Oct 14, 2010

A Few Words with Comedian Brian Posehn

If you haven't heard of funny man Brian Posehn, chances are you've seen his work--with a resume that includes "The Sarah Silverman Show," the original "Comedians of Comedy," regular appearances on Comedy Central's Roasts and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." This weekend, he's headlining four shows at Comix (Fri. and Sat. at 8pm and 10:30pm; buy tickets here). In honor of his visit to New York, I asked Brian to tell us about five of his favorite places in the city. Here's what he had to say (so now you can stalk him this weekend. You're welcome).

(1) The Burger Joint at the Parker Meridien: It's a burger joint hidden inside the lobby of a fancy pants hotel, like most good burger joints. Perfect, simple burger and a surly but friendly staff straight out of that old "SNL" Cheeseburger Cheeseburger sketch.

(2) Midtown Comics: Huge two-level comic shop right by Times Square. All the nerds are tough New Yorkers. I had never been afraid for my life while perusing Batman trade paperbacks before I found this shop.

(3) Vasacs Horseshoe Bar/ 7B: Great little dive bar in the East Village. The jukebox is totally metal and they have a Buck Hunter game. And you might even glimpse the ghost of David Cross.

(4) Original Original Original Original Ray's Pizza: This is the best one in the city. I forget where it is, I was very drunk. But it is worth finding.

(5) Morimoto NYC: Yes, this is the best sushi I've had in NYC. Yes, it's that frowny "Iron Chef" dude. The real secret to why his food is so awesome is that angels jerk off on it before it makes it to your table. Sounds gross, but try the miso cod and you'll thank me and those angels.

Sep 29, 2010

The Gold-Digger's Guide to Meeting Men

Are you an attractive New York woman looking to support your gaudy lifestyle without working or contributing to society in any way? Then you're in luck! At these five bars, there are plenty of wealthy men ready to shower beautiful young ladies with free booze and lavish gifts, and all they require in return is the pleasure of your company. Oh, and also, you might have to sleep with them. (Photo by szlea on Flickr)

Few New York hot spots manage to stay hot, but this sleek, swank lounge at the Gramercy Park Hotel has been attracting the rich and famous since 2006. Wear something chic and snag a seat at the bar; then act bored until that dreamy Hermes-clad “hipster” offers to buy you a $20 cocktail. And if he doesn’t, make eyes at the old creep in the corner: If he got in, it’s because he knows how to tip, which is good news for you.

Unlike the downtown hot spots, the Carlyle Hotel's timeless cocktail bar attracts a more refined class of well-to-do gentlemen. Sure, they may be fat, bald and married, but so are all the best sugar daddies. Plus, at Bemelmans, a pretty young girl is more of a novelty: The last time these guys got a taste of a 25-year-old, it came in a bottle of Macallan.

All men love strip clubs, and the wealthier ones flock to the Hustler Club for the top-quality steaks and above-average talent. Linger near the private rooms and be prepared to pounce on an overpaid Wall Street executive right after a lap dance. Even for the most homely maiden, seducing a guy who just dropped $1K on a girl who didn’t put out is as easy as, well, seducing a guy who just dropped $1K on a girl who didn’t put out.

Are you searching for your very own Patrick Bateman--tall, dark, handsome and a big deal in the '80s--sans the psycho killer part? If Dorsia was booked, Bateman and his crew might be found at Graydon Carter’s midtown hangout, where a sea of Armani suits gather each night after work to drink heavily, compare business cards and talk about their female coworkers in a way that’s borderline illegal.

What happens when you take a swank Upper East Side space and fill it with cigar smoke and fine whiskeys? A would-be sugar baby’s dream scenario. Men who smoke cigars tend to be rich (after all, they can just pay the cancer to go away, right?), and with but a handful of smoke-friendly establishments left in New York, Lexington Bar and Books is a go-to spot for the type of hedge-fund d-bags who only like to hang out with girls too stupid to know what a hedge fund is.

Sep 10, 2010

Best New York Bars for a One-Night Stand

Thank god for alcohol, without which no one would ever have gotten laid--least of all that snaggletoothed disaster sitting at the bar. But after a few car bombs, she starts to look pretty good, and soon it's off to your place for a night of ... well, you know. But not every New York bar is conducive to meeting Mr. or Ms. Right Now. Where to go when you're on the market for a good old-fashioned, no-strings-attached one-night stand? These six bars, where the pretenses are low and the odds of scoring are high. 

There's a reason why the notorious Preppy Killer selected his victim at Dorrian's: It's easy to get a girl to leave with you. I don't know whether it's the stench of Burberry cologne on the dudes or the blinding Lily Pulitzer yellows on the girls, but something about Club D makes everyone want to do really depraved things with a stranger. 

Are you in the market for a one-night stand, preferably one that involves a fake socialite with a real eating disorder? You're in luck, because overpriced drinks are only one of the things Southside is peddling; guaranteed anonymous hookups are the other. 

Just because you have an ironic moustache doesn't mean you don't deserve to get laid (or does it?). Regardless, when hipsters get lonely, they head to Williamsburg's most notorious pickup bar to drink heavily and go home with other misbegotten artists (read: bartenders), and then spend the next week trolling the Craigslist "Missed Connections" archives for posts about themselves. 

Here are some words that come to mind when I think about this Soho spot: Boozy. Sloppy. Sweaty. Crowded. Incidentally, the same words could be used to describe the kind of sexual encounters that tend to result from a long night of drinking at The Anchor--except, perhaps, crowded. Unless you're into that sort of thing. 

Don't let the post-12am line outside fool you: This is a dirty dive bar, through and through. And it's packed with drunken 20-somethings looking to relive their college days by making questionable decisions in someone else's bedroom. If that happens to end with a walk of shame circa 10am, everyone's a winner. 

This hip Lower East Side bar has been helping New Yorkers get laid for years, thanks to super cheap drinks and good music that's just loud enough to discourage excessive getting-to-know-you conversation. Stick the basics--what's your name, where do you live, is it contagious--then book it to her place.

Sep 1, 2010

New York Bars I've Fallen Down In

Every true drinker has woken up at least once to discover a bruise or drinking-related injury from the previous night. Me, more than others. Since the day I turned 18--er, 21--I've displayed an almost magnificent tendency to drink, slip and fall, and I've done it at bars across New York City. Why am I telling you all this? Because I'm drunk now, obviously. But seriously, watch your step at these seven bars, or you could end up like me--and as my parents can confirm, you really don't want that. 

The stairs that lead down to this exclusive Lower East Side lounge are steep (especially that last one, which is deeper than it looks)--hence the "watch your step" sign. But pounding Jameson on the rocks really isn't conducive to watching anything other than your life flash before your eyes, which might explain why I fell down the whole flight not long ago. Anthony, the bouncer, kindly insisted that it wasn't that bad a fall, but the bruises I incurred told a different story.  

Given my penchant for falling, I probably shouldn't be allowed out of the house at all, let alone while rocking four-inch heels. Particularly if it's raining. I made it up the front steps to this West Village hot spot (named for Janis Joplin, who once lived in the building) just fine; the problem arose when I tried to navigate the steps inside to get down to the subterranean lounge. My heels were wet, the stairs were slippery and the crowd of witnesses down below gave me a standing ovation. Hey, at least someone was able to stand. 

This East Village classic has experienced a resurgence since the debut of its lower-level lounge, which boasts a second bar, a DJ and a more dancey vibe. The plus side about falling down the stairs at Von is that you can't really be seen by anyone because there are doors at both ends. The downside is, when you're even looking for a plus side in this situation, your life is pretty much over.
I used to bartend at the now-defunct Martignetti Liquors, so when my bosses opened this swanky subterranean spot in Nolita, it became my very own Cheers bar. Unfortunately, my name wasn't the only thing everyone knew; my inclination to spontaneously fall after one too many Warchild shots (bourbon, peach schnapps and sour mix) was another. If I told you how many times the bouncer, Q, has peeled me up off the stairs, you would feel sick. What's that you say? You already feel sick from reading this?

One of the few Soho spots with real staying power, Sway is like the scene of the crime--where the crime in question is "things I do when I drink." Regulars know that the back room is where it's at: The bar is easier to access than the main bar up front, the banquettes are prime for getting wild and you can easily reach the staircase that leads to the less crowded bathrooms. And that's where I was going when I tripped down about 10 of them. Luckily no one remembers it, least of all me. 

Now I know what you're thinking: "Maybe you should just avoid bars with stairs, Justine." Yes, I probably should. But a recent fall at this cozy East Village pub--think stained glass paneling, a fireplace and a huge selection of Scotch and bourbon--proves that stairs aren't my only problem. So are barstools. Yep, getting off a barstool can be hazardous, in this case because the heel of my shoe got caught on the chair as I tried to dismount. Luckily nobody got hurt, unless you count my pride. Just kidding--I obviously don't have any of that! 

Falling down the stairs that lead to the subterranean lounge at this Nolita hot spot is like wearing a huge sign on your face that says "I can't hang." It's pretty much the worst thing ever, and after having done it just the other night, I'm pretty much the worst person ever. A room full of fabulously cool people who I'll now never know will be more than happy to confirm that.

Aug 27, 2010

Bars That Make Me Wanna Kill Myself

Thirty-year-old frat boys who confuse Murray Hill with Sigma Chi. Hedge fund douche bags who refer to the Hamptons as "The 'Tones." Brainless girls in Jessica Simpson brand stilettos who are about 20 pounds too heavy for that dress. Staten Islanders. These are a few of my least favorite things. And you can find them all at these five bars. (Photo: This girl loves Pacha! I hate her.)

The only thing worse than Tonic East, this Times Square spot is like the seventh circle of hell disguised as a sports bar. 

Bar None:
I used to go to Bar None all time. When I was in high school. That pretty much sums it up. But just in case you need more, it's a popular destination for sailors during Fleet Week and hobos at all times--and if they don't get you, the skanks will. 

This is a great bar to meet a one-night stand who you won't ever have to call again. Other than that, it is to be avoided. 

There is one single reason why anyone has ever gone to Continental, and that is because it serves five shots of anything for $10. I'm a perpetually broke alcoholic, and you still couldn't get me to go there without a roofie and a blindfold.

Just because it works in Ibiza doesn't mean it works in New York City. 'Nuff said.

Sep 15, 2008

Jena Malone: Indie Ingenue


Would you like half?” Jena Malone asks me at the start of our interview, referring to her bottle of Vitamin Water. Sweet and soft-spoken (and extraordinarily polite), you may not know her name—yet—but chances are you’ve seen one of Jena’s films. From Into the Wild to Saved! the young starlet has already racked up over 35 big and small screen credits, and at 23-years-old she’s just getting started. That’s why we jumped on the opportunity to chat with Jena about her upcoming films, her burgeoning music career and her take on the world of fashion.

YRB: So, what projects can we look forward to seeing you in this fall?
Jena: The Go-Getter will still be out this fall. It’s this independent film with Zoey Deschanel and Lou Taylor Pucci. It went to Sundance two years ago, and it’s such a beautiful film about a road trip and coming of age. It’s the most, sort of, sexually deviant character I’ve ever played, just in the sense of a young woman understanding what sexual manipulation is within her own femininity. I think there’s a point when every woman realizes that her looks or her body or her temperament can win her certain things with men. And [my character explores] how to push those limits, and how empowering that feels, how strange that feels and how, in the beginning, it can be very innocent, and she kind of gives Lou Taylor Pucci’s character the ride of his life. And then I’m working on this film right now called The Messenger, which should be coming out in the fall/winter.

YRB: I had a chance to check out some of your music on MySpace. Can you tell me a little bit about that side of your career?
Jena: What song did you hear?

YRB: “New Year Come.”
Oh, that’s by Jena Malone and Her Bloodstains. All that music came from two demos that I made myself, produced myself, engineered myself with the help of musicians—like I recorded a friend playing guitar over the phone. For “New Year Come” I had a friend of mine from Lake Tahoe (where I live) come in and play violin and help me do an arrangement, and he also let me abstract it, cut and paste it and put it together. I wrote that two years ago on New Year’s Eve.

YRB: So you write the lyrics and the music?
Uh-huh. But I don’t know how to write music, and I don’t know how to read music. It’s just more intuitive, and working with ProTools and finding something that I like and trying to sort of re-edit that and shape it…but Jena and Her Bloodstains sort of disintegrated. Then I had this dream in January that I was gonna build a shoe—a sort of mobile, one-woman music cart—that I would be able to play anywhere, and I wanted it to be in the shape of an old leather shoe, you know, like the story, “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.” So I started doing these designs for it, and it ended up looking like this crazy contraption made of chicken wire and cardboard, with all this electrical equipment. I eventually realized, fuck, this is not gonna work. But then I bought this old steamer trunk and I was about to drive down to L.A., and I was looking at it in my bedroom, and I was like, “That’s it! That’s what I’ll build the instrument out of”—because it’s compactable, and I can wheel it around on a dolly. So I put all of my instrumentations in there—a little karaoke amp, a keyboard, a drum machine, a little mono-synth, some hand percussion instruments—and set it all up, and it was absolutely everything I could have wanted. I put it in my trunk the next morning, drove down to L.A., and started experimenting with it. I brought it over to a friend of mine’s house, and we set it up and we just jammed. I jammed on the shoe, he jammed on the piano, and we wrote four songs in one night. And I was like holy shit, I’ve never met a musician who’s able to follow my extractions and add a certain groundness to it; to make it a little more linear. So now we’re in a band called The Shoe, and we just finished an album called At Lemjay’s Garage. It’s a six-track EP. I also started a record label called There Was an Old Woman Records.

YRB: As an actress and musician, how do you feel about the stigma of “actors-turned-musicians”?
Well, I think the stigma just lies in how we define what an artist is.

YRB: What would you say you’re most recognized for, or would want to be most recognized for?
Well, the thing you’re most recognized for is never the thing that you want to be most recognized for. I mean when I got Punk’d I found that more people came up to me because of that than for anything else I’d ever done, which was very disheartening. But I think as an artist you want to be recognized for the most recent thing you’ve done because it’s the most personal to you, it’s the most intimate, and it’s what you’re saying at that moment.

YRB: You’ve worked closely with some pretty major celebrities—from Susan Sarandon to Sean Penn—is there anyone that’s been the most fun work with, or anyone you want to work with? What about a particular film that was especially fun to make?
I’ve wanted to work with Ben Foster for a very long time, and I’m getting to work with him now [in The Messenger]. I thought he was amazing in 3:10 to Yuma and Alpha Dog. I’ve worked with Emile [Hirsch] a couple of times and thought he was amazing. The most fun film I’ve done is probably Saved! because it was the first time I had done a film besides Cheaters where everyone was the same age. It’s like summer camp—we’re all there for the same reason, but there’s also free time, and you’re spending dinners together, you’re going out for karaoke together and throwing marshmallows off the patio.

YRB: Let’s talk about fashion for a minute. What kind of style do you have? What are you most comfortable wearing: high fashion or sweats?
I’m probably the most comfortable in something that makes me feel outside of myself, in a sense. I was a tomboy my entire life, and then I turned 21, broke up with my boyfriend and started finding that I was suddenly drawn to clothes that were a lot more girly and feminine.

YRB: What are some of your favorite labels or designers?
I love Sonia Rykiel, and I also love Linda Loudermilk.

YRB: What would you say are some of your greatest musical influences?
For music it’s been a very specific group of artists: Tom Waits, Neil Young, PJ Harvey…

YRB: As a young actress in Hollywood, how do you avoid falling victim to the Paris and Lindsay-type of existence?
The thing is, you are what you eat, you are what you wear, you are what you think, and that’s it. So I feel like whether that is for them a heightened sense of reality or not, what we get from it is some version of what their selling—to themselves, or to the public or to their mothers or to their friends. I’ve only ever sold who I am. They exist so I don’t have to. And I’m glad that they fulfill their space in the collective conscience; if they didn’t, other people would. And what they’ve been hawked as, and what the press has over-established them as, is helping to implode these crazy obsessions with celebrity. So in a way, whether we love them or hate them, it’s a very beautiful thing because they’re actually helping turn the tides. I think the public is a little bit sickened by our own interest, and what our interest has turned these women into, or allowed them to be turned into, and we’ve seen a lot of negative effects that our overindulgence has allowed.

Apr 24, 2008

Tribeca Film Festival: Cast of "Baby Mama" Celebrates at the MoMA

(Photo by Peter Bixler)

The Tribeca Film Festival is off to a strong start, with the stars turning out for last night's world premiere of "Baby Mama" at the Ziegfeld. We were in attendance at the official after-party, held at the Museum of Modern Art, which could have been mistaken for a "Saturday Night Live" reunion. In addition to Lorne Michaels and "Baby Mama" stars Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, guests at the MoMa included a long list of present and former cast-members, like Jimmy Fallon (who eventually left the party with former "SNL" player Chris Kattan), Rachel Dratch, Jason Sudeikis, Fred Armisen, Molly Shannon and even Chevy Chase. But the superstar of the evening was Steve Martin, who sauntered in wearing a panama hat, spent most of his time at a table with Lorne and Chevy and later departed without obliging the fans who were waiting outside for an autograph. (That said, Martin's role in "Baby Mama" is much funnier than the rest of the movie.)

Other big name guests included Poehler's hilarious husband, Will Arnett, Seth Green (of "Family Guy" / "Austin Powers" / "Robot Chicken" fame), and Dax Shepard (whom I profiled in an interview piece last year), who doted on girlfriend Kristen Bell, star of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," most of the night.

Several sad people outside were hoping to catch a glimpse of Robert De Niro, who wasn't even there. One such fan informed me he was also there to see Frank Oz (better known as the voice of Yoda), who was my next-door neighbor on the Upper West Side for many years, and who I didn't see at the MoMa. Just as I was breaking the news that the Oz / De Niro gala must have been on the other side of town, Lorne Michaels walked outside. One eager fan yelled, "Lorne, can I get a picture?" to which Lorne responded, "I'm good, thanks," and jumped in a car.

A 30-second clip from inside the party, taken on my date's cell-phone from the future, is below.

Mar 14, 2008

Craigslist Keepers

Occasionally we stumble across a Craigslist post that is too good not to share with the world.
Case in point: This listing for an apartment share in Murray Hill, which was brought to our attention earlier today. It says:
I am an elderly lady, in my 70's. I am looking for someone lovely to live in the second bedroom (lovely people only). I am not thrilled about living with someone but I could use the extra cash. I have only one rule. You must wear a belt I designed that has bells all over it. I do this so I know when you are in the apartment and where in the apartment you are. If you have friends over, they must wear the device as well. I only have 2, so no more than 1 friend over.
So, just in case the prospect of moving to Murray Hill wasn't enough to make you want to kill yourself, now you can go live there with this old lady, who may or may not be the real-life version of Kathy Bates' character from "Misery."

Mar 11, 2008

Party Like It's Spring Break

It's nearly mid-March, which means that if you're a college student, you're probably getting ready to spend a week with 10 other hoodlums, holed up in some beachside shanty, soaking up moderate quantities of sun and lethal quantities of booze, in honor of that great American pastime known as spring break.
Well, guess what: Even if your undergraduate years are over, you needn't dip to Tijuana to partake in the sort of lewd, depraved behavior pictured above. There are plenty of bars where even the most respectable professionals you can experience the thrills of spring break--from the alcohol poisoning to the scantily clad girls--right here on the Isle of Manhattan.
Click through to read our latest roundup, Party Like It's Spring Break.
And for those of you who are too old for body shots but still long to reconnect with your collegiate days, check out Gigantic Cocktails (one of our new and improved photo roundups)--trust me, after a few mixed drinks served by the pint, no one will notice you're balding, least of all you.
(Photo courtesy of The Big Easy)

Feb 29, 2008

Black Out on Leap Day; Wake Up Four Years Later


Are you losing sleep over why it's still February? So am I, or at least I would be, if I had any curiosity about the inner workings of the Gregorian Calendar. Nevertheless, as everyone knows, every four years we tack an extra day onto February--which the crack team over at NASA describes as "relatively rare," as if a Leap Day is an unusual strain of a deadly virus, rather than something that has taken place every four years since 46 B.C.--and today is that day.

So, in keeping with its tendency to use anything, no matter how banal, as an excuse to throw a party and get people wasted, The Village Pourhouse is celebrating Leap Day with, um, a party where people are gonna get wasted. Specifically, for those born on February 29, this is your chance to celebrate your birthday (on the actual anniversary of your birth) with free beer, and a bunch of activities that probably don't matter as much as the part about free beer:

After four long years of waiting, it is finally time! Calling Leap Year Babies everywhere! Embrace your inner-child and come down to The Village Pourhouse for a birthday party right out of your childhood dreams. Whether it is your sixth, seventh, or eighth, this will be a birthday to remember. There will be bright balloons, fun decorations, delicious cake, and boisterous activities to bring you way back. Don’t miss out on our Pin-the-Tail-on-the Donkey. Be sure to take a big swing at our piñata filled with adult favorites such as drink tickets and free bar tabs at the Village Pourhouse. If you show proof you are an actual leap year baby, you will drink free Bud and Bud Light from 7-9pm.

So, to all the Leap Day babies, head to 11th Street & Third Avenue tonight at 6:59pm to take full advantage of the festivities, and to meet a bunch of bat-wielding, piñata-breaking, 7-year-old drunks.

And if that doesn't appeal to you, check back soon--I can't even imagine what the Pourhouse has planned for Daylight Savings next weekend.

(Photo courtesy of the Village Pourhouse)