Thursday, March 25, 2010

metromix gives a tour of Zak Pelaccio's FATTY CRAB

"Since August 2008, we’ve been chronicling the progress of Zak Pelaccio’s Southeast Asian barbecue project Fatty ‘Cue, which finally opened last weekend on an industrial block in South Williamsburg. We, admittedly, are a bit OCD when it comes to delays. Well, we just stop caring sometimes (see: Nuela, Lucali part two). We never stopped caring about Fatty ‘Cue."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Andrew Exum asks Matt Gallagher Six Questions about KABOOM on abu muqawama

"While conducting ops, you're forced to take on a hyper-realistic mental state, in an effort to detach yourself from the severity of what you're actually doing and where you actually are. I'll still catch myself remembering moments in Iraq, and have to remind myself that "yeah, that actually happened and we actually did that." But in the moment, you can't get bogged down by that, so you rely on the mere momentum of action to carry you through. At the same time, there was a lot of time for reflection in Iraq - either during long, boring missions or back at the outpost, during recovery. That's when the stream of consciousness kicks in, and anyone who’s been deployed can attest to the dangers of thinking too much over there.

My only goal for Kaboom ahead of time was for it to be an accurate portrayal of our experience in Iraq. I think I accomplished that, and hope it resonates with others who had similar experiences, and/or with people interested in learning more about what it means to send off our nation’s soldiers off to war."

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Wall Street Journal Reviews KABOOM: Embracing the Suck by Matt Gallagher

"Without a trace of sentimentality, Mr. Gallagher draws the reader into the everyday complexities of leading 44 soldiers from every strata of American society. Among the members of a platoon that he calls the Gravediggers, we meet Staff Sgt. Boondock and Sgt. Axel, who "routinely bantered like a married couple, on only the most trivial matters"; a Texan who spent eight years in college without getting a degree; and Private Das Boot, a "gangly German-American hell-bent on proving his mettle in battle." At first this seems like a gang that can't shoot straight, but then violence flares up—"contact with enemy rifle on Route Swords" comes the report from Lt. Virginia Slim—and the platoon launches into action with smooth professionalism, even if Mr. Gallagher racks his mind, trying to remember his manual training, as his men come under fire.

One of the attractions of "Kaboom" is its first-hand reporting, unfiltered by a journalist's interpretative "framing." Whenever a tense situation arises, whenever bullets start flying, Mr. Gallagher and his soldiers rush to the scene and instinctively take charge through pure force—and we're right at their side. Mr. Gallagher brings the reader down to the stinking streets, through the sewer water and into meetings with cunning sheiks and sycophants. Typical of a combat leader, he calls wartime Iraq "the suck.""

Friday, March 19, 2010's Rick Stockfis Interviews Peter Hessler about COUNTRY DRIVING

"I guess the main thing for a writer to do is to think carefully about what interests him, and also where his strengths lie, and try to research accordingly. The thing about China is that no single part of the country tells the whole story. And different writers can do different things. My wife could spend time with the factory girls in the south and develop a level of intimacy that simply wouldn't be possible for me as a white male. But it was easier for me to wander around Lishui, meeting factory owners, technicians, and construction crews. So each of us produced the book that was appropriate to what we could do. My background in the Peace Corps prepared me for writing about smaller cities, so it made sense for me to use this knowledge."

Tony Zurlo considers the books of Peter Hessler on Peace Corps Worldwide

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The People Who Feed Us discuss The Fatty Way with Zak Pelaccio

Good food. Good people. Good vibes. It is truly the Fatty Way.

Staci Strauss and Craig McCord's wonderful series about small farming and like-minded food producers turns their camera on the inimitable Zak Pelaccio, whose as-yet unnamed cookbook will be published by Dan Halpern at Ecco.

PINK NOISES: Women on Electronic Music and Sound by Tara Rodgers reviewed in A.V.'s UNDERCOVER

Michaelangelo Matos reviews the founder of Tara Rodgers' collection of twenty-four interviews with women in electronic music and sound cultures, including club and radio DJs, remixers, composers, improvisers, instrument builders, and installation and performance artists.   While featured interviews that Rodgers conducted with women artists, exploring their personal histories, their creative methods, and the roles of gender in their work, this book offers new and lengthier interviews, a critical introduction, and resources for further research and technological engagement.

Contemporary electronic music practices are illuminated through the stories of women artists of different generations and cultural backgrounds. They include the creators of ambient soundscapes, “performance novels,” sound sculptures, and custom software, as well as the developer of the Deep Listening philosophy and the founders of the Liquid Sound Lounge radio show and the monthly Basement Bhangra parties in New York. These and many other artists open up about topics such as their conflicted relationships to formal music training and mainstream media representations of women in electronic music. They discuss using sound to work creatively with structures of time and space, and voice and language; challenge distinctions of nature and culture; question norms of technological practice; and balance their needs for productive solitude with collaboration and community. Whether designing and building modular synthesizers with analog circuits or performing with a wearable apparatus that translates muscle movements into electronic sound, these artists expand notions of who and what counts in matters of invention, production, and noisemaking. Pink Noises is a powerful testimony to the presence and vitality of women in electronic music cultures, and to the relevance of sound to feminist concerns.

Interviewees: Maria Chavez, Beth Coleman (M. Singe), Antye Greie (AGF), Jeannie Hopper, Bevin Kelley (Blevin Blectum), Christina Kubisch, Le Tigre, Annea Lockwood, Giulia Loli (DJ Mutamassik), Rekha Malhotra (DJ Rekha), Riz Maslen (Neotropic), Kaffe Matthews, Susan Morabito, Ikue Mori, Pauline Oliveros, Pamela Z, Chantal Passamonte (Mira Calix), Maggi Payne, Eliane Radigue, Jessica Rylan, Carla Scaletti, Laetitia Sonami, Bev Stanton (Arthur Loves Plastic), Keiko Uenishi (o.blaat)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

NY Times' Florence Fabricant finds Inspiration at Zak Pelaccio's Fatty Cue

SOME mac and cheese or cornbread with your barbecue? Not at Fatty ’Cue, opening March 23 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Try the celery ribbons with yuzu and preserved Chinese cabbage instead.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The web site for Matt Gallagher's KABOOM is up!

Check out the book trailer:

Praise for the book from the Abu Muqawama blog (Center for a New American Security): “This may well be the best memoir to have been written about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why? Because it captures something I have never really seen captured all that well in memoirs—how the constant suck of war is intertwined with the never-ended stream of hilarity that takes place in a tight-knit combat arms platoon. Kaboom is laugh-out-loud funny. And brutal. Buy it.”

Brisbane Times reviews COUNTRY DRIVING by Peter Hessler

IN CHINA, “people drive the way they walk. They like to move in packs and they tailgate whenever possible. They'll approach a roundabout in reverse direction if it seems faster,” writes Peter Hessler. Yet “it's hard to imagine another place where people take such joy in driving so badly”.

It's equally hard to imagine a more satisfying book on contemporary China than Country Driving. It's travel writing at its best. Peter Hessler, the long-time Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker and a fluent Mandarin speaker, makes three journeys.


And it's the individuals Hessler comes to know, in a real, meaningful way, who breathe such life and compassion into his prose.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

AMERICAN CHINATOWN author Bonnie Tsui asks "If You Can Stand Up, Who Cares if Surf’s Up?" in The New York Times

"In San Francisco, where I live and surf, there’s almost always a stand-up paddleboarder in the lineup on any given morning. On days when there aren’t many waves, I envy the cruise-y ease of the paddleboarder as he maneuvers through flat water, getting exercise all the while. On a recent trip to Honolulu I decided to try stand-up paddleboarding in its birthplace."

Antonino D'Ambrosio hits SXSW in Austin

The author of A HEARTBEAT AND A GUITAR: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears has three readings / performances with Wayne Kramer of the MC5, Jon Langford of The Mekons, Arturo Torres, Mincho Jacob, and Martin Perna of Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra and TV on the Radio, and other special guests.

The schedule is as follows:
  • Thursday, March 18th Rabbit's Lounge (1816 East 6th Street) from 6-8pm (with Jon Langford of the Mekons, Martin Perna of Antibalas & TV on the Radio and Earl Poole Ball, Johnny Cash's longtime piano player, and other special guests.
  • Friday, March 19th Waterloo Records noon-1 (Martin Perna and other special guests)
  • Friday, March 19th Resistencia Books 6-8 (Martin Perna and other special guests):

Peter Hessler on Omnivoracious Podcast, Amazon's Books Blog

Shelfari has the transcript here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Michelangelo Signorile gets The Gist of Peter Hessler and COUNTRY DRIVING

Alan Tanksley's Immaculate Minetta Lane Interior is Observed

Check out these beautiful photographs of Alan's work for a childhood friend.

The same 1840 house was featured in Interior Design back in September--you can see that here.  If you want to read more about my brother-in-law and his work, read David Patrick Columbia's New York Social Diary profile here.

USA Today reviews COUNTRY DRIVING by Peter Hessler

In today's issue, Steve Weinberg writes:  "In contemporary China, the business of the country is business, and no Western writer captures the atmosphere quite like Peter Hessler."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Faith Middleton speaks to Eric Maddox on WNPR about finding Saddam

The Peabody Award-winning host speaks with Eric Maddox by phone about the true story behind the hunt for the deposed dictator on Connecticut Public Radio.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Serious Eats: New York's Meet and Eat profiles Jim Meehan

As always, Jim is generous in sharing his inspirations:

"Are there particular people who influenced you or served as mentors along the way?

 I've always tried to pick something up from everyone I work with. Notable mentors include Kelly Meuer and Ross Johnson at State Street Brats (Madison) for their work ethic. Evan Lehmann at Paul's Club (Madison) for making everything look effortless. Sam Parker at the Great Dane (Madison) helped me realize how important it was to be a role model. Chris Paraskevaides of Five Points (NYC) taught me that the guest was my boss. Danny Abrams of the Mermaid Inn (NYC) showed me the business side of the bar. Juliette Pope of Gramercy Tavern (NYC) showed me that a beverage director needed to master management. And Audrey Saunders of the Pegu Club (NYC) taught me just about everything else."

Emily Parker reviews COUNTRY DRIVING by Peter Hessler in The New Republic

"Country Driving depicts China’s development as determined and unsentimental. People cast aside factories, villages, and even families in their pursuit of the new. The only vaguely nostalgic character is Hessler himself, who occasionally marvels at the emptiness around him. “There was something poignant about driving through the dying villages,” Hessler writes of his journey along the Great Wall. “These were the last glimpses–the end of small towns and rural childhoods . . . [a]nd rural traditions of honesty and trust wouldn’t survive the shift to city life.”

This is one of the rare moments when Hessler’s emotions bleed into the writing. He mostly offers anthropological observations and invites readers to draw their own conclusions. His attention to detail is impressive, and certain passages resemble photographs that capture a fleeting moment in time. China has not always been so effective at historical preservation, so future generations of Chinese may thank Hessler for his efforts."


MostlyFiction also reviews the book, saying "Armed with the informed outsider’s ability to see the larger picture, Hessler engages the reader with his own affection and fascination for an ancient culture in overdrive. Endlessly curious, fluent in the language, willing to go anywhere, and talk to anyone, his graceful prose carries us along, into the mountains, the dusty deserts, the mud-walled village huts and concrete factories, but most of all into the lives of the people he meets.

Humorous, affecting and intelligent, Hessler’s latest should captivate anyone with an inkling of interest in China."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Amtrak's Arrive magazine features Jim Meehan on sourcing the ingredients of great cocktails

bookgeeks calls COUNTRY DRIVING by Peter Hessler "deeply insightful and often very funny"

COUNTRY DRIVING is published by Canongate Books in the UK today, and bookgeeks is the first out of the, er, gate with a review by Simon Appleby, who says the book "distills [Hessler's] experience in to a book that follows the very best traditions of travel writing, being both deeply insightful and often very funny" and "He is a profoundly sympathetic narrator, and there is hardly a trace of cultural superiority anywhere on show – he lives in China because he likes it, likes its people, and during the course of his travels and experiences, gains a great deal of insight that is eloquently shared with the reader (although the Chinese are always coming up with fresh things to surprise him). A wonderful example of the power of good travel writing to bridge cultural divides, and highly recommended."

Monday, March 1, 2010

COUNTRY DRIVING by Peter Hessler a February Trip Lit pick on National Geographic Traveler

Don George writes: "From the shifting sands and almond blossoms of the countryside to the disorientations and dreams that bloom countrywide, Country Driving illuminates rural China in an eloquent, intimate, learned, and empathetic light."

New York magazine celebrates the genius of Keith McNally

"Among the city’s leading restaurateurs, almost no one but McNally and Danny Meyer has built an empire that, as Times former food critic Frank Bruni says, “combine[s] the restaurant equivalent of big box office with serious foodie followings.” But if the St. Louis–bred Meyer is a genial, Jimmy Stewart–voiced executive in coat and tie who’s serving haute cuisine at Eleven Madison Park and franchising his fast-food stand Shake Shack as far away as Kuwait, McNally is the sensitive, temperamental, bed-headed artist in khakis and an old sweater, who has rebuffed opportunities to cash in by replicating any of his restaurants, who dropped out of the business for a few years to write and direct movies, and who routinely goes over budget in thrall to some private aesthetic compulsion." ...

"McNally doesn’t socialize with fellow restaurateurs and is allergic to anything he deems self-serious, such as Danny Meyer’s book Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business. “I would rather be shipped off to Iraq than write or read a book like that,” McNally says. Later, he elaborates in an e-mail: “As a restaurateur there’s no better operator in the country. However, there’s categorically no sillier or more pretentious title for a book. I’m just relieved Dostoyevsky didn’t use the same title for Crime and Punishment.”"

Peter Hessler shares favorite books on China on goodreads

COUNTRY DRIVING by Peter Hessler reviewed in Christian Science Monitor, Columbia Daily Tribune

Mike Revzin in The Christian Science Monitor calls it a "fascinating road trip." The author's hometown paper, the Columbia Daily Tribune, calls it "a terrific and passionate book: packed with adventures, highly readable and filled with humor and terrific insights about the Chinese people."

James Pressley at Bloomberg News says: "Every so often, I read a book that upends my perceptions about a place. This is one of them."