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


J-Lounge Stage (photo by Jason Gardner)

J-Lounge Stage at Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a great place to both party and relax (photo by Jason Gardner)

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
900 Washington Ave. at Eastern Parkway
Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1, $20-$25 (children under twelve free), 10:00 am - 5:30 pm

Spring appears to finally have arrived, and that means it’s time 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, Ikebana flower arranging, a bonsai exhibit, Shogi chess, garden tours, the Mataro Ningyo Doll Museum, book signings, Japanese food, clothing, pottery, wall scrolls, kimonos, lots of children’s activities, and more. Below are ten daily featured highlights of this always lovely party, with many events going on all day long and over both days.

Saturday, April 30

Book signing: Kate T. Williamson, A Year in Japan, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 11:00

Ukiyo-e Illustration Demonstration with Jed Henry, Art Alley, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 11:00 & 2:00

The Battersby Show: Cosplay 101, with Charles Battersby, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 11:30

Manga Drawing with Misako Rocks!, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 12 noon, 1:15, and 3:00

Sohenryu Tea Ceremony, with tea masters Soumi Shimizu and Sōkyo Shimizu, BBG Tea Center Auditorium, 12:15 & 2:45

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

Book signing: Abby Denson, Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats and Ramen, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 3:00

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

BBG Parasol Society Fashion Show, featuring live music by the Hanami Ensemble, Main Stage, Cherry Esplanade, 4:30

Yuzu’s Dream: An Urban Folk Odyssey, with Yuzu, Akim Funk Buddha, and his Origami Dance Crew, Main Stage, Cherry Esplanade, 5:15

Sunday, May 1

Japanese Garden Stroll, 10:00 am

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

KuroPOP dance party, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 12:45

Stand-up Comic Uncle Yo, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 1:15 & 3:00

Samurai Sword Soul, Main Stage, Cherry Esplanade, 2:00

Takarabune Dance, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 2:00

Book signing: Rumi Hara, The Return of Japanese Wolves, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 3:00

Colossal Origami, with Taro Yaguchi, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 3:45

Sohenryu Tea Ceremony for Families, with Soumi Shimizu and Sōkyo Shimizu, BBG Tea Center Auditorium, 4:15

The Seventh Annual Sakura Matsuri Cosplay Fashion Show, with original music by Taiko Masala, Main Stage, Cherry Esplanade, 5:15


brunch eats

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
12th Ave & West 46th St.
Wednesday, May 11, $60-$85, twenty-one and over only, 8:00 - 11:00

In an 1895 article in Hunter’s Weekly entitled “Brunch: A Plea,” British writer Guy Beringer suggested a new cure for the hangover: “Instead of England’s early Sunday dinner, a post church ordeal of heavy meats and savory pies, why not a new meal, served around noon, that starts with tea or coffee, marmalade and other breakfast fixtures before moving along to the heavier fare? By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday, brunch would make life brighter for Saturday-night carousers. It would promote human happiness in other ways as well. Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting. It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, and it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.” The Village Voice is putting Beringer’s idea into use with its inaugural Brunch Eats, a “breakfast-for-dinner” event that completes its foodie hat trick that already features the annual Choice Eats and Choice Streets. On May 11 at 8:00, more than twenty local eateries will be serving their unique takes on the breakfast-lunch mashup known as brunch at night, on board the flight deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. So far, the following restaurants have been announced, with more to come: Butter & Scotch, the Black Ant, Calle Dao, Le Fond, Nha Minh, Osteria Cotta, Streets BK, and Underwest Donuts; there will also be special libations and live music. These events tend to sell out in advance, so act now, especially if you want the VIP treatment; general admission is $65, while $85 VIP tickets include a gift bag and access to the Space Shuttle Pavilion. “Brunch, for me, is an extended breakfast that should be enjoyed whenever you have time properly to engage in cooking and eating,” British chef Yotam Ottolenghi has explained. On May 11, you’ll be able to extend your brunching well into the night.


Lon Chaney Jr. does some terrible things in 1941 horror classic

Lon Chaney Jr. does some terrible things in 1941 horror classic

THE WOLF MAN (George Waggner, 1941)
Nitehawk Cinema
136 Metropolitan Ave. between Berry St. & Wythe Ave.
Saturday, March 26, and Sunday, March 27, 11:45 am

The third jewel in Universal’s horror crown (following 1931’s Dracula and Frankenstein), The Wolf Man stars Lon Chaney Jr. in his signature role, the goofily charming Larry Talbot, who just happens to have a problem on certain evenings when there is a particularly bright, full moon. Talbot has returned home to the family mansion after the sudden death of his brother, who appeared to have been mauled by some kind of wild animal. Reunited with his erudite father, Sir John (The Invisible Man’s Claude Rains), Larry quickly gets the hots for local antiques dealer Gwen Conliffe (Evelyn Ankers), but when their first date involves the tragic death of Gwen’s friend Jenny (Fay Helm) and Bela the Gypsy (Bela Lugosi), Larry becomes a suspect in the murders. And when he keeps waking up with ripped clothing and blood on him, he begins to think that maybe he has indeed done some very terrible things. The Wolf Man is the only one of Universal’s three primary horror classics that is not based on a popular novel; instead, Curt Siodmak wrote a fascinating original script that delves deep into the psyche of its protagonist, whose physical and mental transformation echoes the rage inside us all. The all-star cast also features Ralph Bellamy as Colonel Montford, the town constable; Patric Knowles as Frank Andrews, Gwen’s fiancé; and the great Maria Ouspenskaya as the mysterious Gypsy woman Maleva. The Wolf Man might not have the chills and thrills of Dracula and Frankenstein, but it still more than holds its own after all these years. (Oh, and if you’re expecting the famous scene when Chaney’s face goes all hairy, that actually occurs in the sequel, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.) The Wolf Man is being shown at 11:45 am on March 26 & 27 in the Nitehawk Cinema series “Nitehawk Brunch Screenings” and “March Midnite & Brunch: Bark at the Moon,” which also includes Joe Dante’s The Howling on March 25 & 26 at 12:15 am.


Food purveryors await the annual massive crush at the Choice Eats food festival at Metropolitan Pavilion  (photo by twi-ny/ees)

Food purveyors await the annual massive crush at the Choice Eats food festival at Metropolitan Pavilion (photo by twi-ny/ees)

Metropolitan Pavilion
125 West Eighteenth St. between Sixth & Seventh Aves.
Friday, March 11, $70 - $90, 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Spending Friday night feasting on interesting, innovative fare is not unusual in New York, but tasting signature dishes from more than sixty restaurants, with complimentary craft beer, liquor, and wine pairings, all in one place, certainly is. Doing it for one price, without ever needing to hail a cab or get an Uber? That’s one of the many benefits of attending Village Voice Choice Eats, and it’s probably why VIP ($99, 6:00), Early Entry ($85, 6:30), and General Admission ($70, 7:00) tickets to this super-popular once-a-year event are now sold out. Once inside, you will find healthy samples of dishes from Javelina Tex-Mex to Kailash Prabat, from Luke’s Lobster and Littleneck to Maima’s Liberian Bistro, as well as Awadh, Broken Spoke Rotisserie, Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue, Fonda, the Handpulled Noodle, Kuma Inn, Le Fond, Mable’s Smokehouse, the Meatball Shop, Meat Hook Sandwich Shop, No. 7 Veggie, Queens Comfort, Raclette, Socarrat Paella Bar, StreetsBK, Swine, and Veselka, washed down with Califia Farms coffee drinks, Union Beer, Tsingtao, Asahi, Stella Artois, Vita Coco water, Four Roses bourbon, and other beverages. And you can mix in desserts too, not necessarily saving them for the end; among your options are Butter Lane, Dough Handmade Artisanal Doughnuts, Robicelli’s, and Sugar Couture. Most of the chefs will be on hand and are only too happy to talk about their food and restaurant. And one of our favorite DJs, Delphine Blue, who hosts “The Rest Is Noise” on Wednesdays at noon on Little Water Radio, will be spinning tasty tunage throughout. Like all great New York events, it’s advisable to get your tickets early (we warned you back in mid-January) and be prepared to get in line; bring an empty stomach and an adventurous palate for one of the great food events of the year.


A desperate man (Daniel Day-Lewis) goes on a dark journey in Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic THERE WILL BE BLOOD

A desperate man (Daniel Day-Lewis) goes on a dark journey in Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Nitehawk Cinema
136 Metropolitan Ave. between Berry St. & Wythe Ave.
Saturday, March 5, and Sunday, March 6, 11:00 am

Daniel Day-Lewis gives a spectacular, Oscar-winning performance as an independent oil man in Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood. Day-Lewis, in remarkable voice, absolutely embodies Daniel Plainview, a determined, desperate man digging for black gold in turn-of-the-century California. His first strike comes at a heavy price as he loses one of his men in a tragic accident, so he adopts the worker’s infant son, raising H.W. (Dillon Freasier) as his own. The growth of his company leads him to Little Boston, a small town that has oil just seeping out of its pores. But after not allowing Paul Sunday (Paul Dano), the charismatic preacher who runs the local Church of the Third Revelation, to say a prayer over the community’s first derrick, Plainview begins his descent into hell. Using Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil! as a starting point (and employing echoes of Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons in addition to the obvious reference, George Stevens’s classic 1956 oil flick Giant), writer-director Anderson (Boogie Nights, The Master) has created a thrilling epic about greed, power, and corruption as well as jealousy, murder, and, above all, family, where oil gushes out of the ground with fire and brimstone. Robert Elswit’s beautiful, Oscar-winning cinematography is so gritty and realistic, audiences will be reaching for their faces to wipe the oil and blood off. The piercing, classically based score, composed by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, builds to a mind-blowing crescendo by the end of the film — which concludes with a controversial finale. Shot in the same location — Marfa, Texas — where Giant was set, There Will Be Blood is an unforgettable journey into the dark heart of one man’s soul. There Will Be Blood is being shown March 5 & 6 at the rather ungodly hour of eleven in the morning as part of the Nitehawk Cinema series “Country Brunchin’” and “Nitehawk Brunch Screenings” and will be preceded by a live performance by New York duo Dökk Vetur. We don’t know if milkshakes will be available on the menu, but if they are, beware: Plainview can get rather thirsty. “Nitehawk Brunch Screenings” also features Joe Wright’s Hanna this weekend, followed next weekend by Rod Daniel’s Teen Wolf and Pierre Morel’s Taken.


freedom seder

Who: David Broza, Peter Yarrow, Michael Dorf, and more than a dozen other special guests
What: Sixteenth annual Downtown Seder
Where: City Winery, 155 Varick St. between Spring & Vandam Sts., 212-608-0555
When: Wednesday, April 13, $75-$135 ($25 surcharge for glatt kosher)
Why: A limited number of tickets will go on sale to the general public on Thursday, February 25, at 3:00 for the sixteenth annual Downtown Seder, aka the Freedom Seder, hosted by City Winery owner Michael Dorf. Among those performing at the interactive event, which is being held on April 13, nine days before the actual beginning of Passover, will be beloved Israeli musician David Broza and legendary American singer-songwriter-activist Peter Yarrow. Past participants have included Al Franken, Harvey Fierstein, Lewis Black, Dr. Ruth, Judy Gold, Lou Reed, Neil Sedaka, and many others. Tickets for VinoFile members go on sale two days earlier, at 3:00 today (February 23), so you’ll have to act quickly if you want to partake in the ritual about the Exodus from Egypt in one of New York’s best music venues. How can you go wrong with a setlist likely to include “Dayenu,” “Chad Gadya,” “Mah Nishtnanah,” and “The Ten Plagues”?


lunar new year 4714

Sara D. Roosevelt Park and other locations
East Houston St. between Forsythe & Chrystie Sts.
February 8-28, free - $200

Gōng xǐ fā cái! New York City is ready to celebrate the Year of the Monkey this month with special events all over town. The seventeenth New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival will explode in and around Sara D. Roosevelt Park on February 8 at 11:00 am, with live music and dance, speeches by politicians, drum groups, lion, dragon, and unicorn dancers making their way through local businesses, and more than half a million rounds of firecrackers warding off evil spirits and welcoming in a prosperous new year. Also on February 8, China Institute will host “A Taste of Chinese New Year” (free, 12 noon - 5:00 pm) featuring Mandarin classes, a China Ink workshop, and more; on February 13 (free, 12 noon - 5:00), China Institute invites everyone back for a family celebration including lion dances, kung fu demonstrations, arts & crafts, and dumplings.

The New York Philharmonic gets into the party spirit with Long Yu conducting a multimedia Chinese New Year Concert at David Geffen Hall on February 9 ($35-$110, 7:30) with violinist Maxim Vengerov and harpist Nancy Allen performing Li Huanzhi’s “Spring Festival Overture,” Chen Gang and He Zhanhao’s “The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto,” Kreisler’s “Tambourin Chinois,” and Tan Dun’s “Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women.” The Flushing Lunar New Year Parade takes place February 13 at 9:30. Dr. Hsing-Lih Chou has again curated a Lunar New Year Dance Sampler at Flushing Town Hall on February 14 (free, 12 noon). The seventeenth annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade and Festival will wind its way through Chinatown, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and Columbus Park on February 14 starting at 1:00, with cultural booths in the park and a parade with floats, antique cars, live performances, and much more from China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and other nations. The annual family festival at the Queens Botanical Garden is set for February 20 ($2-$4, 1:00 - 3:00). The New York Chinese Cultural Center will present a Lunar New Year program with folk dances, paper cutting, calligraphy, and lion dances at the Bronx Museum of the Arts also on February 20 (free, 2:00 - 4:00).

The Museum of Chinese in America celebrates the holiday with its annual Lunar New Year Family Festival on February 20 ($10, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm) with live music and dance, demonstrations and workshops, storytelling, arts and crafts, and more. One of our favorite restaurants, Xi’an Famous Foods, will be hosting a Lunar New Year Festival concert at Terminal 5 on February 20 ($60-$200, 5:30) with Far East Movement, Kimberley Chen, Soft Lipa, and Kina Grannis, benefiting Apex for Youth. There will be a Hao Bang Ah Monkey Puppet Show by Chinese Theatre Works, calligraphy workshops, a zodiac-themed scavenger hunt, and arts & crafts at the Prospect Park Zoo and the Queens Zoo on February 27-28 ($6-$8). And finally, the Lantern Festival is set for February 28 (free, 11:30 am - 3:30 pm) in Sunset Park on Eighth Ave. between Fifty-Third & Fifty-Fifth Sts.