Interview on Outspoken Podcast from Cal. St. Fullerton
On January 11, 2018 | 0 Comments

Usually I’m on the interviewing side of oral history work.  HERE I’m receiving questions from Ben Cawthra of Cal. St. Fullerton’s Center for Oral and Public History, where I gave the annual Hansen Lecture in Fall 2017.  In a good oral history interview, not intended for broadcast but for posterity, the questions are deeper than […]

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My Best of 2017
On December 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

2017 was epochal and challenging for most, including me.  It was the first time I’ve had an automobile license plate not issued in North Carolina.  Our toddler started bilingual day care, which he (and we) loved for five months before it almost disappeared overnight, saved by my wife and her colleagues on an urgent parent […]

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Jem Cohen’s film “Chuck-will’s-widow”
On December 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

There’s not much that could make me feel better about Gene Smith’s Sink than Jem Cohen’s short film based on it, “Chuck-will’s-widow,” and his words to introduce the film’s online premiere last week at The Paris Review Daily.  The film premiered on screen at National Sawdust in Brooklyn in October.  Jem’s work has influenced me for almost as […]

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Gene Smith’s Sink in December Harper’s
On November 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

All involved in Gene Smith’s Sink figured it would be a slow burn.  2017 isn’t the ideal year for a spare, quiet, “strange” (Luc Sante) and “unorthodox” (Nate Chinen) book incommensurate in page numbers (206) with the years of work (20) that made it possible. So we’re not surprised it took three months to get a deep […]

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Poet Ross Gay: Gene Smith’s Sink is “lyric research”
On November 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

  A few years ago a respected writer familiar with my work urged me to coin a phrase for what I do.  I asked him for a suggestion.  He said, “indirect narrative.”  I thought about it for a couple of years, modifying his idea and words to come up with “organic narrative,” meaning that my […]

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The Paris Review and National Sawdust Celebrate Gene Smith’s Sink
On October 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

Last week The Paris Review and National Sawdust threw an event for Gene Smith’s Sink at the latter’s sublime venue in Brooklyn.  A better conjoining of institutions and artists (see photos below) couldn’t be imagined for this book.  A number of chapters of the book were steeped in The Paris Review Daily over the past […]

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Scene from Tuesday Night at NYPL
On September 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

    A funny thing happened in the green room before Eugene Richards and I went onstage.  He told me a funny story about a recent radio interview in which his interviewer kept harping on how his content is so sad.  He and I shared a laugh about it.  Then I told him a story […]

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Writing Roundabout: An Interview with Sam Stephenson
On September 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

Sam is interviewed by The Paris Review‘s managing editor, Nicole Rudick.  The results offer an inside look at the making of Gene Smith’s Sink.  

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The Greatest Jazz Photograph
On August 29, 2017 | 1 Comments

Charlie Parker was born ninety-seven years ago today in Kansas City.  The date makes me think of my favorite jazz photograph, two versions of which are here, by Bob Parent.  The Open Door in Greenwich Village in September 1953.  Very few historic jazz photographs render the whole band.  For my money, this could be the […]

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