This past Tuesday was one of those rare New York City nights I dream about. I hopped the A train to the The Half King pub at 23rd Street & 10thAve where they held the 4th anual “Pen, Paper & Palate
A Celebration of Irish, French and American Writing.” Held In partnership with the Irish Arts Center .
Frank Delaney, author, BBC host and Booker Prize judge, moderated on the topic “Autobiography and Memoir” with an fantastic panel, including Sebastian Junger, Edmund White, Rose Styron, Kati Marton & Andrew McCarthy(Yes, the iconic 80’s film actor & author of the recently released “The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down”).  The night was Curated by Ruda Beresford Dauphin.
I’m a documentary filmmaker, so I’m never without an autobiography or memoir in my bag.  The conversation was insightful and fun and Frank Delaney kept everyone laughing.
Afterward I had the chance to tell Andrew McCarthy how much his acting work in films like “The Breakfast Club”, “Pretty In Pink” & “Less Than Zero” meant to me. This memoir of his looks like a really good read.
Sometime the best Autobiography’s are from the most unexpected people.  I spoke with Frank Delaney and when I told him one of my favorite’s of this genre was “The Rag Man’s Son” by Kirk Douglas he light up.  “I interviewed Kirk a few weeks ago and I told him the same thing!”  We both agreed that it’s a seminal memoir.  In it Kirk says that “everyone should write there autobiography, even if they never show anyone”  I like that idea.
Traveling home that night I decided to get off one subway stop too soon in order to enjoy the rare warm December weather.  As I walked past City Winery on Hudson Street I looked in the window and spotted Paul Simon with a guitar in his hand just taking the stage.  Somehow I was allowed in the front door (having a camera around your neck makes people think you belong there). My timing was on as Paul Simon (along with Bobby McFerrin on vocals (!) and Esperanza Spalding on bass (!)) started to sing:
    Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
    Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
    Remember me to one who lives there,
    For once she was a true love of mine.
I closed my eyes so no one working at the club would make eye contact and kick me out.  When I opened them, just as the song ended and just short of tears, a doorman approached and started to speak.  I thanked him and headed out the front door.
What a night! Thank you New York.
The City Winery show was a beneifit “meant to shine a light on the issue of slavery and highlight Free the Slaves’ work ending slavery around the world,”  according to Sarah Gardner of Free the Slaves.
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