Archive for December, 2008

“Silent Light”- Review by Slate Honey

Posted in film, Mr Slate Honey with tags , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Carlos Reygadas’ ‘Silent Light’ (Stellet Licht) is a film that takes it time, carefully and with extreme poise.  Set in a Mennonite community in Northern Mexico that established its roots after WWI, ‘Silent Light’ employs the extraordinary beauty of wide rural landscapes and the rigid and quiet gestures of the Mennonites to tell a story about yearning, love and hurt.

Johan (played by Cornelio Wall Fehr) is a soft-hearted man who grapples with betraying his wife Esther (Miriam Toews) and family in his love affair with Marianne (Maria Pankratz), the woman he knows to be his heart’s true match.  The films opens with a stunning time-lapse shot that magically feels merely like an ever so gradual tilt from a black star-filled sky to a flattened horizon filling with orange light and the wild sounds of morning.  We are drawn slowly to a house where an old clock ticks loudly on the wall.  In total silence and stillness, a thin, pale and blonde family prays before their morning meal.  Johan opens his eyes to look at his wife Esther.  A moment passes.  Esther opens her eyes to look at Johan who has now closed his eyes.

The finesse of ‘Silent Light’ lies in the balance between muted emotions and erratic bursts of deep, piercing expressions handled gracefully by the largely non-actor cast.  There is a tension that lies sharp under an thick layer of peaceful-looking stoicism among the three main characters.  When each of the three bursts open, however, their pain is all too real.

Alexis Zabé’s cinematography is decadent.  Shallow focus often puts the viewer uncomfortably close to the characters, their low whispery voices resonating loudly, their odd and awkward features magnified. Characters walk out of frame or only take up only part of the frame and Zabé leaves us lingering in this negative space, among gorgeous detail whose silence speaks loudly.  The perfectly timed camera movement is extraordinarily graceful and is a pleasure to watch.  There are dozens of unbearably beautiful moments in this film thanks to Zabé’s daring style.  Zabé and Reygadas together pull the viewer into a totally self-contained world where supernatural rural beauty mirrors complex emotional landscapes; where pain lies in honesty, honesty cannot divorce itself from love, and love necessarily trembles from fear of loss.

In the end, a magical realist finale subverts tragedy as a gesture of pure love on Marianne’s part brings Johan and Esther back to one another.  The camera turns back to the sky in a last time-lapse shot almost rendering this stark Mennonite microcosm a dream-like vision from a planet far away.

It is no wonder ‘Silent Light’ won the Jury Prize at Cannes among two dozen other awards.  It takes some patience–or at least a deep breath and commitment to getting comfortable–to absorb ‘Silent Light’.  And that commitment is the beauty of great cinéma.  ‘Silent Light’ is well worth it.  See it at the Film Forum from January 7th to the 20th.

Survived Christmas-just barely

Posted in day off, film, Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Forever the Grinch, this particular season of holidays naturally gets me down in a massive way, yet this time I managed to survive my negativity and bad past associations, (barring a few teary outbreaks) with a modicum of composure and some good old fashioned cheer. I spent the eve with French ex-pats, just my style, failing miserably at veganism, I had an excellent foie gras, oyster, salmon, cheese etc meal avec plenty of wine.  As I spent the Christmas eve in an airport in Paris last year on zero sleep and loads of impatience after my flight was delayed for 24 hours, this year served as an entirely more comfortable trip down memory lane. Speaking French in a “cheer” infused manner, is much more fun than violently arguing with apathetic airport employees in that language.

I spent Christmas rather contentedly in bed. Then I went to another orphan dinner at a gorgeous duplex inside an unsuspecting apt building on Jane st. Cinderella for a few hours, soon the clock struck midnight and it was time to return to the hood. Next day, I regrettably scheduled some family time in and saw Benjamin Button and ate at 10 Downing st with my mother. The highlight of the evening was clearly 10 Downing st…will talk more about this later. The new Brad Pitt movie on the other hand just goes to show that after a while talented actors, who are paid too much money, just morph into big fat losers.

The next day, i woke up sick. Just when I thought I had survived cheer week with a sufficient amount of “Spirit” I remembered that the fates were not done mocking me. Now it seems that in addition to being sick, I have put my back out again! All I want for Christmas is a free massage and a private jacuzzi. I hope your holidays were better than mine!

“Family” Planning- Irene Tung on Queer life in China

Posted in People of Color, politics, queer with tags , , , , , , on December 26, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

This Article was written by Irene about her very interesting recent trip to China.

Dou Dou and Feng, a Chinese lesbian couple from the city of Shenyang in Northeast China, plan to have a baby together.  However, they have no intention of ever coming out to their parents.

I met them this October at a lesbian, bi and trans organizing training in Anshan in the Liaoning province of China where I was helping to conduct workshops on global LGBT history and organizational development.  Feng and Dou Dou (pronounced DOUGH-dough), both 23, created and maintain a popular web-based bulletin board that provides information and on-line counseling to Chinese lesbians. They were among activists from throughout Northeast China who attended the training.

Over breakfast one day, I asked Dou Dou and Feng, who requested to be identified only by their nicknames, about their plans for the future. They have been together for several years and have decided not to come out to their families. Instead, Feng plans to arrange a fake marriage with a gay male friend.  They will hold an elaborate wedding with friends and extended family, buy property together and live together. Dou Dou will stay “single”.  Feng and her gay friend will stay in their queer relationships, but maintain the facade of a heterosexual married lifestyle to their families. Dou Dou and Feng are both only children, as per China’s one child policy. They are part of a generation of children, born after the policy was enacted in 1979, who are facing severe pressure from their families to marry as they enter their mid-to-late twenties. Many are considering fake marriages, a practice which has created tremendous controversy in the Chinese queer community. Some see it as selling out, while others counter that the pressure from their family is too strong for them to bear.

When I asked Feng and Dou Dou about having children, they said that they definitely plan to have a child within the fake marriage arrangement.  The child would bear the gay man’s surname. It would call Feng, “mom”, the gay friend, “dad”, and Dou Dou, “godmother”.  But Dou Dou says she would still consider it her child. They say they wouldn’t tell the child the truth about the fake marriage until he or she becomes a teenager. Both of them see it as the only viable way for them to raise a child together.

One evening during dinner with other conference participants, someone asked if my partner and I plan to have kids.  I had traveled to China with my partner, who is Irish-Italian from South Jersey.  We answered that we were unsure, but that it was a possibility.  At that point, the three young gay men at the table literally jumped out of their chairs in their enthusiasm to volunteer themselves as sperm donors. We were a little taken aback, not quite sure what to make of it. It became clear very quickly however that they were only interested in providing sperm to inseminate my white partner, and not me. In response to their offers, we poured another round of drinks and told them we would think about it.

It turns out that Chinese people are obsessed with biracial, hapa babies. I spoke with several people in China who believe that hapa children are not only more beautiful, but also more intelligent. In Beijing, I met one couple that is actively seeking a white sperm donor.

Some lesbian couples in China who–unlike Feng and Dou Dou–are out to their families, hope to raise children together as openly queer parents.  Couples seeking to do so face significant legal and cultural obstacles. The Chinese government has actively opposed LGBT couples raising children. In 2006, it banned adoption of Chinese children by foreign gay couples, citing a stipulation that adoptive couples must be “healthy”. Also, unmarried women are not officially allowed to buy sperm from authorized sperm banks in China.

While the act of homosexuality is decriminalized in China, activists have recently reported an increase in surveillance, raids and arrests of people involved in queer organizing activities, especially in the period leading up to the Olympic Games this past summer.  Despite these challenges, the movement is growing in strength.  This November, following the training in Anshan and similar events in other cities, the first national alliance of lesbian, bi and trans organizations, representing thousands of members, was formalized in Shanghai. (Support their efforts!)

An amazing break dancing performance by two teenage trans boys at the closing ceremony of the conference in Anshan.

An amazing break dancing performance by two teenage trans boys at the closing ceremony of the conference in Anshan.

photo from one of the panel discussions. The banner reads, “2008 Lesbian Camp, Lesbian Networking, Anshan”

photo from one of the panel discussions. The banner reads, “2008 Lesbian Camp, Lesbian Networking, Anshan”

Ming Ming, from Beijing, wearing a t-shirt that says, “We demand to watch homosexual movies.”  The t-shirts were created as part of an anti-censorship campaign to respond to the Chinese government’s ban of all films that refer to LGBT themes.

Ming Ming, from Beijing, wearing a t-shirt that says, “We demand to watch homosexual movies.” The t-shirts were created as part of an anti-censorship campaign to respond to the Chinese government’s ban of all films that refer to LGBT themes.

VU Photos Continued

Posted in art, day off with tags , , , , , , , on December 24, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

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Hey loves, more VU pictures. I promise you words tomorrow, had a bit of a busy day today. It seems that when every one else is sleeping I’m awake, and when everyone else is on vaycay, I’m working! Ah, such is life, rent day comes as often as the full moon. Speak soon!

Soltace, Hanuka, Christmas…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

As fun as pictures are, for those of you who may be missing my voice, I’m back. Just want to offer up some holiday well-wishes in the season of giving and forgiving and receiving and new leafs and resolutions, dark days and ETC. Yesterday, I celebrated soltace with a couple of good friends, and the darkest day of the year, although at first quite tragic, ended up feeling pretty revelatory. On the advice of our Soltace expert friend, we conducted a little ceremony to cleanse the old and bring in the new. Like ashes scattered to sea, we grabbed the tray from the toaster oven, ripped some scraps out of my sketch pad and made a very mini-bonfire out of bad memories past, and the things that were holding us down and back, from last year. Duly cleansed, we were able to then imagine the growth and the joy that we are definitely going to let in during this new year. I hope your simple ceremonies are as blessed. If your celebrating the holidays with family, please don’t break down, have fun, laugh it off, and if you are chilling with city orphans/chosen family, eat another latke for me, enjoy your vegan turkey, and watch that Christmas pudding catch on fire, with a little soltace glow left  in your eye!

VU Photos

Posted in art, day off with tags , , , , , , on December 21, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Hello World,

Since I’m so much enjoying silence these days and loving pictures too…here are some shots of Voluntary Ugliness as promised. They are vintage if you will, culled from my  mis-guided summer jaunt over to the Oregon County Fair!

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This kid was really cute though…

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I promise to start talking again soon!

Christmas Photos

Posted in art, day off with tags , , , , , , on December 20, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

I want to start share some photos.

What’s this?

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oh, it’s a cop car covered in snow. But wait, look closer, what does it say?

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That’s right kids, it says, Fuck You! Finally someone is appropriately getting into the holiday cheer. Now I know I’m not alone.

Day Off

Posted in day off with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Hello faithful Brooklyn Socialites,

Things that I want to talk about include

1. The final Happy Endings Reading Series that I attended last night

2. a production of The Colonial Nutcracker , which I caught on Sunday

3.More on Chocolate, the Gym, La Esquina, 8th St Wine Bar, and how I hate holidays

But for now, I just wanted to post-announce my day off. Yes I have been MIA for the past 24 hours planning my next yellow-color combo outfit, hedging my bets on whether it will snow or be 65 degrees, spending time with people in (I know this is crazy) but actual real-time physical space, and daring to feel a little peaceful. This week I have been threatening all my friends with my potentially serious plans to become a Vegan. Last week I was threatening to become a go-go dancer, so apply whatever amount of doubt to this claim that you feel is appropriate.  The week before I had deputized myself to police VU. Next week i will threaten to be a movie actor, so if you have a role for me, please let me know! Perhaps its best to harness these whims as quickly as possible.

So goodnight, and dream well. Tell me what your threatening to be on this eve of the new year!

The Garden, Esperanza Friends

Posted in film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Tonight was one of those nights were I didn’t really feel like like going out, it meant ditching the pjs, leaving Brooklyn and facing the snow. Still, I had the feeling that Stranger than Fiction was the right place for me to be, so I bucked up and faced the elements. It turned out to be another beautiful STF night, and I’m so glad that I made it. I was greeted by the wonderful Raphaela Neihausen, Executve Director of STF, then I purchased IFC’s yum organic popcorn, with butter, and found my way to my seat.

The film, The Garden, was about the intense struggle by nearly 400 families to save the huge community garden/farm, located in South Central LA that had been given to them by the city in the wake of the LA riots. In order to quell tensions that flared up after Rodney King’s police assailants were acquitted, the city gave the land to the community for use as a community garden. Ten years later, the city decided to take it back, or rather claim that they did not indeed own it, and that it instead belonged to the previous owner, a greedy developer, that had had his property seized by the city under imminent domain. Back in the early 90’s he was paid 5 million for the land, then for some unexplainable reason, in the early 2000’s the city sold it back to him for the same price. Now you don’t have to be an economics major or even a graduate of the 7th grade for that matter to understand that after ten years of inflation, there is no way that the value of the property had not risen at all in over ten years. Quite to the contrary property in South Central has become increasingly desirable to developers and new residents.

The film tracks the development of the Latino community gardener’s struggle to advocate for themselves and win the right to keep their garden, in fact the largest community garden in the United States. I won’t tell you whether or not they succeeded, you will have to see the film to find out (or google it, but do the former first)!  I highly recommend it as a valuable record of people’s history and as compelling cinema. Interview with the director to come!

But wait, the night gets better. After STF the whole audience was invited to 99 Below on MacDougal street for a free drink with ticket stub and a chance to mingle with the director, Scott Hamilton Kennedy. Scott was very friendly and approachable. He was joined by representatives from Silver Docs, a great documentary film festival, which takes place in DC each year, the  director of Trembling Before G-d, Sandi DuBowski, and unrelatedly, the chocolatiers behind Living Love organic raw chocolate. The chocolate chefs were kind enough to offer me several samples of their awesome chocolates, which perhaps explains why I am still so chipper, typing away at 4am.

I should really sleep, but before I do, I have to conclude that what really put the icing on the cake of this being a great night was that I ran into some really good old friends from my days of garden activism in NYC some 7-8 years ago. Aresh of More Gardens continues his stand-up work, while Ben has extended his commitment to South Bronx gardens, to also include a Victory Gardens style farm upstate, where he grows vegetables and herbs which he can then distribute to communities in poor NYC neighborhoods and also sell at farmers markets to benefit political prisoners. This model has been successful for VG and is showing a lot of promise for Ben’s farm as well.

Yay! and goodnight.

Treadmill

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 16, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

When I started this blog, almost 3 months ago, it was after having a vision of myself on a treadmill. Now it has actually happened! 3 month later. Twice in the same week, I have found my self at the warm shiny place, affectionately known as “The Gym.” There were several things that kept me away from the gym thus far…1.You can’t wear your pajamas there without being mildly embarrassed, especially if your pajamas, like mine, are flannel and in the style of an old man. 2 Going there, may make you feel healthy and encourage you to give up your new-found writerly ways, (ie. late nights, pash sessions, large quantities of alcohol and etc) [I am always torn between fashioning myself after the archetypal French writer (don’t ask why) and the yoga, smoothie, vegan chic aesthetic that I have dabbled in, during previous years.] ok 3. People who you don’t want scoping you out (naked) like middle aged janitorettes and overly friendly sauna-mates, will inevitably scope you out, leaving you with no choice but to politely “pretend not to notice”. and 4. the danger always exists, that one day, running on the treadmill enthusiastically to Chaka Kahn, you may confuse yourself with Bridget Jones, or worse, one of the lame normal people you secretly mock(!)… The bottom line is that the treadmill just doesn’t seem cool.

Oh but it is. Feeling healthy and fit is all the rage right now and I have to admit, I already feel better. I miss yoga and smoothies and I’m going to have to find some middle ground. Being a workaholic/something else aholic is going to have to back down and make some space for a happy holistic lifestyle goddamit!

Quantum of Solace

Posted in film, opera, People of Color with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Wow, first of all what is up with filmic references to Tosca, after the scene in Milk, where Harvey Milk attends a performance of Tosca and then dies flashing back to it, while starring at the Tosca banner advertisement on the San Fransisco Opera House, visible outside of his window. A man who played in the real performance that Harvey attended 30 years ago, and 2 days before he died, had this to say about it. Strange coincidence, now I really want to see Tosca, being as it is that I have become quite the budding young opera fan as of late! Really. I swear the funny thing about high art vs low art is that there are so many striking similarities, in terms of plot and design. Although the music at the Opera tends to be far better than the suspenseful elevator tunes, which are used to score soap operas, as I remember from watching after school at a friend’s house, the drama in Passions was not that different from the conflict in Tristan und Isolde (the last Opera that I attended.)

Strange coincidence aside,  the Tosca scene was definitely one of the highlight of the latest James Bond incarnation. Don’t ask me to explain the tittle, because it really makes no sense to me, but this is what happens in the film: Bond, meets a Bolivian agent, who has been trying to infiltrate her way to the man who killed her father, raped her mother and sister, and left a burn scar on her back. He is a Bolivian military leader, who overthrew the previous dictatorship, which her father was a leading member of. Bond crosses paths with her on his mission to track down a secret crime organization, which is working against the British secret service and with a man named Greene, who is essentially a water pirate, posing as an environmentalist. Greene, buys up the natural water supply in countries like Bolivia, and then sells it back to the people at astronomical prices. He is willing to install any government that will allow him to do so, and he gets the American government on side, by promising them imaginary oil stores. The best thing about this plot is that it is so now, so reality! I mean, yes, several details have been changed to ensure dramatic sex and fight scenes, but the Bolivian water crisis is pretty real, and American oil greed, I don’t know how they thought of that one!

I also really appreciated the reference to Alice in Wonderland, “This one will make you taller, this one will make you…” However, I am a little confused by the fact that the Bolivian vixen is played by a Ukranian actress, would it hurt to cast a real live person of color? Jeffery Wright is in the film though, one point in their favor. He’s a great actor and I’m glad to see him in more than one currently released Hollywood film. He’s getting almost as much airtime as Tosca!

Soda Bar

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 14, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Soda bar is straight out of A Different Strokes, your every local, Brooklyn, Ace for Diversity- bar. It attracts a mixed, mostly straight crowd, and they have DJs and events on certain nights. The snug couch set-up is perfect for de-briefs with friends and impromptu dancing.

The Joys of Public Transport

Posted in People of Color with tags , , , , , , on December 13, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

I wanted to share this little moment with you. I am on a bus in Bed Stuy, wobbling my way to Greenpoint on blue plastic seats. There are several copies of AM New York strewn about the floor, with headlines blaring “Depression”. This is the life! South by South dialogue amounts to taking the bus up and down brook-town x

Slate Honey, Novice Theorey

Posted in Mr Slate Honey, Music, People of Color, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

By Slate Honey

My favorite musical experiences are ones that feel like lucid dreaming.  The one-person band Novice Theory has quickly found a choice spot on my list of vision-inspiring.  I sink into self-reflective hallucinations somewhere in the curves of songwriter Geo’s grandiose melodic piano-playing, pulled deeper in by his heartbreakingly sharp, lyrical narratives.  I saw Novice Theory live for the first time at Joe’s Pub last night.

This morning, I woke up to flashes of dreams still fresh on my mind.  In one, I braided my miraculously-grown long curls.  In another, my mother and I had a love-affair breakdown in a restaurant in Chinatown.  Lying in bed, two lines from a Kate Bush cover performed the night before looped in my head.  I hummed it over and over again on my walk to work.  I couldn’t kick the tune all day… but I didn’t really want to.

I often lose touch with my own tenderness in dealing with complicated questions of identity.  It’s easier for me to turn to political and overly-intellectual language to make sense of the daily experiences of gender-queer and racially-othered bodies in this wide world.  Novice Theory takes on these questions on an emotionally bare level.  Sometimes pounding and other times caressing the keys of a grand piano, Geo works out so much in his music.  He labors through intensity and honesty with a crafted precision.  Novice Theory mixes together classical and folk tones, a tender darkness, cutting humor and an entrancing theatrical sound.  Experiences most difficult to process somehow become easy to listen to in the candid and lavish storytelling–or maybe just graspable, simply distilled to rich and vivid imagery.

Yes Man, Dance Class Contessa

Posted in film, Party with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

On the list of things that I want to blog about, but sometimes get distracted from, or avoid out of fear of never sleeping, drinking too much coffee and missing my train tomorrow to upstate New York are:

Yes Man- the new Jim Carey Film and

Dance Class, Contessa’s 25th birthday party at Webster Hall.

Let’s begin, quick before fear gets the better of me…The trailer:

Yes Man was pretty f-ing funny. That means either a lot coming from me, or very little. As it is, that I rarely expose myself to abject humor, preferring the darker, documentary style film, I may not be the best person to judge funny mainstream movies. That said, I did enjoy it. It was kind of a cross between Magnolia,  The Montel Williams Show and every other Jim Carrey film ever made. He definitely pulled a lot of faces that I recal from The Mask. Kiwi actor, Rhys Darby, from the Flight Of the Concords was hysterical and Zooey Deschanel was super cute. Plus the songs that her band inside the film play are classic, probably the best part of the movie. They are about things like people respecting the limit on times they are allowed to call, and the guy that she hates becuase he called after 11pm. I guess I wasn’t expecting much from the director of Bring it On, but as a vapid-comedy starved individual, when faced with slapstick and overly simplistic jokes, I will laugh, and I did.

Moving on. Mama Contessa, impresario, dancer, Bed Stuy fashion plate and so much more is celebrating her 25th Birthday at Webster hall tomorrow night after 10pm. DJ prince Terrence is spinning, new pop will be snapping away, go-gos doing their thing, Theophilus London will perform and I’ll be there!x

Check the poster:

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