Comedy is not a pursuit for the faint of heart, and that goes for audiences and comics alike. Lately, there’s been a widespread and mercilessly drawn-out public debate over what exactly counts as “offensive,” and how that may or may not be something quite separate from old-fashioned hate– you know, the classics, like racism, misogyny, homophobia. Meanwhile the term “safe space” has become so common, so misused and abused, that invoking it comes with some seriously heavy baggage that makes it almost impossible to use without infuriating some people and inspiring others to swoon.
Art + Culture
Thursday January 12 through Sunday January 15 at Knockdown Center: first night free, $10 individual, $20 all access pass
Earlier we told you about Nasty Women, the massive new exhibition bringing a whopping 1,000 pieces of art made by 700 artists (all of them women and female-identifying) to Knockdown Center this Friday. The organizers have lined up a “very diverse” group for the everything’s-for-sale exhibition (if you buy it, you get to drag it out the door with you that day), which pretty much guarantees a feeding frenzy. Sounds scary? Well, suck it up and relish in the competition because, seriously, when’s the last time you truly got excited about anything? Plus, if you can bring yourself to cough up a hundo bill–at the very most, since the art work must be priced at $100 or less (yup, that even applies to the fancy sparkly art stars involved in the show)– you can feel like a somewhat sorta decent half-human because all the proceeds are going to Planned Parenthood.
Both touring bands and local music fans (aka members of an aloof subculture that you wouldn’t understand) have probably felt a shifting tide. Over the summer, a huge wave of closings washed into Bushwick, sweeping away DIY spots like Palisades then Aviv while making its way through Greenpoint. When it finally crashed into downtown, it showed no mercy to even longtime establishments like The Stone (which plans to close in February of next year), and Cake Shop, with its perfectly legal bar and ten-year lease. Meanwhile, Market Hotel is treading water after cops conducted a “gotcha” raid in October. It might seem like from here on out the only alternatives (start going to Terminal 5? move to New Jersey?) are pretty grim, but at least one still-standing Brooklyn establishment is taking advantage of the vacuum to reimagine themselves as a venue.
A new art show opening this week is just the sort of hopeful omen we need really, really need right now, just one week before this horror show of an election culminates in Donald Trump’s inauguration, when he’ll make history as the Free World’s very first Twitter Troll in Chief. Nasty Women is proof that, even though we can expect many, many more deeply ignorant, casually misogynist remarks (like the one that inspired this show) to drop like so many pigeon poos from the stratospheric heights of Trump Tower, there are an even greater number of people out there who are refusing to let this stuff slide.
Yesterday, Anthology Film Archives announced that, for the first time in their 46-year history, big changes are coming to the institution in the form of an expansion to their East Village operations that will include a library and café.
Another venue spent New Year’s Eve saying their last goodbyes to regulars and anyone else with a drink in their hand. For the last few years, Cake Shop was running on borrowed time. Back in 2012, when the gritty bitty Lower East Side venue’s Ludlow Street neighbor, The Living Room, closed up shop after more than 15 years in business, it seemed like it was only a matter of time.
Friday January 6, 7:30 pm at Spectacle: $5
It’s been an awful long time since I’ve seen a movie at Spectacle… who am I kidding? I was pretty much lost for the two or so weeks when I was forced to go without this $5 standby, cini-mini home for everyone from underground-art house weirdos and to -sploitation freaks. I forgive you Spectacle workers, I guess you too needed to watch Law & Order with your family and drunkenly cry yourself to sleep in your childhood bedroom where Frank the teddy bear has been replaced by a mostly-empty bottle of desperately cheap whiskey.
Last year was a rough one for cultural spaces of all kinds in New York City, so it was somewhat fitting (if not totally sad) that a slew of local spots said their peace-outs during New Year’s Eve festivities. Among the departing establishments that went out with a bang on one of the drunkest night of the year was Over the Eight, a Williamsburg bar which closed up shop after “three and a half years” of “slinging cheap drinks and treasured times” (as we heard back in November when the owners first announced their departure).
Synthicide: Three-Year Anniversary
Thursday January 4, 10 pm to 4 am at Bossa Nova Civic Club: FREE
Even if right now the weather’s making you feel like your bones will never dry, your shoes will always be soggy, and that possibly your muscles will continue spazzing forever and ever, hold on for two more days. And in the mean time, repeat over and over “Free, free at last!” Slowly, your hands will start to defrost, color will return to your face, and a your eyes will even start to twinkle. By the time Thursday rolls around you can let it all out, by placing your booty on the Bossa Nova dance floor as soon as you’re able for the venue’s third annual Synthicide party.
This week, we continue with our series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.
In June 1931, with America’s working class still deep in the grip of the Great Depression, a handful of actors in New York City performed Art is a Weapon, a skit first adapted by the New York’s Workers’ Laboratory Theatre. It begins with a Capitalist, with a “silk topper and over-refined accent,” making his declaration about the limited uses of art. The workers respond by making the distinction between proletarian and bourgeois art; between art intended to amuse and enlighten the elite and art meant to liberate workers.
The last time I saw a bunch of RAE BK‘s work all in one place was in 2015, just after the street artist and Brooklyn-native had opened his guerrilla-style solo exhibition in Chinatown. But the show wasn’t held at a gallery, instead RAE’s site-specific installation was housed inside a dingy old basement, accessible only by way of an unmarked, totally unassuming rust-red metal door adjacent to a bustling produce market. Even then, I was so jaded that I couldn’t allow myself to believe that this was a real basement with real dirt and dust everywhere. But actually it wasn’t just a fancy pop-up rental space with a stage-grit makeover, nor was it an attempt by some developer to “activate” a particular corner before the building was torn down. As RAE told me, the basement was simply on loan from a recently-retired butcher with whom he had a “tentative relationship,” and the show, called Trunk Work, was one of those rare art happenings that was both real and strange.
Even if the actual ball drop is kinda hazy, as long as you’re reading this, you’ve made it to 2017. Congratulations. Seriously though, 2016 was the worst. Case in point: by the time Friday rolled around, it might have seemed like we were in the clear, but 2016 dropped a final insult on top of relentless injury on its way out the door: the death of Tyrus Wong, the artist responsible for Disney’s “Bambi.” You heard right, 2016 killed the dude who created mother-freaking Bambi.