31 December 2012

The History of Objects, part II

stick on a black sand beach in south Iceland
Proust had his madeleine. Others have shells, stones, fossils. I've been thinking more about the last post. The history of objects. What they evoke.  How we are transported by an object to some other time. Here's a thought from French photographer William Klein about the idea. His object was a sheet of photographic contacts:

"You look at a sheet of contacts, you look a little contact...and it brings back all the memories possible, you know? You remember whether it was raining or whether you were tired, whether you were full of beans or ready to walk another 5 miles.

A contact photo reminding him that he was full of beans. I love that.  There's a feeling associated with a photograph or a song or an object that evokes the exact senses you had at the time when its meaning was initially established. I remember the first time I ate a banana sandwich and liked it.  It was after a high school soccer game in LaGrange, Georgia. Now, banana sandwiches make me think of grass-stains and shin-guards.

28 December 2012

The Memory of Places

Kiruna, Sweden
I've done a lot of moving the in the past five years. Some of my recent homes include: a 7th floor apartment in Paris, where I'd climb onto the roof with friends and enjoy a bottle of wine while gazing upon a sea of rooftops; a tall blue house on Munjoy Hill in Portland, Maine, just a half a block from the Atlantic Ocean; an apartment in St. Elmo, a neighborhood in Chattanooga at the base of Lookout Mountain, where the Confederate troops were defeated by the Union army in the fall of 1863; a basement room in Iceland off Laugavegur, Reykjavík's long main street - I remember going to sleep at midnight there and it still being sunny outside due to the bright Arctic summer.

22 December 2012

Scenes from Christmas in Sharpsburg

Mom's turkey feather wreath

Grandad calls this rose bush outside his house the "Fried Egg Bush."

Shooting mistletoe with grandad.

Inspecting a log full of oyster mushrooms beside the creek. They were too soggy to eat this time.

Merry Christmas!

16 December 2012

On a Teacher's Salary

I recently spent several days in western North Dakota making radio and multimedia stories for  Black Gold Boom, a series of radio stories documenting people and places impacted by the oil boom (fracking). The stories air on Prairie Public Radio, North Dakota's public radio network (the last story I did also aired on Marketplace!). This next story (listen below) is about teachers and airs in North Dakota this week.

Finding a place to live in oil country is almost a joke. Housing is scarce. Prices are through the roof. Oilfield workers might be able to afford the $2000/month commonly required to rent apartment in rural North Dakota, but for schoolteachers, finding an adequate home without going broke is a challenge. This story follows three schoolteachers in Stanley, North Dakota whose workplace gone above and beyond to find them a place to live.

13 December 2012

Alabama Shakes - Brittany Howard

I've always been fascinated by the places people appear to go to when they're playing music. Some people disappear into their own little worlds. Some people find have to make an effort to connect to their audience. Some people just take the song and own it. And I love that. A song is a feeling and a place, and the best singers and musicians are loyal to the song before anything else. They escape into the music, even before a huge audience. And that's why I love this video, aside from the fact that it's a song I completely dig.

Also,  how awesome is it that she rocks the song without being sex symbol?  She's wearing a plain T-shirt and black pants and just blows the world away. No makeup, no sexy get-up. Not that those things are bad, but I love that she feels comfortable and confident enough to perform in her own style and buck the norm of female singers being decked out in fashionable clothing and makeup.

Go, Brittany!

Have you seen this video before? What do you think?

10 December 2012

Christmas greenery

Oriental bittersweet my brother gathered for me in Sewanee, TN.
  I love bringing the outside inside. Maybe it's because I grew up in the country, maybe it's because my mom is an expert at it, or maybe I just find it a bit more serene to have green things around. Throughout the year there are always flowers or grasses or branches sticking out of some old bottle on a tabletop or windowpane in this house. So Christmas, for me, is the ultimate excuse to have even more of it around. Here are some of the things that I've been making and the greenery that inspires it.

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