Unsolicited Endorsements XXXIV

Because sometimes you just want friends to tell you about cool things… the Brew House team offers up its weekly mix of author-supported goodness.

Travel Series: “Up to Speed” with Speed Levitch

This is Speed Levitch, philosopher tour guide. Levitch first came on my radar about six years ago, when my brother rented “The Cruise”, the 1998 documentary that catalogued Levitch’s life as an eccentric tour-guide dude in New York City. Levitch’s persona is unforgettable — his nasally aphorisms leaving a mark in some bizarre, poetic fashion.

Here’s what I didn’t know six years ago. Levitch has Kansas City roots. 

I’m not sure how deep they go, but I know he moved back to Kansas City around 2007. (My brother once told me he hung out with him on the Plaza for a night.) These days, Levitch is starring in an original travel series on Hulu, a creation of Richard Linklater, the man behind “Dazed and Confused” and “Before Sunrise” and a whole bunch of more mainstream films. The latest episode is called “Kansas & Missouri: The middle of the middle of the Midwest”. And it’s definitely worth a few minutes. — Rustin Dodd 


Movie: American Pie

American Pie is one of my favorite movies of all time. I don’t consider it in the same genre as high school movies like “She’s All That” and “Varsity Blues,” or the raunchy comedies like “Porkies” or “Van Wilder.” I consider it to be a coming-of-age movie, the best genre there is.

Jim is the perfect character. He’s awkward, but he’s not a total outcast. He’s normal. He has a great group of friends and has fun, but his life is far from perfect. In the first movie, he has trouble with the ladies, as do all of his friends. They encounter problems and tackle their mission to get laid by any means possible. Jim, of course, practices with a pie and then fails live on the Internet. Hopefully most of us cannot SPECIFICALLY relate to these measures, but we can relate to setting a goal and trying to reach it with the help of our good friends.

In movies that grew progressively worse but never completely sucked, we went with the cast to college and then on to Jim’s wedding. Several years later, earlier in 2012, “American Reunion” came out, obviously a movie about their high school reunion.

Somehow the movie works. It’s honestly not that funny, resorting to its fair share of toilet humor and implausible scenes that involve teenagers and mothers and dancing and car sex. But we at least feel part of those inside jokes because we know the cast so well. I even enjoyed Chris Klein, the least emotive person in history.

Through Klein, Jason Biggs (Jim) and the others we get see how they all grew up into real adults with wives and kids, to see how they are having their own problems yet trying to find happiness. I’m clearly a few years away from this stage of life, but, like it always has, this “American Pie” movie has offered an entertaining, crudely-thoughtful primer. — Mark Dent


Blog – Chris Arnade Photography

Chris Arnade’s Tumblr is more than a photography blog. The part-time Wall Streeter, part-time New York Times-featured photographer has expanded his online presence from Flickr to Tumblr, posting increasingly detailed descriptions of his subjects and settings. Arnade, a resident of affluent Brooklyn Heights, shoots photos of street scenes, citizens and communities in some of New York City’s less-tony neighborhoods, including Hunts Point (Bronx) and Brownsville (Brooklyn).

His images focus on both the bad and the good of the people and places he features – the sex trade, block parties, addiction and jubilation all make appearances – and provides an honest, unflinching look at life in the large swaths of New York City to which mainstream media pay little attention. – Asher Fusco



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