Alienation And Weirdness At Tao Lin’s Book Launch Party

This week marks the publication of Internet lit kingpin Tao Lin’s seventh book, the perhaps-more-autobiographical-than-usual Taipei. Wednesday evening there was a party to celebrate at indie bookstore powerHouse Arena in Dumbo. Here’s how it was for your BlackBook correspondent (a somewhat less well-known novelist) to attend:

7:50 Arrive 50 fashionable minutes late, knowing I need a large crowd if I’m not to look appallingly awkward. Lots of people smoking outside. Speak to a Salon reporter who is shoveling a giant Poland Spring bottle into his backpack. Inadvertently interrupt his conversation with a smoker in a red dress whom I then realize is Marie Calloway, whose own book, what purpose did i serve in your life, is doing quite well despite three publishers balking at its “obscene” content. Have no idea what to say. Run inside.

7:55 Notice the crowd is twice as big as most literary parties that happen in this space, and the booze line is about four times longer than average. Get on line for booze. Encounter a prominent reading organizer who asks if I see anyone from Vintage (Taipei’s publisher). We decide the actual publishing people must be the ones in neckties, etc., as most others are out of hipster central casting.

8:05 Burrow as deep into crowd of strangers as I can. Sip wine. Realize I haven’t eaten yet. Listen to the music DJ’d by two Pitchfork writers. Not bad. Spot Lin himself sitting atop amphitheater steps, drinking just sparkling San Pellegrino: the classic pillhead cocktail. Begin to look around with an eye as to who might be a drug dealer. Approach none of my guesses.

8:15 The editor for Taipei makes a few strained remarks (leading off with a standard publishing joke about drinking, no laughs) as Lin sits back and records the whole thing on his iPhone. Briefly concerned that I may be in the background of this video, but think I’m okay. Editor does get one laugh, by relaying a line from the New York Times book review (“like Hemingway filtered through Twitter and Klonopin”) and then instructs us to “exhaust the wine supply.”

8:16 Get on the wine line again, this time behind Marie Calloway, who turns around and locks eyes, and I have the fleeting fear that I’m about to puke on her. Discussion with other dude about whether we are on the line for wine or the line to get books signed. Some confusion. 

8:17 Wine supply exhausted.

8:20 Lost time. Think I sat down for a minute and tried to sip the last wine as slowly as possible to stave off impending anxiety attack. Enjoying Pitchfork DJs. Consider going up to tell them so, as have nothing better to do. Ultimately too nervous.

8:40 Get in finally shortening line to get book signed. Only have an old book by Steven Millhauser. I don’t know Tao personally, but we each know whom the other is, kind of, so I think he might think it’s funny, especially if he’s high, as he must be.

8:45 Notice guy in vintage Tommy Hilfiger t-shirt who is pulling Presidente beers out of his backpack. Having finished the wine, offer to buy one of the beers off him. He only has one left and it’s got someone else’s name on it. I tell him he’s a good friend. “I am,” he agrees thoughtfully.

8:50 Party almost over, looks like Tao is told to speed up the signing process. He nods when I ask him to sign the book he didn’t write and puts down “T. Miles Klee” on the title page, with sunrays shooting out of it. Collector’s item for sure. Without knowing why, I drum the back of his non-writing hand enthusiastically. It’s odd.

8:55 Feeling guilty, actually do buy a copy of Taipei on the way out.

9:05 Stop by reBar, where the afterparty is being held for no good reason whatsoever. Say goodbye to some people I never said hi to. Order a beer and drink it quickly and leave. It’s a long subway ride back to Harlem.

1:30 p.m. the following day: Place Taipei on my formidable to-read pile and notice the shiny typeface glinting on its spine. Seems faintly mocking. 

Follow Miles on Twitter here

Photo: Canteen Mag.

A Night Out In DUMBO

With legends like the River Café and Grimaldi’s still packed, the closing of family-favorite Bubby’s, and the arrival of bakery One Girl Cookies and a massive carousel, DUMBO is a neighborhood transformed. Its age is found in its cobblestone streets, its youth in the people it attracts, and its timelessness in its brilliant views. As a former DUMBO resident myself, I’ve watched it evolve from an area without a Starbucks, to the arts and beauty capital of Brooklyn, with stars like Anne Hathaway and Uma Thurman moving in. So it is with much love that I recommend this week’s neighborhood itinerary: a night out in DUMBO.

Stop 1: Have a homemade pasta dinner at Bevacco.

Skip nearby Noodle Pudding and come here. This classy and romantic Italian spot nestled in Brooklyn Heights does one thing better than any other place in New York: it makes it so you don’t have to go to Italy. Every pasta dish at Bevacco has a texture that’s thick, homemade, fresh, and riddled with garlic, seafood, and marinara in a light, yet indulgent way. Hit signature dishes include the asparagus avocado salad with hard-boiled egg, the branzino with spinach and pink peppercorn sauce, and the crispy and sensational bucatini aglio e oglio with toasted garlic and thick al fresco, homemade pasta. Complete the Bevacco experience with their cream-filled Il Bombolone doughnut, and you’ll be back for brunch the next day – guaranteed.

Stop 2: See Mies Julie  at St. Ann’s Warehouse.

Have you ever been quieted and invigorated at the same time? Have you ever seen a show, and thought to yourself, “Did I really just see what I just saw?” This coming Sunday, the off-Broadway play Mies Julie – a post-apartheid drama about a night-in-the-life of a black farm laborer and his “master’s” daughter –  performs its last show at St. Ann’s Warehouse, which means you have only seven opportunities left to have a theatrical experience in Brooklyn that rivals anything in midtown.

Stop 3. Grab a drink at reBar.

This neighboring indie and intimate gastropub theatre is home to a savory French toast bursting with brie cheese batter and egg, over a dozen beers on tap, and an award-winning cinema that presents new indie movies and panels every weekend. And reBar’s theatre, known as reRun, serves homemade, hot pretzels you can eat while you’re watching the movie. I know, it’s like heaven. In Brooklyn. 

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here.

IT’S HUMP DAY: This Week’s Sexiest NYC Events

It’s Wednesday and you know what that means: we get our hump on. This weekly column is devoted to finding the hottest events across NYC that’ll arouse and titillate even the most jaded New Yorker. Partake in these shows and soirees across NYC and make tonight – and the rest of your nights this week – very sexy.

Topless Girls Caroling:
I mean, this is a no-brainer. Burlesque dancers from three different troupes join together at LES rock club R Bar on Saturday to sing and desecrate your favorite Christmas tunes like, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.”  Whoops! Ah well, no holiday is safe from the ire of guttered minds. Sat., Dec. 8th at R Bar, 7pm. All the details here.

The Sixth Annual Menorah Horah:
Hanukkah hotness hits Highline Ballroom on Sunday, when Jewish international burlesque duo The Schlep Sisters hold a pageant-style show where eight Hanukkah hopefuls vie for a spot in the very-exclusive Menorah Horah Royalty. Retro swimsuits and dreidel and latke songs included. Who will compete? Who will win the crown? I’m schvitzing just thinking about it. Bring your JDateSun., Dec. 9th at Highline Ballroom, 6pm, $25. All the details here.

Mies Julie:
NYT theatre critic Ben Brantley said “There is more erotic heat generated by the play’s two central characters than in any production in town.” And well, crap, if even stoic Brantley is turned on, then you can be sure you’ll be too when witnessing the off-Broadway play Mies Julie, a night-in-the-life of a black farm laborer and his “master’s” daughter in this smoldering post-apartheid drama. When the show’s over, release some steam at neighboring indie & intimate gastropub reBar.
Show runs until Sun., Dec. 16th at St. Ann’s Warehouse, $70. All the details here.

Naked Holidays:
Alright, so if topless just isn’t enough, ya big ol’ horndog you, then get a front-row seat to the sixth annual off-Broadway show Naked Holidays, where the cast –  wearing scarves and Santa hats (and only those) – perform their own raunchy spins on Yuletide classics, like “Dad Came Out This Christmas,” and “The Big Toy Chest.” After the show, head to Theatre District landmark and holiday-decorated Smith’s Bar for a drink and live music by (clothed) local performers. Show runs nightly until Sun., Dec. 30th at Roy Arias Studios, $57.50. All the details here.

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here.