Seven days with...George Dawes Green

Join the founder of the Moth storytelling series as he gawks at sexy cabaret and gathers new yarns. Here's where he'll be this week.


Photograph: Eric H. Brown


Thursday 10: Heretical Hanukkah party
When author George Dawes Green moved from St. Simons Island, Georgia, to New York City, his casual story parties moved with him. In 1997, he founded the Moth, a nonprofit organization that puts on a series of story slams, during which participants share bits and pieces of their lives in front of an audience. “Tell stories about your vulnerabilities, not about your greatest triumphs,” suggests Green. “People want to see your humanity.” After a few hours spent writing at Cafe Pedlar (17 Clinton St between E Houston and Stanton Sts, 212-253-2303), Green will head to a Heretical Hanukkah party (Gallery Bar, 120 Orchard St between Delancey and Rivington Sts, 212-529-2266; 7--9:30pm, free) thrown by the staff of Killing the Buddha (killingthebuddha.com), an online mag for people who are made anxious by churches, religious bookshops and typical expressions of spirituality. The night will feature readings by cofounder Peter Manseau and surprise guests. “A bunch of lousy Catholics and secular Jews are going to share some great stories, and try to drink enough to remember the prayers they should sing while lighting the menorah,” editor Nathan Schneider says, laughing. “They’re the kind of people you can drink Scotch with all night,” adds Green.

Friday 11: Bookworm tacos
“I believe the independent bookstore is the key to maintaining democracy,” says Green. Pick up a copy of Mary Gaitskill’s short-story collection Don’t Cry at St. Mark’s Bookshop (31 Third Ave at Stuyvesant St, 212-260-7853). Then, do some writing of your own (Green’s thriller Ravens was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2009) over some Mexican takeout; Green likes the carne asada tacos ($5) from the Snack Dragon Taco Shack (199 E 3rd St between Aves A and B, no phone).


Saturday 12: Sex Crimes Cabaret
Start with the Moroccan Benedict ($12) for brunch at Green’s favorite restaurant, Cafe Mogador (101 St. Marks Pl between First Ave and Ave A, No.1; 212-677-2226, cafemogador.com; brunch served Sat, Sun 9am--4pm). “Mogador has always been a mainstay,” says Green, who has frequented the East Village institution since the 1980s. Later, he plans to check out Sex Crimes Cabaret (WalkerSpace, 46 Walker St between Broadway and Church St; 212-941-8632, sexcrimescabaret.com; Thu 10--Sat 12 at 8pm, $20), a collection of sexy films and songs presented by L. Gabrielle Penabaz of the House of St. Eve. “She always hosts dangerous and darkly erotic soirees around the city,” Green says. “I’m sure this will be ravishing.”

Sunday 13: Cold Spring day trip
“Every few weeks, I get overwhelmed by the necessity to be surrounded by trees,” Green says. He’ll hop on Metro-North to take a 70-minute train ride to historic Cold Spring, New York (mta.info; see website for schedule, $5.46--$21), ogle the preserved Victorian houses and picnic in front of Our Lady Chapel (45 Market St at Lunn Terr, Cold Spring, NY; 845-265-5537), a restored church that was built in 1834. On his way to Grand Central, Green grabs a bottle of Philippe Pri champagne ($42) from wine shop Brix Wine Shop (649 E 9th St at Ave C, 212-777-0691) and snacks from the Grand Central Market (87 E 42nd St at Park Ave, grandcentralterminal.com), like Murray’s Cheese’s Drunken Goat ($16.99/lb) and a baguette by Corrado Bread & Pastry ($2.50).

Monday 14: The Moth StorySlam
Green says the Moth StorySlam (Southpaw, 125 5th Ave between St. Johns and Sterling Pls, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-230-0236, themoth.org; 8pm, $7) feels more like a concert than a reading. Instead of the usual polite clapping, the crowd screams when they dig a tale, and foot-stomping is par for the course. “There are great stories out there, but no one is given a chance to really tell them at New York cocktail parties,” says Green. This is your chance. Themes vary each week, and this evening’s focus is on gifts: Ten storytellers (names are chosen out of a hat, and the list is open to anyone prepared) will weave a five-minute narrative about an item they’ve received, relinquished or found. The audience is encouraged to bring an unwanted present to bequeath to the raconteurs.


Tuesday 15: The Moth at the Met
It’s a two-day Moth extravaganza. Tonight, the Moth spreads its wings in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St; 212-535-7710, metmuseum.org; 7:30pm, $30) for a fete of free beer and grand spoken-word sagas. “There’s something in our DNA that makes us respond to stories,” Green says. “It’s instant bonding.” This Moth Mainstage event is much bigger than the weekly slams, but there’s still a theme: This one revolves around two of the Met’s special exhibitions, “American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765--1915” and “Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans.” Author Jonathan Ames hosts the panel of storytellers—including This American Life’s Starlee Kine—who will talk about a family tombstone business, a Christmas adventure, an escape from a cult and more. Arrive at 6:30pm for the complimentary booze; the tales start spinning at 7:30pm.

Wednesday 16: American idols
Broadway stars Stephanie D’Abruzzo and Greta Lee, among others, will belt a medley of holiday songs during the monthly edition of Dream Role (92YTribeca, 200 Hudson St between Canal and Desbrosses Sts, 212-601-1000; 9pm, $10). “All the young Moth staffers and their actor and comedian friends love it,” says Green. Later, he’ll make his way to Mars Bar (25 E 1st St at Second Ave, 212-473-9842) for a Jack Daniels on the rocks ($5). “It’s an institution,” Green says of the dive. “Everything else closes, but Mars Bar? It lives on and on.”

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