June 18: American Ballet Theatre plays to its strengths—dramatic star performances in big-story ballets—with Romeo and Juliet.
19: The stoner-friendly polyglot rap group Das Racist plays Red Hook Park at 7 p.m.—the same day David Maraniss’s Barack Obama–was–a–pothead bio hits.
20: Pundit-tainment! The Daily Show’s Wyatt Cenac, Al Madrigal, John Oliver, and Kristen Schaal will crack wise at SummerStage’s “Indecision in the Park,” hosted by John Hodgman.
21: Breaking Bad’s Gustavo, Giancarlo Esposito, steps onstage in John Patrick Shanley’s Storefront Church at the Atlantic Theater Company. Apparently, he still has his face.
23: The chunky-eyeglasses set takes over Randalls Island for the Governors Ball Music Festival. Onstage: Beck, Santigold, Fiona Apple, Modest Mouse.
24: Walk and talk and watch and sigh: Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom premieres at 10 p.m. (See Mark Harris’s conversation with him on page 102.)
25: For this 50th-anniversary season of Shakespeare in the Park, Steve Martin wrote original music for As You Like It, which stars the luminous Lily Rabe.
26: It’s an earnest, tuneful day downtown, as Suzanne Vega is joined by pop-classical singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane, Tina Chang (poet laureate of Brooklyn), and Paolo Javier (Queens) at Rockefeller Park.
27: If you believe that Brian D’Arcy James’s talent was wasted on Smash, go see him own the room at 54 Below, the theater district’s newest cabaret.
28: FX quaffs tiger blood: Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management premieres at 9 p.m. Or, if you don’t want to hate yourself the next day, wait till 10:30 for the season-three premiere of Louis C.K.’s Louie.
29: Magic Mike, Steven Soderbergh’s film starring Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey as strippers, opens. On the same night, the Philharmonic plays Stockhausen’s three-orchestra Gruppen at the Park Avenue Armory. Your call.
30: Get lost in the urban fantasy of Klara Lidén’s “Bodies of Society” film and installations at the New Museum.
July 01: Beach reading, respectable division: Bring along Karen Thompson Walker’s debut novel, The Age of Miracles (Random House), about a woman’s everyday burdens during the apocalypse, and Janet Groth’s The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker (Algonquin), recounting her decades of barring crazy ladies from Mr. Shawn’s office.
02: Lisa Kudrow’s insane shrink, Fiona Wallice, is back in session with the return of Showtime’s Web Therapy.
03: At the stroke of midnight, hit a screening of The Amazing Spider-Man. Then, on Tuesday evening, queue up for someone who can really swing: Norah Jones plays SummerStage at 7 p.m.
04: The patriotic Philharmonic plays an all-American Fourth of July program (Gershwin, Sousa, Bernstein) at Avery Fisher Hall.
05: The Scottish Meta-Play: In the National Theater of Scotland’s hallucinogenic Macbeth, Alan Cumming plays a mental patient inhabiting every role.
06: Imaginary intrigue! Blake Lively plays a kidnapped hippie alongside Benicio del Toro and Salma Hayek’s drug kingpins in Savages, in theaters today (bonus: Tim Riggins as a pot farmer).
07: Last weekend to see the Brooklyn Museum’s huge look at Keith Haring’s early work—sketchbooks, flyers, subway drawings, and more.
08: A good day to catch up with Annie Baker’s everyday-English treatment of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, starring the spooky-magnetic Michael Shannon, at the Soho Rep.
09: Two American views of the Middle East are newly in bookstores: In Alif the Unseen (Grove Press), debut novelist G. Willow Wilson writes of an Arab-Indian hacker forced underground. And the late Harvey Pekar’s graphic memoir, Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me, recalls his Zionist family and his disillusionment with Israel.
10: Brooklyn’s own Dirty Projectors play the Prospect Park Bandshell at 7 p.m., along with the moody duo Wye Oak, whose “Civilian” set the tone for The Walking Dead last season.
11: Those New Yorkers who get DirecTV can enjoy Glenn Close’s delightfully manipulative lawyer on Damages, premiering its final season at 9 p.m. She’ll be followed by Chloë Sevigny, deploying both an Irish accent and a male appendage, in her mini-series role as a transgender assassin in Hit and Miss at 10.
12: Shakespeare under the stars, minus the twelve-hour ticket line: New York Classical Theater stages Twelfth Night in Battery Park.
13: Twee but not too twee: Eleanor Friedberger—the female Fiery Furnace—performs from her solo album at the River-to-River Festival, joined by Ex Cops, at Pier 17.
14: While Game of Thrones is on break, Peter Dinklage has hied himself up to Bard for ten performances of Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid. It’s directed by Dinklage’s wife, Erika Schmidt, who we hope refers to him as “my lion.”
15: Who’s more ruthless: the teacher turned kingpin Walter White (Bryan Cranston), or a D.C. journalist (Carla Gugino) eager to torpedo the career of the secretary of State (Sigourney Weaver)? Find out at 10 p.m., when AMC airs the first episode of Breaking Bad’s final season, which you can watch as you DVR the start of Greg Berlanti’s mini-series Political Animals on USA.
16: Wade through the throngs of hipster college girls at SummerStage to hear the scruffy-cute indie-rock boys of Young the Giant.
17: The Upright Citizens Brigade’s improv all-stars take SummerStage. No names yet, but figure on a few drop-ins from the Poehler-Fey-Hodgman crowd.
18: Throwback night in the outer boroughs: Eighties rap star Big Daddy Kane plays a free 7 p.m. show in Queensbridge Park with hip-hop super-producer Marley Marl. And the Swedish hard-core nineties band Refused joins the punk all-stars Off! for a show in Williamsburg Park at 5:30 p.m.
19: Soprano Elizabeth Futral stars in Kaija Saariaho’s multimedia opera Emilie—about an eighteenth-century physicist, mathematician, and mistress to Voltaire—in a four-night stand at Lincoln Center.
20: The Impressions, Meshell Ndegeocello, Mavis Staples, and Sinéad O’Connor all come together for “Here But I’m Gone,” a 70th-birthday tribute to the late soul legend Curtis Mayfield, at Lincoln Center.
21: Christian Bale snarls. Anne Hathaway wears a catsuit. Tom Hardy is evil. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises is out, and you will hear about very little else this weekend.
22: Pina Bausch’s dances leapt off the screen in Wim Wenders’s Pina, but they’re even better performed live by the Paris Opéra Ballet, which is bringing her Orpheus and Eurydice to the Koch Theater.
23: Atmospherics! The ethereal Baltimore duo Beach House plays SummerStage the same night John Huston’s noir classic The Maltese Falcon plays Bryant Park.
24: Chicago’s definitive alt-country rockers Wilco play the Prospect Park Bandshell, joined by the Lee Ranaldo Band, at 7 p.m.
25: Zoe Kazan stars opposite her real-life boyfriend, Paul Dano, as his fictional dream girl come to life in Ruby Sparks.
26: More Uncle Vanya! This time it’s with Cate Blanchett in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production at Lincoln Center.
27: If the idea of Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill staving off an alien invasion doesn’t strike you as reason enough to see The Watch, consider this: It’s directed by Akiva Schaffer, one third of the comic team the Lonely Island, and Seth Rogen co-wrote the script.
28: In case the Muppet reboot whetted your kid’s appetite (or yours), the 1979 original will screen in Prospect Park tonight at The Muppet Movie Sing-along. Move right along!
29: Randalls Island is again repopulated by music fans, this time for the two-day Catalpa Festival. On the eclectic bill: the Black Keys, Snoop Dogg (performing Doggystyle), and TV on the Radio.
30: Happy ever after? Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods is up at Shakespeare in the Park, with Amy Adams as the Baker’s Wife, Denis O’Hare as the Baker, and Donna Murphy rapping about beans and nectarines as the Witch.
31: Alt-nineties rockers Toad the Wet Sprocket keep it damp at Brooklyn Bowl, while Sigur Røs pump out their inscrutable Icelandic pop in Prospect Park.
August 01: Camille A. Brown’s spirited, athletic choreography screams for an airy stage—and gets it, at SummerStage.
02: What’s that weird noise coming from Lincoln Center’s plaza? Experimental jazz by the Bad Plus and the Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble.
03: As highbrow types hit Phil Kline’s multimedia dreamcitynine at Lincoln Center Out of Doors (with Bill T. Jones and the Talujon Percussion Group), the rest of America will head to the multiplex to see Jeremy Renner step into Matt Damon’s fast-moving shoes in The Bourne Legacy and Colin Farrell get his brain zapped in Total Recall.
04: Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones aim for funny-sad as a divorcing couple trying to stay friends in Celeste and Jesse Forever.
05: He acts, he dances, he speaks French: There’s really very little Mikhail Baryshnikov can’t handle gracefully. He’ll do all of the above in Ivan Bunin’s In Paris at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater.
06: Grit-lit wordsmith Padgett Powell introduces two guys shooting their mouths in You & Me (Harper Ecco), and first-time author Claire Vaye Watkins—a Manson Family child—delves into the mythology of the West with the stories in Battleborn (Riverhead).
07: Head up to Marcus Garvey Park at 7 p.m. and bliss out to Robert Glasper’s heady blend of hip-hop and jazz piano.
08: Le bleep: French electronic musician Anthony Gonzalez, a.k.a. M83, plays SummerStage.
09: Hot night plus toned bodies in motion: yes. Complexions Contemporary Ballet performs in Prospect Park.
10: Conflict is funny! Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis run for office against each other in The Campaign, and Steve Carell plays marriage therapist to Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones in Hope Springs.
11: Y’all come back to Brooklyn next year, you hear? Celebrate Brooklyn! wraps its season at the Prospect Park Bandshell with the ever-wonderful Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group and the Brooklynite bluegrass singer Aoife O’Donovan.
12: Lincoln Center throws an outdoor tribute (untelevised) to the late hip-hop godfather Gil Scott-Heron, with Aloe Blacc, Swamp Dogg, and the Black Rock Coalition Orchestra.
13: The Mostly Mozart Festival is ongoing, but the pristine playing of the Emerson String Quartet happens only tonight.
14: Nothing says sweaty, sexy summer in New York like the Dominican rhythms of bachata, so boogie down in the Bronx’s Highbridge Park with silky-voiced Toby Love.
15: Amy Sohn—whose roman-à-clef Prospect Park West was an impressive Park Slope argument-starter—delivers her latest brownstone potboiler, Motherland (Simon & Schuster).
16: Literary debuts from Hollywood: Arrested Development writer Maria Semple’s novel Where’d You Go Bernadette (Little, Brown) managed to make even Jonathan Franzen laugh, and Molly Ringwald—who is impossible to hate—presents her poignant tales of love, loss, and betrayal in When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories (HarperCollins).
17: Whitney Houston appears in her final role, as mentor to Jordin Sparks, in Sparkle.
18: The always-high-energy Joshua Bell is at his rhapsodic best, playing the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra.
19: Tom Fontana (Homicide) goes Gangs of New York with an 1860s detective series, Copper, on BBC America. Or, if you’d rather be among the great unwashed instead of watching them on TV, head to Williamsburg Park for the emo twang of My Morning Jacket.
20: Is it the best popcorn movie ever made? See Raiders of the Lost Ark under the stars on the megascreen at Bryant Park.
21: Man up your summer-reading list: Paul Auster follows up The Invention of Solitude with Winter Journal (Henry Holt), Ivan Doig’s The Bartender’s Tale (Riverhead) is about a single father raising his son in 1960, and Victor LaValle’s The Devil in Silver (Spiegel & Grau) has a demon terrorizing a cash-strapped mental institution in Queens.
22: The Mark Morris Dance Group’s extraordinary Dido and Aeneas begins a three-night run at Mostly Mozart.
23: Escape the sticky doldrums into the New Museum and Nathalie Djurberg’s fantastical bird-sculpture menagerie.
24: Joseph Gordon-Levitt! On a bike! On the run from dirty cops! Premium Rush is in theaters today.
25: Let’s see how they make the skeletons sword-fight: The Faux-Real Theatre Company brings its silly Jason and the Argonauts to East River Park.
26: At the Neue Galerie, contemplate the gilded anguish of Gustav Klimt in the artist’s 150th-birthday exhibition; then take in the Stieglitz and Steichen photos on display.
27: The GOP convention begins in Tampa. Take your mind off messy politics at the final day of Taryn Simon’s arresting (and disturbing) narrative photo project of genocide victims, diseased rabbits, and lady hijackers at MoMA.
28: It’s alive! Young Frankenstein screens on Valentino Pier in Red Hook.
29: Grab a pie at the reopened Grimaldi’s, then hop aboard the tiny floating stage at Fulton Ferry Landing for Bargemusic’s “Here and Now Labor Day Festival,” where young classical groups like the Knights will play new work (with an unbeatable backdrop).
30: If it’s sunny, beat the crowds on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s rooftop, where Tomás Saraceno’s sprawling jungle gym is beckoning to your inner 6-year-old. (If it’s raining, stay downstairs in the comparatively grown-up Dürer exhibition, now in its final week.)
31: Grab your gal pals for the smart-chick flick For a Good Time, Call… , a Sundance favorite starring the always entertaining Ari Graynor and Lauren Miller (a.k.a. Mrs. Seth Rogen).
September 01: Time for one more music run to Randalls Island, this time for Electric Zoo’s three-day electronica-and-D.J. fest. Onstage: David Guetta, Skrillex, Diplo, and various other computer-enhanced rock gods.
02: Last day on West 45th Street for the decadence of Spiegelworld, where the circusy cabaret acts involve little clothing, lots of flexibility, and disturbingly regurgitated bananas.
03: Close out summer with Ellsworth Kelly’s little-seen, extremely cheerful plant drawings. They’re at the Metropolitan through the end of the day.