12/08/16 12:35pm

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“New York used to be the city that never sleeps,” Penny Arcade, downtown performance legend, begins Longing Lasts Longer, her latest one-woman show now at St. Ann’s Warehouse, “now it’s the city that can’t wake up.”

This is not another nostalgic ode to a lost New York, cobblestones and cast iron paved over by concrete, glass and steel. Longing Lasts Longer is a mix of memoir, stand-up comedy, and cultural critique that hooks you in with stories about Warhol superstar Brigid Berlin’s penchant for running around Max’s Kansas City with a needle full of speed, just waiting for a victim. Then, once she’s got your attention, Penny will casually drop truths like: “There is a gentrification that happens to neighborhoods and cities. But there is also a gentrification that happens to ideas.” (more…)

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11/08/16 11:48am

Hillary Clinton may be the latest woman from New York to seek an office in the White House, but she is not the first. Shirley Chisholm and Geraldine Ferraro, both New Yorkers, made their own cracks in the political glass ceiling. As we head to the polls today, fingers crossed and nails bitten, some wearing white in suffragette solidarity, let’s take a moment to look back at the powerful women who came before Clinton.

Chisholm and Ferraro were as different as two Democrats from New York City could be. “As fierce of a progressive and critic of the system as Shirley Chisholm was, Geraldine Ferraro was a total apparatchik. She made her way up by being a machine pol,” Amy Schiller, a political commentator and CUNY doctoral student teaching a class on women in American politics at Brooklyn College this semester, told me in a phone call.

Shirley Chisholm, 1972 

In 1968 Chisholm became the first black woman elected to Congress. She was a progressive Brooklynite who championed expansion of social services, education, and immigrant rights and used that momentum to make a presidential run in 1972. She focused on housing as the key to confronting economic inequality and championed bills to expand childcare for families, for immigrant rights, quality education, free school lunches, and consumer protection. She was, as her brilliantly direct campaign put it, “Unbought and Unbossed.” (Her memoir and a documentary about her run for president both use the slogan as a title–consider watching the latter if the returns get to be too much tonight.)

As Smithsonian Magazine pointed out in an article from last spring, “She was one of only 19 Representatives willing to hold hearings on the Vietnam War. And she was a founding member of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Women’s Caucus.” She sounds like everything serious progressives want in a candidate. So why don’t we remember her? (more…)

10/25/16 8:59am
Photo: New Women's Space

Photo: New Women Space

“I feel different when I’m in a room of all women,” says Melissa Wong, co-founder of New Women Space, sitting with Sandra Hong, her co-founder, in the light-filled East Williamsburg storefront they’ve dedicated to female empowerment.

The 2100-square-foot, bi-level space is calming and minimalist with plants and comfortable couches and sunshine streaming in the floor-to-ceiling windows. New Women Space offers events and workshops, each affordably priced at $10-$50, focusing on a variety of topics ranging from yoga to comedy nights to financial and career advice to collaging and other creative projects. It is, as the founders put it, “a space for women to define.”

The idea of physical spaces specifically for women is having a moment in 2016. The Wing, a women’s only social club and co-working space, is now holding court in the Flatiron District. It may also be all over your Instagram feed, too, thanks to the PR wizardry of co-founders Lauren Kassan, who previously worked for Class Pass and Audrey Gelman, a communications specialist who helped NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer appeal to a broad audience.

In Washington, D.C. and California, there’s the Hera Club, a women’s-only co-working space and business accelerator. The Wing is application-based, and those who are accepted must pay the $185 membership fee, and the Hera Club’s membership plans vary by location, but can run anywhere from $89 per month to nearly $500 depending on the size of the office space required.

There’s a considerably lower barrier to entry at New Women Space. The only application process required is for instructors and potential event organizers. Anyone who wants to attend an event needs only to pay an admission fee that’s often as low as $10. “We are here for women of all experiences,” Wong emphasizes.

New Women Space also defines itself as “gender expansive,” meaning that men, and all gender identities, are allowed at all events unless otherwise specified. “We want men to be a part of the conversation,” says Wong. “But we do want all the content providers/project cultivators to be women since that is the audience we are particularly concerned with providing support for.” (more…)

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10/20/16 12:07pm

win_feminism_reductress“Should I be planning a funeral for my sense of humor?” I wondered during the second presidential debate, as Donald Trump loomed behind Hillary Clinton and then threatened to have her jailed. I should have been laughing at my friend’s Jaws jokes, but instead I climbed underneath the bar, hugging my wine and wishing for Xanax. Before I started sitting shiva for my laughter, however, I remembered that amid the steady stream of alt-right memes and clips of Trump telling Billy Bush exactly where he likes to grab women, the internet also provides escapes from the political melee swirling around us. Reductress is one of the best ports in the storm.

Billing itself as “the first and only satirical women’s website,” Reductress, which launched in 2013, applies its simultaneously absurdist and biting humor to the conflicting streams of advice thrown at women on a regular basis. It’s that balance that makes the site worth returning to. Plenty of writers are as precise and cutting, and others just as wacky and absurd, but it’s the blend that makes Reductress stand out. Their targets include not only the mainstream women’s magazines (parodies of which are low-hanging fruit at this point), but the personal essay industrial complex, make-up blogs, and corporate attempts to cash in on feminism. The articles have an Onion-like sensibility (“Danielle Doesn’t Usually Post on Facebook, But This Is Important“), but with a keen ability to mock the tone and format of so much of women’s media (“I’m Not a Basic Bitch. I’m a Boring Woman.“).  Other must-reads include make-up tips from clowns (“foundation, foundation, foundation”), and my current favorite: “100 Acts of Self Care That Still Won’t Be Enough to Get You Through The Election.

After three years of eliciting laughs, groans, and knowing sighs from their readers, founders Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo are gifting readers with Reductress’s first book, How To Win at Feminism: A Guide to Having it All (And Then Some), out next week on Oct. 25, with a launch party at powerHouse Arena in DUMBO that evening. Editors Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo told me that they’d been interested in writing a book from the beginning, but feminism’s ever-increasing mainstream acceptance (or co-option) was the inspiration for chapters like “How to do more with 33 cents less” and “The nine circles of hell for women who don’t help other women.”

I chatted with founders Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo over email about the book, the site, and staying both funny and sane even when current events are making it harder than ever. (more…)

10/11/16 10:34am
Lost man creek

A forest has taken root in Downtown Brooklyn. Photo: Ilana Novick

New Yorkers used to brag about their aversion to nature. Frank O’Hara’s lines from Meditations in an Emergency, “I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life,” our rallying cry. Somewhere between the deportation of porn theaters and the arrival of rock climbing gyms, however, New Yorkers have become consumed with a desire for greenery and wide open spaces, it seems.

If you long for camping trips in the Adirondacks, but lack the time, or you’d like your foliage with a side of installation art, head to MetroTech Commons for Spencer Finch’s Lost Man Creek in Downtown Brooklyn. (more…)

09/27/16 9:32am
A protestor holds a sign at a Concord, New Hampshire city council meeting. Courtesy of VANISH Films.

A protestor holds a sign at a Concord, New Hampshire city council meeting. Courtesy of VANISH Films.

If it wasn’t for the strip mall parking lots in the background, it would be easy to mistake Missouri for Mosul in the opening shots of Do Not Resist, Craig Atkinson’s, infuriating and important documentary investigating the militarization of American law enforcement.

The film opens on Friday, Sept. 30 at Film Forum, and feels incredibly timely in the wake of the deaths of Terence Crutcher and Keith Scott last week at the hands of police officers, and the police response to protests in Charlotte where Scott was killed. While Do Not Resist screened as part of the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year, and at the Nitehawk in July followed by a Q&A with Atkinson, this is the first extended run for the film in New York City. (more…)

09/13/16 10:33am

cocksucker-blues

“Robert Frank isn’t that interested in satisfying your expectations as a viewer,” said Anthony DeCurtis, veteran music journalist and professional Rolling Stones fan. Frank’s 1973 documentary Cocksucker Blues features what DeCurtis calls “the strongest version” of the band, touring to promote Exile on Main Street and “playing their asses off.”

It’s also a movie few people have seen.

Under the terms of a settlement between Frank and the Stones, the film, which was never officially released, can only be shown four times a year. BAM snagged two of those spots for 2016, with screenings on September 22. (While both shows are sold out, but BAM assured us that there will be standby tickets released before each screening.)

Cocksucker Blues follows the Stones on their 1972 tour for Exile on Main Street. It was supposed to be the chronicle of a comeback, the first time the band had returned to the U.S. after the disaster that was Altamont in 1969, and they hired Frank, embedding him backstage, in hotel rooms and on their tour plane, to create a documentary along the way.

Needless to say they were not pleased with Frank’s final cut.

The finished product depicts heavy drug use and sex, including Mick Jagger snorting cocaine, a groupie shooting heroin and, yes, befitting the title, blowjobs. Still, given all we know about rock and roll culture in general and the Stones specifically, how does this documentary still possess the power to shock?

DeCurtis, who for a time possessed a VHS copy of the movie, though it mysteriously disappeared from his office, he told us, argues that a film like this simply wouldn’t be made today. (more…)

09/06/16 11:24am

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Welcome back from the long weekend! Now let’s get right into it, Brooklyn.

If there’s one theme that has emerged in this long, strange trip of an election cycle, it’s that Americans, New Yorkers included, are ready for political change. If you are dedicated to change then you have to vote–not just every four years in November, but in election cycles big and small. It just so happens that the New York State and Local Primary is next week on Sept. 13 and you should vote in it.

Why? Here’s a quick and dirty explanation. New York City leans heavily Democratic in most races, state, local and national. If you are a new candidate challenging an incumbent of the same party, as is usually the case, that means that your state and local contest is in September. Come November, the Democrats who win next week (again, most state and local offices in NYC are held by Democrats) will be largely unchallenged on the ballot, either running unopposed or against Republicans with minimal backing, funding or actual intention of serving. When very few people vote in September, and the people who do vote are dedicated to the status quo, it makes changing up our representation in Albany very difficult–and leads to the incredibly long terms in state office that we see so often in New York City.

What does that matter? Well, did you know that New York state had one of the lowest voter turnouts in the country during the national primary? Did you read that only 9% of the entire U.S. voted for Clinton or Trump? Do you find it disappointing that pretty much every major candidate in this election cycle is close to 70 years old? There can be no new energy in politics, no new ideas, if voters don’t vote, starting with state and local elections.

Here are two Brooklyn candidates who will be on the ballot for State Senate next week, each running against other Democrats who have been in office for more than a decade. (You can view all the seats up for election here.) We’re not endorsing these candidates–we’re not here to tell you how to vote. We’re making the point that if you actually care about the system as whole, every race matters and there’s more opportunity to get involved in our political system than you might think. It’s also a chance to make sure that you are registered to vote on Nov. 8–the deadline to register for the general election in New York State is Oct. 14.  (more…)

08/25/16 10:30am

Whether you’re headed out of town for Labor Day, already planning ahead for a fall road trip, or just need something new to listen to while you clean your apartment or commute, here are the six podcasts we’ve been buzzing about here at Brooklyn Based. Since so many podcasts figure out what they are as they go along, they often change significantly, over time, so starting out at the beginning can be disappointing or misleading. With that in mind, we’ve provided suggestions for a couple of particularly good episodes to get you started on each show. Happy listening!


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Another Round, Buzzfeed: When Hillary Clinton wanted to appear on a podcast, she (or more likely, her savvy PR staff) did not call Terry Gross or Ira Glass. She didn’t follow President Obama’s lead and appear on Marc Maron’s podcast, WTF. Instead, she asked Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton of Another Round for the interview, and America is more enlightened for it. Nigatu, a writer for Late Night with Stephen Colbert, and Clayton, a Buzzfeed writer, capture the way your smartest, funniest best friends talk when no one else is listening. With bourbon.

They’ve talked with Lin Manuel Miranda, Melissa Harris Perry (from whom they got the real scoop on why her show ended), and Valerie Jarrett, among many others, about pop culture, racism, sexism, the insidious effects of white privilege, politics, and occasionally, whether or not squirrels have the right to exist. Simultaneously funny and illuminating, these discussions will have you nodding your head in agreement so hard you hurt your neck and laughing to yourself on the train like a crazy person. They may even force a tough but important self-examination of your own privilege and how it comes at the expense of others. (more…)

08/18/16 11:00am
Trish Nelson is BanterGirl. Photo: Trish Nelson

Trish Nelson is BanterGirl. Photo: Mindy Tucker

For Trish Nelson, stand-up comedian, actor, and producer, a serious career epiphany came covered in mashed potatoes.

She had been ensconced in the New York comedy scene for five years, doing stand-up, producing live shows at Joe’s Pub (including Women of Letters), 2A, and the Ace Hotel, and working in the restaurant industry to pay the bills. One sweltering summer night three years ago, the restaurant she managed was selling food at an event on the Williamsburg waterfront and Nelson found herself, she says, “serving chicken in waffle cones, covered in mashed potatoes and truth be told not pleased, looking at my life thinking, Is this it? Is this the choice that I’ve made?”

One of her customers however, turned out to be an AEG Live executive, and the chance meeting transformed a moment of despair into an opportunity, leading Nelson to an internship, a new position, a crash course in producing live events (including Amy Schumer’s and the Broad City’s national tours), and eventually, to BanterGirl. (more…)