A History of Teeth, Modern Mavericks, and in Praise of Brooks Brothers

In praise of Brooks Brothers: “The best thing about Brooks Brothers apart from their essential catholicity is their conservatism. There are very few items for sale in their stores or online that would have turned an eyeball in 1960.”

Lars von Trier trolls Cannes: The House That Jack Built “premiered at the Cannes film festival on Monday to widespread outrage, a mass walkout and tepid reviews…In an interview with Cineuropa, the Danish director said he was pleased by the reaction and it made him ‘very relaxed’.”

Two hidden pages in Anne Frank’s diary have been restored. They contain dirty jokes and a description of “sexual matters,” but also evidence of a more literary approach to writing. “Mr. de Bruijn said Frank may have also pasted over the pages as a form of self-editing as she revised her diary in preparation for the second, public version.”

Modern mavericks: Freud stuck with figures while abstraction was all the rage, and David Hockney’s paintings seemed almost sappy compared to the analytic work of his peers.

No Wodehouse prize this year: “The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for comic fiction, which has been running since 2000, goes to the novel deemed to best capture the comic spirit of the late PG Wodehouse. In another blow to a year that has already suffered from its fair share of doom and gloom, judges revealed on Wednesday morning that they had not found a book they felt worthy ‘to join the heady comedic ranks of PG Wodehouse’ or of previous winners such as Marina Lewycka or Alexander McCall Smith.”

Our messy but enduring relationship with our teeth: “Eyes are not the window into the soul—teeth are. They can be rotten, wise or broken; they reveal our diet, health and wealth. As babies, we learn about the world around us by munching our way through it. Teeth are the only exposed part of our skeleton while we are alive. And when we die, they will be the part of our body that longest remains on earth. If we perish in a particularly grisly fashion, our dental records may be what identifies us.”

Essay of the Day:

In Rolling Stone, Sam Blum writes about William Baekeland, a young and mysterious world traveler who apparently conned his fellow adventurers:

“In March 2015, an elite group of adventurers boarded the Ortelius, an ice-strengthened cruise ship bound for Bouvet Island. The 29-day journey was long and arduous: Considered by some measurements the remotest landmass on the planet, the Norwegian territory lies in the middle of the south Atlantic Ocean, a forlorn speck between Antarctica and the bottom tip of South Africa.

“As they sailed through the miles of icy waters, the ship’s 60-plus passengers traded the monotony of sea for mingling. Among them was William Baekeland, a young and unassuming outsider, who cut an intriguing figure. An inveterate travel expert at 22 years old, with a scrawny build and neatly combed hair, he looked more like a high-school student than an explorer. Shockingly, though, his knowledge of world geography was immense – he’d claimed to have already visited most of the 193 countries recognized by the United Nations. The other explorers onboard the ship – seasoned members of the Travelers’ Century Club, the Most Traveled People, and other exclusive societies – perked up in the company of the curious stranger.

“Despite spending thousands of dollars to be there, the passengers were roughing it in cramped cabins cluttered with beds and luggage, while Baekeland stayed alone in a private room. In the Ortelius’ dining hall, he commanded attention, dropping obscure bits of geographical knowledge as the ship lumbered south. He asserted himself as a travel fixer, the kind of guru who could coordinate trips to the most far-flung countries, territories, islands and atolls that seemingly no one could access.

“Baekeland didn’t immediately reveal it, but later claimed to have grown up wealthy, sailing around the world and attending prestigious schools. The Baekeland name was assumedly the source of that excess, as a cursory Google search revealed an association with great wealth stretching back generations.”

Read the rest.

Photo: Castle Island

Poem: James Matthew Wilson, “Return to St. Thomas”

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