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January 5th, 2009


by John Coakley

Nicholas Ray is one of those directors that gets mentioned a lot by film buffs, both in and out of academia. Yet most of us have only seen one or two of his films—Rebel Without a Cause, maybe Johnny Guitar. This hole in our cinematic knowledge can easily be corrected by seeing his 1956 classic Bigger Than Life, starring James Mason and Walter Matthau. Mason is a typical husband and father until his addiction to pain meds loosens his impulse control and unlocks delusions of being a true master of the house who must be obeyed at all costs. Ray is smart enough to place blame on the drugs but also on the ideal of the perfect 50’s man, as well as the attendant pressure that could send anyone over the edge. This might be a nice companion piece to the recently opened Revolutionary Road. You should hurry though; Bigger Than Life is only showing at the Film Forum through Thursday. You should go.

Bigger Than Life
Through Thursday, 1/8/9
1:30, 3:30, 5:40, 7:50, 9:50
Film Forum
209 W Houston Street
Get tickets here.

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Events | New York

January 3rd, 2009


by John Coakley

Luigi Ghirri (1943-1992) was a photographer who thrived in his native Italy but is relatively unknown here. Aperture Gallery is correcting this unfortunate situation by presenting both the first state-side major exhibition and the first English language book of his work. The book is especially important because Ghirri was apparently a wonderful writer whose essays conveyed both his enthusiasm for and knowledge of the art of photography. The show is not to be missed either, of course; Ghirri’s belief that the local and universal were intertwined comes through beautifully in these prints of maps, signs and advertisements from the streets of Italy. You should go.

It’s beautiful here isn’t it…Photographs by Luigi Ghirri
Through 1/29/9
Aperture Gallery & Bookstore
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
Between 10th and 11th Avenues
New York, New York
Monday-Saturday: 10:00 a.m.—6:00 p.m.

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Events | New York

January 1st, 2009


by John Coakley

What can be said about the good folks at the Coney Island Sideshow that hasn’t been said before? They’re funny, talented, and able keepers of a cultural flame that would be long extinguished without their help. Most of them are extremely flexible too, so yes, add sexy to the list. They share their unique gifts with the world each summer in Coney Island, but this Friday a big chunk of the cast (Donny Vomit, Heather Holliday, Angelica, Serpentina and Shockmeister Scott Baker) will take over the Highline Ballroom for a show that deals with “Freaky New Years Resolutions.” No disrespect, but Serpentina’s resolutions are probably more interesting than yours. You should go.

Coney Island Sideshow
1/2/9 @ 8pm
$10, all ages show.
Highline Ballroom
431 W 16th Street
(212) 414-5994
Get tickets here.

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | Events | New York

December 31st, 2008


by John Coakley

The forecast for tomorrow calls for clear skies and a brisk 25 degrees. Perfect conditions to kill that hangover by jumping into the Atlantic with the Polar Bear Club. Okay, maybe it won’t cure your hangover, but at least you’ll be focused on something else. The Polar Bears are working with Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children with life-threatening diseases and their families—if you make a donation to the camp then you’ll get free admission to the New York Aquarium. You’ll probably have a much better appreciation for aquatic lifeforms after spending a few minutes in the water yourself.

The big plunge happens at 1pm, but get there at noon to see Polar Bear Club member Strongman Steve Ekstance, who recently pulled a dumptruck by his teeth and dead lifted 1000 lbs. in support of Camp Sunshine; he’ll be appearing on the boardwalk, performing similar feats of strength. Should be a hoot. You should go.

New Years Day on the beach
The Boardwalk @ Stillwell Avenue
1/1/9 @ noon

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | Events | New York | Take Action

December 30th, 2008


by John Coakley

See? This is what happens when you forget your glasses before a gig.

New Year’s Eve is traditionally a time for big-time celebration and merriment, but let’s face it—not everyone wants to spend hundreds of dollars to compete for space on a crowded dance floor and pretend to live like cologne/clothing/vodka salesman Sean Combs. Some of us prefer our music to be live, angry, and cathartic, and we’d rather not shell out half a month’s rent to hear it just because it’s the last night of the year, thank you.

So be grateful that the Mercury Lounge is hosting such an amazing show tomorrow night. Dirty on Purpose makes the kind of noisy but melodic rock that can either get you moving or provide that perfect after-work comedown noise. You’ll probably opt for the former when you see them live, especially since this is their last show ever and they’ll probably be more ferocious than usual. And headliners A Place to Bury Strangers are widely known as New York’s loudest band; those of you who missed My Bloody Valentine last fall may get to experience an equivalent sonic assault. Nothing soothes the anxiety of unemployment better than 130 decibel soundwaves. Bring earplugs, but go.

A Place to Bury Strangers w/ Dirty on Purpose, The Vandelles, + My Best Fiend
12/31/8 @ 8:30pm
$25; advance tickets at Mercury Lounge box office, noon-7pm
The Mercury Lounge
217 East Houston Street

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Events | New York

December 27th, 2008


by John Coakley

Elysian Fields is one of those bands that got snapped up in the mid 90’s major label feeding frenzy, then quickly got dropped once their record failed to sell millions. They’ve been doing just fine on independent labels since then, their smoky, moody blend of alt-rock maturing at it’s own pace and discretion all the while. Fans of Lori Carson, Cowboy Junkies, and Jeff Buckley should take note, especially since it looks like this night at The Stone will be the only local show this NYC band will play all winter. It’s sensuous stuff, so bring your sweetie. Just don’t be too obvious when you’re drooling over singer Jennifer Charles. You should go.

Elysian Fields
12/28/8 @ 8pm
The Stone
Avenue C and 2nd Street
students 13 to 19 admitted half price
children 12 and under free

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Events | New York

December 26th, 2008


by John Coakley

HUAC Friendly Witness Ronald Reagan.

Andy Christie hosts the Liar Show, a night of storytelling and interrogation at the Cornelia Street Cafe. Four writers and comics take the stage to tell personal stories that will make you laugh, cry, and (hopefully) think; but pay attention, because only three of them are telling the truth. One of them is a big ol’ lying liar who lies a lot.

Which one is it? Well, that’s up to the audience to decide. After all the stories are told, the host takes your questions and the truth slowly comes to light. At the end of the Q + A session each audience member casts their vote. The winners get free T shirts and the collective contempt of the losers in the audience. It’s kind of like the House Un-American Activities Committee, except no one gets blacklisted. You should go.

The Liar Show
12/27/8 @ 6pm
$12, includes one house drink.
Cornelia Street Cafe
29 Cornelia St.
New York, NY 10014

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | Events | New York

December 25th, 2008


by John Coakley

A stable economy wouldn’t hurt either.

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | Community | Events | New York | News | Politics | Take Action | the Hamptons

December 24th, 2008

CHINESE + A MOVIE @ 92Y TRIBECA: 12/25/8 @ 2PM.

by John Coakley

Yeah, okay, tomorrow’s Christmas. Big Whoop. What if you think that, yes, Jesus had some very nice things to say to the world but was in fact mistaken about that whole Messiah business? What if you’re Jewish on this day of days? Or what if you’re a non-believer altogether but you prefer this Jewish tradition of Chinese food and a movie to the Christian tradition of church, ham, and watching It’s A Wonderful Life again?

Well, the good folks at 92Y Tribeca feel your pain. They’ll be offering a full Chinese food buffet while screening two Monty Python classics: Life of Brian (in which Graham Chapman is mistaken for the messiah and is given a tough Latin lesson by John Cleese) and The Holy Grail (in which Christianity is made fun of in all kinds of delightful ways). Maybe The Hebrew Hammer would have been more fitting, holiday-wise, but this will still be a hoot.You should go.

Chinese and a Movie
200 Hudson Street
12/25/8 @ 2pm
$25 advance/$30 day of
Get tickets here.

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | Events | New York

December 23rd, 2008


by John Coakley

Chanukah is in full swing and Christmas is a mere two days away. You still have to buy gifts for more people than you care to admit but the thought of braving Macy’s or its ilk sends you off to the corner, weeping into your heavily spiked eggnog. What to do?

Well, you could come down to Lafayette Street and visit one of the SoHo Journal’s neighbors. Clic Bookstore & Gallery is a cozy little shop filled with a comprehensive yet tasteful collection of photography books. Why get your sister an ill-fitting sweater when you can get her a collection of Gregory Crewdson‘s eerily evocative and meticulously composed shots of suburban life? Why give your friend a gift card when you can give him a collection of Nobuyoshi Araki‘s provocative nudes? If you need help you will be ably guided by Christiane Celle, the store’s owner and a friendly, passionate source of information. And you won’t have to deal with belligerent midtown crowds or Union Square craftmongers. You’re welcome.

Clic Bookstore & Gallery
189 Lafayette Street, between Broome + Grand
Monday-Saturday 11am-7pm
Sunday 12pm-7pm

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | Events | New York

December 18th, 2008


by Joelle Panisch

Hieronymus Bosch’s painting, Garden of Earthly Delights, has become a principal teaching in any art history class. From its 16th century depiction of the moral stages of man arose a progressive philosophical query about heaven, happiness, and sin. Martha Clark has captured these themes in her acclaimed play based on Bosch’s Masterpiece. Now 25 years later she brings Garden of Earthly Delights back to New York for a special 12-week run.

In this epoch, where perspective is very much needed, this is the play to see. Praised by critics city-wide, the play is described as, “An inspired synthesis of visual and performing magic…this breathtaking flight of imaginative genius is sexy, evocative, and unlike anything you’ve ever seen on stage.”

This is the perfect holiday gift for a time when people need some holiday perspective. Now through a special Soho Journal offer it’s only $42.50 for tickets. Happy holidays!

Garden of Earthly Delights
Through January 18, 2009
Blackout Dates: 12/26/08-1/03/09
TO ORDER YOUR $42.50 TICKETS: (reg. $69.50)
ONLINE: Go to and use code GDOFFER
PHONE: Call 212-307-4100 and mention code GDOFFER

Minetta Lane Theater
18 Minetta Lane (South of West 3rd Street, right off 6th Ave.)
Schedule: Tues at 7pm, Wed – Fri at 8pm,
Sat at 3pm & 8pm, Sun at 3pm & 7pm

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | Events | New York

December 11th, 2008


by Mark DeMaio

Connect Transfer.

Here in the States the opening ceremony of the 2008 summer Olympics held in Beijing was the most watched opening ceremonies of an Olympics not held in the US, and the second biggest television audience since the Super Bowl last year. More important than the total number of people who watched it across the world was what they watched.

Never in the history of the Olympics has a ceremony been so spectacular, so mesmerizing and so talked about. One of the men responsible for the grandeur and spectacle of this historic event was choreographer, artist, and photographer Shen Wei.

Shen Wei is the creator and choreographer of the internationally lauded Shen Wei Dance Arts in New York City. This artist’s work as a choreographer is so groundbreaking and new, so original and fascinating that one forgets you’re actually watching people; rather, the viewer is transported into a work of art in motion. This December Shen Wei will stage one of his most famous pieces, “Connect Transfer,” at the High Holy ground of dance, The Judson Church here in New York City. This piece combines all of Shen Wei’s many talents into one work. There will be only six performances and those lucky enough to get a ticket will experience a work of art without compare. In “Connect Transfer” the dancers dance on canvas, painting with their hands and feet as they go–artists in motion, creating art. At the end of the performance the canvas is cut into pieces and sold to the audience with the proceeds going to a dancers heath foundation. Shen Wei is the recipient of more awards, accolades and titles like genius (literally a genius–Shen Wei was awarded the MacArthur foundations Genius Award in 2007) than we have room to list.

A couple of weeks ago Shen Wei was gracious enough to take time out of his unbelievably busy schedule to do this interview. I have met a lot of artists and performers over the years but rarely have I met so ethereal a being, almost other-worldy in his grace. When meeting Shen Wei, you immediately realize you’re not in the presence of just another person, though his humble ways would have you think otherwise. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | Community | Events | New York

December 10th, 2008


by Joelle Panisch

My mother always told me to spend wise on accessories and frugal on trends. Hats last forever, and a smart one stays stylish from season to season. This holiday, give your loved a gift that will bring out the dapper in them. We suggest La China Loca Headware. The hats rely on classic shapes with modern details that give a smart, whimsical feel to any outfit. Today La China will be showcasing at Henri Bendels with all hats 20-40% off. Style on a budget…yummy.

La China Loca Trunk Show
December 10th, 2008 10am-9pm
Henri Bendel
712 5th Avenue between 55th and 56th Streets

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Events | New York

December 9th, 2008


by Joelle Panisch

Cup and Saucer by featured designer Bailey Doesn’t Bark.

Okay, perhaps I’m being a sentimentalist but I believe this is the time to support ‘mom & pop’ shops and independent designers. Opportunities are limited for emerging artists, so lend them your support this Wednesday by buying your holiday gifts at the ModernMart Holiday Gift Fair in Tribeca. It is among the most forward-thinking cultural and fashion events, one that features jewelry, housewares, and art by 12 young design groups. Most items are priced under $100, and there will be goodie bags for the first 100 guests. Can it get any better? Well…yes. Complimentary champagne and chocolates make everything better. Oh the holidays…

ModernMart IV: Holiday Gift Fair at DWR
Wednesday, December 10, 7-9pm
DWR Tribeca Studio
124 Hudson St
New York City, NY 10013
Click here to enter a raffle before you go!

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Events | New York

December 5th, 2008


by John Coakley

That’s right, folks, it was 75 years ago today that Prohibition was repealed and those pesky temperance do-gooders were told where to stick it. Prohibition’s main contribution was to inadvertently nurture the tender sapling of organized crime until it became a mighty gingko tree that still drops its stinky fruit on our sidewalks to this day. Thanks, guys.

On the other hand, the entrepreneurial spirit can’t be stopped—especially in this town—and speakeasies popped up all over the place in back rooms, apartments, and even former bars. The Ear Inn is a classic example of a New York City bar that just kept doing its thing when times got stupid. The building was erected in 1817 and in addition to a bar has been a private home, a brewery, a restaurant, a smuggler’s den, a brothel, and a home to at least one ghost. It looks that lived in when you walk through the door, but in the best possible way. The food’s pretty good, so settle in and make a night of it. Raise a backhanded toast to Carrie Nation while you’re there.

Ear Inn
326 Spring Street

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | Events | New York

December 4th, 2008


by John Coakley

The St. Luke’s School is holding its annual Christmas Fair this Saturday, and it should be a real hoot. Where else can you shop for gently used or hand-crafted presents, bid on more luxe items in an auction, see a puppet show, be made up to look like an elf, sing some karaoke, meet Santa, and eat some mighty fine chili all under the same roof? Nowhere else, my friend. All proceeds will benefit the St. Luke’s scholarship fund; given the city’s economic prospects, scholarship funds for good schools are worthy causes indeed. You should go.

‘Dreaming of a Green Christmas!’
St. Luke’s School’s Annual Christmas Fair
Saturday, 12/6/8 from 10am-5pm
487 Hudson Street, 1 block south of Christopher
General Admission: $5
Seniors: $3

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | Events | New York | Take Action

November 30th, 2008


by John Coakley

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated a 40% increase of new HIV infections in 2006, with 53% of new cases among men who have sex with men and 45% among African Americans. To make matters worse, New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released a report which suggested the rates of HIV infections among New Yorkers are three times higher than national rates.

What does this mean? It means that no matter your sexual preference or racial identity, you had better know your status. The good folks at Gay Men’s Health Crisis are offering free testing in Manhattan and Brooklyn on Monday, which happens to be World AIDS Day. There are a number of other events on the day itself and the days following, so click here to see what else is going on. And click here if you want to consider volunteering in a variety of capacities. We’re in this together, folks. AIDS is still a huge problem in New York, and knowing if you’re HIV positive or negative (and acting accordingly) is a big first step in becoming part of the solution.

Free HIV testing
Monday, 12/1/8
Brooklyn: Brooklyn Public Library, Cadman Plaza & Eastern Parkway. 10am—4pm
Manhattan: Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers Street. 11am—3pm

Filed Under: Community | Events | New York | Politics | Take Action

November 27th, 2008


by John Coakley

Enjoy your jellybeans, popcorn, and toast.

Filed Under: Community | Events | New York | Take Action

November 23rd, 2008


by John Coakley

When people started noticing that their friends and family members who smoked dropped dead a lot earlier than those who didn’t smoke, the tobacco companies met up with the good folk on Madison Avenue to create some of the most audacious advertisements this country has ever seen. And we’ve seen a lot here. This exhibit is a good reminder that no matter how reassuring their ads may be, you should never, ever trust a purveyor of addictive goods—or a drug dealer, as the kids say these days. Most definitely worth a look.

“Not a Cough in a Carload: Images Used by Tobacco Companies to Hide the Hazards of Smoking”
Through Dec. 26th
New York Public Library, Library of Science, Industry and Business
188 Madison Ave, at 34th St
Mondays 11am-6pm, Tuesdays through Thursdays 10am-8pm, Fridays-Saturdays 11am-6pm

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | Events | New York

November 22nd, 2008


by John Coakley

Apollo Heights plays White Music for Black People. No, that isn’t a callous summation of their status as black musicians making indie rock, that’s the name of their much-lauded debut album: White Music for Black People. It’s a sarcastically reductionist title for an album that sounds like nothing you’ve heard before. It’s a heady brew of Cocteau Twins style shoegazer and trippy psychedelica, with more energy than you’d expect from either genre. Their new EP, Everlasting Gobstopper, takes things even further. Get there early to catch Your 33 Black Angels, who also bring the serious rock power. Please note: the times listed below are approximate—you can pretty safely add half an hour to the times Mercury Lounge lists online and still see your band. You should go.

Mercury Lounge
217 E. Houston St. (corner Ave A & Houston)
Apollo Heights 10:30
Hollands (EP Release) 9:30
Your 33 Black Angels 8:30
The Electric Mess 7:30
Thomas Bryan Eaton 6:30

Filed Under: Articles | Events | New York

November 20th, 2008


by John Coakley

After much struggle, scores of deaths and billions in damage, the radioactively mutated Dora the Explorer was finally contained. Photo by ishot71
Thanks to Mommy Poppins for the heads up.

You can still call yourself a New Yorker if you’ve never been to the Statue of Liberty or to the top of the Empire State Building, but every true citizen of our fair city has to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons inflated at least once before the title New Yorker is truly earned. The wondrous and surreal feat is accomplished outside of the American Museum of Natural History on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. It usually begins at 2pm or 3pm and work continues until 10pm. You should enter at 77th St. and Columbus to get a good view. Be there around 6 if you want to get in front of the cameras and jump around like an idiot.

And if you want to actually see the parade on Thanksgiving Day, staking out a spot on Central Park West in the 60s is the recommended way to go if you want to avoid the serious crowd-crush.

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | Events | New York

November 16th, 2008


by John Coakley

Bush: will not be missed.

Unsurprisingly, the Bush administration is doing what it can to make our society as regressive as possible before we kick its collective ass to the curb. Case in point: new regulations that severely weaken the Family and Medical Leave Act. Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, says it better than I could so let’s give the floor to her:

“It’s disappointing that the Bush Administration in its waning days would undermine a policy that’s so vital to working families. Among other things, these new regulations will make it harder for employees to take FMLA leave and easier for employers to deny it. The United States lags far behind most countries in protecting the jobs of workers who have caregiving responsibilities or who happen to fall seriously ill. There could not be a worse time than during a serious economic downturn to ask workers to choose between their job and a family member or their own health. Rather than watering down these important family supports, we should be working to expand them. Congress and President-elect Obama will have to add these regulations to the ever-growing list of compassionless Bush Administration policies that must be reversed.”

Quite so. Rep. Maloney will be joined by NYC Councilmember Jessica Lappin, NOW-NYC Chair Noreen Connell, Francine Moccio of the Institute for Families and Work, and other women’s leaders tomorrow at a news conference to protest this shining example of why Bush won’t be missed. Join them, won’t you?

Monday, 11/17/8 @ 10:30 AM
City Hall Steps
Centre St. between Worth and Pearl

Filed Under: Commentary | Community | Events | New York | News | Politics | Take Action

November 14th, 2008


by Joelle Panisch

Marcello Lucero.

Thanks to Michael O’Neill for the heads up.

The November 8th murder and alleged hate crime of 37 year-old Ecuadorian Marcello Lucero in Patchogue, LI, has garnered local and national review of Suffolk County policies and practices, especially regarding immigration. Allegations of the intentional denial of hate crimes and of legislation that some believe is knowingly designed with loopholes to allow for immigrant harassment and to veil racially motivated crimes has stemmed suppositions of impropriety among Suffolk County legislature and County Executive, Steve Levy.

Overt blame is hard to prove but Levy, in his second term, has long been scrutinized for stewing a climate of hate and potential attacks. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Community | Events | News | Politics | Take Action | the Hamptons

November 11th, 2008

MY HAPPY GUN @ FONTANA’S: 11/13/8 @ 10PM.

by John Coakley

Highly unprofessional though it may be, I am going to promote My Happy Gun, my own band. There are three big reasons for doing this:

1. We rock.

2. The show is not in Brooklyn or Queens or Midtown but in the LES, on Eldridge Street—mere minutes from SoHo.

3. This will be my last show playing with them. They will no doubt find someone who can play rings around me and reach untold levels of fame and notoriety, so see us now while you can in Fontana’s before that happens.

Openers Obi Best and Juliette Commagere are worthy of your attention as well. Plus we’ll have a full moon that night, which means you’ll have an acceptable excuse for that extra drink or three. You should go.

105 Eldridge St.
Show @ 8pm, My Happy Gun @10pm

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Events | New York

November 6th, 2008


by Joelle Panisch

Mermaid, 2008

Eli Klein has scored one of the most propitious artistic talents emerging from China’s growing scene. Zhang Peng is still in his 20’s yet has received global acclaim for his photographs and paintings. A passing viewer best summed up his works as “hello kitty girls meet the devil.” It is that severe but definitely not that simple. Peng’s harsh images of young girls in suggestive settings is not unique because it avoids trends but rather because it utilizes many of them, employing a precise recipe. Shock art isn’t new, nor is the exploration of innocence and exploitation. Neither is art that depicts China’s national obsession with all things Western. But in his combination Peng does something right. It’s violent, fascinating, and appealing. It is art that will make you ponder.

To learn more about Zhang Peng and to read his Artist’s Statement click here.

Zhang Peng: Fascinating Beauty
November 8th though January 5th
Opening Reception Saturday, November 8th 6-9pm.
Eli Klein Fine Art
462 West Broadway

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | Events | New York