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Saturday, April 4, 2020
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Suggestions for your senses,
every Saturday at 9 a.m.
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SPONSORED BY
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Good morning.

This week, we pore over David Marchese’s delightfully insightful “Talk” columns in The New York Times Magazine, put together aesthetically pleasing puzzles, pick out our favorite smart garden, debut our At a Distance podcast, and breathe in vetiver.

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On Ep. 36 of our Time Sensitive podcast, Spencer speaks with artist Ibrahim Mahama, founder of the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art in Tamale, Ghana.

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See
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Real Talk
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Photo: Andrew Zuckerman
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“The truth of the interaction is the thing that you're trying to get across,” journalist David Marchese, columnist of The New York Times Magazine’s Talk column, says of the craft of interviewing. Known for his deft, often revealing longform interviews with well-known cultural figures and celebrities of all kinds, from Whoopi Goldberg to Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Marchese maintains a running log of some 500 folks, in his own estimation, that he’d like to one day add to that list. It’s a humbling detail to learn from the guy who, in his previous work with New York magazine, famously captured an 85-year-old Quincy Jones calling Harvey Weinstein “a jive motherfucker,” elsewhere referring to Trump as “limited mentally—a megalomaniac, narcissistic” while also confirming, on the record, that he once dated Ivanka. Regardless of his subject, Marchese, who deserves plenty of praise, has an immense and studied cultural knowledge that comes across with a casual ease in each conversation, even as he pushes to ask difficult questions. His masterful portrayals of public personalities and brilliant minds in their most intimate, no-filter moments can make you feel like a fly on the wall—a quality that we especially appreciate in our current days of couch-bound social distancing.
 

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Touch
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Puzzling Situation
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Courtesy Areaware
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So you’ve made it through your Netflix queue while scrolling through your Instagram feed, wondering why you spent all that time watching Tiger King—it’s probably time to step away from the screen (any of them). May we suggest: an idle afternoon with a jigsaw puzzle, the latest trending adult pastime, especially now that self-quarantining means that a lot of us have a bit of extra time on our hands. Call it the next slime or coloring book craze. In reality, the social media fixation on this purely analog activity has been building for some time, embraced for its slow and methodical meditative nature that’s said to help relieve anxiety and build short-term memory skills. 

Luckily, this has led to a renaissance of aesthetically pleasing puzzles: The now-infamous gradient puzzle from Areaware is deceivingly harder than it seems, and the design brand also sells a series of smaller food-shaped puzzles, as well as a trio featuring graphic, eye-popping patterns by Dusen Dusen. Now’s also a great time for supporting museums—which are taking a big hit from the ongoing Covid-19 closures—by purchasing a few puzzles of your canonical art-history favorites, like the famous Unicorn in Captivity tapestry and Hokusai’s “Great Wave from the Metropolitan Museum of Art or works by Frank Stella and Keith Haring from the MoMA Store. The Clyfford Still Museum in Denver also carries this artful composition puzzle by Sam’s Garage, which includes hand-cut wooden pieces in varying colors that can be mixed and matched according to your own colorful, Abstract Expressionist arrangement. 

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SPONSORED BY
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Taste
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Kitchen Quintessential
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Courtesy Edn Inc.
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As people everywhere settle into new home-cooking routines, finding resourceful ways to make their pantry goods stretch a bit longer and keeping trips to the grocery store to a safe minimum—this new wave of domesticity (however involuntary) has also given way to what feels like an update on the 20th-century victory garden. Luckily for apartment dwellers without a backyard or access to much green space (more than half the world, basically), all you need is a corner of a countertop to grow some fresh herbs indoors. Better still, and for the botanically challenged, there are now plenty of advanced “smart” tools to get your green thumb going, such as those offered by Edn. The company makes wifi-controlled kits that come with a built-in LED grow light; simple seed pods for no-fuss, soilless planting; and a smartphone app that will even send you text notifications reminding you when to water. In partnership with One Tree Planted, Edn will also plant a tree for every Small Garden order placed—a welcome reminder, in these uncertain times, that your efforts to stay indoors can make a difference for the greater good, in more ways than one.
 

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Hear
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The Overview Effect
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Time has seemingly come to a standstill as countries around the world press pause on economic and cultural life in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic. In this precarious and alarming period, we’re taking a step back for a wider look at the planet with the launch of our new podcast series focused on the bigger picture. Hosted by The Slowdown’s co-founders, Spencer Bailey and Andrew Zuckerman, At a Distance calls upon leading minds for a whole-earth, long-view perspective, offering a respite from the fear- and anxiety-inducing, 24-hour news cycle that’s taken ahold of our minds and moods (all the more so the past few weeks). 

To kick off the series, Bill McKibben, environmentalist, author, and leader of the climate campaign group 350.org, spoke with us about the massive economic and societal changes facing all of humanity today. “The endless return to normal as a response is no longer effective,” he told us. Listen to the first episode here, and Ep. 2, featuring the post-traumatic stress expert Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, here. In the weeks ahead, you’ll be hearing from food urbanist Carolyn Steel, journalist and co-host of Slate’s Trumpcast Virginia Heffernan, economist Chris Canavan, philosopher Simon Critchley, and futurist Thomas Ermacora, among others. We hope it provides a sense of comfort—or, at least, context. 

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Smell
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Better With Vetiver
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Courtesy Love Adorned
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Ongoing self-quarantine and social distancing measures in the U.S. could very well last through this spring, and as the death toll continues to rise, Americans have been directed to stay put at least through April, which really is starting to feel like the cruellest month. The window of time from winter to summer can feel fleetingly short, especially from indoors, but one way to embrace the changing of seasons is to bring a little piece of the outdoors inside. 

Hang a sprig of dried fragrant botanical—our favorite right now is vetiver—during a steaming shower or bath for a relaxing, soothing aroma. The long, wispy strands of the tropical bunchgrass roots, which are native to India and smell just like an earthy, uncut lawn on a spring day, also make for a nice touch of wall décor. And for your rigorous hand-washing regimen—which, don’t forget, should last for 20 to 30 seconds every time—we love Byredo’s Vetyver hand wash, which makes the chore a bit more scintillating.
 

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Until next week...

Today’s email was written by Aileen Kwun.

Editor: Spencer Bailey
Creative Director: Andrew Zuckerman
Producer: Mike Lala
Copyeditor: Mimi Hannon

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