Friday, September 27, 2013

The Great Butter Slide of American Culture

Article in the Times about a drop in Arts Attendance in America.

Theater takes the brunt and "straight plays" (also known as "plays") are worst of all, attendance having dropped 33% in the last 10 years.

"At the end of the day, I’m not troubled by it."

No no, of course not, executive director of the American Theater Wing. Everything's fine; nothing to see here; move along...

photo c 1928, Man Ray


Sesame Street goes Upstate

This has been around for a few months, but I just ran across it recently.  Of course I'm behind on most things: it's a problem.  But in this case I feel more or less off the hook, in that, having no children and not likely to become a parent anytime soon, I don't feel much responsibility to keep up with the details of kid's TV.  But this is significant on a few levels, so I was impressed when I found out about it.

Meet Alex, a new character on Sesame Street (or at least an online version of Sesame Street) whose father is in jail.  It says something pretty important about the World We Live In that this platform is necessary – as this Pew Research article mentions, some 2.7 million American children currently have a parent in jail or prison.  That would be 3.6% of American children with an incarcerated parent.  Incarcerated, one might add, in a correctional system that is arguably ineffective, weighed down by misguided drug laws, and inescapably, profoundly, maddeningly racist and classist.  Oh, and well nigh devoid of any noticeable corrective element.
But this piece is for the kids.  And of course Sesame Street being Sesame Street, they find a way to deal with this unbelievably tough-to-even-wrap-your-mind-around topic with not just kindness and sensitivity, but with a "did they just pull that off?" sense of humor.

“What’s ‘carcerated,’ and why was your dad in it?”
Well played, Children's Television Workshop.  Well played.

'Prison-Industrial Complex' is one of those terms that rubs me kind of wrong, being that too clever for its own good brand of inflammatory.  But America is out of balance - way out of balance - in the way we handle corrections, and the penal system is so seriously in need of reform that I'm willing to accept the provocation.

More materials and more video is on the Little Kids/Big Problems section of the Sesame Street website.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Hobson Haiku (for Arthur)

There are three books - ah!
When I die, please bring them back
to the library

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Modest Proposal

Because that would, you know, totally work.

Courtesy of Michael Stipe's Tumblr.