the true tale of the Naga Jolokia, the world’s hottest chili). We were more interested in the apparatus of celebrity and fandom; in the body as commodity; in the mind games and energy drinks and exercise tapes.
And so we set out to find the most improbably compelling figures in the wide world of sports. Like Mohammad Khordadian, the elusive, effusive god-king of Persian dancercise, whose thirty-year career spans Tehran and Tehrangeles and Dubai. Like Omar Sharif, smoldering star of stage and screen and roving ambassador for the not-yet-Olympic sport of Bridge. Like Nada Zeidan — archeress, spokesmodel, and road-racer by day, emergency room nurse by night. Like Shah Rukh Khan, the Muslim face of Bollywood cinema and owner of his own cricket team, the Kolkata Knight Riders. Like Stephen Cherono and other Kenyan long- and middle-distance runners who have found infamy and fortune as Arabized athletes in the Gulf.
Other features consider avian sports medicine, intramural three-legged racing, competitive Magic: The Gathering, and transcripts from Iranian state television’s #1 sports show.
In the arts section: Neil Beloufa’s ghosts of futures past, Alvaro Perdices’ ruined Algerian museums, and Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc’s tricontinental revolutionary séance.
Revews: Nicky Nodjoumi // Karthik Pandian // Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art // Pouran Jinchi // Decolonizing Architecture // Walid Raad // Mounira Al Solh // Wael Shawky.
Plus: Sohrab Mohebbi’s letter from an Iranian soccer pitch, Dave Tompkin’s encounter with electronic music pioneer Hashim, and red velvet cake with Yemeni-American boxer Saddam Ali.