On my to-do list: re-listen to Terry Gross’ interview with Paul Schrader and Ethan Hawke about “First Reformed”


Probably a month ago, I heard bits and pieces of the NPR show Fresh Air. It was an interview with Filmmaker Paul Schrader and actor Ethan Hawke about a movie Schrader wrote and directed called “First Reformed.” You can listen to it here.

You’d know Schrader from the movies he wrote: “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull.” He also wrote the script for “The Last Temptation of Christ,” one of my favorite books and movies.

Schrader has reached 70 years and decided that after a long career of purposefully staying away from the topic of religion, it was time to maybe pursue it.

Apparently Schrader and I share some similarities. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, deep in the heart of the Dutch Reformed Church. My dad is a Dutchman, immigrated to Grand Rapids as a teen and comes from the reformed tradition. My mom grew up in Grand Rapids as well.

We all had very religious upbringings.  Continue reading

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Inspirational music, music video and dance moves of the day


My brother-in-law posted this music video for the new release from Chaka Khan.

It’s so rad, I can’t even …

Chaka Khan hasn’t released an album in over seven years. Damn, this song and video are tight.

Phew. The summer just got hotter.

Fostering a culture of Carrorism and doing conscious acts of kindness


About a year ago, I was moved by the social media updates of a model friend of mine named Nasreen Ameri. Her posts were usually about new work or travel associated with her amazing career. She traveled back and forth to New York City. She worked all over, seemingly all the time.

In what appeared to be an abrupt move, she left her successful modeling career to lead a movement of a philosophy she created. Then her posts were photos of heart shapes she found everywhere: in the concrete, in fruit, leaves, laundry, strings, etc.

She shared the images and coupled them with words of encouragement and kindness.

In a landscape infiltrated by acts of terrorism, Nasreen decided the world needed a new look on the old concept of do-gooderism.

She discovered that there was no word in the English dictionary for the opposite of terrorism. So she called her movement “Carrorism” and set her sights on doing conscious acts of kindness and encouraging those behaviors in others.

This struck me. I needed this movement. I loved it. It was so positive. It was a breath of fresh air.

Like most people last year and this one, my energy was sucked dry by the constant barrage of negative news, the endless Trumpian tweets, the incessant news coverage a country so divided by politics and humanity that it became almost impossible to keep a level head about life.

In person, most of us treat everyone else with compassion and empathy. But online, there seems to be a constant battle of who can post the stupidest meme calling “the other side” the dumbest possible person in existence.

I grew up in an evangelical Christian area of the southeast, and I was in love with Christianity as a young person through my early 20s. Nasreen’s philosophy, despite how great it is, would have been demonized by the leaders of my youth. There’s only one way to live, and that’s as a Christian. Nasreen’s philosophy doesn’t include any of that. Not necessarily.

I’ve since left the faith of my youth, but I’ve maintained a lot of disciplines and do-gooderisms of that upbringing. Sometimes I think of myself as a better Christian than most Christians. I know, I’m pompous. The only difference is I don’t believe in the divinity of Christ, just the actions of doing right, at a near extreme cost.

Nasreen’s call for monetary support

In one post, I was struck by Nasreen’s call to help her with a monetary contribution or subscription to help her on a monthly basis. I sat slumped in my chair, because that kind of donation wasn’t in the cards. But I wanted to help.

I slept on it, and I woke up thinking: I will do a documentary on her, for her, about her.

The idea was simple at first, but once production started, it became a bigger project. It was also a very expensive project. I ended up damaging a vintage car during one day of shooting, that threw off my game and I screwed up the settings on my A camera as a result of being completely flustered.

But the production continued. It was difficult not to have a positive attitude when around Nasreen. She constantly finds the positive in all situations. We need

I could honestly do full-length documentary about her.

In free time, I produced this video. I hope you take a look and I hope you enjoy it.

 

Why won’t you tolerate my intolerance?


Intolerance is all the rage!

It turns out that when you come to a multicultural cosmopolitan city with an open agenda of white supremacy, patriarchy and anti-urbanism, the native population tends not to like you. When you compound bigoted viewpoints with cruel and inhumane policies like family separation as a deterrent to reduce the percentage of American Hispanic population, you may find yourself unwelcome at Mexican restaurants. It turns out that when your sexual politics are built around retrograde beliefs in male dominance and superiority, empowered women (and decent men) don’t want to have sex with you.

The irony for conservatives here is that this is freedom of association. Conservatives have long argued for shibboleths like “states’ rights” and “religious freedom” as a code for giving bigots the power to refuse to serve and share space with racial and religious minorities, to refuse to bake cakes for gay weddings and make plates for black diners. Largely through the courts, America has rejected these arguments because minorities are protected classes who deserve freedom from discrimination–and conservatives have whined about these restrictions on their “freedom” of association in this respect for decades.

Read the rest of this editorial here.

Trumpists Are Suffering the Free Market Consequences Of Being Deplorable
by David Atkins

14 Habits of Highly Miserable People


1. Be afraid, be very afraid, of economic loss. In hard economic times, many people are afraid of losing their jobs or savings. The art of messing up your life consists of indulging these fears, even when there’s little risk that you’ll actually suffer such losses. Concentrate on this fear, make it a priority in your life, moan continuously that you could go broke any day now, and complain about how much everything costs, particularly if someone else is buying. Try to initiate quarrels about other people’s feckless, spendthrift ways, and suggest that the recession has resulted from irresponsible fiscal behavior like theirs.

Fearing economic loss has several advantages. First, it’ll keep you working forever at a job you hate. Second, it balances nicely with greed, an obsession with money, and a selfishness that even Ebenezer Scrooge would envy. Third, not only will you alienate your friends and family, but you’ll likely become even more anxious, depressed, and possibly even ill from your money worries. Good job!

Exercise: Sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and, for 15 minutes, meditate on all the things you could lose: your job, your house, your savings, and so forth. Then brood about living in a homeless shelter.

Read the rest of the 13 ways to be miserable here.

Imagining outer space


More below and can be found here.

Helios considers what the uncharted territories of outer space might look like. It was created as a passion project in my basement studio using various liquids and chemicals. It is staged as an audiovisual stimulus inspired by the aesthetics of vintage NASA space travel.

Having spent my entire childhood in an area lacking both basic infrastructure and light pollution, I developed an escapist obsession for watching the night sky and contemplating. I would constantly get on people’s nerves asking: “What do the limits of the universe look like? And what’s behind that?”

This is how I imagined it.

Music: Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto – Transition
Audio: Mission Audio from the Apollo 11, Day 3
SFX: Electromagnetic vibrations from Mars pulsating in various wavelenghts mapped as sound.

The thrill of abandon


In a little bar in New York City back in 2012, our friends Becky and Luis sat with Tina and I over a couple of drinks and we discussed a dream possibility of staying at their friend’s farm house in the Loire Valley of France. They said the farm house was offered up for stay at next-to-nothing rates.

Becky and Luis brought it up.

T & I latched on like leaches.

It was one of those discussions that usually turn into a whole lot of nothing. The home was owned by their friend’s family.

Tina and I didn’t let it go. And we reached out to the couple and asked a few times, “Do you think we could really stay in that farm house?”

Between 2008 and 2012, Tina and I didn’t travel much. But that trip triggered a full-on travel bug infection.  Continue reading