Sarah French Brennan, Aditi Fruitwala and the Race Monologues
March 31, 2011, 12:00 am
Filed under: Life!, Uncategorized | Tags:

When you name your project “The [insert word here] Monologues,” even if what you are doing is far removed from  what Eve Ensler did in The Vagina Monologues, expectations are pretty high. Sarah French Brennan and Aditi Fruitwala, the two main researchers for the anthropology project The Race Monologues, are living up to the name so far. They started collecting oral histories about people’s experiences with race and racism issues in America for a college class project and are now going through all the recordings they have collected from all parts of the country in order to put together a book and a play.

Speaking to Sarah and Aditi was a real eye-opener. The way people define race and experience it is never the same but those experiences are essential formative steps in our lives. Having done the exercise on myself, I can tell you that asking yourself “What is your personal experience with race and racism in America” can yield to very interesting results. Should you wish to share your thoughts following that little bit of introspection, Sarah and Aditi are still conducting interviews.

If you want more information on the Race Monologues or want to contact tonight’s guests, you can go to their website,

Special thanks to Katerina Hendershot who wrote about the Race Monologues for one of her classes, Race and Family Stories in US History, and was a great help in preparing the questions for this interview.

Quartet With Pyramid Scheme
March 25, 2011, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Art, Exhibition, Life!, Opinion | Tags:

My brother had been living in New York City for three years already when I moved up here.  At the time, he lived in one of Bushwick’s McKibbin lofts–a setting that has etched itself into the landscape of my memory–where he and his room mates would often host noise and improvised music shows.  They’d affectionately named their apartment Baghdad.  These shows were loud–rampant audible destruction.  They’d draw dozens and dozens of people, some nights.  The guys would house and host traveling musicians, like Tom Carter of Bharalanbides, James Ferraro as one half of The Skaters, and  Justice Yeldham–the man who ate glass. Once, Tony Conrad paid a visit.

I used to bring my other freshman friends; all of us wide-eyed at what we were witnessing.  That was four years ago.  “Remember when we used to go to shows at your brother’s place?,” a friend asked me maybe a month ago, “Shit was wild.”  I got into a conversation with my brother, Reed, the other day about those quasi-historic shows at Baghdad.  I told him how every once in a while I still hear from my friends about how distinct or strong of a memory the experience formed in the complex of their City experiences.  Reed seemed elated.  “That’s more than I could have asked for,” he said (and I’m paraphrasing here), “To have exposed someone to something new that they remember forever.”

If it weren’t for my brother, I would hardly be privy to extreme computer music, to what a patch is, to Max/MSP or Supercollider.  I may never fully understand the stochastic process that determines the size of the sound waves.

After one year, Reed and his room mates moved out of Baghdad.  No more pestering Hasidic landlords, no more memories to be made that take up a disproportional amount of my conception of freshman year.  But Reed, his friends, and colleagues have continued making and hosting this music.  In an extension of their sound installation Quartet Without Pyramid Scheme, hosted at Diapason Gallery in the fall of 2009, comes Quartet With Pyramid Scheme.

As an online sound installation, Quartet With Pyramid Scheme is a testament to its era.  No longer housed in an immobile four-sided room but on, Quartet With Pyramid Scheme is a social experiment as much as it is a sound installation.  When I made this point to Reed, he said he had never thought of it like that.  But with my head in the thick of social networking, this was one of the first ways in which I perceived the installation.  As I understand it, the only control the curators have over the product of the installation is through the patches they write before contributors are asked to join, and those contributors ask others to join, and those others ask other others, and so on.

I’m writing this post in a service to my brother and out of a desire to extend the same sense of discovery that he once shared with me.  Check out Quartet With Pyramid Scheme via the link below.  Pass it on to your friends and colleagues.  A process I began at Baghdad, permeate in the sound and allow it to hollow out a compartment or cabinet or room in the house of your memory.  Even if you don’t return to the stream, I guarantee the room will remain to challenge your sense of perception.


Zoe Rosenberg

Cooperative Living as per TreeHaus
March 24, 2011, 3:26 pm
Filed under: Life!, New York City, Projects | Tags:

As soon as all of my New York City college friends started moving out of their dorms and into Brooklyn, the word co-op entered my vocabulary.  I had heard the phrase before and not really understood what it was.  What I did know, though, was that it was a movement becoming more and more present.

I got in touch with Stephen, Aimee, and Grayson from the Brooklyn co-op TreeHaus after I saw their video on KickStarter.  They posted the video in an attempt to garner funds for their trip to NASCO (North American Students of Cooperation), and to raise funds for the documentary one of the house members is making about community living.  Their KickStarter video consisted of a little uke tune, three house members singing about community living (they have a chicken!) and I just couldn’t resist.  While our interview was fun (lots of giggles all around), it was also a really informative experience.  Check it out!


Grayson, Stephen, and Aimee in the studio

Zoe Rosenberg

Rohan Kamicheril and Karen Emmerich for Words Without Borders
March 17, 2011, 12:03 am
Filed under: Literature | Tags:

During the winter break, I went to a poetry reading at the Shakespeare and Company library in Paris where a bilingual edition of the magazine Chimera was being presented. After the poets’ work was read in English and French, there was a short discussion about the difficulties of translation. Unfortunately, very few questions were asked and I was let down.

So I thought I’d try to bring those issues to Citywide.

So that is how I found Words Without Borders. If I thought I had a fair perception of the cultural diversity of the world before, doing this interview taught me I have a whole lot to learn. And from what I discovered when interviewing Karen and Rohan, the world of literature that people miss because it was not initially published in English is much bigger than I could imagine.

Sedera Ranaivoarinosy

Vicky Shick and Barbara Kilpatrick for “Not Entirely Herself”
March 10, 2011, 1:00 am
Filed under: Art, Dance, Theater | Tags:

When I told my co-host Zoe that I would be interviewing Vicky Shick and Barbara Kilpatrick for Citywide, she chuckled and told me, “You really like interviewing people called Barbara,” alluding to my very first guest on the show, visual artist Barbara Lubliner. And although I don’t discriminate in my choice of guests by name, her comment stuck with me because as the interview went on that evening, I realized that there has been a common thread between all my interviews: the idea that art and culture are and should always be in motion. The additional component this interview adds to this perspective: this fluidity associates it with a certain level of uncertainty and ultimately keeps it interesting.

Vicky and Barbara came into the studio straight after a rehearsal for Not Entirely Herself, which will premiere at the Kitchen next Wednesday, March 16th. In scheduling the interview, Elise Kermani, the sound designer, was also invited to come but could not make it that specific night. During the interview, I learned they were probably in the most stressful period of production; it was a few days before they loaded into the theater, the show was still shifting… but it never felt like it would not get to where it should be. Maybe that came from the amazing complicity and trust between Vicky and Barbara…

In the interest of time – if you’d asked me when I started doing interviews for Citywide that I’d end up thinking that, sometimes, a 30-minute interview was too short, I would have laughed – I had to cut out the last question I asked Vicky and Barbara. I’ll transcribe it here instead. The answers translate some anxiety, but they also show their passion, the mood of the piece and again, the inspiring notion that art is not set and works as an exchange, both in its preparation and its performance.

Q – What is the one, single most important thing we should know about Not Entirely Herself before we see it?

A – Vicky: For me, maybe… it’s to not work too hard to figure out what it’s about and to slow down the breathing and have a look and you know, maybe some of it will be pleasurable.

Barbara: I would have to say that… to be open hearted and have an open mind and see it as a visual art form that will unfold in lots of different ways… you know, be attentive to the detail and enjoy the incredibly generous, beautifully gifted dancers.

Not Entirely Herself, featuring Marilyn Maywald, Jimena Paz, Maggie Thom (pictured), Neil Greenberg, Vicky Shick and live sound mixing by Elise Kermani, opens next week, March 16th, and runs until March 19th. For more information, visit

Sedera Ranaivoarinosy


Stefan Sullivan for Happy Clinic: on having his cake and eating it too
March 3, 2011, 7:40 am
Filed under: Art, Life!, Music | Tags:

I was once in this writing program where each week I was asked to write an introduction for myself.  This introduction always had to include three truths and one lie about me and my life.  While everyone in the program knew that their introduction possessed a bit of fiction, the audience was none-the-wiser.  I always felt a bit devious–certainly cunning–for the chance and ability to dupe the audience, as well as my fellow program members.  Hell, it was my life to play with.

But since that writing exercise, I’ve always been wary of autobiography–wary of autobiography and its potential to be fictionalized.  So when I started poking around the Happy Clinic website and Stefan Sullivan’s biography in preparation for our interview, I was aghast.  In remembering the three-truths-and-a-lie exercise, Stefan’s biography seemed a model of excellence.  How could one man truly be a Poly Sci and Russian graduate from Middlebury, hold an Oxford PhD about the Jesus figure in 19th century German philosophy, be an NGO operative in the war zones of the Caucasus, a well-published Washington based journalist, an internationally well-received author, and co-releasing an album all before the age of 50?

In an interview with Stefan, Joerg Plath makes the point that Mister Sullivan’s life has been “so turbulent that it easily suffices for two persons.” Touche, Joerg.  Stefan’s response to this point is something along the lines of–and I’m really paraphrasing here–instead of taking too much from one facet of his life, he nibbles and moves on.  Stefan has his cake and eats it too.  This has allowed him to have many fleeting, yet deeply impactful experiences.  It has allowed him to establish a life where the truth itself is a bit devious, and there’s plenty of material to play with.  Cue Happy Clinic, Stefan’s collaboration with musician, composer, and engineer Claus Bühler.

In our interview, Stefan talked about how the ephemeral and ecstatic moments of his life have remained in his consciousness, almost begging to become elegies to their own passing.  The result of this is Memory Mound, an album penned by Stefan and composed and performed by Stefan and Claus, with guest artists including Cecilia Colombo, Julius Krause, Scott Albert Johnson, and Gregg Robins.

Memory Mound is an often upbeat and slightly off-kilter homage to hedonism.  To date, the duo have a music video for the first track on the album, Lokomotiv.

Stefan is as much a storyteller as he is any of his other professions.  Listen in for his recollections of brushes with Thai sex tourism, losing his moral compass, and what it’s like to finally lead a “rather pedestrian life.”


Zoe Rosenberg