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A Christmas Cavil

Late in November, a woman came into an office where I was working, and a group gath­ered to look at the Christmas decorations and stocking stuffers she had just bought in Bloomingdale’s. The woman was especially pleased with a little wooden bird house that made a chirping sound. When she turned and asked good-naturedly for me to affirm that her gifts were indeed treasures, my re­sponse was, “I can’t relate to Christmas. I’m Jewish.” I said it ironically, but I meant it. I said it as if being Jewish, alone, were a suffi­cient explanation for my unwillingness to ap­preciate her toys.

“I’m Jewish, too,” she said. “I do it for my son.”

“I guess I might if I had a kid,” I said, but I’m pretty certain that I wouldn’t.

I’m not seduced by the admittedly attractive seasonal rites that go with Christmas; my alienation is a family legacy. When I think about the Christmases of my youth, I summon up a memory of my parents’ deliberate separation from the events of the holiday, a memory as intact as many Wasps’ idyllic remembrances of cherubim-decked blue spruces and profound feelings of intimacy.

My parents were born in this country, spoke unaccented English, and thought of themselves and their children as Americans. They knew a fair amount about the history of the government under which they at first merely survived and then prospered. My mother rhapsodized about Adlai Stevenson with an ardent expression she reserved for political figures she believed were “good for the Jew.”

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My parents were Americans, but they were Jews before anything else, and that was the anomaly at the root of my somewhat con­fused sense of identity. There was something illogical about being both American and Jew­ish — at least anomalous for the kind of Jew­ish that placed Jewishness first. True Ameri­cans, I learned from my three main sources of information — TV, movies, books — didn’t place anything before being American, never even thought about being American because they were American. And, most significantly, true Americans weren’t, by their very nature, Jewish; they weren’t Moslem or Buddhist either.

On TV, Jews and Buddhists were shown living in America — Molly Goldberg, for ex­ample, or the Japanese “houseboy” on Batchelor Father — but it was nonetheless as­sumed by every TV show and movie and printed word I encountered that to be Ameri­can meant to be Christian. American and Christian went together, automatically, axi­omatically, like mom and apple pie, like Christmas and gift-giving. My mother never baked an apple pie. My mother did not be­have at all like the mother I wished her to imitate, the archetypically American mom on Father Knows Best.

I remember feeling totally outside of Christmas, and confused by the relentless reiteration in the media of the meaning of the “Christmas spirit” and the “Christmas sto­ry.” Promoters of the Christmas spirit campaigned on a platform of love, generosity, harmony, and compassion, and asserted that this spirit embraced everyone. The Christ­mas story seemed to contradict the Christmas spirit because rigid, conservative old Jewish­ness was precisely the ethos against which Christ had forged his radical new ideology.

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I had felt excluded from baptisms and communions, but they didn’t have the same weight as Christmas. And besides, there were for all of these rituals analogous occasions in Jewish religious practice. But no one could persuade a child that Chanukah — forgive me — could hold a candle to Christmas. To a hungry kid, Chanukah was to Christmas what matzoh is to glazed ham with all the trimmings. Christmas was not simply a religious holiday — it steered the country, sug­gesting that a universal likeness of spirit and mind existed among the populace. Christ­mas, the true country within the country, had its own language, music, art, and sym­bolism. I felt exiled.

In reality, no one said that Jews could not celebrate Christmas. Many of my friends and their parents bought trees (some called them “Chanukah bushes”) and presents, placed wreathes on their doors, sent Christmas cards, and gave Christmas parties. My best friend lived in an “assimilated” fam­ily that enacted a completely authentic-look­ing Christmas. I coveted the boxes wrapped in metallic red and blue paper, which re­mained unopened for weeks until Christmas morning. It was that restraint, especially, that I couldn’t even fathom in my family.

Observing my friend’s pseudo-Christmas was the closest I ever came to taking part in a Christmas celebration. When I asked my parents why we couldn’t have a tree and exchange gifts, their answer was always un­equivocal and unamplified: “Because we’re Jewish.”

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I never knew exactly what this meant to them. My parents were not observant Jews; I believe they were atheists. Their sense of Jewishness came from the custom of being Jews and, most significantly, from the exis­tence of anti-Semitism and their experience of anti-Semitism. The word “Jew” evoked sentimental feeling in my parents, the way Fiddler on the Roof did, but as my parents lived their lives, the word “Jew” was, in fact, defined exclusively in political terms. It was defined with relationship to words like “re­stricted,” “pogrom,” “Auschwitz.”

I can see now that my parents refused to participate in Christmas because they felt it would have meant denying their Jewishness, and they understood that one goal of anti­-Semitism has always been to get Jews to deny their Jewishness. My parents believed that to go along with the pressure to go along with the celebrations of the Christian world would have meant a minor but nonetheless clear-cut victory for the forces of anti-Semitism.

For a long time I resisted my parents’ at­tempts to pass on their amorphously ex­pressed identity as Jews. This identity was bound up in ridiculous things like inquiries about which movie actors were or were not “really Jewish” despite their stage names. My parents seemed paranoid and xenophob­ic, tending to view a good deal of Western culture as either overtly or latently anti-Jew­ish. But somewhere along the line — I think it was around the time I read in depth about World War II and the Holocaust — I adopted an attitude toward Jewishness that turns out to be very close to theirs.

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I assert my Jewishness as an act of defiance against any pressure I feel to deny Jewish­ness. I assert my Jewishness every time I hear an anti-Semitic remark. I regard as mildly anti-Semitic being related to as a Jew by non-Jews — e.g., “We bought these bagels and lox especially for you.” I see a kind of anti-Jewishness in the omission of Jews from what is represented as a cross-section of real Ameri­can life; this is the case in almost all TV soap operas, which do feature characters with other-than-Jewish ethnic names and ethnical­ly oriented tastes and interests.

I feel most American outside America. I feel most Jewish at Christmas. I resist the American celebration of Christmas chiefly because it assents to the illusion that we are all alike, when we are not — and, more importantly, that we all wish to be inside, when some of us now prefer to be outside. The nonnegotiable publicness of Christmas, the universal assumption that everyone can re­joice in Christ’s birth, everyone can appreci­ate or wants to see festooned Christmas trees, wants to see Santa Clauses on street corners and hear Christmas music piped out of win­dows and in department stores, is a denial — ­albeit temporary — of the existence of non­-Christians. At Christmas time, non-Christians are omitted from the psychic life of this country, and although this omission may be relatively harmless, it’s anti-Jew, anti-Bud­dhist, and anti-Moslem. It’s anti-Other.

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Albany Is A Dysfunctional Sewer But At Least Students Might Have St. Patrick’s Day Off Next Year

The state legislature has roughly a week to come up with a budget that sets New York’s legislative priorities. Raise the Age reform, which would prevent the state from charging 16 and 17-year-old kids as adults, passed in the Assembly but languishes in the Senate, where Republicans have blocked it. Substantive ethics reform, touted by Governor Cuomo in his state of the state speech, is a distant memory (a Republican state senator was charged with corruption on Thursday morning). Upstate Republicans are moving to punish New York by shifting Medicaid costs from the federal government to the state, all while “Trumpcare” is poised to leave millions uninsured and millions more with higher premiums. But the State Senate did manage to pass one bill this week: S6747A would make St. Patrick’s Day a holiday in New York City public schools.

The bill, sponsored by Queens Senator Tony Avella, a member of the controversial Independent Democratic Caucus, is tailored specifically to districts home to more than one million students; New York City is the only district in the state that qualifies.

Avella touted the holiday’s significance as a celebration of Irish culture and heritage.

“Two years ago when we passed the Lunar New Year school holiday…it occurred to me, all these years we have had St. Patrick’s Day in New York City, it’s a huge holiday not just for the Irish but for all New Yorkers. Why have we never given consideration to making that a school holiday?” Avella told the Voice. “If anyone deserved to have a holiday based on long standing tradition, it certainly is the Irish-American community.”

In February 2016, city teacher Frank Schorn filed a civil rights suit against the Department of Education, claiming that their scheduling of parent teacher conferences on St. Patrick’s Day violated his right to march in the massive parade up Fifth Avenue. City Council’s Irish Caucus had repeatedly asked the Department to reschedule, and they refused.

Mayor de Blasio refused to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade for two years after organizers banned gay and lesbian organizations from marching under their banners. The mayor ended his boycott this year.

De Blasio campaigned on promises to add three religious holidays to the school calendar, which has long observed Christian and Jewish holidays, and the sacred Muslim holidays Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, as well as the Lunar New Year, celebrated by many of the city’s Chinese families, were added in 2015.

Avella also sponsored a bill to add Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, to the school calendar. It has yet to make it out of committee.

“Once we did Lunar New Year, we set the precedent that if you’re going to celebrate holidays particular to one group or another you have to be fair to all, and that’s something the city of New York is going to have to look at,” said Avella.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade actually happened in colonial New York City, in 1762. Successive waves of Irish immigration to the city over the next 35 years brought several small-scale iterations of the parades organized by Irish groups and, in 1848, they merged.

Through the decades, the Americanized version of the holiday became associated with binge drinking and violence. In 1867, the New York Times described the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade as a “riot” where “swords and spears” were in use. In 1894, a headline read: “The Death Rate Increased By The St. Patrick’s Day Parade.” The St. Patrick’s Day parade eventually became emblematic of growing Irish political power. Today, the parade is mostly secular, attended by New Yorkers of many ethnicities and backgrounds.

Still, Avella insists that the religious focus of St. Patrick’s Day has emerged over the last decade as the predominant motivation for celebration, and insisted that a day off from school was not akin to condoning the sorts of behavior commonly associated with the holiday.

“It was a problem decades ago with St. Patrick’s Day being associated with drinking, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore,” said Avella. “Obviously school-aged drinking is illegal. I think it’s a party celebration and that doesn’t mean that because we give a school holiday that should encourage any sort of illegal drinking or drinking to excess…[the parade] is clearly not what it was like 10 or 20 years ago.”

He cited increased “education” on the holiday’s true meaning for what he calls a reduction in vice, though he didn’t provide examples of what kind of education, or where and when it happened. Avella insisted that St. Patrick’s Day is a holy day of obligation in which practicing Catholics are required to attend mass.

According to Mercedes Lopez Blanco, who works in the communications office at the Archdiocese of New York, St. Patrick’s Day does appear on the Catholic liturgical calendar and attending daily mass is encouraged, but not required, even on St. Patrick’s Day.

“On certain days we honor certain saints and March 17 happens to be the day St. Patrick is honored on the liturgical calendar,” said Lopez Blanco. “A mention is made in that mass and that mass is said with him in mind.”

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Valentine’s Day In Every Position

Oh shit, it’s Valentine’s Day! How are you supposed to deal with this? Don’t panic. Now PANIC. Just kidding, don’t panic. (Panic a little.) Here’s some advice for every possible scenario on this day.

You’re Dating No One

In the Valentine’s’ War, you are the sole victor. Congratulations, truly. Buy yourself a bottle of Frangelico, pour it into two glasses, and drink them both. Pour two more. Golden Girls is streaming on Hulu, did you know? Have fun and be safe.

You’ve Been Dating for Like, Two Weeks

Face it, regardless of whether you like this person and foresee spending all of your Valentine’s Days together until you’re tossed into the same grave, two weeks is not enough time to justify too much stress. I advise avoiding the situation altogether and instead making plans with your friends (Frangelico and the Golden Girls). If you’re roped into hanging out, make this the day you reveal all your weird sex things to each other.

Now that I think about it, THAT should be the real purpose of Valentine’s Day. What better time to announce that you want to dress up in matching Coast Guard outfits while your cats watch or have someone baste your naked body in mayo and slide you across the linoleum? It’s either this or Christmas, and Christmas is super far away. Carpe diem!

You’ve Been Dating for a Few Months

Enough time has passed that you’re probably pretty comfortable around each other. He already knows how you like to use nipple clamps on your eyelids, and you know how he likes his toe webbing licked. If you’re content with the way things are going, leave them where they are. If you think you can stand to kick it up a few notches, it’s time to unveil your skin collection. You can thank me later.

You’ve Been Dating for a Few Years

Wow, great. It’s dinner time for you. Book a table at a prohibitively expensive restaurant, shower, brush ALL your teeth, dust off your fineries and put them on. Purchase or receive flowers, snip the ends, put them in a vase. Chocolate? Nah, forget it.

Now you’re at the restaurant. You both look nice! Take stock of your significant other’s appearance. Do they look older than when you first met? Are those crows feet new? You’d never noticed before. Imagine what they’ll look like when you do this again next year, and the year after. How do you feel? Gratitude that you still like this person, even though you’ve already grown tired of their dumb face? Excitement for the years still to come, unfurling like a red carpet that you’ll traverse hand in hand? Boredom? Fear? Hunger? Grow silent while you survey the couples around you. Do they seem happier than you? Sink into yourself while you prod your butter-poached lobster. What difference does this charade make, really? Couldn’t you be at home in your slipper socks, cat snoring gently on your foot while you eat kung pao tofu off a steak knife? Who do you really think you’re fooling with this florid contrivance?

Suddenly, you remember leftovers. You do it for the leftovers. You brighten, and take your partner’s hand, flushed with gratitude that they’ve chosen to spend this day here, with you. You’re happy, you think, and search their eyes for confirmation that they feel the same. You realize then that they’d been looking at Twitter this whole time, and hadn’t even noticed where you’d gone.

You’re Married

The pressure is ON. This is the time to show all your friends and peers and strangers that the fire is still BURNING, that your relationship still HOT, that you are not going to let a bunch of toddler vomit snuff the flame of your ROMANCE. But you’re going to have to prove it, and it’s going to have to be dramatic, or no one will believe you.

First, put your kids up for adoption: You won’t need them where you’re going (ROMANCE TOWN). Sell your house and everything in it, and book a one-way ticket to the most remote island you can find. I’m not talking about a well-populated surf spot in Bali; I am talking a miserable smear of rock-studded earth somewhere dismal, like the UK. There is no better test of your love’s strength than being forced to seek inadequate shelter under a rain-slicked boulder, one of you struggling to light a fire while the other forages for edible berries you hope don’t prove fatal. If you can do that, you’ll know that you’ve correctly chosen the person with whom you’ve decided to share your life.

If you can’t, well, use the iPhone you sneaked into the sole of your Teva to call yourself a boat. Escape in the night, and never look back.

He/She Doesn’t Know You’re Dating

Fact: More than half of U.S. relationships involve at least one person who doesn’t even KNOW they’re in a relationship! Whether it’s a friend, colleague, neighbor, local barista, dog walker, or amanuensis, it’s time to notify them that while you’re sorry you didn’t tell them sooner, the two of you are, in fact, dating. They’re probably going to have some questions, like how you got into their home, and it’s important that you have clear, digestible answers on hand to minimize confusion. They may react poorly to the news, especially if he or she is already in a relationship with someone else. Give them some time to adapt to the revelation that they’re dating you now. Depending on how they take it, you might want to postpone your announcement that you’ve already moved out of your apartment, and that the van with all your clothes and furniture is waiting around the corner. Twenty minutes should do it.

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Gays Against Guns Are Resisting Fascism, One Satirical Carol at a Time

If you were hunting for presents in the Union Square market last weekend, chances are you scored a musical treat: Blending the urgency and humor political street theater, Gays Against Guns wowed unsuspecting shoppers with creatively written, biting, and cathartic alternative Christmas carols, complete with sleigh bells and a grotesque Trump puppet in a king’s crown. A crowd quickly formed to enjoy such tunes as “I Saw Mommy Killing Santa Claus” and “Grabby Paws Is Coming To Town,” with onlookers braving blustery temperatures to laugh through more than a dozen songs about homophobia, racism, gun violence, and foreign intervention in U.S. elections.

Most New Yorkers would be far less annoyed if the jingles on permanent repeat in every grocery and drug store between Thanksgiving and New Year’s sported lyrics like these new classics from “GAG Nog”:

Donny the Con Man was a nasty, hateful soul
Just an angry man with a spray-on tan
Telling lies about clean coal
Donny the con man did a job Election Day
Telling old white men they’d be great again
If they’d let him have his way.

Video courtesy Liza Béar

Mark Leydorf, who wrote the book for the musical Citizen Ruth, also wrote most of GAG’s carols (others were contributed by members Kimberly Miller, Gina DelJones, and Jeremy Tjhung). The organization was founded last summer, after the Orlando shooting. “People were like, don’t fuck with the gays — and it’s true,” Leydorf thells the Voice. “GAG is bringing back some of that ACT UP mojo, exerting pressure on the Congress and the NRA to break the chain of death.” Before the election, when GAG’s members assumed Hillary Clinton would win, their carols focused mostly on gun violence and politicians’ fecklessness in response. “After the Apocalypse, we had to broaden the message,” Leydorf continues. “Our villain, the NRA, spent something like $50 million this cycle, so they’re just as responsible as Putin and Comey for giving us the führer of Fifth Avenue.” He penned “Donny the Con Man” on November 9.

Approximately thirty GAG members have caroled over three weekends, in Times Square, Union Square, Columbus Circle, Rockefeller Center, and at Trump Tower. They intentionally chose touristy spots in the hopes of communicating with Red Staters. “I like activism in which you engage at close range with people. Gag Nog is silly, but we have conversations about guns and Trump and Putin all day long,” Leydorf explains. “People will come up and ask to sing with us, or we’ll make some stranger hand out our palm cards. We keep it fun. I like to think we’re modeling protest for people who’d normally just share memes on Instagram.” He thinks satire and mockery will be key strategies for getting through the next four years. “New Yorkers definitely feel a catharsis with [GAG]. We’re standing there calling Trump out — he’s a Russian whore, an ignorant fuck, an angry man with a spray-on tan — and they love it. Let’s laugh him right out of office.”

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Where to Feast in NYC Over Christmas Weekend

There’s so much stress that goes into holiday planning: travel arrangements, getting the perfect gift for your cousin’s girlfriend’s sister, and monitoring grandma’s eggnog intake. As if that wasn’t already enough, there’s also the pressure of planning a holiday-worthy meal. Cross that off your list and leave the food to the professionals this year. These five restaurants are open on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, so you can kick back under the mistletoe with a hot toddy and focus on what’s really important this holiday season. (Presents… It’s the presents.)

Open on Christmas Eve

Fancy Nancy
(1038 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-350-7289; fancynancybk.com)

Fancy Nancy’s brightly-colored, funky interior offers a cheerful respite from the gray New York winter. Fancy Nancy’s alternative to traditional Christmas fare is sure to delight with a $45 prix-fixe menu featuring pepitas pumpkin soup, tahini beet salad, roasted duck, and eggnog ice cream. Wash it all down with their Summer Vacation cocktail, and you’ll be transported to warmer climes thanks to a healthy dose of tequila and mezcal. Or try the Gator Bait — it’s purple! — for something that’s as festive as this eatery’s décor.

Rolf’s
(281 Third Avenue; 212.473.8718; rolfsnyc.com)

Rolf’s is exactly what you’d expect to see at a hoarding elf’s North Pole home — there’s holiday cheer everywhere. Ornaments hang from the ceiling in bunches, nestled in beds of holly and dangling glass icicles. Christmas lights illuminate alcoves where angels peep at diners over pine garlands. It’s a truly magical spectacle — and for those who can’t make it before the holiday, luckily the decorations stay up through May. Don’t forget to reserve a table their German Christmas Eve dinner — spots are going fast.

Open Christmas Day

Union Hall
(702 Union Street, Brooklyn; 718.638.4400; unionhallny.com)

Bocce ball, beer, and burgers — what’s not to love? Union Hall has two floors, a fireplace, and a rotating calendar of events that make it the perfect place to unwind with friends or family after opening presents. The Floyd Kentucky Beer Cheese (with Ritz crackers) hits the spot whether you’re cozied up in one of their library booths or celebrating Prince on Christmas Eve with rapper and ordained minister Jean Grae. Plus, Union Hall’s Christmas Day Pajama Party gives you a totally valid excuse to bust out your old reindeer onesie.

Bemelmans Bar
(35 East 76th Street; 212.744.1600; rosewoodhotels.com)

Bemelmans Bar is a New York institution housed in an even greater New York institution: the Carlyle Hotel. Named after artist Ludwig Bemelmans (a.k.a. the writer and illustrator of Madeline), this Art Deco oasis will serve up culinary classics like oysters and foie gras along with Caspian Sea caviar and steak frites on Christmas. The bar’s extensive drink menu pairs well with Bemelmans’ deep leather banquettes for a truly classy experience. After enjoying a Whiskey Smash, top off a Woody Allen-esque New York night with a stroll along Central Park.

Nom Wah Tea Parlor
(13 Doyers Street; 212.962.6047; nomwah.com)

What says Christmas more than eating Chinese food? This classic tea parlor serving dim sum has been a staple in Chinatown since the 1920s. Be prepared for a wait to get in: as one of NYC’s oldest tea parlors, Nom Wah has a solid reputation amongst tourists and locals alike. But for a delicious, no-fuss feast, it’s worth the wait. If you can’t make it to Nom Wah for Christmas, their menu remains the same year-round, which should be plenty of time to try their famous pork buns, spareribs, dumpling, and vintage teas.

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This Week in Food: Latke Festival, Hester Street Market Freebies, Hydroponics Class

Eighth Annual Latke Festival
Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn)
Monday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Grab specialty latkes (like jerk chicken or sweet potato with duck confit) at this unlimited tasting, where a $70 ticket also includes wine, beer, and cocktails. Prizes will be awarded for best latkes by celebrity judges, and there will also be a people’s choice award.

More Goodie: A Pop-Up Thing at Thelma on Clinton
Thelma on Clinton (29 Clinton Street)
Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Enjoy live jazz, tasty bites, and delicious cocktails (thanks to bartenders from Estela and Dutch Kills) at this all-night affair. Shareable dishes include lard bread with pickle butter, chicken fried quail, and a foie gras po’ boy among others. Guests can purchase tickets ($39 per person).

Wine Wednesday
Hester Street Holiday Market (South Street Seaport, 117 Beekman Street)
Wednesday, 5 p.m.

The Hester Holiday Market is offering free wine, cider, and snacks on Wednesday for shoppers; however, guests must make an advance reservation.

Hydroponics Class
Institute of Culinary Education (225 Liberty Street)
Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Study the science of hydroponics and learn to grow herbs, fruits, and more at this hands-on class. Students of all experience levels and backgrounds can participate. Early bird tickets start at $65.

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Inside MoMA PS1’s Winter Wonderland

MoMa PS1 held their annual holiday party where guests could explore the galleries after normal visiting hours. The event featured an immersive snow globe installation in the VW dome, as well as holiday-themed drinks and snacks.

Photos by Laura June Kirsch for the Village Voice

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Dave Harrington and Friends Holiday Spectacular Takes Over Brooklyn Bowl

Producer and musician Dave Harrington (of Darkside) gathered a group of friends for his third-annual Holiday Spectacular, which benefitted the Harlem School of Arts.

Musicians featured throughout the night included: Nick Murphy (Chet Faker), Martin Courtney (Real Estate), Oliver Ackermann (A Place To Bury Strangers), Hamilton Leithauser (The Walkmen), Yuka C. Honda (Cibo Matto), Mauro Refosco (Forro in the Dark, Atoms for Peace), Alex Frankel and Nick Milheiser (Holy Ghost!), Anand Wilder (Yeasayer), Andrew Fox (VISUALS), Brent Katz (Thunder & Lightning), Chris Tomson (Vampire Weekend and Dams of the West), Ilhan Ersahin, Jen Goma (A Sunny Day in Glasgow), Jon Philpot (Bear In Heaven), Kaki King, Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner (The Disco Biscuits), Bryndon Cook (Starchild & The New Romantic), Steve Marion (Delicate Steve), Jarvis Taveniere (Woods), Innov Gnawa, Ryan Miller (Guster), and Sam Cohen (Yellowbirds).

Harrington’s house band included Dr. Nate Sloan, Will Epstein (High Water), Todd Goldstein (Arms), Ben Lieberman (King Holiday), Samer Ghadry (Samerican), Tiacael Esparza (ARMS/Friend Roulette), and Dave Harrington himself.

Photos by Laura June Kirsch for the Village Voice

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Best Weekend Food Events: Ugly Sweater Contest, New Brunch, Smoked Fish and Beer Pairing

Free Beer and Ugly Sweater Contest
Bierhaus (712 Third Avenue)
Friday, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Bierhaus NYC is hosting an ugly sweater party with prizes and free beer available to those brave enough to rebel against fashion.

Japanese Brunch
Bessou (5 Bleecker Street)
Saturday and Sunday

Bessou recently unveiled a brunch menu featuring Japanese dishes like congee with fried prawns, green egg and chaashuu sandwiches, and dandan udon noodles.

Spiked Mug Fest and Holiday Bazaar
The Factory (30-30 47th Avenue, Queens)
Sunday, 11:30 am to 8:30 p.m.

Enjoy unlimited drinks while you browse for last-minute gifts at this walk-around tasting. The event also includes a selection of bites. Reserve a ticket ($39 for general admission) here.

ACME Smoked Fish and Beer Pairing
Greenpoint Beer and Ale (7 North 15th Street)
Sunday, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Acme Smoked Fish and Greenpoint Beer and Ale are teaming up for a smoked fish and beer tasting. Feast on four different types of smoked fish, each paired with one of the brewery’s beers. Tickets are $30. Reserve yours here.