Tuesday, August 31, 2010

'77 Boa Drum' screening

On July 7th, 2007 at 7:07 PM, Japanese group Boredoms, orchestrated a performance by 77 drummers at the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park in DUMBO.

Nearly three years later, the experience is finally making its way to film. "77 Boa Drum" is the official live performance documentary of the event, complete with behind the scenes rehearsal footage, interviews, and of course, lots of footage of the actual performance. The film screens tomorrow at IndieScreen in Williamsburg, the borough's newest movie house. Check out the trailer below.

The momentous event was filmed by Jun Kawaguchi and his crew, web-TV sites like VBS TV, Viva-Radio, and several unknown You Tube cameramen. Kawaguchi, a big fan of Boredoms, had spent a decade chronicling the band's live performances and the 77 Boa Drum concert was no different. After editing his footage together with live footage captured and posted on You Tube, the 89 minute documentary was born.

The DVD will see release in the US on Thrill Jockey Records on Sept. 7 and come with a series of collectable postcards made from photos taken at the event.

Until then, relive this event on the big screen.

"77 Boa Drum" at IndieScreen (285 Kent Ave. at S. Second Street in Williamsburg, no phone), Sept. 1 at 8 pm.

77 BOA DRUM trailer from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.


Brooklyn Brainery

Brooklyn Brainery, an inexpensive, informal way to continue your education, just announced its fall schedule. Classes begin Sept. 20 at the Gowanus Studio Space. Check them out!

One Night Workshops
Knife Skills - by popular demand, we'll julienne and chiffonade to your heart's content.
Lamp Making - you will totally go home with an awesome lamp

Two Week Classes
The South in Your Mouth -
from boiled peanuts to pecan pie, we've got the culinary South covered
Tea! - what's what and how to drink it, from oolong to white and from green to black
Pseudoscientific Pursuits - a bunch of things that are not quite science

Three Week Classes
Fermentation Fixation - take a look (and a bite) at all fermented foods - from simple pickles to ginger ale, sourdough to kombucha
Beekeeping 101 - what you need to know before you order 10,000 bees in the mail
Astronomy - science plus stargazing -
supplement your "celestial body" pickup line with a quip about epicycles


Read a Ghita

Brooklyn is Ghita Schwarz’s happy pill.

“I love living in Brooklyn, period,” said the Fort Greene-based author. “I just love biking and walking around. I’m very happy living here, and for me it’s easier to write when I’m happy.”

The borough is definitely doing the trick. A demanding day job as a civil rights lawyer hasn’t stopped Schwarz from completing her first novel, “Displaced Persons,” an epic tale of exiled Polish Jews who create new lives for themselves in New York after the Holocaust.

Schwarz didn’t have to look too far for inspiration — her parents are Polish immigrants who sought refuge in the city after World War II.

“A lot of the voice in the book is the voice of people I’ve heard my whole life,” said Schwarz, who celebrates the release of her debut novel at Fort Greene’s Greenlight Bookstore on Aug. 30 (see her discuss it in the clip below).

The author spent years developing that voice, writing in the early morning before work, late into the night after, and spending vacations intensively crafting her novel.

An often-haunting tale of survival, “Displaced Persons” follows an ad-hoc family living in a post-war refugee camp in Germany to adjusting to life in 1960s America to exploring ways to memorialize their history at the turn of the century. It’s heavy stuff, but not lacking in humor or hope.

With her new novel fresh on shelves, the author is already at work on her next piece of fiction, and she doesn’t have to look too far for motivation.

“One of the awesome things about riding the subway to work is everyone has a book or Kindle or iPad,” said Schwarz. “It’s really inspiring as a writer to be somewhere where you can see with your own eyes every day that the book is alive and well.”

Ghita Schwarz at Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. at S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246-0200], Aug. 30 at 7:30 pm. For info, visit www.abookstoreinbrooklyn.blogspot.com.


Monday, August 30, 2010

In 'Takers,' it's all been done before


Two stars

By Thomas Tracy

When writer/director John Lussenhop brought his movie “Takers” to the film gurus at Screen Gems, you can hear the pitch line now: “It’ll be like taking eye candy from a baby.”

Yet few audience members will be taken by this heist film foray that freely admits all the good cons have been done by better actors. The story is all flash but no light as the far-from-enlightened na’er-do-wells decide to pull a theft right out of “The Italian Job.” At least they took a second to credit the Mark Wahlberg movie for the idea.

The thieves are all strapping young millionaires, thanks to the heists they’ve pulled off with satellite-timing precision. They’ve just completed another successful bank job (taking a news helicopter in the process as an added touch), when incarcerated team member Ghost (rapper Tip T.I. Harris, the “Jay-Z of the South”) comes to them with an armored car heist they can’t turn down.

Since Ghost was shot and arrested during their famed 2004 job (which we never see), no one trusts him, yet their greed gets the better of them despite all the clubs and condos they already own.

They begin planning the heist while Jack Welles (Matt Dillon, “Armored”), a hackneyed crusty single parent, in trouble with the bosses despite being an always-right LAPD detective, is hot on their trail.

The devilishly good-looking desperados in designer suits try their best to take this B-rated heist film to the next level, but get bogged down under their own inadequacies — the most prominent being a lack of imagination. We’ve seen everything in this movie before, right down to Dillon’s questionably shady partner.

Yet, there are a few highlights: Hayden Christiensen (“Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith”), Paul Walker (“Fast and the Furious), Michael Ealy (“Flash Forward”) and Idris Elba (“The Losers”) all sport the “crime pays” glam with graciousness, even though Elba, for no reason whatsoever, keeps shifting between an American and English cockney accent.

“Takers.” Starring Idris Elba, Matt Dillon and Hayden Christiensen. Directed by John Lussenhop. Running time: 107 minutes. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, a sexual situation/partial nudity and some language. Playing in Brooklyn at UA Court Street Stadium 12 in Downtown, Kent Theatre in Coney Island, UA Sheepshead Bay 14, Bay Ridge Alpine Cinemas, and Linden Boulevard Multiplex Cinemas in East New York.


He is back!

By Roxanna Asgarian

This month, “The Terminator” will be up against a terrifying new kind of opponent, the likes of which Ahhnold has never seen: the Raspberry Brothers.

The Knitting Factory’s resident funnymen, who also contribute to “Saturday Night Live” and The Onion, will be lampooning the action classic as it screens during their weekly “Comedy over Movies” show in the venue’s front bar.

“ ‘The Terminator’ franchise has survived a quarter-century, enduring lame sequels, bad reviews, and a TV series,” said Jerm Pollet, lead Raspberry Brother. “Our only salvation is to go back in time to when killer robots from the future looked like the governor of California.”

The weekly shows, whose previous targets have included the Britney Spears flick, “Crossroads,” and “Conan, the Barbarian,” have turned into theme parties, where people dress up and play games for free drinks. The Knitting Factory’s bartender, Johnny, makes a new drink each week to go along with the theme.

Best of all, the show is free, and the Brothers will definitely show you a side of “Terminator” that you’ve never seen.

Raspberry Brothers screen “The Terminator” at Knitting Factory [361 Metropolitan Ave. at Havemayer Street in Williamsburg, (347) 529-6696], Aug. 31 at 8 pm. Free. For info, visit www.bk.knittingfactory.com.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Shattered hearts

Last week, we wrote about an intriguing piece of public art at Greenpoint's McGorlick Park.

The fountain by Anne McClain was installed earlier this month and featured a glass heart that emitted scented water that was a meditation on humanity.

The irony, then, that last night the piece was vandalized last night, with an anonymous thug shattering the glass heart.

The New York Times reports on the vandalism.

"Placing a fragile glass heart vulnerable to anybody and everybody is a tremendous act of idealism and optimism in human nature," Stephanie Thayer, the executive director of the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn, told the paper.

The creators look to replace the heart soon. In the meantime, flowers will be placed daily as a memorial, and, so it seems, a further call for compassion.


The Weekend: 8.27-8.29

Friday, Aug. 27

Williamsburg: Enter "The Machine," as the Pink Floyd cover band brings its light show to Brooklyn Bowl.

Saturday, Aug. 28

Carroll Gardens: Eat well at the Natural Element Healing Arts new dinner series, starting with a meal provided by Alan Harding.

Borough-wide: Chow down at our favorite food vendors, including Asia Dog at the Brooklyn Flea and Buswick's new Jen 'N Outlaws Fish Fry Truck and Crawfish Boil.

Sunday, Aug. 29

Prospect Park: Remember the King of Pop at a day-long party thrown by Spike Lee.

Greenpoint: Check out Mario the Magician at Word - it's more than just kids stuff.

Williamsburg: It's the last Pool Party of the season (for real). Check out Delorean, Dominique Young Unique and some special guests on the waterfront at the East River State Park.


Karaoke in Brooklyn

Whenever we've done karaoke, it's been in a semi-questionable room in Midtown, with OK drink prices and an inevitable taxi cab back to Brooklyn. But you don't need to leave the borough to get your karaoke on.

Brooklyn Exposed has compiled a handy guide to the borough's plentiful karaoke scene, depending on your sensibilities. Our favorite? Karaoke Killed the Kat at Brooklyn Bowl on Mondays. Because even if you can't sing, you can still get up on stage.


Viewer's choice

Movies with a View at Brooklyn Bridge Park is coming up on its last showing of the season. And that means it's your turn to pick the film.

Choices for the Sept. 2 film include "Dreamgirls" (which was rained out earlier this month), "Some Like it Hot," "The King of Kong," and "The Iron Giant." All diverse films for diverse tastes.

Voting is open now until noon on Wednesday. Choose wisely!


Clowing around with 'Pagliacci' at the Coney Sideshow

Send in the clowns.

Mercury Opera presents a Coney Island-inspired production of “Pagliacci,” Ruggero Leoncavallo’s tragic opera about a jealous husband in a commedia dell’arte troupe.

Coney Island USA’s Museum and Circus Sideshow will host the opera on Sept. 1, and couldn’t be a better suited location for this unique opera experience.

“The opera’s about traveling players, a troupe of clowns. With the element of that carnival atmosphere, that seems very fitting,” said Darcia Parada, artistic director of Mercury Opera, an Edmonton, Canada-based company that specializes in staging operas in non-traditional settings (last summer, they performed “Il Tabarro” on the Edmonton Queen riverboat).

Leoncavallo’s popular two-act opera follows Canio, the leader of a commedia dell’arte troupe in southern Italy, who, after finding out his wife is having an affair, acts out his rage on stage during a performance to disastrous results.

The production wasn’t without its own drama. “Pagliacci” was initially slated to run in a tent on an empty lot on W. 15th Street near the Boardwalk for five nights next week, but a lack of funding forced Parada to scratch her plans. Then, her original Canio dropped out a week before the show, forcing her to scramble for a replacement at the last minute.

But, as they say, the show must go on.

“Pagliacci” at the Coney Island USA Museum and Circus Sideshow [1208 Surf Ave. at W. 12th Street in Coney Island, (718) 372-5159], Sept. 1 at 8 pm. Tickets $55. For info, visit www.mercuryopera.com.


Spike Lee honors the King of Pop again

Michael Jackson still reigns as the King of Pop.

Thousands will gather in Prospect Park on Sunday at what would have been the musician’s 52nd birthday for the second-annual “Brooklyn Loves Michael Jackson” celebration.

“I’m looking forward to everyone from all corners of the world coming together to honor, pay respect and love the life of Michael Joseph Jackson,” said filmmaker and one-time Fort Greene resident Spike Lee, who worked with Jackson on his video, “They Don’t Care About Us,” and is organizing the celebration for the second year.

Last year, fans packed the park to pay tribute to the man behind such hits as “Billie Jean,” “Thriller” and “Beat It,” who died last summer, sporting Thriller outfits, white gloves and digging out their Michael Jackson T-shirts.

Expect more of the same during the five-hour party, where DJ Spinna will play the pop genius’s innumerable hits.

“It’s going to be bigger and better this year,” said Lee, who will be documenting this year’s celebration with his production company, 40 Acres And A Mule. “People are going to come from all over the world.”

And lucky for you, it’s right here in your backyard.

Brooklyn Loves Michael Jackson celebration at Prospect Park’s Nethermead [enter at 16th Street and Prospect Park Southwest, (718) 965-8951], Aug. 29 from noon-5 pm. Free. For info, visit www.prospectpark.org.


Vendys, schmendys

Next month’s Vendy Awards party has snubbed Brooklyn — but who needs those supposed street food know-it-alls to tell us where to get the best grub? Our hungry reporters hit the streets this week to compile our own “Vendy” award nominees — five street trucks that those Manhattanites should have invited to the ball.


This popular Mexican food vendor started out on the street, serving its So-Cal-inspired grub in Manhattan. Then Brooklyn got a taste with a permanent spot on Union Street in the Columbia Street Waterfront District. This summer, Jesse Vendley and Peter Oleyer returned to the streets with a food cart at Brooklyn Bridge Park at the end of Old Fulton Street, so you have even more chances to get addicted to their burritos and quesadillas.

These past Vendy Award winners have reasonably gained fans for their filling, but not overstuffed, burritos ($7-$8), generously packed with chicken, steak or pork. Their quesadillas ($5-$7) are pretty special, too. These tortillas are perfectly packed with melted cheese and your meat of choice and rolled so it’s even easier to dip into their addictive — and appropriately named — chipotle crack sauce.

And at these prices, you can keep coming back for more.

Calexico Food Cart in Brooklyn Bridge Park [enter at Old Fulton Street and Furman Street in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 488-8226] is open from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm, Thursday through Saturday.

— Meredith Deliso

Asia Dog

Since opening two years ago in Fort Greene, the Brooklyn Flea has come a long way in its food offerings. Hungry shoppers can feast on lobster rolls, pizza from a wood-burning oven, grilled cheese sandwiches made with Wisconsin Gruyere, gourmet coffee — it’s fast food for grown-ups.

Among the diverse offerings, Asia Dog is not to be missed. Steve Porto and Melanie Campbell rolled out a little over a year ago, making a name at Trophy Bar in Williamsburg, and, since hitting the road, with operations at Central Park’s Summerstage, Manhattan club venue Terminal 5, and at Summerscreen in McCarren Park.

The hot dogs themselves are pretty tasty, but the main attraction is the Asian-inspired toppings — spicy, sweet, savory.

“They’re all popular across the board,” said Porto.

There’s a banh mi–style dog called the Vinh; a frank topped with Chinese barbecued pork belly (the “Wangding”); and, for sweet tooths, a topping of Thai mango salsa (the “Sidney”). A good starter dog is the Ginny, topped with homemade kimchi and nori flakes for a slightly spicy, yet refreshing, sensation.

The hot dogs aren’t as cheap as those other street vendors (it’s $4 for beef or chicken, $7 for two; $5 for vegetarian or organic beef, $9 for two), but worth the extra bite in the wallet.

Asia Dog at the Brooklyn Flea (176 Lafayette Ave. between Vanderbilt and Clermont avenues in Fort Greene, no phone). Saturdays from 10 am-5 pm. For info, visit www.asaidognyc.com.

— Meredith Deliso

Jason Kabuli’s Halal cart

Night and day, the Halal cart at Foster and Coney Island avenues serves up simple and savory food at fair prices.

The menu is limited — chicken or lamb, either over rice or in a wrap, and grilled chicken salad — but the hordes keep coming for food that is fresh and flavorful.

That’s why Yolanda Celestine and Kris Ramgahan were there at 9:30 one evening. The two say they patronize the cart frequently, because the “food is good and inexpensive, and it’s fast service,” said Celestine.

For $3.99, the overstuffed chicken gyro was filling and lavish, with chunks of meat bathed in a pleasantly tart yogurt sauce and mixed with fresh vegetables in a flatbread wrap. For $4.99, the chicken platter featured the same addictive chicken, a salad (also bathed in yogurt sauce) and a bed of nutty, slender rice.

The cart owner, Jason Kabuli, has a few carts in different places, but only the one in Brooklyn, he said. The choice of location is simple: The corner is at the heart of Brooklyn’s Pakistani community, where many people are practicing Muslims and must eat Halal meat.

But, they’re not the only ones who stop by, Kabuli added. After five years at the corner, the clientele is now “50-50,” with fully half the customers stopping by simply because they likethe food, not because they are bound by dietary laws.

Jason Kabuli’s cart (Foster and Coney Island avenues in Flatbush) is open Monday through Friday from 11:30 am to 10 pm.

— Helen Klein

Jen ’n Outlaw’s Fish Fry Truck and Crawfish Boil

If you’re looking for southern fried goodness, just hop on the L.

Jen ’n Outlaw’s Fish Fry Truck and Crawfish Boil, a new mobile outpost offering up fresh Gulf-area seafood, is on track to put Bogart Street on Brooklyn’s culinary map.

The menu at Jen ’n Outlaw’s is just three items long — there’s a fried catfish po’ boy, fried pickles and a proper Southern crayfish boil. But it’s really a blessing in disguise: you’ll want an order of everything, and potentially two or three orders of the pickles, which are house made and served with a finger-lickin’ good buttermilk dill sauce.

The truck is the brainchild of Paul Outlaw and Jennifer Catron, a Bushwick artist couple hailing from Alabama and Southern Illinois, respectively. The pair have made sure that dining at Jen ’n Outlaw’s isn’t just your average street-food experience — with the Allman Brothers blasting, Outlaw’s thick Southern drawl, Catron’s high-waisted Daisy Dukes and the sprawling umbrella-shaded picnic tables attached to the back of the truck, a meal at the truck is an experience in good ol’ Southern hospitality.

The truck will be parked around Bogart Street every Saturday, with plans to make stops in Manhattan as well come fall.

Mint juleps, anybody?

Jen ’n Outlaw’s Fish Fry Truck and Crawfish Boil sets up near Bogart Street in Bushwick on Saturdays. For info, follow the Twitter feed at twitter.com/jenandoutlaws.

— Kristen V. Brown

Van Leeuwen

The delightful sweetness of palm sugar. The bursting tartness of currants and cream. The luscious smoothness of vanilla.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream is less about ice cream

and more about evoking memories of one’s rustic, suburban childhood, which explains the long lines of dairy denizens of all ages on Bedford Avenue at N. Seventh Street.

The Greenpoint-based mobile street vendor has been at the vanguard of gourmet ice cream that has swept through the city, charging upwards of $4 a scoop for flavors derived from vanilla beans harvested in Papua New Guinea, pistachios from southern Italy, milk and cream from Lewis County and red currants from the Hudson Valley.

Van Leeuwen — run by brothers Ben and Pete Van Leeuwen and Pete’s wife, Laura O’Neill — has since opened a storefront on Manhattan Avenue and is even selling pints in grocery stores, but the truck on Bedford is the heart of the operation, and remains among its best-selling locations.

Get there early in the day or you’ll be scooped on flavors such as mint chip, earl gray, and chocolate with hazelnuts.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream (Bedford Avenue between N. Seventh and N. Eighth streets in Williamsburg) is open noon to midnight on weekdays, noon to 1 am on weekends.

— Aaron Short


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eat well

By Kristen V. Brown

Here’s a new approach to health and well-being: a fabulous meal.

Carroll Gardens’ Element Natural Healing Arts — which specializes in acupuncture, herbology and Ayurvedic facials — kicks off a new dinner series on Aug. 28 with a meal by Brooklyn culinary pioneer Alan Harding (pictured).

The wellness center plans to put its Zen-inspiring back deck to use hosting monthly five-course meals crafted by some of the city’s leading chefs (at least until the weather turns nippy).

“Health comes form total well being — these type of events open the spirit a bit more. Especially as New Yorkers, we’re so closed off,” said Maria Nieto, the center’s classes and events coordinator. “We always wanted to do something where people could come break bread, meet each other and sit down for great meal.”

Harding’s inaugural meal will feature greenmarket gazpacho with lemon balm and cured Morrocan lemon marinated lamb with fennel, cucumber and couscous, among other enticing edibles.

In September, former “Top Chef” hottie and current Melt chef Mark Simmons will do the honors.

For $50, the dinners are open to anyone and everyone, but hurry there’s only 30 slots. After all, a great meal makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

For reservations, call Element Natural Healing Arts at (718) 855-4850. Meals are BYOB. After Aug. 28, the next meal will be prepared by Mark Simmons on Sept. 18.


Welcome to 'The Machine'

Joe Pascarell was just 12-years-old when he first heard Pink Floyd in 1973 — and the moment changed his life (and our lives) forever.

“Up until that point, all I thought there was was Beatles music, and here comes all these sounds I’d never heard before,” said Pascarell, a self-trained guitarist. “It just sounded like another world to me. I couldn’t make the guitar sound like it sounded on those records.”

After hours spent wearing out his old records, he eventually did, and it’s certainly paid off. As the guitarist and lead singer of the New York-based Pink Floyd cover band The Machine, Pascarell has been playing the music of the seminal British blues rockers, known for concept albums like “The Wall,” for over 20 years.

The Machine brings its act — complete with a light show, of course — to Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg tomorrow for a performance that’s known and respected among Floyd fans for its spot-on interpretation of the band’s 16-year catalogue (see "Comfortably Numb" performed below).

“We’re going to play a lot of different Pink Floyd music, not just the popular songs, but the earlier, obscure songs,” said Pascarell. “Pink Floyd in the early days was a highly improvisational band. We try to expand on music in a way that’s respectful.”

After 20 years, Pascarell has played the music of Pink Floyd’s almost as much as the band itself has, but the thrill has never lost him.

“I’ve played most of these songs at last 2,000 times, and I feel like it’s your job to perform each song every night as if it’s the only time you’re going to perform it,” said Pascarell. “I still get excited to play the guitar solo at the end of ‘Comfortably Numb.’ ”

The Machine at Brooklyn Bowl [61 Wythe Ave. between N. 11th and N. 12th streets in Williamsburg, (718) 963-3369], Aug. 27 at 9 pm. Tickets $15. For info, visit www.themachinelife.com.

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