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In the News 09.11.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

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In the News 09.11.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
n the News 09.11.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
n the News 09.11.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

Living and Dying on Airbnb

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The rope swing looked inviting. Photos of it on Airbnb brought my family to the cottage in Texas. Hanging from a tree as casually as baggy jeans, the swing was the essence of leisure, of Southern hospitality, of escape. When my father decided to give it a try on Thanksgiving morning, the trunk it was tied to broke in half and fell on his head, immediately ending most of his brain activity.

I was in bed when my mom found him. Her screams brought me down to the yard where I saw the tree snapped in two and his body on the ground. I knelt down and pulled him up by the shoulders. Blood sprayed my blue sweatshirt and a few crumpled autumn leaves. We were face-to-face, but his head hung limply, his right eye dislodged, his mouth full of blood, his tongue swirling around with each raspy breath.

Read the rest of this article at Medium

Lost at sea: the man who vanished for 14 months

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As they motored across the lagoon in the Marshall Islands, deep in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the policemen stared at the specimen laid out on the deck before them. There was no hiding the fact that this man had been at sea for a considerable time. His hair was matted upwards like a shrub. His beard curled out in wild disarray. His ankles were swollen, his wrists tiny; he could barely walk. He refused to make eye contact and often hid his face.

Salvador Alvarenga, a 36-year-old fisherman from El Salvador, had left the coast of Mexico in a small boat with a young crewmate 14 months earlier. Now he was being taken to Ebon Atoll, the southernmost tip of the Marshall Islands, and the closest town to where he had washed ashore. He was 6,700 miles from the place he had set out from. He had drifted for 438 days.

Floating across the Pacific Ocean, watching the moon’s light ebb and flow for over a year, Alvarenga had battled loneliness, depression and bouts of suicidal thinking. But surviving in a vibrant world of wild animals, vivid hallucinations and extreme solitude did little to prepare him for the fact that he was about to become an international celebrity and an object of curiosity.

Days later, Alvarenga faced the world’s press. Dressed in a baggy brown sweatshirt that disguised his reedy torso, he disembarked from a police boat slowly but unaided. Expecting a gaunt and bedridden victim, a ripple of disbelief went through the crowd. Alvarenga cracked a quick smile and waved to the cameras. Several observers noted a similarity to the Tom Hanks character in the movie Cast Away. The photo of the bearded fisherman shuffling ashore went viral. Briefly, Alvarenga became a household name.

Read the rest of this article at The Guardian

The year’s best music scenes in film

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2015 has been all about standout pop music scenes – an extra dimension that jogs the memory, infuses energy, defines a character, contextualises a scene, and always sounds better than a didactic string score. Some real talk: classical music is boring and irrelevant, unless the character is a psychopathic Beethoven nerd like in A Clockwork Orange. So, let’s run down, month by month, when you wished cinemas handed out headphones instead of 3D glasses.

Read the rest of this article at Dazed

The Case for Melancholy

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Everywhere you look these days you see something on how to be happy — how to manifest abundance, desires and success, find your bliss. A quick Google search will produce instantaneous remedies for the blues: the promise that it’s possible to find happiness in 10 or 15 easy steps. Some strategies promise happiness in as few as three steps. Whatever happened to experiencing the grace of melancholy, which requires reflection: a sort of mental steeping, like tea? What if all this cheerful advice only makes you feel inadequate? What if you were born morose? Melancholy, distinguished from grief, is not caused by events, like losing your job, the passing of beloved pets, your miscarriages or health problems. Nor does it vanish when you receive excellent news, like a big film star optioning your novel, or being invited to an all­expenses­paid trip to Venice for the Biennale. Melancholy is more … ephemeral.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

Can a Trip Ever Be ‘Authentic’?

In a globalized age — when a McAloo Tikki is just as Indian as the Taj Mahal — has the very word lost its meaning?

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I once spent an unforgettable day in the traveler’s treasure­house that is Sana’a, capital of Yemen. Stained­glass windows glittered from thickets of high tower­houses as night began to fall, and khat­chewing men with daggers at their sides haggled furiously in the Salt Market. Clay walls surrounded one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements on the planet, where groups of turbaned shopkeepers headed toward 1,400­year­old mosques as the call to prayer echoed through the dusk. It wasn’t hard to feel, amid the dusty lanes of a large section of town that’s now a Unesco World Heritage Site, that nothing had changed since the Prophet’s time; here, I decided, was the Old World, all slowness and prayer and tribal custom, in stark opposition to the fast­forward, hyperconnected, young society I know in California.

And yet the single most revealing moment I spent in Yemen came not in Old Sana’a, but in the bombed­out, headline­ridden port of Aden. The ‘‘true Yemen,’’ I realized inside a crowded Internet cafe, was the sound of ‘‘La Cucaracha’’ playing loudly as a truck driver sounded his horn outside. It was the melancholy half­Yemeni, half­British man who buttonholed me one afternoon and invited me to see the cemetery where most of his family was buried. It was the Ching Sing restaurant nearby that had been serving moo shu shrimp through nearly 40 years of warfare, and boasted a menu startlingly similar to the one I’d seen at the Chinese Cascade Restaurant (an ‘‘Authentic Chinese Restaurant’’) in southern Oman, not far away — run and frequented entirely by Indians.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times Style Magazine

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.