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gun virgins

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.

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Christine Elmo

Christine Elmo

Last Thursday, May 21st, I clanked down the metal stairs of Jimmy’s 43 and into the subterranean bar completely and thoroughly confused. I had been invited by Christine Elmo to come to a benefit for a dance production she has choreographed and hopes to produce. Christine is a New York dance artist who has performed in the city and Europe extensively for the last two years. (Check out the video of dancing in Central Turkey and her CV here. Beautiful!) She’s a mover and a shaker in every sense of the phrase. So I guess I expected the benefit would be in a black box theater south of Houston, someplace that reeks of fresh paint and sawdust.

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by J.D. Oxblood

It’s so rare that I make it to a Broadway show—what with most of the Great White Way awash in Disney-fied claptrap, reincarnations of old musicals and old movies reincarnated as new musicals—that we decided to make a night of it.  So much so that I actually went out and purchased an umbrella to keep my suit from getting soaked in the dismal, rainy April night.  I was excited, yet anxious, because the last time I tried to get my fill of some good, old-fashioned absurdist drama, I was cringingly disappointed:  to anyone else who shelled out the big bucks to sit through last years revival of (Harold Pinter’s exquisite test) “The Homecoming,” my condolences.  Reeked so bad it took a month to get the smell out of my tux.

The Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of Samuel Beckett’s anti-classic, at Studio 54, features Bill Irwin and Nathan Lane as Didi and Gogo, with none other than John Goodman as Pozzo and the spellbinding John Glover as Lucky, under the direction of Anthony Page.  (FYI: everyone in the previous sentence has won a Tony, with the exception of Goodman, who’s won a Golden Globe.)

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The Positive Brothers

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.

Hell(o) (t)here

Hell(o) (t)here

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.

... themmm

... themmm

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.

nycmc-2009-06

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.

Kutie Kana

Kutie Kana

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.

Michael DeCapite at Telephone

Michael DeCapite at Telephone

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.

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hendricks-three-men

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.

hendricks-flaming-heart

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.

barkley-l-sweet-thang

Sweet Thang

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.

starliner-blog

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.

Snuffy, our narrator, picks up as Softy Malone enters

Chapter 1:
Friday, 9/19: Premiere Party at the Bell House
By J.D. Oxblood
Photos by Jane Smith

The Love Show

The Love Show

[***3 kisses indicate J.D.’s faves.]

I showed up early and was hit in the face by the smell of wood varnish. The space is brand spanking new and I can’t really figure out why they opened a venue of this size in this location. It’s Gowanus, people, which sounds like something you get from raggedy chicks on Craigslist and might very well be. The walk from the elevated F/G stop at Smith and 9th was like a descent into something from Dante’s imagination. Or Cleveland. You choose. And this joint is the kind of high-ceiling, wooden beam affair where you expect to see moose heads on the wall. And the crowd in the lounge? These are the kinds of guys that make you ashamed to be an American—guys who are used to yelling at each other in somebody’s kitchen. They still reek of Bolognese sauce. They’re so psyched to have a bar in their neighborhood they might never go home. Fortunately, the big room was, in fact, very big, so it was possible to get close to the performers. The crowd was mixed and fairly young—those brave enough to make the trek to Gowanus—with an extra helping of young dudes rubbing up against their young babes with the unbridled optimism of knowing they’ll have something to do with their boners when the show is over. Ah, the fantasy of a threesome. Girls, don’t be upset that your boy isn’t thinking about you; just be glad it’s you he’s fucking. The first two gogo dancers were, um, not much of dancers and less of gogo, but they were soon replaced by a smokin’ hot black girl with Supremes sensibilities, and a big, fleshy redhead who was so generous in spreading her ass for the crowd that I considered trying to take her home and skip the whole damn festival. It would take the entire weekend to work THAT out.

Scotty, the Big Blue Bunny is right this way!

Cultural Capitol wants to send a giant shout out and big up to Jen Gapay and the wonderful women (and men, and other) of the New York Burlesque Festival. We had a great time covering the events. Here is a list of the festival winners:

Biggest Media Whore: Tie: Angie Pontani / Murray Hill
Best Booty Shaker: Gigi La Femme
Best Gams: Delirium Tremens
Best Dressed: Amber Ray
Best Body: Dirty Martini
Most Charismatic: World Famous *BOB*
Hottest Freshman: Roxi Dlite
Most Likely to Win on Survivor: Nasty Canasta
Sexiest Eyes: Indigo Blue
Sweetest Smile: Anita Cookie
Classiest Dame: Michelle L’Amour
Biggest Diva: Dirty Martini
Biggest Tease: Roxi Dlite
Biggest Cougar: Jo Boobs
Most Likely to Go Gay in 2009: Tie: Broadway Brassy / Pinchbottom
Most Likely to Turn Name into an Unpronouncable Symbol: Tigger!

Congratulations to you all!

(For mah peeps living the bohemian novelist’s dream.)

A Moveable Feast is Hemingway’s memoir of life for the young ex-pats who enjoyed the first blush of American global economic dominance in France after the end of the First World War. Though he and Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and John Dos Passos complained about being poor and put on a show of living a bohemian lifestyle, they were all supported by the strength of the US economy and money sent to them from the states. The fact that the French franc was close to trash compared to the dollar supported their artistic ambitions.

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Saturday, June 7th I went with Ryan Beckwith, my buddy who illustrated our joint effort The War In Heaven, to two comics conventions in Manhattan. The Big Apple ComiCon (a. k. a. the Big Apple Art, Toy, and Sci-Fi Expo) was at the Penn Plaza Pavilion on 7th Ave at 33rd St. It was, in the words of the website, ” A fun day for sure [with] throngs of comic, art, sci-fi, and toy fans, celebrities, artists.” I saw throngs. I also saw Storm Troopers, Jawas, and girls with sexy, skimpy outfits and silicone enhanced breats (both drawn and living).

Obviously guys who read comics also like girls with slim waists, big breasts, and bigger guns. It was definitely a nerd masculinity-fest. And no man-party would be complete without some aging starlets to drool over.

I am sure the relationship is reciprocal. The guys love looking at lady pillows, and the ladies get all the devoted male attention they’ve been starving for since their series was canceled (ten years ago).

(This is the obligatory Facebook photo taken at Big Apple CmC.)

Ryan and I went downtown to the Puck building to check out MoCCA-fest, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art show. The crowd downtown was decidedly different. In the first place, men with tattoos of Vargas girls were replaced by girls with tattoos of quirky Americana.

The greeters at MoCCA were sweet and deferential, quite a contrast to the Storm Troopers and Jawas who greeted us in Midtown.

Inside, the comic books expressed a different mood.

More honest? Look at it from both perspectives: either the writers/artists in Midtown are proud, meat-eating men who disdain girly books filled with poncy, indecipherable art, or the writers/artists downtown are more sensitive to the fact that being an artist means putting your energies into something other than attracting the right sort of woman. To be fair, downtown artists are interested in slutty girls too. But for them it’s just another genre.

The downtown guys also seem to have a more refined sense of irony vis-a-vis the masculine posturing that seems inherent to comics. For example:

Kidding aside, both conventions were fun and a great opportunity to meet the major players in the graphic arts world.

The penis graffito is probably the oldest symbol in the world.

BTW, This is a close runner up: ({}).

There are many, many examples of the penis graffito, but for the sake of space (and sanity) we’ll just look at two from the Clinton-Washington G train stop. Both of them seek to impose sexual power on the person in the poster, and the only difference between the two — and it’s a slight one at that — is the gender object of the power.

Poor Moonshadow! He looks happy, but size of that member cannot be very satisfying.

Is it pornography? If it is, what can a concerned citizen do about it? Public decency is absolutely necessary — no one would argue it is OK for men to walk the streets wagging their membri viri at passersby. But how can you stop someone from stamping a symbol of male power on a poster in the subway? You could have the cops check everyone’s bag for Sharpies. Giuliani introduced paint-proof trains to get rid of unsightly graffiti. One rider took the matter into her own hands and attacked the vandals on their own turf:

The G train from Metropolitan to Hoyt-Schermerhorn is a laboratory for individual artistic interventions in corporate advertising. This one is on the Smith and 9th street bound track at Clinton-Washington. Notice also the name on the helmet.

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