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How ‘Love at First Sight’ Saved a 170-Year-Old Synagogue

(Photos: Holly Pickett)

Kaleidoscopic colors illuminate the interior of Anshe Slonim Synagogue at 172 Norfolk St. on the Lower East Side. Sapphire, scarlet, magenta, and emerald take turns reflecting off peeling gold paint and the pulse of the Bee Gees’ 1977 disco classic “Night Fever” radiates from speakers facing the sanctuary. In front of the Ark—in most synagogues, the special cabinet housing the Torah, Judaism’s holy text—actors perform a musical based on New York City’s notorious Studio 54 nightclub. During the musical numbers, the audience members boogie on a square dance floor, lit from below with fuchsia and white lights. Above it all, a rotating disco ball flings sparks of light across the room. More →

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9 Doyers Street and the Gangs of New York Scorsese Didn’t Tell Us About

Martin Scorsese’s 2002  film Gangs of New York is a glimpse into the power struggles that plagued the neighborhoods of lower Manhattan in the late 19th century. It addresses universal and timeless themes of xenophobia and resistance to immigration, but limits the emphasis of its story to the ongoing battle between the so-called “Natives”—those whose parents arrived in America as early as the 1600s—and the “Dead Rabbits” and other Irish gangs that emerged as the Irish population grew three centuries later. But Herbert Asbury’s 1928 eponymous book, on which Scorsese based his film, features many other gangs of the era, the most prominent of them the Hip Sings and the On Leongs, whose activity centered on Chinatown’s Doyers Street. More →

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Performance Picks: Winter Theater Fests and Queer Comedy

(image courtesy of The Public Theater)

Under the Radar Festival
Now through January 19 at The Public Theater, various times, $25+.

What do Laurie Anderson, prize-winning playwright Aleshea Harris, and multiple stories about the moon have in common? They’re all part of The Public Theater’s 16th annual Under the Radar Festival, the long-running celebration of innovative performance work from around the world and one of the biggest signifiers that January’s theater festival season is upon us once again. This year, they’re presenting 12 theater pieces, four concerts, six works-in-progress, and several parties. Highlights include Selina Thompson’s pice inspired by a trip retracing a Transatlantic Slave Triangle route, Back to Back Theater’s exploration of disability and an AI-dominated future, and the aforementioned moon tales: one of virtual reality by Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huan, one of desire on the West Bank by Palestine’s Remote Theater Project.

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A Home For Little Wanderers, and the Occasional Arsonist

1940s Tax Lot photo. Credit: New York City Department of Records.

The Saturday before Christmas, 1921, near Third Avenue and 12th Street, a truck struck and killed little Amelia Laredo, who was on her way to buy a present. She was living just around the corner at the Howard Mission and Home for Little Wanderers, a Protestant-run orphanage housed in the four-story red brick-and-frame townhouse at 225 East 11th Street. On Saturdays, Jennie Hudson, the mission superintendent, would give each child a dime for the movies but that day, Amelia told her friends that she was going to use the money to buy a Christmas gift for her brother, a cripple, who was in Brooklyn Hospital.  More →

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The Sip-In That ‘Legalized Gay Bars’ Before Stonewall

The building in 1969 and 50 years later in 2019. Courtesy Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.

On the quiet corner of West 10th Street and Waverly Place, one of New York’s oldest watering holes has been operating since around 1864. It bore the name Julius’ sometime in the 1920s. Even Prohibition, during which the tavern transformed into a bustling speakeasy, had minimal impact on Julius’ operations. On April 21, 1966, three years before the riots at Stonewall occurred a block away, a gay rights milestone gave the West Village bar its status as legend, paving the way for the city’s legitimate LGBTQ establishments.  More →

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Art This Week: Peep Shows and Curious Comfort

(image via friedman_benda / Instagram)

Opening Thursday, January 89 at Friedman Benda, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through January 15.

Everyone has a different definition of comfort. Your grandfather’s old and cigarette-scented armchair might feel like home to you but cause another person to wrinkle their nose in disgust. Curator Omar Sosa’s latest show at Friedman Benda focuses on the harmonies and contradictions inherent in items, particularly pieces of furniture and design, meant to bring comfort in one way or another. As this is an art exhibition and not a furniture showroom, comfort is usually interpreted quite creatively—think a boxy bookshelf that leans but never falls, a sculpture entitled “Toilet Sink,” and a colorful blanket meant for a pair.

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The Village East Cinema: From Yiddish Theater to Arthouse Cinema

Image via

On Nov. 16, the Village East Cinema held a special screening of The Room, a maybe-the-worst-film-ever classic that has become a cult phenomenon. The screening included a talkback with the eccentric writer/producer/star/financier Tommy Wiseau. Screenings of the movie have become something of an event since it first hit theaters in 2003, even inspiring a critically acclaimed movie by James Franco, The Disaster Artist. More →

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Our 36-Hour New Year’s Party Crawl

The conclusion of Bubbles & Bass’s Seize the Day party at House of Yes in Bushwick, 1/1/20 at 5:30pm.

From the far reaches of Red Hook to downtown Manhattan and back again to Bushwick’s warehouses, our New Year’s was a 36-hour race against time from one rager to the next. Follow along as we hit 20 parties across three boroughs. More →