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‘The Booksellers’: A Musty-See Documentary About Old Books

I remember the moment I almost emptied my bank account at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. The object of temptation: a poster advertising the reopening of the New St. Mark’s Baths, the notorious gay bathhouse that was ultimately shut down by Ed Koch during the 1980s AIDS scare. Sci-fi illustrator Boris Vallejo’s artwork depicted a He-Man type riding a horned beast, flanked by ripped space aliens. It was like a Miles Davis cover if Bitches Brew was an advertisement for pre-Giuliani orgy dens, and I had to have it. More →

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Brooklyn Bazaar Will Close (Again) at the End of November

Sharkmuffin at Brookjlyn Bazaar (Photo: Daniel Maurer)

The Brooklyn Bazaar will leave its home of three years at the end of November, it announced today. “This is literally like fucking Groundhog Day for us,” said owners Belvy Klein and Aaron Broudo, who in 2015 were forced to move the Bazaar from its original Banker Street warehouse after a rent hike. More →

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6 Lines From the ‘West Wing’ Impeachment That Are Still Timely, 20 Years Later

Aaron Sorkin at PaleyFest NY. (Photo by Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix)

What better way to ponder (read: mourn) the current state of the union than with the 20th anniversary of Aaron Sorkin’s political drama The West Wing? PaleyFest New York, a two-week celebration of popular television, kicked off with a screening of the show’s season-two finale, “Two Cathedrals,” as well as a panel discussion where Sorkin explained his creative process, the history of The West Wing and the show’s continued relevance.  

The pilot episode of The West Wing debuted in 1999 after the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and follows the senior staffers of the fictional Bartlet administration. The “Two Cathedrals” episode was released on May 16, 2001 and comes at the end of President Bartlet’s first term, when he’s being investigated for lying to voters about his multiple sclerosis diagnosis. Bartlet is expected to direct the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate him, all while making sure the investigation will be made up of people who were appointed by Republican presidents. Bartlet’s slip-up “now feels like a relatively minor crime,” Sorkin observed.

Bedford + Bowery collected some of the most evergreen (read: currently relevant) themes from “Two Cathedrals.” 

The President Should NOT Run For Re-election
“I don’t like being the first one to say it, but I’m gonna; I think the president has got to strongly consider not running for re-election.”
Multiple White House officials advise that Bartlet not run for a second term; of course, he does anyway.

Crazy Tropical Storms
“Isn’t it strange to have a tropical storm in May? I’m pretty sure there’s a season and this isn’t it.” 
President Bartlet continually asks when tropical storm season is and why there’s a strong storm coming off the coast of Florida in the off-season. He’s told that a storm of this magnitude hasn’t happened in over a century. At least Bartlet double and triple checked his storm facts. No sharpie-doctored, inaccurate hurricane map here. 

Women’s Workplace Woes
“The women who work here, if they bring it up, they’re afraid for their jobs.”
President Bartlet has a flashback to his high-school days, where his father is the headmaster of a prestigious private school. The new secretary tells him that women who work there are getting paid less than men, and that women are afraid to speak up. #MeToo, anyone?

Good Deeds
“3.8 million new jobs, that wasn’t good? Bailed out Mexico, increased foreign trade, 30 million new acres of land for conservation.”
Amid all the re-election controversy and his personal misfortunes, Bartlet briefly rants about all the good deeds he’s done in his first term as president. Maybe Trump took a page from Bartlet’s book of political benevolence, by boasting about the economy to distract from the impeachment inquiry. 

Congressional Crisis
“Are you out of your mind? I can’t possibly win re-election, I lied about a degenerative illness, I’m the target of a grand jury investigation and Congress is about to take me out to lunch.”
Staffers contemplate Bartlet’s place as commander in chief after being wrapped up in controversy after controversy. It’s looking like Congress may treat President Trump to a nice meal sometime soon, too.

Health Insurance Hiatus
“How many Americans don’t have health insurance?”
“44 million.”
President Bartlet talks to his secretary about work that needs to be done in the next term. While the number of uninsured Americans has gone down since 2001, that number has been steadily increasing over the past year. Good to know that 20 years later, affordable healthcare is still a partisan issue!

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The Easter Egg in Bong Joon-ho’s Genre-Bending, Mind-Blowing ‘Parasite’ That Explains the Ending

Mr. Park (Sun-kyun Lee) and Yeon-kyo Park (Yeo-jeong Jo) in Parasite (courtesy of Neon/CJ Entertainment)

Spoiler Alert: This item is intended for those who’ve already watched “Parasite,” which opens Oct. 11; it contains plot spoilers including a description of the film’s ending.

If you’re thirsty for a new Jordan Peele movie, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is your tall glass of water (or murky glass of makgeolli). Much like Get Out, it deftly combines comedy, horror, and social commentary; and much like Us, it pits families on either side of the class divide against each other. Needless to say, it has won critical acclaim: After becoming the first South Korean film to nab the Palme d’Or at Cannes back in May, it’s currently clocking a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s the #73 top-rated movie of all-time on IMDB, and it received rapturous applause following its New York premiere at the New York Film Festival on Saturday. More →

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Immerse Yourself in a Bizarre, Interactive ‘Explosion of Dolls’ in a Chelsea Townhouse

There are few things so eerie as forsaken dolls; then there’s what’s going on at The Cell’s converted townhouse theater in Chelsea. “FOUND” is the space’s first-ever immersive theatrical experience, a deep-dive into the spooky world of visual artist Mikel Glass, just in time for sweater weather.

It is difficult to describe “FOUND.” The Cell calls it “a new and exciting way to consume the visual arts” (also: “an explosion of dolls”). Glass had free reign to curate all four floors of the townhouse, which The Cell’s founding artistic director Nancy Manocherian converted, in 2006, into a multi-use space for interactive and immersive installations like this one. Glass let loose with chaotic junkyard energy. There is stuff everywhere, found objects strewn about between, above, and below his paintings and sculptures. There are piles of loose pill capsules on the floor. Suitcases and pizza boxes. A cooler of Cherry Garcia ice cream. Even the paintings themselves have a dissonant, slapped-together sensibility; in “Birth of B-Art,” for instance, a faceless woman gives bloody birth surrounded by bobbleheads, baby dolls, and some kind of spider-crab, and upon closer inspection, you’ll notice the emerging baby has the head of Bart Simpson. But the dominant feature in “FOUND” are the aforementioned dolls, creepy things of various sizes and materials—they’re innumerable, literally everywhere, and all, apparently, were discovered by Glass on the streets of New York. Some of them are missing limbs or eyes; some stand and keep watch, holding onto the staircase bannisters; some hold iPhones in their weird little hands, displaying effectively spooky loop-video footage of JonBenét Ramsey. 

Art by Mikel Glass.

There are also people everywhere in this interactive exhibit, actors from Mason Holdings (directed by Kristjan Thor), whose disconnected scenes interrupt and enhance Glass’s visual landscape. Audience members are vital participants in what goes on at “FOUND,” willing or not: if you go, you will have to accessorize a distraught woman, add brushstrokes to already-existing paintings, and maybe fill out a beyond-the-grave adoption application. I’m still working through what these theatrical snippets have to do with one another, and how they’re related to Glass’s works. It’s clear that they are all similarly atonal, curious, disquieting; it’s also clear that these cross-medium collaborators are inviting people to have a wholly visceral art experience. Glass sees “FOUND” as something closer to participatory theater than to the typically passive Chelsea gallery walk-through (he’ll tell you so himself, when you find him on his perch somewhere deep inside the house). 

I, admittedly, had trouble taking in everything in “FOUND.” There is so much of it, and it’s also hard to focus on a painting when an actor standing in front of it is asking you for your blood type. But overstimulation is part of the game here. “FOUND” is a disorienting but engaging experience, like being tasked with wading, for an hour, through the detritus of a strange and vibrant brain. Which, if you go, you will have been. “FOUND” will have performances through October 31 at The Cell Theatre in Chelsea. You can purchase tickets at their website.

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Bedford Ave Gets a Caffeine Boost From Hungry Ghost and Doughnut Plant

Doughnut Plant.

Williamsburg’s Bedford Avenue strip just got a very familiar coffee shop, and it’ll get another one in a month or so. Doughnut Plant, the Lower East Side-born coffee-and-doughnuts dispensary, just opened its sixth location, at 198 Bedford, on the corner of N 6th, and the tenth outpost of Hungry Ghost is due to follow just a couple of blocks away, at 231 Bedford. More →

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Make It an Endless Summer With These Beachside Film Fests

Don’t let the sun go down on me. (Photo: Daniel Maurer)

Don’t be fooled by the forecast of 90-degree weather: Summer ended last week and even the die-hards are calling it a season. Caracas shuttered its boardwalk outpost last weekend and Rippers will follow suit this Sunday. But don’t get S.A.D.: a couple of October film festivals make for nifty reasons to keep up the Rockaway and Hamptons pilgrimages.

Hamptons International Film Festival
Oct. 10-14 in East Hampton and Southampton, tickets $15-$40.
If you missed the big premieres of Scorsese’s The Irishman and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story at the New York Film Festival, here’s your chance to see them in the Hamptons, blessedly far from midtown traffic. The 27th installment of the HIFF kicks off Thursday with the adaptation of Bryan Stevenson’s bestselling memoir Just Mercy, in which Michael B. Jordan plays a lawyer fighting for the wrongfully convicted, and continues Saturday with Ford v Ferrari, in which Matt Damon and Christian Bale set out to build a race car that can defeat team Ferrari in the 1966 24 Hour Le Mans race. There’s also a strong slate of documentaries about some truly cringe-worthy types—disgraced yogi Bikram Choudhury, writer and “narcissistic social butterfly” Truman Capote, infamous shoe addict and original hypebeast Imelda Marcos, and Trump enablers the National Enquirer– as well as one about the Boss: Bruce Springsteen’s concert film chronicling an intimate performance of his new album Western Stars.

Rockaway Film Festival
Oct. 17-21 in Rockaway Beach; day and weekend passes $30-$150.
Started last year by filmmaker Sam Fleischner (Wah Do Dem, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors), this festival aims to bring quality flicks to a peninsula that is still somehow without a movie theater. This year’s installment pays tribute to some trailblazing filmmakers who died this past year, via Jonas Mekas’s footage of Williamsburg in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’70s; D.A. Pennebaker’s 1953 tribute to the moribund Third Avenue elevated train, Daybreak Express; and Agnes Varda’s One Minute For One Image, in which the late Belgian artist and filmmaker discusses her favorite photographs. Needless to say, there will also be surfing footage and a couple of films about the New York waterfront: Nathan Kensinger’s Managed Retreat evocatively documents three local neighborhoods where residents are taking post-Sandy buyouts in order to cede the shore back to nature; Ben Mendelsohn’s As If Sand Were Stone shows how underwater dredging shapes the urban waterfront. Another standout documentary is Midnight Family, about a Mexico City family’s struggle to make it in the private ambulance business. And making its New York premiere is a SXSW favorite, Jezebel, about a 19-year-old who turns to camming; the semi-autobiographical work marks the directorial debut of Haitian-American producer-actress Numa Perrier, who will be at the screening.

Correction: A previous version of this post mentioned films that showed last year.

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After a Fire, Food Coop Ponders Its Place in Bushwick

(Photos courtesy of Bushwick Food Coop)

A fire outside the beloved Bushwick Food Coop burst the shop’s storefront window in the early morning of July 3. After shattering the glass, the heat seeped into the building and activated overhead sprinklers, causing thousands of dollars worth of smoke and water damage. Three months after the incident, Bushwick Food Coop is still trying to reopen, but the process is slow and painful. Having raised just $11,000 of its $60,000 fundraising goal, there’s still a long way to go.  More →