Green Guide, Haircutting, Vaping, Play, Terrence Malick, Irish Pubs, Kenya, Nicholson Baker, Latin,


Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

The Green Book

Alexander Nazaryan | Newsweek | 9th March 2017

Retracing the hotels and restaurants recommended in The Negro Motorist Green Book, published from 1936 to 1967 when black motorists in America needed a guide of their own to places that were safe and welcoming in states where a simple traffic stop could be fatal. The Green Book was an “overground railroad”. Here, you could fill your gas tank. “The Underground Railroad promised freedom; the Green Book promised something just as fundamentally American: leisure” (4,700 words)

High Fade

Bryan Washington | Paris Review | 13th March 2017

The American male haircut. Field notes from Houston, New Orleans, and elsewhere. “Coming up in Texas, my first barber was a black guy, a veteran and a friend of my father’s, and also a homophobe and an apologist. But he’d fade you up like no one’s business. He cradled my head like a sculptor. I came to associate his art with a brutish, inert, many-armed ignorance. Your hair, he told me, should only ever be done by a black man. No one else will do you justice; they don’t have it in them” (999 words)

Big Tobacco Has Caught Startup Fever

Felix Gillette et al | Bloomberg Businessweek | 8th March 2017

No more smoking; at least, no more cigarettes. The companies formerly known as Big Tobacco are chasing the tech industry model. They want Nicotine 2.0 — a “killer tobacco app that doesn’t kill”. BATS and Reynolds are betting on vaping. Philip Morris is pushing the IQOS, a cigar-like gizmo that heats tobacco without burning. “Once people see everybody around them using these new products, that constantly accelerates the process. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy” (4,080 words)

Escape To Another World

Ryan Avent | 1843 | 13th March 2017

Video games are getting so good that less-educated young males seem genuinely happy to play them all day instead of working or socialising, at least while they can live at home and sponge off parents. This arrangement offends traditional ideas about how society should operate; it does seem hard on parents; but perhaps we should see an escape into video-gaming as a benign outcome for unskilled youths growing up in a society which has less and less need for their work (4,100 words)

The Not-So-Secret Life Of Terrence Malick

Eric Benson | Texas Monthly | 13th March 2017

After Days Of Heaven received lukewarm reviews, Terrence Malick vanished for 20 years. The filming had been difficult, his marriage was breaking up. “Rumours circulated around Hollywood that he was living in a garage, that he was teaching philosophy at the Sorbonne, that he was working as a hairdresser.” He was, in fact, spending more time back in his home town of Austin, Texas, where he now seems happily settled. His latest film, Song To Song, is “a raucous love letter” to the city (5,100 words)

Meet The Landlord

Siobhán Brett | Eater | 7th March 2017

Mel McNally wrote a student thesis on Irish pub architecture, identified six basic styles — and founded the Irish Pub Company in 1990 to ship them worldwide. Wherever the departure lounge, the bar with the harp motifs and the ridged glass partitions is probably one of his. “More than 500 bars and 27 years later, IPC continues to ship the makings of the Irish bar as far afield as Russia and Kazakhstan”. The fixtures are flatpacked, the fittings are bespoke. “Good stained glass makes a difference” (2,300 words)

Tristan Voorspuy, Stylishly Mad

Aidan Hartley | Spectator | 11th March 2017

A legendary tour-guide and party-giver in Kenya, Tristan Voorspuy “walked with the stiff, bow-legged gait of a man who has fallen off a polo pony too many times”. He once “rode his horse into the bar at the Muthaiga Club during a stag party. From the saddle, he toasted the groom, his steed defecated on the parquet and off he trotted between astonished drinkers”. He had “a wild temper”. But the rioters who overran his farm had even wilder tempers. They shot him dead (Metered paywall) (812 words)

Mr Nick Baker Teaches Today

William Finnegan | New York Review Of Books | 13th March 2017

Nicholson Baker taught for 28 days in Maine, then turned the experience into a book of 700 pages, most of them dialogue. Substitute reads “like a lightly curated, benign surveillance tape, somehow capturing all the downtime, chaos, non sequiturs, and lost-in-the-infosphere weirdness of a modern American schoolroom”. The schools are infuriating, the pupils captivating — “Loud bad funny brilliant sullen blithe anxious children. If I were a real teacher, I would go completely nuts. I love them” (3,230 words)

The Vatican’s Latinist

John Byron Kuhner | New Criterion | 7th March 2017

Revered as “one of the greatest masters of the Latin language since the Renaissance”, Reginald Foster spent 40 years at the Vatican as Papal Latin secretary until his retirement in 2009. “His clothes were notorious in Rome. Believing that the religious habit no longer reflected the simple garb of the people as it once had, he gave up his cassock and bought his clothes at Sears: blue pants and a blue shirt. The Swiss guards called him il benzinaio, the gas-station attendant” (4,010 words)

The Mathematician In The Asylum

Romeo Vitelli | Providentia | 7th March 2017

The French mathematician André Bloch gave his name to Bloch’s theorem, Bloch space, and Bloch’s constant. He wrote influential papers on complex analysis until his death in 1948. He corresponded with other eminent mathematicians, but never went out. Those curious enough to visit him at home discovered that he was a triple murderer confined to a Parisian lunatic asylum, where he had learned advanced mathematics from books and journals, and appeared “entirely sane” (1,150 words)

Video of the day: Directors Cut

What to expect:

Dystopian view of social media. We are all laughing and sharing. But sharing what? (1’00”)

Thought for the day

To say that a belief is rational is to talk about how it stands in relation to other beliefs
Alasdair MacIntyre

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