John Niedermeyer is a Brooklyn-based design manager and internets enthusiast at <a href="http://buzzfeed.com">BuzzFeed</a>. Previously, he was a digital designer and editor at <a href="http://nytimes.com">The New York Times</a>.
This morning, Lisa and I had lunch with her Grandma and Grandpa, who visiting this weekend from Buffalo. Grandpa Dick is a retired professional wrestler, who used to be quite big in Japan. In addition to winning numerous wrestling titles, the masked “Destroyer” was a star on the most watched comedy show in Japan’s television history, along with Wada Akiko. But he also was famous in the West – Debbie Harry of Blondie sported some camel-toe in a t-shirt from Dick’s bad guy alter-ego, Dr. X… Hott.
So, we ate a ton of Japanese food while Dick entertained the chefs and waitstaff with his antics and Japanese linguistic skills. The shot above is of a Japanese newspaper.
More photos, and a video of The Destroyer wrestling a bear, after the fold.
“Persepolis” is a simple story told by simple means. Like Marjane Satrapi’s book, on which it is based, the film, directed by Ms. Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, consists essentially of a series of monochrome drawings, their bold black lines washed with nuances of gray. The pictures are arranged into the chronicle of a young girl’s coming of age in difficult times, a tale that unfolds with such grace, intelligence and charm that you almost take the wondrous aspects of its execution for granted.
I loved Persepolis… the Iranian Revolution was a curious thing to study, in college. Throughout the middle part of the last century, with the Cold War raging, the expectation for “Revolution” was nearly always a marxist concern. Even little Marjane’s relatives in Persepolis expected the Proletariat to prevail. What was new and unique in Iran was the rise of a reactionary, religious authority – that no one in the West, (and also the liberal elite in Iran), saw coming…
But as interesting as the politics in the film are, this is still primarily the story of a young girl, and her personal journey. I loved Ms. Satrapi’s depiction of her anarchist friends in Vienna, (where she attended French boarding school). These Europeans embraced her in part because of her experience with revolution and war, but they had no clue about the personal cost of this experience. Teenaged Marjane struggles with her identity, while they laugh behind her back. And in the end, we’re not quite sure that she comes out on top.
Persepolis is a journey worth taking, and the animation really is wonderful.
It’s New Hampshire Primary Day, (already?!), but I’m not going to make any predictions. Hillary? Obama? McCain? Huckabee? The polls have swung dramatically in the past week or so, in both parties. And, it seems that the country is coming to one of those cultural tipping points that only occur once or twice per generation.
Some have compared this cycle to the election years of 1992, 1980, 1960… But, perhaps it’s more like the first months of 1968, before the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. derailed all hope, as well as the campaign of Eugene McCarthy. We find ourselves in an unpopular war that nobody knows how to get out of, saddled with an lame duck President with low approval ratings, and no sitting Vice President in the race, and we’re facing some economic uncertainty ahead. Still, there is hope on both sides of the aisle.
Is it a generational tipping point? Are we as a nation heading toward a year much like that annus horribilis of 1968? Nobody knows at this point, but maybe it’s best not to look back for comparisons – everyone across the political spectrum is eager to move forward.
I didn’t make any exciting resolutions this New Year, except to get back to my fighting weight, and land a more permanent design job. Looking back on 2007, one thing that stands out is that my Flickr photostream finally became a more real-time photo reflection of my life, with the convenience of my iPhone and its unlimited data plan. Sure, the quality of my photography might have deteriorated, but I’ve always preferred to shoot from the hip anyway. The iPhone suits what I want to do with Flickr.
But for 2008, I’d like to make one small resolution: do more with video. I bought a new point-and-shoot camera that does OK VGA video, (Canon Digital Elph SD750), so I want to put it to use. It’s output is a little grainy, especially in low light, but I think it suits what I want to do with it.
Here is a little idea that I got while walking around the Meatpacking district this past weekend: the Theory store on Gansevoort street has these amazing pulsating colored lights in the window – so I shot them, and then looped them in iMovie, set to The Knife’s live arrangement of “Heartbeats”:
The Iowa Caucus results last night got me thinking about the many competing political cultures present throughout American history. Individualist vs. communitarian, rich vs. poor, urban vs. rural… but, at the core of our national psyche is this tension between the lofty ideals set forth by the Founders, and our attempts and failings to live up to them. For every shining example of Lincoln, FDR, and Martin Luther King Jr., there are generations of back-sliders who prey upon fear in order to gain political advantage. Sure, to everything there is a season, but I’m glad to see that the voters in Iowa embraced hope and rejected cynicism, on both sides of the political spectrum.
History is written by the winners, which is why Americans tend to think of our colonial past and democratic beginnings as built upon and in reaction to English institutions alone – but the story is a little more complicated. It’s not often that I do book reviews, but I just finished re-reading The Island at the Center of the World, The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America [excerpt] by journalist historian Russell Shorto, and wanted to recommend it to anyone looking for some interesting reading on the origins of this country.
The traditional telling of colonial America focuses almost exclusively on the English colonies in Virginia and New England. But, Shorto reminds us that the Dutch were the first Europeans to settle the island of Manhattan, and built some of the most lasting ideals and institutions into the fabric of American political and cultural life.
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