Summer Lovin’

By: Darren Ranck, Brennan Carley, Charlotte Parish

With summer comes fascinating freedom, a time where students return home to their friends, their cars, and jobs galore. Cheesy movies, deep-fried whatnots, lazy days spent lounging by the pool—Americans eat these types of things up every summer, and rightly so. These are staples for a reason, because they work, and because generation upon generation has perfected the keys to perfect summer happiness. For those seeking a different experience, however, there are plenty of rewarding experiences worth exploring. Nothing can be called more magical than dancing the night away to the sweet synthesized sounds of Empire of the Sun as the moon burns over Governor’s Island. Perhaps you’re looking for a calmer experience, in which we recommend brushing up on your young adult literature—hey, we’re all young at heart anyway. With the movie version of Suzanne Collins’ popular The Hunger Games gearing up for production, the sultry sluggish summer months are the perfect time to dive into the thrilling and all too brief series. What if you don’t have access to a beach at which you could bake in the sunlight? Well then, revisit the horror of Jaws and reassure yourself that you have it better snuggled up in your air conditioner. No matter your situation, the Scene has a summer solution for you.

Who Needs Festivals? I’ve Got New York

If summer is good for anything other than a whole lot of rest and relaxation, it’s prime concert season, which is absolutely my bread and butter. Over the past few weeks, seemingly endless amounts of concerts in my hometown have been announced. My iCal is now filled to the brim with green-colored events (yes, I do indeed have a separate calendar for concerts alone). I usually like to keep my concert/live performance schedule diverse over the summer (although it usually veers more indie). I’ve already begun stocking up on tickets from artists like Animal Collective, Lykke Li, Phantogram, and Elvis Costello.

Where New York really shines in the summer, however, is in its abundance of free shows all over the glorious city. For instance, Central Park has its own mini amphitheater, which plays home to both paid and free events. I sprung at the chance to snatch up some Florence and the Machine tickets for the park because the opportunity to see the fiery-haired goddess of song in Central Park as the sun sets was just too enticing to pass up. On the free end of the spectrum, however, popular comedian Reggie Watts will be performing on the same stage just two nights prior to Florence. Rockabilly icon Wanda Jackson will share a bill with Imelda May in their free July show.

Just a few blocks west, soul singer and Grammy winner Mavis Staples will bring her worldwide tour to the Damrosch Park Bandshell at the end of July. After witnessing the sheer power that Staples can harness in a single note alone at last year’s Life is Good Festival, there’s no conceivable way that I would miss her stint in the park this summer. Finally, I’m extremely excited to check out Wavves’ set on one of the last days this summer in the East River Park. The band’s California beach vibe and laid backlaid-back rhythms provide the perfect summer soundtrack.

Manhattan isn’t the only borough sponsoring free concerts this summer, however. Both Prospect Park and Battery Park in Brooklyn are splendid places to soak up some rays while catching a show like that of the iconic Patti Smith, a pioneer in the 1970s who is enjoying newfound fame with the publication of her award-winning Just Kids. She joins performance artist Laurie Anderson as featured artists as part of the Lincoln Center Out of Doors music series.

After last year’s disastrous M.I.A. concert on Governor’s Island (which also featured awesome performances by Rye Rye, Sleigh Bells, and Die Antwoord), I’m braving the ferry once again to see the inaugural Governor’s Ball. This one day festival features an eclectic lineup including Outkast’s Big Boi, Empire of the Sun, Pretty Lights, the recently announced Das Racist (a Brooklyn based rap group that is definitely worth a listen), and Girl Talk. Somebody please remind me to hydrate appropriately, because although beautiful, that island is sunlight city.

Though technically not a summer show, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals return to New York on Sept. 24, a show that I have already planned to return home for. I guess it’s just an indication of how unwilling I am every fall to let go of a city and the concerts that make its summers so damn magical. – B.C.

Summer of My Favorite Things

That elusive beauty is nearer now than ever: summer. More than tanning, ice cream, and meandering car rides (which are all staples of my warm weather habits) summer to me symbolizes the few months of the year when I get to return to my true passions in life without any other responsibilities. Obviously, I am subject to the infamous, minimum wage job that supports my shopping habits – you can’t say no to sundresses or bathing suits, you should, but I can’t – but summer is the time when I make ambitious lists of all the fun projects and events that I want to check off in order to make up for nine months of being restricted by school and freezing temperatures. Being a list junkie, I have already outlined my city plans in this week’s column, but there are a few more things this summer that I am determined to make come to fruition.

One of the more decadent parts of summer is that every day feels like a weekend. So, instead of restricting my movie-going to weekend nights when, the prices force me to smuggle water and snacks into the theatre in my Mary Poppin’s-esque purse to save money, I can go to six-dollar-Tuesday every week. Not everyone likes going to the movies when the weather is so nice, but I really love it. Yes, I have to forsake a few hours of sunshine, but it feels so decadent to be watching in a theatre on a Tuesday night without any homework looming overhead. And I’ll probably bring the contraband snacks anyway.

Speaking of movies (or rather a book that will hit the silver screen in a little less than a year), I also want to stop hearing my friends say sentences like “That’s like in The Hunger Games when … wait, sorry I forgot you haven’t read them.” The series might seem juvenile to some, but I have heard nothing but praises (and tantalizing, frustrating references) about Suzanne Collins’ hit series and cannot wait to read it before the movie next year. Plus, I am a big proponent of seeing movies only after having read the books, so this is necessary preparation.

In another form of literature, I am also contemplating starting a blog this summer – something that is too much of a time sink to even contemplate mid-semester. The blog fever has spread around my friends like crazy, beginning with the hilarious which is full of rookie (read: freshman year) mistakes. This blog also holds a special place in my heart as the year ends. For myself, considering the number of food blogs out there and my obsession with baking, blogging could be a very delicious endeavor this summer.

Boiled down to its essence, summer is about freedom. Just listen to any quintessential summer album (Beach Boys are my go-to) and it’s all about long roads with no plans or deadlines. And I intend to make full use of my freedom to indulge in everything I love best. – C.P.

Cinema’s Favorite Hotspot

Oddly enough, one line in The Princess Bride sums up summer for me. Wesley, lovesick and poetic, tells his beloved Buttercup, “My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches.” A universe of beaches – does anything sound better? Even with the promise of sunburn and painful exfoliation from the pebbles of sand, nothing evokes summer more than a typical day at the beach. For decades, the beach has served as a muse for artists with its flurry of activity, its contrasting days of heat and fury with nights of serenity and whistful breeze, and its ever-youthful spirit.

Film always uses the beach as a classic setting for love stories. Ever since the iconic shot of Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity (yes, the one where they kiss as waves crash over them), beaches became the place of summer love. Sandy and Danny from Grease met on a beach (as the song recollects they “made out under the do-ock”). Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon met on a beach and found love in Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Beach Blanket Bingo, and, of course, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini. Most importantly, Justin and Kelly met on a wet and wild journey to Ft. Lauderdale in From Justin to Kelly (that reference is for you, art house lovers). Of course it’s a romanticized view of beach fun, but what’s more fun than finding teen love at the beach?

I’ll tell you what’s not – shark attacks. Yes, the movie Jaws petrified a nation, one that suddenly feared the water, one that worried a great white could suddenly scrape the surface of the ocean and unceremoniously chew a person’s arm off. I might take the horror and excitement of a shark attack over the idea of being deserted on a beach, though. While watching Cast Away, I found myself thinking, “The moment that you adopt a beach volleyball as your best friend marks the instance you completely separate yourself from sanity.” To take the motif of beach abandonment further back, consider Blue Lagoon, starring a young Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins. Sure, it fulfilled the audience’s desire to watch young coeds fall in love, but the awkwardness of watching two teens discover their sexuality makes you long for more one-on-ones with sports equipment. In short, certain dangers do lurk on cinematic beaches, but think of the beauty of it all.

The sun shines more brightly on film. The breeze blows stronger on the screen. Nothing offers more inspiration for artists looking to capture fun or the sparseness of human existence than the shores. As I age, I hope to surround myself with a universe of beaches and get in touch with my own creative. If that’s too lofty, I hope to at least get wasted on the beach this summer. – D.R.


May 5, 2011