We’re back! TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1ST *8 PM* Venue change!: REANIMATION LIBRARY, inside the Proteus Gowanus complex, 543 Union St.

Hello! It has been a long and hardy hibernation for the Other Means reading series, but we are back just in time to have one first/ final reading before the end of 2009. We’re teaming up with The Reanimation Library (an amazing Brooklyn library of out-of-circulation books that is open as a resource and inspiration for artists, historians, and the generally curious) to put together a one-time-only event, benefiting the library, and utilizing its unique resources.

Poets Julian T. Brolaski, Paul Foster Johnson, and E. Tracy Grinnell, and fiction writers Caitlin MacRae and Bob Powers have all created original works based on materials found at the library, and they will be reading them! For you! For the low, low, suggested donation price of $5! There will also be wine and snacks. All proceeds from the suggested donation will go directly towards keeping the library up and running.

This event will be held at REANIMATION LIBRARY, INSIDE THE PROTEUS GOWANUS COMPLEX, 543 Union Street in Gowanus, *NOT* the Flying Saucer coffee shop, the traditional home of Other Means.

Tuesday, June 30th, 8pm

James Hannaham and Karan Mahajan read in support of the Ali Forney Center

at

the Flying Saucer Cafe, 494 Atlantic Ave (between 3rd Ave and Nevins), Brooklyn


James Hannaham’s
first novel, God Says No, has just been published by McSweeney’s Books. His stories have appeared in The Literary Review, Open City, Nerve, One Story, and several anthologies. His critical journalism has appeared in The Village Voice, Spin, Us, Out, and Salon.com, where he was once on staff. He has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, The Blue Mountain Center, Chateau de Lavigny, Fundación Valparaíso, and a NYFFA Fellowship in Fiction. He teaches creative writing at the Pratt Institute.

Karan Mahajan
grew up in New Delhi and graduated from Stanford
University. His first novel Family Planning was published by
HarperCollins in December and is being translated into six languages.

The Ali Forney Center (AFC) was started in June of 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth in New York City. We are committed to providing these young people with safe, dignified, nurturing environments where their needs can be met, and where they can begin to put their lives back together.

AFC is dedicated to promoting awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth in the United States with the goal of generating responses on local and national levels from government funders, foundations, and the LGBT community.

May 26th, 8pm

Jane Berentson, Elizabeth Dwoskin, and Suzanne Guillette

TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2009, 8PM

THE FLYING SAUCER
, 494 Atlantic Ave, between 3rd and Nevins

*$5 Suggested Donation*

ALL PROCEEDS GO DIRECTLY TO SUSTAINABLE SOUTH BRONX

JANE BERENTSON (Miss Harper Can Do It) grew up in rural Washington State. She has a BA in Spanish and English from Pacific Lutheran University, an MA in publishing and writing from Emerson College, and is currently working on an MS in adolescent Spanish education at Pace University.

SUZANNE GUILLETTE’s first book, Much to Your Chagrin: A Memoir of Embarrassment, chronicles the year she spent collecting embarrassing stories on the streets of Manhattan, in hopes of compiling them for a book. But, as the year progressed and the stories began to pile up, Suzanne slowly came to realize that the embarrassing story she was really meant to tell was her own. Her work has appeared in Publisher’s Weekly, Time Out, Tin House and SELF and elsewhere. Suzanne holds a Bachelor’s in Philosophy and a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Non-fiction. She lives in Brooklyn.

ELIZABETH DWOSKIN is a staff writer at The Village Voice. Prior to reporting on the outer boroughs of New York City, she attended the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and freelanced stories about Newark, New Jersey, for The New York Times. She has lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and joyously remembers travelling the Amazon.

Founded in 2001 by life-long South Bronx resident, Majora Carter, SUSTAINABLE SOUTH BRONX addresses land-use, energy, transportation, water & waste policy, and education to advance the environmental and economic rebirth of the South Bronx, and inspire solutions in areas like it across the nation and around the world.

Two Year Anniversary – April 28th!

GLENN KURTZ (Practicing) and DAVID ROTHENBERG (Thousand Mile Song) read in support of nonprofit arts presenter THE TANK

TUESDAY, APRIL 28, 2009, 8PM
at THE FLYING SAUCER, 494 Atlantic Ave, between 3rd and Nevins
*$5 Suggested Donation*


ALL PROCEEDS GO DIRECTLY TO THE TANK


GLENN KURTZ is the author of Practicing, a moving memoir of his early career as a classical guitarist and his subsequent return to the instrument after a decade-long absence. The book was called “a thoughtful and fluid meditation” by the New York Times, and Newsday hailed as “the book of a lifetime.” Glenn has been featured on NPR’s “Weekend Edition” with Scott Simon, “To the Best of Our Knowledge,” and “West Coast Live,” and has been published in The New York Times, Zyzzyva, Lost Magazine, and Tema Celeste. He graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music-Tufts University Double Degree Program and holds a PhD in comparative literature from Stanford University. He has taught at San Francisco State University, California College of the Arts, and Stanford University. He lives in New York City and is working on a novel.  Practicing will appear in an Italian edition in 2010.

Philosopher and musician DAVID ROTHENBERG is the author of Thousand Mile Song, an exploration of making music with whales, as well as Why Birds Sing, a personal examination of the nature of bird song, which was the basis of a feature-length BBC documentary, and which was published in editions in Italy, Spain, Taiwan, China, Korea, and Germany. Rothenberg’s other books include Sudden Music, Blue Cliff Record, Hand’s End, and Always the Mountains.  His articles have appeared in Parabola, Orion, The Nation, Wired, Dwell, among other publications.  Rothenberg is also a composer and jazz clarinetist, with seven CDs out under his own name. He is professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

THE TANK is a non-profit arts presenter whose mission is to provide a welcoming, creative, collaborative, and affordable environment for artists and activists engaged in the pursuit of new ideas. Through a wide range of low-cost, high-concept arts and public affairs programming, The Tank seeks to cultivate a new generation of audience for live performance, civic discourse, and the work of emerging artists.

Three Questions with Kathryn Joyce, Reading March 31st!

I’ve been excited about Kathryn Joyce’s Quiverfull ever since her first piece on the topic debuted on Alternet in 2006 (read it here). So I am, of course, beyond excited that Kathryn is reading for us on our March 31st Super Feminist Powerhouse Reading (I just made that name up, but I think you will agree that it is totally true!), along with Michelle Goldberg and Jennifer Baumgardner, supporting the New York Abortion Access Fund.

Kathryn’s book has been praised all over the place, by Barbara Ehrenreich, Bitch Magazine, Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, the American Prospect, Ms., Buzz Flash, and BUST, among many other publications as a serious and thoughtful look at a lifestyle most of us can’t even begin to imagine (for the full run-down on people loving Quiverfull, look here). Quiverfull takes us deep into the emerging world of the Christian patriarchal counterculture, and in the interview below, Kathryn takes us into her own motivation for writing about the Quiverfull movement, why progressives shouldn’t just brush it off, and why TV shows like “17 Kids and Counting” are not quite the harmless fun TLC would like you to believe they are.

OM: What drew you to the Christian patriarchy movement as a topic to write about, and why do you think it’s important for progressives to be aware of and understand this particular movement?

Kathryn Joyce: I first came across the Quiverfull movement while researching the anti-contraception movement among pro-life pharmacists claiming “conscientious objections” to dispensing birth control. I had been unaware of anti-abortion claims that birth control functions as abortion, and hadn’t known that opposition to contraception had become an important issue among Protestants and evangelicals in addition to traditional opponents among Catholic and LDS churches. Looking into some of the groups that were supportive of the pharmacists’ movement though, I came across a surprisingly well-organized coalition of evangelical anti-contraception groups, some of whom were arguing that Christians should leave their family size and spacing in the hands of God. As I began to read a number of books that shaped the community and conviction, particularly early movement texts like Mary Pride’s The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality, and Rick and Jan Hess’s Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ, I began to see a vehement anti-feminism and another, startling motivation for large Christian families as well, as the Quiverfull authors told readers that by having very large families, and teaching their children to do the same, they could win the culture wars through numbers alone.

I think Quiverfull is most a topic of worry for progressives not for these sorts of demographic dreams of takeover, but for its represenation of a purist edge of the anticontraception and antifeminist movement that exists across the conservative Christian spectrum.

OM: The Quiverfull movement is still fairly young–where do you feel like it is going to go from here? Do you think it has the capacity to become much larger than it is now?

Kathryn: The Quiverfull movement began in earnest less than 30 years ago, and many of the first generation of children are now becoming adults. While not all stay in the faith, a number do, and are starting to pass on their message. But in general, I don’t the movement will grow significantly in its absolutist form. Where there is significant potential/threat for growth is through more watered-down versions of the same arguments: against contraception, against women’s and gay rights, for the necessity of women having moderately larger families, of 3-4 each, and justifications for nations or religious authorities further involving themselves in reproductive choices on demographic grounds. I think this sort of spread is also most visible, and the most immediate threat, in more mainstream evangelical churches, where complementarian theology and prontalism are on the rise.

OM: There’s been a noticeable media obsession with very large families in the past few years, especially on reality TV, where shows like TLC’s “17 Kids and Counting” feature actual Quiverfull families. What do you think of the media’s treatment of this phenomenon? Do you think the way its played for laughs or melodrama on these shows makes the movement seem more innocuous–less like an oppressive religious system and more like a funny quirk?

Kathryn: Absolutely. In the episodes of the Duggar show that I’ve seen, the focus has been by and large on the novel details of large family life: the many loads of laundry, gallons of milk, car seats and funny 15-people vans. Related shows, like the Kids by the Dozen specials, likewise seem to center around large-family hijinks, like planning huge birthday parties. While this makes the families relatable in ways that are surely accurate, it leaves little room for honesty about the serious and unfunny convictions that drive them. Principles of the movement, like submission to husbands and fathers, an attitude of radical obedience to God and the authorities he puts over you, the anti-dating courtship conviction, and the true nature of Quiverfull mothers’ ongoing and often frightening leaps of biological faith don’t come across on the small screen, at least not as represented by a family with an exponentially higher income than most Quiverfull families and significant cultural and political power. Making these choices looks a lot different in the real world.

Jennifer Baumgardner, Michelle Goldberg, and Kathryn Joyce, March 31st, 8pm!

People!

We are so excited about this month’s reading, we cannot even make any of the goofy email jokes you have come to expect from us!

So we’re gonna tell it you straight, bub: if you miss our amazing March 31st reading at the Flying Saucer, where Jennifer Baumgardner, Michelle Goldberg, and Kathryn Joyce will all be reading from their new books in support of the New York Abortion Access Fund, for the low, low price of $5, you are only hurting yourself. Please come by to enjoy some free wine, nice people, and the most awesome gathering of feminist writers you’ll find around!

8pm* Flying Saucer Cafe , 494 Atlantic Ave (between Nevins and Third Ave.)*$5 suggested donation* on-site book sales provided by Mobile Libris Continue reading

Interview with Rachel Shukert ! Reading on 2.24!

I know you were already planning on seeing Rachel Shukert read (with Anya Ulinich) at the Other Means Reading Series at 8pm on Tuesday, February 24th, because you are totally no fool– you know that her book, “Have You No Shame?”, a bawdy, comic memoir of growing up Jewish in Nebraska, has been praised as containing ” the essence of being young, brash, and sexually awkward in the mid 90′s…recognizable and hilariously unpredictable…Shukert has a talent for pulling out the gritty, uncomfortable details that bring her stories into sharp relief…and packs enough force and honesty to send you reeling.” by Time Out New York and as an “at times bawdy, at times bleak…laugh-out-loud-funny and gloriously written coming-of-age portrait” by Joshua Neuman, publisher of Heeb. And I mean, I (Gaby) am not going to mess around with you. It is an effing hilarious book. I read it while sitting on a park bench and it made me laugh so hard that I felt like a crazy person.

But perhaps you need more convincing? Perhaps you don’t believe me OR Time Out New York? In which case, what is wrong with you, but please also enjoy this interview with Rachel! Rachel had many, many interesting things to say about playwriting,”Twilight”, abstinence education, European expatery, and corned beef, which will surely make a believer out of all of you (even the goyische).

G: I was reading your book early in the fall when all this “Twilight” nonsense was happening, and I couldn’t help but contrast your funny, honest, and irreverent recollections of teen sexuality, which I would place in a tradition of Judy Blume and other great bards of teenage sexual foibles, with all that weird vampire-promise-ring-purity-ball shit going on in those books, which completely weirded me out. Are times changing? Do you think Jewish teens have traditionally had a healthier, or at least more realistic, view of sexuality than their Christian counterparts, and do you think the current national environment of trendy sexual repression for young people threatens that at all? Do you think “Twilight” makes sense to any Jews at all? Did you read those books, do they make any sense to you?

Rachel: Well, Twilight doesn’t make any sense to this Jew, that’s for sure. I didn’t read the books, but I’ve read a lot about them because I like to keep my finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist. They seem very creepily masochistic to me, and this sort of equating sex with death/an irrevocable transformation is, I think, so unhealthy. I think it’s so much more damaging to place that kind of premium on sex, to make it into such a big deal. The abstinence movement is so obsessed with sex and sexuality, I don’t know how they get anything else done. I think the best, most helpful thing you can say to a teenage girl about her first sexual experience is how incredibly dim a memory it is going to be just a few years down the road. It just shouldn’t be made that important. Do it, or don’t do it, but don’t build an entire identity around it. Sort of forcing people to think about their sexuality as another kind of teenage subculture, like being a goth or a skater or whatever, is so so so weird. We don’t do that with any other bodily functions. If I have kids, I plan to counsel them to just do it and get it over with. Like that scene in the TV show Rome, where Atia sends Octavian to the brothel, just so he can get it DONE. I think it’s possible that Jewish kids have a healthier view of this, that they see sex less as this penultimate event that Will Change Everything, and more as a kind of fun thing to mess around with, if you want to. But I don’t want to speak for everyone. That’s how I saw it, and I’m very happy I wasn’t raised to believe differently. Jews–and I’m talking about assimliated, modernized Jews, because obviously if you get into Orthodoxy, that’s a whole other ball of wax–are not big self-deniers. I also think that the traditional Jewish emphasis on achievement–intellectual, academic, etc.–which can be so oppressive in some ways, is actually a very, very good thing in this regard, particularly for girls. In my family, I was taught that my primary asset was my brain and what I could do with it, not my “purity” or “womanhood.” This is true of most of the Jewish girls I know. Because so much of the purity movement seems like a subjugation of women. I know you could argue the opposite–just as you can argue that some women wear the hijab as a form of liberation–and I am sure there is truth to that. But when boys are putting on big white dresses going to purity balls and symbolically marrying their mothers, then we can talk. I just think there is something so creepy about putting a parent in a custodial role over a kid’s sexuality–that should be the one thing that should never belong to another person.

G: After the book’s end, you ended up in Europe for a few years–do you think, having grown up as a Jewess in the Midwest, that you’re more comfortable with the role of the outsider? Do you think that helped you feel comfortable living as an expat? How does it feel, in contrast, to now live in our lovely and Jewish-person-filled city, where I would assume that you are very much an insider?

Rachel: That’s an interesting question, and I think the answer is yes. From an early age, I had kind of developed this bubble, this self-containment and ability to observe a dominant culture from the outside, which made my experience of living Europe quite familiar in a way. But I think there’s a sense of being an outsider inherent in being a writer, or in the writerly temperament–having to hold yourself slightly apart from an experience in order to observe it accurately and contextualize it later. I do like being surrounded by Jews now though. It’s infectious. Sometimes I catch myself at the deli counter screaming things like: “I want the corned beef sliced thin! Not too thin! Take your thumb off the scale, what, you think I was born yesterday?” It feels vestigial, as though I am tapped into something bigger than myself, and this gives me a warm and cozy feeling. Also–I’m glad you asked this–because this is what my next book is about! My European adventures, that is, not me getting all Jewy at the Zabars. It’s called The Grand Tour and it will come out next year from Harper Collins and everyone in America should buy it, because it is the next “Dreams From My Father” except I don’t think I can run for public office due to my public medical records in Nebraska never being officially cleared of a false diagnosis of gonnorrhea I once received. (I didn’t have it, but I forgot to call them back and tell them.) On the other hand, if I bring this up in the book, maybe it’s cool.

G: How did you end up jumping from being a playwright to being an essayist? Why did you jump from being a playwright to being an essayist (though I know you do still write plays, and please feel free to plug any of them here)?

Rachel: It really happened pretty organically. I would find myself with all of these observations and jokes that didn’t work inside of dialogue, and I needed something to do with them. It felt like a very natural form for me, anecdotal, funny, but adhering to a larger point.And also, people started paying me for essays, which they emphatically did not do for plays. But my theater career is bustling along! I have just started a new company, called Terrible Baby, with the genius playwright Nick Jones and the equally genius director/actor Peter Cook. We are doing a new play that Nick and I wrote called “The Nosemaker’s Apprentice” at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg this spring, and again, everyone in America should come see it! We’re running April 24-May 23. I’m very excited to be working with such great people, and it’s such a nice change from the prose writing, which is done in such isolation. Good things come from being with others! Thank you!