Thursday, December 08, 2011


Last Sunday night, I had the pleasure of hearing Brian Henson, award-winning director, producer, and puppeteer, talk at the Museum of the Moving Image about the evolution of puppetry. The talk was part of the current exhibit entitled Jim Henson's Fanstastic World. This exhibit, which includes special Henson-created screenings, will be at MOMI until January 16.

Brian's presentation to a packed audience included an inside look at the history of the revolutionary Henson technique and style of puppetry; examples of the company's work throughout the years, including behind-the-scenes clips from Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal; recent work on the TV series Sid the Science Kid; a live demonstration of puppetry for the screen; and Q and A from the audience.

The Muppet Technique

Since 1955, Jim Henson always performed puppetry for a camera. (This makes sense since Jim used puppetry as a vehicle to enter the worlds of film and television.) In doing so, Jim and his colleagues turned the television itself into the puppet's stage. "The performance was always to the camera; the Muppets were always looking to the fourth wall," Brian explained. He showed a clip of In the Navy as an example. The old television sets were rounded, so the old Muppets, with their rounded heads, complimented that tv shape nicely.

In the Muppet technique, puppeteers are taught to forget that the puppet is on their arm; they are instructed to be on the outside looking in. (See my interview with Sesame performer Martin Robinson, who emphasizes this point.) "You forget yourself completely, " shared Brian on puppeteering in the Henson style, "and what the character does surprises you [the performer]."

With the introduction of the Emmet Otter characters into the repertoire came Jim Henson's use of radio-controlled puppets. Jim went on to utilize animatronix when making The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth films. Animatronix, explained Brian, were first used with puppets at Disney theme parks, where you could find robotic characters with sound tracks. Brian showed film clips to demonstrate how animatronix were applied to the character of Hoggle and also the Henson show Dinosaurs.

From animatronix, Jim Henson moved on to also use 3-D digital characters as well as 2-D manipulation of images. Blowing everyone's mind (well at least my own!), Brian showed a video which explained the technology behind one his newest projects geared toward the pre-school age child, Sid the Science Kid. Sid is produced by motion capture, which "[...]refers to recording actions of human actors, and using that information to animate digital character models in 2D or 3D computer animation." (Source: Wikipedia)

The highlight of the evening for me came when Brian inhabited an armadillo puppet, demonstrating the different puppetry styles of some of his colleagues, including that of his father, Jim. "My dad was the bounciest!" exclaimed Brian. (Watch Kermit the Frog and you'll see what Brian means.) The audience was laughing hard, and there was so much magic and fun in the way Brian brought that puppet to life and made us believe it was real.

A Little Q and A With the Audience
(Here, I paraphrase Brian's answers.)

Q: How were Miss Piggy and Kermit able to ride bicycles?
A: We are riding bikes from above (the shot) and controlling their motions with strings.

Q: Animate means to bring life to something, to give it soul. How do you give soul to your characters?
A: The idea behind Muppet characters is to take an outrageous concept and turn it into a character that people feel they know.

Q: Do puppeteers train in theater and physical comedy?
A: We teach lip-syncing. The early performers were amazing ad-libbers and improvisers. Muppeteers currently go through a training in Los Angeles.

Q:What's the word on Dark Crystal II?
A: Lisa Henson [Brian's sister) is driving this project.

Q: What's the scoop on a Fraggle Rock movie?
A: It will probably start shooting at the end of 2012.

Q: How did you make Miss Piggy?
A: We wanted a bunch of pigs, and someone put a wig on one of them. She was unplanned. She is now molded from soft foam with a layer of flocking over it to make her look slightly furry.

[Editor's Note: This is not entirely true. Although Miss Piggy was not drawn first, she was not unplanned.]

Q: What is your earliest memory of working with your dad?"
A: One of my memories is of playing with the Chicken Liver Muppet from Sam and Friends in the sandbox!

Q: What makes up the essence of the Muppets?
A: Characters with a bold, confident, devil-may-care lunacy. They do crazy stuff, which takes confidence, it goes wrong, they feel bad, and they do it again!


Do you know who Martin Robinson is? If not, you should! For the last 30 years, he has been performing some well-loved characters on Sesame Street, including Telly Monster, Snuffleupagus, and Slimey. In addition, Marty teams with his wife and Sesame writer Annie Evans to create the Sesame Family Robinson blog for the Sesame Workshop website. On top of that, Marty hires and trains puppeteers for Sesame Street productions all around the world.

Wait! That’s not all! Check out his website, and you’ll find that the fantastic Mr. Robinson is also a puppet designer and builder for shows like Little Shop of Horrors. Take a look at Martin’s resume, and you’ll see that he “Designed and performed a giant carnivorous plant that rose 22 feet into the air, panned 40 feet, and flew over the fifth row of the Virginia Theatre.” For a Lincoln Center production of Frogs, he “Designed and built a giant frog that ate Nathan Lane.”

The Road to Puppeteering
For Martin, who was a shy kid, there were a couple of pivotal events that led him to his love affair with performing and related forms of artistry. First, there was Halloween. Halloween was performance time, the time where there was permission to look and act differently from everyday life. He designed his costume and thought about the character he would play months in advance of the big day. “It was too much fun to do that kind of thing one day of year,” notes Martin. So theater became a way to extend that opportunity to be something else other than his everyday self.

The other important moment in time came about when Martin’s school held auditions for the school performance of Oliver. Martin’s art teacher saw something in him, believed in him, and actually refused to do the sets for the play unless Martin was offered the part of Fagin. Being Fagin opened up a whole new world for Martin, and from that moment on, he knew that performing was “it” for him.

After high school, Martin left his hometown in Wisconsin to attend acting school at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Next, in 1975, Martin toured as a puppeteer with Nicolo Marionettes, now knows as Puppetworks, Inc. In 1977, Martin performed for six months in Busch Gardens, Virginia, with Baird Marionettes, and from there continued working with Bil Baird in New York City.

The experience with Baird allowed Martin to see puppets as “moving sculptures” and view puppetry as a combination of design, sculpture, and acting. As a puppeteer, Martin experienced a kind of freedom in not being limited by his physical body (think about it: actors are often cast based on their appearance); thus, his dream of getting to play “crazy character roles” was realized.

Highlights and Challenges of being a Puppeteer
According to Martin, the blessing of being a puppeteer lies in the many opportunities to have fun, laugh, and clown around. (Having watched Martin behind the scenes, I got to witness first-hand how he capitalizes on those opportunities: the guy has a wicked sense of humor that keeps Sesame cast and crew cracking up!)

Martin is clear that it’s a difficult profession, as well. First, you have to be able to handle a lot of pressure to keep performing at a certain level, to produce results in such an on-demand way. You have to have a particular level of acting abilities to respond to other characters in the moment. (These folks rehearse the same scene over and over and over to match Sesame’s high production standards.) “To perform a character well,” shares Martin, “you have to be outside the character – outside, looking in”. There is also a technical challenge that puppeteers face: while they are performing, they must track their actions by looking into a monitor!

How does Martin meet these challenges? Long time Sesame puppeteer Fran Brill and co-worker to Martin sheds some light on this question:

“Marty Robinson is one of the most positive people I know. I don't think I've ever heard him say ‘No’ (at least on the set of Sesame Street) or complain. If a director asked Marty to puppeteer upside down inside of Snuffy while blowing up a balloon and singing The Star Spangled Banner in Lithuanian, he'd say ‘I'll try.’

Marty is also a very generous performer- everyone loves to work with him because he gives his all, really listens, and makes you look good. He is kind, loving, and tremendous fun to be around because he is really outrageous with Telly. He makes us all laugh and gives 100% of himself when performing.”

Training and Filming and Writing
Martin’s responsibilities with Sesame transcend national borders as well as artistic medium: he is often sent overseas to train puppeteers for Sesame Street in other countries. In this role, Martin teaches puppeteers to collaborate with the camera as well as with the director. “I teach the puppeteers that we are composing the frame with the director,” he explains.

Martin also brings his skills as a filmmaker to the Sesame operation. With his wife, Annie Evans, whom he married on the set of the show, he shares his behind-the-scene experiences as a parent and as a puppeteer through movies and stories on the Sesame Family Robinson blog. As Martin and Annie explain to their readers, “[…] we’ve created this blog to share our journey as parents trying to raise our daughters with love and playfulness, while also being deeply committed to a television show that seeks to educate and empower children all over the world.”

Martin on Going After Your Dreams
According to Martin, we all have dreams as children. It’s important to look at those dreams, figure out what is at the heart of them, and then pursue whatever that essence is. Martin is well aware that he knew from an early age what made his heart sing. And that whenever confronted with a decision about an opportunity that came his way, he would always base his decision on a commitment to follow his bliss.

“We give up on our dreams way too easily,” says Martin. “There is no reason why you can’t really love what you do. There is nobility in almost anything. Don’t wait until retirement to start your life. The key is doing what you love, and loving what you do. Everyone has the ability to guide their life in a way that makes them happy.”

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


The Big Dream of working for Sesame Street Part 1 from The Spiritstorm School on Vimeo.

When I visit the set of Sesame Street, there's the story or interview I came to get and then there's the unexpected story I walk away with. Take, for example, when I went on set to interview long-time cameraman Frank Biando and ended up also meeting Big Bird's performer Carroll Spinney and Justin, the (then) pre-teen who had met Carroll because of the many letters he had written to Mr. Spinney starting at age 5.

Last week, I was on set to watch in action and interview long-time Sesame puppeteer Marty Robinson (stay tuned for the post about him!). A ways into the shoot, I was invited to come sit at the counter in Mr. Hooper's store to get a better view of the puppeteers. Sitting on the stools beside me were a man and a woman. The man was doing sketches of scenes with Sesame characters. Intrigued, I struck up a conversation.

Turns out the man was Louis Henry Mitchell, Sesame's Associate Design Director of Special Projects. He was sitting next to his wife, Jackie. Turns out they just got married!

Here are some of the interesting and amazing things that Louis does and did for Sesame:

* Create storyboards the for production of Sesame Street
* Design video covers for all new titles
* Designed the Planetarium Project for the Museum of Natural History
* Design Sesame Street Google Doodle
* Design and install Brooklyn Library Sesame Street Muppet Exhibit
* Design Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float and two of the previous balloons, Big Bird and Super Grover
* Create gift portraits including a special gift for Vice President Joe Biden and wife, Dr. Jill Biden with the Sesame Street Muppets.
* Teach and train artists all over the world how to draw the Sesame Street Muppets through the Muppets' personalities

P.S. - There is a series of wonderful interviews with Louis on The Muppet Mindset: Part I * Part II * Part III * Part IV


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Sunday, November 27, 2011


Illustration above from Dallas Clayton's Awesome Book of Thank You

On Thanksgiving Day, it was great to read posts from Facebook folks about what they are thankful for.

There's some fun sources of inspiration for expressing gratitude in different forms and fashions.

First, there's Leah Dietrich's book and website thxthxthx. Both creations feature handwritten notes on which she conveys her appreciation for everything from pants to Paris to patience to Paula Abdul.

Then there's Dallas Clayton's An Awesome Book of Thanks. According to Amazon, Awesome is "a beautifully written, fantastically illustrated walk through a world of magical unicorns, robotic dinosaurs, and all of life's simple moments, great and small. Crafted for children ages 0-1000, this timeless story is sure to be an instant classic, at home in the hands of anyone looking for the perfect reminder of just how beautiful life can be."

Finally, may I suggest Jimmy Fallon's Thank You Notes segment (which is now also a book!)

on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. (Just watch the videos if you can't pry your eyes open to stay up into the wee hours.)

Jimmy: "Thank you, rigatoni, for looking like regular pasta that put on corduroys."

"Thank you college diplomas, for being the world's most expensive, framable receipts."

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Photo by John E. Barrett. Mahna Mahna and back-up singers © The Muppets Studio, LLC

Many of you know that Jim Henson created the Muppets - those lovable creatures who have appeared on Sesame Street and in Muppet movies for decades now. But did you know that Jim was also a legendary pioneer in film and television, creating Muppets inititally as a vehicle to enter into those medium?

A trip - or two - or three - to the
Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) in Queens to experience Jim Henson's Fantastic World will give you and your students or your family members a chance to further appreciate the creative processes behind Jim's voluminous and astounding body of work.

The exhibit runs rom July 16, 2011 - January 16, 2012 and features the following: 120 artifacts which include drawings, storyboards, and props from The Muppet Show, The Muppet Movie, Fraggle Rock, Sesame Street, and Sam and Friends; 15 iconic puppets, including Miss Piggy, Bert, Ernie, and Kermit the Frog; photographs of Henson and his collaborators at work; and excerpts from Jim's early projects and experimental films, including his pioneering work in commercials.

A bit of Q and A with MOMI's Deputy Director for Education, Christopher Wisniewski, reveals additional reasons to go and see the exhibit:

Eleanor: What makes Jim Henson's Fantastic World special?

Christopher: Jim Henson is indisputably a singular creative figure in the history of film and television. When one thinks of the legacy he's left--the Muppets, his characters for Sesame Street, the Fraggles, and his films--one is immediately impressed by how singular they are and how they continue to occupy a special place in popular culture and collective memory. This show is extraordinary in the breadth of its approach. It gives a wide-ranging overview of Henson's career, his creative process, and his unique artistic sensibility. I think everyone who visits it comes away feeling they've learned something new about Henson and his work.

Eleanor: What is the educational value of taking a child or a group of children to this exhibit?

Christopher: For young people, there is great educational value in Jim Henson's Fantastic World. It gives insight into the creative process, to be certain, and so it helps to teach not only about puppetry specifically but also about how television and films are made and marketed. Also, Henson got his start in advertising, and he very shrewdly adapted what he learned about marketing and branding to projects that were educational and artistic. I think that is a valuable lesson. I also think that in creating characters who appeared across media, Henson anticipated the phenomenon we now refer to as trans-media, and it is valuable for young people to think about that innovation and to see it in a broader historical context.

Additional Information about MOMI and Jim Henson's Fantastic World:

There's good news for those of you who would like to get out and see the exhibit with your students and young family members: In the remaining eight weeks of Jim Henson's Fantastic World, there are plenty more screenings, discussions, and workshops to attend. For a list of those special events, CLICK HERE.

Also: MOMI's education department provides curriculum-based educational experiences to about 60,000 students every year. These offerings include school group visits, tours, talks, workshops and screenings. If you would like information about MOMI's educational opportunities, CLICK HERE.

To see more
Creative Times posts about the Jim Henson exhibit at MOMI:
All Kinds of Crazy Cool Stuff at Jim Henson's Fantastic World describes "Hands Up! Puppets Down!": An Inside Look at Puppetry for Television

* Jim Henson: Friends and Family documents the reflections of six folks gathered in of the museum's auditorium to show and talk about film clips from Jim's body of work.

* The Wonderful World of (Frank) Oz reports back on a live interview with Henson's right hand man and the Muppeteer for Miss Piggy, Bert, Animal, Cookie Monster, and more

Thursday, November 17, 2011


November 2011 New York, NY- The African American Women In Cinema’s 14th Annual Film Festival opens November 17, 2011 at The Lighthouse International located at 111 East 59th New York, NY 10022. To kick things off the AAWIC film festival’s red carpet will be hosted by Ameliaismoore at 6:30pm with a VIP Reception sponsored by The Lighthouse International. Following the reception, at 7:45pm a Pioneer Honoree Presentation hosted by WBLS’s Liz Black will be given to producer Laurens Grant with a special film screening of her debut film Love Life Soul by Dedra Tate. Major industry executives such as Patrick Harrison, NY Program Director for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars), will be in attendance to support this great event on its opening night.

The AAWIC 14th Annual Film Festival continues throughout the weekend with many exciting screenings by filmmakers from all over the country from November 17-19, 2011. On Friday, November 18th from 11:00am-10:00pm films will be screening with panel discussions hosted by Ameliaismore at DCTV 87 Lafayette Ave. Simultaneously, on Friday evening from 6:30-9:00pm there will be a young filmmakers showcase with screening of films from New York City teenagers at the Antigua & Barbuda Progressive Society at 12 West 122nd Street.

Saturday, November 19, screenings take place from 1:00-4:00pm at the Showbiz Cafe at 19 West 21st New York. From 6:30-9:00pm the closing session and wrap reception will be at back at DCTV 87 Lafayette Street. Ticket prices range from $10-$105. To purchase tickets you may go to

For the past decade, the African American Women In Cinema organization has served as a continuous support system for women filmmakers led by founder Terra Renee. AAWIC’s mission Renee states is “Thriving in their work to connect minority women filmmakers with professionals in the entertainment industry.” In the past, celebrities such as Vanessa Williams, Nia Long, Ntozake Shange and Jada Pinkett Smith have showcased their work at the AAWIC.

For more information and to reserve seats for the festival contact AAWIC festival publicist: Cordelia Donovan at 646-678-6048 or

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


My husband just emailed a link to an article on Collector's Weekly called Before Sesame Street and Electric Mayhem, a Crude Kermit Lip Synced Pop Standards.

These posters were included in the piece, and I fell in love instantly.

The article's author, Ben Marks, explains the posters in this bit:

On “The Muppets Show,” the vehicle for Henson’s musical side was its house band, which, like Kermit, has its own legions of fans. For example, in anticipation of the new Muppets movie, a Toronto graphic designer named Michael De Pippo created gig posters for each of the original members of Electric Mayhem—Dr. Teeth (keyboards), Zoot (sax), Janice (guitar), Sgt. Floyd Pepper (bass), and Animal (drums). Originally conceived as a fan’s “homage for my love of the Muppets,” the posters went viral on the Internet earlier this fall and were quickly licensed by Disney, which is publishing limited-edition, signed screenprints of each poster via Acme Archives. De Pippo says that some of the 18-by-24-inch posters, which advertise a show by the band at The Muppet Theatre on March 19th, 1975, the air date of “The Muppet Show” pilot, should be ready in time for the release of “The Muppets” over Thanksgiving weekend.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Last Saturday, there were terrible delays on the downtown/Brooklyn-bound trains. Huge waits at the Columbus Circle station and long stalls on the subway itself meant time with nothing to do.

I was so happy that with the last $2 in my wallet I could purchase the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal from the subway news stand at 59th Street. I often purchase The New York Times, but I went for the fatness of the WSJ and the fact that it included a magazine with profiles of innovators.

In the Style and Fashion section, there was an interesting piece about a woman I had never heard of before: Print Pioneer Celia Birtwell.

The article began like this:

Thanks to the queen, 70-year-old Celia Birtwell is now not only a designer, she's a Commander. Earlier this month she was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) at Buckingham Palace for her lifetime of service to the fashion industry. But Ms. Birtwell has been a leader and innovator in her own right for decades, known the world over as one of the most important textile designers of her generation. In the 1960s and '70s together with her then-husband, designer Ossie Clark, she virtually invented bohemian chic. Ms. Birtwell's fluid, ethereal and dynamic mix of patterns became a mainstay in the wardrobes of The Beatles, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Twiggy and Jimi Hendrix, among others. Her look also inspired artist David Hockney, who regards Ms. Birtwell as one of his principal muses.

To read the rest of the article, click HERE.

Photo Credit: Andrew Lamb

Saturday, October 29, 2011


It was a packed house at the Museum of the Moving Image for a live interview with legendary film director and Muppeteer Frank Oz.

The interview, part of the Jim Henson's Fantastic World exhibit, was conducted by Craig Shemin, President of the Jim Henson Legacy.

Here's some stuff I learned about Frank:

* Frank first met Jim Henson when Frank was 17 and Jim was 24. Two years later, Jim asked Frank to move to New York to work with him.

* Frank has known the late Muppets writer Jerry Juhl since he was 12 years old, and describes Jerry as a "dear friend."

* Frank is open about having experienced low self-esteem and shyness in the earlier days of his life, and let audience members know that it's possible to overcome that.

* He did lots of bits with Jim Henson for the Ed Sullivan Show

* He was drafted to the army but released when they discovered he had a heart condition

* Soon after, he went to work on the newly-formed Sesame Street, a t.v. show Frank says was "never planned to be a huge success"

* On Sesame Street, Frank played the roles of Grover, Cookie Monster, Burt, Prince Charming, and more.

* On The Muppet Show and in Muppet movies, Frank played Animal, Miss Piggy, Sam the Eagle, and more. Here's a hilarious clip that MOMI played of Sam the Eagle (Frank) singing Tick Willow with Rowlf the Dog.

* One character observation Frank made of Miss Piggy is that she is funny because of the way she holds down all her pain (she loves a frog who doesn't love her back, she can't carry a tune, etc.) and yet demonstrates "extraordinary bravado"

* Says Frank of Jim Henson: "He was always doing the impossible." Frank gave, as an example, the way that Jim took 10 days at a pool to shoot an underwater synchronized swimming routine that involved both Muppets and humans.

* At one point, when Jim and Frank were on a plane together, Jim turned and ask Frank to direct The Dark Crystal with him. When Frank asked Jim why he was asking him, Jim replied: "I think it would be better [with you]."

* Frank directed other films such as The Stepford Wives and The Little Shop of Horrors

* The character Frank played that he most relates to is Grover

* Frank comes to play a role on Sesame Street about once a year

* He was not part of the process of choosing performers that took over the characters that he and Jim used to play

* Frank was the voice of Yoda for Star Wars. He explained how it took multiple folks to operate Yoda's body movements and facial expressions in conjunction with the voice."

Frank explains: "When you are a Muppeteer, doing the voice is 5 per cent of the work.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


What an amazing treat and honor to get to hear about the life of Jim Henson from the perspective of people who were part of his nuclear and work family.

Six folks gathered onstage of the Museum of the Moving Image to show and talk about film clips which reflected some part of Jim's body of work.

Jim Henson Legacy president Craig Shemin, who put together all of the film compilations for the entire Jim Henson's Fantastic World exhibit, moderated the event with his usual fun and engaging humor.

He first introduced Cheryl Henson, who spoke to an often-asked question about what it was like for her to be one of Jim's children. Cheryl shared that her father was fond of having his children be a part of his work projects and would go out of his way to make that happen. She chose to show the clip Run, Run, which Jim filmed at his family's home in Connecticut and depicts his daughters Cheryl and Lisa running into the arms of their mother. The lovely music was composed by Joe Raposo. Cheryl also showed Two Little Dolls. (Check out this interesting piece about Two Little Dolls in Jim Henson's The Red Book.)

Next, Craig introduced Bonnie Erickson, the current Executive Director of The Jim Henson Legacy who created, amongst other creatures, Ms. Piggy, Statler, Waldorf, and Zoot. (See my interview with Bonnie HERE.) Reflecting on her work as a colleague with Jim Henson, Bonnie asked "How could you ever find [another] job where you spent most of your time laughing?"

She talked about how various Muppet characters either fell by the wayside or "found fame and fortune," as well as about how characters evolved both in terms of appearance and personality. One interesting tidbit from Ms. Erickson: Ms. Piggy was designed as an homage to Peggy Lee. (More on that topic HERE.) Bonnie chose a clip about a behind-the-scenes workshop look at the making of Emmett Otter characters.

Fran Brill, a long-time Muppeteer of characters such as Prairie Dawn and Zoe, presented a film clip depicting the hard physical work that goes into being a Muppeteer.

Aurthur Novell, who did public relations for Henson, talked about how Jim's work reflected what was happening in the culture at that time. Novell chose to share a hilarious clip of Piggy and Kermit hosting the Emmy Awards in 1979.

Toward the end of the program, Craig Shemin described the period of time that Muppet characters appeared on Saturday Night Live and how one of the SNL writers declared "I don't write for felt." He also let the audience in on the fact that there's a script for a Fraggle Rock movie that has not yet been made.

For more information about the current MOMI exhibit Jim Henson's Fantastic World, click HERE.


Photo Credit: Spencer Heyfron
Photo Source: New York Magazine

Monday, October 17, 2011

Saturday, October 01, 2011



Here, Pink Monkey emulates Janet Jackson in the Rhythm Nation music video.

I keep a gratitude journal by my bed. Right before my head hits the pillow, I jot 10 highlights from the day in a tiny chunky purple spiral notebook I found in a bin at Staples. So I record the items, read a few inspiring lines from a book, and then it's lights out. Ya know what? It's as a good a way as any to end the day.

Here's my gratitude list for this moment:

1. Candy Corn in little cellophane bags: So pretty to look at with its festive fall colors. PLUS it's a vegetable AND a candy!

2. The adorable dog, Eggplant, whose owner Ari (proprietor of an AT&T store on 7th Ave) claims is half-pig, half-dog.

3. The way my husband, Mike, can make inanimate objects - including a Lucy Pez dispenser and a stuffed pink monkey - look absolutely real.

4. The Pay it Forward cycle of small black umbrellas - friends loan them to friends who loan them to friends.

5. The YMCA - wins for best ROI

6. The chalk drawings of two narwhals with speech bubble conversations on the sandwich board outside the Housing Works Book Cafe in SoHo.

7. Bouncy Castles at street fairs

8. Lobbies of hotels and Upper East Side buildings - mini Grand Central Stations and comfy places to sit to watch the world go by

9. The super-satisfied feeling I have after cleaning out a closet or a file drawer

10. Friends who are good telephone conversationalists (e.g. who just focus in on the talk and stop doing other stuff)


I was so excited when I heard that the artwork of renowned children's book author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats was going to be on exhibit at The Jewish Museum. I had read and loved his classic The Snowy Day during my childhood, and continued to discover and enjoy his other books as an educator and leader of family literacy workshops. The parents of these workshops were always pleased to receive their free copy of The Snowy Day, compliments of Learning Leaders.

So of course I jumped at the chance to go to the press preview. Imagine my (and other folks') delight when I saw a tenement/front stoop scene brought to life via a mural, chalk drawings on the floor, and real steps, accompanied by lots of bean bags where visitors could park themselves to read Keats' picture books. It was funny to look around and see adults sunk down deep into the bean bags. One visitor said to a nearby museum employee "I'm afraid if I get into the beanbag, I won't be able to get back up!" Seriously, I could have lounged there all day just taking everything in and enjoying the artwork.

While parked on the beanbag, I had an interesting conversation with's Marjorie Ingall about Mr. Keats' ambivalence about his Judaism. Since his characters are largely African America, many readers do not realize that Keats himself is Jewish. Do read Marjorie's article about this topic over at

Another worthwhile piece of the exhibit to take note of is the glass-enclosed display featuring the history of the depiction of African American children in children's literature. A piece of the text accompanying the sampling of books over the decades which feature African American characters reads as follows:

"Throughout the 1970s and 1980s children of color could increasingly see realistic and positive reflections of themselves in picture books. Even so, today fewer than 10 percent of children's books have significant African-American content."

While at the exhibit, I also learned that Keats won the Caldecott Award for The Snowy Day in 1962 alongside of Madeleine L'Engle, the later of whom was bestowed with the honor of The Newberry Medal. Keats was so terrified of giving his acceptance speech, he considered the act of giving the speech as big of an accomplishment as receiving the award itself.

In the video which plays at the exhibit, children's book author illustrator Jerry Pinkney says this of Keats: "He opens up a world that the child feels he already owns, [thus] creating a partnership."

Pinkney will be giving a presentation about Keats' work and ther role of diversity in children's literature. The talk will be hosted by The Jewish Museum on Monday, October 17th at 11:30 am. For ticket information, click HERE.

The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats is the first major exhibition in this country to pay tribute to award-winning author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats (1916–1983. It will be at the Jewish Museum until January 29, 2012.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


What: Artist Talk w/ Don Oehl hosted by Lesley Ware "The Creative Cookie"

When: This Sunday, October 2nd, 2011 3-5p

Where: Clic Gallery & Bookstore 255 Centre Street, Manhattan 10013


Why: Fall is a fun time to celebrate creativity!

(Don to speak promptly at 4p)

URL to Lesly's blog:

URL to Don's Site:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Did I get your attention with that cookie bit? It's true!

I've been to two special events at MOMI's Henson Exhibit and it is seriously awesome, not to be missed.

This weekend at MOMI is going to be extra special, as it would have been Jim Henson's 75th birthday. There will be all kinds of special things happening, so check out the info below as well as the MOMI website.


Special programs and surprises, including free limited-edition cookie for first 1,000 visitors

On September 24, 2011, the world-renowned puppeteer, filmmaker, and television pioneer, Jim Henson would have turned 75. On this day, Museum of the Moving Image, which is currently presenting the exhibition Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, will celebrate Henson’s work and legacy with a program of “Muppet Music Moments” featuring special guests, a limited edition commemorative cookie for the first 1,000 visitors, and other gifts and surprises.

Visitors to the Museum on Saturday, September 24 will be able to participate in the following experiences:

At 1:00 p.m. in the Main Theater, attend the special program “Muppet Music Moments,” with introductions by Craig Shemin, President of The Jim Henson Legacy, and Bonnie Erickson, Executive Director of The Jim Henson Legacy and designer of Miss Piggy, along with guest speaker Larry Grossman, music consultant for The Muppet Show. This 77-minute compilation features performances by Harry Belafonte, Elton John, Linda Ronstadt, and other Muppet Show guest stars, in a wide range of musical genres—classic music numbers interpreted as only the Muppets can.

Tickets are free with Museum admission and will be distributed first-come, first-served. Museum members may reserve advance tickets. (This compilation program will also be presented on Sunday, September 25, at 1:00 p.m. with Larry Grossman in person).
Receive a custom-designed commemorative cookie featuring Kermit the Frog’s signature foot prints (as long as supplies last). These artisanal cookies were produced especially for the Museum by Bonne Fete Baking, Inc. and You Cake, Inc., two Queens-based small businesses that operate at the Entrepreneur Space, a partnership of the Queens Economic Development Corporation and Mi kitchen es su kitchen.

Watch a special episode of The Muppet Show in which the cast celebrates Kermit the Frog’s birthday. The 22-minute program will screen continuously in the Museum’s Fox Amphitheater in the Education Center and is included with Museum admission.

Write a personal message and sign your name in a commemorative journal that will be given to The Jim Henson Legacy for their archives.

On this weekend and at the Museum through January 16, 2012, visitors are able to explore Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, the Smithsonian traveling exhibition that has been drawing record crowds across the country. The exhibition features more than 120 artifacts, including puppets of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Rowlf, Mahna Mahna, and others; drawings and storyboards; photographs; props; and rare video material. Guided tours of the exhibition are offered each Saturday and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Access to the exhibition is included with regular Museum admission.

Jim Henson’s experimental 1965 film, Time Piece, nominated for an Academy Award, will be on continuous view in the Museum’s Video Screening Amphitheater through November 16, 2011.

Produced and compiled by Craig Shemin, "Muppet Music Moments" is presented by the Museum in partnership with The Jim Henson Legacy, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Irena Kovarova. MUPPET, MUPPETS and the Muppets Characters are registered trademarks of The Muppets Studio, LLC.

Jim Henson’s Fantastic World is organized by The Jim Henson Legacy and Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), in cooperation with the Henson Family; The Jim Henson Company; The Muppets Studio, LLC; and Sesame Workshop. The exhibition is made possible by the BIO channel. Support for Jim Henson's Fantastic World at Museum of the Moving Image is provided by The Jane Henson Foundation, Five Napkin Burger, and Cheryl Henson. Additional support is provided by Schmutter, Strull, Fleisch Inc. and The Astor Room.

The Jim Henson Legacy is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Jim Henson’s contributions to the worlds of puppetry, television and motion pictures, special effects and media technology. More information at

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history. More information at

Press Contact: Tomoko Kawamoto / / 718 777 6830


Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Friday, 10:30 to 8:00 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (Closed on Monday except for holiday openings).

Film Screenings: Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays, and as scheduled.

Museum Admission: $12.00 for adults; $9.00 for persons over 65 and for students with ID; $6.00 for children ages 3-18. Children under 3 and Museum members are admitted free. Admission to the galleries is free on Fridays, 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. Tickets for special screenings and events may be purchased in advance by phone at 718 777 6800 or online.

Location: 36-01 35 Avenue (at 37 Street) in Astoria.

Subway: M (weekdays only) or R to Steinway Street. Q (weekdays only) or N to 36 Avenue.

Program Information: Telephone: 718 777 6888; Website:

Monday, September 19, 2011


....which you can find at the MOMA store in SoHo.


This just in from Rob York:

We’re looking for 1000 good people to join the Scenarios USA REAL DEAL Selection Committee. As you know, Scenarios USA hosts an annual writing contest as part of a standards-based curriculum for youth in grades 6-12. Currently, thousands of young people are writing about this year's topic: "What's the REAL DEAL about Gender, Power and Relationships?"

Two stories will be chosen to be made into films with the winning writers, working in partnership with Hollywood directors. The films will be made in the writers' hometowns, with professional film crews and the winners' teachers, family and peers helping out in front of and behind the camera.

We need volunteer readers across the country to join the REAL DEAL Selection Committee and help choose the winning submissions. This is your chance to participate in the process and to hear directly from young people about their world and how they see it.

Please note if you or one of your students is writing for the contest, you cannot participate in the Selection Committee.

Who: All adults and youth over age 12, can be a member of the Selection Committee.

When: Sign up right now. We stop recruiting on December 31st. You will receive an email by the first week of February with a link to your scripts and a rating form.

How: Please CLICK HERE to sign up.

What: The email will link you to a rating form with a maximum of 10 submissions to read and rate. Each script is approximately 7-10 pages long. It usually takes 90 minutes – 2 hours to read them. You will have ten days to complete the rating form.

"My experience as a Selection Committee member for your writing competition has changed my outlook toward my family, students and people in general. It was a pleasure getting teens' perspectives on their own life encounters."

-- Ashley Torok, Teacher

Rob York

Director, Media Production and Distribution
p. 718.230.5125 f. 718.230.4381
80 Hanson Place Ste 305 Brooklyn NY 11217
Scenarios USA :: What’s the REAL DEAL?


What's cuter than a pup crossing days off a calendar? This sign is perched outside of Papel New York in Cobble Hill.

The most eye-catching signs are the ones done with chalk and a skilled set of hands.

Lots of stores in our neighborhood use the medium now, and it looks homemade and professional at the same time.

Out in front of The Housing Works Book Cafe in SoHo, there is a sandwich board out front that displays chalk drawings of narwhals - the unicorn-y whales - accompanied by speech bubbles to advertise what's going on inside.

Intriguing? Inviting? You bet.


I just spotted this new magazine, The Social Media Monthly, at Barnes & Nobles. If you subscribe before September 25, you get a 65% discount.

Once you get your mits on a copy, I'd like to hear from you if you think it's any good.

Friday, September 16, 2011


For the past bunch of months, I had been hearing from my brother, Adam, about this film , Manufacturing Stoke, that his friend, Pierce Kavanaugh, was making. The film was about the evironmental impact of how surf gear gets manufactured. I knew also that Adam and his teenage son (my nephew) Niko were in the film.

So I asked Adam if Pierce thought the film would be in the upcoming New York Surf Film Festival.

A few weeks later, it was confirmed that, yes, Stoke would be in the line-up at the festival. This was great news!

Of course, my first wish is that Adam and Niko could fly out to NY from San Diego with Pierce for the NY premier. But Niko had just started school, so it didn't make sense.

So the next best thing happened - I got to meet the fantastic Mr. Kavanaugh and his awesome wife Petra, plus the crew of lovely folks who had worked on and appeared in the film. We hung out at the Film Festival launch party in SoHo. Pierce asked me "Do you call your brother Trout?" (That is my brother's name amongst his friends.) I said "No, I just call him Lil' Bro." Pierce laughed.

The following night, my husband Mike and I ventured out to see Manufacturing Stoke.

Right after we got our seats, I texted my brother:

"Can we yell out 'Hey, there's Adam! There's Niko!' when we see you guys on the screen?"

My brother texted back: "Ummmmmmmmmm, no."

But we did some yelling anyway.

It was kind of emotional to see my brother and Niko larger than life on the movie screen. I mean, the camerawork was fantastic and the crew captured these guys' love for the sport and for the ocean. Plus, I KNOW these guys! I held Niko in my arms just days after he was born. I played with Adam practically every day of my life as a young child. So I sort of did have to choke back the tears.

I'm incredibly proud of everyone who worked on this film and so pleased that my brother and his son got to have this experience together.

Way to go, hombres!

Top Photo: Pierce Kavanaugh, Eleanor Traubman, Mike Sorgatz, Jeremy Workman

Bottom Photo: Niko Traubman


Dear Friends, Artists, Entrepreneurs, Teachers, Students, Collaborators, and Readers -

Hip Hip Hooray!

This week marks the 6th Birthday of Creative Times: A Blog for Artists and Entrepreneurs.

I have loved every moment of getting to bring you face-to-face interviews with artists (like living design legend Eva Zeisel in the photo above - she had just celebrated her 100th birthday!); the inside scoop on arts and culture events, premiers, performances and venues around New York; and images and resources to keep you, as creative folks, connected and in-the-know.

Thank you for being with me throughout this journey and for being a source of energy for this project!

If you've enjoyed reading Creative Times, or if CT has inspired you in any way, please consider becoming a Community Patron.

Want to Help Power Creative Times?
Here Are Some Ways to Become a
Community Patron

1. Creative Times Supporter: Contribute $1 to $19 and receive:
* A personal email letter of gratitude
* A link to you/your business on the blog and a mention on Facebook

2. Creative Times Friend: Contribute $20 to $49 and receive:
* A hand-written letter of thanks delivered pony express!
* A link to you/your business on the blog and a mention on Facebook

3. Creative Times BFF: Contribute $50-$99 and receive:
* All the benefits of a Friend
* A copy of one of my favorite bedside table books Monica Sheehan's Be Happy: A little book to help you live a happy life

4. Creative Times Hero/ine: Contribute $100 - $299 and receive:
* All of the benefits of a BFF
* A copy of Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

5. Creative Times Superhero/ine:
Contribute $300 - $999 and receive:
* All the benefits of a CT Hero/ine
*A copy of The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman

6. Creative Times Angel: Contribute $1000 - $4999 and receive:
* All the benefits of a CT Superhero/ine
* Your pick of any two Mike Sorgatz Prints
* Flowers delivered to your doorstep

7. Creative Times Super Hero/ine Angel Benefactor: Contribute $5000 and receive:
* All the benefits of a CT Angel
* Flowers delivered to your doorstep every other month for one year

*** You can also contribute to the campaign through the Donate button in the right hand margin of the blog.***

If you have any questions about the Community Patron campaign, please send an email to

Some Fun Facts About Creative Times:

* Creative Times was born in 2003 as an email newsletter designed to keep in touch with family, friends, colleagues, and clients. Monthly topics included: Generosity, The Magic of Forts, Creative Heroes, Using Your Hands, Getting to Know Your Neighborhood, Jim Henson, Meaningful Ways to Celebrate the Holidays, Why I Love the Library, and Urban Retreats.

* In September of 2005, Creative Times made the leap from email newsletter to the blogosphere, while keeping the email newsletter component.

* Creative Times has featured interviews with phenomenal creative heroes and heroines such as

Maira Kalman - Phenomenal Designer/Illustrator/Writer
Kevin Clash - Elmo Muppeteer and Co-Producer of Sesame Street
Eva Zeisel - Living Design Legend
Bonnie Erickson - Muppets Creator

* Creative Times diligently brings you, the reader, the inside scoop about arts and culture venues, shows, premiers, and organizations in New York and beyond. Examples include

Premier of the VH1 Rock Doc Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America
Sesame Street: A Celebration! Film Festival at The Brooklyn Academy of Music
Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations of a Crazy World at The Jewish Museum
David Dorfman's The Prophets of Funk at Jacob's Pillow
Jim Henson's Fantastic World exhibit at The Museum of the Moving Image

Pierce Cavanaugh's Manufacturing Stoke at the New York Surf Film Festival

* Behind the scenes, Creative Times helps connect artists connect with each other and with the resources they need to flourish.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


After receiving an invite from DJ Hardy at 5W Public Relations, I swung by yesterday's promotional event for a super-swanky Krups Espressaria Automatic at The Empire Hotel across the street from Lincoln Center. On my way over, I was joined for lunch at the David Rubenstein Atrium by a couple visiting from New Zealand. Their 32 hour trip to the states made my occasional east to west coast trip look like a drive to the grocery store!

Also on my way over to The Empire, I saw a gorgeous display in the windows of West Elm promoting that night's launch of Grace Bonney's Design Sponge. (Grace runs a blog with a mammoth following by the same name.)

One of the West Elm employees, a great guy named David Strickler, was kind enough to get me on the guest list.(Impressively, David also speaks American Sign Language, which he lets people know on his nametag.)

In between the Empire Hotel event and the Design Sponge Launch, I stopped in an old haunt, the 63rd Street Y, to use their pool. (I used to teach pre-school there 15 years ago!)

The Design Sponge book launch was a blast. First, my friend Jeffrey and I took a series of 3 photos in their makeshift photo booth. (Ya gotta love the pipe and dog cutouts!) Then, I walked around to look at all the merchandise and displays, talked to the super-friendly staff who had been pulled in from lots of West Elm stores, and enjoyed the upbeat music played by DJ Billy Beyond (see above photo).

There was so much creative energy in this neck of the woods, due in part to Fashion Week. This is definitely one week that typifies the season for launches and premiers. I think I got invitations to about 5 different events happening tomorrow night, the 15th. But of course, I will go to my number one priority, which is the documentary Manufacturing Stoke that my brother and nephew are in.


A note from Caitlin at Brooklyn Creative:

I wanted to introduce to you {BROOKLYN CREATIVE} a new series of artist workshops conducted right on the waterfront of historical Dumbo art district. In this present internet- age, knowledge is plentiful yet motivation and inspiration is harder to come by. Our workshops provide a practical know-how, with focused critiques harvesting the honest energy of a community workspace. We celebrate the idea that working together can make bigger things happen, and will push you to follow through with your goals. Everyone deserves the right to learn while having fun in the process, learn it fast, do it right get it done.

You can use this code BCX01CM to receive 10% off any workshop on our website or sign up with a friend and you BOTH GET 25%OFF! We also offer several free tutorials throughout the month.

BkC currently offers short term and long term phototgraphy based workshops to provide you with a backbone to confidently control your camera to produce interesting images in a New York time frame. Our staff of experienced educators, artists, and creative professionals set the stage for no-nonsense instruction for you to learn a new skill or progress in your practice and exhibit a final portfolio in our gallery. Set in a 8-week, 4-week, and 1 day format we offer the option for you to learn realistic street-smart skills intensively, or grow and discuss with a motivated group to present a final work.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Henson & Bert. Photograph by Ted Neuhoff. ©2007 The Jim Henson Company. All Rights Reserved.

SPECIAL EVENT at The Museum of the Moving Image

Jim Henson: Friends and Family

Part of Henson Screenings & Special Programs

Sunday, September 18, 4:00 p.m.

Buy Tickets

A roundtable conversation with Cheryl Henson, Bonnie Erickson, Craig Shemin, Fran Brill, Arthur Novell, and Karen Falk, featuring rare archival clips and a 35mm screening of Jim Henson’s avant-garde film Time Piece

Close colleagues and daughter of Jim Henson will participate in a wide-ranging and intimate conversation about working on projects including The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, The Dark Crystal, The Muppet Movie, and more—all accompanied by their favorite clips. The panel will include Cheryl Henson, daughter of Jim Henson and President of the Jim Henson Foundation; Bonnie Erickson, Executive Director of The Jim Henson Legacy and designer of Miss Piggy and other iconic Muppet characters; Craig Shemin, President of The Jim Henson Legacy and longtime writer for The Muppets; Fran Brill, the first female Muppet performer hired by Jim Henson for Sesame Street; Arthur Novell, former Executive Director of The Jim Henson Legacy and longtime publicist for The Jim Henson Company; and Karen Falk, archivist and curator of the exhibition Jim Henson’s Fantastic World. The discussion will be followed by a special showing of Time Piece, Jim Henson’s 1965 experimental short (9 mins.), presented in an archival 35mm print.

Tickets: $15 public / $10 Museum members / Free for members at the Silver Screen level and above. Call 718 777 6800 or order online.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


MANUFACTURING STOKE from misfit pictures on Vimeo.

WHAT: New York Premier of Manufacturing Stoke

WHEN: Thursday, September 15 @ 8:45 pm

WHERE: Cinema Village, 22 East 12th Street, NY
By Subway - Take the N, R, 4, 5, 6 or L trains to 14th Street Union Square



Directed by Pierce Michael Kavanagh
With Legends & Unknowns
Duration: 80 minutes

Manufacturing Stoke is an introspective look into the surfing culture’s struggle to be beneficial unto itself, a tapestry of both influential and eclectic members of the surfing community that are constantly striving for positive change amid one of surfing’s greatest paradox: no other sport is as intrinsically linked to nature, surfers are indeed directly connected to the earth’s pulse and yet a majority of the materials used are environmentally toxic.
No other sport is so intrinsically linked to nature. Some call it a spiritual experience, most call it indescribable. And yet, in becoming the multi-billion dollar industry it is today, a great paradox has risen. Surfers are indeed directly connected to the earth’s pulse and yet a majority of the materials used are environmentally toxic.

The story begins in the 1960’s, the golden era of surfing, a time of innocence and discovery. Surf culture erupted onto the collective consciousness and became the epitome of cool. Fast forward to December 5th, 2005 and the closing of Clark Foam for environmental reasons, the largest surf blanks manufacturer in the world. Not only was the event a wake-up call for many to shift from petroleum-base products to more ecofriendly materials, it also re-framed the foundation of a stagnant culture. Enter surfing’s renaissance, an era where the new generation is completely changing what it means to be a surfer. And amid timid efforts from the industry’s biggies, a plethora of grassroots up-and-comers is redefining what a surfer is supposed to ride. From wooden surfboards, handplanes and alaias to recycled blanks and organic clothing, wave riding is taking on a new soul.

Taking California as its focal point, the birth place of the surf industry, the film travels from San Diego to San Francisco, via San Clemente, to capture the diversity of the Californian coast, while interviewing an amazing variety of people in their respective environments. Let it be a shaping room, an office, a beach, a blank factory, an art gallery, or a wood shop, you will be transported to a world rarely-ever-seen. Framed through the eyes of the youth, the documentary features for the very first time three up-and-coming surfers:

Lucas Dirkse, 16, Niko Traubman 13, and Tiare Thompson, 9. From riding the unconventional and bodysurfing, to bringing back the stoke, they are now dictating what the industry will become. Also featured are icons of the industry, including John Baker Dahl and Carl Ekstrom. From the invention of surf wax to those who created the modern board, these individuals have shaped the surfing world for the last 50 years and they now share their invaluable insights on the evolution of the industry.

Inspired by the great innovators of surfing's golden era, a myriad of inspired individuals are taking a stand and changing the rules. From Danny Hess in San Francisco who is proving that a board made out of wood can be just as performing as a traditional foam board, to Local Clothes in the Central Coast who are completely redefining how the clothing industry operates. Manufacturing Stoke is an introspective look into the surfing culture’s struggle to be beneficial unto itself, a tapestry of both influential and eclectic members of the surfing community that are constantly striving for positive change.

Friday, September 09, 2011


I had the pleasure of hanging out with visual and performing artist Day Minh Le.

The piece shown aboved was made with yarn and t pins.

Here's how Day describes his work:

Much of my work is derived from using universally accepted logics (i.e. fibonacci numbers and binary codes) and removing their logic by implementing a personal one. Through constant tweaks to these established understandings, my work takes form through knitted installations. These works are to be inviting for the viewer to climb through the extensions and find themselves surrounded by the piece itself.

My painting is, so far, a slow exploration. My interest at this moment is on the practice of painting large, larger than me anyways, pieces that I become invested in. Painting large is intimate by execution not on scale, which becomes largely time intensive.


I recently asked designer/illustrator/writer Maira Kalman what she's been up to and here's what she shared with me:

So nice to hear from you.
Much is happening.

I have illustrated Michael pollan's
FOOD RULES and it will be published in october.

He is sensational, as everyone knows.

After that, in january, a book by Daniel Handler that I illustrated called
WHY WE BROKE UP is being published.

He is also sensational, as everyone knows.

And then in february a children's book about Lincoln that I wrote and illustrated is being published.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


FREESTYLE / Skateboarding Art - New York, 2011

An Exhibit at The Hudson Guild

Opening Reception: Thursday, 15 September 2011, 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Runs from September 15 - November 19

Viewing Hours: Tuesdays - Fridays 10 am - 7pm; Saturdays and Sundays 1- 4

Organized by artist Rick Kreiger, this exhibit will explore the many diverse strands of skateboard culture featuring decorative ideas and ancillary art related to this popular, daredevil lifestyle. The show will include artwork produced specifically for skateboard decks, paintings, sculpture, photography and sticker art related to skateboarding. The intention of the show is to present the various ways the sport is depicted in these art forms, and the role art plays in this highly selfexpressive lifestyle.

Location : Hudson Guild Gallery / 441 W. 26th Street / NY 10001

Contact : Jim Furlong, Director of Arts / 212.760.9837 /

Sunday, September 04, 2011


Want to have some fun and get out of your daily mental routine?

Go read a magazine or newspaper you've never looked at before - even better, one you've never considered reading before.

This week, I picked up a copy of the magazine Transworld Skateboarding. My nephews skateboard, my brother used to skateboard, lots of young people around me do this sport, and I am totally fascinated by the incredible athleticism, grace, and physics involved in skateboarding and the whole culture in which it is embedded.

I wanted to understand it more from an insider's perspective, so I purchased the 13th Annual Awards issue from a news stand at a subway stop.

One way I keep my mind fresh and open to new ideas is by reading a lot of different kinds of printed publications - newspapers and magazines. I read some articles fully, and skim other parts of magazines and newspapers for ideas, people, and trends that are interesting to me.

Some mags I subscribe to, others I buy off the news stand or find on people's front stoops. (I'm not stealing; people in my neighborhood put stuff up for grabs when they are done with it.)

When I travel to different neighborhoods in New York, I often pick up free neighborhood-based newspapers so I know what's going on all over the place, not just in Carroll Gardens.

Sometimes I find stuff I want to do more research on and then blog about.

Sometimes I learn about people - authors, film makers, etc. who I end up emailing and writing about on this blog.

Sometimes I discover cultural events and venues that I go and visit.

In other words: by reading different kinds of publications, my world and my mind always get bigger.

In the past month, I have read these rags and probably some I can't remember. Red means I have a subscription to this publication.

  • Ebony

  • Oprah

  • Fast Company

  • NY Times (I read this at least 3 times a week)

  • Transworld Skateboarding

  • Chopsticks NY

  • Paper

  • Glamour

  • Dwell

  • Travel & Leisure

  • Psychology Today

  • Town & Country

Saturday, September 03, 2011


That's right, y'all. The schedule for the 2011 New York Surf Film Festival has just been released by its Founder and Director Morgan Rae Berk.

The festival will take place from Thursday, September 15 through Saturay, September 17th at Cinema Village in New York City. Tickets go on sale starting September 6.

Here's the films I'm gonna see for sure:

* MANUFACTURING STOKE: My brother and nephew are in this documentary, so of course I am not gonna miss it!!!!! If you are some kind of angel and would like to pay their way to fly from San Diego to New York so they they can be here for the NY premier of Stoke, let me know!!!!

Directed by Pierce Michael Kavanagh
With Legends & Unknowns
Duration: 80 minutes

Synopsis: Manufacturing Stoke is an introspective look into the surfing culture’s struggle to be beneficial unto itself, a tapestry of both influential and eclectic members of the surfing community that are constantly striving for positive change amid one of surfing’s greatest paradox: no other sport is as intrinsically linked to nature, surfers are indeed directly connected to the earth’s pulse and yet a majority of the materials used are environmentally toxic.


Directed by Peter Goetz
With Sofia Mulanovich
Duration : 55 minutes

Synopsis : Sofia is a one-hour documentary film that uncovers the spirit of surfer Sofia Mulanovich, the first female World Champion athlete from Peru. Sofia tells the story of how an unlikely heroine has inspired a new energy within her developing nation. It demonstrates how Sofia embodies Peru’s new wave towards progress, proving the statement, Si, se puede! (Yes, you can!). Sofia’s World Champion victory has ripped apart cultural barriers, by mobilizing an entire generation of young people to believe that anything is possible.


Directed by Claire Gorman
With Nikki Van Dijk, Jess Laing, India Payne. Co Starring Steph Gilmore, Alana Blanchard, Coco Ho, Georgia Fish, and Cahill Bell-Warren.
Duration : 58 minutes

Synopsis : First Love is about love, friendship and following your dreams.This feature length film follows the lives of three passionate young girls from Phillip Island and documents their trip to Hawaii – the first step on their journey to making a career out of surfing. Starring Jess Laing, Nikki van Dijk, India Payne, Steph Gilmore, Alana Blanchard, Coco Ho, Georgia Fish & Cahill Bell-Warren.