Tycho Brahe’s Noses

So I’ve been catching up on a few things that fell by the wayside during the run of “4 Noses.” Yesterday I got a check-up with my doctor, and was telling her a little bit about the show.

"Oh my goodness, that’s so funny because my nine year old is obsessed with this guy who had four noses - Tyco B____… I’ll have to ask her. He lost his nose in a duel or something. Apparently he had gold, silver, brass noses - each for different occasions. She’s been doing all this research and a report for school."


I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this guy! Sure enough I googled ‘Tyco four noses,’ and there he was: Tycho Ottesen Brahe, Danish, 1546 - 1601; "The first competent mind in modern astronomy to feel ardently the passion for exact empirical facts." (Exactly what I struggle with in the play!)

Apparently, he lost the bridge of his nose in a duel with a third cousin over a mathematical formula. Since neither could prove they were right, the duel was to settle it. Tycho lost his nose. He made up with the cousin a few weeks later, but from then on wore prosthetics attached with paste or glue.

The facts about his death are a little inconclusive. Mercury poisoning seemed likely from all the metal noses. Then there was some suspicion of foul play. But there was also an excruciating kidney incident shortly before he died: Banquet, Prague, no polite way to excuse himself to pee, Uremia.

After Danish Scientists exhumed him from his tomb in Prague and did more tests, (2012) they ruled out murder and mercury. Tycho Brahe died from a burst bladder. Exact. Empirical. Ow.

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I’m Trepid Joseph

My mother’s poems still surprise me, I am finding her very essence in them.

Today, it’s “Each Joseph:”

Each Joseph

Intrepid Joseph, far from home, hated by

brothers who had cast him in a pit, taken

his coat of many colors, sold him into slavery –

this youngest brother still refused to hate.

Perhaps we too, with spiritual certainty, can learn

to trust in God’s design, deliverance, and love. Our

Father’s grace will keep grim moments and uncharted

journeys free, revealing sure and tender ways He

speaks to everyone and leads us safely home….

Darren Stone

Late into our first fall together, the white space around her poems started bothering her. She would cut and cut and cut to within millimeters of the edge of each stanza. She would pull pages out of books of others’ poetry, even her beloved hymnal, and then slowly trim them down. One day she even started ripping the photos and remembrances out of her wedding album before we could protest.

This was just one of our devastating “new normals.” Why would mom destroy those pictures, that beautiful handbound book? The hymnal that was her comfort?

I wondered, as I did during much of her descent: “What is it that she sees? What is it that she needs?”

Maybe it was that she wasn’t able to create anew. But “editing” was something she could still do, - the actual physical changing of the space and words a literal way to satisfy.

We joined her. Chopping poems, re-typing and re-printing ones that upset her. Changing words that no longer felt right to her. I started printing her poems on colored paper, thinking the margins wouldn’t be so shocking, that the colors would make the work feel new and exciting.

Yesterday I found the carefully cut, pasted, cut-some-more, scotch-taped, amended, and stickered “Each Joseph.” She’d even colored in the bits of white sky that peeped through the purple on the bit of postcard she’d collaged in.

Of course she’d added: “Please return this if it doesn’t appeal.” (Ever prepared for rejection)  


But I hadn’t noticed her addition at the top until today:

"I’m trepid Joseph, Far from home."

Only my mother, my beautiful demented mother would have come up with that. Still trying to find her way home, still playing with the words she lived for.



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Happy New Year

So, you do look back. You can’t help it. It’s been two years since mom died. So much has happened, is happening, but in the reckoning moments, there is still, sadness.
I know it’s cliche - in the thick of it you don’t think you’ll survive and you’re wishing for it to end… and then it ends and you are completely unprepared. Every crisis that led you to think you were ready. All your bravado and swagger. Gone. You are an orphan.

I’ve been scanning some old photos today. More in awe than ever at the person my mom was. Her humor sneaks through in the crazy little notes she’d write.

Her searching nature is there in her eyes.

Her life was complicated. I know she suffered in many ways. But she was an incredible mom. She and my dad were able to instill a very powerful sense of self, and possibility in my brothers and me. That is everything.

So, looking back over the year, over the years and years…I am just beginning to understand my inheritance. I am rich beyond words.

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Baby it’s gonna be COLD in Minneapolis

We leave for Minneapolis in the morning. So incredibly psyched to perform at the Guthrie Theater next Monday and Tuesday! I mean, what an honor….

And I’m ready, don’t get me wrong. I can’t wait to do the show! TICKETS HERE!!!! I’m chomping at the bit. But I’m a little intimidated by 10 degrees below ZERO.

I have crappy circulation at best. My fingers and toes are cold in August in New York. So I”ve been practising in the living room. Getting ready for the change. I will admit, the mittens are not cutting it. I’m gonna move on to the fingerless gloves.

Meanwhile, we’re almost done with art for the record.

We’re full steam ahead with the plans for The Duke on 42nd Street!! We open February 20th. Tickets should be on sale very very soon. Oh MY. 42nd STREET! Well, Spider man is closing January 4th. So they really needed a breath of fresh air next door!!!

See you at the Guthrie. Stay tuned for New York news. And… stay WARM.


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Apple Pledge Fun

Benji Rogers (of Pledge Music) and I had a really great talk at the apple soho store last night. Fans, DUH, are our future. more at jonatha

Woody Guthrie Medallion Ceremony

Yesterday, we honored Woody Guthrie, and one of the places he lived in New York City.. I was thrilled to be invited by Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, -


Chair of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center. (WOW! Look her up, she’s had an incredible history!!)

There were some Guthrie’s there. Some Guthrie lovers, some passersby, and the unmistakable sounds, and smells of New York City, as we unveiled the new medallion commemorating his time at 74 Charles street.

His daughter Nora was there to confirm that this was a romantic time for him… she hinted at the fact that although, of course there was a whole lotta singin’going on, there was also a whole lotta lovin’ going on in that fifth floor walk-up.

Woody lived there from 1942 to 1943. The rent was 27 dollars, and he was just falling in love with one of the original Martha Graham Dancers - Marjorie Mazia - Nora’s mom.

One of the stories Nora told me when I first visited the archives was about her parents’ courtship. She told me the real clincher was the first night they truly spent “together.” He was smart enough to just hold her hand, to listen, to bring her some of his “scattered pages” and “whisper.”

I think of this every time I sing “Sweetest Angel.” It’s a hybrid of three separate pieces I found scattered through the folders of his stuff. But I like to think that it was there, at 74 Charles Street, that he conjured the poetry for what would become this lullaby.

It certainly got Marjorie’s attention. And now it is his great grand-daughter Kaylee’s nighty night song.

What an honor to be the vehicle for his magic.

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WOODY GUTHRIE Medallion Ceremony
Music for Dressage

After Fringe Fest, Dar Williams, Eric Bazilian (“What if God Was One of Us?”) and Rob Hyman (“Time After Time”) -Oh Yeah, and they ARE the HOOTERS…. got together to rehearse for a WXPN special donor event.

Pam Carter had graciously bid on the four of us when WXPN auctioned us off as a high end concert foursome. WELL! What a great idea! I adore these people, and I adore there music, so we had a blast getting inside each others songs, finding new parts, preparing our hybrid show.

Pam has an inside dressage ring… her pony “China” just won the Nationals in her class in Kentucky, and got second all around, so we’re not talking minor leagues here.

Saturday, we got to play in China’s ring. Heaven. I forget how much I miss my pals until I get a chance to hang. We are all so busy, that these collaborative chances are rare. But what a reminder not to get isolated. Thank you Pam for bringing us together for this magical evening.

And, China, thanks for sharing your domain with us!!



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Philly. THANK YOU!

It was a crazy good night last night. Top ten!!

Thank you for the amazing response. Thank you for the deep listening.. the open eyes, ears, hearts - embracing this new hybrid venture of mine.

THANK YOU Philly! Thank you WXPN! Thank you Pam Carter! Thank you ALL!

There’s another song up on the Pledge Site for my beautiful pledgers - still helping to make this little dream a reality.

Did I say THANK YOU?



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Neuchatel Angels

Sometimes, no telling why, strangers become angels. more at jonatha