Monthly Archives: March 2016

Link Party: 3/14-3/25

Pike's Place.

Pike’s Place.

I spent an extra-long weekend in Seattle last week, so I didn’t have much time to read on the Internet / compile a roundup before I left on Thursday. That means that this week you get double the links, which also means double the partying. Here’s what I’ve read lately:

1. Kinfolk and the hipster aesthetic.

2. The Rescued Film Project.

3. How women mapped the upheaval of 19th century America.

4. What is public?

5. I fully support this case for redesigning U.S. currency.

6. A trip to the 500-year-old Jewish ghetto in Venice, one of the world’s oldest.

7. Ta-Nehisi Coates on Nina Simone and the controversy surrounding her recently announced biopic.

8. The legacy of Kate Millett’s “Sexual Politics.”

9. I know nothing about skateboarding, but I thought this profile on Jake Phelps and Thrasher magazine was fascinating.

10. The work of Es Devlin, the world’s preeminent set designer.

And two bonuses, which happen to both be documentaries:

— Regardless of whether or not you’re into fashion, you really, really, really need to watch “Bill Cunningham New York.” It’s a documentary about the street style photographer for the New York Times. It’s on Netflix. Go watch it.

— I’ve always appreciated Nora Ephron’s essays and movies, so it came as no surprise to me that I enjoyed the documentary her son made about her life and career: “Everything Is Copy.” After watching this film, I’m convinced that we are kindred spirits. It’s on HBO. Go watch it.

Have a wonderful weekend.

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Tune Time: March 2016

At any given moment in my day, there’s a very high chance that I’m listening to music: on my phone, in my car or via my record player. (Shocker: I’m listening to music as I’m writing this post.) Music — and talking about music — has been a very big part of my life for as long as I can remember. I figured that if I spend so much of my time listening to tunes that I should document it and talk about it here. While I’m interested in sharing my favorite artists with you, I’m also interested in talking about what makes their work important. Here are a few songs and albums that I’ve been listening to lately.

Alice Coltrane’s “Journey in Satchidananda.”

I found out about Alice Coltrane’s work through an episode of the Dinner Party Download, where Father John Misty picked one of her songs for his hypothetical dinner party playlist. First of all, Alice Coltrane was a complete badass: besides her marriage to the great John Coltrane, she had her own impressive musical career and a deep interest in Eastern spirituality that makes for beautiful music. The six-track album fuses avant-garde jazz with Eastern traditional music. If you are interested at all in jazz, regardless of whether or not you know famous names or compositions, you will probably like this. 

What I love the most about this album is that Coltrane translates feelings through the rhythm and music, not through lyrics. When you listen to an artist like Coltrane, you’re able to appreciate the artistry of music making that in some ways the lyric component can obscure. I’m not listening to the track right now as I type this, but the bass line of “Something About John Coltrane” immediately jumps into my head.  I am instantly transported to the hippest jazz lounge on some dreamy planet, and Life is Good. “Something About John Coltrane” has to be my favorite track, and I’m making a note to explore more of Coltrane, her husband’s, and Thelonius Monk’s work.

Iggy Pop’s “Post-Pop Depression.”

The only exposure I’ve really had to Iggy Pop is “Raw Power” (which is a great album you should listen to), so when I found out he and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age were collaborating on an album, I thought it was pretty cool. But when I watched their performance of “Gardenia” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and found out the drummer for the Arctic Monkeys was also on board, I immediately wanted to hear the rest of the album. I listened to it on NPR’s First Listen before its official release last Friday, and I think it’s a very, very good record. It’s heavy, and loud, and sassy. If you told me he actually recorded it in the 1970s, I would probably believe you. I like “Gardenia” and “American Valhalla” the most.

I know Iggy Pop has been saying that this is going to be his last record, partially because he wants the room to experience music. I was listening to an episode of Sound Exploder where Homme mentioned that there aren’t many people in rock who have the same perspective as the 69-year-old punk legend. And in that light, I think this album is a meditation on the rock scene that grapples with both physical and cultural death. Rap and pop are the music du jour, and Iggy Pop and his contemporaries — if they’re even still alive — don’t have the same cultural clout as they once did. While this album is great, it’s not going to shoot to the top of the Billboard 100. But that’s what makes it a real gem — the mastery makes the case for why this kind of music is still relevant and why we need to keep talking about it. If this is how Iggy Pop chooses to retire from making music, this is a good way to go out.

Mac DeMarco’s “Some Other Ones.”

While I might not seem like the kind of girl who would like the grungy Mac DeMarco, I really like Mac DeMarco — not so much for his lyrics, but for his instrumentals. Again, instrumental albums like “Some Other Ones” are reminders that the beats and melodies are speaking their own languages that we can derive personal meaning or feeling from. When I listen to his music, I feel like I’m living in an endless summer of good vibes — and as someone who spent my adolescence in California, it brings me back to those memories in the best of ways. This record is great background or driving music, and my favorite tracks are “Onion Man,” “Young Coconut” and “Hachiko.” “Some Other Ones” is available to download for free on DeMarco’s Bandcamp.

Kendrick Lamar’s “untitled 06.”

The whole of Kendrick Lamar’s “untitled unmastered.” is the work of a genius, but the track I really, really, really love and need to talk about is “untitled 06.” On the sonic level the bossa nova / funk influence is groovy, and I wish that this song was at least 10 minutes long. I want to zoom in on a few of the lyrics in “untitled 06”:

Look how unique that my mystique is a round of applause
And yours equally valued
You stick out like an alien compared to those around you
And that’s alright because I like it
You and me are the same

I know for sure who you are
You’re the goddess of the odd
I am yours

This is a song about loving another person’s imperfections while also embracing your own flaws, and how that confidence makes you human and real. This is a song about being open and honest about your feelings, and giving people the room to explain theirs. This is a song about how someone you love can know you better than you know yourself. And most importantly, this is a song about how self-love can bring you to a deeper love with someone else. I think this is a beautiful sentiment, and I love that Lamar continuously explores the concept in many ways throughout his work.

What have you been listening to lately? Recommend something to me in the comments.

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Link Party: 3/7-3/11

My front yard is full of clover.

My front yard is full of clover.

Here’s what I read this week:

1. These two professors programmed a computer to analyze the works of authors with and without MFAs, and when they looked at the data their results were Not Good.

2. When you listen to music, you’re never alone.

3. I relished in reading about Iris Apfel’s recent week in Paris. That lady has lived her best life.

4. Manhattan’s first murder mystery, featuring Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. (No, not that murder.)

5. “The Last Question,” by Isaac Asimov.

And a bonus: I have had Rostam Batmanglij’s “Gravity Don’t Pull Me” on repeat for the past two days. The video is gorgeous.

Have a great weekend.

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Link Party: 2/29-3/5

Flowers forever.

Flowers forever.

Here’s what I read this week:

1. This is a fascinating story about the history of the Kate Spade brand and its mythos.

2. Trader Joe‘s rejection of social media.

3. Email newsletters are the new zines.

4. Let’s talk about the Amazon Dash buttons, and what they mean for us as consumers.

5. Bob Dylan’s secret archive sounds wonderful. Time to take a road trip to Oklahoma.

A bonus article: Kanye West’s life, told in his own lyrics.

And the standard bonus: The Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias,” which is a song I’ve always liked and have recently rediscovered one of its lyrics: “Once in awhile you get shown the light / in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”

Have a great weekend.

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Post-Grad Adventures: The Freelancing Life

In the last 10 years, the media landscape has changed so drastically that there’s no way I, at 13 years old, would have grasped what I was getting myself into in deciding that I wanted to be a journalist. In high school and college, I read about newspapers and magazines shrinking their staff numbers and ceasing to produce print versions of daily news, which scared me — but I didn’t really have the prescience as a teenager to know how it would affect my future career. At the same time, I witnessed the birth of online publications, the rise of Twitter as a real-time news source and general social media as the primary way people now get information about the world around them. I think it’s an exciting time to be in media, and even if given the chance, I would not tell my younger self to do anything different.

One of the changes I’ve noticed in the landscape is an increasing dependence on freelance writers to keep publications on pace with digital demand. While it’s been tough for me to find full-time editorial staff jobs because of it, it makes total sense that publications have taken this route based on business conditions. The Internet has made it easy to get information for free, so people spend no or less money on print versions of the same thing. Publications then have less money to spend on full-time permanent staff, and instead pay freelance writers a one-time fee to come up with content. The appeal of being a freelancer is that you can write for multiple publications and build a varied portfolio, instead of being tied down to one place. The downside is that you have to hustle to make a living out of it.

When I graduated from college, I wasn’t that into the idea of freelancing — mostly because I had no idea of how to get started and navigate pitching, and I didn’t really think that I had enough professional experience for people to take me seriously. Part of me also felt, in some stupid way, that it was a compromise to the entire career trajectory I had imagined for myself. I was good enough to join a real publication, damn it. I struggled through the summer trying to find an entry-level position and a hiring manager that realized my potential, and resented that a freelance culture was keeping me from starting my career in media.

The universe, in its wonderful way, snapped me back out of that really dumb viewpoint. While I was still in school, I had built a professional network of people that thought about me when they needed writing work done. My former boss offered a profile for an alumni magazine, and another colleague offered a short profile for a newsletter. My former coworker offered me a writing gig at her media company. My senior-year scholarship donor recommended me to write two profiles and start a technical writing gig at the university he works at. I realized that freelancing wasn’t a hindrance to my career, but an opportunity to make myself a more marketable writer and editor. It’s also a great way to make more professional contacts and open up avenues to even more opportunities. Plus, having different sets of eyes on my work helps me learn how to work with different kinds of editors. And I like that I always have some kind of work to complete, and that I get to do something I don’t do in my day job. So far, I’ve had a really good experience as a freelancer and I hope to keep it going.

My advice to any young journalist is to both build a strong student portfolio and a network of contacts that’ll make it easier for these opportunities to find you initially and help you branch out. If you can, find a day job that doesn’t get too much in the way of your writing and real career goals (or one that might be synergistic). I’m extremely lucky in that I have the privilege to focus more on getting and writing the clips rather than worrying about how much each one pays, and I acknowledge that that privilege affects my viewpoint drastically. But if you’re just out of college and trying to figure yourself and your life out, this approach to freelancing might be viable. In the next few months, I’m hoping to brainstorm story ideas and gain the courage to cold-pitch the publications I love reading, and catapult myself into more gigs.

Do you have any experience freelancing? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

 

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