Wednesday, December 17, 2014

clearing the desk

So glad Chris Rock's new movie is playing, first because we get to watch it, second because there's no better time to have this man speaking out regularly in the news. The chain is around the brain: the sexual exploitation of children in California. The boy from Jurassic Park's college admissions essay. Thierry Cohen's Darkened Cities. Adult siblings and happiness. Ever conscientious, the New York Times takes a moment to explain 'ants on a log' in this article on the life of a pot critic: 'the children’s snack of raisins and peanut butter on top of celery'. Beautiful Norwegian passports. Where to begin with Ursula LeGuin. The junction, the gapers, the merge. 'Let’s just talk about how impossible it is to keep your life from spiraling out of control when you have no financial cushion whatsoever. And let’s also talk about the ways in which money advice is geared only toward people who actually have money in the first place.' Women sing waulking songs of Scotland. Thank me later: an interview with Drake's voice coach.

And finally, the Nakasendo Trail, an old road in Japan that connects Kyoto to Tokyo. It was once a major foot highway, the in-land equivalent of the Hokkaido, traveled by nobles, samurai, and artists like the poet Basho. Today, small sections retain some of its historical feel. More pictures here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

first and foremost

Like many of us, I've been riveted to the news unfolding around Mike Brown's murder; Ferguson, Missouri; and the non-indictment of the grand jury. I click links and read until I feel too angry, or sad, or sick to keep going.

Over the weekend my family and I had long talks about what we'd read. We talked about what a mess everything was. What this said about the state of race relations in our country. Whether we'd made any progress as a nation since the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. How devastatingly far we still have to go.

But I haven't participated in this conversation online at all. Not a peep. Mostly, I use social media feeds as a reader, as places to consume, not create.

That now seems insufficient. It devastates me to think that, on a matter that so preoccupies me, this silence could be read as apathy. Our country is crumbling. We are all at stake. There is, to me, no more important conversation being had.

So here we are, in this little attic, a place where I sometimes fling my odds and ends so I can return to them later to rifle through, hold things to the light. And in the spirit of this tiny corner, here are scraps of what I've been reading. If you're looking to learn or commiserate or challenge yourself, these might be good places to start:

on waking up and smelling the water. how to argue eloquently about Ferguson. how to address the riot shamers. riots as a 'language of the unheard'. riots as 'exactly what’s supposed to happen when an injustice is happening in your community'. MLK Jr. on the stumbling block of the white moderate more concerned with 'order' than with justice. #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. Last Words. 12 things white people can do because Ferguson. and, closer to home, the demonization of Gary, Indiana.

only a fraction of the preponderance of important, thoughtful things being said right now, buy it's a start.