Christmas Blessings Beyond the Airport

I am grateful today to the angel at the Detroit International Airport who pulled strings to get me on the last flight to Toronto — otherwise, I鈥檇 be humming disconsolately with Nick Lowe. Made it despite the ice storm. Merry Christmas, y’all!

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A Flaneur in the Cloud – December 23, 2013

  • BBC Weather – Shipping Forecast
  • The Shipping Forecast: From Britain’s Seas Into Its Soul : NPR 121613
    Phillip Reeves: 鈥淚t is a bizarre nightly ritual that is deeply embedded in the British way of life. | You switch off the TV, lock up the house, slip into bed, turn on your radio, and begin to listen to a mantra, delivered by a soothing, soporific voice. | “Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger ….” says the voice. | You are aware 鈥 vaguely 鈥 that these delicious words are names, and that those names refer to big blocks of sea around your island nation, stretching all the way up to Iceland and down to North Africa. | Your mind begins to swoop across the landscape, sleepily checking the shorelines, from the gray waters of the English Channel to the steely turbulence of the Atlantic. | Somewhere, deep in your memory, stir echoes of British history 鈥 of invasions from across the sea by Vikings, Romans and Normans; of battles with Napoleon’s galleons and Hitler’s U-boats. | Finally, as the bulletin draws to a close, you nod off, complacent in the knowledge that whatever storms are blasting away on the oceans out there, you’re in your pajamas, sensibly tucked up at home.鈥
  • A Storm-Lashed British Isle Famous For Church Bells, Populated By Few : NPR 121713
    The second part of NPR’s series on maritime Britain begins on a small ferry en route to the storm-lashed island of Lundy. The island, just three miles long, is where pirates once awaited their prey. Today, there are just over two dozen permanent residents, all employed by a conservation organization that protects the island. Lundy has a pub, a small fire department and publishes its own stamps. Bells have been re-hung in the tower of an old gothic church, and since then some 2,000 bell ringers have made pilgrimage to the island.
  • Roberto Bola帽o – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Roberto Bola帽o 脕valos (Spanish: [ro??erto ?o?la?o ?a?alos]) (28 April 1953 鈥 15 July 2003) was a Chilean writer, author of novels, short-stories, poems, and essays. In 1999, Bola帽o won the R贸mulo Gallegos Prize for his novel Los detectives salvajes (The Savage Detectives), and in 2008 he was posthumously awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction for his novel 2666, which was described by board member Marcela Valdes as a “work so rich and dazzling that it will surely draw readers and scholars for ages.”[1] He has been described by the New York Times as “the most significant Latin American literary voice of his generation.”[2]
  • Framing Roberto Bolano : The New Yorker 110813
    In 2008, New Directions approached the photographer Allen Frame, hoping to use one of his photographs on the cover of their new translation of 鈥淟ast Evenings on Earth,鈥 by the late Chilean author Roberto Bola帽o. That year, a fated match was made. Frame, who draws inspiration from literary fiction and film noir, has an archive of images that evoke menace, intrigue, and sensuality鈥攓uintessential themes in Bola帽o鈥檚 mystery novels. Although they have different backgrounds, Frame and Bola帽o were born in early fifties and travelled to many of the same cities to photograph and write, from Acapulco, Mexico, to Barcelona, Spain. 鈥淎llen Frame: Dialogue with Bola帽o,鈥 now on view at Gitterman Gallery, features nine of Frame鈥檚 photographs used for Bola帽o covers and additional work in a similar vein. Frame continues to read Bola帽o鈥檚 novels as they are posthumously published. 鈥淗aving been able to find a kind of voice that I identify with in my generation is so satisfying,鈥 he said in an interview with American Suburb X last month.
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A Flaneur in the Cloud – December 16, 2013

  • Royal Gardener Planted The Seed Of Urban Planning At Versailles : NPR 120913
    France’s Chateau of Versailles has pulled out all the stops for one of its favorite sons, gardener Andre Le Notre, who designed the palace’s famous gardens. This year, to mark the 400th anniversary of Le Notre’s birth, several of the garden’s fountains are being restored and the chateau is hosting an exhibit on his life through February 2014. Experts say Le Notre’s work was so groundbreaking, it continues to influence contemporary urban architecture. Andre Le Notre was born in 1613 into a family of royal gardeners, but he would take the profession way beyond a trade. That’s according to Jacques Moulin, Versailles’ current gardener 鈥 or architect 鈥 the 30th since Le Notre. “Le Notre transformed the profession of gardener into a high-level royal service and turned his trade into a grand art,” Moulin says. “He became the interlocutor of kings and princes across Europe and built a huge art collection.”
  • East and West economies clash in Ukrainian protests |
    Protests continue in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev in response to President Yanukovych鈥檚 refusal to join his country with the European Union. The outrage comes over the perceived favoritism to the Eastern part of the country where ties to Russia are stronger and jobs are relatively easy to be had. Meanwhile, in the Western side of the Ukraine, many have left for other European countries to look for work says Anastasiya Zanuda, a reporter for the BBC based in Kiev.
  • The Myth of Race & Its Historical Consequences – The Takeaway 121013
    Race is embedded the fabric of American culture, and racial categories and their implications persist today. In “A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama’s America,” Jacqueline Jones, professor of history at the University of Texas, Austin, argues against our continued use of racial categories鈥攁t least in the ways Americans have used these categories since the country’s founding.

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A Flaneur in the Cloud – December 9, 2013

  • Scientists quit their day jobs, head over to YouTube | 120313
    In the last year, YouTube has become the place to watch really smart people with advanced degrees hold forth on science. The top science channels got hundreds of millions of views with their zippy explanations of dark matter and the periodic table. “Education” videos on YouTube now get twice as many views as “Pets & Animals” videos, according to the company. Science nerds are officially beating out the cat playing a piano, that old juggernaut of online video. | Vsauce, the top YouTube science show, averages 20 million viewers a month鈥攕omething in the range of NBC鈥檚 Sunday Night Football audience. Minute Physics, Crash Course, SciShow and The Brain Scoop are a few of the several shows producing fun, compelling science videos. Even Bill Nye the Science Guy, who hosted an Emmy Award-winning show on PBS in the nineties, has made guest appearances on online shows like ASAP Science. | The migration of Nye and these other pop scientists to YouTube has happened within the past two to three years. Kevin Allocca, the head of Culture & Trends at the company, says there have been a few big science moments where millions of viewers went to YouTube to see viral videos: the rover landing on Mars, the Red Bull 鈥淪tratos鈥 jump from space, and the Russian Meteor. | At the same time, the trends group within YouTube was seeing the steady rise of these science shows that were regularly producing original content. 鈥淎s viewers, we鈥檝e come to understand we鈥檙e interested in this kind of stuff,鈥 says Allocca, 鈥淎nd people have been getting really good at feeding it to us.鈥
  • Holiday Window Displays Get Touches of Technology – The Takeaway 120413
    This year, the famous Saks Fifth Avenue windows have been designed by the Science Project, and they allow those passersby to actually participate in a virtual snowfall. | Jeremy Bergstein is managing partner and head of strategy for the Science Project. He joins The Takeaway to discuss the ways new technologies are being incorporated into the age-old tradition of holiday window displays.
  • Print Vs. Digital: Flaneur Magazine Celebrates Life Offline | Deautsche Welle 112713
    One street at a time, Flaneur digs into human stories at the local level. But don’t expect to find the tales online. Though the print-only magazine flirts with global and local media, it shies from a big online presence. Where can you snag a bottle of handmade fragrance from a third-generation perfumer, buy a bouquet of fake flowers for your sweetheart, then round out the night at a pub to pet a spider? Welcome to Kant Street in Berlin. It’s the first street showcased in a new artistic and literary magazine, “Flaneur.” | In each issue of Flaneur, the patchwork of feature articles, illustrations and photo-narratives has one common denominator: they paint a portrait of one specific street in one specific city. Published in English by a group of young Berliners, Flaneur magazine seeks to push the boundaries of what print can be, while shunning social media as much as possible. | “It’s a fragmented literary perspective,” said Fabian Saul, 27, who edits the magazine with Grashina Grabelmann, 25. “It’s interdisciplinary: we work with writers, musicians, illustrators.” | Although the first issue’s 1,000 copies sold out in five weeks, the publication is still trying to figure out how to become a sustainable business. At the moment neither the core team, nor the contributing artists are paid for their collaboration on Flaneur. The editors have other jobs: Saul is a musician and a soundtrack composer, and Grabelmann, on top of being a freelance journalist, waits tables in a Berlin caf茅.
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A Flaneur in the Cloud – December 2, 2013

  • Ray Wylie Hubbard: The Grifter’s Hymnal – No Depression Americana and Roots Music
    Mando Lines: “After a couple of days listening to Hymnal, my favorite track is Mother Blues, an autobiographical tune about a young Hubbard selling his dad’s car for $500 to buy a Gold Top Les Paul from a junkie. Which he plays in a Dallas club called Mother Blues for a stripper who has a thing for Poke Salad Annie. Hubbard doesn’t know all the words but he channels enough Tony Joe White to get the stripper into bed. Now his two goals in life are achieved, or so he thinks. Things don’t work out like he planned, but they work out real well, thank you. You might call it grace, even. Lucas plays lead on a Gold Top and you realize that this song is about him and about grace visited on a grifter and a gifter of songs. As Hubbard says, “The days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, those are really good days.” Amen, brother. It’s time for an altar call, I’d say.”
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