September 17, 2021

Amor Alien, Laura Molina

Hello there friends. Here’s a few things I read in the last week+ (Week+, the premium, approximately 10-day week that I’m operating on right now):

  1. Octavio Medellin: Maya Toltec Temples and Carvings, 1938, Google Arts & Culture. This month (9/15-10/15) is Hispanic Heritage Month, and Google Arts & Culture has some seriously cool exhibits of Latinx and Hispanic art! This one caught my eye, a Mexican-American sculptor who studied Mayan ruins. “In 1938, [sculptor and artist] Octavio Medellin spent six months studying the Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá and Uxmal, located on the Yucatán in Mexico, and documented his travels with 181 black and white photographs that he compiled into a scrapbook entitled Maya – Toltec, Temples and Carvings, 1938.  The following images are selections from this scrapbook.” It’s cool to flip through and see how the photographs influenced his later art.
  2. Ted Lasso’s fantasy, Dirt. If you haven’t watched Ted Lasso, and you don’t mind HBO-rated jokes alongside the ~wholesomeness~, I would highly recommend the show. “I consider The Andy Griffith Show and Ted Lasso both part of a broad category I’d call “moral television”: that is, television that is intended to be morally instructive. The defining sitcom of the following decade, M*A*S*H, was moral television of a different kind– morality through pessimism.” Thought this placement of Ted Lasso in the genealogy of Andy Griffith and MASH was interesting! “The show’s good-guy protagonist, Alan Alda’s Hawkeye Pierce, is in many ways a moral television hero in the tradition of Griffith. He is unerringly decent and kind, with an infallible sense of right and wrong, righteously striking down racism and jingoism at every turn. He delivers sermons on the evils of war that drive home the moral lesson for viewers.” And this sums up part of why I like Ted Lasso: “The show is successful because the premise is twofold: “what if all people were good at the core,” and “what if you could bring that goodness out of them just by being nice.” 
  3. Borderbus, Juan Felipe Herrera. “We are nothing and we come from nothing / but that nothing is everything, if you feed it with love / that is why we will triumph // We are everything hermana / Because we come from everything” This poem is a dialogue between two immigrant sisters, and I’m moved by how the dialogue puts you in the bus with them. As Naomi Shihab Nye says in a similar poem, immigrants “are the bravest people on earth right now, / don’t dare look down on them. Each mind a universe / swirling as many details as yours.”
  4. What If People Don’t Want ‘A Career?’, Charlie Warzel. “The author framed her employee’s decision to put boundaries between his work and personal life as a fundamental weakness. She’s not alone. Many in positions of power misinterpret those who strive for a better relationship to work as weak or selfish. I’d argue that what they really want is obedience — or for one worker to do the work of one and half workers without more pay.” WHEW boy reading the recap of that article, I felt heat crawling across my skin. This is well-said: “When you talk to people who reject the modern notion of a career, many of them say the same thing: They crave more balance, less precarity, and better pay. They also, crucially, want to work. But they want to work for places that see them as three-dimensional human beings and that actually invest in them and their futures without expecting workers to sacrifice everything. They want to be a part of organizations that recognize that meaningful and collaborative work can bring dignity and create value but that work is by no means the only way to cultivate satisfaction and self-worth.”
  5. Drone Photo Awards, 2021. This is, in my opinion, what drones were made for: to give us new perspective and stun us with color. Which photo is your favorite? I love the footprints in this wedding photo, called First Meet, I would hang this piece called No Stress in my home, and I couldn’t stop staring at the details in Bank of Buriganga.

September 3, 2021

Anna Atkins

Hi! I hope your roads and basements are dry and your sky is blue today. My semester is in full swing, I’m stressin about Covid, I love my dog, you know — the usual. Here’s what I got for ya:

  1. If the Shoe Fits, Julie Murphy.  Such a cute re-telling of Cinderella meets The Bachelor, by an author I trust! It’s an adult novel by a YA author, so I think it has cross-generational appeal. The main character is fat, unbothered by it, and the fatphobia she experiences in the reality tv-show world is real but not cruel to the reader. And the love is gooey and good, a perfect pool read for the last few weeks of summer!
  2. Negative Space: Close Reading Trauma Porn, LA Times. TW: Discussion of sexual assault and other forms of abuse, referenced but not in detail. “When one person speaks the unspeakable, aloud, and publicly […] it provides both permission for the next victim to speak, and also a template as to how.” This made me think hard about why I watch this type of documentary (the “abuse doc”), and why it’s different than other types of true crime. “This is the key to the abuse doc genre and its connection to histories of sentimental and sensational recitation. Unlike true crime, which is concerned with the dirty deed and tracking down the dirty deed doer, in abuse docs, the Recitation at the center of the documentary always gets situated within a framework of social critique. Always. Abuse docs never ask: “Who did it?” They ask instead: Why did no one stop it? How was this allowed to happen — and then continue? Why couldn’t we see? Why didn’t we speak?” I also appreciate these intense, not-for-everyone documentaries, for centering survivors and their voices.
  3. Fatness & Feminism: A Conversation on Unruly Bodies and Representation, ArtNews. Roxane Gay and Jenny Saville in conversation. “In most art, when a woman is fat, she’s not actually that fat—she’s just sort of plump. She doesn’t have any rolls or wrinkles or stretch marks. And here I saw fat bodies, unadorned and unapologetic. It was really surprising. We know that representation matters, but when you see the kind of representation you didn’t even know you wanted, it can be really meaningful.” And this line, which quickened my pulse: “…We think of poetry as kind of quaint and gentle, not as something that’s threatening to the government.” AND this line from Gay, who continues to be one of my favorite intellects of this generation: “If nobody is criticizing you, and if nobody is disagreeing with you, then you haven’t done your job. Universal appeal is not my ministry. I’m glad to be an acquired taste.” Girl.
  4. Butt News Movie Club #1: Sleepless in Seattle, Lindy West. Just found out the incredible Lindy West has a newsletter where she recaps a movie and makes it hilarious. Instant subscribe, and here’s the first issue! Here’s a sample: “Cut to Baltimore, where Meg Ryan (female journalist) is engaged to Bill Pullman (allergic), because this is a thoroughbred-ass ‘90s cast. They go to Christmas dinner at Meg Ryan’s parents’ house, where Bill Pullman embarrasses everyone by being allergic to strawberries like a huge piece of shit. He sneezes during their engagement announcement! Red flag!!! […] Annie (Meg Ryan) tells the “cute” story of how she and Walter (Bill Pullman) met: “One day [AT WORK, WHERE HE IS HER BOSS] we both ordered sandwiches from the same place and he got my lettuce and tomato on whole wheat, which of course he was allergic to, and I got his lettuce and tomato on white!” I’m sorry. So many things here. Well, two things. 1. He’s allergic to…. The bran of the wheat? He can eat white bread but not wheat bread? What the fuck allergy is that? 2. You not only ordered but had someone drive to you with a lettuce and tomato sandwich!?!?!? WHAT KIND OF FUCKING ARCANE HORROR IS A LETTUCE AND TOMATO SANDWICH?????????????????? Do you eat olive and sour cream tacos too? Oh, you know what’s good? PASTA WATER.” Lmao. The “wheat bread/white bread” allergy has always bothered me! 
  5. Image, Public Perception, and Lego Librarians, Mr. Library Dude. A treasure of the profession. He created a bunch of Lego librarian personas with cute lil captions, highly recommend a flip through.  “I’m an approachable guy librarian. Look at me! I’m on the fast track to Administration!” made me lol