- The Man Behind The Music
- A Different Kind of Bar In Jackson Heights
- Live Music Theatre @ 92Y Tribeca
- What's Next for Dirty Mac?
- Realizing a Dream
- A Staten Island Band Strives to Make a Career out of Their Passion
- The Cyrus Movement Prepares for Musical Warfare
- Winston Ford's Information Highway
- Vespertina's Opera Songbird
Author Archives: Kari Pulizzano
Posts: 11 (archived below)
Well, here we are, three months later, tired and eager for summer, but not quite blogged-out yet.
This semester started out with five eager students with high hopes for the world of blogging, but after several depressing speakers and more blogs than we would like to count — we’re done. For good. And, you know, it’s not exactly a good thing — which is totally not what any of us expected.
Truth is, as challenging as it was to write weekly blogs about topics that we weren’t always passionate about, our group bonded over mandatory lunches, concerts, and occasional group therapy sessions about our personal lives, and made the best out of each experience.
Despite the amount of work we had to do on a frequent basis, and our challenge to keep up with it, we learned, we grew and we are now a step closer to being professional bloggers with our own unique voices. No matter how depressing some speakers might have been, we still have hopes and dreams within the blogging world that we will accomplish.
Kari affirmed her beliefs that the only topic she has any interest in writing about is music, and is feeling confident about a future in blogging about it, whether it’s for pleasure or much needed money.
Teresa, who has revived her passion for film through this course, has learned that a job doesn’t only have to be about making a lot of money, but about doing something one is passionate about.
Izabella (who demands to be called Bella from now on) is no where near where she started out at the start of the class — a miserable intern with absolutely no money nor desire to blog about food/music/film, and ended as a freelancer (with still barely any money) but with a proven love for one thing and one thing only — fashion.
Diana, who managed to get caught up with the amount of work there was to, was able to finally choose a topic to blog about endlessly. Even though the topics we covered were not of much interest, Diana allowed herself to open her mind and work outside her comfort zone.
And last but certainly not least, David. The graduating senior of our group, and the only guy around to bring conversation back from the depths of crazy feminism, brought a great voice to the group and the class and will surely be a success in whatever he sets out to do.
Have a great summer and good luck to David and all the other grads!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I was born into the wrong generation. I’d choose a corny ’80s horror flick over the best CGI or special effects any given day, I don’t think anything could make less sense than paying hundreds of dollars to look like a hippie, and, most unfortunate to me, I could count the number of new mainstream music acts that even slightly arouse my interest on one hand.
I’m not the type to write off all things mainstream at all, I’m always happy to see a good musician gain a huge following when they deserve the attention. Problem is though, that’s just not the case now. People will swarm to buy $400+ tickets to see a washed up pop-star fumble around on stage or be carried and tossed around to the tune of synthesizers and computer-made vocals, but Social Distortion (get ready for some bias, they are my favorite), a well-known and consistently awesome punk band that’s been around forever, still plays small bars and venues, usually for no more than $30.
“Artists” like Ke$ha (it pained me to type that) are praised for their individuality and quirky fashion sense. Meanwhile, if she had come out about twenty years ago when sequined leather shorts and torn up band shirts could be your Sunday best, she wouldn’t automatically join the ranks of ’80s rock goddesses like Siouxsie Sioux, Joan Jett, and Lydia Lunch. She would just be another chick with a crappy voice trying to get attention.
I’m not saying everything was better in the ’80s, obviously I wasn’t there and all I have are old records and other people’s memories. But hell, at least the crazy style and brave choices of musicians were great equalizers and allowed the best artists to shine through.
Once you step past the facade of the Highline Ballroom, a dull white brick wall shared with a sketchy looking Western Beef (not that there’s any other kind, to my knowledge), the whole feel of the evening changes. I stepped in out of the misty fog and was immediately greeted by a strange ambiance for a rock show; the only lighting was provided by a few red spotlights over the dining area and bar, a strobe over the empty stage, and a few scattered candles. Strangest of all, to me anyway, was the pleasant smell and cool air; But I suppose I’m just a little too used to basement and garage shows. All of the lovely ambiance and friendly staff, however, couldn’t save the night once the bands took the stage.
I couldn’t tell you much about the first opening act, Two Lights , since I spent a good amount of their Jonas Brothers-esque pop set of breakup songs at the bar wondering if I could possibly justify spending $7 on a beer. After half-hearing a few of their songs, it was more than justified.
I made my way back to the base of the stage to catch A Great Big Pile of Leaves set up, rather unprofessionally at that. There was no sound check, no change in drum kit to accommodate the new drummer, not even an introduction of the band or members, which to me is just a matter of respect for the backup members and establishes a relationship with the crowd, which this typical Indie/Pop-rock trio could’ve used to work up some energy.
As with any local band that performs near their hometown, which for Pete Weiland, Tyler Soucy and Tucker Yaro is Brooklyn, there were some excited fans up front, seemingly friends of the brand, who were able to sing along with the scrappy looking lead singer through all of his melodramatic Hipster anthems like Alligator Bop, which seemed to be their best known track.
It could’ve been the sudden tight gathering of the crowd increasing the temperature in the once comfortable room, but I blame the half hour of bad Indie movie soundtrack being performed on stage for the headache (and for the $25 tab).
All in all, a bad gig with good company to laugh about it with is still a good night in my books. I suppose if I had stuck with my original low expectations and not let the ambiance trip me up, I wouldn’t have been as annoyed. Then again, bad music is bad music no matter the lighting.
I consider Japanese food a safe bet. White rice, teriyaki meat, a couple of hand rolls and miso soup; what could really mess with that? I didn’t outwardly challenge the staff of Amber Gramercy to answer that question for me, but they gave it their best shot anyway.
My group-mate David made a reservation with the seemingly chic and highly praised restaurant a week ahead of time, apparently not early enough to guarantee a table for our group of five anywhere but next to the drafty windows and conveniently behind the only entrance, where David and I would have to lean in and suck in our guts each time a new diner needed to walk through the door. Naturally, we requested a new table and were brought up to the dining room the website had promised us, a cramped but large loft illuminated only by some red spotlights on the brick walls and on the enormous Buddhist statue in the center of the back wall.
I strained my eyes and my wallet looking through the menu and found a few dishes that wouldn’t leave me without bus fare for the ride home. I was too hungry by the time my chicken teriyaki with steamed vegetables and salmon avocado roll arrived to notice that my miso soup, traditionally served as an appetizer, never made its way to the table. It did hit me, however, after a few minutes of sloppy chopstick maneuvering of the rubbery chicken on my part. Over the not-so-soothing sounds of Kenny G that were blaring from the overhead speakers, I could hear one of my group-mates notify the waitress who had finally stopped avoiding us long enough to hear our complaint.
“Oh, do you still want your soups and salads?” she asked, practically willing us to decline.
Really? Nah, that’s fine. You just keep that money, clearly our immediate questioning on the student discount made us seem like we had the extra cash to throw around for nothing. No, I didn’t say it, and I couldn’t really hear myself think it, either.
Just when our patience and time were beginning to run out, our miso soup dessert arrived. At least, I’m told it was miso. My tunnel vision in the dark dining room could easily have caused me not to notice the waitress scoop my bowl into the tiny koi pond and plop the lukewarm water on the table in front of me, but I’ll keep assuring myself that that wasn’t the case.
I offered up my credit card to cover the bill and took my group-mates’ shares in hopes of ending the experience before I realized anything else was missing from it. I gladly accepted the 10% student discount and darted for the door, the light, and some air that didn’t carry screeching clarinet tunes to my poor ears.
Oh yea, the vegetables were good.
I have to admit, I usually only attend events at Baruch when a professor mandates it. I’ve often let my enthusiasm for pursuing my love of literature and classic journalism be discouraged by the school’s emphasis on business. After last night, though, I’m a changed woman. I’ve never felt more proud to be a member of my school’s (that’s right, my school) liberal arts department and a part of such a passionate group of people who I had the pleasure of mingling with for the first time in far too long.
Adrian Nicole Leblanc, this semester’s Harmon Writer-in-Residence, spoke volumes about herself in the first few seconds of her conversation with the crowd of faculty, fans, and budding journalists and writers who attended her reading and conversation.
After a praising introduction by Baruch’s own Christopher Hallowell and Roslyn Bernstein, who charmingly played on the school’s slogan “Baruch Means Business” by presenting a beautiful “twaiku” dedicated to the unsung heros of the liberal arts, Leblanc humbly thanked them for the sentiments and admitted that she feels the praise is often misplaced and doesn’t know how to respond to those who compliment her so generously. Her expressions and her words immediately won me over. The two hours I dreaded sitting through flew by and I was left wishing there were more time to hear her speak and to enjoy her rapport with the crowd that she seemed so grateful to be standing before.
Unfortunately, I’ve only read excerpts of her book Random Family, but if I needed any push to read it in its entirety, meeting her would have done the trick. After listening intently to her journalistic process and the depth of her involvement and dedication to her subjects, I took the time (and missed my bus) to thank Leblanc (to her surprise, which I found all the more respectable) for inspring me to follow through with my goals, and I’d do the same a thousand times.
I’ve always wanted to be a regular somewhere; one of those people who can walk into a restaurant and have everybody know my name (cliché, I know) and my order. After years of tasting disappointing food and meeting my fair share of creepy people who I’d rather not have remember my name, I’ve finally found my place, Dominick’s Bakery Cafe. It’s nestled on the corner of one of the busiest streets in Staten Island, but everything slows down inside.
As soon as I walk in off of New Dorp Lane and through the brick entrance and flowing black and white curtains, I find my first prize for having dodged the loonies lurking outside the train station across the street: the smell. Dominick’s is a bakery/restaurant, and the aromas from the kitchen in back, the coffee bar across the small, dimly lit room, and the enormous bakery counter up front are divine.
I usually snap out of my cookie coma just in time to be greeted by a handful of friendly faces. At first I found it strange that these people are always so happy, running around like madmen serving people in this cramped little corner restaurant. The more I came back, though, the more I understood that it’s impossible to be anything but happy here. If everyone were fortunate enough to have a boss as friendly and hard working as Dominick, who makes a point to introduce himself to new patrons and reward his employees with sweet little baked gratuities, a mass of loyal customers, and a sweet smelling and looking environment to work in, there would be a lot less cranky workers out there.
Anyway, once I manage to tear myself away from the bakery counter, only after planning out my dessert and which baked goods I’ll be sending to friends and relatives, and plop myself down at the table closest to the coffee bar, I rarely wait more than a minute before having a big black and white mug (my favorite colors, for the record) of coffee placed down in front of me by yet another smiling waitress. I wave away the menu since I’ve had it memorized since the place opened about a year ago, and I order one of my twenty-or-so favorites.
Now, I may only weigh in at a whopping ninety-eight pounds, but I assure you, I can and do eat quite a bit. Dominick himself has called me a bottomless pit; I take it as a compliment. Most often I’ll tackle a huge chicken marsala hero with a salad on the side, followed by a slice of seven layer cake and some black and white cookies for the road.
“Enjoy that metabolism while you can, Sweetie. And keep enjoying it here,” the sweet elderly counter-woman told me last week. I can assure her and all others who may care that I will do just that.
Our big city has come a long way and done a lot of cleaning up over the years. The days of seedy downtown bars, sketchy hole-in-the-wall hangouts, and no-good trouble-seekers roaming the streets are turning into distant memories.
Gory horror flicks are largely just memorabilia now, as they’ve made way for docu-dramas about teen pop idols and unfortunate remakes of past successes. Luckily for you seedy, sketchy, no-good trouble-seekers, though, there’s still a time and place for everything.
The New York City Horror Film Festival, running ten years strong, brings together the enthusiastic gore-seekers of New York City and beyond for five days each October to pay homage to the best in the business; new and established, young and old, big-budget and broke. Festival director Michael Hein started the event in 2001 with the goal of creating a serious genre-based film festival that would attract serious industry attendance and provide exposure and recognition for filmmakers, directors, producers, and actors.
Hein, a seasoned producer, director, special effects makeup artist and horror/sci-fi enthusiast, hoped to create an atmosphere not only for film screenings and judging, but also for networking opportunities.
“I wanted filmmakers to be seen, not just by the horror fans, but also by people who actually buy movies for distribution.”
With loads of work and dedication (“a labor of love,” as he puts it) on the parts of Hein, his friends and family, and sponsors and staff, his brainchild was born and met with eager excitement from horror-fanatics even outside of its home of New York City. Now approaching its ten-year anniversary, the NYCHFF has become exactly what its creators hoped for: a creative outlet for a vast array of filmmakers, a place for industry members to meet and make connections, and a great gathering for horror lovers from around the world to enjoy some brilliant, gory fun. Hein adds, “Having a full bar and lounge right inside the venue doesn’t hurt the constant party atmosphere either.”
Were the enthusiastic crowd and staff not enough, the NYCHFF also features an impressive judge panel line up. While the judges change each year, the panel always consists of film industry workers or genre-based journalists.
The 2010 festival panel featured well-known figures in the horror film scene such as Robert Englund aka Freddy Krueger of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Tony Todd, better known as the Candyman, and the managing editor of Fangoria Magazine Michael Gingold.
Each of the approximately 500 short and feature films and 100+ screenplays submitted to the festival each year are judged on a ten-point system in nine categories: Best Feature Film, Best Short Film, Best Cinematography, Best Special Effects, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Submitted Screenplay, Best Screened Screenplay, and Audience Choice. The screening of the films is essentially a party, a gathering of friends and an awesome place to make new ones, and the films, while not all award-worthy, deliver just what the audience is looking for: fresh blood, quite literally.
Each year brings a greater number of submissions and new names and faces from all over the world. For any eager amateur filmmakers, no matter the budget or level of experience, this festival is a great place to put work out for some of the best eyes in the industry to see and to network with others. As Hein assures, “It’s not about your budget, it’s what you did with what you had!”
One horror buff and festival fan, Steve Kelly, speaks about the upcoming festival with the excitement of a kid anxiously awaiting Santa’s yearly visit. “There’s just no words for the mix of people, the atmosphere, the music, the movies, it’s just a crazy ride. You can walk up to your horror idol from the ‘80s and give him a hug, and he’ll talk to you like you’re old friends. It’s nuts.”
If you’re a fellow horror-freak thirsty for some fresh ideas and faces, or just a curious newcomer looking for a good time with an eclectic group of people, keep up to date on “gory details” of the NYCHFF on their website and Facebook page, and come through in October for the tenth annual festival.
I’m a firm believer that all people should be psychologically evaluated before being deemed fit to be parents, not once the children are old enough to have faced the effects of those who would not have passed in the first place. Andrea Arnold’s short film, Wasp, only strengthens this belief.
In a mere twenty-six minute time frame, Arnold packed this film with emotional turmoil and controversial issues. As Zoë, a young and obviously unfit mother, faces the struggle many single parents face, the loss of their social lives, I could only hold myself back from jumping through the screen and shaking her for making her four young children, one only an infant, pay the price for her needs.
Early in the film, it’s almost as if Zoë herself is trying to prove to the audience that she is a good mother by defending her daughter against the woman that harmed her. Noble? I think not. While it’s obviously not acceptable for a grown woman to physically harm a child, that act is nothing compared to the harm Zoë has done to her own children. Emotional and psychological pains are real, and last longer than any physical scar.
The trail of events leading up to Zoë finally realizing that a good mother is not one that leaves her children outside of a bar while she attempts to recapture her youth left me with my own little emotional scar. To see children, actors or not, in such a dangerous situation and knowing that they will be in the care of such a lowlife in this fictional world even once the credits roll is torture.
The film was so real, so tragically believable, that I couldn’t help but accept it as reality and worry for the safety of the children (and shed a tear for children who aren’t just playing the part in a film). While it ended on a note of calm relief, which for the children was simply the fact that they were given a meal and a ride home, I was left with an extremely unsettling, even queasy feeling; a feeling very few films have been able to draw out of me.
I can’t help but feel that the audience was meant to feel sorry for this young woman, or at least pity her plight as a single mother who has hit rock bottom and applaud her as her maternal instincts kicked in, but I could not have felt less sympathy for her. Rather, I applaud Arnold for being able to so accurately portray such a dreary world that is sadly not far from reality for many people.
Many movie-goers today are cynical, pessimistic; constantly seeking the destruction of metropolises and hopeless hearts being broken. We do, however, still need the occasional light-hearted take on an unfortunate situation. Director Ian Barnes and writer Tom Bidwell brought this to fruition in Wish 143, a short film focusing on a terminally ill teenager’s wish to lose his virginity before it is too late, and my personal favorite short of the Oscar nominees.
While there is an obvious air of gloom and doom because of the setting, the pediatrics ward of a hospital, and the main character’s situation, a downhill battle with cancer, the filmmakers took a more whimsical approach to presenting his plight, and created a fabulously believable mindset of a teenage boy approaching the end of his life. The muted colors and dim lighting reminds viewers of the seriousness of the situation, but the dialog, mostly the unconventional quips of the lead, David, keeps it from dipping too low into morbidity. When approached by the British equivalent of the Make a Wish Foundation, David matter-of-factly writes down that he wishes to lose his virginity, to the distress of the wish-giver. The mix of sex-talk, the sinking realization of David’s pending fate, and the setting of a kiddie table in the pediatrics ward play room makes for a scene too awkward for words and perfect for some uncomfortable laughs.
As the film goes on, we see that David’s wish is fueled by more than just raging teenage hormones, but the desire to become a man before it’s too late, and to have the chance to really be close to a woman. The desperation sets off a tragic stream of events sprinkled with humor to keep the tears at bay. His unlikely accomplice in fulfilling his wish, Father Carter, works tirelessly to counter David’s irrational plans to make his wish come true, and eventually puts aside his beliefs and sets up a safe and secure way for David to reach his goal.
Not surprisingly, David reacts with fear and uncertainty when faced with the opportunity to fulfill his wish. Rather than acting out the moment of passion he’s had in his head for years, he is hit with the realization of all circumstances leading to this point, and curls up in the arms of the call girl, desperate for comfort. This heart-wrenching scene is not broken with humor, for good reason. It made for an extremely real, raw show of emotions and a believable response on all characters’ parts.
The end of the twenty-four-minute emotional rollercoaster brings us back from the brink of depression with David’s positive attitude, and the comforting presence of Father Carter. Some banter about their shortcomings over a light-hearted session of skeet shooting is an uneasy reminder that all is not well and things have not gone the way David wished, but leaves us with a feeling that he has found some kind of inner peace in realizing that he can’t control his fate or force himself to mature at a certain pace.
Wish 143 was on the verge of heartbreaking, but managed to keep the pieces together with some much-needed laughter. It didn’t seem forced, though. The mood followed David’s journey accurately; airy and awkward at first, sad and uneasy through his trials, and finally relieving and light again as David accepted his circumstance.
Reflecting on the day of the screening of the Oscar Nominated Short Films, I need to remind myself that I did actually see the short films, that I made it to the theater and sat perfectly still for about two hours, safe and exactly where I was meant to be.
With hours to spare between the end of our first class of the day and the 2:30 p.m. start time of the short films, a friend and classmate of mine, Izabella, and I took our sweet time to get a move on. We bonded over Press wraps and coffee, sharing personal stories and people-watching for more time than the five short films would elapse.
With about an hour to spare, and Izabella’s trusty new iPhone leading the way, we departed from our 23rd Street comfort zone and were off into the city we all pretend to know better than we actually do. The first half of the trip was a success; the whole ten minutes it took to walk to the 6 train and get off at Bleecker Street, that is.
But then, dun dun dun…
We waited impatiently for a train that we were not positive was the correct one to arrive, in a station filled with sights and smells that reminded me of my humble Staten Island roots. After about ten minutes, we joked that it would never come, that it was a sign that we were waiting for the wrong train; we should have followed that sign. Finally, our chariot arrived and we eagerly jumped aboard, looking as out of place as we felt, outsiders among the Village-ers.
Among muffled conductor-isms, Izabella managed to make out a string of words which she translated to me as, “Get up right now, we’re going to Brooklyn!” I didn’t wait for an explanation.
Now, I’m not shy to admit that I rarely know my way around, but I am a stubborn fool when it comes to asking for help, a quality that I share with Izabella. Needless to say, we were screwed when we emerged from the murky underground to a slew of signs and posters in Chinese.
I feel no loss of pride by jumping in a cab and calling it quits, and I was not about to wander around China Town, if that’s even where we were, for the remaining 15 minutes we had until the beginning of the films, so I dragged Izabella to the first cab I could find and we set off on the ten minute drive to our real destination, the IFC theater, which we were clearly incapable of finding on our own.
I’d never been so happy to fork over fourteen bucks for a movie ticket. I triumphantly climbed the steps to the stuffy little Theater 2 and settled into my seat, safe and sound. Nothing could make me budge, not even my nagging craving for the popcorn all of my classmates were raving about.
So, if you get caught somewhere between 23rd Street and the IFC Theater, close your eyes, click your heels together, and hail a damn cab.