“Happy birthday! Love, your favorite and only sister.” The closest most of us probably come to any handwritten confidence these days is signing a birthday card. Despite all the blank space inside enveloping a pithy sentiment, I don’t know many people who actually fill it up. Outside of Hallmark, parents don’t describe line by line how baby Tony tried to walk for the first time and biffed it on the coffee table. The photos are on Facebook. Friends don’t rehash last week’s party through long wine-stained scrawls. The rose got drank, and it was live tweeted.
Alone in a Crowd first looked at the piling on of social media and how that rapid but detached pace can contribute to loneliness. The responsibility falls heavier on us to reach below the harping statuses and Tweets to sustain meaningful connections with people. Malcolm Jones, a writer at Newsweek, observed, “The problem is not that there is not enough information about what we think or how we live. The problem is sifting through that sea of data. The most common complaint of our time is that we are overwhelmed by information, unmediated and unstoppable.”
For better or for worse, digitization will only become further integrated into our day-to-day life, so how can we embrace both the convenience and keep a grasp on mindfulness? How do we slow down? One reader, Naomi, tried something most of us probably haven’t done since grade school: pen pals. Jones also writes in Newsweek that “…if you do [write letters] enough, you begin to put your essential self on paper whether you mean to or not. No other form of communication yet invented seems to encourage or support that revelatory intimacy.” Below, Naomi describes why she decided to try pen palling and what she’s experienced as a 20-something exchanging letters around the globe.
Written by Amara Hartman Photography by Lindsey Miller
Roxane Gay made a lasting mark on the essay scene with 2014s Bad Feminist, a New York Times best seller. Readers were sat down and schooled on Gay’s fair-minded but specific and entreating observations about womanhood and pop culture.
Roxane Gay. Image via The Star Tribune.
Image via Mother Jones.
Her recent memoir, Hunger, deals rawly with her relationship with food and body image. In June, she came to Magers & Quinn Booksellers in Minneapolis to talk about the book. The space was packed–anyone who hadn’t been there at 7PM sharp had no choice but to pile between the looming aisles and eavesdrop. “I curse like a sailor,” she aplombed as we arrived. That candor continued throughout the hour-long sitting as she fielded questions on her writing process and her books. Commentary and anecdotes about women in publishing, of color and queer representation, and society rounded out the well of introspection she draws from.
Wonder Woman correctly predicts the novel existence of female protagonist is beyond enough to satisfy female audiences.
Let me first say, I came out of this film laughing and rolling my eyes a little, having went in with little expectations and seen basically exactly what I would expect to see from Hollywood. I was much too unsurprised to be disappointed or mad. So I would not be writing this review if not for my dawning, incredulous realization of the outpouring of starry-eyed wonder at this flick.
People. Slow. Your. Roll.
If you enjoy the film, great. I’m not trying to take that away from you. If you appreciate the historic milestone of a female director in a blockbuster superhero movie breaking all financial success expectations–you’re right, great.
But to wildly herald Wonder Woman as some sort of catch all “answer to feminism” does such incredible violence to the filmmakers–women and men–who have actually striven to put powerful, authentic characterizations of femaleness on the screen and to build stories around them in unafraid ways. Wonder Woman is a textbook example of how far Hollywood will go to preserve male identification on screen. Everything “feminist” about this film is apparent in the most basic elements of the plot itself–a powerful woman exists and tries to save the world. Go any deeper, and the cinematic execution of the piece clearly & immediately reveals the familiar, deep maleness of the system that made it and how terrified they are to touch this kind of story.
Written by Amara Hartman. Part 1 of 2. Read part 2 here.
There are more ways than ever to connect with each other. It’s hard to imagine an era when people awaited the arrival of their correspondence strapped in saddle bags. Longhand letter writing is a charm of a bygone time, and any small sect of people who still try to keep it alive appreciate it for its purity. There aren’t any of the trappings of modern communication. No visible friend counts, gifs, or emojis. Nothing flashy driving the want to stay in touch except suspense and imagination. Even email’s been leveled to one-liners or co-opted by instant messengers like G-chat and Skype. Blogs are popularized by purveyors of trends who want to teach you a lifestyle: how to wrap an infinity scarf or create a refreshing grapefruit spritzer.
And in the middle of it all stands the behemoth social media. Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat have all morphed from handy tools to actual propellants of our culture. Tweets are regularly featured in the news. Emojis stand in for text within text. We get what the peach and eggplant mean–a far cry from actually having to woo someone into liking you in the first place, much less into your pants.
With this insane glut, like Augustus Gloop stuffing chocolate in his face, one of the last things anyone would describe an average American as is lonely. It’s a natural conclusion that the more interactions you have, the less you’re alone. In a society of likes, followers, and subscribers, it’s hard to imagine anyone feeling stranded in a hollow abyss of loneliness.
I’m baacckk! And what better day than today to be here? 1) It’s gorgeous outside ☀️, and 2) the leader of the free world just keeps giving us reasons to regret being cognizant. But since we can’t do anything about that, for at least one day, let’s just pretend he doesn’t exist and focus on some goodness! There’s plenty of it.
BECK. His tour is stopping in Minneapolis August 17 for the first time in 9 years! Of course I went ham on Etix and refreshed for a half hour until 10AM in case anything happened without me knowing and snagged tickets. And that just reminded me of this homage he orchestrated, covering David Bowie’s Sound and Vision. It fills my soul with joy, literally, almost to tears. The menagerie of vocalists and instrumentalists is too much. Swelling, hopeful, joyful.
Anu and her family were followed by the BBC as it reported on funding for kids who need prosthetic limbs to pursue sports. NPR reports, “The National Health Service got a grant of some $2 million for that effort after last summer’s Paralympics, but the money was split between research efforts and the “active limbs” program, and further funding is in doubt.” To find out more or donate here in the U.S., check out Limbs for Life.
For some of you, this won’t mean squat because you were ahead of the game. For us here in Minnesota? FINALLY. Our Sunday liquor ban has been lifted, and I look forward to being able to buy whatever my heart desires whenever I want to all day Sunday.
Has the world has caught up to Little Dragon? Not this time. Combining the electro-pop-whatever Little Dragon has going on and marrying a little R&B in “Season High” makes for a weird, inviting adventure. Like being piqued with arousal with a lover, you’re not sure what comes next, but you know you’re on the cusp of something momentous.
The whole of “Season High” came off both abrasively fragile and dancey. Starting with “Celebrate,” it reminds us of 2010’s Foster the People in the very first seconds of the song. Eventually, the song unfolds into a reminiscent complement to Prince or Michael Jackson. It’s got pops and head nods galore–whispering while the beat drops, Little Dragon keeps the disco alive.