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Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

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“For the best part of a decade, the heirs of German writer and Nobel prize laureate Heinrich Böll worked on hammering out a deal with the city of Cologne over the transfer of his private papers to the state archives.

“Three weeks ago, city officials held a special ceremony to mark the historic handover: for €800,000 (£712,000), the Cologne archives took possession of hundreds of boxes containing items ranging from Böll’s school reports to scripts of his radio plays, novels and essays by Germany’s most popular post-second world war writer, who died in 1985 at the age of 67.

“But his papers and unpublished works may have been lost for ever after the collapse of the archives building this week. . . .

“The Böll documents are just a small part of the losses to the archives which contained almost 30km of files, including articles written by Karl Marx, letters by Georg Hegel, writings by composer Jacques Offenbach and edicts issued by Napoleon Bonaparte, as well as the minutes of city council meetings going back to 1376, which offer a fascinating portrait of medieval Cologne.” (more @ The Guardian)

A video of the post collapse excavations can be viewed here. (via Books, Inq.)

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From photographer Simon Høgsberg, a new work, We’re All Going To Die – 100 Meters of Existence, shot from the same spot over the course of 20 days during the summer of 2007, features 178 people walking across a railroad bridge on Warschauer Strasse in Berlin. One hundred meters wide, the image is scene in panels that progress by scrolling, or sliding, along the bottom of the main panel.

Also from Germany, another set of interactive photographs, “Naked People,” offers a revealing look at 24 German men and women of varying sizes, ages and occupations, whose clothing vanishes with a click of the mouse. By my admittedly loose translation, the project asserts that clothing, broadly accepted as a social signifier, offers only illusion, telling us little or nothing about a person’s true character. Finally, by confronting us — after a mouse-click — with the person now undressed, the project asks if even unclothed an individual’s character remains unfathomable. (Both series via The Daily Dish)

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beatles“A university in Liverpool has launched a Master of Arts degree in The Beatles, the city’s most famous sons, and called the qualification the first of its kind.

Liverpool Hope University says on its website that the course entitled ‘The Beatles, Popular Music and Society’ consists of four 12-week taught modules and a dissertation.” (via Reuters)

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orwell“The longlists for the 2009 Orwell Prize for Political Writing were announced today, and for the first time the award includes a category for bloggers. Along with the traditional Book and Journalism submissions, this year the judges received entries in the form of YouTube videos and Twitter tweets. From eighty-three entrants for the Blog Prize . . . the judges selected a choice twelve, mixing the professional with the amateur, the politically affiliated with the politically free-wheeling:

“Alix Mortimer’s ‘The People’s Republic of Mortimer’; Andrew Sparrow’s Guardian Politics Blog; Chekov’s ‘Three Thousand Versts of Loneliness’; Hopi Sen’s Blog from the back room; Iain Dale’s Diary; Jack Night’s ‘Night Jack’; Mark Easton’s BBC News blog, ‘Mark Easton’s UK’; Neil Robertson’ ‘The Bleeding Heart Show’; Oliver Kamm’s Times Online blog; Paul Mason’s ‘Idle Scrawl’; The Heresiarch’s Heresy Corner; and Tom Harris’s ‘And another thing…’.

“While the Books and Journalism prizes have taken as their mantra Orwell’s ambition to ‘make political writing into an art’, the Blog Prize has looked to the day-to-day reflections in Orwell’s diaries for its criteria.” (via Granta)

[The March 12, 2009 issue of The New York Review of Books includes Julian Barnes’s essay, “Such, Such Was Eric Blair,” on George Orwell’s political writings. On his blog today, Andrew Sullivan writes of Barnes’s essay: “I’ve read a lot of Orwell and almost as much about him. This essay captures his Britishness – and avoids hagiography – as well as any I’ve read.”]

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ryanair

Ryanair’s chief executive caused howls of protest today when he suggested that the airline may charge passengers £1 to use its toilets.

“Michael O’Leary said that the carrier had been investigating fitting coin slots to the doors of aircraft toilets, similar to those installed at train stations.

“‘One thing we have looked at in the past and are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door so that people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny in future,’ he told BBC Breakfast this morning.

“‘We are always at Ryanair looking at ways of constantly lowering the cost of air travel to make it affordable and easier for all passengers to fly with us.'” (via Times Online)

[Because I can not stop humming the tune to “It’s A Privilege To Pee” from the Broadway musical Urinetown (set in a fictional metropolis where private toilets are outlawed and all the public, “pay as you ‘go'” amenities are operated by Urine Good Company and its evil CEO, Caldwell B. Cladwell), lyrics to the song can be found here.

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no-kissing

A “No Kissing” sign in the Warrington Bank Quay railroad station, Cheshire, England. The sign was installed by Virgin Rail. (via The Guardian)

[And Don’t Sleep in the Subway, either!]

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greek-laughing-face1“One of the most famous one-liners of the ancient world, with an afterlife that stretches into the twentieth century (it gets retold, with a different cast of characters but the same punchline, both in Freud and in Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea), was a joking insinuation about Augustus’ paternity.

“Spotting, so the story goes, a man from the provinces who looked much like himself, the Emperor asked if the man’s mother had ever worked in the palace. ‘No’, came the reply, ‘but my father did.'”

(via Times Online)

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Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, Germany, May, 2008

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the-killer-underpantsIn London, “A British bishop was arrested on suspicion of child cruelty after he helped his two young sons to perch on top of the chimney of their house to read a book as part of a school project. Bishop Jonathan Blake, of the Open Episcopal Church, took pictures of his sons Nathan, eight, and Dominic, seven, while they sat on top of their two-storey home. The children were calmly holding a book called “The Killer Underpants” for a school competition to find the most unusual place where a pupil had read a book.”

(via Reuters UK)

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Tenement building, with ghosts of former occupants, in former Jewish Ghetto, Warsaw, Poland, May 2008

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Graffiti memorials, John Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic, May, 2008.

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Trompe l’oeil window, Siena, Italy, September, 2004.

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Reflections of Chartres Cathedral, August, 2005

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Gypsy mother braiding her daughter’s hair at Vienna’s popular Naschmarkt, May, 2007

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Flower petals scattered by children during procession celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi in Tarnow, Poland, May, 2008

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I have always used American Express, rather than VISA/Mastercard, whenever possible when traveling abroad but with AMEX fees now increased to 2.7% from 2.0%, well, now what do I do? Matt Gross, better known to readers of his New York Times articles and blog as “The Frugal Traveler,” offers advice to international travelers seeking to avoid the increasingly costly ATM and credit card fees charged by U.S. banks. (See: Frugal Traveler: Packing the Right Credit Card)

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“McDonald’s is planning to this year create 12,000 jobs and open 240 new restaurants across Europe, it emerged on Friday, as the fast-food chain shows signs of being one of the few global companies to benefit from the financial crisis.

In stark contrast to the multinational groups announcing record job cuts and losses, McDonald’s plans for expansion in Europe are its biggest in five years.

‘We’re certainly not slowing down,’ said Denis Hennequin, president of McDonald’s Europe as he outlined to the Financial Times his plans to hire 50 people at each of the 240 new restaurants, mostly in Spain, France, Italy, Russia, and Poland.”

McDonald’s defies downturn (via Financial Times)

[The only good news, as I see it, is the increased number of clean public toilets that tourists and locals will now be able to utilize. During various overseas travels, in need of a public toilet, I have been directed to the nearest McDonald’s which locals called “The American Embassy.”]

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A “Doggie Bag” dispenser in the “Old Town” section of Prague (from our May, 2007 trip). (Full photo)

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Plans for “serious” writing while traveling, as usual, were reduced to scribbling notes and promising (to myself) to compose a diary of our trip from memory (and notes) once home. The current plan is to organize my diary thematically, rather than chronologically. Over the next several days I’ll begin by writing about our food experiences. Here, to whet the appetite, is a photo of our dinner in Eger, Hungary: pisztrangfile, or brook trout, a staple of the Hungarian diet, chosen in honor of our good friends the Pistrangs, who may or may not be descended from trout.

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dsc_0417We’re off tomorrow to Philadelphia, via DUMBO, to attend our niece’s graduation on Monday from PENN. On Tuesday, we fly from JFK to Budapest to begin a 15-day trip that will take us from Budapest to Eger to Vienna to Cesky Krumlov to Prague.

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