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Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Arts Venue Conjuring Avenue A in the ’80s

    GlassLands Gallery

    The reunion of a 1970s San Francisco–based drag troupe, a 1930s Berlin-style cabaret, music acts ranging from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Matisyahu, a soul-dance competition, and a lecture by conceptual-art philosopher Henry Flynt are just the beginning at GlassLands Gallery. The tchotchke-filled, mural-lined industrial space on a no-man’s-land block in Williamsburg is something right out of the East Village’s… More >>
  • Best Octogenarian Impresario on the Bowery

    Tony Amato

    Perhaps it’s a testament to the timelessness of classical music, or the fact that no one’s ever used the expression “Sex, drugs, and opera,” but there’s something to be said for the fact that CBGB is now a John Varvatos boutique while its neighbor, the venerable Amato Opera—which has made its home on the Bowery since 1961—is still going strong… More >>
  • Best MixTape Exchange

    Sound Fix's Fix Tape Exchange

    While we don’t think anyone is lamenting the demise of the cassette, it’s a little sad to think that no one will agonize over making a mixtape for that BFF or new crush ever again. But—hang on—the art form isn’t dead just yet, thanks to Steven Reker, founder of the Fix Tape Exchange, a monthly gathering at the indie-record store… More >>
  • Best Museum to See on Your Lunch Break

    New Museum

    It was no accident that the inaugural show at the New Museum’s new location on the Bowery was called “unmonumental.” That goes for the building (a silvery, offset, seven-story pile), its ambitious but unfussy curators, and, most of all, the institution’s pleasingly ramshackle aura. Leaving the monumentalism to Museum Mile, the New Museum turns a comparatively small amount of exhibition… More >>
  • Best Underground Movement

    The Roundabout and the Atlantic

    Hey, you’ve apparently got to hide your love away, which might explain the new trend toward theaters building little spaces deep in the basement. These spaces, at the Roundabout and the Atlantic, provide a subterranean environment for plays that delighted the literary department but couldn’t sell out the main stage. We’re told that even Upper West Side doyenne Lincoln Center… More >>
  • Best Local Arts Organization

    Creative Time

    They’ve been doing it forever now, but Creative Time is still the best arts organization in town. A 2001 rousting from their longtime spot in the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage has proved to be something of a blessing for the group: As nomads, they’ve colonized everything from Times Square to MOMA to the Battery Maritime Building. The Creative Time signature is… More >>
  • Best Fall from Local Rap Grace

    The Diplomats

    Those who spent this summer listening to New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” crank out of car stereos from Harlem to Brooklyn could be excused for feeling a bit sad. It wasn’t so long ago that we had our own indigenous ways of making SUVs (er, hybrids) thump—years after D-Block and Wu-Tang and Roc-a-Fella fell, New York still had… More >>
  • High Places

    Best Overhyped Brooklyn Music Duo

    High Places

    Brooklyn art-rockers High Places took until September to release a full-length album, but they’ve been the most beloved band in the city since sometime last year. This status, in New York, is often pretty much the equivalent to Sports Illustrated’s cover jinx—adulation, followed by a blown-out knee or addiction to painkillers. So imagine the collective surprise when, over the summer,… More >>
  • Best Stage Technology

    3LD Art and Technology's Eyeliner

    In a recent radio interview, cosmetics expert Bobbi Brown, asked for her one piece of makeup advice, answered: “Eyeliner—never leave home without eyeliner.” Lately, performance groups are taking that counsel to heart. 3LD Art and Technology center has laid in a lovely little toy called Eyeliner, which allows artists to have incredibly lifelike three-dimensional projections appear onstage. Theatermakers are still… More >>
  • Best New Gallery District

    The East Village and the Lower East Side

    The New Museum is the most visible—but far from the only—art space to recently revisit the East Village and the Lower East Side. As Chelsea rents continue to go up (and certain Chelsea artists continue to ossify), a splinter group of galleries is rediscovering the joys of the east side of town. Grizzled anchor tenants ABC No Rio and Henry… More >>
  • Best Reason to Go Down a Bushwick Side Street at Night

    Bushwick Starr

    To keep from being harassed, one friend of ours walks home from the Jefferson L-train stop in Bushwick, talking to herself like she was batshit crazy. Another friend who lives off DeKalb carries nunchucks. Such is the price of living in one of Brooklyn’s most volatile neighborhoods. Still, Sue Kessler and Noel Joseph Allain opened a black-box theater there in… More >>
  • Most Dastardly Local Book Press

    Felony & Mayhem

    Softly—the game is afoot! Amid the scores of small specialty presses in New York, which might we choose to recognize? Elementary, my dear Watson: The honor this year goes to Felony & Mayhem, a pint-size house headed by Maggie Topkis, co-owner of the Partners in Crime bookshop. In its three years of existence, the press has published some 70 books—usually… More >>
  • Best Move from Living Room to Legitimate Theater

    Dixon Place

    They’ve teased and they’ve taunted, but on October 20, the new Dixon Place will finally open. Downtown’s most supportive works-in-progress space has inhabited something like a living room for the past 22 years, with mismatched couches, dubious air conditioning, and lots of heart. The new space, funded in part by the coins and bills dropped into a hard hat at… More >>
  • Best Theater Test Site

    Laboratories are typically sites for exploration and discovery—and retching, if it’s the day that fetal-pig dissection is assigned. Soho Rep’s Writer/Director Lab certainly fits that definition, minus the dry heaves. For the last 10 years, it has lent its scientific method to writers like Anne Washburn, Adam Bock, Eisa Davis, and directors such as Trip Cullman, Davis McCallum, and Lear… More >>
  • Best Space Uniting Hippies and Dance Artists

    Center for Performance Research

    As if they weren’t already one and the same, contemporary dancers/choreographers and crunchy-culture lovers have a 4,000-square-foot space to be thankful for. Housed on the ground floor of Williamsburg’s LEED-certified Greenbelt—Brooklyn’s first “green” residential building—the Center for Performance Research gives emerging and established artists a place to flex their long, lean legs without leaving so much as a carbon footprint.… More >>
  • Rowdiest Old People

    Museum of Modern Art

    Feel that Buster Keaton film is just too silent? Want a little real-life combative action to go with your Iraq documentary? Then hobble over to the Museum of Modern Art, where the classic films shown at the Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters and the Celeste Bartos Theater attract crotchety old people who feistily compete with the screenings. These goofy geezers… More >>
  • Best (and Least Likely) New Noisy Venue

    Central Branch of the Brooklyn Library

    Typically, a librarian’s response to clamor is a vigorous “Shhh!,” but now those bespectacled professionals might respond by clapping, cheering, and perhaps even waving a cigarette lighter. The Central Branch of the Brooklyn Library has taken to sponsoring a series of free outdoor concerts on its newly refurbished stone steps. The first incarnation featured a clever mix of artists like… More >>
  • Best Music Producer

    Dave Sitek

    The news that Hollywood queen Scarlett Johansson would record an entire album of Tom Waits covers triggered much teeth-gnashing and garment-rending among both Waits diehards and those generally averse to movie stars masquerading as rock stars. This would not go well. Parsing the result (Anywhere I Lay My Head), we cannot in good conscience recommend Ms. Johansson as a singer… More >>
  • Best Brooklyn Firebrand

    Santogold

    The eclectic style . . . the fashionista street cred . . . the flair for marketing . . . the Diplo mixtape . . . you can’t rightly blame those who tag Santogold as the second coming of M.I.A.: sonically adventurous, sociologically fascinating, critically beloved. But both on record (the full-length Santogold emerged in the spring) and onstage (her… More >>
  • Best Album, Vituperative Backlash Be Damned

    Vampire Weekend

    As a new band, would you rather that people hate to love you or love to hate you? Why not both? Vampire Weekend dropped from the sky last year with an infectious, jittery, joyously awkward merger of Ivy League frathouse pop and jaunty African guitar-god rhythm, a mixture they ill-advisedly labeled “Upper West Side Soweto.” They sing (yelp, really) about… More >>
  • Wordless Music Series

    Best Moderately Snooty Concert Series

    Wordless Music Series

    On a Wednesday night in January, the filled-to-bursting crowd gathered to absorb some challenging orchestral works at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle was split neatly down the middle. Half were suave, elegant folks typically into the “new music” thing; the other half were scruffy, painstakingly casually dressed cool kids not used to sitting down—let alone in pews—at their… More >>
  • Best Disco Revival

    Hercules and Love Affair

    The deep-seated bias against disco that many of us who were unlucky enough to have missed disco’s heyday carry around is often difficult to overcome. But a new breed of NYC dance-music artists, ranging from Escort to Baby Oliver to DFA-label heavyweights like Shit Robot and Still Going, are toying with house and disco in ways tremendously palatable to those… More >>
  • Best Showcase of Trans Talent This Year

    Justin Bond's Lustre

    Tranny performance isn’t all Eddie Murphy in a fat-suit. Why, it can be a fat tranny in his birthday suit doing a reverse strip (Glenn Marla), a troupe of thin and muscular contemporary dancers in tight dresses (the Pixie Harlots), or a beguiling New York City schoolteacher on piano (Our Lady J)—all part of Justin Bond’s Lustre. This was definitely… More >>
  • Best Way to Learn Wig-and-Eyelash Care for Your Burgeoning Burlesque Career

    Jo Weldon’s School of Burlesque

    Whether you want to make a few extra bucks or just want to take your clothes off in front of strangers for the fun of it (we won’t judge either way), a burlesque career might be a good option. Sure, it may look easy—but have you ever actually tried to jump up and down without a bra on in the… More >>
  • Best Way to Compensate for the Lack of Roots-Music Radio

    Down Home Radio Show

    Everyone complains about how the local airwaves suck, but instead of bitching, you should go online to find a Gotham-based program that actually has good roots music—the podcast-formatted Down Home Radio Show, hosted by guitarist Eli Smith since its start in 2006. DHR provides folk-music programs with in-depth interviews and is supported by Smith, who swallows the cost of the… More >>
  • Best Off-Off-Off-Broadway Musical Theater

    Rev. Jen’s Really Cool Neighborhood

    Even after her punk-band days and her years of “anti-slam” variety performances, Jen Miller has kept a busy schedule. When she’s not doing her cable-access show, or working out of her home as the curator of a troll-doll museum, or writing columns for artnet.com, or lecturing at USC about performance art, you might find her starring in her self-proclaimed “live-action… More >>
  • Best Old-Timey Venue

    Jalopy

    With the shrinking number of Gotham music venues—who’re mostly worried about surviving—it’s getting harder to find interesting places. That’s why it’s a relief to come across a locale like the Jalopy Theatre and School of Music. Situated within the confines of the Columbia Street Waterfront District of Brooklyn, Jalopy has not only hosted shows by Marc Ribot, Sam Shepard, and… More >>
  • Best Online DJ

    David Byrne

    It’s not like he has a lot of free time, what with his playable-building exhibit, Imelda Marcos theater piece, record label, book of sketches, articles about the music industry, a recent album with Brian Eno, and a fall tour. Still, as a certified music nut, Gothamite David Byrne can’t help himself from indulging in yet another project—though he doesn’t DJ… More >>
  • Best Video Artist Based in a Bar

    Donald O’Finn

    If you happen to wander into a cozy bar in Prospect Heights called Freddie’s, one of the first things you’ll notice are the small screens along the wall displaying a series of bizarre images. Even if you venture into the adjacent music area, you’re still greeted by these extended video collages. By then, you’ve found the work of Donald O’Finn.… More >>
  • Best Art Gallery Benefiting People with Disabilities

    United Cerebral Palsy of New York City

    On the outskirts of Gramercy Park, directly across town from the many Chelsea art galleries, is a small but elegant window display of stirring abstract and landscape paintings—the works of participants in the programs of United Cerebral Palsy of New York City. For the last 15 years, UCP has sponsored tri-annual shows featuring dozens of these artists. You wouldn’t know… More >>
  • Best Way to Look Fashionable and Recycle at the Same Time

    AuH2O Boutique

    What’s an environmental seamstress? Ask Kate Goldwater, who’s done all the sewing work at her AuH2O Boutique for the last year and a half. With her trusty sewing machines, Goldwater is able to transform “old T-shirts, slips, ties, vintage dresses, costumes, curtains, and other unwanted fabric” into new skirts, dresses, and tops, as well as men’s wear, with good prices… More >>
  • Best Non-Hetero Monthly Music Series

    Queers, Beers & Rears

    Starting as a 2007 DJ party in Williamsburg, Queers, Beers & Rears expanded into a band showcase at the Cake Shop for all shades of homocore, dykecore, and queer punk; participants have included members of the Lunachiks, L7, Bratmobile, and Pansy Division, among others. Though they don’t exclusively book gay bands, they do insist that groups be at least… More >>
  • Best Band-Initiated Package Shows that Avoid the Usual Promoter Crap

    Zombieville

    Last year, when Adam Schatz was booking his experimental pop group War Canoes at the Knitting Factory, he came up with an interesting idea: Instead of having everyone stream in and out for their favorite band and get bored between sets, why not provide some entertainment throughout? Thus, Zombieville began. The usual format is three bands with a house band… More >>
  • Best Art Organization Centered Around Recycling

    Analogous Projects

    Throughout its five-year history, the not-for-profit group Analogous Projects has instituted some fascinating activities, corraled by executive director Marie Evelyn. For “Scrapcycle,” AP asked competing participants to craft instruments from discarded materials—the winner made a wind instrument from tissues, cardboard tubing, and a plastic bag. For “NoPurchaseIsTheNecessary,” a prize hunt was initiated when 100 buttons were scattered around a five-block… More >>
  • Best Girl-on-Girl Theatrical Action

    Room for Cream

    Admittedly, Room for Cream is a much more decorous title than one might find at an adult-entertainment emporium. But don’t be fooled: With this weekly serial, Dyke Squad—an offshoot of Theater of a Two-Headed Calf—has launched a raunchy event showcasing many of downtown’s most nubile cuties. Set in Western Massachusetts, this “live lesbian soap opera” features femmes, butches, and the… More >>
  • Best Way to Ring in the New Year with a Rock Legend

    Patti Smith Group’s Bowery Ballroom NYE Shows

    Instead of freezing your ass off in Times Square, a saner annual tradition has sprung up to ring in the new year—the Patti Smith Group’s Bowery Ballroom NYE Shows, a two- or three-night tradition since 1998. Most any show with Smith and her band—including longtime collaborators guitarist Lenny Kaye and drummer Jay Dee Daughtery—is an event, but what makes these… More >>
  • Best Oldies Not By Oldies

    The Fabulous Soul Shakers

    The Fabulous Soul Shakers proudly proclaim that “this ain’t no oldies group,” and, 30 seconds into their finger-popping take on the likes of “I Want a Love I Can See” or the aching joy of “I Found a Love,” you’ll agree. These five young men, three of them out of Harlem and all dressed to the nines, present the sounds… More >>
  • Best Jazz DJ’s

    Phil Schaap

    Now that The New Yorker (with David Remnick, no less, doing the honors) has paid lengthy homage to Phil Schaap, WKCR’s jazz disc jockey/historian extraordinaire, we’d like to slip in a few words to herald the other DJs that make this bottom-of-the-FM-dial radio station such a rare and continuous treat. Don’t get us wrong: Schaap is great—though now that we… More >>
  • Best Country Radio

    Columbia University’s WKCR

    New York and country music have long been a tough fit; for years, programmers have tried and failed to keep all-country radio stations afloat in New York. But the one station you can count on to play the classics of Merle Haggard, Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest Tubb, George Jones, Porter Wagoner, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton is Columbia University’s WKCR, where… More >>
  • Best Theater Concessions

    Ars Nova

    If a glass of lukewarm wine or a packet of stale Chips Ahoy! is your bag, then you should be utterly satisfied by the concessions available at most of our New York theaters. But Ars Nova satisfies those few disconsolates among us: In addition to reasonably priced cocktails, it features snacks thematically linked with the play on offer. Recently, Pirate’s… More >>
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