Rick Steves’ Europe: Binge Watch 9 Seasons of America’s Favorite Traveler Free Online

“People who are addicted to European travel, this is kind of a frustrating time for them,” says Rick Steves in a podcast interview with The New York Times‘ Sam Anderson from this past spring. He should know: since becoming a professional travel guide and educator in the late 1970s, Steves has harnessed his own European travel addiction to build a business empire. To his fellow Europhiles — and especially his fellow Europhile but monoglot Americans making their first leap across the Atlantic — Steves has sold a great many classes, tours, guidebooks, money belts, and neck pillows. Over the past three decades, almost everyone who’s got to know him has done so through his travel shows on public television, especially Rick Steves’ Europe.

“Steves is a joyful and jaunty host, all eager-beaver smiles and expressive head tilts,” writes Anderson of the show, whose star “gushes poetically about England’s Lake District (‘a lush land steeped in a rich brew of history, culture and nature’) and Erfurt, Germany (‘this half-timbered medieval town with a shallow river gurgling through its center’) and Istanbul (‘this sprawling metropolis on the Bosporus’) and Lisbon (‘like San Francisco, but older and grittier and less expensive’).”

In recent years, seasons of Rick Steves’ Europe have become free to watch on Youtube. The nine full seasons now available also include “Germany’s Romantic Rhine“; Normandy, “War-Torn Yet Full of Life“; “Feisty and Poetic” North Wales; “Little Europe: Five Micro-Countries“; Basque country; and The Best of Slovenia.

As well known for his practical-mindedness as he is for his cheerfulness, Steves has also produced such special broadcasts as a threepart series on the travel skills necessary to cross huge swaths of Europe safely and enjoyably. Given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, however, it will be a while before any of us can once again put our travel skills to the test. “This virus can stop our travel plans, but it cannot stop our travel dreams,” Steves declares on the podcast with Anderson, leading into the announcement of a new game: Rick Steves’ Europe Bingo, “where the cards have all of the little goofy clichés that show up in almost every one of my shows,” from “Rick visits a church” and “Rick enjoys a local drink” to signature lines like “Oh, baby!” and “Keep on travelin’.”

“You can turn it into a drinking game if you want,” Steves notes. And indeed, with or without the aid of alcohol, there are much worse ways for travelers to pass the remainder of the pandemic than with an extended binge-watch of Rick Steves’ Europe, whose seasons are organized into playlists below:

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletterBooks 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.

When the Grateful Dead Performed on Hugh Hefner’s Playboy After Dark & Secretly Dosed Everyone With LSD (1969)

At one time, whatever else people did with it, they really did read Playboy for the articles. And whatever other vicarious thrills they might obtain from Hugh Hefner’s Playboy’s Penthouse variety show or its follow-up, Playboy After Dark, they definitely tuned in for the music. Guests included Ike & Tina Turner, The Byrds, Buddy Rich, Cher, Deep Purple, Fleetwood Mac, Steppenwolf, James Brown, and many more. On January 18, 1969, the Grateful Dead performed, and it went exactly as one might expect, meaning “things got totally out-of-hand,” Dave Melamed writes at Live for Live Music, “but everything wound up working out just fine.

Things worked out more than fine, despite, or because of, the fact that the band’s legendary sound-man Owsley “Bear” Stanley (at that time the largest supplier of LSD in the country) dosed the coffee pot on set. Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann tells the story in the Conan clip below. It all started, he says, during soundcheck, when he noticed that the crew was acting “kinda loose.” Knowing Stanley as he did, he immediately suspected the cause: “the whole crew, all of you” he says pointing toward the Conan camera operators, “was high on acid.”

There’s not much evidence of it in the footage. There don’t seem to be any technical problems in the clip at the top. In their brief, jovial interview, Hefner and Garcia seem plenty relaxed. Jerry tells the Playboy founder why the band has two drummers. (They “chase each other around, sort of like the serpent that eats its own tail” and “make a figure in your mind” if you stand between them.) Then he takes the stage and the band plays “Mountains of the Moon” and “St. Stephen.”

Hefner was so appreciative of whatever happened on set that he sent a personal letter of thanks the following month (below), addressed to each member of the band. “Your participation played an important part in the success of this particular show.” He enclosed a film of the performances and expressed his gratitude “for having made the taping session as enjoyable to do as I think it will be to watch.”

Kreutzmann relates some other anecdotes in his 2015 Conan interview, including a funny bit about how the band got its name. But the best part of the appearance is watching him imitate Hefner, who was apparently plastered to the wall by the end of the set, the coffee really starting to kick in.

This strange chapter of Grateful Dead history is one of many memorialized in the new graphic novel, Grateful Dead Origins.

via Laughing Squid

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

The Renewed Popularity of Chess and The Queen’s Gambit: Pretty Much Pop Culture Podcast Discussion #78 with Chess Expert J.J. Lang

The high level of interest in Netflix’s adaptation of the 1984 Walter Tevis novel, The Queen’s Gambit has brought this most popular game back to the forefront of pop culture. Chess expert/teacher J.J. (who’s also a grad student in philosophy) joins your hosts Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt to consider chess culture, what gives this game its edge on other contenders (why not Terra Mystica?), player personality characteristics, and the effect of chess media.

We consider gender, genius, and other issues in Gambit, plus Pawn SacrificeSearching for Bobby FisherThe Luzhin Defense, and The Coldest Game.

A few articles and lists:

Watch J.J. on stream on Twitch. Other interviews he’s done: Perpetual ChessFriends and EnemiesAakaash

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion about more chess films and other topics that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

Why Has The Great British Baking Show Conquered America? Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #75 w/ Stephen Carlile (from Broadway’s The Lion King)

What explains the immense quarantine-time popularity in America of this quaint British reality cooking show? What do we get out of watching talented amateurs bake things? Stephen Carlile, who is famous for playing Scar in The Lion King on Broadway (and is VERY British himself), joins your hosts Erica Spyres, Brian Hirt, and Mark Linsenmayer to consider the format, context, and appeal of the show.

A few articles we reviewed to prepare included:

Follow Stephen on Instagram @carlile1. Visit with him online.

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

David Chase Talks Sopranos for 90 Minutes on the Talking Sopranos Podcast

During the early days of the pandemic, the Talking Sopranos podcast (previously discussed on OC here) got underway. Hosted by Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti) and Steve Schirripa (Bobby Bacala), the podcast revisits every episode of HBO’s groundbreaking TV series. It starts naturally with the 1999 pilot and then moves forward sequentially. And each installment features a guest (usually an actor, writer, or director who contributed to the show), followed by a scene-by-scene breakdown of a complete Sopranos episode. (They covered the celebrated “Pine Barrens” episode a few weeks back.) Past guests have included Edie Falco, Aida Turturro, Steve Buscemi, Lorraine Bracco and more.

Now almost halfway through the entire series, Imperioli and Schirripa spent 90 minutes this week with Sopranos‘ creator David Chase. In a rare interview (watch above), Chase talks about his creative ambitions for the show, the real people (friends and acquaintances) he modeled characters on, his sometimes friction-filled relationship with James Gandolfini, and the upcoming Sopranos film.

You can listen to Talking Sopranos on Apple, Spotify and Google, or watch all episodes on YouTube. And if you’d like to supplement all of this with more detail, get a copy of Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall’s book The Sopranos Sessions. It’s highly recommended.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please 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.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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Rewatch Every Episode of The Sopranos with the Talking Sopranos Podcast, Hosted by Michael Imperioli & Steve Schirripa

Watch 26 Free Episodes of Jacques Pépin’s TV Show, More Fast Food My Way

You need never endeavor to make any of the recipes world renowned chef Jacques Pépin produced on camera in his 2008 series More Fast Food My Way.

The helpful hints he tosses off during each half hour episode more than justify a viewing.

The menu for the episode titled “The Egg First!,” above, includes Red Pepper DipAsparagus Fans with Mustard Sauce, Scallops Grenobloise, Potato Gratin with Cream, and Jam Tartines with Fruit Sherbet so simple, a child could make it (provided they’re set up with good quality poundcake in advance.)

Delicious… especially when prepared by a culinary master Julia Child lauded as “the best chef in America.”

And he’s definitely not stingy with matter-of-fact advice on how to peel asparagus, potatoes and hard boiled egg, grate fresh nutmeg with a knife, and dress up store bought mayo any number of ways.

His recipes (some available online here) are well suited to the current moment. The ingredients aren’t too difficult to procure, and each episode begins with a fast, easy dish that can be explained in a minute, such as Mini Croques-MonsieurAsian Chicken Livers, or Basil Cheese Dip.

Many of the dishes harken to his childhood in World War II-era Lyon:

When we were kids, before going to school, my two brothers and I would go to the market with my mother in the morning. She had a little restaurant… There was no car, so we walked to the market—about half a mile away—and she bought, on the way back, a case of mushrooms which was getting dark so she knew the guy had to sell it, so she’d try to get it for half price… She didn’t have a refrigerator. She had an ice box: that’s a block of ice in a cabinet. In there she’d have a couple of chickens or meat for the day. It had to be finished at the end of the day because she couldn’t keep it. And the day after we’d go to the market again. So everything was local, everything was fresh, everything was organic. I always say my mother was an organic gardener, but of course, the word ‘organic’ did not exist. But chemical fertilizer did not exist either.

If you have been spending a lot of time by yourself, some of the episode themes may leave a lump in your throat—Dinner Party SpecialGame Day Pressure, and Pop Over Anytime, which shows how to draw on pantry staples and convenience foods to “take the stress out of visitors popping in.”

The soon to be 85-year-old Pépin (Happy Birthday December 18, Chef!) spoke to Zagat earlier about the pandemic’s effect on the restaurant industry, how we can support one another, and the beauty of home cooked meals:

People—good chefs—are wondering how they will pay their rent. It is such a terrible feeling to have to let your employees go. In a kitchen, or a restaurant, we are like a family, so it is painful to separate or say goodbye. That said, it is important to be optimistic. This is not going to last forever.

Depending on where you are, perhaps this is a chance to reconnect with the land, with farmers, with the sources of food and cooking. This is a good time to plant a garden. And gardening can be very meditative. Growing food is not just for the food, but this process helps us to reconnect with who we are, why we love food, and why we love cooking. With this time, cook at home. Cook for your neighbor and drop the food off. Please your family and your friends and your own palate with food, for yourself. This is not always easy for a chef with the pressure of running a restaurant. Cooking is therapeutic…

Many people now are beginning to suffer economically. But if you can afford it, order take-out, and buy extra for your neighbors. If you can afford it, leave a very large tip. Think about the servers and dishwashers and cooks that may not be able to pay their rent this month. If you can be more generous than usual, that would be a good idea. We need to do everything we can to keep these restaurants in our communities alive.

…this moment is a reassessment and re-adjustment of our lives. Some good things may come of it. We may have the opportunity to get closer to one another, to sit as a family together at the table, not one or two nights a week, but seven! We may not see our friends, but we may talk on the phone more than before. Certainly, with our wives and children we will be creating new bonds. We will all be cooking more, even me. This may be the opportunity to extend your palate, and to get your kids excited about cooking and cooking with you.

Watch a playlist of Jacques Pépin: More Fast Food My Way (they’re all embedded below) courtesy of KQED Public Television, which has also shared a number of free downloadable recipes from the program here.

Attention last minute holiday shoppers: the companion cookbook would make a lovely gift for the chef in your life (possibly yourself.)

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. She most recently appeared as a French Canadian bear who travels to New York City in search of food and meaning in Greg Kotis’ short film, L’Ourse.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Salvador Dalí Gets Surreal with 1950s America: Watch His Appearances on What’s My Line? (1952) and The Mike Wallace Interview (1958)

When was the last time you saw a Surrealist (or even just a surrealist) painter appear on national television? If such a figure did appear on national television today, for that matter, who would know? Perhaps surrealist painting does not, in our time, make the impact it once did, but nor does national television. So imagine what a spectacle it must have been in 1950s America, cradle of the “mass media” as we once knew them, when Salvador Dalí turned up on a major U.S. television network. Such a fabulously incongruous broadcasting event happened more than once, and in these clips we see that, among the “big three,” CBS was especially receptive to his impulsive, otherworldly artistic presence.

On the quiz show What’s My Line?, one of CBS’ most popular offerings throughout the 50s, contestants aimed to guess the occupation of a guest. They did so wearing blindfolds, without which they’d have no trouble pinning down the job of an instantaneously recognizable celebrity like Dalí — or would they? To the panel’s yes-or-no questions, the only kind permitted by the rules, Dalí nearly always responds flatly in the affirmative.

Is he associated with the arts? “Yes.” Would he ever have been seen on television? “Yes.” Would he be considered a leading man? “Yes.” At this host John Charles Daly steps in to clarify that, in the context of the question, Dalí would not, in fact, be considered a leading man. One contestant offers an alternative: “He’s a misleading man!” Few titles have captured the essence of Dalí so neatly.

The artist, showman, and human conscious-altering substance later appeared on The Mike Wallace Interview. Hosted by the formidable CBS newsman well before he became one of the faces of 60 Minutes, the show featured a range of guests from Aldous Huxley and Frank Lloyd Wright to Eleanor Roosevelt and Ayn Rand. In this broadcast, Wallace and Dalí discuss “everything from surrealism to nuclear physics to chastity to what artists in general contribute to the world,” as Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova describes it. A curious if occasionally bemused Wallace, writes The Wallbreakers’ Matt Weckel, “asks Dalí such gems as ‘What is philosophical about driving a car full of cauliflowers?’ and ‘Why did you lecture with your head enclosed in a diving helmet?'” But they also seriously discuss “the fear of death, and their own mortality,” topics to which American airwaves have hardly grown more accommodating over the past sixty years.

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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 Biblical Sci-Fi of “Raised by Wolves”–Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #68

What happens when a male android loves a female android VERY much, and they nurse human embryos together on a distant planet after fleeing from war-torn Earth? Why the female android flies and makes a bunch of people explode with her eyes, that’s what happens! …In the first episode of this bonkers HBO Max series by Aaron Guzikowski (with notable assistance from Ridley Scott of Alien and Blade Runner fame).

Your hosts Brian Hirt, Erica Spyres, and Mark Linsenmayer reflect on how much we’re supposed to understand, what if any character we’re supposed to identify with, whether the imagery is just TOO heavy-handed, and how this show compares with related sci-fi like Westworld or post-apocalyptic shows like The Walking Dead. Beware: Spoilers abound in this one, so you might want to watch the show, or just let us reveal its weirdness to you.

Here are some articles to feast on:

Learn more at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion that you can only hear by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.