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Can Political Buttons Tell Us Who’s Going to Win the Election?

(Photos by Frank Mastropolo)

Iowa may be overrun with presidential candidates before tonight’s caucuses but campaign junkies gathered Sunday at Seward Park High School for the annual Political Memorabilia Show. The school’s alumni association and the Big Apple Chapter of the American Political Items Collectors presented a dizzying array of posters, buttons and banners dating to the 1800s. More →

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The Early Word on Five Buzzy NYC Films That Premiered at Sundance

Dick Johnson is Dead” (Courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Dick Johnson is Dead

Dick Johnson dies many times in Dick Johnson is Dead, a hilarious and moving documentary portrait helmed by critics’ favorite Kirsten Johnson. Dick is Kirsten’s dad, and he’s suffering from dementia. The documentary charts her relationship with him over his final years, during which he moves out of his rural home and into Kirsten’s one bedroom apartment in Manhattan. Over the documentary, Kirsten stages various ways in which her father could die — such as falling down a staircase, or getting crushed by a falling AC unit while doddering down the street. Each of these “deaths” feels grisly to a ridiculous degree, and as we watch Dick stand back up, alive, after each encounter, the movie evolves into a kind of absurdist cinematic therapy. Droll and divine in equal measure, Dick Johnson is Dead was a highlight of this year’s festival, proving Johnson a master of her craft. More →

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Red Envelopes Become Rat Envelopes When Artists Celebrate the Lunar New Year

(Photos by Zijia Song)

During Lunar New Year celebrations, Chinese, East Asian, and Southeast Asian elders traditionally give red envelopes to their children and grandchildren, who eagerly tear them open to find out how much money is inside. But Wednesday night at DeKalb Market Hall, the humble red packets were themselves valued at $10 to $400 apiece. No tearing in sight. More →

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Performance Picks: Space Socialism and ‘Old Town Road’ Burlesque

FRIDAY

(image courtesy of Object Collection)

You Are Under Our Space Control
Now through February 2 at La MaMa, 8 pm (some shows at 5 pm): $25 ($20 students/seniors)

These days, sci-fi tales feel closer and closer to reality, and performance group Object Collection knows this well. Their latest music-laden offering at La MaMa, You Are Under Our Space Control, draws from a mixed bag of scientific fact and outer space lore that includes Afrofuturist Sun Ra, campy sci-fi director Cy Roth, and experimental composer John Cage, whose unconventional tactics sometimes included star charts. The group uses video, eccentric props, soundscapes, and text to spin a tale of a depleted Earth and the hopes of a socialist future in space, which is starting to sound more familiar by the day.

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The Wildlife Trade Goes Far Beyond China, Many New Yorkers Know

Confiscated tiger bone products. (Ryan Moehring / USFWS)

Customs agents at JFK airport made an unusual discovery last June: Three dozen finches straightjacketed in hair curlers. The tiny birds are used in singing contests by Guyanese men in New York, spawning a niche illicit trade that extends back to the Caribbean. The finches are trapped in the wild and drugged with rum before shipping. Hundreds have been intercepted over the last few years. More →

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Gordo’s Cantina Crosses the Brooklyn-Queens Border

Gordo’s Cantina quietly opened in Bushwick a month ago after leaving Long Island City last summer, and it’s been a good move for owner JR Savage. “I was just out walking Gordo before you got here,” said the resident of nearby Ridgewood, referring to his restaurant’s namesake French bulldog. “Living five blocks away has been perfect for getting this place together this year.” Savage’s pop-ups are still big business for him; last year his tacos was served at Celebrate Brooklyn’s concerts and Governor’s Ball, where we met him in the midst of the festival’s inclement weather. More →

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A Puffy Playground, A Public Art Legacy, and More Art This Week

Above: Fort Makers in collaboration with Visual Magnetics. Photo: Jen Bristler. Courtesy of Fort Makers.

Puffy
Opening Wednesday, January 22 at Fort Makers, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through March 11.

Usually you can’t touch the art, but starting this Wednesday at Orchard Street space and art collective Fort Makers, you can not only touch it, but rearrange it to your liking. Puffy, organized by Naomi S. Clark, Noah James Spencer, and Nana Spears, transforms the space into a colorful playground of pillows and canvas ready to be grabbed, hugged, and strewn about. If you’re still finding yourself in the clutches of seasonal depression, perhaps an afternoon getting in touch with your inner child (while also engaging in art, of course) could help.

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Performance Picks: War’s Absurdity and Magic in a Flower Shop

FRIDAY

(image via Brooklyn Comedy Collective)

A Late Night Show That is Also Live
Friday, January 17 at Brooklyn Comedy Collective, 9 pm: $10

Some show titles are abstract and obscure; some tell you all you need to know. A Late Night Show That is Also Live falls squarely into the latter camp. But while its name offers no surprises, it will surely be an evening full of them. This is not your average late night experience: host Meghan Strickland will not only be interviewing fellow comedians, but also giving them challenges to complete. And knowing the madcap stuff that comes out of the BCC, that could truly mean anything. Tonight’s guests include Nick Naney, Maya Sharma, Lucyana Randall, and Jessy Morner-Ritt.

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Cigar Strikes, Anarchists and Bohemian Beer: Vestiges of a Czech Community 

It looks like any other East Village apartment building now, but over a century ago, 533 East Fifth Street, between Avenues A and B, was the site of what may have been the city’s first Bohemian National Hall. At the time, Czech and Slovak immigrants were so concentrated along Avenue B, between Houston Street and Tompkins Square Park, that it was called “Czech Boulevard.”  More →