Video by Wells Baum
“Outside New York, a high place where with one glance you take in the houses where eight million human beings live.”
— Tomas Tranströmer, “Schubertiana”
Images by Wells Baum
“You have to be physically and mentally present to recognize these things and be ready for them, to recognize that something special is happening on the street in front of you. That really is the skill. It’s almost more important than getting the photograph. It’s recognizing the significance of something.”
— Nick Turpin, How Our Changing Cities Are Transforming Street Photography
Our third eye, be it smartphone or standalone point and shoot camera, is only as good as the two we were born with.
In 2011, he designed this cover for me for a compilation I put together to support the earthquake relief efforts in Japan. At the time, he was designing album covers for the likes of Flying Lotus and other underground beat makers on the Brainfeeder label. I’m still so grateful for his contribution.
Doing the work is easier said than done, as author Steven Pressfield can attest. But an hour a day keeps the resistance away. Here’s to the next decade of working on your craft Mike!
The only way to allay doubt is to do. We must face our biggest fears. Perhaps the only thing holding back J.K. Rowling from success was her fear of public speaking — she did it anyway.
Public speaking. I agreed to read live at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in the belief that it would either kill or cure me. https://t.co/I9rohBaHrU
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 7, 2016
It’s most often the exact thing we’re scared of is exactly the thing we should be doing. It takes courage to persist with tension that wants us to simply give up.
Accept doubt for what it is – it’s there to make you practice and force your confidence. It takes some getting used to.
The trick is not to get rid of the doubt but rather play with it, feel its presence and relax into it. The approach is a bit delusional but no more faulty than doubt in the first place.
From the Nigerian archives comes the band Grotto’s lost 1977 gem, At Last, reissued by the Lago-based Odion Livingstone label. Odion Iruoje was a former A&R manager at EMI whom discovered the group and recorded their album.
The opening track ‘Let’s Stay’ is a sublime mix of dreamy keys laced to a head-nodding drum kicks. It’s no surprise his influences range from Flying Lotus, Portishead, to Theo Parrish.
“I’ve never been able to take a picture after a drink. It just doesn’t work. Maybe — I don’t know what it is. It’s not like I’m too drunk to take a picture. I just — the whole idea of it just goes away after one or two drinks.”
— William Eggleston, the godfather of color photography
John Coltrane and Einstein shared interests in mathematical principles. In response to the Coltrane doctrine (image below), Thelonious Monk replied: “All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”
+ Now that ⚾ is back, here’s a little-known fact on how the game influenced jazz music.
“I never sleep because sleep is the cousin of death,” spits Nas in his Illmatic track ‘N.Y. State of Mind.’ What he may have overlooked is that sleep, and indeed rest can make you even more productive. It’s a canard to think that all successful people do is just work. Charles Darwin and Ernest Hemingway were slackers.
Somewhere upon the way of evolution, humans lucked out. We developed language. We had hands that allowed us to manipulate our environment. Says American neuroscientist Christof Koch, “human civilization is all about tools, whether it’s a little stone, an arrow, a bomb, or a computer.”
She makes dumplings by day and spins records by night. Check out 82-year-old Japanese woman DJ Dumpling. Watch the video.
Poll: What’s your jukebox preference: iTunes or Spotify?
Scientists have shown again and again that the mind, like a piece of software, is elastic. We are the sum of a hundred billion neurons that strengthen through knowledge and experience. Our skull evolves within a gooey flesh.
But there has to be a cap on human acuity, surely. At some point, exponents can’t go any further. We can’t get any smarter, nor pinpoint the largest number which is infinity and beyond. Even “Moore’s Law peters out, “as microchip components reach the atomic scale and conventional lithography falters,” says computer scientist Scott Aaronson.
You’re either left brained or right. You’re either normal or mental. Rather, it’s a continuum of both. The stigma that goes along with differentness makes you an outsider, yet these ‘weirdos’ are exactly the ones crazy enough to change the world. Said the American mathematician John Nash: “I wouldn’t have had good scientific ideas if I had thought more normally.”
As Physician Dr. Gabor Mate explains in his interview, maybe we should make more space for those different to express themselves rather than hide in anguish.
“Go out into the streets of Paris and pick out a cab driver. He will look to you very much like every other cab driver. But study him until you can describe him so that he is seen in your description to be an individual, different from every other cab driver in the world.” — De Maupassant
+ Speaking of cars, “Americans are used to cars the way that fish are used to water.” Ezra Klein explains why we should take a cue from Barcelona.
STUFF is a five piece instrumental band from Antwerp, Belgium. ‘Strata’ is the first track from the band’s second album old dreams new planets due out April 28th.
The song vacillates from broken jazz before weaving into a funky, electronic jungle. Says the quintet’s SoundCloud page, “it makes you doubt whether you’re at a rave or at a fusion jazz concert in some late 80’s basement.”
Noga Erez is an electronic music producer from Tel Aviv. ‘Off the Radar’ is one of the lead singles from her debut album of the same name.
Noga’s electro-pop vibes will most certainly remind you of MIA’s adventurism. Says the artist, “have this idea of giving people moments of thought and inspiration, and at the same time offering escapism and fun.”
With jungle nods to LTJ Bukem comes Mysterious of a Blunt, presumably an alias of Berlin-based techno producer Orson Wells.
Here’s how he describes his music making process in an interview with EdHid:
“It’s somehow a meditative process immersing yourself in a basic loop and trying to add selectively more elements based on your experiences you have collected. I didn’t have a mentor or did a programming study. Everything I do is the result of an autodidactic approach.”
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”
— Thelonious Monk
A “Coltrane Circle” by John Coltrane, suggesting that the jazz musician and Einstein shared interests in mathematical principles.
“I never sleep because sleep is the cousin of death,” spits Nas in his Illmatic track ‘N.Y. State of Mind.’
What he may have overlooked is that sleep, and indeed rest can make you even more productive.
It’s a canard to think that all successful people do is just work. It’s more complicated than that. Scientists Charles Darwin and writer Ernest Hemingway excelled at relaxing. They put in a few deliberate hours of effortful work and just as equally, took their foot off the gas to do other stuff: socialize, spend time with family, walk. They were wise slackers.
24/7 connectivity exacerbates our always work-leisure problem. Like a doctor, we make ourselves available to everything from the trite to the important, treating work and freedom as continuous instead of mutually exclusive.
Integrating task and play backfires. Availability is a game of neediness, we want to show people what we’re up to but then get sucked into the abyss of distraction. We are addicted to the endless stream impressions to alleviate the anxiety in our heads.
What if our productivity depends on the ability to chill out? What if we could practice more deliberately so we could slow down afterward. The work is vital; to master it, we need to free the mind from labor’s oppressive demands.
“I’ve got a theory that what you hear influences – maybe even determines – what you see.” – Paul Theroux
“The earth laughs in flowers.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
“It’s such an American thing that nothing is real until it’s on television.” – Tom Nichols
It doesn’t matter what books we write or discoveries we make. People only remember us if we appear on TV. In Tom Nichols’ case, succeeding on on Jeopardy superseded his professional accolades as a published author, foreign advisor, and professor at Naval War College.
Television is magic. It informs large audiences that we exist. That’s where talents like Will Smith established their brand. But TV also generates the antithesis: it makes stupid people famous.
The Kardashians pollute the news with their meaninglessness. The President too is a product of the mass marketing machine that is TV. The tube amplifies our status, but it rarely legitimizes the importance of work. Just ask Professor Robert Kelly whose video will forever be remembered as the poster parent for those who work from home with kids. And yes, online is an extension of TV, including YouTube, SnapChat, and Facebook Live. The future of storytelling is pervasive and persuasive video.
Like a social media following, appearing on TV lends instant credibility. Fame is forever tied to visual media. What’s universally more important though is what we build with our bare hands off-screen.
Sometimes the path to discovery begins with a roadblock.
We end up going a different direction because our daily route is under construction.
Suddenly, that simple redirection refocuses our attention. Our surroundings appear new again. We’re woke.
It doesn’t take much to release the shackles of inattention and break free of our conscious automaton.
The second we think we’ve explored everything is also the moment our environment expands into more depth.
Routine is just a gesture to a ‘directed’ pathway that is the least straightforward.
The roads we walk are as boundless as the desert.