Chaotic Pho

Pho Dac Biet

I read these couple of paragraphs in Lucky Peach magazine just a few days ago and loved everything about it. Full credit to author Calvin Godfrey.

Pho purists often claim not to have a favorite spot in Ho Chi Minh City, and some refuse to eat pho there at all. These types delight in telling you that real pho only exists in Hanoi, or, worse, that the genuine article has vanished entirely, like the Javan tiger.

To those in that camp, every deviation from the Northern idea is an affront to good taste. The fresh herbs Saigonese tear into their bowls are stupid, and don’t get them started on the broth. Too much cinnamon. Too much sugar. Too many onions. Too much fat.

These poor bastards view themselves as starving in some sort of dry Platonic cave, watching shadow noodles devoured before a fire that burns behind them. How sad that they either cannot or will not recognize the hot, sexy swamp bubbling all around them — the throbbing anarchy in which the century-long evolution of pho continues in earnest.

It’s got everything: delicious pho, a rant against the whole idea of authenticity, love of evolved order, a Plato reference, and an implied rant against again so-called cultural appropriation. It’s amazing.



Lethe and Eunoe


In Purgatorio, Dante puts the source of the mythical rivers Lethe and Eunoe at the peak of the earthly mountain at the antipodes that is Purgatory. After purging yourself of your sins in ascending through Purgatory, you must wade through the two rivers before entering paradise.

The Lethe (Greek for “forgetfulness”) purges your memory of your sins. The Eunoe (“good mind”) enhances your memory of those good things you accomplished in life.

It’s a nice reminder of moving on in our own personal lives. You can’t really move on to bigger and better things until you put the old issues behind you. Heaven with constant reminders of the problems of the past is not really heaven.

There is also an interesting Buddhist flavor here, reminding you to live in the present. What’s done is done, you’ve accounted for it, now move on.

— Reader’s Note —

I encourage everyone to make the full journey from Inferno to Paradiso. Its best done, in my opinion, by choosing whether you want to read for poetry or read for late medieval Italian historical detail. Doing both at once can be overwhelming. Either way, if you do, definitely check out the Dartmouth Dante Project.


Radio and the spirit of the future

Just like TV did not kill radio, I don’t think the internet will ever kill radio. (But, TV is *the* thing this year.)

What the internet has allowed us to do is cut through the morass of similarity in most terrestrial radio and go directly the stations that are doing something interesting, different or wacky. Yes, the internet allows us to “curate” (apologies) our listening, while still relying on others to pick and discover for us. As I explained earlier, I love music but I don’t have the time or patience to pick out everything I listen to. Hence my love of internet radio, Pandora, etc.

So here are some stations I love:

WDVX – old-time country, bluegrass, blues, Americana out of little station outside of Knoxville, TN

WDCB – Chicago’s Home for Jazz

WBGO – Jazz out of Newark, NJ

KPIG – Broadcasting out of Freedom, CA. What more do you need? It’s pretty random.