Tag Archives: francophilia

July 10-13 Pretty and French

It is so lovely outside today that I almost don’t want to be indoors writing to you, however, I would be a terrible blogger if I failed to inform you of some of the wonderful events the Big Apple has to offer this weekend.

First, an addition to tonight’s lineup; a new exhibit is opening at Mixed Greens– X 10th Anniversary Exhibition:

With X, we present a large selection of the many amazing artists with whom we’ve been privileged to work. Their techniques and subject matter vary widely, but all of these artists captured our attention either by their extraordinary use of materials or through their deep examination and investigation of their subjects. There is no theme uniting the 84 participating artists—the only common denominator is Mixed Greens. Some might call it narcissistic. Others nostalgic. We consider it to be a celebration of some of the best artists working today.

I’ve heard tell that the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck will also be there!

If you’ve never been to a Contra Dance event you should experience the madness Friday night at the LGBT Community Center; this event will have the added twist of being “gender neutral.” There are a lot of twists in contra already, that one makes this a true ‘only-in-New-York’ event.

Contra Dancers

Contra Dancers

If you’re looking for a nice way to enjoy the evening outdoors you can enjoy a childhood favorite on the shore of the Hudson River; The Wizard of Oz will be screening on Pier 46!

Inside, and a bit further north, The Raspberry Brothers will be tearing apart the 80s classic Pretty in Pink! This is a must see if you’re going to attend the Pretty in Pink Prom Saturday night (keep reading for details). I guarantee their antics will give you excellent cocktail conversation.


So, The Prom, well, Pretty in Pink Prom Night is happening Saturday night at The Bell House (where else?). It’s going to be an epic nostalgia trip complete with a “totally radical giant 80s prom backdrop,” in front of which you can have your prom pictures professionally shot, a “50 foot balloon drop” AND “bathrooms stocked with Aqua Net for heavy primping.” Not to mention one of the best 80s cover bands available- The Engagements! Get out there and have the prom you always dreamed of!

Also on Saturday it’s Bronx Gridlock vs. Brooklyn Bombshells at the Hunter College Sportsplex! If you haven’t made it out to a Gotham Girls Roller Derby bout this year, this is a great time to go!

roller derby

ALSO on Saturday Rooftop Films is screening a movie at The Old American Can Factory- 45365 won Best Documentary at SXSW 2009:

45365 captures the plain pathos of a single place like few other films ever do. It is amusing and informative, exciting and realistic, tragic and eternal. But as I said, this synopsis is inadequate. To get at these emotions and ideas, you could live all your life in Sidney, Ohio, or you could see this film.

The Oberlin band Like Bells will perform before the screening; my little sister is currently an Oberlin student so all things Oberlin have a special place in my heart.

Of course I’m also a tremendous francophile so I may have to celebrate Bastille Day on Saturday. There are a number of celebrations in the city; my pick is the Petanque Tournament at Cornichon. Petanque is sort of like frenchified bocce ball; there will also be lots of wine and good cheer!

Libertie! Egalitie! Fraternitie!

Libertie! Egalitie! Fraternitie!

On Sunday you can continue to embrace your inner francophile at Le Poisson Rouge, where they will be screening one of the most influential French films of the French New Wave- The 400 Blows. François Truffaut‘s masterpiece gives you an intimate look into the Paris of the 1950s.

Also on Sunday you can swing under the stars with George Gee’s Big Band at Moondance on Pier 54!

Monday is the start of the Metropolitan Opera’s Summer Series; Paulo Szot, Lisette Oropesa, Alek Shrader, and Vlad Iftinca will be performing on Central Park’s Summerstage. If you can’t get any of the free tickets for this event check out the performances in the outer boroughs throughout the week.

Also on Monday, Wilco will be performing in Keyspan Park; Yo La Tengo will open. Check out this video:

Have a marvelous weekend and stay tuned for additions!

June 2-8 Additions

In addition to the extensive list of events I’ve already given you for the next 7 days, there are a number of events that have recently come to my attention.

Tonight, and several other nights this week, Art Brut is playing at Mercury Lounge. Gothamist calls them “wildly entertaining,” which is probably why every show is currently listed as sold out. If you’re in the mood for a high energy concert exert your cunning and find a way through the door!

If you need to save up your cunning for other shenanigans you can still buy tickets for an awesome show at Le Poisson Rouge on Tuesday- Emilie Simon will satisfy your francophile needs and get you dancing into the bargain!

Emilie Simon

Emilie Simon

On Wednesday Clubbed Thumb will be celebrating the start of Summerworks 2009 with a grand (free!) party entitled O*H*I*O! featuring Susan Bernfield, David Herskovits, Melanie Joseph, Robert Lyons, Kristin Marting.

Clubbed Thumb commissions, develops and produces funny, strange, and provocative new plays by living American writers. Since its founding in 1996, the company has earned 4 OBIES and presented plays in every form of development, including over 70 full productions. Clubbed Thumb is an incubator for artists and their work, staging plays to critical acclaim while supporting an ever-growing creative community.

If you can’t make the shindig on Wednesday be sure to check out the first Summerworks play- punkplay by Gregory Moss, running from June 7-13 at the Ohio Theatre.

On Friday there’s an even more questionable production opening at P.S.122; the Amoralists Theater Company is presenting The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side. The plot summary is as follows:

An extraordinary gathering of young idealists live as a modern day urban tribe above a vegan restaurant in NYC. Billy, Dawn, Dear and Wyatt are an extended sexual family battling their fears and addictions in order to live their utopian dream.

I believe that is the most hipster thing I have heard all week! It sounds absurd and marvelous- enjoy!


For more cutting edge hipster fun this weekend take a stroll through Bushwick; the Bushwick Open Studios event gives you access to hundreds of artists’ garrets as well as a chance to experience all sorts of performance art! Some of the hot spots are venues I’ve mentioned in the past, such as 3rd Ward and Goodbye Blue Monday. There will be art for sale and munchies up for grabs, (both details conveniently marked on the maps), so you can add some pizazz to your apartment and be a freegan for the day!

On Friday Black Taxi is playing at the Bowery Ballroom. G and I have recently become huge fans of theirs (I’ve mentioned them before) and if you just see one concert this week this would be my pick.

Black Taxi

Black Taxi

On Monday, while I am recovering from the trauma of the LSAT, you can enjoy Mike Daisey’s newest bit of madness- Mysteries of the Unexplained- BACON! at Joe’s Pub:

Mike Daisey returns to Joe’s Pub with a one-night orgy of all things bacon: from sizzling fat to swine flu, from baco-bits to Hasids to Charlotte’s. In one delicious hour we’ll explore bacon in all its filthy, gorgeous deliciousness.

Have a great week/weekend and I will be back and better than ever as of next Tuesday!

Nous Non Plus

Apparently yesterday was a very stressful start of the week for a number of you and I had a harder time than I expected finding someone to come along to Mercury with me. In the end I recruited my friend A with the added complication that she has a friend visiting who she wanted to bring along. So I go down to Mercury Lounge to find out if I can get a third ticket. The glum troll at the door tells me there are no “tickets” and I cannot have my hand stamped and return; they have a “no reentry policy.” She says there “might be” tickets still available at 10:00 when Nous Non Plus comes on. I pout. I cajole. I reason with the troll, all to no avail.

A+1 arrives and we wander around the LES to find a place to eat. We end up at ‘inoteca, which is owned by the same people who own ‘ino in the W.Village. I’m going to state for the record that I vastly prefer ‘ino; it’s a better value, more creative, and has more of a neighborhood feel.

At any rate, we munched on over-priced salads and panini and then marched back to Mercury to confront the troll once again. Now she tells me she won’t know if she has an extra ticket “until the last band [Nous Non Plus] hits the stage, which of course totally blows because it means I can’t see any of the opening acts and have an hour to kill. I do a bit more pouting and then the three of us walk down to Pianos to have a few drinks.

Pianos has very positive connotations for me; I saw some of my first concerts in NYC there and I feel like the atmosphere is generally cheerful.  We were approached by this very random group of guys, one of whom decided to tell each of us what profession we were suited for. I am apparently destined to be a professional badass. If anyone has advice on how to pursue that goal do let me know!

Finally we end up being given the privelege of purchasing a third ticket and find our way into the back of Mercury to see Nous Non Plus. Luckily they were really awesome and totally worth the nonsense, though I will probably avoid that venue in the future. They were bouncy and faux french and one of the girls was wearing a bodysuit and the other had on a top hat and opera gloves and I was altogether charmed. Here are two (sadly not very clear) pictures:

Nous Non Plus

Nous Non Plus


Nous Non Plus

Nous Non Plus

Here’s the music video for their first single from their new album, Menagerie:

I think it’s awesome that Americans are singing in French, such a cool parallel with all the French musicians singing in English. I’ll be keeping tabs on them!


I just got home, having called it a night a bit early given my growing sleep deficit. Friday night was fantastic! K and I  had a reservation at Satsko but when we got there we discovered (through some surreptitious glancing around the streamers/curtains) that it was frighteningly empty. No decent place should be that empty on a Friday night so we wandered down to Spitzers instead. Of course we had to wait for 45 minutes but we munched on truffle mac and cheese and drank Tanqueray and tonic and all was well. K and I both have a real thing for truffles. I kind of want them on everything… they’re actually a good reason to sell your soul to corporate America- more money means more truffles (and shoes). After a vastly satisfying meal we walked down the street to The Slipper Room to enjoy the aforementioned Hot Box Burlesque. We were pleased to partake of acts featuring Bunny Love, Bambi, Peekaboo Pointe, Queen Laquifa and Tigger.  This was an excellent representation of burlesque. I was very pleased because K and I had three burlesque virgins with us. There was comedy, there were absurd costumes, there were dollar bills all over and there was a drag queen. Perhaps the most exciting performer ‘sang’ the national anthem with her thighs. Yes. She put the microphone between her thighs and scrunched them to play the national anthem.

Singing with her thighs

Singing with her thighs

It was  pretty incredible and I will admit to being jealous of this talent. In fact by the end of most burlesque shows I tend to  feel compelled to perform burlesque. It’s not that I would feel uncomfortable with the nudity, what holds me back is really my lack of dancing skills and comic timing. Sigh…

Friday night finished up with my first bar brawl. This must have been in the wee hours of Saturday morning, there had been a good deal of drinking, dancing and burlesque and some short dweeby looking guy pushed K and she pushed back and then he really pushed her hard, almost knocking her off her pretty little heels. Then I was trying to beat him up and his tall, comparatively sober, friend was holding me back and it all could have gotten quite ugly (trust you me I would have won) but luckily the sober friend dragged the dweeb outside and K and I were able to feel triumphant.

This morning I had to be up at an ungodly hour to meet my grandmother for brunch at Petite Abeille. It’s a marvelous little Belgian place near Union Sq. but I’ll admit brioche french toast was not quite what I wanted first thing this morning. My grandmother is a fantastic woman and a true New Yorker. We go to the opera and the ballet together and visit all the museums and do a great deal of shopping and brunching. She spoils me dreadfully. This morning she bought me lots of pretty things. She has stellar taste and I would be at a loss without her. We trooped up to Lincoln Center in time for our matinée at The New York City Ballet. This afternoon they did a program of three short ballets:

Stravinsky Violin Concerto

Stravinsky Violin Concerto/Choreography by Balanchine

Stravinsky Violin Concerto/Choreography by Balanchine

La Valse; my grandmother paticularly enjoyed this one because she’s been watching Philip Neal perform since the start of his career and she still thinks he’s “very handsome.”

La Valse/Ravel and Balanchine

La Valse/Ravel and Balanchine

And finally, West Side Story, which was interesting in this context because only some scenes were performed and the singing wasn’t always coming from the dancer playing the character, and the dancing is a bit different because the dancers are trained in ballet. On the whole it was not my favorite rendition of West Side Story but I did love their version of the dance where Tony and Maria meet. I was just bummed that they didn’t have the ‘I just met a girl named Maria’ song; I used to sing that in the shower all the time when I was about 12.

West Side Story/Bernstein and Robbins

West Side Story/Bernstein and Robbins

According to Playbill the revival of West Side Story will be opening on Broadway quite soon. Apparently the Puerto Rican characters will be speaking/singing in Spanish.

The production “will introduce the unprecedented element of selectively weaving Spanish throughout both the book and songs,” according to a July 16 announcement.

Laurents, who earned solid reviews (and a 2008 Tony nomination) for staging the current Broadway run of Gypsy, stated, “This show will be radically different from any other production of West Side Story ever done. The musical theatre and cultural conventions of 1957 made it next to impossible for the characters to have authenticity. Every member of both gangs was always a potential killer even then. Now they actually will be. Only Tony and Maria try to live in a different world…”

West Side Story has music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Laurents. The staging will retain the original choreography of late director Jerome Robbins, who conceived the project by using Romeo and Juliet as inspiration. As previously announced, the Robbins choreography will be restaged by Tony Award nominee Joey McKneely (The Boy from Oz, The Life).

I’m not sure how I feel about this innovation but I’m curious enough that I will probably try to find cheap tickets, or at the very least monitor the reviews. We really haven’t had much beyond revivals and Disney shows on Bway lately, which seems really unfortunate since I’m sure there are a lot of creative new projects that just aren’t getting funding. If ‘Cars’ becomes a Broadway musical I may have to set up a picket line.

Tonight I went with a few friends to see all the Oscar nominated short films at the IFC Center. First were the live action shorts:

  • Auf Der Strecke (On The Line): A bit disturbing, rather unsatisfactory ending, very little smiling.
  • Manon on the Asphalt: I am too much of a francophile to not have LOVED this. It’s tragic but so sensuous; I love the close-ups of her hair, the leaves above her, the dreamy way her thoughts travel amongst the people who are important to her. It’s a splendid death scene.
  • New Boy: There are Irish accents and a very charming teacher and a whole group of bright eyed children who learn to be friends with the new boy; I hope this one wins simply because it’s optimistic.
  • The Pig: This is sort of a comedy about two men who are in the hospital and a painting of a pig.
  • Spielzeugland (Toyland): I cried hysterically through most of this. It’s about the Holocaust. There are too many movies out right now about the Holocaust.

After a brief interlude, and the purchasing of popcorn, we sat through the animated shorts:

  • La Maison en Petits Cubes: We travel through the past by going further down in a house that has been built up over time as water levels have risen (environmental msg? not sure).
  • Lavatory/Love story: Too cute. Way too cute.
  • Oktopodi: Two octopuses are in love and rescue one another from various dangerous situations.
  • Presto: If you’ve seen WallE you’ve seen this one- magician vs. his rabbit.
  • This Way Up: Hard to describe, involves undertakers, clowns in hell and some other trippy trippy stuff.

There were definitely others that we saw today that weren’t actually nominated but I’ll admit that they’ve all blended a bit in my mind at this point. I have been told that all of the nominated shorts can be seen through iTunes and I highly recommend that you check them out at some point before the Oscars; it’s very fun to know what’s happening in those categories.

Tomorrow I am going to try to make myself get some work done but I will post about any particularly exciting events happening this week!