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).