Author Archive

Capturing a Neighborhood, one click at a time

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

I find that often when I’m wearing one of my other career hats, I run into things I want to sharetattoo.jpg with SMITH readers. As an arts journalist (fedora, maybe?) I meet people doing their personal storytelling on stage, screen, or CD. This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Clayton Patterson, the legendary local photographer who has shot or videotaped every major happening in the Lower East Side since 1978, from riots to poetry slams, community board meetings to rock concerts. Along with his partner Elsa Rensaa, he’s chronicled the creative, poor, marginalized, and disenfranchised folks that gave the area its vitality for so many years, as well as the recent changes threatening that culture. An exhibition from his archives is showing at Kinz, Tillou + Feigen gallery, but even a trip to their website offers many artistic and documentary pleasures

Hurrah, Hurrah!

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

We try to refrain from autoerotic horn-tooting, but we’ve had some press lately that seems shooting_war.jpgworth sharing. USA Today calls the forthcoming hardcover of Shooting War the big graphic novel for fall. Quoth the pie-charted paper of record:

“What started as a subversively buzz-worthy online comic on now comes to print as an expanded hardcover with new material. And Lappe, executive editor for Guerrilla News Network, knows Iraq: He produced Battleground:21 Days on the Empire’s Edge, a 2004 documentary.” (more…)

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

When the cat is away, the mouse will…blog almost exclusively about book news. Forguide.jpg reasons that I’m sure will be obvious to no one, I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationships between books and authors and websites.

The Times recently did a piece on virtual book tours, which is definitely worth a read, especially if you’re new to the idea. I enjoyed the quotes from one Miss Felicia Sullivan, who is also the author of a forthcoming memoir (which I’m confident will be worth the week of UPS hassles I endured to procure my shiny new galley copy). But back to my point—some authors do neat stuff on their websites: (more…)

Can you sign my book, Mr. Computer?

Monday, August 27th, 2007

I’ve never really understood the appeal of getting a book autographed by the author; the only writing in mine is incoherent margin-scribbling and the occasional phone number. But the author tour reading/signing is still a staple of the book business, despite rising travel costs, airline hassles, and increased concern about carbon footprint. Enter the Longpen, invention of author Margaret Atwood, which uses technology to allow almost in-person encounters (and signings) between authors and fans. It’s been around for a while, largely as a novelty and topic of autograph-authenticity debates, but this fall machines will actually be installed in stores around the world.

Here’s a picture I took of a demonstration at BEA:
When I expressed cynicism, the company’s trade show representative called me out on my New York snobbery (touché) and explained I might be more excited if I lived in a small town where authors never deign to venture on even the most extensive tours. Writers who are elderly or disabled can have face time with readers. And for the younguns in the audience: you can take home digital video of your autographing and blog your little hearts out.

Seven Words to Live By

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Courtesy of Rebecca Woolf’s forearm, something to keep in mind after another manic Monday:

Viral Video…Tuesdays?

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

I’d hate to steal Koppelman’s thunder, but I’ve come across a couple of videos recently too good not to share. For one thing, as seemingly every publication adds video content, even simple-as-pie personal media paragon PostSecret is getting in on the action.

On a more serious note, Guerrilla News Network features a 1994 video of Dick Cheney warning that invasion of Iraq would be “a quagmire.” “How many dead Americans is Saddam worth?” he asks and answers, “Not very many…” Apparently, YouTube hasn’t been too eager to spread this news. So, in the words of Mark Twain in a free, outdoor, lefty musical I just saw, “You have a blog—Use it!”

And on a far less serious note, the following music video, by Brooklyn band The XYZ Affair, is just plain awesome. Keep your eyes open for some familiar faces, especially if you happen to have watched Nickelodeon at all between 1989 and 1994.

Mississippi Dreamin’

Friday, August 10th, 2007

People keep asking to see pictures of Mississippi, so I’ve decided to do some personal storytelling of my own. I went to Natchez, MS with my parents
to see my baby cousin Alex get married.
People come to Natchez to see the beautiful antebellum homes
but I was much more interested in cultural relics like Mammy’s Cupboard.

The Personal and The Political

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Some of you may have noticed that I’m a big fan of
Elizabeth Koch. Many of you loved
The World Tour Compatibility Test too, and whether it was her raw, honest prose or her exotic destinations that hooked you, you’re in luck. Koch recently went to Russia for a writing conference, and guess what? She wrote about it. You can find it at the group blog The Nervous Breakdown. I’m crossing my toes that I’ll see Elizabeth tonight at the Opium Park Lit Literary Deathmatch. If you’re in New York and you like live storytelling, or enfants terrible, or The Crier, or atypical readings, or sack races, maybe I’ll see you too.

In bigger news, YouTube is making history again, and this time it ain’t just for rolling in moola. This week, the Democratic presidential candidates answered questions submitted by webcam. In September, the Republicans will do the same. Now, I’ve been known to gush about the internet’s democratization of media, but usually I just mean that any schlub with a numa numa song and a dream can find an audience. This is actual democratization of democracy, and it makes me unabashedly (if inarticulately) giddy. Next time Granny derides those crazy kids and their MySpace, ask her the last time she was invited to ask a question at a presidential debate.

The Magnificent Andersons

Monday, July 16th, 2007

Them Anderson boys got themselves some nifty side projects. First, writer Kurt Andersen P1010131.JPGstarted brightening my days with the clever recommendations of the pleasantly procrastinatory Very Short List. Then Wired EIC Chris Anderson launched (not to be confused with the backbone of my social life, Will I ever work again? is a free online service designed to connect writers and audiences. During my secret, sordid, former life as a book publicist, I was constantly frustrated by the separate channels required to reach bookstores, libraries, reading series, book clubs, classes, corporate gigs, JCCs, and Junior Leagues—nevermind regular old readers.

In collaboration with Kevin Smokler (a book-net-buzz-making machine, who also wears great T-shirts, tells great stories, and edited a smart book about writing in our webby, webby world), Anderson is bringing all the author appearance markets to one hub where writers, publishers, and publicists can tell them everything they need to know. Readers, in turn, can check the daily reading options as easily as tv listings or movie times. Hear more about it here.

Check back soon to track appearances for Not Quite What I Was Planning. Edited by Larry and me, the book is actually written by hundreds of you, so it’ll be a tight squeeze on the author tour Winnebago. And like any web 2.0 venture, will be only as good as its community of users—may they be as lucky as we’ve been…

The Wisdom of Crowds and T-Shirt Slogans

Monday, July 9th, 2007

I’ve been following Assignment Zero since theaz.jpg day I met the Righteous Lauren Sandler and we geeked out over democratization of media. Basically, Sandler and a slew of other editors oversaw a crowdsourced journalism project which covered the story of crowdsourcing. Meta, right? Or, you know, “an experiment in open-source, pro-am journalism.” Wired is publishing some of the stories, and all of them are linked if you scroll down that post.

As resident book nerd, I’d especially like to direct you to this piece on crowdsourced creative writing. Novelist is one of the most solitary professions I can think of (exceptions notwithstanding) so it’s interesting to see what large groups of strangers come up with. From fantasy (I think?) to romance, it seems like results have been mixed but encouraging. I’m definitely going to keep my eyes open for books with hundreds of contributors.

drama.jpgWhen I’m not writing about books, I’m covering the next most highbrow forum for literary self-expression, the T-shirt. The Smoking Gun is giving the geeks some tough competition from bon-mot-adorned convicts in a neat mug shot photo essay. Brushes with the law are admittedly hot this week, but stay tuned, because soon they may both be blown out of the water by the 100% cotton cleverness of the Feminerdies….

SMITH Magazine

SMITH Magazine is a home for storytelling.
We believe everyone has a story, and everyone
should have a place to tell it.
We're the creators and home of the
Six-Word Memoir® project.