The winner is: Bon Appetit! They don't even put the whole article about Turkish recipes online, yet they've managed to get all their delectable cliched goodness in the online teaser. Difficulty: 10!
Let's take a look:
Turkish Delight: You don't actually have to be able to find Turkey on a map to smack this one down.
East meets west: Ah, yes. I've heard there's a bridge between Europe and Asia. Hmm. How can I say that a different way?
Ancient meets modern: Someone read some tourist brochures!
We wouldn't be here today (by "we" I mean people who are not me still living in Crapistan) if it wasn't for you standing on that tank. You were a bold, deeply flawed, highly entertaining human being. We spill sto gram on the pavement for our dead homie.
It's a little known fact that Carpetblogger and the Producer were in Moscow the weekend of Boris' First Stand on August 19, 1991. We had gone to Moscow -- the first and only time I have been there -- on a weekend jaunt from Warsaw.
We were traveling back to Warsaw on expired visas because, as everyone who has adapted to Soviet mentality already knows, just because you have a return train ticket doesn't mean you have a seat, so we overstayed our visa one day because our original train was booked. We left Moscow the night of August 18th.
The train passed silently through unlit places like Minsk -- places that were completely inscrutable at the time but now, just make me tired thinking about them. We shared a compartment with a young guy who whipped out a knife the size of my forearm to exuberantly give a melon the what-for. I remember that being the best melon I had ever tasted, but also convinced the young man was going to eviscerate us in our sleep. It wasn't until almost 15 years later that I figured out that the kid had to have been Uzbek and only wanted to share his melon with a couple of English speakers.
We arrived at the Belorussian border town of Brest in mid-morning to huge crowds of expressionless people standing around watching the black and white TV. Soccer, soap -- I could have cared less. We had huge problems with our expired visas. Amid all the recriminations, tears and bribery, I never once looked to see what the fuss was about.
We arrived back to our Warsaw apartment to a ringing phone. Of course, it was my mother, who knew we'd been in Moscow and were a day late coming home. Fortunately, a transcript of the conversation still exists. Let's take a look.
Carpetmother: Where have you been!?
Carpetblogger: We just got back. We had this huge ordeal on the border..."
Carpetmother: What's happening there!? What are the people doing?!
Carpetblogger: Um. Well, they're standing in line for McDonalds. They're doing what normal people do, I guess.
Carpetmother: You don't know, do you?!!
So, we missed the big event by a couple hours.
But thanks, Boris. You created a full-employment act for a generation of consultants holding the firm conviction that if you can't solve the problem, there's money to be made in prolonging it. Just like 9/11.
Anne Applebaum, a writer who actually "gets" this part of the world, wrote about all the ways the West was wrong about Yeltsin. Just like Lenin, he was a transitional figure, native to Russia, seizing power from one dictator and handing it over to another.
Woe is me! I have to go to Baku this weekend.
This is not all bad, I suppose. Ruslan has been alerted (I'm on a bit of a tear after last weekend), the second best pork in the whole FSU is on the agenda, as is a healthy serving of Georgian (how can there be no good Georgian places in Istanbul? I be craving a bit of pkhali and some satsivi). I'm going to get my hair colored (what can I say? I love CIS red. Accept no substitutes is what I always say).
Oh, yah, gonna see the Producer too, and his new pad.
Longtime reader/frequent commenter Copydude weighed in on the wikipedia reference in yesterday's post.
Quick backstory: While in the U.S., it fell to me to explain to my father what wikipedia is and the important role it plays in modern life, such as resolving bar-based trivia disputes before they turn violent. Recent examples I used to illustrate its value included "who was Ford's vice president?" "the difference between dwarves and midgets" and the "difference between lambs and kids." He then expressed surprise when it turned out that he, of such high stature in the wire and concrete reinforcement community, doesn't have a page. I told him I'd, uh, get right on it. Guess it's harder than it looks!
Anyway, back to Copydude, lookin' out for Carpetblogger:
"CB, you wrote: 'First, a little background (shamefully, like my father, she has no Wikipedia page)'
True confession. Last year, as a bit of mindless mischievy, I attempted to set up Wikipedia Carpetblogger page. 'The Wikipedia of Slutty Dressing.' You may remember the in-joke. Well, I had nothing else to do one Wednesday afternoon.
It is actually quite hard to set up Wikipedia pages. I went through many hoops. I tried to be cute and supplied an authentically forged map and co-ordinates of Crapistan. Then I supported it with many references to CB and Dyevushkas. But I got very sniffy rejection slips from Wikipedia mods. 'Notoriety not proven' was the nail in your coffin, CB.
I tried another couple of workarounds - like entering Carpetblogger as a 'stub' - hoot - but Wiki sent me a mail telling me to go play in the sandbox.
I tell you, I wouldn't bother with Wiki again - not even as a practical joke. I don't have that many Wednesday afternoons. So, no shame if you're not mentioned. Lots of people must give up. And I'm sure you didn't want to be a 'stub' anyway."
Notoriety not proven! Well, clearly the wikipediots haven't asked around Baku. And, anyway if the amount of hits we get for "devushka," and "camel toe" are any indication, wikipedia owes it to us because Carpetblog is the internets' primary authority on those topics.
Anyway, Tim Noah wrote two pieces on Slate a while back about how hard it is to get your own wikipedia page and how there's no good reason why people like my father or Carpetblog, or Copydude, shouldn't have their own page.
Today, I realized I am not living up to my capabilities, that I have become a slacker. How did I arrive at this conclusion? I attended the Josephine Powell "Giving Back the Colors" exhibit today at the Yildiz Saray here in Istanbul.
It made me realize that there are too many textiles I have not bought.
Seriously, stunning is the best word to describe the content, the design and the woman behind the exhibits.
First, a little background (shamefully, like my father, she has no wikipedia page). Josephine Powell left the US right after World War II to work in refugee camps and pretty much never went back for any length of time. She moved to Istanbul in the early 70s, after traveling through Afghanistan, North Africa, Iran and Pakistan photographing and studying nomadic life. Throughout the 70s and 80s, she explored the deepest pockets of eastern Anatolia, ending up with 30,000 photos and countless textiles and tools used by nomads as well as copious field notes. She was particularly interested in the weaving done by women, and as a result of her work, there is wonderful documentation of the contributions made by nomadic women that otherwise would never have been known.
Powell died sitting at her desk at age 87, in January, right after I got here. I know some people who knew her well and she was universally described as a cantankerous, borderline obsessive personality. Her apartment in Cihangir was filled to the top with her collections -- indeed, there are pictures of it in the exhibit. Not only did she keep her collection of kilims, storage bags, photos and weaving tools in it, she had spinning wheels, yurt frames and countless other treasures. From now on I will point to her when some oppressor asks "what are you going to do with that carpet/kilim/random textile?"
Powell wanted her collection to stay in Turkey, and she bequeathed it to the Koc foundation, which is trying to find a permanent home for it. She died before the cataloging was finished.
Exceptional pieces of it was exhibited this weekend as part of the International Conference on Oriental Carpets. Dealers from all over the world attended (more on that) and I don't see how any rug-freak could not be blown over by her exhibit. Some kilims were over a hundred years old and badly in need of restoration, but looking at the natural greens and purples and golds in those kilims made me swear off chemical dyes for good. My favorite carpets are the ones that seem to be breathing and these practically jumped off the walls and slapped you.
Not only that, the exhibit showed all the different tools that women used to make kilims Her photographs and notes brilliantly illustrated the techniques and gave texture. That's the important thing about textiles for me. Who made them? Why? What did they do with them? You don't get that in a lot of museums, mostly because the answers aren't known, because, well, the artists were neither known nor valued.
And you might think that is all, but it's not. The Carpet Conference had a dealer's hall with dealers in antique carpets and textiles from all over the world. I stood in front of an 1840 Ensi -- a pattern I haven't got and want terribly. It was only $18,000. It was like being in a carpet museum, only better, because you could touch the carpets and talk to the dealers and ask as many questions as you wanted about colors and restorations and dating. I can't really think of many better ways to spend an afternoon
My father-in-law tells me I need to set goals. I'm still young-ish. I am going to be Josephine Powell. Powell kept exploring and collecting and filling up her apartment with cool things into her 70's.
No more slackerdom for me! I'd better get busy.
One of the things I hate about articles like this RFE piece about the FSU's terrible airlines is that they only provide good pictures of the planes after they've crashed -- when they're nothing but useless heaps of twisted, burnt metal.
Carpetblog is about nothing if not filling in the gaps in your body of useless knowledge as well as helping you navigate the most culturally sophisticated part of the world. We've already expounded at length about the perils associated with flying in the FSU as well as addressed some common concerns about in-flight etiquette. We're happy to share our photo-library of Crapistani airlines.
Take a look at this Aerflot-Don Tupolev. Betcha can't wait 'til your next flight to Rostov, can you?
And while we're on the topic of Tupolevs, here's one from Azal. It's fondly dubbed "Astara," after everyone's favorite skanky border town where Azeris have been known to sell their daughters to Turkish truckers for $10. Better hurry, though. Since Azerbaijan is so close to being a part of Europe, that -- and the chance to ride in a plane in which the doors are tied shut with seatbelts - is probably a limited time offer.
And don't forget Ukraine's ARP-410 Airlines. I'm pretty sure that's a code share with Delta now, right? You're looking here at the landing gear compartment (I want to say on an Anatov --domestic pride and all -- but only the good memories fade). Stenciled on the fuselage right behind it were the instructions "strike here with ax in case of emergency." Duly noted.
And no discussion of shitty airlines would be complete without a quick Ariana Afghan reference, even though it's not, strictly speaking, former Soviet. Close enough though. While this not a Brezhnev-era Soviet-made plane, it is a Brezhnev-era Boeing. The Ariana flight from Kabul skidded off the runway here a few weeks ago and had to be evacuated. The reason? The runway was wet. Don't believe Ariana is that bad? Read this.
Finally, I don't see anything wrong with this Dutch Air Force Cargo plane taking off in Kabul. I just like the photo. And in other news, The Netherlands has an Air Force.
There appeared in my bathroom one day a tube of Colgate "misvak" toothpaste. Since its appearance was preceded by a visit from the Producer, I suspect there's a correlation. I tried it out one morning, and well, yum! Its taste can best be described as minty-herby-peppery. I like this misvak toothpaste!
But what is it?
Naturally, Misvak has a wikipedia entry. Misvak is the twig from certain trees that for centuries devout Muslims have put to the same use to which you and I might put toothbrush and floss. There is even some evidence to suggest that it has antiseptic qualities and is good for your gums. Traditionally, it's part of ritual cleanliness. Like most things, however, it works better when you pray while using it.
But I guess the real point of this post is that you can be with someone for
15 16 years (see what happens when you don't live together?) yet not even know he was keeping halal* when it comes to dentistry. That, and admiration for the consumer products industry's infinite capacity to identify and fill niche markets.
*the producer recently accused me of "going native." That topic will be explored in a future post.