Iggy Pop, David Byrne, and More Come Together with Bedtime Stories (For Grownups)

Many friends have expressed a sense of relief that their elder­ly par­ents passed before the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic hit, but I sure wish my step­fa­ther were here to wit­ness Iggy Pop cross­ing the rain­bow bridge with the heart­felt valen­tine to the late Trom­ba, the pooch with whom he shared the hap­pi­est moments of his life.

Iggy’s paean to his adopt­ed Mex­i­can street dog, who nev­er quite made the adjust­ment to the New York City canine lifestyle, would have made my stepfather’s grinchy, dog-soft heart grow three sizes, at least.

That lev­el of engage­ment would have pleased con­cep­tu­al artist Mau­r­izio Cat­te­lan, who launched Bed­time Sto­ries under the dig­i­tal aus­pices of New York City’s New Muse­um, ask­ing friends, fel­low artists, and favorite per­form­ers to con­tribute brief read­ings to foment a feel­ing of togeth­er­ness in these iso­lat­ed times.

It was left to each con­trib­u­tor whether to go with a favorite lit­er­ary pas­sage or words of their own. As Cat­te­lan told The New York Times:

It would have been quite depress­ing if all the invit­ed artists and con­trib­u­tors had cho­sen fairy tales and chil­dren sto­ries. We look to artists for their abil­i­ty to show us the unex­pect­ed so I am thank­ful to all the par­tic­i­pants for com­ing up with some gen­uine­ly weird stuff.

Thus­far, artist Ray­mond Pet­ti­bon’s smut­ty Bat­man rever­ie is as close as Bed­time Sto­ries comes to fairy­tale.

Which is to say not very close

Artist and musi­cian David Byrne (pic­tured here at age five) reads from “The Three Christs of Ypsi­lan­ti” by Mil­ton Rokeach. As part of its series of new dig­i­tal ini­tia­tives, the New Muse­um presents “Bed­time Sto­ries,” a project ini­ti­at­ed by the artist Mau­r­izio Cat­te­lan. Invit­ing friends and oth­er artists and per­form­ers he admires to keep us com­pa­ny, Cat­te­lan imag­ined “Bed­time Sto­ries” as a way of stay­ing togeth­er dur­ing these days of iso­la­tion. Read more at newmuseum.org. #New­Mu­se­umBed­timeSto­ries @davidbyrneofficial

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Musi­cian David Byrne picked an excerpt from The Three Christs of Ypsi­lan­ti by social psy­chol­o­gist Mil­ton Rokeach, who detailed the inter­ac­tions between three para­noid schiz­o­phren­ics, each of whom believed him­self the Son of God.

Artist Taci­ta Dean’s cut­ting from Thomas Hardy’s poem “An August Mid­night” speaks to an expe­ri­ence famil­iar to many who’ve been iso­lat­ing solo—an acute will­ing­ness to ele­vate ran­dom bugs to the sta­tus of com­pan­ion.

Rashid John­son’s choice, Amiri Baraka’s “Pref­ace to a 20 Vol­ume Sui­cide Note,” also feels very of the moment:

Late­ly, I’ve become accus­tomed to the way

The ground opens up and envelopes me

Each time I go out to walk the dog

Things have come to that.

Lis­ten to the New Museum’s Bed­time Sto­ries here. A new sto­ry will be added every day through the end of June, with a line­up that includes musi­cian Michael Stipe, archi­tect Maya Lin, and artists Takashi Muraka­mi and Jeff Koons.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Dol­ly Par­ton Will Read Bed­time Sto­ries to You Every Week

An Ani­mat­ed Mar­garet Atwood Explains How Sto­ries Change with Tech­nol­o­gy

1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free 

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Here lat­est project is an ani­ma­tion and a series of free down­load­able posters, encour­ag­ing cit­i­zens to wear masks in pub­lic and wear them prop­er­ly. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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