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Douglas Singleton

My NYC Beaches

Early one morning, summers ago someone I cared deeply about and I decided to take a day trip out to Fire Island. We took the Long Island Railroad out to Sayville and then a ferry ride from there out to the island. Here we bought bread and cheese, some tomatoes, and then walked out to the beach where we remained the whole day. We swam intermittently, ate, read, and lay out together. It was a warm day and the swimming was good.

BLOOD, BONES, BUTTER— Love in the Time of Prune

I did not meet my wife at Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune in the East Village (that distinction belongs to Moto, the wine bar under the J train in South Williamsburg) but a lot of our early courting was done across the restaurant’s bar. She was a bartender, and I’d gaze at her while she mixed drinks

Mos Def and the New Old Magic

Mos Def’s True Magic is anything but the throwaway recording it is often accused of being; it is in fact a very serious culmination of this hip-hop artist’s musical progression.

Millennium Mambo Boogie

Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s films are meticulous, slow meditations on facets of Chinese life. His films methodically contemplate the temperament of individual moments, of time slowed down. They possess an almost formalist logic that calls to mind the work of Cézanne— Hsiao-hsien is as much artist as narrative filmmaker.

Afro-Punk: The Rock and Roll Nigger Experience

We build cultural identities to survive, fit in, feel comfort. But as James Spooner’s film Afro-Punk: The Rock and Roll Nigger Experience explores, a subculture exists in which African-American youth embrace the underground punk scene as a cultural identity base— a choice that at first glance seems like an odd marriage.

Bubba Ho-Tep

"Why didn’t fame hold off old age and death?" Bubba Ho-Tep is a classic B-movie—low-budget, sensational, absurd, laden with subtext, and mind-boggling. Beloved cult actor Bruce Campbell (of the Evil Dead movies and TV’s Xena: Warrior Princess) plays an aging Elvis, one who faked his death, worked as an Elvis impersonator for decades, and now resides in Shady Rest, a dreary retirement home in the bowels of East Texas, where of course no one believes who he is. This Elvis is full of remorse: about the costs of fame, his inability to deal with his life, his drug use, and having abandoned his wife and only child.

The Blonds: Slippery Slope of Truth

The Blonds (Los Rubios) is a fascinating, well-crafted quasi-documentary that nonetheless is a study in frustration. It is frustrating in its inability to ever really confront the material it purports to explore—the political murder of its filmmaker Albertina Carri’s leftist parents by the Argentine secret police in 1977.

2046: Wong Kar–Wai’s Finest Moment

“Every passenger who goes to 2046 has the same intention, to recapture lost memories.”

African Diaspora Festival at BAM

“When pure water becomes murky, mystery is king.”

Straight Outta Compton

Rize follows a tried and true formula: find a sexy subculture, preferably from within a disenfranchised social strata, mold an uplifting story of struggle against adversity, and close with a sense of escape and hope.

Real People in Crisis Bushwick’s Youth Theater Struggles to Survive

This past spring the youngsters of Real People Theater Company staged a production of Milton’s Paradise Lost at their Bushwick, Brooklyn performance space that was so raw, articulate and powerful that it blew away those of us lucky enough to have witnessed it.

On the Radio: Splendor and Death of Porfirio Rubirosa

Poet, assassin, playboy, Porfirio Rubirosa speeds through the winding streets of Paris in his silver Ferrari, senses dulled by age and drink, time running out. Over the engine’s arrogant purr he cries out…


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues