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Swish!

We love how Brooklyn has embraced the Nets, their first big-league team in more than 50 years, and a game at Barclays is an event. The Nets have been amazing in 2014, 15-6 as we go to press. This puts them second in the Atlantic Division and definitely in playoff contention. They’ve also given fans some big excitement, beating two top teams this year, the Thunder and the Heat (in a double overtime thriller). Although we miss Brook Lopez, out for the season with a foot injury, it’s fun to see Kevin Garnett (team leader in rebounds), Deron Williams (leading team in assists), and Paul Pierce (most steals) pounding the boards. The Bulls have never recaptured the Michael Jordan glory years, but this year they’re over .500 and in line for a playoff berth. Plus, there’s a revenge factor here: The Nets have lost to the Bulls in their two previous meetings this year, so look for them to be in high gear.

Mon., March 3, 7:30 p.m., 2014

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SLAM DUNK

The latest edition of this longtime rivalry should be interesting, as both teams have something to play for. The Knicks, number two in the Eastern Conference all season, are trying to overcome the Heat for the number one spot, while the Sixers have to step it up a notch to make the playoffs. Both teams have been plagued by injuries, especially Philadelphia, whose crown jewel of last summer’s blockbuster trade, All-Star center Andrew Bynum, has yet to hit the boards for them. Look for some high scoring fireworks—the 76ers are seventh in the league in points allowed, while the Knicks are 8th.

Sun., Feb. 24, 7 p.m., 2013

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BEST OF NYC™ Readers’ Poll

The winners of our Readers’ Choice poll:

Shopping and Services

Best Antiques:
Goodwill

Best Bikini Waxer:
Shape NYC

Best Bookstore:
Barnes & Noble

Best Used Bookstore:
The Strand

Best Comic Book Store:
Bergen Street Comics

Best Furniture Store:
Ikea

Best Gift Shop:
Exit9 Gift Emporium

Best Hair Salon:
Siren Hair Salon

Best Jewelry Store:
In God We Trust

Best Lingerie:
La Petite Coquette

Best Shoe Store:
Tip Top Shoes

Best Skateboard Shop:
Skate Brooklyn

Best Spa:
D’Mai Urban Spa

Best T-Shirts:
Sport Prospect

Best Tattoo Parlor:
Goose Tattoo

Best Toy Store:
Kidding Around

Best Vinyl Record Store:
Academy Records

Arts and Entertainment

Best Broadway Theater:
St. James Theater

Best Comedy Club:
Upright Citizens Brigade

Best Free Concert Series:
River to River Festival

Best Guitarist:
Annie Clark

Best Jukebox:
Cain’s Tavern

Best Karaoke:
Karaoke Duet 35

Best Live Music Venue:
Music Hall of Williamsburg

Best Movie Theater:
Nitehawk Cinema

Best Museum:
The Museum of Modern Art

Best New Art Gallery:
Gavin Brown’s Enterprise

Best Off-Broadway Theater:
Cherry Lane Theatre

Best Rock Bar:
Saint Vitus

Best Strip Club:
Flashdancers

Best Theater Actor:
Mark Rylance

Best Theater Actress:
Cherry Jones

Sports and Recreation

Best Basketball Court:
West 4th Street Courts

Best Bike Shop:
Ride Brooklyn

Best Brooklyn Net:
Chris Humphries

Best New York Giant:
Victor Cruz

Best Gym:
New York Health and Racquet Club

Best Horse Track:
Belmont Park

Best New York Jet:
Mark Sanchez

Best New York Knick:
Carmelo Anthony

Best New York Met:
David Wright

Best New York Yankee:
Derek Jeter

Best Team Owner:
Mara Family

Best Tennis Courts:
Central Park

Food

Best Burger: Shake Shack
Best Cheap Meal: Vanessa’s Dumpling House

Best Cupcake: Cupcake Café
Best Dumplings: Vanessa’s Dumpling House

Best Falafel: Taim

Best Fast Food: Shake Shack

Best Fish: Mary’s Fish Camp

Best Fried Chicken: Popeyes

Best Fries: Pommes Frites

Best Healthy Meal: Capizzi Pizzeria

Best Hot Dog: Papaya King

Best Ice Cream: Big Gay Ice Cream Shop

Best Italian Restaurant: La Bella

Best Noodles: Xi’an Famous Foods

Best Off-the-Wall Meal: Peter Luger Steakhouse

Best Pizza: Capizzi Pizzeria

Best Salad: Chop’t Creative Salad Company

Best Sandwich: Katz’s Delicatessen

Best Small Plates: The Vanderbilt

Best Soup: El Malecon Restaurant II

Best Spicy Food: Brick Lane Curry House

Best Sushi: Sushi Samba 7

Best Taco: Brooklyn Taco Co.

Best Unhealthy Meal: Katz’s Delicatessen

Best Wrap: Saladworks

Drink

Best Beer Garden:
Bohemia Hall and Beer Garden

Best Beer List:
Radegast Hall and Biergarten

Best Bloody Mary:
Blarney Castle

Best Dive Bar:
Freddy’s

Best Happy Hour:
San Loco

Best Hookah Bar:
Karma Bar and Lounge

Best Margarita:
Rosa Mexicano

Best Martini:
Dutch Kills Bar

Best New Bar:
Arena Lounge

Best Sports Bar:
Blondies Sports

Best Triva Bar:
Tippin Inn

Best Wine List:
Il Fornetto

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Sound of the Sandy City

Upon hitting land, Hurricane Sandy disrupted the lives of everyone on the Eastern Seaboard and destroyed not only houses and roads but also entire sections of cities. Even when it remained in the Atlantic, the storm was already disrupting New York’s massive concert industry: Shows by British soft-goth trio the xx and local pop-punk superstars fun. were postponed, while acts like Ghostface Killah and Journey—the latter making their presumably anticipated Barclays Center debut—told fans to return to their point of purchase and collect full refunds.

On Sunday night, not the greatest for concerts even in the middle of summer, the best action I could find was on the website turntable.fm, where users can set up public or private chat rooms and where strangers or friends rotate as DJs. After creating an account, I entered a room that was a mixture of both.

Accurately titled an all-caps “HURRICANE JAMMIN’,” it was created by pals, some of whom have written for the Voice, who did the same thing last year when it was Irene keeping the city inside. But it was frequented by strangers intrigued by the title and hooked by the eclectic combination of ’80s new jack swing, dance and club music, and otherwise long-forgotten novelty tracks. I have no doubt that I enjoyed sitting before my computer and discovering that Khia did a New Jersey Nets playoff remix of her 2002 ladies-first sex anthem “My Neck, My Back” more than anything four out of five rock bands would have played had their gigs not been canceled. Accordingly, I clicked the button marked “awesome,” and my chat room avatar began nodding his oversize head in approval.

By Monday, no music could compete with the sounds coming from outside, and soon, once the storm knocked out Internet, even these small pleasures were taken away. While my roommate spent the afternoon discovering that Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s latest post-rock opus Allelujah! Don’t Blend! Ascend! makes for, if nothing else, a good compliment to pouring rain and howling wind, I went to a pair of bodegas in search of some supplies I should have bought the night before. Although I entered hoping to hear something with a little more life than Godspeed’s slow drone, even these neighborhood institutions, usually broadcasting Hot 97 or Mega 97.9 deep into the night, had turned off the music, opting instead for televised news updates.

Later, as Sandy receded and cabin fever began to set in, Bed-Stuy residents descended upon Myrtle Avenue’s Project Parlor for some much needed relief, using those concert refunds to purchase $3 PBRs and discounted-shelf liquor. On Mondays, the bar usually turns to Pandora for music, but with the Internet still down, they hooked up a ’90s Walkman and requested that patrons bring their personal mixtapes and cassettes.

One Facebook commenter requested that someone bring a copy of Raekwon’s legendary Only Built 4 Cuban Linx purple tape, but it seemed that no collectors were willing to bring an item so rare out into weather that remained strong enough to knock down branches or soak through a pair of Rae-approved gray-and-black Bo Jackson sneakers.

The next morning, the storm was gone, but its footprint remained visible from every window on every street. Without whistling wind, pounding rain, cars driving by, and, in some cases, power, the neighborhood awoke to a new sound: quiet.

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SLAM DUNK

This is already being called the East River Rivalry and for good reason. When the Nets were in New Jersey, it just wasn’t the same as competing with another NYC team, plus the Knicks and Nets have never had a good team in the same season. Now with Deron Williams, Kris Humphries, and Brook Lopez hitting the hardwood for Brooklyn and the Knicks lead by Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler, we can expect the barbs to fly and the scoreboard to light up. This is actually the second preseason clash of New York’s roundball franchises (the first was at Nassau Coliseum on October 24), but this is the marquee—the last preseason game before the regular season, and it’s in NYC! Also, keep in mind that regular season tickets will be really hard to get and might require a bank loan to finance, so go for this one.

Thu., Nov. 1, 7 p.m., 2012

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Santigold’s Gold Standard

Despite spending the previous evening performing on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and hosting a celebratory after-party at downtown hot spot Le Baron, Santi White, a/k/a Santigold, is surprisingly fresh-faced and cheerful the morning after the release of her second album, Master of My Make-Believe (Atlantic/Downtown). Her demeanor might be light, but that’s not to say she doesn’t have weighty things on her mind. “The earth is going crazy,” she proclaims.

She continues, gazing out the window of her label’s midtown offices: “It’s insane. There are birds falling out of the sky, oil spills, nuclear explosions. There are earthquakes and tornadoes here in New York City. I mean, come on. What the hell is going on?”

In person, the 36-year-old is just as playfully engaging as she is on stage, where she champions social and musical revolution. She’s also remarkably enthusiastic for someone who has seen the seedy inner workings of almost every facet of the music industry. In her twenties, she served as an A&R rep at Epic Records and fronted the punk band Stiffed; she has helped write songs for Christina Aguilera, Lily Allen, and Ashlee Simpson. And thanks to songs like “L.E.S. Artistes” and “Creator” becoming music-blog and commercial staples, she has toured with Björk, Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Kanye West and Jay-Z. The Roc-a-Fella mogul and Nets co-owner even sampled her heady dub chant “Shove It” on his song “Brooklyn We Go Hard.”

But with that out-of-the-gate success came creative confusion, which led to a long period of time between her first and second albums. “When you’re out giving, giving, giving, you put a seal on the emotional part of you, and it hardens,” she says. “I really had to do a lot of work to get back to the private, personal part of myself to write. And when I got there, I had to re-evaluate.” She mentions TV on the Radio’s David Sitek, who contributed production to Master, as her savior; he recommended that she try transcendental meditation and yoga, and she credits those practices with helping her gain creative clarity.

Later in our conversation, White jokingly blames her constant inner angst on artists’ tendencies toward being overly sensitive to their surroundings. It’s a gentle, personal reconstructing of the in-your-face, revolutionary tone that made her debut’s collage of rock, punk, dub, and hooks translate so well. On Master, dancehall, kuduro, and synth rock enter the mix. “I really like when pop music had world-music influences, like Peter Gabriel or Talking Heads,” she says. “I think I did more of that style this time.” Lyrically, she balances the roles of all-powerful femme-warrior (“GO!”), cultural theorist (“Fame”), challenging provocateur (“Freak Like Me”), and soothsaying romantic (“The Riot’s Gone”).

The lumping together of hard and sweet, sassy and sentimental, and a grab bag of musical tastes puts Santigold in a particularly powerful position. Her brand of music is purposefully off-kilter and masterfully constructed in a way that separates her from a growing pack of everything-including-the-kitchen-sink pop stars. But her pop-sheened weirdness might ultimately make her one of the most endearing, relatable, and authoritative bridges between the cutting edge and the mainstream.

That fact is most apparent to White herself, and Santigold is a stylish, savvy project as a result. “What I do well is curating to make my vision come together,” she notes. A resident of Bed-Stuy, where she lives with her one-time Olympic snowboarder and musician husband Trouble Andrew, the singer’s self-mined, hands-on approach is key to her method. She went crate-digging with Q-Tip to find the sample for the choppy battle cry “GO!” and her choreographed stage routines are inspired by Kid-N-Play and Public Enemy shows she saw when she was young. Even the strappy golden swimsuit she dons on the cover of Master was custom designed for her by Alexander Wang.

White has approached the release of her second album with a mix of excitement and trepidation. On “Fame,” a track that calls out the paparazzi-fiending masses, the singer lyrically and openly struggles with her own public image. For her, the world is out of whack in more ways than one. She notes that the pop icons of her youth were different from the Real Housewives of today and maintains that fame is a double-edged sword. As a result, it’s her belief that fame only belongs to those who want to use it for good. “Celebdom is weird and really fucked up,” she says earnestly. “I’m definitely not in it for that. At the same time, I want my music to be famous. I feel like there’s an insane amount of power in music, and it’s a positive power.”

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NBA UNWRAPPED

The NBA’s decision to kick off the long-delayed season on Christmas Day with the Knicks taking on the Celtics at Madison Square Garden was a stroke of marketing genius. Don’t let anyone tell you this rivalry is just a spin-off of the Yankees–Red Sox hate relationship: New York and Boston have been duking it out since the original 1946 NBA was formed. Last April marked the first time in 21 years they met in the playoffs, and Knicks fans will be looking for some big-time revenge. And this season, they have the guns to do it, with Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Rajon Rondo giving the fans a lot to look forward to. By the way, if you can’t leave the festivities at home, TNT lucked out and has the game with one of my favorite round-ball commentators, Charles “Knucklehead” Barkley, joined by Shaquille O’Neal in his TNT debut. Should be fun.

Sun., Dec. 25, noon, 2011

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FACE OFF

These two teams have been duking it out since 1946 (they are two of only three teams remaining from the original NBA), and while the Celtics are way ahead in championships (17–2), the Knicks are playing with renewed spunk and hope since ’Melo. And don’t forget the other half of New York’s dynamic duo, Amar’e Stoudemire, who is leading the league with 632 FGs as we write this. So maybe the Knicks are coming back—and the feeling is that this rivalry is back, too. In their last match-up on December 16, the Celtics—who are headed to the playoffs and a shot at the championship—edged the Knicks out at the buzzer (118–116). Look for some payback this time!

Mon., March 21, 7:30 p.m., 2011

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Find cheap seats to the Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers

David Letterman said it better than us last week: “Tiger Woods announced he would be taking a leave from the sport—didn’t the Knicks already do that?” You can at least come out and root for the forwards: Indiana’s David Granger is averaging around 24 points a game as we go to press, and the Knicks’ Danilo Gallinari is averaging near 14.1 points a game. Try yelling, “Avanti!” to Gallinari, an Italian who is the Knicks’ youngest player at 21. Seriously, this might be a good time to get tickets. Score them on the rebound on StubHub, starting as low as $15 with some club seating available at $140 a ticket.

Sun., Jan. 3, 6 p.m., 2010

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LEBRON BRINGS IT HOME?

With Isiah Thomas finally gone, the Knicks front office is playing up the virtues of stability and rebuilding. Mike D’Antoni has his job cut out for him, and as we go to press, the Knicks were 5-2 in preseason. Fortunately, he can start with building their game around the “Dynamic Duo,” Chris Duhon (566 assists last season, the most of any Knick since Stephon Marbury in 2004–05) and David Lee (who put up a career-best 16.0 points per game in his first season playing with Duhon). Still, the Knicks can hardly hope for a win against the Cavaliers, who almost made it to the finals last year, but the main attraction, of course, is LeBron James—five-time All-Star, 2008–2009 MVP, and ace Saturday Night Live host. LeBron wants to snag the championship for his hometown this year and finally get past the rap of being the league’s best player with no championship ring, so he can be expected to dazzle every outing.

Fri., Nov. 6, 6 p.m., 2009