Friday, April 30, 2010

Another Shepard Fairey piece going up in Brooklyn...

...this one on The Green Building, at 450 Union St. in Gowanus, the site of many of Gemini and Scorpio party. Follow the progress here.

This comes after he erected two murals at the Music Hall of Williamsburg this week, as well as opened up his own pop-up shop and spoke at the Brooklyn Museum. Oh yeah, and there's that whole show, too, which opens tomorrow. Dude is busy!

Photo: Gemini and Scorpio


The weekend: 4.30-5.2

It's here: your weekend roundup, a look at events happening in a neighborhood near you.

Friday, April 30

Park Slope: Jazz man Howard Fishman is back in Brooklyn, with an intimate show at Barbes.

Coney Island: A mix of old-fashioned showmanship with a modern flair come to Burlesque at the Beach, courtesy of Wasabassco Burlesque, featuring the Reigning Miss Coney Island herself, GiGi La Femme, plus a cast of ecdysiasts, magicians, snake charmers and flim-flam artists. At 10 pm. Tickets $15. Located at 1208 Surf Ave.

Saturday, May 1

Park Slope: Find all your spring needs this weekend at the Lyceum's craft and food market. Also Sunday.

Around town: It's Derby Day! Follow our guide to horsing around, from the best parties to making the perfect mint julep to placing bets.

Crown Heights: Don a kimino and head to Sakura Matsuri - the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's cherry blossom festival.

Sunday, May 2

Fort Greene: Explore the neighborhood's houses and venues in this unique house tour.

Park Slope: Here the man - Martin Van Peebles - speak about his illustrious career.


Chicken & egg thing

By Elizabeth Dana

Ditmas Park backyard farm since 2007. But he’s not only doing it for the meat.

Inspired by the “locavore movement” that encourages eating locally grown food, Howard took it one step further: to live off only what he could grow in his backyard for an entire month.
He did it — and got a book out of it, too.

“My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned His Big-City Backyard into a Farm” chronicles how Howard converted his urban backyard into a vegetable garden, chicken coop, rabbit hutch and duck pond. His summer was filled with demanding physical labor, chasing rabbits and, of course, castrating chickens.

The idea — at least originally — was to go beyond the trendiness of being a locavore and actually learn what it means to grow food and raise livestock in an urban setting.

But animal deaths, a near breakdown of his marriage, a tornado — the first to hit Brooklyn in over a hundred years — and a severed finger tested his physical, mental and emotional strengths.

“I didn’t have any idea that this thing would grab me by the ears and pull me into the ground with it,” said Howard. “It was certainly all-consuming, but it was never a question that I would finish.”

Nearly three years later, “the farm” is still functioning, albeit on a smaller scale — more low-maintenance chickens have replaced the now-deceased rabbits, for example.

The experience made him realize that the locavore movement falls short.

“Knowing the farmer and being the farmer are two totally different things,” he said.

Manny Howard will read from “My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned His Big-City Backyard into a Farm” at Sunny’s Bar [253 Conover St. between Beard and Reed streets in Red Hook, (718) 625-8211] on May 2 at 3 pm; and Greenlight Book Store [686 Fulton St. at Portland Ave. in Fort Greene, (718) 246-0200] on May 13 at 7:30 pm.

Photo by Stefano Giovannini


Knock, and the door shall be opened

By Tony Cella

Brooklyn voyeurs, here’s your chance to see how the other half lives — the other half that lives better than you do, that is.

Yes, folks, house tour season is upon us once again. Starting this weekend and through the fall, the cream of the crop in nearly a dozen neighborhoods across the borough will be opening up their doors for those who can’t get enough of unique architectural details, modern home decor or simply meeting new people.

Want in? Here’s your one-stop shop for all of that this year’s self-guided house tours have to offer, from the landmarked homes of Brooklyn Heights to the brownstones of Bedford-Stuyvesant.

DATE: May 2
TIME: Noon–5 pm
COST: $20 in advance
STARTING LOCATION: BAM Triangle Park, Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street
HIGHLIGHTS: Behind-the-scenes tours of BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House, as well as a focus on places where people live and work, such as an artist who has a studio in her home. “It’s a lifestyle that a lot of people are beginning to associate with Brooklyn,” said Hallie Kapner, of the Fort Greene Association.
BASIC INFO: For info, visit or call (718) 875-1855

DATE: May 8
TIME: 1–5 pm
COST: $40
STARTING LOCATION: 129 Pierrepont St. at Clinton Street
HIGHLIGHTS: An Italianate styled brownstone built in 1865. The current owners have restored the villa-styled building’s double-door stoop, which was removed during the 1950s in favor of a black brick door “the size of a closet,” said Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association.
BASIC INFO: For info, visit or call (718) 858-9193

DATE: May 16
TIME: Noon to 5 pm
COST: $20
STARTING LOCATION: Poly Prep Country Day School, 50 Prospect Park West at First Street
HIGHLIGHTS: A 1919 Neo-Tudor, one of the last single-family homes built in the neighborhood. “The house has a driveway that leads up to the house because back then, people actually had cars,” said Candace Woodward, of the Park Slope Civic Council.
BASIC INFO: For info, visit, or call (718) 832-8227

DATE: May 23
TIME: 1–5 pm
COST: $20 in advance
STARTING LOCATION: Bishop Mugavero Center, Hoyt and Pacific streets
HIGHLIGHTS: An 1870s Italianate brownstone with flat Greco revival facades and an expansive third floor family room with Scrabble and Play-doh stashed in antique wooden cabinets.
BASIC INFO: For info, visit or call (718) 625-4073

DATE: May 23
TIME: Noon–5 pm
COST: $20 in advance
STARTING LOCATION: K-Dog & Dunebuggy, 43 Lincoln Rd. between Ocean and Flatbush avenues
HIGHLIGHTS: The kitchen in a free-standing neo-Georgian two-story English-bond brick home: arched doors lead to a dramatic full-width black and white kitchen featuring high-end European appliances housed in an ingenious triple island design.
BASIC INFO: For info, visit or call (718) 284-6210

DATE: June 6
TIME: 11 am–5 pm
COST: $15 in advance
HIGHLIGHTS: Symbols, Parables and Healing, a biblical-themed garden run by Teen Challenge, a group that helps keep kids off the streets.
BASIC INFO: For info, visit or call (718) 852-9283

DATE: June 13
TIME: 1–6 pm
COST: $20 in advance
STARTING LOCATION: Temple Beth Emith (83 Marlborough Rd. near E. 15th Street)
HIGHLIGHTS: Legitimate houses; home and garden enthusiasts come from all over the country to tour this suburban oasis.
BASIC INFO: For info, visit or call (718) 859-3800

DATE: Oct. 2
TIME: 11 am-4 pm
COST: $20 in advance
HIGHLIGHTS: Artist and artisan homes, historic places of worship and architecturally significant residential buildings.
BASIC INFO: For info, visit or call (917) 748-4664

DATE: Oct. 16
TIME: 11 am-4 pm
COST: $15 in advance
STARTING LOCATION: Brooklyn Academy at Marcy and Putnam avenues (tentative)
HIGHLIGHTS: In addition to gorgeous brownstones and limestones, this year’s will feature the Bed-Stuy Bazaar — get started on that holiday shopping early.
BASIC INFO: For info, visit or call (718) 221-2213

— with Elizabeth Dana


Jazz up that rotisserie chicken!

By Helen Klein

Sometimes the easiest thing to do for dinner on a weeknight is pick up a ready-to-eat repast.

Ready-prepared rotisserie chicken from the appetizing department stands out — it’s quick to set on the table, but it’s not fast food.

That said, you can augment it easily, turning a quick main course into a full meal — with about 15 minutes of prep time.

The results are well worth the extra effort. The meat, slathered with a coating of olive oil, reheats to tender succulence sitting on a bed of roasting vegetables sparked with herbal accents.

Stock — including the juices scraped from the rotisserie chicken container — helps cook the veggies (which get a head start in the microwave), concentrating the flavor and keeping the veggies and the chicken moist.

With a combination of starchy and non-starchy vegetables — which can be mixed and matched to accommodate the bounty of your produce drawer and to bring in a variety of taste, texture and nutrients — it’s truly a full meal in a single pan that feels home-cooked.

It also brings home one of life’s little secrets: pitch the packaging, and only the cook needs to know exactly how easy it was to set dinner on the table.

Rotisserie Plus
Serves 4


1 rotisserie chicken
4 large red potatoes, cut into 1” chunks
1/4 lb. baby carrots, cut in half
1 stalk celery, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1/3 large sweet onion, cut into large dice
2 cups chicken stock
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Approximately 1–2 tsp. olive oil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put the chicken into a roasting pan that’s large enough to hold it and the vegetables comfortably.
Put the vegetables in a microwave-safe dish and cook, according to your microwave’s instructions, until tender when pierced with a fork.

Add the vegetables to the roasting pan, along with the stock, herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
Sprinkle chicken and vegetables with paprika.

Brush the chicken with the oil.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and place in oven, cooking 30–40 minutes, turning front to back after the first 20 minutes and adding liquid if necessary, till chicken is heated through and the vegetables are tender.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Come together! New show units the Beatles and burlesque

Fans of the Beatles and burlesque — this is your ticket to ride.

Inspired by David Bowie glam rock tributes, a new show in Williamsburg is all about the Fab Four — and the teasing performance art known as burlesque.

The two, according to the show’s creator, Calamity Chang, are a natural fit.

“The Beatles were transgressors in a time of political unrest much like now,” said Chang, aka “Yoko Chang,” who hosts the monthly show at Public Assembly, next up on May 10. “Through burlesque, which is a transgressive art form in itself, it seemed like the perfect event that can reach more than just an insular community.”

John, Paul, Ringo and George are channeled by the tribute band Ticket to Ride, who back up the performers as they strip and sing along to songs pulled from the Beatles’ extensive canon, such as the raunchy “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?”

A natural fit, indeed.

Beatles Burlesque at Public Assembly [70 N. Sixth St. between Wythe and Kent avenues in Williamsburg, (718) 384-4586], May 10 at 9 pm. Tickets $10. For info, visit

Photo by Melody Mudd


Icelandic volcano can't stop this 'Eurotrash' show

Some Euro ash nearly spoiled “Eurotrash.”

With artists unable to fly in from Europe thanks to a certain volcanic eruption, the opening of the latest show at Brooklynite Gallery was up in the air — until the Bedford-Stuyvesant space rescheduled its opening night party for May 8.

The exhibition features two of the most influential international street artists working today: Norwegian stencil artist Dolk and Polish muralist M-City.

Find a mostly monochromatic piece with one color statement — often a yellow banana in a nod to Andy Warhol — and it’s likely a piece by Dolk. Of late, the artist has incorporated another yellow symbol into his work; in the striking “Tweety-Halo,” a young woman with a halo has her hands clasped in prayer while a trio of Tweety Birds circle her as if ripped from a Looney Tunes cartoon.

M-City also works mostly in grayscale, leaving his sprawling murals of smoke-stack factories, steam ships and city blocks on public spaces across the globe.

For “Eurotrash,” they’re compressed to a canvas, such as in “Cactus Factory,” comprised of an imposing cactus with arms that morph into smoke stacks, spewing ash into the sky. How fitting.

“Eurotrash” at Brooklynite Gallery [334 Malcolm X. Blvd. between Decatur and Bainbridge streets in Bedford-Stuyvesant, (347) 405-5976], May 8-May 29, with an opening reception from 7-10 pm. For info, visit


Under the baroque top

Little Red Riding Hood, meet Lady Gaga.

In “Le Cirque Feerique (The Fairy Circus),” a new production from Boerum Hill’s Company XIV, classic children’s fairy tales are turned on their heads, told through ballet, flamenco, ballroom and contemporary dance, and a range of music, from pieces by Vivaldi to Aphex Twin (watch the "trailer' here).

As befitting the company’s mission, there’s a strong baroque presence, as the group collaborates with a baroque opera trio and sings popular songs by artists such as Lady Gaga in a baroque manner.

“It’s a really eclectic show,” said director Austin McCormick. “A lot of the costumes and design is super-duper over the top, which is baroque.”

For the all-ages show, which opens on May 8 and is performed as a traveling circus, McCormick picked his favorite fairy tales, first infusing them with a 17th-century design aesthetic and then juxtaposing that with more modern elements. There’s “The Ugly Duckling” as “Swan Lake,” “The Princess and the Pea” performed using Indian dance, “Little Red Riding Hood” set to Lady Gaga’s “Monster.” Needless to say, this big top is over the top.

“It could be a giant freak show,” said McCormick. “Hopefully it is.”

“Le Cirque Feerique (The Fairy Circus)” at 303 Bond Street Theatre (303 Bond St. between Union and Sackett streets in Carroll Gardens, no phone), May 8-June 6. For info, visit


Style council! Brooklyn Museum opens its closet with fashion exhibition

By Elizabeth Dana

Dior. Schiaparelli. Lanvin.

You’re more likely to see such names in fashion magazines, but next month, they’ll be on the walls of the Brooklyn Museum — when the borough’s pre-eminent art gallery throws open its closet for the first large-scale exhibition from its enormous fashion collection in 20 years.

“American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection” opens on May 7 and will feature 85 pieces by renowned French, Italian and American designers including Elisa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Lanvin, Arnold Scaasi and Christian Dior — “tracing the evolution of fashion in American from its 19th-century European beginnings through the late-20th century,” Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold Lehman said.

One highlight is Schiaparelli’s famous “Insect Necklace” — a collaboration with Surrealist Salvador Dali that comprises a chain of metallic bugs that look like they’re crawling on the neck of the wearer. It’s considered one of the most important works in a collection that also includes slim evening dresses by Charles James, gold silk lounging pajamas by Norman Norell and jaunty sun hats by Sally Victor.

It’s centuries of fashion for just the price of the museum’s suggested admission fee. Just don’t ask to try anything on.

“American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection” at the Brooklyn Museum [200 Eastern Pkwy. at Washington Avenue in Crown Heights, (718) 638-5000], May 7–Aug. 1. Admission $10. For info, visit


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sing your barbaric yawp! Whitman's masterpiece adapted as a piece of musical theater

Who needs to sound your barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world when you can sing it?

This month, Walt Whitman’s masterpiece “Song of Myself” gets the musical-theater treatment, thanks to the troupe Compagnia de’ Colombari, which has rechristened the Brooklyn bard’s beloved poem as “More or Less I Am.”

The production honors Whitman’s celebration of American diversity through an international mix of actors, musicians and children speaking and singing Whitman’s words, with music courtesy of genre-defying string ensemble Brooklyn Rider.

“Whitman intended ‘Song of Myself’ to inspire unity by celebrating America at a time when the country was deeply divided, and today the poem is more relevant than ever,” said director Karin Coonrod.

The show about diversity will travel the borough for performances in the diverse settings as Bargemusic in DUMBO (a benefit launch on May 5), Fort Greene Park (May 6), and the Old Stone House (May 11) in Park Slope.

Audience members are also welcome to play a role in the production. So start practicing those yawps.

“More or Less I Am” at Bargemusic [2 Old Fulton St. at Furman Street in DUMBO, (718) 624-2083], May 5 at 8 pm; Fort Greene Park [Dekalb Avenue and Cumberland Street in Fort Greene, (718) 722-3218], May 6 at 7 pm; Old Stone House [336 Third St. at Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, (718) 768-3195], May 11 at 7 pm. Last two shows are free. For info, visit


Movable feast

By Tony Cella

When Ian Cheney takes his truck for a spin, he keeps more than spades and fertilizer in the back — he brings his whole garden with him.

On May 3, The Red Hook filmmaker, who grows crops out of the back of his 1968 Dodge pickup truck, will talk about his adventures in urban farming through video as part of the Open City Dialogue lecture series at Pete’s Candy Store.

“Urban gardens are essential for the future of city dwellers,” said Jamie Hook, who organizes the Williamsburg lecture series. “Growing food is necessary for a sustainable future for the city.”

The truck farm — which supports a 20-person produce buyers club called a CSA — will also be in tow that night, as Cheney shows other interested urban farmers how to build a trough when open land is few and far between.

Be ready to get your hands dirty.

Ian Cheney at Pete’s Candy Store [709 Lorimer St. near Richardson Street in Williamsburg, (718) 302-3770], May 3, 7:30 pm. For info, visit


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Shepard Fairey's stamp on Brooklyn

When not speaking at the Brooklyn Museum, Shepard Fairey took over the upstairs bar area at the Music Hall of Williamsburg this past weekend, creating a one-of-a-kind permanent installation of two murals on adjoining walls.

Listening to a playlist including Metallica, Fugazi, and Band of Horses, Fairey pasted posters featuring images demonstrating his disdain for the dysfunctional democracy and the need for campaign finance reform.

The murals are the only indoor artwork that Fairey is creating to support his exhibition and will be first viewed by the public at Hellyeah’s show tonight at 9 pm.

The Music Hall of Williamsburg is located at 66 N. Sixth Street between Kent and Wythe avenues.

Photos by Gregg Greenwood


Monday, April 26, 2010

By the way, there’s a race, too

If you can manage to put down that mint julep for 120 seconds and fix your eyes on the TV screen, you’re in for one of the greatest spectacles in all of sports.

Only a few thousand people attended the first Kentucky Derby in 1875, but now hundreds of thousands cram the infield and the rickety grandstand at Churchill Downs in Louisville for the big race, where fans sing a cleaned-up version of Stephen Fosters “My Old Kentucky Home” as the horses jog out to the starting gate.

Befitting its international renown, the Derby typically draws a field of nearly two dozen 3-year-olds — and as they leap from the starting gate, the track looks more like a Wild West stampede than one of the most important races on the circuit.

The horse that jumps to the lead by the first turn automatically becomes the bar crowd favorite, but only rarely in thoroughbred racing does a horse go wire-to-wire. How will you know if it’s likely to happen? When you’re watching on TV, little numbers periodically show up in the top corner of the screen to indicate the split time of the leader. If the number is less than :24 after the first quarter-mile, or less than :47 at the half-mile pole, the front-runner will fade.

And as the field turns for home, if the leader’s split time is less than 1:36, he’s done.

Handicapping the field is always a nightmare at the Derby — mostly because the sheer size of the field has encouraged longshots over the years. But here are a few rules:

1. Never count out the New York horse: Though no New Yorker has won the Derby since Funny Cide in 2003, this year’s Empire State favorite, Eskendereya, is coming off a big win in our own Wood Memorial, New York’s main Derby tuneup. He’ll likely be the favorite.

2. Who knows what to make of the California horses?: Horses that take the West Coast route to the Derby are no longer predictable, as their Derby tuneups are run on synthetic tracks. You never know how those colts and fillies will run on the comparative beach at Churchill Downs.

3. The Calvin factor: Jockey Calvin Borel has won two of the last three Derbies, last year on Mine That Bird, one of the longest shots to ever win the Run for the Roses. A $2 bet paid $103.20.

4. Bet on Todd Pletcher: Trainer Todd Pletcher, who worked under four-time Derby-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas, will have at least three horses, though as many as six, at the starting gate. He’s a hot trainer right now, so don’t count him out.

But whatever you do, put down $2 on someone. At the Derby, you never know.

-Gersh Kuntzman


Make a mint

The mint julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, but do you know how to make one? William Crane, manager of the Bell House, shares his recipe:

Crushed ice
1 oz. mint-steeped simple syrup
3 oz. bourbon
3-4 twigs of mint
Splash of seltzer

Put mint in the bottom of a mixing glass. Pour in simple syrup, seltzer and one ounce bourbon. Use a muddler to crush the mint leaves and mix the bourbon and syrup. Add the rest of the bourbon. Let stand for about three minutes. Strain into a cocktail glass filled with shaved ice. Garnish with a mint sprig.


Horsing around: Derby Day is nigh

Call it the anti-Superbowl.

Every year on the first Saturday of May, Kentucky Derby enthusiasts dress to the nines, don towering hats and sip mint juleps in hours of buildup for a sporting event that lasts just two minutes.

While the festivities get underway at the iconic Churchill Downs thousands of miles away, each year, Brooklynites get into the spirit the dapper way, sporting Seersucker Suits and bringing some Southern charm to their local bars.

Off the ‘Hook’

Jamie Hook has been a fan of the Derby since he was a little boy.

“I’ve always been obsessed with the Kentucky Derby,” said Hook, who is organizing a Derby party at Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg for the May 1 festivities. “I love looking forward to something all year that’s over in 120 seconds. Most things in this world promise too little and take too long, but the Derby is one of the very few things that promises a lot and takes very little time. I just love that about it.”

Derby novices are welcome to partake in the festivities, as the party will feature a hat-making corner for the ladies, stats on all the horses, courtesy of Hook, and an Idiots Stakes — where the losers win.

Get your fill of Southern fare as well with the Bluegrass Blue-Plate Special — barbecued baby-back ribs, potato salad, and Derby pie with whipped cream.

Pete’s Candy Store [709 Lorimer St. near Richardson Street in Williamsburg, (718) 302-3077] at 7 pm. Free. For info, visit

Derby ‘Triple Crown’

Pete’s isn’t the only game in town. The Kentuckians behind the bars Floyd, Union Hall and the Bell House will be bringing the races to all three, for the “Triple Crown” of the Kentucky Derby in Brooklyn.

The Bell House in Gowanus does it up big, with square dancing, live renditions of “My Old Kentucky Home” and “Call to the Post,” and some BBQ and Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream.
Park’s Slope Union Hall is all about games on the day of the big races, with a Corn-hole bean bag toss — the backwoods Bocce — in addition to its regular Bocce courts.

Over at Floyd in Brooklyn Heights, eat like a king while watching the race, with free country ham biscuits and Derby Pie.

All three spots will be giving out prizes for best hat, as well as serving $5 mint juleps all day long.
“People always enjoy an excuse to drink mint juleps,” said the Bell House’s Andrew Mumm.

The Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus, (718) 643-6510] starting at 1 pm. Tickets $5. For info, visit; Union Hall [702 Union St. near Fifth Avenue, (718) 638-4400] at noon. Free. For info, visit; Floyd [131 Atlantic Ave. between Henry and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 858-5810] starting around 1 pm. Free. For info, visit

Place your bets

For those who seriously follow the races and don’t care for mint julep specials or hat-making corners, you’re best bet for betting is Il Fornetto.

The Derby is always a busy day for the Sheepshead Bay sports bar, which has the races on a multi-screen display in the front and off-track-betting stations for the risk-takers in the back.
“They eat, drink and gamble all day,” said manager Sammy Soho.

For other OTB action, head to Hunter’s Steak & Ale House. The Bay Ridge restaurant will have a big screen showing the race in addition to off-track betting.

“Everyone’s in a good mood,” said co-owner John Ryan.

As long as his horse wins, that is.

Il Fornetto [2902 Emmons Ave. at 29th Street in Sheepshead Bay, (718) 332-8494]. For info, visit; Hunter’s Steak and Ale House [9404 Fourth Ave. at 94th Street in Bay Ridge, (718) 238-8899] For info, visit

— with Tony Cella


Rock the Bowl tonight

Some African flavor is coming to Williamsburg tonight with the first “Rock the Bowl” fundraiser at Brooklyn Bowl.

Afrobeat band Antibalas, Geologist from Animal Collective, and the casts of “Fela!” and “The Lion King” will perform to raise money for the Ubuntu Education Fund, which supports children in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

The event will feature South African-inspired cuisine by Blue Ribbon Restaurants, an open bar and surprise guests. This night of entertainment, food, drinks and bowling will help to provide over 40,000 children and their families with life-saving HIV support services.

Rock the Bowl at Brooklyn Bowl (61 Wyeth Ave between 11th St. and 12th St.) tonight at 7 pm. Tickets $99 general admission, $199 VIP. For more information, go to or call (718) 963-3369.

-Elizabeth Dana


Friday, April 23, 2010

The Weekend: 4.23-4.25

Lots to do this weekend. Here's a look at what's going on in a neighborhood near you (and to try something new, we'll be noting things by neighborhood!):

Friday, April 23

Red Hook: This play is garbage - literally! "A Thousand Thousand Slimy Things" explores what happens to oceans when cleanup stops. Plus, mermaids are thrown in for good measure.

Saturday, April 24

Bushwick: Get in the street art scene at the launch party for the new book, "Street Art New York."

Carroll Gardens: Its 1920s glam at Swing House. Bring your boa.

Greenpoint: In honor of Earth Day, shop eco-consciously at the Handmade Cavalcade.

Sunday, April 25

Williamsburg: Watch as the first ever Mr. Transman gets crowned.

Crown Heights: Hear from the man behind the iconic Obama HOPE poster when Shepard Fairey speaks at the Brooklyn Museum.


Pinata contents revealed!

The Brooklyn Museum held its gala last night, the highlight of which was the smashing of the giant Andy Warhol piñata.

We wondered what the giants of the piece would be, and Mario Batali helped with that: Hostess treats! Twinkies, Yodels and Funny Bones, to be precise. We can only wonder what the famed chef thought about that.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Buy it at the Lyceum next weekend!

Eric Richmond has long envisioned the Brooklyn Lyceum as a Medieval town square. While the former bath house on Fourth Avenue in Park Slope is often used as a venue for theater and dance, the owner’s vision comes true next month.

On May 1 and 2, the venue hosts its spring food and craft market, with clothing, clocks, art, gifts, jams, chocolates, cheeses, craft beer and loads more filling two floors of the space.

With markets every weekend in Brooklyn, the Lyceum’s offers something different from the pack.

“All the merchandise is handmade,” said Deborah Klein, who promoted the event. “Our intent is to highlight the full expansive array of fantastic, artisanal goods available all throughout the Northeast and get them into the homes, shops, mouths and consciousness of all interested individuals who will cross our stoop.”

The market will be like shopping at Etsy in person, with more than 100 crafty vendors filling two floors of the Lyceum. Keep an eye out for comic book-themed clocks from Can’t Afford Em Crafts, FlipMaja’s individualized yoga mat bags and Windows of Agate’s plush toys (pictured).
On the food end, munch on Taza’s chocolatey goodness and bacon marmalade (that’s a real thing!).

The spring event will also feature food, silkscreening and textile workshops — so you can return home with your own crafty creations (bacon jelly, anyone?).

The Spring Food and Craft Market at the Brooklyn Lyceum Brooklyn Lyceum [227 Fourth Ave. at President Street in Park Slope, (718) 857-4816], May 1 and 2, 11 am-7 pm. Free admission. For info, visit


Gay old time

All you straight singles have had plenty of chances to get hooked up — now it’s time for Brooklyn gays and lesbians to party down.

The freak-nasty “BK Hookup” party in Gowanus is back, and this time it’s all about pairing up same-sex singles at the “Big Gay Meatup: Spring Break Edition” at The Bell House on April 29.

“It’s going to be fun — we have a lot of singles signed up already,” said Erica Reitman, co-founder of the party series and editor of the F—ked in Park Slope blog. “We’ve had enough straight events, so we thought we’d have a gay-focused one with a spring theme since the weather’s getting warmer.”

And if it’s anything like the last bash — when even our columnist hooked up! — the house will be coming down. Droves of sexy singles, cheap drinks and the hottest dance party this side of the East River await those who are looking for that special someone (without all those awkward barriers at the average bar scene).

For the main event, random advanced ticketholders ($8) will be selected to take part in a hilarious, old-school dating game hosted by some killer comedians. There’s also an option to fill out a personal ad to assist in the shackin’ up!

Spring attire is optional, but Reitman said a photographer will be on hand to capture all of those spring fling moments, so “plan accordingly.” Dust off those oh-so-chic Hawaiian shirts and get ready for a party that promises to please.

Big Gay Meatup at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus (718) 643-6510], April 29, 7 pm–2 am. Tickets are $8. For info, visit


Twice as nice with Howard Fishman

Howard Fishman has been in the studio so long, his fans may have feared he put down the guitar for good.

But finally, after 18 months of putting together three new albums, the Williamsburg jazz man is back where he belongs: on two Brooklyn stages, on consecutive nights to boot.

This month, you can find Fishman at two of his local stomping grounds: Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg on April 29 and Barbes in Park Slope on April 30.

Fishman has long-standing relationships with both – he has played Barbes regularly for the past four years, and he had a three-year Thursday night resident at Pete’s up until about five years ago.

“They’re like playing my living room,” said Fishman, who leans on jazz, pop, gospel and country in his music. “They’re never high-pressure shows, in a relaxed environment. I like to use them as places to do experimenting.”

That will include pulling from his latest albums, which have backdrops in New Orleans, Romania and Brooklyn. All three are coming out this year, with the first — “Better Get Right,” featuring Fishman backed by a New Orleans brass band — out next month.

Despite his usual frequency at these Brooklyn venues, no one show is the same, said Fishman.
“Every one of my shows is pretty different,” said the musician. “It’s never the same band, never the same set list. I like to keep it fresh that way.”

Three albums in one year will certainly help with that.

Howard Fishman at Pete’s Candy Store [709 Lorimer St. near Richardson Street, (718) 302-3770] April 29 at 10 pm, and at Barbes [376 Ninth St. at Sixth Avenue, (718) 965-9177] April 30 at 10 pm.


La Strada registers on the Mus-o-Meter

La Strada offered a glimpse of its romanticized indie sound in its 2008 self-titled EP.

Now, the band has spent time in the studio and release a full-length debut this month, expanding from the EP to include poppier additions.

But to really get a sense of what the new album, “New Home,” is like, we leave that up to our exclusive Mus-o-meter.

Take the old-world vibes of Beirut’s 2006 debut, “Gulag Orkestar.” Then add …

The languid vocal stylings of Neutral Milk Hotel’s 1996 debut “On Avery Island.” Then add …

The playful instrumentation of Badly Drawn Boy’s “The House of Bewilderbeast.”

The result? La Strada’s debut, “New Home.”


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Man Of Van Peebles! Melvin talks about his career on May 2

Melvin Van Peebles is one baadassss.

As the director of the groundbreaking 1971 film “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song,” Peebles paved the way for other independent filmmakers in the blaxploitation genre with his militant tale of a black man on the run from “the man” after saving a Black Panther from racist cops.

Forty years later, the director, producer, actor, composer and writer is still kicking butt. The septuagenarian recently adapted the iconic (and a bit out-of-context) film during a residency at BRIC.

Next up, the cigar-smoking filmmaker will discuss his work with collaborator Greg Tate at the Brooklyn Public Library on May 2.

“General audiences know him primarily as the father of blaxploitation,” said Meredith Walters, the library’s manager of Adult Programs. “But this event will give fans and filmmakers the chance to learn more about his radical courage in commanding every aspect of creation, production and marketing of his films.”

Sweet and baadassss at the same time.

Melvin Van Peebles at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch [Grand Army Plaza between Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue, (718) 230-2100], May 2, 1:30 pm. Free. For info, visit

Photo by Tom Callan


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It'll be guac and roll at the Bell House next month

Last year’s Guactacular was such an unexpected success, the organizers ran out of chips.

And one of the concoctions caught the CLAP (though named by its component parts: cilantro, lime, avocado and, get ready, pomegranate).

The good news is that the organizers are certain things will go better this year when the all-guac cooking competition returns to the Bell House on May 5 — Cinco de Mayo.

Sure, amateur cooks who think they have a great guac are welcome to join in the fun, but this year, there are limits to creativity where avocados are involved.

“I’m really hopeful someone doesn’t sneak mayonnaise in. That’s appalling,” said Lee Frank, a Flatbush resident who, as one of the founders of the food blog, is somewhat of a guac expert.

And this year, there are top-flight judges including Jessica Amason of “This Is Why You’re Fat.”
To help add to the festivities, Alex Meixner, a Grammy-nominated Mexican polka player, will be on hand for some high-energy, romp-shaking tunes.
As for those chips?

“We have 50 bags,” said Frank confidently.

Sounds like it won’t be enough again.

The Guactacular at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third Avenues in Gowanus, (718) 643-6510] May 5 at 7 pm. Tickets $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Applications are still being accepted, so get mashing. E-mail


Bloom county! Sakura Matsuri back at the Botanic Garden

By Elizabeth Dana

Break out your kimino — Sakura Matsuri is back.

A celebration of Japanese culture, the festival will take over the Brooklyn Botanic Garden from May 1 to 2.

The weather may not fully cooperate — the blooms were in full crepuscular beauty this weekend and are starting to fade — but the weekend will still feature workshops including flower arranging, anime-inspired costume competitions and haiku poetry readings.

“It is the best of Japanese and Japanese-American culture here at the garden, with the stunning background of the cherry blossoms,” said Kate Blumm, of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Across the garden’s grounds, traditional arts performances will mix with events focused on modern Japanese culture such as anime and manga, making for a “visual circus,” said Blumm.

Among the more traditional offerings will be a performance by Dancejapan featuring Sachiyo Ito — a staple at the festival for nearly 30 years — and taiko drumming by Taiko Masala and Soh Daiko.

For Japanese fashionistas, the festival will also host a high tea for “Victorian maidens, boho bo-peeps, and Tokyo goth girls,” as well as a costume fashion show to exhibit manga-inspired designs.

Despite its name, it’s not all about the cherry blossoms at Sakura Matsuri.

Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden [1000 Washington Ave. at Crown Street in Crown Heights, (718) 623-7200] May 1 from 10 am to 6 pm and May 2 from 10 am to 7 pm. For info, visit

Photo by Barbara Alper


It's not all about torture

Sure, Crystal Skillman's new play may be all about torture, but the Boreum Hill playwright isn't all about doom and gloom.

In fact, here are her offerings for enjoying a night on the town when you head to The Brick in Williamsburg to see her new play, "The Vigil or The Guided Cradle," in previews starting Thursday and running until May 8:

432 Union Ave. between Devoe Street and Metropolitan Avenue
"Everything I've had there makes me more and more excited. It's an amazing restaurant."

388 Union Ave. between Ainslie and Powers streets
"For the people who like it old school and like to drink and play Donkey Kong. It's for the geek in all of us."

Alligator Lounge
600 Metropolitan Ave. near Lorimer Street
"They give free pizza." Enough said.


Play it again

If you're into the Dap-Kings, Booker T & the MGs, or The Budos Band, you'll love Countryfied.

The organ-driven combo is fronted by Myron Walden, who has a gloriously gospelly tenor sax sound.

The band's self-titled debut isn't out until June 1, but you can get a taste of the Brooklyn band when they play Coco 66 in Greenpoint on April 26.

Also, check out the clip below of Myron and Co. playing "Say it Again":


Live and outspoken

What do an award-winning choreographer and a Mississippi bluesman have in common?

At first glance, not much, but this month, the two unite when the Fort Greene arts group 651 ARTS brings together Ralph Lemon and Jimmy “Duck” Holmes (pictured) in a new performance and interview series featuring African-American innovators.

“We wanted to give artists an opportunity to engage with one another while looking for unique ways to partner with some of our Fort Greene colleagues,” said Anna Glass, who is managing the four-week “Live and Outspoken” series, which begins on April 27, with choreographer Lemon interviewing Holmes, who will also perform his unique style of Delta blues called Bentonia.

Other artists pairings to make note of throughout the series include poet and playwright Sonia Shanchez and choreographer Ron Brown (May 4), South African composer Hugh Masekela and musician Somi (May 11), and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage and actress/writer April Yvette Thompson (May 18).

The artists were brought together by disciplines, as in the case of Nottage and Thompson, or an inspired connection, as with Lemon and Holmes, who became friends while in Mississippi. And all, of course, are outspoken.

“All of these artists have very unique voices within their art form,” said Glass. “Whether or not you’re an artist, people will find something extraordinary and inspiring about the journeys these artists have taken to get to where they are today.”

“Live and Outspoken” kicks off April 27 at 7 pm at the home of Emmy-Award-winning writer/producer Tom Fontana (address given upon ticket purchase). Tickets $35. For info, visit


Monday, April 19, 2010

This film kicks some ass

Three stars

By Gary Buiso

“Kick-Ass” is the “Sixteen Candles” for a generation weened on ultra-violence: equal parts coming of age comedy and John Woo action flick — a canny amalgam of sweetness and brutality.

The film, based on Mark Millar’s comic book series, begins predictably enough but quickly veers off to irreverence, driven by idiosyncratic performances and confident direction that never forgets that at its core, “Kick-Ass” is a comic book of a movie — it should be over the top.

Teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is living an otherwise normal, if unremarkable high school life: “Like most people my age, I just existed,” he says. Teen angst/earnestness prompt him to become a superhero — while admitting his only power at the moment is “being invisible to girls.”

Internet stardom ensues, and organized crime takes notice — after all, superheroes dressed as lucha libre wrestlers are bad for business. And it turns out there’s more than one superhero in town. Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chole Moretz) have been putting the hurt on the mob in bloody fashion. Big Daddy’s an ex-cop with an ax to grind, and his 11-year-old daughter is his disciple, trained to be a cold-blooded — but very cute — killer. Think “The Manchurian Candidate” meets “Hannah Montana.”

Even the mob boss’s nerdy son, played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin from “Superbad”), gets in on the act, donning a cape and becoming Red Mist, in an effort to help the family business.

Hit Girl is the star of the caped crusaders, but most of the cast shines, including Cage, who even through his Adam West impersonation manages a bit of weird gravitas.

Director Matthew Vaughn (“Star Dust”) relishes the action sequences, ritualizing the bloodbath with rock and roll, but keeping his characters’ grounded enough to be entirely endearing.

Who needs Iron Man? Kick-Ass has a heart of gold.

“Kick-Ass.” Rated R for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, and sexual content. 117 minutes. With Aaron Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong and Lyndsy Fonseca.


On the street art scene

Can't get enough street art?

We asked the authors of the new book "Street Art New York" - Jaime Rojo and Steven Harrington - to recommend where to go to see exhibitions of rising street artists.

Here are their suggestions for what's going on right now and coming up in Brooklyn:

Now through April 17
Brooklynite Gallery
334 Malcom X Boulevard near Reid Avenue in Bed-Stuy

April 16-May 17
Mighty Tanaka
68 Jay St. at Water Street, Suite 416 in DUMBO

May 14
Storefronts of Willoughby Street in Downtown


Sensational stir fry, sans hassle

By Helen Klein

While I love Asian-style food, I don’t make it at home as often as I probably should, preferring, instead, to rely on the tender ministrations of my local Chinese take-out joint.

I really have no excuse. I have more than one wok, and a panoply of Asian ingredients, including several varieties of noodles and a lineup of sauces.

So, when my husband suggested recently that I stir-fry some shredded pork and vegetables with noodles, I got out my santoku (probably my favorite knife for a whole range of cooking tasks) and started slicing and dicing.

The result was more than satisfactory — a one-dish dinner that came together relatively quickly and satisfied the palate, thanks to a compelling combination of sweet and savory.

While I am a fan of cellophane noodles, I chose more substantial soba noodles for this dish ­­­— better for standing up to the thick, somewhat sweet sauce, which played off the pork’s own sweetness, as well as the sweetness of the carrots and the sautéed onions, whose sugars caramelize with the application of high heat.

Serves 4-6

1/2 to 3/4 lbs. boneless pork chops, cut into two-inch strips
2 tbl. soy sauce
2 tbl. plus 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1-1/2 tbl. lime juice
2 tbl. sake
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2-inch chunk of ginger, chopped
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 onion, diced
1/3 lb. carrots, shredded
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sesame seeds
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1/2 lb. soba noodles

Marinate pork strips in soy sauce, two tablespoons hoisin sauce, lime juice, sake, garlic and ginger for at least one hour.

Cook soba noodles according to package directions; drain and rinse, then set aside.

When ready to cook, heat peanut oil in wok. When oil is very hot, add pork, reserving marinade, and cook over medium-high heat, tossing frequently, till meat is lightly browned. Add onion and continue cooking another two to three minutes till it has started to turn golden and become translucent.

Add carrot shreds and continue to cook, another three to five minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.

When carrot has started to soften, add reserved marinade and additional hoisin sauce, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, till liquid is reduced by half. Add drained noodles and toss, to coat thoroughly, continuing to cook until they are heated through.

Add salt and pepper to taste, sesame oil, sesame seeds and cilantro to finish. Toss and serve.


It's the 'End of the Road' as we know it

These aren’t your typical grandparents.

While their peers are sitting in rocking chairs, Young@Heart, a chorus of senior citizens is rocking out, singing choral renditions of songs by artists from the Clash to Coldplay.

They bring their latest show, “End of the Road,” to St. Ann’s Warehouse in DUMBO starting April 21 for a nearly two-week run.

"The Chorus alternately breaks your heart and breaks you up with songs that are illuminated by their age and what they bring to them – songs by The Pixies, the Traveling Wilburys, the Buzzcocks, Lou Reed, and more," said Susan Feldman, artistic director of St. Ann's.

The group, which has members ranging in age from 73 to almost 90, has been performing for almost 30 years, with members ranging from theater professionals to enthusiastic amateurs — though all share a love of performing and a vitality that would put some teenagers to shame. Previous performances have included songs by OutKast, the Beatles, Lou Reed, Radiohead, the Ramones and Jimi Hendrix.

The group was featured in the critically-acclaimed 2008 documentary, “Young@Heart,” which chronicles the group rehearsing in preparation for a performance in their hometown. They sing through illnesses, tragedies and deaths within their group, giving new meaning to the phrase “the show must go on.”

The seniors have even gone viral, with their irreverent music videos of “I Want to be Sedated,” by the Ramones and “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees receiving hundreds of thousands of YouTube views.

These octogenarians have taken their popularity on the road, racking up frequent flyer miles by touring in Europe, Canada and Australia. Despite being based in Northampton, Mass., the Brooklyn show marks the US premiere of “End of the Road.”

Unabashedly co-opting the songs of youth culture, Young@Heart’s performance can be sassy, joyful and touching, and always lively. “End of the Road” is sure to have audience members singing and dancing, from the young to the, well, you know.

Young@Heart in “End of the Road” at St. Ann’s Warehouse [38 Water St. between Main and Dock streets, (718) 254-8779] April 21 – May 1. Tickets $32–$75. For info, visit and

— Elizabeth Dana


Novel ideas

We love the work by Matt Kish, who every day is drawing a page of "Moby Dick" (hear, and see, more about the project tonight at Pete's Candy Store's Open City Dialogue lecture series).

This isn't the first project project of its kind. Here are a couple other artists who are literally drawing inspiration from the classics:

The Artist: Justin Quinn
The Book: "Moby Dick"
The Art: Influenced by the letter E, Quinn has drawn chapters of the Melville classic, often using the letter thousands of times to spiraling, dizzying effect.
Fun Fact: Jamie Hook, who organizes the Open City Dialogue lecture series, would love to show both Quinn's and Kish's works in a gallery one day.

The Artist: Zak Smith
The Book: "Gravity's Rainbow"
The Art: Drawings in ink, as well as paintings and photography, on every page of the Pynchon classic.
Fun Fact: Kish was inspired in part by Smith in his own illustration project, which was shown in its entirety in the Whitney Museum's 2004 Biennial and is now in the permanent collection of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Readers, know of other projects like this? Share in the comments section below.


Friday, April 16, 2010

‘Street’ news! New book celebrates the work of graffiti artists

Wouldn’t it be nice to experience street art without ever having to hit the street?

Steven Harrington and Jaime Rojo took this concept and have turned it into two successful “street art” books, the 2008 debut “Brooklyn Street Art” and their broader new collection, “Street Art New York,” which features more than 100 artists, from established writers to the new kids on the block.

You know the work — hell, it’s ubiquitous — but you don’t often know the names.

Take Skewville, the Brooklyn twins responsible for those dangling wooden sneakers on power lines — a reference to the 1980s drug wars. Since starting over a decade ago, the shoes now number in the thousands.

And gracing the book’s cover is a piece by Judith Supine, the man behind those toxic green collages of disfigured heads and bodies pasted to buildings across the city. One of his pieces even hung from the Manhattan Bridge (if only for a few hours).

Another highlight includes Specter’s elaborate graffiti of a man carting a mountain of soda cans (pictured above), a 3-D image that makes the wall alive in a fashion similar to the work of London’s Banksy (he’s in the book, too, along with other out-of-towners like Shepard Fairey).

Bushwick’s Factory Fresh Gallery — one of the thriving spots for new street art — will have the art on display later this month.

“Street Art New York” launch party at Factory Fresh Gallery [1053 Flushing Ave. between Morgan and Knickerbocker avenues in Bushwick (917) 682-6753], April 24, 7 pm. For info, visit

Photo by Jaime Rojo


The weekend: 4.16-4.18

First off - sorry we missed last week's roundup. Things got a little swamped leading up to the weekend. But there's lots going on this week that we'd love to share. Here's a look at what's happening in a neighborhood near you:

Friday, April 16

Dance: STREB's latest has its dancers running up walls, as well as dodging cinder blocks and flying through the air. Now through May 23 at their Wililamsburg SLAM - it's like a warehouse circus.

Saturday, April 17

Skateboards: Catch the action at Gowanus Grind, a all-day skateboarding affair in, naturally, the Gowanus, at Thomas Greene Park.

Toys: Like playing with LEGOs? Join Christoph Niemann, author of "I LEGO NY," at a reading at powerHouse Arena in DUMBO, where you can bring your own LEGO formations. The three best win a copy of his new coffee table book.

Dance party: Love the cherry blossom season? So does the Bell House in Gowanus, which is hosting a party tonight devoted to spring, featuring Haruka Salt 99 and DJ Tikka Masala. 11 pm. Tickets $10. Located at 149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues.

Sunday, April 18

Food: Eat all the lamb you can muster at the Lamb Takedown at the Bell House. Ewe will be rocked.

Art: Get a bit of history at Williamsburg's City Reliquary with their new exhibition, "The Vanishing Icons of Metropolitan Avenue: A History of Williamsburg's Handmade Shop Signs," featuring work by pioneering graphic artist Stanley Wisniewolski. Runs now through mid-July. Located at 370 Metropolitan Ave. near Havemayer Street.

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