Getting the flavor of...
New York’s hip-hop history
You may not know Jay Z from Nas, said Judith Fein in The Dallas Morning News. But that shouldn’t stop you from joining Hush Tours (hushtours.com) for a four-hour trip through New York City’s hip-hop history. The bus tour is led by Grandmaster Caz, a Bronx rapper and DJ who “works the mike as only a performer can.” Our first stop: the Manhattan funeral home that held the 1997 service for rap great The Notorious B.I.G. Later, we get a primer on break dancing from Mighty Mouse, an agile b-boy who teaches the group some basic moves. “Only a stone wouldn’t enjoy it.” The tour ends where hip-hop began: at a West Bronx apartment building. Caz explains how DJ Kool Herc drove partygoers wild here in 1973 by using two turntables to skip back and forth between funky percussion breaks on two records. Herc had invented hip-hop’s backbeat—and “changed the way the world partied forever.”
Idaho’s wild Sawtooth Mountains
“I have discovered the land that inspired John Muir,” said Kevin Rushby in The Guardian (U.K.). The raw wilderness beloved by the pioneering environmentalist (1838–1914) is hard to find these days—America’s national parks are cluttered with guardrails, signboards, and SUVs. But the wilderness still exists in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. The jagged range isn’t a national park, so it lacks roads and signs and has only a few footpaths. Sara Lundy of Sawtooth Mountain Guides leads me on an off-trail trek, which begins with a climb up a 660-foot sheer granite slab. When I reach the top, the panorama “hits me like a physical assault.” The next morning, ice breaks from my tent as I emerge into thick, freezing fog. An hour later, we’re at 9,840 feet, with fluffy clouds below us and the Sawtooths spread before us. There’s no sign that any human has passed this way before. “I feel the spirit of John Muir is with me, looking on approvingly.”