Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top Albums of 2014: 10-1

10. Hamilton Leithauser - Black Hours

9. Clark - Clark

8. Kevin Morby - Still Life

7. Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

6. White Lung - Deep Fantasy

5. United Nations - The Next Four Years

4. Protomartyr - Under Color of Official Right

3. Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again/Joyce Manor

2. FKA twigs - LP1

1. Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else

Monday, December 22, 2014

Top Albums of 2014: Honorable Mentions

Here's a few records that didn't make it into my top 30 but thought should get a mention. Some of these lean more towards the electronic, experimental, metal, or lesser mentioned rock.  Here's ten, in no specific order.

Arca - Xen

Ben Frost - A U R O R A

Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

Aphex Twin - Syro

Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues

YOB - Clearing the Path to Ascend

Steve Gunn - Way Out Weather

The Weaks - The World is a Terrible Place and I Hate Myself and I Want to Die

Mitski - Bury Me at Make Out Creek

Legowelt - Crystal Cult 2080

Friday, December 19, 2014

Top 30 Albums of 2014: 30-11

It was a weird year for music. There weren't a lot of GREAT albums, but going through what I listened to this year there was still quite a bit to like. Here's 30 I found in frequent rotation.

30. Whirr - Sway

29. Old Man Gloom - The Ape of God

28. Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire For No Witness

27. Cymbals Eat Guitars - LOSE

26. Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden

25. Todd Terje - It's Album Time

24. Nothing - Guilty of Everything

23. Tigers Jaw - Charmer

22. Fairweather - Fairweather

21. Mr Twin Sister - Mr Twin Sister

20. Moodymann - Moodymann

19. Radiator Hospital - Torch Song

18. The Antlers - Familiars

17. Tourist - Patterns

16. Alvvays - Alvvays

15. Woods - With Love and With Light

14. Sun Kil Moon - Benji

13. Amen Dunes - Love

12. Mutilation Rites - Harbinger

11. Caribou - Our Love

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Plays and Bands at Silent Barn

Ghosts scare the shit out of me. Always have. I'm from supposedly one of the most haunted towns in America, and grew up hearing first hand ghost stories from sane friends and parents. I frequently slept over one friend's house where a family had burned alive during the 1800's, and another who's home was supposedly haunted by a widow waiting for her husband to come home from the War of 1812.

I didn't watch horror movies with ghosts (or really any) up until about a year ago. Now I love them. One of my favorite TV shows is Paranormal Witness, which has people recount supposedly true ghost stories while showing (usually pretty decent, sometimes corny) reenactments. I binge watched the entire first season and couldn't sleep that night.

What throws me off though, is at the end of a lot of ghost stories when the priest comes and reads some stuff from the Bible which gets the spirits REALLY PISSED OFF, and then they eventually go away. I'm totally on board with the random stacking of objects, things flying off shelves, even ghosts physically harming people. But as soon as The Power of Christ Compels You is whipped out I'm over it.

Around 2009, I noticed a trend in the New York music scene that leaned towards spirituality. There was a mix of different other worldly elements and images showing up, mostly I think out of fun. Tarot card readings, Ouija boards, pentagrams, triangles, astrology. The trend grew and now your average 16 year old is wearing upside down cross earrings from Urban Outfitters.

This struck me as a little curious. I'd always thought the most punk thing to be was atheist. I couldn't help but relate looking to the stars for direction the same way as looking to the cross. I've written a couple goofy plays relating to it, and have written a third which is basically a different version of the same play, called "Cosmic Blood Orgy." It's a silly little Halloween play, but I tried harder this time to see what makes all this stuff so interesting, how some people get drawn into it with their tongue in cheek, but soon are self identifying witches. Why I can totally believe in ghosts, but as soon as anything that might ring of "something higher" is introduced I back away.

I was asking a friend of mine who's interested in this stuff about it and got some unsolicited writing advice: don't stereotype your characters. While I would hope to NEVER do that, I'm particularly wary now of offending the cosmic community. But, I'm pretty sure no one is going to take too seriously a play that offers up lube to ghosts who are trapped forever in a "sex pentagram".

This is part of a series called "Plays and Bands" I curate under the name Pony Show Presents, which aims to bridge independent theater and music communities. Youngblood's Abby Rosebrock and Willie Orbison also have some very funny and spooky short plays, along with bands JournalismThe Doubts, and Sic Tic. Hope to see you there.

Plays and Bands #7 - Halloween Edition
The Silent Barn
603 Bushwick Ave
Brooklyn, NY
JMZ to Myrtle/Broadway, L to Morgan
$5, 8:00 doors, first play at 8:30

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

No Jazzin' Before the Rumble: 1960's Gangs and a Park Slope Plane Crash

"Hey Ponyboy, you know there's no jazzin' before the rumble!"

My friends and I repeated this line all day after watching The Outsiders film adaptation in 8th grade English class. I'm still not entirely sure what it means, I guess our hero, Ponyboy, was dissing somebody or fooling around before the epic brawl that was about to go down between the Greasers and the Soc's. More so than the coming of age "stay gold" message tweens write about on state English exams, this goofy line pops into my head weirdly a lot.

In 1950's and 60's Brooklyn, it was pretty common for teenage boys with nothing better to do to join a street gang, or a "bopping" gang, not unlike those in The Outsiders. While drugs were around, especially heroin in the late 50's and early 60's, rival gangs fought pretty much over turf and girls. Mostly divided along ethnic lines, there were an estimated 6,000 gang members and hundreds of gangs throughout the five boroughs.

In the late 50's, a number of Italian-American gangs merged together to form the South Brooklyn Boys, one of the biggest gangs of the time. The Gowanus Boys, the South Brooklyn Angels, the South Brooklyn Devils, The South Brooklyn Diapers, The Kane Street Midgets, The Little Gents, The Butler Street Gents, and so on, would "rumble" for turf with other gangs, often African-Americans and Latinos who were beginning to move into the predominantly Italian and Irish neighborhoods. At the same time, banks began redlining neighborhoods, refusing to lend to minorities and contributing to the serious blight stretching throughout the borough.

On December 16th, 1960 two airplanes collided above Brooklyn. One landed in a mostly secluded area in Staten Island, the other right in the middle of 7th Avenue and Sterling Place in Park Slope. It destroyed ten buildings and killed over 130 people. The New York Times headline described it as "An Area of Run Down Houses". At a time when the atomic bomb could drop at any moment and there were serious fears the Soviet Union could invade, a plane landing in the middle of the street right before Christmas was a serious shock, to say the least.

That's when a play I've written for the Gowanus Arts and Production's Green Plays takes place, the night after the crash. Two teens, an Italian-American gang member and an Irish-American prostitute decide whether they want to stay on this path, or try and get away. But mostly it gives me a reason to write names like Charlie Chumps, Nicky Nichols, Tommy Two Toes, and talk about throwing rocks at an old juke box in Prospect Park. The show's in a beautiful giant brick building, and there's four plays by writers from great local companies, including Youngblood alum Meghan Deans. The Lobbyists are playing and there'll be a party afterwards, where we can jazz all we want.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


It's springtime. The birds are singing. Kids are on their damn tricycles. Everyone's fallin' in love and stuff. This could all only mean one thing...

Live From the Loft III is upon us!!!!! WHAT?!?!

Ticket link HERE: http://liveloftthethird.brownpapertickets.com/
Even if you can't come, you can still buy raffle tickets and support YOUNGBLOOD!

*Live From the Loft is a celebration of community and collaboration. It's a night of original short plays and live musical performances in an intimate setting with booze, friends and a bird named Charlie. All proceeds benefit EST's Youngblood.*

So don't be a fool - join us for a fancy shmancy evening of short plays, live music and mad friendship at a beautiful loft in Chelsea!! All proceeds benefit EST's Youngblood!!

And we're going black tie on this shit so WEAR YOUR FINEST EVENING ATTIRE!!

Featuring plays by Chiara Atik, Dylan Dawson, Darcy Fowler and Leah Nanako Winkler!

And a special acoustic performance by Jukebox the Ghost!!

By Leah Nanako Winkler
With: Lucy DeVitoSeth Kirschner

The Least
By Chiara Atik
Directed by Stephanie Ward
With: Dylan Dawson and Darcy Fowler

My Father My Manager
By Dylan Dawson
Directed by John Giampietro
With: Maren BushCurran Connor and Emma Galvin

The Science of Stars and Fathers and Daughters
By Darcy Fowler
Directed by Linsay Firman
With: Michael Cullen and Heather Robb

Doors open at 7pm, show starts at 8pm.

Ticket link HERE: http://liveloftthethird.brownpapertickets.com/

Facebook event here https://www.facebook.com/events/872133262813756/

Monday, February 10, 2014

In Memory of Philip Seymour Hoffman

When I think of him, this is the image that comes to mind.  It's from the play Jack Goes Boating, and it hangs like a championship banner in the Labyrinth Theater Company offices, where I worked for the better part of five years.

I met him on my first day.  He was rehearsing that misunderstood Peter Sellars production of Othello at the company's old offices on 38th Street, and I was a lowly intern trying not to get in the way.  On a break, he came through the office to go have a cigarette in the conference room, and I was introduced.  He grumbled 'hey, how you doing,' and I tried to act cool.  That was that.

The last time I saw him was in May at the Knickerbocker Bar & Grill for the Opening Night party of A Family For All Occasions, the last play he directed at Labyrinth.  He sidled up next to me at the bar, put his thick hand on my back, and said 'hey, how you doing.'  I said 'good' and congratulated him on the show.  He deflected a 'thanks, thanks,' and I received my two Manhattans from the bartender.  He ordered a cranberry and soda.  That was that.

Over the course of my time at Labyrinth, he and I had a lot of those interactions.  Though, to be honest, I was never really sure if he knew my name.  It didn't matter.  He was who he was, and I am who I am.  I was always in awe, and he was always gracious, kind, and brief.  I understood.

When I heard he died, I was angry before I was sad.  I was angry because it felt like some horrible prophecy fulfilled.  I was angry because, in some part of me, it made sense.  It was only when I started seeing his face and his name everywhere that my indignation was tempered by unexpected grief.  I thought of his partner, Mimi, my former boss, and his kids; there was no hiding from the gruesome tragedy of it all.  His death became relentlessly real, and I wasn't ready for it.

Now, I have no delusions that I existed fuzzily, if at all, on the periphery of his incredible life, but he was, I've since realized, at the center of mine.  And I think that was true of a lot of people.  To me, he was the epitome of what an artist should be; he was devoted to his work, devoted to his family, devoted to his friends, to his community; he didn't seek the limelight, he just wanted to be as good as he could possibly be.  Which, in his case, just happened to be the best.  He was, and is, an inspiration.  And I'll miss him.  Even though I didn't know him that well, I will miss him.  Because of what he stirred in me.  Because of the way he made me feel about being an artist.  Determined.  Proud.  He, to me, was the standard.  And I hope I can live up to, and learn from, his example.

This is for him:

In Memory of PSH
Art is
born, like the universe,
from emptiness,
from a space needing
to be filled; it is
something made,
like energy,
that cannot be unmade.

Art is
our light in the endless,
endless darkness,
our voice in the endless,
it is
something, at least,
something to make sense
of a senseless existence.

Death is nothing.
Death is nothing.
Death is nothing.

So, blessed be the artists,
for they are the wonderers,
the wanderers, the ones who leap
into the void, veins open, searching,
searching for something
to bring back, to teach, to all of us.
They are ones who ask our secret,
sacred questions, and we, reprieved,
apotheosy for their answering.

Yes, blessed be the artists
for the Earth shall inherit them.
Their work transcendent,
independent of life; art is,
like a word, like a number,
a construct, an idea,
true and inextinguishable,
endowed by its creator,
simply, to be.

Death is nothing.
Death is nothing.
Death is nothing.  

Yet, when an artist dies,
(as we all, most pitifully, do)
attention must be paid. 
Thanks must be given
as it is to a soldier, for bravery,
for valor, for fighting battles
on our behalf; we are indebted. 
And so we mourn, selfishly perhaps,
made weaker by the loss.

But, in our grief, we must remember
the man, the woman, the person behind
the art; the father and the husband,
the brother and the son, PSH was
the center of a thousand orbits, each one
proud to feel his gravity.  I was one,
whether he knew it or not, I was one
who will remember, his face above all,
round and warm and bright and true.

Death is nothing.
Death is nothing.
Death is nothing.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Simple Truths

Sometimes it's important to come back to the truths that matter.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tony’s last minute Oscar predictions!

Best Picture

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Inside Llewyn Davis
Dallas Buyers Club
The Wolf of Wall Street

I would swoon if-
Fruitvale Station, Before Midnight, or Short Term 12 got nominated

Best Actor
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Robert Redford, All Is Lost

I would swoon if-
Oscar Isaac snuck in there for Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Judi Dench, Philomena
Amy Adams, American Hustle

I would swoon if-
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was included for her lovely work in Enough Said

Best Supporting Actor

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Daniel Bruhl, Rush

I would swoon if-
Tom Hanks got doubly recognized for both Captain Phillips AND Saving Mr. Banks

Best Supporting Actress

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
June Squibb, Nebraska
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

I would swoon if-
Octavia Spencer or Melonie Diaz were nominated for Fruitvale Station

Best Director

Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Spike Jonze, Her
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips

I would swoon if-
Ryan Coogler's impressive debut Fruitvale Station got some Benh Zeitlin Beats of the Southern Wild lovin like last year

Best Original Screenplay

Spike Jonze, Her
Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, American Hustle
Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
Bob Nelson, Nebraska
Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis

I would swoon if-
Nicole Holofcener’s romantic yet restrained Enough Said made the cut

Best Adapted Screenplay

John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Richard Linklater & Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena
Billy Ray, Captain Phillips
Tracy Letts, August: Osage County

I would swoon if-
I have little stock in this category this year, so happy with whatevs

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Roundoff Back Handspring into Youngblood's Sloan-Commissions with SILVER

First performed in June 2013 at Youngblood's Bloodworks reading series, now advancing to the National level:


                              Tonight! January 7 at 7pm

Inline image 1

After the Beijing Olympics, gymnast Felicia Biancardi refuses to accept her team's second place finish, claiming the gold-winning Chinese athletes lied about their ages. Felicia goes on an obsessive quest to use science to prove the truth and disqualify her opponents, but finds herself up against the limits of what science can prove. A comedy about failure on the world's greatest stage.                    


by Emily Chadick Weiss
directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel

starring Nicole Lowrance, Lucy DeVito, Stephanie Wright Thompson, Eugene Oh, Diana Oh, Annie Q, Zhu Yi, Victor Slezak, Leslie Ayvazian and Andrew Garman

The Sloan-commissioned First Light Festival at The Ensemble Studio Theatre

549 W 52nd St between 10th and 11th Ave 6th Fl 

Let's triple-twist flip into 2014.

More Youngblood in the EST/Sloan First Light Festival:

Old Four Legs by Clare Barron on Jan 13th at 7pm 

Wonks (A Travesty) by Willie Orbison on Jan 14 at 7pm