Archive for October, 2008

Angela Davis Recap, AnySpacewhatever Pictures, Halloween

Posted in Book, Guide to What's Good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

The crowd at Angela Davis’ talk last night was pretty spectacular, v. Dyke March NYC meets Critical Resistance, Oakland plus a large helping of Eugene Lang Students and free Mumia activists. The vibe was very serious though, not to many accidental lover pick-ups or new friendships made, the main focus was on the star of the show: Angela Davis. (Definitely on the Good List)

She spoke about another iconic figure who is regarded in a sometimes similar light, our next president, Barak Obama. As a socialist, Davis was not so much advocating for Obama on the merits of his democratic policy proposals or his moderate-left record in office. Instead, she spoke of his power as a real milestone of progress and a symbol of it. The election of the first Black President has a collective significance on our society, which actually overpowers his personal significance as an individual, she asserted.

My favorite moment in this discourse was when she offered her analysis of McCain’s run in with the woman from Minnesota who said, “I can’t trust Obama, he’s an Arab.” Mccain responded, “No mam he is not an Arab. He is a decent family man and a U.S. citizen. This is the very exceptionism which so perfectly defines modern racism. It is as if to say, ‘Well Obama may be black, but he went to Harvard, he’s one of us.’ Or, ‘I am fine with gay people, as long as they don’t try anything on me, I have plenty of gay friends.’ McCain did not address that there was a problem with her anti-Arab racism. The way he attempted to clear Obama’s name was by justifying that he is “decent” and ‘one of us’ because he is a “family man.” Thereby not being Arab, being heterosexual, and being committed to “family values” acquits Obama, and anoints him as a good, normal American.

That was the highlight for me, but she touched on so many good points, essentially, 1. racism is not over, we must know our history, celebrate the milestones, but focus on how much further there is to go. 2. prisons must be abolished and they are systemically racist- dating all the way back to slavery, she also talked a lot about the role that surveillance plays in coloring the prison population. 3 Davis, kind of mocked the internet a bit, hey I resemble that! Other than the quips that implied that google and youtube were sort of un-cool, I have to say Angela Davis has earned the attention of her supporters. I bought her book afterwards, so look forward to a review!

Now for a couple of overdue AnySpaceWhatever pictures.

Liam Gillick

Liam Gillick

a Robyn's eye view

a Robyn's eys view

Are We Evil

Are We Evil

And finally, happy Halloween. I am hiding out at home with a bag of candy, prepared for trick or treaters, so if you know where I live, ring my bell!

Sorry Tree -Eileen Myles

Posted in Book, Guide to What's Good, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Time to hit you with a book review. Sorry Tree is a recent book of poetry by Eilleen Myles. By way of description of Myles, for the uninitiated, I don’t know whether to say, ‘Still hot at almost 60,’ ‘In the genre of Ginsberg and Patti Smith,’ ‘Lesbian for president, Poet for all,’ or just, ‘someone who owes me a coffee/chat.’ I will content myself with saying instead, a voice that will influence you, Myles has mastered her craft.

Now on to the book. This is a poem from one of my favorite series of poems in Sorry Tree, “Dear Andrea”

Myles writes:

“Dear Andrea

You are the candy melting

in my mouth.

Is that a euphemism

For what? Witnessing your love.

That’s pretty good.

Oh I thought you said

Hear the candy

melting in my mouth.

All the people like me

are thanking all the people

like you. Can we call

it bird house?

I wouldn’t take that

away from you. You’re

like an orangutan.

You’re like a little brother

I just allowed in the bed.

Did you have coffee with

your dinner. No

I’m excited. We

bought a bird house

today. We didn’t

get it yet. No

but we should

call it that. I.M.

sweet”

I missed my stop on the subway, while reading this, I was transported and, perhaps fortunately, not to my intended destination. Instead I visited the spaces that the poet inhabits, which her voice so viscerally describes. I was on a ferry and in a bedroom, within a warm house deep in thought, capturing each minuscule feeling that visited me. For the other “Dear Andrea’s” buy the book

See you at  Angela Davis’s talk tonight!

Unappreciated?

Posted in film, Guide to What's Good, The bad list with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Do you ever get the feeling that people are wildly underestimating you? They say things like, “Well, if you really wanted it, you would…” or “Well, you’re young, you have have plenty of time to make money, you don’t need it now.” This is when the incredulity sets in, “Do you have any idea who I am?” you want to scream, ” Do you have even half a notion of what I’ve done to get to this place in my life?” Officially you have more heart, more chutzpah, and more integrity then some people carry attached to their keyrings, “but I digress“(To quote one blogger who is in the habit of quoting me)… By now you have mentally jumped upon a table top and started demanding, back taxes, lost invoices, belated birthday presents and every other manner of substance that you now realize you are rightfully owed. In appearance, your body may be still quite contained behind your just slightly rolling eyes and your calm, controlled voice- in truth, you are raging. The diatribe is getting juicier, ex-partners are invoked, broken dishes that your roommates never claimed responsibility for, that diet that sabotaged you, the exercise that you no longer have time for. You are starting a movement here, look around and notice that others are also standing on their tables and chairs. Not visible to the untrained eye, but I see them. I am glad that I found my kin group, and we are beginning the departure…follow me! shhhh, don’t stop to think, just follow, or lead, whatever, just come.

Send me your best undervalued rant: Brooklynsocialite@yahoo.com

Possible topics include: 1.Who wants to be Paris Hilton anyway. 2. Why I’m a superstar (to myself) 3. A funny thing happened on the way to today and 4. Why canceled vaycay’s suck on top of everything else.

And now for a quick recap of Making Do the Right Thing. After seeing it for the second time, I noticed that Spike Lee was super fashionable in the late 80’s. Where can I get me a pair of yellow and green leggings, with green mini-shorts on top. Men were really comfortable with taking fashion forward back then. Pretty hot. I also loved the part where Melvin Van Peebles tells the crowd that refuses to quiet down and give him his propers, ” I didn’t get to where i am by being a choir boy, now shut up.” He’s on that table with us. He’s coming!

Melvin Van Peebles

Melvin Van Peebles

Coco Rosie at Heather’s

Posted in art, film, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Last night I saw Bianca, aka Mad Vicky, one of the members of Cocorosie, DJ at Heather’s. Known for wearing crazy wigs and lots of beautiful, built-up costumes, Bianca was rocking a realistic, white girl dread wig. I’m assuming that wasn’t her actual hair, but not sure. Her clothes were slightly more downplayed but still somehow imposing. My friend commented that he loved her rainbow aesthetic, which is ironic considering the truth that Cocorosie have often referred to themselves as Rainbow Warriors. It kind of did feel like a tribe had come home to chill, with Bianca, joined by equally snazzy mix-mistress Black cracker and her band and life- mate Bunny Rabbit. Members of OMG Michelle were also in the blender, plus designers Leif and Tooya.

DJ Mad Vicky

DJ Mad Vicky

If you haven’t heard Cocorosie’s sounds, check them out. Popular in Barcelona and Paris, where they live part time, and of course on the west coast, their music is a rhythmic cross pollination. Fisher price toys compete for dominance with operatic vocals, disguised voices and good old fashioned (ha ha) beats. Danceable, at times queer-centric, melodic, lyrical, their music is so many things. Black Cracker and Bunny are pretty ace too, especially when you see them in Athens! The DJing was of course different from the band, but our verdict: fun and thought provoking, definitely going on the GL. The slide show that accompanied it was positively wacked out. Yay, more experimental film cures, in these depressionista times.

The Economic Downturn & Depression Entertainment

Posted in Book, film, Food, Guide to What's Good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Let me tell you, writing for a living (and making clothes) is not all that lucrative for some people that i won’t mention, ok me. Still I look around and notice that the signs of the times are quite prominent nearly everywhere. Friends are loosing jobs, moving cities, desperately promoting themselves, or sliding into negative state of mind funks. For me, not all that much has changed ‘cuase I actually didn’t have that far to fall. (ha ha) Any way, this brings me to consider the rise of Broadway musicals during The Great Depression, which is this week mirrored by the success of High School Musical 3. It looks like American’s on average would like to be entertained by ultra-positive, unrealistic singsong in times of Crisis.

I fear that I tend to go in quite the opposite direction for my ressionista kicks. I watch a lot of documentaries, which not everyone considers to be a good time. Like tomorrow, for instance I am really excited about the Stranger than Fiction, screeing of Making do the Right Thing, to quote myself,

St Clair Bourne captured the conflict-rich environment of Bed-Stuy in the early ’80s and the ways in which the community responded to seeing its streets turned into a live set.” Read More

Angela Davis

Angela Davis

This will be a great night because not only is a film about my neighborhood screening, but Danny Glover and many others will be in the house to pay tribute to St Clair Bourne, who I had the honor of befriending before he died last year. Later in the week, more of what I call good cheap fun, Angela Davis will be speaking about Abolition Democracy at Cooper Union for free. More info

The other fun, affordable and cheery things that I am, and suggest doing in today’s economy are playing with dogs and reading! Yay, so Brideshead revisited reading group, get busy! I also love making soup in these times, it’s cheap and it lasts all week. Any one who has a good soup recipe, please comment post it or email it to me at Brooklynsocialite@yahoo.com. I will share one soon too, maybe even giveaway a soup dinner to one lucky reader… x

Supper, Channeling

Posted in art, film, Guide to What's Good, Party with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Just finished editing the busy events of Friday night, and happy to realize that Saturday was by far a quieter evening. I just have to recap the cool film screening and after party that I attended and the great dinner at Supper which preceded it.

I keep being drawn back to that restaurant, It reminds me of Tiamo, this great Italian spot in the Italian district of Melbourne, which I used to frequent. Going there offers me a little taste of my home away from home, tied up between piping hot homemade pasta, gorgonzola polenta, and decadent procioutto mellons. Sorry vegans. Which brings me to the next event of the evening.

I had to try to pull off vegan chic among talented experimental filmmakers, artists, DJs and friends. The screening at ABC No Rio, (moved from Le Petit Versailles), was charming, subtle, at times hysterical, at others confusing, but overall thought provoking and bold. It is always good to see queer stories, which ponder identity, earthliness and disco. Check out the work of Elliot Montague and Michael Robinson on youtube maybe or in your local radical lending library.

The afterparty was a refreshing amount of fun. After most of the crowd at Heather’s cleared, what remained was a friendly crew, Aurthur Russell and other disco/hip hop/pop and house beer guzzling queertabulousness.

Inkblot Kelly, NY2022, Obama/Baldwin, Bitch, Edgar Keret

Posted in art, Book, Guide to What's Good, Music, The bad list with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

I want to talk about the futuristic performance art piece that accompanies the AnySpaceWhatver exhibition.

The performance, entitled NY2022 combines Balenciaga dresses, with the Staten Island , Richmond County Orchestra, 82 year old singing actresses and a shower, a bicycle and a hot plate. Based on the 1973 Sci-fi film Soylent Green, the artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster creates an image of New York in the future. Apparently it is a place where people lovingly pour water over each other in lieu of actual showers, and where music and clothing, although beautiful (Balenciaga dresses) and lackadaisical, are gradually dissipating.

On the Subway downtown, I was wedged between the Russian members of the Staten Island Orchestra, although this environment was decidedly less glamorous then the Guggenheim, I felt a kindred connection with my fellow Brooklyn Socialites. Yes they live in Staten Island, but the point is that they are subway riding, comfortable shoe wearing, down to earth recessionistas like me.

When I arrived downtown, I was just in time to see Bitch and Feron at Joe’s Pub, which was a little folksy slice of the west coast from Daniela Sea’s lovely female folk singer girl-friend. The show was quite sweet, it made me feel like camping, and watching lakes. At one point, Ferron commented that new Yorkers view trees as concepts, that they are not in fact real to us. It was a joke, but I want to shout “Hey, I resemble that!” (which is a play on ‘I resent that’ For other fun pun’s in the sun dig this little gem of a site

And, it’s about time that I rail off about a few books and publications that I have been perusing these past few days. First of all did anyone else read the epic comparison of Barak Obama with James Baldwin in the NY Review of Books? What the? This brings to mind other “well matched” personages such as Orwell and Waugh. Until Barak comes out and publishes something with a little more literary merit than his “touching” autobiography provided, I will have to maintain my gasp. I love our next president, but don’t mess with Baldwin.

Speaking of writers, I caught Edgar Keret at Housing Works. He read from his latest book, A Girl on the Fridge. I really can’t speak volumes about his work, although it is very popular and often recommended to me. Its conspicuous lack of political choices, for a collection of stories set in conflict rich Israel/Palestine is a bit off putting. The style and subject matter is also v. male and seems to neutralize violence. However, the lady poets, who read before him, presented well crafted verse. Housing works still rocks!

I am also proud to share my new clothing website, Yay! The BS is also a Designer x www.InkblotKelly.com That lovely model is sporting IK gear below x

TheAnySpaceWhatever initial Review

Posted in art with tags , , , , , , , on October 24, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Ok folks this post is going to be a little computer challenged as I am forced to iPhone send it. My initial reaction to the anyspacewhatever exhibition which opened yesterday at the Guggenheim is: I loved the wall text and the hanging plaques that redirect the typical flow of museum traffic. They say things like various admissions above the ticket booth and cookoo sanctuary above the coat check. Then the walls whisper, for example: “every time you think of me you die a little”. A message to your ex or a cross affirmation? I wonder. One patron upon exit said that tourists would be disappointed after paying 18$ to enter. Oh, the tourist, but what about the art critic? So far i can tell you that the bid towards experiential art and the rejection of the basic concept of asthetic display is compelling, but I’ll get back to you after further consideration!

Pics to come.

Murakami contentious review!

Posted in art with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Here it is:

Is a Ph.D. in fine art a pre-requisite for the production of sexually offensive, hyper-color, infantile comic book styled corporate clutter? If your name is Takashi Murakami than the answer is, “yes”. The self-proclaimed creator of a new art movement entitled Superflat, which refers to what Murakami has defined as the lack of distinction in Japan between high and low art, as the flat space in between. A trend he points to in traditional as well as contemporary Japanese art. According to the artist, “Japanese don’t like serious art. But if I can transform cute characters into serious art, they will love my piece.”

Murakami maintains that his goal is to question the Japanese obsession with western art and immature consumerism, by blurring the lines between art and commerce. However, rather than critiquing this shift, his work further intensifies the magnetism. Murakami describes postwar Japanese impotence as a void, popularly obscured by Hello Kitty dolls that the artist has stepped in to fill with ultra commercial merchandise as art. A man who can sell paintings for 1.3 million and toy figures for 50 bucks a pop has demonstrated his capabilities as a marketing genius. Perhaps his designation as the new Andy Warhol and best contemporary Japanese pop artist is just another example of his promotional mastery.

Born in Tokyo in 1962 from working class parents, Murakami earned a BA, MFA, and Ph.D. in traditional Nihonga painting from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Growing up, he was a member of the Otaku geek subculture, which centers around anime (cartoons) and manga (comic books) that often depict the explosion of the atomic bomb and gritty realities in post-war Japan. They also sometimes serve as outlets for repressed sexual fantasies. Otaku are mainly young Japanese men, who like American trekies or renaissance fair enthusiasts, collect figurines, and go to trade shows, except in this case the figures are often sparsely glad young girls called, bishojo.

As otaku relates to Murakami’s art it is a borrowing from cartoons and animations with the sexual or grotesque element almost made palatable by containing a somewhat child-friendly veneer. The latter is the imposition of an element called kawaii, or cuteness. This presence is found increasingly in his more recent work. Paintings such as Tan Tan Bo capture a combination of otaku and kawaii, which culminate in the figure of a bloodthirsty, yet colorful, cheery caricature. It is this very reference to morbid isolationism, augmented with hyper-color joy, which has rocketed Murakami into the mainstream. Millions of dollars later, he is still known to sleep many nights alone in a sleeping bag in a small building attached to his Japanese factory.   Read More!pleasexx

Tan tan Bo- Murakami

Tan tan Bo- Murakami

Thanks for listening and loving art like I do (except when you take objection to it!) Speaking of art, tomorrow you can expect a full review of the new AnySpaceWhatever exhibition at the Guggenheim. Until then! your faithful Brooklyn Socialite.

George Stoney Q & A

Posted in film, Guide to What's Good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Last night documentary filmmaker George Stoney made a special appearance at Thom Powers'( programmer for the Toronto Film Festival) film series, Stranger Than Fiction. Stoney is 92 years old and has been making films for two thirds of his lifetime. It was a great pleasure to watch him, climb up and down off the stage( poor thing) and discuss his cinematic legacy with total clarity and insight. He informed us that his early films were made almost exclusively for a commissioned purpose. The first video that screened last night, “All my Babies,” was made for the Georgia Health Department as an instructional video. It depicts a real African American “granny midwife,” as they were called, delivering a baby for a woman in her home. Many black women in the early 50’s, when this film was made, did not have their children in hospitals. Stoney explained that this film helped to educate white doctors about the respectable practices of the midwives, and the somewhat desperate position of the mothers. This knowledge encouraged many of those doctors to make visits to pregnant black women before and during births, in order to ensure safety and bring women, who were likely to have complicated births, to the hospital.

This film like all of the others screened was thoughtful and admirable. Throughout his career Stoney tackled issues such as workers rights, prison drama societies, Native American rights, and rural to urban immigration. Do Netflix him or audit one of his classes at NYU (that’s what I’m thinking of doing!) Yes, you heard me right, at 92 he is still teaching and still making films. He should def hang with my 98 year old Bubby. They would have good chats.

Here is a revisiting of the original film with commentary. Loads slow but is pretty interesting!

Agent Angie Sings to us

Posted in art, Guide to What's Good, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

92Y Tribeca Opening

If you read my review of 92nd Street Y’s Jorie Graham and Yusuf Komunyakaa reading last week you know of my hope that the good ole’ Y could become a little more hip. They book the best literary events around, yet manage to put their audience to sleep. Well, it seems my wish has been granted. 92nd Street Y opened their Tribeca location, on Hudson and Canal, last Saturday. I’ve heard that 92Y Tribeca won’t be hosting many readings in the near future, leaving that to their uptown patriarch. Hopefully that changes, because 92Y Tribeca’s space could potentially excel in providing the intimacy that literary readings need to be as satisfying and exciting as possible (yes, readings can be exciting!).

92Y Tribeca has a fabulous line-up of music events scheduled. Check out their site. John Vanderslice kicked off their series, 18 Nights of Inspiration on Saturday, while also celebrating the opening of the Tribeca location. Michael Showalter opened for and introduced Vanderslice with a stand-up routine. He was a little unprepared but otherwise hilarious as usual (remember Wet Hot American Summer?). Most of his routine recapped the current events surrounding the election.

Vanderslice’s performance was what I was excited about. He put on a great show, visibly elated to be performing at 92Y Tribeca and to be introduced by Showalter, whom he’s performed with before. The San Francisco-based singer/songwriter has intrigued me ever since I heard that he produced Spoon’s Gimme Fiction and two recent Mountain Goats’ albums, The Sunset Tree (2005) and Heretic Pride (2007), which also happen to be two of my favorites. One of the most prolific, yet under-the-radar musicians of his generation, Vanderslice was slated to intrigue, delight, and of course, entertain.

Vanderslice’s lyrics remind me a bit of anecdotal, folkloric/nursery rhymes, in particular “Dear Sarah Shu,” which he dedicated to John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats at the show:

Dear Sarah Shu,
I leave for you
All i knew about this job
On microcassette for further review

What it meant to me
How you’ll make it dear, hopefully
It’s dangerous here
Yes it’s dangerous here

Peer round corners with dental mirrors,
Heed the threats, taking cautionary measures,
In the end, it is love
You’ll have to learn to survive
…”

and “Angela”

Angela
Don’t be mad
There’s something i’ve got to tell you dear
Before you come back here

I lost, i lost your bunny
I let him out of the cage
He was eating spring mix on the carpet
He jumped through a window into the haze

And hopped down magnolia boulevard
No way he’ll survive
Maybe those last days of freedom
Were the best of his life
…”

92Y Tribeca picked a great inaugural act! I had a blast.

The space was very well orchestrated. There are gallery spaces displaying the exhibit “Goddess, Mouse, and Man” featuring the etchings of Lauren Weinstein, Tom Hart, and Matthew Thurber. I went to a reading of Weinstein’s fantasy graphic novel Goddess of War (the etchings of which are currently displayed in this show) at the Strand a couple months ago. She is definitely worth checking out.


Expect some exciting things to come from the Y in the coming months. I’m interested to see what happens.

by Angie Venezia

Trouble The Water Article Interview Tia Lessin and Carl Deal

Posted in film, Guide to What's Good with tags , , , , , , , on October 21, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Hello! My Trouble The Water article which features an interview that I did with the film’s directors Tia Lessin and Carl Deal is now available on line here.

If you have yet to see the movie, please do. It is a very inspiring narrative documentary about a heroic, yet humanistic couple who survived Hurricane Katrina, while aiding their neighbors in the lower 9th ward. This in an excerpt…read more!

“So many people lost everything, their homes and families.” Lessin said. “It is not exactly the time that you expect people to rise above it all, but the truth is that Kim and Scott lived in a community that had failed them all of their lives. They were used to having to be the first response for problems that were occurring in their community. The government had long since abandoned the lower ninth ward. At least a quarter century of right wing attacks on social services set the groundwork for the poverty in their community. So many of the basic things that our country is supposed to look out for, safety, health, environmental and market regulations, civil rights, had all fallen by the wayside. This was the trajectory of their lives.”

Indeed, the scenes that show Kim riding through the neighborhood, pre-storm, affirm her status as caring community member. She knows the names and stories of each neighbor, shop owner, and even homeless junkie. Memorably, she warns one such man to take shelter. Later the film viewer finds out that he was one of the many who died after being unable to leave the city. However, Kim herself, also speaks about the hardships she has endured at various times in life, which have led her to take desperate measures, including selling drugs. Aiding their neighbors and emerging as true leaders, seems to have catalyzed a process of continued change for the Roberts.

According to Deal, “This film was about perspective as much as anything, by stepping outside of their everyday world, Kim and Scott were able to look back in and see themselves in an enhanced manner. They could understand the better parts of themselves and by seeing things in this affirmative light, multiply the positives in their lives. They were the same people they had always been, except more self-assured and hopeful.”

Party Like it’s 1992 at Santos Party House

Posted in Guide to What's Good, Party with tags , , , , , , on October 21, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Well last night my friend lured me out of my warm sewing cove and convinced me to come to the Shitty. On a Sunday night no less! It was kind of worth it though to see all the b-boy colorfabulous fashions that were on display at Santos Party House. If you weren’t wearing hyper color high tops you may as well have been a leaper. The only way to make up for such a grave slight was to rock glitzy vintage rainbow bright party dresses or collage popping hoodies. I didn’t quite make the grade, but i still managed to get myself caught on the dance floor amidst spontaneous vogueing, cap wearing, boot stomping b-boys and heel high glamazons. The drinks were slightly overpriced but the sounds of 1992 were refreshing. I had to call back to the fore several of my retired dance moves but I just about managed to bust a move. Upon departure, I was rewarded with a 1992 t-shirt by local designer Brooklyn Basement.

Agent Angie reads to us

Posted in Book with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

This has been quite a week of readings, providing events so diverse, from Opium Magazine’s unorthodox literary death match to 92nd Street Y‘s uptown and kinda uptight Jorie Graham and Yusuf Komunyakaa reading.


And in the middle, Wednesday saw the 85th anniversary reading of Weird Tales Magazine at KGB Bar. The magazine brought three of their favorite authors, Micaela Morrisette, Jeffrey Ford, and Karen Heuler. Morisette started things off with the weirdest of the night, a story about ritualized cannibalism. Her reading of it was disturbing; she described her characters devouring their meals with such a plethora of adjectives and in such a soft and captivated voice, fetishizing the concept. I felt like I was listening to a harlequin romance about craving human beings for dinner. Unsettling? Yes. Not exactly my cup of tea but compelling nonetheless.


My favorite part of the night was when Stephen H. Segal, the editorial and creative director of the magazine, did a reading of Weird Tales’ readers’ submissions of 500 word stories inspired by a spam subject line they found in their inbox. He read three of the honorable mentions throughout the night. They were awesome.

Those were the highlights of the evening. KGB Bar is so far my favorite readings venue. It is surely the most intimate, being so tiny that there were people overflowing into the hallway. Predictably, everything is red, with busts and portraits of Lenin galore. The disappointing beer selection, offering only the usual suspects was a downer for me, but its atmosphere, authenticity, and tininess get it on the GL of NY bars and reading venues.


The next night came 92nd Street Y’s Jorie Graham and Yusuf Komunyakaa reading. Sometimes I wish the Y could loosen itself up a bit. I’ve been to one other reading there, and both times I nodded off at some point during the event. It’s not intimate by any stretch of the imagination (I’ve found that intimacy is best for readings so that one can absorb and thus more easily follow what the writer is reading), the seats are not too comfy, and it’s not a place where I feel relaxed.


Graham read first, and sadly, it was tedious. Her voice was very abrupt and breathy when she read. It was very “poet-like;” the stereotype that inserts pauses in odd places for effect, and pauses at the end of every line. I hate when people read poetry that way. It makes poetry sound foreign, validating the preconceived notions some have about the inaccessibility of poetry. She read solely from Sea Change which didn’t thrill me. I had trouble associating any of the words she was saying together. I felt like I needed to have the book in front of me and follow along to grasp the meaning behind her words.


Yusuf Komunyakaa on the other hand had a beautiful reading voice. It was very soft and deep. He recited Rs with a unique flair and had a bluesy lilt to his voice. My favorite poem of his was called “Requiem,” about New Orleans after Katrina.

Agent Angie gets round Robin

Posted in Guide to What's Good, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

The Baltimore Avant-Garde at (le) Poisson Rouge

I suppose the bands I saw Friday night in the Baltimore Round Robin at (le) Poisson Rouge didn’t overtly define themselves as avant-garde, but they were certainly esoteric enough to be described that way. Furthermore, their pride in their irreverence, marked in many cases by aloofness, to the extent of failing to tell the audience their name (as if they’re so above the current music scene to care if we know who they are), made me think that many of them have quite lofty perceptions of themselves.

Despite my initial aversion to the elaborately esoteric nature of some of these performances, very quickly I began to hear the rhythm and beauty in even the most bizarre of noise bands there that night. Even the Lexie Mountain Boys, a group of women who did all manner of screeching, moaning, and yelping to convince me that I was either at a ritualistic ceremony or a violent orgy, captivated me.

The round robin concept, in which the audience forms in the middle and is surrounded by all of eleven bands, who alternate playing one song after another, was the perfect way in which to experience this music. I couldn’t imagine staying through concerts of most of these bands independent of each other, with the exception of Beach House, Jana Hunter, and possibly Teeth Mountain. The avant-garde elements were accessible because of the alternating and spontaneous form. The round robin is broken up into two nights. Friday was “Eyes Night” and Saturday, “Feet Night,” a night of dance music rather than the more visual music of Friday’s show. (le) Poisson Rouge on Bleeker and Thompson provided the perfect space for this unusual event, getting it on the GL of NY music venues.

I haven’t come close to succeeding in describing this show adequately for you. The bizarre, fantastic, and insane knew no bounds. These elements were all too numerous to describe here, so let me briefly list the highlights:

Beach House: My favorite band of the evening, and the one I was most anxious to see. Read this wonderful reviewof their latest album on Pitchfork.

Lexi Mountain Boys: As I mentioned previously, somehow the orgasmic grunts and howls of this group of women (wearing headdresses of baby doll heads and black perforated veils), became increasingly rhythmic and melodic to me as the night wore on. The blast they were having, that was apparent from their infectious, genuine smiles, took any pretention out of their inexplicable music.

The female drummer from Teeth Mountain: This woman’s sexy, tribal style of drumming and the captivating music it made, blew me away. I could have listened and watched her play all night.

Santa Dads: This band consisted of three people: one man beat-boxing in a cotton, handmade tiger suit, another, wearing a red dress with a Peter Pan collar playing an electric ukelaili, and a back up dancer undulating frantically with a stuffed leopard print octopus. Enough said.

Wish I could have gone to “Feet Night” as well, to get the full Baltimore music experience, but the 92Y Tribeca opening was that night. I wouldn’t have missed if you paid me. Expect a post soon.