THE BLOG
09/13/2010 03:09 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

On the Culture Front: The Forbidden City, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger , NY Craft Beer Week Preview, and Les Savy Fav

As the city emptied out for the unofficial final weekend of summer, I made my way down to a large warehouse in the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn for a grand scale artsy extravaganza. Party masterminds Mark Winkel and Kevin Balktick brought together dozens of artists including freak show performers, djs, and visual and performance artists under the loose theme of a Chinese Emperors party - that is, if said Emperor wore skinny jeans and lived in Brooklyn. While I saw occasional oriental-themed costumes, the event felt more like the underground parties I've read about from the '70s and '80s minus most of the drugs. The massive open space had stations scattered throughout that appealed to different senses. One of my favorite was a carpeted area covered with rose petals. I've never been a big fan of flowers, but there's a certain lightness that's ignited as strangers shower you with petals. Other highlights included a tent that covered the crowd in mind-bending light beams and a couple of schoolgirl-outfitted performance artists who took turns delightfully disciplining each other a few feet in front of us. Hopefully, they'll be back for the next party. Can I suggest an interactive display?

Also on display this week were a wide range of craft beers that will be featured in NY Craft Beer Week. Some of the best I had at the Brooklyn Brewery-hosted press party were Allagash's Curieux, a tripel ale aged in a Jim Beam barrel, and Brooklyn's own Cookie Jar Porter. Both were as delicious as they sound. The official "beer week" runs from Sept. 24 - Oct. 3 and features unique events like Voyage of the IPA, a beer cruise with Brooklyn Brewmaster Garrett Oliver that combines a talk on the creation of the hoppy beer with, well, lots of beer. Other highlights include Mas' extravagant Degustation beer dinner along with special beer pairing menus at restaurants around the city including Colicchio and Sons.

On the film front, I saw a screening of Woody Allen's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. I didn't read anything about it beforehand, but the title signaled to me that it was going to be a drama in the style of Match Point and Husbands and Wives. When the lights darkened and dixieland jazz piped through the speakers, my heart sank a little because now I knew it was going to be a comedy. Like many New Yorkers, I grew up on Allen's comedies and have fond memories of watching videos of Annie Hall, Manhattan, Sleeper, and countless others. But Vicky Cristina Barcelona aside, he hasn't made an even mildly funny comedy in years. Being able to go from a brilliant thriller like Match Point to a tedious trifle like Scoop makes him one of the most frustratingly talented filmmakers to understand. Naturally, I had low expectations as the opening credits rolled. The film rehashes a old Allen story line of artistic couples wrestling with fidelity and conflicting desires, but it's a pleasant enough atmosphere to spend a little time in for me to forgive its shortcomings. Lucy Punch gives a memorable supporting performance as a prostitute-turned-housewife, but if you're not a die-hard Woody Allen fan you might find it hard to sit through.

Les Savy Fav frontman Tim Harrington finds it hard to even stand still. At a packed show on Wednesday night, he frequently made his way through the small room at the Mercury Lounge to the delight of many who happily parted as he weaved through people, stopping occasionally to sing an odd lyric to a fan. One was directed at a young woman's crotch as she thrashed about inches from his face. Throughout the hour-long set, Harrington and co. played songs from their soon-to-be-released album, Root for Ruin, with a steady stream of punktastic energy. At one point, Harrington stuffed a Mardi Gras style beaded necklace in his mouth and washed it down with a big gulp from his Tecate tallboy. Now, that's hardcore.