When I was a high school student in DC and would visit New York City, I loved the place. But I was always on edge—everyone seemed in such a hurry, and everyone but me seemed to know their way around. I was hyper and exhausted at the same time by day’s end.
Now I know why.
A new book by a cognitive neuroscientist named Colin Ellard titled Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life reveals studies of how details as small as a pocket park in a big city or the curvature of an office building can affect us when we’re out and about.
Ellard studied the physiological and emotional reactions of subjects walking through cities as different as Toronto and Mumbai. He measured how immediate surroundings—a busy intersection, a building with a blank wall as a façade—affect us. It turns out curves calm us—note that next time you’re walking through a Vegas casino. City streets, buildings, parks, and other touchstones affect our mental health.
This book about how the places we inhabit and visit helps determine our happiness makes for a great read. Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life by Coin Ellard.
Once, you could go to a third—party website such as Orbitz and compare airfares on different airlines to the same destination side by side. But since the introduction of fees, you don’t know the final price unless you start clicking on each airline’s website.
And those fees can make a big difference in the final cost of your flight. Change your flight after buying an advance-purchase ticket on American Airlines, for example, and it’ll cost you $200. It’s half that on Virgin America, only $75 on JetBlue. And zero on Southwest, the only major airline that will change your ticket without making you pay a penalty.
Of course, Southwest doesn’t charge a fee for your first two checked bags, either, while the competition charges between $20 and $30. Who charges $30? That low-cost, crowd-em’-in-the-plane airline called Spirit. While Spirit’s airfare are impressively low, the add-ons can really get you if you don’t plan carefully.
I flew Spirit the other day and was careful to print out my boarding pass at home, avoiding a $10 fee if an airport ticket agent has to print it out. A host of other fees make it imperative you read the fine print when comparing the fares of on airline compared to another.
Here’s the deal: from Nov. 20th to the 22nd and again from Jan 15th to the 17th, check into the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, a Waldorf Astoria resort, and you can get behind the wheel of a Ferrari 458 Italia, a McLaren MP4-12C (pictured), or a Porsche GT3. Or maybe even a Lamborghini Gallardo.
You’ll be able to take the car onto desert and mountain roads while being guided by Belgian racing champ Didier Theys. The cost is $999 per couple, and a double room starts at $269 a night.
Not bad considering the cost of that Ferrari, according to Car & Driver, is about $240,000. Same for the McLaren. And you’ll be slumming it in the Porsche that goes for only $140K or so.
But here’s even better news: Each participant will be able to try their hand driving at least three of the aforementioned cars.
Gentlemen, start your engines! And women, too, for that matter. For details, give the Arizona Biltmore a call and talk fast cars.
I think it’s fascinating that places that appear in movies or best-selling books attract hordes of visitors. Forks, Washington, had to open a visitor’s center after the Twilight novels became huge sellers. Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code still causes flocks of tourists to visit Florence.
But a music video?
A couple of weeks ago, the group One Direction came out with a video to accompany the release of their song, “Perfect.” The video was shot in the InterContinental New York Times Square in Manhattan. Almost the entire video is shot in a penthouse suite, with some scenes on the hotel’s roof, kitchen, and ballroom.
There’s only a two-second shot of the hotel’s name about three minutes into the video, but in the first five days after the video was released—that was 20th of October—the video already had nearly 16 million views on YouTube. And that’s enough that the hotel immediately sold out its $5,000-a-night penthouse in which Harry Styles lies on the bed for the following week.
Maybe the hotel should take a page from the Colorado hotel, The Stanley, that was the inspiration for the lonely hotel in the Jack Nicholson movie “The Shining.” The Stanley is opening a horror museum. The InterContinental’s penthouse at least deserves a commemorative plaque.
Words such as kaiseki and izakaya, udon and soba, and sashimi and nigiri were largely unknown to Americans 40 years ago. I didn’t eat sushi until I was in my 30s, but today you can find sushi restaurants most everywhere. If you like Japanese food or are headed to Japan, here’s the book you need.
Japanese cuisine is one of the most precise in the world, what a Japanese chef I know calls “the cuisine of subtraction,” a menu that reflects the Japanese approach to other arts such as flower arrangement and paintings: get rid of the superfluous and bore down to the most simple, pure ingredients.
Matt Goulding’s new book, Rice, Noodle, Fish, is an entertaining and wonderfully illustrated tour through seven regions in Japan that each boast their own kind of cuisine. You’ll learn how to eat sushi—stop mixing the wasabi in the soy sauce–and feel free to use your hands to eat nigiri, the most common kind of sushi made with a base of warm, vinegared rice.
Goulding is coauthor of the bestselling series of books titled Eat This, Not That. Get details on Rice, Noodle, Fish and access a lot more travel info and videos here.