Watch Ridley Scott’s Controversial Nissan Sports Car Ad That Aired Only Once, During the Super Bowl (1990)

Every commercial is a fantasy, but car commercials are more fantastical than most. Just look at the settings, with their roads, whether remote or urban, completely empty of not just other cars but obstacles of any kind: stop signs, street-crossers, speed traps. This leaves the heroic everyman behind the wheel free to take on the straightaways and curves alike just as he sees fit. But what the standard car commercial offers in driver wish fulfillment, it lacks in drama: how to tell a story, after all, about a featureless character who faces no obstacles, subject to no desires beyond those for comfort and speed? Commissioned to direct a commercial for Nissan’s 300ZX Turbo, Ridley Scott found a way.

“I’m in a Turbo Z,” says the narrator of the resulting spot “Turbo Dream,” first broadcast during Super Bowl XXIV in 1990. “These guys are after me, but they can’t catch me.” These mysterious pursuers first chase him on motorcycles, then in an F1 race car, and then in an experimental-looking jet. (We’re a long way indeed from Hovis bread.)




But “just as they’re about to catch me, the twin turbos kick in.” Those twin turbochargers constitute only one of the cornucopia of features available for the 300ZX, then the latest model of Nissan’s “Z-cars,” a series acclaimed for its combination of sports-car performance, luxury-car features, and high technology. The lineage goes all the way back to 1969, when the company introduced its Japanese Fairlady Z in the U.S. as the 240Z.

For most of the 1960s, “Japanese sports car” would have sounded like a contradiction in terms. But by the 1990s many once-loyal American drivers had been enticed to defect, not least by the promise of the Z-car. Taken by surprise, the colossal U.S. auto industry did not react charitably to its foreign competitors, and the 1980s wave of economic anti-Japanese sentiment swept America. Hollywood wasted no time capitalizing on these feelings: countless action movies began featuring corporate-raiding Japanese villains, and one of the least shoddy among them was Black Rain — directed by a certain Ridley Scott, who in Blade Runner had already realized one vision of a thoroughly Japanified America.

Black Rain had come out just four months before the broadcast of “Turbo Dream,” and anyone who’d seen the film would surely be reminded of its opening motorcycle race. The spot did draw a backlash, but the anger had nothing to do with Japan: “The commercial was protested by groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Governors’ Highway Safety Representatives and others,” writes Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky. “The issue was that the ad was thought to glorify speeding,” and the commercial never aired again. The 300ZX itself would go on for a few more years, until the American SUV trend and the rising yen-to-dollar ratio temporarily retired it in 1997. When they bring the newly unveiled Z Proto to market, Nissan could do worse than enlisting Scott to come up with another turbocharged fantasy.

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Cars: Past, Present & Future (A Free Course from Stanford)

Bob Dylan’s Controversial 2004 Victoria’s Secret Ad: His First & Last Appearance in a Commercial

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

The 100 Most Influential Photographs: Watch TIME’s Video Essays on Photos That Changed the World

We live in a culture oversaturated with images. Videos of violence and death circulate with disturbing regularity, only rarely rising to the level of mass public outrage. Social media and news feeds bombard us not only with distressing headlines but with photograph after photograph–doctored, memed, repeated, then discarded and forgotten. It’s impossible to do otherwise than to forget: the sheer volume of visual information most of us take in daily overwhelms the brain’s ability to sort and process.

As if insisting that we look and really see, the judges of the Pulitzer Prize have given the award for feature photography almost exclusively to images of tragedy in recent years. In most cases, the conflicts and disasters they depict have not gone away, they have only disappeared from headline news. Whether we can say that photography is losing its power to move and shock us in the overwhelming sea of visual noise is a subject for a much longer meditation. But I can think of few recent images comparable to those in the TIME 100 Photographs series.

Of course the saying “time will tell” isn’t just a pun here: we can only know if a photo will have historic impact in hindsight, but in nearly all of the 100 photos featured—which have been given their own mini-documentaries—the impact was immediate and galvanizing, inspiring action, activism, widespread, sorrow, anger, appreciation, or awe. The emotional resonance, in many cases, has only deepened over the decades.




The image of Emmett Till’s face, battered into unrecognizability, has not lost its power to shock and appall one bit. Although the specific context may now elude us, its details still mysterious, we can still be moved by Jeff Widener’s photograph of a defiant Chinese citizen facing down the tanks in Tiananmen Square. Alberto Korda’s 1960 portrait of Che Guevarra became not only iconic but a literal icon.

What will we see fifty, or 100, years from now, on the other hand, in “Oscars Selfie” (2014), by Bradley Cooper? The photo seems to me an eerily cheerful portent from the point-of-view of 2020, just a handful of years later, with its well-groomed, smiling, mask-less faces and lack of social distancing. It is an image of a genuinely simpler, or at least a profoundly more oblivious, time. And it was also just yesterday in the scale of TIME’s list, whose earliest photo dates to almost 200 years ago and happens to be the “first known permanent photograph.”

TIME itself, once a standard bearer for photojournalism, shows us how much our interaction with photography has changed. The so-called “turn to video” may have been mostly hype—we continue to read, listen to podcasts, and yes, pour over striking photographs obsessively. But hardly anything these days, it seems, can pass by without a mini-YouTube documentary. We may not need them to be emotionally moved by these photographs, yet taken altogether, these short videos offer “an unprecedented exploration,” writes TIME, of how “each spectacular image… changed the course of history.”

Watch all of the 21 short documentary videos currently available at TIME‘s YouTube channel, with more, it seems, likely to come.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

How Some of the World’s Most Famous Cheeses Are Made: Camembert, Brie, Gorgonzola & More

Attention cheese lovers!

Do you salivate at the thought of a Cheese Channel?

Careful what you wish for.

Food photographers employ all manner of disgusting tricks to make junky pancakes and fast food burgers look irresistibly mouthwatering.

Food Insiders’ Regional Eats tour of the Italian Gorgonzola-making process inside a venerable, family-owned Italian creamery is the inverse of that.

The finished product is worthy of a still life, but look out!




Despite the deliberately gentle motion of the custom-made machinery into which the milk is poured, getting there is a stomach churning prospect.

Personally, we don’t find the smell of that venerable, veined cheese offensive. The pungent aroma is practically music to our nose, stimulating the cilia at the tips of our sensory cells, alerting our tongue that a rare and favorite flavor is in range.

Nor is it a mold issue.

Marco Invernizzi, managing director of Trecate’s hundred-year-old Caseificio Si Invernizzi, exudes such deep respect for Penicillium roqueforti and the other particulars of Gorgonzola’s pedigree, it would surely be our honor to sample one of the 400 wheels his creamery produces every day.

Just give us a sec for the visuals of that grizzly birth video to fade from our memory.

With the exception of a close up on a faucet gushing milk into a bucket, the peek inside the Camembert-making process is a bit easier to stomach.

There are curds, but they’re contained.

The cheese at Le 5 Frères, a family farm in the village of Bermonville, is made by old fashioned means, ladling micro-organism-rich milk to which rennet has been added into perforated forms, that are topped off a total of five times in an hour.

The steamy temperatures inside the artisanal brie molding room at Seine-et-Marne’s 30 Arpents causes Food Insiders’ camera lens to fog, making for an impressionistic view, swagged in white.

Nearly 20 years ago, Mad Cow disease came close to wiping this operation out.

The current herd of friendly Holsteins were all born on 30 Arpents’ land. Each produces about 30 liters of milk (or slightly more than one daily wheel of brie de Meaux) per day.

Get the scoop on Swiss Emmentaler, Italy’s largest buffalo mozzarella balls, and other world cheese MVPs on Food Insider’s 87-video Cheese Insider playlist.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

A Master List of 1,500 Free Courses From Top Universities: 50,000 Hours of Audio/Video Lectures to Enrich Your Mind


For the past 14 years, we’ve been busy rummaging around the internet and adding courses to an ever-growing list of Free Online Courses, which now features 1,500 courses from top universities. Let’s give you the quick overview: The list lets you download audio & video lectures from schools like Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford, Harvard and many other institutions. Generally, the courses can be accessed via YouTube, iTunes or university web sites, and you can listen to the lectures anytime, anywhere, on your computer or smart phone. We haven’t done a precise calculation, but there’s about 50,000 hours of free audio & video lectures here. Enough to keep you busy for a very long time–something that’s useful during these socially distant times.

Right now you’ll find 200 free philosophy courses, 105 free history courses, 170 free computer science courses, 85 free physics courses and 55 Free Literature Courses in the collection, and that’s just beginning to scratch the surface. You can peruse sections covering Astronomy, Biology, BusinessChemistry, Economics, Engineering, Math, Political Science, Psychology and Religion.

Here are some highlights from the complete list of Free Online Courses. We’ve added a few unconventional/vintage courses in the mix just to keep things interesting.

The complete list of courses can be accessed here: 1,500 Free Online Courses from Top Universities. For more enriching material, see our other collections below.

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Mapping the Differences in How Americans Speak English: A Geographic Look at Words, Accents & Dialects

In the 2005 PBS documentary series Do You Speak American? journalist Robert MacNeil traveled from fabled “sea to shining sea” to explore the mysteries of American English. Among the many questions he addressed at the time was the widespread idea that mass media is “homogenizing American language or making us all talk the same.” MacNeil, and the linguists he interviewed, found that this wasn’t true, but what accounts for the misperception?

One reason we may have been inclined to think so is that regional accents seemed to disappear from television and other media, as the country became more suburban, and middle class white Americans distanced themselves from their immigrant roots and from African Americans and working-class Southerners. Aside from several broad ethnic stereotypes, many of which also faded during the Civil Rights era, the more-or-less authentic regional accents on TV seemed fewer and fewer.




A rush of media in recent decades, however, from Fargo to The Sopranos, has reintroduced Americans to the regional varieties of their language. At the same time, popular treatment of linguistics, like MacNeil’s documentary, have introduced us to the tools researchers use to study the diversity of difference in American English. Those differences can be measured, for example, in whether people pronounce “R” sounds in words like “car,” a characteristic linguists call “rhoticity.”

In the past century, Ben Trawick-Smith of Dialect Blog writes, “American and British attitudes toward non-rhoticity diverged. Where r-lessness was once a prestige feature in both countries,” representing in the Southern planter class and Boston Brahmins in the U.S., for example, “it is a marker of working-class or vernacular speech in 21st-century America (typical of the broadest New York City, Boston and African American Vernacular Englishes).” In the short film at the top, you can hear several varieties of rhotic and non-rhotic American English in the mouths of speakers from 6 regions around the country.

Presented by linguist Henry Smith, Jr. the 1958 documentary details the phonetic differences of each speaker’s pronunciations. Linguists use certain words to test for a vernacular’s phonetic qualities, words like “water” and “oil,” which you can hear further up in a far more recent video, pronounced by speakers from different states around the U.S. Regional speech is also measured by the choice of words we use to talk about the same thing, with one of the most prominent examples in the U.S. being “Soda vs. Pop vs. Coke.” In the Atlantic video just above, see how those different words break down according to region, and learn a bit more about the “at least 10 distinct dialects of English” spoken in the U.S.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Edward Hopper’s Creative Process: The Drawing & Careful Preparation Behind Nighthawks & Other Iconic Paintings

Edward Hopper painted, but more importantly, he drew. His body of work includes about 140 canvases, which doesn’t make him especially prolific given his long life and career — but then, one of those canvases is Nighthawks. Here on Open Culture, we’ve previously featured Hopper’s “storyboards” for that time- and culture-transcending painting of a late-night New York diner. But those count as only a few of the voluminous preparatory drawings without which neither Nighthawks nor his other major works like AutomatChop Suey, or Morning Sun Sea would have seen the light of day — or rather, the emotional dusk that infuses all his images, no matter their setting.

“It’s a long process of gestation in the mind and arising emotion,” says Hopper himself in the 1961 interview clip above.  “I make various small sketches, sketches of the thing that I wish to do, also sketches of details in the picture.” This process entailed no little pavement-pounding: “Again and again, he would pick up his sketchbook and head for a cluster of New York City movie theaters,” writes the Los Angeles Times‘ Barbara Isenberg, covering Hopper Drawing, a 2013 exhibition at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. “Sometimes it was the Republic or the Palace, other times the Strand or the Globe, places where he could study the lobby, the auditorium, the curtained area off to the side. Back at home, he’d pose his wife, Josephine, as an usherette and draw her portrait.” After 54 such drawings, the result was Hopper’s “monumental painting New York Movie.”

The following year, the Dallas Museum of Art opened Hopper Drawing: A Painter’s Process a show covered at the blog of Signet Art. “Hopper worked from real life for the first step of his process, a step he called ‘from the fact,’ often drawing and sketching on site before returning to his studio to complete a piece,” says the blog. “He was meticulous in his preparation, drawing and creating extensive studies for a new work before approaching the canvas.” Only then did he bring his imagination into it, though he still “referred to his drawings as a reminder of how light and shadow played off an architectural space and the figures within it.” Is this how he managed to render so eloquently themes of loneliness, isolation, modern man and his environment? “Those are the words of critics,” the plainspoken Hopper said. “It may be true, and it may not be true.”

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

The Dance Theatre of Harlem Dances Through the Streets of NYC: A Sight to Behold

It’s nearly impossible to find an unblemished square of pavement in New York City.

Unless the concrete was poured within the last day or two, count on each square to boast at least one dark polka dot, an echo of casually discarded gum.

Confirm for yourself with a quick peek beneath the exuberant feet of the Dance Theatre of Harlem company members performing on the plaza of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building during the 46th annual Harlem Week festival.




For obvious reasons, this year’s festival took place entirely online, but the Dance Theatre’s offering is a far cry from the gloomy Zoom-y affair that’s become 2020’s sad norm.

Eight company members, including co-producers Derek Brockington and Alexandra Hutchinson, hit the streets, to be filmed dancing throughout Harlem.

Those who gripe about the discomfort of wearing a mask while exerting themselves should shut their traps until they’ve performed ballet on the platform of the 145th and St. Nicholas Subway Station, where the dancers’ pristine white shoes bring further buoyancy to the proceedings.

The City College of New York—in-state tuition $7,340—provides the Neo-Gothic stage for four ballerinas to perform en pointe.

The Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge serve as backdrop as four young men soar along the promenade in Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park. Their casual outfits are a reminder of how company founder Arthur Mitchell, the New York City Ballet’s first black principal dancer, deliberately relaxed the dress code to accommodate young men who would have resisted tights.

The piece is an excerpt of New Bach, part of the company’s repertoire by resident choreographer and former principal dancer, Robert Garland, described in an earlier New York Times review as “an authoritative and highly imaginative blend of classical vocabulary and funk, laid out in handsome formal patterns in a well-plotted ballet.”

The music is by J.S. Bach.

And in these fractious times, it’s worth noting that only one of the dancers is New York City born and bred. The others hail from Kansas, Texas, Chicago, Louisiana, Delaware, Orange County, and upstate.

The group seizes the opportunity to amplify a much needed public health message—wear a mask!—but it’s also a beautiful tribute to the power of the arts and the vibrant neighborhood where a world-class company was founded in a converted garage at the height of the civil rights movement.

Contribute to Dance Theater of Harlem’s COVID-19 Relief Fund here.

via @BalletArchive/@TedGioia

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.   Follow her @AyunHalliday.

11 Hypnotic, Close-Up Minutes Watching Tool’s Legendary Drummer Danny Carey in Action

Like the great prog drummers of old—Bill Bruford, Neil Peart, Phil Collins—Tool’s Danny Carey is an artisan. They don’t make drumming like that anymore. He says so himself (sort of) in an interview with Music Radar about his side project Legend of the Seagullmen with Mastadon’s Brent Hinds. Remembering how Robert Fripp would stand on the edge of the stage, watching Tool play when King Crimson opened for the modern prog-metal giants, Carey remarks, “We weren’t syncing to some bullshit like so many other bands. We were actually playing live. It’s a sad thing when almost every band you see isn’t doing that. It’s the clicks and backing tracks that are keeping time. I’ve never played to a click on stage in my life.”

A “click track,” for those who don’t know, is exactly what it sounds like: a playback of clicks (or any percussive sound) to the desired tempo, pumped into a musician’s earpiece to keep them playing in time. A useful tool of the recording studio, many musicians, as Carey says, now use it on stage, along with vocal pitch correction software and pre-recorded backing tracks to make sure everything sounds exactly like it does on record.




All of this technology ruins the feel of live performance, Carey maintains. He would know. He’s been playing live since the 80s and playing with Tool since the band formed thirty years ago. He also jams every other month, he says, “with these weird dudes who played with Miles Davis or Mahavishnu Orchestra.” So… yeah. The dude’s got some classic chops.

But technology isn’t all bad in live music, far from it. Being a drummer used to mean that hardly anyone could see you on a big stage. You might be the most talented, best-looking member of the band, but you were hidden away behind your kit with the singers and guitarists soaking up the glory. Even when certain celebrity rock drummers get their own stages (with their own mini-roller coasters), it can be impossible to see what they’re doing up close. No longer. Thanks to unobtrusive cameras that can stream video from anywhere, no corner of the stage need be obscured. We can watch a Tool show from over Carey’s shoulder, as in the video of “Pneuma,” live in concert, at the top, produced by drum equipment company Vic Firth to demonstrate Carey’s new signature sticks.

It’s better to let Carey’s playing speak for itself, but for reference, “Pneuma” comes from Tool’s very eagerly-awaited 2019 album Fear Inoculum, just one of many tracks “filled with twist after turn, conventional song structure be damned,” Ilya Stemkovsky writes at Modern Drummer, “with Carey at the center of the storm, providing the heaviest, most massive bottom possible. He even gets his own solo percussion track, ‘Chocolate Chip Trip,’ on which he incorporates gongs and bells, among other sounds.” Maybe this live view, and Tool’s well-deserved Grammy Win for Best Metal Performance this year for “7empest,” will inspire more drummers to drop the click and bring back what Carey calls the “dedication to your vibe” from the days of artisanal drumming.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Scariest Film of All Time? A Vintage Look at the Hysteria Around The Exorcist in 1973

William Friedkin’s 1973 The Exorcist might feel wrapped in the historical glow of “elevated horror” now–serious filmmaking for discerning fans and critics–but that was very much *not* the case back in the year of its birth. Back in the grimy, Watergate years of the early ‘70s, The Exorcist was as much a side-show freakout as anything William Castle produced back in the day. It was an endurance test.

The above film from that time proves it, showing the long, around-the-block lines, the sold-out screenings, the repeat viewers, and the record-breaking opening weekend grosses ($2 million in just 24 theaters in December, before opening wide across the nation in 1974.) This event had more in common with your current comic book movie or Star Wars sequel, and all the while being an R-rated film based on Catholic dogma and featuring some of the most colorful profanity ever hurled at a man of the cloth (on screen at least).




Of course, it is the reactions of the viewers that make this footage worth it. The cinema workers talk about how even the biggest guys can’t hack the film and exit white as a sheet. Two young women say this is their second attempt to watch the film all the way through. Another guy say he wasn’t scared by the film but “I dunno, I just fainted.”

And we do in fact see some people faint in the lobby, just going down like a sack of bricks, and an usher tells the camera he has two kinds of smelling salts to choose from. One woman in line even tells the camera crew, “I wanna see if it’s gonna make me throw up.” In fact, at one point some theaters started handing out “barf bags” for nervous viewers (which probably increased their chances of vomiting). MAD Magazine even got in on the hype with an appropriate cover (“If the Devil Makes You Do It” reads the bag.)

All this was incredibly good for business, and incredibly good for the news media, who sent crews like this one down, along with a reporter to interview people bailing on the film halfway through. The demonic voice is what did it for people, provided by actress Mercedes McCambridge, who reportedly downed raw eggs, smoked cigarettes and drank whiskey to give her voice that raspy edge.

From this year’s vantage point it all looks quaint and fun–all these different people from various walks of life having a shared experience in a theater, everybody whipped up into a delightful and ultimately harmless frenzy.

Most of the documentary was shot at the National Theater in Westwood, Los Angeles. Only three years old at the time, the cinema was the last single-screen theater built in the United States. It was torn down in 2008, replaced by some tony apartments and a street-level sushi bar.

Below you can watch a doc on the Making-of Friedkin’s film.

via Mental Floss

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

Denmark’s Utopian Garden City Built Entirely in Circles: See Astounding Aerial Views of Brøndby Haveby

For decades, urban planners around the world have looked to the Danish capital of Copenhagen, with its low-rise high density and unparalleled culture of everyday cycling, as an example of how to design a city. But what of the Danish track record in designing suburbs? Recently, a photographer by the name of Henry Do brought the world’s attention to one such settlement, Brøndby Haveby or Garden City, with a series of aerial photographs posted to Instagram. “Unreal how my recent images from here went crazy viral,” Do writes in the caption of a follow-up drone video — “unreal” being just the word some have used to describe the place itself, composed as it is entirely out of circles.

Built in 1964 to the design of “genius landscape architect Erik Mygind,” Brøndby Haveby mimics “the traditional patterns of the 18th century Danish villages, where people would use the middle as a focal point for hanging out, mingle and social interchange between neighbors.”




This unusual form, more of which you can see in Do’s drone photos at Lonely Planet, suits the long-established Danish cabin culture, according to which every city-dwelling Dane with the means buys a smaller second home in the countryside as a retreat. (Though the houses in Brøndby Haveby are owned, the gardens are rented, and local zoning laws prevent anyone from occupying their properties for more than six months out of the year.)

Wherever it is, this cabin must be made hyggelige, an adjective often translated into English as “cozy” and that, in recent years, has become a byword for the love of small-scale contentment that sets Denmark apart. (Not everybody is sold on the concept: “With its relentless drive towards the middle ground and its dependence on keeping things light and breezy,” writes British Denmark expat Michael Booth, “hygge does get a bit boring sometimes.”) As Lenni Madsen, a Danish Quora user with a Brøndby Haveby house in the family, puts it, “Imagine your average small-time community, where everyone knows everyone else, you see each other across the hedge, perhaps sharing a beer or having coffee at each others’ houses.”

This seems a far cry from the alienation and depravity of the standard suburban cul-de-sac, at least as portrayed in American popular myth. And it isn’t hard to see the appeal for average urbanites, especially those looking to spend their generous vacation time in as different an environment as possible without having to go far. (Homeowners must already have a primary residence within 20 kilometers, which includes the city of Copenhagen.) The astonished reactions on social media would suggest that most of us have never seen a place like this before. But for the Danes, it’s just another chapter in their civilizational pursuit of all that is hyggelige.

via Messy Nessy

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.





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