Happy Saturday, y’all! Here are some links from things I’ve seen this week.
:: First, a very somber one. By now we’ve all heard about the horrible gun-related mishap that took place on a film set, in which the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, was actually killed. Sheila O’Malley posted about it, and she wisely centers Hutchins and her work, as opposed to centering the gun or, as some other outlets did, Alec Baldwin. This should not have happened, and a life was snuffed out because of it.
:: Shutting Down the Manufactured Critical Race Theory “Debate”. Good piece on the staggering levels of intellectual dishonesty in the American right’s recent adoption of Critical Race Theory as their bogeyman du jour. Aside from being an interesting piece in its own right, this little factoid, illustrating Alabama’s evolution on racial issues to the point where they are now entering the year 1911, floored me:
First, ALABAMA! This is the state whose rampant racism and entrenched Jim Crow segregation laws prompted Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to organize civil rights protests there and pen “Letter from Birmingham Jail;” a state whose Constitution included a ban on interracial marriage until a statewide vote in 2000; and a state whose governors, including Ivey, are still sworn in with the same Bible used to inaugurate Jefferson Davis as the president of the Confederacy.
Wow. Imagine using that Bible as if it’s some kind of beloved totem. That we allowed the creation of a mythology about the South’s honorable devotion to the Lost Cause will surely endure as one of America’s biggest historical errors.
:: Amusement Park. A nice piece of very short fiction.
:: Why America Fell Out of Love With the Pedestrian Mall. Many cities, in the 60s and 70s and 80s, invested heavily in closing sections of their downtown cores to automobile traffic in favor of the “pedestrian mall”, in hopes that a hybrid of the “mall” concept married with downtown infrastructure could somehow assist cities in combating their financial losses from the rise of suburbs and enclosed malls. Buffalo did this too, and in recent years has been slowly re-opening that section of downtown to cars, after the pedestrian mall did nothing to stop downtown’s devolution into a wind-swept swath of concrete, shuttered storefronts, and concourses devoid of people. Pedestrian malls can be successful, but they need some very specific conditions to thrive, which the author lays out. A good example of one that works is the Commons in Ithaca (a beloved locale of mine). It’s a perfect illustration of the author’s conditions for success: the Commons is not too large, comprising only a few blocks; there’s a dense population of youth in Ithaca, with two major universities there; and Ithaca by its nature is not conducive to urban sprawl (it’s a small city to begin with, and it is geographically hemmed in by steep hills, deep gorges, and a big lake to the north). Of course, the author is from Cornell, so obviously he knows Ithaca.
:: Walking America, part four: Buffalo. A fascinating photo essay (that started as a series of Instagram posts, well worth checking out) by someone who walked pretty much from one side of Buffalo’s city limits to the other. I’m glad that he picked up on both poles in Buffalo’s general civic mood these days: “We’ve been through the ringer”, and “We’re comin’ out OK.”
As anyone who has been through a tragedy, or an addiction, or been on the losing side of whatever knows, survival requires eventually moving on. You can only worry so much what others think about you. At some point you just have to laugh it off and remember to live as you want to live.
That is what Buffalo feels likes now. A city fully in recovery.
:: Finally, a favorite installment of one of my favorite comic strips. Obviously 4-year-old Alice has no idea as to how the teevee remote control actually works, but…well, I totally endorse the idea of a “pie fight” button!