M. A. Numminen
The Roskapankki bar tests the mental endurance of the foreign visitor.
M. A. Numminen is a leading figure in the Finnish underground and alternative music scene. For the larger public in the 1960s, his radical take on culture made him a kind of agent provocateur. At the same time, he is also a beloved children's musician, visual artist, and author. His distinctive singing voice is recognised by all Finns. One of his most famous acts is the duo Gommi ja Pommi, in which Numminen sings dressed up as a rabbit.
Few Helsinkians know the city as well as M. A. Numminen. The city of Helsinki often appears in his music as its own character. During his student years, Numminen researched the old slang of Helsinki and its speakers. In the 1980s he worked as a tour guide for the City of Helsinki.
Aside from knowing all the restaurants in town, M. A. Numminen has left his own mark on Finnish bar culture. He wrote the cult book Baarien mies (Man of Bars) in the 1980s which portrays around 300 local pubs in Finland.
M. A. Numminen lives on Caloniuksenkatu in Töölö with his wife, only 300 metres away from the renowned meeting point of cultural radicals, the artist restaurant Elite. The establishment is naturally first on M. A. Numminen's list.
Elite is my second living room. As a student, I would save money with my friends for months to have dinners at fancy places like Elite, Torni, or Kämp. Nowadays, the clientele is luckily quite mixed, and Elite is no longer the number one place for spotting celebrities. I usually order the Baltic herring which is supposed to be fried very crisp and brown! My drink of choice is often the dark beer Laiskajaakko.
Roskapankki is the Helsinki bar that most resembles the age-old beer houses that I presented in my book in 1986. I recently shared a beer at Roskapankki with a German journalist for an interview. The place is a genuine workers' bar where the mental endurance of a guest is really put to the test. The staff are already used to me bringing in foreign guests.
When I heard that Wagner's Parsifal will be performed at the National Opera this spring, I booked two tickets at once. I think people should educate themselves especially around topics that they don't immediately understand. It makes sense to start with the operas of, for example, Mozart and Verdi, which have good stories and most of all melodies. The opera also has an intended comicality to it and it's completely not forbidden to have a laugh at it.
G Livelab is a performance venue operated by the Finnish Musicians' Union. The best thing about it is the one-of-a-kind sound system by Genelec. It permits front-row sound quality from anywhere in the room, even from the back of the bar. I will present some of my classic compositions and rock poetry at G Livelab in mid-March.
I used to visit the Academic Bookstore when I was young to read different kinds of art and science books that I couldn't afford. At that time, the Academic Bookstore was known around Europe for its huge selection. Although the offering has dramatically decreased, a more diverse bookstore has yet to appear in Finland. Nowadays I regularly pick up the German weekly Die Zeit there, also as a self-chosen responsibility to educate my nearest and dearest on what is happening in Central Europe.
We go on a stroll at the Hietaniemi Cemetery together with my wife every now and then. It is a magnificent, vast area suitable for taking shelter from the ruckus of cars and trams. The tombstones and sculptures hold an incredible amount of history.