Emilie Lamy - The Stacks Tour of New Orleans
When asked to create this month’s Culture piece for “Bossy Like Me”, I took it as another pretext to roam around the city I live in, New Orleans, on several little explorations. So this is nothing more, nothing less than a simple and subjective little journey through a small selection of places that I love in New Orleans, alongside reading companions that I wanted to highlight. I hope this will pique your interest and inspire you to go enjoy these peaceful places and look into these books and magazines. Your books will get dirty, the corners will get damaged, your pages will get soiled by crumbs, oily treats, coffee stains and whatever else you are carrying along, but like when a kid comes home covered in dirt, it’s always a sign that he had a blast, right?
The Smith Tapes. Lost Interviews with Rock Stars & Icons, at Soló Espresso, located in the Upper 9th Ward (with probably the best croissant in town from Leo’s bread, pop-up every 1st Saturday)
The Smith Tapes is a true time capsule of a cultural and musical transformative period captured in 61 interviews. Between 1969 and 1972, the columnist, director, producer, journalist, screenwriter, radio broadcaster—you name it—Howard Smith recorded raw and unscripted conversations with iconic and influential personalities, from musicians to filmmakers, writers, social activists… A great timeline organises the interviews amongst a list of major political and social events, as well as award wining movies and songs. You can just dive in and out of all of these great conversations! Here’s an extract of Smith conversation with Dr. John:
Smith: Anything else you wanna say?
Dr. John: Heaven on earth—bring about some united state of mind with a little together in us.
Cause that’s my word for today; it’s not togetherness, it’s together in us. If I could promote that feelin’, I think we’d achieve a little heaven on earth.
Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas, by Rebecca Snedeker and Rebecca Solnit, on the levee in the Lower Ninth (with non-optional Geralds donuts, you just have to!)
Unfathomable City reinvents in a beautiful and original way the traditional structure of an atlas. Through the compilation of 22 full-color illustrated maps and contributions from 17 writers from geographers to musicians, activists, environmentalists and local experts…, this one-of-a-kind atlas provides a multi-faceted view of New Orleans, all at once a major tourist destination, pivotal scene of American history, and site of monumental disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. This book will expand your notion of how a city is imagined and experienced. Check out the two other atlas in the series: Infinite City, A San Francisco Atlas (published in November 2010) and Nonstop Metropolis, A New York City Atlas (soon to be published).
Extract from “Repercussions: Rhythm and Resistance across the Atlantic,” conversation between the editors R. Solnit, R. Snedeker and Herreast Harrison and Donald Harrison, Jr. :
DH: I had nothing to prove. I’m just a hard worker. But to me, if a guy has a heart condition where he needs to feel like he’s more than someone [else], I feel sorry for him. Because he’s messed up. And if a guy needs to have more than you to feel secure, he’s insecure. So anybody who’s got ten billion dollars and needs ten billion dollars to feel like he’s somebody–he’s really nobody. He was born somebody. Everybody was born somebody. And that everybody was born is a miracle. And if you don’t understand that from day one, at some point when you become mature, then I’ll feel sorry for you. That’s the truth–that’s the bottom line of it. If you don’t know that you’re born somebody, you’ll never get to that then, no matter how much you achieve, no matter how far you go. It doesn’t mean anything. And if you don’t use your life to help someone [even] if you have ten billion dollars, then you’re wasting your life.
A Field Guide to American Houses: The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America’s Domestic Architecture by Virginia Savage McAlester, on the streetcar riding up and down St Charles Avenue
In print since 1984, this nearly 900-pages architectural bible tracks every major architectural style that can be found in the US and breaks down every type to the smallest detail. This second edition is entirely revised, updated and freshly designed, with new house styles categories, an expanded bibliography, new photographs and line drawings. Widely recognized as the most comprehensive guide to American houses, it was describe by Angela Serratore in her “Letter of Recommendation” piece in the New York Times* as a “dictionary of the language spoken by the built environment.” I browse this fascinating book every so often, and always end up learning about the most mundane details in my surroundings that I hadn’t noticed or paid close attention to. It’s difficult to pick an extract in 900 pages, though here’s one from probably my favorite chapter “Neighborhoods. The Groupings of American Houses”:
“Neighborhood is a word used in many different ways. For the purpose of this guide, it refers to a geographic area of a town or city that was developed as a whole and/or is generally filled with similar type of houses. (…) The boundaries of neighborhoods sometimes follow those of one or more original subdivisions, but frequently boundaries are determined by residents. (…) Neighborhood are the building blocks of our cities. One can appreciate the history of a town or city by understanding its neighborhoods and how they interacted with or resulted from the growth and development of commercial, office, civic, and industrial uses.”
Modern Farmer magazine, in the Dryades Market, on OC Haley Blvd, sitting at Curious Oyster Co.
Modern Farmer is a quarterly American publication based in Hudson, New York, presenting a modern view on agriculture, food and lifestyle. Their audience ranges from urban readers romanticizing what farming is about to actual rural farmers and such. In 2014, it won the National Magazine Awards for the Magazine Section. The magazine’s website modernfarmer.com is also full of great articles, insights, how-to sheets and… a live stream “goat cam”—if you have some time to spare and/or just want to know more about what a goat’s life looks like, check it out. (Additional reading from The New Yorker)
The latest issue features an great article on local chef Melissa Martin founder of Mosquito Supper Club and Curious Oyster Co., with photographs from Rush Jagoe.
Here’s an extract of the article of beekeeping by Rene Ebersole, “The New Hive Mentality”, on Rob Keller, founder of Napa Valley Bee Company: Worker bees account for more than 90% of a colony’s population and perform most of its duties. These infertile females feed and clean the queen bee; care for developing larvae; make beeswax; fan their wings to maintain a comfortable temperature inside the hive; and gather water, pollen, and nectar to create honey, the colony’s sole source of sustenance come winter. The pace is so intense that, during peak honey season, a worker typically toils for only six weeks before dying of exhaustion.
The latest issue of Apartamento at Arrow Coffee on N. Rampart St. on the outskirts of the French Quarter (with a Port City Pantry chocolate chip cookie, ‘cause they’re simply the best!)
Published biannually from Barcelona since 2008, Apartamento is today’s most inspiring international design magazine. Very influential, it’s an indispensable resource for designers of any kind, and for all the curious minds out there!
Here’s an extract of “Antonioni’s Costa Paradiso”, the part when Michelangelo Antonioni takes the architect Dante Bini to the plot of land in Costa Paradiso, in Sardinia, where he wants Bini to build for him one of his dome shapped house that Bini was working on at that time:
He wanted me to be there the entire day, from dawn to dusk, so I could fully understand the plot. While we were there, he picked dry herbs for me and asked me to smell them, and we listened to the sound of the sea. He told me things like,‘I want my house to be surrounded by the environment; even from my house I want to hear the sound of the sea, and I also want to hear the wind inside my house. (...) I want to live in a sculptural environment, like your domes. I want to smell the smell of rocks’. At that moment I didn’t understand him. Do rocks really smell? (...) We spent several days there. We talked about everything but architecture. (...) He enchanted me. The day after we went back home, he asked someone to cut a piece of granite, which was totally pink, beautiful. Then he put my nose on top of that broken piece of rock; I smelled and I understood. It was incredible. I told him that I hadn’t been paying attention to nature before, and that we was teaching me what nature meant.
Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will, by Judith Schalansky, along Bayou St Jones right next to the Cabrini bridge
This gorgeous pocket edition of a previous hardcover version, brings us to the most unexpected and dreamy destinations. The author’s fascination for cartography drew her to adventure herself into the very particular histories of each one of these fifty remote islands. Using historic events and scientific reports, Schalansky narrates inscrutable stories shifting between facts and imagination, always on the edge of the fantastical.
Here’s an extract of the introduction “Paradise is an island. So is hell.”:
Consulting maps can diminish the wanderlust that they awaken, as the act of looking at them can replace the act of travel. But looking at maps is much more than an act of aesthetic replacement. Anyone who opens an atlas wants everything at once, without limits—the whole world. This longing will always be great, far greater than any satisfaction to be had by attaining what is desired. Give me an atlas over a guidebook any day. There is no more poetic book in the world.
The Travel Almanac and New Orleans’ Wildsam Field Guide, in your favorite spot in City Park (I parked myself in the shade of the Couturie Forest along the trail)
Since 2012, WILDSAM define themselves as “an American travel brand built upon telling true stories of place.” What I love about these field guides is that they, for once, truly give the traveler an original point of views on cities through conversations with locals, from shop owners to journalists and so forth. Each guide truly embodies the essence of each city they portray by tastefully blending historical anecdotes, interviews, extracts from essential literature on the city, beautiful hand-drawn maps and lists of recommendations neither too long nor too short.
Founded in 2010, The Travel Almanac defines itself as a post-tourism publication. Post-tourism? “Post-tourism” is used to refer to an unconventional way of traveling allowing a more authentic experience and deep immersion in “local culture”. What makes a touristic experience authentic? Check out this interesting article about post-tourism while you are at it. Published bi-annually, The Travel Almanac sits somewhere in between a magazine and a book. Each issue includes an art booklet, The Travel Diary, showcasing the work of a selected artist rethinking the idea of traveling.
Here’s an extract of the interview with Richard Prince:
- What’s the difference between your daughter’s relationship to Instagram and yours?
- She can do anything she wants and I can’t, even though I think I can. I always try to go first. I need a head start. Everybody’s “year book” has turned into a day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute, early in the morning share-fest. Like the songs says, “I could make it without you if I didn’t feel so all alone…” Everybody’s crying.
The Happy Reader, at a [roof-top] pool of your choice!
A collaboration between Penguin Books and Fantastic Man, The Happy Reader is a pretty unique magazine celebrating “the pure pleasure of reading and the calming luxury of being offline.” Yes please! Each issue splits itself into two halves: an in-depth interview with a celebrity that happens to also be a book fanatic, and a dive into a classic work of literature. The Summer issue #7 was just published and features the curator, critic and author Hans-Ulrich Obrist alongside Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs Dalloway.
Here’s an extract of the conversation with Ethan Hawke published in issue #6:
S: How do you have time to read as much as you do?
E: I don’t. It’s awful. Adn also that my life as an actor requires me to read screenplays, which is a little like, if you’re a chef, having to be a taster for a candy maker. I get a lot of scripts. I’ve been doing it since I was thirteen. I’ve read a lot of screenplays. But that’s the hardest thing about my life—I mean, not the hardest thing about my life, that’s just so pathetic, that’s how great my life is—but what I mean is, one of the things I like least about being an adult is that I used to get to read so much. I travel a lot and I read a lot on planes, but that’s really not the same. (...) And so my life is full of chapters where it’s my job to read. But I have huge holes... I didn’t graduate from college, I don’t have a proper education. (...) it’s just like I’ve been bullshitting in diners and bars for going on thirty years.
A Public Space magazine issue #24, at The Fly, in Audubon Park
Founded in 2006, A Public Space is a remarkable independent magazine of literature and culture published four times a year. Each issue is a forum for creativity and experiment, and brings together a collection of established talents and new voices. This wide range of global authors uncovers the extraordinary in the everyday while starting cross-cultural conversations.
What one is known for, what is presented as a life’s work, is not an entirety. These other interests, away from the perfectionism and public attention of primary pursuits, could offer another, less guarded view. You will find in the current issue #24 a series of poems by artist Giorgio de Chirico, the graphic work of novelist Herta Müller, the fiction of artist Dorothea Tanning, a memoir from photographer Gordon Parks about his friend Duke Ellington, director Sally Potter’s work diary, the filmmaker David Lynch’s paintings, and poet Etel Adnan’s notes on weaving.
Here’s an extract of Dream It or Leave It, by Dorothea Tanning:
I am afraid of people in crowds and the sounds they make, I am afraid, too, of unforeseen events, cats, acts of violence, sickness, steep hills, the power of the unknown and my own potential. All unsurprising fears. (...) It is true I am afraid of these things and many others—collisions, immobilities, histrionics, cancer, aberrations. But, in spite of all this, I am impelled by some curious force to open every door, to enter ever cave, to seek among the white briches of dead forests, to wait on the spongy earth of ruined brier-ridden parks, to lie down in abandoned houses... That is how I came to be here.
The Southerner’s Handbook, in Algiers, on the West Bank of the Mississippi River
(with a non-optional Bloody Mary from The Old Point Bar!)
Staring at the Mississippi and the Cityfrom this angle, while sipping on this damn good Bloody Mary from The Old Point Bar, I was “grinning like a possum eating a sweet potato.”* I discovered this seemingly Southern expression while browsing through The Southerner’s Handbook: A Guide to the Good Life published in 2013 by the editors of Garden & Gun magazine. This compilation of more than 100 essays—written by contributors such as John T. Edge, Pableaux Johnson, Julia Reed, and chef John Currence, to name just a few—offers a joyful immersion and somewhat naive vision of modern-day life in the South through 7 chapters: Food, Style, Drink, Sporting & Adventure, Home & Garden, Arts & Culture.
Here’s a short extract from: “The Perfect Bar and Why the South Has so Many of Them”, by Guy Martin, in The Drink section:
“I made a New Year’s resolution,” R. L. Burnside announced at a concert. “I decided I was gonna quit drinkin’, unless I was by myself or with somebody.”
* For a scavenger accustomed to a diet of bugs, slugs, and roadkill, having a fat, juicy sweet potato to gorge on is like winning the lottery.