Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I recently journeyed to The 92YTribeca, an offshoot of the 92nd Street Y, to see Person Place Thing Live! With Rachel Dratch and Andy Cohen.  As the Y explains:

The concept behind Randy Cohen’s public radio series Person Place Thing is simple: he invites notable figures from all genres and backgrounds to discuss one person, one place and one thing about which they feel passionately.  Since people often reveal themselves most intimately when they speak not directly about themselves but about something important to them, PPT goes a step further than the traditional one-on-one interview.

I was really excited to see Rachel Dratch, who played characters such as Debbie Downer and Allie McBeal during her 7-year run as a cast member of Saturday Night Live.

I was also really curious to learn more about the woman who left SNL in order to join the cast of 30 Rock, and then was replaced by another actress on 30 Rock.  She had also been snubbed by Vanity Fair when they excluded her from "Women in Comedy" cover story that showcased Rachel's close friends like Tina Fey, Poehler, Kristen Wiig, and Maya Rudolph.

A lot of comedians have a kind of hard-edge, defensive, "always-on" quality which Rachel did not have. She had a low-key sweetness about her that was kind of refreshing. 

For her PERSON, Rachel talked about Muffin, the dog that her family had when she was a child.

For her PLACE, Rachel chose to describe the old-timey ale house where she would hang out in Chicago while "trying out the improv thing" during her 20s.  The improv community became her whole social life.  Says Rachel of her peers at that time "We bonded through the terror of improv."

For her THING, Rachel held up a special cookbook that her mom made for her.  Each recipe connected to a Saturday Night Live sketch Rachel had performed in.  For example, there was a "Debbie's Pineapple Upside Downer Cake." (Rachel is famous for her Debbie Downer sketches.) 

During the Q and A portion of the evening, I asked Rachel what it was like -- both good and challenging -- to be a woman in comedy.  She said she was of two minds about this topic. On the one hand, she was happy to have had a long run on SNL and  grateful for the other women of SNL who had paved the way for her to be on the show.  On the other hand, Rachel expressed how acutely aware she was of  the lack of good roles in Hollywood for women comics.

If you read Rachel's book, Girl Walks Into a Bar, you gain a pretty sharp picture of the harshness of the sexism toward women in Hollywood which Rachel alluded to in her answer to my question at the Tribeca Y event.

When the book opens, we find Rachel at home, after having been replaced by Jane Krakowski on 30 RockRachel  is getting phone call after call from her agent for parts for explicitly "unattractive" and bizarre women. (I use this word in quotations since attractiveness is a construct.)  

Comedy, especially sketch comedy, is supposed to be about any person, regardless of their physical appearance, being able to play any character at all.  But because of how rigid Hollywood is about the physical appearance and the age of the females they cast,  we lose out on awesome talent like Rachel Dratch.  This is a huge bummer.  

If you want to see what Rachel is up to these days, go HERE

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Today, a link to a UTube video from The Center for Puppetry Arts showed up on my Twitter Feed.   The video shows a wonderful interaction between Fred Rogers and a 12-year-old breakdancer.

The exchange is reflective of the sincere respect for young people which Fred Rogers demonstrated toward the young people who appeared on his show and who constituted his television audience.

Fred Rogers, who would have turned 85 yesterday,  was not just a guy who routinely changed his sweater and tennis shoes on a children's television show.  With a bit of research you'll find that he was a quietly powerful man with deeply-held convictions who was a passionate advocate for young people.  For example:

  • He gave a famous testimony to a U.S. Senate committee to request government funding for children's television.
  • He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in addition to forty honorary degrees and a Peabody Award.
  • He was inducted into the Television Hall of fame, and was recognized by two Congressional resolutions.  (Source: Wikipedia)
Also - and this is heartening - there is a Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media at St. Vincent College.  The Center's mission is "to advance the fields of early learning and children’s media by acting as a catalyst for communication, collaboration, and creative change."  Take a look at their moving online exhibit about Fred's life and work.

Monday, March 11, 2013


I generally read the Thursday and Sunday editions of the NY Times with my Twitter account at the ready.  I see this reading time as an opportunity to research, follow, and sometimes contact the people in the arts, business, and style sections whose work catches my interest.

One such interaction led to a friendship with an inspiring graffiti artist named Miles Wickham.

I first learned about Miles, also known at The Reskew, in a NY Times article about artists and models who also work as cater waiters. Intrigued by the mention of Miles being a graffiti artist and actor, I reached out to him via Twitter and eventually met him in person in the lounge of Brooklyn's Nu Hotel at a small gathering of artists I organized last summer.

An interesting part of Miles' story is that he has created a series of video graffiti tutorials, mainly aimed at young people. Through personal notes written to him by parents of the children who have watched and learned from the videos, Miles has learned what a difference these tutorials are making in their young lives.

Read on for more about The Reskew in his own words:
CT:  How did you get interested in doing graffiti art?  Were there any early sources of inspiration for this particular kind of art?

MW: I got into graffiti in 2000, when I started going to high school in Brooklyn. I saw a guy in gym class tagging some padded mats, and went to check out what he was doing. I vaguely remember him encouraging me to try it out.

 When i figured out what it was about - cool forms of self expression and identity and recognition -I got interested. I think the possibility of friendship lured me in first, then noticing that others were doing it.  Impressed with the styles, and the feeling of the tags, I became hooked.

When I lived in Italy from ages two to seven, I watched trains pass from our 5th floor apartment and would see colors which stood out from the usual orange/tan pattern of all the cars.  I wondered why there were these random colors. Now I know they were graffiti.  Something about the rebellious feeling of the "flow" of the letters and tags of other people made me want to learn all about the art.

CT:  Do you feel like you have or are part of a community of other grafitti artists?  If so, what role do those people play in your life?

MW:  When I was a street tagger,  I was part of the huge underground community of taggers. They served as my driving force to continue my pursuit as a tagger and an artist. They motivated me to refine my skills and talent.

 Basically, I wanted to make a good impression on them. As much as graffiti writers claim they are such rebels that they don't give a crap about what others think, graffiti tends to be heavily based on what others think. Why would we all get so offended by "disrespect" if we didn't care? Why would we be so angry at the world/system/society?

Now that I am many years sober of the criminal/vandal aspect, I am in contact with very few taggers. The ones I am in touch with are the ones who have had a bigger impact on my life than the general community of taggers. Also, I am a big part of the community of young grafitti writers, worldwide, through my YouTube tutorials. I like to be a positive inspiration and example to them. I feel much gratitude in knowing that I inspire them.

CT: What words of advice do you have for people, especially young people, who are interested in learning graffiti?

MW:   First, I believe we all have creative abilities, and we need to discover and refine them. Some of us grew up without the proper support to know this about ourselves. Remember that graffiti, like all other skills, take LOTS of experience, lots of hours of practice, to refine to a level to where you know you are good. There can and probably will be LOTS of frustration and disappointment on the path. Don't give up on yourself. Remind yourself that it just takes time and dedication. Try to practice every day. And take this knowledge with you if you transfer to any other creative pursuit: every reward takes lots of dedication.

Also, if you're into graffiti, and you're into tagging, being a rebel, breaking the law, etc., nobody's going to stop you in your tracks except for yourself.   Just remember, you're choosing to take actions that have certain  potential consequences. And if you have such an urge, may I suggest doing it for the sake of beautifying ugly, uncared- for things.  Don't tag someone's brand new delivery van, or a freshly painted wall in a nice neighborhood. The principle I now live by is "Treat others as I'd like to be treated".

CT:   What kind of feedback have you received from both young people and their parents about your video tutorials?  Any specific stories about that that you want to share?

MW:  I have received amazing feedback. The feedback that I love getting (and i get lots of it!) is that my tutorials are the most helpful out there,and  that people actually feel inspired, supported and optimistic because of my approach to sharing my knowledge. Many claim they have suddenly improved exponentially because of my videos. Some say they have been doing it a while and that my tutorials  opened their eyes in a new way.

One great story is about a younger guy from a small town in Alabama. He asked how I get to paint legal murals in the street. There was definitely no 5 Pointz - type of legal graffiti wall in his town. I told him go around and ask permission from building owners, which did not work out for him. He asked about abandoned buildings, and since I told him its technically still vandalism to paint on them, he took an easel and a board to the building to paint on, just to have an outdoor space. He told me he got his materials confiscated by the police. He kept reporting back to me through YouTube comments, telling me his journey to figure out how to do this.  I  kept encouraging him, telling him that where there's a will there's a way.  He said that even the police officer gave him some suggestions, and returned the materials to him. He finally came to me with great news and gratitude months later. According to him, it was through my encouragement that he persisted enough to get approved, by the city, to zone this space as the city's legal graffiti wall!

I also received  two emails from a mom of a teenager in Toronto, Canada.  The essence of the email is that my video graffiti tutorials had had a huge impact on her teenage son.  She was grateful to me for being a role model

CT:  What have been some of your recent projects and what are you working on right now?

MW:  I've been working on my Alphabet Series for almost a year now, putting hours in at The Brooklyn Workshop Gallery.   I also recently worked on 19 murals at 55 Hope Street, a new condo building in Williamsburg. They are all colorful abstract pieces. The last two pieces are a culmination of many years of experimenting and mixing styles and techniques.

CT:  What are some of your dreams for yourself in the coming year or two?  What would be a dream come true for you?

MW:  I dream of having a huge studio space in NYC in which I make the  large pieces that I LOVE making.
I dream of  selling to collectors who share my joy and excitement about my work. My dream come true is for the work that I love most to get exposed to the masses, so that as many people as possible can have the chance to see and connect with it.

CT:  What are some of your interests/loves/pursuits in addition to making graffiti art?

MW:  I love the arts. I enjoy acting, martial arts, dancing, playing classical piano, drumming.  I also love    surfing and snowboarding. I have learned Wing-Chun Kung Fu, and am currently in my 3rd year of Daito-Ryu Aiki Jujutsu, which is an ancient form of Jujutsu, a very refined and disciplined martial art and  the predecessor to Aikido.

 It fascinates me to explore and experience the human body's dynamics and energy in relation to itself and in contact with the elements and other people. All these things I am interested in seem to be, in essence, like some form of dance. The ultimate experience in all of them is to be fully connected with yourself and your tools, canvas, surroundings, etc. - physically, emotionally, mentally, energetically, and spiritually.

More about Miles:   http://about.me/mileswickham

Friday, March 08, 2013


I could tell from the get-go that Jonathan Schnapp knew about fun. When I first met him at a party in the backyard of By Brooklyn last summer, he was rocking t 70s-style jumpsuit.  We got to talking and he told me and a few other folks that he was planting the seeds to build a state of the art shuffle board club in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn.  So I leaned in to hear the story behind this idea.

Schnapp grew up in Mamaroneck, and every winter his folks would pack up and take their family to Florida to see the grandparents in Century Village.   There, Jonathan would hang out at the pool and play shuffleboard with the elder folk.  "There were shuffleboard courts for as far as the eye could see," he recalls. 

As an adult, Jonathan returned to Florida with friend Ashley Albert to serve as a judge in a BBQ competition.   While there, they found the Mirror Lake Shuffelboard Club in Saint Petersburg.  Friday night was all about the "St. Pete's Shuffle," where people of all ages would gather under the stars to play the game together.

It was through this magical experience at St. Pete's that Jonathan and Ashley decided to open up their own shuffleboard joint  in Brooklyn.   They spoke with Jim Allen, the owner of the country's biggest shuffleboard supply company.  Seeing the possibilities for Jonathan and Ashley to help create the new face of shuffleboard, he offered to outfit them with all the game-related equipment they needed to launch their business in New York.

At this very moment, Jonathan and Ashley are poised to begin construction on Royal Palms, a dream-becoming-reality on Union Street between 3rd and Nevins Streets.  I recently visited them there in what is now a large, open, vacant space.  They graciously served me a seasonal sample of Boylan Soda's seasonal Shirley Temple flavor as I learned about co-owner Ashley's multi-faceted career as a voice-over artist; leader of The Jimmies, a popular children's rock ban; and founder of a company that makes Twitter necklaces.

Ashley and Jonathan are excited about the possibilities for intergenerational interaction that Royal Palms offers.  Already, they are working with the Good Sheppard after school program to partner children with elderly adults from the neighborhood for a monthly shuffleboard tournament.

They are also working hard to stay on a conservative budget so they can keep the experience affordable for all who come in the door.

Jonathan makes is clear that his is a club that respects the actual sport; the aim is not to be ironic.  The courts will be tournament-quality.

I am personally excited to have this project in the neighborhood.  It takes a lot of smarts to operate a social club that pulls in and is appropriate for folks of all ages and I think this one dynamic duo that can pull it off.


Graffiti artist Miles Wickham - aka The Reskew - recently completed this wall mural for the 55 Hope Street condos in Brooklyn, NY.    So gorgeous!  Told him I want a poster or a print of this!

Stay tuned for a Creative Times Q and A with Miles................

Sunday, March 03, 2013


Hello, Creative Times Reader!

Do you know of an organization or business that could use a hand expanding, connecting to, and engaging with its community of patrons / customers / clients / readers?

Look no further!

A seasoned arts and culture writer, promoter, educator, and community-builder, I bring to the table a carefully-crafted network of nonprofit organizations, small business owners, civic leaders, artists and art organizations built over 20 years of living in New York City. As a Brooklyn-based blogger and one of the organizers of The Brooklyn Blogfest, I also have a deep knowledge of and connection to many arts and education organizations in the borough.

I am currently available to lend my areas of expertise to a Brooklyn-based project, business, or organization on a part-time basis. If you know of a potential partner within your professional or social network who would benefit from my services, I'd be grateful for an introduction.

Sample Work Projects
* Collaborated with team of 25 organizers to plan and oversee GO, a historic borough-wide open studio weekend designed to foster personal exchange between 1700 Brooklyn artists, their communities, and The Brooklyn Museum. Resulted in 147,000 studio visits in a single weekend.

* Conducted Twitter campaign and created mascot for 8th Annual Ladies of Hip Hop Festival to increase reach within New York and national dance communities

* Conceptualized and Co-produced The Brooklyn Blogfest, an annual event for 300 bloggers, journalists, and community leaders. Recruited and managed 30-person volunteer staff. Organized monthly, neighborhood-based gatherings of Brooklyn bloggers.

* Consult with Bank Street College of Education to use social and new media platforms to publicize alumni events; galvanize alumni activity on LinkedIn group and Twitter accounts; and strategize content areas and recruitment of writers for alumni blog.

* Consulted with Jim Henson Legacy to improve aesthetics, usability, and interactivity of their website.

* Founded and publish Creative Times, an eight-year-old blog which highlights New York's literary, performing, and visual artists, organizations, and venues. Use social networking platforms to successfully promote launches, premiers, and special events of New York’s performing, visual, and literary arts and culture scene.

* Co-founded and lead Creative Conversations, a women’s monthly goal-setting group for visual artists and writers who wish to stay on the edge of creative and professional growth.

* Managed PlayNet, a grant-funded project at The Brooklyn Children’s Museum designed to increase educators’, parents’, and caretakers’ understanding of play and capacity to facilitate play with children.

M.S., Education; Bank Street College of Education; NY; 1995
B.A., Women, Community and Social Change; Trinity College; CT; 1991

Sample Blog Posts

How to Contact Me