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Surviving the Cage: A New York Newbie Steps Onto the West 4th Street Courts

(Photos: Matthew Silver)

The West 4th Street Courts are some of the most fearsome in New York City; their reputation for physical play and cutthroat competition is the stuff of documentaries. They’re known as “The Cage,” which helps describe the four towering walls of chain-link fence that surround them, along with the openly hostile territory inside. It’s said that none other than NBA legend Julius Erving used to play here in his heyday. I, on the other hand, was cut from my high school basketball team (in Canada, no less). So, when I rolled up to The Cage with a freshly bought basketball, I had more confidence than actual talent.

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Campus Crime Report: Sexual Assaults, Burglary On the Rise at NYU

(Photo: Daniel Maurer)

Reported rapes more than doubled at NYU’s Washington Square campus from 2014 to 2016, rising from 6 to 16 reported incidents, according to the university’s 2017 security and fire safety report.

The rise in reported rapes at the Washington Square campus has outpaced the rise in the NYPD’s 6th precinct, which also covers the Washington Square Park area. From 2014 to 2016, there was a 36 percent increase in the 6th precinct, or 11 incidents in 2014 and 15 incidents in 2016. During that same period, NYU saw a 166 percent increase in reported rapes.

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Performance Picks: Nightcaps, Bars Become Barns, and Black Girl Magic


Nightcap | by Ike
Thursday, October 19 at Joe’s Pub, 9:30 pm: $15

Sometimes you’ve had a long and hard week, and you just want to sit back in a comfortable chair and enjoy a nice nightcap. Whether this, to you, means a snug piece of headwear to pair with a matching set of PJs or a fine pour of neat whiskey, come Thursday night it means joining comedic performer Ikechukwu Ufomadu at Joe’s Pub for a night of special guests, gentle quips, live music, and more. As a host and performer, Ike has a demeanor and tone of voice that will simultaneously make you chuckle robustly and feel like a soft blanket is enveloping your very form. Joining him on this evening will be jazz singer Stephan Crump and singer-songwriter LOLO. Keep Reading »

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First Look: Kenny Scharf Brings a Psychedelic ‘Cosmic Cavern’ to MoMA For the Club 57 Show

Kenny Scharf’s move to the sunny climes of Los Angeles put an end to his Cosmic Cavern parties in Bushwick. But as you can see from his latest Instagram post, the onetime East Village artist has recreated the blacklit, day-glo play pen for an exhibit opening at MoMA on Halloween. “Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983” will pay tribute to the legendary club and performance space in the basement of a Polish church on St. Marks Place.

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5 Pointz Artists Go to Court With Building Owner Who Demolished Street Art Mecca

(Photo: Garrett Ziegler on Flickr)

The 5 Pointz building was a world-famous haven for spray-paint artists, until it was whitewashed in 2013 and then torn down to make way for luxury apartments. Now the owner of the Long Island City property is in court defending himself against artists who say the demolition destroyed their property.

“The art has to be recognized as of value,” said Judge Frederic Block, explaining the central legal point to the jury. “You are going to hear experts testify, and they are not going to agree with each other.”

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Record Store Day’s Black Friday Goodies Include Releases From Lou Reed and Richard Hell

I’m a member of the “blank” generation– the generation that grew up copying albums onto blank cassettes. But for all the vinyl heads, Record Store Day’s Black Friday cometh. This year, on Nov. 24, a bevy of limited-edition releases will hit local indie record shops, including recordings by downtown legends Lou Reed and Richard Hell & the Voidoids.

We’ve already clued you into the Lou Reed release: The folks behind legendary Village club The Bottom Line are putting out the latest installment in their Bottom Line Archive Series, a recording of one of Lou’s 50-odd appearances there. This 1994 set features him playing and bantering with Kris Kristofferson (you can listen to an acoustic rendition of “Sweet Jane” to hear Lou brutally shut down the country legend when he tries to whip out his harmonica). According to the folks at Record Store Day, the release will be a picture disc that’s limited to 1,000; it’ll feature Lou talking about the Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol, and playing numbers like “Betrayed” and “Legendary Hearts.”

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While Urbanists Imagine NYC’s Retreat From the Coast, It’s Already Happening

“Bight City,” or the Rockaways without humans. (Photo via DLANDstudio + Landscape Architecture)

There were shocked murmurs at this year’s Municipal Art Society Summit when the crowd was shown a visualization of the Rockaways after the ecological displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.

“I don’t want to be insensitive,” said Susannah C. Drake, founder of the design firm DLANDstudio + Landscape Architecture. “But we anticipate that it is going to be a very different landscape.”

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Art This Week: Lasers And Dust, Queer Art Auction, Bodies Reimagined

Opening Tuesday, October 17 at Dia:Chelsea. On view through June 2.

The space at Dia:Chelsea is big and expansive, as it used to belong to the Alamo Marble Company. This makes it a particularly good fit for Rita McBride’s Particulates, a light sculpture installation consisting of sixteen lasers, water molecules, “surfactant compounds,” and appropriately, some marble dust. The result of this interesting collection of materials is a recreation of what seems to be the vast expanse of outer space mixed with a neon sci-fi world of the future, which should be good news to the people who have always wanted to feel enveloped in the galactic void but do not have the means to actually get up there. For those who cannot make it to the exhibit in-person, there is also a livestream of it. Keep Reading »

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Mudbound Director Dee Rees on What We Can Learn From her Jim Crow-Era Epic

(Photo: Natalia Winkelman)

Mudbound burst onto the film scene during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered to near universal acclaim for its nuanced depiction of race relations and familial bonds in post-World War II Mississippi. Its Sundance premiere fell on January 21, the day after President Trump’s inauguration. The timeliness was difficult to ignore.

Brooklyn-bred director Dee Rees touched on the disturbing resonance of the film’s themes during a New York Film Festival press conference on Thursday. “I hope that people take away the fact that we can’t begin to tackle our collective history until we interrogate our own personal histories,” she said. “It’s not just about race––it’s about what ideas we’ve inherited, what attitudes we’ve inherited, and what we’re unconsciously passing on.”

The idea of inheritance is central to Mudbound, which hinges on the dynamics of two families––one black, one white––living on a farm in the American south. The film achieves a rare intimacy with each character in its starry ensemble cast, delving into the psyche and sensibility of each through private moments and voiceover of inner thoughts. Rees deftly delineates parallels between various members of the families, including the two solicitous mothers (played by Carey Mulligan and Mary J. Blige) and the two shellshocked sons coming home from war abroad (Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedlund).

“This could’ve been a movie just about two soldiers returning from war, or this could’ve been a movie just about this family trying to better themselves,” Rees said. Instead, “the multiplicity of voices and different points of view” was what drew her to the labyrinthine epic. By according each character his or her own voice and story, the film operates as an enormous empathy machine, compelling the audience to penetrate the minds and moods of an array of diversely flawed characters. The technique feels especially powerful when set against a period of palpable racial animosity.

There is also a notably classical style to the filmmaking, engendered by gorgeous imagery and an epic narrative breadth. The bleak, muddy landscape becomes a motif that unites the characters in a common feeling of futility and isolation. When asked if she would categorize the film in a tradition of melodrama, Rees responded: “I just saw it as good American cinema. I wanted this to be an old-fashioned film. I wanted this to be a film like they don’t make anymore.” Addressing the film’s 134-minute runtime, Rees added, “I wanted to break out of the 90 minute artificial construct and just really let the voices ring out, let the story live.”

Rees’s debut film Pariah, which premiered to acclaim and a Cinematography award at Sundance in 2011, is an autobiographical rendering of Rees’s own experience growing up as a gay black teen in Brooklyn. Though Mudbound unfolds 70 years earlier and on a much larger scale than Pariah, both films demonstrate a profound perspicacity in dealing with splintering relationships and personal struggle.

Taking the empathy of Mudbound as a guide, the best way to move forward, Rees says, is by examining and confronting our own personal histories. “Each of our lives is a single thread, and we’re all weaving the same thing,” Rees said, speaking to the tattered racial tapestry that Mudbound illuminates. “We’re all connected to what happened before. We’re not separate from our past. We’re all actors in the present––we are not passively watching it. We’re all actors in what we’re creating.”

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Tallest Essex Crossing Building Tops Out at 26 Stories

(Photo: QuallsBenson)

Days after announcing that the International Center of Photography would move to Essex Crossing, developers of the Lower East Side urban renewal area have announced that their tallest building has been topped off. The building at 115 Delancey Street, right across from ICP’s future home, is the last in Phase I to reach its full height of 26 stories, Delancey Street Associates said. 

Spanning an entire city block bounded by Norfolk, Delancey, Broome and Essex streets, the building is the 6-acre project’s largest structure and will house some of its most talked-about amenities, including a new home for the Essex Street Market and a 14-screen Regal Cinemas.

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