Up until, ahem, pretty recently, you could get away with making the claim that as Americans we are far more enlightened than we were 50, or even 10 years ago. The numbers appear to support this– fewer of us are going to church, the youngins among us are far more tolerant than the olds, 60 percent of us are down to see marijuana legalized, and best of all, this whole “Golden Age of TV” thing means that even our beloved Idiot Box is smart these days. We all know what happened next– which meant that progress was not only going to be stopped, but deported back to Angela Merkel’s lap and replaced by nonsense rhetoric (the “best people” are doing “tremendous” things to make the U.S.A. “great” “again”) and “alternative facts.” We are only a few months into this horror show, but the impact on art, and how we process art, is already being felt.
In a vacuum, The Catcher in the Rye is a pretty straightforward story– not a whole lot happens. But if you’re at all familiar with American culture, you’re probably well aware that it has taken on an enormously prolific life of its own. Probably you read the book for school as a teen, or even a tween if you grew up here, and you might have noticed that it has a somewhat polarizing effect. If you identified with the book’s hero, a 17-year-old kid named Holden Caulfield, anyone else who shared this affinity was an OK person too. But plenty of people just don’t get Holden’s misanthropic cynicism, and it’s weird, but there seems to be a built-in emotional trigger point here for those who do: clearly the haters must be “phonies” then, too. As time goes on, and teenage angst either subsides or turns into something else, like, playing in a black metal band or four-martini lunch hours, Holden’s frustration with the world’s many, many disappointments seems more like kid stuff. And most people realize that, OK not everyone is such a phony after all. But not everyone lets go of Holden so easily.
There’s a singular, surreal, and very memorable moment invoked by Carlos Dengler in his new solo stage production Homo Sapiens Interruptus (the last performance, part of the FringeNYC festival is tonight, 9:30 pm at 64E4 Underground in the East Village).
I was not feeling particularly delighted when I nestled into my seat at Company XIV‘s stage production of Snow White. Firstly, the theater smelled like a brothel before Yankee Candle Company was invented (intentionally, I assume), and Sundays are the last day I want to be getting all experimental with my olfactory receptors. All. Organs. Ache. Even my ability to laugh is usually squandered at this point– lolz are wasted on the youth, am I right? So when this baroque, gyrating, barely-clothed, indulgent mishmash of Versailles’s gaudiest decor, the charming Weimar cabaret, classical ballet, pole dancing, and remnants of the Brothers Grimm managed to turn my bottom-grazing sulk into 100-percent authentic laughter and delight, I was so, so happy I’d crawled out of my bed to be with Company XIV’s Snow White.
Tis the season for Macbeth y’all. For one, it seems like you’ll never stop hearing about Sleep No More, and what with having survived the weeklong bender of that tipsy Macbeth production, which took place inside a distillery, you might think we’d all be feeling pretty hungover from all of it, weary of sipping from Shakespeare’s tragic chalice any time soon. But nay, this is one of those cases where you swore off the drink, so to speak, but returned with vigor (which is to say each and every time). This week, get your Macbeth hair of the dog and head to a psycho-sexual parody of the play (because everyone knows the best cure for a hangover is…) perhaps even more transgressive than that $100 plus tourist trap.
This weekend, Stairwell Theater is staging Ubu Rex, an immersive evening of debauchery and cabaret at Aviv, and you’re invited to partake in the revelry and grime at a “post-apocalyptic dinner party.”
If there was any question as to whether Williamsburg has reached its peak as a major Destination-with-a-capital-D, this new video about a foodie tour of the increasingly tony nabe’s “gourmet food scene” settles it.
On its face, Nirbhaya, which had its American premier at the Lynn Redgrave Theater in the East Village last night, is about the 2012 gang rape of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi. Jyoti Singh Pandey, who was coming home with a friend from the movies, was brutally raped and beaten with an iron rod by six men aboard a bus, then left naked, for dead, by the side of the road. She died days later from internal injuries. The incident spurred angry protests across India, and a documentary about Jyoti’s assault, India’s Daughter, was released earlier this year, banned by an Indian court, and then watched by thousands.
Brooklyn band Jukebox the Ghost is used to fans asking about its name. The motive for it was simple: the band wanted to be highly searchable on Google. Lead singer and keyboardist Ben Thornewill settled on it by taking a Captain Beefheart lyric and combining it with a beloved passage from a Nabokov novel.
On Thursday, Brooklyn singer/songwriter Danielia Cotton celebrates the release of The Real Book, featuring 12 cover songs ranging from Simon & Garfunkel to Radiohead. One of the new album’s tracks, a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” features musician Amy Helm, daughter of the late Levon Helm. Tracy Bonham and Rachel Yamagata also have cameos on the record.
Ben Asbury, a Georgia native living in Asheville, NC, released his debut LP via Greenpoint’s Captured Tracks in March under the name Axxa/Abraxas. The name, Asbury explains, is a two-part homage: “Axxa” is a term used by his father in a poem and “Abraxas” references a gnostic godhead.