Author: springmagazine

Led Zeppelin in August

A few years ago, I found I liked listening to Led Zeppelin in August. Today, I caught this feeling of listening to Led Zeppelin again as I drove around in the late afternoon after work. North Carolina’s August. That time when it’s like summer can’t take any more of itself. The active, joyful months of June and July are done, and the heat and humidity builds while the sunlight starts to slant. There is a feeling of falling and growing darkness. And rot and decay. For me, the work of summer is often not done by August, but I don’t have the natural impetus for it anymore. But from the best years that I remember, I wonder if August is when the beauty of summer, if you have risen up to it and worked for it, rewards you. Listening to Led Zeppelin’s lyricism in the heat of August is amazing. But that’s not really fair to a band, is it? Who says that a band can only be listened to during one month out of …

Let’s eat! “A Bite of China”

There are moments in “A Bite of China” that stay with you long after you watch the show. A mother and daughter walking together at dawn, digging for mushrooms in the mountains of Yunnan. They easily push their sticks in the dirt to gently push up a mushroom. Inside a ger in Inner Mongolia, in the early hours, a woman dips a ladle in milk to get breakfast for the man who will herd their sheep on the grassy plain. Fermented tofu nuggets are laid out on baskets on a balcony before they are hauled out to a busy sidewalk and sold. The most simple yet amazing street food. More than technique and skill, “A Bite of China” is about taste and heritage, habit, livelihoods, the knowledge and skill that comes from working with food all your life, as well as the pride and appreciation of people working in food, really getting their hands in, and knowing the natural, subtle chemistry of food. The show is kind of about a national love of food, with …

Book review: “Fed Up” by Danielle DiMartino Booth

At one point in Danielle DiMartino Booth’s book about her experiences as an analyst at the Federal Reserve during the panicked days of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, she quotes verbatim a meeting at the Federal Open Market Committee, then operating under Chairman Ben Bernanke. It was March 2008. Bear Stearns had just collapsed. The FOMC was debating how to craft its official statement to lower the risk of inflation. “On inflation expectations, because they haven’t risen very much, I agree with President Geithner,” said District Governor Donald Kohn. “I like the fact that we tell people we are aware, but we could say ‘have edged higher’ or something like that instead of ‘risen.’” “We could use my ‘smidgen’ word, but ‘edged higher’ is better,” chimed in Frederic Mishkin, another district governor. “Went up a smidge,” Kohn responded. “Have risen somewhat?” Mishkin said. “Brian, do you have a thought on ‘risen’ versus ‘risen somewhat’ versus taking it out?” Bernanke said. This discussion goes on for a couple dozen more lines. “I might have run screaming from …

Bohemian Rhapsody: Lightning bolt

I saw Bohemian Rhapsody on a cold, rainy night at the Wynnsong Theater in Durham. I had rushed over on a spontaneous whim that night. Walking through the lobby, I looked around and expected the movie to be more of an event movie and to have more promotion. Life-sized cardboard cutout of Malek in a disco outfit, anyone? But there wasn’t much at all. During 2018, when it seemed like everywhere you went, you would see decline. I had been looking forward to this movie for years. The early film image of Malek in a lone spotlight, looking so much like Freddie Mercury, was thrilling. It looked like art. Finally, some art! The movie delivered. It was entertaining and comfortable, and one of the best movies of the second half of this decade. However, it did not deliver on the potential that was promised in that first image. Instead of a bold exploration of Mercury’s life, his artistry and the band’s decades-long journey, it pandered to Millennial memories and caved to 2018 realities. Fall 2018: …