It seems absurd for me to say that I wish we were in New York City right now, with Hurricane Sandy bearing down, but we are definitely thinking of all our many friends there and all over the East Coast and hoping everyone stays dry and safe.
October 29, 2012
January 26, 2012
Our friend Ali is on TV again. John Klima points me toward this clip from Jamie's American Road Trip, which just recently starting airing in the States. It features Jamie Oliver traveling from Manhattan to Queens to learn Egyptian cooking from Ali El Sayed of the celebrated Kabab Cafe:
(The actual arrival in Queens comes at about 3:28, and you can click here to jump straight there.)
I dragged a very willing Mr. Klima to Kabab Cafe back in 2008, when we both happened to be in New York, and a memorable night it was. If you find yourself in New York and want to get off the beaten path for a culinary adventure, the address is 25-12 Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens. Tell Ali that Bill from Chicago sent you.
January 12, 2012
Our good friend Edie Nadelhaft (one of whose paintings hangs on our dining room wall) is participating tonight in Changing the World Through Art, an auction and gala to benefit the Time In Children's Arts Initiative.
TimeIn is a unique outreach program that introduces children from some of the most underserved and impoverished neighborhoods in NYC to the arts through activities such as hands on classes, sketching at museums and galleries and listening to opera.
Please make this the first of your 2012 tax deductible donations and enjoy hors d'oeuvres, bespoke cocktails and a live auction of works including my own Cherry Biter No. 12 as well as works by Takashi Murakami, William Wegman, Nick Cave and many more!
November 21, 2011
So there's this meme going around on Facebook where you give someone an age and they write about their life that year. I was given 29.
29 ... 1996-1997. Probably one of my most transformative yet miserable years. It was my second year living in NYC, my second year out of the Mormon church, and everything about life in the city was exciting. I landed the job that year, at N2K Entertainment, that introduced me to some of the best friends of my life and set me on the path to success as a web developer. My desperate financial situation began to turn around. I was plowing like mad through books on Mormon history, gaining the foundation I needed to eventually write my memoir, and gaining as reputation as one of the angriest and most outspoken ex-Mormons on the web. But I was also living in Brooklyn with a sociopathic girlfriend who gave me none of the support I needed to get any writing done. That should have been the year I threw her out, but I was still insecure enough to think I wasn't going to be able to make it in New York on my own. The end of that year, my 30th birthday party at Mooney's Pub on Flatbush, was one of the best nights of my life that far, mostly because it showed me how many friends I'd made that year. You were there, and you, and you, and you. And you too!
September 9, 2011
you are here
the southern tip of roosevelt island
east river easing by to either side
beside your wife astride the bikes
you rode like phantoms through
the hushed streets of queens
over the red bridge at 36th ave
you are here
inside the four mile ring of the
concentric circles of immediacy
and inverse kneejerk jingoism
the two towers at their center
their sides pierced by spears
gushing ash into waterclear sky
you are here
holding hands in the swelling
congregation of silent cyclists
a u.n. of observers stunned and numb
distant sirens the only sounds
besides the murmuring river
or the murmurs might be yours
you are not here
to see or hear the first collapse
you're riding back over the bridge
retracing miles unwinding the clock
restitching time with no success
at home your t.v. sees just one tower
a dustblinded eye about to close
you are not there
January 7, 2011
No, I don't mean dancers smoking pot. I mean dance choreographed on an indoor set of living grass and trees. It's "Wooden," by our good friend Laura Peterson (with sets by Jon Pope), and you lucky New Yorkers can see Part 2 at Here Arts Center tonight and tomorrow night only. Please go, since we can't! Tickets are $15.
Laura's choreography always strikes me as supremely logical, whether rooted in organic forms or technological ideas or a hybrid of both, and entirely superior to the hackneyed vocabulary that seems to compose much of modern dance. Here's a video of one of the improvisations that led to "Wooden" to whet your appetite:
See more of Laura's videos here and here. And here's a past favorite of mine, just because:
November 14, 2010
with a high of seventy degrees in the forecast,
amazing for a November in Chicago,
I drove the dog to Warren Park.
That's where we go for a special treat
instead of our usual neighborhood walk,
because the squirrel chasing is most excellent,
and there are never any cops there to harass you,
a scofflaw walking his dog off its leash.
We like to run up the steps of the sledding hill,
which a parks department sign actually proclaims "Sledding Hill,"
and then charge down the slope,
after which we make our way around the skirt of the hill
where the squirrels rummage through the leaves
like so many bargain hunters.
We crunch crunch crunch across the orange carpet,
and if we're lucky we spot a squirrel far enough out
in the open that Ella can chase it full-bore
back to its tree.
She has never once caught one.
Or at any rate never killed one.
Next we like to follow the cinder jogging path
all the way around the little nine-hole golf course embedded
like an off-center yolk
in the albumen of the park,
and that's exactly what we did this morning.
I walked in the leaves at the side of the path,
trying to encourage Ella to do the same,
but unless she has a rodent, lagomorph or marsupial in her sights
she prefers to walk on pavement. Go figure.
We were on the south side of the golf course,
the tall chain-link fence meant to protect us from flying balls
off to our left,
when I saw two men coming our way along the path,
youngish menyounger than I, at any rate
neatly bearded men dressed in long robes the color of wet sand.
It was already warm enough out that I was regretting
the heavy coat I wore over my hooded sweatshirt.
I snapped my fingers imperiously,
calling for Ella to return to my side,
to leave the path and get out of the way
of the two youngish men engaged in animated talk.
Ella is a good dog, shaggy-bearded herself,
and she mostly listens. But I know that Muslims
are afraid of dogs, or wary, or I think I know this,
having watched many women in headscarves
whisper urgently to their children to stay out
of our path. At least,
I assumed these men were Muslims. I admit I don't know
the taxonomy of robes and caps and beards.
They could have been Coptic Christians or even Jains for all I knew.
At any rate, they didn't have turbans on
so I knew they weren't Sikhs.
But despite my commands, Ella didn't leave the path
entirely. She shifted toward me, trotting along
the very edge of the pavement, but didn't leave it altogether.
"Ella," I hissed. "Come." She spared me only a sidelong glance,
certain she had already obeyed me to the extent required.
Letter of the law.
I only wanted to be a good neighbor.
The men were yards away.
Dogs are not consistent with Islam.
I braced for whatever.
It's not that I thought anything worse
than embarrassment might transpire,
but my dog does have a history.
She grew up in Queens, and she still has some of that attitude.
We socialized her with people pretty quickly,
my wife and I, but that didn't prevent her from
barking her selectively bred head off at any unfamiliar creatures
we encountered on the street,
ones with strange colors, shapes or motions.
Woman in full burqas, like shambling mounds of midnight.
People in big hats.
People on crutches or in wheelchairs.
Black people--a sad reflection of the diversity
of visitors to our apartment.
The worst was the time she lost it at an old black woman
in a wheelchair
in front of a funeral parlor
on Astoria Boulevard near the elevated tracks.
As we dragged her in a wide, apologetic berth
as far from the frightened woman
As the woman's decked-out younger companions yelled at us.
As if we'd trained our dog to hate old black women in wheelchairs.
That was the worst.
But it's not as if Ella has never met a Muslim man before.
We used to walk her up Steinway Street in Queens,
right past all the Middle Eastern restaurants and pastry shops
and bookstores, and the men's social clubs with the curvy hookahs,
and even past the mosque.
Some people avoided us, though we never walked her
up the middle of the sidewalk or in such a way
as to block anyone's path.
We didn't mean it as a provocation
but more as a statement, an exercise of our rights
to free association, an exercise in multiculturalism.
And not everyone avoided us. One time
a group of three thirtyish Egyptians stopped us
as we walked Ella up the far edge of the sidewalk.
One of them with a reedy mustache and a look of childlike wonder
asked if our dog was friendly. "Yes," we said.
He asked if he could pet her. "Of course," we said.
We made her sit.
Ella could care less about most strangers, but she doesn't like
surprises, so we told the man to reach out slowly.
His fingertips barely grazed the hair on the top of her head,
while Ella sat patiently and yawned.
"Good dog," we said, while the man straightened up
with a smile as wide as the world on his face.
You could see him already composing the story in his head
that he would tell his friends,
about how he petted a dog
and didn't even get struck by lightning.
He'll be dining out on that one for years.
We loved that neighborhood for reasons like that meeting
on the street. We loved it for our friend Ali,
who would never touch Ella because he was cooking
in his little restaurant, but who always had a kind word for her,
and still asks about her when we visit.
I love it for the times I stayed out all night drinking
with Ali, who knew everyone, for the times he Virgiled me
into the social club across the street from his restaurant,
where I smoked shisha with the Egyptian men and listened
to monologues on history and hieroglyphics,
on all the important things that Egypt invented, or did first.
Our travels in Cairo and Luxor and Petra and Amman,
talking Islam and politics and Christianity
with virtual strangers in coffee shops and cafés,
sometimes seemed the inevitable endpoint of our years
in that neighborhood, which we loved.
What I'm trying to get at is, I don't hate Muslims,
and I especially don't want any Muslim to think I hate Muslims,
or that my dog hates Muslims.
Which she doesn't.
The two men on the path had nearly drawn even with us,
and Ella still hadn't moved off the pavement.
But there was enough room for her and the nearest man to pass
each other without touching, which they did.
"Good morning, sir," he said to me with a cheerful trill,
his face like a gibbous moon, beaming.
"Good morning, how are you today?" I said with a smile
as wide as Lake Michigan,
a smile trying a little too hard,
wanting to be seen as a friend, not a fraud,
and reflect the genuine shiver of camaraderie I felt.
"Very well, thank you," he said, dipping his head.
He, the respectful, non-threatening immigrant,
me, the welcoming, tolerant native,
both playing the part of open-minded, ideal world citizen.
Maybe he was born here, I don't know, and maybe I was not,
as far as he knew.
We both still played our proper roles
roles still, even if based on a true story,
inspired by real events.
I might wish for a deeper connection,
a meeting of the minds,
but at least we all passed on our leisurely errands
without baring our teeth,
without drawing our guns,
and I can live with that.
Ella, more alien than us all,
paid none of our human posturing the slightest mind.
November 3, 2010
While Laura and I were in New York City about a month ago, we were introduced to a drink called the "pickle back"a shot of Irish whiskey followed by a pickle-brine chaser. Yes, I was dubious too, but it was the best new drink I'd tasted in ages. Of course, the pickle juice needs to be of high quality. You can't just use the liquid from a bottle of Vlasic dill chips.
We first experienced the pickle back at Sweet Afton in Queens (ecmyers was there!), so imagine our surprise when at Whiskey Tavern in Chinatown the next evening we found two varieties of pickle back on the menu! It's apparently a growing trend in bars in the know, as detailed in this New York Post article:
Time to invest in cucumber futures?
(To my Blue Heaven peeps, don't lump this tasty treat in with the horror that is Gherkinbräu. Here, of course, the pickle taste is deliberate.)
February 24, 2010
Fans of the monthly New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series in Manhattan are used to gathering for good food, good whiskey, and good beer at Ryan Maguire's Ale House, on Cliff Street near the South Street Seaport. Unfortunately, Ryan Maguire's was destroyed by a fire early this morning:
It's great that no one was hurt, but this is a real loss. It was a warm, welcoming place, and I always looked forward to heading there with Jim Freund and a big, interesting, varied crowd after readings while Laura and I still lived in New York. I'm glad I had a chance to go there one last time, in January, when Paul Witcover and I read together at NYRSF. RIP.
January 2, 2010
Hi, NYC friends! Yes, it's a last-minute surprise to me too, but I'll be reading with the excellent Paul Witcover THIS COMING TUESDAY EVENING, January 5th, as part of the New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series at the South Street Seaport Museum. Doors open 6:30 pm, readings begin 7:00 pm. Suggested donation is $5. See below for all the details, and we hope to see you there.
Please note, if you haven't been to a NYRSF reading at the Seaport lately, that the location is slightly different than it used to be....
--> The New York Review of Science Fiction Readings
South Street Seaport Museum present <--
Amy Goldschlager -- Guest Curator
Tuesday, January 5th -- Doors open 6:30 PM
$5 suggested donation
South Street Seaport Museum
12 Fulton Street -- Fifth Floor
(directions and links below)
A new year is upon us, and we continue to celebrate our 20th Anniversary and look forward to new horizons at the same time.
William Shunn -- a past Hugo, Nebula, and Sturgeon Award nominee -- is the author of over two dozen short stories, which have appeared everywhere from Asimov's to Salon. His novella, CAST A COLD EYE, a ghost story co-written with Derryl Murphy, is just out from PS Publishing. His memoir THE ACCIDENTAL TERRORIST can be heard as a podcast via his Web site at http://shunn.net.
Paul Witcover is the author of the novels Waking Beauty, Tumbling After, and Dracula: Asylum. His short-story collection, Everland, was released last spring. He is a former curator of the NYRSF reading series, and will be guest-curating a reading later this year.
Amy Goldschlager was the fourth doctor, er, curator of the NYRSF Readings. (Sorry. Regeneration's been on my mind lately.) She is a print and online editor who has edited science fiction, children's, and craft books for several major publishers. She has also written reviews for Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Audiofile magazine, and ComicMix.
The New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series is celebrating its 20th season of providing performances from some of the best writers in science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, etc. The series usually takes place the first Tuesday of every month. We have been known to move from one venue to another within the museum, so check each time. Sadly, we will be seeking new digs as of March.
Admission is by a $5 donation. If circumstances make this a hardship, let us know and we will accommodate you.
Jim Freund is Producer and Executive Curator of The New York Review of Science Fiction Readings. He has been involved in producing radio programs of and about literary sf/f since 1967. His long-running live radio program, “Hour of the Wolf,” broadcasts and streams every Saturday morning from 5:00 to 7:00. Past shows are available "'on-demand" for about 6 months after broadcast. (Check http://hourwolf.com for details.)
Doors open at 6:30 -- event begins at 7
The South Street Seaport Museum
12 Fulton Street -- 5th floor
Take 2, 3, 4, 5, J, Z, or M to Fulton Street; A and C to
Broadway-Nassau. Walk east on Fulton Street to Water Street
Take M15 (South Ferry-bound) down Second Ave. to Fulton Street
From the West Side: take West Street southbound. Follow signs to FDR
Drive Take underpass, keep right - use Exit 1 at end of underpass. Turn
right on South Street, six blocks.
From the East Side, take FDR Drive south to Exit 3 onto South Street
Proceed about 1 mile.
2/2/10: Sheree Renée Thomas presents Ama Patterson & Daniel José Older
The New York Review of Science Fiction magazine is celebrating its 21st year!
Subscribe or submit articles to the magazine!
New York Review of Science Fiction
PO. Box 78, Pleasantville, NY, 10570
NYRSF Magazine: http://nyrsf.com
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