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Cultural Calendar

Selected Shorts: Etgar Keret & Gary Shteyngart, Symphony Space, April 17

Sponsored by Tablet Magazine, the Symphony Space hosts Selected Shorts: Etgar Keret and Gary Shteyngart. Featuring a slew of other writers along with these famed names, the night promises to be filled with “strange situations” and “kooky misunderstandings” showing “the world turned around and upside down and just the way it is.” Shteyngart’s debut, The Russian Debutante's Handbook was the recipient of the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction. Keret is an acclaimed Israeli fiction writer, screenwriter, and graphic novelist. Other readers include Willem Dafoe, Parker Posey, Denis O'Hare, and Alex Karpovsky.

To the Wonder, a film by Terrence Malick, now at New York area theaters

Terrence Malick, the very definition of an American cinematic auteur, is back with a new film about love, existence, and the whisper of eternity at the heart of every soul. The film, To the Wonder, is of a piece with his previous film, The Tree of Life, that looked at the lives of a small Texas family through the specter of Cosmology itself, The Big Bang onward. This film follows Neal, played by Ben Affleck, as he falls in love with Marina, played by Olga Kurylenko, and then Jane, played by Rachel Mcadams. Javier Bardem plays a priest who sees himself as increasingly at odds with his divine mission, who finds solace in the eternal pillar of love. There is the requisite classical score, cinematography that turns the camera into an eyeglass of the divine, capturing the beauty in curves and heights sculpted by God and man alike, and of course, the pondering gaze of the actors themselves, quietly emoting and gesticulating their way to meaning. If you want to see a film that is concerned with issues beyond small notions of action and romance, you have no better vision to follow.

National Record Day, Worldwide, April 20

April 20 is Record Store Day, celebrating record store culture at 700 stores nationally and internationally. Head out to a local independent music store for special prices, special releases, and exclusive performances. Participating stores in New York include In Living Stereo and Good Records NYC. In ­­Living Stereo will feature Alex Bleeker and the Freaks and Prince Ruperts Drops, with free PBR from noon and on.

Claes Oldenburg: The Street and The Store, Claes Oldenburg: Mouse Museum/Ray Gun Wing, MoMA, opens April 15

The exhibit highlights the sculptor's prolific career in the 60s and 70s. Head to the sixth floor of MoMA for The Street and The Store, in which Oldenburg highlights two different environments; the New York downtown street scene, and the commercial garishness of the store. Both Mouse Museum and Ray Gun Wing are small museums housed on MoMA’s second floor atrium, depicting the artist’s archival understanding of pop culture.

Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich, available on now

What does disaster look like on paper? Numbers, of course. Beyond that? What currency does the raw data of expecting the worst deal in? Risk. Mitchell Zukor, fresh from an unsatisfying job as a quant for a midsize financial firm takes a job in a new and shadowy firm called FutureWorld, he is hooked by a simple question: What will the future cost you? Odds Against Tomorrow by journalist and novelist Nathaniel Rich answers those questions, turning the neurotic and beleaguered Mitchell into a prophet of the new age of worry, prompted by city-destroying earthquakes, miserable droughts, and the ever rising tide. The sentences in this blackly comic jeremiad sparkle and snap like a fateful solar flare, and the otherwise bleak tale goes down smoothly. Though encroaching death of a civilization looms over these pages, you will not be able to stop turning them till the end. This book is as good a diversion as any, in a bomb shelter anyway.

Lloyd Ziff, Danziger Gallery, opens April 18

Lloyd Ziff photographed Patti Smith and Robert Magglethorpe between 1968 and 1969. A friend of Magglethorpe’s from Pratt, Ziff photographed the couple in black and white during a pivotal time of their relationship. Said Ziff: “They were both very young, and I found them very beautiful. I asked to come over to their place one day to shoot portraits of them. They were among the first double portraits I shot.” Patti Smith’s Just Kids gives her perspective only on what the couple was like. These photographs are bound to provide an even more insider (or outsider) view on the couple’s tortured and glorious relationship.

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, available now on

Reno is the protagonist of Kushner’s second novel, following Kushner’s first novel Telex from Cuba, nominated for a National Book Award. Reno, hailing from Reno, Nevada, is a young artist and motorcycle aficionado, trying to make it in New York. Soho and the East Village are alive with a fire; art is bursting out of the seams of New York’s downtown streets in the 1970s. Somehow, Reno fall in with an Italian artist Sandro and falls in with a radical movement in Italy. Megan O’Grady of Vogue wrote that “the novel’s brilliance is in its understanding of art’s relationship to risk, and in its portrait of Reno’s—and New York’s—age of innocence.” This looks to be a fictional novel that still manages to provide an historical picture of the New York scene in the 70s.

Brooklyn Zine Fest, Public Assembly, April 21

Zines fall somewhere between magazines and art objects. These self-published, often homemade, book-like pamphlets cover every and any type of alternative subject matter. On April 21, from 11AM-6PM visit the Public Assembly in Williamsburg for the Brooklyn Zine Fest. The fest will feature over 80 vendors, selling zines ranging from $1 to $10. Expect to see the latest a variety of writers, artists and publishers have to offer. The best part is entry to the festival itself is completely free, so come out for a taste of the non-commercial and independent.

Mathew E. White, live at the Bowery Ballroom, May 12

Like a more God fearing Nick Cave, Mathew E. White and his big band, often ranging from 9 to 12 players, run ragged over many strains of rock, blues, and gospel. From the slow Motown groove and purr of “Baby Will You Love Me,” to the ZZ Top boogie of “Big Lobe,” White, last in town supporting the Mountain Goats, puts on one hell of a live show. The riffs crackle, the bass slithers, and the horns and strings bring it on home. He even manages to construct an epic tale of the Underground Railroad in Brazos, the galloping basslines and Jesus inflected chorus following two slaves in love to freedom. His scope is only as big as his sound. Catch them before finals, and see what big old time rock and roll sounds like.