The DOP was redesigning the hubs and had a timeline to spend the money. They asked Jim Biber to do the job and he agreed and signed me on for the graphic component to redo signage and paperwork. We looked at the thing and said, “Listen, these people need art in the offices,” so we made a series of posters for the DOP. We thought it would be really awesome if the posters were inspiring and motivating and we made them tongue-in-cheek by playing off of existing inspirational posters.
This one is the eagle—we’ve all seen this. But our eagle says, “There are no shortcuts.” Then, each poster has a little warning. This one says, “Do the work. The process is everything. If you cheat it, you will compromise the transformation and come out the other side unchanged—a knucklehead.” The last part is, “If you don’t like doing the work the first time, you’re going to hate doing it again.” We wrote it in a cool, stern fatherly tone. Plus we made up fake logos to make it look legit.
[…] Vince Shiraldi, commissioner of NYC DOP, said that when they redid the first few resource hubs, the clients would get off the elevator, walk into the room, and turn around and walk out—they thought they were in the wrong place. Do you know why they do it? Because they are not used to being treated with respect.
After the project went up, we did some interviews about it and people asked me what research I did in preparation. Research? I didn’t do any fucking research. As Chris says, “They are us, except they got caught.” We all want to be rewarded and treated with respect.
I think what we have here is a working definition of an asshole — a person who demands that all social interaction happen on their terms.
We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is—if you’re
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
into your hair, blurring your vision
until you think you see your own brother
ahead of you, maybe ten places.
You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it’s someone else’s brother,
narrower across the shoulders than
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
that does not hide the stubbornness,
the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours of wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, “No,
we’re not hiring today,” for any
reason he wants. You love your brother,
now suddenly you can hardly stand
the love flooding you for your brother,
who’s not beside you or behind or
ahead because he’s home trying to
sleep off a miserable night shift
at Cadillac so he can get up
before noon to study his German.
Works eight hours a night so he can sing
Wagner, the opera you hate most,
the worst music ever invented.
How long has it been since you told him
you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
opened your eyes wide and said those words,
and maybe kissed his cheek? You’ve never
done something so simple, so obvious,
not because you’re too young or too dumb,
not because you’re jealous or even mean
or incapable of crying in
the presence of another man, no,
just because you don’t know what work is.
Not the bristle-bearded Igors bent
under burlap sacks, not peasants knee-deep
in the rice paddy muck,
nor the serfs whose quarter-moon sickles
make the wheat fall in waves
they don’t get to eat. My friend the Franciscan
nun says we misread
that word meek in the Bible verse that blesses them.
To understand the meek
(she says) picture a great stallion at full gallop
in a meadow, who—
at his master’s voice—seizes up to a stunned
but instant halt.
So with the strain of holding that great power
in check, the muscles
along the arched neck keep eddying,
and only the velvet ears
prick forward, awaiting the next order.
Jose Francisco Benitez Paz, [Yanira] Maldonado’s attorney, told a judge during a court hearing on Wednesday that she should be released from prison, noting that it was a fairly sophisticated smuggling effort that included packets of drugs attached to the seat bottoms with metal hooks — a task that would have been impossible for someone like Maldonado. ‘It was very well prepared,’ he said. ‘It wasn’t something quick. It was very well done.’
In an essay for The New Republic about the consequences of loneliness for public health, Judith Shulevitz reports that one in three Americans over 45 identifies as chronically lonely, up from just one in five a decade ago. “With baby boomers reaching retirement age at a rate of 10,000 a day,” she notes, “the number of lonely Americans will surely spike.”
There are public and private ways to manage this loneliness epidemic — through social workers, therapists, even pets. And the Internet, of course, promises endless forms of virtual community to replace or supplement the real. But all of these alternatives seem destined to leave certain basic human yearnings unaddressed. For many people, the strongest forms of community are still the traditional ones — the kind forged by shared genes, shared memory, shared geography. And neither Facebook nor a life coach nor a well-meaning bureaucracy is likely to compensate for these forms’ attenuation and decline.
This point is illustrated, richly, in one of the best books of the spring, Rod Dreher’s memoir, “The Little Way of Ruthie Leming,” an account of his sister’s death from cancer at the age of 42. […] What makes “The Little Way” such an illuminating book, though, is that it doesn’t just uncritically celebrate the form of community that its author rediscovered in his hometown. It also explains why he left in the first place: because being a bookish kid made him a target for bullying, because his relationship with his father was oppressive, because he wasn’t as comfortable as his sister in a world of traditions, obligations, rules. Because community can imprison as well as sustain, and sometimes it needs to be escaped in order to be appreciated.
In today’s society, that escape is easier than ever before. And that’s a great gift to many people: if you don’t have much in common with your relatives and neighbors, if you’re gay or a genius (or both), if you’re simply restless and footloose, the world can feel much less lonely than it would have in the past. Our society is often kinder to differences and eccentricities than past eras, and our economy rewards extraordinary talent more richly than ever before.
The problem is that as it’s grown easier to be remarkable and unusual, it’s arguably grown harder to be ordinary. To be the kind of person who doesn’t want to write his own life script, or invent her own idiosyncratic career path. To enjoy the stability and comfort of inherited obligations and expectations, rather than constantly having to strike out on your own. To follow a “little way” rather than a path of great ambition. To be more like Ruthie Leming than her brother.
Too often, and probably increasingly, not enough Americans will have what the Lemings had — a place that knew them intimately, a community to lean on, a strong network in a time of trial.
The gentrification of the heart paralyzes us.