Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I'm reading Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States (free here) because one of my least favorite yet most interesting professors recommended it. This is the description:
"Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research. A People's History of the United States is the only volume to tell America's story from the point of view of - and, in the words of - America's women, factory workers, African Americans, Native Americans, working poor, and immigrant laborers."
I am trying to unpack my college experience and understand what it all meant. One of the ways that this book is helpful in this process is that it is helping to define for me what perspective Mizzou was taking on history. Although part of me doubts some of the facts that Zinn uses to support his view of history, I feel my hard conservative heart melting towards the oppressed groups throughout history.
Why I wanted to talk about this quote in particular: I have kept a quite offensive idea in my mind for the last couple years and have been gathering evidence to support it. I mostly accept that it's a really dumb idea, but still, it's a pet idea of mine. I have wondered whether slavery (the more gentle and humane version as described above as more akin to serfdom - which also sucked, I know) might not be some kind of practical solution to poverty and unemployment. It's structured, it provides for the basic needs of the slave, and (in a just society) it would have a set date of termination. I don't know what kind of payment system would be worked out, but as I have been reading, some slaves received land and supplies at the end of their slave term. This would also pay off any debt, I would assume. Interesting idea.
sumo wrestling in nyc - I won.
Most great youth group games are modified drinking games, one of those being 'Never Have I Ever.' I always forget what I haven't done and end up falling back on "never broken a bone" (which is kind of a lie - I broke my pinkie toe, but who counts that?) and "never kissed a girl" (especially funny with middle schoolers, because it's really embarrassing for the boys). I am going to actually brainstorm now that I'm not under pressure to come up with a good, legit list:
1. never gone paintballing
2. never had a sister
3. never went to a public high school/middle school
4. never lost a toenail/fingernail
5. never been to disneyland/world
6. never owned a pool
7. never owned a trampoline
hmmm...more to come.
So, I've been listening to Coldplay's Viva la Vida album for about five weeks now, and I think I've finally come to a decision about it. I like the songs a lot, I'm always switching my favorites, but the songs are fun to listen to and some are quite pretty.
Last week I realized that the album is very postmodern. In a lot of interviews on the album, Chris Martin was unabashed about the fact that they borrowed a lot of ideas from the musicians and bands they were listening to. I can hear some U2, some Postal Service, and some other melodic themes that sound familiar but I can't place. Very cool pastiche. However, some critics have said that the album doesn't end up saying much at all. They mention war, peace, love, and religious symbols in their songs, but there is nothing clear in any of the songs. I'm not expecting "the Iraq war is wrong and should end" in a song, but the messages are conflicting or too vague to draw any conclusions from.
From what I've read and from the classes I've taken, these are both postmodern tendencies. Vagueness and idea borrowing are not wrong, but they can be a little frustrating. If all Coldplay set out to do was to make a pretty album, they succeeded. But don't tease me with allusions to war and religion if you're not going to give me something to think about.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
What does New York mean?
How come you are in New York?
Are you American?
What do all of these lights and these noises mean?
Why do you live here?
What does it feel like to step on the sidewalks and find your subway in the greatest city in the world?
I was kind of overwhelmed by New York - but not in the over-sensitized type of way, but more that all of my perceptions of what New York City would be like did not quite compute with the reality. New York seemed way more American than I thought it would. On television and in people's stories it seemed like this dark, dangerous, magical city in which anything and everything happened. "Everything is available all the time" my friend told me. I don't really get the appeal of this, besides being able to stop by a place to get hair-bands at 11:30pm.
I was also expecting to be intimidated by every New Yorker I came across - their fabled wit, cynicism, fashion sense, cosmopolitan-ness, etc. The only neighborhood that made my jaw drop was SoHo. There were literally models walking down the street and a shoe boutique was having a sale that looked like a club opening.
I no longer have the 18 year old high-school graduate blind desire to move to New York and attend NYU. Maybe it's just that right now I don't want what New York offers.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
(stltoday.com) The new roof the City Museum, set to open in late July.
STLtoday: "High (and not so) Dry", on Cassilly's plans for the City Museum and Cementland
"The Ferris wheel is part of the City Museum's so-called rooftop attraction, the latest creation from City Museum founder/artist/madman Bob Cassilly. Poised to open this month, the roof will feature fountains, ramps and bridges, a cafe, a circus big top and three slides, including a 10-story ride to the bottom of the museum.
Cassilly has big dreams for the space — acrobats swinging from a trapeze underneath the one-time dome of the St. Louis Planetarium, families lounging under the shade of B-52 parachutes, kids splashing in the fountain fashioned from a carved elephant's trunk."
"I don't talk about money. That would be vulgar," he said."
"Cassilly has floated vague ideas for the site for years, but was forced to reveal his plans a month ago after St. Louis and the village of Riverview ordered Cassilly to stop work on the property. The site straddles both cities, but to no one's surprise, Cassilly never obtained permits from either."
""His story was always all of the work was being done in the city and then he'd tell the city all of the work was being done in Riverview. Finally we had to put our foot down. Let's just say working with him has been quite an experience.""
"St. Louis' most imaginative recycler, Cassilly built the rooftop attraction with slate from a St. Louis roofing company, bricks picked from the rubble of Cementland, mirrored blocks from Barnes-Jewish Hospital, steel panels from Boeing, benches from St. Louis Community College at Forest Park and old Cypress tanning barrels."
Gosh, I love him. It seems like the only way to get things done in this backward town is to do them and ask permission later. I hope Bob Cassilly runs for Mayor.
Bob Cassilly's Cementland in the New York Times: "One Part Cement, Two Parts Whimsy, One Odd Park"
"“In St. Louis, no one has the confidence in their creativity and intelligence” to make projects like the museum or Cementland work, said Tim Tucker, a developer who worked with Mr. Cassilly in the 1990s. “Lots of people conceive things, but very few can implement them as well as Bob.”"
"Pointing south, he rhapsodized about how downtown St. Louis would look from Cementland: “In the afternoon, when the sun shines on the city, you get this nice reflection. You don’t see all the trash and stuff. It’s the best view of the city.”"
"Mr. Tucker, the developer, was not encouraging when Mr. Cassilly told him of plans to buy a 750,000-square-foot complex for 69 cents a square foot. “If you’d given anyone half a million dollars in 1993, the last place to spend it was in St. Louis,” Mr. Tucker said.
Nevertheless, the Cassillys bought the complex, including the International Shoe Building, offices and a 10-story warehouse with a severe, boxy exterior that Mr. Cassilly described as “something Joseph Stalin would have designed.” He and a crew set about renovation, punching holes in walls and floors and transforming the site into the St. Louis City Museum."
"While the process has been slow, and Mr. Cassilly received a ticket for dumping with an expired permit in 2000, nature’s constancy will eventually be contrasted with man-made decay, as grass covers the dirt, Mr. Cassilly’s collection of obsolete machines grind and whir to no end and the core of the factory is flooded, allowing visitors to ride boats in and out of the buildings."
"The goal, he said, is similar to that of the City Museum: to create an unmistakable place “where people can come and do things they’re not supposed to.”"
View a slideshow of the progress of Cementland here.
My sister-in-law, Liz Kueneke, is an artist based out of Barcelona, Spain. She is called a psychogeographer and works in cultural cartography, most of her art installations have to do with how people view the space they live in. My favorite piece of hers to talk about is the one she did for the city of Barcelona. I probably don't have all of the facts right but she collaborated with other artists in Barcelona to create a large map of the neighborhood and people would walk by and interact with it. She had markers for people to put on the map, to change the map, to make it their own. Markers such as "I got mugged here," "I fell in love here," "I used to live here," etc. I love this idea. (see pictures of the project here)
Her most recent project is with the city of Rome. She has gathered people's thoughts on various spots in Rome on MP3 and made it into a biking tour of Rome - much like the headsets one wears in an art museum, with a voice explaining each piece. At various spots in the city, a voice will come on explaining what that place meant to them, and how they think of Rome. The picture above is the bike map for Rome. It's an awesome idea.
Liz Kueneke artist page
Eternal Tour - Rome
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
View Larger Map
I'm beginning to read Chinua Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah, which (according to The New Yorker) is based on the Nigerian government. So, to better understand the book, which is about some government employees and corruption, here's a bit of wiki Nigerian history:
Beginning in 1979, Nigerians participated in a brief return to democracy when Obasanjo transferred power to the civilian regime of Shehu Shagari. The Shagari government was viewed as corrupt and incompetent by virtually all sectors of Nigerian society, so when the regime was overthrown by the military coup of Mohammadu Buhari shortly after the regime's fraudulent re-election in 1984, it was generally viewed as a positive development by most of the population. Buhari promised major reforms but his government fared little better than its predecessor, and his regime was overthrown by yet another military coup in 1985. The new head of state, Ibrahim Babangida, promptly declared himself President and Commander in chief of the Armed Forces and the ruling Supreme Military Council and also set 1990 as the official deadline for a return to democratic governance. Babangida's tenure was marked by a flurry of political activity: he instituted the International Monetary Fund's Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) to aid in the repayment of the country's crushing international debt, which most federal revenue was dedicated to servicing. He also inflamed religious tensions in the nation and particularly the south by enrolling Nigeria in the Organization of the Islamic Conference,
After Babangida survived an abortive coup, he pushed back the promised return to democracy to 1992. When free and fair elections were finally held on the 12th of June, 1993, Babangida declared that the results showing a presidential victory for Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola null and void, sparking mass civilian violence in protest which effectively shut down the country for weeks and forced Babangida to keep his shaky promise to relinquish office to a civilian run government. Babangida's regime is adjudged to be at the apogee of corruption in the history of the nation as it was during his time that corruption became officially diluted in Nigeria.
From Boing Boing:
" DeviantArt's FilthyLuker produced this fantastic be-tentacled building installation somewhere in France with collaborator Pedro Estrellas. FilthyLuker's terse description: "Octo-pied Building: a house with tentacular cancer." Link"
It looks fake, as in, digital, but it's not.
Contemporary Arts Museum (source)
Soulard Market (source)
tricked-out photo of the Cathedral (source)
My friend Alison from L'Abri was in town this past week and I got the unique pleasure of showing her some of St. Louis. She had already been here before, so we got to skip the Arch (thank God). We hit up the Soulard Farmers Market, The Contemporary Art Museum, the Pulitzer Foundation, and the Cathedral Basilica, all places I had never been before or hadn't been since I was 12. I feel like I am developing a new crush on St. Louis. Maybe I will stay here for a bit after I graduate from seminary (if that ever happens).
Also, she gave me a CD from a fabulous Edinburgh band she's been singing with lately, Molly Wagger, check them out.
Oh crap. My dad said this is what is called "saber-rattling."
Reuters: "Iran tests missiles, heightening tension with West"
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
nytimes.com: "Taking Their Faith, but Not Their Politics, to the People", (June 1, 2008)
So, my parents are Sam's Club members and have been for as long as I can remember. I have heard that Costco has a great ethnic foods section and are more ethical towards their employees, so I am in the process of creating a PowerPoint presentation for my parents on why they should switch. In case you are wondering about this epic battle of the wholesellers, here's a killer article on Costco vs. Sam's:
USA Today: "Costco wins loyalty with bulky bargains" by Julie Schmit, (Sept. 2004)
"With CD sales declining and labels whining, it might seem crazy to view recorded music as fertile ground for investment. But for thousands of fans-turned-music-investors on SellaBand and Slicethepie, it makes perfect sense to gamble on a favorite band's future.
"I don't see anything wrong with the music industry in terms of artists being discovered, financed and released," said Slicethepie founder David Courtier-Dutton. "The problem is [the labels'] economic model. It just costs way too much money to get to the point where they find whether or not anyone likes the music."
...The idea is to tap a band's online fan base to generate cash for recording and production costs, and in the process help musicians that are hot on MySpace move to the next level. The model is so intriguing that Amazon.com wants in on the action, although regulatory hurdles could keep music-investment sites from taking off in the United States.
...Anyone can become an investor in a SellaBand artist by buying an advance copy of an album and a single share in the recording for $10. The site has raised more than $1.5 million from more than 25,000 investors. They've deposited an average of $50, but investments have run as high as $25,000.
Out of 6,500 bands, 14 have reached the $50,000 mark, which is when SellaBand helps find a studio and a big-name producer to record the album. (SellaBand artist Cubworld got paired with Gwen Stefani's producers.) Advertising revenue and sales revenue are split between SellaBand, the artists and investors. (Both SellaBand and Slicethepie keep the float: interest on fans' money in the time between collection and disbursal to the bands. If a band doesn't raise enough to record an album, the money is returned to investors.)"
- No person shall ride a motorized bicycle upon a sidewalk.
- 307.180. Bicycle And Motorized Bicycle, Defined
As used in sections 307.180 to 307.193: (1) The word bicycle shall mean every vehicle propelled solely by human power upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, or two parallel wheels and one or two forward or rear wheels, all of which are more than fourteen inches in diameter, except scooters and similar devices; (2) The term motorized bicycle shall mean any two or three-wheeled device having an
automatic transmission and a motor with a cylinder capacity of not more than fifty cubic centimeters, which produces less than three gross brake horsepower, and is capable of propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than thirty miles per hour on level ground. A motorized bicycle shall be considered a motor vehicle for purposes of any homeowners- or renters- insurance policy.
- it is illegal to operate motorized bicycles on public streets and highways unless the operator has a driver’s license.
- Motorized bicycles and mini-motorcycles that have a motor with a cylinder capacity of more than 50cc and/or the ability to travel faster than 30 mph on level ground are--by law--defined as motorcycles. As such, these types of vehicles must abide by all of the state laws pertaining to motorcycles.
What are the licensing requirements for motor scooters or mopeds (under 50cc)?
Licensing for a scooter or moped depends on whether the vehicle meets the definition of a motorized bicycle. The Missouri statute definition of a motorized bicycle is as follows:
"Any two-wheeled or three-wheeled device having an automatic transmission and a motor with a cylinder capacity of not more than fifty (50) cubic centimeters, which produces less than three (3) gross brake horsepower, and is capable of propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than thirty (30) miles per hour on level ground."
A motorized bicycle does not have to be registered with the Missouri Department of Revenue. However, you must have a valid driver license to operate a motorized bicycle (though no motorcycle endorsement is required).
Missouri statute does not require a helmet to be worn when operating a motorized bicycle. Please contact your local law enforcement agencies for any county/municipal codes that deal with helmets and motorized bicycles.
Keep in mind that no motorized bicycle may be operated on any public thoroughfare located within this state that has been designated as part of the federal interstate highway system.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Jennifer Aniston and John Mayer were together again for the second stop on his summer tour, which hit St. Louis Thursday night. But rather than acknowledge her presence in the crowd, Mayer teased his audience about interest in his personal life.
"[Fans] send me links from PEOPLE," he said, marveling at the coverage of his remarks the previous night when he – with Aniston in tow – joked about being the subject of Internet rumors. "That just tempts me to say things." The audience at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights roared its approval, but Mayer would not divulge any intimate details.
Instead, he playfully peppered his nearly two-hour concert with dubious confessions designed to feed those who were curious about his private life: He fears the color green. He weighed 400 pounds when he was 12. He wrote the lyrics to the Kenny Loggins hit "Danger Zone" – at age 9. And he was "33 percent done" with building a time machine.
"When I was a child I would kill small animals and wear their teeth as necklaces," he deadpanned. "True. Print that. And I've always felt deep down that I was born a woman."
Aniston remained out of sight during the show, but she watched Mayer's pre-concert soundcheck from the fifth row of the amphitheater, according to radio contest winners who sat a few rows farther back. She wore a slate-colored dress and a cardigan in the damp, late-afternoon air. "She looked like Colbie Caillet," said a witness, referring to the "Bubbly" singer who served as Mayer's opening act. "But it was definitely Jen."
Other fans clearly had Aniston on the brain.
During musical breaks between acts, the twin video screens flanking the stage displayed anonymous notes sent via text message from the crowd. "Team Aniston!" wrote one.
The most brazen of the bunch, preceding Mayer's own onstage joking: "John, I'm pregnant. – Jen."
Saturday, July 5, 2008
...At the start of 2007, no one in Baghdad would have predicted that blood-soaked neighborhoods would begin returning to life within a year. The improved conditions can be attributed, in increasing order of importance, to President Bush’s surge, the change in military strategy under General David Petraeus, the turning of Sunni tribes against Al Qaeda, the Sadr militia’s unilateral ceasefire, and the great historical luck that brought them all together at the same moment. With the level of violence down, the Iraqi government and Army have begun to show signs of functioning in less sectarian ways. These developments may be temporary or cyclical; predicting the future in Iraq has been a losing game. Indeed, it was President Bush’s folly to ignore for years the shifting realities on the ground.
Obama, whatever the idealistic yearnings of his admirers, has turned out to be a cold-eyed, shrewd politician. The same pragmatism that prompted him last month to forgo public financing of his campaign will surely lead him, if he becomes President, to recalibrate his stance on Iraq. He doubtless realizes that his original plan, if implemented now, could revive the badly wounded Al Qaeda in Iraq, reënergize the Sunni insurgency, embolden Moqtada al-Sadr to recoup his militia’s recent losses to the Iraqi Army, and return the central government to a state of collapse. The question is whether Obama will publicly change course before November. So far, he has offered nothing more concrete than this: “We must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in.”"
"Obama's Iraq Problem" by George Packer in The New Yorker
Friday, July 4, 2008
"There are six projections in the title series, each soundless and lasting fourteen minutes; a seventh takes the form of abstract drawings on music manuscript paper. They all begin with a flood of warm colors, reds and yellows, which gradually give way to black, silhouetted images. In '1st Light,' the initial images include a telephone pole, overhead wires, and flocks of birds; into this space, a minute later, small objects slowly rise - cell phones, eyeglasses, folding chairs, an iPod - defying gravity and breaking apart. Larger objects float up: a police car, a bicycle, and then, shockingly, a body hurtles downward. More human figures fall, sometimes singly, sometimes in pairs or groups, travelling much faster than the rising objects, until color returns in washes of deep blue and violet and the cycle begins anew.
One thinks inevitably of September 11th. Also the Apocalypse and the Rapture, but with a twist - God welcoming our consumer goods while sending us to the Other Place. When I asked Chan about this, he grinned and said, 'Given that what I like is to turn things upside down, I thought it might be more interesting if Jesus didn't take anyone, but only took our favorite things."
"Shadow Player: The provocations of Paul Chan" by Calvin Tomkins in The New Yorker
"After Empire: Chinua Achebe and the great African novel" by Ruth Franklin in The New Yorker
After reading 'Culture Matters,' I think it would be helpful to read about the corruption of third world countries from the perspective of its citizens. Off to the library...
Awhile back I googled Mizzou disc golf course and it came up with nothing. Then I asked my friend Andy Patton, who plays the wonderful sport frequently, about which course he uses and he gave me all 18 holes over the phone. Wonderful guy. If you find yourself on Mizzou campus and fancy a game of frolf, here's one option:
1. From corner of College and University, through archway, to fire hydrant.
2. Hit red emergency phone by giant tree.
3. Towards Memorial Union, throw from 1st intersection of sidewalks to statue of kids outside HDFS building on left.
4. Through arch at Memorial Union to hit light post on left.
5. From stage on Lowry Mall to hit square fountain.
6. Scoot over from square fountain to throw through two trees to hit circular bench across 9th st.
7. From back steps of Jesse through columns to hit informational pedestal.
8. From pedestal to orange sculpture through hoop.
9. From sculpture to hit Thomas Jefferson.
10. From far column to mini Washington Memorial.
11. From fire hydrant to Beatle Bailey.
12. From circle drive at Alumni Center blue handicap square to bench by parking garage.
13. From 'No Parking' sign at Newman Center to land in Bank of America circle by Cornell.
14. From Buisness School platform/porch to Tiger
15. From Tiger to Brady Fountain
16. From Brady fountain to Law School trashcan.
17. From Speakers' circle to Emergency red thing between the circle and Lowry.
18. From big ball on stick sculpture (by Lowry Hall - A&S) to other metal sculpture on Lowry Mall.
Try it out. Enjoy!
Thursday, July 3, 2008
I previously wrote a post on how I had a brain crush on Ira Glass, host of NPR's This American Life. I love him, he's awesome, whatever.
He came to Mizzou during my last year, and I was really sad that I missed him. He's coming to the Pageant in St. Louis. I have no idea what his live show will be like, but I bought a ticket for myself anyways. I'm talking to every Ira lover I know and trying to get them to go with me.
His show (I think) is benefiting Prison Performing Arts, which is a program in some eastern Missouri prisons where the prisoners put on plays. You'd be better off just listening to the This American Life program on it: