5CT Christmas Edition 2013

Ta Nehisi Coates

Ta Nehisi Coates

 

A cop had pulled him over and a voice at the local precinct—
Can somebody go get him? He’s confused.
He was on Smithneck Road. Took us ten minutes. Three cars on a strip of grass. As in a tiny funeral. Blinking red and blue lights. As in Christmas. As in a silent, slow motion Christmas calamity. In the gray air the policeman spoke into his radio.

Elderly. Male. I’d take his license right now. Doesn’t know his ass from a chicken sandwich.
Roger that.

My father sat ashamed and prideful staring up at me with baggy eyes from the drivers side. First Christmas alone. All dressed up.
Big shot thinks he’s collared somebody….
The kind woman who’d tried to convoy him to my sister’s house.
He’s a nice man and it’s Christmas Eve, you know? Poor guy. 
She’d found him patrolling the streets of downtown New Bedford. Way off course. Captain Ahab back in New Beige, in a Buick, with a golf cap, a coffee and a donut. He’d tried to explain.
She’s next door to that State Rep’s house. I just—
Okay, follow me.
They snaked along at 10 mph, her eyes glued to the rear view. Almost made it. Until the cop. I got into his car and drove us to my sister’s house. Jumbo shrimp, turkey and mashed potatoes, a roaring fire, gin and tonics and the empty space of my lost mother awaited us. Hadn’t been a year yet.
Everybody’s a big shot.
He looked out the window at the houses going by. 
We ate and drank and bullshitted. Wished that my mother was still with us. Said she was.
She’s here. She is so here. A toast to you mother!
We drank. In her honor.
My father lived it up. Like he’d once been lost and then was found. Like this was it.
In the dark, going home, he lost his way.
It was.

Song for Sunday | Paul Simon – Something so right.

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2. Your very own cloud | Youunity

It was only a matter of time—all your files, on all your devices,  all the time. No synching needed. That means that if you’re staying in the Hotel Andra in Seattle, and your computer (and your preferred music app) is open at home, you can stream all your music right from your iPad or iPhone. Other apps have tried to to do this, but You Unity has got this down cold. But wait there’s more. ALL your files are available  to you. So if you’re stuck in that Seattle hotel room, and you need to get your hands on document that is on your home machine, you can do that.

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3. A passion for travel | Airbnb

Coolest idea ever. If you haven’t heard, Airbnb is the (relatively) new, cool and hugely popular way to travel. Around the world some 350,000 plus “hosts” rent out an extra bedroom, silo, windmill, sheep wagon, airstream, treehouse, geodesic dome or whatnot to travelers. Forget the sterile Motel 8. And the Hampton Inn. In the photo below are examples of places you can stay. Booking online is a snap.

Brilliant marketing from airbnb

Brilliant marketing from airbnb

To tell their amazing story, Airbnb hired 50 artists to create miniature birdhouse replicas of locations available throughout the world via Airbnb. And they made a film “Home to You” which you should definitely watch. The campaign is by http://www.pereiraodell.com/featured.

http://www.birdbnb.com/

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4. iPad library | Oyster
Oyster Books

Oyster Books

Oyster is absolutely worth your time. An ever growing library of great books available on any device. Small monthly subscription required. One hiccup, syncing is a bit wonky for my taste. Still, if you live mostly on one device, this is brilliant. More here >>

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5. The Beautiful Writer | Ta Nehisi Coates
Ta Nehisi Coates

Ta Nehisi Coates – Photograph by Ramsay de Give for the NY Times

I’m not sure what it is about Baltimore and the many fine writers that city seems to produce. Here’s a partial list of writers who’ve called Baltimore home: Frederick Douglas, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zora Neale Hurston, H. L. Mencken, Edna St. Vincent Millay, John Dos Passos, Edgar Allan Poe, and Gertrude Stein…but wait there’s more…John Barth, Madison Smartt Bell, Stephen Dixon, Laura Lippman, Alice McDermott, and Anne Tyler. But today we’re talking about one really lovely Baltimore born (now in Harlem) writer, Ta Nehisi Coates. From his perch at The Atlantic, TNC writes about politics, race, culture, history, sports, Mad Men, learning french, being in Paris and, etc. You should read TNC. You’ll have a front row seat at the smartest salon anywhere and your person will expand in the reading.

On the Duck Dynasty scandal:

This is not just ignorance; it is a willful retreat into myth. And we must have the intellectual courage and moral strength to follow the myth through. If swindlers, goat-fuckers, and gay men are really all the same–disinherited from the kingdom of God–why not treat them the same? How does one argue that a man who is disfavored by the Discerner of All Things, should not be shamed, should not jeered, should not be stoned, should not be lynched in the street?

On Mandela and the question of violence:

Offered the chance to be free by the avowed white supremacist P.W. Botha if he would renounce violence, Mandela replied, “Let him renounce violence.” Americans should understand this. Violent resistance to tyranny, violent defense of one’s body, is not simply a political strategy in our country, it is taken as a basic human right. Our own revolution was purchased with the blood of 22,000 nascent American dead. Dissenters were tarred and feathered. American independence and American power has never rested on nonviolence, but on the willingness to do great—at times existential—violence.

On fraudulent deeds of white land owners after emancipation:

 The recipient of this deed was a black man who could not read. His money was taken, and then he was mocked. The mockery is almost a show of cause. His illiteracy is a weakness and that weakness makes him worthy of contempt and suitable for plunder.

When I was a child in West Baltimore it was a hobby to jump people who’d somehow wandered through your neighborhood. But you could not jump them for the hell of it–even if that’s what you were actually doing. You had to make up some fraudulent reason for plunder–“Yo, ain’t that the dude that was messing with your cousin?” or some other nakedly false show of cause. We could not accept the fact we were behaving thuggishly, that we had embraced villainy. Even in total cowardice we had to make ourselves heroic. I learned this. It was not natural to me. I was a tender boy, until I wasn’t. And then I learned to despise weakness and to mask that contempt behind narrative and myth.

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