Early last year, I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with renowned chef and elder stateswoman of bad-assery, Esther McManus. She was kind enough to entertain the early efforts of my millennial rite of passage- a podcast. My initial plans for a show exclusively featuring interviewees over 60 have since sputtered, stalled…and stalled some more. So, it is with great relief and excitement that I share this record of our conversation, which, even a year later, brings me great joy to recall. I hope it impacts you as profoundly as it did me.
I’m still nervous about my interview with trumpeter/composer/all around gorgeous human Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, and it happened 6 months ago.
He’s a beautiful man, with a beautiful mind, and all I really have to say is that I hope we did him justice.
Fun fact / useless tidbit…he sleeps in short bursts instead of “full” 8-hour stretches- a technique he learned when he was a boxer. I remain incredulous, but he insisted he feels great.
My journals have always trotted along in verse. It’s just the way I talk to myself. So when I discovered that you could craft the language that usually just pores out of me, willy nilly, into phases I could use to connect with other people who live outside my head…that shit really lit me up.
Performance poetry was a way to show off the best I had to offer while leading with the worst. It turned my suffering into something beautiful, and productive, that I had a little agency over. Then one day I realized that with the label, POET, I had only drawn myself another box to push against.
The last poem I performed coincided with college graduation, a time when my life was becoming fully mine, and I was committing to figuring out how to be happy, and spending long hours reciting and re-writing my traumas started to feel a little counterproductive. (To be clear, I know it’s hugely healing for a lot of people- it was for me, and could well be again- but at the time I’m referencing, it stopped being a comfortable headspace for me). Interestingly, some of the best poets I knew soon started to follow suit- citing similar revelations.
We’ve all written poems since then, whenever we’ve felt moved. Recently, I wrote one about how I love the look of delight old men give pretty young women- like they’re seeing flowers after the first thaw. I also returned to an old poem I haven’t stopped loving, as a reminder that not all poems thrive on darkness.
Hiiiiii. hi. Hello!
I just got home from a whirlwind 10 days on the West coast with Articulate where I’m proud to say, we knocked it out of the park on 12/12 engagements (it’s pretty amazing to observe growth in real time). But between meeting one of my personal heroes Scott McCloud, exploring Gary Baseman‘s wonderland of a home studio, and getting all choked up by the incredible Luciana Souza, I made time for reading exactly one book for pleasure.
As our operations manager, my girl Constance is a pro at knowing where things belong. So when she ran across Princeton Professor Emeritus Harry G. Frankfurt‘s pocket-sized manifesto On Bullshit at the v charming The Last Bookstore, she somehow knew we would be happy together. Please enjoy below my Kenneth Goldsmith-inspired rendering of the 67-pager that you should totally go read in full for yourself.
Bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.
It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction.
The indifference to how things really are- that I regard as the essence of bullshit.
The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides, on the other hand, is that the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him.
Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about. The production of bullshit is stimulated whenever a person’s obligations or opportunities to speak about some topic exceed his knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that topic. This discrepancy is common in public life, where people are frequently impelled- whether by their own propensities or by the demands of others- to speak extensively about matters of which they are to some degree ignorant.
It is more expansive and independent, with more spacious opportunities for improvisation, color, and imaginative play. This is less a matter of craft than of art. Hence the familiar notion of the “bullshit artist”.
Unlike plain lying, however, it is more especially a matter not of falsity but of fakery. The essence of bullshit is not that it is false but that it is phony. What is wrong with a counterfeit is not what it is like, but how it was made.
Excrement may be regarded as the corpse of nourishment, what remains when the vital elements in food have been exhausted.
The bullshitter is faking things. But this does not mean that he necessarily gets them wrong.
NOTE: For as timely as it seems, Frankfurt wrote this back in 2005.
Have you read On Bullshit? Did I miss one of your favorite points? Let’s talk it out in the comments 🙂
Another day, another segment from season 2 of Articulate with Jim Cotter where I secretly conducted the interview. This time it was with the very fabulous (and fairly sleepy) band The Struts. This is one of few occasions where our promo really hit the nail on the head, so I’ll just share it verbatim.
And that’s not a joke. Frontman Luke Spiller’s fashion sense, enigmatic Britishness, and totally obsessive dedication to his genre makes for an endearing package. Enjoy!
I’ve been working at Articulate with Jim Cotter for quite some time now (since I graduated in 2014). Though I’ve done my share of interviews during that time, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket of A Series of Unfortunate Events aka 12-year-old-me’s favorite books that weren’t Harry Potter) was by far my most intimidating celebrity encounter to date. Happily, Handler couldn’t have been nicer, funnier, or easier to talk to. The resulting segment became the leader of our show’s second national season premiere. Hope you enjoy watching it as much as I liked making it!
It’s not a diet, it’s a way of life.
Stressed-out Western types have long been looking East for guidance on how to live better. It is in this proud tradition that I present to you- The Panda Plan; A Guide To Overall Wellness.
Drawing from the ancient wisdom of the lumbering and adorable panda bear, The Panda Plan marks a revolution in self-care for the 21st century.
- Wear black and white. That is to say, keep it simple, and don’t waste too much energy on decisions that ultimately don’t matter that much. You only have so much energy, so set yourself up to use it wisely.
- Work what you’ve got. The World Wildlife Fund could have chosen any one of many more severely endangered species for its logo. But while it’s not particularly useful, nor nearly as endangered as it could be, the panda is damn cute (and, not-so-coincidentally, cheap to print). Werk. Your. Brand.
- Eat roughage, semi-constantly. Though it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to match the panda’s volume (up to 30 lbs) or stamina (14 hours a day), keeping a steady flow of roughage to the face, a happy body makes.
- Sleep!!! Again, you won’t hit the panda’s 10-16 hours a day (what a life, am I right?), but you should take a page out of their book of shameless rest. As fun as it is to wear exhaustion as a badge, it’s even better to walk around with the clear head and skin that come with the selfish indulgence of a full night’s sleep.
- Chill out, you have nothing to fear. Pandas sit comfortably at the top of their food chain- no apology, no anxiety, nothing beyond the fact of existence. Assume you won’t ever reach the level of zen of an animal that doesn’t have to do things like pay student loans or do laundry, but give the present an honest shot a couple times a day.
- Most importantly, enjoy yourself.
In December 2015, the online retailer of motorcycle gear, RevZilla.com, published an article I wrote about 12 months into what turned out to be an 18-month relationship with a motorcycle enthusiast. Here’s a taste;
“Before dating a motorcyclist, I honestly never noticed them much beyond the occasional jolt of recognition when one sped past me on a highway. But after the first time I watched him zip up his leather jacket, disappear beneath a helmet, and zoom away from my house with 500 pounds of roaring metal between his legs, my opinion… changed.”
This post appeared originally on The Articulator, the official blog of Articulate with Jim Cotter, written by yours truly.
Like so many things, I was inspired to watch this movie when Cotter made a reference that went over my head. Apparently the main character’s name “Holly Golightly” doubles as a colloquialism used to described a woman who flits from man to man in search, not of love, but of increasing personal benefit.
The character of Holly, famously played by Audrey Hepburn, was originally written for Marilyn Monroe, who turned down the part for fear that depicting a “call girl-esque” character would damage her image.
The movie is loosely based on a novella of the same name written by Truman Capote. The work was apparently so excellent that it prompted Norman Mailer to call Capote “the most perfect writer of my generation,” adding that he, “would not have changed two words in Breakfast at Tiffany’s“.
I’ll avoid reviewing the movie because it’s iconic and I’m not a critic so nobody cares that I don’t think Hepburn’s a great actress. The more important thing is that she’s highly watchable (and her co-star George Peppard is no slouch either).
Instead, I’ll tell you about my favorite part…the cat.
Known in the movie simply as “cat,” its real-life name was Orangey, an animal actor so famous he has his own Wikipedia page. I don’t usually take note of animals in movies, but this one was startlingly well-trained that I assumed he was animatronic. Not only was he so amazing that he won two “PATSY” awards (the animal actor’s version of an Oscar), but Orangey also carried the role of “Cat” all by himself, a rare feat for an animal actor.