Sunday, September 30, 2007

9/11 Is Over - Thomas L. Friedman

"Times columnists are not allowed to endorse candidates, but there’s no rule against saying who will not get my vote: I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.

What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.

It is not that I thought we had new enemies that day and now I don’t. Yes, in the wake of 9/11, we need new precautions, new barriers. But we also need our old habits and sense of openness. For me, the candidate of 9/12 is the one who will not only understand who our enemies are, but who we are."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

When I'm 50, Give Me Fireworks

"WHEN I turned 50, my girlfriend took me to dinner at one of those places where all the vegetables are “baby,” if not prenatal, and the waiters aren’t much older. My son and my brother joined us, making it an intimate gathering of all the people I love.

I was miserable. This was it? Where were the balloons, the band, the this-is-your-life surprise guests? What does one have to do for a little extra attention? I mean, I had successfully navigated five decades. If I were a 50-year-old bridge or a decommissioned aircraft carrier, there’d be fireworks. I wasn’t proud of it, but I wanted more."

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Coudal Partners: Verse by Voice

I don't know how to categorize Coudal Partners, a website that I link to from the Sundust Design page, but it showcases a wonderful collection of varied creatives.

They are about to begin another round of something they call "Layer Tennis," wherein "Two artists (or two small teams of artists) will swap a file back and forth in real-time, adding to and embellishing the work. Each artist gets fifteen minutes to complete a "volley" and then we post that to the site. A third participant, a writer, provides play-by-play commentary on the action, as it happens. The matches last for ten volleys and when it's complete, everyone visiting the site votes for a winner."

But it's not just web design stuff. And one of my favorite things there is called Verse by Voice, a collection of poems read by Coudal friends and fans on their answering machine. The recordings are pretty rough, but they're good and plain. Take a listen.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

It's Not How Good You Are...

I'm ashamed to admit that I was shopping at Urban Outfitters tonight. I found my favorite t-shirt there, and ever since then I find myself uncomfortably looking through the other clothing there, wondering if I might look good (or, perhaps, younger) in an Atari t-shirt and a pair of Converse All-Stars. The answer is, absolutely not.

But there's something a little too canned about the whole UO thing, isn't there? Like Pottery Barn, or, scarier yet, Hot Topic, it seems like the idea is to walk in and buy a complete life, kitschy accessories and all. But, like the silk calla lilies permanently frozen in clear plastic resin-filled vases at Restoration Hardware, it only appears authentic from a distance. People should own ratty t-shirts, made that way from years of wear. We naturally amass small collections of curios from the places we visit. Pablo Neruda, in his poem entitled "Ode to Things," wrote,
I have a crazy,
crazy love of things.
I like pliers,
and scissors.
I love
and bowls –
not to speak, or course,
of hats.
I love
all things,
not just
the grandest,
small –
and flower vases.

and later:

many things conspired
to tell me the whole story.
Not only did they touch me,
or my hand touched them:
they were
so close
that they were a part
of my being,
they were so alive with me
that they lived half my life
and will die half my death.
But it seems wrong to have a supplier (or "outfitter") for these items. I believe many of these stores are, more accurately, suburban outfitters.

But, as I stood there, sifting through brand new items that were designed to look broken-in, I found a book called "It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be," in which the following phrase appears: "You must develop a complete disregard for where your abilities end," and "failures and false starts are a precondition of success."

It's a good book. It's filled with all sorts of different ways of thinking about things. I'm considering adopting a few of its tenets. I'm hoping it will lead me to feel better about the fact that I bought and enjoyed a self-help book from Urban Outfitters.