the next service is in Los Angeles on June 11

Monthly Archives: February, 2015

Upcoming Events | ANIMALS


Los Angeles. We are headed back to your fair city. Our next gathering will be at The Boot leg Theater on Sunday, March 15th – the theme will be ANIMALS. Our featured artist will be our very own Bobby Lucy, who’s painting is featured above – it’s a close up of our dear departed dog, Ruby. Bobby makes portraits of animals by commission and will be sharing them with us all. Come join us if you’re in or around LA – or send your pals.


Solitude | Gallery

The Secret City | Solitude

Our theme this month is SOLITUDE, in honor of this time. I read something recently that said, for people living in places where the climate changes a lot over the course of year, that winter is when you really learn what a place is made of. it reveals the bones underneath a place – I know I learn about myself in the winter – my less-showy parts, perhaps, come to light.

The Secret City | Solitude | Gallery


The Cultural Calendar | 2.22.15

cultural calandar

Today is Sunday, February 22nd, 2015. Today is the 53rd day of the year, there are 312 days remaining until the end of the year. We are in the sign of Pisces – you’re not as confident as you might appear.


  • In 1879 in Utica, NY, Frank Woolworth opened the first of his Woolworth’s Five and Dime stores.
  • In 1892, Lady Windermere’s Fan, by Oscar Wilde premiered at St. James Theater in London.
  • In 1924, Calvin Coolidge became the first president to address the nation via radio.
  • In 1934, It Happened One Night, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, opened at New York’s Radio City.
  • In 1956, Elvis Presley had his first top ten hit with Heartbreak Hotel.
  • In 1983, the notorious Broadway flop, Moose Murders, opened and closed on the same night at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre.


Polish pianist and composer Frederic Chopin in 1810. Poet, playwright and legendary resident of the West Village, Edna St. Vincent Millay in 1892. Spanish film director Luis Bunuel in 1900. Playwright and author Jane Bowles in 1917. Italian actress and muse to Federico Fellini, Giulietta Masina in 1921. Artist and poet Edward Gorey in 1925. Actress Julie Walters in 1950, Kyle Maclachlan in 1960 and Drew Barrymore in 1975.


French painter Jean Camile Baptiste Corot in 1875. Singer Florence Ballard, one third of the original Supremes, died in 1976. Andy Warhol in 1987. Cartoonist Chuck Jones in 2002. Journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.


  • Our very own Raquel Cion’s new show Me & Mr. Jones: My Intimate Relationship with David Bowie is anight of personal stories and the music of David Bowie, wherein one psychodelicate girl explores her soul love. Directed by Dusty Childers. Musical direction and piano by the brilliant Michael Harren. Wednesday, February 25th at 7:30pm at Judson Memorial Church. Visit or see Raquel & Michael later today.
  • Our pal, soul singer Simi Stone, is doing her thing at The Living Room in Williamsburg, Thursday, Feb 26th at 7pm.
  • And, Secret City music director and frontman Jeremy Bass has a show this Friday at 7pm at Rockwood Music Hall. See Jeremy for details or visit for details.
  • Kristina Wong performs her latest solo show, The Wong Street Journal beginning March 1st at Subculture. It’s the story of an Asian American performance artist who visits Uganda and finds herself an African Hip Hop sensation. Visit for tickets.


Mariana Newhard | Cultural Calendar

Mariana Newhard

Our Cultural Calendar this Sunday, Feb 22nd – the theme is SOLITUDE – will be read by Mariana Newhard, a New York actor and videographer. Mariana hails from Manila, the capital of The Philippines, where she grew to love mangoes and the performing arts. Musing on the theme of solitude, she feels she is never lonely in the company of art


Philip Levine (January 10, 1928 – February 14, 2015)


The great poet Philip Levine died this weekend. The poet Jeremy Bass, who’s also the music director of The Secret City, wrote a brief appreciation. We also include Levine’s iconic work: They Feed They Lion. RIP to a celebrated American poet.

I met Philip Levine at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference a few summers ago. I’d heard of him, I’d read his iconic poem “They Feed They Lion,” but hadn’t delved into his poetry beyond that. His reading that summer, made up of poems from his last collection, was intensely and joyfully moving. He wrote about working people, their lives and suffering, he wrote about family and the poets of the Spanish Civil War, he wrote about childhood and how the ghost of his dead friend Larry Levis appeared in his dreams complete with black motorcycle jacket and faded jeans, he wrote about travel and California and the Black Wine of Alicante. I immediately rushed out to purchase copies of “What Work Is” and “The Simple Truth” (for which he was awarded the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, respectively) and found that these themes ran consistently throughout all of his work. His writing was always directed toward increasing the clarity of our awareness of being alive, and even at 85, a slight man, hunched at the podium, you could sense that generosity and brilliance of purpose. I never knew him personally, but he was considered to be one of the most dedicated and supportive teachers by all who studied with him–at times combative and fierce, but always in pursuit of nurturing the next great poem that would speak to the human condition. – Jeremy Bass


Out of burlap sacks, out of bearing butter,
Out of black bean and wet slate bread,
Out of the acids of rage, the candor of tar,
Out of creosote, gasoline, drive shafts, wooden dollies,
They Lion grow.

Out of the gray hills
Of industrial barns, out of rain, out of bus ride,
West Virginia to Kiss My Ass, out of buried aunties,
Mothers hardening like pounded stumps, out of stumps,
Out of the bones’ need to sharpen and the muscles’ to stretch,
They Lion grow.

Earth is eating trees, fence posts,
Gutted cars, earth is calling in her little ones,
“Come home, Come home!” From pig balls,
From the ferocity of pig driven to holiness,
From the furred ear and the full jowl come
The repose of the hung belly, from the purpose
They Lion grow.

From the sweet glues of the trotters
Come the sweet kinks of the fist, from the full flower
Of the hams the thorax of caves,
From “Bow Down” come “Rise Up,”
Come they Lion from the reeds of shovels,
The grained arm that pulls the hands,
They Lion grow.

From my five arms and all my hands,
From all my white sins forgiven, they feed,
From my car passing under the stars,
They Lion, from my children inherit,
From the oak turned to a wall, they Lion,
From they sack and they belly opened
And all that was hidden burning on the oil-stained earth
They feed they Lion and he comes.

Philip Levine 1968


Melinda Tracy | Food Offering


Melinda Tracy began coming to The Secret City last year – she’s become a great part of our community. For the current season, Melinda has been curating our food offerings, creating in a line-up of wonderful chefs and food people, she’s really enriched the way that the shared taste works in our services. For our upcoming service in NYC – Sunday, Feb 22nd – she’s going to provide the offering herself and, in keeping with the theme of SOLITUDE, she’ll be presenting Japanese tea. It will be our first time having tea together.

Melinda Tracy is a Brooklyn-based chef with a passion for connecting people over food.  With a rustic aesthetic and focus on seasonal, local ingredients, she creates menus that not only delight the palate but also feed the body and spirit through shared experience.


Josh Lefkowitz | Featured Artist

Josh Lefkowitz

I first met Josh Lefkowitz when he was performing in a play on theater row in New York City a few years back – he was funny, charming and great. I had no idea he was also a writer – and an award winning poet. I’ve asked him to read for us for our next event in NYC – Sunday, Feb 22nd, the theme is SOLITUDE. So glad he’ll be part of the line-up. Here’s his bio.

Josh Lefkowitz received an Avery Hopwood Award for Poetry at the University of Michigan, and won the 2013 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Prize.  His poems, stories, and essays have been widely published both online and in print, and he has recorded humorous essays for NPR’s All Things Considered and BBC’s Americana.  Previously, Josh performed a pair of full-length autobiographical one-man shows in theaters and spaces across the country, and toured both domestically and internationally as part of Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell.  Most recently he was a finalist for the 2014 Brooklyn Non-Fiction Prize.


Zhong-Jing Fang | Featured Artist

Zhong-Jing Fang | Featued Performer

I can barely contain myself! For our upcoming service in NYC – the theme is SOLITUDE, Feb. 22nd – we have a ballerina from the American Ballet Theater coming to perform for us. Zhong-Jing Fang is someone I’ve been acquainted with for a few years and the timing finally worked out to have her come be a part of The Secret City. I think she’s going to dance The Dying Swan – I might faint. Here’s her bio:

Born in Shanghai, China, Zhong-Jing Fang received her early training at the Shanghai Ballet School where she trained for seven years. Before joining ABT’s Studio Company in 2002, Fang graduated with a major in ballet from the Performing Arts College of Shanghai Drama University.

In 2000, Fang was the winner of the famed Prix de Lausanne, and winner of the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation Prize at the Ninth International Ballet Competition in Paris. In June 2001, Fang won First Prize in the Junior Division of the Helsinki International Ballet Competition. Most recently, she won first place in the Junior Division of the Shanghai International Ballet Competition.

In April 2003, Fang joined the main Company as an apprentice and, in January 2004, became a member of the corps de ballet. Her roles with the Company include Aya in La Bayadère, Twig in Cinderella, Prayer in Coppélia, Zulma in Giselle, Nanny and the Sugar Plum Fairy in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Rosaline’s Friend in Romeo and Juliet, the Fairy of Joy in The Sleeping Beauty, the Hungarian Princess and Lead Czardas in Swan Lake, the Prelude in Les Sylphides, Ceres inSylvia and roles in Black Tuesday, Continuo, Kaleidoscope, Sinfonietta and Symphonic Variations. She created a leading role in Pretty Good Year.


From our Grand Poobah | SOLITUDE


SOLITUDE. Deep winter up here in the Catskills – there’s a foot of snow on the ground and the sky is pale grey except around 530 when it slowly breaks into bright orange and pink to the west. Lots of icicles hanging from the eaves and tomorrow night it’s predicted to be 11 below – you get the picture. It’s cold. It’s funny, for a native Californian, I’ve really come to love winter in the Northeast. Don’t get me wrong, I love Southern California and miss it all the time – but, I also have come to love the dramatic seasons and the gifts that each one brings. Sometimes I struggle with the feeling of being trapped indoors – but it’s a rich time, too. A time for introspection, taking stock, planning for the burst of energy to come in just a month or so. And, in its own right, to be still with the quiet of the woods – to turn inward. Our theme this month is SOLITUDE, in honor of this time. I read something recently that said, for people living in places where the climate changes a lot over the course of year, that winter is when you really learn what a place is made of. it reveals the bones underneath a place – I know I learn about myself in the winter – my less-showy parts, perhaps, come to light.

I’m looking forward to the 22nd when we gather to celebrate SOLITUDE – already the line-up of performers and artists is inspiring me to go deeper into this time of year.


Polly Law | Featured Artist


Our featured artist for this month’s service – SOLITUDE, Feb 22nd – is Polly Law, a wonderful artist whom Bobby and I met when we moved to Woodstock. Her specified medium is bricolage – even the word itself I find thrilling. We’ve never presented a bricoleur before, or would it be bricoleuse? Either way, I’m thrilled she’s taking part. Here’s a statement she’s put together about her work:

My work is paper dolls with deep personal issues. I use humble materials- illustration board, acrylic paint, buttons, wire to achieve elegant and sophisticated effects. I manipulate the forms and employ pattern, rich color and gesture to explore myths of deep time and current self.
The female figure is my usual vehicle for expression. The figures themselves are inwardly-focused though their gaze may be disconcertingly direct. Often they chafe at the constraints of mode but who does not also wish for the rustle of silk in their life? The figures stand proud of the backgrounds to achieve a flat/3D effect- turning the frame into a proscenium. Each piece a small theatre for private dramas. My work has been favorably compared to that of Joseph Cornell but in fact has been more influenced by the animation work of Jan Svankmajer, and the luscious patterns, textures and graphic forms of Eyvind Earle.

The “Rude Mechanicals” explore the intersection of bodily desire and emotionless technology. The period appears to be La Belle Epoque, but the sense of our deepest selves being taken over by the machine is very contemporary. The gears and mechanisms of desire grind slowly but very fine.

The “Esopus Mystics”series is inspired by and uses bits of the natural landscape in the Hudson Valley of New York. Unseen forces live and move in the corners, in the quiet glades, in the niches while we blunder and crash along in our fog of unknowing.

“What the Tide Brings” explores the kingdom between the water and the land and the gifts it provides those who visit. The bits of sea wrack, shells & bones were found on the beaches and tidal flats of Cape Cod during meditative walks.

My work is usually of an intimate scale but for the “Secret City,” I am working to a life-sized scale and without a frame. The mood of introversion and solitude remains the same.

I have been working in my bricolage style since 2000. My work is represented by galleries in Provincetown, MA, Rhinebeck, NY, and Hudson, NY; as well as numerous private collections.

1 2