Archive for October, 2008

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.