Culture Essentials for July

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July. It’s the real heart of the summer where you’re not sick of the side effects of warm weather in the city yet, but you’re also not feeling nostalgic for a season gone by, as always happens in August. The key here is pacing because there are so many outdoor movies, concerts, rooftop bars and other events to hit up, that you might get overwhelmed. Make sure to give yourself the gift of a night by yourself, on the couch with air conditioning once in awhile. There’s plenty to watch and read this month, after all.

10. Ozark, on Netflix July 21

To be honest, the teaser for Ozark, a new Netflix series, looks a little overwrought. It seems to be based on the premise that a regular-ish guy gets himself in deep with some really bad people and decides to disappear with his family and presumably a wad of misbegotten cash. Here’s the thing though, it stars Jason Bateman and Laura Linney and I would watch either one of them do anything, scroll through Instagram photos on their phones, talk about what kind of takeout to order, play euchre, it doesn’t matter. So, I’ll be watching.

9. Books Beneath the Bridge 

Every summer Brooklyn Bridge Park hosts a series of readings on the Granite Prospect steps in collaboration with local bookstores. Freebird kicks off the first literary evening with Erica Wagner, author of Chief Engineer, 7pm, July 10. Powerhouse Arena will present Hannah Tinti on July 17, Greenlight hosts their annual Poetry Salon curated by Angel Nafis on July 24, and on July 31 Word welcomes Lisa Ko and Rakesh Satyal. Even if you can’t make it, these authors are the start of a very solid summer reading list.

8. Who the F*** Is That Guy?

Who the F*** Is That Guy?, which is screening at The Nitehawk on July 31, is one of those only-in-New-York stories we all need to dive into once in awhile to remind us that we’re jamming onto packed trains with some pretty amazing people every day. Michael Alago was a gay Puerto Rican kid who snuck into Max’s Kansas City and CBGB as a teenager and went on to become the 24-year-old A&R guy (back when that job still existed) who signed Metallica. Yes, he has some stories to tell. Let’s listen.

 

7. Shark Week or Brit Week, Your Choice

Okay, Shark Week is a blatant, mid-summer ratings slump grab at your curious eyeballs, designed to terrify and titillate in the manner of Jaws, but without even a whisper of Spielberg’s storytelling genius. Nonetheless, it’s fun. The Discovery Channel is teasing some sort of aquatic contest between Michael Phelps and a great white shark this year, so it’s hard not to be at least a little intrigued. On the other hand, you could dive deep into the world of British detective dramas with BritBox, a new app that gives you access to a ton of British shows, including Dr. Who, Inspector Morse and Silent Witness. It’s $6.99 a month, but you get a free week trial, enough time to binge watch a great deal of Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect, which is really just the best and there’s also a new prequel to the show on PBS right now.

6. Black Gotham

Black Gotham is a series of historical walking tours that explore the impact of the African Diaspora on New York City. They’re re-introducing The Other Side of Wall Street, which explores The Land of the Blacks, the first free black settlement in New York City, as well as a two-part series called Caesar’s Rebellion that traces the history of the slave trade in New York and examines how free and enslaved blacks worked together to subvert the dominant system. Tours are held Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and cost $25 a ticket, and each one reveals a side of New York City’s history that has largely gone unexplored and uncelebrated.

5. Game of Thrones, HBO, July 17

Yes, it’s really too obvious to include, and personally, I have a little GOT fatigue, so I almost didn’t want to mention it here, but the first half of the final season returns on July 17. If nothing else, this will be a test of whether it’s truly possible to end an epic and beloved series in way that satisfies viewers and critics alike.

4. The Connective Project, Prospect Park Rose Garden, July 7-17

Summer is the season of public art, and this lovely-sounding new installation in Prospect Park combines a bit of whimsy–hundreds of pinwheels–with a larger message of community and interconnection. It will also give you reason to visit the Rose Garden, which is tucked into the park’s northeast corner and doesn’t get a ton of traffic. Bring a picnic and make an afternoon of it.

3. Homecoming Podcast, Season Two

Fiction podcasts are a thing now, and Homecoming, starring Catherine Keener, David Schwimmer and Amy Sedaris is the first one that has been optioned as a TV series. It’s a good place to start if you’re curious about the genre, and there’s a new season starting up this month, which adds Michael Cera, Spike Jonze and Alia Shawkat to the mix.

2. Bed-Stuy is Burning, Brian Platzer, July 11 

Described as Do the Right Thing meets Bonfire of the Vanities,this debut novel from journalist Brian Platzer promises to capture the tension of a ever-changing Brooklyn, while also delving into the complicated interior life of a rabbi-turned-gentrifier as he and his girlfriend navigate Bed-Stuy, with their baby.  I’m not sure this qualifies as a beach read, but not every novel needs to be all fluff, even in July.

1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Central Park, July 11-August 13

Shakespeare in the Park is one of the quintessential pleasures of summer in New York City and what could be more of a delight than A Midsummer Night’s Dream, that sly, bawdy tale of lovers and fairies and mistaken identity.

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