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September 2012 (98 posts)
Finally I discovered the locus of these zany strollers: the no-kill animal shelter nearby, which uses volunteer dog walkers to exercise animals awaiting adoption. Of course! No wonder the people were so psyched. There was the whiff of infatuation about them; the pure satisfaction of doing a good thing. The volunteers, in the simplest way, were being a blessing to those dogs, and it was lending them a glow that transcended the orneriness of their assigned mutts.
Today, another one: a 20-something guy with a rowdy lab mix. The dog spotted something -- a squirrel, or a rabbit, or a Ghost of Milkbone Past -- and took off sprinting. The guy struggled to hold the dog back and I thought, "I hear that, brother, I know what you're going through." I've had dog walks like that, but I've also had life moments like that -- when it's all zooming away and you're trying desperately to hold it back. Then the guy gave the dog a big, goofy grin, and did what we should probably all do more more often: he took off running. Maybe it was my imagination, but it seemed like the man and the dog shared a knowing look, and then, barking and laughing, they raced down the street.
Insanely Nice Things You Can Say to Anybody
Making Joy a Goal
In 2010, eight years after Carson sold his trash company, an artist friend in the billboard industry mentioned that the massive ads, removed from their boards, made great drop cloths for painting. The wheels in Carson's head began to turn. He found a few billboards for sale, and put out feelers to friends in the agriculture and construction industries to see if they had any use for them. Thanks to his intervention, the billboards were reborn as tarps to cover hay and building materials. "We quickly ran out," says Carson, who was so encouraged that he started reaching out to more industries—from bowling pin manufacturers to poultry farmers—to inquire about purchasing hard-to-recycle items.
Soon he'd founded Repurposed Materials, a company that turns would-be trash into valuable commodities. Torn-down billboards become pond liners, projection screens, even makeshift Slip 'N Slides. Synthetic turf from football fields is refashioned into cushioning for egg-laying chickens. And when one customer intuited that street-sweepers' brushes, stood on end, could be back scratchers for livestock, Carson sold two to the Bronx Zoo for its rhinoceros pen. "We're helping industries pool their knowledge," he says. "And our customers spend far less than they would buying similar products new."
Carson now spends his days devouring trade magazines and visiting businesses to examine what they're throwing away. "This is my second foray into the waste stream of America," he says with a laugh. "Round one, I was burying things in the landfill. Round two, I'm trying to keep them out."
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* What do you do with 109,000 hats? Scott Legried has been trying to answer that question ever since his father died last year, leaving behind the world's largest cap collection. (WSJ)
* Watch the trailer for Knuckleball!, a documentary about baseball's most unpredictable pitch, which came out this week. (iTunes)
* Get out the tissues: This note from comedian Chris Gethard to an anonymous depressed fan is the most moving thing you will read all day. (The Chris Gethard Show)
In an approximately one-by-two-foot box, Elly MacKay constructs tiny, delicately detailed scenes—mermaids frolicking, a child's hand shadow puppets coming to life, a skulk of foxes traversing the woods—out of little more than paper and imagination. Once these soft-focus flights of fancy are arranged to her liking, MacKay carefully lights them and experiments with various camera filters and lenses to produce an effect of dreamy immediacy in the resulting photograph. "I try to make the work feel intimate, like you're inside it," she says.
MacKay begins each diorama by layering parchment paper, dollhouse wallpaper, Yupo paper (a synthetic, semitranslucent material), or Mylar against the backdrop of the box; she might use several sheets for an opaque nightscape, but only a few for a glowing daylight scene. Then MacKay sketches images—a cherub, a sailboat, an endless sea—with a vintage calligraphy pen, colors them with ink, cuts them out, and carefully hooks these shapes into the diorama using wires and adhesives. Once the stage is set, "I usually take about 50 pictures," she says, "each only subtly different, and then choose the one I like best."
As a teenager, MacKay was fascinated by Victorian paper toys—tunnel books, zoetropes, acrobats that tumble down a slope—and by the age of 15 had begun creating dioramas that adopted the same colorful, playful aesthetic. By 16 she was preparing for a degree in art studies. "In university the attitude was like, You have to stop doing this stuff! It's silly, childish." But giving birth to her daughter, Lily, in 2008 and son, Koen, three years later, only solidified MacKay's love of the nostalgic world of childhood. "Sharing their new experiences is so inspiring," she says, "and capturing that feels like real magic."
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Great American Novel? It's at least very, very good.
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
This early Oprah book club pick still changes lives.
Personal History by Katharine Graham
A revealing autobiography that never feels like TMI.
Okay, so maybe that's not always the case. And even being acclaimed as a genius (by your artistic community, by your mother, whoever) doesn't usually come with mundane perks like health insurance. Enter the brilliance that is upstate New York's O+ Festival.
Now in its third year, the O+ festival is, in the words of co-founder Alexandra Marvar, "a super-fun, weekend-long party, and one small community's band-aid solution to inaccessible healthcare for artists and musicians." Musicians and artists barter their services for free dental work, physical therapy, eye exams, and other medical services they would otherwise not have access to. It's a lovely way to connect different sectors of a small town, and it's also a creative, DIY solution to the country's current health care crisis. Even non-performing participants of the festival glean healthful benefits, with workshops on yoga and nutrition. It's not exactly drunken head-banging, but okay, it sounds like a pretty fun way to spend a weekend -- and actually feel better afterwards.
Visit the O+ Festival official site to learn more, and, just possibly, to start thinking creatively about sources of healthcare in your own life...
How Much Do You Know About Health Insurance?
Dr Oz. Starts a Record-Breaking Free Clinic
Those lips, those eyes, that...purse? I love these accessories inspired by surrealist art, à la René Magritte's Scheherazade, 1948 (above). Don't worry about being too bold—these pieces are meant to be conversation starters.
Its new Botanicals collection comes in three scents—Fig & Bamboo, Vetiver & Cardamom, and Coriander & Mandarin—and consists of seven body-pampering treats (from a rich sugar butter scrub to a moisturizing soufflé) the likes of which you might expect to find in a thoroughly modern spa rather than an old-timey apothecary.
I especially like the delicate fragrance of the hydrating Coriander & Mandarin Hand Crème and Body Lotion ($16 and $26; caswellmassey.com).