04/27/17 1:11pm

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, right? With climate change, random 90-degree days in April, freak snow storms in March, I don’t know what that means for horticulture, but I can tell you that the month ahead is looking pretty solid for plain old culture, particularly as public art season in New York City springs into full bloom. Here are 10 movies, exhibits and events to check out this month. Admittedly, it’s a little book-heavy, but you know, reading, it’s awesome.

10. Twin Peaks, Showtime, May 21

It is happening again. I’m curious to know if this new iteration of Twin Peaks will win any new fans, or if the same folks who were baking cherry pies and brewing pots of coffee for viewing parties back in the early 90s are the primary audience here. The series was so far ahead of its time when it debuted in 1990, but if you take the first season and re-pace it in your mind into a now-typical 10- or 12-episode arc, it’s a perfect fit. Television has finally caught up to David Lynch, let’s see what he does with it. (more…)

04/12/17 9:10pm

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The Lobster Shift is a monthly column by Kenneth R. Rosen that explores the city and its inhabitants in the hours between dusk and dawn.

How often do we pass a place and remember someone from our history? It’s a curious bit of personal tradition for me to swing through Philadelphia and think of Shannon; Washington, D.C., to bow myself against the memory of Amy; Miami resonates with Evan; in Delaware I think of my lost friend Hilary; Trenton is for Dakota; Charleston is for Hannah; and Savannah is for Georgia, a girl named for the state I once called home.

Here I find myself between them again, traveling on a train with stops along the northeastern corridor, a place scattered with memories.

This corridor and these women stay connected in my mind; the electric charge that once existed between us persists against the erosion of time on memory. And on a 10:10pm northbound Amtrak late last winter, after a weary month of traveling with stops in D.C. and Richmond, the Carolinas and New Jersey, I realized that some places remain shallow reliefs of the people with whom you experienced them. (more…)

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04/11/17 9:00am
An awesome example of rocking the full unicorn. Photo: Anya Krotova

An awesome example of rocking the full unicorn. Photo: Anya Krotova

You’ve probably noticed unicorn everything these days, whether you’re drinking your unicorn latte or sporting a unicorn manicure. For a deep dive into the history of this unicorn beauty trend, I recommend reading this article in Racked about how it came to be. If you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed wondering how you could possibly rock a rainbow mane, we talked to Anya Krotova, a stylist at Exhibit Salon, a self-described unicorn factory. She gave us the scoop on how to avoid looking like unicorn poop. (more…)

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04/06/17 11:21am
LCD Soundsystem (photo provided by Rubenstein)

LCD Soundsystem launches Brooklyn Steel with five sold-out shows.

In this age of gentrification and booming luxury real estate, you’re more likely to hear about beloved venues closing than new ones opening–RIP Glasslands, Cake Shop and Cameo Gallery. The latest Brooklyn casualty is Shea Stadium, which recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to reopen after shutting down last month, allegedly because of pressure from local authorities.

The exception is Brooklyn Steel, which opens its doors for the first time tonight with the first of five sold-out shows from LCD Soundsystem, the would-be J.D. Salingers of the NYC music scene.

It’s a welcome addition to the Brooklyn venue roster–we’re short on indoor spots that are large enough to attract big names like PJ Harvey and The Pixies, but that are more intimate than say, the Barclays Center. Despite its recycled metal exterior and industrial functionality (speakers inside are suspended from a fully functional gantry crane, allowing the venue to adjust their height to the size of the show), Brooklyn Steel is a reflection of Brooklyn’s future, not a throwback to the scrappily wonderful sweaty rooms of its recent past. Clocking in at a massive 20,000 square feet, it’s the latest member of the Bowery Presents family, which oversees the Bowery Ballroom, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Mercury Lounge, Rough Trade NYC and Terminal 5. (more…)

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03/30/17 10:41am

April, you’re a month of continual torment. We’re all so ready to be outside–to celebrate Prospect Park’s 150th birthday, to stroll through the otherworldly beauty of the cherry blossoms in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden during the Sakura Matsuri Festival, and let down our hair and break out our tambourines for Earth Day, which takes on a more serious and urgent mission this year, all hippie jokes aside.

Yet, it is not consistently warm enough to leave the house without a jacket (and a backup scarf), those outside tables that look so appealing at 4pm turn frigid the second the sun goes down, and outdoor movies, concerts and yoga are still a couple months away. Here’s a mix of can’t-miss culture that you can venture outside to enjoy, or simply watch, read or appreciate from the warm comfort of your home. Pro-tip: If you’re hoping to see LCD Soundsystem at Brooklyn Steel, tickets go on sale at noon, Thursday, March 30.

10. 2017, Louis C.K., on Netflix April 4

Louis C.K.: you either love him or…is there anyone left who doesn’t love Louis C.K.? It seems like he’s pretty much conquered the world with his particular brand of self-effacing dude humor. On April 4 his new comedy special 2017 debuts on Netflix, which seems to have stolen the comedy special game from HBO. According to Netflix this time around he’ll be having a fireside chat with America about “religion, eternal love, giving dogs drugs, email fights, teachers and more.”


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9. Prospect Park celebrates 150 years of being green

Brooklyn’s beloved park turns 150 this year and this temperate weather we’ve been having arrives just in time for a full weekend of celebrations including the first roller disco of the season on Friday night at LeFrak Center, an exhibition baseball game following 1860 rules, a Greenmarket grill out and various historical walking, and running, tours of the park. Check out the whole list of events here. (more…)

03/29/17 10:04am

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The audience never sees the monster in Julia Jarcho’s new play, The Terrifying, but the lack of blood and gore does nothing to temper the fear. While definitely corporeal for residents of the unnamed small town it targets, its real power is emotional rather than physical. The fear is so severe, it’s almost beside the point whether you end up as a victim; your life is forever altered by the knowledge the monster exists.

It’s going to be difficult to actually see this version of the play– the remaining shows are sold out and when we called the theater to ask about waitlist tickets they advised showing up an hour before showtime to make sure you’re first in line to put your name on the waitlist when the box office opens 30 minutes before show time. “There are no shows…sometimes,” the very nice man we spoke to said in a not very encouraging tone. The way the show plays with fear though, exploring it in the abstract while scaring your pants off in a very real way, is worth thinking about, in this uncertain age of paranoia and the unexpected.

Jarcho’s Big Bad plots its course of destruction by following the desires of each victim. To wit, victim one is killed; the person that victim loves the most is next. It’s a great argument for never revealing one’s crushes, and an unusually cruel form of psychological torture. Teenagers are the first targets, and even in the vague time period of The Terrifying (phones, landlines to be precise, exist, but not everyone has one), their currency is rumors and gossip. (more…)

03/23/17 10:15am
37 Problems is a new bingeworthy web series that deals with fertility and ambivalence towards motherhood. And it's funny!

37 Problems is a new binge-worthy web series that deals with fertility and ambivalence towards motherhood. And it’s funny!

What does it even mean to “have it all?” 37 Problems, which describes itself as “a raunchy new series about fertility and growing up” explores that well worn question with welcome hilarity and a considerable edge.  

A 37-year-old screenwriter (played by creator and director Lisa Ebersole) has Sundance dreams and wants to borrow $10,000 from her mother to finish her project. Her mom gives her the money, but wants her to use it to freeze her eggs instead. Panic and hijinks ensue, with a cast of eccentric characters like an elderly ex, her father’s ghost, a charming yet slightly sleazy fertility doctor and a kooky editor who lives in a garage with his daughter. Ambivalence toward parenthood permeates throughout.

In an extremely crowded webosphere, Ebersole is an emerging talent worth getting to know. While she’s already an award-winning playwright and filmmaker, 37 Problems is her first web series, and it’s been selected for the Austin Film Festival, Brooklyn Web Fest, and the Hollyweb Festival. 

You can binge watch the entire NSFW series on 37 Problems and on Vimeo. In the meantime, Ebersole took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about Lena Dunham, fertility and Obamacare for us.

(more…)

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03/16/17 10:59am

We all spend a lot of time in the bathroom, managing (what might be seen as) embarrassing fluids, hairs and smells. Here’s a roundup of items to make your personal daily and monthly rituals more convenient, productive and all-natural. You might be surprised by the updates to your favorite bathroom gadgets and products, and how they’ll simplify your life and de-stigmatize what happens behind the bathroom door.

This toilet stool will change the way you poop, although it won't make unicorn flavored ice cream. Photo: Squatty Potty

This toilet stool will change the way you poop, although it won’t actually deliver a unicorn to your door. Photo: Squatty Potty

Squatty Potty ($29-$99)

One of the best things about the squatty potty is the commercial. The ad wiz who came up with this campaign compared a good bowel movement to soft serve unicorn ice cream. (Genius!) They claim that this toilet stool will change the way you poop. I was interested, but dubious. I ordered the basic 7” Ecco model ($29), and was immediately happy with how space saving it is; it fit snugly around the toilet when not in use. In terms of aesthetics, there are upscale models to match any decor including a $99 clear ghost version, but I’m happy with the basic white.

In terms of actual use it’s not like you need a flexible yoga squat to make this work. Just like a little foot stool for your throne, the squatty potty helps to correct your form for that important daily delivery. At first my family was bewildered, but within a few days of use, we all quickly came to love it. After you’ve finished your business, you actually feel cleared out. The stool works, and begs the question: how have we been living without it for so long? And who designed toilets anyway? A converted friend of mine says she refuses to go without one. When she’s in a public restroom now, she has “to kick over a garbage and put my feet on it.” There is a $29 travel version, should you become as completely converted and refuse to vacation without a plan for efficient evacuation. Once you’ve had the best poop of your life, it’s impossible to go back. (more…)

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03/14/17 5:24pm

Let me be blunt for a moment. All those delicious Pi Day pies and snow day stews aside, this is the worst time of year for cooking. Late winter and early spring are a challenge in in the kitchen. The chicken pot pies, roasted vegetables and bean soups I was so excited to make in October feel heavy and boring now, and it’s going to be more than a few weeks before the first spring edibles show up at the farmer’s market.

We’re in luck though, fellow cooks. A new book came out today that will help get us all over the hump and into nettle, asparagus and pea season.

Vibrant India, Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn is the first cookbook from Chitra Agrawal, cook, writer and owner of Brooklyn Delhi. She wrote a great guide to eating all over the subcontinent by taking a day trip to Edison and Iselin, N.J. for us a few years back, and if you’ve always wanted to try your hand at cooking South Asian food, but have never quite been able to make sense of all the spice roasting and grinding, this is the book for you.

Agrawal’s recipes are not the heavy butter chicken and saag paneer type fare–which is generally Northern Indian in origin–that often represents Indian cuisine in the U.S. In the foreword she explains that her cooking is very much informed by the vegetarian cuisine of South India, Bangalore specifically, which is based around rice, beans, pulses, fresh vegetables and spices like mustard seed, hing and tumeric.

What does South India have to do with late winter cooking?

Many of the recipes in Vibrant India are variations on rice and dal, which are not just hearty, durable, winter fare, they’re also fragrantly spiced and lush with coconut, ghee and curry leaves. This combination of new flavors and cooking techniques is sure to hold your attention until the farmer’s market is full of ingredients for her spiced spring vegetable and coconut polenta recipe.

I’ve tried to wrap my head around how to build up a pantry of spices and the techniques for cooking Indian dishes at home several times, never with much luck. There are several South Asian cookbooks on my shelf and I’ve never prepared a single dish from any of them. I get overwhelmed by planning what to make, gathering the ingredients and understanding the techniques. This book feels so much more accessible and easy to understand than my past forays into subcontinental cooking. (more…)

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03/02/17 1:23pm

I need to be the adult here and break it to you, someone does. Just because it was 70 last week does not mean that summer starts at the end of the month. We still have a ways to go before the glorious outdoor movies and free concerts of summer are here. Until then, you’ll have to make do with some excellent art, scary theater, absorbing new books and the return of the best show on television.

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10. The Terrifying

Everything about The Terrifying, a new play written and directed by Obie-winner Julia Jarcho sounds, well, terrifying. It’s an intimate theater experience for just 60 guests who are seated on the stage “close enough to hear a faint whisper.” The setting is described as a “creepy little village on the cusp of modernity” and there’s a warning about strong language and sudden loud noises. We’ll be reviewing so check back for the full scoop on just how scary The Terrifying really is. The show runs from March 12-April 2 at the Arbons Arts Center, and tickets are $25.


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9. Art on Paper, March 3-5
As the name would suggest, Art on Paper is a giant show devoted to art committed to paper, like drawings, prints and photos. It’s also home to an incredibly inventive collection of three-dimensional work constructed with paper and some video work as well. The show is held on Pier 36 in Manhattan, March 3-5 (with a preview on March 2), and with participating galleries around the city. A pass costs $25 for a day, $30 for three days, and $40 if you want access during the preview as well. (more…)

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