On this week’s agenda: thought-provoking video art, an all-food market, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Greil Marcus, and Mamma Mia! on Broadway. As always, check Groupon for even more great things to do in New York City. Nam June Paik: Becoming Robot Upper East Side | Opens Friday, September 5 Sure, you could go see the Matisse cut-outs at the Museum of Modern Art, but for an art exhibit that's colorful and relevant to modern concerns, look no further than the Asia Society Museum. Considered the father of video art, the late Nam June Paik was fascinated by the manipulative power of technology. As funny as they are thought-provoking, his artworks on display here include a TV you can sit on to be reminded of the shrinking gap between human and machine. (725 Park Ave.; $7–$12) Smorgasburg Williamsburg | Saturday, September 6, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you haven't visited Smorgasburg yet this summer, do yourself a favor and plan a trip to East River State Park on Saturday. This all-food pop-up market features 100 vendors from across the boroughs, all converging on the Williamsburg waterfront to dole out packaged and prepared treats. (Kent Ave. and N. 7th St.; free) Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at Madison Square Garden Midtown Manhattan | Wednesday, September 10, 7:30 p.m. The World's Most Famous Arena will host one of America's most enduring rock bands when Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers roll into town with special guest Steve Winwood. The band's latest studio album, Hypnotic Eye, marks a return to their rollicking '60s form, and the bluesy guitar riffs in tunes like ''Fault Lines'' and ''Power Drunk'' sound like they were written to rock the rafters at MSG. (4 Pennsylvania Plaza; $56–$137; buy tickets here) Greil Marcus and Sasha Frere-Jones Talk Rock 'n' Roll Clinton Hill | Wednesday, September 10, 7:30 p.m. Greil Marcus is considered by many to be the founder of modern rock criticism, and Sasha Frere-Jones is one of the many writers who have benefitted from his influence. Frere-Jones, who writes for the New Yorker, will sit down with Marcus at St. Joseph's College on Wednesday to discuss the latter's new book, The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs. The price of admission includes a copy of the book, which attendees can have signed after the discussion. (245 Clinton Ave.; $25; buy tickets here) Mamma Mia! at Broadhurst Theatre Theater District | Through Saturday, September 13 A lighthearted romp of a musical, Mamma Mia! chronicles a daughter's quest to find her true father before her wedding day. It all happens to the sparkling sounds of ABBA, the Swedish pop group behind such hits as ''Dancing Queen,'' ''Knowing Me, Knowing You,'' ''The Winner Takes It All,'' and of course, the title track. (235 W. 44th St.; $49; buy tickets here)Read More
Brooklyn People's Pottery
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Brooklyn People's Pottery
From unicyclists and silly dances to futuristic light suits, this week’s list of things to do is high on whimsy, low on adult responsibilities. Enjoy these five excuses to put off your chores, and as always, check Groupon for more great things to do in New York City. NYC Unicycle Festival Governors Island | Saturday, August 30, and Sunday, August 31 Circus performers, inventors, and other fans of mono-wheeled transport roll over to Governors Island for this whimsical two-day celebration of all things unicycle. Visitors can test their skills in relay races and rounds of unicycle basketball, hockey, and sumo wrestling, or watch world-class performers’ daredevil moves. If you’re not used to balancing on one wheel, no worries—lessons for first-timers will be available throughout the day. (Noon to early evening; free) Silly Dance Contest Rockaways | Saturday, August 30 Goofily costumed revelers shake off self-consciousness during the Silly Dance Contest, a Rockaway Beach Surf Club–hosted competition that rewards guests’ arm-flailing-est, booty-shaking-est moves. After three 20- to 30-minute rounds and a climactic final dance-off, the winner gets a $50 bar tab, second place gets a $25 bar tab, and everyone else gets that feeling of lightness that comes with not taking yourself too seriously. (302 Beach 87th St., Queens; sign-up at 6 p.m., dancing at 6:30 p.m.; $5 cover) The Williamsburg Spelling Bee Williamsburg | Monday, September 1 New York’s only adult spelling bee brings word-lovers to Pete’s Candy Store once a month to test their word-ly knowledge. Sign-up begins at 7 p.m., and the first 15 get to play; spectators toast correct spellings of “autochthonous” with beer and other grownup beverages. Bee founder Bobbyblue and comedian Jen Dziura host. (709 Lorimer St., Brooklyn; 7:30 p.m.; free) DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist – Renegades of Rhythm Union Square | Thursday, September 4, and Friday, September 5 Turntablists DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist celebrate the legacy of hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa as only music nerds know how—by rooting through his vinyl collection. Their show at Irving Plaza will set Bambaataa’s favorite records spinning on six turntables; light and video effects add visual interest as the two DJs mix and meld their sounds. (17 Irving Place; $47–$101.50; buy tickets for Thursday here and Friday here) iLuminate: Artist of Light Midtown | Through January 4, 2015 The best dance show in the city might be one that takes place in total darkness. After blowing away judges on America’s Got Talent, the dancers of iLuminate don their high-tech light suits again for this performance at New World Stages. As dancers perform moves in styles from Latin dance to hip-hop, the LEDs embedded in their all-black clothing transform them into fanciful creatures, from friendly robots to multi-limbed spiders. (340 W. 50th St.; shows daily except Tuesdays; tickets $45 through GrouponLive) Photo of NYC Unicycle Festival courtesy of Keith Nelson. Photo of Williamsburg Spelling Bee by Deneka Peniston.Read More
Biking is a great and safe way to see New York City—no, seriously! In the past decade, the city has seen a surge in the number of cyclists rolling through its streets. Dedicated bike lanes now connect many parts of the city, making it possible to ride without having to do battle with Manhattan traffic. The leisure ride described below—or any part of it, depending on what you’re up for—takes riders along both sides of the East River, and can easily be done in one weekend afternoon: the whole route takes about 50 minutes. It’s all on bike paths or lanes, and best of all, it takes you right to some of Long Island City’s cultural gems, all without having to wait on a single subterranean subway platform while the sun shines without you. Hug the shoreline on your way to Wards Island This ride starts from the quiet and scenic neighborhood of Yorkville—that northeast slice of the Upper East Side that prides itself on not being the Upper East Side. You’ll be zipping along the riverside promenade for pedestrians and cyclists that extends all along the east side of Manhattan. Starting on the stretch of promenade that goes through Carl Schurz Park, ride north past Gracie Mansion until you get to the Wards Island Bridge at 103rd Street. Twice along this route, you’ll have to lug your sweet ride up or down a flight of stairs—but luckily, they’ve installed these neat bicycle rails so you can just push your bicycle up without having to carry it. Once you cross over to Wards Island, you’ll ride pretty on wide asphalt paths surrounded by lots of gardens and greenery. Savor the scenery as you proceed on your way to the next and last bridge. Wards Island Bridge as seen from Wards Island. Huff and puff your way up the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge The Robert F. Kennedy Bridge is admittedly unscenic when compared to the now-defunct Hell Gate Bridge right beside it. It is also the most challenging part of the trip. The ramp up to the bridge is a good five-minute uphill ride (enough to induce red-faced panting from me), and it’s a bit noisy, though the path is safe and separated from all car traffic. Technically, you are required to walk your bike on all parts of the bridge, though this seems to be a widely disregarded rule. But your struggle will be rewarded—after the uphill climb, it’s a leisurely stroll or roll down on the other side. Hell Gate Bridge. Absorb some art at Socrates Sculpture Park Your first stop in Long Island City, Queens, is Socrates Sculpture Park, open every day from 10 a.m. to sunset. The sculptural works on view change regularly, there’s free yoga and tai chi every weekend, and it offers a beautiful view of Manhattan. If you want a break from the sun, skip this park and head to the Noguchi Museum just across the road (admission is $10). You’ll find a sculpture collection inside, as well as a sculpture garden in the courtyard and a cute café. A sculpture at the Noguchi museum. Treat yourself to street food at the LIC Flea You’ve probably worked up an appetite by now with all this physical activity and appreciation of culture, so cruise down the Vernon Boulevard bike path to the food tents at the Long Island City Flea. Vendors there offer the cross-cultural foods that are the hallmark of so many Brooklyn outdoor events, such as burgers, dumplings, empanadas, salads, and lemonades. If you’re in the mood to shop, there’s also antiques, artwork, clothing, and knickknacks aplenty on sale, with what seems to me like better prices than flea markets you’ll find in the “hipper” borough to the south. Eclectic food options at the Long Island City Flea. Photo courtesy of the Long Island City Flea. Relax with scenic views in Hunter’s Point South Park After the LIC Flea, head south along the water or bike paths to one of the city’s newest parks, an industrial site turned landscaping beauty called Hunter’s Point South Park. Built last year, the park is one of the upshots of the gentrification of Long Island City, with sleek landscaping, weirdly fancy public bathrooms, and a beautiful view of the city (as the stunning photos on the architects’ website show). A wide, smooth path leads across the park’s sprawling lawns toward piers packed with park benches from the future, perfectly designed for an intrepid cyclist to take a well-deserved break. A view of Long Island City from Hunter's Point South Park. Choose your own bike adventure From here, you have a few options to finish out your day: If you haven’t had enough culture, head to MoMA PS1, a few minutes’ ride northeast. It’s a must-see, $5-admission museum housing MoMA’s contemporary collection. (Note, though, that on Saturdays until September 6, the museum closes its galleries and instead hosts concerts in its courtyard that cost $20.) Ride over the Pulaski Bridge to Williamsburg’s many restaurants and bars (don’t drink and ride—remember bikes are allowed on the MTA). Head home, knowing you’ve made the most of one of our last summer days this year. Check Groupon for more great things to do in New York City. Photos by Kasia Mychajlowycz unless otherwise noted.Read More
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