The Strange Phenomenon at the Jazz Age Lawn Party

Good news: chivalry isn’t dead. Or it wasn’t this weekend, between the hours of 11am and 5pm, when Governor’s Island became what looked like The Great Gatsby movie set, and city dwellers transformed into suspender-and-fedora-wearing, flapper dress-and-garter-clad folks. The phenomenon? The Jazz Age Lawn Party – a biannual event packed with a hot-jazz orchestra, a ballroom dance floor, St. Germain cocktails, and 1920s motorcars. But for New Yorkers, it’s summer’s Halloween, and for two days (the next one’s on Aug 17th & 18th), we’re just a bunch of classy cats.

But back to the chivalry: men were offering their hands for a dance, introducing themselves formally to the ladies. Like a character in a costume, the guys strangely assumed their ’20s-style roles. And so did the women – breezy, lighthearted, and giggling while lounging on blankets, there was an effervescence to the whole party on the sprawling green that made you forget that 1. It took you an hour and a half to get to the island in the first place 2. You spent at least $30 to attend the event and 3. They ran out of the sliced beefsteak sandwich from the Carbone’s Fancy Foods booth. 
 
And there were other "quibbles" about the event, like how a VIP ticket gave you an all-access pass to a mere ham and cheese sandwich and a boxed apple pie, and how instead of using actual currency, people had to pay money toward $3 tickets to spend on sodas, cocktails, and the ’20’s-themed gourmet food vendors (aka vegans went hungry).
 
But alas, none of this really matters when your day consists of decisions like, "where do we put our blanket?" and "the elderflower or the lemon cocktail?" and "should I instagram the piano player?" 
 
No, all that matters on this sunny day is that you "beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
 
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New York City Will Be One Long Food Festival This Summer

It’s no secret: food events are all the rage. This couldn’t be truer than in New York, where dining alfresco has taken on a whole new meaning with the rise of food trucks, markets, and whole days dedicated to eating from little stands, festival or not.

Already this summer the New York Times has dedicated two articles to these events. In last week’s Sunday paper, they talked about the artisanal side of eating, small businesses, and the hunt to try foods first at these gatherings. The other one hit on the trend of music festivals turned in to food extravaganzas, the most recent example being the failed GoogaMooga a couple weeks ago (though props to them for refunding the VIP tickets). The complaint surrounding that event, and with a many food-centric gatherings, is waiting in line.

This problem isn’t so bad at weekly gatherings like Saturday’s Brooklyn Flea Market in Fort Greene or the all-food bazaar Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. At the Flea, they have nibbles like vegan Faux Gras by The Regal Vegan, Sam Mason’s Empire Mayonnaise, and tiny cupcakes from Kumquat Cupcakery. The year-old Smorgasburg has more vendors than we want to list here, but some of my favorites include First Prize Pies, Rick’s Picks, and Kings County Jerky. You can also get your grub on at Hester Street Fair, which features lobster rolls from Luke’s Lobster, artisan ice pops from La Newyorkina, coffee from Café Grumpy, and a whole slew of other bites.  

If you just want to hit up a bunch of seasonal food trucks, try the Red Hook ballpark in Brooklyn, an area famous for its taco and papusa stands. In Manhattan, the Highline has spattering of snacks you can buy as you walk along its lovely, urban-meets-organic path. Also, for you beach goers, nothing is finer for a beach body than stuffing your face with Rockaway Taco and DiCosmo’s Italian Ice at the famous Rockaway Beach in Queens.

As for up coming food, music, and fun festivals that you will probably have to wait in line for, June 9 and 10 brings the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in Madison Square Park. For a decade they have been hosting this meat and music fest. This year they have Jon Langford, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, and Southern Culture on the Skids to strike a cord as people chow on barbecue from the hottest spots around the country including Scott’s Bar-B-Que, Ed Mitchell’s whole hog roast, and Pappy’s Smokehouse.

Another event coming up is popular party host Dances of Vice’s Rockabilly Night Market at the DeKalb Market in Downtown Brooklyn on June 22, which will have music by Eddie Clendening and the Blue Ribbon Boys, plus tons of food from the vendors there. Governors Island also hosts food-happy events like their Cook Out NYC on July 7 and 8, which features a burger cook off, a kimchi eating contest, and lots of local craft beer.

So, go forth you hungry people and enjoy this popular way to eat outdoors, listening to music, and walking around our fair city. Is there something on your list this summer that we forgot? Please share and may the lines ever be in your favor. 

Reasons to Go to Rock The Bells 2011

The lineup for this year’s Rock the Bells concert series is here, and it’s manna for hip hop fans! How often do you get to see Nas, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu (and many more!) on the same day? But there’s a big downside, and it’s this: Governor’s Island. New York’s most contested mound of goose poop is a hellhole in the summer heat and annoying to get to. Plus, four stages means a lot of the good acts will be going on at the same time. Click through for the reasons you should still go:

The New York date for Rock the Bells is September 3rd. Pre-sale tickets go on sale on June 3rd, and the rest on June 4th. Another option, for those of you willing to travel to Philly, is the Roots Picnic on June 4th. Headlining are The Roots, Nas, and Wiz Khalifa. It seems a bit smaller and more manageable (and I’d daresay cheaper). Here’s the Governor’s Island lineup:

• Nas • Lauryn Hill • Erykah Badu (see her! I beseech everyone to see her live at least once. When I saw her in Chicago, she had a foot-tall blond mohawk and did an extended acid-jazz version of “Appletree.”) • Mos Def and Talib Kweli • Raekwon and Ghostface Killah • Souls of Mischief • Mac Miller • Curren$y • Blu • Cypress Hill • Childish Gambino • Big K.R.I.T. • Immortal Technique • Freddie Gibbs • Murs

Weekend Freebie: The Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic on Governors Island

Real estate prices are always high in New York, but competition for space is even more apparent when you find yourself fighting for land on the lawns of our lovely parks during the summer. If getting hit in the head with someone’s poorly thrown Frisbee while picnicking in Central Park makes you cringe, head to Governors Island, where the 3rd Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic takes place this Sunday, June 27th. The glamorous daytime throw-back event is just a complimentary ferry ride away, which beats the train ride out to the coast, and boasts better views (both geographic and of the human variety). Last year, Madonna showed up, along with Prince Harry and LL Cool J. On top of the old la-ti-da of polo, the event strives to make the classic sport more accessible, which means there’ll be a few welcome changes for the attendees.

This year Prince Harry will compete against Nacho Figueras, the world-renowned polo player and the face of Ralph Lauren Polo, with all proceeds going to American Friends of Sentebale, a charity supporting at-risk children in Lesotho, Africa, founded by Prince Harry and Lesotho’s Prince Seeiso.

Sounds fancy, but the newly implemented public seating section adjacent to the polo field is completely free, and makes the event something that everyone can experience. The polo grounds feature catering by Union Square Hospitality Group’s Blue Smoke, Citi Field’s own El Verano Taquería, and loads of Veuve Clicquot.

image Unfortunately tickets to the picnic area sold out last week, but the public side is as good a place as any to show off your 1870/modern polo getup. There’s always the option to purchase a table (at $25,000), but the public side will be fully stocked with the aforementioned food and Veuve Clicquot, so you wont have to take out a loan this weekend The best way to get there is the complimentary ferry, which departs from the Battery Maritime Building located just east of the Staten Island Ferry in lower Manhattan and from the Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn. Just say no to Coney Island.

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Divot Stomping, Anyone?

This Saturday marks the official opening of New York’s Governor’s Island. To celebrate the new summer season, check out the inaugural Veuve Clicquot Manhattan Polo Classic at 12 p.m.—that is, if you were invited. If not, the island plays host to a number of full-day events. Sure, there probably won’t be fancy hats, champagne aplenty, and afternoon tea for the hoi polloi, but it’s supposed to be nice outside.