Monday, November 11, 2013


Attention busy New York women!

Do you feel overwhelmed by your holiday to-do list?

 Would you like to start 2014 with less clutter and more breathing space?

Let a veteran professional organizer help you to:

* Break down holiday to-do lists into manageable steps

* Get your holiday cards and gift-wrapping done

* Set up clutter-free zones in time for house guests and parties

* Clear your desk and get a great filing system in place in time for 2014!

For more information: ETraubman(at)gmail(dot)com

Eleanor has been organizing busy New York women since 2000. Her work has been featured in Time Out New York • Fitness • Family Circle • Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn • The Brooklyn Paper

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Special time is the practice of regularly setting aside time to follow a child's lead in play. This article originally appeared in Park Slope Parents.

It’s no mystery that one of the biggest gifts you can give to your child is the gift of time and your undivided attention. It’s tough to give our complete attention these days, given that our adult plates are spilling over with projects, chores, errands, and concerns about what’s going on in the world. And with all of our portable electronic devices at hand, it’s getting harder to slow down the pace at which we live our lives.

There’s a great ritual you can add to your routine that will make it easier to protect the “undivided attention time” you give to your child, whether he is an infant or a teen. It’s called Special Time, and it has a huge and visible impact on the quality of your relationship with your child.

Here’s how Special Time works:

Tell your child in advance that you are setting aside a particular day and a certain length of time – somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour works well – to do exactly what he or she wants to do. By letting your child know ahead of time, you give your child a chance to start working on how to use the Special Time. Ideally, you can carve out this time on a regular basis – whether it’s weekly or a couple of times a month. Make it something your child can depend on and you’ll both reap the best rewards.

Follow up on your promise! Do not answer the phone, scan messages on your BlackBerry, chat with other adults, or wash the dishes during that allotted amount of time. It’s your job to fully respect your child’s mind and see where it takes the two of you. Pay close attention to your child’s verbal and non-verbal cues about what role s/he wants you to take on during Special Time. One child may want to you watch him in whatever he chooses to do; another might want you to play a more physically active role in her chosen pastime.

Believe me, it’s going to be tempting to guide or tweak the play in some way. Resist the pull to say “Hey, here’s an idea” or “Let’s do it this way.” Really see and follow where your child’s mind takes the two of you. If feelings of discomfort, boredom, or frustration arise for you during Special Time, just take mental note of them and keep going. Later, when you’re out of earshot of your child, you can vent to another adult about whatever came up for you. That way, you can keep coming back to Special Time with a fresh perspective.

Special Time, especially if done on a regular basis, has enormous benefits for your children and your relationship with each of them. By providing a safe space to try out ideas without reprimand or interference, you help build your children’s trust in you and the world around them. By following their minds completely, you help them gain confidence in their own thoughts and initiatives.

Special Time strengthens your connection to your child by letting you get to know your child in a different way. By paying close attention to facial expressions, gestures, words, and ideas, you learn more about skills your child wants to master, information he or she aims to make sense of, and tensions or fears to work though.

Over time – or maybe even right away! – your child may use something that happens during special time as a pretext to work through some big emotion that’s built up over time. Even if you don’t know where the upset is coming from, stay close during the tears or the anger, and let the feelings show until s/he is done and ready to go back into the play.

If you decide to give Special Time a try, let me know how it goes! I’d love to know about your successes and what you learn. I’ve been doing Special Time with young ones for more than 20 years, and I still discover something new about them, about me, and about the process each time.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Egg Toss
Decorated egg

Mike and John hanging out
Beans the Hotdog dressed as a hot fudge sundae

Three years ago, one of the dads on our street (shout-out to Warren Cohen!) decided to organize a block party.  Word had it that 10 to 15 years had passed since there had been one on 1st Street in Brooklyn, NY.  He got some of us together for a meeting at a local bar, and we brainstormed ideas for activities.

"There's a lot of young children on our block, so maybe we should just have quiet activities."

The more experienced people who had grown up in the neighborhood set me straight: "So we'll have a DJ and a bouncy castle for starters."

I sat back and listened; clearly, they were the pros!

As it got closer to the actual event, more people stepped forward with ideas: a pet parade, bike decorating, temporary tattoos.  I volunteered to run a name tag table so people didn't have to be awkward if they didn't know each other's names.

A few days prior to that first block party, signs went up telling people to move their cars off the street.
The night before and the morning of the party, the cars disappeared as if by magic.  More magical, still, was the beautiful empty of the street presenting itself to all of us residents to fill it with whatever we wanted to.

The morning of that first party, there was a buzz of excitement in the air.  Young people came out of their homes and looked around, then came out to play with each other.  Slowly, the adults brought out tables and grills with food to share.

Then the bouncy castle arrived.  Bouncing happened, then the castle deflated and was driven away.

There was a pet parade, and one of the pets was a chicken brought over by a guest of one the street residents.  There was also a dog with a cape.  Some of the children brought out their stuffed animals, and came along for the procession.  It looked like something out of an Ezra Jack Keats book.

Then along came the DJ, and the children did tons of group dances - the Electric Slide, the Cha-Cha, a modified version of the Thriller dance.

The day stretched into evening, more food came out, more people kept talking to each other, the children kept playing, and when it was truly dark out, guys came around selling glow-in-the-dark toys that broke within the hour.

I was exhausted, but so happy, the day after that first block party.  Having a space - a physical space - and also the span of an entire day and evening for all of us to put aside our other responsibilities to just BE with each other was such a treat, and helped us remember each other during the rest of the year even amidst our busy lives.

Since that first block party, there have been two more.  In last year's event, an egg toss was added into the mix.  Also: Beans the dachshund arrived at the pet parade dressed in a soft sculpture hot fudge sundae outfit.   In this year's festivities, the children created a Wizard of Oz skit which they performed for a bunch of us.  People sat on a picnic blanket in the middle of the street until it was time to go to bed.  I ran my third year of the name tag-making table, where people could write their name and street number. 

I hope that this tradition continues on for many years to come.  It is such fun, and a terrific reminder that each block is a community unto itself.

Long live the block par-tay!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Every time I see Angelica, one of the lifeguards at the YMCA, I want to run up and give her a hug.  Why? Because Angelica is the one who introduced me to floating.

I swim regularly at the Y, and count on my swims for the relaxation and rejuvenation that I feel afterwards, not to mention the cardiovascular benefits.  So imagine my dismay when a podiatrist, after x-raying my newly-fractured toe, told me not to go swimming.  I obeyed her orders for a little while,  and complained to my husband.  The surgical shoe I was wearing to protect my toe was throwing my whole body off kilter, causing other problems on top of the injured toe.  I was in dire need of the comfort that only a swimming pool could offer.

Finally,  my wise husband said "Why don't you just go to the pool?  I'm sure you can figure something out."  I listened to his advice, and showed up in swimsuit and bandaged toe next to the lifeguard on duty. 

"I'm not supposed to be here, I said to her.  I fractured my toe and my podiatrist said not to swim.  But I love the water."  Very calmly, she said "Put on a flotation device - it will keep your feet from touching the bottom of the pool."

Intrigued, I walked over to the big plastic bin of blue butterfly bandage-shaped flotation pieces and fastened one around my waist.  Once in the water, I was in heaven.  I was floating!    I laid back a bit, did not kick my legs, and used my arms to propel myself backwards.  What made it even more fun was that I was in the recreational lane with other people wearing flotation devices, everyone from older adults to babies to teens.  Everyone looked as happy and relaxed as I felt.  Why had I not done this before?

I had not floated before because I was too busy getting my half a mile of laps done.  Like other lap swimmers, I come with my goal and am focused on accomplishing that goal; there is no fooling around, no margin for fun.

There are so many great things about this floating business; here's a few of them:

* My head is above water, so I'm able to see all the great things going on around me - dads swimming with their babies; grandparents swimming with their grandchildren; people on the other side of the glass wall using the elliptical machines; families eating Chinese takeout in the pool observation room; lifeguards doing their jobs; swimmers kicking noisily in the lap lanes. I could also make contact with people if I wanted to:  I admired one lady floater on her robin's egg blue nail polish and she laughed with embarrassment.  Some of us floaters smile at each other, as if with a shared understanding of how happy it is to be floating.

I get to switch up my routine and experience the water in a different way.  When I'm doing straight laps (the crawl), I feel like my job is to push the water away.  When I'm floating, I am more focused on the sensation of being supported by the water.   It feels like a relationship that is based more on a certain elegant trust, rather than friction, tension, or trying to get through something.

*  I am focused more on enjoyment of being in the pool rather than rushing to get a specific task done.   I feel more in play mode, rather than in work mode. One day, I decided to try out an idea, which was to wear two flotation devices instead of one. I wrapped one around my hips and one around my waist.  By doing so, I was able to sit up straight, as if in a car, and still propel myself forward or backward with my arms.  This was the most fun I had had so far as a floater!

So these are my takeaways from this whole experiment in floating.  Let me know if any of them resonate with you:

* Even when we get orders to not do something,  it's handy to use one's own judgement about what's best to do, especially if instructions are rigid or based in fear. 

* There are helpers everywhere,  if we believe that there are and allow them to show up in our lives.

* Sometimes, it's useful, and even transformative, to take the activities we engage in all the time and approach them differently.

* Finally, it's interesting to reflect on this question: Where else in my life can I allow myself to float?

Thursday, August 01, 2013


MYTH: Being organized means having a home that resembles the pages of Real Simple magazine, with nary an object out of place!

TRUTH: Being organized means having a few systems and tools which free you up to spend more time with your friends and family and less time hunting for things you need or stressing about piles of stuff that have no rhyme or reason.

Here are ten organizing practices to get you going:

1. Set aside time to open your mail every day! Open mail over a trash/recycling can and throw out solicitations and other junk mail. Daily mail sorting prevents paper pile-up and the resulting feelings of overwhelm.

2. Use the RAFT acronym for handling papers.
R = Refer to someone else
A = Act on it if the action takes 5 minutes or less OR put it in an action pile
F = File it
T = Toss or recycle it!

3. Put old financial or archival documents which you don’t need to refer to often in a banker’s box and store on a high shelf. Create homes (binders, files, whatever works for you) for papers which come in on a regular basis – financial statements, bills, etc.

4. For de-cluttering, set aside a specific amount of time. It’s helpful to use a kitchen timer. Pick an area that you know you will be able to complete in that time frame – e.g., two shelves on the bookshelf, a dresser drawer, the top of your desk.

5. Look at one item at a time. Make a decision about each item before going on to the next. Do you want to keep it, toss it, repair it, or donate it? Make a pile for each category.

6. While going through books, clothing, jewelry, etc., ask yourself: Do I need it? Do I love it? Do I use it? Do I want it? Do I feel good when I wear it, use it, look at it? Keep or let go based on the answer.

7. When you come up against “I might need this someday,” trust that you can get what you need when the occasion arises.

8. With gifts and other objects of sentimental value, ask yourself: “Can I hold onto the memory without holding onto the object?” Choose the most precious memories and store or display them so that they are easily accessed – in albums or decorative storage boxes.

9. Have a designated place in your apartment for give-aways so that everyone can get into the habit of putting unused or unwanted stuff there. Choose a charity that you can easily walk or cab your stuff to, or one that makes pick-ups.

10. Put a vase of flowers anywhere in your apartment where clutter tends to accumulate. It’s less tempting to let clutter build up where there is beauty!

About Eleanor: A professional organizer since 1999, Eleanor assists busy New York women de-clutter and make better use of desks, closets, filing cabinets, and more. She has been featured in Time Out New York, The Brooklyn Paper, Family Circle, The Sun Times Chronicle, and Fitness, and was listed as one of The Park Slope 100.
Eleanor is also a writer, educator, and community-builder whose mission is to bring people together through the arts, creativity, and humor. She is Editor of the NY arts and culture blog Creative Times.

To contact Eleanor:   ETraubman{at}gmail{dot}com

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


If you haven't already, go pick yourself up a copy of Roots drummer Ahmir (aka Questlove) Thompson's Mo 'Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove. The stories of how he met KISS and Prince alone are worth the cost of admission.

Music is the prism through which Questlove fashions his life and through which he remembers precise moments in his personal history.  

So, in the spirit of Mo 'Meta and its author, I'm sharing some of my own music memories, mostly ones I shared with my younger brother, Adam.   I treasure these memories and am grateful I had such an awesome partner in crime to experience the music with!

 PS - Feel free to use the comments section to drop a few memories of your own.

1. All Night Dancing
Remember that song "Funkytown" by Lipps, Inc.? They had this other song called "All Night Dancing" which went on for almost EIGHT minutes.  One night, when I was about 10, my best friend and her parents came over for dinner.  My parents had this huge, old school slide projector and slide/movie screen set up in the livingroom, probably because we were showing our guests slides from a vacation.

While the adults stayed at the table to chat, my best friend,  my little brother and I peeled off and choreographed this awesome dance to "All Night Dancing."  We turned off the lights and moved in front of the slide projector so our dancing shadows showed up on the slide screen. (Very early MTV, no?) To accompany the sparkly disco lead-in sound, we rolled silver tinfoil into little balls and tossed them in the air as we danced around.  I think my mom had to pick them out of our olive shag carpet. 

Anyway, I am still proud of that dance we made up!!

2.  Breakin'/Beat Street
My mom let my brother and I go in to see Breakin' by ourselves.  I was super excited to wear these hightops I had found.  They were made of this sparkly rainbow weave fabric. I remember people in theater commenting on the shoes.  I LOVED them! My brother and I pretty much went wild for this part in the film where Turbo (played by Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers) danced in a way that makes it look like he brought a broom to life. 

After we saw Beat Street, we got the soundtrack on cassette and memorized the words to stuff like The Treacherous Three's "Santa's Rap." 

3.  Willie Style
How my parents would start out  our family road trips out was by doing this:  Once we hit the highway, they'd  put a  Willie Nelson CD (or was it a cassette?) in the music system of our van, roll down the windows, and crank up the song "On the Road Again" to FULL VOLUME.  My brother and I were so embarrassed that we would hide down on the floor.  (Secretly, I loved this song!)

4.  It's Still Rock and Roll to Me

Billy Joel was big in our lives.  I remember getting Glass Houses and listening to the first side of the record, like, 50 times before we even flipped over to Side B.  

5.  Rollerskating Routines  
I'd find a bunch of extension cords, plug them together, and bring the radio all the way out to the driveway so I could make up rollerskating routines to songs.  So proud of the yellow and orange suede Adidas roller skates I found and the yarn pom-poms I made for them. (I think my brother got a pair, too?) Favorite rollerskating outfit:  Jungle print shorts, leotard, purple sparkly legwarmers my brother gave me, and, of course, the Adidas skates.

6.  Etc.

Other stuff we listened to on albums:

    1. Bob McGrath Sings for All the Boys and Girls
    2. Star Wars soundtrack 
    3. Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack
    4. A Christian album my mom bought from a door-to-door salesman with lots of morality tales built into the songs 
    5. The Perry Como Christmas Album
    6. "Nadia's Theme" (originally written for the film Bless the Beasts and the Children, it was also the theme song for the soap opera "The Young and The Restless") 
    7. Christmas with the Chipmunks 
    8. Rocky soundtrack
    9. Free to Be You and Me - Marlo Thomas
    10. The Limeliters - Through Children's Eyes
    11. Various John Denver Albums
    12. Up With People
    13. Viva Mariachi

    Tuesday, July 09, 2013


    Was just taking a walk down memory lane and came across one of my favorite bits from Beat Street. Anyone else remember this scene?

    Monday, July 08, 2013


    After backing it as Kickstarter project, I was so psyched to get my own copy of Furious Beauty, a film about the dance company Versa-Style.  (See my post about the film HERE.)

    I was so moved by the film that, after watching it, I thought "I should really call the director and tell him how amazing this is!"  I didn't know how to reach him, so I sent this tweet:

    Eleanor Traubman @creativetimes
    Just watched and was blown away by @furious_beauty, the documentary about Versa-Style dance company
    So deeply moved!
     04:58 PM - 18 Jun 13

    A day or two later, I received a friendly email from Calvin Leung, Director of Furious Beauty, letting me know he would be in NYC that weekend to screen his film. Talk about good karma!
    During their visit to The Big Apple, I met up with Calvin and also with dancer Daniel Norwood - aka DSoul - to talk about dance, community, and a whole lot more. 

    Calvin on Dance

    Calvin observes that the dance community, built around the greater good and not just around the individual, has a sort of surrogate family structure that involves lots of mentorship. "To create a family structure," he shared, "you have to make a conscious to look after someone.  Our culture is propagated by sharing it with more people on a one-to-one basis."

    Calvin also speaks to the creative aspect of dance, noting that, like other art forms, it's "interpersonal" and "can cut through our analytical side, which is important in an increasingly digital world."

    Daniel on Dance

    Daniel, who has been dancing for 3 and a half years, is grateful to the people and classes at Homeland (a neighborhood cultural center in Long Beach) who helped him "get past a barrier of feeling awkward, [of] being the white boy who couldn't dance." In dance, he is constantly challenged to expand his comfort zone. When he first started dancing, peers at Daniel's college thought that what he was doing was strange.  His mom, however, was supportive.  And one of the things working in his favor was his familiarity with discipline: Daniel had a history of being a competitive golfer."

    Notes Daniel about dance "It brings us all to the moment; unites us in the moment; connects us to the people around us; connects us with ourselves and with the music.

    Dance on Film

    Toward the end of our time together, I ask Calvin and Daniel about what dance films inspired them
    Daniel appreciated RIZE, a movie about some of the original Krumpers, for the freestyle and non-repetitive aspect of the movements.  Calvin, as someone who makes dance films, noted Dirty Dancing for the way the dancers conveyed affection through their hands.  He also treasures mime Robert Shields' Celebration of Imagination, sharing that  "Shields does what I want to do as a dancer, which is to own the moment."

    Friday, July 05, 2013


    Last year, I supported a couple of dance-based Kickstarter Projects.  One was the Ladies of Hip-Hop Festival, the other was Furious BeautyFurious Beauty is a film created by Calving Leung about the non-profit hip hop dance company and organization, Versa-Style.

    It took me a while to sit down the with Kickstarter copy of the movie which Calvin sent to me in the mail.  And when I finally did watch it a few weeks ago, I was totally blown away by it.

    In Furious Beauty, Calvin documents the history of the dance company Versa-Style, as well as the stories of its individual members.  One of the compelling aspects of this film is the way it follows the evolution of a dance pieceabout the fears of each of the dancers and the way they help each other face these fears.

    Given the heavy conditioning that men get hit with to not show fear or really any kind of vulnerability, t was especially interesting to see how the men of Versa-Style came together to talk openly about their fears and then create a dance out of those conversations and feelings.

    The other thing about this film that left a big impression with me was how fiercely its leaders, Jackie Lopez (aka Miss Funk) and Leigh Foaad (aka Breeze-lee), mentor the members of Versa-Style, helping both the individuals and the group to move forward together not just as performers but as people with all kinds of strengths and struggles.

    If you are an actor, dancer, choreographer, educator, leader of a nonprofit, or any kind of arts administrator, I highly recommend this film.   More info about it can be found HERE.

    Here's how Versa-Style describes who they are:

    Versa Style is a dance ensemble that consists of young, committed and conscientious artists representing the diversity and beautiful complexity of Los Angeles.

    We create highly energetic work that fuses dances that are culturally significant to our community. These forms include Hip-Hop styles such as 90s Hip-Hop, House, Popping, Locking, Whacking and Boogaloo, and Afro- Latin styles such as Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia and Afro-Cuban to name a few. As a reaction to the widespread media misrepresentation of these dance forms, Versa-Style specifically aims to perform for the youth of Los Angeles to instill the roots, history, and social and political issues surrounding the art of our generation.

    Hip-Hop breaks color lines by creating a forum where people come together for a common passion rather than grouping themselves by race or socio-economic backgrounds. Versa-Style demonstrates freedom of expression, freedom of individuality, hard work, self-discipline and dedication to the form.

    Monday, July 01, 2013


    Gowanus Gatsby, a Flapper Fête

    Friends of Douglass Greene Park to present a Brooklyn in the 20s themed
    soiree & awards dinner on October 5, 2013

    Brooklyn, New York -- On Saturday, October 5, 2013, the Friends of Douglass Greene Park will host the Gowanus Gatsby, a Flapper Fête fundraising benefit and its first-ever awards dinner. To be held at the Gowanus Ballroom alongside the canal, it will include celebrity hosts, a buffet dinner with open bar, an awards reception with live entertainment, dance instruction, a dance party with live DJs, aerial performers, slide shows of Brooklyn in the 20s and of Douglass Greene Park and its surroundings. There will be costume and dance competitions, and other activities reminiscent of the roaring twenties. Brooklyn Boulders and Homage Brooklyn will have climbing and skateboarding demo areas on ground floor. Don’t miss out on this historic and fun-filled hipster meets Gatsby event!

    The benefit will celebrate the completion of Phase 1 of the park’s renovation on its Third Avenue side and highlight the ongoing development of this vital and multi-faceted public park located on a full city block between 3rd Avenue and Nevins Street, and Douglass and DeGraw Streets in Gowanus.

    The Douglass Greene Park is used by hundreds of families living in Gowanus, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Cobble Hill. Just a few blocks from the new Barclays Center – the park has a skate area, a children’s playground with a water feature, picnic tables, the popular “Double D” pool, free swimming lessons, basketball courts; and is a cooling center and hosts a free lunch program during the summer.

    The Friends of Douglass Greene Park, a 501(c)(3) organization, works with community and business partners to enhance the quality of life in the area through programming & special activities for all ages, creates much needed green space, works with the NYC Parks Department to assure completion of the park’s renovation, was successful in its appeal to the NYC Council in 2010 to restore funds to keep the park’s “DD Pool” open, and advocates for the renovation and accessibility of the pool.

    The following persons will be present to receive awards for their enormous efforts on behalf of Douglass Greene Park:  Honorees: Bill de Blasio (NYC Public Advocate & former Councilmember District 39/to be confirmed), Brooklyn Boulders/Lance Pinn, Building on Bond/John Kole, Jared Lewis & Phil Morgan, Homage Brooklyn/Michelle Sauer and Jose Portes, Stephen Levin (NYC Councilmember District 33), Joan L. Millman (NYS Assemblywoman 52nd Assembly District), Charlene Nimmons (President of Wyckoff Gardens Resident Association), Sue Wolfe (President of Friends of Douglass Greene Park & former President of Boerum Hill Association), David Yassky (NYC Taxi & Limousine Commissioner & former Councilmember District 33)  and Recognition: Martin Maher (Chief of Staff for Brooklyn/NYC Parks & Recreation), Marty Markowitz (Brooklyn Borough President),  Jo Anne Simon (founding member of Friends of Douglass Greene Park & Democratic District Leader and State Committeewoman for the 52nd Assembly District) and Gowanus Ballroom/Josh Young.

    (Lists in formation) Sponsorship: Boerum Hill Association, Brooklyn Boulders, and Homage Brooklyn; Blues/Jazz: Vocalist Riva Nyri Précil and jazz band; Aerial Performer: Melissa Canella; DJs include: Sharon Taylor; Creative Director: Artist/animator Mac Premo; Producer/Communications: Michelle Karshan; Host: Friends of Douglass Greene Park.

    Please support the Friends of Douglass Greene Park -- and your community -- by making a donation, purchasing tickets, or becoming a corporate sponsor for this event.  

    Choose your tickets to the awards buffet dinner with live music: Champagne Fountain, Jazz FanatiqueFlapper Femme Fatale, Art Deco DaisyTassle Necklace PearlsThe Green Light or the Gowanus Grinder tickets for the dance party only!

    For more info and to purchase tickets go to

    For more information on the work and current activities of the Friends of Douglass Greene Park, go to

    Interested in becoming a Corporate Sponsor of the Gowanus Gatsby event? Please contact Michelle Karshan at

    Editors: For further information or images, please contact Michelle Karshan at or by telephoning 917-853-0433

    Find us on Facebook at Friends of Douglass Greene Park

    Wednesday, June 26, 2013


    Fow a while now, I've been following Questlove, drummer for The Roots, on Twitter.  Read a whole bunch of interviews with him, too. He has this really nice combo of humor and a serious ability to reflect on and analyze music and its relationship to everything else in life.

    In addition to catching him on his nightly gig with The Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, I've seen him live twice.  The first time, he was a panelist at the premier screening of the VHI rock doc Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America (see my post on it HERE).  Given the huge role that Soul Train played in his own life, Ahmir made for a fantastic presenter at this Paley Center event.

    The second time I saw - and briefly met - Ahmir was last week at an event to promote his new book Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove.  At Powerhouse Books in Dumbo, Ahmir answered questions posed by both his co-author Ben Greenman and by audience members.

    Questlove first shared his reluctance to write the book. "I thought my story would be boring, " he stated.  [Wait.  What??!! ] He continued:  "My life has not been mired in the narrative of drugs and violence where I was saved by music."  

    He also expanded upon his reputation for having an incredible musical memory, one where he refers to particular songs to recall moments in his own personal history.  The first time he heard guitarist Bill Withers, at age 2, is when he cut his left hand pretending to play a glass guitar-shaped ashtray.

    As the son of a singer, Ahmir grew up steeped in music.  His parents pretty much eliminated television in order to make room for music.  His childhood home contained a 5000+ record collection, one which reflected the particular tastes of each member of the family.

    Questlove remembers 1996 as being a turning point in the life of Hip Hop.  "It's when Adam and Eve bit into the Apple: Hip Hop discovered consumer culture."

    Here's an abbreviated, paraphrased recap of  the audience Q and A portion of the evening:

    Q:  What are you listening to now?

    A: Comedy records, including Tig Notaro. 

    Q:  Who would be part of your dream music collaboration?

    A:  Bill Withers.

    Q:  What do you think of Kanye West's new album, Yeezus.

    A: You have to listen to live with an album for a month before you pass judgement on it.

    Q: What do you hope to have written four years from now?

    A: I am writing a book about Soul Train.

    Q:  How do you have time to do everything you do?  [Ed Note: In addition to being a drummer, Ahmir is a DJ, music journalist, record producer, and joint frontman for the The Roots, which is the in-house band for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.}

    A: I will answer this question in 10 words or less:


    Post Script: The day after the PowerHouse event, Ahmir tweeted: "First day of summer. Sick. :( " and I tweeted back: "The world needs you well-rested, good man."

    I wanna see this guy live a good, long life.

    Photo Credit:


    On my first day as a volunteer docent at the stunning Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I had the pleasure of meeting the Garden's President Emeritus, Betty Scholtz.

    Bette, who has been with the BBG for 53 years, has her own office there and is still carrying on good and important work.

    While eating lunch together in the staff dining room, Bette told me wonderful stories of her history both at the BBG and as a resident of Brooklyn. 

    She's the kind of person I want to be both now and at her age:  sharp as a tack, vibrant, and totally dedicated to providing positive experiences for young people in the natural environment.

    When I went to take this photo of her during her coffee break, she raised her mug and brightly exclaimed "Cheers!"

    Here's some info the BBG shared about Bette on the 50th anniversary of her time there:

    On November 29, 2010, Elizabeth Scholtz, BBG's Director Emeritus, celebrated 50 years of outstanding service to the Garden. For half a century, Betty has been a vital resource for staff, volunteers, and visitors, who treasure her vast knowledge of horticulture and the good humor for which she is famed. Betty is a peerless ambassador and advocate for public gardens and horticultural education throughout the world. She has led over 100 botanical tour groups to 46 countries for BBG since 1966 and has mentored several generations of North American public garden professionals.

    Born in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1921, Betty received a Bachelor of Science in botany and zoology from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. After a distinguished career in medical research in Cape Town and Boston, she joined the staff of BBG in 1960 as head of Adult Education. She eventually became director of the Garden and also served as its first vice president. Under Betty’s watch, BBG weathered the city government’s bankruptcy, grew the Adult Education program from 1,100 over 4,000 students, and improved the Garden’s collections.

    Betty's unfailingly positive outlook on life, keen interest in people—especially in young people—and overarching love for gardens continue to inspire everyone she meets.

    Monday, May 06, 2013


    April 24th, 2013


    Urban Folk Art® Gallery will be honoring the 130th anniversary of the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge with a group show of over 30 local artists of varying mediums. In their fourth show of this type, artists will be showing their homages to the bridge with one common element. In February 2013, curator and contributing artist Adam Suerte acquired five 5 gallon buckets of surplus paint from the NY Department of Transit that was used to do touch ups on the Brooklyn Bridge ( Each artist in the group show will be using the
    “Chocolate Brown Enamel” in some way within their piece. Painters, comic artists, graphic designers, photographers, screen printers, tattooers, graffiti artists, toy designers and artists of other mediums will be contributing. Suerte, as one of his pieces has repackaged some of this paint in a limited edition quart size cans that will be for sale at the show. If you ever wanted to own a piece of the bridge, this could be considered pretty close.

    The show opens May 24th from 7-10 and will remain up until the end of June.

    Brooklyn Tattoo® has been operating in South Brooklyn for over 10 years, and the Urban Folk Art© collective was founded in 1991 and has been curating artshows for as long. The gallery was opened in January 2011, they exhibit various genres of work from contemporary painting, drawing, illustration, printmaking and photography, legendary graffiti artists to comic art. The gallery shows a range of undiscovered, emerging, and established artists. The collective’s belief is that the cross marketing of each other and the gallery as a whole as a mutually supportive resource is a valuable way for emerging artists to gain a wider audience for it’s members, the group, and the artists the gallery supports.

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013


    Olivier Tallec and Oliver Jeffers are both avid world travelers and authors whose bold and colorful children’s books are bestsellers in the US. Join them for an animated conversation at the New York Public Library, moderated by Pamela Paul, Children's Book Editor of the New York Times Book Review.

    Olivier Tallec’s books are as colorful as his travels. After graduating from the École Supérieure d'Art graphique in Paris, he worked as a graphic designer in advertising before devoting himself to illustration. His work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines and he has illustrated over 50 books for children, including Waterloo and Trafalgar (Enchanted Lion Books) and the well-known series ‘Rita and Whatsit’ (Chronicle Books). In 2010, Big Wolf & Little Wolf was chosen as a Batchelder Honor Book.

    Oliver Jeffers brings a strong sense of artistry and whimsy to his books. Originally from Northern Ireland, he graduated from the University of Ulster with a degree in Visual Communication. He is widely known for his picture books for children, including How to Catch a Star, The Great Paper Caper, and This Moose Belongs to Me (Philomel).  Lost and Found received the Blue Peter Book Award in 2006 and The Incredible Book Eating Boy was named Children’s Book of the Year at the 2007 Irish Book Awards.  He now lives and works in Brooklyn.

    Dates: May 1, 2013 | 6pm - 7pm
    Place: New York Public Library, Berger Forum
    Moderated by Pamela Paul

    This event is part of the series: Picture This! Conversations with illustrators from Paris and NY organized by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

    This event is presented in partnership with Enchanted Lion Books and the New York Public Library's series: Children's Literary Salon:Talks on Contemporary Children's Illustration.


     "Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, "Grow, grow." - The Talmud
    I recently went to see a 12-year-old friend of mine in her school production of the musical Bye-Bye Birdie.  It's a huge deal to be in a school show, especially a musical.  It takes months to learn all the songs, lines, and choreography.  I know it meant a lot to this young person that I was there to back her.  A whole posse was there to cheer her on,  and I know it made a big difference to her.  It takes a lot of courage to get up on that stage, and it feels good to know that folks are out in that audience rooting for you.

    I've also committed myself to going to the school show of my four-year-old friend Lucy.  She's the daughter of one of my best friends.  Lucy told me that her class will be singing Bob Marley songs for their end of the year performance.  They have been rehearsing for a long time.  I told her I would be there.  I was also there for her first dance recital. 

    Supporting the arts isn't just about going to Lincoln Center or BAM or Carnegie Hall.  It means hanging up young people's paintings and drawings front and center in your home or going to see their first dance or music recital.  It means listening appreciatively when they play the piano or sing around the house without worrying about how "good" they are.  Let them enjoy creating for creation's sake.

    I think a lot of young ones give up early on doing these things because they quickly pick up on the idea that you have to be "good" at that thing. The emphasis in our society is on performance instead of enjoyment of the process.

    When I was eight, my dance teacher let me choreograph my own piece for a recital and also come up with the idea for my costume.  I was going to be the sun in this dance, so my mom made a yellow satin leotard and then sewed red sequins in the shape of a sun on top of the satin.  She dyed my ballet shoes red and then secured long pieces of red ribbon to them so I could wrap the ribbons up my ankles.

    I will never forget the experience of having a dance teacher that trusted me enough to have me choreograph my own  piece and design my own costume.   It has always stayed with me that an adult backed me to follow my own mind and implement my creative vision for something.

    It's my aim to pay it forward by supporting the young people I know in their artistic endeavors simply by lending my attention to and complete appreciation for the intelligence and creativity they bring to the table.

    Who are you an arts angel to?  Who could you be an arts angel to?

    Monday, April 22, 2013


     I was munching on a homemade chocolate chip macaroon at neighborhood joint The Treats Truck  Stop, when a book sitting on the counter caught my eye.  It was called Bake Sale,  and on the cover was a live eggplant and a live cupcake putting frosting on cupcakes together. 

    Yes, that's right, the main characters of Bake Sale are an eggplant and a cupcake who are close friends.  The book is done in the style of a graphic novel, and at its outset we find Cupcake, the proprietor of The Sweet Tooth Bakery, getting ready to open his shop for the day. He opens for business, and in come some customers - a tomato and then a soda can.  Finally, his friend Eggplant comes to pick him up to go out for lunch and then to band practice.

    Through the friends' lunchtime conversation, it becomes known that Eggplant is saving up to visit his famous chef and cookbook author Aunt Augustine in Istanbul.  When Cupcake learns that Turkish Delight, the greatest pastry chef in the world, is Aunt Aubergine's business partner, he develops an interest in making the mecca to Istanbul with Eggplant.

    Dreaming of Turkish Delight, Cupcake starts to fall off his game.  He gets distracted at band practice, and loses his mojo as a bakery owner. Can he find his way back to his dreams? I'll let you read the book to find out the deets!

    Here's what I loved most about Bake Sale:
    • It's whimsical, but also has sweet and deep themes running through it
    • The illustrations are excellent
    • The main characters are food items, who sell food and go shopping for food and who take their pets to well-loved NY events such as Westminster Dog Show and Blessing of the Animals.  Unconventional pairings that work!
    • The illustrations and recipes reflect the time Sara took to research bakery life and baked goods
    • There are recipes you can actually use
    • It confirmed my hunch that cupcakes are not just something for us to consume; they too have important dreams and deep emotional lives
    For more information about author/illustrator Sara Varon, check out her site

    * The author's publicist sent me a copy of Bake Sale at my request, with no guarantee on my part of a positive review.

    Friday, April 12, 2013


    I never thought I'd be a user, much less a fan, of Twitter, but after a few trusted friends encouraged me to do so, I hopped on the bandwagon a little more than 3 years ago. 

    It's been a really great ride so far:  I've found work projects; forged connections that evolved into real-time friendships and collaborations; and discovered info about amazing arts and culture events in NY.  I'll never forget riding up to Asphalt Green to join hundreds of other New Yorkers welcome home Brooklyn Olympic medalist Lia Neal from London.  How did I find out about this awesome event? Through Twitter!

    Every single day, I feel like I've won the jackpot in terms of  the huge dose of inspiration I receive from seeing all the amazing things that people are doing and thinking about out there.

    I thank my fellow/sister Twitterers for this gift, and offer you some of my own thoughts about being a presence on Twitter:

    * Do treat Twitter like a cocktail party.  Don't spend the whole time talking about yourself.  Do shine the light on other people.  See what they've been up to; make connections between other guests at the party.  Follow Friday is a nice opportunity to do that.

    * Don't treat Twitter like a bullhorn.  It's fine to share your thoughts, projects, photos, etc.  But no one wants to be bombarded with constant announcements about you, your product, your service, your articles, etc.   

    * Do pick themes for Follow Friday. I'll do ones like "All Things Theater" and "Literary Delights".  It lends cohesiveness to your tweets, shows what you are committed to, and lets people who do similar types of things see and connect to each other.

    * Do show thanks or a friendly acknowledgement of some kind when you are mentioned in someone's Follow Friday tweet. 

    * Do have your Twitter account at the ready when you read magazines, newspapers, and online publications.  Every Thursday, when I read the NY Times arts, business, and style sections, I add interesting-sounding people mentioned in articles to my account and often give them a shout-out along the lines of "Enjoyed the piece about you in today's @NYTimes !  Congrats!"  Doing so has led to some great online and offline connections.

    * Don't be a clique-y tweeter; that is - don't just follow or send tweets to people in your world, whether it's the world of dance, politics, baseball, or sock monkey collecting.  Twitter is a great place to branch out, make new friends from all walks of life, and find out what people are doing in all corners of the earth. 

    * Do show appreciation for people and places that have moved, inspired, or served you well.  Recently, I tweeted a thanks to the people, a restaurant, and cultural institutions that helped make my parents' visit from CA to NY a special one.  People love to be spotlighted for what they do best.

    * Don't send a lot of cryptic tweets that come across as inside jokes or as messages designated for one or two people.  Doing so makes other guests at the Twitter party feel left out, annoyed, and confused.

    * Do write Tweets using a variety of tones - light and playful, funny, serious, thoughtful, spontaneous.

     *Don't be a "one-note" Tweeter.  For example: No one wants to read tweet after tweet with links to articles about how the world is going to hell in a hand basket.

    I hope you find these tips helpful.  What are your Twitter Tips?

    Friday, April 05, 2013


    “A BRAVURA PERFORMANCE!” – Chicago Tribune
    Tough as nails.
    Funny as hell.
    A new play starring HOLLAND TAYLOR
    SAVE OVER 30%
    $85 Orchestra & Loge (A-C) (reg. $125)
    Rear Loge (D-E) (reg. $75)
    Visit or call 212-239-6200 and use code ANNMKT1
    Or, bring this offer to Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater, 150 W. 65th St.

    Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun Noon-6pm 


    Tues 7pm, Wed 2pm & 8pm, 
Thurs 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 3pm
    This season, a true original comes to Broadway at Lincoln Center.
    ANN is a no-holds-barred portrait of Ann Richards, the legendary governor of Texas.
    This inspiring and hilarious new play brings us face to face with a complex, colorful and
    captivating character bigger than the state from which she hailed. Written and performed
    by Emmy® Award winner Holland Taylor (“Two and a Half Men”), ANN takes a revealing
    look at the impassioned woman who enriched the lives of her followers, friends and family.
    After playing throughout Texas to sold-out audiences, ANN went on to win critical acclaim
    both in Chicago and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. And now this extraordinary
    play comes to Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater in a production directed by
    Benjamin Endsley Klein (resident director of War Horse). Don’t miss this unforgettable
    performance that The New York Times has called, “frank, funny and warm. As Ann Richards,
    Holland Taylor is a FIERY DYNAMO.”
    *Offer valid for performances thru 6/9/13. Additional blackout dates may apply. Offer subject to availability and priorsale. All sales are final. No refunds or exchanges. Offer may be modified or revoked at any time without notice. Allphone and Internet offers subject to normal service charges. Offer available for select seats and performances. Limit 6 tickets per order.

    Wednesday, April 03, 2013


    Dear Ms. Taylor,

    I was totally blown away by Ann - the play about the late Texas Governor Ann Richards which you wrote and star in.  When I talk to friends who really know how to lean in and listen, and describe you and the story of the play to them, my eyes well up and so do theirs.  I'm no sap, but damn!  You do know how to move an audience!

    I first learned of your play while watching the CBS Sunday Morning News Show.  Within the first 30 seconds of viewing the segment, I knew I had to go see Ann.  It was the same gut feeling I had when I saw Eva Zeisel, then celebrating her 100th birthday, on this same show.  Ms. Zeisel was a world-class, Hungarian-born industrial designer best-known for her work with ceramics and her "playful search for beauty."  Falsely accused of trying to assassinate Stalin (!), she survived 16 months of solitary confinement in prison.  Ms. Zeisel also narrowly escaped the Nazis. 

    When I saw the piece about Ms. Zeisel, and then learned she lived not far away from me, I knew I had to meet her in person.  What an amazing experience it was to visit with her shortly after she turned 100.

    Like Ms. Zeisel, the Ann you portray was a strong and creative risk-taker, with a fighting spirit and an awesome sense of humor.  So when I saw the CBS news segment, there was that deja vu feeling of "I've got to go and see this person."  And so, last week, I journeyed from Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn to Lincoln Center in Manhattan to see Ann.

    Here's why I think you and your play are important now:

    * It's pretty common knowledge that roles for women in Hollywood, especially after a certain age, are limited.  As you said on the CBS segment, you've played your share of moms.  I'm glad you took things into your own hands and wrote a role that would allow you to portray a whip-smart, gutsy female who pushed past restrictions placed on women in order to step out big time into the public sphere.  You show that we women have to literally write the roles we want to play in this world.  Thank you for that!

    * There is a particular way that females get targeted when they venture way out into the public sphere and take a stand on important issues. The attacks are often personal and vicious. (Just ask Hillary Clinton!)  I appreciate that you came forward to depict a woman who dared to step out, speak her mind, and act on her principles.  
    Here's what I loved about your depiction of Ann Richards:

    *  You showed the way Ann  brought her working class sensibilities into her job as a politician - specifically, her straight-forwardness, integrity, lack of pretense, and unwillingness to sell out on her values.   

    * You caught the nuances of Ann Richards without affect or over-acting.

    * I mostly forgot that I was at a play.  I generally felt like I was hanging out with Ann Richards in her office. 

    *  You depict Ann's simultaneous affection for but lack of deference to Bill Clinton when he was in office as President - e.g. the joke she tells him about Arkansas on the phone right before hanging up on him. Brilliant! (And the audience laughed hard here!) By the way, I saw that picture you posted on Twitter of President Clinton wiping tears from his face upon seeing you after he saw the performance.  That picture spoke volumes about the power of your play.

    * You refer to Ann's relationship with Congresswoman and  Senator Barbara Jordan and the Lady Longhorn basketball games they went to together.

    Thoughts on Your Play, Going Forward 

    Ms. Taylor, I hope that lots more people go see your play during its run.  I hope that people of different ages and incomes and races get to go and see it.  It offers hope, inspiration, and a reminder that it's possible for all of us to have big lives while holding our families and friends close to our hearts.   

    It is also my wish that I have the honor of meeting you in person before the show's run has ended.  That would be the gift of all gifts.

    Thanks for taking your vision and making it into a reality.  Both your play and your personal life have had huge ripple effects, and will continue to do so.

    Ms. Taylor:  Like Ann Richards, you are a rolling stone that gathers no moss.  Like Ms. Richards, you kick the a** of sexism and other injustices, and take no prisoners.

    Keep up the good work, Ms. Taylor, as Ann looks down and smiles.

    With Appreciation,

    Eleanor Traubman
    Editor, Creative Times