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  noun 1. The act of immersing oneself in other cultures without crossing national borders. 2. Local cultural diversification. 3. Traveling on a budget. 4. A website that will allow you to accomplish all the above from the very seat in which you sit.


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Florence: Mukki Day

posted by Jamila

We saw the advertisement on the side of our milk cartons. A Mukki Fest. This weekend!

So we mapped the location.

And we found a cab, and they drove us to the perimeter of the city.

When the factory's architecture loomed over the horizon, S squealed with delight.

When we spotted the hordes of balloons, we realized we were the only attendees who did not bring children.

But we stayed.

For the free ice cream.

To see the cows.

To pet the cows.

Certainly, these were happy cows.

J: Do you even like milk?
B: Not really. This just sounded like fun.

[photos by Jamila]

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BH.net: constantly changing directions

Of course we love the web. We exist on it. It also makes a journey from
to Ghana
to Israel
to Manhattan
to Long Island (well that one was simple)
to South Korea
to New Delhi
that much easier. No compass necessary.

1. Welcome Mike Marino, conisseur of the Memphis scene.
Jukebox blues and BBQ's explode with a rockabilly backbeat on the nighttime neon of Beale Street. Riverboats glide majestically along the Memphis skyline, marking Twain as they cut a path up and down the Mississippi River past the ghosts and history of civil rights and rock n' roll. Memphis, Tennessee, named after the Egyptian City of The Dead, is a myriad of ghosts, music, southern-fried history, entertainment and cuisine. Riverboat and carriage rides, riverfront parks, festivals, Graceland and the famed Sun Studios.
Read "Memphis Blues and BBQ" >>

2. Across the Atlantic Ocean and we arrive in Africa, where Leah McKellop informs us that...
The north of Ghana is spectacularly beautiful with its whitewashed mosques and arid streets. Walking around in midday is comparable to sticking your face into the path of a giant hairdryer, but somehow wearing scarves and long robes still sounds appealing. It must be the dry weather.
Read "Dry Weather" >>

3. Parting the Red Sea, crossing over to Israel, joining Jess Gill as...
The sound of sand shuffling while the sun beat down on us was all that could be heard. Some murmurs overlapped, of people talking, but mostly, it was quiet.

We walked, foot over foot, up a crag, down into small valleys. We tripped over roots, hard rocks that had yet to disintegrate into sand. The sand was a thousand different colors, every shade between yellow and brown and gray one could imagine. The sky blazed blue, almost gray when juxtaposed against mountains of yellow.
Read "Sand" >>

4. Back across the Atlantic! Tel Aviv, direct to JFK, still with Jess Gill:
Maybe it was the balding black guy with yellow teeth screaming in my ear as I walked past, that Jesus would be coming back and what are you doing to repent?

Maybe it was the rush of fashion and comfort, with hello nipples everywhere.
Read "Hello New York" >>

5. Maybe a weekend excursion, then, to Long Island. For old-time's sake. (For Dad.) Via Corinne Conover:
He used to take us out in the hatchback in the mornings on Sundays down to the marina. He didn't have a boat back then, so he would crank up the music, pack up some salami and provolone sandwiches on a kaiser bun with a few MGD's.
Read "Ode to D.C." >>

6. Back to the East, the Far East, where school children can teach us more than we might wish, thanks to Lori C. Brown:
A nagging feeling lives in my stomach, as if a beginner tap student’s floor is my nerves and she clanks away making intolerable noises, but I feel far too bad to tell her to stop and that she is awful, because it gives her way too much joy. So she continues without feeling any empathy and you’re left with the headache.

Thinking about the craziness that will unfold once I get out of the elevator and enter the hagwon (Korean for private school), I am less than thrilled.
Read "The Foreign Teacher and Her Students" >>

7. And a little to the west, to New Delhi, where new contributor Vineetha Mokkil witnesses something all these lands have in common (some more or less often) - rainy weather:
The sky darkened
Without prologue
The rain outside
Our hotel room
Like a requiem
Read "Rain" >>

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Brazil: 1 croc, 2 crocs, 3 crocs

Advertising isn't our specialty, but we love this.

"Crocodiles gathering in the Pantanal Region, Brazil" —Lacoste

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City to city: touring by train in the lap of luxury

There are oh so many options for travel in the world. Foot. Bike. Boat. Horse. Car. Plane.

Train - seemingly undergoing a nostalgic revival, one much akin to the status of the candle (though most of us no longer need candles for light, we continue to utilize them for their aesthetic merits [and border hopping capabilities]). Trains are no longer practical transporters when compared to the speed of planes or the much more reasonable fares of buses. But there is something so romantic, so comforting about sitting in a train car and witnessing the gentle rolling of the outside landscape.

And, just as the humble "boat" has since launched thousands of over-sized, carnivalesque "cruise" vacations, so has the train, chugging along through the wilderness in antiquated luxury. The destinations are worldly and exotic, but the service and style is always the same. With no chance of seasickness and equally stunning views and ports, perhaps it is well worth putting those cruise savings towards one of these prestigious rails:

Orient-Express (orient-express.com) is actually a conglomerate of trains, hotels, restaurants, and like-travel satellites. Lines traverse England, Scotland, Peru, Southeast Asia and, our favorite, Europe. The Venice Simplon is the Orient-Express' European continental trip that may include London, Paris, Venice, Rome, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow and Istanbul, depending on which journey you choose. Fairs start around $1,000 USD for a direct ride, and extend to almost $5,000 for a 4-city tour.
Romance, excitement and pure pleasure are all bound up in journeys that link the great European cities. The adventures of celebrated historic personalities are still palpable today, held in the original 1920s carriages with their Lalique glass panels, wood burning stoves and Art Deco marquetry.
Learn more >>

Golden Charriot (thegoldencharriot.co.in) offers a teaming crawl through India, rich in history and culture. Its name alone comes from the famous Stone Chariot in the 14th century city of Hampi (though made of rock and lotus-shaped, the wheels of the chariot actually can turn). For 7 nights and 8 days, the train departs from Bangalore, visiting Srirangapatna, Mysore Palace, the Nagarhole National Park, Shravanabelagola, Belur, Halebidu, Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal, Aihole, and the Golden Beaches of Goa before returning to Bangalore. The tariffs during peak season for a single, double or triple room are, respectively, $3395, $2450 and $1995 USD.

Learn more >>

photo via gwtravel.co.uk

For Asia and Africa, The Golden Eagle (gwtravel.co.uk) reigns supreme. With journeys in Russia, Mongolia, China, Tibet, India and Egypt-Capetown, choosing can be difficult. But the Trans-Siberian tour (map above) is the most famous, traversing either east- or west-bound across Siberia in a 15-day route. In order of the westward journey, stops include Vladivostok (departing city), Khabarovsk, Mongolia, Ulan Ude, Lake Baikal, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Kazan and Moscow. Prices are dependent upon class and room size, and start at $7,995 USD for a New Heritage Class twin, reaching a whopping $22,195 for a Gold class single.

Learn more >>

photos above & below via royalcanadianpacific.com

For the North American expanse, Royal Canadian Pacific (royalcanadianpacific.com) is a cherished line by many, including Winston Churchill. Their two journeys are:

Rockies Experience
, a 6-day, 5-night chug from Calgary, Alberta to Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park and Crowsnest Pass. 2009's trip cost $8,000 CAD per person; 2010 dates and rates TBA.

Royal Fly Fishing Adventure
, a 6-day, 5-night trip highlighting Calgary, Alberta, Crowsnest, Elk Valley and Southeast Kootenays and possible catches of alpine cutthroat and rainbow, brown and bull trout. 2009's excursion rang in at $8,800 CAD; 2010 dates and rates TBA.

Learn more >>

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The South, United States: Kara Walker's bold, simple, and loaded images

Run with it, they always encourage us. See where it takes you.

Starting with a fascination for the intermingling themes of violence and sexuality in Southern culture, Kara Walker graduated from a painter, desiring to be an artist, to a sculptor of epic relevance in the art world at large. Her themes came to fruition when she utilized paper cutouts - popular decorative arts, simultaneously used as mug shots for slaves, in the 18th and 19th centuries - while studying at the Rhode Island School of Design.

“I started this work with the silhouettes with the express project to make a black woman’s art. The black woman and me, the Negress and myself. Sort of one and the same and completely separate. It’s born partly out of just the experience of my body as it’s moved through the world, and the bodies it’s come in contact with. The kind of residual racism, residual psychosis, residual misogyny of the world.” —quoted in History Girl

Yet this creator of bold and fierce imagery is, according to W contributor Julie B. Belcove, quite the opposite in manner:
On a crisp winter morning in New York’s garment district, Kara Walker is sitting alone in her studio, quietly working at her desk wearing jeans and a camisole, which accentuate her willowy limbs. When a visitor enters, she self-consciously covers up with a shirt. She is soft-spoken, contemplative and reserved. When she frets that she may be revealing too much during an interview, she gets up to steep a cup of tea in the studio’s makeshift kitchen and compose her thoughts.
History Girl

Her art, it seems, is her means of exploring and coming to terms with complicated behaviors, past, present and haunting, that rattle her psyche. A creative self-help is almost the contradiction of modern psychology, what with its closed door and private oath. If she is uncomfortable discussing too much, then, it is a recognition that this is the stuff usually kept disclosed.

And yet her stock characters are so spot-on, almost a relief in their more honest portrayal of people we are taught in watered-down and semi-glorified romance histories and novels. Inline with sparse but vocal authors who have tried to capture Southern culture with words, Walker stuns us with images, perhaps more powerful.

Life-sized and manipulated by projection and light, the caricatures take on the ability to represent shadows, as if they are evidence of their living owners performing their acts of decapitation, fornication, lust and vengeance in the very room:

And miniaturized, they are the antithesis of the other models and shadowboxes that populate our art museums. Perhaps so small as to skip by if captivated by a wall hanging yonder, they are striking and disturbing once recognized:

Burning African Village Play Set with Big House and Lynching
You can view it at the Brooklyn Museum in Contemporary Art Galleries, 4th Floor

[photos (1-4) © W Magazine, via Sikkema Jenkins & Co.; (1) by Mario Sorrenti; (3) The Battle of Atlanta: Being the Narrative of a Negress in the Flames of Desire—A Reconstruction, 1995 (detail), cut paper and adhesive on wall; (4) Cut, 1998, cut paper and adhesive on wall]
[photos (5-6)
© Whitney Museum, via the October 2007-February 2008 exhibition, Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love, view more at whitney.org/www/exhibition/kara_walker]
[photo (7)
© Brooklyn Museum via Sikkema Jenkins & Co., Burning African Village Play Set with Big House and Lynching, 2006, painted laser cut steel]

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