Thoughts on the Light

At dawn and dusk, L.A. glows. There is this haze that fractures the light, scattering it in such a way that on many days the city almost has no shadows. The daylight is the most broad it can possibly be. Ever since I figured out this reverberant trick of L.A. light, the city has felt peculiar, dreamlike. I wish I was a photographer capable of catching that.

Where I live, in Santa Monica, there are mornings where a low-clinging fog bank cuts the desert light, rounding the corners of everything with a fuzziness. In moments like these, the Santa Monica mountains to the north appear as clear and dark as a church pew. And I know that at the foot of those mountains, in Malibu perhaps, someone is looking down the coast toward where I live, unable to see me, lost in the airlight. read more

Hello To All That

Today, I reread this essay by Didion called “Goodbye To All That.” I read it first in High School, with the guys I would eventually live with in New York, at around the time when I first knew I would eventually live in New York.

“Part of what I want to tell you is what it is like to be young in New York, how six months can become eight years with the deceptive ease of a film dissolve, for that is how those years appear to me now, in a long sequence of sentimental dissolves and old-fashioned trick shots—the Seagram Building fountains dissolve into snowflakes, I enter a revolving door at twenty and come out a good deal older, and on a different street. But most particularly I want to explain to you, and in the process perhaps to myself, why I no longer live in New York. It is often said that New York is a city for only the very rich and the very poor. It is less often said that New York is also, at least for those of us who came there from somewhere else, a city only for the very young.” read more

The Problem With Electric Cars

crossposted from This Place Is Different.

The problem with electric cars is they’re ugly. Or impossibly expensive.

The reason why every fourth car in my neighborhood is a Prius? Consider the competition: The Volt, while nice looking, is like twenty thousand dollars more. The Nissan Leaf, no matter how cool the technology sounds, it looks like a broken toe crossed with an old couch.

For our second car, I’d like an electric, but why, God, are there so few electric cars that don’t look like crap? I want an electric coupe. How hard is that?! I want two doors, I want little. I hate hauling around three empty seats in my car when I drive. read more

What Sick Is

There are TV shows about illness.
Those shows are about addicts with addictions.
Those shows are about the imbalanced with obsessive disorders.
Those other shows’ treatment of their subject matter ranges from clinical diagnosis to freakshow exploitation.

itsasickness celebrates interesting people – the most interested people in the world: the sick.

When I met my wife, it struck me that she was the most interesting person I had ever met in my life.  In our first conversation that night she geeked out about her obsessions.  At the time they were Django Reinhardt, her friend Frankie Manning, poet John Donne, the chemistry of nutrition and more.  I geeked out about my then-current obsessions which were the math of classical Indian ragas, politics, film, Salinger.  We talked all night and into the morning. I would have married her that very day. read more

Michael James Kavanagh

Michael Kavanagh is the 2009 winner of the RFK international journalism award.

The Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award honors those who report on issues that reflect Robert F. Kennedy’s concerns including human rights, social justice and the power of individual action in the United States and around the world.

Led by a committee of six independent journalists, the Awards are judged by more than fifty journalists each year. It has become the largest program of its kind and one of few in which the winners are determined solely by their peers. read more

Family Mythology

One of the first times I took notes with a source, laying-out a location was when my grandfather walked me around Boston to show me where he used to work.

My grandfather was a newspaperman in Boston starting in the 19-teens. Technically he painted the Sunday magazine covers like Norman Rockwell did for his paper. He knew Norman Rockwell. Before papa died, he took me around to show me where he and the guys from the paper would hang out. I was in the 6th grade.

That morning, we got to a bar called The Bell in Hand. This was the where the really old-timer newspaper men met for lunches. The name was mysterious – he had to explain what the hell a town crier was (Boston’s last one opened that tavern). Widespread public literacy is nice. read more