An artsy kind of weekend

It started Friday night when I went with YP to his friend’s open house at Pratt, which is a pretty cool campus with modern sculptures everywhere. His friend wasn’t there so we waited for a little while – we were both STARVING – then left a note.

YP was nice enough to take me out for a belated birthday dinner at Red Bamboo. I had the sizzling tofu, which was literally sizzling when the waiter brought it out, like a fajita.

The artsy weekend continued with a couple of literary events that were part of the PEN World Voices New York literary festival, which was all this week.

Last night was the Believer Nighttime Event, which was hosted by Eric Bogosian and totally free, which rocks in a kind of unbelievable way. And Eric Bogosian is rather sexy, in an Anthony Bourdain kind of way.

The first part was a mock auction – a mock-tion, if you will – using donated objects from the audience: a half-used roll of Ricolas, a copy of an August Wilson play, an expired AARP card (donated by 50+ year old who looked about 35). It was amusing at times but went on too long.

Next Bogosian read from his new novel. Angry and funny. Hot.

There was supposed to be short film but they couldn’t show it due to “technical difficulties,” which was okay by me because the next bit was the main reason I, and I think a lot of other people, were there.

John Hodgman is perhaps best known as the PC in those Apple commercials, but before that he was already an established writer and humorist, making appearances on The Daily Show. He’s also quite funny.

By chance I recently listened to an old This American Life, Nice Work If You Can Get It, on which he talked about how his life has changed so much and so weirdly since becoming famous from the Apple commercials. If I hadn’t listened to that This American Life, I wouldn’t have recognized his name in the program I got in the mail.

Hodgman hosted a writers’ “speed dating” event, which was basically a timed exchange between pairs of writers. It was pretty fun. The writers, who didn’t know each other, either asked each other their own questions, or the ones that Hodgman had come up with, like, “What did you do this morning? Answer yes or no.”

Having a cast of international writers was pretty fucking cool. The Dutch woman was paired with an Italian man who needed an interpretor (it was also cool hearing the different languages, even if I didn’t udnerstand), while this very young Nigerian American man was paired with an older man from Algeria who spoke French.

The Nigerian American man is an already very accomplished novelist, and yet he’s still going to medical school because that’s what his parents want. Talk about filial piety.

The “prizes” were madeleines from Boule Bakery. How literary. Love it.

Today I went to What Makes a Home? I ended up arriving at the same time as one of the panelists, Alain de Botton, who looks way different from his photo in real life. He’s kinda sexy too, in a supersmart, British-y kind of way, for which I am now apparently a cheap whore.

Lee Stringer was also on the panel. I haven’t read his books yet, but this is the second time I’ve heard him speak and yet again I really liked him.

I have to admit during both panels I thought a lot about H. and that he’d have appreciated the talks and thought they were fun and interesting. I, for one, wish that I’d gone to more events. Next year.


  1. “And Eric Bogosian is rather sexy” Now, there’s a sentence I never would have imagined ever hearing. Wow.

  2. supersmart + supremely confident = rather sexy

    if he were actually good-looking, then that “rather” would change to an “extremely” right quick.

  3. I also attended a PEN event this weekend. I went to a talk between Paul Auster and Guillermo Arriaga (the guy that wrote 28 Grams and Babel). It was interesting. And it seemed like a great forum to hear writers talk about their work. I hope to go to more PEN things (it was my first one).