1. Watch South Park
Friendly faces everywhere.
[Cartman voice] Ehhhhh … you guys? South Park is seventeen years old. That means it’s older than a lot of the people watching it. That’s kinda disturbing, don’t you think, you guys? And you know what else? It’s still funny, you guys. Not as funny as it was, but pretty funny, and every few episodes there’s a really great bit that, uh … You guys? Wait up. I said wait up, you @#$^%*&! RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH! —Matt Zoller Seitz
Comedy Central, September 25, 10 p.m.
2. Read Book of Ages
It’s all about the Janes.
Compact rave: Go read Jill Lepore’s Book of Ages. A biography of Jane Franklin, Benjamin’s sister, it is simultaneously a fascinating look at early America, a meditation on one remarkable mind by another, and, implicitly, a biography of all the other Janes—history’s anonymous and overlooked women. —Kathryn Schulz
Knopf, October 1.
3. See Irving Penn: On Assignment
Still in Vogue.
For over six decades, the American genius Irving Penn shot work for magazines—or, as he put it, “the printed page.” This wowie-zowie show gives us cityscapes, still lifes, and portraits of artists, athletes, authors, and people on the street. Deep insight, mystic vision, and wild lucidity prevail. See what changing the world while being a working artist is all about.—Jerry Saltz
Pace Gallery, 510 W. 25th St., through October 26.
4. See The Nose
Voices that are anything but nasal.
The polarizing operatic event of 2010 was William Kentridge’s production of Shostakovich’s absurdist comedy The Nose. Fussy or inventive, distracting or spectacular, the show returns to the Met in all its manic glory this week.
Metropolitan Opera, September 28.
5. See Deborah Rush in Women or Nothing
Out of prison, onto the New York stage.
Orange Is the New Black’s Deborah Rush, as an impassively randy ice queen in Ethan Coen’s gnomic nature-nurture farce, takes a simple running gag about the Updikean bed-hopping of yesteryear and transforms it into a brief, brilliant comic operetta. —Scott Brown
Atlantic Theater Company’s Linda Gross Theater, through October 13.
6.–7. Watch Anytown, USA and Street Fight
A look at the young Cory Booker.
Two terrific documentaries, both from 2005, both set in New Jersey, just got newsworthy. Kristian Fraga’s Anytown, USA followed the mayor’s race in Bogota, New Jersey, which pitted Mayor Steve Lonegan against a group of newcomers. Marshall Curry’s Street Fight followed Newark City Councilman Cory Booker as he tried to defeat Sharpe James, mockingly referred to by some locals as “Mayor for Life.” You know how that second one came out, and we’ll add that if you’re remotely interested in Jersey politics, especially as Booker’s run for the Senate goes to a special election on October 16, these films offer fascinating and in some ways essential background. —M.Z.S.
8. Stream The Fuzz
Yahoo!’s latest attempt to reinvent itself is a potty-mouthed puppet crime show, set in a graffiti’d Brooklyn ghetto called “P-town,” where the illegal-jellybean trade runs rampant and humans subjugate the furry guys. Sample line of dialogue, from the oppressor: “Don’t forget who the boss is, or I’ll cut you into maxi-pads. I hate uppity puppets.”
9. See The Old Friends
Betty Buckley, back onstage.
This lost play, unearthed by Michael Wilson, is Horton Foote as unapologetic potboiler: half Chekhov, half Dallas, and great gooey gobs of grim suhthun’ fun. Betty Buckley releases yet another kraken, in the form of vicious, perma-toxicated farming empress Gertrude Ratliff. —S.B.
Signature Theatre, through October 2.
10. Hear El Gran Combo
Fifty years in, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico remains one of the world’s tightest, hottest bands, serving salsa prepared from the traditional recipe: ardent romance, driven by brass and percussion. —Jody Rosen
Radio City Music Hall, September 29.
11. Hear Cher’s Closer to the Truth
Her 798,289th album drops.
Okay, it’s actually her 26th (!) studio album, her first in twelve years. Yes, the cover photo appears to have had even more work done on it than the lady herself. But the free streaming on Amazon last week—a limited-time preview of the album—sounded good. Surely you want to Believe?
12. See Documerica
The sounds of a big country.
In the seventies, the United States government dispatched photographers across the country to shoot America’s complicated relationship with nature: smog-hazed cityscapes, pristine peaks, hillsides etched with cul-de-sacs, wilderness kayakers. Now the intrepid string quartet Ethel has assembled new music and some of those old photos into an environmental meditation. —Justin Davidson
Brooklyn Academy of Music, October 2 through 5.