Saturday, October 30, 2010

Union Square L Train Platform Dance Party!

Happy Halloweeeeeeeeen.

Waiting for the L train last night at Union Square, I stood back to watch and capture the evolution of a mini-dance party, with blaring horns, mimes and other assorted Friday night revelers in various degrees of costume. This was all well before midnight, mind you. More pictures and video below.


(The band, Moon Hooch, has a single, Take the L Train, that you can download for free)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bike Basket Find: NYC 70's Flash Map

The other day I rode my bike into Manhattan to go to Yoga to the People. Located on St. Mark's Place in the East Village, it's a relatively quick bike ride for me from Williamsburg; and Yoga to the People is a donation-based studio that accepts any amount you wish to pay for the class, if any. (Yes, I paid; it is well worth it!) The typical class runs an hour long and you feel the workout. Nothing like a bike ride to wind down after some serious yoga stretches...

So I am generally unconcerned about my bike; as long as it's locked up, it's safe enough, though the deteriorating state of my bike seat seems to encourage people to mess with it more these days. And this time, returning to my bike after yoga, which was locked up on 3rd Ave by the Stomp theater, I found that my basket was overflowing with books. Okay, garbage in my bike basket I've seen, but books? What was going on?

A closer look revealed that they were all maps, from all over the world. My automatic response was to be annoyed that someone saw my bike basket as a place to discard their unwanted maps, but a closer look revealed that the maps were actually intriguing. I decided to keep only one: a New York in Flash Maps book from the 70's. Hopefully someone else picked up the other discarded treasures... Here are some pictures of the fantastically dated book. Note that it was only 98¢!

(Above: How many of these shops still exist? Note some of the classics, Like Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Ave and Tiffany's)

Interesting, there was the West Side, and Lower West Side, all above Chelsea. And so continues the constant evolution of NYC.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dram: Cocktails in S. Williamsburg

Another swanky bar in my part of Brooklyn! Only a few blocks from me, Dram is a stunning mellow bar in Williamsburg featuring premium top-notch cocktails and an unobstructed view of the street.

The place is rustic chic, with the solid wood paneling of the bar, tables and bathroom nicely complemented by the exposed brick of the outer wall.

At 177 S. 4th St, the bar is almost hidden; well, it's visible, but with no name on announcing its identity on the outside, it's one of those places you don't really feel truly comfortable entering until you know about it. Consider yourself informed.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Week/end Re-Cap: Art & Music Galore

First things first. There is a reason why I don't generally like going to swanky, pretentious clubs like Marquee: with $15 drinks, an odd mixed crowd, and a lackluster vibe, I didn't stick around for long. Oh well, you can't blame a girl for occasionally falling prey to the initial appeal .... that all-too-quickly faded.

So I decided to call it an early night yesterday. But before that, I had the fantastic opportunity to see a truly strong music set at Bruar Falls in Williamsburg. As part of CMJ, there was a free, all-day show at Bruar Falls, all bands promoted by KXSC Radio, Los Angeles. The band I went to see at 6:00 pm, Free Moral Agents, had a really perfectly appealing blend of angst, funk, and psychedelic. Quite a sound. With keyboardist Isaiah "Ikey" Owens from The Mars Volta, the band very adeptly mingles hip-hop, r&b and experiemntal stylings to create an addictive, well, psychedelic sound.

After that, I went with my friend to Taco Chulo, a really hip little Tex-Mex restaurant on Grand St. in Williamsburg, where I enjoyed tortilla soup, along with a large helping of chips and guacamole. Yum. If only I hadn't left the neighborhood for Manhattan last night, the evening probably would have gained rather than lost momentum.

And, speaking of staying around Williamsburg, here are some snapshots of my figure drawing sketches from this past Wednesday at 3rd Ward's Drink n' Draw.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Music, Meetings, Parties

Just a regular week in NYC.

This last Wednesday, I finally made it to Drink n' Draw at 3rd Ward. Seriously, an amazing deal: $10 when you come with a friend (otherwise $15), for two and a half hours of figure model drawing, with a lovely figure model and unlimited beer. I'll have to take pictures of some of my sketches and post them here. This may just have to become a weekly activity for me, too! What's great about the event is that it attracts artists of all levels, so there's no need to feel intimidated or inadequate: it's just a space to unwind and indulge in some creativity.

Thursday, last night, I went out... only pictures I managed on getting:

(me, above, not sure of the why of either of these pictures... made sense at the time!)

And tonight, I am going to check out some CMJ goodness at Bruar Falls in Williamsburg and then head to Manhattan to the classy, chic Marquee (not usually my scene, but it is a beautifully swank place to enjoy) for a Meet Up group, a MEGA Multi-group Fall party.

Hello, weekend!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

IAMSOUND Showcase at Santos Last Night

Ok, so I saw a total of 4 bands play at Santos last night. My friend and I, not realizing that MEN would not play until about 1:00 am, arrived around 9:00 pm. And were pleasantly surprised by the first two bands we saw: Superhumanoids and Kisses. Both electro-indie bands from L.A., they were each mesmerizing and artsy in their own ways.

The next two bands, Restless People and Salem, left something to be desired, the former being thumping jam-rock noise and the latter sounding like progressive goth. But the finale and headliner, MEN, made it worth sticking around. New York Times featured a review of the CMJ IAMSOUND showcase, "At Santos, an Oddly Juxtaposed Showcase". So true.

And some pictures of MEN:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Men (with JD Samson of Le Tigre) Tonight! CMJ Show

So I am seeing my first CMJ show of this season tonight. Men, with JD Samson of Le Tigre, will be playing at Santos Party House, and tickets are only $12! (And it includes a 6-month subscription to New York Magazine, not so shabby a perk.)

Men will be playing as part of the IAMSOUND Showcase, an indie label that should be delivering some excellent acts tonight. Tickets can be purchased online or at Other Music.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reflecting on NYC vs. Hometown, Pittsburgh

So I went back to Pittsburgh this last weekend for an old friend's wedding. The wedding, between Rhonda Taylor and Patty Taylor (née Whitaker), was not only the wedding of a friend I have known since the third grade, but also the first same-sex ceremony I have attended.

(Rhonda Taylor, left, and Patty Taylor, right. Congrats to the brides!)

While I was not a bridesmaid, I did have the honor of doing a reading, "Union" by Robert Fulghum. (The last lyrics were changed to just say "wife", clearly!) And, after the very touching ceremony, it was on to a delicious and debaucherous reception.

(Rhonda Taylor, whom I've known since 3rd grade, left, and myself, right)

Not one to spend much time in Pittsburgh since I left for college after high school, I have to say that I always find myself a bit nostalgic and enamored with the city when I visit, even if also slightly out of place and not entirely at home. During this particular visit, at Rhonda's wedding, I also ran into old childhood and high school friends I had not seen in well over 10 years, one of whom I was pleased to learn is even living in New York.

And this instant camaraderie with old familiar faces, as well as with many new friends and acquaintances I met during the wedding weekend, is only one of many aspects that endears Pittsburgh to me.

The spectacular foliage, especially in is autumn splendor, the overall cleanliness and quaintness of the city, the laidback, friendly vibe, and of course that sense of history and easy familiarity with the city that I have, all appeal to me. And so Pittsburgh will always have a special place in my heart, clichéd as that sounds.

The irony is that some of what makes Pittsburgh endearing also makes it off-putting to me. Even airline staff at the Pittsburgh International Airport were wearing Steelers jerseys. Such hometown sports pride is endearing, yes, but is not exactly how I roll (sorry, I'm not a hater, just not a sports enthusiast!). And when we landed in NYC, as passengers gathered around the doorway of the plane to collect tagged luggage, thereby blocking the exit of passengers behind them, the girl in front of me aptly remarked to her boyfriend, after loudly announcing, "Excuse me!" to the gathering crowd, "How Midwestern."

And, like this girl, I find that I too straddle the line between Pittsburgh and NYC, between hometown, small-town friendliness and lackadaisical lifestyle and large, metropolitan "center of the universe" New York attitude.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Time to Draw: Drink 'n Draw at 3rd Ward Tonight!

After my whirlwind Columbus Day weekend of seeing lots of art and dancing the night away at Bowie Ball, I am eager for a more mellow, relaxing sort of activity. Which is why 3rd Ward's weekly Wednesday Drink 'n Draw is so appealing. At only $10 a head (with a friend) for two and a half hours of drawing space, with a figure model and beer provided, it seems like a steal to me. And the perfect opportunity for a little inebriated drawing marathon.

Cheers to that!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Re:Form School Exhibit: Recap and Picures

The Re:Form School exhibit and call to action this weekend was truly eye-opening and both inspiring and deflating. The exhibit, which took place in an old elementary school in SoHo, featured the work of several famous artists and included a total of over 150 artists from across the country.

The mission of Re:Form school, taken from the website, is as follows:

"We believe that ALL AMERICANS should have EQUAL ACCESS to a HIGH QUALITY EDUCATION, with no exceptions.

Throughout history artists have lent their creative expression to ideas and issues of culture & politics, combining innovation with art’s greatest strength — its ability to transcend boundaries and make an impact, while not relying solely on language. RE:FORM SCHOOL gathers together a diverse array of hundreds of the nation’s most talented visual artists under one roof to celebrate that role and to send a loud message that the time has come to fix our ailing public school system.

RE:FORM SCHOOL is a high profile group art exhibition, event series and public awareness campaign, taking place in New York City. Thousands of artists, parents, community leaders, educators and grass roots organizers are coming together in a vibrant and creative space in order to shine a light on what is working, explore the potential of what might be and celebrate the role imagination, creativity and innovation will play in the process."

And, true to is political theme, Re:Form school had a private party benefit Friday night, with tickets at $100 a head, all proceeds going to NYC Charter schools.

As I mentioned, Re:Form school was not only filled with positive and creative art, but included many pieces as well that criticized and shed light on many of the problems in American education. This included some pretty disturbing information, such as the fact that corporal punishment is still legal in 20 states and statistics that no state has an average high school graduation rate higher than 83.6%. This disturbing, provocative data was coupled with very stark and creative images, and hopefully will provide some fodder for change!

Some of the inspiring art from the show:

(Large installation, reads "inspire," made entirely out of thumbtacks! Artist also created small animation with it.)

(cellist recording above and live cellist below, with projected water vibrations from music)
("It Matters to Me", above)

(courtyard of elementary school, with walls screenprinted, above)
("wish come true" figurines, free at exhibit)

Bowie Ball Extravaganza!

Bowie Ball this year, at Santos Party House, was an extravaganza of glitter, glamor, disco, dancing and performances. I believe we left around 3 am, and then only because my friends were ready to call it a night; otherwise, I would have stayed till closing and then some...

I got fairly dressed up, recycling the very form-fitting gold spandex dress I had bought and worn for my Medusa outfit last Halloween. While I made sure to apply eyeliner and glitter prior to going out, the makeup artists at Bowie Ball, all Bumble and bumble stylists, did a much more spectacular job than I could have pulled off myself.

Some pictures of the night:

(above, me posing with my very talented and glam-tastic make-up artist!)

(Gotta appreciate the humor of Santos' signs!)