The Smart Set: Lauren Cerand’s weekly events

The Smart Set is a weekly feature, compiled by Lauren Cerand, that appears Mondays and highlights the best of the week to come. Special favor is given to New York’s independent booksellers and venues, and low-cost and free events. Please submit details to by the Thursday prior to publication, with the date of the event in the subject line.

MONDAY, 12.26: “Filmmaker Grace Lee suspects that her name is unusually common among Asian-American women. But why do people assume Grace Lee denotes a svelte, dutiful, piano-playing bookworm rather than the great variety of modern women who actually answer to the name — including one who tried to burn down her high school! The Grace Lee Project takes a small kernel of truth (what’s in a name?) and spins it into a delightful, lighthearted look at stereotypes of Asian women.” At Film Forum through December 27.

TUESDAY, 12.27: Makor screens the documentary The Last Jews of Baghdad, which explores the cultural life of the city’s Jewish population, diminished from a height of 160,000 to now just 22. 7:00pm, $9.

WEDNESDAY, 12.28: Stephen Sondheim recommends Henry Fool, screening at the Museum of Modern Art as part of its “Artist’s Choice” series, commenting that, “It’s genuinely mysterious, and one of those rare films that feels greater than the sum of its parts.” 8:15pm, $10. Also, “What’s The Word Wednesdays features “talented poets from around the way to around the world” at The Sugar Shack in Harlem. “General admission $5; poets $2”. Additionally, “activist, artist, writer, and educator Beverly Naidus discusses the history and power of art for social change” with a slideshow and talk at Bluestockings. 7:00pm, $5-10 suggested.

THURSDAY, 12.29: The Bowery Poetry Club presents the Urbana Reading Series, hosted by slam poet Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz. Noted, “Even though this quirky and eccentric slam series has featured some of the biggest names in poetry it remains a warm and welcoming venue for all kinds of poetic voices: political, confessional, musical, and spiritual. The series has won the national poetry slam championship a record THREE TIMES.” 7:15pm, $5.

FRIDAY, 12:30: Patti Smith & her band perform at Bowery Ballroom. 8:00pm, $40 (There is also a New Year’s Eve show on Saturday evening; 9:00pm; $55). Also, at the International Center of Photography, Che! Revolution and Commerce explores the iconic portrait that is “claimed to be the most widely reproduced image in the history of photography.” e.g. lately, Che Doctorow. The museum’s hours on Friday are 10:00am – 8:00pm; $10.

SATURDAY, 12.31: I like the idea of spending New Year’s Eve at home with close friends. However, watching the ridiculous “Making of” videos (!) behind Karl Lagerfeld’s ad campaign at may be just as fun. If you’re keen to go out, the most intriguing option I’ve seen yet [via Sunday Salon]: “Put a feather in your fedora for STAIN’s 2nd annual END OF PROHIBITION CIRCA 1933 themed New Year’s Eve bash. Featuring Brooklyn Brewery giveaways, costume prizes (think: Roosevelts, Dick & Jane books, Snow White, bankers jumping out of buildings, golden age of film stars, more), there’ll be a ball of some sort dropping, swinging jazz soundtrack, screening of original KINGKONG movie, drink specials, shenanigans, sparkling wine. And best of all, no cover!!” Highly recommended. 8:00pm.

SUNDAY, 1.1: The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church hosts its 32nd Annual New Year’s Day Marathon Reading, featuring “poetry, performance, dance, music and multimedia, with over 130 performers and readers…” 3:00pm, $8.


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.