Articles by

<Virginia K. Smith>

02/21/14 1:42pm

Not nearly this civilized.

  • Not nearly this civilized.

Academy Records Annex made the move to Greenpoint several months ago at this point, but apparently the new tenants in their old Williamsburg location are just now getting around to tossing out some of the records the store left behind. Hence, yesterday’s (highly controversial) Dumpster Full of Records.


Gothamist first reported the mess on North 6th yesterday, and pretty soon the places with crawling with collectors who sifted through the piles until pretty soon after that, when cleaning crews showed up and got into a scuffle with the crate dumpster diggers, even threatening to call the cops. A photographer on the scene explained as follows:

“A minute or two after I got there, a guy from the dumpster company started yelling for the collector to get out of the dumpster. The collector refused, eventually suggesting that the guy call the cops if he needs him out. The guy from the dumpster company jumped into the dumpster and got up in the collector’s face, about to start a fight. As it was about to get physical, someone else from his team came running out and got both guys out of the dumpster.”

Academy then tweeted that the records in question were “the lousy records we left behind 5 months ago when we moved out.” The store’s owner has since clarified the situation, saying, “I know people get really excited when they see a dumpster full of records, but these are just the ones that weren’t worth schlepping to our new spot. There are undoubtedly some decent records in there somewhere, but it would probably take a lot of work to find them!”

He also noted that it’s not actually possible to recycle records anymore, so it looks like that’s that. If any of the truly hardcore among you feel like heading to the landfill to scope out the remainders, keep us posted. We’d understand if that’s not how you end up spending your weekend, but still.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

02/13/14 2:50pm

The money shot.

  • The money shot.

On the off-chance you’re lucky enough to have parlayed this dumping of snow and wintry mix into a bonafide, no-work Snow Day—or even if you’re just looking forward to a night on the couch after trudging around in this mess—Netflix will be an important crutch for you today. So much so that it seems like they should do us all a solid and bump up tomorrow’s House of Cards Season 2 release by a day? This being the internet, there’s now a petition for that.


The explanation on Adam Chandler’s petition simply reads, “It’s very cold outside.” As of this post’s publication, it has 12 signatures.

Well, sure—I would very much like to watch House of Cards tonight, if that were an option!—but this brings me to a larger Netflix qualm that’s been nagging me all week: how is it possible that during the Winter Olympics and a major snowstorm, they haven’t made Cool Runnings a streaming option? The real-life Jamaican bobsled team has even had a major news story going for the past week! An oversight—and a disgrace—of the highest order, Netflix.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

02/10/14 2:48pm


  • Photo via NYDN

As quickly as it came, the so-called “hipster newsstand” in the hallway of the Lorimer-Metropolitan stop has shut down, having had a pretty successful seven month run in the location (and inspired a lot of eye-rolling hipster jokes along the way).


As part of the MTA’s initiative to rent out small spaces to artists (rent was $4,000/month), the stand trafficked mostly in zines, artisanal foods, and limited periodicals (a nice change of pace from US Weekly and stale packages of Chuckles, if you ask us). Organizers from Alldayeveryday, which was responsible for the project, told Brooklyn Paper, “We expected it to be open for one month, but it was successful, so we kept rolling it over and rolling it over for six more months.” Stay tuned to see what moves into the space next—hopefully something that also keeps a steady supply of McClure’s chips on hand.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

02/07/14 9:35am

Meeting a friend for dinner off the Jefferson stop a little while back, I did a double take walking down the block past Hana Natural—a massive new venue had popped up right next door, fully formed, elaborately constructed, and seemingly out of nowhere. (I hadn’t been the area for a month or so, but still, what?).


Of all the new Bushwick bars, restaurants, and venues that seem to be just materializing out of the ether, this one looked to be a particularly impressive undertaking (turns out, it was designed by James Beard award-winning architect Andre Kikoski, so that explains that). And, like all stories of “overnight” successes, it had years of work behind it. Owner Tari Sunkin has had the lease on Radio Bushwick (a cavernous former warehouse she found on Craigslist) for three years, and the idea for much longer. Having managed the Knitting Factory in the mid-90s and seen Pianos through its early years, she describes the experience as “like an apprenticeship, learning how I did and didn’t want to do things when I opened a place of my own.”

She’s also been staking out the neighborhood for close to a decade: “In ’92 I moved to Berry and South 3rd, my landlord even worked for the Domino Sugar Factory,” she explains. “In 2004 it closed, he retired, and I had to leave my 4-bedroom $900-a-month apartment. When I was looking for a place, I was looking for the same thing—starting out in a place that not a lot of people were at.”

Of course, the place happened to open up at a time when demand for anything new in Bushwick—let alone its first honest-to-god venue, with an actual lease and 12 beers on tap—is almost comically insatiable, and its very first show back in November was a shoulder-to-shoulder blowout (Tandem vet Scot Bowman is heading up the programming).”I didn’t quite expect the amount of people who really wanted it to open, so I sort of though ‘Oh I’ll open up the bar, then I’ll get to the venue part of it, and eventually get to the radio station in a year or two,'” Sunkin told us.

As such, the 24-hour radio station is still a work in progress, but will eventually be a source for livestreams of the venue’s shows and content Program Director Annie Witter describes as “holding a mirror up to Bushwick.” Witter explains, “Even though we’re starting on the internet, I’d like it to have the feel of traditional radio, with a top of the hour news break, or ‘Hey, the L train is not fucked,’ that kind of thing. The idea is for someone in another city to tune in and listen for a day, and think ‘I get it, I know what that place is about.'”

Radio Bushwick, 22 Wyckoff Ave.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

02/06/14 1:25pm


  • Photo via Public Assembly/NYC Go

Apparently this had been brewing for a while (they don’t seem to have posted anything on social media since back in July, and their website has been shut down entirely), but it still comes as a bit of a surprise: Williamsburg venue Public Assembly has closed its doors, and has already been replaced by a new spot, Black Bear Bar.


The venue had closed the front room over the summer for renovations, and then when the work was done, never seemed to fully open back up. The management hasn’t made any statement about the closing, but the venue’s booker Duncan Rich is now working with the team at Brooklyn Night Bazaar.

A major loss, but the good news in all this? The new place actually might be pretty good, as it’s run by Jessica Lee Wertz, who’s also behind No Name Bar and Lone Wolf. Black Bear Bar has an intentionally spare internet presence, but Free Williamsburg dug up a post from Oak with some promising details:

“The bar also draws in passersby visually with a showroom-esque entry way that features three motorcycles, brightly put on display. In the back, the space is dimly lit and features a wrap-around bar, pool table, and lends itself perfectly to both an after-work drink and a late night drop in. While the staff is happy to make you just about any drink you’d like, OAK recommends Black Bear’s on-tap Old Fashioned.”

If there’s any appropriate way to toast to the loss of Public Assembly (or to anything, really), an “on-tap Old Fashioned” would be it.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

02/04/14 11:36am

“I don’t love kids,” a tired Cyrus tells me the night before the concert, ashing a cigarette.

She’s Molly Bloom—the character who closes James Joyce’s Ulysses with a chapter of unpunctuated run-on sentences—for the Instagram set.

She’s not wrong about the parallels: both of us raised by performers, both driven to work in the spotlight on our own terms.

Good writing is expected with Ronan, how often does he inject himself into the story

She tells me the routine mimics their offstage rapport. After shows, “sometimes she’ll touch my boob, and she’ll be like, ‘Oh, yeah, I just wanted to grab it’…Or she’ll be like, ‘Next time I’m going to grab your ass…’cause Brittney has the biggest booty.’ ”

Don’t try to probe the interview for deep truths

02/03/14 11:26am

tk tk tk

  • The perfect accompaniment to the REAL football.

Generally, if you preface a statement with “I hope this doesn’t expose me to ridicule… or any more ridicule,” you probably know what you’re getting yourself into. Ridicule, most likely! As such, we don’t really feel too bad about taking a minute to look at Scott Simon’s interview with Katie Parla about Super Bowl beverage options. It’s not the least silly thing we’ve seen from NPR in recent memory:


SIMON: So what’s your beverage lineup?

PARLA: I’m a total pizza purist and I also love champagne and fortunately these two items go well, really well together.

SIMON: But you can’t drink the champagne until the team you’re rooting for has won, or am I being old fashioned?

PARLA: That’s a bit old fashioned. I mean, save your really great bottle for the end of the game, provided that your favorite team has won, but if you don’t want to really start out with the nice champagne stuff, you can begin with a champagne-style sparkler from Italy called Franciacorta, and those go really well with Margherita pizzas as well.

SIMON: What about – I hope this doesn’t expose me to ridicule, or any more ridicule – Chianti?

PARLA: Chianti is a really classic pizza pairing in American pizzerias and I think you can pretty much get away with it because the conventional, more industrial style cheeses that you find in the U.S. don’t call for that crisp acidity and minerality that champagne or Franciacorta or any of the number of white wines would provide. So I won’t ridicule you. It’s a decent pairing.

Hoo, boy. The interview later gets into the merits of hard cider, and Parla’s general preference for “the original football” (that’s soccer, you clods). The three minute clip is a tour de force of every tired cliche people assign to public radio and out-of-touch liberals or whatever, all the things I usually roll my eyes at and wave away as fantasy. And look, I’m not offended if anyone opts out of watching the Super Bowl altogether—the NFL is a deeply questionable organization, and football’s not all that interesting—or if they just happen to not like beer. We’re all free to be you and me here, and mostly, this is just sort of hilarious and endearing. But on the off-chance this whole interview was really an elaborate, self-aware parody, it’s a very well-executed one.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

01/30/14 5:54pm


Time was, if you needed an informative, low-decibel show to lull you to sleep at night, How It’s Made was ready and waiting for you, right there on Netflix for the taking. “Frozen Pancakes” is a classic, for the uninitiated:


No more. They’ve taken it down, and we’ve been forced to look elsewhere. Which is despicable, but loss can often lead to healthy and productive personal growth. For instance, the unearthing of a new sleepytime show, Great British Railway Journeys. It is very much what it sounds like (the host takes train trips around England based on a century-old guidebook), and it is wonderful. Here’s what happens when Michael Portillo makes the acquaintance of a “Dorking Chicken:”

Dreams have never been sweeter. (If you have your own self-soothing viewing, leave it in the comments. We are very much open to suggestions.)

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

01/29/14 12:25pm


  • Image via Nitehawk Droppings

Finally, the perfect marriage of two of our favorite places to go to be relaxed and entertained: that is, of Nitehawk Cinema and Tumblr. We stumbled across the staff’s “Nitehawk Droppings” page this morning and it is… quite a treat.


While it’s never occurred to me personally to use their handwritten ordering system to scrawl anything other than an order for more gin and tonics and tater tots (I hate drawing and don’t know how to do it), it would seem that a lot of other people use their small scraps of paper to test-out cartoons, draw an illustration or rhebus of their order, or just talk about their philosophies and porn preferences for a sec. The whole thing is worth a quick scroll through, but a few choice examples below. Good use of pencils, good use of the internet, good use of all of our time. Two thumbs up.


  • Image via Nitehawk Droppings


  • Image via Nitehawk Droppings


  • Image via Nitehawk Droppings

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.