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Witness the Fitness: A Jogging Tour of Bushwick

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Artist Alaina Stamatis has long dazzled us with her daft wordplay and contextual cleverness (as in the horoscope section of Showpaper) as well as her astute, deadpan live executions (like Evil Yoga). So we were psyched for yesterday's "Witness the Fitness" (subtitle: "1-Day Alaina Stamatis Gym Membership for a Runner's Higher Understanding") billed as a "historically-jarring jogging tour of Bushwick with some singing, lead by a violently panting Alaina Stamatis." The tour was centered at a new Bushwick gallery that opened in October called Fitness. Not all of their shows are fitness-related, but Stamatis's event was part of a two-week series called "Daytime Programming: Marathon Performances," a "long-form dare to local performance artists to be more athletic" organized by the gallery and featuring a different artist each day.

When we arrived at the gallery for the scheduled tour, several people were hanging out, including children of various ages who turned out to be the heirs to the neighboring flower shop. The gallery featured an installation of pennant strings, Xeroxed maps and photos, assorted books, Gatorade, custom-printed M&Ms, and a YouTube karaoke setup (this is what drew the youngsters, who were amazing at Ke$ha).

Soon, it was time for action, and a camouflage-clad Stamatis, as promised, led a small group of followers on an insightful tour by the decades through Bushwick's past. Collectively we jogged, listened, and stopped for stretch-breaks. One guy rolled a cigarette. A girl tripped on broken glass. Cars honked, pedestrians seemed confused.

Fact-filled stops included Brewers' Row (where 14 breweries operated in a 14-block area, c. 1890), the Opera House Lofts, the Mr. Kiwi Deli (where we ventured into the basement to hunt relics from a previous business venture), the Market Hotel (named for a So So Glos song, but in the late 19th century a real hotel), the All Eyes On Egypt bookstore (many sordid revelations here), and finally, the Cedar Street House.

Back at home base, the event concluded with a "cool-down lap" of Pernod and a performance by Stamatis's band The Jazz Massagers, a spoken-word jazz ensemble and witty project in its own right, as curious onlookers peered in through the storefront window.

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The "Marathon Performance" series continues at Fitness through December 23rd.





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