Calamity Chang, once a fixture at the old Galapagos with the Beatles Burlesque show she produced, rarely performs in Brooklyn these days. But she makes an exception for the New York Burlesque Festival, which will inundate the city with glitter this weekend for the 13th year in a row. “As for Brooklyn,” she told us, “well, let’s just say that burlesque died when the hipsters moved into Williamsburg. They are too sexually repressed to appreciate sexuality and too cool to appreciate camp.”
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While New Yorkers can be blind to events in other cities, there are many reasons to sympathize with San Franciscans in Joshua Mohr’s new novel All This Life. Specifically, gentrification (the Mission is finally going the way of Williamsburg, in case you didn’t notice), addiction to tech, and a yearning for societal interaction that social media merely imitates.
“What might have happened if Kate Bush and Roxy Music combined forces for a night? Went on a date and let us eavesdrop?”
Few people personify the downtown New York aesthetic like Chris Stein. As the guitarist of Blondie, he’s helped to define—and defy—what people talk about when they talk about New York. Fortunately for us, he was documenting his adventures in the dangerous old New York, as proven in his book of photographs. These were shown at the Chelsea Hotel in September, and a new show opened yesterday on the other side of the pond at the Somerset House in London.
The performance artist Penny Arcade called us back after getting out of a show that ran late. So, even in the midst of her own show Longing Lasts Longer (Nov. 2, 3, 9, 10 at Joe’s Pub), she’s making time to support the work of other artists. The legendary downtown icon is, wonderfully, still underground and still outraged. The new show and her preoccupations are deeply intertwined, as her work is primarily autobiographical, and our conversation ranged from why New York is now “the Big Cupcake,” to what makes Lena Dunham so special, to the young “creative soul” in the Times paying $3,700 rent.
Papercut Press’ Fall showcase at Radio Bushwick last week was surprisingly well attended considering it was on Rosh Hoshanah. A host of folks came out to see bands as well as readers, including Jason Napoli Brooks (also an indie publisher) and Dolan Morgan from the Atlas Review. Indie publishers keep gathering in North Brooklyn, which, along with the varying Short Story clubs, is adding to a rising literary scene that isn’t waiting for McNally Jackson to arrive.
“Space Opera” seems to have fallen out of favor since the ‘70s, which makes it a perfect target for reanimation and—let’s hope—popularization. This week the band Color presents ISON: A Space Opera, which retells the saga of the comet ISON.
The show is being touted as “a meditation on the supposed heroism of long voyages,” and includes guest musicians, vocalists, and actors, as well as spoken text taken verbatim from interviews with Sajan Saini, physicist, and Tim Recuber, sociologist. Core Color band members are vocalist Michael Blain (who also plays drums for the Williamsburg band Maude), guitar player Randy Miller (he also plays bass with the country band Hemi) and bassist Kristin Dombek, who is better known as the advice columnist at n+1.
Sometime last week, supposedly in the dead of night, a few hundred copies of a new free magazine were quietly “made available” in select areas of Williamsburg and downtown Manhattan. It was an inscrutable, auspicious beginning, kind of like a plague of raspberry scones. No, we’re not stroking out, we’re just responding to the offbeat humor—like, way past syncopated—of this first issue of Hausfrau we’ve been reading.
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street opens in 1913 on a spunky young girl fleeing Russia for New York with her family. Crippled and abandoned on the Lower East Side, she hustles her way into the Italian-ice peddling racket and travels across America in an ice cream truck, building an ice cream empire in a story that spans 70 years. The book examines the immigrant experience, particularly on the Lower East side, and themes of independence and appearance, as the protagonist remains a hard-drinking woman even as she becomes the wholesome “Ice Cream Queen of America.”
Susan Jane Gilman, also the author of best-selling memoir Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, will read at Barnes & Noble UWS tonight at 7 p.m. We spoke to her about childhood shopping treks to the LES, her mentor Frank McCourt, and her favorite places for an ice cream fix.