Sunday, October 31

Writer Phillip Lopate wishes you a happy Halloween

No surprise here: the acclaimed author -- a "critic, essayist, fiction writer, poet, and teacher" -- is more trick than treat. Watch out this Halloween for Knife Man wandering Carroll Gardens, and visit Homebodies this week to tour his office and library. As impressive as the book collection is his highly organized system: books are grouped mostly geographically by author; sub-genres of his specialties have their own sections; and books within each section are alphabetical by author. Horizontal and vertical filing is acceptable; he doesn't at all find the jumbled mix "unsightly."

I had the great fortune of studying with Phillip last semester at Bennington, where I'm pursuing an MFA in nonfiction writing. Phillip, a provocative skeptic and a scholar with the mission to perpetuate great literature, is what you might call a demanding teacher -- the best kind, of course, a student can hope for. 

And as a former student who may still quiver in his presence, I cannot help, as I look at the photo below of him sitting in a chair in the living room, to feel somewhat of an insane pressure to compose these next blog posts as if they're being considered for entry into the great canon. Look at the confrontational way he's crossed his legs -- red pen in hand! Blame the stage fright, but I've nearly forgotten that during the innocuous moment when I took the picture, he was describing the comforts of the room, designed by his wife, Cheryl, and stroking the purring kitty that had jumped onto his armrest for a little affection. The red pens were all the way up on the third floor.

Up next, in canon-worthy writing, or perhaps more accurately in the kind of rushed writing that will allow me to finish a number of other deadlines, including one for school, is a tour of Phillip Lopate's library...

Saturday, October 30

Cartman figurine, bathtub, miscellany...

Here are a few final shots from hanging out with Bruce last weekend. After I got the general sense of the place, I noticed the details: Cartman in the corner, Polaroids of girls, shoe storage, laminated tour badges hanging from the doorknob...
 Through the window next to the bed, you can just barely see the neck of the guitar in the neighbor's window in the next building. The guys don't know each other.
Above, the Sleepy Rebels posters above the bed were props used the band's music video shot in Romania. Check out this video of the Sleepy Rebels with Romanian pop sensation Loredana. They're singing "Rain, Rain," the dance-happy song they wrote together, and they're all performing on Romania's version of The Tonight Show.

Thursday, October 28

The kitchen-slash-studio

We're walking into the kitchen, where musician-songwriter-producer Bruce Driscoll keeps more recording equipment, guitars, computers, cigarettes, a hanging wood monkey from Brazil (below) and the occasional pipe from the hardware store to make interesting sounds.
Below, view from the kitchen window; the sink (nesting dolls!); the wavy-fun-sweet handles on the cabinet under the sink.
  Guitars on the cabinets. Computer on the fridge. Magnets from Europe. Taped-up lyrics from a music video shot in the apartment.

Wednesday, October 27

Ten guitars, seven hats, keyboards, and gear--in 400 sq. ft.

Bruce has been in this apartment for two years, and with the move from another UES place came his ten greatest loves: the guitars. In every corner, on top of kitchen cabinets, on the bed, stacked near the desk, and stuffed in two closets live the guitars. There's one under the bed. 

The place is about 400 square feet, we're guessing, and it goes: entry; bathroom straight ahead; or living area to the right (above and below), with a bed, desk, chair, dressers, etc.; the kitchen is on the other side of the living area. There's gear everywhere.

I said in my previous post that I'd write more about Bruce's music—Remember this JC Penney Father's Day commercial? Bruce composed and produced it with his band mate, Jeremy Adelman. Bruce's sister Erica Driscoll is singing. Together, they're the Sleepy Rebels, and that song is the first one Bruce taught me on guitar. 
 
Above: the kitchen. Guitars on cabinets. Computers on the refrigerator. Below, Bruce singing through a tube he bought at a hardware store. Mad effects. See the record in a pic below? He's having a Prefab Sprout moment, he says.

Monday, October 25

Sunday morning with Bruce Driscoll

Such a pleasure it was yesterday visiting my musician-songwriter-producer friend Bruce Driscoll on the Upper East Side. I think I've known Bruce now for almost ten years—we have mutual friends in Michigan, where we're from—and I still see him as an adorable teenager in a very fine suit at a wedding in Los Angeles where we first met. He has the same contagious smile, the same fifth-Beatle vibe. Now, he's making music with more than a handful of bands (more on this later), getting songs placed in national ads (more later on this, too), and he just returned from Canada, where he was on tour with Isobel Campbell (formerly of Belle & Sebastian) and Mark Lanegan. When I arrived at his place at 11:30 am, he'd been working since 8, possessed to write something inspired by "Help Me, Rhonda," the song he woke up humming.

This week I'll post pics of Bruce's apartment and all its guitars-and-gear glory, but first, perhaps you'd like to hear some of his music? To start: Sleepy Rebels, Blondire, The King of Nowhere. And this video, filmed on set in Romania for a music video, cracks me up. It's an impromptu duet between him and one of the actors, and it's the Bruciest. More soon...