Gothamist Guide To August: 20 Great Ways To Squeeze Summer Dry

<br/><br/>Here we are once again at the onset of August, that tall and wild waterslide ride through the final days of summer. Breathe deep and savor it: paddle a kayak to an outdoor movie on the beach, build a sandcastle that flaunts zoning codes and then dance all night by a bonfire until the cops come on horseback to chase you into the surf. (<a href="">Horses don't surf</a>!) The city's poised to hit critical culture mass, even if the temperature's been on the cool and calm side, so here for you is our handpicked guide of the best things to do in New York City for the next month. Click through and get ready for August and everything after.

via ariaphotography's flickr

<br/><br/>Get the month off to a funky start with the opening of <strong><a href=""><em>Finding Fela</em> at IFC Center</a></strong>. Dedicated to Fela Kuti, the father of Nigerian Afrobeat, the film draws on never-before-seen footage and a wide range of interviews as it retraces Kuti's path from humble home jam sessions to musical mega-stardom. Questlove, Paul McCartney, and of course Kuti's children all get sizable screen time, but the most captivating Fela critic is Fela himself, who is never off-camera for very long. <br/><br/>Anyone who was lucky enough to catch <a href=""><em>Fela!</em></a> on Broadway will recognize not only much of the music but most of the cast. The film also tracks the journey made by the musical's stars to travel to Nigeria and perform on Kuti's home turf. Directed by Alex Gibney, it was a hit at Sundance and is a fitting tribute to the legend of Lagos.<br/><br/><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//" width="640"></iframe><br/><br/><em>Friday, August 1st, 11:20 a.m.-9:35 p.m. // <a href="">IFC Center</a> // <a href=";movie_id=178657&amp;rdate=8/1/2014">Tickets $9-20</a></em>

<br/><br/>This summer has been kind to Harry Potter fans, with the arrival of J.K. Rowling's <a href="">entirely new short story</a> that picks up where the books' heptalogy left off. And if you just can't get enough herbology, half-bloods, and hippogriffs in your life, The Bell House is hosting the <strong><a href="">2nd Annual NYC Pottercon</a></strong>. A day-drinking revel in the name of all things Hogwarts, the party will feature quizzes, quills, a costume contest, and of course a sorting hat.<br/><br/>It's a fair bet that some creative "Butterbeer" rebranding and drunken spell-shouting will carry on through the afternoon and into the evening. Show up early if you want to be sorted into a house and bring a team of 2-6 for the trivia round at 4:30. Sorry, no <a href="">weird Citibike wizardry allowed</a>.<br/><br/><em>Saturday, August 2nd, 2-8 p.m. // <a href="">The Bell House</a>, 149 7th Street, Brooklyn // Free (21+)</em>

via The Bell House facebook

<p>No meat? No problem! Littlefield is hosting the next <strong><a href="">Vegan Bake-Off</a></strong> and wants you to bring it with your very best balls. Yes, this month's gastro-gauntlet demands that the city's vegan chefs cook up spherical dishes that both wow the palate and spare animals the cruelty of the American food industry. Risotto fritters? Check. Matzo poppers? Yes please. The contest boasts a $250 first prize and will be judged by both official tasters and audience members, which means just walking through the door ensures that balls are headed your way. Those who want to put their skills to the test can register for one of the 12-15 spots <a href="">here</a>, and everyone's encouraged to buy advance tickets. Vegan-friendly beer, liquor, and wine will compliment a ballsy menu; here's hoping they play <a href="">a little AC/DC</a>.<br/><br/><em>Sunday, August 3rd, 2 p.m. // <a href="">Littlefield</a>, 622 Degraw Street, Brooklyn</em> // <a href=";__utmb=;__utmc=1&amp;__utmx=-&amp;__utmz=1.1406232420.2.2.utmcsr=google|utmccn=%28organic%29|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=%28not%20provided%29&amp;__utmv=-&amp;__utmk=149971254">Tickets $15 advance, $18 door</a></p>

<br/><br/>You know that cute thing your cat does? When it scampers around, or stays up all night or plays with imaginary mice in your apartment? Bad news. Your "feline" is probably possessed by the devil or a demon in a cat-form infiltrating your life. Dr. Paul Koudounaris, who holds a PhD from UCLA, will explain it all at the <strong><a href="">Morbid Anatomy Museum's Panel on Possessed Cats</a></strong>, an illustrated lecture tracing the history of demonically-driven felines. Sure, we live in a world of cute kitty YouTube videos now, but throughout time people have been suspicious of our pointy-eared roommates. The Israelites called them "demons of the desert"; to Mesopotamian tribes they were the "accursed ones." Ancient Egyptians considered cats to be sacred, but they thought cats had a duality: they could be divine or demonic. Next time your cat scratches up the sofa, he either needs his nails cut, or he's about to drag you to hell. <em>(Shayla Love)</em> <br/><br/><em>Thursday August 7, 8 p.m. // <a href="">Morbid Anatomy Museum</a>, 424A 3rd Ave, Brooklyn // <a href="">Tickets $8</a></em>

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<br/><br/>Back for its 18th summer, the <strong><a href="">2014 NYC Fringe Festival</a></strong> presents 200 off-off Broadway plays in 18 venues across downtown Manhattan. With this many shows, there's something for every theater buff to take in. From interactive, <a href="">choose-your-own-adventure plays</a> to <a href="">alien musicals</a> to <a href="">Japanese dance,</a> <a href="">future apocalyptic prisons </a> and <a href="">Taylor Swift</a>. Plus, <a href="">Shakespeare</a>, <a href="">Shakespeare</a>, <a href="">Shakespeare</a>. Did we mention, <a href="">Shakespeare</a>?<br/><br/>There's an alphabetical list of all the shows and descriptions <a href="">here</a>, where you can also buy tickets. The list can be daunting, but it's only a couple dollars more than the cost of a movie ticket, so take a deep breath, close the Netflix stream and get some living entertainment! The entire fest runs August 8-24. <em>(Shayla Love)</em><br/><br/><em>August 8-24 // <a href="">Venue Guide</a> // <a href="">Tickets $18</a></em>

<br/><br/>It's time to put your beach body's deltoids to the test and get up to the Bronx for some quality paddle time. The <strong><a href="">Upper River Run</a></strong> is a chance to soak up a bit more summer sun and river kayak through Shoelace Park, the Bronx River Forest, the Botanical Garden, and the Bronx Zoo. The two and a half hour trek includes one portage, but intrepid types can opt to paddle farther upstream and portage their way back to the finish. Enjoy hanging willow shrouds and the low rush of inlet waterfalls on a route that leads through some of the city's best-preserved landscape. The entire trip is sanctioned and led by the <a href="">Bronx River Alliance</a>.<br/><br/><em>Saturday, August 9th, 10. a.m. // <a href="">Bronx Zoo Mitsubishi Riverwalk</a> // <a href="">Tickets $25</a></em>

via Bronx River Alliance facebook

<br/><br/>Biology study group meets the underground world of speakeasies at the monthly <strong><a href="">Secret Science Club, hosted by the Bell House</a></strong>. What is it, exactly? Uncertain as Schrodinger's cat, but we do know the mysterious mind-melding evenings feature booze, interesting lectures and trippy music. The events are curated by jazz singer/writer Dorian Devins and nature writers Margaret Mittelbach and Michael Crewdson, authors of <em>Carnivorous Nights</em> and <em>Wild New York</em>.<br/><br/> Last month's meeting explored a marine biologist's deep-sea quest for bioflourescent creatures in groovy reefs. This month's topic hasn't been announced yet, but it promises to be "shrouded in mystery" and "chock-full of brainiacs." If that doesn't stimulate your amygdala the cocktail of the night probably will. Last month's was called the "Skin of the Shark that Bit Me." <em>(Shayla Love)</em>.<br/><br/><em>Tuesday, August 12th, 8 p.m. // <a href="">The Bell House</a>, 149 7th Street, Brooklyn // Free, 21+</em>

via The Bell House facebook

<br/><br/>Get a glimpse of one of the rarest and most important chronicles of graffiti ever made when <strong><em><a href="">Stations of the Elevated</a></em> screens at the Museum of the City of New York</strong>. The 45 minute documentary uses only music and grainy 16mm film to bring the story of 70s street art to life. Our city's subway cars play the protagonists, and long shots of the painted trains' journeys above the outer boroughs and past illegal Manhattan murals tell a tale without a word. Manfred Kirchheimer's restraint is masterful, as is the soundtrack of Aretha Franklin and Charles Mingus.<br/><br/><a href="">The LA Weekly sang high praises</a> for the film years ago, noting that "questions are gently raised on the ways in which public space is used, and how the 'outlaw' expression of graffiti and the world of corporate advertising influence one another." A conversation with Kirchheimer will immediately follow the screening. Graffiti heads, hip-hop scholars, and cinephiles should all take advantage; the doc is a timeless capsule of the city's art and social strife.<br/><br/><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//" width="640"></iframe><br/><br/><em>Thursday, Aug 14th, 6:30 p.m. // <a href="">Museum of the City of New York</a> // <a href=";pid=238262&amp;eid=1067074&amp;evd=8/14/2014&amp;evt=18%3A30%3A00&amp;pvt=mcny">Tickets $12-16</a></em>

<br/><br/>The <a href="">chance to bike naked with others</a> has flown by, but if two-wheelin' hotties make you swoon then pedal down to the <strong><a href="">Bicyclists' Ball</a></strong> on Saturday, August 14th. The <a href="">Transportation Alternatives</a>-sanctioned soiree will bring cyclists together on the dance floor for a night of music, bike talk, and unlimited wine and beer. Pedestrians are also welcome! <br/><br/>No dress code is required, but <em>c'mon</em>, there'll never be a better chance to put that <a href="">tuxedo onesie skinsuit</a> to good use! And the first few lucky socialities to arrive can utilize a bike valet. Biking is wonderful. Dancing is wonderful. Everything is possible. Change lanes. Change gears. Bike safe. Cut a rug. Find love. Don't salmon.<br/><br/><em>Thursday, August 14th, 7-10 p.m. // <a href="">Roulette</a>, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn // <a href=";id=101221&amp;view=Tickets&amp;autologin=true&amp;pw_id=3181&amp;utm_source=2014BallPostcard&amp;utm_medium=print&amp;utm_content=version1&amp;utm_campaign=2014MBR%20Event%20Promo">Tickets $15-40</a></em>


<br/><br/>"This is the story of a man, marked by an image from his childhood," begins Chris Marker's 1962 masterpiece <em><a href="">La Jetee</a></em>. Thanks to BamCinematek, August also brings New Yorkers the story of a director marked by images of his influential career. <strong><a href="">The Chris Marker retrospective</a></strong> begins on August 15th and, in addition to <em>La Jetee</em>, it includes a newly restored DCP projection of <em><a href="">Level Five</a></em> never before released in North America.<br/><br/>While <em>La Jetee</em> is the best time travel movie ever made (gauntlet thrown, <em>Back to the Future</em>!), Marker is also concerned with subjects that exist in "reality." But what actually separates our reality from illusion? In cinema, it is always a thin line; in Marker's films, it's even thinner. Search for your own answer in some of the not-to-be-missed "essay films" including <em><a href="">Le Joli Mai</a></em>, <em><a href="">Remembrance of Things to Come</a></em>, <em><a href="">Grin Without a Cat</a></em>, <em><a href="">Far From Vietnam</a></em>, and <em><a href="">Sans Soleil</a></em>. <em>(Jeva Lange)</em><br/><br/><em>August 15th-28th // <a href="">BAMcinematek</a> // <a href="">Tickets $14</a></em>

<br/><br/>Put your two semesters of architecture courses to good use and hit the <strong><a href="">Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest</a></strong> August 16th. The competition goes beyond the typical castle format and rewards sculptors who get avant-garde with their pail and shovels. The entire day has a family focus with food, live music, and a donation fund dedicated to households still grappling with post-Sandy destruction.<br/><br/>While the contest is meant for amateur sand-shapers, a roster of seasoned pros will also be on site proving just how dynamic the average beachfront can become. Registration begins at noon; after that you'll have three hours to finish your capolavoro.<br/><br/><em>Saturday, August 16th, 12-4:30 p.m. // <a href="">Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk</a>, West 10th-West 12th Streets, Brooklyn // <a href="">Free</a></em>

via lornagrl's flickr

<br/><br/>The wheels are in motion. The stars are aligned. <strong><a href="">Blood Orange's free Central Park show</a></strong> has "concert of the summer" written all over it. The man behind the music is Dev Hynes, a recent legend of the city's music scene with ties to Texas, the UK, and Guyana. His music grooves so hard it glides: a perfect blend of Prince's brainiac funk and the echo-drenched bounce of Jamaica's Grace Jones. Blood Orange as a band plays it hard, fast, and heavy; Hynes's deft studio productions become sweat-drenched <em>ordeals</em> on stage. With special guests promised and scat-looping prodigy<a href=""> Moses Sumney</a> set to open, the night should sit kingly atop your live music to-do list. Doubters are directed to the glimmering serpentine voodoo herein:<br/><br/><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//" width="640"></iframe><br/><br/><em>Sunday, August 16th, 7 p.m. // <a href="">Central Park Summerstage</a>, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park // Free</em>

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<br/><br/>Every August 15th, Indians the world over celebrate their nonviolent triumph over British rule and the nation's rise out of colonial subjectivity toward independence. There's no better way to mark such an occasion than a parade, and that's exactly what's going down. <strong><a href="">The New York City India Day Parade</a></strong> will bring saffron, white, and green to a 15 block span of Madison Avenue as thousands march in celebration. Giant floats, market stands, and all the great food you could ever ask for will be gathered at various points along the way of what has become the biggest India Day parade in the world. Near the parade's end a series of programs will begin, live Bollywood concert included.<br/><br/><em>Sunday, August 17th, 11 a.m. // Madison Avenue between E 38th St. and E 23rd St. // <a href="">Free</a></em>

via FIA NY NJ CT facebook

<br/><br/>Year after year New York's incomparable dance scene goes sorely under-appreciated by the masses. The city is the axle that turns the dance world's wheel, and to let summer go by without taking in at least one performance would be a shame, a waste, a failure. <strong><a href="">The Downtown Dance Festival</a></strong> will give New Yorkers the chance to check out genres that range from folk to modern to classical ballet, and this year's schedule features dances from <a href="">Nimbus Dance Works</a>, <a href="">Battery Dance Company</a>, and <a href="">Dorrance Dance</a> amongst others. Each night closes with some audience participation, so bring some flats and a date who's got rhythm.<br/><br/><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"></iframe><br/><br/><em>Sunday-Thursday, August 17-21, 6-8 p.m. // <a href="">Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park</a>, Manhattan // <a href="">Free</a></em>

via facebook/Darial Sneed

<br/><br/>There's no better proof of Wes Anderson's powers of enchantment than the tale of Royal, Richie, Margot, Chas, and Ethel. <strong><a href="">Central Park will host an outdoor screening of <em>The Royal Tenenbaums</em></a></strong> on August 19th, giving you just enough time to brush up on your Nick Drake and press your best plaid pair of trousers. Age has been kind to the film, which is worth rewatching if only to realize just how many scenes feature a hidden Pagoda in the background. The New York City of Anderson's script is a slightly-less-than-real one, but it really doesn't matter; "Tenenbaums" is a knotted-up love story of and in Manhattan, and we wouldn't trade the Gypsy Cabs or 375th Street Y for anything in the world. Bring a friend with a patchwork quilt and enjoy it all in the friscalating dusklight.<br/><br/><em>Tuesday, August 19th, 8 p.m. // <a href="">Nell Singer Lilac Walk</a>, Central Park, (Mid-Park at 69th Street just north of Sheep Meadow) // <a href="">Free</a></em>

<br/><br/>Every New York City summer breathes its last under the megawatt lights of the <strong><a href="">U.S. Open</a></strong>. And even though the World Cup drowned out much of the summer tennis season, tickets for the matches at Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong Stadiums will still be in high demand. That's why we recommend getting an early glimpse of the action and heading to Flushing Meadows for the <strong><a href="">Open's qualifying tournament</a></strong>, which plays out over three days just before the Grand Slam begins. <br/><br/>You won't catch Nadal, Djokovic, Kvitova, or Williams in the heat of cross-court battle (top ranked players automatically make the Open), but you will get a chance to take in world-class tennis at the perfect price: all of these prelims are free. Qualifier matches are held at the field courts of the USTA National Tennis Center and are your best chance at avoiding the courtside "Connecticut license plates and very green lawns" crowds that <a href="">weirded out David Foster Wallace way back when</a>.<br/><br/><em>Qualifier Tournament: Tuesday-Friday, August 19-22nd, 10 a.m. // <a href="">USTA National Tennis Center</a>, Flushing Meadows, Queens // Free</em><br/><br/><em>U.S.Open: Monday-Monday, August 25th-September 8th // <a href="">USTA National Tennis Center</a>, Flushing Meadows, Queens // <a href="">Tickets $70-500+</a></em>

via woodendesigner’s flickr

<br/><br/>This month, the New York Historical society takes a stab at defining our ever-elusive city. Opening August 22, <strong><a href="">Selections from A History of New York in 101 Objects</a></strong> will present an array of landmark items that tell the story of NYC. The selection is a sampling of <em>New York Times</em> urban affairs correspondent Sam Robert's new book,<em> A History of New York in 101 Objects</em>. <br/><br/>So what defines us? The curated list includes a Tiffany's and Co. sterling silver controller handle used on the first subway train in 1904, a Civil War draft wheel from 1863 that kicked off draft-lottery riots, and dust from the World Trade Center. New York's history has a sense of humor too: in the mix is a bright pink rubber Spaldeen ball for street play, those black-and-white cookies ubiquitous to delis and bakeries, and, of course, a bagel...from the year 1900. <em>(Shayla Love)</em> <br/><br/><em>Opens Friday, August 22nd // <a href="">New York Historical Society</a>, 170 Central Park West // <a href="">Museum Admission $6 (Kids)- $19 (Adults)</a></em>

via NYHS facebook

<br/><br/>The Brooklyn-bred <strong><a href="">Afropunk Festival</a></strong> might be the most important sonic gathering of the summer. With its free/donation-based ticketing system, top-tier hip-hop, R&amp;B, and electro, plus a massive indie vendor market, the weekend-long jamboree offers a taste of both fringe and famous. This year its planners took the ultimate musical gamble, putting soul's elusive emporer D'Angelo atop the bill. Finally semi-comfortable with his return to public life, D'Angelo has turned out some <a href="">absurdly funky performances,</a> and also <a href="">cancelled on some major venues</a>. <br/><br/>But with <a href="">Meshell Ndegeocello</a>, <a href="">Lianne La Havas</a>, <a href="">Shabazz Palaces</a>, <a href="">SZA</a>, and <a href="">THEESatisfaction</a> all rounding out the bill, even the worst of D dramas couldn't ruin this weekend. All you skateboarders and sartorialists, gourmands and groove-lovers, punks and poets can check out the full roster of music acts <a href="">here</a>.<br/><br/><em>Saturday-Sunday, August 23-24</em> // <a href="">Commodore Park, DUMBO, Brooklyn</a> // Tickets:<a href=""> Free (GA) - $225 (VIP)</a><em></em>

via Afropunk facebook

<br/><br/>Sometimes there's a man, well, he's the man for his time time and place. That man is The Dude, the time is now, and the place is <strong><a href="">Lebowskifest 2014</a></strong>. This year's commemoration of the Coen brothers' comedic coup will include all of the requisite what have yous: bowling at Manhattan's Lucky Strike, costume and trivia confrontations, live music (Autobahn technopop unconfirmed), and of course a screening of <em>The Big Lebowski</em> at the Gramercy Theater. Fans are encouraged to blast some Credence tapes, dress up, and down White Russians during the two-day celebration of what might be the most glorious and quotable film of the '90s.<br/><br/><em>Friday-Saturday, August 22-23 // <a href="">Lucky Strike</a>, 624-660 W 42nd St; <a href="">The Gramercy Theater</a>, 127 E 23rd St // <a href=";eventId=5119775&amp;pl=banner">Bowling party tickets $25-30</a> // <a href="">Movie party tickets $20-25</a></em>

Over the line! (Katie Sokoler/Gothamist)

<br/><br/>Modern day Brooklyn is <a href="">all about surrendering</a>, but in 1776 the borough put up a fierce fight. The Revolutionary War's Battle of Brooklyn, (the largest battle of the entire war, troops-wise) saw the British and George Washington's Continental Army clash for a week straight. Despite his durable wooden teeth, Washington never had a chance thanks to a batch of new recruits that proved to be undisciplined, too young, and terrible with rifles. Eventually surrounded and pinned down in Brooklyn Heights, Washington somehow managed to ferry 9,000 soldiers back to Manhattan in a single night without any American casualties. From there the army retreated toward Pennsylvania and readied for the impending British pursuit. <br/><br/>All of this minutemen militia mishegas will be <strong><a href="">reenacted in Brooklyn Bridge Park</a></strong> on August 23rd, complete with authentic uniforms and canons firing dummy explosives. It's guaranteed to be a treat for both history buffs and fife enthusiasts alike; last year's reenactment at Greenwood Cemetery drew over 1,000 patriotic onlookers.<br/><br/><em>Saturday, August 23rd, 12 p.m. // <a href="">Brooklyn Bridge Park</a> // <a href="">Free</a></em>

via thoth1618's flickr