The bombing of New York’s Black Tom Island
Did you know that in 1916, just before the U.S. became involved in World War I, a group of German terrorists blew up a munitions depot on Black Tom Island, opposite the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor? (Today, the site of the island is part of Liberty State Park.) Apparently, the attack was so huge that people in Maryland could feel the ground shake, and much of Lower Manhattan was destroyed. Tonight, author Chad Millman talks all about it, as chronicled in his new book The Detonators: The Secret Plot to Destroy America and an Epic Hunt for Justice. At 7, Melville Gallery, 213 Water Street, 212-748-8568, free KEN SWITZER
A neighborhood celebration
When ambling through one of Harlem’s many parks, close your eyes and imagine the neighborhood’s rich cultural past: It’s possible that in the 1920s Louis Armstrong practiced a tune below the tree you’re using for shade or that in the 1960s, Malcolm X sat on the same bench you’re sitting on. The fifth annual Historic Harlem Parks Film Festival celebrates this history and the roots of African American ancestry with Through African Eyes & Prized Pieces, an outdoor music, dance, and film event in various locations uptown. Opening night is this evening at St. Nicholas Park and starts at 7 with a live performance by Les Merveilles D’ Guinea, a dance and percussion group from Guinea, West Africa.
The acrobatic, high-energy troupe showcases traditional dances and ballet to the beat of djembe, kora, and balon drums.
At 7:45 check out The Golden Ball, a Bend It Like Beckam–story about a gifted Bandian boy who goes from playing soccer in the bush to finding athletic success in France. Afterwards, Safi, la Petite Mére, a film about the trials of an eight-year old girl who is left to take care of her infant brother after the death of their mother, is screened. Today, St. Nicholas Park, 135th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, 212-749-7289 KEISHA FRANKLIN
Laugh Out Loud and Outdoors
A night of unscripted improvised laughs
When asked on his deathbed if dying was hard, famous character actor Edmund Gwenn (Kris Kringle in 1947’s Miracle on 34th Street) is said to have replied, “Yes, but not as hard as doing comedy.” If this is true, then watching a performance by a comedy troupe might be considered downright sadistic, right? Not when it comes to Comedy Central regulars the Upright Citizens Brigade, a sketch comedy and stand-up group that runs a 150-seat theater in Chelsea. The company—alumni include Saturday Night Live‘s Amy Poehler and David Cross—takes its show outdoors tonight to Central Park, where they performed last year for a crowd of over 3,700 people. Expect a night of unscripted improvised laughter, with hopes of smashing last year’s attendance mark by at least one. At 7:30, Central Park SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, mid-park, enter at Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street, 212 360-2777, free