Catching up on Connolly’s Parker

Charlie Parker is the hero of John Connolly's "Every Dead Thing."

By Peter McDermott

Last week we asked some people in our artists and writers' community what they've been turning to culture-wise in this time of sheltering in place and we also wanted to know how their own work is progressing. Here are some more contributions.

Stephen Butler, who teaches at New York University, is the author of “Irish Writers in the Irish American Press, 1882-1964.” He grew up in Woodside, Queens, and lives with his family in Northern New Jersey.

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“Trying to figure out remote teaching, with four young children at home and a wife who is also teaching remotely, there hasn't been much time for pleasure-reading. But sometimes at night, half delirious with exhaustion, I do poke around ancestry.com trying to unravel the mystery of a great-uncle of my father named Matthew Butler, who we discovered was buried in Calvary. I've recently found some listings in a city directory that suggest he ran a saloon on Park Row during the 1890s in what was then the edge of The Five Points. So I have been reading Jacob Riis's book ‘How the Other Half Lives’ to gain some context on what life in that part of the city was like in those days. Not surprisingly, it was very rough for the Irish and other immigrant groups.”

Actor Maeve Price is an immigrant from County Dublin living in Queens.

“Super busy at work, the day job, during the current hibernation, and the days are blending faster than a Nutri Blast. If I do have a chance to read, it's playing catch up on the Charlie Parker series by the marvelous John Connolly. On Netflix, it's been the money laundering for drug cartel series ‘Ozark,’ followed by the luscious French Court of King Louis XIV in ‘Versailles.’ But something I would not normally do? Download video and chat apps to communicate with the world. My phone is definitely going to need therapy after this - must check CounselChat or TherapistFinder for help with that. As soon as this is over, ‘uninstall’ will be my new favorite word du jour. Honestly? No specific projects at the moment, but hoping to find a way back to some semblance of live performance in the near future. Singing ‘Vaghissima sembianza’ via Zoom just ain't cuttin' it.”

Dublin-born filmmaker Moira Tierney lives in Brooklyn

“I've been reading like mad, all sorts of stuff including ‘Island Beneath the Sea,” by Isabelle Allende (research for my next film); ‘Des Annees Mao aux Annees 80’ by Jean-luc Godard (great craic); “Whatever Happened to Interracial Love,” by filmmaker Kathleen Collins — lovely texts that read almost like film scripts or treatments; “Who’s Bugging You?” by Brendan Munnelly, (Mercier Press 1987 — fascinating stuff); ‘New Cartographies, Nomadic Methodologies’ - myself, Jack Hogan and Rachel Gallagher have a chapter in that one called ‘Contagion’ (we picked the title way back before Covid heaved into sight!) I've been mostly working on proposals for the next two projects, but I did get a bit editing done (see here). And I’ve also been drawing a tree that popped up right outside my window. It’s gone to full-flown arboreal since the lockdown started.”

Click here for Part 1. To be continued…