From arguing about the rankings of the greatest movies of all time — AFI, you call that a list? — to engaging in the age-old Ginger vs. Mary Ann debate, pop culture is useless unless it brings people together. Nothing gets the creative juices flowing for me like poring over every aspect of cultural minutiae
By Marisa LaScala
Photograph courtesy of Amazon.com
From arguing about the rankings of the greatest movies of all time — AFI, you call that a list? — to engaging in the age-old Ginger vs. Mary Ann debate, pop culture is useless unless it brings people together. Nothing gets the creative juices flowing for me like poring over every aspect of cultural minutiae.
Lucky for us, the area has a few culture-related community-building goings-on up its sleeve. The first is The Big Read, taking place in Westchester County. The whole county becomes your book club throughout February and March, with events planned around the novel A Lesson Before Dying by Earnest J. Gaines. So put down your Twilight books and your Oprah selection and get cracking on it, because once you've read it you won't want to miss some of these events, including the following:
Wednesday, Feb. 25, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Film Screening: A Lesson Before Dying Westchester Community College Watch Don Cheadle and Cicely Tyson star in a film adaptation of the Big Read book. (You can't use this instead of reading the book — no cheating!)
Thursday, Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m. A Conversation with the Author Mercy College, Lecture Hall Ernest J. Gaines discusses his life and career and answers your questions (reservations required).
Sunday, Mar. 1, 2:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. The American Ethic: Do We Have a Duty to Care? Arts Westchester’s Arts Exchange Kerry Kennedy, an advocate for social justice and author of Speak Truth to Power, and Delores Scott Brathwaite, Esq., executive director of the Westchester County Human Rights Commission, lead a discussion about the duty to care, social justice, and the type of society in which we want to live (reservations required).
So dig up a copy of the book, reserve your place at one of these events, or check out what else is going on at the Arts Westchester website. Even if you don't live near Westchester, you could benefit from reading the book — maybe you could start a discussion of your own based on some of the topics suggested by Arts Westchester.
But wait, there's more celebrating to do — and this party isn't limited to Westchester. Apparently Henry Hudson sailed our waters 400 years ago, and every county from the city up to Lake Champlain is taking part in the Hudson River Quadricentennial. The series of events last through the fall, and includes such goodies as:
Monday, Feb. 23, 7-9 p.m. Community Forum on Priorities for Hudson River Protection North Junior High School, Newburgh, NY Learn how the Attorney General's Office is protecting the Hudson River. Share your priorities for Hudson River Protection.
Saturday, Mar. 14 The Hudson River Quadricentennial Concert Paramount Center for the Arts, Peekskill Listen to a series of songwriters inspired by the Hudson River.
Saturday, May 16 Town of Cortlandt Quadricentennial Ball Colonial Terrace Restaurant, Cortlandt Manor A grand ball to celebrate the Hudson's Quadricentennial.
More Quadricentennial events, plus what's happening with our upstate brethren, can be found at these websites:
Grab a friend, go Dutch (it's the thing to do after all), and get out and bond with your neighbors over a good book or a nice river view. Beats sitting at home in front of the TV debating the merits of The Office vs. 30 Rock.
Associate Editor Marisa LaScala joined Westchester magazine in 2003, and ever since she's blown every paycheck at the Greenburgh Multiplex. She also staunchly defends Richard Kelly, doesn't mind spoiling the endings of trashy movies you're curious about but don't want to pay to see, wishes the Hold Steady would come back and rock out Westchester, misses Arrested Development more than anyone can imagine, and still watches cartoons and Saturday Night Live. You can find more of her cultural criticism at www.popmatters.com, where she is a staff writer.