Spotted on the northeast corner of Canal and Lafayette in Chinatown.
One day in the life of a pair of Brooklyn teenagers moves beyond their typical routine to mark an emotional turning point in the lives of the two best friends in Naz & Maalik; an engaging new film from screenwriter/director Jay Dockendorf. The film’s dynamic script is based on a first-person account from one of Dockendorf’s former neighbors; a gay Muslim man who revealed his own experience as a teenager living in Brooklyn, at a time when the NYPD and FBI were spying on Muslims across the country. In Bed-Stuy (Bedford Stuyvesant, a heavily African American neighborhood of Brooklyn) in particular, COPs would infiltrate mosques with undercover agents, coerce civilians arrested for petty crimes into becoming informants and conduct door-to-door interviews with Muslim citizens in front of their homes. The overbearing presence of the police created a charged environment, and a similar atmosphere of consistent tension infiltrates this bittersweet coming-of-age story that is expertly directed and acted.
Portrayed by Curtiss Cook Jr. (Maalik) and Kerwin Johnson Jr. (Naz), two young actors both making their feature film debut in these roles, Naz and Maalik spend their days together, earning cash by selling Lotto tickets, Saint cards, candy and scented oils on the streets of their neighborhood, as well as while riding the subway lines. Their faith is also made evident, as they make a stop at a local mosque during their day to pray with the faithful. Their bond of friendship is fast and tight, and, as we learn early on, their relationship has only just taken a romantic turn — something that Naz is way more comfortable with than Maalik. As devout Muslims, their love is forbidden, and it doesn’t help that Maalik’s bratty younger sister has already threatened to “out” the couple to their parents. As if being a teenager wasn’t hard enough.
And then there’s the matter of that FBI agents that starts following the boys’ every move…
As their story unfolds naturally, Naz & Maalik takes on many hot-button issues — racial profiling, religion, sexuality — as the streets and subway trains of Brooklyn advance the backstory of just who these kids are without a need for superfluous narrative dialogue. In fact, to suggest that Brooklyn is also a main character in the film is not out of line.
Naz & Maalik isn’t so much a film about easy resolution as it is about tackling life’s curve balls and trying to stay true to yourself and your beliefs while also embracing the uncertainty of new love. Naz and Maalik are extremely likable characters and their story is both straightforward and nuanced, and highly engaging overall. The film’s original score, also written by Dockendorf is also fantastic. I can’t say enough good things about this film.
After Debuting at NYC’s Cinema Village, Naz & Maalik is currently available via Wolfe on DVD and Video On Demand.
Edward Kienholz, The Friendly Grey Computer — Star Gauge Model #54 Consists of Aluminum painted rocking chair, metal case, instrument boxes with dials, plastic case containing yellow and blue lights, panel with numbers, bell, “rocker switch”, pack of index cards, directions for operation, light switch, telephone receiver, motor, and doll’s legs (All Photos By Gail)
“I really began to understand any society by going through its junk stores and flea markets,” remarked artist Edward Kienholz. “I can see the results of ideas in what is thrown away by a culture.” Here, Kienholz incorporates such discarded materials into a hybrid construction — a machine with human physical traits (such as dial “eyes” and toy doll legs) and emotions. Claiming to interpret language but in fact programmed to emit information randomly, The Friendly Grey Computer (1965) speaks to the faith that we place in technology, despite its obvious limitations. Kienholz intended for viewers to interact with the work and included a set of detailed instructions for operation, as follows:.
Place master switch in the off position. Plug computer into power supply. Print your problem on yellow index card provided in rack. Word your question is such a way that it can be answered by a simple yes or no. IMPORTANT: Next, program computer heads (C-20 and G-30) by setting dials in appropriate positions. You are now ready to start machine.
Throw the master switch to on setting. Red bulb on main housing and white tube on C-20 will light indicating computer is working. Remove Phone from rack and speak your problem into the mouthpiece exactly as you have written it on your index card. Replace phone in rack and ding dinger once. Under NO circumstances should you turn computer off until answer has been returned. Flashing yellow bulb indicates positive answer. Flashing blue bulb indicates negative answer. Green jewel button doesn’t light, so it will not indicate anything.
Computers sometimes get fatigued and have nervous breakdowns, hence the chair for it to rest in. If you know your computer well, you can tell when it’s tired and sort of blue and in a funky mood. If such a condition seems imminent, turn rocker switch on for ten or twenty minutes. Your computer will love it and will work all the harder for you. Remember that if you treat your computer well, it will treat you well. When answer light has stopped flashing, turn master switch to off position. Machine will now recycle for the next question. Repeat procedure from the beginning.
While the work is now in too fragile a condition to permit visitor interaction, the computer is presented here in the on position with its bulbs illuminated, and will be rocked daily.
Ed Kienholz (October 23, 1927 – June 10, 1994) is acknowledged as a pioneer of is now known as installation art and assemblage art. The Friendly Grey Computer was photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
Imagine Pink Floyd’s “Arnold Lane” re-imagined as a lullaby about an Interior Design Firm, and you might come close to this week’s video clip: The High Llamas’ “McKain James.” The song has a fascinating origin story, having been culled from the band’s newest album, Here Come The Rattling Trees, which is the soundtrack to a narrative-driven collection of stories first performed as a theater production. Pretty Cool!
“McKain James” is an album highlight, written from the perspective of the Decorator and centered on a fictional “creative care” company tasked with beautifying the rapidly developing neighborhood of Peckham. Overflowing with alluring musical flourishes and Sean O’ Hagan‘s gentled vocals, “McKain James” is typical of the impeccable arrangements and glistening production charms that unfurl themselves throughout Here Come The Rattling Trees.
For a video to highlight this special number, High Llamas enlisted the Magik Immoralist herself, Elisa Ambrogio, to create a stunning stop motion, animated video that compliments the song in a wonderfully unlikely way. Watch bunnies hold ritualistic meetings! Ordinary objects take new shape! Flowers bloom from dancing sugar skulls!
Here Come The Rattling Trees is out now on Drag City Records. Enjoy!
The legendary Ziegfeld Theater closed its doors for good on Thursday, January 28th with a 10 PM sold-out showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. What a way to go!
We’d heard the rumor for just over a week that the place would be shutting down to be renovated into an event space, so Geoffrey wisely suggested we head over for a matinee of Star Wars on the day after Winter Storm Jonas dumped two feet of snow on the city. It proved to be a good call, because I had, for whatever reaosn, never been there before. Better late than never, you aren’t kidding.
I took a few photos of the interior of the lobby spaces, but they didn’t turn out that great because I never like to use my flash. The thing I love about these photos though is that their darkness really does accurately reflect the glamour of the red velvet walls, and ornate brass and crystal light fixtures. Brightly lit photos would just ruin the mood.
Lobby staircase to the second floor.
This is the reflection of a chandelier shot into an oval mirror.
We had a great afternoon because The Force Awakens is just fantastic (Adam Driver as Kylo Ren: swoon), even though there was a tinge of melancholia in the experience, understanding that this beautiful movie palace would s0on join entertainment venues from Roseland Ballroom to CBGB that get closed down the name of the almighty dollar. They aren’t very sentimental in New York City. Read more about the final night at the Ziegfeld at This Link!
You have just one more week to see the amazing paintings of Interesni Kazki in the exhibit Sacred Gravitation, up now at Jonathan Levine on West 20th Street.
Interesni Kazki is a duo currently based in Kiev who also go by their respective aliases AEC and Waone, as noted on some of my photo captions. Painting together for over 15 years, they are pioneers of the graffiti movement in Eastern Europe.
With an aesthetic that has evolved from traditional graffiti writing to allegorical and figurative compositions, their work invites viewers to consider the spiritual side of the universe.
When translated to English, their name means Interesting Fairytale. Renowned for their imaginative imagery – inspired by science, religion, mythology, folklore and history – each piece is created in an attempt to look beyond the bounds of what is visible and present a new perception of the world. The new body of work presented in Sacred Gravitation comprises intricately detailed paintings and drawings that merge physical and spiritual elements reflecting on the nature of existence.
Anthropologist and curator Dr. Rafael Schacter articulately describes, “The celestial, allegorical paintings of Interesni Kakzi attempt to bring both the spiritual and the mystical into the everyday. Intertwining folk-history and religious imagery with science fiction and fantasy, they present the viewer with a profusion of mysterious narratives and visual fables, which they must attempt to enter into and disentangle.
Inspired as much by artists such as Dali and Moebius as they are by the Ukrainian muralist tradition and native fairy tales, Interesni Kazki have thus formed a style of contemporary muralism with a transcendental, emotive aesthetic at its core, a popular, ethereal form of public art.”
Interesni Kazki’s Sacred Gravitation will be on Exhibit Through February 6th, 2016 at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Located at 529 West 20th Street, 9th Floor, in the Chelsea Gallery District.