This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


that independents

Who: The Unbearables, Great Weather for Media, InDigest, Seven Stories Press, Three Rooms Press
What: The Monthly @ Cornelia Street Cafe, hosted by Peter Carlaftes & Kat Georges
Where: Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia St. between Bleecker & West Fouth Sts.
When: Friday, July 3, $8 (includes a free drink), 6:00
Why: “It’s a strange time in the world of publishing,” writes Three Rooms Press cofounder Kat Georges on her company’s website. “The giant publishers continue to merge. Independent bookstores continue the struggle to keep their doors open. New technology has made it easy for authors to publish their own books. Yet, somehow, independent publishers are thriving. . . . If one thing unites the small presses, it is their dedication to their unique vision.” You can find out more about that unique vision on July 3, when five small presses come together at the Cornelia Street Cafe to discuss their publishing philosophy and present some of their authors to read from their work. Thomas Jefferson would be proud.


Zanele Muholi (South African, b. 1972). Faces and Phases installed at dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany, 2012. (Photo: © Anders Sune Berg)

Zanele Muholi, “Faces and Phases,” installed at dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany, 2012 (photo © Anders Sune Berg)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, June 6, free, 5:00 - 11:00

The June installment of the Brooklyn Museum’s free First Saturday program celebrates LGBTQ Pride, with live performances by the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, Aye Nako, DJ Lynnee Denise, DJ Ilsa, and Junglepussy with DJ Joey Labeija; an exhibition talk by Jess Wilcox on “Zanele Muholi: Isibonelo/Evidence” and ten-minute pop-up gallery talks about “Diverse Works: Director’s Choice, 1997–2015”; a flag-making workshop; a poetry performance by Dark Matter (Alok Vaid-Menon and Janani Balasubramanian); a literary workshop with bklyn boihood, focusing on its upcoming publication, Outside the XY; screenings of Seyi Adebanjo’s 2013 documentary, Trans Lives Matter! Justice for Islan Nettles, followed by a talkback with the director, and Dan Sickles & Antonio Santini’s 2014 film, Mala Mala, followed by a talkback with the directors and cast memebers Paxx and Joyce Puty; and a tribute to retiring museum director Arnold Lehman, with reflections and performances by DapperQ, Visual Aids, Harriett’s Apothecary, Haiti Cultural Exchange, CaribBEING, Afrika 21/Harriet’s Alter Ego, and Balmir Latin Dance. In addition, you can check out such exhibitions as “Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks,” “Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic,” “Kara Walker: ‘African Boy Attendant Curio (Bananas),’” and “Chitra Ganesh: Eyes of Time.”


brooklyn spaces

Who: Oriana Leckert, Hungry March Band, Morgan O’Kane, Batala NYC, Stefan Zeniuk, DJ Dirtyfinger, the Artist Formerly Known as Anya Sapozhnikova and others from House of YES, Dani Leigh & Demi Fyrce of Big Sky Works
What: Book party celebrating the launch of Brooklyn Spaces: 50 Hubs of Culture and Creativity (Monacelli Press, May 19, $29.95)
Where: Gowanus Ballroom, 55 Ninth St.
When: Saturday, May 30, free (suggested donation $10), 7:00 - late
Why: In her new book expanded from her popular website, Brooklyn Spaces, Oriana Leckert selects fifty of the most unusual and fascinating places in Brooklyn, documenting, as she writes in the introduction, “the Brooklyn I know, the Brooklyn that is mine, the Brooklyn that endlessly inspires me with its passion, innovation, and experimentation.” On May 30, Leckert will host a crazy-mad book party at the Gowanus Ballroom, one of the locations detailed in the book. “One of the most perfect representations of a Brooklyn underground arts space, the Gowanus Ballroom succeeds beautifully at artistic exhibition, cultural advancement, and creative commerce, all within a gorgeously strange historic building,” Leckert writes. (Other spots included in the book are Brooklyn Brainery, Flux Factory, the Invisible Dog, the Morbid Anatomy Museum, the Schoolhouse, Superhero Supply Co., and the Swamp.) The all-night book launch will feature art, music, dance, photography, and lots of unpredictable goings-on, selected from other cultural institutions and artist houses singled out in the book.


Judy Blume will be at BEA with her new adult novel, IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT

Judy Blume will be at BEA with her new adult novel, IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
655 West 34th St. (11th Ave. between 34th & 39th Sts.)
BookExpo America: May 27-29, $104-$419
BookCon: May 30-31, $5-$40

The ways we are producing, purchasing, and reading books are changing at lightning speed, but when all is said and done, it’s still primarily about the written word. And that is precisely what you can celebrate at two major events this week. BookExpo America, better known as BEA, will be at the Javits Center May 27-29, the annual convention for book-buying professionals, publishing professionals, and book industry professionals and authors. In addition to hundreds of exhibitors, there is the Global Market Forum: China Pavilion, a special Translation Market, Start Up Alley, and Digital Discovery Zone. BEA is followed immediately by BookCon on May 30-31, two days of panels, signings, and celebrity guests that are open to the general public. Below are highlights, some of which require advance registration and ticketing.

BookExpo America
Wednesday, May 27
Opening Day Spotlight: In Conversation with Jonathan Franzen, moderated by cofounder Laura Miller, Room 1E12/1E13/1E14, 12:30

Autographing Sessions with T. J. English, Alison Weir, Amy Ewing, Mo Willems, John Quiñones, Karin Slaughter, Carol Alt, Al Roker, Rosemary Wells, Bernadette Peters, more

Thursday, May 28
Adult Book & Author Breakfast, with Lee Child, Dyana Nyad, Brandon Stanton, and MC Kunal Nayyar, Special Events Hall, 8:00 am

Autographing Sessions with Anne Ursu, Michelle Zink, Maryrose Wood, Betsy Lewin, Tama Janowitz, Erin Stead, Jon Scieszka, Jesse Eisenberg, Sarah Mlynowski, Claudia Gabel, Gregory Maguire, Carolyn Mackler, Tim Harrington, Ahmet Zappa, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Judah Freidlander, Mary Higgins Clark, Paul Morrissey, Adam Carolla, Jane O’Connor, more

Friday, May 29
Children’s Book & Author Breakfast, with Oliver Jeffers, Rainbow Rowell, James Patterson, and MC Nathan Lane, Special Events Hall, 8:00 am

Meet BEA Young Adult Editors’ Buzz Authors and Meet BEA Middle Grade Editors’ Buzz Authors, BEA Uptown Stage

Autographing Sessions with Kenneth Oppel, Kelley Armstrong, Stuart Gibbs, Jack Gantos, Hamish McKenzie, Scott Westerfeld, Katherine Applegate, Nathan Lane, Linda Fairstein, Kim Harrison, Oliver Jeffers, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Lauren Oliver, Rita Williams-Garcia, Gitty Daneshvari, David Baldacci, Patrick Ness, Meg Cabot, more

APA Author Tea, with Judy Blume, Adriana Trigiani, Jack Gantos, and MC Jacqueline Woodson, Room 1E15/1E16, 3:30

David Duchovny will present his new book, HOLY COW, at BookCon at the Javits Center this week

David Duchovny will present his new book, HOLY COW, at BookCon at the Javits Center this week

Saturday, May 30
Mindy Kaling in Conversation with BJ Novak, Special Events Hall, 11:00 am

Marvel Presents: Star Wars, with Jordan White, Charles Soule, and Alex Maleev, Room 1A21, 12:30

Mixed Me: A Discussion with Taye Diggs and Shane Evans, Room 1A10, 1:00

Holy Cow, meet David Duchovny, Macmillan Meeting Room 3139 on the show floor, 2:00

Nick Offerman’s Gumption Revival!, Special Events Hall, 2:30

Aziz Ansari / Modern Romance, Special Events Hall, 4:15

Paper Towns Film Panel, with John Green, Justice Smith, Kathleen Heaney, Michael H. Weber, Nat Wolff, and Ryan Lott, Special Events Hall, 6:00

Autographing Sessions with Paige McKenzie, Sarah Dessen & Gayle Forman, Mac Barnett & Jory John, Meg Cabot, David Baldacci, Marissa Meyer, Nick Offerman & John Hodgman, Lauren Oliver, Tavi Gevinson, Brad Meltzer, Patrick Ness, Calvin L. Reed, more

Sunday, May 31
First in Line Red Carpet Event & Author Breakfast, with E. Lockhart, James Dashner, Jennifer Niven, and Nicola Yoon, Penguin Random House Meeting Room 3205 on the show floor, 10:00 am

We Need Diverse Books Presents Luminaries of Children’s Literature, with Aisha Saeed, David Levithan, I. W. Gregorio, Jacqueline Woodson, Libba Bray, Meg Medina, and Soman Chainani, Room 1A10, 11:15

Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer – Off the Page, Room 1A23, 1:00

John Leguizamo: Ghetto Klown, Downtown Stage, 2:00

Judy Blume in Conversation with Jennifer Weiner, Special Events Hall, 2:30

A Conversation with Brandon Stanton, Creator of Humans of New York, Room 1A21, 3:30

Goosebumps Movie Panel with R.L. Stine, Dylan Minnette, and Ryan Lee, Special Events Hall, 4:15

Autographing Sessions with Charlaine Harris, Matthew Van Fleet, Jacqueline Woodson & Libba Bray, Meg Cabot, R.L. Stine, Judy Blume, Scott Westerfeld, David Levithan, E. Lockhart, Mingmei Yip, Candace Bushnell, Brandon Stanton, Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer, James Dashner, Michael Buckley, more


Michael Buckley’s YA debut, UNDERTOW, is set in Coney Island (photo by Dana Gallagher)

Michael Buckley’s YA debut, UNDERTOW, is set in Coney Island (photo by Dana Gallagher)

163 Court St. between Dean & Pacific Sts.
Tuesday, May 19, free, 7:00

Brooklyn-based author Michael Buckley has gone from writing advertising copy to the text for Macy’s holiday window display to a pair of New York Times bestselling series for middle-grade readers, the Sisters Grimm and N.E.R.D.S. He has now made the leap to YA with Undertow (Houghton Mifflin, May 5, $18.99), the first in a trilogy about an alien race, known as the Alpha, in Coney Island. A tall, gregarious fellow, Buckley, who was born and raised in Ohio, was a stand-up comic, and it shows in his wickedly wry and playful sense of humor. He’s just finishing up a nine-city book tour that took him to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salk Lake City, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Rochester, concluding May 19 in Brooklyn, where he lives with his wife and young son. (He will also be signing at BookCon at booth #2541 at the Javits Center on May 31 at 2:00.) I’ve known Buckley for more than ten years now — his wife and my wife are partners at Stonesong, his literary agency — and it’s been exciting watching his career skyrocket. Just as he returned home from the tour, we discussed Coney Island, migraines, immigration, China, and imaginary friends.

twi-ny: On your blog, you recently wrote, “Undertow is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a whole lot of wishing and risk taking — not only by me but a whole lot of other people.” What were some of those risks?

Michael Buckley: Anytime a writer tries to do something new there’s a risk that their audience is not going to embrace it. For some, a fear of losing their fans can get in the way of growth as an artist, but I don’t do anything because it’s the safe thing to do. I want to try new stories and ways of telling them. I’m blessed to have editors and publishers who are supportive, because it’s not easy on them either. Every time I try something new, it takes a lot of energy by lots of folks to get the word out about it, to find ways to get my readers to give it a chance, and to make sure booksellers get excited about it as well. That’s a lot of long hours at work for everyone. I try not to lose sight of the fact that every risk I take is one I am not taking alone.

twi-ny: In the book, you write very candidly about migraines, which the protagonist, Lyric, suffers from and grades on a scale. Are you writing from personal experience?

MB: Actually, I rarely get headaches at all, but I have friends who get them and from what I understand they can be destructive. I asked a few what it felt like and how they handled it and most of them had different experiences and different strategies that helped them cope. Some have little tricks they do that can fend off a migraine, while others know the stimuli that cause the pain so they can avoid them. I have the utmost sympathy for these people, but I’m also in awe of them, too. There is an incredible amount of bravery and personal strength in people who suffer from migraines. They’re tough people, far tougher than me.

twi-ny: Undertow is set in Coney Island. Prior to writing the book, what was your opinion of Coney Island? Were you a regular visitor?

MB: I’ve been drawn to Coney Island since I moved to NYC in ’96 and have spent many a summer day in Rudy’s Bar or walking on the boardwalk. It’s grungy in the best possible ways — a real people’s amusement park, filled with faces from every corner of the world. I also worked in documentary films earlier in my life and researched Coney Island’s glorious history. It was once the biggest tourist attraction in the world until the original park burned to the ground in 1911.

twi-ny: What do you think about the changes going on there these past few years?

MB: I like some of the things that are happening down there now — the Cyclones’ ballpark is spectacular, and some of the new rides are fun, but it’s important to me that the park stays affordable. It’s getting a bit too expensive in my opinion, especially for the people who live in that neighborhood. I hope the city and the investors are considering the community.


twi-ny: The story in Undertow is an apt metaphor for the current heated debate over immigration in America. Where do you stand on that issue? I gather you’re not hiding much by giving the female politician most against the Alpha the last name Bachmann. Then again, you also give an ultra-right-wing conservative pundit the last name Rifkin.

MB: America is an amazing place to live, so no one should be surprised when people want to come here. We’ve also got a giant statue in New York Harbor that asks the world to send us “your huddled masses yearning to be free.” I mean, if we’re not going to welcome the world to this country, then let’s take the statue down — it’s false advertising. I think it’s hypocritical — we’re either welcoming them with open arms or we’re not. It’s not like we don’t have the room. There are plenty of places to live in the US. Have you ever been to North Dakota? Fifteen people live there! As for the Bachmann name, that could be purely coincidental. I mean . . . the character in my book is clearly insane and manipulative. She’s also a moron. Who could that be? [As far as that other name,] I’m not sure whom you’re referring to . . . ahem.

twi-ny: Undertow has elements of a number of science-fiction movies, from Alien Nation to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Did any specific films or books either influence or inspire Undertow?

MB: I was wildly inspired by District 9. That movie blew me away — not because it was a film about aliens, but rather that it felt real to me. I have no doubt that if an alien species crash-landed here and could not fly away, we would put them in a camp with a big fence around it. I was inspired by books as well. The Outsiders was a huge influence.

twi-ny: Your previous series, the Sisters Grimm and N.E.R.D.S., were for middle-grade readers. With Undertow, did you consciously set out to write a YA trilogy, or did it just happen that way?

MB: Undertow is the first young adult novel I have written and it was daunting. I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. First, the themes and ideas in a YA book are far more complicated than in middle-grade books. You can explore ideas and feelings in a way that you can’t when writing for a younger audience, and I had never really had the opportunity to try it. To prepare, I gave myself a sort of master’s in young adult literature, reading everything I could get my hands on, then interviewing some of the authors behind the books I loved the most to find out what they thought was important for the readers, how to write a teenage girl, how far to go with adult themes — they were true friends and mentors to me. When I felt like I understood YA, and more importantly, when I realized I loved YA, that’s when I knew it was time to give it a try.

twi-ny: You’ll be at BookCourt on May 19 in Brooklyn, where you live. Is it exciting to come home, or is a book tour all just a big blur?

MB: Book tours can be both exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. I get to meet fans and booksellers and teachers and librarians and occasionally other authors, so that part is always fun, but getting up early and racing to airports and forgetting what your rental car looks like — well, there’s a million stories there. I’m excited to finally have an event here in Brooklyn. BookCourt has always been a great supporter of what I do and it’s a fantastic indie shop that really knows what people like to read.

twi-ny: Do you have anything special planned for the event?

MB: We’re going to throw a little shindig with some mermaid cupcakes and a little wine for the grown-ups. I’m hoping to see a lot of faces both familiar and new.

twi-ny: You’ve also contributed the story “Mr. Shocky” to Jon Scieszka’s sixth Guys Read volume, Terrifying Tales, and you’ll be signing copies of the book later this month at BEA. How did that come about?

MB: Jon is one of the leaders in getting boys to read, which is sometimes a complicated endeavor. He’s done a few of these Guys Read books in the past, but this was the first one in which I was able to contribute. I was thrilled to be able to write something scary — another new thing I’d never tried. I’m very excited to see how people react to it. Everyone involved has said my story is one of the scariest they’ve read.

twi-ny: I agree; it’s tremendously scary. It deals with a boy and his imaginary friend; did you ever have an imaginary friend growing up?

MB: I had an imaginary friend, but then he met another imaginary friend, and they both stopped hanging out with me. That’s sad. Wait, that could be a great story!

twi-ny: You recently got back from a trip to China with your wife and son. What was that experience like?

MB: China is nothing like I expected. Growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, during the Cold War, we were taught to fear all things Communism, and I had heard a lot of stories about China that turned out to be nonsense. What I saw was a vibrant, exciting country filled with amazing architecture and food and art. The people were friendly and kind and there was very little of the “police state” I was led to believe existed. In fact, if you ask me, they could use more police. Everyone drives like a maniac there! I can’t wait to go back.

twi-ny: Do people ever confuse you with so-called “Internet Celebrity” Michael Buckley of The What the Buck Show?

MB: I do get confused with him all the time and even get some of his fan mail. We connected on twitter awhile back. He gets some of my fan mail, too. I’ve become a fan of his — he’s hilarious, but every once in a while someone puts a picture up of him when they should have put a picture of me. Then, it’s not so funny — lol.


The mad rush for New York Comic Con begins on May 13, when tickets go on sale for the October event (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The mad rush for New York Comic Con begins on May 13, when tickets go on sale for the October event (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Who: Spotlight Guests Jewel Staite, John Rhys-Davies, Adam Hughes, Chris Claremont, Greg Capullo, Masashi Kishimoto, Scott Snyder, Todd McFarlane, and John Rhys-Davies, Featured Guests Allison Sohn, Amy Reeder, Charles Soule, Terry Dodson, and many, many more to be announced
What: New York Comic Con
Where: Javits Center, 655 W 34th St. at 12th Ave.
When: October 8-11, single day $40-$50, three-day pass $75, four-day pass $105, tickets go on sale Wednesday, May 13, at 12 noon
Why: New York Comic Con continues its exponential growth as it reaches its tenth anniversary, making it harder and harder to get tickets, so there’s no time to waste if you want to go to the annual celebration of pop culture, with particular focuses on gaming, science fiction and fantasy books and films, anime, and all things comic-book-related. The four days, part of New York Super Week, are chock full of panel discussions, sneak-peek screenings, photo and autograph opportunities, book signings, and tons and tons of costumed fans. It’s getting so that those who come dressed in regular clothes are the minority. Tickets will go very quickly, so get yours now; don’t wait around until the big-time celebrity attendees are announced, as there will be plenty of major stars there to promote their latest work and smile for the camera with you.


Edgy Moms

Edgy Moms will gather together on May 12 at the Old Stone House to read their manifesto and other writings about mothers and motherhood (photo courtesy OTBKB)

Who: Julia Fierro, Lisa Gornick, Stephanie Thompson, Sophia Romero, Sean Grover, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Louise Crawford
What: Tenth annual “Edgy Moms” literary gathering, presented by Brooklyn Reading Works
Where: The Old Stone House, 336 Third St. between Fourth & Fifth Aves. in Washington Park, Park Slope, 718-768-3195
When: Tuesday, May 12, $10 suggested donation, 8:00
Why: They’re not just moms — they’re moms on the edge. Well, actually, they’re Edgy Moms, and they’ll be celebrating their tenth anniversary on May 12 at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn, where they will share their writings about mothers and motherhood. As always, the event, curated by Louise Crawford and Sophia Romero, will start off with a reading of the Edgy Moms Manifesto, which was written by founder and OTBKB (Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn) blogger Crawford and which explains what makes someone an Edgy Mom: “She’s feisty and fun and a little bit zany. She whines to her friends and can be a bit of a martyr. She fantasizes about taking long trips without her children, and getting a room of her own on Block Island with a computer and a view of the sea. She lets her kids have dessert before dinner, reheated pizza for breakfast. . . . She’s afraid she’s ruined her kids somehow. That everything is her fault. If only she’d followed those expert books. Or even read them. . . .” Among the patron saintesses of Edgy Moms are Lucille Ball, Melissa Etheridge, the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, Lenore Skenazy, Maya Angelou, and Marge Simpson. Happy Mother’s Day to all!