Bill Plympton's Mutant Aliens; Cancer Conspiracy Recovers from Queens Bandits; Swank Events at Orensanz, White Columns and Puck Bldg.


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Plympton is at the forefront of this new wave, or the back, depending on whether you like his childishly simple line drawings, bizarre sex scenes and characters that morph from one disgusting thing into another. His new opus is about a group of animals, spawned under frightening circumstances in outer space, that returns to Earth to kill the nasty government figure who got them created in the first place.


"The original concept for this film occurred to me when I was looking at a magazine and I saw a picture of Laika, the Russian cosmonaut dog," Plympton explains. "I wondered, 'Is that dog still up in space circling around the Earth in some tin can? There must be a lot of other monkeys and mice and rabbits that are circling the Earth and they're probably pretty pissed off.'"


Mutant Aliens runs a bit long for my taste, but Plympton fans will be happy to know that Bill's archetypes are all accounted for: the Reagan-esque villain, the horny and visually imaginative young man and the babe-with-oversexed-voice (as cute child and slammin' adult). There's also some man-on-alien action that's not for the squeamish.


"I started out doing sex cartoons for Playboy and Penthouse and Hustler and Screw, so I still like to, y'know, put sex stuff in my films," Plympton says. "I think that's kind of a unique quality to my animation, going up against DreamWorks and Disney and Fox."


Mutant Aliens has its American premiere ("as soon as my films are finished, they go immediately to [France and Korea] and I make money on 'em") this Friday at Cinema Village (22 E. 12th St., betw. University Pl. & 5th Ave., 924-3363). The show runs at 2:20, 6:20 and 10:10 and anybody who sees the movie that night will be allowed to attend an after-party for Plympton fans. (The location is secret; you'll learn it when you get out of the theater.)


Oh, and keep in mind as you're watching Mutant Aliens?Bill Plympton wrote, produced, animated and directed it. It took two and a half years and ate up $300,000 of his own cash.


...Speaking of lost wages, talented instrumental band the Cancer Conspiracy went through some serious crap last month when their van, full of equipment, was stolen in Queens. "We lost a total of over $21,000 in gear and merch," writes bassist Brent Frattini on the band's website, "as well as a porno mag and a jar of peanuts." It's never a good time to have your shit jacked, but it was particularly bad for the Cancer Conspiracy?they had just released one of the most ambitious, interesting albums of the young year and they were slated to play Mercury Lounge. They did what any band would do; they sent out an e-mail about the theft, got stupid drunk at a bar in Queens called Gussy's (20-14 29th St., betw. 20th & 21st Aves., Astoria, 718-728-9418)?Gussy himself took a liking to them and added their debut The Audio Medium to the jukebox?and flew home to Burlington, VT.


This week, Cancer Conspiracy returns for a show at Knitting Factory, where their uncompromising post-prog chops will be respected. Basically, The Audio Medium (January 2002) plays like an even denser Don Caballero with saxophone and keyboards. Along with bassist Frattini, guitarist Daryl Rabidoux and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Greg Beadle have no respect for any of the norms of rock music, going from Floyd-inspired horn parts to riffs cribbed from Rush to piano interludes like they've been smoking dust with RZA. It's amazing that something like The Audio Medium ever even got made, let alone released by Big Wheel Recreation.


As for the name Cancer Conspiracy, it might refer to an alleged plot by members of the medical community to suppress oncological research or it might refer to the way pop music spreads through American minds, depending on how you interpret the cryptic writings that come with the CD. "[I] tried to understand why a culture which supposedly values individuality and variety is content to tune in to what is essentially a static and repetitive signal," writes "Dr. Travis John, Ph.D." in a "letter" that fits in the album sleeve. Rock on.


Cancer Conspiracy plays Saturday at Knitting Factory (75 Leonard St., betw. B'way & Church St., 219-3055). They open for Lake Trout; Kill Me Tomorrow is also on the bill; doors are at 8:30 p.m. so Kill Me Tomorrow should be on at 10 with the Cancer Conspiracy following at 11. Tickets are $12.


...If, instead of $12, you feel like spending a couple hundred this week, you're in luck: the swank spring events are in full swing. Something about daffodils and cherry trees just makes people want to spend cash in New York, and our auction houses/theaters/community organizations know it.


First, on Thursday, the Friends of Grand Street Settlement present their second-annual Taste of the Lower East Side. I always thought the L.E.S. tasted like beer, but when you reflect on it, there's one single block that has Katz's Deli, Bereket Turkish Kabob House and Famous Original Ray's Pizza (Houston St., south side, betw. Orchard & Ludlow Sts.), so that's not too shabby. The Taste of the Lower East Side is bringing in yummy samples from 25 restaurants and refreshments from 12 beverage distributors, including Korand/Alize Cognac, for a night of ingestion. Proceeds benefit youth programs at the Grand Street Settlement.


The best thing about this event is that it's taking place at the Orensanz Center for the Arts (172 Norfolk St., betw. Houston & Stanton Sts., 529-7194), a synagogue-turned-party-space that is gorgeous front-to-back. If you've never been there, you owe it to yourself to drop by; it's like the downtown Cloisters. Tickets can be obtained through www.grandstreet.org/taste or by calling 674-1740 x211 for $75-$300.


Next on the list, White Columns is a nonprofit exhibition space in the West Village that's been hosting a Benefit Silent Auction for the past two weeks. (Whom does the auction benefit? White Columns, of course! They're nonprofit.) If you want to bid on any of their art, get on www.whitecolums.org now. If you just want to party, shell out $150 for their gala this Saturday.


The hoo-hah takes place at White Columns (320 W. 13th St., betw. 8th Ave. & Hudson St., 924-4212) starting at 7 p.m. Be aware that despite what you might think from the address, the entrance to the gallery is on Horatio St., one block south of 13th St.


Finally, it is Shakespeare's birthday this Monday and Theater for a New Audience is celebrating with its 23rd Anniversary Gala. Shakespeare is famous for writing some plays in England. The Theater for a New Audience is famous for putting these plays on. And John Turturro, celebrity MC, is famous nowadays for this weird cultural blip O Brother, Where Are Thou? that has gripped us since 2000. Cocktails start at 6:30 p.m.; dinner and entertainment (including auctions for Broadway evenings) start at 7:30; it all takes place in the Puck Bldg. (295 Lafayette St., betw. Houston & Prince Sts., 398-1133 x11 or x12), New York Press' old home, where I spent many a rockin' evening. Tickets are $450 and up and are available through the number above.


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