This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


Japanese Folk Dance Institute of NY at Sakura Matsuri. Photo by Julie Markes. Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

The Japanese Folk Dance Institute of NY will return to annual Sakura Matsuri in Brooklyn (photo by Julie Markes / courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden)

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
900 Washington Ave. at Eastern Parkway
Saturday, April 29, and Sunday, April 30, $25-$30 (children under twelve free), 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

It’s still frightfully cold as May approaches, but perhaps spring will be in the air this weekend for one of the city’s most fabulous annual festivals, the Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The weekend celebrates the beauty of the blossoming of the cherry trees with live music and dance, parades, workshops, demonstrations, martial arts, fashion shows, a community bookstore, a bonsai exhibit, Shogi chess, garden tours, the Mataro Ningyo Doll Museum, book signings, giant origami, food, clothing, cosplay, kimonos, insect hotels, a Japanese market (Ito En, Minamoto Kitchoan, Royce’ and Raaka Chocolates, sushi pillows, tenugui wraps, handmade hair ornaments, Togei Kyoshitsu Ceramics), lots of children’s activities, and more. Among the guests are Runi Hara, Kate T. Williamson, Sophocles Plokamakis, Jed Henry, Rio Koike, Soumi Shimizu, Sōkyo Shimizu, Akim Funk Buddha, Jeremy Aaron Horland, J-Music Ensemble, and Tao Yaguchi. Below are daily featured highlights of this always lovely party, with many events going on all day long and over both days; advance tickets are required. To track the blooming of the cherries, check out the updates here.

Saturday, April 29

The Art of Kendama (wooden toys in motion), with Team KENYC and DJ Panic, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 11:00

Takarabune Dance: Awa Odori dance and narimono drum ensemble from Shikoku, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 12 noon

Dancejapan with Sachiyo Ito, Main Stage at Cherry Esplanade, 1:30

Ukiyo-e Illustration Demonstration with Jed Henry, Ink Alley at the Osborne Garden, 2:00

Stand-up Comic Rio: Rio Koike’s Tokyo Magic Show, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 3:15

Sohenryu Tea Ceremony, with tea masters Soumi Shimizu and Sōkyo Shimizu, BBG Tea Center at the Auditorium, 4:00

Hanagasa Odori flower hat procession, with the Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 4:00

Uhnellys indie rock, Main Stage at Cherry Esplanade, 5:15

Sunday, April 30

Japanese Garden Stroll, guided tour, Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, 10:00 am

Akim Funk Buddha’s Urban Tea Ceremony Unplugged, BBG Tea Center at the Auditorium, 12 noon

Kuni Mikami & East of the Sun, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 1:00

Sohenryu Tea Ceremony for Families, with tea masters Soumi Shimizu and Sōkyo Shimizu, BBG Tea Center at the Auditorium, 2:00

KuroPOP, J-pop dance party, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 2:30

Manga Drawing with Misako Rocks, the Osborne Garden, 3:00

NY Suwa Taiko Kids All Stars, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 4:15

The Eighth Annual Sakura Matsuri Cosplay Fashion Show, with hosts Becka Noel and Dhareza Cosplayza and original music by Taiko Masala, Main Stage at Cherry Esplanade, 5:15


this fight is our fight

Who: Elizabeth Warren
What: Author discussion on This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class (Metropolitan, April 18, $28)
Where: Union Square Barnes & Noble, 33 East 17th St., 212-253-0810
When: Tuesday, April 18, free, 7:00 (priority-seating wristbands given out to book purchasers starting at 9:00 am)
Why: “Washington works great for the rich and powerful who can hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists, but it is not working very well for everyone else,” Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren said in a statement about her new book, This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class (Metropolitan, April 18, $28). “America’s once-solid middle class is on the ropes, and now Donald Trump and his administration seem determined to deliver the knock-out punch. At this perilous moment in our country’s history, it’s time to fight back — and I’m looking for more people to join me.” You can join the populist politician, who made headlines in February when she was silenced by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell while reading a 1986 letter about attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions written by Coretta Scott King, when she launches her latest book at the Union Square Barnes & Noble on April 18 at 7:00. Wristbands will be given out beginning at nine o’clock that morning to people who have purchased a presigned copy of the book from that store. The event will feature a discussion but not an individual signing. The outspoken Warren, who considered a presidential run in 2016 and whose name has been bandied about as a potential candidate in 2020, has written such previous books as A Fighting Chance; Prosperity, Peace, Respect: How Presidents Have Mortgaged the People’s Agenda; and God Caesar and the Freedom of Religion: Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion. At Barnes & Noble, expect to see lots of attendees proclaiming, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”


Tuesday, April 11, Barnes & Noble Union Square, 33 East 17th St., 212-253-0810, free, 7:00
Thursday, April 13, Alamo Drafthouse Downtown Brooklyn, 445 Albee Square West, 718-513-2547, 8:00

On May 30, 2015, filmmaker, writer, artist, and provocateur John Waters, aka the People’s Pervert and the Prince of Puke, gave the commencement speech at the Rhode Island School of Design, offering his unique advice about life after college, telling the graduating students, “Go out in the world and fuck it up beautifully.” That talk has now been adapted into the eighty-page book Make Trouble (Algonquin, April 11, $14.95), featuring line drawings by Eric Hanson. On April 11, Waters, who has made such films as Hairspray, Female Trouble, and Pink Flamingos, will be at the Union Square Barnes & Noble for a conversation with Christopher Bollen, editor at large at Interview magazine and author of Lightning People and Orient. After the conversation, Waters will sign copies of Make Trouble and just about anything else fans bring, and he will pose for photos as well. Wristbands will be given out beginning at 9:00 that morning to people who have purchased the new book at that B&N. Then, on Thursday, April 13, Waters will head to the Alamo Drafthouse in downtown Brooklyn for a screening of his 1970 cult classic, Multiple Maniacs, preceded by a Q&A with Waters; a copy of Make Trouble comes with every ticket.


mocca fest 2017

Metropolitan West, West 46th St. between 11th & 12th Aves.
Ink48, 653 11th Ave. at West 48th St.
Saturday, April 1, and Sunday, April 2, $5

The 2017 MoCCA Arts Festival takes place this weekend at Metropolitan West, where more than four hundred artists will be displaying comics, cartoons, and animated works. Presented by the Society of Illustrators, the show will include the “Awards of Excellence” exhibit, selections from Drew Friedman’s “Heroes of the Comics,” and guests of honor Blutch, Cliff Chiang, Becky Cloonan, David Lloyd, Gene Luen Yang, and Friedman. Below are the special programs, being held at the nearby Ink48 Hotel.

Saturday, April 1
“Reading without Walls: Diversity in Comics,” with Gene Luen Yang, Damian Duffy, Hazel Newlevant, and Whit Taylor, moderated by Jonathan W. Gray, Garamond Room, 12:30

“Drew Friedman: Heroes of the Comics,” with Drew Friedman, Gary Groth, Al Jaffee, and Karen Green, Helvetica Room, 12:30

“Covering Trump: Steve Brodner and Edel Rodriguez in Conversation,” moderated by Steven Heller, Helvetica Room, 2:00

“Blutch in Conversation with David Mazzuchelli,” moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos, Garamond Room, 2:00

“Cliff Chiang Q+A,” moderated by Paul Levitz, Helvetica Room, 3:30

“Fit to Print: French Artists in the New York Times, with Lucie Larousse, Mayumi Otero, Eugène Riousse, Simon Roussin, and Raphael Urwiller, moderated by Alexandra Zsigmond, Garamond Room, 3:30

Sunday, April 2
“David Lloyd in the Spotlight,” with David Lloyd, moderated by Kent Worcester, Garamond Room, 12:30

“Teaching Comics Internationally,” with Jessica Abel, Guillaume Dégé, Ben Katchor, and Merav Solomon, moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos, Helvetica Room, 12:30

“Rutu Modan and David Polonsky in Conversation,” moderated by Tahneer Oksman, Garamond Room, 2:00

“RESIST!,” with Françoise Mouly and Nadja Spiegelman, Helvetica Room, 2:00

“Becky Cloonan Q+A,” moderated by Nathan Fox, Helvetica Room, 3:30

“Anthologies as Art: Kramers Ergot and Lagon,” with Sammy Harkham and Alexis Beauclair, moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos, Garamond Room, 3:30


Joseph Kosuth, “276 (On Color Blue),” neon tubing, transformer, and electrical wires, 1993 (© 2016 Joseph Kosuth / Artists Rights Society, New York. Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

Joseph Kosuth, “276 (On Color Blue),” neon tubing, transformer, and electrical wires, 1993 (© 2016 Joseph Kosuth / Artists Rights Society, New York. Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, April 1, free, 5:00 - 11:00

The Brooklyn Museum focuses on numerous aspects of the word “blue” in its April First Saturday program, “Beyond the Blues.” There will be live music and dance by the Martha Redbone Roots Project, Geko Jones and Chiquita Brujita with Fogo Azul and Aina Luz, the Brooklyn Dance Festival (with a workshop), and Queen GodIs with special guests; the pop-up poetry event “An Address of the Times” with Pamela Sneed, Heather Johnson, t’ai freedom ford, and Timothy Du White; a screening of Marcie Begleiter’s Eva Hesse, followed by a discussion with Helen Charash (Hesse’s sister) and producer Karen Shapiro; a hands-on art workshop in which participants can make marbled paper using the Japanese suminagashi (“floating ink”) technique; an Emerging Leaders of New York Arts booth where participants can write postcards in support of the arts, take part in a public art project, and take a #SaveTheNEA selfie; the lecture performance #sky #nofilter by Chloë Bass exploring racial trauma; and a “New York City Participatory Budgeting” program where people can propose and vote on projects in their community. In addition, you can check out such exhibits as “Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller,” Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty,” “Infinite Blue,” “A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt,” and, at a discounted admission price of $12, “Georgia O’Keefe: Living Modern.”


Word nerd Kory Stamper

Word nerd Kory Stamper will be at the Upper East Side B&N on March 28 to launch her new book

Barnes & Noble
2289 Broadway at 82nd St.
Tuesday, March 28, free, 7:00

We’ve been Kory Stamper groupies ever since we happened upon one of her “Ask the Editor” videos on YouTube nearly seven years ago. Since 2010, Merriam-Webster associate editor Emily Brewster, editor-at-large Peter Sokolowski, and associate editor Stamper have been making short videos delving into the etymology and usage of words and phrases, from the serial comma and “It is I vs. It is me” to weird plurals and “lay vs. lie.” In introducing her “harm·less drudg·ery | defining the words that define us” webiste in December 2011, Stamper, explained, “We might as well start this blog with a confession: I never planned on being a lexicographer.” Stamper has now written her first book, Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries (March 14, Penguin Random House, $26.95), in which she goes behind the scenes of how dictionaries are put together, making the most of her playful sense of humor. “Language is one of the few common experiences humanity has,” she writes in the preface. “Not all of us can walk; not all of us can sing; not all of us like pickles. But we all have an inborn desire to communicate why we can’t walk or sing or stomach pickles. To do that, we use our language, a vast index of words and their meanings we’ve acquired, like linguistic hoarders, throughout our lives.” Among the book’s chapters are “Hrafnkell: On Falling in Love,” “Irregardless: On Wrong Words,” “Bitch: On Bad Words,” and “Nuclear: On Pronunciation.” Describing her initial meeting with M-W director of defining Steve Perrault, who would become her boss, she remembers, “Apparently, neither of us enjoyed job interviews. I, however, was the only one perspiring lavishly. ‘So tell me,’ he ventured, ‘why you are interested in lexicography.’ I took a deep breath and clamped my jaw shut so I did not start blabbing. This was a complicated answer.” On March 28, you can join the ever-growing number of word nerds as they throng the Upper West Side B&N to venture even further (farther?) down the hallowed halls of M-W and hear from one of its superstars, there to share her inside info and regale all with her morphological magic.


cheech is not my real name but

Who: Cheech Marin, Geraldo Rivera
What: Discussion and book signing
Where: Barnes & Noble Union Square, 33 East 17th St., 212-253-0810
When: Wednesday, March 15, free, 7:00 (wristbands given out to book purchasers starting at 9:00 am)
Why: South Central-born Richard Anthony Marin, better know as half of the drug-based comedy team Cheech & Chong, will be at the Union Square B&N on March 15, celebrating the launch of his memoir, Cheech Is Not My Real Name . . . But Don’t Call Me Chong (Grand Central, March 14, $27). Cheech has made such movies with Tommy Chong as Up in Smoke, Nice Dreams, Things Are Tough All Over, and Still Smokin’, starred in the television show Nash Bridges with Don Johnson, and lent his talent to such children’s movies as The Lion King, Spy Kids, and Cars. At B&N, the actor, comedian, musician, and art collector will be discussing his life and career with controversial Emmy- and Peabody-winning journalist Geraldo Rivera. Wristbands will be given out starting at 9:00 in the morning to those with proof of purchase of the book at the Union Square B&N or B&N online; after the talk, Cheech will sign and personalize the new book only, no other paraphernalia or memorabilia.