Parenting Adds Perspective

In my teens and twenties, and well into my thirties, I was pretty sure I would never be a father. At lot of us who toured for a living felt this way and, since I didn’t have a father for most of my childhood, I also had no image of what a father was. Now I have one son with a handlebar mustache and another with a giant red beard. I was deeply in … Read More

Learning from Acrobats

Dance Your Ass Off was the “gym” where I trained for my first acrobatic act, forty-five years ago. The owner of the infamous nightclub, Stu Goldberg, performed in circuses as a teenager and offered to train Wendy Parkman, Billy Kessler and me on the dance floor early Sunday mornings (most days, Stu was still counting money from the night before when we arrived). Over a decade later, I joined the Pickle Family Circus and … Read More

Talk to Jeff

For the last dozen years and counting, I’ve been taking what I know from a life on stage and using it to help folks in corporations grow their communication and leadership skills. In this year of the Water Rabbit, a year to focus on longevity, peace and prosperity, I’m going to go the other way, too, helping folks in the performing world grow their leadership, art, and business chops using skills learned in my … Read More

Healing Body and Mind

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but I happened to find a therapist and start Pilates about a year ago. These two additions to my schedule are helping me realize how I’ve adapted to old injuries, in body and in mind, instead of doing the work to find healthier, stronger, kinder ways of moving through the world. When my Pilates teacher pointed out that my left hip is weaker than my right, I said, … Read More

Love Death Circus Now In Print

In 2020, the depths of the pandemic, you received a chapter a week of my novel Love Death Circus. Some of you read a few chapters, some of you read more than a few and some of you read the whole book. If you enjoyed any part of it, I am thrilled. One of the main reasons I serialized the book that way was to feel connected to you in a time of deep … Read More

Painting with Paper

My mother was an artist who became allergic to her paints. Since not painting was not an option, she invented a way to paint with paper. Mickey had a waxer to lay out the feminist magazine she published so she waxed the back of sheets of colored construction paper. Then she’d slash the paper with an Exacto knife and sorted these “brush strokes” by color. Instead of pots of paint, her studio was covered … Read More

The Art of Dying

Driving home from a memorial for my friend Joan Schirle, I stopped to walk slowly through a small stand of Redwoods. The air was so still it let me feel. Now I’m getting the manuscript for Love Death Circus ready for the printer so I’m still grieving, both on the page and in real life. The other day I read on Facebook that a man I worked with for years died suddenly and two … Read More

51% comedy to 49% tragedy

My niece got married last week in a small park in Cambridge. It was the now common COVID story of a year-long wait from their original date and they used the extra time well – a friend grew the flowers that festooned their home-made chuppah, the COVID precautions were strong and clear, the food was fantastic and they carefully choreographed an “egalitarian, anti-misogynistic ceremony” including two smashed glasses, one under the groom’s foot and … Read More

Art Strengthens Civic Culture As Well As Individuals

This year, the German government will spend 2.4 billion dollars on the arts. The Ministry of Culture wants to “open spaces for discourse” and strengthen their “valuable culture of democracy.” This morning, on my Medicare birthday, I’m thinking about all the spaces that my 50 years as an artist have opened up for me, how being an artist has supported my mental, emotional and physical health as well as, at times, strengthened our civic … Read More

Advice For Life From Artists

The New York Times asked 40 artists to give some advice to other artists. Some of the quotes resonated deeply with me… “…seek out a mentor: someone who supports you and wants you to achieve your own voice and vision…” Garret Hongo For me it’s been mentors, plural. “…connect with your local community or history and critically examine your own location or dislocation within the country. This will inform what, how and why you … Read More

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