By Miriam Felton-Dansky
By Lilly Lampe
By R. C. Baker
By Tom Sellar
By Alexis Soloski
By Molly Grogan
By R. C. Baker
A new language is a bridge to a different culture. But you're totally swamped! Take a beginning Japanese course at the Tenri Cultural Institute (212.645.2800, tenri.org), using the text Japanese for Busy People I, and "expand your experience of understanding, harmony, and community in this multicultural, multi-ethnic world." Class starts August 14.
Italy is the reigning World Cup soccer champion for the next four years, so jump on the bandwagon and make like they were your pick all along. Step one is figuring out what the flag-waving masses are yelling about on TV. Take beginning Italian classes at the Italian Cultural Institute in New York (212-879-4242, iicnewyork.esteri.it). Classes are ongoing. Martin Mulkeen
If there's one thing Jazz at Lincoln Center (jalc.org, 212-258-9800) should be praised for, it's a continued commitment to education. Jazz know-it-all Phil Schaap offers intro classes while trombonist Vincent Gardiner will lay into the bebop period with gustoand he has the chops to back it up.
If JALC thrives in the past, the Center for Improvisational Music (212-631-5882, schoolforimprov.org) points to the future. They're offering intensive summer workshops featuring the best young forward-looking talent in the country. Jason Moran, Vijay Iyer, Uri Caine, and many more lend their ears and experience to the classroom.
There are no apprenticeships anymore, so Barry Harris (barryharris.com) is here to help. The legendary pianist, who has played with everyone (seriously), has an ongoing piano workshop that is scheduled around his many tours. There are two in Augustso go and get some professional reps with the best. R. Emmet Sweeney
Forget the potted plant in your window and the attempts at cultivating basil indoors. The "Citizen Pruner Tree Care" course at Trees New York (212-227-1887, treesny.com) actually makes you a certified arborist. Step outdoors, shears in hand, and care for the trees on your block.
Nature in this city can make for unpleasant encounters, like walking into the street to avoid stepping between a building and rustling, rat-filled garbage bags, or placing the legs of your bed in mason jars to keep bedbugs from climbing up. "Introduction to Bird-watching" at the Audubon Center in Prospect Park (718-287-3400, prospectparkaudubon.org) is a nice compromise: You're outside but the danger is minimal. Kosiya Shalita
Are your friends quitting Friendster because they're bored with the Internet or because they're just sick of your picture? Keep them clicking with "Photographic Self-Portrait" at the New School (212-229-5630, nsu.newschool.edu). With weekly assignments designed to "strengthen your relationship to your own process," you're sure to perfect that spaced-out, sideways gaze. The class starts on September 6 and runs for 15 weeks.
South Philly photographer Zoe Strauss takes her "Under I-95" exhibition up the road to the Whitney (212-570-7715 whitney.org.) on Friday, September 15. Previously featured at this year's Biennial, Strauss's regular-people photography will be deconstructed, reproduced, and circulated at the latest installment of the museum's IPO seriesseminars hosted by emerging artists, writers, and curators. Carla Blumenkranz
Religion & Spirituality
The New School's (212-229-5600, nsu.newschool.edu) decidedly relevant take on "Introduction to Islam" gets through the basicsthe life of Muhammad, structure of the Koran, common beliefs and practices and then moves into dinner party conversation. Topics for the last part of the class include analysis of "women's issues, the rise of nationalism, and political Islamic movements." The class runs for 15 Thursdays at 4 p.m. and starts September 7.
Faith's not always a way to get out of the worldsometimes it's an inspiration to throw yourself into it. From Joan of Arc to Sojourner Truth, Hildegard of Bingen to Dorothy Day, an epoch-spanning new course at NYU, "Women, Religion, and Social Change" (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu), examines the confluence of spiritual women and activist politics. The class runs for 10 Wednesdays, starting September 20.
Why do we sit? Mostly because it's awkward to keep standing. But you can sit, really sit, for the first time, at Village Zendo's "Just Sitting," (212-340-4656, villagezendo.org) a liturgy-free, come-and-go-as-you-like afternoon of "spacious meditation." No fees, no strings, no registrationjust sitting, every fourth Saturday. Carla Blumenkranz
"Runditioning" atthe Running Center (212-362-3779, therunningcenter.com) combines both style and substance as Coach Mindy teaches you to run like a cheetah. With mobility stretches and balance, strength, and running exercises, Mindy's patented method will perfect your biomechanics. Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
A hybrid healing heart that combines tai chi, nei kung, meditation, and deep-breathing exercises, "Eternal Spring" at the Tai Chi Chuan Center (212-221-7333, taichichuancenter.org) is easy to learn and remember and claims to change your life for good. A way to improve balance and coordination, increase strength and flexibility, reverse the effects of aging, and generally "work on your weaknesses," this class seems to have almost all the answers. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:30, Wednesdays at 7:30, and Fridays at 6:30.
Before you hit the coral reefs, learn the elements of scuba diving on your own turf. Weekend intensive classes at Village Divers (212-780-0879, villagedivers.com) will get you halfway to certification in just two evenings. First you get a running start in the classroom section, then you take a dive into their conveniently located pool. Class on Saturdays at 6 p.m., pool nights on Sundays at six and Tuesdays at eight. Carla Blumenkranz