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Best Victory Over Bigotry

Same Sex Marriage Passes, Despite Marty Golden’s Efforts

Brooklyn’s only Republican state senator didn’t just oppose marriage equality—he positioned himself at the front of the opposition, giving fiery, rambling speeches to supporters about the dangers it would pose to our children and religions. Well, nyah nyah, he lost, as bigotry always will (in the annals of history, too!).

Best Turnaround on Same Sex 

Carl Kruger

When the Democratic state senator was indicted in March on federal bribery charges, a curious detail emerged: Kruger’s “girlfriend,” the district manager of a southern Brooklyn community board, turned out to actually be his boyfriend‘s mother. Thus outed, Kruger voted for marriage equality—a flip flop from his position in 2009.

Best Explanation of Census Undercount

Hipsters Too Cool for Census

When NYC’s 2010 census results indicated so much less growth than anyone expected, public figures scrambled to explain the undercount. But it was councilmember Diana Reyna, who represents part of Williamsburg, who cracked the case: it was the hipsters, who didn’t participate because the census isn’t “cool.”

Best Way to Keep Up with Local Political Machinations


Local journalist and political junkie Colin Campbell’s Twitter feed is the best way to stay up to date with who’s running for what, with the support of whom, and which already-elected people are in trouble and for what—not to mention all the other day-to-day wackiness that is the world of Brooklyn politics.

Best Serendipitous Metaphor for 
Atlantic Yards Development

Discovery of 
Arsenic in Soil

During soil excavation in April, workers discovered several small vials of arsenic. Because Atlantic Yards is literally poisonous.

Most vulnerable incumbent

Edolphus Towns

The fifteen-term Bed-Stuy Congressman has swatted off challenges from The Real World star/professional speaker/tax evader Kevin Powell in the last couple Democratic primaries. But House leadership dropped Towns from his role as the ranking member of the Oversight Committee at the start of this Congress, and after redistricting comes through, a new generation of talented, ambitious African-American pols will be weighing their future prospects—people like City Councilwoman Tish James, and Assembleyman Hakeem Jeffries, who’s already formed an exploratory committee.

08/03/11 4:00am
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Best Pizza for Wiseguys


You can fuggedabout finding many pizzas in Brooklyn better than this one, cooked to perfection in a gas-and-wood-fired oven and topped with fresh mozzarella and free garlic and basil. Just don’t be a mook while you’re there; Chef Chris Iacono, brother of Lucali’s Mark Iacono, has supposed mob ties, as evidenced by Mark’s recent run-in with the law over a knife fight with suspected mobster Benny Geritano.

Best Bar for Nerding Out

Way Station

Tired of mentioning Daleks or your sonic screwdriver and being met with blank stares? Then this Prospect Heights steampunk bar is for you. Owner Andy Heidel built his very own TARDIS (the space-and-time-traveling call box from the BBC’s Dr. Who) over the bathroom, making for a great conversation starter when you’re sipping specialty cocktails with that very special Time Lord.

Best Place to Sip Oysters While Pretending it’s the 1800s

Maison Premiere

Like Marion Cotillard in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, it appears Brooklynites are desperate to experience La Belle Époque. No mystical cab is needed to reach this place; inside you’ll find a jade absinthe fountain, faded photographs and creaky wooden floorboards, plus a crowd heavy on antiquated clothing and facial hair. The real attraction, however, is the raw bar, featuring a selection of more than 30 East and West Coast oysters.

Best Breakfast Sandwich

Crif Dogs

Start your morning off with a shot of grease to the heart with the The Czajkowski, a monster of a breakfast sandwich made with a thick slab of fried bologna, a slice of American cheese and a big, runny egg, all on a dense, chewy sesame roll that thankfully keeps the whole mess off your hands as you run to the subway. Pair it with a cup of coffee from Intelligentsia and you’re ready to fake it through another day of work.

Best Place to Melt the Skin off Your Face with the 
Power of 

Peaches Hot House

Have you ever had one of those moments when you cry out in pain (and ecstasy) while eating fried chicken? Peaches Hot House can take you there with its face-melting Nashville-style hot house chicken. Order it “extra hot” and see if you can eat more than one perfectly fried, cayenne pepper-rubbed piece before you admit defeat. Water will be of no help to you here.

Best Hidden Restaurant in the Back of a Mexican 

La Chinantla

Located in the back of an unassuming bodega on a grungy strip of Myrtle Avenue, this restaurant serves what is arguably the most authentic “down ‘n dirty” Mexican food in Brooklyn. Get any of the cemitas or huaraches (hint: al pastor) and you’re in for a meat-laden treat. Suck it, Bushwick. Photo by Joe Hume

Best Place to Blow a Paycheck on Cocktails

Clover Club

Sometimes you just want to fork over $15 for an expertly crafted cocktail, and there’s no better place to do this than Clover Club. The eponymous tipple—gin, dry vermouth, lemon, raspberry syrup, and egg white—is one of the simplest on the menu, but also the most satisfying and refreshing. Just be sure to pace yourself, as more than three of these will have you on the floor (and broke).

Unexpected Use of 

Sue Perrette

Of all the gosh-darned places you could stick a banana, who would’ve thunk to stuff it in a croque monsieur? The visionary cooks at Smith Street’s French countryside spot Sue Perrette are onto something. The banana’s sweetness balances the saltiness of the ham and melted cheese and gives this classic brunch-time sandwich a French-Caribbean vibe. Plus, it comes with crisp mixed greens and potatoes-of-the-day. Get a sunny-side-up egg on top and thank us later.

Best Place to Eat Controversial Duck Parts

Do or Dine

This irreverent “American izakaya” serves up a variety of goofy takes on the genre of drunk food—boob-shaped, tempura-fried eggs stuffed with bacon being one stand-out among many—but the foie gras donut is the dish you shouldn’t pass up. Stuffed with raspberry jelly and a healthy dose of inhumanely fattened duck liver-based goodness, the donuts, which are made around the corner at Dough, are the Platnoic ideal of decadence. Photo by Joe Hume

Best Place to Meet a Hardcore Vegan Dreamboat

Yummus Hummus

Cruising for honeys on your way to the Hannibal Montana show at the Acheron? Look no further than this teensy hummus joint across the street. Here, dip fresh-baked pita bread into stoneware bowls of rich chickpea puree. Vegan options include the earthy and luscious Baked Bulb, hummus with roasted garlic that’s drizzled with olive oil and tahini and dusted with the house spice mix.

Best Schlep-Free Smoked Salmon


Gotta love a Jewish deli whose official slogan is “No more schlepping.”  But if you don’t live in the Smith Street vicinity, it’s worth a schlep to sample the Shelsky’s Pastrami sandwich: House-cured “pastrami salmon” (that is, smoked fish that’s crusted with coarse salt, pepper, and spices) and sauerkraut on pumpernickel or rye gets a sharp kick from house-made mustard herring.

Most Anticipated Brick-and-Mortar Shop

The Treats Truck’s bakery

Dear Treats Truck: We’re tired of chasing you all over the city. It breaks our heart to see you peddling your peanut butter sandwich cookies in Manhattan and sharing your candy-studded Rice Krispy treats with every Joe Schmo on Staten Island. We love your gooey cake cones. Can’t get enough of your dessert nachos. Commit to us already and open that brick-and-mortar bakery that you’ve been promising. We’ll be waiting for you at 521 Court Street.

Bacon Replacement

Van Horn’s Smoked Sweet 

In truth, bacon has no replacement. But for all the vegans and vegetarians out there who are frying tofu to oblivion in hopes of finding something vaguely similar, get thee to Van Horn Sandwich Shop. The Sweet PLT is piled with chewy-crisp smoky sweet potato rounds with lettuce, tomato, and garlic aioli. It ain’t bacon, but it is delicious.

Lead photo by Cody Swanson

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Best Venue Renovation 
Breaking the Bank or Closing for Construction


We’re not sure how they did it, but during the course of a few days in April, Glasslands re-positioned their stage to face the door, at once making more space and increasing the capacity by 50. Magic! (Photo: Ra Ra Rasputin by Maria Piessis)

Best New Venue, Despite Being the Hottest Place Ever

285 Kent

That was nice when Todd P tried to implement an air conditioning system at the windowless 285 Kent for the Pictureplane/Teengirl Fantasy show during the 100-degree heat wave last month. It ended up not running properly and people had sweat pouring out of body parts they didn’t know could sweat, but still, Pictureplane and Teengirl Fantasy played—joining the ranks of Fucked Up, Iceage, Monotonix, Lightning Bolt, Wild Nothing, Titus Andronicus, Twin Sister, Real Estate and every other local band worth mentioning to have graced 285’s stage this year.

Most Promising 
Big Ticket Venue

The Wick

There’s an awful lot to like about as-yet-unopened Bushwick venue The Wick: It’s housed in the 19th-century Hittleman Brewery building located just two blocks from the Meserole L train stop; is headed by three former Knitting Factory executives; serves as a breath of fresh air from the city’s Live Nation/Bowery Presents dominance; and, with a projected capacity of 400-700 people, could very well draw some hefty headliners. Here’s an idea: Arcade Fire should play opening night.

Best Rumor Involving the Closing of Monster Island Basement

That it’s being turned into a Whole Foods

While a recently launched Kickstarter campaign to fund Monster Island’s farewell party confirms speculation that the beloved DIY haven will be closing this fall, at least it’s not being bulldozed to make room for a Whole Foods like some Twitter rumormongers suggest. As a reliable sources points out, “Whole Foods would want parking if they built a freestanding store. Secondly, there is ample, modern, brand-new retail space available on the ground floors of the adjacent condos.” Please say it’s not because of another luxury apartment building, then.

Trend We’d Like to See More of

Shows at churches 

We may be a bit biased after having worked harder than you may ever know rallying the masses into allowing St. Cecilia’s to host three shows during Northside this year (Father Jim, thank you again for all your help), but, boy, was it worth it. A dramatic, majestic structure is quite the setting to witness the likes of Atlas Sound, and the eerie green light of Greenpoint’s Lutheran Church of the Messiah was perfect for the How to Dress Well show that PopGun booked in winter. More please.

Neighborhood Most in Need of a Music Venue or at Least a Record Store or Something

Fort Greene

With its coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques and proximity to Pratt, Fort Greene has everything going for it… except it’s an island when it comes to the local music scene. Sure, there’s the rare booking at Brooklyn Masonic Temple or Fort Greene Park, but now there’s talk that Conor Oberst has moved into the area. We need to do better, you guys. Can’t have him move back to Omaha.

Best Appearance of a Local Band on Late Night Television

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart on Letterman

“Our next guests are a talented band from Brooklyn,” said Dave, while introducing the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, who made their late-night television debut back in March, with a performance of single-of-the-year candidate “Heart in Your Heartbreak.” As ever, they seemed humble and excited, kind of half-trying to look cool, and then adorably squandering it all with a big, goofy wave and a thumbs-up at the end. If you don’t have it saved on your DVR like we do, you’ll want to visit YouTube pronto

Best (Also Worst) Twitter Fight Involving a Local Music Writer

Chris Weingarten vs. Gorilla vs. Bear

“Last Rock Critic Standing” Chris Weingarten is a proudly self-promoting loud-mouth whose online schtick—”Indie rock is stupid! Fleet Foxes are terrible! No one tries hard enough! Gaaahhh, the Melvins!!!”—is generally nowhere near as smart or entertaining as his real-world writing. But there was this one time when he got into a war of Tweets with the blog Gorilla Vs. Bear about… oh, who knows, Toro Y Moi and bandwagon-jumping or something. Normally, we’d say no one wins with shit like this, but when Weingarten said, “Why would you even enter a battle of words with me? That would be like me trying to battle you in copying and pasting emails,” well, he did. 

Best Local Music Twitter

Bill Pearis/Jenn Pelly

This one is pretty much a toss-up, between Brooklyn Vegan columnist and SoundbitesNYC blogger Bill Pearis, and recent NYU grad, blogger and freelance writer Jenn Pelly. Both are out constantly, filling you in on all the important details about the shows you were too lazy to go to. 

Best Brooklyn-Based Poster 

Two Arms Inc.

For whatever reason, the music-oriented graphic design scene has always been dominated by Portland and Austin, but Michael Tabie and Karen Goheen of the Greenpoint-based illustration team Two Arms are doing what they can to change that by way of silkscreened posters for Ra Ra Riot, Smoking Popes, Kid Sister and—bias warning—a four-set Northside series. Their work is clever without being cutesy, colorful without being obnoxious, and is a cheap way to decorate your apartment.

Our Favorite Non-L Mag Music Writer in the City

Nitsuh Abebe at NY Mag

After a long stint at Pitchfork, Abebe joined the New York magazine staff last year, and he’s quietly been one of the most reasonable, eloquent and insightful music critics working anywhere. He’s diligent about understanding his own prejudices and trying to overcome them, and in the process, we all benefit. Check out his essay on Amy Winehouse—it’s the best one you’ll find. 

Best BrooklynVegan Comment about This Year’s Northside Festival

We’re partial to the one-two punch of “So basically like any other day in Brooklyn?” and “Yeah, GBV, Beirut and Iceage all play Brooklyn every day. Idiot,” because, you know… seriously. But fine, we’ll go ahead and give top honors to “Anonymous 2:15am” (of course), who had this to say: “suck the filthiest one you can find northside.” We want desperately to add the necessary comma in there, but we won’t. It’s just better that way. 

08/03/11 4:00am
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Exhibition in a Fire-Damaged Park Slope Brownstone

Associated at Open Source Gallery

After the three-alarm fire that decimated the corner of Fifth Avenue and 17th Street, we worried that we’d lost Open Source Gallery—the only non-profit among a small but very strong set of South Slope galleries—but founders Monika Wuhrer and Gary Baldwin took those charred lemons and made… um, hot lemonade? In April they mounted this superb group show in their badly damaged home next door to the destroyed gallery (which has since reopened down the block).

Best Hipster-Bait-y Street Art (tie)

Hanksy and the Hipster Traps

Yes, the Soho-originating, Bushwick-visiting stencil Hanksy has street and screen cred with its terrific Banksy-Tom Hanks pun, but Jeff Greenspan and Hunter Fine‘s hipster traps actually succeeded in capturing an incredible amount of attention from both hipsters and hipster-haters.

Best New Art Fair

Art Brooklyn in DUMBO

With a record number of satellite fairs this year, Armory Week finally spilled right off the edge of Manhattan, bringing the scrappy Verge Art Fair to DUMBO, where every gallery and vacant storefront was put to great use.

Best Public Sculpture Depicting a Fictional Monster (tie)

The Brooklyn Griffin” on Meserole Street, “The Abominable Grass Man” on John Street

Both the UK street art crew ROBOTS and Brooklyn-based duo Mosstika used their materials (found wood and grass, respectively) creatively, but whereas the turf yeti survived only a few days (nobody watered him), the winged scrap wood creature still watches over the intersection of Waterbury and Meserole streets in Bushwick nearly a year later.

Worst Public Sculpture Depicting a Fictional Monster

Asphalt Tattoo” on Jay Street

We had serious reservations (mostly to do with our bike tires’ prospects for sustained fullness) when this dragon was cut into the street and filled with broken glass near a busy intersection in DUMBO last summer. Was this some Bostonian art prof’s idea of a cruel joke? Apparently, but one year later it looks much, much worse for wear, and the joke’s on Paula Meijerink—plus we didn’t get any flats!

Best Tag


We stopped drawing mustaches on people in magazines ten (ok, two) years ago, but we took comfort from knowing that subway billboard tagger Moustache Man was scrawling his curly, cursive signature on subway platform celebs’ upper lips. Until 26-year-old Virginia native and Gray Line tours employee Joseph Waldo, bka Moustache Man, was arrested in late June after the NYPD tracked him via blog bragging.

Best Neighborhood-Wide Gallery Night

Beat Nite in Bushwick

Sorry, DUMBO First Thursdays and Williamsburg Second Fridays—not to mention Sunset Park Sixth Sundays—but this bi-annual art party all over Bushwick (and contiguous Ridgewood) organized by de facto neighborhood spokes-gallerist Jason Andrew is far and away the borough’s best and most fun.

Best Public Art Exhibition

Total Recall at Metrotech

As a rule we try to spend as little time as possible in the Metrotech environs—easy, since there’s so little of interest there—except that at regular intervals the Public Art Fund mounts kick-ass outdoor exhibitions there, like this one featuring memory-probing sculptures by Martin Basher, Zipora Fried, Sam Moyer, Matt Sheridan Smith and Kevin Zucker (and on view through September 16).

Best Art Space We Gained
Kunsthalle Galapagos in DUMBO
Though dormant since its third show closed back in April—a silence that makes us very concerned that KG not end up in the following category next year—this superb new gallery atop Galapagos Art Space boasts cathedral-like ceilings and an expansive space ideally suited to the type of site-specific sculptural installations that the kunsthalle model of community-supported gallery has fostered in Germany.

Best Art Space We Lost

99% Gallery

This roomy Vice neighbor on North 10th Street seemed to have all kinds of momentum behind it last fall, with shows of locally and nationally renowned street artists, photographers and printmakers. Then everything went quiet; what happened?

Best Artist We Lost

Dennis Oppenheim

This native Washingtonian had been a New Yorker for 43 years when he died at age 72 on January 21st, 2011, after being at the forefront of the land and performance art movements in the 60s and 70s, and helping to expand the field of contemporary sculpture from the early 80s onward.

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Best New Bike Lane

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Sometimes we wonder how the hundreds of millions of dollars that went into this flashy new waterfront park were spent, and then we remember this lovely bike lane, the Rolls Royce (er, the vintage limited-edition Schwinn) of Brooklyn bicycle lanes. Now if only its integration into the continuous waterfront greenway
were a little more seamless…

Worst Beach (tie)

Brighton Beach and Sea Gate

All but one Brooklyn beach was spared the tides of crap that had been predicted following a late July fire at a sewage treatment plant in Harlem, one of the city’s largest, and it was in gated projects-adjacent beach town Sea Gate. But Brighton Beach was shitty before the fire, logging one of the borough’s highest levels of water contamination in a National Resources Defense Council study. Deadly boardwalk shootings and the upcoming local Jersey Shore-style reality series Russian Dolls aren’t helping Brighton’s case.

Photo by Cody Swanson

Best Way to Commute from North Brooklyn to DUMBO

East River Ferry

So long, awful L-to-the-F Manhattan transfer; see you in hell, perpetually late and over-crowded B62; we take the ferry now, just like Walt Whitman.

Worst Thing About Taking the Fung Wah Bus

faraway, so close

The driver’s been barking into his headset for five hours (traffic on the Mass Pike) and some stranger is in the aisle seat next to you, sitting on your shirttail, because you’re a good person and don’t put your bag down in the unoccupied seat like you’re saving it and the overhead light isn’t working so you can’t read and your laptop battery is dead and you can’t get your work done and now you’re off the Triboro and taking the BQE all the way down Greenpoint, through Williamsburg to downtown Brooklyn so you can take the Manhattan Bridge back to Chinatown oh god oh god just LET ME GET OFF NOW PLEASE I’M SO CLOSE and inevitably Brooklyn-bound F trains are going over the A line between West 4th and Jay Street thus bypassing East Broadway this weekend.

Best Miss Havisham House

The Joseph Steele House

Long owned by the same family, the Joseph Steele House, on the corner of Lafayette and Vanderbilt at the border of Clinton Hill and Fort Greene (across the street from the Brooklyn Flea), is a stately, yellow, 19th-century Italianate house with black shutters, perpetually drawn curtains, and a cobwebby cupola. Once a year, during the NYC Marathon, you can almost see a wizened face peaking out the window at the young bodies streaming past—or is that just our imagination?

Best places to meet other ZipCars

The Red Hook Fairway: How else is anyone supposed to get all this cave-aged goat cheese home?

Fort Tilden: The Hamptons for hipsters. You can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach.

Storm King: Wear those standard iPod adapters out.
Worst Place to Smoke Cigarettes

City Parks and Beaches

First it was the bars, now it’s the public outdoor spaces. In May, a citywide ban on smoking in city parks, and on beaches and boardwalks and golf courses and stadium grounds, went into effect. The fine for transgressors is $50, but officials aren’t out enforcing the law; instead, the city expects disapprovers to nag their neighbors into compliance. How’s that going, anyway? Awesomely?

Best Place to be a Goose This Year

Prospect Park

Last year, 368 Canada geese were rounded up in Prospect Park and misguidedly gassed in the name of aviation safety; 1,676 geese were murdered across the entire city. This year, the city will continue to trap and murder geese, but the few left in Prospect Park—estimates put their population now at less than 30—will be spared because their numbers are so low. Pyrrhic!

Worst Place to Dredge or Anchor a Boat

Verrazano Bridge

Last month, the Coast Guard officially declared a safe zone around the Brooklyn tower of the Verrazano Bridge—boats, divers and fishermen must remain 70 yards away until the 1,500 rounds of ammunition and three-inch bomb currently littering the seabed, remnants of a navy ship that capsized in the 1950s, are cleared away.

Worst Place to Watch 4th of July Fireworks

North Brooklyn

For the third year in a row, Macy’s decided to host their pyrotechnic extravaganza on the Hudson, giving Jerseyites a great show while leaving north Brooklynites to watch it on TV like a bunch of Middle-American suckers.

Worst Place to Hear Classical Music Outdoors


It was bad enough that the Metropolitan Opera had scaled back its summer outreach efforts in recent years, and then this summer the Philharmonic—because of clumsy and money-driven scheduling—goes and cancels its beloved free outdoor concert series. Officials swear the concerts will return next year. They’d better! Don’t be another Macy’s, Philharmonic.

Best Public WiFi Access


The local Business Improvement District teamed up with locally dominant real estate agency Two Trees to make the entire neighborhood wireless—the first such community in the city. Now somebody can create the next eBay without having to sit in an office in 45 Main Street, where their coworkers insist on turning on the fluorescent lights even though summer sun is shining through the windows…

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Best Actress

Kate Lyn Sheil

“Quick, let’s all cast Kate Lyn Sheil in something,” a wag tweeted recently. The most recent muse of Joe Swanberg—truly, the Louis B. Mayer of microindie cinema—was also recently seen at BAMcinemaFest in Alex Ross Perry’s The Color Wheel and as the star of her Greenpoint roommate Sophia Takal’s Green. With her long, fair, freckled face and cascading hair, she looks not so unlike a very young Meryl Streep, but with less WASP-y polish and little to no eye contact. She seems to register acutely but silently the expectations of the people around her, so that when she does express her emotions they come from a powerfully deep, thoughtful place. You get the feeling she’ll end up exactly as famous as she wants to be.

Best Soundtrack to a Film Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Nothing Yet

Real Estate, Julian Lynch and others contribute fuzzily, noisily wistful tunes to this very of-the-moment road tripper from filmmakers just graduated from NYU; two estranged members of the film’s fictional garage-pop band also bond over a hilariously mumbled singalong to Live’s “Lightning Crashes,” the rights to which are well beyond the budget of this DIY lark.

Best Pickles

The Nitehawk Cinema

Let’s not go nuts about a fully integrated cultural experience bringing together all your favorite fads or anything: the best thing about Williamsburg’s new eat-in cinema is that it shows good new movies, in an actual neighborhood, where people live. But the pickles are also pretty dope.

Best New Website

All the repertory and festival screenings in New York City tonight, and for the rest of the week, listed in one place, with well-curated supplementary links and fine original criticism. Is this what a competent business model looks like? We’re repertory cinema junkies and we’ve never seen one before, is why we ask.

Best Samizdat Cinematheque

The Spectacle Theater

An ex-bodega not so repurposed that it doesn’t still sell High Life tallboys, the Spectacle is like one of those old underground screening societies, making torrent-era cinephilia public (well, in the physical sense) by unearthing rare and esoteric classics and midnight movies from the still-dark recesses of cinema history.

Best De Facto College Film Society


The atmosphere is collegial and the programmers—many of them L freelancers, so we’re a bit biased, sorry—take their fun seriously, playing top-this with undervalued vintage picks and familiar films seen from new angles.

Theocracy-Baiting Recent Transplant to the Smith-Court-Bergen-Carroll Axis


Martin Amis’s new neighbor, the director of I Am a Sex Addict, accepted a commission to make a short film for the Sharjah Biennial—the money was awarded on the condition that he not criticize the emirate’s ruler, Sheik Sultan bin Muhammad al-Qasimi. So Zahedi went to Sharjah—currently buying its way into world prominence with an oil money-funded arts festival and a construction boom—and made a film in which he criticizes the country’s treatment of migrant laborers and begs the ruler to allow the film to screen. The biennial then ordered him to destroy all copies of the film, Plot for a Biennial, and never screen it in public (an order which his lawyers are currently fighting).

04/27/11 4:00am
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04/27/2011 4:00 AM |

Let’s first get the similarities between Yellow Ostrich and Dirty Projectors out of the way: meticulous arrangements that break apart melodies and piece them together again, lots of crisscrossed loops, a recorded output well beyond their frontmens’ 20-some years. So there’s that—certainly nothing to scoff at. But there are also songs like the beautifully depressing “Slow Paddle” from Yellow Ostrich’s first proper full-length, The Mistress, and the way its pared-down folk feels so intimate when sitting alongside the more experimental fare, allowing the emotional range of the album to swing open. Whereas Dave Longstreth has taken knocks for being weird for weird’s sake, Alex Schaaf’s natural ear for melody has yet to lead Yellow Ostrich astray.

Favorite NYC venue?

I’ve only been here since last August, so I haven’t been to all the venues yet, but so far it’s definitely Bowery Ballroom. I just love how it’s got that small and intimate feeling but it’s big enough to have some great bands. I also like climbing to an impossibly high floor to get to the dressing room.

Percentage of shows played in Brooklyn vs. Manhattan?

I think we’ve played about twice as many shows in Manhattan as Brooklyn. But we did a residency at Pianos that kind of skewed the balance, as well as CMJ, which was mostly Manhattan. Our hearts are more evenly divided.

What New York band from the past has had the biggest influence on your sound?

For older bands, I’d say the Talking Heads. New stuff: Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, Wu-Tang Clan.

Favorite song about NYC?

“New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” by LCD Soundsystem. Sorry for the obvious choice, it’s been a long day. Anything but that Jay-Z song.

On tour for a month, what album would get the most play in the van?

We just did a tour for a month, and we didn’t play too many things twice, but we had just gotten the new Fleet Foxes so we played that a couple of times. Oh, and that Girls record; we played that a bunch.

Ideal four band bill, realistic:

Realistic in the sense that they are still alive/still together: Bob Dylan, Andrew Bird, Jon Brion, Neil Young.

Ideal four-–band bill, dream:

Elliott Smith, Neutral Milk Hotel (reunited), Dirty Projectors, Talking Heads (reunited)

Grand Rapids | Devin Therriault | Radical Dads | Mainland |
Rathborne | Slowdance |
Ostrich|Family Trees| |Honorable Mentions