5CT March 24, 2013

My dad, may he rest in peace, had a two word explanation for he who flummoxed him. “He’s Irish.” I’m a bit late, but to all my Irish friends, (especially you and you) may the wind be always at your back. This issue: Banksy, a gorgeous tune of home by Milton Nasciemento, a great magazine from a killing state, some shameless self-promotion, a journey into storytelling… and one of those wonderful, “who knew Vivian was up to this” stories. Here’s a bit of bread and jam from Samuel Beckett: “Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I grant you that. Yes, yes, it’s the most comical thing in the world.” There’s my old man now saying it again – He’s Irish. (Next issue of 5CT coming to you from this apartment in Paris.)

1. Here Comes Trouble | Banksy  

Dreams | copyright Banksy

Hastings, 2010 | copyright Banksy

Chicago, 2010 | copyright Banksy

This piece was stolen: Haringey Council/Ho/European Pressphoto Agency

About the piece just above, from the New York Times: “The work — called “Slave Labour” and depicting a downtrodden, barefoot boy making Union Jacks on a sewing machine — had become a point of pride in Haringey, the site of some of the nastiest rampages in the 2011 London riots. Stenciled onto the wall of the everything-costs-a-pound Poundland store on Whymark Avenue, it drew visitors from across London and abroad; so many people asked for directions that the local subway station erected a special “This way to our Banksy” sign.” But now its gone missing.

If Banksy the graffiti artist is new to you, this is a good place to start.

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2. Plaintive Song of Home | Milton Nascimento

Ponta de Areia

Ponta de areia
Ponto final
Da Bahia-Minas
Estrada natural
Que ligava Minas
Ao porto do mar
Caminho de ferro
Mandaram arrancar
Velho maquinista
Com seu boné
Lembra do povo alegre
Que vinha cortejar
Maria Fumaça
Não canta mais
Para moças
Flores janelas
E quintais
Na praça vazia
Um grito, um oi
Casas esquecidas
Viúvas nos portais

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3. Essential Reading | Texas Monthly 

The Execution Chamber, Texas AP Photo, Pat Sullivan

The Texas Monthly (“The National Magazine of Texas”) is one of the best magazines in the country. And as you can see from this photo, from a story titled Texas Executes First Man of 2013, they don’t flinch. The do stories on Big Hair, SXSW and they have a great politics blog by Paul Burka. Print lives.

How many times have we seen this kind of story come out of Texas?

Another flawed death row story from Texas.

Check out the magazine here >>. Check out the story above here >>

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the writer’s notebook, tin house books

One of the more delightful discoveries I’ve made recently about writing is found in an essay by writer Lucy Corin. In Material, her essay in The Writer’s Notebook, (Tin House Books, 2009) Lucy writes, “All writing is some combination of visible and invisible forms, and the combination itself is a pattern that is meaningful to me, the rising and falling of my awareness of and attention to one kind of material — content, or what words represent—and another—visible words, ink, like paint on a page. I believe that all the finest fiction is actively and intelligently engaged in this dynamic.”





There’s much more of course and it’s all in this very, very fine book that will help you to become a better writer and reader.

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4. 26 Storytellers | 83: Inside Robert Frank at DandAD

This is a collaboration story of two organizations based in London: D&AD and 26. The former promotes the creative arts, the latter is a writer’s group, of which I am a member. The collaboration? The Story Works. Twenty-six writers select one of their favorite stories, advertisements, movies, novels, etc. and then describe how The Story Works. I was excited to participate. My piece – 83: Inside Robert Frank’s The Americans is about the greatest photographic book ever made. Make sure to have a look at all the contributions here >>

Also, thanks to Gerhard Steidl for producing The Americans in such exquisite fashion.

From The Americans

Los Angeles

At dawn looking for an angry fix

Page after silvery, tritone page,
in vivid, continuous, dream-world sequence –
your allegory rolls west, south.
Urban, rural, black, white,
well-heeled, down at the heel.
(Did nobody tell you that nobody walks in Los Angeles?)
The spell of your story lodged deep inside me,
pierced my heart like a love dart,
hunkered down, never left,
urged me to think, see. And have heart.
Bleated out some silent copy.
Mister, your hometown —
what in fucking hell.

the entire piece is here >>

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5. Tell No One | Finding Vivian Maier

I feel a kind of intense joy knowing that Vivian Maier traipsed (for years it seems) up and down the streets of New York and Chicago and other locales around the world adorned with her Rolleiflex — secretly firing away like a woman possessed. Over 100,000 negatives later and still no one knew. You just have to love that kind of lonely obsession. What gives the story its  frisson is that she was a visual genius. She was absolutely a tribe of one, yet truly sophisticated as a visual artist. Knew what she was doing and went out there and did it. Told no one nor showed anyone. The story of how her work was discovered is legend — an unpaid storage unit, an auction and this one lucky guy. There’s a documentary film coming. (5CT covered the story way back when in a little Kickstarter call out.)

September 10, 1955 New York City | Vivian Maier

January 9, 1957 Florida | Vivian Maier

Untitled, undated | Vivian Maier

Untitled, undated | Vivian Maier


I think of this incredible body of work, the solitary doggedness of it, the long stretch of time and I wonder about survival and whether taking pictures was how Vivian Maier survived. She wouldn’t be the first person for whom photography was a lifeline.

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