In ‘Sans Merci,’ a Republican Mom Seeks Answers in a ‘Lesbian Apartment’

imag1ePhoto courtesy Flux Theatre Ensemble Kelly (Rachael Hip-Flores) and Tracy (Alisha

The latest from the Flux Theatre Ensemble is a sensitively written play about dealing with loss and guilt. During their spring break from college, lovers Kelly and Tracy (Alisha Spielmann) travel to Colombia to help the U’wa Indians organize against an American oil company. There, a horrific tragedy befalls the young women.

“Sans Merci,” written by Johnna Adams and masterfully directed by Heather Cohn, begins years later when Tracy’s mom, Elizabeth, seeks out Kelly to find out what happened to her daughter. All the action takes place in Kelly’s apartment in Los Angeles as Elizabeth arrives unannounced from Chicago one rainy evening. Mother and lover skirt the hard questions about what happened in Colombia, until Kelly finally reveals all, with the help of flashbacks. Read more…

Underground Resurfaces to Celebrate ‘Other’ NY Herald Tribune

Scott Lynch David Peel performs, and other scenes from the party.

The invitation called on members of the New York underground press who were still alive or not in jail to “party like it’s 1969,” and that’s what they did on Saturday night at the Yippie Museum Cafe.

At a communal dinner table, about 16 people from the inner circle of the New York Herald Tribune reminisced about a heady time four decades ago when they were revolutionaries publishing articles about Woodstock, the Black Panthers, and the war in Vietnam.

To be clear, this wasn’t the New York Herald Tribune of Tom Wolfe fame — after that one folded in 1966, a group of Stuyvesant High School students appropriated the name and ran with it.

“We stole it,” admitted Toby Mamis, one of the editors who helped shape the paper in the late ’60s.

“I was a high school radical at Stuyvesant and I had a paper called The Flea and a paper at Washington Irving called the Weekly Reader,” Mr. Mamis explained. “We merged them into the Herald Tribune. It was published every month or two. It was about rock and roll, ending the war and ending sexism.” For a while, the publication operated out of a donated storefront at 110 St. Marks Place.
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A Roots Music Label Planted in the East Village and San Francisco

joshrosenthalCourtesy Sound American Josh Rosenthal with his daughter.

When Record Store Day hits the neighborhood tomorrow, Tompkins Square Records will release a handful of gems: “Imaginational Anthem, Vol. 6” documents the origins of American Primitive guitar music; Charlie Poole and the Highlanders’ “The Complete Paramount and Brunswick Recordings, 1929” showcases a rural string band from the late 1920s; Joe Bussard’s “Guitar Rag/Screwdriver Slide” collects tunes played with a screwdriver; and “For the Faithful” is a compilation of some of the trailblazing label’s best and newest tracks.

The eclectic mix reflects the tastes of Josh Rosenthal, who started Tompkins Square Records while living in Alphabet City and kept the countercultural name even after he moved to San Francisco.

Mr. Rosenthal is in his mid-40s but — wry and fit, with a full head of hair — he could pass for someone in his early 30s. He doesn’t look at all like an overburdened record honcho, even though he continues to release a dizzying number of CDs and records that plumb a plethora of genres: folk, jazz, Appalachian, blues, and just about everything else. Among his fans are Nashville producer T. Bone Burnett and Hal Willner, a producer of tribute albums who was the music director of Saturday Night Life from 1980 to 1991.

“When I see a new record out and I see the Tompkins Square Records marker on it, I buy the record,” said Mr. Willner.
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So-Bad-It’s-Good Movie, ‘Showgirls,’ Becomes So-Worse-It’s-Better Musical

If you were offended by Seth MacFarlane’s opening number at the Oscars, you won’t want to touch “Showgirls! The Musical!” with a 10-foot stripper pole. The new farce from the creators of the “Saved by the Bell” musical, is so lewd, crude, and fully nude (from the waist up) that it’s, oh, about five minutes before Nomi Malone, newly arrived in Las Vegas to play the slots and try to make it as a dancer, is warned “Be careful – you’ll lose your shirt!” And then it actually happens – when it’s ripped right off of her.

Nomi is played by the fantastic, spastic April Kidwell, who – just like in “Bayside! The Unmusical” – is a dead ringer for Elizabeth Berkley, the actress who played Nomi in the infamously so-bad-it’s-good movie “Showgirls.” Here she takes Ms. Berkley’s spazzy overacting in that movie even further over the top, eating burgers and fries with such mock savagery that her friend Molly (played by Marcus Desion) asks, “Is food new to you?”

Writer-directors Bob and Tobly McSmith (not their birth names: Tobly, 32, works in book publishing and Bob, 33, works in customer service; they say they’re twice-removed cousins) have a lot of fun amplifying the sexual tension that exists between Nomi and Molly, “the black seamstress,” in the movie. After an introductory makeout sesh, the buxom bosom buddies burst into song: “We are best friends now / We probably should have sex / Because that’s what best friends do / When the writers are men.” (Those are one of the few lines from the song, and every other song, that are tame enough to be quoted here. As for photos of the dances choreographed by Jason Wise and Laura Henning, a note on the program forbids them “out of respect for the actors and their boobies.”) Read more…

The Quotable Larry Rivers: ‘We Want to Go Down On History’

IMG_3531Courtesy Fales Library Graduation photo

Larry Rivers had a way with words. That much was obvious as friends, associates, and academics recalled the artist, poet and musician Friday at Fales Library. Here are just some of the things they remembered him saying:

1. “We want to go down on history.” (David Joel, executive director, executive director of the Larry Rivers Foundation, remembered him saying this about his collaborations with Frank O’Hara.)

2. “Picasso. He tried everything, and it worked.” (Recalled by David Levy, former head of Parsons School of Design and Rivers’ bandmate.)

3. “When you’re 20, you want to be somebody. When you’re 30, you want to do something.” (Recalled by Bill Berkson, New York School poet.)
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Donald Cumming of The Virgins On the EV Scene, Unhappy Neighbors and New Album

The VirginsGuy EppelDonald Cumming (right) with the band.

Despite the name, The Virgins aren’t newcomers to the East Village music scene. In fact, frontman Donald Cumming has lived here, on and off, for 15 years. After arriving in the neighborhood as a teenager, he partied his way into the new millennium as a muse for local renegade photographer Ryan McGinley. (A portrait of Mr. Cumming appeared in McGinley’s 2003 exhibit at the Whitney Museum.) He formed The Virgins in 2006, and his current bandmates — Xan Aird, John Eatherly and Max Kamins — all live and practice in the East Village, which might explain why their sound is reminiscent of the post-punk and new wave that coursed through the neighborhood in the ’80s.

Their sophomore album, “Strike Gently,” was just released by Cult Records, the label of fellow East Villager (and frontman of The Strokes) Julian Casablancas. The Local caught up with Mr. Cumming while he was on the road for their U.S. tour, as the band made its way to New York for an April 1 show at one of his local hangouts, Bowery Ballroom.


Why are you sticking it out in the East Village when so many people are flooding over to Brooklyn?


I feel very at home here. All my friends live here. It’s close to my two favorite vegan restaurants: Angelica Kitchen and Souen. Gem Spa is right on our corner. What’s not to love?
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Barbershop Takes Over As Gallery Moves to St. Marks

sbdbarbersod3Mel BaileyThe new SB D Gallery.

After losing half of its space to a nail salon last year, SB Groupe, the advertising and design firm that runs SB D Gallery, has left its home on East Fourth Street and a barber shop is on the way.

Signs indicate the gallery has moved to 6 St. Marks Place, also the home of St. Marks Karaoke. It’s uncertain whether the new space is fully operational: it looked pretty barren when The Local stopped by (yes, that’s a bar in the photo) and owner Seolbin Park hasn’t responded to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, a sign at 125 East Fourth Street indicates a barbershop is “coming soon.” It’s not the first time the address has housed a barber — that’s exactly what had occupied the gallery space when Ms. Park took it over in 2008.

Day of Discussion Marks N.Y.U.’s Acquisition of Larry Rivers Papers

BGTXSMOCEAE0iaU.jpg_largeCourtesy Fales Library Archivist Nicholas Martin installing “Crossings: Larry Rivers & His Milieu” at Fales Library’s gallery.
IMG_3529Courtesy Fales Library

An East Village poet, musician, and artist considered by many to be a godfather of Pop art has returned to his alma mater: this Friday, N.Y.U.’s Fales Library will host a day-long symposium celebrating its acquisition of the Larry Rivers Papers.

Marvin Taylor, director of Fales Library, said the treasure trove of letters, manuscripts, and video is in keeping with previous additions to the Downtown Collection, including the papers of Richard Hell and the Nightclubbing archive featured weekly on The Local. The collection of over 1,000 media elements — including manuscripts of poems Rivers received from John Ashbery and Kenneth Koch, audio recordings, and reel-to-reel videos that are currently being digitized — was acquired in 2010 and, after extensive processing, will be viewable by appointment starting next week.

Among the correspondence with friends such as Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman, and Maxine Groffsky are letters between Mr. Rivers and the great New York School poet, Frank O’Hara. “They collaborated on artworks, they collaborated on poetry, they were lovers,” said Nicholas Martin, the project archivist. “They had some really tumultuous times personally, and Frank O’Hara was just such a strong personality that his letters are outstanding.” Read more…

Web Show Stars ‘Angels From Heaven Sent to Save the Local Rock Scene’

If you’ve ever walked by Wendigo Productions back when it was on Avenue B or now that it’s on Avenue A (with a new art gallery!) and wondered what the heck the place was all about, well here’s your answer.

The purveyors of local music, clothing and jewelry and promoters of local music, burlesque and comedy shows are featured in the pilot episode of “NYC Rocks,” a web-based reality show that launched a Kickstarter campaign earlier this month. Parts one (above) and two (below) follow the guys at Wendigo as they put on a 50th birthday bash for their tattooed C.E.O., Wendy Scripps, at Irving Plaza.

“We want to bring back the old New York City scene to what it was back in the ’80s and early ’90s — what it used to be, what we all grew up with,” says promoter Ed Farshtey in part one, which features a rockin’ montage of East Village scenes culminating in a symbolic smash cut between CBGBs and the John Varvatos store.
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Drop Into Fuse Gallery Tonight


Don’t feel like staying in tonight? Head out to the opening of “In and Out and In Between,” an exhibition of ceramic-on-wood works by Julia Chiang, a Brooklyn artist who recently held court at the New Museum. You can view some of her brightly colored creations online, or if you prefer to admire them with booze in hand, head over to Fuse Gallery at 93 Second Avenue from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The show will be up through April 17. And by the way, happy 40th birthday to Fuse owner Erik Foss.

Theater for the New City Will Take Seats to the Streets With $1.7M Facelift

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 4.47.53 PMSITE The new design.

An iconic theater is getting a makeover, and it promises to be a showstopper.

“It’s going to make the Theater for the New City well known,” said Crystal Field, the theater’s executive artistic director.

Designed by award-winning architect James Wines (perhaps best known to New Yorkers as the designer of the Shake Shack) the facade will feature theater seats embellished with coats, umbrellas and programs, as if it’s intermission during a show. “We’re very proud that it isn’t one of those glass and steel designs found all over the city,” said Ms. Field, adding that the new look would be “in line with the neighborhood.”

The redesign has been a long time coming: the theater commissioned the design when it first moved to its current location in 1986, but it has languished without funding. Next Tuesday, T.N.C. will formally request financial assistance from the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs.
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Hell of a Time As Punk Pioneer Celebrates New Book

P1020079Anthony Pappalardo Hell-o!

A punk-rock pioneer celebrating the release of his memoir at a place called the Bourgeois Pig?

Last night at the lounge that’s just a short walk from his East Village apartment, Richard Hell greeted guests with a glass of wine in hand, wearing a minimalist sweater-and-jeans combo. His hair was cut short without any grays (no, he doesn’t dye it — or so he said).

“We didn’t do a pre-game meeting, but I hope someone jumps on the bar and starts reading,” he said when asked if he was planning to read from his new book.

As you know by now, “I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp” chronicles Mr. Hell’s years in New York, where, as a reaction to the flower-child aesthetic, he created a persona and style that was the basis for punk. Malcolm McLaren modeled the Sex Pistols after him, dressing them in leather jackets, shredded gear, and safety pins.
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Jump For Joy: Igal Perry’s Dance Center Turns 30

.Mary Reinholz Mr. Perry instructs dancers.

Igal Perry is a thin and restless man who seems to be in perpetual motion. Earlier today, he prepared 10 professional dancers for a sold-out show that will mark the 30th anniversary of his Peridance Capezio Center.

Tomorrow and Sunday, the former auction house on East 13th Street that’s home to the Peridance Contemporary Dance Company as well as Mr. Perry’s dance school will host new works by Dwight Rhoden, Sidra Bell, Enzo Celli and Mr. Perry’s own new piece, “Infinity.” Music by Beethoven and Ohad Naharin, who will revive his 1992 work “Mabul,” will be performed in a brick-lined studio turned black-box theater.
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Wierd Ends and Nothing Changes

photo(93)Daniel Maurer At one of Wierd’s last nights.

It’s the end of an era at a Lower East Side bar – and possibly the beginning of a new one. Tonight, a new weekly replaces the long-running Wierd party.

For 10 years, every time you opened the door to Home Sweet Home on a Wednesday night you were greeted with the smell of artificial smoke. Colored lights poked through the fog, like thousands of e-cigarettes fuming at once.

Started in 2003 at the Southside Lounge in Brooklyn, Wierd was New York’s longest running weekly party for dark music, but it was much more than a place where black-clad 20- and 30-somethings drank and fist pumped to obscure minimal synth music. There was a certain pageantry attached to Wierd balanced with founder Pieter Schoolwerth’s earnestness and enthusiasm. The party might have looked intimidating, but as the drinks flowed even the most stoic goths broke character and smiled. Read more…

Putting New York Artists in a Detroit State of Mind

Matson_PermanentPazMichelle Matson

“That’s a beautiful meat Popsicle,” says Dave Graw of the cooking show “Solid Dudes Kitchen.” As he speaks off-screen, two men from Detroit’s Porktown Sausage squeeze fresh sausage out of a Play-Doh Fun Factory-esque machine. “That was my nickname in high school,” says Derek Swanson, the other “Dude.”

On a recent Sunday night, the unique Detroit-ness of the cooking show delighted nearly 80 people who watched it at the pleasantly divey bar and performance space, Brooklyn Fire Proof, in Bushwick. The event was brought to Brooklyn by Paulina Petkoski and Samantha Banks Schefman, the co-founders of Playground Detroit, a New York-based non-profit that connects Detroit artists to “exposure and collaboration opportunities in New York City.”

New York is no stranger to the Motor City: last April, Detroit artist Robert Sestok installed a sculpture at First Street Green that paid tribute to his time in New York.

That’s exactly the kind of cross-pollination Ms. Petkoski and Ms. Banks, a pair of 26-year-old suburban Detroit ex-pats who now live in Williamsburg and Bushwick, want to encourage.

The two see a similarity between NYC and the D. “Look back at that film ‘Blank City’ and the Lower East Side in the ‘60s,” said Ms. Schefman, “and what a mess it seemed to be and hopeless and extremely dangerous. Part of what rebuilt [the Lower East Side] was the artist communities that decided to stay and find inspiration in the dilapidation and in what other people fear.”
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Young & Sick Does Rag & Bone

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 7.57.58 PMNina Robinson Sick indeed.

Young & Sick – an art, music and fashion project out of L.A. – just finished the above mural on the walls of Rag & Bone’s Nolita outpost.

Each month Rag & Bone features a new mural on the store’s Elizabeth Street facade. The so-called Houston Project (not to be confused with the wall at Bowery and Houston, across the street) was started in 2010 because the fashion brand was “tired of bad graffiti,” according to its blog. They’re open to design submissions and will “provide the paint, if you provide the art.”

Before the latest mural, a sign painted on the space stated, “This is a designated graffiti area,” and opened the wall up to passing street artists. Quite a few people obliged with tags and “throw-ups.” But as of last week, Young & Sick has officially staked claim. Read more…

Have a Seat: A Week-Long Art Salon Is Afoot

DSC00105Courtesy Animus Art Salon

Once a month, an eclectic band of experimental artists assembles for an evening of community, inspiration and presentation. Tonight, the Animamus Art Salon kicks off its most ambitious project yet: a week-long Living Salon at the hybrid bar and art gallery, Culture Fix. Works by fifty artists will line the walls, priced $100 each. Four artists-in-residence will set up makeshift studios, and daily events include a tea salon, movie night, a trendy gem spa, and a poetry “brunch.”

The Salon began in 2011 when a frustrated photographer who goes by her first name, Ventiko, decided to convene other artists struggling with similar issues. Now she is at the heart of a roving support group of sorts. “We never talk about the darkness,” said Ventiko of the self-doubt many artists deal with regarding to their personal artwork. “It’s not considered ‘cool’ to discuss anxiety when there’s so much pretension out there, but our group is all about giving somebody the chance to really express themselves in front of an audience that is encouraging.”

The monthly gatherings are something like master-class critiques. “The idea is to get up there, show your ideas, and people make suggestions and ask questions,” explained Michael Blase, a Lower East Side-based photographer and frequent participant and time-keeper. “Sometimes people collaborate afterwards.”
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It’s Not 1993 On the Bowery

Walking to CBGB on the way to a hardcore matinee in 1997 made me think about the contrast between the relatively safe Giuliani-era Bowery and the sleazy punk scene born there twenty years prior. Even 16 years ago, the thought of Television or Blondie playing the venue seemed distant as I watched a boy answer a bulky flip phone while waiting in line.

Despite constantly being surrounded by the familiar cultures of skateboarding, indie rock, and art, it wasn’t until I entered the lobby of the New Museum to view “NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star” that I felt their impact on downtown culture today and also felt like a relic.

While there is a long and impressive list of artists that contributed to “NYC 1993,” it’s Larry Clark’s mounted skateboard decks, stickers, and stills from his 1995 movie “Kids” that dominate the exhibit. A deck with a hanging Klansman is mounted on the main wall next to one with a naked woman. Next to them is another with a swastika and Star of David with the text, “Never Forget 6,000,000 Dead.”

In 1993, most East Coast skateboarding scenes were tight-knit enclaves for latchkey kids and diehards: skating was far from a sport. “Kids” depicted that culture and the drinking, drugs, and sex that surrounded it in a new light that disturbed many. Because skateboards weren’t lining the shelves of department and sporting goods stores and they were produced in such small runs, their graphics could be as taboo as the designer wanted. Deck design hasn’t become completely tame, but at a time when the industry was so small, there was no filter.
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A Photograph of William S. Burroughs

William S. Burroughs would’ve turned 99 this month. Portraits of him are currently on display, but Tim Milk, who met the literary lion, thinks they’re not to be believed.

BURROUGHS-ROME-Slide1-smTim Milk

Ask anyone. They’ll tell you. The invisible man cannot be photographed. I should have known better than to try.

“El hombre invisible,” as he was known in Tangier, ever dodgy and evasive, was infamous for his vanishing acts. Whenever he did appear in the flesh it was a set-up, an illusion, the oldest trick in the book. As a matter of fact the entire extant history of William S. Burroughs is a complete fabrication. All those blurry shots from the 1950s — so evocative of the times, boasting the faces of America’s greatest writers — that was also a sham. That fellow standing next to the Beat Poets in Paris or New York isn’t the real Burroughs. He is nothing but a stand-in, an extra in a documentary film — dim, jerky, faraway.

“Now you see me, now you don’t,” said the last of the great Midwestern story-tellers. Never mind that his stories were phrases drawn at random, or not so random as he preferred it, indicating broadly that chance as a concept did not exist any more than he did. By shredding his manuscripts and reading across, inventing incantations from the results there before him, he could mesmerize the whole room and disappear unnoticed.


So you were taken in the same as I was. Well, don’t feel too bad about it. Happens to the best of us. The corner of the photograph that escaped everyone’s attention will swallow us all one day, but not “El Hombre Invisible.”

My quest began in February of 1978, on my initial trip to New York. My digs were a cavernous former workhouse directly across from where Burroughs lived at 222 Bowery. One stormy evening found me there all alone, with the sleet coming down thick and relentless. By nightfall the icy slurry was six inches deep: not a night fit for man or beast.

On the windows across the way the blinds were pulled down. Fitful silhouettes of men played across them, producing a startling film-noir effect. They were drinking, smoking, pacing. One of them jabbed at the air with his cigarette, another nursed himself from a rock glass. Sometimes their shadows would whisk away and vanish for a while, only to loom once again into view.

On the turntable I dropped the needle onto a recording of Burroughs reading “The Chief Smiles,” one of a number of readings on vinyl that were at hand at the loft. Dry-as-gin came his voice, floating out into the dank, cold air. Read more…

Nicolina Finishes Third of 13 Massive Portals

portal 3 finishedNicolina Portal 3

Local artist Nicolina Johnson, better known as just Nicolina, revealed the latest in her series of epic “portals” today, and moved quickly to fix one that had been vandalized.

Portal 3, titled “Movement,” was unveiled on the artist’s Facebook page along with a brief description: “The Lord of Death from the Tibetan Wheel of Life pictured at the top of the triangle, represents the Impermanence; change. The Baby Dragon inside the circle represents the movement of time and the three dimensions.” The painting, which is about the size of a doorway, should go up “somewhere around Second Street” in May, said Nicolina, who lives on East Second Street, near Avenue A.

The artist and her partner on the project, Pérola M. Bonfanti, are currently in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where today they planned to start work on Portal 4, titled “The Material World, Nature and Sexuality.” While away they’re organizing a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for Envirotex, a varnish that will prevent vandalization of their art. The campaign’s grand prize? A personalized portal in your home. Read more…