Up until, ahem, pretty recently, you could get away with making the claim that as Americans we are far more enlightened than we were 50, or even 10 years ago. The numbers appear to support this– fewer of us are going to church, the youngins among us are far more tolerant than the olds, 60 percent of us are down to see marijuana legalized, and best of all, this whole “Golden Age of TV” thing means that even our beloved Idiot Box is smart these days. We all know what happened next– which meant that progress was not only going to be stopped, but deported back to Angela Merkel’s lap and replaced by nonsense rhetoric (the “best people” are doing “tremendous” things to make the U.S.A. “great” “again”) and “alternative facts.” We are only a few months into this horror show, but the impact on art, and how we process art, is already being felt.
Art + Culture
Something strange is happening in the American psyche right now. Just a few years ago, the heroes of New York City-centric comedy TV were disconnected 20-somethings with suspiciously fancy apartments who wandered the earth clueless as to why no one wanted to date their flawless Tinder profile/soulless body. Now, they’re much tinier creatures that we rarely notice IRL and if we do, we’re like gagging and pointing and screaming: “Gawwwwd, I think that rat is bubonic.”
Hot on the hoofs of Louis CK’s The Secret Life of Pets, and HBO’s Animals (which just returned for season two), a new animated feature from Brooklyn-based animation company Cartuna offers a peek at what these city-dwelling creatures see in us humans. Obviously, it ain’t pretty.
Fred Thomas, Kyle Forester, What Next?
Wednesday March 29, 8 pm at Union Pool: $12
Back in 2007 when Saturday Looks Good to Me had found its way into CMJ, the Detroit Metro Times wondered, “Will Success Spoil Fred Thomas?” The short answer has turned out to be, no, not really. The slightly longer one is that Fred Thomas is a nice guy. So nice is Fred Thomas, that even after finding some well-deserved recognition in a fast-shrinking corner of music that is still confoundingly known as “indie rock,” he still does normal cool-dude stuff. He recently even stooped to record the lowliest trash-life punk that Detroit has to offer: the K9 Sniffies, whose members I hesitate to even call “musicians” (but who I am obligated to admit are my friends, or whatever).
You know what’s cool about ancient Greek mythology? It looks good on almost anyone. Even 21st-century French people, as you’ll see in Christophe Honoré’s new film Metamorphoses. It’s actually based on a really old poem–but you already knew that by the film’s title right? Metamorphoses (the original) dates to about 8 AD when this Roman dude named Ovid fused bits from more than 250 existing Greek mythos together to create a pretty wacky piece of non-linear literature that defies the standard didactic, A-to-B tellings that were popular back then. Thankfully, Ovid’s story is every bit as riveting as the OG mythos, which are always chock-full gore, guts, adultery, betrayal and, of course, horny gods mingling with orgy-prone mortals.
Concert for Immigration Rights: Glasser, Underground System, Tigue, Elena Moon Park & Friends, Ashley Bathgate, and Ljova
Wednesday March 22, doors 7 pm at Le Poisson Rouge: $25
Le Poisson Rouge is hosting a benefit this week for the New York Immigration Coalition, which is cool. As you might expect, they’ve put together an eclectic lineup to help rake in the cash for a chill cause: defending immigrants rights. Funds are going directly to the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) which provides services that LPR says are “particularly crucial in the wake of the recent presidential executive actions.” Hear, hear.
Old Dude Winter took the opportunity of his last week in charge to drop a final bowel movement on us: a big ol’ pile of snow to which the city adds its own secret ingredients –mostly street juice and dog refuse– resulting in the world’s grossest Slurpee flavor. But hope may have arrived just in time with a new music video from Bigmun & Frost. Shot in July of last year, it’s a reminder of what summertime is all about in Brooklyn– and for John Bigmun it’s not just backyard kiddie pools filled with beer, it’s also the Giglio Feast that goes down every year in Williamsburg at Lady of Mount Carmel. “It’s like the most amazing thing in the world,” he said. “It’s old Brooklyn, it’s the old country.”
Fet culture and cinema? I mean, duh, guys, they’re a match made in heaven– er, whichever circle of hell doms and bronies go to. (Dunno about you guys, but that’s where I’m hoping to end up, Lucifer willing). That’s why Cinekink NYC– which clears up any confusion by calling itself “the kinky film festival”– is popping off this week for its 14th year.
Lady Pills, Dead Stars, RIPS, Monograms
Wednesday March 15, 8 pm at Trans-Pecos: $10
Another one of our own bit the dust– say it with me: RIP Shea Stadium. Now what? Get out there and keep supporting DIY venues across the city. And yes, that also goes for homegrown spots that just happen to be certified-legit, grown-up, and now pleasant after years of hard and risky work– never forget that these dudes are threatened by the looming, apparently totally arbitrary powers that be.
Deathdays aren’t usually cause for celebration, but in the case of Christopher Wallace– better known as Biggie Smalls– it only makes sense to organize an art show dedicated to the late rapper around the afterlife. Without it, 20 Big Years would have denied the necromancy that runs throughout the life work of Notorious B.I.G. (his mere two studio albums are a clear sign that his life was cut too short), and that has come to define his persona after death. Even if all these ghosts still give his fans the willies. As one visitor, pointing to an altered version of Barron Claiborne’s famous photo of Biggie wearing a crown, said to her friend: “That one with the skull–it’s so morbid, but so deep.” (The friend agreed.)
Dirty Little Billy
Thursday March 9, 9:30 pm at Nitehawk: $16
Legends and lore of the Old West have been distorted so horrendously for modern entertainment purposes that what most people know about Billy the Kid they’ve learned from The Wild Wild West (arguably Will Smith’s greatest cinematic/symphonic achievement ever) and a National Geographic Channel reenactment where the infamous, down-n’dirty, sharp-shootin’ gunslinger is portrayed by a male-frickin’-model.
At first it was sort of sad that for this year’s rendition, Spring/Break Art Show had traded its eccentric, labyrinthine location inside a disused section of the historic James A. Farley Post Office in Chelsea for an actual office space. But when the elevator doors opened on the 23rd floor of the Condé Nast building in Midtown, the switch-up immediately made so much sense–because, let’s be real, an artist-led hostile takeover of corporate America is exactly what we need right now (even it it’s just for a few days).
Eames Armstrong, The New York Review of Cocksucking, Scant, Brandon Lopez, Lacanthrope, Sapphogeist
Monday March 6, 8 pm at Alphaville: $10
Is life even real anymore? Well, considering that we, fine people of this once and forever great city, now have a band named The New York Review of Cocksucking to call our very own, it’s hard to believe that reality right now is indeed real. How could it be? Especially when the official soundtrack to our lives, at least for a moment– jazzily improvised by none other than the duo Michael Foster and Richard Kamerman (who have done the right thing in choosing a moniker that sounds like a James Franco-produced lit mag)– is a truly alien form of avant-garde freakwave. Lend your ears to their looping tape noise (disintegration incarnate) and saxophone sounds easily mistook for the pleasure wales of fornicating dolphins, and discover that the finite world is overrated.