Payday Drunks and Ten-Cent Coffee– Glimpses of Everyday Life in Crime Fiction by Jon Natchez
American crime fiction typically focuses on corners of American society ignored by other genres. With burnt-out, broke, and desperate protagonists moving through burnt-out, broke, and desperate worlds, these novels parenthetically show the reader snapshots of fascinating and rarely seen ways of life. From Jim Thompson’s destitute 1950s America to Elmore Leonard’s disintegrating Detroit to George Pelecanos’s inner-city D.C., this talk will survey how and why these authors (and others) document American lives that remain largely hidden from public view.
The Secrets of South Jersey by Carlene Bauer
South Jersey is the forgotten and unknown bottom half of the state, oriented toward Philadelphia instead of New York City. It is said to be more redneck than North Jersey, perhaps because here lies much of the farmland that gives the Garden State its bewildering nickname; this impression is furthered by the accent, which is Philadelphia’s accent, not New York’s. Bruce Springsteen is not its son. But South Jersey has given birth to or played host to these legends, real or imagined: Patti Smith, the Jersey Devil, L. Ron Hubbard, and Walt Whitman. It is the home of RCA Victor, Campbell’s soup, the Pine Barrens, and the most dangerous city in America. As you might surmise from this partial list of secrets, South Jersey is strangely urban and strangely rural–and strangely haunted. And yet it still remains largely unsung as a geographical region. Carlene Bauer, a native daughter, will take you on a tour.
The Grave is Empty (explained) by David Dixon
Taking cues from the complete title of Gustave Courbet’s 1855 masterpiece The Artist’s Studio, a real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life, artist and filmmaker David Dixon will moonlight as an art historian and philosopher by reading this painting together with Courbet’s A Burial at Ornans, which was painted seven years earlier, using the famous paradoxes of the pre-Socratic Zeno and the myth of Narcissus, leading to surprising insights into the genre of landscape, immortality and social responsibility.
Jon Natchez is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter/composer currently living in Brooklyn. Called “Indie Rock’s Most Valuable Sideman” by NPR, he was a member of the celebrated group Beirut, and has performed and recorded with David Byrne, St. Vincent, Spoon, Passion Pit, Zooey Deschanel and many others. He is currently a member of the group Yellow Ostrich.
Carlene Bauer is the author of Not That Kind of Girl, a memoir, and the novel Frances and Bernard, which will be published by Houghton Mifflin in February. She has written for n + 1, Slate, and Salon. Her zip code is 11211.
David Dixon works as a painter, sculptor, actor, writer, photographer, video artist, and filmmaker. His two feature length films, Unloosened and Root and David Dixon is dead. have shown across New York, the second winning Best Narrative Feature at the Queens World Film Festival in 2012. He lives and works in New York.