Late Night Open Thread: Sign of the Times


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Was doing some housekeeping, and realized I hadn’t yet posted this. Artist Andres Serrano in the Guardian:

Sign of the Times was conceived in early October when I started to see what I perceived as a greater number of homeless people in New York City. As a native New Yorker, it surprised me because I had never seen so many people begging and sleeping on the streets. It occurred to me to start buying the signs that the homeless use to ask for money.

I immersed myself in the project, going out almost on a daily basis and walking five, six, seven hours a day. Once, I even walked 12 hours around the city – uptown to Harlem, East and West, downtown to Battery Park and back home to the East Village. I never took transportation anywhere because I felt that since the homeless live on the streets, I had to walk the streets like they do. After a while, a few said to me, “I’ve heard of you. You’re the guy going around buying signs. I was wondering if you were ever going to find me.” I bought about 200 signs and usually offered $20 which they were happy, even ecstatic, to get. (Once, though, I saw a sign that said, “Just need $10”. So I said to the guy, “I’ll give you $10 for it” and he said, “You got it. I guess the sign did its job!”)…



Harry Belafonte, Warrior for Justice

Deneen L. Brown, in the Washington Post:

Actor, singer and human rights advocate Harry Belafonte called on Phi Beta Sigma during the fraternity’s Centennial Founders’ Day Gala Saturday night in Washington to join a worldwide movement to end the violence and oppression against women

Belafonte, who is well known for his historical contributions to the civil rights movement, was keynote speaker during the gala at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington. Earlier that night, Belafonte was inducted as an honorary member into the fraternity, one of the largest men’s organizations in the world.

“My contribution as a new member of the fraternity is to sucker all of you into coming with me and man up and stand up. When the time comes, we will be in touch and you will be informed to join us in the this movement in the 21st century,” Belafonte told a crowd of more than 1,000 people. “Let us use this century to be the century where we say we started the mission to end the violence and oppression of women.”

Belafonte, 86, who for more than 70 years has fought against racial oppression, recently created an organization called Sankofa Justice & Equity Fund, a nonprofit focused on social justice and helping marginalized people throughout the world…

Activists are “gathering now to say, ‘Man up. All men who are stepping into this moment to say, ‘We will accept the responsibility for what we have done in the abuse of women and we acknowledge that abuse and we are here to declare ourselves as the tenders to the future to never, ever let our children be the abusers of women in our lifetime.’ ”

The crowd rose in applause…

Back last November, Politico reported that Mr. Belafonte was stumping for Bill deBlasio, and severely wounding the tender fee-fees of the One Percenters:

… “Already we have lost 14 states in this union to the most corrupt group of citizens I’ve ever known,” Belafonte said at the First Corinthian Baptist Church, according to Capital New York. “They make up the heart and the thinking in the minds of those who would belong to the Ku Klux Klan. They are white supremacists. They are men of evil. They have names. They are flooding our country with money.

“They’ve come into to New York City,” Belafonte added. “They are beginning to buy their way in to city politics. They are pouring money into Presbyterian Hospital to take over the medical care system. The Koch brothers, that’s their name. Their money is already sewn into the fabric of our daily system, and they must be stopped.”…

May this great man live a thousand years, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable!



Gabby Giffords Is A Genuine Bad-Arse


Via the Washington Post. Apparently skydiving was one of the pleasures it was assumed Ms. Giffords would never again enjoy. Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane may not be my idea of a good time, but kudos to her for not letting a sadsack with a gun stop her. Yesterday, in the NYTimes:

…[T]hree years ago, dispatched to an almost certain death by an assassin’s bullet, I was allowed the opportunity for a new life. I had planned to spend my 40s continuing my public service and starting a family. I thought that by fighting for the people I cared about and loving those close to me, I could leave the world a better place. And that would be enough.

Instead, I’ve spent the past three years learning how to talk again, how to walk again. I had to learn to sign my name with my left hand. It’s gritty, painful, frustrating work, every day. Rehab is endlessly repetitive. And it’s never easy, because once you’ve mastered some movement or action or word, no matter how small, you move on to the next. You never rest.

I asked myself, if simply completing a normal day requires so much work, how would I ever be able to fulfill a larger purpose? The killing of children at the school in Sandy Hook a little over a year ago gave me my answer. It shocked me, it motivated me, and frankly, it showed me a path. After that day, my husband and I pledged to make it our mission to change laws and reduce gun violence in a way that was consistent with our moderate beliefs and our identities as proud gun owners. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, that special interests were arrayed against us, that congressional dysfunction was an enemy…

We will seize on consensus where it exists, on solutions big or small. We will fight for every inch, because that means saving lives. I’ve seen grit overcome paralysis. My resolution today is that Congress achieve the same. How? Step by step: Enhance enforcement by passing a law making gun trafficking a serious crime with stiff penalties. Make it illegal for all stalkers and all domestic abusers to buy guns. Extend mental health resources into schools and communities, so the dangerously mentally ill find it easier to receive treatment than to buy firearms. And even as we lay the groundwork for expanding background checks, pass strong incentives for states to ensure the background-check system contains the records of the most dangerous and violent among us…

Sure, it’ll never give Mark Halperin a glow in his tire-swing neurons (unlike watching a Repub yell at teachers or throw his subordinates under the bus), but who would you rather have on your side?



Open Thread: “Everybody Thinks A Single Piece of Paper Is Very Limited”

Kristin Hohenadel, at Slate:

The Lucerne-based Sipho Mabona folded his first paper airplane at age 5 and has since made a career producing stunning origami animals, roses, human figures and insects, among other more abstract creations. He has shown his work and taught origami workshops around the world.

Now the 33-year-old artist is appealing to Indiegogo’s crowdfunding angels to help him realize his ambition of folding a life-size elephant out of a single sheet of 50 x 50 meter (164 x 164 foot) paper. (So far he’s raised $13,843 of his $24,000 goal with 3 weeks to go.) Mabona says his aim is to show what a single sheet of paper can do by using it to create a replica of one of the world’s most imposing land-dwelling creatures.

Mabona told me by phone that he developed the pattern for the elephant in about a month, a process that was sped up by having already worked out how to make patterns for origami tigers, bears and rhinos. He said that his process is a combination of precise geometry and artistic intuition. To make a work of origami, he makes all the folds in the paper before refolding along the creaselines to assemble a finished 3D object. The beauty of a piece of paper with intricate creaselines has also inspired him to produce crease patterns as wall art and ceramic plates…

I’ve been fascinated by origami since before the American Museum of Natural History started their annual Origami Holiday Tree (even though I never got beyond the basic folds). This project just tickles me, which is, of course, the intention of its creators.



Long Read: “Shooting & Capturing”

Matika Wilbur deserves a better chronicler than Jen Graves (who, if you set her on fire, would burn to death self-debating the properly bias-free methodology in the present moment of calling for a bucket of water), but kudos to Seattle’s Stranger for this article:

Matika Wilbur is the kind of photographer who calls ahead. She laughs loud and makes friends easily and sleeps on the couches and floors of her subjects… What she’s doing is spending several years—as long as it takes, and as long as the grant money and Kickstarter funds last—visiting and taking pictures of every Native American tribe in the United States.

She’s been traveling a year so far, at the wheel of her improbable black sports car, one woman following her own grand vision. But she’s also fulfilling what really is a communal mission: picturing Native America from the inside, for the first time. She’s trying to bring “image justice,” as one museum curator calls it, to the world of social justice. She is traveling long distances, sometimes to remote locations, but as a Native woman—she is of Swinomish and Tulalip descent, tribes near Seattle—each place is a version of her own home, and these are family portraits. She’s trying to find methods of shooting and capturing that don’t repeat her extended family’s history in real life of being shot and captured, restricted and suffocated within artificial borders and frames.

By the end of the first year, she has thousands of pictures and has visited almost 200 tribes, but she also has more than 300 tribes to go and much more money to raise. If anyone can do this—and it’s a fair question to ask whether anyone can—Wilbur is the one. From her childhood of being bused from Swinomish across a tiny channel to attend a white school in La Conner, to her teenage years of addiction and recovery, to her early training and career as a fashion photographer who finally dropped out when she found herself on a meaningless and exorbitantly expensive shoot in Malibu, she’s had more struggle and adventure than many 80-year-olds. Next year, she’s turning 30…

Subjects pick where they want to be photographed. Wilbur’s only request is that the location be within their indigenous lands. This can mean extreme circumstances, and Wilbur sometimes longs to return to the stability of studio photography. But for Project 562, she’ll take the picture anywhere, regardless of conditions. To get one shot, she rode a Natives-only helicopter down into the interior of the Grand Canyon. She followed another subject to the rim of Hawaii. At the ocean edge of Washington State, she waded with her camera, following twin brothers, into the frigid water on the sacred, private beach of the Quinault Tribe. On that freezing errand, she was assisted by a young volunteer named Coup Trudell, who held the portable light stand and its umbrella aloft as the waves crashed closer, the tide moved in, and the sun went down. Trudell’s father is John Trudell, the spokesman for the United Indians of All Tribes’ takeover of Alcatraz in 1969. This past summer, Wilbur photographed the Trudells on the street in the Mission District in San Francisco, where they live…

Click through, if only for the pictures