Influence: Emily XYZ

Artists, writers, everyone who just wants their minds blown today--the key is the right state of mind.  Try reciting this poem, "Electric Magistrate,"  by the amazing Emily XYZ.  Stand up.  Sometimes I recite this poem to myself while I walk the dogs.  It's pure courage.  

Emily has been a big influence on me since I first heard her perform with Myers Bartlett in a little gallery in SoHo, sometime in the early 1990's.  She writes about money.  Until I heard the poem below, "Matt Kahn's Email," which still gives me the chills, I hadn't realized how poetic (and important!) a meditation on money can be.  Now it is one of my favorite subjects.  And not because "more is better than less."

And while we're on the subject of money poems, here's a classic, "Cash."  Enjoy!

Research Materials: Artists in the Towers

My new novella, The Beginning of the End of the Beginning, has a scene in an artist's studio at the top of the Twin Towers, and some have asked me if they really had artist spaces up there. They did.  The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council had two residency programs in unused office spaces.  

One of my inspirations was Stephen Vitiello, a sound artist whose work I found on the web.  He used contact mics on the windows of his 91st floor studio to record the vibrations of the building and the wind.  I found it easy to picture him, at night, next to his windows, in solitude, looking down at the small buildings, listening to the big one.  Here is a sample, from a 2011 Studio 360 broadcast:

I will speak more on WTC artists in future posts.

The Sublime Meeting the Sublime

For your inspiration.  Two of my favorite souls interview each other for the BBC

Patti Smith:  "What's more horrifying than normalcy?"

David Lynch: "I would like to bite my paintings."

What I love about both artists is their focus, their independence, and their originality, which seems to emerge from a shamanistic approach to art.  Says wise Patti, "We don't want any answers.  We don't need them.  We just need to do our work."


Welcome! Audiobooks I Dig (Read by the Author!)

Since the rest of my website seems to think it is all about me, the blog is going to be about everybody else: the books, recordings, podcasts, videos, music, and works of art by others that inspire me and make me love the world.

Ever feel like you need to choose between writing/reading and exercise?  I'm not big on reading books on the treadmill, so I go with audiobooks and walking outdoors.  Also great for subway rides (no need to don my reading glasses!) , long drives, plane rides (no motion sickness!), gardening, and housework.

Lately I have been listening to writers reading their own works, and found a handful of real beauties.  I hereby recommend:

Bark, by Lorrie Moore.  Her speaking voice has a honey quality that you don't quite get on the page, and adds a vulnerability to her wit.  It's worth a listen even if you have already read this classic collection.  I love how her narrative voice has matured.  The wit is more than a trick.  It pokes deep.

Tenth of December, by George Saunders.  I can't get enough of that Great Lakes accent.  This book is an historic event, and it's great to hear the words in his voice, with the tonal nuance of the author.  The voicey voicey Saunders touches--missing articles, equals signs, etc.--sound completely natural.  My favorite story: "Escape from Spiderhead."  Yours?

Townie, by Andre Dubus III.  Dude is famous for the empathy he has for his fictional characters, so what happens when he turns that empathy on himself?  It's a remarkable feat in memoir.  A meditation on violence unlike any I've seen.  And the voices!  New England and Old England accents included.  He's a performer.

Queen of America, by Luis Alberto Urrea.  Talk about performers!  This audiobook is the next best thing to hearing him read (or, more likely recite) his fiction live.  All the mysticism and feisty dialogue you would expect.  Any other actor would be a cheap imitation.

Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain.  If you're a fan of his TV shows, here's a great place to hear where it all started, with weird childhood European cuisine experiences, entry level kitchen jobs, and all the bravado you would expect.  Excellent road trip listen; makes the miles fly by.