By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Tired of wrapping presents with free copies of the Voice? Just in time for the holidays, the AsiaStore at the Asia Society explores and demonstrates the many ways of gift giving throughout Asia. Remember, presentation is everything. December 1, 8, 15, and 22 at 11, Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue, at 70th Street, 517-ASIA. (KIM)
'Z100'S Jingle Ball 2001'
Pink's hair gel!
O-Town's so bootleg!
Oh what fun,
It is to ride, Enrique Iglesiasoh!
Alicia's just a kid!
Oh what fun,
It is to ride, that hottie Craig David!
December 13 at 7, Madison Square Garden, 32nd Street and Seventh Avenue, 465-MSG1. (SPARTOS)
Soundclash in Lincoln Center! In one corner, Kurt Masur, with his New York Philharmonic posse backing him up, trots out Tchaikovsky's inevitable "Nutcracker Suite." In the other, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra crew counter each movement with Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's 1960 arrangement of same. The wild card is Marsalis's own dual (or dueling) orchestra composition, "All Rise"you decide which side gets the handicap there. December 13, 14, 15, and 19, Avery Fisher Hall, Broadway and West 65th Street, 721-6500. (WOLK)
'The Royal Tenenbaums'
Wes Anderson's Rushmore follow-up celebrates that holiday hallmark, forced togetherness (as well as Shawn's New Yorker and The Magnificent Ambersons). Salinger's Wise Children grown up all wrong, the Tenenbaum kids (track-suited Ben Stiller, raccoon-eyed Gwyneth Paltrow, bearded Luke Wilson in tennis short-shorts) all end up under the same roof with their divorced parents (blustery Gene Hackman and blithe Anjelica Huston). Opens December 14. (LIM)
Musician Richard Barone's labor of love has turned into one of the city's best-kept holiday traditions. Well, I'm letting it out! The "Downtown Messiah" is getting bigger and better. According to Barone, it was a difficult task reworking a 200-plus-year-old classical music piece for a modern crowd while paying tribute to the music itself. He decided to let guests interpret within their own musical style. The result is an all-star, multi-genre evening of musical inspiration. Besides a chamber orchestra and a chorus, look for David Johansen (wild, crazy, yet reverent), Jane Siberry, and Terre Roche ("You know she can sing, but man can she play guitar!"). Other surprise performers always seem to turn up, but don't expect Handel; artistic differences or death? I often wonder. December 14 and 15 at 7:30 and 10:30, Bottom Line, 15 West 4th Street, 502-3471. (ABER)
I consider Kwanzaa to be the eternally misunderstood holiday. It's not black Christmas or Nubian Hanukkah. It's a period for African American families to break out the straw mat, Kenorah, and corn ears, while focusing on unity, pride, economic solidarity, self-appreciation, and more. The Spirit of Kwanzaa at Victoria Theater (December 21 at 7, 22 at 2 and 5, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, 1 Centre Street, Newark, New Jersey, 888-GO-NJPAC) leads the season with live domno drums and performances by Dinizulu African Dancers, Drummers, and Singers. If this isn't your thing, join in on some collective enrichment at Kwanzaa Fest(December 14 through 16, Jacob Javits Center, 39th Street and Eleventh Avenue, 718-585-3530)an annual expo that adheres to the shopaholic in us all. For visual stimulation, African photographer Seydou Keta shows black-and-white portraits of people from Bamako, Mali, at Sean Kelly (528 West 29th Street, 239-1181, opens December 8). Celebrate the principle of creativity by checking out the artist's muses. (FRANKLIN)
'2001 Unsilent Night (The Christmas Piece)'
Yes, Grandma does have quite an affinity for Jerry Garcia and the Dead, but honestly, she didn't put any psychotropics in your eggnog. The eerie bell-sounds, dreamy melodies, and haunting (yet soothing) drones are actually the electronic "carolers" of Phil Kline's Christmas concert procession. Experimental composer Kline gathers droves of friends and volunteers to march along carrying boom boxes with pre-recorded segments of minimalist-influenced, avant-garde Christmas music that Kline has composed. The result is a block-long (maybe longer; last year he had 50 boom boxes and over 200 people) procession of boom-box carolersquite mystifying. E-mail Phil and get involved: firstname.lastname@example.org. December 15 at 7, begins at the Arch in Washington Square Park, Fifth Avenue and Waverly Street, www.mindspring.com/~boombox. (BOSLER)
Hookin' Up for the Holidays
Single for the holidays, and looking for something more than a cheap, drunken, stumble-home-from- the-club-with-a-stranger one-night stand? (Can't say I understand that line of thinking, but I'll humor you.) One place you might find that special someone to take home to your parents is at the 92nd Street Y (1395 Lexington Avenue, 415-5500; December 15 at 7:30). Their Saturday Night Singlespeaks offers the unattached an opportunity to meet and discuss dating issues over refreshments in a "relaxed, friendly environment." If you consider yourself more of a "rogue" single-in-pursuit, and Christmas day finds you flying solo, stop by Cinema Classics (332 East 11th Street, 677-5368; December 25), where you can pretend to read a book in their dimly lit, tr*s bohemian caf*, while scoping out the room for other lonely hearts. And if you prefer to make your move in the dark, where your face is as hard to make out as the next person, slip into their screening room ($7), where they'll be showing Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Aliens; outdated special effects; desperate, frightened people alone in the darkyou don't have to be Santa Claus to deliver the goods on this one. (SWITZER)