Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed

Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed

“While Mr. [Vincent] Zandri celebrates Amazon as the best thing to happen to storytellers since the invention of movable type, many other writers are denouncing what they see as its bullying tendencies and an inclination toward monopoly.

From household names to deeply obscure scribblers, authors are inflamed this summer, perhaps more deeply divided than at any point in nearly a half-century. Back then, it was the question of being a hawk or dove on Vietnam. Now it is not a war but an Internet retailer and its unparalleled grip on the cultural machinery that is provoking fierce controversy.

At first, those in the publishing business considered Amazon a cute toy (you could see a book’s exact sales ranking!) and a useful counterweight to Barnes & Noble and Borders, chains willing to throw their weight around. Now Borders is dead, Barnes & Noble is weak and Amazon owns the publishing platform of the digital era.”

Excellent breakdown of the Amazon controversy. Why should you care? Because Stephen Colbert said so. Seriously, though – Amazon is a giant, and we should know who we’re buying cheap e-books from. (Not to mention every other household item; I’ll admit to buying bulk toilet paper, toothpaste & shaving cream, too.)

Interested in learning more? Fresh Air did a great interview with Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store, entitled One-Stop Shop: Jeff Bezos Wants You To Buy ‘Everything’ On Amazon. 

‘Orange’ Showrunner Jenji Kohan on Hollywood’s Pay Inequality, ‘F— You’ Money and Her ‘Friends’ Regrets

‘Orange’ Showrunner Jenji Kohan on Hollywood’s Pay Inequality, ‘F— You’ Money and Her ‘Friends’ Regrets

“It began at the family dinner table, where Kohan, the youngest of three, fought for attention among comedy giants — her father, Buz, a king of variety shows; her brother David, a creator of Will & Grace. As she entered her teens, she was the quirky misfit in a privileged Beverly Hills community. And later, when she joined the family business and wrote more than a dozen pilot scripts that never aired, she fought for recognition in a network system where she lacked both the commercial sense and the capacity — or desire — to be politic.

But as she sits on this day in her spacious office in the heart of Hollywood, news of Orange is the New Black’s 12 Emmy nominations — the biggest haul of any comedy contender — still fresh, it’s not hard to see that she finally has attained the respect and acclamation she has spent her lifetime chasing. And in the evolving landscape of premium television, where a Netflix dramedy can live as far out on the edge as her imagination does, Kohan has become the establishment.”

Anytime I can share a profile of a strong, fabulous, trailblazing, not to mention rainbow-haired woman, I will. Also, I find insider Hollywood stories irresistible.

Powerful Images That Shatter the Stereotype of the Absent Black Father

Powerful Images That Shatter the Stereotype of the Absent Black Father

Zun Lee said he is not only trying to shatter the stereotype of black men not being good fathers, but also the idea that black men are people to fear, something Lee said is obviously connected to racial profiling.

“Basically, the statement I’m making is the reasons people assume black fathers are absent are the same reasons people assume black men are threatening,” Lee said. “People say [when looking at his work] ‘These are not the men I thought would be affectionate,’ and it confuses them to see these men with tattoos and muscles as being nonmenacing.”

“I wanted to invite people in, to get curious about what’s going on and not hit them over the head with something overly political,” he added about his work. “At the same time, the very fact that I’m photographing black fathers in this manner is by its nature very political.”

Photography is such an amazing tool, as I’ve posted before. It breaks down barriers and forces people to see past preconceived notions. I was incredibly moved by these images, and I am so pleased to share them with you.

A man, a photo and the long search to find the person in it

A man, a photo and the long search to find the person in it  

See that guy? The one in the photograph. Worn work boots, yellow construction hat, hooded sweatshirt, purple winter jacket, broad shoulders, serious face, slumped forward, hands clasped, eyes locked on the stranger’s camera pointed at him.

That guy, who is he?

The photo provides a vague clue. Its caption reads: “I was Defensive Player of the Year.”

That could mean anything. High school. College. Professional. From 20 years ago. Ten. Five. Played linebacker. Defensive end. Cornerback.

That’s the genius in Humans of New York, a blog that features portraits of New Yorkers, so many hipsters and bankers, couples and their children and their grandparents, natives and immigrants, homeless and rich, tattooed and bearded and costumed. The portraits come with short descriptions, sometimes one sentence, sometimes four, just enough information to light cauldrons of speculation, to begin an exercise in collective fiction writing done by strangers on the Internet. The captions provide the beginning of the story. What you see in the picture is the rest of it.

This is a quiet story. It’s not flashy or dramatic; it’s simply a tale of trying to find someone, and what the search comes to mean for the man in the picture and the people searching for him. The story also asks the important question of why? Why do we care? Why do we need to know?

What’s your story?

A Toast Story

A Toast Story

At first, Carrelli explained Trouble as a kind of sociological experiment in engineering spontaneous communication between strangers. She even conducted field research, she says, before opening the shop. “I did a study in New York and San Francisco, standing on the street holding a sandwich, saying hello to people. No one would talk to me. But if I stayed at that same street corner and I was holding a coconut? People would engage,” she said. “I wrote down exactly how many people talked to me.”

The smallness of her cafés is another device to stoke interaction, on the theory that it’s simply hard to avoid talking to people standing nine inches away from you. And cinnamon toast is a kind of all-purpose mollifier: something Carrelli offers her customers whenever Trouble is abrasive, or loud, or crowded, or refuses to give them what they want. “No one can be mad at toast,” she said.

Carrelli’s explanations made a delightfully weird, fleeting kind of sense as I heard them. But then she told me something that made Trouble snap into focus. More than a café, the shop is a carpentered-together, ingenious mechanism—a specialized tool—designed to keep Carrelli tethered to herself.

I first heard this wonderful story in an episode of This American Life. [Sidenote: If you’re a fan of good storytelling, you need to be listening to This American Life. Like right now.] It begins as a complaint about how toast – like cupcakes before it – has turned into overpriced artisanal nonsense. So the writer goes on a journey to find the beginning of the trend, and he stumbles upon this amazing tale of perseverance that I dare your heart not be warmed by. Let this make you happy today.

Excerpt: Listen to the Squawking Chicken

Excerpt: Listen to the Squawking Chicken

I absolutely adore Lainey Gossip; I read it daily, faithfully, and thus am always in the know regarding the latest celebrity gossip. Elaine Lui takes gossip very seriously, and her analysis is what makes her website so worthwhile. Check out her TEDx Talk; her stories are all about the background, more about the whys and less about the whats.

Anyway, she’s written a book called Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What’s a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of), and this article gives you a bit of an interview, along with an excerpt of the book.

So really, this is just me pimping out one of my favorite websites, as well as me expressing my excitement about an upcoming book. I hope you’ll forgive the indulgence!

On Being an Abortion Doula

On Being an Abortion Doula

Robinson is one of over 20 volunteers for The Doula Project, a New York City-based nonprofit organization. The organization was started in 2007 as a way to provide caregivers to women undergoing abortions. In the words of the project’s mission statement, their doulas offer “all of the benefits of what is typically known to be the territory of birth doulas: pain management and relaxation techniques, information and education about pregnancy, and above all, emotional support and empathy.”

In 2009, the project expanded to encompass birth-work as well, though the majority of their clients are still women terminating pregnancies.

Such a wonderful, thoughtful interview. I am amazed and inspired by Annie Robinson’s wisdom and courage.

Thanks to Sarah for the link, and for understanding me so well.