A Weekend in New York is Forever

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of my sprawling posts where I take you through a whole day of adventure, but I thought it would be fun to chronicle one of my recent weekends (I’m stretching this weekend from Thursday to Monday). Because of the glorious (haha…) subway that runs 24 hours and concentration of events, you can really do a lot in New York City in just a few days. Are you ready? To really get the full experience, you should drink at least a couple of cups of black coffee before undertaking this itinerary.

Thursday, March 8:

After a day of work (oh right, add that to your itinerary), I got drinks with a friend at Mission Dolores (outdoors drinking! welcome spring!) and then we headed to the Rock Shop in Park Slope to see SkyPony and Bambi, two incredibly entertaining bands with a lot of decadent energy. You might remember that I saw the band Bambi’s glam rock musical GOODBAR at the Under the Radar Festival, and they were just as entertaining in a small venue. Above is a video for “Primatology,” their ode to Jane Goodall, where they strut through the American Museum of Natural History (hey, wasn’t I just talking about that place?).

Friday, March 9:

Following another day of work (don’t worry, it’s Friday, you’re done for this post!), I headed up to the opening of the Fountain Art Fair. It was Armory Week in NYC, which meant there was a whole mob of art fairs spawning off or contrasting with the massive Armory Show. (I didn’t go this year, but you can read my recap of the 2011 Armory Show here.) Fountain, held in the 69th Regiment Armory, was an edgier breed of art fair, with a lot of street art and offbeat sculpture represented in the booths. There was also a DJ set up the center, and the legendary Fab 5 Freddy even took a turn, although the crowd didn’t exactly have much of a dance floor and it got a little chaotic in the booths closest to the music.

But it got even crazier when aerial dancers climbed up in the rafters of the insanely high ceiling of the armory. I’m not sure where this trend of having aerial dancing at art shows is coming from, but I suppose it keeps everyone awake. Or was it just me worrying?

There were even two dancers at the very peak of the armory ceiling, dangling from red ribbons. Insane! Luckily, we all survived it.

Saturday, March 10:

On Saturday, I met up with friends at the Dependent Art Fair, where galleries and art organizations transformed rooms of the Comfort Inn on Ludlow Street into one-day installations. I loved it. Most of the art was good, setting an atmosphere that fit the space and made it feel like you were calling on different guests of a very strange convention. Earlier in the week, I’d been to the Spring/Break Art Show inside an old school, which had some good use of the natural creepiness of an abandoned place for children, but the hotel was even better at making it pleasingly unsavory, like you never knew what was going to be behind the next door, what guest might await you. Was it going to be John Lennon look-a-like singing “Give Peace a Chance” in bed or a strobe light in a bathroom piled high with marshmallows?

My favorite room at the Dependent was hosted by Recess Art (no relation to Recession Art which I participate in). It was the most amazing overnight metamorphosis of the simple hotel room into an apocalyptic scene of complete, dark chaos. Pictures don’t really do it justice. Only one person at a time could stand in the space, suddenly captured in the aftermath of some artistic storm.

On our walk to the subway, I saw this fantastic metal street art robot, who I’ve decided I have to include in this post. The weather was great, so we ate lunch at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, and then continued to the Pool Art Fair. Like the Dependent, it was also held in a hotel, but a more fancy one, and I felt like the art was rather underwhelming. Or I was just in need of coffee. Luckily the next stop was the Ace Hotel for just that.

Refueled by caffeine, I went back to Brooklyn for the four stories of openings at the Invisible Dog art space in Cobble Hill. Above is a view of an intricate installation by R. Justin Stewart that had QR codes you could activate with your phone. There were also open artist studios, two other exhibits including some skillful drawings by Daniel Horowitz, and a rather intense performance piece in the basement. I ended Saturday by meeting another friend for drinks further north in Brooklyn in Greenpoint.

Sunday, March 11:

I started Sunday with a morning walk in the South Brooklyn industrial area, a scouting trip for a freelance story I was working on. I explored the area around the Bush and Brooklyn Army terminals where the huge warehouses built during World War I stand like quiet giants on the shore. Here are more photos from the walk.

That afternoon I led a walking tour of Lower East Side galleries for the LES BID, which took us to 11 different galleries in two hours. It was quite fun, but also a whirlwind, although there was a great moment of pause with this installation by Martin Roth in the lower level of Louis B. James gallery, where grass had been planted on the patterns of Persian rugs. The tour ended at the Recession Art gallery, where I paused for a drink with a friend.

Sunday evening I met up with a couple of friends who were moving from New York to California at Joe’s Pub for Justin Vivian Bond, who is doing a Sunday night cabaret residency in March. (Go if you can!) I first saw Mx. Bond open for Patrick Wolf last year, and Sunday’s performance was just as astounding. I don’t have any videos from Sunday, but above is a great clip from back when Bond performed as the Kiki half of Kiki & Herb, that is an amazing cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up that Hill,” managing to be heartbreaking and gleeful at once. Not an easy thing to pull off.

Monday, March 12:

Time to rest! Wait, no, time to go back to work! Oh, remember you bought a ticket to see Alan Cumming at Lincoln Center Monday night? Okay, well watch your favorite Scottish entertainer first and then get some rest. There are more adventures ahead.

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