Free in NYC


by Erin O'Hara, 08/15/2012

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There's always something exciting to do and see around the five boroughs that doesn't cost a dime. See our weekly picks below, and visit our calendar and special offers section for more free events.

August 15–21

Wednesday, August 15
Hudson River Park's RiverFlicks for Grown-ups: Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Crazy, Stupid, Love., a film about love lost and found, has got something for everyone—but many of the ladies (and some of the fellas) needn't know more than "Ryan Gosling with his shirt off." OK, the film also features Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon and Hollywood's latest sweetheart, Emma Stone, being as adorable as ever. Combine all that with the sublime outdoor setting of the Pier 63 lawn and free popcorn, and you've got the stuff of movie magic. Not to mention narrative charm: as Cal (Carell) goes through a divorce, he solicits help wooing women from Jacob (Gosling), a mesmerizing ladies' man, who is thrown off his game when he meets and starts to fall in love with Hannah (Stone). The film puts more emphasis on the "comedy" than your typical rom-com, effectively making it more than just a chick flick. The screening starts at dusk, which usually arrives at around 8:30pm. 

Thursday, August 16
480 Pixels – An Exhibition of BrooklynVegan's Music Photography
Though it might sound like a borough-based food blog, BrooklynVegan is one of the best sources online for information, images, interviews and rumors relating to the indie music scene. The popular blog has been expanding its influence in recent years by hosting concerts and festival showcases, and now the burgeoning brand is reaching into the art world as well. BrooklynVegan's first gallery-based photo exhibition, 480 Pixels—a reference to the standard width used for photos on the blog—will feature some of the best music photography from the enterprise's history, shot by various staff photographers. The show, up through September 6, will also include artwork by Marissa Paternoster of the band Screaming Females. The opening reception begins at 6:30pm at 92YTribeca. (Screaming Females will perform later that evening, along with Hunters and Heliotropes, at 92YTribeca's Mainstage; doors open at 8pm, the show begins at 9 and tickets start at $12.)

Friday, August 17
Charlie Parker Jazz Festival
The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival has been a New York institution for two decades, and the organizers are pulling out all the stops for this year's 20th-anniversary celebration. The festival kicks off at 5pm on August 17 at the Whole Foods Market on the Upper West Side with a performance by the Sugar Hill Quartet. The night is a tribute to event namesake Charlie Parker and the neighborhood where jazz was born. Whole Foods might seem like a strange venue for a jazz concert, but the location used to be home to Mikell's, a legendary jazz club that hosted some of the scene's most influential musicians. If you can't make it on Friday, there are plenty of other opportunities to enjoy the fest's events all over the City, through August 26. 

Saturday, August 18
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Antibalas
Brooklyn natives Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings are no strangers to outdoor concerts. Summer in NYC seems incomplete without the group performing somewhere in the City. The band's smooth, bluesy tunes are perfect for soaking up a summer breeze with friends or a special someone. For this show, Jones and company are playing with Antibalas, a New York City–born orchestral Afrobeat band made up of about 14 world-class musicians who bring on the funk. The music starts at 5pm at Williamsburg Park. 

Sunday, August 19 
The Upright Citizens Brigade Presents the All-Stars of Improv
The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (UCB) is known as one of the premier comedy venues in the country, and improv is one of its specialties. Comedians have left its stage to perform and write for Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Office, Parks and Recreation, The Colbert Report and more. On August 19, the UCB is bringing back some of its most accomplished alumni for a one-night showcase. The all-star lineup will be performing onstage at 7pm at East River Park, completely off-the-cuff, making for an exhilarating spectacle.

Monday, August 20 
Write Out Front: A Playwright Happening
Sometimes there's nothing like intense pressure to help writers produce their finest work. That proposition will be tested during Write Out Front: A Playwright Happening, when 71 playwrights will each have two hours to produce a completed play. As if that weren't stressful enough, the writers themselves will be on a kind of stage—in this case, the window of The Drama Book Shop. Their computer screens will be projected for the gathered crowd to see, as they write, rewrite, edit, procrastinate and (perhaps) sob their way to a finished play during the 120-minute time slot. The write-a-thon stretches over three weeks, through September 1, as the cast of playwrights strives to craft their next big work of theatrical genius—or, if the muses don't come through, a more minor work. This is live theater not to be missed. 

Tuesday, August 21
Scarecrows Workshop with Thomas+Guinevere
Join Canadian artistic duo Thomas+Guinevere, also known as Thom Sokoloski and Jenny-Anne McCowan, at Socrates Sculpture Park for a special workshop. Through August 31, visitors are invited to join them daily as they design and construct a series of imaginative scarecrows using a variety of natural and found materials. The evocative figures will be inspired and informed by the diverse cultural—and even supernatural—history of Queens. During the Park's Halloween Harvest Festival, slated for October 20 this year, the towering scarecrows will be erected and illuminated throughout the venue to ward off negative energy and protect the creativity of the borough. (Surely, the birds will take pause as well.) Those who want to participate in the workshop must register beforehand.

related venues/(4)

  1. 1
    Whole Foods Market Upper West Side
    808 Columbus Ave
    Manhattan – Upper West Side
  2. 2
    50 Kent
    50 Kent Ave.
    Brooklyn – Williamsburg
    NY 11211
  3. 3
    East River Park
    Houston Street at FDR Drive
    New York – Lower East Side
  1. 4
    Socrates Sculpture Park
    32-01 Sculpture Park at Broadway
    Queens – Long Island City
    NY 11106

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