The Culture

Frank Ocean Uses
His Beautiful, Powerful Voice


If you know me, you know I believe deeply in the power of popular culture to shape our cultural, political and social landscape. It is the reason why I devote part of my life to writing. I believe narrative matters, that the stories we tell give shape and meaning to the facts and experiences from which we manufacture our world. I believe that narrative makes our world, that, as the American poet and political activist Muriel Rukeyser put it, “the universe is made of stories, not atoms.”

And so when someone who occupies space in the popular imagination — because of their ability to act or sculpt or erect a meaningful building or manufacture a story from thin air — uses their voice to tell a story that needs to be told, in just this way, at this particular moment in humanity’s great march, I stop and I listen and I let it wash over me. I listen as they speak in all of their tongues, tongues that may be alien to me or familiar, like unto or unlike my own. I listen as they speak in their human tongues, tongues which, the Tower of Babel notwithstanding, are meant for my ears, and my heart, and for our shared, deepened understanding of what it is to be human in all of its guises, and what it means to embrace the other as our own. 


Tags: , , ,

Blake Lively Preserves The Dream With A New Lifestyle Site


Bryan Rowland’s haunting, luminous new film, Preserve, is as fine an introduction of Blake Lively’s new lifestyle site Preserve as I could imagine. The film and the site invoke the magic of preserving the dream that is now.

Here’s to that!

It is a bit early for me to pass judgment on Preserve — it’s young, and I more than anyone appreciates that things evolve, particularly in the immediacy that is digital space, and good things sometimes need time to marinate. Preserve is a bit earnest for me at the moment, a bit trying-to-hard, but there’s no shame in your reach exceeding your grasp.

As a Southerner, I love that Preserve feels familiar, though it isn’t the South I know. Still, it contains familiar echoes. It oozes food cooked slow on the stove, and peas being shelled on the porch, and un-fancy white folks sitting outside a trailer in a lawn chair in a scraggly patch of lawn, or un-fancy black ones sitting up on a rocking chair on the porch.


Tags: , , ,

A Film By The Elder Statesman

Tomate from The Elder Statesman on Vimeo.

I am a fan of The Elder Statesman, the California-based, homemade-luxury brand from designer and CFDA Fashion Fund winner Greg Chait. Not surprising, since I’m a fan of anything original, and the idea of building a luxury brand around knits that, in another context, and with a lesser execution, might feel merely “outdoorsy,” is not just original, it’s audacious, and I love people who have the audacity to do whatever the heck they want, so expecting the world to stand up and take notice that the world goes ahead and does.

Tomate, the film embedded above, captures everything that’s quintessentially California about The Elder Statesman brand. It makes me want to crawl right in and take up residence in this Elder Statesman life, where silly and sunshine seem quite enough. It’s a mood movie, and just the right inspiration before I dive into a day of my own creative work.


Tags: , ,


Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman Esquire

There are no words. I have no words. I speak anyway. First in a borrowed tongue. The words (word) of Questlove on Twitter… Just “Philip.” Jim Carrey’s beautiful, beautiful send up (send off)… “Dear Philip, a beautiful beautiful soul. For the most sensitive among us the noise can be too much. Bless your heart. ;^{.”

I was (am) heartbroken by the death of the great and luminous Philip Seymour Hoffman, who pulled up the greatest beauty from the depth of his soul.

I read a quote last week from Nietzsche that I’d somehow overlooked: “We have art in order not to die of the truth.” Well, the truth descended yesterday morning.


Tags: ,

Orange Is The New Black’s
Laverne Cox On The Freedom
To Be Who You Are


“Orange Is The New Black” actress Laverne Cox held forth on the Katie show with enormous charm and grace on how focusing on the genitalia of transgender people distracts from the real issues that transgender people face.

Katie may have intended to satisfy her audience’s prurient curiosity, or she may have just meant to educate — and educate Cox did, asserting that “the preoccupation with transitioning and surgery objectifies transpeople” and distracts from “the real lived experiences” of transpeople, and the reality of their lives, which is that they are so often the object of violence, that  they face discrimination disproportionately to other people in the LGBT community, that the unemployment rate among transpeople is twice the national average, four times for transpeople of color, and that the homicide rate in the LGBT community is highest among transwomen.


Tags: , , , ,