05/18/17 10:22am

Before there was a shitty Warrant song called “Cherry Pie” there was Twin Peaks, but literally just by a few months, April 8, 1990 was the first air date of Twin Peaks. “Cherry Pie” was released in September of 1990. I never owned the Warrant cassette tape, but I did watch Twin Peaks. I had two jobs and was in high school, so Friday was my night off. I used to buy a six pack of beer and stay home on Fridays to watch it. Cheers was the most watched show at the time, so nothing could be as far away as Twin Peaks, geographically, thematically and visually. I still remember how freaked out I was when Bob appeared and crawled over the sofa, at the screen, at me. David Lynch’s strange dream translated so well to television.

In 2001 I lived in Portland, Oregon, a short-lived west coast experiment. Two things happened there that impressed me. I understood Twin Peaks, set and filmed in Washington State, and the film River’s Edge, set and filmed in Northern California, more deeply. The infinite importance of location, that Northwest isolation and mist, revealed itself.

I also taught myself how to make pies. Because I had time on my hands, and hell, if Twin Peaks and River’s Edge taught me anything it was that idle hands were the devil’s playthings. (more…)

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05/11/17 11:16am

All photos by Regina Mogilevskaya

Getting a word in with Emma Straub, author and one part of the duo behind Books Are Magic, is nearly impossible while there are customers streaming through the door. And although the Cobble Hill bookstore just opened its doors a few weeks ago, throngs of overjoyed well-wishers are already filling the store in a steady flow. “We’re definitely busy from the moment we open our doors in the morning to the moment we close them at night,” she says.

When BookCourt, the neighborhood’s beloved indie bookstore, announced they were closing, Straub and her husband Michael Fusco-Straub jumped to action immediately. They acquired the Books Are Magic space in October, but Straub says it was the election that really cemented their efforts. “We realized it was so much bigger than just a bookstore,” Straub says. “We needed an open space where people could gather, where families can feel welcome, can get informed.” Thanks to Straub’s established connections with local bookstores (she worked at both BookCourt and at Word in Greenpoint), publishers, and sales reps, the couple pulled off an impressive feat in record time.

The Fusco-Straubs obviously love books and design, and their lovely welcoming space is our new favorite word lair. From the books on the shelves to the sunlit kids room in the back, every swift detail of Books Are Magic takes inspiration from the community in which it blooms. Tulips from neighborhood florists decorate the store’s nooks, while the works of local authors are displayed proudly on recycled BookCourt shelves.

“I’m starting to explore collaborations with other places in the neighborhood, too,” Straub says. “Warby Parker reached out and we’re planning a reading series in their backyard.” In addition to being full of local goodness, the shop is wonderfully spacious, with exposed beams and brick and plenty of sunlight. It’s the kind of place that makes you feel good the second you step through the arched doorway.

Books Are Magic joins an impressive collection of indie bookstores around Brooklyn. Here are a few of our favorites for reading, listening, lounging and browsing. (more…)

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05/02/17 12:13pm

This obelisk is full of secrets. Photo: Creative Time

While standing in line in Green-Wood Cemetery last weekend, I overheard a group of friends joking nervously about confessing to murders and kidnappings before admitting that yes, they really did need to unburden their true secrets to a stranger. It was a superlative spring day for confession, and for enjoying the verdant charms of one of Brooklyn’s greenest places.

A cemetery is an excellent place to store secrets. After all, barring gossipy ghosts, the inhabitants are generally quiet and trustworthy. Starting last weekend and continuing through 2042, French conceptual artist Sophie Calle will be collecting the secrets from visitors in a public art installation called Here Lie the Secrets. Calle herself was accepting secrets on opening weekend, but the project, in collaboration with the public art organization Creative Time, will be in place for 25 years, during which visitors can write their innermost thoughts on a slip of paper and insert it into a slot at the bottom of a marble obelisk nestled on Green-Wood’s Bay Grove Hill. Your confessions, incidentally, will have one of the best, and least visited skyline views. (more…)

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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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