There are maybe more comedians in New York City than anywhere else. And while material can vary a lot, stand-ups tend to have similar backstories, or at least in what they feel like dishing. But Elsa Waithe is a comedian like not many others. Sure, she’s a transplant from Virginia who said she “dropped everything” and moved here to “follow my dream.” She’s also of the opinion that “comedy quite literally saved my life”– another common story. But instead of squeezing her way into the big clubs, Elsa is carving out a place for under-represented comics, something she considers part of her work as a civil rights activist.
B + B Q + A
Olek is the prolific crochet artist known best for disrupting public spaces by swathing dull stone, concrete, and brick with enormous, sometimes intricate yarn hoods. While she’s spent the last 15 years living in Brooklyn, her reach as an international artist seems to be expanding ever outward from the city where she started her art career.
I was sitting in the Olive Tree Cafe, upstairs from the Comedy Cellar, flipping through Judah Friedlander’s new book. Largely single-panel cartoons, the book’s drawings run the gamut between The Far Side and The New Yorker, offering plenty of belly laughs and a few head scratchers. My favorites include one captioned, “Then one night, the dishes did Jeffrey,” a dark mass-jumper routine about a “building’s semi-annual suicide race,” and a sketch of where to meet women in Manhattan: yoga studios and $50 cupcake shops.
Most downtown Doc Marten stompers probably connote the name Richard Hell with his former bands—Television, the Heartbreakers, Richard Hell and the Voidoids—but for the last 30 years he’s mostly been writing. Hell essentially retired from music after 1984’s compilation album R.I.P., with the exception of 1992’s Dim Stars experiment with Thurston Moore et al., and he told us, “People have lots of reasons for going back on the road. It’s not tempted me for a long time.” Instead, he’s produced a stack of books, including the well-received autobiography, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp, and the collection of poetry, prose, and essays (and lovingly-produced penis drawings) Hot and Cold. Hell’s latest is a collection of his nonfiction writings, Massive Pissed Love: Nonfiction 2001-2014. We caught up with Hell (see bottom for info about upcoming local appearances) to talk about the new book, analog versus ebooks, and people stealing his haircut.
With a simple blue sundress and patriotically-colored eye glitter, 25-year-old Isabella Bustamante practically looks like she could be a teen herself. That’s not to say she’s immature, rather quite the opposite. She is the sole founder and director of Teen Art Salon, a new “arts platform that supports, develops, and promotes adolescent artists across North America.” Barely a few months old, Teen Art Salon’s main feature is its open studio space in Long Island City. Shared with a yoga studio that Bustamante’s mother operates, it is free for teens to use.
If there are two constants we face as New Yorkers, one is change and the other, our hunger for pizza. It was only a matter of time then before someone combined the two — in this case, five friends who over the past four years documented a changing New York through the time-weathered eyes of 120 of the “most authentic slice joints.” The result of there efforts: The New York Pizza Project book, which launched last week. In the excitement of the long-awaited release, we caught up with project member Ian Manheimer to find out more about the project, his thoughts on the precarious concept that is authenticity, and what makes the perfect pizzeria.
While New Yorkers can be blind to events in other cities, there are many reasons to sympathize with San Franciscans in Joshua Mohr’s new novel All This Life. Specifically, gentrification (the Mission is finally going the way of Williamsburg, in case you didn’t notice), addiction to tech, and a yearning for societal interaction that social media merely imitates.
Despite the relentless output of records, save for some piecemeal rumors, there’s not a ton to go on when it comes to PC Worship, a Bushwick-based band that spans several rotating members (but is always led by Justin Frye) as well as influences of punk, drone, even free jazz. They’re known for wild improvisation but also their success in collaborations with Parquet Courts (a popular band that is in many ways their opposite). But most critics and music bloggers have agreed: PC Worship is nothing if not inexplicable. And their new EP, Basement Hysteria, set to drop November 13 when they return from a month-long European tour, sees the band containing the tradition of drone-clouded noise worship.
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.
“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.
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.
Carlos D, former bass player of Interpol, was an integral part of the band — and was once described as its “most infamous” member. As a founder of the heavily bass-driven post-punk outfit that dominated the indie rock scene of the early aughts, his seemingly sudden departure in 2010 after issuing four solid albums, and realizing fame and success beyond what he could have ever imagined, was shocking for many fans. Not only did Carlos D quit the band, he disappeared from the downtown scene he inhabited altogether.