Editors’ Blog

The Tenement Museum’s Treasury of Stories

June 30th, 2010 by Patrick Wong

There isn’t a better story than history itself: relatable characters, a well-crafted story, and one hopes, truth.

As the old but good saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words (or about 166 Six-Word Memoirs), which is why we’re loving the Lower East Side Tenement Museum’s new online database of historical images. The Tenement Museum, a historical tenement building on 97 Orchard Street in New York City, has housed over 7,000 immigrants in a neighborhood that (until recent history’s hipster invasion), has been home to the poor and working class. The Tenement’s new online archive showcases over 1,300 photos of 97 Orchard Street and the people that lived there. The images are fully accessible and searchable, offering a rich history of the NYC’s Lower East Side.

Call for Submissions: The Great Postcard Skyline Project

June 8th, 2010 by Rachael Greenberg

We love an odd, passionate personal media project around here. This week, we’ve found a site that reaches across the web into the real world, specifically the world of postcards—a project that just might change the way college dorm rooms are decorated (sayonara Pulp Fiction poster).

Inspired by her love of postcards, Harvard sophomore Clara Y. has launched The Great Postcard Skyline Project. Her objective? To create a sprawling urban skyline against her dorm room wall. Her architectural medium? Postcards from different locations, common and obscure, sent from both the U.S. and abroad. Check out her list to see what spots on the map she’s missing (we know you’re out there Mississippi!)—Clara welcomes your contributions to her well-traveled skyline. If you do have a postcard to add, she lists her mailing address on her site, so you can send it the old-fashioned way.

Pekar Couture

May 27th, 2010 by Larry Smith

With Harvey Pekar’s 70th birthday fast approaching this past fall, SMITH comcs editor Jeff Newelt had a great notion: Let’s see if we can arrange for 70 artists who heart Harvey to each render a “Harvey Head”, and then surprise him on his big day. I thought Newelt was nuts to think he could coordinate 70 artists in what was literally under two weeks time. But Newelt got more than 100+ contributions, and the heads get rolling in—120 and counting. Now, we’re pleased to feature nine Pekar noggins on our new Pekar Project T-shirt, found on our sparkling new Spreadshirt shop. Not a T-shirt wearing type? Go for a Pekar Project hoodie.

Pekar has done what the Cleveland Times calls “some of his best work in years” with SMITH, and we’re so glad to have this wearable way to honor him and The Pekar Project. Read more »

Call for Submissions: How I Met Your Motherboard

April 23rd, 2010 by Chris Teja

If you were born around or before the early 1980s, chances are you remember not owning a computer. And, as shocking as this might sound to the current generation of technologically spoiled teenagers, this also means that you have very clear and fond memories of finally getting your first oversized, loud, beige colored testament to personal computing. For me, it was a 1993 Compaq Presario and countless hours spent on local pre-internet BBSes.

How I Met Your Motherboard, which comes from Jason Bitner, the co-creator of FOUND and creator of Cassette from My Ex, is a place to read and share stories of your first computer and to celebrate a time when computers were “strictly for the nerds.” After all, back before it was a given to be completely in tune with current technology, young computer nerds sacrificed their entire summer and paved the way for the rest of the world. HIMYM is a place to collaboratively tell this story of how that happened and to share your earliest computing memories.

The Extraordinary Life of Ella Mae Cheeks Johnson, age 106

March 30th, 2010 by Larry Smith

Above: a very moving video of Ella Mae Cheeks Johnson, the retired social worker who, at the age of 105, confined to a wheelchair, traveled from Cleveland to Washington, DC to witness Barack Obama take the oath of office on January 20, 2009. She died last week, March 24, at the age of 106.

Today is the publication of a book about her life, It Is Well with My Soul: The Extraordinary Life of a 106-Year-Old Woman by Ella Mae Cheeks Johnson with Patricia Mulcahy. Look for more on this amazing life story next week on SMITH.

Call for Six: Insprired by The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide by Becky Levine

March 26th, 2010 by Chris Teja

Forming a writing/critique group with other writers is something that all aspiring wordsmiths should do without hesitation. Whether it’s to get some honest feedback, give yourself a deadline, or just to hang around other creative types to get inspired -it just works. But how do you even get started putting something like that together you say? This is where Becky Levine’s The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide comes in. In this thoughtful book, Becky teaches you how to run a group that will be productive, encouraging, and stimulating for all involved.

So to get you started, we’d like to hear six-words on your writing process. Post your submission here in the comments and the top three will receive a copy of The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide.

SXSW Geek T-Shirt Photo Essay

March 19th, 2010 by Larry Smith

In what is now a SXSWi tradition, SMITH’s Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser took to the streets (oh fine, to the open bar) to document the oldest form of personal expression since cave painting, the witty T-shirt.

Know these nerds? Recognize your chest? Name ‘em, claim ‘em, tag them on Facebook, fave them on Flickr. And should you doubt the staying power of this series, Google image search nerdy girl—the one who isn’t naked is ours.

Quick links:
This year’s photos on Flickr.
This year’s photos on Facebook.
From the archives: our first geek tee photo essay.

“Turn off. Tune in. Chill Out.” — The Sabbath Manifesto

March 17th, 2010 by Larry Smith

As I decompress from a tech conference—a dizzying few days of true Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, blogging overload that I absolutely loved—I am especially looking forward to unplugging this weekend as a part of the “Sabbath Manifesto” (tagline: “Slowing down lives since 2010″). Sabbath Manifesto is sort of a “secular Sabbath,” a national day of unplugging from sundown, Friday, 3/19 to sundown, Saturday, 3/20. I don’t know a single person who couldn’t use a little unplugging in their life (with the possible exception of my dad who refuses to use a computer, and indeed may be the last person in America with a dictaphone), so I hope you’ll get on this bus and take a breather from the screens that suck up so much of our mental and physical energy.

Here are two short videos about this idea of why a “secular Sabbath” is both hard to achieve and so valuable for our sanity. The first one is from the organizers of the Sabbath Manifesto. The second is from filmmaker and Six-Word Memoirist Tiffany Shlain, who pays tribute to Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” with her take on chilling out, Yelp.

Call for Submissions: Six Minute Story: A Microfiction Experiment

March 11th, 2010 by Chris Teja

While we at SMITH are firm believers in using a restricted amount of words to get to the heart of a story, there’s something to be said for the idea of restricting the amount time used to compose a story (An idea that seems strangely familiar after a year of working at SMITH and correcting people referring to our “Six-Minute” Memoirs.)

Enter Six Minute Story: An experiment in Microfiction that aims to give its users an outlet for creating a unique short story in just six minutes. The process is exactly as easy as it sounds: Complete the short registration process, write for six minutes without over-thinking it, and just like that, anybody can be a published author. It’s a sentiment that we can definitely get behind.

Sites We Love: Dear Thyroid’s Six-Word Thygraphs

February 28th, 2010 by Chris Teja

Dear Thyroid provides a very unique kind of support for patients of thyroid diseases and thyroid cancers. As opposed to other support communities that might just list some facts and put you in touch with other people in the same situation, Dear Thyroid offers their readers a literary outlet for writing about their experiences.

A few weeks ago, Dear Thyroid editor Robyn Davis Hahn, just happened to be listening toTalk of the Nation and caught Larry and Rachel’s piece about our latest book of Six-Word Memoirs. And almost instantly, she composed the first six-word thyroid monograph, or thygraph: “Never the same again. Thanks, Thyroid!”  Read more »

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