Non-Fiction

Baltimore

“The Warm Harmonies of A Cat Called Cricket”
Splice Today, 10.19.10
“It was Alex Champagne’s birthday, and he said at the beginning he just wanted to play music with his friends. A Cat Called Cricket evokes that wonderful sense of small-timore, of a community of people happy to experience art and music together day after day, show after show. The band’s set ended as it began: a pocket of harmony, if not groove, an emotive crescendo with stringed instruments and a whispered landing.”

“Charm City Slightly Less So”
Splice Today, 3.11.10
“Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger and I talk trains.”

Art & Culture

“‘New Jerusalem’ returns to Theater J”
Washington Jewish Week, 3.7.12
“In the middle of the of the trial to determine his excommunication, the young Baruch di Spinoza asks those present, “Would you say a play is still going on after the actors’ final exit, or when the last candle onstage has been blown out?” Theater J’s production of New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza has a clear answer, as evidenced by the porous fourth wall, the tremendous and subtle lighting that casts the title character’s shadow across the stage after he is excommunicated, and, not least, the ‘Spinozium’ conference that will cap the show’s run, complete with a mock trial.”

“Hard Times at the Smithsonian”
Splice Today, 4.30.09
“Perhaps nuance is what’s missing from the ‘1934’ exhibit. What we see is a flat-lined observation of the era, bravura and desperation all in the same sheen, no peaks or valleys. Julia Eckel’s “Radio Broadcast” is an accidental still-life arrangement of a group of musicians with an almost-religious feel to the composition. It’s a near-perfect inverse to the music that was much more relevant to that time period.”

“Poverty Is So Photogenic”
Splice Today, 1.3.11
“Poverty, systemic failures of government—and any sense of progress—all of this overshadowed by the photogenic qualities of a good slant of sunlight cutting through the lobby of an abandoned public library.”

“David Mamet’s American Buffalo
Splice Today, 6.24.10
“I was unmoored from politics and news and punditry and wonky charts for three or four days; why this resonated so well with American Buffalo I’m not entirely sure. The play is bleak, powerful. I was reminded of how immense and inspiring and terrifying the human psyche—the clashes inside our headspaces that define our day to day and year to year and birth to death—is and that missing a couple of blog posts means nothing and it means everything.”

I Click This, I Click That”
The Michigan Daily, 4.2.08
“The ‘stultifying air of actual life” is gladly brushed aside on the Internet. We transcribe ourselves to whatever platform we prefer. To use the obvious Facebook example, putting up a still from an obscure film as your profile picture with a quote referencing the film even more obscurely projects, however glibly, an image of yourself to friends and strangers alike. The gum you prefer, your perpetually tangled hair and the way your shoes sound when they hit wet pavement all fall to the wayside in favor of a pruned image. Your life is “represented,” not actualized.”

“Goodbye to Some of That”
Splice Today, 12.30.09
“Some of my friends have expressed an odd sense of mourning as 2009 winds down the 00s, and frankly I hadn’t even thought of it as the end of a decade—just another year.”

Literature

“The Human Condition, Nightstand Edition”
Splice Today, 8.19.11
“A book of essays, whether by a single author or a group, feels at home more in the classroom than it does on the nightstand. A decent introduction or prologue might offer a unifying template for the reader: an umbrella of understanding under which the following disparate ideas, now brought under the same roof, take new meaning.”

“Every year is the Year Everything Changed”
Splice Today, 7.22.10
“We are nothing without our history, our collective sense that all things and action actually and eventually make sense. From time to time, someone is so moved as to decide which year, decade, generation or century must be born anew with—and weighed down by—a parachuted purpose.”

Music

“Improvised Materials”
Splice Today, 2.19.10
“There’s that duality again—the performance as a linear and non-linear experience, the recorded product a necessary yet incomplete rendering of the moment.”

“Can’t Be Satisfied”
The Michigan Daily, 9.12.07
“‘Soul is about intimacy,’ said Wells, ‘and so is dropping a record.'”

“The Whole World Is Wrong Today”
Splice Today, 9.3.10
“‘Goodbye” is followed by ‘Piece By Piece and Frame By Frame,’ the title suggesting an attempt to pin down the infinity of choice that each moment offers. How often we silently beg for a second chance, a chance to change something—anything—in the endless domino effect of friendships, jobs, happiness, family, love. McCauley gives up on this track; the refrain is a string of da-das, as if he ran out of lyrics in ‘Goodbye, Dear Friend.'”

Film

“City of Ivory” (interview); “All City, Hall’s City” (review)
Splice Today, 6.22.10 and 9.23.11
“Many of the pianos are out of tune and/or defaced to one degree or another, a subtle reminder that these pianos exist in a physical space: strangers, less-than-good intentions, the warp and woof of weather and wood. It’s city life; this is what happens. The small moments of immediacy are mixed well with the obvious and perpetual spontaneity of street jamming, which hits a high water mark when we see a woman letting slip a mournful tune while sitting next to Hall on the piano bench.”

Media Commentary

Subjective is the New Objective, Part 1 and Part 2
Splice Today, 7.29.08 and 8.12.08
“But commonalities and conventions are not easy to find in the media, and this is good. Skepticism and even-handedness are the meat and potatoes of reporting. But we shouldn’t be afraid of breaking that wall when it catalyzes a greater understanding of what’s happening right here, right now.”

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