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Banjo Time

Pittsburgh’s Rollicking Jam Band

A strange scene can be found on Wednesdays at the Elks Lodge: tattooed and pierced youngsters join with their nursing home elders for drinks, merriment, and some damn good banjo music.

Shortly before 8 p.m. on a recent Wednesday night, the Elks Lodge 339 in Pittsburgh’s North Side underwent its weekly rebirth. Hordes of silver-haired retirement home residents began flooding through the doors, taking their seats at a series of long folding tables set up in rows. Before long, crowds of twentysomethings, tattooed and pierced, sporting hipster fashions and guzzling $2 beers, packed the long rectangular bar in the back until it was standing room only. The crowd was as diverse as it was eclectic—all of them here to see the same Roaring 1920s-style banjo band—and it wasn’t long before the generations merged together over drinks and a song.

Banjo Night

Jack Fordyce

Every week, the Pittsburgh Banjo Club holds its rehearsals at the Elks Lodge, performing classics like You Are My Sunshine and Yes, I Have No Bananas, drawing hundreds of onlookers, from World War II veterans to college students. The club consists of some 80 banjo players spanning four generations, although about 30 come together on any given night to rehearse for this crowd of lively spectators. Their goal is to revive the 4-string banjo (as opposed to the bluegrass 5-string) and turn younger generations on to the instrument. In the process, they are becoming a “must see” for anyone visiting Pittsburgh, a city that has stayed true to its Rust Belt roots despite a push to modernize in recent years. 

“Places like this are not only nostalgic but they are emblematic of cultural institutions in our city,” said Jonathan Livingston, 36, a PhD candidate at the University of Pittsburgh and a regular at the Elks Lodge banjo night. “It’s one of those environments where young and very old have fun, and as the night progresses, everybody comes together.”


The Effing Awesomeness of Earth


America’s Greenest Cities

‘New Film Stills’

Why the Art World Coddles Franco

The art world loves the star attention the actor brings so much so that it accepts his ‘art’ without much scrutiny. In his new exhibit, though, Franco goes a step too far.

Is James Franco really an artist? He must be, because he just opened a major show at New York’s blue chip Pace Gallery, which represents Chuck Close, Maya Lin, and a host of living and dead creative legends.


New Film Still #21, 2013 gelatin silver print 26" x 39-3/4" (66 cm x 101 cm) Edition of 3 (James Franco)

Yet many art world insiders consider actor/serial dilettante Franco’s work nothing more than a joke, though few will admit that for the record, and even then, elliptically. A paparazzi-magnet, Franco’s presence in myriad exhibitions reflects an insecure art world’s seemingly harmless infatuation with celebrity and hunger for validation. In exchange for photo ops  with the likes of MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach—because who outside the art world even knows who that is?—Franco’s pratfalls are humored.

The mutually beneficial relationship began around 2010, when Franco, who played a performance artist in a small role on General Hospital, arranged for both the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and its then-director, Jeffrey Deitch, to make cameos on the soap. Though Franco had made some artworks in the late 2000s, he wasn’t embraced by the likes of Alanna Heiss, the founder and former director of P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, until the summer of 2010, when she curated Franco’s first solo show in New York. There was also a stint in a “performance art music-based duo” with legit artist Kalup Linzy, a turn in a group pop-up show called “Rebel,” in collaboration with LA MOCA, in which Franco presented what art critic Hunter Drohojowska-Philp called a “chaotic deconstruction” of the film Rebel Without a Cause, a video called “My Own Private River” in collaboration with filmmaker Gus van Sant, a turn in highly legit artist Isaac Julien’s lavish film “Playtime,” and a so-called gallery exhibition last summer, curated by the genuinely talented Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon.

Baseball season is back, which means it’s time to take in some home runs and hot dogs. Check out The Daily Beast’s ranking of the best Major League Baseball stadiums. Batter up!

Whether you obsessively counted down the days to Spring Training or are one of those one-game-per-summer fans, hot dog season is well upon us. With a long, hot summer of game days ahead, The Daily Beast set out to rank the 30 Major League ballparks. Taking the value of the visit, expert opinion, and the historical value of each park vs. the thrill of brand spanking new amenities into consideration, here is a look at which baseball stadiums you shouldn’t miss this season.

To calculate the best ticket value, The Daily Beast turned to Team Marketing’s Fan Cost Index (FCI), which represents the average price for a family of four to attend a game. The final value combines the total cost of four non-premium season tickets, two beers, four soft drinks, four hot dogs, parking for one car, two programs or scorecards, and two adult-size hats. Team Marketing determined these costs through standardized telephone interviews with representatives of the teams, venues, and concessionaires.


Jason Miller/Getty

The directors of the documentary ‘Tomorrow We Disappear,’ now playing at the Tribeca Film Festival, on India’s legendary Kathputli slum, the last home to magicians, acrobats, and puppeteers.

“But no, I must stop all this, and tell the story as simply as possible: while troops chased arrested dragged magicians from their ghetto…while bulldozers moved forwards into the slum, a door was slammed shut…but not all the magicians were captured; not all of them were carted off…and it said that the day after the bulldozing of the magicians’ ghetto, a new slum was reported in the heart of the city.”


Joshua Cogan

It was these words in Salman Rushdie’s Booker Prize-winning Midnight’s Children that first brought us to New Delhi’s Kathputli Colony, the legendary slum of magicians, acrobats, and puppeteers. Midnight’s Children captured the first time the slum was destroyed, in the ‘70s during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency, but like a futile game of whack-a-mole between artists and the government, Kathputli popped up again just a few months later. 

In 2008 it was announced once again that Kathputli would face demolition, but this time something was different: in exchange for the sprawling Kathputli land, the government was now offering the artists colony free housing in 20-story high-rises.

Like Forrest Gump, South Beach Market prepares their fresh seafood in just about every way possible. But most importantly, eating there will change your mind about fried seafood forever.

If you are dubious about fried seafood—and who isn’t?—we recommend a visit to South Beach Market on the Oregon coast where the Yaquina River flows into Yaquina Bay. Here is irrefutable evidence that fresh seafood, fried right, can be among Earth’s most scrumptious foodstuffs. Jumbo wild prawns, which really are jumbo, are nothing short of magnificent, offering two levels of crunch: first, the crackle of the garlic-infused tempura-batter crust that surrounds them, and then the dense snap of the pink meat itself. The same great crust can be tasted enveloping cod, salmon, tuna, oysters, calamari, halibut, little baby popcorn shrimp, and clam strips.


Michael Stern

As for the chips half of the “fish and chips” dish, the French fries are perfectly decent crinkle-cuts, but we highly recommend paying extra for onion rings. They come as a variegated tangle that includes perfect, evenly battered hoops, frail squiggles of batter that are slightly onion-flavored, and little lengths of limp onion to which only a dab of batter clings. Poking through this crunchy-sweet vegetable mound is edible ecstasy.


Michael Stern

Guest Star

Pharrell to Curate Art Show

Pharrell to Curate Art Show Frazer Harrison/Getty

Organizes feminist show at Galerie Perrotin.

Dedicated to “strong, free women,” an upcoming exhibition at the Galerie Perrotin’s third Parisian outpost has enlisted a very happy guest curator—singer Pharrell Williams. After successfully organizing last year’s This Is Not a Toy exhibition at the Design Exchange in Canada, Williams—who has also designed furniture, collaborated with artist Takashi Murakami, and is an avid collector of art—will present a group of 32 artists, half of whom are women. Borrowing its name from Williams’s recently released album, Girl, the show's artists will include Cindy Sherman, Tracey Emin, Guerrilla Girls, and Marina Abramovic and will run from May 27-June 25.

Read it at Complex


Food from Your Favorite Books

Food Mystery

The Search for General Tso

A new documentary premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival explores how and why General Tso’s chicken became a cultural touchstone.

It’s a taste both foreign, and familiar. Chicken is diced into square inches, marinated, and deep-fried in a wok, followed by a quick toss in brown sauce. The sauce is a mélange of flavors—tangy, salty, and sweet—lathered on a crisp shell encasing the warm, tender meat.


General Tso's Chicken (Ian Cheney)

General Tso’s Chicken has become a staple of American dining; a dish that, were it not for pizza, could be crowned the most popular ethnic food item in the country. And it’s a total cash cow. The dish is carried in most of the 50,000 Chinese restaurants in the United States, produced very cheaply, and sold for about $10 a pop, resulting in billions of dollars in tasty revenue.

Ian Cheney’s documentary The Search for General Tso, premiering at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, traces the origins of the beloved Chinese food dish, and examines who the hell General Tso is.

Magical Europe Timelapse

Photographer Stan Chang has taken our breath away, and we don't want it back. Chang shot over 1,000 time lapses on a 30-country European tour. This Vimeo compilation is stunning.

  1. Tokyo Reverse Play

    Tokyo Reverse

  2. 'The World as I Saw It' Play

    'The World as I Saw It'

  3. Scuba Divers Escape Humpback Whales Play

    Scuba Divers Escape Humpback Whales

Beautiful Places

A Case of Home Envy

OMG, I Want This House

OMG, I Want This House

Seen from the street, this two-story home seems to be yet another suburban house. But on the inside, it's a wonderland of lush gardens, quirky design elements, and bright, airy spaces.

Haute Hampton

OMG, I Want this House

South African Paradise

OMG, I Want This House

Life On the Edge

They Did What?!

Jumping for Freedom

Jumping for Freedom

The authorities are charging the men who parachuted from One World Trade Center. But we should be celebrating them.


Jamaica's Amazing Dogsled Team


A Most Illegal Adventure

Foodie Paradise

Belly of the Beast

Spain’s Vegetable Whisperer

Spain’s Vegetable Whisperer

Michelin-starred Spanish chef Rodrigo de la Calle is having a whole lot of fun playing with his food…and he’ll leave no plant untried in the process

Pit Stop

A South Carolina Oyster Shack


A Disneyland for Foodies


Rehabbing Fukushima’s Food Scene

Drink Up

Paris’s Beer Revolution

Mirror Image

Doppelgängers Do Exist

These People Are Strangers

These People Are Strangers

On a whim, François Brunelle began taking photos of complete strangers who look eerily similar. Over 200 images later, he is going strong all over the world.


Lush Places

The Scotland of India

The Scotland of India

India has become known for the congested traffic and crowds of the cities. To escape the madness, Indians head to Coorg, a land of lush beauty, traditional food, and—sigh—tranquility.


Lush Places: Guatemala's Best City

Island Time

No Shirt, No Shoes ...

Day at the Museum

Art to See Right Now

Bill Cunningham’s Tales of Old NYC

Bill Cunningham’s Tales of Old NYC

Bill Cunningham is known for his photographs of New York’s striking and fashionable residents. A 1968 project placed architecture squarely in the center of the frame too.

Hell Raiders

Every Viking ‘Fact’ Is Wrong


Jasper Johns is Back to Work


Sexually-Charged Napalm Art


Capa in Color


Argentina Bar Crawl

The Absinthe-Minded Buenos Aires

The Absinthe-Minded Buenos Aires

A scattered group of absinthe lovers are beginning to come together in the Paris of South America to make and drink the green fairy. There’s only one problem—it’s largely illegal.


Laurie Simmons's New Show

A Dunham Doll’s Life

A Dunham Doll’s Life

Artist Laurie Simmons explores the freedom that comes with dressing up like someone entirely different—a doll—in a new exhibit based on the Japanese practice of Kigurumi.

Crazy Places

What a World

Sacrificial Limbs of New Orleans

Sacrificial Limbs of New Orleans

The devout have been making pilgrimages to one historic chapel for over a century, bringing strange offerings like organ replicas, glass eyes, and prosthetics as a prayer for recovery.

What a World

India’s Skeleton Lake

What a World

The Island Ruled by Cats

What a World

Africa's Epic Empty Megachurch

What a World

Arrows Across America

Great Escapes