Laurie Anderson on my plane

Laurie Anderson was on my flight to Los Angeles. 20140313_082016I wanted to say something, but I didn’t know what. She looked so sweet and vulnerable. I mean, she was sitting in coach, just like us. I thought about what I would say, and considered offering her my condolences for Lou Reed’s death. But that was just stupid, an excuse to be a sycophant. So I said nothing. I didn’t even smile. 20140313_123728 - CopyStill…I really did want to tell her how much I admire her, her work, her voice, her wit. “I’m a big fan.” Yeah, I would probably say something like that. Our flight was delayed and while we sat waiting for a part, it occurred to me that I could give her my book.

Screenshot (1014)Yes, she might like it. After all, it has a strong female voice and some good cerebral bits on life and loss. But I didn’t have it with me…and it was a stupid idea anyway, another one.

The truth was it was a good thing Laurie Anderson didn’t have to deal with me pitching ideas at her while she was just trying to read, maybe sleep a little before we landed.

And yet…if I told her all of this. What then? Wouldn’t she laugh? Wouldn’t she say, “Oh, okay. Let’s see this book of yours. my bad side. It’s a good title. I like it. I like it a lot.” 20140313_130321 - CopyAnd even since I didn’t do any of this and just watched her walk away at LAX, there is still the chance she will read this blog. I mean, she would only have to search her name and scroll down a few dozens pages or so. And here it is!

And then I know she would smile to herself, look for my contact icon and write something like, “Hello. Let’s talk.”

Tibet House Benefit 2014

The 2014 Tibet House Benefit, at Carnegie Hall last night, continues to be a musical highlight of the year.Nico+Muhly+2014+Tibet+House+Benefit+Concert+CBs62C81Ez4lHighlights included the enchanting music of Phillip Glass (accompanied by Nico Muhly & Tim Fain), surprise guest Sufjan Stevens offering two of his Planetarium songs, and New Order front-manned by the raw, seemingly ageless Iggy Pop. Tom Chapman, Iggy Pop, Bernard SumnerNot even Patti Smith could ruin the night with her ego and histrionics, grabbing poor Mr. Glass at the end, dragging him into her spotlight.478016707The good news is that, this time, she didn’t spit on the floor. M_TibetHouseBenefit2014

It is a privilege to attend this event. Thank you, Mr. Glass.

The Myth of Absinthe

Absinthe has the reputation all bad boys and girls dream of. 

absinthe fairy-glassFawned over by the elite and artistic, banned a hundred years ago, potent and delicious. Have you tried!? Have you? It is the stuff of legends, hallucinogenic, hyper-potent and most dangerous, all because a few poets and artists indulged excessively in Paris back in the day.

MuseVertMaignanBut how is it any different than other alcohol? Or is it? Don’t they say the same about tequila? Or the mixture of Guinness & cider known as a Snakebite? SnakebiteI do admit to being coerced into doing an Aguirre, Wrath of God rap after a Snakebite or two in my ill-gotten days, but I expect that spell could have been induced by many things.
aguirre3I did try Absinthe recently, and it was fine. But there was nothing remarkable about it. And there were certainly no green fairies.cropped-20140112_105237.jpg

Flim-Flams in the Writing World

The writing industry has a plethora of conferences, workshops and mentors, all promising answers and connections to help build your writing career.adaptation-6 Of course, all of this comes at a price – conferences from $400 to $3000, mentors at around $150 an hour – which wouldn’t be a problem if so many of those offering advice weren’t flim-flam carpetbaggers. Snake-Oil-AdI offer excerpts from one such guru on my bad side: 

I fear that for the beginning of a novel, the (pages) don’t grab me, fascinate me, make me love the character enough to keep reading. 

tumblr_ml0rs58daT1qbrdf3o1_500(Forgetting this mentor’s redundancy, she also completely misses the shooting that takes place on Page 3.)

She goes onThere’s a lot of “fucking” and too many exclamation points and then semi-colons.

fuck(There are three of each over the first ten pages.)

My “comps” – comparative stories used as short-hand to help editors understand themes of a book quickly – are decried: Cheryl Strayed’s Wild (is) about a woman mourning her mother’s death. I’m not getting the connections here.

books.cheryl-strayed-wild-book.widea(A principle theme of my bad side is coping with being an orphan.)

The conclusion of my $150 analysis was this: Do you want to try a personal essay? That’s the first assignment I give my students that they publish most often.

crying-woman-with-empty-wallet(And the cost of this would be…?)

The Best Place in the World

This just might be the best place in the world. 20140306_183435People pass by, here and not here, beggars and suits and children and lost sad women and college kids and military personnel, moving like they matter, all at different paces, the wonder of the world beaten down by life but still moving, unseeing, unsure, lost in their own world, but still like they might know where they are going. There are so many that they don’t have to talk. 20140306_183902Stupid things are said like “Life is life and it’s funny” and nobody is listening. Anything can be bought – orange ski gloves, faux Thai food, booze of all kinds. It is cool, not cold, not warm. It is so loud that it is almost quiet. There is an echo that never stops.20140306_183842I could stand here for hours. And nobody would care.

The Noise of Everything Else

It is almost silent. DSCN2523There is the air outside, that vague sound, but it is low, quieter than the buzz in my ears. My fingers tap and stop. I adjust myself, scrape my shoe along the floor. I think. The city could be dead. 20140228_180433It is empty in my head. The sirens are broken, the streets deserted. There is nothing out there. I am alone. The apocalypse has been. The noise of everything else is only in my head.Crown8I am in a forest, and now a desert, and now in space, where I have always been, destined for another place, waiting to get there, so that I might find a place to be quiet again and write about that, alone in the silence, the air, the world reduced to the buzzing in my ears.

Tired on the Train

She opened the book and considered the page. IMAG3779She had forgotten where she was, what paragraph, what had happened. She let her hand drift down the worn paper, dragging the bookmark in a long slow slide. She bent the bookmark forward and looked down the glossy edge, an old ticket, from the McCartney concert at Yankees Stadium. paulmccartneypopThey had sat at the side of the stage, seeing McCartney’s profile as he moved back and forth. It was amazing how young he acted and all of those great songs. And Crystal had almost looked happy, relaxed in the evening light, the arc of the thousands of people going up gently away into the sky. She didn’t drink that night. Nothing. That was the year she had died.IMAG2402She turned the ticket over, slid it back into the book, and held her finger, the black nail polish poking out, the end of it. She hung on to that and stared at her shoes and then across the train at her dark reflection in the window, the tunnel moving past, and saw the man staring back, his expression almost angry, chin burrowed in his scarf. Sex. It was always that. IMAG3354The train slowed. It was time to get off.

Which is worse? Leto or Twitter?

“Did you watch the Oscars?”
She glowered at me from her existential book.”I gave up on those years ago.”sisyphus
“There was a long-haired guy who won an award that told the audience to remember the people of Ukraine and Venezuela.”oscars_2014_jaredleto_650_15_1
“Was he in the selfie that shut down Twitter?”
“Yes, he was.”ellen-oscar-selfie
“Which is worse?” She leaned forward suddenly. “Saying I look older than I am or that I’m younger than I look?”
I watched her face transform, just by turning her head, from young and cruel to old and sweet. Pretty_Baby_43108_Medium“The first, I think.”

Quiet No More

There was a day, many years ago, when arenas allowed for silence.LeafsA moment to consider existence, our utter meaninglessness in the vastness of this universe, interrupted occasionally by a polka played on the organ or a lone plastic horn.mJDBvmQ2oZvZt9tltMKgDaQThere were no big screens, no video replays, no music, just you and your thoughts.

20140227_200003Those intermittent moments are no longer. tampaTrivia games are played at every turn, music blared, T-shirts shot into the crowd.20140227_195626And I no longer have the time to think about which might be better.136279463_slide