Visual Artist Stef Halmos’ Insider Guide To NYC’s Chinatown

Stef Halmos is on the rise in New York’s visual art scene. Her signature plaster series “The Squishes” have been posting up like wild fire across social media and are being heavily collected by fashion darlings like Lisa Mayock of Monogram and Mckenzie Raley of Land of Women.

After attending art school in San Francisco, Halmos set up her studio in New York City where she continued her studies and since explored the process of molding winterstone with fibrous materials. With her newest show now up at Canal Street Market, Stef shares her insider tips on Chinatown’s classic gems.

T&T Plasticland is among my favorite stores in all of New York. Everything they sell is made of plastic, from gorgeous 6″ thick sheets to strange little bits and pieces. They also do fabrication work, and some of their sample projects are strewn about with no particular order. It’s oddly simple and comforting.
The fruit market at the corner of Mulberry & Canal is a magical, psychotic little place comprised of about 12 vendors…all with multicolor beach umbrella stands. Here you can be sure to find an assortment of magnificent fruit, all year round. The vendors and signs are all in Chinese. Sometimes I go and just take a wild stab at trying something strange I’ve never seen before.
Nam Wah Tea Parlor is the classic Chinatown spot for dim sum and overall wonderful food. It feels like an antique Chinese diner inside and the service is so fast it’ll make your head spin.
Mmuseumm is a tiny little hole in the wall museum that exhibits the “overlooked, dismissed, or ignored”. I think it is inside an old elevator shaft or something thereof. It only fits three people at a time and keeps strange hours. If you can catch it when it’s open, it is well worth a visit.
Canal Lighting & Parts has every kind of light bulb you can ever imagine. They’re all blended alongside kooky fixtures and bright neon tubes. It’s the filament equivalent of T&T Plasticland! I’m desperate to buy a ton of giant bulbs (some are up to 3 feet long) and create new work with them.
Stef Halmos displays her newest work beginning this Thursday, December 1st, through December 10th at The Canal Street Market, located at 265 Canal Street between Broadway and Lafayette, Open 11AM-8PM, 7 Days a week.

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‘Mad Men’ Adds Legendary Screenwriter Robert Towne to Its Writing Staff

As an Academy Award-winning figure of Hollywood who help lead a movement that would later become the cherished golden age of American cinema, screenwriter Robert Towne is certainly a legend. Penning acclaimed films like Drive, He Said, The Last Detail, The Parallax View, The Yakuza, Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait, The Missouri Breaks, and the iconic/historic Chinatown, his scripts aided in shaping the landscape of modern cinema and gave us some of the most incredible features of the last century. 

And now, he can add a new notch on his belt of cultural influence, as he’s just signed on as consulting producer for AMC’s Mad Men—part of the “new recruits” to the show’s writing staff from showrunner Matthew Weiner, according to Variety. As revealed yesterday, the season will be broken up into two parts a la Breaking Bad, in seven-episode pairs. So if Weiner was looking for someone that can, not only deliver the goods but has the perspective many a talented young writer does not, he’s got the best man for the job. Now if you’ll excuse me, I will be fantasizing about Gittes as Don Draper’s long lost father.
 
Check out The Writer Speaks: Robert Towne below.
 

Watch a Rare Interview With Roman Polanski & Diane Sawyer From 1994

In 1967 producer Robert Evans bribed a young Polish director Roman Polanski to read Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby with the promise of a ski trip if he enjoyed it as much as Evans thought he might. And of course, we all know how history followed from there. So after going on to make Chinatown and becoming one of the most beloved new filmmakers of the decade and a marriage to one of the most beautiful women in the world, Polanski’s life changed with the blink of an eye. After the horrific Manson murders that robbed him of a wife and his happiness, it was almost a decade later in 1977 when he was arrested for the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl.  His story has been told through films like Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out, and Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir but in a rare 1994 interview with Diane Sawyer we see the Polish director give his first interview in a decade prior to that, in which he talks about everything from the death of Sharon Tate to his exile. See for yourself below.

Second Cheap-o Chinatown Bus Line Is Dunzo

First they came for the Fung Wah bus, and I said nothing because I did not ride the Fung Wah bus. Then they came Ming An bus, calling it "an imminent threat to public safety."

 

The U.S. Department of Transportation revoked the operating license of a second cheap-o Chinatown bus line yesterday, forcing the Ming An bus line off the roads, Daily Intel reports. Ming An made $60 bus trips from Canal Street to Florida, Georgia and Virginia … rather recklessly, as it turns out. A DOT investigation found that Ming An failed to screen drivers for drug and alcohol use and "allowed unqualified" to drive buses on national highways. And for one final reassuring detail, Ming An also didn’t conduct safety checks on its buses.  

Ming An’s shutdown comes just weeks after Fung Wah buses — the original "death buses" which ran between Washington, D.C. and Boston — were taken off the roads. 

There’s always Amtrack, I suppose?

Email me at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

‘Gangster Squad’ Is the Most January Movie Ever

Any seasoned cinephile is familiar with the January Movie: something genre-driven, with a kind of gray or bluish tint, that wouldn’t even register were it not released in the dead of winter, when we’ve already seen everything good but still don’t want to sit around the living room making conversation. Gangster Squad, I am pleased to report, takes this underwhelming formula to new heights lows middles.

First up, of course, you’ve got A-list talent wandering around doing laughable noir voices—Josh Brolin is a notch below Michael Shannon’s Boardwalk Empire growl, and Ryan Gosling landed near Al Pacino’s high-pitched Godfather. The ultraviolence is a Dashiell Hammett novel rendered as Itchy & Scratchy cartoon. Oh, and never have so many dudes fired WWII-era machine guns at people five feet away and missed entirely.

It’s Sean Penn who should be really pissed, though: easily the most impotent bad-guy super-mobster in half a century. The Terminator-like good guys (seriously, one of them is Robert Patrick, who played the T-1000) basically destroy his empire throughout the movie as he rages helplessly in a mansion and never comes close to exacting any adequate revenge. Plus, terrible makeup. And it looks like they ran out of money in the final fight scene, so it’s just a bunch of dark, grainy footage that Michael Mann may have cut from Public Enemies? All it was missing, really, was a labored nod to Chinatown. Just kidding! That’s in there, too. 

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter

‘The Walking Dead’ Star Norman Reedus Leads A Quiet, Zombie-Free Life in Lower Manhattan

Norman Reedus has built a career on playing instantly memorable characters beloved by fans. First there was Murphy McManus in the cult classic The Boondock Saints, memorialized on college dorm room walls from coast to coast as an unimpeachably badass, gun-waving Catholic warrior. But it’s his role as the hotheaded Daryl Dixon—the one with the crossbow—on AMC’s hit zombie show The Walking Dead that has garnered the most attention. Initially introduced as a virulent redneck, Reedus’s Daryl slowly came into his own over the show’s first two seasons, evolving into the type of rough-edged antihero that thrives in a post-apocalyptic world. Though his character was written for the show, Reedus’s portrayal has been so immensely popular that he’s soon to be introduced in the long-running comic book, giving him an even more permanent place in the hearts of zombie-loving fans.

His stomping ground is downtown Manhattan. We catch up with him after his appearance at New York Comic Con, where hundreds of fans turned out to absorb tidbits about the show’s current season. The sweetest part, though, was the moment when those hundreds joined in on a rendition of “Happy Birthday” for his son, Mingus, who had just turned 13. Listening to him proudly talk about his son—he says, “he’s directly on the path of being taller than me, which sucks”—it becomes clear that, in comparison to the brash characters he’s famous for, Reedus is more reserved and congenial—both appreciative and down-to-earth about his success. It’s an attitude that informs this roundup of his favorite shops and restaurants in New York’s Chinatown and Little Italy neighborhoods.

Bread

20 Spring St., New York, NY, 212-334-1015

Reedus has been going to Bread, a chic yet homey bistro, for years. He orders coffee and nothing else. “I’m a creature of habit,” he says. “I go to the same places.” He takes a sharp left to a story about being given a breast implant by a devout Walking Dead fan. “Things have definitely gotten weirder over the last six months,” he dryly notes.

 

Bluebird Sky

121 Baxter St., New York, NY, 212-966-4646

Reedus is greeted warmly by the owner of this 
Little Italy cafe and gladly poses for photos with
the enthusiastic staff, most of whom grab knives in deference to his bloody fictional life. Asked what first drew him here, his answer is simple: “It’s right across the street from my house.”

 

Aqua Star Pet Shop

172 Mulberry St., New York, NY, 212-431-4311

We get a little waylaid in between locations as Reedus gets a shoeshine from a wizened Chinese man, then befriends one of the cats roaming the streets. When we get to this hole-in-the-wall pet store, the first thing we see are crickets, and lots of them. “My son has two bearded dragon lizards, so I buy the crickets for them,” he proudly announces.

 

21 Crosby Deli Grocery

21 Crosby St., New York, NY, 212-966-2020

This pint-sized deli is decidedly unglamorous, but that’s the point: it’s a local grocery, one that Reedus only frequents in order to buy cat food for the black cat he found for his son a number of years ago. “He would only eat the shittiest cat food,” Reedus says with a shrug.

 

Caffe Roma

385 Broome St., New York, NY, 212-226-8413

“Coffee, cats, and cigarettes. That’s all I do.” Indeed, we’re at another low-key Little Italy cafe where he seems to know the entire staff. He even claims to have met some of the directors of his movies here. “I just get coffee, and that’s it,” he says. “Even with the tourists up and down the street it’s very comfortable, you know what I mean?”

Photography by Janira Martinez.