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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

diary: New York wrap-up

I write from Israel, where I’ve spent the last week with my sister, her husband and their five kids, ages seven months to eight years. I’ve been far too busy with life to blog about it, but this morning backslid into my jetlag, waking at six in the morning and so I have a quiet hour in the resort lobby before the next horde of yarmulked Mexican boys or turbaned Sephardic women is disgorged from a tour bus or, more distractingly, my nieces and nephews awaken. Because an hour is a short period of time, and because I am lazy, this blog will consist mostly of excerpts from email I’ve sent to James and other loved ones over the past ten days, redacted here and elaborated there.

I spent much of my time in New York at the 5th Avenue Apple Store, having acquired the following technology problems:

1. my optical drive failed
2. was hacked by a porn site I don't even like to look at
3. my new Pumas with the suede and rubber mace-textured toes got big gashes on both feet by my pinkie toes

Apple Geniuses failed to solve any of these problems, but I left comforted. They could call it the Psychotherapist Bar with greater accuracy.

Two days before my Wednesday afternoon departure I went to see Mano’s workshop production of “I Just Stopped By To See the Man,” an English play imagining, as exploitative English musical interloper, African-American intellectual activist murder accomplice on the lam, and her foundationally important blues musician father, analogues of Eric Clapton, Angela Davis and a foundationally important blues musician I’d never heard of whose name escapes me. Mano had performed this play in San Diego and wants to produce it in New York, so he organized this staged reading, in a black-box theater in the 54th Street building where all the fancy violin shops are, in order to attract other producers. I enjoyed the play, and not just because it starred Mano and Eisa, but because it also starred the guy (name also irretrievable at the moment) who won a Tony for his role in Caroline or Change, who sings and plays harmonica well enough to carry off the role of a foundationally important blues musician. And Mano, of course, sings and plays guitar better than Eric Clapton. My only reservation is that Eisa didn’t get to sing or play anything but her part.

The less said about the rest of the trip, the better.

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Paul Festa’s first film, Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006, 51 min), captures the responses of 31 artists to the apocalyptic music of Olivier Messiaen (with Justin Bond, John Cameron Mitchell, Harold Bloom; screenings: Grace Cathedral, Barbican Centre, Library of Congress; “Remarkable”The New Yorker; “Stunning”Chicago Sun-Times; “Sublime”Globe & Mail; numerous awards). Festa performs the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, opposite members of the San Francisco Ballet and The Cockettes, in his award-winning second film, The Glitter Emergency (2010, 20 min), a silent-film drag ballet comedy (“Enormous visual and musical inventiveness…full of pleasure and joy...Festa gives a bravura performance."—Film Threat). He produced, wrote and edited, with director Austin Forbord, and was chief archivist, for the Emmy-nominated documentary Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco (2010, 80 min: with Robin Williams, Bill Irwin, Peter Coyote; screenings: Geary Theater, KQED; “Intriguing...entertaining...a valuable record”—Variety). Performances as violinist and actor: ODC Theater, Center for Performance Research, Kunst-Stoff, TheatreFIRST, North Bay Shakespeare, Albert Fuller's Helicon Ensemble (Merkin Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall). US, Boston, NYC, SF, LA and DC (Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress on the “Betts” Stradivarius) premieres of Messiaen’s Fantaisie for violin and piano. He is the author of OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, based on Apparition of the Eternal Church, and several anthologized essays, and has written for The Daily Beast, Salon, Nerve, and The New York Times Book Review. Current projects include a novel and Tie It Into My Hand (2014, ca. 80 min), a documentary feature that has screened as a work in progress at the Cannes film market and at ODC Theater in San Francisco (with Alan Cumming, Gary Graffman, Peter Coyote, Mink Stole, Robert Pinsky; "A fascinating exploration of the artistic life, as rollickingly entertaining as it is insightful and stirring."San Francisco Bay Guardian). Education: Yale (B.A.; prizes, honors, distinction), Juilliard (Cert., Adv. Cert., scholarships). Residencies: Yaddo, MacDowell, ODC Theater, Centre des Récollets.