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Brandon Harris Talks Gentrification, Race, and the Perennial Struggle of Making It in NYC

In his first book, Making Rent in Bed-Stuy (HarperCollins, 2017), New York-based writer and filmmaker Brandon Harris uses his memoir of “trying to make it in New York City” as the starting point for a complex, multi-layered discussion of race, class, and gentrification.

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Summer Streets Hits Astor Place: Food, Mini-Golf, VR, and… a ‘Smell Walk’?

A waterslide at last year’s Summer Streets.

The city’s popular “Summer Streets” program — in which seven miles of New York streets are temporarily turned into pedestrian-only parks — returns the first three Saturdays of August.

Our fair city’s government — or the program’s sponsors, anyway — have spared no expense. The smorgasbord of activities announced at a Department of Transportation press conference on Astor Place this morning includes crowd favorites like waterslides and ziplines — as well as some eccentric new additions, including a “smell walk”; an event described as “a silent disco, but for your tongue”; and the opportunity to bathe in a “giant washing machine.” Yet riding our subways is like participating in the Stanford Prison Experiment. Remarkable.

Anyway: This year’s theme is “the Five Senses,” hence novelties like the smell walk. Created by artist and designer Kate McClean, who previously created “smellmaps” in cities like Amsterdam and Paris, it’s described as “45 minutes of walking slowly and sniffing followed by a 15-minute visualisation exercise to communicate your smell encounters to those who missed the opportunity.” You can RSVP to be one of the 30 lucky smellwalkers here.

In keeping with the sensuous new theme there will also be a greater emphasis on food this year, with “food sessions” organized by New York chef John Mooney of Bell Book & Candle in the Village (known for growing vegetables on its roof). During the culinary silent disco, designed by Daily Tous Les Jours, a Montreal-based “interaction design studio,” participants will dine at a banquet while wearing headphones so their experience can be complemented by a soundtrack and narrator.

The “giant washing machine” will apparently be that — a 30’ wide by 50’ long inflatable washing machine filled with giant plates and utensils that participants run through while being splashed by jets of water. For the more pedestrian among us there will also be mini-golf, a dog park, bouldering walls, and the aforementioned waterslide and zipline, among other attractions.

Astor Place is one of Summer Streets’ designated “rest stops,” and several of the activities — including the “smell walk,” the mini-golf, the interactive banquet/silent food disco, and a virtual-reality tour of Mt. Everest — will be located there.

This is the tenth year of the Summer Streets program, noted speakers at the press conference this morning, who described the program as part of a broader shift in New York toward a more pedestrian-friendly, environmentally-friendly, and creative city. As last year, the main sponsor is Citi.

Summer Streets will take place from 7am to 1pm on Aug. 5th, 12th, and 19th along Park Avenue, Lafayette, and Centre Streets from Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park. All activities are free; some require advance registration.

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Art This Week: Printmaking in Protest, Robots Will Kill, Mexico + Staten Island

(image via Center for Book Arts)

Center for Book Arts Summer Exhibitions
Opening Wednesday, July 12 at Center for Book Arts, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through September 23.

This Wednesday, The Center for Book Arts will unveil their two summer exhibitions, titled “Protest Profest: Global Burdens” and “Animation + Printing.”  Though the institutions focuses on books (obviously), the exhibitions themselves span a variety of disciplines. “Protest ≠ Profest” is their annual Artist Members Exhibition, with the timely concept of showing work dealing with activism and “current societal concerns.” In order to narrow down the type of theme that could easily fill multiple rooms worth of art (and to keep with the book focus), works on display will either be artist’s books or works relating to the book arts.

“Animation + Printing” is predominantly a short film showcase, but all films have been created using techniques typically applied to the creation of books, such as  etching, moveable type, and silkscreen. A whopping 50-ish artists will be partaking, and the exhibition theme invites a cross-discipline experience for many, as several printmakers will be attempting animation and vice versa. Keep Reading »

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The Museum of Interesting Things Is a Roving ‘Speakeasy’ Run By a Quirky Curator

How did we watch films at home before Netflix and DVD? And before VHS? Denny Daniel will show you at his Museum of Interesting Things. This “speakeasy museum” pops up weekly at various locations in the city to show how our current-day technology is based on earlier inventions, often going all the way back to the late 19th century. From 1960s solar-powered walkie-talkies to carousel animations and parts of the original World War II Enigma machine, Daniel has collected a wide array of antiques and curiosa.

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unbuilt East Village Towers Rise High in New MoMA Exhibit

(Photos: Daniel Maurer)

In October of 1929, a New York Times headline announced: “Odd-Type Buildings to Overlook Church.” Those odd-type buildings would’ve been New York’s first glass skyscrapers, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright to surround St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bouwerie. Starting Monday, a meticulously restored model of his East Village towers will be exhibited for the first time in over 50 years, as part of a new retrospective at MoMA.

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Performance Picks: Dystopian Foster Wallace, Chocolate Dances, Anti-Bannon Seinfeld

(image via The Annoyance)

(image via The Annoyance)

THURSDAY

Infinite Jets
Thursday, December 1 at The Annoyance Theater, 9 pm: $10. 

Surely many of you have taken a crack at reading David Foster Wallace’s behemoth of a novel Infinite Jest; perhaps some have even gotten through the entire thing. Or maybe the idea of parsing through a book so large it could double as a weapon seems daunting, and you’d rather sit in a basement watching a comedy show that vaguely riffs on the novel but is set in a vaguely dystopian future where the NFL is in cahoots with the government. In that case, Brian Pisano and Sam Taffe’s sketch comedy play Infinite Jets may be the thing for you. Our current future prospects aren’t looking too hot, so might as well laugh at a made-up future before ours becomes all too real. The show comes as a double feature with Deep Space Live, a late night talk show set in space hosted by a man whose only friend is a robot.

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Step Into a ‘Real-Life Tinder’ to Find Love and Score Some Art

Emily Lesser (left) and Amy Van Doran share a laugh in the Modern Love Club (Photo: Michael Garofalo)

Emily Lesser (left) and Amy Van Doran share a laugh in the Modern Love Club (Photo: Michael Garofalo)

Amy Van Doran has been hooking up couples through her high-end matchmaking outfit, The Modern Love Club, for a decade (a 2011 New York magazine write-up helped put her business on the map), but she’s now moving into a storefront for the first time to open a hybrid “store that sells nothing” and gallery in the East Village.

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The Golden Probes Honored Some of the Biggest Douchebags in Politics

Jessica Williams, Phoebe Robinson, and Eunice the Uterus (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Lady Parts Justice)

Jessica Williams, Phoebe Robinson, and Eunice the Uterus (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Lady Parts Justice)

Sunday night, the Golden Probe Awards recognized “outstanding achievements in sexism and anti-abortion extremism” at Le Poisson Rouge. In what was billed as “misogyny’s most glamorous evening,” some of the city’s best comedians handed out awards in categories such as “Best Adaption of Reality” and “Best Original Science.”

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As Nevermind Turns 25, A New Doc Shows How Producer Butch Vig Found Nirvana

In case you were living under a rock or underneath the bridge, Nirvana’s seminal album Nevermind turned 25 on Saturday, an event that was marked by everything from a cover night at Sunnyvale to a recreation of the album cover featuring its now 25-year-old baby. There’s not much left to say about the album that led pretty much every suburban kid to buy a guitar and smash his entire Columbia House cassette collection with it, but there’s plenty left to be said about Smart Studios, the Madison, Wisconsin facilities where an early version of the record was recorded. Luckily, a new documentary is coming along to fix that. The Smart Studios Story, directed by Wendy Schneider, will screen at St. Vitus on Nov. 13.

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An Early Look at Ludlow House, By the Numbers

Ludlow House. (Photo courtesy Soho House)

Ludlow House. (Photo courtesy Soho House)

After some very strident local opposition and the requisite haggling with the community board, the folks at Soho House have finally managed to turn an old funeral home into Ludlow House. Although the privacy policy at the members-only club keeps its gatekeepers from telling us how many film, media, and creative types have signed up to “eat, drink, work and play” there, we were able to score you some other data.

Here’s a look inside the Ludlow House by the numbers.

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Coming Up in Comedy: Roasts, Absurdity, the Olympics and Marnie the Dog

(Photo: Jewel Frankel)

(Photo: Jewel Frankel)

MONDAY

The Open Mic Roast of Riley Soloner
August 1 at Over the Eight, 594 Union Ave, Brooklyn. This show is free and starts at 9:30 p.m. More info on the event page.
Comedian Riley Soloner is hosting an open mic in which he will let anyone in the audience—including complete strangers—roast him in any way they want. Soloner is an improviser and comedian probably best known for his appearances on The Chris Gethard Show, but if you’re unfamiliar with him, that’s fine. He still would like you to roast him. In what the event page describes as “a truly bold and stupid move,” Soloner crowd-sourced this show via Facebook, where people requested that it be “a roast” and “sad.” Please don’t let him down—say something vile to his face.

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Catching Up With Vic Sin, Bushwick’s Prodigal Boylesque Star

Stephen Plante (Vic Sin) in his Vienna Boylesque Festival costume. (Photo courtesy Stephen Plante)

Stephen Plante (Vic Sin) in his Vienna Boylesque Festival costume. (Photo courtesy Stephen Plante)

Back in February we told you about how far Bushwick-based boylesque performer Stephen Plante (Vic Sin) was willing to go to fund his trip to the Vienna Boylesque Festival, pledging his body for “one night only” in return for a $3,000 donation. He told us it was “a joke, but at the same time, is it possible? Yeah.” Well, he reached his goal (without having to go full-on Pretty Woman), performed in Vienna, England and France, and now he’s back, with footage of his festival performance and a mission: to make the New York City arts scene more family-friendly. He’ll still be stripping, but he wants to do it with more support from other artists, both on and off of the stage.

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