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In the News 04.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 04.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@paris.with.me
In the News 04.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@mylittleparisdream
In the News 04.12.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
The Coveteur

Democratising The Digital

Shortly after midnight on Friday, 28 January 2011, someone in 26 Ramses Street, a nondescript 12-storey office building in downtown Cairo, turned off Egypt’s internet. No email, web access, WhatsApp or Skype. It didn’t matter. A few hours later, Egyptians came out and made a revolution anyway.

Tahrir Square, the physical epicentre of that revolution, was many things: a performance, a myth, an arena of battle and an alternative story. But above all, it was a response to a society in which individual stakes in the status quo had become exceptionally unequal. As a result, it sought to provide an antidote to that inequality, with messy, mixed results. In Tahrir, emeritus professors rubbed shoulders with street vendors and steel workers; Salafists set up tents next to Marxist hipsters. The square cost nothing to enter, and its inhabitants policed it collectively on their own terms. It was a far cry from the Egypt beyond its borders, vast swathes of which had long been sealed off, commodified and guarded in the interests of private gain.

At its best, Tahrir was the quintessential public space, and contained echoes of the commons: the open land that once dominated much of early modern Europe, particularly in England, to which most members of the community could claim equal rights. ‘El-shari’ lina,’ protestors in Egypt chanted. ‘The streets are ours.’

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

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Holiday Windows, a
(Sort of) Love Story

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At this time of year I often peer into store windows for clues to what I should feel. Standing before a winter wonderland scene of wicker deer and frosted apples, assorted miniature wassailers in bobble hats and tartan, all set against snow-dusted spruce intertwined with fairy lights (and in the background the heroic figure of Santa, ho-ho-ho-ing a bit too strenuously in the face of untold strain), well — it can help you make believe that all is right with the world. Or right-ish.

Loiter a minute more and a familiar mixture of anxiety and longing will arise, heralding the realization that you’re a festive athlete in preparation, and over the coming weeks every ounce of your strength and moral energy is going be summoned. It could end with one of those sore throats that feels as if you have swallowed a pair of nail scissors. So, yes, you’d better watch out.

I don’t know where I stand in relation to Christmas anymore. I love it, and would do anything for it, but I can’t help feeling it wants my blood. Like a withholding father in a novel by Henry James, it may not be satisfied with my very best efforts. It doesn’t help, of course, that I still nurse idiotic beliefs about the season, including the tenet that good presents transform lives, and unless you do a specific placement for the parcels in the six stockings you fill (creating meaningful contrasts and crescendos), you have not tried.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

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Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig Flip the Script

At the foot of a sweeping staircase in a stately Bel Air mansion, Greta Gerwigleaned in to adjust Jordan Peele’s bow tie as a camera shutter snapped. Gerwig’s sparkling gown and Peele’s velvet dinner jacket were both in line with the era of classic cinema the photo shoot was meant to evoke—chalky clapboards and saddle pants and the golden age of film. That she, a 34-year-old actress turned director from Sacramento, and he, a 38-year-old bi-racial actor turned director from the Upper West Side, would have been scarce in that age—as they still are today—wasn’t lost on the pair.

“This is the greatest party we never went to,” said Gerwig between shots.

In an industry where women directors and directors of color are shockingly rare, Gerwig and Peele have broken through and made two of this year’s best-reviewed films. Neither took the traditional path of film school, yet both were hyper-prepared by early careers as self-starting actors and writers, he an uncanny impressionist on his sketch show, Key & Peele, she an indie-film chameleon in movies such as Frances Ha, Mistress America, and 20th Century Women. Deft improvisers, they were both ready when the moment struck. Now, in 2017, Gerwig and Peele have arrived with their first films as solo directors just when Hollywood and the Academy are taking a hard look at who gets the opportunities to tell his or her stories in this town, and who often gets left out.

Read the rest of this article at: Vanity Fair

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The Bouvier Affair

he Geneva Freeport, which may be the world’s most valuable storage facility, consists of seven beige warehouses and a large grain silo in La Praille, an industrial zone a short tram ride from the city’s lakeside panorama of banks and expensive hotels. One recent morning, rain was falling on the chain-link fence that runs through the property, and snow was visible on the mountains to the south. Iris scanners, magnetic locks, and a security system known as Cerberus guard the freeport’s storerooms, whose contents are said to be insured for a hundred billion dollars, but the facility retains a blue-collar feel. There were signs to the showers. Men stood around in aprons and smoked. Everything about the place tells you to look the other way.

The freeport began, in 1888, as a group of sheds near the waterfront. It was one of countless similar spaces around the world, where customs authorities allow duties and taxes to be suspended until goods reach their final destination. In time, however, the Geneva Freeport became legendary. It grew very large, and its official status—the freeport is eighty-six per cent owned by the local government—and kinship with the opaque traditions of Swiss banking made it a storage facility for the international élite. Under the freeport’s rules, objects could remain in untaxed limbo, in theory, forever. Treasures came and they did not leave. A generation ago, these goods were cars, wine, and gold. More recently, they have been works of art.

Yves Bouvier was among the first to see the potential of the freeport as an adjunct to the art market. A blond, compact man of fifty-two, Bouvier is the owner of Natural Le Coultre, a moving and storage company and the largest tenant in the complex. For more than a hundred years, the firm shipped everything from citrus fruit to industrial machinery; during the First World War, Natural Le Coultre supplied prisoners of war with Red Cross food parcels. Since 1997, however, when Bouvier took over the firm from his father, it has handled only paintings and sculpture. Bouvier refurbished the company’s premises at the freeport, which include two showrooms, and encouraged a framer to open a workshop in the building. Since 2013, Natural Le Coultre has rented more than twenty thousand square metres in storage space and has had well over a million objects in its care.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

Digital Distraction Is Bad for Creativity

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In July 2010, I travelled to Fernie, British Columbia, for a ten-day stint as a fiction instructor at a summer writing school. On the final evening, the organizers, facilitators, and participants gathered at a golf course clubhouse on the edge of town for a closing banquet. I was looking forward to this event for a lot of reasons, one of them being the prospect of socializing in a fully relaxed way now that the hard work was over for all of us, but also because the banquet would be my first ever chance to meet the eminent fiction writer, poet, and mentor Robert Kroetsch, who was to be the guest of honour.

In that spacious, high-ceilinged Fernie clubhouse we were assembled by 5 p.m. and standing around with drinks and appetizers. Sunlight spilled in through a towering picture window that looked out on Celtically green fairways and toward a sawback skyline of peaks walling in the valley a few miles to the west. I roamed around a bit, looking for Kroetsch. I asked one of the organizers if maybe he’d had to cancel and wouldn’t be here after all. “No, actually, he’s having a breather outside,” she said. “Want to go out and meet him?”

She led me out and across a wide concrete patio. Kroetsch was sitting alone on the far side, at a round table with an undeployed umbrella. He was turned away, facing a late afternoon sun that was still some distance above the serrated ridgeline. I think he might have been dozing lightly. The organizer cleared her throat and introduced me. Kroetsch gripped the cane resting beside his chair and made to get up, but both the organizer and I said, “No—please.” Kroetsch invited me to sit down beside him in the other white plastic chair. The organizer asked if he needed a refill—I think he was drinking ginger ale—but he said he was fine. He looked at my tall glass of cold beer and said, “That looks good, but I can’t drink it anymore.”

The organizer left us and for a few minutes we talked. I told him about first encountering his novels in my early twenties and how one of them, Badlands, had helped inspire a novel of my own; he told me, with a generosity and courtliness for which he remains renowned among younger writers, that he’d read and liked a couple of my books, including the one I’d just mentioned. It seemed clear that he had read them. Had he actually liked them? Who can say? It doesn’t matter. He spoke quietly, obviously tired, and not having much vocal strength, either, so I made no effort to push or pursue the conversation and in fact wondered if I should just leave him in peace. But the organizer was not bringing others out to meet him, and he seemed happy enough to have company, so I just sipped my beer and sat beside him, a couple of feet away, and we watched the sun slipping toward the increasingly well-defined silhouette of the ridge. For a while, the only sounds were of sprinklers hissing on the fairways and the occasional crack of a driven ball. Now and then, the glass door to the clubhouse would open as somebody entered or left, and a little fanfare of crowd chatter would escape. It was gradually getting louder, of course.

Read the rest of this article at: The Walrus

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