From Renaissance marriage paintings to drunken nights in the Rainbo’s photo booth, I’ve always had a thing for portraiture. So huge props to my friend Noah Sheldon, an incredibly talented and thoughtful photographer, for a great write-up in the L.A. Times. Noah set up a portrait studio at the Yautepec gallery in Mexico city, and I so wish I could have been there.

Image of Obama getting hugged by somebody’s grandmother by Noah Sheldon



So I went on a gallery walk in Bushwick last night, a neighborhood I love because of how much it reminds me of Chicago. The night air was chilly but a stiff tequila cocktail at English Kills warmed me up, as did the hospitality of all the dealers, many of whom were showing stuff out of their living rooms. One highlight was the Jon Burgerman/Jim Avignon show at Factory Fresh. They holed themselves up in the gallery’s basement for a week to create all the work. Crazy! The theme was anxiety (an emotion I know all too well) and at one point I thought “this is like Roz Chast for the hipster set” but luckily I kept that to myself, and of course that wouldn’t do the show justice.

The other highlight was the night-capping live performance at Pocket Utopia in which Andrew Hurst dissected his dead pet tarantula, bundled up its parts with some bone dust and pot, attached the whole thing to a dozen black helium-filled balloons, and then released it into the night sky. This being Brooklyn, the balloons immediately got caught on the antenna of the warehouse across the street, so it didn’t turn out to be as euphoric as I hoped. I really wish I had a video of this performance to post, but I don’t.

All in all, a really great Friday the thirteenth.

Image above by Jon Burgerman


One of my greatest disappointments this year is that James Franco is not in my fiction workshop. (He chose to do his MFA at Columbia instead. Whatevs.) It turns out I’m not the only one who is in awe of the genius behind Danny Desario, Saul Silver, and those totally ridic films on Funny or Die. My super talented friends over at La Familia Green have got a thing for him too.




I woke up feeling pretty bummed out today. These made me happy. Go here for the complete set.

bolanoTwo hundred and two pages into a book that’s been a total slog, I finally came across a sentence that I love:

“At that same moment the Santa Teresa police found the body of another teenage girl, half buried in a vacant lot in one of the neighborhoods on the edge of the city, and a strong wind from the west hurled itself against the slope of the mountains to the east, raising dust and a litter of newspaper and cardboard on its way through Santa Teresa, moving the clothes that Rosa had hung in the backyard, as if the wind, young and energetic in its brief life, were trying on Amalfitano’s shirts and pants and slipping into his daughter’s underpants and reading a few pages of the Testamento geométrico to see whether there was anything in it that might be of use, anything that might explain the strange landscape of streets and houses through which it was galloping, or that would explain it to itself as wind.”

But still. Why does everyone think Roberto Bolaño is such a goddamn genius?

junotSo anyone who knows me knows I have this thing for Junot. Drown, his first collection of stories, was one of those books that made me unravel with envy. Given my Junot-love, a few guys have asked me, don’t you have a problem with his misogyny? And I’ve always been like, what?

Well. I just finished Oscar Wao and I have to say, I’m conflicted. It’s good. Punchy, breezy, seductive, serious, a real pot-boiler. But that whole middle section about Oscar’s mom is so rife with pussy fascination that even I found it hard to take. I can see how it works (considering who the narrator is), but at the same time, is it really necessary to pummel us with all that male gaze-y lust? Hmmm. I’m still figuring that one out.


davidhSo I went to see the dashing David Hollander read the other night, and now we’re Facebook friends! Will New York wonders never cease? (I guess it helps that he teaches at Sarah Lawrence and is friends with a bunch of my friends.) David wrote a book called L.I.E. that was made into a movie. I saw it when it came out and I quite vividly remember sitting in the theater and being totally creeped out by it. Daaaaaark stuff. David read his story called F Train, and I was totally blown away. He’d probably kill me if he knew that I’ve posted this pic of him in swashbuckling garb, but it’s not as if he’s ever going to read this right?

Last night I saw Deb Olin Unferth read as part of the St. Mark’s Bookshop Reading Series. There were only a handful of people there, which made me quite sad because everyone I know (and a few others on top of that) should have been there. Deb’s funny and talented and last year she wrote a short-story called “Deb Olin Unferth” that made me so insanely jealous I lay awake most of the night wishing I’d written it. There’s a nifty little animated short film of it here. And despite the New York Times’ lukewarm review of her new novel Vacation (boo Madison Smartt Bell!), I’m adding it to my must read list. Word on the street is that it’s pretty fab.

heinz1So it’s my first day back in New York and I’m already conjuring up ways to get out. Applying for a MacDowell fellowship is something I’ve been daydreaming about for some time now, spurred on by my friend Katy Chevigny, an uber-talented documentary filmmaker who did a residency there this past fall. (How do you insert an umlaut on this thing?) Katy’s most recent film is Election Day and I urge everyone to see it. Filmed on Election Day 2004, it follows a group of voters at polling booths throughout the country. What with Obama’s victory and Katy’s movie, it’s the first time I feel genuinely hopeful about American politics. Plus, if Katy’s stint at MacDowell wasn’t enough to inspire me, Emily Raboteau, one of my very favorite young writers recently completed a residency there. If you haven’t read her short story “Kavita Through Glass,” I have a few words for you: Find it. Read it. Hint, hint: Tin House published it in October 2002 and then it was anthologized in Best American Short Stories 2003. It’s so so SO good.

Pictured above is Heinz–one of the artist’s studios at MacDowell–conveniently named after my most favorite brand of ketchup. Can you imagine spending a summer working there? Swoon.