Andrew Hultkrans

  • diary January 07, 2008

    Kings and Queens

    New York

    Who knew that the real Tinseltown was Queens, New York? I sure didn’t. Not, at least, until last Saturday, when I attended a celebration of film critic J. Hoberman’s thirty-year tenure at the Village Voice. I suppose I should have been tipped off by the borough’s retina-scorching holiday lawn art, but this was news to me. Given that both Hoberman and his legendary predecessor Andrew Sarris grew up in Queens, however, and that the evening’s venue, the noble Museum of the Moving Image, is in Astoria, the proclamation by chief curator David Schwartz that we were sitting in the heart of film culture

  • diary December 15, 2007

    Idle Chatter

    New York

    God, how did they get me out of bed for this one? If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, then theorizing about sloth is like masturbating about peace. Or something like that. And this was no Beckettian affair, with broad expanses of idle silence to contemplate nothingness at one’s leisure; this was six and a half hours of nonstop lecturing, paneling, questioning. On a Saturday. OK, there was a lunch break. But really.

    Co-organized by Cabinet, a fine magazine to which your correspondent has contributed, and the Slought Foundation, which must be the artiest organization in

  • diary September 28, 2007

    Global Warning

    New York

    From the moment I emerged from the Bryant Park subway station, I knew this wasn’t going to be your average “Live from the NYPL” event. First off, no line of punters snaked around the library, waiting for admittance. Second, instead of entering the building and sliding into the majestic Celeste Bartos Forum, I was shunted through a labyrinthine trail down halls, around corners, up one elevator, through more halls, down another elevator, and up some stairs, until I realized that I was treading on the old marble of the original edifice no longer, but on a space-age chrome superstructure built

  • diary July 02, 2007

    Smoking Grass

    New York

    If, as the New York Public Library’s promotional literature promised, last Wednesday night was when the twentieth century would go on trial, I began the evening as the Millennium Baby, trailing Father Time, played by Norman Mailer, as he ambulated glacially on twin canes toward his date with Günter Grass. Due to audience overflow—the event sold out in four minutes—members of the press were shunted through a long, spartan back hallway to the loading dock, where we were to check in. It was in this concrete fallopian tube that I found myself following Mailer—brought low by time and entropy—a living

  • diary May 31, 2007

    Third-Degree Byrne

    New York

    How to spruce up a reading when you’re a naïf artist with a book of stories, a film, performance pieces, and websites all topping the hipster charts? Why, invite two fellow naïf artists—one old, one young—to “gather together to create a feeling of belonging” at the New York Public Library. Sounds simple, right? And it is, if you’re Miranda July and you have the kind of fan base that gets warm fuzzies when you blush in public. As evinced by Dave Eggers, the Flaming Lips, the Polyphonic Spree, and countless other acts, there’s a great hunger for childlike wonder and optimism in America today, and

  • diary April 27, 2007

    Ancient Evening

    New York

    “What goes on in there?” an exasperated woman wondered aloud as she passed the neoclassical slab of prime real estate that is the Puck Building, in Soho. On Monday evening, the question was more pertinent than usual, as members of the Hungry March Band blurted and blatted their Balkan stomp music outside the front door. Having been dispatched to cover the Paris Review’s Spring Revel, a benefit dinner with guest of honor Norman Mailer, I was positively atwitter about gaining admission to this most inscrutable of downtown venues. My gratification, however, was delayed. Arriving at 7 PM for cocktails,

  • diary December 01, 2006

    Unrequited Love

    New York

    The Book of Love is long and boring; its author’s voice is deep and deadpan. So learned Rick Moody and assembled throng at the 92nd Street Y on Monday night, when Stephin Merritt—indie rock’s Cole Porter—discussed his lyrics. The notoriously laconic, impressively prolific songwriter for the Magnetic Fields, the 6ths, the Gothic Archies, Future Bible Heroes, and other projects, Merritt doesn’t enjoy being interviewed—or, rather, enjoys pretending that he doesn’t enjoy being interviewed. Moody, a novelist and memoirist, wants Merritt to acknowledge an autobiographical, emotional force behind his

  • diary October 25, 2006

    Second Coming

    New York

    There was a moment—somewhere between John the Revelator and Tim “Left Behind” LaHaye . . . OK, the early ’80s—when the word rapture connoted something other than the faithful dead blasting out of their graves and flying to heaven before the Great Tribulation. That moment, mainstreamed by the Blondie song “Rapture” and its early MTV video, was the mingling of two previously separate New York undergrounds—hip-hop and punk/new wave. Uptown met downtown, black met white, turntables met guitars, graffiti met galleries. This was new, and as with most quasi-utopian cultural moments, it

  • diary September 04, 2006

    Banding Together

    New York

    Luckily, it was an unseasonably cool August night, or the Coalition Provisional Authority treatment attendees received outside the Beacon Theater last week would have thoroughly scotched the vibe of an otherwise benign benefit. Given that will-call lines largely consist of friends and press, putting only one incompetent woman in the booth—protected by clueless gorillas—is sinful. The upshot? Many missed the first twenty minutes of the fundraiser for 826NYC, the local branch of 826 Valencia, a chain of free tutoring centers across the country that help children develop their creative

  • diary July 16, 2006

    Soft Launch

    New York

    The hip, youngish art/lit throng attending Tuesday’s launch party for Soft Targets—a new “handheld journal of poetry, artwork, criticism, short fiction, found images, sound, and other ephemera”—was surely feeling softer than usual due to the evening’s exceedingly swampy weather, which Soft Targets contributor and coeditrix Rachel Kushner called “velveteen,” but I call viscous. Like her beau Jason Smith, the de facto “intellectual godfather” of the journal, however, Kushner lives in LA, where inorganic swamp gas (and its attendant street-corner puddles of urban “milk”) is an option,

  • diary May 07, 2006

    May Pole

    New York

    Given that it was not only May Day but also the afternoon of the immigrant workers’ protest march in lower Manhattan, traveling to see Ron Athey’s “durational performance” at Artists Space proved to be a somewhat durational affair in itself. The A and C trains had been diverted to the F track, making my trip from Brooklyn unbearably glacial. Then, though the performance was scheduled to begin at 5 PM, the small crowd of art journos and gallery punters—all white, youngish to middle age, surprisingly unpierced—had to mill about on Greene Street for half an hour or so before being admitted

  • diary February 02, 2006

    Freedom Guy

    New York

    During her tenure at Vanity Fair, legend has it, Tina Brown read a draft of a commissioned piece from Isaac Bashevis Singer, and, either not realizing who the Nobel laureate was or simply not caring, scrawled “Beef it up, Singer!” across the manuscript. I expected a similarly muscular stance from Brown in her face-off last week with fêted French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy at the New York Public Library. After all, the promotional materials promised a hardball exchange, and Lévy hadn’t even won a Nobel. Quel dommage, then, that this transatlantic logroll left unanswered my nagging question

  • diary January 22, 2006

    Cinastey Hack

    New York

    The first thing to remember is that he’s cooler than you. Cooler, in fact, than anyone has a right to be. Raised in Akron, Ohio, home of Devo, Jim Jarmusch studied poetry at Columbia, crashed CBGB in the ’70s with Richard Hell’s “Kid with the Replaceable Head,” was Nicholas Ray’s acolyte and teaching assistant at NYU Film School, used his Louis B. Mayer grant for film-school tuition to make his first feature, didn’t ever pay his tuition (but still received his degree a decade and many acclaimed films later), breaks bread with everyone from Bill Murray to Tom Waits to the RZA, made an entire film

  • diary January 06, 2006

    Bones of Contention

    New York

    I’ve long been a fan of cadaver gags—medical students mailing organs and body parts with cards reading “Have a heart” or “Thought you needed a hand,” or posing undissected corpses on campus benches in rakish postures, leaving them to leer at passersby. Hence I was surprised to find little gallows humor in “Bodies . . . The Exhibition,” a pricey, formaldehyde-for-the-whole-family show of jaunty, expressive stiffs and their constituent parts. Strained playfulness, yes—several specimens are pressed into everyman roles as basketball players, symphony conductors, sprinters, even Rodin’s

  • diary September 29, 2005

    Wu Yorker

    New York

    If my first stop at the New Yorker Festival doled out a satisfying amount of bile—mostly directed at Hollywood—the next panel on my docket promised greater internal acidity. After a calming hour in the sun at Bryant Park, I steeled myself for my appointment with the RZA, the LZA (Ani DiFranco), the Old Skinny Popster (Ric Ocasek), and the Rapeman (Steve Albini)—not exactly Wu-Tang, but some kind of hell-spawned super-group nevertheless. Moderated by Sasha Frere-Jones, the magazine’s pop music critic, the panel was guaranteed to be volatile, based on the presence of Albini alone.

  • diary September 28, 2005

    Cartoon Networking

    New York

    Where do you go to hear that TV executives are censorious cowards, that Tom Cruise is indeed gay, and that, despite their efforts to appear cuddly and approachable, the Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothin’ to fuck with? To the New Yorker Festival, of course, the annual culture grope that, with its elbow-patched tweeds, perilously perched reading glasses, and mock seriousness, heralds the arrival of capital-F Fall. Avoiding the standard literary fare, I exhumed a patchless tweed blazer from its naphthalene crypt and set out for the Festival’s margins—events peopled by the kinds of characters who in

  • diary August 05, 2005

    Sweat and Lowdown

    Brooklyn

    The Extra Action Marching Band is a thirty-five strong troupe of Bay Area drum-and-horn hellions who play an aggro blend of Balkan brass music, New Orleans second-line funk, and primeval Moroccan trance, preceded by a raunchy flag team that marches, bumps, and grinds in corsets, hot pants, and pasties. They have graced the prestigious Guca brass band festival in Serbia, sailed the playa at Burning Man in a self-built Spanish galleon, and rocked the Hollywood Bowl with fan and colleague David Byrne. They incite near-riots wherever they go, and may be some of the best public art available in our

  • diary May 26, 2005

    Hot Air

    New York

    Having witnessed the spaz bacchanal of New York’s regional Air Guitar Championship, I’d like to see a statistical graph of the relative fortunes of performance art and air guitar. My hunch is that factor analysis would reveal a strong negative correlation between the two. That is, as performance art declined into masturbatory irrelevance in the 1980s and ’90s, air guitar—a far more honest type of masturbatory irrelevance—rose like David Lee Roth in midair split. Take the politics out of performance art, after all, and you’re left with untrammeled histrionics, potential nudity, and

  • diary April 12, 2005

    Tweedy Set

    New York

    How to regain your writer’s pride as you’re being shunted to the back of a two-block line outside the New York Public Library? Simple. Pass by a similarly shunted rock star (David Byrne), a longtime Rolling Stone editor (David Fricke), and a downtown DJ/theorist manqué (DJ Spooky) on the way. This spottily luminescent throng was assembled to hear Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and Stanford law professor and intellectual property activist Lawrence Lessig discuss copyrights, copywrongs, and their effects on contemporary creativity. Moderated by Wired contributing editor and digital culture writer

  • diary March 12, 2005

    Junk Bonds

    New York

    Among the surprises at the US premiere of Asia Argento’s film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things were the Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boys passed out to the huddled hipster masses in the Anthology Film Archives’ interminable stairway line, the pre-screening absence of Argento, and the presence of Lou Reed, wearing black leather pants, natch, and a gray cotton hoodie. The film, based on J. T. LeRoy’s story cycle of the same name, kicked off the twelfth annual New York Underground Film Festival, and Lou, apparently still “underground,” was charged with reading a touching if rambling statement by