Archive for Guide to What’s Good

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.

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 Socialite, Comfort, Emily Gould

Posted in Food, Guide to What's Good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Failing at the tittle of Socialite, this is one of those terms that people clearly don’t want to understand when paired with the word Brooklyn, so sadly instead of them getting it, I hear a lot of:  “but your not a socialite.” “You don’t have a millionaire dad or live uptown.” “You don’t even wear nice dresses that often.”

All true. Astute observations, but the point is that I’m reclaiming the term! And subverting its meaning, so until you really think about it, please clear your palate of ‘the hate.’ I will no longer feel obliged to regale you with news of my social goings on about town, except when I feel compelled, but rest assured, I’m still going out, culture lives on, but I’m getting a bit tired of the report backs. My picks for the week though, ( preview style and all) are centered around comfort food. Why is this? Well I’m in need of some comfort. Go to Char #4 for homemade biscuits and bacon or make your own. Trust me this is a really good recipe, I’ve made them twice now! For dessert, go old school and combine original toll house cookie dough with Green and Black’s Organic chocolate ice cream. Or if your in Brooklyn like I am, go to Blue Marble. They make possibly the best vanilla I have ever had. In a rare candid moment (that’s now) I am sharing with you a picture of the actual me, eating the real deal ice cream….

img_0453Amazing right? I especially love how the cupcakes on my shirt match my activity. Alright one more comfort food tip, dumplings at Wild Ginger, not bootleg dumplings at the sweet yet overpriced vegan place next to Bluestockings, where you bought a zine and then left it there ’cause you were so distracted rushing off to a Battlestar Gallactica panel with Woopi Goldberg at the UN (who’s the socialite now.)

Any way, that sort of run on sentencing although generally unacceptable is just fine in Socialite world, I know this because I have been catching up on socialite scandals via The City, New York Mag, Socialite Rank, Gawker and yes this long line of Internet  “research” led me back to Emily Gould. I first heard about Emily nearly a year ago at a Gawker drinks night, the new-mediarati had gathered in spades and the gossip was circulating. I felt a little bit like I had to pretend I knew about the people being discussed just to join the convo, the result of my bout of humoring was a long tirade from a smoking man, which could of been summed up in a short, simple “leave Britney alone” type whine, except insert Emily where Brittney is. I was intrigued, the Times article. about her fall from Blog queendom to bad Pr target, had just come out, so I read it without realizing that she had been part of Gawker and that a CNN newscaster had accused her of aiding real life stalkers by working as  an editor of Gawker Stalker.

Now my google journey led me back to her, and here are some of my thoughts  about what happened… 1 why was she blamed  for the job she did on behalf of a male-dominated company that was founded on the principle of cutting gossip. That’s what Gawker is, it wasn’t her unique and evil conspiracy. 2 Reading her blog today, gave me the feeling that  perhaps she is one of us, the Brooklyn Socialites, a culture lover on a street covered in discarded chicken wings, a risk taker, a ghetto superstar? Ok I’m kidding a little bit here, but I do think that opinionated, outspoken women deserve a place in our media. I’m not saying that bad-mouthing people is alright, but its not ok to bully her either.

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The writers from Tongues Afire are about to set Brooklyn a-glow

Posted in Guide to What's Good, Mr Slate Honey, People of Color, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

By Mr Slate Honey

This year’s members of the creative writing workshop for queer women, trans and gender-non conforming people of color will be presenting new works in two readings.  Common Grounds, the cozy Bed-Stuy cafe at 376 Tompkins Ave, will be hosting the first on Saturday December 6th at 7pm.  Later in the week, The Audre Lorde Project, sponsor to the group, will be hosting the second reading on Thursday December 11th at 85 South Oxford Street at 6:30 pm.  Both events are free and open to the public.

Be sure not to miss these.  Excellent artists pass through this workshop and judging from friends who have been in it or who will be reading, I can assure you that it will not disappoint even the most fine-tuned ear. For more information about Tongues Afire and applying to the workshop, contact tonguesafire@gmail.com

Milk, Gus Van Sant Q&A

Posted in film, Guide to What's Good, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

It’s hard to see it, but that, my friends, is a picture of Gus Van Sant. The Q&A was almost as teary as the film itself with testimonials: from a queer youth who thanked Van Sant for his film-making as activism and from the director of the Hetrick Martin Institute on behalf of his students at the Harvey Milk School. Lessin and Deal the directors of Trouble the Water were also in the house as well as a good crew of Bedstuy qpocs. Unpacking the film with them afterwards was one of the highlights of the night. We all agreed that it was a great Hollywood biopic. Although we loved experimental Van Sant in many of his earlier art house films, we thought that this format and budget were appropriate as a showcase for Milk’s life story. Slate Honey’s previous observation on the problematic portrayal of people of color, was indeed confirmed. However, Van Sant mentioned that many of the people depicted in the film were on set consulting during most of the filming, including the Asian man, who is referred to in the film as Lotus Blossom ( Find out where they are now). Still, I was kind of floored by Jack’s portrayal, it did feel somewhat superficial and unsympathetic. Overall though, I remain highly impressed by Van Sant’s cinematic mastery. If you squint you might be able to detect in my iPhone photo that Van Sant is suitably chill in his down to earth jeans, red sneakers and green socks. He was equally approachable and laid back after the Q & A as he happily talked one on one to folks from the audience. Thanks for putting me on the press list after all MOMA! Bloggers are tops!

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.

Trouble the Water Tonight at BAM

Posted in film, Guide to What's Good, People of Color with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

I can’t rave about Trouble the Water enough. I have been on the journey with this film for several months. From the time that I first saw it until now, interviewing the filmmakers somewhere in between, writing an article about them and the film…let’s just say I am on the boat for the long haul with this one.

If you are in the New York City area, come to one of my favorite gem spots, The Brooklyn Academy of Music for either the 4:30, 6:50 or 9:30 screening.

This is what NY Mag and BAM have to say about the film:

Trouble the Water is ineradicably moving.” —New York Magazine

“Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, this astonishingly powerful documentary takes you inside Hurricane Katrina in a way never before seen on screen. Brooklyn-based filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal tell the story of an aspiring rap artist and her husband, trapped in New Orleans by deadly floodwaters, who survive the storm and then seize a chance for a new beginning” BAM website

This is the beginning of what I said about it:

The human spirit, all toughness aside could not withstand this movie without tears of empathy, regret, boiling anger, growing conviction and then the commitment to respond. This feeling of good will, fueled by a desire to help, is something that filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal consistently refer to as what motivated them to bring their cameras to the gold coast and begin what would become, Trouble the Water. Long time collaborators with Michael Moore,  they experienced a similar impetus towards action after 9/11. Turning their cameras outwards towards their own Brooklyn neighborhood, they made a compelling short about the backlash of racism and unjust deportations which affected many Muslims at the time.  More

See it for the first time, see it again. Then talk about it with your friends, send me comments, see Spike Lee’s Katrina doco, remember that New Orleans is still in crisis.

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