Brooklyn has good taste. There, we said it. Sure, it's a bit of a running joke—everything in (the gentrified part of) the borough is artisanal, or antique, or unique, or local, or somehow special and perfect—but, well, we think it's ok to like really nice things, and to live one's life in search of experiences and objects both interesting and beautiful (of course, there's a darkside to this: see Tom McCormack's "Against Curation"). It can, however, be a little overwhelming, so it's nice to have friends with really good taste to help us "curate" our lives... We asked a few of our friends to tell us the five things they currently love, that we might lead richer, more beautiful lives.
1. Minnie and Moskowitz (1971) by John Cassavetes
Only released on VHS, it is one of my favorite comedies. I saw it for the first time this past year, and any time I feel down, I go to YouTube and watch the Zelmo scene.
2. Artisan and Artist's Leather Camera Straps
Perfect weight and texture for the way I coil the strap around my wrist while taking photos. I have one for each of my film cameras, having paid $75 per strap. The price is crazy, but I can't break the habit.
3. Conversations between the veteran store clerks at Adorama Camera
Clerk 1: "A sign of a good wife is that she apologizes when she is wrong."
Clerk 2: "No, a good wife should apologize even when she is right."
Clerk 1: "Now that's a good wife... But why would you want that?"
4. The head cheesemonger at Fairway in Red Hook
I don't know his name, but stop by and ask for a few samples. He will give you a greater appreciation for cheese.
5. Print Space New York on 19th and 7th
The best darkroom in America.
1. Catching The Big Fish by David Lynch
I'm a huge fan of his work and I promise you that this is the closest I'll ever come to reading a "self-help" book.�€š Lynch opens up about his creative process but also writes about his experiences with Transcendental Meditation, which are pretty interesting. It's short, too! Even the laziest reader can finish it in an afternoon while simultaneously Google-searching old boyfriends/girlfriends or wondering why Mamie Van Doren has so many friends on Facebook.
2. Shirley, my dental hygienist�€š
Isn't it nice to have someone genuinely care about the health of your gums? After a cleaning, Shirley tells me whether or not I've done a good job flossing my teeth. That's nice. manhattanavenuefamilydental.com
3. Korg Kaossilator
It's a handheld synthesizer you can plug into your stereo. How cool is that? All it takes are four AA batteries and you can pretend you're Aphex Twin, without all of the cumbersome talent and fame.
4. King Night by Salem
This album is a complete curiosity to me. I can't tell whether it's really great or really lame, but I keep listening to it again and again. There are other trance or witch house groups that I like better (White Ring comes to mind), but I get the feeling that the guys in Salem have a wonderfully jaded sense of humor and that's good enough for me. And the first song on the album contains a droned-out sample of "O Holy Night." Funny!
5. The Venture Bros
Everything that I grew up loving in comics, movies, music and cartoons is completely and horribly destroyed in this show. It's marvelous. Co-creator Doc Hammer actually describes it perfectly so I'll add this quote: "It's about the beauty of failure. It's about that failure happens to all of us... Every character is not only flawed, but sucks at what they do, and is beautiful at it..."
1. The Spicy Hot Cocoa ("El Chicano") from Beaner Bar
I'm a soymilk person, so whenever I order this I get to say "Soy Chicano," which is pretty awesome. And there's nothing like hot chocolate and chili to keep you warm.
This is the best way I've found to read long-form journalism, and it's perfect for diving into those bigger NY Times Magazine or Vanity Fair articles you can't get away with reading (while pretending to look busy) at your desk job. Loaded onto my Kindle=perfect for the subway.
3. My ugly polyester winter coat
It's waterproof, it's cheap, and it's totally not stylish. But you know what? I don't care how many good-lookin' people ride the L train all day—when it's below freezing, fashion does not matter.
4. Ivan Goncharov's Oblomov
Everyone needs a giant Russian novel to get through winter. This year mine is Stephen Pearl's translation, introduced by Tatyana Tolstaya. It's about a guy who sits around on his divan all day, daydreaming instead of getting dressed, afraid to take a chance on life outside his St. Petersburg apartment. And it's somehow completely fascinating. What better motivation not to leave the house? All that cold air outside, and the damp—so bad for you.
5. Screaming Females
They're loud, they're from New Jersey, and they satisfy my 16-year-old self's desire to hear someone screaming and my grownup indie-rock demand to hear something "interesting." Marisa Paternoster plays the guitar until her fingers bleed, then keeps playing.
1. Roadtrip to Bethlehem, PA.
It's only 90 minutes from NYC, but it's an amazing, post-industrial steel town worthy of a remake of The Deerhunter. The steel mill is still intact and looms large over the scenery, and the Sands casino has moved in, which is sterile, tacky and quirky at the same time. Definitely feels a lot further than 90 minutes from NYC! After, you can get a hot dog at Yocco's, a local hot dog chain owned by Lee Iacocca's family.
2. John Baldessari at the MET
I usually avoid the Met like the plague since it's rife with tourists and harbors a very conservative aesthetic taste. But the Baldessari show was great because it very clearly showed his evolution from clever but pointless aesthetic games and memes to his later work, which showed a unified, accessible, glossy and well-crafted west-coast aesthetic that still maintained his conceptual pranksterism. Such style, substance and humor is increasingly rare in shows like this!
3. Simon Reynolds's Generation Ecstasy (along with acid house vinyl rips on youtube)
Simon Reynolds is like the cool music archivist big brother I never had. This book is from 1999, but I had a great time checking out UK 90s rave/dance genres I missed out on like acid house, breakbeat 'ardkore, ambient house, jungle, big beat and speed garage in real time via the awesome array of vinyl rips from this era on YouTube. He writes in a way that a skeptical rocker like me who always hated "electronica" can appreciate. Certain classic tracks that he recommended like "Papa New Guinea" by the Future Sound of London or "Stakka Humanoid" by Humanoid or "Mentasm" by Joey Beltram or "LSI" by The Shamen are gonna be on repeat for many years on my stereo.
4. Unconscious Collective at Manhattan Inn
It's nice that every Wednesday night I know exactly where to find my buddies Angus, Brian and Andrew: behind the DJ booth playing some 80s darkwave or minimal techno jams. A social routine is nice in a city where people are constantly moving in ten different directions or moving away to go to law school or something lame like that.
5. My Band Manager, Sam
Sam, the manager of my band Dinowalrus has been a godsend! The first time around, when we were getting started, managing the band on my own was a fun challenge filled with surprises and excitement. Now that I'm a cynical and jaded curmudgeon, having an enthusiastic partner to help us do the hustle with bookers, writers, etc., has really been keeping me sane and properly focused on making music.
1. The catfish sandwich at The Double Windsor
My girlfriend lives three blocks from this place (210 Prospect Park West), but somehow deciding to eat there never feels like a cop out. The beer selection's great, too. I just hope the bar doesn't get killed by the MTA's absolutely criminal decision to close the 15th Street F/G stop from January until May.
2. MDMA Films
I usually prefer Tao Lin's actual writing to his—ahem—extra-curriculars, but these short films he's making with Megan Boyle are wonderful. Their hypnotic chemistry justifies the narcissistic insularity of their subject matter, which is always themselves. It's feel-good voyeurism. Supposedly feature-length releases are coming in '11. I can't wait.
3. The laundromat two blocks from my apartment
For three years I've been going to the shitty place across the street from me because it's across the street from me, but a couple months ago I finally made the change. These guys tie your stack of folded underwear with a ribbon.
4a. (4b.) The last book I finished (and the next book I expect to finish)
A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong
(Herzog by Saul Bellow). 5. Phish Live at Madison Square Garden, 12/30/10
Going to a Phish show at MSG was like fulfilling a promise to my high school self, and the band was as powerful and tight as I've ever seen them. Icing on the cake—the ticket-price included a free download of the show, which was posted to the band's website by the time I got back to my apartment, though naturally I was in no condition to operate a computer until late the following afternoon.
1. The City Reliquary
At the corner of Metropolitan and Havemeyer in Williamsburg is this really sweet museum that sits in an old bodega. They kept the original facade, so it catches you off guard when you look in and it's a museum. They have sick relics, including the original sign from 2nd Avenue Deli.
It is and always will be the best; forever the quintessential New York television program.
3. Delivery Everything
Even the weed is delivery! A super-luxurious resource available to us that we should not take for granted.
4. Whole Foods
It's the best place to get free lunch. Did you know it's store policy to let you sample whatever you want if you just ask. If you've got the chutzpah, go have a meal for free. Remember, these big supermarkets throw out food everyday, so don't feel bad.
All-ages cheap show listings on tangible and beautiful print. We recently helped drop off a bunch of new Showpaper news boxes around the city. They are now on street corners right up there with the NY Post and all them rags. [Ed. Rags like The L!]
1. 114 Forrest Street
There is a very strange building in Bushwick. It looks made-up like a painting or background prop on Law & Order. A maquette. Stacked dormers, four or five in a quirky beautiful un-design rising three stories above the skyline. Industrial rusted red. Have you seen it?
2. Plastic Bag Razor Angels
I love the razor wire with angelic wings of fluttering, streaming plastic bags. Impossible to paint but I wish I could. Maybe it should remain unaltered reality, its own installation piece.
3. The Breakfast Lady
Every morning around 7:30 a well dressed woman in a broad-brimmed straw hat wheels a tiny well-appointed cart of breakfast goodies to the warehouse entrance across the street. Huge semi's back in and out, missing her by inches. I worry. It looks like a close call every time. One day I saw her hat flying down the street. She was ok. Just the wind. I never saw her sell anything, but I'm sure she does.
4. The Local Light
The light in Bushwick is spectacular. Like Tuscany. Especially when the sun is low and streaks with dazzling, golden embers glowing from the windows and bricks and streets. The low-lying buildings free up the light. The surface textures, the clutter, so varied the color shifts in waves of warm and warmer, then cool.
5. English Kills
I love my gallery and the tiny dog that protects it.
I just moved to Greenpoint a couple of weeks ago, and I'm already loving it. Kind of feels like I'm living right in Poland sometimes.
2. Larry David: Seinfeld & Curb Your Enthusiasm
Two of the greatest comedies ever made, both from the same mind.
3. Little Debbie's Nutty Bars
The best cheap, unhealthy snack there is. Not the 100-calorie single package crap, but the original Nutty Bars; that's where it's at.
4. Academy Records
Easily my favorite record store in New York. I try not to go too often just so I don't go bankrupt. I can't resist getting something whenever I step in.
I went to an Ikea last week for the first time in my life. Most dangerous store I've encountered. Which spoon is the best spoon?!