Merry Mayhem

Nightly, Salerno Service Station, 451 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn, 718. 384.4880

BAM's first alternative is an avant-Christmas, with seasonal films (not all of them comic) by experimental filmmakers ranging from George Kuchar to Stan Brakhage, plus the verité bonus of D.A. Pennebaker's Jingle Bells starring Robert Kennedy and Sammy Davis Jr. The second alternative is Christmas in July: Preston Sturges's 1941 satire, about a guy from the neighborhood who thinks he's won a radio contest, is a gift any time of the year. It's paired with an MGM promo in which mogul Louis B. Mayer and various stars help little Jackie Cooper trim his tree. J. HOBERMAN

Three Cheers: The Pontani Sisters melt the ice at Kate Wollman Rink in Prospect Park.
photo: Kate Lacey
Three Cheers: The Pontani Sisters melt the ice at Kate Wollman Rink in Prospect Park.


Holiday Preview

"A Brief but Startling History of the Chocolate Santa Claus" by Robert Sietsema

"Season's Spirits: Bars With Cheer"

"No-Sweat Gift Guide"

"Merry Mayem: Holiday Events"

December 22 and 23, BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, 718.636.4100

Christmas Eve is the biggest, banging-est night of the year for Jewish singles, with as many as 15 matzo ball parties being thrown in the city. (Matzo ball parties are Jewish camps all grown up, still schmaltzy and crackling with humor but a whole lot hornier.) For the past eight years, has been the grandest one of all, packing 'em in 3,000 strong, including Jewish jet-setters from London, Toronto, and Sydney. This year, they'll break in Chelsea's newest venue, Avalon, the new incarnation of the famed Limelight, oddly enough in an old Episcopal church. From there, hop on a free limo shuttle service to the Park. If that ain't your shtick, head to Serena, where Scott Eisenberg of—who's thrown matzo ball events since '96 at spots like Om and Roxy—hosts a more "upscale" and "catered" soiree with free drinks early on and 600 to 700 people expected throughout the night. For another option, try the Society of Young Jewish Professionals' event at the Culture Club. Contact JESSE GOLDSTEIN

December 24, Avalon, 47 West 20th Street, 212.807.7780
The Park, 118 Tenth Avenue, 212.352.3313
Serena, 222 West 23rd Street, 212.255.4646
Culture Club, 179 Varick Street, 212.243.1999

Sure, you could celebrate the birth of history's most famous Jew, but maybe you're among those of us who hold another Jew closer to our hearts: Woody Allen. While others sip sickly sweet eggnog and entertain fantasies of peace on earth, nourish your soul with three generous servings of bittersweet realism, as Makor offers back-to-back-to-back screenings of the classic Allen films Love and Death, Annie Hall, and Sleeper. If you prefer lo mein and egg rolls to cheese logs and gingerbread men, fear not: Quarts of Chinese food will not be confiscated at the door. And if you can't decide, just ask:

What would Alvy Singer do? KEN SWITZER
December 25, Makor, 35 West 67th Street, 212.601.1000

Manhattan’s shop windows are well-known for carefully branded displays of Christmas cheer, strategic product placement, and cross-media synergy. Looking to gawk at something a little less corporate? Take the N or another line down to Bensonhurst and just stroll. On the side streets off of Kings Highway, you’ll see light displays unrivaled in complexity and kitsch. From Santa’s sleigh vaulting over a full set of light-up choirboys, to massive nativity scenes under a netting of a thousand lights, the Christmas displays of this Brooklyn neighborhood have it all. Subtle competition between neighbors keeps Con Ed happy; if you get lost leaving the subway, just follow the eerie glow. (Take the N to the Kings Highway stop and head in any direction you like.) NICK MAMATAS

Aiding and Abetting

Let's face it. When it comes to volunteering, not everybody's cut out for ladling soup to the indigent. But that doesn't mean there aren't better things to do with your valuable free time than watch Single in the Hamptons marathons. There are plenty of worthwhile causes in desperate need of squeamish urbanites, and not one involves vegetable barley broth. Through youth programs like "Arts in the Shelters," "Media Works," and "The Hip-Hop Project," Art Start sparks creativity and channels passions into professions. Expert volunteers in the fields of arts, advertising, television, film, music, fashion, and more teach workshops, do one-on-one mentoring, and donate materials and services. If your political sensibilities lean toward the radical, then ABC No Rio is for you. This artist-activist collective is hooked up with such volunteer projects as "Books Through Bars," "Food Not Bombs," and "The Lower East Side Biography Project." Check out their website for details: For instance, "Books Through Bars" delivers paperbacks to prisons but doesn't accept "mass-market fiction." For a more mundane but no less rewarding experience, try arts organizations like Creative Time or the Public Theater. Both have ongoing needs for clerical volunteers. If you don't have a day or two a week to spare, but rather an hour here and an hour there, then try websites like and, which feature plenty of organizations with interesting one-off needs—perfect for commitment-fearing New Yorkers. And if you're still not convinced of the inner joy that comes only with volunteering, try donating your pooch. Fido probably isn't nearly as weary of hospitals and nursing homes as you are. For certification details, contact the good folks at the Delta Society (,a href=""> You'll be glad you did. CARLA SPARTOS

Art Start, 285 Broadway, suite 620, 800.224.0990,
ABC No Rio, 156 Rivington Street, 212.254.3697,
Creative Time, 307 Seventh Avenue, suite 1904, 212.206.6674,
Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, 212.539.8621,

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