By John Parisella - Sunday, September 12, 2010 - 0 Comments
Nine years later, the pain and sadness are still in the air. Stopping by…
Nine years later, the pain and sadness are still in the air. Stopping by Zucotti Park to commemorate the tragedy and listen to the names of the victims being recalled out loud, each with a story, it’s enough to make your heart break. Dignitaries, strangers, heroes of 9/11, and the affected families quietly listen to the litany of names and ponder how this great city lost its innocence, how it suddenly came to feel vulnerable as never before, yet not defeated or broken.
A city and a country that once firmly believed in the values and principles that made them great and the envy of so many has in recent times fallen prey to fear and anxiety. The thwarted attack of the Times Square bomber, the controversy on Park street about the Islamic community center that’s come to be known as the Ground Zero Mosque, and the media hysteria over a lunatic fringe pastor promising to burn copies of the Quran have only revived the pain felt on 9/11.
By Jaime J. Weinman - Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 8:33 AM - 0 Comments
He was good at limiting the ‘general anti-Muslim hate’
There are billboards in the U.S. with George W. Bush’s face and the slogan “Miss me yet?” The people answering “yes” are, unexpectedly, liberals. Since conservative activists have been campaigning against the construction of an Islamic cultural centre and mosque near Ground Zero in New York—egged on by many key Republicans—left-leaning commentators are nostalgically recalling Bush’s more enlightened attitude toward Islam. “For once,” wrote Kevin Drum at Mother Jones, “I really do miss George W. Bush.”
After 9/11, Bush combined his red-meat rhetoric (not to mention the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq) with more conciliatory speeches. He visited an Islamic Centre in Washington, assured U.S. Muslims that “the face of terror is not the true faith of Islam,” and said that Muslim women who cover their heads “must not be intimidated in America.” When he was criticized for calling the War on Terror a “crusade,” he stopped using the term. Imam Faisal Rauf (who is now in charge of the planned mosque) was chosen by the Bush administration as a goodwill ambassador to the Middle East.
By John Parisella - Monday, August 23, 2010 at 12:38 PM - 0 Comments
A modest proposal to end the debate
Wanting to grasp a firsthand understanding of the debate surrounding the Park51 Muslim community centre (a much more accurate term than a mosque), I visited the site and was greeted by two young pro-mosque demonstrators arguing in favour of religious tolerance and First Amendment rights. They were articulate, passionate, and answered all my questions. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a leading supporter of the project, would have been proud. Gradually, opponents began to show and peacefully voiced their displeasure with the project. Meanwhile, some of the faithful were praying inside the existing building.
I then made the two-block walk from the Park51 site to Ground Zero. Let me point out that, from the site itself, there is no direct view of Ground Zero. Even once constructed, there would be no direct view of Ground Zero, even from the roof. When you walk to the closest intersection, heading west to Barclay street, you arrive at a corner where you can see construction cranes at Ground Zero. It is at this point that you grasp the proximity of the proposed project and you can better comprehend the opposition to the project. But you can also readily understand the dilemma facing not only New York City, but all of America. The issue is no longer local and it may even have global ramifications, as people everywhere have come to be interested in how the battle plays out.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
Plus, what the White House doctor saw, a famous heat wave, a memoir from Johnny Cash’s daughter, a world without Islam and the most beautiful woman in film
WILLIAM AND HARRY
In his 1867 book The English Constitution, Walter Bagehot wrote: “A family on the throne is an interesting idea also. It brings down the pride of sovereignty to the level of petty life.” A century later, the world witnessed the perfect illustration of Bagehot’s musing: the divorce of Charles and Diana. According to Mail on Sunday gossip columnist Katie Nicholl, Queen Elizabeth II blamed her daughter-in-law for destroying “the mystery that shrouded the royal family.” The “people’s princess” certainly did change the palace game, not least in her determination that her two sons would lead lives as ordinary as possible, a wish the boys have often echoed, as Nicholl shows in her new biography. Whether as tots bashing their toy trucks through royal corridors or young soldiers desperate for a tour in Afghanistan, Nicholl reveals the “heir and spare” to be, in many ways, normal boys. She tapped a legion of friends, teachers and palace aides, many unnamed, to unearth such nuggets as 18-year-old Wills’s campfire confession during his “gap year” in South America that he was “not much interested . . . at all” in becoming king, and the hilarious voicemail greeting Harry recorded on his grandmother’s phone: “Hey, wassup? This is Liz. Sorry I’m away from the throne.”
By Joanne Latimer - Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 2:40 PM - 0 Comments
A little-known Montreal gallery lands the work of the artist known for biting aphorisms
Long before Twitter, there was Jenny Holzer, the soothsayer and conceptual artist who plastered New York with biting aphorisms in the late 1970s. Money creates taste. Lack of charisma may be fatal. Much was decided before you were born. These are just three of her 250-odd “truisms”—deadpan zingers displayed on LED screens around the world, projected onto buildings and carved into marble benches.
Holzer was the first woman chosen to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale (1990), where she won a prize for the best pavilion installation. Since then, her star has continued to rise. Starting this summer, Canada is lucky enough to host a comprehensive retrospective of her work and, curiously, it will be held in a little-known exhibition space in Old Montreal.
By Julia Belluz - Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at 4:05 PM - 0 Comments
Adventurous foodies travel to the far corners of the culinary universe without leaving New York
On a cold Tuesday evening in December, a group of New York “Gastronauts” headed out to Flushing to sample the delights of Northern China. At A Fan Ti, a tiny hole-in-the-wall, they feasted on a massive pile of lamb’s eyeballs in brown sauce, spicy shredded lamb stomach, lamb brain, and grilled kidneys, among other traditional fare.
“It was bizarre to see an entire plate of eyeballs,” says Benjamin Pauker, co-founder of the Gastronauts club for adventurous eaters. “You have a gelatinous white area, and the harder pupil, plus the entire ocular nerve behind the eyeball. So when you slice through it, it looks like an onion.” He likens the flavour—fatty, melt-in-your-mouth—to bone marrow. “But I’m connecting one weird food to another,” he laughs.
Pauker would do that. In under five years since he started the club, he’s ingested live octopus, chicken feet and braised goose feet, pig knuckle, tripe soup, myriad bugs, smoked pork tongue, pig stomach, as well as fried frog. He’s seen his club expand from four to over 450 members, and now there are offshoots of the original popping up in Berlin, London, Paris, and other parts of the U.S.
Of his criteria for picking eateries, Pauker says, “We’re not going to cross lines of legality, like cannibalism or eating cats and dogs, but everything else is fair game.” Indeed, most dinners rival Trimalchio’s lavish banquets. Gastronauts usually eat off-menu, and order “the weird items in small print at the bottom of the menu that folks eat everyday in Manila, Lagos, Bangkok, or Lima.”
While some may think this kind of dining is extreme or fetishistic, Shyon Baumann, co-author of the new book, Foodies: Democracy and Distinction in the Gourmet Foodscape, argues that exploratory eating represents the democratization of food culture. “Within the last 50 to 60 years, eating clubs have gone from focusing on elite, French cuisine to focusing on good food from every tradition.” The clubs of today are more inclusive, less Eurocentric.
But the Gastronauts are “kind of on the edge,” he adds, bestowing them with the highest foodie honour: “People who push the envelope most when it comes to eating are seen to have the most credibility,” he explained. “The fewest number of people can gain mastery or knowledge of food at that level.”
For the Canadian food writer and culinary anthropologist Naomi Duguid, the most important part of venturing into the food of another place is shifting one’s cultural lens. “It’s not about exoticizing or seeing food as product or performance, but it’s about trying to appreciate the culture it’s part of.”
Pauker says members are encouraged to try everything, and most are willing to open their palates to exotic fare, even cod sperm. Of the Japanese specialty, he admits the hardest part of eating it was overcoming the cognitive obstacle that “I was ingesting an enormous amount of sperm.” He reasons, “This is just how people eat in other cultures.”
For Gastronaut co-founder Curtiss Calleo, a recent highlight was his second foray into dancing shrimp. “You get the shrimp drunk and numb them to the point when they go comatose, and then you eat them.” Isn’t that a bit excessive? No, he says. He sees their food adventures as part of the wider “Nose to Tail” movement. Coined by the British chef Fergus Henderson, eating this way involves using the entire animal from nose to tail—or from sperm to eyeballs.
“We hear that a bit of what we’re doing is excessive,” says Calleo, “but we would counter that by saying the rest of the world eats this stuff. So it’s not extreme to eat a goat’s eyeball if it’s what people eat in Northern China. And it’s more ethical to eat the entire animal, rather than grow a chicken, chop off the breasts, and throw out the rest. I would argue that our Western palate is what’s excessive.”
By Adnan R. Khan - Monday, May 17, 2010 at 3:05 PM - 10 Comments
A Pakistani extremist on Faisal Shahzad’s desire for fame
One week following the attempted bombing of New York’s Times Square, a Maclean’s investigation has learned that the man allegedly behind the latest plot to attack the U.S. had been searching for a militant group in Pakistan to back him for years. Faisal Shahzad, the 30-year-old Connecticut resident, was captured by U.S. authorities while on a flight about to depart for Dubai, after leaving a crude but powerful bomb in an SUV in the heart of Manhattan’s iconic tourist district. But he had visited Pakistan in mid-June 2006 to receive training at a camp belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba in Kashmir, according to one of its senior commanders.
The LeT, a banned militant outfit set up in the late 1980s with the help of Pakistan’s largest spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, was blamed for a vicious attack on Mumbai in November 2008 in which more than 160 Indians were killed and scores more injured. According to the commander at the LeT’s main base of operations in Dulai, a village 25 km south of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, Shahzad was brought to the LeT camp by another member of the organization. “He was an eager recruit,” he recalls. “Very intelligent but also very intense, and driven to make his mark for the sake of Islam.”
By by Michael Petrou and Nicholas Köhler - Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 8:20 AM - 20 Comments
Nine years after 9/11, America is suffering continual attacks on its home soil
New Yorkers were saved from possible carnage when a car bomb failed to explode in Times Square earlier this month. That was due, in part, to a familiar mix of factors that have minimized casualties from terrorism on American soil since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001: luck, vigilance, and the bumbling incompetence of those who plotted the attempted assaults.
Minutes after a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder packed with propane canisters, fertilizer, gasoline, gunpowder and firecrackers was parked on the square, two street vendors noticed smoke wafting from the car and alerted nearby police. They closed surrounding streets to foot and vehicle traffic and evacuated nearby buildings.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 28, 2009 at 8:37 PM - 38 Comments
The Scene. You’ll forgive the Prime Minister if he’s a bit shy, if he’s just not that interested in the traditional trappings of leading your very own G8 nation.
So it was last week, with the best and worst of the international community gathering in New York, that Stephen Harper could stomach but one highfalutin dinner before jetting back home for a Tim Hortons run. And so it was today, with the business of Parliament resuming beneath the stained glass and chandeliers of the House of Commons, that Mr. Harper jetted off to furthest New Brunswick, where, as luck would have it, a lectern had been set up in front of an idle locomotive and a representative sample of Canadian blue collars.
There the Prime Minister found a crowd eager to hear him explain how well he was handling this economic unpleasantness and applaud his assurances thereof. Now, sure, here you may argue that the Prime Minister needn’t go to New Brunswick to find individuals willing to applaud his pronouncements on cue. Indeed, you might point out, the Canadian public pays something in the order of $157,000 to each of 142 individuals whose job it is to stand every so often in the House of Commons and do exactly that.
But then you would be ignoring the fact that those 142 individuals do not constitute even a majority of members of that august chamber. And the rest constitute an unruly collection of scoundrels and skeptics, many on the record as not entirely believing in the Prime Minister’s propensity for fulsomeness.
“The government reports to the people of Canada,” the Prime Minister’s press secretary observed over the weekend. And let it never again be said that the individuals who constitute this place in any way represent such Canadians. Continue…
By Elio Iannacci - Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
There’s a new CD/DVD and a biography, but first Rufus Wainwright has to make amends
On the phone from his home in New York, pop star Rufus Wainwright is at a loss for words. The 36-year-old Juno-award-winning singer-songwriter—who has six albums to his name—usually has something clever to say about any subject, but asked about his next trip to Toronto, all Wainwright can manage is a nervous cackle. There is, of course, a reason for this. A little over a year ago the British newspaper the Guardian published a story that quoted Wainwright saying this of Canada’s largest city: “I wish I didn’t have to go back there. It’s trying to be the New York of the Midwest.” After the story hit the Internet, it was announced that Wainwright’s first opera, Prima Donna, would make its North American debut at Toronto’s Luminato arts festival in June 2010.
The “Rufus hates Toronto” story flooded the blogosphere once more, setting off a slew of hate comments directed toward the singer. Even though this isn’t the ﬁrst time that Wainwright—who is openly gay and highly opinionated—has made news with his views, he refuses to be precious about it. “I’m not going to backpedal. I’ve had bad experiences [in Toronto] but I’m in debt to the city now,” he says. “It was the first place in North America to take a chance and embrace Prima Donna, so when I get there [for the debut], I am going to kiss and make love to it again.”
Oddly enough, the story behind Prima Donna is all about reigniting old flames: an aging opera singer plots a comeback and then falls for a newspaper writer who is reporting on her return to the stage. The reviews have been as contrary as Wainwright’s own brand of humour: the Independent panned the performance, calling it “at best banal, at worst boring”; the New York Times, though calling it “muddled,” also said it was ﬁlled with “music of enticing ambiguity.” Regardless of the critical reaction, the two-act production is an impressive feat for any musician. Rife with art-imitating-life/diva-imitating-pop-star moments, the opera’s many scenes, says Wainwright, are plucked from his very own backyard.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 1:23 PM - 23 Comments
PETA announces its intention to barge in on the Prime Minister’s speech this evening.
MEDIA ALERT – MEDIA ALERT – MEDIA ALERT
CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER’S NEW YORK VISIT TO BE MARRED BY PETA PROTEST
‘Bloody Seal’ to Barge Into Hotel as Stephen Harper Addresses Business Leaders
What: As Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with Canadian and American business leaders at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York today, a PETA member dressed as a bloody seal will barge into the hotel to urge him to heed the call of world leaders—including President Obama and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin—to end Canada’s gruesome and cruel seal slaughter. PETA members will hold signs that read, “Harper: Stop the Seal Slaughter.” PETA’s campaign against the massacre will continue through the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
The protest comes just one day after PETA members targeting Harper in Washington, D.C., dressed as bloody seals and stopped traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Canadian Embassy. Just hours after the Washington protest, three PETA members dressed as nuns disrupted Canadian Parliament in Ottawa with their “save the seals” message…
By Kate Lunau - Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 4:45 PM - 6 Comments
Canada’s finest culinary creation is winning over the Big Apple one greasy fry at a time
As anyone who’s ever put fork to fry knows, poutine is a deliciously unholy mess—not exactly the kind of food you’d expect beautiful people to hawk. But that’s just what Quebec-born model Thierry Pepin plans to do. This Saturday, he’ll throw open the doors at TPoutine, a New York City restaurant devoted to the Quebec comfort food. “When I moved here, I couldn’t believe people didn’t know about it,” says Pepin, who’s modelled for Armani and Ralph Lauren. “It’s so popular in Canada, there’s no reason it can’t make it here, too.”
Poutine’s been threatening to take New York by storm since at least 2007, when the Times called it the next big thing. Back then, the posh Inn LW12, in the Meatpacking District, was offering an upscale version with spiced pork belly. But the Inn has since closed; today, just a few of the city’s restaurants offer poutine. Sheep Station, an Australian pub in Brooklyn, has it on the menu, for example, but that may be no surprise, since chef and owner Martine Lafond is from Quebec. It’s still a niche product, Lafond says, but those who like it, like it a lot: whenever a customer orders it, “the plate is licked clean.” Continue…
By Andrew Potter - Monday, July 20, 2009 at 2:49 PM - 1 Comment
NYT foodie-turned social critic Frank Bruni had a fun piece on Sunday about the…
NYT foodie-turned social critic Frank Bruni had a fun piece on Sunday about the way increasingly sophisticated mass taste is being directed at increasingly low-brow gastronomy. The nadir (zenith?) is the recent comparison of Timbits vs Dunkin’ Munchkins. When rarified taste meets economic downturn, what happens? The only solution is “to apply one’s powers of discernment to doughnuts. To mull the nuances of burritos and cupcakes. To assess rival burgers as if they were rival brasseries on the Left Bank.”
This is not exactly new. One of the funner aspects of the NYC food scene is the rapid but totally preposterous turnover in cool foods. One week it is all about meatballs, then suddenly everyone is into lobster rolls. Lobster rolls? That’s so yesterday, surely you want ramen noodles. Then it’s mini-burgers, then tapas, then cupcakes… on it goes, in a perfect collision of conspicuous consumption and Adam Smith’s observation that the division of labour is determined by the size of the market.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 20, 2009 at 11:54 AM - 2 Comments
Back now from a week in New York, arriving there just in time to see Tim Hortons take up residence in the urban, cosmopolitan mecca of North America. Sad to see a Canadian political analogy so swiftly undermined, but such is the cost of progress.
By John Parisella - Friday, December 19, 2008 at 4:00 PM - 10 Comments
Baby boomers will fondly recall the photos of Caroline Kennedy with her father, and…
Baby boomers will fondly recall the photos of Caroline Kennedy with her father, and who can forget the heart-wrenching photo of her taken the day of JFK’s funeral? Kennedy is now thrust in the public eye for reasons unassociated with nostalgia or sweetness: she wants to become the next senator of New York. For the first time in her life, she is at the centre of a controversy, with questions swirling over her qualifications to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat. Welcome to the world of politics.
At first glance, the detractors have a point. She may have a magic name, but her credentials appear to be rather thin when compared with some less-famous pretenders. Her appearances in the media in recent days have done little to dissipate the doubts or the opposition. Her latest claim to fame has much to do with her pivotal support of Barack Obama’s candidacy. Of course, this did nothing to endear her to Clinton Democrats. My guess is that Governor David Patterson will select Caroline anyway.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 4:18 PM - 12 Comments
In Toronto for the weekend and picked up the current issue of Now magazine. It is very—and very explicitly—in favour of the coalition. (Eye is pro-coalition too, if less rabidly. They also provide this helpful line graph.)
None of this is terribly surprising.
One interesting sentence, though, from Now’s Memo to Michael Ignatieff: “The real message about a different kind of politics in the Canuck context is coalition.”
This coalition’s inherent problems are obvious and have been expounded upon at length. There are real problems here that cannot be entirely diminished. But, in the coalition’s mild defense, you could say it is something different. And, in fairness, you could point that just about everyone has pleading for some time for just that—something different.
By Andrew Potter - Saturday, November 15, 2008 at 3:46 PM - 0 Comments
I heart New York. It even says so on the coffee cup I use…
I heart New York. It even says so on the coffee cup I use every morning. There’s a good chance you heart NY as well, and you might even have a T-shirt proclaiming that to the world. New York is the greatest city in the world, and for thirty years they’ve had the logo to prove it.
This is one of the most famous and successful place-branding campaigns of all times. It is a simple, direct, and fun delivery of New York’s essential promise — that it is a place to love, and maybe to fall in love. It took on new, more urgent meaning after 9/11, and the I heart NY slogan gave the city and world an easy shorthand for explaining how they felt about the place after the attcks.
But the logo is not the property of the city, it’s the property of the state, and about a year ago the tourism bureau decided the logo needed refreshing, to show the world that NY was not just a city but a state with camp grounds and ski resorts and wildlife. Why they’d want to risk having tourists confuse New York with Canada is beyond me, but they gave Saatchi and Saatchi $17 million, and here’s what they came up with:
Squirrels, and snow.
Set aside the fact that Saatchi and Saatchi have ripped them off. This logo would be a bad idea at any price. The genius of this logo is its blank simplicity: You can love New York in all of its manifestations and permutations.
Yes, the logo is much imitated and parodied, but all the more reason not to frig with it. The original is the authentic, and nothing else is or can be.
By Jeff Harris - Monday, September 15, 2008 at 12:18 PM - 0 Comments
Brad Pitt was the paparazzi money shot at the Toronto International Film Festival for…
Brad Pitt was the paparazzi money shot at the Toronto International Film Festival for the third year in a row. Who noticed that his movie Burn After Reading was entirely skippable? The real stars of the festival were Ben Kingsley and Rose McGowan from the powerful Fifty Dead Men Walking, and Freida Pinto from the stunning Slumdog Millionaire.
By Andrew Potter - Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 1:37 PM - 0 Comments
I watched Cloverfield last night, and I loved it, partly for the reasons that…
I watched Cloverfield last night, and I loved it, partly for the reasons that Tyler Cowen gives but also because it is such a great portrayal of lower Manhattan. The more I think about, the more convinced I become that routinely portraying its destruction or descent into chaos is the greatest flattery you can pay a city.
Cloverfield actually spurred me to pick up and delve back into Luc Sante’s Low Life, his rough-love history of New York’s seedier sides. Re-reading the first hundred pages, I now realise how much of a debt Sante is owed by Richard Price for Lush Life, which I just finished and highly recommend.