Six picks: recommendations from the Monitor staff

Richie Havens's latest gently impassioned CD, sixties design in an electrifyingly colorful book, cable hit "Mad Men" on their second season, and more.

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WAKING UP TO THE 1960S

This sumptuous, budget-priced book of electrifyingly colorful furniture, clothing, rock, and film posters manages to accomplish what few books about the sixties achieve. By adroitly sorting designs into space age and pop culture themes, British design maven Philippe Garner unearths the roots of sixties psychedelic fantasies in 1900 Art Nouveau. Better yet, he omits the usual Woodstock Festival photo panoramas and presents oddball images like protesters at Expo 67 wildly agitated about conflicting definitions of beauty. Sixties Design (Taschen, $14.99) is less eye candy for nostalgia seekers than a provocative sourcebook of design concepts spawned by a decade refusing to fade away.

Ad men, mad men

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Fresh from their surprise, 16 Emmy nominations this past week, the men (and women) of the basic cable hit, AMC's Mad Men triumphantly return for a second season. This retro drama about the cutthroat world of Madison Avenue ad men in the 1960s is a high-gloss, high-concept, highly stylized dramedy of manners. Tune in July 27 at 10 p.m. ET to see where today's mass media really began.

what the neighbor said

You know what you think about your favorite or least favorite TV show, but only the government knows for sure what your neighbor thinks. Now with the help of a new website, tvshowcomplaints.org, it takes only a moment of your Internet time and form-filling skills to request copies of the earnest, occasionally hilarious, sometimes outrageous opinions of Americans about TV shows. Added plus: Once you master filling out the necessary Freedom of Information Act request, who knows for what better purposes you could use that skill.

Lost in transition

When an Egyptian police orchestra is invited to a festival in Israel, their itinerary – and lives – take an unexpected detour in The Band's Visit, now out on DVD. One of the best-reviewed foreign films of 2007, this slice-of-life tale is a subtly comedic look at what happens when cultures collide.

Slice of Havens

Forty years after Woodstock, folk singer Richie Havens remains gently impassioned about the state of the world on Nobody Left to Crown. It's evident in his song choices: Jackson Browne's "Life in the Balance," Citizen Cope's "Hurricane Waters," and The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again." Havens's own title track is both sprightly and thoughtful.

Armchair art connoisseur

Take a tour of art openings around the world, listen to artists explain their inspiration, get front row seats at art performances, and even upload your own videos. It's all at the revamped Saatchi Gallery's online TV: www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/saatchionline_tv/index.php.

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