Learn about the rise and fall and rise of hallucinogenic mushrooms, the fight for tenant rights in Poland, and re-appreciate the street art you no longer notice, with this week’s worthy readings and talks. 

Thursday, August 14

Mmmmmmmushrooms (Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Mmmmmmmushrooms (Photo courtesy of Flickr)


Psychedelic drugs reaching a hallucination-drenched, kaleidoscopically patterned saturation point in the 1960s and 70s, during the zenith of American and European counterculture movements. Sadly, peak-mushroom was unsustainable. By 1966 most psychedelics were illegal, and the trade and use of them was driven underground. Then, decades later, George H.W. Bush named the 1990s “the decade of the brain,” in an attempt to spur on brain research and the field of neuroscience. A new generation of enthusiastic psychopharmacologists, armed with psilocybin from Switzerland and funding from Silicone Valley, brought psychedelics back into mainstream science and society. Emily Segal, co-founder of trend forecasting group K-HOLE, will speak with Nicolas Langlitz, an anthropologist and historian of science, about his investigation of this renaissance.
7pm, Swiss Institute (18 Wooster St), FREE

Pitchfork Review’s New Issue Release Party

In November 2013, Pitchfork—a leading alt music publication that had survived 17 years in cyberspace—announced it would be bringing long-form music features and columns into the analogue world, in the form of a print publication. Now, Pitchfork Review is celebrating the release of its third issue with a soiree at Housing Works. There’ll be readings by editor-in-chief Mark Richardson, writer Jenn Pelly and editor Lindsay Zoladz. Editor Larry Fitzmaurice moonlights as DJ Richard Pretty, and will be performing sets as his altergego. Dee Dee from Dum Dum Girls will also be making some noise, in a live solo set.
7pm, Housing Works Bookstore (126 Crosby Street), FREE

Friday, August 15

blood copy “Blood and Happiness”: Crime writer Kenneth Wishnia and comix artist Leah Wishnia examine society’s absurdities
In this father/daughter joint-presentation, the Wishnias will discuss how they use distortion, humor, and the grotesque to depict society’s absurdities, in crime novels and comics respectively. Kenneth Wishnia is an award-winning crime writer. His latest novel Blood Lake follows an Ecuadorian-American PI into the violence, corruption, and social unrest of her native country, and has been judged “dazzling,” by Booklist. Wishnia’s daughter Leah is a comic artists, and editor/publisher of HAPPINESS, a biannual comic and art magazine.
7pm, Bluestockings (172 Allen Street), FREE

Film screening: Tenants for Sale
poland copy The Base is all about direct action, and this film screening is no different. Tenants for Sale documents the efforts of a tenants’ group living in Poland, as they attempt to resist eviction and expose the dubious business practices of landlords who hire “tenement cleaners” to enforce brutal expulsions. Despite taking a specific setting, the documentary raises larger questions about the nature of modern housing politics, in which tenants are treated as products and sold with the buildings by landlords, with impunity. The film was made by indie Polish film group Kontrplan, and some members of the collective will be at the screening for questions and discussion.
8:30pm-11pm, The Base Brooklyn (1302 Myrtle Avenue, at Stockholm), FREE

Tuesday, August 19

ourselves copyMatthew Thomas in Conversation with Joshua Ferris
Matthew Thomas’s debut novel We are Not Ourselves has already made it to the Guardian First Book award longlist, and been called “powerfully moving,” by Chad Harbach, so the likelihood that it’s rubbish is slim to none. The book itself is not slim, clocking in at 640 pages, but if the intimations are correct (particularly the insinuation that we have a “new Jonathan Franzen” in our midst), those 640 pages probably lend themselves to swift turning. As for plot, what we’ve got here is an “epic in scope” multigenerational novel about an Irish-American family, which uses the characters to tell the story of the oft-illusory American Century. Thomas will be in conversation with Joshua Ferris, whose novel To Rise Again at a Decent Hour has been longlisted for the 2014 Man Booker.
7pm, McNally Jackson (52 Prince Street), FREE

Outdoor Gallery with Yoav Litvin and Jilly Ballistic

(Photo courtesy of Yoav Litvin)

(Photo courtesy of Yoav Litvin)

If you are somehow, inexplicably, feeling starved of street art, you could pop out to Bushwick (you could even take a tour! On second thoughts, please don’t), or you could swing by WORD next Tuesday. Yoav Litvin is a photographer, writer and scientist, and his recent book Outdoor Gallery – New York City documents the public artworks scattered across the city. The photographs are accompanied by interviews with artists, exploring their work, and the current state and future of the medium. Litvin will be joined by artist Jilly Ballistic (“Street Art’s Black Sheep”) for an interactive presentation on NYC’s dynamic (and frequently endangered) outdoor art culture.
7pm, WORD Brooklyn (126 Franklin Street), FREE, Facebook RSVP here