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Radical Class: Some Weekend Reading A book about Australia (it’s that time again!) from an author we can’t get enough of

“Australia is mostly empty and a long way away. Its population is small and its role in the world consequently peripheral. It doesn’t have coups, recklessly overfish, arm disagreeable despots, grow coca in provocative quantities, or throw its weight around in a brash and unseemly manner. It is stable and peaceful and good. It doesn’t need watching, and so we don’t. But I will tell you this: the loss is entirely ours.”–Bill Bryson, In A Sunburned Country

When I was eighteen, my English godmother invited me to a cricket match. It was her birthday and my family was visiting her in London. Being American, my family had neither seen a match before nor had we bothered ourselves with even learning the rules. My plan was to stumble in, hang the sense of it all, and keep myself occupied while pilfering gin and tonics from mum and pops.

At the match there were cricket players wearing pads, cricket fans wearing three-piece suits, and a general air of snootiness and discontent. I discovered later that the last part is just characteristic of England in general. Everyone had a blast — everyone, that is, but me. I hated every second of being of that match. Too long. Too slow. Dreadfully boring. And when I was finally allowed to leave, changing back into my regular teenager clothes to go off to the pub felt weird and elitist.

Thankfully I’m not the only person to have these sorts of thoughts. Bill Bryson agrees with me. Bill’s an American who made the move to the United Kingdom after graduating from university. He’s also a writer I’ve taken the liberty of mentioning now several times on this site. And I’m going to talk about him here again. Sorry, these are just the things that happen when you have a favorite author.

“It is not true that the English invented cricket as a way of making all other human endeavors look interesting and lively; that was merely an unintended side effect. …It is the only sport that incorporates meal breaks. It is the only sport that shares its name with an insect. It is the only sport in which spectators burn as many calories as the players more if they are moderately restless.” –In A Sunburned Country

Alright, so aside from being a writer, Bill’s also an extensive traveler and he’s a keen observer of cultural absurdities and an outspoken criticism of the game of cricket — which is probably why I love him so much. And his book, In A Sunburned Country, covers all these bases.

“I don’t wish to denigrate a sport that is enjoyed by millions, some of them awake and facing the right way, but it is an odd game,” Bryson writes. “It is the only sport in which spectators burn as many calories as player — more if they are moderately restless. It is the only competitive activity of any type, other than perhaps baking, in which you can dress in white from head to toe and be as clean at the end of the day as you were at the beginning.”

Now, In A Sunburned Country isn’t exclusively about bashing the United Kingdom’s stick-and-ball nonsense. That’s just a connection I’ll always make with it. In fact, it doesn’t even take place in the Queen’s Country. Rather, it’s set in England’s estranged cousin’s place: Australia.

“Australians are very unfair in this way. They spend half of any conversation insisting that the country’s dangers are vastly overrated and that there’s nothing to worry about, and the other half telling you how six months ago their Uncle Bob was driving to Mudgee when a tiger snake slid out from under the dashboard and bit him on the groin, but that it’s okay now because he’s off the life support machine and they’ve discovered he can communicate with eye blinks.”–In A Sunburned Country

Bryson’s spent a significant amount of his life bouncing around the globe, recording his travels, and he can’t say enough good things about what he’s coined the “Sunburned Country.” The people are likable. The cities are clean are nearly always built on water. It has a society that is prosperous, well ordered and isn’t reluctant to enjoy a cold beer — or five. He even believes Australians would fix cricket’s shortcomings if given the chance. “I’m quite certain that if the rest of the world vanished overnight and the development of cricket were left in Australian hands,” he writes. “Within a generation, the players would be wearing shorts and using bats to hit each other, and the thing is, it’d be a much better game for it.”

It’s a lighter read but it’s fucking brilliant. Bryson’s language is hilarious in a tongue-in-cheek, snarky, sort of way and his ability to communicate even the most complex situations with ease is second to none. In A Sunburned Coutnry by Bill Bryson. It’s an older book so you can still find even hardcovers for cheap. It’s 394 pages. You can handle it. Read it on your flight over to Brisbane for the Quiky Pro. Read it as you sit at home this weekend and think about how you wish you could go to the Quiky Pro. Read it if you hate everything about the Quiky Pro but just want to find out more about Australia. Either way, expand your mind.–James Royce

You can get your hands on it here.


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WHAT YOUTH EATS: TOOLS OF THE TRADE 10 Inexpensive and Essential Kitchen Tools to get you Cooking

Have we gotten ahead of ourselves? We’re here telling you how to sear scallops and make cioppino, but what if you don’t have a pot to cook in? How can you prep, sear, steam and eat without a couple of basic kitchen tools? While the internet is full of “must-buy” lists for the kitchen, most…

What youth Drinks: The Margarita How to order them this Cinco de Mayo and forever

Cinco de Mayo is around the corner (a week from today in fact!) and we need to get one thing straight:  Cinco de Mayo is NOT the celebration of Mexican Independence — as many have been led to believe. It is a celebration in remembrance of when the French were defeated in Puebla. And in Mexico, Puebla is…

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…

What Youth Eats

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

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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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