Monday, January 31, 2011

The L Train Kills Again

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 4:43 PM

Early this morning, a Canarsie-bound L killed a man at the Halsey Street station. The man, believed to be in his 30s, was intoxicated, MTA employees told the Post, and had jumped onto the tracks to retrieve his keys. (These kinds of death can be especially hard on the conductor.) The moral of the story is that, no matter how incredibly inconvenient it may seem, you should always ask an MTA employee for help in retrieving an item dropped onto the tracks. Especially when you're intoxicated.

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Soho Non-Profit Art Space Recess Expanding to Red Hook

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 4:15 PM

Kidd Yellin studios in Red Hook

Recess Activities, Inc., the Soho-based art non-profit that provides emerging artists with a street-level studio, exhibition and activity space for two- to three-month residencies, announced last week that it will expand to Brooklyn in February, in partnership with Red Hook gallery and studio space Kidd Yellin (pictured).

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Is Brooklyn College Captive to Israel Apologists?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 3:25 PM

Academic Terrorist
  • Academic Terrorist
Last week, Kristofer Petersen-Overton, an adjunct in Brooklyn College's political science department, was dismissed from his position hours after a state assemblyman complained about the educator's political beliefs. According to The Post:

Hikind said...that Petersen-Overton, 26, has written several academic papers that are anti-Israeli and attempt to understand [imagine that!!] suicide bombers. Hikind told The Post that after he was alerted by students, he reviewed the proposed curriculum and saw about 50 books listed — all of which blamed Israel for problems in the region.

"Not one of them presents another point of view," Hikind said.

Students were more likely upset after being assigned to read 50 books! Brooklyn College has embarked on a craven, conspicuous cover-up in response, but this isn't the first time the college has allowed much-publicized opposition from the school's powerful pro-Israel faction to determine course at the school.

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The Funniest Chef in New York City?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 2:36 PM

dirt candy
  • Small restaurant, funny chef.
I have to admit I've always felt weirdly close (because we're not actually close—at all) to Chef Amanda Cohen. She's the genius behind Dirt Candy, a vegetarian restaurant in the East Village that has often felt like a custom-made gift to me, a food-loving (but brown rice indifferent) vegetarian. She's given me a place to take my food-loving but non-vegetarian friends and family, a place where I can hold my head high and show that you don't have to give up anything when you give up meat. Crispy tofu, represent!

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Hear a New Fleet Foxes Song, In Which That Guy from Fleet Foxes Realizes That, Shit, He's Not Special Like a Snowflake

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 1:44 PM

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Just the other day, and friend and I were discussing Fleet Foxes, and how now that they've let nearly three years pass between their much-adored debut and its follow-up, there's basically no way they won't experience something of a let down when their second album does finally come out. Now I don't know, though. It's entirely possible that we are stupid and that they won't experience anything of the sort. Because this morning, the good people at Sub Pop have announced that on May 3rd, the band will release Helplessness Blues, the title-track from which is now available (after the jump) and is super, super awesome, in all the same ways their first batch of songs were awesome, only with a freshly added Simon and Garfunkel vibe and lyrics like "I was raised up believing i was somehow unique, like a snowflake, distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see, and now after some thinking, I'd say I'd rather be a functioning cog in some great machinery, serving something beyond me/But I don't know what that will be/I'll get back to you some day soon, you will see."

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Is Brendan Fraser Playing Win Butler in a Movie About Arcade Fire?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 12:59 PM

af_movie.jpg
There I was, getting ready for bed, casually patrolling Twitter to see if people thought Mark Zuckerberg's appearance on SNL was as awkward as I feared it was when I was tipped off by @truepanther to check out Brendan Fraser's Wikipedia page, something I can't say I've ever done before. Amidst mentions of Encino Man and The Mummy, there's this: "Fraser has been rumored to be cast in the role of Win Butler in an upcoming film about Butler's band, Arcade Fire."

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The Rite Reclaims Exorcisms for The Right

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Even Hopkins is bored by this shit
  • Even Hopkins is bored by this shit
The small town in which The Rite opens looks like the Lowell of The Fighter—that is, like no one has invested in it (and, in particular, its signage) since 1973. That's the year at which the movie feels frozen in both aesthetic and essence: it's the year The Exorcist opened, and the year at which The Rite would like exorcism movies to have stopped being made.

In an essay I wrote this summer, "The Evolution of the Exorcism Movie," I suggested a continuum for parsing an exorcism-movie's politics, with the Catholic conservatism of Friedkin-Blatty's ur-text at one end (in which the Devil is a horned monster from Hell), and the psychological revisionism of the 2006 German movie Requiem at the other (in which "evil," if it even exists, is more amorphous). Thanks to that import, which posits a young girl's "possession" as more likely an amalgam of epilepsy and psychosis, the exorcism movie can no longer ignore or quickly dismiss the tension between the spiritual and the medical, between demons and psychosis. The last major exorcism movie, August's The Last Exorcism, left the question as to the source of its evil—hell-spawn or nervous breakdown?—ambiguous until its final reel. I wrote that, though that reel felt disappointingly literal, I was pleased that the filmmakers "went farther than any other...yet in moving the exorcism movie away from proselytizing for Catholicism and toward a more complex vision of human suffering. Perhaps the next exorcism movie won't conclude so cravenly." But The Rite not only concludes cravenly, it opens cravenly, and stays craven in between. It doesn't just take a step back—it takes ten.

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Video Artist Enters Philadelphia Cream Cheese Recipe Contest, Hilarious Grossness Ensues

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Last year Philly-based video and performance artist Jenny Drumgoole submitted a series of videos to a Philadelphia Cream Cheese recipe contest—in which women presented recipes, cooking show-style, using the popular spread. In the first (above) Drumgoole sculpts a stop-motion animated head of Rambo from 20 blocks of cream cheese. Later, a five-day cream cheese cleanse makes her numb to pain and gives her 3D vision.

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Cyclist in Critical Condition, Driver Charged After Friday Night Hit-and-Run in Midtown

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Not pictured: snow, drunk driver.
  • Not pictured: snow, drunk driver.

Cycling on Eighth Avenue in Midtown with snow and slush everywhere on a Friday night is just about the worst situation to be in, never mind having to worry about drunk-driving sons of Bernie Madoff victims (what? yup). Around 10:15pm Friday evening 28-year-old Ricardo Gonzalez was hit by Lexus driver Clark Gettinger on Eighth Avenue near 47th Street. Gonzalez, a food deliveryman, remains in critical condition at Bellevue Hospital.

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Stream The People's Key, Which NPR Says is "The Best Record Bright Eyes Has Ever Made"

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 9:50 AM

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Considering that for whatever reason, here in the midst what is generally a very good time for releases, there are actually no new records worth being excited about this week, it is a welcome bit of news that NPR is now streaming the new Bright Eyes album, The People's Key, two weeks before its official release date of 2/15. NPR blogger and All Things Considered producer Robin Hilton is over the moon excited about it. "I won't mince words," he says, "This is the best record Bright Eyes has ever made." He even goes so far as to call it a "career-defining piece of art."

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Kenny Scharf Restores Bombed Bowery Mural

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Kenny Scharf restoring Bowery mural

Two days after opening his big show of paintings at Paul Kasmin Gallery in Chelsea, Kenny Scharf returned to his Lower East Side mural, a popular target for graffiti writers (especially following the artist's perceived provocations).

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Now Open: Modca by El Beit in Williamsburg

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 5:39 PM

couch.jpg

I am typing this very post from a brand-new coffee shop opened by the folks from El Beit. Now, as a freelance writer, I spend a fair amount of time in coffee shops, so I'm always excited when a new place opens. Modca has a unique look to it, half industrial warehouse with concrete floors and exposed ducts and half farmhouse with robin egg blue walls, flower-filled glasses and cute miniature picture frames. The vibe is fairly relaxed; Camera Obscura's Underachievers Please Try Harder is playing at a reasonable volume on the stereo, half of the crowd is typing away on laptops while the other half sits and talks at small tables. It's nice to be at a coffee shop that doesn't feel like an office but also isn't blasting electro tracks from some barista's new band.

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The PS22 Choir Heads to the Academy Awards

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Those kids in Staten Island's PS22 Chorus are proving to be cooler than you yet again. After already having played for President Obama and gaining the attention of Almighty Oprah before Glee ever became "a thing," the fifth-graders are taking their talent for twisting indie-rock staples into feel-good singalongs (see them do MGMT above) to this year's Academy Awards, where they'll perform the Oscar-winning song "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz (ok, they're also known for not-so-indie songs), and, as one munchkin points out in the video below, meet Anne Hathaway, who was, like, in The Princess Diaries, duh.

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Half-Hasid, Half-Hipster "Williamsburg Blend" Coffee Brokers Bike Wars Truce

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 3:09 PM

Williamsburg Blend coffee

Brooklyn-based gourmet grocer Union Market has just debuted new packaging for its nabe-themed coffee—designed by Pix Design, a design firm based in Manhattan (treason!) —and you'll notice that the Williamsburg Blend sports silhouettes of a kvetching Hasidic man and an awkward-looking hipster.

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Live: Suuns Bring Their Synth-Pop-Drone Whatchamacallit to Mercury Lounge

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Suuns in front of a wall, not at Mercury Lounge
  • Suuns in front of a wall, not at Mercury Lounge
Suuns, Julianna Barwick
Live at Mercury Lounge
Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Manhattan’s 1st Avenue was a slush festival yesterday evening, street corners moated off by ominously wide-radius puddles, generating visions of Principal Ed Rooney going in ankle-deep and coming up just sock. Avenue A, however, was sort of tidy, merely slush-glazed and entirely navigable. They’ve really got their shit together over on Avenue A! Keep that in mind for when the next degraded foot of urban powder, which a vengeful winter god is likely preparing as I type, is thwarting your stroll downtown towards, say, Mercury Lounge. Enough show-goers had waded down that there was a modest line-up waiting outside for this very early 6:30 show, though the mass looked less formidable once lining the benches of the main space.

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At the Opening Party for Lorna Simpson's Brooklyn Museum Show

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 1:37 PM

Lorna Simpson: Gathered installation view.
  • Lorna Simpson: Gathered installation view. All photos by Crystal Gwyn.

Brooklyn-born photographer Lorna Simpson's breathtaking new exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum is a combination of found photographs (straight from eBay), ink drawings and Simpson's self-portraits. It sounds like a lot, but its brilliance lies in Simpson's subtlety. We braved the snow to join the attractive audience at last night's opening reception.

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Live: Shara Worden Gets Fancy at Lincoln Center

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Sorry, they wouldnt let us take photos.
  • Sorry, they wouldn't let us take photos.
The Allen Room at Lincoln Center is designed so exquisitely you can hear palms peeling off programs in the cottony silence before Shara Worden’s show. The giant tilting window behind the stage looms like an extravagant abstract expressionist painting. Clusters of yellow lights dot the horizon. Wood paneling throughout the sparse, black-boxy amphitheater makes it feel like you're sitting in a Swedish bathhouse for audio nerds. Was that an individual footstep I heard? The room even smells like sound. For a lesser talent, this set up would be intimidating. But for Shara Worden, whose vocals articulate a dynamic range of textures and sounds, it’s fitting, if perhaps just a tad stuffy.

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Brooklyn Filmmakers Hustle To Finish Domino Documentary

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 12:02 PM

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A trio of filmmakers are currently raising funds for their documentary, The Domino Effect, which examines Williamsburg's massive Domino project and places it in the larger context of New York City development. We caught up with producer Megan Sperry to ask her why the Domino story is unique, how it fits into the larger context of NYC development, and why it needs to be told now.

What makes the Domino development a bigger story than any of the similar surrounding developments?
The New Domino is basically Round Two of the 2005 rezoning that led to the other huge waterfront luxury developments like the Edge and Northside Piers. Only it’s about 30 percent bigger! It’s the equivalent of about five Chrysler Buildings of new development and will completely transform Southside Williamsburg.

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Truman Capote's Brooklyn Heights House Still on the Market, Now $2.1 Million Cheaper

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 11:12 AM

70 Willow Street, Truman Capotes House in Brooklyn Heights

"The wall of the house rising above the garden was like a great yellow cliff," recounts the narrator of Truman Capote's first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948), "and patches of Virginia creeper greenly framed all its eight overlooking windows." Despite pertaining to Skully's Landing, a decrepit estate in rural Alabama, the description also fits (Virginia creeper notwithstanding) 70 Willow Street (pictured), Capote's Brooklyn Heights home between 1955 and 1965, which has been on the market since May of last year, its price just reduced by $2.1 million (from $18 million to $15.9 million). To be clear, Capote didn't own the building, but rented its garden apartment. (Brownstoner)

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U.S. Justice Deparment Calls for Review of Tobacco Warehouse Conversion in Dumbo

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Tobacco WArehouse Dumbo St. Anns

Back in November 2010 it was announced overnight that submissions had been taken, narrowed to two, and a winner selected (St. Ann's Warehouse) to redevelop Dumbo's long-shuttered, Civil War-era Tobacco Warehouse on Water Street. All seemed poised to continue moving swiftly, but after two lawsuits were filed against the project last week, the U.S. Justice Department has ordered the National Park Service to review the process that set the redevelopment project in motion.

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