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In Which We Are Schtartled by a Schmoking Schnabel

The other night at the opening of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s photo exhibition, “Merce My Way,” at 401 Projects on West Street, we were ruminating on the rapidly changing schneigborhood with gallery owner Mark Seliger. “You just blink and there’s a new building up," said Seliger, adding that he is often asked to sell his building, just south of the Richard Meier condos. He wasn't entirely sold on Julian Schnabel’s nearby Palazzo Chupi, he admitted, at least not until he went inside. “It’s amazing," he declared. “It’s growing on me, definitely growing on me." Another local, Michael Angelo, proprietor of supermodel-central salon Wonderland on West 13th Street, chimed in. “I think that everybody had a little heart attack at first," he said of the pink palazzo. Seliger recently photographed the entire Schnabel family for a L’Uomo Vogue spread. Papa Schnab, he said, had insisted on wearing his own clothing. “You can count on him wearing pajamas, that’s for sure,” he said. And then, as if he were a rotund, benevolent Beetlejuice, at the sound of his name, Schnabel appeared.


Art Crowd Gets Heated at Armory Dance Party

It's hard to have a throwdown in skinny jeans, but on Saturday night at the Whitney Biennial’s 24-hour dance party at the Armory, it happened: The hipsters went wild. The event, the culmination of Agathe Snow’s 96-hour marathon of continuous dance, was cut seven hours short of the goal when, around 4 a.m., a fight erupted mid–dance floor. At first, onlookers thought the scuffle — which began with just handful of fighters and swelled to more than twenty — was an ironic piece of performance art. “I thought they were kidding,” said Eden Mackenzie, a video editor who was on the dance floor when the fists began to fly. “Then they all just started jumping on one guy and punching him as he lay on the ground.” Doreen Remen, co-founder of the Art Production Fund and one of the event’s producers played down the tussle to New York: “It was just two guys, and they were asked to leave,” she said. "It all happened very fast.” But Obinna Izeogu, an art director who attended the party described the scene as a “mini-riot," in which blows were traded for more than fifteen minutes as more partygoers joined in the fray that continued to swell even after D.J.'s killed the tunes (and Snow's vision of infinite dance). “It started off like two and then it just became a rumble,” said Izeogu. Armory security staff, unprompted, dialed 911 for reinforcements, and officers who responded called it “that gigantic fight”.


Fred Armisen Performs in ‘Honeyface’

Lorne Michaels took some heat for picking Venezuelan-Japanese cast member Fred Armisen to play Barack Obama when Saturday Night Live returned to the air at the end of February, but Armisen himself isn't having any trouble with it. "I just want to have fun," he said at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on March 10. "I like wearing outfits and doing things." So how does he turn himself into the country's potentially first black president? "It's really quick," Armisen said. "There's shading on my eyebrows and plastic behind my ears. And there's a little bit of something called Honey, a honey color, that is something I would wear when I play Prince." About the perception that "Weekend Update" favors Hillary Clinton, Armisen's response was similar to what SNL writer Jim Downey told today's Times: "I think they're not favoring anyone," he said. "The pieces are more making fun of the media than anything else. It's all about the jokes." —Bennett Marcus Related: SNL Searches for A Fauxbama


Making the Band

The long national nightmare is over: Menudo, Spanish-speaking eighties boy band, is coming back. That means the producers need to round up a troupe of singing and dancing Latino teenagers, and this weekend the talent search came to New York City. Nearly 100 hopeful performers tried out at the Queens Center Mall Saturday, and Tim Murphy was there for Vulture, New York's new arts-and-culture blog, to learn what drives kids to be aspiring Ricky Martins. Find out at Vulture. They Want to Live La Vida Menudo [Vulture]


Introducing Vulture

There are innumerable places to find cultural coverage online, but there are very few, if we may be so bold, that do it right. This is why we're so proud this morning to welcome our newest bloggy brother in New York's brood: Vulture, your daily source for arts and entertainment news. Vulture soars both high and low; it's perhaps the only site offering critical analysis of the latest fake memoir, an MP3 of the hottest indie-rock single, breaking news when your favorite performance artist straps a dog to his head, and YouTube videos of Joey Lawrence break dancing all in one spot. And it's all presented with the magazine's trademark smart and informed perspective on all the city's cultural offerings. It's written by Melissa Maerz, a former editor at Spin, and Dan Kois, a former literary agent and a film executive, and they're waiting for you at nymag.com/vulture.


Seeing Red

Speaking of White Trash Nation, we'd like to direct your attention to two events coming to our area this weekend. First Larry the Cable Guy plays Radio City Music Hall tonight and tomorrow night. Then there are four monster-truck rallies at Nassau Coliseum from tonight through Sunday. Toss in that bullriding competition at Madison Square Garden last month, and all that Nascar-in-Midtown mishegoss at the end of last year, and you start to wonder: We are still a blue state, right? Earlier: Anna Nicole and 'New York': A No-Love-Lost Story


David Walentas, Neighborhood Creator and Patron of the Arts

Is Downtown Brooklyn the new theater district? David Walentas, the developer famous for turning Dumbo from industrial wasteland into its present chichi incarnation, thinks so, and he's willing to foot the bill to make it happen. The self-proclaimed "Pied Piper of Dumbo," who's taking his tune to 110 Livingston, the former Board of Ed headquarters he's turning into condos, is offering at least ten years free rent to a theater group that takes up residence there. Walentas's son, Jed, says they "think [having a theater] will be good for the neighborhood," though it's obviously not bad for business, either, to have apartments situated in a thriving, artsy area, which isn't exactly what Downtown Brooklyn is — yet. Walentas previously worked the same M.O. in Dumbo, where he subsidized rents for St. Ann's Warehouse, Smack Mellon Gallery, and Jacques Torres's workshop to keep the neighborhood "edgy" (gruppy?) though decidedly upscale.


Queens Latest Borough to Get New Museum; Staten Islanders Forgotten?

Like so many city trends these days, it started in Brooklyn. First, in April 2004, the Brooklyn Museum of Art unveiled its $63 million renovation, complete with a new 15,000-square-foot entrance pavilion. Seven months later came — did you hear about this little thing? — Manhattan's new MoMA, built at a cost of $858 million. And last week the Bronx Museum of the Arts unveiled a hipper façade and addition, by the Miami architects Arquitectonica. (Nicolai Ouroussoff called it "unpretentious," which is so very outer borough). Now, not to be left out, the Queens Museum of Art has announced its own $37 million expansion plan, which includes doubling the size of the museum, building an Olympic-size indoor pool, and adding an ice-skating rink with seating for 400. (It may sound more fun than it looks; the Sun called the new design "a drab gray structure.") Which all adds up to one question: What about art lovers in the city's so-often-forgotten borough, Staten Island? Don't they deserve a little newness too?