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Archive for the ‘Foreign Travel’ Category

vampire“Matteo Borrini, an anthropologist from the University of Florence, said the discovery [of a woman’s skull with its mouth agape and a large slab of rock forced into its mouth] on the small island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in the Venice lagoon supported the medieval belief that vampires were behind the spread of plagues like the Black Death.

“‘This is the first time that archaeology has succeeded in reconstructing the ritual of exorcism of a vampire,’ Mr Borrini said. ‘This helps … authenticate how the myth of vampires was born.’

“The skeleton was unearthed in a mass grave from the Venetian plague of 1576 – in which the artist Titian died – on Lazzaretto Nuovo, which lies around 2 miles northeast of Venice and was used as a sanatorium for plague sufferers.

“The succession of plagues which ravaged Europe between 1300 and 1700 fostered the belief in vampires, mainly because the decomposition of corpses was not well understood, Mr Borrini said.” (more @ Daily Telegraph UK)

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shakespearebooksIn The Guardian, Jeanette Winterson, after a recent visit, recounts a bit of the history of Shakespeare and Company, Paris’ renowned Left Bank bookstore, first opened in 1913 and since 1962 owned by George Whitman. No visit to Paris is complete without a visit to this venerable literary institution which always recalls for me New York’s recently closed literary landmark, Gotham Book Mart 

“Way back, in 1913, the original Shakespeare and Company was opened by a young American called Sylvia Beach. Her shop in rue de l’Odéon soon became the place for all the English-speaking writers in Paris. Her lover, Adrienne Monnier, owned the French bookstore across the road, and she and Beach ran back and forth, finding penniless writers a place to stay, lending them books, arranging loans, taking their mail, sending their work to small magazines and, most spectacularly, publishing James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922 when no one else would touch it.

“Hemingway was a regular at the shop, and writes about it in his memoir A Moveable Feast. . . . It was Hemingway, as a major in the US army, who at the liberation of Paris in 1945 drove his tank straight to the shuttered Shakespeare and Company and personally liberated Sylvia Beach. ‘No one that I ever knew was nicer to me,’ he said later, rich, famous and with a Nobel prize.

“But after the war, Beach was older and tired. She didn’t reopen the shop that had been forced into closure by the occupation. It was George Whitman who took over the spirit of what she had made, but not the name – until 1962, when Beach attended a reading by Lawrence Durrell at the bookstore and they all agreed that it should be renamed Shakespeare and Company.

“George took in the beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. Henry Miller ate from the stewpot, but was too grand to sleep in the tiny writers’ room. Anaïs Nin left her will under George’s bed. There are signed photos from Rudolf Nureyev and Jackie Kennedy, signed copies of Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.” (via Books, Inq.)

A New York Times article offering a brief history of Gotham Book Mart can be found here:

PHOTO: A December 1948 party at for Osbert and Edith Sitwell (seated, center) drew a roomful of bright lights to the Gotham Book Mart: clockwise from W. H. Auden, on the ladder at top right, were Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell, Charles Henri Ford (cross-legged, on the floor), William Rose Benét, Stephen Spender, Marya Zaturenska, Horace Gregory, Tennessee Williams, Richard Eberhart, Gore Vidal and José Garcia Villa. (Photo: Gotham Book Mart)

RelatedThe Gotham Book Mart’s Final Chapter?

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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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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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lp-logo“Lonely Planet has imposed a pay freeze with immediate effect after announcing that 50 jobs have been cut. . . .

“The travel publisher, which employs 500 people worldwide has axed 10% of its staff. . . . [Acting CEO Stephen] Palmer said they had made some, ‘difficult decisions in response to the prolonged and deep economic downturn.’ He said, ‘no-one knows what the future holds or can make any guarantees, but this step is our best effort at protecting ourselves from further cuts.'” (via The Bookseller.com)

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Near Can Tho in the south of Viet Nam, along one of the smaller canals feeding into the Mekong River, an elderly woman transports ashes bought from one family to be sold to another that will use their purchase as fertilizer (December, 2006)

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Cao Lau, the celebrated Vietnamese noodle dish (usually served with pork and fried rice paper bits), according to local legend can only be made authentically in the ancient port town of Hoi An with water drawn from wells such as the one pictured here dug hundreds of years ago by the Cham people (December, 2006)

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Cambodian musicians, all victims of land mines, performing for donations on an entrance road to the Angkor Wat temple complex, Angkor, Cambodia (December, 2006) (Full photo)

Related: The Cambodia Landmine Museum

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

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cuba-books“Cubans’ passion for literature will again characterize the upcoming 18th International Book Fair Cuba 2009, set for Feb 12 through the 22 here in Havana and then, from Feb 23 through March 8 in other Cuban cities.”

(via Cuba News Headlines)

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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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All across Viet Nam today poets “are agog with excitement” celebrating national “Poetry Day.”

(via Saigon Giai Phong Daily)

[Display of puppets, Hanoi, December, 2006; Full photo]

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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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guttman-space“You may feel as if you’d stepped into a quirky 19th-century museum, but that’s not how Mr. [Peter] Guttman, a travel photographer, sees the densely packed four walls, floor and ceiling of his family’s living room. His meticulously organized collection of rare folk art and handmade tools, toys, weapons, textiles, baskets, ceramics, etc., dedicated to the memory of extinct or nearly-so ways of life and assembled as snugly as a jigsaw puzzle, is ‘a mirror of my personal life,’ he said, ‘a diary of global travels.'” (Audio Slide Show) (via NY Times)

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In the ancient Cambodian capital of Oudong, at the base of Phnom Oudong, children hire themselves out as companions, with fans, to visitors to the Royal Tombs, December, 2006.

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

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“Don’t Piss Here” – Painted message on brick wall in residential section of Hanoi, Viet Nam, December, 2006 (note evidence of just-concluded disobedience along bottom of wall at lower left)

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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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