Triumph of the Imagination

Now that we’ve been in this lockdown for nearly two months I find myself wanting to get back to another world, one that I manifest through sheer will and can fully inhabit, maybe even share with others. I’m kidding, sort of. I’m just a humble writer with a humble new magazine. But I can understand the impulse.

It was the guiding impulse of Walt Disney’s life and career, according to biographer Neal Gabler, author of Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination.

Inscribed in it’s opening pages is an excerpt from William Blake–one of our favorite poets–whose words hint as to where the rest of the book is going.

I must create a system
or be enslaved by another man’s;
I will not reason and compare:
my business is to create.

William Blake
“The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”

I don’t mean to spoil the ending, but Disney succeeded. I’m sure you knew it by looking at everything today that bears his name. Disney, the man who launched a groundbreaking animation studio that revolutionized motion pictures. Disney, who created a theme park that continues to dramatically influence American culture, for better or worse.

A sympathetic view might say that his creative legacy and the force of his imagination inspired the imagination and creativity in countless generations to come all around the world, while critics might insist that the legacy of his films, the parks and merchandise only glorify some childlike escapism, a tacky sentimentality and gross materialism.

I can’t lend much to the discussion either way, one that most people might have anticipated before even reading the book. How a person connects to the films and theme parks is their own business.  I only finished the book with a renewed perspective on a man far more complicated than I realized.

What I never expected to learn was how many times he failed. How ridden with obstacles, and miseries and all sorts of horrible anxieties that long road became, the road to his own utopia, the road that ultimately never ended.

Throughout the book I found myself revisiting one question in particular. One that I think is essential in understanding the nature of success itself, specifically in this country. To what degree did his achievements rest on the ingenuity of other people?

It’s the gray area of his life and career that proved the most compelling for me. The relationship between the big idea and the details. The back-and-forth from which, it turns out, most of his problems arose.

I wondered if he ever missed the old days when he started in mixed animation and live-action shorts, and only needed a small crew and a couple of friends to stand in front of the camera.

His talent was more in coming up with ideas, and less about the smaller details on how to realize them. Of course those details played the most decisive role in getting the task done, and so naturally a far greater deal of credit is owed to those with whom he surrounded himself.

Still, the more heads in the room, the more problems arose; and it wasn’t long before he suffered one of the most devastating disappointments in his career following the studio’s loss of it’s first original character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the rights for which were lost during a contract dispute with Universal Studios.

Walt standing in front of the Animation Building, the creative hub of the studio.

It’s worth noting that, shortly thereafter, Disney and chief animator Ub Iwerks created a new character that launched Disney and his studio to international fame and served as the creative foundation from which everything would follow.

Yet from that point on, he had a harder time trusting people, which only grew following the labor strike in the early 1940s, shortly after the success of Snow White and the subsequent financial losses incurred from Pinocchio and Fantasia, cemented as classics today despite nearly bankrupting the studio at the time.

It survived but was never the same. For a brief moment before the strike, the studio had served as the closest thing to Walt’s very own creative utopia, a community of visionaries operating at the intersection of art and technology, constructing worlds that broadened the public imagination and provided a psychological, emotional, even transcendent experience for anyone willing, if not just for the artist themselves.

Following years of creative stagnancy, Disneyland was the first project to resurrect that old vision. As he once did with the animation studio, he could regard it as a perpetual work in progress, something that was both a creation in itself and a workshop for continued ideas.

Creation was the guiding impulse of his life; and so by that measure, on a core level at least, Disney was an artist, first and foremost. While the scope of his creative vision is arguably unparalleled, his greatest successes seem equally linked to his ability to manage and lead other creative people in seeing that vision realized.

Walt introducing EPCOT for a promotional film

Shortly after the park’s completion and enormous success, he started planning a second and far more ambitious project that would serve as the apotheosis of his creative energies.

Where Disneyland had become the quintessential amusement park, this would serve as the quintessential city. The Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow. Unlike the theme park and most of the innovations bearing his name, EPCOT would form a fuller synthesis between his own imagination and the real world, an environmentally sustainable community, free of pollution where people would actually be able to live and work harmoniously.

It would break down the long-standing walls between the fantasy worlds he helped create and reality, and challenge the long-standing critique that he was more preoccupied with escaping our world, rather than changing it.

Walt’s own sketch of the EPCOT project

An artist can stay true to their vision and hope others relate to it, but of course they have little control over that in the end. Disney learned as much through frequent creative disappointments that likely sobered his own perspective on the matter.

He passed away before EPCOT was ever approved, and today what stands in its place is a much smaller version of what he envisioned, a theme park only hinting at the community he had in mind.

One might dream ’till the cows come home, but when it comes to the big ones, it takes communicating to others, appreciating and counting on them to help make it happen. Recognizing the stake one person has in the other.

We could guess how well Disney understood that in the end. My guess is that he knew it, and that through every failure and subsequent success, he was always working on it.

I also think it’s no small thing how EPCOT as he saw it, represents that idea more directly than anything else he ever put to paper.

I hope someday we’ll see it realized.

Issue #4
Q&Co.

Facing Fear, One Page at a Time

One of the first things to come up in a Google search of Stephen King is that he “is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, and fantasy novels.” Now, I’m late to the Stephen King fandom but I always associated the name with just horror, not supernatural fiction, suspense and fantasy.  Therefore I assumed he was just not for me, since I am not a horror fan, whether it’s books, movies, shows, etc. 

What is it about the horror genre that I dislike so much? It’s not so much the fear it invokes while watching the movie or reading the book. It’s the fear that pops up.  For example, during those middle of the night bathroom visits, when it’s pitch black and extremely quiet in my home. All of a sudden, my senses are heightened and my mind begins to think about all the scary things I’ve seen or read about before, making it that much harder to get back to sleep. 

You know that famous shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho? I never even saw the movie before last year, and that scene haunted me for most of my life. Spoiler alert: it’s not even a scary movie. 

My boyfriend, on the other hand, is not only a fan of horror but a huge Stephen King fan, and for the last four years he’s been trying to get me to watch some of his favorite movies and read some of his favorite books…and I finally caved.

I started with the Dark Tower series last year and I zoomed through the first two books. Then I was told how much I’d enjoy The Shining.  I’d never seen the famous Stanley Kubrick movie, but after months of convincing I finally trusted that I might enjoy the book.  

If you’ve ever read The Shining then I’m sure you remember what an incredible story it is, and not so scary after all, at least not until the last third of the book.

The richness and complexity of these characters, and the development of the plot make you feel like you’re a part of this family, slowly being manipulated by the Overlook Hotel. One of my favorite parts of the book is that you empathize so much with each person; which, by the way, was something I felt strongly lacking in Kubrick’s adaptation, which I saw shortly thereafter, but that’s a discussion for another time.  The point is that I was enthralled by the story at every page.  I couldn’t put the book down and it led me straight to the sequel, Doctor Sleep.

Now, I don’t want to give away any spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read either of the books, but let me just say this is one of my favorite stories I have ever read.  I finished Doctor Sleep in about three days and was left in complete and total bliss. I cried at the end, felt so much joy and perfect closure for a story that I got to experience full circle. I felt like another member of the family I’d just spent so much time with and we just said a long and heartfelt farewell to each other. I highly recommend reading The Shining and then Doctor Sleep, back-to-back to get the full effect. 

I finished Doctor Sleep weeks ago and I’m just now starting to feel like I can start another novel. That is the beauty and magic of getting sucked into a phenomenal story, it’s something that stays with you and makes you feel like you were sharing these characters’ experiences because in a way, you were.

I never in a million years would have thought that a Stephen King novel could make me feel like my heart was left wide open in the best way possible. Needless to say, I’m a huge Stephen King fan now, and I can’t wait to read so many more of his books. I’ve realized that the stories and characters are so involved and detailed and that anything remotely scary is really more like an underlying factor.  

So on a final note: This my friends, is why you do not judge a book by its cover.  Or an author by his genre.

PS: Some Stephen King novels I’m looking forward to reading next are 11/22/63, The Stand, The Outsider and, the scariest of them all, IT.  Seriously, who am I?

 

Issue #4
Q&Co.

A sketch…a world in flux

It’s a near-complete circle, unfinished at the bottom where the shape begins and ends, as though painted in one swift, smooth brushstroke, left barely disconnected by the painter without any second thought.  I’ve seen it a lot over the past year, as I’ve consistently thought about projects still unfinished, not quite realized. 

‘This Is It’ by Thich Nhat Hanh

Last night I was thinking about sketching.  The first drawing, the rough outline for what’s to come.  The more I think about it, the more I learn to appreciate it; and the more I realize that conception, for better or worse, has always appealed to me more than completion. 

That end result has always been less exciting to me, which I guess is ironic.  Here I am pursuing something and yet—maybe subconsciously—I’m not even in a big hurry to get it.  Maybe it’s a weakness, but it’s one that I embrace.    

There’s nothing like that initial moment where something comes right out from my head and onto the page.  The sketch is raw, still in motion and only just being born.  It’s breathing and you can feel the pulse, as Jude likes to say.

Meanwhile when something is complete, it’s complete.  Done.  It’ll be hung up on a wall, put on record, published in a printing house and maybe admired and talked about for ages to come, or it might be forgotten no sooner than it arrived, but either way it’s finished. 

It might take on a life of it’s own after you and that’s a beautiful thing, but even so, it’s a life that’s separate from you.  The sense of finality isn’t always comfortable, but probably necessary. 

There are only a few things that ever seem to remain constant in my life, anyway.  Like the people I’m lucky to call friends and family, and certain fundamental understandings of life and the universe. 

In my beginning is my end…
In my end is my beginning
-T.S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”

A friend once told me the only thing consistent in life is change.  The sketch, at best, reflects that fundamental truth.   It’s still in flux, still being made.  It’s future unknown. 

Open to possibility. 

Issue #4
Q&Co.

Texas Crossroads

I saw windmills in the distance obscured by thick morning fog, looking like ominous giants way out there watching me every step of the way. Dinosaurs on the move, born again and rising out of the Texas swamps.

But then I was still in the plains. This was West Texas, just outside of Amarillo. I had music playing that morning. Elvis Presley. He was crooning one of my favorite songs. Milky White Way.

I stopped at a cafe about 80 miles to the south. The place was nearly deserted except for the lady and gentleman who ran the place. I think they ran it anyway. I think they were a married couple too. I only assumed these things by the way they carried themselves around the shop, and the way they spoke to each other, not in any good or bad way but one that seemed like they’d been doing it for many years.

They asked where I was coming from, and where I was going. I’ve had so many conversations like this over the years, it’s crazy. I don’t mind it though.
I like meeting people from across the country. It makes me feel closer to it in a way that I guess few are able to experience as often. So I count myself lucky.

I’m coming from California, I told them. “I’m headed toward Shreveport.”

“Ah well,” the lady said. “That’s a long way from here. I think you’re gonna need some coffee.”

She smiled then winked at me. The man strode in from the back room to say hello. He rested his hands onto countertop and then took a long look out the window.

“Yes please,” I said to the lady.

She went into the back room to roast me a cup. I asked for a medium since I knew that I did indeed have a longer drive ahead of me. The truth was that I hoped to make it a little farther past Shreveport if I could. The car I was driving was actually a lease, one that needed to be returned in Florida because the back seats were still there. I needed to get back to Florida before the deadline, with enough time in between to get it cleaned and in good shape before I turned it in.

The sooner I arrived, the better; but I didn’t want to push myself to the point of exhaustion either. The last thing I needed to was to get all run down and suddenly become twice as vulnerable to Señor Corona.

The lady came back from the office with a medium cup of coffee. I thanked them both very much and wished them a nice rest of the week.

“You too,” said the man. “Be safe out there and enjoy Shreveport.”

I tipped my hat to him and went out toward the door as two girls walked in, saying hello to me and to the man and woman at the counter. The four of them repeated a different version of the conversation we’d just had. The girls walked over to the coffee table by the window and signed what looked like a visitor’s log, where they likely wrote down their information and where they were traveling from and their email address and all those details.

At the front door I noticed a sign I hadn’t noticed before, or rather about twelve different signs each pointing in different directions from a wooden plank. Each sign had a different town or city, some in the United States and a few others throughout the world, from Amarillo and Santa Fe to Rome, London and Cairo, each with the corresponding number of miles between the city and this coffee shop.

I smiled and walked out the door. I started the car and continued south by southwest, heading toward Shreveport.

 

Issue #4
Q&Co.

 

Dried Garbanzo Beans: Three Ways

Dried Garbanzo Beans: Three Ways – Cooked Beans, Falafel or Hummus

Well it goes without saying these days have been an adjustment for most of us and we’re all figuring out the best ways to cope with it. As difficult as it can be emotionally and financially, my hope is that most of you are quarantined at home doing the best you can while we wait and see how the days continue to unfold.

I have been in self-isolation for over two weeks now, only venturing out when necessary. The rest of the time, I’ve been home…working some, reading some, and cooking a whole lot more.

Cooking is my coping method. Not only does it keep me busy (sometimes for hours) but it brings me joy, makes me feel useful, and best of all, leaves me with a fridge full of good food to eat for days.

With all of the panic buying that’s been taking place, especially for pantry items/non-perishables, I’m sure it’s left a lot of you with more cans and bags of dried beans than you know what to do with.

But fear not!  I already keep a surplus of dried beans handy and I love to make a big batch for the week to use in different ways.

Here is a quick video I made that uses one 16oz bag of dried garbanzo beans three different ways: falafel, hummus and cooked beans.  See below for individual recipes and notes.

To begin any of the three recipes, start by pouring the bag of dried garbanzo beans into a large bowl and covering with water to soak overnight. Once soaked, rinse them well with cool water.

Falafel

Ingredients:
-⅓ of soaked garbanzo beans (uncooked)
-1 bunch of parsley (remove stems)
-¼-½ cup of any other greens you might have (cilantro, kale, spinach, beet greens, radish greens, etc. this is optional)
-1 medium lemon
-2-4 cloves garlic (depending on your preference)
-half an onion (any variety works)
-salt to taste
-½ Tbsp cumin
-¼ tsp cardamom (optional)
-½ tsp turmeric (optional)
-¼-½ cup flour
-¼ cup cooking oil (grapeseed, avocado, coconut, etc.)
 
 
Method:
 
-Add all ingredients except soaked beans, flour and oil to a food processor and pulse until well combined, scraping the sides down as you go
-Add soaked beans and pulse until combined, continuing to scrape the sides down
-Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed
-Start adding flour a little at a time (you may not need the full amount) and pulse to combine
-Once you have a smooth paste, transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 min or up to overnight
-Remove cooled dough from refrigerator and form small discs
-To cook, heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet on medium high with ¼ cup cooking oil (make sure oil is hot before adding the falafel)
-Place falafel discs in skillet (do not crowd the pan) and cook until browned, about 5-8 min per side (you may have to adjust the heat if they’re browning too quickly or not fast enough)
-Place cooked falafel on a dish until all the dough is cooked
-Serve warm over pita bread, with hummus or tahini, with salads or bowls, the options are endless!

 

Notes: Falafel is typically made with just parsley but I love to add different greens for extra nutrition and just to use up extra greens I might have. I feel that it doesn’t affect the flavor but try it out as you see fit. There are countless recipes using canned garbanzo beans but I have not had much success with any of them. I have found the best method is to use dried beans that have been soaked overnight for the right texture.

 

Hummus

Ingredients:
-⅓ of soaked garbanzo beans (cooked in water with kombu for about an hour, until tender)
-1 lemon
-2-4 garlic cloves
-3 Tbsp-⅓ cup tahini (optional but delicious)
-about ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
 
 
Method:
 
-Add all ingredients except olive oil to a food processor and pulse until well combined
-Continue to pulse and add olive oil to the mixture, scraping the sides down as you go
-Continue mixing until very smooth, at least 3-4 minutes
-Transfer to a bowl/container and enjoy!

 

Notes: I cook the beans with kombu, a seaweed to aid in digestion, it’s totally optional but I have found it beneficial. It does not add any taste or texture to the beans. You can remove the garbanzo bean skins for extra smooth hummus (very time consuming but worth it if you want the smoothest texture.) I prefer to make the hummus when the garbanzo beans are still warm but you can pre-cook them and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to make it.  If using canned beans, follow the same process but drain and rinse the beans first (they do not need to be cooked ahead of time).

 

Cooked Beans

Ingredients:
-⅓ of the soaked garbanzo beans (cooked in water with kombu for about an hour, until tender)
-1 shallot (or onion), minced
-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
-salt and pepper to taste
-½ tsp dried oregano
-¼ cup parsley or other herbs you have (cilantro, thyme, etc.), chopped
-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
 
 
Method:
 
-Heat oil in a medium pot and add shallot, garlic, salt, pepper and dried oregano, cook until fragrant about 2-3 minutes
-Add juice of lemon and parsley and saute for another 2-3 minutes
-Add pre-cooked beans and vegetable broth
-Bring to a boil and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 min
-Serve warm, over rice or any other grain, in mixed bowls, with salad, etc.
-Keep leftovers refrigerated. You can add to soups or even puree into hummus as well.

 

Notes: I cook the beans with kombu, a seaweed to aid in digestion, it’s totally optional but I have found it beneficial. It does not add any taste or texture to the beans. You can use canned beans as well just make sure to drain and rinse them well beforehand. This base works well for any type of bean. I love the delicate flavor of the shallots but you can use any variety of onion you might have on hand. You can also add some red pepper flakes if you like it spicy.

Issue #3
Q&Co. 

Portrait of a Chef #1

Typical Family Photo – 1992
One day, as per usual, I was scrolling through Instagram and stopped at this post by @briannamadia (by far my favorite person on IG.)  I’ve always loved her writing but this particular caption struck a chord.  In fact, one line stood out from the rest. 
“Not only do we grow up and in to who we are…we grow up and in to who we’ve always been.”
When I think back to being a little girl, I was fearless and uninhibited. I loved to be the life of the party and refused to conform to social norms. I grew up as the only girl in my family and so I received a lot of attention, which was fine by me.
Countless family photos show everyone smiling for the camera with me jumping into the shot making funny faces, throwing my hands up and being silly.  At four years old, when my brother and cousin were playing video games, typically shirtless, in the living room, I’d go and join them until my mom came in and reminded me, as she’d done a million times that I had to keep my shirt on because I was a lady.
I’d stand up to boys on the playground who wanted to steal my toys and share my young opinions with little thought as to what people might think about them.
Of course, as is often the case with kids, everything changed around adolescence.  I became a shadow of who I was, really only showing my true self to those closest to me, which was mostly family. I’d grown shy and deeply self-conscious, scared to speak to people I didn’t know, scared to say what I really thought for fear of rejection. I conformed to those around me so I wouldn’t be labeled different or weird.  Never once stopping to remember the little girl who was so unabashedly herself.
I spent a ridiculous amount of my young adult life questioning myself, living in a state of perpetual self-consciousness and eventually placing my self-worth in the hands of whoever I was in a relationship with at the time. In short, I had forgotten who I was.
Furthermore, I always had a vague picture of the woman I wanted to be, but it felt unattainable. It felt like I could never change, like I’d be stuck in a spiral of insecurity for the rest of my life.

 

Big Sur Adventures 2016
Fortunately that turned out not to be the case.  I didn’t realize it then, but it had less to do with becoming something I actually wasn’t and more to do with letting go of the limiting beliefs and doubts I had placed on myself.
Thankfully, at 32 years old, I am happy with who I am.  Though of course, that’s not to say this is it, since I continue to reflect on who I am, who I used to be and where I’m going from here. Change isn’t always something happy or easy to go through, but I would always rather evolve than remain stagnant. I am no longer in that shell I lived in for so long, hiding behind a mask of what I thought I should be. 
What’s more is that I hadn’t really considered my experience as a shared experience at all until I read that line.
“We grow up and in to who we’ve always been.”
It made me think of that little girl in the family photos, and I couldn’t help but smile.  I’ve done a lot of growing, especially over the last decade (that’s a longer story for a later time) but those words made me realize something extremely important. 
I am becoming who I always was.

Issue #3
Q&Co. 

Washing Our Hands

The COVID-19 outbreak leaves me with more questions than revelations about human nature. 

I’m wondering what effect it will have on the world beyond people’s physical health or the global economy, and whether it will change the way we think. If so then how?

Like many people, I’ve long been convinced that the root causes of the world’s most pressing problems are systemic, and not exactly the kind that can be resolved through any sweeping piece of legislation.

That’s not to say the solutions aren’t simple. However, systemic change requires everyone making individual changes not because they are being made to, but because they have internalized, often through personal experience, how and why they should be making the change at all, because they are personally invested in doing so, because they realize they are a part of something bigger than themselves.

That universal realization would most definitely require a shift in the current collective consciousness; and while the shift itself might be simple, how we go about creating it has always proven complicated, because it has less to do with the laws we pass and more to do with how we educate ourselves with respect to the human experience, how we contextualize that shared experience and reinforce it to ourselves on a daily basis.

We’ve always seemed to know theoretically that compassion and respect, listening and sharing each help to create happier, more healthy relationships, and a more sustainable environment for everyone. It’s only in the practical application where we seem to have difficultly.

What’s more is that it only seems to get harder for us as the world’s population grows. How do you get everyone, everywhere, so suddenly and simultaneously, to internalize deeply enough just how tied they are to the person next to them? That the idea of each of us going at it alone, with little to no regard for the other person’s welfare and prosperity, is and always has been a delusional fantasy, especially as the world’s population grows?

It’s likely an easier concept to grasp, say, for crewmen on a ship, or people in a village, or a family in a home. Anyplace where the physical space is smaller and interactions more frequent and visibly consequential.

On the ship you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who ever questions the point in doing their part, or who gives up on the rest of the crew because they’ve suddenly grown cynical and bitter and tired. They do their part because they know if they don’t, the operational integrity of the ship will suffer.

Yet whether it’s the age-old global issues of war, poverty and racism, or the more recent and very real threat of climate change, the problems we continually face seem directly attributable to the fact that we as a planet lack any real sense of investment in one another.

One might be compelled to look up toward the heavens now in surrender, as if only some sudden, cataclysmic event might serve as the last remaining instrument in creating such sweeping behavioral change.

You’ve probably guessed it by now, but that is exactly what the coronavirus can be; and though it has left many of us justifiably worried, I can’t help but see it as a critical opportunity.

‘2020 Reboot’ by Ren Michael

As the world’s population has skyrocketed over the past 100 years, so too have our technologies.  With our additional advancements in medicine, it’s safe to say that we have grown more inclined to simple solutions for complicated problems, more or less adopting a ‘magic pill’ solution–be it legislation or an actual pill–for problems that can be more effectively, if not even permanently, remedied through fundamental changes in our lifestyle and our collective point of view. 

As technologies have made our daily lives easier and done more of our work for us, whether it’s in how we obtain our food, care for our bodies or solve our geopolitical differences, we have grown less accepting of complication, ignoring the fact that complication doesn’t necessarily mean ‘more difficult.’

And though technology has long been replacing manpower and, by extension, increasingly reducing human interaction and cooperation, the consequences of that trend only seem to grow more evident and critical with every year, leading not just to the atrophy of basic, interpersonal skill sets but more so to the already broadening disregard of our own basic interconnectedness, understandings which are no more spiritual than they are practical and essential to the long-term sustainability of any society or ecosystem.  

Sure enough, that disregard has filtered out to virtually every sphere of public life in the industrialized world.  Remember only a month ago when you’d go out to a restaurant and likely see people at the table looking at their phones instead of each other? 

Remember when images of people walking around in face masks seemed like some distant reality, like something that could never and would never happen here? 

Remember the last time you walked amongst a crowd of people not giving it a second thought?  Without ever considering that someday soon, and for the immediate days following, you suddenly wouldn’t be able to do that?

How often and easily we took our daily lives for granted, our extraordinary privilege to walk alongside each other as friends, strangers, lovers, brothers and sisters.  Personally, I can’t wait to stand in a crowd again without worrying about getting sick and simply walk as just another citizen, another human being, one of many throughout the world who live under one sun, inhabiting a very precious and unique planet.   

I can’t help but feel that physical isolation from one another in recognition of a greater good, in which we are so suddenly allowed time to ourselves if not with the people we love, is exactly what we need at this pivotal hour in our history.  For in taking away something so essential to everyday human life, we may yet learn to appreciate and utilize it more.

In Barcelona, every night at 8:00, residents stand outside their balconies and look out over what is typically a congested street and applaud the country’s healthcare workers. 

While Spain has long been marked by tension between its autonomous communities and the national government, any sort animosity people once felt toward each other, and particularly toward their government, is now gone.

They applaud in Madrid, Seville, Valencia and Pamplona, and in many other cities throughout the country, in a sudden and resounding show of support and solidarity.  

Things have changed.  Circumstances have dramatically altered what once seemed to be an indomitable perspective. 

More than once I’ve pictured myself locked in some conflict with a person I love, with whom it seems there is no conceivable reconciliation until that person is thrust into danger.  An accident occurs and they lie in a hospital bed, at which point all our past disagreements are suddenly revealed to be petty and ridiculous.

Our planet faces a turning point now.  We stand at a crossroads unlike any we’ve encountered before.  Indeed unlike crises of the past, it involves all us, everywhere.  It pays little attention to race, religion, rich or poor, left or right.  East or West.  No, it comes for us all and we can face it together or we can continue as we’ve been, divided. 

So long as there is one good person out there in the world, then there is hope for it.  Fortunately, there is more than one good person.  Fortunately, there are millions, and they form the oldest silent majority in history.   

I’m sure you’re one of those people.  I am one of those people.  Our brothers and sisters are in trouble.  They’re sick.  They’re suddenly out of work.  They’re overwhelmed.  They need us.  I need you. 

We can do our part by staying home not only for ourselves but for others, for those who are in hospitals, and for everyone out there every day because they have to be. 

We can remember that we’re in this together, and that our actions do indeed affect one another. 

If we each do our part, we can and we will get through this.  

Truly now more than ever, there is no them, no they

There is only us.  

Issue #3
Q&Co. 

Fun with Al & Dean: Climate

Al and Dean are two old friends and neighbors who live across the street from one another. Every so often, they’ll get into a little discussion over things. What follows is one of their more recent conversations.

Al: Dean!

Dean: Al!

Al: I got a question for you.

Dean: Shoot.

Al: Let’s say you’re in your house and you’ve got a problem with your pipes. And on the matter you have the option of consulting a plumber, a tailor or a zookeeper.

Dean: Ok

Al: To whom would you be most inclined to listen?

Dean: The plumber.

Al: The plumber, right? Me too. But wait, let’s say the zookeeper came in afterwards, just as you were about to get to work, and said “Ahhhhh. Pay no attention to what the plumber says. It’s all a bunch of mumbo jumbo.” Just to be sure, you consult more plumbers, and they all pretty much agree on what’s causing the problem. Yet still, that zookeeper remains steadfast in his opinion. Who would you be most likely to believe?

Dean: The plumbers.

Al: Me too. But wait, how do you know that the plumbers aren’t just nickle-and-diming you, cheating you, bamboozling you? I mean, they would say there is a problem, right? A pipe problem is good business for them after all, right? They can turn a profit and make some money from the problem.

Dean: I suppose that’s possible, but I figured that was part of the reason I consulted more than one plumber.

Al: Right.

Dean: If they arrive at the same consensus, then there’s little chance they’re trying to trick me and more than likely, they’re just doing their job. More than likely, the simplest explanation is the right one.

Al: Cool, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Dean: Well that’s why you have me.

Al: Too true. So now let’s say that in today’s current world, that an overwhelming majority of scientists across the world arrived at a consensus which acknowledges that climate change is happening, that it’s caused by human activity, and that it’s changing the planet in a way that is less hospitable to human beings.

Now, mind you, I’m not saying that it is the reality, but let’s just say that it was.

Anyway, scientists around the world arrived at this consensus, and not long after, we began hearing from politicians and businessmen around the world who said ‘Ahhhhh. Pay no attention to what those scientists said. It’s all a bunch of mumbo jumbo.’

Now, if that were the situation, who would you be inclined to believe? Let me ask you this. Historically, who has a better reputation for trustworthiness? Scientists, or politicians and businessmen?

Dean: Let’s just say I would trust the scientists.

Al: I would too. Cool.

Dean: Cool.

Al: But wait! How do you know those scientists are even telling you the truth? How do you know they aren’t cheating you, bamboozling you? I mean, they would say there is a problem, right? That puts the spotlight on them after all, and they so are likely to turn a profit, right?

Dean: Wrong.

Al: What do you mean?

Dean: Well for one thing, like in the situation with the plumber, that’s part of the reason why you would consult more than one scientist. If they seem to arrive at the same consensus, then there’s little chance they’re trying to trick me and more than likely, they’re just doing their job, as the simplest explanation remains the right one.

Al: Ok.

Dean: But even more so, scientists have been and remain anchored in their work by fact. They work to establish objective truths. That’s what they do, and have always done, for societies. That’s why they exist. And so they aren’t beholden to private motivations or opinions, unlike politicians and businessmen.

Al: So now that we’ve ironed out those hypotheticals, I can say here and now that I’ve accepted the fact of climate change indeed happening and being caused by human activity, as it is the scientific consensus of the planet.

Since we have just ironed out those hypothetical conditions, the only possible remaining point of contention between us–the only thing we can possibly debate at this point–is whether or not it is in fact the scientific consensus that climate change is real and being caused by human activity.

And to that point, I will provide for you now a list of sources who agree that our climate is changing due to human activity, and that it’s changing the planet in a way that is less hospitable to human beings. Afterward, if you are still so inclined, please feel free to do your own research using the same deductive reasoning we have here established.  (Below these links are additional resources to take action)

American Meteorological Society (AMS)
https://www.ametsoc.org/index.cfm/ams/about-ams/ams-statements/statements-of-the-ams-in-force/climate-change1/

Climate at the National Academies
https://sites.nationalacademies.org/sites/climate/index.htm

NASA
https://climate.nasa.gov/causes/

The Geological Society of America (GSA)
https://www.geosociety.org/gsa/positions/position10.aspx

American Geophysical Union (AGU)
https://www.agu.org/Share-and-Advocate/Share/Policymakers/Position-Statements/Position_Climate

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
https://www.aaas.org/news/aaas-reaffirms-statements-climate-change-and-integrity

American Chemical Society (ACS)
https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/policy/publicpolicies/sustainability/globalclimatechange.html

American Physical Society (APS)
https://www.aps.org/policy/statements/15_3.cfm

Fourth National Climate Assessment
https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/

Climate at the National Academies
https://sites.nationalacademies.org/cs/groups/internationalsite/documents/webpage/international_080877.pdf

Australian Government – Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
https://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/climate-science-data/climate-science/greenhouse-effect

IOPscience
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/048002

Climate Change Adaptation: What Federal Agencies Are Doing
https://www.c2es.org/site/assets/uploads/2012/02/climate-change-adaptation-what-federal-agencies-are-doing.pdf

International Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, Summary for Policymakers (2014)
https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/ipcc_wg3_ar5_summary-for-policymakers.pdf

 

*Resources to Take Action

 

Join and Donate to the Sierra Club

https://www.sierraclub.org

 

Guides to Taking Action in Our Everyday Lives

https://www.climategen.org/take-action/act-climate-change/take-action/

https://www.activesustainability.com/climate-change/6-actions-to-fight-climate-change/

 

critic at the pulpit

by Cal Corso

Art belongs to the people. It always has and hopefully always will.

It’s an important relationship, essential to the human experience.  Still it’s most consistent threat comes in the form of the intellectual asserting their expertise and implicitly suggesting some greater understanding of the art than the average person, even though we all have eyes and ears.

It’s a role that really shouldn’t exist unless it celebrates the work and it’s potential value to society.  If the work itself is no good then why talk about it at all? Wouldn’t it just add more noise to something that isn’t worthwhile to begin with?

Conversation and debate, more so than criticism, should arise from the ideas suggested by the art, and not dwell on whether the work is any good.  Any real complaint or criticism, then, would still manage to stimulate further discussion instead of stifling it.

“Never use a long word where a short one will do.”
-George Orwell

I can’t help but notice how these critics are a lot like some religious leaders who take a universal experience, plainly accessible to everyone, and suggest that their perspective on it is somehow more credible than our own, that they are more aware of its complexities–even though these are typically complexities of their own creation.

Most of them have never made a film, written a novel, composed music, or contributed anything to the field in which they claim expertise.  What they have done is invent a vocabulary, spontaneously and without any great need for one, a lexicon uniquely tailored to the craft, to a collective experience, that only further reinforces the illusion that they understand it more deeply than we do.

Jargon complicates the experience for the layman, reserving it for the elites who invent the language, evidently to perpetuate their own sense of self-importance.

In the late 1940s, William Faulkner criticized Ernest Hemingway for his terse style of writing, his limited choice of words.

“He has no courage, has never crawled out on a limb,” Faulkner said. “He has never been known to use a word that might cause the reader to check with a dictionary to see if it is properly used.”

When Hemingway heard about the criticism, he had his own choice words for Faulkner.

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.”

Very often I’ve met people who find art overwhelming, even intimidating, just like they do poetry and certain types of music, like jazz or classical, because they feel it goes over their head.  They get discouraged by their seeming inability to figure out what the artist is trying to say, as if there’s some great big point to it they cannot grasp.

Ultimately it’s a product of our own making.  We’ve cultivated a whole industry that assumes the right to decide for everyone else what is good and what is bad, even though there has never been a science in determining something like that, and suggesting otherwise only reinforces the idea of there being some secret language to understanding it in the first place, a language reserved only for the esoteric few instead of the many.

There is no big secret, or code, or convoluted way.  The language is universal.  There is only the reaction, our own individual connections to the art, every bit as legitimate as the reactions of the self-proclaimed scholars.

I emphasize this because, in this magazine, we’ll be talking about music and films and painting and all kinds of art that we enjoy here at Quinby & Co. We’ll be talking about why we enjoy it too.

We will never be talking about something just so that we can give it a bad review and shoot it down.  If you hear any kind of criticism, it will more often address a specific point we feel the work in question is making, one that we feel has broader societal and philosophical implications.

If anything, it will try and stimulate debate not on the merit of the work but on the larger points that we have interpreted from it.  Most often, it will be a conversation over ideas.  We are not experts here, but we are passionate about telling good stories that resonate with people, about the tradition of telling stories and understanding why, since the dawn of man, we’ve even bothered to do it all.

To that point, we’d like to emphasize our belief that any work of art that stimulates such discussion is still, at the very least, something worthwhile.  Something worth experiencing.  In our humble opinion, it makes for a significant contribution to the times in which we live.

Issue #2 / Quinby & Co.

where to begin? Mozart.

by J.L. Quinby

If you’re just getting into classical music, I think the best place to begin would be with Mozart. 

Why?  Because if you can’t get into Mozart, you probably won’t be into classical music.  Yea maybe that’s a crude way of putting it, but I think it’s true; and it’s a testament to the universality of his music, how much it encompassed all that came before and influenced all that would follow.  

Now the best piece to begin with is “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” and it’s safe to say that most people in the world have heard this charming little piece of music.  No doubt when you play the first movement in the serenade, you’ll probably recognize it.

But hey, it’s good to start off with something familiar, and this is just an introduction after all.  I think that for anyone overwhelmed by classical music, it’s helpful to begin with what you know, and this is as good a piece as any. 

It even feels like a invitation when you listen, like someone welcoming you to a party on some crisp evening by the river, just as the sun sets and the stars begin to appear over the hills. 

I think Mozart understood this well enough.  I can just picture him writing the title after composing it.  “Just a little something I wrote.  In fact, we’ll call it A little night music.”  

Begin with the first piece and let the whole serenade play.   It’s four movements so let them play right one after the other.  Each one is as lilting and lovely as the next.  

By the way, in my humble opinion, the best players of Mozart’s chamber music are Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner.

So without further ado, for your listening pleasure…here’s a little night music. We hope you enjoy.

Issue #2 / Quinby & Co.