Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Are Brooklyn's Bowling Alleys Dying?

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2011 at 10:36 AM

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The owner of one of the last bowling alleys in southern Brooklyn has taken steps necessary to allow him to tear it down, the New York Times reported. John LaSpina, whose father opened Maple Lanes more than 50 years ago, wants his land rezoned from manufacturing, so that he could raze the tenpin spot and replace it with apartments and a synagogue. The effort highlights sundry trends: the transformation of bowling alleys from cigarette smoke-stinking refuges of the working class to boutique hot spots that double as live music venues, the changing play habits of kids and families, and the demographic shifts among Brooklyn's working class.

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RIP X-Ray Spex Singer Poly Styrene

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2011 at 9:47 AM

Poly Styrene, lead singer for British band X-ray Spex, died yesterday at the age of 53. She played as integral a role as anyone in shaping the look, sound and politics of generations of feminist punks that would follow, the most obviously indebted to her being the Riot Grrls of the early 90s. Her most recent solo album, Generation Indigo, came out in the U.K. in late-March, but only sees its U.S. release today.

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Tribeca 2011: In Blackthorn, Butch Cassidy is Alive, But Not So Well

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2011 at 8:57 AM

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Nothing strips the romance from a Western quite like Butch Cassidy showing up at a bank to make a withdrawal from his savings account. That's one of the earliest scenes (pictured at right) in the weary, melancholic and elegiac Blackthorn, which revisits the Cassidy and Sundance myth and rewrites a new last act for George Roy Hill's classic: instead of meeting their ends at the hands of the Bolivian Army in 1908, the outlaws live on. This movie finds Butch in 1927: grizzled, calling himself by the alias of the title, and raising horses on a ranch in the rugged mountains of Bolivia—the American West's erstwhile wild terrain rediscovered South of the equator.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Anonymous Artist Resurrects Vandalized "Piss Christ" for Easter

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Andres Serranos Piss Christ at left, and an anonymous artists The Resurrection of Piss Christ at right.
  • Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" at left, and an anonymous artist's "The Resurrection of Piss Christ" at right.

In response to the Christian radicals who vandalized New York-based photographer Andres Serrano's controversial photograph "Piss Christ" in France last week, another artist (in league with our own Paddy Johnson) has anonymously launched the artwork/new media/social sculpture/crowd-sourced mashup project The Resurrection of Piss Christ.

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National Guard Gives Up on Another Brooklyn Navy Yard Building

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 3:46 PM

The Flushing Avenue-facing side of Admirals Rows Building B.
  • The Flushing Avenue-facing side of Admiral's Row's Building B.

While the National Guard has been steadily lowering expectations that it might actually fulfill its promise to fortify and preserve the Brooklyn Navy Yard's Timber Shed, the only Admiral's Row building it planned to restore has also fallen into an irreparable state.

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I Refuse to Make a Bunny Pun: An Oral History of the Playboy Clubs

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 2:59 PM

these would never pass muster at todays furry cons
  • Playboy, Vanity Fair
  • Sexy ladies? Shiny outfits?
You will definitely want to check out this looong article in Vanity Fair about the old Playboy Clubs, because first of all, it’s called “A Bunny Thing Happened: An Oral History of the Playboy Clubs.” It’s not entirely clear whether author Bruce Handy is poking fun at how goofy those things were, celebrating a specific cultural time and place, pointing out what a oddball Hugh Hefner is, or all of the above. But it’s a fascinating read, with lots of weird little tidbits. What immediately strikes me is how self-serious the whole enterprise was:

For Bunnies, behavior was codified by a series of Bunny Manuals that read like Federal Trade Commission rulings and dictated how Bunnies could smoke (one small puff at a time, the cigarette then resting in the ashtray, not the hand), how they could sit (on the back of a chair or resting a hip on a banister; this was known as the Bunny Perch), how they could stand (the Bunny Stance: one foot behind the other, hips squared), and how they could address members (“Smile and introduce yourself with the standard Bunny Introduction: ‘Good evening, I am your Bunny _________ (name). May I see the Playboy key, please?’ … Never express your request for a keyholder’s order in a crude and trite phrase such as ‘What’ll you have?’”)

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Brooklyn Cyclist Killed in Gravesend Yesterday

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 2:07 PM

The intersection of Avenue T and West 9th Street where cyclist Joseph Granati was killed yesterday.
  • The intersection of Avenue T and West 9th Street where cyclist Joseph Granati was killed yesterday.

It's the beginning of high season for cycling in the city, and Brooklyn's first cyclist fatality in months came yesterday afternoon around 3pm at the intersection of Avenue T and West 9th Street in Gravesend, where, the Daily News reports, 39-year-old Joseph Granati apparently rode through a red light, was struck by a Nissan and died at the scene.

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Brooklyn Heights Terrorized by Would-Be "Soda Can Killer"

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 1:18 PM

I would catch a grenade for ya
  • I would catch a grenade for ya
Those darn kids are at it again. They've pissed out their windows, tossed plastic yogurt containers. "I've seen a bowl of cereal actually hit someone," one resident claims. But now Clark Street passersby's lives are at stake! A post on Yahoo's Brooklyn Heights Parents board warned residents about what the Brooklyn Heights Blog is calling "The Soda Can Bomber": someone in the dormitory at 55 Clark Street has been dropping "extra-large, full" cans of soda from windows in attempts to hit pedestrians. "The can was most certainly thrown from at least several stories up," wrote the original poster, whose husband survived an attack by inches, "and could do serious damage if it were to hit a person or young child."

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Super-Secret Drink Specials and Previously Unheard Short Fiction at Literary Upstart Next Week

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 12:00 PM

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This coming Wednesday, April 27, please do join us again at Spike Hill in Williamsburg for the second round of Literary Upstart, our annual Search for Pocket Fiction (brought to you by Harper Perennial and the New School).

If last month's first round is any indication (it usually is), there will be excellent short stories read by a handful of the city's best unknown writers; disconcertingly loud laughter emanating from certain corners of the audience; rampant use of foul language during New York City Literary Trivia; and drink specials from Heineken. At semifinal #2, we're promising a thrilling, double-secret beer special that you'll just have to show up to find out about.

If you'd like to submit your story for consideration for our last semifinal reading, on May 25, please do so by the end of the month, guys. Submission guidelines here.

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Big Expansion in the Works for Red Hook Gallery Kidd Yellin?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 10:33 AM

Future Red Hook art center?
  • Future Red Hook art center?

The Brooklyn gallery scene grows (and retracts) in spurts, and with this weekend's reopening of Cinders Gallery in a bigger space and news that Red Hook gallery and studio complex Kidd Yellin has bought a very large building down the block, seems safe to say that we're in one of those periods of expansion.

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Photos from Cinders Gallery's Resurrection and Reopening

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 9:46 AM

The new Cinders space is much larger than the old, and painted completely white.
  • The new Cinders space is much larger than the old, and painted completely white.

Faced with an immense rent increase Cinders Gallery co-founders Kelie Bowman and Sto left their Havemeyer Street space last December, vowing to reopen in the neighborhood soon-ish. That turned out to be very soon: last week they announced the reopening two corners away at 28 Marcy Avenue, and on Saturday night they inaugurated the big, new space.

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Contaminated Former Gas Station in Williamsburg to Become Diner

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 8:57 AM

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A triangular lot in Williamsburg, bordered by Borinquen Place and Keap and Grand streets, used to be a gas station. For the last four years, it has sat empty; Mayor Bloomberg called it "a vacant eyesore dragging down the neighborhood's image and property values." Because former industrial sites like this one are usually contaminated, developers are wary of building on them for liability reasons, or don't want to invest in expensive clean-ups. The city has 7,000 acres of such undeveloped land, the Daily News reported. But not for long!

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Closure Imminent, Mars Bar Gets Condo Camouflage Photo-Mural

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 4:27 PM

(Photo from Roger_Paw)
  • (Photo from Roger_Paw)

As Mark noted back in December, perennial East Village dive Mars Bar at East 1st Street and Second Avenue will soon shutter so its building can be replaced by a twelve-story condo. With Mars' end approaching (rumors say June), local blogger Roger_Paw noticed yesterday that an artist was pasting the bar's façade with versions of its future self: a giant mural image of glassy condos. More views, with the anonymous artist, after the jump.

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Shoot the Geek: Photos from the Doctor Who Premiere Party at the Bell House

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Doctor Who premiere party at the Bell House in Brooklyn

The walls of the Bell House were adorned in fezzes, bowties and Stetson hats and the space looked awfully big (but still crowded) yesterday as Doctor Who fans were invited to the premiere of the show's sixth season, the first episode of which was filmed here in the States—hence the Stetson hats. BBC America and Secret Formula threw a special party, complete with trivia, impersonations, drink specials (anyone in the mood for a sonic screwdriver?), and costume contests, and we were there taking photos of the epic geek-out.

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British Street Artist Sweet Toof Paints Toothy Mural in Bushwick

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 2:54 PM

(Courtesy BruceLabounty802/Flickr)
  • (Courtesy BruceLabounty802/Flickr)

The Bushwick gallery Factory Fresh continues to import top-shelf international street art stars. Last year brought Roa from Belgium, and next on the schedule is London's Sweet Toof (not to be confused with Angeleno Shark Toof), who just finished the above contribution to the gallery's mural project on Vandervoort Place.

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Your Earth Day (and Deepwater Horizon Anniversary) Performance Art Video

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Ok, so this performance by Liberate Tate happened on April 20th, the first anniversary of the BP oil rig Deepwater Horizon's explosion and leak in the Gulf of Mexico, in the classical sculpture galleries of the London museum (which is heavily BP-branded and -sponsored), but it seems an equally fitting/depressing video for today, which is Earth Day.

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Tribeca 2011: Iceland Goes for the Protest Vote in Gnarr

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 1:19 PM

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You know how most documentaries frame their subjects with excessive expository talking-head and recent-historical recap montages? Gnarr is the exact, dizzy-making opposite: a behind-the-scenes look at an election held last spring, from a country where the phone book is alphabetized by first name. Director Gaukur Úlfarsson cuts scenes short and jumps about as if filling in the negative space around public appearances everybody in the audience remembers—many of the jokes seem to rely on shorthand for either the setup or the punchline, and it takes a while to figure out that the candidate’s flightily sane handler isn’t his wife. But with a hook like this, very little is lost in translation: the film’s subject is Jon Gnarr, the Icelandic professional comedian who formed his own political party, filed the necessary papers to run for Mayor of Reykjavik because “you can get a salary and use the city’s summer house,” and then, almost inexorably, began to win.

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The French Revolution As Miasmic Noir in Reign of Terror

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 12:26 PM

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Tomorrow night at 92YTribeca, the fine folks at Not Coming to a Theater Near You present Anthony Mann's Reign of Terror (1949).

How to characterize this underseen, historical-espionage demi-noir except as the bad seed baby borne from an unholy alliance, after sharp-eyed noiriste Anthony Mann, Satanic-pact cinematographer John P. Alton and crazy arch-modernist designer William Cameron Menzies got together to reinvent the French Revolution and the Great Terror and ended up with something like a mutant Welles movie? Or think of them as the Robespierre, Saint-Just and Marat of B-movies in extremis after WWII, treating history like a guillotinable royal, and restoring noir reflexes to their forgotten Gothic roots.

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Tribeca 2011: Grave Encounters' Fucked-Up Mindfreak

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 11:34 AM

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The abandoned mental institution-compound that provides the setting for Grave Encounters, a haunted hospital horror head-scratcher, is not merely possessed in the traditional sense. Yes, monstrous spirits do eventually appear, terrorizing and picking off our cast of heroes. But the buildings themselves seem alive—the characters become trapped in a living maze, where floor plans adjust by the moment, obeying only nightmare illogic.

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So So Glo Guitarist Back On the Streets After Brief Arrest

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 10:42 AM

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Ryan Levine, guitarist for the So So Glos, was arrested on Wednesday night and spent roughly 18 hours in jail. Between the four members, they now have six arrests—three of them just for drummer Zach Staggers—and have spent over 120 hours in jail. We got in touch with Staggers to find out what happened.

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