Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mots Qui Vont Tres Bien Ensemble-ish

Les Sans Culottes and Life in a Blender rocked Joe's on Saturday. Ben is friends with the guitarist from the Brecht-Weil-Reed-Weimar-and-awesome-rock fuelled Life in a Blender, so we wandered over, climbed up into the booth, wondered briefly if there were any earplugs available and then decided rock and roll wasn't meant to be heard through the muffle of a plug. Also, we couldn't find any. Jeez, we're old.

Anyway, Les Sans Culottes is a Brooklyn band that plays super-edgy, awesome pop and they speak my kind of French--that is, completely made up. They're vaguely French--the attitude without the nit-picky grammar.

I was once on a train between Paris and Florence, a sleeping car. I was in grad-school and it was like a dream come true because there was this beautiful French girl in the same compartment. On all other sleeping-car rides previous, I had been stuck in a sleeping car with large hairy men or my brothers, so I sort of felt like God had smiled at me this once.

We got to talking and I started using my three years of high school French to explain to her that I was a Theatre History student wandering the European countryside in search of historical documents, not unlike Indiana Jones.

"L'histoire du theatre?" she asked, seeking clarification.

I explained to her about Cardinal Richelieu and the French Academy, trying to bring the whole thing home so that she could understand. Smooth, right?

"Qui?'" she kept asking.

Finally, when I had managed to convey to her who Richelieu was, she looked at me as I might look at someone pronouncing George Washington's name like "Yorg Warshbingbong" and said, "Don't speak French" and that dream was done.

Look, my point is Les Sans Culottes are playing Magnetic Fields--just down the street here--on August 10th and if you're in the area and have ever been shot down by a snobby French person and you like good music and attitude, you should go.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday Funny

Friday, July 27, 2007

Letting Go

The other day, I went flipping through all of my dance drawings because Jeff was looking for something new to put up. When we came upon this one in the sketchbooks, he knew it was the one.

The thing about going through my ballet drawings is that, whether they're good or bad, I can remember exactly where I was, who I was looking at and what was going on in my heart when I drew each one. That is especially true of all of the eight books of drawings I did during the three months I spent drawing Susan Jaffe's retirement.

On this night, Susan had danced for the last time with Carlos Molina. I don't have any idea what it must be like, the intimate relationship of a ballet partnership. The levels of trust and faith built upon the intense periods of frustration, joy and pure exploration which are rehearsals. And, to really ratchet up the pressure, it's really all about love--usually tragic and doomed--being expressed in the motion and physical relationship between two people.

Also, it's a constantly changing relationship. The one thing dancers are ALWAYS doing is trying to get better. Show me a dancer who doesn't think they could have been better--go ahead, try; I've known a lot of dancers and I've never met one.

But a last dance is as good as it's ever going to get, because there is no next time. Susan said goodbye to a lot of partnerships in her final season. Some of her partners were her mentors, some her peers and some were younger, but they all felt they were moving with something special when they danced with Susan. Carlos, in particular, seemed to look to her for guidance and mentoring. All of which he would have to drop when it came time to take the stage, because on stage, he had to rise to the occassion and be her equal; he did so because she demanded it and he got better because she did.

Anyway, the last night they performed, I was sitting in the stage left wing watching and drawing and for some reason, when it was all over I stayed exactly where I was and just watched. At the end of the performance, after the bows, everyone lingered a bit because that's the way it was with those last performances. Gradually, the backstage crowd left the stage and the ghost light was lit. Still, Susan and Carlos stood, clenched together as they had been since the curtain closed, hugging and weeping, extending their final goodbye alone on the darkened stage.

Until, finally, they let go and it was done.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I am smack dab in the middle of a sleepless night.

There's a cat in heat outside, yowling like a performance artist.

TV is boring. Unless plotted or written by Joss Whedon. And I'm three episodes away from finishing his oeuvre.

Eric lost 22 pounds? That's kind of inspiring.

Huh. John Hodgman has a blog. And he's poaching awesome stuff from Boing Boing.

Has anyone else seen posters or coming attractions for this Stardust movie? What a premise. Wait, that's my premise. Chris says I should hire a lawyer. What do you think, Jonny?

Remember that moment in Rushmore when Max runs into Blume on the elevator at the hospital? That was a good moment. It's kind of like that around here.

Chris and I were wandering around this afternoon, walking down 23rd when we passed between two young men who maybe hadn't seen each other for a long time. As they parted, the one left behind said, "we should get coffee together some time" and the other, moving away, said, "yeah . . . some time."

Chris and I agree that these men will never have coffee together.

Yesterday, in a bodega on Court street I ran into a friend I've known for over twenty years but hadn't seen in some time. "How's it going?" I asked. "I've been sober for 66 days," he replied. He was buying a candy bar.

I finished a drawing last weekend that took me three weeks to complete and I'm about to start one that will probably take about the same.

Into the Next.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Out In The Country

Spent the weekend with Chris, Raina, Dana, Dave and Carrie. Exhausting, the way we ate and played frisbee and croquet and went swimming and had another drink and watched a movie and ate some more, rinse and repeat.

By the way, it turns out I can tee-off a golf-ball like nobody's business.

Who knew?

Friday, July 20, 2007


Spottiswoode And His Enemies played the final show of their three show residency last night at Joe's. I missed the first two for reasons that--after having seen the third show--can't have been good enough.

If you're a performer, here's how you can tell you're having a good night at Joe's: If you look out and see the staff watching with big smiles of bliss and contentment on their faces, you're doing something right.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Running Lines

I don't get drawn very often. And I don't like to pose for pictures unless I'm taking them myself. Nisi did this one last week out on Lafayette.

Years ago, back in Austin, soon after I had first started taking my drawing seriously I brought a bunch of sketches in to the Kinko's on Red River for copying. The woman working the desk looked at my stuff, looked at me and said, "you've got some serious control issues."

"Err. How do you know that?" I replied uneasily.

"You work in ink. People working in ink are desperate for control. Don't like to let go. Have a hard time playing. Clever--even funny--but serious about everything."

About the same time, Kay had listened to me describing what my mind said my heart wanted, sighed, smiled, looked up from my drawing pad and, with the love of a mother, said, "Michael, you don't know yourself very well."

So, here I am nearly a decade later, a few lines short of the complete picture, still drawing in ink, but a little more capable of letting go and a little clearer about what I'm drawing because I'm a little clearer about who's holding the pen.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Serge Protection (or, always wear your sunscreen)

The Loser's Lounge celebrated Bastille Day at Joe's by saluting Serge Gainsbourg. Jeff had called to tell me Konrad was sitting in on drums so we sat down, ordered a bottle of wine and some antipasti and enjoyed the show.

The good thing about the show--I mean other than it being awesome and all that--was that it gave me a second shot at drawing Dawn Landes who was singing harmony with Joe Hurley. My first try, back in March sort of made her look like a sad Mennonite or a poster for The Crow. The less said about this the better.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Jesse Harris played Joe's Wednesday night, singing songs from his new album and strumming on his old banjo.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

In The House

Nomo played Joe's Monday night. They were one of those bands that's so big it strains the capacity of the Joe's stage. By the end of the show they had left the stage, the mics and the lights behind and were standing in the house breaking barriers and making friends.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Spent the fourth of July up in Canada with the family. There's a lot of us now--four boys, two wives, a grand-daughter, a girlfriend, two parents, three dogs and an island full of memories and plans to be made. We cleared some brush and made some waves and hiked a bit and cooked a lot and I got to sit in the hammock for a while and look at the tops of trees. Just past the trees, the sky was blue and gray, the moon was bright and a few storms blew through as the days went by. The boathouse needs work and squirrels are living in the sun room, but the out-house is a distant memory and we've gone wireless (when it works).