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Woouf! Awesome Funky Furnishings

Woouf! rocks.  This Barcelona-based company produces sofas, beanbag chairs, pillows, and other such odds and ends of a distinctly lighthearted and often musical or foody nature, as seen above in their wall of Marshall and Vox amp-shaped beanbag seats, or rather, Wooufall and Woouf amps.  My personal favorite, however, is this:

The Miniwoouf sofa, a full-sized sofa modeled in painstaking detail after the legendary Minimoog synthesizer, one of the first portable synthesizers ever and a true revolutionary product.  A badass instrument and a badass sofa.

I also like their ghetto blaster beanbag seat:

They also have stuff modeled after the Walkman, burgers, ice cream, and Skittles, or as they call them, Wooufies.

On top of this explosion of retro-chic awesomeness, everything is made entirely in Barcelona, versus, say, Shenzhen.  I daresay Woouf! balls harder.  Check out their site.


Georgia About is a fantastic blog about all things Georgian, I highly recommend it. This post about Svaneti is awesome!

Georgia About

Svaneti (Georgian: სვანეთი) is situated on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus mountains in the northwestern part of Georgia. It is the highest inhabited part of the Caucasus.

The characteristic landscape of Upper Svaneti is formed by small villages situated on the mountain slopes, with a natural environment of gorges and alpine valleys and a backdrop of snow-covered mountains.

Svaneti is known for its wonderful scenery and its architectural treasures, including dozens of churches and the famous Svanetian towers erected mainly in the 9th-12th centuries.

The towers were built as protection against invaders and raiders. For many centuries the Svans (Georgian: სვანი) have been in contact with the northern Caucasian tribes on the other side of the mountains and with the Ossetians to the east. Though trading took place, these relations were often hostile, with raiding parties from one or the other group attempting to seize the other’s property.

The towers also protected families during the blood-feuds…

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Great Ballers of Music: Tinariwen

© Thomas Dorn

The band you see above, founded by political exiles in 1979 in the heart of the Sahara, started playing on homemade instruments, fought in Mu’ammar Gadhafi’s guerilla army, slowly built up an international following making few concessions to outside audiences, and just recently won a Grammy. Actually, it’s hard to imagine any greater ballers of music than this legendary, long-running outfit, whose name simply means “Deserts” in the Tuareg language.   (more…)


Georgian Wine at its Best: Pheasant’s Tears

I’ve said Georgia is the place for wine. The oldest evidence for wine-making has been found in Georgia, dating back to 8000 years ago, and wine has been in steady production there since then. Even their indigenous word for wine, ghvino, is thought to have influenced Indo-European languages – vinum (Latin), oinos (Greek), and, of course, vino (Spanish, Italian, Russian, etc).  As of 6000 years ago, the people now called Georgians essentially created the method of winemaking that remains in use today. For those Georgians who make wine at home, they follow roughly the same procedure. Almost all commercial wine, however, has begun to be made using Western European methods, in an effort to appeal to a global palate. Appealing they are, some even excellent. Pheasant’s Tears has stuck to the ways of their distant ancestors, and their wines are nothing short of amazing.

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Georgia: Suggestions and Such (Part 2)

So I’ve told you where to go and what to see, how about some more practical information?  Transportation, costs, accommodations, food and drink…How to make the most of your time and money once you’re there.

Transportation: For far-flung trips to Kazbegi or Kakheti, or even further, it can be useful to rent a car – without doing so, getting to Davit Gareji would have been a huge pain in the ass, and all these stops after the jump, going to and from Kazbegi, would have been unlikely if not impossible without hiring a taxi at an exorbitant fee: (more…)


Georgia: Suggestions and Such (Part 1)

Yes, Jvari is worth the short uphill climb from where the taxi lets you off

So you’ve decided that Georgia looks beautiful, the people sound lovely, and the food delicious. Right you are!  Now you want to visit.  Hurrah! Tourism is a quickly growing sector of the economy, and as I’ve said before, it’s definitely worth it.

Now then, you may ask : “where and when should I go, what is there to see, how do I get around, and what does it cost?  And I have other questions too!” Today we focus on the where…obviously it’s biased towards where I went in the limited time I had, but having done my research, as a hard baller should, I determined that the following would be the highlights of the country, and I was right.

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Hidden Gem: Introducing Georgia

Hidden from whom, you may ask? Certainly for anyone with any background in the Eastern bloc, the Republic of Georgia is no secret; ask any Russian about khachapuri and expect drooling. But for the majority of us here in the West, the Middle East, or Asia, Georgia and the Caucasus in general remain largely unknown. At only 4 million people, it’s smaller than just the capital of American Georgia, and often the latter is what pops into people’s heads when they hear the unqualified name. At least Wikipedia takes you to a disambiguation page…

But I want to change that. Georgia is a lovely, remarkable country, with an ancient and distinctive history and culture, some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve set eyes on, and people that give even Arabs a run for the money in the hospitality department. Let’s not forget that the food and wine are brilliant and plentiful, too. (more…)


Holy Shit! The Light Cycle

Hammacher Schlemmer may be cheesy as all hell and otherwise never get a mention on WBH but LOOK AT THIS:

Yes, it’s basically the Tron motorcycle, and it is in fact a real motorbike that you can ride and buy for, gasp, $55,000.  It may be insane to spend that on a bike, but really only one word can describe it: SIIIIIIICK!

http://www.hammacher.com/Product/Default.aspx?sku=11862 (click to see a video)


Glimpses of Georgia

Gergeti Trinity Church

No, not where Outkast is from.  The country, in the Caucasus.  The Republic of Georgia, Sakartvelo. One of the most lovely places I’ve ever been, where at almost every head turn something gorgeous and unexpected pops into view, where the people shatter your notions of hospitality with their unending kindness and warmth, and where the food and wine are so good that “moderation” ceases to be in your vocabulary.  Here are some photos for the time being:

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BMW Steps up to the 4 Door Coupé, and God Damn.

Mmmmmm

Quick, can you name the current crop of luxury/performance sleek, swept-back, “4 door coupés,” as the industry likes to call them?  They’ve been on the market for several years now:

  • Mercedes CLS (the first, debuting around 2004)
  • Aston Martin Rapide (the one to get on a truly unlimited budget)
  • Porsche Panamera (ugly and atrocious, and blasphemy to the Porsche name, but then they have the Cayenne and Cayman to deal with so Porsche really is in over its head…)
  • Audi Q7 (lovely and recently winning all sorts of accolades)
  • VW Passat CC (Yes, even Volkswagen has got in on it, even if they don’t really run with the players mentioned above)

What’s conspicuously missing? The Bavarians!  It’s been along time in the making, but it’s finally here, the 2013 BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, and boy do they have a knockout.

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We Fail Harder – the Macbook Pro Retina.

FUCK the Macbook Pro Retina. Fuck it.

I’ll come out and say it – I use a regular Macbook Pro and I own two iPhones (an older unlocked one for travel, and a 4S). I convinced my parents to switch from PC to Mac, and I think OS X is the best operating system ever made for normal people (normal people do not use Linux).  Until Monday I thought Apple was awesome – far from perfect, but generally pretty sweet.

I’ve delayed writing this, but Ars Technica hammered the final nail in the coffin.  The MBPR SUCKS.  Sure, it’s sleek and pretty and has a sick display, but a) it’s more expensive than an Apple laptop has been in years (the baseline 15″ MBP has been $1800 for at least 4 years, possibly longer), and b) it is almost ENTIRELY un-upgradeable short of configuring it in the Apple Store for multiple hundreds of extra dollars off the bat.  If you change your computer every year, great, but that means you’re not a hard baller but a superficial punk with money to burn.  If you want a 15″, expensive-ass Macbook Air, great.  Pose away.  If you want something a lot more useful and practical, you got left with only a minor upgrade a couple days ago – to a computer with a 4 year old design.

Well done, Apple assholes.


Serious Eats on DC Beer Gardens

Want all the outdoorsy fun of a rooftop but feeling lazy and want a seat? Then you want a beer garden.  DC doesn’t have many, but the ones it has are all pretty good, summarized here by Serious Eats.  My favorites are the Standard and Biergarten Haus.  Standard has awesome barbecue, Mexican grilled corn, and freshly fried doughnuts in addition to a small but good selection of beer, but be warned: it’s crazy popular and thus very crowded.  Go around happy hour to beat the crowds.  Biergarten Haus is a more properly German kind of place and one of the best bars in the semi-hoody and often dubious (despite what the hipsters may say) H St NE – spacious, quite large list of German beers on tap, lots of German food on offer.  No food after 11pm though, so bear that in mind.

Burrs n Nomz chez Standard. Photo from Serious Eats


Parking Hell in Beirut in One Picture

And you thought I was joking when I said everything about cars here is awful

from “WTF Only in Lebanon” https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2389568345404&set=oa.10150291212630857&type=1


MADEON NEW SONG TEASER!

He’s awesome, he’s a genius, he rocks a mean dancefloor, he’s the bo-est selecta out there, and he only just turned 18 yesterday.  You may remember him from the genius of “Pop Culture” last year. I saw him in concert two weeks ago, and he ain’t no mere flash in the pan.  Madeon is the real deal.  He just released this preview of his upcoming single today, and it is HUGE.  Like, the electro/house equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie. Enjoy.


Little Boots’s New Album Headphones Getting Closer!

talented AND beautiful!

I’ve already briefly addressed it, but Little Boots’s new album, Headphonesis getting the finishing touches for release!  By now a few songs have been released and a couple videos have been made:

 

 

Little Boots aka Victoria Hesketh is immensely talented, and by far the best of the crop of recent electronically-influenced pop singer-songwriters (such as La Roux, Lady Gaga, Adele, etc).  If her upcoming album is as good as her debut, she’ll be a serious contender for a Great Ballers of Music honor. She has a fantastic voice,her songs are intelligent, immensely catchy, and usually quite danceable.  If anything the new album seems even more dancefloor oriented.  Favorites from the previous, debut album, Hands after the jump

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Alcoholic Liquid Nitrogen – The Real Daiquiri

(A continuation from yesterday’s post on the mojito)

If the mojito is liquid air conditioning on a hot day, the daiquiri is like drinking boozy liquid nitrogen, a short, sharp, shock of ultimate cold to the mojito’s enveloping effervescent coolness. Additionally, the daiquiri is a more elegant, refined drink, whereas the mojito is a bit more rustic and working class, but they’re connected regardless. Both were invented in Cuba, and both were perfected at bars that Ernest “And a Bottle of Rum” Hemingway, who drank lots of both, frequented. Before we begin, let me tell you what a daiquiri is NOT:

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Liquid A/C: The Mojito that Hemingway Loved

If you’ve been anywhere near the east coast of the US in the last few days, you know it’s hot. Viciously hot.  July hot. Fucking hot. In such dire conditions, nothing calms, soothes, and cools the soul better than a mojito – the tartness of the lime, the mintiness…of the mint, the light spritz of the soda, and of course, the lovely kick of rum allowing you to sink into a chair and forget all about the muggy misery outside. The history, etc, of the drink has been beaten to death online, so I’ll spare you.  Suffice it to say this wartime imbibement shot back to popularity in the last several years, and if you’re reading this blog, you’ve for sure heard of it.  A few more thoughts on this classic, and how to make the best one after the jump.

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DJ, dammit!

Quick thought here. Read any “respectable” piece of print and the guy who rocks a dancefloor, gets down on the wheels of steel, or drops a bo choon, selecta! is referred to as a “deejay.” NO NO NO. It looks stupid – nobody writes “teevee” – and no self-respecting artist would spell it like that. The word is an acronym, and should ALWAYS BE WRITTEN DJ. This goes for MC, too, by the way. That’s all I have to say on that. Rewind, selecta!


Kickin’ Back in Beirut: Al Falamanki

I’ve said Beirut is laid back, it’s a good place to relax, and more.  As one Lebanese rapper put it, “the national sport of Lebanon is called chilling.”  I’ll also nominate mentalist driving, but let’s go with chilling for now, because it’s hard to imagine anyone ENJOYS driving here, although I’m sure some people take perverse pleasure in pretending it’s the Monaco Grand Prix on the crowded streets (“Shou, Monte Carlo is a party town on ze Med, we are too!”)…but I digress.  More than partying, more than their fabled ski-and-swim in the same day, more than anything else, the Lebanese love to sit back, relax, and enjoy life.  Usually that involves a café, with coffee, tea, beer, snacks, and often an argile (hookah).  The king of all such places in Beirut is Al Falamanki.

Just a small section of the garden

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The Rough Guide to Lebanon (Part 2)

Now that I’ve introduced you all to Lebanon, its complexities, frustrations, beauty, and dichotomies, here’s some practical information.  To review from last post, my rules for Lebanon are 1) keep an open mind; 2) take things as they come; 3) avoid the coastal highway at rush hour (this is a BS rule, but good advice); 4) expect the unexpected.  I’m convinced that if you keep all that inmind, you’ll have a much more enjoyable visit.  Here are some other tips.

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The Rough Guide to Lebanon (Introduction)

So I’m back, wish I were still there, but c’est la vie, habibi.  Lebanon and Beirut have got a lot of press in the last couple years, as parodied brilliantly on the Now Lebanon! blog:

First, I will romanticize Lebanon into a chic, post-war brand so you can buy into this cliché article about why “Beirut is back.” I will tell you that there was a 15-year civil war in the country from 1975-1990, and then contrast several buzzwords and phrases like “battered” “bruised” and “once-divided” with notions of “rebirth” “glamorous” and “united.”

As sharp as Ms Nassar is, this series shall be nothing of the sort.  Rather, it shall highlight the realities of Lebanon and how to get the most out of it.  Rule 1: develop a strong sense of patience…

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Levantine Loveliness: Lebanon

Stormy afternoon at Byblos harbor

Beirut is one of my two homes away from home, so expect lots of of posts on Lebanon.  I have too much to share to only make a few overview posts, but since I’m headed there at the end of this month, I thought I’d share some pictures to show what a spectacular place it is, and why it’s so dear to my heart.

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Serious Heat

So over at Serious Eats, there’s a post about increasing your chile tolerance.  While I agree with the message (namely that some of the best cuisines in the world are pretty hot, and that it’s worth developing a tolerance so that you can enjoy them), I feel they left out a key component:  Start slow and build up to all out!  In the first few days, only add half a jalapeño or a couple drops of hot sauce, then after you’re comfortable with that, increase it steadily and gradually.  Within a few weeks you’ll be a fire-breather, undaunted by whatever the world’s kitchens can throw at you.  Good luck.


Curry Craving: Ravi Kabab

Next time somebody claims you can’t get good Indo-Pak food in the DC area, throw some dal in their face and slap them with a hot chapati, and call them out on their ignorance.  For the meatier side of things subcontinental, I present: Ravi Kabab, an Arlington institution steeped in Lahori deliciousness.

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