Destination: Los Angeles

The Critics: ‘Fast & Furious’

The Critics: ‘Fast & Furious’ Publicity still via IGN
Publicity still via IGN

When I listed Fast & Furious as one of my travel movies to watch for in 2009, I have to admit that my tongue might have been straying towards my cheek. I certainly never expected that the movie—the fourth installment in a fading franchise—would smash box office records and enjoy the biggest April weekend opening ever. But with an unexpected $70 million (and counting) in the bank, I suppose the movie qualifies as a phenomenon of sorts. With that in mind, I decided to check it out and see if there were any vicarious travel thrills to be had in between all the lingering shots of hot (auto) bodies.

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Morning Links: The Zion Curtain, Pynchon and Baedeker, and more

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Hollywood Heads to Bollywood

Hollywood Heads to Bollywood Photo by Meanest Indian via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Turns out, it really is a small world after all. Kylie Minogue has wrapped up filming for an upcoming Bollywood flick, “Blue,” making her one of the first big-name Western stars to land on a Mumbai sound stage. “I don’t feel that I’m necessarily at the forefront of a Hollywood-Bollywood crossover because I don’t consider myself Hollywood,” Minogue told the Telegraph. “But I do think this could be the start of something. The fact that I’m here shows it could be the start of something.”

Early signs suggest she’s right—Sylvester Stallone is set to do the Bollywood thing later this year. And—rumor has it!—Arnold Schwarzenegger will be joining him. Could the Bolly/Hollywood fusion become another wonder of our shrinking planet?

I’m all for it.


The Rise of Best Western Civilization

The budget hotel chain with the best street cred—well, at least until Motel 6 finishes their system-wide renovations and ditches the Magic Fingers beds—is having a special limited-time sale each day this week. The names of the discounted properties are posted at noon eastern and remain on sale for a couple hours each day. And even if it’s not on sale, you could always stay at the fabulous Best Western in the Hollywood Hills for about $160 a night, one of L.A.‘s secretly good hotels. An added bonus: no fishtank models in the lobby!


Morning Links: Best Job in the World Finalists, ‘Narco-Tours’ and More

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Morning Links: A Wordy Map of St. Petersburg, the Joy of L.A. Traffic and More

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Tweeting for Kimchi Tacos

I’ve always envied the whole L.A. taco truck subculture; if I lived out there, I think I’d probably overdose on all the spicy goodness. Now that I’ve heard the story of the Kogi taco truck, I’m really jealous. Launched in November, the truck has gained an avid following for its fusion of Korean barbecue and traditional taco/burrito fare (imagine topping juicy carne asada with soy-sesame chili). But what’s really making news is the owners’ unusual marketing approach, which involves Tweeting the truck’s expected location a couple hours ahead of arrival, setting off a taco-minded flash mob. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the operation has become a “social networking juggernaut,” drawing between 300 and 800 people at each stop, with waits of up to two hours (Kogi staff play Japanese reggaeton to soothe the crowds). Even more interesting, it’s a bicoastal effort: Kogi’s public relations maven, Alice Shin, writes the Twitter feed and blogs about the truck’s doings all the way from New York. There’s a Flickr photostream, as well.

All I can say is: cool. I’d fly to the left coast just to check this out. Meantime, I think we need to send a certain World Hum coeditor up to L.A. on special assignment. Jim?


Morning Links: Vegas to L.A. High-Speed Rail, ‘the Gifts of Travel’ and More

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A Half-Century Ago: Let the Jet Age Begin!

A Half-Century Ago: Let the Jet Age Begin! Photo by Marcin Wichary via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Marcin Wichary via Flickr (Creative Commons)

This past Sunday was the 50th anniversary of “the first transcontinental commercial jet trip”: American Airlines Flight 2 on a Boeing 707 on January 25th, 1959. The New York Times has this great story.

An interesting detail from the piece: “The earlier flights were not just cushier but faster: 4 hours eastbound and, because of headwinds, 5 westbound. In today’s stacked-up skies, New York-to-Los Angeles flights typically take an hour longer in each direction—if they land on time.” The article also quotes an onboard correspondent for the L.A. Times who wrote of that original flight, “The shrinking effect of the jetliner upon geography distorted the earth’s face.” Beautiful. (Via Airline Biz Blog)


Seven Great Time-Lapse Travel Videos

Jim Benning sifts through YouTube's accelerated videos to find the seven best

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Morning Links: Robots Around the World, ‘Pizza Huh’ and More

reimagined WPA poster Design by Open.
WPA poster, reimagined by Open.


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Morning Links: Roman Gladiators, Michelin Guides, Prehistoric Airports and More


Pigging Out

Pigging Out Photo: the_toe_stubber via Flickr, (Creative Commons)
Photo: the_toe_stubber via Flickr, (Creative Commons)

David Sedaris put it best in Me Talk Pretty One Day when he recalled meeting his boyfriend and eventually settling in France: “I wound up in Normandy the same way my mother wound up in North Carolina: you meet a guy, relinquish a tiny bit of control, and the next thing you know, you’re eating a different part of the pig.”

It’s true—at least about the pig part: I once watched a sow get slaughtered in the Czech hinterlands and the first offerings turned out to be the beast’s brains, followed by its heart, its blood (as soup), and, finally, fried nuggets of pig fat. But I’d never encountered such parts on the menus of restaurants in the United States. That is, until now.

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Movie Tourism: ‘An Obsessively Ridiculous, Embarrassing, Empty, and Needy Exercise’?

Movie Tourism: ‘An Obsessively Ridiculous, Embarrassing, Empty, and Needy Exercise’? Photo by kennymatic via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Eva Holland

I’ve been thinking lately about the motivations behind movie tourism—not the “Wow, New Zealand sure looked beautiful in that elf movie” variety, but the literal, “X was filmed here” brand of movie-related travel. What is it that prompts people to run up the steps, Rocky-style, in Philadelphia, or to slide into a booth at New York’s Katz’s Deli and gigglingly declare, “I’ll have what she’s having”?

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Morning Links: Jellyfish Gone Wild, Sedaris and More

Catch up on links from our redesign break:

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