Sunday, September 30, 2018

City Notes: DC and elsewhere

Who knew?

***That baobab trees grow in the middle of Dakar, capital of Senegal, according to today's (9/30/18) New York Times. Tall mighty specimens standing up against the urbanizing tide, threatened by climate change - how will they hold out, these beloved symbols of national pride?  They are going fast - half of them gone in the past 50 years because of drought and development. There is a modest effort to protect them, but, according to the report, no major government program in place.

***That Washington's Metro system is so overwhelmed with 'lost and found' objects, mainly the inadvertently misplaced kind, that it is no longer possible to call to find out if a certain pair of black-rimmed prescription glasses has been turned in  by a conscientious citizen or an overnight cleaning crew. Just after getting off a train and discovering my favorite spectacles  missing, I called headquarters where a spokesperson told me I must come in person to their suburban Hyattsville, Md., offices and search through the mountain of possibilities. If I had lost a cell/smart phone, however, I might be able to reclaim it with some (digital?) identification.

***That mayors in many cities across the land are the new hope for  enlightened civic engagement. Regard the number of books being published with this view. The latest is from the mayor of Oklahoma City, and he is even making the rounds of bookstores like a celebrity hawking his wisdom.

*** New in Seoul, Korea, via the October's Atlantic magazine: "Rapidly expanding" stress cafes to ease the urban soul. Offerings there include oxygen generators, apparently since air quality in that nation's capital is so bad. Like having a home in the city, reports one client. And a side benefit: social encounters of a low-key variety especially prized in a nation with a marked competitive edge.

*** And from the Smithsonian this month, a gorgeously illustrated spread on the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, resurrecting the reputation of a formerly grand capital  for the Nabateans, a very cosmopolitan people. All brought to life with the help of modern technology. You don't have to pay much to get there, at least not as much as the team doing 3-D images for a virtual reality tour.

*** Never say the bard wasn't up to date, or that Washington's Folger Theatre doesn't know  how to connect with audiences. Coming on top of a splendidly energetic (i.e. visceral and voluble) production of 'King John,' one of Shakespeare's lesser known history plays, the landmark event space has commissioned an 'immersive' performance piece deliciously (invitingly) called 'Confection,' for a limited run in March 2019 from New York-based Third Rail Projects. Advance word says the short experiential work was inspired by the Folger Shakespeare Library's collection, plus the upcoming Restoration comedy Nell Gwynn. What's that again? Bits and bites, oral and sensual, on offer in the  semi-sacred Reading Rooms throughout a 45-minute show.  Staying Modern in Style, I'd say.
Does the banner phrase ( press release material) "A rollicking rumination on opulence"  entice you? It ought to also pierce you with thought as well about the role of sweets in everyday life.
Also  note that the work is being done in association with Before ‘Farm to Table’: Early Modern Foodways and Cultures, a Mellon initiative in collaborative research, convened by the Folger Institute.

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