Leisurely reads. Quirky tips. Meet your weekend BFF with the lowdown on the coolest art, culture, food, travel, TV shows, music and more.
Sep 04, 2021
It’s been a disappointing 18 months for global nomads and jet-setters. Travel was mostly relegated to aspirational but unattainable #wanderlust posts on social media or, if you did manage to go abroad, it involved PCR testing, PPE-adjusting, sanitizer-scrubbing and people-dodging. This week the EU recommended its member states reverse a summer decision to allow in nonessential U.S. travelers, as the delta variant looks set to make border-crossing tough once again.
Thankfully, geographic constraints don’t get in the way of a healthy dose of what I like to call “mind-tripping.” You know, where you use songs, movies or books to take you far away from your daily drudgery, all from the comfort of your couch. This weekend, let films shot in stunning locations and world music that conjures up foreign vistas take you on a trip. And, if you’re stateside, explore some off-kilter domestic destinations you could potentially travel to this fall. Keep an eye out for our hot celebrity tip, and you’ll be all set. Bon voyage!
Sohini Das Gupta, Reporter
celluloid capers: movies to take you places
1 - ‘Wine Country’
A golden Californian summer of bucolic vineyards in the company of sparkling wine, and equally sparkling friends. Wine Country is a boozy girls-retreat-gone-wrong comedy starring Amy Poehler and fellowSNL veterans andreal-life friends Maya Rudolph and Tina Fey. The harried and hilarious group reunites in Napa Valley to celebrate a 50th birthday, and for a while, there’s much swirling and sipping, but then all hell breaks loose. Poehler’s feature directorial debut isn’t a bleeding-heart sermon on friendship or midlife crises, although it dabbles in both. It’s a story about old friends finding new meaning in things, tasting the sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet and frequently raunchy notes of life . . . together. The chemistry of the cast is as dependable as a glass of good pinot grigio — which I suggest you pour before settling down to watch this delicious Napa romp.
2 - ‘Juanita’
In a world obsessed with youth, here’s a narrative that puts a middle-aged woman of color at the wheel of her own all-American road trip.The titular character is a working-class woman, played by Emmy-winning actress and political activistAlfre Woodard, who leaves behind the frustrations of her cog-in-the-wheel life to chase that elusive something more — all the way to Butte, Montana. Through glistening green landscapes and along winding roads, in small towns and on beaches, Juanita gives fresh mojo to the trope of the road trip as a metaphor for life’s journey, as she comes into contact with people she wouldn’t otherwise have met. She encounters some of them in Paper Moon, the unassuming Montana town that allows the single mother to find a rejuvenated sense of community among new Native American friends and, yes, a renewed sense of self.
3 - ‘Serendipity’
Yes, OK. I am a hopeless romantic and an unpaid defender of cliches. Cafemeet cutes, cosmic love tested by malevolent stars, Rumi-style kindred spirits — just keep them coming. In my defense, I am also deeply appreciative of any montage of New York City, especially one covered in December snow. If Wine Country sends you on a summer hiatus,Serendipity is for the mesmerizing beauty of winter, twinkling over the city of millions. Hungover from the ’90s with its turn-of-the-millennium release, the movie sees a beautiful Kate Beckinsale and a beautiful John Cusack (you heard me) meet and part ways in beautiful NYC . . . perhaps to meet again? There are also glimpses of glamorous San Francisco, but Sara and Jonathan’s story draws character from a flurry of East Coast witnesses — Central Park, the Waldorf Astoria hotel, Christmas-ready Bloomingdale’s and Wollman Rink, to name a few. The Big Apple is as much a protagonist here as the central characters.
Highways framed by autumn foliage, snaking coastlines, unsung architectural towns of the Midwest, rich Southern fare and sleepy scattered islands! There’s an America beyond the big cities, and it might be closer than you think. Remember the fictional island central to Wes Anderson’s coming-of-age drama Moonrise Kingdom? You can capture New Penzance’s dreamy topography if you take a trip toPrudence Island, where some of the movie was filmed. But Rhode Island’s best-kept secret will make you work for it: You have tobook a ferry, scout for the perfectAirbnb and pack picnic baskets — the kindEnid Blyton might approve of. If you’re in for the long haul, double-check the operating hours for the island’s lone general store, for there are no restaurants or hotels to be found. The rewards? Electric sunsets, soft sand beaches, hiking trails that wind through hardwood forests and pine barrens, an old lighthouse and the surrounding sea.
2 - Solvang, California
California likes its pretty secrets, but over the years, some have slipped out. LikeCarmel-by-the-Sea, a Monterey Peninsula favorite that gained popularity with out-of-staters after being featured in the HBO drama Big Little Lies. Then there are the photogenic areas ofLone Pine andSan Luis Obispo — overflowing with history, adventure and wine, yet usually eclipsed by Big Sur or Santa Barbara. One hidden gem that can make you feel like you’re in Europe isSolvang, a Danish outpost that looks like a fairy-tale hamlet. Gingerbread houses stand beside old-timey bakeries selling Danish waffles and Florentine cookies, and souvenir shops jostle with hipster boutiques and farm-to-table restaurants, giving it an anachronistic cool. Psst: Earlier this year, California-born Sean Penn revealed his own L.A.-adjacent travel treat on The Carlos Watson Show: a rock wall “about 3 miles along the Old Topanga Canyon Road.” According to the actor, if you “start chipping” at it with some “excavating tools,” it throws up “the most extraordinarily defined fossils of a time when Los Angeles was underwater.” Not that we’re suggesting you become a rogue archaeologist!
3 - Apostle Islands Ice Caves, Wisconsin
Speaking of water, summer and lakes make for a classic pairing. But come winter, the sea caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore crank up their beauty a hundred notches. Access is not easy or guaranteed unless weather conditions are just right for viewing the delicately carved caves at the Meyers Beach area of the national park’s Mainland Unit. If they are, you can seize the opportunity to admire the waves of Lake Superior frozen mid-splash like glimmering ghosts. Propped against blazing red sandstone cliffs, the ice forms columns, curtains and crystals. Monitor the officialwebsite or the park’s Facebook page through the cold months to find out when the caves are open, and adopt standard safety measures before setting out. Warm clothes, heat packs, ski poles, sturdy boots, ice cleats and snowshoes will make the trek easier. There is no official tour of the ice caves, but in the more touristic summer months, you can arrange to kayak, sail and even camp overnight in the park throughauthorized outfitters.
songs of the soil: crossing borders
1 - Ancient but Contemporary
The term Native American music encompasses the sounds of the many distinct Indigenous cultures across the Americas, which are in no way homogenous. Originally crafted out of nature’s bounty — wood, bones and antlers — local variations of instruments such as drums, flutes and whistles give this music a unique character. Long used as a means of recounting oral history, a contemporary crop of Native American musicians is bending the boundaries by creating music that blends ancestral traditions with the modern. Take, for instance, the drum and bass heavy pieces ofSihasin, an award-winning punk rock band consisting of the brother-sister duo Jeneda and Clayson Benally, members of the Navajo Nation. The Ramones’ former bassist is a fan of the group, which has a punk passion for social justice. The Halluci Nation,Prolific The Rapper,Mic Jordan,Supaman andPamyua are other artists who have brought the beauty and fury of Indigenous music to the fore in the past decade. Trace their journey with the fascinating 2017 Canadian documentary Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World.
2 - Didgeridoo
It was in Darwin, a scruffy Outback town perched at the top end of Australia’s remote Northern Territory, that I first heard the strains of adidgeridoo, one of the oldest instruments in the world. Coursing through the night air salted by the Timor Sea, the wind instrument produced adeep, droning vibration. It sounded to me like some ancient clarion call issuing from the center of the Earth. It was only later that I was granted a permit to visit the sacred realm ofArnhem Land, several hours from Darwin, where amid red dust and sprawling wilderness, specific Aboriginal groups preserve the unique sound of this north Australian instrument. In modern compositions, the didgeridoo has been integrated withguitar, a full orchestra, and Mongolian and Tibetan musical elements, and even used for sound-bathing meditation. Safe to say, it can take you places.
3 - Songs From India’s Santhal Tribe
If there’s one thing Santhals love more than their forested homelands, it’s music and dance. The tribe from eastern India is known for its rich oral traditions, where unwinding after a hard day’s work typically involves bonding over the communal experiences of dancing and singing.Instruments such as the tirio (a bamboo flute with seven holes), phet banam (a fretless stringed instrument), dhodro banam (a bowed instrument carved from a single log),tamak and tumdak (drums) lend a characteristic verve to Santhali songs. For the pre-Aryan ethnic group, music is inextricably linked toreligious festivals, often guided by the forces of nature. Ritual invocations called bakhen are sung to invite rich harvests, peace and prosperity. Then there are songs of love and longing, and songs washing over the primal experiences of birth and death — timeless notes rise and fall to mark every phase of Santhal life.
top picks for the travel bug
1 - Be Duffel Ready
Roll into your next vacation with this lightweight rolling duffel bag that packs in more stuff and less hassle — what every vacation needs. With a spacious central compartment, zippered pockets for stashing snacks, an in-line skate wheel system and a top bungee cord, this one’s for those who have trouble deciding what to leave behind. For once, maybe you don’t have to.
2 - Road to Adventure
Whether you are camping in the great outdoors, or simply enjoying a local hike, a good pair of hiking boots will get you through all kinds of terrain. These lace-up numbers add both substance and style to your hiking adventure. If the waterproof leather, grip-friendly soles, canvas lining and cushioned insole don’t seal the deal for you, strut them booties around city streets to strike some punk-meets-posh vibes.
3 - No Kidding!
You’re not the only one who’s been sky-starved, you know. Imagine the plight of the young ’uns: kids, or perhaps the budding adult camping enthusiast next door, cooped up for months with oodles of energy and no outlet. Gift this star-spangled, sherpa-lined sleeping bag to a favorite niece or nephew so their stargazing can resume, if only from the backyard.
OZY is a diverse, global and forward-looking media and entertainment company focused on “the New and the Next.” OZY creates space for fresh perspectives and offers new takes on everything from news and culture to technology, business, learning and entertainment.