“Not all those who wander are lost.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

THE PERFECT GETAWAY

Tsala Treetop Lodge & Villas   Amidst the treetops of an age-old indigenous forest, Tsala Treetop Lodge is a lavish celebration of the spirit [...]

Flamenco, Whatsapp & Google Translate

deur Gerard Scholtz (Rol af vir foto’s) Ana, flamenco cantaura, led us through Seville’s narrow, dark and cobbled backstreets. We were running a little late. [...]

Cordoba, die wit stad

deur Gerard Scholtz (Rol af vir foto’s) Ons het afgewyk van die Silwer Roete om ook Cordoba en Granada in te sluit. Kom so [...]

  • Meet the College Student With 6,000 Takeout Menus
    by Anne Ewbank on 7 July 2020 at 10:22 pm

    When Noah Sheidlower was 12 years old, his father handed him a menu from an empanada restaurant in Queens, New York, and told him to keep it in a safe place. Sheidlower, now a rising sophomore at Columbia University, still has that menu, and approximately 5,999 more along with it. Over Zoom, he waves a hand to show me menus heaped into plastic crates and piles in his parents’ house in Long Island, where he has lived since early March due to COVID-19. Before that, he had spent much of his free time ducking into restaurants around the Northeast to collect their takeout menus. His unusual collection fits in among his family's taste for the antique and the ephemeral. His grandmother has a passion for antiques, while his father owns a "ridiculously large" collection of baseball schedules. “I really didn't know what I was getting myself into,” Sheidlower says. But that one menu turned out to be momentous. Sheidlower became aware of what he calls “the food landscape,” and growing up near Queens gave him access to the borough’s vibrant culinary scene. A diet of Yelp reviews, takeout food, and Gordon Ramsay shows fed Sheidlower’s interest in menus. “I was a very early Yelper,” Sheidlower says. There’s the old joke along the lines of “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” No one knew Sheildlower was a young teenager either. "I was invited to all these 18+ events as a 14 year old behind my computer,” he recalls. “And my parents are like, ‘Don't go to that.’” Fascinated by food trends and the sheer variety of restaurants around him, he would pick a neighborhood and canvas its eateries. Nearly every weekend during his high-school years, Sheidlower searched out menus. “Queens has at least 80 to 90 different countries represented in its food,” he explains. He even published a food guide to Queens, and he continues to collect menus as a college student, albeit at a more sedate pace. On family trips across the Northeast and into Canada, he collects menus to spy out local specialties and compare similar dishes across different regions. Some regions and cuisines in his collection are more prominent than others. Rest stops are a great source for takeout menus, since local businesses stock them to lure tourists. “And that’s why I have every menu in Cape Cod, I think,” Sheidlower says. He has a handful of menus, all from Vermont, that are made of newsprint and even folded like newspapers. Some restaurants print their menus in tiny booklets, with print so miniscule that you need a magnifying glass to read them. Sheidlower shows me two: one from Bombay Mahal in Brunswick, Maine, and another from Jade Tree in Providence, Rhode Island, with a teeny dim sum menu printed on the back. “And I love them,” Sheidlower sighs. “They're very small.” Sometimes, acquiring a new menu can be as simple as ducking into a restaurant, grabbing one, and leaving. But “a lot of the time the owners like to chat with me, or the food's so good that I get something while I'm there,” Sheidlower says. “Sometimes I have four or five different lunches.” He’s never had a bad experience, save one time that he was shouted out of a restaurant in French. “I have a good enough knowledge of French to know that they were really getting mad at me for something,” he says. He thinks they mistook him for a tax collector. Sheidlower’s hoard helps him recall spectacular meals and how he felt while eating them. At Accra Girls, a Ghanian restaurant in central Massachusetts, he remembers happily waiting an hour while the fufu was pounded for his meal. “That was an experience beyond just getting a takeout menu,” he says. Another good memory was visiting the Washboard Donut Shop & Laundromat in Tupper Lake, New York, where people get breakfast, a load of laundry done, and, in his case, a menu. His hobby has always garnered attention. “In middle school, when I first got into it, my friends were super excited about it,” he says, and gave him menus from their own fridges. After Sheidlower wrote an article about his collection for the Columbia Daily Spectator, classmates and co-workers got in touch about their own menu collections, offering to chat with him about Mongolian food and donate menus from Montana. He prefers to collect menus himself though. Sheidlower does use some of his menus for their intended purpose of ordering takeout, and they’ve taken on a new importance to him since the start of the pandemic. “They're basically a restaurant's lifeline,” he says. Other than social media, paper takeout menus are often a restaurant’s calling card. Even with the rise of the internet, Sheidlower says he only remembers a handful of times that a restaurant he’s visited has had no menu to give him. He’s still unsure what he’ll do with all his menus. He keeps collecting, he says, as “a record of my travels and a record of my growth.” He thinks that they might one day have value as antiques, seeing as “right now, nobody is really collecting takeout menus.” They could provide an invaluable picture of the increasing diversity of Queens and New York, he notes. And as a snapshot of Northeastern cuisine in the early 21st century, his menus wouldn’t be out of place at a university, like Harley Spiller’s 10,000 Chinese takeout menus at the University of Toronto, or in a library’s holdings, like Miss Frank E. Buttolph’s 25,000 menus at the New York Public Library. It wouldn’t be a bad fate for 6,000 pieces of paper destined to be pinned to fridges, then forgotten.

  • The 90-Year-Old Virtuoso Keeping Naxi Music Alive in China
    by Amy Zhang on 7 July 2020 at 10:10 pm

    Every night at 8 p.m., around 20 elderly musicians in formal purple gowns take the stage in Naxi Concert Hall, a 400-seat theater in Old Town Lijiang, China. Painted white cranes drift across the indigo walls. A young woman introduces the band in Chinese, then English, as the “Dayan Naxi Orchestra, reformed in 1981 by our master Mr. Xuan Ke!” Then come the thumping beats of the da gu, a drum as big as a person. The centuries-old instruments on stage were once hidden underground during the Cultural Revolution. Now, they breathe life into ancient songs of longing, rebellion, and celebration that the musicians play without sheet music—majestic melodies that have been passed down orally, generation after generation. A small bell rings over and over, as if calling forth the band. Then come the shrill notes of the dizi bamboo flute, followed by voices slowly rising in a minor key. Various Chinese fiddles, a nasal bobo flute, and a set of yunluo “cloud gongs” join in, as do three kinds of plucked lutes that include the qu xiang pipa, a pear-shaped instrument that is considered native to the Naxi people. The band members play reverently and fervently, and when several elderly men stand up to sing solos, their voices vibrate throughout the wooden space. All too often, however, this vast music hall is almost empty. This period in the band’s life is a far cry from its roaring popularity in the 1990s, when it was led into the global spotlight by its band leader, Xuan Ke. On an evening in January, just five audience members are in attendance to give a standing ovation. Naxi culture has turned Lijiang, a city in the southwestern province of Yunnan, into one of China’s top tourist destinations. You can ride horses along the ancient tea route, dance with Naxi elders in traditional flower-adorned clothing, and eat, shop, and sleep in Old Town Lijiang, with its ancient trickling canals and pagoda-roofed guesthouses. It’s easy to think of China as a homogenous nation, but the country is home to 110 million members of minority ethnic groups. In Lijiang, around 20 percent of the population is Naxi, an ethnic group with its own distinctive language and a religion called Dongba, a form of shamanism influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. On Sifang Street, between stores selling traditional, indigo-dyed clothing and rose pastries, a bright teal sign proclaims “NAXI CONCERT HALL” in gold letters. In the rickety back room of the music hall, where gowns and instruments hang on the wall, 90-year-old Xuan Ke sits next to a space heater and speaks slowly, in perfect English. Regarded as the defender of Naxi culture and the father of Naxi music, he is now in a wheelchair; he isn’t able to get on stage for every concert to offer lively commentary like he used to. “I learned classical Western music first,” Xuan says. “Piano and organ at age six.” In a palm-sized booklet that doubles as a concert ticket, a 1931 photo shows plump baby Xuan in a wooden washbasin. The son of a Tibetan singer and the first Naxi man to speak fluent English, Xuan grew up with German nannies and Western missionaries in Lijiang. His father, Xuan Ming De, guided Western expeditions to the Yunnan-Burma border, including one with Theodore Roosevelt’s two sons. (They supposedly tipped him so well that the family was able to add a second story to their home, according to the travel writer Gretel Ehrlich.) But during the Cultural Revolution, which started in 1966 and lasted a decade, the Chinese government persecuted Xuan Ke for his Western associations. He doesn’t talk much about the many years he spent in a labor camp, but says that his interest in traditional Naxi music came after his release. “When I was released, I came back to my home here and learned this traditional Naxi music,” he says. “Before, every village had this kind of orchestra band, but during the Cultural Revolution they had to bury their instruments. I reorganized them.” Xuan managed to convince a group of 40—a mix of teachers, artisans, and farmers—to come together and play again. Starting in 1988, the orchestra had “spectacular success at home and abroad,” and helped draw visitors to Lijiang, according to Helen Rees, professor of ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Their concerts proved extremely popular to overseas and mainland Chinese tourists who wanted an experience of Naxi culture. In 1995, the orchestra undertook their first international tour in England, where they played to packed audiences in the Purcell Room, the Royal Northern College of Music, and hosted demonstrations at Oxford and SOAS. Given his charismatic personality and flawless English, Xuan was the perfect figure to introduce Naxi music to Western audiences. Both Western and Chinese sources covered the tour enthusiastically, Rees writes in her article “Naxi Ancient Music Rocks London.” A Chinese government official, in awe of the Oxford visit, wrote, "That Naxi Ancient Music and Naxi scholars could reach the performance and lecture hall of a world-famous university like Oxford is not only unprecedented in Naxi history, it is also a rare occurrence even in Chinese history." Invitations to festivals in Norway, France, the U.S., and 12 other countries followed. The foreign acclaim brought pride and a bigger spotlight back home in China, legitimizing this otherwise marginalized ethnicity. After Old Town Lijiang was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, the government quickly created an agency to oversee the physical reconstruction of Old Town, preserving some parts of Naxi architecture but also commercializing the area. In 1999, Jiang Zemin, the President of China, visited the concert hall and announced, “We should spread this music to the entire world!” At the same time, rising prices and incoming Han residents soon pushed the Naxi out of their homes, and now about 70 percent of the stores in the Old Town cater solely to tourists. Lijiang’s newfound popularity had some benefits. In the 1980s, the Yunnan government funded a conservation project for the Naxi script, Dongba, which is the only pictographic writing system in use today. Ni Qian Yu, a cheerful 22-year-old, now sells Dongba-Chinese-English dictionaries and paper goods made from a local shrub, Wikstroemia canescens, at one of the popular Dongba Paper Goods stores in Old Town. Fewer than 300 people, Ni included, can read and write the script today, and he hopes the script will endure. According to one of Xuan Ke’s ticket sellers, the Naxi orchestra’s attendance started declining in 2014, when “Lijiang Eternal Love,” a show with 4,700 moving seats and IMAX screens, opened a few kilometers away. Housed in the “Dongba Culture Theme Theater,” the nightly show is a main attraction of the Lijiang Songcheng Tourist Area, a new government-launched cultural theme park. In the show, laser beams stream across the stage while Naxi warriors save their damsels in distress; Tibetans and Indians dance happily in technicolor verdant fields. In government-produced media, “minorities get exoticized, somewhat like the 'noble savage,'” explains China specialist Dru Gladney to the BBC. “On the one hand they are seen as backward and on the other hand they are romanticised and seen as pure.” This show is no different, and unlike the Naxi orchestra, it’s backed up by millions of dollars from tourism companies and the government. “That new stuff … it is nothing,” says Xuan. “They do it for money, not for art. This here is real Naxi music from real Naxi people. But it is hard to appreciate.” Xuan pays his musical collaborators 1700 Chinese yuan, or about $240, each month. Only two members are below the age of 50, and there are four performers who are at least 80 years old. “The government has not ever given one single coin,” he says. When asked whether he’s hopeful about the future of Naxi music, Xuan says bluntly that he is not. “No one knows how to appreciate it,” he says. “Except you.” He laughs. After 20 minutes of conversation, his eyes are starting to shut. Next door, five men with wispy white beards sit and wait for the start of the show, silent except for the clacking of jade hand massage balls. One looks asleep. A qu xiang pipa sits upright in the corner. In 10 minutes they will don their purple gowns and become the bearers of ancient Naxi music—for the few who are willing to listen and remember.

  • Walker Mansion Ruins in Morrison, Colorado
    on 7 July 2020 at 5:00 pm

    John Brisben Walker was a self-made millionaire with a wide portfolio of ventures to his name. Born near Pittsburg Walker cofounded the Locomobile Company of America, invested in Stanley Steamer steam-powered automobiles, and edited Cosmopolitan magazine. But it was in Colorado where he made his biggest mark. In 1905, Walker relocated to Colorado where he boosted farming by introducing irrigated alfalfa as a crop, developed the Riverfront Park area of Denver, and purchased over 4,000 acres of land. Forty of those acres he gifted to the Jesuits in 1887 where they built Regis University. With his land above Mount Falcon, he constructed a craftsman-style chalet in 1909. The home was built by stonemasons from Italy and included 10 bedrooms, eight fireplaces, a music room, an observation deck, library, and servants quarters. In 1916, John's wife, Ethel Walker died. Two years later, lightning struck the Walker home and destroyed the structure. These two tragedies forced Walker to leave the area. The land he'd purchased and preserved became the foundation for the Denver Mountain Parks and Jefferson County Open Space's hiking trails and public lands.

  • Nathaniel Dett Memorial Chapel in Niagara Falls, Ontario
    on 7 July 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Long before Deadmau5 and Honeymoon Suite became notable musical exports from Niagara Falls, a composer, organist, and music professor named Robert Nathaniel Dett did his part to change the image and direction of Afrocentric music in the early 1900s. Dett showed his flair for music at an early age. Encouraged by his mother, Dett started taking piano lessons at age five. Years later, while studying at the Oberlin Conservatory, Dett heard the music of Antonín Dvořák and was inspired to take the folk songs and spirituals learned from his grandmother — “the melodies of an enslaved people” he called them — and work them into his Classical compositions. Dett was seriously accomplished. He was the first black student to complete the five-year course at Oberlin. He went on to perform at Carnegie Hall and was a prize-winning student at Harvard. He became the first black director of music at the Hampton Institute and was president of The National Association of Negro Musicians. Canada's Nathaniel Dett Chorale continues to perform his music to this day, as well as that of other composers of African descent. Back in his hometown, the chapel Nathaniel Dett attended as a child was renamed in his honor in 1983. The church was built in 1836 by liberated slaves who escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad. It’s a simple and unassuming wooden frame structure in the Upper-Canada Georgian style, with blue clapboard siding and Gothic Revival stained glass windows. It stands today as the third-oldest church in Niagara Falls. Inside the cozy, mostly-original interior is the main attraction — an ornately carved organ dating to 1897, believed to be the one a young Dett played when he was employed here as an organist. Visitors can see the organ in plain view during regular public services. In the back of the chapel is a 1,400-volume black history reference library, historical photos, and genealogical info — and, of course, a gift shop. Humble though it may be, the Nathaniel Dett Memorial Chapel is designated a National Heritage landmark site and represents an important part of Canada’s role in the history of the Underground Railroad.

  • Turning On the Lights in the Ocean's Twilight Zone
    by Luna Shyr on 7 July 2020 at 3:13 pm

    Many fathoms below the surface of the sea, mysteries still abound—mostly invisible to human eyes. Sunlight disappears and water pressure mounts, making the deep sea one of the least explored and understood environments on the planet. Even today. Still, humans have found ways to sate their curiosity, from diving bells (first envisioned by Aristotle) to scuba gear to remotely operated vehicles, and the 4K video cameras they now carry. The latter technology has enabled a group of Australian scientists to share their exploration of the continent’s largest marine sanctuary, the Coral Sea Marine Park, via livestream with colleagues sheltered in place around the world during the global pandemic. The deep did not disappoint. Coral reefs were plentiful even where light was faint or entirely absent; colorful sponges and a species of fish native to Hawaiʻi put in appearances. A fanciful octopus with ear-like fins resembling Dumbo the elephant cruised by at 3,300 feet, and chambered nautiluses—particularly ancient creatures—bobbed about somewhere around 2,000 feet. For six weeks the Australian scientists, led by marine geologist Robin Beaman of James Cook University in Cairns, worked from home with the crew of Falkor, a research ship provided by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, a philanthropic nonprofit cofounded by Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO, and his wife Wendy. The expedition mapped more than 13,000 square miles of the ocean floor east of Australia (an area about the size of the island of Taiwan), in addition to capturing captivating glimpses of life brimming up to 5,300 feet below. Although these dives were look-only (“It’s a bit like a kid going into a toy shop but being told you can’t touch anything,” says coral specialist Tom Bridge, a co–principal investigator), another expedition is planned—and collecting specimens is part of the mission. Bridge’s wish list includes samples of the corals he can currently only gaze at from afar. By firmly identifying each species and learning how they compare genetically to others in the Pacific, he says, we might have a better window on life’s evolution in the sea.

  • Largest ocean clean up hauls in 103 tons of waste
    by Imogen Searra on 7 July 2020 at 3:04 pm

    In a win for ocean conservation, a crew from the Ocean Voyages Institute removed 103 tons of toxic plastic pollutants from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  The post Largest ocean clean up hauls in 103 tons of waste appeared first on Getaway Magazine.

  • Statue of Jack the Pardoned Turkey in Hartford, Connecticut
    on 7 July 2020 at 3:00 pm

    Though the modern tradition of an American president officially pardoning a turkey at Thanksgiving began with George H. W. Bush in 1989, the idea is believed to have originated with Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s pardoned turkey was actually gifted to the First Family in 1863, just a month after the president declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. Though meant to be Christmas dinner that year, the turkey was quickly adopted by Tad Lincoln, the president’s 10-year-old son. Tad named the bird Jack and trained it to follow him all over the White House. When the time came to slaughter and eat Jack, Tad begged his father to spare the creature’s life. Lincoln, ever indulgent of his youngest child, wrote a note “pardoning” Jack and gave it to Tad, who showed it to the head chef, thus granting a reprieve for the beloved pet. In 2005, as part of a riverfront revitalization effort in downtown Hartford, the Lincoln Financial Group sponsored 16 sculptures along the Connecticut River. The series commemorates the life and achievements of the insurance and investment company's namesake. Among the sculptures is a stylized depiction of Jack designed by New York artist Philip Grausman.

  • In search of pen pals
    by Imogen Searra on 7 July 2020 at 2:42 pm

    The art of letter-writing has weathered countless generations. In 2020, though, this timeless form of communication is making a comeback. The post In search of pen pals appeared first on Getaway Magazine.

  • The world’s first solar powered livable boathouse
    by Anita Froneman on 7 July 2020 at 2:32 pm

    These floating homes from Arkup 'combine the best attributes of yachts, floating houses and waterfront villas, with the added benefits of being self-sufficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly, The post The world’s first solar powered livable boathouse appeared first on Getaway Magazine.

  • Hodota Tombs in Takasaki, Japan
    on 7 July 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Built between the third and seventh centuries, kofun are ancient Japanese burial mounds that served as elaborate tombs for powerful clans. The most common form of kofun was the zenpō-kōen-fun, a massive tomb erected in the shape of a keyhole. While it’s estimated that there are over 160,000 kofun scattered throughout Japan (with 700 in Tokyo alone), they’re quite difficult to spot; to the untrained eye, they may look like mere mounds of earth. For this reason, the burial mounds of the Hodota (or Hotoda) Kofun Complex in northeastern Saitama are anomalies. With the help of a volcano and some significant restoration work, they look almost exactly as they would have looked 1,500 years ago. When nearby Mount Haruna erupted in the sixth century, its thick ashes blanketed the three mounds that make up the complex, preserving them for over a millennium until they were unearthed in the 1800s. The complex’s three kofun are massive, carefully preserved, and well-maintained. The Futagoyama Kofun, the largest of the three, is about 108 meters (104 yards) in length and 10 meters (32.8 feet) in height. Yakushizuka Kofun, the second mound, is now part of Saikō-ji Temple, and only a small portion of it is visible today. The Hachiman-zuka Kofun was home to 400,000 fukiishi, or roofing stones, and 6,000 cylindrical haniwa, or terra-cotta clay figurines. These haniwa typically depict humans, animals and houses, offering tangible snapshots of everyday life during the Kofun period. Today, replicas of such haniwa surround the complex en masse, some bearing shields as if to protect the restored burial site. 

  • Meet the College Student With 6,000 Takeout Menus
    by Anne Ewbank on 7 July 2020 at 10:22 pm

    When Noah Sheidlower was 12 years old, his father handed him a menu from an empanada restaurant in Queens, New York, and told him to keep it in a safe place. Sheidlower, now a rising sophomore at Columbia University, still has that menu, and approximately 5,999 more along with it. Over Zoom, he waves a hand to show me menus heaped into plastic crates and piles in his parents’ house in Long Island, where he has lived since early March due to COVID-19. Before that, he had spent much of his free time ducking into restaurants around the Northeast to collect their takeout menus. His unusual collection fits in among his family's taste for the antique and the ephemeral. His grandmother has a passion for antiques, while his father owns a "ridiculously large" collection of baseball schedules. “I really didn't know what I was getting myself into,” Sheidlower says. But that one menu turned out to be momentous. Sheidlower became aware of what he calls “the food landscape,” and growing up near Queens gave him access to the borough’s vibrant culinary scene. A diet of Yelp reviews, takeout food, and Gordon Ramsay shows fed Sheidlower’s interest in menus. “I was a very early Yelper,” Sheidlower says. There’s the old joke along the lines of “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” No one knew Sheildlower was a young teenager either. "I was invited to all these 18+ events as a 14 year old behind my computer,” he recalls. “And my parents are like, ‘Don't go to that.’” Fascinated by food trends and the sheer variety of restaurants around him, he would pick a neighborhood and canvas its eateries. Nearly every weekend during his high-school years, Sheidlower searched out menus. “Queens has at least 80 to 90 different countries represented in its food,” he explains. He even published a food guide to Queens, and he continues to collect menus as a college student, albeit at a more sedate pace. On family trips across the Northeast and into Canada, he collects menus to spy out local specialties and compare similar dishes across different regions. Some regions and cuisines in his collection are more prominent than others. Rest stops are a great source for takeout menus, since local businesses stock them to lure tourists. “And that’s why I have every menu in Cape Cod, I think,” Sheidlower says. He has a handful of menus, all from Vermont, that are made of newsprint and even folded like newspapers. Some restaurants print their menus in tiny booklets, with print so miniscule that you need a magnifying glass to read them. Sheidlower shows me two: one from Bombay Mahal in Brunswick, Maine, and another from Jade Tree in Providence, Rhode Island, with a teeny dim sum menu printed on the back. “And I love them,” Sheidlower sighs. “They're very small.” Sometimes, acquiring a new menu can be as simple as ducking into a restaurant, grabbing one, and leaving. But “a lot of the time the owners like to chat with me, or the food's so good that I get something while I'm there,” Sheidlower says. “Sometimes I have four or five different lunches.” He’s never had a bad experience, save one time that he was shouted out of a restaurant in French. “I have a good enough knowledge of French to know that they were really getting mad at me for something,” he says. He thinks they mistook him for a tax collector. Sheidlower’s hoard helps him recall spectacular meals and how he felt while eating them. At Accra Girls, a Ghanian restaurant in central Massachusetts, he remembers happily waiting an hour while the fufu was pounded for his meal. “That was an experience beyond just getting a takeout menu,” he says. Another good memory was visiting the Washboard Donut Shop & Laundromat in Tupper Lake, New York, where people get breakfast, a load of laundry done, and, in his case, a menu. His hobby has always garnered attention. “In middle school, when I first got into it, my friends were super excited about it,” he says, and gave him menus from their own fridges. After Sheidlower wrote an article about his collection for the Columbia Daily Spectator, classmates and co-workers got in touch about their own menu collections, offering to chat with him about Mongolian food and donate menus from Montana. He prefers to collect menus himself though. Sheidlower does use some of his menus for their intended purpose of ordering takeout, and they’ve taken on a new importance to him since the start of the pandemic. “They're basically a restaurant's lifeline,” he says. Other than social media, paper takeout menus are often a restaurant’s calling card. Even with the rise of the internet, Sheidlower says he only remembers a handful of times that a restaurant he’s visited has had no menu to give him. He’s still unsure what he’ll do with all his menus. He keeps collecting, he says, as “a record of my travels and a record of my growth.” He thinks that they might one day have value as antiques, seeing as “right now, nobody is really collecting takeout menus.” They could provide an invaluable picture of the increasing diversity of Queens and New York, he notes. And as a snapshot of Northeastern cuisine in the early 21st century, his menus wouldn’t be out of place at a university, like Harley Spiller’s 10,000 Chinese takeout menus at the University of Toronto, or in a library’s holdings, like Miss Frank E. Buttolph’s 25,000 menus at the New York Public Library. It wouldn’t be a bad fate for 6,000 pieces of paper destined to be pinned to fridges, then forgotten.

  • The 90-Year-Old Virtuoso Keeping Naxi Music Alive in China
    by Amy Zhang on 7 July 2020 at 10:10 pm

    Every night at 8 p.m., around 20 elderly musicians in formal purple gowns take the stage in Naxi Concert Hall, a 400-seat theater in Old Town Lijiang, China. Painted white cranes drift across the indigo walls. A young woman introduces the band in Chinese, then English, as the “Dayan Naxi Orchestra, reformed in 1981 by our master Mr. Xuan Ke!” Then come the thumping beats of the da gu, a drum as big as a person. The centuries-old instruments on stage were once hidden underground during the Cultural Revolution. Now, they breathe life into ancient songs of longing, rebellion, and celebration that the musicians play without sheet music—majestic melodies that have been passed down orally, generation after generation. A small bell rings over and over, as if calling forth the band. Then come the shrill notes of the dizi bamboo flute, followed by voices slowly rising in a minor key. Various Chinese fiddles, a nasal bobo flute, and a set of yunluo “cloud gongs” join in, as do three kinds of plucked lutes that include the qu xiang pipa, a pear-shaped instrument that is considered native to the Naxi people. The band members play reverently and fervently, and when several elderly men stand up to sing solos, their voices vibrate throughout the wooden space. All too often, however, this vast music hall is almost empty. This period in the band’s life is a far cry from its roaring popularity in the 1990s, when it was led into the global spotlight by its band leader, Xuan Ke. On an evening in January, just five audience members are in attendance to give a standing ovation. Naxi culture has turned Lijiang, a city in the southwestern province of Yunnan, into one of China’s top tourist destinations. You can ride horses along the ancient tea route, dance with Naxi elders in traditional flower-adorned clothing, and eat, shop, and sleep in Old Town Lijiang, with its ancient trickling canals and pagoda-roofed guesthouses. It’s easy to think of China as a homogenous nation, but the country is home to 110 million members of minority ethnic groups. In Lijiang, around 20 percent of the population is Naxi, an ethnic group with its own distinctive language and a religion called Dongba, a form of shamanism influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. On Sifang Street, between stores selling traditional, indigo-dyed clothing and rose pastries, a bright teal sign proclaims “NAXI CONCERT HALL” in gold letters. In the rickety back room of the music hall, where gowns and instruments hang on the wall, 90-year-old Xuan Ke sits next to a space heater and speaks slowly, in perfect English. Regarded as the defender of Naxi culture and the father of Naxi music, he is now in a wheelchair; he isn’t able to get on stage for every concert to offer lively commentary like he used to. “I learned classical Western music first,” Xuan says. “Piano and organ at age six.” In a palm-sized booklet that doubles as a concert ticket, a 1931 photo shows plump baby Xuan in a wooden washbasin. The son of a Tibetan singer and the first Naxi man to speak fluent English, Xuan grew up with German nannies and Western missionaries in Lijiang. His father, Xuan Ming De, guided Western expeditions to the Yunnan-Burma border, including one with Theodore Roosevelt’s two sons. (They supposedly tipped him so well that the family was able to add a second story to their home, according to the travel writer Gretel Ehrlich.) But during the Cultural Revolution, which started in 1966 and lasted a decade, the Chinese government persecuted Xuan Ke for his Western associations. He doesn’t talk much about the many years he spent in a labor camp, but says that his interest in traditional Naxi music came after his release. “When I was released, I came back to my home here and learned this traditional Naxi music,” he says. “Before, every village had this kind of orchestra band, but during the Cultural Revolution they had to bury their instruments. I reorganized them.” Xuan managed to convince a group of 40—a mix of teachers, artisans, and farmers—to come together and play again. Starting in 1988, the orchestra had “spectacular success at home and abroad,” and helped draw visitors to Lijiang, according to Helen Rees, professor of ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Their concerts proved extremely popular to overseas and mainland Chinese tourists who wanted an experience of Naxi culture. In 1995, the orchestra undertook their first international tour in England, where they played to packed audiences in the Purcell Room, the Royal Northern College of Music, and hosted demonstrations at Oxford and SOAS. Given his charismatic personality and flawless English, Xuan was the perfect figure to introduce Naxi music to Western audiences. Both Western and Chinese sources covered the tour enthusiastically, Rees writes in her article “Naxi Ancient Music Rocks London.” A Chinese government official, in awe of the Oxford visit, wrote, "That Naxi Ancient Music and Naxi scholars could reach the performance and lecture hall of a world-famous university like Oxford is not only unprecedented in Naxi history, it is also a rare occurrence even in Chinese history." Invitations to festivals in Norway, France, the U.S., and 12 other countries followed. The foreign acclaim brought pride and a bigger spotlight back home in China, legitimizing this otherwise marginalized ethnicity. After Old Town Lijiang was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, the government quickly created an agency to oversee the physical reconstruction of Old Town, preserving some parts of Naxi architecture but also commercializing the area. In 1999, Jiang Zemin, the President of China, visited the concert hall and announced, “We should spread this music to the entire world!” At the same time, rising prices and incoming Han residents soon pushed the Naxi out of their homes, and now about 70 percent of the stores in the Old Town cater solely to tourists. Lijiang’s newfound popularity had some benefits. In the 1980s, the Yunnan government funded a conservation project for the Naxi script, Dongba, which is the only pictographic writing system in use today. Ni Qian Yu, a cheerful 22-year-old, now sells Dongba-Chinese-English dictionaries and paper goods made from a local shrub, Wikstroemia canescens, at one of the popular Dongba Paper Goods stores in Old Town. Fewer than 300 people, Ni included, can read and write the script today, and he hopes the script will endure. According to one of Xuan Ke’s ticket sellers, the Naxi orchestra’s attendance started declining in 2014, when “Lijiang Eternal Love,” a show with 4,700 moving seats and IMAX screens, opened a few kilometers away. Housed in the “Dongba Culture Theme Theater,” the nightly show is a main attraction of the Lijiang Songcheng Tourist Area, a new government-launched cultural theme park. In the show, laser beams stream across the stage while Naxi warriors save their damsels in distress; Tibetans and Indians dance happily in technicolor verdant fields. In government-produced media, “minorities get exoticized, somewhat like the 'noble savage,'” explains China specialist Dru Gladney to the BBC. “On the one hand they are seen as backward and on the other hand they are romanticised and seen as pure.” This show is no different, and unlike the Naxi orchestra, it’s backed up by millions of dollars from tourism companies and the government. “That new stuff … it is nothing,” says Xuan. “They do it for money, not for art. This here is real Naxi music from real Naxi people. But it is hard to appreciate.” Xuan pays his musical collaborators 1700 Chinese yuan, or about $240, each month. Only two members are below the age of 50, and there are four performers who are at least 80 years old. “The government has not ever given one single coin,” he says. When asked whether he’s hopeful about the future of Naxi music, Xuan says bluntly that he is not. “No one knows how to appreciate it,” he says. “Except you.” He laughs. After 20 minutes of conversation, his eyes are starting to shut. Next door, five men with wispy white beards sit and wait for the start of the show, silent except for the clacking of jade hand massage balls. One looks asleep. A qu xiang pipa sits upright in the corner. In 10 minutes they will don their purple gowns and become the bearers of ancient Naxi music—for the few who are willing to listen and remember.

  • Walker Mansion Ruins in Morrison, Colorado
    on 7 July 2020 at 5:00 pm

    John Brisben Walker was a self-made millionaire with a wide portfolio of ventures to his name. Born near Pittsburg Walker cofounded the Locomobile Company of America, invested in Stanley Steamer steam-powered automobiles, and edited Cosmopolitan magazine. But it was in Colorado where he made his biggest mark. In 1905, Walker relocated to Colorado where he boosted farming by introducing irrigated alfalfa as a crop, developed the Riverfront Park area of Denver, and purchased over 4,000 acres of land. Forty of those acres he gifted to the Jesuits in 1887 where they built Regis University. With his land above Mount Falcon, he constructed a craftsman-style chalet in 1909. The home was built by stonemasons from Italy and included 10 bedrooms, eight fireplaces, a music room, an observation deck, library, and servants quarters. In 1916, John's wife, Ethel Walker died. Two years later, lightning struck the Walker home and destroyed the structure. These two tragedies forced Walker to leave the area. The land he'd purchased and preserved became the foundation for the Denver Mountain Parks and Jefferson County Open Space's hiking trails and public lands.

  • Nathaniel Dett Memorial Chapel in Niagara Falls, Ontario
    on 7 July 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Long before Deadmau5 and Honeymoon Suite became notable musical exports from Niagara Falls, a composer, organist, and music professor named Robert Nathaniel Dett did his part to change the image and direction of Afrocentric music in the early 1900s. Dett showed his flair for music at an early age. Encouraged by his mother, Dett started taking piano lessons at age five. Years later, while studying at the Oberlin Conservatory, Dett heard the music of Antonín Dvořák and was inspired to take the folk songs and spirituals learned from his grandmother — “the melodies of an enslaved people” he called them — and work them into his Classical compositions. Dett was seriously accomplished. He was the first black student to complete the five-year course at Oberlin. He went on to perform at Carnegie Hall and was a prize-winning student at Harvard. He became the first black director of music at the Hampton Institute and was president of The National Association of Negro Musicians. Canada's Nathaniel Dett Chorale continues to perform his music to this day, as well as that of other composers of African descent. Back in his hometown, the chapel Nathaniel Dett attended as a child was renamed in his honor in 1983. The church was built in 1836 by liberated slaves who escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad. It’s a simple and unassuming wooden frame structure in the Upper-Canada Georgian style, with blue clapboard siding and Gothic Revival stained glass windows. It stands today as the third-oldest church in Niagara Falls. Inside the cozy, mostly-original interior is the main attraction — an ornately carved organ dating to 1897, believed to be the one a young Dett played when he was employed here as an organist. Visitors can see the organ in plain view during regular public services. In the back of the chapel is a 1,400-volume black history reference library, historical photos, and genealogical info — and, of course, a gift shop. Humble though it may be, the Nathaniel Dett Memorial Chapel is designated a National Heritage landmark site and represents an important part of Canada’s role in the history of the Underground Railroad.

  • Turning On the Lights in the Ocean's Twilight Zone
    by Luna Shyr on 7 July 2020 at 3:13 pm

    Many fathoms below the surface of the sea, mysteries still abound—mostly invisible to human eyes. Sunlight disappears and water pressure mounts, making the deep sea one of the least explored and understood environments on the planet. Even today. Still, humans have found ways to sate their curiosity, from diving bells (first envisioned by Aristotle) to scuba gear to remotely operated vehicles, and the 4K video cameras they now carry. The latter technology has enabled a group of Australian scientists to share their exploration of the continent’s largest marine sanctuary, the Coral Sea Marine Park, via livestream with colleagues sheltered in place around the world during the global pandemic. The deep did not disappoint. Coral reefs were plentiful even where light was faint or entirely absent; colorful sponges and a species of fish native to Hawaiʻi put in appearances. A fanciful octopus with ear-like fins resembling Dumbo the elephant cruised by at 3,300 feet, and chambered nautiluses—particularly ancient creatures—bobbed about somewhere around 2,000 feet. For six weeks the Australian scientists, led by marine geologist Robin Beaman of James Cook University in Cairns, worked from home with the crew of Falkor, a research ship provided by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, a philanthropic nonprofit cofounded by Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO, and his wife Wendy. The expedition mapped more than 13,000 square miles of the ocean floor east of Australia (an area about the size of the island of Taiwan), in addition to capturing captivating glimpses of life brimming up to 5,300 feet below. Although these dives were look-only (“It’s a bit like a kid going into a toy shop but being told you can’t touch anything,” says coral specialist Tom Bridge, a co–principal investigator), another expedition is planned—and collecting specimens is part of the mission. Bridge’s wish list includes samples of the corals he can currently only gaze at from afar. By firmly identifying each species and learning how they compare genetically to others in the Pacific, he says, we might have a better window on life’s evolution in the sea.

  • Largest ocean clean up hauls in 103 tons of waste
    by Imogen Searra on 7 July 2020 at 3:04 pm

    In a win for ocean conservation, a crew from the Ocean Voyages Institute removed 103 tons of toxic plastic pollutants from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  The post Largest ocean clean up hauls in 103 tons of waste appeared first on Getaway Magazine.

  • Statue of Jack the Pardoned Turkey in Hartford, Connecticut
    on 7 July 2020 at 3:00 pm

    Though the modern tradition of an American president officially pardoning a turkey at Thanksgiving began with George H. W. Bush in 1989, the idea is believed to have originated with Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s pardoned turkey was actually gifted to the First Family in 1863, just a month after the president declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. Though meant to be Christmas dinner that year, the turkey was quickly adopted by Tad Lincoln, the president’s 10-year-old son. Tad named the bird Jack and trained it to follow him all over the White House. When the time came to slaughter and eat Jack, Tad begged his father to spare the creature’s life. Lincoln, ever indulgent of his youngest child, wrote a note “pardoning” Jack and gave it to Tad, who showed it to the head chef, thus granting a reprieve for the beloved pet. In 2005, as part of a riverfront revitalization effort in downtown Hartford, the Lincoln Financial Group sponsored 16 sculptures along the Connecticut River. The series commemorates the life and achievements of the insurance and investment company's namesake. Among the sculptures is a stylized depiction of Jack designed by New York artist Philip Grausman.

  • In search of pen pals
    by Imogen Searra on 7 July 2020 at 2:42 pm

    The art of letter-writing has weathered countless generations. In 2020, though, this timeless form of communication is making a comeback. The post In search of pen pals appeared first on Getaway Magazine.

  • The world’s first solar powered livable boathouse
    by Anita Froneman on 7 July 2020 at 2:32 pm

    These floating homes from Arkup 'combine the best attributes of yachts, floating houses and waterfront villas, with the added benefits of being self-sufficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly, The post The world’s first solar powered livable boathouse appeared first on Getaway Magazine.

  • Hodota Tombs in Takasaki, Japan
    on 7 July 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Built between the third and seventh centuries, kofun are ancient Japanese burial mounds that served as elaborate tombs for powerful clans. The most common form of kofun was the zenpō-kōen-fun, a massive tomb erected in the shape of a keyhole. While it’s estimated that there are over 160,000 kofun scattered throughout Japan (with 700 in Tokyo alone), they’re quite difficult to spot; to the untrained eye, they may look like mere mounds of earth. For this reason, the burial mounds of the Hodota (or Hotoda) Kofun Complex in northeastern Saitama are anomalies. With the help of a volcano and some significant restoration work, they look almost exactly as they would have looked 1,500 years ago. When nearby Mount Haruna erupted in the sixth century, its thick ashes blanketed the three mounds that make up the complex, preserving them for over a millennium until they were unearthed in the 1800s. The complex’s three kofun are massive, carefully preserved, and well-maintained. The Futagoyama Kofun, the largest of the three, is about 108 meters (104 yards) in length and 10 meters (32.8 feet) in height. Yakushizuka Kofun, the second mound, is now part of Saikō-ji Temple, and only a small portion of it is visible today. The Hachiman-zuka Kofun was home to 400,000 fukiishi, or roofing stones, and 6,000 cylindrical haniwa, or terra-cotta clay figurines. These haniwa typically depict humans, animals and houses, offering tangible snapshots of everyday life during the Kofun period. Today, replicas of such haniwa surround the complex en masse, some bearing shields as if to protect the restored burial site.