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