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


Fantasy Grandma Jane B will be joined by FG Myrtle J  and lots of other pickle lovers at annual celebration on the Lower East Side

Fantasy Grandma Jane B will be joined by FG Myrtle J and lots of other pickle lovers at annual celebration on the Lower East Side

Orchard St. between Houston & Delancey Sts.
Sunday, October 4, free, 12 noon - 5:00 pm

Ambrose Bierce once said that life is “a spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay.” That quote takes on a whole new meaning at the annual Lower East Side Pickle Day, being held on Sunday, October 4, on Orchard St. The afternoon festivities will include a Pickle Relay Race, the always popular Pickle Toss, the Pickle Pooch Parade and Contest, a Home Pickling Contest, Pin the Pickle (we’re not sure what on), a Brine Dunk Tank, bocce, face painting, a Pickle Photo Booth, and lots of pickle merch. The303 at Louie & Chan is presenting live performances by Kristin Lush at 12 noon, PJ at 1:00, SR Serge at 2:00, Nikodemus at 3:00, and Gil K at 4:00. Among the participating eateries are Melt Bakery, Georgia’s BBQ, Russ and Daughters, Sweet Buttons, Kapowski’s, Shi Eurasia, the Meatball Shop, Mission Cantina, Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya, Langos Truck, Khao Man Gai NY, and Pop Karma, as well as eighteen pickle vendors, from Brooklyn Brine, McClure’s, Doctor Pickle, and Pickle Me Pete to Rick’s Picks, Adamah, Divine Brine, and, of course, Guss’. Pickles have a long affiliation with the Lower East Side, and the annual Pickle Day only adds to that pickled history.


taste of battery park

Brookfield Place
200 Vesey St. across West St.
Sunday, October 4, $25 in advance, $35 day of event, 12 noon - 3:00 pm

Big changes have been taking place down at Brookfield Place and Battery Park, so they have joined up to celebrate their growing culinary community with Taste of Battery Park, a benefit fundraiser for PS89, also known as Liberty School. From 12 noon to 3:00, people can wander around the waterfront marina at Brookfield Place and sample signature dishes from seventeen local eateries: Le District, Parm, Dos Toros Taqueria, Blue Ribbon Sushi, Tartinery, Northern Tiger, El Vez, Shake Shack, North End Grill, Financier Patisserie, Harry’s Italian, Atrio, P.J. Clarke’s, François Payard Bakery, Blue Smoke, Le Pain Quotidien, and Sprinkles. A $25 advance ticket gets you five tastings. (The tickets go up to $35 if purchased on Sunday.) There will also be a raffle, a Kids Corner with family friendly activities, and live music by PS89 students at 1:00 and TriBattery Pops at 2:00.


A TOUCH OF ZEN is a trippy journey toward enlightenment

King Hu’s A TOUCH OF ZEN is a trippy journey toward enlightenment

Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Monday, October 5, 9:00
Festival runs through October 11

Watching King Hu’s 1969 wuxia classic, A Touch of Zen, brings us back to the days of couching out with Kung Fu Theater on rainy Saturday afternoons. The highly influential three-hour epic features an impossible-to-figure-out plot, a goofy romance, wicked-cool weaponry, an awesome Buddhist monk, a bloody massacre, and action scenes that clearly involve the overuse of trampolines. Still, it’s great fun, even if it is way too long. (The film, which was initially shown in two parts, earned a special technical prize at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival.) Shih Jun stars as Ku Shen Chai, a local calligrapher and scholar who is extremely curious when the mysterious Ouyang Nin (Tin Peng) suddenly show up in town. It turns out that Ouyang is after Miss Yang (Hsu Feng) to exact “justice” for the corrupt Eunuch Wei, who is out to kill her entire family. Hu (Come Drink with Me, Dragon Gate Inn) fills the film with long, poetic establishing shots of fields and the fort, using herky-jerky camera movements (that might or might not have been done on purpose) and throwing in an ultra-trippy psychedelic mountain scene that is about as 1960s as it gets. A Touch of Zen is ostensibly about Ku’s journey toward enlightenment, but it’s also about so much more, although we’re not completely sure what that is. The film is screening on October 5 at 9:00 as part of the fifty-third New York Film Festival’s Revivals sidebar, which continues through October 11 with Akira Kurosawa’s Ran and Manoel de Oliveira’s Visit, or Memories and Confessions.


1040 Grand Concourse at 167th St.
Friday, October 2, free, 6:00 - 10:00

Ten years ago, the Bronx Museum partnered with Full Circle Prod Inc. to promote B-girl culture, leading to, among other things, East Harlem-raised pioneering break dancer Ana “Rokafella” Garcia’s 2010 documentary on female hip-hop culture, All the Ladies Say. On October 2, the Bronx Museum and Rokafella are teaming up again with a special free First Fridays! presentation celebrating the fifth anniversary of the film. The evening will include performances by Lah Tere and Queen Godis from Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen and DJ KS360, live painting by Lady K Fever, and a dance-off between Brooklyn B-girl Mantis and Connecticut B-girl N’tegrity. The event starts at 6:00, but be sure to get there early to check out the excellent exhibit “¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York” and the new show “Trees Are Alphabets.”


(photo by James Ewing)

Laurie Anderson’s latest project is a dazzling immersive installation at Park Avenue Armory (photo by James Ewing)

Park Ave. Armory
643 Park Ave. between 66th & 67th Sts.
October 2-4, installation viewing $15 (12 noon - 7:00), concerts $45 (8:00)
habeas corpus slideshow

With “Habeas Corpus,” multimedia artist Laurie Anderson has taken a very serious topic, the seven-year incarceration of an innocent fourteen-year-old in Guantanamo, and turned it into a stunning celebration of freedom and the indomitability of the human spirit. In 2001, Mohammed el Gharani, a Chadian raised in Saudi Arabia, was arrested in Karachi while praying in a mosque a few days after September 11. He spent the next seven years being tortured in prison until lawyer Clive Stafford Smith and his Reprieve organization finally got him a trial, and U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon granted his writ of habeas corpus and ordered his release in 2009. Anderson and el Gharani have collaborated on “Habeas Corpus,” an immersive audiovisual installation at Park Avenue Armory, but it’s about a lot more than just el Gharani’s grueling personal journey. “It’s a work about words, story, place,” Anderson said at a preview earlier this week. She pointedly noted that it asks the question “Where is America?” Near the back of the vast Wade Thompson Drill Hall, Anderson has built a sculpture that approximates the Lincoln Memorial, a giant white chair on which she has sculpted el Gharani’s body, as if his ghost is sitting there (while evoking the twelfth president, who delivered the Emancipation Proclamation). From October 2 to 4, a full-color el Gharani will be remotely projected onto the work from a studio in West Africa, where he lives; he is unable to be in New York in person because his imprisonment at Guantanamo bars his entry to the United States, despite his innocence. An amiable man who Anderson says “would make a great talk show host,” el Gharani will sit motionless in the chair every day from 12 noon to 7:00, projected live, but he will take a break once an hour, when prerecorded stories he tells about his time at Guantanamo will be shown, dealing with torture as well as developing close, important friendships.

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Mohammed el Gharani takes a moment while recalling his time at Guantanamo (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Upon entering the hall, visitors step into a dark world lit by the glow of el Gharani in the chair as well as swirling lights emanating from a disco ball that causes immediate disorientation. Balance becomes precarious as you teeter toward the sculpture of el Gharani and the chair. But there’s also something exhilarating about it as you forge ahead through the loss of equilibrium. (Long strips of cardboard are provided if you need to take a seat or lie down, and you very well might have to.) Meanwhile, a droning guitar feedback score composed by Anderson’s late husband, Lou Reed, is played by his guitar tech, Stewart Hurwood, on a platform near the front that appears to be moving but is not, presenting yet another illusion, and nearby some of el Gharani’s words flash by on a wall like a ticker tape of memory and crackly snippets of military radio transmissions emanate from covered speakers. It all makes for a dizzying yet thrilling experience that delves into the nature of torture, identity, surveillance, borders, technology, personal responsibility, fighting injustice, and the very future of civilization. Make sure to allow yourself a few hours when you come to the armory in order to really absorb “Habeas Corpus”; walk around it (very carefully), contemplate its multiple meanings, meditate on its messages, and just enjoy the sheer spectacle of it. If you’re lucky, you might get a chance to walk right up to el Gharani and smile or wave at him, and he’ll smile and wave back; he’s been loving the direct interaction with the public. Also, look out for the cellist who occasionally wanders through the crowd, and that violin you hear just might be Anderson playing live, improvising with the cellist and Hurwood. Each night, Anderson will be joined by Syrian musician Omar Souleyman, Pakistani American performer Shahzad Ismaily, the Oakland-based Merrill Garbus (aka tUnE-yArDs), Hurwood, and surprise guests for what Anderson promises will be “a great dance party.” In addition, in the Mary Divver Room, el Gharani shares some of his stories in a short documentary, talking about his friend Shaker Aamer, the construction of Camp 5, how he taught himself English, and imploring Obama to keep his promise and close Guantanamo. He tells his tales very directly, not seeking sympathy or complaining about what happened to him but instead hopeful there will be positive change in the world. And Anderson’s “From the Air,” a monologue about her dog, Lolabelle, and 9/11, plays in the Colonel’s Room, projected onto miniature sculptures of chairs on which tiny versions of Anderson and her dog sit; the text (which is not the lyrics from her 1982 song of the same name) is also part of her new seventy-five-minute film, Heart of a Dog, which will screen at the New York Film Festival on October 8, with Anderson at the Walter Reade Theater to discuss the work.


(photo by Jason Akira Somma)

Jack Ferver channels Lady Gaga and Jean Genet in brilliant CHAMBRE (photo by Jason Akira Somma)

New Museum Theater
235 Bowery at Prince St.
Installation: through October 4
Performances: October 1-2, 7:00, October 3, 3:00 & 7:00, October 4, 3:00, $15

Writer, actor, dancer, and choreographer Jack Ferver holds nothing back in his electrifying, emotionally charged performances. In his latest piece, Chambre, he took things to the next level, literally bleeding for his art. In a climactic moment during the work’s official New York City premiere last week at the New Museum, Ferver put his hand through a window in Marc Swanson’s set, shattering the glass and apparently cutting his palm. At first the audience was uncertain, wondering if it was part of the show or just more artifice. Ferver has an innate knack for pushing audiences into bouts of uncomfortable laughter and challenging them to separate the real from the imagined, fact from fantasy. Blood seemed to well on his palm, and his fellow performers, Michelle Mola and Jacob Slominski, very carefully navigated around the sea of glass shards on the floor; the mystery of whether it was real or staged continued into a closing monologue in which a diva-like Ferver complained about barely being able to afford health insurance. Not until later that night did it become clear that it was indeed accidental when Ferver posted a photograph of the broken window on Facebook and publicly apologized to Swanson. But it all fit in rather well with the work itself, a slyly playful and inventive reimagining of Jean Genet’s The Maids, which itself was inspired by the true story of two sisters, Christine and Léa Papin, who perpetrated a horrific crime in France in 1933. At the beginning of Chambre, ticket holders can walk around Swanson’s set, which includes unfinished walls, windows, mirrors, a rack of white dresses (designed by Reid Bartelme), and three statues representing the main characters. After the statues are moved out of the way, Ferver emerges in a glittering, glamorous gold-chained outfit and, with the audience still gathered around him, delivers a deliciously wicked monologue taken verbatim from a bitter deposition Lady Gaga gave in 2013 when being sued by a former personal assistant. It’s a classic celebrity rant: “I’m quite wonderful to everybody that works for me, and I am completely aghast to what a disgusting human being that you have become to sue me like this,” Ferver spits out venomously into a microphone.

(photo by Jason Akira Somma)

Jacob Slominski and Jack Ferver take role-playing to a new level in immersive presentation at the New Museum (photo by Jason Akira Somma)

Meanwhile, the audience can watch him, as well as themselves, in a large horizontal mirror hung from the ceiling behind white-draped rows of seats, multiplying the number of visible Fervers, who is not attacking Lady Gaga as much as celebrity culture. It’s also a terrific lead-in for the role-playing done by Ferver as Christine and Jacob as Léa, mocking how they are treated by Madame (Mola), exaggerating how the wealthy take advantage of and abuse the poor. “I know you are necessary, like ditch diggers and construction workers are necessary, but I hate having to see you,” Slominski-as-Léa-as-Madame says. But soon the sisters take their revenge, doing what so many only fantasize about doing to the rich and privileged. “I’m surprised things like this don’t happen more often,” Ferver says shortly after the opening soliloquy. Eventually, the audience gets to sit down and experience Chambre in a more traditional arrangement, although there’s very little that’s traditional about the thoroughly engaging and entertaining production, which also features a subtly ominous score by Roarke Menzies. Ferver examines class division, sibling rivalry, gender, and the “monetization of performance” as only he can, with a wickedly potent sense of humor loaded with hard-to-swallow truths. In his introduction to Genet’s The Maids and Deathwatch, Jean-Paul Sartre writes, “For Genet, theatrical procedure is demoniacal. Appearance, which is constantly on the point of passing itself off as reality, must constantly reveal its profound unreality. Everything must be so false that it sets our teeth on edge.” Ferver (Rumble Ghost, Night Light Bright Light,), Swanson, Slominski, Mola, and Menzies set our teeth and more on edge with the seriously funny Chambre, which continues at the New Museum through October 3 as part of FIAF’s Crossing the Line festival, an apt name for Ferver’s fiendishly clever work.



Japan Society is presenting thirtieth-anniversary screening of rarely shown Okinawan gem PARADISE VIEW

Japan Society
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
Friday, October 2, $12, 7:00

Japan Society has picked a real gem for its October Monthly Classics presentation, writer-director Gō Takamine’s rarely shown wry black comedy, Paradise View. The thirtieth anniversary screening is also part of Japan Society’s three-month multidisciplinary program “Okinawan Vibes,” which takes a look at the southern island that was occupied by the American military from 1945 to 1972 and, in many ways, is not exactly Japan’s favorite relation; Okinawans, who have their own heritage of language, culture, and religion, have faced longtime discrimination as Japan’s largest minority group. The film opens with a gorgeous shot (the cinematographer is Takao Toshioka) of ant lover Reishu (yakuza actor Kaoru Kobayashi, not the executed child murderer) on a vast beach, collecting sea salt to make him feel better about life, which is rather bleak for everyone on Okinawa, especially now that the occupation is over. The married Reishu has apparently knocked up local simpleton Chiru (Japanese pop star Jun Togawa); island girl Nabee is breaking tradition by marrying a Japanese teacher, Ito; Bindalay (Yoko Taniyama) is quitting her music group, the Tropical Sisters, to go solo, while being stalked by a former boyfriend who dresses as a samurai; a blind man returns home after losing his second family in the Philippines; blue chickens and rainbow pigs roam the land; Reishu’s dog has developed a liking for goat balls, which make the mutt horny; and poisonous snakes are everywhere, from coffins to amphibious trucks. The wacky cast also includes Shinzoku Ogimi, Tomi Taira, and composer and musician Haruomi Hosono as the dude with the great porn stache. “The Japanese are strange creatures,” one ne’er-do-well says. An elderly woman soon laments, “We’ll all be Japanese soon,” after which the man adds, “I wonder if we’ll just end up as a backwater province.” There’s plenty of backwater strangeness in Okinawa, as short vignettes sweetly portray a collection of oddballs doing very odd things while also remaining intensely concerned about holding on to their souls. “I had a dream that a dog ate Reishu’s spirit, then threw it up. He’s lost his spirit! He’s been spirited away!” a deadpan Chiru says, capturing the essence of Okinawan native Takamine’s (Okinawan Dream Show, Untamagiru) brilliant love letter to his homeland. The Japan Society screening will be followed by a reception with Okinawan beer and snacks. The Monthly Classics film series continues on November 6 with Yoji Yamada’s The Yellow Handkerchief, in tribute to star Ken Takakura, who passed away last November at the age of eighty-three.