The best party of the year almost didn’t happen. Bike Kill, the Black Label Bike Club’s annual debauch that’s sort of like Halloween meets Mad Max, but with more mutant bikes and random explosions, started as planned on Saturday in an industrial lot in Bushwick.
But just ninety minutes into the day-into-night festivities, the NYPD rolled up in force and abruptly shut the whole thing down, citing lack of permits, potential alcohol consumption, and fears of the neighborhood being “overrun.” Even though the party was on private property. And had been held in this exact space two years ago without incident.
But Bike Kill refused to die! After milling around the area en masse, Black Label Bike Club set up their jousting arena in the dead end behind the Home Depot in Bed-Stuy, site of the first ten Bike Kills, and much mayhem ensued. And despite frequent fireworks and much general mayhem, it took the NYPD more than two hours to show up at this second location, sending everyone off into the night. As is the custom, Black Label Bike Club cleaned up the site before leaving.
Halloween won’t be the same this year without George A. Romero still walking among the living (and the living dead), but there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate the works of the late zombie auteur this holiday.
Romero, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 77, had breathed life into the undead with his debut feature, the 1968 cult film Night of the Living Dead, which not only provided the prototype for the modern zombie but also (possibly accidentally) expressed some pungent truths about race in America. (The Walking Dead, which just premiered its eighth season, probably wouldn’t even exist without Romero.) For the director, horror became a tool to comment on social and political conditions, though he also never lost sight of the pure thrill of watching blood and guts spill all over the screen.
Of course, Romero made non-zombie movies too: In 1973, he directed the paranoid sci-fi horror The Crazies, about a town infected with an inexplicable, violent insanity, and in 1982 he made the horror anthology Creepshow, collaborating with Stephen King, who wrote the screenplay and starred in one of the vignettes. Both films (unmissable for horror heads) are playing on 35mm at Metrograph on Monday, October 30, and Wednesday, November 1, respectively.
But Romero is undoubtedly best known for his Dead movies, a series of six zombie films he made between 1968 and 2009. His first three represent the pinnacle of his artistry — Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), and Day of the Dead (1985), the most underrated and, by box-office standards, least successful of the trio. Though it’s since been somewhat reclaimed by diehards, Day remains underseen. Thankfully, for those uninitiated or in need of a rewatch, it plays on 35mm at Nitehawk on Saturday, October 28, and Sunday, October 29, during — yes — the daytime (at 11:45 a.m.).
Most fans may say that Day of the Dead doesn’t live up to its predecessors, but it belongs in the Romero canon for its moral undertones and remarkable special effects. Day also gave us a proper heroine with Sarah (Lori Cardille), the kick-ass answer to the frightfully docile Barbara in the first Dead film. Sarah not only finds herself one of the few living among the living dead, but the only woman in a group of aggressive military men who look down on her and make uncomfortable advances. “Yes, sir,” she says to her tyrannical superior, but isn’t afraid to retort right back with a “Fuck you, sir.” She outlives her more hotheaded male counterparts, including her boyfriend, Miguel.
Romero had originally envisioned Day of the Dead as a big-budget epic involving zombies trained to wipe out other zombies, but had to readjust and abbreviate his vision when his budget got cut in half (to $3.5 million) after failing to negotiate on a rating with the studio (they wanted an R, he wanted an all-out, unrated bloodbath). What resulted was a suffocating bunker horror — much like a single location thriller — emphasizing a claustrophobic tension: Zombies have been roaming the earth for quite a while, and the last few human survivors are still bickering about how to handle the situation. Human conflict becomes as toxic as the flesh-eaters themselves, and while people are regressing to primordial behavior, zombies are seen to be quickly evolving. There is something truly terrifying (and oddly affecting) about the idea of a self-actualized zombie that can think and use tools.
A big chunk of Day of the Dead may feel like a drama about navigating politics between soldiers and scientists, but in the end the action picks up, and it turns into a truly gruesome (and satisfying) flesh feast. I would be remiss to not mention special makeup effects creator Tom Savini, who deserves all the props for the gory skin-tearing scenes that make the third installment of the trilogy stand out from the rest (if Night and Dawn are the more beloved entries, at least Day has the SFX department going for it).
If this is the year you’re filling in your Romero blindspots, give the lesser loved but deserving Day of the Dead a chance. After all, Romero himself said that this gut-spilling nightmare was his personal favorite from his own filmography.
East Midtown Trick-or-Treat Crawl
Tramway Plaza (Second Avenue between 59th and 60th Street)
Monday, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Families with children age 12 and under are invited to trick-or-treat through to nearly 80 Midtown businesses. The event includes a free trick-or-treat bag and a map to find activities including face painting, a themed photo booth, and plenty of complimentary candy.
International Culinary Center (462 Broadway)
Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Watch a screening of Farmageddon and stay for a Q&A session with the film’s producer and special guest Joshua Brau, the program manager for Food With Integrity at Chipotle Mexican Grill. The film explores farms in small communities and the challenges they have faced. Guests can register in advance here.
Day of the Dead Parties
All Tacuba and Toloache Locations
Monday through Wednesday
Chef Julian Medina — of Tacuba Cantina Mexicana and Toloache — is offering a special food and drink menu at all of his restaurant locations. Menu items include a margarita for two made with pumpkin puree and agave, as well as tamales and steamed lamb shank in banana leaves.
Goat Tasting and Butchering Demonstration
Jimmy’s No. 43 (43 East Seventh Street)
Friday, 6 p.m.
James Beard-winning author Adam Danforth will lead a discussion and demonstration on the benefits of butchering and eating older animals, which will be followed by a blind tasting for all participating students. Topics will range from how an animal’s age impacts taste and texture as well as how timing can make a difference farmers’ profits. There will also be a demonstration on how to identify and butcher each part of the goat. Tickets are $50 per person. Reserve yours here.
Night Market Loft Party
52 Mercer Street
Friday, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The Asian Mentoring Committee of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City is hosting an open bar with unlimited food — including bites from Wowfulls, Ben’s Deli, and more. Tickets are $65 for general admission. Reserve yours here.
Hundreds of little witches, goblins, and ghouls from around the city gathered at Gracie Mansion on Saturday as Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray hosted their third-annual Halloween party.
A gruesomely haggard butler welcomed nearly 1,500 New York City children and families, some from homeless shelters and foster homes, to embark on a haunted house tour. Guests weaved through the cobwebbed estate greeted by City Hall staffers decked out in creepy costumes to enact spooky scenes, including a zombie wedding party complete with a private chef serving a slimy stew out of a steaming cauldron.
A tent set up on the front lawn outside the house invited kids to participate in a number of activities such as face painting, fortune telling, and magic shows.
The mayor and his wife also got in the spooky spirit and dressed up in social justice-themed costumes for the occasion: de Blasio played a labor activist, donning a brown suit and newsboy cap with a hand-painted sign that read, “A Living Wage for a Hard Day’s Work,” and McCray wore a coral dress and “Votes for Women” sash as a suffragette. They greeted guests and posed for pictures with children on the veranda.
The mayor’s office partnered with City Harvest to collect non-perishable food to distribute across the city this week, and with the Department of Homeless Services, the Administration for Children’s Services, and the Department of Education to bring families from across the five boroughs to join the Halloween festivities.
Damaris Pagan, who attended with her six-year-old son, Isaiah, said she was glad his school, P.S. 112 in East Harlem, invited them.
“He gets to dress up like a zombie and have fun,” said Pagan. “It’s something nice to do for kids, and a change from everything negative going on lately — including the scary clowns.”
Pierogi Tasting Day
East Village Meat Market (139 Second Avenue)
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Feast on a variety of pierogies from Veselka, Streecha Ukranian, and others at this free event celebrating the Eastern European dumplings. Flavors available include pumpkin and short rib along with traditional fillings like potatoes and cheese. Tastings are complimentary.
Hudson River Park
Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Grab complimentary samples from High Street on Hudson, Bubby’s, and Ample Hills at this waterside festival on Saturday. The event, which celebrates the Meatpacking District, will also feature activities for families and live entertainment.
Halloween Candy Wine & Spirits Tasting
Bottlerocket Wine and Spirits (5 West 19th Street)
Saturday, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Love candy and booze? Pair classic Halloween candy with wine and spirits at this free tasting event. The lineup includes chardonnay and candy corn, Rioja and cherry gummies, and bourbon with a side of Twix.
Bratwurst Eating Contest
Bierhaus (712 Third Avenue)
Saturday, 4 p.m.
Amateur and professional competitive eaters can test their brat-eating skills at Bierhaus’s contest. The top four competitors who devour the most brats will each get a prize… and bragging rights.
Saturday and Sunday
New York bars and restaurants are busting out the pumpkins and cobwebs and celebrating Halloween in their own ways. The McKittrick Hotel will host Inferno, a monster-themed dance party with booze a’flowing all weekend long (tickets here). Meanwhile, Yotel is celebrating the spooky holiday with a Halloween lazer brunch. Other Halloween parties include the McCarren Hotel and Pool’s Nightmare on 12th Street (reserve your spot here) and a tiki-themed costume party at Sixty Lower East Side.
Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) Lab Opening, MOFAD Lab, 62 Bayard Street, Brooklyn, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 12–8 p.m./10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The city’s first museum dedicated to the needs of foodies is now open — and showcasing the story behind smells for its first exhibit. “Flavors: Making It and Faking It” urges attendees to interact with food odors they know too well (and perhaps create new scents along the way). MOFAD Lab also offers guests the chance to sample MSG in tablet form to get a better understanding of umami, not to mention several historical artifacts and video presentations designed for food lovers. General admission for adults is $10, and additional information about the museum, including membership, can be found on its website.
Swiss Water Coffee Pop-Up, 300 Lafayette Street, Friday through November 8, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Thinking about switching from regular to decaf? If the thought scares you, consider a conversation and cupping demonstration that may persuade you to take the leap of faith. The decaffeinated celebration includes live demonstrations, art inspired by coffee, and free tastings of espresso, cold brew, and other styles of coffee.
Pierogi Day, East Village Meat Market, 139 Second Avenue, Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Show the pierogi some love by heading out to the East Village for an unlimited free tasting of the Ukrainian specialty. Local businesses including Veselka will offer varieties like potato, cheese, short rib, and pumpkin for hungry customers. Attendees will also be able to snag pierogies to take home, too, if they don’t feel like chowing down in public.
“Boorito” Halloween Deal, all Chipotle locations, Saturday, 5 p.m. to close
Need a friendly place to grab a bite that will accept your Pizza Rat costume for the artistic genius that it is? All Chipotle locations will offer three-buck burritos, salads, bowls, and tacos to guests who arrive dressed in a costume that has an added “this doesn’t quite fit stylistically” element — think fake mustache or random eye patch.
Ho Foods Taiwanese Pop-Up, The Old Bowery Station, 168 Bowery, Sunday, 5–6:15 p.m.
Grab one of the remaining spots at this one-day affair, which offers a $40 five-course menu full of Taiwanese specialties. Beef noodle soup, sweet sausage with sticky rice, and preserved egg with tofu are a few warm dishes you’ll find, with cocktails and nonalcoholic drinks available for purchase. Reserve a seat here.
Extend the Halloween season until tonight, when horror master R.L. Stine joins an improv team for a special performance at The Tank. All ’90s kids will remember the ridiculously prolific Stine from his book series, Goosebumps, which featured out-there stories of murderous piano instructors, haunted sleepaway camps, and possessed ventriloquist’s dummies. Tonight, the tales that tormented a generation of children serve as fodder for comedy sketches, as interpreted by The Internet Disagrees, an indie troupe that won “Best NYC Improv Show” at the 2014 Creek Awards. The show opens with an interview with Dave Herman of two-man improv team Dosage, followed by Stine, who reads passages from his books, which serve as prompts for TID. The pre-sale is sold out, but you can get your ticket at the door.
Sat., Nov. 8, 7 p.m., 2014
Halloween’s right around the corner, and when it comes to New York’s Halloween traditions, you would be hard-pressed to find a longer-lasting hip-hop standard-bearer than Cypress Hill’s annual show. Emanating this year from the Best Buy Theater on October 30 (Devil’s Night, for you Midwest transplants), Cypress Hill celebrate almost two decades of tricks and treats in the home of hip-hop with La Coka Nostra, Immortal Technique, and Vinnie Paz.
We spoke to Sen Dog about the group’s proud New York tradition, as well as their appearance on The Simpsons and infamous banning from another New York institution, Saturday Night Live.
How did your Halloween New York tradition begin?
Man, you know, that’s a good question. I think we were on tour at one point and happened to be in New York at that time, and it went really well. Somewhere along the way, two or three years in a row, we just kept doing it. The fans kept coming out and supporting it. I can’t thank the New York fans enough for the continual support of this event. I think this is number 18.
Do you recall your first show performing in New York?
Our first show was, I wanna say our first album’s release party. I think it was on us and Tim Dog who were on Ruffhouse Records together. I remember our first actual gig that was an actual gig was with Ultramagnetic, who have always been one of my favorite hip-hop bands of all time. And to share the stage with Kool Keith, Ced Gee, Moe Love, and TR Love, I was like, “Wow, this is really cool.” After Ultramag’s set, Keith called a bunch of MCs to the stage and everyone was freestyling. It was awesome.
Given how extensive the Cypress Hill catalog is, is it ever a challenge figuring out what the setlist is going to be?
Yeah, it has been at times. There’s so much stuff we wish we could perform, but there’s not enough time to do everything. We try to come up with different stuff to do, but you just can’t leave certain songs out of a set. It’s the other songs that go around those big-time songs, and the challenge is to find the songs to do between those songs that are going to keep the energy moving and the vibe positive.
Do you have any particular songs you’re really proud of that you wish were as well-known as those big songs?
There was a song, “Money,” with a really cool instrumental, that I thought was really good, but it was overshadowed by something else on the record. And on the last album, Rise Up, there were some really great tracks we did with Jim Johnson, one that featured Marc Anthony and Pitbull. A lot of great Cypress songs have never been heard. They’re in a vault, and there’s definitely stuff where I wish all those songs could be [out].
Are they unreleased for sample reasons?
Ah, I don’t know. I think DJ Muggs is a little paranoid about them sometimes and puts them in a vault. [Laughs] I remember, I think for the Death Do Us Part record, we recorded over 45 songs, and there’s a lot of stuff we worked on really hard that just didn’t make the record. We’ve recorded over 100 songs that have never seen the light of day. It might be dated by now.
You ever do any of those live?
No, for the most part, once they don’t make the record, they go away and I haven’t heard them since. Cypress has always been a hardworking band, not just on tour, but in the studio as well. When we get on a roll and start recording, there’s no date on the board that says, “This is the day we stop.” We just keep going and going.
Your appearance on the “Homerpalooza” episode of The Simpsons has lived on in syndication for almost two decades now. Do you recall how they first reached out to you?
Yeah, they got ahold of our management at the time and said they were working on an episode with Smashing Pumpkins and a bunch of other artists and wanted to feature Cypress in it. I was like, “All right” — I’d seen The Simpsons, but I didn’t expect what was going to happen behind it. When that episode came out, it opened us up to a whole new generation of kids who were young enough to just know what The Simpsons was and what hip-hop and rock music was. They were growing up from being little kids to being young adults, and we got them at the perfect age with that episode.
I remember, I was in a supermarket once and this lady with a little boy walked by me. They were having an argument. The second time I saw them, the lady walked up to me and said, “Excuse me, sir, can you please tell my son that you were not on The Simpsons cartoon?” I told her, “Lady, I wish I could, but he’s right.” He was about eight or nine years old. That helped us into our future with these kids, and they’ve been with us ever since. That’s one of those moves where, if I had to make over again, I totally would.
Another memorable TV moment you had was your Saturday Night Live performance, which resulted in Cypress Hill being banned from the show. Just to dispel the rumors, is it true that Muggs lit up a joint on air (at 4:24 in the above clip) because the SNL crew kept persistently telling him not to?
Well, there’s a lot of stories behind why Muggs lit that joint. I remember Saturday Night Live gave us a greenroom and said, “Do whatever you want in here, just don’t light up out of here.” Muggs felt like he needed to make a statement with his performance. It wasn’t just the Saturday Night Live people saying he couldn’t smoke up on air. It was everyone: our record label, our management, our friends. I felt like, to me, Muggs wanted to make that statement. He asked me to light the joint up on stage, and I said, “I’m not doing that, man.” Before we did that second song, we agreed that we weren’t going to light up nothing. If you look, I was surprised that he did that. People loved it — people at the show loved it, because at the after-party they said, “That was so cool.” But when the hammer swung and we were banned from Saturday Night Live forever, we understood how serious it was. And understandably so — the world wasn’t ready for anything near that at that time. If he did it now, I don’t know what kind of backlash he’d have, but in the early ’90s, it earned us a kick in the ass from Saturday Night Live, and I haven’t seen that episode in reruns. It would have been cool to do Saturday Night Live again, but me personally, I didn’t think it was a great thing to do for our first time on SNL, but we paid the price and we moved on.
Has SNL reached out since to discuss ending the ban?
No sir, not at all. I would not expect them to.
On a lighter note, this year also marked your first time playing the Gathering of the Juggalos. How was that experience?
It was fun for me. I’d never done a show with an audience that rambunctious and wild and rowdy and throwing shit at me. It was kinda cool and weird because, most of the time when you’re on stage, you have control over the audience. You have the mic and the pull to say what happens on stage. With that audience, they were out of control, there was nothing controlling them. Cypress, our thing is a lot of crowd participation, and things we would do, they would take, carry it on, and make it their own. I really would like to do it again now that I know more or less what the get-down is. I would be able to perform better there. I thought it was a whole different get-down. If I go back there again, I will be a complete fucking fool and have as much fun as that crowd is having.