“If you’re going to San Francisco
You’re gonna meet some gentle people there”
Or at least that’s how the song goes. And judging by this particular new kid on the block, these gentle people are also raising some creative dust around. Founded by Alice Xiang, the magazine kicks-off as a cross-cultural one woman show conducting an orchestra of international contributors in a refreshing publishing experiment that puts the Titanic original score in a new light: near, far, wherever you are, your story can become part of a complex narrative. Alice Xiang who acts as founder, editor and publisher has a Ph.D in comparative literature with a dissertation on cosmopolitanism and was a child of ever changing cities, countries and mixed feelings. Perfect Strangers came naturally, as a next piece in a globally connected puzzle intent on exploring differences and the stories that keeps them/it/us together.
We’re talking about 150+ pages of food for thought and curiosity, ranging from interviews with founder of Pink Martini to insights on underground music from the middle east, tips from a media and eastern European researcher based in vibrant Thessaloniki, a Danish little town stuck in time on the sunny California coast, stories about food, family, couples, design, and well, life, as it tends to happen, all over the world. If it sounds like a lot, it isn’t. Or at least it doesn’t feel like it: the first issue of Perfect Strangers navigates with great ease the swirling waters of an ever-expanding globalized world focusing on the personal, small histories that keeps it together.
Because you’re in for quite a ride. Because it’s like that trip you’ve been planning for too long or that interesting, curious talk you’ve been meaning to have with the Chinese old man at the deli store or the Turkish woman who rushes every day to work. Its “all over the place” vibe is a rare mix of insightful, well written and illustrated materials with a variety of subjects that doesn’t leave space for boredom.
Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale relaxed take on life: “There’s no plan, actually. I just follow my gut from moment to moment and hope that it works. Generally things work out. I think that actually if I had had a plan, then none of it would ever have worked. So it’s better to just respond to whatever’s going on”. Je ne veux pas travailler at its best.
Also, the many faces of the perfect stranger that is the jellyfish, in an all-round article written by oceanographer Juli Berwald, exploring both the science and the mythology behind these fascinating creatures. Here’s a sample of Icelandic thought, for example:
“In Iceland, a legend is told of Jesus, St.Peter, and the Devil walking along the sea. Christ spat a wad of phlegm into the water, which turned into a tasty halibut. Next, St. Peter let some sputum fly, which transformed into a lumpsucker, another prized fish. The Devil, not wanting to be outdone, coughed up his own contribution. From his demonic spittle emerged the lowly jellyfish.” All spits and spirituality.
Listen to me
David Bowie, Absolute Beginners, mainly (but not solely) because I insist on mixing things up and mistakenly call the magazine Absolute Strangers.
Get your hands on this jewel here.