Do you sneer at the Iron Man franchise? Do Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey provide you with positively no ironic pleasure? Did you feel that Boyhood was just another celebration of the magic of white male experience? Well, perhaps underground film is more your thing then. And if there’s one thing we can never get enough of it’s avant-garde art and experimental work because, like, isn’t that what living in New York City is all about? Well, maybe it used to be. But let’s make it that way again.
A line of skateboarders from their pre-teens to their 30s queued up this past Saturday, waiting up to an hour for “Professor” Paul Schmitt to saw their 9-ply rectangles of wood into custom skateboards. Hosted by Converse Cons at Chemistry Creative in Bushwick, Schmitt was part of a team that included Brooklyn-based designer Grotesk, and local pro skater Aaron Herrington, conducting a workshop titled, “Making & Designing Skate Decks,” as part of the Cons Project’s free community program.
You might remember a show space in Williamsburg called Dead Herring. It was around for six years — practically decades in DIY years — before it closed in 2013. “I knew it wouldn’t last forever,” Nicki Ishmael admitted. “It’s that whole DIY has-an-expiration-date thing.” But it’s a wonder Nicki can keep it together when reminiscing. DIY’s the only home she’s ever had in New York City. From the moment she arrived here Ishmael has been deeply involved in the underground music scene. “I immediately moved into a DIY space when I moved here back in 2006,” she recalled. So it’s only natural that Ishmael and others from Dead Herring refused to let their own closure, and dozens more around them, get them down.
Three years ago, Elvis B. and Kate Angell started a zine fest that was “more focused on all the cool feminist topics out there,” per Elvis B. “In the first year, we were just like, ‘Oh, I hope people come to our little zine fest!’ But we got a huge response. We had it at the Brooklyn Commons and it was completely packed and crazy.” This year’s festival has five nonhierarchical, all-volunteer co-organizers, and is focused on making “an atmosphere where everyone is accepted and can have a good time,” said one of the co-organizers, Emma Caterine.
“I like to think of it as rising from the ashes of Kent Avenue,” Drew Briggie of 100m records explained, twice actually, once when I met up with him last Friday night, and again in a follow-up interview this week.
Drew was talking about the SugarCube, the second iteration of an inflatable rectangular igloo of sorts that made its second annual debut on the South Street Seaport at the start of December. The cube is open to the public, with programming curated by 100m Records scheduled through the end of January. “It might go until March if they let us, we’ll see,” Drew said when I stopped by last Friday to take a look at the place and check out the show featuring Relations and Savants. Each Friday at the SugarCube there’s a free show featuring bands and DJs, and the event is made boozy with either a bar or BYOB policy.
“We’re trying to keep most of the acts local,” Drew explained.
Life for Edan Wilber has changed dramatically in the two weeks since his Williamsburg DIY venue Death By Audio hosted its last show. “My sleep schedule has, like, 180’d one hundred percent,” he laughed. “I go to bed at like 9 p.m. now.”
When we spoke with Edan this morning he was kicked back on a porch where he’s living in St. Petersburg, Florida. “It’s almost been two weeks since we closed, and I pretty much moved the very next day,” he said. “I had 40 shows in a row, and now I’ve had two weeks of not seeing anything. It’s pretty weird.”
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With Bushwick’s great DIY venue and wellness center, Body Actualized, closing this month and having a today, a member of the community tells us what THE VIBE meant to her.
The moment I arrived in LA, fresh out of college in the spring of 2011, all of my carefully laid plans unraveled: my friend suddenly had a live-in girlfriend who nixed my staying there, the job I’d lined up fell through and it wasn’t nearly as fun and valorizing getting around by bike as I’d hoped. After many long months in the relentless sunshine I broke down and called friends for help. What should I do? Where should I go? Their answer was Brooklyn and that night, after almost getting run over by a mint Datsun in Echo Park, I bought a one-way ticket to JFK.
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We knew the last night at Death By Audio was going to get pretty raw, with about a million people cramming in to say goodbye to the DIY venue even if they’d never been before. But what we didn’t plan for was seeing the line get cut off after just 80 lucky folks walked through the door. And less than a year from when we last surveyed the post-285 Kent DIY scene, one of our favorite venues is now closed.
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It pains us each time we have to bring up the closing of Death By Audio, but we can at least be comforted by the fact that the venue is truly making each and every last night count up until the final show on Saturday, November 22.
Not only has the venue shifted into overdrive and is hosting some truly incredible shows, but they’re taking advantage of some of the otherwise closed-off space in the building. The people at DBA have handed over “The Ranch” to more than 100 artists who have transformed it into a gallery and living shrine to DIY.
Hey Ho_se –
I’m a contributor for Bedford + Bowery and I heard you guys might be closing up shop? That would be a serious shame, but I think it’s important for us to cover venue closings and neighborhood changes– so it would be great if someone might be willing to speak with me over the phone about what’s happening.
As DIY spots like 285 Kent and Steel Drums continue to disappear and our old party pads become high-rise condos, where do we turn? Enter Ariel Bitran and Leeor Waisbrod. Along with partner Rose Fathers, the musicians and friends recently opened Palisades, an intimate, welcoming dive with a generous stage.
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Two new issues of established zines from Brooklyn-based writers and curators of the printed word are out and available as of the past few weeks. These aren’t your traditional, black-and-white Xerox zines of yore: their creators, Kristen Felicetti and Gabby Bess, are steeped in net culture and cross pollinate with others in the very with-it Alt Lit scene.
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