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March was a busy month for restaurant openings and re-openings in Durham. After two long years of COVID-induced closure, Littler is back with a new menu and chef, while the brand-new Remedy Room and BB’s Crispy Chicken add to the city's buzzy food scene. Here’s my thoughts on these exciting new options:
Is eating gluten-free at Duke University easy? Tricky question. Duke Dining does a good job trying to accommodate gluten-free (GF) diets, among other diets, but the options are still a bit limited (justice for GF crepes at Cafe!) and after eating the same Krafthouse sandwich or Panera salad 10 times a month, you might want to venture off campus to see how the Durham food scene handles gluten-free food.
Stop and think: where can you get a macaron in Durham?
Between listening and glancing at subtitles to check my comprehension, calling my mom right after to discuss one of her childhood favorites and saving my thoughts somewhere to discuss with my cousin Michel — watching Brazilian films is unlike any other viewing experience I have. I learned to speak Portuguese right along with English growing up, but after years of neglect and fewer and fewer visits to see my mom’s family, my vocabulary and conversational skills are limited, and my cultural ties grow weaker by the day.
Why do we watch movies? It is an impossibly broad question, one I have no intention of answering here. However, in what is likely the most stressful and challenging year that many of us have faced, I have discovered a new motivation for finding great movies to watch, other than having a little more down time.
The Nasher Museum of Art is no longer just the modern, glass encased building on Campus Drive. It’s the gates of the Duke Gardens, the poles on the C1 route and the windows of the American Dance Festival studio, Rubenstein Arts Center and bus station downtown on Chapel Hill Street. “RESIST COVID/TAKE 6!” is the ongoing Nasher exhibit by artist Carrie Mae Weems, and it is unlike anything the museum has taken on before. These locations are just some of the 40 plus banners and posters around Duke and in the Durham community which celebrate frontline workers, display COVID-19 public health reminders and highlight the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has on people of color. The exhibit has taken on a number of partners since its start, including the American Dance Festival (ADF).
Any email you have been sent in the last month probably mentions how we are living in either “disturbing,” “turbulent” or “unprecedented” times. As clichéd as this has become, it is still true, and as the public health and economic situation in the United States and around the globe deteriorates, it's understandable that many of us are feeling particularly anxious during this precarious moment.
Durham’s food scene is vibrant, but it is more than the (admittedly excellent) restaurants in downtown’s Five Points area. Here are some overlooked spots around town that are worth checking out:
Twenty years after it first premiered, “The West Wing” remains one of the most influential shows in modern TV history. The show not only set the standard for sky-high production budgets (around $3 million an episode) and pioneered the “walk and talk” technique, but it also inspired thousands of young liberals to take up politics and, for better or for worse, helped shape how they currently work within American institutions. In fact, some of the show’s biggest fans are former Obama administration staffers. A popular podcast entitled “The West Wing Weekly” underscores the lasting impact of the show, managing to draw in guests including Senators Tammy Duckworth and Bob Casey, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and South Bend, Ill., mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.
Most Duke students do not live in Durham. We reside in Durham, but we do not truly live here. And no, a trip to Shooters, Pizzeria Toro when your parents are in town or an occasional walk down 9th Street is not enough to be an active member of the community. I get it. Duke is beautiful, you are busy, et cetera. But outside of the puppies at the Canine Cognition Center, Durham might be the best thing Duke has to offer us.
The inception of Jeddah’s Tea is a quintessential underdog story. In 2018, Morgan Siegel, along with her now ex-husband Wael Suliman, started Jeddah’s Tea with a $250 loan from her mother to vend at Durham’s annual Juneteenth celebration. Siegel and Suliman were so strapped for cash at the time that, according to their Kickstarter campaign, “The morning of the event, we were literally looking under our dressers, rummaging through our pockets and taking our kids' older clothes to consignment stores so that we could afford change and ice.”
Raleigh’s eclectic Hopscotch Music Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary Sept. 5 to 7 with headliners like James Blake, Sleater-Kinney, CHVRCHES, Phantogram, Little Brother, Raphael Saadiq and Jenny Lewis. The festival will take place all throughout downtown Raleigh at 11 locales, with outdoor venues City Plaza and Red Hat Amphitheater serving as the main stages.
Is The National’s music boring? This question has dogged the band since its debut album, largely due to a combination of frontman Matt Berninger’s baritone and sometimes monotonous voice, subdued instrumentation and probing, gloomy, occasionally ambiguous lyrics. The band’s discography is critically acclaimed but much of it remains inaccessible to the average listener, who needs more than Berninger’s soulful mumbling about suburbia, love and the drags of life.
Four presidential campaigns in, Selina Meyer is as power hungry and cutthroat as ever. The same cast of bumbling staffers surrounds her campaign, which predictably struggles from the outset with launch problems, airport mishaps and more. The show’s seventh and final season brings “Veep” back to its strengths: crude and hilarious banter between castmates and spot on satire of American politics.
The 2014 film “What We Do in the Shadows” brought needed fresh energy to the vampire genre through its mockumentary set-up and brilliant deadpan humor. It never received a wide U.S. release, and its legacy is that of a cult classic: a film with a small but devoted following. Now, the film’s co-creators, Taika Waititi and Jeremy Clement, are bringing vampires to the small screen, with a new show of the same name on FX. The show closely follows the movie’s intimate mockumentary formula with great success. It’s a needed win for FX, a channel far from its comedy heyday of “The League,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and early seasons of “Archer.”
Which spot makes the best food at Duke? That’s a question the Duke Dining Challenge, a March Madness-style bracket on the popular Facebook group “Duke Memes for Gothicc Teens,” tried to answer.
Weezer is one of the few ‘90s bands still pumping out music today, releasing their jaw-dropping 13th album this week, “Weezer (Black Album).” But it is just another tepid release in the band’s rocky and immensely frustrating discography.
When Jon Stewart left “The Daily Show” in 2015, John Oliver stepped up to fill massive hole in late night comedy that Stewart’s departure created. Oliver had been a “Daily Show” correspondent, even hosting Stewart’s show for eight weeks while Stewart directed his film "Rosewater." With this practice under his belt, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” hit the ground running in its first season. The show has not looked back, remaining a glowing fixture in the crowded field of late night television.
My dad and brother flew in this weekend for the N.C. State game, and with them here for only 24 hours, we tried to visit as many Durham restaurants as our stomachs could handle.
Within days of each other, Netflix and Hulu released documentaries about the failed 2017 Fyre Festival, putting the calamitous event back in the news. Neither film is perfect, but after watching both, Netflix’s “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” is considerably better than Hulu’s “Fyre Fraud”.