This summer’s reading list comes in the form of beach reads, New York stories and the apocalypse

NEW YORK STORIES Eleanor Henderson's novel of coming of age in '80s New York, "Ten Thousand Saints" (6/7), has a literary edge as well as landmark sites (CBGB) and turning points (the emergence of AIDS). "The Astral" (6/14) is the apartment building in Greenpoint that a middle-aged poet is kicked out of after his wife of 30 years becomes convinced he's having an affair. Author Kate Christensen serves up a slice of faded bohemian life. Sapphire's "The Kid" (7/5) opens with 9-year-old Abdul Jones, Precious' son, ­attending her funeral. His job is to become a man now. "Rules of Civility" (7/21), by Amor Towles, is just saturated in the era of speakeasies and war jitters as a lowly secretary is swept into the upper reaches through her acquaintance with an upper East Side blue-blood multimillionaire. In Helen Schulman's "This Beautiful Life" (8/2), the Bergamots are enjoying a privileged life after moving to Manhattan until their 15-year-old son forwards a graphic video sent to him by a female student at his private school. Bad move, that. "The Submission" (8/2), by Amy Waldman, is searing and timely. A 9/11 widow is on a committee that unwittingly selects a Muslim-American to design the memorial to honor the victims. She defends the choice as the grieving families rage. "City of Promise" (8/9), a novel by ­Beverly Swerling, is set in New York's Gilded Age when real estate titan Joshua Turner and his from-the-bordello wife, Mollie, make their moves. "Girls in White Dresses" (8/19), by ­Jennifer Close, is a better-than-chick-lit tale of three bridesmaids summoned to the city for their friend's big day. NYC BETWEEN SOFT COVERS Water bottle. Check. Suntan lotion. Check. A paperback set in the city? Well ... "Girl in Translation" (out now) by Jean Kwok tells the story of Chinese immigrant Kimberly Chang, who emerges as a star student at a Brooklyn prep school while slaving in a sweatshop by night. Martha McPhee's "Dear Money" (now) Continue Reading

Caribbean Airlines debuts nonstop flights to Antigua from New York

Caribbean Airlines' service expansion in the area continues with its first twice-weekly, nonstop flight on Tuesday from New York to Antigua. The airline - which recently announced nonstop service between Tobago and the Big Apple - will begin the new service from JFK to Antigua's V.C. Bird International Airport with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday at JFK. The direct flights will run on Tuesdays and Fridays. Before the inaugural flight, Antigua Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture John Maginley and officials from the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority and Caribbean Airlines will brief the press and the travel industry representatives about the new service tomorrow in Manhattan. Maginley will also be touting Antigua and Barbuda's culture, climate, coral reefs, cuisine, carnival and other activities. Caribbean Airlines is offering competitive fares, discounts for seniors and children, an allowance of two free bags (not exceeding 50 pounds each) and creative pricing options. Customers can book online at or call the airline toll free at (800) 744-2225. Reggae coalition's big Kwanzaa fest The event will be held from 7 p.m. to midnight at the 310 Lounge, 310 Bowery (at First St.). The CPR's busy year included the launch of its "Real Talk" radio commentary on Culture Jam Radio (93.5 FM) on Tuesdays, the sixth production of the "Reggae Culture Salute" concert, the launch of two Internet radio shows - "Real Talk" on Thursdays and "Reggae Calling" on Saturdays, and a well-attended town hall meeting addressing concerns about violence and crime in Jamaica. The community appreciation event is free, and donations of educational supplies (pens, pencils, crayons, notebooks, markers etc.) for schoolchildren in Jamaica is encouraged. To RSVP for the event or get information, send email to [email protected] or call (718) 421-6927. Cocktails, music with HaitianBeatz.comEmeline Michel, the popular Carmi Continue Reading

New York City craft fairs – your go-to guide for unusual, handmade gifts

Who doesn't love a craft fair? They're knee-deep in bargains and one-of-a-kind gifts. Read on for the scoop on seasonal shop-a-thons, and meet some of the creative do-it-yourselfers who mill the hippest soaps in town, turn old bottles into charming terrariums, and do things with chocolate that are way beyond sweet. 3rd Ward Handmade ­Holiday Craft Fair Williamsburg, Brooklyn;3rd Ward Handmade Holiday Craft Fair, Brooklyn.Holiday Handmade Etsy? You should be. The online group of independent crafts sellers sponsors this craft-a-palooza. Expect an array of items, including felted jewelry, illustrations and hand-bound books.Nguyen Le, 28, who lives in Park Slope.Simone Tan, of Bay Ridge, concurs. Her newest product is a line of iPhone cases made from vintage skinny ties ($20). Tie clutches are $25 and handbags made of suits and sportcoats start at $ BUST Holiday CraftacularMetropolitan Pavilion, Los Angeles and London. This year, their fifth, promises 300 vendors, goodie bags, a raffle and demonstrations. Amy Sedaris will sign and sell her latest book, "Simple Times." Dave Ball and Mari Gustafson, of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, whose casual and distinct clothes can be seen at"Our latest collection looks like neo-Native American streetwear," says Ball, 41. "We silkscreen tribal patterns onto woven tees and tanks that we sew with American-made fabrics, and source everything we possibly can in NYC."Erica Bradbury, 33, BUST "is a perfect marketplace for companies like mine that are in this in-between territory of art, design, fashion and craft."Luca Cusolito, who lives in Jersey City.Candy Cane and Cannoli ($5). Gifted: A Holiday MarketWilliamsburg Savings Bank),Fort Greene, Brooklyn;Liz Gutman, 26, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. She has made a name for herself with seasonal and locally sourced candies, treats and sweets: like the Snacker (chocolate nougat and salted caramel with peanuts, $6.50), Beer & Pretzel Caramels (made with Continue Reading

New York Today: Free and cheap events, January 2 2011

Tunes for tots. Brooklyn-based musician Miss Nina entertains toddlers 3 and under with her signature pink guitar. 11 a.m. Free. Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton St. (718) 246-0200. Runaway chicks. Catch a screening of "Chicken Run," a Claymation film about chickens trying to escape a British barnyard. 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. $8-$11. Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, at 95th St. (212) 864-5400. HOP TO IT. Get the inside scoop on the famed Brooklyn Brewery's expansion and learn about its storied past with a 20-minute tour of the new space. 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. Free. 79 N. 11th St., Brooklyn. (718) 486-7422. "Treasure Trove." Examine artifacts left by Jewish immigrants living on the lower East Side and create a mezuzah to bring home. 1 p.m. $15 per family. Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge St. (212) 219-0888. Jazz for kids. Enjoy smooth tunes by the talented children of the Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra, directed by David O'Rourke. 1 p.m. $5 suggested donation. Jazz Standard, 116 E. 27th St. (212) 576-2232. Gizmos & gadgets. Visit this science playground for free on Sunday mornings. Continuing exhibits include "1001 Inventions," featuring gadgets by Muslim scientists from the seventh through 17th centuries. 10-11 a.m. Free admission. New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th St., Queens. (718) 699-0005. "Beauty and the beard." Cellist Steven Isserlis and other artists introduce kids to works by Brahms. Narrated by Judy Kuhn. 3 p.m. $18. 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave. (212) 415-5500. Free access. Get free admission to the Brooklyn Museum. Take the opportunity to check out artist Fred Tomaselli's unique hybrid paintings and collages, closing after today. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Free admission. Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway. (718) 638-5000. Snowy creations. Design and decorate a sparkling snowflake. 1, 2 and 3 p.m. $6. Staten Island Children's Museum, 1000 Richmond Terrace.(718) 273-2060. "Ceremony of carols." The Cathedral Choir of Continue Reading

‘Open House New York’ shows off city’s hidden, obscure and overlooked places

New York is a city of locked doors and velvet ropes. But not this weekend. Saturdayand Sunday, the city puts out its welcome mat with "Open House NewYork" - a five-borough event that offers entry into the city's hidden,obscure or simply overlooked places. An annual event now in itsseventh year, "Open House" gives access to hundreds of New Yorklandmarks, museums, businesses, parks and even private homes. And it'sall free. You may have to endure some long lines, and you'llcertainly take significant time surfing through a daunting mountain ofchoices. But it's worth it. Essentially, OHNY operateslike a five-borough treasure hunt, allowing participants to map theirown itineraries of the town's nooks and crannies. Even the event's morecommon places - like the New Museum or the lobby of the ChryslerBuilding - feature free, guided tours to school you in the spot's truevalue. But the greatest benefit of OHNY transcends the individualsights you spy. Only by wandering the town so freely can you bereminded that this city belongs to us all. Given the sheer numberof doors being flung open, OHNY can be overwhelming. With that in mind,here are tips to the spots of greatest intrigue. (For a full listing, go to STATEN ISLAND Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art 338 Lighthouse Ave./Richmond Road ; Sat. 1 to 4 p.m, Sun. 1 to 5 p.m. Designed to mimic a Tibetan monastery, this structure re-creates classic Himalayan architecture and features a wondrous warren of gardens. Boehm House 75 Arthur Kill Road/Richmond Road; Sat. and Sun. 1 to 5 p.m. This house from 1750 exemplifies old rural New York. The exhibit follows the steps of the restoration work, showing all the tools, and clues, needed to bring the space back up to snuff. The Noble Maritime Collection Snug Harbor Cultural Center 1000 Richmond Terrace; Sat. and Sun. 1 to 5 p.m. A key maritime study spot in the gorgeous Snug Harbor Cultural Center rates as a national Continue Reading

Events for Thursday April 16, 2009 in New York

Seal entertains at Radio City Music Hall. The soulful British singer scored hits with "Crazy" and "Kiss from a Rose" in the 90s, the latter of which earned him a Grammy. His most recent album, “Soul,” was released in November. 8 p.m.; $39.50-$119.50. 1260 Sixth Ave. (212-307-1000). Celebrate the 90th birthday of Merce Cunningham with a performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In honor of the legendary choreographer, attendees can catch the premiere of a piece performed by Sonic Youth and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones. $25-$65; 7 p.m. 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn. (718-636-4100). Bring the kids to see La Famiglia Dimitri, a Swiss-family circus troupe, performing at the Children's Museum of Manhattan's "Go Wild & Innovate Festival." The group is known for charming, old-fashioned circus clownery and stunts like juggling, acrobatics, and tight-rope walking. 2 p.m. & 3 p.m.; free with admission, $10. 212 W. 83rd St. (212-721-1223). The 12th annual Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Fair opens today at the Park Avenue Armory. Fans of the decorative arts, which include wood and glass sculpture, jewelry, pottery and metal work, can shop and meet dealers from 12 different countries. Through Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; $25. Park Avenue at 67th St. For more information, go to: Stop by the Vlasic booth at the Bronx Zoo's Earth Month Expo and take part in a pickle "crunch-off" for the loudest crunch. Vlasic will donate $1 to the Wildlife Conservation Society for everyone who joins in on the munching fun. Through Sat. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; free with admission, $11-$15. Bronx River Pkwy at Fordham Rd., Bronx. (718-367-1010). Author and activist Mike Lux is at Demos to discuss his new book, "The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be." In it, Lux defends the idea that the progressive movement has strengthened democracy in America and succeeded in its push for the New Deal, the Civil Rights Movement, women's Continue Reading

New York’s next funny ladies

Only a week after her prime-time hit "30 Rock" returns to TV, Tina Fey will hit the big screen in "Baby Mama," alongside fellow star comedian Amy Poehler. Count in one recent Vanity Fair cover and it's safe to say Fey is the reigning queen of comedy - and has at least temporarily stolen the spotlight from the Wilson/Stiller/Rogen fraternity that has dominated the form. New York's up-and-coming female comics can find plenty of inspiration in the resurgence heralded by Fey, Poehler, Kristen Wiig and Sarah Silverman, and for five women in the five boroughs, the stock character of the funny girl will never be relegated to the wings. JENN BARTELS Jennifer Bartels, 26, was born in North Carolina, but spent part of her childhood in Staten Island. After college, she moved back. "Staten Island has really played a part in the characters I pick to play," she says. "I'm big on playing, like, a Duane Reade employee that wants to get a pregnancy test or somebody that has a fight with Vinnie because he took her Honda." Bartels performs long-form improv comedy with her team, Twelve Thousand Dollars, at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, the place that launched the careers of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and other contemporary comic bigwigs. Bartels calls Fey, and others such as Poehler and Kristen Wiig, "new age," women who are both successful and attractive. "I think that stereotype of [the female comic in] the vest with the tie and the water has died down a bit," she says. Beauty and funniness haven't always gone hand in hand in pop culture, Bartels points out. She grew up aspiring to the princessy leading roles. "I always wanted to be the pretty girl," she says, "the one who's, like, 'Come, save me, please.' And I never got that. I was, like, 'Why am I playing the fat sister?' And I'm not fat at all." When she started reading for the comic parts, she began getting more work. These days, she can be found taking the Staten Island ferry in time for a Continue Reading

Summer’s Hot 100: What to do in New York all season long

As gas prices soar to all-time highs and the economy continues to suffer, getting out of the city for an extravagant summer vacation may be out of the question. Luckily, there's no need to leave. From the biggest names in summer concerts to seaside dining in Brighton Beach, and from Shakespeare in the Park to a dip in the 76-foot floating pool docked at Hunts Point, we've compiled the must-do list (including off-the-beaten path gems) for a great summer vacation right in your own backyard. Running Week takes the city by storm today through Saturday, with the New York Road Runners hosting free running-themed events and races, from fitness learning stations and the NYRR's 50th-anniversary race to Friday's Run to Work event, which challenges New Yorkers to cut their carbon footprints by pounding the pavement. The Open Air Book Fair this coming Saturday is a street fair with thousands of books, records and CDs for $1 apiece, plus clothing, shoes and accessories from the Housing Works Thrift Shop for $20 a bag. All proceeds benefit Housing Works which provides housing, health care and job training for New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS. Madison Square Garden takes a walk on the wild side with "Walking with the Dinosaurs," a live show from July 30-Aug. 3, based on the BBC series and featuring 15 life-size, roaring dinosaurs. Don't miss the thunderous T. rex, Utahraptor and stegosaurus - plus the brachiosaurus that measures 56 feet from nose to tail. Tix are $35-$99 at  Art by the Ferry on Staten Island displays more than 200 local artists' paintings, ceramics, crafts and sculptures on the sidewalks and in the storefronts of St. George, while musicians and dancers perform in the streets and in front of the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, the Staten Island Museum and Borough Hall. June 14, 15, 21; or (718) 447-3329. Rock 'n' Roll Camp at St. John's University in Queens starts June 29 and runs Continue Reading

New York City food festivals again are a rite of spring for your belly

From unlimited Bloody Mary tastings to chili cook-offs, spring food festivals are in full bloom. Here are 10 you shouldn’t miss. Duck, Duck! Rye? Sunday, March 22, 1 to 3 p.m.; Jimmy’s No. 43, 43 E. 7th St. Chefs will compete in a "quack down" hosted by Slow Food NYC, making dishes from duck carnitas with green salsa fresca to duck and waffles with smoked duck confit and crispy cracklings. In addition to the nine duck dishes available to try, local distillers, including Kings County, will offer samples. Tickets cost $30 at the door. Food Book Fair April 10-12; Wythe Hotel, 80 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn, The fourth annual Food Book Fair will feature panel discussions, tastings and dinners over three days. Among the highlights, San Francisco's Bar Tartine will bring their new American fare to Brooklyn. Other events include "Foodieodicals," featuring reps from 25 indie food magazines showing off their publications; and an oyster happy hour with Island Creek Oysters and Brooklyn Brewery. Bloody Mary Festival April 12, 1 to 4 p.m.; Industry City, 233 37th St., Brooklyn, Get unlimited tastes of 12 of Brooklyn's most creative Bloody Marys from spots like Whiskey Soda Lounge, Char No. 4, and Beast of Bourbon. The $50 tickets include lunch from Delaney BBQ, other food and drink samples and live music from The Afro-Latineers. Culinary Kids Food Festival April 14-21; New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd., The Bronx, Bring the whole family to this week-long festival featuring tastings, hands-on activity stations, and daily cooking demonstrations with guest chefs. Kids can learn about honey bees and the inner-workings of a hive, how their five senses affect flavor, and make seed packets to take home. Passes start at $20 for adults, and $12 for children 2 to 12. Bacon and Beer Classic April 25, noon to 3 p.m. & 7 to 10 p.m.; Citi Field, 123-01 Continue Reading

A Brooklyn public school teacher says opting out of the New York state tests is an act of courage

I am not a risk taker. I have played by the rules my entire life and prefer it that way. Follow directions, work hard, get rewarded. But what do you do when you feel as if you are playing fair and square against an opponent who isn’t? I’ve been a teacher in the New York City public school system for 10 years. I’ve watched the emphasis on and stakes attached to standardized testing in New York State increase each year. Yet each spring, teachers are expected to proctor these tests without contest or debate. I can no longer do that. Many proponents of testing argue that these state assessments allow schools to follow students’ progress and watch how they are growing each year, to measure what they know and can do relative to the new Common Core Learning Standards in English and mathematics. If that were all they were doing, that would be one thing. In reality, they have become tools to reward and punish students, teachers and schools. Worse, look at the tests themselves. When New York introduced the new Common Core tests three years ago, they argued that high-quality, grade-appropriate reading passages would be used to assess students’ reading ability. What teachers and administrators have found is that more and more of the reading passages and questions asked on these tests are actually above grade-level standards. On last year’s third grade English test, many of the questions were examined by a teacher and former test-maker who normed them at a seventh- and eighth-grade reading level! The math tests use language that’s tricky so that its results often wind up assessing reading comprehension more than problem-solving ability. When students have to select their answers to multiple-choice questions, they have yet another challenge. The state argues that “answer choices will not jump out; rather, students will need to make hard choices between ‘fully correct’ and ‘plausible but Continue Reading