Category: Popular Culture

Book # 20 in 2018: “Twilight of the Belle Epoque” by Mary McAuliffe

Posted May 29th, 2018
Book # 20 in 2018: “Twilight of the Belle Epoque” by Mary McAuliffe

According to the introduction, Mary McAuliffe produced “Twilight of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Picasso,Stravinsky, Proust, Renault, Marie Curie, Gertrude Stein, and Their Friends through the Great War” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014) as a sort of conclusion to “Dawn of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their…

Hyggelig 6: A Copenhagen Miscellany

Posted May 26th, 2018
Hyggelig 6: A Copenhagen Miscellany

Note to self: if there is the chance to drop off luggage before the room has been prepared, drop off everything except for telephone, wallet, camera and guidebook. As we waved hej-hej (that’s “bye-bye”) to Lars the landlord and strolled into town, I realized that my tablet, hardcover book and the heaps of stuff one…

Book # 19 in 2018: “Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore” by Matthew Sullivan

Posted May 20th, 2018
the Bright Ideas bookstore

The Bright Ideas Bookstore is named for the former lightbulb factory in a slowly gentrifying section of Denver, Colorado, its founders have transformed into a sort of bibliophile’s fortress. It provides a quiet and contemplative environment for its patrons, rather like an old-fashioned library; comradeship in arcane interests for staff and users alike; and, literally,…

Hyggelig 5: Rick Steves Writes a Crappy Guidebook

Posted May 19th, 2018
Hyggelig 5: Rick Steves Writes a Crappy Guidebook

I don’t like Rick Steves’ television persona. I find him sanctimonious, arrogant and supercilious, veneered with faux naiveté and faked authority. I don’t like his insistence that the primary and dominant function of travel is “getting to know” the locals—whether or not they want to get to know some random tourist. I take offense at…

Hyggelig 3: From Counterculture Colors to the Black Diamond

Posted May 11th, 2018
Hyggelig 3: From Counterculture Colors to the Black Diamond

Christianshavn is a relic of 17th-century development. Thus its shape is that of a segment of a circle with the København Havn (the redundant “Merchants Harbor Port”) representing the chord and Stadsgraven Canal forming the arc.  Originally a moat protecting the ramparts of the city’s ring of fortifications, Stadsgraven marks the beginning of the southern…

Book #7 in 2018: “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff

Posted February 22nd, 2018
Book #7 in 2018: “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff

For a book that has a signal presence within the critique of the Donald Trump presidency, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff (Henry Holt and Company, 2018) is an abysmal piece of writing. I watched a few televised interviews and found the author arrogant and obnoxious, not a personality that…

Book #6 in 2018: “City of Endless Night” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Posted February 9th, 2018
Book #6 in 2018: "City of Endless Night" by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

No genetically engineered monsters, no exotic locations, no time-travel: #17 of the Pendergast series, The City of Endless Night by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Grand Central Publishing, 2018),  is a good, old-fashioned thriller. Truth be told, Doug Preston is my cousin. I adore him and I think he is a wonderful writer in any genre. I would…

Based in Batignolles 4: Love Locked Down

Posted May 19th, 2017
Based in Batignolles 4: Love Locked Down

The novelist Federico Mocci (b. 1963) published a story in 2006 called Ho Voglia di Te (“I want you”), some variation on the star-crossed lovers theme, in which a doomed pair affix a lock to the Milvian Bridge in the northern suburbs of Rome as a symbol of their eternal devotion, and toss the key…

Based in Batignolles 3: Beyond the Pale

Posted May 13th, 2017
Based in Batignolles 3: Beyond the Pale

Apparently, our neighborhood does not exist. Consult a tourist guide like Eyewitness Paris and there is an empty white space where one might expect to find Batignolles.  The teal-green blob of Montmartre floats in a void separate from the colors that identify the other quartiers of the city. There is the 8ème and not much of…

The Mouth That Would Be President: It Has Been Elected President and I Am Sick

Posted November 9th, 2016
The Mouth That Would Be President: It Has Been Elected President and I Am Sick

When I went to bed, North Carolina had already fallen and I knew the nightmare was about to descend. When I awoke, I watched the numbers on my clock flip toward 6:15 when the radio would click on with the news on WYPR. And it did. And three or four words in, I heard the…