One of my first jobs at Chronogram was as the event listings organizer. At a time in the not-so-distant past when e-mail was not yet a signature technological burden, the position consisted mostly of whittling down press releases (which arrived via the US Postal Service) to terse, pithy listings fit for quick scanning by readers looking for that elusive thing to do. It was good training for an editor-to-be, the act of making the maximal minimal while retaining the necessary information and summing up the event in just a few words.
It was good and useful work, too. Each month I knew that readers were counting on me for help. Not help like in a how-do-you-perform-an-emergency-tracheotomy way, but a certain type of aid nonetheless—a calendar concierge, if you will. The idea of service informed the name change we gave to the utilitarian Calendar of Events when we blew up to our current small tabloid size in 1999.
Televised weather reports have narrowed the connotation of the word “forecast” to mean something strictly meteorological, yet we boldly (and blindly and blithely) changed the name of the listings to the Forecast anyway. The concept of seeing into the future and reporting back what we saw, like the Oracle at Delphi, fueled our ambition. We’ve kept the name and the editorial strategy intact ever since. Our coverage, throughout the sections of the magazine, tends toward stories that have some connection with an event, something to do. Giving readers options for enjoying this earthly paradise we call the Hudson Valley has always been our marching order.
(Re earthly paradise: Just now, a little before 7am in late July, the sun creates a house-sized shadow on the trees in the backyard surrounded by a halo of Crayola yellow. The red-winged blackbirds chatter and clean their wings in the highest branches.)
As we pass the point of midsummer each year, I develop a neurotic mania that might be thought of as the distantly related diagnostic cousin to seasonal affective disorder. Right around August 1, I realize that summer is again slipping away and there’s so much left to check off the summer bucket list. (Thankfully, I already made it to the ocean and caught some performances—incredible as always, thank you Chloe Sevigny, Greg Kinnear, and the cast of “Fortress of Solitude”—at Vassar’s Powerhouse Theater.) So here are a dozen things I still hope to do, or have already done, and recommend for you before summer is over. I am your calendar concierge, at your service.
At this point, with the Rolling Stones still touring into their 70s, it’s difficult to separate the nostalgia from the rock `n’ roll in many cases. Luckily, for those of us who like our nostalgia pure, three shows will capture our memories of former musical relevance: Stone Temple Pilots on August 22 at Bethel Woods, Def Leppard at SPAC on August 21, and Asia on October 14 at UPAC in Kingston.
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
The setting doesn’t get more enchanted than inside the big tent on the grounds of Boscobel in Garrison. A summertime tradition you need to take up if you haven’t already, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival never disappoints. This year, “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” “Romeo and Juliet,” and an adaptation of Hitchcok’s “The 39 Steps” are staged in repertory. Through September 2.
Walkway Over the Hudson Full Moon Walk
If you haven’t been on the Walkway yet, I just don’t know what to say. If you have, what you most likely have not done is walk the bridge at night. On the night of the full moon during the clement months, Walkway hosts a late-night gathering for members. This month it’s August 30. A basic membership is just $40.
John Williams's 80th Birthday Concert at Tanglewood
Despite the tragic death of a man felled by a tree limb while leaving the James Taylor concert in early July, Tanglewood is still the most bucolic large venue around to enjoy classical music. The Boston Pops Orchestra is joined by Jessye Norman and Yo-Yo Ma on August 18 to celebrate the beloved composer’s birthday.
Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes
Jonathan Schwartz, who hosts two brilliant weekly shows devoted to the American Songbook on New York City’s NPR affiliate, WNYC, calls Bill Charlap one of the best jazz pianists working today. That’s enough of an endorsement for me. Charlap and his wife, Renee Rosnes, will play music for two pianos at Maverick Concerts on August 25. Cheryl K. Symister-Masterson previews the show "Charlap and Rosnes" here.
Hike Mount Beacon
It’s only a mile to the top from the trailhead off Route 9D, yet I’ve still not taken in the panoramic splendor that is the summit of Mount Beacon, once home to a dancehall and the early 20th century’s steepest funicular railroad, remnants of which still can be seen.
Take Me to the River
I don’t own a boat, so each year I must plot how I’m going to get out onto the waterway that gives this place its name. Being on the river is fundamentally different than being on shore. Time slows and perspective shifts, whether you’re on a 100-person booze cruise or paddling in a kayak. You can’t help but be changed by the water.
Cinema Al Fresco
Hyde Park and Poughkeepsie have drive-ins, Kingston and New Paltz have movies under the stars. (Richard Donner’s soft-focus Superman screens on August 17 at the former King’s Inn site in Midtown Kingston.) Bring a picnic, a blanket, and a loved one. Maybe you’ll work some movie magic of your own.
Bon Iver at Brewery Ommegang
Ommegang upped the ante on its programming this year when it partnered with Ithaca-based promoter Dan Smalls to bring serious contemporary musical acts like Wilco and Death Cab for Cutie to the brewery’s expansive grounds outside Cooperstown. Indie darling and 2012 Grammy winner Bon Iver plays on September 17.
“Dear Mother Nature” Exhibit
Curator Linda Weintraub has put together an exhibit of work by over 40 local artists at the Dorsky Museum that's as close to a regional biennial as we are likely to get. Through November 4. Faheem Haider reviews here.
Woodstock Fringe Festival of Theater and Song
They had me at “tiny ninja.” In 2006 Tiny Ninja Theater staged its abridged version of “Hamlet” at the Woodstock Fringe. Audience members were handed binoculars to follow the action of the one-inch plastic ninjas as the dithering prince charted his existential dilemma. This year, Rain Pryor, daughter to the comedian, performs her one-woman multiculti coming-of-age-show “Fried Chicken and Latkes.” Plus much else. August 11-September 2. Anne Pyburn previews here.
Dinner at Crimson Sparrow
The reason to go during the warm weather is to get a table in the interior courtyard, a quiet, leafy retreat off Warren Street in Hudson. Two protégés of chef wunderkind Wylie Dufresne are running the kitchen, which can be seen from the courtyard through large plate-glass windows. Peter Barrett reviews the chic new eatery here.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
In a preview of a number of farm dinners in our July issue, “Feasts of the Field,” we incorrectly identified the chef preparing the Seat at the Table banquet at the Poughkeepsie Farm Project. This year, the dinner was prepared by Ed Kowalski of Lola’s Café, not Sara Lukasiewecz of Red Devon.
Also in our July issue, in a profile of the communities of New Paltz and Gardiner, “Delicious and Daring,” we erroneously identified the now-defunct sweet shop Sweet. It was never located in the Water Street Market. Sweet, during its existence, was located on North Front Street. (Rumor has it that Sweet is reopening in August on Main Street, though this could not be confirmed.) There is a candy shop currently in the Water Street Market called Candy Candy. We regret the confusion this undoubtedly caused.