Dinner theater is often regarded as cheesy, and not in a good way. Cinemas serving food with flicks can be pricey (and let’s be honest, sometimes a little too air conditioned)– also, where’s that food even coming from? One of those Wolfgang Puck airport terminal franchises? Let’s be real, the answer’s probably much worse than that. So what is one to do when they want to enjoy the blissful multitasking of watching moving pictures with their eyes while shoving deliciousness into their mouths?
Helen Keller was an “undisciplined wild child who nobody could contain, and that’s what makes her heroic,” said Clayton Patterson as he explained the quote in the headline to this story.
I’d heard the unofficial elder-guardian of the Lower East Side say plenty of controversial things like this before, it’s usually part of a strategy of illustrating his radical points– how he disapproves of feminists (for often ignoring the need for the advancement of all women) and gay marriage (also for a reason you might not expect: because legalizing gay marriage does not necessarily signal that all queer people will reap the benefits of mainstream approval). The point with Helen Keller was that real adversity breeds character and makes for interesting art, and that the “wild child” can be a marker of artistic purpose. It’s all connected to how, as an artist-activist, Patterson considers almost everything he does to be both a work of art and an expression of solidarity with the underclasses, the maligned, and the avant-garde. Enter the Acker Awards, a way of recognizing members of the avant-garde arts community for their achievements and influence, happening Thursday, March 17 at Howl! Arts in the East Village.
“At that time in New York things were really wild,” Emily Armstrong recalled of the ’70s punk scene. She and her partner, Pat Ivers, are old school East Village types– they truly lived the Downtown era, and lucky for us they documented over 100 shows at CBGBs, filming bands like DNA and unbelievable moments like Iggy Pop covering Frank Sinatra for their weekly TV show, Nightclubbing. After NYU’s Fales Library acquired their archive for the Downtown Collection, thousands of the duo’s film reels were digitized and, for a time, were part of a weekly column at B+B.
Alone at Last emerged out of that archival effort and now, after more than 30 years since the artists last saw them, the 1981 black-and-white vignettes featuring 52 people who were prompted to seduce the viewer, will be shown at Howl! Happening. The video series captures the last breath of the freewheeling ’70s Downtown scene right before AIDS hit. “People who have seen it feel that it’s a very interesting depiction of that culture, that moment, because it was truly a moment. Soon after it was shot, people realized what AIDS was. So having a lot of sex for pleasure was completely redefined: having a lot of open sex was suicide. Things really changed, really fast.”
The Barnes & Noble at Union Square was packed to the gills last night, with a line already forming on 17th Street long before Patti Smith was due to appear.
Riding the escalator up, we saw kids crowding every floor, sitting amongst the stacks in the hopes of hearing Smith read, even if they couldn’t buy a copy of her new book to get a wristband and get into the seating area and be guaranteed a signature in Smith’s new book, M Train.