A list of four things about Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther that stuck with me in the months following my first viewing (I am not good at listicles).
A list of four things about Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther that stuck with me in the months following my first viewing (I am not good at listicles).
At 2 East 70th Street the day-shift doorman recognized her—“That you, Mrs. Dyer?”—and with a certain amount of pride Isabel remembered his name—“Hello, Felix”—and chatted about family, his four children now all grown, the older two with children themselves, though time unarticulated was the truer subject, Felix following the doorman code and refraining from asking personal questions, but seeing Mrs. Dyer of the sixth floor gave him a passing awareness of the gap between when he was young and when she was old and how it had narrowed to a crack.
–& Sons, David Gilbert
if you really want to understand something, the best way is to try and explain it to someone else. That forces you to sort it out in your own mind. And the more slow and dim-witted your pupil, the more you have to break things down into more and more simple ideas. And that’s really the essence of programming. By the time you’ve sorted out a complicated idea into little steps that even a stupid machine can deal with, you’ve certainly learned something about it yourself. The teacher usually learns more than the pupil. Isn’t that true?”
–Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Douglas Adams
It was as if he had been assigned to take apart a fiendishly complicated alarm clock to see why it wasn’t working, only to discover that an important part of the clock was inside his own mind.
–The Undoing Project, Michael Lewis
You would not, I imagine, suggest that it is the task of botanists to devise more flowers? Or that astronomers should labour to rearrange the stars? Magicians, Mr Segundus, study magic which was done long ago. Why should any one expect more?”
–Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
The hero of a David Lodge novel says that you don’t know, when you make love for the last time, that you are making love for the last time. Voting is like that. Some of the Germans who voted for the Nazi Party in 1932 no doubt understood that this might be the last meaningfully free election for some time, but most did not. Some of the Czechs and Slovaks who voted for the Czechoslovak Communist Party in 1946 probably realized that they were voting for the end of democracy, but most assumed they would have another chance. No doubt the Russians who voted in 1990 did not think that this would be the last free and fair election in their country’s history, which (thus far) it has been.
–On Tyranny, Timothy Snyder
I laughed and grabbed his head as I had done God knows how many times before, when I was playing with him or when he had annoyed me. But this time when I touched him something happened in him and in me which made this touch different from any touch either of us had ever known. And he did not resist, as he usually did, but lay where I had pulled him, against my chest. And I realized that my heart was beating in an awful way and that Joey was trembling against me and the light in the room was very bright and hot.
Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin
We shouted over the dinner tables and slipped away into empty rooms with each other’s spouses, carousing with all the enthusiasm and indiscretion of Greek gods. And in the morning, we woke at 6:30 on the dot, clearheaded and optimistic, ready to resume our places behind the stainless steel desks at the helm of the world.
–Rules of Civility, Amor Towles
“That’s not true. Of course you do. Denise would whisper to Sharon, and Sharon would tell her husband and her sister. You would come to the office and find them whispering, and after a few days, you’d begin to think that it was about you. After a week, you would start to think that people all over town were looking at you strangely. You would notice them trying to look directly past you when you ran into them in the grocery store and on the street. When Christmas came, you would have only half as many cards in your mailbox, and least once a year, junior-high boys would throw a half-dozen eggs at your window. “If you think they wouldn’t say anything, though, you’re right. They wouldn’t say a word. It would be rude and un-Christian to do so.
–All Our Names, Dinaw Mengestu
She attracted attention not so much because of the qualities of her features but rather because of the naturalness and grace with which her expression moved.
–IQ84, Huraki Murakami
When you borrow a lot of money to create a false prosperity, you import the future into the present. It isn’t the actual future so much as some grotesque silicone version of it. Leverage buys you a glimpse of a prosperity you haven’t really earned.
–Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, Michael Lewis
Some suggestions to 2018 Jamaal:
39. Love. One of my favorite Tupac lines was always “last year was a tough one, but life goes on” – it always feels true. I turned 38 during a tough time in my life. My career was going well, my personal and professional relationships were solid, my kid was healthy and happy and my marriage was a good one. I should have been content. I was still in shock from a national election that seemed to foreshadow a dark future. It was a reminder that the past was not past.
I ran ten miles on my birthday that year because I hoped that I could outrun what was starting to feel like more than a standard post-election funk. There was a quote from an old Radiolab podcast that stuck in my mind – “if love and mercy are good things, why are they missing so much of the time?” I found myself listening to Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker on runs. When he referenced the binding of Isaac in the chorus “Hineni, Hineni, I’m ready Lord”, I was moved. I was ready to serve, but felt lost.
The running worked for a little while, but I didn’t really start to feel better until family came by for Thanksgiving. Cooking and talking to my extended family helped me feel balanced. I shared the story from the podcast with my family – how Robert Krulwich struggled with the meaning of the sacrifices that Abraham and Noah were asked to make in God’s name, about how much can be read into the silences of the Old Testament narratives. I told them that we all needed to find that love and mercy in one another. We were all we had. In the months that followed, the reactionary resurgence in this country was met by a wave of progressive activism led by an awe inspiring range of people from different backgrounds and cultures, with different experiences and gender identities, from a wide range of groups that could be defined as ‘left’. There have been a number of setbacks, but there have been some hopeful moments. I’m not under any illusion. The next few years will be extraordinarily difficult and we will all have to endure some challenging times. But we’ve got a chance.
I ran 11 miles this year for my birthday run. I originally planned to run to the veterans memorials on Long Wharf to briefly pay my respects, but I just felt compelled to keep going. I only stopped when my phone flashed a signal to inform me that it had 10% battery life and was going to shut down. It felt different this time. I felt content. I didn’t have anything to outrun.
It’s hard to avoid thinking about legacy in Philadelphia.
I spent most of last week in the city, my second visit as an adult. I was there for work, to attend a professional conference for people in higher education who work on issues related to gender equity. I stayed in appropriately generic hotels in downtown Philadelphia that featured good room service, warm staff and chilly conference rooms. I learned and networked during the day and wandered the streets in the evening.
During my first visit, I visited the Liberty Bell and walked by the Christ Church burial ground and Elfreth’s Alley. The city is filled with reminders of Philadelphia’s role in early American history, nods to the men and women who fought and sacrificed to win their freedom during the Revolutionary War. I felt like I was surrounded by America’s origin myth. On my second day at the 2016 conference, I learned about about institutional betrayal and Prof. Jennifer Freyd’s betrayal trauma theory.
It was fascinating stuff, but everyone was too busy talking about the Presidential campaign. A recording of one of the candidates talking frankly about some of the awful privileges that come with power had surfaced, and everyone was either frightened about what might happen if the candidate became President or confident that this revelation would doom his candidacy. I wandered by the President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of A New Nation exhibit later that evening. It was a profoundly moving experience that I was eager to replicate on my second trip to the city.
I spent some time in Philadelphia this week in order to think about gender equity in a time of uncertainty and regulatory change. I learned a lot, and left energized by conversations with brilliant colleagues who use their skills as educators and advocates to help make a better world.
The conference reminded me that this moment is an opportunity for all of us to demonstrate commitment to creating a welcome environment for people of all genders and to ending violence and harassment on our campuses.
The experience also helped me realize that the hard working folks in my field need to shift our focus from training models designed to help people understand policy and procedure (message: obey!) to a learning one where we help people learn about healthy relationships (with scaffolding strategies) and persuade people who aren’t inclined to care about our work or listen to us. It was a timely reminder that compliance isn’t enough – we have to get up off the floor and reach for the ceiling.
When I wasn’t doing that work (or dong other work), I used the time as an opportunity to sample some of the amazing cuisine and art in Philadelphia.
The food was uniformly delicious – from Bridgid’s delectable trout to the oyster po’ boy at Beck’s Cajun Cafe and the bialy and lox at Hershel’s East Side – but the highlight of the trip was a lunchtime visit to the Rodin Museum in the Fairmount neighborhood. The museum is on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, on the path to the Philadelphia Art Museum.
A replica of Rodin’s Thinker welcomes visitors and passersby at the entrance. I’m familiar with the famous sculpture, but I never spent much time thinking about it, except as a symbol/shorthand for deep contemplation. I marveled at Rodin’s ability to capture such a fundamentally internal process in a statue, but didn’t think about it as a representation of the human figure. When I stood in front of the statue, I found myself focusing on its physical characteristics – the knuckles, the tendons, the obliques, the body language.
The museum is located in a building that evokes ancient Greece. The museum’s website helpfully shares that it’s a Beaux Arts style building, a style of architecture from the 19th and early 20th century derived from France that blended ancient Greek and Roman designs with ones from the Renaissance and Baroque era. There’s usually a sense of grandness with buildings in this style, but the museum feels quiet and intimate. The garden and reflecting pool immediately outside the museum complements this effect – once you pass the two columns at the front of the museum, you feel like you’ve entered a different world.
The museum features over 140 pieces of Rodin’s work scattered throughout the building and in the garden area, with samples from every phase of his career. I found myself drawn to Rodin’s hands and faces. I love the way that he depicts emotional extremes, from the anguish of the Burghers of Calais walking towards their death and the gates of hell to the passion captured in I Am Beautiful and the exuberance of Youth Triumphant.
Rodin’s hands are expressive and beautifully rendered. They add layers of meaning to his sculptures. The hands of the burghers – both in the Burghers statues and in the Clenched Hand (an early study for the former) – complement the sense of hopelessness that one gets from Rodin’s faces.
His Cathedral suggests an intimacy between lovers that is a quieter counterpart to the more demonstrative I Am Beautiful or the powerfully passionate the Damned Women.
I was also struck by Rodin’s efforts to grapple with the ineffable through his Hand of God and Gates of Hell sculptures. The Hand of God draws a parallel between human and divine acts of creation, with God as divine sculptor, shaping humanity from a barren rock. The contrast between the hyper-real sculpture of a human hand emerging from a block of marble and the impossible image of the partially formed figures materializing from the rock is striking, almost magical. It’s a beautiful metaphor for the creative process.
The Gates of Hell are a powerful monument to the human experience. It contains figures in agony and ecstatic abandon, along with images suggesting compassion and love (both sexual and maternal).
The Thinker is perched near the top of the gates, surrounded by figures in all manner of embraces (some of which look passionate, others of which almost look torturous).
As with the Hand of God, the title of the piece suggests a straightforward religious interpretation, but the sculpture feels like a tangible representation of a doorway to the human mind, complete with chaotic and contradictory emotions and experiences.
The statues are impressive in photographs and art books but gain a magical quality when viewed in person. The interplay of light and shadow over the curves of the statues spark the imagination and add layers of mystery and meaning.
The hand in the Hand of God felt majestic and awe inspiring upon first view, but after looking at it for a few minutes in the midday light, it almost looked tender.
One of the first things I did when I moved to New Haven in the fall of 2014 was to sign up for races. I enjoy running, but due to time constraints, I usually do so in the early morning on nearly empty roads. Races are an opportunity to run with enthusiasts of all genders, ages and sizes. They are also a great way of learning the geography of a new town.
This is my third year running the New Haven Road Race. The first time I ran, I was following the crowd and hoping that I wouldn’t get lost. By the second, not only did I know where I was going, I knew the best place to get a post-run breakfast (the Pantry on Mechanic Street). Today, I ran through my neighborhood.
I’ve also become a better runner, which is pretty gratifying. I’ve made some real improvements to my time over the last three years (and have run progressively longer distances when running alone).
|Faxon Law New Haven Road Race|
|Year||Overall||Overall w/in age group (30-39)||Time||Time (net)||Time per mile|
Next Year: 20K!
August 2017 Runs
For the last two months, I’ve lived in the East Rock neighborhood of New Haven. It’s a leafy area filled with one and two family houses that looks like a blend of a stereotypical college town and Park Slope in the early aughts. Lots of turn of the century homes, quirky coffee shops, artisanal ice stands, and earnest young people having the kind of earnest conversations that only young people can have.
East Rock has a reputation for being a Yale neighborhood. You can find people from the extended Yale community everywhere in New Haven, but some Yalies are slightly more conspicuous in East Rock. There are slightly more grad students working on their papers at coffee shops or blowing off steam with a beer on their front porch, more bleary eyed residents stumbling home from overnight shifts.
Other members of the community are slightly less present. Students may be Yale’s key (and most visible) stakeholder group, but the University also employs thousands of New Haven residents as faculty, administrators, technicians, custodians, health care providers, cooks and in a wide range of other academic and support roles. When I lived in Wooster Square (a historic middle income area in New Haven), I became accustomed to seeing my colleagues from all levels of the university walking to and from school and work. I was as likely to run into a custodian or accountant walking home as I would a law student or young assistant professor.
I haven’t had that experience in East Rock, but I have encountered people with a wide range of backgrounds from all walks of life. There is some truth to the neighborhood’s reputation as a community dominated by Yale (it’s the residential neighborhood best served by Yale’s shuttle system), but there are plenty of non-Yale folk here who’ve lived in the area for generations.
The best thing about East Rock is that it’s a neighborhood of runners. I don’t think that I’ve ever walked a block in East Rock without passing a person jogging, running, or engaged in some purposeful brisk walking. Some look like they’re training for a race, while others are just having some fun exercise with a loved one or a dog.
The second best thing about East Rock is the East Rock itself, a trap rock ridge at the far end of the neighborhood (and about five blocks from my house). It’s about 1.4 miles long and 366 feet high and a nice occasional addition to my jogging route. It’s surrounded by a 425 acre park filled with trails and playgrounds and partially bounded by a local river.
The relaxed vibe of the area is contagious. I find myself taking aimless relaxing walks through East Rock to clear my head at the end of a hard day, listening to a worrying podcast about politics or the playlist linked below. Sometimes I take those walks in the morning to prepare myself for a challenging day ahead. I’m probably not going to live in East Rock forever, but for now it feels like home. It’s a nice feeling.
Hello world. Happy end of 2016.
The last year has been busy, so no time for blogging (most nights, I have a few minutes to write before I get too tired). The last month has been challenging, but it’s critical to focus on what can be done to mitigate harm and preserve rights for the most vulnerable among us over the coming years.
It’s easy to say and write that, but man, is it hard to follow that advice in practice. The period between the election and the inauguration has felt like a dramatic pause in a horror movie. We have solved the Lament Configuration. We opened it and they came.
We will have to be our own Kristie.
Comics Quote of the Week
[W]e need to … stop looking at the comics market as the “big two” or the “big three.”
There are only two kinds of comics that matter: good comics and bad comics.
Everything else should be irrelevant.
So stop letting publishers lie to you and deceive you and your readers so they can prop up their position in this industry in their craven attempts to appease shareholders.
That may help them in the short-term, and maybe it puts an extra couple coins in your change purse at the end of the week, but the reality of the situation is they have literally everything BUT your best interests at heart.
-Eric Stephenson, publisher of Image Comics. From his comments at ComicsPRO, the comics retailer trade association. via ComicsBeat.
Great speech. For some reason, I imagined this in Killa Mike’s voice (from the introduction to his I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind II mixtape). There’s a temptation to focus on his critiques of Marvel and DC, but I’m most interested by his comments on licensed properties. Although I think that original properties native to comics should be the ideal, I’m not entirely sure that it’s fair to characterize licensed comics as ‘lesser’ versions of the original. Sure, there are some blatant cash grabs, but there are some amazing, sublime books – like Christos Gage and Antonio Fuso’s GI Joe: Cobra series or Max Brooks, Howard Chaykin and Antonio Fuso’s GI Joe: Hearts and Minds series – both of which were far superior to the original animated series.
A few more thoughts:
Images of the Week
-Wes Craig, color art by Lee Loughridge, Deadly Class #2. Story by Rick Remender. I love Craig’s use of the panel borders to direct the reader.
-Fiona Staples, Saga #18. Words by Brian Vaughan. Staples’ art is even more impressive when you focus on a single page. You can get lost in every detail.
Recipe of the Week
A mediocre picture of a delicious dinner – salmon pastrami on rye with red cabbage and green apple slaw, via Blue Apron. Not pictured: a side of Nathan’s french fries. I was given a free week of Blue Apron as a gift from a friend during my parental leave and soon became addicted. Every week, the company sends the ingredients and recipes for three interesting meals for two people. My life felt impossible to manage during the first few months of parenthood, and it was nice to not have to think about what I was going to have for dinner for a few days a week. Other than the salmon pastrami on rye (which turned out great even though it didn’t really evoke the tastes I associate with ‘pastrami’), some highlights have included the roast beef with horseradish sour cream and heirloom carrots, the Moroccan Beef Tagine with dates and honey, Seared Cod with Kaffir Lime Juice, and Chicken Supremes & Broccolini
with Forbidden Rice, Pepitas, & Mustard Sauce. I have a few quibbles with Blue Apron – it’s pasta recipes tend to be underwhelming for cooks with pasta experience and they don’t offer customers who select the ‘omnivore’ option an opportunity to opt out of pork dishes – but it’s typically worthwhile.
Music Video of the Week
-Pierre Bennu. Inspired by (and featuring music from) Nicki Minaj’s Lookin’ Ass Nigga. The password is “selfhate”. via egotrip. I didn’t find the original video (or Nicki’s appropriation of the image we associate with Malcolm X) particularly offensive (I grew up listening to the first wave of gangsta rap in the late 80’s/early ’90’s after all), but I love Bennu’s response. We can play with offensive, taboo language and imagery all we want, but we should never forget what they actually mean.
Podcast of the Week
David Brothers continues his excellent Inkstuds Spotlight series with interviews of Spike Trotman, Jay Potts and LeSean Thomas (the last one is great for those curious about a career in animation). Check it out.
See you next week.