General

Memory, like love, is an act of imagination, an abandonment and a possession.

— Susan Dodd

When I go home, I don’t start a second life—it’s more of the same. There are no Saturdays or Sundays.

— Carine Roitfeld

Courage and criticism

Courage is not a virtue frequently associated with the criticism beat, but it lies near the heart of [Pauline] Kael’s achievement—not because she was unsqueamish about praising and slamming movies (though she was) but because, from the time she wrote her first review until the moment she retired, in 1991, her authority as a critic relied solely on her own, occasionally whimsical taste.

Pauline Kael, Film Critic, Contrarian : The New Yorker

The lost interview

I went to the theater to see this lost interview with Steve Jobs from 1995 that was originally shot for Triumph of the Nerds and came away from it inspired. Because what other executive in Silicon Valley would ever cite Picasso and Thoreau? And that he did makes me believe that, perhaps, there’s a place in the Valley for someone like me.
EXCLUSIVE: Steve Jobs ‘The Lost Interview’ Teaser – YouTube

Jeff Sachs on Occupy Wall Street

Activists are needed among shareholders, consumers and students to hold corporations and politicians to account. Shareholders, for example, should pressure companies to get out of politics. Consumers should take their money and purchasing power away from companies that confuse business and political power. The whole range of other actions — shareholder and consumer activism, policy formulation, and running of candidates — will not happen in the park.

The new movement also needs to build a public policy platform. The American people have it absolutely right on the three main points of a new agenda. To put it simply: tax the rich, end the wars and restore honest and effective government for all.

The New Progressive Movement – NYTimes.com

My favorite things of 2010


At the end of 2009 I put together a quick list of things I liked from the year. Earlier in December some friends asked if I would be making a similar list this year. And indeed, I have made one, and it is more ambitious than last year’s in its scope, volume, and design. Check it out here.

Inevitably, there are some things that I would like to mention that I liked during the year but, for one reason or another, didn’t quite make the list. Here are the honorable mentions:

Henri Cartier-Bresson at the MoMA — I’ve only gotten a quick preview of this show, but it’s very promising, and I can’t wait to take the time to really take it in. Without Bresson, the sort of photography I practice wouldn’t even be possible, so I’m looking forward to the chance to see so many of his prints in person.

Audrey Tautou — I love her acting, her films, her style, and the fact that she uses a Leica to photograph people she meets.

Difficulty — This one really should have been on the list, but I chose to write it into a couple other entries. I feel like we’ve become less and less patient when it comes to difficult things—people, art, technology, and work. But one of the things I learned in my life as a reader is that difficulty often conceals great value. And that’s something I remembered in 2010. Difficulty is something to engage with, not run away from, because the rewards for doing so can be so great. It’s closely related to insistent compassion and creating possibilities, which both made the list. You can find someone difficult to know and just throw your hands up and walk away or you can insistently try to know them because, perhaps, their worth will justify their difficulty. You can leave Gaddis and Proust and Foster Wallace and Pynchon on the shelf because their books are too long and confusing or you can take the time to read them and, perhaps, find yourself changed. And, ah ha, wouldn’t that be worth any level of difficulty?

Yanidel — The street photographer Yanick Delafoge calls himself Yanidel, and his post-processing techniques produce a look that it utterly unique and European and brilliant. I especially enjoy his photographs from Paris.

Cosi on rue de Seine in Paris — In April I returned here for the first time in nearly nine years. It still serves the best sandwiches in the world.

Ken Griffey, Jr. — He was the hottest minor league prospect in baseball at the time when I really became fanatical about the sport, and I followed his entire career until it ended this summer. His swing was beautiful, and he should go down as the greatest player of his generation. I got to see him play in the 2007 All-Star game when he started in the same outfield as Barry Bonds in San Francisco, something I’ll never forget.

Subjective Time — This is the simple but not often cited concept of how we experience time subjectively in relation to our age. It’s no secret that time seems to pass faster as we get older, but it’s not commonly known that this concept has been scientifically studied and verified. In fact, there’s even an equation that describes one’s perception of time based on her age. Given current average life expectancies in the Unites States, we feel like we’ve lived half of our lives before the age of 20. Twenty is the subjective halfway point of our lives. It’s no wonder that it seems like such a formative age!

Concord, Massachusetts — Walden Pond, Mount Misery, Sleepy Hollow, and ridiculously large servings of ice cream—and only a 30-minute drive from Cambridge!

Love and Its Opposite by Tracey Thorn — That no one else writes songs about the disappointments of middle age makes this a unique album. That Tracey Thorn does so with brilliance and nuance makes it spectacular.

Printing Photos — So much better than storing them in the “cloud.”

Generation Why? by Zadie Smith — This is one of the better things that has been written about online culture, i.e. what the Internet has done to our culture.

J.D. Salinger — Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.

Don’t forget to read the final list. Click on the images to reveal the descriptions. And click on the Away arrow to open the page for a random favorite.

My year in photos

This was the first year of my life that I documented more with my photography than with my writing, especially if that whole picture = 1,000 words equation is true. Here are some of the things I saw in 2010, arranged, more or less, chronologically. For those of you who are curious about gear, I took most of the shots with a Leica M7, Leica M8, or Panasonic GF1.

Using HDR Efex Pro for the first time

I use Nik’s Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro quite a bit for post processing my photos, so I felt compelled to try out their new HDR software. Unfortunately, I don’t have exposure-bracketed shots that I took with the intention of making an HDR image. So, I took a couple photos I had from a hike to Mount Misery last month and put them into HDR Efex to see what it could make of them. The conditions under which I shot these photos were not ideal—I handheld them and took my rangefinder camera away from my eye to adjust the shutter speed in between shots—but the result from only two shots is not disappointing. See below for the HDR image and the original two photos that HDR Efex combined to make it.


Because the Night

All these years, I’ve assumed that Patti Smith wrote “Because the Night”—that is, until I was listening to Springsteen’s The Promise, yesterday. It turns out that Bruce started writing the song, and Smith finished it.

 

NLCS Notes: Why did Jimmy Rollins not steal second last night?

When Brian Wilson struck out Ryan Howard to end the sixth and final game of the NLCS last night, I immediately thought of Carlos Beltran’s looking K against the Cardinals to end Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS and the question that Phillies fans will be asking all offseason, “Why didn’t he swing?” Others have made the same remark in the press.

However, just as puzzling to be was the Phillies failure to give Jimmy Rollins the chance to steal second base in the ninth last night. When Kevin Millar of the Red Sox walked in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the ALCS with his team facing elimination against the Yankees, the Sox put Dave Roberts into the game as a pinch runner. As reiterated in Ken Burns’ recent Tenth Inning, everyone at Fenway knew that Roberts was going to steal second. And after three pickoff attempts by Mariano Rivera, he did. The rest, of course, is history. Rollins reached base in a nearly identical situation last night, and I was certain that he would attempt to steal second. And yet he didn’t. Granted, the Phillies did eventually get a runner to second base in the inning, but that didn’t happen until there were two outs when Howard walked to the plate and back to the dugout after having watched strike three graze the outside corner.

Some other, brief notes from last night’s game:

  • Opposing second baseman have had a very tough time in the field against the Giants this postseason. Will Ian Kinsler fare any better?
  • The benches cleared last night because Jonathan Sanchez and Chase Utley have a history. Joe Buck didn’t not mention that until much later in the game after his producer alerted him.
  • Tim Lincecum’s appearance had me worried not so much for the Giants, but for his arm and the future of his career. Fortunately, he didn’t last long. We’ll see how he fares on Wednesday’s Game 1 against Texas after five days of rest, excepting yesterday’s appearance.
  • Roy Oswalt threw back-to-back pitches at 67 mph and 94 mph—that’s an incredible 27 mph speed differential, and he was frequently in the 20-24 mph differential range.
  • Keep in mind that Sanchez was removed from the game after the fight in the third inning. He was not ejected or injured. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pitcher knocked out of the game in the second of a game that ended with his team winning 3-2. For all the troubles the Giants’ bullpen has had this postseason, they really came through yesterday. Granted, it was one of their starters, Madison Bumgarner, pitching on short rest, who got them through some critical innings in the middle of the game.
  • This is an interview with Giants’ closer Brian Wilson, and this is Rangers’ pitcher C.J. Wilson’s Twitter feed.
  • Do players bring their own ski goggles for post-game celebrations? Or does the team purchase a huge lot of them that are just sitting on a table when they enter the locker room?

Songs from childhood

I’ve been listening a lot to Arcade Fire’s record The Suburbs this weekend, and I’m reminded of Flannery O’Connor’s line that seems entirely applicable to the Canadian band: “Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.” Whoever picked one of their songs for the Where the Wild Things Are trailer could not have done better.