Archive for May, 2007

Stories from the Lower 9th Ward

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

lower9th.jpgIf you like what we’ve done with real stories from New Orleans on our webcomic, A.D., you’ll love what’s possible when you’ve got a Oscar-winning director and a crew and a budget that yields hundreds of hours of footage of stories of real people, all of which led to the PBS series Right to Return: New Home Movies from the Lower 9th Ward. Since last January, Jonathan Demme has been filming the lives of dozens of people from the Lower 9th, and now unfurls their stories on rebuilding and restarting their lives in 15-minute segments the rest of this week on the Tavis Smiley show. “They told me I should go to Houston,” Cherice Harrison-Nelson explains in one of the segments. “New Orleans is my home. Why shouldn’t I come back here?” If you’ve missed the first few parts, the series will no doubt be rerun, and excerpts can be viewed the PBS site now.

Our Orgasmic Moments, used, on a sidewalk $1 cart

Monday, May 28th, 2007


Some people share their stories by writing books and having them published. Other people do it by buying those people’s stories and passing them on. I’ve always liked finding old inscriptions in used bookstores; now that I work in one, each new taped-up file box is like Christmas morning. When I lend out a book, I write my name (so I’ll get it back) and the page number of my favorite passage (because I’m nerdy like that). Now some super-cool folks have created a place to revel in these public-private-mysterious messages from the past. The Book Inscriptions Project is a great Found-meets-Postsecret-meets-dusty-stacks destination, simple in design and pure in mission. Scan them. Send them. Read them. Write them. And imagine some curious bibliophile poring over them fifty years from now—on the shelf or on the internet.

Screwed by Social Networking

Monday, May 28th, 2007

This week’s question:

The tiff between a MySpace user and the Obama campaign made us wonder— ever felt screwed by a social networking site?

Next week’s question:
SMITH is stuck on Stuck in the Middle. What’s your most vivid middle school memory?

Hi Ho Ho Ho, Silver

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

Jay Thomas on Letterman, with a great Lone Ranger story.

Finally, A Cure — And it’s on YouTube!

Friday, May 25th, 2007

This video’s been bouncing around the political blogosphere a bit lately, and as it’s absolutely hilarious, I thought I’d bring it here for a Friday video to leave you laughing as you enter the first weekend of summer. Enjoy.

EXHIBIT: Comics as Political Stories

Friday, May 25th, 2007

425498971_40d9559739_m.jpgI just caught the “Comic Abstraction: Image Breaking, Image Making” exhibit at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art. The exhibit looks at how different comic artists—Juan Munoz, Polly Apfelbaum (that’s her ode to the Powerpuff girls on the right), Gary Simmons, and other masters of their craft—have used humor to confront political concerns of their time. It feels relevant to what we’re doing with A.D., even though “comic” and “humor” are not always the same thing (a notion we’ve been realizing many people don’t get at first). I saw the 30 or so pieces in person, but the MOMA’s beautiful treatment of it online, with interviews with the artists and audio curation, is an excellent way to experience this exhibit.

“Let Us Pretend My Pants Are France and Invade Them.”

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Picture_5.pngThe evil geniuses at do not rest. First they brought us Babble, a site for the post-dating set (young parents, that is), and now, a more homespun project dedicated to the fine art of picking people up in what blogger types like to call “the meat world.”

Pickupedia, the Pickup Line Encyclopedia, is a user-driven miscellany of all the one-line seduction attempts that the hive mind can muster.

They’re gross and bizarre and largely un-funny and…well, you know pickup lines. Has any SMITH reader ever had a pickup line work for them? I mean successfully delivered one? Or been wooed by someone else’s? Tell!

The New Sunday Book Review

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

This week, writer/blogger/all-around-book-maven Felicia Sullivan launched Between the Sheets:Felicia.jpg Writers Revealed, a new book-themed talk show on Now Live radio. A girl after my own heart, Felicia chose memoirs for her first topic, and Maggie Nelson, Danielle Trussoni, and Janice Erlbaum have plenty to say. I especially enjoyed their focus on the story after the story’s been told—what happens when your nonfiction book faces its characters. There’s also some good discussion of how portraying yourself unflinchingly can soften the blows.

Leaving_Dirty_Jersey_cover.JPGAnd in the auto-erotic horn-tooting department, my other favorite memoir moment of the week comes from Memoirville. First-time writer and former meth addict James Salant, 23, explains how he avoids the post-Frey fear by distinguishing between honesty and truth-telling. It’s a level of subtlety and maturity that might surprise you, had you started reading the interview with the last question. Yowch!

The Story of Lenny (and All of Us)

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Lenny.jpgI have worked my friend Lenny into many of my own stories for as long as I have been writing professionally. Guys like Lenny are what writers live for, both for the reported adventures and for the ideas you bounce off him in a schvitz. We’ve known each other for 20 years; I’ve watched him go from cheese-fry-eating deadhead stoner engineering major to no-percent-body-fat rock climbing, rocket science dad. He’s one of the funniest people on the planet, and a natural storyteller (my wife thinks his riffs on life could single-handedly catapult podcasts into America’s consciousness). There are days when Lenny comes across as the luckiest, happiest man alive (”Dude, I Leo_Eve.jpgjust got back from climbing in Yosemite, my wife turned a box of vegetables into food, and my kid basically looked happy to see me”); there are times when he’s one morose motherfucker (”Yeah, I figured I’m never going to have as much fun as I used to, so I just stopped trying.”).

The way Lenny tells his life story sets the tone for both how the world views him and how he views himself. (His six-word memoir: “Climbing, porn, crack, science. Still bored.”) Most of Lenny’s friends think he’s so totally The Man (cool wife, cute kid, great job, phat house in San Francisco, etc.). And that’s exactly the narrative we want him to follow. When he doesn’t, and gets down on himself (albeit in his own Woody Allen-esque way) we get kind of annoyed. Yet we also feed on it, because it’s part of what makes Lenny Lenny.

This Is Your Life (and How You Tell It) is a fascinating article in The New York Times about the role of storytelling is our lives, and its ability to shape our personalities. (more…)

A Smith by any other name…

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

IMG_1799.JPGI was at Trader Joe’s yesterday waiting in line when a worker named Dave came up to me and announced—loudly—that he had no idea Angelina Jolie shopped at TJ’s. I was mortified. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard the comparison. I once had an OBGYN tell me that my lips looked just like Angelina’s—and yes, it did beg the question, “which lips?,” as I had already assumed the position.

Truth be told, I don’t really look like Angelina Jolie. In fact, the only thing we have in common are our lips. We both have really fat, bee-stung pouts. So, what’s up you ask? Well, an article that appeared on asap may hold the answer:

Researchers at Miami University say some names are commonly associated with certain facial features, and that remembering others’ names has something to do with how close they match our preconceptions about how people with that label appear.

I guess the name “Kathy” doesn’t exactly evoke images of a hot, bi-curious, luscious-lipped movie star in the same way “Angelina” does.

You can read the entire piece here.

So, who do you look like?

Ed note: Kathie writes about her Ob-Gyn telling her she looks like Angelina here.

SMITH Magazine

SMITH Magazine is a home for storytelling.
We believe everyone has a story, and everyone
should have a place to tell it.
We're the creators and home of the
Six-Word Memoir® project.