Sunday, January 31, 2010

South Magazine & The Year Four: Arts Issue

Last night at Savannah Station, we celebrated South Magazine's fourth anniversary. Out now, the February/March 2010 issue is the first Arts Issue.

One of four covers

I've been contributing arts related pieces for the past year and a half (last 10 issues... now working on the 11th) and so I'm thrilled the current issue has a full art focus. As usual, I wrote the Gallery News & Notes, a feature on the amazing sacred artist Dan Bonnell, a short little something sweet on George Dawes Green + The Moth, and The South's Guide to Getting Around the Galleries-- None of which is available to read on the website, so you should probably pick up the print addition. Yessss.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Quick Trip

Oh, how I love Manhattan.

When I visited New York last autumn, I divided my time between shopping, cocktails with friends, lunch dates and participating as a judge at the Moth. True to New York-- I didn't have a chance to see everyone, to do everything--what I missed most was the chance to look at art.

Last Friday night, Saturday and Sunday morning, I went back with plans to check out some galleries (+ etc.) with my friend Feifei Sun. She suggested we meet at the corner of 20th & 8th down in Chelsea. From there, we wove our way in and out of the early twenties as dusk settled over the city.

One exhibit of particular interest is The Camera as Consolation, Carl Johan De Geer and The Swedish Underground 1964- 1971 at the Steven Kasher Gallery. The intimate photographs and hastily scrawled lettering, literally on the wall, arrested our attention. These were photographs that seduce; images of blooming marriages, proof-positive affairs, other-women's-children, self portraits, random items of immediate interest, old apartments, narrow unmade beds, chipped china... "These are amazing," Feifei said. Other viewers were similarly engaged; a couple moved through the gallery alongside the gallery director, poised to purchase an image.

Narrating titles indicate stolen imagery-- flaring flash after the sinful, desperate touch of skin, the deep breaths of relief after acts of deception, an affair photographed, the shutter snapped as a momentary deceit-against-deceit, one image that solidifies what was supposed to be secret (no proof) but, having happened, should be photographed, too. All acts serve to feed the eager artist. And there are other images, as well: dinner parties, buildings, busted cars...

De Geer's photographs are the sort of images that make you wish you had photographed more moments from your own life-- That you, too, could submit images of your personal history in effort to evoke memory, thought, inspiration in anonymous viewers. To supply a moral picked from some long ago, fading instance that would educate or generate hope in another.

As a writer, I do much the same with words.

"Did you take pictures?" My best friend exclaimed, driving away from the Savannah airport.
"No," I said, sadly, "I wanted to. I wish I had."

Images in my mind I wish were still frames: The flurry of passing buildings on Park Avenue, headed south, through the frame of the back window of a cab (an image that reappears in my mind each time I hear TV On the Radio's "Wrong Way."); the bored expression on the bleach-blonde Asian boy hostessing at The Half King who I had effortless conversation with; Feifei's smile as she clasps my iPhone in her hand and squeals in delight at dinner, post champagne; the pair of gallerinas in Gagosian Gallery, each dressed in black-and-white floral patterns, serving the flock of people standing at their shared desk; interior of a crowded p.s.450; blurry movements behind the bar, servers dressed in all black; Todd, with an eyebrow raised, mischievous smile, hand reaching on instinct for the bottle of Sapphire; a self portrait of myself frantically getting dressed, black lace, slender white pants, a flirtacious and enchanted response to the text message, "For gods sakes, hurry." I'd snap an interior shot of the French bistro where I shared a bottle of white wine and escargot at 4:30 am... The look this guy gave me across the kiosk at Delta check-in at Lagaurdia where I, disheveled and hung over, muttered at the machine, "God damn it... Don't do me that way," for failing to find my boarding code and a corresponding self portrait of the smirk I shot him back before he turned and walked silently towards security check-in. Also, a final image of introduction: making a new friend in Manhattan at Gate 13A, the kind smile of the guy from the kiosk when he sat down beside me and asked my name. But there is so much more.

Next time I go back I'm taking pictures. Late March, that's the plan.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Studio Visit With Anna Fox Ryan

There is so much mystery to painting. Throughout all of the books I've read, paintings I've viewed, words I've written-- I am still trying to recreate what is so utterly hypnotic about the act, how convincing and seductive a painter finds her substance, the literal alchemy of said substances, the blithe of blending, the pushing and pulling of paint across canvas, across the panel... The madness of when it goes wrong by a stroke, the suspense of knowing that sometimes, everything depends on a few, brief moments of contact.

I am no stranger to art's imminent passion. But technically speaking, I know little about painting. To help curve my knowledge, painter Anna Fox Ryan graciously opens her studio to me and every once in a while we'll get together for what she calls a "creative jam session."

Sunday, after eating lunch, we settled down in her studio for an afternoon of art. As Anna begins the laborious set up of solvents and oils, the meticulous selection of color, I tip-toe up with my notebook and ask that she explain everything. Anna graciously answered all of my inquiries, explained all of her actions and inspired me with her stop-and-start method of approach. Conflicts of color, trial and error to revise negative space--our time in the studio was certainly insightful. After taking notes and observing, we settled into the silence of her studio, Anna painting and I writing.

As an aside: A few days ago, I applied my outline to the calendar and configured what I would be writing each day. Strange how things worked out--the day I was scheduled to write a scene of Cameron in her studio painting was the same day I had scheduled my studio visit with Anna. And the days that I'll be in New York are the same days I'll be writing the scenes of Cameron's New York trip. Interesting.

THANK YOU to Anna for letting me come over and hang out. I can't tell you how helpful it is to watch you work. Love.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bottles & Cans

I stayed in Friday night to write. Saturday night, knowing Bottles & Cans would play at 10, I did a little research at the Mercury Lounge.

And by "research" I mean me, wearing second skin black jeans and an opera length pearl necklace, stretched out in a leopard print stool at the bar drinking Honey Bourbon neat and casually singing along with the music. Twangy blues, Southern jazzy; god these guys are good. I don't pay much attention to local bands or live music around town but I always check for when Bottles & Cans plays at Mercury.

Rarely-to-never do I fail to influence others into this bar when the band is scheduled for a show. Likewise, one of the characters in LPT, Ren Massey, is capable of similar persuasion. At one point in the novel, Ren invites Cameron to accompany her friends to Mercury Lounge where Bottles & Cans is performing. There, she meets a plot-changing character. I can't imagine mentioning another Savannah band except for maybe... Dope Sandwich... But since when does Dope Sandwich play at Mercury? Exactly.

The following is a terrible clip of a great band. My iPhone just doesn't do them justice.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

To Change A Routine

I've been so good this year. So very, very good.

In the past six days, I've worked on my novel everyday. This is key. It is absolutely imperative, when writing a novel, that the writer writes every single day. For everyday I miss, it takes three days to get back to where I was. I haven't written yet today but after posting this blog I'm going to, I promise.

If I keep a routine, I'm okay. Wake up in the mornings, write before work (and during work, if it's dreadfully slow--which it was not today). Open the restaurant, get things ready for service before I leave at five. Then, I spend the evenings and a good fraction of my weekends off fulfilling various social commitments: various lunches and dinners, shooting guns, studio visits, hair cuts and cocktail hours. It seems there's always something I've agreed to do. Tonight... I canceled plans with one friend, only to run into another on my way home. I don't even make it to my front door before getting sucked into Alligator Soul for bubbly and "snacks." I returned home in no real mood for working.

These things happen when living on Broughton Street. I don't have to make plans. I will be walking home, minding my own business, and heywhatdoyouknowwhatareyoudoingwhy

I need to stop answering phone calls, start ignoring facebook messages and non-work related e-mails. Quit my job. Don't leave the house. Don't go on dates, don't hang out with friends and for the love of God, ignore those iPhone chimes.

Yeah but working and hanging out with friends gives you material to write about-- Others present the argument. That's true. But there's got to be a balance and I'm at the point now where I need to be fully focused on writing.

I have roughly two months to finish this draft. I'm a third of the way through.

"Hey what are you up to tonight?" one of my girlfriends texts as I'm writing this post.

This is going to be just as hard as I suspected.

Guiltily, I text her back, "Working on my novel. Plans tomorrow night?"

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

You know that true love is waking up at 7:30 the morning after a series of NYE parties and writing.

Welcome to 2010. This is the year I complete LPT. While there are other things to accomplish, I can think of little else.

2009 was extraordinary—In the past 364 days, I’ve gained and maintained some amazing friendships. Among them, writer George Dawes Green and artist Anna Fox Ryan—both who inspire me intellectually and creatively. And then there’s that pair of Garibaldi (top two) former-bad boys, Rick Nagro and Roscoe Williams, Jr. who keep me laughing and entertained. I’ve reconnected with playwright Giles Gonnsen, kept in touch with Vanity Fair’s Feifei Sun, who I’ve known since high school.

In September, I traveled to Vermont for doctor-to-be Ashley Bunnell’s—Ashley Tracy’s—wedding. Ashley and I are lifelong friends; originally we met in preschool. My confidant remains Elizabeth Seeger, who listens to my twisted true-life stories/jaw-dropping secrets while sewing custom Satchel. handbags late into the night.

And, “just so you know,” says Emily Pike, “the two of us are still “together” and still causing (and in Lizzie’s case, documenting) all kinds of mischief.” The only reason my best friend from college has yet to appear on this record is because she’s been hiding in North Carolina. But Emily’s back now and we have plans on Sunday. You wait and see.

There exists, among so much gain, a single and devastating loss—of my cousin, Jerriod. He was a year older than me and we grew up together. In high school and early in college he was one of my closets friends. We’d drifted apart over the years. He died in October, suddenly. Jerriod was living in Atlanta at the time, dating a woman named Alicia, who has a young son. The day he died, he was supposed to return to Savannah. In the car with Alicia, Jerriod unlocked his seatbelt to brush a wasp away from the baby. Alicia drove a little off of the road and overcorrected herself, slamming into a tree. My cousin was flung through the windshield. He died immediately. But, thank God, Alicia and her baby were o.k. (Or, so I was told. I pieced this story together through snippets of information released through members of my family.) I wish it wasn’t so.

But. Good things are yet to come. Namely, the completion of draft 1 of LPT, to be complete by my birthday, March 16th.