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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: AGUACHILE Another Raw One: Sinaloa Spicy Shrimp

If you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve gone raw at for the last few weeks. We’ve played with raw tuna a couple different ways (here and here), and got fancy and fresh with a raw beef tartare last week. It’s been fun, delicious, and the whole experiment has opened up our late…

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WHAT YOUTH EATS: RAW BEEF The latest in our Raw Series: Steak tartare is the primest of the prime.

For the last few weeks we’ve gone raw. We’re doing it all for the flavor — an exercise to experience great ingredients at their root essence, with a secondary win of less time cooking and more time having summertime fun outside (making raw things takes less time, duh). So far we’ve focused on fish and…

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WY EATS: Spicy Tuna Don Another hit from our RAW series — best washed down with ice cold Kirin

Its time to expand on our RAW capabilities here. And just like the Mediterranean version of the albacore crudo that you’ve already mastered, we are leaning on our Japanese influence of raw efficiencies for our next dish: The Spicy Tuna Don. “Don” is short for “donburi” which is a traditional Japanese dish where any number…

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WY Guide: The Bartender Getting a drink in a crowded bar is an art. Here’s your paint set.

As Shane Dorian famously said in Loose Change: “What’s your poison man?” That ageless, sometimes slightly altered greeting has been heard by bar patrons since the first bar opened circa 900 AD. And after 1100 years of human interaction at these establishments one would hope there would be some orderly and respectful manner one might…

WHAT YOUTH EATS: RAW The first in a Series: Albacore Crudo

For the next couple of weeks, I’m going raw. This isn’t some nonsense trendy food fad out of Beverly Hills: this is all about efficiency and simplicity. Efficiency because eating raw means less time in the kitchen and more time outside shredding through summer. Simplicity because I won’t have to develop complex sauces and spend…

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The WY Dead Writers T-Shirt Before it’s gone here’s why it exists

We still read…actual books even. And while a lot of our favorite writers are long gone, their influence is still smothering us. They’ve left us with piles and piles of great reading, insight, fucked up situations, and maniacal living to read about. This shirt is an ode to them. Here’s a run through who they…

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What Youth Drinks: The Paloma Cuz it’s just so damn hot outside

It’s officially summer now. And since we’ve already taught you how to order a margarita the right way here, now it’s time to learn how to make the G of all tequila cocktails best drank in the sun: The Paloma. If the margarita is the popular girl in high school that everyone knows, then the Paloma…

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What Youth Eats: Huevos Rancheros Your weekend mornings are now better

Huevos Rancheros hold a special place down deep in my gut. Growing up, when dad wasn’t at work on weekend mornings, we’d wake up early to surf the Cliffs, then he’d take me to Georges Mexican Food right by our house in Huntington Beach for breakfast. Every time the order was the same: two orders…

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WHAT YOUTH EATS: WITHOUT RECIPES Try this, then go rip into it

Learning to cook and make cocktails is a funny process. We read cookbooks, we watch TV shows, maybe we try a recipe or two from For the most part, we get set up with a list of instructions, and we’re expected to follow it closely or else it will be ruined. That’s a process that’s…

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WHAT YOUTH EATS: OUR VEGGIES Skip the Meat with Grilled Mushroom Risotto

You’re eating your veggies, right? For those of you who just need meat with your meals, may I offer mushrooms instead. Here, the mushrooms are grilled to give a deeper, nuttier flavor, and combined with creamy rich risotto. Once you get the hang of risotto, it can be a quick dinner. Until you get the hang of…

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Radical Class: On Memorial Day Celebrating and Remembering in Equal Parts

These days, Memorial Day is all about burgers and beers, beach days and maybe some deeply discounted retail shopping. But, of course, it isn’t. It’s about war and the people who fought in them — namely the Civil War, where 620,000 Americans died. Where today’s Memorial Day is little more than an excuse to party…

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I haven’t been lucky enough to be on a fancy boat trip with a private chef, but I have been on plenty of surf trips where we’re in the middle of nowhere without so much as a taco stand in sight. So what to eat? Usually it’s an early question on that road between the…

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