This week on Roads & Kingdoms, a dispatch on the chaos on the Brazil-Venezuela border and rising nationalism, a Pittsburgh rabbi on the aftermath of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, and colleagues pay tribute to Anthony Bourdain.
Friends and readers—
It’s the scariest week of the year. And I’m not just talking about the proliferation of candy-corn themed products (diligently documented by our friends at the Carbface podcast) and the parades of predictably topical Halloween costumes.
This was a bad news week in a year of them. Trump (and some GOP politicians) fabricated a migration crisis to scare up Republican votes for the midterm elections and said he would send up to 15,000 troops to the US-Mexico border.
Meanwhile, Brazil elected far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro—who has advocated torture and is openly nostalgic for the country’s dictatorship—to the presidency. Brazil-based journalist Anna Jean Kaiser documented rising nationalism in the South American country in a dispatch from the Brazil-Venezuela border, where Brazilians attacked Venezuelan migrants and burned down a makeshift refugee camp.
On Saturday, eleven people died and another six were injured at the Tree of Life Synagogue after a gunman opened fire during Shabbat services. We spoke withRabbi Mordi Rudolph, a lifelong resident of the Squirrel Hill neighborhood with close ties to the Tree of Life. “There was this surreal element of just trying to kind of keep it all together without really knowing what was going on,” he says. He describes a community that is shocked, but united.
Over on our sister site, Explore Parts Unknown, we’ve rolled out the Director’s Cut—a set of tributes to Anthony Bourdain from the people who worked, traveled, and broke bread with him over the years. Bourdain’s assistant and writer Laurie Woolever recalls shooting with Bourdain at the racecourse in Queens. Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications for President Obama, shares the story of how they coordinated Obama’s meal with Bourdain in Hanoi for the Vietnam Parts Unknown episode—and why Obama wanted to sit down with Bourdain. We also asked fans around the world to tell us about their favorite moments from the show, from his visit to the Koreatown Sizzler to getting tattooed in Borneo.
And, here are some things we have been reading and sharing this week. Jeff Weiss’s deliciously sharp-tongued profile of Soundcloud rapper Post Malone and what his popularity says about our times; Glenna Gordon on the far-right’s secret weapon: the women who reinforce supremacists movements; Tejal Rao’s deep dive into Japan’s obsession with the Kit Kat chocolate bar (which, naturally, resulted in the Dainobu Japanese grocery store in Manhattan almost selling out of its Kit Kats); Caroline Eden’s beautiful new book, Black Sea: Dispatches and Recipes, based on her travels from Odessa to Istanbul to Trabzon along the sea’s coast.
And because we appreciate a good dog Halloween outfit, food-themed jokes, and a clever pun, we were thrilled to find all three in this “Everything Beagle With Cream Cheese.”
Finally, please participate in our (super short!) fall survey to help us bring you more of what you love. Plus, you could win Anthony Bourdain’s favorite chef knives (worth $275 retail).
Until next week. In the meantime, GO VOTE!
—Alexa van Sickle