arts 11.15.04


Even MUG, from time to time, has to look beyond the confines of our own sweet five boroughs. And nothing has captured our imagination lately more than the little-known country of Molvanîa

Despite being one of the smallest countries in Europe, the Republic of Molvania has much to offer the discerning tourist. Panoramic scenery, magnificent neoclassical architecture and centuries of devotion to fine culture are, admittedly, all in short supply. But the intrepid traveler will still find plenty to enjoy within this unique, landlocked nation state — from the capital Lutenblag, with its delightful gas-powered tram network, to the heavily forested Postenwalj Mountains in the south, where visitors can share a glass of locally brewed zeerstum (garlic brandy)…

OK, what is this? It's actually a fake guidebook about a fake country that genuinely had us laughing out loud. Written by Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, and Rob Sitch (supposedly published by the Jetlag Travel Guide series, but actually Overlook, $13.95), what makes this book such a treat is less the depiction of the hapless Molvanîans (the subtitle of the book is A Land Untouched By Modern Dentistry) than it is the perfect parody of the whole guidebook genre. Earnest and upbeat in tone, despite Molvanîa's manifold shortcomings, it's a dead ringer for a real guidebook, complete with color-coded pages, maps, hotel and dining recommendations, and an overleaf that contains Common Symbols Used in This Guide (these include museum/gallery, church, zoo, cement works, quarry…)

Notes on everything Molvanîan:
· As a general rule, spring and autumn tend to be wet, winter is bitterly cold and in the summer the heat can be oppressive.

· Lutenblag and Svetranj are linked by one of the only cobblestone autobahns in all of Europe.

· Szlonko Busjbusj (1891-1948) is known as the Father of Modern Molvanîa. Among his accomplishments, shortening the alphabet by 33 letters.

· Sasava is a town in the Western Plateau. The local dialect features one of the most heavily aspirated "h's" in linguistic history. Sasavan cuisine prides itself on local regional flavors, which perhaps explains why so many dishes feature the pickle.

· Common expressions include Wakuz Dro Brugka Spazibo, which means good luck (literally 'May God send you a sturdy donkey').

· The relaxed, friendly bistro Tbzut was a favorite of Sjerezo writer and bon vivant Gyorz Vlerbek who ate here regularly until his death in 1996 from salmonella poisoning.

Some may be offended by the premise of the book, the humor is occasionally forced, and it's certainly a one-joke stunt. Having said that, it's one of the funniest books we've read in years. And we wish you Wakuz Dro Brugka Spazibo.
2 Events
Our indefatigable friends over at Gothamist are hosting a concert tomorrow (Tuesday) night called Movable Hype at the Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard [Church/Bway] 212.219.3132. For $10 (in advance, $12 on the day), you get to hear some bands on the rise — The Fresh, Sons of Sound, Snowden, Asobi Seksu — and all proceeds go to a NYC public school music program. Music starts at 8pm, doors open at 7pm.

This Wednesday, the season of shopping and giving starts in style with a Holiday Accessory Sale Benefit. The shopping part: you'll find bags, scarves, and jewelry from designers such as BCBG, Nicole Miller, Stuart Weitzman, Marc Jacobs, and Bulgari (at 20% off or more), a silent auction, cocktails, and hors d'oeuvres. The giving part: the sale benefits Shop Well With You, a national not-for-profit organization that helps women with a history of cancer improve their body image and quality of life by using clothing as a means toward wellness. The event takes place at Artists Space, 38 Greene [Grand/Broome] 3rd Flr., starting at 7pm. Tickets are $50 in advance, $65 at the door, available here or by calling 800.799.6790.

recent entries

What the World Needs

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth

See all articles in ARTS

Get a daily dose of MUG
right in your Inbox.