+ So, my friend Ben Hatke...he published a book this week. You might have heard. It's awesome. ALSO awesome: this comic about his favorite books and current reads
+ I don't really know what to say about this except...gourmet ice? really?
+ My friend Santiago Ramos published an excellent piece in the Catholic Portal of Patheos (which I really need to explore more!) asking (explaining) Why Dictators Fear Artists:
Although it has become a somewhat sappy and romanticized notion, the individual artist really does pose a threat to all totalitarian regimes. The romance should not take away from the reality of the artist's power. Yosif Feyginberg's 2002 documentary Glenn Gould: The Russian Journey provides a concrete example of that power in action. In 1957, a 24-year-old Canadian virtuoso pianist named Glenn Gould visited the Soviet Union on an official mission of cultural exchange. Gould's presence made such an impact among the Russians who heard him play that, fifty years later, Feyginberg is able to interview people for whom the encounter with Gould is still one of the most significant events of their life.Read the whole piece here. Also, The Anchoress has some related thoughts.
A theatre director named Roman Viktyuk describes a packed house in Leningrad, waiting for Gould to arrive: "The place was full of people. Everyone here was expecting a miracle." That expectation was already subversive; miracles weren't supposed to be necessary after the Revolution. Vladimir Tropp, a pianist, adds: "Gould was the first to reveal this world to us. The Berlin Wall existed in music as well, and perhaps Gould was one of those who were breaking that wall." Another fan confesses that "we started to live by each recording of Gould." The Russians who heard him play began to love Gould more than the Revolution.
+ Tangentially related (sort-of): the riots in Egypt raise important questions about looting of archeological treasures, says the WSJ.
...Now it appears that many other museum's and storehouses have been looted, along with archaeological sites. A vast, impoverished underclass seems less taken with either the nationalist narrative of Egyptian greatness that stretches back to the pharaohs, or the intrinsic value of antiquities for all humanity, and more intrigued by the possibility of gold and other loot.This may seem beside the point--why are we bothering worrying about this when there is so much else to worry about. But these aren't the treasures of a regime or a people, they are the treasures of our world and history and heritage.
+ Did I tell you guys that late last year I finally got around to watching some of Mad Men. And I really couldn't take it. I know: the chauvinism is not being praised, and besides, look at all the pretty dresses. But, my goodness it stressed me out to watch. Anyway, I quite fairly quickly, and gladly. This article, then, was just fascinating to me (in the NY Review of Books)--about the enduring trendiness of this prime-time-retro soap.
+ A really adorable downloadable daily calendar (via my friend Lucy).
+ My job would be so much easier if the friars collected baseball cards.
+ The New York Public Library has been doing some major external renovations, and they posted before and after photos on Facebook. They are amazing. (See below.) (The Courtier has more.)