Archive for reading

Ella at Howard Zinn

Posted in Book, ella, People of Color, politics, queer, reading with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

I will just preface this by saying that as someone with a degree in History, yes not your typical socialite trade, nonetheless true…Howard Zinn is my idol. Take that American Idol, last week, while I was paying my dues in the country, Ella went to hear him speak along with a few other visionaries at the 92 street Y. Here’s her report back. R

Entering the 92nd Street Y last Wednesday, I may have been guilty of bringing more than a healthy dose of cynicism. Don’t get me wrong – I cried as much as the next liberal during Obama’s acceptance speech. But, well… I struggle with a lot of the liberal left’s self-righteousness and lack of self-criticism. Especially when confronted with it in its Park Slope post-hippie incarnation. And let’s be honest – if I struggle to stay polite to Park Slope liberals, Upper East Side liberals should entice me to set off fire alarms by smoking Marlboro Reds,  and to loudly proclaim my affection for clubbing baby seals.

Also, taking the subway from Crown Heights to 86th street is such a bizarre exercise in people watching.  Not a situation geared to inspiring faith in the existence of a post-racial America. Even in oh-so-liberal New York.

The high schoolers carrying AP-study guides and the people handing out fliers for every cause and demonstration under the sun did nothing to raise my spirits. I haven’t been grumpier since my mother forced me to take part in a Swedish outdoor Hannukah celebration.

Imagine my surprise when A Young People’s History of the United States
turned out to be the most inspiring and intellectually challenging event I’ve been to in a long time.

Howard Zinn, I shouldn’t have doubted you. Surprisingly tall and gangly, Zinn’s introduction to the evening showed not only that he’s still sharp and funny but also that he can command an audience without bogarting the stage. Despite the fact that the evening tied in with the publication of A Young People’s History of the United States, the self-evidently titled young reader’s version of Zinn’s non-fiction bestseller, it didn’t feel like an excuse to hawk books.

Instead, the evening introduced me to several historical speeches I’m going to have to revisit, and several performers I’m keen to check out again. Tim Robbins has been a long-term favorite of mine, but Avery Brooks is definitely someone I’d love to see act again. And I want to hear Shontina Vernon sing again and Staceyann Chin perform poetry.

For me, one of the very genuine effects of the evening was a return to the feeling that dissent and questioning of the ruling order can be intellectually satisfying. And that this doesn’t have to be done mockingly. The Martin Luther King Jr speech, Where Do We Go from Here?, performed by Brian Jones, was a picture of sincerity, while at the same time addressing the troubling link between race and class which was true in the 60s and has not yet been overcome.

Emphasizing the role of young people in shaping the world, Evann Orleck-Jetter, the twelve year old girl whose testimony helped sway the Vermont state legislature to allow equal marriage rights, read the piece she’d delivered early this year, as well as a document against child labor from 1913. I was worried for a while that this would be gimmicky and embarrassing. Instead, her calm performance was a restrained tear-jerker –- impressive in anyone and incredibly dignified for someone that young –- which highlighted Zinn’s argument that the study of history should inspire people to participate in the struggles of their own age.

The evening inspired me to email one of the poems performed to an old teacher of mine, from back when I was a super idealistic teenager. She wrote back, thanking me, saying she’d needed it that day. I guess the evening brought back those feelings of I matter-ness that otherwise tend to get trapped beneath my everyday life. Maybe, sometimes, the enthusiastic young person in me needs to be given space to push the post-ironic jaded city dweller aside.

By Ella Fitzsimmons

The Weekend in Pictures

Posted in Party, People of Color, queer, reading with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

There have been several things that I wanted to post about but didn’t immediately find time for…so here they are in photographs. Match the  numbered  blurry iPhone pictures with the following letters: A- IL Passatore, an authentic Greenpoint Italian restaurant, which some claim is among the best in the city. They have prominent exit signs, excellent lasagna and a few other decent pasta options. B- The Beatrice Inn, Bjork is rumored to do coke here, looks shabby from the outside but the muffled bouncers will practically frisk you, before they decide you are “Someone” and casually let you in. C-The Belcourt, LES brunch spot, pretty disappointing other than the fancy decor. The food is mediocre at best and they are adamantly against substitutions. D- Roebling Tea Room- good drink options, chill staff, filling- comfort food style menu. E- Misnomer Dance Company opening at the Joyce.  This is Chris Elam’s company, he choreographed Bjork’s (speaking of) last video,” Wanderlust.” Queen of Dance Critics Gia Kourlas sat in front of me wearing an imposing fur hat, and scribbling enthusiastically in her notebook. The dancers told me afterwards that they nearly tripped over themselves in fear. The photo is of a particularly friendly yet camera-shy stylist, who’s self tailored coat won the recessionista award of the day. F- Tongues of Fire reading at Common Grounds. Excellent community event, good poets, bad run-ins with exes(!) And now for the pictures!

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I guess the answers are kind of obvious, but thank you for playing. x

Literary Death Match- Deadlines

Posted in Book, Guide to What's Good, reading with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Hello Friends,

Although hanging out in cafe’s is joyful, deadlines are not. I am down to the wire on another one and feeling the burn. I also put my back out- what the? So in honor of Spa Week, I am taking my broke self on down to the Brand Nu Day Spa, I will be sure to report back on it’s level of goodness.

After I stop procrastinating and manifest some genius, (what what!) I will get my back back in gear, I hope, than journey on over to the Kitchen for A Literary Death Match/ Release of Opium Magazine (secret blog fans, stalk me I’m yours!)

This is how I previewed it in Flavorpill:

Competitive-reading series Literary Death Match requires authors to step out from behind their writing desks and show some performance chops. The contestants this time around are Katherine Taylor from the Vermin on the Mount reading series, Thomas Hopkins from L magazine’s Annual Literary Upstart, Dennis DiClaudio of Guerilla Lit, and Thaddeus Rutkowski from Poetry vs. Comedy. Celebrity guests (Ben Greenman from The New Yorker is on hand) judge the participants on literary merit, performance, and various intangibles. more

I will let you know afterwards how it really was. I will also have a report back on the ITTY BITTY TITTY COMMITTEE DVD launch party which I previewed in GO. Again, stalkers are welcome x See you soon.