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GET SUMMER SCHOOLED

Now that the worst winter of all time is finally a distant memory (sort of), let’s rejoice under the sun and sing songs that make us nostalgic for those carefree days of our youth. Tonight’s Summer Jam Sing-Along promises an escape to the tackiest era of all: the ’90s, in which flannel, neon windbreakers, and chokers lived in harmony. For two whole hours (could you handle more?) sing along to music videos by Sugar Ray, 2Pac, Sublime, LEN, Third Eye Blind, and many more. Naturally there’s a dance-off, ’90s-themed giveaways, and a costume contest, so don’t forget your slap bracelet.

Fri., May 23, 9:30 p.m., 2014

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Class Action Listings 2010

Theater & Performing Arts

If your guitar gently weeps, perhaps you can cheer it up by enrolling in a class at the Brooklyn Guitar School in downtown Brooklyn. Courses range from “Guitar for Absolute Beginners” — wherein students learn tunes by R.E.M., Bob Marley, Third Eye Blind, Bob Dylan, and Guns ‘n’ Roses (can one pay extra not to learn Third Eye Blind?) — to “Advanced Adult Rock Band.” Occasional tutorials in the ukulele are also offered. brooklynguitarschool.com

Sure, you’re no one’s puppet, but why not learn how to build and manipulate some puppets of your own? In preparation for this spring’s Hudson River Pageant, Earth Celebrations is hosting a series of free puppet and costume workshops at the World Financial Center from March 3 through May 19, culminating in a parade to encourage the revitalization of the Hudson River. Students will learn to create and master “spectacular giant papier-mâché puppets.” earthcelebrations.com

You’ve pliéd your way through ballet class, pop-and-locked through hours of hip-hop, and stamped and shimmied through African dance. While Peridance offers all of the above (plus salsa, tap, jazz, modern, and theater dance) at its new home near Union Square, it also has a class to tempt the instep of even the most jaded hoofer: open-level samurai sword fighting. Students learn basic sword techniques such as “breathing, walking, gripping, swinging, stances” — then they fight! peridance.com

Fashion

Coco Chanel quipped, “Elegance does not consist in putting on a new dress.” But putting on a new dress is still a very fine thing, particularly if it is one you made yourself. Make Workshop founder Diana Rupp instructs students in the creation of a “girly go-to dress,” featuring darts, a lined bodice, and an invisible zipper. Other frequently offered fashion classes at this Lower East Side studio include “Tunic Dress,” “Flouncy Tank-Top,” and “Make a Skirt (Pencil or Naughty Secretary).” makeworkshop.com

Writing

It may well be a dark and stormy night when you enjoy your first session of “Murder You’ll Write,” an evening writing course at Marymount Manhattan College’s Office of Special Programs on the Upper East Side devoted to the art of the detective novel. Students will “create ingenious sleuths, weave intricate plots, drop subtle clues, and introduce suspicious characters.” Then they’ll have to solve the mystery of how to get published.

Lynyrd Skynyrd notwithstanding, Cobble Hill’s FreeBird Workshops believe that this bird can change. Leaders of these small classes think that a group environment and gentle advice can help stuck writers quit procrastinating and finish their story, play, novel, or memoir. All classes conclude with a publishing party, in which students submit their work to magazines and journals. freebirdworkshops.webs.com

Art & Architecture

Valentin Serov, Vasily Surikov, and Ilya Repin do not teach at the Bridgeview School of Fine Art (they’ve all been dead for a while), but they are the primary influences of this Long Island City school’s teachers, many of whom trained at the Russian Academy of Fine Arts. Classes include figure drawing, academic painting, portrait sculpture, and anatomy for artists. academicart.com

For the past 40 years, the Project of Living Artists, originally intended as an experiment in communal art making, has promised “no irritating and pompously dogmatic instruction, no proselytizing, no philosophical hogwash; simply … a place to draw.” Located in the Bushwick home of Joe Catuccio, the project maintains its commitment to life drawing by offering a class every Saturday of the year. newyorkartworld.com/gallery/projectlivingartists.html

Manhattan’s first buildings were not so impressive — a fort, a sawmill, a few houses. But in the 400 intervening years, we’ve achieved rather more flair in our structural design. Building enthusiasts might enjoy a Parsons course on the architecture of New York. On-site classes position all those bricks and girders in the context of “social, economic, and technological currents.” Parsons also offers a variety of continuing education courses in interior design and architecture studies. newschool.edu/parsons

Film & Video

Though guest lecturers aren’t usually a cause for excitement, Professor Richard Brown’s class at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies boasts a uniquely glamorous array of adjuncts. Clint Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, and countless others have assisted Brown in teaching “Movies 101,” described as “a cinematic adventure that offers a rich understanding of the newest films before they are released to the public, including in-depth interviews with directors and actors.” scps.nyu.edu

Apparently there’s more to making movies than romancing starlets, shouting, “Cut!,” and lounging in a canvas chair with your name emblazoned on the back. In the School of Visual Arts Continuing Education program’s “Introduction to Directing,” future auteurs will work with live actors, learning “how to visualize an idea and translate text to image, as well as using cinematic techniques to elicit the most effective psychological response from the audience.” sva.edu

For Children & Teens

In China, “moomah” is a slang term for Mom. In Tribeca, it means a café and play space offering some of the niftiest kids’ classes around. Spring courses at Moomah include glow-in-the-dark yoga, art and nature (which includes a field trip to Stone Barns Center in Tarrytown), a storytelling and songwriting class, and an imagination workshop led by the Story Pirates. moomah.com

OK, your child may be busier mastering toilet training and hand-eye coordination than, say, string theory, but according to the 92nd Street Y, “there’s a scientist in your pre-schooler.” Your budding Einstein can get a head start in “Hands-On Science,” “experimenting with air, water, soil, plants, and the stuff of everyday life.” After that, particle physics should be a cakewalk. 92y.org

Food & Drink

Most people might consider boot camp to be the punishment one signs up for after too much holiday indulgence. But not the fine gluttons at Murray’s Cheese in Greenwich Village. Their three-day “Cheese U Boot Camp” features not a single sit-up, instead teaching students how to differentiate cheese styles, describe cheeses in depth, and pair like a pro. Drop and give me Camembert! murrayscheese.com

Get soused with new sophistication at Astor Center‘s “The Cocktail Lab: A Hands-On Workshop.” At each session (and, yes, you are encouraged to drink the fermented fruits of your labor), students receive a “quick primer on basic bar techniques, current cocktail trends, and the science behind perfect flavor combinations.” Then they use spirits, mixers, fresh fruits, juices, herbs, and spices to create a signature tipple. astorcenternyc.com

According to culinary history, chocolate was first consumed in the form of a thick, cold, unsweetened drink. What a waste! Luckily, sugar has improved the taste of chocolate tremendously, and you can celebrate that sweet progress with a class at Marine Park’s JoMart Chocolates. Up to nine students learn to make (and then presumably gorge themselves on) truffles — from scratch. jomartchocolates.com

Mind, Body & Spirit

If downward dog no longer leaves you panting and you’ve grown bored with crowing over your crow pose, consider revitalizing your practice at Kula Yoga Project‘s Ultimate Weekend. Classes and lectures include “Ashtanga Yoga With Spice,” “Yin Yoga,” “Fluid Power,” and “Endurance Yoga,” which “test your body and mind with long posture holds, difficult sequences, and challenging vinyasa.” kulayoga.com

Sting once claimed that he and his wife enjoyed eight-hour bouts of tantric sex. If you’re unusually patient, and agile, sign up for a couples’ tutorial in Tantra for Couples at White Lotus East, which aims to “enlighten you in the mysteries of Tantra and wisdom of Taoism, revealing ancient methods of heightening and prolonging erotic pleasure.” After a bath ceremony, instructors, referred to as “goddesses,” will demonstrate various techniques with each partner, allowing the other partner to learn and practice them. whitelotuseast.com

Life is often unpredictable, particularly without a personalized star chart. Happily, New York City’s chapter of the National Council for Geocosmic Research can coach you in the fine art of astrology. The council offers group introductory and advanced astrology courses, as well as private instruction. For those who don’t look to the night sky for clues to their future, the center also provides tutelage in tarot. astrologynyc.org

Language

In the signal number of Nine, the Oscar-contending movie musical, various divas advise the listener to “Be Italian.” While dual citizenship or Roman ancestry can be rather difficult to obtain, Italian language courses are not. Parliamo Italiano, a school on the Upper East Side, has been operating for more than 30 years. It offers language classes at eight levels. Bene!

During the Bush era, many a liberal declared that if Republicans won, they would soon decamp for Canada. If subsequent administrations disappoint, you’ll want to be prepared for that new life in Quebec. While still in the States, though, you can pick up the native lingo at The French School. Very small classes (two to six students) emphasize conversation.

Crafts

The Farmer’s Almanac has predicted a frigid winter, with temperatures below average for most of the country. It likely won’t be quite so cold in our pleasant mid-Atlantic climes, but why not spend the season curled up beneath a hand-sewn quilt — particularly one you’ve sewn yourself? City Quilter boasts more than 20 classes in charm quilts, puzzle quilts, patchwork quilts, etc. So why not get down? Down-filled, that is. cityquilter.com

If you dream of handmade scarves and mittens, but your theme song might as well be “The Needle and the Damage Done,” consider improving your stitching skills with courses at Boerum Hill’s Knit-A-Way. In addition to private lessons and project consultations, you can enroll in classes such as “Knitting With Colors,” “Crochet Poncho,” and “Finishing Techniques.”

In New York, you can hire people to deliver your groceries, choose your wardrobe, even de-grime your toenails. But if you miss doing things with your own two hands, enroll in a workshop at Makeville in Gowanus. Classes include instruction in the building of art, lighting, and decorative and functional objects, and the very popular “Getting Started in Furniture Making.” Makeville offers kids’ classes, too. makeville.com

Sports

The oldest pair of ice skates, discovered in Switzerland, was last laced up some 5,000 years ago. Since that time, the activity has evolved, developing spectacular spins and jumps and a worrying tendency toward flesh-colored mesh fabrics. You can learn some of these techniques at Flushing’s World Ice Arena, which runs a strictly bring-your-own-sequins skating school, with instruction for tots, teens, and adults. You’ll be lutzing in no time. worldice.com

Longtime Voice writer Nat Hentoff once opined that the chief attraction of tennis is “the opportunity it gives to release aggression physically without being arrested for felonious assault.” But if you’d like to practice your non-criminal behavior with some more élan, at Manhattan’s Midtown Tennis Club you can enroll in “Indoor Adult Tennis College,” “Adult Tennis Camp,” or “Stroke of the Week.” midtowntennis.com

Most people do not consider billiards a violent game. Clearly, they have not enrolled in Tony Robles’s Deadly Pool Workshop. Robles, a professional pool player who enjoys the sobriquet “The Silent Assassin,” instructs would-be ballers in the esoteric arts of cue ball control, position play, defense play, and killer attitude.

Nature

On a depressing day in the city, you can easily find yourself concluding that New York is for the birds. And it is! Pigeons fight for crumbs against ducks, geese, cormorants, sandpipers, egrets, and marsh hawks. The Salt Marsh Alliance has restored portions of Marine Park’s marshes and made them an Eden for birdwatchers and their prey. You can get your ornithology on at the Alliance’s Saturday-morning birding class. saltmarshalliance.org

Aspirin comes from willow bark, heart medicine from the foxglove, and anti-cancer drugs from yew trees. Natural remedies form the core of Herbal Bear‘s course in Medical Botany, offered both at its Chelsea location and at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Students will study the medicinal properties of plants and learn “proper methods for herbal cultivation, harvesting, and storage to protect herbal efficacy.” herbalbear.com

Photography

In 1825, the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce impressed a natural scene onto a polished pewter plate. You can learn of Niépce’s innovation and subsequent advances at Pratt‘s class in “History of Photography.” The course explores photography’s “social, artistic, and political contexts” and supplements weekly lectures with museum and gallery visits. Pratt also offers courses in black-and-white photography, portrait photography, and digital photography. pratt.edu

Photographers who long to take Manhattan might consider the New School‘s “Shadows, Textures, Reflections: Seeing the Light in New York City.” In every session, students shoot a new urban locale (“from the geometries of South Street Seaport to the natural beauty of parks and gardens”). Shutterbugs who long to flee our fair isle can temporarily escape with a class in travel photography. newschool.edu

Miscellaneous

Every New Yorker multitasks — answering e-mails while chatting on the phone, proofreading files on the subway, walking while balancing coffee and a bagel. But if you’d like to learn a more literal form of juggling, Juggle NYC offers a weekly class at its 14th Street home. Paris (the “Hip-Hop Juggler”) and Rod of the Flying Karamazov Brothers will instruct students in the manipulation of balls, scarves, rings, diabolos, and spinning plates.

Our city boasts a plenitude of smells, both delectable (fresh-brewed coffee, Curry Hill spices) and despicable (gingko blossoms, subway urine). If you’d like to put your New York nose to more remunerative use, consider the Fashion Institute of Technology‘s Creative Fragrance Development program. The spring semester presents an “Introduction to Perfumery”: scientific fundamentals, structure of a fragrance, and techniques of smelling.

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Noise From The Front

Happy birthday to Conan O’Brien, born April 18th, 1963.

The Postmarks
Looks Like Rain,” from The Postmarks (Unfiltered, 2007)
[Music listing for Thursday, April 19]

Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers
Berro e Sombaro,” from Bustin’ Loose (Source, 1978)
[Music listing for Thursday, April 19]

Fountains of Wayne
Fire in the Canyon,” from Traffic and Weather (Virgin, 2007)
[Music listing for Tuesday, April 24]

New Riders of the Purple Sage
“You Angel You,” from The Best of New Riders of the Purple Sage (1971)
[Music listing for Thursday, April 19]

Jarvis Cocker
From Aushwitz to Ipswich,” from Jarvis (2006)
[Music listing for Sunday, April 22]

Peter Stampfel
Balance the Budget,” from New Prohibition (Viper, 2001)
[Music listing for Saturday, April 21]

Todd Rundgren
Can We Still Be Friends?” from The Very Best of Todd Rundgren (Bearsville, 1997)
[Music listing for Sunday, April 22]

John Vanderslice
Lunar Landscapes,” from Cellar Door (Barsuk, 2004)
[Music listing for Wednesday, April 18]

Norah Jones
Be My Somebody,” from Not Too Late (Blue Note, 2007)
[Music listing for Wednesday, April 18]

Third Eye Blind
Never Let You Go,” from Blue (Elektra, 1999)
[Music listing for Tuesday, April 24]

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Sunburnt

The kind of emotional and formal fire Third Eye Blind build on “Never Let You Go,” their current hit, has rocked producers, radio programmers, and pop fans for almost four decades. And from the Beatles to the Cars to Nirvana, these blazing structures always start with a song. Third Eye Blind’s is a tentative breakup tune, written in a straightforward way but nonetheless weirded-up by singer and songwriter Stephan Jenkins—unexplained tense shifts, family references, and sudden white-rapped equations of his probably departing girlfriend with “sunburn.” It’s quite a droll overlay of unhurried spite. “Maybe we’ll be friends,” at one point he supposes. “I guess we’ll see.”

“Never Let You Go” sounds great on the radio, where after hearing it a few times you think it’s the classic that Jenkins and his several coproducers intended. Jenkins’s sung melodies are miniaturized tunes repeated and linked together with prismatic transitions; as boldly catchy as the record is, its impression is never as outsize as that of triumphantly crisp pop-rock from, say, .38 Special or their ’90s heirs, Stone Temple Pilots. Instead, Third Eye Blind do something completely rock: They shove accompaniment down people’s ears. So you have countermelodies, really, with loud gun-metal guitar voices—distorted just so and never interfered with by any other instruments, never stepped on by the faintest bit of overtone or air in the mix—running a lot of the show. They’re guitars acting with the presence of mind of some insanely proficient chamber music outfit.

Few bands ever summon this level of patience and restraint, but Third Eye Blind manage both with gravity and wit. Maybe someday people will wake up and see that headbanging composition like “Never Let You Go,” far more than ill-considered noise or jazzlike improvisation, represents rock and roll’s key contribution to Western music. I guess we’ll see.

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Semi-Charmed Second Life

For most of this decade, I put out a Top 40 fanzine called Radio On. (Yes, you’re right: named in honor of Wall of Voodoo.) Each spring I’d compile a list of 50 or 60 current Billboard hits, and contributors would rate whatever they’d heard and write comments. There was always a few weeks after sending out the list where I had a good time trying to match some of the newer names to songs I figured I’d been hearing on the radio but hadn’t yet identified (today’s DJs aren’t always big on back-announcing), a gap that bestowed strangeness and mystery onto the unlikeliest of candidates. “Sister Hazel”?—must be a rapper on the order of Sista Souljah or Queen Latifah, but more old school, like Shirley Booth. “Sponge”?—one of the eight main classes of invertebrates, kind of squishy-looking, no appendages, probably heirs to the Moulty/Def Leppard tradition.

Third Eye Blind looked equally intriguing on 1997’s Radio On list, like maybe the arcane psychedelia of the 13th Floor Elevators was making a commercial breakthrough 30 years later. It wasn’t too long before I matched name to song and discovered that there wasn’t anything trippy about Third Eye Blind at all: Their “Semi-Charmed Life” was the slap-happy doot-doot-doot Spin Doctors soundalike that had been all over the radio the past few weeks and had already reeled me in. It was one of those great junky hits of recent times that began life on either Billboard‘s “Modern Rock” or “Not Modern Rock” chart (often both) and then started climbing the Top 100. Some of my other favorites included singles by the above-mentioned Sister Hazel (“All for You”), Blues Traveler (“Run-Around”), the Gin Blossoms (“Found Out About You”), and Better Than Ezra (“Good”).

These songs almost never fared well in Radio On—their anonymous mixture of sprightly melodicism and musical ordinariness guaranteed that one or two enthusiasts would be surrounded on all sides by jokes, dismissals, threats, and puzzled annoyance. A line from Ted Friedman’s 1997 comment on kindred spirits Dog’s Eye View summed up the prevailing queasiness well: “Will anyone look back and wonder, ‘Whatever happened to Dog’s Eye View, Dishwalla, and Jars of Clay?’ I’m already wondering.” Ted was right—outside of band members themselves, no one’s wondering.

“Semi-Charmed Life” was an exception in that it placed really high in Radio On, and also because Third Eye Blind quickly followed up with a bunch of other hits, two of which I liked even more than “Semi-Charmed Life.” “Graduate” (which if it had been a movie would have been titled Graduate: The Verb) was a bracing school’s-out-forever romp, or at least it seemed so until I realized that its chorus was a question (“Will I graduate?”). “How’s It Going to Be” ‘s soppiness landed it as the worst single of the year on one Radio On contributor’s year-end, but to me it was plaintive and beautiful and spoke specifically to a situation in my own life I was sorting out at the time. I didn’t even mind their folkish suicide song, “Jumper,” even though by then a year had passed and I’d heard enough Third Eye Blind for several lifetimes. To its credit, “Jumper” had what I’d come to think of as the “Third Eye Blind shift”: a moment in every single where there’d be a pause in the proceedings and they’d suddenly start yelping in overdrive, never for any real reason that I could figure out.

I hear the T.E.B. shift only once full-force on Third Eye Blind’s second album, Blue, about a minute into an excellent song called “Wounded.” I think it might be about a groupie: an authorial voice that’s often a “we” instead of an “I,” a line about the back of the bus, a directive to “rock on, rock on.” I said “rock on” once in the spring of 1978; I didn’t like the sound of it and never said it again. But it’s exciting on “Wounded,” and so are all the woh-woh-wohs right after the shift.

There may be something else on Blue that surprises me on the radio one day, but I’ve played it in its entirety four or five times now and it mostly just sounds like a couple more well-meaning lifetimes of Third Eye Blind. The doot-doot-doot songs (“Never Let You Go,” “An Ode to Maybe”) are a little too chirpy, a little too Tal Bachman-esque, while the slower ones are longer, not prettier. I’m not sure what to make of the Bon Scott flourishes on “The Red Summer Sun,” but as I’m sure even Third Eye Blind would agree, it’s not the kind of thing that needs to be pursued any further. (Bon Scott, by the way, would often answer queries of “How are you feeling?” with “A little third-eye-blind today.” Hence the connection.)