Archive for the ‘U.S. Travel’ Category

“Joseph O’Neill’s novel ‘Netherland’ was named the winner of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation said on Wednesday. The honor for ‘Netherland,’ about a Dutch-born equities analyst, his British wife and their son, who live in New York during the Sept. 11 attack and its aftermath, is something of a comeback for Mr. O’Neill. The novel, though widely praised, was shut out in the National Book Awards and the National Book Critics Circle awards.” (via NY Times)

Michiko Kakutani’s New York Times review of “Netherland” can be found here.

[In many ways “Netherland” is a book about sports — in this instance cricket — and national identity; but the novel also contains some of the finest descriptions of ethnic New York City found anywhere. Related20 Are Detained After Cricket Attack (3/4/09, via NY Times)]

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“These days, with a kitchen and a bit of ambition, you can start to make a name for yourself in Brooklyn. The borough has become an incubator for a culinary-minded generation whose idea of fun is learning how to make something delicious and finding a way to sell it.

“These Brooklynites, most in their 20s and 30s, are hand-making pickles, cheeses and chocolates the way others form bands and artists’ collectives. They have a sense of community and an appreciation for traditional methods and flavors. They also share an aesthetic that’s equal parts 19th and 21st century, with a taste for bold graphics, salvaged wood and, for the men, scruffy beards.” (via NY Times)

Related: edible Brooklyn

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morgan-cartoonWith the stir over the New York Post’s economic stimulus cartoon unlikely to die down any time soon (unlike the stimulus bill-writing chimp), there may be no better time to visit the ongoing exhibition at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York, “On the Money: Cartoons for The New Yorker From the Melvin R. Seiden Collection.”

“Celebrating the art of the cartoonist, On the Money: Cartoons for The New Yorker features approximately eighty original drawings by some of The New Yorker’s most talented and beloved artists who have tackled the theme of money and the many ways in which it defines us. . . .

“The works are drawn entirely from the collection of Melvin R. Seiden, a longtime supporter of the Morgan, who has assembled one of the largest and most representative private selections of this art form which spans the history of The New Yorker. The Seiden collection of New Yorker cartoons, numbering nearly 1,500 sheets, complements the Morgan’s holdings in the history of satire and humor, which range from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. . . .

“Since 1925 The New Yorker magazine has served as the leading forum for American cartoonists to reflect and comment on the nation’s social and cultural environment.”

The exhibition runs through May 24th.

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The Gates, an installation along 23 miles of Central Park pathways, by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, February, 2005

(Full photo)

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As reported in a New York Magazine article still much-discussed by DUMBO locals, Steven Kaplan, a Professor of European History at Cornell University and the “world’s preeminent French-bread scholar,” after a blind tasting of 13 of New York City’s finest baguettes, chose Almondine Bakery‘s eponymous baguette as the city’s best.

Scoring a 14.65 (on a scale of 21), the Almondine baguette, said Kaplan, “has a nice look, nice resonance, and a nice song . . . It has a little bit of fruit, a peachy, buttery quality in its nose . . . [and] achieves a good marriage of crust and crumb.”

almondineBut before Almondine’s now famous dough could rise, the abandoned four-story warehouse and pepper factory now occupied by the bakery had to be gutted, rehabilitated and adapted for commercial and residential use.  In 2003, Bob Vila, late of the This Old House home improvement and repair television series, devoted the entire season of his Home Again series to the transformation of this c. 1850s building unused since the 1950s.  

More than just a chronicle of a single restoration project, the videos from the DUMBO series (clips from all 13 episodes can be found here) offer some of the best footage available of the development of the Brooklyn neighborhood that in the past several years has become a must-see destination on the New York City tourist circuit.

Update: Best of New York: Eating: Best Bakery (via “2009 Best of New York” issue of New York Magazine)

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Brass band, part of wedding procession through streets of the French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana, June, 2006

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Looking west. Railroad crossing, Marathon, Texas, June, 2006 (Full photo)

RelatedWelcome to Marathon, Texas

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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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Marfa, Texas, long a tourist destination for devotees of paranormal phenomena who journey to this remote desert outpost for a chance to experience the Marfa Lights, is still in many ways a typical small Texas town where languorous locals are animated by talk of high school football. But when I visited Marfa two years ago while en route to Odessa, Texas for a reunion of my wife’s family, the entire town seemed like a mirage: there, deep in the heart of George Bush country, were art and photography galleries, a public radio station serving “Far West Texas,” and a coffee shop, The Brown Recluse, providing customers with reading copies of such un-Bush publications as  “The Nation” and “The New York Review of Books” while serving some of the best fresh roasted coffee (organic and free trade) on either side of the Rio Grande. Marfa owes its current status as an art destination to the American painter and minimalist sculptor Donald Judd who moved to town in 1971 with hopes of realizing his art on a “grand scale.”


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