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Nineteen Ways to Spend the Holidays in New York City

Artists & Fleas
Holiday Edition Market

Weekends through the end of the year

Artists & Fleas’ emporium of eclectic designer and vintage goodies is a year-round staple in Williamsburg and Chelsea Market. But this year, A&F’s Williamsburg location is going supersized for the holidays: It’s taken over the 2,500-square-foot warehouse next door, and on weekends through the end of the year it will be packed with a whopping 100 vendors. Pick up White Magic Energy Spray from apothecary Species by the Thousands for Mom, or NYC-themed 3-D wall art from PJ Cobbs Arts for your co-worker who (shudder) moved to the ‘burbs last spring. As you browse, enjoy DJ sets from students at Dubspot or acoustic tunes from local bands throughout December. Artists & Fleas, 70 North 7th Street, Brooklyn, artistsandfleas.com

American Museum of Natural History’s Origami Holiday Tree
November 24–January 11

You won’t find boring old twinkle lights or red and green balls on the American Museum of Natural History’s holiday tree, a stunning 13-foot display decorated with more than 500 hand-folded paper models created by origami artists from around the world. The nonprofit OrigamiUSA combs the museum each spring in search of inspiration for the year’s theme, referencing four decades’ worth of origami archives to determine which new models are necessary for the coming year. The result is a gorgeous history-filled tree topped by a star mobile made up of more than 30 origami pieces. After you gawk at the intricate décor, try making your own origami under the tutelage of an OrigamiUSA volunteer. American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, amnh.org

The Annual Post-Thanksgiving Multi-Ethnic Eating Tour
November 28

After stuffing yourself with stuffing on Thanksgiving, wake up the next morning and keep the gluttony going. Tour company Big Onion’s Post-Thanksgiving Multi-
Ethnic Eating Tour is a 20-plus-year tradition where intrepid eaters learn about the Jewish Lower East Side, Little Italy, and Chinatown while sampling different snack items. Big Onion stresses that the $25 tour of markets and shops shouldn’t be considered a real meal, but on November 28 more walking and less food is likely a good thing. Meet at Delancey and Essex streets, bigonion.com

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Peak season November 28–December 31

Skip Rockefeller Center and head to this tight-knit Brooklyn community, where homeowners drape scores of twinkly lights over blocks and blocks of neon Nativities and twirling Santas for visitors to wander through. Yes, it’s campy, and yes, some residents shell out loads of cash for professional decorators in a bid to outdo one another. But the result is a sometimes-beautiful-sometimes-tacky wonderland that’s been a Dyker Heights tradition for decades. As traditional as an inflated Santa on a motorcycle can be, anyway. Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

Arlo Guthrie & The Guthrie Family Annual Thanksgiving Concert
November 29

Sharing family stories over the Thanksgiving table can be delightful or disastrous, depending on what your family is like. After a day’s recovery from Aunt Lou overload, swing by Carnegie Hall for an evening of stories and songs from three generations of Guthries. Singer-songwriter Arlo — the son of Woody — is known for his comical digressions in between classics like “Alice’s Restaurant,” and he’s joined here by his musical children and grandkids. After more than 40 years, the family soiree has become a Carnegie Hall tradition. Tickets range from just $12.50 for balcony seats to $70 for parquet. Carnegie Hall, 57th Street and Seventh Avenue, carnegiehall.org

The Moth StorySLAM
December 1, 11, 18, 22, 29

Year’s end is a season ripe for reminiscing. Why not do it in front of a bunch of strangers? Soho-based storytelling group The Moth holds weekly StorySLAM sessions that invite audience members to perform a five-minute story based on a previously provided topic. Intrepid storytellers can toss their names into a hat at the event in hopes of being one of the lucky 10 selected, offer to serve as a judge, or simply enjoy a night of unique and varied tales. December’s holiday-appropriate themes include Bouncing Back, Saved, and Rewards, and advance tickets go for $16 each. They’re only $8 at the door — but you could end up waiting in the wintry weather for a while. Venue changes weekly; check schedules at themoth.org

Bar Car Nights at the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show

December 5–6, 19–20; January 2–3, 9–10

Up in the Bronx, kids and adults alike can enjoy the New York Botanical Garden’s model train show — in which locomotives weave through a miniature New York City built from bark and twigs — from mid November onward. But the fun for the big kids comes during special Bar Car Nights, when the garden transforms into a scene full of seasonal and romantic outdoor events. Sip on a cocktail or hot chocolate while wandering through “station stops” (get it?) including expert ice-carving demonstrations, a literally fiery performance from Cirque de Light, and an intimate jazz session in the toasty Pine Tree Café. The $35 tickets also include a visit to the Holiday Train Show, which covers a quarter-mile of track. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, nybg.org

Queens Botanical Garden Winter Solstice Celebration & Tree Lighting
December 7

The Queens Botanical Garden’s annual solstice bash is a one-stop shop for family fun, and better yet, admission is free. Kids will enjoy sweet treats and photos with Santa, while parents can opt to stroll the garden and peruse the wares at a holiday marketplace. Botanical crafts are available for an additional fee. After a full day of shopping and crafting amid live musical performances, the event comes to a close with a tree-lighting ceremony and sing-along. What could be Christmasier? Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Queens, queensbotanical.org

Chase Away the Winter Blues
December 7, January 4, February 1, March 1

Calling all humbugs and heat misers: Stop sulking under a quilt on the couch all winter and enjoy the great outdoors with a seasonal walk through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Licensed psychotherapist and longtime BBG guide Lynne Spevack will guide you through this hour-long narrated walk across the grounds, which are picturesque even in winter. The walking series is specifically “designed to relieve the winter doldrums,” so throw on a scarf, lace those sneakers, and feel the winter sun on your face. Tours are free for BBG members or with $10 adult park admission, and private walks may be arranged for a fee. Meet at Magnolia Plaza, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, bbg.org

It’s a Wonderful Life at IFC
Opens December 12

Yes, you’ve already sobbed over It’s a Wonderful Life two dozen times on cable, but it remains pure magic on the silver screen. Hark back to the holidays of yore at the IFC Center, which continues its tradition of showing Frank Capra’s 1946 holiday classic-to-beat-all-classics nearly seven decades after the film’s premiere. In addition to enjoying Jimmy Stewart’s megawatt cinematic grin, you might catch a flesh-and-blood Mary Owen (daughter of star Donna Reed), who typically drops in for a quick pre-show chat at a showing or two. Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan! IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas, ifccenter.com

Unsilent Night
December 13

Why Christmas-carol when you can sound-sculpt? New-music composer Phil Kline will mark his 22nd year leading a massive chorus of boomboxes from the arch in Washington Square Park to Tompkins Square Park. Participants of all ages bring their own portable speakers, laptops, and megaphones and receive one of four tracks of music Kline composed in the form of a download, cassette, MP3, or CD. On cue, everyone presses play, with the resulting joyful cacophony meant to create a “unique mobile sound sculpture which is different from every listener’s perspective” — and quite a holiday sight for tourists. Washington Square Park, Fifth Avenue and Waverly Place, unsilentnight.com

Grace-ful Ice: Microcosmos
December 15–16

The ice sculptures at your cousin’s wedding may have been tacky, but in the hands of skilled craftspeople, the transformation of simple blocks of frozen water can be transcendent. The Long Island City–based artist collective Okamoto Studio creates stunning lifelike sculptures from regular old ice, and they hold an annual two-day live carving event at Grace Plaza in midtown Manhattan, where onlookers can watch transfixed as the master artisans coax intricate insects and other tiny creatures from crystal-clear blocks. Perhaps the best part of this winter-wonderland experience: It’s free. 1114 Avenue of the Americas, artsbrookfield.com

Lighting of the World’s Largest Hanukkah Menorah
December 16–23

New York may be packed with Christmas trees and Santa Clauses during the holidays, but the city does Hanukkah in a big way too. The Big Apple boasts the world’s largest menorah: a 4,000-pound, 32-foot-high gleaming gold structure that stands at Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza. Designed by artist Yaacov Agam in 1977, this majestic menorah is modeled after the original in Jerusalem’s Holy Temple. The candles will be lit each holiday night at 5:30 p.m., except for the Sabbath, when lighting takes place at 3:30 p.m. Friday and 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Celebrations include live music, dancing, Hanukkah gelt, and, of course, piping-hot latkes. Grand Army Plaza, Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, Manhattan

A Charlie Brown Christmas 50th Anniversary Celebration With Live Music
December 20–21

The jazzy classics from the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas just might be the only Christmas songs that never get old. The short film starring Charlie, Linus, Snoopy, and the gang turns 50 this year, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art is celebrating with a special screening and live musical performance. Tickets start at $40 and include museum admission for the day of the show. The Rob Schwimmer Trio and the Church of Heavenly Rest Children’s Choir will perform their interpretation of the score as the Peanuts kids discover the true meaning of Christmas onscreen. Hang around afterward for a holiday sing-along (and be sure to throw your head way back as you sing). Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, metmuseum.org

The Hanukkah Concert: Featuring Gerard Edery and His Virtuoso Musicians
December 21

You could choose to spend an evening swinging by a folk concert, watching a menorah lighting, and attending a contemporary reading. Or you could hit all three in one event: the Center for Jewish History’s Hanukkah Concert. A special guest will kick off the night “with a story from the pen of a great Jewish writer.” Then master singer and guitarist Gerard Edery will lead virtuoso musicians in playing a wide range of ethnic folk styles from Europe, the Middle East, South America, and ancient Persia. Tickets are just $18 for the concert, which includes a menorah lighting and refreshments. Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, cjh.org

Good Riddance Day
December 28

For those who can’t wait for 2014 to slither back whence it came, it could be worth battling creepy Elmos in Times Square for the Times Square Alliance’s eighth annual Good Riddance Day. Bitter New Yorkers scribble down breakup stories, job regrets, and other tales of woe from 2014, and toss them into a huge shredder ahead of the new year. It’s inspired by a Latin American New Year’s tradition in which partiers stuff dolls with objects representing bad memories and set them on fire. There’s no conflagration at the Times Square version, but the ssssszzzzzcht of the shredder is satisfying enough to wipe the slate clean for 2015. Times Square, timessquarenyc.org

New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace
December 31

You’ll have plenty of time on New Year’s Eve to wait hours for a drink at the bar for which you bought a $300 ticket. First, why not start the night in calmer surroundings at the 30th annual Concert for Peace at St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights? Founded by Leonard Bernstein in 1984, the concert features both classical and contemporary music in a candlelit cathedral. The church offers a limited number of free general-admission seats, and ticketed seating starts at $30. The two-hour concert ends at 9 p.m., leaving plenty of time for post-show debauchery. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, stjohndivine.org

Brooklyn Bowl New Year’s Eve With Deer Tick
December 31

Say farewell to 2014 by knocking out bowling pins and knocking back a few brews at Brooklyn Bowl’s New Year’s Eve bash. In between the sounds of glorious strikes, enjoy a set from influential Rhode Island alt-rock band Deer Tick, who are celebrating their 10th year. New Year’s Eve marks the final installment of Deer Tick’s six-night residency at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, during which the band will perform their favorite acts’ full albums (plus a few originals). NYE is extra-special, as Deer Tick will perform a totally fan-chosen set. Tickets run $40–$50 for the Deer Tick performance. For lane packages, contact events@brooklynbowl.com. Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, brooklynbowl.com

Coney Island Polar Bear Club Annual New Year’s Day Swim
January 1

Start 2015 off right by raising money for a good cause and shocking your system out of a hangover on the Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s annual swim, where hundreds of revelers plunge into the frigid Atlantic to greet the new year. Bring warm clothes, costumes, or whatever else may keep you from getting hypothermia after the plunge, which raises money for the Camp Sunshine recreational program for kids with multiple disabilities. Early registrants who donate $20 or more will be entered into the earliest wave, and plungers who raise $100 or more will score a T-shirt. Shy observers are encouraged to make a donation to Camp Sunshine, but there’s no formal fee to watch those crazy diamonds shine on. Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue, Brooklyn, polarbearclub.org

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A LITTLE ITALY

Vanessa McDonnell’s John’s of 12th Street, a warm, affectionate sketch of the eponymous East Village restaurant, is the kind of insistently low-key documentary in which a mild argument between co-owner Nick Sitnycky and a handyman over where to get a stopper for the front door constitutes a relatively heated moment. A mere hour long, the movie could stand to be more discerning with its material: Where some of the staff’s spontaneous asides are engaging (one terrific scene has two off-screen cooks conversing in Spanish about charter schools, the camera fixed on their busy hands), others (like one patron’s Madonna story) are arguably long-winded to a fault.

Nevertheless, McDonnell’s commitment to capturing the day-to-day routine — the opening shot is of a clock and a calendar — is mostly contagious. (This is McDonnell’s first feature doc; she’s also a programmer at Williamsburg’s cozy Spectacle and a contributing editor at Screen Slate, that invaluable website that catalogs daily repertory screenings.) The dialed-down stakes allow for involving process-oriented beats (rolling meatballs, slicing chicken, filling salt containers) as well as for offhand conversation typical of any collaborative workplace.

Sun., Nov. 16, 10 p.m., 2014

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ROYALE WITH CHEESE

By now, the influence of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is so entrenched in the culture that even a proper 35mm screening of the film can feel like yesterday’s news. Leave it to the creative team at Williamsburg’s Nitehawk, then, to devise a fresh way to experience the film: In partnership with Absolut Vodka, this Film Feast event pairs Tarantino’s classic with a menu of food and drinks tailored precisely for the movie at hand. Featuring such items as “Jack Rabbit Slims” (Coke- and vanilla-marinated skirt steak) and “One Minute They’re Having a Denver Omelette,” the menu provides a delicious companion to the film itself — and, perhaps best of all, the vigilant Nitehawk staff has been primed to serve the individual meals and beverages at the precise moment they’re referenced on-screen.

Sun., Sept. 14, 7:20 p.m., 2014

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KNOW YOUR ENEMY

Public Enemy graces Brooklyn Bowl tonight, bringing their revolutionary rap style to the heart of Williamsburg. Since their breakout in 1987 with Yo! Bum Rush the Show!, Public Enemy have been mixing their signature perspective on social-justice issues with hip-hop’s political and radical roots. Not only that, but Chuck D, Flavor Flav, DJ Lord, and The S1W’s (Khari Wynn and Professor Griff) brought to light important criticism of the media and American culture that was largely absent during the late ’80s and early ’90s. Gaining notoriety in America and abroad, Public Enemy have been a household name for nearly 30 years, and have accrued a number of commercial hits and underground cult classics to draw on as they perform live. A one-off performance like this is a rare thing for such a staple of New York’s foundational hip-hop scene, and one that should thrill diehard fans and brand-new listeners alike.

Tue., Sept. 16, 8 p.m., 2014

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CHEER UP CHARLIE

Self-proclaimed “dirty old man” Charles Bukowksi would have been 94 today, and Ecco Books hosts this free celebration at Williamsburg’s Post Office bar in his honor. They’ll distribute, aptly enough, free copies of his novel Post Office to anyone who takes part in this public reading. In addition, come to hear excerpts from Ham on Rye and Women, for what’s sure to be a colorful listening experience: Bukowski drew upon a childhood marred by abuse and bullying, and an adulthood of dead-end, low-wage jobs, alcoholism, and failed relationships. The three novels chronicle the journey of his alter ego, Henry Chinaski, through drinking, working as a mail carrier, and ultimately transforming into a literary sensation. Come for a dose of the ultimate high-brow/low-brow blend—exquisite writing about being down and out.

Sat., Aug. 16, 2:30 p.m., 2014

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29 Ways to Better Yourself This Fall in NYC

 

Theater and Performing Arts

What would dance be without its costumes? Those tutus, those sequins, the occasional jazzy bowler hat. Still, clothes aren’t much without some accompanying footwork, so the Fashion Institute of Technology will offer a variety of dance classes in the fall. Courses include “Contemporary Urban Dance,” “Dances of the Middle East and India,” “Afro-Caribbean Dance,” ballet, modern, jazz, and flamenco. fitnyc.edu

Sure, there are advantages to being a solo artist. Full creative control, first pick of backstage snacks, not having to share groupies. But a musician can get lonely. If you’d like to learn to play well with others, Mannes School of Music, an affiliate of the New School, offers a variety of ensemble programs. You can register for “Community Orchestra,” “Baroque Chamber Ensemble,” “Guitar Ensemble,” “Flute Ensemble,” and for Renaissance Faire enthusiasts, “Recorder Consort.” newschool.edu


 

Fashion

Shopping your closet would be a lot easier if your closet had a lot more new stuff in it. But Bird River Studios in Williamsburg has a compromise. In the sewing workshop “Jean Re-Fab Bag,” you’ll learn how to turn your worn-out jeans into a brand-new purse. And in “T-Shirt Re-Fab,” you can learn no-sew techniques to transform old tops into wardrobe statement pieces. birdriverstudios.com

If the shoe fits, wear it. Designing and building a shoe based on the shape of your particular foot might really help with that whole fit thing. At the Brooklyn Shoe Space in Williamsburg, you can learn how to create your own footwear. Begin with an introductory session covering “footwear structure, resources for materials, and measuring your feet.” Then move on to pattern making and working sessions. brooklynshoespace.com


 

Writing

If you browse a bookstore’s classics section, you’ll find a preponderance of books by dead white rich men. And those books are pretty great, but the NY Writers Coalition has dedicated itself to making sure a greater variety of voices is heard. The coalition partners with social-service agencies to arrange workshops for veterans, geriatrics, the recently incarcerated, and those with physical and mental disabilities. For the general public, it also sponsors a free weekly workshop at the central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library each Monday afternoon. nywriterscoalition.org

What’s the use of having written the next great American novel if no one can read it? “The Next Bestseller Workshop” promises to help you make your opus just a bit more magnum. At this weekend seminar in Soho from November 7 to 9, you’ll learn to “practice and polish your pitch with direct access to book publishing industry professionals, Hollywood, and the media.” thenextbestseller.com


Art

If you have a nagging desire to sculpt, consider learning at Chateau Stables, a stable for theatrical animals in Hell’s Kitchen. This class will cover sculpting basics: building an armature, building sculptural muscle mass, creating fine details. And it will provide extra inspiration of the four-legged variety by providing several horses to serve as live models. Who’d say neigh to that? chateaustables.net

Has all the color drained from your relationship? You can try revivifying it during “1-Nite Couples Painting Class Party” at the Art Studio NY on the Upper West Side. Here you’ll receive instruction in “color mixing, brushwork, composition, texture” and leave with a canvas you create together. If it goes poorly, you can console yourself with the free wine. And if not even wine can improve things, you might be ready for Art Studio NY’s “BYOB Singles Night Painting Class Party.” theartstudiony.com


For Children and Teens

Does it seem as if your kid is always a move or two ahead of you? If you think your tot (aged four and up) might make a grandmaster or -mistress, you can sign him or her up for lessons at Chess NYC in the West Village. Opt for individual chess club lessons or group chess buddy tutoring. But don’t blame the school if you become just a pawn in your spawn’s game. chessnyc.com

New York City used to boast a dazzlingly rich aquaculture, its bays teeming with striped bass, cod, oysters, and clams. Actually, New York still has plenty of fish, though you might want to exercise some caution before consuming them. You can decide once you and your child learn to catch them, with free lessons via Big City Fishing, which run through August at a variety of piers. Big City provides “rods, reels and bait, as well as formal instruction.” hudsonriverpark.org


Film/Video

If only a film actually ended once you yelled “Cut!” on the final scene. But how to sort through all those different takes, sync that dialogue, fade in those songs? And where should you place all those CGI fire-breathing dragons? A six-week course in “The Art of Film Editing” at the Edit Center in DUMBO can help. Students will learn Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer while working on a full-length narrative film or feature documentary. theeditcenter.com


 

Food and Drink

This is a golden age of ice cream. Gelato, too. Also sorbet. Even much-maligned frozen yogurt. If you’d like to learn to make your own quiescently frozen confections, it might help to study with an expert. At the new Ample Hills in Gowanus, Brooklyn — the venture that developed the worryingly addictive Salted Crack Caramel — you’ll learn “how to transform a few natural ingredients and a dream into a cold, creamy treat.” amplehills.com

Let’s all take a moment to thank that long-ago ancestor who first thought to roast his or her mammoth steak over an open flame. But grilling has come a long way since prehistoric times. Bring yourself up to speed at the Institute of Culinary Education in the Flatiron. You can start with “All About Grilling,” then move on to “Grilling and Roasting the Chinese Way” and “Grilling Seafood Seven Ways.” ice.edu

Even in the midst of summer’s swelter, New York City can feel very far from the tropics. But you can bring the islands (not Staten, Randall’s, or Ellis) just a little closer with “Tiki Time” at the Astor Center in the East Village. In this two-hour seminar on August 20, you’ll learn “the history, the décor, and, of course, the cocktails that launched the 1950s Tiki bar craze,” and get hands-on experience in zombie and mai tai mixology. Baby, we were born to rum. astorcenternyc.com


Health/Body/Wellness

What would you like for lunch? A salad, a sandwich, a stiff drink, a sleeve of breath mints, or maybe just some serenity? If you’d rather feed your spirit than your stomach, the Giving Tree Yoga Studio in Astoria offers the Vinyasa class “Lunchtime Bliss,” while also presenting “Noon Awakening,” which incorporates “pranayama, meditation and unique sequencing.” thegivingtreeyogastudio.com

Maybe you’d like to discover better health by optimizing your energy meridians. Or maybe you’ve always felt a certain envy watching the human pincushion at Coney Island. Either way, you’ll enjoy “Community Acupuncture” at the Maha Rose Center for Healing in Greenpoint. In this massage class, you’ll learn the “basics and benefits of acupuncture.” maharose.com


Computers

Do you believe in love at first site? Maybe you will once you’ve taken “Web Development 1: Building Websites” at the Noble Desktop in Soho. You’ll begin by learning basic HTML and CSS, then put that coding into practice, exploring various layouts, links, structures, and designs, until you’re ready to upload your masterpiece to the web. nobledesktop.com

How many millions of us wanted to reach into our computer screens just to bring harm to Clippy, Microsoft’s unfailingly jaunty office assistant? If you need help with word processing, there are better ways, such as classes in Microsoft Word at the Career Center in Murray Hill. Choose from eight levels of instruction — everything from creating a document to spellchecking your final draft. careercenters.com


Languages

Charlemagne said that to have a second language was to possess a second soul. But what if you’re interested in a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth soul? If you’ve been looking for a place to learn some more exotic tongues (and a couple of dead ones), consider the continuing-education courses at Columbia University. Offerings include everything from Armenian to Zulu, with Pulaar, Sanskrit, Telugu, Tibetan, Uzbek, and Wolof in between. columbia.edu


Crafts

Some of us still have warm feelings for the Barbies of our youth. But it’s a rare adult who feels any nostalgia for Ken. If you think you can improve on his worryingly smooth plastic frame, consider the August 24 doll workshop at Chelsea’s City Quilter, where you’ll make “a male doll to dress as you wish.” Tiny sequin tuxedoes and toreador outfits not included. cityquilter.com

Paper cutting! It’s not just for snowflakes and those weird Thanksgiving turkeys you make by tracing around your hand anymore. At “Papercutting Explorations” at the Center for Book Arts in the Flatiron, you’ll learn how to produce “silhouettes, colorful collages, basic pop-ups, and paper sculptures, as well as multiple prints.” It’s probably best not to try out your new skills on the center’s tomes. centerforbookarts.com


Sports

It’ll be another four years before the U.S. can lose another World Cup. But why not at least dominate your pickup game in the meantime? At Soccer Beyond — hey, it’s up to the rest of the Earth to call it football — you can take coed lessons emphasizing skills such as passing, dribbling, ball control, attacking, and defending. At Pier 25 in Tribeca, Soccer Beyond also offers boot camps, scrimmages, and one-on-one coaching. soccerbeyond.com

When Henry Hudson first navigated our waterways, did he ever suspect that some 400 years in the future the river to which he gave his name would host “Beachfit Bootcamp”? Manhattan Kayak Company offers an amphibious twist on the typical exercise class, with cross-training both on land at Pier 84 in Hell’s Kitchen and in the water, using a paddleboard. manhattankayak.com


 

Nature

They’re in your food, your tea, your soap, your medicine. Good god, herbs are everywhere! If you’d like to learn more about them, consider the two-session course “Herbs: Historical Significance and Contemporary Use,” beginning August 29 at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. If you’re up for more after pondering the “physical properties of herbs and their roles within traditional cultures,” you can follow up in September with “Nature’s Pharmacy.” nybg.org

New York is home to nine species of bats, none of them vampiric. (Though a few are rabid.) Some may fear them, but these are fascinating creatures, even the smallest of which can devour hundreds of insects each night. For those who’d like to better appreciate them (and their prey), NYC Audubon hosts “Twilight Bat and Insect Walks” in Central Park, designed to educate strollers about bats and their importance in the urban environment. Bring a flashlight and bug spray. nycaudubon.org


Photography

Legendary photojournalist Robert Capa quipped that if your photos weren’t good enough, you weren’t close enough. Actually, there are a host of other reasons your photos don’t dazzle, flaws you can remedy with “Photojournalism and Documentary” at PhotoManhattan in Union Square. Classes include a study of the work of famous photojournalists, as well as weekly assignments and group critiques. photomanhattan.com

Digital photography is cheap, easy, and practical. But these aren’t necessarily selling points. If you long for something just a bit less evanescent, enroll in the “Analog Film Lab,” a one-day intensive course on August 29 at BKC Brooklyn Central in Bushwick. After learning how to load film into the camera, you’ll master focus and the light meter before heading out to shoot. Then you’ll learn how to develop your film and print your pictures. Assuming all goes well, you’ll leave with a set of 8-by-10 glossies. wearebkc.com


Miscellaneous

Henna has been used for cosmetic purposes for 6,000 years. So you might feel just a little guilty not yet having learned how to use it. In the two-hour henna workshop at Henna by Kenzi in Bed-Stuy, you’ll learn how to prepare and apply henna paste, plus the all-important aspects of henna aftercare. Or, if you prefer your cosmetics less natural, try “Airbrush Makeup and Sunless Tanning Workshop” at CHIC Studios NYC. kenzi.comchicstudiosnyc.com

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COLLECT THEM ALL

This annual one-night-only exhibition operates under the assumption that “if something exists, someone somewhere probably collects it.” We’re anxiously anticipating ephemera of the Abe Lincoln potato chip variety. Williamsburg’s City Reliquary and the Brooklyn Historical Society present Collector’s Night 2014, an open invitation for New York’s eclectic collectors to gather and display their wares, no matter how big or small, common or obscure. Last year featured curated collections of disco shirts, bad postcards, “Ask Me About…” buttons, vintage nightgowns, “Employees Must Wash Hands” signs swiped from bars, and “Who Let the Dogs Out?” memorabilia. Browse the booths and pause for performances, presentations, and stories about how these various obsessions came together. If you nurse your own beautiful and bizarre collection, tonight is the night to dust it off, sign it up, and share it with the world. Every ticket includes a free beer!

Thu., July 17, 7 p.m., 2014

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BAND OF BROTHERS

Williamsburg’s Nitehawk Cinema is known for its in-theater luxuries — comfortable seating, efficient food-and-drink service — so it’s a measure of the cinema’s admirable adaptability that, during the summer months, it dedicates several weekends to a premiere outdoor-moviegoing experience. The Nitehawk Outdoors series combines free-entry screenings with food, beverages, and live musical performances. (Though general admission costs nothing, $12 VIP tickets —which include amenities like beer, popcorn, and prime-location folding chairs — are available for purchase). Tonight’s opening-night lineup showcases the Coen brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou?, featuring a T-Bone Burnett-produced soundtrack that ought to jibe well with the bluegrass sound of the Birdhive Boys, slated to perform before the screening. At 50 Kent Avenue.

Sun., July 20, 7 p.m., 2014

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BIG WORDS

National prodigies end up? You know, the pint-sized human spell-checkers who
rattle off “appoggiatura” and “cymotrichous” like it’s no big thing? Apparently, in Brooklyn. The Williamsburg Spelling Bee has returned, once again providing hard-core orthography nerds and nostalgic man-children with a forum to defend childhood titles and try to spell while drunk. This year the “original adult spelling bee” celebrates it’s 10th anniversary. It’s still hosted by founder Bobby Blue, now alongside comedian Jennifer Dziura. Watching the cabaret-style bee, replete with comedy and musical performances, is a reward in itself, but top spellers take home the loot—in the past winners have received everything from dictionaries to Gotham Girls Roller Derby tickets. Best of L-U-C-K.

Mon., July 7, 7 p.m., 2014

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SKY’S THE LIMIT

Could there be anything more Williamsburg than a concert presented by David Lynch featuring Sky Ferreira? For now, let’s say this is as Brooklyn as it gets and appreciate the concert’s purpose. Besides being a surrealist cult-film director responsible for classics like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, and the TV show Twin Peaks, Lynch is a major advocate of Transcendental Meditation and has established the David Lynch Foundation to fund the teaching of the practice in at-risk schools and various support programs for the underprivileged, disabled, and the terminally ill. For his NYC benefit show, Lynch is featuring the frequently-
discussed, oft-controversial, “It Girl” of pop music fresh off her gig as opener for the even more frequently discussed and controversial “It Girl” Miley Cyrus.

Wed., July 9, 8 p.m., 2014