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Tamara Shopsin Serves Up the Old, Weird Greenwich Village

Tamara Shopsin’s new book, “Arbitrary Stupid Goal,” is a little like a meal at Shopsin’s, her family’s restaurant. It’s got a bit of everything, in a way that shouldn’t rightly work but does. Antique gumball machines; crossword puzzles; scam artists; perverted supers; foul apartments; fouler mouths; curry mixed into peanut butter; chewing gum stuck in armpits; known celebrities, like John Belushi and Joseph Brodsky, and unknown ones, like Willoughby, a basement-dwelling genius and the de-facto mayor of Morton Street—it’s all thrown into the pot, seasoned salty-sweet with a proprietary blend…

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Culture 

The Redeeming Virtues of a Phish Concert in New York

This Friday, the jam band Phish—which formed in Vermont, in 1983, and remains uniquely regarded for its improvisational prowess and zealous, wayfaring fans—will arrive in New York City for thirteen shows at Madison Square Garden, a run the group has dubbed the Baker’s Dozen. Phish knows the quirks of the room, the particular way it shivers: the band has played it thirty-one times already. In 2010, Phish captained a fifteen-foot frankfurter around the arena (the vessel débuted in 1994, and is now housed in the Rock and Roll Hall of…

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Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, and the Music of Success

One of the most striking aspects of “4:44,” Jay-Z’s thirteenth studio album, is that it’s largely bereft of exaggeration. There are rhymes about being a billionaire, a milestone that he and his wife, Beyoncé, comfortably passed earlier this year; references to real-life business deals and to his art collection; reflections on the ambient pressures of keeping a marriage afloat. Over the past two decades, the Brooklyn rapper reached the apex of an art form that was built on flamboyant, oftentimes impossible boasts—there was an aspirational cool when, in 2005, he…

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This Bridge Transforms Data on Weather, Traffic and Twitter Rants into a Beautiful Light Display

For Montreal’s 375th birthday this year, the city introduced a new feature: a large-scale light show on the Jacques Cartier Bridge. But it’s no normal light display. This one interacts with both ever-changing city data and the pulse of Montreal on social media, as hashtagged by residents and visitors. The project, called Living Connections and created by Moment Factory in collaboration with six other Montreal multimedia and lighting studios, makes it the world’s first networked bridge. “Since 1930 when the Jacques Cartier Bridge first connected people on the island of…

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Lileana Blain-Cruz’s Director’s Cut

We all know that theatre is an ephemeral art. Looking back on a given production, we dance around in and then sort out what the critic Arlene Croce called “afterimages,” fragments that are either tied together by the director’s style—by the nuances in the way that he or she set the scenes and had the actors move and speak, by the surprises that he or she managed to draw out of the script—or made dull and forgettable by a lack thereof. In the past decade or so, American theatre has…

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A Portrait of a Middle-Aged Couple in Transition

Last year, Michelle Ainsworth and her partner, Jennifer Lee, made the decision to undergo gender-confirmation surgery together. Lee, who’d wanted to have the surgery ever since she came out as transgender, five years ago, underwent the procedure in January of this year, while Ainsworth, who has been living openly as transgender since 2013 but has wrestled with the idea of surgery, is scheduled to have it this September. Geraldine Hope Ghelli’s photo series “Born Twice” is an astonishingly intimate account of the beginnings of their joint transition. Many of the…

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Culture 

How Do You Make a Responsible Movie About Anorexia?

“To the Bone,” the new movie from Marti Noxon, stars Lily Collins as a young woman with anorexia and Keanu Reeves as the vaguely unconventional—he’s bearded and uses curse words—doctor who treats her. After premièring at Sundance in January, it was bought by Netflix, for eight million dollars. Noxon, who made her name as a writer and executive producer on subversive, female-centered TV shows such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “UnREAL,” both wrote and directed the movie. It’s her directorial début. “To the Bone” is clearly meant as a…

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