Category Archives: People

Grandmothers and Their Food


Photographer Gabriele Galimberti has put together a beautiful photo essay depicting grandmothers from around the world with traditional dishes that they’ve cooked. Above is a woman in Haiti, while below is a Brasilian lady with one of my all-time favourite dishes, bobó de camarão.


Delicatessen with Love   [Gabriele Galimberti]

Historical Figures Today


On The Telegraph, a series of famous historical figures are re-imagined. The project was commissioned by the historical TV channel Yesterday, and gives a sense of how these people would have appeared if they were alive today. Pictured above is King Henry VIII:

Renowned for being vain and lavish, King Henry has been given white veneers and hair plugs to hide his balding head.

Known to flaunt his wealth, is now out of his voluminous puffed sleeve velvet gown and in a tailored designer black suit, wearing a sparkling diamond ring and designer watch.

Instead of the cotton shirt fastened up to the chin he now sports an unbuttoned shirt Simon Cowell style and is very much the modern day lady killer.

An avid sportsman and known for being conceited he has been slimmed down. Henry’s vanity would have ensured he would have retained the naturally muscly, rugby-player type figure he had in his youth.

Known for having spent a lot of time outdoors riding, hunting, and playing tennis, Henry VIII has also been given a tan.

Henry has exchanged his uncomfortable flat footed shoes for modern shoes with a heel.

Historical Figures for the 21st Century   [TheTelegraph]

The Last Ice Merchant

This absolutely stunning documentary is about Baltazar Ushca, who has mined glacial ice on Ecuador’s Mount Chimborazo for over 50 years. Due to the cheapness of manufactured ice, he’s the last one still working there – both of his brother’s have retired from the family business.

The Last Ice Merchant   [Vimeo]

Kim Jong-il’s Sushi Chef


GQ Magazine is carrying a fascinating portrait of Kenji Fujimoto, Kim Jong-il’s private sushi chef:

The sushi chef was leaving his apartment when he noticed the stranger outside. He could tell by the man’s suit—black and badly made—that he was North Korean. Right away, the chef was nervous. Even in his midsixties, the chef is a formidable man: He has thick shoulders, a broad chest; the rings on his strong hands would one day have to be cut off. But he’d long since quit wearing his bulletproof vest, and the last time a North Korean made the journey to visit him in Japan, a decade ago, he was there to kill him.

The chef’s name, an alias, is Kenji Fujimoto, and for eleven years he was Kim Jong-il’s personal chef, court jester, and sidekick. He had seen the palaces, ridden the white stallions, smoked the Cuban cigars, and watched as, one by one, the people around him disappeared. It was part of Fujimoto’s job to fly North Korean jets around the world to procure dinner-party ingredients—to Iran for caviar, Tokyo for fish, or Denmark for beer. It was Fujimoto who flew to France to supply the Dear Leader’s yearly $700,000 cognac habit. And when the Dear Leader craved McDonald’s, it was Fujimoto who was dispatched to Beijing for an order of Big Macs to go.

When he finally escaped, Fujimoto became, according to a high-level cable released by WikiLeaks, the Japanese intelligence community’s single greatest asset on the Kim family, rulers of a nation about which stubbornly little is known. We don’t know how many people live there. (Best guess: around 23 million.) It’s uncertain how many people starved to death during the famine of the late ’90s. (Maybe 2 million.) Also mysterious is the number of citizens currently toiling their way toward death in labor camps, places people are sent without trial or sentence or appeal. (Perhaps 200,000.) We didn’t even know the age of the current leader, Kim Jong-un, until Kenji Fujimoto revealed his birth date. (January 8, 1983.)

What we know of North Korea comes from satellite photos and the stories of defectors, which, like Fujimoto’s, are almost impossible to confirm. Though North Korea is a nuclear power, it has yet to build its first stoplight. The phone book hasn’t been invented. It is a nation where old Soviet factories limp along to produce brand-new refrigerators from 1963. When people do escape, they tend to flee from the countryside, where life is more dangerous. Because people rarely defect from the capital, their stories don’t make it out, which leaves a great mystery in the center of an already obscure nation. Which is why Fujimoto’s is the rarest of stories.

Kim Jong-il’s Sushi Chef Kenji Fujimoto: Newsmakers   [GQ]

The Number One Rule

NumberOneRuleThere are some really interesting responses on a Reddit thread which asks, “What is the Number One rule in your profession or hobby?”

What is the “rule #1″ in your profession or hobby?   [Reddit]

The Silent Drama of Photography


Sebastião Salgado recently gave a brilliant TED talk on his story as a photographer and showed some images from his newest project, Genesis:

Brazilian-born Salgado, who shoots only using Kodak film, is known for his incredibly long-term projects, which require extensive travel and extreme lifestyle changes. Workers took seven years to complete and contained images of manual laborers from 26 countries, while Migrations took six years in 43 different countries on all seven continents. Most recently Salgado completed Genesis, an ambitious eight-year project that spanned 30 trips to the world’s most pristine territories, land untouched by technology and modern life. Among Salgado’s many travels for Genesis was a two-month hike through Ethiopia, spanning 500 miles with 18 pack donkeys and their riders. In the words of Brett Abbott, a Getty Museum curator, Salgado’s approach can only be described as “epic.”

Sebastião Salgado: The Silent Drama of Photography   [TED]

The Prophets of Oak Ridge


Last summer three peace activists, one of whom was an 82-year-old nun, broke into Y-12 in Tennessee – ostensibly one of the most secure nuclear weapons facilities in the world. They go on trial next week for sabotage-related charges. Against all odds, they managed to make it through security where they spray-painted slogans calling for swords to be beaten into plowshares before being arrested. Dan Zak tells their story in the Washington Post:

The action last summer was dubbed “Transform Now Plowshares” because its three participants desire the immediate conversion of all nuclear weaponry from agents of war to resources that benefit mankind.

Michael and Sister Megan live in the world as they believe it should be, not in the world as it is.

Sister Megan doesn’t vote.

“It would mean I would be a citizen of this regime. I am a citizen of the world. I act in consequence.”

Michael derides Washington as the belly of the beast.

“Did you know that the last president who wasn’t a war criminal was Herbert Hoover?”

Says Sister Megan of Michael: “His mind is never still.”

Says Michael of Sister Megan: “She’s a visionary.”

Together they’re like an overactive younger brother and patient older sister. Michael summons the brimstone, Sister Megan the bromide.

The Prophets of Oak Ridge   [Washington Post]

Kids with their Most Prized Possessions


Photographer Gabriele Galimberti has created an interesting photo essay in which she’s travelled around the world photographing kids with their most prized possessions. She commented on the differences – and similarities – she observed over the course of the project:

But how they play can reveal a lot. “The richest children were more possessive. At the beginning, they wouldn’t want me to touch their toys, and I would need more time before they would let me play with them,” says the Italian, who would often join in with a child’s games before arranging the toys and taking the photograph. “In poor countries, it was much easier. Even if they only had two or three toys, they didn’t really care. In Africa, the kids would mostly play with their friends outside.”

Yet even children worlds apart share similarities when it comes to the function their toys serve. Galimberti talks about meeting a six-year-old boy in Texas and a four-year-old girl in Malawi who both maintained their plastic dinosaurs would protect them from the dangers they believed waited for them at night – from kidnappers and poisonous animals respectively. More common was how the toys reflected the world each child was born into: so the girl from an affluent Mumbai family loves Monopoly, because she likes the idea of building houses and hotels, while the boy from rural Mexico loves trucks, because he sees them rumbling through his village to the nearby sugar plantation every day.

Pictured above is Maudy, from Kalulushi, Zambia. Below is Virginia, from American Fork, Utah.


Toy Stories   [Gabrielle Galimberti]

Russian Family Isolated in Wilderness for 40 Years


Smithsonian Magazine has a fascinating story about a Russian family who were isolated in the taiga for 40 years before being discovered by a surveying crew in the summer of 1978.

The sight that greeted the geologists as they entered the cabin was like something from the middle ages. Jerry-built from whatever materials came to hand, the dwelling was not much more than a burrow—”a low, soot-blackened log kennel that was as cold as a cellar,” with a floor consisting of potato peel and pine-nut shells. Looking around in the dim light, the visitors saw that it consisted of a single room. It was cramped, musty and indescribably filthy, propped up by sagging joists—and, astonishingly, home to a family of five:

“The silence was suddenly broken by sobs and lamentations. Only then did we see the silhouettes of two women. One was in hysterics, praying: ‘This is for our sins, our sins.’ The other, keeping behind a post… sank slowly to the floor. The light from the little window fell on her wide, terrified eyes, and we realized we had to get out of there as quickly as possible.”

Led by Pismenskaya, the scientists backed hurriedly out of the hut and retreated to a spot a few yards away, where they took out some provisions and began to eat. After about half an hour, the door of the cabin creaked open, and the old man and his two daughters emerged—no longer hysterical and, though still obviously frightened, “frankly curious.” Warily, the three strange figures approached and sat down with their visitors, rejecting everything that they were offered—jam, tea, bread—with a muttered, “We are not allowed that!” When Pismenskaya asked, “Have you ever eaten bread?” the old man answered: “I have. But they have not. They have never seen it.” At least he was intelligible. The daughters spoke a language distorted by a lifetime of isolation. “When the sisters talked to each other, it sounded like a slow, blurred cooing.”

Slowly, over several visits, the full story of the family emerged. The old man’s name was Karp Lykov, and he was an Old Believer—a member of a fundamentalist Russian Orthodox sect, worshiping in a style unchanged since the 17th century. Old Believers had been persecuted since the days of Peter the Great, and Lykov talked about it as though it had happened only yesterday; for him, Peter was a personal enemy and “the anti-Christ in human form”—a point he insisted had been amply proved by Tsar’s campaign to modernize Russia by forcibly “chopping off the beards of Christians.” But these centuries-old hatreds were conflated with more recent grievances; Karp was prone to complain in the same breath about a merchant who had refused to make a gift of 26 poods [940 pounds] of potatoes to the Old Believers sometime around 1900.

Lydia Callis – ASL Interpreter Extraordinaire

Lydia Callis, NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s ASL interpreter, is fantastically animated. She makes quite a striking juxtaposition with Bloomberg, possibly one of the least expressive people on the planet. She’s become so popular that she even has her own fan-tumblr, and according to Kambri Crews of the Huffington Post (also a Child of Deaf Adults, or CODA), Callis’ expressiveness is not play-acting at all:

The only harmful editorial I’ve seen in sharing clips of Callis in action aren’t criticizing her or her skills or uncovering a widespread hatred of deaf people or their language. Nope, they love her and are fascinated by ASL. Instead, their “negative” comments are borne from unfamiliarity with ASL as a language assuming Callis is being “over-animated” or hopped up on Red Bull.

For example, these folks on Huffington Post, excited to share her awesomeness said she’s “mugging for the camera and gesturing wildly“. If you read the full post, you’ll quickly surmise they are big fans of Callis. But in their description of her interpreting, they show their ignorance on how ASL works.

We speakers of ASL know that her exaggerated expressions are key to conveying tone, meaning and emotion. DUH! Sure, it’s a bit lazy on the writer’s part to not research something before making comment. They meant no harm. It was a fun piece. What’s to research? I get it. But many, probably most, people who aren’t familiar with ASL don’t realize Callis’ emphatic signing is an essential attribute of the language.

Meet Lydia Callis, Bloomberg’s Star Interpreter   [NYMag]