Archive for April, 2006

“The Right Fights”

Monday, April 17th, 2006

Rev. William Sloane Coffin
From PBS, a 2004 interview with the late Rev. William Sloan Coffin, who reflects on a life of faith and political activism.

Q: As you look back on everything you’ve done in your wonderful life, what are you most proud of?

A: I never thought that was a question I should answer. It’s not so much a question of pride; it’s deep satisfaction. Joy in this world comes from self-fulfillment. Joy is a more profound experience than mere happiness. Happiness connotes pleasure. Joy can include, and not exclude, pain. The moments of great satisfaction in my life are many, for which I’m deeply grateful. Most of all because I’m a pastor and my pastoral relations have been some of the most satisfying experiences of my life. After all, when I was at Yale for 18 years, I spent almost every afternoon when I was in town — and that was most of the time — just counseling students, one on one. People who invite you into the garden of their soul are really wonderful people. They’re never boring. I don’t bear fools’ company gladly, but people who are deeply personal and willing to air their conflicts — that’s very satisfying. (more…)

“On Writing Well” …. Memoirs Without all the Whining

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

In an interview on NPR, William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well, reflects on the memoir in the Age of Frey. He says that since the 1990s, many memoirs have focused on victimhood (which also sounds like the Age of Oprah), rather than forgiveness … which he believes has been bad news for the great memoir form. Other sage advice upon this May’s 30th anniversary of Zinsser’s classic book: don’t write for your agent, your family, your dog, your lawyer—or anyone but yourself. Once you worry what your mom will think, says Mr. Z, you’re sunk. Here’s a slice of his essay excerpted on NPR’s site:

My final reducing advice can be summed up in two words: think small. Don’t rummage around in your past — or your family’s past — to find episodes that you think are “important” enough to be worthy of including in your memoir. Look for small self-contained incidents that are still vivid in your memory. If you still remember them it’s because they contain a universal truth that your readers will recognize from their own life.

Hey, Sports Racers!

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

The hilarious Ze Frank has a new Web show fillled with loopy news and advice.

Joey’s Checkup

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

Over My Med Body is the blog of a third-year medical student, whose posts give an unsettling sense of what it’s like to work as a doctor these days.

Joey is twelve. No, wait, fifteen. His face is twelve. His neck, scarred from pepper spray, is a bitter eighteen. His abdomen, with a line from a stab wound, is a harsh twenty-five. I guess it averages out. Okay then, fifteen it is.

Joey is the third minor I see by myself today at a well-child checkup in Fremont; his parents are working. I’m starting to get the hang of it—medical history is quick, social history is long and involved. Tells me his grandmother had just passed away and his one-year old daughter—yes, daughter—was sick in the hospital with pneumonia. (I double-check his age, yes, he’s 15.)

Up until this point, most of the other teens I’ve seen have tried to play it cool, or curse a lot, or are in good moods. They like to think they’re adults, but I still talk to them like they’re teenagers. Not condescending, but just not… adult. But Joey’s just lost a family member. “I’m so sorry to hear that” is my automated response. Not that I don’t care enough for spontaneity. That’s just what I’ve found as the easiest, non-judgmental, non-assuming thing to say whenever someone says someone is dead or has died. That, and some silence. Respect for the dead.

I find out Joey’s sister has diabetes, and Joey has a cough. He smokes cigarettes. We discuss coughing and cigarettes, and the irony. I smile, he smiles. He uses marijuana infrequently. He doesn’t drink alcohol.

Joey is sexually active, with his “lady.” He doesn’t use condoms. He doesn’t like they way they feel. His lady uses birth control. His “ex-lady” and him had a daughter.

Joey gets quiet. He tells me his daughter, the one with pneumonia, died yesterday.

More here.

Forgive Me, Ma Bell, for I have Sinned

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

Guilty? Scared? Scarred? Unheard? Maybe you should just keep your sweet self out of Trader Joe’s and head for the Phone Booth Confessional.

“The Phone Booth Confessional is an experiment in expressing yourself. Tell a story. Confess a frustration, a guilt, a secret. Never leave your name- never leave a return phone number. Just dial, leave a personal message and hang up. This project can be done once, or repeated as often as you like. It may only reach an audience of one, but it is a valuable exercise in expressing yourself, exposing your fears, articulating your vulnerabilities, sharing your dreams. Most forms of art require lengthy processes to convey your expressions. You do not have to be gifted or trained to share your thoughts with the world. You do not need a gallery or a studio to reach an audience. With a quarter and a short walk down the street, you can accelerate the process and dive head first into the realm of self-expression.”

TJ to the Max

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

Caught up in Joe-mania? You need to throw on an aloha shirt and read this.

Trader Joe’s Dried Fruit Chile Spiced Mango ($1.99). This is your maximum dried fruit return on investment, and it doesn’t have sulfites. After you eat half the bag, make sure you seal the bag up tight because the mangoes will dry up even further and at this point chewing makes it seem like you’re on ESPN2. For chewing. Like a radical extreme chewing competition. Starring you. Don’t mix these up with the other type of dried mango which has sulfites (memory jab: bad odors) and saturated fat.

On the Road With Grandma Knapp in ‘37

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006


“In 1937, my maternal grandmother, Joycolyn Knapp, took a road trip with my grandfather, Jack Knapp, his sister Gladys, and her husband Wayne “Windy” Anderson. I hope you enjoy Grandma’s amazing photo journal of their trip. Start the trip.”

Fall x 6 + 1 = ?

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

A look at the years ahead:

In spring of 2006, the Bush Gang attacks Iran, a mountainous nation almost four times the size of Iraq with a much stronger military. No problem — they use nukes, and they don’t have to cover it up for the people at home, because Americans know “we” would never do that, so we didn’t. The rest of the world, though, is appalled. The EU imposes trivial sanctions. Tony Blair calls it “regrettable.” Venezuela threatens to cut off our oil again, and one or two countries start trading oil in Euros. Ordinary Americans see this as “rabid anti-Americanism,” and are horrified by Iran’s relatively tame counter-attack. Bush’s approval rating goes back up to 60%, and because our enemies are now attacking us, he dissolves congress and cancels the 2008 elections. The Democrats, afraid of seeming weak in a time of war, make mild objections.

In 2016 Dean steps down and the new president is an anarchist who spends eight years peacefully dismantling the federal government and building local systems that make central control irrelevant and impossible, including radically non-standardized education systems, and citizen militias with expert training in resisting occupiers, and no training in conquest.

The near future looks like a giant Burning Man or Rainbow Gathering or Renaissance Faire in which everyone is preoccupied with getting food. The people who can’t take it find a lot of ways to die, including deadly fighting. But people who like this world, and want to live in it, have a great survival advantage. By 2030 no one can count the number of independent city states, tribes, permaculture villages, cults, techno-communes, bandit gangs, or enclaves of surviving elites (actually, the last one can be counted).

The rest is here.

I Feel Safer Already

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

MySpace announces hiring of former federal prosecutor to be its “online safety chief;” concerned parents write breathy, self-centered articles about their daughter’s MySpace site. In other news, the sun rose today.

How It’s Done

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006


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