Who: Paul Giamatti, Jane Kaczmarek, Billy Porter, Kathryn Erbe
What: Paul Giamatti Curates Stories from the New York Review of Books
Where: Symphony Space, Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, 2537 Broadway at 95th St., 212-864-5400
When: Wednesday, December 7, $30 ($80 premium), 7:30
Why: For more than fifty years, the New York Review of Books has been exploring American culture, society, and politics, publishing articles by prominent writers from around the world. On December 7, Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning Brooklynite Paul Giamatti will be at Symphony Space for the latest edition of “Selected Shorts,” in which actors and other artists read specially chosen short stories. Giamatti will be curating the evening, choosing fiction from the collection of the prestigious New York Review of Books, a roster that includes W. H. Auden, Anton Chekhov, Saki, Daphne du Maurier, Elizabeth Hardwick, and so many others. “I go to the New York Review of Books for everything weird, wild, classic, and obscure,” the star of Sideways, John Adams, and American Splendor explains. “They’ve got one of the greatest collections of authors, past and present, on the planet.” Taking the stage to perform the works will be seven-time Emmy nominee Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle, Apollo 11), Tony winner Billy Porter (Kinky Boots, Shuffle Along), and Tony nominee Kathryn Erbe (Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Speed of Darkness). The program is being held in cooperation with the NYRB Classics, a series “dedicated to publishing an eclectic mix of fiction and nonfiction from different eras and times and of various sorts.”
New York Public Library
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Gallery
476 Fifth Ave. at 41st St.
Daily through December 31, free
So what would Alexander Hamilton himself have thought about the controversy surrounding the cast of Hamilton confronting incoming vice president Mike Pence during the curtain call at a recent performance of the hit musical at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway? It’s hard to know, as the current New York Public Library exhibit “Alexander Hamilton: Striver, Statesman, Scoundrel” reveals. Consisting of a densely packed amount of materials gathered from the library’s holdings, the exhibition focuses on the unpredictability of the Founding Father and his ever-evolving views as the new nation set its course. “Hamilton was at best a complicated hero and, at worst, an admirable scourge,” the wall text explains, pointing out several of Hamilton’s seemingly inconsistent beliefs involving states’ rights, finance, slavery, support of France, and the Constitution itself. “Alexander Hamilton: Striver, Statesman, Scoundrel” features letters, books, illustrations, and official documents from throughout Hamilton’s life and career, following him from Nevis-born orphaned immigrant to secretary of the Treasury to his death in a duel against political rival Aaron Burr. Among the books and papers on view are Hamilton’s “Plan of a Constitution for America,” his original draft of President George Washington’s Farewell Address alongside the final version, various pamphlets he published, newspaper articles he cowrote under pseudonyms, and a copy of The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, by Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. There are also engravings of Hamilton Grange, a look at his relationship with his wife, Eliza Schuyler, and her powerful family, and a wall mural of Hamilton and Burr dueling. There’s a lot to read and the room is very dark, so bring reading glasses if you have them. “How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a / Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten / Spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished, in squalor / Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?” Burr asks at the beginning of the Broadway musical. “Alexander Hamilton: Striver, Statesman, Scoundrel” provides a fascinating, if brief, investigation into that very question.
In 1924, a bunch of Macy’s employees joined forces and held the first Macy’s Christmas Parade, as it was then known. This year Macy’s celebrates the ninetieth edition of this beloved American event — for those of you going crazy trying to figure out how 1924 to 2016 makes 90, the parade was canceled from 1942 through 1944 because of World War II — with the publication of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: A New York City Holiday Tradition (Rizzoli, August 2016, $29.95). “This iconic and truly American event started on the streets of New York City in 1924 as a way for New York’s largely immigrant workforce employed at Macy’s department store to celebrate our national day of Thanksgiving in a manner befitting the customs of their native lands,” Governor Andrew Cuomo writes in the foreword. “Today, no other holiday event can match its large-scale pageantry, diversity, and place in pop culture. It could only have been created in New York.” The oversized hardcover features nearly two hundred photographs by Matt Harnick and the Macy’s Archives that reveal the before, during, and after of the parade through the decades, in color and black-and-white, from shots of the balloon creation in New Jersey to pictures of beloved characters marching down Fifth Ave. “Actual preparation for each year’s parade takes approximately eighteen months, with the construction of an individual float requiring anywhere from four to six months,” Stephen H. Silverman notes in his behind-the-scenes essay that introduces readers to many of the people responsible for making things happen, from sketching and designing balloons to arranging the celebrity list to dismantling floats once the parade is over.
“Most often the parade adequately reflects what is going on in American mass culture, news, and entertainment at the time,” parade executive producer Amy Kule tells Silverman. “We try to be nimble. What we can’t be is too cool or fashion-forward.” The 2016 lineup, which cannot be accused of being too cool or fashion-forward, features such giant balloons as Hello Kitty, Pillsbury Doughboy, and Charlie Brown, such floats as 1-2-3 Sesame Street, Mount Rushmore’s American Pride, and Cracker Jack’s At the Ball Game, and such performers as De la Soul, Fitz and the Tantrums, Regina Spektor, Tony Bennett, and Sara McLachlan. To get a start on the parade, head on over to Central Park West and Columbus Ave. between 77th & 81st Sts. the day before, November 23, from approximately 3:00 to 10:00 to check out the Big Balloon Blow-up.
Who: Maira Kalman
What: Book signing and pop-up store
Where: Julie Saul Gallery, 535 West 22nd St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves., sixth floor, 212-627-2410
When: Saturday, November 19, free admission, 3:30 - 6:00
Why: Artist Maira Kalman will be at Chelsea’s Julie Saul Gallery on Saturday for a special holiday shopping opportunity, signing copies of her books and various items made by M&CO., the design firm founded by her late husband, Tibor Kalman. Kalman, who was born in Tel Aviv and raised there and in the Bronx, will be personalizing copies of Hurry Up and Wait, Girls Standing on Lawns, My Favorite Things, Beloved Dog, and Weather, Weather; vintage watches, Elements of Style tote bags, postcards, Einstein pins, and handkerchiefs will also be available for purchase. As a bonus, the festivities will include sherry and cookies. And while at the gallery, be sure to check out the current exhibits, Andrea Grützner’s “Erbgericht/Guesthouse” and Sally Gall’s “Selections from Aerial.”
Who: Tony Bennett, Scott Simon
What: Author event
When: Monday, November 14, free, 7:00
Where: Barnes & Noble Union Square, 33 East Seventeenth St. at Union Square North, 212-253-0810
Why: Anthony Dominick Benedetto from Astoria, better known as Tony Bennett, may have turned ninety in August, but according to the title of his latest book, he’s Just Getting Started (HarperCollins, November 15, $27.99). In this follow-up to 2012’s Life Is a Gift, the ever-positive painter and crooner pays tribute to a wide range of people who have had an impact on him, including Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Cole Porter, Amy Winehouse, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lady Gaga, and Charlie Chaplin. On November 14, Bennett will be at the Union Square Barnes & Noble, in conversation with his cowriter, NPR host Scott Simon, author of such memoirs as Home and Away and Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime and the novel Pretty Birds. Wristbands will be given out beginning at 9:00 am for the 7:00 pm event, for those who purchase the book at that store; Mr. Benedetto will not be personalizing books, posing for photos, or signing any memorabilia. But just to be in the same room as that voice and smile. . . .
972 Fifth Ave. between 78th & 79th Sts.
November 2-6, free
The third annual Festival Albertine, a sociocultural exploration of identity in the United States and France, will take place November 2-6, featuring more than two dozen artists, writers, choreographers, lawyers, sociologists, and curators participating in seven free events at Albertine, a project of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the Payne Whitney mansion on Fifth Ave. at Seventy-Ninth St. This year’s festival, with a focus on changing labels, immigration, and the politics of race, is curated by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a writer for the Atlantic who won the National Book Award for what might very well be the most important nonfiction work of the last decade, Between the World and Me. Referencing James Baldwin’s 1972 memoir, No Name in the Street — Baldwin, like Coates, lived in both New York and Paris — Coates explained in a statement, “Baldwin was drawing a not-so-subtle comparison with his own identity as a black American. He was also doing something more — asserting the labels we use to ascribe identity are situational. The words ‘black,’ ‘Arab,’ ‘Muslim,’ ‘American,’ and ‘French’ are not bone-deep and immutable but categories that have no meaning outside of history and events. There is something both sanguine and challenging in Baldwin’s view. It proposes that conflicts between cultures are not inevitable but the result of policies and decisions. But it also puts responsibility on people, themselves, to make the requisite changes in policy.” Coates also points out the role the arts can play in politics, particularly during this fierce campaign season, explaining, “Art shapes the imagination and outlines the sense of what is possible. It is art that attacks and interrogates our labels and chosen names, and reduces us to our common humanity.” Among the wide range of participants are Kehinde Wiley, Jacqueline Woodson, Benjamin Millepied, Darryl Pinckney, Thelma Golden, David Simon, Catherine Meurisse, Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche, Scholastique Mukasonga, Chris Jackson, Denis Darzacq, and Zahia Rahmani. Admission is free, with no RSVP necessary. If you can’t make it to a specific discussion, you can livestream it here.
Wednesday, November 2
“When Will France Have Its Barack Obama?,” with Jelani Cobb, Iris Deroeux, Pap Ndiaye, and Benjamin Stora, moderated by Ta-Nehisi Coates, 7:30
Thursday, November 3
“From the Margins to the Mainstream: High Art vs. Low Art in France and the U.S.,” with Kelly Sue Deconnick, D’ de Kabal, Catherine Meurisse, and David Simon, moderated by Ta-Nehisi Coates, 7:30
Friday, November 4
“Blacklisted: From Hollywood to Paris,” with Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche, Claire Diao, and Nina Shaw, moderated by Kamilah Forbes, 7:30
Saturday, November 5
“Europe and America in the Black Literary Imagination,” with Laurent Dubois, Scholastique Mukasonga, Maboula Soumahoro, and Darryl Pinckney, moderated by Chris Jackson, 5:00
“Art, Race & Representation,” with Denis Darzacq, Kehinde Wiley, Thomas Lax, and Nacira Guénif-Souilamas, moderated by Thelma Golden, 7:30
Sunday, November 6
“Every Name in the Street,” with Raphaël Confiant, Zahia Rahmani, Claudia Rankine, and Jacqueline Woodson, moderated by Adam Shatz, 3:00
“Race, Equity, and Otherness in Ballet and Society,” with Virginia Johnson and Benjamin Millepied, moderated by Jennifer Homans, 5:30