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In the News 02.05.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 02.05.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@chantal_li
In the News 02.05.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@prettylittlefawn
In the News 02.05.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@randigarrettdesign

My Woody Allen Problem

On the morning of the Oscar nominations, I was chatting with a stranger about movies, as one does. The conversation turned to Woody Allen. “My son has seen all his movies, and he thinks he’s innocent,” she said. “I’ve seen all his movies, and I think he’s guilty,” I said. There was not much else to say.

There is a lot more to say. The words we chose weren’t quite the right ones. Innocence and guilt are legal (and also metaphysical) standards, but when we talk about the behavior of artists and our feelings about them, we are inevitably dealing with much messier, murkier, subjective issues. It’s not just a matter of whether you believe Dylan Farrow’s accusation of sexual abuse — reiterated a few weeks ago in a television interview — or the denial from her father, Mr. Allen. It’s also a matter of who deserves the benefit of the doubt.

The charge that Mr. Allen molested Dylan Farrow surfaced in 1992, in the wake of his breakup with Mia Farrow. That rupture was caused by Mia Farrow’s discovery that Mr. Allen was sexually involved with Soon-Yi Previn, who was her adopted daughter, though not Mr. Allen’s. His defenders (including his and Mia Farrow’s adopted son Moses) suggest that the allegation of abuse was the invention of a spurned woman lashing out against the man who had humiliated her.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

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A Kingdom Of Dust

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On a summer day in the San Joaquin Valley, 101 in the shade, I merge onto Highway 99 past downtown Fresno and steer through the vibrations of heat. I’m headed to the valley’s deep south, to a little farmworker town in a far corner of Kern County called Lost Hills. This is where the biggest irrigated farmer in the world — the one whose mad plantings of almonds and pistachios have triggered California’s nut rush — keeps on growing, no matter drought or flood. He doesn’t live in Lost Hills. He lives in Beverly Hills. How has he managed to outwit nature for so long?

The GPS tells me to take Interstate 5, the fastest route through the belly of the state, but I’m partial to Highway 99, the old road that brought the Okies and Mexicans to the fields and deposited a twang on my Armenian tongue. The highway runs two lanes here, three lanes there, through miles of agriculture broken every 20 minutes by fast food, gas station, and cheap motel. Tracts of houses, California’s last affordable dream, civilize three or four exits, and then it’s back to the open road splattered with the guts and feathers of chickens that jumped ship on the slaughterhouse drive. Pink and white oleanders divide the highway, and every third vehicle that whooshes by is a big rig. More often than not, it is hauling away some piece of the valley’s bounty. The harvest begins in January with one type of mandarin and ends in December with another type of mandarin and in between spills forth everything in your supermarket produce and dairy aisles except for bananas and mangoes, though the farmers here are working on the tropical, too.

I stick to the left lane and try to stay ahead of the pack. The big-rig drivers are cranky two ways, and the farmworkers in their last-leg vans are half-asleep. Ninety-nine is the deadliest highway in America. Deadly in the rush of harvest, deadly in the quiet of fog, deadly in the blur of Saturday nights when the fieldwork is done and the beer drinking becomes a second humiliation. Twenty miles outside Fresno, I cross the Kings, the river that irrigates more farmland than any other river here. The Kings is bone-dry as usual. To find its flow, I’d have to go looking in a thousand irrigation ditches in the fields beyond.

Read the rest of this article at: The California Sunday Magazine

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The Daredevil Climber Risking His Life For Breathtaking Views

It’s 1am in New York City when Vitaliy Raskalov hops over a wall and slinks into the construction site of a skyscraper. Along with two friends, the 24-year-old scuttles past piles of iron and wood covered in tarp, keeping his shadow low to the ground as they dash towards a concrete stairwell.

The 290m-high building won’t officially open until 2018, making this the perfect opportunity for what Vitaliy does best: sneaking his way to the most commanding views in the world.

“Security is always the hardest part,” he says. “There’ll only be a few guards on a construction site in the US, but they have a lot of motion-sensor cameras and you have to be smart to cheat that system.”

In this case, avoiding surveillance means climbing out onto the building’s unfinished exterior, crossing beams one foot at a time as the city shines below, then scaling the scaffolding until it’s safe to come back inside.

Four hours later, just as dawn breaks over Manhattan, Vitaliy finally pulls himself to the top of a crane extending from the tower… only to realise there’s one last camera pointing right at him.

“Fortunately for us it hadn’t been connected yet,” he says now, six months on. “I think if I climbed that place a few days later, they would have caught me.”

Vitaliy has spent the past seven years pulling off similar feats at landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Christ the Redeemer in Rio and the Great Pyramid of Giza. He even climbed 650m up the unfinished Shanghai Tower, a building so tall that a change of weather stranded him above the clouds.

One picture he took (featured below) may look like it’s taken from an airplane, but the tops of those two buildings – Shanghai’s World Financial Centre and the Jin Mao Tower – were all that could be seen.

“We sat there for 18 hours waiting for it to clear up so we could climb down again,” he says. “The amazing part was that it rained on all of Shanghai that day – except for us.”

Video clips of Vitaliy’s escapades are watched by millions online, consistently drawing variations of the same comment: “I’m getting sweaty palms just watching this.”

What makes viewing particularly hard is that he doesn’t use safety equipment. Instead he takes only a camera phone, a selfie stick and a GoPro strapped to his head, usually climbing in the same clothes he’d wear on any given day.

“There’s no special technique,” says Vitaliy, who’s originally from Kiev but moved to Moscow at the age of 12. “I guess it’s always been a case of… if I know I can’t do something, then I want to do it. And that all started because I was scared of heights.”

As a teen, he remembers being on the roof of a nine-story block of flats and shuddering at the sight of his friends sitting along the edge, their legs dangling over the side.

In 2009, Vitaliy dropped out of his journalism degree, bought a camera and began exploring with it. One day, when two friends took him to another rooftop, it felt like the camera gave him a reason to be there, like the lens kept everything at a safe remove. “And so I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to confront my fear through photography?’”

Read the rest of this article at: Huck

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The White Darkness

The man felt like a speck in the frozen nothingness. Every direction he turned, he could see ice stretching to the edge of the Earth: white ice and blue ice, glacial-ice tongues and ice wedges. There were no living creatures in sight. Not a bear or even a bird. Nothing but him.

It was hard to breathe, and each time he exhaled the moisture froze on his face: a chandelier of crystals hung from his beard; his eyebrows were encased like preserved specimens; his eyelashes cracked when he blinked. Get wet and you die, he often reminded himself. The temperature was nearly minus forty degrees Fahrenheit, and it felt far colder because of the wind, which sometimes whipped icy particles into a blinding cloud, making him so disoriented that he toppled over, his bones rattling against the ground.

The man, whose name was Henry Worsley, consulted a G.P.S. device to determine precisely where he was. According to his coördinates, he was on the Titan Dome, an ice formation near the South Pole that rises more than ten thousand feet above sea level. Sixty-two days earlier, on November 13, 2015, he’d set out from the coast of Antarctica, hoping to achieve what his hero, Ernest Shackleton, had failed to do a century earlier: to trek on foot from one side of the continent to the other. The journey, which would pass through the South Pole, was more than a thousand miles, and would traverse what is arguably the most brutal environment in the world. And, whereas Shackleton had been part of a large expedition, Worsley, who was fifty-five, was crossing alone and unsupported: no food caches had been deposited along the route to help him forestall starvation, and he had to haul all his provisions on a sled, without the assistance of dogs or a sail. Nobody had attempted this feat before.

Worsley’s sled—which, at the outset, weighed three hundred and twenty-five pounds, nearly double his own weight—was attached to a harness around his waist, and to drag it across the ice he wore cross-country skis and pushed forward with poles in each hand. The trek had begun at nearly sea level, and he’d been ascending with a merciless steadiness, the air thinning and his nose sometimes bleeding from the pressure; a crimson mist colored the snow along his path. When the terrain became too steep, he removed his skis and trudged on foot, his boots fitted with crampons to grip the ice. His eyes scanned the surface for crevasses. One misstep and he’d vanish into a hidden chasm.

Worsley was a retired British Army officer who had served in the Special Air Service, a renowned commando unit. He was also a sculptor, a fierce boxer, a photographer who meticulously documented his travels, a horticulturalist, a collector of rare books and maps and fossils, and an amateur historian who had become a leading authority on Shackleton. On the ice, though, he resembled a beast, hauling and sleeping, hauling and sleeping, as if he were keeping time to some primal rhythm.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

How to Not Die in America

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On the second Tuesday in June, I start to feel fluish. If this is 2016 and I’m still a freelance writer, I’m losing money immediately on the assignments I can’t complete because my vision is blurry and my thoughts are erratic. If this is 2013, I am soon taken off the roster at the cafe where I work.

I am out of my mind with anxiety as I hobble to the clinic, sweating, and pay $60 for cough syrup, $300 for the 10-minute visit (if I even have that in the bank; it’s about a week’s worth of my earnings slinging coffee). Once I realize I can’t keep down the cough syrup and start spitting up bile, maybe I’m so feverish and broke I stay in bed without realizing the bacteria I’ve inhaled is more lethal than the flu. So perhaps I just up and die right there.
But let’s say I somehow make it to the hospital. A friend drives me, because a 15-minute ambulance ride can cost nearly $2,000, which I don’t have. I’m struggling financially and I’ve fallen behind on my ACA payments. My friend realizes in the car I’m not making any sense, and that’s because my organs have already begun to shut down. My temperature is well over 100. When the doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong, they submit me to a credit check before advanced treatment.

My credit is awful. I have a massive, unpaid bill from a few years back when someone made international calls on my stolen phone. Maybe, because of this, I’m transferred to a public hospital, where there aren’t 20-odd specialists to arrange an “unusual” surgery. Doctors are required to stabilize a patient, but they aren’t required to, say, stabilize a patient just long enough to keep them breathing and take them to another hospital with a full infectious disease wing to do something risky. So maybe that’s when I die, before they even figure out what’s wrong, because I’m not the type of patient whose financial health can support an elaborate, life-saving procedure.
But even if the hospital could be convinced to ignore my distinct lack of liquidity, in one of these alternate timelines I don’t have a parent with the time and language skills and resources to come down to New York and negotiate with doctors who need a legal surrogate to parse a series of difficult options. It’s not like I can do it myself, in a medically induced coma. And already, two days after being admitted, I am racking up bills for anesthesia, the input of six specialists, radiology, and antibiotics that come to nearly $30,000. And without the treatment, which costs an additional $12,705 for just for a few hours of the surgeon’s time, I am dead.
Let’s imagine, though, that I get lucky and my mother makes it to New York in time. She demands they do anything within their power to save me and puts up for the surgery, using her own credit. She convinces the paper-pushers she’s good for the bills. I am, after all, her only child. I’m in the ICU for 10 days; the baseline cost can be up to $10,000 a night, which doesn’t include the ventilators, the sensors, the multiple IV drips jacked directly into my neck.

By the time I’m out of the hospital, we have been billed $642,650.76. If this is a few years earlier, the well-regarded medical center where I have just spent nearly a month is flat-out refusing requests for financial aid, sending bills for emergency surgery to a collection agency that puts liens on the homes of patients’ families and forces them to foreclose. I’m probably not aware this is happening until I’m back in my apartment, on a three-times-daily schedule of antibiotic IV treatments, which have to be administered by a home nurse. She’s expensive.
In this version of the story, I have survived, but been without a paycheck for the better part of the summer. Around the time I run out of oxycodone and start waking up in tears, completely paralyzed by pain, the medical bills have begun to pile up on my stoop. I am woozy, spending long, featureless days in bed, trying to remember what kind of person I had been before I went under, and I need help to raise my scooped-out torso from bed. I can’t lift anything or cook for myself or walk more than a block. Maybe I fester for awhile in a rehab center, in the absence of there being anyone readily available to make sure I don’t waste away.

Never mind recovering physically or financially in any of these scenarios: I can’t imagine surviving emotionally, fielding calls from collections agents, facing eviction, waiting for the pain meds to hit so I can keep at a futile job search with an IV still dangling from my side. I am 29 years old, with no pre-existing conditions before this moment, and I am unemployed and exhausted and in pain all the time.

Read the rest of this article at: Splinter

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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