Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Young Playwright

    Annie Baker

    Naming someone "Best Young Playwright" is tricky in a city so full of ascribing scribblers. We suspect that the best young playwright in New York never even gets produced—that he or she is a genius that no one understands, and so he or she doesn't get staged. Of the talented under-30s whom we are lucky enough to hear from, though,… More >>
  • Brooklyn Bowl

    Best Newish Concert Venue

    Brooklyn Bowl

    It's a profoundly odd place, Brooklyn Bowl, "posh bowling alley" being on the face of it a bizarre combination of words. And yet the Williamsburg spot is a beguiling mixture of low and slightly higher culture. Throw down on one of their 16 bowling lanes or just gawk at the enormous big-screen TVs looming above them; nonchalantly down a couple… More >>
  • Best International Culture Mash-Up

    Austrian Cultural Forum

    Glance in passing at this high, tapering, steel-and-glass tower in Midtown and you'll think conference rooms, suits, and lobby art. What you wouldn't expect to find is a show like "Under Pain of Death," which, in 2008, presented Manfred Erjautz's life-size electric chair constructed entirely from Legos. The Austrian Cultural Forum offers a full slate of free concerts, readings, and… More >>
  • Best Improbably Enormous Downtown Jazz Festival

    Winter Jazzfest

    It's yet another dismaying frigid January weekend, with no one with an ounce of good sense daring to stray more than 10 feet from the warming light of his or her flat-screen TV, and yet a small pocket of the Village is teeming with enthusiastic live-music fans, shuffling briskly but happily from (le) poisson rouge to Kenny's Castaways to Sullivan… More >>
  • Best Army of Geeks

    Vampire Cowboys

    Remember that kid you were always teasing in high school? That nerd, that spazz, that total and utter dork? Well, he's back. And fully weaponized. A drama group for that persecuted, comics-reading dweeb in us all, Vampire Cowboys has been cutting a swath through downtown for a couple of years now. What their plays lack in character development and philosophical… More >>
  • Best Way to Disseminate Feminist Punk Culture Through a Public Institution

    The Fales Library at NYU's Riot Grrl Collection

    Hate pawing through old magazine bins or scrolling through eBay to find a raw piece of grrl history? One alternative is The Fales Library at NYU's Riot Grrl Collection. Senior archivist Lisa Darms has been poring through boxes of zine "masters" (pre-print mock-ups), correspondences, lyrics, pictures, and videos to catalog everything in an organized fashion. The material has been donated… More >>
  • Best Restored Subway Art

    Masstransiscope

    Riding in the subway usually necessitates avoiding strangers' gazes, but a certain westward interborough journey will give you something else to do. Inside the tunnel of the line going through Fort Greene to the Lower East Side, you'll see a series of 228 painted panels (each 60 inches by 30 inches) known as Masstransiscope. Artist Bill Brand finished this piece… More >>
  • Best Resilient Summer Dance Party

    Sunday Best

    Memorial Day Weekend 2010 was an unequivocal triumph for Sunday Best, the now-four-year-old weekly Sunday-afternoon dance fete then entrenched in BKLYN Yard, a splendid outdoor spot (a taco stand! Kids playing bocce ball in the sandbox! A disco ball looming in the trees!) improbably lodged on the shores of the, uh, Gowanus Canal. German techno giant Michael Mayer was on… More >>
  • Best Unexpected Torch-Song Siren

    Holly Miranda

    Someone should pay Holly Miranda to do a 10-disc box set of incendiary cover songs. The Brooklyn singer-songwriter, best known for her stint with ethereal indie rockers the Jealous Girlfriends, put out a woozy, dizzying, Dave Sitek–produced solo album, The Magician's Private Library, this year, but where she really shines is onstage as an interpreter, her frail, gossamer voice paradoxically… More >>
  • Best Free Live-Music Luncheon

    BAM Rhytm & Blues Festival at MetroTech

    All you folks working within light jogging distance of Downtown Brooklyn have no excuse not to schlep your sandwiches and yogurt cups and what-not to the BAM Rhythm & Blues Festival at MetroTech, an annual summer Thursday-afternoon fete that brings a startling variety of jazz/funk/r&b/blues/etc. big shots—this year's slate featured Tony Allen, Bernie Worrell, Vieux Farka Touré, and Naomi Shelton… More >>
  • Best Cure for Terrible Sight Lines

    The TV above the bar at Cake Shop

    Unless you're seven feet tall, equipped with X-ray vision, or willing to elbow several dozen seedy Lower East Side types in the face in pursuit of a front-row spot, there's no way you'd be able to see anything happening on the so-low-it's-not-even-technically-a-stage stage if not for the TV above the bar at Cake Shop, a vintage black-and-white model offering a… More >>
  • Best Underrated, Overachieving Rapper

    Fat Joe

    He's not so much known for pop megahits ("Lean Back," though), tabloid-supermodel paramours, or Greatest Emcee of All Time countdowns, but Bronx bulldog Fat Joe perseveres. He's a blunt, snarling, volatile, defiantly workmanlike rapper who has held it down for far longer than you've been paying attention—which is your fault, not his. A prominent NYC rap critic recently compiled a… More >>
  • Best Place to Score

    Celebrate Brooklyn!

    Assembling a soundtrack for Brooklyn is easy as pie (or a slice of Junior's marble cheesecake)—all you need is five minutes and an iTunes account. The borough has inspired Steely Dan's "Brooklyn," Louis Prima's "Brooklyn Boogie," Sammy Cahn's "The Brooklyn Bridge," Jay-Z's "Brooklyn Go Hard" and "Brooklyn High" and "Brooklyn's Finest." But for the past several years, the Prospect Park… More >>
  • Best Jazz Drummer

    Tyshawn Sorey

    In February, saxophonist J.D. Allen brought his trio to the Village Vanguard, but J.D. and the other guy might as well not have shown up—they were overpowered, gloriously and quite literally, by drummer Tyshawn Sorey, who bashed away with sticks, brushes, and bare hands like a one-man natural disaster. At one point, a shard of a drumstick shot roughly 10… More >>
  • Best Floating Bluegrass Jam Session

    The Ponkiesburg Pickin' Party

    If you happen to be in Boerum Hill and wander into a small bar at the tail end of the weekend, you might stumble across a hootenanny going on there—a decade-old institution called The Ponkiesburg Pickin' Party, to be exact. PPP bounced around assorted Brooklyn locales before settling at the Kili bar recently. For the five to 10 musicians who… More >>
  • Best Between-Acts Concert Entertainment

    Marty Markowitz

    Wingate Field in Bushwick is the place to be every Monday night during the summer, when the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series brings through a cavalcade of old-school hip-hop, soul, gospel, and r&b stars. (This year featured Parliament/Funkadelic, BeBe & CeCe Winans, and an epic set from Salt-N-Pepa.) The free shows lure in thousands of lawn-chair-toting nostalgia enthusiasts in… More >>
  • Best BBQ-Ready Rock Album

    Fang Island

    That Fang Island, the new self-titled full-length from Brooklyn's finest party-rock band, begins with literal fireworks is almost too easy. But it fits: These guys are absurdly joyous, serving up widescreen triple-guitar jams augmented with giddy keyboards, maniacal drumming, and all manner of whoa-based en masse vocal harmonies, an unholy union of math rock and classic rock that gets your… More >>
  • Best DIY-Music-Scene Pet Cause

    Market Hotel - CLOSED

    Bushwick's own Market Hotel—in its 1.0 iteration, at least—had a good couple years as perhaps the crown jewel in godlike DIY promoter Todd Patrick's ever-widenin better able to weather legal attention." Meetings! Full nonprofit status! Grant proposals! Air-conditioning! Join the revolution at their website, and be a part of revitalizing what will resume being one of the best venues in… More >>
  • Best Hilltop Dance Party

    Soul Summit in Fort Greene Park

    Looking like equal parts Spike Lee music video, rave scene from the The Matrix, and ragtag block party, there's nothing as wonderfully Brooklyn as the Soul Summit in Fort Greene Park. Occurring from 3 to 8 p.m. on Sundays in July and August, it's probably the biggest party in the city that is devoid of corporate sponsorship or cannibalized by… More >>
  • Best Schubert Revival

    Winterreise

    When Franz Schubert died in 1828 at the age of 31, he was not widely known, but he would later be regarded as one of the greats of music's Romantic era. His work will be played this season at posh venues like Carnegie Hall, but the Schubert revival we're most looking forward to will occur more modestly on East 4th… More >>
  • Best Wacky Gatherings

    HiChristina

    "Come play with us!" beckons HiChristina, the whimsical performance-art duo of Fritz Donnelly and Christina Ewald. And indeed, going to a HiChristina gathering, where "the audience is the performance," is not unlike stepping into a child's idea of a party. Take, for instance, their recent event "Bikini Melt With Real Cheddar," in which they invited everyone to wear their bathing… More >>
  • Best Comedian

    Kristen Schaal

    Earlier this year, Kristen Schaal, who is probably best known as the stalker fan Mel on Flight of the Conchords, was invited for the first time to the Late Show With David Letterman, to discuss her small role in Dinner for Schmucks. To say Dave liked her would be an understatement: It was a nonstop gigglefest between the two as… More >>
  • Best Argument for Devised Theater

    The Debate Society

    Resolved: New York is currently enjoying an unprecedented wealth of devised theater as established companies such as the Wooster Group and Mabou Mines give rise to newer collectives: the Builders Association, Elevator Repair Service, the Collapsable Giraffe, Radiohole, etc. In recent years, a fresh round of experimental companies has emerged: Banana Bag & Bodice, Waterwell, Nature Theater of Oklahoma. They're… More >>
  • Best Sketch- Comedy Group

    Murderfist

    To understand how truly filthy and wrong sketch group Murderfist is, all you need to do is look up the YouTube video "Kissing Booth." The sketch goes basically as follows: Two women are in a kissing booth when a man with a butt for a face comes along and promises that if one of the ladies kisses him he will… More >>
  • Best Rock Festival

    All Tomorrow's Parties

    Though we are quite partial to our own Siren Festival on Coney Island and its ebullient combination of rock bands, corn dogs, and gleefully drunken ocean-bobbing, it's still the sordid little sister to All Tomorrow's Parties, the ultimate example of glorious rock-and-roll surrealism. Held at Kutsher's Country Club in Monticello, New York (the same Catskills camp that hosted some other… More >>
  • Charlie Parker Jazz Festival

    Best Summer Jazz Festival

    Charlie Parker Jazz Festival

    This year's summer bop options were more abundant than ever, between Arts for Art's Vision Festival, 92nd Street Y's Jazz in July, and the mammoth new CareFusion spread. Still, it's the free Charlie Parker Jazz Festival that keys us in, so to speak; the annual alfresco weekend, split between Marcus Garvey Park in Central Harlem and Tompkins Square Park in… More >>
  • Best Three-Hour Tour

    Rocks Off Concert Cruises

    We're pretty sure it's been scientifically proven that anything is better on a boat. The Rocks Off Concert Cruises promoters know this and have worked raucously over recent years to bring great rock, Americana, and dance acts onto their pleasantly shoddy yachts for meandering, deafening cruises down the Hudson River. Rock squallers Built to Spill, metallurgists Eyehategod, SoCal pop punks… More >>
  • Best Reopened Music Hall

    Warsaw

    Its re-emergence was all too brief, but for a few shining months this summer, Warsaw at the Polish National Home reopened, and the pierogi never tasted so delicious. The old-world charm of wood paneling and home-cooked, meaty pastries was perfectly balanced in Warsaw's sharp, modern booking; Art Brut, Le Tigre, and more up-and-screeching acts graced the stage once, and, recently,… More >>
  • Best Non-Touristy Jazz Club Remaining in Midtown

    Iguana Restaurant & Lounge

    It's a long road from Swing Street, the legendary stretch of jazz clubs that once occupied 52nd Street in Midtown; now, live jazz venues are scattered mostly around Harlem, the West Village, and the outer boroughs. But holding its own, proudly, is Iguana Restaurant & Lounge, a perfectly satisfying Mexican restaurant upstairs and, inexplicably, a great concert cavern downstairs. Small,… More >>
  • Best Museum Someone Used to Live In

    The Frick

    Henry Frick was a Pittsburgh coke and steel industrialist, as well as an avid art collector, who in 1913 began construction on what would be his $5 million mansion at 70th Street and Fifth Avenue—which he always intended to leave to the public, along with his large art collection. Now the former residence is a small gem of a museum,… More >>
  • Best Pageant

    Mr. Transman

    Downtown denizen Murray Hill has been giving lesbians what they want for a long time now—beyond just hitting on them during his joyfully schlocky stage shows. Hill's annual Miss Lez Pageant has been a highlight on the girl-on-girl calendar for 10 years, but in 2010 he outdid himself by creating the first-ever pageant for a select group of former lesbians—Mr.… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater

    Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre

    Pee-wee's back and all the rage right now, but how many of us who grew up on his Saturday-morning wackiness remember seeing him on the big screen? Fortunately, a drop-dead gorgeous historic movie palace on Journal Square in Jersey City has taken an eclectic approach to programming films. Earlier this year, the Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre revisited the decades, the… More >>
  • Best New Theater District

    Governors Island

    New York's theater districts have always been fluid. Broadway, in the 1870s, was actually located around Union Square. The "downtown" alternative theater that was based in the Village and Soho from the 1960s to the 1990s is now scattered all around New York, chased out by real estate pressures. The passing of a theater district is always cause for mourning,… More >>
  • Best 2010 New York City Rap Anthem

    "Beamer, Benz, or Bentley"

    It's pretty much necessary to preface any statement about New York hip-hop with the caveat that things aren't going so well for the city, rap-wise, and haven't been for some time. The svelte Canadian Drake, the bulbous Floridian Rick Ross, Detroit native Eminem—these are the rappers setting the trends at the moment, leaving New York to its traditionally hardheaded devices.… More >>
  • Best Resurgent Print Medium That Was Thought to Be Dead

    zines

    Who would have thought that of all the useless, paper-based, self-indulgent means of expression that proliferated during the 1990s, it would be zines that survived? In the age of Twitter, Tumblr, e-mail, etc., it seems almost perverse to be photocopying, folding, and stapling communiqués by hand, but that seems to be the point. 2010 has seen a revival of the… More >>
  • Best New York Fashion Blogger

    Elizabeth Spiridakis

    In the mornings, she Tweets her outfits—"garage sale rust orange 1950s men's cardigan, fluoro pink sports bra, dark RLRugby denim bell skirt, easte sale navy 1960s sandals," say—and by the afternoon, Elizabeth Spiridakis is typically on her blog, White Lightning, either in the grips of a new obsession (clogs have been big lately) or an unforgivable fashion affront (on Lady… More >>
  • Best New York Writer Young Enough to Make You Slit Your Wrists

    Téa Obreht

    You will never be Téa Obreht, the youngest member of The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" 2010 class, because Obreht is 25 years old, and you are not. A compact, blond immigrant from the former Yugoslavia by way of Egypt, Obreht went straight from Cornell's MFA program to The New Yorker, which published a chapter from her forthcoming novel, The… More >>
  • Colson Whitehead

    Best Literary Twitter Account

    Colson Whitehead

    Writers tend to use Twitter for self-promotion. Colson Whitehead uses it to express self-loathing. There are his failures as a parent ("The kid, as she repeatedly drives my fist into my face: 'Why are you punching yourself?' Me: 'I want to feel something' "). There are his struggles with depression ("Oh, look: my despair is crowning. So glad I'm here.… More >>
  • Best Sporadically Active Venue Illegally Located in a Former Rap Star's Basement

    Under 100 - CLOSED

    Ah, Under 100, or whatever they're calling it today. The venue, located in the Tribeca basement of former Jay-Z confederate Damon Dash, has been through a lot in the year or so since it first started hosting WTF sets from local indie-rock bands. An exposé printed in these pages enraged a local community board (Dash, too) and got the illegal,… More >>
  • Best Spurious Campaign Against a Brooklyn- Centric Genre (Led by a Brooklyn-Centric Band)

    R.I.P. Brooklyn Lo-Fi

    R.I.P. Brooklyn Lo-Fi is the slogan of Brooklyn's Mr. Dream, a Nirvana-reviving, vitriol-spilling three-piece with a lot of hostility for their neighbors. Brooklyn lo-fi, of course, is the timid, badly recorded stock-in-trade of local zeitgeist labels Underwater Peoples and Captured Tracks, whose bands—led by the tentative garage pop of Beach Fossils, Real Estate, Julian Lynch, et al.—have had 2010 on… More >>
  • Best Reprisal Against a Carpetbagging, Out-of- Town Street Artist

    Shepard Fairey

    It must have seemed like a fairly uncontroversial move when Jeffrey Deitch asked Shepard Fairey to put up a mural on the Houston Street wall formerly graced by Keith Haring and, more recently, the Brazilian street art duo Os Gêmeos. The South Carolina–born Fairey is arguably the most famous street artist in the world (see: his iconic blue-and-red image of… More >>

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