Sunday, December 21, 2008

Enter my contest! Rename Silent Night

On Thursday, InsideStoryTime presented "Humbuggery," an evening at San Francisco's Cafe Royale of stand-up comedy, writers reading, and live music. Pianist Gary Lutes and I performed the great Soviet composer Alfred Schnittke's Stille Nacht (Silent Night - 1978), which I had long thought of with an alternate title - "The Ghost of Christmas left with multiple stab wounds in a Soviet suburban parking garage." When Gary and I were through, I invited the audience to submit its own alternate titles, which you can see at the end of the video.

This was so much fun I'm putting the contest online. Just enter your alternate titles in the comments section of this blog, and the best one submitted by the end of the year wins a DVD of my film Apparition of the Eternal Church. Special prizes for all who enter! Email me at to redeem.

UPDATE - Congratulations to Martin Hoffman of Brooklyn, NY, for his winning entry "Slay Ride." Happy New Year to all - contestants, don't forget to email me for your runner-up prizes!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

2008, or, Things To Do When You're Stoned, Part I

I caught this sight the morning of the worst day of my year (yesterday).

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happy birthday Elliott Carter!

Today is the 100th birthday of Elliott Carter. This differs from yesterday's Messiaen Centenary in that Carter is still alive. I took advantage of this fact when I was a Juilliard student by going down to the Village and playing for him, with pianist Pedja Muzijevic, his elemental and formidable Duo. There was a band at the time called CARTER THE UNSTOPPABLE SEX MACHINE and of course when Helen Carter greeted us I remembered I hadn't peeled the sticker off my score. In any case, Carter loved us and I've just posted the performance (from my third-year Juilliard recital "An Evening of American Music," Nov. 30th, 1992, in Paul Hall, of all places):

PS - If you haven't voted yet, please consider doing so. I'm still losing. Badly. Think Sarah Palin in Berkeley.

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"Sexologist-violinist Paul Festa" at the Cafe Royale

Thursday, Dec. 18th, from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Cafe Royale in San Francisco, InsideStoryTime presents Humbuggery - a holiday reading/cabaret for the rest of us.

Billed, improbably, as a "sexologist-violinist," I'll show off the spectacularly pink and shiny new Nerve "The First Ten Years" anthology, read a new essay, and perform, with the lovely and talented Gary Lutes, Alfred Schnittke's "Stille Nacht," which is sort of like the ghost of Christmas dumped with multiple stab wounds in a suburban Soviet parking garage.

Thursday, Dec. 18th
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Cafe Royale
800 Post St. @ Leavenworth

PS - Speaking of Nerve, another of my essays is a candidate in an online contest. At the moment it is losing - not badly, but humiliatingly. We're talking Tom Tancredo/Mike Gravel territory. You don't have to register or even read the essays. Please save my career. Please vote.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

100 years of OM on earth and in heaven

While I don't believe in heaven, Jesus or Yaweh, I do believe that if I'm wrong, Messiaen is installed right up there with the best and fiercest angels.

If anyone wants to get me a Messiaen 100th birthday present, my wish list has one item on it.

Bon anniversaire, maitre!


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I am bound in pink vinyl

I'm pleased to report that an essay of mine is included in the new Nerve anthology "Nerve: The First Ten Years," just out from Chronicle Books and worthy of a space-age hooker's coffee table.

As my editor pointed out, it's a honor to be chosen - 49 essays, by Spalding Gray and Jonathan Lethem among others, made it into the book out of more than 5000 published on Nerve in the first ten years. My only regret is that the comments, so rich with praise and vitriol, couldn't have fit between the pink vinyl slipcased covers.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Juilliard Journal Messiaen / Apparition Q&A

I'd despaired of getting either of my alma maters to pay attention to my film when just in time for the Messiaen Centenary (Dec. 10th), the Juilliard alumni monthly - the Juilliard Journal - ran this Q&A.

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