12/09/16 12:06pm
Photo by Stephan Moskovic.

Photo by Stephan Moskovic.

About halfway through the Brooklyn Ballet’s new performance of the Nutcracker at the Brooklyn Museum, three dudes walk on stage looking like they got lost on the way to the subway. They’re wearing fashionable clothes and hoodies instead of tutus and tights, and when the traditional music kicks in, they break into dance moves that are more showtime than pointe shoes.

If other Nutcracker performances are all about the prim, polish and traditionalism of a 120-year old ballet, this one is about cracking open that hard nut (see what I did there) and bringing the show to new audiences. Since this is Brooklyn, that means a diverse cast, a mix of dance styles from around the world, light-up outfits built with the help of a local hacker space and transforming the character Drosselmeyer into a master of the pop-and-lock. This is the first time the Brooklyn Ballet has done a full Nutcracker performance, so artistic director Lynn Parkerson was keen to make the show feel at home on Eastern Parkway.

“Why would I do the traditional Nutcracker? New York City Ballet has that locked up,” she told Brokelyn. “If I’m going to do a Nutcracker, it should reflect the place that we are in. … Already there’s these different characters from different countries. Brooklyn is this incredibly diverse borough, so it just lends itself to that.”

The production is tied to the overall recent emphasis on diversity in the performing arts, from Misty Copeland and Hamilton down to public school programs. And yeah, ballet isn’t cheap, but this one is still relatively affordable: New York City Ballet productions can run you hundreds of dollars. This show’s $90 tickets sold out through Sunday night. But Parkerson’s approach to the show, which emphasizes diversity and accessibility to new audiences who don’t frequent Lincoln Center, could be a big move toward keeping ballet relevant for future generations.

(more…)

12/08/16 3:52pm

The holiday season is evergreen (sry) for themed internet content, but once in a while there’ll be a song that bypasses the usual fast-burning viral fame and moves directly into meme status. Some years back, we Jews got Brandon Harris Walker’s Chinese Food on Christmas and Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song. This past Halloween, we were gifted SNL’s David S. Pumpkins, sure to play on for many Halloweens to come. And this week, a new song surfaced on the internet for the 2016 Christmas season. It’s not the rewrite of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” but it is your feminist holiday anthem of the year.

LIT (Like a Christmas Tree)” is a rap song made in collaboration by Brooklyn-based rap collective Hand Job Academy and Miami-based duo Basside. The title is pretty self-explanatory, and the song does a great job of capturing the millennial sentiment of 2016’s holiday season. We’ll happily spend time with the family for holiday celebrations, so long as we can get lit and avoid having anything to do with organized religion.

“Cover my tats for mass in a dress from ASOS, ’cause Christmas day I get pesos.” (more…)

11/08/16 4:27pm

If you live in New York, chances are you’re enjoying a comfortably blue news feed from your fellow voters this election day. Which is no surprise, since NY has long been about 99 percent for #Her in Five Thirty Eight‘s polls. If you do come across someone today who happened to vote for Trump or a third-party candidate, you should be kind; hard as it may be to “understand,” we’re all human, and we’re all trying. Besides, people already booed Trump at the polls today.

What’s more, we all have something fundamental in common: a love of New York City. And as the new election video above reminds us, a shared love of New York City comes with a shared hatred too, for the real Public Enemy No. 1. It’s not Trump supporters; it’s tourists. (more…)

11/02/16 9:52am
'Basic Witch' is all about the pointy hats and capes we put on just to be ourselves

In ‘Basic Witch,’ you shouldn’t make assumptions about magic. via screenshot

Over the past few years, witches have truly come out of the cauldron. There’s a real coven in Bushwick, for example, and spell-casting workshops are offered right up there with reading series and comedy shows. If you happen to be a witch, no one’s going to burn you at the stake or claim they saw you with the devil. Your plight is totally relatable, after all — we all wish there was a spell that could lower our rent, or that nefarious cat-callers on the street could be silenced with a single flick of our wands. It’s safe to say that in 2016, being a witch has never been more… well, basic.

That’s exactly what Basic Witch, the new web series co-created by a coven (read: creative team) of women in Brooklyn, purports to explore. The series follows a witch named Penelope (played by actor Jessica Frey) along the treadmill of her daily routine, taking us through recognizably New York scenarios with a witchy touch. In just five sweetly condensed episodes of six minutes or less, Penelope contends with catcalling construction workers, an ignorant roommate, a male-dominated workplace and the trials of self-care. She even meets bae along the way.

And through all of this, Penelope never uses her powers. Save for a single “Abracadabra!” as she jimmies open the door of an apartment she’s showing — uttered so nonchalantly that we can’t even tell whether it’s magic or not — Penelope chooses to suffer through the humanity of each situation rather than controlling it with spells. And according to the series writers, Claire Rothrock and Ryann Weir, that’s exactly the point.

“I think we were all really inspired by Master of None and how delicately and humanely it deals with ‘otherness’ and identity politics,” Weir, 28, told Brokelyn. “Our main character is different from a lot of the people she interacts with — she’s a witch. But regardless of what people perceive that to mean, Penelope is navigating what it means to her.” (more…)

10/27/16 3:49pm
The scariest Halloween fright for some people? Being forced to cater a party for a few minutes

Lady Liberty welcomes visitors to Doomocracy at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Photo by Will Star/Shooting Stars Pro.

This year, we’ve learned that the most terrifying thing some people can imagine is a clown slowly stalking them from a forest. For others (me), it’s the thought of this election being stuck in a Twilight Zone-ish scenario that actually doesn’t end of Nov. 8 and carries on forever until the earth is mercifully swallowed by the sun. But for others, the most terrifying thing they will face this Halloween is having a service industry job. [Warning: mild spoilers ahead if you’re planning to see Doomocracy.]

Being forced into a catering gig is one of the standout parts of Pedro Reyes’s Doomocracy installation at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, an immersive horror house that’s part dystopian political satire and part Sleep No More. At one point, you’re shunted from sitting around a table at a mock Halliburton conference table, forced to climb four flights of stairs and immediately handed an apron and serving tray as you’re berated by a catering manager in English and Spanish. Then, you’re shoved through a door into a mock art gallery party, where you’re forced to circulate among socialites, who, by design, treat you like animated furniture. The experiences is disorienting, humbling, slightly annoying — and too much to handle for some guests.

“The first night we ran people through was for patrons. People were really mad,” director Meghan Finn told Brokelyn. “It is strenuous to get all the way up to the top. … There are people who protest, refuse to serve.”

The idea is to flip the script on art patrons and drop their status from attendee to server. But thinking that some people being too freaked out to hold a catering tray for a few minutes is actually scarier than the scene itself. (more…)

10/26/16 4:27pm

Few things could alleviate the stress of the coming election, save for maybe an acupuncture session or a Hallo-weekend binge drink. This video, however, manages to do some meaningful damage control on your politically-wrung psyche, while giving you an entirely different reason to scream.

Written by Bill Kirstein and Ginny Leise (a comedy gem, btw) and starring Leise alongside fellow comedian Jeff Solomon, “Smile” can best be described as an anti-catcalling horror film that somehow doubles as a Hillary campaign ad. The video starts out subtly, opening on a romantic guy getting getting his roses wrapped at the bodega. He walks out, sees a woman walking down the street, and decides to whisper in her ear as she passes him: “Smile.”

What happens next is pretty much indescribable, so make sure you watch this until the very end. We’re not sure how the future POTUS will feel when she sees this, but one thing’s for sure: This video arrived just in time for Hill-aween. (more…)

10/25/16 12:38pm
Twas Instagram that killed the beast. Photo by Tim Donnelly/Brokelyn.

Be your own King Kong in the Alamo Drafthouse lobby. Photo by Tim Donnelly/Brokelyn.

The Alamo Drafthouse officially opens on Thursday, capping off a grueling four-year wait for fans of the Austin chain looking forward to drinking a beer and eating some queso while watching a film. If you pop by this week however, you can catch a few preview movies as the theater works out the kinks before opening day (and with half-price food, too). The Drafthouse, with locations in 22 cities across the country, is certainly the big name in in-theater dining, but it faces a lot of competition in New York. Nitehawk has been operating a smaller theater in Williamsburg for years, and is expanding to a second location in Park Slope next year.

Last night, Alamo founder Tim League led a media tour through the theater, located at the top of the new City Point development in Downtown Brooklyn. Then Sam and I, who both in the spring got the chance to check out an Alamo theater in Austin, popped in to see a film (the perfect misandrist Halloween revenge fantasy Ms. 45) to get the full experience. Here are the 10 best things you’ll find at the new theater — and some things that left us feeling a little bit disappointed. (more…)

10/21/16 11:32pm
The Guy (Ben Sinclair) gives us a peek into his own life for the first time in the finale. Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.

The Guy (Ben Sinclair) gives us a peek into his own life for the first time in the finale. Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.

One of the more commonly held themes (maybe even beliefs) about New York is that it is a pit of loneliness, where you can never feel more isolated while surrounded by millions of people. 30 Rock encapsulated New York’s uncanny ability to grind you down perfectly here. This can feel like a shitty city, especially during any given rush hour on the subway. In High Maintenance’s season finale, however, the final story they have to tell is about the kindness of strangers and acquaintances, that sprouts like weeds (nice) through the cracks in the pavement.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. After a season of stories all across the map, this episode focuses on one of its main, underlying themes. This is a city where people don’t just lock their doors, they often deadbolt and chain them. That can start to feel pretty normal after a while, even if you grew up in a rural area where people don’t carry around house keys because the door is always open, but it has a psychic effect as well: we become closed off, silos living in our own personal narratives. High Maintenance is actively trying to fight this mindset, to open us up to the world around us, to the human stories going on right under our noses. Most of all, it’s trying to open us up to our neighbors, either because they can help us, or we can help them. (more…)

10/14/16 11:32pm
Hannibal Buress (playing himself) and The Guy (Ben Sinclair) go deep on meta this week. Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.

Hannibal Buress (playing himself) and The Guy (Ben Sinclair) go deep on meta this week. Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.

We live in a world where we’re constantly bombarded by media. Our interactions with the world are filtered through our phones, to the point that even television shows conceive of “second screen experiences” for us to look at and interact with when not watching the actual program. Most of us get our news through aggregators of news, repackaging content in smaller, easily digestible, easily forgettable pieces. When a friend tells us they’re “taking a break” from social media and deleting their accounts, it’s pretty commonplace, if maybe seen as a bit extreme. Is there any other technology in our lives that could feel so oppressive, we actually have to physically remove its presence? And yet media is so ubiquitous that we can’t actually escape it, so the result is a strange and tense relationship with media, as this week’s episode, “Selfie” illustrates.

“Selfie” goes heavy on the meta. It’s a creative reflection not just on the characters, but on the series itself. Given how politically fraught this year is, maybe there hasn’t been enough time for High Maintenance to go through the typical cycle of critical acclaim and then suffer the backlash of a thousand think pieces (we hope this is true, at least), but the show’s creators seem happy to confront their own demons before anyone else has a chance. This is a hard look in the mirror that they’re taking, asking themselves if their concept itself is problematic.

The episode doesn’t let us forget that the show traffics in privileged territory, where tales of a drug dealer operating in New York are allowed to be whimsical because the weed dealer, and many of his clients, are white. Whether critics give the show a pass on this or not, creators Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair don’t seem to want it. (more…)

10/12/16 12:44pm
Reductress' new book is finally going to give feminists something to smile about in the media

Reductress’ new guide to feminism is going to be your feminist bible.

Once upon a time, Reductress was just a humble satirical women’s lifestyle magazine with chuckle-worthy (if occasionally pointless) content. Deemed The Onion‘s feminist equivalentReductress could always be counted on for subversive headlines about Sex, Lifestyle and Entertainment that neatly mirrored the absurd demands of being a woman, such as “How to Fix Your Sad with Color Paint on Face” or “The Six Chillest Ways to Ask a Dude to Wear a Condom.” But since its humble beginnings in 2013, Reductress has grown into a haven of dark, topical humor for women and men alike who find the situation for basically anyone who isn’t a straight white dude in this country increasingly harder to tolerate.

When rape allegations against UCB comic Aaron Glaser divided New York’s community into opposing camps of victims’ allies and Glaser apologists, Reductress editors covered the site’s front page with punchy rape-relevant headlines, including “I Anonymously Reported My Rape for the Anonymous Attention.” When an unarmed Terence Crutcher was fatally shot by cops on the highway, the team worked quickly to publish “Black Man Arrested for Resisting Murder.”

Wired went so far as to call Reductress “the most brutally truthful comedy site out there.”

But with their latest book, How to Win at Feminism: The Definitive Guide to Having it All — And Then Some! out on Oct. 25, site founders and co-authors Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo are going back the Reductress‘s roots with a feminist bible for the ages. And when we chatted with them, they made it clear they were in it for the laughs as much as for the politics.

“Mostly we wanted to make people laugh,” Newell told us. “But if they learn a thing or two about feminism, that’s cool too.” (more…)