the chairs are where the people go

I was thoroughly charmed by this article I found on line yesterday:

Paris Review – Harvard and Class, Misha Glouberman

I liked how the author goes to Harvard expecting it to be a place with interesting intelligent people then remembers that on Gilligan’s Island it’s Mister Howell that went to Harvard not the Professor.

I liked the article so much I downloaded a book by Glouberman which seems to have been released on Tuesday.

The Chairs are Where the People Go: How to Live, Work and Play in the City.

You’ll notice it’s co-written by Sheila Heti.  The article is actually an excerpt from this book which she also co-wrote.

Heti confesses she has always liked the way Glouberman speaks. She tried to write a book about him but decided that it would be better to simply let him talk and write that down. The result is this book.

Here’s a sample.

“I went to the gym pretty regularly for a long time, and it always felt so crazy to me. The gym is like the meeting point of all these different things that are emblematic of our time. It looks like the shopping mall and the factory, and it’s where our crazy desire to exert ourselves and work hard meets our crazy desire to be young forever, along with our crazy confusion about our appetites, and our imagining that we can subject everything to rational, super-mechanistic processes. Fifty years from now, if you wanted to pick something that encapsulates the old days of the early twenty-first century, you’d show the gym. “

The chapters so far are short. It’s an excellent choice for summer reading for me.

Yesterday I sat down and showed my grandson, Nicholas, all the major and minor triads on the piano. I did this by asking him to find them by ear. This is something I do with beginners in an effort to get them thinking and exploring the keyboard.

I read an apocryphal story about Handel in which he is supposed to have taught himself a great deal while sitting at a broken clavichord or harpsichord in an attic. I imagine him figuring out the chords and how music works by just sitting at the keyboard. I did a lot of this as a kid myself, although I’m obviously no Handel.

I encourage people to use their ears when they are doing this kind of exploring. It seemed to work with Nicholas yesterday.

I also showed my grand-daughter, Savannah, how to identify the notes on the keyboard by name. “Play all the two black key groups. Play all the three black key groups. See the two black key group?  They are like a hot dog bun and the white key in the middle is the hot dog. It’s a D. Play all the Ds.”

And so on. I did the same thing with Nicholas when he was younger.

This sort of thing is not necessarily something kids remember or retain but it’s fun. And it situates learning squarely where I think it belongs: in play.

It’s my understanding that humans (and chimps and apes and monkeys) learn by playing.

Read this book years ago.


The Washington Monthly – The Magazine – The Lions of Lagos, the Rotarians of Rawalpindi

That’s “Lions” like “Rotarians.”

While Americans abandon the idea of community, others in the world are reaching for it.


Theodore Roszak, ’60s Expert, Dies at 77 –

I never became a hippie until I was well into my forties. By this I mean that was when younger people began calling me one. This was not how people talked then. At least not the people I knew. Living through the 60s was so different than the current popular image of it. Roszak definitely articulated many of the interesting aspects of being alive (in general) with his books. I don’t think of him as a good writer particularly. But still I read him.


Counties Propose Secession in the Name of South California –

Jeff Stone, one of the guys behind this idea is the head of the county agency where my son works in the Mental Health services.

Hard to say what all of this is about. Americans thrive on anger these days.

“The politics of victimhood are very powerful,” said Shaun Bowler, a political science professor at the University of California, Riverside. Mr. Stone’s effort taps into an angry undercurrent among many conservatives in the eastern part of the state. “People have been mad for a long time. They seem to have a sense that if they keep shouting louder that they are right that they will convince the rest of the state that they are right.”

A state government spokesperson, Gil Duran, pointed out “that the area Mr. Stone wants to peel off collects more money from the state than it generates.”

This is the area I’m staying right now. Last night my daughter-in-law, Cynthia, took the scenic route home from supper. It was just twilight. The waning light was diffused gently on the surrounding mountains while we descended into the valley where they live. The full moon shone on the opposite side of the sky. When I visit here, I always think it is a breath-takingly beautiful area.


Why Taxes Will Rise in the End – David Leonhardt –

A desire to return to the good old days “depends on a misunderstanding of the budget. It imagines a budget in which the United States indefinitely has the world’s highest medical costs, its largest military, an aging population and, nonetheless, taxes that are among the world’s lowest. Economists have a name for that combination: a free lunch.”


Creative License: how the hell did sampling get so screwed up and what the hell do we do about it? – Boing Boing

By Cory Doctorow, one of my heroes.


A Pathway Out of the Debt Crisis –

“The House speaker, John Boehner, said Tuesday that the debt ceiling was the president’s problem, as if Mr. Obama alone had cut taxes, started wars, expanded Medicare and bailed out Wall Street. Republicans are no less complicit in running up the nation’s borrowing; they simply do not want to pay the bills now that they have come due.”


Monkeys Don’t Do Fair Use; News Agency Tells Techdirt To Remove Photos

I found this story quite funny. Also some of the comments are very witty.

Presidential Historian and Colleague Arrested in Theft of Documents in Maryland By SABRINA TAVERNISE

This is either funny or sad, can’t figure out which.


Visa Delays Put Iraqis Who Aided U.S. in Fear by Tim Arango

I’m against war generally. But I think it’s wrong to abandon people who helped us while we were there. Reminds me of the situation of South Vietnamese people I have known. Sometimes siding with the U.S. can be bad for your health especially when they won’t evacuate you from the country where you have helped them.


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