Month: February 2019

Entering Sadr City on Report of Troops in Contact, Fortune, and Muscle Memory by Steven Croft

Installment 42 deploys vehicles (and readers) into position for military action. At once beautiful and terrifying, Steven Croft’s evocative images and tactile cadences put us in the driver’s seat of unfathomable journeys.  *** Entering Sadr City on Report of Troops in Contact Long after the sun’s fireball drops behind the edge of the desert, the sand still sweats heat onto invisible winds.  A quarter moon spins its shadows around mud brick houses, the base of a minaret that looms. I stand in the turret of a Humvee that’s been out all day, the chest-high iron circle of its opening...

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On Atonement

When I was a growing up, my mother used to tutor one of my brother’s high school friends in English. J.P. was a sweet kid, if a little rough around the edges, and he needed a little more help with his schoolwork that his parents could provide. So there he’d be, two evenings a week in our dining room, going through spelling and reading drills. He really appreciated all the help, and one evening, as he headed out the door, he offered this compliment with a friendly, open smile: “There are two kinds of Jews: there are rich Jews...

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Popularity Contest

You know what amazes me the most about this blog?  That this is consistently my most popular post.  It is almost five years old, and yet, every week, there it is either at the top of my most read list, or in close 2nd or 3rd.  It’s not my most interesting post nor is the best written.  But there you have it. Source: Matthew...

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Gaudí’s Essential Hut

  El Xalet de Catllaràs is a mountain refuge by Antoni Gaudí completed in 1905 for workers of the Asland cement company owned then by Eusebi Güell, Gaudí’s principal patron. It is situated in the foothills of the Catalan Pyrenees at an altitude of almost 1400 m. Getting there requires hiking (or mountain-biking) 10 km uphill along a forest trail out of the small rural town of La Pobla de Lillet (where Gaudí also designed a private garden for the textile industrialist Joan Artigas). The refuge sits all by itself on a small plateau in a clearing in the forest; a context that is radically different from the rest of Gaudí’s oeuvre. No tacky souvenir shops; no fast food joints whatsoever. When I went there with my hiking buddies on a recent weekend, there was nobody else to be seen anywhere for miles. Together with the snow and freezing cold temperature, it felt almost like being back in Canada. Indeed, at first sight, Gaudí’s 1905 refuge is reminiscent of those 1950s North American “A-frame” cabins that are also typically situated in forests, except that Gaudí’s “A” has a rounded apex as well as curved stems, and is not a frame structure at all, but a masonry vault based on the geometry of a catenary or funicular, which Gaudí experimented with throughout his career. Despite their structural differences, both the North American...

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Commenting Policy

Whenever I write about racism, white privilege, feminism, etc., I get a slew of comments from usually anonymous trolls calling me every name you can imagine.  And then I get some comments from people who may or may not be using their real names, almost always identifying themselves as white, who complain that the world is racist against them.  Or white men complaining that the world is sexist against them.  And so on.  Usually, these comments also include a series of ad hominem attacks on me. I can handle the abuse, I’m a big boy.  But I will not approve comments that include racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, misogynistic commentary.  Nor will I approve comments that are nothing more than insults. You don’t like it?  Too bad.  Go read something else. Source: Matthew...

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