05 December 2012

Mazel Tov, Israel...This Time With Translation

I was listening to this yesterday and thought of reposting it. Then today I saw the video with an English translation here.

14 November 2012

Books By People Who Can Read Hebrew That I Read This Past Summer

I meant to post this in August, but that wasn't how things worked out. Ahem. But what better a time to do a post about Israeli novels in translation than during Jewish Book Month?

Suddenly A Knock On the Door by Etgar Keret

Yeah. Obviously.

the bus drive who wanted to be god by Etgar Keret

Had to brush up on the Keret oeuvre. I didn't remember reading "Kneller's Happy Campers."

Homesick by Eshkol Nevo

Aww! Eshkol Nevo looks just like his granddad.
I'm thinking Eskol Nevo is not well known in the U.S.Which is too bad. This book fascinated me. I could relate to it in an interesting way because I was actually in Israel during its timeframe. I loved getting inside Amir's head, knowing his thoughts. What fascinated him, what repelled him. His own conception of himself. What he was afraid of. His loneliness.

I am including this link to a video of Nevo at Urbana-Champaign some time in 2010. (I couldn't embed this. Sorries!) It's about an hour long, but it is absolutely fascinating and worth it. So, get the tea and bikkies and settle in. I love this video so much I wish I hadn't watched it so I could have the experience of watching it for the first time. Nevo talks some about the translation process, about Homesick, his writing process, reads from the book, and answers questions.

Nevo teaches writing, so the most interesting part for me was what he said about the "pedagogic" or "pedagogical tone" in writing. (As opposed to the intuitive.) I'd really like to hear about this.

Her Body Knows by David Grossman

This book was going to get its very own post earlier this past summer, but that did not work out. Grossman may look like the weirdly quiet guy working in IT, but in these two novellas he writes from a place in which the body is practically the only thing that matters. Well, obviously this is such a central theme that it's enshrined in the title.

I think the degree to which I wanted to stop reading "Frenzy," the first novella, at several points was directly inverse to my desire to finish reading the second "Her Body Knows." Frustrating the issue of what's-really-going-on is also central. (And, dispiritingly, that's probably the entire point of the work.)

Despite realizing Bodies, bodies--this work is about bodies, I was almost  taken aback by how kaleidoscopic "Her Body Knows" actually is. The descriptions of bodily states--the central character is a yoga instructor--is almost psychedelic, Which is awesome. But also nerve-wracking for would-be writers of fiction.

13 November 2012

Amos Kennedy Wants You to Know: When You Support Detroit Printing Plant, You Support Detroit

I mentioned Amos P. Kennedy, artist and famous guy, in the blog post I put up earlier today about the Wisconsin Book Festival. And, like any self-promoter with a clue, I emailed the post to him.

A few hours later Kennedy, a graduate of Wisconsin's MFA printmaking program, replied to my email asking me to do a blog post about the Detroit Printing Plant. I've been a little obsessed with Detroit since I spent a summer at U of M studying German. And I've lived in Milwaukee, so I have a big place in my heart for heavy industry's orphans. If you know Milwaukee, you know that, though it has its challenges, there are definitely grace notes, like Jim Godsil's mind-blowing aquaponics set-up. I have a hunch the same is true of Detroit. In fact, I think it could be 1970s New York about to happen.

Amos Kennedy, famous artist and overall-wearer, is raising money to build a letterpress printing plant in Detroit as a sustainable business. Isn't that music to your ears? Doesn't your head swim?

You can learn more about donating to the campaign here. The deadline is December 16. Please donate. Please forward.

Looking Back At Wisconsin Book Festival

Wisconsin Book FestivalI really enjoyed the festival and had a really great weekend. A recap.

Let's start with Friday because
I was busy on Wednesday night and kind of wiped out on Thursday night. But on Friday, I finally did get going. However. I missed seeing Emma Straub and the other fiction writers because I left the video camera I'd checked out from the library on the bus (because I got caught up in writing a poem about Phillis Wheatley and Thomas Jefferson in response to a reading for my book history/print culture class). Happily, I recovered it soon afterward. I couldn't help saying to myself, I'm really glad I'm not a jerk to bus drivers.

So, then, finally, I got to the book festival. Davy and Peter Rothbart of FOUND magazine were doing an event. I'm sort of surprised I went because I expected it to be hipster central. However, there wasn't a single moustache in sight. The found items made me think of how everyone's just here trying to connect with other people, find a bit of love, and not go hungry. Davy seems like a tremendous humanist to me. Later, I found my way (har har!) to a bar in Madison I'd never been to--it reminded me of a Milwaukee bar, which is great--in order to get some tape of Davy. I talked to some folks for a while; then Davy was nice enough to talk to me on camera. (It's for a project I'll be turning in next month.) So, I went home happy.

The next day I went to what used to be the Madison Zine Fest. And I saw Amos Kennedy who is, like, famous. I bought one of his prints, and he signed it for me. I can haz art collection now? I told him about my friend Wanda Ewing, printmaker extraordinaire. (If they do a collaboration, I want my 20 per cent.) Oh, Amos Kennedy knows Natalie Chanin. I also saw Megan Katz, the managing director of Wisconsin Book Festival, who is known to both me and Greg Grube, that troubadour of the trapezius.

Later on Saturday afternoon. I saw Edwige Danticat. This was the big name event and I had never seen Danticat before. Also, my very first roommate in Wisconsin was a Haitian-Canandian art professor, so I feel like I have a connection to Haitian culture. If you're in Milwaukee, you should go to the Milwaukee Art Museum to see the Haitian art there.

After that, I went to see Dean and Natalie Bakopolous. Dean got his MFA here at Wisconsin. He lives in Iowa. A faculty member at Iowa State, he  is currently visiting at Grinnell. Natalie, his sister, is a lecturer in the English department at Michigan. Oh, and at that reading I did see Emma Straub, so I got a photo of her for my project.

Last of all, I went to see First Wave, which is, in a nutshell, a bunch of undergrads into hip-hop cultures. Their event was honoring John "Vietnam" Nguyen, a really talented young man who drowned this past summer. They had some high school kids backing them up. One ninth-grader's rhymes were so good it depressed me. Like, dang, I've really gotta start revising. And I saw the best MC I've ever heard (live or mediated) at this event. And it was a girl. Oh. Snap.

SundayFrank X Walker was also at the First Wave event on Saturday night. He teaches at University of Kentucky, as does National Book Award-winning Nikky Finney. On Sunday I went to a screening of a movie he produced called Coal Black, which is about black writers from the Appalachian region of the U.S. He was the one, I believe, who coined the term "Affrilachian," which now appears in the Oxford American Dictionary, apparently. After screening the film, the audience asked him questions. And, yes, Finney does appear in the film. At the end of the event I had the temerity to show Walker the poem I had written on the bus on Friday night.

The next event I went to was part of an event by Theater Oobleck. This was a really exciting concept (!) that involved translations of (in two out of three cases) Les Fleurs du mal, live music, and drawings/paintings hand-turned on scrolls. The description of the event called it "pre-electric-age cinema." I didn't stay for all of it because I ran out to attend

...a panel about Creative Publishing that featured Frank X; the editors from Verse Wisconsin; the Devil's Lake editors; CX Dillhunt from Hummingbird; and Ching-in Chen, now the EIC of Cream City Review, whom I know from Milwaukee. It was good to see Ching-in again; I hadn't seen her in more than a year.

Reflecting on the Wisconsin Book Festival, the lesson I learned is that life is pretty much about building relationships and being a kind, considerate person. (Duh?) This is what I mean: I was recording the zine festival in a campus library. Before I did, I went to the desk and asked if it was ok to do so. So, I talked to the guy as the desk; and the guy at the desk called the supervisor. The supervisor called somebody else. All the while, I was standing there. I saw some people I knew from Milwaukee and talked with them a little. Then the supervisor came back and said it was all ok. I filled out a form and went on in. But what I realize is that by being smart and considerate enough to ask--rather than having just waltzing in unauthorized and getting hassled later--I interacted with these two guys at the library who will now think when they see me (and they see me a lot because I'm in that building often), She's smart, prepared, and civil. And later I'll see them somewhere--because Madison is a small town--and they'll know I'm smart, prepared, and civil--and they'll talk to me and introduce me to whoever. And I'll know the people they know. And I'll feel happier and more at ease in the world knowing that I am known in and by the community.

This is how I think life should be. And I know we're lucky when it is.

27 October 2012

Carl Djerassi Doesn't Need My Money; Press Probably Not Sneezing, Though

Ecco Djerassi.
I went to the Carl Djerassi reading October 25. I was sorely tempted to just call it a night because it had gotten terribly cold, but I'm glad I acted the hardy soul. For poetry!

Carl Djerassi got his PhD at Wisconsin and, consequently, invented the pill. Hats off to him. His life is so interesting. He escaped Nazi Germany and ended up marrying Diane Middlebrook, the woman who wrote the biography of the Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes marriage Her Husband. I was understandably dazzled.

Reader, I bought Djerassi's book. It's bilingual in German--and I was fascinated by his description of working with a translator. Skype! Of course! Though, that didn't go so well, he said, and they fell back upon email. (A story I have in mind involves a translator--and I'd thought of Skype, actually. So, I'm "researching." And I did ask him about his experience working with a translator. And I did take two semesters of German translation as an undergrad and do have fond memories of it.)

I was also interested in the theme of vulnerability. I'm really fascinated by and admiring of people who make themselves vulnerable to others because I find it a Herculean undertaking. Djerassi's book consists of the poetry he wrote in the aftermath of the biographer summarily dumping him (but before they reconciled and got married) and going off with another guy. Well, he is moving on for 90; what does he care how he looks to other people now?

I couldn't help wondering the next morning, though, how much A Diary of Pique is him getting the last word, a finger in Middlebrook's eye. Because his wife is dead. She held forth, as a biographer, on the wishes and the shaming of the dead, but he did mention his power struggles with her, so it seems a little egoriffic on his part to me.

Despite Djerassi's sprawling oeuvre, wealth, and cosmopolitan ways I feel as if he's less than three degrees of separation from me. Because we're in the same, well, subculture of poetry and English departments. Sure, his wife was a superstar. But she was an English department superstar.

20 October 2012

My First Poem in Hebrew is by Yuval Ben-Ami

Update: This is not Yuval Ben-Ami because the link to him reading his poetry in an Israeli bookstore chain is broken. It is instead Noam Partom performing "Pretty and pretty with stars in their eyes (lovesmetoo).

It goes without saying that this would not be my first poem in Hebrew without subtitles, subtitles, subtitles. Yuval Ben-Ami writes for 972mag.com, which I check in with for info about Israel-Palestine in English once a week or so--which is how I know who he is.

Ben-Ami posted a story about Hebrew poetry on YouTube on 972 last month. This led me to the work of Noam Partom, which I posted. Yuval Ben-Ami also writes poetry. And since there are only two book chains in Israel, a poet like himself isn't getting much love from the Israeli publishing industry. So, Ben-Ami decided to "book" himself in bookstore locations. I am posting the first one because it has English subtitles. But there are, like, 19 more.

26 September 2012

Let Hebrew Poetry on YouTube Light Up Your Life

I am posting this video because I saw "How YouTube became Hebrew poetry's last resort" on +972. Intriguing, no? I find this very interesting as I continue to contemplate since I've decided that the paper I do for my book history and print culture class will have something to do with the Hebrew-language, er,  bibliosphere.

This performer's name is Noam Partom. There aren't English subtitles, but I think, as with a great deal of good spoken word, the medium does a lot of the message's heavy lifting.

25 September 2012

Bottle in the Sea of Gaza About As Far Away as a Bottle in the Sea of Gaza

Greggers was pointing out earlier this week that it's been a while since I posted. So, here's this trailer of Bottle in the Sea of Gaza.

Some friends screen independent/international films on a regular basis, and I'm lobbying for an Israeli flick this week. Unfortunately, Bottle in the Sea of Gaza is not available on Netflix or in Four Star Video Heaven, whose lack of Israeli film selection I've complained about to staff before. So, this is as close as I'm going to get to it for a while. Sigh.

15 September 2012

Oded Ezer Could Be Your Type

Update: I replaced the video since I seemed to have a broken link. Start at 0:42

Do you think about Hebrew typefaces very much? I sort of do. I've complained or at least thought that Hebrew fonts were lacking something. But it's not as if I could really, like, read very well. Maybe reading a different script is just inherently fatiguing.

Of course, I was introduced to it in the mid-1990s, and Israel's visual culture has changed since then, as evidenced by the work of Oded Ezer. Yes, a cursory googling of  "Hebrew typography"reveals the field doesn't begin and end with Ezer, but, I don't see anyone else wearing a mohawk of stylized typeface--so, there we are.

I started this post earlier this summer, and, like so many other things, it kind of got hung up. But Hebrew typefaces are again on my mind because I'm taking History of Books and Print Culture from Prof. Jonathan Senchyne and must needs find a topic for my seminar paper. Which means decide between topics.

So, if you're cooling out somewhere with a stack of scholarly articles about Hebrew typefaces under your desk, would you mind dropping me a friendly comment?

20 August 2012

Rain Taxi Wishes Etgar and Me A Happy Birthday

Pffft, it was sure starting to look like I was lying about interviewing Etgar Keret, wasn't it?

Well. Feast your eyes on this. Suckas...

19 August 2012


This is not the most brilliant execution of dance video production of all time, no, but I really, really like it. I saw this video some time last month and have now gotten around to posting it. I like how angular and twitchy it is. And, um, it reminds me of Michael Jackson.

The piece is called "Ziji." The choreographer is Luc Jacobs. The dancer is Yaara Moses, a Batsheva dancer. Filmed by Ian Robinson, also a Batsheva dancer. 

18 August 2012

I Think Etgar's Really Funny

This past summer I read Suddenly, A Knock On the Door and reread The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God. And sometimes, admittedly, I thought, What the hell is wrong with this guy? Truly. Other times, though, I was laughing so raucously as to draw attention in public. Consider the opening lines from his one of his stories: "Have you ever wondered what word is most frequently uttered by people about to die a violent death? MIT carried out a comprehensive study of the question among heterogeneous communities in North America and discovered that the word is none other than fuck." Don't you wish it occurred to you to write that?

So, clicking on the Jewish Daily Forward video above is worth your while if you haven't already. Go ahead. I'll wait. Good stuff, huh? I would've included Stanley Tucci reading Keret's story "Creative Writing," but I couldn't embed that, but you can find it here.

17 August 2012

Hey, It's A Pretty Good Video

I'm posting another Aviv Geffen video. I was impressed by how cleverly it integrates the song's lyrics. Which, come to think of it, I don't see a lot.

09 August 2012

It's Not About Me; It's About Shirley

I don't think it's odd that I went shopping for an outfit for the Garbage show yesterday. (And found nothing worthy.) But nevermind me.

Today is all about La Manson! Yay! This video is so great. I like the 1940s Hollywood/Man Ray look and feel of this. And, as per usual, Shirley Manson is tearing it up! 

30 July 2012

The Band That Made Madison Famous

I remember watching this video during the 1998-1999 school year when I was living in New York and depressed. I just loved this song. It's kind of bitchin' and melancholy at the same time.

Another Garbage memory that sticks in my head is staying near the old Community Mercantile location in Lawrence with some alternaboy named Tim and his roommate in 1996. I was sitting on the porch thinking I wanted to see the "Stupid Girl" video.

I have yet to meet a woman who is not like, "Shirley Manson!! Call me and we'll go buy eyeliner or something, girl!" Ok. I guess that's one cool thing about living in Madison; I saw her at the now-defunct Cafe Montmartre. Unfortunately, I looked a steaming hot mess at the time. Manson, of course, looked very cool and UK-y.

So, I am looking forward to seeing and reviewing Garbage August 9.

29 July 2012

This Goes Out to Laurie Steed (Jellyfish)

How cute are they?
This is a post about Jellyfish, the film directed by--it's on; I'm gonna say it!--artsy Israeli power couple No. 1 Shira Geffen and Etgar Keret. An added bonus: both appear in the film. So does their then-baby son. And Keret's father, may he rest.

Australian writer, editor, and Bell Biv Davoe enthusiast Laurie Steed was the first classmate I met during the 2012 three-week. When I mentioned I was interested in Israeli film, he told me he wanted to see Jellyfish. I was, of course, aware of this Camera-d'Or-snagging picture, but my attitude was one of getting  around to it, like, when I got around to it. But when I was in  Four Star Video Heaven on Friday afternoon, it was calling to me from its shelf.

I decided to watch this movie because Keren Yedaya's Jaffa seemed a little, I don't know, קשה for a Friday night. Oy! I didn't know what I was in for. Obviously.  I've remarked in the past few months that films didn't make me cry, but rather books did. I thought of having said this as tears started stinging my eyes as I watched Jellyfish.

The power of this film is in its female relationships. Admittedly, this is kind of a real big duh because there are three female protagonists in Jellyfish. I felt tenderly toward wedding reception waitress Batya, who experienced a generalized existential dislocation and inertia, and especially related to the way her childhood memories of abandonment bore upon her there's-no-there-there relationship with her parents. And for me, the scene between Galia the actress and her mother was pivotal. As I cried, making this sharp, inhaling sound I don't recall ever having made, I thought, This is a film speaking to and for Xers and women. I wonder what the directors, especially Geffen, would say about that.

I'll be thinking about Jellyfish, especially the metaphor of the mute girl who comes from the sea, in the future. Overall, it was sad and beautiful. (So, you gotta see it, mate.)

27 July 2012

Oh, Disco

When Greg and I were hanging out last month, we got to talking about music. Which, actually, is typical of our interactions. Having come of age in the 1990s, I just never got electronic music out of my system. I love some trip-hop and I don't care who knows.

I like the deep, soulful, bass-y stuff. Because, to me, music should facilitate--if not exist exclusively for--dancing. I'm just not generous enough to give the DJ 30 seconds or more to get the song moving--to get me moving. Do not come at me with something cold or metallic. 

So, there we were hanging out, and Greg mentions liking Offer Nissim's work. And I'm like, "What? How do you know who Offer Nissim is? Are we talking about the same person??" I had come across his name earlier this spring when I was bingeing on Ivri Lider tracks. Ok. I guess it's sort of not weird to have heard of an Israeli DJ, but it's more unusual than having heard of a, let's say, Dutch DJ. 

Last week I saw this remix Offer Nissim had done of Ivri Lider's band TYP's song "20 Seconds." 
So, in honor of Greg, I posted it above.

26 July 2012

Mazel Tov, Israel

Having listened to this track a few times, I have this masterful, incisive bit of music crit to share: sweet, sweet hook.

Update for my music nerds: per Ivri Lider, this song was written by himself and young Johnny Goldstein, with some programming by Goldstein. Yoad Nevo produced. TYP will be appearing in Montreal in early August. So far, though, no word of shows in the U.S. Boo!

18 July 2012

Kibbutz. Dance. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Now seems like it's time to show Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company some love. (There's room in my heart for several Israeli dance companies.) I saw them in Madison several years ago and loved them. They have what is apparently called a dance village, about which you can watch this video.

If you're like me, there's never a bad time to watch a man dance in a dress or skirt.

17 July 2012


Oh, you know your lady indie music? You like how I did that there?

Another remix of Mathangi's song, another draft of a poem what I wrote.

Cool Girl

Cute knees

Her ride is a bike you left that note on trying to buy

Black sneakers, no socks

She signifies
Passionate about an obscure cinema

(Lived in New York)

Namechecking bands she knows you don't know

Interdisciplinary master's degree

Has given away the drummer's set list cuz she only needed it for a review of the show

But she'll dump you for your dad in the end

12 July 2012

I,You,He,She,We,They,It KlezKamp

Klezmer and kamp? How could anyone resist?!

KlezKamp Madison will feature local darlings Yid Vicious, who blew my mind when I saw for the first time yesterday. I did look for a song of theirs to post, but I didn't find anything on SoundCloud. So, looking for media to post, I recalled seeing some glamorous-looking band in Time Out Tel Aviv from London. Oi Va Voi, of course! And, no, your eyes do not deceive you! That is a black chick up in the klezmer band! The breakdown is crayzay, so this is the klezmer media I picked for this post.

I am very excited about KlezKamp, which, in the interest of full disclosure, I must mention I will be working for. Another admission is that I had feelings of wariness about klezmer. I'm not sure why. I'd heard some tunes by the Klezmatics before that I really liked. Maybe the clarinet and tuba thing? I'm not sure. But, this is Wisconsin. I didn't know from tubas? Perhaps what has allayed my fears is the way musicians are hybridizing and riffing on klezmer. Shoot, I bet Janelle Monae busts out some klezmer samples on everybody next time you turn around.

KlezKamp, July 22 at the Pyle Center, is free! Register here for the chance to win fabulous prizes! Should be good times, mind-blowing musicianship, Yiddishkeit, and folk culture, y'all.

08 July 2012

Lost City

Ok, it's perhaps a little late to be talking about the Lost City Music Festival. But better late than never. And, hey, there's a bowling tournament this afternoon and more shows at a yet, to me, unknown time and location.

Nothing says summer like a music festival, amirite? I was at Project Lodge for the music business talk done by Martin Atkins, a British drummer who rather liberally larded his presentation with all permutations of the word "fuck."  What he seemed to be saying was, Go about your life and make friends and do your creative stuff and have fun and let your friends know about it and be smart and strategic and creative in your thinking and how you go about things to get where you want to go. I found it odd that for a minute, I was really. Truly. The only person with two X chromosomes. Up in that piece. I was like, WTF? WTF? WTF?

Croaker kicked of LCMF at ProLo. There were seven people onstage. The guitar player was really good. I wondered what the deal was with the keyboard dude's amp. I wondered why the drummer wasn't playing with regular sticks. She looked like she was having a good time, but why the jazz swizzles? Maybe because ProLo was too small for her attack with regular sticks? Their set was good, but it was so hot in the venue that I had to bounce.

You can still make the bowling tournament. And maybe the grillout.

30 June 2012

26 June 2012

Kiss My First Draft

Pele’s hair is a cloud of smoke and ashes 

Burning because she is burned 

She chillin on her mountaintop 
blowin out her fro 
waitin for her girls to show up 
Lillith be late—
this time because her new man is in his 20s
 he Palestinian and he fiiiine; she ain’t even try to keep it dl— 
but everybody wait cuz she make the best salads 
Kali Ma and Erzulie be on the porch braiding hair 
La Malinche making vegan bibimbop and collard greens 
cuz her mama black and Korean but don’t hardly nobody know it 
Corn Woman don’t never cut off her phone, honey, cuz her people need her 
Doing nails and listening to M.I.A. and Grace Jones and Fiona Apple waiting for dinner

The boys come to Pele 
Honestly, that girl just tryna finish her art degree 
Boys be like, “Hey, girl!” and “Pele, baby!” 

Chile, nobody aint th’owin nobody into no volcanoes 
That’s some mess somebody mama started when Pele broke up with her son 
and he killed hisself

23 June 2012

Greg and I Need A Poetry Party

Greg and I went to the museum today and I got all het up over the Ben Shahn in the show. We stayed near the downtown this afternoon, stopping at Graze for nibbles and a chat, then going to Context. Greg likes Context; I liked the jeans, but found it a bit sportif. We ended up at Barriques talking about poetry.

Greg and I have spoken of doing a radio show. (Perhaps this stems from an evening at the bar next to Hamburg Inn after dinner at Pagliai's in Iowa City. Greg and I sat next to each other intermittently identifying hits from our high school years.) I realize we need a writing group, as well. (Duh?)

I have been emailing Greg first drafts from my rock star series all day. (He, in turn, has sent me his oh, sheila piece.) I am going out on a limb and including "Aviv Geffen" below.

(Haiku mix)
Swallowed fricatives
Give me blowback mouth-to-mouth
What’d all that mean, love?

(A Little Wanton mix)
Swallowed fricatives
Enjoy the blowback mouth-to-mouth
What were you saying all that time anyway, love?

(Ivrit mix)
Hot oil fricatives
Pass your soul mouth-to-mouth,
then the blowback

22 June 2012


I think it would be cool to screen movies from Israel-Palestine in some semi-official capacity in Madison. Thus, I am making an effort to learn more about Palestinian film, so this is a good place to start. However, I would be misrepresenting myself if I didn't cop to posting the trailer for Habibi because I find Kais Nashif attractive.

Habibi screened last weekend in New York during the Human Rights Film Festival. It screens in Melbourne early next month during the Arab Film Festival Australia.

I Bet You Were a Hofesh Schecter Fan Before Everyone Started Liking Him

Where would I be without Gregory Grube, high priest of the Pilates-promulgating poets? My spine and I would be out in a howling wilderness of ignorance, that's where.

Just this afternoon he dropped this science. I had never heard of Hofesh Schechter. Oy, is my face hot with embarrassment! Schechter is a former Batsheva dancer--which was pretty obvious from watching the clip above--based in London. With his own company.

Which will apparently be at the Walker this fall.

20 June 2012

I Remember When He Was the Coolest Guy On Earth

I hadn't watched this video in over 20 years. Intriguing and incredibly heart-breaking.

Obviously, a sick, mind-blowing video. Even though it was released during the high tide of grunge, this blew everyone's mind. You can watch this video endlessly. I find that, though MJ was already in decline, I can still get goosebumps watching him dance.

The video is insanely brilliant marketing, but the song itself is also pop genius. The groove is, simply, historic. I didn't realize until today that the lyrics include, appropriately, "Stop fucking with me."

13 June 2012

This Is A Poem By Greg

I met Greg the first day of the three-week. The poets had invited the fiction writers to Ye Olde Fox Head. Far and away the best time I had ever had there, I sat talking with the poets and Galvin, their fearless leader.

I was sitting on the aisle, and Greg was sitting on my left. It emerged that he was a dancer and taught Pilates. I was like, "Where do you teach Pilates?" because I had wanted to take Pilates all this past school year. When he told me, I realized I recognized him; I had perused that venue's website and had seen his photo. And his now-defunct Pilates blog.

We talked about dance, and it must be said that too much of my end of the conversation entailed me gushing about Batsheva, themostoriginalamazingdancecompanyinthewholeentireworld.

I was flattered when Greg emailed me a short poem the next day. Here it is:

She was born a Rothschild
End of story

02 June 2012


I could be like, Batsheva is sickinsanewhatistheword!!? But that's quite evident.

28 May 2012

Get Me (Em)Bodied

I've had a streak of completely brilliant days since Friday. I had fun running around doing errands for the salon, Aunt Patty talking me back from the brink of the abyss of having--count 'em!--three cakes.

On Saturday, my running around consisted of shopping. I was riding my bike down Davenport thinking about how interacting with the creativity of others is so extremely expanding and just, you know, the shit. I run into Design Ranch, and Chris and Gary are practically holding salon with this artist doyenne Sally. She talks about the work her artist daughter does. It's so interesting, you know, to find out the things other people think of and to refract that in some way. On the way out, she was telling me how when she first moved to Iowa City it was important that this was a place where women could be independent and do their work. I pictured these 1950s-coiffed women spending their Iowa City summers in sandals and Mexican dresses, scarves around their heads, painting, making sculptures; riding their bicycles; having their affairs and smoking their cigs. I leave DR and go to the co-op. I am crossing Iowa Ave on my bike and I think of Suzy Stumo. I'm on the dairy aisle in the co-op picking a yogurt, and this woman with this wonderful head of hacked, bleached hair says something to me. I am always in the world in my head--so, I come out of it for a sec to pay attention to this woman. And would you believe it's La Stumo? I totally googled her, like, earlier this month. Riding my bike home from a barbecue that night, I felt so present, so here.  I wouldn't have wanted to be anyone else for the entire world.

Yesterday I'm having lunch with Alan after a morning run and delectable pop music. And Alan is talking about the heart's magnetic field. I have to sit there like, Ohmygodohmygod. Dancers, youknowwhatImean? If you don't have some, get them in your life.

Fortunately, there's a poetry-slinging dancer who lives in Madison here for Galvin's three-week. His name is Greg. He is working with Paxton now. Greg has been encouraging me to come back to the fold. And it's like, Yes, I do need/want to be more connected; this past semester I completely ignored my corporeal self. Like, body? Who has one of those? So, meeting Greg is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

And I completely cannot wait for the Heymann Brothers film Ohad to be done.This film so obviously needs to be screened in Iowa City. This is a dance town.

I leave you with Tony Orrico, whom I happened to google this past school year. Because who can forget Tony Orrico? Dude is a star now. And he's in Iowa City again. Tony was in the improv class I took from Alan 10.5 (!) years ago. I'm so, so glad we all shared it.

24 May 2012

אנחנו אוהבים את אתגר פה בארצות הברית

Photo by Getty.

If your 'brew is rusty, the title translates: "We love Etgar here in the U.S." Because everyone does.

I bought Suddenly at Prairie Lights earlier this week. He said yes to my interviewing him for Rain Taxi. I first interviewed Etgar in Iowa City at the Hamburg Inn in 2001. I remember reading "Ha Ben Shel Rosh Ha Mossad" in preparation for the interview. Or was it called "The Son of the Head of the Mossad" in the English edition I had?

A real big shot, that one, and still such a nice guy.

21 May 2012

Black. Gay. Jewish.

Black, gay, and Jewish--so, honey, you know it's on. My three, like, favorite adjectives/demographic categories. I was seriously getting hung up about which order to put them in, so I just went with alphabetical.

Oh, and this cat has skillz. And a Hasid as hype man.

19 May 2012

D.I.S.C.O., Biscuits

Here's the second installment of the D.I.S.C.O. dance lesson featuring the multi-talented, ever-lovely, absolutely hilarious Uriel Yekutiel.

15 May 2012

Is This Heaven? No, It's Iowa.

Photo by G. Bergland
Today was the first day of class! Two people came from Australia; one person came from India. (The person who came from India, through CouchSurfing, connected with the guest room of the brother of the best friend of this guy I once dated, of course.) Like a kindergartener during storytime, I was stoked to get to sit next to ZZ.

It's been an awesome day! We decided to meet for four hours, rather than three. Classmates read aloud (awesome!) stuff they'd written during an in-class exercise.

Later on, at ye olde Fox Head, I had a really good time--surely the first time that has ever happened. (A gregarious poet in Galvin's workshop invited us fiction writers.) I asked the bartender if they had chocolate milk. I was kidding, but, dang, that would've really hit the spot. I had two Shirley Temples instead. I enjoyed some really good conversations both with my fiction writer colleagues and with the poets about Euro zone policy, dance, poetry, books. I talked with James Galvin about his cows in Wyoming, Antioch, and stringed instruments. The best friend's brother even made an appearance avec his unspeakably adorable border collie puppy.

Then I rode my bike home feeling great. What an interesting bunch of people! I have no doubt a poetry night or wine tasting is in the offing.

14 May 2012

What Would Margaret Walker Do?

I am posting from a very cozy writer's dream of an attic in Iowa City. All eaves and wooden furniture. Classical music programmed by Iowa Public Radio drifts from the clock radio on the bedside table. Other comforts include a claw-foot bathtub and two (!) sunrooms. This, my friends, is what's referred to as the life.

I arrived yesterday. Before I left Wisconsin, I finished the eponymous story from  Nathan Englander's latest book. What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank is one of three books I brought with me. The other two are Her Body Knows by David Grossman, which I'd been promising myself for a bit, and Dalia Sofer's Septembers of Shiraz, which was one of the books my colleague Saideh Jamshidi recommended. I'm nearly 150 pages into it and like, Yalla. Can we get to something interesting already? I should mention that Saideh's recommendation was in response to my email asking her to recommend a primer of sorts on Iranian culture. This is oh, so germane because two main characters in my embryonic novel are of Persian Jewish heritage.

Today I ran several errands, stopping at the Dey House in the early afternoon. It's quite impressive. In the Frank Conroy Reading Room (!), I met one of my classmates-to-be. He came from Australia, turns out. He's jet- lagged, for goodness sake. Jet-lagged! We had a chat, which was very nice. He told me about what a literary city Melbourne is. I dimly recall it being another UNESCO City of Literature (comme Iowa City) from skulking around the NWP website a while back. My interest was definitely piqued. Laurie made Melbourne sound like very much a place to visit. He asked me what my interests were. I replied, Israeli film. Oh, said he, I don't know much about Israeli film, but there's one in particular I mean to watch. Oh, which one? (Because it's not like there are Israeli films I've never heard of, right?) Well, Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen's Jellyfish, as it were. There in the Frank Conroy Reading Room, I bounced on the sofa and clapped my hands maniacally. You know what? I met him here. In 2001. I interviewed him at the Hamburg Inn.

A few days ago I was thinking, No one ever really leaves Iowa City. Once you've lived here, you always keep just coming back around. And, unsurprisingly, those who write do believe in the Iowa City magic. Perhaps they think, Something about this place has got to bless what I'm doing. I was sitting in the vegan breakfast joint earlier today and, honestly, my stomach knotted at the thought that I'm doing my thing under the same sky as the likes of  ZZ Packer, Faith Adiele, Gish Jen, Joy Harjo, Rita Dove (!), and Margaret Walker (!!).

07 May 2012

Barak Heymann Talks

FIFDH Paris 2011 / Barak Heymann by Laboitecarree

I saw this video on the Israel Film Center site and decided to post it, too. This is Barak Heymann talking about the film he produced and directed Lone Samaritan at what English speakers refer to as the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights last year. I like listening to his voice.

I finally did my interview with Barak (yep, I'm on a first name basis with him, too) last week after a handful of near-misses. He spoke to me from his hotel room in Toronto. I got just over 30 minutes of "tape" out of it and turned around my transcription in just over 24 hours. Wow. I should start a business transcribing people's interviews...

03 May 2012

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Looking for a video of the Heymann brothers? You know I got you, baby!

I tweeted this earlier this semester--but please find enclosed their appearance on Al Jazeera's The Fabulous Picture Show from last year. Start watching around 9:50.

01 May 2012

My Novel Has A Sorta Playlist

I cannot hear this song without picturing Tel Aviv in my mind. Fugees were enormous when I was there. Which was obviously geologic ages ago. And I still have not given up on finding the remix of "Fugee-La" I heard coming out of someone's car as I was waiting for the number 25 bus one evening.

At any rate, this is the definitive version of "Ready Or Not" for my money. (Yeah, I did take a few media/comm studies classes, if you're asking.) 

I've found that I've been compiling a list of songs for my novel. This is an imprecise process. By that, I mean that I use songs to inspire or create a mood as I write and also I imagine my characters listening to or playing or thinking about these songs. A sorta playlist.

For your delectation, a haphazardly curated mini-list of songs:

No Ordinary Love
Video Games (TYP version)
Talk To Me

30 April 2012

Ivri Lider On the Semi-Regular

Video accompanying Cornell Daily Sun's story about Ivri Lider from earlier this month. Like, who? What? Ivri Lider just happened to be around Ithaca, NY in late March?? Well, that's nice...

28 April 2012

My Personal Experience with Vitamin P

Last week I was talking to my boyfriend about some aspect of Israeli society and I mentioned protekzia, commonly known as Vitamin P. My boyfriend is like, What's that? What's protekzia? So, I told him this story...

Last winter, I was interviewing for an internship at a Wisconsin publication that shall remain nameless...unless you happen to ask me. The interview was like, Oh, ehhhh, even before it started. I arrived and was immediately condescended to by the receptionist; the interviews were running late; some office dude would be sitting in on my interview with the hiring manager--as if I weren't nervous enough to make a good impression; and the hiring manager was, let us say, a bit frosty. I think everyone knows the feeling of an interview intractably, intractably, going south...to the Bermuda Triangle of lost causes. Right? So, I was getting that feeling. But doggedly, doggedly, I kept trying to stay optimistic and maybe pull off some kind of turnaround.

Then, I was showing the hiring manager a piece I'd written for Bitch. And the hiring manager was like, "How'd you get published in Bitch magazine?" And I just did not like her tone. By that point, I was like, This isn't going well. I don't think I'm getting this internship. And then I had a stroke of inspiration for answering her question. "There's this word in Hebrew," I drawled. "Protekzia. It means 'connections.'" (This did rather distill the process of that piece's publication pretty neatly.) Some office dude sitting in on my interview let out a little bark of laughter. The hiring manager, however, was not nearly as amused.

Recounting this vignette aloud to last week, I was like: "Omigod, I actually said that." Quel chutzpah! But sometimes, truly, if you've got it, you flaunt it.

27 April 2012

Uriel Yekutiel Rules

Wow, he's such a star!

DiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorules DiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorulesDiscorules

26 April 2012

Barak Heymann Is My Brightest Diamond

This guy can produce (and direct!) the hell out of a movie.

Sun, Apr 22
Me: Shalom, Barak! This is Courtney. Can I call you in the next hour? 6:02PM
Barak Heymann: Sure! I am free now 10:02PM
Me: Yay! I'll call you in 10 minutes, ok? :-> 10:06PM
Me: Hey, let's talk tomorrow, ok? I'm 2hrs ahead of PDX, so my ass needs to get to bed. :-> Tomorrow afternoon or evening? Nice to meet you! Courtney 11:23PM

Israeli film producer-director Barak Heymann--son of Noa, brother of Tomer, the youngest Heymann--has been in the United States since last week, so I have been trying to reach him on his cell phone for an interview for my Israeli film story. I spoke with his brother Tomer Heymann last month. I did talk to Barak for a hot minute shortly after 10PM this past Sunday, but the connection was bad. So, he said he'd call me back.

Then, for an hour, I was the paragon of the good reporter: I actually started transcribing the interview I'd done earlier that day with Israeli film scholar Miri Talmon. By far, it was the easiest transcription I've ever done in my life. (Note: Reporters never think that.) It just flowed. I think Dr. Talmon may be my intellectual soulmate.

My story starts from the unsurprising premise that Israeli film can tell us a lot about Israeli society. There are many reasons to learn more about Israeli society: it has a fascinating sociocultural and linguistic history; gaining understanding about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the country is an important ally to the U.S.; and for those on the Jewish Studies tip, it's a homeland. Though, Israelis will tell you their country is a problematic place.

Israeli film has been getting hot for, like, the past ten years. (Throw your hands up if you saw Late Marriage!) Israel's entries have been short-listed for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film every year except 2011 for the past six consecutive years. Though an Israeli has yet to take home a statuette, this is obviously a win-win situation.

Weds, Apr 25
Me: How are you? Can I call you in an hour? How late will you be up this evening? 5:57PM
Barak Heymann: Best to call me now I guess 7:15PM

So, why is Israeli cinema bubbling up just now? In the volume she co-edited Israeli Cinema: Identities in Motion, Miri Talmon wrote: "The demand for authenticity of experience represented in recent Israeli films, and for a critique of Israeli history which is rooted in biographically invested fictional worlds, is one of the reasons for the unprecedented success of Israeli films both in Israel and in worldwide film festivals."

Israeli society has been changing since the 1990s, Dr. Talmon says in real time. She identified the peace process and the emergence of Israeli suburbia and television with a "privatization" in the culture. Throughout its history, in other words, Israel was necessarily very focused on the national and, as Dr. Talmon puts it "collective" project of being--to the neglect, it might be said, of the personal. People are increasingly unwilling to do that now.

Isaac Zablocki, the director of the Israel Film Center in Manhattan says: "Israel has become more universal. Israel's story has matured a little bit." Also that: "Israel has grown confident with its own culture" in the past ten years, "develop[ing] its own themes." And a cinema "speaking in [its] own language," as Zabocki calls it, is much more compelling to audiences the world over.

Tomer Heymann's movies like I Shot My Love and The Queen Has No Crown are incredibly personal, yet, to me, they relay critical codes about a culture that can seem very difficult to breach for outsiders. Which is why I'm trying to get hold of his film-producing and -directing little brother.

Thurs, Apr 26
Barak Heymann: Do you want to talk in 20 min. Maybe? I will be free and relaxed.. 2:34PM 
Me: Um. Ok. I can do that. 2:55PM 

(Note: It is true that I often include material for my own geeky amusement [e.g. this post's title]--one of whose side effects is that my co-nerds will spot what I've done and, perhaps, enjoy a little bit of tee-hee-hee. Allow me to explain that, in fulfillment of an assignment for Deborah Blum's J880 class, this post is a "diamond narrative" and I wish to court goodwill by making said post as easily identifiable as possible; Heymann rhymes with diamond; and My Brightest Diamond is a band on the Asthmatic Kitty label.)