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Before You Go Back to Your Urban Garden, Get The Lead Out

Don’t get too excited. Up close and personal with a soil sample from McCarren Park (Photo: Jamie Cone, 2015)

Hey, I hate to be the one to tell you, but this fancy schmancy Spring weather? Yeah, it’s a total tease. Like, check back in 24 hours and you’ll see what I mean. Still, nothing should stop you from getting started on your backyard or finding out how to get involved in your community garden. Well, except for frost. Yeah, come to think of it frost will pretty much kill the fruits of your backbreaking horticultural efforts no matter what. Besides, according to Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) there’s one thing you absolutely must figure out before you plop down any seedlings: Do you know what’s in your soil?

“Everybody should be testing their soil before they garden,” said Allison Currier, an organizer at NAG. “North Brooklyn especially. That’s because if you’re a resident of Greenpoint or Williamsburg, in all likelihood you’ve got some lead on your hands.

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Week in Film: Dev Hynes and Peaches in Berlin, a Body Horror Divorce Story, and More


Desire Will Set You Free
Friday February 24 (7:30 pm), Saturday February 25 (5 pm), and Sunday February 26 (7:30 pm) at Spectacle: $5 (probz best to buy in advance)

Because it’s shot in the sort of bold, hyper-real HD-quality style that’s available to even low-budget filmmakers now, Desire Will Set You Free already feels too real from the POV of click-play. Which is funny, because filmmaker Yony Leyser (who stars as Ezra, an American expat) is celebrating the freewheeling, anything-goes Berlin of the twenty-teens (aka now), a place where weirdos, freaks, and artists can live out their fantasies, especially the sexy ones, which is all about negating the supposedly fixed norms of society and transgressing life as it was handed to us. Even the title, “Lust Macht Frei” in German, is the opposite of the infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which appeared sometimes welded into iron gates at the entry point to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps.

Berlin has been the place for your coolest friends to flock to over the last several years, and if you haven’t made the trip, “Desire” is definitely a great way to get acquainted with the city’s “hedonistic queer underground,” as Spectacle writes, and its nonstop, freaky deaky nightlife. The theater is hosting three screenings that serve as the film’s New York City premiere, and judging by the sparkly cast (Dev Hynes, Peaches, and Nina Hagen, among others), the promised “Q&A with special guests” is probably gonna be pretty great.


The Brood
Sunday February 26 at Anthology Film Archives: $11

This 1979 sci-fi-tinged horror film is a Cronenberg classic, and Anthology is screening it this weekend as part of its Canadian classics series, Gimme Shelter: Hollywood North. In part, The Brood is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the filmmaker’s own “body horror” sub-genre obsession– blood, guts,– but the film puts even more weight on what’s in some ways a much spooky psycho-thriller-style of horror storytelling that recalls The Shining (and, sure, stylistically the two movies feel cut from the same cloth too).

At the center of the film is a woman, Samantha Eggar, who is deemed psychologically unstable and pursues experimental treatment by a doctor who believes that dramatic physical changes in the body’s chemistry can eradicate mental illness. Meanwhile, Eggar’s ex-husband steps in to take care of their daughter, and promptly pursues full custody. She might be far away, geographically and mentally, but Eggar knows what’s up, and her treatment has the terrifying consequence of enabling her to undertake “the spawning of a brood of murderous mutant children who act on [her] rages.”

Cronenberg wasn’t just guessing, either– he was actually in the middle of his own messy divorce and custody battle when the film was under development. Anthology writes that the director has called The Brood “my version of Kramer vs Kramer, while noting that that film’s ‘happy ending’ was a million miles away” from his own take on the process of unraveling a marriage.

(Image via The Metrograph)

TVTV Looks at the Oscars

Saturday February 25, 10:15 pm at The Metrograph: $12

Hey! The Oscars are coming up. I bet you, like myself, could care less. Like, really, why would anyone wanna spend their Sunday evening (Friday February 26 at 5:30 PST) watching a bloated film industry hand out a bunch of little gold alien man statues to a film literally called La La Land  in an awkward display of “Hey! Look at us! Seriously, we aren’t racist”? The award ceremony (and really, any mainstream award ceremony) has so little to do with our day-to-day lives that it’s barely worth kvetching about. And yet here we are…

Thankfully, the Metrograph has put together an alternative program hosted by TVTV, a “guerrilla video”-making collective that got its start in San Fransisco way back in 1972,”– like, long before it was full of the dregs of humanity (i.e. tech bros). Consisting of tape from the 1976 award ceremonies, when Lily Tomlin was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her roll in Nashville, TVTV put together this
“close-up look at Hollywood’s annual awards ceremony that mixes intimate behind-the-scenes views with deadpan comedy, featuring [Tomlin] as a mousy homemaker watching the Oscars in her suburban home.”

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Go and Cut Your Hair at This Speakeasy-Esque ‘Anti-Salon’

(Photo courtesy of Diamond in the Rough)

Getting a haircut is never as simple as it sounds, especially in this city. You’re gonna need some help, unless you have one or more of the following: a) extremely liberal views on what counts as presentable b) a steady pair of hands, and c) tremendous flexibility á la the double-jointed faction of showtime kids. Good luck with that whole finding-a-stylist thing, by the way. If you’re searching within a two-mile radius of Greenpoint alone Yelp turns up 218 hair salons. On top of that, professional hair choppin’ is a fiercely competitive scene, and yet salons still manage to be painfully expensive and, in some cases, rather uncomfortable.

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Week in Shows: a Church for PC Worship, Psychedelic Orchestras, and More

(Flyer via AdHoc)

Naomi Punk, PC Worship, Maria Chavez
Tuesday February 21, 7 pm to 11 pm at the Park Church Co-Op: $12

If this one’s news to you, throw down your laptop (yeah, like, on the ground), pick up your feet and hurry get a move on– this one starts, like, now.

Attraction numero uno is an Olympia-based band called Naomi Punk, returning from a bitty recording hiatus, presumably with an album in the works. And their name doth not betray– Punk’s stripped-down, dusty-beer-can styling tacks a refreshingly chill vibe over garage-rock tradition, which can often veer toward needless broey BS. In other words, these cats put some much-needed “punk” in garage punk.

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Week in Film: 8-Bit Computer Wars, Women Do Horror, and More


Harlan County, U.S.A.
Friday February 17 through Wednesday February 22 at The Metrograph: $15

Lately we’e seen some pretty intense and protracted protest movements fighting it out against the seemingly impossible-to-topple Powers That Be, and in some cases actually succeeding in their effort (or lasting much longer than anyone could have guessed).

Flashback to 1974, Southeastern Kentucky: a group of coalminers and their families organized against the Eastover Coal Company– one of those Coal Country corporate machines that own whole towns and everything in it. If you want to hear more about what it was like to be a director embedded in such a massive strike, be sure to go tonight at 7 pm for a special Q+A with the filmmaker Barbara Kopple. Because this film takes place in Appalachia, it would be absolutely criminal to proceed without a banjo, so the night includes a live performance by Appalachian musician Jack Morris, whose father David Morris was featured in the film’s soundtrack.

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Battle of the Bag Tax: Bodega Workers Have Mixed Feelings About Five-Cent Fee

Deli on Franklin Avenue in Greenpoint (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Deli on Franklin Avenue in Greenpoint (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Last week, our Seattle-bred writer told New Yorkers to stop being babies about the five-cent fee that the City Council had voted to impose for the use of plastic takeout bags. That plea fell on deaf ears, because on Tuesday, Governor Cuomo blocked implementation of the Bring Your Own Bag Law for at least a year. The Lower East Side’s own Margaret Chin was among those who dropped a W-T-F bomb, insisting that “carryout bag fees are the right policy” and that Cuomo’s move had quashed a measure that she and her colleagues in City Council had “democratically adopted” after slogging through “two years of hearings, reviewing evidence, reusable bag giveaways, and public debate.”

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Satanic Gallerist JJ Brine Created This Valentine For Donald Trump

New work by JJ Brine of Vector Gallery (Image courtesy of the artist, JJ Brine)

New work by JJ Brine of Vector Gallery (Image courtesy of the artist, JJ Brine)

Last time we spoke to JJ Brine, the man behind “the official art gallery of Satan,” he told us that Donald J. Trump was “pure poison.” That was in August, right after the Republican National Convention. JJ, the self-declared “Crown Prince of Hell,” refused to say much more about the GOP candidate, even though Brine had his own political agenda: He had just tabled a plan to bring Vector Gallery to Washington D.C. in order to “‘program” the presidential elections and cause “systemic shifts in the geopolitical configuration of power in the Middle East.”

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Gig Alert: V-Day Hand Massages, ‘Devil Worshipping Blues’ in a Church, and More

(Flyer by Kerry Santullo via Facebook)

(Flyer by Kerry Santullo via Facebook)

Mary Lattimore, Rosali, Energy Star, DJ Nina
Tuesday February 14, 8 pm at Trans-Pecos: $10 in advance/ $12 at the door

If you’re anything like me, you will be spending Valentine’s Day alone. But cheer up, flying solo is not such a terrible fate– just think about all the stupid flowers you won’t have to carry around in some silly bouquet or whatever, and all that dumb perfume you don’t have to spray all over your body just to smell like the mall. Unlike everyone else, you’re gonna spend your V Day being aggressively single, which means leaving your apartment, head held high, and rocking your natural scent with pride, because you’re going to need all the pheromones you can muster.

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Bushwick City Council Rep Denounces Trump’s Latest Series of Executive Orders

City Council Member Antonio Reynoso speaks at a rally in support of the Right to Know Act in April 2016 (Photo: Kavitha Surana)

City Council Member Antonio Reynoso speaks at a rally in support of the Right to Know Act in April 2016 (Photo: Kavitha Surana)

On the heels of President Trump signing three executive orders “designed to restore safety in America,” City Council Member Antonio Reynoso is condemning the actions as “deeply concerning.” In a statement, he says it was “only fitting” that Trump signed the orders “while swearing in noted racist Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.”

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Week in Film: Polish Mermaid Strippers, a ‘Shapeshifting’ New Leftist, and More


The Lure
Friday February 10 through Thursday February 16 at IFC Center: $14

This beautifully shot, futuro nightlife fantasy flick is sort of like a glammed-up, femme-fatale version of Splash, only the mermaids here are hardly damsels in distress. These sister mermaids are flesh-eating fish people with vampy tendencies. They have the same power to entrance and, well, lure that sirens are supposed to have, but that somehow American imaginings have left out (Puritans, ughhh). I guess it took some Catholic guilt and Polish imagination to get this darkened-disco retelling of The Little Mermaid off the ground. IFC writes, “One sister falls for a human, and as the bonds of sisterhood are tested, the lines between love and survival get blurred.”

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Henry Chalfant’s Golden Age ‘Graf Writers’ Speak

Henry Chalfant, "Mad PJ" 1980 (Image courtesy of Eric Firestone Gallery)

Henry Chalfant, “Mad PJ” 1980 (Image courtesy of Eric Firestone Gallery)

Long before Gordon Gekko’s bimbo cousin was inaugurated in January (no doubt aided by doing the best impression of Ronald Reagan he could muster), trend pieces had picked up a scent that hinted which way the wind was blowing. It had notes of burnt hair and overcooked mini vegetables on the nose, followed by white wine spritzer, and finished with a robust whiff of Misty Slim Lights and the lingering, chemically after-stank of cheap knockoff perfumes like “If you like Giorgio you’ll love PRIMO!” Then, the elections made it official: the ’80s are back, baby.

It might have smelled delicious, but the Decade of Greed wasn’t exactly a superbly excellent time for everyone involved. But for all the negi vibes–magnified in New York City by an extreme wealth gap– the ’80s produced some truly inspiring art, and the best of it came from a thriving, vibrant underground. During this time, graffiti reached its “golden age,” as a recent photography exhibition, Henry Chalfant: 1980, reminded us, and it wasn’t long before graf became a worldwide cultural phenomenon.

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Week in Shows: Netherlands of Brooklyn, ‘Nihilist Queer Revolt,’ and More

(Flyer via Saint Vitus)

(Flyer via Saint Vitus)

Party to Protect Your Parts: A Planned Parenthood Benefit
Wednesday February 8, 6:30 to 11 pm at Saint Vitus: $15

Given the heavy flow of benefit shows going on around town these days, it seems inevitable that a band called Netherlands would pick Planned Parenthood as their cause of choice. Proceeds aren’t going directly to Planned Parenthood, but instead will be funneled into a PAC known as PPNYC Votes, which supports candidates running for political office at the state level. But wait a sec, aren’t we doing pretty well when it comes to reproductive rights in New York state? Actually, not so much. As one of the show’s organizers explained on Facebook, there is still a majority in the State Senate “opposed to reproductive rights.” You, like me, probably assumed that these Biblical, stick-up-the-you-know-what holdups of complex, usually self-hating origin (I mean, Brad Patton, the shimmery blond and toothy-smiled gay porn star, made a really convincing Mike Pence) were reserved for rural representatives, the same guys (they are all guys, let’s be real) who wilt at the sight of a stray tampon string. Wrong-o again. Four of those PP-blockin’ pols are from our very own city.

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