Travel

Travel

The lush Fiagdon Valley in North Ossetia hides the tip of one of the most peculiar icebergs to emerge from post-Soviet Russia. A small medallion portrait of Stalin, solid as granite, clings for dear life to a stunning cliff-face – the work of an Ossetian artist, Daurbek Tsagayev in the late 1970s. The North Ossetian capital of Vladikavkaz has seen a new Stalin monument unveiled as recently as 2009. These are only two examples. (More…)

Versace. Benetton. Dolce and Gabbana. Whenever foreigners utter the word ‘Milan’, it usually conjures up luxury brands. Not Ecuadorean migrants. During the year that I lived there, Italy’s fashion capitol became synonymous with an entirely different set of signifiers: Colorful Spanish-language flyers for charismatic Christian festivals, and Peruvian big band gigs. (More…)

Nicolas Sarkozy occupies a unique space in European politics. The child of a Hungarian father, and a half-Sephardic Jewish mother (of Greek origin, no less) the French President is nevertheless hostile towards immigration. (More…)

“Not macho, not fascist!” “Feminists when needed.” Despite the feline-looking cartoon figure, the gender of these leftists is ambiguous. Male or female, they’re all on call against misogyny. Marais café men’s room, September 2009. (More…)

DECEMBER 25, 5:45 PM

The people that have been busying themselves under the metal awning are finally ready for us, and have decked out their standard-issue light blue plastic chairs with elaborate gold sateen covers and politely bagged all the table settings in plastic. They have also prepared no small amount of food. (More…)

DECEMBER 24, 11 AM

I arrive in Cambodia thirty hours late, due to a blizzard in central Europe. I am sleeping next to a posh pool in a Phnom Penh hotel, when I get a text from Saem Vun, a singer with a musical group called The Messenger Band. (More…)

Every time we drive through Zurich, the GPS fails. Nine times out of ten, the device will send my wife and I down one-way streets, or point us in the wrong direction. Having made at least half a dozen trips between Italy and Germany during the last two years, I still can’t figure whether it’s the Alps that are in the way, or that I need a new satnav system. (More…)

It’s an instant montage. If you know anything about the neighborhood, the contrast is entirely appropriate. Matching Arabic (Habibi, or “beloved”) with the German spelling for music (the store in the background sells musical instruments and scores,) the combination of words is its own metaphor. Even better, the street this scene is set on goes by the name of Karl Marx Straße. Berlin, anyone? (More…)

We were stunned by the bleak beauty of the golf course when we first found it. It was like something out of a dream, the kind of place you find yourself wandering through in the middle of your sleep, a place with no beginning and no end, a place out of place and out of time. (More…)

The protest was shocking. Yet, for anyone who follows German politics, the bombs found on Berlin’s train tracks should not have been a surprise. For eight years, Germany has participated in the Afghan conflict. The third largest contributor to NATO forces in the country, the Bundeswehr’s participation has grown progressively unpopular. But, a fuse for leftist violence? Unanticipated. (More…)

It had been a long time since I’d visited such an unfamiliar country. I came to learn Spanish, but quit halfway through. I spent a day holed up in my apartment reading Fire and Blood and Teaching Rebellion, the book about the 2006 protests that I picked up at La Jicara. I didn’t know whether I was a tourist, a bad student or just a curious visitor. (More…)

Besides mole and embroidery, Oaxaca is known for the Guelaguetza, an annual dance festival sponsored by the state and federal governments. The festival takes place in an enormous glaring white pavilion on the green hillside overlooking the city. The odd structure looks like a giant nun’s wimple fluttering in an updraft. It’s strangely menacing, as if just descended from the heavens, waiting to conquer the city. (More…)