01/19/17 10:52am

eternal_sunshine_of_the_spotless_mind_-_kate_winslet_-_jim_carey_-_h_-_2016

So, it doesn’t exactly feel like winter this week. It’s downright temperate, in fact. Rest assured though, there will be a frigid weekend sometime this winter, even if 2017 proves to be as warm, or warmer than, 2016. Or maybe you just need to warm your soul. We’ve got three wintery movies and a recipe to pair with each. Gather your supplies, settle in on the couch and escape for an hour or two.

Film: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, directed by Michael Gondry, written by Charlie Kauffman, starring Kate Winslet, Jim Carrey, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, and Elijah Wood
Where to find it: On Amazon or iTunes, starting at $2.99 to stream
Recipe: Tomato Basil Chicken Stew from Gimme Some Oven

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is celebrating its 13th anniversary this year. Isn’t that wild? It’s probably safe to say that the Oscar-winning film still has a strong hold on film fanatics–even if you can’t quite recall the last time you viewed it, you certainly remember how it made you feel. The film is a dizzying cornfield of memory–the way your brain tries to fight your heart, what it is to love and to lose, to neglect and to remember. (more…)

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01/18/17 12:22pm
Image: Shepard Fairey/We The People

Image: Shepard Fairey/We The People

In this case, calling it an Ideal Week is a tad optimistic. We’re standing on the precipice of a momentous event and it is scary as hell. If I was at all mollified after the election by thoughts like “it can’t possibly be as bad as It seems, surely someone will keep him in check,” that hope simply couldn’t endure in the face of Paul Ryan dabbing while announcing that millions of Americans will lose access to health insurance or Jeff Sessions whitewashing his dismal views on race. It’s impossible to not be preoccupied this week, and even though I did manage to find a few non-Inauguration related activities to recommend to you, the bulk of what people are planning and organizing around here these days is somehow connected to the power shift that is looming ominously. Along with many friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members, I’ll be in DC for the March on Saturday, but there are plenty of protest events happening right here too. There are a lot of us who aren’t OK with what is happening, which is an unfortunate reality for Trump and the only thing that feels comforting about this situation.

However you choose to spend the weekend, do something that makes you feel good. Perhaps one of our suggestions below will fit the bill. It looks like any measure of sanity and reasonableness in this administration is going to have to be hard-won by us, the people, and we need to do everything we can to ensure that we’re primed for the fight. Onward!

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01/17/17 12:47pm
Shepard.Equal-Humanity-GreaterThanFear

We The People is a Kickstarter campaign that aims to cover Washington D.C. in powerful images, like this one, for the inauguration. Image: Shepard Fairey

I’m going to give it to you straight–this Friday, Jan. 20, 2017 Donald Trump will be inaugurated as our 45th President. It’s going to happen. There doesn’t seem to be an ethical conflict too deep or a tweet too far–even insulting a Civil Rights hero on MLK weekend–to stop this juggernaut.

We need to find some productive ways to cope.

You probably don’t have Friday off from work, but it’s not like anyone is going to be getting much of anything done, either. We’re not saying hide your head in the sand, we’re saying make Inauguration Day a time to reflect on how you want to spend the next four year.

Got to the Whitney, and pay what you wish: “On January 20, the Whitney will be open on a pay-what-you-wish basis all day to affirm our commitment to open dialogue, civic engagement, and the diversity of American art and culture,” says the Whitney’s website. There are a variety of special tours and events for the day, listed here, including a program called My America, that leads participants through an exploration of their portrait collection. The museum is open until 10pm, so there’s time to consider the role art will play in the sure-to-be-strange years to come, even after the work day is done.


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01/16/17 9:50am
fried rabbit

Why settle for pancakes when you could have fried rabbit and biscuits? Photo: Barano

If you’re anything like me, when you wake up hungry on the weekends you eat something at home fairly soon after rising and then start thinking about LUNCH. Not brunch.

I will always choose Chinese food for breakfast. Thank (insert whomever or whatever you worship here) for dim sum! Don’t get me wrong, I love a fried egg and toast slathered in butter and preserves with a fiery passion. But I can make that myself, at home, at 8 or 9 a.m. in about, 3 minutes?

Sadly for me and the others like me, New York City is a brunchers town. Everyone just loves brunch– though I suspect it’s only a certain group of 20 and 30-somethings who truly partake, and the rest of us are meant to wax nostalgic about the days when we were out until 3am, waking up at 10 or 11 a.m. and wanting food ASAP, preferably with a cocktail on the side.

Not all hope is lost, however. Some restaurants understand that simply putting an egg on top of an entree doesn’t necessarily make it better. And there are always spots that don’t traffic in brunch at all–typically sandwich shops and “ethnic” restaurants. Bless them.

Here are some of those places. And the next time it’s a Saturday or Sunday and you want to eat goddamn food at lunchtime that’s not eggs and bacon or pancakes, thank me. Actually, thank these spots! (more…)

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01/12/17 9:39am
Pop Rocks, 2009, Marylin Monter, from the collection of Danielle and David Ganek, courtesy Brooklyn Museum

Pop Rocks, 2009, Marilyn Minter, from the collection of Danielle and David Ganek, courtesy Brooklyn Museum

Pretty/Dirty, the first major retrospective of artist Marilyn Minter’s work, opened at the Brooklyn Museum on Nov. 4, and with all that has transpired since then, it’s understandable that it may not have shown up on your radar. Make no mistake though, this is one show that is not to be missed.

On view until April 2, Pretty/Dirty spans more than four decades of the feminist artist’s provocative pieces. The exhibit is part of A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum, a series of 10 shows that have been produced over the last year to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, which permanently houses The Dinner Party, a landmark installation by Judy Chicago.


Sexuality is not something that Minter shies away from in her work.


Minter works across a spectrum of mediums including painting, photography and video. Her pieces investigate sexuality, politics and the mundane things in life–frozen peas and tea bags left discarded in a kitchen sink–alongside images that are both everyday and unexpected, like large-scale, digital images of a model’s vagina. Sexuality is not something that Minter shies away from in her work, which is glaringly obvious in many of the pieces on display in Pretty/Dirty(more…)

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01/11/17 2:10pm

Every week as I think about what to write about in my intro to this column, I swear that this is the week that I’m going to finally stop ranting about Trump and move on to more pleasant topics like oh, I don’t know, literally anything. But man, I’ll be damned if that guy doesn’t cause some kind of brouhaha every single Tuesday (or really any other day ending in y) that is impossible for me to ignore when I’m writing on Wednesday morning! This week, I’ll leave it to the intelligence agencies and the media to investigate and shed light on the latest news regarding his alarming ties to Russia and to the professional comedians to tackle #PEEOTUS, and try instead to ease my inauguration blues by focusing on the commendable goals that President Obama set out in his utterly beautiful farewell address last night.

Next week I’ll be in DC for the Women’s March, letting his successor know that I am just one of millions of citizens who intend to keep a close watch on civil rights, freedom of speech and a continued sense of a truly civil society throughout his tenure, but for the next several days I’d like to take the opportunity to marvel at the hard work and thoughtful, principled decency that has been the hallmark of this president’s tenure. This is the week we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as well, and that we have the opportunity to reflect on two great men who made unifying people and tackling real injustice their lives’ work is extraordinary in and of itself, but all the more so when contrasted with a grown man who tweets “Unfair!” every time he is legitimately questioned.

To me, this Ideal Week is going to be about spreading positivity. If you have Monday off, think about ways that you might be able to use the time to help someone in your life or in your community, or to connect with someone in a real way that does not involve cynicism (or the internet, for that matter). I’ve said here before that I personally find art helpful, as I suspect many of you do too, so I will note that the next few days are your last opportunity to see The New Museum’s wildly popular Pixel Forest exhibit by Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist before it closes on Sunday. You can also give yourself the gift of laughter and snag tickets to see comedian Mike Birbiglia work out new material on Monday night at Union Hall before they disappear (they go on sale at 1pm today and will definitely sell out). 

Whatever you do this week, do it in a way that makes you feel intentional and strong and true to yourself and your community. I think that we are all beginning to realize that there is more power in that than we knew. (more…)

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01/10/17 11:57am
Photo: Catbat

Photo: Catbat

And so, late one evening, the Catbat became stuck in time. Once mythical–both lynx and bat, philosopher and shapeshifter–now ashes of a gnostic tarot card.

Written for Catbat Shop by Kelley Deane McKinney

A mix between a blazer and a blanket, the Catbat cape could very well be a talisman for our uncertain times. Kat Shuford, the designer behind Catbat Shop, believes that “people of all genders and sizes should feel magical every day,” and that a gorgeous wool, mohair or cashmere cape, sustainably sourced from reclaimed and recylced fabrics, and locally made in Greenpoint, has the power to conjure a charmed existence.

Less than two years ago, Shuford, an artist and website designer came up with the idea for a line of capes, and with basic sewing skills and a DIY attitude, she cobbled together a pattern and searched out a family-run fabric business based in New York. “I didn’t know how to begin,” she says. “But it was just, sit down and do it anyway.” Her web experience allowed her to wear many hats, designing her own site and maintaining her online store. With a little luck and a lot of drive, Shuford found other people to help her along the way and came up with the prototype–one pattern that fits every body type regardless of height or gender. “I kind of did this on a self challenge,” she admits. (more…)

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01/09/17 10:28am
From the outside, The Islands doesn't look like much, but don't make the mistake of passing it by. Photo: Georgia Kral

From the outside, The Islands doesn’t look like much, but don’t make the mistake of passing it by. Photo: Georgia Kral

In this series, we take you inside the restaurants we keep going back to–neighborhood spots that always deliver on their promise of good food and hospitality, even if they don’t necessarily look like much from the outside.

The facade is unassuming. Located next door to a Key Food and sharing the grocery store’s awning, you may miss it the first time you look for it. But The Islands (803 Washington Ave.) is a Prospect Heights gem: the food is phenomenal and the ambiance unparalleled.

Windowed doors open into a shoebox-sized room. Along one side is the kitchen, big enough for two people, tops. A counter with three stools abuts the prep area and there’s room for maybe five people to pick up food to go or wait to sit at one of the four tables upstairs. To get to the “dining room” guests must climb up a blue ladder and through a hole in the ceiling. No joke. Diners over six feet tall may have a hard time eating in, as the ceilings are quite low upstairs.

But that’s all part of the charm. The Islands is equally known for its unconventional space and its fiery Caribbean dishes.

I’ve visited The Islands many times and each time I tell myself to try something new. But I just can’t. That’s the true test of a dish. Can’t go without it? Crave it? There’s something happening that you can’t control. My order: jerk chicken, curry vegetables and a side of mac and cheese. If I’m dining with more than one person, curry goat or stew peas and dumplings get added to the mix. (more…)

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01/05/17 1:27pm

Quick quiz: Do you like Benedict Cumberbatch? Do you have a soft spot for historical biopics? Wondering how all this political madness is going to produce some good art? Well, if you answered yes to any of those questions there’s something to look forward to in January. Here are 10 books, movies, shows and performances to keep an eye on this month.

10. I’ve been taking a break from television lately, which has created so much more space for reading in my life. I’m about halfway through a review copy of Paul Auster’s new novel,  4 3 2 1, which comes out on Jan. 31, and it is breathtakingly good. If you’re not an Auster fan don’t worry. This 860-page tome is quite different from the compact, M.C. Escheresque world of The New York Trilogy. It’s a sprawling, open-hearted tale of four distinct lives lived by one protagonist, the erstwhile Archie Ferguson. 4 3 2 1 feels like it was written for exactly this moment in time in a way that is a little spooky, and best of all, this is a world that is swimming in books, influencing Archie, and Auster, and inspiring a running list in your head of your next title, even as you tackle this larger than average, in every way, novel. (more…)

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01/04/17 2:57pm
Photo:

See Big Lazy at Union Pool this week. Photo: Big Lazy

Well, we made it to 2017! Happy New Year everybody! I don’t know about you all, but I’m utterly spent. The holiday season this year was an absolute gauntlet, what with the usual stressors of present shopping and parties and trying to finish out the year strong at work plus everyone I know getting nailed with either a stomach bug or a cold or both and the increasing pressure to remain casual in the face of mounting political uncertainty. Somehow every holiday-related gathering I attended seemed to end up in discussion about Trump and how the Democrats managed to screw things up, and they somehow always turned heated and awkward, which is bizarre given the fact that every single person involved had voted the same way. It seems that those of us who care about government ethics, equal opportunity, the environment, human rights, and basic fairness and civility are engaged in a bit of a collective freakout as January 20 draws closer, and it’s hard to keep it together, or even to find much else to talk about. At the same time, there’s a pervasive feeling that we need to buck up and charge ahead, without getting too mired in the past that we can’t change or hysterically speculating about what’s to come. It feels like a test, and to be honest it’s downright exhausting.

So, my New Year’s resolution, to the extent I do those things at all, is to truly get on with it. There’s stuff I have control over and stuff that I don’t, and obsessing over the latter won’t help me or anyone else in 2017. But at the same time I am going to expand my own perception of what I do have the power to influence. To be kinder and more understanding and more aware of what goes on outside my sphere is not very hard to do (it’s a hell of a lot easier than making it to the gym five times a week, for example) and, if we all did it, the payoff would be tremendous. It is certainly a better way for me to spend my time and energy than, say, reading and becoming incensed by a certain someone’s tweets or arguing about Hillary’s emails (still? When will it end?).

Time to shift the focus, but that doesn’t mean blunting the resolve to try to be an agent of change, and that’s where I find art particularly inspiring. Lots of musicians, writers, comedians, painters, sculptors, dancers, and other creative types are out there already, getting on with it, making noise and shifting perspectives. They are doing it every day, right here in New York City, and we are all so lucky to have virtually unfettered access to this mercurial, roiling, dynamic elixir of new thought and creativity and beauty that is conjured up all around us all the time. Get out there and see some of it this week. Here are some ideas that struck us as particularly fun and motivating ways to get yourself back in the swing of it during this first Ideal Week of the new year.


Thursday, January 5

The instrumental trio known as Big Lazy consists of an electric guitar, an acoustic bass and drums. That spare line-up is able to conjure up gritty, emotional spaces and moods with music that has been described by The New Yorker as “stunningly beautiful” and by Time Out as “virtuosic.” Composer Stephen Ulrich, who scored Bored to Death, has led the band in various incarnations for the past two decades, and a group of esteemed alumni like Charlie Giordano of The E Street Band and Peter Hess of The Philip Glass Ensemble will be reuniting at Union Pool on Thursday night for a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Amnesia, the group’s debut album. The show starts at 8pm and tickets are $10 each; Brooklyn-based ensemble Barbez and Primitive Sound System will be on hand as well.

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