Tag: art

Activites and suggestions for COVID-19 coronavirus quarantine time

I’ve been compiling a list of things we can do together while living apart. I’ll keep this updated! Stay safe, miss you, but there are lots of ways we can keep socializing while maintaining a healthy distance. These are just a few of the things I’m trying.

Virtual Social Activity and Work Ideas

  • Regular on-nomi (digital happy hours with friends)
  • Weekly virtual TED Women in Tech happy hours on BlueJeans/Zoom (h/t Claire)
  • Virtual Pomodoro sprints with Superorganizers on Zoom (h/t Dan Shipper)
  • From tinyletter writers: We’re All Stuck At Home But We Can Still Be Brilliant – a Google Sheets collection of personal projects that can be done at home
  • Virtual book clubs – one method is Book Club by Numlock, but lots of fun manual ways to do this too!
  • Play Codenames board game – free online – Codenames Green
  • Netflix Party Chrome Browser Extention to watch Netflix with friends Netflix Party
  • Create a Slack private instance for asynchronous group chatting with friends!
  • Daily noon meditation on the Waking Up app (free 30 day trial) with a group of tanguero friends (h/t to Avik and Robin) – you can create a group on the app to facilitate regular meditation.
  • Daily writing prompts as a group!
  • Learning fun choreography virtually (yesterday we worked on Ciara’s Level Up)
  • Cook new recipes!

The Arts

Free Exercise / workout offers

Wellness / Mental Health

Addendum March 22, 2020:

From all of us at TED:

  • TED is running a daily series of conversations with wise minds such as Bill Gates, Susan David, and Gary Liu.
  • TED Ed at home is launching to support students, parents, and teachers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sign up to stay updated.
  • TED Circles allows you to watch TED Talks and engage with your friends 100% virtually!

let it be absolutely winter

In February, it is too cold to meander: leisure takes a backseat to power walking through gallery openings. The wind rips through my hat but I try to find the beauty too, like the coziness of being outside looking into a window lit with warm light, watching other people drink cheap champagne and discuss art. There is a German word for this feeling, I am sure of it. The art-goers are nibbling on Chex Mix and in any other setting, the Chex Mix would be cheap but against the backdrop of nocturnal art and winter, it looks like the best damn snack in the world.

I frequent basement jazz clubs more often in the winter. Our coats strain against the random hooks scattered across the walls. This coats-on-hooks thing is uniquely wintry, something I had never experienced before in Texas. The constant scramble to make sure you have all the accessories at the end of the night: Scarf? Hat? Gloves? Multiple sweaters? I’m still not used to it. The orange-brown hue of Old Fashioned drinks illuminated by candles that blow out every few minutes from the opening door. The way the saxophone wraps itself around you like a purring animal – all of this, this can’t be replicated in the heat.

A few months ago, E. texted me that he was out buying a snow blower with his brother-in-law. I responded, “Wow, that’s New England AF.” E.’s response: “…Rose, we don’t live in New England.” (“She’s smart, I swear,” I heard him whisper later. I did deserve that.) Living most of my life in the very southern part of the country insulated me from having to know where “New England” really is, or definitively what the demarcation is. Not that if you had asked me to think about it I really would have made the mistake, but it was an honest snap retort that made us laugh later. I just think of New England as The Place Where There Is Cold Winter. And The Need For Snow Blowers.

It doesn’t ever get easier. Not this season, not these feelings, not this cold. But the light changes, yes. Or, how we see the light. Or how we use it, sometimes even to our delight.

AK asks me if I’ve been writing, and it’s hard to answer that sometimes life moves too quickly for writing. It moves at the pace of note-taking, frantic scraps. Fragments I scribble even when my fingers are freezing in the tunnels of wind. Poems I write down to think about later.

Speaking of the winter and New England, I can’t stop thinking about this:

Part of Me Wanting Everything to Live

This New England kind of love reminds me
of the potted chrysanthemum my husband
gave me. I cared for it faithfully,
turning the pot a quarter turn each day
as it sat by the window. Until the blossoms
hung with broken necks on the dry stems.
Cut off the dead parts and watched
green leaves begin, new buds open.
Thinking the chrysanthemum would not die
unless I forced it to. The new flowers
were smaller and smaller, resembling
little eyes awake and alone in the dark.
I was offended by the lessening,
by the cheap renewal. By a going on
that gradually left the important behind.
But now it’s different. I want the large
and near, and endings more final. If it must
be winter, let it be absolutely winter.

― Linda Gregg

Esperanza Spalding, James Baldwin, and The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity

I was walking home listening to the amazing Esperanza Spalding on a recent episode of the Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! podcast (start at 20:00). She made double entendres about playing bass. She talked about how she started out playing the violin, and then tells us how she found her way to her one true love:

Esperanza: “When I saw that bass, I [knew] that’s what I wanted the whole time.”

P: “What drew you to playing the bass?”

Esperanza: “Nothing that I can recall. But the sound is tremendous, you know, it sits on your hip bone, and it vibrates your skeleton, and it’s like, kind of musically orgasmic. It’s incredible, I have to confess… It’s purely for self-interest of pleasure.”

P: “What’s crazy is… that’s the dirtiest thing anyone’s said on public radio and it’s all totally allowable.”

Esperanza: “I can start a hotline where people can call in and we talk about jazz…”

I found my way online and saw her recommendation to listen to James Baldwin’s The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity. The reading brought a lump to my throat. I couldn’t find the complete transcription online (outside of reading The Cross of Redemption available on Google Books), so for kicks, since I have to work hard to maintain my fast typing speed from the days of 10 simultaneous AOL chat windows and Mavis Beacon games, I typed out an excerpt that I found particularly compelling.

I really don’t like words like “artist” or “integrity” or “courage” or “nobility.” I have a kind of distrust for all of those words because I don’t really know what those words mean. Any more than I really know what such words such as “democracy” or “peace” or “peace-loving” or “warlike” or “integration” mean.

And yet, one is compelled to recognize that all these imprecise words are kind of attempts made by us all to get to something which is real and which lives behind the words. Whether I like it or not, for example, and no matter what I call myself, I suppose the only word for me when the chips are down is that I AM an artist.

There IS such a thing. There IS such a thing as integrity. Some people ARE noble. There IS such a thing as courage. The terrible thing is that all of these words, the reality behind these words, depend ultimately on what the human being, meaning every single one of us, believes to be real.

The terrible thing is that all these words, the reality behind them, depend on choices one has got to make forever and ever and ever, every day.

I am not interested really in talking to you as an artist.

It seems to me, that the artist’s struggle for his integrity is a kind of metaphor, must be considered as a metaphor for the struggle, which is universal and daily, of all human beings on the face of this terrifying globe to get to become human beings.

It is not your fault, it is not my fault, that I write. I would never come before you in the position of a complainant for doing something that I must do.

What we might get at this evening, if we are lucky, if the mic doesn’t fail, if my voice holds out, if you ask me questions, is what the importance of this effort is.

It would seem to me that, however arrogant this may sound, I want to suggest two propositions.

The first one is, that the poets, by which I mean all artists, are finally the only people who know the truth about us. Soldiers don’t. Statesmen don’t. Priests don’t. Union leaders don’t. Only poets. That’s my first proposition. We know about the Oedipus complex not because of Freud but because of a poet who lived in Greece thousands of years ago. And what he said then about what it was like to be alive is still true, in spite of the fact that now we can get to Greece in something like five hours and then it would have taken I don’t know how long a time.

The second proposition is really what I want to get at tonight. And it sounds mystical, I think, in a country like ours, and at a time like this when something awful is happening to a civilization, when it ceases to produce poets, and, what is even more crucial, when it ceases in any way whatever to believe in the report that only the poets can make. Conrad told us a long time ago (I think it was in “Victory,” but I might be wrong about that): “Woe to that man who does not put his trust in life.” Henry James said, “Live, live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.” And Shakespeare said — and this is what I take to be the truth about everybody’s life all of the time — “Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.” Art is here to prove, and to help one bear, the fact that all safety is an illusion.

I highly recommend reading more about James Baldwin. Brain Pickings has some amazing highlights.

“Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.”

“You’re playing the game according to somebody else’s rules, and you can’t win until you understand the rules and step out of that particular game, which is not, after all, worth playing.”