Tag Archives: art

Bugger off 2016

31 Dec

 

First off, a quick thank you and shout out to Rebecca at Albany Poets for this amazing review of Better Luck Next Year

Even though Malinenko is discussing how cancer changed her life, her multi-dimensional self-exploration allows the reader to appreciate how any life altering experience can disturb the way we once saw ourselves and our placement in the world.

So….here we are….finally reached the end of this terrible terrible year that in many ways went to shit on January 10th, 2016 (I still miss you Bowie) and then continued to plummet to absolute hell after that.

And it’s not like there’s much to look forward to in 2017 with the monster taking office and the GOP running everything. It’s going to be bad. It’s going to be ugly. People are going to get hurt. We are going to have to keep fighting and resisting and it’s going to be exhausting.

But there’s still us. You and me and the rest of us who didn’t want this and who will fight against it. There are more of us than there are of them. That matters.

Not to sound all Gandolf-y but no one wants dark times. But that is not for us to decide. All we can decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

Tomorrow is the first day of a new year. There’s art to be made. Art to fight, art to comfort, art to make us laugh. We’re at the starting line, artists. Take your mark.

On that note, writers, photographers, artists of all flavors, John Grochalski is restarting Winedrunk Sidewalk. He needs your help. Submissions can be sent to winedrunksidewalk@gmail.com

I’ve told my husband a few times that I think this year is worse than 2014, and he keeps disagreeing with me. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Maybe that’s the power of perspective.

But on the last day of 2014, after the diagnosis and the surgery and the radiation and everything was finally finished, and the worst year of my life was coming to an end this is what I posted.

magicalworld

I still believe it’s a magical world. I always will because that is central to the core of who I am and how I navigate through my life and this world.

And not cancer or a monster in the white house is going to shake that.

Happy New Year, my friends. Know that I love you. Let’s take care of each other. Let’s go exploring.

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

2016: The Year Everyone Died

24 Feb

And just like that, February is almost over.

I finally stumbled out of the David Bowie mourning phase. In the meantime, every creative person in the world seems to be dropping like flies. First Bowie, then Alan Rickman, Glen Fry, George Gaynes, Dan Haggerty, Clarence “Blowfly” Reid, Harper Lee, Umerto Eco, Abe Vigoda, for Pete’s sake.

2016: The Year Everyone Died.

I think it’s time to form a protective circle around Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.

That said, let’s recap: I have much thanks to give.

So first off, thank you to the Commonline Journal for accepting this poem, The Preacher. The subway continues to be a never-ending supply of sad/weird/beautiful.

And to Red Fez for taking Thirty-Seven.

And to Dead Snakes for giving a home to Membership, Blackstar and Radiation Day 26. All cancer poems and I swear, Blackstar was written before I knew anything about Bowie’s last album. Honest.

Also thanks to Drunk Monkeys for giving a home to When David Bowie Was Dying.

Speaking of the late great Starman, I also wrote this essay for Barrelhouse called Can You Hear Me, Major Tom? which owes a special thank you to my older sister, Jennifer who was the first one to introduce me to Bowie. A gift she probably didn’t realize that I would carry through my entire life. So thanks, Jenn. You’re a good sister.

 

I was really excited to have my essay included, because guys, honestly, there are some really amazing stories in here. And, because Barrelhouse is so awesome, they decided to put the whole thing together in a free downloadable ebook entitled And The Stars Look Very Different Today: Writers Felfect on David Bowie

How cool is this??!! Thanks so much to Barrelhouse, especially Sheila who rocks.

static1.squarespace.com

Since Bowie died, there have been tons of really great tributes, but I think my favorite so far is Strung Out In Heaven.

Bowie-AFP-COVER-option-2-EDIT.jpg

Jherek Bischoff and Amanda Palmer pulled this lovely tribute together thanks to her Patreon. John Cameron Mitchell is on it and when I say that the German version of Heroes is incredible, I mean uber-incredible.

The track listing is fantastic, the strings are divine and yes, I cry when I listen to it. It’s cathartic. Leave me alone.

In non-Bowie news (What? What’s that?) I am really excited to say that I joined the staff of Yellow Chair Review as an essayist/interviewer/whatever-random-tidbits-I-think-of-saying-that-the-editor-in-chief-agrees-to-publish-ist.

My first piece went up this month. It’s about lying and telling the truth and the importance of doing both in storytelling as long as you have heaps and heaps of empathy. Empathy is everything (in life too). It’s mainly about people’s reactions to This Is Sarah and their disappointment when I explained to them that I was neither Claire, nor Colin, nor Sarah. That while I made them and their story up, the emotions behind it are real.

Because I am real. I swear.

So thank you to everyone for everything and all that. Hugs and starbursts forever.

**********************************************************************

Next up, I had some time off last month and that meant that I was able to go gallivanting around New York City, my home, as a tourist/traveler. No I’m not talking about the Empire State Building, I’m talking about ART-ING.

We hit The Met, the MoMA, and some galleries (eek!) which was really a big deal cause honestly, that can be super awkward. First off, I can’t buy actual art on a librarian’s salary so if I get a hard sell I tend to just stare at the ceiling until they give up and walk away. Secondly, often we’re the only people in the place which means that either a) they act like you’re not there and you feel like you’ve crashed some private party or b) they act like you want a personal tour and you have to make awkward small talk and pretend that you know how to talk about art.

That said, awkwardness aside, galleries are totally worth it. Museums are great, don’t get me wrong. You need to go see all the Rembrandts and Monets and Van Goghs. But seeing the work of contemporary – sometimes still living breathing artists –  is so important.

It’s like a water fountain that fills my thirsty art-making face. Or something like that.

So the first was a Betty Tompkin’s exhibit at FLAG entitled Women: WORDS Phrases and Stories. I’m not going to go into too much detail here because Sarah at YCR  might (fingers crossed) publish the thought piece/review I did on the exhibit. So I’ll just share some images. We’ll let the art speak for itself.

 

I also saw Vincent Smith’s work. Mr. Smith, who passed away in 2004, was a prominent member of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960’s and 70’s and a Brooklyn native (woot!). He gets compared to Romare Bearden (which I can definitely see) but there’s something very Debuffet going on here, don’t you think?

The actual canvas is covered in dirt and rocks that have been painted giving it so much texture – hence my Debuffet comment.

So to recap, galleries =a touch intimidating but definitely good.

The return to writing the last two weeks has been good. Actually wrote some poems thanks to reading Eileen Myles who is incredible. Really moved by how frank she is.

And back to working on Gravity Wins, the book about my falling in love and then off a waterfall. #LongStory

That said, been reading through my old journals and even thought I know hindsight is 20/20 and even though I know it wasn’t really like this, part of 1993-1994 with two very good friends felt an awful lot like the dance scene from Godard’s Bande A Part:

 

and also this:

 

Peace love and starbursts,

Ally

 

We Contain Multitudes. With or Without the Little Dudes

31 Aug

First as always – the thanks yous:

Thanks to Your One Phone Call for giving this poem, Universe, a home and to Commonline Journal for accepting this one about waking up in the middle of surgery….cause that was all kinds of “awesome”.

************************************************************************************************************************************************************

gustav-klimt-mother-and-child-80958

Gustav Klimt’s Mother and Child painting

So I read this piece the other day by Amanda Palmer (musician, living statue, author, shit stirrer and soon to be new mother) a response to a fan who was displeased with her (Amanda’s) decision to procreate and it really struck a nerve which, considering I don’t have children, I found sort of odd.

A little background on that whole childless/free thing. My husband and I are both writers who keep full time jobs. That means that in order to get the real work done, we need to make sacrifices. The main sacrifice we have made for the last decade is sleep. We both get up at 4:30 in the morning, five days a week, in order to get some writing done. On the whole it’s been a fair trade. Prior to doing this I barely got anything done. Since then I’ve written 3 novels and 2 books of poetry almost all of which has been accepted for publication or already published. So though I’m dead in the water by 10 pm, I still do it.

That said, we have at different periods in our life both causally and seriously debated having children. I know lots of people that are and have been decidedly in one camp or the other but for me, I feel as though the uncertainty about this choice is how I knew I was taking it seriously.

Like if I was 100% YES KIDS or 100% NO FOOKING WAY then maybe I wasn’t really thinking the whole thing through. There’s good and bad to everything when you put it on the scales.

So we waffled for awhile and then, over time, as our lives changed and we traveled more, we slid down the shoot into the No Thanks Camp.

And then I got cancer.

The first oncologist I saw, rather condescendingly, told me to save my eggs because even if I *think* I don’t want kids, he’s seen loads of women regret that choice and you’re only 37 blah blah blah. Needless to say, this guy isn’t my doctor. Once treatment actually started another doctor posed the same question and when we told him no, we weren’t having kids, he mimed wiping sweat off his brow and said, “Oh good. That makes my job way easier.”

And there it was. Crystalized and sharp, like a knife cut.

The thing that I had always been empowered by, the CHOICE that I had made and subsequently re-made was magically no  longer a choice.

It went from being a thing that I did, to a thing that was done to me.

In case you don’t understand, these are very very different things.

And my feelings about it were a surprise even to me.

I wrote a poem about this exact thing in which I said this:

And right there everything comes together

Needlepoint sharp.

I see the split in the road and it is permanent.

There is a cold hard difference

between setting down something precious

and having it pulled from your hands

still wet with afterbirth.

And in that moment I learned that we contain more multitudes than we even realize.

So when Amanda responded to a fan who proposed that now that she was going to have a kid that she would be incapable of making good art, or art at all, it got me thinking….if this disease hadn’t happened to me, if my husband and I had changed our minds, how we would manage to make art with a child?

I believe in my commitment to writing. Even though it’s hard, I pull myself out of the bed, I stare at that empty screen every morning and try to cobble together some record of what it’s been like to live in this world, in this life. And I believe that if the desire was strong enough, we would have a kid and find a way to make it work. I have no idea how but I believe in us enough to know that we would. It might have been messy and it might have been hard but we would have done it.

Like Amanda says, “Jump and the net shall appear.”

To say that mothers can’t be artists or artists can’t be mothers is to, once again, limit the potential that women have. To tell them that with their one beautiful life, the only one they will ever have, they can only choose to be one thing.

I reject that.

Did anyone send Amanda’s husband a similar letter? I can see it now:

Dear Neil Gaiman,

Now that you’re a father, I guess all the award winning books and stories are going to turn into sentimental schlock because that’s what fathers do, right?

Signed,

A Disappointed Fan

No. Of course not. That sounds ludicrous. Because the American dream, i.e. I Can Be/Have/Do Anything I Want As Long As I Work Hard Enough isn’t applied across the board evenly.

Or maybe it’s because America doesn’t consider art-making “real work.”

The same way it doesn’t consider motherhood to be “real work.”

Every time we limit ourselves to one signifying descriptor, we lose the chance to find something amazing in ourselves, our lives and the people around us.

These terms are just terms. They don’t have to have power. Women have always made art. And they have always been mothers. Men have always made art and they have always been fathers.

And business men

And we have always been sons and daughters.

And leaders and liars.

And thieves and lovers

and kings and queens.

The point is we all contain multitudes with or without the little dudes.

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

P.S. – here’s a great list of books that address this whole motherhood and art thing. And this movie!

This Is Sarah Turns One

13 Jul

Hi kids

So here we are….in the middle of July already.

Crazy.

Back on July 4th, THIS IS SARAH turned 1.

this is sarah

Suddenly Claire is everything in the world, everything beautiful, alive, peaceful, and good, and it’s all getting away from me.

The farther she gets from me, the closer she gets to the monsters, and all I want in the world is for Claire to always be safe.

Jesus fucking Christ, I just want to be able to save one of them.

It’s weird to me that this book has been around for a year because it feels so much shorter and then oddly enough so much longer. I was reading through my old journal the other day – seeing what I was up to this time last year…as if I forgot.

One month into diagnosis, my cancer still a secret from my parents, my father crazy sick in the hospital and my first (of three) surgeries looming on the horizon – the only thing that was holding me upright (aside from my husband and sisters) was working on Sarah.

I know that writing is never “effortless” but there are those times where a story wants to be told so badly that it really helps you out in the unfolding. That was Sarah. And thank god for it. Because it was the only time during the day, at 5 am squirreled into my little writing closet, that CANCER wasn’t everything. It’s like my brain shut the fuck up for awhile and just let me work. I’m eternally thankful for that.

Art saves.

If you haven’t read it and you’re interested, here’s what people think and here’s where you can get it. Or email me and I can get it to you. Contact is under the About tab.

In other news, I’ve got some poems published here, here and here. So thanks to Eye on Life and Yellow Chair Review for giving them a home.

tumblr_msphu7TT7Z1qz72w7o1_500

Writing on the new book is going surprisingly well. I’m acknowledging that so that when I get to the stage where I’m all “EVERYTHING IS SO AWFUL WHY DO I WRITE I HATE LIFE” I can look back and remember it didn’t always feel that way. I think part of it is that it’s based on semi-true events (During high school I fell off a waterfall, cracked my skull open and simultaneously got my heart broken) and the characters are semi-based on real people. Also I feel like emotionally, a large chunk of me still lives in that time – when I was sixteen and fucked up and everything I couldn’t say but wanted to could be put into a mixtape. Music spoke for me.

Wound up having an interesting conversation when I posted about the art of making a mixtape and how playlists just aren’t the same. As a friend pointed out, you can make a list on spotify but once someone hits shuffle it messes up your continuity. With a mixtape you were THERE, you were IN, from start to finish. There was an art to it. It was a thing that was crafted with love for a specific person. They were the audience. It mattered what song followed which song.

AND it mattered what sort of tape you used. TDK? Maxell? Memorex? A great mix on a good quality tape? That was love. Real love.

First love.

Like, I said, it’s just not the same with a playlist. Something has been lost in the translation.

At the same time I’ve been working on my query letter for Palimpsest with the always incredible Brad Abraham, screenwriter, creator of the comic Mixtape and the soon to be released Magicians Impossible (St. Martin’s Press). You want to know what I’ve learned so far?

It’s much easier to write a 113K word novel combining physics, Nietzsche, chess, time travel and memory over the course of 5 (ahem) years than it is to write a 300 word query explaining it. I should have started this bloody thing when I started the novel. Basically the problem is that a query is full of all the stuff that your writing instinct says “don’t do.” Like asking a question and then answering it. Things like this:

“So WILL Ally ever learn how to write a decent punchy query that agents will actually want to read? Probably when she’s done banging her head against the wall.”

Brad has been unendingly patient as we go through draft after draft after draft after draft after……

And finally, because it’s time, this is going to be my summer.

Toronto-Book-Fair-Ulysses

As the kids say,

StiflerPeace, love and starbursts,

Ally

London Liverpool LONG Recap

18 Apr

Oy, mates.

So I’m back from my recent trip to London and Liverpool which was amazing. In fact, I dare say it will be a tough trip to beat. I just love London. My mother keeps insisting that I move there so she can have a reason to come visit me. We’ll just pretend that my mother didn’t tell me to move to the other side of the ocean (Just kidding, Dish. I love you!).

So first off – LONDON.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trafalgar Square

This was our second trip to this fantastic city. I loved it the first time but this time, I really got to know it. Like walk around without a map sort of know it. And if any of you have been to London with it’s bazillions little no name streets (come on London, that’s why we build grids in NYC and use numbers. Easy Squeazy Lemon Peazy).

So here’s some places we went:

St. Martin in the Fields

That’s St. Martin in the Fields. I’m a big classical music fan and back at home on WQXR I occasionally get to hear performances done in St. Martin in the Fields and I finally got to go to one! They’ve been hosting these FREE concerts for 75 years (did I mention they were free, cause they are. Though they’ve got a donation box, and honestly, what’s wrong with you? Donate a little). They did a variety of pieces by Handel including a stunning soloist  and a trumpeter who placed a Baroque trumpet (no spit valve so watch the floor!).

Hey wanna know something cool I learned about the lions in Trafalgar Square – the sculptor who made them had never seen a lion so he modeled the feet after his dog instead.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And of course we say this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And we went here:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Where we saw this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and he did this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

And I did this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And we also went here:

Charles Dickens House and Museum

Charles Dickens House and Museum

 

where we saw this:

Charles Dicken's writing desk

Charles Dicken’s writing desk

I know it’s kind of blurry cause you couldn’t have the flash on but that is Charles Dicken’s writing desk. He wrote Oliver Twist in this room, on that desk. Seriously *MindBlown*

And we went here:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But only “real” explorers get to go inside. Whatever that means.

But they did have this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Which was cool but nearly as cool as this:

Robert Falcon Scott Monument

Robert Falcon Scott Monument

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

And in case you didn’t know how much I love Robert Falcon Scott, proof.

We also went to lots of writers homes and musicians homes but I’m saving that for a new blog that I’m creating for fellow travelers. But I will say we did see the rooftop where Elton John wrote Your Song, some Rolling Stones homes, David Bowie’s apt and where he took the picture for Ziggy Stardust.

Okay that one I’ll show you

It was here:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And now it’s this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But you remember it like this:

ziggy

Where were we?

Oh yes, museums! All the museums in London are free which is such a fantastic way to promote and foster the arts (I’m looking at you, NYC).

It was like ART OVERLOAD but here are some highlights:

Ballet Dancers by Degas

Ballet Dancers by Degas

Venus and Mars by Botticelli

Venus and Mars by Botticelli

Bathers at Asnieres by Seraut

Bathers at Asnieres by Seraut

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

'The Rokeby Venus by Velazquez

‘The Rokeby Venus by Velazquez

Van Gogh's Sunflowers

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

 

We also went to the Handel house (it was a very Handel themed trip apparently)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

which happened to be right next door to this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Handel house was great, and one of the best things about it is that on the ground floor they have a small rehearsal area that musicians can book and we were lucky enough to be there when people were practicing which really brought the whole thing to life.

We also did a Jack the Ripper walking tour of the East End, which was cool because the first time we went to London we didn’t get past the Tower Bridge and I really wanted to go to WhiteChapel.

You can still find the actual spot where Jack the Ripper killed his victims on the street:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

It’s even creepier if you picture 1888 gaslight London

Also, the East End has some fantastic graffiti:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

And no trip to London would be complete with a walk over the Tower Bridge

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

To Southwark to see the Globe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

have some pie at Manzees

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seriously, this stuff is amazing. Look every pub in London sells meat pies. And all the meat pies are good. I mean, how could it not be good. It’s a pie….full of meat…..with mashed potatoes on the side. But what happens at Manzee is MAGICAL. It’s worth the visit down Tower Bridge Road.

And finally, because you all know how obsessed I am with Doctor Who we walked all the way across London to find this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Look at it! A TARDIS just sitting outside the Earl’s Court Tube Station.

I died.

Seriously. DIED.

Can you see how happy I am? Cause I’m so happy. Happy and dead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

And then there’s still LIVERPOOL. You know what’s great about Liverpool? Everyone sounds like George Harrison. Seriously!

We saw the Cavern Club, which to be honest was sort of a disappointment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

It’s not the original – that was torn down even though the bloody Beatles played something like 250 shows there. So they built this one a little down the way from where it was. Jay does a better job of explaining what it was like so I’ll let him talk for a change.

But they do have this outside which was pretty cool

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We stopped off at a couple of John and Stu Sutcliff’s favorite pubs

First Ye Cracke (insert snickering here)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

See, proof

John Lennon at Ye Cracke

John Lennon at Ye Cracke

 

And also The Phil

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

mmmmm ciders!

 

And of course we went to Mendips, John’s childhood home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

To see John and Paul’s place you have to buy tickets for the National Trust tour. That’s the only way you can get inside and honestly, being inside is the whole point. Standing in John Lennon’s tiny (so tiny) bedroom was surreal. I thought about him, with his feet up on the wall, coming up with the words to Hello Little Girl. As he told Yoko when he took her by, “There it is Yoko. That’s where I did all my dreaming.”

In the back was were the trees that overlooked Strawberry Fields….”No one I think is in my tree….”

The guide told great stories about Mimi, a stern but good woman who raised John from the age of 5.

Afterwards we went back on the bus and headed down to 20 Forthlin Road, Paul McCartney’s home

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was an council house – which is a form of public housing built for working class families. They were rented not owned. Mimi, John’s aunt, didn’t think much of people who lived in council houses, but she liked Paul because he spoke ‘proper English’ and didn’t sound like a Scouser (Liverpool accent – basically what George sounds like).  Their carpets were sewn together from scraps of other carpets, one big patchwork and the walls were lined in mismatched wall paper. The walls are also covered in pictures that Mike, Paul’s older brother took of ‘Our Kid’ (his nickname of Paul).

This is Paul and Mike with his mother Mary who died when the boys were young. In fact after John lost his mother, Julia, in a car accident he bonded with Paul as they were both now motherless. Paul wrote Let it Be for his mother.

public-dm-orig-5-8-02-2-jpg

And one of my other favorites ones, of Paul climbing the drainpipe outside. He used to do that as a kid when his father locked him out for missing dinner.

tumblr_mbximvclOT1qj8eqho1_500

And here he is with John…working out I Saw Her Standing There in his living room, where they would practice when they cut school.

tumblr_m7fhlr7kwj1r5cmgfo1_500

 

I stood right next to that fireplace.

Crazy.

Okay I’m getting carried away and there’s still a lot to cover.

We also found George and Ringo’s place during an epic trip through the suburbs of Liverpool that I wrote about here and that I’ll go into more depth about on the new travel blog I’m going to keep.

But here’s George’s place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This one is special for me. Not just cause it’s George and I adore him (if I’m FORCED to pick a favorite, it’s George) and not just cause the people who live there don’t like people coming around to take pictures but because this is the first house we found after being told it was IMPOSSIBLE. We were told by shop clerks and tour guides not to bother. Take a taxi tour, they said. Get on the Magical Mystery Bus. As soon as they told me I couldn’t find it was the moment I knew I would. I’m stubborn like that. With our day bus pass in hand we found our way all over Liverpool.

To Penny Lane:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To Strawberry Fields:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To the churchyard where the QuarryMen played their first show

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Which if you look closely has this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This particular gem was shown to us by a small Chinese couple that spoke broken English. As soon as we walked in the graveyard they beckoned us over and pointed it out and then he mimicked John Lennon playing his guitar.

Then across the street to the place where John and Paul met.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Where they hung this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pete Shotton: “Hey Paul, John wants to know if you want to join the group.” Paul: “Okay” *rides off on his bike*

 

And then to Julia’s house, where for a small precious period of time, John had her back in his life. Not as a mother but as a friend. Julia taught John to play the guitar. John referenced Julia in quite a few songs, but most famously in Julia, which also has references to Yoko Ono. (Ono in Japanese means child of the sea)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And then finally to the Dingle, where Ringo was born

It was a craphole then and it’s a craphole now. Such a craphole that I made us leave early when I thought I heard voices behind the shuttered and boarded up windows and feared being robbed by squatters. I’m such an idiot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And then of course there was Stu Sutcliffe.

stu-sized

 

Stu was the Fifth Beatle, a best friend of John’s, an amazing painter and unfortunately a pretty crappy bass player.

Stu left the band to study painting, his true passion, in Germany with his girlfriend Astrid Kirchner. Astrid not only took some of the most iconic pictures of the Beatles, but she was the reason they got their Beatle haircut. Tragically Stu died at the age of 21 from what is believed to have been a cerebral hemorrhage.

When he and John were in art school together, they lived on Gambier Terrace, in this loft.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stu is buried in Liverpool and finding his grave was one of the few things we didn’t get to.

But we did go into the Walker Art Gallery and found his art. I can’t help but think Stu would have appreciated us picking his art over his old bones.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hamburg 2

It’s pretty amazing isn’t it?

I think he would have been an incredible force in the art world.

 

So I think that’s about it. I had the best time with this guy:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Everyone should be so lucky to have a traveling buddy like this.

So Cheers!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And Goodbye England!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

P.S…..Trish the Dish and Big Ron (ie. Mom and Dad) the backpacks were AMAZING. I never knew I could carry that much crap on my back. You’re the bestest.

 

 

Pushcart, Poems, and Paintings

23 Sep

cover_2013

So the really wonderful ladies over at Blue Hour press were nice enough to nominate my poem, Worship for a Pushcart. The Pushcart is a best of the small press award. I think it’s 100% awesome that out of all the poems that Blue Hour published this year, they picked mine. I can’t thank them enough for their support. As I’ve said before, I have the utmost respect for small presses.

Speaking of poetry, I’ve started writing a chapbook tentatively titled How To Be An American. Normally when I put a chapbook together, I just haphazardly throw together 50-60 poems and hope for the best. But this time, I’m writing with a theme.

Ha.

So I’ve been reading this book called Culture Shock: America which was written to acclimate new immigrants to the weird ways of Americans. The whole things has been sort of strange because while the book definitely has gross assumptions and stereotypes, some of it hits so close to home it’s unsettling. I pulling a line from the book and then writing a poem. Like this:

Americans Have an Enthusiastic Look. They Feel Empowered. No one Else Has That Special Kind of Confidence

 

Making our way through Paris,

my husband has left behind the baseball caps

that normally grace his head.

We’ve packed only plain t-shirts.

We keep the map folded, out of sight in our back pocket.

We speak in low, hushed tones

anxious about speaking English

and our American accents

and yet,

here he comes, in tight jeans, a small scarf,

his face shaved,

lithe, attractive,

crossing the wide open

space of the garden

points and says “Obama, ça va?”

He gives us a thumbs-up and a too loud laugh before passing.

So this weekend, I went to see the Chagall exhibit at the Jewish Museum and on the way, had a conversation with the mister about ny and he was telling me about this thing that he read on Salon (which I can’t find to link to) about two competing writers talking about the cost of NYC. Here’s my take on this. Rent is high, but there are so many cheap/free things to do in the city it’s insane. All summer there are free movies, free Shakespeare in the Park, plays that have discounted nights, nearly every museum has a free day. For instance every Saturday you can see these for free from now until February:

and every friday night, you can go to the MoMA, like we did after the Chagall, and see these for free:

and you know, not to mention this:

 

And then afterwards you’ll spend all day singing Rene and Georgette Magritte with their dog….after the war. (Curse you Paul Simon!)

All I’m saying is it’s a pretty good deal. People should really take advantage of it.

Peace, love and arty-happiness,

Ally

Camp Visits, Lizzy on Sale, and Art, Oh My!

4 Jun

title3.jpg

Hi folks!

So some update-y things to share. First and foremost I’m so excited for my first Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb reading/author visit which is coming up this summer at Surprise Lake Camp!

Yup, I’m that excited.

So when the lovely folks at SLC invited me to come up and hang out and read some of Lizzy to the campers I jumped at the chance and figured the least I could do was give them a discount which I then figured, hey, everyone deserves a bit of a sale.

So, the print copy of Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb is officially ON SALE for 10.99 (though right now Amazon’s got it for less than $10! Yipee!)

You can BUY IT HERE.

So if there’s a kid in your life who likes adventure and mythology and plays and bad guys getting hit in the face with tomatoes, you know what to do. (i.e. click above, silly mortals!)

So aside from reading from Lizzy we’re going to do some crafts and have some giveaways and  I’ll sign some books and we’ll all hang out and hopefully everything will go according to plan. I will admit being a wee bit nervous about it. If I don’t return, assume I’ve been devoured by book -loving eleven year olds. There are worse ways to go.

What else?

I just recently learned about Bloomsbury Spark, the new imprint of Bloomsbury that is digital only. I think this is a pretty cool opportunity for new writers (and un-agented writers) to get their work in the hands of an esteemed publisher. They’re accepting submissions (25 to 60K words) in all genres of teen, YA and New Adult.

So writer friends, get writing. Clicky clicky here for more about Bloomsbury.

I chose to toss my hat in and took a break from revising Palimpsest to expand a short story I wrote a year ago about a teenage boy dealing with life after his girlfriend goes missing. Thus far it’s been a lot of fun – er, as fun as a depressing topic like that is. I’ve always liked the initial spark  of creation so the beginning of writing has always been my favorite part. Revising? Not so much. But right now it’s just fun to alternate between what I”m chipping down and what I’m building up.

Also, on top of that I’ve increased my 5 am writing mornings to 6 days a week. Last week was the first one and it was great (10K words in one week!) but I fear exhaustion will overtake me and I”ll be found drooling on my laptop muttering about how to get my hands on one of those Time Turners from Hogwarts.

If I don’t emerge from my writing closet, send unsweetened tea and a kitty.

And finally, ART stuff.

I want to preface this by saying that I am a fan of Amanda Palmer because I love her music and as I came to “know” her via twitter and her blog, I came to agree with many of her sentiments, especially about how losing our CAPACITY TO EMPATHIZE STRIPS US OF OUR HUMANITY

I think it’s something that doesn’t get enough air time hence the capitalizing.

Amanda Palmer recently did a talk at Grub Street’s 2013 “The Muse and the Marketplace. It’s worth a watch. The transcript is here.

Also, before I go on, Eve Bridburg who created Grub Street has really insightful things to say about it here.

So art. Capital A art.

I think the parts of this that really hit home, for me, personally are the aspects about connecting and about the garret. How do you get people into your garret?

How do you put yourself out there?

How do you share?

Granted this is after you’ve mustered up the courage to write something and mustered up the determination to actually do it every single day and then mustered up the courage to not give up and then finally you pulled something out of your hat.

Something from nothing.

Something from you.

And then you hold it up and say “Hey! Everybody look what I did!” and you find yourself surrounded by people who say “Hey! Everybody look what I did!” or “No, look what I did!” and then there you are, in the marketplace that Ms. Palmer talks about, huddling your poor baby to your chest hoping for the best.

So what do you do? To be honest, I don’t know. I know that the best thing you can possibly do is work until your fingers bleed and be honest and be you and work as hard as you can, and then work harder than that and make some sacrifices and some mistakes and then some brilliant mistakes.

Like they say in that baseball movie “If you build it, they will come.”

The best thing about publishing Lizzy was sharing it with other people, especially kids.

Making those connections.

“You ever notice that THIS looks like THIS.”

It’s an amazing, weird, fascinating time for artists. Jump in, kids. The water’s fine.

And super finally, today is a year since my girl’s been gone and B, I miss you like mad. Life in the Bunker just ain’t been the same. june 008

%d bloggers like this: