02/01/17 11:46am

February is historically the month of love. So, even if there are government acts to stand against, executive orders to roar about, racists to take down, and protests to march your weary legs in, make time this month for self-care. Hug your little ones close and remember to find time for art and humanity. Look for the heroes. Join a community of activists. Reach for tolerance. And whenever you need to, escape for a while into a museum or film to recharge your heart. Remember, love will always trump hate.

Show kids that making a statement doesn't have to be done on paper. 1) Charles Eisenmann (1855–1927). Nora Hildebrandt, ca. 1880. Albumen photograph mounted on cardboard. Collection of Adam Woodward. 2) Samuel O’Reilly (1854–1909). Eagle and shield, ca. 1875–1905. Watercolor, ink, and pencil on paper. Courtesy of Lift Trucks Project

Show kids that making a statement doesn’t have to be done on paper.
1) Charles Eisenmann (1855–1927). Nora Hildebrandt, ca. 1880. Albumen photograph mounted on cardboard. Collection of Adam Woodward. 2) Samuel O’Reilly (1854–1909). Eagle and shield, ca. 1875–1905. Watercolor, ink, and pencil on paper. Courtesy of Lift Trucks Project

GO: If your kids are already interested in getting some tats (or at least interested in looking at yours), let them find out more at Tattooed New York at the New York Historical Society. Highlights of the exhibit will include Thomas Edison’s electric pen and early tattoo machine, sideshow banners and lots of modern and historical tattoo art. This isn’t an interactive exhibit geared toward children, but you can easily find parts that your kids will enjoy. Bring a pocketful of temporary tattoos for your kids to choose from sothey can get in on the fun (in a less permanent way). Feb. 2 through April 29 Tattooed New York- NY Historical Society  170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday – 10am-6pm, Friday – 10am-8pm, Sunday – 11am-5pm, Monday – CLOSED; adults: $20, students: $12, kids (5-13 years old) $6, kids 4 and under: free. (more…)

09/13/16 10:33am


“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…)

03/03/16 11:28am

It’s still too early to tell whether this March will be more of a lion or a lamb (or just continue to rapid cycle between spring and winter), but one thing is for sure–there are plenty of cool cultural events to keep us occupied until spring officially arrives later this month. From films to flower shows to a West Coast composer ushering in an epic new wave of jazz, here are our 10 culture picks for the month ahead.

The Witch 2

If you plan to see The Witch at BAM this month, you might want to bring a spare pair of underwear. Photo: BAM

10. When my friend Scott suggested that we go watch The Witch at BAM this month, his main selling point was that the movie promised to be “pee-in-your-pants scary.” I’ve never seen pants-wetting used as a selling point with such aplomb, but in the case of Robert Eggers’ directorial debut, the description is spot on. The film follows the downward spiral of a Puritan family in 17th century New England whose witch hunt creates not only hysteria, but also one of the most widely praised horror films in recent history. Eggers won the Best Director Award at Sundance last year, and The Witch is playing at BAM through March 10. (more…)

Brooklyn Based delivers free daily emails about the borough's best food, events, attractions and innovators. Get Brooklyn Based in your inbox--sign up here.

09/03/15 12:06pm

We really mellowed out this summer, abandoning all but the beachiest of books, giving up on True Detective after a few dark and confusing episodes (turning to Mr. Robot instead), and eating ice cream for dinner instead of cooking or even bothering to go out for a real meal. It’s September now though, time to get ahold of ourselves and pick up a novel, hit a museum, try a just-opened restaurant, listen to new album and re-engage. Here are 10 cultural items and events we’re looking forward to this month.

You may not see Eugene Mirman shoot lasers out of his eyes at the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, but there will be plenty of other dazzling performances. Photo: Eugene Mirman

You may not see Eugene Mirman shoot lasers out of his eyes at the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, but there will be plenty of other dazzling performances. Photo: Eugene Mirman

10. Despite its self-aggrandizing name, the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival is actually a wonderful place to discover lesser-known comedians destined to become Daily Show or SNL superstars. Every September, it takes over The Bell House and Union Hall for a string of days, and as usual, the shows filled with celebrity stand-ups have already sold out. But as BB contrib Kate Hooker wrote around this time last year, “The secret to the festival is that the less star-studded line-ups are where you’ll see tomorrow’s new favorite funny person.” Case in point: Jo Firestone, whose innovative shows like Punderdome 3000 have become a staple of NYC nightlife, is in pole position for breakout success, and she is in two EMCF shows, including the aptly named “From the Basement of Union Hall to Network Television in 2-3 Years.” Get tickets while you can, festival runs Sept.18-21.


CNNZvYWUYAA0lkC9. Whether you are a card-carrying Jonathan Franzen fan, or you have yet to be moved by his depictions of the unhappy, All-American family and his critiques of modern life, there is reason to be optimistic about his new novel, Purity, which has attracted praise for actually being a pleasurable read. The internet has never been kind to Franzen–mainly because he says ridiculous shit, like toying with adopting an Iraqi war orphan–but his recent interview with Terry Gross revealed his endearing side, and his Sept. 26 reading as part of the Brooklyn Voices series with Greenlight Books and St. Joseph’s College is a chance to hear the Great American Novelist in person. Tickets are $30 and include a copy of the book–so you may want to download a copy in advance, then retrieve the hardcover version for your shelves.


A tart from last season of "The Great British Baking Show." Photo: BBC

A tart from last season of “The Great British Baking Show.” Photo: BBC

8. Imagine if you will, a magical tent in the middle of the English countryside. It’s been outfitted with 13 baking stations complete with ovens, mixers, canisters of flour and sugar, scales, whisks, everything necessary to bake. Under that tent 13 talented home bakers will toil to create cakes, biscuits, pastries and puddings of all kinds. They’re competing against one other, yet they’re remarkably kind and funny, popping by one another’s stations with a cup of tea or a word of encouragement while their bakes rise in the oven. This is The Great British Baking Show, hands down the most delightful food competition ever created. The passionate amateurs competing for the title of England’s top baker are so lovely, so engaged and so skillful, you’ll be held rapt as they prepare obscure European confectionary and towering tea cakes. If it sounds dull, just give it a try, there’s something soothing and civil about this show that’s hard to explain, but easy to adore. Season two (for America, there are more seasons that have aired on the BBC) starts on Thirteen Sunday, Sept. 6, and if you haven’t added the PBS app to your Roku or other device, this is your chance to do so (and binge on Antiques Roadshow after the baking is over). (more…)

06/25/15 9:00am

A hit at Sundance, and the closing night film of BAMcinemaFest this Sunday, Tangerine was shot on an iPhone using an $8 app. Photo: Magnolia Pictures

In a season of shockingly boring futurescapes, CGI dinosaurs and dull comic book reboots, in an era where television is killing the film businessTangerine, which was shot entirely on an iPhone and closes BAMcinemaFest on Sunday evening, may restore your belief in the big screen.

It takes approximately two minutes to set the fairly minimal plot in motion–Alexandra (Mya Taylor) and Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) are best friends and roommates, both transgender prostitutes living and working in a particularly unlovely corner of Hollywood. Sin-Dee, fresh off a month-long stint in jail, hears that Chester, her boyfriend/pimp, has been cheating on her and sets out to find him. What follows are 85 minutes of pure exhilaration. (more…)

12/18/14 12:00pm

Image-1It’s not just the holiday season in New York, with all those lights, elaborate window displays and ill-advised third (or fourth or fifth) servings of mulled wine, it’s also something of a peak to the cultural season. Lots of plays and art exhibits open in early fall, with runs that last through early January, while Hollywood hoards all non-summer blockbuster films until November and December, so a slew of movies for Oscar consideration come out this time of year. The end result being that there’s suddenly a glut of great stuff watch, see and do, with the added pressure that many of these shows will soon close. Here’s how to treat yourself to a cultural holiday in New York City over the next few weeks, with a few especially-for-the-season picks thrown in. And, for an extensive selection of live concerts, check out our year-end live music round-up. (more…)

10/15/14 9:00am
"Stations of the Elevated" opens at BAM this Friday. Photo: BAM

“Stations of the Elevated” opens at BAM this Friday. Photo: BAM

Stations of the Elevated is a weird film, to be perfectly blunt. If you have more than a passing interest in graffiti and the evolution of street art in New York City, then you’ve probably seen the documentary Style WarsStations, which has been billed as “the earliest filmed document of graffiti,” by BAM, where it opens Friday for a one-week run, is nothing like that.

An entirely visual exploration of the graffiti that festooned New York City’s subway cars when it was filmed in 1977, Stations makes no explicit comment on graffiti or the culture surrounding it, features no footage of people painting tags on subway cars or anything else, and has zero interviews. It’s all just footage of cars, in a trainyard in the Bronx and rolling through elevated stations, intercut with footage of billboards also visible from those stations, all set to a soundtrack by Charles Mingus.  (more…)

10/02/14 9:52am

OctFunMap2014SMALLThere is a lot to love about October, whose major holiday asks its revelers to hand out candy and dress up as someone else, nothing more. Even if you can’t get into the spirit, it’s impossible not to admire the folks who do. And there is plenty to admire this month—21 events in fact, to pencil in using our October Fun Map. Open House New York is a chance to see the city from a different perspective, inside landmarks and futuristic buildings like the Urban Post Disaster House; registration is already open so save your spots or pony up for a pass that gives you access to sold-out tours. The 1981 cult classic film, Stations of the Elevated, which BAM screens mid-month, portrays another side of New York, back when graffitied subways roamed, and the 1,300 bands that will be in town for CMJ Music Marathon will bring fresh music to your stale playlists. We’re very excited about the chance to gorge on oysters during Brooklyn Crab’s Fall Oyster Fest, and the release of the anthology, Never Can Say Goodbye, will remind us all why we love this city. But really, it’s all about the costumes, so start brainstorming something more viral than Ebola, HallowMEME is coming up.


09/08/14 1:35pm
Philip Glass (BAM)

Philip Glass (BAM)

Major record labels are always trying to capitalize on the musical trend of the moment, whether you’re talking punk and disco in the late ’70s, New Wave in the early ’80s, or grunge in the early ’90s. Nonesuch Records, however, has always forged its own path. Launched on February 14, 1964, the label, founded by Elektra Records’ Jac Holzman, has consistently issued stylistically diverse albums starting with classical, world and electronic music. In Mick Houghton’s 2010 book, Becoming Elektra, Holzman says, “So the concept for Nonesuch was quite simple: the music was proven and attractive to a college audience, the notes were musically authoritative and not pompous, and the jackets reflected a down-to-earth whimsy that said: these are not elitist records.”

Fifty years later, Nonesuch is still going strong, and its roster has included Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, Wilco, the Magnetic Fields, the Black Keys, Buena Vista Social Club, Youssou N’Dour and Natalie Merchant. To mark the occasion BAM is hosting the Nonesuch at BAM festival beginning tomorrow, Sept. 9. and featuring performances by acts that have had a connection with the label over the years. Kicking off the program is a concert featuring Philip Glass and composer Steve Reich together for the first time in over 30 years. The festival closes with Robert Plant and the Shapeshifters on Sept. 27 and 28, and in between will be performances by artists including Tweedy (a collaboration between Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and his son Spencer), soprano Dawn Upshaw, the legendary Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso, and jazz pianist Brad Meldhau.

We spoke with Nick Schwartz-Hall, a producer for the festival.

Certainly one of the highlights—if not perhaps the main highlight–is the opening night of the festival featuring Philip Glass and Steve Reich together. For avant garde music fans, this is a dream billing. How did you manage that?


09/08/14 12:00pm


Sponsored By Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

BAM 2014 Next Wave Festival (Sep 9 — Dec 20).

Created By BlankSlate

BAM 2014 Next Wave Festival — running from September 9 through December 20 — will feature 30 theater, music, dance, and film productions, plus 15 concert engagements celebrating the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking Nonesuch Records. The opening of the festival features experimental composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass. The performance will mark their 30th anniversary of performing at BAM! The festival contains many other must-see performances and tickets start at just $20.