Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Be The Death of Me, Part IV

This is our fourth and final episode of our Let Me Ascertain You: Be The Death of Me Series. These interviews are part of an ongoing investigation about death, dying and whatever comes after that. We talked to more than a hundred people so far, and many of these conversations centered on how we remember and how we memorialize those that we’ve lost. Maybe you’ve passed an entirely white bike chained up somewhere and wondered what it was. And maybe you guessed that it’s a memorial for a cyclist killed in that location. We talked to Jessie, one of the people who makes these public memorials. She’s one of the co-founders of the New York City Ghost Bike Project, performed here by actor Megan Stern. Jessie connected us to Lizi, a mother whose son was killed on his bike in Queens, performed by Indika Senanayake. And as our final piece in this series about endings, we have an actor performing an interview we did with another actor. To close, Brad Heberlee plays Everett. Interviews for this podcast were conducted by Elsa Carrette, Ian Daniel, and Leonie Ettinger. To get the latest about our next topic, be sure to subscribe!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Be The Death of Me, Part III

Here’s episode three in our new podcast series Let Me Ascertain You: Be The Death of Me. What you’ll hear are excerpts from a larger ongoing project about life, death, and whatever happens after that. As part of this investigation, our team spoke to those who work every day in matters of life and death — people who spend their days in the places that witness the demise of our bodies. We’ve put three of those stories together for this episode. To kick things off, here’s actor Peter Friedman performing a man named Leonard: he’s a doctor of internal medicine. Then Danielle Davenport performs an interview we did with Sara, a child life specialist in the general pediatric unit at NYU Hospital. Keith Randolph Smith closes out this episode with his performance of Rocky, who is the co-founder of The Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps, which it turns out is the nation’s first minority-run volunteer ambulance corps. Since 1988 the Bed-Stuy ambulance corps greatly improved emergency care in the Bed-Stuy community and to this day it continues to train young people and adults in life-saving skills. The interviews for this podcast were conducted by Micharne Cloughley, Dan Domingues and Meridith Friedman.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

INSIDE LOOK: Holy Matrimony

Fall might mean Pumpkin Spice Season in America, but at The Civilians, it’s been Wedding Fever. In celebration of the defeat of DOMA in the Supreme Court, we launched a full investigation into the many ways we marry in America. We culminate this celebration next Tuesday, November 12th, at Joe’s Pub, with a special Weddings edition of the Civilians’ popular Cabaret, “Let Me Ascertain You,” an evening of original songs and interviews about real (crazy) weddings we’re calling “Holy Matrimony”. Get Tickets HERE.

We’ve gathered interviews from all over our great country for glimpses of American Weddings, from a Vegas Wedding Chapel to a Catholic Church in Jersey, from a Courthouse in Louisiana to a Taco Bell in Normal, Illinois. We’ve got the profound to the profane, something borrowed, something blue, and everything in between. One of our featured couples, Stephen Mosher and Pat Dwyer, are the subject of a documentary called “Married and Counting”. You can check out their blog HERE.

As a special treat we’re sharing some of our favorite quotes from interviews that ended up on the cutting room floor, and some factoids about weddings in America from our research. Pour yourself a glass of Champagne (or imitation Champagne-style wine) and enjoy!

“And she didn’t wanna be no white virgin bride. So she gone and had this dress made, this wedding dress made out of a kind of a peachy-orange? This big-ass orange-y dress. She had jewels all sewed on it and stuff. And we called it ‘The Great Pumpkin Dress’, ‘cause that’s what she looked like in that shit… And so the ceremony was getting ready to start, and they were playing the music, and e’rrybody was gettin’ lined up on the stairs outside the church, and I seen a tuxedo goin’ down the street! And I’m like, ‘who the hell is that leavin’ now?’ So by that time, he had got down to Plymouth Avenue, where he got ready to turn the corner, I could see who it was, and it was Charles! The groom! So I said, ‘Hellll no!’”
    --Pookie from Minneapolis, on her sister getting stood up at the altar

“So I tell the cab driver, ‘I’m very sorry, I have to change right here in the car.’ He was like ‘I will try to avert my eyes, I will change the rearview mirror so I will not look at you, I will not see your nakedness.’ And I was like, ‘Thanks.’ So as soon as he like takes the rearview mirror and like turns it, I start racing to get my wedding dress on and I’m like completely,100% naked trying to put on these tight little spanx. And he’s weaving through traffic and he gets to a dead end and he kind of starts to panic and he goes to reverse out of this random driveway that he went into, and he looks back and he forgets and I’m just like, ‘Aaahh!’ and he’s like, ‘Oh! I’m so sorry I broke my promise to you!’ And I’m just like, ‘It’s fine it’s fine, seriously this is like the least of my problems right now, whatever,’ and to like make light of it I was like, (flirty) ‘Well I’m not married yet...’ and that just made it like super awkward and he was quiet the whole time.”
     --Natalie from Seattle, on being late to her own wedding and having to change in the cab

“So at this other table, they’re like the skankiest looking group of people you’ve ever seen, like – You know when you think of like, ‘What does a Russian whore look like?’  That’s what was at that table, like – Totally in their tight outfits and the really bad bleached hair, and the guys who were with them were literally like, they, they had like tattoos that were literally like anchors, like old-school, like ‘SAILORS ON LEAVE.’  And so anyway music starts playing like they’re singing, and they’re all singing in Russian, like, bad American pop songs in Russian.  So we’re all dancing to like ‘Eye of the Tiger’ in Russian, at our wedding, it’s really classy, and so my dad gets up and he’s dancing and then the sailors and the whores. So like everybody’s having a really great time, we’re all doing great but like we’re all eating the same meal, which is a course, and then booze.  And then a course, and then booze.   And all of my Jewish in-laws are like, ‘No, can we have some seltzer?  We’re really, we don’t need any more vodka, we’re fine,’ and meanwhile my family, the Irish Catholics, are like, This place is GENIUS!’  They’re completely wasted.”
     --Kittson from NYC, on her Brighton Beach Nightclub Wedding

A Few Fun Wedding Factoids:

-- According to there are nearly 3,000 couples planning on getting married next Tuesday, November 12, 2013. That's 4 times the typical Tuesday in November!

--The average cost of a wedding in 2012 was $28,427. Manhattan couples spent the most money, with an average wedding in New York costing $76,678 average. The cheapest place was Alaska, where the average wedding cost $15,504 last year. Brides spent an average of $1,211 on their wedding dress, while grooms only had to shell out about $230 for their tuxes.

--The U.S. marriage rate is 31.1, or 31 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women, the lowest in the past century. That means for every 1,000 unmarried women in the U.S., 31 of those previously single women tied the knot in the last year. For comparison, in 1920, the national marriage rate was 92.3.

--New York City (Manhattan and Outer Boroughs) has the oldest brides (32 years), whereas West Texas has the youngest brides (24 years), on average.

--Brides in Ohio, Kansas and Minnesota are the most likely to register for wedding gifts.

--142: The number of days in 2008 that gay marriage was legal in California before voters banned it with Proposition 8. About 18,000: The number of gay couples that married in California during the 142-day-window when it was legal.