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Happy Halloween! Tonight the good people at 313 Clinton Avenue put on their yearly Halloween show, and it may have been their best ever! The theme this year was “Carnival of Carnage.” As always the production value was top notch. The folks working on the show include some past and present theater folk from the Great White Way who know their way around sound and light equipment. They also know how to edit your favorite Disney songs to give them Brooklyn specific lyrics over the familiar music. Most of the ghouls and monsters in this year’s show crawled out of the ooze of the Gowanus canal, including the mermaid in the picture above, tapping her way into the hearts of the many children in the audience who were enchanted by the spectacle. (It seemed like half the audience was under three years old.)
We here at CC were intrigued by the Jazz Aged themed parties called “Wit’s End“, so we decided to talk to their hostess to find out more.
CC: Hi Diane! I guess my first question is, where are you from, if not from NYC? Why did you move here, what do you do for work, if that isn’t planning these events? What got you into this style of dress / music / literature? Who is your favorite artist in those genres / periods? What are your other interests? For example, are you into Steam Punk, Victorian Gothic, or 40s swing?; alternatively, do you like macs and cheese, Big Macs, macrobiotic vegan fare? Macrame, textiles, rough spun yarn or spandex? Are you also active in theater or music?
Diane N: I’m actually from the Midwest- Cincinnati, Ohio! I went to fashion school there, and the University of Cincinnati has a cooperative education program where you take six paid internships in your field while you’re in school- so I got to live here in NYC, Seattle, and LA while I was getting my degree…so if you look at it that way, I’ve lived here off and on since 2000- but permanently for the last 4+ years. I’m an accessory designer by day- I actually do all of the kids accessories for OshKosh B’gosh!
Last night the lovely Ms. Cybil Lake threw a fundraiser to raise funds for the production of her movie “The Gun Virgins” at Gallery Bar. She screened a video from her reality show “The Cybil Lake Show” and served free drinks courtesy of Krol vodka and Caballo Negro wine.
By the end of June people who can afford it have left town for two months, or at least every weekend. The moneyed leisure class get tans, sit on the dock or the deck drinking champagne, and contemplate early retirement. The rest of us wander the streets between July 4th and Labor Day looking for a party on or off a rooftop, cruising the nearly empty streets and braving the inevitable spike in violent crime. The unmoneyed leisure class (a.k.a. the unemployed) have plenty of time for idleness, and idle hands are indeed the devil’s weekend in the Hamptons.
John Hodgman was performing a comedy show last night at Union Hall in Park Slope. I didn’t know that, so the giddy joy I felt as I told my companion PC was standing in front of us at the door was genuine. I thought perhaps that he was just there to soak up the hipster vibe like the rest of us. It turned out he was amplifying the hipster vibe, by a factor of ten at least.
Last Thursday some of the Propeller company’s all-male cast sat down with the audience to discuss their production of William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.
The last time I saw the Propeller company was two years ago when they did Midsummer Night’s Dream and Taming of the Shrew in repertory at BAM. The Taming production highlighted the text’s sexual violence by by playing on LGBT domestic violence issues. Petruchio as an abusive boyfriend just seems scarier when it’s a big, butch, swaggering cowpoke beating up on a skinny, emo boy. Or maybe they were reading too much into a cute, human story of a man teaching his new wife to be respectful. Either way, it was powerful — that is to say good theater — and good theater is always interesting.
The 5th of May is a lot of things to a lot of people. You couldn’t turn on the radio or open up a web browser yesterday without someone telling you that the 5th of May is the day Karl Marx was born, the day Cy Young threw the first perfect game in modern baseball, the Day that Kublai Khan became the ruler of the Mongol empire, and the day that Coco Chanel debuted Chanel No. 5. It also happens to be the day that Mexican troops led by Ignacio Zaragoza repulsed repeated attacks by French troops under Charles de Lorencez at the Battle of Puebla. This is the occasion celebrated as “Cinco de Mayo.”
By J.D. Oxblood
Through friends of friends I got on the guest list and passed by to check out the hubbub, bub. M2 is one of those Chelsea monstrosities that is everything you would expect—a long frickin’ walk from the subway, an enormous, cavernous room cut up by gargantuan furniture pieces guaranteeing that movement becomes impossible when the joint gets crowded and that no proper dance floor will ever erupt, grotesque hanging structures (in this case, faux-mirror balls constructed by crystals hung in sequence by 50-pound test) designed to remind you of the vertigo-inspiring height of the ceilings (nothing declares opulence in NYC like wasted space), louder than necessary, and a fantastic, state-of-the art lighting setup that is completely underused, like your grandma buying a Hummer and never taking it out of the driveway.
Don’t get any funny ideas from the title of this post. When I say I spent Saturday night on Murray Hill, don’t think I was drinking at the Rodeo Bar.
I was the special guest of legendary Murray Hill for “This is Burlesque” at Corio. “That’s impossible!” I hear you say. “You’re just an anonymous blogger whose idea of a good time on Saturday night is to get stress management counseling at the Bay Ridge Community Service Center.” Yes, that may be true. But thanks to Twitter, I made a new friend, and he made my night.
Each and every one of the women who performed are stars and gave standout performances. But natural talent only goes so far. Ms. Weldon not only knows how to pick them, she also knows how to train them.
Yay! Obama announced a plan to invest $8 billion in high speed and existing rail projects! This is a welcome change from the plan of the past administration to strangle Amtrak and throw it in a tub to drown it. Build it, and they will come. Please lord, let the economically stimulating effect of mass transit in New York City show the Feds and the villains in the New York State senate that mass transit is a priority, not a privilege.
Some lady was yelling at the camera people, “What is this? Law and Order? Law and Order? It’s always Law and Order!”
I’m not sure what this dude is selling. He stands on the little peninsula of pavement where Broadway bifurcates downtown. But there he/she is, every day, in the freezing cold or boiling heat, not selling or soliciting, just hanging out with his little panda painted trash pail (pictured at bottom left).
“Come on, let’s go downtown, Trixie and the Monkey are performing at the Slipper Room.”
“No, no… I’m drunk, I don’t have a notebook with me, I don’t have my camera—“
“Let’s just go see the show!”
“Ok, fine, but I’m not working!”
Famous last words. Hear me, O children, as I say verily unto you, once one has started down the path of wickedness, there is, truly, no turning back. And truly, once one has committed oneself to the recording of said wickedness, merely being wicked will never again suffice. Which is a long-winded way of saying, I went to the Slipper Room and totally blew my cover. It had been so long… I was just so HAPPY to be back in a burlesque venue, and the show was so show-stoppingly amusing, and I so show-stoppingly inebriated, that I just couldn’t HELP myself from talking to the performers and generally making a total ass of myself.
This was taken last week downtown. Where is the New Depression is headed?!
I kind of forgot how bad the bad old days of the late 80s / early 90s were until the DJIA hit 7750 and the unbroken chilly gloom of February made pedestrians look like frosty denizens of an Edward Hopper painting. Then I went for a walk in Battery Park and saw the Postive Brothers doing their show, and I remembered how good it was to see guys performing acrobatics in the old fountain at Washington Square Park, telling me my monetary contribution was keeping my home safe from burglary later that night.
The show is much the same as it was back then: witty chatter, tension-diffusing racial jokes, break dancing, and some crazy acrobatics, usually concluded with a spectacular leap over the heads of six or seven terrified audince members. But these guys make it new every time with their good humor and positive vibes. If you’re feeling down with the market, unemployment, and empty pockets, go down to Battery Park on a sunny day and check out their show. Throw a dollar in the hat if you have it. They also accept enthusiastic applause for payment.
I am truly in Hell. The only work I have managed to get is in the comic book convention world. Which, judging by the sold-out numbers of people at the Javits for the New York Comic Con, is still kinda recession-proof. I fell into the work, really. I don’t even read comic books* (Get the whole story here). And I definitely don’t “get” comic book geeks. I mean, they’re sweet enough, in their own, special, pasty, basement-dwelling way, but I mean, puh-lease. You weren’t all home-schooled, were you? There has to be an ounce of social skills somewhere in that cranium, right??? Whatever the case may be, these skills were not on display (yet again) at this year’s New York Comic Con. Actual snippet of overheard conversation on the crosstown bus on the way to the Javits:
Geek Girl1: So when I finally saw X-Men 3…
Geek 2: Oh you didn’t! It was HORRIBLE.
GG1: I didn’t think it was so bad, at first, you know, just taking it at face value, but then they explained to me how it was totally in opposition to the art and color scheme by so-and-so and blahdy-blahdy-geek-blah…
… and this drivel went on the ENTIRE CROSSTOWN RIDE. Nightmare. How do I get myself into these situations? Anyway, I was working a booth for my new semi-F/T gig with the longest running independent comic book convention in NYC. I have biz cards and everything! I am officially one of THEM. O.M.F.G.
And I work for one of the top guys in the comic book collecting world. Somehow he’s one of them and not one of them at the same time. He knows them all, but he used to ski with the beautiful people at Studio 54. High and low, as it were. Anyway, scads of people come by his booth and I get to people watch them all. I could go on and on about the various freaks and geeks**, but the ones who really caught my eye were the Gothic Lolitas: you know, Asian girls in a mix of goth and maid uniforms, with a Lolita twist.
Essentially, these girls are walking manga. I was Goth, bitd, but this is a Japanese twist on an old classic. I talked with one self-professed Gothic Lolita, 18 year old Kana from Manhattan. She said she first got into the look 8 years ago after seeing J Rock artists on TV (example here). She saw the fans of that style of music and wanted to dress like them. It’s a very cute world with which to identify. As opposed to Cosplay fans at the Comic Con, Kana said this is her normal style of dress. She likes bands like Plastic Tree, and she and her friends get together for karaoke parties. She seemed really well-adjusted. It was refreshing, in this land of make-believe.
So I am officially an insider in this crazy comic book world. But I guess now I can finally finish my Sandman collection. I’m only missing #2 and #43. Christ. Kill me now.
*Except Neil Gaiman’s Sandman in the 90′s. Brilliant. Oh, and the occasional Betty and Veronica when I was little. Can you say cat fight? Me-ow!
**New rule: Guys, if you’re wearing spandex, will you PLEASE wear a cup?!?!?!? I am still scrubbing those lumpy images from my brain.
by J.D. Oxblood
Last night I stumbled into the Telephone Bar on Second Avenue and discovered that there was a reading series happening in the back room. A true masochist, I decided to check it out.
The first reader was a pleasant surprise. Michael DeCapite read from his book THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD, an outright hilarious piece describing a conversation between two men; one of them has been recommended, by his father, to move into a Veterans retirement home—at the age of 31. DeCapite read smoothly, charismatically, and in a move of programming genius had the audience rolling with laughter for the first 15 minutes. Then he moved into the heavy stuff, a couple of pieces from another novel that described the pain and regret of two blown marriages, told in an almost poetic style. He was naked on the stage, and the audience was rapt.
Hey kids, if you’re looking for trouble on a Friday night, but the Recession has put 24 hour raves off your to-do list, why not check out Brian Newman After Dark at Duane Park?
If you haven’t already, slide on up to the Studio Museum Harlem and check out the Barkley L. Hendrix show up from now until March 15th. Hendricks’s painting is a dialogue between American realism and post-modernism — kind of like if Grant Wood and (the early) Chuck Close had met on a street corner at Lenox and 135th to find Rinehart, their hook-up. They say a picture is worth … well, you know. I’ll let them speak for themselves. But there is no excuse if you live in this city for not going up to Harlem to see them for yourself.
Sunday night is free night at the Studio Museum Harlem, and on Free Sundays they feature free programs and events from 12 to 6 p.m.. Yesterday was a poetry reading by five amazing poets inspired by the work of Barkley Hendricks: Nicole Sealey, Myronn Hardy, Hallie S. Hobson, Marcus Jackson, and Bakar Wilson. Mr. Jackson, a graduate from NYU’s prestigious creative writing MFA in poetry, won the CulturalCapitol award for best metaphors in an “Ode to Kool-Aid”. He also had some great metaphors for describing the Hendricks painting “Sweet Thang” — notably when he said her lips are the color of cinnamon sticks, a funny thing to say seeing as you can’t see her lips in the painting.
The best over all line (and perfect answer to Mr. Jackson) was given by Ms. Hobson: “who needs metaphor when you look this good?” Ms. Sealey won most graceful, and Mr. Hardy took the award for most books on sale at the gift shop. Finally, Mr. Wilson won the award for most fabulous, an award he’s won more times than the Steelers have won Super Bowls.
By J.D. Oxblood
“I can promise you, if LAST CALL AT THE STARLINER LOUNGE isn’t one of the most original shows that you’ve ever seen, then I will eat a pack of cigarettes.” With an offer like that, how could I refuse? Yes, that was the inimitable Snuffy Patterson, and I was half hoping the show would suck so that I could watch him suck ‘em down. No dice, but it turns out I still won: he eats a cigarette in the opening as an ad for “Turkish Cigarettes—the cure for halitosis.” The sourpuss face on this kid is priceless.
We’re back at Corio, another night of hopeless debauchery, shaking off the post-holiday season delirium tremens. It’s a Wednesday night and cold enough to freeze the rye on my breath. Seems that all the gorgeous dames in this place only work the Pontani shows; the skirt serving us hooch is looking a little long in the tooth. Maybe it’s a good thing that she’s not in a corset.
Brian Newman and his band loosen the crowd with a couple of standards, starting with “All of Me.” This kid looks about two days past getting his draft card, and so thin you could pick your teeth with him. He can warble, though, so damn well I wondered if the horn in his hand was just a prop. But he made a sucker of all of us and blew the damn thing better than Gabriel. He’s backed by keys, skins, a bull fiddle who can lay down a bass line that walks with a ten incher down the left leg, and a sharp-dressed urbanite blowing a thoughtful motif on a tenor sax.
I settle into a cold one and tried to follow the convoluted plot.
Dubai is a palace of excess and contradition. It is a mushroom that paradoxically bloomed under the whithering rays of the sun. But the leadership of the UAE is a lot smarter than anyone in America today. From today’s New York Times:
[The UAE's] new investment [in renewable energy] aims to maintain the gulf’s dominant position as a global energy supplier, gaining patents from the new technologies and promoting green manufacturing. But if the United States and the European Union have set energy independence from the gulf states as a goal of new renewable energy efforts, they may find they are arriving late at the party.
The irony that the most wasteful and oil dependent part of the globe should be on the cutting edge of green energy is unremarkable next to the ambition — characteristic of the Gulf states — to go all the way all at once. Consider Masdar City, a planned community outside of Abu Dhabi that claims it will have a zero-carbon footprint. Even though skeptics doubt this claim, it is notable not for its complete success in execution, but for its audacity.
According to the Times article, Qatar has invested $225 million into a British research fund, and Saudi Arabia has invested untold millions into American universities, including $25 million for Michael McGehee an associate professor at Stanford, to develop cutting edge technologies. That is fifty times the amount invested by Western governments or industry.
Finally, the Times tells us Masdar City “goes beyond creating new materials and is in fact exploring a new model for urban life.” To wit: “The city will have no cars; people will move around using driverless electric vehicles that move on a subterranean level. The air-conditioning will be solar powered.” As a New Yorker I take exception to this. After all, we also have subterranean electric cars that move people around. It’s called the subway. If only the city, state, and federal government could get their posteriors and capitals wired together they could see that a massive investment in the New York City subway is a necessary good faith effort to putting America into the 21st century.
The metropolitan transit system is the most developed mass transit system in the United States. It carries workers (including me) from their houses to their jobs inside and outside the five boroughs. It is an essential piece of infrastructure for New York City, New York State, and the Tri-State area. Its importance cannot be overstated. The economic activity made possible by the transit system produces the lion’s share of taxes that go to Albany, and a sizable income for Newark and Hartford. Without the MTA millions would be unemployed.
So why did Governor Pataki try to starve it in the 90s? This is from an article in the New York Times:
At first the programs were financed with a combination of money from the state and city and borrowing. After George E. Pataki became governor in 1995, he sharply cut state funds for the capital programs and told the authority to borrow more. As a result, the last two five-year plans have been, in the words of the authority’s current executive director, Elliot G. Sander, put on a credit card.
The massive irresponsibility of the governor’s policy is all the more glaring now that the MTA is gasping for air. So why wasn’t there more of an outcry when the electorate could do something about it?
The answer is The Great Conservative Tax Swindle, also known as the Laffer Curve. The Laffer Curve is some spurious (and typically conservative) economic snake oil sold to the masses by Reagan and his legion of followers. At first it seems reasonable: if taxes are too high people won’t work. But taken to the extreme It says that all taxes are bad, and that rests on the assumption that only private capital is able to finance the public weal.
Some things are too important to be left to private initiative. In order to form a more perfect Union (as our Founding Fathers believed) we must come together as a people, and that means we will elect a government. Conservatives, deeply suspicious of government, have for the last twenty-eight years elected sabateurs whose explicit vow was to dismantle government. Deeply suspicious of public capital, they actively and openly raided the public treasury to enrich private capital. The time has come to roundly condemn this insanity. In the words of Roger Toussaint, president of Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union:
With a dramatic and historic increase in ridership, more service – not less – is needed on our subway and bus lines. Failure to maintain and reinvest in our transportation infrastructure now will result in huge costs to riders and all taxpayers down the road.
The state legislature and the MTA need to wake up and smell the overcrowding on all New York City transit. The crosstown G — the only line that doesn’t run into Manhattan — has been sorely neglected its whole life. And now the state is saying that the budget shortfall means cuts, higher fares, and worse service. Don’t they know that the biggest build out the the system was during the Great Depression?
Maybe they do. But the real problem is a lack of organization in transit advocacy groups to put real pressure on Albany to invest heavily in NYC transit. First, kick Sheldon Silver out of the legislature, and second make sure all the other reps know they’re next on the hit list if they drag their feet on funding a massive MTA overhaul.
“I am a daredevil, in the great tradition of the greatest daredevil of all time, Evil Knevel. I’m a rebel, Dottie, a loner.”
Check it out! Check it out! Check it out! Big up mah main lady of the unemployment line — Eve’l Knevel and her rad new blog on living in NYC sans travail.
So far being free isn’t just another word for nothing left to lose:
“Hello all you burdens to society! It’s another gorgeous day of being unemployed in the city. Yesterday I covered the super-fun mandatory trip to the Dept. of Labor. Today I’d like to help you take on the overwhelming inertia that inevitably consumes the long-term unemployed. It is a matter of fact that, when given all the time in the world to pursue hobbies, better ourselves, and use this paid, totally free free time, most of us will slip into the giant vortex of inactivity that only boatloads of unstructured time can bring. At first, after the shock and anger of losing your job wears off, unemployment is fun. It’s a blast! Holy crap, I have all the time to do WHATEVER I FREAKIN’ WANT!”
We can’t wait to see how she’s doing at Christmas!
Even better, she’s literatti from the old school. Get a taste of her tastes:
“I got all teary-eyed getting to see John Doe and Exene Cervanka, idols from my youth from the band X, playing on stage. I was just a tiny little pre-punk rocker when I first heard their plaintive, discordant tones. I went batshit for their band, X. They didn’t sound like anything else I had ever heard. Punk, but folks-y. I later heard the term cowpunk, and that seemed about right. And I’d always followed John Doe’s acting career (He was Pat McGurn, sleazy bartender, in Roadhouse, for chrissakes. Roadhouse! Another classic. I told you my definition of “the classics” may not match your own).”
We here at CC hope you read her stuff and enjoy!
By J.D. Oxblood
Caught the Monday night again at Public Ass. (“Public Assembly is just a stupid name. It will heretofore be referred to, in these pages, as Public Ass. Suits my idiom.) It’s nice to see that in spite of all the gentrification, the old Billburg spirit is alive and well at Public Ass—the bartenders suck. Too cool for school, way too cool to actually pour a drink or care about tips. Amen, my brethren
The less said about Jonny Porkpie’s Fresh Faces Showcase the better — although WordyGirl’s diss on the U.S. of A. was … something. And at midnight I had to get the hell out of there and get me some up-close-and-personal T & A.
Consequently I couldn’t stick around for GiGi’s Monday Night Blue, so so all you’re gonna get is the highlights of the main event. Deal.
This is a pretty cool documentary on hackers in New York City around the turn of the millennium. Check it out.