Archive for the talk Category

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…

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.

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.

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.