Free This Week


by Alyssa Grossman, 10/09/2013

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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.

October 9–15

Wednesday, October 9
Book Launch: How to Read a Novelist by John Freeman
Where: powerHouse Arena 
When: 7–9pm
John Freeman, literary critic and past editor of Granta magazine, joins fellow author Geoff Dyer to discuss his latest book, How to Read a Novelist. Over a 13-year span (2000–2013), Freeman conducted interviews with some of the brightest lights in the literary world, including Norman Mailer, David Foster Wallace, John Irving, Philip Roth and Toni Morrison. How to Read a Novelist contains 55 of his profiles and interviews that, woven together, give readers an in-depth look at the writers' lives and work. Freeman's storied career has included contributions to more than 200 publications, including The New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal as well as books of nonfiction and poetry. An RSVP is recommended by emailing or by filling out a form on the event page. 

Thursday, October 10
Kate Stiassni: Spaces in Between: Contemporary Textiles
Where: Art Quilt Gallery 
When: 11am–6pm
The highly specialized Art Quilt Gallery showcases a rotating selection of artists throughout the year. The gallery's current show features the work of Kate Stiassni, a Connecticut-based artist who dyes fabrics to create striking geometric designs that incorporate bold punches of color. Stiassni, whose diverse background includes stints as a journalist, designer and builder, credits her New York City and Connecticut surroundings as sources of inspiration for her vibrant abstract pieces. Spaces in Between will be on display at the Chelsea gallery through October 19. 

Friday, October 11
Have Your (Batter) Cake & Eat It, Too: a 19th-Century Food Tasting
Where: Merchant's House Museum
When: 2–4pm
Performance-artist-turned-chef Marja Samson first made her mark on the New York City culinary scene in the 1980s when she started the Kitchen Club, an underground prix-fixe weekly dinner for friends on the Lower East Side that eventually grew into the Japanese-European fusion eatery of the same name. Though Samson closed the restaurant in 2010, the Dutch native continues to assert her colorful personality through television and radio appearances, a catering company and courses in cooking (she's known as the "Dumpling Diva"). Samson will show off her kitchen know-how at the Merchant's House Museum in this ode to 19th-century baked goods. She'll be whipping up lemon cream and batter cakes, said to be the preferred teatime snack of Thomas Jefferson. Before or after the confectionary lesson, guests can explore the Merchant's House Museum on a free, self-guided tour.  

Saturday, October 12
MJM CAFé: Culture & Arts Festival
Where: Morris-Jumel Mansion
When: 10am–6pm
Now in its third year, the Morris-Jumel Mansion's Culture & Arts Festival stages a day packed with local pride. Last year, the Washington Heights museum drew over 700 guests who stopped by for food, music, arts and crafts celebrating one of Manhattan's northernmost neighborhoods and the surrounding areas of Harlem, Inwood and the Bronx. The event will provide a wide range of cultural offerings from City-based artists. 

Sunday, October 13
Where: Locations citywide
When: Times vary
One October weekend a year, New York City's rarely seen spaces open their doors to the public for two days of arts, culture, history and stunning architecture. The 11th annual celebration features tours, talks and performances at historic landmarks, the newest green designs and all kinds of other locales; events this year include a Kings County Distillery tour, a behind-the-scenes look at the Museum of the City of New York's Digital Lab and an exploration of Victorian-era Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens, Queens. The weekend will also bring a series of OHNY Kids tours and workshops for families. 

Monday, October 14
Columbus Day Parade
Where: Fifth Avenue, from 47th Street to 72nd Street
When: 11:30am–3pm
Secure a spot along Manhattan's Fifth Avenue for a family-friendly celebration filled with colorful floats and rousing musical performances. The parade honors Italian-Americans' contributions to New York City and draws around million spectators and 35,000 marchers. The parade travels from 47th Street to 72nd Street and will have marching bands along its length, but stage acts take place on a "red carpet" area between 68th and 69th Streets—special passes are needed to get up close. 

Tuesday, October 15
The Greatest 3-Minute Food Service Stories Ever
Where: Housing Works Bookstore Cafe
When: 7pm
Even the most successful among us had to start earning a paycheck somewhere, and the food-service industry has long been a popular though sometimes thankless way to go, whether it's bagging burgers at a fast-food joint or busing tables for the insufferably hip at a cacophonous café. Though far from glamorous, the experience tends to leave workers with at least a few amusing (sometimes horrifying) anecdotes—many which involve the unsavory and unsanitary. For this installment from Vol. 1 Brooklyn, 12 former food workers will gather at Housing Works to share their stories in 180 seconds each. An eclectic lineup of guests includes the creator of the Soundtrack Series, Dana Rossi; Judy Berman, editor in chief of Flavorwire; and Vulture associate editor Jesse Fox. 

related venues/(4)

  1. 1
    powerHouse Arena
    37 Main St.
    Multiple Locations
    NY 11201
  2. 2
    Merchant's House Museum
    29 E. 4th St.
    Manhattan – Greenwich Village
    NY 10003
  3. 3
    Morris-Jumel Mansion
    65 Jumel Terr.
    Manhattan – Washington Heights
    NY 10032
  1. 4
    Housing Works Bookstore Cafe
    126 Crosby St.
    Manhattan – SoHo
    NY 10012

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