Update: Since the time of writing, Bobby Brewers’ has begun showing *ahem* up-to-date films.
Backpackers in Saigon have been packing Bobby Brewers‘ movie theater for years, but Vietnam’s lax copyright laws have tightened and put a stranglehold on this staple of the Bui Vien lifestyle.
Alas, at least for the time being, there shall be no more bootleg movies at Bobby Brewers’ Bui Vien outpost.
Two weeks ago, Bobby Brewers retracted its ubiquitous movie flyers mid-week. Since then, the cafe’s theater has been screening stale flicks like Click, Terminator 3 and (I kid you not) Power Rangers. Gone are the recently released bootleg flicks; even the big three Southeast Asia screen gems — Good Morning Vietnam, The Killing Fields and The Quiet American — have been cut.
A call to Bobby Brewers’ home office confirmed that the company has put the kibash on its speakeasy theater for legal reasons. Unsurprising — with four new franchise locations in the works and its charitable work gaining more recognition, the company needs to put forward a more legitimate face.
It’s tough to complain about 33 cent beer here in Ho Chi Minh City, but lately my mind’s been wandering back to $5 whiskey shot ‘n’ Pabst specials at Sound Fix Records. Sitting in plastic kindergarten chairs, drinking something that manages to taste worse than Pabst, I long for the cozy respite of Sound Fix’s performance space, with its wainscoting and walls pressed with fleur-de-lis. But most of all, I miss the free indy shows in that little vintage den. The impressive cache of song samples at www.soundfixrecords.com allows you to preview the night’s line up. And mercifully, Sound Fix is located just around the corner from the Bedford station, the first stop in Brooklyn on the L train, soothing for those from the island whose gut reaction might be, “Uuuugh…Williamsburg?”
Here in Saigon, I still stop in to sample soundfixrecords.com’s top sellers list and search for untold gems. Lately, I’ve been wading through the the synthy nu-gaze ether of M83‘s “Saturday’s = Youth” and tapping my toe to Tokyo Police Club‘s pendulum-steady pop beats on “Elephant Shell”.
When you’re looking for a cheap night after a crap day at work in New York, there’s nothing worse than cracking open a free stuff guide and finding listings like Central Park and Times Square. Lucky for New Yorkers, there’s freenyc.net.
Despite discovering this gem just months before leaving Gotham, I had time to swing by a Der Bilderklub opening at Gallery Hanahou, where I picked up a pair of original prints for $14 each. And there was the gratis Kimya Dawson session at Sound Fix Records that FreeNYC tipped me off to (Bonus Info: stay tuned to Sound Fix’s website for frequent free shows).
Yesterday’s listings included a free film-screening of Run, Fatboy, Run with director David Schwimmer, a pool party at Hotel QT with free vodka, a film festival featuring Three Soldiers, live flamenco at Luca Bar, open vodka bar burlesque and live music at Crash Mansion, and a genre-spanning History of Hip Hop party at APT.
Granted, events sometimes demand a predilection towards weeknight drinking and a willingness to venture beyond the Bedford stop on the L line, but the listings are typically more offbeat and more frequently feature genuinely worthwhile cultural events than your average free stuff hub. For best results, sign up for the daily email blast and check the website around noon — new events are sometimes added mid-day.
One of my biggest post-departure regrets: never making it to the Ziggy Stardust-themed, free-Vodka-fueled Rebel Rebel dance party at Lit Lounge.
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