Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Now this is what newspaper journalism is all about

I wanted to become a newspaperor magazine journalist. Life didn't turn out that way, but it was the ideal, what I'd hoped for in my teens. I couldn't think of anything more interesting and desirable. There's a beautiful scene in Season Five of The Wire - where a couple of older newspaperman, now squeezed on all sides by changing technology, readership habits, and economic wrangling, talk about why they entered the field - how glorious and noble it seemed at the time.

This article by Barry Bearak on the front page of the New York Times yesterday, is the epitome of what great newspaper journalism is. A really damned fine story.

HARARE, Zimbabwe — I had never been arrested before and the prospect of prison in Zimbabwe, one of the poorest, most repressive places on earth, seemed especially forbidding: the squalor, the teeming cells, the possibility of beatings. But I told myself what I’d repeatedly taught my two children: Life is a collection of experiences. You savor the good, you learn from the bad.

I was being charged with the crime of “committing journalism.” One of my captors, Detective Inspector Dani Rangwani, described the offense to me as something despicable, almost hissing the words: “You’ve been gathering, processing and disseminating the news.” (more)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Stumbling...sometimes on Happiness

Life is already really different. And it's a shame I can't write about it but it doesn't seem right. It doesn't seem right when the position involves so many other people, and a public organization. Doesn't seem right to share my personal foibles. About what it's like to get up and be somewhere at a certain time. To live on take-out. To go to an outside office and work among others for the first time in years. The camaraderie and the constant distraction. The different energies. It's a whole new world and I'm working on getting up to speed. Working on my systems - setting up the home/personal sync thing, cleaning up my address book, -- now way overgrown with weeds. I use to love hoarding all addresses. Now with the iphone, I need to cut the chaff. Desperately trying to figure out my new calendar/To-Do system. For me, writing things down essential. And the method, mattering. I've enjoyed different systems, over different years, for different needs. What will work best for me now?

In the meantime, really enjoyed this article pointed out to me by my new friend - the very lovely screenwriter/editor/producer Mary Sweeney.

A Conversation with Daniel Gilbert
The Smiling Professor
By Claudia Dreifus
Published: April 22, 2008
At Harvard, the social psychologist Daniel Gilbert is known as Professor Happiness.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Elijah Gowin: Of Falling and Floating - great images

When my father died in the early 90s, I came into a small bit of money I wasn't expecting. I decided I had to buy some art with it. A photograph. I'd take @ $1,000, and buy one art photo, once. And I set about looking. Can you imagine how hard it was to make a choice when you were only to buy one photo, once in your life? I went to the auction houses like The Swann Galleries, scoured books, consulted with my friend Alice George who's an expert in the field, looked everywhere, attended the AIPAD annual photography show where multiple galleries gather under one roof to display their wares. It was like learning a new language. One photo, once. Eventually I settled on a gorgeous photo by Richard Misrach, entitled, "Outdoor Dining at Bonneville Flats." I bought it from the Robert Mann Gallery, six months after I first saw it and loved it, at the AIPAD show. Since I was under budget, I was able to buy a few more from another gallery, up where we lived. And over time, I've acquired a few more. A photo of Bjork that I truly cherish, by Laura Levine. Another of Laura Nyro by David Gahr. If I could, I would have hundreds. I love great photos.

But in the meantime I just look. And some images that really caught my eye the other day were by Elijah Gowin. I never finished the research to see if he was related to Emmet Guessing so without checking. ((ok, just did, he is). But the work is amazing! I was particularly taken with the images from: "Of Falling and Floating."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Jazzy Dance Co zip zap routine at GoDance Apr 12

Before sxsw came calling, I was spending a fair amount of my time thinking about this:

I'd gone from quietly taking classes with Azucena and Carlos to spending more and more time with them strategizing on how to help them reach a larger audience. Which they deserve because they're amazing! Amazing dancers, amazing competitors, amazing teachers. They're unbelievably competent in so many areas covering a wide range of skills, and they're lovely people to boot. It's been thoroughly inspiring to become part of their creative background team. I hated missing the company's grand debut performance at the On Your Feet benefit in Austin on Thursday night. I hear it rocked the house! The video above is from the warm up performance at the GoDance Studio salsa social on April 12.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Electronics Recycling Drive at MccCallum H.S. May 17th

Wyatt asked me to announce for Austin readers:

Big electronics recycling drive on May 17th.It is at McCallum High School (5600 Sunshine Dr) from 9-2. Bring anything, computers, cell phones, cd players, televisions. Let us relieve you of the shit that has just been sitting around your house for years.

In the news today

So I don't even know where to start. A couple of days ago I was asked to take over for Matt Dentler at sxsw film. (Indiewire article here). I thought about it overnight, took a deep breath, and said yes. I love the festival, love living here in Austin, love the film scene here, and love championing films I love. How could I not say yes?

I've been a fan and supporter of the festival since the film festival started. No, I didn't get here every year from New York but I came more often that not. And I've always had a great time. It's been particularly fun under Matt's leadership. In fact, his ascension to festival & conference producer was one of the attractive elements when we decided to move to Austin in 2004. Richard Linklater, and the Austin Film Society was another. I was asked to join the Austin Film Society board immediately, and have had the greatest time getting to know this city and it's film talent through that skew. Matt's become one of our very closest friends. It's been an incredibly fruitful association, filled with tremendous mentoring and generosity on all sides, between all three of us. Those of you who know him via the festival, just imagine what it's like to have access to his smarts, enthusiasm, and thoughtfulness all year long. We've given him a lot, but he's given in spades as well. He's going to be an impossible act to follow.

But somebody had to do it. And I'm fiercely committed to continuing the work of championing great work, and new talent, as I've done for decades, both in my life before John, and ever since.

Thank you to everyone who reached out today. This is a great, sudden, wild change. As my good friend filmmaker Marcy said, "It's like a perfect movie ending. It's both totally a surprise and completely inevitable!" I look forward to the challenge and hope I can do this fantastic festival justice.

And about this blog? Sheesh...it's so not been a film business blog. This has been a really personal space where I get to think out loud, write a little, and champion things that interest me. Not sure how that'll still work now. But I've really enjoyed it, and thank those of you who've stopped by. And actually, now that I think of it, the only reason any of you know grainyms is me is because of Matt. He kept outing me from his blog when I was just dipping my toe in the water. Thanks Matt. Thanks for everything!

"Onward and upward," as my mother always used to say.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The way it is

This has rung true for me over and over again. And it's looming very large right now. I hope to be less opaque soon.

"Life is what happens while you're making other plans"

-- John Lennon

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Museum of Broken Relationships

Thanks to John Merriman's Facebook status for this one: Great concept...

Museum of Broken Relationships

A museum dedicated to broken hearts has recently been founded in Croatia. Author's of the concept Olinka Vištica and Drazen Grubišić decided to set up the museum after consoling friends over their failed romances.
The museum has everything from romantic and touching letters to different gifts given to lovers like teddy bears and photos, but also such unusual examples as leg prothesis donated by a war veteran who fell in love with his physiotherapist or a gall stone. Every single object on display is anonymous, and has a short description of the item related to the relationship that was behind. That's why it could be therapeutic for those with newly broken hearts."

The Museum of Broken Relationships is an art concept which proceeds from the assumption that objects possess integrated fields - holograms of memories and emotions - and intends with its layout to create a space of secure memory or protected remembrance in order to preserve the material and nonmaterial heritage of broken relationships.

Unlike the destructive self-help instructions for recovery from failed loves, the Museum offers every individual the chance to overcome the emotional collapse through creation, i.e., by contributing to the holdings of the Museum. The individual gets rid of controversial objects , triggers of momentarily undesirable emotions, by turning them into museum exhibits, i.e., artefacts and thereby participating in the creation of a preserved collective emotional history.

After the success of the first display in Zagreb this unique museum is going on world tour.

Contact: info@brokednships.com

More about the concept (downloadable pdf)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

And the record plays

Again tipped off by inspiring writer, artist,blogger, Austin Kleon, here's a youtube video of not only one of my alltime favorite songs (no surprise here...one of the classics...) but a great visual rendition of it. An actual image of an actual record playing! Doesn't seem any big deal to us oldsters, but sometime awhile ago when I went searching for an image of record grooves, I had trouble finding one. Love this.

The energy shifts

More and more everything comes down to energy.  I frequently talk about the energy equation in any relationship. There's got to be some exchange, whether it's intellectual or emotional, healing, restful, energizing - in any good relationship of any kind, there has to be some positive exchange of some kind of energy on both sides.  If you walk away depleted, it's not working.

I've come to respect the energy work in any body work and alternative healing.  Acupuncture, reflexology, massage, even yoga and pilates, and certainly dance applies here too, are all about getting the energy going, opening up areas of stagnation or blocks.

There's the energy of activity too.  For someone like me, who can see so many sides of any given situation, sometimes a paralysis sets in.  Over the years, as I've grappled with this repeatedly, wise ones have suggested, "It doesn't matter what decision you make, just make one."  Steps beget steps.  Action begets action.  Often times when you don't know what to do, you just have to do something.  And then the energy starts to shift.  And then sometimes amazing things happen.  Not necessarily what you've anticipated, not necessarily in a straight line, but amazing nonetheless.  This is one of those moments for me, when the shifts are becoming more seismic.  The tiniest of decisions and shifts of energy have had a hand in creating a groundswell.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The real birthday gift this year

I hope I'm not tempting fate by posting this, but this was the joy this birthday. Sure, the Facebook barrage was a delight. But the real joy came in this card. The front cartoon, an illustration of what's become a running theme within the family. And inside? A simple thank you. It may not seem like much to the rest of you, but we keep things simple and pared down in this family. No big celebrations or elaborate gifts. Just simple store-bought cards, chosen for their laugh value, filled with love communicated by a handwritten scrawl. For me, this year, from my daughter, (sure, ok, with a sweet add-on by my son that was actually a joke too in a really subtle way, but the card was really from my daughter), a real thank you. It meant everything.

I haven't written much about my daughter this year. Why? Because it's her life, not mine. She's already been cast into the public eye more than she's comfortable with. But it's been an incredible year. Tremendous growth on both our sides. Really enjoying this more adult space between us. Really engaged with who she is now, and who she's growing into being. The tightrope has been being there, but letting her be. I've had to provide a support system without mucking up her own growth by experience. It's been more time consuming than I would have figured. And at times, more nail biting. But over all, what pleasures me the most is the dynamic of trust between us, and how it keeps growing. I wasn't sure we'd have a good adult rapport. I pictured her off adventuring, not needing anything from me. It's been quite the contrary. Real, involved, grounding and full of love. Again, as Lou Reed called it, "The Great Adventure" continues.

On Your Feet benefit with Azucena and Carlos Apr 17

I'm really looking forward to this benefit, headlined by Grupo Fantasma and featuring my very excellent salsa teachers Azucena & Carlos, their Jazzy Dance Company, and a slew of other music and dancers from around the world. I've already got my tickets!

On Your Feet" International Music & Dance Extravaganza
Date: April 17th, 2008 Doors open at 7:00PM
Location: Monarch Event Center (at Lincoln Shopping Center across from Highland Mall)
Tickets: $15 in Advance & $20 at the door

crayfish party today in east austin

Thanks Sam and David!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Birthday wishes

John Merriman sent this today for my birthday. Loved it!

So now, what?

As Judy said leaving lunch the other day, "I just need to figure out how I want to spend my 40s." Although now for me, it's my 50s. And I'm already one year in. Today I'm 51. More funny to me, than upsetting. Like, "how'd that happen?!!!" "How'd I get here?" But I did. And thankfully, happily, it's been swell.

So what next? This whole year has been a continuation of engagement with an eye towards evolution. How to get clearer? More focused? More responsible financially? More in control of my time and energy? More fierce in my decisions? More in tune with what matters most to me? Those are the decisions. Those are the challenges. I feel the movement, little by little, though it's far from clear and defined. I'm feeling the movement, right on time I suppose. Now 51, my littlest finishing up high school. I'm sensing change all around me as well. People surprising me with their lurches...oh, not fair to call them lurches...with their evolutions too. It's false to assume the world is solid while you're changing. Everyone's changing. Some moments more than others.

A young friend brought tears to my eyes today as he spoke of the possibility of of retiring his dream. He had to. He's right, the world is changing in a way that probably can't sustain his vision. But he's great, and talented, and though I know better, though I was in fact moved by his tough honesty, part of me lurched, "no, no, no, not you! You can't throw in the towel. It's too sad, too devastating, it's been too long." But he's right to reassess, to consider the harsh realities. It's part of what makes him so special, rather than deluded, arrogant and annoying. But I can't bear the thought of him not creating. And I don't think he can live without creating either.

So what do we do with our dreams? How interesting that I've gotten to this age without the harshness overwhelming? But now the world is changing all around. I've been talking about my place in this world all my life. So what now, when the stakes are even higher and, to use a tired old cliche, the road rougher?

Docubloggers interviewing me about blogging

Walking into the Weirdly Wired Party during sxsw our pal JJ asks, "neither of you blog, do you?" Next thing I know I'd volunteered for a little interview by Domenique for KLRU's Docubloggers. Always amusing to see what one looks like talking. Besides hating the double chin, otherwise I'm ok with it.

About This Video
(by Domenique)

I was delighted to learn that producer/director Janet Pierson has become an avid blogger. She started Friends Are My Art Form that explores everything from film to her personal take on life experiences. She talks more about her blogging experiences in this interview that took place at the SXSW Get Weirdly Wired party that was held at KLRU's Austin City Limits studio.