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Full Plate: Anthony Bourdain

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The chef-turned-television host on the world’s cuisine, the ‘absurd’ foodie culture and why he has left restaurants behind

editor-commen-deskIf you’ve read “Kitchen Confidential“, you’ll know you can’t think of restaurant food quite the same way. Bourdain’s hipster wise-ass writing style is actually funnier and more memorable than his tv travel show narration style, I think, but the sensibility is the same. Best night to eat out, according to Anthony? Tuesday, his book says. I dined once at Le Halles in New York, where he was (and perhaps still is) executive chef, and even though it wasn’t a Tuesday, the food was great. The book that made Anthony Bourdain a household name remains a favorite of mine, I’ve probably given away more than one copy. Here’s at taste of this weekend’s Wall Street Journal profile of Bourdain, go here to read the whole thing.

“Are you here to see the chef?” whispers a waiter at Sant Ambroeus restaurant in Southampton, N.Y. He’s not referring to the restaurant’s actual chef but to chef-turned-television host Anthony Bourdain, kitchen-confidentialwho is sitting outside on the patio.

[Check out Anthony's book "Kitchen Confidential Updated Edition: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly" at Amazon]

Although Mr. Bourdain now focuses his career on showcasing world cuisine rather than creating his own dishes, to the waiters and busboys eagerly refilling his coffee cup, at least, he’s still “Chef.”

“Bourdain once described Vladimir Putin’s face as being as taut as a Real Housewife’s.”

He earned his title: He spent nearly 30 years as a cook and a chef before writing his best-selling book “Kitchen Confidential” in 2000. That led to a series of television shows. His current show, “Parts Unknown” on CNN, which has won three Emmy Awards, provides a look at the culture and cuisine of different cities world-wide; its fourth season begins on Sept. 28. (Watch a promo for “Parts Unknown: Russia.”)

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He still remembers his days in the kitchen well. “Most of my life I’ve been a pretty pessimistic guy, and I’ve had a pretty dark view of human nature,” he says, referring to how he used to see the world from the kitchen. It’s taken touring around the globe to turn him into a reluctant optimist.

“I assumed humans were basically bad people and if you stumbled…you would be devoured. I don’t believe that anymore.”

He likes going to controversial locales, and he doesn’t hesitate to criticize world leaders, if only in jest. (Mr. Bourdain once described Vladimir Putin‘s face as being as taut as a Real Housewife’s.) He hopes that his shows offer a new perspective on foreign locations. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong Edition

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Mark Ruffalo in a scene from ‘Infinitely Polar Bear.‘ The Metroplex

I wonder if our Hong Kong Bureau is prepared to do press screenings and hang with the celebs? Stay tuned, maybe we can smoke out Deb Fong for a bag of popcorn and a guest pass…Unknown

 “It’s part of our mission to expand beyond our own borders.”

– John Cooper, director of the Sundance Film Festival

Dean Napolitano writes:

Movie lovers in Hong Kong won’t have to travel all the way
to Park City, Utah, to catch the best in American independent films. The Sundance Film Festival is coming to Hong Kong in an abridged edition that will screen eight films from this year’s film bash.

[Isn't today Apple's iPhone 6 worldwide debut? check out Amazon to Trade In Your iPhone]

The festival kicks off on Friday with “Whiplash,” which grabbed the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic competition, about a young drumming prodigy and his overbearing teacher. Other highlights include “The Skeleton Twins,” a comedy-drama about a suicidal man that’s won rave reviews, and Mark Ruffalo as a manic-depressive family man in “Infinitely Polar Bear.Read the rest of this entry »


Election Results In: Batman Wins

Vote Batman


Designer Buzz: Pantone Universe Coffee Pots

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This isn’t a product endorsement, or ad, just an eye-catching combo of design + design. Or maybe I know too many caffeinated graphic designers. I could be wrong, but I expect this will enjoy success.

Whitbread Wilkinson has just launched Pantone Coffee Pots in three different sizes. The colorful percolators have a retro Italian style -that is pretty darn cool- and come in your choice of Pantone Colors. Read the rest of this entry »


GRAFFITI OF THE DAY: Be a Non Conformist!

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BLACK is BACK, JACK: Johnny Cash’s Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Is For Sale

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In 1970, ABC gave Cash a customized Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Long Wheel Base. The car features a partition between the front and rear seats and Cash’s initials on the rear doors. If it looks familiar, it should.

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The Rolls showed up on Pawn Stars a few months back. Now it’s headed to auction with no reserve. Look for it at the Barrett-Jackson event, September 25-27 at Mandalay Bay…(more)

Road & Track


Movie Poster: ‘El Hombre Invisble’

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24th James Bond Movie Starts Shooting Dec. 6

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Sam Mendes will begin filming the 24th James Bond film on Dec. 6, with the main cast members meeting for a table read that date at Pinewood Studios.51QKuIcbSFL._SL75_

[Order the 3rd Daniel Craig Bond adventure: Skyfall (Blu-ray/ DVD + Digital Copy) from Amazon.com]

Rather pointless to watch a Bond movie completely sober, dont you think? You’ll need The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond, 2nd Edition

First reported by The British website MI6, and here by Variety, we learn that Daniel Craig will return as the iconic British spy for his fourth Bond movie. Also reprising their roles will be Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny, Rory Kinnear as Bill 41LhtATaDjL._SL250_Tanner and Ben Whishaw as Q.

[Bloody hell, order the whole history of the franchise: Bond 50: The Complete 23 Film Collection with Skyfall [Blu-ray] at Amazon.com]

Mendes, who directed the last Bond pic,”Skyfall,” is helming from a script by John Logan that was rewritten by the team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Read the rest of this entry »


Bill Cosby To Loan Art Collection To Smithsonian

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art announced Monday that the entire Cosby collection will go on view in November in a unique exhibit juxtaposing African-American art with African art.

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Bill Cosby at the 55th anniversary of Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington in 2013. (credit: Kris Connor/Getty Images)

After amassing a private collection of African-American Art over four decades, Bill Cosby and his wife Camille plan to showcase their holdings for the first time in an exhibition planned at the Smithsonian Institution.

The exhibit “Conversations: African and African-American Artworks in Dialogue” will open Nov. 9 and will be on view through early 2016 in Washington.

The collection, which will be loaned to the museum, includes works by such leading African-American artists as Beauford Delaney, Faith Ringgold, Jacob Lawrence, Augusta Savage and Henry Ossawa Tanner. The Cosby collection of more than 300 African-American paintings, prints, sculptures and drawings has never been loaned or seen publicly, except for one work of art. Read the rest of this entry »


Cartoonist Tony Auth Dies at 72

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Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Tony Auth, whose sharp and creative commentary appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer for more than 40 years, died of cancer on Sunday. He was 72.

“He never ever shied away from tackling the major issues of the day. Few journalists in this city have performed their craft with such a combination of compassion and artistic brilliance.”

–  Stan Wischnowski, the Inquirer’s editor

Auth had worked for the past two years as the artist-in-residence at NewsWorks/WHYY, which announced his death.

“Tony Auth was a great cartoonist, a fine journalist and an even better friend.”

–  Chris Satullo

said Chris Satullo, WHYY’s vice president for news and civic engagement. Satullo previously served as the Inquirer’s editorial page editor, where he also worked with Auth.

Family members told the Inquirer that Auth had been battling brain cancer and recently went into hospice care.

Auth worked at the Inquirer for 41 years starting in 1971. He won the Pulitzer for editorial cartoons in 1976 and was a finalist twice after that. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ Sequel?

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Original Illustration by Bob Clarke from “Modern Architecture” in Mad Magazine #46

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Original illustration by Bob Clarke from “Modern Architecture” in Mad magazine #46, published by EC Comics, April 1959.

The Bristol Board


Vintage Toy: Robot & Son

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Rare Photos of 1900s Beijing Discovered

From Austrian Archive: Shaman Dancers, Tea Houses, Arms Traders, Urban Dwellers, Coolies and Suffragettes

When a relative of a long dead Austro-Hungarian navy soldier approached Gerd Kaminski, a China scholar in Vienna, in 2007, she pointed him towards a treasure trove of thousands of photos of Beijing, many of which were a century old.

Women demand the right to vote in this protest at the city's gates. Undated photo by Von Rostock

Women demand the right to vote in this protest at the city’s gates. Undated photo by Von Rostock

Kaminski, director of the Austrian Institute for China and Southeast Asia Studies in Vienna, worked his way through the photos and published a selection along with other photos he was given by descendants of Austrian diplomats and traders in imperial China.

A Tibetan Buddhist ritual dance, likely photographed at the Yellow Temple near the since demolished Anding Gate in northern Beijing, photographed by Von Perckhammer

A Tibetan Buddhist ritual dance, likely photographed at the Yellow Temple near the since demolished Anding Gate in northern Beijing, photographed by Von Perckhammer

“These photos give precious insights into daily urban life in Beijing a century ago,” he said. “Many of the buildings don’t exist anymore and traditions seen in the photos have been lost in time.”

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A woman’s feet disfigured by foot-binding, an ancient practice in which women’s feet were tied together to reduce their size. Undated photo by Von Perckhammer

[click here to view them as a slideshow]

Austrian arms trader Bruno Mueller seen with Chinese business partners in a photo taken in 1924 by his wife Lucy.

Austrian arms trader Bruno Mueller seen with Chinese business partners in a photo taken in 1924 by his wife Lucy. Mueller secretly sold Austrian arms to Chinese warlord Zhang Zuolin in the early 1920s at a time when Austria was banned from exporting arms under its peace treaty obligations.

Read the rest of this entry »


Renaissance Art: ‘Christ and Doubting Thomas’, Andrea del Verrocchio c. 1476-1483

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Verrocchio c. 1476-1483 Christ and Doubting Thomas

Andrea del Verrocchio c. 1435 – 1488, born Andrea di Michele di Francesco de’ Cioni, was an Italian painter, sculptor, and goldsmith who was master of an important workshop in Florence. He became known by his nickname “Verrocchio” which in Italian means “true eye” a tribute given to him for his artistic achievement. Few paintings are attributed to him with certainty, but a number of important painters were trained at his workshop. His pupils included Leonardo da Vinci, Pietro Perugino and Lorenzo di Credi. His greatest importance was as a sculptor and his last work, the equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni in Venice, is universally accepted as a masterpiece…(more) Read the rest of this entry »


[BOOKS] Erwan Rambourg’s ‘Bling Dynasty’

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In 2011, Erwan Rambourg was a six-year veteran of the luxury industry as an analyst for HSBC, based in Paris, a city that many high-end brands call home.

“The balance is story-telling. Luxury consumers are like kids. Brands are a dream, an aspiration.”

That year, he moved to Hong. While the brands were European, the consumption was shifting eastward toward China. “The reason I moved to bling-dynastyHong Kong was to try to understand better the trend and how the Chinese were consuming,” he said.

[Check out Erwan Rambourg's book "The Bling Dynasty" at Amazon.com]

After three years of observation, the 41-year-old Mr. Rambourg, who continues to cover the sector for HSBC, has put together his insights into the industry in a new book, Bling Dynasty: Why the Reign of the Chinese Luxury Shoppers Has Only Begun.

“If you get the impression that you’re the only one, that you’re unique and being the only one told the story, you’ll pay up. If you feel like everyone else, you won’t.”

He recently spoke with China Real Time about how China’s luxury consumption is different, why the corruption crackdown is a good thing and how Chinese and American consumers are becoming more alike.

“You have to develop the illusion or reality of scarcity.”

Edited excerpts:

Take us back to when you first arrived in Asia. What was the luxury landscape like?

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The luxury sector 20 years ago was driven by European consumers. Ten years ago, it was driven Japanese consumers, with the hope that Chinese consumers would eventually take over. Today, the Chinese are the key driver. In 2015, Chinese consumers will become 35% of luxury consumes.

The development of the Chinese luxury market is often compared to that of Japan. But you see vast differences.

They’re considered similar by investors but the differences lie in culture and how the markets are built. First, gender: The Japanese market was centered on the office lady. These are secretary-types who were living with parents, allocating most of their income to their next handbag.

The Chinese market was built by men. The core consumer was male, businessman, a lot of corporate gifting, instead of self-purchasing.

Today, the core consumer in Japan is female and aging. The core consumer in China is diverse. You still have the businessmen, but you have the emergence of young, female shoppers and a whole diversity of consumer profiles you don’t see in Japan.

Currently in Japan, there’s a move away from luxury and brands. They’re looking for more holistic experiences: Instead of a handbag, they’re going to a spa. Read the rest of this entry »


Unafraid: New York City Skyline

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Cracker Jack’s Innovative, Affordable, Magnet-Powered Breakthrough Car Technology

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Psychedelics: Poised for a Comeback

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In an interview with The Daily Beast, author Tom Shroder explains why psychedelics are so important to veterans, and the roadblocks researchers face getting it to them.

Abby Haglage writes: LSD, an illicit drug with a serious stigma, was once the darling of the psychotherapy world.Synthesized by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in 1938, the two decades following its birth were populated with study after study showing positive effects. With its ability to reduce defensiveness, help users relive early experiences, and make unconscious material accessible, it proved tremendously successful in therapy.
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, nearing retirement, is reportedly using LSD regularly. Pictured here is one of Reid's drug-inspired pause to study his own hand during a floor speech

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, nearing retirement, is rumored to be using LSD regularly. Seen here is one of Reid’s characteristic pauses to observe chem trails from his undulating hand during a floor speech

In a plethora of studies from the 1950s, researchers found the drug, and other psychedelics in its family, to be successful in treating victims of psychosomatic illnesses ranging from depression to addiction. With fear and hesitation stripped away, psychologists could help their patients dive headfirst into a painful memory, feeling, or thought, and work through it. For some, it sped up a process of awakening that may have taken years. For others, it opened a door that mayacid test book never have been found otherwise.

[Check out Tom Shroder's book "Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal" at Amazon.com]

But with the widespread recreational use of LSD beginning the 1960s, came both fear from both the general public and the government. After 1970 (when LSD was put on the schedule 1 substance list) it wasn’t technically illegal to do research with psychedelics but rather virtually impossible, given the professional and regulatory hurdles.

More than 40 years later, the criminalization of Hofmann’s drug still persists. The means and approval to research the psychedelic on humans is few and far between. The freedom of sufferers who may benefit to access it is all but nonexistent.

Nowhere are the negative effects of psychedelics’ fate more pronounced than in the story of America’s veterans. Of the many illnesses for which the psychedelic-assisted therapy showed promise, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was one of the most profound.

[Also see - LSD, Reconsidered for Therapy]
[More - New Drugs May Help Heal Old Psychological Traumas]

An estimated 500,000 Iraq-Afghanistan military veterans are suffering from PTSD, an excruciating illness that is believed to fuel the estimated 20 suicides that result from that demographic per day. In FDA sanctioned studies using MDMA-assisted therapy to treat veterans with PTSD, the success rate has been astounding. Why has no one noticed? Read the rest of this entry »


Why Paris is forgetting Ernest Hemingway

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American writer Ernest Hemingway had close links with Paris. He first lived there in 1920 and played a marginal, much-mythologised, role in the 1944 liberation of the city. But now, 70 years on, memories of the author are starting to fade.

Hugh Schofield BBC News, Paris: Twenty years ago when I first started reporting from Paris, a story on Hemingway would have been so corny that you would have got short shrift from any editor hemingway-book-feasthad you ever had the gall to suggest it.

[Order "A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition" and other books by Ernest Hemingway at Amazon.com]

Paris was full of Hemingway wannabes – young people just out of university sitting dreamily in cafes and struggling to get their prose more muscular.

There were guided tours round the sites – his homes on the Left Bank and the Shakespeare and Company bookshop.

No self-respecting acolyte would be seen on the street without a copy of Hemingway’s magisterial memoir of Paris in the 1920s, published posthumously under the title “A Moveable Feast”.

Crowds gathered to cheer French General Charles de Gaulle, 26 August 1944

Crowds gathered to cheer French General Charles de Gaulle, 26 August 1944

The commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Paris from the Germans brought it all back, because August 1944 was in fact one of the most celebrated episodes in the Hemingway legend.

“I’ve seen you beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for… you belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.”

Already famous for his books, he was working as a correspondent attached to the American 5th Infantry Division, which was south-west of Paris in the town of Rambouillet.

“This is the kind of stuff that used to set young writerly hearts racing.”

Here, in flagrant breach of the Geneva Conventions governing war reporting, Hemingway set up as a kind of mini warlord. His hotel room was full of grenades and uniforms, and he had command of a band of Free French fighters who reconnoitred the approach to Paris and provided information to the Allied armies. Read the rest of this entry »


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