The Sunday Magazine: Robert Christgau

When it comes to a critic of any artistic endeavor you must agree on a frame of reference. This comes about by reading the critic’s words and comparing them to your experience. The ones which last are the ones which provide insight beyond what you’ve found on your own. With the publication of the recent “Perfumes: The Guide” by Tania Sanchez and Luca Turin there is an interesting perspective provided by short piercing reviews which add up to a greater overall commentary on perfume as art or commerce. This kind of critic has become a bit of an anachronism. When it comes to music there is only one left; Robert Christgau.

Robert Christgau

When I moved to the New York City-area in 1984 one of my favorite reads were the music reviews of Mr. Christgau. He was the lead music critic for The Village Voice weekly newspaper. I was on the train from Brewster to Grand Central Station, in September of that year, and I began to read my first “Consumer Guide” where he reviewed a dozen newly released albums. As I looked at the list I agreed with his assessment of the new tunes from Husker Du, Hoodoo Gurus, The Cars, and Miles Davis. Like all good critics it is when they savage what you like, you feel a little twinge. Which is how I felt when next to the label “Must to Avoid” was one of the albums on heavy rotation in my car. Here is his review of it:

SCANDAL FEATURING PATTY SMYTH: Warrior (Columbia) The ryffs keep the treadmyll moving with nary a twytch, not once does a lyric offer a detail of behavior or decor, or even a real metaphor–the sexist twaddle of Nyck Gylder's "stereo jungle child" in the title chartbuster, now transmogrified into lyberated twaddle because a woman is singing, is as hot as it gets. C

Despite that it was always his opposite side of that coin which has provided me with so much music he pointed out to me. From that same column here is his “Pick Hit”:

KING SUNNY ADE AND HIS AFRICAN BEATS: Aura (Island) Three albums into this world-class popmeister's American career, his U.S. debut begins to seem like the compromise purists claimed it was–not because it's too American, but because it's not American enough. Now when I want something subtly polypercussive I'll choose one of his Nigerian LPs rather than Juju Music. And when I want a heavier, hookier groove I'll pull out Synchro System–or more likely, this one. With Martin Meissonnier back behind the glass and Stevie Wonder's earthbound harmonica on native ground, it's every bit as consistent as The Message and–by (Afro-) American standards–considerably more propulsive. At times it's even obvious, regular. Next time I assume they'll go all out for a dance-chart hit. And I can't wait to hear it. A

Within my first year of being a young man in NYC I would be at a show featuring King Sunny Ade and His African Beats.

I look at my giant collection of digital music and realize there are artists I never would have given a try without reading about them first in a “Consumer Guide”.

As the publishing world has changed Mr. Christgau has continued to publish reviews in the same compact style. His current gig is at the music blog Noisey. Just so you know it wasn’t a phenomenal personal memory; just a well-archived website which allowed my trip back to the first column I read.  More importantly at robertchristgau.com all his reviews and other writings are gathered in one place. It is the history of rock music one album at a time.

There is such a consistency to his perspective after nearly fifty years of doing this it is unfathomable to me. Even for me almost thirty-four years since that first column I read he has given me a new artist I’ve listened to over and over; “Oil of Every Person’s Un-Insides” by Sophie.

It is the epitome of what artistic criticism is meant to do. Mr. Christgau has been my guide through rock music and all its iterations.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Movie Star v. Celebrity

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I woke up Wednesday morning and over breakfast started scanning Facebook. I came upon a post by the talented Karen Dubin in which she wrote an open letter to Hollywood asking where the Movie Stars have gone. I responded that there are plenty of movie stars who are not fake creations as those original Movie Stars are. If you want to see all the discussion here is the link to the Facebook thread. I think it was a great conversation covering many topics and one responder David Garten made an interesting comment that has been percolating the rest of the week. His response was we have celebrities instead of Movie Stars. I think that is correct and I thought I’d expand on that a bit for this week’s The Sunday Magazine.

I’ve spent too much time reading about those Movie Stars and what they were forced to go through to want a return to that. Almost every great actor or actress you would call a Movie Star was shaped by unhealthy influences led by the studio hierarchy. They understood their overall success was in also creating a tier of human beings who were looked upon as near-perfect. It is one of the fascinations when it comes to Marilyn Monroe because she couldn’t live the artificial goddess script in her day-to-day life. It probably killed her. It was also the first unraveling of this unhealthy system as it became obvious these Stars were just stars.

Much of the reason for that was also the spread of television. They began to show up on talk shows and other unscripted forms of video and the façade would crack in those situations. That effect of video has only intensified over the fifty years since it began. It is the insatiable need for video content that I believe has created the celebrity.

The biggest problem with celebrity is it doesn’t require talent. Whatever I think of the system that created Movie Stars they were talented. Celebrity requires a camera paired with the willingness to do anything to bring eyes to it. The plethora of reality shows following a family, newlyweds, little people, fat people, a rainbow of different sexual people prove that. These celebrities are out and about, and they get the same treatment as any actor or actress receives. They end up on red carpets and on commercials same as those who act for a living. It has diminished movie stars to lower caps status because they are lumped in with the celebrities.

Jennifer Lawrence

There are many who I believe are healthier versions of movie stars who can maybe find a 21st century way of capitalizing the name again. The two which sprung to mind when reading Ms. Dubin’s post were George Clooney and Jennifer Lawrence. I believe they are two of the most talented movie stars we have; among many others. I also believe they have found different ways to leverage the celebrity part.

Mr. Clooney has turned his career into a multi-faceted movie operation. He is a fascinating actor on screen. He has used the clout of being a leading man to get small movies into production. The 2012 Best Picture winner “Argo” was made because he was a producer. He is the only person nominated for Academy Awards in six different categories. That is one of my favorite trivia questions by the way. Only a few have ever gotten it right. Beyond that resume he was also the “Most Eligible Bachelor in Hollywood” until he married his wife Amal Alamuddin four years ago. He has used his celebrity to bring visibility to causes he believes in. it started with his illumination of the Darfur conflict. His celebrity elevated it from the small print to the larger print nearer the front of the newspaper. This is the good side of celebrity. Mr. Clooney and Ms. Alamuddin have continued that use of their celebrity.

George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin (l.)

Jennifer Lawrence is a marvel. Ever since I saw her performance in 2010’s “Winter’s Bone” I realized this was a movie star. When I think of the Movie Stars they had an ability to convey dark emotions with a charismatic style. You are drawn to the flame because their quality draws you into it. Ms. Lawrence has that more than any actress I can think of today. She has gone on to win many Oscar nominations while also being part of a large action franchise, The Hunger Games and X-Men. she has shown a versatility on screen and is just beginning to flex her clout behind the scenes. She is writing scripts, with Amy Schumer, and producing movies she wants to see made; “Burial Rites” about the last woman executed for murder in Iceland. When it comes to her celebrity she is seen living life with a kind of silly charm. She is up for almost anything a late-night talk show host asks of her. I watch her and wonder if Marilyn Monroe had been born today if she would have also been allowed to indulge her silly side. It might have saved Ms. Monroe’s life. For Ms. Lawrence she has achieved all of this before she is 30; quite amazing. She has so far found celebrity to be fun while presenting herself on screen as one of our best actresses.

I’m not sure if we will ever have Movie Stars again. I’m not sure if I want that. I am sure that there are enough like Mr. Clooney or Ms. Lawrence who have found the balance between movie star and celebrity there will be others. What will be nice is they won’t be god-like Movie Stars they will be Movie Stars who seem like us.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Florida by Lauren Groff

I write about perfume because it fascinates me and writing about it allows me to gather my thoughts about it. Writing this weekly The Sunday Magazine has allowed me to do that for other passions of mine. One of the joys of writing this blog has been the ability to share a bit of myself through what I write here. That others not only read but keep it in mind makes every minute I spend on it worth it. One of those readers has figured out my affection for my birthplace of S. Florida. She also read a recent The Sunday Magazine column on a collection of short stories, Back Talk by Danielle Lazarin, where I wondered if the form was becoming obsolete. A few weeks ago, she sent me an e-mail with a recommendation; Florida by author Lauren Groff. I downloaded it and devoured it during a recent road trip.

Lauren Groff has been one of the most successful authors of the last few years. There have been many times I’ve almost downloaded one of her three previous novels: The Monsters of Templeton, Arcadia, or Fates and Furies. Fates and Furies was a highly acclaimed novel in which the story of a marriage was told from the perspective of the husband then the wife. These three books have resulted in her being named a Guggenheim Fellow earlier this year.

Lauren Groff

For Florida, Ms. Groff who lives in Gainesville, Florida; tells stories which seemingly could only take place there.  Almost all of the eleven entries take place there. There are a few that don’t take place in Florida but reference it. None so savagely as when one narrator realizes it is where she feels most at home.

All of the stories are told from a woman’s narration. Ms. Groff enjoys playing with the gauzy veil between reality and fantasy. There are unreal elements that I am left questioning if they are hallucination or actuality. The writing crosses back and forth seamlessly.

The beauty of a short story is it allows an author a freedom to plumb that delicate line in a kind of overheated style. Two hundred pages of it would be too much. Fifteen pages is just right. When a character refers to looking into people’s windows at night as she walks through the neighborhood as “domestic aquariums” it rings with truth and archness.

Many of the stories carry a particular undercurrent of fear as hurricanes, concussions, snakes, and alligators all lurk on the periphery. Each story carries its own collection of them.

When I finished the book, I realized that many of the stories were told by a mother of two boys. No names are used, and I wonder if those stories are meant to be connected.

Ms. Groff captures the Florida psyche well because she lives there. I think it takes someone who experiences day in and day out to understand the precipice the state is perched upon. Without saying it as plain as I just did Ms. Groff uses the eleven stories in Florida to say the same thing.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Ant-Man and The Wasp

If there is one reason for Marvel’s success on film it is because they vary the tone of their films so successfully. They also mange to deploy this variety in a strategic way. For the first film after Avengers: Infinity War the choice of going with a movie that was essentially a comedy in Ant-Man and The Wasp shows this.

The first Ant-Man movie carried with it a comic heist mentality. This formula is repeated in Ant-Man and The Wasp. The biggest difference is the presence of Hope Van Dyne as The Wasp. As portrayed by Evangeleine Lilly she is the kick-ass straight woman. Which is fine because Paul Rudd as Scott Lang has plenty of goofy charm for her to push back against.

The movie picks up after Captain America: Civil War where Scott has been put under house arrest after his actions in that movie. He is almost to the end of his two-year sentence when of course something arises to make him have to choose to leave the house. That something is a message from Janet Van Dyne who has been lost in the Quantum Realm for over thirty years. It brings everyone together along with a new villain, Ghost, who also has ties to the Quantum Realm. One of the refreshing things about the movie is the self-awareness of how often they keep using the same technobabble phrase. That’s part of what sets this movie apart. It is as close as Marvel is going to get to having a character break the fourth wall and wink at the audience.

The stakes in the movie are appropriately small as our heroes are trying to rescue Janet from the Quantum Realm while people who want that technology for other purposes interfere. For all that they are not galaxy spanning problems I was as invested in their success as any other Marvel movie. This is down to director Peyton Reed who knows how to get the most out of this material.

It all leads to a happy ending which is quite a nice change. If you need a tonic for the Avengers: Infinity War carnage Ant-Man and The Wasp is the ideal prescription.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Dear George

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There is a hazard to knowing too much about the process of writing that goes into releasing a popular book. The rapid, and insatiable, information flow doesn’t allow an author to hide away and finish their book. The more popular the author the worse this is. It is something which is never mentioned enough when discussing J.K. Rowling. Writing the most popular book series in the entire world she managed to finish all seven books in ten years. Especially after the third one was released, for the last four books, through the incessant nattering and theorizing Ms. Rowling found the ability to stay on schedule providing readers with a complete story.

George R.R. Martin

The more typical timeline is what we see with author George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series which is the inspiration for HBO’s “Game of Thrones”. He released the first book of a planned seven in 1996 and we’re still waiting for book six 22 years later. This is also an atypical situation because his story has gotten beyond the books in the television series. Which means the visual version is going to tell us how it all ends before Mr. Martin has the opportunity to do so.

Because of the popularity of these books he also is facing the issue of people who will not allow him to live his life on his own terms. Whenever he posts on his official blog there are always a few responses along the line of; “would you get back to work on the book”. I was going to add the word “please” but these requests are rarely that polite.

There is an even more worrisome level of commentary on the speed of Mr. Martin’s writing that includes the concept that he won’t live long enough to finish as he will turn 70 this September. There is some precedence for this worry because author Robert Jordan did not live long enough to finish his “Wheel of Time” series. I didn’t care because he told a young author, Brandon Sanderson, everything that was going to happen, bringing the series to a satisfying conclusion.

I don’t worry about Mr. Martin’s health. But I think some of getting the ending right might be part of his delay in writing. About a year from now the final season of “Game of Thrones” will have aired. At that point we will know who wins, and loses, the Game of Thrones. It will be the same ending as in the books because Mr. Martin shared it with the producers. I think that has to be monumentally difficult for Mr. Martin. Some of the biggest twists in the story have been shown visually before hitting the printed page. I imagine how much different it is to write out a delightful twist knowing you are the only one who knows it and can’t wait to see how the readers will enjoy it. In the current book he is writing we’ve probably already seen every major twist on the TV screen. He has become a kind of appendix to his own series as the book fills in background and provides texture, but the plot has passed it by. Doesn’t mean I won’t devour it when it comes out, but I will know what’s going to happen; at least the big things.

Which leads me to a short open letter to the author.

Dear George,

Put down the book and leave it alone. Come back to it later; or never. Your story is going to be finished on the screen. Thrill me with something new. Something which excites you to write. Not something which I believe has become an onerous chore. You have one of the most amazing imaginations in fantasy literature. Having it chained to filling in backstory for the next few years is a waste.

I will get your ending on the screen in a year. Make me a new beginning. Just don’t sell the film option until you are done.

Your reader,

Mark

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Netflix’s GLOW

A year ago, as I was working my way through the first season of the Netflix series GLOW I listed it as a guilty pleasure. By the time I finished the season there was no guilty attached to it. The show surprised me with where it finally ended up. I just finished watching the second season which took the show to a higher level.

The show is based on the original syndicated television show Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling-G.L.O.W. If you were up late at night in the late 1980’s it was likely you ran into this show while channel flipping. The actual show had a crew of wrestling stereotypes putting on their promotion at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. It was done on an elaborate faux-ballroom set with a wrestling ring trimmed in pink in the middle. It was the epitome of cheesy late-night television. This reality is the inspiration for the fictional GLOW.

The series is created by Liz Flaive and Carly Mensch after they saw the 2012 documentary on the original syndicated series. Their concept was to chronicle the women’s movement in the 1980’s. The series which has come out of that speaks to the present by looking back at that time.

Betty Gilpin (l.) and Alison Brie as Liberty Belle and Zoya the Destroyer.

Season one introduced us to Ruth Wilder an aspiring actress played by Alison Brie. She is discouraged as she goes on audition after audition never getting and lasting acting gigs. Her best friend is Debbie Eagan, also an actress, played by Betty Gilpin. Debbie has gotten a regular acting job on a soap opera. These are the two tentpole characters through which we experience GLOW. I use the word tentpole because GLOW is a kind of circus and the other characters are equally memorable; starting with the ringmaster.

Marc Maron as Sam Sylvia

Actor Marc Maron plays director Sam Sylvia. Sam is the renowned director of b-movie horror films who has been hired to direct GLOW. He works with the producer Bash Howard played by Chris Lowell. They are really the only two men who have stories which continue.

All of Season one is the creation of the wrestling promotion introducing us to all of the other wrestlers. Because this is wrestling the characters are broad stereotypes based on ethnicity and appearance. There is an ongoing theme throughout as we learn these women, who are more than a stereotype, feel empowered by having a job which gives them the ability to make decisions for themselves. It is touched on throughout season one but in season two it is hammered home in an episode where two of the wrestlers who are mothers interact with their children. It is where the show really begins to spread its wings commenting on social issues which have meaning today.

This is all done with a comedic tone around the serious ideas. At every turn GLOW surprises as the characters grow into their roles as empowered females. The show doesn’t diminish the power men still had over these women, but they also show triumphs. One of them negotiates her way to becoming a producer showing a woman finding her way in the decision-making process of a business.

Finally, I like that everything the women hope for is hard earned. Nothing comes easy. Including the friendships.

If you want to watch something great check out GLOW on Netflix, it is one of the best television shows of the year, no guilt involved.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Txakoli White Wines

Just like there are perfumes I only wear in the summer when it comes to wine it is the season when I do the majority of my white wine drinking. One reason is because it can be served cold. The other reason which mirrors my fragrance selections they are lighter in body without sacrificing complexity. The only drag about this is my white wine rotation has become a rut of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Grigios, Rieslings, and the occasional non-oaky non-malolactic Chardonnay. There’s nothing wrong with that but to break out of my routine I wanted something new. It showed up on my radar at the end of last summer but so far this year I have been spending most of the early summer drinking Txacoli white wines from Spain.

Txacoli Vineyard

Before you ask Pat to buy a vowel the name is pronounced cha-co-lee. They come from the Basque country in northern Spain right where it borders France. The grape used, Hondarrubi Zuri, thrives in the mineral-laden soil which is kept temperate by the breeze coming in off the Bay of Biscay. Because of the conditions the wine is produced to be drunk immediately. It also carries a natural effervescence after aging in the bottle. Along with its lower alcohol content it is like a natural white wine spritzer.

What draws me to them is something I experience in the mid-coast California white wines; a kind of taste of the sea. There is a bit of salt air within the wine.  It is like drinking at the beach while I’m on my deck. I’ve tried three different brands and they are all available in the $15-25 range.

The first one I tried was, get ready Pat I’m going to need some vowels, Txomin Etxaniz, Txakoli de Getaria. It has a weird doughy nose along with citrusy undercurrents. On the tongue there is a frisson of effervescence as apple and lemon rise from the fizz. As refreshing as I can ask for in a summer white.

I mentioned the salt air quality; Itsasmendi Bizkaiko Txakolina is the one which has it in spades. This is all fresh crisp fruit on the nose. This time the fizz feels like sea foam as the wave of citrus and apple crash onto my palate. If you like the sea air quality, as I do, this one will become a favorite.

Gorka Izagirre has the most different releases in my area. The one I’ve been drinking is the Bizkaiko Txakolina. This one is the most complex on the palate of the three as after the fruit and fizz pass there are some lovely herbal nuances. We’ve had this with garden-grown tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella which that finish goes perfectly with.

If you want something outside of your normal white wine routine give the Txacoli whites a try.

Disclosure: This article based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Why Art? by Eleanor Davis

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Technology is a wonderful thing. One thing I marvel at is the ability to read the comic books I want to read on my tablet. It also allows for the service I use to recommend new releases for me. I usually know about the superhero ones before they are recommended. What has been great is the small one-shot stand-alone graphic novels which I look at to see what might be interesting. A few months ago, a title popped up which intrigued me enough to see what it was about. It has turned out to be one of the more thought provoking pieces of writing I’ve read. The book is “Why Art?” by Eleanor Davis.

The title of the book is a question asked by many. As a society we have to decide how to value art while also deciding what it provides to it. What makes this version of answering that question is Ms. Davis is how “Why Art?” starts as one thing and ends somewhere completely unexpected.

The first part of the book is a guidebook on doing art. It is clever in that the drawings are in black-and-white but they are labeled with lettering which tells you what color they should be. She believes each reader can effectively project their version of the color to fill in the white space. The guidebook starts you down the path of projecting your color into the pages. It was so successful for me that for the one colored section I was jarred for a second. Ms. Davis suggests color is how we effectively describe emotion over how we describe the shade of an object. Throughout the first half the spare prose along with the drawings asking of me to participate I am drawn into making my own art of the imagination. This is all technique in the end even if it is taking place in my own head.

The switch comes with the introduction of Dolores who is an artist. The back half is a more traditionally told story focusing on Dolores. When we meet her, she has had success but is trying something new. Those who liked her previous work have trouble letting go. Dolores feels the answer to the titular question is one which includes her personal evolution being seen in her art. Then society collapses. The drawings describing this is one of the places where our mental work in the guidebook pays off. The drawings are still black-and-white but I don’t see them that way. There is the palette of my mind overwriting the white. As part of rebuilding society art is seen as a critical building block of that process.

The thing I’ve taken away from “Why Art?” is the viewer is critical to its existence. Ms. Davis doesn’t want art to be passively taken in but actively collaborated with. Even if it is only in your mind’s eye. It has had an effect on my viewing of art as the thoughts from the book were rippling through my consciousness at my last gallery stroll.

“Why Art?” answers the question by challenging you to believe it is because you are always part of it.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Africa by Weezer…….and Toto

There are quite a few songs which have over 1,000 plays on my ITunes list. There are fewer that are above 2,500 plays. I have noticed many of those song are ones I enjoy singing along to and playing accompanying air instruments. I am particularly partial to the imaginary drums, as my car steering wheel will attest to. Which means I have pounded out the drum fill from verse to chorus in the 1982 song “Africa” by Toto a lot because it is one of those 2,500+ songs. The song has had a rebirth for a new generation just in time for the summer of 2018 by the band Weezer. The origins of the song and the reason it has been reborn are both interesting.

I remember seeing one of the members of the band on MTV mention that the song is from the perspective of watching documentaries about Africa. The band members David Paich and Jeff Porcaro wrote a song full of the kind of inaccuracies which exist from that. None better exemplifies that as the line, “as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti”. Both are in Tanzania but are separated by enough distance the lyric makes no sense. It does make sense if the songwriter is looking at a World Atlas and thinks it might be true. I don’t enjoy the song for the accuracy of its lyrics it is the rhythm and the synthesizer produced kalimba along with it. It would hit #1 on the charts in 1983.

For some unexplained reason thirty-five years later a young fan of the band Weezer began a campaign to have the band cover “Africa”. Using all of the tools of social media she began her campaign in December 2017. By May 2018 it looked like she was going to receive a kind of half response as a cover of another Toto hit “Rosanna” appeared. I thought that was it. Then two weeks ago I noticed that “Africa” by Weezer was trending. When I hit the link, there it was, Weezer playing a mostly faithful cover of “Africa”. I found myself enjoying this version as much as the original. The members of Toto have tweeted their appreciation of the new version. New fans are learning about African geographical improbabilities. Even more are probably adding a new song to their air percussion playlist.

I know the new version and the original version will be played a lot throughout the summer. As I search for Kilimanjaro from my driver’s seat.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain

I had a lot of other things I wanted to write about today but after the announcement of Anthony Bourdain’s death by suicide on Friday I couldn’t. It was also because three days earlier another artist I admired also took her life, Kate Spade. Both were originals in their respective fields. I don’t want to get too caught up in their similarities instead I want to take a moment to remember why I care that they are no longer here.

I was fortunate enough to have a window into the backstage world of the fashion industry in New York. As an outsider I could often stand back unnoticed watching the shows come together. One of the things which made me smile is if I looked over at the spot where the handbags were stored there was a similarity to many of them; a tag on the outside which said Kate Spade. Ms. Spade predicted the need for an accessory brand which catered to those who wanted to be wealthy. Using simple design techniques, she dominated this market. I knew if she ever branched out into men’s accessories I’d be adding something. My first iPad case was a Kate Spade. The current power pack on my cell phone is a Kate Spade. Her simple no-bullshit aesthetic was what appealed to me. I was so interested to see what her new brand, Frances Valentine, had to show me. I felt like she had already identified another niche to dominate.

Anthony Bourdain was the cultural successor to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. I know he would probably hate to be described that way, but his words carried the same visceral authenticity as Mr. Thompson. I remember reading his first book “Kitchen Confidential” and I leant it out with this recommendation, “it could be called Fear and Loathing in the Kitchen”. In a world where there are so many who assiduously polish an image Mr. Bourdain sought to take us along with him. We shared the same travel desire to stay away from the places where tourists gathered and find the places where the real food of an area was made. Because of him some of my favorite travel memories are in a neighborhood restaurant where the locals delighted in watching the silly American read from his phrasebook. All the while feeding me unforgettable food. Mr. Bourdain challenged me to look underneath the surface,

Which is one of the reasons their deaths sadden me. Because there was clearly something underneath the surface they had become skilled at masking. I miss both of their perspectives.

Before I finish this, I want to once again mention Project Semicolon. Founded on April 16, 2013 every year on that date you will see some of your friends or acquaintances wear a drawn semicolon on their wrist. It symbolizes this: “a semicolon represents a sentence the author could’ve ended but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.” Making the choice to use a semicolon over a period is not simple but Project Semicolon provides a visible way for those deciding on their own punctuation choice. A way of not feeling alone. In that can be found the first moments of deciding to use a semicolon. I made a donation this week in the names of Ms. Spade and Mr. Bourdain because I hope the awareness of their plight can also help others who need to see a different choice.

Mark Behnke