The rain was out in full force this past Sunday, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of performers and Lower East Side residents who came out for a celebration of Puerto Rican heritage. For more than thirty years, the Loisaida Festival has served as an homage to Puerto Rican culture in the Lower East Side and back on the island. This year, the festival’s theme was “Bridging Resurgence: From Sandy to Maria.” According to the Loisaida Festival’s Twitter page, the theme served as “a tribute to the resilience of the Lower East Side, past and present, and in solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria.” Keep Reading »
Arts + Culture
The 2018 Lower East Side Film Festival is announcing its opening night film, Getting Naked: A Burlesque Story, with this exclusive from Bedford + Bowery. The documentary is about the wild and ever-changing burlesque revival in New York. It premiered at the 74th Venice International Film Festival and played at DOC NYC 2017 prior to its scheduled showing at the LES Film Festival on June 7.
We chatted with the film’s director, James Lester, about burlesque in New York and the inspiration behind his feature documentary.
The emailed instructions, addressed to Cosmonauts of Narrative, said to look for the man in the red fez, which was easy enough, but his directions were more complex. “Take a left out of the bar and click to the next slide every half block,” participants in the night’s Constellations of Ego event were told as we were handed View-Masters and sent out of Bed Stuy’s cozy Project Parlor and into the misty evening. If correctly interpreted, the retro-formatted clues led to the side entrance of a kosher supermarket. Homemade stick-and-gauze-wrapped stars were handed out to all by an eye-patched organizer in the unremarkable entryway before we were sent skyward, the journey upwards guided by a fleet of golden lamps hung in the space between the rails. On the roof, circles formed around electric campfires and the storytellers started in.
Pussy Riot launched their US tour at Bushwick’s Elsewhere last Thursday night with a bold display of their actionist performance art. Summoning the energy of a protest rally, Pussy Riot’s co-founder Nadya Tolokonnikova led her fellow balaclava-clad DJ and dancers through a foray of their videos and songs that were strewn with their activist goals. Opener Dorian Electra also fed that spirit; with prominent figures of equality in attendance such as artist Marina Abramovic and Bust magazine co-founder Laurie Henzel, the show became much more than a concert.
While binging on the new season of I’m Dying up Here, catching up on The Deuce, or even streaming A Futile and Stupid Gesture, it’s pretty easy to conclude that the ‘70s were awesome and now, “everything is the worst” (©Liz Lemon). In the ‘70s, a zine could matter, people read comics that weren’t also billion-dollar movies, and it was still kind of rebel to listen to The Ramones. And smoke weed. John Holmstrom, founder of legendary Punk magazine, is bringing all of that back—ok, maybe not The Ramones—by dropping a new zine.
Alamo announced today that it’s booking City Point/Downtown Brooklyn’s “Outer Space Outdoors” series, taking over Albee Square every Thursday in June. In keeping with the space theme, they’ll show Close Encounters of the Third Kind on June 7, Men in Black on June 14, Space Jam on June 21, and Gravity on June 28. DJ sets start at 7pm and the opening credits roll at 8pm.
Downtown guitarist and composer Glenn Branca died last night at the age of 69. The longtime West Villager died in his sleep of throat cancer, his wife and collaborator Reg Bloor announced in a Facebook post.
“His musical output was a fraction of the ideas he had in a given day,” Bloor wrote. “His influence on the music world is incalculable.”
Williamsburg’s Legion Bar closed its doors early Sunday morning for a legion of regulars. The closing was bittersweet for Merle Chornuk, who opened Legion in 2005 with the hopes of it being a busier bar than it turned out to be. “It’s the end of an era,” he told me. “I’m moving on to other things.”
Jim Jarmusch, Rosie Perez, and Other Downtown Legends Basked in Basquiat at the Opening of ‘Zeitgeist’
By all appearances, downtown filmmaker Sara Driver had a pretty good weekend. On Friday night, Boom For Real, Driver’s evocative, propulsive, and genuinely moving documentary of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s late teenage years (and the late 1970s Lower East Side art scene that nurtured his extraordinary talent), had its world premiere at the IFC, following a rave review in the Times. It’s a terrific movie, functioning equally well as a we-were-there record of how Basquiat went from homeless kid spraying Samo© to instant sensation at PS1’s New York/New Wave in 1981, his first-ever public show; and as a loving portrait of a neighborhood abandoned by the rest of the city, and all craziness and creativity that ensued.
Then on Sunday evening Driver and a coterie that included the likes of her partner Jim Jarmusch, Lee Quinones, Rosie Perez, Katie Taylor Legnini, Jimmy Webb, Henry Chalfant, Jeffrey Deitch, Luc Sante, and Alexis Adler crammed into the opening of a big group exhibition at the Howl! Happening space. A line to get in formed early and extended all the way over to Bowery for much of the night.
Elsewhere’s new rooftop isn’t the only outdoor spot making a summer programming announcement today. That old standby, Union Pool’s Summer Thunder series, just announced its lineup of free shows, and it’s a good one.
This year’s program, presented with the good folks over at Academy Records, leans distinctly toward jazz and African music, with some real heavy hitters in the mix: Sun Ra Arkastra on June 28, Songhoy Blues on July 7, Jemeel Moondoc on July 21, Mamadou Kelly on July 28, and Joe Bataan on Aug. 25. The Sadies will add a twang of country-western on June 30. On the obligatory indie rock front, Drag City outfit Wand will play songs off their forthcoming EP, Perfume, on June 16. And it all starts off with the eerie, mystical vocals of ex Dirty Projectors member Deradoorian on June 1.
This is going to blow the minds of East Villagers who complain about banks taking over every corner: An art bookstore is moving into the former home of a Chase bank. And not just any art bookstore: Chelsea tastemaker Printed Matter will open its second shop at 38 St. Marks Place this summer. For the many who are still mourning the loss of the St. Mark’s Bookshop, this is very good news indeed.
The Tribeca Film Festival may be over, but another homegrown flicks fest is just beginning. The 7th Annual Greenpoint Film Festival will take over North Brooklyn this weekend, with four days of films and panel discussions.