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Radical Class: What Youth Reads Homage to Catalonia: a book seven decades young and still topical!

The Spaniards are good at many things, but not at making war. All foreigners are alike appalled by their inefficiency, above all their maddening unpunctuality. The one word that no foreigner can avoid learning is mañana.George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia

I bring books with me when I go on vacation for two reasons. One, I struggle to stay lucid on planes and sometimes music alone doesn’t cut it. Two, what’s better than learning something new and then dropping that knowledge on the deaf ears of friends and family later? Not much. And it’s not like I’m going to stare at the back of a seat and keep myself occupied with a pack of peanuts for ten-hours straight.

Anyway, six months ago I stormed into the Tom Bradley International newsstand like I always do: Reeling with post-TSA anxiety and in need of some fresh pages. I was on my way to Barcelona and wanted something on brand with the destination. After ransacking some shelves, I walked away with two new books. The first was called The Train in Spain and it was terrible. It wanted so bad to be The Sun Also Rises but instead came off as bunch of fond-numbing, name-droppy nonsense compiled by an author with questionable observational skills and a locomotive fetish. My patience didn’t even make it to cruising altitude. So, after rolling my eyes hard enough to strain a nerve, I put The Train in Spain down for good. Reaching back into my bag, I fished out my second buy: Homage To Catalonia by George Orwell.

Few writers can claim to be as handy with a pen as Orwell was. There’s a reason Hemingway modeled his style after the English-born author. Hunter S. Thompson, too. And remember 1984 is literary triumph even though more than a quarter of it is about dealing with paperwork. With Orwell’s name gracing a cover, you know you’re in for a treat.

But back to the book. At the start of Spanish Civil War, Orwell flew out to Barcelona to “join the militia to fight against fascism.” Orwell served as a private, corporal, and a lieutenant for the POUM (the Workers’ Part of Marxist Unification, an anti-Stalinist communist party) throughout the course of the novel. Most of it is set in wartime Barcelona, but it does venture to the battlefield on occasion.

Now, Orwell didn’t write the book to present an account of the war from a historical perspective. Homage to Catalonia is simply a written collection of his own thoughts, opinions, and experiences. It inspires praise not because it’s a historical analysis. No. Readers gush over Homage To Catalonia because Orwell is a very good writer, which makes Homage an incredibly pleasant read. Plus, it’s one of only a few insiders perspective on a (now) sadly glossed over war. I powered through it cover to index on the flight over, then read it again on the flight back. And I recently finished reading it for a third time. If it’s not obvious already: This is my favorite book.

The people who write that kind of stuff never fight; possibly they believe that to write it is a substitute for fighting. It is the same in all wars; the soldiers do the fighting, the journalists do the shouting, and no true patriot ever gets near a front-line trench, except on the briefest of propaganda-tours. —Homage to Catalonia

It’s nice and topical right now too with the whole Catalonian independence movement thing fully flaring up as well. Plus, violent ideological conflict between the left and the right is back in fashion. Politics: They may get nasty, but at least history has the decency to repeat itself.

Homage To Catalonia by George Orwell. Consider it a slightly outdated pamphlet of what the times could hold. So, check it out. It’s easy to carry around and you can impress coworkers with it. —James Royce

Get after it here.

 

 

What Youth Eats: The “Couchella” Menu Since we moved on from attending, here’s what we’re eating while we stream

I don’t have the time or the patience or the money to spend this weekend in the desert. (We actually officially moved on from Coachella last year). But I do have time and patience and the money to park it on my couch and watch it all weekend on my internet TV. And while my Coachella viewing…

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What Youth Eats: Turkish Kebabs Now that we’ve graduated from our tour through Europe, let’s cook what we ate the whole time at home

Now that we finished up our three city tour through Berlin, Cologne and Amsterdam, its time to shine a light on the one common thread that has kept us alive for these past few weeks of travel and will through pretty much any trip you take to Europe. The “donner kebab.” This is a Turkish style kebab,…

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WHAT YOUTH DRINKS: BUILD A BAR Home bars made easy. Let’s get the drinks flowing.

Don Draper would approve. Bar carts with gold rails, hand carved mixing gadgets, illuminated backlighting — home bars these days can be really amazing. Like, totally Instagram worthy. Also, really expensive. A fully-stocked home bar should be more a culmination of years of collecting bottles and drinking with friends, as opposed to something that’s set…

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WHAT YOUTH EATS: WHAT YOU’RE GIVEN Make no substitutions, please.

Is your stomach closed-minded? Are you the picky one? Try to eat or drink what you’re given. And like it. It was like traveling with a 4 year old who only likes mac and cheese. Here we are in the Dominican Republic, first night, ready to find waves in the morning, and our gracious host…

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Radical Class: Going to Amsterdam Eat, drink and wander through Europe (Pt. 3 of 3)

Stepping off the train at the Amsterdam Central for the first time is overwhelming. You emerge from this historic building doubling as a train station and step right in to a beautiful array of chaos. Tourists everywhere, business people rushing, stag parties commencing and Heineken tours being planned. Its hard to figure out which way…

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Radical Class: Wintering in Cologne Eat, drink and be blown away by the countries that like it cold. (Pt. 2 of 3)

You’ll remember we started this frozen journey through Europe in Berlin. Today, we’re taking a ride to Cologne. A quick hour flight from Berlin will take you to Cologne, in northwest Germany. A couple days in Cologne is a perfect amount of time to see the city. Like Berlin, Cologne is chalked full of history, but…

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What Youth Eats: Rum for Breakfast, Please Weekend French Toast with Mount Gay Rum Bananas Foster

As a rule, French toast on the weekend is a good call. If you can pile some layers of decadence on top, all the better. Berries, whipped cream, bananas. Here, bananas foster goes on top, making it slightly over-the-top, but that’s what weekend breakfast is for. Then there’s the rum. This is special because it…

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What Youth Drinks: All Day! In it for the long haul? We’re here to help.

There’s not a lot better than when the daytime festivities bleed right into some nighttime fun. Some sun, some drinks, some bros, some babes, some waves — it don’t get no better, except when all that rolls into dinner and drinks and beyond. But making that marathon till midnight doesn’t come easy. It takes stamina…

WHAT YOUTH DRINKS: THE BROWN DERBY Three ingredients to make a perfect blend of sweet and sour.

It’s a drink that throws back to LA’s golden age (though, as we showed you in issue 2, LA is pretty damn golden these days). The Brown Derby, a nice blend of bourbon, citrus, and something sweet, was named after the famous Brown Derby restaurant, and invented in the `30s at the see-and-be-seen Vendome Club….

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Radical Class: Wandering in Berlin Eat, drink and be blown away by the countries that like it cold (Pt. 1 of 3)

Travis told me to tell people about all of the cool shit we get to do (Editor’s Note: Yes, I did). Cool shit like going to visit Europe in the dead of winter. And trust me, visiting cities in Europe in winter is very underrated, because there are several countries that are very good at being…

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WY Drinks: Herbs in our cocktails Herbs plus booze to raise your cocktail game

When you think of herbs, you generally think of food. And when you think of cocktails, you generally think of booze. That is, the spirit: gin, vodka, tequila, and so on. But combining the two, we don’t see that a lot. I heard of herbs in drinks long ago, but wrote off the idea. (Except…

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The WY GUIDE: Cuba Now that the red tape is mostly gone, should you go? Well, we did, here’s what we found.

It’s hard to have a conversation about traveling without someone bringing up Cuba. It’s long been the Holy Grail of American travel because, well, we couldn’t go there. But before heading out on his global kite surfing mission with Richard Branson, President Obama restored diplomatic relations with the Cuban government for the first time in over 50 years. A very…

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