many of us to seek out other information, sweet, soft, loving information that comes from listening to the Beloved, the Prince of Peace, the essence of Beingness, our own True Voice. There is a place within you where you can experience no lack, no pain, and no resistance to your present life. Of course, once you enter this kind of present moment, you also have pure access to your wildest creativity, healing potential, and highest intelligence. From this abundance, you will create another future. "My father's mansion has many rooms," says the Bible. Our minds have so many dimensions and capacities.

Our minds are great story makers. They are forever telling the tales of our future and of our past. But you can rest in this moment and change everything you've ever known. Find a small joy in this moment. Focus on anything that you love, and you will not know pain. You are swimming in wealth and goodness, practically drowning. But your focus is on "what might happen." Suspend that focus and find out what is happening right now. You'll be glad you did.

©Copyright 2002-2008 Tama J. Kieves. All rights reserved.

Feel free to forward this copy to anyone you think might enjoy it.Please keep the entire message intact, including contact, logo, and copyright information. Thank you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


The members of Supreme Soul looked heartbroken when they were voted off America's Best Dance Crew tonight. At least one of the crew's members was in tears as Mario Lopez broke the news.

The show's judges were visibly irked by the fact that the voters had put this dance crew in the bottom two groups to begin with.

In their final performance, Supreme Soul simulated an ice hockey game in a totally creative, engaging way.

I am excited about next week's challenge, one involving Missy Elliott's music videos. Ms. E herself will be there on the show! Missy has been a pioneer in music videos in terms of the way she combines particular kinds of visual imagery and choreography. By the way, I think she would make a grade-A judge for this show. Other folks who would make great ABDC judges are choreographers Hi-Hat and Fatima Robinson.

Photo by Ewan Burns

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Starting Artists, Inc. (SA) a community-based arts nonprofit inBrooklyn, is a finalist in the July contest. is a social-enterprise project run by Advanta credit cards and encourages entrepreneurs to enter their new business ideas to compete each month for a $10,000 cash prize. If the winning business is als oan Advanta customer, will award it $20,000!

SA benefits under-served youth through hands-on training in thearts and entrepreneurship. Free after-school classes in the media artsand business inspire middle and high school youth to create arts-basedenterprises. SA would be able to fund more of these student-run businesses with the $20,000 of winnings from the contest,which would have far-reaching positive benefits for Brooklyn,especially SA's immediate community of Downtown Brooklyn, Cobble Hill,Boerum Hill, Park Slope, and Red Hook.

***Please visit: for more information.***

TO VOTE: go to and after completing a short registration (a valid email address is required) click on the VOTE button next to Starting Artists, Inc.

Thank you!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


One of my regular sources of inspiration comes from a site called Daily Om. There, true to word, you can find both your daily horoscope as well as a more general message of inspiration.

I loved the message of the day for Monday the 14th, entitled

Glimpse Of Perfection: Living A Day In Grace

Grace is always with us. It flows like a river through our lives, artfully reminding us that there is magic and power beyond what our eyes can see. At times we catch its subtle beauty, like during chance meetings, near misses, and insights that seem to come from nowhere. Other times we experience grace in all its powerful surety such as when a job or relationship comes to an end. Though we may forget that this is grace at work too, it is indeed influencing our lives, helping us to move forward and take the next step. Grace exists in all situations, in every moment, yet all too often we may overlook its presence.

Imagine how it would feel to live an entire day in grace, to fully appreciate that your day is unfolding in absolute perfection. Whereas usually you might miss the magic in ordinary events and interactions, on this day you would recognize them all as little miracles. Perhaps you could begin with your first deep breaths in the morning, becoming aware that there is an abundant supply of air for you to breathe. Your lungs know just how to carry oxygen to your blood, and your blood knows where to carry it from there. This is grace at work. You might appreciate the brilliant sunshine, the warm summertime rain, or the possibilities for learning that greet you at every turn. You might notice the ease with which you do your job or laugh with a close friend. These things are also grace. Even laying your head down at the end of this day and resting in the stillness of night is grace.

With each opportunity you give yourself to enjoy this current of benevolence, you may discover a deeper peace. Your faith may strengthen and your heart may open. You might begin to wonder if struggle is really all that necessary after all. By living this one day in grace, you might open the door to many more.

Monday, July 14, 2008


If you're like me, and you love to watch dance competitions for hours on end, then I suggest you get on down to the Sheraton Hotel and Towers and watch some of the 2008 New York City Dance Alliance National Season Finale. You can view the schedule here.

I first went to a NYCDA National Season Finale in 2005 and wrote about it in one of my earliest blog entries, entitled Remembering My Love for Dance.

After that year, I was hooked and kept coming back. And now I watch some of the young people who participated in the show as they appear on So You Think You Can Dance.

At the Season Finale, young people from dance studios all over the nation come and compete with each other within categories of both age and dance. The menu of dance types seems unending, and includes these ones: lyrical group, hip hop line, tap line, musical theatre production, small and large jazz production.

Prior to the two final shows - Junior Gala and then Senior gala - there are two weeks of dance camp followed by a bunch of nights of competition which narrow all the categories down to the best of the best.

Out of the public eye, the dancers also have the opportunity to audition for Broadway shows like Billy Elliot.

They come with their families and stay in whichever hotel which hosts the event. Right now, if you venture over to the Sheraton Towers, you will find the place swarming with young people decked out in Broadway-quality costumes.

One of my favorite dancers over the years has been Taja Riley. I ran into her tonight and asked her if I could interview her. Hopefully, that's something coming down the pike.

It is extremely difficult to get tickets to the Senior Gala, especially for someone like me who is not coming with a studio. Tonight, I was standing by the ticket board and a woman came up to me, asking "You looking to buy or sell?" "Buy," I said, and she whipped out a red ticket, offering it to me at a discounted price. I was beyone ecstatic.

We chatted a little bit- she was a mom of four girls and two of them were part of the competition. She told me that she knew of dance studios in other parts of the country where the girls were practicing eight to twelve hours per day, being home-schooled, etc. I said "That life might be right for some families, but not all," and she agreed.

Something I'd like to see more of in the Season Finale is young people of color. I suspect that the high cost of dance lessons, costumes, etc. is prohibitive to a lot of families.

I can't wait for the Senior Gala on Thursday night. Stay tuned for details..........


What: Brooklyn Blogade Picnic In Prospect Park

When: Sunday, July 27thTime: 12:00 noon - 3:00pm (walking tour @ 11:00 am)

Who: Brooklyn bloggers, prospective bloggers, their family and friends

Brenda of Prospect: A Year in the Park and Dave of Dope on the Slope are co-hosting this month's Brooklyn Blogade Roadshow, which will be held in Prospect Park near the Music Pagoda (map).

Brenda will be offering a guided walking tour of the park prior to the picnic (meeting point TBA). Learn why the park serves as an "oasis for the city soul," the title of a recent New York Times article describing Brenda's labor of love.

There is no charge for the event, although we are soliciting volunteers to bring food (see below) and will be passing the hat to defray expenses.

Come share Brooklyn's backyard with your fellow bloggers. Friends and family welcome, but please let us know you're coming so we can gauge how much jello salad to bring.

Please RSVP at

If you are interested in helping with food, please e-mail me.

Posted on Monday, 14 July 2008 at 12:32 PM in Brooklyn Blogosphere

Photo by Brenda Backer of Prospect: A Year in the Park

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve walked the stretch of Court Street between President street and Atlantic Ave. Over the past several months, one storefront in particular caught my eye. The window was covered by multiple signs with the words Starting Artists. I couldn’t see what was going on inside and my curiosity was picqued.

After Mike came back from their Grand Opening, I decided to give them a call. On the phone, I got a warm, friendly reception from founder and executive director Marisa Catalina Casey. When I showed up for the interview, she greeted me with great enthusiasm and gave me a tour of the space, obviously proud of the well-organized, cheerful loft-like environment that she and her crew had mapped out ahead of time. She pointed out features like computers for young people to work at and a backyard garden where teenagers had planted a little assortment of flowers and plants.

The mission of Starting Artists? “To benefit under-served teenagers in Brooklyn, NY through hands-on training in the arts and entrepreneurship. SA’s free after-school classes in media arts and business prepare youth to create arts-based enterprises.”

Pretty awesome, right?

Here’s a bit more about SA’s story as revealed through my interview with Marisa:

Q: What are the roots of Marisa’s entrepreneurial and artistic spirit?

A: Marisa’s mom was the founder and executive director of aninternational adoption agency for more than 30 years. So in that respect, she modeled the entrepreneurial spirit well. At the same time, Marisa’s folks, like many others, were concerned that their child would not be self-supporting by taking the road of an artist.

Q: What was Marisa’s inspiration for putting together Starting Artists?

A: Marisa points out that she named her organization Starting Artists, not Starving Artists, for a reason. She knows the importance of setting an encouraging tone for young people who, like herself, are engaged in the arts and want to be engaged at different levels.

There’s a big message out there for young people that the arts are not a valid way to make a living. The reality, according to Marisa, is that the skills you have as an artist are critical ones to have in any job. Creativity is a huge access in the workplace.

Marisa herself is walking proof that it pays to stay true to the path of the artist: she has set up this amazing non-profit, which is just one of many notable projects that she has initiated. (See her profile on her website to learn more.)

Q: What roles can adults play in helping young people find tools and steps to go towards careers in the arts?

A: According to Marisa, there are several roles adults can play. First, they can either be a mentor or help a young person find a mentor in the area/s of interest. Second, adults can let young artists know that their voice and creativity matter. Encourage risk-taking! Help young people see that they can channel their creativity and arts-related skills into all subject matters and jobs. Finally, adults can reserve their judgments and predictions about whether or not a young person’s artistry will lead to success or starvation.

Q: Why did Marisa pick teenagers as the population to work with?

A: Teens have an energizing effect on Marisa. They remind her of the possibility of being open to the world. Also, teens have a certain skill level where they can capitalize on tools made available to them, digital tools being one example. At 12 and 13, they carry a lot of media savvy and they’re excited about working in video, print, and digital media. “They’re at the perfect age to deconstruct newspapers and newsmakers, to unravel media messages,” shares Marisa.

Marisa’s confidence in young peoples’ ability to learn and do is evident in the wide array of skills she is teaching them, including business basics: budgeting, public relations, marketing, and fundraising. She takes them to cultural institutions all over New York so they can talk to the people who are already doing these things.

Q: Where would Marisa like the organization to be a year from now?

A: Marisa would like to have a core group of committed students who stay with her program throughout their teenage years. She hopes to expand the Starting Artists family/community building even more partnerships with local businesses and arts organizations. Finally, she’d like to help students who come through her organization to find paid projects in the arts.

Q: What is at the heart of the work Marisa does?

A: Marisa’s aim is to provide the same kind of encouragement, help, and challenge which she, as a young person, received from mentors. Marisa is emphatic about the centrality of the arts to our lives: “The arts should not be set aside as an extra. They are part of being a well-rounded human. Over the course of history, people have tried to remove art from life. Look at The Crusades. We have to make sure that young people have plenty of opportunities.”

Marisa’s motto for the organization reflects that she is serious about providing these opportunities: “Get inspired. Get creative. Get to work!”

Contact info for Starting Artists: 211 Smith St.,, 718-701-5483

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


In my dreamlife, I wear my Housing Works Book Cafe t-shirt for every occasion -- for day wear, for evening wear, for beach wear, in snowstorms and in the summer sun. It is made of this incredibly soft cotton that floats around my body. I am also proud to wear a t-shirt that advertises the place where I've spent hours browsing shelves for discounted second hand books. All the proceeds go to men and women living with HIV and AIDS.

You can buy the t-shirt on its own or you can get it for free if you sign up for a membership with the HW Book Cafe. Another perk of membership, aside from the good feeling of supporting an important cause, is getting a 10% discount on the books plus three 30% off coupons that you can use at any time of the year.

If you've never been to the HW Book Cafe, I suggest you make it a field trip. It's on a nice quiet side street of SoHo, has huge bathrooms, gorgeous architecture, a little cafe, reading tables, a balcony level, and the feel of a cross between a library and the livingroom set where Alistair Cooke used to introduce all the awesome shows for public television's Masterpiece Theatre.

Here's the full scoop on membership, taken straight from their website:

Become a Housing Works Bookstore Member at the $50 level, and get:
10% off in the bookstore and the cafe (all year, just flash your card).
A HW Bookstore t-shirt or tote bag to show your Housing Works pride.
A $40 tax deduction.
NEW! An invitation for two to an exclusive members-only reading and wine & cheese reception.

Or join at the $125 level, and get:
All of the above, plus:
Three 30% off coupons to create your own one-day sale whenever you like.
A pair of tickets to a Live From Home music concert of your choice (reservations required).
A $100 tax deduction

Monday, July 07, 2008


The Desk Set, Behind the Book & Desert Island Comics Present…

Women Working in Panels:
Have a Drink with a Panel of Female Graphic Novelists and Cartoonists as they Discuss Drawing, Writing and Publishing in this Macho World.

Featuring… Rebecca Donner, Fly, Miriam Katin, Leslie Stein, Sara Varon & Lauren Weinstein and moderated by the lovely, Children's Librarian and blogger, Betsy Bird (aka "Fuse #8").

The Desk Set--a New York–based circle of librarians and bibliophiles who socialize, explore the worlds of libraries and literacy and support good causes—have put together this special evening to benefit the literary arts nonprofit organization Behind the Book, a home-grown nonprofit that promotes literacy and strives to cultivate a love of reading for low-income students in New York City public schools. It does so by bringing authors & illustrators into the classroom to conduct curriculum-integrated writing and art workshops with students. These workshops are ongoing, providing a rich experience for students; authors, illustrators and publishing professionals come back again and again, forming unique collaborative relationships with students and teachers.

The good folk at Huckleberry Bar welcome you with a free draft beer with the suggested donation of $10. Give Behind the Book even more love by entering our raffle—an exciting opportunity to win original artwork from one of our featured novelists, as well as super-fun goodies from local stores & literary arts organizations. All raffle proceeds go directly to Behind the Book.

Event Details

Date : Monday, July 21st
Time : 7pm

Location : Huckleberry Bar, 588 Grand St.(near Lorimer St.), Williamsburg, Bklyn. 718-218-8555. . Nearest Train: L/Lorimer Stop, G/Metropolitan Ave. stop, J/M/Z to Hewes stop.

Suggested Donation : $10 at the door, to benefit Behind the Book**
**Your $10 donation entitles you to 1 free draft beer.

Raffle Prizes: Include prints, signed books, original artwork and much more!

About the featured panelists & our moderator…

Rebecca Donner , an established prose writer and essayist, who just released her graphic novel debut Burnout.

Fly , a graphic designer, comic book artist, zinester & arts instructor whose titles include Peops, Total Disaster & CHRON!IC!RIOTS!PA!SM!

Miriam Katin , comic book artist, illustrator and creator of the graphic novel We are On Our Own.

Leslie Stein , Comic book artist and musician; she is the creator numerous comics, including Yeah, It Is! and Eye of the Majestic Creature.

Sara Varon , Graphic novelist and illustrator whose work includes Robot Dreams, Chicken and Cat and Sweaterweather:

Lauren Weinstein , comic book artist and illustrator. Her creations include Inside Vineyland, Girl Stories and, most recently, Goddess of War.

Betsy Bird , our moderator, is a Children's Librarian at the Donnell Central Children's Room and the blogger also known as "Fuse # 8" at School Library Journal.

For more information contact
Maria Falgoust,
Sarah Murphy,

FALLING IN LOVE WITH YOUR FUTURE (How Can You Resist a Concept Like That?)

Gabrielle Bernstein reminds me a little of Elle Woods from the movie Legally Blond. She has long blond hair, is slight of build, puts her own twist on current clothing trends, and radiates a kind of big optimistic energy that is both light and grounded at the same time. With that energy, she communicates an undying belief in both herself and in others. It’s this last quality which makes Gabrielle such a compelling speaker. I know because I went to a lecture she recently gave as part of the Falling In Love With Your Future series.

Gabrielle started the lecture by playing a clip from U2’s Beautiful Day. She let us know that it’s one of the many songs that helps her shift her focus to what is positive and what is possible. And that idea – that at any time we can shift our focus to beliefs that support us and our goals – was at the center of her presentation.

One thing I appreciated about Gabrielle was her openness and honesty about her own journey, including struggles along the way. Gabrielle is someone who achieved outward success - including her own public relations firm - at a young age. In her mid-twenties, she hit a wall and realized she was looking for happiness outside of herself, namely through a fast-paced party scene. The repercussions caused her to pause and conduct some serious soul-searching and a quest for guidance.

Gabrielle gathered inspiration from different sources. One locus of growth was Marianne Williamson, an author and speaker widely known for helping people apply A Course in Miracles to their everyday lives. Another well of guidance was found in the gift of mentorship from women like author and radio personality Karen Salmansohn. It was this quest in her personal life which led Gabrielle to a next step in her professional life - the launching of the brand Falling in Love with Your Future as well as the website

In 2007, Gabrielle introduced the world to Falling in Love with Your Future: A Young Woman’s Guide to Passion and Happiness. Falling in Love has since taken the form of books, life coaching, and lectures and also holds at its heart guidance in the form of mentoring. To engage her network in the mentoring piece, Gabrielle created so that young women who wish to be mentored and women who want to mentor could find each other.

Curious to learn more about the woman behind Falling in Love, I paid a visit to Gabrielle at her headquarters in a rooftop suite in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood to get the scoop.

Q: Where does GB's strong entrepreneurial spirit come from?

A: Her mom, who did everything from manage rock bands to open a creative art studio for children. She did it all on her own.

Q: What was the evolution of the idea for setting up a mentoring bank for women and young women?

A: GB has benefited tremendously from love and guidance from women who have mentored her. She saw a need to spread that love and to form community amongst other women with the entrepreneurial mindset.When GB started WEN (Women’s Entrepreneur Network) she experienced how powerful it was to create communities of women. She also saw a need for all kinds of women – not just the extroverted networkers – to find each other. She sees as a safe place for people to develop connections online and off.

Q: What draws GB to public speaking?

A: Five years ago, GB started to do public speaking at universities, addressing vocational topics and everything related to entrepreneurship. The young women in particular connected with GB, who found herself swimming in their emails.It became clear that being a public speaker was Gabrielle’s special mission. It’s something that brings her great job and leaves her with a big high.

Q: Where would GB like to see the Falling in Love brand a few years from now?

A: GB would like the brand to be international and synonymous with mentoring. She's like it to touch the lives of millions of young women.

Q: What is at the heart of the work GB does?

A: “Love!”Gabrielle will be offering the next lecture in her Falling in Love With Your Future series on Wednesday, July 16th, from 6:30 - 8:00 pm at The Hotel Rivington @ 107 Rivington St. in Manhattan. For more information, click here.

Sunday, July 06, 2008


I am pleased to announce that Mike Sorgatz will be showing his artwork From Aug. 1 - Sept.12 at The Fall Cafe in Brooklyn. We'd love to have you there at the Opening Reception on Friday, August 1st from 7 - 9 pm.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


Lately, I have been asking myself where I had received the best return on investment. Two thoughts came to my head: First, I spent less than $100 on Match fees and found the man I have been with for nearly six years.

Second, I thought of the YMCA. I get to lift weights, stretch, take classes, swim, and get access to cable stations we don't have at home (yes, I am a closet fan of The Disney Channel) -- at any Y in New York. All this for $70 a month since I get a discount through The Park Slope Food Coop. It's worth finding out if the Y grants you a discount via any groups you belong to, including your place of employment.

One reason I prefer the Y over a regular gym is because it is a place that inspires me. All around, I see young people -- babies all the way to young adults -- engaged in exercise and forming good relationships with the people (parents and Y employees) who lead those activities. It's also about young people leading each other. Often, I'll see a group of teenage guys congregating in a corner of the weight-lifting area. One of them will show the rest of the group a specific exercise or technique. When I think of all the teens who are left on their own after school and on weekends, I realize that the Y provides an invaluable setting for them to socialize and stay in good shape.

The Y has been a part of my life from the beginning. When I was very young, my dad would take me there to swim. In college, I worked at their summer camp. After grad school, I taught at one of their parent cooperative schools. For the past two year, I've been working out at their Brooklyn and Manhattan branches. My favorite branches so far are the Dodge Y on Atlantic Avenue and the Chinatown Y, which is actually sits on the border of SoHo and the Lower East Side.

While we're on the topic of Ys, I gotta give props to the YMHA, the H standing for Hebrew. When I lived in Manhattan, I swam and used the library at the 92nd Street Y, and also eavesdropped on the wise musings of elderly Jewish folks in the cafe. The 92nd Street Y offers some of the best cultural programs in the city, including performances, classes, and lectures.

If you're tired of (A) your fancy, overpriced gym that's as big as a broom closet or (B) tricking yourself into thinking that walking to the corner store is adequate exercise, I strongly recommend that you join a Y - Christian or Hebrew.

For a history of the YMCA, click here.
For a history of the YMHA, click here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I generally buy flowers instead of plants, only because I've never had a green thumb. So imagine my delight when a plant a bought - we'll call her Divine Violet - lasted for more than a week. Even after her blooms withered and dropped, the green plant part kept on living and I felt Divine was worth keeping around even without her flowers.

After one of the recent big heat waves and some negligence on my part, Divine Violet keeled over in her pot. I'm not talking about minor wiltage; she had bit the dust - or so it seemed. My first thought was "Another plant gone by the wayside under your care. Just toss it." My next thought was "Get off your butt and get her under water - quick!"

I hopped up from the couch and stuck Divine under the kitchen faucet. I flooded the pot and the glass dish underneath it with H2O. I put her back on the kitchen table and forgot about her.

The next day, I was on the couch reading. I looked up and something green caught my eye. It was Divine Violet, restored to her original glory. I couldn't believe my eyes! This was every bit as good as the Hanukah miracle.

I felt like this miracle was prophetic of many good things to come. One part of my life has died, making way for something new and better to grow in its place.

What in your life has gone by the wayside - A job? A relationship? A way of thinking? What would happen if you ran some water over the ashes of that thing, trusting that something wonderful would come of that act? I dare you to try.