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UNESCO's Dubious Intangible Culture Awards

It's even better than reading The Onion. The UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage has just released its latest list of cultural practices worth preserving. While some of them are obvious choices (French gastronomy, flamenco), others are certain to leave you baffled—and perhaps even asking, "Do we really want to preserve some of these things?!" Once you read the list, you'll be left wondering why they forgot to add goldfish swallowing, 1K charity walks, and the Macarena.

Here are some doozies from the 2010 list, along with our 10-point Intangible Rating Scale (IRS) score and commentary:

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Larry Gagosian Opens New Paris Gallery and Project Space

Larry Gagosian New Paris Gallery

This year is turning out to be even busier than usual for Larry Gagosian. On the eve of the opening of the FIAC (the international fair for contemporary art in Paris), the contemporary art dealer unveiled a new gallery—his ninth—in the 8th arrondissement, a stone’s throw from the Elysee Palace.

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Rome's Colosseum Staging Areas Open to Public

gladiator camp

For the first time in modern history, the below-ground tunnels of Rome's Colosseum, where the gladiators tied up their sandals and prayed to their gods before entering the arena, have been opened to the public. The hallways and holding areas, and even the workings of the wooden elevator platforms that would hoist the wild animals, slaves, soldiers, and prisoners up to the floor of the arena for mortal combat, are on view following a $700,000 restoration.

Also restored and reopened for the first time since the 1970s is the third tier of the Colosseum from which Rome’s middle class watched the monumental pageants and battles.  The Guardian reports, “This level boasts heart-stopping views of Rome, from Palatine Hill to the distant Vittorio Emanuele monument. And, at about 115ft in the air, you're still more than 70ft below where the highest seats would have been.”

The guided tours, open to 25 visitors at a time, must be booked in advance. Call Pierreci, the cooperative that handles ticket sales and tours at the Colosseum, at +39 06 3996 7700, to book the €20 tickets.

Ann Shields in an online senior editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of the Rome Cavalieri Hilton's Gladiator Training Program, which has nothing to do with the Colosseum tour but was too good not to use.

French Protest Takashi Murakami Exhibit at Versailles

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Visitors to the Palace of Versailles, the former residence of Louis XIV, expect to see the world's most lavishly decorated home. So staging an exhibition of contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s bright and kitschy sculptures in the Sun King’s royal apartments makes sense, oui?

No, not so much.

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Virtual Fire to Rage in the Colosseum for Art

Reuters Life | Raging fire will appear to consume Rome's ancient Colosseum in a dramatic art spectacle over the next few nights aimed at igniting debate on the fragility of Europe's cultural heritage sites.

For artists Thyra Hilden and Pio Diaz, engulfing the vast Roman amphitheatre in virtual flames will be the culmination of a long-running project using video projections of wild fires to make landmark buildings appear to be burning.

"We wanted something to symbolize destruction and creation at once. We wanted to question whether something should exist or not and what the heritage means to us," said Diaz.

"What would happen if you destroyed a museum or building, is the culture gone? Do we need to build it again or do we have the same culture as we had before?" he asked, as images of flames were projected from the Colosseum's entrance arches, making it appear to burn from within.

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TV Trip: HBO’s "Boardwalk Empire"

The Jersey Shore has received a ton of press lately—be it MTV’s cringe-worthy guilty pleasure of the same name or Bravo’s Real Housewives of New Jersey (they taped their explosive reunion in Atlantic City). On September 19th, HBO is hoping to add some highbrow coverage to A.C.’s lowbrow past with the premier of the new series, Boardwalk Empire at 9 p.m.

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Behind the Scenes at T+L's Paris Photo Shoot

Styling and producing a fashion shoot in Paris takes hard work, resourcefulness, and a lot of praying that the rain will stop. Here are snippets of my 3 days spent shooting in Paris for T+L's September Style And Culture issue.

Last Chance: Sensational Summer Arts Festivals

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Let's face it, we've had a long, hot summer.  Still, you find yourself thinking "but where has the summer gone?"  To stretch out the remaining weeks and re-charge psychic batteries, head to a performance outdoors. There's still time and there's lots to see and hear—music, theater, dance—at festivals across the country.  Here are my top picks:

Tanglewood Music Festival (Massachusett)
Located in the Berkshires in Lenox, Massachusetts, Tanglewood (through Sept. 5), the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, offers a mini-jazz festival (Sept. 1-5), a performance by Crosby, Stills & Nash (Sept. 1), and conductor David Zinman leading the BSO in Gustav Holst's sweeping The Planets (Aug. 27), among a range of orchestral and chamber music concerts.

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Enjoy "The Ride": $1.3 Million Tour Bus Debuts in NYC

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For many of us, the words, “tour bus” call to mind certain iconic images: sticky, screaming children, headache-inducing camera flashes, a colorfully dressed man on a unnecessary megaphone and, yes, even a fanny pack or two. Banish those images from memory—that was your grandmother’s tour bus.

Meet "The Ride" (above): a revolutionary, $1.3 million take on the classic tour bus, which was on display in Time Square, Manhattan this morning as a prelude to its maiden voyage in September.  Suped up with 49 stadium seats, an IMAX theater-worth of audio equipment and 40 video screens, The Ride certainly has the wattage to separate itself from the competition.  But it’s what’s going on off the bus that’s really grabbed our attention.

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Seeking Tango Bliss in Italy

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The cobblestone highway through Naples was four cars wide with a cacophony of motorbikes weaving in and out and vendors hawking their wares. “This reminds me of a New York City tango floor,” Renee, my traveling companion and fellow tango dancer, commented. I had been a follower on the dance floor and was wholly unprepared for navigating this, but it seemed the only way to get us to the ferry for the tango festival in Capri.

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