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24.7.09

Everywhere: TEQUILA


photo by kevinwhite


It's National Tequila Day.

Some ideas from Ryan Kelley, "Tequila Examiner," on examiner.com >>

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Gir: there are lions

... and there once were lions throughout the subcontinents of Asia and Europe, in present-day Turkey and Iran, in Egypt and Greece.


Alexander the Great, rumored to have speared a great lion

Where are they now? Well, obviously extinct from those regions. Lion hunting was a sport of choice amongst the wealthy and powerful, such that, as with many large animals of prey, populations already struggling due to lost habitat (lost, of course, to crops and cities) were then speared and shot into oblivion. Now Panthera leo is relegated it to Sub-Saharan Africa and a small, critically endangered population in the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park in northwestern India.

This small population, bottlenecked 100 years ago, is variant enough from its African counterpart to be distinctly labeled, Panthera leo persica. But looking at these kingly creatures, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.


The Indian lion is counter-intuitive, and not just because it inhabits a tiny remnant of verdant landscape on a generally sere, bedraggled subcontinent. Say the words "Indian lion" to an average Westerner, and that person will imagine you meant to say "Indian tiger." No no, you'll need to repeat, the lion - there's a lion, too, surviving over there. Even in India itself, Panthera leo persica is an obscure, poorly known creature, overshadowed by Panthera tigris tigris. Hindu theology still honors the lion as the steed of the goddess Durga in one of her avatars, and painted lion effigies stand guard atop many shrines. Narasimha, the lion-headed god-man, was an incarnation assumed by Vishnu in order to wreak gory justice on a demon-king. For a while the lion was considered India's national animal. But no longer. Tigers, more widely distributed in the country, more inherently Asia, and also sorely endangered (thought not so sorely as the Indian lion), now have a higher profile. Tigers are lionized.

David Quammen, Monster of God, p.37-8



If not for the inability of the Gir forest to house the number of lions born within it (estimated around 350), they might live contentedly, feeding on its healthy stock of medium-sized prey. But young adult lions seek territory apart from their mothers, and that is lacking, leading many to seek land beyond the forest's borders. Such adventurers are relatively safe if encountered by a Maldhari - a member of the highly traditional herder group. "Insofar as it's possible to make a categorical statement about the private lives of an extraordinary, little-studied group of people, here's one: Maldharis don't own guns.... Part of being a Maldhari, at least at Gir, is coping routinely with lions through the use of caution, bluff, and an occasional kuwadi-thunk on the skull," Quammen explains.

But should a lion venture into other territory, the only solution is to be crated and shipped to captivity, or shot. Returning lions to the National Forest where they cannot be sustained is simply not an option.


photo via krissnature.net


Given the rate these creatures have disappeared from the wild, it is expected that within the next 100-200 years, they simply won't be there anymore.

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21.7.09

The World: five ways to offend the locals

Written by Anil Polat, courtesy of travelblissful.com, here are the "5 Surefire Ways to Offend the Locals":

1. Neglecting To Learn Local Customs
2. Criticizing Home
3. Bringing Up Sensitive History
4. Not Going Along With It
5. Assuming It's All The Same

Read more >>

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15.7.09

North America: fly your pets




For years, airlines have offered tickets for small pets to fly in the main cabin, "under" the seat along with carry-ons. (The pet is required to fly in an airline-approved carrier and counts as one carry-on.) But many of our furry family members exceed the weight limit of about 20 pounds, and by default they have always had to fly cargo in a frightening environment only suitable for luggage.

Until now. Pet Airways is now serving from New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles. Starting at $149, your pet can experience all the following:

1. Constant monitoring by a "Trained Pet Attendant" in cabin, on ramp or in warehouse
2. Cool, fresh air "at all times"
3. Carrier provided free of charge
4. "If you’re delayed don't worry; your pet is in good hands"


Visit their website at petairways.com >>

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13.7.09

BH.net: tango with us in Argentina

Since it takes two to tango, we are bringing you two different takes on the debate: to tango, or not to tango?

1. Caitlin M. Kelly approaches the subject through physics, supplying photographic evidence to support her claim:

Tango does not interest me as a dance. I am not drawn to learn it because I live in Argentina. "Why not?" I am asked by a puzzle-faced traveler in town to eat a few steaks, go to a tango show and say they've been, seen and done in one more place.

Tango does not interest me as a dance. For me, it is not a dance at all, but the space between.
Read "Tango: The Space Between" >>


2. Stefanie Wasserman considers the cross-cultural sexual dynamics of the situation. This, ahem, is a different sort of tango:
It's 2:30 AM. I hear in the art crowd rhythmic accents that ring from all over Latin America: Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, and Brazil. In unison, they sound like a stacatto xylophone that chimes over a bass line of São Paulo toasts. "Sa-U-je! Sa-U-je!"
I drink up the chorus of sounds. The night is young.
Read "Tango" >>

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Bali: It's here. Exotic.



If eclectic and multicultural decor is your style, then we highly recommend picking up August's Architectural Digest. Pictured below: film director Rob Cohen's very green bungalows in Bali, designed by Linda Garland, Irish-born designer and environmentalist. Eco-designer Emerald Starr first introduced Cohen to the first villa on the Indian ocean; he developed the rest with the help of Garland and the goal of creating a diverse living space between buildings with the oxygenating lake below.



All of the buildings were crafted by master Sumatran builders from recycled wood, pegs and no nails.



Furniture and fabrics are all antiques or hand-crafted reproductions. The result: an earthly bliss. Who knew simplicity could be so elegant and luxurious?




Read the online article accompanying these photos on architecturaldigest.com >>


Also included in the issue: (homes:) Kenya, Panama, Croatia, Ecuador, Costa Rica; (hotels:) Morocco, Egypt, Puerto Rico

[images © Architectural Digest]

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8.7.09

BH.net: a photo explosion

Sensory overload. So many places, so many images, so much to share.

From Caitlin M. Kelly
1. Chiloe and Puerto Montt, Chile
2. Buenos Aires, Argentina
3. Uruguay





From Frank Fredericks
4. Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt
5. Delphi, Korinth and Athens, Greece
6. India
7. Jamaica
8. Lebanon
9. Syria
10. Firenze and Venezia, Italy


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7.7.09

Venice: two of us






[photos by Jamila]

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6.7.09

Spain: sounds & scents, from the Piano, Music & Song Trio

We arrived at the Rockwood Music Hall to see someone else. But when we entered the small, dimly lit room, we fell immediately in love with the current set.

A man with a trumpet-like instrument, called a flugel horn. A woman with a cello. Another woman behind a bulky grand piano. Rather than fighting for the tiny stage, they harmoniously poured out something that touched our souls, though we didn't know just what.

"Ah," the trumpeter said, finishing their last musical phrase. "If that doesn't make you want to go to the bar and get a glass of red wine, I don't know what."



Delicate. Intimate. Perfectly complemented by the wax dripping down the brick walls.

Hear for yourself. Frederic Mompou (1893-1987), Musica Callada, II:






Piano Music & Song Trio headed by Jordan McLean
Purchase the album >>
Visit Jordan McLean's website >>


Rockwood Music Hall
196 Allen Street (between Houston and Stanton)
New York, New York 10002
United States
+1.212.477.4155
rockwoodmusichall.com
Open daily from 3pm—


[photos by Jamila]

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1.7.09

BH.net: new writing, from Hawaii to Sicily

1. It may be morning at your desk once again, but perhaps you would like to spend a small part of it on Kauai's North Shore? Garrett Haake will take you....
Liquid light
appears just past five,
An hour I would groan to see back home

Like honey,
it drips slowly through the blinds
into the bedroom
Read "Morning on Kauai's North Shore" >>


2. Or, maybe something more Mediterranean will suit your taste. Luckily, Rosemary A. Gaynor has just what you need: a flowing account of charting through Sicilian towns at the speed of laughs, love & mispronounced Italian.
We think it is October 28; that's the date we put in the guest book at the Norman castle this morning. It is Saturday, though. We know this for sure, because tomorrow the cardinal comes to town, and the cardinal only comes on Sundays.

I don't actually care about the date, I'm just along for the ride. As my mother, my father, my sister, and my brother-in-law Lui rework our itinerary for the third time that day, I look out the car window. After twenty-one years of living in the States, I am back in Italy again with my parents. I don't care where we go or what we see. It is enough to be here with them.
Read "In Sicily, With My Parents: Beato Felice" >>

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Japan: "Ookii," or being big



"Japanese bath is very relaxing," he said one day. "It's important you should try..." As his voice trailed off, I nodded, assuming he meant that I should try a new cultural experience. "...to reassure your neighbors you are clean," he finished. As the only foreign English teacher in Shika, everything I did - and didn't do - was noticed.

Before I ventured into the local bath, I had pictured a spa like the ones featured in magazines, with flatteringly dim lighting and large, fluffy towels. But the lights were fluorescent, and the towel the bathhouse attendant gave me was as small as a dishcloth and thread-bare. In the crowded changing room, I stripped off my jeans and top, lingering in my bra and underwear, which suddenly seemed tent-size. I felt like I'd entered one of those nightmares where you find yourself naked in public with nothing to hide behind. Looking around to remind myself that everyone else was naked, too, I noticed that none of the Japanese women seemed to have any problem wrapping themselves in their tiny towels, while I had to dangle mine in front of me like a bib, my backside woefully exposed. I was conscious of the way my hips flared and my thighs chafed, of the weight of my breasts, which had failed the pencil test - if you can tuck one under your breast, they are saggy - in the sixth grade.


From Allure [July 09] pp 74, 79, 80, 142:
Big in Japan
While teaching in a small town, one woman became acutely self-conscious about her height - called ookii, or big, wherever she went.
By Malena Watrous

Read the article:
page 1 >>
page 2 >>
page 3 >>
page 4 >>

[image and text © Allure magazine]

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