Tig Notaro: "It's Not Like I Take Myself Too Seriously, Like Some Kind of Truth-Teller Comedian Now"

Categories: Interviews

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Laura Jayne Martin
Tig Notaro is busy. You wouldn't think 2013 would feel very busy for the comedian after the year she had in 2012. Notaro's last year seemed as though it contained a lifetime's worth of tragedy in a few short months. Her year included contracting pneumonia, then a life-threatening intestinal disease, her mother's death in a freak accident, breaking up with her girlfriend, and, just when it seemed like the bad news was over, last August she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

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Sam Lipsyte Talks The Fun Parts, Being in a Noise Band, and Giving a Shit

Categories: Interviews

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(c) Ceridwen Morris
Sam Lipsyte
On a recent Friday afternoon in Morningside Heights, The Voice met the man routinely hailed as one of America's funniest writers: Sam Lipsyte. Sitting in the Creative Writing Department at Columbia, where he has taught in the M.F.A. program for the past eight years, Lipsyte seems like one of those Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society-types. His voice is quieter than most people's, and every once in awhile he'll say something pretty profound, pause, laugh not too loudly, throw his head back, and smile behind his dark-rimmed glasses. For someone the New York Times called "piss-yourself funny" and "the novelist of his generation," he appears subdued and down to earth. We caught up with him about writing, his college days, and his latest book, The Fun Parts, a collection of short stories that will be released by FSG on March 5.

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This is What it's Like to Crash-Land Into the Hudson River

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Flickr user Greg L.

Following the weekend's scary yet ultimately uplifting news of another plane crashing into the Hudson without killing anyone, we revisited the infamous Flight 1549 crash.

Maryann Bruce, a passenger on the plane that Captain "Sully" Sullenberger successfully ditched in the river back in 2009, told us about what it's like when the plane you're on falls into the Hudson River.

What did it feel like when your flight was going down, and when it hit the water?

I'm kind of an interesting person to ask, because my response will be very different from everyone else's. There were 150 passengers, so if you speak to 150 passengers, you'll get 150 different stories. I fly so often that I realized there was a problem with the engines. I figured we hit birds and would make an emergency landing. There was an off-duty pilot sitting behind me; I looked at him and said, "Are we going to make an emergency landing at LaGuardia?" He said yes, very calmly. When he seemed to be calm, I went back to reading the newspaper. I was thinking, 'Oh, I'm going to be late getting home, what a pain in the ass.'

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Pencil-Sharpening Machine David Rees Talks Malcolm Gladwell, William F. Buckley, Telepathic Pencil-Sharpening, and More

Categories: How-To, Interviews
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Pencil-sharpening maven David Rees turned the non-fiction writing series at the Mid-Manhattan Library upside-down Tuesday night with his edgy pencil-sharpening workshop -- based on his instructional book How to Sharpen Pencils.

Rees, a former full-time political cartoonist, is like the Liam-Neeson-in-Taken-2 of pencils. No matter what you throw at him, not even hundreds of dangerous international crime-lords, you can't break him.

I came into the workshop wanting to make fun of it, but as it turns out, Rees, the satirist, already made it funny. Some critics and pencil-purists accuse him of mocking the craft , but as it turns out, he knows a shit-ton about pencils and how to sharpen them.

He actually has a pencil-sharpening business, through which he's cranked out more than 800 pencils to customers world-wide.

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Q&A: Rocky Director John Avildsen on Working With Lloyd Kaufman

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John G. Avildsen at the Oscars

In last week's print issue of the Village Voice, we spent time with Lloyd Kaufman, the Troma Entertainment president and splatter-comedy director who's currently remaking his early '80s original, Class of Nuke 'Em High this summer. Kaufman's known for his prolific career in the independent underground, but one of his earliest mentors was future Academy Award Winner John G. Avildsen, who met Lloyd in the editing room of shoestring studio Cannon Films and brought him on for Joe (1970), which introduced actors Susan Sarandon and Peter Boyle, and then Rocky, which shows Kaufman briefly onscreen as a drunken bum and in the credits as pre-production manager. "A title I had never heard and never have since," offers Avildsen, who invented credits for nonunion Lloyd, including "executive in charge of locations" on Saturday Night Fever, which the Academy Award winner was slated to direct. Avildsen spoke with us on the phone recently about his old friend.

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Henry Hill, Goodfellas Gangster, on Art, the Witness Protection Program, and His Adult Circumcision

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via Hill's eBay account
Henry Hill with Ray Liotta
Henry Hill was best known by Ray Liotta's face. An East New York native famously mentored by the Lucchese crime family, Hill was the Lufthansa-heisting mobster whose 1986 memoir, the Nicholas-Pileggi-shaped Wiseguy, served as the inspiration for Martin Scorsese's modern classic Goodfellas. As TMZ reported last night, Hill died yesterday in Los Angeles at the age of 69.

Hill's life consisted of well-documented involvements with the dirty businesses of narcotics, extortion, robbery, and one major point-shaving college-basketball scandal. Eventually he became an FBI informant and entered the Witness Protection Program until he was expelled for, in his words, "being a Goodfella." He then lived openly under his real name, relocating to Topanga County, becoming a recurring guest on Howard Stern, and hawking his paintings through an eBay store. In 2007, the enterprising ex-con opened a mob-themed restaurant in West Haven, Connecticut called Wiseguys. (An attic fire mysteriously broke out shortly after the establishment opened.)

That same year, the Voice spoke with the self-described "bullshit artist" about spaghetti sauce, his artistic muse ("whatever goes through my sick, fuckin' mind"), his Witness Protection Program dismissal, and "learning to fuck again" after his late-life circumcision. Reprinted below is an edited version of Michael Clancy's Runnin' Scared dialogue with the legendary gangster.

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Q&A: Director Lorca Peress On the World Premie of The Image Maker At Queens College

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Maurice Peress, conductor, and Lorca Peress, director
Theater director Lorca Peress is directing two one act operas opening this weekend at Queen College's Goldstein Theater. My Kinsman, Major Molineau (making its New York premiere) and The Image Maker (making its world premiere) were both composed by Bruce Saylor and are conducted by Ms. Peress's father Maurice Peress, the legendary conductor and author of Dvorak to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America's Music and Its African American Roots . (When we covered it for Sound of the City, we had the pleasure of having Maestro Peres as our date at the world premiere of Philip Glass's Symphony No. 9 in Carnegie Hall last January, where he had once worked as Leonard Bernstein's assistant.)

We interviewed Ms. Peress over the phone last week about the new pieces, working with her dad, and creating new work at Queens College.

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Grace Lee Boggs, Nonagenarian Activist, Speaking At The New School Tonight

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Grace Lee Boggs, the 96-year-old political activist from Detroit, will be speaking at the New School tonight. The Voice had the chance to interview Boggs on Friday and will be posting our interview next week. Though confined to a wheelchair, the nonagenarian activist keeps up a busy work and travel schedule. Our chat with Boggs, who was born "two years before the Russian revolution," was extremely revelatory and had several surprising gems, including:

* Boggs' belief that the late Manning Marable's Malcolm X, which just won the Pulitzer last week, is "a terrible biography!" (Boggs once tried unsuccessfully to get Malcolm X to run for the U.S. Senate from Detroit.)

* One of the biggest problems facing activists today is "the absolute failure of imagination of the left."

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Q&A With David Rees, Cartoonist and Pencil-Sharpener Extraordinaire

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Rees, David © Meredith Heuer.
David Rees is no stranger to paper. As a cartoonist for Rolling Stone and other publications, he won widespread acclaim (and criticism) for his politically charged "Get Your War On" strip, which visualized, in comic form, the intense spectrum emotions felt throughout the Bush years. He is also the self-proclaimed "hottest blogger on the planet." Now, he's onto a bigger project and this one involves his own drawing device: the pencil.

Last July, Rees started an "artisanal pencil-sharpening" business. For $15 or so, customers could send him their pencils for a quick touch-up from the famed cartoonist. From there on out, Rees dedicated his time to the lead-filled field of study and, as of last week, his book, How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical and Theoretical Treatise on the Craft of Pencil-Sharpening, can be found on bookstore shelves everywhere.

His tour for the book will end May 18th in Brooklyn at the Public Assembly, with guest star and the book's foreward author, comedian John Hodgman. Runnin' Scared sat down with the cartoonist-turned-pencil-author to find out more about the ins and outs of the 'artisanal' craft, his career in cartoons and what will make people laugh in this upcoming Presidential election:
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Met Director Thomas Campbell Talks The Museum's New Ad Campaign, Celebrities And Social Media

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Have you ever wondered what Alex Rodriguez's favorite works of art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art are? Would you have guessed they include a Manet, a Thomas Eakins, a 10th-11th century Sicán funerary mask and a Rauschenberg among others? Well, that's what the museum's newest ad campaign with the theme "My Met" shares, in addition to revealing the tastes of other celebrities like Claire Danes, Marc Jacobs, Carmelo and La La Anthony, Hugh Jackman, Zaha Hadid and Seth Meyers. The campaign, which debuted in the New York Times March 15, also features an interactive aspect in which people can highlight their own preferences in the collection answering the question "What's Your Met?" Runnin' Scared got a chance to speak with the Met's Director Thomas Campbell about the campaign, the choice of celebrities and social media.

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