Ice Friday: Woody Allen on Misery

I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. IMG_4593And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable.

(As Alvy Springer, Annie Hall, 1976)

My Parents Send Their Response

April 25/83


We have been mulling over your proposal that you hitchhike across Canada this summer and, as you can imagine, we were quite taken aback by the idea. We have considered your project very seriously and reluctantly would permit you to go.

I think it would be unreasonable for you to expect your father to contribute to the financing of not only your projected trip and also to pay the entire cost of your second year at university. You should not overlook the fact that working in the summer with people you might not otherwise encounter is a very good way of learning about “life” – I am not at all convinced that hitchhiking is a better way.

It is also dangerous though perhaps I shouldn’t exaggerate that aspect since you are big and strong and reasonably capable of coping with undesirable people you are bound to run into. You will have to steel yourself to the idea that a job in the summer of 1984 is an absolute must.


Letter From My Embarrassing Youth

April 14/83

Dear Mom and Dad;

Hi, it’s me. I guess you’re wondering why I’m writing, and I guess you’re wondering what I plan to do this summer. Well, I’m going to answer both of those questions. I’d like to hitchhike across Canada.

Now I’m sure your first reaction to this will be that I should work an (sic) make money and pay my way through university next year, but I don’t feel that way. You see, I have the energy, the spirit and the enthusiasm to try this venture right now. The problem with getting a job is that I feel it would stifle me and my artistic (that is in my writing, etc.) talents.

What I plan for this journey is intended to release my mind and make it easier for me to write creatively. The trip wouldn’t just be me running all over the country, doing nothing but looking for a good time. The whole journey is planned for two reasons: one to give me more to write about by giving me more attitudes and angles on different issues – in essence to broaden be (sic) horizon to help me write more knowledgeably. The second reason is that I, ideally, would like to write a book about the search for the Canadian identity (if there is one). The book, of course, would take a couple of years to compile and edit, but I’d like to try it. Of course if it fails, I’ve still learned a lot, haven’t I? A lot more than I might learn working at some job.

Now I’d need about $1,000 for this trip. As well, I’d again need your full financial support for university. (I guess this whole scheme sounds like I’m just as impossible as ever, but I’d like to challenge that.) All the courses I’ve taken and plan to take at university all deal with the opening of my mind – philosophically; so to get better grasp of it and my understanding and development of these ideas I think this cross-country venture would be very helpful. If I get a job, instead I work at a set amount of hours at some specified (or despecified (sic), depending on how you look at it) job. I feel this would be very stifling and, in fact, harmful to my potential as a writer, film-maker or whatever in that general field.

There is some danger in this idea, but danger is part of life and it makes life more exhilarating, does it now? What I’m trying to do is give myself more to work with creatively – I want to be as artistic and fluent in literature (film) as possible and feel this to (sic) an excellent route to such.


The Awful Writer at My Core

There is nothing so humbling as to read through one’s earliest attempts:

Hasn’t the thought occured (sic) to you that I am just an apparition, just a single brain cell in a network of billions? Of course it has, your’e (sic) only trying to ignore it, aren’t you? (From Vile Illuminations, May 1982)

Beyond the gate, the door, the way in/ Lies the jasmine sea/ Efferescing (sic) the pureness of vanity,/ An offering too great to deny or even fathom/ In the light of a persistent commonology. (sic) (From A Machine-like Collage of the Obscure, Ravenous and Divine, April 1984)imag3785Going into the watery eyes of humanity, the pitiless animal can only turn its scraggled back and wander in the tangled jungle. (From Notes on a Cross Country Journey, July 1983)

The moment as the last/Continually./Provided the cats remain cats,/For there are many other creatures,/ Such as horses that/ Most certainly,/ Would not fit through the window frame. (From Window Sill Sitting Cats, December 1984)

What’s Wrong with Model UN

The Model United Nations is all the rage these days in high schools across the United States. School clubs compete at conferences, most held at universities, in committee sessions modeled after the United Nations. harvardEach school team is assigned a specific country and topic and then debate other schools (acting as other countries) to come up with resolutions on world matters. For example, a school might be assigned India and the World Health Organization and be given the topic of International Aid for Syrian Refugees. yaleIt looks good on paper – many students use it as a tool for college applications – but it’s not as solid in practice. The problem is that students come from a place of privilege and thus have little genuine understanding of the issues, and more importantly, lack empathy. unlogoInstead of solving problems, the delegates strive for personal gain, aiming for the title of Best Delegate, and in the end model not the aims of the United Nations, but its practice at its worst.

Ice Thanksgiving: Sparhawk’s “Nothing But Heart”

I would be your king
But you wanna be free
img_4462I am nothing but heart
I am nothing but heart
I am nothing but heart
I am nothing but heart
I am nothing but heart

Anna Deavere Smith’s “Notes from the Field”

The time is now. It isn’t tomorrow. Not yesterday. Today. Anna Deavere Smith delivers a series of remarkable monologues – remarkable for their raw content as well as her impeccable delivery – espousing the immediacy of action in her one-woman show Notes from the Field. annadaevereMs. Smith moves through the most recent canon of youtube videos and news clips, spotlighting the on-going flagrant abuse of human rights meted by the police on our black youth. girl-beatenThe images – horrifying not only for their stark violence but also their all-too-familiar content – offer a window on a society in terrible flux, on the verge of change. freddiegrayprotestsAnd that, Ms. Smith says, is the key. It is a window of change, an opportunity to join forces and effect movement, guide the politicians toward investment in the future, not in law and order, but in chance for the disenfranchised by the decaying system, the off-spring of the psychological damaged society founded on slavery.

Ms. Smith opens and closes the show by citing Sherrilyn Ifill, President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund: “I encourage your discomfort, that you must contribute, that you must make your voice heard.” sherrilynifill“That is the essence of good citizenship, that bone-deep sense of obligation that you must work to improve our democracy, and to improve it especially for those who are most marginalized and most in need.”

See the show! Playing in New York now: