Laurie Anderson, PIFF-Blessed/Chosen-Grateful

Posted in film, Music, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by thebrooklynsocialite

In Joan Rivers new documentary, despite the over-arching theme of her heroic battle to maintain eroding celebrity, she talks a lot about being chosen. Yes, this works in contrast with the theme, because although as audience members we are asked to feel sorry for her because she is  aging, and has been  somewhat cast aside, the images that we are shown are of her affluence, her heightened privilege. She especially kills her bid for sympathy  when she on several occasions, publicly declares that she is “so chosen.” I think this is a reference to the Jewish concept of being the chosen ones, a concept that does not evade supremacist ideology and one of which, I am not a fan.

I had trouble with this  sentiment and i did not feel sorry for Joan, still I found her to be funny in an off way and I enjoyed the film. It was one of the few that I caught this year at the Provincetown International Film Festival. Kevin Smith was being honored as Director on the edge, so he was in attendance along with Tilda Swinton and the directing team behind the Celluloid Closet and several other queer history greats including Word is Out.

It was fun hearing Smith talk as I have long been a fan of his New Jersey cult classics. He produced a film, that also screened at the festival called Bear Nation. A film about the bear community among Gay men.  A great topic, but the film, however, was not a cinematic masterpiece.

Anyway, the thing which brought me to remember Joan Rivers comments on being chosen, were my thoughts at the beginning of this post and at the end of these two weeks about being blessed. Blesssed I’m afraid is as problematic a word as chosen in this context. I feel lucky at this moment, I’d say I feel blessed but that takes on a very similar religious tone to chosen and I’d rather leave all of that out of this.

What I mean to say is, I feel honored to have sat crouched down on the floor in the penthouse balcony of a very tall hotel next to Lou Reed and AM Holmes, Anthony (from he and the Johnsons) and  the esteemed photographer who took the below picture, at the foot of Laurie Anderson while she played us a song off her new album Homeland. Using her voice disguiser, she performed in the character of her drag alter ego. The whole scene was brilliant and I just sat there, in awed silence, not quite sure if i belonged. Belong or not, I was invited in.

Rather than walking out feeling chosen or blessed, I felt grateful and went home to Brooklyn.

Portrait (c) Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

helooo- Word of the day-Work Comma

Posted in word of the day with tags , , , , , on May 10, 2010 by thebrooklynsocialite

Aggggghhhhrrhhhhgggg!

I’m sorry. I’ve been in work comma. It’s kind of like food comma. It comes when you consume too much work, what it leaves in it’s path is the ability to work more, or lay down and hold your ears and/or stomach, and probably put on headphones, maybe earplugs, preferably watch something, like a bad movie or life as you once knew it continuing to go on outside of your window. Maybe you’ll listen to music, the one click kind, like Pandorra, or itunes.

Don’t be alarmed, you have the itis! That’s right, it’s just work comma and there is a cure.

Now the cure isn’t easy or free if you intend to keep working, but in this case, no problems, because you now have the money, and can afford to treat yourself.

These are the top 10 miracle cures, now pay very close attention: acupuncture, protein in the morning, massage(preferably hot stone), all day brunches with yo friends, movies, great books, yo friends, cultural nourishment(ie art shows, dance, theater, the better the better),  music (as often as pos), and blogging! I swear it helps, go viral, pretend you’re a pirate radio station in Arizona and no ones listening! That’s what I do.

x TBS

Brooklyn Snapshots of Silverlake

Posted in day off, Food, Guide to What's Good with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2010 by thebrooklynsocialite

Hey folks, I know I’ve been an errant blogger. Bad girl! ha ha, i mean bad Woman, I mean, good effort, nice try, better luck next time. I mean…. here are some photos of my recent trip to Silver Lake aka a fun neighborhood in L A. There are some photos of Venice and Santa Monica too. I really enjoyed hanging out at Intelligentsia cafe on Sunset and checking out the local take on Hipster fashion, going to the West Hollywood Farmer’s Market, where I had amazing lavender honey ice cream and dipping into the hot springs in Ohai. Here are the pics:

Pupuseria

Cubanito Market Coffee

Scaters of all ages

Much needed sun

DJ Spooky and…I moved

Posted in art, Music with tags , , , , , , on January 16, 2010 by thebrooklynsocialite

Well, friends I’ve been a little busy. I moved to Ft Greene, so it looks like the Brooklyn Socialite just got a little bit more central (and high-class). The transition was crazy, it involved movers and me breaking my little back, oh(!) it was exhausting, it’s taken a while to recover, but I think I’m getting there. I have still been voraciously consuming culture, that has not changed and there is much to be discussed. I really can’t imagine where to begin.

Hmmm, just before my blogging blackout, I saw DJ Spooky’s Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica at BAM (my new neighbor). Ah, it was so good, just my speed, with text and film projections, symphony live mixed-by Mr.Spooky and an interrogation of borders, neutrality and environmental preservation, the event was twisted good. He straight-up went to Antarctica and recorded the sounds of ice in preparation for this event.  I also learned that DJ Spooky aka That subliminal kid Paul D. Miller is a pretty legit working artist, am I the last to know?  I knew I was impressed when I saw him at Southpaw in like 2006 with Don Letts (that’s reggae god to you), he had some crazy projections going and a well-tailored set, but that was nothing compared with the BAM show. Here is a teaser of Spooky’s Antarctica project.

I have so much more to say but one thing at a time…

Jack Dorsey, J.VIEWZ, Jennifer Muller…

Posted in dance, Music, talk with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

On the cultural front, life has been unfolding quite beautifully, on the work/ housing front, I must emit a resounding, “Don’t Ask.” So lets accentuate the positive, starting with last Monday night. I went to my favorite niche Museum, yes, The Rubin. After some Indian Dahl soup in their cafe, I ventured downstairs to hear a very creative approach to the old fashioned interview. Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter was being essentially analyzed by the Jungian analyst, Harry Fogerty. Some pretty astounding things emerged from the exercise.

While, I live tweeted along, I found out that the young Dorsey, has quite an artistic/poetic brain. He spoke of his love for maps and pockets, as could be expected, but did so through the lens of Virginia Wolff, his favorite author, and by offering anecdotes about his mother (one of the first Twitter users) and his walking habit. Apparently, he makes a ritual of zigzagging across the city from one end to the other, so if your out walking after midnight under the starlight you might literally run into him. He also spoke a lot about the potential dangers of internet addiction, the crackberry and Twitter fiends. He recommends technology as a tool, to be used for good, and in moderation.

The invitations kept coming in and Wednesday after a day of shots from my newly acquired doctor (!) I caught a performance of Jennifer Muller and the Works’ piece Bench. Based on the issues captured in Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, the performance is lyrical and symbolic. Thanks to a choreography-explained session by the formidable Ms. Muller, I now know that the 7 deadly sins are danced in stages throughout the performance, with 7 couples representing the possible roads to folly. The event took place in the Chelsea Museum above the Hudson River skyline. I almost felt far from Brooklyn.

On Friday night, I checked out J.VIEWZ. I don’t know what that stands for but, they are: an Israeli Jazz band, fused with Reggae, equipped with a record scratching, hip-hop stylz DJ and an amazing vocalist. We enjoyed the way they turned the Blue Note into a cross between an international beer hall and a Joanna Newsom concert. It was all very Barcelona. Check out their cover of  MJ’s Smooth Criminal below, and email some juicy and fascinating tidbit about something if you want to win a free download or old school hard copy of the album…

Afropunk-Halloween-D’est, Freedom Train

Posted in art, film, People of Color, queer, reading with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Ok, I have been looking for inspiration all week and I must say that I intensely just found it. Right here at home, thanks to the New York Public Library and James Spooner, who have collaboratively brought the film Afropunk into my life. I didn’t realize during all those hours spent moshing in friends basements back in junior high that I was part of a sub-culture. Oh, but I was, I was Afropunk and proud, and now I know it. That’s why I gripped my punk mixtapes, smuggled out of Brooklyn through summer camp channels into my sweaty suburban palms. It explains my yellow sweater and my later interest in Saul Williams. I thought I was alternative or grunge, in fact I was part of an isolated sub-culture of people who didnt then know each other, but who now, I hope, do, thanks in large part to this film, BAM’s Afropunk festival (which I have attended as a unitiated), a cool website and I imagine a lot more.

Did you know that Bad Brains were rastas and members of the Dead Kennedys and Suicidal Tendencies are black? Where have I been? Anyway the point is, I love this film and I can relate to so much of what the interview subjects are talking about, and those punk squatter kids with their black and white patches, who I used to encounter in the east village should take a page out of this film is all I’m saying.

Which brings me to Halloween. Lost in a sea of decision, to dress up or not to dress up, to go out or avoid the madness, a moment of inspiration I found during an audience participation workshop moment at Freedom Train (the black queer theatre that I much love) last week…I was to write around memory, family, ritual – and I came to the ritual of dressing up for Halloween, which for me was a ritual, because I only ever wanted to be one thing. A punk rocker. From the age of about 2-12 this was my stock costume. It involved 80s leg warmers, purple hair, I dressed up as what I was, in fact, without knowing it yet. This year on cabbage night, the inspiration has returned to me, minding my business, watching library dvds, what should I discover-but myself! So this year, tomorrow, I will dress up as the most proud version of my alien finds voice culture. Bring it on. And if you see me, say hi.

Also deserving of a mention in this week’s culture quest in review are Rachael Rakes’ new travelling doc series, Docktruck’s screening of Chantal Akerman’s D’est. Oh, we love Chantal. The film was what you could call silent, or you could call it: in Russian without subtitles + diegetic music, I say potato, you say patato anyway, it was long, in duration, shots on various public and private scenes throughout the eastern bloc shortly after the fall. Read about it in Art Forum and tell them I want to write for them and buy me a zine at Printed Matter and show me your Halloween costume, or maybe you could just see me at Unnameable books, where I also was earlier this week to take in the also much loved by me reading series, Uncalled for Readings, organized by the awesome Ari and friends. I especially enjoyed the second poet, Donna Masini. I purchased her book so more to come on that. A big book review post is one its way, cause as usual I am multi-tasking when it comes to books.

In closing, on the book vein, here is a quote from Eileen Myles’ Not Me:

“The Best Revolutionaries

like to give up

on hot nights in fall.”

Afropunks don’t though.

Still Socialiting- with Legends

Posted in art, Book, film, People of Color, talk with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Wow, like a lost child I continue to stray from the Brooklyn Socialite path, but never too far my friends. Never too far. All the while as my keyboard fingers have gone limp, my little legs have still run from one cultural event to the next. Indeed, I have much to report.

In adventures in the surreal I have recently found myself in 2 interesting settings. One, a friendly neighborhood book group, with a selection of my peers. We had gathered to discuss A Mercy, by the legendary Toni Morrison. Halfway through some questions arose about characters and the author’s intention, when one of the group said, “Well, I’ll just call her and ask her, hold on a sec.”  “Excuse me?” I stuttered out. “What does she mean she’ll just call her?” “Well Toni Morrison is her grandmother.” Another member offered. Oh, I saw. Morrison was called and I sat dumbfounded. There was so much I wanted to ask her.

To continue on the theme of six degrees of separation, the next day, out of Brooklyn and all the way uptown at the 92 Street Y, I was picking up my ticket to Chinua Achebe from the press representative and he mentioned in passing that all 900 seats of the auditorium were packed. “I haven’t seen the Y this full since Toni Morrison was here.” He said. Of course, Morrison again.

My second brush with legend this past week or so, was a screening that I had the occasion to attend on the rooftop of the Chelsea Hotel. Yes, after seeing Chelsea on the Rocks, Abel Ferrara’s docudrama (it had re-enactments, many) next door at the Chelsea Cinema, I moved considerably closer to that old ghost, new art temple of legend, yes the Hotel in question. I got past the reception who didn’t seem to want to let any of us up to Sam Bassett‘s penthouse apt. We did make it though, the very small crew of myself, 5-6 other journalists, Sam, his girlfriend Erin Featherstone (I was having fashion week flashbacks, I had been to her show, but in person, she was more real life-like and very nice. Bryant Park makes one grand I suppose.) and Stanley Bard himself, with his support team of family and friends. There we sat, with an amazing view of the city, in Basset’s studio/home and watched the work unfold. His documentary, Stanley Bard, was decidedly different from Chelsea on the Rocks, although they were made at similar times, with similar subject matter. The comparison is a whole article in itself, but for now let’s leave it at more, on the gentle, kind and very talented Bassett, to come.

Next stop: Another screening in the series put on by the Royal Flush Festival. This art/music/film festival is a smallish local affair, still they have managed to pack their theaters and involve some amazing contributors. One such element of amazement, was Justin Strawhand’s film, War Against the Weak. Based on the seminal, critical history of  U.S. eugenics by Edwin Black, this film really mines our history in a way that many are not yet ready to own. It tracks how the Rockefeller foundation, along with several other rich American families funded eugenics research in the U.S and Germany from the beginning of the 20th century, all the way up through the Second World War. The startling tenet of the film is that Nazism was directly inspired and to some degree funded by racist American science, and what’s more, many other institutions and policies that remain in place here, to this day, were motivated by eugenics. A sinister origin is revealed for the SAT, the IQ test, and much of the  documentation, which has been kept by government agencies like jails and schools throughout the past century. Again much more can be said on the subject, and in order to verse myself more fully, I purchased, yes with my own limited funds, the last copy of Edwin Black’s book in the Union Square Barnes and Noble. Here once more, I accidentally approached legend, this book happened to be a hardcover, signed by the author.

But let’s take a step back, dedicated readers of this blog may remember that I first met Justin back in the spring at Full Frame. We got into a long discussion about Eugenics outside of a festival party. De ja vu, a couple of weekends back, when I was at the Hamptons Film Festival, lying low as Industry (that means I was on the screening committee, not that I am now an industry bigshot of any kind) who should I find myself hanging out with outside a party again. Yes, of course Justin and here it comes out that I still haven’t seen his film and the plan is made to be at his Royal Flush screening. Wait, what else happened in the Hamptons?

Well, I saw a lot of films and I took a little morning trip to Montauk, my favorite part of that area, where I went to Joni’s my favorite brunch spot in New York state. Oh, it’s charming, has amazing organic food, lots of  which is homemade. I also made a point to go the water everyday and watch the fishermen and walk and relax. Ahh the Brooklyn Socialite will survive Brooklyn only with regular exposure to nature. Yeah, I’m making a rule to get out as much as I can.

OK, but what were the filmic highlights? Let’s see, Shadow Billionaire, was intriguing, The Paper Man was great because of the fact that lots of stuffy audience members walked out in the middle including, one former Mayor Giuliani. Yes, this was my brush with not legend, but ignominy. Oh the shame. I wanted to give him an earful, but I was too polite to interrupt the film, unlike some people. Mira Nair’s collection of shorts was intense, also earned several walkouts, but as Guy Maddin (yes legend is the theme today) once shared with me the fact of the very high walk out rates in his films, I don’t think it is necessarily a bad sign.

To conclude with legends, and to reference my less than clever pun (Still Socialiting) yes I’m not just a boob, this is a reference to the film Still Bill. I saw it this week at Stranger than Fiction. The film is about, yes the legend, Bill Whithers, who after all these years is still Bill. He’s kept his roots and remained down to earth, a family man, who hasn’t released a record in 30 years, after such epic songs as Lean on Me, Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone and Grandma’s Hands. The film is candid and touching and made me really want to find the last autographed copy of the Bill Whiters CD at Barnes and Noble on 14th street.  Maybe my luck will hold.

Toronto International Film Festival, Blackout Film Fest +

Posted in art, film, queer, reading with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Thom and Raphaela of Stranger than Fiction wonderfulness were kind enough to welcome me to their fair city last weekend with a curated selection of documentary films. They put me on a roster of purely political, thought-provoking, grade-A cinema. This was the line up: How To Fold An American Flag, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and The Pentagon Papers, (which was really a great film), Collapse (For all you Peak Oil Cassandras and simple living adherents),  Soderberg’s latest starring Matt Damon, The Informant, Colony (about the beekeeping industry), Cleanfix (about Mormons who edit the “obscenities” out of already released Hollywood Films and The Topp Twins (some soulful dyke yodellers out of New Zealand that have been creating AbFab rivaling entertainment, activism and song for over 20 years.

As you can see that is a lot of film to talk about, and by the time I had greyhounded it back to Brooklyn on Monday morning I was pretty much talked out. But not, I admit socialited out. I spent a few days hanging out with a good mate who was in town form Oz and somewhere along the line I managed to check out Fashion Week. The Isaac Mizrahi show was amazing. I know, loving high fashion may seem dorky to some, but the truth is that I do. The looks were pretty page boy meets Victorian lace meets hot. We’re talking rain, steps, quite the affair. Don’t ask me how I got in, apparently the phrase “Brooklyn Socialite” gets you through the door.

I also got to check out the Kandinsky exhibition at the Guggenheim. Ahh, brilliant, colorful Kandinsky, no one can do it better. I have a soft spot for that old Russian, one of his prints used to hang on my simple blue childhood wall. That was the day after an Australian imported exhibition by Papunya Tula artists that I had the chance to see at NYU’s gallery on Washington Sq East.

This artful week was topped off with another reading by Eileen Myles, this time at my friend Ari’s reading series and with Joan Larkin. It was quite the perfect late summer night, under fairy lights. Surrounded by silence and an audience filled with poets, these authors shared their inspiring craft yet again.

Finally on Saturday, I hit the Blackout Film Festival, this event inspired festival centered around the theme, The Great Depression 2009. It was a collection of short film about job loss, wall street pillow fights, love affairs with piggie banks and an interesting new website called ODD JOB Nation. Check it out for fun webisodes and an actual job board, maybe you can join me in the pursuit of Odd Jobs, at last!

And here is the Topp Twins trailer:

We Live In Public opening @ IFC Center

Posted in film, talk, tv with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Last night I saw this completely tripped out documentary called We Live In Public, check out the site, but do it during off hours ’cause it looks like their sever is crashing (ironically). Too many hits! That could be the subtitle of this Orwellian film about a time in the late 90’s, yes back when I was living in NYC as a 18-year old activist kid, in fact going to some of these parties, but having no idea what it was all about, this Internet mogul, dot-comer, Josh Harris was throwing crazy art projects parties and doing psychological and social experiments on people by way of Internet reality tv.

One might even venture to say that he created reality TV, but did it on the internet, before The Real World NYC, before Big Brother and before it morphed into the present day manifestation of completely scripted, un-real, reality TV shows like The Bachelor and The Real Housewives of NYC.

This guy actually did an experiment called “Quiet” in 1999, in which he housed 150 people for 30 days in an underground bunker, pimped out as a “Pod Hotel.” He dressed them in orange jail-chic jumpsuits and required them to sign their commitment to being filmed 24 hours a day, in every possible position, including showering, having sex, going to the bathroom, eating, fighting, and obliterating themselves with drugs and alcohol if they should chose to do so.

Everything was provided free of charge, free food, booze, what have you, but they would have no rights to the video that was taken of them and they wouldn’t be allowed to leave, once they committed to the project.  Where this begins to get even more grotesque, is that the underground, lower Manhattan, created-world, was complete with a shooting range, large collection of guns and an interrogation chamber. This M.O.D. style interview room, was where people would go to confess all of their psychological and historical messes. Think the “confession room” on The Real World crossed with Guantanomo Bay. This was sick shit. But the most fascinating part is that the people involved were all volunteers, many of whom were artists, friends, part of a larger social scene. It was meant to be fun.

In a way I suspect it was fun, the simulation of freedom, followed by a realization of the fundamental trap. Something like the philosophy of re-living pain in a safer-feeling environment, in order to exorcise the trauma. It reminds me of RENT crossed with Lord of the Flies. This was an experiment with human guinea pigs and it had an aim. The film, and the Quiet project itself records this fascistic, capitalist, gold-rush project of exploitation, an attempt to rush down the slope into internet addiction, and total lack of privacy.

As a prediction it proves to be quite true, our lives have changed enormously as a result of the Internet. In 1999, I didn’t own a phone didn’t really know how to use the computer and everything operated on this slower delivery system called word-of-mouth. I remember the New York of that time being a really vibrant place, but I  have doubted whether that’s true. It could just be me glorifying a left past. This film seems to corroborate my memory though. Perhaps since facebook, and myspace, blogs and online-newspapers have taken over our lives, we know about infinitely more things, yet there is less passionate and exciting fun to be had out there. New York does feel flat.

Beyond asking some very frightening moral questions, this film lovingly reminds us our city past.

MIA and Eileen Myles Reading @ Bluestockings

Posted in art, Book, queer, reading with tags , , , , , , on August 27, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

As you may have noticed I have been missing in action over the summer. It started out with Swine Flu, alright alright, it was bronchitis, but whatever. The point is that illness gave way to quietude and multiple trips to the beach, park and ice cream store and now I’m back ready to make comments again! And, what makes this return to the old arrangement even better is that from now on I will expand upon the grime behind the glitter, that’s right it’s time you all know what keeps the Brooklyn Socialite in business, yes the nitty gritty, jobs of all variety that I have to do to get by.

I’m working on a novel, and being a writer is never easy, in fact artistry of all kinds requires a very steel-faced resolve.  And, for me specifically this creative venture is paired with my desire to be about town, drinking in culture and then offering my 2 cents on just about everything.

In other words, if I was more computer-savvy, I would change the small print under the BROOKLYN SOCIALITE line from the green text that you can’t currently read without squinting, to the following words:

I DO ODD JOBS

I’m kind of proud of it, I mostly like it this way, but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t prefer to have health insurance when swine flu comes knocking on my door, or the luxury to ever stay in a hotel on vacation (it hasn’t happened yet… I love couchsurfing but there is a time and a place girl.) or you know take a date out to dinner (yes, I would do that if I could.)

So prepare to get a fine selection of ODD JOB posts, peppered in with your Brooklyn Socialite posts, cause we are now going to be real with each other. So continue to bring on the invitations to events, but if you should offer me an odd job, I will most likely not catch pride and take offense.

The truth is that in the dark hours of making this all work I have been known to dogsit, housesit, bake brownies and sell them at parties, assist artists, write grants, write articles, sew bridesmaids dresses from scratch, move boxes, organize offices, care for children, be an extra in art films, be a back up dancer/art in the Whitney Biennial, do research, paint bathrooms, install light fixtures, operate a mail order business, be a remote administrator, fashion blog…yes you can only imagine the odd jobs I do and have done.

Whew! Well now a quick word about Eileen Myles reading last night at Bluestockings, appropriate that this should be my welcome back Brooklyn Socialite post because I was reading her book Chelsea Girls during my bout with Cancer, ok Bronchitis, the point is it was bad and I was bed-ridden.

Any way… these are my notes from last night.

Someone asks for a spare tampon over the loudspeaker and we know this has to be bluestockings. Where else does that sweetly feral brand of feminism rule. The ladies mull around meeting each other, finding their spots on blue plastic chairs and the literary boys pepper the crowd as Myles herself sits in the back row watching it all unfold.

The room is about 95 degrees and packed even in standing room when Myles takes the stage. She is reading from her new book The Importance of Being Iceland, which is a compilation of mainly previously published works. The first piece she reads is one I have already read, which originally appeared in the anthology Live Through This. It’s about flossing and how it’s a metaphor for the self-harming that comes with youth eventually being replaced by self-care. Funny and charming, although subtly so.  The thing I notice most during this piece is her accent, so older Boston. It is so much like the voices you can hear in old films, which I so rarely hear in real life these days. It’s strong and distinct.

She,  then also refers to this growing homogeneity of language in reference to Iceland, sagas and the way that T.V. deafens regional accents. The next piece is about a $25 therapist who she, or the “Eileen Character” as she refers to the protagonists of her fiction (not memoir), saw for a few years during her thirties. This was the 80s, she qualifies, and one day the guy suggested to her that it may be that she is a man, in other words transgendered. Somehow the story renders this a breakthrough, yet not a definite commitment to identity, something just to consider.

The last piece seems to be much more strictly non-fiction, a travel essay, on Iceland. Having spent some time one August hitchhiking around Iceland, I have a pretty loving connection to the place and was listening along from this angle. The essay was academic and experiential, and it seemed to be less rigid, in terms of point of view than some of her other work.

Alright, that’s it for now. Stay tuned for more thoughts and rants.

Robyn

Commentary- Dialogue. Human Rights

Posted in film, People of Color, politics with tags , , , , , , on July 15, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

I have been questioning the sanctity of commentary a bit as of late. Thanks to fevers and homebody time and, of course, multiple other factors. This morning, however, I got a welcome reminder of what the point of it all is. That’s right friends, Dialogue. It’s all about the discussion, debate, free share, book club style, writing workshop, round table chat. Sometimes we find engaged minds in non-cyber life that want to dig into our topics with us, while other times we find these passionate opinionated folks online. After I posted my recent interview with Pamela Yates, the director of The Reckoning on the Huffington Post, as promised, this lively multi-voiced dialogue ensued. In progress, and quoted full text, here are our comments.

godlessliberal I’m a

Great interview. It’s sad, a story about Sarah Palin can garner up to a thousand comments but a film about the International Criminal Court has one lonely comment, it speaks volumes about our priorities as a collective people. I, for one, am looking forward to watching this film to get a better understanding of the kinks that still need to be worked out within the court and why our government refuses to sign on as a member state.

Posted 10:27 PM on 07/14/2009

Robyn Hillman-Harrigan – Huffpost Blogger I’m a Fan of Robyn Hillman-Harrigan I’m a fan of this user permalink

Thanks, I’m glad the post has sparked your interest in the ICC. It is such significant work, quietly being hacked away at in the Hague and I agree that more of us should know about the court and our countries opposition to it.

Reply Favorite Flag as abusive Posted 01:45 AM on 07/15/2009

As a member of one of the communities that has dealt with the aftermath of ICC indictments — the ICC has a long way to go in terms of implementation. Especially in Uganda, we’ve witnessed a lot of double standards. The Ugandan President and Moreno-Ocampo attended a press conference together to announce the arrest warrants.

After seeing that, it was clear there would be no accountability or justice for crimes the Ugandan government had committed either in Congo or Uganda. Justice is a two-way street. This is one are the ICC must work on in order to garner popular support.

A couple of interesting articles:

Waiting for Bashir: http://ugandagenocide.info/?p=1527

The ICC is a Western Tool But Can Be Improved: http://www.blackstarnews.com/news/122/ARTICLE/5828/2009-07-01.html

Posted 07:05 PM on 07/14/2009

Robyn Hillman-Harrigan – Huffpost Blogger I’m a Fan of Robyn Hillman-Harrigan I’m a fan of this user permalink

Hi, thank you for your comment. Yours is an important perspective, could you tell us more about how the ICC is experienced on the ground in Uganda? The film definitely delves into the criticisms the court has received from African member states and their citizens. What do you see as the way forward?

Reply Favorite Flag as abusive Posted 01:49 AM on 07/15/2009

Thanks for the questions.

For many, the experience of the ICC in Uganda has been tinged with a lot of contradictions and confusion. People can see the government using the ICC when it is convenient, to garner international support, but the law has not been applied to the government itself.

(Right now, Uganda is presiding over the UN Security Council, and ICC prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo is in Uganda to convince Ugandan officials to arrest Sudan”s Al-Bashir, who will be visiting later in the month� in 2010 the ICC review conference will be in Uganda ” these facts alone bring up many contradictions.)

There is a national Amnesty Act for former rebels — this adds to the confusion of whether ICC law or Amnesty will be applied. A war crimes court is another confusing option.

Direct communication with the ICC has been difficult. Victims have written the court to raise issues of systematic government abuse but have received little response from the court. Meanwhile, the Court is spending money to “sensitize” victim communities about their rights.

Posted 10:29 AM on 07/15/2009

FindingTruth I’m a fan of th

(Continued Thoughts)

Many people see the court as a walking contradiction. I have a relative who is a member of the Ugandan army – he said the investigators were only interested in interviewing child soldiers. He raised the question of how truthful the child soldiers might have been, due to army presence.

Most people are afraid to speak too loudly about the history of serious human rights violations by the government. (It was stunning to see the people in the film speaking out.)

From a survivor perspective, the crimes of the government are worse than those of the LRA, yet it is only the LRA”s crimes that are being addressed. This is where the ICC’s lack of effectiveness is most apparent.

Amnesty International Report: http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2005/09/19/uprooted-and-forgotten

Many politicians and civil society groups who have raised issues of justice around the LRA issue have been targeted for intimidation by the government ” the conversation in Uganda around the ICC/LRA/Justice is far from free.

The way forward in Uganda: interpret the ICC Statute as it is written and aid the Chief Prosecutor in neutrally applying the law to both sides. The Court also must recognize that governments do not have the ability to try themselves!

The other issue is execution of the warrants. Perhaps the warrants need not be made public? The court’s current system of relying on member countries for arrests hasn’t been successful.

The dialogue is still in progress. To read the actual interview with Pamela Yates click here.

Recovery

Posted in day off on July 7, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Well, in time I recovered. I still have a slightly wicked cough, which I can use to scare off leering men, but other than that my Bronchitis is on the decline. That’s right, it turns out that it was Bronchitis, not Swine Flu or The Flu or anything related.  2 weeks of abject illness then slight fogginess have brought me to now, so I have good reason for my lack of blog activity, but still, I’m sorry. For the 4th of July I took a break from the ghetto, which I affectionately refer to my neighborhood as, and went to Fire Island.  F I was clearly fabulous and I was overwhelmed with nostalgia for Australia. Ah, I miss that place. I miss living somewhere clean and beautiful. Near the ocean. Thus Fire Island was kinda like going home. Pictures to come x

Sick in Bed

Posted in day off with tags , , , , , on June 28, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Whoah, I have the flu. It is no fun at all. From throwing up to stomach pains, fever, dizziness, cough, head cold, I feel like I’m in 2 no Trump. For all the non-bridge players that means, I’ve got high cards in all the suits, a little of everything, enough to win with out naming a suit. Or in this case enough to loose, with every symptom rolled up together, it’s got to be the flu. I know this because I’ve had it before. I hate doctors and don’t have a reassuring level of health-care coverage so I’m going to have to stick with the self diagnosis for now. My dear friend trekked over into my sick room yesterday, bringing me much food and love and good company. When she joked that it may be swine flu, I nearly started to cry. Do you think it could be? That would be a reason to go to the doctor, if I’m not substantially better by tomorrow I will try to make myself go.

For now its ice-packs on the head and tylenol and thinking about all the great things I’m missing. No that’s sad, how about reading Eilleen Myles and watching Barbara Kopple docs and writing stories in bed. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past 4 days, man I haven’t been sick like this for a long time.

Tony Blair in Person

Posted in politics, talk with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

92Y Tony Blair 1

Yesterday was exciting, not only did I get to while away the late night dancing to some determinedly old school djs at the Nightlife Preservation Community party, but I also was among the security cleared crowd at Tony Blair’s talk at the 92 Street Y.

Having been a History student and residing in the British empire during much of the reign of Blair, and most memorably during his decision to go to war in Iraq based on imaginary Weapons of Mass Destruction, I was very interested to see what he had to say for himself.

Charming to a tee, it was clear how he had managed (at least in part) to ascend to the highest level of office. Within the span of little over an hour he quoted Rabbi Hillel and Winston Churchill, did impressions of Americans who have mistaken him for the actor in The Queen and of his cockney friend who always gives him good advice.

Where was that helpful mate in 2003 when it came time to issue the command for war? Although Blair channelled him and his other cast of colorful cultural references to please the crowd, he was undeniably uncomfortable when Mathew Bishop the interviewer leading Blair’s Q&A asked him point blank if he regretted the decision.

Blair gripped his chair with both hands and stuttered through a long explanation of how he admits that the intelligence was faulty, but they believed it at the time and any way the world is still “better off without Sadam and his two sons ruling the country.”

When asked whether he thinks that the war in Iraq has actually increased Islamic fundamentalist terrorism and ill feeling towards the west, he said absolutely not. “The responsibility for terrorism lies in the hands of the terrorists.” he said.

At the moment the former PM’s main activities are his work with the recently formed Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the Africa Governance Initiative, the Climate Group and his position as a negotiater of sorts for peace in Israel/Palestine.

On climate, he seemed to grasp that it is a very real and pressing issue, yet one of the main solutions that he proposed is Nuclear power- in my mind a terrible idea.

On Africa, he said that aid alone is not enough, governments have to be taught (by him) how to operate. He proudly asserted that he is working on bottom up state building in Sierra Leone and Rwanda.

On the Middle East. “For Israel the only Palestinian state they will be able to accept is a secure and well-governed state.” Blair said. He is working on state building there as well. Well clearly Britain and its former leader know best. Perhaps those good old imperialist days are not yet over after all.

He said many additional things about religion, democracy and justice, but I am more concerned with what he didn’t say. Bishop actually selected my audience question, “What was the most significant mistake you made as Prime Minister?”  Blair’s response, “That’s for me to know and you to find out.” A chilling thought.

Whatever Works-Northside-PIFF

Posted in day off, film, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Since last we spoke, I spent a busy few days in Brooklyn, taking in the Northside festival in Williamsburg and Greenpoint (saw a fun band called The Dodos, which confirmed that I am not too old to be pushed around by crowds of hipsters) , spent time with my friends (going to rainy Brooklyn Pride) and feeling guilty that I had no time left to make it to The Brooklyn International Film Festival. Ahhh, my alma-mater suffers, but to make up for it I have traveled all the way to the lost (and found) beautiful end of the known (gay) world. That’s right, Provincetown. The pilgrims landed here, the artists came and planted flags, soon those flags turned rainbow colored and now I’m here for a film festival.

The Provincetown International Film Festival opened last night with Woody Allen’s new film Whatever Works. It was typical Allen with a lot of wildly unrealistic Oedipal scenarios. The basic premise is attractive yes, but why must it always be couched in the notion that anyone, let alone a young, beautiful, perfect-bodied, long haired woman would want to sleep with Woody Allen or one of his stand ins,  in this case Larry David.

Allen is very funny, David is funny, Seinfeld his award-winning show was hysterical, but all three rest upon some very misogynistic assumptions, which in my experience just aren’t true. Usually when the young girl goes for the old guy, he is modelesque not a limping hostile geriatric. Whatever Hugh Heifner would  have us believe this is not a sane norm.

Okay, if you have not seen the film and would prefer not to read the Sony Pictures Synopsis I’ll tell you what happens: Larry David is an unhappy old guy, he has a hot rich wife, teaches string theory and considers himself to be a genius, but he doesn’t appreciate any of it and tries to commit suicide. He fails even at this, and then one day meets a runaway played by Evan Rachel Wood, who begs him to let her stay in his apt and eventually develops a huge crush on him.  She is a southern beauty pageant princess and is ignorant in many ways.  Wood and David serve as an odd couple until both of her parents in turn journey to NYC and try to get her to return to the south. Instead of her leaving they both stay and go through significant transformations.

Polyamory plays a role, along with the concept of New York as re-education camp and the lesson that David’s monologues issue directly to the audience is Whatever Works. This means, maybe your perfect sophisticated wife and great job wont make you happy, maybe a simpleton who worships you will, and maybe not. In his final speech David’s character, Boris Yellnikoff, says basically ‘If your not hurting anyone else do whatever makes you happy, take whatever bit of love you can find in this world.’

Hmmm, almost convincing, except when that translates to sleeping with minors and people who are, I don’t know, your adoptive children.

The Reckoning-Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Posted in film with tags , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Last night I saw the New York premier of The Reckoning. The crowd was quite astonishing. There were two prosecutors from the International Criminal Court, Christine Chung and Fatou Bensouda, both are also featured in the film. The top brass from Human Rights Watch were also present along with one of the prosecutors from the Nuremberg trials. When Pamela Yates, the director, introduced him he got a standing ovation.

The film was stark and penetrating. It discussed the worst war crimes and crimes against humanity of our time, but did so in a rational, rights based justice context. The main character in The Reckoning is the International Criminal Court itself. Founded in 2002, its mandate is to try the perpetrators of crimes that have been committed since the court’s inception. A stipulation exists that the court may only make cases against member states, unless the UN Security Council has referred them to mount an investigation.

In other words, the ICC is based on a treaty, when a country signs on to the treaty, it then formalizes its stand against impunity, and it makes its citizens eligible for possible investigation. However, the process requires the court to be a last resort only applied if a country proves unable or unwilling to try its own perpetrators. Over 100 countries have signed on to the treaty, but the United States, China, Russia, and Iraq have all refused to do so.

Since its founding the ICC has made cases against the leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, war lords in the Congo and the people with the most responsibility for the Darfur genocide, including Al-Bashir, the president of Sudan. They have also built a preliminary case in Columbia against paramilitary leaders and the corrupt members of government who support them.

Like any other court the way the ICC operates is by gathering evidence and using to to try criminals. By insisting upon rule of law in the international arena they are able to combat atrocities in areas of the world where there has been no justice and powerful leaders remain punished for their crimes.

This is an extremely important aim. The film shows the victims of abduction, child soldiers who were forced to be killers or sex slaves, women who were raped and babies that were beaten to the point of brain damage. Distressingly the restriction that the court faces is its lack of an enforcement arm. As the ICC has not been granted a military or police force it must rely on the national forces of each member state or wait for the UN Security Council to agree to send UN forces.

Right now an ICC arrest warrant for President Al-Bashir stands, but his forces will not turn him in, and as Sudan is a sovereign state no other country’s military can enter and arrest him, without it being seen as an act of war. The Security Council could go in and enforce the warrant, but they have yet to do so. As China and the US hold sway on the council its unlikely that this result will occur.

A beacon of hope in the world, the ICC stands as a glass giant in the Hague, but the question the film poses is will its halls be filled with prosecuted criminals, or will it be rendered ineffective as little more than a symbol.

Jennifer Muller/The Works Dance Joyce Gala

Posted in dance, Guide to What's Good, Party with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Jennifer Muller Photo 3 BENCH smallLast night I spent the evening with the board of directors of Jennifer Muller’s dance company. Was this coincidental or the result of mischief on the part of the PR person? We’ll never know, but irrespective of how i found myself keeping such company at the Joyce and then Tavern on the Green, I will say that I enjoyed them. Especially a certain Ernie Miller III, who in good spirits became my platonic date as both his wife and my friend had piked.

Among the most charming of my companions, Ernie aside, was Jennifer Muller herself, we shared a breather outside at the end of the night and bonded around our love for Joni Mitchel. One of the new pieces in series B of her Joyce shows, entitled Tangle is danced to Joni and takes its inspiration from the mixed-up love line, “I love you when I forget about me.”

This reminds me of sordid car trips with a distant ex and more recent beautiful drives to Woodstock. Jennifer was strikingly down to earth, very open and accessible. She has been choreographing since before I was born and she described to me the way that her piece Tub was originally considered to be completely radical. This was a shocking idea that a tub filled with real water could be placed on stage aiding dancers to perform wet! The power of it still remains today even if the novelty factor has expired.

Opening with Tub and moving into Bench and Walk it Out, program A, which was performed last night, was fresh, interrogative and engaging accross the spectrum of audience age and dance literacy. Unlike Molly Davies, this performance was fun, accesible and clearly symbolic. When Bench references environmental degradation, specifically the various present and approaching ravishes of global warming, there is no confusion about what is being said. Theory is most powerful when it is deftly expressed and this is certainly acheived  by Jennifer Muller.

Back in Brooktown

Posted in art, Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Ahh yes! After a too long absence I’m back in Brooktown, broke town-broke down, built up, rockstar, artstar, blogger…whatever you want to call it. My upstate days have come to a close, that means I’m back on the streets rolling from event to event.

I touched down on Friday, off the Amtrak train and onto the rainy streets of New York. Since then I’ve been busy, between the Celebrate Brooklyn opening gala, the Amadou and Miriam concert, Molly Davies dance at BAC, Asclepius at La Mama, restaurant soft openings at Palace Gate and BDGB, not to mention the events I didn’t successfully show up at, including Internet week’s Webutante Ball and the opening of the Brooklyn International Film Festival.

Among the most fun weekend outings was the sailing trip I went on with the Gotham Yacht club. There is nothing quite like turning the back to the city and sailing off up the Hudson. Even Jersey looks stunning from the right vantage point and sunning with charming international types, Gossip Girls in training and a few day traders, who are kind enough to share their boat wealth with the plebs isn’t a bad way to spend a Sunday.

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After that Asclepius at La MaMa was wonderfully funny without necessarily setting out to be. Ellen Stewart, the Genius Award winning director and founder of La MaMa was truly an inspiring sight as she addressed the crowd from her wheelchair to thank us all for attending. She said she hadn’t been outside for 3 months. If you’re looking for a hero, I nominate her. For 45 years she’s been keeping the theater scene real.

In contrast Saturday’s Molly Davies dance was considerably more abstract and inaccessible.  I loved the toe-monster sequence pictured below, but the opening ladder meets Victorian era gesture was a bit out of my reach. The last piece which involved a long story telling session by an Indonesian choreographer was equally far out there, but that’s just my novice opinion. The blog doesn’t hold back, alas, there is no tight ass editor on my back here, shame that.

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As for last night, the Celebrate Brooklyn Green Gala opening was quite lovely in fact. I found myself after an hour or so happily marooned at a table with the young singles! It was me, the daughter of Two Boots, the young workers from somewhere and the owner of Teany. I also met a nice woman from the South African consulate and the director of BRIC arts. The dinner was served eco-fabulously on bamboo plates and quinoa was among the selection. Kimora’s green guru would have been pleased.

Amadou and Miriam was definitely the height of my night though, that blind Malian couple are strictly brilliant. At one point a rapper, who’s identity is yet to be confirmed, joined them on stage and the music went off into this crazy trip hop, David Bowie, Bjork direction, I almost shit myself, it was that fucking good. Thanks to some good PR karma we were in the VIP section and dancing along side of us were the band members families, very cute kids, and fun music enthusiasts. It was a great place to be and it capped off an excellent night.

Word of the Day- ManCode

Posted in People of Color, tv, word of the day with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

As I am in TV land, I have just now been taking in the wonderment that is The Bachelorette. Out of the 20 guys that are after her hand in marriage, and a million dollars or so, only one of them is not white. His name is Juan. He looks pretty similar to the white guys, tall, buff model/actor type, but beyond the crime of not being white, what’s even worse is that he is the sensitive type, a poet/artist/architect, who talks about his feelings and, apparently, “Does not respect man code.” David one of his competitors, dropped this line of brilliance, after saying that if he had met him outside of the show, he would have “Tied him to a tree and beat him up.”

Yes he really did say that.

So what is this ManCode? According to David, Juan broke it by not taking his shot with the boys at the bar, he dared to pour it out and then allegedly pretended to have drunk it. Ouch, pretty evil! But David says that “Juan was breaking man code left and right.” What else did he do? What is this elusive ManCode? If you know what else it entails please share. This could be the key to understanding, not only realityTV, racism, and violence, but perhaps the entire hetero-normative capitalist society…

R

Ella at Howard Zinn

Posted in Book, ella, People of Color, politics, queer, reading with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

I will just preface this by saying that as someone with a degree in History, yes not your typical socialite trade, nonetheless true…Howard Zinn is my idol. Take that American Idol, last week, while I was paying my dues in the country, Ella went to hear him speak along with a few other visionaries at the 92 street Y. Here’s her report back. R

Entering the 92nd Street Y last Wednesday, I may have been guilty of bringing more than a healthy dose of cynicism. Don’t get me wrong – I cried as much as the next liberal during Obama’s acceptance speech. But, well… I struggle with a lot of the liberal left’s self-righteousness and lack of self-criticism. Especially when confronted with it in its Park Slope post-hippie incarnation. And let’s be honest – if I struggle to stay polite to Park Slope liberals, Upper East Side liberals should entice me to set off fire alarms by smoking Marlboro Reds,  and to loudly proclaim my affection for clubbing baby seals.

Also, taking the subway from Crown Heights to 86th street is such a bizarre exercise in people watching.  Not a situation geared to inspiring faith in the existence of a post-racial America. Even in oh-so-liberal New York.

The high schoolers carrying AP-study guides and the people handing out fliers for every cause and demonstration under the sun did nothing to raise my spirits. I haven’t been grumpier since my mother forced me to take part in a Swedish outdoor Hannukah celebration.

Imagine my surprise when A Young People’s History of the United States
turned out to be the most inspiring and intellectually challenging event I’ve been to in a long time.

Howard Zinn, I shouldn’t have doubted you. Surprisingly tall and gangly, Zinn’s introduction to the evening showed not only that he’s still sharp and funny but also that he can command an audience without bogarting the stage. Despite the fact that the evening tied in with the publication of A Young People’s History of the United States, the self-evidently titled young reader’s version of Zinn’s non-fiction bestseller, it didn’t feel like an excuse to hawk books.

Instead, the evening introduced me to several historical speeches I’m going to have to revisit, and several performers I’m keen to check out again. Tim Robbins has been a long-term favorite of mine, but Avery Brooks is definitely someone I’d love to see act again. And I want to hear Shontina Vernon sing again and Staceyann Chin perform poetry.

For me, one of the very genuine effects of the evening was a return to the feeling that dissent and questioning of the ruling order can be intellectually satisfying. And that this doesn’t have to be done mockingly. The Martin Luther King Jr speech, Where Do We Go from Here?, performed by Brian Jones, was a picture of sincerity, while at the same time addressing the troubling link between race and class which was true in the 60s and has not yet been overcome.

Emphasizing the role of young people in shaping the world, Evann Orleck-Jetter, the twelve year old girl whose testimony helped sway the Vermont state legislature to allow equal marriage rights, read the piece she’d delivered early this year, as well as a document against child labor from 1913. I was worried for a while that this would be gimmicky and embarrassing. Instead, her calm performance was a restrained tear-jerker –- impressive in anyone and incredibly dignified for someone that young –- which highlighted Zinn’s argument that the study of history should inspire people to participate in the struggles of their own age.

The evening inspired me to email one of the poems performed to an old teacher of mine, from back when I was a super idealistic teenager. She wrote back, thanking me, saying she’d needed it that day. I guess the evening brought back those feelings of I matter-ness that otherwise tend to get trapped beneath my everyday life. Maybe, sometimes, the enthusiastic young person in me needs to be given space to push the post-ironic jaded city dweller aside.

By Ella Fitzsimmons

The Socialiting Continues- Ella at Sonar

Posted in art, ella with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Sonar Sound at the Baryshnikov Arts Center showed that I’ve probably been in New York too long, because Europeans are starting to look inherently cool to me. I grew up there. I should know better. But where once I’d accurately identify their appearance as nothing but a synthesis of washed-out black clothing from H&M, a lack of vitamins showing on sallow complexions, decades of smoking and greasy-ish hair, I now saw urban sophistication. I even caught myself thinking it was cool to hear people switching between French and Spanish as they waited for over-priced beer.

This is troubling. Some might even call it a disgrace. Obviously, I need to return to the semi-socialist old world soon, in order for me to regain proper disdain for other Euros.

That being said, Sonar was pretty… well…cool. The 16th edition of Barcelona’s International festival of advanced music (which kind of sounds like an exam, but isn’t) and multimedia art was in New York for the Catalan days. I’m usually predisposed to automatically mocking any art happening held in a gritty space (courtesy of a long running joke targeting the London art scene’s predilection for showing sub-standard up-and-coming work in a “charming little dumpster in Hoxton”), but the slightly post-industrial feel of the Baryshnikov Arts center served Sonar well.

(Though, as my friendly co-reviewer pointed out, “There were a lot of stairs”. While it made sense, sound isolation-wise, to separate the shows by a couple of floors, this clearly confused a lot of people, including me. When I envision suffering for art, I mean my art. Or at least watching someone super-creative self-destructing in artistically portrayed ways. Being sweaty and lost and running in stairwells…not convinced.)

The first floor of activities started out on a firm footing, with Spanish musicians Fibla and Arbol’s live, ambient electronica accompaniment of pleasantly weird Taiwanese film Goodbye Dragon Inn. With dialogue kept to a minimum, Goodbye Dragon Inn is a near ideal film to reset a soundtrack to – Fibla and Arbol’s accompaniment chimes well with the recurring motif of a limping office girl making her way around Taipei , adding a balletic dimension to the character’s disability and social isolation.

Unfortunately, the next show that was on in Theatre C, Balago, managed to undo some of my newfound respect for multimedia performances. Projecting a giant screen-saver-like image and playing new agey-whale birthing music – admittedly without the sound of actual birthing whales. Or of the rainforest at dawn. But it’s terrible when your subconscious is triggered to add these sounds and you’re not even being given a massage or some over-priced “healing.” – Does not qualify as art. Ever.

The second floor was dedicated to dancing. I wasn’t entirely convinced by Prefuse 73’s set – though I could have been unfairly biased against him by unfortunate displays of unrepentant hipsterness in the audience. I spotted some fool wearing a t-shirt saying, “I’d rather have one truth than 15 minutes of fame” and realizing that this was definitely a case of freedom of expression working against me, I had to leave before telling the little weasel how his cheaply tinkered together philosophical tenets pained me.

The top floor, showing two interactive installations, quickly became filled up. Luckily, we managed to check out Marcelli Antunez’s piece Metamembrana before the floor was closed. Clearly influenced by Guernica-era Picasso and Surrealism’s affection for combining unlikely images, Metamembrana was a fun piece, which benefited from the second run through, where the audience was coached by Antunez on how to make the screen respond. Antunez’s explanations of the background to the project were helpful in appreciating how the work was rooted in Catalan culture (citing folktales, local produce, fertility myths and history as inspiration. My co-reviewer and I looked at each other, shook our heads and said, “Nah, he just likes boobs and naked art students.” Fair play either way). Plus, his geeky enthusiasm for his gadgets was quite endearing, and did manage to get people involved in the installation. For me, though, the most successful interactive art pieces don’t require instruction – they work because something about them( be it use of material, choice of images, use of sound or smell) compel the audience to breach the boundaries of more traditional gallery spaces, where you participate in art work by looking, rather than touching.

We rounded off the evening with some comedy dancing to d.a.r.y.l’s set. While his use of punctuation might be self-conscious, his music was anything but – a really lively electronic set, incorporating a lot of funk and disco. My companion for the evening, who is unpleasantly tall and good-looking but who dances like Elaine in Seinfeld, wishes for it to be known that she got the party started with some of her signature moves. Good times.

Photo Post- Best of the Country

Posted in day off with tags , , , , , , on May 18, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Ok, so I was a bit freaked out in my last post, but now I’m really starting to enjoy the Simple Life. Here are some of my favorite experiences so far, in pictures…

My first creek trip

My first creek trip

the creek

the creek

The unattended apple store where they trust you to leave your money in a tin

The unattended apple store where they trust you to leave your money in a tin

My new Apples

My new Apples

The natural pool at the top of Katerskill Falls, had to take a dip in that one

The natural pool at the top of Katerskill Falls, had to take a dip in that one

The falls from below

The falls from below

The country can be pretty wicked, I must admit.

R

Country Living

Posted in day off with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Hunh, I just wrote this whole post and then when I published it it was blank. What’s up with that? WordPress gods swoop down into the country and save me. That’s a command. Not being heeded it seems.

Nevermind, I will just have to start over. My last post was about how strange it is to be in the country. It’s like the polar opposite of my actual everyday life. Rather than dance parties, there is a local brasserie with live harp music tonight. Instead of constant speed, chatter, noise, vibrancy, there is just silence, interrupted by the occasional lawnmower or bird song.

This location is bringing out the chef in me though, soon this is going to morph into a recipe blog, but not yet. I’m holding out, remembering the days of social activity and not letting that woman at the garage sale call me a mom, and get away with it. She really did, it must be the mini-van that I’m driving. Not mine of course, part of the house sitting bundle, I even feel weird using it though, it’s funny, I feel like Where would I go? and Isn’t it a waste of energy to drive? Definitely not a middle of American, surely guilty as charged, I’m a City Folk.

I tried buying baubles at a antique shop and watching hummingbirds and little caterpillars. Actually, these acts were all fun, but I had a visceral feeling of being out of place. Am I allowed to sit around and do nothing but enjoy being alive? That is so faux pas in NYC, let’s face it. Running around, being creative, or trying to make money, or be smart or whatever, that’s kinda the flow in the shitty isn’t it. It’s ok to say yes.

I say this not disparagingly. I miss the place like really a lot. Seriously though, I am even beginning to long for the invasions of space and the irritating little noises and disturbances. They come with vitality, expression — Life. I miss Brooklyn.

As Robyn Has Retired to the Coutryside +Binibon Review

Posted in ella with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

I’m Upstate, stay tuned for posts about the caterpillars and hummingbirds I’ve been meeting, in the meantime, here’s Ella!

As Robyn has callously abandoned her friends for a few weeks and retired to the countryside, Brooklyn Socialiting has been left to me for a bit. Braving the Hudson River, or rather, the evil machinations of the subway system, I left my lovely King’s county nest on Friday for an evening of Big City cultural activities. Not just hanging out in bars.

Admittedly, as I was early for the Bermuda art opening in China town, a little bit of Ella-in-Bar was necessary, so I sat myself down in Les Enfants Terrible. Lychee martini is the glass, Pink Martini playing on the stereo and meretricious French barmen multi-taskingly flirting with everyone around the bar. A good way to warm up for a friend’s art opening, which is generally not something that should be attended without some sort of support, alcoholic or otherwise.  Because there’s always that underlying terror that your friends are going to be profoundly untalented, and you still have to be nice BUT SPECIFIC about their creative output.

Having reached the age where a disturbing number of my friends are spawning, I’ve found that a parallel case exists with people’s babies. Otherwise funny and open-minded people have a complete sense of humor failure when it comes to their own children, which is why I have had to hold back about how many children I could name that look like Dick Cheney. Even though it’s intrinsically funny. Similarly, otherwise intelligent and interesting people often like and make bad art.

Luckily, this wasn’t the case with the Bermuda exhibit. Put together by students and fellows from the School of Visual Arts, the theme was secondary to showcasing works in progress. While a lot of the work was interesting, the looseness of the theme meant that the exhibition as a whole didn’t necessarily work, despite several really interesting pieces.

Running late, I had to jump into a cab to get to experimental art space, The Kitchen, for the eight o’clock showing of “Binibon”, a new piece of musical theater, based around the early 80’s stabbing  of aspiring actor and waiter Richard Adan by John Henry Adam,  a former convict whose writing talents had made him the toast of New York’s literati.  Back in the bull economy, cabs used to be a part of my daily life, pretty much always charged to my work account. No longer. I’m hoping that relative poverty and strife will successfully translate into me eventually writing something that’s not nauseatingly terrible, and it seems as if the team behind Binibon come at creativity from a similar angle.

At the same time, let’s face it – New York? Not what it used to be. I’ve heard people discuss the matter over organic, cruelty-free yuppie food: “Is New York’s current stability  and safety a fair trade for the loss of vibrancy?” Where once the city was genuinely throat cuttingly cutting edge, or was at least violent enough for the frenzy to rub off on the art scene, now it’s a place where people feel OK about raising their kids. Dear lord, even Madonna, a woman my MOTHER listens to, recently criticized the city for losing its edge.

After which, she moved back to raise her children.

Binibon, the experimental musical play put on at contemporary art centre The Kitchen in the west village is part of this debate.  Part of, but also symptomatic of. Because while the writer, Jack Womack, brings attention to the Disney-fication of the city that has taken place in the last few decades, the piece can’t escape the fact that it’s a play about a New York that mainly exists in the memories of the things were much realer in the past-brigade. Which brings questions about where the responsibility for the city’s loss of edge lies: I may be wrong, but it struck me as hard to believe that writers and musicians in the early eighties would have put together a piece about a murder in the mid-50s.

Elliott Sharp’s live music works most of the time (though there’s an unfortunate electric guitar solo which reminds me of a Dave Chapelle sketch where he wonders about white people’s love of the instrument), and gives an urgency to the storytelling which is occasionally lacking in the writing. One of the problems, for me, is that the role of several of New York’s literary heroes in the release of John Henry Adams from prison was touched on, but not really examined – despite the fact that their moral responsibility for the death of Adan is at the core of the play’s preoccupation with the city, creativity, authenticity and violence.

The Girlfriend Experience, Fixer, Print vs Blog

Posted in film, Food, Party, People of Color, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

It’s been another busy week friends. Since last I wrote I saw The Girlfriend Experience and  Fixer:The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi at the Tribeca Film Festival, went to a Print vs Blog talk at the Tribeca Y, had a poetry reading and danced the blues off at two Brooklyn house parties. Plus, I had another successful meal at Buttermilk Channel, this time brunch. Their biscuits are pretty good, but not as good as mine! I also had a chance to live it up a little bit on Saturday while actually reading peacefully in the sun in Choice Greene’s backyard patio. On the way there I passed an awesome kids clown show on Grand, in front of the Still Hip clothing store. Apparently they are having them every Saturday, if you love costumes and clowns, and environmentally themed, musical children’s performances as much as I do, then definitely check it out!

First a note about Brooklyn house parties and then onto my film reviews. Note: They rule! Ha, ha, no really they do. OMG Michelle played at the one on Friday night, which was at this house called Mansion (not to be confused with the snooty Manhattan club, Mansion.) DJ Designer Impostor played and on Sat, DJ Shomi Noise was awesome. Aside from being my friend, she is also a generally great DJ!

Ok film. So, the two films were extremely different than each other, the first Steven Soderberg’s new opus on high class prostitutes, who give their customers the illusion that they are somehow in a loving relationship with each other, was less than spectacular. Although the directer himself, with huge successes like Erin Brochevich, Sex Lies and Videotape, and Traffic under his belt, was wildly confident during the Q & A after, several elements of the film caused me to take pause.

He typecast, if you will, non-actors to play the roles of the prostitute and her personal trainer boyfriend. He didn’t give them a script and instead set them up with a situation and encouraged them to ad lib. Although this technique was quite successful in Ballast it fell very short in The Girlfriend Experience. Soderberg claimed, during his talk back, that if people didn’t know that was his method, we never would have noticed. I beg to differ.

The holes in the dialogue were obvious. The language was incidental and often seemed forced. Many of the relationships were unconvincing and the main character, played by porn actress, Sasha Grey, was stiff and boring to watch. If you made a film about me walking around NY having somewhat random conversations with strangers, I’m sure I would also be stiff and boring to watch. Why? Because I’m not an actor and films which follow non-actors are usually called documentaries. Why not just call the whole thing off, and make a documentary about a real prostitute who offers the girlfriend experience? Just asking.

Speaking of documentaries, let’s talk a bit about the really good film that I saw at Tribeca. But first, a note about opinions. Yes everyone has one, and some people start blogs and share them, people like me. But Tony Ortega, editor, and Michael Cohen,  publisher, of the Village Voice have a bit of a bone to pick with people like us. However, the founder of Gothamist and a writer from Mashable, who sat on a panel with them on Thursday, they kinda think us bloggers are great. If you’re interested in finding out more about this secret society who is bringing down the media oligarchy, come to the Brooklyn Blogfest on Thursday, that’s where most of our upcoming schemes for world domination will be hatched.

No, to be fair, Ortega claimed to support bloggers, to want to maintain the integrity of the Voice, and most shockingly, he insisted that the Voice is still making good money.  Strange, those claims seem to run counter to the Voice‘s recent massive layoffs and to their stubborn attempt to remain the source of NYC event advice. Unless they become a little more cutting edge with their suggestions, I don’t see people continuing to look to them to find out what’s happening.

But that’s just my opinion, and it’s here in my blog, not pretending to be impartial in some newspaper. Anyway enough angst right? Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi without necessarily seeking to do so, makes a very different and much more compelling argument in favor of the old media establishment. There is absolutely a place for researched, well-sourced journalism, especially in terms of foreign correspondence.

Fixer is a documentary that follows Christian Parenti, a Nation journalist, on a fact gathering trip through Afghanistan. As he travels around the country, meeting with Taliban leaders, villagers and any other potential sources of information, Ian Olds, the filmmaker is in the back seat of the car, a fly on the wall, observing Parenti’s transactions.  In order to navigate this active war zone, Parenti requires help from what is known in the journo trade as a fixer.

A fixer is a local person who makes contact with potential sources, estimates the level of risk in traveling to various areas and then facilitates the actual journey by driving the foreign journalist to the rendezvous points and serving as translator while there. More than a middle man, Parenti’s fixer, Ajmal Naqshbandi was a journalist in his own right and as portrayed in the film, was a very savvy and intelligent individual. He died not long after the journey that Parenti and Olds took with him.

On another fixer job, working for an Italian journalist, Naqshbandi and the Italian were both kidnapped by a notorious Taliban leader. This man is known to have kidnapped and brutally executed several people. We are told at the start of the film that Naqshbandi died in this cruel way, but that his Italian employer was released relatively unharmed. The rest of the film navigates how the fixer got to that point and questions why he was not saved.

I was glad to see that Fixer won best documentary at Tribeca. It is truly an interrogative film. It forces us to question A. what is really going on in Afghanistan, B. how much that self-government and democracy actually protects Afghan citizens and C. How we would  even begin to answer these questions without the field researched findings of foreign corespondents funded by media institutions.

1 point scored for blogs and 1 for old media. Looks like a tie Tony.

The Way We Get By Review, Mashable, Central Park

Posted in film, Party with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Wow guys! I just discovered that there is wireless in central park. I have been sitting here for the better part of the afternoon, offline, when all along I could have been blogging…well wonders never cease! Any way,  here is the run down from last night:

I was a very dedicated Brooklyn Socialite, after editing all day I tore off into the glorious heat and made my way over to the 92 Street Y Tribeca, Mashable was doing one of their networking/educating/mashing events. It reminded me of Mediameshing, except I didn’t run into the gawkerteam, maybe they were all tweeting away at Tribeca. Anyway I did dutifully mingle, with a lot of friendly PR people(!) and then the event finally started about 20 minutes before I had to leave for Stranger than Fiction. I did catch a few presentations done by start-ups, including Sluth.com, which is a wine aggregator (if you know what that is) and Savvy Auntie, which actually seemed pretty interesting, a social networking site for aunts, which are apparently about 40% of women.

I was sorry that I had to miss their advice about how to become wildly succesful, because I’m sure that would have come in handy, but it was time to catch the screening of The Way We Get By. I have plans to interview the directors, so hold off for that, but in the meantime, my initial review:

The Way We Get By is a film that cleverly navigates the subject of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, without clearly choosing sides. It avoids the left right dichotomy and instead focuses on the human experience of loss, bravery and kinship. It is about the Troop Greeters of Maine, who gather day and night at Bangor Airport to welcome and see off all of the soldiers who fight in Iraq. Although it is such a remote airport, 90% of the flights in and out of the war zone, pass through there. The greeters have already seen almost 1 million members of the military return through Bangor.

The majority of the greeters are senior citizens and the film follows 3 of the most committed and older members of the group, including the mother of one of the directors. What is so interesting about the subjects is how they seem to live just for the opportunity to brighten someone else’s day. This reveals the isolated state that many older folks live in, believing that their utility has passed. People who have worked their whole lives, raised families and some who have personally served in the military reach their 60s and 70s and begin to feel that society no longer values them. If they are not providers, what is their purpose? Although, they may be of great value to their families and respected by their communities; living alone, and sitting idle, the subjects in The Way We Get By seem to be at a loss when they are not giving their time and support to the troops.

The dignity and integrity of these people will stir even the coldest heart. I cried repeatedly! see it

CIFF Dance Party at Santos Tonight-Come!

Posted in film, Party with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Hello Friends, just a quick heads up. The Camden International Film Festival, has an exciting film, The Way We Get By screening tonight at Stranger than Fiction, it is sold out, but the after party at Santos is definitely not. And, its Free! So come and meet the documentary film intelligentsia…

santos-flyer8

For more about the film and the screening My Flavorpill preview:

“Stranger Than Fiction, Thom Powers’ quality weekly documentary series, teams up tonight with the Camden International Film Festival and POV to present the New York premier of The Way We Get By. The film centers around a dedicated trio of senior citizens who keep permanent vigil at a rural Maine airport, determined to welcome home every soldier returning from Iraq. They hug the men and women in uniform, offering them cell phones to make their first calls with, shoulders to cry on, and, most strikingly, a moment to exhale before they re-enter civilian life.”

See you tonight!

Andy L’s Proletariat Yelp page just saved my life.

Posted in art, Food, Guide to What's Good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Just when I thought that I would drown in the post-bullshit of NYC, after a weekend of overpriced and over SALTED dinner at Blue Hill restaurant (which by the way claims to be awesome, and local and multiple-star, but actually is just a salt paddy with really snobby people inside of it), artstar self-importance, tonight at a DEITCH opening, which required a trek to LIC and seemed to be more about the scene than the medium, errant roommates that don’t pay their bills and even fake-farmers-market-hippies who sell milk at the farmers market and are obviously fake hippies, because they’re not even nice! After all of this, I discovered Andy L, on a trackback mission from here, my blog spot, to Bed-Stuy Banana, then finally to Andy L. Every so often, I make a virtual friend, who doesn’t know me yet, and Andy is one such friend.

Not only is he subverting the culture sufficiently by using yelp as his blog, like that poet who Amazon reviews like it’s her job, but he, like me, has a crush on that Hasidic Bartender who works at Sputnik. Yes Andy, I agree:

“Dear Hasidic Waiter at Sputnik,

You’re a darling of a man. You’ve changed the way I think about Sputnik. I used to hate Sputnik…..I’m not sure where to go from here. I don’t want to come on too strong and seem like a creep, although I pretty much am a creep. For now, I guess I’ll do what I always do with a crush; stare at them awkwardly, possibly mumble something incoherent, and run away. Maybe it’s for the best.

As for Sputnik Bar itself, I don’t really like it there. Like I mentioned earlier, I hate Pratt and the Taaffe Lofts.” read more

But don’t stop there that is just the tip of the iceberg, he reviews every single place in the neighborhood from Tip Top Bar, which he loves to Home Depot, which he hates, not forgeting to discuss schools, fried chicken joints, dry cleaners and all manner of place in between. That’s art Dietch.

Tribeca Film Festival-Indiewire Party at the Apple Store

Posted in film, Party, People of Color with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Last nights Indiewire Filmmakers party was a bit of a whirlwind. I had to explain my moniker to a few people when they asked, “So are you a socialite?” “No,” I clarified, “I’m the Brooklyn Socialite.” Big difference, indeed!

I ran into filmmaker Joe Brewster who I know from many Stranger than Fiction’s ago, and from seeing his film, Slaying Goliath at the African Diaspora Film Festival. He was excited to see me and took me on a fast-paced, arm pulling tour of the entire party. Determined to introduce me to all the filmmakers of color who are involved in the Tribeca all Access program and everyone else he knew along the way, including his wife, Michelle Stephenson.

Some of the highlights of these rapid fire meetings, included a guy named James? who is opening a 3-plex art cinema in Williamsburg in December (more info on this when I figure out his last name and actually get a contact for him!), Molly Charnoff of the Lava Dance company, who’s performance, We Become I saw at the Lyceum back in December, Lisa Lucas, who I haven’t seen since we went to High School together and who turns out to now work for the Tribeca Institute, small world! She looked great. I also met numerous filmmakers who seem to have great projects in the works like The Kivalina Project , Wam!Bam!Islam! and Binawee by Australian Aboriginal filmmaker, Sam Saunders.

Plus I ran into filmmaker, Ian Olds, who I had met at Full Frame and who’s feature documentary, Fixer:The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi,  I am excited to see next week. The film is about a  Afghan fixer hired by a Italian journalist to help navigate Afghanistan, who is then kidnapped by the Taliban and ultimately executed. More on this after I see it.

All in all the party was fun for meeting and self-watering, there was a lively dj but not much dancing, they did have great sugar covered chicken triangle things going around in trays and in true Freegan style I ate as many as possible!

Buttermilk Channel-Super Pass

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Woah, so I survived my Birthday Fail and my general FOB, Fear of Birthday, much in part to a dear friend’s handiwork in 1. Taking me on a brilliant day trip to Beacon, New York, where we checked out the Dia, and hung around on its beautiful grounds, which almost made me feel like I was back in Europe, met the Queen of Glass Blowing and ate local food at Homespun (delicious). and 2. By encouraging me to persevere after the Frankies Fail and actually attempt to make a reservation elsewhere.

That elsewhere turned out to be Buttermilk Channel and it was the perfect choice. They were accommodating to a T. They gave us a long table, lined with a church pew, happily agreed to store our ice cream cake in their fridge, let us sit before the whole party arrived and Thanked us for coming, in a very genuine manner. I was impressed, not only by the service, but also by the fare. My Spanish friend could not get over the maple syrup sauce that came with my Buttermilk Chicken on Waffles, neither could I, nor Slate Honey, who sat on the other side of me, we all ate some, and shared the whipped potatoes Substitution that they gracefully allowed me to make. The local cheese plate, with honey and fried grapes was also amazing, as well as the New York state Chardonnay and Cabernet blend. I had to be a committed locavore and try both!

Thank you friends and thank you Buttermilk Channel for an awesome, laid-back, local Birthday.

Frankies Fail

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

To me, a birthday is like the Sabbath, no matter how much you may hate the observance, you respect it, recognize there is something sacred about it, and put aside some time for Peace! Though I’ve never been orthodox and now certainly don’t consider myself to be religious, I respect that silence. I’m down with the not working, driving, stressing etc on the holy days, and whether you feel blue about aging or not,  whatever you do respect the process!

Don’t be like Frankies Spuntino 457 and pay me lip service! That means don’t say, “I’d really like to accommodate you but there’s nothing I can do. Our system makes everyone happy, really everyone  loves how we do things here. When you’re a community restaurant, you can’t piss off the community, so this is our policy.” — all quotes. I wanted to scream, But I am your community and you’re pissing me off followed by, Everyone is not happy. I, for one, am not happy.

This logic was lost on them though and they insisted that they do not take reservations (yes even if it is the day of your birthday and you have already invited your friends, who have already confirmed their attendance) unless there is a party of exactly 8-10 people, in which case everyone has to have a prix fixe meal, not of their choosing, for the price of either $35 or $45 dollars.”But,” I explained, “my friends don’t have that much money, I can’t just spring it on them, the day of the party that they are going to have to spend $35 (not including drinks) for the privilege of dining with me on my birthday. This is not fair, I can’t do this to them.” “Yes.” the general manager echoed, “I understand and I’d like to accommodate you so I can offer you a reservation for 10 people max at 9:30 for $35 minimum.” He clearly wasn’t listening and I was starting to seethe up inside. But its my birthday! I mused, wondering where his sense of justice was. “Would you like to make that reservation now, or call back later?” He peculiarly insisted. Was I talking to a looping answering machine? Should I, as he implied, feel guilty for expecting them to break with routine and their policy of 5 years?

Sure, I don’t know how to run a restaurant. But I do know how to respect the sanctity of someone’s birthday. The rules:

1. Don’t fire them

2. Don’t break up with them

3. Don’t get into a fight with them and

4. Try to make sure their birthday celebration goes well. ie. don’t be snooty, talk down at them, or refuse to let them appreciate your goshdarn restaurant by refusing them reservations at your normal menu rates!

Frankies Fail- Well it looks like you may have lost about 8-10 loyal customers.

Busy–Al Franken: God Spoke

Posted in art, film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

The past couple of weeks have been really busy. As soon as I got back from Full Frame I was back into the thick of New York. I went to hear the COO of facebook, Sheryl Sanberg talk about selective sharing and the way that social networking is monetized. Then the Gen Art closing with Ella, Chin Chih Yang’s opening at the Chelsea museum and then it was already time for Passover and Bedstuy wildflower planting. Chin Chih’s show was great. Awesome to see my writing in action as the wall text and in the catalog. Then Passover offered the traditional family version and our liberation in times of war version. I enjoyed revamping the Haggadah and leading my first Seder.

This week, the festivities continued as we brought our second installment of Sal P’s punkfunk supper club to Brooklyn. Our curated version in the Chocolate Factory apartments, featured Sal’s incredible dosas and mango chutney + beet and eggplant salads and pure vegan soup. + Wine + in depth late night conversations covering all manner of topic from radical pedagogy to Queens bath castles.

Last night also ended in fascinating chats as Ella and I found ourselves perched on stools next to filmmakers, authors and legends! D.A. Pennebaker (the legend in question) was in the house. He produced Al Franken: God Spoke, which his wife, Chris Hegedus, co-directed with Nick Doob. The screening was, of course, another STF great and the film focused on Al Franken’s journey from actor to Senatorial hopeful. It ends before he is elected as the Minnesota Senator, but details his comedy speaking tours, turned political rallies for his friend, then Senator, Paul Wellstone. Franken ultimately decides to pick up the campaign mantle after Wellstone’s mysterious death in a plane crash.

Franken, who you may remember from his Saturday Night Live alteregos, Jack Handy, Stuart Smalley and Pat, comes off as a pretty nice guy. What you may not know about him is that he is a Harvard grad, a published writer and rumored to by quite prickly in person…so I hear. After the film I met another non-fiction writer, Russ Baker, who’s book Family of Secrets, sheds a lot of doubt on the already highly adored Bush family. After talking to him for quite sometime, Ella and I taxi-ed it back to Brooklyn considerably more paranoid then we were when we started the evening.

On a brighter note, I spent a great day upstate at the Dia-Beacon today. If you haven’t gone there, just go. $27 on metro-north gets you a return ticket, entrance to the museum and a chance to walk around the lovely town of Beacon, where you will meet friendly glass-blowers, eat local ice cream, and if you’re anything like me, get shockingly hit on by a 12 year-old boy, who thinks your 16!

Brooklyn Socialite on Huffington Post-Bedstuy Meadow

Posted in film, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

I hope you all have had the chance to check out my Huffpo post on the Bedstuy Meadow project. Here’s a little excerpt below and a link to rest of the post. Tonight I’m going to check out a doco on Al Franken at Stranger than Fiction. Report back to come, and I hope to see you all there!
R

Last week I interviewed a Brit, Andy Lang, about his new film based in Cuba. I was thinking Global then, but this week’s interview is all about acting local. Saturday morning I woke up early and suited up in full-body rain-gear, then trudged through the downpour to my rendezvous point in Zone 4, which happened to be about 3 blocks from my apartment. I was feeling quite stealth and shrouded in mystery as I arrived at lab 24/7, a basement apartment, which doubles as an event space. There I met, for the first time, about 30 of my neighbors and was given a seed bag, a map and a small team to work with. Me and my new planting crew then spread out over Bedstuy to begin scattering wildflower seeds. There were 5 meet-up zones and 100 volunteers in total. We all found each other and signed on to the project after a new website sprung up, promoting the Bedstuy Meadow Project, created by one woman who envisioned it all, Deborah Fisher.

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Ella Dreams of Finding Bliss-Gen Art Closing

Posted in ella, film, Party with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

By Ella Fitsimmons

The final evening of the Gen Art Film festival confirmed something I’d always suspected, but never been certain of: despite my unashamed affection for celebrity gossip, I fail to spot these rare creatures when they are straight in front of me. During the awards ceremony, I realized that the short, bald dude with black-rimmed glasses I’d been chatting to before the screening of breast-fetischizing short Boob was none other than electro-pop phenom Moby, who was presenting the award for best film music. Had I known, I would have asked all sorts of clever questions about his views on the use of music in film. Instead, I hit him up for some free beer (they’d run out at the reception – a tragedy worthy of Aeschylus), and then suggested that if his need to take a wee become desperate during the pseudo-porn feature Finding Bliss, he could relieve himself in the seat empty seat in front of us. He said he’d have to hide from photographers. Not getting the “I’m famous, young lady” hint, I replied that it’d be dark, as we were in a cinema.

Sigh. Sometimes, I’m clearly less perceptive than I give myself credit for.

Luckily, the films put on a stronger showing than I did, so the evening wasn’t a complete write off. Pretty much laughing off questions about the classic film references contained in Boob, director team “Honest” showed a charmingly geeky appreciation for trashy splatter films. Call me juvenile, but I hardly even had to see the film to giggle – just the premise of a murderous breast implant running amok, killing people and pseudo-lesbianly (is a silicone-breast male or female? If there are any gender studies types out there, please feel free to let me know) slithering up to a hot young nurse before ending up being chopped to bits, is my idea of funny. Even though bits of it made me gag. And no, Moby left to respond to the call of nature, so he wasn’t to blame.

The feature, Finding Bliss, also pretty much had my vote from the get go. A romantic comedy set in the porn industries (which the characters insist should be called “adult entertainment”), where a young uptight film school graduate, played by LeeLee Sobieski discovers her sexuality and falls for a porn director (Matt Davis, who it turns out looked familiar because he played the self-obsessed rich boy in Legally Blonde. Yes, I recognized him. And not Moby. I will never be cool), writer-director Julie Davis based the film on her early experiences as an editor at the Playboy Channel. Eaves-dropping shamelessly on people heading to the after party, I heard a Frenchman saying “yes, it vas good, but zey vill nevah show zis film in America – zere iz too much zex”. I hope he’s wrong. FOR ONCE, there’s an Anglophone film about sex being fun, and which mocks the cultural trope that “true love waits”, while allowing for well-formed female characters. I salute Julie Davis for the ironic casting of Sobieski, who became famous when her parents, in my mother’s phraseology, “took leave of their senses” and allowed her to be fondled by an old man in Kubrick’s Lolita, as a frigid, judgmental good girl. Matt Davis, as the love interest, is attractive in the “you know he’s probably not good news, but you’d probably go there anyway”- way, and wins the evening’s “non-asshole award” for failing to cut the line at the after party, despite his friend egging him on to do so. Jamie Kennedy does a good job of seeming like a well-meaning moron porn star and Denise Richards is her ridiculous self – but with better lines than she spouts in her reality TV show.

The after-party and award’s show at BLVD was a landslide victory for My Suicide and star Gabriel Sunday. We are choosing to be charitable and are therefore attributing his behavior to elation in the face of victory, rather than the less legal nasal powder inhalations first suspected. At least he was having fun.

Walking home from the subway, I was happily pondering how Finding Bliss made me hope for a new dawn of sexual equality in the Anglo-Saxon world. A world in which men and women can enjoy sex in a non-guilt-ridden way. A world where Julie Davis’ could movie could go public, if only her film could find a distributor who wasn’t put off by there being “too much sex” in her film. At which point a large man on the street grabbed his crotch and yelled “Suck my D*ck, B*tch” after me. Welcome to the real world, Ella!

Some Southerners are Awesome- my Top 5 Meets

Posted in film, Guide to What's Good, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Woah guys, let’s not take me too literally, I actually had a great time in the South and met a lot of really cool people. These are my top 5 in order of most to least Southern.

1.Laura Edwards, the founder of Lillian’s List and her partner Elaine Andrews. They are both from NC and were super hospitable, they invited me to sit at there presenters table while I was nervously reliving a cafeteria scene in some 90s coming of age film. They called over to me, ” There’s a free seat here!” Finally, I was the popular kid.

Ok, beyond my tendency to see life as theater, what is so awesome about these ladies is 1. Their personalities and 2. What they do. Lillian’s list, inspired by Emily’s list was founded in 1998 with the mission of getting Democratic pro-Choice women elected to the North Carolina legislature. So far they have succeeded at getting 18 such women elected.

2. One of these NC legislators, Laura’s sister, is number 2 on my list. Pricey Harrison of the NC House of Representatives, told me about the excessively offensive emails she gets from people. Apparently some idiots out there in Internet land think that it’s acceptable to issue death threats against those who support gay and women’s rights, food safety and the environment. Well I say keep up the good work Pricey, and those lurkers out there reading this, please speak up to support her work!

3. Alright, confession: the remaining 3 people on my list are not actually from the South, but I did meet them there, so it counts. Number 3 is slightly further South, in my old school digs, yes that’s right, New Jersey. Hailing from Jersey City, Justin Strawhand came to Full Frame to promote his film War Against the Weak. I haven’t seen it yet, so I won’t say much, but I can report that I had a very engaging conversation with him about the film’s topic: Eugenics. What I learned is that the US had a active program up until World War II, the legacy of which remains with us today in the form of the SAT’s, people who experience forced sterilizations, and in several other surprising manifestations. More to come on this subject.

4. The next person on the list is from Manhattan, but I’m still counting that as South of Brooklyn. Cameron Yates  writes for Indiewire and is working on a new documentary called The Canal Street Madam, watch the trailer here. It is about a New Orleans madam, who ran a brothel with her mother as bookkeeper, and her daughter as one of the call girls. He was given the Garret Scott Award by Full Frame, in honor of a young documentary filmmaker who died a few years ago. The grant helps, emerging filmmakers, who are in the process of making their first feature film, to gain fiscal support and mentorship. This year the award was co-presented by our friend Thom Powers from Stranger than Fiction.

5. Number 5, who does a poor job of being from the South (unless you count South Brooklyn) is Rachael Rakes, from the Feminist Press. She is the former partner of Garrett Scott and also a co-presenter of that award, and she told me that she is actively seeking trans writers and transrights advocates for publication in the Feminist press. This def. gets her on the awesome south list, not to even mention the fact that she is also a writer at Brooklyn Based and has starting a doc film series in Brooklyn at the Bell House! What what, is all I can say.

Did you meet someone interesting this week? Who?! Comment comment, wherever you are.

Brooklyn locavore at Full Frame

Posted in film, Food, People of Color, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

We’ve discussed my vegan-envy in the past, but this sentiment has now reached new heights. After seeing Food Inc. I’ve been pretty much unable to eat meat, and quite uncomfortable with eating corn products.

True, it’s only been 2 days, but I feel pretty serious about this new conviction. The film details the social impact of the meat industry, as well as its environmental impact and effect on animal welfare. Meatpacking and processing is now one of the most dangerous jobs in the country and the very small number of employers actively recruit illegal Mexican immigrants to work in the plants. Under constant threat of deportation, the workers will then submit to the most dangerous conditions and minimal salaries.

Farmers who raise soybeans, corn and chickens fare no better within the American food industry. Monsanto, famous for having created Agent Orange and for championing genetically engineered food has  patented the soybean. That corporation now owns a piece of natural life. This means that all over the country farmers are being sued and harassed for growing non- Monsanto seeds. Since the dawn of agriculture farmers have saved their own seeds, but now the law says that only corporate owned and sold seeds are permissible, seeds that require toxic Monsanto fertilizers in order to grow.

It gets worse, remember Mad Cow disease, aka  E. coli. This is not a mutant strand that appeared out of nowhere, it is a disease created by the meat industry’s practice of feeding cows corn, in place of their natural grass diet and confining them in inhumane conditions, where they are left standing in their own feces. When one cow contracts this virus, it easily spread to the others, and it then finds itself mixed into meat at processing plants.

These are just a few examples, the list of abuses is long. Yet, because of the powerful legislative bargaining power of corporate food interests, there is no law in place to require labelling of GE or cloned foods and Kevins Law,  the legislation that would  hold the meat industry accountable for e coli deaths, and protect against further infections has still not passed 7 years after its proposal.

I have long been an organic food eater, have tended to favor local over corporate and am even a member of my local csa( community supported agriculture), but I wasn’t exactly a purist before. I’d eat microwave popcorn and dubious diner hamburgers, but I’m just about ready to make a locavore pledge… To Know Where my Food has Come From and to understand its true social, environmental, and animal welfare costs.

The Food Inc trailer- Directed by Robert Keener

Gen Art Film Fest- Lymelife Review

Posted in ella, film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

While I’ve been in North Carolina running from doc to doc at Full Frame, Ella has been keeping track of the premiers at Gen Art. Here’s her review of Lymelife:

Looming  freakishly tall people lifted their  cameras as I walked the “red carpet” (which was NOT RED. Or carpeted. Much to my disappointment) of  the 14th Gen Art Film Festival, only to drop them in disappointment when they realized that this particular short, anemic-looking girl wasn’t an aspiring indie-actress, but just a confused blogger looking for the press entrance.

The first discovery at the official premiere of  coming-of-age in the 70’s indie–flick Lymelife was that being a paparazzi-photographer is a bit like being a basketball player – if you’re short, you better be fast as heck so you can get in there first. At 5’3 (on a good day), I really didn’t stand a chance of seeing any of the celebrities starring in the evening’s feature. So I headed for the free beer, cunningly avoided the chirpy Neutrogena girls (somehow giving away lipstick reminds me of my mother’s admonition to not accept candy from strangers. I have no idea why), noted a couple of those faces that “I’m sure I’ve seen them somewhere, so they must be famous”, smirked at the inevitable surfacing of fugly men wearing their best “I’m tortured because I’m talented”-faces accessorized by at least one, preferably two, willowy young things and headed in to get my seat.

The volunteer ushers in the cinema did an amazing job of avoiding chaos as people were pretty much fighting to get seats. While probably not fun for the volunteers, watching uptight artsy folk barely managing to not completely lose their shit when their (clearly exaggerated) sense of entitlement wasn’t catered for,  was a misanthrope’s dream come true.

The introductory short film, Trece Anos, directed by Topaz Adisez, addressed the issues confronting a young man returning to his native Havana after 13 years in the US. In the Q&A which followed, Adisez explained that the short had originally been part of his feature project (www.theamericanaproject.com), but that he had decided to show it separately.  The pressures of filming illegally in Cuba may be to blame for some of the weaker parts of the short (especially during the massive family argument, where some of the acting was a little forced). Mostly though, the documentary-style storytelling worked well, with the reunion between the son and his mother a genuine highlight.

Lymelife was a pleasant surprise. From the website’s description as a coming-of-age tale set in Long Island during a 1970’s Lyme disease scare, I feared the worst: 90 minutes of awkward teenagers in bad clothes discovering their sexuality and complaining about their parents. Luckily, it’s genuinely funny. Derrick Martini, the director, mentioned that he thought the love story between Rory Culkin (the Home Alone kid’s little brother) and Emma Roberts (niece-of-Pretty-Woman) was the most important and interesting part of the film — I don’t agree, but maybe that’s because I failed to find teenagers interesting when I was one. Admittedly, Roberts adds the long-legged, brown-eyed Bambi-on-ice charm that was her aunt’s trademark before she decided to accost us with the truly dreadful Ocean’s Twelve, but her character strikes me as a more a fantasy of a hot but intelligent high school girl, rather than a convincing character. Still, it’s a minor gripe, because the rest of the characters are really sensitively drawn. Sure, Kieran Culkin has a natural advantage in playing the younger Culkin’s brother, but his interactions with the other characters are equally nuanced. Alec Baldwin is suitably self-centered but charming as the nouveau riche philandering father of the Culkins, who is sleeping with his Roberts’s mother (suburbia gets messy). Cynthia Nixon, playing Roberts’s mother, comes across as appropriately neurotic and trapped in a life she hadn’t bargained for.

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Timothy Hutton, playing her husband, has been driven mad by Lyme disease and is unemployed, but is shown to be more perceptive than the other characters think. The scene in the local bar where Hutton’s character lets Baldwin believe he has been driven insane by syphilis, meaning Baldwin may have caught it from Hutton’s wife, is an awesome exercise in darkly funny revenge. Headed out, I ran in to a woman in a tiger-print dress who actually had Lyme disease, who was excited that the film would raise awareness about the illness. She insisted it had driven her crazy at one stage, and that Hutton’s portrayal “really showed what it’s like”. Assuming Hutton doesn’t actually have Lyme, that’s high praise.

The acting award, though, goes to Jill Hennessy, whom I’ve only seen in police series like Law and Order and Crossing Jordan. She’s truly impressive as the Culkin’s mother and Baldwin’s wife. Transplanted from her native Queens, Hennessy’s character struggles to repress her frustration at the family’s new found wealth, her husband’s infidelities and juggling the emotions of the children she’s desperately trying to protect; from the army, from Lyme disease and, ultimately, from her relationship with their father.  Alternatively weak, strong, submissive and angry, Hennessy isn’t afraid to let things get ugly – while managing to remain the most compelling character in a very strong cast.

The main test, of course, is whether you would pay to see the film – and for Lymelife, the answer’s a “yes”.

The South…..Brooklyn Socialite takes Full Frame-Wounded Knee

Posted in film, People of Color, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Wow guys,
Its been a busy couple of weeks. Aside from working like crazy(as always), I’ve been traveling and socialiting, rest assured. Now I’ve finally gotten the chance to breathe and blog, of equal priority right? Yes. So gosh, where to begin. I’ll start by talking like a southerner, saying this like, “oh gosh” and ma’am. Except, no way am I saying that to anyone and I wish that I could stop them from saying it to me. I’m not your mama, your mom, your missus or any combination of those terms. I am from New York, and no that’s not why I’m being rude. I’m being rude because you are looking at me like I’m an Alien. I’m not an Alien, am from Brooklyn and don’t like your fashion sense either thank you very much. Whew, now that I got that out of the way, lets talk film.

This afternoon, I saw Wounded Knee , which is a great new film, directed by Stanley Nelson about the second Battle of Wounded Knee. The first took place in 1890 and is considered to be the end of the Great Indian Wars. Over 300 Native Americans were massacred. This event would usher in the period of forcibly removing children from their homes to send them to de-Indianization boarding schools. The second battle at Wounded Knee began when the Oglala Lakota who lived on Pine Ridge reservation teamed up with the American Indian Movement(AIM) to occupy the village of Wounded Knee as a bargaining tool. The demands that they placed on the table, were that Dick Wilson, the so called Tribal council leader (this was an appointment made by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, not by way of local election) and his goon squad be removed from power. They also requested that the government money and food supplies that were being funneled into the reservation, actually be distributed among the people (rather then kept by Wilson and his cronies).

After trying all legal means to redress their grievances, the Oglala Lakota called in the, at time militant, AIM leadership and membership to take up arms and escalate the fight for their people. The seizure lasted for 72 days and was met with an occupation by federal marshals and other agencies under the aegis of the U.S. government. The media extensively covered the event, reporting favorably on the movement, and Indians from all over the U.S. came to join the struggle at Wounded Knee. The film deftly captures the conflict and provides useful background into the childhood experiences and historical understandings of many of the people who were involved in the standoff. Take note: These events, which took place in 1973, set the stage for a continued reign of terror by the goon squad, and the eventual arrest of AIM leader Leonard Peltier, who was  accused of killing 2 FBI agents and remains in jail to this day.

Ok, lets stop there, got to go see another film…but I promise I will be keeping a daily Full Frame diary. Back soon! Robyn

Battlestar Gallactica at the UN with Woopi Goldberg

Posted in People of Color, politics, tv with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

A Battlestar Galactica discussion, held at the United Nations Economic and Social Council Chamber, moderated by Whoopi Goldberg? It sounds like the premise of a fevered dream or a bad trip. It may well be the first time that the UN’s diligent sign makers had to dedicate their skills to crafting signs with the names of extra-terrestrial places like “Virgon” and “Sagittarion” for the assembled delegates.  It was definitely the first time The Brooklyn Socialite made a dent in the United Nation’s amazing seafood buffet, looking out over the Hudson while chugging industrial-sized whiskeys and thinking about the strangeness of being in a building which, as the wise Whoopi G put it, “is as much an idea as a place”. Which we agree with – especially as it’s an idea that incorporates waiters in tuxes and brings together diplomats, high school students and geeks in a building decorated with tapestry portraits of Secretary Generals past and present.

A team-effort between the UN Department of Public Information and the Sci Fi Channel, the evening was less trippy and more substantial than it sounds. Tying in themes from the science fiction series with the UN’s work, actors Mary McDonnell (who plays President Laura Roslin), Edward James Olmos (the battle-scarred Admiral Adama), producers Ronald Moore and David Eick were joined on the podium by a variety of UN representatives, touching on subjects such as human rights, children in armed conflict, terrorism and religious reconciliation.

Helping the non-Sci Fi geeks in the audience, each segment was introduced by a clip from the series. It quickly became clear that Whoopi hadn’t only done her homework by watching the show, but that she’s a genuine Sci Fi fan (she admitted to using the Battlestar Galactica curse word “fraq” on The View – she works with Elizabeth Hasselbeck, so innovative, non-censored swear words are clearly called for). Deputy director of the NY office of the high commissioner for human rights Craig Mokhiber’s gave an impassioned and witty description of the continued importance of the UN declaration of Human Rights, saying that it is not a quaint idea only held by the liberal softies at the UN, but  what stands between humanity and the slippery slope of moral relativism , which de-humanizes the “other”. Ron Moore seemed to agree, though throughout the evening he hesitated to take a clear stance on any of the moral issues in the show.  Instead, he’d emphasize the complexity of the characters – answers which may have disappointed the avid fan who, delighted to have avoided paying the entrance fee for a Comic Con, wanted the definitive definition of the difference between Cylons and Humans in the show.

No fan’s passion for Battlestar Galactica could match that of Olmos, who seemed to be slipping in to his Adama character throughout the evening. His voice is pretty mesmerizing (he seemed to think so too), so he might be forgiven for some of his more extraordinary statements – at one stage he seemed to be supporting Cheney’s policies on national security, which we all know is more ridiculous than thinking you’re a commander at a floating space colony.  Though to be fair to Adama (Olmos?) he did have some interesting ideas about how fans blogging about the show had caused it to take on a life of its own, to become a cultural phenomenon intelligently addressing current affairs.

The only downer of the evening, actually, was the disinterested girl who, during Radhika Coomaraswamy’s touching presentation about children and armed conflict, sat next to The Brooklyn Socialite playing Brick Breaker on her BlackBerry. Not cool.

By Ella Fitzsimmons

Brooklyn Socialite, Comfort, Emily Gould

Posted in Food, Guide to What's Good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Failing at the tittle of Socialite, this is one of those terms that people clearly don’t want to understand when paired with the word Brooklyn, so sadly instead of them getting it, I hear a lot of:  “but your not a socialite.” “You don’t have a millionaire dad or live uptown.” “You don’t even wear nice dresses that often.”

All true. Astute observations, but the point is that I’m reclaiming the term! And subverting its meaning, so until you really think about it, please clear your palate of ‘the hate.’ I will no longer feel obliged to regale you with news of my social goings on about town, except when I feel compelled, but rest assured, I’m still going out, culture lives on, but I’m getting a bit tired of the report backs. My picks for the week though, ( preview style and all) are centered around comfort food. Why is this? Well I’m in need of some comfort. Go to Char #4 for homemade biscuits and bacon or make your own. Trust me this is a really good recipe, I’ve made them twice now! For dessert, go old school and combine original toll house cookie dough with Green and Black’s Organic chocolate ice cream. Or if your in Brooklyn like I am, go to Blue Marble. They make possibly the best vanilla I have ever had. In a rare candid moment (that’s now) I am sharing with you a picture of the actual me, eating the real deal ice cream….

img_0453Amazing right? I especially love how the cupcakes on my shirt match my activity. Alright one more comfort food tip, dumplings at Wild Ginger, not bootleg dumplings at the sweet yet overpriced vegan place next to Bluestockings, where you bought a zine and then left it there ’cause you were so distracted rushing off to a Battlestar Gallactica panel with Woopi Goldberg at the UN (who’s the socialite now.)

Any way, that sort of run on sentencing although generally unacceptable is just fine in Socialite world, I know this because I have been catching up on socialite scandals via The City, New York Mag, Socialite Rank, Gawker and yes this long line of Internet  “research” led me back to Emily Gould. I first heard about Emily nearly a year ago at a Gawker drinks night, the new-mediarati had gathered in spades and the gossip was circulating. I felt a little bit like I had to pretend I knew about the people being discussed just to join the convo, the result of my bout of humoring was a long tirade from a smoking man, which could of been summed up in a short, simple “leave Britney alone” type whine, except insert Emily where Brittney is. I was intrigued, the Times article. about her fall from Blog queendom to bad Pr target, had just come out, so I read it without realizing that she had been part of Gawker and that a CNN newscaster had accused her of aiding real life stalkers by working as  an editor of Gawker Stalker.

Now my google journey led me back to her, and here are some of my thoughts  about what happened… 1 why was she blamed  for the job she did on behalf of a male-dominated company that was founded on the principle of cutting gossip. That’s what Gawker is, it wasn’t her unique and evil conspiracy. 2 Reading her blog today, gave me the feeling that  perhaps she is one of us, the Brooklyn Socialites, a culture lover on a street covered in discarded chicken wings, a risk taker, a ghetto superstar? Ok I’m kidding a little bit here, but I do think that opinionated, outspoken women deserve a place in our media. I’m not saying that bad-mouthing people is alright, but its not ok to bully her either.

x

Brianwave @ RMA with Miranda July & George Bonanno

Posted in art with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

After the Fountain art Fair, which this is one of my fav photos from:

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I started wondering along the piers down to 17th street for Miranda July at the Rubin, when I saw this lovely couple. There is nothing quite like artstar hipsters in Love, except of course, me in love.

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With this in mind I continued on and found my press seat, in front of a couple of my other press/real-life buds. They left early and when I asked them why after, they said the talk was pretty terrible. I couldn’t have agreed less, so I just said, “oh.”

This is what I thought about it:

As part of the Brainwave festival , which according to the Rubin, “explores how art, music and meditation affect the human mind,” Miranda July was paired up with a neuropsychologist called George Bonanno. He started by giving a quick powerpoint presentation about how people cope with trauma. Using 9/11 at the main analogy, he graphed the way in which most people actually cope really well with extreme stress.

July was impressed, she said, “I hardly ever see graphs that aren’t ‘Art’. It was kind of exciting that you would put that much effort in.”

He laughed, and we the audience (or some of us) joined into this perfect moment of disconnect. The brainy doctor kind of wanted the artstar to like him and vice-versa. She told him about how she sometimes cries everyday, uncontrollably, and asked if he had any cures in mind for this. He said that no, unfortunately crying was one of things that had hardly been studied. He did know a lot about smiling though. His slides revealed the difference between a fake smile and a real Duchenne smile, the kind that makes your eyes wrinkle. Miranda knew about this, and shared that her shrink had once told her to put a pencil in her mouth and force a huge smile, this would trigger something and make her actually feel happy. Apparently it works sometimes.

George asked Miranda how she was able to create such crazy characters, she reported that in fact she actually knew people like the ones she depicts and that sometimes, they are facets of her. She showed a video called the Hallway of an art work that she did in a museum in Japan. I thought it was quite fabulous and it made me feel slightly better about my own morose works of art! I wish I could show you the Hallway, but YouTube is being unyielding so here is a clip of her at the Kitchen instead:

Word of the Day-Twoosh

Posted in word of the day with tags , , , , , on March 5, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Spending time in the office, I learned a new word yesterday, which I thought I’d share with those not yet in the know:

Twoosh:

A twoosh, reminiscent of the Nike Swoosh, is a slam dunk tweet, in other words a tweet that uses exactly 140 characters, which is the official limit on twitter.

If you’ve learned any exciting words today, hit me back!

Girls Like Us-STF-Examined Life-Twitter-Zoe Leonard

Posted in art, film, People of Color, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

The pace of my life is accelerating all too quickly and its hard for me to keep up with myself, aghhh, that sentence doesn’t make sense, edit, delete comma, insert quote marks, no parenthesis stop, no, just talk! So yes, rather than get the editor’s blues I’m going to speak freely, in an at times sloppy state of mild dishevelment. Let’s go:

So I was in the sauna at the gym on Sunday when I overheard some girls talking about kicking winter’s ass, and facing the last snow storm and just hitting march right out of the ballpark, whoa! I was inspired, I realized I must apply this go-get-em attitude to all things in life. I’ll let you know how that goes, so far not perfectly.

Next topic: Today I joined Twitter and people are starting to follow me, you can too, my user name is BSrobyn. That stands for Brooklyn Socialite Robyn, not that card game Robyn, or ok, out with it, Bull Shit Robyn. Def. not that.

Topic 3: Girls Like Us. This is a great film from the late 90’s that I saw at Stranger than Fiction last night. Oh, how I love STF, I finally found a club that would have me as its member (this is a Marx Brothers reference, if you don’t get it, you can’t join the club!). The documentary made by a lovely lady couple, tracks 4 teenagers from the time they are 13-14 until they are 17-18. The girls, who all live in South Philly, speak candidly about sex, childbirth, their relationships with their family and friends and their goals in life. This film won Sundance back in the day and it’s easy to understand why. Like Trouble the Water it sort of magically captures those tragedies and joys of life, which are often rendered mundane, as people avert their eyes to experiences of “othered” social groups.  The 4 girls, 2 white, 1 black and one South Asian all seemed to struggle to define themselves independently of their relationships with men. While, their parents and guardians strove to keep them on a track towards college and career. 3 of the women, now pushing 30, joined us at the IFC center after for a Q & A. They all seem to have turned out quite well and consider their experience being in the film to have been enriching and not exploitative.

On the way out of the theatre I saw Astra Taylor the director of Examined Life, which is an excellent film that I saw last week in preview. I feel somewhat ill-equipped to review it properly as I missed the first 20 minutes, but I will just say that Cornel West, who was one of the philosophers that Taylor interviewed, was completely amazing. He spoke fully and freely about every subject from Jazz to Nihilism. See it now at the IFC center! West and Taylor will be there in person for a Q&A after tomorrow’s show.

Finally, Zoe Leonard. I somehow faced the dreaded subway for a really long haul as I hot tailed it up to 155th to check out Zoe Leonard’s show at the Hispanic Society. Yesterday I met a cartographer. Cartographer, if you’re reading this, hello. I met a cartographer and I saw this collection of old maps, which Leonard curated at the Dia at the Hispanic Society. There is something Mystical about maps, quietly stunning, reminds me of The Phantom Tollbooth, which by the way is one of my favorite books (if you have read this and love it, you can be in the club). Leonard also had an exhibition of her photographs, which captured the East Village as it was changing, through the mapping of storefronts and charting of the journey that the products in those stores might take on as they enter a third world market. Reverse globalization, recycling consumerism. Interesting ideas. Yesterday I met a cartographer. The filmmaker Gregg Bordowitz spoke about Leonard’s exhibition on Saturday, his films sound like something that I would be fascinated by, but I haven’t seen them yet, so hold on. Hold on.

Joseph O’Neill and James Wood at the Yale Club by Ella Fitzsimmons

Posted in Book with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Here is a warm welcome to another wonderful Citizen of the World, Ella Fitzsimmons

Held at the comically WASPy Yale Club, Cambridge University in New York’s “A conversation with James Wood and Joseph O’Neill” narrowly escaped being a love-fest between the critic and the PEN/Faulkner award winner.

No stranger to controversy, famed critic Wood spoke appreciatively of O’Neill’s novel, while pleasantly but firmly defending his views on literature, notably under fire from the likes of Zadie Smith and literary magazine (n +1).

Wood’s approach to literary criticism has been described as ‘aesthetic’ and ‘unideological’ , a classification appreciatively re-iterated by O’Neill. (Though surely not having an ideology is an ideology??).  Agreeing, Wood seemed bewildered by the fact that he’s seen as the standard bearer for Realism in contemporary fiction.
Netherland has been caught in the crossfire between Wood and Smith. O’Neill was surprised by the appearance of Smith’s piece about Netherland in The New York Review of Books in November, as the magazine had already reviewed the book. “Then someone told me ‘You know she’s only getting at James Wood, right?” O’Neill smiled.

Nevertheless, O’Neill, a former lawyer, claimed to be pleased by the ‘multiple entrances to the book’. (A small part of my cynical heart suspected that he was pleased by the controversy. But he seems like a nice guy, so I’m trying to be good about it.)

Emphasizing that he did not try to re-write The Great Gatsby, O’Neill admitted that halfway through the seven year slog that went in to Netherland, he recognized parallels between it and Fitzgerald’s masterpiece.  A tacit agreement with Wood’s reading of the book as a work of post-colonial fiction, rather than a “post- 9/11” novel, perhaps?

Toward the end of the evening, O’Neill touched on how the internet-created, direct relationships with readers could become potentially problematic for writers, resulting in crippling self-consciousness.  This would have been an interesting point to discuss with Wood – as one of the underlying issues in the conflict between Wood and Smith et al is where the authority to criticize and appreciate literature stems from . Is the “Academy” still in charge, or literary criticism being democratized by the internet?  Sadly, the assorted guests were more interested in asking O’Neill about his inclusion of graphic sex scenes, and whether or not he liked the Costner film “Field of Dreams” – and when I discovered that I was much nerdier than a bunch of septuagenarians, I grabbed my last free drink and ran off.

Moody from Drinking?-Rant

Posted in day off with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Hey Guys,

I’ve missed you, its time for an irreverent ranting session, hold on to your hats. After recently beginning a residency as a Blog editor in training at an institution of repute, which will remain nameless,  I have to admit that my head is sorta spinning. It’s not only that, my personal life, which will also remain a somewhat secret is also spinning a bit as well. What was constant and weekly has now become irregular, while what was freelance has become institutionalized. While I remain cryptic, I have to reflect on some of the comments that were hurled at me last night in a series of conversations with drunk friends. Note to all: Avoid being sober, while surrounded by drunk friends, especially if you’re given to fits of introspection at such times.

In fact, I’ve noticed this to be something of a problem more than once lately. As if I’ve been unwittingly placed inside a scene in the B film What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas, even though 1. I have never seen this film actually and 2. My Brooklyn life is not aesthetically similar to Vegas in any way…ok, but the point is, that ( and I hope this is ranty enough for you!) I keep finding myself, who has the alcohol tolerance of an old sailor, in bars and cabs at parties etc with friends, lovers, strangers who are in a significantly altered state, while I’m straight sober- almost-but not sober enough to know when to not engage- this is the tragic flaw. So, I find myself taking these people seriously, when it  would probably be best to expect less. But, if I can’t have genuine interactions with people while drinking then why drink at all?

This perhaps is a watershed moment.

Wow, I feel a detox coming on. So to calm my raging moods, feelings of disappointment, excitement etc, this time I will drink an orange juice or something, cause clearly the booze are not working.

Matha Stewart-Living

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Martha Stewart has an amazing ability to ignore any question that she doesn’t want to answer. She is a walking talking-point, anecdote heavy, she will spin almost any question into either a product plug or a self-aggrandizing comment. I can’t really hate on her for doing this though, after all she is a brand. Here is a summary of my favorite Live-Martha Stewart-Living quotes from last night at the 92 Street Y:

When asked what her approach to time-management is, the guru of healthy living said,
“I get up really early and I go to bed really late. Sleep is just not that important to me. It’s not that important, it’s secondary for me, no it’s tertiary.”

When asked if she is tough to work for,

“I have people who have worked for me in my home for 25 years. I have cats who have worked for me for 17 years. That is a job you know, they do work. My dogs have there own blog now, did you know that?”

When asked to respond to comments made about her on Gawker,

“Oh Gawker, do you know how many page views they get? Only about 20, 000 page views a day!” To the interviewer she said, “Only people like you read Gawker. Do you do that on company time? I don’t read Gawker, it’s a waste of my time.”

About TV news,

“I prefer to read newspapers, TV news needs to get better, I get bored when I watch it.”

About the value of being a locavore, she referred to Lamb from New Zealand as, “Soaked in oil,” agreeing with her vegetarian daughter that it is better to buy local.

Concerning  how he market will be a few months from now, she said something to the effect of,  ‘If things turn out the way we think they will, there will be a lot of money to be made.’

After jail, and the plummeting value of stock in her company, she remains optimistic. The more inspiring gems of wisdom that she shared with us were her conviction to reform the prison system, details about the Martha Stewart Living center that she funded/founded in Mount Sinai Hospital  and one final tidbit: not only will Martha, “sweep the floor if there is no one else there to do it,” but she also has a habit of  stopping of at 86th and 3rd for her treat of coconut milk and a hot dog. If you see her there, say hi.

L’isola Disabitata: A Night at the Opera-Ray Wofsy

Posted in opera, People of Color with tags , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

This article was written by the wonderful Ray Wofsy

2/18/09- Joseph Haydn’s L’isola disabitata (Desert Island) opens with two sisters, Costanza and Silvia, marooned on a deserted island.  They immediately draw you into their  isolated existence with their gorgeous voices, dramatic lyrics, and the accompaniment of the orchestra.  From the way that they describe their hatred of men, the audience knows it is only a matter of time before men will arrive on their island paradise/prison…

This Gotham Chamber Opera
collaboration with Mark Morris broke my operatic expectations in more ways than one.  I had come expecting a traditional tale of love, heartbreak, and reconciliation, but found that this piece pushed those boundaries in exciting ways.  As with all art, the audience can take from it whatever they want, and I’m sure that people left with a wide range of interpretations.  Some might have departed thinking that this was a beautiful story of love, others that it was two-dimensional and cliché , but I left thinking that it showed the beauty of love, while simultaneously poking fun at romance.  Comic moments punctuated the tragic and romantic scenes, keeping the audience laughing and seeming to point to the following notion: love is true, but it is also funny and perhaps formulaic.  I was impressed that this opera was so arresting, but at the same time did not seem to take itself too seriously.

There were other surprises in the production.  Considering Mark Morris’s fame and success as a choreographer (he formed the Mark Morris Dance Group in 1980, has worked extensively in opera and ballet and won many awards), there was not a lot of dance in this piece.  The singers did use their movements to create drama and beauty within the sparse set, but the focus seemed to be much more on their lyrics and facial expressions than on their body language.  A more positive surprise was that two of the four actors cast in this 1779 traditional Italian opera were African American.  Admittedly, I have not been to the opera since I was seven years old and living in Boston, but this was a refreshing change from the all-white casts I have seen in my limited operatic experiences.  I was also pleased that the Italian lyrics were translated and projected in English above the stage.  This helped me follow what was happening but was also easily ignored when I wanted to just be absorbed in the drama unfolding on the stage.

In the end, I can think of no way I would have rather spent a cold, rainy February night than at L’isola disabitata.  This piece’s exploration of love, friendship, heartbreak, and different ways of viewing the world continues to be inspiring and thought provoking more than two hundred years after it was written.  Was the island a paradise?  A prison?  Was love the savior?  The comic relief?   The singers, artists, orchestra, and directors deserve credit for making this play so striking.  I only hope that I, like this play, can continue to laugh through the seriousness of life and love.

STF-William Greaves Tribute

Posted in film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

If you don’t already know who William Greaves is, here is the background, plagiarized from myself via Flavorpill:

“Tonight, Thom Power’s weekly documentary series, Stranger than Fiction, pays tribute to the “Dean of Black Documentary,” William Greaves. Famous for producing the PBS series Black Journal and for his feature film, Ali the Prize Fighter, Greaves has consistently expanded the perimeters of African-American filmmaking. Longtime Spike Lee editor Sam Pollard joins a panel with Eyes on the Prize director Orlando Bagwell and Elvis Mitchel, co-creator of The Black List to discuss Greaves’ contributions. This night of tribute is presented in collaboration with the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.”

Now for a round up of the evening:

Let me start in the middle, or er um, the end. When the screenings finished and the panel was winding down, Thom introduced William Greaves, who had all the while been sitting quietly in the back of the cinema. Greaves said, “Thank you all for coming, I had no idea there were so many people interested in and still following my work.” He also said that he is and has always been concerned about the state of our country.

This concern is evident in his work. We had the privilege of watching black and white clips from his early films, including Emergency Ward from 1959, Still a Brother and The First International Festival of African Arts. The Dean of Black cinema has definitely covered many subjects of great social importance.  In these early films alone,  he tackles mis-treatment of the ill, the mentality of the Black middle class, police brutality and a history of the arts, which focuses on African, and African American roots.

Next, Thom screened a segment from Ali the fighter, in which Muhammad Ali gears up for a fight with Joe Fraser. Ali comments that people have never seen anything like him before, He is a witty, fast-talking, fighter. He also notes that people hate him because he’s black, because of his religion and for the fact that he avoided the draft.

The clip, which I would say sparked the most curiosity from the audience was a scene from Symbiopschotaxiplasm: Take One. According to a comment made by one of Greaves collaborators, which appears in the film itself, ” The film has no determinable plot whatsoever.” This may sound like a bad thing but the little slice of it that I saw looked brilliant. He collaborated with Steve Buscemi on part 2 1/2, who was also in the audience tonight.

The panel of Black male filmmakers, editors, and producers was extremely appreciative of Greaves, as they showered their thanks on him for the role he played in mentoring  and inspiring them. I exchanged a friendly nod with Buscemi (in my mind a terrific actor) in the hallway and a brief hello with Sam Pollard (ditto on editor)  and the women from Full Frame, who traveled to New York to be at this special tribute. Another great night at Stranger than Fiction.

August Osage County

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 17, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

I finally saw August Osage County and I have to say it was pretty damn brilliant. It makes my dysfunctional family look OK after all. Grandma’s a pill-popping drug addict, mom and dad are getting divorced, but pretending to be still happily coupled, and mom’s 2 sisters are perfectly wacky. One is married to a sleazy republican type who’s trying to sleep with mom and dad’s 14 year old daughter. The other is sleeping with her cousin, or wait is he her brother?

All the madness takes place around a well-lit and seamlessly designed 3-story house set. The drama begins when grandpa goes off missing and soon turns up drowned in his favorite fishing lake. Suicide? A very Desperate call for help?  Whatever it is this event gets the whole family up in arms, including an excessively grand, great-aunt,  her son(the one who’s sleeping with his cousin) and her obese, still very warm and reasonable husband. Oh, and they also have a Native American housekeeper. who peaceably witnesses it all.

I won’t spoil the ending but suffice it to say, the drama is convincing and the tenuous lines between self-determination and family responsibility are clearly illuminated. Plus a lot of (fake?) whiskey is consumed on stage!

Now playing on Broadway.

Carnival – Slate Honey

Posted in Mr Slate Honey with tags , , on March 13, 2010 by thebrooklynsocialite

Hey all,

Slate asked me to post this about the Audre Lorde Project benefit tonight. ALP is a great org and it looks like this will be fun….

Come out to the monthly dance party CARNIVALE this Saturday night, March 13th, at Littlefield to get your dance on, see performances and photography and support an important cause.  This Saturday, CARNIVALE celebrates the unique efforts of the Audre Lorde Project with a benefit to support ALP’s anti-violence work and community organizing for and by gender variant people of color.  Come out at 11pm to see ///SPECIMEN/// perform and grind through the night with GoGo dancers COSMIC & the sexy boys of TransLiscious Entertainment.  The fine line up of DJs include the Legendary Ladies of Ubiquita, DJs Reborn, Selly & Moni and Carnival’s resident DJ A.K Right aka Bran Fenner.  If you’ve got an eye for art, check out “Looking at a Woman,” a digital retrospective of the work by acclaimed photojournalist Angela Jimenez, which will be on view.  There is certainly something for everyone at CARNIVALE! Sliding sale suggested donation is $5-$25.  RSVP on facebook at CARNIVALE@ LITTLEFIELD.

Ms Dahlia’s Cafe and N-Diya Spa- Bedstuy Represent

Posted in Food, Guide to What's Good with tags , , , , , , on November 30, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Lately, there have been two noteworthy openings in the hood. Bed-stuy, Nostrand ave, right next door to each other in fact. One boasts food for the soul and the other can provide physical healing, among other things. The first is Ms. Dahlia’s cafe on Nostrand between Hancock and Halsey, right by the A. They have great coffee, including decaf espresso, yes hood, you finally answered my prayers, and there’s more, they have a self-serve, massive cinnamon shaker! I have a not so secret cinnamon addiction so this suits me just fine. They also have a fairly priced collection of food items that are not a. Chinese chicken b. Jamaican patties or c.pizza, so this is exactly what the neighborhood needs.

A few sample menu items include:

Bagels and Balthazar breads with spreads

Belgian Waffles

Homemade Biscuits

Omelets

Sandwiches/ Soups

Sweets: including Cupcakes and excellent pie!

They also have some pretty amazing Cucumber Lemonade. I recommend it!

Here is a pic of the two lovely owners:

And one of my friends, Decaf Latte and Cinnamon.

As for their stupendous neighbor, I can only continue to rave. Safiya at N-Diya, gives great massages and for the best prices around for miles. $95 gets you a 60 minute Aromatherapy massage and you can get a facial for even less. She makes all of her own products using super natural ingredients. Shampoo without sodium laurel sulfate and leave-in conditioner made out of rosemary, lemongrass, and coconut oil. Trust me it smells great and it works. I know this sounds like an info-mercial, but it’s all true! Check them both out and let me know what you think xR

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