The Ochberg Society, January 10, 2014

For the three weeks I was in Port-au-Prince, I stepped into its streets only once. It was to buy sugarcane from a man selling it out of his wheelbarrow. With his machete he peeled one long, dark stalk to its sticky white center and chopped it into pieces. Pulling one from the plastic baggy and sucking out its juice, I walked back to the running car where André, my fixer, was waiting.

Before last October, I’d never been to Haiti or, for that matter, reported a story beyond America’s northeast. Yet there I was, driving around Port-au-Prince in André’s green Toyota 4Runner, because I’d received a fellowship to write about American evangelical Christians who run orphanages there. Some of them arrived in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, and I was investigating what effect their organizations were having the country — good or bad? >>> continue reading at >>>

The New York Times, November 17, 2013

In the mid-1980s, before microbrew was even a term, let alone a trend, in the United States, Garrett Oliver, a brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, began creating beer in his home in New York City just so he could drink something other than the “thin, fizzy yellow liquid” that bars served at the time.

His hobby was quickly turning into a profession, as he sought to recapture his experience of London, where he’d lived and, between stage-managing rock concerts, fallen in love with bitter, as the English called their pale ale. “It just had waves and waves of complex flavor,” he said.

Today Mr. Oliver travels abroad at a breakneck pace to share his brewing techniques. And in February, Brooklyn Brewery will open its first brewery abroad, the New Carnegie Brewery, a partnership with Carlsberg, in Stockholm. “Like us, the Swedes have been importing their beer culture from the rest of Europe,” Mr. Oliver said. “Now you’re starting to see more Swedish interpretations, if you like.” >>> continue reading at >>>

The New York Times, October 27, 2013

“On the back of a motorcycle with my soon-to-be husband, who at the time was my secret Italian lover in New York,” is how Gabrielle Hamilton, chef of the New York restaurant Prune, said she discovered Rome.

Every summer for the next 11 years, her husband played the city’s ambassador to her and eventually to their two sons. “And that is beautiful,” she said, “but denies you certain self-discovery experiences.”

Three years ago, after their marriage had come to an end, Ms. Hamilton decided to go to Rome again, this time on her own.

“I was like, ‘Damn it, I’m going to take this city,’ ” she said. That meant renting a Vespa and making her way through Rome by asking directions in what she calls “hilarious, bad Italian.”

“There’s nothing like being part of that swarm of wasps,” said Ms. Hamilton of riding a Vespa. “It puts you on the inside.” >>> continue reading at >>>

The New York Times, September 8, 2013

“Fashion Week is fantastic people watching.”

Heather Cocks should know. With her writing partner, Jessica Morgan, Ms. Cocks whips up witty commentary on celebrities and their woeful sartorial choices for their fashion blog. Having covered the event for New York magazine every season since 2006, she can attest that there’s no better place to gawk at celebrities than New York Fashion Week, which runs through Sept. 12.

Living in Los Angeles “is like going on safari,” she said. “You can see celebrities in the wild, and maybe you don’t want to poke at them.”

“Whereas Fashion Week is kind of like going to the zoo,” she said. “They are there for you to look at.” >>> continue reading at >>>

The New York Times, August 29, 2013

Curly-haired women like myself often recount adolescences spent yearning for sleek, straight tresses falling down their backs. But I was a child of the ’80s, a perm-crazed time when women would stop my mother and me on the street and ask of my hair, “Is it natural?”

While the humidity this time of year in New York City does make a girl dream of pin-straight, frizz-resistant hair (and once in the ’90s, I did succumb to the indignity of a blowout that puffed into a Betty White bouffant), I’ve always worn my curly hair curly, and with pride.

So when a “curl power” movement started with the founding of in 1998 and the arrival of curly-hair-care lines like DevaCurl, I needed none of its empowerment. But I did need its products.

Growing up on Long Island, I had two choices for styling my hair: John Frieda Frizz-Ease Hair Serum from my pharmacy, which left my curls crunchy; or Queen Helene Cholesterol Hair Conditioning Cream from a nearby African-American beauty supply store, which weighed them down. Neither product was suited for my fine, corkscrew curls, but I combined the two and worked with what I had. >>> continue reading at >>>

The New York Times, August 11, 2013

Vince Gilligan now considers Albuquerque a character of “Breaking Bad,” the television series whose final eight-episode run will begin on AMC on Sunday.

But he admits, somewhat guiltily, that the motivation behind shooting in the city was, at first, mercenary. With New Mexico offering financial incentives to film and television producers, Mr. Gilligan, the series’ creator and show runner, decided to rewrite the script to take place there instead of California.

Only after he arrived in Albuquerque and saw the desert stretching to the horizon, he said, did he realize that the show, in that landscape, could be a modern-day Western.

“All the wonderful topographical and geographical elements, we put to good use in the show,” he said. Especially the clouds, which you don’t see in the blank blue skies of Southern California. “They allow you to perceive the immense size of the sky,” he said. “They go on forever some days.” >>> continue reading at >>>

The New York Times, June 23, 2013

On July 1, 1863, Confederate and Union troops descended on the grassy hills of Gettysburg, thrusting the sleepy town of 2,400 into the Civil War. The three-day Battle of Gettysburg ended the Confederate invasion of the North and resulted in staggering losses — an estimated 51,000 casualties in all for the campaign — for both sides. Each year, about 1.2 million visitors journey to the Gettysburg National Military Park. This year, about 200,000 are expected to attend the town and park’s commemoration of the battle’s 150th anniversary, which runs through July 7, with plenty more events and exhibits continuing through the end of the year.

Avoiding the crowds, though, has its merits, offering a more solemn experience. Either way, Gettysburg — which is still a small town, with a population of only 7,645 — has a lot to offer beyond history lessons. The town’s compact but lively center, lined with Federal-style buildings, is filled with mom-and-pop shops and restaurants, and serves as a great base for exploring the region’s vineyards and winding country roads. >>> continue reading at >>>