Mark Epstein at Books and Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables; 8 p.m.; free; 305/442-4408 or www.booksandbooks.com
New York-based psychiatrist Mark Epstein frequently asks a question that is probably foreign to most American clinicians: What would the Buddha do? A practicing Buddhist who has long integrated eastern traditions into his practice – four of his previous books have the word “Buddhist” in the title – Epstein’s latest tome challenges the exclusivity and impermeability of both eastern and western therapies in dealing specifically with traumatic experiences. “The Trauma of Everyday Life,” which hit stores last week, looks beyond the standard solutions to everyday traumas offered on both sides of the world to forge a new, confrontational approach. Epstein will speak and sign copies at this Books and Books event.
Thursday and Saturday
Opening of “Valyn Calhoun: Retrospective” at ActivistArtistA Gallery, 422 W. Industrial Ave., Boynton Beach; 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday and 7 p.m. Friday; free; 786/521-1199
Under “religious beliefs” on his Facebook page, artist Valyn Calhoun lists “necromancy.” Under “political beliefs,” he professes “anarchy.” These two insights should prepare audiences, somewhat, for this controversial Fort Lauderdale-based photographer’s mindset, which will be vividly explored at this retrospective at the Boynton Beach Arts District. He’s a portraitist as well as an experimental artist, with penchants for homoeroticism, fetishism, nudity, eyes wide open, Rorschachian doubling, superimpositions and unnecessary censorship or, rather, commentaries on such censorship. Rolando Chang Barrero, curator of the ActivistArtsistA Gallery, is expecting this show to be the summer’s most-attended exhibition, with two opening dates: the first, at tonight’s monthly District Art Walk, and again on Aug. 24 for a VIP Grand Reception; for admission to Saturday’s show, email Rolando at email@example.com.
Optic Nerve Video Festival at Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 N.E. 125th St., North Miami; 7 p.m.; included with museum admission of $5 adults and $3 students and seniors; 305/893-6211 or www.mocanomi.org
There are filmmakers, and then there are visual artists whose medium happens to be cinema. Miami’s Optic Nerve Video Festival, now in its 15th prestigious year at the Museum of Contemporary Art, caters to the latter category, in which visual innovation trumps storytelling mechanics. Selected by a panel of expert curators from such far-flung locales as Norway, Buenos Aires and Los Angeles, the festival will screen 14 films and videos running less than five minutes in length, all of them produced within the past two years. The winning work will earn a place in MOCA’s permanent collection. Some of the most anticipated films/videos include Juwon Lee’s “Hidden Stories of Super Mario Brothers;” Cindy Hinant’s “SELFISH;” Jon Rafman’s “In the Realms of Gold;” and “How to Hide From Cameras,” a piece by Jillian Mayer, the only Florida artist to make it into this year’s competition (she’s from Plantation). The evening begins with an art talk, and the screenings will commence at 8 p.m. Reservations are required, as space as limited.
Friday to Sunday
“Sounds of Simon” at Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center, 201 Plaza Real, Boca Raton; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; $35; 561/600-0495 or soundsofsimon.com
This musical revue from Florida Theater Productions flew totally under my radar when it opened back in mid-July, but it’s become impossible to ignore, having now been extended twice due to popular demand. “Sounds of Simon” is a celebration of music superstar Paul Simon and features hits from his solo career as well as his Simon & Garfunkel days, all of them newly arranged and re-imagined for a musical theater format. The show enjoyed its world premiere in Palm Beach County in 2005, but this year’s revival features a cast twice the size – it’s up to 10 now, including notable actors Mike Westrich and Sharyn Peoples.
The Michael Allman Band at Funky Biscuit, 303 S.E. Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton; 9:30 p.m.; $10 advance, $15 day of show; 561/395-2929 or www.funkybiscuit.com
That last name sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it? The son of southern rock legend Gregg Allman, Florida native Michael is one of four like-named musicians – Devon, Elijah and Layla are the others – to continue in their fathers’ footsteps. Michael formed his band in the 1990s and has appeared on more than 100 recordings in the past few years alone. Much like his father’s publicized battle with Hepatitis C, Michael has undergone health struggles as well, namely testicular cancer, in the early 2000s. Fully recovered, he’s now at the top of his game, promoting his long-awaited debut album “Hard Labor Creek.” Visit his website, michaelallmanband.com, to hear four of his songs in their entirety.
26th Anniversary Block Party at Respectable Street, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 8 p.m.; free; 561/832-9999 or www.sub-culture.org/respectable-street
Every now and then, West Palm Beach’s Respectable Street will remind us that it’s more than a shadowy nightclub for hipsters and gothsters – it’s a treasure trove of underground local and national music, at one time the only game in town for touring indie bands. Still going strong after more than a quarter-century, Respectable Street will celebrate its latest birthday in customary fashion along the 500 block of Clematis Street, with an open bar between 8 and 9 p.m., free pizza and a pingpong ball drop at midnight, where certain balls will contain redeemable prizes. Twenty-five local bands will hit the four stages, and the event will be headlined by a major national recording artist, Matador Records’ Cold Cave (pictured), which will perform its arresting blend of darkwave and synthpop music on the main stage.
Backstreet Boys at Cruzan Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansburys Way, West Palm Beach; 7 p.m.; $171; 561/795-8883 or www.livenation.com
Backstreet really is back, alright? Not one but two movies this summer – “This is the End” and “Girl Most Likely” – have integrated Backstreet Boys songs into their narratives, with the hit-making quintet performing live in the former, and managing to poke a little fun at themselves in the process. Organized as an Orlando-based boy band in 1996, BSB has become the highest-selling boy band in history, with all nine of its albums cracking the Billboard Top 10. While none of its members have enjoyed with widespread critical adulation as Justin Timberlake did upon graduating from N Sync, the Backstreet Boys have arguably had the last laugh, outpacing the mid-90s boy-band trend and remaining viable. The group will be touring in support of its July release, “In a World Like This,” which sees the members exploring personal themes.