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Nom on Nordic Food, Dance With Kiwis, and Grab Cheap Meatballs This Week

Brooklyn Brewery and the Craft Beer Revolution, 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue, Monday, 7 p.m.

If you’re looking to turn your extracurricular hobby into a booming business, do so by learning the history of local suds with Brooklyn Brewery, courtesy of brewmaster Garret Oliver and owner Steve Hindy. The duo will cover their transition into brewing (Hindy is a former war correspondent) as well as share a few secrets of the trade. The event includes a beer tasting as well as the chance to purchase signed copies of the pair’s tome, The Craft Beer Revolution. Tickets are $32 and can be reserved in advance here.

Nordic Food Festival, Multiple Locations, Wednesday through September 28

The cuisines of Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland are a few of the inspirations you’ll find at the annual Nordic Food Festival, which kicks off this Wednesday in the West Village. A few activities designed to release your inner Anna and Elsa include chocolate-making classes, daily street food tastings, and chef talks featuring Mads Refslund of ACME and Fredrik Berselius. A full lineup of scheduled events can be viewed on the festival website.

Save the Rhino Benefit Dinner, Madiba, 195 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Dine out for a cause this week as Madiba hosts a three-course dinner with wine pairings, with proceeds going to help wildlife conservation efforts. A few lucky guests will also be chosen to receive complimentary artwork, with live entertainment for everyone throughout the evening. Reservations are $65; secure them here.

Anniversary Party, Kiwiana, 847 Union Street, Brooklyn, Thursday, 6 p.m. until closing

Practice your Down Under dance moves with a New Zealand–themed Seventies party. Celebrating its fourth anniversary, Kiwiana is offering guests an open bar, passed appetizers, and, most importantly, the chance to break out your disco attire to win prizes. Tickets are $45 at the door and can be purchased here.

25 Cent Meatballs, Carmine’s, 200 West 44th Street/2450 Broadway, Friday

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, both locations of Carmine’s are toasting to restaurant eternity with 25-cent meatballs during lunchtime. Guests can visit the theater district location from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., or the Upper West Side digs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m to enjoy the deal.

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Seven Books You Should Read This Summer

Sally Ride: America’s
First Woman in Space



by Lynn Sherr


June 3

Small in stature yet large in courage, so private that she didn’t come out of the closet until her obituary, pioneering American astronaut Sally Ride is a classic American enigma, a feminist icon who led by example instead of dogma, a cipher trapped in the body of a celebrity—the ideal subject for a posthumous biography. Ride’s widow, Tam O’Shaughnessy, deserves high praise not only for spearheading the project, but for providing intimate access to her late mate’s private life, a move that Ride herself would’ve emphatically disapproved of during her lifetime. Simon & Schuster, $28.00, 320 pp.

Tom of Finland:
The Complete Kake Comics



by Dian Hanson, Tom of Finland


June 15

If you need proof that today’s revolutions are tomorrow’s institutions, look no further than the Finnish postage stamp recently earned by Touko Laaksonen, aka Tom of Finland, the artist famous for drawing men with giant muscles, penises, and moustaches, wearing tight uniforms and leather (if anything) while enthusiastically indulging in anonymous macho mansex. Or, since by his own admission Laaksonen’s quality control meter lay in his crotch, do look further. Over several decades, Tom of Finland’s drawings, including his Kerouacian wandering alter ego “Kake,” who he rendered in a sketchier style than his Cadmus-like signature tableaux, did more to promote gay male hypermasculinity than James Dean, Brokeback Mountain, and Bob Paris combined. His cumspurting leathermen are now coffee-table appropriate. Taschen, $19.99, 704 pp.

Suspicious Minds:
How Culture Shapes Madness



by Joel and Ian Gold


July 8

Since the rise of antidepressants, the general trend in psychiatry has been to ascribe mental illness to chemical imbalances in the brain and other neurobiological phenomena. The psych-professor Gold brothers, in the course of treating patients at Bellevue and elsewhere, have been exploring the possibility that insanity and culture influence each other in ways as yet unexamined. Why did they start seeing so many patients who thought they were Truman Burbank from The Truman Show after 2003? Evidently, they hypothesize in a droll Oliver Sacksian tone, culture has a great deal of influence on trends in madness. Perhaps that Pharell Williams song really is driving you nuts. Free Press, $26.00, 288 pp.

The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy
of a Wrongful Execution



by James S. Liebman, Shawn Crowley,
Andrew Markquart and Lauren Rosenberg



July 8

Texas has the most capital punishment-happy state government in the country. According to the writers of The Wrong Carlos, the Lone Star State has executed “four times more than any other state.” Combine racial profiling with the death penalty and you get the story of Carlos DeLuna, a severely unlucky mentally challenged Corpus Christi resident who, in 1983, happened to be cowering under a pickup truck after a murder. A white eyewitness claimed that he’d seen DeLuna fleeing; this led to DeLuna’s execution in 1989. It later developed that he merely bore a resemblance to the man who probably committed the crime, his namesake Carlos Hernandez, who “spent . . . 45 years committing crimes for which he was barely or never punished.” The authors have reproduced a great deal of primary materials in the book, but sadly, since both men have died, it’s an open and shut case. Columbia University Press, $85.00 (paperback $27.95), 448 pp.

The Nixon Tapes: 1971–1972


by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter


July 29

To celebrate (or perhaps just commemorate) the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s ignominious departure from the White House, the infamous Nixon tapes have been painstakingly translated into book form. This involved the transcription of some 3,500-odd hours of secret recordings made by the president in the Oval Office and elsewhere between 1972 and 1973, parts of which became crucial evidence leading to the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s eventual resignation. The big question: Will there be a gap of 18:20 in the audiobook? Houghton Mifflin, $35.00, 784 pp.

The Nixon Defense: What He
Knew and When He Knew It



by John W. Dean


July 29

You know Olivia Pope, the woman Kerry Washington plays on Scandal, who busts her butt trying to cover up all the career-killing intrigue in Washington? Imagine that it’s 1973 and she’s a white man working for Richard Nixon. Years after plea bargaining and testifying against Nixon, then reinventing himself as an author and TV pundit, Dean has recently emerged from a stupendous mound of paper—”more than 150,000 pages of documents in the National Archives and the Nixon Library,” according to his publisher—to answer definitively any lingering questions about his former boss’s intentions and guilt. And perhaps his own guilt, but don’t bet the rent. Viking, $29.95, 416 pp.

The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan


by Rick Perlstein


August 5

Yes, it’s the Summer of Tricky Dick. On the day after the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s resignation, Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner Rick Perlstein releases the third 800-to-1,000-page book in what appears to be a gargantuan, multi-volume sweeping history of conservative thought in the second half of the 20th Century (before “conservative thought” became oxymoronic). First he dissected Goldwater, then the rise of Nixon, and now The Invisible Bridge chronicles the fall of Nixon and the rise of Reagan, during which, Perlstein hypothesizes, the country rapidly switched gears from American disillusionment to American delusion. Simon & Schuster, $37.50, 926 pp.

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Bombay Jayashri

One of South Indian classical (Carnatic) music’s deepest devotional singers, Jayashri is also the composer and performer of “Pi’s Lullaby,” from Life of Pi. Beside being immersed in the classical tradition, she was also a renowned Bollywood “playback” singer and has collaborated with Finland’s Avanti orchestra. She’ll perform here accompanied by violin, mridgangam drum, and ghatam pot, so expect classical transcendence.

Sun., Oct. 20, 2 p.m., 2013

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Ariel

Dir. Aki Kaurismäki (1988).
A laid-off Lapland miner drives to Helsinki in his white Cadillac convertible, teams up with a hard cookie and falls into a life of crime. Although not without sentimentality, Kaurismaki’s deadpan visual humor, ballad-like compression, and ravishingly shot derelict landscapes give the film a lyricism as touching as it is bleak.

Fridays-Sundays. Starts: Oct. 14. Continues through Oct. 16, 2011

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Finland Exports Its ‘Have Your Own Pop-Up Restaurant Day’

Finland held its first Restaurant Day in May of this year, a magical day when anyone was allowed to create his or her own pop-up restaurant, permits and inspections be damned. The second one will be held this Sunday, and observed in 26 different cities and towns, including ones in England, Slovenia, and Bulgaria. The Finns are hoping we might also jump on the bandwagon.

The first event earlier this year drew 40 different pop-up concepts, set up in people’s homes, offices, streets, parks, beaches, and even on “carpet washing docks.” Whatever those are. The northernmost restaurant popped up in Inari, some 125 miles from the Arctic Sea. Entries this weekend will include the offal-heavy menu of Restaurant Heart & Blood, the Raw Food Cart, and something called “The American Heart Attack,” in Helsinki, which will specialize in county-fair concoctions, like deep-fried cheese balls, chocolate-coated bacon, and “Mars Bar cheesecake lowered on a basket from a second-floor window.” It’s an event after our own hearts, of course, but we’re afraid those crazy Scandis are on their own.

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Reindeerspotting: A Junkie’s Tale

Junkies are junkies wherever you go, and in this gonzo doc, the ashen, frigid cityscapes of Finland are home to a busy tribe of thieving hopheads devoted to the smack stand-in Subutex. Off-screen, director Joonas Neuvonen admits in an early title that he, too, uses daily, and indeed the film slouches and skitters along with a druggie’s lazy eye and penchant for serendipity. (Another HD video advantage: self-focus.) His protagonist and dope-buddy Jani is a scarecrow of a handsome teen who’s already had two fingers axed off in a dispute; his varied and intense ingestion of chemicals allows for an in-depth discussion of the hows and whats, but it’s also as tiresome as hanging with high friends when you’re sober, all of the action and amusement trapped in their skulls. Mostly pathetic but on occasion grimly funny (watching Christmastime reindeer races, a blasted idiot topples two stories to the street below, all caught in real-time by Neuvonen’s lens), Reindeerspotting eventually lights out for the frontier, like so many crazed-youth films before it. (In France, Subutex is free to junkies.) The Mediterranean sunlight intoxicates the Finns, but predictably it’s a dire road to nowhere.

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Into Eternity: Where the Past Meets the Future in a Wintry Ground Zero

Danish artist Michael Madsen’s Into Eternity, which had its local premiere at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, documents an anti-monument to negativity. Admirably forward-thinking, if undeniably quixotic, Finland’s government has undertaken the task of digging a hole in which to bury nuclear waste deep in the earth. Located 100 miles northwest of Helsinki, Onkalo (Finnish for “hiding place”) is intended to last 100,000 years; the first—and, so far, the only—such tomb (which will hold only a fraction of the world’s spent nuclear fuel) is a place that, as the filmmaker puts it, humans must remember to forget.

As befits its science-fiction premise, much of Into Eternity purports to address the people of the future—perhaps they will happen upon Onkalo (“this place where you should never come”) just as a group of French teenagers stumbled upon the cave paintings at Lascaux in 1940. The rest of the movie addresses the nature of these future people, as discussed by Onkalo’s creators, an eminently reasonable cast of engineers, scientists, and academics, mainly ensconced in pristine laboratories. Will the future people recognize as poison that which has been interred in this vast cavern or, as in some fatal myth, will they mistake it for something else? What should be put on the warning marker? Could any inscription deter the tomb raiders of 102,000 A.D.? Someone suggests Munch’s The Scream. (How about the last 20 minutes of Kiss Me Deadly?) Human nature being what it is, any warning might only incite curiosity. But then again, extrapolating human nature tens of thousands of years into the future is a fool’s game—a “decision under uncertainty,” one scientist explains, an equation rife with unknowns. A civilization of giant cockroaches might well feed on Onkalo’s treasure.

Into Eternity is not so much warning (although it is that) as head trip. Madsen’s crisp, coolly symmetrical images evoke both the clean lines of Finnish functional design and Errol Morris’s formalism—as does the gravitas-inducing slo-mo and ironic use of music (Sibelius, Varèse, Kraftwerk). Defamiliarizing the snowy Nordic landscape, this delicately lurid documentary has a somber beauty. It is meant to boggle the mind and inspire awe—and it does. As in 2001 or The Time Machine, the story of the human race comes full circle. The unknown past meets the unknowable future in a wintry ground zero.

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‘Gowanus Jazz Festival’

As a child in Helsinki, Frank Carlberg was taken with acrobats, clowns, jugglers, and the amusement park music that motivated each of ’em. The pianist’s Tivoli Trio has a new self-titled disc that mashes the methodology of these circus sounds, creating a jittery program of novel melodies. Their manipulation process—twisting the tunes in all sorts of ways—is a hoot. The final week of this Brooklyn fest also features Craig Taborn’s trio; the wily keyb-meister has a zillion ways of messing with texture and groove, whether he’s playing electric or acoustic.

Sat., May 22, 8 & 9:30 p.m., 2010

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HIM

For sure Finland’s number-one goth-metal group, HIM have been threatening an American breakthrough for nearly seven years, ever since Bam Margera began bigging-up the band on MTV. Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, their rather baroquely titled new one, may finally do the trick—it sounds like black-clad Bon Jovi. With We Are the Fallen, who are Evanescence minus Amy Lee plus Carly Smithson, who was on American Idol a few seasons back. With Dommin and Drive A.

May 7-9, 7:30 p.m., 2010

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FUNNY BUSINESS

Though it’s possible you may not be familiar with the name Del Close, you certainly know his acolytes—Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Bill Murray, and Mike Myers are just a few who were influenced by the late master of modern improvisational theater in Chicago. The 11th annual Del Close Marathon, founded by his students of the Upright Citizens Brigade, is a three-day festival of nonstop comedy (yes, there are actually shows at 5 a.m.), featuring improvisers from across the U.S. and Canada, and even a team from Finland. Shows will be held at UCBT, Hudson Guild Theater, Urban Stages, and F.I.T.’s Kate Murphy Amphitheater. Highlights include the “30 Rock-Prov,” with the writers and actors of the hit show; a very exciting reunion of the UCBT house team Respecto Montalban, with Human Giant’s Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer and former Daily Show correspondent Rob Riggle; and legendary improv team the Swarm. Don’t forget the Red Bull.

Aug. 14-16, 2009