Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Whitney Museum Posts Self-Reformative 95 Theses

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 3:39 PM

The Whitney as Martin Luther. Soon to be played by Forest Whitaker.
  • The Whitney as Martin Luther. Soon to be played by Forest Whitaker.

A latter-day secular Martin Luther of sorts has nailed some incendiary, disputatio-ready claims to the door of the Whitney Museum of American Art—while posing, no less, as the institution of critique itself.

Indeed, certain individuals from the arts-related branches of Occupy Wall Street—employing, much like Martin Luther and his supporters, the swiftest communicative forms to date—sent around a very curious, very self-critical, a bit self-flattering, significantly OWS-endorsing and, of course, rather completely false press release yesterday.

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Williamsburg's Sawdust Factory To House New Music Venue With Lofty Ambitions

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 2:22 PM

It looks like Williamsburg will be adding a new concert venue to its already well-stocked roster. The New York Observer and Wall Street Journal report that an abandoned building on North Sixth Street and Berry (formerly a sawdust factory, later a production center for fish tank pebbles) is being converted into one man's vision of a "perfect music space." Kevin Dolan, an organist, as well as former senior vice president and tax attorney at Merrill Lynch, is working with architecture firm Bureau V and acoustic engineering group Arup to retrofit the sawdust factory into an “A-to-Z support structure” for music-making, including a venue and a restaurant.

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Polished to a Gleam: An Interview With Nite Jewel

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 1:13 PM


Los Angeles synth artist Ramona Gonzalez had been a poster girl for modern lo-fi, at least up until now. Her Nite Jewel project has several notably hazy releases. She's a close associate of Ariel Pink, and married to his Haunted Graffiti collaborator Cole MGN. But the smooth pop found on this year's One Second of Love is changing that perception a bit. The record's title track is probably the best thing she's ever recorded, keeping her skewed electronic aesthetic, but making it sound more electrically in the moment. To properly capture the record's fuller sound, Gonzalez is touring the country for the first time with a full band, and ditching the prominent use of the backing tracks she's had to rely on for previous performances.

We talked with Gonzalez, Ahead of her headlining show at Bowery Ballroom tonight, about why she doesn't consider her sound "soft," the joy of collaborating creatively with a spouse, the pitfalls of modern home-recording, and the decision to stop including "all that weird shit" in her songs.

The L Magazine: In writing about your music or talking about your music, people often associate it with softness. You see the words “soft-light,” “soft-focus,” “soft-rock.” Is “softness” a concept that you are actively interested in?

Ramona Gonzalez: Softness? I’ve never actually heard that before.

Well, “soft-focus” is a description that's often used. I’ve read you, yourself talk about doing homages to “soft-rock.” I just wonder if softness is a thing you think about in making your music?

I don’t think so. I mean, I’ve always tried to not be soft in a way. To not be ultra-feminine in a soft way, as a person. So it’s never really been my goal. I mean I know soft rock has that word in it, but it also has “rock” in it, you know? It’s not like I’m making folk music, or girly fairy music. So I guess I don’t identify with it that much, and if it happens it’s sort of an accident.

With this latest record being sharper, for lack of a better word, than your other releases, is it you finally being able to achieve the sound that you’ve always wanted to do, or just a matter of drawing on different, distinct influences?

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Brooklyn D.A. Explains His Refusal to Name Orthodox Sex Abuse Suspects

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 12:20 PM

Late last year, Brooklyn D.A. Charles Hynes announced that over the past three years, his department had arrested 85 Orthodox Jewish men and women for sex-related crimes, including crimes against children, but refused to release the suspects' names. He would not even name the 14 people who had been found guilty of crimes and sentenced.

After continued press inquiry, including a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Jewish Daily Forward, Hynes's office released a statement today to the Forward to explain his continued withholding of information.

“The circumstances here are unique,” Assistant District Attorney Morgan Dennehy wrote in an April 16 letter to the Forward. “Because all of the requested defendant names relate to Hasidic men who are alleged to have committed sex crimes against Hasidic victims within a very tight-knit and insular Brooklyn community, there is a significant danger that the disclosure of the defendants’ names would lead members of that community to discern the identities of the victims.”

In fact, the insularity of these communities has been one of the challenges for law enforcement in prosecuting sex crimes within them, which is why, three years ago, the Kol Tzedek or "Voice of Justice" program was created. The goal of Kol Tzedek was to provide a way for victims of sex crimes to come forward without being ostracized by their communities, and to create networks between rabbis and law enforcement in a culturally-sensitive way. Hynes credits Kol Tzedek with the high number of arrests over the last there years, and cites concerns about compromising the program as another reason not to disclose suspect names:

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Has Walmart Blown It in NYC?

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Too bad!
  • Too bad!
Over the weekend, the Times published a whopping 8,000 words charging Walmart executives with systematically bribing Mexican officials and then covering it up. "The question is whether it will be fatal to [the company's] plans here," Crain's columnist Greg David writes. "The answer is likely to be yes."

Walmart has been jonesing to open a store within the five boroughs—most likely in Brooklyn—since at least April 2010. The company has the support of the mayor, who has "been a big supporter of the government not telling people where they can do business," but it has sworn enemies in labor unions and the city council.

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Here Is A Video Of Jack White's Liquid-Filled 12" From Record Store Day

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 10:38 AM

It seems that liquid-filled products tend to go over really well or really poorly. Waterbeds: fun for five seconds, then mostly a terrible idea. Fruit Gushers: genius. Jack White's liquid-filled 12" release of "Sixteen Saltines" for Record Store Day? Well, it appears to work on the turntable, makes squishy-squelchy plopping noises when turned upside down, and the powers of centripetal force shape the liquid into a blue ring around the center of the vinyl when spinning. Last month, representatives from the Third Man Records camp down in Nashville held up the record for all of Youtube to see, but we much prefer this video of a couple taking their "Sixteen Saltines" Record Store Day release home and fawning over it like a brand new, slightly eccentric baby. Check it out after the jump.

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Refused Played a Secret Show in Bushwick Last Night

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 9:46 AM

Only hours after presumably kicking ass at the spacious Terminal 5, recently reunited Swedish hardcore punk legends Refused played the slightly smaller DIY space The Acheron in Bushwick. As in, can’t fit more than roughly 120 people, and now I hate myself for not being on Twitter and hearing about it.

Piecing together tweets from throughout and after the show, I can firmly say that the show was: “#amazing.” Another relevant Twitter update: “Skipping the ‘secret’ refused show at Acheron to go to sleep.” Good stuff there. According to setlist.fm, Refused’s set began with a cover of Earth Crisis’ “Firestorm,” followed by much of 1998 classic The Shape of Punk to Come, with “Rather Be Dead” and “Coup D'État,” both from 1996’s Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent, making appearances, too.

And now I hate myself even more. Here are some pictures, via Twitter:

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Hammer-Wielding Brooklyn Rapist Arrested

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 8:58 AM

Sketches of the suspect
  • Sketches of the suspect
A man accused of using a hammer to sexually assault and attempt to sexually assault two women in central Brooklyn earlier this month has been arrested, the Post reports. Queens Village-resident Anthony Moore, 19, was arrested yesterday afternoon in Elmont, just over the Queens-Nassau County border, as he was following a woman; he had a hammer in his backpack.

Moore is accused of hitting an 18-year-old woman in the head with a hammer in Bed-Stuy after midnight on April 9, after which he forced her to perform oral sex on him in an alley near Monroe Street. The next attack occurred fewer than 12 hours later, when he allegedly used a hammer on a 22-year-old woman in Brownsville, who fought him off as he sought to assault her in the lobby of her apartment building, the Fort Greene Patch reports.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Is City Air Pollution Making Kids Obese?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Trucks at Hunts Point in the South Bronx.
  • nypa.gov
  • Trucks at Hunts Point in the South Bronx.
Just as two studies called into question the long-assumed connection between access to fresh food in poor urban neighborhoods and obesity last week, more research has highlighted another link—air pollution.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health analyzed data from 702 non-smoking pregnant women from low-income areas in North Manhattan and the South Bronx who wore a machine in a backpack for two days during their third trimester to measure the quality of surrounding air. Scientists found that the children of the women who had been exposed to high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (or PAHs) were nearly twice as likely to be obese by age 5 than the children of women exposed to lower levels, and 2.26 times as likely to be obese by age 7.

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U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Rent Regulation Case

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 3:39 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court declined today to hear a case about the constitutionality of rent regulations in New York City, the New York Times reports. The case was brought by two owners of an Upper West Side brownstone near Central Park who charged that such a law subjected them to the "unconstitutional burden of involuntarily and permanently renting a part of their residence to tenant-strangers whom the [landlords] must subsidize for the rest of their lives." Half of the six apartments they rent out in their building, whose lower floors the two occupy, are rent-stabilized, which means there are limits on how much the owners can raise the rent and that tenants can essentially renew their leases indefinitely.

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Zito's Sandwich to Open Coney Outpost

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Zito's Sandwich Shoppe in Park Slope opened late last year and quickly became a beloved neighborhood fixture for its old-school-yet-nuovo approach to the sandwich: like the chopped meat in your rice balls to come from a century-old butcher shop in East Harlem? And your bread to come from a renowned Bensonhurst bakery? But also want your roast beef braised in local beer, and your sandwich shoppes to be lighted by Edison bulbs? Have we got a meatball parm spot for you. Or, maybe make that two spots?

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What Cornell City Campus? NYU To Open Research Institute In Downtown Brooklyn, So There

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 2:02 PM

A rendering of the institutes common area.
  • www.nyu.edu
  • A rendering of the institute's common area.
NYU may not technically be part of the Ivy League, but NYU still gets what NYU wants. The New York Times reports that the university is set to open an applied sciences program with a consortium of participating institutions in Downtown Brooklyn, (right around the corner from us here at The L Mag) at 370 Jay Street. Cornell University won the city competition to build an applied sciences center on Roosevelt Island, but NYU struck a deal of its own and plans to start classes with the Center for Urban Science and Progress as early as fall 2013.

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Cramming Into (Onto?) Cloud Nine

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 1:10 PM

At the opening of Cloud Nine, at Front Room Gallery in Williamsburg. In the background, a painting by Lorella Palani.
  • At the opening of Cloud Nine, at Front Room Gallery in Williamsburg. In the background, a painting by Lorella Palani.

A thick crowd of circumstantially idling revelers packed so tightly into Front Room Gallery on Friday night for the opening of Cloud Nine, a large group exhibit curated by Larry Walczak, that the socio-spatial effect was one of generally endothermic stasis, perhaps a bit like a full jar of brine-bathed hearts of palm stalks under a heat lamp. That is of course not an uncommon outcome, so to speak, for an art opening, bit it was interesting given that the crammed throng had agglomerated for an exhibit devoted to "visual interpretations of the concept of 'ecstasy'." Had the room's contents gotten much closer to critical mass, the exhibit's theme might have been physically interpreted as well—to the imaginable detriment of the artwork. Perhaps I didn't stay long enough to witness such an explosive end to the festivities.

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Legalize It: The Surprising Upside of the Colombia Secret Service Sex Scandal

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 12:25 PM

When the news of the recent Secret Service sex scandal broke—if you haven't been following the story, some Secret Service officers refused to pay the Colombian sex workers they hired the agreed-upon fee—a lot of the sex people and sex worker publications I read were saying "See? This is why we have to legalize sex work here." In America, if someone promised you $800 for a night of work and tried to give you $30, going to the cops would not be an option.

I didn't exactly expect to see such a smart, reasonable response in the mainstream press, though. The discourse around sex and sex work in the US can get pretty ugly, pretty fast. Remember Melissa Petro, the teacher fired for being open about her sex worker past? Anyway, so I was pleased and surprised to come across this ABC piece today. It has some great quotes from smart people, including Sienna Baskin from the Sex Workers Project:

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When It Comes To The Gowanus, NYC Just Isn't Taking Shit Seriously

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 11:37 AM

That is...exactly what you think it is.
  • That is...exactly what you think it is.
It's been a little more than two years since the Environmental Protection Agency named Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal a Superfund site, its highest toxic honor. But it still seems that city officials and the federal government are bickering over how to tackle clean up, especially when it comes to the city's longstanding problem of sewage overflow. Despite the feds highlighting raw sewage and street runoff in the canal as a major source of its toxic sludge, city officials are shaking their heads and denying responsibility, reports the Daily News.

“The [sewer overflows] are really not what’s contaminating the canal with chemicals,” the Department of Environmental Protection's Eileen Mahoney told the Daily News.

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The Permanent Collection: 11 Songs (and a Couple Full Albums) You Should Listen to Today

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 10:45 AM

With Record Store Day now come and gone, its thrills, disappointments, and price gouges distributed in equal measure, today is a different sort of celebration. It's the day we reckon with our inability to snag coveted slabs of vinyl. The day we listen to our unrequited loves, now universally uploaded online, and get over it. We might need a "Boxing Day" or "Cyber Monday"-like name for it as a distinct adjunct to the manufactured commercial holiday we've all come to love? But what?? "You Tube-embed Monday" isn't so snappy. "St. Sound Cloud's Day" is a little lofty, maybe. "Listening to Music in Your House Without Having to Venture Out into the World to Support Struggling, Kind of Anachronistic, but Culturally Vital Institutions Day" is pretty grim (and also pretty much every Monday).

We'll keep work-shopping options. In the meantime...

St. Vincent - "Krokodil" & "Grot"

We've talked about this song twice in a week already, once in reference to a Coachella-stealing stage dive, and once in anticipation of its RSD release. Now that the 7"s have been sold out and the thing itself is online, it deserves one last mention, because it's one of the best singles we've heard all year. It's brutal, sure. The alternate spelling places its subject matter as being about the cheap, Russian crack-version of heroin that gives you human lizard scales with extended use. But you can almost hear Annie Clark smiling behind that megaphone filter as she thrashes into the chorus. The guitar tone here is a candied pop version of an industrial sound, recalling the sickly pinks and blues on the cover of Pretty Hate Machine. Destined to be a live favorite, greatest hit, what have you.

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G Train Extension Has Boosted Ridership

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 8:58 AM

On an average weekday, almost 5,000 extra commuters used several stations along the extended G line in 2011 than they did in 2008, the year before the route traveled farther south of Smith-Ninth Street to Church Avenue, the Brooklyn Paper reports. Ridership at Seventh Avenue was up more than 17 percent, almost 16 percent at Fourth Avenue, and more than 12 percent at Church Avenue, according to MTA figures, while it was down almost four percent at Ditmas Avenue, the first station south of the G's new terminus. (Ridership was down at 15th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway, too, but both stations had months-long closures.)

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Tribeca 2012: Rubberneck

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 at 8:08 PM

Is this a masterwork of emotional suppression, or just emotionless? Alex Karpovsky, best known as a favorite supporting player of popular young indie directors, directs his third film, a slow-boil character study that flirts with genre. Is it a psychological thriller? Well, until it finally (finally!) boils over, it's more like an anti-thriller, a workaday portrait of a scientist who drunkenly hooks up once with a coworker and, months later, is still secretly obsessing over her. Karpovsky stars, too, as this psychopath; usually the comically smug and shaggy friend in films by directors like Lena Dunham or Andrew Bujalski (you guys, he's in Girls!), here he casts himself against type—clean cut and bespectacled, unsmiling, his social awkwardness not a quirk but actually a symptom of severe mental illness.

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Patinas and Memories in Andrew Hurst's Solo Show at English Kills

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 at 5:17 PM

The Adjustable Future, mixed media, 50x70x20, 2012.
  • The Adjustable Future, mixed media, 50"x70"x20", 2012.

Andrew Hurst's always engaging, often absolutely arresting collage and assemblage artworks challenge one to define them, to place them in fitting contexts, to dimensionalize them—no matter how beside the point such definitions and categorizations might be. It is an exploratory challenge, at root. One of peering into layers until imagined peelings reveal deeper footings. It is also a largely rewarding venture. You are there, the strata are there, go to work.

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Brooklyn Bridge Park Wins $40 Million In Funding From Cycling Enthusiast

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 at 4:10 PM

In the largest contribution ever given to a city park, Joshua Rechnitz, a competitive cyclist, donated $40 million to Brooklyn Bridge Park on Thursday, report the Daily News and the New York Times. The funds come with the expectation of a giant, 115,000 foot recreation center near Pier 5 that will house a cycling racetrack (a velodrome) and various other sport facilities. In addition to Rechnitz' gift, State Senator Daniel Squadron announced that the City would commit to $66.5 million towards the park.

The news follows last month's announcement that the park would be receiving a three-and-a-half foot deep swimming pool in July, funded by a deal over condo construction within the park's borders. As a result of that deal, the city obtained $750,000 for a much-wanted, temporary sports "bubble," but the project fell through last October when it couldn't find a developer to carry out the rest.

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