Chasing Demons With Bulgaria’s Kukeri

London-based photographer Aron Klein’s ‘Kukeri’ series offers an intriguing portrait of tradition in an age of technology. Aron depicts the demon chasers of local folklore, the Kukeri, against Bulgaria’s mountainous Balkan region.

Aron’s ‘Kukeri’ series began after working as a photographer for the Meadows in the Mountains music festival situated in the Rhodope Mountain range located between Bulgaria and Greece. He fell in love with the tiny villages of this European corner and their celebration of ancient cultural practices. Performed by costumed men, Kukeri is a traditional Bulgarian ritual that is practiced to purify place; scaring away evil spirits and bringing health, harvest, fertility and happiness to the community. With gaping jaws and satan-like claws, the costumes are reminiscent of those from childhood nightmares and would fit seamlessly into Maurice Sendak’sWhere The Wild Things Are. Yet, through Aron’s lens, their devilish appearance is contrasted by the beauty of the elaborate detailing and vibrant accents which adorn select costumes. Others, completely shrouded head-to-toe in hair, are positioned as majestic beasts, who dance through the trees of the surrounding snowy landscape. Aron’s series is a captivating documentation of ancient folklore and contemporary ritual....more 

Welcome to Berlin: Things are Slower Here

Today we start from Berlin’s subway, the U-Bahn, because the subway is where most people start when they arrive in a new city. More precisely, we’ll start at the steady, silent ticket machines of the U-Bahn: bright yellow boxes that…very…slowly…print out fragile tickets that leave ink stains on your fingers.

Words by Madeleine Morley and header image by Ina Niehoff.

Feel free to take your time, but make sure you stamp your ticket or beware the ticket collector’s unsympathetic wrath, representing just one side of the many sided Berlin. Berlin has a special, peculiar, and particular history, and although it’s described by countless guides as the design city of today, it’s always been a design conscious city. In the early 20th century, it was the first place in Europe to slice ornaments from building façades in a committed embrace of streamlined modernism.

Much has changed across the city’s façade since, but underground on the U-Bahn you can clearly observe the blended traces of Berlin’s design history: some stations are Art Nouveau and German Jugenstil in style, others Bauhaus, 70s futurism, or contemporary, pastel-colored minimalism. It’s been nearly 30 years since the fall of the wall and above ground any signs are mostly gone, but the Cold War era’s clash of opposites remains on the U-Bahn: austere Soviet designs adorn former Eastern stations, and elaborate floral motifs carved in stone are preserved in the former Western ones. The only period not present along the platforms is the Nazi era, when stations were used for bomb shelters. Then again, as you pass through the morose platform of Mohrenstraße, you might feel a little chill learning that the red marble encasing the platform is recycled from Hitler’s former Reich Chancellor Building....more 

Why Not Use Autonomous Vehicles For Self-Driving Stores?

Most of the time, we tend to see autonomous vehicles (AV) as a personal means of locomotion. However, self-driving technology is far more disruptive than that. Grocery stores are certainly not going to like the idea in this piece — unless they jump onboard early.

Low-income neighborhoods usually don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to food. Generic-brand grocery stores and fast-food places are mostly all there is. Quality food is hard to find, which also explains the alarming level of health problems in those communities. How about bringing food to those neighborhood using AVs? That’s what Robomart wants to do. It’s a self-driving grocery coming soon to a city near you — perhaps.

The business model is intriguing. Robomart wants to build a fleet of on-demand, self-driving (AV Level 5) stores licensed to grocery retailers. It would be sold as an on-demand delivery service vehicle anywhere in the world. Retailers would stock the AVs and send them off to clients. Customers would use the “grab and go” checkout system and get charged for the purchases later....more 

The Worst Part of Dating an Older Guy Is His Texting Habits

Welcome to It’s Complicated, stories on the sometimes frustrating, sometimes confusing, always engrossing subject of modern relationships. (Want to share yours? Email pitches to itscomplicated@nymag.com.)

Late one night last spring, a man I hadn’t seen in six months stood in my doorway and asked me softly, “Why did we quit doing this?” It was dark, and he had one hand in my hair.

In my imagination, a record scratched. Uh, why had we quit doing this? “You stopped texting me, you goon,” I wanted to scold him. I sensed this was not the moment, though, and instead simply murmured, “I don’t know.”

Over the following months, we would have this exchange many more times, sometimes in a playful tone and sometimes not. How do two young, single people who like each other just … fall out of touch?

I blame a very particular age difference — and, improbably, AOL Instant Messenger.....more 

MUSIC: Mr. Gabriel - Help Me Out

MUSIC: Fort Vine - Key To Love

MUSIC: WhoMadeWho - Through The Walls