Model Mad, Painter

Mr. Bradford surveying the rotunda of the pavilion replica. Joshua White

We appreciate Mark Bradford’s concern about how he can represent the United States when he no longer feels represented by his government. Many of us on this platform are trying to find ways to express the same concern without resorting to nihilism, dystopic or other forms of hopelessness.

It takes an artist like Mr. Bradford to remind us of how we can creatively address this concern. It has the true ring of the same core concern driving others in the arts we have been pointing to in the model mad series. Thanks to Jori Finkel and the Arts section of the New York Times for An Artist’s Mythic Rebellion for the Venice Biennale:

LOS ANGELES — Mark Bradford, one of America’s most acclaimed painters, could not figure out what to put in the grand rotunda.

This artist, who is set to represent his country in May at the 2017 Venice Biennale, found an unusual way of working long-distance. In a warehouse in South Los Angeles, not far from where he grew up, he created a full-size model of the Biennale’s United States pavilion, a stately building with echoes of Monticello. Continue reading

Breaking Rules When The Result Is Worth It

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The strawberries at Harry’s Berries, grown in Oxnard, Calif., are harvested only once every five days, to give the fruit time to reach its peak flavor. Credit Amy Dickerson for The New York Times

Renegade behavior in the abstract attracts us almost always. We admit to favoring examples, cases, histories that point to unusual choices that we think provide a model for others to follow to solve problems. However, sometimes there is no choice but to point to the downside of renegade behavior, aka breaking the rules on which society depends. And there are plenty of lousy renegades we read about but do not foul up these pages with. Today, it’s coming up strawberries. Thanks to Rick and Molly and to Karen Stabiner for bringing this story forward:

Red, Ripe and Renegade: Berries That Break All the Rules

“This one should be O.K.,” he said, sounding not quite convinced. Then again, his definition of ripe is more stringent than most. Continue reading

Osage Nation’s Reign Of Terror

20253bbcb2dd6c45dd81207b5472e853c352bbd3Many of our links to the too many stories of injustice perpetrated against Native Americans in the last year had to do with pipelines.  Some stories focus on the positive, but there remains plenty of negative. The only time we have noted the Osage Nation in these pages, it was under the happier circumstances of someone doing the right thing by them.

David Grann’s new book is being reviewed, and he is being interviewed, just as one of his earlier articles has become a powerhouse cinematic experience. He is our kind of sleuth, and so it is strange that we have not linked to his work before. Thanks to Theodore Ross in the New Republic for bringing this to our attention:

…In the early 1900s, the Osage were among the wealthiest people in the United States, after a large oil reservoir was discovered beneath the barren Oklahoma scrubland they had been driven to by white settlers and the federal government. Then tragedy: a string of murders, each following close on the heels of the next, as a bloody plot to separate the Osage from their money and land unfolded.

Grann tells the story of these murders, the conspirators, and the new breed of lawmen from the FBI who hunted them down. He also reveals a far worse scheme, one that encompasses America’s institutional racism and violence, and the exploitation of Native Americans… Continue reading

If You Eat Canned Tuna, Consider This

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We check in with EcoWatch regularly, and from time to time Greenpeace has a surprising piece of content featured, like this 20 Canned Tuna Brands Ranked: How Sustainable Is Your Brand?

StarkistWarn.jpgWhat is surprising to me is this pop up call to action, which echoes back at least three decades for me to the first time I heard of Greenpeace, which was also the first time I heard of any issues related to canned tuna, which was also the first time I looked on a map to see where the Gulf of California, and Baja California Sur were situated. It is surprising because on the ranking above, this same tuna is not the absolute worst of the worst. Even more surprising, in its own way, is that Trader Joe’s is even worse in this ranking. Go figure. Anyway, thanks to David Pinsky, Greenpeace, and EcoWatch for this: Continue reading

Letters to Young Farmers

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The reference of the title isn’t lost on us, for the “everyday act of creation”, of coaxing bounty from the soil, is a form of poetry. We applaud both the advisors and the ears on which the advice falls.

Letters to a Young Farmer is full of good counsel for the next generation from the likes of Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan, and the noted novelist Barbara Kingsolver.

Dear young farmer,

Let me speak to you as a familiar, because of all the years I’ve cherished members of your tribe. Of course, I also know you’re only yourself, just as I remember the uniqueness of every intern, WWOOFer, and summer weed-puller who has spent a season or two on our family’s farm. Some preferred to work without shoes. Some were captivated by the science of soils, botany, and pest management. Some listened to their iPods, or meditated, or even sang as they hoed and weeded, while others found no music among the bean bee­tles. A few confessed to finding this work too hard, but many have gone on to manage other farms or buy places of their own. In these exceptional souls I invest my hopes….

Continue reading

Dismantling Protection, Effectively & Efficiently

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How is it that an Administration as disorganized as Donald Trump’s has been so methodical when it comes to attacking the environment? PHOTOGRAPH BY JOE RAEDLE / GETTY

I committed myself to not name the name, because it adds fuel to a flame that is already out of control. But if you have read any of the posts in our model mad series the name is clearly implied.  Plenty of others name so well that it is best just to link their work. One of the best namer of names when it comes to our environment, and failure to protect it, is Elizabeth Kolbert. She occasionally points out that we do not simply fail to protect, but willingly allow the named to dismantle critical protections. We are sadly impressed that Dame Doomsday doesn’t disappoint with her latest contribution:

Next week, millions of Americans will celebrate Earth Day, even though, three months into Donald Trump’s Presidency, there sure isn’t much to celebrate. A White House characterized by flaming incompetence has nevertheless managed to do one thing effectively: it has trashed years’ worth of work to protect the planet. As David Horsey put it recently, in the Los Angeles Times, “Donald Trump’s foreign policy and legislative agenda may be a confused mess,” but “his administration’s attack on the environment is operating with the focus and zeal of the Spanish Inquisition.” Continue reading

Family, Editorializing, Persistence

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A front page screen shot of Iowa’s Storm Lake Times, which has won a Pulitzer Prize. Photograph: Storm Lake Times

There seems to be a tradition in the field of journalism in the USA whereby one publication celebrates another’s victory in the Pulitzer awards race. Thanks to the Guardian for its shout out, from across the water, to this little publication. As a member of a small organization with multiple family members working together; an organization that editorializes about food as much as anything else; an enterprise that persists against the odds; I particularly like the David & Goliath ring of this:

Tiny, family-run Iowa newspaper wins Pulitzer for taking on agriculture companies

Art Cullen owns the 3,000-circulation Storm Lake Times with his brother John. His wife and son also work at the paper Continue reading

Model Mad, Podcast

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We, among millions of others, had to have a listen. It would be useless to comment on it, but we pass it along to the few people who have not yet heard about it. The only comment here, besides the advisory that it was produced for a mature audience, might be the conclusion that in the model mad series we have been running, this one takes the cake. Maybe with this one we need to close out that series. Until we see something better, that’s it.

Model Mad, Whitehouse

captured_finalWe have been suggesting that the model mad behavior in these particularly odd times is not to fight fire with fire, but to fight it with effective extinguishers. There are plenty of creative, as well as otherwise enlightened approaches you should consider. Here’s another. If what you hear out of the White House is infuriating you, consider what this Whitehouse has to say:

Sheldon Whitehouse is a politician with a great name, a bad haircut, and a pissed-off attitude. The second-term Democratic junior senator from Rhode Island has built his career around two seemingly unrelated issues—climate change and money in politics—and he’s just written a book to demonstrate how intimately connected they turn out to be. Continue reading

Rare Birds, Climate Change & Dialogue

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Jerry Taylor, founder of the Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank.

We like birds. We like rare birds. Jerry Taylor sounds worthy of attention. Thanks to Marc Gunther and Yale 360 for Climate Converts: The Conservatives Who Are Switching Sides on Warming:

It’s hardly being noticed, given the current political atmosphere in Washington. But a small yet growing number of Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians are starting to push for action on climate.

As liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans pull farther apart in the long-running, increasingly polarized debate over climate change, Jerry Taylor is a rare bird — Continue reading

Model Mad, Jane

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British scientist Jane Goodall: ‘ I have seen the result of climate change and we know, science has shown, that global temperatures are warming.’ Photograph: Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

Please Support Sierra Club On This Initiative

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Photo credit: B. Bartel/USFWS

We know that most of our readers on this platform, and most guests we serve at the various properties we have developed and managed over the years, care deeply about primary forests and the ecosystems they support. Here is a chance to vocalize together with one of the influential organizers of vocalization:

Help Protect Tongass National Forest: Stop the Clearcutting

They’re about to start their chainsaws. Timber companies are trying to clearcut one of the most primeval wild places — and this is our last chance to stop them.

Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is nothing short of magical: it contains centuries-old trees and one-of-a-kind wilderness, home to animals like Alexander Archipelago wolves and bald eagles. Your voice is needed to pressure Congress to bring an end to old growth logging and save the Tongass for our children and grandchildren.

Take action today to save the Tongass National Forest.

Model Mad, Enlightened

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The true élite of modern societies is composed of engineers, mechanics, and artisans—masters of reality, not big thinkers. Illustration by Leigh Guldig

One of our favorite essayists (for exemplary reasons, see here, and here, and here) makes a compelling case for our taking a good look at the foundation of our assumptions, in this age of model mad.

His several essays in the months preceding and following the 2016 Brexit referendum and the USA election were impassioned, but this one in the form of a triple-book-review hits the mark the best, reminding us of the basic premises of the Enlightenment and how that matters now more than ever:

Of all the prejudices of pundits, presentism is the strongest. It is the assumption that what is happening now is going to keep on happening, without anything happening to stop it. If the West has broken down the Berlin Wall and McDonald’s opens in St. Petersburg, then history is over and Thomas Friedman is content. If, by a margin so small that in a voice vote you would have no idea who won, Brexit happens; or if, by a trick of an antique electoral system designed to give country people more power than city people, a Donald Trump is elected, then pluralist constitutional democracy is finished. The liberal millennium was upon us as the year 2000 dawned; fifteen years later, the autocratic apocalypse is at hand. Thomas Friedman is concerned. Continue reading

Model Mad, Musical

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Timbers specializes in offbeat revisionist fantasies about historical figures.Photograph by Pari Dukovic for The New Yorker

Our goal, linking out to stories like this, is not to politicize this platform; it is to showcase creative problem-solving, akin to our fascination with and commitment to entrepreneurial conservation. That is what we mean by model mad. We are wary, and weary of the name of the polarizing figure, but resolutely curious to read about how others are dealing with it. Even with a title like A PROTEST MUSICAL FOR THE TRUMP ERA we know it will deliver on the creative side rather than the political. Thanks to Rebecca Mead for a well-focused message:

Five actors gathered in a room on Lafayette Street, in downtown Manhattan, to start rehearsing a new work for the Public Theatre, “Joan of Arc: Into the Fire.” Written by David Byrne, formerly of the Talking Heads, the show recast the enduring, improbable story of Joan—a teen-age girl in medieval France who experienced divine visions, led an army to defeat an occupying power, and was burned at the stake for heresy—as a rock musical that spoke to the current political moment. Continue reading

Patagonia’s Defense Of Bears Ears

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This banner was displayed during the last 12 hours across more than one of the news websites we monitor daily, perhaps showing up on our browsers because of our featuring a reference to Patagonia’s activism here. We had also recently noted their action on Bears Ears. Regardless of why this banner ad reached us, we are happy to extend its reach. Click above if you are in a position to explore and take action on this particular campaign.

Model Mad, Marcus

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[Update: this post was originally published 48 hours ago but it definitely needs further attention so please do listen to Marcus]

This book came out late last year, and ever since I started sharing links to this man’s wonders  a of couple years ago, I keep watching for more reasons to do so; he always moves me. Today, again. Below is a link to a podcast he recently recorded to promote the book above. The conversation is artful. Powerful.

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Marcus is an immigrant to the USA, so his reflections on recent policy shifts in the ultimate country of immigrants are worth a listen even if you are not a foodie. If those observations do not move you, all I can say is wow. It fits the “model mad” theme we have been linking to in recent weeks–people and organizations speaking out and creatively resisting when something is wrong; and doing so at risk of significant loss. Continue reading

Model Mad, Icon

 

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A new anthology of the work of Harry Belafonte, pictured here in the nineteen-forties or fifties, reiterates his standing in American music. PHOTOGRAPH BY BETTMANN / GETTY

There was an editorial a few days ago that alerted us to the birthdays of two buddies, each on icon in his own right, who have 70 years of solidarity in the tough times, and best of times too. It also alerted us to the time since our last post with the model mad theme, so here is one more:

HARRY BELAFONTE AND THE SOCIAL POWER OF SONG

By Amanda Petrusich

Sixty-one years ago, in 1956, Harry Belafonte recorded a version of the Jamaican folk song “Day-O,” for his third studio album, “Calypso.” It opens with a distant and eager rumbling—as if something dark and hulking were approaching from a remote horizon. Belafonte—who was born in Harlem in 1927, but lived with his grandmother in a wooden house on stilts in Aboukir, a mountain village in Jamaica, for a good chunk of his childhood—bellows the title in a clipped island pitch. The instrumentation is spare and creeping. His voice bounces and echoes as it moves closer. It sounds like a call to prayer. Continue reading

Model Mad, Music

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In the face of Trump, many artists report feelings of paralysis. Should they carry on as before, nobly defying the ruination of public discourse? Or seize on a new mission, abandoning the illusion of aesthetic autonomy? PHOTOGRAPH BY ERICH AUERBACH/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY

Alex Ross asks the right question, in our view of the importance of finding a new model of behavior to reflect mad, with his opening question and the whole first paragraph prepares you for a worthy read:

MAKING ART IN A TIME OF RAGE

What is the point of making beautiful things, or of cherishing the beauty of the past, when ugliness runs rampant? Those who work in the realm of the arts have been asking themselves that question in recent weeks. Continue reading

Model Mad, Basketball

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Golden State point guard Stephen Curry is one of Under Armour’s highest-paid endorsers. Credit Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports, via Reuters.

Still no shortage of model mad stories two weeks in to this series. Are we all ready to “jump off” like this man, who put a good portion of his livelihood on the line to speak his mind:

Stephen Curry became the latest athlete to weigh in on President Trump when he took issue with comments made about the president by the chief executive of his primary sponsor, Under Armour.

In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Under Armour’s Kevin Plank described Trump as “a real asset” to the country.

In an interview on Wednesday with The San Jose Mercury News, Curry responded, Continue reading

Model Mad, Literary

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The Cold War–era writings of the Czech writer Václav Havel offer ideas on how dissidents can resist “the irrational momentum of anonymous, impersonal, and inhuman power.”PHOTOGRAPH BY MIROSLAV ZAJIC / CORBIS VIA GETTY

This post by Pankaj Mishra fits the bill for the theme we have been following, as the excerpted several paragraphs below will illustrate:

VÁCLAV HAVEL’S LESSONS ON HOW TO CREATE A “PARALLEL POLIS”

…Born in 1936, Havel came of age in Czechoslovakia, whose Communist rulers repeatedly imprisoned and continuously surveilled him while suppressing many of his writings. Defiant right until 1989, when he engineered the fall of the Communist regime, Havel came to be celebrated in the West as a “dissident,” a word commonly used to describe many in Communist countries who valiantly struggled against a pitiless despotism. Continue reading