BEST BUSHWICK-BASED INTERNET RADIO STATION PROMOTING LOCAL BANDS AND LOCAL CAUSES
Over at newtownradio.com
, you can hear songs by Blur, Panda Bear, MINKS
, Best Coast
, The Cure, Robyn, Blank Dogs and Huey Lewis & the News all in one sitting (we just did). Since its launch in April, a small team of volunteers has scraped away the Arcade Fires
from the catalog and dug deeper, mixing in live studio sessions, broadcasts from local shows, interviews with bands, real live DJs, and, in conjunction with the Newtown Creek Alliance, efforts to clean up its grossly polluted namesake. Read an interview with co-founder Mark Brinda here.
to Hate Developers
The closing of BKLYN Yard
Over the course of three summers, the folks at MeanRed Productions had built a mini paradise on the banks of the less-than-exotic Gowanus Canal. On the cusp of another season jam-packed with concerts, BBQs, pig roasts and DJ parties at the empty lot known as BKLYN Yard
, they were notified by their landlord that their lease would no longer be honored, forcing an abrupt end. Uh, Senator Schumer?
Best Volunteer Organization Where We Imagine the Words "Community" and "Transformative Power of Rock Shows" get Tossed Around a Lot
The Market Hotel Project
After a police raid forced the Market Hotel
to shut its doors this spring, the future of the all-ages underground venue looked bleak. But leave it to Todd P to build a non-profit initiative to re-open the space, making it bigger, better, and a bedrock for the Brooklyn DIY community. And legal too.
Most Important Local Recording Studio
Rare Book Room
Through a stream of traffic that's included top-notch indie acts like the Dirty Projectors, Deerhunter, Ted Leo and Animal Collective, plus local favorites like Talk Normal, Small Black and Grooms
, Rare Book Room
has become the default studio for New York bands over the past few years. General rule of thumb If you're a band in Brooklyn and you're any good, you record under the watchful eye of Nicolas Vernhes at Rare Book. If you record out of town, then you come home and finish it up at Rare Book.
Best Way to Build Hype
for a Show
a year in advance
Remember when Pavement tickets went on sale last September
—as in September 2009? Eleven months down, one more to go.
Best Upstart Record Label That Not Enough People Are Talking About
The current glut of music coming out of Brooklyn has also made it a hotbed for labor-of-love record labels There's Twin Sister's Infinite Best
, Matador imprint True Panther
, and Grizzly Bear-endorsed Terrible Records
, to name a few, but the silent warrior award goes to twosyllable
. Without much fanfare, Zach Pollakoff and Brian Kerr have put out a string of underrated albums by the likes of Björk-bowing Bell, Grizzly Bear contemporaries Inlets, and one of the better beach bands out there today, Holiday Shores.
Best Venue That Stopped Hosting Bands Without Anyone Ever Seeming
Modeled after 20th-century European spiegeltents ("tent of mirrors"), this traveling pop-up performance space had set up a NYC residency at the South Street Seaport for a number of summers. Its old-world carny vibe mixed with haunted house-like surrealism made for a unique, intimate setting for bands like the Dodos, Madeleine Peyroux, the Felice Brothers and O'Death. Chalk it up to the recession or competition from so many other summer concert series, but Spiegeltent
hasn't hosted bands in New York since 2008. This sucks.
Best Excuse to Buy Lots of Silk-Screened Band of Horses T-Shirts
Insound Warehouse Sales
When Greenpoint-based music retailer Insound
opens its office doors every few months for patrons to rummage through merchandise that's normally only available online, we're like kids in a candy store. No shipping & handling fees! Sales! Silk-screened posters! Band t-shirts! Vinyl! Immediate gratification! We're all about brick-and-mortar music stores, but we're also all about free beer, and Insound warehouse sales have that too.
Best Interactive Public Artwork
You are in Union Square with a friend and it is summertime. Your friend walks across the Center Lawn to a group of white fiberglass pedestals and stands on a hunk that reads "The Guiltiest One," making a frowny face as you snap a photo. You have just participated in Eleven Heavy Things
, Miranda July's art installation. Doesn't it feel good to take part in something?
Best Provocative Public Artwork
Though intended as a scavenger hunt with statues straddling the skyline around Madison Square Park and from 14th Street up to the Empire State Building, the silhouettes perched precariously on ledges invariably made for many suicide scares. The Gormley sculptures that aren't sky high still scandalized some: prudish tourists couldn't deal with their penises and pert buttocks.
Most Fun Interactive Public Artwork
Seriously: Step into the PS1 courtyard and try not to shake the swaying windsurfing masts, stretching the suspended net and sending neon-toned exercise balls bouncing into each other and tumbling into the central pool. Try to keep off the hammocks and out of the sand; try not to cool off under the embedded misters and compose an ambient symphony with the audio sensor-equipped poles. Resistance is futile: the fun is infectious.
Best Illegal Public Artwork
Granted, there's an app for this, but for all the analog urbanites who sometimes get turned around in the labyrinthine underground tunnels—it's okay, it happens to the most intrepid of us, no need to feel ashamed—it's nice to find one of these inconspicuous stenciled compasses at the top of the subway staircase for quick reorientation. To whoever is behind this guerrilla campaign: Please do Grand Army Plaza next.
Best Street Artist(s)
Brand-name street art stars like Shepard Fairey, Banksy and lesser fanboy Mr. Brainwash rolled onto New York City walls recently, but none had the sustained, successful or seriously enjoyable impact as shadowy street sign-substituting locals TrustoCorp. We first noticed them right outside our offices in Dumbo in the dead of winter with colorful, comic signage reminding us that "Life Is Too Short" and "It's Okay to Play With Yourself," and since then we've followed their signs to sarcastic grocery store items, a credit card debt memorial, and even their first gallery show. Happily, they still show no sign of selling out.
Best Use of Newspapers
Long-dead world leaders reappeared in Sarah Charlesworth's text-free black and white print series, Herald Tribune, November 1977
, at the Guggenheim's Haunted
exhibition. The long line of front pages with only the photos present induces a creeping melancholia in text-loving art patrons who will continue to wring their hands and lament the death of print.
Best Open Studios
Other studio-dense districts like Long Island City, Gowanus, Red Hook and Sunset Park can't compete with the spectacular quantity and quality of the art being produced in converted warehouses beyond East Williamsburg. Nor does any other â�‚��œhood have a group quite like Arts in Bushwick to get everyone coordinated for a massive one-weekend art party. We just hope next year's BOS isn't totally swamped with tourists after the Times
just declared Bushwick "arguably the coolest place on the planet," which is true, but did you have to go and tell everyone?
Best Young Artist We Lost
On May 30th, not quite a year after the death of Dash Snow—another young and ascendant artist with a sharp sense of humor who barely maintained a blurry line between his art and his life—the conceptual artist and designer Tobias Wong was found dead of an apparent suicide in his East Village apartment. He had a fondness for turning sleek design objects into absurd sculptures, perhaps most famously by unveiling a Philippe Starck Bubble Club chair that he'd turned into a lamp before the original design had been released. Such so-called "readydesigneds" exemplified his invaluably creative and critical practice.
Best Old Artist We Lost
The snarky and sharp-witted French sculptress lived to see her superb career retrospective at the Guggenheim in 2008, and then went on producing dozens of new sculptures and works on paper, and hosting her salons for young artists in her Chelsea townhouse well into her 99th year before dying on May 31st. After coming to prominence in the 70s, Bourgeois stood apart from the art world's trends and movements, forging a singular, very personal and intimate but no less affecting aesthetic. Now, whenever we see a spider, we imagine it's Louise keeping an eye on us.
Best Gallery We Lost
Almost exactly a year after opening in the charmingly raw ground floor warehouse space at 28 Marcy Avenue, Catharine Ahearn closed her gallery with the aptly titled and sneakily upbeat exhibition Clean Break
. She made the most of Charlie Horse's 11 or so months, especially when it came to promoting the work of New York City artists who weren't getting shows at other locals-oriented Brooklyn galleries. Such is the fate of DIY galleries in Williamsburg, it would seem.
Best New(ish) Gallery
In January, Jeffrey Deitch took a museum directorship in L.A. and announced
plans to close his Soho gallery, Deitch Projects, prompting everyone to speculate what might happen to the city's hottest roster of young artists. Happily, Deitch director Kathy Grayson
rounded up enough of them to move the whole art star-minting operation a few blocks north to 107 Greene Street. There, if the inaugural exhibition is any indication, things will continue to be ambitiously and irreverently fun.
Best New Brooklyn Gallery
Amidst all the DIY spaces and makeshift exhibitions, a small set of gallerists are beginning to create opportunities for Bushwick-based artists to reach larger audiences without going to Chelsea's gallery mall. Since October Ellen Letcher and Kevin Regan's comfy semi-basement space at 1673 Gates Avenue (technically in Ridgewood according to certain maps) has played host to a series of excellent and creatively installed shows, a tag sale of industrial music legend Genesis Breyer P-Orridge's belongings, and a new show that involves crawling through a giant tunnel (August 7-September 4). Honorable Mentions: Storefront, 99% Gallery, Pandemic Gallery.
Best Pop-Up Gallery
Heist Gallery in Gutted Madison Avenue Bank
Though it proved to be one of the tiny Lower East Side gallery's last shows (RIP), those who ventured to this random spot on Madison Avenue in the lower 30s in the middle of winter were rewarded with Quick While Still
, a stunning show of large-scale works on canvas. Superb paintings by the likes of Wendy White and Matt Jones enriched the former financial institution's bare walls. Honorable Mention: No Longer Empty's
Never Can Say Goodbye at the former Tower Records.
Best Art Fair
Gallerists Elizabeth Dee and Darren Flook's idea to fill the former Dia Art Center building with an art fair during Armory Week made so much sense. Why trek to Pier 92 and pay exorbitant admission to overdose on art when you could go to West Chelsea and pay nothing to see a more manageable and, on balance, much better set of artists in a much nicer environment? Visitors needing a break could flop down in Ryan Trecartin's prison-like living room video installation, or play a set on Rirkrit Tiravanija's stainless steel ping pong table.
Best Stunt Directing
Upstart GM Peter Gelb has begun bringing non-traditional talents to the Metropolitan Opera to spice things up a bit, lest the Lincoln Center house become just a museum of Franco Zeffirelli sets. The most successful of these experiments was bringing in South African artist Kentridge (who simultaneously enjoyed a retrospective at MoMA
) to helm Shostakovitch's ultra-modern The Nose
. Kentridge went all out, practically inventing a new medium by fusing collage, sculpture, video, and animation with opera's traditional forms music and theater. It was the season's most audacious theater—well, uptown, anyway.
Worst Stunt Directing
Silence of the Lambs
and Rachel Getting Married
director Demme tried his hand at theater with Family Week
in May, and boy was it middling: Rachel
's greatest strength was the warm rapport between its cast, but the actors in Week
always felt like caricatures banging against each other rather than, you know, characters in conflict. Add to that Demme's reliance on easy musical cues, short scenes, "cuts" and other out-of-place techniques borrowed from the language of film, and you had one seriously overhyped letdown.
Best New York Debut
In The Pride
, a confused but serviceable play, Ben Whishaw was so magnetic and such an exciting stage creature that we can only hope he comes back to the New York stage sooner rather than later, in more modern plays and also in the classics that John Gielgud once made his own. Whishaw would make a spectacular Richard II.
Worst-Ever Rendition of "Send in the Clowns":
Catherine Zeta-Jones at the Tonys
On stage, Catherine Zeta-Jones delivered a decent performance as Desiree in a revival of A Little Night Music
, but when she sang "Send in the Clowns" on the Tony Awards broadcast, she embellished the familiar tune with so many weird stares, angry gasps, over-enunciated consonants and wildly over-the-top emotions that when she subsequently won the Tony for Best Actress in a musical, New York theater actors were understandably up-in-arms.
Most Prolific Performer
It's no wonder he received
a Sustained Achievement Obie for all his work this year the poised, high-pitched and putty-faced performer just about did it all since donning drag to play the sinister Other Mother in the Coraline
musical last summer (for which he also wrote the book). He revived his marathon multi-character one-man show, The Myopia
, wielded an iPhone as a Greek Goddess in the po-mo Euripides update Rescue Me
, and wisecracked about slovenly novelists as a literary agent in The Metal Children
. Amazingly, he left us wanting more.
Best Swedo-Australian Collaboration in Brooklyn
Suck it, Manhattan! The year's hottest show, BAM's Streetcar
, with Cate Blanchett, forced the "won't go to Brooklyn in ermine and pearls" crowd to cross a bridge to see actors who'd taken a plane from Australia perform in a play directed by Liv Ullman, who'd traveled from Sweden (presumably by oceanliner), proving that Brooklyn really is the crossroads of the world. The arts world, anyway.
This was sooooo awkward On opening night of the Bridge Project's Sam Mendes-directed Tempest
at BAM, Dillane (Prospero) managed to recover from one flub as he recalled a childhood story for his daughter Miranda (Juliet Rylance), but later in the scene he went blank, starring into his sandpit and rubbing his temples for what seemed like ages. It got so bad that Rylance, blindfolded and reaching randomly for her father, stopped, lifted her bandana and offered to help. By then someone in the front row had already shouted Dillane's line for him.
Best Awkwardly Realistic Projectile Vomiting On Stage
Easily the best part of this overwritten period pastiche about drug-doers and dealers in 70s Brooklyn, Segal's Billy was blissfully tight-lipped, perpetually on the verge of overdosing as he writhed and slunk across the stage. When he opened his mouth, the comic relief burst forth with a tinge of sadness and desperation, or, in one scene, with full-body convulsions and what looked like waffles.
Best Awkwardly Realistic Orgasm On Stage
In the 60s-set section of Jonathan Reynolds's triptych, buddies Hutch (Gershenzon) and Teddy (Aresco) are driving Barb (Lippitt) to have an illegal abortion when she interrupts the college boys' bromantic banter with doubts and second thoughts. Hutch, the would-be father, takes her to the side of the road and shows her how much he likes her while Teddy watches from the car, masturbating. Their coordinated climaxes were the closest thing to a successful threesome we've seen at the theater in much too long.
Best Broadway Prop
It's a Martin McDonagh play, so you know it's going to be violent, but it was still a bit of a shock when Christopher Walken's suitcase in A Behanding in Spokane
spilled open to reveal dozens of severed hands—of all shapes, colors and sizes (including "child"!). Like everything else in McDonagh's oeuvre, it was hilarious, and horrifying. At the same time.
Best Use of Newspapers
Piles of newspapers co-starred alongside Nerve Tank's small ensemble as perfectly malleable symbols of disposable knowledge for this experimental journey into media-saturated information-age absurdity. The papers proved their range, beginning in orderly stacks before blowing around the beautiful Brooklyn Lyceum basement like so many tumbleweeds, burying one performer alive before erupting in a stormy cloud and drifting off into the audience's feet like dead leaves.
Best Butterfly Love Dance to Make You Cry
Just before it struck out with Banana Shpeel
, Cirque du Soleil scored with the all-about-bugs Ovo
at Randall's Island
; it was your standard Cirque, packed with expert clowning and stunning feat after stunning feat. But the show's highlight didn't just impress me: it made me cry. A corde lisse/aerial silk routine between two "butterflies" made gloriously literal the idea that love sends you flying. Oh, and that trust between partners is, like, really important.
Best Performance on a Decommissioned Coast Guard Vessel
Woodshed Collective's amazing multi-track, split-narrative, meta-fictional journey through the life of Herman Melville and his novel The Confidence Man
led visitors across virtually every room, hall and deck on this romantically rusted old ship moored at Pier 40 on the Hudson. You could follow your appointed docent, but when it turned out that they were in on the act rather than impartial guides, running down gangways in fits of rage, the choose-your-own-adventure approach let visitors discover the superb play and place at their own pace.
FOOD AND DRINK
Best Place to Pig Out
Purple Yam, Ditmas Park
The Philippines was obsessed with pork
long before New Yorkers ever heard of the term "pork belly." Although chef Romy Dorotan's menu isn't entirely Filipino (it contains influences from all over Asia), it's clear he knows his way around a pig. Start out with lumpia Shanghai, crowd-pleasing fried spring rolls filled with pork, mushrooms, carrots and jicama. Sisig sees pig ears, cheeks and snout chopped up and served with lime and chilies, while the lechon kawali destroys your dreams of a slim waistline by deep-frying pork belly and pairing it with pickled papaya. Take that, arteries!
Best New Brooklyn Outdoor Scene
Hot Bird, CLINTON HILL
This Clinton Hill bar
was a hit from the week it opened, and it'll only get more popular once people learn that a food truck serving chili dogs, lobster rolls and more will be setting up shop outside. The spacious interior, a former body shop, is nice enough, but it's the yard out front that's the big draw. It's huge, isolated from complaining neighbors and packed with young Brooklynites sitting on picnic tables crowded with pitchers of craft beer (there are 12 different types on tap).
Best Place to Pretend You're Marty McFly
Hey, McFly! Are you looking for a way to get that 50s feeling, complete with chocolate egg creams, vintage decor and soda jerks? Well then head down to Brooklyn Farmacy
, run by the affable and always enthusiastic Petey Freeman. Aside from shakes and sundaes, the place also stocks all kinds of artisanal goods, candy and even organic produce. Musicians even occasionally pop in to play a set.
Best Makeshift Foodie
Red Hook Mercado
charmingly ramshackle market is reason enough to make the arduous trek to Red Hook. Every weekend it pops up like magic, located in an empty lot surrounded by verdant overgrown fences and red brick walls. Expect to see old Red Hook Ball Field favorites like Rafael Soler (pupusas) and Vendy Award-winner Fernando Martinez (tacos), plus gourmet corn dogs from Grindhaus and crazy flavors like Chicken 'n' Waffles from Allison and Matt of Robicelli's Cupcakes.
Best Unlikely Korean
Mrs. Kim's, Greenpoint
What was once the River Barrel Cafe became Mrs. Kim's
after chef Jonathan Meyer tasted owner Lisa Kim's cooking and decided to ditch the contemporary American menu for something more Korean. It's now something akin to upscale Korean comfort food Wagyu brisket bulgogi, grilled fava beans with fish sauce, house-made sausage topped with kimchi. Best of all, it's all served in a cute and cozy spot on charming Frankling Street in Greenpoint, where you can watch the people walk by as you sip a cold Captain Lawrence or a Dark and Stormy.
Best Place to Kick the Comfort Food Blues
Tired of gourmet burgers and 19th-century design schemes?
Enter chef Jason Marcus and his delightfully inventive
and decidedly un-kosher menu of small plates, including tender seared scallops on a bed of snap and English-pea risotto, lamb and chorizo meatballs and Thai chili-glazed calamari. The space is blissfully free of antique bric-a-brac and even has a beautiful backyard, half of which is devoted to a grassy lawn and leafy plants.
Best Catalyst to
Oh, it's just fried chicken, you'll say. Sure, it's juicy to the point of bursting and it comes with a buttery biscuit and one delicious side, but how often can someone eat here? Then it comes. The craving for the chicken biscuit with its intoxicating mix of spicy barbecue sauce and sweet, sticky honey. And for only $5! Collard greens, mac and cheese, chocolate peanut butter pie; soon you realize that you've been coming here weekly for the past few months and you've gained 10 pounds and, yes, it was worth it.
Best Casual Meet-Up Spot
It's 9pm. Half of you have eaten, half haven't. You don't know how many people are meeting you or when they are coming. What do you do? Head to The Commodore
, of course. The Pat LaFrieda burgers and fried chicken from Pies 'n' Thighs alum Stephen Tanner are some of the best in the neighborhood, especially for the price. Order from the bar, grab a Schlitz and chow down. Already eaten? Then just order a retro cocktail. Now everybody is happy.
BEST PLACE TO SELL
We went to Unnameable Books
when we needed money. We watched in fascination as the owner separated our books into two piles—want and don't want, giving us an instant picture of what the Brooklyn literary world is favoring (he touched no Michael Crichton
). When he had picked the books he wanted, we guessed their value at $400, and told him. He told us he would get $400 for selling them but you had to factor in rent and electricity and his staff and the fact that he had to eat, and ultimately he'd give us $180 for them and end up even broker than he already was. We took it. It's never a good time to sell books, but Unnameable makes it bearable.
We were working late on this magazine and so missed DeLillo
at BookCourt (his sole NYC appearance in conjunction with Point Omega
). Which means, despite what certain coworkers of ours have intimated, that it was not we who caused such a commotion by fainting at the very sight of him. We totally would have, though.
BEST REASON NOT TO
BUY A KINDLE
For less than the cost of an iRead or whatever, you can take a Letterpress class
at the Center for Book Arts, and learn to make your own gorgeous and irreplaceable book object.
Save NYC libraries
Save NYC Libraries
was able to convince Christine Quinn and the rest of the City Council to restore $61 million of the $77 million dollars slated to be cut from the budgets of the New York, Brooklyn and Queens public library systems, after a massive postcard campaign and publicity stunts like a 24-hour readathon drew widespread attention to the necessity of the institution—and to the utter stone foxiness of librarians everywhere.
's aggregator doesn't just go deeper into the internet than you have time to, in search of new perspectives and expert knowledge—it groups academic journals, criticism and reportage together in themed blog posts, arming confirmed dilettantes such as yourself (and us) with dozens of possible cocktail-party thrusts and parries.
BEST RESPONSE TO THE NEW YORKER'S "20 UNDER 40" LIST
Ten Over 80
The lit blog Ward Six's ostensibly less sexy "Ten Over 80
" list actually inspired far more heated debate about the worthy writers omitted (Peter Matthiessen!).
BEST MUSICAL SUBWAY PLATFORM
The Metropolitan G
The Church Avenue-bound side remains the homebase of the much-beloved Joe "Crow" Ryan (train solo!); there, you'll also often find a modest young man named Phillip Racz, pumping his accordion bellows and segueing from Radiohead's "No Surprises" into a haunting version of Angelo Badalamenti's classic theme from Twin Peaks
.�‚ When the G finally arrives, it sounds like Bob screeching through the woods. You reluctantly board the train, sit across from a peculiar lady cradling a log, and find yourself suddenly craving a slice of cherry pie.
BEST URBAN PLANNING
The Kent Ave Bike Lane
The development of the Williamsburg Waterfront has mostly been characterized by a flagrant disregard for the area's infrastructure and demographics, but Kent Avenue's two-way bike lane
is a beautiful, hopeful thing, opening up a previously forbidding industrial artery for communal leisure (especially the sports and live music at East River Park) and providing a valuable commuter channel connecting the 'Burg to the other side of the BQE.
BEST STORE AT WHICH TO BUY SKINTIGHT BOXER BRIEFS PRINTED IN ALL THE COLORS OF THE RAINBOW AND BEARING ACROSS THE WAISTBAND THE NAME OF A JOY OF SEX ILLUSTRATION-LOOKING SWEDISH TENNIS STAR OF THE LATE 70s AND EARLY 80s
The Björn Borg Store
Why, of course.
BEST SPORTS OUTING
Red Bull Arena
Just a ride on the PATH train (cheaper than the subway!) away, and with up-close-and-personal seats available for less than you'd spend on beer at a Mets game, Red Bull Arena is perfect for those of you who've decided to care about soccer more frequently than you vote in a presidential election.
Wards & Randall's Islands
Like the demented Siamese twin siblings of Roosevelt Island (itself the forgotten sibling of Manhattan), the joined-by-landfill Wards Island/Randall's Island hosts an abandoned insane asylum, several sports facilities, and some criminally overlooked windblown bike paths, bridge-shrouded barbeque and fishing spots, and beautiful views of the "mainland" you won't mind having left behind.
BEST EXPERIMENTAL ART SPACE ONCE IN A SILO, NOW IN A CAN FACTORY, SOON TO BE IN A BEAUX ARTS ELKS LODGE
The Issue Project Room
If we dreamt up our fantasy Advisory Board, it'd look an awful lot like the one had by Issue Project Room
. But what makes IPR unique isn't the support of notables like Paul Auster, Steve Buscemi, and Yoko Ono; it's their curatorial commitment to blurring boundaries. In the past few months alone, they've hosted everything from Finnish folk to Syrian techno to a Walt Whitman celebration.
BEST FARMS ON THE ROOFS OF LOCAL BUSINESSES
is home to an upscale pizzeria, outdoor produce market, brick oven bread bakery and podcast radio network—what's a little rooftop gardening? Especially when it's on the roof of a reused shipping container? More room for your margherita pizza's basil to grow.
Chef Jacques Gautier's Park Slope brownstone restaurant
is topped with his own rooftop garden, which grows unique Latin American herbs and vegetables used in the menu—as well as bunny rabbits, which are multiplying by the minute. Says Gautier "I started out with two, now I have eight."
Sixpoint Craft Ales
The Red Hook brewery
isn't growing quite enough hops to flavor their signature beers with, but in the name of experimentation they're growing those and more than 30 varieties of vegetables and four egg-laying hens, all of which are used to feed the staff at lunchtime. We're looking forward to a new Brooklyn barnyard ale.
MOST SHORTSIGHTED MTA SERVICE CUT
, Brooklyn's Third Avenue bus, did more than just ferry passengers between Bay Ridge and Downtown—it kept the street alive. From, roughly, Prospect Avenue to 64th Street, Robert Moses' elevated Gowanus Expressway turns what was once a vibrant drag into a total drag—speeding cars, XXX video stores and perpetual darkness. Moses tried to kill Third Avenue (and with it, Sunset Park). The bus was the last thing keeping the street from devolving into total decadence, and the MTA might have finished it off.
THE FIVE INCUMBENTS WE'D MOST LIKE TO SEE LOSE IN NOVEMBER
This year, the staunch conservative faces his first challenger since 2002. No better time than the present to see him go!
State Assembly Speaker
Ok, it's kinda obvious, but seriously if Albany is dysfunctional—which, fuck, that word's not even strong enough—maybe the leadership has to go? After 16 years as speaker, and 33 years in office—since the fucking Hugh Carey administration—it's time to go, Shelly.
A Democrat in a conservative district, McMahon votes not much differently than the disgraced Republican he replaced. (He voted against health care reform!) At least with a disgraceful Republican, you know what you're getting.
We've long despised Espada for a host of reasons, among them how he shut down the government last year. Then, in June, he threatened to do it again!! For god's sake, people of the Bronx —pull a different lever.
State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr.
Another longtime least-favorite. Remember when the
gay marriage bill failed in December? Longtime rights-denier Diaz
was one of the Dems who voted against it. Who else? Girlfriend-beater Hiram Monserrate—definitely the kind of company you want to keep!
BEST LOCAL BLOGGER
You wouldn't think you'd care what was happening way the hell out in Sheepshead Bay, but Ned Berke's tireless reportage at Sheepshead Bites
is endlessly fascinating—a mysterious dead body washed ashore
? Racist Tea Partiers want to stop a mosque
? Rest assured, his blog isn't just links to Courier Life stories—the one-time journalism student is on the scene, snapping pictures and interviewing witnesses, when he's not collecting tips and photos from readers.
Trial by Fire
From the novelistic opening description of a raging fire, you could tell David Grann's New Yorker
piece "Trial by Fire
" would be special. But it was only by the end that you realized the native New Yorker's piece about the execution of an innocent man was one of the best magazine articles you'd ever read, full of so much dogged reporting that it could actually change forever the way this country thinks about the death penalty.
Held by the Taliban
It's not everyday that we finish articles that take up two full pages after the jump. But David Rohde's "Held by the Taliban
" series, in the New York Times
, wasn't your everyday journalism—it was a riveting, frequently heartbreaking serialized account of his kidnapping and eventual escape from the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Man, fuck the internet.
BEST EXAMPLE OF THE POWER OF CROWDSOURCING
Atlas Shrugged in Brooklyn
We might find the politics of reformist-Republican blog Atlas Shrugged in Brooklyn
antithetical to our own, but that doesn't stop us from marveling at the way they uncover everything that happens in Brooklyn Republican politics. To his consternation
, party chairman Craig Eaton can't toss a Kleenex on the sidewalk without a tipster alerting the anonymous writing staff, who will surely post the news with a withering photo illustration. (Of course, what they actually uncover is usually more substantial.)
BEST MIDNIGHT MOVIES
The IFC Center
The IFC Center
courts the NYU crowd previously associated with Sunshine at Midnight and the dearly departed Two Boots Pioneer by astutely balancing cinephile cred and awesomely 90s home-video guilty pleasures, as in recent spotlights on Paul Verhoeven, James Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow, Nicolas Cage and now John Travolta. (All counterbalanced, we hasten to add, with autodidact-welcoming repertory matinees—now playing rare Ozu, provided you're not too hung over from sneaking a 40 into Face/Off
BEST insurgent PROGRAMMER
Matt Peterson is the usual moderator and head operator of Red Channels
, a film curatorial collective that is injecting insular NY film culture with a generous shot of punk-rock politics. Self-conscious vagabonds, Red Channels are�‚ without an institution, infiltrating every screen in town with rare social history documents followed by invigorating discussions.
BEST UP-AND-COMING ODDLY CAPITALIZED COMBINATION BAR AND INDEPENDENT MOVIEHOUSE
ReRun & iNDIESCREEN
Actually, we have a tie. Dumbo's reRun Gastropub Theater
, featuring rows of minivan seats, a Blu-ray projector, and on-site bar, features best-of-the-fests Amerindies astutely curated by critic Aaron Hillis; Williamsburg's indieScreen
promises eclectic programming (like, you know, the Northside Film Festival
) within clubby-modern environs in the future shadows of the Domino Sugar Factory Condos.
GREATEST NEED OF
A MOVIE THEATER
Not that BAM Rose Cinemas
doesn't do what it can to serve residents, but you know the insane crowds at the UA Court Street most nights? That's what happens when a neighborhood with a population greater than some states (and bordering Crown Heights, Brownsville, Flatbush...) doesn't have a single screen.
BEST REPERTORY SERIES
A good film series is an occasion to screen great films. A great film series includes odd or middling films in such a specific context that new insights—about not only the director, but about genre and narrative conventions—are revealed. Jed Rapfogel's "Anti-Biopics
" series at Anthology Film Archives was great, or, as a west coast film curator described it, "good enough to steal!"
Film Comments's Top 40
As an online complement to his excellent Film Comment
essay contextualizing internet film criticism within the history of the practice, sometime L
contributor Paul Brunick and others (including a handful of other L
writers) compiled a list of 40 Top Film Criticism Sites, with annotations for those looking for a point of entry into the wide-ranging but often quite incestuous online film community. The omission of thelmagazine.com was, we're sure, simply to avoid the appearance of bias.
BEST ONSCREEN NYC
Harvey Wang's Last New Yorker
is a pitch-perfect elegy to the disappearing city, an ode to the last standing mom-and-pop shops dotting Manhattan streets and the cantankerous olds who patronize them. Scott McGehee & David Siegel's Uncertainty
, on the other hand, evinces a deep understanding of Bloomie's emergent city, from Chinatown rooftops to the uncomfortable seating at Cinema Village. (Ha!)
WORST ONSCREEN NYC
Watch out! The subway's full of knife-wielding blacks! Seriously, this was, like, New York, I Love You
bad—even though director Jon Turteltaub was born here—largely for its spatial incoherence the Statue of Liberty is accessible by bus? And a short walk from Tribeca? Huh?
BEST LOCAL, NATIVE
The Safdie Brothers
Two years ago, Josh Safdie nailed the gentrifying city in his savvy, misunderstood Pleasure of Being Robbed
. This year, he and his brother Benny did it again in Daddy Longlegs
, examining, among other things, the arrogance of parents who have turned Manhattan into their families' playground. Still doubting their authenticity? They cast Abel Ferrara as a mugger!