Friday, February 25, 2011

Feature Features

There are a lot of interesting features written about Brooklyn, covering food, music, film, you name it. So, to share them with you, we're creating Feature Features, a link-based post on all manners of Brooklyn stories.

Here's what we're reading today:

"Brooklyn and Queens artist partnership hits web with BQT t-shirts": The Daily News catches up with Jay-Z's favorite new tee-shirt makers.

"Prospect Heights Edges into Crown Heights": The Wall Street Journal reports on neighborhood boundary shifts.


Sweet openings

Almost every day it seems a new restaurant has opened in Brooklyn. Here's a look at three of the tastiest:

  • Van Leeuwan expanded to its second shop after opening in Greenpoint last year with a ice cream parlor in Boerum Hill, which opened to crowds this past weekend, despite it being February.
  • Park Slope has a new espresso bar in the two-week-old Crespella (pictured), which, as the name implies, also specializes in crepes.
  • Colonie, the little artisanal restaurant that could, opened in Brooklyn Heights last week, serving all your biodynamic needs.


Spring ahead with this pasta

By Helen Klein

Bringing the flavors and fragrances of spring into the kitchen while it’s still winter proper takes a bit of culinary magic. Even out-of-season vegetables can taste delicious, though, if they are cooked with care and a degree of calculation.

In this pasta dish, for instance, the pepper and onion are cooked over moderate heat for long enough to caramelize their sugars, adding sweetness to slowly cooked tomatoes that, otherwise, would be unremarkable.

A generous handful of chopped fresh basil and parsley provides additional grace notes, as does the sliced garlic, evoking the warm breezes of the Mediterranean, even in February.

This dish is quick to make, and easy to alter to suit your tastes or what is in your pantry. Switch the herbs around if you like, substituting fresh oregano or dill for the basil. Vegetables can also bow in and out, with zucchini standing in for the yellow squash. Or, try asparagus or fresh green beans. Just make sure there’s an array of colors, which makes the finished dish look as good as it tastes.

Spring pasta
Serves four

1 tbl. olive oil
1/4 purple onion, coarsely diced
1 colored pepper, cored and coarsely diced
1 yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch-thick half moons
2-3 plum tomatoes, coarsely diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2-3 tbl. extra virgin olive oil
8 oz. wagon wheel pasta, cooked till al dente and drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in large non-stick frying pan.

Add onion and a little salt and sauté over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, till limp. Add colored pepper and continue cooking until pepper has softened. Add garlic, and continue sautéing another two to three minutes. Add squash, and continue sautéing until it has started to soften and turn translucent.

Add tomatoes, and cook until they are softened and their juices have rendered (about five to 10 minutes). Add basil and continue cooking another two to three minutes, stirring as needed.

Toss pasta with vegetable mixture in frying pan and cook to heat through. Remove from heat, and toss again with parsley and extra virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.


The Weekend: 2.25-2.27

Friday, Feb. 25

Williamsburg: Drink for a cause, as the Brooklyn Kitchen hosts a benefit for City Reliquary called Booze and Schmooze. We're sold.

Fort Greene: Kim Jee-woon, the gore-teur behind such films as "Oldboy," gets a retrospective at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, beginning tonight with his most-recent film, "I Saw the Devil."

Saturday, Feb. 26

Flatbush: Get your tango on at the Brooklyn Performing Arts Center at Brooklyn College as it hosts the Tango Buenos Aires company.

Sunday, Feb. 27

Gowanus: "Mr. Funny Pants" himself, Michael Showalter, celebrates the release of his new book at the Bell House with some pretty good friends.

Borough-wide: Don't have a functioning TV, or simply need an excuse to go to a bar? Here's a great guide to Oscars events around Brooklyn compiled by Brooklyn Based.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Just call him Mr. Funny Pants

By Meredith Deliso

Michael Showalter is a tad obsessed with process.

In “Mr. Funny Pants,” the comedian’s new quasi-memoir, he spends five chapters discussing writing the book, including a preface, post-preface, and post-post preface, and even fake reviews for the finished product.
It’s a tactic that may fail in less skilled hands, but makes for a brainy, offbeat and, yes, funny, literary debut filled with irreverent, clever pieces — an imaginary interview with Charlie Rose, a parody of an ad for an online university — as well as tidbits from his own life. (See him discuss the book on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" below.)

Showalter may be new to the publishing world, but he’s made a name for himself in sketch comedy, thanks to The State, Stella, and his Comedy Central show with Michael Ian Black, “Michael and Michael Have Issues.” He’s also a dependable regular at almost every major Brooklyn comedy event.

To celebrate his new book, he’ll first perform at Eugene Mirman’s “Pretty Good Friends” show, and then read at BookCourt in Cobble Hill on March 1. So you’ll have two chances to find out why he’s earned the title, Mr. Funny Pants.

Michael Showalter at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus, (718) 643-6510], Feb. 27, 8 pm, $10; BookCourt [163 Court St. between Pacific and Dean streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 875-3677], March 1, 7 pm, free. For info, visit


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Just call it Booze Aid!

By Aaron Short

Spirits are rising — to save the City Reliquary!

Brooklyn’s most revered mixologists will show off the borough’s smoothest spirits in a tasty taste test on Friday at The Brooklyn Kitchen.

The booze-and-schmoose fundraiser will benefit the City Reliquary, Williamsburg’s most beloved micro-museum and curator of do-it-yourself craft culture.

The Reliquary’s Matt Levy says it’s the perfect time to try all those Brooklyn-made cocktails you’ve been reading about, such as Kings County Distilling’s whiskey and Breuckelen Distilling’s gin — which Levy likes straight up.

“Brooklyn Distilling makes a mighty fine gin and I like all the cocktails being served — I’m an equal opportunity drinker,” said Levy, adding that there will be “no baptisms” allowed.

Thirsty guests can sample mixed drinks at five cocktail tables, including a wine station with Red Hook Wines and a beer station with — what else? — Brooklyn Brewery showing off its top shelf stuff.

Make sure you try Sother Teague’s “Jack Rose,” an applejack sidecar she developed at Rye, and a dark rum daquiri that Joel Lee Kulp developed at The Richardson.

And to ensure that people don’t pass out on the floor, there will be salty, alcohol-absorbing treats from The Meat Hook, Saltie, The Commodore, Roebling Tea Room, Momofuku Baker, and coffee from Oslo.

So get into the spirit! — just make sure to call a cab home first.

Booze and Schmooze with the City Reliquary at The Brooklyn Kitchen [100 Frost St. at Meeker Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 389-2982], Feb. 25. 7-11 pm. $75-$100. For tickets,


One 'Severely Damaged' filmmaker

By Ethan Alter

Kim Jee-woon is one severely damaged filmmaker — but the Brooklyn Academy of Music means that in the best way possible.

The controversial South Korean gore-teur is a master of shock and splatter — and you can see why this month, as the Brooklyn Academy of Music screens six of his films in the appropriately titled retrospective, “Severely Damaged.”

That includes the gory horror picture, “A Tale of Two Sisters” (remade — and severely neutered — by Hollywood three years ago as “The Uninvited”), the gonzo Western “The Good, The Bad and The Weird,” and his latest film, “I Saw the Devil,” a disturbing thriller in which a lawman enacts a very unique and exceptionally brutal revenge on the serial killer who murdered his pregnant fiancée.

“All revenge films end the same way — they have these false happy endings,” said Jee-woon, who’ll be at the Feb. 25 screening for a Q&A. “I felt frustrated and dissatisfied with those movies and made this one thinking of a new form of revenge film. I wanted to stay closer to the realistic emotions of vengeance.”

The film’s violence certainly proved to be too real for some: “I Saw the Devil” was initially banned from public theaters in Korea. The final version was trimmed by seven minutes to appease the Korean ratings board, but those cuts were put back in for the US version, so you’ve been forewarned.

“Severely Damaged” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music [30 Lafayette Ave. at Ashland Place in Fort Greene, (718) 636-4100], Feb. 25-March 2. Tickets $12 (members $7). For info, visit


It takes two

By  Michelle Manetti

This event is pure seduction.

On Feb. 26, the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts will be set ablaze with desire as the Tango Buenos Aires company performs “Fuego Tango y Pasion.”

“The man and woman together is the passion,” said assistant artistic director Lucrecia Laurel. “Then two bodies moving together create fire.”
¡Ay, caramba!

In this production, the tango is performed with two dancers constantly embracing each other as they move to music by Tango legends Astor Piazzolla, Eduardo Arolas and Julian Plaza. Their feet move rapidly and their bodies intertwine, creating a story of drama and flirtation. Not for nothing was the tango the original “forbidden dance” (take that, lambada fans!).

“It really is about love,” said Laurel. “That’s a big thing about the tango — it inspires and excites people.”

“Fuego Tango y Pasion” at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College [2900 Campus Rd. at Hillel Place in Flatbush, (718) 951-4500], Feb. 26 at 8 pm. Tickets $45. For info, visit


March at Brooklyn Brainery

The new schedule is up for Brooklyn Brainery, which hosts collaborative learning classes on such diverse topics as bee keeping and kimchi making.

Here's a look at this "semester's" classes, held in Carroll Gardens at 515 Court St:

$7 Sundays - Gardening Basics: Seed Germination - No need to wait for warm weather to get your plants going! (and, as always, $7 Sundays are drop-in classes cunningly priced at $5)

Even More Soda Making - The follow-up to the ginger ale workshop! Turn your kitchen into a delicious bubbly-drinks factory

Plant Biology - The science behind our favorite photosynthesizing pals

Shooting with Lenses - A beginner-level workshop on interchangeable lens cinematography

How to Shop in Chinatown - Learn what's hiding behind those indecipherable labels

Ice Cream Making - This one is kind of self-explanatory

The Sociology of Food - Unravel the mysteries behind the social acts of eating and making food

Intro to Bookbinding - Handbound books from start to finish!

See anything you like? Register here. And don't hesitate - spots sign up fast!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Think you know sex? The Victorians were even better at it

By Meredith Deliso

Forget modern pornography — the Victorians had the good stuff.

“Contemporary pornography is kind of boring,” said Deborah Lutz, an English professor at Long Island University who specializes in erotica. “There’s something about Victorian pornography, it’s kind of unusual to us. I like to talk and write about sexuality when it’s historical.”

In her new book, “Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism,” the Greenpoint-based writer dispels well-worn myths about prudish Victorians by revealing 19th-century erotic writings, paintings and the people who made them. (Read an excerpt here.)

“I was surprised at how open the London homosexual activities were,” said Lutz. “There were gay brothels, street cruising, public bathrooms, gay pornography.”

There were, of course, still some prudes — sodomy was illegal, and dressing in drag could get you arrested for indecency (paging Mr. Wilde!). But Lutz still had plenty of material to work with in her research, including personal letters, published erotica, art and poems.

There were Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s sensual paintings, Algernon Charles Swinburne’s tales of visiting flagellation brothels, explorer Richard Burton’s how-to manuals on sex positions. Our very own Walt Whitman was a particular fascination of the Victorian set, thanks to his “Calamus” poems in “Leaves of Grass” about “the manly love of comrades.”

These people figure prominently in Lutz’s book, which is a highly seductive and equally informative discourse on the art, literary and taboo-breaking bohemian scene of the time.

“I really wanted to paint a picture of what it was like to be a sexual radical in Victorian London,” said Lutz.  “I wanted to bring the time period alive.”

Lutz will repaint that picture at Greenlight Bookstore this Wednesday, when she talks with noted sex writer Susan Crain Bakos about issues in “Pleasure Bound” and connect them to present-day practices.

“Deborah’s book is a titillating look at Victorian erotica, as well as a serious exploration of the influence of the wild 19th century underworld on the great cultural creations of the era,” said Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, co-owner of Greenlight. “We think it’s a great post-Valentine’s Day event — a little naughty, a little sexy, and very smart.” 

Deborah Lutz at Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246-0200], Feb. 23 at 7:30 pm. Free. For info, visit

Photo by Stefano Giovannini


Monday, February 21, 2011

Brooklyn Songwriters Exchange finds a new home — again

By Meredith Deliso

The Brooklyn Songwriters Exchange has been quite the little nomad.

Since forming five years ago, the monthly series featuring up-and-coming songwriters has been at Vox Pop, the Brooklyn Lyceum, and Union Hall. And, starting on Feb. 21, it finds a new home at Pete’s Candy Store.

“I felt like the series had been in Park Slope for a long time and that the people of Williamsburg should have it a little,” said Jason Crosby, who, along with Megan Palmer, has also taken the reins from series founder Rebecca Pronsky, who hits the road next month with a new album.

At the first Pete’s show, Crobsy and Palmer will performs songs off their own EP, “You First.” Dave Diamond and Rachel Zamstein will also perform that night at the intimate venue.
“It’s kind of like playing in a boxcar,” said Palmer.

Going forward, Crobsy and Palmer look to expand the scope of the series, moving away from just acoustics and adding a backing band, as well as offering workshops for the songwriting community.

Brooklyn Songwriter’s Exchange at Pete’s Candy Store [709 Lorimer St. between Richardson and Frost streets in Williamsburg, (718) 302-3770], Feb. 21 at 9:30 pm. Free. For info, visit

Photo by Stefano Giovannini


Friday, February 18, 2011

Feature Features

There are a lot of interesting features written about Brooklyn, covering food, music, film, you name it. So, to share them with you, we're creating Feature Features, a link-based post on all manners of Brooklyn stories.

Here's what we're reading today:

"What's With the Distressed Look of BAM's Harvey Theater?": In its Ask Playbill series, the site explains the unfinished aesthetic of the Fort Greene venue, in case you were ever wondering why it looks war-torn.

"The Brooklyn Beer Battle": Has Brooklyn Brewery lost its edge? New York Press thinks so, exploring the brand as it expands, but loses some fans in the borough.

"10 Brooklyn DIY Classes for the Coming Apocalypse": So when civilization needs to restart, you have all the basics skills down, such as knife sharpening and composting. Thanks, L Magazine.

"Memoir: When Brooklyn Was Mine": Naima Coster recalls Fort Greene as she knew it growing up in the late 1980s and '90s in this thoughtful piece on the Local.

"Stitch by Stitch and Block by Block": The New York Times profiles Nayantara Banerjee, aka the Williamsburg Seamster. For apparels you can't trust with just anybody, this hard-working seamstress seems to be the answer.


The Weekend: 2.18-2.20

Friday, Feb. 18

Williamsburg: Help Brooklyn Oenology choose its next wine label with an exhibition at its tasting room. Also in the neighborhood, the Sketchbook Project lands at the Brooklyn Art Library.

Bushwick: Explore Bushwick's burgeoning art scene with Bushwick Beat Nite, a night of openings across the neighborhood.

Saturday, Feb. 19

Fort Greene: Shiver our timbers! "Treasure Island" has landed at the Irondale Center.

Prospect Heights: Get inside a giant tipi at the Brooklyn Museum, and explore other Native American artifacts, in its new exhibition, "Tipi Heritage."

Sunday, Feb. 20

Gowanus: If you're Texan, your presence is wanted at the Bell House for its Texas State Fair.

Flatbush: If you can't get enough of Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman, head to the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts for "American Big Band."


Not too cold for this ice cream

By Alex Rush

It may be ice cold outside, but that doesn’t make the creamy concoctions at Ice Cream, U Scream any less irresistible.

The husband-and-wife duo that owns the Gerritsen Beach parlor says that even during the city’s snowiest season, the shop still packs in more than 100 people after school and on the weekends. The nabe just can’t get enough of its one-of-a-kind flavors.

“I’m here all the time because they make the best ice cream anywhere,” said Thomas Hines. “Where else can you find an ice cream cake flavor?”
Locals George and Patty Smyth (pictured) took over Ice Cream, U Scream in 2007 and immediately redecorated and, most important, began creating never-before-tasted flavors. One of their most popular concoctions is rainbow cookie ice cream.

“One of our regular customers used to bring us rainbow cookies all the time, and one day she suggested that we turn it into an ice cream flavor,” said George.

The owners’ willingness to experiment is one of the main reasons why the shop is so popular. For instance, they were inspired by their kiddie customers’ love of candy to create an Almond Joy flavor and are currently testing out a marshmallow and peanut butter yogurt blend.

“When we get an idea for a new flavor we’ll make some small batches to sell,” said Patty.

And if it sells well, they’ll make it a regular menu item, added George.

The pair also lets the neighborhood kids submit ideas for a new flavor every summer. Last year, the choice ice cream had treats for all taste buds, combining brownies, fudge, marshmallows and gummy bears.

“We really try to be very neighborhood-friendly,” said Patty. “We live in the neighborhood, our kids go to school in the neighborhood and it’s important for us to know all our customers.”
And their ice cream preferences.

Ice Cream, U Scream [2714 Gerritsen Ave. between Everett and Florence avenues in Gerritsen Beach, (718) 891-6111].

Photo by  Peter V. Milo


At Asia's crossroads

By Helen Klein

The complex flavors and textures of Malaysian cuisine are relatively unknown, even in Brooklyn’s expansive culinary universe.

This is food that is as familiar as it is surprising, evoking memories of Chinese, Thai and Indian specialities even as it strikes out on its own intensely flavorful path.

Fortunately for Brooklynites, a wide array of Malaysian culinary delights can be savored at Sunset Park’s Nyonya, one of only a handful of restaurants in the borough that specialize in the cuisine of this Asian crossroads.

Redolent of curry and coconut, main dishes and appetizers alike evoke a sense of offbeat exoticism — tropical paradise meets urban hotpot, served up in a bright, wood-paneled restaurant with the ambiance of an island outpost.

Overall, dishes at Nyonya, like the flavors they unfurl on the tongue, tease and tantalize, yet ultimately satisfy.

Noodle dishes abound. Mee siam ($6.95), stir-fried rice vermicelli studded with shrimp and chunks of tofu and dusted with chopped peanuts, is sweet and spicy at once, with the smoky flavor of food fresh from the grill providing a third grace note.

If you prefer your noodles bathed in broth, try one of the eatery’s baker’s dozen of soups that range from the familiar to the exotic — including clay pot pearl noodles soup ($6.50) highlighting shrimp, pork and egg if you’re seeking a level of familiarity; ginger duck noodles ($5.95) if you are mildly adventurous; and fish head soup with rice noodles ($6.95) if you are an uninhibited diner.

Among the most-appealing dishes on the menu is roti canai ($2.95), or Indian pancake, a freshly baked flatbread served with a curried dipping sauce that’s the perfect culinary warm-up on a cold winter’s night.

Also yummy was Nyonya kari ayam ($10.95), chicken stewed in a curried base enriched with the subtle tartness of lemongrass, and chicken satay ($6.25), small cubes of meat with a crisp, caramelized exterior threaded onto wooden skewers and served with chunks of cucumber and purple onion.

Some of the dishes were as much a feast for the eyes as for the palate. Sarang burong ($11.95), a melange of meats and vegetables cascaded out of a fried taro bowl, and looked absolutely gorgeous with its kaleidoscopic colors. Nonetheless, there are certainly some dishes at Nyonya that are not for the timid. On the menu, an appetizer of crispy pork intestines ($6.95) comes with a warning for customers to “ask server for advice before you order!!!”

Next time, maybe…

Nyonya [5323 Eighth Ave. at 54th Street in Sunset Park, (718) 633-0808]. Cash only. Open seven days.

Photo: The coconut jumbo prawn at Nyonya. Photo by Noah Devereaux


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bell House is bringing 10 gallons of fun this Sunday

By Meredith Deliso

Brooklyn is a borough of transplants — so it’s about time that all those wired, muddled masses who yearned to be free from Minnesota, Iowa, Oklahoma and all the other lame places have a place to share their tiny homesickness.

For that reason, the Bell House has will host a different “state fair” every month, celebrating the good ol’ hinterlands with local beer, food, music and games.

“We know a lot of groups of transplants and thought it would be fun to throw a party where people could celebrate their state in food and beer, re-connect with old friends, and meet new ones,” said Heather D., the director of events for the Gowanus-area venue, who is herself a Colorado transplant.

On Feb. 20, the series continues with a Texas state fair — and it wouldn’t be a proper Lone Star affair without a belt buckle contest — the bigger the better — where $50 is on the line. There will also be draft beers from the Rio Grande state, a queso cook-off (Rotel and Velveeta is always a winning combination), ping pong tables, and more. As for attire, well, a cowboy hat is pretty much mandatory.

Texas State Fair at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus, (718) 643-6510], Feb. 20, 3-7 pm. Free. For info, visit


Big band, big sounds

By Michelle Manetti

Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman are being brought back to life for one night only next week.

The Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts will host the traveling show, “American Big Band,” featuring singers and musicians performing the classic cool jazz of early 1930s and ’40s on Feb. 20.

“It’s the epitome of the Big Band swing era,” said performer and company manager Victoria Venier (pictured). “We’ve expanded on the vocals, but it’s all the original arrangements.”

That means classic tracks such as “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Benny Goodman and Cole Porter’s “Night and Day.”

But beyond music, the production also features vintage World War II costumes and a reading of love letters written between a soldier and his wife from that time.

“It’s a show for all ages,” said Venier. “We bring you back to a time of real entertainment.”

“American Big Band” at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College [2900 Campus Rd. at Hillel Place in Flatbush, (718) 951-4500]. Feb. 20 at 2 pm. Tickets are $27. For info, visit


Building the perfect coffee snob

Don't know your Aeropress from your elbow? Then you'll want to read our feature on how to become a Brooklyn coffee snob, complete with information on classes, tasting sessions, such as with Brooklyn Roasting Company's Jim Munson, left, and more.

Also, while on the topic of artisanal coffee, one of the trailblazers, Gimme Coffee, is expanding!

Photo by Peter Milo


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Brooklyn designers need your votes

Like what you see?

You can help get this Spiranovich Console made. Red Hook designers Will Kavesh and Emyrs Berkower, under their brand TOKENnyc, have a product in, a crowdsourced furniture startup.

You can vote for the console up until Feb. 23, and the  more votes it receives, the more likely it will get produced and sold.

You can vote for the console here.


Bushwick's got the beat

By Aaron Short

Catch some of the neighborhood’s most exciting emerging artists when Bushwick’s elusive art spaces open simultaneously for Bushwick Beat Nite on Friday.

The Friday night event is Bushwick-based curator Jason Andrew’s attempt to coordinate the neighborhood’s gallery scene, similar to Chelsea’s Thursday openings or DUMBO’s open studios nights.

“Bushwick has been around for a while, but there are a lot of people who don’t know what’s going on out here,” said Andrew, who has organized five Bushwick art crawls so far.

Since 2007, a handful of galleries have sprung up in former factories, empty storefronts, and living rooms of lofts near Flushing Avenue, the main industrial strip that separates Bushwick from Williamsburg.

This month, three art spaces are featuring openings, including the grand reopening of Laundromat, which was once on the fourth floor of a Boerum Street building above — you guessed it — a Laundromat.

The space, which will feature video works of artist Walsh Hansen and Alexa Hoyer’s performance piece of conversations she recorded on the subway, has moved to gallery director Kevin Curran’s living room on Wyckoff Avenue.

“You go through a rigmarole to get in, but it’s going to look a little bit nicer in there,” said Curran. “Initially doing these shows, it was just people I know and immediate friends. This process is about branching from that.”

And at Famous Accountants, the basement of a three-story row building on the border of Brooklyn and Queens, artist Meg Hitchcock has been affixing the walls of the space with a collage using words cut out of an English translation of the Koran’s book of revelations.
“We’re probably going to get a few letters about that,” said Famous Accountants founder Kevin Regan.

Bushwick Beat Nite is at various locations on Feb. 18, 6–10 pm. For info, visit

Photo: Storefront manager Kate Watkins shows off "One Chapter in the Book" by Lauren Demitzio. Photo by Stefano Giovannini


Home on the range

By Meredith Deliso

This exhibit puts the art in artifacts.

“Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains,” opening this Friday at the Brooklyn Museum, celebrates Native American culture and tradition through century-old clothing, weaponry, artwork, and, of course, the housing that were once called “teepees.”

“It was really important to tell the story about its history over time, that the tipi is still very much an active part of the Plains culture today, and the context in which it’s used,” said Nancy Rosoff, who co-curated the exhibition with Susan Kennedy Zeller. “But we’re still an art museum, so we take an aesthetic approach to showing the beauty of these objects, and we let the objects speak for themselves.”

With the tipi as your guide, the museum gives you the full Plains experience — there’s sections on tipi life, tipi construction and history, pre-reservation life, women and the tipi, and, the piece de resistance, a 27-foot-tall canvas tipi commissioned by the museum and constructed and painted by members of the Blackfeet tribe that visitors can enter (pictured).

“We wanted people to be able to experience what it’s like to enter a tipi, what the canvas looks like, and how it’s set up,” said Rosoff.

The museum also commissioned a second tipi made of buffalo hide, and has a Southern Cheyenne tipi from the turn of the 20th century on loan.

The rest of the exhibition offers plenty of gems, including intricately beaded dresses, moccasins, and dolls, feathered headdresses and intact tomahawks from the late 1880s, as well as contemporary art from Native American artists.

“It was important to demonstrate the continuity of artistic traditions and ongoing ingenuity of Plains existence,” said Rosoff.

With nearly 150 items, this is the largest exhibition of its kind outside of museums strictly devoted to Native American culture, said Kennedy Zeller, which is a real treat for those of us west of the Mississippi.

“In artwork, aesthetic and lifestyle, we thought, how can Brooklyn learn about these people?” said Kennedy Zeller. “Not everyone can get to the Great Plains. This is a way to experience it.”

“Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains” at the Brooklyn Museum [200 Eastern Pkwy. at Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights, (718) 638-5000], Feb. 18-May 15. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. For info, visit

Photo by Blackfeet tipi by Stefano Giovannini.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

All in the 'Family'

By Meredith Deliso

Magical may not be the first word that pops to mind when thinking of Bushwick, but coming up in the neighborhood nearly 10 years ago, it was for Akron/Family.

“We were just doing music all the time,” said Miles Seaton, bass player of the experimental indie-rock band. “There was a feeling of infinite potentiality.”

Since then, the band’s made good on that feeling, releasing four albums since its 2005 self-titled debut. Each has consistently pushed and experimented with the band’s own sound and voice, though none as self-consciously as its fifth album, “S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT,” which finds the trio looking back almost nostalgically on its beginnings (the album title is even a reference to the band’s self-titled debut).

“Sometimes I forget how much Brooklyn really has to do with who we are as a group, and who I am as a musician. We were literally trying to revisit that in a very clear way,” said Seaton, who even penned the song “Fuji II (Single Pane)” to tell the story of that time.

In the past year, most of the core trio has defected to Portland, Oregon — Seaton still represents with a studio in Bushwick — so when the band plays the Knitting Factory on Thursday, it’ll be like a big homecoming.

“We’re going to treat it like the big hometown show,” said Seaton. “There’s going to be a lot of energy being pushed around. We’re very excited.”

Akron/Family at the Knitting Factory [361 Metropolitan Ave. near Havemayer Street in Williamsburg, (347) 529-6696], Feb. 17 at 8:30 pm. Tickets $15. For info, visit


Monday, February 14, 2011

BAM brings in the 'Grass and Ass' with Cheech, Chong and Porky's

By Meredith Deliso

Nobody does lowbrow better than the highbrow folks at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

This week, as part of the suitably named “Grass and Ass” series, BAM will be screening “Cheech and Chong’s Nice Dreams” and “Porky’s.”

The highbrow part? The films are presented in new, 35-milimeter prints.

“We do like to mix the high and low in our programming,” said Jake Perlin, assistant curator of BAM’s cinema series. “This is not the first time we have shown films that are decidedly non-award-winning, and it won’t be the last.”

For now, on Feb. 15, you can enjoy “Nice Dreams” — the “grass” portion of the equation, thanks to copious amounts of ganga — as a pre-Pee-Wee Paul Reubens, a young Sandra Bernhard and even Timothy Leary join that famous stoner duo, who are selling highly potent marijuana from an ice cream truck in this weed-fueled adventure.

The next night, “Porky’s” — the teen raunch comedy that’s spawned countless imitators — brings the “ass,” as the horny players of Angel Beach High’s varsity basketball team enact revenge on the owner of local nudie bar for throwing them out. Don’t miss Kim Cattrall in a sexed-up role that rivals anything she’s done on “Sex and the City.”

“Grass and Ass” at BAM [30 Lafayette Ave. at Ashland Place in Fort Greene, (718) 636-4100], with “Cheech and Chong’s Nice Dreams” screening on Feb. 15 at 6:50 and 9:15 pm and “Porky’s” on Feb. 16 at 6:50 and 9:15 pm. Tickets $12 ($7 for members). For info, visit

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