Comedian Seth Meyers with Senator Al Franken at an event hosted by The Strand bookstore at Cooper Union. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
Minnesota Senator Al Franken spoke with comedian Seth Meyers about the inner-workings of Washington and using humor with his Senate colleagues in an event hosted by The Strand in Cooper Union’s Great Hall at the beginning of this month. The Strand usually hosts book signing events in their store on Broadway near East 12th Street but has recently been hosting bigger events with high-profile authors in the hall, such as an event with Bernie Sanders last December.
Franken, who was a comedian and at one time a writer and performer for “Saturday Night Live,” before becoming a senator, talked with Meyers about the balancing act of whether or not he could use humor in his position in the government.
“The Taking of Pelham 123,” one of the films in Film Forum’s “Ford to City: Drop Dead” series that’s running through July 27
By Seth Shire
“Ford to City: Drop Dead—New York in the 70s” is a movie series playing at Film Forum now through July 27. The 70s, considered to be the last golden age of American cinema, is filled with some of my favorite movies, many of which were shot in New York. The titles in this series include “Dog Day Afternoon,” “Saturday Night Fever,” “The Taking of Pelham 123” and many others.
On the one hand, this is a series tailor made for me. On the other hand, since I already own many of these movies on DVD, why should I pay to see them in a movie theater? Still, as a practical matter, how often do I actually watch the movies that I have on DVD? I think it’s an existential issue. In other words, having lots of movies on DVD means that I have the possibility of watching them, even if the reality is that I rarely watch them. This is the dilemma presented to the movie aficionado in the digital age, in which almost everything is available at his, or her, fingertips. Had home video and all its variations – VHS, laser disc, DVD, Blu-Ray, streaming – not been invented, then Film Forum’s series would be a “no-brainer” for me. Of course I would go. So saying I won’t see a particular film when it plays in a theater because I have it on a DVD that I almost never watch means running the risk of not seeing the film at all!
Poet MC Hyland offered a bookmaking workshop last week at Madison Square Park. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
This time of year, even if you don’t get to go on vacation there are still some good times to be had thanks to free summer programming at a number of local parks. This is nothing new of course but this year the event organizers with The Madison Square Park Conservancy have changed things up by making some of its activities interactive.
The programming kicked off recently with the installation of “Prismatic Park,” a sculptural staging area where dancers, poets and spoken word artists have been invited to perform on the lawn. Then last week MC Hyland, a visiting poet was in the park for a few days to hold an event in which park goers were encouraged to stroll around with someone else and then have each person write something to give to their companion. The writing exercise actually began more specifically with participants instructed to write a poem, but Hyland, upon noticing people’s faces freeze at the thought of poetry, then began telling them to write anything.
“I understand for many people poetry is a scary word,” said Hyland, who adapted the activity based on her own habit of leading walks and then writing a poem for participants.
Historical figures will speak through technology
Statue of Peter Stuyvesant in Stuyvesant Square Park (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Most of the time, the monuments built to honor historical figures go unnoticed by New Yorkers. Up on their pedestals, how could they even hope to compete with whatever is below, flashing on park goers’ cell phones? Fortunately for our forefathers, a history-loving Dane has found a way to get the stories behind the statues told today in a modern way.
David Peter Fox, a TV producer and documentary maker from Copenhagen, has for the past 18 months been organizing installations in different cities where statues speak to park goers via their smartphones. The project began in Denmark, then later went on to London and then the Unites States in San Diego and Chicago. Then on Wednesday, July 12, Talking Statues came to New York.
“I got the idea in 2013,” said Fox, reached on the phone this week. “I was curious about the stories that are behind statues.”
To make the project a reality, Fox and others fundraised to be able to hire a team of actors, one to play the part of each statue, and writers to come up with the material. To hear any of the 35 city monuments’ stories, participants just approach a statue, and scan a code on a sign. They will need a wi-fi connection and a QR scanner or scanning app on their phones to do this or they can type the web address they see on the sign. After that, the individual will be contacted from the great beyond.
Dancer Megan Nordle performs at Stuyvesant Cove Park.
By Sabina Mollot
Recently, a Stuyvesant Town journalist and artist found inspiration in a section of her neighborhood that’s so small it’s likely to get overlooked even by people who pass it by all the time.
That plot of land is a rocky outcropping of the shoreline that’s covered in sand and a known hangout for ducks and geese.
Karen Loew, who refers to the spot in Stuyvesant Cove Park as “the beach,” first found herself drawn to it for a simple reason. She liked it. But after learning about the controversial history of the location as well as the park itself from a neighbor, Loew knew she wanted to film it. She went on to put together an exhibition of photography as well as a short, dance film, called “No Man’s Land,” that will be shown at the 14th Street Y this summer.
A sculpture by Josiah McElheny will become a performance space. (Photo courtesy of Madison Square Park Conservancy)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
With the arrival of Madison Square Park’s new summer installation next Tuesday comes a handful of artists who have created performance pieces to interact with the work in week-long residencies. Prismatic Park, a sculpture by artist Josiah McElheny made of glass tile and wood creating individual performance spaces for the artists, offers a translucent sound wall for experimental music, a reflective floor for dance and a vaulted pavilion for poetry.
Artist MC Hyland, who will be doing the first poetry residency for the project from July 4 to 9, won’t be using the space for typical poetry readings but decided to expand on a project she’s already been working on that is more interactive than straight performance. Hyland has a degree in book arts in addition to an MFA in poetry, and when she went back to school for English literature recently, she started reading more poetry by William Wordsworth, who wrote some of his work about walking and talking with friends.
Posted in Entertainment, Events
- Tagged Blank Forms, dance, Danspace Project, DoubleCross Press, Josiah McElheny, madison square park, Madison Square Park Conservancy, poetry, Poets House, prismatic park, public art
Emily Ruderman, member of theater troupe that benefits charities (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
When Stuy Town resident Emily Ruderman made a shift in her career away from the arts, it happened to coincide with the beginning of her involvement in a Manhattan theater troupe, giving her a new creative outlet.
Ruderman, who used to work for nonprofit Roundabout Theatre and later Nickelodeon, started as a project manager at the advertising agency Grey about five months ago, and became a member of the Blue Hill Troupe about a month before starting her new job.
The all-volunteer troupe is based uptown and produces a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta and a Broadway musical every year, as well as a concert, to benefit various charities throughout the city. The organization focuses on one charity each year and this year is partnering with Rocking the Boat, a Bronx-based nonprofit that teaches high school students about science and math through boatbuilding and sailing programs.
The spring show for the company is “City of Angels.” It premiered on April 21 and will have its final two shows this coming weekend at El Teatro of El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem.
Participants arrived at the Union Square station in their knickers after participating in the ride on Sunday. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
New Yorkers braved below-freezing temperatures and the remains of the weekend’s snowstorm for the annual No Pants subway ride on Sunday, organized by comedy group Improv Everywhere. The pantsless riders converged on Union Square around 4 p.m. after riding through the subway system from various origin points.
The prank has been hosted by Improv Everywhere for the last 16 years, beginning with only seven participants in 2002. Since then, the event has grown to include more than 4,000 pantsless New Yorkers, with other cities organizing their own events throughout the world.
The idea behind the prank is that passengers board subway cars at different stops in the middle of winter without pants on. Participants behave like they don’t know each other and wear other winter-weather clothing like coats, hats, gloves and scarves, and the only unusual aspect of their appearance is their lack of pants.
Garland Jeffreys being inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame by David Johansen, formerly of The New York Dolls (Photo by Arnie Goodman)
By Sabina Mollot
Stuyvesant Town rock singer Garland Jeffreys has been keeping busy lately.
The veteran musician, now 73, was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in November.
Additionally, his early hit song “Wild in the Streets” was recently featured in the Netflix original series “The Get Down” and was also included on the official RCA soundtrack for the show.
Then, last Tuesday, Jeffreys launched a PledgeMusic crowd-funding campaign aimed at producing a new album and a documentary about his career.
The doc features Harvey Keitel, Laurie Anderson and Graham Parker, all singing the Brooklyn-born crooner’s praises. The album is expected to be released sometime in the spring.
Finally, in keeping with what has become an annual tradition, Jeffreys will be performing at Joe’s Pub at 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. His 20-year-old daughter Savanna, who’s also a musician, will open the set with some of her own songs and the father and daughter will also perform a duet.
Reached at home, Jeffreys spoke with Town & Village about the aforementioned projects and a European tour planned for 2017.
A rough rendering of the installation to come, which is being designed with artist participation in mind
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Madison Square Park is getting a new interactive space with the installation of the park conservancy’s next outdoor exhibition this coming spring. Artist Josiah McElheny designed the “Prismatic Park,” which is composed of painted wood and prismatic glass, and is designed with the idea of being an outdoor studio space for musicians, dancers and poets.
A blue curvilinear sound wall offers acoustics for experimental music, a circular and reflective green floor will beckon dancers while and a red roofed pavilion will be built for the use of poets.
Nonprofit art organizations Blank Forms, Danspace Project and Poets House are collaborating with the Madison Square Park Conservancy to help resident artists create new work within the public spaces. McElheny designed the piece specifically so that it would be interacted with and not just looked at, and he said that he hopes it will be used not only for performances but also as a rehearsal or impromptu workshop space.
Fishs Eddy owner Julie Gaines stands by a wall dedicated to Hillary Clinton that’s covered in hundreds of write-in “votes” from customers. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
In the days following Donald Trump’s stunning upset, some New Yorkers who voted for Hillary Clinton found themselves instinctively heading to a certain storefront in Flatiron. A place they went in search of comfort, with other likeminded individuals with whom they could commiserate. And they did so while raising mugs — empty ones — with Clinton’s own mug on the side.
That place is, after all, not a pub but a home goods shop, Fishs Eddy, which, in the months leading up to last week’s election, had resembled a playful shrine to the woman expected to become the next president.
By October, the store was stacked high with the Clinton mugs. Other mugs bore her husband’s portrait with the caption “First First Man 2016.” Donald Trump made an appearance too on the side of an espresso cup along with the caption “HUUUUGE!” (He also appeared on a drink tray with the caption “You’re welcome” and a top selling “I’m HUUUUGE” set of condoms.) Other options for mugs included Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and cups bearing portraits of numerous Republicans like Marc Rubio and Chris Christie. President Barack Obama’s birth certificate was printed out on trays, a hot item since the beginning of the “birther” movement.
A wall of Post-it notes at the Union Square subway station followed a wall of Post-its put up at the14th Street station between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
New Yorkers looking for an outlet to express their feelings need look no further than a local subway station.
Brooklyn-based artist Matthew “Levee” Chavez has been stationed in the underground tunnel along 14th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues almost every day since the election, armed with Post-its and pens for commuters passing through.
Union Square station has also become home to a wall covered in the sticky notes, but Chavez said that he wasn’t directly involved in starting that.
“I feel responsible for the project and all the other ones that have popped up but I think people thought the original one was at Union Square and just went with it, bringing their own Post-its and pens,” he said.
Program organizers Alex Nguyen, Dusty Brown, Arlene Harrison and Rev. Dr. Tom Pike (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
An old furnace room in St. George’s Church on East 16th Street in the past year has become gathering place for New Yorkers to experience the arts on a budget. Known as the Cave, the space has played host to jazz concerts, literary readings and plays, and until recently the programming operated parallel to each other but separately. But the three organizers have now come together to create the Olmsted Salon with the combined goal of getting the community more involved in the arts.
“That’s the core of the program,” said Arlene Harrison, president of the Gramercy Park Block Association, which has been working with organizers Alex Nguyen, Dusty Brown and Maria Bowler. “There are underserved populations and we want to connect people through art, culture and conversation.”
Posted in Entertainment, Gramercy
- Tagged Alex Nguyen, Bertolt Brecht, calvary church, Gramercy Park Block Association, jazz, literary readings, Olmsted Salon, St. George's Church, theater, Tom Pike, Tony Hale
Dick Belsky, who writes under the name R.G. Belsky, is releasing the fourth in a series of novels written from the perspective of an investigative reporter. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Gramercy resident and novelist Dick Belsky, who’s written three books about an investigative reporter named Gil Malloy, has just completed the fourth in the series.
The novel, scheduled to be released (by Simon & Schuster, $16) on October 18, is called Blonde Ice.
Like the previous books, the story revolves around the disgraced but still ambitious Daily News reporter, who this time, is trying to uncover the identity of a female serial killer.
The killer, a sexy blonde, picks men up at New York City bars and clubs, and then brutally murders them.
Belsky, who up until recently, spent his career as a journalist, said his inspiration for the character came from the Son of Sam. Having lived in New York and worked in newspapers at that time, he remembered the way the strings of shootings paralyzed the city. Bars were empty and women dyed their hair blonde since the killer, David Berkowitz, targeted brunettes.
Walis Johnson, a filmmaker, artist and teacher at Parsons School of Design, is looking to interview residents of Stuyvesant Town who have lived in the neighborhood for 30 years or longer. The conversations will aid in her production of “The Red Line Archive,” a mobile art piece aimed at igniting public dialogue about the political, social and personal impacts of the 1938 Red Line Maps. The project will be part of the Art in Odd Places festival that takes place every October along the length of 14th Street.
Redlining refers to a federal map officially drawn in 1935 that selectively denied financing for housing mortgages, insurance and other services in neighborhoods demarcated by red shading on a map. Redlined neighborhoods became zones of disinvestment and urban neglect where services (both financial and human) were systematically denied to people of color and ethnic working class citizens.
For this years’ AiOP festival, themed “Race,” Johnson is working with photographer Murray Cox and NYU professor Aimee vonBokel to add information to the site specific exhibition about the area of 14th Street from First Avenue to Avenue C.
Posted in Entertainment, Events, Exhibits
- Tagged 14th street, Aimee vonBokel, art in odd places, Avenue C, First Avenue, Murray Cox, NYU, Parsons School of Design, red line maps, site specific art, The Red Line Archive, walis johnson