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What to Watch at the Greenpoint Film Festival This Weekend

Image courtesy of Greenpoint Film Festival’s Website

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.

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Floating Food Forest Will Dock at Brooklyn Army Terminal This Summer

Image courtesy of Swale

If you’d prefer to forage for food on a converted barge rather than wait in one more hellish line at Trader Joe’s, you’re in luck: Swale, the floating food forest founded by Mary Mattingly, will land at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park this summer from May through July.

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Meryl Meisler’s New Exhibition Captures the Diversity of the LES in the ’70s, ’80s

“Ring Toss at The Lower East Side Street Festival, NY, NY June 1978” (Photo Meryl Meisler / Courtesy of The Storefront Project & Stephen Kasher Gallery

Meryl Meisler, the New York-based photographer known for her images of the city in the ’70s and ’80s, will show previously unseen photos of the Lower East Side during those years in an upcoming exhibition. Opening May 3 at The Storefront Project, “LES YES!” focuses on the rich cultural history of the neighborhood and takes an unflinching look at the daily lives of the working-class people and immigrants who lived there.

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We Went Station to Station Trying to Score the New David Bowie MetroCards

“New Yorkers don’t wait on line for anything, except for David Bowie,” said a woman waiting in line this afternoon for the MTA’s new David Bowie MetroCards.

Available at the booths and most kiosks at both Broadway-Lafayette and Bleecker Street stations, the 250,000 cards feature five images of Bowie from across his entire career, and are in general pretty groovy.

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‘Hellhole’ McDonald’s Shakes Things Up With Automated Ordering, Table Service

The Mickey D’s on Delancey Street has been called “the worst McDonald’s ever” by multiple reviewers on Yelp, where it has a lackluster two stars. But on April 21, there’ll be a ribbon-cutting to celebrate recent renovations to what’s been called “the last stop before hell.”

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Free-Jazz Pioneer Cecil Taylor Has Died At 89

A piano at Cecil Taylor’s retrospective at The Whitney. (Photo: Daniel Maurer)

Avant-garde jazz pianist and composer Cecil Taylor died at his Brooklyn home Thursday evening. He was 89. A polarizing figure during the jazz heyday of the 50s and 60s due to his frenzied and untraditional playing style, Taylor helped to pioneer the free jazz genre along with Ornette Coleman. His avant-garde style has influenced countless musicians and left an indelible mark on the jazz as a whole.

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I Spent Lunch Drinking Cannabis-Infused Coffee, Here’s What I Learned

(Photo: Libby Torres)

Bushwick coffee shop Caffeine Underground made waves a few weeks ago when it came to light that they were serving CBD-infused coffee drinks. Now, it looks like others are getting on board with cannabidiol: Greenpoint’s Antidote Apothecary and Tea Bar has started selling CBD-infused coffee beans, with drinks coming soon. With a trend clearly in the works, I was intrigued enough to head to Caffeine Underground to try a CBD-infused latte for myself.

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the more common compounds found in cannabis. Caffeine Underground sources their infused brew from Flower Power Coffee Company, a champion of cannabidiol’s supposed health benefits. The roaster’s website stresses that “CBD is legal, has no psychoactive effects, and will not make you fail a drug test.” Unlike THC, the infamous psychoactive compound also found in cannabis, CBD is said to have more of a simple relaxing effect.

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Coffee With A Conscience? GrandLo Cafe Serves Up Cold Brew With a Splash of Job Skills

GrandLo Café, a “new social enterprise” from nonprofit Grand St. Settlement, will turn your daily coffee habit into a chance to support disadvantaged youth. The coffee shop and café, which held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 16 after a soft opening that same week, is now fully open for business.

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Watch Harvey Weinstein’s Paper-Thin Apology, Sung By a Cut-Out Doll

Image courtesy of Lauren Maul / Shark Party Media

In the past year, numerous men in the entertainment industry and beyond have come under fire for their sexually abusive behavior. In attempts to save face or mitigate their impending PR crises, many of the accused have issued public apologies for their wrongdoings. Lauren Maul, a New York-based comedian and performer, was struck by the tone of the mea culpas, which range from ridiculous to horribly misguided. Inspired to create an album of musical interpretations of these statements, Maul constructed songs around the public apologies issued by men like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. With accompanying music videos for the catchy songs featuring the apologizers as singing paper dolls, Maul hopes to bring a little bit of levity to what has otherwise been a sobering time.

Maul’s album “Apologies for Men” is now available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon, and more, with 100% of the proceeds going to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. The album features the apologies of Weinstein, Spacey, Louis CK, Matt Lauer and others, with a special instrumental piece for the men who’ve been accused but haven’t yet apologized. Check out her video of Weinstein’s apology, fittingly called “The Culture Then,” below our conversation.

Image via Lauren Maul / Shark Party Media

BB_Q(1)
I’ve seen some of your videos, from your Apologies from Men album, and they’re very DIY. They’re hands on, obviously, but they’re also really unique in their approach to this pretty serious subject matter. Why did you choose to make an album and videos with singing paper dolls? Did you immediately know that was something you wanted to do when you heard about these allegations and subsequent apologies?

BB_A(1)
When I was reading the Louis C.K. apology, I was like, “Ugh, this is so gross. But it’s also good that it’s coming out.” So then, I decided– I was at a concert– that I wanted to do a concert like this. Like a fun concert, with my friends onstage, singing and playing music. And I wanted to do it to this Louis C.K. apology. And then all of these other apologies came out, and I was like, “Oh, my god, it has to be a whole album. What did I get myself into?”

And then when it came to videos, I had just come off of making a web series [Amazon Reviews: The Musical!] that took a lot of people and a lot of crew, and just a lot of scheduling work, and it was just something I didn’t want to do again for a while. And so I decided I’d just make [the videos] all by myself in my office, and have them be paper dolls. So I can make them do basically whatever I want. And I thought it was fun to actually belittle these men, because they had so much power that they abused and took advantage of so many people. It was just a fun way for me to turn the tables. And I just wanted the men to really be the butt of the joke. I never want the survivors to feel like I’m making fun of them, I don’t take jokes about assault or rape lightly. People– like comedians and artists– have a big responsibility, that if you are going to talk about rape culture, you’d better do it in a non-triggering way. Because I don’t want to cause them any more pain. They’ve been through enough.

BB_Q(1) How can a more comedic approach to these pretty serious issues affect our discussion of them? Do you think that comedy can help us take a different look?

BB_A(1) Yeah. I love that art is like the mirror you hold up to society– and comedy is the funhouse mirror that you hold up. It’s just that if you’re able to talk about it and laugh about it, then you can learn from it and heal. And also, it helps people talk about rape culture. For instance, my mom showed my grandma the Matt Lauer [apology] video. It’s like, would they even be talking about sexual harassment [otherwise]?

BB_Q(1) I’m assuming that’s kind of what you’re hoping people can take away from your videos, right? This idea of entering into a conversation about sexual assault, because it’s being portrayed in a different light than what we’ve seen in the media previously. Is there anything else you’re hoping people will take away from your approach to this?

BB_A(1) Yeah, I just wanted it to be very accessible. And that’s why I did it very handmade, to show that you can also do this at home, too. It’s not rocket science. I want people to feel like they can make their own art in response to difficult situations. And also I want this project to sprinkle a little joy in an area where there was formerly no joy.

BB_Q(1) The album and the videos definitely take a pretty unorthodox approach to all of this. What would you say to someone who– maybe they’re a sexual assault victim, maybe they’re not– thinks that maybe this isn’t the right avenue for comedy? That maybe these crimes are so heinous that they shouldn’t be treated in such a lighthearted way?

BB_A(1) I would just say that, first of all, I never want to offend someone who is a survivor. I would never make them the butt of the joke. So far, the only people who have been offended are like, straight white dudes. And that’s fine. If I’m offending them– they’re not my target demographic. I would say that’s the role of comedy– to turn shit into glitter. And I’m trying to do a service by turning a terrible situation into something that we can talk about, and even laugh about, but laugh at these men. Because they did something wrong. But yeah, it is touchy. And that’s why I try to be very thoughtful with what I do. Of course I can’t not offend everybody, but there’s this great Ricky Nelson song that’s like, “You can’t please everyone, so you might as well please yourself.”

BB_Q(1) So what are your boundaries? What is something you feel like, it’s not my place to make jokes about this, or include this in a bit?

BB_A(1) Well, one of the apologies that I did not include was the Olympics doctor [Larry Nassar], just because the magnitude and the sheer number of children he assaulted. Maybe someday someone will be able to make a funny musical about what a creep he was. But right now, his victims are still kids. And so, it’s like, I can’t– someone else may be able to go there, but I personally could not. It’s like, oh boy, this is too much. And plus, I have to really dig in to write these songs– I have to read the apology a lot, and do a lot of research on these men. And they all gross me out. But some of them, I’m just like– nope, can’t even touch, don’t want to go there. Too gross, too scary.

BB_Q(1) I watched the Harvey video earlier, and I think the contrast between his “apology,” if you could even call it that, and the DIY, eye-catching visuals is great.

BB_A(1) Thank you! It’s so funny how he just goes off the rails [in his apology]. Like, it makes no sense at the end. Each time, with each video I edited, I’d get to a point where I was like, “Yeah, this is done,” but with the Harvey one there was never a point where I was like “This is done,” because it was just always like, “This is too weird. Is it done? I think it’s done enough.” It’s just so off the rails.

The fun part was making his little childhood bedroom. Because [for the video] I just pictured him moving back into his childhood bedroom after all this– his wife left him, he’s just moving back. And I put these posters of infamous creeps on his wall– like Phil Specter, O.J., Jimmy Page. Like, yikes! So it’s kind of like, here’s his heroes. And here’s how well that worked out for him.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Bowie Mania Continues With Ziggy Cocktails and Record Store Day Releases

From “David Bowie is” at Brooklyn Museum. (Photo: Daniel Maurer)

The opening of the mammoth “David Bowie is” exhibit last week at the Brooklyn Museum left a lot of people nostalgic for the late Starman. Lucky for all the Ziggy Stardust acolytes out there, the Bowie love continues with a slew of new record releases in April and a batch of themed cocktails at Crown Heights bar and restaurant. So take your protein pills, put your helmet on and let the Bowie mania begin.

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