5CT February 2017

And so we careen into February hoping for the best, prepared for the worst. As always, there is art and music and writing to help. Meet an artist from Venice, CA and do observe his magic with magazine clippings. Who to follow on Twitter in these days of sound and fury? Who should we read? A wicked smart Seattle artist tells the creative class what it needs to know. The courageous team at the Munich Post kept at it until the end. And because we all need music more than ever, a 5CT Winter Playlist. I love you, 5CT readers. 

Jay Kelly |Venice Beach, CA

{ As One | Jay Kelly }

{ Another Chapter | Jay Kelly }

That Never Were

On a recent First Thursday art expedition in Seattle, the 5CT team stumbled on Jay Kelly’s work in a Pioneer Square Gallery. A close inspection left us gobsmacked. The work is made up entirely of magazine & newspaper clippings. There is no paint.

On his process:

“In the late ’90s, I started experimenting with figurative collage. As a self taught artist, I picked up second-hand books to learn about art history. While creating my own work, I found myself clipping meaningful images and bits of text and attaching them directly to the canvases. I layered darker images and lighter clips of text with paint to create shadows and highlights. Eventually, I dropped the paint all together and began creating images entirely out of found material.

After exploring a variety of media and techniques over the years, tapping into my love of photography and background in graphic design, I have most recently found myself drawn back to the creation of life-like, almost photorealistic imagery using old discarded paper – primarily vintage magazines and books. It is gratifying to create something tangible in such a digital world. My work nods at that nostalgia, while hopefully bringing a hint of mystery and classic beauty from a lost moment in time into present day.

As far as the process itself, I start with a source image that catches my eye for its balance, depth, beauty, romance and overall visual intrigue. Sometimes I find these images in books or magazines, other times the source will be one of my own photographs. Once I have chosen a particular image, I explore different sizing and crops. I then proceed to the formidable task of recreating it out of various bits of paper.”

{ No Matter Where | Jay Kelly }

{ Beloved By | Jay Kelly }

Jay Kelly’s website >

Twitter for the Resistance

I‘m not entirely sure that I’m happy about it, but one positive of late is discovering some bright, insightful, courageous and funny minds. It’s become painfully clear that the demands of the moment are outstripping the abilities of many of those who normally cover it. Thankfully, we have “alternatives.”

@Clara Jeffery is Editor-in-Chief at Mother Jones, recently recognized as the 2016 Magazine of the Year. This is the late October piece on DJT and Russia, by Mother Jones’ David Corn, a story that proved almost beyond imagining at the time. But that was then.


@MashaGessen is an author and freelance journalist. She penned an amazing piece in the NYRB a few weeks back. Autocracy: Rules for Survival, in which Rule No. 1 was Believe the Autocrat.


@JayRosen_nyu is a Journalism Professor at NYU and it’s truly illuminating to watch him at work in a moment like this. Above, he’s reacting to a piece – The Madness of King Donald – by long time 5CT crush Andrew Sullivan, who is back to a regular writing gig at New York Magazine.


@joshtpm is Publisher & Editor of Talking Points Memo. His insights into the DJT psyche are penetrating and enduring. He coined ‘Trump’s Razor’ way back before the general election. ‘Razor’ was defined as “ascertaining the stupidest possible scenario that can be reconciled with the available facts.” Trump’s Razor still holds and that was only the beginning. Later came blog posts on ‘dignity wraiths’ (Chris Christie, No.1 example) and a bang-on series of posts, the latest of which is Five Points which you should read.


@sarahkendzior is a brilliant writer I only just learned about via a good friend and concerned citizen. This piece, It’s Already Happened Here, is one of the best pieces of writing I’ve seen in a long time. Read it for lines like these:

But never has such an execrable individual been given such power in our government, and never has a president been surrounded by so many who view America as little more than a playground for punishment and plunder.


@joycecaroloates — what can you say? Like everything else, she’s brilliant at the Twitter. Layered, lacerating, complex.


@jbouie (Jamelle Bouie) is Chief Political Correspondent at Slate and a Political Analyst at CBS News. He also appears on the Slate Political Gabfest. Government by White Nationalism is Upon Us is bracing, terrifying and measured. Required reading.

Brilliance from Seattle, Jessica Hagy

There we were—the entire 5CT editorial team—perusing the January 25 issue of Forbes looking for you know, cool things. And then! Suddenly appeared this heat seeking missile from long-time 5CT favorite, Jessica Hagy. Enjoy, if you can.

10 Harsh things you need to know right now.

Our world can be quite the harsh place.

It does you no good to avoid that fact, to hide from it, or to pretend it’s untrue. Look directly at the harshness, at the ugliness, at the unfairness. Process it and understand why it’s there. Then respond to it with all the energy you have. You’ll be stronger for it, every time you have to do it.

1. You’re good, but not as good as you could be.

That’s not an insult. It’s a fact. And as long as you think you’re good enough, someone else will be practicing, learning, and perfecting their work until it makes yours look like a feeble, laughable attempt at competence.

2. You don’t fit in with every group, and you never will.

You will always be a little too different, a little too much, a bit too little, too much of insider, to much of an outsider, too experienced, not experienced enough, and not something enough. You, any everyone else you know, is a misfit to every group they don’t belong to.

3. Nobody cares about that great work you did yesterday.

All the brilliant work, great accomplishments, shattered glass ceilings, insightful papers, all the people you mentored, all the work you did: it only matters as much as it can impact what you can do today. Laurels wilt surprisingly quickly.

4. Things will change with or without your input.

You might as well try to move the needle toward the future you desire.

5. Somebody thinks you’re what’s wrong with the world today.

Don’t dwell on the hatred, the dismissiveness, the disgust. Instead, work to make the world safer for people like you. If your very being is being threatened, that means that your very being is threatening to those who wish to erase you. There’s power in being frightening. Use it to your advantage.

6. You’ll never get a day off from your responsibilities.

You cannot escape your personality, your ever-changing legacy (or lack thereof), your role in your family, your role in your community, or your nagging sense that you should do something more with your life. When you are exhausted by those demands, just know: having responsibilities means you matter.

7. If you quit your job, someone else will take it. If you quit your life’s work, nobody will swoop in to finish it for you.

If your work truly matters, if it’s fun, if it’s rewarding in any way, other people will be happy to do it—unless it is yours and yours alone. See also: your art, your children, and all the effort you put into surviving.

8. Your problems are not on most people’s radar.

You must tie your own self-interest to other peoples’ benefit, or you’ll be seen as a whiner. So give extra, empathetic attention to other’s cries for help: even if they aren’t crying to help you. And when you call for help, frame your troubles as dangers to your audience.

9. Your brain is constantly lying to you.

There are hundreds of cognitive biases built into your cerebral circuitry. Don’t be so sure that what you think is true, or even in sync with reality, and know that everyone else is battling the same obstacles to logic.

 10. If you’re not being taken advantage of, you’re not making anyone any money.

All employees generate more money than they cost a company. All services cost less to deliver than they do to undertake. The idea of a rip-off is relative. Keep your skeptical senses about you as you make transactions.

Against Normalization: The Lesson of the Munich Post

A couple of excerpts from a powerful piece.

by Ron Rosenbaum
THE TRUMP-HITLER COMPARISON. Is there any comparison? Between the way the campaigns of Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler should have been treated by the media and the culture? The way the media should act now? The problem of normalization?

What I want to suggest is an actual comparison with Hitler that deserves thought. It’s what you might call the secret technique, a kind of rhetorical control that both Hitler and Trump used on their opponents, especially the media. And they’re not joking. If you’d received the threatening words and pictures I did during the campaign (one Tweet simply read “I gas Jews”), as did so many Jewish reporters and people of color, the sick bloodthirsty lust to terrify is unmistakably sincere. The playbook is Mein Kampf.

Very much worth your time >>


The 5 Cool Things Winter Playlist

Music is my everything, the one thing I can count on to get me to the places that need getting to. And lately, well I needn’t tell you. These are weird and strange days. So I’m calling on everyone. Nico. Pat Metheny. Robert Glasper. Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. Sam Cooke. Billie. Gil Scott-Heron. Johnny Cash. The Isley Brothers. Monk. Lonnie Liston Smith. Charlie Byrd.

1 Comment
  • John Simmons
    February 13, 2017

    Writers in the 1930s – Sinclair Lewis among them – wrote fiction about a dystopian future, a fascist America. But it would not be called Fascism. It would be normalized as Americanism. With Trump and ‘America First’ this comes to pass. I recommend a brilliant review of this literature by Sarah Churchwell in the Guardian (UK newspaper) a couple of Saturdays ago.