As always, the world is in tumult, no one can be trusted, everything you believed is a lie and our last refuge is art. Or it soon will be, if another important source of honesty — a bummer, yes, but a bummer that matters — continues to be depleted. I speak, of course, about the news. While certain major outlets are thriving, local papers across the country are being wrung mercilessly for profit by Digital First Media, the second-largest print conglomerate in the United States. I’ve written about the startling ethical bankruptcy behind Digital First’s operation of its outlets, which include the Denver Post and East Bay News; this week, those outlets took to New York City’s streets to protest their mismanagement.
What does this have to do with your weekend plans? Not much, aside from one grateful journalist’s encouragement for you to support your besieged local newspapers this weekend. If you’re a fan of a Digital First outlet — you can find a full list of them here — share your support for that outlet’s staff on social media, and call for Digital First and its majority shareholder, Alden Global Capital, to stop treating local journalism as an expendable source for their own outsize profit.
Now on to the fun stuff. Read on for the best weekend events in New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as our recommended picks in new books, movies and television.
Robert Hilburn’s “Paul Simon: The Life” is new in bookstores this week, as is Stephen Greenblatt’s “Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics.” If you have to pick one book to read this weekend, though, we suggest you go for Michael Twitty’s 2017 “The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South,” which just won two James Beard Media Awards, including that for Book of the Year. Twitty, who is black and Jewish, is the first black writer to win that accolade.
Anton Chekhov’s play “The Seagull” is a classic, and Michael Mayer’s new film adaptation of it has an exceptionally talented cast, including Saoirse Ronan, Annette Benning and Elizabeth Moss, among others. If you prefer some lighter material, tune in to one of the many films about Meghan Markle airing on TV this weekend in advance of her May 19 wedding to Prince Harry. No, Markle isn’t Jewish; no, we don’t care. And, if you really must, you can always tune into the finals of the annual Eurovision competition to see how Israel’s Netta Barzilai will fair.
3) New York City
There’s an unlikely can’t-miss event Thursday night: A talk at Greenwood Cemetery about the history and future of the golem, conducted by a rabbi and an alchemist. (Yes, an alchemist!) Sunday night you can catch a similarly scintillating conversation at the Whitney, this one between Fran Lebowitz and Nick Mauss, who will be discussing ballet. And if you’d rather see ballet than hear about it, check out one of the New York City Ballet’s Jerome Robbins-centric programs this weekend. I saw the second program earlier this week, and can highly recommend it.
4) Washington D.C.
Leonard Bernstein centenary fever continues in the D.C. area this weekend with two events: A Saturday screening at the Library of Congress of Bernstein conducting performances of work by Mahler and Liszt, and and a Sunday screening at the Greenbelt Theatre of the Royal Ballet’s tribute to Bernstein, featuring choreography by Wayne McGregor, Christopher Wheeldon and Liam Scarlett. The Washington Jewish Film Festival wraps up this weekend with a number of worthwhile films, and if you have a preference for stage over screen, check out Dominion Stage’s production of Paula Vogel’s “How I Learned to Drive.”
Two worthy theatrical productions will close this weekend, so don’t miss your last chance to see “Until the Flood” at the Goodman Theatre or “Hershey Felder Our Great Tchaikovsky” at the Steppenwolf Theatre. For the musically-minded, on Sunday, pianist Evgeny Kissin will perform works by Beethoven and Rachmaninov with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
6) Los Angeles
A busy weekend in L.A. begins Thursday night at the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, where Rachel Kushner will discuss her new novel “The Mars Room” with Danzy Senna. On Friday night, Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold will speak with past contestants from “Top Chef” at the Paley Center for Media. On Saturday, Mimi Lauter’s new exhibit “Sensus Oxynation” opens at Blum & Poe; that afternoon, Deborah Rosen and Dancers will perform at the Brand Library. On Sunday head to MoCA for “Real Worlds, Fake News,” a panel that will complement the exhibit “Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin.”