Newsstand for November 1-14, 2018
HOME E-MAIL JOE PRINT 2018 COLUMNS ARCHIVES SEARCH LOG OUT
Read all about it! Italy's coffee culture grapples with change. The "best" pizza in Brooklyn and safe spaces for women in Zanzibar. San Antonio's foodie culture and Hong Kong's record-breaking bridge. Braniff's stews speak of the colorful old days and Philadelphia's new rail park. The last bastion of colonial France in North America. And much more.
Allora! Italy's Coffee Culture Has More Worries Than Starbucks
Italy's renowned coffee culture is boiling over--or dripping or French pressing--with change. It's not just the splashy arrival of Starbucks in Milan, which we covered last month with a dash of spirit. (Italians call that coffee correcto, by the way.) The current frenzy is over the Moka pot, the iconic espresso-brewing appliance that for decades has been in every Italian household. But after more than 100 million units produced, Bialetti, the Moka pot's inventor and marketer, appears headed for bankruptcy. The culprit? The rapid growth of pod coffee machines such as Keurig and Nespresso. The Moka pot uses ground coffee, of course, and that market has contracted by six percent while the market for coffee capsules has grown 23 percent year over year. Bialetti's woes haven't gone unnoticed by Italy's largest coffee producers, Lavazza and Illy. They are buying up competitors and cutting marketing deals to secure their home market and expand internationally. Meanwhile, all this change motivated The Guardian to compare home-brew methods. The Moka pot, cheap and stylish as it may be, didn't do well. Neither did the cafetière and other French-press-style products. Pod machines scored quite well, but environmental concerns are hard to ignore. The overall winner? Inexpensive pour-over "funnel" systems that require nothing more than a filter, freshly boiled water and high quality beans that are ground on demand. (By the way, for a primer on Italy's convoluted coffee culture, surf to my primer on what Romans do for love).
Around the World From Brooklyn to Zanzibar
BROOKLYN: If you think that everything fabulous emanates from Brooklyn, you'll be interested in what Thrillest thinks is the New York borough's best pizza. "While Manhattan reigned over [the pizza empire] for generations, Brooklyn is heir apparent," the site says. It tabs nearly two dozen places from hipster hangouts like Roberta's to old-time classics such as Totonno's and L&B Spumoni Gardens. (Trust me, friends: As a born and raised Brooklynite, go to Spumoni Gardens for spumoni. The pizza, especially the sauce-on-top Sicilian style, is wildly overrated.)
DODGE CITY, KANSAS: As Election Day nears, charges of "voter fraud" and "voter suppression" are hurled by both sides. But nothing is quite so strange as the situation in Dodge City, a town of 27,000 people best known as the fictional home of Gunsmoke. These days, it is heavily Hispanic and the Republican county clerk has come under fire from Democrats because she moved the only polling place outside the city limits. That gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "getting out of Dodge," eh? And regardless of where you stand politically, the evidence in Kansas does tilt heavily toward voter suppression. Besides the single polling placed outside the city limits in Dodge, which has 13,000 voters, the Wichita Eagle has documented a series of questionable tactics by political leaders.
HONG KONG: Just weeks after the launch of a disputed rail station and high-speed rail routes to mainland China, Hong Kong has another mega-controversial mega-project. The world's longest sea bridge (above) now links the city with Macau and Zhuhai on the mainland. Bizarrely, however, the 55-kilometer bridge-and-tunnel road is barred to local taxis and private vehicles require a special permit.
PITTSBURGH: The massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood last weekend naturally has dominated the news in recent days. But if all you know about the one-time Steel City is that tragedy, you're missing Pittsburgh's miraculous revival as a tech center. Still, the city's 300,000 residents are uneasy about the boom and wonder why the economic benefits haven't been felt across all social strata of the community.
PHILADELPHIA: The initial phase of the Philadelphia Rail Park, "an ambitious project to turn a dilapidated former rail thoroughfare into public green space," is now open for walkers and gawkers. When completed, it will offer three miles of paths and tunnels converted from a rail link that once moved goods for the city's manufacturing community.
ROME: Sure, you know the Coliseum and the Pantheon and the Vatican and all that cherubic art. But did you know Rome has an Art Nouveau enclave? It's a "delightfully bizarre district just north of the city center"--and it was all built by one man, the Florentine Gino Coppedè. Although now one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in town, Romans hated his work so completely that Coppedè committed suicide in 1927.
ST. PIERRE AND MIQUELON: The French empire in North America took a big hit after the French and Indian Wars. It shriveled after the Louisiana Purchase. But The Washington Post explains that St. Pierre and Miquelon, just 16 miles off the coast of Canada, remain in French hands. With 5,500 still-proud-to-be-French citizens, the islands are the "last remnant of France's once-vast colonial empire in North America."
SAN ANTONIO: With more than 1.5 million residents, "San Antonio is bigger than Austin, bigger than San Francisco or Seattle, bigger than New Orleans. Yet it's forever overshadowed by those celebrated food cities." No more, says The Wall Street Journal. The city is "taking a seat at the chef's table without losing respect for the Tex-Mex, tacos and barbecue that got it here in the first place."
ZANZIBAR: Zanzibar is 99 percent Muslim and women and men in Stone Town, historic heart of the island, traditionally occupied separate public spaces. However, economic development, led by tourism, has usurped the spaces where women once gathered." But a group called Reclaim Women’s Space is rebuilding public gathering areas exclusively for women.
Tight Connections ...
Pucci on a Plane The excesses of Braniff, a once-conservative Texas carrier that went overboard with pastels, unbridled ambition and unrestrained route expansions before collapsing in 1982, continue to be documented. The latest is tales of the stewardesses, who were dressed in cacophonously colored uniforms and bizarre headgear created by Italian designer Emilio Pucci. "The airline was ... the intersection of fashion, design, sex--and unprecedented mobility," writes the son of one of Braniff's stewardesses.
TSA: Safe Space for Abusers Why won't this story surprise you? Just a month after taxpayers footed the bill for a settlement in a sexual-harassment suit filed against a federal air marshall, he was promoted to a top job at the TSA. This happened even after an internal reprimand. The accuser, who is believed to have received a settlement in the six-figure range, was demoted.
The Mania of Mall Owners The bankruptcy of Sears means it is renouncing leases on hundreds of locations in the nation's shopping malls. The mall owners' response? Good riddance. Which is very weird because retailers aren't exactly knocking down mall doors looking for retail space.-- Joe Brancatelli
This column is Copyright © 2018 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2018 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.