It’s no surprise that a Nazi-themed host bar in Japan recently opened and closed almost simultaneously. What’s remarkable is that it opened at all. The bar, Unfair, used the swastika as a promotional design, including on its champagne bottles, and dressed its young-male staff in Nazi uniforms. Social media rose up, and Unfair was undone, shuttered within 48 hours, its owners “sincerely apologiz[ing] for our lack of knowledge and awareness.”
If this rings a bell, maybe it’s because a few years ago in Japan an all-girl “idol group”—teenagers who sing and dance in sync—performed, as the Associated Press reported at the time, “in black knee-length dresses that look like military overcoats, and black capes and officer caps with a Nazi-like eagle emblem.” The group’s label, Sony Music, apologized for, yes, “our lack of understanding.”
A 33-year-old man has spent most of the last seven years at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and not just because he likes roller coasters. He’s done it for the cuisine, and the savings. “The California park’s ‘premium’ season dining pass, which includes two meals, a snack and unlimited drinks during each visit, is listed on the company’s website at $109.99, in addition to the $94.99 season-long entry pass,” reported The Times of London, calculating that “Dylan” has over the years “consumed an estimated 2,000 meals, at about 50 cents each” at the amusement park. And in the process paid off his student loan. Dylan’s strategy received an unanticipated boost when Six Flags began to introduce healthier meals. “The options aren’t that terrible,” he enthused to the newspaper.
Honestly, doing 47 in a 40 m.p.h. zone is scarcely “speeding,” so why shouldn’t Eliza Manners have argued the ticket? When the heiress/interior-design entrepreneur was so clocked in her Audi on the M4 in Brentford, she pleaded “financial hardship,” hoping for a reduction of the nearly $140 fine because to pay it “would cause me cashflow issues.”
It was a bold defense. Lady Manners, the 24-year-old daughter of the Duke of Rutland, “lives in a £700,000 [$960,000] apartment in Notting Hill,” according to The Guardian. “Manners and her siblings, Violet and Alice, have been compared to Downton Abbey’s Crawley sisters and were nicknamed the ‘bad Manners girls’ when they were regulars on London’s social scene. Her family home is Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, which has featured in The Crown and The Da Vinci Code.” The Times of London noted that two weeks before her conviction, Lady Manners, whose circus-themed 18th-birthday party had included live camels, “was pictured on Instagram posing in Yves Saint Laurent clothes on a trip to Milan.”
Still, day-to-day expenses can be tricky to balance—you don’t have to be an aristocrat to know that—and the court, swayed, possibly even moved, by her plea, halved her fine (though it also levied $115 in fees, and three penalty points). Lady Manners was evidently relieved. “On Wednesday evening,” reported The Times, “she was pictured with her mother, the Duchess of Rutland, 58, and sisters at a party at Harry’s Bar, the members’ club in Mayfair.”
Department of Airbrushed Ancestors: The North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, is said to be feeling confident enough to sever his symbolic ties to his father and grandfather and “be his own autocrat,” as one observer put it. This represents a real departure for the cult of handed-down personality that is the Kim dynasty.
“According to South Korea’s spy agency … pictures of Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il, and the founding president, Kim Il-sung, have been removed from official buildings in Pyongyang,” reported The Times of London. “State media have begun referring to Kim as ‘Great Leader’, a term formerly reserved for his grandfather, Kim Il-sung.”
Further speculation has the word “Kimjongunism,” whatever that might come to mean, entering official usage soon—the newspaper reported that South Korean intelligence has already “detected” it.
While it’s unlikely that “Kafka-esque” will ever become a synonym for cheery effervescence, our perception of a certain existential downer of a writer needs revising. Some 150 drawings by Franz Kafka, long held in a Swiss bank vault and only recently accessible at the National Library of Israel’s online database, have now been published in book form. No one’s going to mistake them for lost Disney cartoons, but it turns out that Kafka, who died in 1924, knew how to draw. “Populated by long-limbed clowns doing silly walks, Chaplin-like men with bowler hats, and slapstick horse-riding accidents, the previously unseen sketches and doodles showcase a man with a sunny imagination,” noted The Guardian. Wow: a Kafka-esque overnight transformation that presents us with an impressive draftsman instead of, oh, a gigantic insect.
When Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg’s 48-year-old prime minister, said the other day that his university thesis “could have—yes, maybe should have—been done differently,” he presumably meant that 56 of its 58 pages should not, after all, have been plagiarized. The thesis, “Toward a Possible Reform of Voting Systems in the European Parliament,” was “written” for the equivalent of a master’s degree in 1999, the same year Bettel entered parliament, and was found by the local news outlet Reporter.lu to have been almost entirely “lifted unattributed from two books, four websites and a press article,” according to The Guardian. “It said only ‘a few paragraphs in the introduction’ and ‘an equally short conclusion’ had not been copied wholesale, amounting to an exercise in plagiarism ‘unparalleled in its scope.’” Bettel has been prime minister since 2013. Unless that’s really been someone else all along.
Sadness in the land of whipped egg yolks, ladyfingers, and mascarpone: Ado Campeol, the man known as the “father of tiramisu,” has died at 93. “Although the dessert’s origins are often disputed and the family never asserted copyright over the recipe, Campeol and his wife, Alba, the owners of the restaurant Le Beccherie, are widely considered to be its inventors,” said The Guardian. And by the way: “The word tiramisù, literally translated as ‘lift me up,’ comes from the Treviso dialect’s ‘tireme su,’ and the dessert was claimed to have aphrodisiac effects.”
George Kalogerakis is a Writer at Large for Air Mail