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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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BH.net: and the rolling hills of Shelborne, Vermont


BH.net: time out for some fashion & art (& beads)...

...thanks to new words and authors.

1. fashion district by Andrew English:
Born in 1984, he could have been my brother -
burlap hair braided smog blonde
swept just above blue, atmospheric eyes.

One divorce and a busted street race
left him with a backpack and bionic legs,
getting his daily treatment from tourists.
Read "fashion district" >>

2. Throw Me Somethin' Mister: Fictions and Fragments from Mardi Gras by Robert Klein Engler:
I have a sip of bourbon and try to be encouraging. The liquor bites, but the ice cools the sting. Eventually, our conversation lags and we each say goodnight. As he walks back to his coach seat, I follow Tom with my eyes until the doors between the cars hiss shut. Now, the whistle blows when we pass a crossing. I remember Peggy Lee singing the Johnny Mercer song, "Blues in the Night." You can almost hear the whistle of the train in that music. "My mamma done tol' me, when I was in pigtails, a man is a two-face. Whoo-ee, ol' clickety clack's a-echoin' back the blues in the night." Alone, I jingle the remaining ice in my glass and I look out the window to see the glow of a farm house front porch light caught in the fingers of a bony tree. Then, far off lights of a small town glide past cushioned by an immense darkness. The train follows the highway and for a moment the twin headlights of a single car trace the night with us. Suddenly, they veer off around a curve, leaving only red tail lights bleeding into ink.
Read "Throw Me Somethin' Mister" >>

3. "Agonized Poetry": Frida Kahlo and Catharsis by Jen Westmoreland Bouchard:
In response to "Miscarriage in Detroit," her husband, the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, commented that this was one in a series of "masterpieces which had exalted the feminine quality of truth, reality, cruelty and suffering. Never before had a woman put such agonized poetry on canvas as Frida did at this time in Detroit."
Read "Agonized Poetry" >>

4. Cheap & Chic: A Search for the Perfect Parisian Boots & Bag by Jessica Martinez:
On a recent trip to Paris I was determined to get two things: the perfect pair of boots and a perfect leather bag. Being the fashion capital of the world (as a New Yorker this is something I must regretfully accept), one would think that this would be an easy task. With so many stores lining around my rented apartment, limitless choices laid upon my feet.
Read "Cheap & Cheac: A Search for the Perfect Parisian Boots & Bag" >>

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Mali: a sketchy blog

[UPDATE: since this posting, the Times Online has restricted their website to subscription-only. To view the links below, you will have to pay to subscribe. Enjoy the words and images on our blog; sign up to view George Butler's and other travel blogs at thetimes.co.uk.]

We love our blog. But we can admit when someone has an idea we wish we thought of.

Presenting: George Butler's Sketch Travel Blog, part of Times Online (UK) and the Times' Travel Blog network.

The consumer and even nonconsumer travel world is often so full of crisp, clean photographs. Photography transports us in ways that our minds and sometimes words (and our schedules, and budgets) cannot. It is an art form as any other. But the art of illustration always heightens the imagination; it also tests the memory. Sketching forces the brain and the hand to do a lot of the work that a camera will do, and so makes us question the nature of reality, of the senses. George Butler even comments on this very subject in one of his recent posts, entitled "The Kindness of Strangers, Mali":

Sometimes you think you have done a good drawing, but when you look at it again it is not at all like the place you remember.

In this case I was pretty unsatisfied with the drawing, but looking at it now, it is exactly how I saw this messy, rustic sofa making scene. All that was missing is the leopard print.

His drawings are simple in that they are not complete in all the detail of the real location. But they are complex in their focus. Take "Street food in Bamako":

And they are highly skilled. Even abstract. "Making Tuareg tea":

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Beijing: The Opposite House

Architecture and interior design by Kengo Kuma.

The Opposite House
100027 China Beijing
Building 1 No 11 Sanlitun Road
(86) 010-64176688

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London: a play called Enron

“I did think, I’m an Englishwoman in her 20s; what am I doing writing about American CEOs? And in Texas, at that, which is like America to the power of 10," confesses Lucy Prebble, a 29-year-old British playwright. Enron is a tragicomedy that has been sold out at London's Royal Court Theatre since its September opening.

"Directed by Rupert Goold, it uses dramatic devices to illuminate Enron's shady practices: A trading floor is a frenzy of modern dance, and analysts sing Enron's praises in the style of a barbershop trio," describes W writer Nina Jones.

As if a play wasn't enough, Columbia Pictures recently acquired rights to the story. Prebble is at work on the screenplay version.

"It was like having a mistress, whereas now it's like my wife, you know?" she tells Jones with a "wry smile."

Royal Court Theatre
Sloane Square, London, SW1W 8AS
United Kingdom

[images © Manuel Harlan, The Guardian]

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Bosnia & Herzegovina: Kate Spade pays war-torn women to knit

"I remember hearing the bombs when I was living in Ancona [Italy, across the Adriatic Sea from Sarajevo], working for Byblos," Deborah Lloyd, creative director of Kate Spade, tells Anne Slowey for Elle. "So there was a connection to Bosnia for me, but I didn't realize how horrible the atrocities were. Sarajevo feels like an Italian provincial town, until you see the bullet-shelled buildings and listen to what happened to these women."

Many of those women lost sons, husbands, all of their financial resources and were taken to rape camps. Zainab Salbi founded Women for Women International (WfWI) in 1993 to help female victims of war with education, counseling, training and microcredit loans. Kate Spade has teamed up with WfWI to create job programs in both Bosnia and Herzegovina. Women who create mittens, hats, scarves and even dog apparel for the winter season earn $7-15 per piece—twice the average wage in the region.

"I've always felt successful fashion companies need to find ways to give back the customer," says Kate Spade COO Craig Leavitt. "But it's so rare to make an appropriate business decision that is proactive and can have an impact and change in the world."

About 300 women in the program are now employed by Kate Spade. They are not solely on the receiving end of the bargain, however. "These women are so good at the kind of playful wit we cherish at Kate Spade," explains Lloyd, nodding at the sunny colors and patterns the women create. Turquoise, lime green, bright purple—creations that will brighten anyone's hands, ears, necks and days. And furthermore, Lloyd works directly with the women, learning their stories and even their craft. She recalls, "It was surreal being in the river with these women, but seeing the beauty of their craftsmanship at a time when production is factory-oriented was so moving. You can't believe where these Kate Spade mittens are made!"

photos clockwise from top left: traditional crochet; the mouth of the Sarajevo Tunnel that connected the city of Sarajevo with the neutral territory of Sarajevo airport; Lloyd in a bombed-out assisted-living facility; a Serbian healer meditating on a former sniper's perch

[images © Alexandra Avakian/Contact Press Images & Kate Spade]
[images & quotes via Elle.com]

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