If you’re like me, you’re tired of the same old hot dog-eating contests and day-drunk doldrums of Fourths of July past. This year, you’re looking for a new way to declare your independence that doesn’t involve increasingly stimulating ways of risking life and limb to outdo the last year’s thrills. I’ve compiled the following list of ways to add a little nonflammable—but no less fun—spark to your 4th of July:
1. “Shopping Bag Intricacies”
Have you ever admired the beauty of street trash, dancing around in the wind’s delicate fingers and chasing you down the street? Artist Gustavo Galvan’s “Shopping Bag Intricacies” features “eleven wearable structures made from a variety of found materials, such as deconstructed plastic bottles, shopping bags, gold leaf and some intricate weavings by hand.” The exhibit runs until July 15 at Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art on Staten Island.
2. Hit up an adult playground
“What if there was a way to combine exercising with the carefree spontaneity of jungle gyms and forest green monkey bars?” asks Gothamist in a recent article about the city’s new adult playgrounds. The first adult playground, a pilot program for more like it across all five boroughs (to arrive in the next year and a half), has already been built in the Bronx. If you want to swing away the picnic calories, make your way to the only adult playground—so far—this Fourth. The name could be a misnomer, as the “playground” is by all accounts a child’s playground minus the fun stuff.
3. Instead of gorging yourself at the picnic, throw your food on the ground and take an artistic picture
This is finally a way to achieve semi-fame in the City. Alternately, you can stumble across somebody else’s street food and snap a photo. The blog Street Tucker artistically captures food left to rot on city streets, in a stylized, freegan feast for the eyes. It’s like dumpster diving except your body won’t be so riddled with parasites you can’t go back to work on Thursday.
4. Finally understand existence
Scientists in Geneva believe they have uncovered the “God particle” and plan to announce it to the world on Wednesday, according to the Seattle Times. “The focus of the excitement is the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle that, if confirmed, could help explain why matter has mass, which combines with gravity to give an object weight,” reports the Times. If you’re lucky, you could find religion this Fourth of July. I’m not going to draw the connection between announcement of the “God particle” and American Independence Day, but I fear someone will.
5. Go on a date with Goat Guy
We don’t know for sure if he’s available over the holiday, but Cyrus Fakroddin, who is famous for dragging his goat around the city and feeding it pizza, says one major draw of Cocoa the goat is she’s a “total chick magnet,” reports DNA Info. Even if you can’t get a date, Fakroddin and Cocoa can frequently be seen strolling through the Village. Their favorite destination is Joe’s Pizza, and they’ll probably be around all summer so long as the NYPD continues to think a goat eating pizza is worthy of tying up traffic.
6. Enjoy Sasaki Garden for what could be the last time
Especially if NYU President John Sexton gets his way and the NYU expansion passes City Council. Local residents and NYU faculty recently held a mock funeral for the park, which is literally off the beaten path. Sasaki Garden is tucked between two towers of the Washington Square Village superblock, and will be demolished if the Sexton plan passes. The park, which enjoys such a low profile the school has no qualms about razing it, is a place where many seek solace and zen wisdom. If this is not quite offbeat enough and you want to, say, go topless…let’s face it: it’s hot and everybody’s doing it.
7. Fight people with swords (perhaps in reenactment of the Revolutionary War)
If your style is more bellicose than celebratory, the New Amsterdam Fencing Academy offers open fencing Mondays and Wednesdays, along with adult fencing classes those same nights from 7:30-9pm. The Academy is located in Manhattan on Broadway (bet.104th and 105th Sts.)
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