Archive for brooklyn

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

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

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

A few sample menu items include:

Bagels and Balthazar breads with spreads

Belgian Waffles

Homemade Biscuits

Omelets

Sandwiches/ Soups

Sweets: including Cupcakes and excellent pie!

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

Here is a pic of the two lovely owners:

And one of my friends, Decaf Latte and Cinnamon.

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

Back in Brooktown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Country Living

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Girlfriend Experience, Fixer, Print vs Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Dear Hasidic Waiter at Sputnik,

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

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

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

Buttermilk Channel-Super Pass

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

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

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

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

Frankies Fail

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

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

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

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

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

1. Don’t fire them

2. Don’t break up with them

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

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

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

Brooklyn Socialite on Huffington Post-Bedstuy Meadow

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

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

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Some Southerners are Awesome- my Top 5 Meets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brooklyn locavore at Full Frame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Food Inc trailer- Directed by Robert Keener

Moody from Drinking?-Rant

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

Hey Guys,

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

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

This perhaps is a watershed moment.

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

Bad Habits-Christy C. Road

Posted in Book, People of Color, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Wow, my staycation is almost over, can you believe it? I have been so busy, listening to the sounds of dogs playing with their toys and icicles slowly dripping, hell I’ve even been reading and catching up on Bad Reality TV. Expect posts to come depicting the utter cuteness of dog gloves and the trashy hellishness of The Real Housewives of (insert geographical location, Atlanta, Orange County, NYC). This is post-post feminism.

Speaking of post-feminism, I will now launch into my review of Cristy C. Road’s Bad Habits. But first, I must establish my own lack of total impartiality. 1. I have a few casual friends, who are friends with her, this certainly doesn’t make her my friend by any stretch of the Will Smith/Kevin Beacon association laws. Nevertheless, I still feel some kind of allegiance for any friend of my friends. Except for the unfortunate situation of number 2. We once met on a couch, waiting for a reading to begin at Bluestockings. I had arrived early to read and she had as well, perhaps because she was on the bill that night. I didn’t recognize her in any way (this was over a year ago, pre-mutual friends), I had just arrived back into the city and was in the Friendly Zone, so as I recall, I tried to strike up a conversation, she gave me a pretty horrified look and proceeded to ignore me.  Do I have visible lice? Or was she on an especially bad trip that day? Who knows. So the point of this very long disclaimer is, I have one reason to look kindly upon her and one to look unkindly, so let’s just say they balance each other out and I am hereby rendered impartial again!

Whew, that’s a weight off my shoulders, on to the book. Bad Habits: A Love Story is very post-post indeed. Should we be proud of  the Cristy-resembling-let’s-assume-it-is-her protagonist for being drug crazed and on a manic search for love?  Should we apply a modicum of shame?  Or should we just look-on refusing to judge her in any way whatsoever? I’m not so sure.

The book is undeniably readable, contagious, absorbing, but is it a diary, or literature? When did books stop needing to have a point or to bestow a significant degree of wisdom? Cristy’s “I” character is sex positive, great, bi-sexual, awesome really and truly, and a person of color, who likes punk music and isn’t some trite stereotype, fabulous. Still I feel like I’m peeking at her through some window of outsider vs insider fascination. Is it enough to just be a voyeur after the cool kid at school/ uncool kid at school who decided to grow up and be an asshole to everybody as a means of healing?

Road is a great illustrator and every page that  interrupts the text with image really helps to move the story along. I like reading about this particular slice of life in New York, that wades between the queer/punk/and drug scenes, especially since much of it is based in Brooklyn. As a diary it’s juicy and at times piercingly lost, in a way that many people are and can relate to. However, I wish that it would offer some insights, on her quest for love, forgetting and self-absorbed self-annihilation, does she find anything? Should we follow her, or run in the opposite direction. Perhaps the thing to do is walk by and pretend not to see her.

I love that one constant throughout the book’s journey is Christy’s love for her friends and connection to her familial/cultural roots. The narrative is lacking in direction and there are few moments of deeper truth, but in today’s trash consumption culture, where exuding a generalized sense of disconnection and apathy is the ultimate cool, Bad Habits will allow you to join in by vicariously snorting coke through your nose ring.

Staycation from Brooklyn

Posted in day off with tags , , , , , on January 5, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

So I am away, couldn’t take anymore NYC, had to get away! No, it’s not really that, I love Brooklyn, but I am doing some dog sitting in upstate New York. I am alone with 2 sweet dogs, in the country, resting, reading, eating well. My gosh I don’t even feel like an undernourished city hipster/starving artist- almost. That’s where I’m at right now! I will be back soon and in the meantime I have a few books to report back on, plus the catalogue of things I’ve been meaning to talk about. Stand by. feel the love-the storm is passing and thank God.

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 Gets Milk- Gus Van Sant’s new Film

Posted in film, Guide to What's Good, Mr Slate Honey, People of Color, politics, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Great review and thoughtful Analysis of Milk by Mr Slate Honey. Van Sant is giving a Q&A tonight at MOMA- hopefully I’ll get tickets and be able to report back tomorrow.-R

It seems everybody and their gay dads saw Gus Van Sant’s Milk as part of the Thanksgiving routine this year.  I was warned to go equipped with tissues and to be ready for problematic portrayals of the few characters of color in the film.  (Thanks lover, for the forewarning by the way.) I went prepared with a dewey heart and my critical lenses on.

I have been a committed Sean Penn fan ever since I saw Dead Man Walking when I was a little mister.  And I got on the Gus Van Sant train a bit late but his recent films Elephant, Last Days, Paranoid Park have served my grungy emo-homo skater-boy obsession very well.

Cinematographer Harris Savides and Van Sant make a great visionary team.  They previously worked together on Elephant, a film with a very precise, clean cinema verité style that transforms violence into real-time horror and renders its viewers innocent witnesses.  In Milk, Savides and Van Sant play with perspective, creating layers of consciousness for Penn’s character.  Switching perspective and cinematic style, and weaving archival footage into the film, Savides and Van Sant reveal a determined, emotional man at the center of a violent socio-political setting.  A particularly lush scene that is classic Van Sant perspective comes early on in the film.  Harvey and Scott (played by James Franco) fall in love in a soft-focus dreamscape of close movement, shot all in extreme close-ups set to the soundtrack of their tender conversation.  Gorgeousness.

Overall, Milk is very historically accurate.  Activist Cleve Jones and friend of Milk’s was on-set during production and connected Van Sant with screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who had long been preparing a manuscript. Milk serves as a good personal portrait counterpart to the 1985 documentary The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, directed by Rob Epstein.  I had the feeling watching MILK that I could trust the filmmaker team’s attention to detail and the solid sense of collaboration gave the narrative a documentary quality.

So the accuracy and detail of the film bring up a pretty big concern on the race-politics front.  I was charmed by Sean Penn’s old-school New York accent and faggy gestures, seduced by James Franco’s flirty eyes and mini handlebar moustache and increasingly worried as Josh Brolin’s character’s passive aggressive repression began to seep out.  And the constant influx of characters served well as a distraction from the tragic and narrow development of the few characters of color.

A member of Milk’s activist dream team includes an Asian man who is only referred to as Lotus Blossom despite his many appearances.  Random folks of color magically appear in the crowd every time Milk gets a further push forward in the political machine.  During an acceptance speech near the climax of the film, a black woman with a classic 70s look complete with afro smiles enthusiastically behind Harvey.  She promptly disappears behind a shower of balloons as soon as Harvey wraps up his speech.

Leaving the theatre, my mom suggested that the race politics of the film merely mirrored the San Francisco scene in the 1970s.  There just weren’t that many people of color, she argued.  And there were barely any women in the film, she added.  Historical accuracy?  (And, I might add, how much has the San Francisco gay scene departed from a mostly white gay male playground thirty years later?)

The seldom appearance of people of color is one thing.  I suppose you can reason this with some argument about accuracy.  What is more troubling is the passiveness of the characters of color.  Black and Asian extras dot the activist scenes, always with their thumbs in the air and big smiles.  Lotus Blossom doesn’t seem to wince at his nickname.  And finally, Jack, the one Latino character that makes it on-screen for more than thirty seconds is portrayed as an irrational, mentally unstable, co-dependent, infantile wifey.  Jack’s tragedy becomes expected and you can almost hear the characters whispering under their breath “She brought it on herself.” This is fodder for post-colonial theory.

So my warnings were well-heeded.  In the end, I cried like a baby, just as hard as I cried when I watched ‘The Life and Times of Harvey Milk’.  I left the theatre thinking about the fearless work of an older generation of queer activists that laid some ground for young folks to make demands relevant to what it means to be queer and fight for rights today.  I also left thinking about how race politics have systematically been swept under the rug by a white gay and lesbian rights movement in the 70s.  I thought about what work that has left contemporary queer activists of color.  And how truly far-thinking activists never get comfortable and only keep pushing and questioning.  Finally, making my way out of the city back to Brooklyn, I meditated on queer love as freedom, queer survival as civil rights, and a beautiful fearlessness that comes naturally to us.