Big Joy at the New York Public Library

June 18, 2014

Tonight, in honor of the DVD release of the documentary BIG JOY: The Adventures of James Broughton, the New York Public Library (NYPL) hosted a special celebration.

While filmmaker/poet/author/teacher James Broughton had a notable following among the avant-garde during his lifetime, today he is known to many only through the “warts and all” biopic, BIG JOY.  

The film traces his life from his painful childhood in Modesto, California, through his career as an acclaimed underground filmmaker and poet, his tumultuous marriage and fatherhood, his sudden emergence (at the age of 61) as a gay man, his death at age 85 and his legacy.

Prolifically creative, Broughton made 23 experimental films, several of which won awards a film festivals, and wrote 23 books of prose and poetry. In his final years, Broughton earned a reputation as “the bard of the modern gay rights movement” and was known by his frequently-uttered slogans, “follow your own weird” and “when in doubt, twirl.”

 

I was born in the San Joaquin town of Modesto,

on the Tuolomne River of Stanislaus County

in the state of California.

My grandfathers were bankers, and so was my father.

But my mother wanted me to become a surgeon.

However, one night when I was 3 years old

I was awakened by a glittering stranger

who told me I was a poet and always would be

and never to fear being alone or being laughed at.

— James Broughton

 

The NYPL program included a reception, where it was possible to view some of Broughton’s surprisingly-charming short films, an introduction by cabaret star Justin Vivian Bond, and a discussion with experimental film experts Jon Gartenberg, Robert Haller, and Jim Hubbard.

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The official poster

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Justin Vivian Bond

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On the screen

Big Joy: The Film
All About James Broughton
NYPL: The Adventures of James Broughton
Justin Vivian Bond
Jon Gartenberg
Robert Haller
Jim Hubbard


Father’s Day is Coming

June 14, 2014

Wondering what to do for Father’s Day?

Brooklyn’s Sip Fine Wine offers these words of wisdom.

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Sip Fine Wine
New York Magazine: Sip Fine Wine


Little House on the Brooklyn Prairie

April 9, 2014

Take a look around and guess where we are.

There’s a white-washed building topped by a stout brick chimney. Rough hewn wooden posts holding up a shingled roof. Wood framed double-hung windows with slightly sagging screens. A wide porch holding an assortment of ladder-back rocking chairs, some with seats of woven rush, others with canvas webbing.

Are we in a small, sleepy Southern town? Or are we someplace in the American Heartland, perhaps an old farmstead out on the wide prairie?

Sorry, but no and no.

Actually, this rustic-looking structure is the Avenue H subway station on the Q line, deep in the heart of Brooklyn. Built in 1906, over the years the station has been updated and renovated but, thankfully, never replaced.

Now, don’t just stand there. Grab a glass of lemonade and let’s do a little rocking before we catch the next train to Brighton Beach.

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The Epoch Times: Renovated Brooklyn Station House, Relic With Modern Feel
NYC Subway: Avenue H Station
Subway Nut: Avenue H 


Iran do Espírito Santo: Playground

October 3, 2013

Perched on the southern border of Central Park, Playground is a sculpture by Brazilian artist Iran do Espírito Santo. The work, a single piece of cast concrete, is incised to make it appear as though it was constructed of large blocks of stone, precariously stacked atop each other.

The artist describes Playground as a kind of “idealized ruin” and a metaphorical playground. Metaphor or not, the children (and many of the adults) who encounter Playground can’t resist climbing upon, and scrambling inside, the cool, inviting space.

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Public Art Fund
Designboom: Concrete Playground by Iran do Espírito Santo


Heydays in Bay Ridge

September 27, 2013

Some of the most charming works of art in New York City are hidden deep underground in subway stations.

The 86th Street Station in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, is the site of a mosaic entitled Heydays. The wall-sized work by Amy Bennett pays homage to the neighborhood’s bucolic past, depicting three family homes and a church with a tall steeple, all surrounded by grass, trees and a winding brick pathway.

A close look at the pieces of glass reveals numerous finely-crafted details including a man peering through binoculars, empty lounge chairs upon a balcony, an old woman leaning out of a window, an umbrella-topped picnic table, and a dog sitting on a wooden porch.

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MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design
Amy Bennett
New York Magazine: Neighborhood Profile, Bay Ridge


A Small Protest

March 13, 2013

Graffiti inside a bathroom stall in a Brooklyn grocery store.

Feed all people
Free the wage slaves
Question the system

The response.

And protest by
writing on a bathroom
stall instead of
actually doing something.

 

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The 21st Annual Hot Chocolate Festival

February 21, 2013

The holidays are over. The winter feels as though it will last forever. You long for an escape from the cold but you can’t leave the city.

In Manhattan, City Bakery has the solution. Every February, when the weather is at its bleakest, they host a  Hot Chocolate Festival. Now in its 21st year, the Festival celebrates the rich, creamy drink by featuring a different special flavor every day of the month. This year, the flavors range from Bourbon (February 8) to Vietnamese Cinnamon (February 10) to Creamy Stout (February 15th).

Today, I’m being a bit of a purist, with Darkest Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate (so thick you can eat it with a spoon) topped with one of City Bakery’s home made marshmallows. And suddenly, February doesn’t seem long enough.

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The City Bakery
The City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival


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