The Story of the MiniDisc, Sony’s 1990s Audio Format That’s Gone But Not Forgotten

“If I had asked peo­ple what they want­ed, they would have said faster hors­es.” Whether or not pio­neer­ing car­mak­er Hen­ry Ford actu­al­ly uttered that quip, it has long held near-Bib­li­cal sta­tus in the realm of Amer­i­can busi­ness. On the oth­er side of the Pacif­ic, Sony founder Akio Mori­ta put it less mem­o­rably but more gen­er­al­ly: “If you ask the pub­lic what they think they’ll need, you’ll always be behind in this world. You’ll nev­er catch up unless you think one to ten years in advance, and cre­ate a mar­ket for the items you think the pub­lic will accept at that time.” And had Sony, cre­ator of the Walk­man and co-cre­ator of the Com­pact Disc, asked its cus­tomers what they want­ed in the late 1980s, they may well have said dig­i­tal cas­sette tapes.

In fact Philips, Sony’s part­ner in the devel­op­ment of the Com­pact Disc, did want to make a dig­i­tal cas­sette tape. But Sony saw the future dif­fer­ent­ly, imag­in­ing opti­cal discs that were even more com­pact, and rewritable to boot. The result was Mini­Disc, which with­in a few years of its launch in 1992 man­aged to see off the Dig­i­tal Com­pact Cas­sette, the com­pet­ing for­mat Philips end­ed up devel­op­ing with Mat­sushi­ta. But then the sto­ry gets even more inter­est­ing, and you can see it told in detail by the half-hour This Does Not Com­pute doc­u­men­tary above. Though the Mini­Disc was­n’t a straight­for­ward suc­cess, it turns out nei­ther to have been the sort of Beta­max-style fail­ure many Amer­i­cans seem to remem­ber today.

As a con­sumer audio for­mat, Mini­Disc actu­al­ly became a mas­sive phe­nom­e­non, at least back in Sony’s home­land of Japan. The pecu­liar eco­nom­ics of the Japan­ese music mar­ket, espe­cial­ly back in the 1990s, made CDs about twice as expen­sive there as they were in the Unit­ed States. Enter the music-rental shop, where cus­tomers could check out a dozen albums for the cost of buy­ing a sin­gle one of them, then go home and copy them all to their Mini­Discs. Ver­i­ta­bly print­ing mon­ey, Sony and oth­er Mini­Disc hard­ware man­u­fac­tur­ers came to the defense of music-rental chains when the dis­pleased Japan­ese record indus­try took them to court. By the time the issue was set­tled, Mini­Disc had already entrenched itself in the Japan­ese mar­ket to the point that its devices sur­passed CD play­ers in sales.

Con­fused by the sud­den pre­pon­der­ance of options, most of them pricey and of uncer­tain val­ue, Amer­i­can music con­sumers of the ear­ly 1990s stuck with what they knew: the high-qual­i­ty CD for home lis­ten­ing, and the “good-enough” ana­log cas­sette tape else­where. In the world of pro­fes­sion­al audio, and espe­cial­ly among radio pro­duc­ers, the flex­i­bil­i­ty, reli­a­bil­i­ty, con­ve­nience, and clar­i­ty of Mini­Disc proved unde­ni­able. But nev­er cheap or wide­spread enough for the aver­age lis­ten­er, nor quite high-fideli­ty enough for the exact­ing audio­phile, it spent most of its life in the West as a niche prod­uct. Today, a decade after its dis­con­tin­u­a­tion, the his­to­ry of tech­nol­o­gy has come to rec­og­nize Mini­Disc as the evo­lu­tion­ary link between the Walk­man and the iPod, each of which rev­o­lu­tion­ized the way we lis­ten to music. And what with the new­ly retro appeal of 1990s tech­nol­o­gy, its aes­thet­ic stock has nev­er been high­er.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Sto­ry of How Beethoven Helped Make It So That CDs Could Play 74 Min­utes of Music

All Praise Lou Ottens: The Inven­tor of the Cas­sette Tape Dies at Age 94

Home Tap­ing Is Killing Music: When the Music Indus­try Waged War on the Cas­sette Tape in the 1980s, and Punk Bands Fought Back

A Cel­e­bra­tion of Retro Media: Vinyl, Cas­settes, VHS, and Polaroid Too

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 or on Face­book.

The Captivating Art of Restoring Vintage Guitars

Men­tion the Mar­tin D‑28 and you need say no more to fans of folk, coun­try, rock and roll, coun­try-rock, folk-rock, coun­try-folk, etc. Elvis, Dylan, Joni Mitchell, John­ny Cash, Hank Williams, Neil Young… all played one. (Neil, in fact, owns Hank’s gui­tar, and calls it “Hank.”) It is the stan­dard against which all “Dreadnought”-style gui­tars are mea­sured, because it was the first, and is still, arguably, the best. Named after the Roy­al British Navy’s HMS Dread­nought, a famous ves­sel that “spawned a new class of bat­tle­ships around the world,” writes Daryl Nerl, the larg­er-bod­ied D‑28 (D for “Dread­nought”), first arrived in 1917, at a time when small par­lor gui­tar and ukule­les were the norm.

The D‑28 has lived up to its name, says Jason Ahn­er, C.F. Mar­tin & Co.’s archivist. “If you were on that ship, you wouldn’t fear any­thing else and if you were play­ing that gui­tar you wouldn’t fear not being heard over a ban­jo or anoth­er instru­ment.” Built like bat­tle­ships, D‑28s don’t only take up space in an ensem­ble, they fill a room per­fect­ly well on their own, with del­i­cate fin­ger­picked fig­ures or big boom­ing strums. The D‑28 flopped on arrival but explod­ed in pop­u­lar­i­ty after it was adver­tised in 1935 as a “bass gui­tar,” before such things as bass gui­tars exist­ed.

As more and more folk and coun­try play­ers fell for the D‑28’s square shoul­ders, broad waist, and rich, almost sym­phon­ic, tonal range, the gui­tar became an object no play­er, once they got their  hands on one, would part with eas­i­ly, or ever. Repair­ing and main­tain­ing vin­tage Mar­tins, how­ev­er, is a del­i­cate busi­ness that requires an inti­mate under­stand­ing of the guitar’s con­struc­tion. Not every luthi­er is up to the task, but as you can see in the video above, Nor­we­gian gui­tar­mak­er Lars Dalin has the expe­ri­ence, patience, and know-how to dis­as­sem­ble and restore one head (and neck) to tail.

Dalin’s D‑28 restora­tion video should not only inter­est stu­dents of gui­tar repair. In it, we learn about the spe­cial fea­tures of Martin’s build that give the instru­ment its spe­cial tonal qual­i­ties, those we’ve been danc­ing and cry­ing to for over a cen­tu­ry. For those more inter­est­ed in elec­tric gui­tars, Dalin presents a refret and restora­tion of anoth­er Amer­i­can clas­sic — one that also didn’t get its due at first, but has since become an icon: the Fend­er Jazzmas­ter. Intro­duced in 1958, the gui­tars did­n’t catch on until the 1970s when they could be picked up cheap­ly at pawn shops by punk and new wave pio­neers like Tele­vi­sion and Elvis Costel­lo. The 1960 mod­el above is a joy to behold, and a les­son in gui­tar build­ing, repair, engi­neer­ing, like no oth­er. See more of Dal­in’s gui­tar restora­tion projects on his Insta­gram.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Watch a Luthi­er Birth a Cel­lo in This Hyp­not­ic Doc­u­men­tary

How to Build a Cus­tom Hand­craft­ed Acoustic Gui­tar from Start to Fin­ish: The Process Revealed in a Fas­ci­nat­ing Doc­u­men­tary

Repair­ing Willie Nelson’s Trig­ger: A Good Look at How a Luthi­er Gets America’s Most Icon­ic Gui­tar on the Road Again

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

David Bowie on Why It’s Crazy to Make Art–and We Do It Anyway (1998)

Art is use­less, Oscar Wilde declared. Yet faced with, say, a paint­ing by Kandin­sky, film by Mal­ick, or great work by David Bowie, we may feel it “impos­si­ble to escape the impres­sion,” as Sig­mund Freud wrote, “that peo­ple com­mon­ly use false stan­dards of mea­sure­ment — that they seek pow­er, suc­cess and wealth for them­selves and admire them in oth­ers, and that they under­es­ti­mate what is of true val­ue in life.” How­ev­er ambigu­ous­ly, art can move us beyond the self­ish bound­aries of the ego to con­nect with intan­gi­bles beyond ideas of use and use­less­ness.

That expe­ri­ence of con­nect­ed­ness, what Freud called the “ocean­ic,” stim­u­lat­ed by a work of art can mir­ror the sub­lime feel­ings awak­ened by nature. “A work of art is use­less as a flower is use­less,” Wilde clar­i­fied in a let­ter to a per­plexed read­er. “A flower blooms for its own joy. We gain a moment of joy by look­ing at it. That is all that is to be said about our rela­tions to flow­ers.” It’s an imper­fect anal­o­gy. The flower serves quite anoth­er pur­pose for the bee, and for the plant.  “All of this is I fear very obscure,” Wilde admits.

The point being, from the point of view of bare sur­vival, art makes no sense. “It’s a loony kind of thing to want to do,” says Bowie him­self, in the inter­view clip above from a 1998 appear­ance on The Char­lie Rose Show. “I think the san­er and ratio­nal approach to life is to sur­vive stead­fast­ly and cre­ate a pro­tec­tive home and cre­ate a warm lov­ing envi­ron­ment for one’s fam­i­ly and get food for them. That’s about it. Any­thing else is extra. All cul­ture is extra…. It’s unnec­es­sary and it’s a sign of the irra­tional part of man. We should just be con­tent with pick­ing nuts.”

Why are we not con­tent with pick­ing nuts? Per­haps most of us are. Per­haps “being an artist,” Bowie won­ders “is a sign of a cer­tain kind of dys­func­tion, of social dys­func­tion­al­ism any­way. It’s an extra­or­di­nary thing to do, to express your­self in such… in such rar­i­fied terms.” It’s a Wildean obser­va­tion, but one Bowie does not make to stig­ma­tize indi­vid­u­als. As Rose remarks, he has “always resist­ed the idea that this cre­ativ­i­ty that you have comes from any form of dys­func­tion or… mad­ness.” Per­haps instead it is the mar­ket that is dys­func­tion­al, Bowie sug­gests in a 1996 inter­view, just above, with Rose and Julian Schn­abel.

Art may serve no prac­ti­cal pur­pose in an ordi­nary sense, but it is not only the prove­nance of sin­gu­lar genius­es. “Once it falls into the hands of the pro­le­tari­at,” says Bowie, “that the abil­i­ty to make art is inher­ent in all of us, that demol­ish­es the idea of art and com­merce, and that’s no good for busi­ness.” Wilde also saw art and com­merce in fun­da­men­tal ten­sion. “Of course man may sell the flower, and so make it use­ful to him,” he wrote. “But this has noth­ing to do with the flower. It is not part of its essence. It is acci­den­tal. It is a mis­use,” an arti­fi­cial ele­va­tion and enclo­sure, says Bowie, of expres­sions that belong to every­one.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Bowie’s Book­shelf: A New Essay Col­lec­tion on The 100 Books That Changed David Bowie’s Life

When David Bowie Launched His Own Inter­net Ser­vice Provider: The Rise and Fall of BowieNet (1998)

David Bowie Songs Reimag­ined as Pulp Fic­tion Book Cov­ers: Space Odd­i­ty, Heroes, Life on Mars & More

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

AI & X‑Rays Recover Lost Artworks Underneath Paintings by Picasso & Modigliani

You see above a paint­ing by Amedeo Modigliani, a por­trait of the artist’s lover Beat­rice Hast­ings, unseen by the pub­lic until its redis­cov­ery just this year. Or at any rate, some see that: in anoth­er sense, the image is a new or almost-new artis­tic cre­ation, based on X‑rays of Modiglian­i’s Por­trait of a GirlUnder­neath the paint that makes up that cel­e­brat­ed work lie traces enough to estab­lish the pres­ence of a dif­fer­ent, ear­li­er one beneath. But only now, after the employ­ment of neur­al net­works fed with enough of the artist’s acknowl­edged work to rec­og­nize and repli­cate his sig­na­ture style, do we have a sense of what it could have looked like.

“Antho­ny Bourached and George Cann, both PhD can­di­dates, are head­ing the ‘Neo­Mas­ters’ project through a com­pa­ny called Oxia Palus,” writes The Guardian’s Dalya Alberge. “They have ambi­tious plans to redis­cov­er fur­ther hid­den paint­ings on can­vas­es that were reused by artists, who were per­haps too impov­er­ished to buy sup­plies or dis­sat­is­fied with ini­tial com­po­si­tions.”

Modigliani was cer­tain­ly impe­cu­nious enough to have done so more than once, and his rela­tion­ship with Hast­ings — a long affair that was volatile even by the stan­dards of the ear­ly 20th-cen­tu­ry Parisian bohemia they inhab­it­ed — did pro­vide mate­r­i­al for oth­er por­traits.

Spe­cial­ists, respec­tive­ly, in neu­ro­science and the sur­face of Mars (their com­pa­ny’s name refers to a region of that plan­et), Bourached and Cann have proven enter­pris­ing in this art-ori­ent­ed endeav­or. “A 3D-print­ed phys­i­cal ren­der­ing of their cre­ation, com­plete with com­put­er-sim­u­lat­ed ‘brush­strokes’ and tex­ture, will soon go on dis­play at London’s Leben­son Gallery as part of the duo’s ‘Neo­Mas­ters’ project,” writes Nora McGreevy at Ear­li­er this year, McGreevy also cov­ered Oxia Palus’ dig­i­tal­ly assist­ed recov­ery of a Barcelona land­scape pos­si­bly paint­ed by the Span­ish poet, play­wright, and artist San­ti­a­go Rusiñol — before it was paint­ed over by Pablo Picas­so.

This dis­cov­ery actu­al­ly goes back to 1992, when con­ser­va­tors first deter­mined the exis­tence of anoth­er image beneath Picas­so’s lit­tle-known La Mis­éreuse accroupie, or The Crouch­ing Beg­gar. “Researchers sus­pect that Picas­so used the moun­tains in Rusiñol’s land­scape to shape the con­tours of his female subject’s back,” writes McGreevy. “A 2018 X‑ray of that less­er-known work by the Art Gallery of Toron­to pro­vid­ed Oxia Palus what they need­ed to start work on their A.I.-assisted recre­ation. Not only did Bourached and Cann 3D print 100 phys­i­cal copies of the final prod­uct, they linked each one to a unique non-fun­gi­ble token (NFT), the new kind of dig­i­tal arti­fact that has become some­thing of a craze in the art world — sure­ly an unimag­in­able after­life for these images Modigliani and Picas­so must have assumed they’d oblit­er­at­ed for good.

via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Orig­i­nal Por­trait of the Mona Lisa Found Beneath the Paint Lay­ers of da Vinci’s Mas­ter­piece

Sci­en­tists Cre­ate a New Rem­brandt Paint­ing, Using a 3D Print­er & Data Analy­sis of Rembrandt’s Body of Work

Short Film Takes You Inside the Recov­ery of Andy Warhol’s Lost Com­put­er Art

A 10 Bil­lion Pix­el Scan of Vermeer’s Mas­ter­piece Girl with a Pearl Ear­ring: Explore It Online

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 or on Face­book.

British Actor Bob Hoskins Helped Thousands Learn to Read in On the Move, a 1970s “Sesame Street for Adults”

British char­ac­ter actor Bob Hoskins has been remem­bered for “play­ing Amer­i­cans bet­ter than Amer­i­cans,” as USA Today wrote when Hoskins passed away in 2014. Char­ac­ters like Who Framed Roger Rab­bit?’s Eddie Valiant, Nixon’s J. Edgar Hoover, and The Cot­ton Club’s Owney Mad­den stand out as some of his best per­for­mances in Hol­ly­wood. But he began his career in British film and tele­vi­sion, play­ing cops and gang­sters. Helen Mir­ren, who starred oppo­site him in his first major role, The Long Good Fri­day, and onstage in The Duchess of Mal­fi, penned a glow­ing trib­ute for The Guardian. “Lon­don,” she wrote, “will miss one of her best and most lov­ing sons, and Britain will miss a man to be proud of.”

Mirren’s sen­ti­ments were echoed by British actors every­where. Shane Mead­ows called him “the most gen­er­ous actor I have ever worked with.” Stephen Wool­ley described Hoskins as a work­ing-class hero. “With his tal­ent, Bob gate­crashed the world of celebri­ty, and made all of us ordi­nary peo­ple feel a lit­tle bet­ter about our­selves.” It was a role he was seem­ing­ly born to play, despite his range. Hoskins was “a great actor,” writes Wool­ley, “yet unlike many actors he was first and fore­most a cour­te­ous, sweet and car­ing human being. He could make mon­sters human and wring a smile out of any sit­u­a­tion with­out a whisker of embar­rass­ment.”

Those are the very qual­i­ties that endeared view­ers to Hoskins’ first break­out char­ac­ter, Alf Hunt, a fur­ni­ture removal man who strug­gled with read­ing and writ­ing in On the Move, a kind of “Sesame Street for adults” that ran in 1976 on the BBC. The 10-minute shorts ran on Sun­day after­noons “as part of the BBC’s adult edu­ca­tion remit,” Mark Law­son writes at The Guardian. Hoskins’ per­for­mance brought to life for view­ers “a proud man who has des­per­ate­ly dis­guised his learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties.” It met a seri­ous need among the nation’s pop­u­lace.

“The show attract­ed 17 mil­lion view­ers a week, (way beyond the size of its tar­get audi­ence),” notes a MetaFil­ter user. On the Move “helped make Hoskins famous. It was also respon­si­ble for per­suad­ing 70,000 peo­ple to sign up for adult lit­er­a­cy pro­grammes.” Hoskins trea­sured the let­ters he received from view­ers who decid­ed to change their lives after see­ing the show. They may well have done so because he gave his all to the char­ac­ter, as Law­son writes:

Hand­ed a work­ing-class stereo­type (not for the last time in his career), Hoskins gave Alf a vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty and poignan­cy far beyond the require­ments of a pub­lic infor­ma­tion short. Apart from its intend­ed audi­ence of adults strug­gling with read­ing and writ­ing, On the Move gained a large sec­ondary fol­low­ing among lit­er­ate view­ers because, even then, Hoskins’ expres­sive face and grow­ly voice made you want to watch and lis­ten.

In each episode, Alf revealed his strug­gles to his friend Bert, played by Don­ald Gee. The show also fea­tured inspir­ing inter­views with adults who had tak­en adult lit­er­a­cy class­es and appear­ances by spe­cial guest stars like Patri­cia Hayes and Mar­tin Shaw (who both appear in the episode at the top). While oth­er famous actors may dis­own ear­ly tele­vi­sion work, Hoskins nev­er did. On the Move “shared the qual­i­ties of his best stuff. Where­as most footage in Before They Were Famous type shows is cal­cu­lat­ed to be bathet­ic or embar­rass­ing,” Hoskins’ ear­li­est work does quite the oppo­site, explain­ing why he “went on to become the star he did.”

On the Move may also have earned Hoskins anoth­er title, one he might have cher­ished as much as any act­ing plau­dit. George Auck­land, who lat­er direct­ed the BBC’s adult edu­ca­tion pro­gram, called him “the best edu­ca­tor Britain has pro­duced” because of his wide reach among adults strug­gling with lit­er­a­cy in 1970s Britain. See an episode of On the Move at the top of the post and hear what com­menters call “the catchi­est theme song ever” just above.

via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

How to Read Many More Books in a Year: Watch a Short Doc­u­men­tary Fea­tur­ing Some of the World’s Most Beau­ti­ful Book­stores

Grow­ing Up Sur­round­ed by Books Has a Last­ing Pos­i­tive Effect on the Brain, Says a New Sci­en­tif­ic Study

Take The Near Impos­si­ble Lit­er­a­cy Test Louisiana Used to Sup­press the Black Vote (1964)

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

Google’s UX Design Professional Certificate: 7 Courses Will Help Prepare Students for an Entry-Level Job in 6 Months

Dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, Google launched a series of Career Cer­tifi­cates that will “pre­pare learn­ers for an entry-lev­el role in under six months.” One such cer­tifi­cate focus­es on User Expe­ri­ence Design, or what’s called UX Design, the process design teams use to cre­ate prod­ucts that pro­vide mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ences to users.

Offered on the Cours­era plat­form, the User Expe­ri­ence (UX) Design Pro­fes­sion­al Cer­tifi­cate fea­tures sev­en cours­es, includ­ing the Foun­da­tions of User Expe­ri­ence, Start the UX Design Process, Build Wire­frames and Low-Fideli­ty Pro­to­types, and Con­duct UX Research and Test Ear­ly Con­cepts. In total, this pro­gram “includes over 200 hours of instruc­tion and hun­dreds of prac­tice-based activ­i­ties and assess­ments that sim­u­late real-world UX design sce­nar­ios and are crit­i­cal for suc­cess in the work­place. The con­tent is high­ly inter­ac­tive and devel­oped by Google employ­ees with decades of expe­ri­ence in UX design.” Upon com­ple­tion, stu­dents can direct­ly apply for jobs with Google and over 130 U.S. employ­ers, includ­ing Wal­mart, Best Buy, and Astreya. You can start a 7‑day free tri­al and explore the cours­es. If you con­tin­ue beyond that, Google/Coursera will charge $39 USD per month. That trans­lates to about $235 after 6 months.

Explore the User Expe­ri­ence (UX) Design Pro­fes­sion­al Cer­tifi­cate by watch­ing the video above. Learn more about the over­all Google career cer­tifi­cate ini­tia­tive here. And find oth­er Google pro­fes­sion­al cer­tifi­cates here.

The new cer­tifi­cates have been added to our col­lec­tion, 200 Online Cer­tifi­cate & Micro­cre­den­tial Pro­grams from Lead­ing Uni­ver­si­ties & Com­pa­nies.

Note: Open Cul­ture has a part­ner­ship with Cours­era. If read­ers enroll in cer­tain Cours­era cours­es and pro­grams, it helps sup­port Open Cul­ture.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Online Degrees & Mini Degrees: Explore Mas­ters, Mini Mas­ters, Bach­e­lors & Mini Bach­e­lors from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

Google Intro­duces 6‑Month Career Cer­tifi­cates, Threat­en­ing to Dis­rupt High­er Edu­ca­tion with “the Equiv­a­lent of a Four-Year Degree”

Cours­era and Google Launch an Online Cer­tifi­cate Pro­gram to Help Stu­dents Become IT Pro­fes­sion­als & Get Attrac­tive Jobs

Discover Ikaria, the Greek Island With the Oldest Life Expectancy in the World

Boil­er­plate human inter­est sto­ries about the habits of par­tic­u­lar­ly spry cen­te­nar­i­ans just don’t cut it any­more. Liv­ing a long, healthy, and hap­py life, we know, involves more than mak­ing the right indi­vid­ual choic­es. It means liv­ing in soci­eties that make good choic­es read­i­ly avail­able and sup­port the indi­vid­u­als mak­ing them. Nutri­tion research has borne this out — just scan the lat­est pop­u­lar food book titles for the word “Mediter­ranean,” for exam­ple, or input the same search term in an aca­d­e­m­ic data­base, and you’ll pull up hun­dreds of results. Even fad diets have shift­ed from pro­mot­ing indi­vid­ual celebri­ties to cel­e­brat­ing whole regions.

Sci­en­tists have iden­ti­fied a hand­ful of places around the world, in fact, where diet and oth­er ordi­nary lifestyle and social fac­tors have led to the out­comes gov­ern­ments spend bil­lions try­ing, and fail­ing, to achieve. One of these regions is — yes — square­ly in the Mediter­ranean, the Greek island of Ikaria, “named one of the health­i­est places on earth,” writes Greek City Times, “a spot of excep­tion­al longevi­ty. Here, there are more healthy peo­ple over 90 than any oth­er place on the plan­et.” Ikaria is just one of five so-called “Blue Zones” — which also include Sar­dinia, Italy, Oki­nawa, Japan, Nicoya, Cos­ta Rica, and Loma Lin­da, Cal­i­for­nia — where inhab­i­tants reg­u­lar­ly live healthy lives into their 90s and beyond.

In the Vice video above, you can meet some of the res­i­dents of Ikaria, where 1 in 3 peo­ple live past 90, and learn about some of the fac­tors that con­tribute to long life in blue zones, and in Ikaria in par­tic­u­lar. Great weath­er does­n’t hurt. Most impor­tant, how­ev­er, is local, fresh food, and lots of it. “The most impor­tant thing is the food,” says an Ikar­i­an cook as she pre­pares a batch of fresh-caught fish. “Because you live with it. You eat the right way, every­thing works the right way.” This is a much bet­ter way of say­ing “you are what you eat.” As Max Fish­er points out in a bul­let­ed list of the Greek Island’s “secrets to long life,” things “work­ing the right way” plays a huge role in longevi­ty.

Not only do old­er peo­ple in Ikaria walk every­where and con­tin­ue work­ing into their elder­ly years – hap­pi­ly but not under duress – they also report very healthy sex lives, part of a net­work of habits that social­ly rein­force each oth­er, Fish­er writes. Hear Ikar­i­an res­i­dents above con­trast their lives on the island with their lives in fast-paced mod­ern cities where they trad­ed health and well­be­ing for more mon­ey. Read Fisher’s full list (excerpt­ed below) at The Wash­ing­ton Post.

1) Plen­ty of rest.

2) An herbal diet.

3) Very lit­tle sug­ar, white flour, or meat.

4) Mediter­ranean diet.

5) No processed food.

6) Reg­u­lar nap­ping.

7) Healthy sex lives after 65.

8) Stay busy and involved.

9) Yes, exer­cise.

10) Lit­tle stress of any kind.

11) “Mutu­al­ly rein­forc­ing” habits.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

10 Longevi­ty Tips from Dr. Shigea­ki Hino­hara, Japan’s 105-Year-Old Longevi­ty Expert

How to Live to Be 100 and Beyond: 9 Diet & Lifestyle Tips

Book Read­ers Live Longer Lives, Accord­ing to New Study from Yale Uni­ver­si­ty

Life Lessons From 100-Year-Olds: Time­less Advice in a Short Film

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

Buddhist Monk Sings The Ramones: “Rock ’n’ Roll High School,” “Teenage Lobotomy” & “Beat on the Brat”

The Ramones restored speed and sim­plic­i­ty to 70s rock. It’s rare to find a Ramones tune clock­ing in over three min­utes. The sweet spot’s clos­er to 2 1/2.

“We play short songs and short sets for peo­ple who don’t have a lot of spare time,” orig­i­nal drum­mer Tom­my Ramone remarked.

It took them all of 2 min­utes and 20 sec­onds to bomb through their sin­gle for “Rock ’n’ Roll High School.”

So why does Japan­ese Bud­dhist monk Kos­san’s cov­er take more than twice that long?

Because med­i­ta­tion is an inte­gral part of his music video prac­tice.

Kos­san, aka Kazu­ta­ka Yama­da, plays drums, piano, and san­shin, and intro­duces a Tibetan singing bowl into his Ramones trib­utes.

His cov­er of 1976’s “Beat on the Brat” runs a whop­ping nine min­utes and 15 sec­onds — a mind­ful approach to punk, and vice ver­sa.

By com­par­i­son, “Weird Al” Yankovic’s accor­dion-enhanced cov­er hews far clos­er to the orig­i­nal adding just six sec­onds to the Ramones’ 2:30 time frame.

Kos­san cut most of the med­i­ta­tion from “Teenage Lobot­o­my,” his ear­li­est Ramones cov­er.

We’re glad he com­mit­ted to pre­serv­ing this ele­ment in sub­se­quent uploads, includ­ing his takes on Metallica’s “Enter Sand­man” and the Bea­t­les’ “Yel­low Sub­ma­rine.”

It fur­thers his mis­sion as a zazen teacher, and patient view­ers will be reward­ed with his bright smile in the final sec­onds as he resumes his dis­course with the larg­er world.

You can hear Kos­san play san­shin and more of his West­ern rock cov­ers on his YouTube chan­nel.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

A Beat­box­ing Bud­dhist Monk Cre­ates Music for Med­i­ta­tion

Bud­dhist Monk Cov­ers Judas Priest’s “Break­ing the Law,” Then Breaks Into Med­i­ta­tion

How Tibetan Monks Use Med­i­ta­tion to Raise Their Periph­er­al Body Tem­per­a­ture 16–17 Degrees

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

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