Publication: DC’s Airbnb hosts on Elevation DC

New perspectives, spoken word, and beer recommendations. These aren’t your average DC hotels–or your average hosts–in my latest piece for Elevation DC:

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Eat the big frog

 

frog on a tree branch

Australian Green
Tree Frog by LiquidGhoul. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Caerulea3_crop.jpg#/media/File:Caerulea3_crop.jpg

If forced to eat one of two frogs, most of us would choose the smaller one. I’m proud of three students who, when given the choice between a written and a video essay for their midterm, went for the biggest, ugliest croaking mass of yuck and bit right in.

Two new signers (one of whom was also an iMovie neophyte) resolved to go the video/ASL route. The third student is articulate and sharp–in person, in ASL. Writing, though? Not his favorite thing.

They each did well. And the best part is that we’re all on spring break now!

I hope to follow up with each of these students, to ask for their reactions. I suspect the frogs weren’t as slimy as they expected.

 

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What I’m Consuming: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Feminist graphicIt’s time for another What I’m Consuming post. I started with a collection of shortish fiction. This next one is a collection of short nonfiction (i.e. essays) — Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (Harper Perennial, 2014).

What it is and why it’s here

Bad Feminist is a collection of essays by a fiction writer and cultural critic. Gay chews on and critiques all manner of things in pieces you may recognize from Slate, The Rumpus, and others.

The book starts off with disarming reads. Gay’s first essay on feminism has her questioning the absolutism many associate with the term. “I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy,” Gay writes. She is also:

…a woman who loves pink and likes to get freaky and sometimes dances her ass off to music she knows, she knows, is terrible to women and who sometimes plays dumb with repairmen because it’s just easier to let them feel macho than it is to stand on the moral high ground.

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Exhibit opens!

Rhea:

This happened. It really, finally did. And it was magnificent.

Originally posted on The Videofreex:

10980187_10153072360547673_8884919436436786359_o A panoramic view of the first rooms of the exhibit. Photo by Rhea.

On February 7, the public had its first glimpse of Videofreex: The Art of Guerrilla Television at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art. The New Paltz museum dedicated a few thousand square feet to this massive retrospective, curated by Andrew Ingall. There were video screens, maps of New York City and State plotting Videofreex haunts and activities, ancient equipment stenciled with their name, and hundreds of people there to witness it all.

That day, from a Prosecco toast to the last drop of reminiscence over dinner, was one for the Videofreex record books. Though I wasn’t around to experience the Videofreex heyday, I felt very much a part of their renaissance. I found myself saying things like “You’re Horrible Howard? It’s so good to meet you!” and “You directed The Kitchen??” The exhibit runs through July…

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One week until Videofreex: The Art of Guerrilla Television

Rhea:

New York and New Paltz area residents, come on by!

Originally posted on The Videofreex:

Nancy B&W sketch Poster by Videofreex member Bart Friedman, featuring an illustration of member Nancy Cain.

Just one week from today, on Saturday, February 7, the Videofreex exhibit opens at The Dorsky. That day, members of the Videofreex will come from New York, California, and D.C. (that’s me!) for the opening reception. Skip is driving up in what he’s dubbed the Videofreex Mini Media Bus. Join us at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art on the SUNY New Paltz campus in New Paltz, NY.

Check out the upcoming events, including showing of the Videofreex documentary in progress:

Public Programs and Events for Spring 2015

And check out more of Bart’s posters below/after the jump (P.S. I think “BYOB” refers to your own bunny suit. What about you?)

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What I’m Consuming: The Liar’s Wife by Mary Gordon

In the first of what I hope to make a series of posts, I’d like to talk about The Liar’s Wife: Four Novellas by Mary Gordon (Pantheon Books, 2014).

I’m calling the series “What I’m Consuming.” I’m going to write about things I’ve watched, read, or heard (and maybe even eaten) that I liked and would recommend.

What it is and why it’s here

The Liar’s Wife is a collection of an odd genre. I’ve never seen more than one of these long stories/short novels together before. The quartet comes to 288 pages in all, and comes together well. Three of the protagonists are women — two very young and the third just past retirement age. Only one of the main characters is male — an elderly man looking back on his teenaged years.

Two of the novellas plop real historical figures Simone Weil and Thomas Mann into plausible but completely fictional settings.  Gordon then imagines a central character to put in his or her path and a series of events steeped in the figure’s heyday.

I’m writing about this here — with a heading that pledges I would recommend it — because of the characters, especially the female protagonists Jocelyn, Genevieve, and Theresa. Here are brilliant women, one of them fortunate in life (financially, family-wise, professionally) on top of that. The other two are survivors of World War II Europe and an affair with a pretentious professor, respectively. These women bask in and benefit from their enviable luck and talents, but also question their worth. It takes a great writer to create a woman who has a comfortable retirement, a loving husband, and thriving children, but wonders if she might be better off roaming the country in a Frito Lay truck and singing in dives — and Gordon makes the reader wonder, too.

How I came upon it

I read this book because Gordon’s daughter was a childhood friend. No joke! I didn’t realize at the time that Anna’s mother was a famous writer. But by this past fall, I knew it well enough to hightail it to Politics and Prose to see the mom from the stone house on North Oakwood Street.

Gordon is a fantastic reader. She read from the title work, performing the parts of the Irish truth twister, his Southern-born companion, and the Italian pizzeria owner as easily as the protagonist with a familiar northeastern American voice. I dug into the book a few months later, during what I’ll call a “working staycation” between semesters.

The upshot

I could have binge-watched yet more Scandal over those cold, laid-back weeks, but the characters and stories in The Liar’s Wife kept pulling me back to the printed page. They kept me reading and made me think.

 

Until next time, happy consuming!

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Top 10 places to give and make change

Participants in the Jews and Muslims DC event prepare to leave the DC Jewish Community Center with food and gifts for homeless people on Christmas Day.

Participants in the Jews and Muslims DC event prepare to leave the DC Jewish Community Center with food and gifts for homeless people on Christmas Day. Photo by Rhea.

I started off Christmas Day by returning a lost wallet. Then I headed to a volunteer event at the DC Jewish Community Center, where I gave blood and joined a project of Jews and Muslims DC that distributed food, holiday cards, and toiletries to poor and homeless people. The Washington Post and local news station WJLA covered efforts that day.

Yep, it all looked pretty virtuous. But it takes more than a day of service to bring about change.

That afternoon, just outside a Metro entrance that provided some warmth, we met a man who had a job as a bike mechanic but was living in a tent because rent is so high. For the Post article, reporter Michelle Boorstein spoke to a father and his adult son who had both been struggling for years. These are ongoing and systemic problems.

Edward Johnson, Sr., says it best in Boorstein’s article:

“I’d like to be the one here giving things out to them, but now I’m the one on this side. I want to be an overcomer,” said Johnson. “I’m grateful for the thought, but it would do more to take one person in this park and say: ‘I want to help you do better, I’m going to help you do better.’ ”

Here are 10 organizations I see helping people to overcome and do better, both on an individual and systemic level. With efficient use of funds, these nonprofits bolster access to good food, health, faith, community, and overall human well being. Continue reading

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