Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Involvement in TEN the Movie: a Love Story

While I was at Kripalu Yoga Center this August, my friends Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola sent me an email telling me they were considering launching a Kickstarter (their first, though they've recorded and released tons of albums of music). Michael had mentioned before that he was a big fan of B movies, and he had always dreamed of one day trying his hand at writing and directing a feature film. "I wouldn't want to do it unless I could do it right though," he'd said. "I'd want to pay everyone at least a little bit, and I'd only want to work with brilliant people." 

Before they launched their Kickstarter, they asked a handful of artists they'd worked with before if we would be involved. The email I received at Kripalu asked, basically, if I would be interested and available to act in their film in December if they made their Kickstarter goal. Michael, Sophia, Karin Webb, Rachel Leah Blumenthal, Susannah Plaster and I all blocked out a nine-day period in December when we could be available. The pay promised was a modest $500. Enough to help us pay our rent during that time, but definitely not much for the amount of time or work involved. Of course, money was not the reason any of us said yes. The payment was simply practical. It made it possible for us, full-time artists and/or freelancers, to do the work necessary to make the film.

I was 
on top of a mountain lost in yogaland about twelve hours a day at that point, but I always loved making art with Michael and Sophia, so I said "Sure. If you raise the money, I'll be there." I wasn't sure they'd make their goal, and didn't give it all that much thought until I returned to Boston in September. Two weeks after I settled back in, they passed their goal. We were making a feature film, and we had less than three months to come up with a full cast, crew, location, props, and a script. 

I knew they were working with Sarah Wait Zarenek already to write the script, but since I am, by trade and profession, a writer, I let them know that I'd be happy to offer any assistance I could in the writing process. "I'm especially good at character and dialogue," I told them, which is true. I'm not much on plots, but for whatever reason, character and dialogue have always come easy to me.

At first, they were a bit cagey. "Mike's got the last word," said Sophia. MJE said he would "accept input at some point," but warned me himself that he was a "control freak." I told them that control freaks are my favorite type of people to work with.

A couple of days later Sophia asked if I'd like to come over and go through what they had of the script. I came over on a Tuesday night after a friend's book release party at about 8:30PM. We started going through the dialogue, and what was at first somewhat cautious proffering soon became all of us laughing hysterically as we argued over synonyms and alliteration and followed wild tangents about identity and the Self. The next thing I knew, it was 7AM, and we'd gotten through about 2/3rds of the script. "I'm adding your name as a co-writer," said Michael. "Can you come back on Friday?"

I would come over three more times over the next two months, and we would eat pumpkin noodles, vegan chocolate chip cookies, and write until the wee hours. It was one of the most fun writing experiences of my life, and a perfect collaboration. They had already mapped out the plot and the themes, so I could come in and do what I love the most -- give the characters voices. 

Simultaneously, Michael and Sophia were busy casting the film and securing the location, an old Gatsby-esque beach mansion in Rhode Island which we began referring to as the TEN Mansion. 

It didn't hit me that it was actually happening until I arrived in a car with Karin Webb, Leah Principe, and Porcelain Dalya on Thursday, December 6th at the TEN Mansion. As I walked through the 15+ bedroom home and realized I was going to be living there for the next eight days creating a movie I helped to write with artists I loved and respected, I couldn't stop muttering, "I can't believe this is my life." 

This is not the place for me to go into details about TEN Mansion anecdotes. That will come after the movie's released -- then the memories will have some context for other people. (For now, you can see a ton of interviews, recipes, memories, and lip-synching videos from our experience at the official TEN the Movie website.) Suffice it to say, it was literally the hardest thing I've ever done. The whole cast and crew was on their feet and working between 20-22 hours a day. We took catnaps. We ate standing up in the kitchen. We unwound at 7AM with hot toddies and exhausted laughter. As I write this from my parents' house in Indianapolis where I'm visiting for Christmas, I have a nasty cold that I came down with a couple days after I got back. But it was more than worth it. We filmed a movie I'm proud of in ten days (there was an extra day on each end not filmed at the mansion). It was the hardest thing I've ever done, but also one of the most deeply rewarding experiences of my life. 

Here's a blog MJE wrote about the cost breakdown of the film's production. While the final cost of the movie is nothing compared to what studios spend, I think the finished product will look and feel like a much higher budget endeavor. That's because this project was funded more by love than by money. Every single person believed in the dream, and worked absurdly long and hard hours for very little compensation to make it happen. People exhibited superhuman stamina and abilities -- talents and skills came out of nowhere when they were needed. It was the artistic version of those moms who lift Subarus off their infants. 

We all wanted to make this happen. When people would inevitably break down in tears because of sheer physical exhaustion, the community gathered around to support them and help them through. No one lashed out at others in their moments of break down. The attitude was always, "How do I get through this rough part to make this project happen as best I can?" It was the most inspiring thing I've ever seen. It was what can happen when a group of brilliant people believe in something enough to put its realization before their individual egos. A testament to the creative spirit and to The Boston Collectivist Movement.

I fell in love with the cast, crew and the process of creating TEN. It's a part of me, and I'm a part of it. I will always be connected to it, and I couldn't be happier. And this is just the beginning. Now that MJE is editing the film and Catherine Capozzi is working on the score, I'm beginning work on the novel version of the film. Yes, you read that right. I'm spending the rest of my winter writing TEN, the novel! It's going to be released alongside the film as a supplement, but also as a stand-alone work. The story will be the same, but it will go into the themes, characters, background, and plot in more depth. I'm so excited to be able to write this and offer it along with the film. I am one lucky human being.

TEN is going to have a life of its own, and I can't wait to watch it grow. I feel like it's a child our entire Collectivist community had and is raising together.

I'll be blogging here about the novel-writing process and other TEN-related happenings. You can also check the official website ( for other updates. We will never stop.

Thank you, beautiful community. Thank you. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Boston Collectivist Movement

I'm an artist living in Boston, Massachusetts. For the past four years, I've been lucky enough to work with some of this city's most brilliant creators. I've written books, performed poetry, recorded albums of folk and hip-hop, done Vaudeville, drag, and improv, modeled for photographers and painters, organized and/or performed in countless variety shows, and am now starring in a feature film I helped to write.

All of these projects fall under the misleading blanket term, "independent art." The irony is that so-called "independent art" is more dependent on (and integral to) its community than any mainstream media. Mainstream media is funded by independently wealthy institutions such as record labels or publishing houses. Independent art, or as we're calling it, Collectivist art, is sustained by its value within its community.

If you'd asked me fifteen years ago if I thought any of these projects would be possible without some serious mainstream financial backing, I would have answered with a gloomy laugh of resignation. But over the past fifteen years, the internet happened and the stock market crashed, and suddenly we're not so sure we need or want any big institutions telling us how we should and can make art. 

So we started making it any way we could. We connected with other people who were passionate and brilliant and crazy enough to stay up all night memorizing The Ballad of Reading Gaol or gluing glitter onto pig-masks or driving back from a show two states away when they had work the next morning. Everyone had day-jobs or were in grad school or were freelance web-developers or graphic designers or were on unemployment. We were all tired all the time, but we were making the art that we wanted to make, and slowly but surely, we were finding people who wanted to read/listen to/look at that art. 

Somewhere in our mid-twenties, or late-twenties, or early-thirties, we all realized that we needed to redefine what we meant by the word "success." When we thought success meant a million-dollar record deal and an episode of Cribs, we were miserable. When we decided success meant, "I create work I care about with people I love and respect, and it's routinely received by an audience that appreciates it," we realized we were the happiest people in the world. 

So we made. And we realized as we continued to connect with other crazy, brilliant creators that so much more was possible through working with one another than locking ourselves in our rooms watching Cribs and pounding out yet another solipsistic manifesto. I know nothing about photoshop, but Caleb does. Jojo plays the ukulele and draws Mucha-esque portraits. Michael and Sophia can write a theme song to anything, and they have a recording studio in their house. Eric can whip up a Mayan Doomsday mask on a moment's notice out of dental floss and old tires. Karin can play any character. Any. Character. If someone needs a snappy bit of dialogue or a pantoum based on Elton John's Rocketman, they call me.

Most of our work for each other is done for free, or for very little money. If we were making more money off our art, we would pay more, and on the rare, unpredictable occasions when one of our projects does turn out to be financially lucrative, we share the wealth as best we can.

But money is simply a useful cultural metaphor for value, and the value we derive from working with one another is not primarily financial. Again, it's the experience of creating work that moves us with people who share the same vision, and the luxury of being able to put that work into the world and watch it move others. 

Cooperative collaboration between artists is not a new phenomenon, but during the mid-to-late twentieth century, when hyper-consumerist capitalism was slapping its dick over everything in America, artists suddenly got the idea that in order to call themselves Artists, they needed to make a shit-ton of money off their art, like The Beatles or Andy Warhol. Making art without serious (and ultimately spurious) financial backing was considered futile at best and amateurish at worst, and this served to isolate and disempower unfunded artists. But the model of one-to-many wealth came crashing down with the one-to-many model of the media. The type of wealth and fame amassed by The Beatles and Andy Warhol was an anomalous symptom of the way media and money worked at that particular moment in history.

Kickstarter is a concomitant financial manifestation of community-driven Collectivist art. The modern Collectivist artist is not a gallon of homogenized, hormoned milk shipped from some distant factory farm. She is a juicy Heirloom tomato nestled in a CSA box. She takes on the flavor of the soil she grows in, and nourishes the community that planted and sustained her. 

The most interesting thing about the current highlighting of collaborative, community-supported art is it aligns with a shift away from faith in the notion of the individual author in a larger cultural context. With Wikipedia, blog sharing, Tumblr, and Facebook, the old belief that an individual could own their ideas is dissolving. We're seeing how interrelated, and interdependent, and derivative we really are. Unbound by of the shackles of "originality," we're free to simply create. 

I've been invited into this weird, wonderful world of Collectivist art where we don't focus on who wrote which part of what song or whose fishnets those are. We step in where we can contribute, and are happy to step back and watch when it serves the art. Our very identities are fluid and intentionally donned to fulfill certain roles within our artistic community. Sometimes it feels like we've all melted together and are each merely embodied aspects of the work. 

That's okay. Better, even. I started making art at six because I felt lonely and isolated in my skin. I would rather be a part of something bigger than me than be myself alone.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My New Urban Annex: Gertrude Stein Meets Ganesh

In this edition of Jade's Slow But Undeniable Progression Through Adulthood, I have moved to a super-cool grownup apartment.

It has everything I've ever dreamed of. In addition to being a short walk from both Central and Harvard Squares, it features:

1) Freaking roof access.

Photo: Roof.

2) An office for writing and teaching private writing lessons and writing workshops.

Photo: Office ii

3) Room for all of my books.

Photo: Office iii

4) Space to practice and teach private yoga lessons.

Photo: New office

5) A spot for Ganesh to chill in some Christmas lights.

Photo: New place

It's like all my midwestern adolescent dreams of moving to the city are coming true. It only took six years of back-breaking work!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Madame Psychosis's Beef with Michael J. Epstein's Mustache

You may not be aware of this, but my hip-hop side project, Madame Psychosis, has beef with Boston-based musician Michael J. Epstein's Mustache.

It all started here when Madame Psychosis realized Michael J. Epstein's Mustache had more likes on Facebook than she did.

She did what any rational being would do and destroyed him in rhyme.

Then Michael J. Epstein's Mustache produced this response. Of course it was obvious he was hiding behind flashy special effects and the two hot women he somehow convinced to be in this video.

Here is the latest from a newly cranially-shorn Madame P, in which she names all of the historical mustaches she can think of that are better than Michael J. Epstein's. There are a lot and they all rhyme.

We'll see what he has to say to that!

The beef itself has a Facebook Fanpage. Liking it is good for everybody.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

My Summer in Somerhouse

Somerhouse is a beautiful apartment in Davis Square, Somerville, MA, rented by the creator of Amethyst Arsenic Lit Journal for the summer of 2012. The project is based around the idea that art is created best in a community of mutual respect and support, and the best work comes out of real friendship and camaraderie among groups of artists. 

In this spirit, Somerhouse will have regular salons, workshops, and open office hours where our community can gather, be inspired, and create together. 

"Somerhouse is about contributing to our extended creative family. We make meals. We have drinks. We share our music, poetry, and performance in an intimate, comfortable, safe space. We treat everyone like friends. We entertain and inspire each other. We invite people who will contribute to a positive experience for everyone. It's ephemeral for a season, but we hope what we've done will resonate and leave those who've been a part of it with something to take away and pay forward.- Samantha Milowsky, Somerhouse creator

For a full schedule of events, click here.

And the best part of all (for me) is I get to live here as the Artist in Residence. That sounds super fancy and big-kid, but what it means is I get a real place to myself for a few months to work, work, work. After years of living in tiny rooms in shared housing, this is an unbelievable blessing. I sat there on the first night and almost started crying. 

Check out the glory of the kitchen, living room, and my bedroom. The floors are so beautiful and smooth I wish I could press all the surfaces of my body into the boards at once.

And look, a real office where I can sit at an actual desk with my books around me and write. No more hunching over my laptop in bed, at least for the next couple of months.

And this is where I get to eat my oatmeal every morning. My friend Sam Cha and I saw an albino squirrel this afternoon from this very spot. For real, this place is magic.

The first salon was last Saturday. It was exactly what we'd hoped for. A houseful of creative, positive people meeting, sharing food and drink, performing, and making. I am in love with my creative community in Boston. Right now, I am the luckiest person in the world.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pictures from my Pacific Northwest Tour

I got back from tour a little more than a week ago, and I'm moving apartments this week (I'm an Artist in Residence! -- more about this later). Therefore, in lieu of a detailed recap of my Pacific Northwest Tour, here are some pictures from my iPhone.

Wreck Beach in Vancouver. It was about 65 degrees. That did not preclude the obligatory three 60+ white male hippies from taking full advantage of the beach's clothing optional policy.

You never see these old cars on the East Coast. They were all over in the PNW.

View from the bus from Seattle to Spokane

Seattle microbrews. Stout fest was happening while I was in town. This did not help my god complex. (Other hand is my friend Kat from college, who now lives in Seattle and was awesome enough to take me out on my night off.)

Rise and shine. Another 8AM bus ride.

An incredible piece in a museum in Seattle. A series of rustic ceramic mugs, each one a relief of a war scene.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ladies' Room PSA

It needed to be said. In Limerick form.

I'm back in Boston! Proper Pacific North West Tour recap coming soon.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Help Jade get published with one click!

Hello friends. As I've mentioned, I'm a finalist in the Write Bloody Book Contest. If I win I'll get a full-length book of poetry published with this awesome press.

The contest is mainly judged on the manuscript, of course, but there is also a video/performance aspect based on a YouTube video and how many likes your video gets. This part is somewhat confusing and awkward, but it's 2012 and we're all trying to navigate the cah-RAYzee way the teh INTERNET is throwing our concepts of life and art in a blender.

Therefore, you can help me get published with one click! You need to like the video on YouTube, which means you need to sign in. If you don't have an account, you can make on for free or log in with your Google account.

Here is the video. If you like it, please click "like." If you want to pass it along via email, social media, etc., and let others know they can help by liking, that would also be awesome.

Thank you so much. I appreciate it more than you can know.


Monday, April 30, 2012

30 Things Every Woman Should Know Before She Turns 30

a response to the outdated, sexist, heterosexist, materialistic Huff Po repost “Turning 30: 30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know"

1. When to say no. Don’t do things that go against your beliefs, don’t buy things you don’t need, and don’t spend time with people who make you a worse person.

2. When to say yes. If you’re invited to do something new and exciting that scares you a little bit, and your first instinct is, “I wish I could, but I can’t because…,” you probably can, and should.

3. How to fake it. Sometime in your twenties, you probably thought to yourself, “Oh my god, all of these people are treating me like an adult. I hope they don’t find out that I’m just pretending and really feel the same inside as I did when I was 14 watching Sailor Moon in my basement." By 30, hopefully you’ve realized EVERYONE feels this way. There are no adults. Just children who’ve grown up.

4. How to ask yourself the Big Questions. What’s the meaning of life? Why are we here? Is there divinity? No one knows the answers to these questions, of course, but people generally tend to lead more meaningful lives if they start to think about them while their deathbed is still (hopefully) decades away.

5. How to order and drink straight whiskey. If you’re going to drink, learn how to appreciate subtlety. Pounding three PBRs in a night is sooo mid-20s. One neat 12-year-old scotch is the same price, won’t make you sloppy, and is, quite frankly, badass.

6. How to love your own smell. You have your own biology that’s not supposed to smell like a gardenia, summer rain, or an abstract concept like Obsession. Bodies are sexy. Bodies smell sexy.

7. How to discuss sex frankly with your partner(s). What you want/don't want, what you're willing to try/not willing to try, without circuitous language or giggles to hide what you actually mean.

8. How to make a tampon out of a paper napkin. Real talk.

9. When not to apologize. Female-socialization has taught us to say “I’m sorry” for existing in space. Notice how often you want to say “Sorry,” when someone asks to reach past you in a supermarket or move past to you in line. See how often you can replace it with “Sure,” “No problem,” or nothing at all.

10. How to live with other people. It’s hard to live with people, be they roommates, partners, or family. They never do anything around the house or they’re neat freaks. They’re always in the bathroom when you need to go, and they can’t freaking remember that the pots go in the cupboard under the coffee maker, but the pans get hung over the sink. These are daily opportunities to train yourself in patience and compassion. Remember, you love (or at least like) these people, and they’re thinking the same things about you.

11. How to be uncomfortable. Discomfort is part of the human experience. The people who wind up getting the most done don’t freak out every time something is unexpected or unknown. Read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Don’t panic.

12. What food makes you feel good. Gluten-free? Raw food? Caveman diet? Find what nourishes you physically, morally, and emotionally, and figure out how to sustain it.

13. How to celebrate. When you’ve done good, take the time to revel. Reveling-level should be directly proportional to degree of awesome attained.

14. How to rest. (See No. 1)

15. Which parts of youth you don’t want to leave behind. You’re probably happy to move on from keggers and unrequited love, but you might not be ready to abandon your dream of being a trapeze artist or your caffeine-addled coding all-nighters. Remember that naïve romance burning in your chest when you were 18? Lose the naïveté, keep the romance. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you have to be boring.

16. How to find clothes that fit. Buy them and get them tailored, make them, or have them made. It’s your clothes’ job to fit you, not your job to fit a mass-produced pattern.  

17. That you are not fat. Even if you are fat, you are not fat in the way the media tells you you’re fat.

18. That most of the media is trying to make you hate yourself. Advertisements, Hollywood, and heterosexist mainstream articles masquerading as empowered wisdom have one, two-part mission: to make you hate yourself so much that you will give them money hoping to make it stop. (See No. 1)

19. How to love women. Friends, mothers, sisters, girlfriends, in-laws, wives, classmates, daughters, coworkers, baristas, the reality show stars with their cellulite circled in the tabloids—notice if, enlightened as you are, you still compare yourself to them, still hate them a little bit when they’re beautiful and smart, and still feel a little twinge of schadenfreude when they fuck up. Forgive yourself, and love them even harder.

20. How to pee outside. Spread. Lift. Tilt. It’s relatively simple with practice.

21. That you can travel/go to a show/dine out alone. Go solo to a restaurant and order a full meal. Don’t bring a book or a Kindle and don’t look at your phone once. Sometime between the main course and dessert, you might run into yourself.

22. How to fix your own shit. Busted tires. Flooding toilets. That hem on your dress. Duct tape does wonders.

23. How to sell yourself. Have an updated resume easily available and know how to write an effective cover letter. Have a good, honest idea of your strengths and weaknesses. Be articulate. You’ll go far, kid.

24. That you have a choice in how you present your gender. Dress in drag. Get bikini waxes. Try on different costumes: femme daddy, butch dyke, just to see how they feel. Wear a fake mustache and high heels. Play with pronouns. Make up new ones.

25. How to turn last night’s smeared eye makeup into a charming day look. Sometimes, even as a stable adult working a job and making steady student loan payments, the night gets away from you. Whatever. You still made it to work on time. (See No. 9)

26. How to throw a proper punch. Bar brawls, creepers, and general unsavoriness happens. Own your space, and know you can defend yourself, even if you never have to.

27. How to give yourself an awesome orgasm. I recommend the scientific method. Experimentation. Trial and error. Lab coats never hurt anyone, either.

28. That it’s okay to fuck up. Every great discovery has been made through trial and error. To find what works, we need to figure out what doesn’t work. In the end, it’s all data.

29. What you like and don’t like. This can and will change. The most you can hope for is to start to figure out how to know what you like and don’t like. Here’s a hint: it probably has very little to do with what other people think.

30. How to say fuck you to anyone who tells you how you “should” be. Reject everything on this list. These are ideas a random 29-year-old came up with in her kitchen looking at Facebook and eating strawberry crepes. Make up your own list. Or don’t. You’re a fucking grownup. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

2012 Pacific Northwest Tour Dates 5/6-5/14

With all the excitement, I almost forgot I'm coming to the Pacific Northwest next week (!).

If you're around, please come see me! I will hug you even if you smell fairly bad.

5/06, poetry feature @ Thundering Word, Vancouver, Cananda

5/07, poetry feature @ Vancouver Poetry Slam, Vancouver, Canada

5/08, poetry feature @ Seattle Poetry Slam, Seattle, WA

5/09, poetry feature @ Spokane Poetry Night, Spokane, WA

5/12, poetry feature @ Eugene Poetry Slam, Eugene, OR

5/13, poetry feature @ Portalnd Poetry Slam, Portland, OR

5/14, poetry feature @ Bellingham Poetry Night, Bellingham, WA

The Siren will be there.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Steve Almond reads Jade Sylvan's Bad High School Poetry

There was something very vindicating and oddly personally healing about having my horrible, sincerely self-conscious fifteen-year-old poetry read by Steve Almond at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival's celebration of Bad Poetry. I know some version of myself wrote these words at the nadir of adolescent despair alone in her bedroom. They were shameful, secret, self-abusing, and very real. Now I can sit in the Peabody Essex Museum on a Sunday afternoon with 200 people and laugh, not at her, and not exactly with her, but at least beside her.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Write Bloody Finals: How to Compile a Poetry Manuscript in 2 Weeks

A week ago I got out of yoga to see I had a voicemail from Meaghan Ford. Meaghan and I had both been working for Mass LEAP on Louder Than A Bomb, Mass., so I assumed she was reaching out in event-related panic, but she was actually calling to tell me that we're both finalists in the 2012 Write Bloody book contest!

This contest is incredibly competitive, and I'm pleasantly surprised and honored to have made it this far. All of the other writers who I know (or know of) are staggeringly talented, and it feels great to be in their company.

We all need to turn in a manuscript of 40 poems and a YouTube video (since all WB authors are required to perform/tour) on April 30th. 

Two weeks to come up with a manuscript and video that I'm not embarrassed by? Sure, why not.

After not sleeping for three days, tossing and turning with line-edits running through my brain, I brought every non-awful poem I could find on my hard-drive over to my bff Sam Cha's house. We laid them out all over the floor and drank Old Chub while his daughters (for whom I'd brought over a cake [requested earlier via phone by Ada, age 3], and who also promptly, in frosting-induced mania, knocked the entire cake onto the floor) played the "island game," stepping and jumping between the poems as we arranged and cut and rearranged them into a whole hopefully greater than its individual parts.

tentative sections/chapters, post 6-hour chocolate cake and beer fueled ordering frenzy

Maybe it's the yoga, or maybe it's getting older, but I'm feeling pretty zen about this whole thing. No matter what, it's an honor (and encouraging) to make the Finals. I'm looking at this as a personal challenge, not a competition against other artists. I have two weeks to make what I can with what I have, something I'm proud of, that I feel represents me as an artist. It's a project, and I love projects.

One thing about the competition that makes the middle-school fat-kid in me feel a little queazy is the video component, which counts for 20% of the final score. It's rated by judges' votes, but also by how many likes it gets on YouTube. I'm confident in my performance abilities, but I was not a popular kid, so whenever anything is judged by how many people like it, my immediate bodily reaction is suffocating terror (nobody likes me! nobody will ever like me!). At least I can recognize this pattern now (maturity!), which helps to ameliorate it in itself. 

Caleb and I have a plan for a simple video, which I'll post on April 30th. All I can do is make the best thing I can, put it out, and see what happens. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fan Boy Release Party Recap

The Fan Boy music video is here!

I am extremely proud of this single, and the b-side, EVRYBDY DIES ALONE, created with the multi-talented DJ LoWreck, as well as the beautiful video shot and directed by my favorite human, Caleb Cole.

Some of the Boston area's finest makers-of-things helped us celebrate last Friday night to a packed show at Moe's Lounge in Somerville.

Some great photos of the night by Hans Wendland:

The night was not without incident. During the very last song, Madame Psychosis was glitter bombed by a mysterious figure in a wolf costume. Sophia Cacciola of Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling caught the culprit in the act:

It must have been because of MME P's notoriously right-wing politics.

Check out Fan Boy on Bandcamp now!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Plates" HD video

The nice people at Slam Tribu in Reims, France put together this great video of "Plates."

(Is it bad that throughout the whole thing I'm thinking "I wish it'd been lit from the other side?")

Friday, February 10, 2012

European Tour Recap

Paris Metro - photo by Caleb

Short version:

I toured Europe. It was awesome.

Extremely long version with more pictures and videos than you would ever want:

First of all, so much love and gratitude to The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, who made this tour possible with a generous travel grant. Also to Parisian poet Dareka Daremo, who helped us book the tour, found us places to stay, and even planned our travel routes. 

Sometimes this whole artist thing is worth it.

Our first stop was Barcelona, where we hit the ground running teaching two full days of poetry and performance classes at the Benjamin Franklin International School.

Check out the sweet Mass LEAP t-shirt.

It was my first time teaching in an international setting, which was interesting, mainly because I had to start from a different assumption of common experience with the kids. Jet lag and an unfortunately timed head cold didn't help, but by the end of the first day I felt like I was in the groove.

I even stayed late to help Sean teach a drama class.

On Thursday night, Sean and I were the first features ever at the Barcelona Poetry Slam.

Lacking a green room, I primped in the street.

The bar was this big beautiful boudoir of a room with red walls and paintings of tasteful nudes everywhere. The language barrier was trickiest here for me. I don't speak much Spanish and know about two words in Catalan, but the audience was absolutely engaged and silent anyway. It could not have been a better first show to kick off this tour.

On Saturday night, we played a combined music and poetry show to an intimate crowd in a club in the city's Gothica district.

Check it out, the audience started to spontaneously harmonize with one of my songs. One of those magic artist/audience kinetic moments.

On our day off, our host, the mystical, musical Rachel Rocky Bernstein (who you should listen to sing opera here, if you know what's good for you) took us to see Sagrada Familia, where we proceeded to pontificate about art and god, as is our unalienable wont.

It was hard to leave Barcelona, (I actually almost missed the flight -- running through the Barcelona airport after security holding my cowboy boots in my hands was not the highlight of the trip) but it was on to the canals and redlights of Amsterdam.

We were only in The Netherlands for one day, but our extremely knowledgeable hacker host Onno showed us the local flavor. For instance, the particularly Dutch problem of too many errant bikes clogging up all the canals.

Then it was on to Cafe Barones downtown, Daan Doesborgh's venue. The room was full of non-poets who were all there to hear poetry. Anomalous. There was no open mic at all, just four featured poets. It was super packed. The audience was attentive, and really wanted to talk about the work afterward.

Here are my last two poems from that set: "Plates" and "On Breathing."

On to France, where Caleb joined us.

Which means from here on out, all photos are about to get 1000x better. The above photo was taken by me, on my iPhone.

And this one was taken by Caleb. Photographic pwnage.

The first stop in France was Dijon, the capitol of the Burgundy region. We arrived on a foggy evening and followed our host Adelaide, an inconsiderately beautiful poet in a Humphrey Bogart hat and cowboy boots, as she delineated the minutiae of the town's architectural history.

Adelaide also had a nearly endless supply of English jokes.

After a dinner of eggs poached in red wine, it was time for poetry. Here I am at the show in Dijon, which was one of my favorites, struggling through a French version of one of my poems. The audience was so nice and supportive of my attempts. They even cheered me on when I totally screwed up.

Then it was on to Reims, capitol of Champagne.

There's a huge Cathedral in Reims where Joan of Arc supposedly convinced the King of France to declare war on England.

Look at all the majesty.

Reims was sort of like a rap video.

Some of Caleb's shots of the night. The first is of our host, Elodie as she performed and improvised poem.

Dareka helped me out at this one by reading the harder French translations.

So, I hate to play favorites, but if I had to pick a favorite show, overall, in Europe, Reims would be it. The community was so warm and inviting, and afterward we locked the doors of the venue and stayed up late drinking house wine, smoking inside, and talking.

Caleb didn't take the above picture, someone at the venue did, but it's still pretty sweet.

I'm taking an aside to comment on how much more infinitely badass French poets' stage names are than Americans'. My top three favorites (in translation):

1. Molotov Cocteau (in French, spelled Cocteau Mot Lotov, just for that extra double entendre)
2. Spring 2004 (Printemps 2004 - I don't even know, but I want to steal this)
3. Mister Lady (Monsieur Dame - a common address to audiences at the beginnings of events)

 Then there was Paris. First things first.

Once that was out of the way, I did two shows in Paris. The first was a music show with Sean in the stone basement of a bar.

We didn't get any video from this show, but Caleb recorded audio of everything. Coming soon, or something.

After that, Sean went off to tour Germany, and Caleb and I had two whole days just to be tourists.

For us, that meant going to lots of churches and flea markets.

Here we are at the Pompidou:

And we also went to Père Lachaise, where we visited Oscar Wilde's newly glass encased grave and left a smooch.

We also found Gertrude Stein's grave. It's piled high with stones.

My last show was at the Downtown Cafe in Paris.

I was pretty pleased with how it went.

Adelaide happened to be in Paris for a job, so she joined us for the show.

She took these pictures:


After the show on the last night, as we were going to bed, I said to Caleb, "Why did I want to be an artist? It's so exhausting."

He said, laughing at me a little like he does, "Yeah, but everything else is exhausting, too. It's just not rewarding."

Well, consider me rewarded.

More pictures here: