The Coca-Colonization of Japan

Ian Buruma

Shomei Tomatsu was fifteen when Japan was defeated and the US troops arrived, casually tossing sticks of gum and chocolates at the children running after their jeeps. The rampant conquerors, who could often buy the favors of local women with a pair of silk stockings or a Hershey bar, were for young Japanese men a source of deep humiliation. But they also came with jazz music, easy manners, cool clothes, a promise of democracy, and what seemed then like vast wealth.

Understanding the China Dream

In this video produced by VICE News, Orville Schell discusses the significance of former president Jimmy Carter’s recent trip to Beijing, where he was treated offhandedly by China’s leaders, and how the US might benefit from better understanding the “China Dream.”

Catastrophic Coltrane

Geoff Dyer

The interest of recordings from John Coltrane’s final phase—in which his playing became increasingly frenzied and the accompaniment more abstracted—lies partly in what they preserve and partly in any hints they contain as to where Trane might have headed next.

In the Dark of the Museum

Cathleen Schine

The rooms that hold the Museum of Natural History’s famous dioramas are vast and dimly lit. What happens in the darkness of the museum itself is quite different from the stillness of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s new book, Dioramas, a collection of his elegant black and white photographs of dioramas.

Among the Plant Hunters

Robin Lane Fox

Though today there are fewer botanists than in centuries past, there are more botanical artists than ever before. “These artists,” Robin Lane Fox writes in the September 25 issue of The New York Review, “are today’s close observers of flowers and fruits, now that ‘plant scientists’ have moved inward to study cells and genes. Most plant scientists are ignorant about gardening. Artists do more for susceptible gardeners’ fantasies.” Here he presents a selection of botanical drawings with commentary.