Hugging for James Murphy

Alaina Stamatis

Cell phone pix by Matthew Mann

THE OUTPOST

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Alex Drewchin and Greg Fox share a room at the pristine performance space and screening hall The Outpost in L-train Ridgewood. The building is owned and was designed by a woman named Ruth, about whom the specifics are vague and wonderful. She has a certain amount of money and caché that I know nothing about, having moved to Ridgewood from Chelsea (I believe) bringing along furniture that’s been absurdly reupholstered and a large photograph of a woman pretending to bleed from her ankle in a gallery setting.
The building itself is a mystery to me. While the exterior is modest and suits the style of the neighborhood, the interior is breathtaking upon introduction. The mainspace of Outpost is completely white with 30-foot ceilings, and every performance I’ve seen there has utilized the ability to project video high into the air. The bathroom closest to this public space does not speak of a commercial use, with its soft wood trimmings and white ceramic flourishes; a small painting hangs near the light switch, depicting Ruth’s two prized birds – a parakeet and a gray African parrot. As you ascend into the living quarters via suspended stairs, you glimpse a secret den with a secret minimalist fireplace. Exit the staircase onto a roof reminiscent of the Villa Savoy and covered in potted plants, and re-enter into a warm and rustic kitchen.
Ruth was in Miami for an unknown length of time doing something inexplicable following the Art Basel festival, and her two birds were attending something called, “bird camp”. So Alex and Greg had a party that centered mostly in the kitchen, with brief visits to the mainspace to play a crazy version of Street Fighter where you could battle as a hunky Spiderman or Princess Peach in incredible proportions. They brought out two cheese platters, one with a three-year gruyere and figs that had grown someplace nearby, and one with a Bayley Hazen Blue and raspberries. “It’s like painting!” Alex exclaimed whenever someone marveled at them.
The star of the night, aside from five bottles of red wine and a large mason jar of insane-looking weed, was a small kitten named Butters (Ruth’s newest acquisition). The tiny treasure had been bred for its genetic deformity: its miniature ears crinkled backward like blooming daffodils. The breed? “American Curl”.
Rating: 4 weed leaves
SHEA STADIUM
Ginny convinced me to go to the So So Glo’s girls-only music video shoot at Shea. It was for their song, “Son of an American,” so when it eventually comes out you’ll see a girl with a bob in a blood-orange Escada tiger shirt freaking out. There was free beer, and if you buttered Sean Heaney up, you could get free cape codders (beer makes me tired so the latter was my judging). Ginny introduced me to a friend who designs clothes, who wanted to meet female band frontrunners, in case I was fashionista material, but she seemed unimpressed with my body of work.
(photo by Matt Greely)
The So So Glos announced that they were going to play a few warm up songs first, which I met with ambivalence: how many songs ‘til the action? Would I get bored at this 25-girl show and wander home? As soon as they started, all the girls started freaking out – two-stepping, skanking, jumping up-and-down, and girl-moshing, which is almost identical to normal moshing except that nobody elbows each other and if you get pushed over someone will grab you and ask if you’re okay.
The remainder the video will include footage of one of their younger brothers burning an American flag. After the shoot I hung out with my friend Theresa from college on the stairs and talked about boys and got a little too drunk.
Rating: 3 cape codders
IMPOSE HOLIDAY PARTY AT KINFOLK
The Impose holiday party was hosted at Kinfolk at the request of my friend Seva who was organizing the open bar portion of the night – free vodka until 10 p.m. (or earlier, as it turned out) with Pop Jew as DJ Finding Nemo or something, standing in a closet behind her laptop and wearing a slinky Santa hat. Across from her, Eyebodega projected Missy Elliot videos that had been color corrected to resemble the opening credits of In Living Color. The sleek North Williamsburg bar (high ceilings, potted plants, and a bar made from the trunk of one gigantic tree) is the Western chapter of a popular (and much tinier) Japanese establishment. Over the course of the night I saw a lot of people I know, and I proudly gave them the impression that it was in fact my own holiday party. When the bar cut off its free vodka, Seva put down his company credit card and then a lot of my friends blacked out.
Rating: 3 weed leaves
BROOKLYN NIGHT BAZAAR
I went to Brooklyn Night Bazaar when it was closing and none of the clothing vendors were still working. Our friend Hunter was still operating a photo booth, so we took a bunch and picked up glasses of abandoned mulled wine. Then we wondered into the huge concert space where James Murphy was still DJing. He put on “Naïve Melody”, and a bunch of condo yuppies started screaming and hugging each other – how bizarre. I bought a $4 vegan Jamaican patty (those people were the hardest people in the space) and then we drove to Enid’s in the photo booth company’s Scion.
Rating: 1 mulled wine
VICE HOLIDAY AFTERPARTY
The Vice holiday party was employees only (no dates, leave your wives at home) at Warsaw and catered by Roberta’s. But their after party was friends of friends at Enid’s, and was the most crowded in the history of the bar. Enid’s had a table set up covered with paper plates of glitter, colorful pipe cleaners, and rainbow tissue paper which my friends and I immediately used and abused. I was able to get a free vodka tonic and then waited in the bathroom line. The only people dancing at the time were two girls in the corner who looked shipwrecked (clean, but with ripped clothes, especially when it’s striped and/or turquoise knits – they had both).
Eventually a bunch of my old roommates from the Market Hotel and others who had been at the 285 Kent Christmas show rolled in with the right amount of gusto (blood-alcohol content) to conjure a legitimate dance party. The DJs, lofted above the bar, noted our excitement and played a bunch of Mariah Carey.
Rating: 2 weed leaves
285 KENT
On Saturday night Jesse Hlebo invited me to participate in his piece, which was one in a series of performances (generally alongside Printed Matter events, like the two most recent Art Book Fairs). Jesse organizes a cast of musicians and visual artists to perform in a stop-and-go orchestra which he conducts in different abstract forms – as if the tempered twirling of one’s right hand wasn’t abstract enough.
This time, for Printed Matter's holiday fundraiser, Jesse assigned each musician a number between 1 and 5, and would say it on a microphone to dictate playing or stopping. If he said, “1, 2, 3,” then the first three people could begin to play. If he said, “23,” then the second and third person would stop. If he said, “15,” then the first person needed to cease sound-making and the fifth person could commence.
One was Daren Ho performing via high-tech sampler. Two was Adam Markiewicz with an electric violin. Three was Travess Smalley doing live video projections, although there wasn’t a time when he “stopped,” per se. Four was Taraka Larson yielding a large, silvery space blanket (which my boyfriend Matthew identified for me after the performance). And five was the drums, which were at first played by Julian Bennett-Holmes and then played by Ryan Sawyer.
I was instructed to type “everything that was happening,” which for me was essentially a live party review. My tiny Toshiba netbook was hooked up to a projector and my modest Notepad with size 28 font was visible for all to read. For a while my Notepad just read, “try the cider,” because the beautiful bartenders had given me two hot ciders before the performance, but when the piece began I erased it and began to type wildly. I have copied and pasted for you below. Please remember that speed was the goal and all spelling errors are (sic).
(photo by Pierre Le Hors, taken from Facebook)
“the group is attempting to determine the loudest for each respective form
28 is my loudest
i'm a little nervous because i forgot my pocket thesaurus
so i can only use phrasings that are currently comfortable
12,345 means that it's time to stop
1
one is daren ho. he's wearing his traditional desert garb and h
2
two is adam markevitz
3
three is taraka larson. she just made eye contact with me
4
four is oh shit
four is julian
julian is playing a symbol and he smiled at me because he can't see that i forgot that his last name is bennet-holmes
my opponent tonight is traviss smalley
he wasn't wearing that shirt when we both got here
i can't see taraka because she's extended an ocean of foil”
Because Travess’ work was also being projected, and we were sitting across from each other at a circular table, on which our two projectors were precariously balanced on a roll of tape and four cans of Budweiser, respectively, I considered him to be my opponent.
“at knicks games they hand out these terrible blue and orange sticks to allow fans to hit them together when the opposing team is about to shoot a basketball, in hopes of distracting them
my opponent is projecting these terrible sticks, their horrific distracting power obstructing the universe. i can't compete with that”
In turn, I began to interpret everyone who was positioned diagonal from each other to be competitors.
“i guess if i played violin for eight years i would have a dazzling neon green bow, too
taraka's sheath is over her head
julian isn't straining himself, instead he's calming competing with adam, who is beginning to sweat
my left arm hurts, have my friends call an ambulence
traviss is projecting some kind of fucked up vincent van gogh slur
julian just looked at me
the bird that adam is imitating is in danger
1
everything was quiet so i took a shot of whisky
oh boy”
After an hour of stenography, the piece ended, and my left arm was incredibly sore. I walked around cradling it, and the guys from Printed Matter asked me if I had ever done something like that before (as a compliment), to which I muttered something about typing-out an interview and then ran to the bathroom. I was worried that the damage was permanent, that I’d soon become my tech-artist friend who has to wear a little tan wrist-brace when he eats ice cream.
Adam, Matthew and I went to San Loco (my favorite restaurant), and when we returned to 285 everyone I knew was gone. Matthew and I had another cider and then we drove home.
Rating: 3 hot ciders
CLOCKTOWER GALLERY
The Clocktower Gallery introduced their wild western installation in conjunction with the release of Javelin’s EP-and-short-film Canyon Candy, directed by Mike Anderson. I had seen it when it was in-progress, but the finished product was incredible. Instead of walking into their big white gallery space, visitors enter a small rustic cabin, made of dark, hundred-year-old wood, and garnished with fur hides and Pendleton blankets. Upon exiting the cabin you worm into a narrow, dark mountain range, with dead cowboys, papier-mâché psychotropic cacti, and taxidermied coyotes around every corner. At the end you arrive in the gallery space, where gingham picnic tables and a large projection screen greet you with red and white wine.
At 9pm Javelin howled a short, vocoded country tune, and afterward the film screened; its set was only dissimilar from the installation itself in that it was loaded with soft, clean sand. The Canyon Candy starred a girl that looks like Natalie Portman and Pat Noecker of These Are Powers (*spoiler alert* he goes down in a hail of gunfire.) Joe Ahearn, the gallery’s curator of performance and installation, was wearing a red plaid shirt and a white five-gallon hat, and David Weinstein, Clocktower and Art on Air’s Program Director, was wearing a Sheriff’s badge, but I never got to ask him what his jurisdiction was. Phong Bui, who runs the Brooklyn Rail, was wearing a small red-and-black jester hat that he apparently always wears. I bumped into Rebecca Smeyne, who also does party reviews – awkward!
Rating: 3 weed leaves

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