I’ve been a huge fan of Julia Wertz since her illustriously named THE FART PARTY webcomic days. She’s been extremely honest and forthright about her life but always with a cavalier, comedic edge. (She supplies the best sort of comedy: the kind that makes you laugh but also wince.)

While Wertz is amazing at personal and often cutting cartoons, she’s astounding at drawing architecture and landmarks. She’s brilliant that way: knowing when something should be mostly undefined, but supremely capable of finely detailing works she appreciates and loves.

TENEMENTS, TOWERS & TRASH is her visual recounting of New York City, the New York City she’s witnessed and watched change. I took a copy of it with me the last time I visited NYC, because I wanted to seek out some of these haunts, despite the fact that more than a few I’d already been to, and while I didn’t get to nearly half the places I would have liked to, it was a comforting work to have with me, despite how bulky it was!

It’s a very personal take on an often overwhelming locale, and comics/graphic novels/illustrated works/etc. such as hers are the best tour guide you’ll get, at least apart from a long-lived local.

You can purchase it via any of the links featured here.

It’s worth noting that Wertz has a new work out: IMPOSSIBLE PEOPLE: A COMPLETELY AVERAGE RECOVERY STORY. I’m sure I’ll be writing about it soon and am positive it’s worth your time!


(HBO MAX/VOD) THE CHRIS GETHARD SHOW was a comedy/variety show from UCB comedian and podcaster Chris Gethard (best known for BEAUTIFUL STORIES FROM ANONYMOUS PEOPLE) that started on Manhattan public television, then leapt to Fusion TV, then truTV picked it up and, after a year, they unceremoniously canceled the show.

Gethard spearheaded this anarchic, supremely kindhearted show whose closest comparison is probably PEE-WEE’S PLAYHOUSE because of its endearing cast of wacky characters and overall earnestness.

I came to the show late and never saw any of the public TV eps, but it quickly became appointment television. The best introduction is probably -One Man’s Trash- (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nwi_kE0gy94 ) which features Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas guessing the content of the show’s dumpster. The reveal is amazing, and by far one of the best moments of TV in the past decade.

I’d be remiss to not mention that Shannon O’Neill is Gethard’s sidekick, and I believe she is legally required to play every non-leading film or TV production role in every TV show, as she’s basically played the same character on DIFFICULT PEOPLE, HIGH MAINTENANCE, UNCLE PECKERHEAD, -and- BLACK BEAR.

You can view the three Fusion/truTV seasons via HBO MAX because apparently there’s no rhyme or reason as to what streams anywhere now, but a bunch of the eps are available via Gethard’s YouTube account as well.


(YouTube) A pointed documentary on the gangs of the South Bronx in the 70s by Gary Weis (who at the time was working with Albert Brooks on filmed SNL bits), inspired by the Esquire feature SAVAGE SKULLS.

While Weis often uncomfortably inserts his privileged white, outsider self into the interview room with his subjects, he doesn’t edit out the folks that call him out on his motives, and he does make an effort to dig into the personalities of those embroiled in gang life. The end result is a number of strange profile pieces and re-enactments that feel like an ill-fitting but important portrait of 70s New York City.

Sadly, the doc has only had the barest of releases — it was shot to fill time during a SNL summer hiatus only to be scrapped by NBC execs, then used as an educational film for a bit, then had a limited DVD print run over ten years ago — but you can view it (albeit with abrupt commercial interruptions) here:


(Starz/VOD) A funny and surprisingly sweet quarter-century crisis film/rom-com that’s is well-calibrated for minds hungry for loads of smart quips.

Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan, BLOCKERS, MIRACLE WORKERS), a mid-20s pack rat with the habit of hanging onto keepsakes of her exes, is working towards her dream job as a gallery owner with her attractive and responsible boyfriend Max (Utkarsh Ambudkar, PITCH PERFECT) at a NYC museum run by her idol Eva Woolf (Bernadette Peters, who needs no introduction).

Within the span of one night, she loses both Max and her job and, in a drunk/depressed stupor, gets into what she thinks is her Lyft, but it’s just one dude who forgot to lock his passenger side door. The dude, Nick, takes pity on her and drives her home, and they start orbiting around each other. Lucy discovers that he’s trying to rehab an old YMCA into a hotel, and she takes the opportunity to set up a gallery inspired by her attempts to let go of her exes’ knickknacks, hence the title of the film.

This is writer/director Natalie Krinsky’s debut film, but she’s been writing for TV — including a long run on GOSSIP GIRL — for quite some time, and it shows. The heart of the film is the bluntly smart and rapid comedic patter of the dialogue, as opposed to flashy visuals or convoluted set pieces — although he film’s lighting is vibrantly under-lit, a rarity in rom-coms — and Krinsky couldn’t have hoped for a better lead for her script than Viswanathan. While Viswanathan has always stood out in every work she’s been involved in, her extremely expressive face and ability to turn on a dime pulls off a character that could come across as a bit too intense or creepy.

Viswanathan doesn’t have to solely carry the film on her shoulders either, as the supporting cast is ridiculously talented and fill out the film’s flavor: Lucy’s extremely supportive, but gloriously unique, roommates are HAMILTON’s Phillipa Soo (not a role I expected to see her in) and Molly Gordon (TNT’s ANIMAL KINGDOM and Hulu’s RAMY), and Arturo Castro (BROAD CITY, NARCOS) has a great rapport with Lucy as Nick’s friend. Even Nathan Dales (LETTERKENNY) pops up in a slightly gimmicky role!

While the breathless jokes, earnestness, and conventional story beats may turn some folks off, I couldn’t help but embrace it. In a genre full of paint-by-numbers comfort food mediocrity, it’s nice to see a rom-com add some verve and push the boundaries a bit, while remaining supremely entertaining.


(Netflix) Radha, a black woman living in NYC is on the verge of turning forty, re-evaluating her life as a struggling playwright, and contemplating revisiting her teen rapping aspirations.

I love a film that draws a full portrait of the protagonist immediately out of the gate and damn, the opening of this film deserves to be framed. Thankfully, the rest of the film spends its time spooling out everything that brought her to her current state, then explores how she’s trying to move forward.

Deftly shot, utilizing numerous inventive, but not gimmicky, techniques, it’s a visually sumptuous black-and-white film, but it’s the script that really shines. While the story beats are familiar, they’re very welcome, and Radha (Radha Blank, who also wrote/directed/produced VERSION) is exceptional at undercutting a scene, at penning rhymes, at acerbic comments, at maintaining a joke rate that you’d expect from a sitcom, and also finely timing the scenes. To say she’s the writerly equivalent of a triple-threat would do her on-screen performance and direction a disservice.


(Criterion/HBO MAX/kanopy)? The directorial debut of Susan Seidelman (DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, SHE-DEVIL) focuses on a woman trying to get by and create an image of herself in NYC. Also features punk impresario Richard Hall, if that’s your thing.