Archive for February, 2018


Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

— There’s an owl outside, 3 AM, talking to another owl. I imagine the nature of their commentary but I bet I’m wrong.

My mom lost her wedding ring again. Her house is complicated by an abundance of stuff. “I know I shouldn’t be so attached to objects,” she says, then, “Can you look in your house? Maybe I left it at your house.” She asks my dad to help her find it also. He’s dead but she finds the ring soon after, in a coin purse under a bag of hangers in the hall. “I have no idea how it got there.”

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My daughters ask, “Where’s your dad?”
“He’s a cardinal.”
“A bird?”
Later one daughter explains it to a friend. “Our grandpa got the germs from smoking cigarettes. Now he’s a bird.”
It isn’t quite the lesson I intended, but it’ll do. Plus, it avoids mention of his unwashed socks and hairbrush I keep around for company, or inspiration, I guess.

The day I got engaged I stopped in the woods to pee by a pine tree. Under the boughs, someone had stashed treasure: two tiny pistols and a fake gold bracelet. The joy of the day had me temporarily, morally confused and full of myself. I stole the treasure. I’m confounded by my behavior. I hate guns. My friend Patchen was murdered with a gun at twenty-six, and when I work at my daughters’ school store I spend those mornings surrounded by five-, six-, seven-year-olds in the bright open foyer, wondering, when is the man with the gun going to arrive? When is the man with the gun going to arrive?

But I took the loot, the small pistols from under the tree. Miniatures are concentrated divinity, bouillon cubes, and there they were like an offering, a marriage present, or a tunnel back to other treasures I’d lost underneath other trees on other happy days.

My mother bought me six green lemonade glasses for my doll house. I swallowed three of them, tantalizing capsules, wanting their smallness and beauty inside. The tiny hats my grandma Norma Stallings Nolan Santangelo made for me, while similarly irresistible, made a less appetizing meal. The hats remain, the glasses only partially.

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Objects are a problem. If I return the little guns now, my marriage might falter as I’m unsure of the magic they work.

Objects are a problem because they hold the dead. After my dad died I ate his half finished doughnut. I didn’t want to make a monument of his last breakfast treat, carrying an ancient piece of cake with me until it turned to dust. I know me. I have a clear vision of the jangly old woman I’ll become, wheeling my cart full of odd objects through life.
“How much for the bag of hangers, old woman?”
“They’re not for sale.”
“Well, what about that half-eaten donut?”

I inherited my neighbor’s end table, full-size. Both her sons were already gone: Vietnam, liver cancer, so I got a lot of her stuff. I found a disposable camera in one of the table’s drawers. When I sent the film out for processing, I won’t lie, I was hoping for a path back to the dead. Dori, Lindy, Randy. Time had really turned up the violet, blue and green in the film. Every image was of her peach tree laden with fruit.

I shouldn’t be so attached to objects either, and I’d like to return all the treasure I’ve stolen but those pistols are hard to decipher. Tiny and powerful. I don’t want to make a mistake with meaning or fortune. They grew that tree from a pit, a stone. And everyone keeps on dying, leaving stuff behind, objects I can’t get rid of because how else will the dead talk to me when birds can be so difficult to understand.

Samantha Hunt was born in 1971, in Pound Ridge, New York. She lives in upstate New York. Her novel about Nikola Tesla, THE INVENTION OF EVERYTHING ELSE, was a finalist for the Orange Prize and winner of the Bard Fiction Prize. Her first novel, THE SEAS, earned her selection as one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 that year. Her novel, MR. SPLITFOOT, was an IndieNext Pick. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, McSweeney’s, Tin House, A Public Space, and many others. Her collection of short stories, THE DARK DARK, was published by FSG Originals in 2017.


Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

For my entry I put together a collection of some of the autographs my husband/bandmate Ira and I have acquired over the years, separately and together. In order of acquisition:

This is Ira’s playbill and his story… but it’s my entry so I’ll tell it. He and his brother Neil went to see Sammy Davis Jr. live in the 70s, at a theater in the round, meaning performers had to come down an aisle through the audience to get on stage. When Neil realized they were sitting near Sammy’s aisle he pounced, climbing over a bunch of old ladies in order to shake Sammy’s hand like a true fanatic. After the show they each got autographs by sending their programs backstage. Someone else (Neil perhaps) wrote “To Ira” on the top, but the rest is authentic.

When I was about 20 years old I was taken with Ian Whitcomb for some reason. He had a couple of hits in the mid 60s with the catchy novelties “You Turn Me On” and “N-E-R-V-O-U-S!” He also produced Mae West’s pretty nutty pop album. Okay, that record’s kind of great, so maybe that’s why I wrote him a fan letter. He sent me some of his books about ragtime along with this card.

The only reason I own this (and apparently kept it for 30-plus years) is because it came inside the album by the band Monitor that I bought at a show of theirs in LA in 1981 or 82. Not original. The autograph, I mean. The band Monitor on the other hand, very original.

A friend found himself in Jack Riley’s presence and requested his autograph which he scrawled on the back of a call sheet. Jack Riley played Mr. Carlin on The Bob Newhart show for those who aren’t MeTV devotees. As you can see Mr. Carlin felt compelled to identify himself and make sure the recipient (Ira) knew why he was given this autograph.

A gift from Ira’s brother Adam.

I have no need for more autographs now that I have these. I asked both June and Johnny to sign my (now retired) snare drum when our band was lucky enough to open for them in 1994. The two of them each voiced their concern over blemishing the drum.

Chow Yun-Fat in The Killer, signed by JOHN WOO. A gift from another John Woo fan.

Ira and I had a connection to Maxwell’s in Hoboken where Bruce Springsteen’s video for “Glory Days” was shot. But it was Jim Turner, on the production crew, who arranged for us to be extras. My friend Tara taped the video on her vcr and was able to freeze the half-second I appear on screen to take this picture—that’s me behind Steve the cook (possibly the original Maxwell burger king) not throwing my fist in the air as directed. Many years later we persuaded a reluctant Roger Moutenot, our record producer and Springsteen/Scialfa insider, to get it autographed by Bruce at the Meadowlands concert he had backstage passes to. As an unassuming and soft-spoken type of guy Roger really did not want to do it, but we put the squeeze on him. Since he had to cut out of our mixing session in Times Square early, seemed only fair to make him squirm briefly. Despite not needing more autographs I am very happy to have this one. Come to think of it, I’d be thrilled to get our 5 Neat Guys 8×10 signed someday.

We bought a couple of Robert Quine’s guitars from Carmine Street Guitars after he died. A few years later our pal Gil had reason to disconnect the neck from the body which revealed his signature.

A few notable omissions…

In the I couldn’t find department:
Somewhere we have a still from Billy Liar that a film editor friend asked her to sign for us, and I believe she spelled YO LA TENGO correctly.

This may be the first autograph I got. I remember being terrified approaching him at Forest Hills when I was 11. My brother Ray put me up to it. As a knowledgeable sports fan he knew something of tennis stars and their reputations. This one’s probably nice, this other one has a temper…that sort of thing.

In the I forgot to include department:
Our label-mate Liz Phair was performing on David Letterman in the 90s and Albert Brooks was also on the show that night. We asked Spencer, the Matador publicist at the time, to get him to sign Ira’s three copies of his two albums. He signed the shrink wrap on one, the protective plastic on another and actually managed to make direct contact with the third record cover.

Georgia Hubley was born in 1960, in New York. She is an American percussionist, vocalist, and visual artist. She is one of the two founding members of Yo La Tengo.


Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

Retrieved in 2018 from a box saying “flowers from Lindsey’s funeral, 1994”

Jodie Mack was born in 1983; in London, UK. She is an experimental animator. Mack’s 16mm films have screened at a variety of venues including the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Images Festival, Projections at the New York Film Festival, and the Viennale. She has presented solo programs at the 25FPS Festival, Anthology Film Archives, BFI London Film Festival, Harvard Film Archive, National Gallery of Art, REDCAT, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennale, and Wexner Center for the Arts among others. Her work has been featured in publications including Artforum, Cinema Scope, The New York Times, and Senses of Cinema. Named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 2014 “25 New Faces to Watch” and one of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ YBCA 100 in 2015, she is an Associate Professor of Animation at Dartmouth College. She is a 2017/18 Film Study Center Fellow and Roberta and David Logie Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.


Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

— For my first solo show in 2007 I presented a video comprised of short unedited scenes shot in Japan and the US. It was titled, very straightforwardly, here and there, though it wasn’t always apparent what was where. It was shot before iPhones and Instagram were around, on a bulky prosumer canon camera I would carry around with me everywhere. And at the time I had all sorts of problems figuring out how to contextualize it; was it a narrative video, was it chance documentary, how did it relate to still photography, was it exotic or cliche or mundane, how was it to be presented, blah blah blah… people questioned its intentions as it seemed to fall somewhere between casual happenstance and possible orchestration. I remember a very good artist telling me I should re-stage all the scenes to make it more purposeful, he told me it was effective to use a tripod for a more stable image. Footnote, I intentionally shot everything handheld. Then when iPhones made making this kind of videos so much easier, I found it harder to remember to video things… maybe I started to feel that I didn’t need to record things anymore because everyone else was doing it for me. I turned to making other things that explored ideas of slippage. Recently, I realized I’ve accumulated almost enough footage for a second iteration of here and there, but maybe it’s more like now and then. Things are shifting again… when I’m between Japan and NYC, day is night and night is day. Also, as I return again and again to the same places, I feel like I’m seeing them simultaneously as they once were and as they are now. Time is floating. Where clocks were once important objects, now the next generation has no need for clocks… I almost never see someone under the age of 45 wearing a watch. It’s a good time to get into clock collecting.

Anne Eastman was born in San Francisco in 1973 and raised in Singapore and Tokyo, Japan. She currently lives and work Brooklyn, NY. She received her BA in Cultural Anthropology from Smith College and her MFA in Sculpture from Yale School of Art. Past shows include a two-person exhibition with Steven Pippin at Green Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a two-person exhibition with Tatiana Kronberg at Essex Flowers, solo exhibitions at ATM Gallery in New York, Galerie Lisa Ruyter in Vienna, Austria, Groeflin Maag Gallery in Basel and Zurich, Switzerland, and group exhibitions at numerous galleries in the US and Internationally.


Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

— He said to listen to the environment. The he being the master filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, all of us leaned forward in unison on creaking seats and clung to every word that he spoke. I tried desperately to jot down bits and pieces, to grasp hold of his words even in the near dark of the auditorium.

In less than six months’ time, the words that issued from his lips would take on a fleeting, smoky quality, and our beloved mentor Abbas would be dead. And yet the time spent in San Antonio de los Banos, Cuba, doesn’t make me feel that such words should be just so ephemeral.

Even today, talking to the workshop’s other forty-nine participants whom I now called dear friends, catching up on the phone, bumping into another on a NYC street corner, we all play the part of detective. An array of anecdotes and lessons had burrowed into us all, accompanied us to our homes, our beds, our respective countries, absorbed in blood to mull over, dream, ponder, and process. All tenuous. All fragments. For me, it was when Abbas said: “Do not dictate the story to your environment. Let your environment speak to you. Let it tell you the story. It will be more real, more authentic, more genuine.”

My notebook from the near dark of that auditorium shows the violent scrawls of a hand impassioned. Possessed.

Words were important here.

After all, it was no coincidence that the film school hosting our ten day workshop, the Escuela Internacionales de Cine y Tv (EICTV), was founded by the novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez—-a friend of Abbas and apparently a devoted cinephile. Words themselves adorned the school walls, parting messages spray-painted by all the mentors who had come and gone, the Coppolas, the Jarmuschs, the Hupperts. The words surrounded us daily as we stumbled to the cafeteria for coffee at dawn, haggard and bleary-eyed, as we raced the halls to beat the light to get that last shot.

There was no cell reception for us. No texting. So we left notes for another. We learned to use our hands again. We slipped them under doors, wedged between jamb and rusty knob, entrusted the words themselves to be passed to a friend when we could not find pencil and paper. Our own little oral histories.

I remember having to pitch my idea to a stranger, a beautiful middle-aged woman, with the hopes that she would be the lead in my film. I had no idea who she was. Or if she was even talented. We had simply to trust one another. The only problem was that I couldn’t speak Spanish.

Thankfully, my producer Cameron Bruce Nelson could.

He graciously mimicked my energy, retained my inflection as I hit the main story beats. And yet her eyes remained locked on me, never straying from my face, staring at me through the swirling steam of complimentary school coffee. Cameron gesticulated wildly, ever the earnest translator, even as her face remained stoic and cold. Impenetrable. Then the story was suddenly over. For a moment, I knew we had failed. Either she had not understood, or she simply wasn’t interested. Her face had not changed.

She gingerly leaned forward, and then with both hands, took me by the face and kissed me softly, tenderly on the lips. She leaned back, my face still in her hands, and gazed at me with tears welling in her eyes. Then she spoke aloud for the first time that whole pitch. A pause.

“She said she’ll do it,” Cameron mumbled.

My film Casa De Mi Madre is about the very nature of words. Of storytelling and its consequences. A woman bribes a small boy, new to the neighborhood, to come into her apartment so that she can tell him all the things she wished she could’ve said to her son before he perished in a fire.

The film hinges on a single, unbroken shot of the woman using this bewildered child as a surrogate—her emotions swinging in grief from anger to sorrow. And much like the boy who is a conduit for the woman’s dead son, Ms. Carmen Rodriguez —the enthusiastic and talented actress from Havana —was the conduit for my story that night. Her performance was tremendous, and I will forever be grateful for her vulnerability and courage.

I gave her my heart on paper. In turn, she gave me her heart onscreen.

Words were translated from English to Spanish and back, all through the night. It became as much a film about struggling to find the right words in grief as it was a film about a group of sweaty people all trying to effectively communicate within a small, cramped apartment. There is the old saying from Godard that every fictional film is a documentary of its actors. Rivette later expanded the aphorism, saying every film is a documentary of its own making. This is exactly what the film is to me.

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The child who appears in our film—Christian Jaime—wasn’t an actor. He was a local boy with a trademark grin who’d frequently shadow the filmmakers through the neighborhood, often offering to help carry sound gear or camera equipment. I gathered by the end of the shoot that we might’ve rubbed off on him because you’d be hard pressed not to find him off in a corner, looking through one of our cameras. And when you’d try to pry it out of his curious little hands, he’d usually spin the camera around and begin directing us himself.

He would always speak to me in a hushed tone that was quietly conversational, even conspiratorial, as if we were old friends. Always posing questions he knew that I couldn’t answer in Spanish. And yet we talked regardless. In two separate languages. Still connecting. I think he knew I liked it.

There was a moment when I was describing the bribe the woman uses to lure the oblivious child to her living room. In my script, the bribe was money. Carmen and our tireless on-set translator Yaite Luque immediately glanced at one another and broke into knowing laughter. I was baffled. Carmen gently explained to me that it was a very American thing to use as a bribe — money. I asked them what they thought a good replacement might be. And their suggestion was something far more haunting and innocent than a few wrinkled bills could’ve ever been.

One of the last shots of the film is of an abandoned chocolate ice cream, melting languidly across the tabletop as we hear the offscreen weeping of a lonely mother.

Abbas said to listen to the environment. So I learned to listen.

And I’m still listening.

Frank Mosley is an actor and filmmaker from Texas. He has participated in the 2015 Berlinale Talents, 2017 NYFF Artist Academy, and Black Factory Cinema’s 2016 Auteur Workshop, led by the late Abbas Kiarostami in San Antonio de los Banos, Cuba. His performances have been seen at Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, SXSW, New Directors/New Films, AFI, Viennale, BAMcinemafest, Slamdance, and much of his directing work has been exhibited on Fandor, MUBI, and Filmmaker Magazine. He’s been called “a superb actor and filmmaker” (, “an indie hard-hitter” (The Playlist), and “the sort of experimentalist we don’t see often enough” (Keyframe).