When the Beatles Refused to Play Before Segregated Audiences on Their First U.S. Tour (1964)

When Amer­i­can rock and roll made its way to the UK in the 1950s and 60s, along with a bur­geon­ing folk and blues revival, many young British fans hadn’t been con­di­tioned to think of music in the same way as their U.S. coun­ter­parts. “Unlike racial­ly seg­re­gat­ed Amer­i­cans,” for exam­ple, “the Bea­t­les didn’t see—or hear—the dif­fer­ence between Elvis and Chuck Berry,” writes Joseph Tirella, “between the Ever­ly Broth­ers and the Mar­velettes.” They also couldn’t see play­ing to seg­re­gat­ed audi­ences as just one of those social cus­toms one polite­ly observes when tour­ing abroad.

In 1964, at the height of Beat­le­ma­nia, the band was booked to play Florida’s Gator Bowl in Jack­sonville just after a dev­as­tat­ing hur­ri­cane and months after the intro­duc­tion of the Civ­il Rights Act into Con­gres­sion­al delib­er­a­tions. Major polit­i­cal shifts were hap­pen­ing in the coun­try and would have hap­pened with or with­out the Bea­t­les tak­ing a stand for inte­gra­tion.

But they took a stand nonethe­less and used their celebri­ty pow­er to show how mean­ing­less the sys­tem of Apartheid in the South actu­al­ly was. It could, in fact, be annulled by fiat should a group with as much lever­age as the Fab Four refuse to play along.

The rid­er for the Sep­tem­ber 11 con­cert “explic­it­ly cit­ed the band’s refusal to per­form in a seg­re­gat­ed facil­i­ty,” writes Ken­neth Wom­ack at Salon. When con­cert pro­mot­ers pushed back, John Lennon flat­ly stat­ed in a press con­fer­ence, “We nev­er play to seg­re­gat­ed audi­ences, and we aren’t going to start now. I’d soon­er lose our appear­ance mon­ey.” Despite storm dam­age and evac­u­a­tions, the 32,000-seat sta­di­um had sold out. The Gator Bowl had to relent and deseg­re­gate for the evening’s show.

One of the concert’s atten­dees, his­to­ri­an Dr. Kit­ty Oliv­er, who appears in the clip at the top from Ron Howard’s Bea­t­les doc­u­men­tary Eight Days a Week, was a young Bea­t­les fan who hadn’t heard the news about the show deseg­re­gat­ing. Deter­mined to go, and sav­ing up enough mon­ey to score a seat near the front row, she remem­bers fear­ing the atmos­phere she would encounter:

At the time, I didn’t know any­thing about the group’s press con­fer­ence announce­ment refus­ing to per­form for an audi­ence where Black patrons would be forcibly seg­re­gat­ed from Whites, prob­a­bly rel­e­gat­ed to the worse seats far­thest away from the stage and maybe sub­ject­ed to a threat­en­ing atmos­phere if they showed up.

Instead, she writes, “the crowd rose, thun­der­ous, in uni­son, when the Bea­t­les took the stage. Then tun­nel vision set in: Eyes glued to the front, I sang along to ‘She loves me, yeah, yeah, yeah…’ full voiced, just as loud­ly as every­one, all of us lost in the sound.” The band “left behind a lega­cy that night,” writes Wom­ack, hav­ing “stood up to insti­tu­tion­al racism and won.” It was not a cause-of-the-moment for them but a deep con­vic­tion all four mem­bers shared, as Paul McCart­ney explains above in an inter­view with reporter Lar­ry Kane, who fol­lowed the band on their first Amer­i­can tour.

McCart­ney had been so moved by the events in Lit­tle Rock in 1957 that almost a decade lat­er, he remem­bered them in his song “Black­bird,” as he explains above. This year, he recalled the band’s stand against seg­re­ga­tion in Jack­sonville and com­ment­ed, “I feel sick and angry that here we are, almost 60 years lat­er, and the world is in shock at the hor­rif­ic scenes of the sense­less mur­der of George Floyd at the hands of police racism, along with the count­less oth­ers that came before. I want jus­tice for George Floyd’s fam­i­ly, I want jus­tice for all those who have died and suf­fered. Say­ing noth­ing is not an option.” When it came to issues of injus­tice, even at the height of their fame, the Bea­t­les were will­ing to say—and, more impor­tant­ly, do—something about it even if it cost them.

via Salon

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch The Bea­t­les Per­form Their Famous Rooftop Con­cert: It Hap­pened 50 Years Ago Today (Jan­u­ary 30, 1969)

How “Straw­ber­ry Fields For­ev­er” Con­tains “the Cra­zi­est Edit” in Bea­t­les His­to­ry

A Vir­tu­al Tour of Every Place Ref­er­enced in The Bea­t­les’ Lyrics: In 12 Min­utes, Trav­el 25,000 Miles Across Eng­land, France, Rus­sia, India & the US

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

An Immaculate Copy of Leonardo’s The Last Supper Digitized by Google: View It in High Resolution Online

Roman­tic poets told us that great art is eter­nal and tran­scen­dent. They also told us every­thing made by human hands is bound to end in ruin and decay. Both themes were inspired by the redis­cov­ery and renewed fas­ci­na­tion for the arts of antiq­ui­ty in Europe and Egypt. It was a time of renewed appre­ci­a­tion for mon­u­men­tal works of art, which hap­pened to coin­cide with a peri­od when they came under con­sid­er­able threat from loot­ers, van­dals, and invad­ing armies.

One work of art that appeared on the itin­er­ary of every Grand Tour­ing aris­to­crat, Leonardo’s da Vinci’s fres­co The Last Sup­per in Milan, was made espe­cial­ly vul­ner­a­ble when the refec­to­ry in which it was paint­ed became an armory and sta­ble for Napoleon’s troops in 1796. The sol­diers scratched out the apos­tles’ eyes and lobbed rocks at the paint­ing. Lat­er, in 1800, Goethe wrote of the room flood­ing with two feet of water, and the build­ing was also used as a prison.

As every cura­tor and con­ser­va­tion­ist knows well, grand ideas about art gloss over impor­tant details. Art is bound to par­tic­u­lar cul­tures, his­to­ries and mate­ri­als. One of Leonardo’s most influ­en­tial fres­coes dur­ing the Renais­sance, for exam­ple, almost com­plete­ly melt­ed right after he fin­ished it, due to his insis­tence on using oils, which he also mixed with tem­pera in The Last Sup­per. Just a few decades after that paint­ing’s com­ple­tion, one Ital­ian writer would describe it as “blurred and col­or­less com­pared with what I remem­ber of it when I saw it as a boy.”

His­tor­i­cal decay is one thing. Recent fires at Brazil’s Nation­al Muse­um and Notre Dame served as stark reminders that acci­dents and poor plan­ning can rob the world of cher­ished cul­tur­al trea­sures all at once. Insti­tu­tions have been dig­i­tiz­ing their col­lec­tions with as much detail and pre­ci­sion as pos­si­ble. For their part, England’s Roy­al Acad­e­my of Arts has part­nered with Google Arts & Cul­ture to ren­der sev­er­al of their most prized works online, includ­ing a copy of The Last Sup­per on can­vas, made by Leonardo’s stu­dents from his orig­i­nal work.

More than any oth­er con­tem­po­rary descrip­tion of the paint­ing, this faith­ful copy, prob­a­bly made by artists who worked on the fres­co itself, pro­vides art his­to­ri­ans “key insights into the long-fad­ed mas­ter­work in Milan,” and lets us see the vivid shades that awed its first view­ers. Pre­sent­ed in “Gigapix­el clar­i­ty,” notes Art­net, the huge dig­i­tal image with its “ultra high res­o­lu­tion” was “made pos­si­ble by a pro­pri­etary Google cam­era.” As you zoom in to the tini­est details, facts appear about the paint­ing and its larg­er, more bat­tered orig­i­nal in Milan.

It is either a “mir­a­cle” that The Last Sup­per has sur­vived, as Áine Cain writes at Busi­ness Insid­er, or the result of an “unend­ing fight” to pre­serve the work, as Kevin Wong details at Endgad­get. Or maybe some mys­te­ri­ous mix­ture of chance and near-hero­ic effort. But what has sur­vived is not what Leonar­do paint­ed, but rather the best recon­struc­tion to emerge from cen­turies of destruc­tion and restora­tion. Get clos­er than any­one ever could to a fac­sim­i­le of the orig­i­nal and see details from Leonardo’s work that have left no oth­er trace in his­to­ry. Explore it here.

via Smith­son­ian

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Com­plete Dig­i­ti­za­tion of Leonar­do Da Vinci’s Codex Atlanti­cus, the Largest Exist­ing Col­lec­tion of His Draw­ings & Writ­ings

Leonar­do da Vinci’s Vision­ary Note­books Now Online: Browse 570 Dig­i­tized Pages

Leonar­do da Vinci’s Inven­tions Come to Life as Muse­um-Qual­i­ty, Work­able Mod­els: A Swing Bridge, Scythed Char­i­ot, Per­pet­u­al Motion Machine & More

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness


Rewatch Every Episode of The Sopranos with the Talking Sopranos Podcast, Hosted by Michael Imperioli & Steve Schirripa

The Sopra­nos pre­miered on Jan­u­ary 10, 1999, and tele­vi­sion did not change for­ev­er — or rather, not right away. Though its treat­ment of the life of mid-lev­el New Jer­sey mob boss Tony Sopra­no drew large num­bers of ded­i­cat­ed view­ers right away, few could have imag­ined dur­ing the show’s eight-year run how com­plete­ly its suc­cess would even­tu­al­ly rewrite the rules of dra­mat­ic TV. More than twen­ty years lat­er, near­ly all of us place the begin­ning of our ongo­ing tele­vi­su­al “gold­en age” at the broad­cast of The Sopra­nos’ first episode. You can hear that epoch-mak­ing 50 min­utes dis­cussed in depth on the first episode of the new pod­cast Talk­ing Sopra­nos (YouTubeAppleSpo­ti­fy), whose hosts Michael Impe­ri­oli and Steve Schirri­pa know the series more inti­mate­ly than most — not least because they were on it.

Fans know Impe­ri­oli and Schirri­pa as Tony’s pro­tégé Christo­pher Molti­san­ti and Tony’s broth­er-in-law Bob­by Bac­calieri. On Talk­ing Sopra­nos they “fol­low the Sopra­nos series episode by episode giv­ing fans all the inside info, behind the scenes sto­ries and lit­tle-known facts that could only come from some­one on the inside,” announces the pod­cast’s descrip­tion, which also promis­es “inter­views with addi­tion­al cast mem­bers, pro­duc­ers, writ­ers, pro­duc­tion crew and spe­cial guests.”

Among these voic­es there is, of course, one siz­able absence: star James Gan­dolfi­ni, Tony Sopra­no him­self, who died in 2013. But it shows promise that, just four­teen episodes in, the pod­cast has already brought on Edie Fal­co, who played Tony’s wife Carmela; Robert Iler, their son A.J. Sopra­no; Jamie-Lynn Sigler, their daugh­ter Mead­ow Sopra­no; and Michael Rispoli, the first sea­son’s short-lived Jack­ie Aprile Sr.

None of these actors would have made their mark on the show with­out the work of cast­ing direc­tors Geor­gianne Walken and Sheila Jaffe, who also make an appear­ance on the pod­cast, as does co-exec­u­tive pro­duc­er and some­time direc­tor Hen­ry Bronchtein. You can down­load Talk­ing Sopra­nos on its web site, sub­scribe to it on Apple Pod­casts and else­where, or even watch it on Youtube. If you’d like to sup­ple­ment all this with an even greater wealth of detail, pick up a copy of Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepin­wal­l’s book The Sopra­nos Ses­sions, an episode-by-episode analy­sis fea­tur­ing inter­views with fig­ures includ­ing series cre­ator David Chase. Nev­er has there been a bet­ter time to do a Sopra­nos re-watch of your own — and if you nev­er watched it in the first place, well, bet­ter a cou­ple of decades late than nev­er.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How David Chase Breathed Life into the The Sopra­nos

David Chase Reveals the Philo­soph­i­cal Mean­ing of The Sopra­nos’ Final Scene

The Nine Minute Sopra­nos

Mau­rice Sendak Ani­mat­ed; James Gan­dolfi­ni Reads from Sendak’s Sto­ry “In The Night Kitchen”

James Gan­dolfi­ni Shows Kinder, Soft­er, Gen­tler Side on Sesame Street (2002)

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, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

The Beastie Boys & Rick Rubin Reunite and Revisit Their Formative Time Together in 1980s NYC

The Beast­ie Boys’ record-shat­ter­ing Licensed to Ill is thir­ty-four years old. This fact might mean noth­ing to you, or it might mean that you are thir­ty-four years old­er than the moment the album came out in Novem­ber of 1986, and sub­ur­ban par­ents around the coun­try, maybe even your par­ents, freaked out in uni­son. The album was a stroke of genius from pro­duc­er Rick Rubin, deliv­er­ing hip-hop safe for white kids while also giv­ing them per­mis­sion to be as obnox­ious as pos­si­ble.

Osten­si­bly a rap record, the first ever to hit num­ber one, Licensed to Ill also rode in on the crest of the mid-80s Satan­ic Pan­ic. Rubin’s deci­sion to set its exag­ger­at­ed­ly juve­nile rhymes to sam­ples of Black Sab­bath and Led Zep­pelin made a defi­ant statement—and bring­ing in Slayer’s Ker­ry King to play gui­tar on “No Sleep till Brook­lyn” real­ly rubbed it in. He was simul­ta­ne­ous­ly pro­duc­ing Slayer’s Reign in Blood, and both albums man­aged to ter­ri­fy, and appeal to, many of the same peo­ple.

Lyri­cal­ly, Licensed to Ill kept things light and goofy but also ampli­fied some cor­ro­sive misog­y­ny and homo­pho­bia, for which the band has made amends and apolo­gies over the years. Adam Horowitz called their per­sonas on the album “idiot car­i­ca­tures of our­selves.” Of its first, dis­card­ed, title, he says, “it was meant to be a joke about jock frat dudes.” They moved on and moved to L.A., show­ing very dif­fer­ent sides of them­selves on fol­low-up Paul’s Bou­tique. You’re prob­a­bly famil­iar with Rick Rubin’s post-Licensed to Ill career and all-around sta­tus as a hip-hop, met­al, rock, pop, coun­try, etc. pro­duc­er.

They hadn’t been in touch in around twen­ty years when Rubin and sur­viv­ing Beast­ie Boys Adam Horowitz and Michael Dia­mond sat down—over Zoom—recently for the Rubin-host­ed Bro­ken Record Pod­cast. There’s a lot of catch­ing up to do. They start at the very begin­ning, when the trio was still in high school and Rubin lived in the NYU dorms and occa­sion­al­ly went to class­es. From the per­spec­tive of their cur­rent selves, they real­ize how strange it was that they hard­ly knew any­thing about each oth­er at the time. There are also a few lin­ger­ing mis­un­der­stand­ings to clear up.

Join­ing them is Spike Jonze, direc­tor of the clas­sic video for “Sab­o­tage” and of the upcom­ing Beast­ie Boys Sto­ry (trail­er above). The film is a “love let­ter to hip hop’s gold­en age,” writes Kevin Eg Per­ry at NME, an “inti­mate, per­son­al sto­ry of their band and 40 years of friend­ship.” Every Beast­ie Boys ret­ro­spec­tive, and there have been a few late­ly, is tinged with sad­ness for the con­spic­u­ous absence of Adam Yauch (MCA).

He appears here in spir­it and on video, pro­ject­ed on a giant screen behind Horowitz and Dia­mond onstage in the live sto­ry­telling event filmed by Jonze. “They’re frank about the shit­ti­ness of some of their past behav­ior,” Per­ry notes, like fir­ing found­ing mem­ber Kate Schel­len­bach because she did­n’t fit their new tough-guy act. It’s a grown-up per­spec­tive that will sur­prise no one who has fol­lowed the course of their cre­ative and per­son­al evo­lu­tions.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch 36 Beast­ie Boys Videos Now Remas­tered in HD

Hear Every Sam­ple on the Beast­ie Boys’ Acclaimed Album, Paul’s Boutique–and Dis­cov­er Where They Came From

The Beast­ie Boys Release a New Free­wheel­ing Mem­oir, and a Star-Stud­ded 13-Hour Audio­book Fea­tur­ing Snoop Dogg, Elvis Costel­lo, Bette Midler, John Stew­art & Dozens More

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Milton Glaser (RIP) Explains Why We Must Overcome the Fear of Failure, Take Risks & Discover Our True Potential

Mil­ton Glaser died last week at the age of 91, a long life that includ­ed decade upon decade as the best-known name in graph­ic design. With­in the pro­fes­sion he became as well-known as sev­er­al of his designs did in the wider world: the Bob Dylan poster, logos for com­pa­nies like DC Comics, the Glaser Sten­cil font, and above all  I ❤ NY. Glaser may have become an icon, but he did­n’t become a brand — “one of my most despised words,” he says in the inter­view clip above. He also acknowl­edges that spe­cial­iza­tion, “hav­ing some­thing no one else has,” is the sine qua non of “finan­cial suc­cess and noto­ri­ety.” But “the con­se­quence of spe­cial­iza­tion and suc­cess is that it hurts you. It hurts you because it basi­cal­ly does­n’t aid in your devel­op­ment.” When we suc­ceed we usu­al­ly do so because peo­ple come to rely on us to do one par­tic­u­lar thing, and to do it well — in oth­er words, nev­er to fail at it.

But as Glaser reminds us, “devel­op­ment comes from fail­ure. Peo­ple begin to get bet­ter when they fail.” As an exam­ple of devel­op­ment through fail­ure he holds up Pablo Picas­so: “When­ev­er Picas­so learned how to do some­thing, he aban­doned it, and as a result of that, in terms of his devel­op­ment as an artist, the results were extra­or­di­nary.”

We may, of course, ques­tion the rel­e­vance of this com­par­i­son, since many would describe Picas­so as an artis­tic genius, and not a few would cast Glaser him­self in sim­i­lar terms. Sure­ly both of them, each in his own way, inhab­it­ed a world apart from the rest of us. And yet, don’t the “the rest of us” won­der from time to about our our own poten­tial for genius? Haven’t we, at times, felt near­ly con­vinced that we could achieve great things if only we weren’t so afraid to try.

Glaser breaks this fear down into con­stituent threats: the “con­dem­na­tion of oth­ers,” the “crit­i­cism of crit­ics and oth­er experts and even your friends and rel­a­tives,” the prospect that “you won’t get any more work.” But “the real embar­rass­ing issue about fail­ure is your own acknowl­edg­ment that you’re not a genius, that you’re not as good as you thought you were.” We can’t bear to acknowl­edge “that we real­ly don’t exact­ly know what we’re doing,” an inescapable real­i­ty in the process of self-devel­op­ment. But there is a solu­tion, and in Glaser’s view only one solu­tion: “You must embrace fail­ure, you must admit what is, you must find out what you’re capa­ble of doing and what you’re not capa­ble of doing.” You must “sub­ject your­self to the pos­si­bil­i­ty that you are not as good as you want to be, hope to be, or as oth­ers think you are.” And as the famous­ly nev­er-retired Glaser sure­ly knew, you must keep on doing it, no mat­ter how long you’ve been cel­e­brat­ed as a pro­fes­sion­al, a mas­ter, an icon, a genius.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mil­ton Glaser’s 10 Rules for Life & Work: The Cel­e­brat­ed Design­er Dis­pens­es Wis­dom Gained Over His Long Life & Career

Saul Bass’ Advice for Design­ers: Makes Some­thing Beau­ti­ful and Don’t Wor­ry About the Mon­ey

Paulo Coel­ho on How to Han­dle the Fear of Fail­ure

The Long Game of Cre­ativ­i­ty: If You Haven’t Cre­at­ed a Mas­ter­piece at 30, You’re Not a Fail­ure

“Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Bet­ter”: How Samuel Beck­ett Cre­at­ed the Unlike­ly Mantra That Inspires Entre­pre­neurs Today

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, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

Behold Octavia Butler’s Motivational Notes to Self

Hand­writ­ten notes on the inside cov­er of one of Octavia E. Butler’s com­mon­place books, 1988

I was attract­ed to sci­ence fic­tion because it was so wide open. I was able to do any­thing and there were no walls to hem you in and there was no human con­di­tion that you were stopped from exam­in­ing. —Octavia E. But­ler

Like many authors, the late Octavia E. But­ler took up writ­ing at a young age.

At 11, she was churn­ing out tales about hors­es and romance.

At 12, she saw Dev­il Girl from Mars, and fig­ured (cor­rect­ly) she could tell a bet­ter sto­ry than that, using 2 fin­gers to peck out sto­ries on the Rem­ing­ton type­writer her moth­er bought at her request.

At 13, she found a copy of The Writer mag­a­zine aban­doned on a bus seat, and learned that it was pos­si­ble to sub­mit her work for pub­li­ca­tion.

After a decade’s worth of rejec­tion slips, she sold her first two sto­ries, thanks in part to her asso­ci­a­tion with the Clar­i­on Sci­ence Fic­tion Writ­ing Work­shop, which she became involved with on the rec­om­men­da­tion of her men­tor, sci­ence fic­tion writer Har­lan Elli­son.

She went on to become the first sci­ence fic­tion writer to receive a pres­ti­gious MacArthur “genius” award, gar­ner­ing mul­ti­ple Hugo and Neb­u­la awards for her work.

An aster­oid is named after her, as is a moun­tain on Pluto’s moon.

Hailed as the Moth­er of Afro Futur­ism, she won the PEN Amer­i­can Cen­ter life­time achieve­ment award in writ­ing.

But pro­fes­sion­al suc­cess nev­er cloud­ed her view of her­self as the 10-year-old writer who was unsure if library-lov­ing black kids like her would be allowed inside a book­store.

Iden­ti­fy­ing as a writer helped her move beyond her crip­pling shy­ness and dyslex­ia. As she wrote in an auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal essay, “Pos­i­tive Obses­sion”:

I believed I was ugly and stu­pid, clum­sy, and social­ly hope­less. I also thought that every­one would notice these faults if I drew atten­tion to myself. I want­ed to dis­ap­pear. Instead, I grew to be six feet tall. Boys in par­tic­u­lar seemed to assume that I had done this grow­ing delib­er­ate­ly and that I should be ridiculed for it as often as pos­si­ble.

I hid out in a big pink notebook—one that would hold a whole ream of paper. I made myself a uni­verse in it. There I could be a mag­ic horse, a Mar­t­ian, a telepath….There I could be any­where but here, any time but now, with any peo­ple but these.

She devel­oped a life­long habit of cheer­ing her­self on with moti­va­tion­al notes, writ­ing them in her jour­nals, on lined note­book paper, in day plan­ners and on repur­posed pages of an old wall cal­en­dar.

She held her­self account­able by writ­ing out demand­ing sched­ules to accom­pa­ny her lofty, doc­u­ment­ed goals.

And though she wea­ried of the con­stant invi­ta­tions to serve on lit­er­ary pan­els devot­ed to sci­ence fic­tion writ­ers of col­or, at which she’d be asked the same ques­tions she’d answered dozens of times before, she was res­olute about pro­vid­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for young black writ­ers … and read­ers, who found reflec­tions of them­selves in her char­ac­ters. As she remarked in an inter­view with The New York Times

When I began writ­ing sci­ence fic­tion, when I began read­ing, heck, I wasn’t in any of this stuff I read. The only black peo­ple you found were occa­sion­al char­ac­ters or char­ac­ters who were so fee­ble-wit­ted that they couldn’t man­age any­thing, any­way. I wrote myself in, since I’m me and I’m here and I’m writ­ing.

Her brand of sci­ence fic­tiona label she often tried to duck, iden­ti­fy­ing her­self on her busi­ness card sim­ply as “writer”serves as a lens for con­sid­er­ing con­tem­po­rary issues: sex­u­al vio­lence, gun vio­lence, cli­mate change, gen­der stereo­types, the prob­lems of late-stage cap­i­tal­ism, the plight of undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants, and, not least, racism.

She side­stepped utopi­an sci­ence fic­tion, believ­ing that imper­fect humans are inca­pable of  form­ing a per­fect soci­ety. “Nobody is per­fect,” she told Vibe:

One of the things I’ve dis­cov­ered even with teach­ers using my books is that peo­ple tend to look for ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys,’ which always annoys the hell out of me. I’d be bored to death writ­ing that way. But because that’s the only pat­tern they have, they try to fit my work into it.

Learn more about the life and work of Octavia E. But­ler (1947–2006) here.

I shall be a best­selling writer. After Ima­go, each of my books will be on the best­seller lists of LAT, NYT, PW, WP, etc. My nov­els will go onto the above lists whether pub­lish­ers push them hard or not, whether I’m paid a high advance or not, whether I ever win anoth­er award or not.

This is my life. I write best­selling nov­els. My nov­els go onto the best­seller lists on or short­ly after pub­li­ca­tion. My nov­els each trav­el up to the top of the best­seller lists and they reach the top and they stay on top for months . Each of my nov­els does this.

So be it! I will find the way to do this. See to it! So be it! See to it!

My books will be read by mil­lions of peo­ple!

I will buy a beau­ti­ful home in an excel­lent neigh­bor­hood

I will send poor black young­sters to Clar­i­on or oth­er writer’s work­shops

I will help poor black young­sters broad­en their hori­zons

I will help poor black young­sters go to col­lege

I will get the best of health care for my moth­er and myself

I will hire a car when­ev­er I want or need to.

I will trav­el when­ev­er and wher­ev­er in the world that I choose

My books will be read by mil­lions of peo­ple!

So be it! See to it!

via Austin Kleon

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Why Should We Read Pio­neer­ing Sci-Fi Writer Octavia But­ler? An Ani­mat­ed Video Makes the Case

Octavia Butler’s 1998 Dystopi­an Nov­el Fea­tures a Fascis­tic Pres­i­den­tial Can­di­date Who Promis­es to “Make Amer­i­ca Great Again”

Watch a 5‑Part Ani­mat­ed Primer on Afro­fu­tur­ism, the Black Sci-Fi Phe­nom­e­non Inspired by Sun Ra

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.


Milton Glaser (RIP) Presents 10 Rules for Life & Work: Wisdom from the Celebrated Designer

“None of us has real­ly the abil­i­ty to under­stand our path until it’s over,” the cel­e­brat­ed graph­ic design­er Mil­ton Glaser (RIP) mus­es less than a minute into the above video.

Glaser’s many con­tri­bu­tions to pop culture—the  I ❤ NY logo, the psy­che­del­ic por­trait of a rain­bow-haired Bob Dylan, DC Comics’ clas­sic bul­let logo—con­fer unde­ni­able author­i­ty. To the out­side eye, he seems to have had a pret­ty firm han­dle on the path he trav­eled for lo these many decades. Aspi­rant design­ers would do well to give extra con­sid­er­a­tion to any advice he might share.

As would the rest of us.

His “Ten Things I Have Learned,” orig­i­nal­ly deliv­ered as part of a talk to the AIGA—a ven­er­a­ble mem­ber­ship orga­ni­za­tion for design professionals—qualifies as sol­id life advice of gen­er­al inter­est.

Yes, the Inter­net spawns bul­let-point­ed tips for bet­ter liv­ing the way spring rains yield mush­rooms, but Glaser, a self-described “child of mod­ernism” who’s still a con­tender, does not truck in pithy Insta­gram-friend­ly apho­risms. Instead, his list is born of reflec­tion on the var­i­ous turns of a long and most­ly sat­is­fy­ing cre­ative career.

We’ve excerpt­ed some of his most essen­tial points below, and sug­gest that those read­ers who are still in train­ing give spe­cial empha­sis to num­ber sev­en. Don’t place too much weight on num­ber nine until you’ve estab­lished a sol­id work eth­ic. (See num­ber four for more on that.)



Some years ago I real­ized that… all the work I had done that was mean­ing­ful and sig­nif­i­cant came out of an affec­tion­ate rela­tion­ship with a client.


Here, Glaser quotes com­pos­er John CageNev­er have a job, because if you have a job some­day some­one will take it away from you and then you will be unpre­pared for your old age. 


Glaser rec­om­mends putting a ques­tion­able com­pan­ion to a gestalt ther­a­py test. If, after spend­ing time with that per­son “you are more tired, then you have been poi­soned. If you have more ener­gy, you have been nour­ished. The test is almost infal­li­ble and I sug­gest that you use it for the rest of your life.”


Glaser con­cedes that a record of depend­able excel­lence is some­thing to look for in a brain sur­geon or auto mechan­ic, but for those in the arts, “con­tin­u­ous trans­gres­sion” is the qual­i­ty to cul­ti­vate. Pro­fes­sion­al­ism does not allow for that because trans­gres­sion has to encom­pass the pos­si­bil­i­ty of fail­ure and if you are pro­fes­sion­al your instinct is not to fail, it is to repeat suc­cess. 


I have an alter­na­tive to the propo­si­tion that I believe is more appro­pri­ate. ‘Just enough is more.’


Style change is usu­al­ly linked to eco­nom­ic fac­tors, as all of you know who have read Marx. Also fatigue occurs when peo­ple see too much of the same thing too often.


The brain is the most respon­sive organ of the body…. Thought changes our life and our behav­ior. I also believe that draw­ing works in the same way…. Draw­ing also makes you atten­tive. It makes you pay atten­tion to what you are look­ing at, which is not so easy.


One of the signs of a dam­aged ego is absolute cer­tain­ty. Schools encour­age the idea of not com­pro­mis­ing and defend­ing your work at all costs. Well, the issue at work is usu­al­ly all about the nature of com­pro­mise…. Ide­al­ly, mak­ing every­one win through acts of accom­mo­da­tion is desir­able.


Glaser cred­its essay­ist Roger Rosenblatt’s Rules for Aging (misiden­ti­fy­ing the title as Aging Grace­ful­ly) with help­ing him artic­u­late his phi­los­o­phy here.  It doesn’t mat­ter what you think. It does not mat­ter if you are late or ear­ly, if you are here or there, if you said it or didn’t say it, if you are clever or if you were stu­pid. If you were hav­ing a bad hair day or a no hair day or if your boss looks at you cock­eyed or your boyfriend or girl­friend looks at you cock­eyed, if you are cock­eyed. If you don’t get that pro­mo­tion or prize or house or if you do – it doesn’t mat­ter.


It’s inter­est­ing to observe that in the new AIGA’s code of ethics there is a sig­nif­i­cant amount of use­ful infor­ma­tion about appro­pri­ate behav­ior towards clients and oth­er design­ers, but not a word about a designer’s rela­tion­ship to the pub­lic. If we were licensed, telling the truth might become more cen­tral to what we do.


A butch­er was open­ing his mar­ket one morn­ing and as he did a rab­bit popped his head through the door. The butch­er was sur­prised when the rab­bit inquired ‘Got any cab­bage?’ The butch­er said ‘This is a meat mar­ket – we sell meat, not veg­eta­bles.’ The rab­bit hopped off. The next day the butch­er is open­ing the shop and sure enough the rab­bit pops his head round and says ‘You got any cab­bage?’ The butch­er now irri­tat­ed says ‘Lis­ten you lit­tle rodent, I told you yes­ter­day we sell meat, we do not sell veg­eta­bles and the next time you come here I am going to grab you by the throat and nail those flop­py ears to the floor.’ The rab­bit dis­ap­peared hasti­ly and noth­ing hap­pened for a week. Then one morn­ing the rab­bit popped his head around the cor­ner and said ‘Got any nails?’ The butch­er said ‘No.’ The rab­bit said ‘Ok. Got any cab­bage?’’

Read Mil­ton Glaser’s “Ten Things I Have Learned” in its entire­ty here.

Note: This post orig­i­nal­ly appeared on our site in April 2017.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mil­ton Glaser Draws Shake­speare & Explains Why Draw­ing is the Key to Under­stand­ing Life

Mick­ey Mouse In Viet­nam: The Under­ground Anti-War Ani­ma­tion from 1968, Co-Cre­at­ed by Mil­ton Glaser

Dieter Rams Lists the 10 Time­less Prin­ci­ples of Good Design–Backed by Music by Bri­an Eno

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Explore 1,100 Works of Art by Georgia O’Keeffe: They’re Now Digitized and Free to View Online

Lake George Reflec­tion (cir­ca 1921) via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

What comes to mind when you think of Geor­gia O’Keeffe?

Bleached skulls in the desert?

Aer­i­al views of clouds, almost car­toon­ish in their puffi­ness?

Volup­tuous flow­ers (freight­ed with an erot­ic charge the artist may not have intend­ed)?

Prob­a­bly not Polaroid prints of a dark haired pet chow sprawled on flag­stones…

Or water­col­or sketch­es of demure­ly pret­ty ladies

Or a mas­sive cast iron abstrac­tion…

If your knowl­edge of America’s most cel­e­brat­ed female artists is con­fined to the gift shop’s great­est hits, you might enjoy a leisure­ly prowl through the 1100+ works in the Geor­gia O’Keeffe Museum’s dig­i­tal col­lec­tion.

A main objec­tive of this beta release is to pro­vide a more com­plete under­stand­ing of the life and work of the icon­ic artist, who died in 1986 at the age of 98.

Her evo­lu­tion is evi­dent when you search by mate­ri­als or date.

You can also view works by oth­er artists in the col­lec­tion, includ­ing two very sig­nif­i­cant men in her life, pho­tog­ra­ph­er Alfred Stieglitz and ceram­i­cist Juan Hamil­ton.

Each item’s list­ing is enhanced with infor­ma­tion on inscrip­tions and exhi­bi­tions, as well as links to oth­er works pro­duced in the same year.

If your explo­rations leave you in a cre­ative mood, the museum’s web­site has devised a host of  O’Keeffe-inspired, all-ages cre­ative assign­ments, such as an adver­tis­ing chal­lenge stem­ming from her 1939 trip to Hawaii to design pro­mo­tion­al images for the Hawai­ian Pineap­ple Com­pa­ny (now known as Dole).

Vis­it the Geor­gia O’Keeffe Museum’s online col­lec­tion here. And watch a doc­u­men­tary intro­duc­tion to O’Ke­ef­fee, nar­rat­ed by Gene Hack­man, below:

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Real Geor­gia O’Keeffe: The Artist Reveals Her­self in Vin­tage Doc­u­men­tary Clips

Geor­gia O’Keeffe: A Life in Art, a Short Doc­u­men­tary on the Painter Nar­rat­ed by Gene Hack­man

How Geor­gia O’Keeffe Became Geor­gia O’Keeffe: An Ani­mat­ed Video Tells the Sto­ry

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.


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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.