Leonard Cohen's, Leaving the Table

I've never really been a Leonard Cohen fan, but this song got me.

In a posthumous new video for Leonard Cohen's "Leaving The Table," an animated paper cutout of the late singer dances and flies over a cityscape of Montreal, free as a bird, untethered from the mortal world.
"I'm leaving the table," he sings as the animated Cohen spins, dips and flits by scenes from his past life. "I'm out of the game / I don't know the people / In your picture frame." It's a tribute that's both heartbreaking and beautiful, revealing an artist who left the world content that he'd lived every moment to his fullest.
The video, conceived and directed by Christopher Mills, premiered at last night's Polaris Music Prize ceremony. "Leaving The Table" is from Cohen's You Want It Darker, released in October 2016, just days before the singer's death (via).

I'm Leaving the Table, by Leonard Cohen
 

I'm leaving the table
I'm out of the game
I don't know the people
In your picture frame
If I ever loved you or no, no
It's a crying shame if I ever loved you
If I knew your name

You don't need a lawyer
I'm not making a claim
You don't need to surrender
I'm not taking aim

I don't need a lover, no, no
The wretched beast is tame
I don't need a lover
So blow out the flame

There's nobody missing
There is no reward
Little by little
We're cutting the cord
We're spending the treasure, oh, no, no
That love cannot afford
I know you can feel it
The sweetness restored


I don't need a reason
For what I became
I've got these excuses
They're tired and lame
I don't need a pardon, no, no, no, no, no
There's no one left to blame
I'm leaving the table
I'm out of the game

I'm leaving the table
I'm out of the game

 

Kinda reminds me of Johnny Cash's remake, Hurt

 

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Seed of Hypocrisy : Power of Vulnerability

"He (John Proctor) is a sinner, a sinner not only against the moral fashion of his time, but against his own vision of decent conduct. These people (the Puritans) had no ritual for the washing away of sins. It is another trait we inherited from them, and it has helped to discipline us well to breed hypocrisy among us. Proctor, respected and even feared in Salem, has come to regard himself as a kind of fraud."

This quote, from Arthur Miller's The Crucible, was penned in the 1950's and stands as a defining critique against our current humanity. But it doesn't need to be. 

Over the past few years I have been wrestling with the idea and role of apology because, from what I can gather, it seems to be the only ritual we have that can "wash away our sins." Where deep and sincere apologies are present, and where both parties willingly and lovingly choose to lay their faults and mistakes down before another, the sweetest of reconciliation suddenly invades the room, empathy replaces justification, and wounds of separation become battle scars of a beautiful victory. For just as light beats away the darkness, so too does vulnerability erase hypocrisy, trapping it in the darkness from whence it came. 

However, where defensiveness and justification dwell, hypocrisy reigns, enslaved to a life much like Proctor's: feared by many and a fraud to all.

Until the music starts to play.

For the past week or so, in preparation for The Crucible, my Junior English class and I have been researching the life and ideas of the Puritans - the breaking off from the church of England in hopes of religious freedom, their emphasis on hard work, and their unrelenting suppression of emotions and sin. As a wrap up as well as an introduction to the play, we watched the opening scene to Jaws - Chrissie's Last Swim. But before starting the short clip I asked the students, "What role does the music play in this scene?" Then I pressed play.

Even before Chrissie is tugged beneath the water, because of the iconic "duuh-duh" we know something bad is going to happen - that disaster is eminent. Just like life for the Puritans.

"Reading about the Puritans, there should be a sort of "duuh-duh" playing in the background," I said to my students, "Why?"

"Because the conditions we're perfect for disaster," they said. And they're right.

Conditions for the early settlers were extremely harsh. Food was scarce, the weather cold and difficult, and the religious freedom they were hoping to escape from was as distant as their family and friends back in England. To make matters worse, they were expected to live and think and be perfect - because they believed themselves to be like the Egyptians of old, God's chosen people headed to the Promised Land. And God's chosen people don't lust, lose their temper, or envy thy neighbor's land. Because they're God's chosen people.

And as such, they had no need for repentance.

Duuuuh-duh. Duuh-duh. 

As Arthur Miller said, "it is a trait we inherited from them, and it has helped to discipline us well to breed hypocrisy among us." Respected and even feared, we have come to regard ourselves as a kind of fraud, and we're terrified of being found out.

Because, "there are aspects to all of us that, if they were exposed to a harsh or unsympathetic critic, would result in sever humiliation and mockery . . . From close up, we are, none of us, reliably impressive. We get agitated, fretful, cantankerous, and panicky.  Under the pressure of events, we shout, slam doors, let out screams, or wails" (via).

We are clumsy and constantly worried about how others will see us, how and where our careers and families are going, and we worry that we may not be loved (or loved the right way), all the while, forgetting to love, give, and think of others. 

Just like the Puritans (duuh-duh), 

It's no surprise, then, that, because of our hypocrisy, we struggle to gain and keep sincere relationships: because we don't quite grasp the importance of vulnerability.

There are moments where the revelation of weakness, far from being a catastrophe, is the only possible root to connection and respect. At points, we may dare to explain, with rare frankness, that we are afraid, we are sometimes bad, and that we have done many silly things. And rather than appalling our companions, these revelations may serve to endear us to them, humanizing us in their eyes, and letting them feel that their own vulnerabilities have echoes in the lives of others.

Vulnerability can be a bedrock of friendship. Friendship properly understood, not just or primarily as a process of admiration, but as an exchange of sympathy and consolation for the troublesome business of being alive.

Why don't we do this? Why don't I do this?

Because swimming naked in deep, dark water is dangerous. Better to stay on the beach and get defensive, to find ways my wife has hurt or failed me so I can quickly cover my inadequicies and truly unimpressive self with excuses and stories.

Fortunately for me though, my wife is a terrible Puritan.

In the midst of my selfish rants, my wife will often take a risk and become vulnerable. With tears in her eyes, she will apologize, and when I don' hear it for what it is, she apologizes again - even for things that aren't completely her fault, and completely disarms the situation. Suddenly, everything changes. Suddenly, my need to be good and perfect and strong seem petty and stupid and completely selfish. Suddenly, instead of moving further away, we come move closer and begin to share and acknowledge the troublesome business of being human, together, neither caring who is right and who is wrong. 

This vulnerability, this willingness and ability to admit fault and seek forgiveness is our "washing away of sins" that keeps us from the vicious pits of hypocrisy. We are all wounded, worried, and damaged. Pretending not to be is mere pretense, and it is a denial of our membership of the human race. A human race full of imperfections and blemishes that are just waiting to be revealed and then forgiven. 

It is something of {major} tragedy that we should spend so much of our lives striving to hide our weakness when it is in fact only upon the dignified sharing of our {failures} that true friendship and love can arise."

Only then, will we no longer hear the music.

Standing, for a moment, with refugees

Refugees, primarily from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq prepare to board a train at a refugee transit camp, or reception center for refugees and migrants, in Gevgelija, Macedonia on October 2, 2015.

Refugees, primarily from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq prepare to board a train at a refugee transit camp, or reception center for refugees and migrants, in Gevgelija, Macedonia on October 2, 2015.

The refugee crisis is inescapable in today’s news. Striking visuals emerging from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa illustrate a story of both desperation and hope. These images allow viewers to stand for a moment alongside migrants and refugees fleeing their home countries in search of a new life and new opportunities.
Refugees and migrants enter a registration and transit center in Opatovac, Croatia, on October 7, 2015. Approximately 4000-5000 people, mostly from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, pass through this border town every day on their way to Western Europe.

Refugees and migrants enter a registration and transit center in Opatovac, Croatia, on October 7, 2015. Approximately 4000-5000 people, mostly from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, pass through this border town every day on their way to Western Europe.

On November 14-15, the Tufts Institute for Global Leadership (IGL) and VII Photo Agency mark 10 years of collaboration with a series of seminars and workshops at VII Perspectives: Migration. VII founder and Chair of IGL’s Program for Narrative and Documentary Practice, Gary Knight, will be joined by leading VII photojournalists for two days of dialogue and hands-on experience. A selection of several of the photographers’ work on the refugee crisis is highlighted below (via).
One thousand migrants and refugees from countries including Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, as well as regions of the Balkans and Africa at an emergency shelter at Olympia Stadiom in Berlin, Germany on September 24, 2015.

One thousand migrants and refugees from countries including Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, as well as regions of the Balkans and Africa at an emergency shelter at Olympia Stadiom in Berlin, Germany on September 24, 2015.

 

Photos by Ashley Gilbertson

Ashley Gilbertson’s images capture refugees – mostly from Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, as well as regions of the Balkans and Africa – on their way into and through Europe during September 2015.

The exodus of people from Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East to Europe is the largest movement of people since World War II. Working in the refugee transit centers, which see thousands of people daily, the photographer notes that conditions at some of the camps are getting slightly better. However, some conditions – such as five hour train rides packed so tightly there is no room to move beyond the spot people are standing – reflect challenges in addressing the scale of the crisis.

Refugees primarily from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are called to by volunteers as they land near Scala, on the island of Lesvos, Greece on September 30, 2015.

Refugees primarily from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are called to by volunteers as they land near Scala, on the island of Lesvos, Greece on September 30, 2015.

Refugees primarily from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are helped by volunteers as they disembark boats near Scala, on the island of Lesvos, Greece on September 30, 2015. The Agean sea is particularly rough, with the first signs of winter storms beginning today. Many refugees were sea sick, some to the point of life threatening conditions due to dehydration and cold.

Refugees primarily from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are helped by volunteers as they disembark boats near Scala, on the island of Lesvos, Greece on September 30, 2015. The Agean sea is particularly rough, with the first signs of winter storms beginning today. Many refugees were sea sick, some to the point of life threatening conditions due to dehydration and cold.

Kadoni Kinan, 26, a volunteer, helps a young Syrian boy as he disembarks a boat near Scala, on the island of Lesvos, Greece on September 30, 2015. Kadoni Kinan left his home in Saragep, Syria five years ago. Kinan successfully filed for refugee status, and today lives in Belgium, where he studies Flemish at school and volunteers for the Red Cross.

Kadoni Kinan, 26, a volunteer, helps a young Syrian boy as he disembarks a boat near Scala, on the island of Lesvos, Greece on September 30, 2015. Kadoni Kinan left his home in Saragep, Syria five years ago. Kinan successfully filed for refugee status, and today lives in Belgium, where he studies Flemish at school and volunteers for the Red Cross.

 

Photos by Ed Kashi

In November 2013, photographer Ed Kashi went to Iraq and Jordan, working with the International Medical Corps (IMC). IMC is a humanitarian non-profit organization that provides aid and relief to those affected by conflict and crisis.

The photographer’s work reflects IMC’s efforts to increase awareness and improve not only the physical, but also the mental health of young refugees plagued by depression, fear, suffering, and the sense of a life turned upside down. His images intimately llustrates the plight of this lost generation.

Children gather in an enclave of tents at the Al Za'atri refugee camp for Syrians near Mafraq, Jordan on Nov. 25, 2013.

Children gather in an enclave of tents at the Al Za'atri refugee camp for Syrians near Mafraq, Jordan on Nov. 25, 2013.

A young girl enjoys a lollipop while watching shoppers in the Domiz Camp for Syrian Refugees just outside of Dohuk, Iraq on Nov. 23, 2013.

A young girl enjoys a lollipop while watching shoppers in the Domiz Camp for Syrian Refugees just outside of Dohuk, Iraq on Nov. 23, 2013.

Refugees walk through the overcrowded Al Za'atri refugee camp for Syrians, near Mafraq, Jordan on Nov. 17, 2013. There, International Medical Corps, IMC, is pushing to increase awareness and improve not only the physical, but also the mental health of young refugees plagued by depression, fear, suffering, and the sense of a life turned upside down.

Refugees walk through the overcrowded Al Za'atri refugee camp for Syrians, near Mafraq, Jordan on Nov. 17, 2013. There, International Medical Corps, IMC, is pushing to increase awareness and improve not only the physical, but also the mental health of young refugees plagued by depression, fear, suffering, and the sense of a life turned upside down.

 

Photos by Ron Haviv

Like Maciek Nabrdalik’s, this selection of Ron Haviv’s photographs are centered on the Lesvos, Greece. There, he has captured the work of volunteers helping refugees to arrive safely, as well as the migrants’ journey once they have made it to shore.

A refugees looks towards Turkey after arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos.

A refugees looks towards Turkey after arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Refugees arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Refugees arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos.

A Spanish volunteer lifeguard helps refugees arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos.

A Spanish volunteer lifeguard helps refugees arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos.

While looking at these images of hope and love, I couldn't help but think, "Where is America?"

Then I remembered. We're building walls.

 

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Standardized Tests : More questions than answers

A typical classroom possess an endless variety of instructional strategies, assessment types, and teacher caps that service the needs of the vast variety of students and all their quirks, personalities, and interests. 

Then, after months of sweat and toil and learning everything is stripped down and discolored into a standardized test. A test which "may help us learn a little about a lot of people in a short time, but they usually can’t tell us a lot about a single person."

And t's been going on for thousands of years.

Think of a standardized test as a rule. A ruler’s usefulness depends on two things: First, the job we ask it to do. Our ruler can’t measure the temperature outside or how loud someone is singing. Second, the ruler’s usefulness depends on its design.

Rulers can’t measure the circumfrince of an orange, only length, because the ruler doesn’t have the flexibility required for the task at hand. “So, if standardized tests are given the wrong job or aren’t designed properly, they may end up measuring the wrong things.”

Like a child’s grasp of literacy or cultural familiarity, rather than their understanding of the content at hand.

Standardized tests can also have a hard time measuring abstract characteristics or skills such as creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration.

Perhaps the most crucial skills required and needed in our world today and in the future. 

It's like measuring the hight and weight of an athlete, rather than their actual play, and deciding if they'd make the team or not. 

It's passing the students who writes brilliant essays by skimming the text yet failing the ones who cry when Piggy dies  because they forget to turn in their homework. 

This, according to Sir Ken Robinson, is what's killing creativity and, possibly, the future. 

Our only hope for the future is to adapt a new conception of human ecology, one in which we start to reconstitute ourselves of the richness of human capacity. Our education system has mined our minds in the same way that we've strip-mined the Earth for a particular commodity, and for the future, it won't service. We have to rethink the fundamentals with which we are educating our children.
We have to use {human imagination} wisely . . . and see our creative capacities for the richness they are, and seeing our children for the hope that they are."

A hope that can't be measured with rulers or dots on paper. 

"The hardest part of learning something new isn't embracing new ideas, but letting go of old ones." 

So what if we get rid of standardized tests? What do we replace it with?

Is the education then left to the teachers? Administrators? Is there no longer any accountability and everyone is free to teach and learn and grow (or not) as they please?

Just because it has been thousand years of standardized tests, does that mean we should get rid of it?

If so, what? What do we fill it with? 

Sir Ken is fully inspiring and completely spot-on, and he never once mentions standardized testing. Is simply investing in the arts the answer? 

How can we truly measure all that humanity has to offer? 

How do we quantify creativity, ingenuity, and relationships? How do we measure humanity?

 

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A cargo ship's ridiculous 30-Day time lapse voyage.

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to travel the world on  barge. This video makes the regret palpable. 

Jeffrey Tsang is a maritime vlogger, sailor, and photographer on a container ship that travels across the globe. His latest video is a timelapse that captures 30 days of the barge’s journey, tracing its path from the Red Sea all the way to Hong Kong. The 4K video is composed of nearly 80,000 photos which capture breathtaking views of quickly shifting skies, deep red sunsets, and brilliant blue lightening amidst ferocious storms (via).

“Sailing in the open sea is a truly unique way to grasp how significantly small we are in the beautiful world,” says the Canadian photographer. “Chasing the endless horizon, witnessing the ever changing weather, and appreciating the bright stars and galaxies.”

Pay attention, too, to the small captions at the bottom. Pretty great stuff.

 

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The Lumineers ask, "What if?" with three brilliant videos

These three videos have stolen my attention for the last several days, and not only because I love these songs, but because of their interwoven stories and their wrestling with the effects of simple choices.

Like a battered wife wondering when to leave and find home at last because, 
 

The strangers in this town,
They raise you up just to cut you down
Oh Angela it's a long time coming

Let the exits pass, all the tar and glass
'Til the road and sky align

Notice the taxi at the end?

It's driven by a mother whose wrestling with loneliness and who could have had the love of her life but couldn't. Because of a black dress and her father in a casket. 

So I drive a taxi, and the traffic distracts me
From the strangers in my backseat, they remind me of you

But I was late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life
And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I'll be on time

 

But what if? 

What if we pack a toothbrush, take a withdrawal slip, and take all of our savings out?

What if we rail against our dying day?

Cause if we don't leave now, we might never make it out. 

 

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Judah misses China; Dad, Pizza Hut.

Homesick

Yesterday, all day, Judah missed his home, China. He missed his teachers, his friends, his room, his house, and his neighborhood. From the moment he got up to well after he should have been asleep, China was on his mind. He even asked if we would consider moving back, "Because it's home," he explained, "And it's better than America."

So, naturally, I asked if I could take his picture. "Why?" he asked.

"Because I think it's good to remember the hard times too." Then, we spent the evening writing old friends and reminiscing about our days in China. Judah said it all just felt like one long dream. 

Then today, things were better, but I couldn't stop thinking about some of our discussions and how, within a few months, Judah's memory of China had changed so much. It wasn't that he ever hated China, it was just that he was so excited to be here, in America, with green grass, beautiful skies, and several planned camping adventures.

So, out of curiosity, I looked up how many days he and I have been back in the US: 87. Then, I looked up day 87 on my "Last Hundred Days of China" countdown. 

Here's what I found:

Day 87 : Days like this

When it's not always raining there'll be days like this
When there's no one complaining there'll be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there'll be days like this

 
This evening, when I sat down to write, these lyrics, "There'll be days like, there'll be days like this" ran through my head and I had to look it up. I didn't know it was a Van Morrison song, but I recognized the tune. The lyrics also seemed appropriate.
Working and living in a small community, at times, is like living in a crawl space; it's confining, dark, and it stinks. There aren't many days like this, but when there are, like a thick blanket of pollution that steals away the joy of the sun, they're suffocating. 
When everyone is up front and they're not playing tricks
When you don't have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When it's nobody's business the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember there'll be days like this
I've been wrestling with several ideas this past week, ideas about unity and thoughtful disagreements and how to be promotors of the Faith through mindful discussions, but very limited time to actually write them out. I've also been wanting to document my final days in this country I've loved and lived and worked in for just under five years. I've been trying to find a balance between working hard, leaving well, having a baby, loving my kids, finding a job, serving my wife, and maintaining my sanity; I've been trying not to check out early (as I am often prone to do) and be present, to keep investing. 
When no one steps on my dreams there'll be days like this
When people understand what I mean there'll be days like this
When you ring out the changes of how everything is
Well my mama told me there'll be days like this
But days like these have me wanting to pack my bags and leave it all behind (minus the baby, kids, and Momma of course . . . and perhaps a few books).
Oh my mama told me
There'll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There'll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There'll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There'll be days like this
Days like this. I want to remind myself of days like this because, as much as I love China and my job and the people I work with and the people I meet on the streets, I also want the last 100 days of me being here to be appropriately represented, not fabricated or dishonest. I want it to be a true goodbye.
Right now, Josey and I are battling the tendency of accidentally making America heaven. The "Just wait till we get to America," or, "In America we'll . . ." but they come without warning and bring great devastation because America isn't the promised land, and our baggage and weaknesses and faults will hop on the plane with us. We will still have days like this.
But I also don't want to look back and read through this blog and think, "Wow, in China, there was no hurt, no struggles, and no broken relationships. It was heaven!" Because it isn't. 
Leaving well, I think, also means leaving honest. It means reconciling what can be, affirming those we'll miss, and nodding at the things we won't, with a sort of, "It's okay, really, but goodbye" sort of understanding and a no-hard-feelings handshake. Literally, and metaphorically.
I'm not there yet, ready to say goodbye with a good attitude, but I hope to be. That's even why I started this 100 Days thing . . . to walk through the process of saying goodbye, and to one day be able to look back and remember. All of it. 
The beauty and the pain. The joys and the sorrow. The triumphs. The disappointments. 
The days like this.

Reading it again today was encouraging, but also enlightening. Especially when compared to a small posting by Retro Ramblings and their remembrance of "When eating at Pizza Hut was an experience."

I miss the “glory days” of Pizza Hut.  That magical time in the 80’s and early 90’s when it was a destination, and not just somewhere to eat.  I’ve found recently that those days of yore are long gone, and what is left is what seems like a company struggling to hang on . . .
From the moment you walked in the place, you knew it was something special. You knew this was going to be something you’d remember, and it all started with the decor. The interior didn’t look like a fast food joint with it’s huge, sprawling windows, and cheap looking walls, or tiled floors. When you walked in, you were greeted by brick walls, with smaller windows, that had thick red fabric curtains pulled back, and a carpeted floor. It just felt higher-class than walking into McDonalds or Burger King.
The booths were high-backed, with thick padded vinyl seats and back rests. The high backs was also different from your usual eating out experience. These high backs gave you a sense of privacy, which was great for a date night. Also great for a date night were the candles on the tables. Those little red glass candles that were on every table, and were lit when you got to your seat. It was a little thing, but when added to everything else, it was quite the contribution. Your silverware was wrapped in a thick, cloth napkin that beat the heck out of the paper napkins everyone else was using at the time. And you could always count on the table being covered by a nice, red and white, checkered table cloth.

Exactly. For me Pizza Hut was one of the first places I was allowed to go to without parents, which meant traveling a few miles away from home and entering the dark adult world where my friends and I could get lost in those high-backed benches and our own personal-panned pizzas. Remember those? How you could earn a free one just for reading a few books? I never read any but I sure had more than a few free four-sliced pizzas. 

Also, there was this: "The arcade game they featured at my local Pizza Hut, and I believe most of them is kind of iconic in it’s own way.  It was a machine that featured two games.  Mrs. Pac-Man and Galaga.  The unique feature was that it was a sit down cabinet, with a chair on each side in which you and a partner / opponent could both sit comfortably and play."

It's easy, I think, to look back on the "glory days" of years past and remember how great it was, mainly because we tend to forget how shitty it was. 

It's also easy to always want and anticipate what's next because, like America from China, it can't be anything but perfect. 

Yet, we allow both to completely steal from the now.

In a recounting of the time she almost cheated on her husband and ruined her marriage, Jane Green has this to say about life in the past, present, and future.

"The grass isn't always greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it."

It's always good to remember those we've known and loved and the places we've seen and miss. It's also important to dream, to know where you want to go, and to strive and work at achieving those goals. But spinning the record too fast will bring us to the end too soon. 

Today, I've been given right now, and although there's pain and sadness and longings for things past and things to come, the music playing is still pretty damn good. And whenever I stop long enough to actually listen it, pretty quickly I realize the song that is playing is actually really, really good. 

I just need to turn up the volume. 

 

The Drone King, a previously unpublished Kurt Vonnegut short story

kurt-vonnegut-opens-up-about-his.jpg

The Atlantic has just put up a previously unpublished short story by Kurt Vonnegut, The Drone King. It’s about bees.

He examined the card for a long time. “Yes,” he said at last. “Mr. Quick is expecting you. You’ll find him in the small library — second door on the left, by the grandfather clock.”

“Thank you,” I said, and I started past him.

He caught my sleeve. “Sir—”

“Yes?,” I said.

“You aren’t wearing a boutonniere, are you?”

“No,” I said guiltily. “Should I be?”

“If you were,” he said, “I’d have to ask you to check it. No women or flowers allowed past the front desk.”

I paused by the door of the small library. “Say,” I said, “you know this clock has stopped?”

“Mr. Quick stopped it the night Calvin Coolidge died,” he said.

I blushed. “Sorry,” I said.

“We all are,” he said. “But what can anyone do?”

An audio version of the article is available.

The story is one of five that Vonnegut wrote in the early 1950s that were recently discovered in the author’s papers. These five, plus all of Vonnegut’s other short stories, will be out in book form later this month.

* This post was cut and pasted from kottke.org

 

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Wall Drawing 797: An "intricate visual butterfly effect"

412211_orig.jpg
How does one person’s actions influence the next person’s actions in a shared space? Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings explore this intricate visual butterfly effect in the collaborative art entitled Wall Drawing 797, a conceptual piece that can be drawn by following LeWitt’s instructions. (He died in 2007.)

Scandinavian countries call it the "red thread," the thing that ties all of us together in theme, message, and purpose. 

The first drafter has a black marker and makes an irregular horizontal line near the top of the wall. Then the second drafter tries to copy it (without touching it) using a red marker. The third drafter does the same, using a yellow marker. The fourth drafter does the same using a blue marker. Then the second drafter followed by the third and fourth copies the last line drawn until the bottom of the wall is reached.

The drawing was conceived with student participation in mind and was first executed by four Amherst College sculpture students. "The wall drawing represents a return to the linear repetition that Sol LeWitt explored in his wall drawings of the late 1960s and 19‘70s. The instructions for the drawing direct draftsmen to copy, without touching, the line made by the previous draftsman. The repeated process becomes an exploration of the intricacies of the line. This reflects LeWitt’’s belief that “the draftsman’’s contributions are unable to be predicted by the artist…”. As the draftsman repeatedly copies the line, it becomes drastically altered from its original state, and the smooth original line becomes more and more nervous as it is redrawn."


Before drawing the initial line, the head draftsman drew test lines on paper and copied them in order to see how the different lines would evolve. The line that he eventually chose to draw in black marker on the wall was inspired by the hills of the surrounding Berkshires landscape. Each copy of this undulating line took the draftsman between ten and twenty minutes to execute. The process of copying takes intense focus. If draftsmen feel that they are about to lose focus and deviate from the previous line, they take a break, making sure to start at the exact spot from which they lifted the marker.

I have a giant wall, both in my classroom and in my house. Kinda want to draw a thick black line and see what happens. Maybe an Art Starts?

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Art  :  On Creativity  

 

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Humans of New York. S1: E1.

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“Humans of New York began as a photography project in 2010.  The initial goal was to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street, and create an exhaustive catalogue of the city’s inhabitants" (via). Since then, it has become one of the most popular ongoing documentaries of humanity, expanding over twenty different countries, and gaining over 18 million followers world wide.

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Recently, the premiere episode of Humans of New York aired. Filmed over four years with more than 1200 interviews, BRANDON STANTON is sharing the lives of the people of New York, one story at a time (via). 

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"These stories focus on specific populations, examining their experiences and the challenges that they face" (via), which is both encouraging and heartbreaking. 

Encouraging because we can be reminded that we are not alone in our hardships and difficulties, and heartbreaking because they are us and we are them. And when they ache, we all ache.

Or, at least we should.

You can follow Brandon Stanton and the humans of New York on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Humanity  :  Regular People, like us  :  Real People, Real Stories

 

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