Italians’ Nightly Singalongs Prove That Music Soothes the Savage Beast of Coronavirus Quarantine & Self-Isolation

It’s not like we’re maestros…it’s a moment of joy in this moment of anxiety. —Emma Santachiara, Rome

As reported by The New York Times, Ms. Sanachiara, age 73, has joined the vast choir of ordinary Italians taking to their balconies and windows to participate in socially distant neighborhood singalongs as coronavirus rages through their country.

The Internet has been exploding with messages of support and admiration for the quarantined citizens’ musical displays, which have a festive New Year’s Eve feel, especially when they accompany themselves on pot lids.




Three days ago, Rome’s first female mayor, Virginia Raggi, called upon residents to fling open their windows or appear on their balconies for nightly 6pm community sings.

A woman in Turin reported that the pop up musicales have forged friendly bonds between neighbors who in pre-quarantine days, never acknowledged each other’s existence.

Naturally, there are some soloists.

Tenor Maurizio Marchini serenaded Florentines to "Nessun Dorma," the famous aria from Puccini's opera Turandot, repeating the high B along with a final Vincerò!, which earns him a clap from his young son.

In Rome, Giuliano Sangiorgi, frontman for Negramaro, hit his balcony, guitar in hand, to entertain neighbors with Pino Daniele’s 1980 hit "Quanno Chiove" and his own band’s "Meraviglioso."

Earlier in the year, the 11 million residents of Wuhan, China, the deadly epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, also used music to boost morale, singing the national anthem and other patriotic songs from their individual residences. Jiāyóu, or “add oil,” was a frequent exhortation, reminding those in isolation to stay strong and keep going.

Readers, are you singing with your neighbors from a safe distance? Are they serenading you? Let us know in the comments.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Like most of us in this crazy, historic period, all of her events have been cancelled. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

10 Rules of Self Discipline from the 1930 Self Help/Business Guru Napoleon Hill

It seems ridiculous to refer to the Golden Rule as a “weapon,” but that is just what it is—a weapon that no resistance on earth can withstand! —Napoleon Hill

Napoleon Hillwhose early books The Law of Success (1928), The Magic Ladder To Success (1930), and Think and Grow Rich (1937) helped establish the self-help genrewould be considered a life coach or motivational speaker in today’s parlance.

And were he alive today, he’d likely he’d be facing charges, or at the very least, cancelled for some of the behaviors, schemes, and whoppers Matt Novak details in an exhaustively researched essay for Gizmodo’s Paleofuture blog.




We think it’s important to tip you off to that shady side, because Hill's "10 Rules for Profitable Self Discipline," above, are so sunny, they could spur you to disseminate them immediately, leaving you vulnerable to harsh words from better informed friends and, more crucially, social media followers, who are already het up about any number of things in this election year, and who enjoy the catharsis a good call out affords.

Ergo, if you're inclined to share, investigate the well from which they sprung, and then decide whether or not you want to proceed.

Why did we proceed?

Because practiced with the purest of intentions, these rules constitute extremely humanistic advice from a man whose outward philosophy continues to be a touchstone for many in the business community.

And as evidenced by the comments left by grateful YouTube viewers, many of whom stumbled across his words by accident, people are thirsty for such explicitly positive guideposts to interpersonal dealings.

(A good number also seem quite taken with the Virginia native's old timey speech patterns and vintage lingo.)

If nothing else, applying these rules could sweeten your next argument with someone you love, or serve as inspiration if you're ever called upon to give a commencement speech:

Napoleon Hill’s 10 Rules for Profitable Self Discipline

  1. Keep a cool head around hot heads. Rage doesn’t have to be contagious,.
  2. Believe that there are three sides to every argument. If you’re in a dust-up, don’t assume that the fault lays with the other person, but rather that you both shoulder a portion of the blame. This is a pretty compassionate way of ensuring that everyone’s ass will be partially covered for both better and worse.
  3. Never give directives to a subordinate when you are angry. Given that swift and decisive action is often required of those in leadership positions, you’ll have to learn to ice your own hot head pretty quickly to put this one into consistent play.
  4. Treat everyone as if they were a rich relative who might leave you a sizable inheritance. Which is kind of a gross way of putting it, but otherwise, we agree with Napoleon Hill that treating others with respect and loving attention is a real “honey” of a concept, especially if the other person can offer little beyond their friendship.
  5. When you find yourself in an unpleasant circumstance, immediately start searching for the seed of an equivalent benefit within the experience. If Novak’s Gizmodo essay is any indication, Hill probably had a lot of opportunity to put this one into practice, squeezing lemonade from lemons of his own making.
  6. Ask questions and listen to the answer. If you find yourself inclined to disagree with a statement, employ the phrase, “How do you know?” to get the speaker to do all the heavy lifting. For example, Napoleon Hill might say to Matt Novak, “How do you know?” which would be Matt Novak’s cue to produce a mountain of documentation.
  7. Never say or do anything before thinking if it will benefit someone or hurt them. The goal is to refrain from hurting others. Let those of us are without sin cast the first stone here. Hill’s karmic spin on this rule is that any injuries you cause that don’t immediately come around to bite you in the ass, will bite you in the ass much harder at some future point, a la compound interest.
  8. Learn the difference between friendly analysis and unfriendly criticisms. His not entirely foolproof method for distinguishing intent is to consider the nature of your relationship with the one offering the observations, their tone of voice, manner of delivery, and somewhat quaintly, whether or not they throw in any epithets. If it’s friendly, you can set some store by it. Otherwise, disregard.
  9. A good leader knows how to take orders cheerfully. This pairs nicely with Rule Number 3, don’t you think?
  10. Be tolerant of your fellow humans. Always.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join Ayun’s company Theater of the Apes in New York City  for her book-based variety series, Necromancers of the Public Domain, and the world premiere of Greg Kotis’ new musical, I AM NOBODY (March 5 - 28) Follow her @AyunHalliday.

The Photos That Ended Child Labor in the US: See the “Social Photography” of Lewis Hine (1911)

The average person believes implicitly that the photograph cannot falsify. Of course, you and I know that this unbounded faith in the integrity of the photograph is often rudely shaken, for, while photographs may not lie, liars may photograph.  —Lewis Wickes Hine, “Social Photography: How the Camera May Help in the Social Uplift” (1909)

Long before Brandon Stanton’s wildly popular Humans of New York project tapped into the public’s capacity for compassion by combining photos of his subjects with some telling narrative about their lives, educator and sociologist Lewis Wickes Hine was using his camera as a tool to pressure the public into demanding an end to child labor in the United States.

In a time when the US Federal Census reported that one in five children under the age of 16over 1.75 millionwas gainfully employed, Hines traversed the country under the auspices of the National Child Labor Committee, gathering information and making portraits of the underage workers.




His images, made between 1911 and 1916, introduced viewers to young boys breaking up coal in Pennsylvania mines, tiny Louisiana oyster shuckers and Maine sardine cutters, child pickers in Kentucky tobacco fields and Massachusetts cranberry bogs, and newsboys in a number of cities.

Their employers actively recruited kids from poor families, wagering that they would perform repetitive, often dangerous tasks for a pittance, with little chance of unionizing.

Hine was a scrupulous documentarian, labeling each photo with crucial information gleaned from conversations with the child pictured therein: name, age, location, occupation, wages, andhorrificallyany workplace injuries.

In an essay in the anthology Major Problems in the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, historian Robert Westbrook lauds Hines’ way of interacting with his subjects with “decorum and tact,” according them a dignity that few of the period’s “condescending” middle-class reformers did.

As the Vox Darkroom segment, above, explains, Hine’s formal compositions lent additional power to his images of smudged child workers posing in their places of employment. Shallow depth of field to ensure that the viewer’s eyes would not become absorbed in the background, but rather engage with those of his subject.

But it was the accompanying narratives, which he referred to variously as “picture stories” or “photo-interpretations,” that he credited with really getting through to the hearts and minds of an indifferent public.

The text prevented viewers from easily brushing the children off as anonymous, scruffy urchins.

Here for instance is “Manuel, the young shrimp-picker, five years old, and a mountain of child-labor oyster shells behind him. He worked last year. Understands not a word of English. Dunbar, Lopez, Dukate Company. Location: Biloxi, Mississippi.”

“Laura Petty, a 6 year old berry picker on Jenkins farm, Rock Creek near Baltimore, Md. 'I'm just beginnin.' Picked two boxes yesterday. (2 cents a box).”

"Angelo Ross, 142 Panama Street, Hughestown Borough, a youngster who has been working in Breaker #9 Pennsylvania Co. for four months, said he was 13 years old, but very doubtful. He has a brother, Tony, probably under 14 working. Location: Pittston, Pennsylvania."

Hine correctly figured that the combination of photo and biographical information was a “lever for the social uplift."

Once the pictures were published in Progressive magazines, state legislatures came under immense pressure to impose minimum age requirements in the workplace, effectively ending child labor, and returning many former workers to school.

View the entire collection of Lewis Hine's National Child Labor Committee photos here.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC this March, when her company, Theater of the Apes, presents the world premiere of Tony Award winner Greg Kotis’ new low-budget, guitar-driven musical, I AM NOBODY.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Use the “Eisenhower Matrix” to Manage Your Time & Increase Your Productivity: The System Designed by the 34th President of the United States

"What is important is seldom urgent," said Dwight D. Eisenhower, "and what is urgent is seldom important." Or at least many believe Eisenhower said that, even if he might have been quoting someone else. Whether or not the 34th President of the United States of America ever spoke those exact words, he must have had a highly effective method of dealing with life's tasks. During Eisenhower's two terms in office, writes Atomic Habits author James Clear, "he launched programs that directly led to the development of the Interstate Highway System in the United States, the launch of the internet (DARPA), the exploration of space (NASA), and the peaceful use of alternative energy sources (Atomic Energy Act)."

Eisenhower accomplished all that after "planning and executing invasions of North Africa, France, and Germany" as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II" (and while being the most avid golfer ever to reside in the White House).




Though we may never boast such a range of accomplishments ourselves, we can still inject a shot of Eisenhowerian productivity into our lives with the "Eisenhower Matrix" — or, in the plainer phrasing "Ike" might have preferred, the "Eisenhower Box."

Its vertical axis of importance and horizontal axis of urgency create four boxes for categorizing tasks. Clear explains these categories as follows:

  • Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately)
  • Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later)
  • Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else)
  • Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate)

Important tasks, writes Lifehacker's Thorin Klosowski, "are things that contribute to our long-term mission, values, and goals," pursuits that put us into a "responsive mode, which helps us remain calm, rational, and open to new opportunities." At Business Insider, Drake Baer provides examples of all four categories of tasks. The urgent and important include "attending to a crying baby, tackling a crisis at work, and mailing your rent check." The important but not urgent include "saving for the future, getting enough exercise, sleeping your seven to nine hours a night." The urgent but not important include "booking a flight, sharing an article, answering a phone call." The neither urgent nor important include "watching Game of Thrones, checking your Facebook, eating cookies."

Eisenhower had it easy, you may say: he lived before binge-watching, before social media, and before cookies were quite so addictive. Hence the greater importance today of a time-management system with the stark clarity of the Eisenhower Matrix, and not just for presidents. (Barack Obama, Baer points out, made time for dinner with the family when he was in the White House as well as an hour's workout every evening, both important but not urgent tasks.) So as not to lose sight of what's important, Clear recommends keeping in mind two questions: "What am I working toward?" and "What are the core values that drive my life?" And though Eisenhower didn't have to deal with nuisances like app notifications, he also didn't get to see the day when a productivity app (whose explanation of the Eisenhower Matrix appears at the top of the post) has his name on it.

via James Clear, author of Atomic Habits

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

America’s First Drag Queen Was Also America’s First LGBTQ Activist and a Former Slave

Negro Dive Raided. Thirteen Black Men Dressed as Women Surprised at Supper and Arrested. —The Washington Post, April 13, 1888

Sometimes, when we are engaged as either participant in, or eyewitness to, the making of history, its easy to forget the history-makers who came earlier, who dug the trenches that allow our modern battles to be waged out in the open.

Take America’s first self-appointed “queen of drag” and pioneering LGBTQ activist, William Dorsey Swann, born into slavery around 1858.

30 years later, Swann faced down white officers busting a drag ball in a “quiet-looking house” on Washington, DC’s F street, near 12th.

"You is no gentleman,” Swann allegedly told the arresting officer, while half the guests broke for freedom, correctly surmising that anyone who remained would see their names published in the next day’s newspaper as participants in a bizarre and unseemly ritual.




A lurid Washington Post clipping about the raid caught the eye of writer, historian, and former  Oberlin College Drag Ball queen, Channing Gerard Joseph, who was researching an assignment for a Columbia University graduate level investigative reporting class:

An animated conversation, carried on in effeminate tones, was in progress as the officers approached the door, but when they opened it and the form of Lieut. Amiss was visible to the people in the room a panic ensued. A scramble was made for the windows and doors and some of the people jumped to the roofs of adjoining buildings. Others stripped off their dresses and danced about the room almost in a nude condition, while several, headed by a big negro named Dorsey, who was arrayed in a gorgeous dress of cream-colored satin, rushed towards the officers and tried to prevent their entering.

Joseph’s interest did not flag when his reporting class project was turned in. House of Swann: Where Slaves Became Queens will be published in 2021.

Meanwhile you can bone up on Swann, Swann’s jail time for running a brothel, and the Washington DC drag scene of the Swann era in Joseph’s essay for The Nation, "The First Drag Queen Was a Former Slave."

Please note that William Dorsey Swann does not appear in the photo at the top of the page. As per Joseph:

The dancers — one in striped pants, the other in a dress — were recorded in France by Louis Lumière. Though their names are lost, they are believed to be American. In the show, they performed a version of the cakewalk, a dance invented by enslaved people, and the precursor to vogueing.

via The Nation

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join Ayun’s company Theater of the Apes in New York City this March for her book-based variety series, Necromancers of the Public Domain, and the world premiere of Greg Kotis’ new musical, I AM NOBODY. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

An Artist Tricks Google Maps Into Creating a Virtual Traffic Jam, Using a Little Red Wagon & 99 Smartphones

Sometimes the miraculous time-saving conveniences we’ve come to depend on can have the opposite effect, as artist Simon Wickert recently demonstrated, ambling about the streets of Berlin at a Huck Finn-ish pace, towing a squeaky-wheeled red wagon loaded with 99 secondhand smartphones.

Each phone had a SIM card, and all were running the Google Maps app.

The result?




A near-instantaneous "virtual traffic jam” on Google Maps, even though bicyclists seem to vastly outnumber motorists along Wickert's route.

As a Google spokesperson told 9to5 Google’s Ben Schoon shortly after news of Wickert’s stunt began to spread:

Traffic data in Google Maps is refreshed continuously thanks to information from a variety of sources, including aggregated anonymized data from people who have location services turned on and contributions from the Google Maps community.

In other words, had you checked your phone before heading out to the Baumhaus an der Mauer (Treehouse on the Wall), the Urban Art Clash GalleryOMA’s Café, or some other spot close to Wickert’s little red wagon’s trail of terror—like Google’s Berlin office—you might have thought twice about your intended path, or even going at all, seeing bridges and streets change from a free and easy green to an ostensibly gridlocked red.

As long as Wickert kept moving, he was able to continue fooling the algorithm into thinking 99 humans were all using their phone's Maps app for navigational purposes in a small, congested area.

Obviously, a couple of buses could easily be responsible for carrying 99 smartphones in active use, but it’s unlikely those phones owners would be consulting the map app in the passenger seats, when they could be scrolling through Instagram or playing Candy Crush.

Wickert also discovered that his virtual traffic jam disappeared whenever a car passed his wagonload.

The spokesperson who engaged with Schoon put a good-natured face on Google’s response to Wickert’s hack, saying, “We’ve launched the ability to distinguish between cars and motorcycles in several countries including India, Indonesia and Egypt, though we haven’t quite cracked traveling by wagon. We appreciate seeing creative uses of Google Maps like this as it helps us make maps work better over time.”

Meanwhile, the artist’s puckish stunt, which he describes as a “performance and installation,” seems anchored by sincere philosophical questions, as evidenced by the inclusion on his website of the below excerpt from "The Power of Virtual Maps," urban researcher Moritz Ahlert’s recent essay in the Hamburger Journal für Kulturanthropologie, :

The advent of Google’s Geo Tools began in 2005 with Maps and Earth, followed by Street View in 2007. They have since become enormously more technologically advanced. Google’s virtual maps have little in common with classical analog maps. The most significant difference is that Google’s maps are interactive  – scrollable, searchable and zoomable. Google’s map service has fundamentally changed our understanding of what a map is, how we interact with maps, their technological limitations, and how they look aesthetically.

In this fashion, Google Maps makes virtual changes to the real city. Applications such as Airbnb and Carsharing have an immense impact on cities: on their housing market and mobility culture, for instance. There is also a major impact on how we find a romantic partner, thanks to dating platforms such as Tinder, and on our self-quantifying behavior, thanks to the nike jogging app. Or map-based food delivery apps like deliveroo or foodora. All of these apps function via interfaces with Google Maps and create new forms of digital capitalism and commodification. Without these maps, car sharing systems, new taxi apps, bike rental systems and online transport agency services such as Uber would be unthinkable. An additional mapping market is provided by self-driving cars; again, Google has already established a position for itself.

With its Geo Tools, Google has created a platform that allows users and businesses to interact with maps in a novel way. This means that questions relating to power in the discourse of cartography have to be reformulated. But what is the relationship between the art of enabling and techniques of supervision, control and regulation in Google’s maps? Do these maps function as dispositive nets that determine the behavior, opinions and images of living beings, exercising power and controlling knowledge? Maps, which themselves are the product of a combination of states of knowledge and states of power, have an inscribed power dispositive. Google’s simulation-based map and world models determine the actuality and perception of physical spaces and the development of action models.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join Ayun’s company Theater of the Apes in New York City this March for her book-based variety series, Necromancers of the Public Domain, and the world premiere of Greg Kotis’ new musical, I AM NOBODY. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Radical Women: Stream the Getty’s Podcast That Features Six Major 20th-Century Artists, All Female


Only recently has “actor” become an acceptable gender-neutral term for performers of stage and screen.

Prior to that, we had “actor” and “actress,” and while there may have been some problematic assumptions concerning the type of woman who might be drawn to the profession, there was arguably linguistic parity between the two words.

Not so for artists.

In the not-so-distant past, female artists invariably found themselves referred to as “female artists.”

Not great, when male artists were referred to as (say it with me) “artists.”




The new season of the Getty’s podcast Recording Artists pays tribute to six significant post-war artists—two Abstract Expressionists, a portraitist, a performance artist and experimental musician, and a printmaker who progressed to assemblage and collage works with an overtly social message.

Hopefully you won’t need to reach for your smelling salts upon discovering that all six artists are female:

Alice Neel

Lee Krasner

Betye Saar

Helen Frankenthaler

Yoko Ono

and Eva Hesse

Host Helen Molesworth is also female, and up until recently, served as the much admired Chief Curator of LA's Museum of Contemporary Art. (According to artist Lorna Simpson’s take on Molesworth’s abrupt dismissal: "Women who have a point of view and stand by it are often punished. Just because you get rid of Helen Molesworth doesn’t mean you have solved ‘the problem.’")

Molesworth, who is joined by two art world guests per episode—some of them (gasp!) non-female—is the perfect choice to consider the impact of the Radical Women who give this season its subtitle.

We also hear from the artists themselves, in excepts from taped '60s and ’70s-era interviews with historians Cindy Nemser and Barbara Rose.

Their candid remarks give Molesworth and her guests a lot to consider, from the difficulties of maintaining a consistent artistic practice after one becomes a mother to racial discrimination. A lot of attention is paid to historical context, even when it’s warts and all.

The late Alice Neel, a white artist best remembered for her portraits of her black and brown East Harlem neighbors and friends, cracks wise about butch lesbians in Greenwich Village, prompting Molesworth to remark that she thinks she—or any artist of her acquaintance—could have “easily" swayed Neel to can the homophobic remarks.

It’s also possible that Neel, who died in 1984, would have kept step with the times and made the necessary correction unprompted, were she still with us today.


A couple of the subjects, Yoko Ono and Betye Saar, are alive …and actively creating art, though it’s their past work that seems to be the source of greatest fascination.

When New York City’s Museum of Modern Art reopened its doors following a major physical and philosophical reboot, visitors were treated to The Legends of Black Girl’s Window, an exhibition of the 94-year-old Saar’s work from the ‘60s and ‘70s. New Yorker critic Doreen St. Félix bemoaned the “absence of explicitly black-feminist works,” particularly The Liberation of Aunt Jemima, a mixed media assemblage, Molesworth discusses at length in the podcast episode dedicated to Saar.

MoMA also played host to a massive exhibition of Ono’s early work in 2015, prompting the New York Times critic Holland Cotter to pronounce her “imaginative, tough-minded and still underestimated.”

This is a far cry better than New York Times critic Hilton Kramer’s dismissal of Neel’s 1974 retrospective at the Whitney, when the artist was 74 years old:

… the Whitney, which can usually be counted on to do the wrong thing, devoted a solo exhibition to Alice Neel, whose paintings (we can be reasonably certain) would never have been accorded that honor had they been produced by a man. The politics of the situation required that a woman be given an exhibition, and Alice Neel’s painting was no doubt judged to be sufficiently bizarre, not to say inept, to qualify as something ‘far out.’”

Twenty six years later, his opinion of Neel’s talent had not mellowed, though he had the political sense to dial down the misogyny in his scathing Observer review of Neel’s third show at the Whitney...or did he? In citing curator Ann Temkin’s observation that Neel painted “with the eye of a caricaturist” he makes sure to note that Neel’s subject Annie Sprinkle, "the porn star who became a performance artist, is herself a caricature, no mockery was needed.”

One has to wonder if he would have described the artist’s nude self-portrait at the age of 80 as that of “a geriatric ruin” had the artist been a man.

Listen to all six episodes of Recording Artists: Radical Women and see examples of each subject’s work here.

And while neither Saar nor Ono added any current commentary to the podcast, we encourage you to check out the interviews below in which they discuss their recent work in addition to reflecting on their long artistic careers:

"‘It’s About Time!’ Betye Saar’s Long Climb to the Summit" (The New York Times, 2019)

"The Big Read – Yoko Ono: Imagine The Future" (NME, 2018)

via Hyperallergic

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, February 3 when her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain celebrates New York: The Nation’s Metropolis (1921). Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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