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Q + A with Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos

Alex Kapranos

Ahead of Glasgow-based band Franz Ferdinand’s new album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, front man Alex Kapranos shows T+L there’s more to touring than partying like a rock star.

Q: What are some perks of traveling as a musician?
A: You pick up all sorts of musical influences. I love Colombian cumbia and Peruvian chicha. The melodies have great melancholy, but the rhythms are lively.

Q: Do you bring home souvenirs?
A: I try to collect unusual instruments. My favorite is an earthenware bowl used at weddings in Peru. It has a space between two layers that’s filled with fine stones. After you eat, you shake the bowl to make a percussive sound while everyone dances.

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Everything Is an Excuse For an Adventure: Q+A with "The Telling Room" Author Michael Paterniti

 

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"A story is time itself, boxed and compressed," writes Michael Paterniti in his new book, The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese (Random House). Paterniti's story is a doozy. Somehow, he manages to bring together Roman-era caves in a Spanish town that time forgot, a gentle giant cheesemaker-turned-truck driver bent on revenge, a magical cheese, and a dreamy grad student in Michigan who grows up to become an award-winning journalist who dedicated years of his life to understanding those caves, the giant, and, of course, that cheese.

Paterniti, a correspondent for GQ, has traveled to places like Cambodia to write about the Khmer Rouge and Japan to tell an amazing story about the 2011 tsunami, but at the heart of almost all his work—especially in The Telling Room—is a fascination with storytelling itself. At one point in The Telling Room, Paterniti describes himself as "someone given to tilting the most quotidian events into a Viking epic," an impulse readers will sense from the very first page the book. At times, The Telling Room reads like a fairy tale, as Paterniti moves his family to a town where farmers talk with animals, one resident might be able to fly, and where his hero, Ambrosio Molinos, once created a cheese that could bring back forgotten memories.

We sent a few questions to Paterniti, who lives year-round in Portland, Maine with his wife, writer Sara Corbett, and their three kids. Here's what he had to say.

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Hella Jongerius’s KLM Redesign

Hella Jongerius

Less plastic, more natural materials—is this the look of the future of air travel? Dutch furniture designer Hella Jongerius on her new designs for KLM, debuting this month.

Q: How do you reinvent a plane’s interior?
A: I started by asking how to create a feeling of privacy. We know a jet has a lot of plastic, and that’s not something we have at home. To reduce the synthetic feeling, we relied on high-quality wool, which has a lovely tactility, for the seats, curtains, and blankets. Even if you don’t realize it, there’s a human touch in the details that says, “you’re not just a number”—that someone is taking care of you.

Q: I heard you recycled old uniforms…
A: KLM had mountains of used flight attendant uniforms that had been cycled out because of fashion updates. We re-spun their yarns into the wool to make the bright blue stars in the carpet, which was designed to look like the Milky Way.

Q:Your designs are for businessclass. Will you be working on the economy cabin?
A: That’s my next challenge! It’s much harder because there just aren’t a lot of inches. But I’m looking forward to bringing some luxury to economy, too.

Photo courtesy of Jongeriuslab

Zambia: Q&A with Grant Cumings

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This month’s T+L includes my feature story on Zambia, which some (like me) are calling Africa’s next great safari destination. One key reason: the lodgings themselves. While big-name international safari companies have made inroads in Zambia, the field is still defined by intimately scaled (and decidedly un-corporate) bush and river camps, which hew to a more authentic, back-to-basics feel, while still offering a “luxury” level of service. Many of these properties are owned and/or operated by native Zambians, who bring a decidedly personal touch to the endeavor. Case in point: Andy Hogg, co-founder of the Bushcamp Company, whose six stylish camps in South Luangwa National Park are profiled in my story. Then there’s Grant Cumings, whose family runs two excellent properties, Chiawa and Old Mondoro, in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park.

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Q&A with Director Maria Sole Tognazzi

Maria Sole Tognazzi

Can a nitpicky hotel inspector ever find fulfillment? That’s the question of Viaggio Sola (I Travel Alone), the new film by Italian director Maria Sole Tognazzi. The film, which just picked up several nominations for Italy's Donatello Awards (the country's equivalent of the Oscars) will be showing at Lincoln Center as part of Open Road: New Italian Cinema, which runs from June 6-12.

Here, she offers T+L a sneak preview.

What’s the plot?
“A Leading Hotels of the World inspector (played by Margherita Buy) arrives incognito at glamorous resorts: the Puli Hotel & Spa ($$$), in Shanghai; Switzerland’s Gstaad Palace ($$$$); the Fonteverde Tuscan Resort & Spa ($$$), in Italy.”

What did you learn about that profession?
“They work like characters on CSI: hunting for dirt with white gloves, testing the temperature of room-service coffee, ensuring that the time is synced on TV and radio. Only at the end of the journey can they reveal their true identity.”

Do you have any travel essentials?
“My Rolex, set to the time in Rome. It’s been with me since I was fifteen.”

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"How Did They Get Here?" Q&A with Lonely Planet Founder Tony Wheeler

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Few people can claim they personally changed the way an entire generation sees the world. Tony Wheeler, who co-founded Lonely Planet with his wife Maureen in 1973 could easily take that sort of credit were he not such a modest and unassuming guy.

Last week, Wheeler stopped by T+L's offices to discuss Lonely Planet and other topics. For a man who sold millions of books worldwide and made a lot of money (The Richest, a site that tracks celebrities' net worths, estimates he and Maureen are worth $168 million), Wheeler, 66, comes off as an unpretentious guy with a backpack and comfortable walking shoes. If you saw him on the street, you'd never know he started an internationally-recognized publishing company based on the diaries he and his wife kept as they traveled from London to Asia in a van during the early 1970s. (The New Yorker's Tad Friend profiled Wheeler in 2005, which you can read here.)

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The New Hamptons Hot Table: Q+A with Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio

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When chef Tom Colicchio’s long-awaited Topping Rose House restaurant opened its doors last September, it became the most buzzed-about spot on the East End. Now, the 19th-century Bridgehampton mansion is experiencing a second wave, with 22 rooms and cottages set to debut this month. Fellow Top Chef judge Gail Simmons sat down with the restaurateur turned innkeeper to discuss the opening, the menu, and his newfound interest in the hotel world.

Simmons: Why did you decide to get into the hotel business?
Colicchio: When Topping Rose House’s owners, Bill Campbell and Simon Critchell, approached me about two years ago to do a restaurant, I thought it would be too difficult with such a small property to have someone running the restaurant and someone else taking care of the rooms. We felt that we understood what needed to happen from a hospitality standpoint. We just needed to hire someone who had the experience to take care of the day-to-day. The idea was that this business would ultimately provide a springboard to do other hotels.

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Finding America's Best Beers: Q&A with "The Audacity of Hops" Author Tom Acitelli

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The next time you find yourself enjoying a finely crafted beer, you might want to ask yourself what it took to bring that drink to your lips. Tom Acitelli, author of The Audacity of Hops: The History of America's Craft Beer Revolution (Chicago Review Press) did more than wonder about it: He went off across America in search of the stories behind the suds.

Acitelli, the founding editor of Curbed Boston, and a contributor to The New York Times and other publications, answered a few of our questions about where to find the best beers, how Europe is catching onto America's craft movement, and what it's like drinking brews infused with St. John's Wort or hot peppers.

Here are some of his insights:

Where is the heart of the American craft brewing scene?
Tom Acitelli: There are now more than 2,300 breweries in the United States, the most since the 1880s, so pinpointing a definite geographic heart might be a tad difficult. Spiritually, however, the American craft beer movement indisputably pivots on Northern California—specifically, the San Francisco Bay Area. The oldest craft brewery still in operation (Anchor Brewery, famous for its steam beer) is in an old coffee roastery in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood. The first startup craft brewery since Prohibition (New Albion Brewery, which went out of business in 1983) was also nearby, in Sonoma County wine country; and the nation's second- and third-oldest brewpubs, Mendocino Brewing and Buffalo Bill's, started just outside of San Francisco.

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Surfing as Art and Lifestyle: Q&A with Saturdays' Colin Tunstall

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Any store can put out a catalog or a little circular that focuses on its brand, but few would dare print a full-color, oversized glossy and sell it for $25. That's exactly what Saturdays, a New York City-based surf shop has done with it's massive Saturdays Magazine.

The second issue (out now) is a celebration of all that's great about print: It's heavy, its pages make noise as you turn them, and it falls open with a satisfying "thunk." The magazine, which was printed in Iceland (watch this video of it coming off the press), is so massive you might not be able to fit it in your carry-on bag. But if you do, inside you'll find striking multipage spreads of surfers at work and at play, interviews with artists like Larry Clark and Christo, and projects from photographer Bruce Weber and designer Hedi Slimane. What you won't find is a hard sell for surfboards.

We spoke with Saturdays co-owner and Saturdays editor-in-chief Colin Tunstall. Here's what he had to say:  

What's a little surf shop with two locations in New York and two in Japan (the newest in Kobe) doing putting out a 300+ page oversized doorstopper of a magazine?
Colin Tunstall: I've always wanted to produce magazine. Before starting Saturdays I worked in publishing for 10 years. The concept was simple, we just wanted to produce something cool. We decided to focus on Q&A's with people we thought were interesting. We cast a wide net and embraced the variety of backgrounds, ages and locations of everyone to define the common thread of our lifestyle.

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Cruise Booze: Q&A with Bruno Maddox

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What's it like to mix drinks on a cruise ship? In the May issue of Travel+Leisure, writer Bruno Maddox tells all in I Was a Cruise Ship Bartender.

Maddox has already practiced his brand of immersion journalism by working as a Las Vegas hotel concierge and renting a private island for T+L, but we wanted to know what it was like to be among the crew chasing down fluttering napkins and serving up Baileys Banana Vanilla Thrillas on a massive floating hotel.

Here are some of Maddox's insights:

What was your first thought when you got this assignment?
Bruno Maddox: Well, it was December, and the thought of a sunny cruise in the Caribbeandid obviously hold some appeal, but the job itself sounded pretty bad. I knew there'd be uniforms. There would also almost certainly be mandatory grooming, shaving, etc., which is always a nightmare, and then there was going be the pure living hell of having your photo taken, for hours, in a crowded public space... and if all that weren't bad enough I'd be making high-degree-of-difficulty cocktails for people primed to expect flawless service. But you know. This is what I do. It's like being a soldier. When your commanding officer tells you to go, you go.

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