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06/03/15 4:40pm
06/03/2015 4:40 PM |

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Now in its 6th year, Northside Film continues its tradition of showcasing independent filmmakers to new audiences. This year, though, marks the beginning of the inclusion of episodics (TV shows, web series) at Northside programming, as well as music videos, which serve to demonstrate the many different ways that filmmakers are exploring their craft. Here are some of the things we’re most excited about this year. (more…)

06/03/15 12:10pm

Art

Perhaps you know Green-Wood Cemetery, a 478-acre expanse of rolling, reposeful, halcyon loveliness nestled in the heart of Brooklyn, as the place of rest for figures of certain historical import, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leonard Bernstein, Bill “The Butcher” Poole, Samuel Morse and William M. “Boss” Tweed. Or maybe you know it as a particularly peaceful place to stroll around on circuitous roads and pathways until you find your way up to the grounds’ higher elevations, from which you can take in wonderful views of New York City and its surrounding waters. Did you know, though, that among Green-Wood’s 560,000 residents are over 5,000 Civil War veterans, including not only revered generals, but also Brooklyn’s first fallen soldier in the Civil War, the 12-year-old “Little Drummer Boy” Clarence MacKenzie? These latter facts are what make Green-Wood such a perfect setting for To Bid You All Good Bye, an exhibition of photographs, letters and other forms of memorabilia that, after 13 years of research and preparation, is now on view in observance of the Sesquicentennial of the end of the Civil War. We spoke with Richard J. Moylan, the President of Green-Wood, and Jeff Richman, Green-Wood’s Historian, to find out more about how this exhibit came to be and what visitors can expect.
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06/03/15 11:54am
photo by Jane Bruce

Bushwick Pizza Party
254 Irving Avenue, Bushwick

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If you wish you could still celebrate your birthday at Chuck E. Cheese’s but choose not to because they don’t serve hard liquor, Bushwick Pizza Party offers the next best thing. It’s both a restaurant-bar and a time capsule of sorts, a kitschy nostalgia-fest for those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s, complete with Super Soakers, Mario Kart murals, and Magic 8-Balls.

Bushwick Pizza Party, which took over the Irving Avenue location of Verde Coal Oven Pizza, was opened by the owners of the equally whimsical but more risqué Boobie Trap, a boob-themed bar across the street. Instead of plastic nipples, the walls here are covered with the contents of a typical Millennial’s toy chest (Super Soakers on a wooden gun rack, an impressive action figure collection, a mirror framed in Hot Wheels cars), as well as movie posters from slumber party cult classics (Now and Then, Gremlins, The Goonies, Fast Times at Ridgemont High). “Party On” commands a neon sign behind the bar. The maximalist decor and attention to detail (silverware comes tied in colorful pipe-cleaners) means you’ll notice something new every time you come.

Unlike many of its neighboring bars, the spot appeals to both man-children and actual children alike. When I got there on a recent Saturday evening, a literal pizza party of a dozen squealing kids and their tired moms was in full swing. They shared several of the punnily named coal oven pizzas (gluten-free crusts and vegan cheese are available) and desserts (recommended: the handmade tiramisu). Popular favorites include the “Hawaiian Shirt,” a pineapple, ham, mozzarella, and orchid pie; “Go to Kale,” with spicy carrot ricotta, fresh kale, pesto, and bacon; and “Can You Fig It,” covered in dried figs. In between bites, the kids posed on the leopard-print booths, took turns shimmying through the beaded curtain that leads to the Mario-Kart-muraled bathroom, consulted the Magic 8-Balls adorning the bar, and drew with dry-erase markers on the tables, which are laminated with tic-tac-toe games, mazes, and MASH. Soon, though, the kids left and the post-pubescent set filed in, there for the beer, wine, mimosas, and sangria (but also for the coloring and toys and stuff, too).

Pizza Party is still waiting to get a full liquor license, so for now, they’re using soju in all cocktails, which you can pretend you bought with your older sister’s fake ID while living out this Peter Pan Syndrome fantasy.

06/03/15 8:12am
photo courtesy of NM Rao

The organizers of the Film component of the Northside Festival—some of whom are named on the masthead of this very magazine—sought to build a higher platform for emerging local filmmakers with this year’s program, which runs June 8–10 around Williamsburg. That meant a greater emphasis on the shorts programs—plus the new, unique “episodics” category, meaning web series and pilots—as well as a pared-down feature program, with six independent titles in competition, alongside three showcase titles, including a number called Devil Town, which is exactly the sort of curious, hyperlocal work Northside is engineered around.

Written and directed by one Harvey Mitkas, the film stars the filmmaker and actress Sophia Takal, a member of Northside’s Features jury. She plays orphaned Eve, who comes to New York to locate her walkabout older sister Isabel, and is drawn into the vortex of her life, particularly her association with a cult predicated on crunchy rituals and sinister secrets. The film riffs on the Val Lewton-produced “cult” classic The Seventh Victim (1943), with the original’s Greenwich Village subbed out for the organic cafes, boutique distilleries and summer rooftops of contemporary Brooklyn. As the first-time writer-director explained to me via email, Devil Town proceeded, out of sequence, from a scene-by-scene outline replicating the Lewton film’s plot (with one significant alteration); performers improvised dialogue knowing only their character’s biography and, for the cult members, the cult’s cosmology.

The film’s overall structure is cruelly objective: flashbacks reveal more of Isabel and the cult as Eve takes wrong turns on her search. Yet the hazy visual style—a drifting camera, and subjective interludes with superimpositions and double exposures—maintains a mood of uncertainty, portent and transference. According to the filmmaker, Devil Town was an “experiment,” conducted with a cast of local microindie luminaries—actresses Brooke Bloom, Lindsay Burdge and Jennifer Kim apparently proved more adaptable to the “purposefully ambiguous” process than filmmakers like Lawrence Michael Levine, Caveh Zahedi, and Alex Ross Perry (himself also a member of the Northside jury, alongside Crystal Moselle, whose The Wolfpack is reviewed elsewhere this issue).

The film is Eve’s “coming-of-age” into the knotty, manipulative world of adult relations, per the director; it’s a story about a young woman dealing with the confusions and dangers of new people and experiences in the big bad city. Some of the strongest scenes recall Takal’s previous work: her real-life husband, Levine, plays an intriguing former connection of Isabel’s, and, as in his lighter Wild Canaries, the two investigate trust via the romance-thriller genre. “Larry and I joke that both of these movies are about fear of marriage and we made both of them right around our wedding,” Takal said via email. She also allows some similarity between Eve and the protagonist of her debut feature Green: “I feel vulnerable all the time and I’m constantly struggling to assert myself in tense situations. I really related to her.”

A sense of dread, social and personal, permeates the film, making the cult’s concerns—ecological disaster, self-doubt—all the more outwardly sympathetic. The filmmaker researched “religious groups and New Age-y therapy” with which family members were involved, and readily admits to finding many cult beliefs “persuasive.” But the real spiritual cleansing seems to have been the making of Devil Town: in our interview, the filmmaker ranted, tangentially: “Movies are such bullshit these days. Everyone is hedging their bets. Fuck money. I was inspired by Mailer’s Maidstone and Warhol films. I mean, people don’t punch each other, they just complain on Twitter.”

06/02/15 2:25pm
06/02/2015 2:25 PM |

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Eugene and Co.
397 Tompkins Avenue, Bed-Stuy

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It’s an unfortunate but enduring fact: There are considerably fewer females than males at the executive chef level in the restaurant industry. And even fewer are regularly talked about, making spotlighting a new (or under the radar) talent an occasionally awkward proposition, as if you’re pointing out some form of rare, exotic bird. And yet, Savannah Jordan is a name worth knowing and thus, worth pointing out, as her food is well worth trying, at Bed-Stuy’s delightful 40-seat eatery Eugene and Co.

With a resume that includes a year at Le Bernardin and four more at Mary’s Fish Camp, it would be easy to assume Jordan’s menu would be heavily skewed towards seafood, and yet, she’s gone for an appealing brand of refined global soul. It’s proved a winning concept for the neighborhood, with an inclusive crew of locals frequently lining up for tables—a rarity at even the most successful local establishments. (more…)

05/20/15 11:34am
05/20/2015 11:34 AM |
The Whitney Museum of American Art

With so many wonderful museums in New York City, and with so many of them planning particularly intriguing exhibitions and events for summer 2015, we’ve decided to break up our Summer Museum Preview into two parts—not to attempt to be exhaustive, which is all but impossible here, but to at least be able to lay some sort of claim to relative thoroughness. Maybe? Anyway, here is Part I, featuring some of our favorite Manhattan institutions. Keep an eye out for Part II sometime in June.

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05/20/15 11:33am

sex-dud

Dear Audrey,

I’m a straight guy in my early 20s. I’ve been having sex pretty regularly since I was 16, and I thought I had things figured out. Until last week. I was at party and a few girls I had sex with were there—one was an ex, though from college, the other someone I had a kind of friends-with-benefits setup with for a little while. We’re all friends, or so I thought; neither of the relationships ended badly. They were both super-duper drunk and started making fun of me for being bad in bed. I think I was pretty obviously hurt because they both stopped and apologized, and the next day the ex-girlfriend texted to apologize again, saying they were drunk and just kidding around, etc. I’m not sure I believe them; they both seemed to be telling the truth in moment, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t want to be bad in bed! They didn’t say any specifics, really, so I don’t know how to diagnose and fix the problem. I’ve read all the basic advice like communication and stuff, and like I said I thought I was pretty good! Most of the women I am with usually have an orgasm. Could they all be faking? My confidence is shaken and I’m not sure what to do here. (more…)

05/20/15 11:32am

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So, it happened: Summer came. Or, you know, it’s coming. And in the long tradition of New Yorkers, now that the weather is consistently above 60 degrees, we want to spend all our free time outside. So in the spirit of fresh air and sunny days, we present to you the 50 events we’re most looking forward to attending this summer. We think you’ll like them too.

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05/06/15 10:00am
05/06/2015 10:00 AM |
Photo Courtesy of O&M Co.


The Visit
Lyceum Theatre 149 W. 45th Street

John Kander and Fred Ebb’s musical version of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Visit, an uncompromising tale of revenge and human weakness, has taken an unusually long time to play in New York. It was originally scheduled to open in March of 2001 with Angela Lansbury in the lead. When Lansbury withdrew, Chita Rivera stepped in and played it in Chicago, where it got good reviews but no forward momentum to open here. Rivera played The Visit periodically for years after this initial run until a one-act version of the musical opened at Williamstown last year under the direction of John Doyle. And now at last, after so many years of stalling, Rivera is opening The Visit on Broadway. All the time she spent playing and refining it has resulted in a production that seems like the last bitter flowering of a certain kind of 1970s American musical, perfectly judged, tuneful, biting, and nearly Brechtian in its cerebral formalism. (more…)

05/06/15 9:35am
Photo by Jane Bruce

Livingston Manor
42 Hoyt Street, Downtown Brooklyn

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When our office first relocated to Downtown Brooklyn from DUMBO last spring, one of the main concerns was this: Where would we go to drink? In DUMBO, there weren’t exactly an abundance of options, but what choices we had were pretty solid. There was Superfine, spacious—cavernous, even—with its small but solid list of draft beers, and excellent french fries to soak up all that alcohol. And there was 68 Jay, with $5 well drinks at happy hour, and free bowls of Goldfish crackers to snack on. Between those two spots (with occasional detours to Pedro’s and the now-defunct reBar), we spent many a booze-soaked evening. But suddenly, newly housed in DoBro, we found ourselves in that most dreaded of places: a bar desert. (more…)