Paris wasn’t always the city of wide boulevards and elegant parks. A new exhibition at the National Gallery of Art displays Charles Marville’s photographs of the city in transition.
Sometimes it takes a while to recognize an important artist. In the case of French photographer Charles Marville, the wait has lasted two-hundred years.
Percement de l'avenue de l'Opéra (Construction of the avenue de l'Opéra), December 1876
On the bicentennial of his birth, Marville and his work are featured in a fantastic new exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., titled “Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris.”
Over a hundred years before sections of news sites and Flickr pages devoted to “ruin porn” sprang up, Charles Marville set out to document a Paris that had been subjected to an incredible amount of destruction, and would undergo its most dramatic changes yet under city-planner Baron Haussmann.
It’s got great restaurants and world-class museums—as well as soaring rents, crowded buses, and nonstop construction work. What’s a lifelong Londoner to do?
It’s more than two centuries ago that Samuel Johnson made the observation: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life…” (He goes on, “for there is in London all that life can afford.”)
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose? Unfortunately, we don’t get a say in where we’re born or where we grow up. Geographical decisions begin when you take a job, or apply for university, although they still depend on external, practical factors, such as where we can afford to rent or buy property, where our family or partner lives, where we can find work.
I was born in London and have lived here most of my life. Wherever I end my days, it’ll always be in my marrow. But it has changed a lot in recent years: battalions of buses, lorries, taxis and cars clog the centre of town, contributing to dire levels of pollution, and general malaise. On top of the near-permanent gridlock, much of London is being excavated for Crossrail, a mega new train network linking the capital with surrounding regions to the east and west. Costing billions of pounds, Crossrail is Europe's largest infrastructure construction project, with 73 miles of railway—26 miles of this in underground tunnels. Massive drilling machines are at work beneath our pavements, and whole swathes of the city centre will continue to be disrupted until the completion date of 2018.
I sometimes wonder what my great-aunt Virginia Woolf would have made of all this. One of Virginia’s greatest pleasures in London was "street-haunting"; it provided inspiration for her writing and solace when she felt depressed. She thrived on the energy of London, and suffered terribly during her nervous breakdowns, when she was moved out of her town for her health. In a low moment in 1934, she wrote: "I’m so ugly. So old. Well, don’t think about it, and walk all over London; and see people and imagine their lives." Now, as I walk the same streets Virginia walked, the sights are cranes and bulldozers, the sounds are pneumatic drills and emergency sirens. (For several nights now, a police helicopter has been hovering in the skies around my area; it’s a menacing noise.)
One of the greatest travel books ever published, the late Patrick Leigh Fermor’s two-volumes of his walk across Europe in the 1930s, is finally finished.
In 1933, at the age of 18, Patrick Leigh Fermor set off to walk across Europe from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul, or Constantinople, as he always called it. He reached his destination at the end of 1934, after many memorable adventures and encounters, but he did not write about the journey until nearly thirty years later.
By then, he was a war hero, celebrated for his part in the abduction of a German general in occupied Crete in 1944, and a writer whose books included two loving tributes to his adopted home of Greece. He was supposed to be writing a 5, 000 word article for an American magazine, but within months, he had written 84, 000 words. Most of the book, which he provisionally entitled A Youthful Journey, covered the last stage of his walk, between Bulgaria and Turkey but when he returned to the subject in the early 1970s, he started again at the beginning. In the next twenty years, he wrote two celebrated books that covered the first two thirds of a journey that has been described as ‘the longest gap year in history’: A Time of Gifts, which was published in 1977, took him from his lodgings in London to the borders of Hungary, and Between the Woods and the Water, which appeared nine years later, when he was 71, took him as far as the Iron Gates, a gorge on the River Danube where A Youthful Journey began.
Between the Woods and the Water ended with the promise that the account was ‘To Be Concluded’. Since Leigh Fermor had already written a draft of the third volume, he must have hoped that finishing it would be relatively easy. Yet his literary executors Colin Thubron and Artemis Cooper (who is also his biographer) say that the “commitment was to dog Paddy for the rest of his life.”
Marina Rikhvanova has devoted her life to cleaning up the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake—but her activism has made enemies in high places.
She fell hopelessly in love with Lake Baikal—and this love caused all of her troubles.
Marina Rikhvanova of Baikal Environmental Wave, an organization that has been lobbying for the closure of the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill for decades, poses for a portrait on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 in Irkutsk, Russia. (Brendan Hoffman)
Marina Rikhvanova, the soft-spoken but persistent leader of the environmental group Baikal Wave, has fought for more than 20 years to save the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake. Last Month, she apparently won the battle: Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill, which had been polluting Lake Baikal and threatening its plant and animal life for over 40 years, finally shut down.
Rikhvanova was the one who, back in 2011, waded into snow up to her chest to discover and photograph the mill’s illegal dumping of lignin-based slurry, an industrial waste product. Her group’s report on the practice to UNESCO played a crucial role in the mill’s closure. “At the end of the day, the main argument for shutting down the mill was its waste. To put the end to the pressure from international community, President Putin promised UNESCO to close the mill,” the executive manager of Baikalsk pulp mill told The Daily Beast.
With a beautiful location and rustic charm, a weekend in Stowe, Vermont can cure any life woes…especially during the fall.
I was the prodigal son returned.
Despite a raft of happy childhood memories at Smuggler’s Notch Resort, I had recently tossed Vermont aside for the bigger, fancier, and more famous escape of Colorado. With the dramatic Rockies, endless outdoor activities, a foodie heaven in Boulder, and lots of easy flights into Denver, Colorado had stolen my heart.
Downtown Stowe. (Alan Copson/Getty)
So it was with trepidation similar to a visit back to your old middle school that I took a long weekend to return to Stowe, Vermont just as fall was transitioning into winter. After being away for four years, would the things I once found charming or exciting now seem dull? The mountains less gasp-inducing? The long drive a buzz-kill?
For those do-gooders on your list.
Because it's not always easy to guess your relatives' shoe sizes, TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, who popularized the buy-one-give-one charity model, launched an online marketplace for similarly do-gooder-type gifts on Tuesday. All the 200 or so products are projects from 30 different entrepreneurs and charities—they range from whistles made of gunmetal that promote peace in the war-torn Congo to wooden headphones that provide hearing aids to the 275 million in need. Better get stocked up on holiday goodies that hail from across the globe soon, before you have to actually venture into a store.
On a cliff at 10,000 feet hangs the Bhutanese monastery dubbed the Tiger’s Nest. From its roots in the Second Buddha’s legend to the sheer drops on the way there, all about the complex.
Like an improbable mirage from a James Bond movie, the Tiger’s Nest hangs off a sheer cliffside drop, nestled among green foliage, 10,000 feet above sea level. But there’s no espionage here, in the mountains of Asia’s other hermit kingdom, Bhutan. Colorful prayer flags drape the forest path and a waterfall flows near this sacred Bhutanese monastery, where one of the holiest figures in Buddhism was said to have arrived in the country more than a thousand years ago.
Taktsang Palphug Monastery, also known as Tiger's Nest, sits on a sheer cliff face 900m above Paro Valley, Bhutan. (Kristen Elsby/Getty)
Though the name evokes a secret cinematic lair, the roots of the Tiger’s Nest are more folkloric. According to legend, in the 700s, a Tibetan missionary known as the Second Buddha mounted the back of a tigress and flew up to this remote mountaintop in the Eastern Himalayas, where he is said to have taken up residence in one of the cliff’s caves for three months, three weeks, three days, and three hours of meditation. After, he spread Buddhism to the Bhutanese. The country continues to celebrate his legacy today with an annual festival in his honor.
Officially called the Taktsang Palphug Monastery, the four connecting temples of the Tiger’s Nest were built in 1692, tacked onto the rock face in homage to the holy leader. Today it’s believed to be one of the highest temples in the world. When the original complex partially burned down in a fire in 1998, killing one monk and damaging valuable artwork, it took seven years for the government to renovate the Tiger’s Nest back to its ancient glory.
Is it the impossibly fresh ingredients, grandmothers' secret recipes, or even the ancient Aztecs' flair for sauces that makes Mexican cuisine so great? Mark Schatzker investigates.
There is a man selling oro mangoes at the farmers’ market in Malinalco who cuts them up into small, uneven chunks and serves them in a disposable cup, and I strongly suggest you buy one because it will be the best mango to ever pass your lips—a record that will stand for, oh, a minute. The oro (“gold”) is just a workaday mango, the man will tell you, about as good as a petacon (“butt cheek”), but nowhere near as good as the king of all mangoes, the mighty manila, a golden lobe of tropical acid-sweet balance that arrives peeled and gamely impaled on a wooden stick and dusted with chili powder.
A chef named Rosita has one of the most popular food stands at the Mercado Carmen. Here, one of her concoctions with panela cheese, mushrooms, and squash blossoms. (Peden & Munk)
I hope you’re hungry. Because there are also pig’s-brain quesadillas; pancita, a deeply savory beef broth with chunks of tripe finished with fresh oregano and a squeeze of lime juice; tacos filled with pig’s feet cured in vinegar; woven baskets heaped with just-baked bread; quesadillas stuffed with squash blossoms; heirloom tomatoes (which, around here, aren’t considered heirloom yet); free samples of chicozapote, a red-fleshed fruit with a flavor somewhere between nutmeg and cinnamon; unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese; tamales; enchiladas; fresh-squeezed orange juice; and locally grown, locally roasted coffee beans.
Shortly before his death, John Lennon became the most unlikely of tourists on this coral island. What drew him to its shores, and why did he stay for two months?
by John McCarthy
Fairylands is a name that conjures up a dreamy, other-worldly place, somewhere to escape the cares of a busy life. And so it is. Set across two small peninsulas on the island of Bermuda, it is a district of winding lanes through low hills, where homes, some grand, some cottages, sit surrounded by stone walls and green hedges filled with hibiscus blooms. With names such as Xanadu and Windermere, these dwellings have manicured lawns and little letter boxes that are models of the houses themselves. Fairylands is at once magical and twee.
Yoko Ono and John Lennon in Cap D'Antibes, France, 1979. (Rex USA)
It’s the last place you’d expect, perhaps, to find a right-on rock star with an interest in world peace—but that’s probably why it appealed so much to John Lennon in June 1980. Nor does it necessarily sound like a spot where a man who hasn’t written a song for half a decade is going to rediscover his mojo, and dispel a reputation for reclusiveness. Yet that’s what happened, as I’ll be recounting in a programme for Radio 4 next week, Imagine John Lennon’s Bermuda Adventure.
The forced shutdown of two wildly popular budget bus companies was largely based on fabricated charges—to the benefit of politically-connected corporate carriers.
On May 20, 2013, a passenger motor coach run by a Chinatown bus company called Lucky Star departed New York City for Boston’s South Station. Shortly after hitting the road, the driver heard a strange bang come from under the bus. The bus seemed to be functioning normally, so he kept going.
Passengers board a large tour bus in New York, June 26, 2012. After federal officials shut down a slew of small transportation companies in May for safety violations, large tour buses have begun to compete with smaller ones to ferry passengers between Chinatown in Manhattan and Chinatown in Queens. (Robert Stolarik/The New York Times, via Redux)
Upon arriving in Boston, the driver was shocked to find a New York City manhole cover lodged in the vehicle’s luggage compartment. Apparently, the bus struck the loose cover in the streets of Manhattan, sending it darting up into the vehicle’s undercarriage. Lucky Star immediately took the bus out of service and sent it to the garage for repairs.
The following month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ordered Lucky Star to cease operating on the grounds that its buses and drivers posed “an imminent hazard to public safety.” One of the primary reasons the FMCSA gave for the shutdown was the manhole cover incident. But the out-of-service order, which is the official document revoking the company’s operating license, incorrectly states that after discovering the damage, Lucky Star’s dispatcher kept the vehicle out of the garage and continued sending it on passenger trips in an act of willful negligence.
From a submerged Bar Refaeli to a Mediterranean idyll, a voyeur’s look at the stars’ sun-soaked scenes.
The CIA and the Senators overseeing the agency are nearly at war. And it all revolves around the contents of a secret database documenting the CIA's clandestine prisons.
The bouillabaisse is just as tasty, but Europe’s 2013 Capital of Culture now has a lot more to offer. Anna Watson Carl reports.
More than a natural wonder, Cappadocia's formations have been a safe haven to many. Nina Strochlic reports.
Tony Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet Publications, remembers the fun early days of travel guide writing, but says they're not over yet.
Miley Cyrus’ fav new haunt is Beacher’s Madhouse, the craziest club in Los Angeles.
Take the vacation of a lifetime—in beautiful North Korea? That’s Uri Tours’ pitch. Lloyd Grove reports.
In ‘Mapping Manhattan,’ explore the city via 75 New Yorkers’ personal geographies. By Allison McNearney.