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IT’S CHILI OUT THERE

If pumpkin spice lattes are the signature cold-weather beverage of the basic bitch (which, let’s face it, is pretty much always describing a woman), then chili must belong to the basic bro. Of course we’re only kidding, we love them both, and sweaters and foliage, too. That’s why the Brooklyn Chili Takedown is one of November’s most anticipated feeding frenzies. This is the original cook-off, what presenter Matt Timms calls “the most important Takedown…the classic.” Munch on the mild and brave the bold at this no-rules, all-you-can-eat chili competition. Wash it all down with cocktails by Caleb’s Kola that you’ll oh so sorely need after a few bowls’ worth. Winter is coming and there’s nothing you can do to stop it, but eat enough and you might manage to push your internal temperature to a fever pitch.

Sun., Nov. 16, 2 p.m., 2014

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MIDDLE EAST TO MIDTOWN

Shelly Oria’s debut short-story collection, New York 1, Tel Aviv 0, is one of the fall publishing season’s most buzzed-about offerings. California-born and Israel-raised, Oria’s binational background informs her fiction, which is innovative, meticulously crafted, and often tinged with fantasy. In one story, characters discover they can stop time; in another, a still-living man donates his own body parts. Oria has already left her mark on the NYC literary scene, having launched the popular series Sweet!: Actors Reading Writers, which cleverly melds theater and writing. Tonight, as part of FSG’s Originals Series, she teams up with Brooklyn band Slothrust for an evening of literature and music; Buzzfeed’s Isaac Fitzgerald hosts. Come experience in person what author Karen Russell (Swamplandia!) called Oria’s “obsidian wit.”

Tue., Nov. 18, 7 p.m., 2014

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GOLDEN GIRL

Kimbra, or Kimbra Lee Johnson, can be pared down to her influences. Her vocal stylings are kind of Nina Simone and her over-the-top dance moves have a touch of Prince, but her crazy eyes are all Björk. The New Zealand singer is best known for collaborating with Gotye on depressing break-up/creepy stalker hit “Somebody That I Used to Know,” but her solo work is both more erratic and more striking. This year’s “Miracle,” off her latest album, The Golden Echo, sounds like electropop gone disco, and is bursting with an energy befitting the manic singer — just take a gander at the music video in which she seduces postal workers with her red hot pants. She performs tonight with Brooklyn’s own Empress Of.

Thu., Nov. 6, 9 p.m., 2014

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WEEDEATER

Stoners rejoice: Weedeater return to Brooklyn for the second time in a little over a month. Those who missed them at September’s Uninvited Festival (read: most local metalheads, as there was an unofficial underground shunning of that poorly-promoted event) in Gowanus can catch the North Carolinians this time at Saint Vitus. Like the band’s sound, the crowd is sure to be thick as a plume of dank-ass schwag–which is to say, crudely packed, a little grimy, but good enough for a buzz. Not to be missed are Lazer/Wulf, from Georgia, who are listed third on the bill of five bands. This instrumental prog metal trio enjoys math-y tricks in song and album structures but never at the expense of memorable grooves. Come for the braniacs; stay for the crunkness. With Full of Hell, Lazer/Wulf, Family (Brooklyn), and Tiger Flowers

Fri., Nov. 7, 8 p.m., 2014

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The Fortress of Solitude: That ’70s Show, in Black & White

Comic books are balm for the teenage male soul. Their underdog heroes promise that loneliness can be a source of power. In The Fortress of Solitude — a new musical adapted by Itamar Moses and Michael Friedman from Jonathan Lethem’s novel, now playing the Public Theater — two Brooklyn boys learn to be alone, together. Their superpower is friendship. But it can’t last.

Dylan (Adam Chanler-Berat) and Mingus (Kyle Beltran) have a lot in common: They’re both named after famous musicians, have artistically frustrated fathers and absent mothers, and love comics. For a while, in 1970s Gowanus, that’s enough. But they’re also separated by America’s most persistent divider: race. As the boys grow up, Dylan flees Brooklyn for California and a career in music criticism; Mingus, enmeshed in familial violence, goes to prison.

Fortress‘s first act is pitch-perfect: Friedman’s score conjures ’70s BK with a bumping pastiche of r&b, funk, soul, and intimations of hip-hop. But as exuberance gives way to elegy in the second half, the musical’s good intentions occasionally betray it. Seeing the story (mostly) from Dylan’s perspective means we’re always viewing Mingus through the fog of Dylan’s regret — further isolating him, despite Beltran’s graceful performance. Still, the excellent ensemble counters these rough spots. They remind us that the present is always a duet of solitudes: the remote past singing to the unknown future.

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‘Crossing Brooklyn’ Contains Multitudes at the Brooklyn Museum

Can contemporary art be très Brooklyn? The answer is yes, if you’re French or negatively predisposed to the sort of idealism taking root in New York’s artiest borough. Part of a movement that has fully flowered in American cities like Chicago and Houston, Kings County’s own seeding of socially engaged art is on view in a survey called “Crossing Brooklyn: Art From Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond” at the Brooklyn Museum. Billed as a show focusing on artists who are “engaged with the world,” the exhibition proves by turns inspiring and cringe-worthy. Like genuinely radical politics or Frenchmen in Speedos, it promises to leave few unfazed.

A display that features more than 100 artworks by 35 artists (or artist groups) who live or work in the borough, “Crossing Brooklyn” is committed to examining the area’s “established role as a creative center” but sports a significant subtext promoting the local version of an emerging avant-garde. For those who missed the memo, the past decade has witnessed a gradual shift toward community-centered art on a global scale. A multigenerational response to $58 million Balloon Dogs and $142 million Francis Bacon triptychs, these creative efforts have largely been designed to counteract two historically related phenomena: art’s ongoing gentrification and the cultural effects of rising income inequality. For those who prefer their art to critically address their time, socially engaged art — or, as it’s alternately termed, social practice — may provide a last best hope.

Curated by Eugenie Tsai and Rujeko Hockley, “Crossing Brooklyn” presents works in virtually every medium, including a few most people will have never heard of. Titled after Walt Whitman’s famously expansive “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” the exhibition unfolds in the fifth-floor galleries, yet it also spills out onto the museum’s sidewalk and its green areas, not to mention several off-site spaces that include Brooklyn’s streets, its waterways, and not a few square miles of air rights. Like much of the Brooklyn Museum’s popular programming, the show is intended to extend art to a wider public. And like nearly all socially engaged art today, the display is anxiously preoccupied with the new definitions, social responsibilities, and real-world impact of art beyond the confines of the art world.

The product of visits to many of the borough’s reported 4,600 studios, “Crossing Brooklyn” varies wildly in form, execution, and quality. The number of clunkers on view is shocking at first — until you consider the amount of reflection that goes into reinventing art’s wheel, one struggling artist at a time. For every hermetic John Cage–inspired performance (Gordon Hall) and instance of someone bundling up twigs to make a photo-diary (Matthew Jensen), you’ll see an equal number of cases of winning innovation and downright usefulness. Among the latter are the greenmarket, vegetable gardens, and bicycle-generated “Energy Hub Station” that Linda Goode Bryant and the Project Eats collective have parked right outside the museum. Among the former, there’s Miguel Luciano’s videotaped record of his work with a rural community in Kenya. A flat-screen representation of the artist making self-portraits-as-kites with children, the work is not just Million Dollar Arm–moving, it actively demonstrates how art, like sports and learning, can open up unfathomed possibilities in people’s lives.

Other works in this vein coalesce around a couple of tropes that have emerged jointly with the rise of social practice. The first is the alternative-economy ideal, which in “Crossing Brooklyn” takes on several manifestations. The most activist of these is Heather Hart’s “Bartertown,” a temporary marketplace established to get perfect strangers to trade everything — goods, services, songs, experiences — except currency. The second features an increasingly popular think-by-walking artist’s motif (by my count, six show participants pick up on this peripatetic notion). Its most eloquent exponent is the adventurous Marie Lorenz, whose elegant multiscreen-and-balsawood installation, Archipelago, shows her traveling NYC’s mysterious waterways to update Diogenes’ dictum, solvitur ambulando: It is solved by boating.

Whatever you think of their heart-on-their-sleeve work, these artists deserve credit for doing something so huge it’s almost foolhardy — pitting art’s symbolic and activist power against the laissez-faire effects of raw finance. Skeptics may consider the struggle against Goliath’s instrumental values a mismatch, but it’s hard not to root for the Davids’ long-term odds. Battle lines are drawn: See this show and decide which side you’re on.

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PADDLE FOR YOUR LIFE

Looking for something different to do this Halloween? The folks at the North Brooklyn Boat Club have just the thing: haunted canoe rides on the Dutch Kills near the border of Brooklyn and Queens. Riding along the abandoned waterfront near old industrial sites, you’ll discover an atmosphere that’s subtler yet creepier than most Halloween haunts. As the club’s founding member, Jan Rasmussen, says, it’s “sort of a surreal experience.” We call it terrific fun. If you’re wary about the ride, or “too scared to ply the deep,” the boatyard is hosting a party featuring boneless troll finger sandwiches, free orc blood sauce, and a bar. This year’s canoes are larger than regulation size and deep enough that there’s not even a chance of getting splashed — and no one touches you when you’re in the boat. The canoes are paddled only by certified guides, and you must wear a life vest if you’re taking the tour — it’ll look great over your costume. Witness the horror of the watery deep!

Fri., Oct. 31, 8 p.m., 2014

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DINNER AND CONVERSATION

We are what we eat, but what about where we eat? FERN Talks, the Food and Environment Reporting Network, presents a night of live performance and storytelling about food and its relationship to the Earth. Small plates punctuate bold, episodic tales by the likes of Dan Barber, author of The Third Plate, Sam Fromartz, FERN editor and author of In Search of the Perfect Loaf, photographer Lisa Hamilton, and food and environment writers Tracie McMillan, Michelle Nijhuis, and Maryn McKenna. Audience members are free to interact with presenters in Carroll Gardens’ beautiful Green Building, a 4,000-square-foot converted brass foundry, before and after the event, which features food by Franny’s, Almond, Pearl & Ash, and Tertulia.

Mon., Nov. 3, 6:30 p.m., 2014

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BODY LANGUAGE

No heavy, monotonous recitations of verse here: the Poetry Brothel’s performers double as “whores,” shaping for guests an immersive artistic experience inspired by turn of the century bordellos. Tonight, cast aside the usual Halloween antics by taking part in the Poetry Brothel’s 7th Annual Masquerade Ball, a BYOM (bring your own mask) event. Deborah Landau, Director of NYU’s Creative Writing program and a poet who has drawn comparisons to Sylvia Plath, will give a public reading. Get a reading of another kind from resident seer Nota Bene, or slip into a back room for a private encounter with one of the in-house poets, or the Madame herself. Other entertainment includes burlesque dancing, plus music from The Hot Club of Flatbush, which rounds out the retro vibe by taking its instrumentation cues from Paris’ 1930s acoustic jazz scene.

Sun., Oct. 26, 8 p.m., 2014

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READ THE METER

We love it when so many of our favorite poets get together, for two reasons: 1) It’s the classiest excuse for a drink we can think of, and 2) it reminds us of why we moved to New York in the first place. That might sound sappy and nostalgic for the long, long bygone, but there’s still nothing like gathering in the village for some original, irreverent, and unafraid stanzas. Tonight at InVerse: A Poetry Reading, Michael Robbins (Alien vs. Predator) will share from his new collection, The Second Sex, already receiving wide acclaim for bringing a pop readership to poetry. Also appearing is Aaron Belz, whose Glitter Bomb is a delightfully down-to-earth series, half art, half jokes (because you’ve got to have a sense of humor when writing poems about going to Starbucks), as well as Bianca Stone with her graphic-poetry hybrids. Vanessa Gabb, co-founder of Five Quarterly, and Jason Koo, founder of Brooklyn Poets, will also share from their newest books.

Sat., Oct. 18, 7 p.m., 2014