April 14, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | TRAVEL |

April 2018 – When you tire of filibusters, lobbyists, armies of tourists in matching caps, the Donald, the media show-trials for the Donald, media yowls in defence of the Donald… …and Washington hot-air in general, retreat to Georgetown (as George W wishes he could have!) and mingle, on sweet-smelling boulevards, with some humans. There’s Bridge Street Books at 2814 Pennsylvania Ave., where we found some great stuff, including Inverted World by Christopher Priest, dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany, Adorno’s book on Wagner and a terrific book, The Bughouse, by Daniel Swift, about Ezra Pound in St. Elizabeth’s. Reviews in the fullness of time. We ate really nice,…

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“Magnificent Distances”

April 13, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY, TRAVEL, USA History |

Washington DC, April 2018 – TVC arrived in time for the lovely pink and white cherry blossoms and a balmy, breezy day, which turned sharply wintry again (must be that global warming). Washington is a strange mix of Adelaide and Canberra (the latter was designed by American Walter Burley Griffin, with D.C. in mind), the massive edifices a meld of strong Neo-Classical (White House, old Treasury, National Archives, Supreme Court) and New Brutalism* (new Treasury, State Department, FBI Building). In Burr, Gore Vidal quotes a visiting English diplomat in the early 1800s, tactfully referring to the city’s “magnificent distances.” But the place has filled-up…

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Fairy Tale Time in New York

April 9, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | LIFE, TRAVEL |

April 2, 2018 – Janelle McCulloch, author of a number of impressive works concerning, inter alia, Paris, Provence and Picnics, married Neil Jenkins in a snow-blanketed Central Park this day. The Varnished Culture, being warned for hearing and attending as witnesses, awoke to inclement April conditions… We had to get from The Carlyle to Central Park West, so before too long, we were trudging through the snow like Napoleon’s troops bugging out of Moscow… Eventually, after some crazy old man gave us perfectly wrong directions, we found a guide (well, someone going our way), met-up with Neil and Janelle et al,…

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911 Memorial

April 8, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | CRIME, HISTORY, TRAVEL, USA History |

April 2018 At Ground Zero, after much hand-wringing and kvetching, the powers that be have achieved a pretty decent edifice to commemorate the infamous acts of 11 September 2001.  Conspiracy theorists aside, for most attendees there is balance in the museum exhibits and an overly pious attitude has thankfully been stowed. The most powerful aspects are the remembrance wall, containing the names of those who perished, in clear graven font, and two enormous infinity pools, cut deep into the sites of the twin towers, oddly recalling the gashed landscape of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. While the Pentagon and…

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New York Stories

April 7, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | TRAVEL |

April in New York – never mind the snow and sleet, it’s still a tootlin’ town. The Varnished Culture traversed Manhattan in search of slightly off-the-wall aspects of the Bagel. We liked the Strand Bookstore on lower Broadway (celebrity trigger warning – Paul Giamatti spotted there), famed from the scene with Michael Caine and Barbara Hershey in Hannah and Her Sisters, and Argosy Bookshop, a great old-fashioned shop on 116 East 59th Street… And right next door to Argosy, Yankees fans can stock up on all their gear, whilst they await that elusive 41st winning season… The Varnished Culture chooses to stay at…

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