Bob Adelman during the march from Selma to Montgomery, 1965.
- So you’ve bought an English country house—great! And you have a time machine, allowing you to choose when you’ll reside at said country house—great! May I recommend the interwar period? It was a truly exceptional time to own an English country house. Adrian Tinniswood has a new book about the era, arguing that it was “a world of energy, invention, and change … The loosening bonds between family, mansion and local community meant the country house was changing, but it was not dying … A ‘spirit of restlessness’ characterized the age. Country-house parties could last from forty-eight hours to three weeks. The word week-end entered common usage as expanding rail networks and car ownership meant that people could dash to the country on Friday and return on Monday exhausted after a race, a ball, a shoot, or a political gathering … Women, in particular, were confronted with grueling social expectations: a seven-day shooting party, for example, would require multiple outfits for every day of the week.”
- Ian Penman on Patti Smith’s new memoir, M Train, which finds her visiting writers’ graves a bit too fashionably, if not too regularly: “The spell-casting mood of M Train demands that Smith fly off on a moment’s whim, spurred on by nothing more than a lovely line in a new book she’s picked up: she realizes she loves Writer A, who either lives or is now buried in City B, decides she has to be there NOW, and before you know it she’s graveside again, the Intercity angel of death in dark Helmut Lang pants and Ann Demeulemeester cloak. It’s all so smooth and hassle-free … There are things in M Train that niggle at me in the same way [Bruce] Chatwin’s work often did: the feeling that for all their much vaunted ‘realism’ these treks occurred in a rather privileged sphere. There’s always a rich pal to provide a bed, a dinner table, a handy castle to stay at for the season; there’s always someone in the background to make sure the plane tickets arrive; fresh figs on the bedside table. Special people, living by special rules. Like Chatwin, Smith is also a bit of a consumer fetishist: the simplest things have to have a special aura or signature—or, let’s get real, a high-toned brand name. It has to be a certain Moleskine notebook. The pencil has to be Conté. The ink has to be from a little shop no one knows in the backstreets of Florence.”
- The landscape architect Adriaan Geuze (pronounced “Huh-zaa”) is changing our notions of what a park can be. But to understand his work it helps to understand his past in the Netherlands—unless you’ve never wondered about the formative years of an influential landscape architect: “‘Ecology in Holland is in grids,’ Geuze said. ‘Every frog in Holland is in a line, because all the water is linear … The smell of the tide near Dordrecht, it intoxicated my brains … All the boys were into soccer, but I could not play soccer.’ Waiting out the school day, he would think, he said, ‘I have a tree hut. I have secret places you don’t even know where they are.’ When Geuze was a teenager, his father took him along to international industry and agricultural shows. ‘We went to the German Hanover machinery expos, where there would be not five machines but five thousand machines. He took me on very big boats, at least in my imagination—ocean steamers—and even an oil platform. Even into the engine rooms, where the violent noise was there. When I am romantic, I am thinking about these things.’ ”
- Ben Jones and Christopher Forgues, cartoonists who collaborate under the name Paper Radio, have been quietly breaking the mold since 1999: “Working together, often under pseudonyms, they changed the form and content of comics as few other artists have, radically distorting extant storytelling genres and emphasizing experimental approaches to drawing and printing … A Paper Radio publication could contain subversive fan fiction about the Muppet Babies, elaborate fantasy adventures, psychedelic space operas, or crude slapstick gags. All of these works circulated in small editions among an audience of like-minded artists and musicians, members of a largely unchronicled New England subculture whose aesthetic continues to seep, credited or not, into popular visual forms, from music videos to subway advertisements.”