Blogs FREE! Blog

FREE! goes to Eurovision

Actually, our “Euro-week” started last Sunday, early in the morning when both editors appeared on Subtv thanks to the invitation of Markku from Finland, this special and genuine ambassador of Finnish culture who, with tones of humour, discovers the particular secrets of living in Suomi. It was fun, and we had a good time with the guys there in the studio, although we were a bit nervous in front of the camera since we are most used to other media where our face is not so directly “visible” for the audience, as radio shows. Minutes later, in their backstage, we took revenge and shot with our video-camera a short and funny interview with Markku from Finland that we hope we will be able to show you soon in our website.

The week started amazingly fast and busy on Monday. Lots of interviews that included an interesting visit to Suomelinna, and lot of events to be covered and promotion to be done. Late at night wee checked the anniversary party of Bar Loose at Tavastia but before that, we had a new “Eurovision bath” at the official welcoming party at Finlandia Hall. Everybody was there, the artists, the journalists, the fans… 

FREE! Magazine editors, dressed with our glamorous t shirts (if you were at the party you cannot miss two Spanish guys with red fluorescent t shirts that can be spotted 1 kilometer away with our slogan “Take me, I ´m FREE” on the back…) jumped into the crowd with no idea of who singer was who (The girl from Moldova seemed not to appreciate much my lack of knowledge about her…) and pretty soon, well equipped with some beers in our hand, had interested conversations there with other journalists colleagues, with our beloved Spanish ambassador, with Markku from Finland who came to greet us again (we should sign a contract with these guys… better expressed they should sign a contract with us) and also with some waiters and workers in the “naarikka”. Half Finlandia Talo was crowded with Spanish people everywhere; it seems that our native country really loves the event…  And even one waiter was Spanish (Antonio…same that our ambassador Antonio… nice name indeed…sometimes even crazy editors have that name too ;) ) .

We have notice a lack of organization at some venues like Messukeskus, where the information point seems to be made to create the opposite reaction, but we must recognize that the welcome party was fabulous. Good and varied music, excellent food and a great atmosphere. Everybody was having a good time, specially the happy people from the gay community. All the fans taking pictures with their favourite singers, and a lot of Finnish pretty people around. Ola Salo, who is not Finnish but Swedish from the participant band The Ark also showed up there, acting as the real rock-star he is (for good and for bad sake) and practically same status quo yesterday Tuesday at Vanha, where the same people seemed to be holding the same glasses of wine in a new party. This time the editors took it easier, since there is (even) lots of work still to be done.

Maybe you like Eurovision, maybe you hate it, but you cannot deny the special attraction of having the chance to drink beer for FREE!

Blogs FREE! Blog

Say with a song

Dozens of events, concerts and street parties (let’s pray for good weather so everybody will be able to enjoy the outdoors happenings) that will export the image of Finland to the rest of the world. You may like it or not, but definitely you cannot deny the impact of the contest worldwide. In any case, if you live near the centre of Helsinki, there is no way to escape from the Eurovision fever. So as a wise man once said, if you cannot defeat them…join them!

There will be thousands of visitors coming during the following weeks. For many of those, the Helsinki Tourist Office is the first place where you can collect information about the cultural events and the wide amount of possibilities that the city and the country have to offer. There you can find FREE! too. Or not?

Some of you may have found the absence of copies of FREE! Magazine at the Tourist Office during the previous month strange. It seems that our cover crossed the line for the people responsible there, and they preferred to “store” our magazine in the back room. If you had the chance to see the cover, you can judge for yourself if it deserved such a punishment. If you didn't see it, visit our website and download the last issue.

In any case, we find it very sad that our audience was not allowed to enjoy the diverse articles we prepared with such effort just because of a personal opinion about an illustration that had no other purpose than teasing the curiosity of the reader. It seems that some censorship practices are still in use, even in such a freedom loving country as Finland.

So for the rest of you who grabbed a copy of the present issue, do not just stop at this editorial. Turn the pages and discover the exciting contents we have, from the most unusual Finnish literature to the trendiest indie rock bands. Or just forget your worries and shake your body exploring the contemporary dance Finland has to offer.

Go to concerts, watch the new exciting film titles that arrive to the big screen, and basically enjoy life…with no censorship. Be FREE!

Antonio's blog Blogs

Discovering Bukowski

And after it, I just can say that I
love it. I love his raw style. I love how he expresses so frankly his
disconformities with the world where he lived. I think that his texts
are overall honest, and this is an adjective that you do not find
easily in our contemporary times lately. Bukowski has no hope or love
for the rest of the human beings, and he is not afraid to show it.
So let’s be honest for one time as well, and answer to me, what
kind of people do you meet more often, nice and friendly, or
assholes? How is it possible that some people with no talent or
extremely bad taste have a huge success, and the intelligent ones
struggle to survive day after day? This world is a strange place with
strange rules, but these books gave me hope actually. They are
refreshing in those moments when I think that the rest of the
humankind has let me down, because maybe, we expect too much from the
humankind, and at the end, everyone has to carry his own ghosts in
the most decent way.

Definitely spring has started up my joy
of reading! And after devouring Bukowski´s works, I thought
that it would be nice to change the author, so since I watched weeks
ago the excellent film Capote, I have started today the book
Music for Chameleons from the genial American writer who made
a revolution in writing style with his “non-fiction” novel In
Cold Blood
. And what I read today. I must admit I liked it a lot.

Somebody said that a man is worthy
depending on how many books he has read. I think that it is not true.
A man is worthy depending on how many book he has read + how much
music he has listened to + how many films he has watched…
Of course, I am joking, but if you let me give you one advice, now
that the sunny days have come to the city, grab a book and sit in a
park to enjoy the pleasure of reading (well, just take care it is not
cold enough that your ears get frozen during the experiment).

I must not be much of a worthy man,
since I have discovered Bukowski with 27…well, at least I try my
best when the making of FREE! Magazine spares me with some
free time. So many things to discover, and always the problem of free
time…Tempus fugit…

Blogs FREE! Blog

Cheap, crazy and yellow


“It all started twenty years ago – tells mr Karl Stockmann, director of Stockmann's
department stores in Finland – we’re member of a department stores association
and at the time the Galerie Lafayette was doing something similar. We liked the
idea, we studied it and we started. We believed so much in it we even registered
the name Hullut päivät – Crazy days”.The name clearly hints at the amazingly
low prices the most diverse items have on the four ‘crazy days’, but had this
been the only peculiarity of the Hullut Päivät you wouldn’t have been able to
tell them from any other ordinary sale.The craze starts with
the distribution, by mail if you’re a faithful Stockmann customer, of the yellow
booklet where all the different items on sales during the four crazy days are

{mosimage}A quick glance immediately reveals what’s different: all the items will
be on sale on different days, and if you really want to buy that pair of shoes
you’ll have to go on Wednesday, whilst the flight ticket to Barcelona – only 160
€ – could be yours on Saturday but not on Thursday! Every day different items
are being sold, and what you could get on Thursday is not at all what you can
buy on Friday. But beware: not all the reduced-price items are listed on the
booklet, and really all sort of goods are on sale, even cars!
Yellow is the
color of the Hullut Päivät – “to distinguih them from ordinary sales – tells us
Mr Stockmann – whose color is red”.
Inside Stockmann, twice a year, from
Wednesday to Saturday, Stockmann everything is yellow: yellow flags, yellow
banners, yellow ghosts, yellow t-shirted shop assistants, you can even eat
yellow ghost-shaped
And this craze
it’s being exported: last Autumn to Moscow and before to the Baltic
states. No wonder: “ we organize the Hullut Päiväit twice a year, and of
course it depends, but they make for about the 10% of our yearly turn over” Mr
Stockmann says.

Antonio's blog Blogs

And with the spring…the 3rd issue of FREE!

I still have the feeling that many people don´t know about the existance of FREE! Well, for those who are missing the fun, now it is about to know about us. And with the new cover in our 3rd issue, I am sure that loving it or hating it, it is going to create some impact, because it is definitely a catchy illustration (…and a catchy cover story, although I must say that I think we have treated the topic of sex with a lot of respect, although as well with sense of humour).

By the way, if you see any day a dark haired guy refilling one of the stands-teline of FREE! Magazine with newspapers, salutate me. We are not all day long sitting in front of our computers, quite the opposite. We, the editors, do a bit of everything.

I was a couple of hours ago in Bar Loose, one of my favourite places in Helsinki. Not only for the rock music, that is good, but also because it gives me a good vibe, it reminds me to a typical rock bar in Spain, and there are not many bars in Finland that can remind me to my homeland bars. The clients there go often, so at the end everybody knows everybody, and hours seem to pass by without noticing it. Today there was a concert by a band called Ceesar, where one of the waiters play, and actually they were quite good, I enjoyed the concert pretty much.

Some of you must have realized that FREE! is moving around, trying to spread our name. This month, we  appear with and ad in Clubland leaflet, and we will have a stand-teline in the Sexhibition, for all those who apart from "sexy time", would feel like having something to read in English. We were also last month in Tampere Film Festival, delivering copies and making some promotion. It was nice to assist, the quality of the projections is very high, and apart from that, I personally got impressed with the energy of Jonas Mekas, the 84 years old Lithuanian director. The man conserves all his lucidity and a great joy of life. It was 11:30 at night and he could appear in a club ordering some drinks  and chatting with audience, instead of being sleeping at his hotel room. Frankly impressive!

And some recomendations before ending up today. Last films I saw recently and enjoyed pretty much: Little Miss Sunshine and Capote (Seymour Hoffman is great in whatever role he plays. And if you still have not read In Cold Blood, I don´t know what you are waiting for…). In music, pay attention to the new Finnish band The Jade, I was positively delighted with the discovery. And please, be FREE! with us! Send us your pictures or your questions without answers in Tell me Why section for the next paper edition, sign our guestbook, or just simply write a couple of lines to but always remember (remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot…)  that this magazine is overall planned for your joy.

Blogs FREE! Blog

FREE! Porn

Our cover story
aims at giving a glimpse into the porn industry in Finland. Even when being a relatively
small market, there are several native stars with interesting opinions to be
heard. The small size of the market also makes it perfect for new genres and
trends in making porn films, such as amateur commercial short films.

The music market
in Finland
is also small, but Finnish bands are ready to jump overseas. Some days ago,
several bands traveled to Austin, Texas, to participate in the South by
Southwest festival – this must be one of the largest music festivals in the world.
Over one week, it unites hundred of bands of any style and origin. Eleven bands
from Finland played there: Callisto, Lodger, KTU, I Walk the Line, Rubik,
Astrid Swan, Lapko, Disco Emsemble, Irina Bjorklund & Peter Fox,
22-Pistepirkko and The Crash. This is a good example that Finnish rock music is
something other than Lordi. In this issue you will read about the band Rubik discussing
their debut album only a few days before leaving to the United States. Before
traveling to Texas, Kimmo Pohjonen (of KTU) also spoke to FREE! Magazine. He is
an interesting character who spans different genres with his accordion, from
folk to avant garde, when not scoring music for films.

Don’t stop there!
You will find many more fascinating topics on comics, exhibitions, opera,
historical figures, curiosities and cinema, plus the best tips for your FREE!

Whether you decide
to relax and watch some porn or prepare your schedule for the massive number of
summer festivals, we are sure that spring will be an exciting warming up season
for you. Of course, full of FREE! experiences!

Antonio's blog Blogs

February is gone… and my blog misses me

For those readers who expect that I have changed my mind and become a serious keeper of a blog in Internet…well…maybe they expect too much… By the way, are there readers there??? Eh come on guys, most of the articles in the website have not received a comment at all, and the same applies to the guestbook, with only few visits every week. If you consider that something is marvelous or just simply a shit, we will be glad that you dedicate a couple of sentences to let us know, but please write!!!
It is becoming very frustrating to have the feeling that we are alone here writing the newspaper for the reindeers…

In any case, I am going to try my best and keep the blog more updated than I have done these first couple of months, although it is not easy with this hectic life. During last weeks, we have assisted to some interesting events, and I did not want to let more time pass by before commenting them.

We were on the 20th of February watching Anna Karenina at the National Opera. I must say that I enjoyed it very much. Maybe my background has more to do with being in the middle of small clubs in rock concerts than assisting to ballet, but I must say that I really liked the performance. It was dynamic, full of plasticity, and the decoration was astonishing. That week was actually pretty much of not resting at all: On Wednesday, it was time to have an interview and assist to the later concert of The Yayhoos. You will be able to read more about them in the next issue of FREE! , but well, the concert ended up having quite a cold atmosphere due to the lack of spectators, the same that the weather outside that I am pretty sure made a lot of people stay at home instead of daring to come to Tavastia to enjoy the good music of the American band. In any case, there is nothing as good against the coldness as finishing the night with some good beers and a nice talk with the Tour Manager, who was by chance from Madrid, the same than me. “Pieni Mailmaa”, as the Finnish would say.

Two days later, it was the turn of watching Apulanta in Nosturi. I find actually the place a very cozy one for concerts, although the acoustic is not the most brilliant one, I must say. The guys from Heinola really came there to make business, and provided with another good show to the delighted audience. Many young people there, almost teenagers. And my FREE! Magazine red and yellow t shirt causing amazement and shocking the masses. Goddamn, if we wanted to cause an impression when making the T shirt, we really got it.

This is all for today from this absent minded editor who must be one of the worst in the world to promote his own magazine. In Apulanta concert, I did not bring a single copy of the magazine to the entrance of Nosturi, even when we had a three page cover story about the band… well, word to mouth must work for the moment. As again Finnish say: Elämä on!

Antonio's blog Blogs

And they say students hate them

The guy was
sharp on the phone and not very eager to do much, even when I gave him freedom
of speech (as we always do, having a magazine called FREE!… 2+2…). He gave me
some excuses saying that he has to be tomorrow in Estonia, and that he could not be
reached by phone, and obviously was not going to check the mail there. The way
he talked about Tallinn,
I could have thought that he was flying to Nepal or to Mars…  I happened to have lived in Estonia during
6 months last year…and I appreciate among other nice features of our beloved
Baltic neighbour the great access they have to wi-fi connections in every
corner of the city and every café.

I chose the
option of just sending a quick mail at 13:00
in the afternoon, was asking for a very general opinion about the theory I am
interested in reporting, and the guy had a perfectly clear idea that he was
going to receive an e-mail mail in the next hours. It is almost 01:00 at night. No answer.

I don’t know
if it is by chance, but in the short history of FREE! Magazine, it does not
happen to be the first bad encounter with university professors. When preparing
our first issues, we had negotiations with a famous academic from the History
department, about the possibility of having a monthly column in FREE! He agreed
once and again, promised to send the material, the deadline came closer and
closer…and we never had farther news from him.

Not exactly
that University teachers are in the “top 10 of beloved professions”, I would
say, quite the opposite. Obviously not still at same level that my personal “number
ones”, the transport tickets inspectors, famous for their “friendly attitude”
and “exquisite courtesy”… With these attitudes, professors are climbing fast
in the ranking as well.

I encourage
to the nice professors and people from academic world in Finland (they
really exist my friends, keep the faith) to participate and collaborate with
FREE! Help us to spread the knowledge not only inside the classrooms, but
everywhere else!

Antonio's blog Blogs

Between guerrilla and rock stars

I was introduced
to Edén Pastora a couple of days ago during the party held by the Finnish Film
Foundation, where they had an overview of the Finnish films that will be
released in the present year. Being honest, I had no idea that Edén Pastora
himself was coming to Helsinki
to assist to the Documentary festival, and I neither had much idea about the
history behind him.

Once I met him, I
felt thirsty to know about his actions and biography, so I researched a bit in
Internet. I got impressed, not only because the man is a real legend, but also
because even my parents knew very well about him!

Once more, this
teaches me that there is no day I go to sleep without having learnt something
new. And this is exactly what I love about the journalistic job: To have the
chance to meet so many different people, with such interesting background, and
be able to communicate that to the readers. To find that interesting angle,
anecdote, history, detail or whatever else that I would love to have learnt
myself if I were on the other side, as the reader of the article or the
listener of an interview.

Half an hour after
shaking hands with Edén and wishing him all the best, I am on the phone,
involved in a long distance call talking to Mick Cervino, top class bass
player, who has worked with huge names of rock scene such as Blackmore or
Mamlsteem. Recently, he visited Finland
as a member of the Swedish guitar player’s band, but this time the interview
was centered on his personal new project “Violent Storm”. You will have soon
the exclusive interview available the web page of FREE! Mick was very nice, and
we had a relaxed chat in English and Spanish (since he was born in Argentina).

I suppose that
these days , and the feeling of having the unique opportunity to be a
privileged one to get to know so much interesting people compensates the big
effort that is to start with a new publication in a foreign country. It is
really hard and stressful sometimes to take so many decisions, or even
yesterday I almost froze when I got lost in Vuosaari trying to find a place
where I had to make some business related to FREE!, but on the other hand, I
feel so satisfied that my curiosity for getting to know new stories, new people
and new angles to offer to the readers is totally fulfill with this project
that I hardly can sleep last nights, just thinking what new and exciting
encounters we will have in the future. And of course, you are very welcome to
be there to read it!

Blogs FREE! Blog

Will you take me?

FREE! Magazine
offers a new look at Finnish culture. But hey, it’s in English. That’s
right! There is already a good bunch of immigrants in Finland. Maybe
you are even one of them. We are sure many of them miss reading a
magazine or a newspaper they can easily understand.

However, FREE!
is not only for immigrants. Even more than Swedish, English is the
second language in Finland. How often do you hear the English language
while walking down Esplanadi or shopping in Kamppi? Finns are very
exposed to foreign media and the Internet has blurred the language
boundaries making English the common ground.

Still, the language does not explain why FREE!
is different. Our magazine features original in-depth articles and
interviews, with the aim of showing the wide array of cultural
happenings and products in Finland. If, for some reason or another, we
are all stuck in the country, let’s have some fun. It has a lot to
offer. FREE! is created in an honest and passionate way.

the pages of the first issue, you will find author Mikael Niemi talking
about his latest book and the Keränen brothers of 22-Pistepirkko
pass-by to comment upon their albums and projects. Comic artist Kaisa
Leka starts her tour around the world in our pages, while drummer Jay
Burnside explains the secrets of the new Flaming Sideburns album; even
the Ovi Bad Boys sneak into the FREE! pages.

You might
wonder what does culture means. To us, culture is about fun. It is
about entertainment. Let’s put political fights aside, let’s forget the
work problems. Take a big box of popcorn and watch a movie; pour a
glass of your favorite drink and read a book. But we are not naïve
either, so don’t expect only pop stories…

The team of FREE!
Magazine has worked more hours than a 7-Eleven to create its high
quality content and design. We hope you appreciate it. Visit our
website and tell us your feedback. We want FREE! to become a magazine for everyone.

Every month FREE!
Magazine will hit the streets with new exciting content and design.
Next time you see it, don’t leave it alone in the corner, just…

Take me! I’m FREE!