6 takeaways, 1 paragraph about good things, 4 favorite art shows, 6 other frissons du coeur, 1 call to poetry action, 23 baby pandas
A few truths from 2016:
Let people mourn in their own way.
There is no way to exist without hurting others.
We have choices about who we hurt.
We have choices about what we consume.
Hate speech is not free speech.
Talk to yourself like your encouraging editor, not your unhelpful editor.
I’ll figure something out in 2017.
Amazing friend and family visits in 2016. Parents, J&N and S came to Houston in the Spring (at different times). I learned that an entire rock band can sleep in our living room. Paul and I saw family in the summer and again at Christmas. We learned to road trip together. I made new friends, saw great art, started giving blood, and admitted to myself that my time is valuable enough to justify getting my own car. I’m coming at Trump’s America from a place of strength, which is a blessing and one of countless privileges I enjoy.
I’m grateful for my continued writing gig at aeqai: a monthly issue is enough to get me out and about in town, and editor Daniel Brown is a joy to work with. Favorite art reviews I’ve written in 2016 include:
Gonzo247 and the Nation’s First Graffiti Museum
My friend is sister-in-law to Gonzo, whose art and art advocacy has literally shaped Houston. He and his wife, Carolyn, are so fantastic and forthcoming—and the art ain’t bad either.
The School for the Movement of the Technicolor People
Permission, erasure, inclusion—challenging and inviting at once. A show to linger in.
“I should have brought a philosopher”
Kristin Lucas’s “Refresh” zine is something I still think about on a regular basis.
Black & White, the KKK, and the Enduring Banality of Evil
Vincent Valdez’s painting chills. We need it to tour extensively.
Other Favorite Art/Literature Frissons Du Coeur in 2016:
“Intimate Apparel” by Lynn Nottage at the University of Houston
Nottage’s tale of a black seamstress in 1905 New York is devastating and Romantic. The key players were phenomenal, the set ethereally period. Completely agree with director Sarah Becker in this preview: “Some plays could just as easily be movies—with a matter-of-factness about their locations and clothing. But this play has theatricality; a dreaminess to it.”
“The Hunchback Variations” by Mickle Maher at the Catastrophic Theatre
This was the only review I could find of the play (it’s from 2015, but they brought it back in 2016), and I don’t agree with “the verdict,” although the author is right about its weirdness. It’s the only thing I’ve seen at Catastrophic so far that’s been really satisfying, which is strange, seeing as “Hunchback” is a 40-minute play that answers no questions.
“The Nether” by Jennifer Haley at the Alley Theatre
The Alley has so much well-produced fluff on its main stage, I was almost proud of it for bringing such a provocative play to Houston. (Here’s another review for background—again, I don’t entirely agree with it, but it gives a good sense of the show.) I don’t think anyone in the audience was fully prepared—I saw at least three people walk out once they realized it explicitly dealt with child molestation and murder (in a virtual realm, but still). Not exactly something the Alley could dare to advertise. The physical presence of a child actor made the play powerfully disturbing. You couldn’t tell this story on TV, even though the play was inspired by “Law and Order”-type procedurals, or in a movie, because then the shocking, graphic acts would have to be portrayed. While we don’t see the child harmed in the action of the play, the internet-padded, lace-lined undertones of violence—and humanity—overwhelm.
“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (film)
Of course I’m going to love a film directed by Taika Waititi. Just majestical.
Bob Parks at the Brandon
See September entry
“We Love You Charlie Freeman” (novel) by Kaitlyn Greenidge
See November entry
“The Judgment of Fools” by Bernardo Cubria/Horsehead Theatre Co.
See November entry
“La La Land” (film)
Of course I’m going to thoroughly enjoy a musical. I just saw it yesterday, so I’m not sure how it will stand the test of time, but for now, I’m humming and softshoeing all over the place. Here’s a good take: “‘La La Land’ isn’t a masterpiece (and on some level it wants to be). Yet it’s an elating ramble of a movie, ardent and full of feeling, passionate but also exquisitely controlled.”
[Poets] are, I believe, deeply sensitive. We are barometers, like roaches are. We have our little antennas up. We know when the light’s gonna come on—we are picking up on the currents of what is happening in our society right now. We would like to heal and awaken people. That’s part of the power poets have always had.
—Loueva Smith, delightful Texan and stellar poet. Read my full interview here.
23 baby pandas:
Happy New Year to us all.