arts 12.22.05

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theater…Character assassinations, ego exposés, and wicked parodies (and "Wicked" parodies) of Broadway shows have made Gerard Alessandrini's Forbidden Broadway, 304 W. 47th [8th/9th] 212.239.6262, a New York institution. Take your out-of-town guests — they'll get the gist of it. And even for those with only a passing interest in Broadway, somehow these shows are always a bliss-out.

seasonal beer…We always look forward to the Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale, a brew that changes annually. They don't call it a porter, but that's essentially this year's style — dark, rich, with notes of caramel and spice.

shopping…No one makes us laugh like the British comedy duo French and Saunders. Their Back With a Vengeance DVD is the stocking stuffer we'd most like to get — if we hadn't already watched it over and over.

art… At Pierogi 2000 on New Year's Eve, an exhibition opens called "Dewanatron," which is also the name of the team that makes unique electronic musical instruments. In addition to the sound-making creations on the walls, look for the Swarmatron, the Dual Primate Console, and the Coin-Op Melody Gin.

r & b…You can ring in the New Year with the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, at B. B. King's. Two shows, 8pm and 10:30pm. Expect the hardest working man in showbiz to start off 2006 with a joyful noise.

documentary…At one time, there were 160,000 Jews living in Baghdad; there are now 22. The story is told in The Last Jews of Baghdad at Makor, 35 W. 67th [CPW/Col] 212.415.5500, 12/27-12/29, 7pm each night.

andBrandenburg Concerti at St. Bart's on New Year's Eve…On New Year's Day, the Poetry Project 32nd Annual Marathon Reading at St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery…Plus: Christmas in NY, Paris and LondonVolunteeringFashion in Colors.

west forty-second street

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