Tag Archives: travel

Fearing Trump crackdown, dreamers advised to end travel

Immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, but were protected from deportation by President Barrack Obama, are being warned by some advocates to make sure they are not traveling abroad when Donald Trump is sworn in as president.

Some advocates, lawyers and universities are concerned that Trump might immediately rescind an Obama program that had allowed these young immigrants to work and travel for humanitarian, educational or employment purposes.

That could lead, they fear, to some people traveling abroad being barred from re-entering the U.S.

“We are recommending all travel be completed by or before Jan. 20 in the event laws or procedures experience a drastic change,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. “We wouldn’t want to expose them to an uncertain situation should they not be allowed back to the U.S.”

Trump made immigration the cornerstone of his campaign, promising to build a wall along the Mexican border and deport millions of people living in the country illegally.

His actual plans, though, have yet to be revealed. Recently, he has said he wants to focus on people who have committed crimes.

During a recent Time magazine interview, Trump expressed sympathy for the 741,000 people in Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which started in 2012.

“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump said. “They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Advocates are still being cautious.

Nancy Lopez-Ramirez, a 20-year-old student born in Mexico who is planning a trip there as part of a City College of New York class, said she is glad the group is returning by Jan. 15.

“My mom is like ‘I am concerned with you not coming back, I want you to be able to come back,’” she said.

“It is nerve-wracking but I think that at the end it is going to be worth it,” said the political-science student, who was brought to the U.S. when she was 4.

City College, part of the City University of New York, is one of the institutions advising students in the DACA program to return before Inauguration Day. So is California State University, which told administrators to tell participants in the program “that if they are outside of the United States as of January 20, 2017, there is no assurance they will be allowed to return to the U.S.”

Trump can rescind the promised protection right away through an “operational memo” because Obama implemented it through one, said William Stock, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

He said the program’s participants should not consider traveling overseas unless they absolutely need to.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Anthony Bucci said his agency “cannot speculate” when he was asked how long would it take for CBP officers to deny entry to the U.S. to program participants if Trump eliminated the protection.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services records said that as of Dec. 31, 2015, about 22,340 people in the DACA program were approved for the “parole” that allows them to travel outside the U.S.

Trump called the program an “illegal amnesty” during his campaign.

Tatyana Kleyn, an associate professor at City College who organized the upcoming Mexico trip, said interest in it actually surged among students after the presidential election.

“So right now our bus fits 18 and we are bringing 20,” she said. “It feels like a last chance.”

A new role for Frank Lloyd Wright home that survived Sandy

A Frank Lloyd Wright house that was flooded by Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey is high and dry in Arkansas. And it’s getting thousands of visitors as part of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

The Bachman-Wilson House, originally located in Millstone, New Jersey, was one of Wright’s famed Usonian homes. The architect created these small, simple structures for middle-class Americans, and about 60 were built.

The Crystal Bridges Museum had the home moved to Bentonville, Arkansas, where it was aligned on the same axis Wright used when laying out the building in 1954.

More than 80,000 people have toured the Bachman-Wilson House in the past year. The home is presented as a retreat — a place to get away from it all without having to get away.

“You’re completely immersed in your natural environment,” said Dylan Turk, a curatorial assistant at Crystal Bridges. “Wright’s using materials that are American and comfortable — woods and natural materials — because he feels that is more connectible than steel, which is what other architects were using at that time.”

Wright desired an American identity among everyday homes and labeled his style “Usonian,” for the “United States of North America.” He wanted them to be affordable, and charged just $400 for the plans for the Bachman-Wilson House. The house cost about $30,000 to build.

Wright actually never visited a Usonian home, Turk said. He was busy working on the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, when the Bachman-Wilson House was built.

“Wright valued everything he designed, but he was also working on, at the time, The Guggenheim, which he thought would be his shining moment as an architect. He may have been a little preoccupied,” Turk said.

While it wasn’t part of the Crystal Bridges’ initial plan, the Wright-designed home fits in with the museum’s concentration on art, architecture and nature, Turk said. Crystal Bridges architect Moshe Safdie sited the museum above Town Branch Creek. The Bachman-Wilson House overlooks Crystal Spring, a tributary well out of the flood plain.

Students from the University of Arkansas’ school of architecture, which is named after Wright protege Fay Jones, designed a welcome pavilion nearby. Wright, Jones and Safdie each won the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal.

“I wish I could have said I initiated the action to get the house, but I didn’t,” Safdie said. While he hasn’t yet seen the Bachman-Wilson House in Arkansas, he said he was thrilled to hear about the acquisition and noted that he, Jones and Wright each now have an influence on the museum’s grounds.

“The trilogy has pleased me,” he said.

Before the house opened on a recent chilly morning, Turk sat down on the living room’s low-slung bench, which abuts a cinder block wall designed as a barrier for the world outside. Across the room is a wall of glass, broken up by mahogany door frames and window frames cut in the shape of a maple tree’s winged seed pod. The room faces southwest to catch the afternoon sun.

“He wanted you to be as close to the ground as you possibly could be because he thought that grounded you,” Turk said. “You’re looking up. You can see the tops of the trees through the clerestory windows.”

A rust-colored floor, heated from beneath, extends beyond the glass.

“He pioneered radiant heat in the United States. If you are outside on a cool night, you can feel your house,” Turk said. “He wanted you to feel your house in as many ways as you possibly could.”

The Bachman-Wilson House flooded a number of times in New Jersey, most recently when Sandy hit in 2012. When its owners considered moving it to preserve it, Crystal Bridges said it would fit in with its mission.

“Art is not just a painting that hangs on the wall,” Turk said. “If you want to be creative, it doesn’t have to be limited to a canvas.

“This is familiar. It’s a house,” he said. “Most people live in a house, so it allows us to open up this space for people to come in and go, ‘Huh, my house doesn’t look like this. Why?’ or ‘I have this in my house. Why do I have this in my house?””

If You Go…

CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART: Located in Bentonville, Arkansas. Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Monday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Free general admission includes Wright house.

 

Circular temple to god of wind uncovered in Mexico City

Working at the site of a demolished supermarket, archaeologists dug 10 feet down to find a temple built more than 650 years ago, researchers said this week.

The circular platform, about 36 feet in diameter and four feet tall, now sits in the shadow of a shopping mall under construction. The site is believed to have been built to worship the god of wind, Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, and the plans to preserve it and make it visible to the public with a large viewing window.

What archaeologists initially found below the old supermarket — shards of pottery and human remains — was expected, said Pedro Francisco Sanchez Nava, national archaeology coordinator for Mexico’s National Anthropology and History Institute.

But deeper down they were surprised to find the temple, which offers another example of how the Mexica-Tlatelolca people worshipped one of their principal deities, Sanchez said. Offerings found included an infant with no signs of trauma, bird bones, obsidian, maguey cactus spines and ceramic figurines of monkeys and duck bills.

The majority of the temple’s original white stucco remains intact. Archaeologist Salvador Guilliem said similar structures, round on three sides and with a rectangular platform on the fourth, have been found before, including in the same area.

The temple lies within the perimeter of a large ceremonial site in the capital’s Tlatelolco neighborhood, though much of that perimeter is invisible, covered by an urban landscape.

Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, researcher emeritus, said modern day Mexico City covers several different pre-Hispanic cities, including Tlatelolco and its rival Tenochtitlan.

Tenochtitlan was a center of political power while Tlatelolco dedicated itself to commerce, with an important market that was noted even by Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes. Eventually Tenochtitlan took control of Tlatelolco.

When the Spanish and their indigenous allies began conquering Tenochtitlan, residents of that city withdrew to Tlatelolco to continue the fight and Tlatelolco became the last site of resistance against the Spanish in the area.

The site of the recently uncovered temple is just yards away from where Mexican soldiers massacred protesting students in 1968.

Birders, brewers form flock

In the worlds of birders and craft beer lovers, there’s a new paradigm, and it involves searching for ales along with the eagles, pairing stouts with swans and enjoying some bocks in tandem with buntings.

Tours and events aimed at attracting both beer nerds and bird enthusiasts are popping up all over the country, attracting bearded microbrew lovers, field-guide-wielding bird buffs and folks with a passion for both suds and sparrows. Bird-and-beer happenings are taking place from Los Angeles to Minneapolis to Hampton, New Hampshire.

Beer and bird hobbyists say they are united by their mutual love of minutiae, rarity and variety, whether searching for an Indian peafowl or a limited release of India pale ale.

Typically, the trips begin with a hike and end at a brewery.

One of the more successful tours is “Birds On Tap Roadtrip,” located in beer-loving, bird-rich Maine and now in its second year.

“There happen to be a lot of people who like birds who like beer — we’ve analyzed this,” said Derek Lovitch, who leads Birds On Tap Roadtrip tours. “And then, after the third or fourth pint, we really analyze this.”

Birds On Tap Roadtrip is coordinated by Freeport Wild Bird Supply, which is run by bird nut Lovitch and his wife, Jeannette. They partner with Maine Brew Bus, a lime green bus that shuttles people to the state’s many breweries and serves as a kind of Mystery Machine of Maine beer. The tours are $65 — libations are included, but binoculars are not.

This year’s slate of tours began in February and will run every several weeks until Dec. 11. Each trip has a theme, including “Surf and Suds,” which is a winter waterfowl tour, and “Grassland and Grains,” a late-spring search for sandpipers and sparrows on the Kennebunk Plains, a nature preserve.

This November’s tour was “Fall Ducks and Draughts,” a chilly march around Sabattus Pond on the hunt for waterbirds including hooded mergansers, common goldeneyes, buffleheads and green-wing teals. All were located, and the group of about a dozen hearty birders then departed by bus for trips to Baxter Brewing in Lewiston and Maine Beer Co. in Freeport.

The beer end of the trip was as successful as the bird bit. The group located a peregrine falcon resting on a steeple just outside Baxter after imbibing. At Maine Beer Company, the brewery was able to provide fresh glasses of Dinner, its sought-after double IPA.

Participants agreed there was no harm in having a lager along with the loons. (Though they actually saw only one loon.) Brandon Baldwin, 40, of Manchester, Maine, went with his mother, Carole Baldwin, 73, of Skowhegan, and said the trip appealed to both of them.

“She’s an avid birder who likes beer. I’m an avid beerer who likes birds,” he said. “It seemed like a perfect crossover.”

Bird-and-beer events sometimes take different forms. One, held on the rooftop of the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, brought bird experts from the National Park Service to help people observe birds in an urban environment. Libations followed. In Minneapolis, a group called “Birds and Beers” gathers to brainstorm about secret hotspots and tips on how to take bird pictures using a digital scope.

Smuttynose Brewery in Hampton, New Hampshire, hosted a bird walk and brewery tour on the brewery’s own grounds. And in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, people met for a hiking and birding tour of Black Run Preserve in Evesham Township followed by tours of Berlin Brewing Co., Lunacy Brewing Co. and Flying Fish Brewery.

Some of the trips are organized by private companies and nature societies and others are the product of local meetup groups that form online. Prices vary from nothing to about the price of a pro football ticket.

Don Littlefield, a partner in the Maine Brew Bus company that hosts the Maine tour, said it has proved to be a way to make beer fans out of bird lovers — and vice versa.

“It allows us to reach another different demographic,” he said. “There’s a lot of people who are not necessarily there for the beer. They are there for the birds. And then there are others who are not there for the birds — they are there for the beer.”

Uber predicts flying commuters in 10 years

Flying commuters like George Jetson could be whizzing to work through the sky less than 10 years from now, according to ride-services provider Uber, which believes the future of transportation is literally looking up.

Uber Technologies Inc released a white paper on Thursday envisioning a future in which commuters hop onto a small aircraft, take off vertically and within minutes arrive at their destinations. The flyers would eventually be unmanned, according to the company.

It sounds like the opening sequence to “The Jetsons,” the 1962 U.S. cartoon about a future filled with moving sidewalks, robot housekeepers and spaceflight, but Uber sees flying rides as feasible and eventually affordable.

Uber already offers helicopter rides to commuters in Brazil. The company plans to convene a global summit early next year to explore on-demand aviation, in which small electric aircraft could take off and land vertically to reduce congestion and save time for long-distance commuters, and eventually city dwellers.

Others have also envisioned such aircraft, akin to a helicopter but without the noise and emissions. Vertical take off and landing aircraft have been studied and developed for decades, including by aircraft makers, the military, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Uber is already exploring self-driving technology, hoping to slash costs by eliminating the need for drivers in its core business of on-demand rides. On-demand air transport marks a new frontier, set squarely in the future.

Uber’s vision, detailed in a 97-page document, argues that on-demand aviation will be affordable and achievable in the next decade assuming effective collaboration between regulators, communities and manufacturers.

Ultimately, using VTOLs for transport could be less expensive than owning a car, Uber predicted.

Such on-demand VTOL aircraft would be “optionally piloted,” Uber said, where autonomous technology takes over the main workload and the pilot is relied on for situational awareness. Eventually, the aircraft will likely be fully automated, Uber said.

Hurdles include battery technology. Batteries must come down in cost and charge faster, become more powerful and have longer lifecycles.

Regulatory hurdles must also be solved such as certification by aviation regulators as well as infrastructure needs, such as more takeoff and landing sites.

Uber plans to reach out to stakeholders within the next six months to explore the implications of urban air transport and share ideas before hosting a summit in early 2017 to explore the issues and solutions and help accelerate urban air transportation.

Limits lifted on bringing in Cuban rum, cigars

The Obama administration announced Friday that it is eliminating a $100 limit on the value of Cuban rum and cigars that American travelers can bring back from the island.

The administration is also lifting limits on cargo ship travel between the U.S. and Cuba and easing U.S. and Cuban researchers’ ability to conduct joint medical research. The measures are contained in a package of relatively small-scale regulatory changes meant to ease U.S. trade with Cuba.

The Obama administration has now made six sets of changes loosening the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba in the hopes that the normalization of relations with the island will not be reversed by a future administration. This round is expected to be the last before President Barack Obama leaves office.

Cuban rum and cigars will now be subject to the same duties as alcohol and tobacco from other countries, meaning most travelers will be able to bring back as many as 100 cigars and several bottles of rum. Because high-end Cuban cigars can sell for more than $100 apiece outside Cuba, every U.S. traveler can now legally bring back many thousands of dollars of Cuban products, potentially generating hundreds of millions of dollars in new annual revenue for the Cuban state.

The change does not mean that Cuban rum and cigars will be available for sale in the U.S. — the change is aimed at tobacco and alcohol brought home for personal use.

The previous limit restricted travelers to a combined value of $100 in rum and cigars, although enforcement of the limit notably declined after President Barack Obama declared detente with Cuba on Dec. 17, 2014.

The administration has described its policy goal as aimed at helping the Cuban people improve their lives by winning greater economic and political freedom from the single-party state.

“Challenges remain – and very real differences between our governments persist on issues of democracy and human rights – but I believe that engagement is the best way to address those differences and make progress on behalf of our interests and values,” Obama said in a statement announcing the changes.

Rum and cigar production is entirely government-run under Cuba’s centrally planned communist economy. While the first regulatory changes focused narrowly on helping Cuba’s growing private sector, Friday’s new rules are almost entirely aimed at similarly state-run industries including shipping and medical products.

The package of regulatory changes announced Friday also allows cargo ships to visit U.S. ports directly after docking in Cuba. They had been barred from U.S. ports for 180 days after visiting Cuba. Cuba blamed that measure for harming its ability to import and export and dampening hopes that a new military-run port in the city of Mariel could serve as a major link in the regional cargo shipping system.

A senior Obama administration official said the new regulations’ focus on Cuban state enterprise should not be interpreted as a shift away from helping ordinary Cubans.

“We have designed the policy very much to have the maximum benefit to the Cuban people, broadly, but in so doing we are not restricting engagement with the Cuban state. That has been clear since Dec. 17, 2014,” the official said in a conference call with reporters held on condition of anonymity. “The Cuban people continue to be at the center of everything we’re doing.”

More than 160,000 American travelers visited Cuba last year and that figure is expected to double this year. Hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans visit family on the island each year and will also be able to take advantage of the new measure, which comes a month and a half before the restart of commercial flights to Havana after more than 50 years.

Gourmet ganja? Marijuana dining is growing up, slowly

How to set a tone of woodsy chic at a four-course candlelight dinner served under the stars in the Colorado foothills:

Live musicians and flowers, check.

Award-winning cuisine, check.

Beer and wine pairings with each course, check.

Marijuana pairings? Oh, yes.

The 100 diners at this $200-a-plate dinner smoked a citrus-smelling marijuana strain to go with a fall salad with apples, dates and bacon, followed by a darker, sweeter strain of pot to accompany a main course of slow-roasted pork shoulder in a mole sauce with charred root vegetables and rice.

And with dessert? Marijuana-infused chocolate, of course, grated over salted caramel ice cream and paired with coffee infused with non-intoxicating hemp oil.

The diners received small glass pieces and lighters to smoke the pairings, or they could have their marijuana rolled into joints by professional rollers set up next to a bartender pouring wine.

Welcome to fine dining in Weed Country.

The marijuana industry is trying to move away from its pizza-and-Doritos roots as folks explore how to safely serve marijuana and food. Chefs are working with marijuana growers to chart the still-very-unscientific world of pairing food and weed. And a proliferation of mass-market cheap pot is driving professional growers to develop distinctive flavors and aromas to distinguish themselves in a crowded market.

“We talk with the (marijuana) grower to understand what traits they saw in the marijuana … whether it’s earthy notes, citrus notes, herbal notes, things that we could play off,” said Corey Buck, head of catering for Blackbelly Restaurant, a top-rated farm-to-table restaurant that provided the meal.

The grower of one of the pot strains served at the dinner, Alex Perry, said it won’t be long until marijuana’s flavors and effects are parsed as intently as wine profiles. But that’s in the future, he conceded.

“It’s still looked down upon as a not-very-sophisticated thing,” said Perry, who grew a strain called Black Cherry Soda for his company, Headquarters Cannabis.

Holding his nose to a small jar of marijuana, Perry said, “If I asked my mom or my dad what they smell, they’re going to say, ‘skunk,’ or, ‘It smells like marijuana.’ But it’s like wine or anything else. There’s more flavor profile there.”

But chefs and pot growers trying to explore fine dining with weed face a legal gauntlet to make pot dinners a reality, even where the drug is as legal as beer.

Colorado’s marijuana retailers can’t also sell food, so guests at this dinner had to buy a separate $25 “goodie bag” from a dispensary for the pot pairings.

The bags came with tiny graters for diners to shave the pot chocolate onto their ice cream themselves; the wait staff could not legally serve a dish containing pot, even though the event was private and limited to people over 21. Diners were shuttled to and from the event by private bus, to avoid potentially stoned drivers leaving the dinner.

Marijuana dining may become more accessible in coming months, though.

Denver voters this fall will consider a proposal to allow marijuana use at some bars and restaurants as long as the drug isn’t smoked, with the potential for new outdoor marijuana smoking areas.

And two of the five states considering recreational marijuana in November _ California and Maine _ would allow some “social use” of the drug, leaving the potential for pot clubs or cafes.

Currently, Alaska is the only legal weed state that allows on-site marijuana use, with “tasting rooms” possible in commercial dispensaries. But that state is still working on rules for how those consumption areas would work.

For now, marijuana dining is limited to folks who hire private chefs to craft infused foods for meals served in their homes, or to special events like this one, limited to adults and set outside to avoid violating smoke-free air laws.

Guests at the Colorado dinner were admittedly experimenting with pairing weed and food, many giggling as they toked between bites. It became apparent late in the evening that a rich meal doesn’t counteract marijuana’s effects.

“What was I just saying?” one diner wondered aloud before dessert. “Oh, yeah. About my dog. No, your dog. Somebody’s dog.”

The man trailed off, not finishing his thought. His neighbor patted him on the back and handed him a fresh spoon for the ice cream.

Diners seemed genuinely curious about how to properly pair marijuana and food without getting too intoxicated.

“I am not a savant with this,” said Tamara Haddad of Lyons, who was waiting to have one of her pot samples professionally rolled into a joint. “I enjoy (marijuana) occasionally. I enjoy it with friends. I’m learning more about it.”

She laughed when asked whether marijuana can really move beyond its association with junk-food cravings.

“I have also munched out after being at the bar and drinking martinis and thinking, ‘Taco Bell sounds great,”” she said.

The po-boy: A messy history

History has it that the po-boy was invented by the Martin brothers, Benny and Clovis, to feed striking streetcar drivers in New Orleans in 1929.

According to an account on the website of the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, Benny Martin once said: “We fed those men free of charge until the strike ended. Whenever we saw one of the striking men coming, one of us would say, ‘Here comes another poor boy.’”

It is true that the Martin brothers wrote a letter, addressed to the striking drivers and printed in at least one local newspaper, in which they promised to feed the men. “Our meal is free to any members of Division I94,” they wrote, omitting any description of what that meal might be.

But history is often not neat.

The explanation for how things came to be can change over time. What is accepted as gospel in one generation may bear little resemblance to what was previously believed. Sometimes what sticks is the best story. This is how legends are made.

The generally accepted and oft-repeated story of how the celebrated po-boy sandwich was invented first appeared in a New Orleans newspaper in 1969, 40 years after the streetcar strike. But before that the tale was different.

In 1933, The New Orleans States wrote about the Martin brothers as they marked their grand opening at a new location, a story that appeared alongside a large advertisement paid for by the shop. The States told how the Martins came to the city from Raceland and began selling “sandwiches of half a loaf of French bread generously filled with whatever one desired, from roast beef to oysters” near the old French Market. They later moved to the corner of Dumaine and Decatur before returning to the French Market, where they stayed until 1929. Based on this version of events, Benny and Clovis Martin were selling the sandwich years before the labor dispute sent streetcar drivers to the picket line.

The States then described how the sandwich got its unusual name, an account similar to those repeated throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

“From the hard-pressed truck farmers of St. Bernard, who gathered daily on the curb along North Peters Street with their produce, came the name of Poor Boy,” the paper wrote.

***

There are other mysteries about the official history of the po-boy. One involves New Orleans’ most famous son.

In his autobiography, jazz great Sidney Bechet writes of joining with a cornet player he had never heard play to promote a show at a local theater, presumably sometime in the 1910s.

“I hired Louis (Armstrong) to come with me on this advertising, and, you know, it was wonderful,” Bechet writes in Treat It Gentle, published in 1960.

“Anyway, I gave him 50 c., I gave the drummer, Little Mack, 50 c., and that meant I made a dollar; the leader always kept the double. That was the first time I ever heard Louis play the cornet. He played the cornet then, though he went to the trumpet later.

“We went out and bought some beer with the money and got those sandwiches, Poor Boys, they’re called — a half a loaf of bread split open and stuffed with ham. We really had good times.”

It is possible that Bechet learned of the po-boy later and embellished the story of his early gig with Armstrong. But it’s worth noting that Bechet’s exposure to New Orleans later in his life was limited. He was long gone from the city by the time of the 1929 streetcar strike during which the po-boy was supposedly invented. Bechet moved north in 1917, years before Benny and Clovis Martin had even arrived in the city. Armstrong left New Orleans, too, moving to Chicago in 1922.

According to John Chilton in his Sidney Bechet: The Wizard of Jazz, the clarinetist who wrote of eating po-boys as a young man became estranged from his family and rarely returned to his hometown. Bechet came back to New Orleans for 10 days in 1944, then played a one-night stand at Municipal Auditorium in 1945, a dark period when the po-boy seemed at risk of extinction. (On Nov. 11, 1946, the States wrote that “the ‘poor boy’ sandwich, a New Orleans invention whose notoriety ran ahead of its nutrient worth, is today little heard of in the land of its birth.”)

Other than that, it’s unclear whether Bechet ever set foot in Louisiana again.

***

The po-boy name first saw the light of day in the New Orleans press in late 1929, four months after the start of the streetcar strike, in a story about a high-profile murder trial in Pointe a la Hache. The scandalous case involved a man who had fallen off a steamship into the Mississippi River in what was first thought to be a suicide. After his body was recovered, though, it was discovered that he had been shot. A woman traveling with the dead man claimed she had become engaged to the ship’s second officer; he was charged with murder.

The legal drama attracted a circus of journalists and curious onlookers at the Plaquemines Parish Courthouse on Nov. 4, 1929. At 1 p.m. that day, wrote Meigs O. Frost of The New Orleans States, “human appetites began to assert themselves.”

“Lawyers and reporters went or sent to a nearby lunch stand,” Frost wrote.

“Presently the tree-shaded courthouse lawn was dotted with groups gnawing at the huge sandwiches New Orleans knows as the ‘po-boy sandwich’ — whole loaves of French bread split lengthwise and filled with a freight of ham, sausage or cheese — and drinking from bottles of pop.”

The ship officer was eventually exonerated. He and the woman, socialite Gloria Rouzer (the ex-wife of British film director Michael Powell), were both freed.

***

Lunch stands in New Orleans were serving sandwiches that bear a strong resemblance to modern po-boys long before the po-boy name became famous, some of them on the Uptown side of Canal Street. In 1917, for example, the Comus Soda Fountain on Common Street and St. Charles Avenue advertised an oyster sandwich for 10 cents.

“Four delicious fried oysters in a toasted, buttered French loaf with piece of pickle, wrapped in sanitary wax paper sealed bag, for 10 c.,” the ad says. “We keep them hot and ready to take with you.”

But even in 1917, the sandwich that would be king was not new to New Orleans. More than a half-century earlier, Sam’s Saloon on St. Charles Avenue began selling oysters in sandwiches, instead of the then-standard metal containers.

“A big loaf of bread is ‘dug out’ — reserving a crust end as a stop — any quantity of delicious fried or broiled oysters is piled in; the top is neatly put on; and a gentleman can carry home his loaf and his ‘dozen’ — all hot — or have them brought home, for a lunch or a relish to dinner, without putting himself out of ‘tin’ to pay for ‘tin,’” wrote The Daily Picayune on Dec. 7, 1851.

Sam’s Saloon was operated by John McClure, the founder of the New Orleans Crescent, which three years earlier had brought Walt Whitman to the city to write for the newspaper. (Whitman lasted only a few months in New Orleans.)

“The oysters are ‘Sam’s’ are not remarkable as fish, but as oysters they are ‘good,”” wrote the Picayune.

***

There are tantalizing fragments of history surrounding the po-boy name. On New Year’s Day in 1931, Andrew Battistella ran an advertisement in the New Orleans Item touting his sandwich shop in the French Market. “New Year’s greetings to all,” the small ad says. “French Market coffee and lunch stand. A. Battistella, Prop. Originator of the Poor Boy’s Sandwich.”

Battistella gives his telephone number in the ad: Main 1407. Years earlier, that phone number had been used by a prominent local real estate agent named Armstrong Donaldson. Donaldson ran his own advertisements in the local papers in the 1910s and 1920s. He signed them “A. Donaldson, poor man’s agent.”

In the mid-1920s, the Bienville Meat Market, which had several locations in the city, regularly advertised its prices “in our flyproof markets.” One fixture: the “poor boy’s special for hard times,” stew meat for 10 cents per pound. It was perhaps not a bad base for making a sandwich, though any connection to a restaurant is unclear.

***

While the origins of the po-boy and its name are murky, it is clear that the Martin brothers perfected the sandwich, helped make it famous and bequeathed it with many of the defining characteristics that we know today, the bread shape and consistency chief among them. There were some key differences, though, according to Nick Gagliano, a lawyer who lives in Metairie.

Gagliano, who was 3 years old the year of the streetcar strike, remembers going to the Martins’ sandwich shop as a child.

“There were several things that stood out for me,” he said in an email this year, “one being their house-made mayo that was like no other that I ever tasted. The lettuce was shredded, which was a first-time experience for me, and there was very little gravy, which allowed the crisp French bread to taste like bread (not like the sodden mess you get today from some shops).

“I do not recall them asking me if I wanted it dressed, nor do I recall whether they offered tomato,” he said. “I simply ordered a roast beef sandwich with mayo and lettuce.

“I can say it was what I would call a modest well-balanced sandwich, where the meat, gravy, bread and fixin’s did not overwhelm each other, and which you could easily eat with your hands, without fork or knife or a week’s supply of napkins.”

An AP member exchange feature.

From Copa To Korea: Winter Games in Pyeongchang next up

Organizers of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, set up a virtual-reality ski simulator — complete with fake, blowing snow — on Copacabana Beach.

“Having sun and sand is normal here, but not snow,” said local Danieli Evangelista, stepping off the make-believe ski slope after waiting in line for 30 minutes for a taste of winter during the Summer Olympics held earlier this month in Rio. “Hardly anyone here ever sees snow. It’s very cool, a very real effect.”

It’s also about to get very real for the next hosts of the Olympic Games.

“We’re not ready to go today, but we’re getting ready,” Kim Jaeyoul, vice president of the Pyeongchang organizing committee, told The Associated Press.

South Korea’s games will be the first of three straight in Asia, joining the Tokyo Summer Games in 2020 and the Beijing Winter Games in 2022. These come after a run of difficult games in Sochi, Russia, and now Rio de Janeiro, with the International Olympic Committee looking for “a safe pair of hands,” as Japan labeled its winning bid three years ago.

Yet organizers in Pyeongchang have struggled with construction delays, local conflicts over venues and a slow pace in attracting domestic sponsorship. This contrasts with the smoother run-ups to the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 2002 World Cup that South Korea co-hosted with Japan.

“Unlike the 1988 Olympics and the 2002 World Cup, it was not the central government but a province that led the efforts to bring the Olympics,” said Heejoon Chung, who teaches sports science at South Korea’s Dong-A University. “There is a sentiment that the Winter Games are more about Pyeongchang than the nation as a whole.”

The Pyeongchang organizing committee named Lee Hee-beom its new president three months ago. It was the second leadership change in two years, and that’s worried the International Olympic Committee.

Lee bowed to IOC President Thomas Bach, and then to almost 100 IOC members, before addressing the full membership just days before the Rio Olympics opened.

“I’d like to assure you that our preparations are fully on track,” Lee told them.

In introducing him, Bach called Lee a “very dynamic and reliable leader,” and joked that he “promised he will be with us” until the games take place.

Organizers say that after a rocky start, 90 percent of the sponsorship target of $760 million will be met at the end of the year. Sponsorship will provide about one-third of the 2.2 trillion won, or $2 billion, operating budget. Kim said the budget would be adjusted in the next few weeks, compensating for inflation.

Six new competition venues are about 80 percent complete, and a new high-speed rail line will be finished in June of 2017 and in operation the following January. The line will link Incheon airport to Pyeongchang and reduce travel time to 90 minutes from almost twice that much.

Pyeongchang is also building a controversial sliding center for bobsled, luge and skeleton, after rejecting an IOC suggestion that it use a complex previously constructed for the games in Nagano, Japan, to save money. The cost is 124 billion won ($112 million) for a venue that could be a white elephant if not managed properly.

Gunilla Lindberg, the IOC member heading the planning for Pyeongchang, said the sliding center and the International Broadcast Center are “slightly delayed.”

Meantime, competition is heating up between South Korea and China over whose Olympic ski venue might ultimately become a destination for Asian tourists. Beijing planners have picked Zhangjiakou as the ski site for the 2022 games. Pyeongchang has some advantages, as it gets more natural snow than Zhangjiakou.

“A ski resort built for the Beijing Games is not going to be enough, considering the population of China,” Kim said. “We want to attract Chinese, but also Southeast Asians.”

Pyeongchang is in South Korea’s Gangwon Province, and the central and provincial governments have been battling over who should pay the Olympic bills as skepticism grows about the long-term economic benefits of mega-sporting events, said Chung, the sports science professor.

“Pyeongchang mostly got what it wanted,” Chung said, noting the province has pushed off costs to the central government. “It has no choice. It’s still the Olympics, and you don’t want to look bad hosting it.”

Foraging for food on holiday in England

“This,” said our guide James Feaver, “is our main course.” We were standing in front of a dung heap in a high meadow in the English countryside.

Pushing up out of the ooze was a low-growing weed. He bent down, plucked a sprig and held it up.

“Fat hen. Humans have eaten it for thousands of years. We’re going to need a lot of it.”

After a glance among us, my family and I set about picking with an approximation of gusto. When you are foraging for your food you can’t be too squeamish about little things like cow dung beneath your fingers.

I have long been fascinated with the idea of living off the land, finding sustenance among the wild plants that teem in hedges and fields. So a week’s holiday in Dorset, in southwest England — a county bursting with picture-book countryside — gave me the chance to see how abundant nature’s larder really is.

Foraging is increasingly popular in the U.K. and there are many teachers to choose from. On a recommendation, I contacted Hedgerow Harvest and booked a half-day course for me, my partner Fon and our 7-year-old son, Jimmy.

On a classic English summer’s day — meaning we experienced all weather conditions in one afternoon — we met up with James Feaver, who gave up office work for professional foraging eight years ago. He now runs courses in south and southwest England, but mostly in Dorset, his adopted home.

We met him in the village of Toller Porcorum, donned rubber boots and light waterproof jackets, and set off in search of wild provender.

We spent the next few hours walking through lanes hedged in with soaring banks, down tracks drenched in birdsong, beside clear streams and across uncut meadows in search of ingredients for a three-course meal.

If like me you can’t tell wild sorrel from a blade of grass, this quickly becomes daunting. But Feaver has gimlet eyes and an encyclopedic knowledge of the edible.

High in a hedgerow, a spray of tiny white flowers stood proud of the foliage. He hooked it with his hazel stick, pulled it down to picking height, and inhaled.

“The smell of summer,” he said.

For centuries, country-folk have used the fragrant elderflower to add a zesty flavor to food and drink. Now it would bring its zing to our dessert. We plucked head after head. I lifted up Jimmy so he could join the harvest.

In quick order we found red currants, wild mint and tiny, sweet, wild strawberries. The wicker basket James provided — a nice touch — began to fill.

So far so idyllic, but this arcadia comes with thorns.

Of the many rules of foraging the most important is this: Don’t eat anything unless you are 100 percent certain you know what it is. Some edible plants look uncannily like ones that are deadly. For example, cow parsley goes well in salads but is easily mistaken for something you wouldn’t want near your dinner plate: hemlock.

Other rules include don’t uproot anything (it’s illegal), only take sustainably and don’t pick from ground-hugging plants near footpaths “where dogs can wee on them.” That was Jimmy’s favorite rule.

Time was getting on. From Toller Porcorum we drove down steep, narrow lanes to a nearby beach. Here you can see the stunning coastline sweep in an arc from Portland in Dorset right into neighboring east Devon. A trove of fossils has earned it the name Jurassic Coast and UNESCO World Heritage status.

But we weren’t there for beauty or geology. We were there for sea beet leaves, a close relative of garden spinach that grows in low belts along the pebbly foreshore. More free food, right at our feet.

But don’t go thinking you can kiss goodbye to supermarkets just because your eyes have been opened. That’s not the idea of the course.

“Foraging isn’t really about survival,” Feaver had said at the start. “It’s about taking the best of the wild and adding it to conventional ingredients to make great-tasting food.”

Great tasting? We’d be the judges of that.

Back at our holiday cottage, Feaver supervised the preparation of the feast. For starters, sea beet soup. For main course, fat hen pesto bake, with more fat hen as a side dish, washed down with sparkling elderflower wine. To finish, elderflower and gooseberry fool, garnished with wild strawberries.

It was a revelation, especially the sea beet soup which was one of the most delicious soups I have ever had: rich, velvety and homey, like swallowing a big bowl of contentment.

It had been a long day. We’d started at 1:30 p.m. and the last spoon didn’t scrape its empty bowl till 9 p.m.

As he packed away his stick, basket and scissors, Feaver said that after doing the course, “people look at the countryside with different eyes.”

Yes, I thought. With eyes like dinner plates.

 

If You Go…

HEDGEROW HARVEST: http://www.hedgerow-harvest.com .

Our course with James Feaver cost 150 pounds (about $198) for two adults and a child. Price varies by number of people and itinerary.

ASSOCIATION OF FORAGERS: List by region, http://www.foragers-association.org.uk