Stuff to Do

Los Sures Screens and Lives, at NYU

Ten summers ago, I taught a six-week summer class at NYU on New York Independent filmmaking. The class was based on my own interests in New York City as an historical center for independent, experimental, and avant-garde filmmaking. This fact was a key factor in my moving here after college.

Looking back, there were three distinct highlights:

  1. We screened the full three-hour, two-screen diptych of Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls.
  2. Nick Zedd shook me down for money, years after I ran the course, because he had learned that I screened his films in this class.
  3. I saw, for the first time, the Diego Echeverria film Los Sures, a 1984 documentary of the then-Puerto Rican enclave of South Williamsburg. The film’s title is Spanish for “the Southsiders” and refers to the residents who dominated the neighborhood in the 1980s.

Over the years, Los Sures has reemerged through the efforts of Brooklyn-based UnionDocs. UnionDocs remixed the original film and created an immersive documentary project called Living Los Sures. Both films screened at the New York Film Festival in 2014, thirty years after the Echeverria film premiered there.

The original film is remarkable today because it documented a part of Williamsburg that has undergone radical changes over the last thirty-plus years, and the Living Los Sures project attempts to excavate and preserve the culture of the Southside.

Tomorrow, the Cinema Studies Department at NYU, is screening the 1984 film and hosting a presentation about the current and ongoing Living Los Sures project. This is a rare opportunity to see this film. Until the original film is available for purchase, you’ll have to settle for screening a 16mm or VHS copy at the New York Public Library.

Admission to tomorrow’s screening is free, but seating is limited.

Living Los Sures

  • March 3, 2016
  • NYU King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, 53 Washington Square South
  • Free
  • More Information

Free Museum Admission for Pratt Institute Community

One of the best yet under-advertised features of being an NYU student–or a member of its faculty and staff—is the free admission to New York City–area museums. Some of the highlights include the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the New York Historical Society.

Last week, Pratt Institute announced that its students, faculty, and staff can enjoy free admission to the following museums:

    • Brooklyn Museum
    • Brooklyn Botanic Garden, plus one guest
    • Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
    • The Frick Collection
    • Guggenheim, up to 3 guests
    • Museum of Arts and Design
    • MoMA, students-only as of January 2019
    • New Museum
    • Whitney Museum of American Art, plus one guest

Admission is also extended to alumni at the following museums:

  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Whitney Museum of American Art

As the weather gradually begins to warm, it’s really tempting to visit a few museums before cycling and softball occupy my free time come spring.

Related: See my earlier blog post about NYU’s Museum Gateway.

Back from the Tombs

On July 29, 2006, at Southpaw, a now-defunct music venue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, my friend Adam invited me to see Rocket from the Tombs. He had met a girl at his sister’s birthday party a few weeks earlier. Named for a season of the year, she was a pretty girl with pale-skin, dark hair trimmed with bangs, and thick-framed black plastic glasses. He was interested in going to the show as I presumed he was trying to bone up on the kind of music she liked. Had he not jumped the queue, I probably would have talked to her first. Oh well: bros before… am I right?

Rocket from the Tombs was a short-lived Cleveland band that formed in the mid-1970s. Their sound, commonly referred to as “proto-punk,” was very heavy, loud and simple, especially compared to flair and multitrack ornamentation of album-oriented rock that populated FM radio during the same period. Though Rocket from the Tombs would only record a few songs, they would influence countless future punk bands and themselves split into two well-regarded bands of the 1980s: Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys.

I’m not sure if Adam and Autumn/Summer confused this band with Rocket from the Crypt, a 1990s San Diego band that enjoyed much greater financial and mainstream success than Rocket from the Tombs ever did, but joining him for this show was one of the best concert decisions I ever made. Having re-formed and despite looking more like jam band than a bunch of “punk,” they absolutely kicked ass and sounded like they had been playing together continuously with aplomb since 1975.

Rocket from the Tombs will return to the New York City area this weekend. They will be at Monty Hall on Saturday, December 5 in Jersey City and at Baby’s All Right on Sunday, December 6 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Not quite ten years later, I look forward to seeing them again.

The above links to Ticketfly are affiliate links. Shopping through those links will kick back a referral fee to me. Thanks for your support!

Outdoor Cartoon Carnival at City Reliquary

As a fan of summer and of movies, you would think that I would be a huge fan of outdoor movies. I am not. Usually, the films screened at these events are crowd-pleasing hits that I have either seen already or could easily watch on a cable TV network or a streaming service. And because this is New York, it’s usually a struggle to secure space for you and your picnic blanket.

The one outdoor summer screening series that was an exception to this was the one at Socrates Sculpture Park. The series catered to Queens’s status as the most diverse borough of New York City.1 Not only did they screen a variety of international movies, some curated by Film Forum, they paired local eateries serving the native cuisine of the film’s country. Except for that one time they inexplicably paired German würsts with a Russian film, less than seventy years after the conclusion of World War II.

If you want to see the series at Socrates, you’re too late. It wrapped on Wednesday.

But tomorrow, Saturday, August 29, you can go to Williamsburg for a unique outdoor film experience. Thomas Stathes, the man responsible for the Cartoons on Film DVD collection I plugged earlier this month, is programming an Outdoor Cartoon Carnival at the City Reliquary. And as a bonus, all the films at this screening will be from 16mm film prints.

While there’s no bike valet, it’s also certainly not E.T.. It’s fine movie, but I’ve seen it a few times.

Outdoor Cartoon Carnival #35

  • Saturday, August 29
  • The City Reliquary, 370 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn
  • $10.00

  1. I have no idea if this is actually true. 

Experimental Films at Japan Cuts 2015

The Japan Society is hosting its annual festival of new Japanese films. Japan Cuts starts this Thursday, July 9, and runs through Sunday, July 19. Much like the New York Film Festival, this festival devotes a program commemorates experimental filmmaking.

Mono No Aware x [+] (Plus) celebrates the work of two filmmaking organizations: New York’s Mono No Aware and Tokyo’s [+]. The program of films screens on Sunday, July 12, beginning at 8:45 PM, at the Japan Society.

Almost all of the films in the program will be screened in New York for the first time, and many of them will be screening publicly for the first time anywhere.

Here’s the complete list of films:

Title Filmmaker Year, Time, Format Synopsis Premiere
Mono No Aware Direct Filmmaking/Animation Workshop Films Various 2015. Approx. 8 min. 16mm. Various 16mm works from the participants of Mono No Aware’s Direct Filmmaking/Animation Workshop held at Japan Society on June 21. World Premiere
RELAY Steve Cossman 2014. 11 min. Super 8mm to HDV A moving-image document of the visual environment created by artist Ei Wada that emphasizes his grassroots approach to instrument making and reflects his concepts about performance as art. New York Premiere
Koropokkuru Akiko Maruyama 2015. 5 min. 16mm. A moving portrayal of an ineffable force that can be humanlike or embody itself within displayed objects. Inspired by concepts from the Koropokkuru folktale within Japanese Ainu culture and The Invisible Man. World Premiere
Louis Armstrong Obon Joel Schlemowitz 2015. 14 min. Super 8mm and HD to HDV. A portrait of Japanese jazz musicians Yoshio and Keiko Toyama as seen through their annual summer pilgrimage to the grave of Louis Armstrong in Flushing, Queens. World Premiere
EMBLEM Rei Hayama 2012. 16 min. 16mm to HDCAM. Video footage for the research of Japanese endangered species of raptors is turned into a decorative fiction film through the conversion process between video and film. New York Premiere
Stella Nova Ted Wiggin 2015. 4 min. 16mm. Red blue green, circle square triangle, dog star man. The life and death of a star. World Premiere
Emaki/Light Takashi Makino & Takashi Ishida 2011. 16 min. 35mm & 16mm to HDCAM. Drawing on film by Takashi Ishida; edit and telecine by Takashi Makino; music by Takashi Ishida & Takashi Makino. US Premiere
sound of a million insects, light of a thousand stars Tomonari Nishikawa 2014. 2 min. 35mm. 100 ft of 35mm negative film was buried under fallen leaves about 15 miles away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station from the sunset of June 24, 2014 to sunrise the following day.
DUB HOUSE Experience in Material No.52 Kei Shichiri & Ryoji Suzuki 2012. 16 min. 35mm. Strict but exquisite evocation links two artistic disciplines and two visions of light and darkness. Architecture and film meet in the cinema. North American Premiere

Japan Cuts 2015: Mono No Aware x [+]

  • July 12, 2015
  • Japan Society, 333 E. 47th St, Manhattan
  • $10.00 – $13.00
  • Buy Tickets

The Unappreciated Architecture of the New York’s World’s Fairs at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum


Last year marked the fiftieth and seventy-fifth anniversaries, respectively, of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. I wrote about these two fairs with regards to the 1939 introduction of television by RCA and the 1964 New York State Pavilion, designed by celebrated modern architect Phillip Johnson.

Starting today, June 29, the Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College is hosting a photographic exhibit on the “ignored” and “ridiculed” architecture of the World’s Fairs. The exhibition, Persuasive Images: Architecture of the 1939–40 & 1964–65 New York World’s Fairs, will run until July 27, and there’s an opening reception on July 9, two weeks after the exhibit opens.

Persuasive Images: Architecture of the 1939–40 & 1964–65 New York World’s Fairs

  • June 29 – July 27, 2015
  • Museum open Monday–Saturdays,
  • Godwin-Ternbach Museum, 65-30 Kissena Blvd, 405 Klapper Hall, Queens, NY 11367
  • Free

A Little Secret About Me and Laura Mulvey

Teaching this past semester has been a bit different than it has been recently because I’ve been teaching two non-intro classes: New Media and Media Criticism. Although New Media is technically called “Introduction to New Media,” I’ve always run it like an undergraduate seminar with a lot close readings. The same goes for Media Criticism, where the students and I criticize criticisms of media.

One of the results of doing so many close readings this semester—especially ones that I have not read since being an undergraduate, if at all—is that I’ve become self-reflexive about some academic practices and rituals.

For example:

  • Why does seemingly every essay start with a premise that the author immediately challenges? I prefer the illustrative case study.
  • Why must we literally turn a page before we get to the author’s central method for challenging that premise? My advisor indoctrinated me that a reader should know your topic and approach before turning a page.
  • Why does seemingly every argument take a twist or turn about 60-70% through the text? What’s wrong with sticking what you outlined in the methodology?

One of the stranger practices in academia, especially among film scholars, is to say…

I’m not sure I’ve seen that film all the way through.

Allow me to decode that. That’s academese for…

I haven’t bothered to watch that film, and I’m too ashamed to admit it. Also, I can’t have a conversation with you about it because I must have missed the part of the film you’re describing.

Why not just admit that you haven’t seen it?

It’s a clever trick, and I’m guilty of having used that once or twice. In fact, I kind of did that when, back in November, I announced that filmmaker and scholar Laura Mulvey was coming to Pratt. I said that I had wished I had scheduled her film, Riddles of the Sphinx, for my experimental film class, but didn’t because it was “too long” for our class. Truth be told, I didn’t schedule it because I never bothered to watch it “the whole way through,” which is to say not at all. But, in my defense, no film we screened in class was longer than ninety minutes, and I was not going to speed up this film.

Laura Mulvey Riddles of the Sphinx

To atone for my scholarly and pedagogical sins, I’ll be heading to Pratt on Tuesday, March 10, for the screening of Riddles of the Sphinx, with introduction and Q&A by scholar-in-residence/filmmaker Laura Mulvey. You should go, too.

She will also be giving a public lecture, Gleaning, Détournement and the Compilation Film: Some Thoughts on Un’ora sola ti vorrei (Alina Marazzi, 2002) the following day. Alas, I won’t be able to make the lecture because I teach a class at that time.

Riddles of the Sphinx Screening and Q&A

  • March 10, 2015
  • Pratt Institute, Higgins Hall
  • Info

Sex and Broadcasting: A Documentary about WFMU

Today, November 15, Sex and Broadcasting, a documentary about freeform radio station, WFMU, premieres as part of the DOCNYC film festival. The documentary profiles this extraordinary radio station, located in Jersey City, New Jersey, and also streaming worldwide on Internet, and its struggles to stay afloat in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

I would call it a unique project except that two friends of mine were working on a documentary about KCSB-FM, the Santa Barbara, California radio station where I volunteered, hosted a few radio shows, and even worked as the general manager back in the go-go nineties. Without the slightest bit of exaggeration, KCSB has a lot with making me who I am today.

The documentary project stalled out a few years ago, but on a hard drive somewhere, there exists footage of a lengthy interview I gave as part of that project. I should probably see if I can get that footage just to have it.

Sex and Broadcasting: A Documentary about WFMU

  • November 15, 2014
  • 5:00 PM
  • IFC Center
  • $15.00
  • Buy Tickets
  • November 15, 2014
  • 3:15 PM
  • IFC Center
  • $15.00
  • Buy Tickets
  • November 20, 2014
  • 9:45 PM
  • SVA Theater
  • $15.00
  • Buy Tickets

Weather Warlock and Quintron and Miss Pussycat Come to Brooklyn

Two months ago, I was ecstatic about the opportunity to see Quintron and Miss Pussycat perform at Baby’s All Right in late November, and I bought a ticket.

In addition to his famous Drum Buddy, Quintron (or Quintronics, as he’s calling his electronic-gizmo manufacturing outfit) has built an audio synthesizer that responds to the weather. You can hear it in action, day and night, courtesy of the Internet.


The Weather Warlock is the name of the machine and also the improvised lineup of musicians that play as a drone band to accompany the Weather Warlock synthesizer. As part of Quintron and Miss Pussycat’s tour, Weather Warlock (the band) will be playing Weather Warlock (the synthesizer) at four special shows in Chicago, Ann Arbor, Brooklyn, and Miami.

The Brooklyn demonstration of the Weather Warlock will be at Secret Project Robot in Bushwick, Brooklyn on Friday, November 28. The show will take place at sunset, which I understand is supposed to happen at for 4:31 PM EST, and will feature some very special jammers, including Nels Cline, Sean Lennon, and, not surprisingly, Quintron.

Skip Black Friday, and go see and hear this unique contraption in action!

Weather Warlock (November 28) and Quinton and Miss Pussycat (November 29)

  • November 28, 2014
  • Sunset
  • Secret Project Robot, 89 Melrose St, Brooklyn
  • November 29, 2014
  • 8:00 PM
  • Baby’s All Right, 146 Broadway, Brooklyn
  • 12.00
  • Buy Tickets

Night at the Museum: Project! World’s Fair

Project post 700x270

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a zoo, but in recent years, I’ve noticed a trend of zoos hosting evening events with music, food, and beer. Zoo Brews in Portland and Brews at the Zoo in Los Angeles are valiant efforts to lure childless adults to the zoo with adult beverages.

For one reason or another, I’ve failed to go to any of these events. But just about every nerdy synapse was activated when I learned of Project! World’s Fair night at the New York Hall of Science to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the World’s Fair in New York City. The building housing the science center was part of the World’s Fair campus, and they invite you to “leave the kids behind” and designate a driver.

Project! World’s Fair celebrates this advent with a fresh perspective on the buildings created as a result of the Fair and the subsequent museum and exhibits that have come to define NYSCI. We invite you to leave the kids behind and come out for a night illuminated by images of the past, present and future, inspired by the Fair, and experience the NYSCI of today against a backdrop of rockets and large-scale artist projections and installations on, in and around NYSCI’s building and exhibits. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with museum exhibits anew with a sample of a 50-year-old cocktail, beer or wine, as well as partake in workshops. Tickets include workshops, beer/wine and samples of cocktails inspired by the turn of the century.

The only time I’ve been to the Hall of Science was last October when they hosted the Empire Drive-In, part–art installation and part–drive in theater. I’m dying to know what fifty year-old cocktail they will be reviving, but like those other nights at the zoo, I will miss this night at the Hall of Science. I’ll be out of town.

Project! World’s Fair at the New York Hall of Science

  • Friday, October 10
  • 7:00 PM
  • 47-01 111th St, Corona, Queens
  • 20.00
  • Buy Tickets