Walking along 27th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue, you’ll hit the Radio Wave Building, where electrical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla used to live and conduct radio wave experiments in 1896, back when the building still operated as a hotel. These days, just a few blocks away on 26th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, another man of science toils away: Jason Sapan, who transforms into Dr. Laser in the seconds it takes to throw on a white lab coat.
We remember him well in the Chelsea Hotel, but Leonard Cohen’s New York City existence spanned beyond just the hotel where a makeshift memorial sprung up on Thursday after his death at the age of 82. Cohen came to New York City in 1966, just a year before the Summer of Love, and his breakthrough years there brought him into the orbit of Warhol and the Velvet Underground, the Beats, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Jimi Hendrix. He wrote songs for Nico and penned “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” after a night with Janis Joplin.
Back in 1970 Michael Netter was a recent graduate, soaking up the big city’s vibrant art scene. A striving painter, he fell in with Andy Warhol’s Factory crowd after showing up to a party with his brand new Sony Portapak video camera (20-pound backpack and all). The new technology instantly attracted the pop-master. “Before, ‘Hello, how do you do,’ it was: ‘Can you do that for me?'” Netter says of his first interaction with Warhol. For the next few years, he followed him around, filming bits and pieces of Warhol’s world, from random conversations at the Factory, to the infamous first meeting between David Bowie and Warhol (“He was miming! And miming badly!”), and interviews with the likes of Cybill Shepherd, Brigid Polk and other Warholian superstars.
What’s it like to step into another person’s fever dream…if that person has been obsessed with Andy Warhol since childhood? That’s the premise behind Raja Feather Kelly’s the feath3r theory, the first and only dance company devoted to the great Factory master of celebrity. For his new show presented by Danspace Project, Andy Warhol’s Tropico, Kelly was inspired by Lana Del Rey’s short film by the same name, which follows a kind of Adam and Eve/Bonnie and Clyde narrative from original sin to redemption, with John Wayne standing in for the God figure. Melded with Warholianism, it makes for a (two-hour plus) surreal ride through a strange new land, recycling pop culture themes and touching on the power of celebrity as well as Kelly’s own identity.
“Seeing Lana Del Rey’s Tropico made me think of Warhol and what he would do, and how ideas are connected and have lived on from now, and where that interacts with what I’m thinking about and my relationship to pop culture and my relationship to religion and to my identity and how that instructs and becomes an eternal story,” said Kelly. “I feel like Lana Del Rey and Andy Warhol sometimes get a bad a rap as sort of vapid, and I really think they are doing something larger than people will give them credit for.”
In the early 1970s, New York actor Tony Zanetta performed in underground theater in plays by Andy Warhol, Jackie Curtis and Wayne/Jayne County. His portrayal of Warhol in the play “Pork” would have him meet David Bowie in London. When Bowie visited New York in 1971, Zanetta guided him through the town’s nightlife. He soon became part of Bowie’s inner circle as tour manager of the Ziggy Stardust and Diamond Dogs tours and helped run Bowie’s MainMan management organization. Zanetta had not seen Bowie in over 40 years when he learned of his death this week. Below, Zanetta recalls the exciting time when Bowie arrived in New York an unknown who would soon become a superstar.
October 27, at 7 p.m. Barnes & Noble, 33 East 17th Street (Union Square).
The Shirley Temple of the ‘80s will read the funny, insightful and profound stories of her past and present at the signing of her new book, Wildflower. It includes tales of her living on her own at 14 years old, getting stuck in a gas station overhang on a cross-country trip, and saying goodbye to her father in a way only he could have understood. It’s the first book that Barrymore has written about her early days since she recounted her childhood drug and alcohol use in Little Lost Girl in 1991. Reviews describe it as sweet, cheerful and heartwarming, which means it’s probably safe to judge the book by its cover this time.
Okay, not hanging — this is street art, after all. But check out the mural that Solus and John “Crash” Matos put up today just across the way from the former CBGB, at Bleecker and Bowery. According to the LISA Project, the piece is part of the LoMan Art Festival, and marks the anniversary of the Ramones’ first show at CBGB, on August 16, 1974.
Discover an Andy Warhol who is “anything but the removed observer of most popular accounts” with critic, poet and CUNY professor Wayne Koestenbaum, whose writing style has been described as “an impossible lovechild from a late-night, drunken three-way between Joan Didion, Roland Barthes, and Susan Sontag.” He’ll be joined by Stephen Koch, author of Stargazer: The Life, World and Films of Andy Warhol, for an in-depth discussion about the enigmatic pop artist.
Overcoming the past is a key theme in young authors’ Edan Lepucki and Mira Jacobs debut novels, both published last year to great acclaim, so it seems natural that they would celebrate their paperback release with a discussion on the topic. Lepucki’s California tells the story of a couple living in the ruins of a dystopian America who must choose between freedom and security when they discover they are expecting a child. “Lepucki conjures a lush, intricate, deeply disturbing vision of the future,” said Jennifer Egan (Welcome to the Goon Squad). Jacob’s The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is about a daughter who returns to her childhood home to help with her unwell father, only to find herself confronted with strange looks from the hospital staff and a series of puzzling items buried in her mother’s garden. “When her plot springs surprises, she lets them happen just as they do in life: blindsidingly right in the middle of things,” said the Boston Globe.
Tuesday, July 14, at 7:30 p.m. Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton Street (Fort Greene).
While wandering from gallery to gallery yesterday in the Lower East Side, soaking up a pair of museum-like nostalgia exhibitions focusing on at least one part if not all of a few-decades long span from Warhol’s Factory days through the ’90s club kid scene, I started thinking about a conversation I’d had with one JJ Brine, Satanic gallerist extraordinaire. Before JJ took off for Vanuatu (btw according to his Facebook page, he made it just fine), he explained he was departing indefinitely because he was frustrated with what he understood as New York City’s unusual fixation on the past at the expense of devoting energy to the future. I couldn’t have agreed more, but somehow The Last Party and Michael Alig’s appropriately-titled solo exhibition, Inside / Out succeed in drawing a line, however crooked, between the past and the present and making this nostalgia part of current existence. How? Well, I felt as though I could almost see myself in some of the blurry old party photos and even the creepy clown-like painted odes to various poisons of choice.
“Very small luncheons” have been hosted all this week at 421 6th Street, according to two doormen in suits and ties who materialized through the ambiguous metal doors of the historic building Wednesday afternoon. The former Con Edison substation between Avenue A and First Avenue has come a long way from its humble roots and will host a private event Friday called “Experience Dom Perignon Kingdom,” where the champagne brand will unveil its 2004 Rose Vintage. While all this may sound very fancy for the East Village, on the 7th Street side of the lot a less-then-chic CAT generator has been chugging away for days (presumably to power said luncheons), and some locals expressed their frustration with the noise at the Community Board 3 meeting Wednesday night.
Some of the city’s most colorful characters flocked to The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center last night to celebrate the completion of a $9.2 million renovation project. A sparkling rainbow ribbon was cut by Edie Windsor, who famously caused the Supreme Court to change its exclusively heterosexual interpretation of marriage through a civil rights case that is now a historical milestone for the LGBT community. Cheers resounded as it fell to the floor.
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