BEST THINGS I READ/HEARD ONLINE AND OTHERWISE THIS WEEK (11/8/15)

  1. "Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)" by Walt Whitman
    I’m co-leading a new writing/public speaking program at two high schools, focused on cultural identity and social dynamics. We used this phrase from "Song of Myself” (Leaves of Grass) as a writing prompt for a group of 10th graders and were floored with the beautiful, heartbreaking, poetic results - the feeling of being misunderstood and misidentified is uniquely real for everyone. To me , having a voice to share that story is somewhere at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid.
  2. Sesame Street’s New Brand of Autism Education
  3. Banks - “Better”
    Play count 12395710924750192745 and growing // via YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOsGx25HvmI
  4. Two Hopi Traditions: Running and Winning
    "Success is built on endurance, not speed.” // via New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/05/sports/hopi-high-school-cross-country-running.html?_r=1
  5. "From Jamaica to Minnesota to Myself" by Marlon James
    "...an irrefutable argument for suicide jumped out and grabbed me by the neck: the scene in which the protagonist, having given himself his own expiration date, realizes that he can put up with anything, tolerate everything, suffer through all things because he knows when he’s going to check out." // via New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/15/magazine/from-jamaica-to-minnesota-to-myself.html?_r=1
  6. When People—and Characters—Surprise You
    Mary Gaitskill, author of The Mare, explains how a single moment in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina reveals its characters’ hidden selves. "I find it strange that the moment these characters seem most like themselves are the moments when they’re behaving in ways we’ve never before seen." // via The Atlantic http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/11/by-heart-mary-gaitskill-tolstoy-anna-karenina/413740/
  7. The Mad Scientists of Levi’s
    "The job requires as much chemistry as design. One key employee was previously a chocolate temperer in a candy factory; another, a furniture refinisher." // via New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/06/fashion/mens-style/levis-denim-lab-san-francisco.html
  8. “Cities are constantly trying to find out where they fit on the spectrum of order/civility and chaos/freedom/creativity.”
    From Garth Risk Hallberg's reading in Pasadena. I'm fascinated by the transformation of New York City over the last 50 years; CITY ON FIRE takes place in 1976, and we spoke after the reading about New York (d)evolving from a place of rampant creativity, crime, and personal freedom to controlled systems, gentrification, infrastructure, and possible homogeneity.
  9. “Technically, yes, I would like a blanket.” - Josh, a young man without a house who sits on a bench I walk past every day. He has a gentle demeanor and kind face. We spoke for the first time on Monday night.
    Last week was cold by LA standards, and I passed him on the bench, his arms tucked into his hoodie, hunched over to keep warm. I got home and packed a large shopping bag with a blanket, socks, and some food. When I returned, he said the above quote and then explained he couldn’t take the blanket because it makes him look too comfortable and therefore makes him a target, so he'd have to decline. We spoke for a few, I left him the socks and food. He left me feeling like I'd made a friend.