The Best Things Flavorwire Staffers Did in New York This Year

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As another year comes to a close, like everyone else on the Internet, we’ve compiled lists of our favorite films and books and albums. But in an office full of New Yorkers who spend so much time enjoying — and participating in — the cultural life of our city, we would be remiss not to look back on what we actually went out and did this year. Below you’ll find Flavorwire staffers’ favorite NY cultural experiences of 2012, from theater to art to live music to cinema; tell us about yours in the comments.

This summer, I saw Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Into The Woods, and it was worth every minute of waiting in the rain. I’m a die-hard fan of the show, and was pleased as punch with the production — the set was beyond incredible, the towering, briar-filled magical kingdom I always knew was hiding somewhere in Central Park, and the performances (Amy Adams!) were to die for — under a giant’s foot or no. Plus, the vibe in a scene where everyone’s camped out to get tickets for a fairy tale mashup musical? Pretty Prince Charming. — Emily Temple

“At risk of sounding like a guy who only goes out to go to the movies (which is semi-true), I really dig Lincoln Center’s new Midnight Movie series. Early this summer, I had the opportunity to see the uproarious crowdsourced shot-by-shot Star Wars remake, Star Wars Uncut, on the big screen with a theater full of rowdy geeks — it was a blast. They also screened Richard Pryor: Live in Concert this summer, which was kind of an astonishing experience; Pryor stopped doing stand-up before I was old enough to know his work in that form, so I’ve always just watched his concert films and listened to his albums alone or with friends. The chance to see this film, which captures him at the height of his powers, with an audience of strangers was probably as close as I’ll ever get to the experience of seeing the greatest stand-up comic of all time ‘live.'” — Jason Bailey

The Quay Brothers at MoMA

I had an opportunity to see some of the Quay Brothers’ film sets before and had been dreaming about them ever since. The exhibit and film retrospective at MoMA, On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets, was entrancing. I liked seeing their mythic evolution. — Alison Nastasi

The Quay Brothers retrospective at MoMA: The artistic story of the brothers Quay has to be seen to be believed. Dark, fragile, beautifully macabre and delightfully surreal, this survey of their video, puppet, film and dioramic work is powerfully unique and special. And The Whale: This play by young talent Samuel Hunter focuses on a morbidly obese man, who is revisiting his past and he recognizes how very little future he has left. Smart, tragic and moving, it effortlessly grapples with the very real and imagined psychological heft of a life barely lived. A star-making turn by star Shuler Hensley made it a can’t-miss theatrical experience.” — Lauren Epstein

Tom Hawking and David Lynch

“The single best thing I did in New York this year was slog uptown to Tilton Gallery for the opening of David Lynch’s art exhibition, sneak past the giant queue, and then hang around for an hour sipping free champagne and quietly ignoring the curators’ polite requests to start moving toward the door. It was the single best thing I did because, honestly, I’m not usually given to celebrity-stalking and gawping fanboyism and getting pictures with people, but this was TOTALLY WORTH IT.” — Tom Hawking

“Seeing Zola Jesus play the Guggenheim was pretty epic. I also enjoyed drinking at Weather Up in Prospect Heights and The Drink in Wiliamsburg.” — Jason Diamond

Mies Julie at St. Ann’s Warehouse

“Seeing Mies Julie at St. Ann’s was the best thing I did in New York this year. It was a daring, important piece of theater — it was great to leave the show in a state of shock in inspiration.” — Patrick Leterii

“Maybe it’s just that it’s fresh in my mind, but last week I saw Leonard Cohen at Madison Square Garden and was absolutely floored. He’s been one of my favorite musicians since high school, and I’d never had a chance to see him live before. At 78 years old, he performed for three and a half hours — a set that included powerful renditions of ‘Take This Waltz,’ ‘Famous Blue Raincoat,’ ‘First We Take Manhattan,’ and a few selections from his excellent new album, Old Ideas, among others — and publicly thanked everyone in his band, sound team, and tech crew in detail. He also totally reclaimed ‘Hallelujah.'” — Judy Berman

“I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan, but I really wasn’t emotionally prepared for the impact Moonrise Kingdom had on me — I was thinking it would be the usual quirky, beautiful story that I’ve come to expect and love, but for some reason this was different. It really affected me — the imagery, the characters, the music — and then the ending? Jeez. I was in tears, and I’m still not sure if they were of sadness or joy with the realization that both my childhood is really, really totally over, but also that getting in touch with one’s inner child is really only a memory or two away.” — Kim Gardner

PigPen Theatre’s The Old Man and the Old Moon

PigPen’s The Old Man and the Old Moon is something truly incredible. You feel like you’re on a voyage with a group of best friends as you’re transported to scenes and places beyond imagination. The group of 7 guys who started the theater group Pigpen are uniquely gifted and not only share an unforgettable story, but also serenade you with a soundtrack full of heart and whimsy.” — Gabby Filasky

Then She Fell: By now everyone knows Sleep No More, which has gone from being a word-of-mouth immersive theatrical experience to a plot point on Gossip Girl. Into that world, Third Rail Productions birthed Then She Fell, an interpretation of Alice in Wonderland that’s shockingly intimate and incredibly moving. Only 15 people can attend each show, and the plotting, pacing and blocking of maneuvering from scene to scene, often performed for only one person, baffles the mind. The performances are striking and I found myself tearing up on more than one occasion. At the end of the night, sitting with my goodnight token and my final drink (there are drinks and food given to you by characters throughout), I realized I hadn’t been that emotionally impacted by a performance by anyone, in any medium, in a long time.” — Russ Marshalek

“I’m a recent transplant to the city, so seeing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade up close as they deflated the balloons was the coolest!” — Christina Walsh

Fiona Apple at Terminal 5. I had missed her sold-out shows in NYC earlier in the year, so I made sure to grab tickets when I heard she was coming back through town to promote The Idler Wheel…, this fall. I’m a longtime fan, but I’d never seen her perform live before. She was incredible — if a bit short on stage banter — and she played all of the songs from earlier in her career that I love dearly (“Paper Bag,” “Shadowboxer,” “Anything We Want,” and “Extraordinary Machine”). It was like being transported back to high school, but in a good way. Judging by the big, goofy grins on the faces of the majority of the crowd, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone.” — Caroline Stanley

Yayoi Kusama in her Fireflies in the Water installation

“I have two: 1. Yayoi Kusama’s Fireflies on the Water at the Whitney. The installation allows you to be closed in a room by yourself and in complete silence in one of NYC best museums — it’s rare you even get that sort of experience in New York. On top of that, it’s one of the most visually striking “interactive” art installations I’ve seen in a while that invites people to transcend their sense of self. You’re constantly trying to locate yourself, but it’s impossible to do so. And as with all her works of dots and waves, you lose yourself her art. 2. Christian Marclay’s The Clock (at Lincoln Center), a 24-hour montage of thousands of film and television clips with glimpses of clocks, watches, and snatches of people saying what time it is. This incredible installation is set up so that whatever time is shown is, in fact, the correct time as of that instant. The amazing thing about it is that after watching it for an hour or so, you completely forget that the movie is constantly referencing the time and you truly start to appreciate Marclay’s mosaic of scenes.” — Patricia Malfitano