Thanks for sticking with us all week. Covering the topics we covered the past few days may not have been pleasant, but watching the numbers tick up as our readers and listeners gravitated to the topic certainly was pleasant. It’s important to see that there are people committed to helping certain buried or glossed-over stories get the attention they deserve. We are going to pick Dr. Darwin’s story up again next Wednesday, but in the meantime we have some lighter fare scheduled for this weekend.
Tomorrow, The Ivory Tower Boiler Room team is quite excited to release “Backstage with Jesse Green, the chief NY Times Theater Critic.” We still can’t believe that it all began with Andrew’s undergraduate professor, Dr. Dan Gover reading Andrew’s “Talking Back to Walt Whitman” essay and asking if Andrew had read Jesse Green’s NY Times Whitman piece, “Walt Whitman, Poet of a Contradictory America.” And, as is expected with Andrew’s interest in Whitman’s queer poetics, he has turned to Jesse’s essay multiple times for teaching queerness in Whitman’s poetry. Well, not only did Andrew fan out when getting the chance to interview Jesse, but so many topics get addressed. Everything from Andrew and Jesse growing up in the Philly suburbs (opposite sides of the Delaware River), Adam picking Jesse’s brain about his writing process, Andrew wanting gossip about Broadway stars, and of course, all three divulging their favorite theater experiences. This is not an interview you want to miss, and we also had some other titles, but sadly, they didn’t make the cut.
“Where is that Jersey Diner: A Generational Dilemma”? (you’ll get it after listening to the episode)
“Broadway Gossip with Jesse Green”
“Are Broadway Creatives as Crazy as they Seem? (Yes, but Often in a Good Way)”
So much for the verbal portion. As our regulars know, we always send a set group of questions to our interviewees. So let’s see how Jesse Green did on the written:
> 1.What are you listening to, reading, watching?
listening to: frogs, woodpeckers, turkeys, show tunes
reading: Dorothy Parker, Alison Bechdel, Paul Rudnick, Ibsen
watching: “Dix Pour Cent,” “Shtissel,” “Pose,” “Derry Girls,” “Special”
> 2.Do you like to cook? What is your favorite thing to make?
I do like to cook but I am more the sous chef in our family. My favorite thing to make is maple-nutmeg pie.
> 3.What is something you have read and loved, and wish more people would read?
The novels of William Maxwell: “The Folded Leaf,” “The Chateau,” “So Long, See You Tomorrow,” etc.
> 4.Did you grow up with video- or computer-games? What were/are some of your favorites?
I totally did not. And even though my kids did, I never got into it.
> 5.You’re taking a sick-day from work. What movie are you putting on.
“God’s Own Country,” any Fred Astaire movie
> 6.What’s your favorite excuse for why you have writer’s block?
My excuse is more a truth than an excuse: Writing is hard. And blocks should be honored. Also, my solitaire app is very inviting.
> 7.What’s a book everyone says you should read, but you either read it and hated it, or haven’t read it.
I won’t name names.
If all the salacious reading she’s been doing wasn’t already enough, Erika finally got around to watching season 2 of Sex Education this week. With the amount of time she spent teaching human sexualtiy and related topics, it’s interesting for her to see the relationship between Gillian Anderson’s character and Asa Butterfield’s character, and how they do (or don’t) navigate healthy boundaries between parent and child around sexuality. She also took time to binge watch My Unorthodox Life and Season 2 of Never Have I Ever on Netflix this week. This week’s YouTube viewing has mostly been Verily Bitchie–mostly the vampire videos and the bisexuality videos…although it’s best when you can have both at once.
Erika has been listening again to episodes of our podcast; she says it’s comforting to hear Adam and Andrew talking while working on difficult things. She’s taking Adam’s suggestions into consideration and listening to Beethoven, too. She als turned to her Walk the Moon playlist for a pick me up this week. On July 14, while honoring Bastille Day with the rest of the Buck’s Rock campers, staff and alumni, she posted to Facebook and quote Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and since they appear on a number of camp related playlists, their music took up some of her working afternoon. And just because it’s great fun and almost guaranteed to make her feel better, she’s listened several times to Thomas Benjamin Wild’s “I’ve No More Fucks to Give.”
For the first time since really getting started on the Ivory Tower Boiler Room’s website and blog, Erika wrote a (first draft of a) poem this week! While she may rail against accepting the label “poet,” she does enjoy writing them…when they work. She’s not sure if it’s just because there’s space in her brain right now after the workload involved in getting the blog and site up and running and then writing some very serious content for Pride month, or inspiration after reading Danez Smith ‘s”Don’t Call Us Dead” and Natalie Diaz’s “Post Colonial Love Poem.” She also brought out Kevin Hearne’s “Hounded” (the first book in the Iron Druid Chronicles series,) for a re-read, since she would like eventually to finish the series. This week she’s going to go searching for things to accompany her reading of Sarah Schulman’s “Let the Record Show,” so help her out with some lighter suggestions to counter the serious history.
Andrew has tuned into the new reboot of Gossip Girl because he is quite obsessed with Upper East Side soap opera dramas (Cruel Intentions comes to his mind). He is going to see his friend, who works at the Whitman Birthplace, for a trip to the theater to see Black Widow on Saturday. He says that before he goes to the movie theater, they will go on a hike in Cold Spring Harbor (what’s that saying about work and play?) We can ask him for pictures, too.
While he’s walking, Andrew is listening to Shirley Bassey on repeat, since it helps to keep him in an uplifted and positive spirit. His favorite live concert of hers is when she comes back to Cardiff, Wales (her hometown), especially around minute 25 of the recording when she starts “Big Spender” and then transitions to “You Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet” (you will instantly be smiling).
Andrew’s Audible account is running full-speed, with 14 hours left of James Baldwin’s Just Above My Head so he will be spending the rest of the summer with Baldwin’s prose. We can also find him back in a familiar place; he is doing some Whitman and homoeroticism research for his current dissertation chapter. See some of the texts below:
Adam’s time with his brother in the northern wilds is sadly coming to a close. No more daily thunderstorms, no more wild raspberries (they’re an invasive species anyway…) and no more nights watching Ted Lasso while eating homemade hummus, palak paneer, and other delicacies.
Meantime, Adam has been rereading A Supposedly Fun think I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace,
Listening to the usual Bach, Schubert, and Ravel, and watching the aforementioned Ted Lasso.
Ever the researcher, Mary is still reading through tons of information for the last installment of The Gainesville Ripper. Next week’s episode dives into Danny Rolling’s most gruesome crimes that gave him the name Gainesville Ripper.
This week Mary finally has a song recommendation for us! “Hunnybee” by Unknown Mortal Orchestra. This song is light and interesting and overall an escape for this Ivory Tower Boiler Room team member. Mary also likes that this song reminds her to take care of the bees-specifically honey bees- despite that she really does not like ANY bugs.
On the screen, Mary watched the beginning of The Tomorrow War and was a huge fan of the beginning. Her disinterest in alien movies has stopped her from watching the whole movie though, and that wasn’t helped when she was able to figure out the conclusion to one of the more major plotlines (confirmed by her movie buff boyfriend who watched the movie) so she is more eager to see how that part plays out and less about alien action.
From our Boiler Room to you, we hope you have a good weekend, and take the time to enjoy some good things for yourself. We’d love your recommendations for what we should read, watch and listen to here in the comments, in an email or on social media. Share some favorites with us.
-The Ivory Tower Team