News 04.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 04.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 04.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 04.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Oliver Sacks: The
Healing Power of Gardens

As a writer, I find gardens essential to the creative process; as a physician, I take my patients to gardens whenever possible. All of us have had the experience of wandering through a lush garden or a timeless desert, walking by a river or an ocean, or climbing a mountain and finding ourselves simultaneously calmed and reinvigorated, engaged in mind, refreshed in body and spirit. The importance of these physiological states on individual and community health is fundamental and wide-ranging. In 40 years of medical practice, I have found only two types of non-pharmaceutical “therapy” to be vitally important for patients with chronic neurological diseases: music and gardens.

The wonder of gardens was introduced to me very early, before the war, when my mother or Auntie Len would take me to the great botanical garden at Kew. We had common ferns in our garden, but not the gold and silver ferns, the water ferns, the filmy ferns, the tree ferns I first saw at Kew. It was at Kew that I saw the gigantic leaf of the great Amazon water lily, Victoria regia, and like many children of my era, I was sat upon one of these giant lily pads as a baby.

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

News 04.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Tom Ford, Fragrant Vegan Vampire

News 04.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

HOLLYWOOD — Tom Ford has come early to rearrange the furniture.

He thinks that the already stylish room in the hottest new private club in town, the San Vicente Bungalows, could be even more captivating. So a team of eight club staffers gets busy under his direction, pulling a potted plant from the terrace for one corner and setting up two dozen glowing amber votive candles.

Mr. Ford himself redoes the white flowers, plucking out the roses and leaving in the ranunculus, because he doesn’t like mixed blooms.

The Murphy bed he can do nothing about.

As I enter, the designer is lost in thought, still fantasizing about redoing the room in his own preferred palette, draping chocolate brown velvet on the walls.

Everything in life can always be more sensual and beautiful, if you think about it. And Mr. Ford is always thinking about it.

From the time he was big enough to push furniture, at 6 years old, he was rearranging it in his house, sometimes swapping his for his sister’s. And giving his mother critiques on her hair and shoes.

And that’s why being Tom Ford is awful, in a way.

He always sees what’s wrong. And you can’t help but feel bad for him because you know his flawless flaw detector is always on.

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

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Rehanging Rembrandt

In 2016 a new Rembrandt was revealed. It was a half-length portrait that shows an unnamed 30-something man against a plain, buff background. He wears a black hat and white ruff and stares out of the canvas with those characteristic frank and interrogative eyes. It seemed a typical early-period Rembrandt, a product of the stage of his career when he worked in detail before his brushwork broadened into something much more expressive.

This portrait of a burgher looked typical because that is exactly what it was. It was not, in fact, a painting at all but an extremely sophisticated digital print, the result of an 18-month collaboration between advertisers, data scientists, engineers and art historians from the likes of Microsoft, the Delft University of Technology, the Mauritshuis museum in the Hague and the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam.

The idea started as an advertising wheeze by the J Walter Thompson agency for the ING bank. When analysis of Rembrandt’s portraits revealed that his most frequent subject was a 30-something man in a black hat, etc, that was what the team set out to re-create.

Read the rest of this article at: NewStatesman

News 04.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Airbnb Invasion of Barcelona

News 04.22.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In 1904, the city of Barcelona received a petition for development from Eusebi Güell, an industrialist and a patron of the arts. Güell had bought a tract of land on the flank of Muntanya Pelada, or Bald Mountain, which rises above the plain that extends to the city’s port. Güell had ambitious plans for his hillside property: it was to be designed by Antoni Gaudí, the celebrated architect, with sixty houses set on the bosky grounds. Güell’s business model, which required prospective residents to invest in the project before their houses were constructed, was flawed, and only two were ever built. But the grounds were completed. Serpentine paths twisted up the hillside, and at the center of a spectacular bifurcated staircase there was a fountain in the form of a lizard, its skin composed of mosaic shards in blues and yellows.

The development was sold to the city in 1922, four years after Güell’s death, and became a beloved public park, with the lizard as its icon. In time, Park Güell proved too beloved for its own good, and by 2013 nine million visitors were traipsing through it annually. “The Park has almost stopped being used as a park,” a municipal report noted at the time. It had become, instead, a “tourist place.” That year, in an effort to mitigate the damage and crowding caused by so much foot traffic, the city introduced a fee to access the park’s “monumental core,” which includes Gaudí’s staircase, and also limited the number of tickets sold to eight hundred an hour.

From the local government’s perspective, the change was a success: the year after the restrictions were introduced, the number of visitors fell to 2.3 million. Still, the flow remains constant. When I arrived at Park Güell at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in February—hardly peak season—I couldn’t get in for another two and a half hours. When I finally entered the monumental core, at a cost of ten euros, it was as bustling as Coney Island’s boardwalk on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and Instagramming admirers formed a mob around Gaudí’s lizard.

Park Güell’s shift from a shared public space into a cultural zone occupied almost exclusively by tourists is understood by some worried residents of Barcelona as a story about the prospective fate of the city itself. Albert Arias, a geographer with the local government, told me that he had publicly criticized the selling of tickets as “a very bad solution,” adding, “It is acknowledging a problem by fencing off public space.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

The Longest Wars

Richard Holbrooke was six feet one but seemed bigger. He had long skinny limbs and a barrel chest and broad square shoulder bones, on top of which sat his strangely small head and, encased within it, the sleepless brain. His feet were so far from his trunk that, as his body wore down and the blood stopped circulating properly, they swelled up and became marbled red and white like steak. He had special shoes made and carried extra socks in his leather attaché case, sweating through half a dozen pairs a day, stripping them off on long flights and draping them over his seat pocket in first class, or else cramming used socks next to the classified documents in his briefcase. He wrote his book about ending the war in Bosnia—the place in history that he always craved, though it was never enough—with his feet planted in a Brookstone shiatsu foot massager. One morning he showed up late for a meeting in the secretary of state’s suite at the Waldorf Astoria in his stocking feet, shirt untucked and fly half zipped, padding around the room and picking grapes off a fruit basket, while Madeleine Albright’s furious stare tracked his every move. During a videoconference call from the U.S. mission to the United Nations, in New York, his feet were propped up on a chair, while down in the White House Situation Room their giant distortion completely filled the wall screen and so disrupted the meeting that President Bill Clinton’s national security adviser finally ordered a military aide to turn off the video feed. Holbrooke put his feet up anywhere, in the White House, on other people’s desks and coffee tables—for relief, and for advantage.

Near the end, it seemed as if all his troubles were collecting in his feet—atrial fibrillation, marital tension, thwarted ambition, conspiring colleagues, hundreds of thousands of air miles, corrupt foreign leaders, a war that would not yield to the relentless force of his will.

But at the other extreme from his feet, the ice-blue eyes were on perpetual alert. Their light told you that his intelligence was always awake and working. They captured nearly everything and gave almost nothing away. Like one-way mirrors, they looked outward, not inward. No one was quicker to size up a room, an adversary, a newspaper article, a set of variables in a complex situation—even his own imminent death. The ceaseless appraising told of a manic spirit churning somewhere within the low voice and languid limbs. Once, in the 1980s, he was walking down Madison Avenue when an acquaintance passed him and called out, “Hi, Dick.” Holbrooke watched the man go by, then turned to his companion: “I wonder what he meant by that.” Yes, his curly hair never obeyed the comb, and his suit always looked rumpled, and he couldn’t stay off the phone or TV, and he kept losing things, and he ate as much food as fast as he could, once slicing open the tip of his nose on a clamshell and bleeding through a pair of cloth napkins—yes, he was in almost every way a disorderly presence. But his eyes never lost focus.

So much thought, so little inwardness. He could not be alone—he might have had to think about himself. Maybe that was something he couldn’t afford to do. Leslie Gelb, Holbrooke’s friend of 45 years and recipient of multiple daily phone calls, would butt into a monologue and ask, “What’s Obama like?” Holbrooke would give a brilliant analysis of the president. “How do you think you affect Obama?” Holbrooke had nothing to say. Where did it come from, that blind spot behind his eyes that masked his inner life? It was a great advantage over the rest of us, because the propulsion from idea to action was never broken by self-scrutiny. It was also a great vulnerability, and finally, it was fatal.

Read the rest of this article at: Foreign Affairs

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