10 culture essentials for November


Photo: Noah Kalina

Well, the clocks are turned back, there’s a sharp edge in the air, and we can officially say that those random 80-degree days that crop up as summer sputters to an end are officially in the rearview. If you are the type who only grudgingly accepts donning things like tights (ugh) and making the switch from iced coffee to hot, there is a silver lining to the shorter days and cooler weather, which is that social obligations seem to decrease dramatically every year when people start to hole up at home. This means that it suddenly feels like there’s time to give that pasta maker you got last Christmas a whirl, to watch that show that blew past your radar, or to curl up with the stack of unread books or New Yorkers that you accumulated while you were out at the beach, in the park, or drinking impossible amounts of White Claw in someone’s outdoor space.

But just because others are prepping to hibernate for the winter, it doesn’t mean that you have to join them! Having more free time also means that you can slow down, take a look around at what’s happening culture-wise in this great city of ours, and take advantage of the limitless bounty of options available to you. Here are 10 to look forward to.

1. The Irishman, in theaters now

It’s hard to conceive of bigger news out of Hollywood than a new Scorcese mafia film starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, and now that the reviews are in and are stellar, it looks like The Irishman is going to be the must-see movie of the season. The excitement surrounding the release has been deflated a bit due to some politicking between Netflix, which produced the project, and the major movie theater chains, and the upshot is that if you want to see this epic movie on a big screen, you’ll only be able to do it at a handful of theaters around town until it’s made available on Netflix on November 27. The movie will be screening at Cobble Hill Cinemas and Williamsburg Cinemas starting this Friday, but I think I’m going to go nuts and head into the city so I can see it in its full glory at The Belasco, a legit Broadway theater with over 1000 seats that is hosting screenings all month. 

2. Theater of Operations at MoMA PS1 

On November 3, MoMA PS1 opened a large-scale group exhibition of more than 250 works that explore the enduring impact of the US-led military operations in Iraq during the turn of the century. Over 80 artists and collectives are represented in Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991-2011, a show that inhabits the entire PS1 building and will be on display until March. The works reflect a variety of perspectives, including those of artists who lived through the occupation and those who observed the conflicts from afar, as well as ruminations on the advent of the 24-hour news cycle and other new features of modern-day global war. 

3. New York Comedy Festival, Nov. 4-10

The annual New York Comedy Festival is back in town for a week starting November 4, and there’s a formidable lineup of talent scheduled to perform at venues scattered across the five boroughs. Names like Stephen Colbert, Nick Kroll, Nicole Byer, Pete Holmes, Norm McDonald, Jenny Slate, and Trevor Noah are bound to catch your eye, but for my money the more interesting opportunity is to find a lesser-known, up-and-coming act that you didn’t even know you needed in your life—here’s a preview to help you decide. 

4. The Witches Are Coming, Nov. 5  

Lindy West has long been one of my favorite contemporary voices on the Internet, since way back when she used to revisit movies like Reality Bites with a hilarious results while at the same time explaining why most contemporary rape jokes are not OK on Jezebel. I loved reading her debut book Shrill so much that it was hard for me to accept some of the ways it was altered for the Hulu series of the same name that came out earlier this year. Needless to say, I was thrilled to see that West has another title, The Witches Are Coming, which is being released on November 5.  Even more exciting, though, West herself will be at St. Joseph’s College to promote the book on November 7, which means a night of guaranteed laughs and sharp, intelligent commentary. 

5. Live Jazz in Park Slope, all month

Did you all know that, as of about a week ago, Park Slope has its own dedicated jazz venue? The Made In New York Jazz Cafe & Bar is brought to you by the people behind the Made In New York Jazz Competition, and the idea is to bring to Brooklyn the caliber of bookings that you’d expect to see only in Manhattan. November’s calendar is already packed with a ton of live shows from Allan Harris, Valery Ponomarev, Svetlana & The New York Swing Collective, the Jeff Tain Watts Trio, and more. Tickets are generally in the $10-20 range, and the venue has a full service bar and restaurant, so it’s a great way to have a big night out on the town while staying local. 

6. Judd Apatow at Murmrr Theatre, Nov. 11

My parents didn’t have HBO when I was a kid, so I sort of missed out on the cult of Garry Shandling that sprouted up in the 80s and 90s around his two hit shows, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders Show. Nonetheless, I always feel like I should know more about him, if largely because so many of the comics and writers I admire as an adult credit him with having an outsized on their work. One of the late comedian’s disciples is Judd Apatow, who made an Emmy Award-winning documentary about his mentor, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, last year. On November 11, Apatow will be at Murmrr Theatre with David Duchovny, oddly enough, to promote his new book, It’s Garry Shandling’s Book, which incorporates unpublished scripts, excerpts from Shandling’s personal diaries, and anecdotes from his famous friends like Sarah Silverman and Jim Carrey. 

7. Kate Davis at Elsewhere, Nov. 15

Five years ago, singer and upright bassist Kate Davis made a splash on the Internet with her unique and jazzy interpretation of Meghan Trainor’s smash hit “All About That Bass.” That performance went viral and made her a celebrity of sorts—and that’s in addition to her appearances at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Those early experiences, however, painted her in a corner as a budding interpreter of the American Songbook, when in reality she wanted to be her own artist. On her upcoming debut album, Trophy, Davis—who will be performing a show at Brooklyn’s Elsewhere on November 15—marks her transition from jazz-pop ingenue to indie rocker. With her own impressionistic lyrics dealing with loss (“Daisy”), relationships (“Open Heart,” “Did You Love Somebody”) and coming-of-age experiences(“Dirty Teenager,” “I Like Myself”), Trophy positions Davis as a singer-songwriter in her own right—David Chiu

8. Fefu and Her Friends, Nov. 16

Cuban-American feminist and playwright Maria Irene Fornés, who died last year, has been called the greatest and least-known dramatist of our time. Let’s hope then, that the Theatre for a New Audience’s new production of Fefu and Her Friends, one of Fornes’ best-known works, might help usher in a new era where Fornés work gets the attention it is due. The play, which tells the story of a gathering of female friends for a reunion at a New England country house in 1935, is known for its alternative staging, which requires the audience to switch seats during the performance. This production opens on November 16 and runs through December 8 at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center. 

9. The Crown Season 3, Nov. 17

I have to confess that I let the second season of The Crown slip, but now that it’s coming back with a new cast that includes Queen Olivia Coleman as Queen Elizabeth II and Helena Bonham Carter (yes!) as Princess Margaret, I may have to cram to catch up before Season 3 drops on Netflix on November 17. Early reviews for the new 10-episode arc look positive, but it starts in 1964 and ends thirteen years later with the Silver Jubilee, so you’ll have to wait for Season 4 if you’re dying to immerse yourself in the Princess Diana storyline. 

10. Women of Slate debate watch, Nov. 20

Politics fatigue is a very real thing, as anyone who has existed for the past three years can attest, and I’ve got a terrible case of it. My fear, of course, in realizing that there’s a certain threshold after which scrolling through Twitter for hours a day to stay abreast of a constant deluge of information that I can’t actually do anything about has diminishing returns, is that my loss of interest means that I’m going to be under-informed as we head into the most important presidential election of my lifetime. So, maybe I’ll make an exception on my temporary ban of all the political noise and check out this live discussion and debate watch party with the Women of Slate at The Bell House on November 20. An awesome lineup of female Slate writers and podcasters like Dahlia Lithwick, Ashley Feinberg, Virginia Heffernan and more will be there to provide you the news you can use vis a vis the primary, the candidates, and the media coverage in a panel format before the main event: the fifth Democratic presidential debate. 

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