Things that are good: handmade things, sunshine in the hair and breeze on the back, helping out strangers, discovering shaking-and-moving things. Things that are better? Well, Better, over here, has been sharing writing and art that’s like that for a bit, and issue Five — from what we can tell — it’s a theme issue: everything is hi-five worthy. 

Collage by Rachel Day

Things that are good: handmade things, sunshine in the hair and breeze on the back, helping out strangers, discovering shaking-and-moving things. Things that are better? Well, Better, over here, has been sharing writing and art that’s like that for a bit, and issue Five — from what we can tell — it’s a theme issue: everything is hi-five worthy. 

Collage by Rachel Day


David Foster Wallace’s copy of Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce. 

David Foster Wallace’s copy of Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce. 


Life loves the liver of it. —Maya Angelou 

Life loves the liver of it. —Maya Angelou 


Macondo
“Many years later, in front of the firing squad, colonel Aureliano Buendía would remember that distant afternoon his father took him to discover ice.” 
100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez

Macondo

“Many years later, in front of the firing squad, colonel Aureliano Buendía would remember that distant afternoon his father took him to discover ice.” 

100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez


Colombia’s Paradero Paralibros Para Parques program has given birth to one hundred miniature libraries all over the South American republic, the majority of which are in Bogotá, Colombia’s main metropolis. The petite libraries are open a scant twelve hours a week, mostly on weekends, and are run by volunteers who also create events for kids and the community and help with homework assignments. Long live print, and long live Colombia’s national literacy organization, Fundalectura, who are responsible for these tiny monuments to the shared power and joy of knowledge.

Colombia’s Paradero Paralibros Para Parques program has given birth to one hundred miniature libraries all over the South American republic, the majority of which are in Bogotá, Colombia’s main metropolis. The petite libraries are open a scant twelve hours a week, mostly on weekends, and are run by volunteers who also create events for kids and the community and help with homework assignments. Long live print, and long live Colombia’s national literacy organization, Fundalectura, who are responsible for these tiny monuments to the shared power and joy of knowledge.



Blinky Palermo
"Peter Heisterkamp"Stadtisches Kunstmuseum, Bonn, 198110.5 x 8 inches (26.67 x 20.32 cm)

Blinky Palermo

"Peter Heisterkamp"
Stadtisches Kunstmuseum, Bonn, 1981
10.5 x 8 inches (26.67 x 20.32 cm)

Cite Arrow via karmakarmanyc

You can’t overestimate how exciting it was to be openly gay in San Francisco in the 1970s. I mean, Stonewall had happened in 1969, gay civil rights legislation was passing in different states, and, you know, for the first time you could love openly and not be considered sick, not be arrested. It was a very exciting, heady time…
Alysia Abbott writes about growing up with her gay dad in SF in the 70s in her new book Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father. As a millenium of civil rights struggles whirs into action before our very eyes — nascent advances are made, fundamental victories are threatened — it’s good to take a close look at those who brought us this far by demanding the right to be themselves.

You can’t overestimate how exciting it was to be openly gay in San Francisco in the 1970s. I mean, Stonewall had happened in 1969, gay civil rights legislation was passing in different states, and, you know, for the first time you could love openly and not be considered sick, not be arrested. It was a very exciting, heady time…

Alysia Abbott writes about growing up with her gay dad in SF in the 70s in her new book Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father. As a millenium of civil rights struggles whirs into action before our very eyes — nascent advances are made, fundamental victories are threatened — it’s good to take a close look at those who brought us this far by demanding the right to be themselves.

Fairyland Memoir

Fairyland Memoir


Shadow puppetry tonight at City Lights Bookstore in SF based on Matt Bell’s novel In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods. Starts in an hour. Get ye.

Shadow puppetry tonight at City Lights Bookstore in SF based on Matt Bell’s novel In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods. Starts in an hour. Get ye.


The grand old families of Long Island — the Buchanans of ‘East Egg’ — and their disdain for the flamboyant nouveau riche of ‘West Egg’ are the kingpin of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. As you’ll know if you’ve read the book, or if you see the Baz Luhrmann adaptation — for which he wrote the screenplay in a loft suite at Ace Hotel New York — premiering today, West Egg’s prince of thieves is represented by the Prohibition-era rumrunner with an inferiority complex and a broken heart of gold, Jay Gatsby. Why would generations of Americans below tycoon-status be so drawn to a story in some ways so remote from their own lives, dealing as it does with an obtuse schism between rival factions of the over-privileged? Likely, it’s due to Jay Gatsby’s humble origins, and the shame he felt about them, coupled with his unrequited love — both of which make him universally relatable. He’s a prototype for the conflicted American social climber, most eloquently expressed today in hip hop. We don’t begrudge him his excess because he feels like one of our own. And none of it — the fancy cars, the lavish parties, the jazz orchestras imported from Harlem — can salve the wounded soul of this striver anyway. His hopeless inner struggle humanizes him. Even after the robber barons of the Jazz Age drove the country off a cliff there was still a place in America’s heart for Jay Gatsby.
The Gatsbys and Buchanans of today’s West and East Egg are less nuanced. The rumrunner tycoons are all gone. They’ve been replaced by investment banks that bundle predatory loans and sell them to your grandparents’ pension funds, then short sell against those same loans, to make a killing when families get foreclosed on in Jamaica, Queens or Cleveland, Ohio, and your grandparents lose their life savings. You know the story well — its choose-your-own-misadventure variations are nearly endless.
In our Gilded Age, if you’re more than a few rungs up, there’s little or no social consequence for ethically dubious schemes, as there was for poor Gatsby’s rumrunning. When a Gatsby of 2013 gets busted, he settles for pennies on the dollar and celebrates by treating himself to a Picasso. Our East and West Eggers’ soirées still depend upon the fruits of creative labor. Without artists, the party would be a drag. Even acute protestations end up on the penthouse walls.
As Luhrmann’s film adaptation of The Great Gatsby hits screens today, we’ll face an invitation to inquire into how history repeats itself — how are tensions between landed gentry and lottery winners, between philanthropists and studio-squatters, between the desire to be an object of envy and the deep human need to struggle toward our fantasies, ideals and visions — how are these the sheer force by which a developed and developing world orbits? We’re human, imperfect, compassionate, greedy, and full of yearning. It looks good on the big screen — it’s fucking beautiful. Good sugar with a bit of vinegar between the lines of the great American novel.

The grand old families of Long Island — the Buchanans of ‘East Egg’  and their disdain for the flamboyant nouveau riche of ‘West Egg’ are the kingpin of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. As you’ll know if you’ve read the book, or if you see the Baz Luhrmann adaptation — for which he wrote the screenplay in a loft suite at Ace Hotel New York — premiering today, West Egg’s prince of thieves is represented by the Prohibition-era rumrunner with an inferiority complex and a broken heart of gold, Jay Gatsby. Why would generations of Americans below tycoon-status be so drawn to a story in some ways so remote from their own lives, dealing as it does with an obtuse schism between rival factions of the over-privileged? Likely, it’s due to Jay Gatsby’s humble origins, and the shame he felt about them, coupled with his unrequited love  both of which make him universally relatable. He’s a prototype for the conflicted American social climber, most eloquently expressed today in hip hop. We don’t begrudge him his excess because he feels like one of our own. And none of it — the fancy cars, the lavish parties, the jazz orchestras imported from Harlem — can salve the wounded soul of this striver anyway. His hopeless inner struggle humanizes him. Even after the robber barons of the Jazz Age drove the country off a cliff there was still a place in America’s heart for Jay Gatsby.

The Gatsbys and Buchanans of today’s West and East Egg are less nuanced. The rumrunner tycoons are all gone. They’ve been replaced by investment banks that bundle predatory loans and sell them to your grandparents’ pension funds, then short sell against those same loans, to make a killing when families get foreclosed on in Jamaica, Queens or Cleveland, Ohio, and your grandparents lose their life savings. You know the story well  its choose-your-own-misadventure variations are nearly endless.

In our Gilded Age, if you’re more than a few rungs up, there’s little or no social consequence for ethically dubious schemes, as there was for poor Gatsby’s rumrunning. When a Gatsby of 2013 gets busted, he settles for pennies on the dollar and celebrates by treating himself to a Picasso. Our East and West Eggers’ soirées still depend upon the fruits of creative labor. Without artists, the party would be a drag. Even acute protestations end up on the penthouse walls.

As Luhrmann’s film adaptation of The Great Gatsby hits screens today, we’ll face an invitation to inquire into how history repeats itself  how are tensions between landed gentry and lottery winners, between philanthropists and studio-squatters, between the desire to be an object of envy and the deep human need to struggle toward our fantasies, ideals and visions  how are these the sheer force by which a developed and developing world orbits? We’re human, imperfect, compassionate, greedy, and full of yearning. It looks good on the big screen  it’s fucking beautiful. Good sugar with a bit of vinegar between the lines of the great American novel.


from Mary Szybist’s Incarnadine released in early February of this year from Greywolf Press.
Szybist is a Portland poet who reads tonight at the Brooklyn Public Library with other Greywolf poets Catherine Barnett and Dobby Gibson at 7pm on the Plaza at the Central branch.

from Mary Szybist’s Incarnadine released in early February of this year from Greywolf Press.

Szybist is a Portland poet who reads tonight at the Brooklyn Public Library with other Greywolf poets Catherine Barnett and Dobby Gibson at 7pm on the Plaza at the Central branch.


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