“…since 2017, she has made it her mission to revive the practice of memento mori, a Latin phrase meaning ‘Remember your death.’ The concept is to intentionally think about your own death every day, as a means of appreciating the present and focusing on the future. It can seem radical in an era in which death — until very recently — has become easy to ignore.”
“Washington pounced for five runs in the first inning against Rays “opener” left-hander Jonny Venters to cruise to an 11-2 victory Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park. Anthony Rendon, who turned 28 on Wednesday, collected four hits, and Michael A. Taylor had three as they drove in three runs apiece. Rookie Juan Soto reached base three times and scored a pair of runs.”
True Taxi Tales by Quentin Heyne is really something. A 1963 memoir of gimlet-eyed ancedotes from a long-time D.C. cab driver. Samples:
A truck I passed on Constitution Avenue carried a banner on the side: “Buy a record. Help stamp out TV.” Not bad.
A real unrealistic sight is to see the pigeons congregating and roosting on the statue of General Scott at Scott Circle. The general is astride his charger and is in command of 14th Street plus Massachusetts Avenue until the pigeons take command of him, roosting on every inch of him and his horse’s body.
I delivered a passenger to one of our leading universities, and on the way out of the grounds, I said to the policeman on duty at the gate: “Well, what do you know worth talking about?” He replied: “Nothing.” I said: “What, nothing? With the vast stores of knowledge in those buildings?” He gave me: “All I see around here is a bunch of idiots.” We both chuckled at this.
A lady got out at 23rd and M and headed for U.S. News and World Report building. Before I could get rolling, she came back to open the cab door and said: “I am looking for my umbrella, don’t see it in your cab, I must have left it somewhere.” I told her: “Lady, look at your left arm, there is an umbrella strapped there.”
I know there are poems other than love poems. I really do. But I also know, if I’m honest with myself, that I will always try to read every poem as a love poem, turning it upside down and sideways to see if there is some way the light hits it that would show it to be about how people love each other or fail to do so, that would seem to make it a whisper from just one person to just one other, something cut out from the bottom of a heart and sealed in a box and mailed to a single address. A lot of poems are about love even when they don’t seem to be and even, or especially, when they are full of rage, or full of the larger bleakness of the world.
“City life is troubling in the same way the rest of life is troubling; it presents you with people who have a real moral claim on you, with whom you are linked by various dependencies, and then leaves you to navigate these things on your own.”
Video of actor and alum David Costabile giving my high school’s Father-Son Breakfast talk back in 2016, and hearing his love for our shared late Latin teacher Doc Warman, whose influence, in retrospect, is happily visible in Costabile’s Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul character.
Also related to Gonzaga, the story of a man whom many of us there in the ’90s were lucky to meet, Joseph “Shabaka” Brown.
He belongs to an exclusive club, one of 138 citizens since 1973 who were convicted of capital murder, but after years and years of caged torment on death row were freed on grounds of innocence or dropped charges.
I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here, our country moving closer to its own truth and dread, its own ways of making people disappear.
For the first time at least since the pandemic began, but probably several months prior, I finished an issue of Poetry. Not proud of this. But things are what they are. Reading felt good. Making my way from one end to the other felt good. The evenings after work, dinner and toddler bedtime have been too short and tired. Maybe sleep has been better recently? Or to-do lists are just more done? I was interested to see how the magazine had changed since its summer replacement of leadership. And was profoundly impressed. The December issue is one alive and awake and urgent.
In the back of the issue, one learns about the annual awarding of a large prize for young poets in the United States. “Poems by many of the fellows and finalists in this issue and more will be published in January.” For a magazine that often notes from the jump when an issue will be special or thematic, to wait in offering the explanation is a subtly important measure.
Yes, the issue is special, thematic to youth. But to delay the declaration gives a reader the impression of normalcy, that the voices are simply the voices of the present. On every page, subsequently, powerfully, necessarily, those voices demand the busting of normalization, which is a wonderful way for normalcy to be.
My yearly update on baby names. Patrick continues its historic free-fall, dropping 17 spots in 2019 to the 206th among boys. Crossing the 200 line! The Mendoza line, but in reverse, but still bad.
Just to refresh you on the trend line:
Not sure when they did this, but I’ve noticed the Social Security Administration has added raw birth counts: 1,870 Patricks born in 2019. Bigger than a 9:30 Club, smaller than The Anthem. Meanwhile, a whole Capital One Arena of Liams led the list: 20.502.
Names more popular than Patrick in 2019 included Oscar, Messiah, Adriel, Thiago, and Legend. Cooper continued to stay strong as well, at spot 80.
Meanwhile, looking ahead, Patrick also did not make Nameberry’s list of 2020 biggest-viewership-increase boy names. The company sees such searches as a leading indicator, and why not. Cash and Ash make the list, along with Acacius.
According to New York Times reporting, hopeful names, quickly picked names, mythological names and family names are rising, trend-wise. For any parent-to-be in need of a good name fast, I have a suggestion for you.
Had no idea until today that the MyEyeDr. where I have my glasses done was once home to a restaurant that received a documentary that received an Oscar nomination. Fine Food, Fine Pastries, Open 6 to 9 came out 30 years ago, but given how the place itself was a throwback, feels far older. Watch it here. It’s only half an hour, and if any part of your life is on Capitol Hill, it’s impossible to pause.
The recent essay “What Screens Can’t Show” is about seeing the concentration camp-related work of German painter Gerhard Richter online versus in-person. The essay focuses on the particular, incredibly powerful pieces of art. But the extremity of the case also explains well an element of what’s missing in all of life right now.
“The internet has made pandemic life much easier for those who can use it for work and school, or just to stay in touch with loved ones. But something is always lost in the translation to a screen. A deep encounter with art becomes possible only when viewer and object share the same space. Scrolling through digital versions of art is what [German philosopher Walter] Benjamin called an ‘absent-minded’ activity, and we need to be as present as possible when we look at paintings like Richter’s, paintings that attempt to represent the presence of suffering itself.”