politics

What more, in the name of love?

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/01/in-the-name-of-love/

The writer linked here sets out to examine a very real problem (the darker side of “Do What You Love” career advice), but draws too many initial conclusions from a noticeably selective interpretation of one famous man’s accomplishments. Mention of whom is almost certain to guarantee page views on a for-profit magazine’s web site.

The first half of this article is a careless conflation of selective paraphrases of a speech Steve Jobs once made (from which Ms. Tokumitsu omits exhortations of the value of hard work, which Jobs never avoided) with the broader marketplace of Chinese contract manufacturing and declining salaries for American middle-class knowledge workers. Blame is assigned to elitist privilege in a meandering attempt to find the origin of a very real decline in the value our culture and our business class assign to work.

She finally gets to the point about halfway through the piece. But she’s still avoiding what I understood was Jobs’ original intent in saying “DWYL”: find something you love to do enough to get good at it. Do it well enough so you can make a living off it. Yes, that still originates from a point of privilege and romanticized notions of how much leisure time remains in the lives of a shrinking middle class, but it’s not quite as tunnel-visioned as the article attempts to suggest.

H/T to Kellie M. Walsh for finding this article.

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spew, theater

On the loss of an important friend.

Today I learned that a dear, exceptional woman who got me into theater almost three decades ago, and lovingly supported some of the most creative work I’ve ever done — or may ever do — has died of a heart attack.

She was a friend I never learned very much about, but with whom I felt absolutely comfortable discussing my own faltering attempts at behavioral adulthood. I had few filters. She had many, covering reactions to my spew with a smile that said she preferred diplomacy to unfettered candor. Despite this, I rarely felt judged. I did feel support, though.

And she brought me in. She gave me little nudges towards performing in public, right when I needed them. At a time in my life when I sorely needed new ways to express some sort of creative impulse, she guided me towards the best efforts I’ve ever been part of. 

She was responsible for my first, awful steps as a shitty bit player in medieval-fair comedy skits. And later… for helping me believe I could do a lot more.

Were she still around, she could no doubt remember more details I’d want to relate. I’m not qualified to describe her achievements, except insofar as I never saw her play a part with anything less than full commitment, and I never worked alongside her with anything less than the total joy of unguarded collaboration.

This is unjust. I am so angry I can barely see the screen.

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design, technology

“Hello.”

HelloApple_550x337

The thirtieth anniversary of Apple’s Macintosh computer is an excellent opportunity to remind a special few of you about the things Apple has done for human beings who weren’t engineers or programmers, and about the things Apple did first, before commodity manufacturers could rewrite the history of consumer computing with trash-talk and gossip. That special few of you will include people who dismiss any technology that’s too easy to learn or that enables too many people who don’t build their own computers or write their own software.

You guys (and yes, almost all of you are and always have been guys, and you like it that way) were rarely helpful if you could instead find a way to be condescending, impatient, and ultimately dismissive. You provided object behavioral lessons for anyone who practices a specialty on how not to work with people outside of that specialty. You enjoyed being deferred to… way too much. You gave nerds a bad name and not a few of you are still doing your best to continue that sad tradition. Despite the fact that, year over year, fewer of the rest of us are asking for your opinions about anything.

Here’s something you weren’t remotely capable of doing while you castigated the Macintosh as a toy and treated its users like idiots:

Apple fundamentally enabled my chosen career, helped remove it from the toxic materials it had relied upon in previous generations, and gave it a wider creative scope than had ever been previously possible. And Apple did much of this while I was still learning about the field, so I could make active comparisons of how much their new technology had helped me improve my work… and remove a few carcinogens from the process.

Xerox, IBM, Compaq, Microsoft, and HP couldn’t have done that, and wouldn’t have wanted to.

Congratulations, Apple. And thank you, again.

http://www.apple.com/30-years/

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entertainment, Microscopic Septet, music

You Got That Right.

I’m almost certain I’ve told this story before, but it bears emphasis.

It’s been about thirty years since I realized I could go see some terrific live music in a venue that didn’t reduce me to a tiny dot in a vast sea of screaming quasi-humanity.

Instead, I could sit in a reasonably-sized room full of more-or-less well-behaved folks while formidably talented musicians blasted their genius in my direction, without need of amplification. And there was generally beer on hand, which didn’t hurt.

One of those groups of musicians stood out almost immediately. The group’s founders made their wit and erudition plainly obvious in a mid-1980s interview on WKCR I was lucky to have tuned in to hear. I heard excerpts from their latest album, and within weeks had thrust copies of it at several friends.

I’m grateful that The Microscopic Septet still occasionally perform together. I’m also happy to catch their individual efforts when I can. What a damned fine bunch of artists to be a fan of. And what a damned nice bunch of gentlemen. Rest assured that I am happily looking forward to their new CD release this spring.

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Uncategorized

Just do it right the first time.

I remember a temp print production gig in a previous decade, working at a small agency alongside a terrific designer who did elaborate print forms for a single big client that eventually took all their work in-house. This guy designed typefaces and did elaborate calligraphy, and I loved chatting with him about stuff like that.

As the new guy, I was tasked with making corrections to pieces that had already been set up, until such time as I could be trusted to make new stuff.

This guy’s form layouts were a dense thicket of impossibly overlapping tiny text boxes, tiny empty frames which only contained color, and tiny line objects. No paragraph styles to speak of. No indication that the designer had used the software’s capabilities to make repetitive work easier. All ad hoc. All inflicted pain.

Years later, I realized what that meant.

I’d very much like to think I’m leaving less of a mess for people who’ll someday have to work with the forms I’m constructing now.

For fuck’s sake.

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