From the PEN Archive: Salman Rushdie and Writers on the Selfie, Fatwa, Freedom of Expression and More.

Writers, Orhan Pamuk, Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie taking selfies, pre-iPhone with Pamuk’s new camera. PEN World Voices, Cooper Union, New York City, 2007.

Selfies before the iPhone with Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk and Margaret Atwood, Cooper Union, NYC, 2007.
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My Buddy, Everett Quinton

Everett Quinton, 71, was a downtown/uptown theater icon, unofficial mayor of the Greenwich Village and one of my dearest friends for more than 35 years. He died from glioblastoma on Monday, January 23.

Everett Quinton left, Corcoran right, Greenwich Village, NYC 2022

When I first came to New York and heard about him, and his partner, Charles Ludlum, of Ridiculous Theater fame, I was terrified. Men in drag, performing in basement theaters for predominantly gay audiences. As a closeted gay man, there was nothing more threatening.

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Is The Women’s Hijab Iran’s Berlin Wall?

We were traveling in Iran, 2014. We were in the designated world heritage’s Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Esfahan. I met a group of young travelers. As you can see from this short video, it was a robust and ebullient group. Suddenly a woman shrouded in black, with her four male colleagues, tapped on one of the woman’s shoulder instructing her to correct her headscarf. She had too much hair exposed. In less than three seconds the woman shut down from an urbane cosmopolitan to a mix of shame, frustration, rage, resignation and protective humor.

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Sanitation Entrepreneur Takes on War and Climate

Last fall we had the pleasure of speaking with entrepreneur Bara Wahbeh, Co-founder and CTO of Akyas Sanitation, from his home in Amman, Jordan.

Bara Wahbeh on the urgent need for sanitation

Wahbeh, with his team of four, created a sustainable toilet system after Wahbeh worked in Izmir, Turkey. For many months he witnessed thousands of displaced Syrian people live in make-shift camps around the city. With no access to food, healthcare, education or work opportunities, he witnessed thousands spiral into unimaginable poverty. To hear his inspired story, please watch the origin story below.

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Link Ensemble Wows the Wedding Crowd

Full disclosure, the Link Ensemble Vocalist, Madeline Jentsch, is my niece. But we still wholeheartedly endorse and recommend these wildly talented artists. Rounding out the trio are Madeline’s life partner, Phillip Goist, Cello, and his identical twin brother, David Goist, Violin.

They are alumni of the prestigious and rigorous, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, (CCM), undergraduate and graduate programs.

During the pandemic when orchestras and opera houses shuttered their doors, these talented entrepreneurs took matters into their own hands and started performing online at churches, weddings, holiday parties, whatever the occasion, they were game. Now that they can perform live, and are on the road again, they have become so popular they are booking events almost two years from now. We got lucky and captured this song on our phone at Madeline’s brother, Max’s, wedding to his wife, Maggie.

To learn more, check out The Link Ensemble.

The Genius of New York City

Or how to change your bad mood by celebrating the creativity of your fellow NYC travelers.

Moussa, Columbus Circle, New York City

It was that type of morning.

The meditation, coffee and two-three mile run wasn’t working.

The existential dread of work, life, city, was still there.

Until.

Crossing the street in a sea of black town cars ferrying the fancy from the east side to the west side, and vice versa, there in his #pedicab splendor, is Moussa, from #Senegal.

The morning dread evaporates as we laugh with each other.

#newyorkcity#newyork

Afghan Chronicles: Day Five, A School Gets A Library

Today was one of the days of shooting that will go down as one of one of the most fulfilling days of not only shooting, but most fulfilling days, period. When working on a project, there is a process.

First, it’s the idea, something is here, a story, I am not sure what it is, but I can’t stop thinking about it, and I begin to shoot. Then the doubt sets in, what am I doing? Am I wasting my time and everyone else’s? And then there is the inevitable magic moment, and it always happens, where it all clicks. The hard work pays off and the moment arrives where you think, there is no other place or task that I would rather be doing than what I am doing at this moment. It is a moment of grace and flow, and when it happens, I feel extremely grateful. It motivates me when I am not feeling the “flow.” The memory and pursuit of these moments get me out of bed in the morning.

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