When real Americans come to New York

On March 13th THE REAL AMERICANS opened Off-Broadway at Culture Project for a five-week run.  I’m sharing this link to an interview I did with writer/ actor Dan Hoyle for Turnstyle News back in 2012 when he was performing the show in the Bay Area.

Check it out and go get your tickets! 

Screen shot from Turnstyle News

Screen shot from Turnstyle News


New age

Screen shot from Teenagefilm.com

Screen shot from Teenagefilm.com

A classic metaphor for youth is Spring.  So now that Spring is (finally) here I’ll be posting and re-posting about some storytelling and documentary projects by and about young people.

Last month, when I was aching for an early thaw, I interviewed producer and teen mentor Olivia Cueva about the Berkeley-based Screenagers film festival.  This week I’m sharing the trailer for Teenage.

To find out when and where Teenage is playing go to Teenagefilm.com and while your on the site check out the Youth Culture Blog, too!

Sonic Drifting #2

sonicdrifting #1

The Recollective is comprised of 5 individuals – and though we are one unit we are also a  composite of smaller friendships. Over the years it has been our pleasure to both discover and leverage the chemistry that results from those various combinations. In this month’s Sonic Drifting post we express those relationships in sound. Each member of the Recollective was assigned another member and asked to submit a song that most represented that person. What follows is a closer look at our collective personality as told by the members themselves.



Jeremy: She’s not a rich girl but in our first long drive together from Glens Falls, NY to Buffalo we listened to Graceland and now this song always makes me think of Chaela Herridge-Meyer.

Song: Diamonds On The Soles of Her Shoes
Album: Graceland
Artist: Paul Simon



Chaela: Back in 2010 Nina and I were on the road in the sweet mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina. We went to a dance hall in a tiny town selling hot dogs and potato chips, hiked the appalachian trail with a 90 year old woman, drove into Cherokee land, learned to contra dance, and how to spell the word “holler” for note taking in interviews. Nina loves music that makes her heart light up, and when she’s dancing or tapping her feet, everything around her is brighter. I know I am. This song reminds of those pungently sweet spring days in Asheville.



Nina: This song reminds me of Whitney for so many reasons. First and foremost we played this on the road a LOT. Often we’d find ourselves on a highway in the middle of nowhere blasting this song. And secondly there’s something about the pace that reminds me of WHL. The song starts out slow and melodic and then builds and builds until, towards the middle, it abruptly changes and becomes energetic and urgent. It’s almost two songs. My friendship with Whitney took some time to build. We were interns at StoryCorps together. I had a complete friend crush on her and somewhere into our time on the road together we became the sort of friends that I had envisioned….and energetic and urgent friendship. I leaned on her for many things. I hope that she might always lean on me. OR as the song says, “I don’t care just where you go as long, as long as it’s with me.”



Whitney: I thought I’d have to choose a hip hop song for Carl, but I kept coming back to this one. Although he loves his complex mixes and samples, I think deep down Carl is a classic soul, a philosopher who values both truth and dreams.



Carl: While in StoryCorps, Jeremy and I never ended up on the road together. But one thing everyone who hung with us individually knew that we’d have in common, was a love for music. It was true. I chose this song because not only was it an immediate connection between the two of us being that we are both serious Nina Simone fans, but Jeremy’s steadfast vision and no-nonsense demeanor remind me of Nina’s persona. His influence on me over the years has been wider and deeper than he knows. This song is just the start.

Song: See Line Woman
Album: The Best of Nina Simone
Artist: Nina Simone

Screen spirit

Screenagers is a Bay Area youth film festival curated by students in the Communication Arts and Science Program at Berkeley High School. In partnership with the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Rim Archive Film Theater, the 16th annual Screenagers Film Festival showcases a diverse selection of films made entirely by Bay Area high schoolers. 

Each year, student curators spend five months planning the festival while reaching out to other students through media productions teachers, via social media, and by putting up flyers and posters in local schools.

I talked with Olivia Cueva, independent producer and curatorial mentor for this year’s festival, to learn more about the process behind the screens.

Final Publicity Poster
The Recollective: How did you become involved with Screenagers?
Olivia: I participated in the student curator internship when I was in high school. The experience was really fulfilling and I loved being a part of such a selective and challenging process. Being a curator combines artistic vision with administrative action. This fall I was asked to step in as the curatorial mentor for the students. It was a challenge because teenagers are so hardheaded and skeptical of adults trying to advise them (I can’t front, I was like that too) so I put a lot of energy into making sure each student felt valued and autonomous in their work. There were bumps in the road (like not getting enough submissions in the beginning, or having to rework the order of the festival several times to fit in to the Pacific Film Archive’s standards) but overall this experience has been really rewarding, especially after hearing what the student curators learned through the process.
The Recollective:  So what are your responsibilities as the curatorial mentor? ——————
Olivia: The curatorial mentor is essentially the project manager of the internship and film festival. My role is to schedule deadlines, assign and manage tasks the student curators take on (everything: researching and contacting media teachers, outreach and follow up, design work, organizing and screening all films, tech work, etc.), and act as the liaison between the students, the Pacific Film Archive, and CAS. I act as an advocate for the students.
The Recollective: Can you describe the role of the student mentor?
Olivia: This is a new role that has been implemented in the past couple years. The student mentor is someone who participated as a student curator with Screenagers the previous year. Because they have been through the process and know the ins and outs of the internship, they help advise the current students curators and assist the curatorial mentor.
The Recollective: How many teens participate usually?
Olivia: It is hard to say. In the past, the festival got WAY more submissions, but now that there are other youth festivals out there (which is great!), Screenagers submissions have dwindled. Aside from the ten student curators, it is safe to say that over one hundred students participate each year.  We encourage teens to keep submitting films each year – even if a film doesn’t work for the current year’s program, it doesn’t mean it won’t be accepted the following year.
The Recollective: What is the mission or the end goal for the program?
Olivia: The goal of the internship is to teach students all that goes in to organizing and curating a film festival. The goal of the festival is to have a showcase that includes films made by a diversity filmmakers from different high schools all over the Bay.
The Recollective: In the years that you’ve been involved in the program, what has been most surprising about the teens and their work?
Olivia: I’m thrilled to learn that there are lots of media programs that support youth development in the Bay Area, and it is awesome to receive films from programs I’ve never heard about! I’m also generally surprised (and thrilled) with the quality and subjects of the films we receive.
You can learn more and “like” Screenagers by going to http://visitberkeley.com/events-ncal/index.php?com=detail&eID=35868


As the snow and ice from Printthe second big snowstorm of the season slowly melts (and a third storm is rumored to be on the way) the debate on climate change has been rekindled once again.  Whether you agree that global warming is a threat to our planet or not, I think you’ll enjoy Winters Past.

This new audio project  is brought to you by the husband/wife team of Josie Holtzman, a sound artist and former producer on WNPR’s Where We Live, and Isaac Kestenbaum, a writer and audio producer who works at StoryCorps.  Released almost episodically these “soundwalks” are best heard in specific places while walking.  For folks who don’t have access to or interest in venturing out into the icy environs described in the “The River” or “Everywhere,” you can still enjoy these ambient narratives that take you back-and-forth between the past, the present and the future.

The project is supported by Invoking the Pause, an environmental grants program  advancing public awareness about climate change, but again there is something here for even the staunchest climate change denier.  Listening to “The River” I could feel the anticipation and excitement of charging down the Hudson in an ice yacht.  I smiled as I listened to “Everywhere” and imagined rushing naked from a makeshift sauna out onto an icy pond.  Both stories explore the rapidly changing environment but they also hone in on small moments of wonder and anticipation while documenting kinships and traditions that may only blossom in the cold.


John Sperr, a member of the Hudson River Ice Yacht club, and one of the voices featured in this walk. Photo courtesy John Fasulo

You can see more photos, read more shared reminiscences, and get updates about Winters Past on Facebook and Twitter.  Holtzman and Kestenbaum’s next story, “The Lake” is coming soon.

DRIFT #01: The Sounds of Protest


[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/44if9js8qwjwfnl/MONO-000.mp3 ]

On this blog, we try to shine light on artists and organizations whose work is engaging, innovative and community-oriented. And while we remain as medium-agnostic in that pursuit, we frequently find ourselves returning to our “native tongue” of sound. But what exactly does The Recollective sound like? Introducing Sonic Drifting. Monthly we will share our thoughts and feelings, both the profound and the mundane. All in stereo.

These sounds of protest were recorded December 6, 2011 on the steps of the Lewis R. Slaton Courthouse in downtown Atlanta.  The protest was part of the nationwide Occupy Our Homes action.


All natural


Roy Chapman Andrews and George Olsen at nest of “the even dozen dinosaur eggs”, Third Asiatic Expedition, Mongolia, 1925 photographed by James B. Shackelford

The American Museum of Natural History is famous for its dinosaur fossils, meteorites, planetarium, and dioramas, but many treasures hide beyond the exhibition halls. Founded the same year as the Museum, the Research Library at the American Museum of Natural History has become one of the largest natural history libraries in the world, with rare volumes reaching as far back as the 15th century. The AMNH Research Library is steward to over one million black-and-white prints and negatives, color transparencies and slides. The images document scientific work worldwide in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, astronomy, geology, paleontology, and zoology. The collection also documents the history of the Museum: specimens, cultural and art objects, Museum staff and scientists at work, and permanent, as well as, temporary exhibitions.

The Library’s Director Tom Baione speaking about the book “Natural Histories: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History.”


Rope Cypress, standing in canoe shooting bow and arrow, clouds above, The Everglades, Florida, 1910 photographed by Julian A. Dimock

Recently, the AMNH Research Library launched the beta version of its Digital Special Collections website  giving the world a glimpse into its vast archive. There are currently 6580 images online and that number is expected to double before 2015. Highlights include: the Lantern Slide Collection, originally used to illustrate lectures given to the public at the Museum and the Julian Dimock Collection with its arresting images of Seminole Indian Tribes and those who endured slavery in the turn-of-the-century American South.  Online exhibits allow librarians and scholars to present images according to context or provenance to encourage new scholarship. The featured online exhibit “Natural Histories” is a curated sampling of the images found in the book, “Natural Histories: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History,” with highlights from the forty essays it contains on a variety of scientific topics.

photo-2Guest blogger, Jennifer Cwiok is the Digital Projects Manager at the American Museum of Natural History. She is a librarian by trade with an affinity for digitization workflows and applications architecture. She makes her home with her wife, daughter and 2 cats in Brooklyn, where she plays drums in a rock band and visits the park regularly.