5 Cool Things for Oct. 2016

Herewith, five great notions, quotes, thoughts, passages, and a poem, from poet-philosopher, and Puget Sound resident, David Whyte. What’s unusual is that this poet works in the corporate world. Whyte also seems to have helped inspire the formation of Dark Angels, the UK-based writing collective. (Of which I am a proud member.) I thought this was perfect. “And so the ability to ask beautiful questions, often in very unbeautiful moments, is one of the great disciplines of a human life. And a beautiful question starts to shape your identity as much by asking it as it does by having it answered.” (Thanks to Tim and Neil, friends and 5CT subscribers for the tip.)

david-whyte by Nicol Ragland

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5CT July / August 2015

C harles Simic is the second poet laureate from New Hampshire, loves New York and writes like a dream. The writer Richard Kreitner has mapped out some cool interesting American road trips for your summer. The scene was Cambridge University – the year – 1965 – the characters – two leading intellectuals – the debate – who pays for the American Dream? Plus, a live performance to make your day. And Baltimore (West Baltimore to be exact) — as literary as any city in America — has given us another great one. “Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.” – James Baldwin

Seattle copywriter1.
Essays & Poems by Charles Simic

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 9.32.29 PM

author photo by Beowulf Sheehan

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5CT June 2015

G reetings from Torridon, on the west coast of Scotland. The big empty, as my friend Jamie Jauncey calls it. This issue circles back to (recently featured) Sherman Alexie, who just floored some Dark Angels. Torridon is geologically and visually stunning. Voice is central to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Herbie Hancock’s chant. A periodic table of storytelling? Yes. And where to store all those wonders you find online? “My great-great uncle and Long Wolf understood that to be fully human means dwelling not just on the planet but in nature. That’s where our hearts beat strongest.” Jamie Jauncey

Dark Angels, Moniack Mhor 2015
Dark Angels, Moniack Mhor 2015


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Five Cool Things :: June 10, 2012

FCT Cafe

Just when you thought it was safe to go back outside here comes a summer issue of FCT. Apologies for the long absence. In this issue, Laetitia, Wislawa, Gill, Ida and Orhan. Speaking of Orhan Pamuk, this is what he wrote in Snow, “How much can we hope to understand those who have suffered deeper anguish, greater deprivation, and more crushing disappointments than we ourselves have known?” Not nearly enough, Orhan.


1. Laetitia Sadier | Find Me the Pulse of the Universe

laetitia sadier ~ she is french.


iPad / iPhone users listen here>>

I found this music — 10 mp3s you need to download for free this week — here>>


2. Wislawa Szymborska | The End and the Beginning

scorched earth | richard pelletier

The End and the Beginning

Wislawa Szymborska

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won’t
straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone has to drag in a girder
to prop up a wall,
Someone has to glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it’s not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

We’ll need the bridges back,
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.

Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls the way it was.
Someone else listens
and nods with unsevered head.
But already there are those nearby
starting to mill about
who will find it dull.

From out of the bushes
sometimes someone still unearths
rusted-out arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew
what was going on here
must make way for
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.

In the grass that has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out
blade of grass in his mouth
gazing at the clouds.

Wislawa Szymborska Do you not love her face?

The fct guy reads The End and the Beginning


3. Not Drawing a Blank | Gil Blank Photographer

photograph by gil blank

Meet New York City based Gil Blank — such an interesting photographer. This is as good place as any to start>>

Have a look at his photographic series based in Portland, Maine>>

Read into the wee hours — look at all these essays>>

From an interview with the photographer Wolfgang Tillmans:

WT: “I like the idea of the photograph as something that joins me to the world, that connects me to others, that I can share. I can get in touch with somebody when they recognize a feeling: “Oh, I felt like that before. I remember jeans hanging on the banister, even though I’ve never seen that exact pair. I’ve seen my oranges on a windowsill.” It’s the sense that “I’m not alone.” That’s the driving force behind sharing these things—that I want to find connections in people. I believe that every thought and idea has to be somehow rendered through personal experience, and then generalized.”


4. Orhan Pamuk | Paris Review

“We could die here and nobody would ever know.” That’s Orhan Pamuk in a lively Paris Review interview. Well worth your time.

Choice excerpt: Although I was raised in a crowded family and taught to cherish the community, I later acquired an impulse to break away. There is a self-
destructive side to me, and in bouts of fury and moments of anger I do things that cut me off from the pleasant company of the community. Early in life I realized that the community kills my imagination. I need the pain of loneliness to make my imagination work. And then I’m happy. But being a Turk, after a while I need the consoling tenderness of the community, which I may have destroyed. Istanbul destroyed my relationship with my mother—we don’t see each other anymore. And of course I hardly ever see my brother. My relationship with the Turkish public, because of my recent comments, is also difficult.

Read the entire interview here>>


5. Power & Imagination | Ida Applebroog

copyright ida applebroog

copyright ida applebroog

I want those shoes, that’s all I can say. Ms. Ida is a bit of a national treasure. Now please watch this. (This video won’t work on iPad/iPhone. Desktop only.)

Five Cool Things October 31


I know today is some kind of ritualistic non-holiday but I can’t quite will myself to remember what it is. In this issue of Five Cool Things we tool along Interstate 5 for a few miles and find an old Indian trail and a new poem. We discover a flooring magnate who professes a great, big love of the earth and we introduce you to a fantastic website for discovering and collecting work by a wide range of artists. Wrapping up, we tour the Society of Publication Designers website, and we dine at a tasty and fun noodle house in San Francisco’s Japantown. Of San Francisco, Julia Child said: “Who couldn’t be ravenous in such a place?”

1. Interstate 5 | Road Sign on Interstate 5

Five Cool Things Photo of I-5


I just spent way too much time on Interstate 5 and I thought I’d impose some of its endless fascination on you. From Wikipedia: An extensive section of Interstate 5 (over 600 miles) from roughly Stockton, California, to Portland, Oregon, follows very closely the track of the Siskiyou Trail.[5] This trail was based on an ancient network of Native American footpaths connecting the Pacific Northwest with California’s Central Valley. Also, if you Google “Interstate 5 + poetry” you find this poem below by Robert Peake.


They are holding hands, or rather, their silhouettes
are joined at the arms like a chain link fence.

Their bodies lean forward, like italic letters.
They are running: the man is pulling the woman,

the woman is pulling what must be her child,
and the child is lifted, by the speed, off her feet.

It is the same type of sign that might contain
the antlered shape of a generic black buck,

or tell drivers that the road could be slippery when wet.
It is a warning sign, it says: watch out for this.

Every time I pass, I scan both sides of the freeway,
expecting to see a family of three, gathering

up loose belongings, timing the cars, preparing
to run across eight lanes of high-speed traffic.

I have never seen them, this desperate family.
I only know their shadows, how they tilt toward

the bright yellow space in front of them, scrambling
to reach the outlined edge of the thin metal sign.

I have never wanted anything this much, for myself,
let alone to pull those closest to me into flight.

There is so much I could say about growing up
on the border of Mexico. It is not the corrugated

fence, or even the river of sewage, that defines
the scar that joins one world to the next,

but a one-hundred-foot width of sun-soft asphalt,
streaming with commuter traffic, day and night.

The man is pulling the woman, the woman is pulling
her airborne child, whose pigtails flail back.

On the other side is the ocean, salt marsh and a beach
that stretches north, into the source of the wind.

They are holding hands, and smelling the salt in the air.
At night, their pupils contract as the headlights expand.

What begins like a distant starlight grows to a spotlight,
a floodlight, a wash of whiteness, and engines made of wind.

Then reddened, like coals, like dying suns, the lights
recede, a river of cherry redness, a syrup of taillights.

The man is pulling the woman is pulling the child,
who rises as though winged in a blaze of light.
– Robert Peake

2. Ray Anderson | We Have Some Decisions to Make

Ray Anderson

Ray Anderson

In 1994 the writer Paul Hawken convicted him for being a “plunderer of the earth.” Titan of industry and recovering “plunderer” Ray Anderson speaks at TED about the earth, business, and the business logic of sustainability. Ray Anderson is the founder and chairman of InterfaceFlor – a company that makes industrial/commercial flooring products. Anderson has written two books — Mid-Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise and Confessions of a Radical Industrialist – Doing Business by Respecting the Earth. He is featured in two documentaries: The Corporation and The 11th Hour. Riveting, strange and important, here’s the TED talk.

3. Art + Photographer | Laurie Simmons

Laurie Simmons

You say you’ve always wanted to collect art but there was that whole money thing? Good news. The website Art + Culture Editions is a kind of online showcase, portfolio, gallery and exhibition space for a very wide range of artists from just emerging to long established. I hadn’t heard of the photographer Laurie Simmons before, but there she was, showing her work and offering it for sale. Please meet Laurie Simmons who is part of that whole “Pictures Generation” cabal that includes Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince and others.

“I came across these very strange and sci-fi looking dolls. They’re called the “Teenettes” and they were a Japanese toy maker’s idea about the American woman. They’re kind of distorted, as you might expect, but the fact that they were colored monochromatically was a terrific metaphor for me…I simply worked in a very formulaic way to find rooms that were decorated in the style that was prevalent in the sixties and seventies where a room would have a theme color. So the green doll would be placed in a green room, the red doll in a red room, the yellow doll in a yellow room, and the blue doll in a blue room, and that for me said something about women actually becoming or fading into their environment.”

4. Uber Cool Stuff | The Society of Publication Designers

SPD where the heck have you been? You are so very cool! The Society of Publication Designers delivers design, covers, photography, typography, layouts, process stories, blogs, galleries, job boards, profiles and events. I am bookmarking you. Random excerpt: “We love The New Yorker’s annual Halloween covers. From Hitler as a flying witch in the 1940s to post-9/11 city kids trick or treating as firefighters and police, the covers have been funny, pointed, scary, and always beautiful. We collected 19 of our favorites to get you ready for your neighborhood ghouls and goblins.”

5. San Francisco Ramen | Tampopo


On a recent trip to San Francisco my wife and I landed in Japantown in search of Ramen and we found this perfect little gem, Tampopo. It happened to be her birthday and she loves Japanese food in all its forms so a perfect night it was. Delicious broth and noodles, friendly service, a buzzing dining room. San Francisco at its best. Of course it had to be great owing its name to one of the best food movies of all time. If you haven’t seen Tampopo it’s known as a Japanese Noodle Western. Dig that poster art!

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