Tag Archives: Village Voice

The 50 Quintessential New York Albums – Village Voice List

Quintessential – representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class.

https://www.villagevoice.com/2014/02/18/the-50-most-nyc-albums-ever/
VILLAGE VOICE STAFF
FEBRUARY 18, 2014

For the past week we’ve been locked in the torch of the Statue of Liberty, subsisting on nothing but Russ & Daughters’ lox, listening to the best records about, by, and for New York City through headphones endorsed by Lou Reed. Our mission: to come up with a list of the 50 Most NYC Albums Ever; albums born of the five boroughs that best capture what it’s like to live, love, struggle, and exist in the sprawling, unforgiving, culturally dense metropolis we pay too much to call home. The albums we finally agreed upon capture everything from the unaffected cool of the Lower East Side to the horn-spiked salsa of Spanish Harlem and much more. So let’s get to it. Here, now, the 50 most quintessential New York records. Apologies in advance for The Muppets Take Manhattan not making the cut.

50. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell (2003) The Yeah Yeah Yeahs might not be the hipster band du jour anymore, but Fever to Tell is still a perfect downtown New York record, gritty and artsy and stylish.

49. Jay Z – The Blueprint (2001) Jay-Z famously mocked Nas for having a “one hot album every 10-year average.” And yet Jay himself has only reached the height of his potential three times in a nearly 30-year career.

48. Jim Carroll – Catholic Boy (1980) With his New York drug-drawl and angel-headed hipster-hustler lyrics, poet-turned-musician Jim Carroll spoke-sang with an urgency that belied his drug of choice.

Continue reading The 50 Quintessential New York Albums – Village Voice List

Ballad of Tom Hill

For years now, Tom Hill and I have been about as friendly as a doorman and tenant can be. It’s not just that we discuss baseball and politics, or people in the building. When we both have free time we talk about a mutual obsession — Mississip­pi. I spent about a year there as a civil rights worker and a journalist. Tom, who now lives in the Bronx, was raised on a plantation in the Delta, during the last, violent impoverished years of segregation. Emmett Till was one of his best friends. Indeed, he was with Till until about 7 p.m. on the horrible, legendary 1955 night when Till was murdered allegedly for whistling at a white woman.

Tom’s life incorporates the sea changes that have swept through Mississippi and New York over the past 25 years. It is the story of a brave man’s attempt to deal with two dangerous, difficult environ­ments. It’s not just a doorman’s story. It is a capsule version of a crucial segment of American history.

Paul Cowan, October 8, 1980
https://www.villagevoice.com/2020/03/25/the-ballad-of-tom-hill/

15 American Plays It’d Be Great to See Revived | The Village Voice

Everybody knows theater critics are useless. All year round, they occupy free seats, and in return they do nothing but complain, complain, complain. Why, you ask, can’t they do something useful for a change?

So I was complaining (as usual), a few weeks back (Voice, May 23), about having to review the same plays over and over, when the world, so I claimed, was “full of unperformed great plays” deserving revival. In response, I only got press releases announcing that next season, like the last one, would be full of familiar titles. Some of them worth seeing again, no doubt, but not exactly unperformed rarities likely to fill a desperate hunger in our collective theatrical soul. Why can’t our theater find at least a few less well-known plays that are worth a fresh look?

That drove me, shockingly, to do something useful: compile my list of plays we rarely or never see—plays we should be seeing, because they add some quality, which our theater currently lacks.

Sin (A Cardinal Deposed) (2004) by Michael Murphy. Not trying to raise religious hackles here. Murphy’s docudrama, premiered by the New Group, uses Cardinal Law’s depositions before the Boston courts to reveal the inner workings of a bureaucracy’s systematic cover-up of child abuse—something that has tragically spread as a matter of public concern, not only within world Catholicism, but in secular realms like Penn State and Horace Mann School. Murphy’s dramatic map of the Boston case remains a painful prototype of far too many instances revealed subsequently.

The Danube (1984) and The Conduct of Life (1985) by María Irene Fornés: Two full-evening works on very different topics, both still burning. The first, depicting star-crossed lovers forced to confront ecological disaster, now seems stunningly prophetic. The second deals with a government-employed military torturer and the women in his life. Granted, I don’t see TV stars lining up to play these scripts. But I wish they would.

Ready for the River (1991) by Neal Bell: Bell is one of my leading candidates for America’s most unreasonably neglected playwright (though PTP/NYC has just revived Monster, his excellent adaptation of Shelley’s Frankenstein). You can gauge his prescience, from the opening of this play’s harrowing, surreal journey—a farmer’s wife and daughter fleeing because he has just murdered the banker who came to foreclose on the family farm. Sounds dated, I suppose.

The Fabulous Miss Marie (1971) by Ed Bullins. First produced, memorably, at Harlem’s Lafayette Theatre, Bullins’s sardonic study of L.A.’s affluent black couples, living to par-tay while sneering at civil rights marchers, uses vaudeville stylization and short, cogent scenes to treat its characters with a spicy mix of satirical malice and Chekhovian compassion.

In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel (1969) by Tennessee Williams. A failing genius painter and his fearsomely unhappy wife, locked in Strindbergian love-hate, fuel this most challengingly dense of Williams’s texts. But anyone who saw Donald Madden and Anne Meacham play it Off-Broadway knows its riveting power.

Who’ll Save the Plowboy? (1962) by Frank D. Gilroy. Produced by the Phoenix Theatre, this play put Gilroy on the theatrical map; a few years later, The Subject Was Roses cemented his reputation. Harsher and bleaker than the later work, Plowboy won the 1962 Best Play Obie Award.

The Gingham Dog (1969) by Lanford Wilson. Signature Theatre has kindly announced Wilson’s masterpiece, The Mound Builders, for next season. But they, or somebody, should tackle this somberly moving four-hander, mapping the breakup of an interracial marriage, which got an unjustly sniffy reception at its first production.

Lagrima del Diablo (The Devil’s Tear) (1980) by Dan Owens. Political upheaval on a Caribbean island, naturally seasoned with a dash of vodoun, centering on a dictator, an exiled archbishop, and a mute girl with prophetic powers. Owens, a cunning, complex writer, was treated handsomely by the Negro Ensemble Company, but the press, as so often, had its mind elsewhere.

Boy on the Straight-Back Chair (1969) by Ronald Tavel. A Southwestern serial killer, a startling theatricalist form, and a style harshly mixing self-aware joking with mordant ruminations on American violence: Sounds like the playwright who invented the Ridiculous, doesn’t it? It needs doing as the American Place Theatre did it then, with lucid ferocity and no camp.

The Cocktail Hour (1988) by A.R. Gurney. New Gurney plays still crop up a few times a year, but New York really deserves another chance at this funniest and wisest of the gentlemanly playwright’s rueful reflections on his vanishing elite-WASP class. It requires a four-person cast as brilliant as the Off-Broadway original; consider yourselves challenged.

The Ceremony of Innocence (1967) by Ronald Ribman. You’re an American, your country’s mired in a meaningless war, what do you write about? If you’re Ronald Ribman—another leading candidate for the title of our most underrated playwright—you create a fierce drama about the medieval King Ethelred, who retreats to a monastery rather than wage war. Another American Place Theatre discovery that urgently deserves rediscovering.

The Credeaux Canvas (2001) by Keith Bunin. Art, love, forgery, and integrity, all wrapped in one taut, tidy package about a chameleonic painter whose businesslike buddy convinces him to fake an old-master canvas. Playwrights Horizons did splendidly by it, with the then-unknown Annie Parisse and Lee Pace as model and artist. Young wannabes, take note.

A Few Stout Individuals (2002) by John Guare. Everyone’s favorite theatrical fantasist spun this dizzying web of words for the Signature’s all-Guare season. The dying U.S. Grant, ruthless general and hapless President, struggles to make sense of his life, nursemaided by his would-be publisher, Mark Twain, and a host of Gilded Age figures low and high. I’d gladly take this exhilarating trip again.

Zero Positive (1988) by Harry Kondoleon. High on the list of writers one can’t forget, Kondoleon turned out maddeningly original plays that shed their light prismatically, in disorienting multicolored flashes. At least six of Kondoleon’s plays merit revival, but this one, set partly in an AIDS ward and given a troubled premiere at the Public Theater, manifestly leads the disorientation course

  • Sin (A Cardinal Deposed) (2004) by Michael Murphy.
  • The Danube (1984) and The Conduct of Life (1985) by María Irene Fornés
  • Ready for the River (1991) by Neal Bell
  • The Fabulous Miss Marie (1971) by Ed Bullins.
  • In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel (1969) by Tennessee Williams.
  • Who’ll Save the Plowboy? (1962) by Frank D. Gilroy.
  • The Gingham Dog (1969) by Lanford Wilson.
  • Lagrima del Diablo (The Devil’s Tear) (1980) by Dan Owens.
  • Boy on the Straight-Back Chair (1969) by Ronald Tavel.
  • The Cocktail Hour (1988) by A.R. Gurney.
  • The Ceremony of Innocence (1967)
  • The Credeaux Canvas (2001) by Keith Bunin.
  • A Few Stout Individuals (2002) by John Guare.
  • Zero Positive (1988) by Harry Kondoleon.

MICHAEL FEINGOLD, JULY 4, 2012
https://www.villagevoice.com/2012/07/04/15-american-plays-itd-be-great-to-see-revived/

William S. Burroughs Talks With Tennessee Williams | The Village Voice

Although they were both born in St. Louis within three years of each other, William Burroughs did not meet Tennessee Williams until 1960, when they were briefly introduced at a table in the Cafe de Paris in Tangiers, by Paul and Jane Bowles. Burroughs had read and admired Williams’s short stories, and later in the ’60s Tennessee was known to quote at length from Burroughs’s Naked Lunch. But despite their mutual acquaintances (including the Bowleses and the painter Brion Gysin), they were not to meet again until 1975, at a gathering of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Their first conversation of any length took place at a party after a Burroughs reading at Notre Dame University earlier this year, and there they talked and carried on like old friends.

Tennessee’s new play, Vieux Carre, opens tonight on Broadway. Burroughs and I attended a preview two Saturdays ago. The next day we visited him at the Hotel Elysee, where he has maintained a spacious flat on the 12th floor for some time. It was late afternoon, and as I arrived, a few minutes after Burroughs, they were already seated at the opposite ends of a sofa. Tennessee seemed chipper; he got up to show us a pastel gouache he had just completed on his terrace that morning. Two bottles of wine arrived, and Burroughs and Williams resumed their talk.

James Grauerholz

Orpheus Holds His Own: William Burroughs Talks with Tennessee Williams May 16, 1977, https://www.villagevoice.com/2020/02/16/william-s-burroughs-talks-with-tennessee-williams/

My Words Were Taken Out of Context – Falwell Example

I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians…the A.C.L.U., People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, “You helped this happen.”
— Jerry Falwell, September 13th, on The 700 Club about last week’s terrorist attacks

I sincerely regret that comments I made…were taken out of their context.
—Jerry Falwell, September 14

Nine Possible Contexts:
1. “…NOT.”

2. “You know, I’m really high right now, so this may not make any sense, but…”

3. “Keeping in mind that today is Opposites Day, I emphasize that…”

4. “My son showed me this cool thing on Alta Vista, where you type something in English and then have the computer translate it into French and then into Spanish and then into German and then back to English—it’s kinda like ‘Telephone,’ you know?—and something that made sense at the beginning will come out sounding like…”

5. “If an infinite number of monkeys typed on an infinite number of typewriters, one of them would write…”

6. “I want to take a break from the grim events of this week, and salute the brave people who’ve spent years making America a better and more tolerant place. Who’s done this, who’s helped this happen? Well, I’ll tell you: …”

7. “An insane man off camera is pointing a gun at my head and forcing me to read this statement. Quote,…”

8. “Please join me in praying that, in the wake of this horrific tragedy, Christ’s message of peace will prevail, our entire country can unite in compassion, not aggression, and that no misguided person will state…”

9. “I truly believe that if Osama bin Laden had been born in America, right now he’d be saying…”

What Falwell Really Meant
Michael Gerber And Jonathan Schwarz
SEPTEMBER 18, 2001
Village Voice

Visitation Rites: The Elusive Tradition of Plague Lit – Village Voice

Pestilence may have an old-world ring, but epidemics were, until quite recently, a recurring feature of urban life in America, as well as a force in such emblematic events as the Civil War and the great westward trek. Congress could not be convened in 1793 until George Washington rode through the streets of Philadelphia to assure himself that an outbreak of yellow fever, which had decimated the city, was under control. As J.H. Powell’s riveting account of that outbreak, Bring Out Your Dead, reveals, the barbaric responses we associate with AIDS were commonplace in 1793: Refugees were stoned, shot, or left to starve as they wandered the countryside; newspapers from the capital were boiled in vinegar before anyone would read them; and the task of caring for the afflicted and burying the dead fell largely to impoverished blacks. This is an America you will not read about in fiction. There are no epics about the epidemics that struck New Orleans with such regularity that the death rate in that city remained higher than the birthrate for the entire 19th century; no chronicles of the devastation that disease wrought upon the ’49ers as they headed west. You can read all about cannibalism on the Donner Pass, but not about diarrhea.

Richard Goldstein,
AIDSspeak: A Plague of Words
Visitation Rites — The Elusive Tradition of Plague Lit
VLS, October 13, 1987
Village Voice

Village Voice – Photo Archive

VillagePhotosArchives

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Madonna, 1983 “The only direction I was given was to photograph anyone that made me turn my head,” Amy Arbus told the Voice in 2015 of her popular “On the Street” feature, which ran from 1980 to 1990. “The theory behind the whole ‘On the Street’ page for ten years was that these kids were inventing the styles that then were going to be borrowed by [designers such as] Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui.”

https://www.villagevoice.com/2017/09/22/the-village-in-41-photos/

Robert Christgau, excerpts from Consumer Guide, November 21, 1989

MEAT PUPPETS: Monsters (SST) Supposedly a combination of their two 1988 albums (a mirage omelet, thanks a lot), this is really the guitar-god record Curt Kirkwood always had in him–on all but a couple of cuts the arena-rock bottom that’s an interview fantasy for those who haven’t caught them on a ZZ Top night powers his chunky riffs and psychedelic axemanship. What’ll keep them from turning into plutonium is the utterly unmacho vocals, brother harmonies making even “Party Till the World Obeys” and the one that begins “Tie me up/Get it right” seem like critiques of power, which is what they are–psychedelic in the nicest way yet again. A MINUS

MEKONS: Rock ‘n’ Roll (A&M) If you love rock and roll (which is possible even if you slum the spelling with apostrophes), but don’t think Rock and Roll (much less Rock ‘n’ Roll) a propitious title right now, you could love this album, which takes their love-hate relationship with America to the bank. Musically, it’s rock and roll despite the fiddles sawing louder than ever, almost as Clashlike as the promo claims, with Steve Goulding bashing away louder than ever too. Lyrically, in great song after great song, rock and roll is devil’s-breath perfume, capitalism’s “favourite boy child,” a commodity like sex, a log to throw on the fire, a “shining path back to reconquer Americay.” Are they implicated? Of course. Do they love it? Yes and no. A

EDDIE MURPHY: So Happy (Columbia) The failure of this wicked Prince rip to scale the charts reminds us once again how difficult it is for defiant outsiders to fracture pop stereotypes. Murphy will never be El DeBarge, but he’s perfect for cartoon funk, and over the years his wheedling croon has gotten serious. Maybe the problem is that his sexual urges still don’t emanate from very deep inside. Often, in fact, they’re inspired by his bathroom reading–he’s big on locations, spends an entire song convincing her to do it in a chair. Inspirational Dialogue: She: “Are you close?” He: “If I get any closer I be behind you.” B PLUS

PIXIES: Doolittle (4AD/Elektra) They’re in love and they don’t know why–with rock and roll, which is heartening in a time when so many college dropouts have lost touch with the verities. You can tell from the bruising riffs, the rousing choruses, the cute little bass melodies, the solid if changeable beat. But not from any words they sing. They’ll improve in direct relation to their improved contact with the outside world. Getting famous too fast could ruin them. B PLUS

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