the release of the new Jay-Z album. I could act like Spin and just use the end of the year as an excuse to discuss Trent Reznor some more, but, again, no.
(By the way, what a brilliant write-up on the Album of the Year in that January Spin. Critic Joshua Clover really met the challenge of explaining why Reznor's so important when he wrote, "The massive. The moody. The brainy. The endless. The baroque. The broken? The hard bulletin." Nice editing, dudes! Other highlights: Charles Aaron theorizing that the problem with tantrum-rap-metal is not that it sucks, but that it's sexist, and visionary Eric Weisbard revealing, "I dream of rebels as pointed and funny as Eminem, but with a solid community empowering them.")
Truth is, with the countdown of shopping days nearing zero, I'm not feeling it. At all. This seems to me the most banal week in New York history. Omnipresent attempts at specialness come across as rote as a Spin "Year in Music." Walking by my local sex-toy store the other day, noticing they had a window display with green latex and red leather, I wondered: Is someone really going to have Christmasy fetish sex? Why does everything have to be Christmas?
Maybe if it snowed, or if someone had slipped me some Knicks tickets for Chanukah, or if yet another local cabal of intellectual Jew-haters hadn't discovered New York Press' uncensored letters section this month, things would be different. The Christmas cartoons I loved as a kid always made the point that the spirit exists not in toys or ornaments, but in human hearts. This year, in the place of wisdom from Linus, it's Eric Weisbard fantasies involving pointed rebels. Perhaps like Reznor this holiday stuff is for children and anyone who says otherwise is just trying to make a sale.
Let's think of the children. "Brooklyn 2000" offers a number of events just for them, starting with the Heart of Brooklyn Laser Show, the day after Christmas. They're going to project shapes and colors on the side of the Brooklyn Public Library, and light up the arch in Grand Army Plaza. (12/26, 5 p.m., Flatbush Ave. at Prospect Park, Brooklyn, free.) The next day, a 50-year time capsule will be buried outside the Brooklyn Children's Museum. (12/27, 11 a.m., 145 Brooklyn Ave. at St. Marks Ave., 718-735-4400.) Then all day Tuesday, temporary "Brooklyn 2000" tattoos will be inked for free at participating Heart of Brooklyn institutions. (Call 718-230-2020 or check brooklyn2000.org for the list.)
Ballet Tech's "Papillon" was described by the Post as "an absolutely surefire charmer for kids." It's one of seven dance programs that make up Notcracker, an evening of choreography by Eliot Feld (plus Balanchine's "Tarantella") at the Joyce Theater. Also included are two of Feld's works set to music by Steve Reich ("Medium: Rare" and "Aurora I") and the kid-aimed "Simon Sez," which the Times claimed is "filled with contemporary urban energy." I guess they breakdance? (Through 1/2/2000, 175 8th Ave. at 19th St., 242-0800, $35.)
Hiphop youth might rather want to check out the latest underground show at S.O.B.'s, which has been hosting some hot ones lately. (Though the managers of that fine club would be wise to make sure their security people work at a reasonable pace?frisking one or two people every few minutes doesn't cut it! That's why gates get rushed, whut!) This one is a benefit for No More Prisons, which last I heard was a slogan some self-promoter was writing on sidewalks because he was selling something. Hopefully it has since morphed into an organization posing a meaningful challenge to the prison lobby, working to expose the folly of mandatory minimums (and Santa's on his way with my Knicks tickets). Who cares, because on the bill are Steele from Cocoa Brovas and Top Dog from O.G.C., plus the Polyrhythm Addicts?whose 1999 EP Rhyme Related is one of about a million quality rap releases Spin writers would've supported to combat asshole culture if they weren't actually a part of it. (12/23, 204 Varick St. at W. Houston St., 243-4940, $14, $12 in advance.)
The hard bulletin: For secular grownups, the only special thing about this week is the paucity of events not involving relatives. One option is the program of vegan health videos that will be screened by the Viva Veggie Society on Wednesday. Watch critters get crucified?that'll put the spirit in you. (12/22, 6:30 p.m., 150 5th Ave. at 20th St., 414-9100, $5 contrib.) Also funny in a discomfiting way is Cecil B. DeMille's 1923 silent version of The Ten Commandments?the rarely screened early blueprint for the most ridiculous movie ever made, by DeMille himself some 30 years later. (Thurs., 12/23, 6 p.m. & Fri., 12/24, 1 p.m., at MOMA, 11 W. 53rd St., betw. 5th & 6th Aves., 708-9400, $10, $6.50 st./s.c.)
But okay, if you're on board for the whole Messiah thing, take note of some of the lovely choral sings planned for this week: The National Choral Council's 32nd-annual Handel's Messiah sing-in is Wednesday at Avery Fisher Hall. (12/22, 8 p.m., 10 Lincoln Center, B'way at 64th St., 333-5333, $21-$70.) Thursday afternoon, lovely St. Francis of Assisi Church?the greatest architectural wonder of the garment district?hosts A Fool's Mass, a play about some village idiots during the plague years, described in a press release as "a work which travels from the ridiculous to the sublime?full of buffoonery and comic audience participation? along with the choral singing of sacred hymns and chants..." (12/23, 1:15 p.m., 135 W. 31st St., betw. 6th & 7th Aves., 967-9157, free.) And Thursday night, Carnegie Hall hosts what's shaping up to be a truly humongous performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, featuring the All Japan Society and the Kansai Youth Symphony (the Japanese are seriously into the Ninth?it's why CDs are the length they are). It'll also mark the 10th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein conducting that joyous masterpiece in Berlin to celebrate the fall of the Wall. (12/23, 8 p.m., 154 W. 57th St. at 7th Ave., 247-7800, $20-$30.)
The 92nd St. Y has put together a nice little escape-from-Christmas package. It starts with a pre-Shabbat tour of the only place in New York where Christmas doesn't exist: Hasidic Borough Park. (12/24, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 996-1100 for reservations, $30 incl. lunch.) Then on Saturday they host post-Shabbat dinner at Ratner's, followed by a klezmer concert at Henry St. Settlement Playhouse. (12/25, 7-11 p.m., same number for reservations, $85 incl. dinner.)
Here's to the week after next, when the godless and aging finally quit fronting like they're neither.