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

Millenia-Old Amazonian Practices Worthy Of Marvel

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New research suggests people were sustainably managing the Amazon rain forest much earlier than was previously thought. Credit Jenny Watling

Anything with the word Amazon in it, when it refers to the rainforest ecosystem in South America, is worthy of marvel. Joanna Klein offers this story, in the Trilobites feature at the New York Times, that is one of the more surprising finds we have seen in a long time:

Deep in the Amazon, the rain forest once covered ancient secrets. Spread across hundreds of thousands of acres are massive, geometric earthworks. The carvings stretch out in circles and squares that can be as big as a city block, with trenches up to 12 yards wide and 13 feet deep. They appear to have been built up to 2,000 years ago.

Were the broken ceramics found near the entrances used for ritual sacrifices? Why were they here? The answer remains a mystery. Continue reading

Model Mad, Literary

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The Cold War–era writings of the Czech writer Václav Havel offer ideas on how dissidents can resist “the irrational momentum of anonymous, impersonal, and inhuman power.”PHOTOGRAPH BY MIROSLAV ZAJIC / CORBIS VIA GETTY

This post by Pankaj Mishra fits the bill for the theme we have been following, as the excerpted several paragraphs below will illustrate:

VÁCLAV HAVEL’S LESSONS ON HOW TO CREATE A “PARALLEL POLIS”

…Born in 1936, Havel came of age in Czechoslovakia, whose Communist rulers repeatedly imprisoned and continuously surveilled him while suppressing many of his writings. Defiant right until 1989, when he engineered the fall of the Communist regime, Havel came to be celebrated in the West as a “dissident,” a word commonly used to describe many in Communist countries who valiantly struggled against a pitiless despotism. 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

Scientist, Illustrator, Forgotten Metamorphosist

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In some of Merian’s drawings, butterflies and caterpillars didn’t match. CREDIT MARIA SIBYLLA MERIAN, METAMORPHOSIS INSECTORUM SURINAMENSIUM, AMSTERDAM 1705, THE HAGUE, NATIONAL LIBRARY OF THE NETHERLANDS

Any story with Metamorphosis in it is bound to get our attention, but a long-forgotten scientist getting her due is the intrigue that makes this story by JoAnna Klein–A Pioneering Woman of Science Re‑Emerges After 300 Years–coinciding with the republication of this book below, worthy of the read:metamorph

Maria Sibylla Merian, like many European women of the 17th century, stayed busy managing a household and rearing children. But on top of that, Merian, a German-born woman who lived in the Netherlands, also managed a successful career as an artist, botanist, naturalist and entomologist.:

“She was a scientist on the level with a lot of people we spend a lot of time talking about,” said Kay Etheridge, a biologist at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania who has been studying the scientific history of Merian’s work. “She didn’t do as much to change biology as Darwin, but she was significant.” Continue reading

Patagonia, Geological Time & Food History

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Two fossils of a newly discovered species of tomatillo that are 52 million years old. CreditPeter Wilf

They had us at Tomatillo. But mention fossils, geological timeframe, discovery and Patagonia all in the same headline and there we go:

Tomatillo Fossils, 52 Million Years Old, Are Discovered in Patagonia

By Nicholas St. Fleur

The nightshades have an ominous reputation, but this large plant family is more than just its most poisonous members, like belladonna. It contains more than 2,400 different species, including some of the most widely consumed fruits and vegetables in the world, such as potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. 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

Vatican’s Small Steps Toward Gender Equality

Barbara Jatta will oversee an institution that is one of the Holy See’s major sources of funds with about $311 million in gross revenues a year. PHOTO: VATICAN MUSEUMS

Barbara Jatta will oversee an institution that is one of the Holy See’s major sources of funds with about $311 million in gross revenues a year. PHOTO: VATICAN MUSEUMS

Without religious affiliation, we’ve applauded the current pope’s embrace of environmental protection and other progressive leaning policies. In a current political atmosphere where gender often overrides qualification, we appreciate this appointment all the more.

Pope Francis Names New Female Director of Vatican Museums

ROME—The Vatican Museums, one of the world’s pre-eminent art collections, announced Tuesday that Barbara Jatta, an Italian art historian and longtime Vatican official, will become its new director, making her the first woman to hold one of the most prestigious jobs in the art world.

The appointment by Pope Francis, which is effective Jan. 1, will also make Ms. Jatta the most prominent female administrator at the Vatican. The pope has spoken about expanding the roles of women in the Catholic Church, but most high Vatican offices are reserved for cardinals and bishops, who must be men. (Margaret Archer, a British sociologist, was named president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, an advisory body to the pope, in 2014.)

The Museums, which include priceless masterpieces including the Sistine Chapel frescoes by Michelangelo, regularly appear among the world’s top 10 museum complexes by attendance, with over six million visitors in 2015. The collections include 70,000 objects, dating back from antiquity through the 20th century. Continue reading

Top Shelf Infographics For 128 Years

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Thanks to the fancy-fine publisher, Taschen, for collecting this particularly powerful informative art form into one book:

A History of Knowledge

The best infographics from the National Geographic archives

Back in the days when the information age was a distant dream and the world a more mysterious place, National Geographic began its mission to reveal the wonders of history, popular science, and culture to eager audiences around the globe. Since that 1888 launch, the world has changed; empires have risen and crumbled and a galaxy of information is today only a click away. But National Geographic endures; its calm, authoritative voice is as respected as ever amid the surfeit of data in our daily lives. Continue reading

Flavors Of The Place

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Japanese Chemist Dr. Kikunae Ikeda is credited with discovering MSG — one of the eight ingredients Lohman explores in her book. Peter Van Hyning

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Thanks to the salt, at National Public Radio (USA) for this story, How Just 8 Flavors Have Defined American Cuisine, by Alan Yu, which also serves as a review for this book about the history of food in a country not thought to have its own cuisine:

Sarah Lohman has made everything from colonial-era cocktails to cakes with black pepper to stewed moose face. She is a historical gastronomist, which means she re-creates historical recipes to connect with the past.

That moose-face recipe dates back to the 19th century, and it wasn’t easy. She recalls spending hours trying to butcher the moose from Alaska in her kitchen in Queens, New York. She tried scalding the face in hot water to remove the fur, but it didn’t quite work and her apartment stunk of wet moose.

But “at the end of the day, people showed up and ate it, someone actually liked it, and then we ordered a pizza,” she says. 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

National Park of the Week: Göreme National Park & Rock Sites of Cappadocia, Turkey

Image from 4gress.com

Image from 4gress.com

Found in a remarkable landscape entirely sculpted by erosion, Göreme National Park in Turkey is characterized by a rocky landscape honeycombed with networks of ancient underground settlements and outstanding examples of Byzantine art. Located on the central Anatolia plateau, the unique rock structures of Göreme not only create a distinctive terrain of mountain ridges, valleys and pinnacles known as “fairy chimneys” or hoodoos, but also reveal one of the most striking and largest cave-dwellings complexes in the world.

Continue reading

Learning How To Eat

9780007549702When an author of Bee Wilson’s stature publishes it is not surprising to see reviews in the news outlets that we tend to source from in these pages. For the book to the right the first we saw was How Do We Get To Love At ‘First Bite’? on National Public Radio (USA), followed by reviews in the New York Times and the Guardian among others. We had even read the publisher’s blurb:

The way we learn to eat holds the key to why food has gone so disastrously wrong for so many people. But Bee Wilson also shows that both adults and children have immense potential for learning new, healthy eating habits. An exploration of the extraordinary and surprising origins of our taste and eating habits, First Bite explains how we can change our palates to lead healthier, happier lives.

But we had not gotten around to linking out to any of these reviews. Better late than never:

TEACHING GROWNUPS HOW TO EAT

By Nicola Twilley

Until the twentieth century, Japanese food was often neither delicious nor nourishing. Junichi Saga, a Japanese doctor who chronicled the memories of elderly villagers from just outside Tokyo, in the nineteen-seventies, found that, in the early years of the century, most families scraped by on a mixture of rice and barley, accompanied by small quantities of radish leaves, pickles, or miso. Animal protein was almost entirely absent in the Buddhist country, and even fish, as one of Saga’s informants recalled, was limited to “one salted salmon,” bought for the New Year’s celebrations, “though only after an awful fuss.” 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

Santorini’s Rich History Is Getting Richer

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Credit James Rajotte for The New York Times

Some of La Paz Group’s senior contributors have recollections of Santorini going back three decades, and the history of the place is both geological and cultural; the complexity of that history is still being revealed:

An Ancient Tsunami That Ended a Civilization Gets Another Look

By

In the 17th century B.C., Santorini was a small volcanic island in the Aegean Sea, home to Akrotiri, a Late Bronze Age outpost of Minoan civilization, which preceded ancient Greece. Then the volcano erupted, burying Akrotiri in ash and obliterating much of Santorini, turning it into a few smaller islands. Continue reading

Ancient Ships Found In Black Sea

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An image of the well-preserved medieval ship found at the bottom of the Black Sea, one of more than 40 wrecks discovered. Photogrammetry, a process using thousands of photographs and readings, produced a rendering that appears three-dimensional. Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

For divers, as well as anyone fascinated by ancient maritime trade routes, this must be the best news in a long while:

‘We Couldn’t Believe Our Eyes’: A
Lost World of Shipwrecks Is Found

Archaeologists have found more than 40 vessels in the Black Sea, some more than a millennium old, shedding light on early empires and trade routes. Continue reading

Metropolis in Atlanta

 

Fritz Lang's 1927 film “Metropolis” ARCHIVES NEW ZEALAND

Fritz Lang’s 1927 film “Metropolis”
ARCHIVES NEW ZEALAND

In the wake of a U.S. election that left half the population bracing for a dystopian future, it seems a timely moment to present Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent classic, Metropolis. Considered the “father” of science fiction cinema, the film was meticulously restored in 2010.

But it’s the extra element of a live score composed and presented by the Alloy Orchestra that makes this screening an exceptional event. This unusual three man musical ensemble writes and performs live accompaniment to classic silent films using a combination of found percussion and state-of-the-art electronics to generate an amazingly varied array of musical styles.  Continue reading