Nine years ago, I answered an ad on Craigslist and was hired by artist Jana Leo de Blas. Jana was a tiny woman of indeterminable age with a dandelion puff of hair. I arrived at her bright, high-ceilinged studio in the old I.S.C.P. building in midtown Manhattan; she had built a platform in the middle of the room. I climbed the few steps, settled at the desk with my laptop and coffee and tried to remember some poetry to quote in case I choked. That morning was the start of a weekend of open studios, but Jana wanted to be sure we didn’t limit ourselves to visiting art fans, so [...]
I moved to New York City, and I needed to make money. I wasn’t having luck getting a job. It's a common tale.
My solution was to grab my typewriter that I bought at a yard sale for 10 dollars and bring it to a park. I’d write stories for people, on the spot—I wouldn’t set a price. People could pay me whatever they wanted. I knew that I had the gift of writing creatively, very quickly, and my anachronistic typewriter (and explanatory sign) would be enough to catch the eye of passersby. Someone might want something specific; they might just want a story straight from my imagination. I [...]
Pretty genius. In association with the exhibition at the New Museum, they've installed 5000 New York City pay phones with recorded messages about what was happening around you in 1993. Find a phone, call (855) FOR-1993, and suddenly Robin Byrd and James St. James (girrrlll!) are telling you about the good times.