Curating Beauty



I’ve had a few discussions recently about the utility and value of services like Facebook, WordPress, twitter, and Flickr. The reasons people use various social media platforms or begin sharing content online in the first place keep changing, but doesn’t 2011 already feel like the Year of Curation? That word is everywhere. I’ve used it two or three times in recent posts here, and it’s turning up in comments and discussions about whether the presentation offered by The Daily‘s (News Corp’s iPad newspaper) editorial team will be worth 99 cents per digital issue when the web is deep and wide like a Doors song and so much of it is free. If you’re already not paying for most of the content you enjoy, why pay for curation when your friends and colleagues are so eager to share opinion, art, entertainment, and news?

As the social networks have grown, it’s been fashionable to talk about how much information we passively consume through our various feeds. But we’re also busy passing on things that move us, that strike us, that frustrate or empower us. We don’t always do that with tact — we’re still learning. That we can do it at all, but also with power and speed, well, that’s still new to history. While you’re praying for Egypt and everywhere people struggle, think about what you consume and what you curate. Keep sharing those things that give life.

Today, I’m sharing this picture I found on Flickr. It took my breath away…the moment was, dare I say, holy. I hope you experience something like that this week. Happy Monday to all.

(Birds originally uploaded by shutter41)

Wherein I Attempt to Answer Questions My Readers Asked Google Yesterday

Things I know about.

I’m pleased as punch about the first search term.  I love Kris Kristofferson, and I not just because I covet his name for my own nom de plume.  I’m going to have to go with Chris St. Christopher when I start writing hard-boiled crime novels.

The second search term is here because of my quote from this week’s “The Office,” and I’d like to try to answer it if I could.  Mark Zuckerberg’s jet pack is the same place yours is: the government-confiscated files of this guy.  That’s the only possible explanation for why this world hasn’t happened yet.  I’m pretty sure I have a post somewhere in archives here simply titled “Where is My Jet Pack? Where Is My Flying Car?” (Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down.)  Blame Thomas Edison and his smear campaign against Alternating Current. Blame whoever is holding on to those designs for the ion-repulsion flight apparatus. We should have jet packs by now.  We should have flying cars.  Mssrs. Hanna, Barbera, Disney, and Verne: you promised.

Posts I Liked This Week

I may have liked more, but these are the ones for which I pressed the WordPress Like Button this week:

What We Saw: Cars (Bridgetown Blog)

Urban Colours (Cropping Reality)

New Zealand 2010 (broken blabs and blurbs)

Find Rest (Vintage Pages)

Don’t Tell Me What To Think! (Lakia Gordon)

Appreciate to Ignite the Flame (Seasoned With Youth)

Love (Cropping Reality)

Are Blackberries Really Black? (Sister Earth Organics)

Heavenbound and No Earthly Good (Sweetie Pie)

The king, his speech, and why I’m going to rule the world (My Business Addiction)

Me myself I (singlemaltmonkey)

What We Saw – VW Beetles (Bridgetown Blog)

Minicards in 4 Colors! (tchem)

State of the Union (Sweetie Pie)

Pictured: A Random Day in This Writer’s Life (Sherri Phillips: The Power of 26)

I subscribe to all of these blogs.  You should, too.

“The Office,” “Community” and “30 Rock” Notes + A Great Post Inspired by “The King’s Speech”

Happy Friday, friends.  Just a few things I want to talk about today. If you’re a fan of the shows mentioned in this post’s title and haven’t gotten to your DVR yet, be aware: there are spoilers after #1.

  1. First, this great post by K at the My Business Addiction blog.  It’s about  “The King’s Speech” and “not letting imperfections keep [you] from taking chances and seeking out opportunities.”  I really liked this post and recommend it.
  2. I’ve been hoping that when Ricky Gervais made his inevitable “Office” cameo, it would be as David Brent.  And he did!  Non-Michael/David line of the night: “Where’s your jet pack, Zuckerberg?”  Was the interaction believable?  In some ways, yes, since for the storyline to pay off, it had to happen.  But I tend to think that people reconnecting as adults are a lot more gracious to each other than TV would have us believe.  I tend to think that after a certain point, we all realize that life is hard, things don’t always work out the way we plan, and we’re all pushing on.  That’s not just me, is it?
  3. I feel like “Community” got its heart back last week.  Heart and sincerity are what made season 1 so good.  Yes, it was outlandishly funny, but that only worked because it was balanced by heart.  The first half of this season missed a lot of that. Last week’s episode found it, and last night’s kept it going.  Good good good.
  4. 30 Rock was all about “Uptown Girl.” Must be something in the air.

Have a great weekend.  Check back tomorrow for a new video blog.

Your Life in Radio Singles

Nick Hornby signing books at Central Library, ...

You were the first Goonie.

The discussion on the “A Few More Things Your Kids Won’t Do, Generation X” post inspired me to follow up on a project I started a few years ago.  Everyone gets those Nick Hornby-inspired Facebook memes (“15 Albums That Changed Your Life”), and as much as we identify with certain collections of songs our favorite artists put out at pivotal (I am “What’s The Story (Morning Glory?)” in case you were wondering), I think an inventory of radio singles is a much better sampling.  First of all, there are more of them, and radio singles are more accessible sooner than the esoterica of record stores.  (Speaking of which, I’m pretty sure we stilled called them record stores well after they stopped selling vinyl records…but that’s a whole other esoteric discussion.)  So, your life in radio singles.  What would it look like?

Some rules:

  • They have to be singles that you remember the release of, either on the radio or on television.
  • They must evoke a person, time, place or way of being whenever you hear them.
  • You must list them chronologically, or as Rob from High Fidelity has it, autobiographical.

I’ll start.

An Innocent Man (song)

Oh yes I am.

1. “An Innocent Man” by Billy Joel, 1983.

2. “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel, 1983.

3. “Gloria” by Laura Branigan, 1983.

4. “The Longest Time” by Billy Joel, 1984.

*1, 2, and 4: I listened to this album all the time in the basement with my dad in the house we lived in when I was born.  We had a silver analog stereo, and I remember wondering where the songs and singers went when they faded out.  We watched cartoons, practiced spelling, reading, and boxing and listened to Billy Joel. I danced and jumped to the doo-wop grooves of this album and made the record to skip.  This would directly lead to the need for digital audio in the Cocca household.  3: I remember seeing this performed on one of those awesome pop shows.

5. “Take On Me” by A-ha, 1984. One of the first music videos I ever saw. It was a cartoon. And it was perfect.

Born in the USA

I went with this instead of the "Born in the USA" cover. Sorry, ladies.

6. “Born In The USA” by Bruce Springsteen, 1984. My dad had this one too. I remember singing the chorus as loud as I could in my room.

7. “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker, Jr., 1984.  If you were a kid in the 80s with any access to a radio, you loved this song. I had a Ghostbusters mirror from a fair in my room. It fell off the wall and broke, probably because I was dancing too enthusiastically to “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker, Jr.

Speaking of.  8.”Dancing On the Ceiling” by Lionel Richie, 1986. Dancing. On. The. Ceiling! I remember this in conjunction with being at my cousins’ house and seeing  the Latter Day Saints commercial where the little boy takes a groceries to his lonely neighbor.

9. “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon, 1986. Another one I remember because of the video. And the trombone.

10. “True Blue” by Madonna, 1986. Walking around my grandma’s development and singing it to show my older cousins that I knew a Madonna song.

11. “Luka” by Suzanne Vega, 1987. The 80’s could be effing scary.

12. “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” by the Beastie Boys, 1987.  I was licensed to spill.

13. “Superstitious” by Europe, 1988. Because I decided I should start watching MTV and have a favorite hairband. I was 8.

14. “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys, 1988. Cocktail and Uncle Jesse were everywhere that year. Elementary school music class “bring your favorite tape to school day” was no exception. What a cool song. Hard to believe Mike everlovin’ Love wrote it without Brian.

15. “Make Me Lose Control” by Eric Carmen, 1988. My sister was 3 and LOVED this song.

Rock the House (album)

Too literal? Too fresh!

16. “Parents Just Don’t Understand” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, 1988. The first rap song I can really remember.

17. “Nightmare On My Street” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, 1988. My cousin and I were at our grandparents’ house and called the station to request this one. We got through and got on air and listened to it on our Pop’s radio in his den. I dedicated it “to everybody.” I think it was Halloween.

18. “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul, 1989. I was in fourth grade. She was so hot. And the video was awesome.

19. “Batdance” by Prince, 1989. From the Batman soundtrack. My cousin insisted that Prince said the f-word in it. Dancers were dressed like half Jokers/half Batmen. Started watching Vh1 around this time.

20. “Cherish” by Madonna, 1989. Reminded me of The Association. Thought she was pretty. Wanted to live underwater.

21. “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx, 1989. Do I listen to pop music because I’m miserable, or am I miserable because I listen to pop music?

tom_petty_full_moon_fever

Perfection.

22. “Runnin’ Down A Dream” by Tom Petty, 1989. Cartoon video. Awesome song.  Discovered it (and Tom Petty) while looking for something to watch.

23. “Free Fallin'” by Tom Petty, 1989. Two kids singing this on the escalator at the mall. She loves Jesus? And America? I am 9 and so do I.

24. “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak, 1989. This is when I started to realize there was something inexplicably beautiful about being heartsick. Could longing be better than having? Wait, what? Nevermind.  Baseball cards!

25. “We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel, 1989.

26. “Another Day In Paradise” by Phil Collins, 1989.

25. “I Wish It Would Rain Down” by Phil Collins, 1989.

27. “Leningrad” by Billy Joel, 1989.

28. “The Downeaster Alexa” by Billy Joel, 1990.

29. “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor, 1990.

I'm totally bald, guys.

*25-29: I memorized “We Didn’t Start The Fire” for a poetry recital and explicated “Another Day In Paradise” for an English project. These tracks and these albums crystallized some early ideas about social justice, history, politics, longing, work…

30. “Black Velvet” by Allanah Myles, 1990. In addition to Jesus, I must now also come to terms with Elvis. Staying up late on Friday nights watching Vh1 and the Family Channel with my mom.

31. “One More Try” by Timmy T, 1990. I wonder what kinds of things people do to screw relationships up. Driving to my grandparents’ house past the municipal golf course and hearing it on the radio.

32. “No Myth” by Michael Penn, 1990. I had trouble sleeping as a kid. I used to listen to the local adult contemporary station every night and I really loved all these 1989/1990 songs. And black jeans.

33: “I’ve Been Thinking About You” by Londonbeat, 1990. See above. Sha-pop-pop. I’d often hear “No Myth” and “I’ve Been Thinking About You” back-to-back on ninety-six-one. And “King of Wishful Thinking” and so many other classics. “Wicked Game” was like a bonus.

34. “It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette, 1990. I remember hearing this in the car for the first time.

35. “Hazard” by Richard Marx, 1991. Mystical. This is one of the great narrative videos of the early 90s. I buy Rush Street.

36. “Baby, Baby” by Amy Grant, 1991. And everything else from Heart In Motion.

37. “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” by Bryan Adams, 1991. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Soundtrack. Video plays at the end of the VHS tape. This is the single greatest “couples” song ever played at any elementary school skating party. I am in 6th grade and am smitten. See #21.

38. “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M. One of these arty grown up bands they’re playing on Vh1 when I’m 11. More of this, please. I hear it walking past the Tilt-A-Whirl at Dorney Park.

He found you at Kmart. I taped you on a Kenwood.

39. “Motownphilly” by Boyz II Men, 1991. I don’t think anything needs to be said about this song. I borrowed the album from my cousin and dubbed it. They came to the Allentown Fair that year with Hammer and TLC. I was not allowed to go.

40. “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” by Boyz II Men, 1991. See above. These guys were the real deal.

41. “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men, 1992. See above. Still waiting for theuppityupalexvanderpoolera.

42. “Just Another Day” by John Secada, 1992. Remember Adult Contemporary?  Do you miss it as much as I do?

43. “Jesus Is Still Alright” by DC Talk, 1992. Samples the Doobie Brothers, Madonna, and Snap! The video on that Christian station out of Bethlehem makes me want to grow a goatee. Nathan Key turns me on to Free At Last.

44. “The One” by Elton John, 1992. And we’re back to see #21 above.

Redaction: I forgot “Into The Great Wide Open” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, 1991. The early 90’s music video aesthetic is something I miss. Petty was dressing like a hippie pirate at this point and I first heard this song on SNL. When you’re a kid, and you’ve sort of grown up on a certain album by a certain artist, and then you start getting a little older and that artist releases something new, it’s sort of like John on Patmos. This is a great track with a great narrative video on a great album from a great artist. When I was 11, this is what I was listening to instead of Nirvana.

Part 2 forthcoming next month.

 

Nick Hornby image via Wikipedia. Billy Joel image via Wikipedia, fair use. Bruce Springsteen image by werejellyfish via Flickr. JJ/FP, Phil Collins, and Boyz II Men images via Wikipedia, fair use.

New at Huffington: Barack Obama and Joseph Campbell

My newest piece for the Huffington Post is live. It’s about how the heroic narrative as proposed by Joseph Campbell maps onto President Obama’s journey up through his election.  At midterm, and facing reelection in two short years, where does the hero of the 2008 campaign go from here?  Do click on the picture to read.