Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't Smash That Bug

Look how beautiful these bugs are up close. It's hard to believe we slap these things when they bother us. Is it because we've never seen them so close?

More of the work of Tulsa photographer Thomas Shahan here

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Experience Things!" - The Experience vs. The Story of The Experience

It's interesting to witness the seismic shift instant messaging has created. When a Big, Important Event is taking place, say a concert or sporting event (or even a first date), we're now expected to send reports from the field using our iPhone or Blackberry. Rather than simply experiencing life, we're asked to record life, placing it in tidy digital context for others.

This isn't surprising: much of what we think we "like" are things we sense we're expected to like. Our tribe tells us what's important, and by reporting back to the tribe, we reaffirm our sense of belonging. Twittering and posting about how awesome the Super Bowl is only confirms what everyone senses deep inside: the Super Bowl sucks. But wait -- the Super Bowl is important! If we're at the Super Bowl, therefore we're important.

Mad Men's Matthew Weiner touches on this:

"When I look at digital, the dark side of it for me is the physicality that's being presented alongside the Internet. I think about that movie The Matrix, and about these bodies that are human batteries that support computers. I met this guy who was creating software where you could watch Mad Men and you could chat with your friend while you're watching it, and things would pop up, and facts would pop up, and I said, "You're a human battery. Turn the fucking thing off! You're not allowed to watch the show anymore. You're missing the idea of sitting in a dark place and having an experience. Are you just like sitting with your phone and you're kissing your girlfriend and saying, 'I'm kissing my girlfriend! This is so great, we're having sex!'" EXPERIENCE THINGS!"

Before long, the idea of recording an individual's entire life, cradle to grave, will be reality. We'll no longer speculate if a George Washington really chopped down that cherry tree - we'll just refer back to his Twitters for proof. The internet will be full of these archived "Lives Lived" for us to study. How will yours measure up?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Another Crazy Grizzard...

From the Daily Telegraph (UK):

"Marc Grizzard, of Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, North Carolina, says that the first King James translation of the Bible is the only true declaration of God’s word, and that all others are “satanic”. Pastor Grizzard and 14 other members of the church plan to burn copies of the other “perversions” of Scripture on Halloween, 31 October."

My heritage is southern Confederate. That's reality. They came from the racist South and they behaved like every other racist Southerner. My heritage is fundamentalist Christian. That's not a surprise, either. We're taught from infancy what we're supposed to believe, and warned of damnation if we stray.

But book burners? That's pathetic and scary — it's a symbolic act of violence against ideas. What happened to THIS Grizzard?

"Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings." — Heinrich Heine.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fascinating Fact: California

If California were an independent nation, it would be a member of the G8 (a political forum addressing the interests of the eight riches countries on Earth).

From the Family Values Desk: Dad-To-Be Gropes Maternity Nurse

From the UK Daily Mail:

"A father missed the birth of his first son after being arrested for groping a nurse on the way to the delivery room.

Police said Adam Manning sexually assaulted the nurse as she wheeled his wife into the delivery room.

The 30 year old had told the nurse she was "cute" then reached round to grab her breasts.

Police in Ogden, Utah, were called to the hospital and arrested Manning on charges of forcible sexual assault.

When later asked about his actions he said he had no idea why he carried out the assault. Police confirmed that he missed the birth of his son."

Here's the irony of the story: Utah Adoption laws prevent a person from designating their same-sex partner as a second parent if they are cohabitating. According to Utah state law (78-30-1), "a child may not be adopted by a person who is cohabiting in a relationship that is not a legally valid and binding marriage under the laws of this state". Furthermore, state legislature suggests that the optimal Adoption placement for a child should be a married heterosexual couple.

Therefore, in the eyes of Utah law, delivery room groper Adam Manning is far more fit to be a parent than any gay or lesbian (or unmarried hetero, for that matter) couple in Utah. Period.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

American Painting

When it's all said and done, this painting by pinup artist Gil Evgren might say more about America than any thing Pollock, Ruscha, or Warhol could ever say.

Family Pictures: Down on the Farm

My mom's parents, Lucile and Willis Logan, owned a 25-acre farm in Taylor County, West Virginia.

The two of them raised four children, then continued to live a simple, old-fashioned lifestyle. They kept cows for milk. They kept chickens for eggs. They grew their own vegetables. They often got their protein from varmints, like squirrel or ground-hog. I helped milk cows. I collected eggs. I saw Grandma behead chickens. I hiked in the woods. I picked berries. I used an outhouse. For a couple of weeks each year, I got to experience a rural, agrarian way of life that was a huge contrast to our families' life in industrial Baltimore. Everything moved so slowly. It was like visiting another country. Grandma played local gospel and country music radio in the house. When she sat down to watch her soap opera, she strung beans, or darned socks, or did something constructive with her hands. I never once saw her sitting idle.

Grandad chopped firewood every day that I can remember. Grandma baked bread almost every day. The old Philco refrigerator in the kitchen seemed extraneous. You know they didn't really need it.

Still, their house was full of books and news magazines. Grandad read voraciously, and kept nearly every magazine he ever read. All over the house there were stacks of old, mildewed magazines. I spent many hours studying old copies of "The Saturday Evening Post" from 1956, or "Coronet," from 1943. I read articles about politics, entertainment and sports. I loved looking at old advertisements. Back then, most ads featured long blocks of wonderfully written copy. I read every word. And the visuals: photography still wasn't popular back then. Most ad agencies hired talented illustrators to create sumptuous worlds of material wealth and comfort. I was hooked. I grew up and worked as a magazine designer, and then an advertising designer.
After my grandparents both died, there was no way to maintain their house. It was literally falling apart, and with no permanent residents, it was prone to break-ins. The family made the difficult decision to level the house. All of those memories are gone, but a few pictures remain:
Today, I can still smell the meadow. I can hear the sound of the cows braying. I can feel the bounce of our station wagon as we drove up the rough dirt road that led to their home.

We park the station wagon. Grandma is there to greet us. She's wearing a work dress and her hair is pulled back in a bun, as always. She's so happy to see us, and we're so happy to see her. She's so full of life. She loves my sister and I so unconditionally. She smiles at us so sweetly. I'm so happy to be here.

Our family still owns the Logan farm. We'll always own the Logan farm

"Making Money" vs. "Earning Money"

Despite what anti-intellectuals may tell you, words matter. When we spew out a "Freudian Slip," we reveal our innermost secrets. When we speak extemporaneously, we tend to show our hand in an extraordinary way.

Witness this excerpt from a speech by disgraced Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain. Pay close attention to the last sentence:

"Purely based on the fact that Wall Street is a pretty good meritocracy -- you have to have the right skill set -- basically you can start from zero there. You can become the president of Goldman Sachs. You can become the CEO of the New York Stock Exchange. You can become the CEO of Merrill Lynch. You can make a lot of money."

"Make" a lot of money. In the wake of exotic financial transactions gone bust, does the notion of a Wall Street hotshot "making" money sound ironic? It reveals these financial whizzes as Houdini-like figures, conjuring up profits via risk-laden speculation and naked ambition.

The take-away? "Earning" money is for chumps. "Making" money is for winners.

Friday Wack

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My Doppelgänger

A search for "David Grizzard" on Facebook brought a few matches.

The most scary match was this dude from Virginia. From the looks of things, he drives a pickup truck and misses the good 'ole days of slavery.

He also wears a very hip moustache/goatee (well, it was hip in 1990, for a few hours).

We Grizzards certainly tend to originate from the U.S. South, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Why is it still acceptable to wear the Stainless Banner in the U.S.? Don't tell me it's a celebration of a "heritage." That "heritage" was based upon the forcible enslavement of other human beings. It's nothing to be proud of.

Does merely invoking the word "heritage" suggest that moral criticism is off-limits? There is a "heritage" shared by families of Nazi soldiers. Should that be honored? What about the "heritage" of the 9/11 hijackers? Would you enjoy seeing their symbols on a baseball cap?

I guess my question is this: why would anyone want to wear the flag of such a racist, murderous, and sanctimonious group of individuals? What message are you trying to send to the world?

Mountain Biking Documentary: Early Footage

My friend Brent and I began filming on a documentary over the weekend. The subject? How NOT to mountain bike. Check out some video from the Northshore Trail, outside of Dallas. Or not. They're actually a complete waste of your time. Read a book instead.
Always wear bright yellow on the trail. Bears are afraid of yellow. I've never seen a bear while riding with a yellow shirt.