Just as the controversy over PEN America’s award to Charlie Hebdo recedes into the distance a new issue has erupted over at AWP concerning the placement of Vanessa Place on a subcommittee. A petition at opens:

“We find it inappropriate that Vanessa Place is among those who will decide which panels will take place at AWP Los Angeles. We acknowledge Place’s right to exercise her creativity, but we find her work to be, at best, startlingly racially insensitive, and, at worst, racist.”

It did not take long for AWP to agree to the demand:

More… “Vanessa Place Vs. AWP, Woody Allen, and more”

Richard Abowitz is the editor of The Smart Set. Get in touch at


I’d like to dedicate this very special Valentine’s song to my mother, he tells the audience. Her favorite composer is Frederic Chopin. I’d like to play this, he says, for all the mothers here, and all the mothers tuned in at home.


He’s dressed as a man should be dressed on Valentine’s Day, if the man is playing piano for his mother, and is Liberace: red bow tie, red vest and slacks, black jacket studded with rhinestones, ruffled shirt. Behind him, the signature candelabra on the piano, a prop idea he got from an old movie about Chopin. He takes a seat at the piano, and in his liquid way, draws a melody up out of the keys. He begins with Chopin as promised, but it’s no jumpy polonaise, no mincing waltz. Liberace starts with “Étude Op. 10,… More…