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Saturday, March 28, 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. We hope you’re all staying healthy and doing well.

This week, we hang out on the video-chat app Houseparty, stock our bathrooms with Who Gives a Crap, sip tea (from a safe social distance, sadly) with our pal Waris Ahluwalia, get emotional to an aria playlist from Milanese opera singer Laura Baldassari, and learn about anosmia.

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On Ep. 35 of our Time Sensitive podcast, Andrew speaks with anthropologist, activist, and landscape designer Julia Watson.

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See
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App Your Party
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As cities across the United States continue to be locked down amidst the novel coronavirus, with all of us self-quarantined at home and getting more and more stir-crazy by the hour, the idea of a house party might be the last thing on our minds. But here at The Slowdown, we’re finding some much-needed enjoyment in a digital version of that kind of bash: Houseparty, a new video-chat app that our friend the fashion stylist Kate Young tipped us off to. Unlike Zoom or Google Hangouts, it’s designed for more serendipitous and casual mingling among friends, and friends of friends—kind of like the good ol’ days of going to events, outings, and actual parties, which suddenly feel further away than ever. The app, which has gone viral in these past few weeks of social distancing, allows you to see which of your friends are online, and jump in and out of their chat rooms, which can host up to eight people at a time (limited to a safe two degrees of separation). You can also “lock” a room at any time, if you want to keep it private, and screenshare or play in-app games as a group. Best of all, you can do it all without risking the health and safety of others (or having to get out of your pajamas).
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Touch
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Paper Play
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Courtesy Who Gives a Crap
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While you may find yourself tempted to hoard toilet paper, we hope that, instead of overcompensating, you’ve picked up just enough to get you through the coming weeks. Consider this fact to put the temporary panic-induced shortages into perspective: More people in the world own mobile phones than they do toilets, according to Who Gives a Crap, a cheekily named BCorp on a serious mission to improve the lives of the 2.3 billion people without access to a toilet and basic sanitation systems. Who Gives a Crap also tackles the footprint of the toilet paper industry itself, which often sources virgin wood pulp to make your precious two-ply, if you can believe it. By using recycled materials and donating 50 percent of its profits to supporting in-need communities around the world, Who Gives a Crap is offering the kind of corporate vision and altruism we could certainly use more of, now more than ever. It may very well prove to be a silver lining to this cloud we’re all under right now. 

(A note for those who wish to order Who Gives a Crap now: You’ll have to wait. As the company notes on its website, they’re “completely wiped out.”)
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SPONSORED BY
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Taste
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Tea Ceremony
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Courtesy House of Waris Botanicals
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The New York City–based designer, actor, and man-about-town Waris Ahluwalia tells us about his company, House of Waris—which specializes in tea and botanicals, with a café in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood and a team of herbalists—and why it’s becoming more and more important to slow down.

“I look at tea as the original wellness product. It’s the longest-standing, longest-running—it’s not a latte, it’s not a smoothie, it’s not a powder. It’s teas and herbs, which, in their natural form, have healed us for centuries and across borders. That’s all we’re saying: that we’ve always had the answers, and we’ve quickly forgotten them because we’ve been conditioned by society, big business, government, and institutions to always look for the short answer. We, as a culture, thrive on that idea of, ‘What’s the quickest way?’ and ‘How can I hack my way to this desired effect?’ My work has always been addressing that.

All of this is a study. All of this is an exploration of looking at herbs, looking at teas, looking at what they can do. Someone told me recently they had been having our Night of Nights every night, and it’s helped them tremendously. For better sleep, rest, and relaxation, the tea in itself is great. But what’s also quite amazing is to make that into a ritual: to allow yourself that time to take this, and to enjoy it. 

We’re about products that are the highest quality, organically sourced, whole botanical—whole flower, whole leaf, whole root ingredients. We’re also about beauty. Instead of going into your cupboard and opening a cardboard box, which will just be thrown out and create more waste, you open up a beautiful tin that has the bag in it, and it makes you smile because beauty is a part of well-being. Beauty is a part of this conversation; it’s not removed from it. Stendhal said, to paraphrase, ‘Beauty is the promise of happiness.’

Our work is built on the premise and the science of herbal studies and their positive effect over an extended period of time. When you take herbs, they have a beneficial effect on your whole body, on your overall well-being. Our bodies are not composed of single, individual, independent organs. As in the tradition of TCM [traditional Chinese medicine] or Ayurveda, everything is connected: You can’t just address one organ, you have to address the whole system. It’s also about slowing down. Pausing. Giving yourself that moment. 

Tea has also always brought people together. When someone says to you, ‘Let’s have a coffee,’ they mean, ‘Let’s talk for five minutes.’ And when someone says to you, ‘Let’s have a tea,’ they’re saying, ‘Let’s get together and spend a little time.’ Slowing down is about addressing what the U.N. has called the 21st-century epidemic: stress.

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Hear
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Day and Night at the Opera
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Courtesy Atelier Biagetti
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Laura Baldassari, an opera singer, actress, artist, and partner in the multidisciplinary studio Atelier Biagetti, shares a playlist of some of her favorite opera songs and the performers who are providing her solace at the moment. “I’ve been thinking of an emotional journey through opera arias of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, in which the voice is tinged with different shades, with light and darkness, with infinite tints and contrasts, with wonder and amazement in favor of a profound dive into ourselves,” she tells us from her home in Milan, where she’s been in quarantine for the past several weeks. “It is a music that touches the deepest edges of the human soul, dazes and stuns—it’s a music that still speaks to us, here and now.” 

Reflecting on our current moment, she adds, “I think that this is certainly a very important opportunity to imagine our future, to understand what we really need, to see what we are and where we’re going. We need to reinvent ourselves, to rethink our behavior, starting from how we’re treating this planet and our precious environment and resources, to the idea that we don’t have everything under our control—I think this is relevant and true. I think that we have to find the courage to become stronger. It’s a big chance for all of us to change together.”

"Tu del ciel ministro eletto,” Il Trionfo del Tempo a del Disinganno by George Frideric Handel (performed by Natalie Dessay) 
“Dormi o fulmine,” La Giuditta by Alessandro Scarlatti (performed by Filippo Mineccia) 
“Alto Giove,” Polifemo by Nicola Porpora (performed by Franco Fagioli) 
“Lamento della Ninfa,” Madrigals, Book 8 by Claudio Monteverdi (performed by Núria Rial, Jan Van Elsacker, Cyril Auvity, and Nicolas Achten)
“What Power Art Thou?” King Arthur, or The British Worthy by Henry Purcell (performed by Andreas Scholl)
“Vedrò con mio diletto,” Il Giustino by Antonio Vivaldi (performed by Jakub Józef Orliński)
“Agitata da due venti,” Griselda by Antonio Vivaldi (performed by Cecilia Bartoli)
“Cara sposa,” Rinaldo by George Frideric Handel (performed by David Daniels)
”Pur ti miro,” L’incoronazione di Poppea by Claudio Monteverdi (performed by Philippe Jaroussky and Núria Rial)
“Thy Hand, Belinda...When I am Laid in Earth,” Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell (performed by Jessye Norman)

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Smell
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At a Loss
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News reports suggest that self-quarantining efforts may need to continue for the next several months, all but canceling the now-cursed year that is 2020. A great deal of that vague and looming uncertainty lies in the fact that the novel coronavirus has both a quick transmission rate and a prolonged incubation period. The onset of symptoms, which may include shortness of breath, fever, and dry cough, may not begin to appear for up to two weeks after one is infected—which is just one reason why it’s important to stay home and practice social distancing, even if you feel just fine. Even still more puzzling to experts is that many of those infected may feel only mild symptoms, or none at all, increasing the risk and likelihood of passing the illness along to others. All these challenges are compounded by a severe shortage of medical supplies and tests to alleviate, treat, and isolate confirmed cases.

As people around the world stay home, awaiting conclusive signs of sickness and hoping for none at all, a “hidden” symptom has been found to stem from the infection: anosmia, a sudden loss of the sense of smell (often along with ageusia, the loss of taste). It has been noted in cases globally and is now considered a tell-tale sign of infection among both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. If, while cooking or anxiety-baking during your stay-at-home stint, you find yourself with a curious loss of smell, it could be a sign for you to calmly give your doctor a call.

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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
Copy Editor: Mimi Hannon

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