After all this heat, this week we’re recommending only inside events.
Who are we kidding? It’s summer. We’re suggesting a block party, too.
Let’s get to it.
— Margot and Tejal
Uptown Bounce, East Harlem
Margot, What’s the Plan?
Many museums and cultural institutions make a point these days to connect with their neighborhoods, hosting street fairs, music festivals and free first Fridays (and first Saturdays and first Sundays).
There’s simply no shortage of opportunities to make a party out of a museum visit.
One of those comes Wednesday at Uptown Bounce, the last in a series of East Harlem block parties co-hosted by the Museum of the City of New York and El Museo del Barrio. (See that word “last”? No more excuses!)
At the City Museum, the theme this time is “A Space Odyssey,” based on the film by the master moviemaker Stanley Kubrick. An exhibit of his little-known photographs of New York City is on display on the third floor.
You can start your night on a guided tour of that exhibit at 6:30, and then at 7:15 do the same in the Future City Lab. This exhibit imagines the New York of the future, using interactive maps and cityscapes. It’s especially cool after reading an era-by-era history of the city in the “NY at Its Core” exhibit down the hall.
Then hit the terrace, where the New York City D.J. Operator Emz will be spinning “space-age icons” like David Bowie until the Illustrious Blacks, who promise futuristic funk and cosmic pop, take over. (Last week, when I arrived at 6:15, folks were already grooving hard.)
Meanwhile, at El Museo’s cafe across the street, the community dance troupe KR3TS plans to perform at 6 p.m. An hour later, partygoers can hit the floor and dance to the local D.J.s MUSEAM and Oyasound. Perhaps you might pause for talks or an exhibition from the 111! Collective called East Harlem Live.
Kids are welcome throughout, but you might direct them first to the planet-making activity at the Museum of the City of New York or to the migration-tracing crafts at El Museo. (Craft-loving adults can do these, too.)
Uptown Bounce runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Snacks and drinks are available from Amy’s Bread at the Museum of the City of New York, and from Side Park Café at El Museo del Barrio. See the full schedules here and here. (Google Map)
Tejal’s Before and After: Restaurants
Patsy’s, founded in East Harlem in the 1930s, continues to turn out classic, no-nonsense New York pizzas with light, airy, golden crusts and gently charred bottoms.
Or you could make a whole meal out of the deep list of appetizers at La Shuk — the spicy eggplant salad with warm pita, the marinated artichoke hearts and the lamb koftas are quite tasty. But it would be a shame to miss the bastilla, layered with spiced chicken, ground almonds and phyllo pastry. (Google Map)
Tejal’s Before and After: Bars
Go to El Kallejón on East 117th Street for a wide range of mezcal and some ideal accompanying snacks, like a fundido, or warm melted cheese, smeared with huitlacoche.
East Harlem Bottling Co., on Lexington Avenue, has a casual, friendly space that spills out onto the sidewalk when the weather is nice. Pay special attention to the draft list — there are hibiscus sours from Queens, I.P.A.s from Brooklyn and more.
Camaradas El Barrio, a Puerto Rican bar and music venue, is an ideal place to end the day if you’re looking to drink and dance. Located on First Avenue, it has a robust bar menu with empanadas, tostones and veggie wraps. (Google Map)
How about a little outdoor tour of East Harlem?
• Check out what’s new at the ever-rotating Graffiti Hall of Fame a couple of blocks north and a few blocks east on the outside walls of the Jackie Robinson Educational Complex.
• If you have the afternoon to explore (here’s looking at you, teachers), try the Casa Latina Music Shop for CDs and instruments; the Demolition Depot, an indoor-outdoor warehouse of salvaged architectural pieces (many from city buildings); and the Hunter East Harlem Gallery, a space for multidisciplinary projects that focus on the East Harlem community. The gallery is currently displaying a portrait series called “Latino Youth.”
• Just inside Central Park beginning at 106th Street is the Harlem Meer. Take a seat along its bank, it’s your ideal post-party chill spot. (Google Map)
• El Museo del Barrio was founded to represent Latin American artists and the East Harlem Puerto Rican community. Learn about its history in this 2017 article from Latino Rebels.
• From the Contemporary Jewish Museum, listen to “Stanley Kubrick, Futurist,” a panel about Kubrick as a science fiction filmmaker and the futures he predicted.
Summer Shorts, Midtown East
Margot, What’s the Plan?
Whether in text, on film or in person, short stories can be hard to produce, yet are always easy to consume. Quickly and concisely, they construct a world, pull you in and, if they’re good, spit you back out to ponder some deep life questions.
That’s the experience you’ll have at Summer Shorts, a series of six short plays at the intimate 59E59 Theaters. Written, directed and acted by a mix of big names and relative newcomers, the plays are as clever and digestible as they are thought-provoking.
I recently caught Series B (the six plays are divided into two shows for length), a sweet grab bag of vignettes about relationships, each about 30 minutes long.
My night began with “The Plot,” written by a young Tisch graduate, Claire Zajdel, in which two siblings squabble over how to deal with their mother’s disclosure that she has bought their burial plots, alongside her own.
Next was “Ibis,” featuring Deandre Savon as a young man who unites with his estranged father long enough to learn that his dad’s dad hadn’t been fully present either. The two absorb the irony of the similarities that keep them apart.
“Sparring Partner” was last. This one stars KeiLyn Durrel Jones (“High Maintenance,” Shakespeare in the Park) and Joanna Christie (a lead in “Narcos” and many plays) as two co-workers flirting on a park bench during their lunch break. The sunny atmosphere darkens as the female character carefully asks her colleague if he’d ever leave his unhappy marriage for her.
A shared goal of the venue and the series is making theater accessible, both on and off the stage, so after the curtain, you may see actors and other artists mingling with the theatergoers.
Tejal’s Before and After: Restaurants
Empellón’s beautifully composed, sometimes unusual Mexican dishes — from a sticky tamal with red chile duck to nachos loaded with, ahem, sea urchin — are reason enough to visit for lunch or dinner. But the desserts and cocktails happen to be great, too.
Closer to the theater, there’s the bustling neighborhood favorite Land of Plenty, with silky dumplings in red oil, whole braised fish and spicy fried rabbit.
And don’t forget about Le Veau d’Or, one of the last reminders of New York’s old-school French scene, and the least stuffy to boot. Go and sip cold vermouth and eat leeks vinaigrette and endives with Roquefort in one of the strangest and most charming dining rooms in the city. (Google Map)
Tejal’s Before and After: Bars
You could easily walk by Hudson Malone assuming it to be another pubby Midtown bar with sticky counters, but it isn’t. The comfortable bar turns out pristine Sidecars and Boulevardiers, along with a full steakhouse-like menu — oysters on the half shell, wedge salads and burgers.
If you’re feeling a little fancy, duck inside the St. Regis and try King Cole’s famous Bloody Mary (just remember they call it a Red Snapper).
• Tour Argosy Book Store, an independent bookstore founded in 1925. Some wood-paneled floors of precious books, maps, prints and pamphlets require shoppers to be accompanied by a staff member, and you could easily spend a full day browsing. They also sell a variety of $1 editions out front.
• A quick walk away, Bloomingdale’s is to us about a 50 percent blast from the past. Stroll through the arcade, people-watch the crowds pouring into vintage elevators, or ride one yourself. (Google Map)
• Here’s a quick primer on what makes shows Broadway, Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway. (Tip: Summer Shorts is Off Broadway.)
• Read about how 59E59 and other theaters are working to foster a sense of community with in-theater after-parties.
• On Saturday and Sunday, watch dragon boats race at the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. It’s free!
• In Bryant Park, every Wednesday until Sept. 5 (with an end-of-season festival on the 14th), check out an event called Accordions Around the World, which aims to display the global reach of the wonky instrument. As fun to say as it is to see.
“Love your series! But most stuff is humongously far from public transit, like Socrates Park & the Queens Museum. Unless the series is self-limiting to bikers & cab riders, might you include transit tips for MetroCard users?” — Tibby
“Sweepstakes Silliness. I’ve already signed up for the Summer newsletter, which is how I got info and the link to enter. Instead of a simple entry, I needed to subscribe — again — to enter. You’re better than this.” — Pat
Tibby, we tried this week to stay close to subways. Let us know if you make either of these fun events. Pat, you shouldn’t receive two newsletters. We changed the language on the sign-up page to be more clear.
Can you believe we have just a month left of summer (officially)? Any big plans for the fall? Let us know if you’d like a newsletter like this year-round by taking our survey here. Hate surveys? Write us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.