Category Archives: Writing

Poetry For A Moment In “The Witness”

The Veteran, by Dorothy Parker:

Plaid

Image: Calsidyrose via Flickr

When I was young and bold and strong,
Oh, right was right, and wrong was wrong!
My plume on high, my flag unfurled,
I rode away to right the world.
‘Come out, you dogs, and fight!’ said I,
And wept there was but once to die.

But I am old; and good and bad
Are woven in a crazy plaid.

From the collection Complete Poems

This poem appeared at the end of a fascinating portrait of Michelle Lyons, formerly of the Texas prison system, who witnessed hundreds of executions in her role as head of public information. It’s part of a well-assembled character sketch titled, “The Witness” by Pamela Colloff for Texas Monthly that gives a unique look into some of the nuances of this position. After reading this multi-layered, compelling story (discovered at Longreads), this poem seemed a wholly appropriate inclusion at its end. Check out the entire story here:

The Witness by Pamela Colloff for Texas Monthly

What do you think? Are you a fan of Dorothy Parker’s work? Do you ever enjoy #longreads? What are your thoughts on how time or responsibilities can change a person? Let us hear from you in the comments.

UPDATE: comment from Author Pamela Colloff

Tomatoes, I Have Never Understood You

Nor you me…

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But I am enjoying these heirloom summer babies pretty much on the regular lately. All shots here produced via Hipstamatic.

So Deep As The Sky

So Deep As The Sky

There is nothing under the sky
we can’t learn or unlearn
nothing preventing us
from ascending

There’s a deeper understanding
beyond any of us
beyond it all
beyond

Time and reflection can happen
but still we wonder
let it lead us
on down

Time can carry us elsewhere
as it will always do
never ending
irreverent
true.

Let it happen.

Musical accompaniment: Men At Work – Overkill

Photo Synthesis – Jerry Uelsmann Review

Jerry Uelsmann: Photo SynthesisPhoto Synthesis by Jerry Uelsmann

This is a great introduction to the world of Uelsmann’s photo magic. I saw this book 20 years ago in a creative writing class, of all places, and made the effort some years later (after Amazon.com was invented) to seek it out and am glad I did. Looking back on my career and life since then, I can say unequivocally that it changed my thinking and helped set me on a creative path I’m still having fun exploring.

I copied & pasted this review via Goodreads.com, a site I’m only now getting into, since – although I love good writing – I’m always hard-pressed to find works that I can really sink my teeth into. How fitting that my first review there is for a book of photography… but whatever. It really is a fantastic collection, and if you’re at all interested in perusing some mind-blowing images, I highly recommend it.

What do you think? Are you on Goodreads? How do you find the next book you’d like to read? Let us hear from you in the comments.

In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran – Audiobook Review

I just completed the audio version of In The Pleasure Groove: Love Death and Duran Duran, narrated by John Taylor, bassist and co-founder of Duran Duran.

In The Pleasure GrooveThe band have long been one of my favorites. In fact, the very first record I ever bought with my own money was Seven And The Ragged Tiger. On cassette, of course.

Duran Duran Rocks

I’ve been into Duran Duran’s music since I was 10 years old, because I like the sound: exotic, upbeat, futuristic, yet with an undeniable groove. It was an older female cousin who turned me onto them and I noticed that girls really liked the band – “those guys must be doing something right,” I thought, and I’ve been following their career and enjoying their music ever since the early ’80s.

John Taylor of Duran Duran

John Taylor of Duran Duran in the ’80s, living the dream. Photo: New York Times

Of course I’m biased as a fan and music lover, but I’ll still say this book was great overall. The initial description of Taylor’s upbringing and childhood seemed long at first, but it’s a relevant setting of context for the ensuing fame story, as we watch this lad from Birmingham navigate punk and disco into new wave and rock, all as a bassist and band member with artistic vision, along with those of his band mates who soon become heartthrobs, almost to their detriment.

Duran Duran Still Rocking

The guys are still at it, recording and touring to this day. Here they are at Coachella in 2011 performing their very first single, “Planet Earth,” and obviously enjoying the thrill. Taylor ends the book with a description of this very moment:

It’s an outdoor festival, so tour manager Craig will not get to give his usual cue to take the house lights down. Tonight, that’s one of God’s jobs. And what a job of it he’s doing. A glittering bauble of sunlight fights to stay above the horizon. A full moon appears – a late-coming VIP that takes a seat above the lighting gantry at 11 o’clock high. Nature presents for us a better light show than any human could ever have created.

My heart is pounding. There’s no better time than this, when I’m about to take stage and the future belongs to me. This is what the moment feels like as I walk out onto the stage one more time. Roger’s drums kick in. An eight-bar count and I’m in with him, the galloping groove that started it all for me. Thirty thousand California kids, eyes and teeth smiling, cameras and cell phones popping, a million tiny seductions all at once. And the music never sounded better.

I would recommend the book to anyone with a passing interest in what it’s like to be a working-class kid who falls in love with music, reaches the height of fame because of it, and handles the aftermath (good and bad) with grace.

What do you think? Ever read a book by a rock star? What were your impressions? Is there any music favorites from your youth the carryover to today? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Lost At Sea by Jon Ronson: A Review

Jon Ronson Lost At SeaI’ve just completed Lost At Sea by British writer Jon Ronson. This is a great compendium of idiosyncratic, engaging stories.

Ronson has appeared several times on This American Life, one of my favorite radio programs. Having already been a fan of Ronson’s stories there and his work elsewhere, and also only now getting into audiobooks, I wondered if I might find some of his work at audible.com. Sure enough, it’s there.

This book, published in 2012, is a collection of stories from the past decade or so, also representing Ronson’s reporting for The Guardian in the U.K. Ronson himself narrates the audio version, which I enjoy because I feel an author is the best narrator equipped to add appropriate emphasis when telling a story.

Stories covered here include: the mysterious case of a girl who disappeared from a Disney cruise; a look at altruistic organ donation; a look at a mismanaged château in France; and interviews with many other quirky yet fascinating characters, including celebrity psychic Sylvia Browne, and the co-founder of neuro-linguistic programming, Richard Bandler. All in all, it’s a fascinating and engaging compendium.

Through each of these stories, Ronson applies his journalistic style with a direct, yet avant-garde approach that keeps the listener hanging on until the next phrase. Since I’m not a fan of long-form novels or fiction writing in particular, opting for well-crafted bursts instead, I found this most enjoyable.

As for my thoughts on the topics here, I found this collection of true life short stories highly absorbing. It’s definitely worth your time if you’re into This American Life or investigative reporting from a personal angle.

Update: Now with Author Comments

Many thanks to Jon, himself for checking out this post via Twitter:

What do you think? Have you ever heard of any of the stories represented here? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Crossroads, Onward

Dream Catcher by rsmithing

“Dream Catcher”
Click to view more of my photomontages

So what if the world ends
Was it ever real to begin with?
Does anything really exist,
When it’s up to us to decide what “existence” means?

Maybe I’m plowing old ground.
Certainly, someone’s been here before.
I sure know I have.
Because I remember it from a dream.

Where did that memory come from?
An intersection of a thousand other memories.
Who’s to say we only live in the present
When the past is so alive?

Not that we can ever go back.
Onward. That is all.
Not a test, but the end?
Sure. Until next time.

Music accompaniment: Tomahawk, “Desastre Natural”