Monday, March 26, 2012

Feature Writing Assignment #4

Profile of Andre Solomon Glover

Every morning Andre Solomon Glover, 50, walks his two dogs around his Hamilton Heights neighborhood, where he’s lived in the same apartment for 22 years. After the walk, he meets Tsion, his home attendant, and walks to Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee and conversation. Tsion keeps Solomon Glover moving and gets him out of his apartment, otherwise he says, “I’ll just sit and surf the web.”

An opera and Broadway singer, Solomon Glover used to “live the fast life,” until a stroke drastically changed his life and his sense of himself in the world. Although he had great success before the stroke, he wasn’t happy. “My self-esteem was in tatters,” he says, adding that the stroke was really a blessing for him. “I don’t think you would have found the old Andre so interesting,” he says. “He was a pompous ass.” He didn’t know how to love himself. He says performing was “about seeking validation from audiences and less savory contexts,” declining to define what “less savory contexts” means.

Europe is where his fast living began. As a jazz singer with John Hendricks of the legendary jazz trio Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, he sang in a little club called Hot Jazz in Aix en Provence. “You want to talk about heady stuff?” he says. Ella Fitzgerald’s pianist, Tommy Flanagan was a frequent house guest. “Oh man,” he says, “I’m twenty three years old and I’m hanging out with Tommy Flanagan-he was a god on the piano.” Flanagan taught him to sing Time After Time.

After four months, Solomon Glover returned to New York City to pursue a career in opera and Broadway. He laments, “It was clear to me that I didn’t have the personal discipline to make a life in jazz. Smoking two packs of cigarettes a day…the women…the booze…the late nights.” A job at the Metropolitan Opera gift shop helped him re-acclimate himself to the world of classical music. “My voice was such that…it seemed like the place for it was classical music.” Still, he doesn’t think of himself as an opera singer, saying instead, “I think of myself as a recitalist who can’t make a living singing recitals. So I go where the work is.”

And work he did. According to Mode Records website, Solomon Glover “made solo appearances in major halls throughout the U.S. and Europe and has sung with Opera de Lyon, Teatro Lirico Sperimentale in Spoleto, Italy, Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland, the Munich Biennale, Marlboro Chamber Music Festival, and the Chicago Jazz Festival. His diverse operatic roles have included Escamillo in Carmen, the title role in Rigoletto, and Porgy (in a 35-city North American tour of Porgy and Bess). On Broadway, he starred as Joe in Hal Prince's Tony Award-winning production of Showboat.” “Most of the roles that interest me are cripples,” says Solomon Glover. “Rigoletto, the Hunchback, Wozzek and Porgy. I got to do Porgy a lot. ”

To say that music is important to Solomon Glover is a vast understatement. “I was singing before I could talk, he says.” He started singing with the Free Will Baptist Church and studied music theory at DeLand Senior High School in DeLand, Fl. “The thing that I’ve come to realize was such a blessing was that it wasn’t ‘til my late teens that singing had anything to do with notation. It was like becoming literate."

Solomon Glover attended the University of South Florida where he majored in vocal performance and minored in what was then called Afro-American History. He left the university without graduating because he was offered a job as a singer and a conductor with a group called The Voices of Liberty at Epcot Center, in Orlando, Florida. He says, “The ‘academy’ was not my objective. I wanted to be in the fray.”

At the age of 40 a stroke left him with internal brain impairment. “I had the stroke and it was like, ‘Wow, this is a gift for what I want to do,’ he muses, referring to his penchant for characters with disabilities. The stroke changed his life. His primary deficit is short term memory, he’s slower and he’s on several medications to regulate his blood pressure, so he doesn’t have a great deal of stamina. “I’m still me…I’m really happy to still be alive,” he says.

Solomon Glover still sings in church every Sunday. He also spends a lot of time with poetry, in particular the poems of Sterling A. Brown, which he’ll recite to anyone willing to listen. Brown is best known for the poem, After Winter. “I’ve gotta get somebody to set that to music for me,” he says. “I could spend the rest of my life hanging out with that poem.” He also spends time with his daughter Zahra, 22 who has Asperger’s Sydrome. “She has taught me unconditional love,” he says. His relationship with his son is less amicable. “I regret not…being a better family man,” he says.

His gratitude for this second act in life is what keeps Solomon Glover motivated. He’s a much happier person, saying, “I used to hide behind grandiosity and vocabulary. I’m not hiding anymore” Even given the physical and mental changes from the stroke and the impact on his career, there’s nothing he would change about his life, adding, “For me to be who I am things have to have gone the way they’ve gone.”

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fog Horn

Last night I heard a fog horn. I've never heard one here before. From up on the roof you can see that the whole city is shrouded in fog this morning. This is looking downtown on Broadway towards midtown. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Feature Writing Class Assignment #3

Biodynamically Delicious

Opening in September 2010, Lallisse offers a new opportunity for sustainable drinking and eating, filling the former Brasil House coffee shop at East 30th Street and Lexington Avenue in Murray Hill. A distinct Turkish/Mediterranean flavor influences everything from the food selections to the warm wood furniture and orange curtains and pillows scattered throughout, inviting you to lazily enjoy a glass of wine over a lengthy, multi-course meal with friends.

Brother and sister owners Ozgur, 30 and Eylem Delikanli, 35 had a personal vision to open Murray Hill’s first organic wine bar to connect New Yorkers with the sustainable wine and food scene going on right now across Europe. According to Eylem, “We both are adamant about eating and living organically and make eco-conscious choices in our personal lives. So our wine bar is just another reflection of that. We very much like the idea of going back to grandma's recipes and offer a glass of wine that we know was produced the way it has been produced for centuries. “

They work with several distributors that bring wines of mostly small and traditional farmers that strictly follow the organic, biodynamic and sustainable winemaking methods in Europe. “We worked with a sommelier that walked us through our wine selection once we knew that we wanted to offer organic wines. Our basic research was pretty much online, journals about organic wine and also our trips to Italy,” Eylem added. They are also members of Slow Food USA.

The feedback has been positive. “Patrons feel good about themselves when they know what they are eating or drinking is organic. It is usually harder to explain ‘biodynamic wines’, however, we think that visual descriptions (like stickers, menus, short texts) help to explain the overall concept,” says Eylem.

Lallisse is open for lunch, brunch on the weekends and dinner, which is often the busiest time. During Happy Hour (4-7 pm daily) wine flights are 50% off. They hold private wine tasting events and can host up to 40 people.

161 Lexington Ave 
New York, NY 10016

We had to write a service piece. I wrote about this restaurant that is not too far from where I work. I emailed the woman with questions. The instructor told me she thought the quotes were a little formal and it might have been stronger without them. After I handed the assignment in I realize that I forgot to include their contact info. I've added it here. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Krewe of Barkus

Click on the link to see pics from the Mystic Krewe of Barkus in New Orleans on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Anti-Fracking Rally

Last weekend I went to an anti-fracking rally at St. John the Divine Cathedral and took a bunch of photos for work. It was a good rally and the speakers were very motivational. I might have yelled, "No fracking way!" once or twice.

Click on the photo to see a slideshow of speakers.

Feature Writing Class Assignment #2

Donna Masselli, 42, IT Technician, Hell’s Kitchen

By Robin Madel

I’m in school at NYU, in my 4th year studying Creative Writing and I’m a poet. I grew up in a small town called Wallingford, CT. My brother lives on Martha’s Vineyard. I moved there after saving up a bunch of cash. I was dancing at the time – hip hop infused with modern dance and African-fusion. I had lived there for a year and met a girl who had an apartment in New York. She asked me if I was interested in it. I was completely oblivious to what any type of living meant here. I decided to take it.

I moved here in October of ‘99. Said apartment was a basement studio apartment on 4th between A&B. There was no kitchen-you’d be amazed what you can cook on a hot plate. The building owner built a shower out of some plastic he got at Home Depot, probably. There were water bugs everywhere. For a while I was just focused on finding steady work so I could get the hell out of that apartment. It was dark and depressing. Had I known that a basement apartment in Alphabet City was not going to be paradise, I might have stayed in Martha’s Vineyard. Yet I don’t regret it. When I moved here…for the first time, it was the first time it felt like home-with the exception of that fucking apartment.

There are a lot of things I would change in the past but I’m not really big on looking back. To me that’s counterproductive. Where’s my violin?


We had an assignment where we paired off and interviewed our classmates, then we had to write an interview in first person style, as if the person we interviewed had written the piece (I love this interview style). this meant that we had to write down everything they said, exactly as they said it. I interviewed Deanna about what she regrets in her life.

I wrote this right after class and revised it at the beginning of this week. Apparently I can't edit my own work. Gah!

The woman's name is actually Deanna, and I knew that, but for some reason I typed Donna. I read my piece in class and brought copies for the classmates to read as well. I was horrified when I realized I had mistyped her name. Then she read her piece about me and I realized that she had spelled and pronounced my last name as "Mandel," a common mistake. I felt somewhat redeemed.