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…)

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.”


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…)

03/02/17 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.


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.


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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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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12/01/16 9:53am


Well, I can’t say I’m sorry that this is the last Culture Essentials column I’ll write in 2016, a year that took from us David Bowie, Prince, Lemmy, Leonard Cohen and Sharon Jones and left us with a rabbit fur coat that someone wore home after a spray tan. Still, 2016 has not been without cultural gems. Stranger Things was the perfect, unexpected summer delight. We lost Sharon Jones, but the documentary about her, Miss Sharon Jones!, is actually very life affirming. I can’t even with Zadie Smith’s new book, Swing Time. In the Dark made podcasts feel vital, fresh and addictive all over again. And Beyoncé not only slayed every single person alive, whether you know it or not, with Lemonade, she also brought the Dixie Chicks back into the country music fold. So this year, wasn’t just exceptionally bad, really, it was exceptional in every way.

Also, did anyone else watch Love Actually over Thanksgiving weekend and freak out when Billy Bob Thornton, playing the American president, causes an international incident because he sexually harasses the Prime Minister’s secret crush? Remember, this is a movie that cast Liam Neeson as a grieving widow long before Natasha Richardson died. Just saying.

Here’s what to read watch, listen to and attend while we all wait out the final 31 days of 2016.

10. With so many streaming services, the spread of cheap, good looking flat screens, plus the fact that popcorn popped on your stove, in coconut oil and a lot of salt is far superior to movie theater popcorn (sorry, purists), it’s not often that it feels imperative to watch a film on the true big screen in a theater. La La Land, starring beautiful young people Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, is an absolute exception. Go escape into its charm, romance and musical numbers for a few hours, it’s okay. (more…)

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11/30/16 2:28pm


In no particular order, here are all the things that Mike Mills’ third directorial feature, 20th Century Women, will make you do: nonchalantly dab your eyes with a tissue, develop a deep affinity for life in Santa Barbara in 1979, and fall in love with every inch of Annette Bening’s glorious face. Yes, Mills’ follow-up to 2011’s Beginners is that good.

Led by a brilliant cast of Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, and newcomer Lucas Jade Zumann, 20th Century Women tells the story of 50-something-year-old Dorothea (Bening) trying to decipher how to best help her teenage son (Zumann) grow into a good, just, young man in a time when everything is somewhat in flux: there’s an energy crisis, Jimmy Carter is desperately trying to unite a society that’s fumbling in the space between one era and the next, and local teenagers entertain themselves by playing choking games. Terrified that she alone cannot give her son everything he needs–and feeling more distant from him with every new record he spins in his room, and every minute in which he becomes a slightly older version of himself–Dorothea enlists the help of a few lost souls that rent rooms in her enormous, constantly in-repair home in sunny Santa Barbara. (more…)

10/27/16 12:48pm

You’re right, it’s not quite November yet. It just seemed like with the ultra-long-weekend of Halloween revelry we’re looking at, plus the collective sense of dread surrounding Election Day on Nov. 8, which will likely hit a fever pitch next week, that we should provide you, the people, with some cultural touchstones to look forward to with real joy and anticipation in your hearts. No spray tans, no candy corn (unless you want it, but we’re definitely judging), no sexy anesthesiologists, no pantsuits, no puppets or bad hombres, (though there are plenty of nasty women on this list). Just 10 excellent things to read, watch, experience and enjoy. Yes, they still exist and you’re very welcome.


It’s not just the blonde hair and British accent, Stella Gibson is a totally different sort of investigator than Dana Scully. Photo: BBC Two

10. Season 3 of The Fall debuts on Netflix on Oct. 29, the day after the series finishes its run on BBC Two. If you aren’t already a fan of this extra creepy procedural, which stars Gillian Anderson as a driven detective who is remarkably different than Dana Scully, and Jaime Gornan as a smart, scary serial killer, go watch the first two seasons now–there are only 11 episodes total. Pro tip: If you don’t like spoilers, don’t google the show, just go and watch it from the beginning on Netflix or Amazon right now.

pop-up magazine

9. Pop-up Magazine is coming to Kings Theater on Nov. 17 and it’s one of the live performances we’re most excited about this fall. It’s like a journalism variety show in the best possible way, with live storytelling, photography, video and audio pulled together into a heady, coherent experience. If you need a media consumption reset button after reading every single op-ed about the election for the past six months, this my friend, will restore your delight in the fourth estate. Tickets start at $35 and there are still great seats available at $70. (more…)

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09/08/16 12:45pm

It is 100 percent a total cliché to talk about the seemingly ever-increasing speed of the passage of time, but humor us here for a minute. How did it get to be September 8 all of the sudden after an August that felt like it lasted forever? And when will it be sweater weather? There’s plenty of September left (and longish, warm days, judging from the current heat advisory) to enjoy outside, as well as all of the excitement of the beginning of New York’s cultural season, packed with book festivals, art shows and finally, some movies we actually want to watch. Here are eight happenings we’re excited for this month. Go forth and plan.


1. When we first wrote about the web series High Maintenance back in 2013 we had no idea that it would one day become a fully fledged comedy on HBO. Watch New York City’s favorite weed dealer on a bicycle deliver dope to all manner of hilarious urban stereotypes (you may even recognize yourself), starting September 16 at 11pm(more…)

07/28/16 9:00am

When Johnny Cash sang about falling into a burning ring of fire, we’re pretty sure he was talking about living in New York City in August, which is why this month’s culture roundup is replete with ways to keep it chill indoors—like a new Ellen Page film that offers the perfect excuse to Netflix and grill—as well as a few reasons to brave the heat, including MoMA PS1’s final installation at Fort Tilden.

Rockaway! by Katharina Grosse Photo: MoMA PS1

Rockaway! by Katharina Grosse Photo: MoMA PS1

10. Not that we need an excuse to head to the beach in August, but Katharina Grosse’s installation, Rockaway!, at Fort Tilden’s aquatics building is reason enough to hitch a ride to the Rockaways. To call Grosse’s latest work site-specific is kind of an understatement, seeing as how the German artist transformed the decaying building, which never bounced back after Hurricane Sandy and will be demolished after the exhibition closes in November, into her canvas, spray painting it in electric hues of oranges and pinks inspired by a beachy sunset. (more…)

06/30/16 10:49am
Photo: Adam Carter via Flickr

Photo: Adam Carter via Flickr

There will be plenty of fireworks this month, both in the sky and on our social calendars. July’s cultural events are full of glitter, surprise and overwrought emotion—all of which can be found in our first pick, a screening of Death Becomes Her in Bushwick. The other nine entries on the countdown this month, from a beach read centered around an art-world mystery to a psychedelically immersive screening, are equally as incendiary. Read on for more of our July culture essentials. (more…)