Hammerin’ Out The Last Ones Out Pt. 1

I discovered Ta-Nehisi Coates this year with his essay titled “America’s First White President” and it was quite the trip to read through. I was doing something for work and noticed the page numbers were 20+ and freaked out because I thought to myself “Hoo boy this is a long essay.” My co-worker leans over to me and says “Have you ever seen a Ta-Nehisi Coates article before” and I nervously said I had not, they laughed. I wasn’t really sure what the real reason for why they laughed was until I came across this article; “The Case for Reparations.”

This article can be quite the shocker to readers from the first second you load it up alone. This was posted on Theatlantic.com which is home to headliner stories such as “Why Everybody Should Be Very Afraid of the Disney Death Star”, “It’s Really Hard to Know When a Zoo Animal Is Pregnant” and many other semi-political essays. One is traversing through these articles and sees the article in question; “Case for reparations? Compensations for something, oh boy. And a case? This is getting a little deep here.” One opens the article up and sees this gray monotone picture of a disarrayed building with stunning features like “BED BUGS + 277-5511” spray painted in stencil on a piece of cardboard that has been nailed to the side of the building. Quite startling.

One sees the title then reads the small text under it “Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.” Woah. One middle aged white American might’ve been looking for a fun read while drinking his morning coffee, but instead he got an intense 16000 word essay on the case for reparations.

 

This does not mean this essay is bad, it’s amazing. Give it a read. It’s just surprising.

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Interesting Start to Friday

I was sitting at my desk, wondering if I should read this article, I was not entirely sure that just because it was due, I would want to read it and if I would even enjoy it. I had to read Elizabeth Royte’s “The Remains of the Night” on Medium. Now that I’ve read it, I’m not sure what to think of it, it’s left me for lack of a better term, confuzzled.

Confuzzled doesn’t mean it’s a bad read at all! It’s about the author, Elizabeth, and her life with a litter mob, but it gets way deeper than that (Oh god pardon that one). She describes all the different types of trash she sees when working with the litter mob and she finds stuff like condoms and makeshift sex toys to be the most intriguing. I can’t disagree that I also find those things intriguing, but I just read an entire essay on it and I’m having a hard time digesting it all. I tried telling myself that the entire essay was not all about sex toys found in the forest, but a large majority of it is. There’s this disgusting curiosity to why this is interesting to find and excavate, but putting that aside she using the website Medium to her advantage when talking about weird shit like this.

She spreads out this essay by sometimes inserting pictures of the forest in-between paragraphs. Doing this is sort of like a refresher to the essay, if you are disgusted or at least unsettled by this essay, the forest will hopefully help you calm down real quick. Not like a comforting sort of way, but a slight distraction. You go into the forest and find trash but on the outside, what you see in the essay, it’s not that bad. Later she uses pictures of some of the trash she had found and yuck, it’s effective to her writing but I did not want to see that. She also uses pictures of statistics and used uh… sex stuff, I can’t think of the word, I’m still a little confuzzled.

One last thing is that ending, when any piece of art comes to a close, you want some sort of “pleasure” (fucking hell). You want to see the good guy beat the bad guy, the good guy gets the treasure, the wife says yes to the dress, everyone wants that feeling. Throughout this entire essay, Elizabeth talks about wanting to talk to these sex heathens and ask why do they have sex in a fucking forest? Unfortunately for her, this never happens. But she gets to see two guys fucking at 5:30 in the afternoon while out on a run with her daughter! So fucking weird holy shit. It’s a morbid sense of pleasure for the reader/writer but pleasure nonetheless.

If you don’t know what confuzzled means, look it up on macmillan dictionary, not urban dictionary. Their definition only makes me want to rewrite my entire response. But that’s Urban Dictionary for you! And ConFuzzled can go fuck itself.

There Is No End

I just read “Blood Spore” by Hamilton Morris and man what an interesting post. I was listening to Fly from Here by Yes and that song seems to fit this post perfectly. This post was most definitely interesting to read, but I has not as engaged as I thought I would be. I’ve always liked stories about drugs because they are always the weirdest and in some case most dangerous shit, and this was dangerous, but it’s use of specific terminology was hard to get past. Many characteristics of mushrooms are mentioned but never explained, I’m no expert so I have no idea what Hamilton is talking about. I think some more explanation would’ve been better so more readers can understand all this shit.

 

Like previously mentioned, the topic of this post is definitely out there, you Google Images search Steven Hayden Pollock and get one picture and that’s pretty depressing. It’s interesting how the post starts with a “plot” of having found a tape, but then goes into this huge background information spree on Pollock, then circles back around to end the plot. This is a cool way of doing writing an essay, but I think halfway through the background information, if reads are not invested, will wonder where the plot went and skip to the bottom. There is no solid reason of why Pollock was shot and why the people who did it were let go with no real reason and thankfully the writer respected this. So, there is no real satisfying ending to this journey of an essay, and that’s just fine.

Consider the Crab

I read David Foster Wallace’s “Consider the Lobster” post today and was laughing the entire time because I completely understood his passion for the sea creature. I am from Maryland, so I have a deep appreciation and understanding for the crab, another amazing, summer seafood. This appreciation helped me understand where he was coming from and laugh more about what he was talking about. He went to a big food festival but then started breaking down every little bit about the lobster. When it’s good, its history, why people like it ETC. I think summer is the best time for seafood, but that might just be because crab is the best seafood and everyone who thinks otherwise is wrong. OK that’s really mean sorry.

Anyways, that was my experience with this post, I understand his extreme passion about the fish and it keep making me laugh the whole way through. I think lobsters and crabs are lumped into the same “expensive crustacean” food, which can be fine at times. At times. Lobsters are at expensive restaurants and are not super messy, they are served very clean and when I saw expensive, I mean expensive holy shit. Also, most of the time, you eat just one, but with crabs, CRABS ARE DIFFERENT.

Rule 1, everything is going to be really fucking messy and keeping an entire roll of paper towels will not help you. It’s good to keep them around but at some point, you will keep wiping your hands and realize it’s the must futile thing. Old Bay is something that is put on crab (and sometimes everything in Maryland) and it will… how do I put this… stain your fingers? You’ll wash your hands after eating and still be able to smell it, not visually stain but the smell will be there for a couple of days. There’s nothing wrong with that!

Rule 2, you pick the crab correctly or you suck. You can eat a lot of the crab and picking it 100% clean is a challenge in itself but takes some time to master. If you’re not from Maryland, try your best and try not to make a fool of yourself. But if you’re from Maryland, your bar is set pretty high so you better make sure that you clean it correctly or you’re going to judged by your folks. Another thing, most of the time, you’re picking crabs while being with friends and family, sort of just something to do while talking with people. It’s weird but it’s what we do.

Rule 3, shadier the place looks, the better the crabs will be. They don’t call them “Crab Shacks” for nothing. Most of the time, the place you buy it from will look rundown as shit and probably will scream “DRUGS” more than anything, but the crabs will be top notch. AGAIN, IT’S WEIRD BUT TRUST ME IT’S WHAT WE DO AND IT’S FINE.

To wrap it up, see what I did there? That’s sort of what David Foster Wallace did, he broke down a lot about lobster and sounded very enthusiastic while doing so! Yeah, you forgot this was originally about lobster too huh? Well now you know a little bit more about the Maryland Crab, when summer rolls around go try one if you haven’t had one already.

Art History Actually Helped Me Out

I just read Vinson Cunningham’s New Yorker Article “What Makes An Essay American” and enjoyed his writing style and what he was writing about until the last few paragraphs. These type of articles that are not trying to take an immediate stance but sort of build up to it are the best type of arguments. The stance he eventually takes comes off as rather passive but both parties, the writer and the reader are now knowledgeable of how he came to this stance. In more boring essays, the stance is immediately said and cookie cutter support information is to follow. This style feels slightly more, I don’t know… conversational?

The first part is not even about writing essays, it’s about different DJs and why their writing is effective. That’s amazing to think that not even writing about your specific stance at the beginning is this effective! The thoughts really flow through each other.

That being said, I do not agree with his stance, which I believe is that an American Essay should be free of politics in this heavily political climate. He then goes on to use art history as some backup information stating that art history was not super political unlike art now which is all politics. This is absolute bullshit. Art history has always been political in one way or another. Yes there are many paintings that have little politics but making a statement like that is unreal. Also art is not all politics today, there might be an influx of political paintings in your view, but I don’t think they’re everywhere.

Group Dynamics and a SoundCloud Link

Recently I read Jay Rosen’s “When starting from zero” post and connected to it quite a lot. Through the month of October, I have been working in a group with three other people on a huge podcast/website project. If you’ve ever worked in a group before, you know how each group is different with the dynamics that clash with each other. Our group had no problems getting along, but the division of work was somewhat strange. At first, it seemed that the work was spread out somewhat evenly, but by the end I felt that one person didn’t have enough physical evidence of work. My one group member helped me at the project’s beginning stages, she helped me get our ideas together and assign work to everyone. I don’t believe she understands how important that work was. Without that basic structure, we would not have the project we completed today.

Having different dynamics in a group can be a challenging obstacle but also a blessing. Our group was a combination of communications and business majors, making this project a little strange around its edges. I was doing a lot of video work as I am a video communications major and obviously I did not mind that. I also did some audio editing on the side, it’s not my cup of tea but I have experience in audio editing and had no problem holding out my hand to help. In this case, knowing more than just video helped my group out, I was able to contribute more, and audio editing was not a problem. Audacity is your friend guys, love it and it will love you.

Another interesting group dynamic, this is more of a life dynamic actually, was scheduling. Our schedules conflicted a lot, we have one video where we are traveling somewhere, and it took three different dates to get that squared away. We got it done, and then a group member had class in less than an hour! Scheduling is complete agony city sometimes, but its an important step in a group process.

Looping back the Jay Rosen post, he talks a lot about “niche” websites and lots of “niche” subjects. Niche stuff is where people’s true interests shine, not to put anything down, but if you love a huge IP like I don’t know, The Beatles, a lot of people like them too. But if you like something small like Hat Films on YouTube, you are going to have less people know about them. But this can be a good thing, because people might be curious about them and it makes finding these people even more rewarding to you.

Ok I’m going to wrap this up because I’m running out of things to say and I just completed this month-long project that I’m a little sad about it ending. But I’m also very happy that it is done and that the end product turned out so nice. Also, a week ago I linked some SoundCloud interviews I did, but the post never showed up. So I’m going to link them here, thanks WordPress. https://soundcloud.com/user-161776034/sets/initial-reaction There you go! You’re all set.

I beat Persona 5. Everyone go play it, amazing game.

Marc and Terry Quite Contrary

Terry Gross is very important and quite amazing. I just finished listening to WTF with Marc Maron Podcast when Terry Gross was a guest. Not going to lie, this type of podcast, where it’s a “comedy styled interview in front of a live audience” is not my favorite, especially when the audience is not participating. When the audience does not participate but is there, they can come off like a laughtrack if the question was not funny. But there were some parts I was chuckling over, when Marc and Terry were talking about marriage was funny.

Terry was explaining how she was married for one year in college and would sometimes describe it as good but also describe it as dumb. I believe she looks at it all with good intentions but terrible for the long run. That constant contradiction is hilarious, two young people thinking to get married, no contingencies thought about. It’s sad, yet the funniest shit.

 

Before I go, I watched End of Evangelion, Hideaki Anno (1997) last week and I am fucked up. How disgusting.

Get Some Flames

I recently read Stacy Schiff’s post on The New Yorker, “Know It All.” It’s an interesting read about the creation and evolution of Wikipedia but it does have a different catch to it. The article came out in 2006 and is talking about Wikipedia passing its 1,000,000th post, currently the English Wikipedia has over 5,000,000. Wow, that’s insane.

Many high school teachers also tell their students to never use Wikipedia, I never understood why as a highschooler and now as a college student, I understand even less. Before, I wasn’t sure how Wikipedia worked, so it made sense to trust the teachers and be wary of using the website. But now, I understand how the website works and how “idiot-proof” it is. Wikipedia is better than any encyclopedia nowadays. Wikipedia offers so much knowledge to the common man, from really broad topics to very specific ones, ones that encyclopedias would not have. For example, I’m a huge Crash Bandicoot fan (don’t who he is? Look him up on Wikipedia and love him damnit), Wikipedia has a huge post on him and as a fan, that makes me happy to see. If you check the edits, there are tons and people are consistently posting about it, again it makes me happy. Not only would encyclopedias probably not have anything on Crash Bandicoot, but nothing that updated and in-depth. If there is an error, well you have to wait until the next version is released and that is just tedious and not worth it with such a valuable resource online just waiting for you to pick up.

It’s also quite hilarious how the smallest subjects can have massive articles, let alone articles at all. For example, I was looking to research a stub for one of my college classes and I thought of an old PS2 game Hot Wheels: Stunt Track Challenge and thought “nobody is going to know what this is.” Not only was the game not a stub, but it was edited two days ago! That type of shit is insane to think about! This somewhat obscure PS2 which I thought had no following, might have enough fans out there to edit the Wikipedia page and know enough about it. There was a solid amount of information about it too. That’s just wild man. Encyclopedias are a thing of the past, unless you don’t have access to the internet in this day and age. Then I don’t know what to say.

BTW, if you have played Hot Wheels: Stunt Track Challenge, you will understand the title. 🙂

Unearthing Some Old Artifact In 100 and 200 Words

I recently listened to The Mystery Show, a podcast from 2015 that is currently available on iTunes and was voted by iTunes as the Best New Podcast of 2015. The podcast is hosted by Starlee Kine as she finds an old mundane mystery and finds out where it is. It’s an interesting premise that was very monotone, it might be me because I’m used to high energy podcasts but I was losing interest in the subject matter fast but watching this one lead transform into an end result is astounding work. There are many small mysteries need solving I suppose.

The Mystery Show takes one small lead “Why did this place go under” or “Where did this item come from” and tries to find the answer. Such a small and vague lead to actually finding the answer is quite astounding, a lot of the answers found are uprooted via connections. One person leading to another, and that person leading to another. Starlee puts her trust into these sources and goes out to find the end denominator, if that leads to a wild goose chase or another lead, she won’t know until she gets there. Trusting the expertise of these random civilians is an interesting feat because of that possible problem. What if the leads takes her far away but leads to nothing? Well shit, that’s not what she bargained for, but that’s the risk of it. She takes the pros and cons of interviewing random people about something that happened 10+ years ago, throws it out the window, and goes on without looking back. It can unearth some interesting stories about something she might’ve thought was worth very little, to be worth the world to someone. I can understand why this premise was so popular, I don’t enjoy it though.

Social Experiments Make Me Fear Going Outside

Have you ever had this feeling? That feeling that someone out there is waiting for you to run into them or see what your reaction will be to some “crazy” stunt or prank or something. I’m left feeling unsettled knowing there is a possibility that someone is filming me without consent, you could say “I always feel like somebody’s watching me”. These sudden feelings were uprooted when I read David Dunning’s We Are All Confident Idiots. This 6000-word article talks about where our self-confidence comes from, is it right to be so self-confident without just research to back it up, and some social experiments thrown in there. It’s an intriguing read, I suggest looking this article up and giving it a read.

David combines stratified random sampling with data collected by other researchers, (because of the topic of this article, I looked up every source to see if the data collection was compiled) and gives his opinion on some of the topics. The view he presents is given in the title We Are All Confident Idiots but the way he structures his case can be a little confusing. He will use research data showing that some people recognize a fictitious band and how stupid that makes the person responding and we, the reader feel stupid as a result. David will then use more data and history to prove to us, the reader, that this is ok to think that this band is real despite it never existing. It’s a weird phenomenon and his interesting writing structure makes it easy to understand and tugs at your feelings. First David makes you feel stupid, but then gives reason as to why you’re not stupid, or maybe you are and everyone else is as well. If he made me feel stupid and didn’t make me feel any better about that, I would’ve just felt sour at the resolve of it. Setups like this are scattered all over the article and are intelligently designed to make you feel confident in your ability but then tear it down not too long after, smart move from a confident writer.