Wednesday, September 22News That Matters

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Tiny Love Stories: ‘My Body Told a Different Story’

Tiny Love Stories: ‘My Body Told a Different Story’

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‘The Daughter She Needed’The day my 80-year-old mother announced she was moving to my town for the rest of her life, I was so shaken, I couldn’t remember how to set the table. Three thousand miles separated us for a reason. She had betrayed and refused to support me at the worst moment of my life. Two decades later, she and her dementia arrived, challenging me to cross a chasm of ambivalence and distrust so I could become the daughter she needed. Her decline pushed every button I had, but before she died, my rusty, wounded heart cracked open. — Laura DavisDon’t Touch the ArtI was staring at a sculpture that looked like chaos dressed in hot pink when I felt the tickle of his beard against my cheek. The words “You’re a masterpiece” were a warm whisper against my ear. The docent told us not t...

London, Fashion and the Importance of Being … Something

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LONDON — At first glance, it looked like it was back to business at London Fashion Week. A vast industrial show space was heaving on Friday, packed with public relations types and security guards in headsets, glowing floor-to-ceiling screens blasting social content (the venue was sponsored by TikTok) and tightly packed rows of fashion glitterati.They were out in force to celebrate Nensi Dojaka, the Albanian-born, London-based creator of carefully engineered, barely there little black dresses, who earlier this month became the latest winner of the LVMH Prize.It was her debut solo runway show and the buzz was palpable, with a sense of cautious optimism emanating from the local and largely maskless crowd following 18 long and difficult months. After all, everyone loves the ascent of bright ne...

A Theater in a California Canyon Becomes an Oasis Once Again

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TOPANGA, Calif. — There were no famous names in the cast. It was the first staged professional production by a little-known playwright. And the theater was deep in the canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains, up a long windy road, midway between the beaches of the Pacific Ocean and the San Fernando Valley, a secluded bohemian outpost known for its artists, musicians and rattlesnakes.But for all that, there were plenty of people at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum on a recent Sunday night for a performance of “The Last, Best Small Town.” Wearing masks as required by the theater, 150 patrons sat on hard wooden benches in a cool summer night. A cast of eight actors exuberantly navigated the sprawling, asymmetrical stage, built around a California live oak tree and into the scrub of a hillside, ...
Food Scholar, Folk Singer, Blunt Speaker: The Many Lives of Leni Sorensen

Food Scholar, Folk Singer, Blunt Speaker: The Many Lives of Leni Sorensen

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CROZET, Va. — You pick up a lot of skills after 79 years of being Leni Sorensen, perhaps America’s most unsung food historian.She can spin wool, butcher hogs and can venison. If she had to, she could make money sewing clothes or selling tamales. She can sing, too. Her contralto voice landed her a spot as the only Black member of the Womenfolk, a quintet whose cover of the suburban satire “Little Boxes” spent three weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1964.Dr. Sorensen can also talk. And talk. I learned this after pulling off the blacktop into her five-acre homestead here in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville, Va. Over glasses of cold tea she made by poking hibiscus flowers and herbal tea bags into a bottle of supermarket seltzer, an afternoon visit stretched into the evening....

At 75, the Ojai Music Festival Stays Focused on the Future

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OJAI, Calif. — Returning is a process. Rarely is it linear.The Ojai Music Festival, for instance, returned, Sept. 16-19, to celebrate its 75th year after a long pandemic absence. But there were setbacks among the comebacks. Compromises were made to accommodate its move from spring to the final days of summer. An artist was held up in Spain by travel restrictions. Diligently enforced safety measures slightly harshed the vibe of this storied event, a rigorous yet relaxing haven for contemporary music tucked in an idyllic valley of straight-faced mysticism and sweet Pixie tangerines.This edition of the festival is the first under the leadership of Ara Guzelimian, back at the helm after a run in the 1990s. Each year, the person in his position organizes the programming with a new music directo...
First Came Friendship for an Activist and a Single Father of Five

First Came Friendship for an Activist and a Single Father of Five

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Before Michael Ruxsaksriskul figured out that Kassie Edwards didn’t want to date him because of his personality, he assumed his personal baggage was to blame. As a newly divorced father of five on the verge of bankruptcy, the former Marine knew he was carrying a lot. What he didn’t know was that Ms. Edwards was experienced in unpacking.Mr. Ruxsaksriskul and Ms. Edwards met in the spring of 2016 at an AIDS awareness event in Washington. Neither was interested in the other romantically, but for different reasons. For Mr. Ruxsaksriskul, restricting all new relationships to the friend zone was a practical necessity. “When you’re raising kids by yourself, you’re too busy to think of anyone that way,” he said.For Ms. Edwards, 35, the chemistry was just not there. “He was really boisterous and vo...
2021 Emmys: Best and Worst Moments

2021 Emmys: Best and Worst Moments

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The Emmy Awards were back to being mostly in person after last year’s virtual ceremony, with TV’s best and brightest amassing in a classed-up event tent with banquet-style seating reminiscent of the Golden Globes.It was a more informal approach to TV’s biggest night, one that was not appreciated by all attendees as the Delta variant rages on. (“There’s way too many of us in this little room,” said Seth Rogen, the night’s first presenter.) But the new format was apt for a night that perhaps heralded a new chapter of TV history, or at least the official recognition of the streaming-dominated era most of us already take for granted.For the first time, streaming services won all of the major series awards, with Netflix’s “The Crown” winning top drama and “The Queen’s Gambit,” also on Netflix, ...

OkCupid Introduces Feature in Support of Abortion Rights

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The dating service OkCupid has introduced a way for users to clearly indicate their support of abortion rights: a “pro-choice” badge that appears prominently in a dating profile.Melissa Hobley, OkCupid’s chief marketing officer, said the feature was created in response to the passage of Senate Bill 8, which has made abortion essentially illegal in Texas. (OkCupid’s parent company, Match Group, is headquartered in Dallas.)The badge, comparable to a virtual bumper sticker, will appear on profiles directly below biographical details — such as name, age and location — making it immediately visible to anyone who’s swiping. For every profile that adds the badge, OkCupid will donate $1 to Planned Parenthood.In recent years, OkCupid has offered users different badges to signal their stance on vari...
Shopping for Canopy Beds

Shopping for Canopy Beds

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Any bed can provide a place to sleep, but a canopy bed does something more.“You can create a room within a room,” said Sandra Nunnerley, an interior designer in New York. “It’s like a cocoon.”That’s why she installed a custom canopy bed in her New York apartment and frequently specifies them for clients’ homes, as well. “They’re heavenly to sleep under,” she said.There are various ways of getting a canopy effect. One is to buy a bed with a canopy structure; another is to do what Ms. Nunnerley did in her home: Mount a fabric canopy on the ceiling that suspends curtains at the corners of the bed.Either way, a canopy can provide an extra touch of comfort heading into fall.“We’ve done many of them over the years,” Ms. Nunnerley said. “And I’ve never met anybody who doesn’t like to sleep in one...
The River Cafe in London Gets Into the Podcast Business

The River Cafe in London Gets Into the Podcast Business

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LONDON — Michael Caine has been a regular at the River Cafe for decades, dining with his family, usually on a Wednesday or Thursday, and always at Table 4, the most coveted seat in this celebrated Italian restaurant in Hammersmith.So, when Ruth Rogers, the River Cafe’s American-born proprietor, set about creating a new podcast in which she interviews famous guests about what food means to them, she naturally turned early on to Mr. Caine. For Ms. Rogers, who is known to all as Ruthie, he was comfort food for a first-time podcaster.Mr. Caine spoke vividly about the memorable meals he’d had, his other favorite restaurants — Chasen’s in West Hollywood; Elaine’s in New York — and above all, about his childhood in Cockney London, where fish was always on the menu because his father, a porter in ...