Ferguson: Stories you might have missed.

I was cleaning my bathroom this morning when the Bob Dylan song “Hurricane” came on shuffle. It tells the story of Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, a black boxer who was wrongly convicted of a triple homicide on minimal evidence in 1966. My jaw dropped at this line, written forty-some years ago: “If you’re black you might as well not show up on the street / ‘Less you wanna draw the heat”

A line of roses down the street where Michael Brown was shot (x)

Carter’s story isn’t the same as those we’ve heard recently, but it still sounds frighteningly plausible. And it shows just how strongly we have embedded racism into our judicial system.

I’m immensely thankful for the fact that Ferguson has gotten the coverage it deserves. Sure, it may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, but it has brought a platform to an issue that has been bubbling for months, if not decades.

While I am by no means an expert on the topic, I’ve been following developments in Ferguson closely for the past few months. These are just some of the stories I found particularly important or moving. Please share more if you have them.

  • For an overview of the situation in Ferguson, this New York Times article is worth reading. Because in the midst of rumors and strong opinions coming from all directions, it is important to understand WHY decisions have been made before we form our own opinions. This NPR news article shows and examines the documents used by the grand jury to make their decision.
  • Most importantly of all, the Brown family statement after the grand jury decision:
Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 5.19.45 PM

The Brown family statement following the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson

  • On Being a Black Male, Six Feet Four Inches Tall, in America in 2014 – in which comedian W. Kamau Bell chronicles the experience of buying an ice cream late at night from a convenience store when you’re a 6’4″ black man. It’s funny, but it’s honest, and it’s worth reading if you’re anything like me (5’10” young girl with a button nose, harmless by definition)

“The fact is that being a B.B.M. has consequences. Being a B.B.M. is why I smile quickly. It’s why I don’t usually stand to my full height. I slouch and bend. When acquaintances haven’t seen me for awhile, I often hear, “I forgot how tall you are!” I know you did. It’s because I’m trying to make you forget. This is what being black in America has done to me, to others like me, and in some sense, even to you. It’s not that I think that I will be killed by a police officer. It’s just that if I am, it won’t be a surprise.”

  • This speech by Run the Jewels’ Killer Mike, at a show in St. Louis on the night of the decision.
  • The most recent movie in the Hunger Games series involves Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and the Districts fighting against the Capitol (a brainwashed city of power and excess that exploits the poor districts for food and labor). At one point in the movie, Katniss visits a makeshift hospital filled to the brim with dying people. As she leaves, the Capitol sets the hospital and the rest of the remaining district on fire, aiming to drive Katniss into hiding and turn the people against her. Instead of backing down, she responds, “If we burn, you burn with us!”

    Someone wrote that quote on a wall in Ferguson:

  • Last but most definitely not least, it is so important to recognize the other stories of police brutality happening all across the country. In early October, a young boy took this video from the back of his mother’s car as the passenger side window was smashed and his mother’s boyfriend, Jamal Jones, was pulled from the car and tased. The car was stopped because the family wasn’t wearing seat belts, because they were on the way to the hospital to visit a severely ill family member. You can hear the children screaming in the backseat when the glass is broken and crying as Jones is tased and detained. It’s disturbing and heartbreaking. On November 22nd, 12 year old Tamir Rice was shot and killed within TWO SECONDS of the police being on scene. This week, artist Shirin Barghi created this moving set of minimalist pictures showcasing the last words of 10 victims of police brutality.

It’s hard to know where to start with a conversation as big and complicated as this one. It all comes down to power and fear and cultural stigmas and pressure. The police and the grand jury are not necessarily the bad guys. While they need to take responsibility for their actions, all of us should be held accountable. Injustice needs to be recognized when it occurs, so that we can learn from our mistakes and change.

If you have any stories or links you’d like to add, please share them in the comments.

Mad Love: reviewing Taylor Swift’s new album, ‘1989’


Oh, it’s GOOD.

If “1989” goes platinum (which, in the world of Spotify and Pandora, no album has done this year), Taylor will be the first person in history to have three consecutive albums sell over one million copies. Woah.

I’ve been a die-hard Swift fan for years (there are photographs hidden in some corner of the internet of me wearing a homemade “Swifties since ‘o7” glitter t-shirt while taking pictures at the guardrails with some of her band members), which means I’ve heard it all: that she’s a clingy boy-crazy brat, that her lyrics are dumb or simplistic, that she’s only a pop fluke, etc etc etc.

There are a lot of counters to these arguments, but the most effective is plain and simple: her work.

Now she lets us in again with “1989,” named and inspired sonically by the year she was born, but cataloguing her life 2012-2014: her newfound friendship with Lena Dunham and other powerful women in the entertainment industry; her move to New York City; her collaboration and friendship with Jack Antonoff; her relationship with Harry Styles; her presence in the media, both in rumors and everyday paparazzi photoshoots.

The result is not shallow or guarded. She refines her greatest strength: creating diaristic tunes that translate feeling. She avoids the convoluted lyrics that most pop/indie bands write in an effort to seem deep or artsy. Instead, her lyrics are simple and easy to memorize, meant for screaming out car windows or scrawling in notebooks. Some of the most biting lyrics (“It’s all fun and games until somebody loses their mind”; “now I think I’m finally clean”; “we all show off scarlet letters, trust me mine is better”; “I know places we can hide”) seem simple, but her cadence and production make them hit home.

“1989” marks Swift’s first official venture into the world of pop, and she lets loose in terms of style and production. There’s the jaded crooning of Lana Del Rey (“Wildest Dreams”); rousing echoed choruses of Lorde (“New Romantics,” “Blank Space”); hollow drum beats and samples of Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff (who co-write/produced several tracks); the groove of Daft Punk (“Style”); Avril Lavigne (“Shake it Off,” “Bad Blood”) and Rihanna (see “Wonderland” for some “Umbrella” flashbacks, AY AY AY); classic musings on love and loss à la Joni Mitchell; Enya (maybe I’m crazy, but I hear it in “This Love” and “Blank Space”); Robyn; Fine Young Cannibals (the snare on “I Wish You Would” was inspired by FYC’s “She Drives Me Crazy”); and, of course, 80s new wave (hollow drums of Blondie, Talking Heads’ “Slippery People”).

Perhaps surprisingly, what we find is not a jumbled mess over-saturated by influence; the result is unmistakably current, unmistakably Taylor. She combines all her influences to make what SHOULD sound familiar, what we can’t imagine not having once we’ve heard it. In doing so, she sets the standard for her contemporaries, without verses by Pitbull or constant references to money and fame.

“1989” is Taylor Swift finally embracing her identity (sooooo 80s) and dancing like no one is watching. Each song has its own edge, but it flows from one to the next without hesitation, which makes listening on shuffle feel almost sacrilegious. And every song is good enough to be a single.

If any album will go platinum, it’s this one.

TLDR: I LOVE TAYLOR SWIFT. If you want to be relevant in any entertainment/music/cultural conversation in the next year and beyond: here’s your chance.

Twitter, ratios, and other fun things

Do you ever just disappear from the internet?

I was (being a self-absorbed arse and) looking through my own Twitter when I realized that I hadn’t tweeted in a week, and that my last blog post was from almost a month ago. My first thought was: How is that possible? I’ve checked Twitter 20 times in the past ten minutes.

Apparently, despite the amount of time I spend on the internet/social media, I hardly ever post anything. This is not exactly a surprise to me; I know that I tend to disappear. You would think that this means I have a life and am hardly on the internet, but au contraire, my friends. If we’re going to get mathematical, I’d say my ratio of Twitter-posts to visits-to-Twitter is probably 1:1000. Same goes for instagram/facebook/tumblr/wordpress/etc.

I’m not really sure why this is. It’s not for lack of opinion or that I don’t have anything to say, but I sort of like being sparse in my internet presence.

Ezra Koenig will go weeks without posting on Twitter, or longer on his Instagram, but every post is absolute gold. Harry Styles likes to post cryptic philosophical gems from time to time, I guess to prove that he’s deep. (HMU if you want to have an in-depth convo about Harry Styles’ twitter, I have a lot to say.) People like Bill Werde and Ben Rector, on the other hand, tweet at least once a day, yet I never find them irritating or repetitive. Same goes for most of my friends.

I guess we just have to choose our style and own it?

P.S. I’ve been guesting this week on the Plasma Dolphin instagram, if you actually want to see my unedited stream of consciousness in picture form:

(also, Instaetiquette Q: am I allowed to like posts I made on one account with a different account? Or is that equally as pathetic as liking your own photo? Food for thought.)  

memories (cleaning my room)

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

cozy kitty snuggles

I spent most of Tuesday organizing my clothes into piles: school, home, donate, trash. Part of what I find so frightening about donating/throwing away clothes that I know I’ll never wear again is the fact that I might completely forget their existence. Even though most of these make me cringe, I was (am) a cringe-worthy adolescent, and I don’t want to forget it.

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

my vest phase; a hat identical to one Hilary duff wore in 2004, that I often wore in my room but that never actually left the house; a felt scarf I made; various graphic tshirts – from the orthodontist, from my first trip to London, from my first concert

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

meee and the $3 PacSun shirt I bought in two colors last week and have been wearing in rotation ever since

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

i’ll probably wear this again

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

shirt I got from a REAL LIVE BOY at a summer camp dance in middle school; the shirt I made for my Dwight Schrute halloween costume in 2009; my first Taylor Swift shirt

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

my beloved one piece; sweater I wore for three months before realizing it was a “H&MMAMA” maternity shirt; scarf I bought at a street vendor the first time I went to New York City, which I thought was a very “New York” thing to do (It was not.)

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

Obligatory gel CD case from my grandma, hits from the 2003 Kids Choice awards

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

the package my elementary school gave us after we watched “THE video” and had “the talk” in fifth grade, which I promptly hid in my closet; also, the microphone to my boom box

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

my walkie-talkies; truth or dare cards; a small fragment of my childhood obsession with bead creatures; a Hello Kitty mirror; a hacky sack; my bedtime reading light; a guitar pin that I won at my first recital; Harry Potter computer game; the first version of the Sims that came free with our computer

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

my room, afterwards


I finally set aside some time to make wall art for my new apartment! I’m really into the whole “new art / new start” (I just made that up omg POET) idea and I wanted to make some new pretty stuff to go along with the upcoming change of scenery. I move next week and while I haven’t thought about it all that much, I’m really excited to be going back to school/Nashville. I cut out these scraps from a random Globe issue about a month ago, but it doesn’t really matter what you use. Just cardboard and puffy paint and IMAGINATION.




the paint I used was quite bright but it was sort of muted by the cardboard backing, which I actually ended up liking a lot better. 


this seems really angsty and sad in retrospect, but I just thought it was cute??


moment of truth = my cat deciding whether or not to step on the cardboard before it dried. very suspenseful




post-glue post-modern


“the past is a grotesque animal” (which, to me, is more humorous than dramatic)


“standing tall among prospects” (aka I could write an essay about the underlying personal meaning of this random headline intended for exceptional high school basketball players)


“don’t try this at home” (except do. and show me, because there is a 99.99999% chance you are more artistically talented than me) alternate title “nice try, Ohio!!!!”


The Floating World


Ohya Shobo Co. Ltd. / Pingmag

Reading back on this post, it feels a little school-research-project-y, but bear with me plz.

A few months ago I went with some friends to the Frist art museum in Nashville. We were bored and poor, and the museum was free, so it seemed like a good way to fill our Friday evening.

I saw things. I thought things. I wrote about things. And now, six months later when it is relevant to no one but me, I thought I’d share a few of these things.

First of all, a quick (not boring whatsoever) art lesson: in the late 1800s, there was an art movement called japonisme, which marked the beginning of a huge Japanese influence on European/Western art. This included a lot of things – heavier European focus on nature, lesser use of shadow and perspective, new techniques, the inspiration for what we now know as impressionism, etc etc etc.

This is all well and good, but it didn’t really strike my interest when I first saw the japonisme gallery. I’ve found that I’m sort of a selfish museum-goer — I’m only really interested when there is a story or a significance to a piece that I can apply to my own world view. Not to say that I’m close-minded or that I can’t appreciate pretty things, but I can’t stand just looking at paintings; I need to find inspiration in them for them to be memorable.

To me, one of the most interesting aspects of Japanese art at the time was the idea of ukiyo. Ukiyo means “floating world” and ukiyo-e woodblock prints were used to depict the pleasure-seeking aspects of the life of the wealthier class: beautiful landscapes, sumo wrestlers, nature, geishas, even brothels. As the Minnesota Institute of Arts puts it:

During the Edo Period (1615-1868), a uniquely Japanese art from developed known as ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world.” A Buddhist concept, ukiyo originally suggested the sadness (uki) of life (yo). But during the peace and prosperity of the 17th century, another ideograph, also pronounced uki but meaning “to float,” emerged. Instead of connoting sadness, ukiyo came to be associated with the momentary, worldly pleasures of Japan’s rising middle class. Unable to alter their social standing and regulated in nearly every aspect of their lives, from behavior and dress to the sizes of their houses, wealthy commoners found escape in licensed pleasure quarters and Kabuki theaters. There, they could watch handsome actors performing the latest plays or spend time with beautiful courtesans known for their sparkling wit, musical accomplishments, and poetry.


Katsushika Hokusai, Mount Fuji as seen from Goten-Yama, ca 1830

If that’s too long, here’s my interpretation: the Floating World became an amazing subculture for a country that, at the time, was quite isolated. With such stressful and frustrating work lives, the people looked to the Floating World (art, plays, entertainment, connection) as an escape.

If you’ve seen the move Lost in Translation (BEST MOVIE EVER YEAH GO WATCH IT NOW), you might recognize this feeling. I am v intellectual and found this on the LiT Wikipedia page:

The author and filmmaker Anita Schillhorn van Veen interprets the film as a criticism of modernity, in which Tokyo is a contemporary “floating world” of fleeting pleasures that are too alienating and amoral to facilitate meaningful relationships.


The entire movie is focused on the relationship between two strangers, Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) and Bob (Bill Murray), staying in the same lavish hotel. Charlotte is a recent college grad in Tokyo for her husband’s celebrity photography business. While he is consumed by his work, she is isolated from her home without any exciting prospects, since she has no job or idea of what she wants to do. She spends most days alone in their hotel room, and can’t help but poke fun at her husband’s vapid clientele, which doesn’t help their relationship. Bob is an aging has-been movie star who accepts a million-dollar deal promoting a brand of whiskey in Tokyo. He’s going through a mid-life crisis, feeling guilty for choosing money over art, and continually working to avoid confronting problems with his wife and his physical/emotional distance from his children.

They gravitate towards each other because they are different, they get along, they help each other forget the unhappiness in the lives they lead.


Part of the magic of the movie is the fact that the characters only meet for a short period of time, in one situation. The hotel and Tokyo are like a white backdrop that ties no strings to their pasts – they can be whoever they want, free from the disillusionment that comes with knowing someone in everyday life. The karaoke nights they go to, the jazz band in the bar of their hotel, the superficial people they are surrounded by – they are all part of the floating world. The part that makes Charlotte and Bob’s relationship so special is their ability to break away from this world, to be real and candid and unabashedly honest with each other.


Charlotte: I just feel so alone, even when I’m surrounded by other people.


Charlotte: I’m stuck. Does it get easier?
Bob: No. Yes. It gets easier.
Charlotte: Oh yeah? Look at you.
Bob: Thanks. The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.


While I was researching japonisme and the idea of ukiyo, I stumbled upon this About page (again, v intellectual):

Despite being surrounded by exquisite beauty and every earthly pleasure, the merchants and samurai who partook of the Floating World seem to have been plagued by the feeling that their lives were meaningless and unchanging.

Before they properly meet, Charlotte and Bob both go to the swanky bar on the main floor of their hotel. The mood is relaxed, a jazz band plays in the corner, groups (even the one with which Charlotte is sitting) explode in laughter, and everyone feels important and successful enough to afford a drink. Still, being surrounded by worldly pleasures and things that should be fun makes them feel more isolated than anything.


Bob catches Charlotte’s eye across the room and they make fun of the people around them just through facial expressions, forming a connection before they even know anything concrete about one another. They understand, however morbidly, that the drinks and the bar and the music and the parties are only a distraction from the greater struggles in their lives.

I know that the Floating World still does and will likely always exist, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it is dangerous (to your happiness, to your relationships with other people) to see everything “pleasurable” as “vapid,” like Charlotte and Bob do at the bar. However, at the same time, spending too much time in the “floating world,” whatever yours may be, is just as dangerous. It’s fun while it lasts, but it only leaves you feeling empty.

Life Updates, or something like that

This is just more of the head-bubble-ing (i made that up, but it works?) that all my posts from this summer have been like, but I think that’s what happens when I’m left without a concrete schedule for an extended period of time.

here’s some stuff I’ve been doing when I wasn’t here:

1. I’ve been traveling quite a bit over the past week, which has given me a lot of time to listen to Bleacher’s new album, Strange Desire. I lalalalalooooove it. At first I found it overwhelmingly simple, but after many more listens (and reading some interviews with Jack Antonoff) I’m still trying to fully uncover it. It’s complex without feeling heavy, fun without lacking sophistication, interesting without losing enjoyability. it’s gr8.
Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

I really love this quote from a recent interview Jack did:

I want to contribute to mainstream. I don’t want to be reactionary and apologetic, and I don’t want to be in an indie band that, like, pulls back because it’s afraid of mainstream. I wanna go straightforward, but I wanna be better… I’m more in love and attached to the connection from music than I am to music. What I love doing is like working on things and imagining like the whole world hearing it. I’d rather have an impact on a bigger level, and I’d rather believe in what I do and think it’s worth having a cultural impact and then going for that instead of existing in some subculture. I think it’s bullshit and it’s tiring. You know what’s cool? To be awesome and mainstream, not to be awesome and only let a certain amount of people hear it. And I just feel very attached to that and try to be less ashamed of feeling that way. Because it kind of feels like you have to be either hunched over your guitar not giving a shit, or Kanye, and there has to be a middle ground.

I just feel like that little blurb encompasses so much of how I feel about music and life in general. It’s very easy to hate things because you want to be different, rather than because you actually hate them. It’s hard to like things that are popular without feeling like you’re sacrificing your cool factor, when really being “cool” should be liking things that you like, because you’ve formed your own opinions about them, rather than relying on other people to tell you how to feel.

2. I found these quotes in a note on my computer, and can’t remember for the life of me why I put them together, but I kind of like them that way:

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 2.35.39 PM

The first one is from Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, which is one of those books that I couldn’t read without a pen to underline, because everything just felt so gosh darn important. I find it pretty difficult to accurately explain that quote to anyone who hasn’t read the book, but Tavi Gevinson does a great job in this speech (that I’ve mentioned before, and which sparked me to read the book in the first place, although I conveniently forgot everything she said before I read it).

3. I also found my old diary, which merits its own post. it’s good though, I promise.

4. If I want to do things I have to reach out and DO them, even when I’ve convinced myself that I’ll never be able to get it quite right. I’ve submitted a grand total of zero articles/essays for publication this summer, which I’m constantly kicking myself for. I think I’m scared by the fact that getting more things published means solidifying my presence online, and what people will think of me when they look me up. So it’s not only a matter of “Do I like this?” or “Will they publish this?” but also “Do I feel comfortable letting this piece define me?”. And most of the time the answer to one of those questions is a resounding “NOOOO!!!!” and I go back to where I started.

5. My lovely friend Meredith came to visit me last week. Humidity is a bitch, but we pretty well conquered Boston either way. I’m so lucky to have so many people in my life that I feel comfortable and happy around. It’s really easy to feel very alone in a crowd, and I’m thankful for the people who make me feel less insane. These people also tend to be very far away, so I will hold them tight when I can.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset


Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

If you like vintage/thrifted clothes and live anywhere near Boston, the Garment District is the way 2 go.

6. I spent this past weekend in Chicago and rural Illinois with my parents. Our first night we went to Second City, the place that has launched the careers of, like, every relevant comedian of the past fifty years. I was afraid I might have built it up in my head and that I’d be disappointed, but I really loved the performance we went to see (Apes of Wrath, if you’re in the area). I just love funny people, and they were so good at making me think while I also laughed until my cheeks ached.


My cat is being very persistent that I pet her RIGHT NOW, so to avoid too much one-handed typing I’ll end my post here. Thanks for reading.