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Barry Yourgrau
Writer & performer Barry Yourgrau is the author of the forthcoming memoir about clutter and hoarding, Mess: One Man's Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act (WW Norton, August '15). His books of short fiction include Wearing Dad's Head and The Sadness of Sex , in whose film version he starred.

He's appeared variously on MTV and NPR.

He's also written for NY Times, Paris Review Daily, Vice, Spin, The Independent (UK), Salon, Artforum, and elsewhere.

Born in South Africa, he moved to the US as a child. He lives in
New York and Istanbul, and travels widely with his girlfriend, a food writer.


Entries by Barry Yourgrau

Yes--I Hoard Travel Souvenirs and Mementos

(0) Comments | Posted September 3, 2015 | 10:47 AM

(Credit: caesart, LiliGraphie via Shutterstock/Salon)

One of the features of summer vacations used to involve bearing back mementoes and knickknacks to sentimentally clutter up shelf space at home. But in Istanbul, where my girlfriend...

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My Spring Cleaning: Clutter, an Old Bowl, and the Collyer Brothers

(0) Comments | Posted April 23, 2015 | 3:14 PM

It's spring cleaning time. I leave off a moment with my bright yellow little vacuum in my kitchen, to reflect how far I've come since a couple of spring cleanings ago.

Back then there was no spring cleaning here. No cheerful yellow vacuum. Just an ancient upright monstrosity standing abandoned...

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Harassed by Cops in Istanbul: A Journalist's Experience (VIDEO)

(0) Comments | Posted June 17, 2013 | 2:50 PM

I'm an American writer and journalist in Istanbul right now.
I had a nasty, scary harrassment by plain clothes cops on Sunday, June 16 by Gezi Park. They forced me to delete camere footage. I did as instructed on the spot (see details below).
Somehow a Youtuber...

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Taksim Piano Man Playing 'Imagine' at 8 a.m. (VIDEO)

(0) Comments | Posted June 14, 2013 | 3:58 PM

He played from last night, Thursday, into this morning, Friday, here in embattled Taksim Square in Istanbul. His audience was mainly protesters with riot cops looking on.

Meet Davide Martello, a.k.a. Klavierkunst, a German of Italian descent, whose goal is to play his self-built grand piano all over...

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Taksim Tear Gas: My New Video From This Morning

(0) Comments | Posted June 11, 2013 | 6:30 PM

I shot this video of a police tear-gas assault in Taksim this morning, Tuesday.

The video gets shaky toward the end because my hands started trembling.

Note all the bystander cameras clicking away. And the simit seller at his bread-ring stand, in a gas mask:

Riot cops went in just to the square to clear it of barricades and banners -- leaving Gezi Park alone. Cops used gas and water cannons against resistance mainly from young guys in gas masks or with scarves over their faces, who were throwing what looked like molotov cocktails. Some behemoth water-cannon trucks caught fire.

Such violence from protesters hadn't occurred before. Twitter here was immediately alive with derisive speculation that many of these guys were infiltrators, that the whole thing was a spectacle staged for the TV cameras, to try to make Occupy Gezi look bad. Confusing...

One cop wasn't wearing his gas mask:


This action was followed by a lull, that slowly gathered again in tension. More regular protesters seem to have joined in. Typical Taksim rhythm. Here's a glimpse. Note: this is a prime tourist zone.

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In the Tunnels Under Taksim (Photos)

(0) Comments | Posted June 9, 2013 | 12:45 PM

Part of Erdogan's renovation scheme for Taksim Square and Gezi Park involves funneling traffic underground. Taksim is a major transportation hub. The artery boulevards of Cumhuriyet (from the north) and Taralbasi (from the south) lie along the west side of Taksim/Gezi. Here these boulevards are being refashioned into tunnels --...

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Istanbul's Mean Streets

(1) Comments | Posted June 3, 2013 | 11:28 AM

This is video I shot Saturday morning, June 1, on Istiklal, the main globalized shopping street in this besieged city's European side. The street runs into Taksim Square across from Gezi Park. Usually it's a swarming tide of tourists and locals. A different scene these days. More details after video.

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Eyewitness Istanbul May Day: Tear Gas Not Tourism

(0) Comments | Posted May 1, 2013 | 2:17 PM

The ruling-party governor of Istanbul banned May Day demonstrations today at central Taksim Square, the traditional and recently revived site of May Day gatherings. Taksim is being massively renovated. The governor claimed security concerns. Labor unions and political groups scoffed and said they'd go ahead.

The result: police lockdown of...

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Dirty Harriet

(1) Comments | Posted January 2, 2013 | 5:35 PM

I sprang for $14 and saw Zero Dark Thirty in Times Square. Just to see if the criticisms -- Glenn Greenwald's leading the way -- squared with it.

They do. Zero Dark Thirty is indeed propaganda as hopped-up quasi-doc, an exercise in embedded filmmaking. Bush, Cheney, and...

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A Remembrance In Edinburgh

(1) Comments | Posted January 9, 2012 | 11:00 AM

As my plane descended towards Scotland, I boasted to the guy next to me that the first thing I'd do in Glasgow was grab a meat pie and a pint of Tennant's 80 shilling ale. After we landed, I settled for a square-cut-sausage sandwich and a cappuccino -- life-threatening enough.

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Drive -- A Thriller That's One Thrilling Eyeful

(0) Comments | Posted September 15, 2011 | 1:27 PM

Nicolas Winding Refn's hard-boiled stripped-down crime thriller Drive thrums with such knockout style, I'll wager a platinum set of dual carbs on an Oscar nomination for its cinematographer, Newton Thomas Sigel, at the least.

The film, which opens Friday, has already garnered the...

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The Pera Palace Hotel, "Pearl of Istanbul" (PHOTOS)

(2) Comments | Posted August 22, 2011 | 10:33 AM

A pearl of Istanbul's glory days is about to mark the first anniversary of its reappearance.

The Pera Palace Hotel, born in the gilded age of the Orient Express, reopened its doors last September after a monumental feat of restoration lasting over two years at a cost of...

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The Real Legacy of El Bulli

(0) Comments | Posted July 31, 2011 | 4:49 PM


The starship of the dining future, El Bulli, just closed its doors. So ends the restaurant phase of Mr. Wizard Ferran Adriá. Phase 2.0 will be a wide-ranging research center housed in a state of the art/future recoversion of the restaurant's...

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Japan's Top Lit Translator Comes to NYC: Gangster Fables

(0) Comments | Posted December 2, 2010 | 2:59 PM

I'll have the pleasure of doing a bilingual reading on Thurs. Dec. 9 in New York with my good friend Motoyuki Shibata who is visiting from Japan.

We'll be reading at Kinokuniya Bookstore in Manhattan from my new book of stories Gangster Fables,...

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Blood Logic

(2) Comments | Posted December 1, 2010 | 1:53 PM

"Any lives they endangered, they're personally responsible for and the blood is on their hands." ~ Mike Huckabee.

The Wikileaks leaker has blood on his hands. But George Bush doesn't.

The Wikileaks leaker has blood on his hands. But Dick Cheney doesn't.

The Wikileaks leaker has blood...

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Finding Seoul Between a Hipster Bar and a Night Market

(8) Comments | Posted November 8, 2010 | 11:10 AM


In Seoul last month, my first visit, I was pleased to discover one of the coolest little bars in the whole wide world.

It's called Pub of the Blue Star. It can be found in a side alley off the northern end of Insadong-gil, the arty...

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Walking with Joy: Amsterdam

(34) Comments | Posted September 10, 2010 | 2:57 PM

I had the pleasure of a month in Amsterdam this summer (ciao to New York's hottest June-August on record). I knew Amsterdam's attractions from previous visits. But this time I realized how it's one of the world's great cities for walking (but watch out for bicycles!).

I love rambling...

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My Tale of Two World Cup Cities: Madrid vs Amsterdam

(4) Comments | Posted July 16, 2010 | 5:50 AM

I flew to Amsterdam from New York a couple of days ago, connecting through Madrid with a long layover. So happenstance offered me a paired glimpse of the two capitals from the World Cup final: red winner, orange loser.


We had five hours in Madrid between planes. We...

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Spain of the Good Heart

(2) Comments | Posted July 12, 2010 | 10:41 AM

Spain won a final that turned almost immediately from a sporting contest to a morality play. Spain were the good guys.

Holland deserted its great legacy of Total Football and went for a disgraceful program of thuggish fouling. (Take your pick of such adjectives from a wide spectrum of

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World Cup Disappoints

(13) Comments | Posted July 1, 2010 | 9:15 AM

It ain't been a good World Cup. Some thoughts on doings in South Africa as we head to the quarterfinals:

The vuvuzelas are a nightmare. They ruin the experience and drama of a live contest. Their relentless mechanical drone produces affectless. It has a sense of purposefully drowning out the...

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