What a year, what a year of music. There were drone attacks, midnight surprise drops, the 1990s, earthquakes, tsunamis, low-flying panic attacks. Although I have to say, and this may be apparent by the fact that it's going up on December 30, this year has been among the least prepared I’ve felt going into a best of music list. There was a lot of music I liked a ton for sure, but there was also a lot out there I feel like I didn’t get to. Maybe a sign of busyness, or the slow-motion trainwreck that the year was. I felt more distracted from art in musical form than in other years. (I swear I'm going to get back to my podcast)Read More
Arts & Culture
The eye is about the size of a quarter, resting gently in Kurt Jahrling’s hand as he adds faint washes of yellow and blue to the white surface. The ocularist has already laid tiny, reddish-pink threads of silk over the surface to mimic the curves of blood vessels, tiny rivers winding from either corner toward the iris. A hazel centerpiece surrounds a black dot meant to mimic the pupil; as the finishing touch, he adds the arcus, a grey ring that hugs the outer edge of some aging irises.
The result is an astoundingly close approximation of the missing right eye of a 63-year-old Bostonian named Kevin. Kevin had his eye surgically removed eight months prior. Today, he’ll wear this tiny piece of acrylic home: an illusion, a practical placeholder, and a little piece of art.
Read the full article at The Atlantic.
Image: Victor Ruiz Garcia / Reuters
Originally published at Mental Floss on Christmas morning 2015. Of the many curious holiday traditions (figgy pudding? wassailing?), one of the oddest has to be spraying down small trees with a mixture of adhesive and cellulose fibers to satisfy our longing for a white Christmas.
That’s what’s happening when you adorn a tree with artificial snow, otherwise known as flocking. And yet, when decorated and lit up, there’s something beautiful and warmly nostalgic about a well-flocked Christmas tree. Here’s how professionals manufacture this Christmas miracle.Read More
I love year end lists. Love reading them, love writing them. Something about listing music in particular captures the spirit of the year in a bottle. So here's mine. I don’t have many thematic insights this year, except the fact that in some years my favorite artists let me down and this was not one of those years. I think Calexico, Protomartyr, and Sleater-Kinney of all bands, put out records at the top of their body of work. And some surprises from bands like Jamie XX and Grimes, who I was only a little into before but blew me away this year. And of course, all of the runners up, mostly because I just haven't had a chance to listen enough—Titus Andronicus, Beach Slang, Eskimeaux, a Mount Eerie record I somehow completely missed. So without further ado.Read More
Originally published on Blue Ant, August 31, 2015.
Victorian English literature is filled with angst about what chaos lies behind proper and unassuming exteriors. In Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Marlow says Brussels always reminds him of a “whited sepulchre,” a biblical reference to hypocrisy by which things “appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”
William Gibson’s London puts a psychedelic twist on this notion, with all manner of sinister weirdness lying in wait behind plain facades. This is most true in Cabinet, the hotel and private club that serves as home base for our heroes in Zero History.
Cabinet is “(h)alf the vertical mass of an eighteenth-century townhouse, one whose facade reminded her of the face of someone starting to fall asleep on the subway,” with the interior decor “ragingly, batshit insane.”Read More
Originally published at Boston Magazine online, September 3, 2015. Rosie’s Place, the first women’s shelter in the United States, recently awarded Roslindale social worker Theresa Okokon the Kip Tiernan Social Justice Fellowship—a $40,000 grant. Through the grant, Okokon created LEGIT.yoga, a new program that will bring yoga classes to local shelters.
Legit will use a method called trauma-sensitive yoga, which uses the practice to help people deal with traumatic stress.Read More
Originally published on Mental_Floss, Dec. 24, 2014. For a short window in the 1960s, aluminum Christmas trees gleamed in living rooms nationwide—but this glorious, glittering reign would be all too brief. Within the decade, they were relegated to the curb as aesthetic tastes shifted. But nostalgia has fueled an aluminum tree renaissance in recent years. Here's a brief history.Read More
I was kind of down on 2013 in general when I did a roundup last year, but I have to say that 2014 is the best year for music I can remember, since maybe 2007. Which makes me think maybe there’s some kind of math thing that creates a surge of great music every seven years, although more likely it means I have some kind of brain disorder. But the striking thing about 2014 is how deep the bench was. There were some standouts, but the list of great music that I liked was really long, and consistent. And there was so much I just never got to. I have a long list of music to catch up on and I’m finding all kinds of great stuff buried in others people's lists.Read More
In an otherwise unremarkable room at MIT, the published history of science fiction overflows. | Originally published in The Magazine, June 19, 2014.
By Tate Williams
Decades before Guy Consolmagno had an asteroid named after him in honor of his contributions to planetary science, he was a directionless history major at Boston College. Then he saw what MIT was keeping in a room of the student center. He knew he had to transfer.
It wasn’t MIT’s research on meteoroids and asteroids, or its contributions to NASA lunar missions, or even the early stages of what would become the Internet, though all of this was happening on the Cambridge campus around 1970. Rather, it was a bunch of novels. Thousands and thousands of science fiction novels.Read More
Originally published at Curbed on June 18, 2014.
Due to plummeting enrollment and a troubled district, vacant school buildings—heck, just vacant buildings—are none too rare in Detroit. After 19 years of abandonment, the Nellie Leland School, however, is no longer vacant—it, as abandoned urban buildings are want to do, is back in session as condos. When it first opened in 1919, vacancy was far from anybody's mind; in fact, demand was so high that it had a waiting list for admittance, and two years after opening had to build an expansion that more than tripled its enrollment. The reason Leland was such hot property? It has little to do with the economy, and everything to do with the fact that it was the first opportunity most local students with disabilities had for a public education.Read More