Text by Chris Heuberger
Photos by Cody Swanson, Ashley Marie Quinn, Joe Gillette and probably other people
There is an event in Bushwick that combines learning, community, conversation and drinking in magnificent fashion. That event is Presentation Party Night and it just celebrated it’s one year anniversary.
PPN—as it’s loyalists lovingly refer to it—is a free lecture and beer series held on the third Sunday of every month at 7pm, usually in an apartment on Jefferson Street. It’s potluck style food and BYOB with donations encouraged for a group beer fund. The evening consists of six 10-minute presentations on whatever topic the presenters choose (be it nerdy, bizarre or both) followed by a question and answer period.
And that Q+A is where the fun really begins.
Because that’s when a group discussion takes off where people engage, ask questions, shout their opinions and spark intense debates and hilarious conversations.
At the most recent PPN—aside from the amazing food—there was history, there was art, there was jokes, there was absurdist fiction, there was “adventures with silicone” and the last presentation was on the past, present and future of PPN itself.
Begun by Dan Dreke with assists from Drew Weigel, Joe Gillette and many others, PPN has grown over it’s inaugural year into one of those consistently fun and unpredictable happenings.
There is a core group of friends and acquaintances that show up each month as well as various newcomers that may only attend once but always make for a great crowd. The variety of topics also keep the energy going throughout the night. Sometimes a theme emerges, sometimes a party does.
One of the best things about it is you never know what you’ll learn. Some of my personal favorite topics from past PPNs include “The Upside of Pessimism,” “How to Hit It, Quit It, and Split It (Like You Never Did It),” “The Life and Work of Alexander McQueen,” “How to Survive the Apocalypse,” “A History of Video Game Storytelling,” “The Two Sides of L. Ron Hubbard,” “Kennings,” “Neurobiology of Opiate Tolerance,” “Who Let ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ Out: Intellectual Property Rights,” “Taxonomic Creeperisms” and everyone’s holiday favorite, “The Christmas Krampus.”
I am friends with the group who runs this excellent affair and have presented twice myself (Decision Making and Carrie Nation) and along the way, I’ve discovered a few things:
1. Anyone can present. Everyone is an expert on something—some random topic—that they are passionate about. And that’s all it takes to give a good presentation. And failing that, Wikipedia works too.
2. Don’t force it or over think it. What do you love? Obscure sports? Guerilla knitting? Arrow’s Impossibility Theorum? Do it. Don’t worry if you think no one is interested. They will be. People will respond. Add jokes and people will laugh. Enthusiasm is all that matters.
3. Don’t even worry about taking up 10 minutes. Some of the best presentations are really more like propositions. The crowd will then take over and the discussion/debate that ensues is where the real wisdom emerges. That’s why a good presenter—like a good artist or philosopher or scientist—is simply one that knows how to ask the right questions.
And PPN is always in need of new presenters as well as potential spaces to hold the event. So if you think you have an idea, give ’em a shout. And if you deicide to stop by, I’m sure you’ll agree with the hope that this thing lasts well into the future.