new music video: Bee vs. Moth

“Machine Room Reverie”

nostalgic video from neo-jazz–folk-fusion instrumentalists Bee vs. Moth. using photographs from the 50s, 60s and 70s. shot straight to VHS this fits the haunting, retro-vibe of the song. The Austin band’s latest album is Shelter in Place.

Bee vs. Moth  continues to produce unique film and recording projects. The 2012 SXSW Film Festival commissioned the band to debut a new silent film score for Ernst Lubitsch‘s The Oyster Princess (1919). This followed Bee vs. Moth’s acclaimed score to Buster Keaton‘s The Cameraman. The band’s songs made their second appearance in a season of PBS’ Roadtrip Nation. Currently, Bee vs. Moth is collaborating with Austin band The Invincible Czars to re-imagine the symphonic masterpiece Pictures at an Exhibition for an 11-piece double rock band, complete with horns, strings, guitars, drums, and percussion

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book review: The Hormone Factory

hormone factory

<em> The Hormone Factory</em> by Saskia Goldschmidt. Publisher: Other Press [November 2014]. Fiction. Hardcover. 304 pages.

The cover, title and description pulled me in and the stirring, gossipy, colorful writing kept me in this debut novel by Dutch author Saskia Goldschmidt. This is historical fiction at its best. The ruthless and debauched Mordechai De Paauw recalls his experiences as Dutch co-founder and CEO of the first pharmaceutical company to invent and manufacture the contraceptive pill and hormone treatments. He runs a meat factory. He’s not a scientist but he realizes that animal organs which the company discards daily could be used for experiments. De Paauw would increase his wealth and gain power and prestige: “I walked outside and just stood there staring at the colossal mountain of offal in our factory yard. Who’d have thought that stinking pile contained unsuspected riches, like the copper ore trapped in rock deep in the earth’s crust, or the gold in the mud of a riverbed?”

He’s imprudent and corrupt about a lot of things. He experiments on and sexually exploits his female workers. There’s one employee that he calls “Fat Bertha” and summons to his office for sexual trysts on the regular. He also walks into the factory and selects women as if ordering from a menu. They must see the boss in his office or endure dire consequences. In the ultimate in blurred lines, De Paauw admits: “I must confess their inhibitions didn’t always hold me back. There’s something titillating in a little resistance, I find; a bit of a struggle, a head-shaking no, a hand fending me off, a tussle, until the wench accepts the inevitable and lets you have your way, limp as a lab rabbit receiving an injection.”

Disturbing on many levels. The language. The disrespect. The idea of getting [or really taking] what you want when you want no matter who gets hurt. The compulsion. You wonder how this guy can be this wicked. How can he abuse his employees, take short-cuts but be successful in numerous ways. His rather mild-mannered twin brother Aaron gets imprisoned due to De Paauw’s manipulations. His wife keeps reminding him of his “everlasting impatience” and that others might know much more than her husband. De Paauw refuses to accept these facts. Their marriage unravels after his brother’s imprisonment and a factory girl getting pregnant with his child at almost the same time his wife Rivka becomes pregnant with their first son. Thus De Paauw later admits: “I kept my distance from the factory girls; I had learned my lesson, but even in the new puritan atmosphere there were plenty of attractive, available women.”

“My need for such one-night stands began to lessen when, in the mid-nineteen-fifties, I met Diane Drabble in New York. She was one of the rare female chemists at the time and worked in tour U.S. lab. She was an intelligent, fine-looking woman and had nothing in common with the prim little misses mincing through the fifties in their coy wasp-waisted dresses, their nylons and garder belts, the immaculate white collars, the veiled little hats, the silk gloves, the clicking stiletto heels and prissy pocketbook in which, in a kind of courtship ritual, they were constantly fumbling to pull out a power compact, a lipstick, an embroidered handkerchief or a chrome cigarette case.”

What drove men to develop birth control? Not that all men are sexist and anti-feminist. Some men believe in equality and the greater good. De Paauw enjoyed the idea of having sex with as many women as possible and reducing the probability he’d impregnate them. He’s wealthy and powerful after all. That’s why he had to marry his wife. She got pregnant. Today men still make decisions and impose themselves onto women’s choices. Many men (and women) created The Pill and IUDs and hormone treatments such as Plan B but now in the United States, men want to restrict women’s access to protect themselves and maintain control over their bodies and their sexual experiences. The Hormone Factory delves into the time right before and during WWII when these advances became real possibilities. As WWII heightens and Hitler invades Holland, the future seems bleak for De Paauw, his company–many Jewish scientists for there– and his Jewish family. The family flees to England.

Goldschmidt works as a drama teacher and children’s theater director. The Hormone Factory‘s based on the real Organon. The Van Zwanenberg Slaughterhouse and Factories founded in 1887 by twin brothers. In 1923, Saal van Zwanenberg established Organon to develop medicine from meat waste products. Goldschmidt’s father survived the concentration camp Bergen Belsen. In the afterword she writes: “It took me over fifty years to find the courage to research my family’s history and to probe what kind of influence that history and my father’s concentration camp stay had on me. She published a memoir Obliged to Be Happy: A Portrait of a Family in 2011. The author’s theatrical background and meticulous research influenced the credibility and flair of this debut novel. Goldschmidt uses impeccable tone and extraordinary detail. Though covering a serious subject, it’s at times amusing with its dry wit. She paints the story in gray not black and white. Quite effective as many flawed characters might express regret or comprehension for their actions and words.

RATING: ****/5

review by Amy Steele

<em>FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Other Press.</em>

purchase at Amazon: The Hormone Factory: A Novel

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All Days are Night: book review

all days are night

<em>All Days are Night</em> by Peter Stamm. Publisher: Other Press [November 2014]. Fiction. Hardcover. 192 pages.

A popular television reporter, Gillian, wakes up in the hospital to a disfigured face and a dead husband. Matthias, her husband, drove the car drunk, hit a deer and caused the couple to crash.  She lost her beautiful visage and through numerous surgeries she’ll get a face back that was never hers. “It’s relatively straightforward to put an ear back, said the doctor, but a nose has a great many delicate blood vessels. We are going to have to build you a new one,” the doctor, hand mirror in his grip tells Gillian. “It doesn’t look very pretty at the moment, he said, but I still think it’s a good idea for you to take a look at it.”

She’s lost her identity. We’re all completely connected to our faces and bodies no matter what we think or desire. It’s a visual world. For some more than others. Gillian must deal with this loss and reconcile with whatever the surgeons reconstruct. Even her parents can barely deal with the new reality. Her mother can’t even look at her.  Reminds me of the facial transplants completed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Final result: not exactly you and not exactly the donor.

“Her life before the accident had been one long performance. Her job, the studio, the designer clothes, the trips to cities, the meals in good restaurants, the visits to her parents and Matthias’s mother. It must have been a lie if it was so easy to destroy with a moment’s inattention, a false move. The accident was bound to happen sooner or later, whether in the form of a sudden catastrophe or a gradual unraveling, it was coming.”

Not only does she have to deal with reconstructive surgeries but career loss. To rebuild, Gillian escapes both the city and the tragedy. She heads to her parents’ isolated vacation home in the mountains. Gillian encounters an artist, Hubert, from her past that may or may not feature into her future. The fight between Gillian and Matthias occurred because Matthias found naked photos of Gillian that Hubert— an interview subject– took.  Matthias drank too much at a party the couple attended and despite their friends’ concerns he insisted on driving. German author Peter Stamm revisits the encounters between Gillian and Hubert that caused tension between Gillian and her late husband.

As a cultural reporter, Gillian dipped into the arts and music scenes. An intriguing world combined with an electrifying profession. Hubert is a fame-fueled artist.  Neither Gillian nor Hubert is terribly sympathetic. However they are both relatable and intriguing. Losing one’s looks, one’s face, one’s identity in that manner. A ghastly, unimaginable thought. What would you do? How would you cope?

The novel beautifully traverses past and present. Stamm writes in an effectively laconic and melancholy style. He’s exploring appearances from various angles. It’s a gripping read about art and connection.

RATING: *****/5

–review by Amy Steele

<em>FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Other Press.</em>

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purchase at Amazon: All Days Are Night

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tralier: An En Vogue Christmas

Hello 90s. Lifetime loves you.

After airing Aaliyah: the Princess of R&B this Saturday, Lifetime kicks off its Holiday movie line-up with An En Vogue Christmas. The movie airs  Saturday, November 22 on Lifetime at 8 pm. En Vogue formed in 1989 in Oakland, Calif. and released many hits including “Free Your Mind” and “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It).”

En Vogue members Terry Ellis, Cindy Herron [founding members of En Vogue] and Rhona Bennett star in the movie. The movie features some of En Vogue’s biggest hits and two new original songs.

here’s the first trailer for An En Vogue Christmas:

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STEELE INTERVIEWS: fashion designer Samantha Black [Project Runway All-Stars]

Samantha Black on Project Runway: All-Stars S4

Samantha Black on Project Runway: All-Stars S4

Samantha Black is cool. She stood out for me from the first episode of Project Runway S11 and I was rooting for her. I like her personal style and the clothes she designs. She’s laid back yet edgy. Plus she’s smart and genuine. The 28-year-old Brooklyn resident and Pratt Institute graduate runs two clothing companies Sammy B Designs and Samantha Black. In 2011, Black presented her first show at New York Fashion Week [NYFW]. Solange did the music for the show, attended and sat in the front row. “I’m really excited when people want to wear my clothes and people see it,” Black told me. She’s shown at NYFW nearly every season since. Named “designer to watch” by both Essence and Ebony magazine, Black created garments for celebrities such as Kerri Hilson, Brandi, LaLa Anthony and Angela Simmons. She’s back on Project Runway: All Stars which airs Thursdays at 9 pm on Lifetime.

I spoke to Sam by phone last week.

Amy Steele: I was a really big fan of yours during your season (11) so I’m so happy to speak with you. And I just really like your style and everything.

Samantha Black: Thank you!

fashion designer Samantha Black

fashion designer Samantha Black

Amy Steele: When did you get interested in fashion design?

Samantha Black: I always liked clothes and when I was 16 someone said I should take classes in fashion design. ‘You know you like to doodle.’ So I took a pre-college fashion design course and I loved it. And ever since I thought ‘I want to be a fashion designer.’

Amy Steele: Did you go to fashion school?

Samantha Black: I went to Pratt. I got a bachelors in fine arts but my major was fashion design.

Amy Steele: What did you take away from going to a design school?

Samantha Black: It’s actually really intense. At least Pratt’s program is really intense because you still have your liberal arts program and you have your major classes. [AS note: this sounds like Berklee College of Music] So fashion classes are six hours long. Serious projects. It’s a serious, intense program. You lose half the class. Pratt puts out more entrepreneurs. That’s the path I want to take eventually.

Amy Steele: What inspires your designs?

Samantha Black: I get inspired by art, architecture. I live in New York so you see such crazy style every day. Even my personal style. I dress funky one day and preppy another day. I wanted to create a line that embodies all those things because you can dress that one girl who likes a lot of things.

Amy Steele: I was going to say who are you designing for? So she sounds eclectic.

Samantha Black: She’s definitely an eclectic woman. She’s into all different kinds of music and culture and things like that. Some people say the IT Girl’s closet has to have something from each genre and that’s kind of my line all-in-one.

Amy Steele: So Sammy B is your line?

Samantha Black: I started off with Sammy B and I also have Samantha Black. Sammy B is a little more funky and easy to wear pieces. I’ve really been pushing my Samantha Black line for the last couple of years. In 2011 I started working on the Samantha Black line.

Amy Steele: And this is all on your own.

Samantha Black: I originally started in the industry working [corporate] and I did that for about four years. When they closed my division I started working on my own line. I started working freelance too. I don’t have any investors. All the money I make I literally put into my line. It’s a hard struggle to balance the two. Sometimes I freelance and have to go to an office depending on who the client is.

Amy Steele: What is your greatest challenge as a designer?

Samantha Black: It’s the business side. I definitely don’t think from that side of my brain. I’m an artist. Over the past few years I’ve taken business classes [Macy’s Business Program] so I can really up that side of my business for it to really be something. I’m getting into programs and learning how to be a fully functioning business. To really prosper I have to do it the right way. Budgets. From the ground up. It’s more important than designing because even if you have a good design, if you can’t get it sold . . .

Amy Steele: What is a little bit of your process? Are you setting aside specific time to design? Do you carry around a sketchbook?

Samantha Black: I have three sketchbooks in my purse right now. While I’m riding the subway I use it as my sketch time to try to get some ideas. I might have swatches in my bag. I like to get a few ideas and then I like to search the market. I get inspired by my fabrics. Then I start working on patterns and things like that.

Amy Steele: Who are some designers you admire?

Samantha Black: McQueen, LAMB, Alexander Wang. I think they’re young and hip and edgy at the same time.

design by Samantha for first challenge

design by Samantha for first challenge

Amy Steele: How would you describe yourself as a designer?

Samantha Black: I think I design feminine with an eclectic edge. I try to make the designs flatter a woman’s body and be sexy and be comfortable at the same time. Easy to wear. Details. I like prints. I like patterns. My clothes are a direct representation of my personality. The way I dress, the way I design. My personality comes out in my clothes. I’m usually the loud fun one.  I have a big personality. Sometimes I wonder if people can really see it on the show.

Amy Steele: It’s the editing but you can see it in your clothes. You said you’re loud but you seem very laid back. How are you under pressure?

Samantha Black: I’m very chill. I grew up with a lot of boys. I kinda grew up as a tomboy as well. I’m not really into drama at all. I could care less about it. I tell people how I feel right away so I never really talk behind someone’s back. People always know how I feel.

Amy Steele: What was your takeaway from season 11? [Season 11 was the Project Runway: Teams season]

Samantha Black: That season was a little different. A little interesting. Because things are happening so fast and you’re always so stressed out it’s hard to stay true to yourself as a designer all the time. It’s important to make something but always stay true to your vision at all times.

Amy Steele: What interested you in coming back for Project Runway All-Stars?

Samantha Black: Season 11 got a bad rap for being teams and the way it was set up. I wanted the experience of working by myself. I wanted the experience that every other season had. I didn’t make it where I wanted to in my season so it was another opportunity. This is people from seasons 10, 11 and 12 and Chris and Jay from the Bravo seasons. I kind of knew everyone’s skills and visions. It’s good knowing that.

design by Samantha for second challenge (unconventional)

design by Samantha for second challenge (unconventional)

Amy Steele: What is the best part of being on Project Runway?

Samantha Black: I love seeing people actually work. It’s a special thing to see other creatives in the same field and see how they work. In corporate fashion you’re on a computer. I’m the only one of my friends who has my own line so I don’t get to see others work. There aren’t that many of us that have our own lines. I don’t get the same out of it as everyone else does.

Past seasons were surprised by how close season 11 was. It ended up being the closest season. I think because of working in teams we had to get along. Other seasons you start off everyone to themselves. We’re a lot closer than other seasons. This season of all-stars we’re close. We are younger and newer seasons so we have a bond.

Amy Steele: Good luck with everything. It was really nice talking to you and I’ll talk to you on Twitter.

Samantha Black: Thank you. Have a great weekend.

You can follow Samantha on Twitter

If you like my interviews and Lifetime coverage consider making a donation so I can keep going. Make a Donation button at right on my site.

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Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B movie review

aaliyah_day21_ck_0425

Aaliyah, the young, determined teen with a magnetic style and powerhouse vocals rose to fame quickly at 15 with her multi-platinum album Age Aint Nothing But a Number. It sold 3 million copies. The niece of Gladys Knight [Elise Neal], her uncle Barry Hankerson [Lyriq Bent] worked at Jive Records and started his own label Blackground Records. Aaliyah had connections but also talent or she wouldn’t have sold millions of albums. She dated and married R. Kelly who produced her first album. He was nearly twice her age at the time. She insisted on developing her own style which was a crop top, baggie low-ride pants and a thick headband. Very Gwen Stefani. Later she dated Damon Dash [Anthony Grant], eight years older than her but at that time Aaliyah was 21. She died in a plane crash while filming a video in the Bahamas at age 22. Lifetime’s Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B skims over everything. There’s no depth and not much to care about.

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The R. Kelly [Cle Bennett]/ Aaliyah romance races past. One minute they’re in the studio, the next minute they’re married. Kudos to the production team for showing her parents horrified reaction to the union. Her father says: “I can’t understand that a grown man would be with a young girl. It’s statutory rape.” Her father forbids them any further personal or professional connection or he’ll have R. Kelly arrested. I wonder how many other young woman would’ve been saved from R. Kelly’s predatory actions if that had happened 20 years ago. Someone as driven and confident as Aaliyah certainly possessed qualities making her seem older than her 15 years but there’s no excuse for R. Kelly’s actions. She was still 15. This knocks Aaliyah into a funk for a while. But then for her second album Aaliyah insists on working with producers Timbaland [Izaak Smith] and Missy Eliot [Chattrisse Dolabelle]. Then unknowns. “It’s my career. It’s my album and I think it should be my decision,” Aaliyah stresses when her label balks at this request.

Alexandra Shipp turns out a vibrant, heartfelt performance as Aaliyah. She sinks into the role. It’s a treat to watch the potential. Everything falls flat outside her believable and invested portrayal. My top complaint is a typical one for Lifetime movies: it’s written and directed by men. A biopic about a young woman always turns out better with a female screenwriter and female director.

Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B premieres Saturday, November 15 on Lifetime.

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The Art of Asking: book review

art of asking

 

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. Publisher: Grand Central Publishing [November 11, 2014]. Memoir. Hardcover. 336 pages.

RATING: *****/5

“I’m thirty-eight. I started my first band, The Dresden Dolls, when I was twenty-five, and didn’t put out my first major-label record until I was twenty-eight, which is, in the eyes of the traditional music industry, a geriatric age at which to debut.”

Amanda Palmer has accomplished quite a lot as an independent alternative musician and artist in slightly more than a decade. She might not be an uber-recognized name or international superstar but she’s adored by many. She’s worked hard to express herself through her music and through her performances. When you see Amanda Palmer perform it’s a complete show borrowing much from cabaret acts. Years ago, I’d somehow found out that Palmer would be performing at her former high school, Lexington High School along with some students. I went to the show with a then close friend. It was an event. Quite theatrical with an electrifying and mysterious air about the entire thing. I grew up in Acton, two towns over from Palmer’s native Lexington, Mass.

I’ve been a music critic for maybe too long. In the 90s national publications published my work and I was occasionally paid for my efforts. Never full-time. I’m slightly known in Boston but that’s about it. The only instrument I played was the flute for four years in elementary school and junior high. I’ve hung around with lots of bands. I’ve dated musicians and I’ve hooked up with plenty of musicians. In the 90s, I let a band stay at my parents’ house while they were away. I knew this band pretty well, or thought I did the Durham, North Carolina band Queen Sarah Saturday had been opening for The Charlatans UK on the current tour. Don’t think they asked. I think I just offered. Maybe that was the problem.

In her brilliant and revealing book, The Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer talks about couchsurfing a lot. Even crowdsourcing meals from fans. She asks people to let her stay at their homes while on tour. She asks them to bring food to the venues at which she’s performing. She says she always gives them CDs, t-shirts and other merchandise in return. Recently at Great Scott a band announced from stage that it needed a place to crash that night. I was a little miffed that they said “we have nothing to offer you.” Really? A CD or a t-shirt might be just the thank you a fan might appreciate. Andy from the wonderful 90s indie band IVY made a point of letting me choose a t-shirt because he so appreciated my reviews and my relentless support for the band. And this was the 90s, pre-Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. Think of the damage I could do now.

“There’s an inherent, unspoken trust that happens when you walk through the door of your host’s home. Everybody implicitly trusts everybody else not to steal anything. We leave our phones, our wallets, our laptops, our journals, and our instruments lying scattered around our various mini-couchsurfing campsites. To my knowledge, I’ve never had anything go missing.”

I had a crush on one of the guys from Queen Sarah Saturday [bassist Chris Holloway—it’s always the bass player or the drummer, occasionally a keyboardist] so as a young naïve 23-year-old I was kind to this band. I made them cookies. I was in graduate school for journalism at the time and didn’t have extemporaneous time and money to spend. I was just starting my music/entertainment journalism career. I let them sleep anywhere they wanted in my parents’ house. My two girlfriends and I all slept in my bedroom. I’m pretty sure I even got the band bagels for breakfast in the morning. Here’s the thing: lead singer/guitarist Johnny Irion TOOK one of my The Charlatans CDs right out of the case. I think it would have been better if he’d taken it case and all. I might have thought I’d lost it somewhere. I was appalled. How could he do such a thing? After that I felt they took advantage of me that entire night. Perhaps the entire tour.

For the most part not many people take advantage of Amanda Palmer in her thousands of moments of asking and trusting. However once a woman touched her inappropriately as she let fans sharpie messages on her naked body. Another time her red ukulele got stolen (later returned after a call to action via twitter). She tells about a few other incidents when someone wasn’t all that cool. For the most part you put your trust in others and expect the best. And Amanda Palmer’s response to the unexpected bad events: “Some people just suck.” So, 20 years later I’m saying you suck Johnny Irion.

After she posted “A Poem for Dzhokhar” to her blog, Palmer received nasty messages and death threats. I read the poem and didn’t think she was supporting his terrorist acts. I think she was expressing her empathy for a young man caught up in something horrific. Artists express themselves in good times and in bad times. It’s an outlet. Palmer wrote: “To erase the possibility of empathy is to erase the possibility of art. Theater, fiction horror stories, love stories. This is what art does. Good or bad, it imagines the insides, the heart of the other, whether that heart is full of light or trapped in darkness.”

As a feminist and a Boston-based music journalist, I love everything about this memoir. It’s absolutely engrossing. I liked Boston’s The Dresden Dolls and always appreciated Amanda Palmer for her outspoken nature, her feminism and musicianship. Now I truly admire Amanda Palmer and feel we’d be friends if we ever met. I’m wondering if we were ever at a party at the same time at Castle von Buhler—my artist friend Cynthia von Buhler’s former Boston home. The Art of Asking illustrates the importance of making lasting connections through art, love and creativity.

“Our first job in life is to recognize the gifts we’ve already got, take the donuts and show up while we cultivate and use those gifts, and then turn around and share those gifts—sometimes in the form of money, sometimes time, sometimes love—back into the puzzle of the world.”

“Our second job is to accept where we are in the puzzle at each moment. That can be harder.”

In the Art of Asking, Palmer shares what she’s learned to succeed as a musician and artist. She details her career and interweaves the story of how she and her husband Neil Gaiman met and fell in love. She includes song lyrics. It’s quite impeccably done. Engrossing from page one. Not too much of anything at once. Evenly distributed throughout the memoir. Both inspirational and comforting—[I can do it and she’s like me]! Palmer chronicles her days as a street artist to being in The Dresden Dolls to her solo music career to being and artist and an individual. It’s mostly about asking for what you want, asking for what you need and accepting the outcomes.

“Often it is our own sense that we are undeserving of help that has immobilized us. Whether it’s in the arts, at work, or in our relationships, we often resist asking not only because we’re afraid of rejection but also because we don’t even think we deserve what we’re asking for.”

“Asking is an act of intimacy and trust. Begging is a function of fear, desperation, or weakness.”

“It has to start with the art. The songs had to touch people initially, and mean something, for anything to work at all. The art, not the artist, is what fundamentally draws the net into being. The net was then tightened and strengthened by a collection of interactions and exchanges I’ve had, personally, whether in live venues or online, with members of my community.”

A few things Amanda Palmer revealed in The Art of Asking:

1. Amanda Palmer was reluctant to marry author Neil Gaiman. After they’d dated for a year, Neil wanted to get married. Palmer panicked a bit and worried about losing her independence and defying her feminist core. There were some practical reasons for getting married. She said to Neil: “I want to live and work alone. If we get married, do I have to live with you?”

“I felt my hard insides, my desperation to stay independent, and the irony of it all: the girl who stood on the box for five years, falling in love and merging with a million passing strangers, yet remained staunchly resistant to an actual human merger. My inner feminist was also rolling her eyes. Just date, for chrissake. Maybe move in together. What is this, the fifties?”

2. Palmer moved into a low-income cooperative for artists in Boston called Cloud Club decades ago when she worked at Toscanani’s ice cream and performed as The Bride in Harvard Square. The Dresden Dolls would practice on the top floor. She still keeps the apartment.

3. I knew Amanda Palmer had a fervent fanbase but didn’t know how far some of her fans would go to help her. Amanda has not only asked for food and places to crash but electric pianos to record music, costumes for video shoots, equipment and rides to and from the airport. The payback is a hug, her music and her art. How many mailing lists have you signed up for at shows and never heard from the band or artist again? Palmer knows the value in the mailing list.

“Explaining how I use Twitter to those who’ve never used it is difficult. It’s a blurry Mobius strip of love, help, information, and social-art-life exchange.”

4. Despite stripping off her clothes and baring her body at numerous gigs Palmer admits “I’m still vain. I still cringe when I see my belly after a monthlong muffin-and-beer binge, spilling over a waistline that’s too tight.” She doesn’t shave her armpits or legs which is kick-ass feminist.

5. The Kickstarter for Palmer’s full-band album Theatre Is Evil raised a recording-smashing $1.2 million. She’d set an original goal of $100,000. Naturally a woman in music simultaneously garners criticism, skepticism and praise for this.

“As I launched my campaign, I walked right into a wider cultural debate that was already raging about whether crowd-funding should be allowed at all; some critics were dismissing it out of hand as a crass form of “digital panhandling.” Apparently, it was distasteful to ask. I was targeted as the worst offender for a lot of reasons: because I’d already been promoted by a major label, because I had a famous husband, because I was a flaming narcissist.”

6. Palmer’s closest friend is her former neighbor, Anthony, a therapist. He still lives in Lexington where her parents live. She calls him her mentor and advisor. He’s several decades older than her and she talks to him regularly. They take walks around Walden Pond discussing anything and everything. He got cancer and Palmer took time off a tour to drive him to chemo appointments and spend time with him.

“Anthony was also one of my patrons. He gifted me books on Buddhism and pocket knives. Occasionally, when he knew I was broke, he’d include a crisp hundred-dollar bill in a letter.”

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Grand Central Publishing.

Purchase The Art of Asking

purchase at Amazon: The Art of Asking (Signed Edition): How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

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