Here’s the latest list of stuff I found interesting on the interwebz, October 7 through November 10:
- Jessica is in the new “Dream of Venice” book
I am extremely proud to be included in a new book of photographs, essays, & poems about a city I adore – Venice. Other contributors to the book include Woody Allen, Frances Mayes, Julie Christie, Erica Jong, & Marcella Hazan – it’s heady company.The book is to be released in early December, & you can read my excerpt on my Italy travel guide site, Italy Explained.
Incidentally, I’m going to be giving away a copy of the book over on Italy Explained later this year, so if you’re not already receiving the Italy Explained newsletter you should sign up so you hear about that giveaway as soon as it’s ready. Just enter your name & email address in the boxes in the right-hand column of the site.
- Missed In History: The Expulsion of Jews from Spain
In 2012, after the TBEX conference in Girona, my friend Pam & I stayed for a couple blissful days in the pretty walled town. Most of that time was spent in restaurants, seated at four-hour lunches (that is not hyperbole), but we paid a visit to Girona's little Jewish museum. Pam wrote about the experience here (you should really go read that, too).
Overall, we were both struck by (that is to say we were angry about) the willful disregard for the truth of what had happened to Spain's Jewish population. I had heard about a tour guide in Girona saying that no one knew why, but one day all the Jews just left. The displays in the museum echoed that preposterous theme – that the Jews "decided to leave." It's not only factually inaccurate, that kind of information whitewashes a terrible truth. We all know what happens when we don’t learn from history, right?
In any case, fast-forward to 2014, & I’m glad to see this topic covered on a new episode of a favorite podcast. They don’t get into how people in modern Spain (at least in Girona) turn a blind eye to the truth of their history – this podcast is really about what led to the expulsion of the Jews, what they were allowed to take with them (not much), etc. It does mention that the edict barring Jews from living in Spain wasn’t officially overturned until the 1960s. That would be completely unbelievable, had I not been to Girona in 2012 & seen them still pretending the Jews “decided to leave” for reasons no one understands.
If you still think 1492 in Spain is all about Columbus, please set aside a half-hour & listen.
- Pok Pok Wing and Koi Fusion Take Flight at PDX
I love Portland's airport – a good thing, since I spend more time there than in any other airport – but here's a reason to love it even more. They've now opened a food cart pod at the airport.
- Cheryl Strayed Says Tattoos Are Intimate Portraits and Stories
There is a new book out that tells the stories behind tattoos. I would want that book anyway, but then when you add that Cheryl Strayed wrote the introduction… Well, it's a no-brainer.
Here’s the latest list of stuff I found interesting on the interwebz, September 25 through September 30:
- Portland, OR: A Tale of Two Cities
I recently went on a "Portlandia" tour of Portland, which turned out to be much more about the not-so-rosy history of the city than I had expected. It was extremely educational.
And then, not long after I went on that tour, I listened to this episode of "State of the RE:Union" about Portland, which focuses on some of the same issues my tour guide talked about.
Present-day Portland is still very much informed by the historic mistreatment of one race by another, & this podcast does a great job of explaining that. I highly recommend a listen if you're in Portland, love Portland, or just interested in race relations.
- Emma Watson Delivers Game-Changing Speech on Feminism for the U.N.
I'm not sure the "He for She" campaign is the only one needed to push for gender equality, but as long as we assume that one method won't work for everyone – that many messages leading to the same conclusion are required – then I am quite happy to have "He for She" out there reminding people that feminism does not mean "man-hating."
Emma Watson's speech is excellent (set aside 13 minutes & watch the whole thing), & her use of this Edmund Burke quote is a great reminder to all of us, on this topic & many others:
"All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good men and women to do nothing."
- Lessons from my School of Rock
Pam’s band is on something of a hiatus at the moment, which gave her a chance to look back at the past few years’ worth of lessons learned from being part of a band. They’re all good lessons, not strictly limited to music, but this is the one that I loved best:
"It was heartbreaking how many people — mostly women, some with a better background in music than I have — told me they’d put away their drum kit, electric guitar, bass, whatever, because they were too old to play rock and roll. I couldn’t decide if there was some indictment in there about how grown humans are supposed to act or if these folks were just defeated. I joined the band shortly before my 47th birthday. Made other choices? Okay. Hands don’t work like they used to? No kidding. Woefully out of practice? Yeah, I know. But too old? Fuck that."
- Super Slow Motion Close-Up of a Tattoo Being Applied
Great explanation of how tattoo machines work, plus some super-slo-mo video of a tattoo being applied. I don't even watch my OWN tattoos being done, so it doesn't surprise me that I kind of winced during this video, too.
- Vulvatron Is GWAR’s New Vocalist
I am no fan of GWAR, but I can't help but get excited that they've added their first female front-person to the lineup.
"Why is it so important that one of the biggest bands in metal has just added a female member to its ranks to replace one of metal’s biggest personalities? How could it not be?"
Women in metal usually fit into a short list of stereotypes, & almost none of them have anything to do with musical ability. I had very few female role models when I started listening to metal. That didn't stop me from wanting to be a singer (as opposed to just a groupie), but I imagine it would have been fantastic to have more women to look up to where they weren’t required to fit into certain roles (not to mention skimpy clothing). So, no, I probably won't start listening to GWAR even now, but – all hail Vulvatron? You bet.
Here’s the latest list of stuff I found interesting on the interwebz, August 21 through September 19:
- Italy Explained
This has been in the works for longer than I'd care to admit, & I'm pleased to finally (FINALLY) release my new Italy travel guide into the wild. Perhaps this will motivate me to work more diligently on it… In the meantime, please have a look around & let me know what you think!
Also, I’ll be moving all my Italy-related newsy bits to Italy Explained, so from now on if you want your amuse-bouches to include a bit of Italian, you’ll need to subscribe to the Italy Explained blog feed, too.
- The Best States for Beer Lovers
Thrillist ranked all the states in the US based on their beer, and y'know what? Oregon came in at number one.
"Much ballyhoo has been made of the sheer number of breweries in the Portland metro area, which tops out at more than 70 and counting… but this isn’t a case of quantity over quality. It’s a case of quantity meeting quality head on. "But that’s just one city in a state full of amazing brewers dotting the state, from the coastal Pelican to the high desert’s 10 Barrel, mid-state’s Ninkasi, Southern Oregon’s uncleverly named Southern Oregon Brewing, Mt. Hood’s Double Mountain… basically, if you enter a city or town in Oregon without a solid brewery, you’ve probably crossed into Washington or Idaho. Or maybe the capital of Salem… which sucks."
- Andrea Pirlo and his beard are silently judging people
Oh, man. This guy. THIS GUY.
- 7 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Wizard Of Oz,’ Even If It’s Your Favorite Movie
I knew some of the costumes were toxic… But I did NOT know that the Tin Man's "oil" was chocolate sauce. Some other interesting factoids in here, too.
- Great Mistakes in English Medieval Architecture
The mistakes made here are interesting, but it's the write-ups next to each one that had me giggling over my coffee.
Here’s the latest list of stuff I found interesting on the interwebz, June 11 through August 19:
- 12 things white people can do now because Ferguson
"Michael Brown was a good kid, by accounts of those who knew him during his short life. But that’s not why his death is tragic. His death isn’t tragic because he was a sweet kid on his way to college next week. His death is tragic because he was a human being and his life mattered. The Good Kid narrative might provoke some sympathy but what it really does is support the lie that as a rule black people, black men in particular, have a norm of violence or criminal behavior. The Good Kid narrative says that this kid didn’t deserve to die because his goodness was the exception to the rule. This is wrong. This kid didn’t deserve to die because he was a human being and black lives matter."
- Our Moloch
This is perhaps the most powerful piece on our culture's insatiable desire to keep and bear arms – at any cost – that I've read. It was written a few days after the Newtown elementary school massacre, and could have been written after every one of the 74 school shootings that have happened since that day.
We are, intentionally and knowingly, sacrificing our children to guns – our Moloch – every day. We have let this happen. We sit mutely as it continues to happen. We let our elected officials get away with doing nothing to stop it. We should be ashamed.
- Obama Goes off on Mass Shootings
"Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country on Earth that would put up with this. Now, we have a different tradition. We have a Second Amendment. We have historically respected gun rights. I respect gun rights. But the idea that, for example, we couldn’t even get a background check bill in to make sure that if you’re going to buy a weapon you have to actually go through a fairly rigorous process so that we know who you are, so you can't just walk up to a store and buy a semiautomatic weapon — it makes no sense."
I really like that the President says things like this. I just wish he could (would?) do something about it.
- Next Time Someone Says Women Aren’t Victims Of Harassment, Show Them This.
This is really, really awesome. Everyone should read this.
That means you, too.
- Who’s Right and Wrong in the Middle East?
"Both sides have plenty of good people who just want the best for their children and their communities, and also plenty of myopic zealots who preach hatred. A starting point is to put away the good vs. evil narrative and recognize this as the aching story of two peoples — each with legitimate grievances — colliding with each other. "Here we have a conflict between right and right that has been hijacked by hard-liners on each side who feed each other. It’s not that they are the same, and what I see isn’t equivalence. Yet there is, in some ways, a painful symmetry — and one element is that each side vigorously denies that there is any symmetry at all."
- Artists in Conversation: Kathleen Hanna by Melissa Febos
Even though I'm usually fairly confident in my own singing voice, it is still heartwarming to read that a successful singer & recording artist also felt that familiar insecurity about singing in front of bandmates. Sometimes I cringe at what comes out of my mouth, even when I know my bandmates like what they hear.
The self-criticism muscle is maybe the only one I've ever worked on consistently (& unintentionally), every damned day of my life.
- A Free-Range Life: On the Road with Pam Mandel
Pam's travel tips, toward the end of this interview, could have come out of my own mouth. This is, I'm sure, one of the many reasons we are friends. I have a very fond memory of wandering the aisles of the supermarket across from our hotel in Girona, Pam picking up chocolate-covered almonds to bring home to her bandmates.
Supermarkets – always a good idea. Always.
- Which Side Are You On, Girl?
A really excellent piece by Lauren Quinn on class in America… And swimming. Because of course.
- 37 reasons why Andrea Pirlo is the world’s greatest living human man
THIS is the guy who's responsible for getting me into soccer in the first place. Watching him in the 2006 World Cup was like watching a magician. He is still a marvel to watch.
Here’s the latest list of stuff I found interesting on the interwebz, May 9 through June 5:
- How to Get a World Cup Style Soccer Experience in the U.S.
MapQuest has launched a series of "99 Summer Travel Quests" – one for each of summer's 99 days – and they asked me to write about going to a Timbers game as one of the quests. I was more than happy to oblige – my only consternation was about the word limit (I could have gone on and on about the fan atmosphere).
- We’re Drinking Whiskey Faster Than Distillers Can Make More
It is a very good thing that I both (a) live in a place where there are local distilleries making kick-ass whiskey I can get before it hits store shelves, and (b) also freaking adore gin.
- The Prettiest Girl At The Party
I really liked this profile of Jill Abramson, particularly this paragraph:
"Your power does not come from luck. Your power comes from you, and what you invest in it every day, in the work and the sweat and the giving a damn. That is what you carry around with you, even as you walk out of your fancy top job for the last time. That is what you carry into the next thing, and there will be a next thing, because you are good and because that’s what you do. That is your capital."
- Archaeologists’ findings may prove Rome a century older than thought
Okay, so when you're talking about a city that just celebrated its 2767th birthday, saying that it might actually be 100 or so years older than previously thought may not seem like much to get excited about. But in Rome, it is.
- Rome police pit Twitter against crazy parking
Italians have a knack for parking in "creative" ways, in that they can see a cross walk in the middle of the street & decide it's the perfect place to park. Now Rome's police are fighting back – via Twitter. Incensed Romans can send a message to a specific Twitter account & the police will reply when they've dealt with the offending car. Pretty amazing, particularly for Italy.
Here’s the latest list of stuff I found interesting on the interwebz, April 8 through May 1:
- Over 200 Girls in Nigeria Kidnapped Because They Attended School
Sometimes there are stories that hit me so hard, that hit squarely in the soft spot of one of the issues near and dear to my heart, that I can't even talk or think about them logically. My heart is in my throat the instant I hear them. This is one of those stories.
These girls were taken on April 16th, and they remain missing. Sign the online petitions (linked in this article). If you're on social media, use the hashtags listed to add your voice to the outcry. Tell your friends about this horrifying story. Keep it in the news until the girls are returned home.
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Welcome to the Finger-Wagging Olympics
I was glad to hear the NBA acted quickly to ban Donald Sterling for life – until I heard more about Sterling's very public and very racist past. Something about the previous look-the-other-way attitude made me uncomfortable. I couldn't have said it this well, but thankfully Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did.
"So, if we’re all going to be outraged, let’s be outraged that we weren’t more outraged when his racism was first evident. Let’s be outraged that private conversations between people in an intimate relationship are recorded and publicly played. Let’s be outraged that whoever did the betraying will probably get a book deal, a sitcom, trade recipes with Hoda and Kathie Lee, and soon appear on Celebrity Apprentice and Dancing with the Stars.
"Let’s use this tawdry incident to remind ourselves of the old saying: ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.’ Instead of being content to punish Sterling and go back to sleep, we need to be inspired to vigilantly seek out, expose, and eliminate racism at its first signs.”
- Death and Taxes
The first act of this "This American Life" episode is a lovely portrait of hospice workers & the work they do. It made me wish we had done hospice care for my dad instead of just being at the hospital (where no one was there to guide us through the dying process).
Having someone on hand to think about the things you don't even know you need to think about, to answer the questions you don't even know you have… It's impossible to overstate the importance of this at a time when your brain isn't capable of dealing with what's right in front of you.
- You’re a Stranger Too? Have Some Soup.
My friend Pam captures my feelings about Passover pretty beautifully in this post. It's been too many years since I attended a Seder; next year I need to find one.
- Iranian killer’s execution halted at last minute by victim’s parents
The photo of the two mothers embracing & sobbing together is just… Wow.
- GoldieBlox Means Well But Doesn’t Live Up to the Hype
"It's just hard not to feel like GoldieBlox has rocketed into public consciousness not because it's a magical play experience for kids, but rather because it gives grownups something to argue about."
- ‘World’s Most Haunted Island’ For Sale In Italy, Poveglia Is A ‘Crumbling Collection’ Of Abandoned Buildings
So… Anybody wanna buy a haunted island in Italy? I mean, I'm willing to go halfsies on it.
- This Pie Chart Is Delicious And Statistically Sound
In which a baker creates a pie chart of America's favorite pie flavors using… PIE. The actual flavors in the survey, as a matter of fact. It's hilarious & brilliant.