Shortly after the jarring election of Donald J. Trump, you might’ve seen a hilarious sketch from Saturday Night Live called The Bubble where “it’s like the election never happened.” The Bubble is a magical, if not eerily insulated, “place where the unthinkable didn’t happen and life could continue for progressive Americans just as before” because it’s “a planned community of like-minded free thinkers – and no one else.” The punchline is genius: “The Bubble: It’s Brooklyn with a bubble on it.” It’s funny because it’s true – or maybe not.
The next month or so will bring many an opportunity to honor the late, great Leonard Cohen. You’re already aware that Film Forum is screening the tour documentary Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire. And you may have heard about “Sincerely, L. Cohen,” the tribute concert scheduled for January 24 at Music Hall of Williamsburg (tickets went on sale today). That show will feature Joan as Policewoman, Richard Thompson, Lenny Kaye of Patti Smith Group, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Ian O’Neil of Deer Tick, and Hannah Cohen (no relation), among others. To top it all off, Anthology Film Archives has announced a film program that will pay tribute to the Canadian crooner, who died in November.
Where there once was a butcher, there now are books. Williamsburg cooking store Brooklyn Kitchen has decided to scrap (get it, scrap?) its butcher counter and has replaced it with an inviting area where customers can peruse cookbooks and food magazines, including a collection of Gourmet that dates back to 1943.
It used to be that throwback drinking meant quaffing Prohibition-era cocktails and Hemingway sippers. But these days, we’re seeing an emphasis on even older traditions, and a resurgence of traditional techniques that have long fallen out of use. Mead, the fermented honey drink that was made as early as 7000 BC in China and was drunk in North Europe during the Bronze Age, is making a comeback that started in the homebrew community and grew outward. And in just a few short months, Williamsburg will be home to one of the largest mead brewing operations in the country.
Having just returned from two weeks in India, I definitely don’t miss the honking: it’s enough to make Rudy Giuliani rip out the rest of his hair and run crying into the bosom of Daddy Trump. But I do miss the cute little tuk tuks, bobbing and weaving through traffic Mario-Go-Kart-style. So, you can imagine my delight when I passed by the newly soft-opened Williamsburg Hotel and saw this gleaming new ride outside.
NYPD Captain Peter Rose caused a stir last week when, addressing a rise in Greenpoint sex attacks, he seemed to tell DNAinfo that the NYPD was less worried about so-called acquaintance rape and more concerned with so-called stranger rapes: “Those are the troubling ones. That person has, like, no moral standards,” he said. Acquaintance rapes, on the other hand, are “not total-abomination rapes where strangers are being dragged off the streets,” Rose was quoting as saying.
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.
Roll up for the magical mystery tour and steal some magicians’ secrets next week.
TimesTalks: David Blaine
Jan. 18, 7pm, Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street, tickets $40.
Okay, so you may have gotten douchechills when New York immortalized David Blaine as a member of Leo DiCaprio’s “pussy posse” back in 1998. But trust, his ABC special Beyond Magic, now on Netflix, is worth watching if only to see Woody Allen nearly upchuck as the musclebound magic bro swallows a live goldfish and spits it back up it into a bowl. Even better is Ricky Gervais’s reaction, above, when Blaine (seemingly?) runs a needle through his arm.
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.
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 though the year is ending, most things will continue after the clock strikes 2017. But not all of them. The queer nightlife collective known as The Culture Whore is saying goodbye not only to 2016 with their New Year’s Eve space-rodeo rave, “Night Riders.” The blowout will be the group’s final party, as they are disbanding.
As long as we can keep breathing for the next 40 hours or so– oh, and dodge any breakaway scaffolding flying overhead, and reject your roommate’s baked goods that are really just botulism bombs anyway– we’re gonna make it outta 2016, otherwise known as the stinkiest steaming cesspool of a year on record.
Everything is horrible, yes, it’s true– but some rather uplifting news has emerged from the unlikeliest of places, crime stats!