Pound Sign

New York City, pop culture, art and nightlife. Because nobody else is blogging about those things.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Beating the cold night, end-of-January odds

Once again, independent producers beat the January odds this weekend, as the first ever Brooklyn Burlesque Blitz drew capacity crowds on Friday--the coldest night in months--and Saturday to see dozens of the best emcees and performers in town! A lot of hard work by a small cadre of performer/producers paid off in two really entertaining shows that made lots of new fans for everyone. Clams closed out the Friday night show at Southpaw (the only drama for us was a mad dash to the show by cab, thanks to last minute costume issues, complicated at the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge when the late-night film shoot for "I Am Legend" slowed the line of gawking drivers to a crawl), and all in all it was a pretty outstanding and triumphant weekend for all.

Most of all it was a reminder of how much the performing community can accomplish by supporting each other. We are working hard to accomplish the same with What's My Line, tapping into the opportunities to collaborate with other performers and events to boost each others' audience and awareness. Perfect examples; in February one of our sponsors will be Danger Dame, whose founder, the gorgeous and brilliant pin-up/burlesquer/chanteuse Veronica Varlow, will grace our show to display her, ahem, wares during our onstage commercial for her company; and in March Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School will provide free admission passes for our contestants in exchange for some to our show to give away as prizes. Dr. Sketchy's, which I am very proud, in these very pages a year ago, to have predicted would take over the world, has in fact...taken over the world. It's kind of an astonishing example of what a small, independently produced event with a really clever concept can accomplish! Molly Crabapple's little, quirky figure drawing session at the Lucky Cat bar in Williamsburg (where Clams was in fact the model in December) has truly become an international phenomenon, with franchises around the country and literally the world, a book, and loads of fantastic press coverage. All thanks to a fun hook that crosses over the hipster disciplines, and a tireless, smart promoter in Ms. Crabapple. She honestly should be an example to anyone who has wanted to start their own creative project but don't think anybody wants to come to it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The January surprise!

A new lesson learned in "How to be a producer 101": don't assume you know how a show will go until it's over! Prepping for the January installment of What's My Line was a rough road, plagued by scheduling difficulties and most seriously, the last minute loss of our celebrity mystery guest. With frantic last-minute efforts to secure a fill-in underway yesterday, winter finally arrived after weeks of balmy temperatures. Combined with the month's gap since our last show, and January's notorious reputation for small audiences at any show of any kind, we were sure that we'd be presenting this show to an audience of about 5 people, four of them contestants.

But then, four hours before the show, Jo "Boobs" Weldon agreed immediately to fill in as our mystery guest, which is a great example of what a supportive and classy performer--and good friend--she is. (And when she's in the middle of prepping to leave on the Sex Workers Art Tour, 35 cities in 5 weeks!) Then, as the cast sat in the back lounge of the Parkside, running through some practice sessions and the mikes were being set up around us, the bar was steadily filling up with audience members. By the time they took their seats we officially had our best turnout ever, and last night we played the game at our most fun and loose as well, showcasing the growing chemistry between the panelists and a general mood of camaraderie and good humor in the crowd. Talking to audience members afterward, we discovered that word-of-mouth is building and press listings actually work! Never assume, people!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Opening night

For the second year in a row, I've gotten to kick off January with an exhibition opening, and I have to say that's a habit that I could definitely get into. We had a great crowd on Thursday night, the response was terrific and I'm pretty thrilled with how the hard work paid off. Now the next step: get the show written about, and get it seen by everybody who needs to see it....

But it's nice to bask a little in the light first. It was a fabulous night, after all the meeting and greeting and seeing my friends who made the trip to Bed-Stuy on my behalf, the crowd dissipated and we headed back to Manhattan, stopped at Marion's for late dinner and cocktails; really not a bad way to start the year at all.

Ok, back to work!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Perhaps they should just put a roof over all of it and call it the Soho Experience.

On today's Curbed, some enlightening response to their ongoing coverage of the closing of Soho eatery Jerry's, to make room for a Michael Kors, from a realtor involved with the deal. A nice synopsis of the attitude that has made 95% of Soho a luxury mall hell not worth ever setting foot in.

Jerry's is a cute place that's been there since 1987. I think fondly of going there for department meeting lunches when I interned at the New Museum and Exit Art at their old Broadway locations. What a shock that neither of those cultural institutions are still in Soho.


Opening on Thursday: The View From Here

I do want to pass on to my 5 or so loyal readers and anyone else who has accidentally ended up on this blog that you are all cordially invited to the opening of my new curatorial venture, this Thursday January 11th from 6:00-8:00 PM, at the Skylight Gallery in the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Center. Easy to get to, you can find directions on their website.

It's called The View From Here, and I'm really proud of the lineup of terrific artists:
Alfonso Cantu
Ian Cooper
Margarida Correia
Aisha Cousins
Richard Eagan
Tahir Hemphill
Jodie Vicenta Jacobson
Felicia Megginson
Adia Millett
Erika Somogyi
Eugenie Tung
Jonna Twigg

There's something for everyone: photography, painting, sculpture, video...and if you can't join us for the opening celebration I hope you'll check out the show sometime, I'd love to hear what you thought of it. It's open through March 3.

We're wrapping up the installation tomorrow, and then it's just breathing a big sigh of relief, and going to the party! Oh, and wrap up What's My Line for next week! Yikes.

Oh, and lovely spring we're having.

Things discovered on Friday night:
1. When you meet some of your wife's former work friends for an impromptu drink after work, you will leave the bar at midnight, having had 5 beers and 3 shots for dinner. This is not the kind of night one can plan.
2. A bar with skeeball makes lots of money by offering any patron who rolls a 300 score their photo on the wall and a free drink.
3. Rolling a 330 in skeeball while drinking at said bar, resulting in having a polaroid of you put up and a free shot, will result in a sense of accomplishment and heartfelt congratulations from your fellow patrons that far outweighs the actual level of the accomplishment. You will also want to come back to that bar every week.

Things discovered on Saturday afternoon:
1. When you borrow a van from the New York Horticultural Society to pick up thousands of dollars worth of artwork around the city and deliver it to a gallery in Bed Stuy, confirm whether or not it will already be full of sharp gardening tools and bags of mulch. Borrow it either way, because you need a van and it's incredibly generous of them to let you use it-just make sure you brought a tarp.
2. When you pick up a nine foot-long sculpture in said van and have to drive from Bushwick to Bed Stuy with it sticking out of the back and the rear door tied half shut, it will be extremely nerve-wracking. But it will be worth it because the piece fucking rocks and ties the whole show together.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Not since I first saw the kittens sing Destiny's Child

At the end of every year, spending the holiday week with the in-laws and my family in Ohio always puts some perspective on life. When you're in your rental car and you make that first stop for gas and coffee in rural Pennsylvania, and the parking lot is full of pickup trucks and zaftig folks in sweatpants, you really feel that transition. And then on your car's satellite radio (pretty cool!) your wife finds the "classic alternative" station, and it plays Squeeze and the Pixies and the blurbs between songs say things like, "the stuff you listened to when you were supposed to be in computer lab!" and you laugh and really dig it, and then you realize that you have your own oldies station, and you want to cry a little bit. But, as always it was a week full of lots of fun family madness (first chance to see Marine brother-in-law home safe from Iraq, thank God) cheap Columbus vintage stores and bars with 23 ounce beers for 3 bucks, along with the blessing/curse of no Internet connection (yay, no obligation to check email! Oh my God, I've got to check email.), and meals made of piles of meat, with a side of meat (so delicious, and there's that familiar sense of euphoria...oh, but now I'm lethargic and vaguely sad). Transitioning back to New York is tough! After a week of nothing but eating with breaks for drinking, you'll still stop on the way home for dinner at the Cracker Barrel, where the coffee comes with a side of gravy, and you get the sense that if they sold bottled water, it would be corn flavored (now with more niblets!). But, as much as I love going back to visit the big O, the best part is getting home to NYC.

So, here it is, the busiest year of my life is over, and of course 2007 promises to be even busier! I don't make resolutions, but I am committing fully to continuing what we've started and keep building projects that take full advantage of New York's unique cultural environment. My friend Lauren Cornell (herself a multiple threat curator-writer-Director of Rhizome.org) coined one of my favorite terms with what she calls the "Hipster Disciplines." The Hipster Disciplines overlap here more than anywhere else and that's how to break out of a niche in New York: make something that crosses those lines and brings all the hipsters together!

There were too many highlights this year for any kind of summing up here. So, I'm limiting myself to one moment: the most awesome thing in 2006 .