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Piaggio Ape Calessino

Spend time in any small Italian village or big city and you’ll see an Ape—Italian for “bee”—buzzing through the cobblestone streets, a delivery wagon for cases of water, crates of fruit, or just about anything else. The Ape has a special place in the Italian heart. The brainchild of Corradino D’Ascanio, the inventor of the Vespa, it was created in 1948, when Italy was struggling to rebuild after the war, and it quickly became the country’s worker bee. This 1954 version, the Giardinetta (later named the Calessino—Italian for “gig”), might be the most sophisticated iteration, thanks to its beechwood-and-masonite frame (which has been fully restored with factory-correct colors and finishes). We think of it as the perfect marriage of the best of midcentury America and Italy: a Vespa crossed with a Chevy woody wagon. (Price upon request,

Aretha Franklin performing on The Andy Williams Show, on May 4, 1969.

Amazing Grace

Aretha Franklin died little more than a year ago, and if you have not yet made the time to watch the documentary Amazing Grace, you are missing out on one of the few things that will, for all of its brief 87 minutes, block out the din of these crazy days. In 1972, Franklin was at the top of the charts but wanted to reconnect with her roots. She took over a church in Los Angeles, where, backed by a full choir, she recorded over two revealing nights what became the best-selling gospel album of all time. The planned documentary, filmed by Sydney Pollack, was never released due in part to technical problems (finally solved) with syncing the sound. Thank God—what we get here is something truly transportive, and one more bit of proof (if any were needed) of Franklin’s healing powers. ($5.99 rental, iTunes)


Copenhagen Wheel

The problem with thinking about getting a new bike is that it’s not your old bike, and for those dearly attached to their faithful Fuji 10-speed, the notion of upgrading to an e-bike is not unlike packing a Luger when you go to the barn to see Trigger. Fortunately, the M.I.T.-born company Superpedestrian aims to keep old bikes rolling with the Copenhagen Wheel, a direct-drive motor that nestles cleanly within the rear spokes of your favorite two-wheeler, transforming it into an e-bike. The Wheel doesn’t propel the bike for you but, instead, amplifies the power of your pedaling, thus preserving the favorite bike itself as well as the traditional experience of riding it. ($1749,

Jeanne Moreau, circa 1955.

Une Vie, Une Oeuvre

For a change of pace—and language—Une Vie, Une Oeuvre (One Life, One Work), on France Culture, provides an engaging, deeply researched audio portrait of a different artist or statesman each week. Many are French, from Victor Hugo and Jean Renoir to Claude Lanzmann and Jeanne Moreau. But not all: Jimi Hendrix, Martin Luther King Jr., Leonard Cohen, and Susan Sontag are also examined. Even if you think you know everything about Colette or Claude Lévi-Strauss, this podcast finds something you missed … and pronounces it properly. (


Casa Fernando

Camilla Marcus, the founder of West-Bourne, the West Village café, recently found herself in Majorca for a friend’s wedding. “There’s something about Majorca, with its mix of city vibrancy and seaside hideaways. It’s a place I still dream of, and Casa Fernando, on a nondescript beach just a stone’s throw from Palma, is a seafood oasis where you preview what’s fresh that day, and order by the kilo. Here’s to hoping that cockles bathed in butter, garlic, white wine, and herbs as well as grilled razor clams and Spanish prawns make it to your plate, too.” (

Issue No. 7
August 31, 2019
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Issue No. 7
August 31, 2019