Wes Anderson Goes Sci-Fi in 1950s America: Watch the Trailer for His New Film Asteroid City

Wes Ander­son has been mak­ing fea­ture films for 27 years now, and in that time his work has grown more tem­po­ral­ly and geo­graph­i­cal­ly spe­cif­ic. Though shot in his native Texas in the late nine­teen-nineties, his break­out pic­ture Rush­more seemed to take place in no one part of the Unit­ed States — and even more strik­ing­ly, no one iden­ti­fi­able era. Few film­go­ers had seen any­thing like Ander­son­’s clean-edged retro sen­si­bil­i­ty before, and in sub­se­quent projects like The Roy­al Tenen­baums and The Life Aquat­ic with Steve Zis­sou, it inten­si­fied con­sid­er­ably. Then, in 2012, came Moon­rise King­dom, which took the Ander­son­ian aes­thet­ic to a par­tic­u­lar time and place: New Eng­land in the fall of 1965.

Since then, Ander­son and his col­lab­o­ra­tors have told sto­ries in their dis­tinc­tive visions of East­ern Europe, Japan, and France — but always, explic­it­ly or implic­it­ly, in one peri­od or anoth­er of the mid-twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. Judg­ing by its new­ly released trail­er, the events of Ander­son­’s next film Aster­oid City occur in per­haps the most mid-twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry year imag­in­able, 1955, and in small-town Amer­i­ca at that.

Or rather, very small-town Amer­i­ca: Aster­oid City itself appears to be locat­ed in the mid­dle of the Ari­zona desert (though shot in Spain, in keep­ing with Ander­son­’s increas­ing­ly Europe-ori­ent­ed pro­duc­tion habits), and with noth­ing more excit­ing going on — apart from the occa­sion­al dis­tant nuclear-weapons test — than an annu­al “junior stargaz­er com­pe­ti­tion.”

The film “tells the sto­ry of a belea­guered wid­ow­er (Jason Schwartz­man) who’s busy schlep­ping his four chil­dren across the coun­try to see their grand­fa­ther (Tom Han­ks) when their car sud­den­ly breaks down,” writes The Verge’s Charles Pul­liam-More. This strands the fam­i­ly in the tit­u­lar town, with its “strange earth­quakes that no one knows the true cause of, fears about whether aliens might be lurk­ing among the humans liv­ing in Aster­oid City, and mul­ti­ple sight­ings of a celebri­ty (Scar­lett Johans­son).” As fans can already guess from this sum­ma­ry, the ensem­ble cast includes more than a few Ander­son reg­u­lars, also includ­ing Edward Nor­ton, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Gold­blum, and Bob Bal­a­ban. A case of COVID-19 kept Bill Mur­ray from par­tic­i­pat­ing, but even so, nobody who sees the trail­er can doubt that the view­ing expe­ri­ence of Aster­oid City will be high­ly Ander­son­ian indeed.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Wes Ander­son Explains How He Writes and Directs Movies, and What Goes Into His Dis­tinc­tive Film­mak­ing Style

Why Do Wes Ander­son Movies Look Like That?

Wes Anderson’s Shorts Films & Com­mer­cials: A Playlist of 8 Short Ander­son­ian Works

The Per­fect Sym­me­try of Wes Anderson’s Movies

Wes Ander­son & Yasu­jiro Ozu: New Video Essay Reveals the Unex­pect­ed Par­al­lels Between Two Great Film­mak­ers

Wes Anderson’s Break­through Film, Rush­more, Revis­it­ed in Five Video Essays: It Came Out 20 Years Ago Today

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.

Carl Sagan Explains How the Ancient Greeks, Using Reason & Math, Discovered That the Earth Isn’t Flat Over 2,000 Years Ago

The denial of sci­ence suf­fus­es Amer­i­can soci­ety, and no mat­ter what the data says, some con­ser­v­a­tive forces refuse efforts to cur­tail, or even study, cli­mate change. Astro­physi­cist Katie Mack calls this retrench­ment a form of “data nihilism,” writ­ing in an exas­per­at­ed tweet, “What is sci­ence? How can a thing be known? Is any­thing even real???” Indeed, what can we expect next from what Isaac Asi­mov called the Unit­ed States’ anti-intel­lec­tu­al “cult of igno­rance”? A flat earth lob­by?

Welp… at least a cou­ple celebri­ty fig­ures have come out as flat-earth­ers, per­haps the van­guard of an anti-round earth move­ment. Notably, [Dal­las Mav­er­icks] guard Kyrie Irv­ing made the claim on a pod­cast, insist­ing, Chris Matyszczyk writes, that “we were being lied to about such basic things by the glob­al elites.” Is this a joke? I hope so. Neil DeGrasse Tyson—who host­ed the recent Cos­mos remake to try and dis­pel such sci­en­tif­ic ignorance—replied all the same, not­ing that Irv­ing should “stay away from jobs that require… under­stand­ing of the nat­ur­al world.” The weird affair has played out like a sideshow next to the main­stage polit­i­cal cir­cus, an unset­tling reminder of Carl Sagan’s pre­dic­tion in his last book, The Demon Haunt­ed World, that Amer­i­cans would soon find their “crit­i­cal fac­ul­ties in decline, unable to dis­tin­guish between what feels good and what’s true.”

Sagan devot­ed much of his life to coun­ter­ing anti-sci­ence trends with warmth and enthu­si­asm, park­ing him­self “repeat­ed­ly, arguably com­pul­sive­ly, in front of TV cam­eras,” writes Joel Achen­bach at Smith­son­ian. We most remem­ber him for his orig­i­nal 1980 Cos­mos minis­eries, his most pub­lic role as a “gate­keep­er of sci­en­tif­ic cred­i­bil­i­ty,” as Achen­bach calls him. I think Sagan may have chafed at the descrip­tion. He want­ed to open the gates and let the pub­lic into sci­en­tif­ic inquiry. He char­i­ta­bly lis­tened to unsci­en­tif­ic the­o­ries, and patient­ly took the time to explain their flaws.

In the very first episode of Cos­mos, Sagan addressed the flat-earth­ers, indi­rect­ly, by explain­ing how Eratos­thenes (276–194 BC), a Libyan-Greek schol­ar and chief librar­i­an at the Library of Alexan­dria, dis­cov­ered over 2000 years ago that the earth is a sphere. Giv­en the geo­g­ra­ph­er, math­e­mati­cian, poet, his­to­ri­an, and astronomer’s incred­i­ble list of accomplishments—a sys­tem of lat­i­tude and lon­gi­tude, a map of the world, a sys­tem for find­ing prime numbers—this may not even rank as his high­est achieve­ment.

In the Cos­mos clip above, Sagan explains Eratos­thenes’ sci­en­tif­ic method: he made obser­va­tions of how shad­ows change length giv­en the posi­tion of the sun in the sky. Esti­mat­ing the dis­tance between the cities of Syene and Alexan­dria, he was then able to math­e­mat­i­cal­ly cal­cu­late the cir­cum­fer­ence of the earth, as Cyn­thia Stokes Brown explains at Khan Acad­e­my. Although “sev­er­al sources of error crept into Eratos­thenes’ cal­cu­la­tions and our inter­pre­ta­tion of them,” he nonethe­less suc­ceed­ed almost per­fect­ly. His esti­ma­tion: 250,000 sta­dia, or 25,000 miles. The actu­al cir­cum­fer­ence: 24,860 miles (40.008 kilo­me­ters).

No, of course the Earth isn’t flat. But Sagan’s les­son on how one sci­en­tist from antiq­ui­ty came to know that isn’t an exer­cise in debunk­ing. It’s a jour­ney into the move­ment of the solar sys­tem, into ancient sci­en­tif­ic his­to­ry, and most impor­tant­ly, per­haps, into the sci­en­tif­ic method, which does not rely on hearsay from “glob­al elites” or shad­owy fig­ures, but on the tools of obser­va­tion, infer­ence, rea­son­ing, and math. Pro­fes­sion­al sci­en­tists are not with­out their bias­es and con­flicts of inter­est, but the most fun­da­men­tal intel­lec­tu­al tools they use are avail­able to every­one on Earth.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2017. This ver­sion has been light­ly edit­ed and updat­ed.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Carl Sagan Pre­dicts the Decline of Amer­i­ca: Unable to Know “What’s True,” We Will Slide, “With­out Notic­ing, Back into Super­sti­tion & Dark­ness” (1995)

Hear Carl Sagan Art­ful­ly Refute a Cre­ation­ist on a Talk Radio Show: “The Dar­win­ian Con­cept of Evo­lu­tion is Pro­found­ly Ver­i­fied”

Carl Sagan Presents His “Baloney Detec­tion Kit”: 8 Tools for Skep­ti­cal Think­ing


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

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David Byrne Explains How the “Big Suit” He Wore in Stop Making Sense Was Inspired by Japanese Kabuki Theatre

In the nine­teen-sev­en­ties and eight­ies, the name of David Byrne’s band was Talk­ing Heads — as the title of their 1982 live album per­pet­u­al­ly reminds us. But their over­all artis­tic project arguably had less to do with the head than the body, a propo­si­tion mem­o­rably under­scored in Stop Mak­ing Sense, the Jonathan Demme-direct­ed con­cert film that came out two years lat­er. “Music is very phys­i­cal and often the body under­stands it before the head,” Byrne says in a bizarre con­tem­po­rary self-inter­view pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture. To make that fact vis­i­ble onstage, “I want­ed my head to appear small­er, and the eas­i­est way to do that was to make my body big­ger.”

Hence cos­tume design­er Gail Black­er’s cre­ation of what Talk­ing Heads fans have long referred to as the “big suit.” Byrne has always been will­ing dis­cuss its ori­gins, which he traces back to a trip to Japan. There, as he put it to Enter­tain­ment Week­ly in 2012, he’d “seen a lot of tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese the­ater, and I real­ized that yes, that kind of front-fac­ing out­line, a suit, a businessman’s suit, looked like one of those things, a rec­tan­gle with just a head on top.”

A friend of his, the fash­ion design­er Jur­gen Lehl, said that “every­thing is big­ger on stage.” “He was refer­ring to, I think, ges­tures and the way you walk and what not,” Byrne told David Let­ter­man in 1984. But he took it lit­er­al­ly, think­ing, “Well, that solves my cos­tume prob­lem right there.”

Though Byrne only wore the big suit for one num­ber, “Girl­friend Is Bet­ter” (from whose lyrics Stop Mak­ing Sense takes its title), it became the acclaimed film’s sin­gle most icon­ic ele­ment, ref­er­enced even in chil­dren’s car­toons. New York­er crit­ic Pauline Kael called it “a per­fect psy­cho­log­i­cal fit,” remark­ing that “when he dances, it isn’t as if he were mov­ing the suit — the suit seems to move him.” The asso­ci­a­tion has­n’t been with­out its frus­tra­tions; he once spec­u­lat­ed that his tomb­stone would be inscribed with the phrase “Here lies David Byrne. Why the big suit?” But now that Stop Mak­ing Sense is return­ing to the­aters in a new 4K restora­tion, near­ly 40 years after its first release, he’s accept­ed that the time has final­ly come to pick it up from the clean­er’s. Unsur­pris­ing­ly, it still fits.

Relat­ed con­tent:

A Brief His­to­ry of Talk­ing Heads: How the Band Went from Scrap­py CBGB’s Punks to New Wave Super­stars

An Intro­duc­tion to Japan­ese Kabu­ki The­atre, Fea­tur­ing 20th-Cen­tu­ry Mas­ters of the Form (1964)

How Talk­ing Heads and Bri­an Eno Wrote “Once in a Life­time”: Cut­ting Edge, Strange & Utter­ly Bril­liant

Japan­ese Kabu­ki Actors Cap­tured in 18th-Cen­tu­ry Wood­block Prints by the Mys­te­ri­ous & Mas­ter­ful Artist Sharaku

How Jonathan Demme Put Human­i­ty Into His Films: From The Silence of the Lambs to Stop Mak­ing Sense

Talk­ing Heads Live in Rome, 1980: The Con­cert Film You Haven’t Seen

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 Complete “Everything is a Remix”: An Hour-Long Testament to the Brilliance & Beauty of Human Creativity

Let me quote myself: “From 2010 to 2012, film­mak­er Kir­by Fer­gu­son released Every­thing is a Remix, a four-part series that explored art and cre­ativ­i­ty, and par­tic­u­lar­ly how artists inevitably bor­row from one anoth­er, draw on past ideas and con­ven­tions, and then turn these mate­ri­als into some­thing beau­ti­ful and new. In the ini­tial series, Fer­gu­son focused on musi­cians, film­mak­ers, writ­ers and even video game mak­ers. Now, a lit­tle more than a decade lat­er, Fer­gu­son has resur­faced and released a fifth and final chap­ter in his series, with this episode focus­ing on a dif­fer­ent kind of artist: arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence.” Above, you can watch the com­plete edi­tion of “Every­thing is a Remix,” with all parts com­bined into a sin­gle, hour-long video. A tran­script of the entire pro­duc­tion can be found here. Watch. Pon­der. Cre­ate.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent 

The Long Game of Cre­ativ­i­ty: If You Haven’t Cre­at­ed a Mas­ter­piece at 30, You’re Not a Fail­ure

David Lynch Explains How Med­i­ta­tion Enhances Our Cre­ativ­i­ty

Mal­colm McLaren: The Quest for Authen­tic Cre­ativ­i­ty

Mihaly Czik­szent­mi­ha­lyi Explains Why the Source of Hap­pi­ness Lies in Cre­ativ­i­ty and Flow, Not Mon­ey


Enroll Today for Online Courses with Stanford Continuing Studies: Open Culture Readers Get 15% Off

A heads up for Open Cul­ture read­ers: This spring, Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies has a rich line­up of online cours­es, and they’re offer­ing a spe­cial 15% dis­count to our read­ers. Just use the pro­mo code CULTURE dur­ing check­out.

Serv­ing life­long learn­ers every­where, Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies will launch its spring cur­ricu­lum next week (the week of April 3), let­ting you choose from over 100 cours­es. Among the cours­es, you will find some notable men­tions:

Defend­ing Democ­ra­cy at Home and Abroad fea­tures three Stan­ford schol­ars (includ­ing the for­mer US ambas­sador to Rus­sia Mike McFaul) who will exam­ine the uncer­tain state of democ­ra­cy at home and abroad. Togeth­er, they will explore 1) the mer­its of democ­ra­cy com­pared with the alter­na­tives, 2) chal­lenges to democ­ra­cy both in the US and across the globe, and 3) solu­tions for pro­tect­ing and advanc­ing democ­ra­cy every­where.

With Stan­ford Mon­day Uni­ver­si­ty: 2023, five Stan­ford schol­ars will focus on impor­tant trends cur­rent­ly shap­ing our soci­ety, espe­cial­ly after the pan­dem­ic. What’s the future of work­ing from home, and how will remote work affect the econ­o­my of the Unit­ed States? Why have addictions—including to devices and screens—skyrocketed in the US, and how can a dopamine fast help bring them under con­trol? Why has the mod­ern econ­o­my left behind so many work­ing-class com­mu­ni­ties in Amer­i­ca, and how can invest­ment in these com­mu­ni­ties help address the wealth inequal­i­ties in our coun­try? These, and oth­er ques­tions, will be explored in the course.

Final­ly, in The Book of Change: Ovid, Art, and Us, art his­to­ri­an Alexan­der Nemerov–voted one of Stanford’s top 10 pro­fes­sors by Stan­ford students–will exam­ine Ovid’s Meta­mor­phoses and the great works of art inspired by the Roman clas­sic. Along the way, he will explore paint­ings by Peter Paul Rubens, Diego Velázquez, and Nico­las Poussin, plus sculp­tures by Gian Loren­zo Berni­ni.

Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies also offers a large num­ber of online cre­ative writ­ing cours­es and online busi­ness cours­es. See the com­plete line­up of cours­es here. And remem­ber to use the pro­mo code CULTURE dur­ing check­out to get your 15% dis­count. The code expires on April 30.

Watch the World’s First Film Made in Babylonian, the Language of Ancient Mesopotamia

“Enable sub­ti­tles,” says the noti­fi­ca­tion that appears before The Poor Man of Nip­pur — and you will need them, unless, of course, you hap­pen to hail from the cra­dle of civ­i­liza­tion. The short film is adapt­ed from “a folk­tale based on a 2,700-year-old poem about a pau­per,” says the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cam­bridge’s alum­ni news, act­ed out word-for-word by “Assyri­ol­o­gy stu­dents and oth­er mem­bers of the Mesopotami­an com­mu­ni­ty at the Uni­ver­si­ty.” The result qual­i­fies as the world’s very first film in Baby­lon­ian, a lan­guage that has “been silent for 2,000 years.”

“Found on a clay tablet at the archae­o­log­i­cal site of Sul­tan­te­pe, in south-east Turkey,” the sto­ry of The Poor Man of Nip­pur has­n’t come down to us in per­fect­ly com­plete form. The film rep­re­sents the points of break­age in the tablet with VHS-style glitch­es, a neat par­al­lel of forms of media degra­da­tion across the mil­len­nia.

That isn’t the only notice­able anachro­nism — tak­ing the build­ings of Cam­bridge for Mesopotamia in the sev­enth cen­tu­ry BC demands a cer­tain sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief — but we can rest assured of the Baby­lon­ian dia­logue’s his­tor­i­cal accu­ra­cy, or at least that this is the most accu­rate Baby­lon­ian dia­logue we’re like­ly to get.

Accord­ing to Cam­bridge Assyri­ol­o­gist Mar­tin Wor­thing­ton, who over­saw the Poor Man of Nip­pur project (after serv­ing as Baby­lon­ian con­sul­tant for The Eter­nals), deter­min­ing its pro­nun­ci­a­tion involves “a mix of edu­cat­ed guess­work and care­ful recon­struc­tion,” but one that ben­e­fits from exist­ing “tran­scrip­tions into the Greek alpha­bet” as well as con­nec­tions with sta­bler lan­guages like Ara­bic and Hebrew. The result is an unprece­dent­ed his­tor­i­cal-lin­guis­tic attrac­tion, a com­pelling adver­tise­ment for the study of Baby­lon­ian at Cam­bridge, and also — in depict­ing the impov­er­ished pro­tag­o­nist’s revenge on a thug­gish town may­or — a demon­stra­tion that the under­dog sto­ry tran­scends time, cul­ture, and lan­guage.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Lis­ten to The Epic of Gil­gamesh Being Read in its Orig­i­nal Ancient Lan­guage, Akka­di­an

Watch a 4000-Year Old Baby­lon­ian Recipe for Stew, Found on a Cuneiform Tablet, Get Cooked by Researchers from Yale & Har­vard

Lis­ten to the Old­est Song in the World: A Sumer­ian Hymn Writ­ten 3,400 Years Ago

Trigonom­e­try Dis­cov­ered on a 3700-Year-Old Ancient Baby­lon­ian Tablet

Learn Latin, Old Eng­lish, San­skrit, Clas­si­cal Greek & Oth­er Ancient Lan­guages in 10 Lessons

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.

Discover Edo, the Historic Green/Sustainable City of Japan

When you pic­ture mod­ern day Tokyo, what comes to mind?

The elec­tron­ic bill­boards of Shibuya and Shin­juku?

The teem­ing streets?

The maid cafes?

The robot hotel?

A 97 square foot micro apart­ment?

Bernard Guer­ri­ni’s doc­u­men­tary Natur­opo­lis — Tokyo, from mega­lopo­lis to gar­den-city describes Tokyo as “a giant city, a city which nev­er stops grow­ing:”

It has destroyed its nat­ur­al spaces. It has cre­at­ed its own weath­er. It’s too big for its own good. They say Tokyo is like an amoe­ba that absorbs every­thing in its path.

It’s a far cry from the urban space Toku­gawa Ieya­su, founder of the Toku­gawa Shogu­nate, intend­ed when plant­i­ng the seeds for Edo, as Tokyo was orig­i­nal­ly called.

As the above excerpt from Natur­opo­lis explains, the 16th-cen­tu­ry city was inno­v­a­tive in its incor­po­ra­tion of green space.

The daimyō, or mil­i­tary lords, were required by the shogu­nate to keep res­i­dences in Edo. Each of these homes was fur­nished with a gar­den­er and a land­scap­er to main­tain the beau­ty of its al fres­co areas.

Mean­while, crops were cul­ti­vat­ed in all com­mu­nal out­door open spaces, with irri­ga­tion canals sup­ply­ing the nec­es­sary water for grow­ing rice.

These plant-rich set­tings pro­vid­ed a hos­pitable envi­ron­ment for ani­mals both wild and domes­tic. The care­ful­ly curat­ed nat­ur­al zones invit­ed qui­et con­tem­pla­tion of flo­ra and fau­na, giv­ing rise to the sea­son­al cel­e­bra­tions and rites that are still observed through­out Japan.

Whether admir­ing blos­soms and fire­flies in spring and sum­mer or autumn leaves and snowy win­ter scenes in the cold­er months, Edo’s cit­i­zens revered the nat­ur­al world out­side their doorsteps.

Bashō did the same in his haiku; Uta­gawa Hiroshige in his series of ukiyo‑e prints, One Hun­dred Famous Views of Edo.

Some­what less poet­i­cal­ly cel­e­brat­ed was the impor­tance of night soil to this bio­dy­nam­ic, pre-indus­tri­al shogu­nate cap­i­tal. As envi­ron­men­tal writer Eisuke Ishikawa del­i­cate­ly notes in Japan in the Edo Peri­od — An Eco­log­i­cal­ly-Con­scious Soci­ety:

A long time ago, when excre­ment was a pre­cious fer­til­iz­er, it nat­u­ral­ly belonged to the per­son who pro­duced it. Farm­ers used to buy excre­ment for cash or trade it for a com­pa­ra­ble amount of veg­eta­bles. Fer­til­iz­er short­ages were a chron­ic prob­lem dur­ing the Edo peri­od. As the stan­dard of liv­ing in cities improved, sur­round­ing vil­lages need­ed an increas­ing amount of fer­til­iz­er…

(Any­one who’s shoul­dered the sur­pris­ing­ly heavy interactive–not THAT interactive–night soil buck­ets on dis­play in Tokyo’s Edo Muse­um will have a feel for just how much of this nec­es­sary ele­ment each block of the cap­i­tal city gen­er­at­ed on a dai­ly basis.)

The Mei­ji Restora­tion of 1868 brought many changes — a new gov­ern­ment, a new name for Edo, and a race toward West­ern-style indus­tri­al­iza­tion. Many parks and gar­dens were destroyed as Tokyo rapid­ly expand­ed beyond Edo’s orig­i­nal foot­print.

But now, the Tokyo Met­ro­pol­i­tan Gov­ern­ment is look­ing to its past in an effort to com­bat the effects of cli­mate change with a push toward envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­i­ty.

The goal is net zero CO2 emis­sions by 2050, with 2030 serv­ing as a bench­mark.

In addi­tion to hold­ing the busi­ness, finan­cial, and ener­gy sec­tors to envi­ron­men­tal­ly respon­si­ble stan­dard, the zero emis­sion plan seeks to address the aver­age citizen’s qual­i­ty of life, with a lit­er­al return to more green spaces:

Accel­er­at­ing cli­mate change mea­sures is impor­tant to pre­serve bio­di­ver­si­ty and con­tin­ue to reap its boun­ty. In recent years, the idea of green infra­struc­ture that uti­lizes the func­tions of the nat­ur­al envi­ron­ment has attract­ed atten­tion. It is one of the most impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tions for the future: achiev­ing both bio­di­ver­si­ty con­ser­va­tion and cli­mate change mea­sures.

A Unit­ed Nation report* point­ed out that COVID-19 is poten­tial­ly a zoonot­ic dis­ease derived from wildlife, such infec­tious dis­eases will increase in the future, and one of the rea­sons is the destruc­tion of nature by humans.

Read Tokyo Met­ro­pol­i­tan Government’s Zero Trans­mis­sion Strat­e­gy and Update here.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

The Met Puts 650+ Japan­ese Illus­trat­ed Books Online: Mar­vel at Hokusai’s One Hun­dred Views of Mount Fuji and More

Down­load 1,000+ Beau­ti­ful Wood­block Prints by Hiroshige, the Last Great Mas­ter of the Japan­ese Wood­block Print Tra­di­tion

Wabi-Sabi: A Short Film on the Beau­ty of Tra­di­tion­al Japan

See How Tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese Car­pen­ters Can Build a Whole Build­ing Using No Nails or Screws

The Entire His­to­ry of Japan in 9 Quirky Min­utes

Cats in Japan­ese Wood­block Prints: How Japan’s Favorite Ani­mals Came to Star in Its Pop­u­lar Art

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Understanding Espresso: A Six-Part Series Explaining What It Takes to Pull the Ideal Shot

It does­n’t take long to learn how to pull a shot of espres­so. Search for that phrase on Youtube, and you’ll find hours’ worth of sound instruc­tion, most of it in the form of brief and eas­i­ly digestible videos. All of them cov­er the same basic stages of the process: grind­ing, dos­ing, tamp­ing, and brew­ing. When exam­ined close­ly, each of those stages reveals a for­mi­da­ble body of knowl­edge to mas­ter. If any one Youtu­ber can lay claim to hav­ing mas­tered all of them, it must be James Hoff­mann, pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture for his videos on sub­jects from deep-fried cof­fee to the clas­sic Bialet­ti Moka Express. In the six-part series above, he offers view­ers an overview of all they need to know to achieve a true under­stand­ing of espres­so.

Episode by episode, Hoff­mann explains how to choose the right dose of cof­fee, ratio between the amount of ground and liq­uid cof­fee, brew time, grind size, brew tem­per­a­ture, and pres­sure. Of course, there is no sin­gle uni­ver­sal­ly cor­rect set­ting or amount of any of these things: each is a vari­able with its own range of effects on the shot of espres­so ulti­mate­ly yield­ed.

Each drinker, too, has a dif­fer­ent con­cep­tion of the taste and tex­ture of the ide­al espres­so shot, and con­sis­tent­ly real­iz­ing those qual­i­ties — or at least get­ting close — neces­si­tates no small amount of tri­al and error. But those who lis­ten well to Hoff­man­n’s expla­na­tions will sure­ly end up with few­er errors, and in any case get more enjoy­ment from the tri­als.

Watch “Under­stand­ing Espres­so,” and you’re going to want to know how Hoff­mann pulls shots for him­self. This he address­es in a bonus episode — unsur­pris­ing­ly, the longest one of the bunch — which shows his entire process in detail, from prepar­ing the beans to stir­ring and sip­ping. Along the way, he also intro­duces the vari­ety of spe­cial­ized devices he uses: a strong draw for his many cof­fee-gear­head sub­scribers, but one he presents with the caveat that you real­ly don’t need to go high-end all the way in order to live your best espres­so life. Even so, the ded­i­cat­ed home enthu­si­ast must put in con­sid­er­ably more time and atten­tion than the aver­age chain-cof­fee-shop barista. “Cafés want to make good espres­so as quick­ly and eas­i­ly as pos­si­ble,” he reminds us. “We want to make incred­i­ble espres­so every time.”

You can watch the entire playlist, from start to fin­ish, at the very top of the post.

Relat­ed con­tent:

The Birth of Espres­so: The Sto­ry Behind the Cof­fee Shots That Fuel Mod­ern Life

Cof­fee Col­lege: Every­thing You Want­ed to Know about Cof­fee Mak­ing in One Lec­ture

All Espres­so Drinks Explained: Cap­puc­ci­no, Lat­te, Mac­chi­a­to & Beyond

Every­thing You Ever Want­ed to Know about the Bialet­ti Moka Express: A Deep Dive Into Italy’s Most Pop­u­lar Cof­fee Mak­er

Life and Death of an Espres­so Shot in Super Slow Motion

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.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.