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Party Skills for the End of the World review a wild night out without leaving the sofa – The Guardian

Two months into lockdown, it is an exciting prospect to be sent an invitation to a Zoom meeting with a dress code of party wear, along with instructions to drape festive lights across the screen. As a result, the gallery view of this interactive theatre show starts off looking like a virtual hen party, with participants bopping to Gloria Gaynors Its Raining Men in glittery tops, feather boas and elaborate headdresses. Everyone, it seems, is delighted to find an occasion to be out in their glad rags.

There is a level of intrigue, too, given that the organisers have also asked us to collect together a long list of household materials, which range from tinned fruit for cocktails to less explicable items such as pliers, padlocks and gaffer tape. What kind of virtual party is this, exactly?

A fun, feelgood one, it turns out one that captures the spirit of a night out. Party Skills for the End of the World was originally commissioned for the Manchester international festival in 2017 as a site-specific performance in a building in Salford. This version, which is part of an online series created by MIF to keep theatre alive during lockdown, squeezes itself into the 2D realm of the screen.

Like the cocktails, which are made from the remains of our store cupboards (mine is a mocktail of ginger ale and mashed banana, very tasty) the hedonism has a blitz spirit, make do quality to it.

Our hosts, Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari, who are from the theatre collective Shunt, encourage us to drink up, and later to gulp down shots. There are resident DJs who blast out synthesiser music, and we drink and dance together while intermittently convening in break-out rooms to be taught skills that might help us to live and to party after an imagined Armageddon.

Most of these are tongue-in-cheek, with one lesson in self-defence teaching us how to turn keys and pens into weapons against an assailant. Others feel like a craft-making session from Blue Peter, with demos on how to make party poppers from a balloon and an empty toilet roll, or paper flowers (newspaper, Sellotape and an elastic band).

Barrett and Mari offer philosophical snippets about life and death in the interludes between the organised revels. We are told to close our eyes and imagine ourselves together. They advise us on how to stop recurring nightmares, and leave dark thoughts to hover in the air: What do we fear? That we will be forgotten? That we knew it was not what we wanted to do but we never had the courage to change? We will all die. What sort of world will we build? These sober reflections come unexpectedly and have the potential to go deeper, but the scenario switches too soon and suddenly.

The show seems to deliberately work against building a cohesive narrative and veers away from becoming too serious. It is a picknmix bag of fun and frolics. There is a long dance at the end, which has the feel of a silent disco we are a collective body yet still in our own isolated worlds. There is a welcome relief in coming together this way, though the virtual hedonism, for all its fun, has a melancholy side too.

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Party Skills for the End of the World review a wild night out without leaving the sofa - The Guardian

The 500 home tasting menu from Hedonism and Hide: is it worth it for a birthday or anniversary? – Telegraph.co.uk

As a very welcome contrast to the past few weeks, the only cooking I had to do was to heat the main course on defrost for one minute in the microwave, and put the baked Alaska in the fridge while we ate the rest of the meal.

There was an element of shyness around the laptop screen as we started with a toast ofthe pink champagne and dipped into Dabbous first starter which was strawberries, avocado, basil and pistachios in a chilled pine broth.

But Sarrasin kept things going with lots of information about the wine and food pairings, and the more gourmet of our new dinner companions chipped in with their own tasting notes and suggestions for wines that could also have worked well with the dishes.

Following the broth, Dabbous had provided a scallop tartare with Exmoor caviar and then a breast of cornfed chicken poached in Champagne with sptzle and black truffle.

We ate the first courses out of the bowls they had arrived in - not wanting to tip the scallop out to dislodge its hearty dollop of caviar. But we served the chicken off our own china and I preferred that in the end.

As we gradually got to know our fellow diners, we discovered that one couple was celebrating an anniversary, another a 50th birthday. They were from around the world, from South Africa to South America, but the thing everyone had in common was a love of delicious wine and a desire to make the evening feel special.

By the time wed arrived at the port and pudding, wed all resolved to recreate the evening in the flesh when lockdown is over.

As Sarrasin said, these are very tough times for restaurants and their employees. It is clearly our moral duty to support them as best we can. And if that means a Michelin-starred feast at home, Im all for it.

Hedonism and Hide at Home dinner, 500 for two. Dates of upcoming tastings will be released at hedonism.co.uk or to be added to the waiting list customers can call +44 (0) 207 290 7871 or email events@hedonism.co.uk

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The 500 home tasting menu from Hedonism and Hide: is it worth it for a birthday or anniversary? - Telegraph.co.uk

China: victory over coronavirus will be heralded as boost for Xi Jinping’s brand of Marxism – The Conversation UK

In the run-up to Chinas 13th National Peoples Congress (NPC) on May 22, the chairman of its Standing Committee, Li Zhanshu, said how important it was that the session was being held in the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic. Li remarked the session was being held at a time when overseas COVID-19 epidemic situations remain grim and complex, while in China major strategic achievements have been made.

Such differentiation between China and the rest of the world is likely to become more prominent in Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rhetoric as the nations success is attributed to its socialist political system. The English version of the Peoples Daily commented in its coverage of the NPC that foreigners will be looking to Chinas socialist system for enlightenment and guidance as they emerge from the shadow of the pandemic.

The CCP is now proclaiming its success over COVID-19 as a victory for President Xi Jinpings brand of Marxism.

Read more: China's new coronavirus recovery strategy explained

Early in the war against coronavirus, it was predicted that the CCP would be one of the most high-profile casualties. But rumours of the CCPs demise were premature. As China deployed an increasingly vast and sophisticated surveillance system, the pandemic has accelerated the partys authority and control, not caused it to crumble.

While many countries declared war on COVID-19, China stressed it was a Peoples War. Such an analogy recalls the rhetoric of Mao Zedong, who called for a Peoples War to liberate China from the Imperial Japanese in 1938.

By talking about the pandemic in the same language, Xi identified the magnitude of the threat posed by COVID-19. But he also signified that the war would be waged according to the spirit, ideology and beliefs of the CCP and in an effort infused with Chinese socialist characteristics. Victory in this war will be a vindication of Xis Marxist strategy.

As a researcher of the uses of contemporary Marxism in bolstering ideas of citizen obligation and state legitimacy, Im looking at how China channels revolutionary analogies. Seventy years after the founding of the Peoples Republic,Xi has been notable in his efforts to re-establish Marxism at the heart of Chinese politics.

One of the key rationales Xi gives for the strengthening of Marxism is that the ideology can restore Chinas social cohesion. This is required to address the ills of hedonism, extravagance and corruption which have infected China as an inevitable result of opening up to the West.

As China recovers, its success in containing the virus is being put down to the devotion and solidarity of the people. Such claims are not unfounded: a WHO-China joint mission report particularly praised the Chinese peoples solidarity and collective action during the pandemic. Such praise for solidarity will doubtless vindicate Xis efforts in creating a more cohesive and collectively minded populace.

Read more: The urban history that makes China's coronavirus lockdown possible

Xi consistently asserts that Chinese leadership is guided by Marxisms scientific truth. An ambiguous term, Xi often explains this approach as one that uses Marxist theory to identify the best way to solve practical challenges. As the CCP deploys a mix of advanced technology and traditional socialist organisational models to tackle COVID-19, this will doubtless exemplify such practical use of Marxism.

Successfully tackling the outbreak is vital for the CCPs domestic legitimacy. Since the early years of the Peoples Republic of China, the promise of eradicating disease and improving the health of all has been at the centre of communist propaganda. Such focus has created an inextricable link between health and Chinese politics. Given this link, the war against COVID-19 was of vital importance for the CCPs legitimacy.

Nonetheless, the global nature of the pandemic means that the success China has will also be judged in relation to how other countries, especially Western liberal states, handle the crisis.

Chinese state media claimed Chinas low death rate relative to other hard-hit countries was due to the superiority of socialist Chinas institutional framework. Such assertions have been made in the context of an ideological war with the West, stressing the benefits of Chinese socialism in relation to the weaknesses of Western capitalism.

In the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily, this political message was explicit: COVID-19 should make the people of Hong Kong, who have long been under the influence of Western ideology, recognise the benefits of the alternative socialist system.

In Marxist philosophy, progress comes through conflict. Chinese officials have evoked such belief, quoting Friedrich Engels in particular to claim that Comrade Xis new era will emerge stronger from its struggle with COVID-19. The CCP is already in the process of drafting a book to be published in multiple languages showcasing the key role of the CCP and Chinas socialist system in defeating the virus.

Rather than causing communist China to crumble, the virus will likely serve as a catalyst in Xis bid to present his brand of Marxism as a challenge to the global capitalist system.

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China: victory over coronavirus will be heralded as boost for Xi Jinping's brand of Marxism - The Conversation UK

Virtual gigs a noble initiative, but . . . – sundaymail.co.zw

The Sunday Mail

PRAYER is always part of our daily life, especially before leaving home and after returning safely.

It is something that we need to do as often as possible for the mercy the Almighty continues to show us despite our numerous transgressions.

A hedonists life depends on a strict code involving the relentless pursuit of pleasure and sensual self-indulgence.

But believe it or not, hedonism, though satisfying, is dicier than some of the duties performed by our esteemed security services. The pursuit of happiness always leads to places where you are unwelcome at times or get to mingle with people that have a bone to pick with you.

In most cases, you are in the dark and will only get a rude awakening.

The confrontations are seldom peaceable.

Talk of occupational hazards!

Protection from foes is one of the reasons we believe in the power of prayer.

However, we have of late been earnestly praying for Covid-19 to disappear.

We miss our real live shows!

Perhaps let us start by commending the brains behind all the recent live studio acts that are currently screening on the national broadcaster and various other online platforms.

The shows have given the public, both within and outside our borders, something to cheer about in this Covid-19-induced lockdown. Insofar as the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation-Television (ZTV) is concerned, at least viewers are having an opportunity to watch some fresh content.

ZTV, as we highlighted a few weeks back, is in the habit of repeating the same programme(s) up to a point where one can recite word-for-word most of the lines in the productions.

This applies to both locally and internationally sourced programmes.

Anyway, that is not the agenda of the day.

While the live studio shows are exposing artistes to a much wider audience and generating online traffic/viewership for handlers, they are still far from satiating real show-goers cravings for gigs.

There is a big difference between these on-screen gigs and our traditional live shows the ones that remain banned by the ongoing lockdown measures.

The studio milieu just does not bring the best live act zeal in artistes that are used to perform in front of bumper crowds.

Probably this explains why sungura king Alick Macheso gave a subdued act one that is not even a quarter of his known capacity on one of the studio sets, or why Jah Signal did not deliver his trademark euphoria jump.

The studio acts concept can work perfectly for sound movements like Judgement Yard that make use of DJs and an MC or some of the dancehall acts that make use of backtracks. There is a reason why our kind is prepared to endure cold nights at live gigs.

A reason that can never be found on television or online.

I never knew Mhere (Mathias) has such a solid act, confessed Mai Panashe during Mheres lockdown performance.

And indeed, thousands, if not millions of people, are witnessing some of these artistes perform live for the first time.

This is a group that is certainly enjoying this initiative more.

But for some of us, we realise pane zviri kushota (there is a missing link).

The energy that drives artistes in front of crowds is not easy to create in front of cameras and studio lighting alone.

Some of us have resorted to making use of video albums (DVDs) or live recordings of gigs on YouTube and various other social media platforms to quench our longing for the real deal.

The videos are way better than most of the current live studio gigs that appear too artificial.

We continue praying that God gets rid of this pandemic for us.

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Virtual gigs a noble initiative, but . . . - sundaymail.co.zw

Metallica, Megadeth and Def Leppard guitar techs discuss survival on the road and life 20 feet away from stardom – Guitar World

Metallicas members performed more than enough hijinks and shenanigans to earn their reputation for alcohol-fuelled hedonism. For the past 16 years, Chad Zaemisch has been along for that ride - just dont count on him for too many debauched stories from the road.

While James Hetfield is playing the opening riffs to Nothing Else Matters or Master of Puppets to thousands of adoring fans, Zaemisch is the guy who made sure the guitar was set up, restrung and in tune, that the ever-evolving amp and effects rig was in order, that the wireless system isnt pulling a Nigel Tufnel and that the metal god is, in general, a happy deity.

Zaemisch is one of the all-too-often anonymous guitar techs, a profession that is done best when nobody in a gigantic audience realizes he exists. Going by stereotypes perpetuated by pop-culture oddities like 1980 comedy Roadie (a forgotten film whose unbelievable cast includes Meat Loaf, Alice Cooper, Roy Orbison and Blondie) or the Tenacious D song of the same name, life running the backline is a cycle of shlepping amps and then partying till you puke.

The reality, according to Zaemisch, is far more mundane. On Metallicas recent summer tour, his day started at 9 a.m. to load in and didnt stop until well after tens of thousands of fans had filtered out of the venue.

By that time, it can be 11:30 or 12 at night. It can be a little hard to wind down after all that excitement and work and that level of energy, he says. Next thing you know it, its 2 a.m. and youre thinking about having to get up at 7:30 so youd better try and get some sleep.

As with rock stars, its a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll. But for guitar techs, its also a path marked by insane hours, lots of manual labor and constant, tedious re-stringing. Its not for everybody, but helpers to some of rocks biggest names told Guitar World the truth about life 20 feet away from stardom.

For somebody whose life revolves around guitars and guitar accessories, it comes as a surprise that Zaemisch started off as a drummer. While his mom taught him a few guitar chords, he focused on the skins, playing in bands through high school and eventually drifting through a few jazz classes.

A course in sound engineering led to a revelation - a life was possible that combined the creative and technical aspects of creating music. Drawn by the energy of live performances, he started working live sound.

I wanted to tour, I wanted to get out and see the country and whatever else I could see

I wanted to tour, I wanted to get out and see the country and whatever else I could see, he says. That was sort of my path to doing that.

During a stint with one company around 1993, he met a fellow roadie gearing up to work on an upcoming Lollapalooza tour. They passed along word that '90s alternative rockers the Breeders were looking for a guitar tech. Zaemisch once ran the bands monitors, so the gig seemed like the perfect fit.

The festival turned out to be a perfect networking opportunity. On the road, he met people working for the Breeders management. Another of their clients, Hole, were looking for a guitar tech and they turned to Zaemisch.

You tour, you meet people and work with people, you can find other bands through management companies or friends or people you know, he says. Thats how you get a lot of the not-so-serious people weeded out as you start working for bigger and bigger bands.

The connections soon paid off in a big way. While Zaemisch was on tour with Garbage, Kirk Hammetts longtime tech Justin Crew came aboard as a fill-in drum tech. The pair hit it off.

We got along famously - we had a good time working together and had a lot of laughs, Zaemisch says. It was a few years later where I saw Justin, I think I was filling in for him with Tori Amos. He said, James let his guitar tech go last night. I said, Well, put my name in the hat, and he did.

Zaemisch ended up being shortlisted and was soon flown out to California to meet with Hetfield. He asked me about who I was and what I had done and what my philosophies were. It was the first job interview Id been on in probably 20 years or something. It was a little nerve wracking. They called me half an hour later and said, Youre hired; James likes you.

Zaemischs band-hopping experience isnt unique. While hes now exclusively on the Metallica payroll, other techs jump from tour to tour, looking to keep the income coming in when the band theyve been working for takes a break or is in the studio. Take Willie Gee, a self-described jaded, grouchy, boring roadie whose career has been anything but boring.

Over the course of several decades, if a band plays guitars and has long hair, Ive either worked for them or toured with them, he says, adding with a laugh, I also worked with Black Eyed Peas.

if a band plays guitars and has long hair, Ive either worked for them or toured with them

Most famously, he spent years teching for Megadeths Dave Mustaine but also did time with Anthrax and Slayer. As we speak, hes prepping for a Whitesnake tour, though hes run into some slight roadblocks. Hes having a headache of a time dealing with a late shipment of a pickguard. This comes after another snafu involving late picks. Things like this tend to happen. Im just cursed, he jokes.

Despite, or possibly because of, his history of misfortune, Willie Gee has learned some pretty valuable lessons about how to survive on the road, especially with a boss as notoriously prickly as Mustaine. Rule one: Understand who your boss is so you can anticipate their needs.

People say, How did you work for Megadeth for so long? I say, You guys never met my family. Ive been around crazy a long time. I can deal with a lot of different or extreme personalities because Ive been around it my entire life, he explains. But I also happened to be a Megadeth fan. By the time I started working for them I was really well versed in his entire catalog.

David Bernson, who has worked for everyone from Jewel to Paramore to Adele to the Offspring, sees himself partially as a therapist whose ultimate task is keeping their artists head in the game: As a guitar tech, no matter who youre working for, one of the most important things is to be able to give them the confidence they need to be comfortable on stage and put on a performance in front of 20 to 100,000 people, he says.

As that persons tech, youre the first person between that person and the rest of the world. If theyre having an issue with anything, someone in the audience, a personal issue, youre the only one that directly communicates with them. Being able to keep them happy and in the state of mind they need to be in is more important than the actual music being played.

Aside from amateur psychologist, there are a wide array of technical skills needed. Gee was well equipped to take on his first tour in the mid-'90s, having spent years tinkering with guitars and pedals at home; he was recruited by a buddy for that first tour partially because of his skill with a soldering iron. Staying up to date on the latest tech can be a challenge by itself.

Gee says that while hes still hoping to master more of his job by attending a luthier school, hes picked up a lot of knowledge by watching peers while they work. He recalls watching a tech for Slipknot rebuild a blown-out amp head using spare parts and having the rig ready to go by showtime, with nobody the wiser about the brush with catastrophe.

Ive got an insane amount of guitars. The amount of gear I have makes some people nervous, he says. Id work on my own things mostly out of curiosity or not being able to afford to get someone whos more qualified to do it. By trial and error, you figure some things out. I ask a lot of questions and read a lot of magazines.

You have to figure out what they need as an artist and how to accomplish what they need to do in the show

Having spent a few years with Journeys Neil Schon before joining up with Alex Lifeson of Rush, techie Scott Appleton now finds himself helping out Def Leppard. Learning the intricacies of new rigs is part of the challenge that keeps the job fulfilling. Thats the challenge - you have to get inside another guitar players head, he says.

There are obviously basic things every guitar player needs, but you still have to figure out what they need as an artist and how to accomplish what they need to do in the show.

Those minutiae can take some time to learn - while some players are ready to rock as long as they have an instrument in their hand, others can be picky about how each guitar is set up, what kind of tubes they have in their heads, how a pedalboard is organized.

Theres a lot of what they like as a setup on their instruments. Are you heavy handed or a light touch? Do you like the action high or action low? Appleton says. Then you get into small things like where do you want picks on stage or what kind of beverage do you want?

Good techs also need to be able to multitask. Once a band is on stage, a tech could find him- or herself replacing a broken string or retuning a guitar for the next song while still needing to focus on the current song as they handle their boss patching and effects switching. Bernson says just learning the material well enough to be an offstage part of the performance can be a challenge.

Its different with each band. When I walked into Trans-Siberian Orchestra, they didnt tell me I had to do that, so I had no preparation at all. I had to learn the songs and I wrote charts for myself of where I needed to hit distortion, he says. I learned songs while I was rehearsing. I messed up a few times before the show but by the time the show was there, I nailed it.

With gigs coming and going at a rapid pace, some guitar techs find themselves becoming generalists, equally able to help out a bassist or drummer. Aside from the guitarists hes worked for, Bernson has also been the long-running bass tech to No Doubts Tony Kanal. But while hes gained a lot of technical knowledge, he says the skill thats most important to longevity in the job is simple, yet elusive for some people: knowing how to not be a jerk.

Youre living on a tour bus with 12 guys. Youre in a different city or country every day, dealing with the technical side of things live. In outdoor venues you can be freezing cold one day or rainy and hot the next day, and maintaining instruments with those weather changes is a challenge, he says.

When youre on a tour, youre in a bubble. You see the same people every day and you get to know people very quickly. A lot of my friends, even if I only toured with them for a year, it feels like youve known them for 10 years.

Ive seen a few guys over the years that think they can play better than the guy in the band, which has nothing to do with anything.

Being nice enough to not openly spit in your bus-mates faces is one thing. Its another thing to remember your role - something that can be difficult for some when theyre so close to the spotlight. Because of the nature of the job, techs tend to be musicians themselves.

Gee spent time in wedding bands before hitting the road, while both Appleton and Bernson were touring musicians before turning to the tech life. People who cant put aside their own dreams of stardom can fizzle out in a hurry.

Ive seen guitar techs who are frustrated musicians, and it is not a good place to be, Zaemisch says. Ive seen a few guys over the years that think they can play better than the guy in the band, which has nothing to do with anything.

For guitar nuts who think they can get along in that kind of selfless position, a career as a tech might sound appealing. But just as a wannabe musician can find themselves puzzled about how to get their career started, it also can be overwhelming to consider how you go from adjusting intonation at home to getting paid to do the same thing for Hetfield.

Zaemisch says aspiring techs should come ready to work, and that means being properly equipped. When youve figured out a likely band that needs a tech, go work for them and be prepared - be the guy with the extra set of strings, a spare 9-volt battery and some reasonable expectations of what awaits you.

Ive seen a lot of people start at the local level and know people who are in the bands you like in your area, he says. Go try and work for them and try and see whos up and coming and going places. Try and get involved with them at the starter position, which might include setting up all the gear by yourself and driving the van and selling merch. If thats what you want to do, you gotta pay your dues.

The one thing a tech knows at the start of every tour is that theres an end date. Eventually, everybody has to go home. While it could be easy to get sick of guitars after months focusing solely on the technical aspects of the instrument, some techs still find joy in sitting down with a six-string once theyre off the bus.

Bernson gigs with a rockabilly band when hes off the road and Gee says he still gets joy from messing around with his gear. Zaemisch rebuilds old motorcycles and cars to relax, but he tries to spend as much time as possible with his family. The very nature of the job makes maintaining family ties incredibly difficult; Bernson says he never thought hed get engaged - until he met his fiancee, a wardrobe coordinator, while working on an Adele tour.

It weighs more heavily on some people than others, Gee says. I cant jam with any friends, I cant be in a band because nobody wants the guy whos never around in the band. I cant have a dog. Theres certain things you take for granted.

When the show is over and everything went well and the gear is packed up in the truck, its satisfying to see 75,000 people leave with smiles on their faces

Its not an easy path - as Gee says half-jokingly when asked for advice for those looking to follow in his footsteps, Other than looking for something else, you mean?! Its an often thankless role, where your boss gets all the glory and youre left to do whatever it is that needs to be done to keep them happy.

Youre the technician, sometimes youre the bartender, youre the psychiatrist, youre the babysitter, youre the bodyguard. I call myself the finder of impossible objects, Gee says.

But even after decades of endless restringing, carrying heavy amps and a zillion bus rides, Zaemisch says its still worth it to be part of something great.

There are some people that have larger egos that are fueled by being with the band. When the show is over and everything went well and the gear is packed up in the truck, its satisfying to see 75,000 people leave with smiles on their faces, he says. Youre part of the whole experience. If youre a fan of music in general, its really satisfying. Besides, I couldnt handle an office job.

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Metallica, Megadeth and Def Leppard guitar techs discuss survival on the road and life 20 feet away from stardom - Guitar World

The Chattanooga Film Festival: RED, WHITE & WASTED – The Role Of Florida Will Be Played By Florida – Birth.Movies.Death.

You have to see it to believe it, and you still might not believe it.

By Evan Saathoff May. 25, 2020

RED, WHITE & WASTED begins with its primary subject, Matthew Burns, dumpster diving in the shadow of Disney World with his two daughters, looking for scrap metal he can later sell. One daughter gets hungry when she smells pizza in the trash while Matthew marvels over an unused credit card swiper like he just found a brick of gold. If this were fiction, youd accuse it of being way too on the nose. Instead it is a documentary, telling you right off the top what your next ninety minutes will look like.

There are no good people in the film, but Burns is the easiest to watch. A near-perfect mixture of Geoffrey Lewis and Dana Carvey, Burns sad eyes and soft-spoken demeanor automatically make him the most likable of anyone else we see, despite still being awful. He also centers the films two very vague stories: the eradication of his beloved Florida mud holes and the birth of his first grandkid.

With this mudding stuff, you might think the documentary will offer insight into a subculture filled with nuance and rules people outside of it just dont understand. Documentaries do this all the time. But thats not this film. Directors Andrei Bowden-Schwartz and Sam Jones have no interest in this Florida pastime except as an extreme example of redneck hedonism. From Burns perspective, the act of taking big trucks into muddy swamp areas and getting drunk with friends has fallen downhill since modernity barred him and his friends from doing this stuff on private property. Now young people do it on a much larger scale in sanctioned spots, but the events have supposedly devolved into a sea of white trash sex, drugs and violence. He does not make a strong case that anything of importance was lost or that it wasnt a sea of white trash sex, drugs and violence to begin with. At times he comes very close to realizing this but never quite gets there.

It can be difficult to take the film at face value because the interview subjects speak as though every sentence is dialog in a comedy written by someone who hates them. Mudding is not some cherished pastime but a stupid thing enjoyed by stupid people. The films most frequent topic is not mudding at all but the values of being a redneck and why this or that racist view does not make this or that person racist. We get a lot of guns, a lot of talk about Lord Trump, and a lot of twerking.

I cant speak for the filmmakers, but there doesnt seem to be any search for hidden value amongst the subjects of RED, WHITE & WASTED. We are invited to look in terrified awe at the America represented here, not find ways to relate to fellow human beings. But at ninety minutes, it becomes an exercise in tedium. Person after person self-seriously offering the most perfectly ironic proof of their own idiocy, occasionally cutting to a SPRING BREAKERS-level montage of redneck partying. The ugliness of it all - with no hints of redemption or humanity hiding under all the rebel flag posturing - grows wearisome. The point, made nice and loud in the films opening minutes, never evolves into anything bigger, so youre just stuck stewing in the pessimism until it finally ends. It doesnt strike me as valuable or worthwhile. Youre not learning anything, and its not entertaining. Mostly you go through feelings of disgust and fear, followed by guilt for even watching.

The film concludes with Matthew Burns wearing the Confederate flag andtaping a homemade music video of him singing Hank Williams Jr.s A Country Boy Can Survive. Its impossible not to recall TIGER KING, which seems like a Disney production by comparison. The thing is, TIGER KING had a story. It was filled with wild people who occupied a strange subculture we got to know and upon which the real world eventually intervened (sort of). RED, WHITE & WASTED doesnt have any of this. Its just a worst-case-scenario look at America in its present form, and I feel like I get enough of that on the news already.

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The Chattanooga Film Festival: RED, WHITE & WASTED - The Role Of Florida Will Be Played By Florida - Birth.Movies.Death.

What Is a Chunky Dunky, and Why Is It $1,600? – GQ

So, another theory: the Chunky Dunkys success is due less to its specific design or quantity than its lineage. Nikes last eye-poppingly popular release was the Travis Scott Dunk that peaked at $1,522 on StockX. Scotts shoe was also an SB Dunk designed without restraintthe shoe brazenly mixed plaid and bandana prints. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it shot to the top of every sneakerheads wishlist. Forget the design, thoughwhat might matter most is its designation as a Dunk. Because so far, 2020 has been the year of the Dunk: beyond Scotts and Ben & Jerrys, to name just a few, Nikes released the green-and-yellow Brazils, a collaboration with Comme des Garons, and a pair of collegiate editions that borrow colors from Syracuse and Kentucky. There's been this massive reemergence around the SB Dunk and particularly the SB Dunk Lows, and obviously Travis was a big part of that, says Luber. If it had been reversed, if [the Chunky Dunky] came out before [Scotts] Dunk, then this one probably wouldn't be as big. In other words: the Dunk is being groomed for success, and the Chunky Dunky is the latest and biggest beneficiary of that process.

And the Dunks rise is connected to a broader shift in the kinds of sneakers we love. The reason why the Dunk has always been this canvas for great designs, and is such an iconic shoe, is the same reason the Jordan 1 is: it's just very, very wearable, says Luber. He points out that later Jordan models, and even the Kobes that are very popular among pro basketball players today, look like athletic shoesand basketball shoes now comprise less than 4% of athletic shoe sales, compared to 13% in 2014, according to NPD data. Dunks, on the other hand, have universal appealand their popularity in the early aughts makes them ripe for a comeback. Nike is king at picking winners by selling a story, bringing back a shoe like the Dunk from the graveyard, and catering to a consumer who buys shoes based on pop culture versus athlete recognition, explains influential sneaker reseller Corgishoe.

Im willing to admit that the shoes success may be a mystery only to me, the old man screaming at Ben & Jerrys idyllic blue skies. All those kooky colors, Corgishoe says, are carefully calibrated to work together: Strictly in terms of design, Corgishoe says, the shoe is executed incredibly well. (Still, he notes: As an adult male of a certain age, he adds, I would never consider wearing them.) Luber is a fan, too. In todays crowded social media-driven sneaker era, no shoe travels as far as an instantly recognizable one.

But maybe the appeal of the Chunky Dunky is even simpler. Ive pounded a carton or two of Phish Food in my dayso I guess I should understand that, when it comes Ben & Jerrys, immoderation to the point of hedonism is kind of the whole point.

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What Is a Chunky Dunky, and Why Is It $1,600? - GQ

Opinion: We need to unify against insurance companies that won’t pay out – Imbibe

Despite paying 300,000 in insurance per annum, Tatiana Fokina, CEO of Hide restaurant and Hedonism Wines finds her insurer of eight years unwilling to pay out over coronavirus. She tells Imbibe why hospitality businesses like hers shouldnt give up

Do you want to ask questions or shall I just rant? asks Fokina when we speak about her experience claiming insurance following the closure of Mayfair's Hide due to lockdown.

Having paid 300,000 a year in insurance to the same insurer over eight years, and having never had to claim during that time, we never doubted wed be covered, she says.

That certainty has been shaken since she first contacted her insurers, whom she is declining to name for now, on 17 March.

We said, Look its obvious we are going to be closed imminently and feel there will be a claim for business interruption. It took until 24 April to get any kind of response from them. I just find this appalling.

During that time, official advice was changing all the time, things were very uncertain and we were trying to work out what we were going to do, above all else, for our 200 staff bearing in mind the furlough scheme at this point wasnt in place. Could we keep any of them on? What were the resources we had? To be kept in limbo for so long was terrible.

Having chased on several occasions, once the claim had been denied on 24 April, the decision was taken to instruct lawyers to pursue the case.

We all need to have a definitive answer on certain wording in certain policies, she says. The claim for Hide is around a clause concerning the actions of competent authorities, which essentially means the police closing you down due to an incident. The dispute here is whether that incident has to be local or not.

Id far rather be spending money on topping up furlough wages than legal bills.

I think hospitality needs to speak with a unified voice on this and its important to share information as well, so wed be happy to share learnings from our experience and any details. I know theres a larger group of operators who are looking at taking joint action on this. Wed already instructed our lawyers before that all happened so are continuing down this path at the moment, though I dont rule out joining them in the future.

What would really help operators like Fokina, of course, would be for the government to put pressure on insurers to pay out. That would result in less pressure on the furlough scheme and far more job security for thousands of workers, Fokina points out.

For now she is working on the assumption there will be no pay out. As we also have Hedonism Wines, which has been able to continue to operate, we are in a far better position than most others. Without that the future for us would look far more glum but Id far rather be spending money on topping up furlough wages than legal bills.

In any event, Hides policy is up for renewal in a few months and Fokina says she will almost certainly be looking for a new insurer.

It will be very interesting when this is all over, as people will be looking at how insurance companies reacted during this crisis and how they treated their customers. That will be a defining factor in which companies people choose to go with in the future.

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Opinion: We need to unify against insurance companies that won't pay out - Imbibe

Zombies, Blaxploitation and Heavy Metal, Now Available to Stream – Nashville Scene

Heavy Metal Parking Lot

I hope youve found a way to figure out how to manage and express your emotions during this global crisis. This weeks offerings share a common theme of outrageousness. Nothing is sacred, and all emotional responses can be useful in figuring out the absolute moral truth of yourself (or as I call it, Mulholland Drive Syndrome). Check out this week's recommendations, along with links to trailers, below. Stay safe if you can, and visit past issues for more recommendations of what to stream:March 26, April 2, April 9, April 16, April 23, April 30, May 7, May 14.

One of the most essential and beloved documents of suburban 80s culture, Heavy Metal Parking Lot is a slice of life in the Landover, Md., Capital Centre parking lot before a 1986 Judas Priest concert. Its a portrait of humanity that never fails to entertain, to endear and to induce cringe. This is the joy of metal, and hedonism, and the power of power chords, and it has rightfully become immortal. Its also a trenchant illumination of Reagan-era white America that provokes necessary questions for the viewer watching with a critical eye. Its the sound of addled youth communing with their pleasure centers underneath the yoke of the daily fear of nuclear annihilation. Its also a testament to Rob Halfords power as a (then-closeted) icon who moved hearts and bodies in the midst of the AIDS pandemic, during which the emotionally lazy ignored an entire community to death with homophobia. Heavy Metal Parking Lot is all of that, but its also a great deal of fun, and if you havent found some kind of fashion inspiration whether a do or a dont by the time it winds up, then as your film-critic abstract friend, Im concerned.

Blood Quantum

Theres a worldwide outbreak of degenerative zombiism, and the only place where civilization is entrenched and resistance against the shredding, flesh-eating menace is holding is in a Mikmaq reservation in Canada. Something about the genetic markers in this plague have left First Nations peoples immune to this bite-borne pathogen, and so hordes of rampaging white zombies are out to destroy and consume everything. Director Jeff Barnaby made the singular Rhymes for Young Ghouls back in 2013, and he has a gift for artfully visceral mayhem as well as expressing the social history of indigenous people in a way that feels like an expos and an exorcism at the same time. If at times Blood Quantum slips into nihilistic Walking Dead-adjacent territory, it remains an essential horror film that gives the viewer unexplored angles on a scenario we think has been done to death. The first half-hour of this film is close to perfect, and it serves up gore and bleak atmosphere with style and verve. This was one of the secret surprises at the Belcourts 12 Hours of Terror overnight horror marathon in October, and it knocked the theater on its emotional ass.

Darktown Strutters is a legendary blaxploitation sci-fi musical allegory that deserves all the trigger warnings and content warnings despite having a playful and sweet spirit at its depraved core (and a 1975 PG rating, which can mean absolutely anything). The fact that this movie is even available to stream is staggering. Syreena (Trina Parks), leader of a Frazetta-ish motorcycle gang, is out to rescue her mother Cinderella (Frances E. Nealy) from a deranged and racist fast-food entrepreneur and his plantation fantasies. Along the way, there are pie fights with the police, car chases with the KKK, funk throwdowns, imprisoned R&B groups, a science-fiction conspiracy and amazing outfits that will inspire your deepest sartorial dreams. Darktown is for anyone who saw Blazing Saddles and thought, Are there any other movies that do this? With Frankie Crocker, The Dramatics and Dick Miller!

Petey Wheatstraw, the Devils Son-in-Law

The cinematic legacy of Rudy Ray Moore is thankfully within reach for pandemic-era streaming culture. The original Dolemite endures as a testament to persistence and recognizing an unfulfilled audience, but sometimes its OK to want a little more from the films you enjoy when it comes to narrative intricacy. The end result can often be something like Petey Wheatstraw, the Devils Son-in-Law. A riff on the story of Faust that also at times feels like a takedown of The Devil Went Down to Georgia, this film finds our murdered protagonist Petey pledging to wed the devils daughter in order to avenge himself (and the massacre of his funeral party) with the power of Satans pimp cane. Theres an army of kung fu demons, children in crisis, a punishing audition sequence and surrealist exercises of supernatural power. Its pretty awesome. And if you havent seen Dolemite Is My Name on Netflix, then you really should.

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Zombies, Blaxploitation and Heavy Metal, Now Available to Stream - Nashville Scene

An A to Z of old words to calm and inspire hope – The Guardian

Like language, our emotions are universal and whatever fears and anxieties we are now experiencing, someone else in centuries gone by has felt the same way. Here is an A-Z of archaic and forgotten words that at some point in the past exactly described an elusive sense of peace, calm and delight. So, if you want to know your agathism from your euneirophrenia, read on and draw comfort from these linguistic oddities

Agathism Its hard to be an optimist knowing that there are tough times ahead. But in lieu of optimism, theres always agathism a word coined in 1830 for the belief that all things eventually get better, though the means by which they do is not always easy. It is a word to remind us that though we may be in for hard times, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Bummel Our daily constitutional neednt be an exhausting run around the block. Derived from a German word for strolling, a bummel is nothing more than a relaxing leisurely walk or wander.

Concubium Adopted into English from Latin in the 1600s, the concubium is the soundest, calmest, deepest part of your sleep. That time of night when all men are at rest, as one 17th-century dictionary put it.

Dolorifuge Whatever it is that makes you happy, that is your dolorifuge: this 19th-century term describes anything or anyone that alleviates feelings of pain or sadness.

Euneirophrenia One of the strangest side-effects of our curtailed routines at the moment is that our brains are working overtime while we sleep, so the word euneirophrenia might come in useful. It describes the wholly pleasing feeling you have on waking from an equally pleasant dream.

Focillation Derived from the Latin for nourish, a focillation is a momentary act of comfort or refreshment. Take it as a reminder that it is perfectly fine to take some time out, whenever you need it.

Glee-dream If you find solace in films or music, or find that youre dearly missing the theatre or cinema, the word you are looking for is glee-dream. The modern form of the Old English gleodream, the Oxford English Dictionary defines this as delight of minstrelsy that is, the pleasure that comes from a musical performance or similar entertainment.

Heterocentric How we all should and, thankfully, how a great many of us currently are living our lives: if youre heterocentric then youre more concerned with other people than you are yourself.

Interfulgent A fitting metaphor for the triumph of light in dark times. Derived from the Latin word for shining, something that is interfulgent shines through or between that which would otherwise obscure it as sunshine through clouds or the leaves of trees.

Jamb-friend A jamb is a supporting timber, of course, which makes a jamb-friend an early 19th-century word for a friend with whom you could quite happily sit by a fireside talking and relaxing well into the early hours.

Kaffeeklatsch Borrowed from German in the 1800s, a kaffeeklatsch is a chattering catch-up with friends and family over endless cups of coffee. Its a lot more poetic than the Victorian alternative: according to one contemporary dictionary, scandal-loving women who like to meet over a cup of tea were once known as muffin-wallopers.

Back in the 1600s, laetificate meant to lift someones spirits

Laetificate Its a word not much used since the 1600s, but its one you might need today or might be called on to offer to someone else. Quite simply, to laetificate is to lift someones spirits.

Meliorism George Eliot coined the word meliorism to define her outlook on life, once writing to the psychologist James Sully to explain that: I dont know that I ever heard anybody use the word meliorist except myself. Operating halfway between optimism and realism, meliorism is the belief that the world no matter what shape it may be in can always be improved by the concerted effort of mankind.

Nikhedonia Nike was the Greek goddess of victory. Hedone (as in hedonism) was a Greek word for pleasure. Put those two together and you have nikhedonia a term from psychology for the inspiring, adrenalin-raising excitement of anticipating a future success.

Omnibenevolence Just as an omnipotent person has power over everything, an omnibenevolent person exhibits kindness to everything and everyone. That endless, all-encompassing compassion is omnibenevolence.

Peeled-egg Were all guilty of worrying that the worst could suddenly befall us, but rarely imagine that something just as unexpectedly wonderful could take place. JRR Tolkien coined the word eucatastrophe to describe an unforeseen event of sheer good fortune, but the Scots beat him to it. First recorded in Scottish proverbs dating from the 1800s, a peeled-egg is: A stroke of good fortune which one has not had to strive for. It was once a popular name given to farms established on land with unanticipated natural advantages.

Queem Something described as queem is perfectly calm or serene or by extension, perfectly smooth and level. Queemness, likewise, can be used to describe perfect serenity, or perfect smoothness and levelness, while two things that work queemly with one another are either perfectly harmonious, or, like two parts of a joint, snug and well adapted to one another.

Adopted from French, retrouvailles literally means 'refinding'

Retrouvailles Adopted from French, retrouvailles literally means refinding but its more usually understood as the French equivalent of what we might call a reunion or homecoming. Recently the word came to be used more imaginatively to describe the utter happiness or joy sparked by reuniting or catching up with someone you havent seen in a long time. A word well worth recalling in the months ahead.

Supernaculum It might be a fine glass of wine or whisky or nothing more than a perfectly brewed and timed cup of tea. A supernaculum is a drink so appreciated that it is savoured to its very last drop.

Traumatropism A tree partly felled by gales or lightning can often continue growing albeit in some ever more unwieldy or implausible shape. That undeterred response to earlier damage is an example of a phenomenon called traumatropism. Taken literally, it reminds us that nature is stronger and more resilient than we could ever imagine; metaphorically, it tells us that harsh setbacks need not end our progress.

Unsoulclogged Its not the most handsome of words, but were all striving to be unsoulclogged. It is total contentment, peace of mind, and freedom from sadness and dejection or, as one 1881 dictionary defined it, the state of not being weighed down in spirit.

Villeggiatura When youre tired of the city or your usual routine, its time for a villeggiatura. Adopted into English from Italian in the 18th century, a villeggiatura is a restorative trip or holiday to the countryside, taken to lift the spirits and unwind the mind.

Worldcraft Ageing is hardly the most welcome of lifes certainties. But for every word to remind us of its drawbacks (to be eildencumbered is to be held back by age), there is one for its seldom considered positives. Worldcraft is an 18th-century word for the unmatched cumulative wisdom of an aged person whose long life has given them unique and much venerated insight far beyond anything a younger, less experienced person could ever imagine.

Xenodochy Hospitality offered to strangers. The prefix xeno comes from the Greek word for strange or foreign, but we only tend to encounter it today in xenophobia. Now seems an apt time to highlight one of its overlooked opposites.

Yahrsider We are all looking out for our yahrsiders at the moment. A dialect term from the 18th century, a yahrsider is someone from the same family or town as you, or who shares the same community spirit.

Zenobia A courageous and effective third-century queen of Palmyra, Zenobia expanded her kingdom into the almighty Palmyrene Empire, stretching from Ankara to Aswan. Her name has been adopted as a term for a powerful, unstoppably determined woman.

The Cabinet of Calm: Soothing Words for Troubled Times by Paul Anthony Jones (Elliott & Thompson, 12.99) is out now

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An A to Z of old words to calm and inspire hope - The Guardian

ICYMI: Gucci’s new art space in Seoul, Erykah Badu’s inventive social distancing measures, Alexander Wang’s DIY white t-shirt tutorials, and more -…

#StayingInWithAlex: Styling a white t-shirt

Since last month, Alexander Wang started an IGTV series where he invites another celebrity to share tutorials with him over a livestream and his viewers can join him. These tutorials featured personalities such as Alexa Demie with a glow-up makeup tutorial and Normani with a dance. One of the more prominent tutorials is his DIY White T-Shirts where he has done a three-part series. Check out the most recent one starring Taraji P. Henson.

P.S. While you're there, check out how Anna Kanyuk's incredibly long and agile legs come in handy when taking out trash.

A full hazmat suit with customised spray-painted logo of Louis Vuitton, it was the ultimate "social distancing couture" as Erykah Badu calls it. Paired with sky-high feather and fringe boots, Badu's fashion statement reached people's hearts since it was so relatable to the current pandemic situation. Hopefully, more will follow suit with her initiative to brighten up such dreadful times and show how high fashion can be an inspiring source of motivation.

No Space, Just A Place is a multi-layered project powered by Gucci to support the rich cultural landscape and contemporary art scene in Seoul. It is an independent and alternative art space for humans to relate to each other and to their surroundings, laying the foundation for the perspective on the act of "being together" while not being a single entity. Every project is thematically tied to the idea of the alternative spaces as a utopian place in which to set new empowering narratives, dwelling on the understanding of otherness, the exploration of minoritarian identities, and queer politics. In order to allow everyone to enjoy the exhibition despite the current situation, Gucci has uploaded a virtual tour of the exhibition with a voiceover audio guide in Korean by Gucci ambassador, Kai from EXO.

Summer arrives in breezy, warm shifts that see LOEWE's legendary basket bag transformed, encompassing a greater diversity of cultures and taking to the dedicated artisans from the countries of Morocco, Ecuador, and many more. The full Paula's Ibiza 2020 collection is completed with clothing, shoes, accessories, and fragrances. Fusing bohemian coastal dressing with playful prints, it captures the breezy spirit of the Balearics and celebrates a moment in time that saw the hedonism of these islands expand to influence subcultures across the world.

In support of children affected by COVID-19, LOEWE will be donating 40 to educational projects for every product sold in the Paula's Ibiza collection between May and August 2020, starting with an initial donation of 500,000. Shop Paula's Ibiza 2020 on LOEWE's website.

The Maison Chlo has committed to producing and supplying Paris hospitals with medical gowns with the help of several Atelier employees who have volunteered to support the project. They will also be donating fabrics to the Atelier Lazar Cuckovic who partnered with Paris hospitals in response to the continued shortage of medical gowns.

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ICYMI: Gucci's new art space in Seoul, Erykah Badu's inventive social distancing measures, Alexander Wang's DIY white t-shirt tutorials, and more -...

How digital clubbing became the saviour of queer nightlife during the coronavirus pandemic – i-D

On a mission to prove that nightlife is alive and well, our Clubbing Isn't Dead series explores the late night happenings of different cities, scenes and live-streamed video conference platforms.

As trivial as it sounds, one of the things I miss most about the halcyon age before coronavirus hit is the experience of going to clubs. The heat, the sweat, the proximity, borrowing a water bottle from a stranger and happily gulping down their saliva -- it all seems unimaginable now. Two weeks into the lockdown, I look back now and think of every time I left the club early as a tragic waste.

This is far from being a unique lament: as well as being a leisure activity, clubbing acts as an important pressure valve for lots of people -- something which I would argue is particularly true for queer people. Thankfully, a number of DJs and promoters have risen to the challenge of recreating the club experience within the new parameters we find ourselves in. Last Saturday, I decided to check out Club Quarantine, one of the indisputable leaders of the trend. Launched just last week by Torontonian DJ D-Nice, its already providing a vestige of hedonism for bored and locked-down queers across the world.

In its short existence, Club Quarantine has already hosted appearances from a diverse range of legends including Rihanna, Charli X, Bernie Sanders and, uh, Oprah (who interviewed DJ D-Nice afterwards). It wouldnt be an exaggeration at all to describe it as a genuine global phenomenon. Given that the LGBT+ community have always been at the forefront in developments in internet culture -- from early dating/ hook-up apps providing a template for their straight successors to the strong presence weve always had on social media -- its no surprise that queers are at the vanguard of coronavirus nightlife. Its a nice idea but, more importantly, is it actually fun?

Club Quarantine is broadcast over Zoom -- a video-chat platform designed for corporate meetings and working from home. Unlike the cheerier Houseparty, the interface of the app itself has a chilly corporate aesthetic which seems ill-fitting for an untrammelled night of decadence. When you log in, you can see yourself in a little box on the top of the screen and if you click on a grid you can see a segment of everyone else whos tuned in. The main screen is alternately streaming the DJ and people chosen at random. Knowing you can be seen by other people feels surprisingly exposing, but not entirely in a bad way -- the simple fact of being on display gave me a kind of energy boost. This is the chief difference from simply watching a stream or a Boiler Room set on YouTube -- you feel less stupid dancing alone than you would do dancing to a stream. Maybe it simply appeals to a narcissistic desire to show off for an audience on the internet, but other people dancing to the exact same music as you are does provide a communal experience, or at least a glimmer of one.

When I first tried Queer House Party [a similar night to Club Quarantine], I thought it would feel really contrived and that we would just be alone in the living room starting at the TV, but it was a really joyful and fun night, says Cara English, who works for trans youth charity Gendered Intelligence and is an enthusiastic early adopter of this genre of night. It took me by massive surprise, she says. I had a friend and his flatmate at the party too and he said it was the closest he's felt to seeing people in real life in weeks, like we were actually at the club together. I don't think it's the same as being at an IRL party but in many ways it was better. If people were wasted they couldn't annoy you, no one could smoke around you.

Perhaps the most important aspect of queer clubbing is the sense of community it provides, the opportunity to socialise with people like yourself. How does this translate in a digital context? Surprisingly well. You can also send a message to anyone there, and theres a communal group chat at the side, where you see people saying things like Im so glad I found this. and I felt so lonely before, and making affirmative statements about trans rights, which made me more inclined to abandon the cynicism I had when I initially logged in. You could flirt with people, you could theoretically meet and fall in love with someone, which does allow for that anything could happen atmosphere which makes clubbing so appealing. My contribution to the group chat mostly consisted of such penetrating insights as Wheyy!!, what a tune! and does anyone know the name of this DJ!?. But it probably wasnt the forum for in-depth analysis of those Financial Times graphs about global infection rates -- I dont think the conversation really needed to be any deeper than it was.

Just like any queer club night worth its salt, theres a real variety in who is using it and what they appear to be getting out of it. Some people are dancing topless in over-the-top outfits, gold lam hot-pants and stuff, while others are just vaguely swivelling in their desk chairs. Some people are racking up lines of white powder and others are sipping cups of tea. Surprisingly no one was exposing their genitals -- I would have thought that digital flashing would be an unavoidable aspect of a platform like this. Some people are with their friends and look like theyre having genuine, non-digital fun which simply made me feel envious rather than less lonely. I guess the problem with the concept is that it looks like much more of a fun thing to dip in and out of when youre actually hanging out with people IRL, which means it doesnt really solve the problem of social distancing isolation. But I also found the idea that this was happening every night comforting. Even outside of the context of the pandemic, this would be an excellent thing to do if you just found yourself too skint to go out on a Saturday. Its also highly accessible to disabled people, which is great. For these reasons, I hope this night and others like it (most notably, Queer House Party) outlast the pandemic.

Inspired by Club Quarantines success, established queer promoters are now looking to Zoom as their next venue. Hannah Williams, co-founder of South London queer night Suga Rush, is currently in the process of setting up a digital version of the night. We decided to do this for two reasons, she says. Firstly, we want to get people to donate to our old venue The Chateau's relief fund for their artists and workers, because obviously the situation is bleak right now for unemployed and precariously employed people.Secondly, we want to do it because it's quite silly and should be quite cute and fun -- it would be be nice to do something lighthearted rather than trawling through Twitter to read more horrendous news articles from the last few hours. Also, I think people want an excuse to dress up and look hot again.

Even for experienced promoters, organising a club night of this nature poses a completely new set of challenges. I think there's something, perhaps inherent to tiny queer clubs, about seeing everybody being so unconcerned and present, says Hannah, that creates a kind of mutual understanding in clubs. Im worried we wont be able to recreate that and I'll miss that a lot. I'm worried about looking like a dick. I'm worried no one will turn up. I'm worried I won't be able to play the music properly or my laptop won't work! But I guess it's all a learning curve. Cara agrees that there are aspects of the conventional night out experience which are hard to capture. Sometimes you need the sweat, the deafening reverb and the wasted conversations with strangers in the smoking bit and the falafel on the way home, she says. When the night ended and we just found ourselves in our living room, we thought oh... this is convenient and all but where's the night bus drama?

The experience of a digital club night can look pretty grim and cheerless on a screenshot, but what a static image fails to capture is how vibrant it actually feels. Every single panel is pulsing with life. So what use is it to say that I ultimately found it nowhere near as satisfying as the real thing? Could anyone really have expected otherwise? Just like Houseparty isnt as good as an actual house party, a queer club night on Zoom is never going to be as fun as an actual club. But its the best weve got and its really nice that people are trying.

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How digital clubbing became the saviour of queer nightlife during the coronavirus pandemic - i-D

The Weeknd Falls Victim to Old Habits on ‘After Hours’ – The – The Heights

Take off my disguise is the first line that The Weeknd sings on his latest album, After Hours. Its an ironic request, considering how little Abel Tesfaye, more commonly known by his stage name The Weeknd, really reveals on this project. After a rough breakup with supermodel Bella Hadid, Tesfaye is back with the same story hes always sold, one of dead-eyed hedonism and ever-present demons. Except now, on After Hours, listeners can enjoy the heady clash between this clichd origin story and Tesfayes regrettable platitudes about lost love and regret and all that. Over the course of 14 bloated songs, he warbles, he whines, he gets lost in wave after wave of overblown synth melodrama, but strip away all the grandeur and youre left with little in the way of real substance.

Opener Alone Again might as well serve as a diagram of all the ways Tesfaye goes wrong over the course of the album. His mumbly delivery is barely intelligiblenot a huge loss, the lyrics are almost embarrassingly self-serious. It might be too much to ask Tesfaye to lighten up a bit, but can he at least steer clear of lines that could be sourced from a 2010s emo pop song? Watery arpeggios and aggressive shots of buzzy synths would be effective if they were administered in smaller doses. But on Alone Again, Tesfaye ends up engulfed by what should be background noise.

This seems to be a common theme throughout the album. Its true that hazy soundscapes have always been Tesfayes realm of choice. More than that, his signature gloomy alt-trap production is what makes Tesfaye The Weeknd. But on After Hours, his production has gone rogue, upstaging Tesfaye himself. Its as if the producers, in search of maximum impact, opted to turn every possible dial on the soundboard all the way up and call it a day.

At several points, though, Tesfaye is able to cut back the overgrowth and achieve some clarity. If other tracks borrow 80s elements in moderation, Scared To Live practically transports listeners to a tinsel-heavy 1980s prom. A punched-up drum beat punctuates Tesfayes version of an old-school ballad, which has the commercial potential its looking for, but not much in the way of creativity. The song crescendoes and mellows down at all the right places. Its catchytake it from Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The post-chorus incorporates a snippet from the chorus of Your Song. But unfortunately, Scared To Live is no match for the latter.

The zippy Heartless, one of the three lead singles from After Hours, injects a much-needed dose of energy into the album. Tesfaye tosses off boast after witty boast as a nimble trap beat skitters beneath him. He finds himself swimming in angst in the bridge before the mask quickly comes on again.

Tesfaye is at his most interesting when he roots his apathy in something tangible. His lyrics often fall flat because they paint in broad strokes. While it might be true that After Hours revolves around a failed relationship, to reduce it to a break-up album would be to ignore a key player in the story, the other woman, so to speak. Throughout the album, Tesfaye is constantly caught between two impulses: regret and temptation. He wallows in vice of every kind, and the ultimate symbol of this corruptive tendency is the city itself. L.A., and to a lesser extent Las Vegas, cast looming shadows over the entire project. The symbol becomes explicit in Escape From LA. LA girls all look the same / I cant recognize / The same work done on they face, he sings with equal parts disgust and infatuation. And in Blinding Lights, Tesfaye roams the empty streets of Sin City looking for trouble.

Things fall into place, miraculously, on the title track. The production is sparsetheres plenty of room for Tesfayes vocals to drift around. A note pangs insistently, the sound of broken glass clinks gently. The anticipation is ratcheted up so masterfully you dont even realize you need the beat until it arrives, two minutes in. Tesfaye has finally stumbled upon the kind of infectious melody hes famous for, and on After Hours, he milks it for all its worth.

Theres no doubt that many of Tesfayes fans will be satisfied with this project. It delivers up everything you might want out of an album from The Weeknd: endless self-loathing, a liberal amount of reverb, and plenty of cocaine references. But with his fourth album, Tesfayes bleak outlook seems to have worn him out. He can hardly do more than float along, supported by incessantly grandiose production and half-baked lyrics. If theres anything to learn from After Hours, its that Tesfaye has many vices. But his most unforgivable one might be an unwillingness to evolve.

Featured Image Courtesy of Republic Records

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The Weeknd Falls Victim to Old Habits on 'After Hours' - The - The Heights

In the Studio with Ruby Barber, the Florist Behind Berlin-Based Mary Lennox – W Magazine

Ruby Barbers studio, photograph courtesy of Becca Crawford.

Flowers have no place in Ruby Barbers apartment. I shouldnt say this but I really enjoy not having them around, confesses the floral designer behind the avant-garde botanical studio Mary Lennox.

The same cannot be said for her workspace, an airy studio in Berlins Schneberg neighborhood. The afternoon light that filters through its large bay windows stains the terracotta floor and walls a plummy red. In this wash of color, the bundles of cherry branches, heaps of silky pampas grass and paper-leafed mandarins that cover Barbers work table take on the saturated, overripe glow of a Flemish still life. Its no wonder that the likes of Chanel, Gucci and Versace have tapped Barber to breathe life into their campaigns, runway presentations, and boutiques.

When Barber started Mary Lennox (named for the spoiled British schoolgirl in Frances Hodgson Burnetts The Secret Garden), she was in her early twenties and focused on, you know, flowers in a vase. Now that the neat-headed, bare-stemmed bouquet has gone the way of the promise ring and the sweater set, Barber has loosed unruly tangles of hops vines and dusty cones of amaranth from the confines of the vase and allowed them to take over the entire room. Theres a heady chaos to Barbers installations, a hint of hedonism where order once reigned. Roses and tulips have given way to dark, waxy grapes as long as pinky fingers for Italian gin maker Villa Ascenti, frothy masses of raw cashmere for Loro Piana, and dense mists of Queen Annes Lace that creep across hallways and condense in the air like sentient storm clouds, in an immersive installation she created for Chanel.

To take in Barbers designs is to feel the line between flower shop and art gallery melt away. The materials have begun to take on a life of their own, she says of her gravity-defiant creations. Its getting harder and harder to identify them as flowers.

Barber spends her days scouring Berlins parks for dry materials and visiting local growers in Brandenburg and Potsdam, returning to her studio to assemble dripping, plumed constructions from the spoils. While her regular haunts supply the materials for most of her creations, some of Barbers favored brambles can only be found further afieldand sometimes for just a week or two at a time. In late summer, Dutch hydrangea farms dispose of several wheelbarrows worth of sun-crisped heads. On the island of Mallorca, the narrow country roads are littered with perfect gold-fringed palm fronds. In the southern Italian countryside, overgrown family greenhouses shelter dead plants that have dried perfectly in place. No work needs to be done to make an installation from these things, Barber says. Natures done the work already.

The daughter of two contemporary art gallerists, Barbers rise has coincided with a shift in the fashion and visual art worlds, where a growing appetite for living designs has put her abstract installations in high demand. Theres an increasing desire in modern times to feel close to nature. People want more and more to incorporate that natural language into their lives, and brands are starting to understand that. But Barbers designs, commissioned to reinvigorate established labels, are so rich in color and texture as to risk eclipsing them altogether. At last years Saut Herms, an equestrian competition sponsored by the French house at the Grand Palais in Paris, Barber hung enormous downy columns of tea-colored amaranth like stalactites from the glass-paneled ceilings of the Grand Palais. For Loro Pianas Fall/Winter 2020 presentation, her team scoured the Lombardy region of Northern Italy, sourcing a medley of local plants to construct a garden inside of the mid century modern venue.

The year has been a whirlwind for Barber; a steady stream of projects kept her bouncing between Hamburg, Paris and Milan until Germanys recent lockdown order resulted in a sort of forced retreat. Its a relief in a way, and a chance to think about the sort of work I actually want to do, she says of the imposed hiatus. Perhaps, while shes confined to her apartment, Barber will make an exception to her no-flowers-in-the-home rule. Her window looks out onto a park, so she can keep an eye out for the first blooms.

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In the Studio with Ruby Barber, the Florist Behind Berlin-Based Mary Lennox - W Magazine

Michelin-starred meals that can be delivered to your home during lockdown – Telegraph.co.uk

Box sets arent the only thing to binge on while you social distance at home: some of the most famous names in London dining have responded to the coronavirus closures by offering home delivery. Read on to find out about the most delicious ways to survive lockdown all come with a comforting side order of knowing that youre supporting the restaurant trade in its darkest hour.

The Michelin-starred Mayfair restaurant has launched an all-day offering to provide round-the-clock sustenance for the self-isolating residents of central London. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast or brunch until 3pm, starting the day with a black truffle-topped croque monsieur or seasonal fruits in a lemon verbena infusion, with perhaps some seeded sourdough and home-cured charcuterie to graze on, or 30g of Beluga caviar.

For lunch and dinner, Hides signature Nest Egg may not have been deemed robust enough by chef Ollie Dabbous to survive a journey by scooter, but there are barbecued langoustines in a pandan leaf broth with baked pumpkin and peanuts, glazed guinea fowl with white miso, celeriac and kaffir lime, and chocolate tartlet with saffron and sunflower all with a suggested wine pairing from Dabbous backer, Hedonism.

If youre stuck for what to feed the kids, Huntsham Farm pork sausages with crispy potato cake and seasonal greens is a posh spin on bangers and mash youll wish came in an adult portion.

Order from: Supper London, within a 2.5-mile radius

Quite possibly the most upmarket Chinese takeaway that London has to offer, Michelin-starred Hakkasan is now available at home, where youll need to light some incense and download the Hakkasan playlist on Mixcloud to get the full clubby effect.

Set menus include the banquet meal for two (135), on which youll find the likes of crispy duck salad, rib-eye in black pepper and merlot and roasted silver cod in Champagne. Alternatively, order individually from the a la carte; the hot-and-sour flavours of the crispy fresh water prawns or intensely savoury black truffle roast duck are both top shouts.

Wash it all down with something from the fabulous wine list: Ruinart Blanc de Blancs followed by Antinori Tignanello, say. For the last word in at-home authenticity, track down the recipe for Hakkasans strawberry and basil martini online.

Order from: Deliveroo and Supper London, within a 2.5-mile radius

For the fully immersive Hakkasan experience, order some daytime dim sum from its teahouse spin-off Yauatcha.

All the dumpling classics are here, though in our experience, steamed dim sum travels better than the fried stuff. Major on scallop shui mai with prawn and tobiko caviar, edamame truffle dumpling with water chestnut, or crystal jade dumpling with pine nut, and save the crispy duck rolls and venison puffs for when we can all eat out again.

Bulk out the dim sum with some stir-fried scallops and prawns or a Mongolian lamb claypot, and top it all off with one of the exquisite pastries; the pastel-coloured macarons are a jewel box of sweet treats.

Order from: Deliveroo and Supper London, within a 2.5-mile radius

Sushi delivery is hardly the novelty it once was but how many restaurants will bring you 160g of pure-breed Japanese wagyu alongside your spicy tuna tataki?

Sushi and steak isnt all thats on offer with Zumas home delivery service, however. There are spiced lamb chops and whole roasted lobster as well as the all-time classics of chicken robata skewers, marinated black cod, prawn tempura and edamame with sea salt that have been on the menu since Zuma opened its doors in Knightsbridge in 2002.

To drink, there are champagnes, beers and wine (including half bottles), though sake is the best thing to add to your order Zuma has one of the best lists of rice wine in London.

Order from: Supper London, within a 2.5 mile radius

The new home delivery service of this famous Mayfair Indian offers a timely opportunity to try the cooking of recently installed executive chef Sameer Taneja. Whats more, for every meal ordered, the restaurant will donate a meal to NHS workers.

Alongside the expected lamb samosas and chicken tikka, look out for more individual creations such as tandoori king prawn marinated in kasundi mustard and raw mango, or wild sea bass marinated in coriander and chilli chutney testament to Tanejas time spent in some exalted Michelin-starred kitchens.

Vegan and vegetarian options, such as paneer malai tikka (mace and cardamom-spiced cottage cheese with mint chutney) and baingan bharta (smoked and mashed aubergine tossed with green peas, onion, tomato and ginger), are no less appealing.

Spice-friendly drinks, meanwhile, range from Meantime and Cobra beer to Killermans Run Shiraz and Ebner-Ebenauer Gruner Veltliner.

Order from: Supper London, within a 2.5-mile radius

Run by two talented young chaps with a brilliant pedigree former Anglo front-of-house Nick Gilkinson and ex-Petersham Nurseries chef Joe Fox Townsend has responded to Covid-19 with an approach every bit as creative as youd expect for a restaurant within the Whitechapel Gallery.

Townsends signature dishes are now available to order direct from the restaurant, ready to eat at home. Start with a snack of fried Wensleydale with heather honey and smoked chilli ahead of potato dumplings with potted brown shrimp and purslane, with ginger and treacle pudding with clotted ice cream for pud.

Wine delivery is also part of the service and you can stock up on an Essentials box of supplies when youre ordering, including fresh eggs, dried pasta, chopped tomatoes and milk and butter. All thats missing is a 16-pack of Andrex.

Order from: Townsend Restaurantfor delivery within eight miles.

French-born, New York-based chef Dominque Ansel has launched an at-home range for delivery from his Belgravia bakery. There are freshly made breads such as thyme and sea-salt focaccia and fresh pastas and sauces like macaroni with three-cheese sauce but ordering any of this is merely a cover for stockpiling the former winner of the Worlds Best Pastry Chef awards bid for immortality: the Cronut.

The croissant/doughnut hybrid, named one of Time magazines best inventions of 2013, is released in a different flavour each month. Currently its pineapple upside down cake, filled with homemade pineapple jam and creamy vanilla cake ganache, which can now be scoffed without shame in the privacy of your own home.

Order from: Deliveroo and Uber Eats or, if you live within five minutes of the Belgravia bakery, you can request an at-home drop-off from Dominique Ansel

Read more: The best high-end home delivery food boxes

Read more: 'I have a secret kitchen gadget thats better than any box of ingredients in isolation'

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Michelin-starred meals that can be delivered to your home during lockdown - Telegraph.co.uk

I used to live for travel in fact, I just wrote the book on it. But theres no running away now – The Guardian

Ive just published a novel called Sweetness and Light, a kind of thriller set in the seedy underbelly of expat hangouts on the international tourist circuit. It was a love letter to travel, something I always thought of as a wonderful, consciousness expanding thing. Once in a while you would find yourself in an unfamiliar place and experience a true intellectual or spiritual epiphany through exposure to different cultures and unfamiliar places. You would realise, fundamentally, were all in this together.

As of last weekend, this all seems hopelessly nostalgic.

As I write this, Ive got friends all over the world who a week ago were living and working overseas and are now being corralled into cramped holding areas in airports, trying desperately to get home. The Covid-19 outbreak, and the consequent implosion of social and political norms, has thrown into sharp relief how much about travelling we take for granted.

Some of those friends are tossing up whether to stay where they are: in countries where deeply ingrained social and political contracts seem to be containing the virus better than we are. This is a confronting idea in times of crisis its hard to shake the feeling that home is the safest place to be. Or that there might be better homes out there.

Im one of the lucky ones: Ive never had to worry that the invisible lines on the map would become impermeable; that freedom of movement was anything but an inalienable right. Travel was something I used to live for, in the halcyon days before I became aware that every flight I took inched the world closer to climate crisis, viral pandemic and/or economic collapse.

In the space of a week, aeroplanes went from a symbol of privilege, to a flying petri dish of nightmares, real and imagined, to something I would only get on in the case of emergency, to something jarringly absent from our skies. Australia is a big country. It suddenly feels claustrophobic.

States are shutting borders and families dispersed across the continents are having to make snap decisions to uproot and abandon homes, careers, partners, in order to be close to loved ones before the lockdowns.

When I started writing Sweetness and Light, I imagined the sort of book you might pick up from the bookshop to read on an aeroplane. It published into a world where both airlines and bookshops are shuttering up. Being a novelist has never seemed more farcically anachronistic.

In the novel I tried very hard to evoke a world where travellers are undone by their own hubris and privilege, where a vaguely sinister religious fundamentalist preyed on complacency and confusion.

A society with few uniting principles beyond hedonism and the acquisition of wealth is always going to be sorely tested under hardship

Then I turn on the television to find that an administration whose political rise was framed around stopping the boats had failed to prevent landfall of what is, for all intents and purposes, a medieval plague ship. The prime minister deals with it by handing down new policy at midnight in the form of a sphinx-like riddle and all I can do is throw my hands up in defeat. On a purely narrative level, I cant compete with this level of absurdity.

Maybe this was inevitable. A society with few uniting principles beyond hedonism and the acquisition of wealth is always going to be sorely tested under hardship. But I didnt expect us to figuratively shit the bed and literally shiv each other over toilet roll so quickly.

Ive never wanted to get out of Sydney more, and Ive never been more cognisant of the hubris and selfishness of running away from ones problems a thing Ive literally just written the book on.

It was my hope that this book would make people think about what they took for granted about their own travel habits those foundational, opaque layers of privilege that so many of us abused for so long. In some ways, its a horror story about the limits of empathy, the dehumanising of people born across the border from you.

Its about people who talk about wanting to find themselves, when what they mean is they want to find themselves in an economy where the exchange rate lets them live life with the consequence of a Monopoly game. Now Covid-19 has made clear that none of us are insulated from whats coming.

As a species we are careening into unprecedented territory, a viral epidemic that far outstrips our global capacity to treat it and an extant global crisis in trust and empathy.

The planes are grounded, and for the feckless and flighty like me, theres no running away from whats coming. It could be that those layers of privilege, comfort and safety we never think to appreciate are on their way out. Once again, the epiphany: were all in this. And were in it together. Stay inside. Look after each other. And please buy my book.

Sweetness and Light by Liam Pieper is out now through Penguin Random House.

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I used to live for travel in fact, I just wrote the book on it. But theres no running away now - The Guardian

The Church and the Plague – Medieval and Modern Times (Part three of four) – FSSPX.News

Plague was recurrent during the middle ages and up to the industrial age. In general, for many centuries, whatever organized medical care existed in Catholic Europe was offered under Church auspices through the monasteries and religious orders.

The Black Death is the plague to which all others are usually compared. This bubonic plague that swept again throughout the world between 1347 and 1354, killing up to 40-50 % of Europes population. The mortality was such (25 million people) that many believed it to be the end of the world. Indeed, it changed the face of the European world: bereft of laborers, the value of land declined, undermining the foundations of the feudal system and easing the way for centralized monarchies. For many, religious fervor was renewed, and new manifestations of piety appeared. Others, however, reacted with a pessimism that threw them into despair or a senseless hedonism, which were in turn reflected in the arts and literature. Many others responded with random acts of violence against those thought to have caused the plague, not only Jews but also people affected by other illnesses, as well as beggars and foreigners.

Amidst that upheaval, priests stepped into sickrooms, materially and spiritually assisting the sick and the dying, knowing that they faced an unseen enemy that very likely would kill them. Nonetheless, thousands of priests took those steps anyway, risking their lives to give hope and comfort to those in pain and fear.

Widespread diseases reappeared continuously throughout the world even into our century, and every time the Churchs response was the same.

During the plague that ravaged Milan in 1567, St. Charles Borromeo was convinced that God permitted it as a punishment for the sins of the people. Still, it also offered an occasion for purification and conversion. Therefore, the decisive remedy was to be found in prayer and penance.

Because in their efforts to curb the contagion, the civil authorities had forbidden religious meetings and processions, St. Charles blamed them for putting all their trust in human means, without a thought for the divine. When frightened people quarantined themselves in their homes, he ordered the erection of crosses in the main squares and street junctions so that the people could attend Masses and public rogations from their windows.

He ministered to the sick himself and encouraged his clergy to do the same, for, where the world saw death and desolation, he saw the possibility of saving souls. Even more, he encouraged the priests, telling them that service in a time of epidemic is the stuff of martyrs. In his words, this was a desirable time now, when without the cruelty of the tyrant, without the rack, without fire, without beasts and in the complete absence of harsh tortures which are usually the most frightful to human weakness, we can obtain the crown of martyrdom.

During the plague that struck Marseille in 1720, Msgr. de Belsunce dedicated himself, personally, along with the resources of the Church, to the assistance of the sick. His words mirrored St. Charles attitude: God forbid that I abandon the people of whom I am obliged to be a father. I owe them my care and my life since I am their Pastor.

Closer to our times, the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919, also known as the Spanish Flu, is considered one of the worst pandemics in history. An estimated 50 million deaths worldwide were attributed to it, far more than the total casualties of World War I. One of its victims, Jacinta of Fatima, offered her sufferings for the conversion of souls.

In the United States, deaths from the Spanish flu have been estimated at around 675,000. In every State, all places of public gathering were closed against the spread of the disease, churches included. The ban was obeyed, although many argued that keeping the churches open would help to appease the panic and fear in which epidemic thrives.

In any case, everywhere, the Church remained at the forefront of the medical and spiritual battle against the disease. Thus, when the Board of Health of Philadelphia ordered the closing of all schools, and suspended church services until further notice, Archbishop Dennis Dougherty offered the use of archdiocesan buildings as temporary hospitals. He further enlisted all priests, non-cloistered nuns, and the lay members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to aid the victims of the flu.

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The Church and the Plague - Medieval and Modern Times (Part three of four) - FSSPX.News

An acclaimed Bengali pulp fiction writer turns a voyeuristic eye on the secrets of Calcutta by night – Scroll.in

In these times of social distancing, Calcutta Nights, a recently translated crisp vintage work from 1923, beams up from the past the whole human mess of city life as we may fail to experience for a long time now enticing , contagious with its mirth, sorrow and decadence, yet ultimately safe. Calcutta-ness is both a cult and a code.

That Calcutta, totem pole of cult, is a distilled city, a Xanadu rich with local detail yet universal, contemporary yet not belonging to any particular period, a continuum of experience. No wonder then, that this wondrous city, simultaneous epicentre of renaissance, nationalism, reform movements and debauchery, should inspire city sketches, first made popular in the mid and late 19th century by the inimitable Hutum Pyachar Naksha. Decades later Hemendra Kumar Roy, prolific and popular author of detective fiction, adopted a nom de guerre to have a go at chronicling the scintillating night life of Calcutta in the 1920s.

If books were bordello windows, their sepia light beckoning, Calcutta Nights would be one such, quite literally. A salacious account of what the night unravels, the book takes you behind the scenes, reports on the microcosm of hedonism, the power plays, symbiotic relations, the intimacies of a prostitute with her regular customer, the paanwali bartering and trading with the police, the beggar, the opium-smoker. What sets this book apart is the flawed and reluctant author.

A prolific writer of detective fiction, primarily for children and young adults, Roy probably stumbled upon this diverse and rich material probably while researching for his more innocuous detective novels armed with a stout stick, he says, and at great personal risk. Against his better judgment, he writes about city la nuit, worried and embarrassed about the task at hand, the adirasa or eroticism that he has failed to avoid while raising the curtains of hell.

In his introduction, he rushes to reassure his readers that none of them will find Calcutta Nights obscene. It is, rather, written with the noble intention of sounding a warning to fathers of young girls and boys. Our Meghnad Gupta, author in hiding, is no Samuel Pepys, the veritable diarist of 17th century London who wrote himself into his salacious scenes, boasting about his own ardour and peccadilloes.

The city Roy writes about is a city of men, consumed by men. In the authors own words this book is written for an adult male audience, a sweeping exclusion that predictably rankles this reviewers entitled, liberal, feminist bourgeoise self. Said outrage is difficult to cull at first. Then, as the book shines with its vivid portrayals, the puritan author becomes part of the setting and it is possible to turn the judging gaze right back at him, to see him in all his troubled light.

Here was an author writing about hedonism at a time when the wave of nationalism was peaking, his puritan acuity often criss-crossing with an awakening of socialism. His feelings about the women he writes about swing from condescension and humble misogyny (empathetic and damning at the same time a tone often taken when writing about giants by the best of Bengali literary stars, Sarat Chandra Chatterjee included) to genuine insight.

A pacy read, the depiction is vivid and colourful. Despite his protestations the author is clearly an insider therein lies the strength and authenticity of this sketch. The description is atmospheric. Roy bring alive, with cinematic realism, the night in which owls flutter awayand gradually the swarthy ugly faces begin to peep and snoop.

And slowly Chitpur Road transforms itself weary clerks disappear, the streets are filled with the scented babus, their faces aglow with Hazeline snow seeking verandthe a belles. Kapure babus, hothat-babus, ingo- bingos, the rich, the white, the Marwari, Chinese, European women of loose morals, courtesans of Chitpur, lustful ladies of Kalighat, the poor prostitute, the wanton widow each scene, as the chapters are aptly called, presents to us a glossary of social categories.

One of the most striking sketches is that of the Bhikiripara or beggars quarters. There are fabulously sensational bits, revealing the authors Roy had translated Bam Stokers Dracula penchant for the supernatural and the fantastic. Particularly recommended are scenes from the Nimtala Crematorium and the one featuring a prostitute who beckons men into her room where a dead man lies, his throat slit open.

Translator Rajat Chaudhuri craftily balances archaic words with new ones, never upsetting the tonal authenticity of a period piece. Ultimately he strikes the right cadence the voice often changing as it travels from Chitpur bordellos to the jazzy evenings in the Anglo quarters or the dim Chinese taverns.

For its depiction of the crowded and dense interplay of lives in the Calcutta of those days, this book is a perfect curl-up for these epic-dammed solitary afternoons. A treasure trove for every city addict has been discovered.

Calcutta Nights, Hemendra Kumar Roy, translated from the Bengali by Rajat Chaudhuri, Niyogi Books

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An acclaimed Bengali pulp fiction writer turns a voyeuristic eye on the secrets of Calcutta by night - Scroll.in

Coronavirus: 5 books that open up new worlds and help you escape lockdown loneliness – YourStory

More than a third of the worlds population is homebound as governments across the globe take unprecedented measures to quell the spread of coronavirus and flatten the curve.

This means our streets have emptied out, our theatres, malls, parks, and bars see no footfall, and generations of people used to a fast-paced life now have a lot of time on their hands and nowhere to go.

We have helped you along the way in these dark times of staying put at home, keeping healthy, and staving off anxieties. From movies and YouTube videos to diet plans and tips on keeping stress at bay, YS Weekender has you sorted. If you are still restless and perturbed by all that is happening outside your door, we suggest the best balm for the soul: books.

Picture credit: Unsplash

So here are some recommended reads that will whisk you away into worlds and times that are far different from the current one we live in:

This 1933 cosy classic is exactly what the doctor ordered for 2020. Tuck the present far into the dim recesses of your mind and slip into this early twentieth-century tale of a young socialite plucked from her city life and dropped, quite unceremoniously, into the rural English countryside.

Our heroine does not like to sit around so she takes on the mantle of fixing things not the farm or the animals, but the people. A hilarious novel, the book is punctuated with Floras funny observations, including the scorching, Nature is all very well in her place, but she must not be allowed to make things untidy.

Light and witty, this book will bring you a lot of comfort, cold or not.

As news every day in early 2020 looks more and more surreal, why not escape into a delicious work of fantasy? And from none other than the immensely talented fantasy fiction main man Brandon Sanderson himself.

Warbreaker is set in both Idrisa land of restraint and dullness, where life is hard and colourless (quite literally)and Hallandrenthe lap of luxury, hedonism, vibrancy and magic, where the gods live it up. Gods here are great men and women who returned to earth after some noble sacrifice and now live in great decadence.

Our story follows the lives of two sisters, Vivenna and Siri, who are the daughters of the king of Idris, as they set off for Hallandren. Each sister tumbles into a whole host of adventures, which includes the intriguing magic system of Breath and Colours, mercenaries who are ruthless killers, and gods who have lost their human touch and, instead, plot against each other.

This Dickensian coming-of-age tale by the great John Irving follows the lives of the quirky Berrysfather Win, mother Mary, children Frank, Franny, John, Lilly, and Egg. The family lives in and runs a hotel by converting an abandoned girls school in New Hampshire.

The Berrys live a life of laughter and adventure. John, our narrator, is nave and adores his sister Franny, who is bold and beautiful. A socially awkward Frank bonds with Lilly, who does not grow physically after a point, and little Egg who remains babyish.

Then there is their dog that is hilariously brought back to life after a taxidermy experiment and turns up in the unlikeliest places, scaring people, sometimes even to death. The novel is stuffed to the brim with entertaining characters and situations, be it the show bear and its master, a family overhaul to Vienna where Hotel New Hampshire (version 2) springs up, and its inhabitants of friendly prostitutes and radical Commies.

We have a theme, looks like: 20th century English classics = cosy comfort. Here is another gem that will give you all the feels. Dodie Smith, the author of the popular childrens novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians, spins a tale of family love and coming-of-age ruminations.

The eccentric Mortmains are living in the ruins of a dilapidated castle, trying to keep up with a genteel lifestyle even as they deal with mounting debts, leaky roofs, and broken stairs.

Narrated by daughter Cassandra, the book is a journal of the teenager, as she observes her family with clear-eyed honesty softened by plenty of love and compassion.

There is her one-hit wonder father, who suffers from writers block and sequesters himself in the tower of the castle; the bewitching stepmom Topaz, a beautiful model for artists whose quirks include moon-bathing in the nude; Rose, her sister who is a typical English beauty looking to marry rich; and Thomas, the youngest child. Their lives forever change when the Cottons, a wealthy American family, become their landlords.

We have saved the best for last. Station Eleven is a masterpiece. A slow-burn post-apocalyptic novel, it is set in the time after civilisation collapsed following a swine flu pandemic, and a scattered population tries to find its bearings.

Set 20 years after Year Zero, the year a flu wiped out most of the worlds population, we follow a motley crew of charactersa travelling group of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony. They come across people both good and bad, as individuals and groups are left to fend for themselves in a world ravaged by disease.

Our world is definitely not ending but this book shows how it is important to come together as a race in turbulent times. Between its pages are many lessons to be learnt set in an immersive, imaginative plot.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)

How has the coronavirus outbreak disrupted your life? And how are you dealing with it? Write to us or send us a video with subject line 'Coronavirus Disruption' to editorial@yourstory.com

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Coronavirus: 5 books that open up new worlds and help you escape lockdown loneliness - YourStory

Playlists Curated by Hotels and Resorts That Make You Feel a World Away – AskMen

Cooped Up Indoors? These Songs Will Transport You to a Better Place

If youre like most people, these last few weeks of social distancing have taken a serious toll on your mental and physical health.

Your old routine going to the gym, seeing friends, even commuting to work every morning has been totally disrupted, replaced by a quasi house arrest in which youre not even supposed to entertain friends.

RELATED: How to Stay Sane When Youre Cooped Up Indoors

Unless you preferred to never leave your home before this crisis, chances are youre going a bit crazy. After all, there are only so many hours you can spend playing video games, streaming the latest movies and television shows, or doing home workouts in your underwear. At a certain point, you need something to look forward to, something exciting on the horizon to make the lonely present that much more bearable.

Thankfully, a group of hotels across the world (think Jamaica, Italy, Guatemala to Iceland) have curated playlists to help transport you, imaginatively, to their beautiful locales.

Playlist: Hedo Hustle(r) - Nude Edition

After weeks and weeks of social distancing, youre going to want to release all that pent up energy, and what better way to do it than with these high-energy, highly sensuous tunes. Youve heard of music you can dance to? This is music you can twerk to.

Playlist: Hedo Hustle(r) - Prude Edition

If you love pleasure but arent about pure hedonism, thats OK, too. This list of songs is still sensuous without all that sexuality.

Playlist: Grace Bay Beach Vibes

The Turks & Caicos boast some of the worlds best beaches and bluest waters, and this playlist will have you feeling the sun while hearing the sounds of those crystal clear lapping waves.

Playlist: The Land of Eternal Spring

If you think relaxation requires salt water beaches and ocean views, you havent visited Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Give this playlist a listen to get a sense of the sumptuousness resort vibe and the pristine beauty of its location.

Playlist: Tuscan Vibes by Il Salviatino

Tuscany is famous for its scenic beauty, but the guests of Il Salviatino, tasked with curating this playlist, didnt just evoke its majestic hills; they also captured the upbeat rhythms of nearby Firenze (Florence, for us English-speakers).

Playlist: Aruba Marriott Island Vibes

The temperature inside your apartment might rise when you bump these island jams, evocative of Arubas blue waters and golden sands. If paradise exists on earth, its probably a beach on Aruba just sayin.

Playlist: Barnsley Boot-Scootin Boogie

The South is famous for comfort food, but these tunes prove the cooking isnt the only warm and reassuring thing about Southern living. If youve never been to Georgia, youll still feel the heat with these feel-good country jams.

Playlist: Icelandic Eclectic

If sun and sand isnt your preference, you might prefer the crisp snow and endless skies of Iceland. This playlist, curated by musician and Hotel Ranga Social Media Marketing Manager Ingibjrg Fririksdttir, evokes Icelands ethereal beauty and the utter strangeness of its remote location. Enjoy!

Playlist: Caliente Caribe

The most underappreciated part of America isnt actually part of the mainland its beautiful Puerto Rico, where island beauty, Latin music and the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan have been beguiling visitors for decades. You might not be able to fly there tomorrow, but this playlist will transport you there all the same.

Whether your dream vacation destination involves sunny beaches, mountains, sand, snow or the finest wines and liquors, these playlists will evoke the best of each place, offering you a little respite from the dreariness of the quarantine and an imaginative escape to paradise.

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Playlists Curated by Hotels and Resorts That Make You Feel a World Away - AskMen


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