Category Archives: This Week In Links

The Week In Links

Good lord, what a week! For me it’s been full of sunshine and socializing and playing at revolution, so there hasn’t been much time for sitting in front of the computer reading interesting things. But please do enjoy my meager offerings:

First off, have you heard of Teju Cole? If you haven’t, why not? What’s wrong with you? Here is his twitter feed, and here is an NPR article explaining why his tweets are the most amazing things in the whole world. Trust me. This will change your life, and if you’re a writer Teju Cole will give you a total Saliere-mal fit.

Okay so we haven’t talked about this before, and now’s a good time to start. I was, as many of you know, a bikini waxer for nearly ten years. I’m supposed to be writing a book about it now. I am very lazy, and very very behind schedule. Anyway, I was a bikini waxer, but I’m also a feminist, and I feel really lucky to have come of age in the nineties, when everyone but strippers and neurotic ballerinas sported full bush. I have nothing against hair removal, I have nothing against not removing hair. I think it’s a style choice that has been over-politicized on both sides. I live in Turkey now, where hair is generally considered dirty, and everyone, men and women, tend to shave it off. (It was very strange getting used to the idea that men shave their pits here. They think it’s really strange that American men don’t.) The most interesting thing about this article to me, (and I’m just discussing pubic hair here- I don’t feel strong enough to tackle the surgery part yet) is that young women feel pressured to shave their boxes, and that a sample of men find it completely disgusting if they don’t. Of course, these are all young guys. The under-30’s. And do you all remember guys at that age? In high school and college, I think, boys have a weird hositility towards girls’ bodies. God forbid, for instance, that you didn’t shave your legs for two days and then went out on a date. The boy would be grossing his dude friends out with that anecdote for weeks. There’s immense pressure at that age, even in the free-wheelin full bush-sportin nineties when overalls were sexy, to always smell of strawberries, have smooth legs, never ever to fart. I still remember the casually cruel comments my guy friends would make about my body- “It’s weird that I can see your veins through your skin. That’s actually really gross.” “You look like a cocker spaniel.” “Your nipples are weird.” Young men are just overly critical of young women’s bodies. It takes time and maturity, I think, for them to realize that women are, all of us, mammals, and that that’s pretty awesome, and that yes, he IS as the article said, lucky to just be down there. So if no pubic hair is the new norm, and it appears it is, and if young men are critical of girls who don’t conform to that norm, as they are wont to do, why is that any different from dudes getting grossed out over girls not shaving their pits? Why is this such a loaded argument? Thoughts? In the comments, please.

Thanks Jackie, for bringing this to my attention. The NYC municipal archives have put a BUNCH of old photos of the city online. It’s pretty awesome.

And here is a tumblr from a man who takes his sandwich science VERY seriously.

And finally, a very interesting post about a new political group in Turkey.



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This Week In Links

And just like that it’s Thursday again. Sorry it’s been so long since we talked. I don’t have a good excuse, I just fell into a fun hole on my birthday that I’m just now pulling myself out of in the harsh fluorescent light of the teachers lounge. Did that make any sense? Probably not. I’m very tired.

Anyhoo, today’s TWiL is brought to you by yesterday’s bit of fun. In the late afternoon I hopped on a boat to Taksim where I tramped  up and down Istiklal Cd looking desperately for a street that I had put on the entirely wrong side on my hand-drawn map. (When friends come to visit they inevitably, within hours of arrival, take charge of navigating our way through a city I’ve now lived in for over a year and a half. This is why.) Along the way I felt a hand brush my bottom, but Istiklal is always, always very crowded, (a million people walk down it every day!) and it’s impossible to get very far without getting jostled, so I paid it no attention until I felt a hand brush not my bottom but really my butt crack, which struck me as odd. I turned around and glared at a tall fella wearing a blue Lacoste shirt. He looked mildly apologetic, so I kept tramping down the street, getting crankier and crankier with my hand drawn map and having to pee more and more urgently and I felt a hand on my bottom again and there was sweat dripping down my back it was so hot, and I turned around and flipped my sunglasses up on my forehead so Mr. Lacoste could really see how very angry I was at him and I said “get the fuck away from me. Now.” He looked apologetic again and held his hands out helplessly. I turned on my heel and stalked down the road, wondering if the name of the road had been changed? I mean, that would be a very Turkish municipal trick, really, to just up and change the street names without warning and THERE was the HAND on my ASS, AGAIN. I whirled around and slapped him and hissed “if I see your face again I will call the Polis? You understand? POLIS.”  He retreated a few feet and waited for me to walk on. I folded my arms and stared him down. He shrugged, like, “What am I to do?” I tapped my foot. He showed no sign of moving on so I pulled out my book in a gesture of, “I can stand here all day, buddy.” He got the message and walked in the opposite direction. I waited til he was well and truly gone and then asked the helpful nearby roasted chestnut vendor where the effing eff this street was, and he set me straight. I’d walked by it three times.

A girl I met later got frottaged on a bus at roughly the same time, so I think summer has officially arrived in Istanbul.

Anyway, once on the proper street, I found the coffee shop easily and went in and introduced myself to some really truly lovely folks. Everyone gave a three-fold introduction- name, twitter i.d., and blog name and we chit-chatted about everything from Turkish culture to childcare to the Happy Mondays and it was one of the pleasanter afternoons I’ve spent. Thanks, all of you, for including me and for being awesome and interesting. And readers, sorry you couldn’t join us but below please find a taste of what you missed.

Meg has lots of thoughts about being knocked up abroad, and travelling with kids. She also has a very very charming kid.

The couple behind Turkey’s For Life are just as warm and lovely as they come across in their blog, and also really, really funny. (No, you cannot trim a cat as you would a bonsai.)

Joy was a delight to talk to. And Baltimore cred alert, she used to work with Cindy Wolf, so read her awesome cooking blog.

Norbert, who does not, for the record, know Jennifer Lopez, is a super smart architecture nerd/world traveller. I learned a bunch from him in half an hour, and I’m really looking forward to reading about his upcoming adventures. Very cool stuff.

Anil was the guy who brought the meetup together, so thanks, bud! I also feel a real kinship with him because I think his sense of direction is almost as good as mine. His blog has lots and lots of very practical solutions for world travellers, so if any of you are thinking about going walkabout, definitely check it out.

Unfortunately, I was never sitting very close to The Wandering Earl, which is a shame because I bet he has tons of good stories. Fortunately, he has a blog, so I get to at least read about some of them.

I also wish I’d gotten to talk more to Jen, who has a really great blog about living in Istanbul that you should check out right now.

If I missed anyone, I am terribly sorry, (or you’re welcome, maybe?) I’m operating on, like, one cylinder today. Holler at me and I’ll correct it. The rest of you, have a great week.



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The Week In Links

The annual Istanbul Tulip Festival began this week, and will continue to the end of the month. My plan this week was to go out and take a bunch of mediocre pictures of tulips like everyone else in this city, and maybe take the  wrong bus or something along the way so I’d have a story to tell you, but in the earlier part of the week the temp dropped to 5 degrees and there was unrelentingly hateful rain and wind, and then on my day off I spent the morning looking for my roommate’s cats, and was too traumatized all afternoon to attempt an adventure. But don’t worry, I’ll get around to it, because it’s just glorious. The city is furred with millions of tulips of all kinds and colors. Besides the big concentrations mentioned in the article, they’re popping up in roadside verges, around sidewalk trees, in front of government buildings- everywhere. You are aware that tulips originated in Turkey, right? In the sixteenth century they began to be imported into the Netherlands, which was soon in the grip of Tulip Mania, perhaps the world’s first speculative bubble. Soon tulips were worth their weight in gold, and then, if my memory serves, rather more than their weight in gold. When the bubble burst, people who’d paid more than the price of a Rembrandt for bulbs were left completely ruined. It’s a fascinating story, and if you haven’t read The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollard- do it now. If you don’t want to read it, watch the dvd.

Writing about that has put an itch in my brain, because I feel like I read somewhere, sometime, that there was cone snail shell bubble at one point in history, but I can’t for the life of me think of when or where. Does anyone know what the hell I’m talking about? (An ex-boyfriend once told me I had a brain like an encyclopedia that had lost its binding. I think the pages get a little more scattered every year, and today in particular I feel like my brain is turning and turning in a widening gyre and can’t hear the falconer so bear with me as I mix metaphors like my name is Isabel Allende ((oh no I didn’t!)) and generally refuse to come to a point.)

But speaking of Flemish craziness, this is absolutely adorable and I so wish I’d thought of it first. I mean, why didn’t I? Airplane lavatories, toilet paper headresses, and Flemish portraiture obviously go together.

Speaking of art, This is Colossal is my new favorite blog. Thank you, Erik. Every post is more mesmerizing than the last. I really love the idea of coming upon one of these sculptures unexpectedly. I mean, you know you’d jump out of your skin, right? I think scattering them around the world would be the most amazing act of guerrilla art.  It reminded me of something I saw a year or so ago- could you imagine just snorkeling around on a sunny day and running into these guys? Gah!

On a more serious note, I was reading another blog a few weeks ago and the writer said that she would never live in a Muslim country. I had a knee jerk “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!?!?!” reaction, but then I started thinking and thinking about it, about why someone would say that, what they imagine living in a Muslim country entails. (Very expensive pork, for one thing. If that’s a deal breaker than by all means…) Then I read this article, which articulated many of my feelings about religious identity in Muslim and non-Muslim countries. Read it, and after you recover from violently face-palming yourself upon reading the part about Newt Gingrich, (and the American gov’t in general) tell me what you think about living in a country where you’re a religious minority, or about pervasive Muslim stereotypes, or anything at all, really. React.

Speaking religious ignorance, I learned a bunch from this article. It gave me stuff to think about for weeks.

On the other side of the pond, baseball season started this week. As an intractably fair-weather sports-sort-of-fan, I start yawning before you finish saying the word Orioles. I do not understand the passion for a team that is so bad they aren’t even fun to watch, but I imagine it’s something like enjoying the pain that comes with picking off a scab, or poking a toothpick into a tender spot in your gums. At any rate, my twitter and facebook feeds are alight with fervor and a weird mixture of optimism and fatality. Enjoy that, guys. In other Baltimore news, crowd beats, robs, and strips some poor tourist naked. Oh Baltimore, I miss you.

And finally, from an acquaintance of mine, an article on street cats. If you read Dog’s Life, you know I disagree with several points in this article, (isn’t one of the definitions of feral cat: (n) not starved for human affection ?) but it’s a great piece, and I learned a bunch from it. Good writing, Brooks!

All right, everybody try to behave yourselves and I’ll see you here next week.


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The Week In Links

Oh my god, is it really Thursday again? Is it really the end of March? Time flies when you’re enjoying the fact that it no longer rains eight days out of twelve and finally enjoying the view from the park at the end of your street.

Why don’t you live in Istanbul, again?

But enough questioning your life choices: on the the best links I found this week.

I’m awfully glad this fellow, who calls himself OttomansandZionists, is blogging about politics. Someone has to, but I’m too busy writing about the dog I’m kind of obsessed with that lives by our dumpster. We all have priorities. But this is an interesting take on how Turkey’s foreign policy seems to be essentially: Look Busy and Gloss Over Everything!

And on the homefront, here’s a lovely photo-blog of The Enchanted Forest, which I drove past almost every day for something like five years.

If that made any other Catonsville/Ellicott City ex-pats homesick, here’s a nice article about it from the NYT my mom sent me. Reading it made me realize I’ve been pretty blessedly free from this disease. I mean, I am desperately, soul-achingly taco-sick, and there are lots of things I miss sometimes, (Rite Aids, actual burgers that aren’t McDonalds or what the Turks call burgers but are actually closer to sausage rolls, privacy…) but mostly I’ve adapted pretty well, I think. Anyone have any thoughts about their experiences with homesickness?

SPEAKING OF TACOS: how long d’you suppose the range on this taco-delivering unmanned drone is? ‘Cause this is just about the best thing ever and I WANT THIS SERVICE RIGHT NOW.

What do I love more than tacos? Books. Here is a really interesting article about Cassanova, whose actual physical memoirs are out of private hands for the first time since 1798. The story of the poor book is fascinating, and I now have yet another book on my summer reading list.

Speaking of things that have been banned, (man, I am on a segue ROLL today!) what the (pardon my french) FUCK is going on with the parents of the millenial generation? Do you all think your kids are Victorian damsels, to be wrapped in cotton wool and kept in state of complete innocence until they graduate from high school? Jesus H Christ. If it isn’t enough to ban words like “birthday party” from standardized tests in New York, some poor teacher has been suspended for reading Enders Game to his students. I’m appalled.

And finally, a little levity from this website that I just found and find utterly delightful.

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This Week In Links

I am thankful that Spring has finally come to Istanbul. 

You can be grateful that it was a brisker news week and I don’t feel compelled to pad with jokes.

So I’m proud to call Maryland, where people purchase drugs with stolen bottles of laundry detergent, my home state.

I first read this article on hangover cures when it came out four years ago. I thought it was interesting then and I think it’s interesting now. So in honor or St. Patricks Day and the imminent spring break, read all about the science of Hair of the Dog.

Simon Doonan can do no wrong in my eyes. Here he is in royal style.

Speaking of fashion, here’s a moderately interesting slide show of Madam fashion statements. (It inspired me to rewatch Pretty Baby, which, number one, ick, and number two- WWW, Susan Sarandon was a whore, not a madam. Dummies.)

Also speaking of fashion, I know this is stating the obvious but Karl Lagerfeld is a lunatic. I guess on some level I was precognizant of his wearing a bespoke nightshirt based on a 17th century pattern and made of the purest white linen to bed every night, but somehow I was floored by the housing situation.

Dems put make a ridiculous spectacle of male reproductive health. Nice quid pro quo, ladies! On a related note, when I try explaining that republicans don’t want ladies to be able to take their lady-pills, my Turkish friends (admittedly I don’t have conservative Turkish friends) look, if possible, MORE baffled than when I try explaining that republicans don’t want people to have health care.

And finally, what happens when a 35 year old man retakes the SAT’s? He writes a hilarious if, (I agree with the proctor) maddeningly colloquial account of it. (By contrast when a 32 year old woman tries to teach the verbal skills for the SAT to foreign language students, she realizes she remembers very little of the vocabulary anymore and disappears into an unclever shame spiral.)

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This Week In Links

Also new here on WasConstantinople: a weekly roundup of things around the internet I think are worthwhile to read and share. Hope you do too. Some of ’em are Turkey-related, and some of ’em are just things I enjoyed.

For instance:

Did you know that  a Muslim Facebook is coming this Ramazan? And that its headquarters are located in Istanbul? Any thoughts?

If you’re an artist or a writer or a musician, or anything, really, Make Your Thing is required reading. Part pep-talk, part tough love, part practical advice, if Jesse Thorn’s 12 point program doesn’t inspire you to get off your butt and start doing stuff, you might as well hang it up now.

World, please meet Poppy Cannon, who just might make Sandra Lee look like Alice Waters. Also, why doesn’t anyone flambee things anymore? I think I’m gonna pick up some rum and one of those long-handled clicky lighters on my way home. Roommate, cats, and kitchen ceiling paint: consider this your warning.

I haven’t delved into sexual politics in Turkey on this blog, yet. Whenever I think about it I get incredibly weary, as Hercules must’ve after he saw Augeus’s stables but before he got that clever river idea. Here’s a taste: a conservative party, (delightfully named the Felicity party, apparently?) wants special pink metrobuses for women only!

This article is dry, but the content, and moreso the implications, is interesting. I learned today that Turkey is one of the only countries investing in Iran.

I love the Walters. I think it’s the best museum in the whole wide world, but that may be my considerable hometown bias. Regardless, it’s doing really, really cool things now. If you aren’t facebook friends with them, you should be. Their art of the day posts are awesome. And if you aren’t listening to their podcast, your loss, buddy.

Urban Planning enthusiasts and historical building buffs prepare your outrage now: what cost growth in Istanbul?

On the off chance that you haven’t seen this/cried over the Joseph Kony video, here‘s some information on how to be part of the solution.

And here is a compelling counterargument. Discuss!

And finally this bit about the Book of Revelations as a series of ancient, satirical political cartoons. That actually makes more sense, but then again, just about anything does.

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