The art director at the newspaper I'm working with in Ho Chi Minh City opened this great cafe in "Korea Town" late last year.
I strung together this quick video tour. It's located in a former American house--built for high level American military and the like. The house was divided into three sections some times after the war, and the cafe owners bought "a third" last year from a doctor.
It's a great retreat from the overwhelming noise and clutter of the city.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
So the good folks over at the Agonist are among the likes of those that liberally steal content (mine!) from freelancers (like me!) who are out there breaking our backs to eek out a living. Should I provide a link? Nahhh.
And when you track down an email for one of them (for instance, the one who calls himself "Quiet Bill") it bounces back.
Thanks, guys! Hugs and kisses to you from the front lines.
The American newspaper death toll continues to soar. Here's a sad look at the final farewell of the Rocky Mountain News. The San Francisco Chronicle may be next. Terrifying for those of us in the industry; sad and deep losses for the country.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Last week the Christian Science Monitor published my piece on the commune conundrum in Copenhagen. In brief: a 40-year-old commune now on its third generation is getting more and more pressure from the government to "normalize"--its word for dissolution. But Danes love the place so it's hard to tell what will happen.
Here's a video (photos and video combo) that should provide a broader look. My personal feeling: the place looked cute, with a few funky houses, but nothing I wouldn't have found anywhere else. And there was a menacing feeling. Several times we passed really aggressive teenagers--Christiania's Crips and Bloods, I guess? A bit of hyperbole, for sure, but there wasn't the warmth and openness that some locals went on about. Not by a long shot.
Anyhow, I got screamed at for taking photos (in this case, video) of Pusher Street.
And here are a few thumbnail images from Christiania:
The commune is on the site of an old military barracks in downtown Copenhagen. Many first moved into the barracks, but others built homes for themselves, some of them quite nice.
..but most of them just kind of funky.
The area is situated on riverfront property, which developers have their eye on.
The Christiania flag flies high.
The commune is considered somewhat of an artists' haven. But I've seen lots of artists' havens, and even a few other communes, and this one didn't strike me as anything spectacular. And the drug culture was prevalent.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Along with the "star" t shirts and caps, Tin Tin in Vietnam pictures, dominoes, chopsticks and buddhas that fill the souvenir outlets in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, there are a lot of small shops sporting cases and cases of old Zippo lighters.
All of the Zippos to be collected have been, so there are a lot of fakes out and about. But their fame and value are rooted in the hands of American G.I.s., who made their lighters an iconic symbol of the failed war.
While Americans back home wrapped silver chains around their wrists engraved with soldiers' names, the soldiers themselves carried silver Zippo lighters engraved with their own names, or more likely with a message that only they would read.
Etched on many of those silver lighters were the words "Not scared, just lonely"
Sunday, February 15, 2009
First full day back in Saigon. The "moto" driver across the street from the hotel recognized me this morning and came up curbside to meet me. He waved away the address to the newspaper with a smile. He knows the way. He's ferried me there enough times over the last few months.
Tired. So tired. Sleep comes, but not for long.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Once more back at the Doha Armpit Airport, although I have not....
a) cried in the bathroom. But if I have to cry in the bathroom in the Doha Airport, I prefer the handicap toilet behind the coffee bar.
b) spent any time in the "Quiet Room," as I did last time on my 14 hour, You Cannot Leave the Airport layover (which accounts for all the crying in the bathroom.) Anyhow, the Quiet Room: It is quiet, but also smelly, which cancels out the quiet. I can buy earplugs to drown out the sound, but nose plugs?
This is my third time routed through here, and the second time I was allowed outside. And since it was my second time, and both times I saw all of a four mile circumference around the airport, I consider myself fully qualified to label Doha a dump.
Posted by Patti McCracken at 3:12 AM
Thursday, February 12, 2009
This photo is from an Austrian Times article about a farmer who transports his calves in a VW Golf.
Don't know what all the fuss is about. My friend Gloria used to keep her three pet sheep at a farm in Wolfsthal til they ran away. The farmer called her one day, frantic. She hustled on over in her little Ford to start the search, but got a call enroute from the farmer saying everything was okay.
"The police found them at the train station. I don't know how, but he got them all in his VW and they're headed back here together."
Which is why, of course, it is always better to use my London Black Cab to transport the sheep (and calves?) of Austria, like we later did. It's much roomier for them in the back and all you get is a little body slamming going on.
And a lot of poo pellets.
Passport Visa? Check.
Bathing suit? Check.
Motorbike Helmet? Check.
Clothes? Toiletries? Medicines? Who the hell cares.
Goodbye circular doses of snow, ice, sleet, rain and wind.
Sin Chao, Vietnam.
At least for now.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Someone left a comment on the blog but it got let go as spam. I'm not sure it was, though, and I'm trying to retrace. Anyhow, Patricia, if you want to try to leave a message again, please feel free, but please give me more info to go on than your previous comment.
Posted by Patti McCracken at 10:50 PM
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Remi once put herself in harm's way to protect another dog, a friend of hers. Both dogs (jack russells) were out on the field when a romping, rollicking Rhodesian Ridgeback came gallumping up. The Rhodesian meant no harm, but was unaware of its own size. The other jack froze in terror as the ridgeback bound toward her. Remi jumped into action, wrapped her front paws around the neck of her friend to shield her from the big dog.
It was touching and a little bit heroic. Here's a look at a real hero. Get out your hankie.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Mauthausen is located in one of Austria's most beautiful valleys, noted for its spectacular wine. The village itself is so cute it should get its cheeks pinched.
The site of the concentration camp is easy to miss. It's not poorly marked, but certainly understated.
A rather large (for Austria) farm sits in front of it, neighing horses and such.
But here are a few sobering facts about one of the largest concentration camps in WWII, and where "Dr. Death" Aribert Heim carried out his horrors:
• 320,0000 were killed here. Either by starvation, worked to death or specifically targeted executions.
• It was a camp generally designated for intelligentsia.
• The prisoners first slept two to a bed, then three to a bed. Then four to a bed. As bodies became more skeletal and shrunken, more could fit in the bed.
• The camp was built by prisoners of Dachau.
• It was controlled by the German state, but privately owned (granite quarry).
I visited there a few months ago. In my career I've seen and heard a lot. Not as much as other journalists, but a lot. I interviewed a dear friend who had his legs blown off in a car bomb in Bosnia, a woman sent to Siberia by her very own brother-in-law, a mother whose newborn baby was stolen by her doctor, a principal's secretary whose school was under siege by a student gunman in Kentucky. But Mauthausen hit me right in the chest.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Wolfsthal, with a view toward Hainburg
After a press conference in Vienna (attending, not giving), Remi and I tooled around Hainburg and Wolfsthal, looking for a good place to walk in bad weather.
We didn't find one. Too much wind. But we did enjoy a ride on dirt roads through the fields. Remi scouted rabbits and deer, and I rolled down the window so I could listen to the slush slap up against the car as I drove through puddles.
Monday, February 02, 2009
My 11 y.o. nephew didn't have to schlep into London's West End today (he's in Oliver! with Rowan Atkinson), because many West End shows were canceled because of snow. He didn't seem to mind.