Connect with us

Culture

Anarcho-capitalism in Acapulco: The libertarian orgy that ended in crime | Culture

Voice Of EU

Published

on

By now, the recipe for a streaming docuseries is quite clear: a cast of characters, some eccentric, some demented (at least one or two should instinctively arouse the audience’s sympathy); a peculiar location; a common belief or mission; and some kind of criminal element, be it a murder or a massive swindle. Hopefully, the resulting content will hold the interest of the audience for six episodes of just under an hour each. The Anarchists, on HBO Max, does not stray far from the formula, but the story is surprising enough to feel new. Think of it as something of a Fyre Festival with Ayn Rand readers and people who knew what cryptocurrencies were back in 2015.

That was the year when Todd Schramke, a documentary filmmaker who worked as an event videographer and a Lyft driver, began to notice on Facebook that many of the people he knew in ancap circles (the anarcho-capitalists are people who believe in dismantling the state so that capitalism can grow uninhibited), whom he had met in his teens at punk rock concerts, were going to Acapulco, a Mexican coastal city that nowadays is more famous for its high crime rate – a consequence of the cartel wars – than for the Elvis movies that were shot there back in the 1960s. Many went there to attend an unusual event: a congress of libertarian anarchists called Anarchapulco led by an arrogant Canadian millionaire named Jeff Berwick. A lot of them were even staying there to live. Schramke could sense a story.

More than Berwick or the ideology itself, what caught Schramke’s attention was the assortment of personalities that were there and their raw passion, he explains via email. Both he and his life partner, producer/composer Kym Kylland, appear on camera throughout the series; but unlike other documentaries of this style, you will not see them react in disbelief to some of the things the anarcho-capitalists do and say (like burning books in a bonfire surrounded by children yelling “Fuck the state!” as seen in the opening scene). They maintain their position as neutral observers and keep the narration as a last resort, preferring to use the voices of the protagonists.

HBO

And what protagonists they are. Anarchapulco has its fair share of colorful characters. In addition to Berwick himself, who gives interviews from a glass-walled mansion, there are the Freemans, Nathan and Lisa, a software designer (at a company with the suspicious name of Red Pills Now) and a teacher with two unschooled young children (unschooling is not the same as homeschooling; the Freemans say they would rather take their children to a porn movie set than to a public school). Around 2015, they decided to quit their jobs and their suburban home in Atlanta, sell everything, and leave for Acapulco to join the anarcho-capitalist community.

It did not take long for the couple to take over the Anarchapulco organization. They moved the event from a rather shabby room to a hotel with a pool, and turned it into a mix of TED Talks (except the talks were about topics like Bitcoin or the need to stop paying taxes) and the Girls Gone Wild shows that used to air on MTV in the early 2000s with thousands of drunken white college kids dancing on their spring break at the beaches of Cancun.

Lily Forester, another leading figure in the documentary.
Lily Forester, another leading figure in the documentary.HBO

Early in the series it becomes clear who the natural enemies of the Freemans are going to be. Another white couple, John Galton and Lily Forester, have a very different understanding of anarcho-capitalism. They also arrived in Acapulco from the United States, but not by crossing the border on a car loaded with beachwear and surfboards like the Freemans: instead they snuck in through Tijuana at night to avoid the border controls, because at that time, in 2017, the police were already looking for them; they were facing 25 years in prison in the US for illicit drug possession.

What follows is, in a way, a spoiler, in case someone watches the series without having first googled the libertarian community of Acapulco. Two years after arriving in the city and settling on the hill – the two owners of a local cafe, among the few Mexicans who appear in the documentary, tried to warn them not to settle in that area, as it was considered dangerous – and when Galton and Forester had already split from Anarchapulco to set up their own anarchist congress (one with less consumerist tendencies) Galton was shot to death in his house. The case acquired certain notoriety in the American media because it brought that entire community of book-burning expats to light. It is believed that it was some local narcos who murdered Galton as a warning not to intervene in the city’s businesses, as he grew marijuana in his house. His girlfriend, who provides some of the most magnetic testimonies of the series, with her Shelley Duvall-esque appearance and her Daria-like voice, blamed the murder on Paul Preport, one of the shadiest characters in the gang, an ex-military man and unofficial dealer for the conference attendees. Whether he had something to do with the case or not, nobody will never know for sure, because Propert committed suicide in 2019.

A scene from HBO Max's 'The Anarchists.'
A scene from HBO Max’s ‘The Anarchists.’HBO

Even though Donald Trump’s name is not mentioned much, Trumpism is the clear context of this entire saga. Many of the ancaps who paid more than $500 to attend the congress at the hotel (plus another $500 for access to the “investor conference” – or about $250 for a pack of experiences with illegal substances) ended up joining the ranks of that movement. As a matter of fact, Anarchapulco had guests like Judge Andrew Napolitano, a regular on the Fox network. And both the anti-vaccine movement and QAnon, the conspiracy theory that stained the last elections and led to the taking of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, trace their roots back to that mixture of paranoid-libertarian beliefs about the ills of the state that would have made 19th-century anarchist Mikhail Bakunin shudder.

Schramke and Kylland were there with their cameras for years, trying not to interfere, looking for an alchemy between “empathy and skepticism” – according to the director – and doing their best to be curious and open-minded towards all the participants. Their ultimate goal was to draw a study of that community and observe its evolution as events unfolded. That made them see them at their most vulnerable, which at times took a toll on Schramke, he relates. He says that he trusts the audience to discern all the ideas that are presented and that, deep down, the anarcho-capitalists of Acapulco were a peaceful group opposed to voting and taxes.

Nathan Freeman, the software designer who went to Acapulco with his family and took over the event, died last year of colon cancer. His widow, Lisa, is still in the country with her three children (the third one, Ira Belle, was born in Mexico) and works as a nutritionist and personal trainer. Berwick no longer lives in Acapulco; he is currently living in Mexico City and has abandoned his party lifestyle for a life with no alcohol, no sugar, and no caffeine. He has a podcast called Anarchast and several paid content platforms where he continues to promote cryptocurrencies and rail against his two enemies: the state and central banks.

Source link

Culture

Egypt: Excavating the archives of the man who uncovered Tutankhamun’s tomb | Culture

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Howard Carter and an Egyptian worker remove a fragment of the deathbed from Tutankhamun’s tomb in February, 1923.
Howard Carter and an Egyptian worker remove a fragment of the deathbed from Tutankhamun’s tomb in February, 1923.Griffith Institute

It is rare to travel north in search of Tutankhamun. The young Pharaoh’s tomb is actually to the south, in Luxor, Egypt, as is his mummy, while the vast majority of artefacts buried with him – the famous “wonderful things” that include treasures such as the gold mask – have traditionally had their home at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. But there is another treasure linked to Tutankhamun, less glittering but also fascinating, in the shape of the archives of the late Howard Carter, the archaeologist who discovered the tomb.

The documents compiled by Carter include maps and plans, detailed records of the thousands of artefacts – 5,300 to be exact, photographs, drawings, slides and both personal and excavation diaries, as well as other materials, such as private letters, telegrams and press clippings, all of which give the discovery context and are an exceptional source of information.

Donated to the center for Egyptology at Oxford University’s Griffith Institute by Carter’s favorite niece and heir, Phyllis Walker who died in 1977, the collection is now the subject of a timely exhibition at Oxford’s Bodleian Library, with additional material from other sources such as the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Open until February 5, 2023, Tutankhamun: Excavating the Archive, invites visitors to “see beyond” the golden treasures of the young Pharaoh and explore the complexity of the discovery as it unfolded. A celebratory centenary exhibition, it recalls the moment on November 26, 1922, when Carter and his sponsor Lord Carnarvon looked into the tomb for the first time, breaking a seal that had held for over 3,000 years and beginning the excavation of the only untouched ancient Egyptian royal burial site to be found in the Valley of the Kings.

The exhibition features Carter’s first written mention of the find in one of the Lett’s Indian and Colonial Rough Diary pocket notebooks he used to record his activities during the eight months he spent each year in Egypt: “First steps of tomb found,” he scrawled in pencil, conveying irrepressible enthusiasm. The entry takes up the entire page for Saturday, November 4, 1922. It was the fourth day into the last sponsored excavation, as Lord Carnarvon had finally decided to stop paying for the concessionary rights to the Valley of the Kings.

The exhibition goes into the details of the sensational find and how it developed for better and worse, with recognition of the fact that Carter and Carnarvon lied in order to smuggle several small objects out of Egypt. It also explains how the discovery coincided with the proclamation of Egypt’s independence from Britain and the change in the country’s policy regarding its antiquities; and it mentions the infamous “curse” associated with the tomb. Significantly, it acknowledges the shortcomings of European colonial archaeology during that era and hails the essential role of the overlooked Egyptian professionals and laborers in the investigation.

The Egyptians, including many child laborers, appear in numerous photos of the excavation without being identified, reducing them to little more than exotic extras. They were rarely mentioned, and their role was underestimated in official reports. Now, archival research “is making it possible to restore the Egyptians’ role in the excavations,” and to “address the error.”

Donkeys instead of cabs

The exhibition also flags up the neglected role of the women who participated in the venture, such as Minnie, the wife of photographer Harry Burton, author of the famous photos of the excavation, who helped her husband and kept a personal diary that is a valuable source of information. In one passage, she recalls the excitement of visiting the tomb while it was being emptied and how Carter sent a donkey to fetch her home like someone might send a cab.

Carter’s drawing of fragments of carts from Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Carter’s drawing of fragments of carts from Tutankhamun’s tomb. Griffith Institute

Coming to Oxford with the sole purpose of seeking out Tutankhamun lends the city an incongruous air of Egypt, even if arriving by bus rather than donkey. The kites spotted en route over the English countryside bring to mind the birds that fly over the pristine skies of Luxor, which are represented in pharaonic temples and tombs as divine creatures. These same birds are also present in Carter’s paintings, such as the 1895 watercolor of a falcon in the chapel of Anubis in the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari. Carter was an excellent draughtsman who came to archaeology precisely because of his artistic ability.

Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus.
Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus.AMR NABIL (AFP)

The Bodleian exhibition occupies the treasury room of the library and is small, like Tutankhamun’s tomb, but equally full of documentary wealth, though it requires immersion and the determination of an archaeologist to extract the information from the 20-odd showcases fittingly shrouded in gloom and mystery.

In a preamble, data is given on the reign of the young Pharaoh. For example, it is emphasized that his death was unexpected, and his burial consequently improvised, which explains many of its unusual characteristics. It is also mentions that the tomb remained substantially intact despite being visited by thieves shortly after first being sealed – they did not gain access to the mummy and the tomb was again rearranged and resealed so that what Carter encountered was virtually untouched. While it is written on a vaulting that the body of Tutankhamun is still in the sarcophagus, it was, in fact, removed from the stone coffin years ago and is exhibited in the same enclosure, but in a modern heated urn installed in the antechamber.

Obsession with the tomb

The tour begins with the climax of the discovery noted in Carter’s diary, before delving into the background of the discoverer himself, who was a complex personality who never married and had no children. A photo shows him at the age of 19, the same age as Tutankhamun when he died. An 1892 letter from the great Egyptologist Flinders Petrie, who took him to Egypt, offers this insight: “His interest is in painting and natural history (…) He is of no use to me as an excavator.”

There is then a space dedicated to “the long search” – a period that began after a proclamation in 1913 by excavation sponsor Theodore Davis that the Valley is exhausted; enter Carnarvon, who hired Carter, as he was obsessed with the idea that there was still a tomb to be found. It is thrilling to actually see a map drawn by Carter’s own hand with the excavations between 1917 and 1922, when the tomb was not yet located, lying concealed beneath the remains of the ancient workers’ huts from the neighboring tomb of Ramses VI. And then, the great moment of the discovery and the first actual foray into the tomb, around four o’clock in the afternoon on November 26, by Carter, Carnarvon, his daughter and several others.

A page from Carter’s excavation diary contains the account of that Great Moment in his own handwriting. The hole in the door, the candle inserted, and Carnarvon asking: “Can you see anything?” The answer, Carter noted, was not the famous “yes, wonderful things” which he later claimed in subsequent records, but the less dramatic “yes, it’s wonderful.”

It was the beginning of an amazing scientific adventure that would last until December 1932, the 10 years it took to empty the tomb. Carnarvon died on April 5, 1923, without seeing the opening of the sarcophagus and the mummy of Tutankhamun, which was not examined until November 11, 1925. A letter from Carter to Egyptologist Alan Gardiner describes some of the emblematic artefacts observed in the antechamber: carts, beds with strange animal shapes, two life-size figures of guardians… “So far, it is Tutankhamun,” he writes.

Three Egyptian workers dismantle the wall between the antechamber and the burial chamber in Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Three Egyptian workers dismantle the wall between the antechamber and the burial chamber in Tutankhamun’s tomb. HARRY BURTON

Burton’s photos displayed in the exhibition are “the most famous archaeological images ever taken,” and these, together with the drawings of the different rooms of the tomb and the artefacts as they were discovered transport us to the key moments of the discovery. The exhibition also explains the conservation challenges faced by the archaeologists and the solutions they came up with to preserve the objects. Then there is documentation of the complex system of rails used to transport the tomb’s contents in wagons to the river to be shipped to the museum.

Particularly moving is a large portrait of an anonymous Egyptian boy photographed in 1927 by Burton wearing one of Tutankhamun’s necklaces, demonstrating how it would have been worn. Years later, Hussein Abd el Rasul, a member of the local Qurna family, identified himself as the sitter. The exhibition points out that “many stories have been told about the image and who the boy was and his role in the excavation.”

A group of Egyptian schoolchildren stopped in front of the photo the other day listening very attentively to the explanations of their teachers. Despite the lack of recognition for the Egyptians who worked on the tomb’s excavation, some names have nevertheless been salvaged thanks to the gratitude Carter expressed in his writings, such as the name of the foreman, Ahmed Gerigar and his colleagues Gad Hassan, Hussein Abu Awad and Hussein Ahmed Said.

Drawing by Carter of the artefacts located in the antechamber of Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Drawing by Carter of the artefacts located in the antechamber of Tutankhamun’s tomb.Griffith Institute

Besides criticizing the patronizing attitude toward the Egyptians involved in the excavation, the exhibition flags up the pursuit of profit, especially Lord Carnarvon’s. It suggests that the origin of the famous curse on those tampering with the tomb mentioned in a delightful yellowed telegram in 1923 to “Carter Tutankhamun Thebes” from Dublin warning that if trouble continues he must reseal the tomb, was partly revenge by certain media angered by the aristocratic Carnarvon’s exclusive contract with The Times.

Curses and criticism aside, public excitement at the find was such during the 1920s that it inspired a boardgame and a rash of songs. Meanwhile, the archive, which continues to be enriched and has been digitized for open access (www.griffith.ox.ac.uk), is invaluable to the study of the tomb’s material, a work that Carter left unfinished.

For those whose appetite for “wonderful things” is not yet sated, the Ashmolean Museum close by houses an extraordinary collection of Egyptian antiquities, such as the large statues of the god of fertility Min who appears excited at the sight of a sensual bust of Antinous, Hadrian’s lover who drowned in the Nile; an impressive stone head of a crocodile; the precious coffins and the mummy of the Theban priest Djed-djehuty-iuef-ankh and the Amarna pieces, which are closely linked to Tutankhamun as they represent his family, Akhenaten, Nefertiti and the princesses, as well as to people and places he saw during his lifetime. The ostraca collection compiled by Gardiner, who collaborated with Carter, is also on display there.

Source link

Continue Reading

Culture

Hollywood: They have it all, and take it on the road, too: These are the luxury RVs of the stars | Culture

Voice Of EU

Published

on

RVs have long been considered a fairly modest means of travel, an option that combines transportation and accommodation and that allows you to enjoy a more affordable vacation – bearing in mind that the comforts that they offer have little or nothing to do with those of a five-star hotel. However, this image has evolved in recent years, and the alternative of touring the world with your house in tow is gaining more and more followers, including some movie and music stars. Some use them for tourism and others to move between cities while they promote something or as a dressing room during shootings or tours, but they all have a few things in common: their enormous dimensions, their luxurious amenities and their million-dollar price tags.

At the beginning of July, all the details of Dolly Parton’s mansion on wheels were released. More than an RV, this one is a bus. Dubbed Suite 1986, it is 45 feet long and Dolly has traveled more than 300,000 miles and visited more than 60 American cities in it. It houses all kinds of luxuries and personal belongings of the country music star — a display case for her wigs, a wide bed with pink velvet sheets, or a Parisian-inspired dressing table, among other things — and it is available to rent from $10,000, with a two night minimum stay. The Dollybus is part of the hotel complexes offered under the Dollywood label, the universe created in her image and likeness, which also includes a theme park inspired by Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, numerous hotels and spas and a water park.

Another celebrity who likes to have a traveling home is Jennifer Lopez. The Bronx Diva owns a 1,200-square-feet trailer that is valued at $2 million and, like Parton’s, is also available to rent, for between $400 and $850 a night, when the singer is not using it. Its name is Baby Girl and, judging by the pictures, it has it all: in two spacious floors you can find amenities like a huge leather sofa, furniture made from materials like granite or marble, and all kinds of image and audio technologies, including everything from large TVs to state-of-the-art audio setups. An exclusive design by Anderson Mobile Estates, an American company specializing in this type of high-end vehicle, completely customizable to the customer’s taste.

The same company built Will Smith’s RV, known as The Heat, which the actor purchased in 2000 to use while filming. It is 55 feet long, has two floors and it is valued at 2.5 million dollars. It includes a projection room with a 100-inch screen and

capacity for thirty people, an ample lounge, a bathroom with sauna, first-rate materials like granite and leather, and technological devices everywhere.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s RV does not fall far behind: it is 52 feet long, with four modules that can be extended to further expand the space. Of course, it includes all the necessary amenities, with eccentric details like two fireplaces and a large recycled glass shower valued at more than $40,000.

Justin Bieber’s RV also has its fair share of eccentricities. In 2020, the Canadian singer purchased for $2.5 million a bus turned luxurious mansion that he takes on his tours and that he himself showed off in the American edition of GQ Magazine. Equipped to the last detail, it offers wonders such as underfloor heating, ceilings with LED lights, a steam shower, and an infrared sauna.

Other celebrities, after years of traveling with their house in tow, have decided to part with theirs. That is the case of Tom Hanks. The legendary actor auctioned off his RV last year: the trailer that was his home during the shooting of movies like Forrest Gump or Apollo 13 was sold for $235,200, an almost trivial figure when compared to those of his colleagues.

Among so much luxury on wheels, Chris Hemsworth’s RV is also surprising for its modest dimensions. It was made by the Australian company Lotus Trooper, and it is equipped for all kinds of terrain. Despite its limited size, it includes things like Italian leather sofas and a designer kitchen; with this vehicle, the actor who brings Thor to life in the Marvel Cinematic Universe likes to enjoy family getaways, as he himself has shown on his social media.

Whether it is to go on road trips or as a place to rest between concerts or shootings, it is clear that the biggest music and movie stars cannot resist the opportunity to take all the comforts of home anywhere they go, preferably in rolling eccentricities that reinvent a concept popularized in the 1960s by the hippie movement – and look more fit for a Transformers movie than for an actual highway.

Source link

Continue Reading

Culture

Writer Salman Rushdie attacked while giving a speech in New York | USA

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Indian-born writer Salman Rushdie was attacked on Friday while giving a lecture in Chautauqua County, a town of about 140,000 inhabitants in western New York state. The first images of the event that have been shared on social networks show Rushdie on the floor, being attended by attendees and emergency services.

New York state police announced in a press release that the writer suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck, and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital. His condition is not yet known. An Associated Press reporter witnessed a man storm the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and begin punching or stabbing Rushdie as he was being introduced. The 75-year-old author was pushed or fell to the floor, and the man was restrained. The assailant has been arrested.

Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it blasphemous. A year later, on February 14, 1989, Iran’s late leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death. The theocratic Iranian regime also offered a reward of more than $3 million for anyone who killed the writer, who holds dual British and US citizenship.

Author Salman Rushdie in 2010.
Author Salman Rushdie in 2010.David Levenson (Getty Images)

Iran’s government had long since distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment has persisted. In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation raised the reward for Rushdie’s death from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.

Rushdie, an English-language writer and perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature, downplayed that threat then and said there was “no evidence” that people were interested in the reward. That year, Rushdie published a memoir, Joseph Anton, about the fatwa.

The 75-year-old author achieved international fame with the novel Midnight’s Children, which was published in 1980 and won him the Booker Prize, the UK’s most prestigious literary prize, the following year. The book sparked controversy in India for allegedly derogatory remarks towards the then prime minister of the country, Indira Gandhi.

With an overflowing imagination, his style has been compared to the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes, among others. He himself has recognized on numerous occasions his important links with Latin American literature. His latest book Quixote (2020) adapts Cervantes’ classic to the situation that the United States under the Donald Trump administration.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!