Model Mad, Icon

 

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A new anthology of the work of Harry Belafonte, pictured here in the nineteen-forties or fifties, reiterates his standing in American music. PHOTOGRAPH BY BETTMANN / GETTY

There was an editorial a few days ago that alerted us to the birthdays of two buddies, each on icon in his own right, who have 70 years of solidarity in the tough times, and best of times too. It also alerted us to the time since our last post with the model mad theme, so here is one more:

HARRY BELAFONTE AND THE SOCIAL POWER OF SONG

By Amanda Petrusich

Sixty-one years ago, in 1956, Harry Belafonte recorded a version of the Jamaican folk song “Day-O,” for his third studio album, “Calypso.” It opens with a distant and eager rumbling—as if something dark and hulking were approaching from a remote horizon. Belafonte—who was born in Harlem in 1927, but lived with his grandmother in a wooden house on stilts in Aboukir, a mountain village in Jamaica, for a good chunk of his childhood—bellows the title in a clipped island pitch. The instrumentation is spare and creeping. His voice bounces and echoes as it moves closer. It sounds like a call to prayer. Continue reading

Support The Story

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Credit Emilia Lloret/Native Agency

We will all be the beneficiaries, no doubt:

Nurturing New Storytellers in Africa and Latin America

By David Gonzalez

For some people, the idea of “serious” photography conjures up dramatic scenes of suffering, violence and poverty. This can be especially so in parts of Latin America and Africa, where careers have been made by foreign journalists who go in looking for drama. While no doubt there are pressing issues in these regions, there are also scenes of daily life, or less dramatic situations, that go unnoticed, slanting how a global audience sees people and places. Continue reading

Ancient Grain, Great Again

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It is not quite as ancient as geological time, but rye grain goes way back. And deserves as comeback, we think, almost regardless of all the nifty innovations that will determine the future of grain-growing. While we are busy with greatness-making, our thought is at this moment, let’s not forget the grains that got us here:

Rye, a Grain With Ancient Roots, Is Rising Again

By Julia Moskin

Any adventurous eater who has wandered into the woods of modern Nordic cuisine has probably tripped over a loaf of rye bread. There is wonderfully chewy rugbrod at Great Northern Food Hall in Grand Central Terminal, spice-scented Swedish limpa at Plaj in San Francisco, and darkly rugged toast at Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis. Continue reading

If You Happen To Be In London

John Lockwood Kipling with his son Rudyard Kipling, 1882. © National Trust/Charles Thomas

John Lockwood Kipling with his son Rudyard Kipling, 1882. © National Trust/Charles Thomas

Kipling is almost a household name for many in our group, but primarily in the context of Rudyard Kipling, the writer of the well-known stories and fables about India. When researching the author a few years back I was surprised to learn about his talented father, whose beautiful illustrations graced the early editions of several of his son’s books.

Rudyard Kipling’s bookplate ‘Ex Libris', Lockwood Kipling, 1909. © National Trust Images/John Hammond

Rudyard Kipling’s bookplate ‘Ex Libris’, Lockwood Kipling, 1909. © National Trust Images/John Hammond

Those lucky enough to be in London this month can visit the Victoria & Albert Museum for the exhibition Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London.

More of note, not only was the senior Kipling an artist, writer, museum director, teacher, and influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement – he was also a conservationist, distinguished for promoting the traditional textile crafts of India and what is now Pakistan.

The exhibit coincides with Conferences and Symposia related to the 3-year international research project on Kipling’s legacy.

The 19th century Arts and Crafts revival in British India is a fascinating chapter in the international history of art and design. However, John Lockwood Kipling’s career as designer and architectural sculptor, curator and educator, illustrator and journalist, has received little attention. Continue reading

Sanskrit Scholarship & Mystical Journeys

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Our random meeting and conversations with some scholars in southern India led to an exploration of the origins of yoga, which we linked to here.

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Next, using some of the same clues provided by those conversations, we were led to some excellent programming by Smithsonian Channel that includes one of the two scholarly co-authors mentioned in that previous post (see the second book) plus someone you may recognize from another context:

MYSTICAL JOURNEY: KUMBH MELA

West meets East when acclaimed actor Dominic West joins his childhood friend on a pilgrimage to Northern India and the biggest religious festival in the world, Kumbh Mela. Here, 100 million Hindus have gathered to wash away their sins in the holy rivers near Allahabad, on the banks of Sangam. It is also where Dominic’s friend Sir James Mallinson will be initiated into a senior role called a mahant. Follow these friends on this incredible two-week journey, and submerge yourself in the sacred waters and culture of this triennial celebration.

Origins Of Modern Yoga

9780195395341One of the excellent benefits of living in south India is meeting people who know alot about south India. Sounds circular, but occasionally the people are specialists on topics we have come to care deeply about. We met a group of Sanskrit scholars yesterday quite by chance, one of whom is a leading authority on the texts that are the earliest documentation of what we now call yoga.

When we mentioned our interest in yoga from the lay perspective, because we offer yoga experiences in various properties we manage in Asia and Latin America, it led to a simple question: where can we learn the most, most accessibly, about the real origins of yoga? The answer was this book and this author (incidentally a friend and colleague of the one to whom we were asking the question. So over at Oxford University Press this is what we found.

With a bit more searching we found this excellent BBC Radio 4 segment from just a few months ago that features the same scholar, Mark Singleton, and is worth a listen if you are interested in the origins of modern yoga.  Continue reading

Old World Trade In Spices, Lessons for 21st Century Leadership Thinking

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“The Return to Amsterdam of the Second Expedition to the East Indies,” painted by Hendrik Cornelisz Vroom, 1599. CreditPhas/UIG, via Getty Images

Amitav Ghosh, who we think of primarily as a writer of fiction, is also an important non-fiction thinker/author, and most recently published “The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable.” This op-ed in the New York Times puts future trade discussions into perspective in the most remarkable setting we can think of at the moment– the spice trade of centuries past. From our perch on the Malabar coast of India this is a welcome bit of history with which to welcome the new year and the challenges ahead:

GOA, India — For many years the word “globalization” was used as shorthand for a promised utopia of free trade powered by the world’s great centers of technological and financial innovation. But the celebratory note has worn thin. The word is now increasingly invoked to explain a widespread recoiling from a cosmopolitan earth. People in many countries are looking nostalgically backward, toward less connected, supposedly more secure times.

But did such an era ever exist? Was there ever an unglobalized world? Continue reading

If You Happen To Be In Shoreditch

strutAfter reading this, we had to at least visit the website:

Our journey began with a PASSION FOR HEALTHY EATING instilled by our Eastern Mediterranean heritage. As the family grew, home cooking revolved around grilling and roasting ingredients that are full of goodness, avoiding deep frying or saturated fats.

strut3And on closer look at Strut & Cluck, we are determined to visit the place itself, when we next get the chance:

The mum and family chef, Limor, started experimenting with turkey as a healthy alternative to chicken and a great source of lean protein. She quickly discovered the VERSATILITY AND FLAVOUR OF THIS SUPERFOOD. To achieve its distinctive flavour and fall-off-the-bone tenderness, the meat is marinated for 24 hours, then slow-cooked with our herb & spice blend. Continue reading

New York City Food Heritage

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In a photo from 1945, Broadway and 42nd Street in Manhattan in front of the Horn & Hardart Automat. Credit Andreas Feininger/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

This Travel section interview–Best Eating in New York? A Food Historian Has Some Advice By JOHN L. DORMAN–in the New York Times catches our attention:

9780199397020 When the food writer Andrew F. Smith had an idea for a new book on New York City, he went for an intriguing angle. “We preserve the homes of people who were born here and later became famous, and we preserve all sorts of artwork,” he said, “but people don’t think about preserving a city’s food heritage, which was something that was missing in New York.”

His idea resulted in the book “Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover’s Companion to New York City,” which he edited. The topics range from the culinary history of the Lower East Side to the emergence of Automats, Continue reading

Liquid Cultural Heritage

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UNESCO cited Belgians’ affinity for a wide range of beer in its official recognition of the beer culture of Belgium as a treasure of human culture that should be protected. Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

We might have assumed that yoga had already been recognized as intangible patrimony worthy of UNESCO status. But, surprisingly, that is just happening now, according to the Guardian. Speaking of surprises, beer culture–specifically that of Belgium–makes the cut as well. We are impressed with variety within this brewing heritage and hope the classification helps preserve the knowledge for all of us to get to sample all those styles. Thanks to National Public Radio (USA) for this story:

UNESCO Deems Belgium’s Beer Culture A Treasure Of Humanity

BILL CHAPPELL

Citing Belgian beer’s integral role in social and culinary life, UNESCO is putting the country’s rich brewing scene (with nearly 1,500 styles) on its list representing the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Belgium’s beer culture is one of 16 new additions that were announced Thursday. Continue reading

People At Play

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Brandon Celi

This book review puts our work, with would be categorized as providing recreation services, in an interesting context:

Steven Johnson on How Play Shaped the World

By

WONDERLAND
How Play Made the Modern World
By Steven Johnson
322 pp. Riverhead Books. $30.

Steven Johnson’s “Wonderland” makes a swashbuckling argument for the centrality of recreation to all of human history. The book is a house of wonders itself. Marvelous circuits of prose inductors, resistors and switches simulate ordinary history so nearly as to make readers forget the real thing. Red wires connect haphazardly to blue, and sparks fly. Who needs a footnoted analysis of “the ludic,” as play is known to the terminally unplayful? Barnumism of the Johnson kind is much, much more fun. Continue reading

Life Among The Lighthouses

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Writing now from Villa del Faro, in Baja California Sur, I am delighted to read this article from the Travel section this week in the NY Times:

Keeping the Fire of Irish Lighthouses Alive

The golden age of lighthouse construction is long gone, but in their wake are beautiful vistas and stories that bring modern Irish history to life.

By

To get to the Clare Island Lighthouse in County Mayo, in the west of Ireland, you climb up to the island’s northern cliffs along a road of stones, past damp sheep chewing grass, around the bend through an alley of fuchsia hedges in bloom. Keep walking until you reach the lighthouse and slip your key in the lock, hang your parka by the door and take a seat beside the peat-burning fireplace. Someone may be nearby to take your drink order, and the reward for a long walk will be a cold gin and tonic and the soft heat of the fire. Continue reading

If You Happen To Be In Tokyo

 

© SPL Lascaux international exhibition

© SPL Lascaux international exhibition

It’s the rare few who will have the opportunity to enter the original Lascaux Cave, but thanks to the foresight of the French government and the hard work of dedicated scientists and artists, an exact replica was opened in 1983 that gave visitors a chance to experience the amazing archaeological site. Nearly 20 years later additional replicas have begun to tour the world.

A few days ago we posted about Judith Thurman’s receiving a Medal of Chevalier in part for her inspiring writings about the Chauvet cave. It was a happy coincidence that the traveling exhibit had just opened in Toyko’s National Museum of Nature and Science.

The National Museum of Nature and Science, the Mainichi Newspapers, and Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc. will hold a special exhibition, “Lascaux: The Cave Paintings of the Ice Age”, from Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 to Friday, Feb. 19, 2017. About 20,000 years ago, dynamic pictures of animals were painted on the walls of caves found in southwestern France, the Lascaux Caves. Continue reading

Library Luxury of a Different Sort

The exterior of the Fort Washington library the year it opened, 1914. The top floor windows are for the apartment. (Photo: New York Public Library/Public Domain)

The beautiful Beaux-Arts design of many of the buildings in the New York Public Library system represent only one definition of luxury. The idea of children growing up playing and reading in the stacks at night produces the colorful imaginings of literature where children spend nights in museums, or ramble about in the “tippy-top floor of the Plaza Hotel”.

I’m sure most of us haven’t heard of the custodian apartments that used to grace New York City’s branch libraries, and I for one, am grateful to Atlas Obscura for sharing this curious history.

Inside the New York Public Library’s Last, Secret Apartments

There are just 13 left.

There used to be parties in the apartments on the top floors of New York City’s branch libraries. On other nights, when the libraries were closed, the kids who lived there might sit reading alone among the books or roll around on the wooden library carts—if they weren’t dusting the shelves or shoveling coal. Their hopscotch courts were on the roof. A cat might sneak down the stairs to investigate the library patrons.

When these libraries were built, about a century ago, they needed people to take care of them. Andrew Carnegie had given New York $5.2 million, worth well over $100 million today, to create a city-wide system of library branches, and these buildings, the Carnegie libraries, were heated by coal. Each had a custodian, who was tasked with keeping those fires burning and who lived in the library, often with his family. “The family mantra was: Don’t let that furnace go out,” one woman who grew up in a library told the New York Times. Continue reading

A Stay in History

The Cooke House in Virginia Beach, Va., built in 1959. Credit Dave Chance Photography

Earlier this year when I wrote about the Art Institute of Chicago’s Airbnb listing of their reproduction of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous Arles bedroom I thought that was the pinnacle of Airbnb cool.

Staying at a home designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright seems equally as fun but far more expansive then the 19th century artist’s exuberantly painted bedroom – taking in the view for starters.

The Cooke House in Virginia Beach, Va., built in 1959, is one of Wright’s last commissioned works. It’s a hemicycle-shaped dwelling made of brick with a vast windowed living area overlooking a lake. Continue reading

Library Reading Room, Luxury, Legacy

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The Rose Reading Room is luxurious in the way that only certain shared spaces can be. Its grandeur attracts its visitors, and is in turn amplified by their presence: the true urban symbiosis. PHOTOGRAPH BY DREW ANGERER / GETTY

It was the room in the photo above where I sat, in the early 1990s, collecting some data for a research project that would eventually become my doctoral dissertation. I had been in that room once or twice in my youth, but as an adult on a specific mission (little did I know the data collected that day would help me develop ideas that we now call entrepreneurial conservation within La Paz Group) the room barely registered in my notice. Except as a very practical place to read some historical documents.

So I am delighted to see that room again after a long time. It looked great to me the last time I saw it. Now I can say wow for different reasons. The legacy of the room is protected, and perhaps renewed for another hundred years. If you click the image and go to a larger viewing with greater detail, you will understand why the word luxury fits in the title of this post on the New Yorker website.

It is not our practice to use the word luxury because it is so laden with old and often inappropriate (considering the ecological condition of the planet, considering advances in socio-economic development, and considering other modern sensibilities) meanings. So we appreciate when others take care in how they use it:

THE ROSE READING ROOM AND THE REAL MEANING OF “LUXURY” IN NEW YORK CITY

By

To say that the ceiling of the Rose Main Reading Room, at the New York Public Library’s main building, on Fifth Avenue—the biggest room in the biggest public-library branch in the country’s biggest city—is an ornate piece of work is putting it mildly. Continue reading

Patrimonial Matrimonial Innovation

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A fort atop the Italian town of Montalcino. In October, residents there and in neighboring San Giovanni d’Asso will vote on whether to merge the two communities. CreditNadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times

Although we appreciate, even adore, the wines and the fungi referenced in this story, it is worth reading for a look at practical issues facing aging towns that possess world class patrimony:

A Merger of Brunello and Truffles? 2 Tuscan Towns May Be Better Together

By

SAN GIOVANNI D’ASSO, Italy — Two small towns in southeastern Tuscany, one famous for red wine, the other for truffles and organic grain, are considering a municipal marriage of convenience that could blur their cherished identities, separately formed over the centuries.

With a population of just 853, San Giovanni d’Asso can no longer deliver basic services to its citizens on a daily basis. Left with only three town officials to do the work, something as simple as getting an identity card drawn up and stamped requires making an appointment days in advance.

So the town’s mayor, Fabio Braconi, picked up the phone back in 2014 and sought help from a neighbor, Montalcino, 10 miles to the south across rolling wheat fields. Continue reading

Pepper’s Historical Place

A painting of Muziris by the artist Ajit Kumar. In 2004, excavations in Kerala sparked new interest in this lost port. Illustration: KCHR

A painting of Muziris by the artist Ajit Kumar. In 2004, excavations in Kerala sparked new interest in this lost port. Illustration: KCHR

Our first exposure to the name Muziris was during the planing stages of the 1st edition of the eponymous Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2012. The flurry of activity in Fort Kochi not only brought Kochi into the spotlight of the international Art World, but added focus to the archeological works at Kerala’s ancient port.

Lost cities #3 – Muziris: did black pepper cause the demise of India’s ancient port?

Around 2,000 years ago, Muziris was one of India’s most important trading ports. According to the Akananuru, a collection of Tamil poetry from the period, it was “the city where the beautiful vessels, the masterpieces of the Yavanas [Westerners], stir white foam on the Periyar, river of Kerala, arriving with gold and departing with pepper.”

Another poem speaks of Muziris (also known as Muciripattanam or Muciri) as “the city where liquor abounds”, which “bestows wealth to its visitors indiscriminately” with “gold deliveries, carried by the ocean-going ships and brought to the river bank by local boats”.

The Roman author Pliny, in his Natural History, called Muziris “the first emporium of India”. The city appears prominently on the Tabula Peutingeriana, a fifth-century map of the world as seen from Rome. But from thereon, the story of this great Indian port becomes hazy. As reports of its location grow more sporadic, it literally drops off the map.

Continue reading

When Silence Is Golden

Finland

It is not a principle of branding, per se, that silence is golden; just the opposite normally, since getting the message out is the point, and messages seem defined by noise, however subtle or clever. But Finland, by way of this article in Nautilus, has had me thinking, in the couple days since I read it, about alternative views on the value of silence, on messaging, on branding:

One icy night in March 2010, 100 marketing experts piled into the Sea Horse Restaurant in Helsinki, with the modest goal of making a remote and medium-sized country a world-famous tourist destination. The problem was that Finland was known as a rather quiet country, and since 2008, the Country Brand Delegation had been looking for a national brand that would make some noise.

Over drinks at the Sea Horse, the experts puzzled over the various strengths of their nation. Here was a country with exceptional teachers, an abundance of wild berries and mushrooms, and a vibrant cultural capital the size of Nashville, Tennessee. These things fell a bit short of a compelling national identity. Someone jokingly suggested that nudity could be named a national theme—it would emphasize the honesty of Finns. Someone else, less jokingly, proposed that perhaps quiet wasn’t such a bad thing. That got them thinking. Continue reading