Cheap art

cheapartmanifesto2

In the 1980s I worked as a theater critic. I spent a lot of time in expensive Broadway theaters and ambitious nonprofit repertory companies. But some of my most memorable experiences were at street theater events by groups like the San Francisco Mime Troupe and Vermont’s Bread and Puppet Theater. I first saw them in […]

Everything connects


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John Muir quote

For something like 25 years I have had a postcard (now tattered and brown-edged) taped near wherever I write: One reason I became a writer is that I love the sensation of finding connections. It can stun me, make me laugh, or help me feel that I understand the universe just a little bit better. […]

Eugenides on valentines: “cheapening and commodification”

Overheard at the end of Michele Norris’s interview with Jeffrey Eugenides on last night’s All Things Considered: MN: Happy Valentine’s Day to you. JE: Thanks for having me. MN: I was going to ask you if you’re doing anything special for Valentine’s Day, but your someone special might be listening. JE: I’ll tell you, one […]

Mind-changing thoughts for the new year

Every year around this time John Brockman poses some Big Question to his Edge discussion group, a salon of scientists and intellectuals. The results are typically all over the map but you can almost always find something of value and/or use. This year’s question was “What have you changed your mind about?” Here are some […]

The value of coming clean about mistakes

The 10ZenMonkeys blog has the transcript of an extraordinary speech by Van Jones of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland delivered at a recent conference for the Craigslist Foundation. (Found via BoingBoing.) This passage about admitting your mistakes is worth taking to heart, particularly for those newsroom veterans who scratch their heads […]

No obligation to be famous

My exposure to the strange music and story of Jandek, the reclusive Texan singer-songwriter, has been limited to occasional enthusiastic mentions by John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats. But NPR did a story about Jandek last night that concluded with this observation by critic Douglas Wolk. It bears repetition: “There’s not an obligation to be […]