“Can you say love?” IZZY MAN asked the crowd during a recent performance at Bowery Electric. Behind him, four backup singers, two guitar players and a drummer melded pop and rap over an electronic beat.
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The two-bedroom apartment that Jesenia Ventura shares with her three young children, her sister, and her mother Amalia Martinez is so run-down that some windows will stay open only long enough to smash fingers, while others are stuck open even in winter. Frames of doors are ripped off, floor tiles are pulled up, and there is no running water in the bathroom sink, Jesenia says. There is green and black mold, drooping ceilings and a floor that is so warped that Jesenia’s son once tripped and cut his forehead. Jesenia worries that if she takes her kids to daycare, she’ll be reported to Child Protective Services. She says they regularly wake up in the middle of the night itching from painful-looking bedbug bites, and cockroaches crawl across their beds.
The conditions at 501-505 Grand Street, in Williamsburg, are so poor that in the summer of 2014, Amalia, Jesenia and four others organized a tenant association and filed official complaints to NYC Housing Preservation and Development. They hoped to persuade the building’s new owners, Manny and Eden Ashourzadeh of 501 EMR LLC, to make critical repairs. Keep Reading »
Saul Williams — the well-known poet, musician and actor who got his start at dark, intimate open mics throughout Brooklyn in the ’90s, rose to prominence at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and recently starred on Broadway in Holler If Ya Hear Me — will release a new collection of poetry, US (a.), on Sept. 15. Beyond the book, he’s also in the midst of creating his multi-media project MartyrLoserKing (MLK). Earlier this summer, Williams finished a nation-wide tour to promote the album, which will drop in early 2016. Now he’s writing the script for the MLK film — a deviation from the play he originally envisioned. The third leg of the project is the same-titled graphic novel, which will also be released in 2016.
A young man with rich brown hair, soft lips and a blindfold reposes on a mattress. It will only take one quick movement of your wrist to sign the waiver, and then he is yours to watch. To kiss. Or both.
“What if on the outside of this picture, where this guy is sitting on a chair with his guitar, there’s a chained up hostage being held outside the frame?” said Brenna Ehrlich, explaining the inspiration behind her debut novel. “That would be super weird.”
Ehrlich will launch Placid Girl tonight at her neighborhood bookstore, Word in Greenpoint. She describes the YA thriller as a punk rock version of Catfish. After Hallie, a young aspiring drummer, starts talking to her “favorite masked punk musician” on a photo-sharing app, she decides to travel with a group of friends to meet Haze in person. The result is a gut-knotting trajectory from suburban teenager to dangerously obsessed fangirl.
“Boots and buckles, red clay and sand. My point ain’t subtle. I’m a southern man,” are the opening lines to The Cadillac Three’s song “The South,” a country-meets-rock tune you might just catch if you stop by The Shop this Saturday.
Last week saw the release of Ten Thousand Saints, which we’ve been looking forward to ever since the film reenacted the Tompkins Square Park riot last year. The adaptation of Eleanor Henderson’s novel revolves around a hippie father, Les (Ethan Hawke), who brings his teenage son, Jude (Asa Butterfield), to the tumultuous East Village in 1988, the year of the riot.
While living with his way-too-chill, pot-smoking dad, Jude becomes absorbed in the straight-edge punk scene and fascinated by a rich, uptown girl (Hailee Steinfeld). Variety describes the film as a “love letter to a bygone era of New York City,” and, because we have our own love affair with that time and place, we played jealous lover and did some snooping. We spoke with directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (American Splendor, Girl Most Likely, The Nanny Diaries) about how the East Village of the 1980s intertwines with the lives of the characters, why Ethan Hawke is the ultimate New Yorker, those silly lap dogs on the Upper East Side, and Springer Berman’s accidental involvement in that epic clash of police and residents.
One of the few fun things to come out of the subway last winter was that viral video in which a little girl inspired a dance-off at the Bedford Avenue stop. On a recent afternoon in Washington Square Park, we followed the sounds of a sandpaper-meets-velvet voice and “old time rock ‘n soul” until we happened upon the band behind the video, Coyote & Crow.
A massive mural on the side of 26 Second Avenue was completed over the weekend by Os Gêmeos, “the twins” known to their mother as Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo. Described on their Instagram as an “independent project,” the work is dedicated “to the golden era #oldschool #mural #hiphop – Respect to everyone that has made and continues to keep the real Hiphop alive!”
“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will scar me for life,” reads a framed art installation, the white cursive letters bleached onto a black background with a skull and cross bones underneath. Just below is a larger framed piece, all chalkboard black except for the whites of one eye that looks at you as you read, “Forget who your parents taught you to hate forget forget.”
Bushwick band Best Behavior is already catching attention and touring nationally — even though it only formed in January. A self-described “60s garage rock, surf punk” band, the four guys are preparing for the release of their debut LP, Good Luck Bad Karma, which drops today via Money Fire Records. As is required of any self-respecting garage-rock band, a celebration of the release will ensue at Union Pool on Saturday night. They’ll perform with Haybaby, The Rizzos, and Surf Rock Is Dead, which released a new single today.
No need to wait for the New York Comedy Festival to roll around: the Brooklyn Comedy Festival takes place later this month, and to get you revved up there’ll be a free art show and party tomorrow night.