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Artist Doug Young Attempts to Elevate ‘Low’ Art to Uplifting

(Photo: Ronit Schlam)

(Photo: Ronit Schlam)

It was an oddly apropos time to be thinking about “high” art and “low” art, which is what artist Doug Young and I discussed at the Van Doren Waxter Gallery uptown just a few days before the all-consuming presidential election. I’d mentioned a New Yorker article that eschewed the line separating left and right in favor of a line dividing “up versus down”: a working class vs. a desk-ridden, urban class.

We were looking at Young’s pieces “Chains,” which are exactly that: carved wooden chains, created in what Young called a “kind of monotonous, boring, really unsatisfying use of my time. It was only satisfying at certain moments,” like when he stepped back to see the enormity of his progress.

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Mikey’s Hookup Gets Hooked Up by the Williamsburg Apple Store

The chillers at Mikey's Hookup have got your back, and apparently someone's got their backs too (Photo courtesy of Mikey's Hookup)

The chillers at Mikey’s Hookup have got your back, and apparently someone’s got their backs too (Photo courtesy of Mikey’s Hookup)

It seems silly now to imagine that some of us groused about the opening of a “Mini-Mall” in the Realform Girdle Building– it just seemed so yuppie-ish and suburban and right there on Bedford and North 5th, like the places we’d escaped to get to New York. If you can image, “gentrification” wasn’t yet a watchword.

But by 2001, along with the Verb Café (RIP, well sorta– there’s a Verb 2.0 in Greenpoint) and the Internet Garage (read: before email was on your phone, you’d stop by here to “Get high on speed!!!11” as their Facebook page advises), you could stop by Mikey’s Hookup and play ping pong while picking up a guitar cord.

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Kristin Dombek on to How to Write a Book About Narcissists Without Becoming One

"The Selfishness of Others" (Image via Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

“The Selfishness of Others” (Image via Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

Kristin Dombek’s legendary essay “How to Quit,” published in the winter 2013 edition of n+1, garnered heated word of mouth and praise from the likes of Brooklyn Magazine’s Kristen Iversen, and that was before Dombek won a Rona Jaffe award, published “Letter from Williamsburg” in The Paris Review, and got a double book deal.

The first of those books has arrived, and it’s called The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism, out this week from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, and while an essay might have a hard time making a splash in a media ocean churned by Trumpty Dumpty and the Olympics, the book has already drawn praise from the Times.
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Nathaniel Kressen Promises You'll Look Cool Reading His New Novel on the Subway

(Photo: Daniel Maurer)

Nathaniel Kressen.

The Craters of the Moon National Park in Idaho is a bleak, desolate landscape that reminds one how ineffectual words can be when describing a landscape truly bleak and desolate. The remains of a volcanic eruption 2000 years ago, the vista is perhaps better described more symbolically. A Shoshone-Bannock myth, recorded by Ella E. Clark, describes an immense serpent that coiled its body around a mountain. Angered by lightning, the snake tightened its coils until the stone of the mountain melted; the serpent squeezed out liquid rock until it caught fire and was killed.
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John Colapinto On the ‘Dangerous’ Literary Sex Novel That Put Him in the Eye of a Tweet Storm

(Cover courtesy of Soft Skull Press.)

(Cover courtesy of Soft Skull Press.)

John Colapinto has been a staff writer at the New Yorker since 2008, and is responsible for this brilliant piece on used cooking oil theft, among others. He also rocks venues like the Bowery Electric (and the White House Correspondents’ dinner) as keyboardist for the Sequoias, a cover band (think: Stones and Neil Young) made up of media insiders, led by John Seabrook and including Colapinto and Seabrook’s boss, New Yorker editor David Remnick. Colapinto’s latest novel, Undone, is about a former schoolteacher getting his underage girlfriend to pose as a bestselling memoirist’s long-lost daughter, and seduce him.

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Trash Bar Owner Aaron Pierce On His New Bushwick Jazz Joint, The Rosemont

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(Photos courtesy of The Rosemont)

The Rosemont, the new one from Aaron Pierce of bygone Trash Bar, has soft-opened in anticipation of a grand opening in May. For those who remember the Trash Bar (however fondly), The Rosemont (a play on its Montrose Street location) is more than a distinctive step up—it’s really nice, by any standards: gorgeous banquettes, a lovely bar with chic padded barstools, an inviting outdoor courtyard, and spiffy bathrooms. The venue still has live music, but the narrow stage in back will cater to jazz rather than drunken rock, and the specialties behind the bar tend towards bespoke cocktails that have more ingredients than “PBR and a shot.” (Try the ‘69 Camaro, a nice turn on an Old Fashioned.)

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B+B Premiere: Dig This TAOTSS Video For "Bare Bones," Before their Album Drops at the Gutter


The first email I received about the new video for The Adventures of the Silver Spaceman (TAOTSS) from frontman Zachary James Ellis said something about a “yurt” with no cell service. When I caught up with Ellis via phone, he told me he was on a retreat, writing songs in Paonia, in western Colorado. With the Rockefeller tree about to be lit, tourist crowds reaching saturation levels, the L train acting like a jilted lover, and a drizzle erasing what few hours of daylight exist at this longitude, we could all be a little jealous.
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The 13 People You Meet On St. Marks Place, Per St. Marks Is Dead

9780393240382_300Everyone has a St. Marks story — my first was smoking free hash after getting ripped off on bunk X. “And since the middle of the twentieth century, kids from all over the country, and the world, who wanted to be writers or artists or do drugs have come to St. Marks Place to find one another and themselves.” So says St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Coolest Street, the dizzyingly fascinating mostly-oral history by Ada Calhoun, which launches Monday, Nov. 2, at Cooper Union with free beer from Brooklyn Brewery and a punk cover band—the St. Marks Zeroes—featuring Ad-Rock.

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Judah Friedlander On His New Book and His Evolution From World Champ to World Champion

(Photo: Melissa Hom for Grub Street)

(Photo: Melissa Hom for Grub Street)

I was sitting in the Olive Tree Cafe, upstairs from the Comedy Cellar, flipping through Judah Friedlander’s new book. Largely single-panel cartoons, the book’s drawings run the gamut between The Far Side and The New Yorker, offering plenty of belly laughs and a few head scratchers. My favorites include one captioned, “Then one night, the dishes did Jeffrey,” a dark mass-jumper routine about a “building’s semi-annual suicide race,” and a sketch of where to meet women in Manhattan: yoga studios and $50 cupcake shops.

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