Saturday, February 25, 2012

Live and Unplugged! More to Come March 19th.

     I am pleased to report that 99% Guerrilla Literature went really well, thanks to everyone involved.  The space provided by Brickbat Revue felt really full, warm and inviting.  The Brewery Arts Colony is a sight to behold, so cool to see artists at work as well as artists in their lofts.  The Brewery Arts Colony once housed Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, hence the name.  Love how arts transforms and revitalizes our urban spaces.

    What's great about story circles also applies to reading/performing live.  There's an intimate bond created among all who are there.  A longing.  Magic.  When Bronwyn Mauldin reads from Streetwise Cycle, you feel the pulse of the city coursing through your veins, the adrenalin sharpening your senses.  When Mathew Timmons conducts his chorale, you're suddenly enchanted and will never look at another credit card offer quite the same way.

     And for me, reading from Junk Bonds, was a thrill for various reasons.  Foremost, normally actors perform for me and I stay behind the scenes, pacing or shaking nervously.  Second, I'm elated that Junk Bonds still resonates today and has re-emerged as a major topic of discussion during interviews.  The themes and issues explored in Junk Bonds are just as relevant today as the day I penned the play.  And perhaps more urgent with the ever widening divide between the haves and the have-nots.  Who has a roof over their head?  Healthcare?  Who can you trust?  Facebook?  Your Bank?  Financial advisers?  The Government?  Google?  Amazon?  Why is your house worth $85 and your monthly mortgage payment $3000?

   No one grows up in this country wanting to be like Oliver Twist, poor, homeless, and unloved.  How did we get here?

   Here are some photos of the event.   I hope you'll join me March 19th for my final workshop at the Annenberg when I read selections from my work.  

    Some of you asked at the reading where to purchase, JUNK BONDS is available from Original Works Publishing (, and yes, Amazon, and can be read on e-readers like Kindle.  Thank you for your support.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Behold The Power of the Story Circle

Our second story circle was held in the Sand & Surf room, overlooking the pool at the Annenberg Beach House.  With a theme like Stand Up & Laugh, and another gorgeous day at the Beach, there was sure to be waves of love and laughter.   About 25 of us joined in the fun and the adventure.  The photo was taken before the story-sharing so, unfortunately, we're missing a few latecomers.

Earlier that morning, LA Magazine sent over Jason Kehe to interview me, and find out what I was up to :-).  I assured him, all things good :-)  Naomi and I were thrilled!  Ruthie Kott, editor of the University of Chicago Alumni Magazine, told me I'll be in the March/April issue.  

We shared many embarrassing moments, as well as countless stories of how humor enabled us to heal, grow, overcome.  Participants thanked me for creating a safe place where we can connect, remember who we were, reclaim who we are, and stake out who we want to be.  Sharing stories is a lot like swapping spit, or kissing.   It creates this intimacy and this longing that you never want to end, or break.  Richard & Rahla graciously invited everyone to their home in Topanga Canyon at a future date to be determined.  

That's right.  History repeated itself.  Independently.   Richard & Ralla had no idea that Eli & Shayna (also in attendance)  invited us to their lovely home after the first story circle.  I was tickled pink.  Imagined Marion Davies was too. 

Behold The Power of the Circle.  The Power of Your Stories.  Our Stories.

As some of you know, and expressed interest in attending, I'm reading Tuesday night, downtown LA.  99% Guerrilla Literature, 100% Fun.  Downtown LA, Brewery Art Colony.  Love to see you there if you can make it.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mission Accomplished: TEEN MOGUL, the play vs the novel

My primary goal during this residency was to adapt my (unpublished) novel TEEN MOGUL into a play.  I'm happy to report this was one Mission Accomplished.

No, that doesn't mean it's "finished finished."   I will probably go over it several hundred more times, agonizing word by word :-).  I will want to hear it.  See it.   Imagine it.  Oscar Wilde said works are never finished, merely abandoned.  So, so true.  Nothing's ever perfect.  But as another great, Leonard Cohen, says, that's how the light gets in.  Through the cracks.  

So when Naomi asks me what I'm going to read in March, I'm nervous.  Giddy.  Is TEEN MOGUL ready for her closeup :-)?

TEEN MOGUL, the play, takes a few departures from the novel.  Most notably, the ethnicity of the protagonist (Tracy) is not specified to encourage open casting.

In the novel, Tracy is Tracy Chen, Asian American, but she really didn't have to be.  She could have been a Marion Davies.  The story is about how a girl is forced to save her family, her house, and her self once her mother abandons the family.  It's an uplifting story, empowering, and one adapted from true life. My mother did abandon us, and send us in a downward spiral.  I did work for a medium size consulting firm, and I was nominated to the Board of Directors at 16.  All true.  In a novel, you have to be very specific.  And since it was inspired by my real life, agents thought the protagonist should be Asian American like me.  I thought, why not?

As a girl, I remember wanting desperately to see more Asian Americans represented in the media.   My friend Yvette Heylinger told me less than 2% women playwrights of color are produced.  Less than 2%.

The novel and the play cover different territory.  My former "mentor" Romulus Linney said, a play is like a moving train.  A book, you can open, shut, come back to.  In the play, you must keep moving.  Playing.  People in the very last row have to be able to follow along as well as people in the front row.
You cannot have too many characters, too much exposition, too much.  I want the play to be producible on a wide economic scale, from low to high production values.

So there's a lot in the book that unfortunately I just had to leave out, leave out for book lovers to discover and hopefully enjoy in the novel.  I felt terrible, at times, but you write in service of your craft.   The story must work, hold, move.  The same way people always complain about books being better than the movie, I hope they don't complain the book is better than the play.  The truth of the matter is....

They're totally different beasts.   I hope, powerful beasts of delight.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Zoe's Serenata -- Some Enchanted Evening

Thank you, Zoe
for nourishing us with your Serenata
Saturday night was some enchanted evening.

As previously mentioned, after my first story circle at the Marion Davies Guest House, my group hungered for more.  Since food is banned at the Guest House, Eli and Shayna graciously offered to open up their beautiful home, and turn their kitchen over to Zoe.  Thank you, Eli and Shayna.

I know for a fact that more people wanted to come, but it's impossible to pick a date where everyone can make it.  In fact, I wasn't even sure I could because of some glitch of not receiving the first invite, and the date being my husband's BD.  Would my husband want to celebrate his BD with "strangers?"  It'll be like a party.  You'll have a great time.  And based on what I relayed to him about our first story circle, he was totally open and receptive -- as long as I promised not to spend his entire BD in the kitchen cooking which is actually tougher than it sounds, given the instructions to bring a story and a dish.

As some of you know, I've been trying to eat sensuously.  Food that is good for you, good to you, enlivens your senses, enhances life and sense of overall well-being.   Of course with so many bakeries, I thought about dessert.  But so many people I know are trying to cut down on sugar, and growing up mostly on savory, I don't really have too many stories about dessert.

I settled on buffalo chicken wings because in my family, we fought hard for those chicken wings.  My father used to say, the things that move the most taste the best.  Including the bone marrow.  In my house, we demolished those chicken wings into a pile of bones.   I lost half a tooth to a chicken bone.   Chicken wings are not for sissies :-)   Once, when my husband attended a law enforcement meeting in Buffalo, he stopped at the Anchor Bar, the home of the original buffalo chicken wings.  On the flight home, people offered him generous sums of cash for those wings, but he brought them home to me.

Turns out several people ate chicken feet while growing up, and love it!  Some of them had parents who burned off the plumage.  Scraped the scales off the feet, clipped the toenails.  We couldn't find chicken feet growing up in Akron, Ohio, so I was spared this delicacy.  Toby said she read the reason chicken soup was so effective at knocking out the common cold -- chicken feet flavoring the broth.  Oh, the stories dishes can tell, and the places dishes can transport us.

About sixteen of us were able to attend.  The stories that poured were marvelous, moving.  Zoe kicked the festivities off with how Serenata always comforts her.  How bacalao (salted cod) used to be peasant food, how the dish comforts her, reminds her of home, heals her, and now it is expensive, not unlike skirt steak.  Zoe shared how cooking can be very therapeutic, and get you through challenging times.  I couldn't agree more.  Marion Davies would also agree, which is why I love her hamburger quote so much, and learning that she was an ice cream addict, able to out-scoop and out-eat Howard Hughes.

Big hug and thanks also to Anette for allowing me to take her photograph.

Jeff told us how he could smell what was for dinner at his house five blocks away, and so could everyone else.  The aromas of curry, and dried fish travel far and wide.

As the name "Serenata" suggests, there was also music (serenading) involved.  Eli & Phil are gifted musicians, and played Hallelujah, one of my favorite Leonard Cohen songs, in my honor.

Anette and Eli drumming.

Phil holding forth

More Stories, More Dishes

Behold the power of a story circle.  We form tight intimate bonds, sharing the topics that bond us to each other, and make us whole.  Much like food.  Club/music scene on Sunset Strip.  Watts Riots.  Race and Racism.  Travel (mis)adventures.  Mishegoss.  You had to be there.

And you can, next February 18th.  Come experience the magic, the joy.  Anything can happen, and probably will.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Be Revolutionary; Stand Up and Laugh! A Tribute to Marion Davies

Want everyone to see and have the official invite.

We had such a delightful time at the first story circle that we didn't want it to end. Zoe offered to cook her Serenata so Eli and Shayna opened up their home this coming Saturday, and invited everyone to bring a dish, and the story behind the dish because as we know, every dish has at least one story.  

Looking forward to the magic that will surprise us February 18th.  

Check out "Tell Your Story Circle with Lucy Wang - "Be Revolutionary; Stand Up and Laugh!"..."  via