October 21, 2011

My take on The Chew

The audience at The Chew.

If you pay attention to food television, you've probably already heard about The Chew, the new ABC Daytime show that ostensibly covers 'all angles of food.' Last month, through the kindness of Nichelle of Cupcakes Take The Cake, I scored a ticket to one of the first tapings of the show.

You can read my reaction to the show on at guest post I did on Mouth of the Border.

June 4, 2010

On Examiner: Summer Concert Season Begins

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With City Seen up, I've finally got some time and attention to get shooting for my nightlife column on Examiner.

And just in time for summer concert season to begun. The same day I put up the show, I headed out to Red Hook Park to catch Jay Electronica open up The Summerstage series.

The summer looks like it will be a good one for shows. Big Daddy Kane is playing at Von King (Marcy) Park in Bed-Stuy, Antibalas, the band behind Fela! is playing as part of the River to River festival and all sorts of acts will be in Williamsburg as part of the Northside Festival.

I'm hoping to get out to as many as I can over the course of the summer to put my new camera through its paces. I also want to take another crack at shooting street musicians in the parks around the city.

February 11, 2010

This Week on Examiner: Beats, Books and Beer in Brooklyn

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It's been a busy Brooklyn week on my Examiner column. Monday started out with a recap of the weekend's Donuts are Forever, hosted at the Bell House by RareForm and the J Dilla Foundation. The event was a celebration of the life and music of the man many consider to have been the best producer in hip-hop. Aficionados jammed into the space to hear a slew of DJs, headlined by Questlove of The Roots take on Dilla's body of work.

I was pretty excited to have the extended access that I did, allowing me to be on stage and behind the scenes. I'm also pretty proud of myself for not swooning about being right up next to Questlove and instead getting what I think are some pretty good shots of him on stage.

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Monday night, I went in an entirely different direction and covered the Franklin Park Reading Series in Crown Heights. I really enjoyed the Mixer Series reading I went to last month and was glad to go to another similar event. I never seem to have time to read books and I really regret that. Hopefully, going to more of these readings will motivate me to focus on something longer than a blog post or a recipe.

The readers included a familiar face, Melissa Febos, who I met last month hosting the Mixer, was reading from her own new book, Whip Smart, to be released next month. Masha Hamilton, above, split her time between reading from her book 31 Hours and stories written by her students at the Afghan Women's Writing Project. John Wray rounded out the evening with an except from Low Boy, which took me back to my days as a teenager wandering the streets of New York.


This week, I also posted about the Brokelyn Beer Book, a collection of drink tickets for one beer each at 25 of the better beer establishments around the better borough. I ordered mine right away and plan to make a regular feature of reporting from each of them as I go from place to place.

Check out more photos from the reading and the Donuts are Forever 4 after the jump:

Continue reading "This Week on Examiner: Beats, Books and Beer in Brooklyn" »

January 23, 2010

This Week on Examiner: Adding some culture

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This week I went a little outside my usual area of coverage on Examiner. Jazz and Poetry are both art forms that I respect, yet know little about. So, I jumped in and covered a bit of both.

Nearly every venue in town this week has been hosting benefits for charities providing aid and service to Haiti's Earthquake victims. With so much else going on this week, I only got to cover one of them, L'Union Fait Force at Le Poisson Rouge.

The coolest part of the show was watching the Doctor Lonnie Smith Trio perform with Trumpeter Roy Hargrove. Smith (top) is a great showman whose flair added excitement to the show. Hargrove on the horn was wonderful.

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There was plenty more going on: Dance, Haitian drums, a pair of guitarists and the Vijay Iyer Trio, which is actually what drew me to the event. That morning, WNYC announced the event and played some of the Trio's take on Mystic Brew - better known to those of a 'certain age' as the basis of the classic "Electric Relaxation" by A Tribe Called Quest.

The show was fun and eclectic and went late into the night. I was so wiped out, I had to take off before the last set even started, missing hosts Groove Collective perform with Bernie Worrell of Funkadelic.

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On Wednesday, I changed things up a bit with by covering the Mixer Series at Cake Shop in the Lower East Side. It's a monthly series that hosts poets and authors reading their recent work. And first up was Tess Taylor, above, a classmate in college. We hadn't seen each other in at least the 10 years since graduation, but it was good to catch up, however briefly.

I don't know the first thing about poetry and I don't read books nearly as much as I should, but it was a great experience being surrounded by smart people enjoying intelligent things. I really hope to keep going to future Mixers.

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Among the other readers was Steve Geng, who read scenes from his new book, Bop City about Paris during the Algerian war. Just in the 15 minutes he was up there, he touched on themes of terrorism, sex, race, and French culture that fascinated me.

After the jump, more photos from both events...

Continue reading "This Week on Examiner: Adding some culture" »

October 4, 2009

Examiner: The Roots play Brooklyn Bowl

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Thursday night, I covered The Ten Dollar Coolhunter Jam hosted by the Roots at Brooklyn Bowl for It was a great show and all the more exciting to me because, even though I've been a fan of The Roots for 13 years, I haven't seen them live since 2001.

I was right up front and got a bunch of up close shots of the band, the other groups performing and Talib Kweli, who was a surprise guest.

It was also pretty awesome because I hadn't heard of nearly any of the other groups performing and they were all really interesting, playing music that I'd definitely like to hear more of. Personally, I was really blown away by Bajah + the Dry Eye Crew from Sierra Leone. The music brought in influences from all over the place and they just had so much energy on stage that it was palpable.

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Check out the post on the Examiner for links, a slideshow and more details. Even more photos posted on Flickr.

September 28, 2009

Self-Promotion: I'm an Examiner

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One of the many factors impinging on my blog update time lately has been my new gig on, a website made up of locals reviewing and reporting on various beats in their area. I'm now their New York nightlife photographer and have been posting on events for the week or so.

So far, I've covered an art opening at Madame X, the anniversary party at Sweet Revenge, and last weekend's I Love Vinyl Party.

If you've got a party, opening or anything else generally nightlife-y going on, let me know and I'll try to come through to cover it.

Stop by the site early and often, as I'm trying to put together posts several times a week. If you want to get it in your feed reader, you can also subscribe.

That said, I do hope to get posting here as well over the next couple days. I've got photos and stories from Seattle, Vancouver and a few leftover from Philly and Los Angeles.

March 31, 2009

NC: Tar Heels Country


While we were in town, The Tar Heels won twice, moving up to the Final Four. We didn't spend any time watching the NCAA tournament this weekend, but there was no escaping the March Madness.

More than usual, Carolina Blue was on display all over town and even the local wine bar, West End, was jammed with fans watching the team beat the (ahem) tar out of Oklahoma.

July 17, 2008

Breakdancing at the Library

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New York Public Library, Midtown, NYC. 2006.

This troupe performs on Fifth Avenue in front of the Main Branch of the New York Public Library. The most obvious member in the group is Q, a Japanese woman who was highlighted in a NY Times article last year. She's not just there as a gimmick though. Her moves are daring and playful. The rest of the group did their thing as well. I particularly liked the popper who strutted and bounced back and forth, posing the whole time.

Note: I posted the photo above among others and the description below to Flickr when I first signed up. I hadn't planned on blogging, so I just editorialized in the set description. I just came across it and thought a repost was in order.

June 9, 2008

DJ Juice E Spins i2Y

IMG_9241, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

A couple weeks ago at Habana Outpost Jon introduced me to Emily a.k.a. DJ Juice E, whose spiffy record case is pictured above. She spins for the Sucia party at Madame X on Wednesday nights, which I've been meaning to check out for a while just based on the flyer.

Last week I got an email blast from her about an event she'll be working thrown by a group called i2Y or "I'm too young for this" that offers support and resources for cancer patients under 40 years old. It turns out Emily is a recently recovered cancer survivor herself and has seen many of the benefits a group like this offers.

I can't begin to condense her message out to everyone so I'll post it after the jump, but first, here are the details of the party:

Stupid Cancer Gala NYC '08
Thursday June 19th, 7pm-11pm
Taj Lounge 48 West 21st Street
Tickets: $25 on the Web & $40 at the Door.

Continue reading "DJ Juice E Spins i2Y" »

May 4, 2008

Love Child

IMG_5679, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Friday night, I saw Love Child a band headed up by some friends from college, Ethan and Nicole, who I hadn't seen in years.

The show was great, mixing Rock, Soul and Hip-hop influences. I totally geeked out at the setup Ethan had. He mixed beats that the band had pre-recorded using a game controller to interface with Pro Tools on his MacBook. It was pretty awesome.

Update: See photos from the show here.

June 12, 2007

Japanese Baseball


Tammi and I went to see the Tokyo's Yamuiri (sp?) Giants play last night (Monday).

The baseball ritual in Japan is fascinating. The stadium is split between the two sides and each side has songs and chants and rituals for each player.

The entire experience was fun and culturally very interesting, but the best part has to have been the beer girls. Unlike stadiums in the US where pisswater beer is poured and then carried around until when you finally get it, it's warm and flat, this beer is always fresh. That's because they pour it in front of you... from a keg... on their back! Yeah, really.

I love this place.

May 15, 2007

Wonder-Full Party

(Originally Posted on The Brooklyn Record):

Saturday night in Willamsburg, hundreds came out to for "WONDER-Full IX - An annual tribute to the genius Stevie Wonder" at the Sugar Factory. World famous DJs Bobbito and DJ Spinna came together once again to play any and every song that the legendary Stevie had a hand in. Any songs written and ghost-written by the artist were fair game, as were songs that sampled his works. Now hosted by Keistar Productions, Wonder-Full started out nine years ago as a way to celebrate the Stevie Wonder's birthday, May 13th. Back then, the crowd was small enough to fit in a venue with a 75-person capacity. This weekend there were easily over 1000 party-goers in attendance in the 14,000 square foot, multi-level venue.

While glad for the success, some worry that the party may have lost something. DJ Jon Oliver has been attending these parties for years and plugged it on his website weeks ago. After it was all over though, he worried that all the hype may have backfired.

This year's Wonder-Full party did not feel as intimate as in previous years. Their success is well-deserved but as is always the case, when an event becomes "the place to be" you get less people coming for (in this case) love of Stevie Wonder and more people who just want to be up on what's hot.

-clay williams

Photo of DJ Bobbito by Ultraclay!

May 14, 2007

Fort Greene Street Party

(Originally Posted on The Brooklyn Record):


The fine folks at Habana Outpost pulled out all the stops this weekend. Their re-opening party spilled out onto South Portland Street, the festivities took over the block as local artisans sold their wares, clowns and other performers wandered about and bands played on for the crowd. Hundreds came out for the first cuban sandwiches and mexican corn of the year to be served out of the big red truck at the heart of it all.

We were there for much of the afternoon listening to the DJ alternate with Conjunto Guantanamo, a Cuban band based in DUMBO. The stilt-walkers danced above us as we sat out in the sun. We missed it, but the circus atmosphere took a more mature turn in the evening with a fashion show followed later by a burlesque performance.

Habana Outpost, 757 Fulton Street (at So. Portland); (718) 858-9500.

-clay williams

Photo by ultraclay!

May 12, 2007

Talk Radio

I can count on one hand the number of broadway shows I've been to. I often hear about plays (never musicals) that I might be interested in seeing, but I rarely end up actually going. So, when Tammi offered to get a couple tickets to TalkRadio, I was psyched that one of us had some follow through.

I really wanted to see 12 Angry Men but ended up missing it. I had heard great things about Liev Schrieber's performance in it. He managed to beat out some really talented folks, including fellow castmembers for the Tony that year.

I don't know a lot about theatre and I mostly know Bogosian as the new captain on Law & Order: CI. Regardless, I obviously have an opinion on the show, however uninformed.

I enjoyed it, but I thought there were a couple of areas where it could have benefited from some subtlety on the actors' parts.

The biggest example of this is the drunken cataclysm in the end. It's very well done. Tammi said he really seemed like he was plastered up there. To me, the problem was that he was never tipsy. There was no transition in most of the major things that happened in the play. It was like a switch was flipped and everything turned upside down.

The other complaint was Stephanie March, who I also know from Law & Order. She clearly hasn't adjusted to the stage. Instead of projecting her first several lines, she seemed to be yelling at us. She did get better over the course of the show.


April 30, 2007

Flicks: The Conversation

Hackman’s Harry Caul is a precursor to the role he played in “Enemy of the State,” right down to the abandoned warehouse headquarters. The details may be different, but the newer movie's Brill obviously channeled Harry Caul as a grumpy old man.

Throughout The Conversation, Caul embodies haunted loneliness. In the middle of a party, he’s all by himself. Every scene displays a new angle to the barriers Harry has raised between him and the world, his girlfriend, his partner, everyone. He’s afraid to open up to anyone, to trust anyone. Then in one scene and each subsequent scene that solitary life is justified.

The party was the decisive moment. As soon as he let’s down his guard, he’s punished for it. He opens up his fortress, literally and figuratively, allowing others in. From then on he gets his teeth kicked in at every turn. His jealous colleague badgers and humiliates him. Everyone he allows himself to trust betrays him, including those he wants to save.

In the end, he destroys nearly everything of value to him in order to regain the security he once had.

Continue reading "Flicks: The Conversation" »

March 2, 2007

Losing Lost


Ok, so TV bugs me. I spent a good few years not watching TV at all. I really enjoyed it. But, in the last couple years, I've been sucked in by a handful of shows that were my 'gateway drug' back into the world of television. Lost was one of those shows. I rented the first disc of season one from Netflix and bought the entire boxed set the next day. Tammi and I were engrossed. We watched the entire first season in 3 days.

Before I had even seen Lost I was impressed by the fact that it could juggle so many characters. Lost amazed me with its ability to juggle such a large cast without marginalizing any of them. Nearly every episode managed to include most of the cast even while delving into the backstory of one in particular. Characters developed individually, but the show never lost track of the rest of the cast.

That was then.

These days the show has so many dangling plot threads that no one can keep track of them. It's made worse by the fact that this season months have gone by without central characters appearing. Where every show used to bounce between plot lines, advancing them all even a little bit, now it plods through single plot lines for weeks, occasionally reminding the viewer of others that were left hanging months before. Two weeks ago, at the beginning of the Desmond episode, Sayid and Locke were giving the news about Eko. They were just getting back to a plot from an episode that aired in October! And then it was forgotten all over again.

In the meantime, after killing off great characters who seemed deeply intertwined with the larger story, they keep packing in new random people who we're allegedly supposed to care about.

And none of that even gets to the fact that they have not resolved a single thing. Ever.

Well, I'm done. I'm tired of wasting my time. I deleted every episode from my DVR and took it off of my scheduled recording list. If I ever catch the urge to watch it, I'll go back to season 1 and maybe some of season 2. As of right now, though, I don't care about Jack or Sawyer or Kate or cursed little Charlie. I'm sick of it.


Continue reading "Losing Lost" »

February 8, 2007

Toronto: The Sunday Lime

iflute?, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Summer 2005: Tammi and I took a long weekend out to Toronto. The timing was perfect. The weather was gorgeous and there just happened to be a graffiti festival on Queen Street. We wandered about and I shot some of the fresh art up on the walls.
Sunday afternoon, we headed back to Queen to catch the last of the festival. We could hear music from a block away. It was coming from a bar called Big Papa's Bordello. In the fenced off garden space, we could see musicians playing as the DJ spun beats.

This was the bar's Sunday ritual, the Sunday Lime. Musicians from a group called The iDrum Collective played percussion over what Tammi called 'soulful house.' I don't know from House music, but this wasn't like any I'd heard before. It was a mix of funk and soul and the songs just flowed into each other. What drew me in the most was the musicians. There wasn't much structure to the group, The flowed in and out just like the music. They came and walked off periodically. They switched instruments from time to time, one guy drummed for a while, then took out a trumpet and played that.

A little before we left, an older man came in and hung out for a few minutes. He chat with the others for a bit, then he took out his flute. He hooked up his mic and caught the beat. As he played, he meandered through the garden passing us by, bending and moving with his lilting tune.

When he was ready for his solo, he waved his arm with a flair.
"Just like that." The band held the beat and the old man took over.

He finished, packed up his flute, said his goodbyes and left.

Continue reading "Toronto: The Sunday Lime" »

February 5, 2007

Flicks: 3 Days of the Condor

Redford plays the accidental hero, a bookworm in way over his head. “I read books!” is his mantra. It’s heresy to compare the two, but it reminds me of The Rock. Obviously better, but it’s clear where The Rock and movies like it got their inspiration. Nicholas Cage's wincing and whining about being a lab rat, definitely descend from Redford's character. In the same way, there’s plenty of North by Northwest in there. The intrigue and the betrayals come flying from every corner. Neither the hero nor the viewer has any idea of who to trust.

Of course, Faye Dunaway had much more depth and personality than Eva Marie Saint and Redford’s shaggy hair and panicked demeanor is nothing like Grant. Redford is flawed and disheveled, very smart, but also very scared. Even confused, drunk and kidnapped, Cary Grant’s in full control of himself if nothing else. Redford demonstrates Condor’s braininess in subtle ways. He doesn’t go all MacGuyver left and right making laser canons out of a flashlight and a magnifying glass. Instead, he sprinkles in some locksmith lingo and knows his way around a phone closet.

Continue reading "Flicks: 3 Days of the Condor" »

February 3, 2007

New Flicks: Ali

I just watched Ali last night. This wasn't a part of the original 'flicks' postings that I'm re-serializing here.

Like those posts, I'm not really reviewing as much as writing my reactions and observations.

The first thing about Ali is that it really did seem to employ nearly every black actor who has ever appeared on screen. I swear everyone was in this movie. Really. Look at the cast list. The black dude from Hackers is in it.

What I notice about the plot is that not a single good thing seems to come to Ali from joining The Nation. I'm going to leave it at that and refrain from expounding on my views on religion. Suffice it to say that NOI appeared to be just another fair weather friend. This is interesting since, the plot of the movie seems to be focused around the changing of his name and his joining NOI. It shows the stands that he took and the sacrifices he made, but little about how he came to join or any way that he benefited from joining. His ideals, his opinions and his personality all seem to be his own, not owed to The Nation or anyone else.

Continue reading "New Flicks: Ali" »

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