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Posts Tagged ‘New York’

My lease is up on July 1st. It’s June 22nd. Do I have a place to live? No. No I don’t. Is it from a lack of trying? Good lord no.

Myself and my roommate (Brooklyn Skeptic contributor ChezJJP) are two employed twenty-six-year olds. We live in a nice place in Park Slope in Brooklyn. Our landlady likes us, and sweetly told us that she didn’t want us to leave because we were such good tenants. We pay our rent on time. We have a combined income of over $80,000 a year. We’re handsome and polite. We give great massages. We floss. So why the fuck is it so hard for us to find an apartment?

Because New York is a cruel, overpopulated den of deception and chaos located several floors below the seventh layer of hell.

This is not the New York from the show Friends, where the characters live in huge, beautifully decorated apartments in lower Manhattan, paying the rent with the money they make being failed actors, waitresses and whatever the hell the weird one did. This is the New York where you have trouble getting an apartment in Red Hook (twenty minutes from a shitty subway which won’t even be running soon!) when you are the first person to see it and immediately ask to fill out an application. This is the New York where you see an apartment you like in Williamsburg and are so desperate to move in that you agree to give the landlord an $1800 deposit despite the fact that none of the light fixtures work and half of the apartment is flooded. This is the New York that turns you into a desperate, whorish shadow of the man you once saw in the mirror.

And apparently, this is the New York that makes you state the obvious in an effort to vent your frustrations. Clearly, if you live in New York, you’ve probably been through apartment searching hell (or you haven’t, in which case, you’re a jerk) and none of this is particularly eye-opening to you. But Jesus Christ! Who do you have to blow to pay too much to live in a cramped apartment in an already over-priced city???

Anyway, you’d better solve this problem for me, reader. Find me an apartment, pronto. Or else, you never know, I might move in with you and we’ll have a little You, Me and Dupree situation going on. And you don’t want that. Because that movie sucked.

Dont make me be the Owen Wilson to your Matt Dillon and Kate Hudson. Nobody wins in that equation.

Don't make me be the Owen Wilson to your Matt Dillon and Kate Hudson. Nobody wins in that equation.

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1. Synecdoche, New York – Although I saw this months ago, random scenes still pop into my head like I’m trying to piece together a fever-dream from the night before. Charlie Kaufman has yet again outdone himself, this time taking over as director as well. While more somber than anything Kaufman has put out yet, it is truly an incredible experience watching Caden’s bizarro-world and the simply bizarre “reality” of the film drift closer together before climaxing in the most beautiful and touching ending I have seen at the cinema in ages.

2. Rachel Getting Married – Director Jonathan Demme shot this entire film with hand-held cameras, much like you would ask a close friend to do at your own wedding. The difference is, instead of shooting the generic footage of the ceremony and people dancing around afterwards, Demme sticks around for all of it – the fighting, the sadness, the ugliness, the lies, and ultimately the forgiveness. Working with an incredible first script by Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married doesn’t just make you feel like you are attending a wedding, it lets you in so close that you feel like you are a member of the family, whether you want to be or not.

3. Let the Right One In – Since I like vampires so much, few of my friends took my advice of going to see this Swedish vampire film thinking I’m merely a slut for anything with fangs. This might be true, but while they were out wasting their money on Twilight, they missed one of the best films of the year. The film is about the brief relationship between a bullied, young boy and a mysterious girl who moves in next door to him. A series of gruesome murders take place as the two kids become friends, and she slowly starts to open up about certain aspects of her personality.

   

4. A Christmas Tale – Similar to Royal Tenenbaums in plot, but not at all in character, this French film from director Arnaud Desplechin is the story of a relatives reuniting over Christmas when the matriarch of the family has fallen ill. The ensemble consists of some supremely depressed children, their lives ruined by love and loss, and there extended family of children, aunts, uncles, etc. Featuring an incredible and massive cast including Catherine Deneuve and Mathieu Amalric, we officially have a new Christmas classic.

5. Dark Knight – The most hyped movie of the year (and possibly one of the most hyped ever, due to the death of Heath Ledger and blog-talk) turned out to be just about as good as everyone thought it would be. The sequel to Batman Begins has set a new standard for comic book movies. Seriously though, get Batman some throat lozenges.

     

6. Wall-E – Every year there’s a new Pixar film to put on this list. While I didn’t like this quite as much as last year’s Ratatouille, you can’t help but marvel at a film that finds so much emotion and amusement in two robots who can barely speak.

7. Shotgun Stories – First time director Jeff Nichols wrote this small tragedy about two sets of sons with the same recently deceased father. One set knows him as an abusive monster, and the other knows him as a loving, born-again Christian. With a focus on the first set of brothers (their names are literally Boy, Kid and Son), Michael Shannon in particular emerges as one of the best male actors working today (he’s also great in Revolutionary Road – too bad the movie wasn’t as good). The film is quiet, and patiently shot in a way that echoes David Gordon Green, which is not surprising as he was one of the film’s producers.

8. Reprise – Time is manipulated in interesting ways in this Norwegian film, where two friends send their novels to publishing companies at the same time with hopes of fame, fortune and women. When we move ahead six months we find that the one who has achieved success has since been hospitalized after a breakdown, and the one who hasn’t achieved success has narcisistically broken up with his girlfriend and is trying to track down his favorite writer and help re-adjust his friend. The film and its narrative shoot back and forth in both real and hypothetical time, using innovative filming techniques to tell a great story.

               

9. Forgetting Sarah Marshall – Jason Segal wrote this fun Apatow-produced comedy about a guy who is dumped and goes to Hawaii only to find that he is staying at the same resort as his ex-girlfriend. It’s a pretty stupid and entirely unlikely plot, but the film itself is sweet and consistently funny from start to finish. Segal included several moments from his actual life, including being dumped by his girlfriend while naked as well as music from a Dracula musical he was writing. This was easily the funniest movie I saw in 2008.

10. Slumdog Millionaire – There’s always a movie like Juno, or My Big Fat Greek Wedding or Little Miss Sunshine that people label as “the little movie that could.” The movies usually have a pretty small budget and are crowd pleasers that no one expected to be huge hits. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they’re not. This year that movie is Slumdog Millionaire and yes, it was pretty damn good.

 

Honorable Mention: Paranoid Park, The Band’s Visit, In Bruges, Iron Man, The Fall, Milk, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Right At Your Door, Man On Wire, Pineapple Express, The Wrestler

Some movies I Haven’t Seen Yet so Don’t Get Mad: Wendy and Lucy, Ballast, Che, Happy Go Lucky, Chop Shop, Waltz with Bashir, The Class, My Winnipeg, Momma’s Man, Trouble the Water, Frozen River

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You just know that has a qualifier, right?

As of yesterday, New Jersey came out on top (huh huh) in terms of gubernatorial sex scandals! Former governor of New Jersey, Jim McGreevy, was accused of partaking in saucy delights with his driver AND his (McGreevy’s) wife…at the same time! Yes, my friends, we totally have a gay-governor-threesome scandal, which puts former governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer’s scandal firmly in Little League territory. Of course, if Spitzer involved the Little League in his nasty trysts, he’d be in first place again.

So, just to recap:

  • 2004: New Jersey governor McGreevy is gay, renders him incapable of running New Jersey (?)
  • 2008: New York governor Spitzer pays a lot of money to spend quality time with whores, renders him incapable of running New York (agreed)
  • 2008: McGreevy, incensed that Spitzer stole his thunder, demands his former driver make atrociously naughty claims about the former first couple’s bedroom steez (suspected)

I’m going to just come out and say it, people. Learning so much about middle-aged white dudes’ sexual practices makes me never, ever, ever want to have sex again. Let’s just all either keep it in our collective pants, or not speak of it when it comes out.

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You all know that I love participatory democracy more than my own family. But I want them and you, too, to make sure you are registered to vote on Super Tuesday, wherein New York gets to vote for its candidate of choice. Generally, the winners on Super Tuesdays get their parties’ nomination for president.

Now, I don’t care who you vote for, only that you actually, physically vote for someone. To make sure this happens, I would like each of you to go make sure you’re registered to vote because the deadline to register is tomorrow, Friday, January 11.

VotePoke.com is a handy tool to both check to see that you’re registered in the right place and to help you register if you haven’t already. It’s sponsored by MoveOn.org and is not associated with any party. And it doesn’t even sign you up for the barrage of MoveOn emails, unless you want that.

Super Tuesday is on February 5, 2008.

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One of my favorite things that I did last year was this:

Participate in the Partnership for the Homeless‘ Voter Registration Campaign. After a quick training, I went out to a Homeless Shelter and led a little workshop for the residents on their right to vote (even when homeless) and a bit about the significance of them voting.

I registered people to vote! It was great.

And then at the end of the training, as I was leaving, all the ladies of the shelter were like, it’s time for ANTM!!! Oh my god!!! So I sat down and watched with them. And that was the Best Part of All.

Want to do it? The trainings are:

Monday, December 3rd 6-8:30 PM

Wednesday, December 5th 2:30-5 PM

Thursday, December 6th 2:30-5 PM

You only need to go to one training, and then they will work with you to find a night (or more) when your schedule allows you to go to a shelter and lead the workshop. They’ll pair you up with another trained volunteer and you guys can co-lead together.

If you have been sort of in the back of your mind thinking about volunteering for something worthwhile, I highly recommend this. You get training, get to meet people you never would before, have interesting conversations with people living in a shelter that it would be hard to have without a specific context/reason like this, and then it’s over! You’re not signing on for an indefinite amount of weekly or monthly volunteer nights, it’s just one 2.5 hour training and 1+ evenings out, scheduled at your convenience!

To find out more information or to sign up for one of the trainings, contact Elana Shneyer, Community Organizer, at (212) 645-3444 x 107 or eshneyer@pfth.org.

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Brooklyn Skeptic loves nothing more than the prospect of young people becoming involved in the electoral process. The 2004 election featured the highest amount of youth participation in over four decades. In my opinion, the best way to keep that trend going is by frequent, active engagement with the candidates. People under 30 should know as much about Dennis Kucinich or Mitt Romney as they know about iPods and the sociological implications of Jessica Simpson’s hair extensions.

Here are two things you can do today:

→ Talk to John Edwards on MySpace!

Go to www.myspace.com/election2008 and chat live with John Edwards at noon. Apparently, you get the opportunity to ask questions and respond to his responses in real time…which reminds me a lot of an electronic Gong Show.

→ See Barack Obama speak in Washington Square Park!

It’s free. It’s soul-warming. It’s at 5:00 PM.

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Last night, upon plainclothesman’s recommendation, I trekked out to the Court Street movie theater to watch Jodie Foster’s new revenge murderfest, “The Brave One.” It’s not really that I didn’t like the movie. It’s more that it ruined New York for me, which is one of the few things that I love with the capacity of my soul. For a movie that attempts to grapple with serious questions about justice, trauma, death, morality and a spiritually wounded person’s ability to live, there is an awful lot of hyperbolized violence and an awful little of actual substance.

In the film, Jodie Foster plays Erica Bain, an Ira Glass-like NPR host, but instead of good-natured reverence of humanity, she employs a “lipless fury”* while she brutalizes both the image and inhabitants of our fair city. Following an obscenely violent mugging/beat-down in Central Park, Erica loses her shit (understandably) and develops a slight case of agoraphobia, which quickly morphs into a seething, pitiless blood lust, sated only by the execution of people who fuck with her (less understandable). Just like her idealized city of New York, throughout the movie, Erica sheds her innate humanity and becomes unfamiliarly savage. New York spits thug after thug at her, and she fights back with an unsure hand on an illegal 9mm.

Now, okay. There is crime and brutality in New York. Yes. There are victims of crimes who lose their ability to live in New York. Definitely. But really, this isn’t fucking Baghdad over here. The problem here is that the movie doesn’t balance its gross distortion of New York with anything that puts it into perspective. It is as though in the filmmakers’ minds, it was a genuine reflection of this city through the eyes of one fictionalized New Yorker. I’m just going to put this out there, but no UWS radio host – shit, no one at all – has ever been nearly beaten to death in Central Park, then witnessed a murder in a bodega, then mugged on the subway, then coerced into prostitution, and then gotten into a crowbar fight with a Roosevelt Island parking mogul. Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s so completely overblown, but with no wink-wink-nudge-nudge “I understand there is such a thing as human decency” foil for the audience. Even Terrence Howard, the magnetic north on the moral compass of this story, turns out to be a little off, depriving the ending of its grounding.

Stop ruining New York, Jodie. I have to live here.

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We got home safe last night.

* Courtesy of Kate, resident cultural analyst for Brooklyn Skeptic.

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