Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Photo Credit: Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times

After an appointment in the meat-packing district today, I decided to get off the subway early to venture over to the newest branch of the New York Public Library. Having read about the Battery Park City library branch in a recent The New York Times article , my curiosity was piqued. I hoped off on Chambers Street and walked way, way, way west - right by the water - to get to this place.

It was white white white with pops of orange - super modern and spare like the Mode Magazine office in Ugly Betty. Lots of children, way more children than adults. This meant that I could jump immediately on a computer to check email. Also, I found the books I wanted right away.

Am I happy that this new branch is here? Yes. Does it have the same charm and character of some of the older and mustier branches? No. My visit left me nostalgic for Donnell, a NYPL library that used to sit across the street from MOMA. It housed the largest collection of children's books in the world, a media center, books in all languages, a kick-a** teens floor where teens themselves had a say in both book selection and programming. I remember talking to the Teen Central librarian about five years ago and her telling me that they could not keep up with the demand for Push by Sapphire, the novel upon which the Oscar-nominated film Precious was based.

Which makes me think: it's not just books that make a library, its the folks that work there, their knowledge base, and their willingness to share that knowledge with patrons like me and you.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


He’s Sensitive About the Pancakes
Chad Batka for The New York Times
Richard Melville Hall, known to all as Moby, recorded his 2009 album, “Wait for Me,” in his studio in NoLIta, which now doubles as his crash pad while his apartment up the street is being refurbished. A self-professed dweeb, Moby, 44, broke onto the music scene by creating hypnotic dance music and popularizing electronica. His 1999 album, “Play,” went multi-platinum. A longtime vegan, he recently co-edited “Gristle,” a collection of essays about the hazards of eating meat. He also has a Web site, mobygratis.com, offering free music to independent filmmakers, and he is running a competition to select a new video for the title song on “Wait for Me.”

7 A.M. WAKE-UP I’m envious of people who can sleep as long as they want. I have the circadian rhythm of a farmer. I jump around in my apartment to an African disco record from 1976, a compilation. It’s bad white guy dancing, and some stretching.

SMOOTH START A few years ago, I was in therapy and my therapist kept asking me to name some things I did well. I mentioned making smoothies. It was sad that I couldn’t think of something more significant. It’s açaí juice, almond milk, frozen bananas, blackberries, spirulina powder and cacao powder. I put it in my crummy blender and make one smoothie. I take my ugly, dark, purple smoothie and I sit at my laptop.

CAN YOU SPELL NERD I joined Facebook purely so I could play online Scrabble. You have eight tiles instead of seven, so you tend to have higher scores. I’m somewhere between 400 and 500. I just had a good word the other day: enjoyed. It’s seven letters — a 50-point bonus — and it was on a triple word score.

DOGGIE TAO Ideally, I have tea on my roof with Morgan. Morgan lives a few doors down from me. He has three little dogs. I don’t know what they are. They are the most amazing creatures on the planet. If there is a tennis ball, it’s the most awesome tennis ball they have ever encountered. If it’s a piece of Kleenex, it’s the most awesome Kleenex. Dogs have boundless enthusiasm but no sense of shame. I should have a dog as a life coach.

SO GET A DOG I travel too much. And I’m content to deal with the good side of other people’s dogs and the good side of other people’s children. Then I don’t have to pick up poo. I like children when they are rested and happy. When 8 o’clock rolls around, and they are crying and need to be fed and they’re throwing knives at each other, I’m happy to be childless.

MILK AND SUGAR My favorite tea is organic Silver Needle white tea. I’m a tea purist. I never understood adding sugar or milk to tea. And back when I drank alcohol, I drank straight vodka or tequila. I never liked anything added to them. It might be a function of Asperger’s.

YOU HAVE ASPERGER’S? No. I just like to pretend I do. It makes me sound more interesting.

AFTERNOON FLAPJACKS The pancakes are whole-wheat flour and oat bran and almond milk and a little baking soda. I think I added some peaches — whatever I have lying around. In winter it’s only frozen fruit. People who are used to IHOP pancakes — big and fluffy — they would be disappointed. I had an ex-girlfriend; when we were breaking up — one of the few endings of a relationship that was a bit contentious — one of her parting shots was having her tell me she never liked my pancakes. I thought that was very cruel. Insult my sexual prowess, my intellect, but not my pancakes.

TURNING THE PAGE When I was growing up, I was the most pretentious person I have ever met. I only read obscure books and watched obscure movies and only listened to obscure music. I was into Kant and Wittgenstein in college. Then 10 or 15 years ago, I discovered the joys of trash pulp culture. Anything that’s fiction is inherently trashy for me. Mass market fiction. I was reading “The First Rule” by Robert Crais. It’s really fun, plot driven, sort of forgettable. I like thrillers. I still consider it a guilty pleasure.

CATHOLIC? No. I just feel guilty about everything. My ancestors were Calvinists. Guilt is in my DNA.

ROCKING THE HOUSE I make my records by myself. I have my studio here; it’s almost monastic and ascetic. I have missed playing music with other people. So I go to a dark rock ’n’ roll space on 38th and Eighth that my friend Tomato owns, and we play dangerously loud heavy metal for a few hours. I play guitar two-thirds of the time and I play bass one-third of the time.

PLAYLIST I was a pretentious teenager who didn’t listen to Mötley Crüe or Def Leppard. In my 30s I went back and discovered all the hair metal everyone else knew about. It’s well-crafted and well-recorded. It never takes itself too seriously. It’s always surprisingly campy. There is nothing sincere about it. I spent a lot of time taking myself too seriously. I can appreciate a culture that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Call for proposals: CITY WALLS

BAC LOGOBrooklyn Arts Council (BAC), in partnership with the MetroTech BID, seeks proposals from Brooklyn-based artists and collectives for artwork to be installed on construction fences on 3 sites in downtown Brooklyn. Proposed works should have strong visual impact and should be accessible and appropriate for the general public. Artists are encouraged to create installations that fit within the context of the site and create a visual identity for the area. Applicants may apply for more than one site and are required to complete separate applications for each site. Three artists/collectives will be chosen, one artist/group for each site. Chosen artists/collective will receive a $1,000 fee for honorarium. Each site includes a supply budget not to exceed $2,700. For more details and to apply visit http://www.brooklynartscouncil.org/documents/1413.

Deadline: April 5, 2010 by 5 pm

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Tonight, I'll be attending a dinner at Housing Works Stand Up Harlem House to honor a dozen or so folks who have been volunteering at Housing Works thrift stores for ten or more years.

I had the opportunity to interview a bunch of these local heroes for the Volunteer section of the Housing Works website. Here's my write-up of Jain Klain, pictured to the left.

Jane Klain has spent many of her years as a volunteer pricing and displaying donations of books. To her delight, customers refer to Jane as “The Book Lady” and request her expertise when they come by the store to find books about specific topics. “One person always wants to know about poetry books, another person asks for vegetarian cookbooks, and another customer comes looking for mysteries,” says Jane. She has come to know these and many other customers over the years by their particular interests.

Jane recalls how, at the time of its inception, Housing Works was the only organization in the country with job training for people living with AIDS. “Housing Works has always represented an important mindset, which is one of hope,“ Jane observes. “With programs like job training as part of its offerings, HW assumed that one day there would not be AIDS. There was a built-in idea of a future for the people the organization was helping.”

Jane has directly witnessed how lives have changed because of the mission and programs of Housing Works. Remembering a teenager who lost her mother, Jane shares how the organization became that young person’s family, overseeing her education and giving her the support and structure she needed to carry on with daily life.


Housing Works knows how to throw a party! (I am in the film at 1:47, laughing in front of the cafe.) They organized this shindig to honor the hundreds of volunteers who help make their programs possible.

Most memorable moment at the party: when an elderly gentleman sang Rick James' Super Freak on the karaoke machine.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I haven't been that interested in the whole Conan-Leno war. Much more upsetting to me is the possibility that The Bonnie Hunt Show will be cancelled.

This popular comedy actress and show host who comes out of Second City is great for all these reasons:

  • She is totally respectful toward, yet still has fun with her guests.

  • She has a great sense of humor and is also open-hearted - e.g. she teared up today for a few seconds after announcing that her sister was in the audience. It clearly meant to a great deal to Bonnie to have her family member there.

  • She comes from a big Catholic working class family and you can see how that affects the way she treats her staff like her family as well. The banter between Bonnie and her staff is an integral part of the show.

  • She has a funny and sweet segment called Ask Alice where viewers ask Bonnie's mom, Alice, for advice in matters of the heart.

  • She is down-to-earth, without the slickness, snarkiness, and pretense of some of the late night talk show hosts.


I help lead Creative Conversations, a NYC-based group for women artists and entrepreneurs with twin goals of helping each other achieve life/work goals while making time for and connecting with their creative selves. We take turns facilitating gatherings on topics like these:

  • Putting Yourself Out There
  • Social Networking
  • Time Management
  • Ask Others/ Trust Yourself
  • Envisioning Your Future
Some of our gatherings include hands-on activities. One of the members, a painter, recently led an exercise in self-portraiture.

Last night, two of our participants led an exercise to help the rest of us experience collaboration. The talked a bit about the topic of collaboration and announced that the theme of the evening was "The First Time," which could be interpreted by each of us.

We broke into two groups of five. The group I was in started out by painting on the big piece of paper taped to the wall. The other group wrote about My First Time. The thing that came to me was the first time I flew on an airplane, so I painted that.

Then the groups switched. My group wrote and the writing group painted. The leader of the exercise challenged people to keep going back into the mural with more text, images, and to feel free to edit text and change (or paint over!!!) images put up by other people.

It taught me something about not holding on too dearly to a first draft of anything and to keep asking "What else?" in terms of thinking about what can be added to a project even when I think it is done.


And I thought I was a die-hard fan!!!

Friday, March 12, 2010


This week, I had a nice phone chat with Dexter Taylor, Director of Brooklyn Movie Labs. What a brilliant idea - to have a friendly place where people can go to learn film-making/editing skills (including podcasting) without taking a chunk of time (and money) out of their lives to go to film school.

I plan on taking a podcasting class there. Do check out his website - lots of good offerings!

Here's how Dexter described his project to me:

Back in 2007 I started a digital film school called Brooklyn Movie Labs. We teach people how to light, shoot, record sound, and edit (we're adding an acting/directing track soon). Recently we opened a new classroom/shooting space, Stage One, in Bed-Stuy (449 Nostrand Avenue on the second floor -- above Ms. Dahlia's cafe). We're been doing events there, such as our B.A.S.H. benefit concert (Brooklyn Artists Support Haiti -- we raised almost 2K), open house events on Saturdays and Sundays, and featured live music acts.

Our focus is on people who can't spare the time or the money to take an entire year off to attend film school, but who still want to learn the ins and outs of motion picture imaging and sound, whether it's for their job, their video podcast, or their indie feature film debut. We also offer masterclasses for working media professionals who want to augment their skills. Simply put, we're geeks -- we've got the digital filmmaking bug and we're excited to spread the word.

Dexter Taylor
Director, Brooklyn Movie Labs



INSIGHT Volume III Issue 2
will be published in May and we are looking for exciting content to fill it's pages. If you are interested in contributing an art based article, interesting Q&A, essay, poem, photos, art, or other art related materials to the next issue, please send your idea and/or description of your intended piece to insightsubmit@gmail.com by March 24, 2010.

*Please include specific information about your idea/art along with the following:

Full name
Contact info (email and phone)
Website (if applicable)

If you know anyone who would make a great contributor, whether they're an artist or writer, please feel free to forward them this email.

More detailed information below:

For Art Submissions:
Please send your finished piece or description of a piece you would like to contribute to insightsubmit@gmail.com. Please include title, size, medium, etc and any other relevant info.

For Article/Q&A/Essay/Poetry Submissions:
Please send a short description of your proposed article, essay, or text to insightsubmit@gmail.com. Please include key characters that will be included in the piece and whether you'll be able to provide photos/art to be included with your piece.

For Photo Submissions:
Please send a link to photos that you would like to have included or a description of a photo layout. The description should include ideas around a common theme and/or be related in some way.

All other Submissions:
Send in your idea to insightsubmit@gmail.com


INSIGHT is a quarterly arts magazine that offers INSIGHT into the work of artists and their creative process. Committed to uncensored artistic expression, INSIGHT provides a platform for emerging and established artists to share their perspective on art. INSIGHT does not define what ‘Art Is…,’ but simply presents it as told by the artists themselves through the inclusion of interviews, visual art, photography, poetry and more.

About F.O.K.U.S.
F.O.K.U.S., a not-for-profit arts organization founded in 2003, creates diverse networks through the use of the arts. The organization has produced concerts, film screenings, workshops and more with artists including John Legend, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Jeff Chang, the Blue Scholars, Buff 1, Kool DJ Red Alert, Justin Bua, Michael Skolnik and many more. For more information, visit www.onefokus.org

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Earlier today, I read an interesting article in The New York Press called "Wake Up and Smell the Oscars: They Stink! Or Why Kathryn Bigelow Doesn't Need to Win a Statue Because She's Better That."

Even though I didn't agree with everything White said, I did find some good points in this piece, which starts here:

EVERYONE HAS THEIR wakeup momentabout the Academy Awards: A moment when you put away childish belief and realize it’s not at all about art but about popularity (as Sally Field once indicated and then got lambasted for her clarity). Mine happened back in 1977 when Rocky won Best Picture and Taxi Driver did not. No plainer illustration of art vs. commerce is imaginable, but the reality has been blurred ever since. Today’s completely uncritical promotion of the Academy Awards in the mainstream media makes it unlikely that moviegoers will ever entertain a skeptical thought. Most media outlets treat theOscars with nearly patriotic fervor—as the issue most important to all Americans, with Obamacare perhaps coming in second place.

This Oscar hegemony barely disguises the depressing change in media habit where journalism and entertainment have merged. Imagine some media conglomerate drumming Oscar mania into its readership the way stern schoolteachers used to teach multiplication tables. Imagine a periodical called Oscars Weekly that drilled mindless competition and narcissism instead of art analysis and human sensitivity by ceaselessly, throughout the year, keeping a running tally of movies as potential winners of Academy Award nominations or the statue itself. It wouldn’t be far from the insanity that Oscar talk journalists already indulge and that reaches psychotic pitch during what’s loopily known as
“awards season.”

Old-time cynics used to say that the Oscars were simply Hollywood’s way of congratulating itself, using the awards to gain box-office attention for the industry’s product. Now, no media pundit would dare admit that promoting Oscars approves how journalism has capitulated to the film industry. None have criticized the Academy’s new accounting methods that nullify its own credibility.The Awards are turned into the pinhead’s Super Bowl simply in order to sell more product—to keep the wheels of media capitalism turning. Sometimes those wheels roll right over good sense. For example: flattening Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker
into media fodder.

(For rest of article CLICK HERE)


Creative Times #29
A Newsletter for Artists & Entrepreneurs

Recently, I made the jump from sending my Creative Times email newsletter (see above banner) from my AOL account (I know, I know, I am behind the times), to sending it out via Constant Contact.

I must say, I was impressed that they instantly had a customer service rep. get in touch with me via phone to answer any questions I had about getting my email newsletter account launched. Their tech support is super-friendly, too.

Here's an email I received from Constant Contact about Creating Email Newsletter Content.

Dear Eleanor,

One of the most common questions we hear from people who try Email Marketing from Constant Contact is "Help! What do I write about in my email communications?" While you're the expert on what your customers and members want to hear, we've got some ideas to make that empty space in your copy blocks less intimidating—and instead make them a great opportunity to create messages that really resonate with your customers and members! You can do this!

1. Remember, you can always add or remove copy blocks from any of Constant Contact's email templates. Unlike a regular print newsletter that typically runs four or more pages, you don't need a lot of news to send out an email newsletter campaign. You can build an effective communication around just one or two items (and these stories can be short--only a couple of paragraphs long).

2. Remember, too, that your customers and members want to hear from you. So there are many topics that would be interesting to them—topics, by the way, that spotlight your expertise. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you generate content ideas:

  • What are the top five questions that customers or members ask you?
  • Who are some interesting customers, members, volunteers or employees? What makes them interesting?
  • What problems are your customers facing? What will you be doing to help them solve those problems?
  • What information do you have that would help your customers and members see you as an expert?
  • Have you been to any trade shows or conferences lately? What were the big news or trends?
  • Have any customers said nice things about you lately? (Get their permission to use their praise first!)

Thursday, March 04, 2010


March NewsletterAn art opening show for anyone who likes good art and a good party!

Date: Saturday, March 20, 2010
Time: 7-10 pm
Location: Sweet Lorraine Gallery, 183 Lorraine Street, Brooklyn, NY

Event Description: Say Goodbye to Winter!

Mike Sorgatz is having an exhibit with John Tebeau at the Sweet Lorraine Gallery in their Red Hook studio. Location is the giant Treasure Island Storage building - featuring an outstanding view of the Gowanus Expressway! Come say hello to the nation's newest Superfund site and see some great paintings. Drinks are on John and Mike.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Each year Variety the Children’s Charity of New York and WOR Radio hold an annual Radiothon with the legendary radio personality “Cousin Brucie” Morrow.

Donations are collected from on-air auctions, supporters and generous listeners who pledge contributions to our organization.

On Thursday, March 4th, 2010, “Cousin Brucie” and Variety the Children’s Charity will hold its 15th Annual Radiothon on WOR-710 AM Radio from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Last year with the help of the WOR listeners and Variety supporters we raised the necessary money to help our kids this year! The 2009 Radiothon was a day full of excitement with 2010 looking to be even better. We had many special guests including: Fox 5 News anchors Rosanna Scotto and Ernie Anastos, actor Danny Aiello, Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Governor Patterson, and Senator Schumer. Even Mayor Bloomberg called in and declared February 26, 2009, Variety the Children’s Charity of New York Day in New York City. Make sure to listen on March 4, 2010 to hear musical celebrities and Variety of New York supporters calling in and showing their support.