Friday, October 29, 2010

'Total Recall' at Metrotech

Much of summer's outdoor art may be gone, but Metrotech keeps the spirit alive.

In "Total Recall," opening Nov. 3 at Metrotech Commons, five artists explore the ephemeral nature of memory through large-scale sculpture, including Martin Basher's "Minimal Consumption/Reflective Sublime/Aspirational Sunset Art" (left).

"All the works in 'Total Recall' are vastly different in form, material, construction, and fabrication," said Nicholas Baume, Public Art director and chief curator. "The exhibition threads them together with the concepts of memory and nostalgia, as well as connotations associated with familiar objects, places and ideas."

In addition to Basher, participating artists include Zipora Fried, Sam Moyer, Matt Sheridan Smith and Kevin Zucker. The exhibit runs from Nov. 3-Sept. 11, 2011.


The Weekend: 10.29-10.31

Friday, Oct. 29

Boroughwide: It's Halloween! Find something happening in an neighborhood near you, or worth jumping on the train for, with our handy guide.

Park Slope: For theater, head to Park Slope this weekend, as "Reefer Madness" continues its run at the Gallery Players, and "The Tragic Story of Dr. Frankenstein" - a gender-bending take on the original Mary Shelly story - opens at Brooklyn Arts Exchange, just in time for Halloween.

Saturday, Oct. 30

Prospect Park: This doesn't happen often - The Equus Projects brings its equine art, where dancers perform with horses - to Prospect Park. It's like nothing you've ever seen before, we promise.

Fort Greene: There's lots of good stuff to choose from at BAM this weekend, specifically, "Empty Moves," new choreography from Angelin Preljjocaj, and "Persephone," starring Julia Stiles. Yes, that Julia Stiles.

Bushwick: This is your last chance to catch "The Ring Cycle," Performance Lab 115's low-brow take on the Wagner classic. And it's as good as the hype.  

Sunday, Oct. 31

Park Slope: Get a jump on your holiday shopping, but stay in costume, at the Kings County General Store this weekend. The first 50 customers in costume get a free tote bag, perfect for helping you carry away all you goodies, and maybe some candy, too.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

'Shine' this Halloween

Here's a spooky video, just in time for Halloween!

It's "Shine" by Kai Altair, directed by Zina Brown and featuring Altair, Veronica Varlow and a few other other notable Brooklyn artists.


The Hidden Sister from Zina Brown on Vimeo.


Halloween shopping, and more

By Meredith Deliso

Market Watch is back this week with some news on a brand new store and a fun, Halloween-themed shopping excursion.

On the heels of one of the priciest designer stores opening in Brooklyn comes the complete opposite. Fashionable shoppers maxed out by Barneys can enjoy TJMaxx, as the discount designer chain opened its first Brooklyn location this past weekend in Midwood. It’s right off the Kings Highway stop, so your half-priced designer duds and home décor are only a subway ride away. As far as someone helping you with all those shopping bags, that’s a different story.

TJMaxx [1630 E. 15th St. between Avenue P and Kings Highway in Midwood, (718) 336-1194].

Nightwood Design
Pop-up stores by their nature are temporary, which makes the news that Nightwood Design, a furniture and design studio found in the Be@Schermerhorn residential building, is extending its run from the end of October through Dec. 14 even sweeter. The store specializes in reconstructed furniture and textiles, made with a modern yet rustic aesthetic. The chairs, art, benches and beds are meticulously arranged in the immense ground-floor space, like a high design Ikea but with one-of-a-kind pieces. So even if you aren’t on the hunt for a new desk or cabinet, you can still pretend.

Nightwood at be@schermerhorn [189 Schermerhorn St. at Hoyt Street in Downtown, (347) 249-9552]. For info, visit

Kings County General Store
Who says you can’t go shopping in your Halloween costume? In fact, the Kings County General Store downright demands it. This Oct. 31, stay as Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber as you peruse this monthly market, home to such vendors as Mifflin Jewelry and its (of course) vintage accessories, Chloe Chapman’s lovely bird-inspired greeting cards, and Omnia Wears’s worn (in a good way) leather satchels and driving gloves, which make you wish you actually drove. This is a club after all, so enjoy drink specials and spooky music by Mikey Palms. The first 50 people in costume also get a free tote bag, so there’s some incentive to get there early.

Kings County General Store [125 Fifth Ave. between Butler and Douglass streets in Park Slope, (718) 230-0236], Oct. 13 from noon-5 pm. For info, visit


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pulled from the pages

Boris Kulikov - The Eraserheads

By Meredith Deliso

At the Brooklyn Public Library, some of the best material isn’t on the shelves — it’s on the walls.

Drawn in Brooklyn,” a new exhibit at the library’s central branch, pulls from the pages of some of the best children’s books from the past decade (and some not even published yet) to highlight 34 illustrators who live and work in the borough.

“When you hear something like a Brooklyn-only show, you think it’s provincial or boosterism,” said John Bemelmans Marciano, a Red Hook based illustrator who curated the exhibit. “But Brooklyn really is the epicenter of the children’s publishing world.”

Marciano’s own works are among the over 100 featured, including his pieces for the Madeline series (his grandfather, Ludwig Bemelmans, is its creator). Other contributions come from children’s book award winners such as Leo and Diane Dillon (“Mother Goose — Numbers on the Loose”), Brian Selznick (“The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins”), Paul O. Zelinsky (“Awful Ogre Running Wild”), and Bryan Collier (“Dave the Potter”).

On their own, unaccompanied by any text or context, the pieces are bold, colorful and somewhat surreal. There’s Boris Kuliko’s illustration from “The Eraserheads” of a frightened pig covered in ink; John Nickle’s page from “Never Take a Shark to the Dentist,” where a professional pair of rabbits tend to a razor-toothed shark; Peter Brown’s ever-serious bull dog sitting at a computer in “Chowder,” with mouse in paw. Others look like commissioned portraits, from Brian Pinkney’s sparse, playful “Little Diva” to R. Gregory Christie’s commanding, depth-filled Bass Reeves from the cover of “Bad New for Outlaws.” 

“I wanted to do a show that really celebrates the illustrations for the illustration’s sake,” said Marciano. “I also really wanted to have a good mix of people — illustrators who were very accomplished, people who were mid-career and ready to break out, and those just starting out. It’s in no way comprehensive, but shows the width and breadth of the people working here in Brooklyn.” 

In addition to the stand-alone pieces, found hanging in the lobby, the exhibit features a “behind the scenes” component in its Youth Wing and site-specific installations in the upstairs balcony, where Aileen Leijten, Yunmee Kyong and Sophie Blackall have turned to their inspirations for inspiration, presenting dolls, papier mâché animals and an antique scrapbook for a 3-D component to the show. 

Tuesdays and Thursdays at the library will also feature talks with the artists, so you can meet the faces behind the pictures.

“Drawn in Brooklyn” at the Brooklyn Public Library’s central branch [Flatbush Avenue at Eastern Parkway in Grand Army Plaza in Park Slope, (718) 230-2100], now through Jan. 23, 2011. Artist talks on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 am, with Melanie Hope Greenberg up next on Oct. 28. For info, visit


Halloween in Brooklyn

Call it Boo-klyn!

Halloween in Brooklyn doesn't disappoint this year, with tons of parades, parties and performances to keep you busy.

We've rounded up the best that's out there in our Halloween guide for this weekend. We've also compiled up all the parades for trick or treaters big and small. And, it wouldn't be Halloween without a proper fright fest, and we've got the skinny on Luna Park's "Nights of Horror" (above).

Photo by Stefano Giovannini


Horsing around

By Meredith Deliso

Call it dances with horses.

The Equus Projects, a city-based dance company that choreographs humans with horses, will bring its unique production to Prospect Park on Oct. 30.

“It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen,” said JoAnna Mendl Shaw, artistic director. “It’s not intended to be abstract. It looks pretty and festive.”

Dancers will don Victorian costumes, including long skirts and cutaway jackets, as they gracefully perform modern dance with five horses and each other. That could mean moving with the steeds as they graze or running with them as they gallop. Reins can lead them, but much of the movement is dictated by the horse, with the dancers responding to it.

Leading up to the company’s full costumed performance, the public will have the opportunity to observe the company’s warm-up and rehearsal for a rare behind-the-scenes look.

“It’s very important for us as dancers that we demonstrate that clearly, that the horses do not feel like they’re performing tricks, but actually having a dialogue with the dancers,” said Shaw.

GallopNYC, an equine therapy program that works with children with disabilities, invited The Equus Projects to join them in an event at Prospect Park for the Halloween weekend. There’s no doubt, though, that the horses will steal the show.

The Equus Projects at Prospect Park’s Nethermead field [enter at Prospect Park West and 16th Street in Park Slope, (718) 965-8900], Oct. 30 from 11 am-3 pm, with the full costumed performance, “Celebration,” at 2 pm. Free. For info, visit


Our exclusive Mus-o-meter registers Atlantic/Pacific

By Michelle Manetti

Atlantic/Pacific’s debut album, “Meet You New Love,” has that unusually cool and vibrant sound that makes you turn your head and listen in the first place, But to really get a sense of what this Downtown band is all about, we leave that up to the math of the Mus-o-meter.

Take the husky voice of Jesse Lacey on Brand New’s 2006 album “The God and Devil are Raging Inside Me.” Then add … 

The glitchy beat on Radiohead’s landmark 1997 album “OK Computer,” Then add … 

The poetic lyrics of Bright Eyes’ 2007 album “Cassadaga.” The sum?

Atlantic/Pacific’s debut, “Meet Your New Love.”


Your destination for indie rock

By Michelle Manetti

Next stop: Atlantic/Pacific.

Garrett Klahn, previously of Texas Is the Reason, and John Herguth of House and Parish, have joined forces for their latest musical venture — Atlantic/Pacific.

The rockers borrow the moniker not from the widely known oceans, but from Brooklyn’s busy Downtown subway station — Klahn’s own, to be precise.

Since forming two years ago, the band’s also been branded with the “indie” label by critics — an all-too-common catchall for bands whose genre can’t be figured out. That might do a disservice to the duo’s soothing melodies, fuzzed out guitars, and well-crafted arrangements. But Herguth said he doesn’t mind.

“Some people say it’s psychedelic, folk-type, but ‘indie’ is not a bad way to describe it,” he said. This month sees the release of the band’s debut album, “Meet Your New Love,” a collection of trippy, lushly layered tunes.

To celebrate the release, the band is going on a cross-country tour, but not before kicking it off on Oct. 28 with a record release party at the Bell House in Gowanus.

It may be months of fast food and cramped spaces from then on, but for Klahn and Herguth, it’s merely the price you pay for getting to do what you love.

“When you’re with your friends, touring is an experience unlike any other,” said Klahn.

To bid them farewell, just catch the Coney Island-bound R train at Atlantic/Pacific and take it to Ninth Street.

Atlantic/Pacific at the Bell House [149 Seventh Ave. between Second and Third Avenues in Park Slope, (718) 643-6510], Oct. 28 at 8 pm. Tickets $12. For info, visit


Feminine Frankenstein

By Joe Anuta

It’s time to reanimate a centuries-old corpse — and this time, it’s a woman!

In “The Tragic Story of Dr. Frankenstein,” opening on Oct. 28 at Brooklyn Arts Exchange, the doctor — and the creature she creates from dead bodies — will both be played by ladies, a drastic departure from the male-driven novel by Mary Shelley.

The switch-up is what Shelley might have wished for, since the book’s main subtext the patriarchal society of the 19th century, told through women who simply sit at home and write letters to adventuring alpha males.

But in the modern version, girls are on top (that’s no cheap pun, either, judging by these laboratory photos). Let’s just say that it’s no coincidence that the monster and Dr. Frankenstein are hot.

Not surprisingly, the gender bend changed some of the central themes of the story. 

“The result was more about mothers, children, responsibility and the power of creation,” director Ed Elefterion said.

The company, Rabbit Hole Ensemble, will explore the story of Frankenstein for an entire year. This month’s show will be the first of three, and told entirely from the doctor’s point of view. The next show will be from the curvaceous monster’s point of view, and the last show will juxtapose the two. Elefterion said getting the same story from two different perspectives will provide a complete understanding of the story — just make sure to buy all three tickets.

Such a long commitment might be unconventional for a small theater company without a patron, but in 2007, Rabbit Hole earned wide acclaim for a year-long cycle of three plays about the ghoulish German vampire, Nosferaru.

This year, the company will delve into the central themes of “Frankenstein” — creation and responsibility — which are more relevant today than in Shelley’s time, said Elefterion. 

Technology has given society the power to clone animals and conceive babies in test tubes, but has also given rise to debates about whether it is morally right to do so.

“Mary Shelley’s fantastic dream from the early 1800s is a reality,” he said. “It has immediate relevance.”

“Tragic Story of Doctor Frankenstein” at Brooklyn Arts Exchange [421 Fifth Ave. at Eighth Street in Park Slope, (718) 832-0018], Oct. 28–Nov. 13 at 8 pm. Tickets $18 ($50 for opening night). For info, visit


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is this the best Halloween house in Brooklyn?

These pictures just came into our inbox. They're from Anthony and Marie George's house in Dyker Heights, on 79th Street between 11th and 12th avenues

Marie tells us: For the past several years, my husband has been entertaining Brooklyn residents with his Halloween displays. Each year the displays grow in size as does the number of people that drop by our home. This year, my husband really went above and beyond.

We'll say! Do you know of any houses that rival this horror house?


Honey-flavored Halloween

By Meredith Deliso

Need a sweet treat for Halloween? Look no further.

The ladies behind Liddabit Sweets, a Bedford-Stuyvesant bakery that can also be found all over Brooklyn at places like the Brooklyn Flea and Bklyn Larder, have shared with us their recipe for Honey-nut Popcorn Balls, a crunchy, sugary snack that’s just the right shape for some Halloween-themed decorating, if you’re in the mood.

“You could certainly stick some candies on there to make a Jack O’ Lantern face,” volunteered co-founder Liz Gutman. Though, after our own little taste test, these treats are sweet enough without the extra sugar!

They’re best within a few days of making, but will stay good for up to a week, for a post-Halloween sugar high.

Honey-nut Popcorn Balls
(makes about 20)

6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tbl. honey
3/4 tsp. baking soda
10 cups popped corn (1 plain microwave bag or 1/4 cup kernels)
1-1/2 cups roasted almonds (or whatever nut you like)

Have on hand an oiled bowl, with the popped popcorn in it, and two oiled, heat-proof spatulas or spoons. (Be vigilant about removing all unpopped kernels.)

In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add sugars, salt, honey, and corn syrup and cook to 300 degrees over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. The mixture will look thick and bubbly. Add the baking soda and stir well to incorporate; it will increase in volume.

Pour the caramel evenly over the popcorn in the oiled bowl, then sprinkle the nuts. Using your spatulas or spoons, toss together until corn is evenly coated. When the caramel has cooled somewhat but not brittle, after two to three minutes of tossing, shape into two-inch balls with lightly oiled hands. (Don’t be afraid to really crush the popcorn to mold it into a ball. And, since the caramel is still somewhat hot at this point, this isn’t an activity for kids).


Dancin' in their underwear

By Adam Warner

This dance piece is bare — in more ways than one.

“Empty Moves,” a conceptual show featuring four very elastic and underwear-clad performers, is providing just that at the Brooklyn Acadmey of Music this month (catch a glimpse of it here).

Ballet Preljocaj’s last performance at the Fort Greene space was “Near Life Experience,” a piece that had a lot of bubbles, and like much of company founder Angelin Preljocaj’s work, used the body as a mode of expression.

The much more minimal “Empty Moves,” opening Oct. 27, is influenced by a 1977 performance that composer John Cage did in Milan, in which he coolly uttered meaningless words and repetitive sounds that were extracted from Henry David Thoreau’s journals using I Ching. He was met with boos and jeering from a hostile audience, made crazy by hours of Cage’s declarative rambling. The piece was entitled “Empty Words” — hence Preljocaj’s fitting title.

Like Cage, the performers in “Empty Moves” show no reaction or affect — they simply dance in their skivvies, taking pleasure in their existence. There’s no premise or theme, only the movement of bodies.

Of course, Preljocaj, being the inventive man that he is, looks to be gravitating towards some idea with the piece. “Empty Moves” is a challenge to the very concepts of form and subject matter. By balancing and frolicking about, the dancers are inviting the audience to enter Cage’s calmness through elegance and concentrated energy. You’re meant to get lost in the trance of undies and meditation, leaving the very idea of “idea” at the theater doors.

“The notion of the alienation effect and of the disintegration of movement, as well as a new matter of choreographic phrasing takes precedence over meaning and essence,” said Preljocaj.

And come on, isn’t dancing around in your underwear what life’s really all about?

“Empty Moves (parts I & II)” at Brooklyn Academy of Music [30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Place and St. Felix Street in Fort Greene, (718) 636-4100], Oct. 27, 29 and 30 at 7:30 pm. Tickets $20-$55. For info, visit


Monday, October 25, 2010

Theater Review: Embrace this 'Madness'

 Photo by Bella Muccari.
By  Meredith Deliso

The Gallery Players have gone to pot — but you’re the one who’ll get high.

The Park Slope theater troupe brings “Reefer Madness,” a musical based on the 1938 propaganda film of the same name, to the stage this month, and this smoke-filled room is a laugh-a-minute affair.

The exploitation film was originally a big blunt of Acapulco gold for Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney, who turned “Reefer Madness” into a musical in 1998, embracing the film’s over-the-top seriousness and ridiculous scare tactics for an uproarious performance.

In the Gallery Players’ silly, kinky production, the sparse set comes alive quickly after The Lecturer takes to the stage to warn us about “true events” that transpired as a result of the demon weed. And it starts off with a bong, er, bang, thanks the raucous opening number, “Reefer Madness,” featuring zombified teens — the victims of marijuana.

The Lecturer (Greg Horton, whose mustache should also get its own credit) goes on to tell the “true” story of the wide-eyed Jimmy Harper, a 16-year-old who, with one puff of the ganga, goes from a good egg to a bad apple, much to the dismay and confusion of his girlfriend, Mary Lane. He becomes a regular at the reefer den of Jack Stone, Mae Coleman, Sally Debains, and Ralph Wiley, who prey on the local teens to support their own bad habit.

As Jimmy gets deeper and deeper into their world, becoming a sex-crazed creep who ecstatically steals from his mom and the church’s collection, we learn some valuable lessons, such as “reefer makes you sell your babies for drug money,” and “reefer kills poor old men.” Not even Jesus (played with great charisma by Jose Restrepo) can save him.

It’s a quick-moving performance, with great sight gags, that goes off without a hitch. The comically choreographed numbers use the space well, especially with the full ensemble (“The Orgy” is a stand out), and there’s as many costume changes as a Lady Gaga concert, as the fresh-faced ensemble easily transforms into flesh-rotting zombies, high heel, corset-sporting cherubs (men included), and wholesome, milkshake slurpin’ kids.

Jason Edward Cook makes Jimmy’s own embellished transformation believable, with little more than an untucked shirt and tussled hair. The innocent Mary Lane is appropriately doe-eyed — so the fun really starts when she gets her turn in the inhibition-destroying drug den.

Michele Scully is sultry as Sally, and, in a show without many stand-out vocal moments, Jaygee Macapugay steals the stage as the maternal Mae during “The Stuff” and its reprise. Zak Risinger also earns his laughs as the strung-out Ralph thanks to his wiry physical comedy.

For all the high times, the musical isn’t without some downers. The cast is unmic-ed, so some singers, especially the soft-voiced Cook, are difficult to hear. And in such a silly show, the violence is difficult to react to. A rape joke fell completely flat, and the abuse between Jack and Mae, played straight, wasn’t really funny until an outlandish prop was brought in. In a production as sardonic as this one, where pot turns teens into zombies, it’s at its best when it keeps it over the top and embraces the madness.

“Reefer Madness” at the Gallery Players [199 14th St. between Fourth and Fifth avenues in Park Slope, (718) 595-0547], now through Nov. 14. Tickets $18, $14 for children and seniors. For info, visit


Minimalist, low-budget terror

“Paranormal Activity 2”
Two and a half stars

By Gary Buiso

Waiting is the hardest — and creepiest — part in “Paranormal Activity 2,” a prequel that mostly succeeds by following the same minimalistic formula of its low-budget forebear.

Kitchen cabinets, a pool filter and other mundane objects turn malevolent when a demon of a house guest moves in with Kristi (Sprague Grayden), her husband, Daniel (Brian Boland), teenage daughter, Ali (Molly Ephraim), baby Hunter, and German shepherd.

The dog is the first to sense that something stinks in suburbia, but the humans catch on, eventually. 

When the family returns from a barbecue, their place has been ransacked, but nothing is stolen, save for a necklace. Video cameras are installed, but the inexplicable continues to persist. 

The family nanny tries to rid the house of evil spirits — she speaks Spanish, and burns sage while cradling the baby — but this only gets her axed, professionally speaking, as Daniel is the last to admit that there may be a problemo. “Maybe it’s set to high or something,” he says about the pool filter, which seems to have a mind of its own.

Performances feel organic, but there is little chemistry between husband and wife. Besides the demon behind the curtain, German shepherd, Abby, is the real show stopper.

Director Tod Williams (“The Adventures of Sebastian Cole”) deliberately builds terror for the first hour, lingering on shots long enough to make them unsettling. Ironically, the film loses a bit of steam once it becomes more frenetic.

The first film’s demon-plagued couple, Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie (Katie Featherston) make an appearance in the prequel, which cleverly explains their fate — and sets the stage for another installment.

“Paranormal Activity” is the anti-”Saw,” — and it’s building a franchise.

“Paranormal Activity 2.” Rated R for language and brief violent material. Running time: 91 minutes. With Sprague Grayden, Brian Boland, Molly Ephraim, Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston. Playing in Brooklyn at the Access Digital Theatres - Pavilion Cinema in Park Slope, UA Court Street Stadium 12 in Downtown, Kent Theatre in Coney Island, UA Sheepshead Bay 14, and Bay Ridge Alpine Cinemas.

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