Sunday, January 31, 2010

Safety Coffins

Lately I have been reading about the "Safety Coffins" of the 19th century. Apparently, everyone was afraid of being buried alive, so a few people designed coffins fitted with ropes to pull that would trigger a bell, a flag, or fireworks.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


"You wrote down that you were a writer by profession. It sounded to me like the loveliest euphemism I had ever heard. When was writing ever your profession? It's never been anything but your religion. Never. I'm a little over-excited now. Since it is your religion, do you know what you will be asked when you die? But let me tell you first what you won't be asked. You won't be asked if you were working on a wonderful, moving piece of writing when you died. You won't be asked if it was long or short, sad or funny, published or unpublished. You won't be asked if you were in good form or bad form while you were working on it. You won't even be asked if it was the one piece of writing you would have been working on if you had known your time would be up when it was finished—I think only poor Sören K. will get asked that. I'm so sure you'll get asked only two questions. Were most of your stars out? Were you busy writing your heart out? If only you knew how easy it would be for you to say yes to both questions. If only you'd remember before ever you sit down to write that you've been a reader long before you were ever a writer. You simply fix that fact in your mind, then sit very still and ask yourself, as a reader, what piece of writing in all the world Buddy Glass would most want to read if he had his heart's choice. The next step is terrible, but so simple I can hardly believe it as I write it. You just sit down shamelessly and write the thing yourself."

JD Salinger

"My first hope is that you will not be too discouraged by the way the world looks at this moment. It is easy to be discouraged, because our nation is at war -- still another war, war after war -- and our government seems determined to expand its empire even if it costs the lives of tens of thousands of human beings. There is poverty in this country, and homelessness, and people without health care, and crowded classrooms, but our government, which has trillions of dollars to spend, is spending its wealth on war. There are a billion people in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East who need clean water and medicine to deal with malaria and tuberculosis and AIDS, but our government, which has thousands of nuclear weapons, is experimenting with even more deadly nuclear weapons. Yes, it is easy to be discouraged by all that.

"But let me tell you why, in spite of what I have just described, you must not be discouraged...

"The lesson of that history is that you must not despair, that if you are right, and you persist, things will change. The government may try to deceive the people, and the newspapers and television may do the same, but the truth has a way of coming out. The truth has a power greater than a hundred lies. I know you have practical things to do -- to get jobs and get married and have children. You may become prosperous and be considered a success in the way our society defines success, by wealth and standing and prestige. But that is not enough for a good life...

"Those years at Spelman were the most exciting of my life, the most educational certainly. I learned more from my students than they learned from me... I learned something about democracy: that it does not come from the government, from on high, it comes from people getting together and struggling for justice. I learned about race. I learned something that any intelligent person realizes at a certain point -- that race is a manufactured thing, an artificial thing, and while race does matter (as Cornel West has written), it only matters because certain people want it to matter, just as nationalism is something artificial. I learned that what really matters is that all of us -- of whatever so-called race and so-called nationality -- are human beings and should cherish one another."

Howard Zinn

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Helena Kvarnstrom

She's a really cool artist. And then she has this amazing blog - I basically want to repost everything that she posts. So here are some of the things you will find if you go to her blog:

"Sit Down by the Fire" by the Veils. I'd never heard this song before, and I like it now.

A story about childhood dreams.

Sally Mann photographs:

Beautiful photos of her dog:

Elinor Carucci's photos of her mother:

Also Bruce Springsteen and Roy Orbison songs, which I obviously love. And Lhasa de Sela, who I just posted about. Sometimes I love the internet.

Lhasa de Sela

Covering Elliott Smith

She died on January 1st. I listened to her for the first time today. I feel so sad.

Home - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

I took a short break from watching this clip over and over to post it. If this doesn't make you feel good, I don't know what will.