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Things to read this week.

The Weight of James Arthur Baldwin

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It was an acquaintance’s idea to go there, to James Baldwin’s house. He knew from living in Paris that Baldwin’s old place, the house where he died, was near an elegant, renowned hotel in the Cote D’Azur region of France. He said both places were situated in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a medieval-era walled village that was scenic enough to warrant the visit. He said we could go to Baldwin’s house and then walk up the road for drinks at the hotel bar where the writer used to drink in the evening. He said we would make a day of it, that I wouldn’t regret it.

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The Forgotten History and Revival of Mexico’s Great Border Spirit

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In Oaxaca, there’s a saying that’s often quoted back to me when I whine about problems in my life: Para todo mal, mezcal; para todo bien, también. (For every sadness, there’s mezcal; for every happiness, too.) It is, I am happy to report, an approach that works wonders.

Other Americans, it seems, have also started to embrace this mentality: The spirit has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity over the past decade, making its way onto back bars across the country and creating legions of devotees north of the border.

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The Politics of the Hoodie

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On a recent night, shopping online for a light jacket or a cotton sweater — some kind of outerwear to guard my body against a springlike breeze — I clicked on the ‘‘new arrivals’’ page of the website of a popular retailer and encountered, unexpectedly, another instance of the complex oddity of race. Here, projecting catalog-model cordiality in the sterile space of an off-white backdrop, was a young black man in a hoodie.

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The Second Most Famous Thing To Happen To Hiroshima

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It starts with a thwack, the sharp crack of hard plastic against a hot metal surface. When the ladle rolls over, it deposits a pale-yellow puddle of batter onto the griddle. A gentle sizzle, as the back of the ladle spackles a mixture of eggs, flour, water, and milk across the silver surface. A crepe takes shape.

Next comes cabbage, chopped thin—but not too thin—and stacked six inches high, lightly packed so hot air can flow freely and wilt the mountain down to a molehill. Crowning the cabbage comes a flurry of tastes and textures: ivory bean sprouts, golden pebbles of fried tempura batter, a few shakes of salt and, for an extra umami punch, a drift of dried bonito powder. Finally, three strips of streaky pork belly, just enough to umbrella the cabbage in fat, plus a bit more batter to hold the whole thing together. With two metal spatulas and a gentle rocking of the wrists, the mass is inverted. The pork fat melts on contact, and the cabbage shrinks in the steam trapped under the crepe.

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Never Stop Drinking

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When I was about 13 my father – who had an interesting approach to child-rearing – forced me to drink his whisky and smoke his cigars. Quantities of both. The idea being aversion therapy, to put me off both filthy habits once and for all. (The irony that they were his cigars and his whisky apparently eluded him.) It worked up to a point: I hate whisky and confined my smoking habit to chugging away at 40 Marlboro Lights a day, never a Cohiba in sight. On the other hand, it was a spectacular failure: I may have given up the fags forever, but I will never, ever stop drinking. They will probably have to wedge me into the coffin after prising a martini from my cold, dead claw. 

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