nuyorican poets cafe

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Before the Puerto Rican Poets, There Was the Polish Violinist

This week, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

(Photo: Shanna Ravindra for NY Mag)

(Photo: Shanna Ravindra for NY Mag)

The entrance to the Nuyorican Poets Café dissolves into a mural of faceless men standing in line, all dressed in white-hat-and-suit ensembles, hands stuffed into their pockets. The painting is based on a black and white photograph from the 1980s of spectators waiting outside the Café. To the right of the entrance is a detailed portrait of the Rev. Pedro Pietri, one of the Nuyorican’s founding poets. The murals replicate the artistry of what goes on inside the walls.

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Performance Picks: Dystopian Foster Wallace, Chocolate Dances, Anti-Bannon Seinfeld

(image via The Annoyance)

(image via The Annoyance)

THURSDAY

Infinite Jets
Thursday, December 1 at The Annoyance Theater, 9 pm: $10. 

Surely many of you have taken a crack at reading David Foster Wallace’s behemoth of a novel Infinite Jest; perhaps some have even gotten through the entire thing. Or maybe the idea of parsing through a book so large it could double as a weapon seems daunting, and you’d rather sit in a basement watching a comedy show that vaguely riffs on the novel but is set in a vaguely dystopian future where the NFL is in cahoots with the government. In that case, Brian Pisano and Sam Taffe’s sketch comedy play Infinite Jets may be the thing for you. Our current future prospects aren’t looking too hot, so might as well laugh at a made-up future before ours becomes all too real. The show comes as a double feature with Deep Space Live, a late night talk show set in space hosted by a man whose only friend is a robot.

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Talks and Readings: Letterman Writer, Iranian Women, and the Quest For 78s

Time again for Word Up, our weekly roundup of talks and readings.

te-mTUESDAY

Tongo Eisen-Martin is a movement worker and educator who has organized against mass incarceration and extra-judicial killing of Black people throughout the United States. He has educated in detention centers from New York’s Rikers Island to California’s San Quentin State Prison, and his work in Rikers Island was covered by the New York Times. Don’t miss the New York City release of his new book of poems, Someone’s Dead AlreadyTuesday, July 28 at 7 p.m. Nuyorican Poets Café, 236 East 3rd Street (East Village). Admission $10 at the door, $7 with student ID.

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Theater: ‘Trail of Tears’

This emotional storm of dance, song and soliloquy casts a satirical eye on the forced relocation of Native Americans in the 1830s. Though too often forgotten, says director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, the tragedy served as a precursor to the enslavement of Africans – bruises on the face of this country that have yet to heal. The play opens in the present day, with a young Native American girl — its central thread — contemplating suicide and calling on a spirit of her people, who dances around her. The company reenacts the beatings, abuse and terror of the trail, while intermittently circling back to her. It’s a jolting reminder that the past continues to inform the present, but satire prevents the viewer from being crushed by the heavy subject matter.

Read more here.

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‘Trail of Tears’ Is a Clear-Eyed Look at America’s ‘First Genocide’

(Photo Credit: Sam Gillette)

(Photo Credit: Sam Gillette)

“This is a chance to look at the first genocide,” said director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj as he opened last night’s performance of “Trail of Tears” at The Nuyorican Poets Café. The emotional storm of dance, song and soliloquy casts a satirical eye on the forced relocation of Native Americans in the 1830s.

Though too often forgotten, Maharaj said, the tragedy served as a precursor to the enslavement of Africans – bruises on the face of this country that have yet to heal. He quoted a long-gone English chief: “When you acknowledge the dead, the dead stand taller.”

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Talks and Readings: Historic Greenpoint, Multiculti Confessions, and More

buildagirlTUESDAY

Almost Famous, except about a girl. And set in the ’90s. And British.
How to Build a Girl, described by the New York Times’ Dwight Garner as “a British version of ‘Almost Famous,’ delivered from a female perspective and set two decades later,” is celebrating its paperback release with a reading by author Caitlin Moran. She’s often compared to Tina Fey and Lena Dunham, “which is fair so far as it goes,” according to Garner, “though I’d add Amy Winehouse and the early Roseanne Barr to the mix.” Watch her read excerpts from her comic novel about a poor teen determined to reinvent herself as a rock critic in 1990s London.
Tuesday, July 7 at 7 p.m. Strand Book Store, 828 Broadway (East Village).

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Talks + Readings: Duff McKagan, Galway Kinnell, and a Living Female Rock Critic

battle linesMonday

History buffs, take note: Battle Lines is not your ordinary Civil War read. This books is a team effort by graphic novelist Jonathan Fetter-Vorm and award-winning historian Ari Kelman, and it’s sweeping, full-color panoramas combined with Kelman’s nuanced understand of the period provide a whole new perspective on the topic. The authors will talk about the book with acclaimed graphic novelist Josh Neufeld (A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge) accompanied by images from Battle Lines on Greenlight’s big screen.
Monday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m.  Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton Street (Fort Greene). 

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Will a New Pop-Up Gallery at Whole Foods Turn EV Bloggers Against Each Other?

The Houston Bowery wall, concealed. (Photo: Nicole Disser)

The Houston Bowery wall, concealed. (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Next time you spend your Whole Paycheck at Whole Foods, you’ll at least get to take in some art for free!

Whole Foods Market® Bowery, as it’s written in a press release, is opening a pop-up gallery featuring “LES-centric artwork” on its second-floor mezzanine, in partnership with the LES BID. Artists are invited to propose art “based on a combination of past and present themes that relate to the Lower East Side”; five winners will be selected to have their work displayed for a month, starting with a preview during the annual LES Opening Night: Art + Fashion on Sept. 7.
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Maggie Estep Remembered: ‘She Was Vintage, Pure Old-School Punk-Art New York’

maggienewYesterday, we got the sad news that Maggie Estep, arguably the face of the ’90s East Village slam movement, died at 50. Today, we spoke to Bob Holman, who helped propel her to fame as co-director of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and Mark Pellington, who directed her classic “Hey Baby” video. Here’s what they had to say.

Bob Holman
Maggie came out at the Nuyorican Poets Café when the Nuyorican had just reopened. Slam had just emerged in Chicago and I imported it here – and it became their signature, where the multiculti voices found a home. Maggie’s punk-absurdist, angry-comic voice was a leading edge. I ran the slams, so I was the one who called her up and told her, “Oh, you really are good, you really do have to come back and let us hear some more.”
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Maggie Estep Has Died at 50

Maggie Estep, May 1994, New York City. (Photo by Bob Berg/Getty Images)

Maggie Estep, May 1994, New York City. (Photo by Bob Berg/Getty Images)

Writer and spoken-word star Maggie Estep has died at the age of 50. A friend tells The Times she died two days after having a heart attack at her home in Hudson, New York.

Estep was a fixture of the East Village slam-poetry scene who rose to national prominence via her grunge-era appearances on MTV and on HBO’s Def Poetry, and went on to perform in front of massive festival audiences.
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Don’t Miss These Blockbuster Block Parties Tomorrow

block3

The East 9th Street block party. (Photo: Jacob Sugarman)

Who said there’s no outdoor fun to be had after Labor Day weekend? Now that the city’s beaches are closed it’s time to keep the fun in the sun hyperlocal by passing through these awesome block parties.
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