THE ORIGINAL CREW
"I didn’t get to see Camp X-Ray on my first trip to Guantánamo—in 2003, for The New York Times Magazine. The original detention facility for prisoners of the war on terror, it was used for only a few months, until something larger and sturdier was ready. But on my second visit, in 2014 for Vanity Fair, the military placed the abandoned prison on the itinerary for the morning of my third and final day.
"What is a stranger? Why are we warned, from a young age, not to speak to them? What are we to make of those who wander into our path—without name or context, without promise of reappearing? And what of those who, once we've painted them with meaning, suddenly walk out? To no one are these questions more pertinent, more central, than the traveler: by definition, someone who seeks out strangeness; someone who lives to dance across its borders."
2016 - 2017
And so, after having flown for a day, driven for three days, we now rode reindeer for three days in the dead of winter over moonscapes, and arrived in this place which was some hybrid of Mordor and Lord of the Flies. Reindeer bounded right up to us, like we’d just arrived at Santa’s workshop.
"DEAREST STEFIE, It is night, and I am writing to you by the light of an oil lamp in Na village—which has to be one of the most remarkable places I’ve ever been. We arrived here yesterday afternoon, via a cave about 6 kilometers from the Hinboun River. You almost have to see this valley to believe it..."
I listened to the word dozens of times during a single broadcast, sometimes succumbing to giggles. Such is the mental exhaustion caused by straining to learn a language with no classes and little written material. Or, the emotional exhaustion of trying to faq out a life as an alien in a new land.
2017 - 2018
Where nostalgia expresses a longing to return to time or place when things were good, it is tinged with melancholy, even sadness and anxiety. Natsukashii, on the other hand, is absent this gloominess and suggests something slightly different: a happiness to be remembering a happy memory.
After the killing was done, the deep silence of the desert returned, and I must have fallen back asleep quickly. When I awoke at sunrise, the whole thing seemed like a dream. I went to pee in the outhouse, and when I was done I ventured into the dawn-washed desert, looking for the kill site, for any evidence of what I had heard.
The town of Haworth looks more or less like it has for the past several hundred years, which is to say, like a fairy tale town.
The historian is like Merlin, living backwards from the future, knowing what the world is, but having to infer why. As we peer into the past, the view grows less distinct, until it vanishes in a fog.
While much of the media was focused on the Summer of Love, Didion focused on the darker side. The country was not in open revolt, but there was a brewing discontent.
From 2011 to 2016 Fabio Bucciarelli photographed the plight of refugees fleeing the uprisings of the "Arab Spring." During that time, he began work on his long-term project, "The Dream."
The whole history of television is executives saying, "No, that female character is too unlikeable, that female character is too obnoxious, that female character no one’s going to relate to. That female character is not sexy enough, is too chubby, is too...
The way this presidency moves, it’s sort of like a pinball machine, bouncing from issue to issue with amazing velocity. You sometimes find yourself on the same day writing about North Korea, nuclear weapons on the one hand, and the opioid crisis on the other, and some sort of big personnel shuffle at the same time.
I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I’ll be doing it for the next 20 years....this is a historic moment, whether you like it or not. It’s good to be able to say that you’re one of the questioners of an American President...
I apparently have an endless capacity to be obsessed with subjects. I’m obsessed with Trump right now. From just what he was trying to express when he took to Twitter shortly after midnight one night and wrote “Covfefe”...[to] how he’s making decisions on how to handle the crisis in North Korea, I find my beat fascinating.
2018 - 2019
I wanted to climb toward the hugeness of the world and to cobble love together. I wanted to know exile, like Gilbert.
“She is precious,” I say. “Do you have any other children?” Normally, this would be an innocuous question. Here, in these close, human-crammed camps of families fleeing unspeakable horrors, it’s the kind of query that unlocks a story.
I walk down Portobello Road, past the bright blue, red, and yellow facades of buildings that I have no desire to enter, past glossy, small boutiques filled with narrow-hipped women…I’m wearing clean scrubs, clogs. A foreigner. Refugee from a hospital, wanting to preserve my other life, the person I was before the sacrifices of this long training.
I was sure there were missing pages or I was misremembering the story of Dracula. I soon realized, though, that I wasn’t looking for an exquisitely crafted translation or even a new understanding of Dracula. Rather, I was reveling in the fact that one of my favorite stories had made its way to my favorite place in the world.
There’s also a strange phenomenon many people have noted, and the motive for retranslating any work, and that is that the translation dates while the original doesn’t.
Phnom Penh is built on people. Relationships, memory, loyalty—these are the currencies of Cambodia. Most visitors to the Kingdom will come home and tell of “the people.” Living in Phnom Penh, especially as a barang, or expat/foreigner, became a daily maze of friendships, obligations, and favors.
In Paris, all I saw were the seams, threadbare. A ghost’s shadows whipping around my ankles in every arrondissement.
The expectation that you had a right to be heard, no matter what, seemed audacious, even arrogant. The line between confidence and arrogance, of course, depends on the perspective of the listener, and that staccato spirit of madzona plucked my insecurities.
When the lot of you looked at me in the pub, aggressive in your appraisal, I felt delivered, full of purpose. This trip was an experiment in my new late-thirties life, one where I’d left behind my partner of ten years and our city of Chicago.