Sincerity, gravity, and harmony

It’s almost tomorrow, but it isn’t. As long as there’s a little bit of Thursday left, there are a few things I want to show you.

Hippo Birdie 2 Ewe. It’s probably always going to be fashionable to dismiss sincerity with snark. In the current cultural moment, it feels almost subversive to hold up as important things like warmth and childlike play. Ian Bogost crafted a tender, thoughtful, insightful profile of children’s author Sandra Boynton for The Atlantic, and I’ve been sitting on the link for some reason. I’ve had it in my bookmarks for a couple of days now and just finally read it tonight.

I’d like to say I’ve been holding it back in a kind of savoring of the thought of it, knowing it was going to be great. But I don’t think that’s it. I think I was afraid I’d have to let something of myself go in order to fully embrace it. Does that make sense? Boynton is an element of my childhood, and I associate her with saccharine sweet line art and innocuous punning. And probably with some of the ick of being a teenager looking back at the things you liked as a child. I’m an Ian Bogost fan, and I assumed he’d have taken her up as a subject because there’s a lot there. But I wondered what I’d have to check at the door in order to go on the article’s journey. And what of my own past moments of callous snark I’d have to surface, acknowledge, and accept. It was Yom Kippur week, of course.

I want to give it to you without much framing beyond that, to let you have your own honest reaction in case you start in a similar spot. I do want to share this snippet of an anecdote about Boynton being accepted to a Maurice Sendak seminar at Yale - accepted but also not accepted:

She was accepted, so she figured Sendak must have liked it. Not so much. When the two met, Sendak dismissed the portfolio as “greeting-card art.” But that only emboldened her. “It occurred to me that making and selling my own greeting cards would be a much better summer job than the waitressing I’d done unhappily the previous summer,” she told me.

It gave me the point of entry I needed to drop my baggage or my old, foggy lenses and learn about Boynton anew, as an artist and a person.

Here’s that link again.


Well that looks pretty easy. This satisfying video shows what it looks like to take down a very tall radio tower with just one metallic snip.


The Singing Road. There’s a stretch of Route 66 near Albuquerque that plays “America The Beautiful” with your tires if you drive right at the speed limit.

There is something so fundamental and so great about this. I assumed it had been around for a good long while, like maybe since the heyday of Route 66. Nope, it was a DOT project completed just five years ago. As you might have guessed, they created it by inserting vibrating metal pieces of precise lengths and amounts into the asphalt.

“…anything that vibrates 330 times in one second will produce an E note—a guitar string, a tuning fork or even a tire. To produce an E note with a car, we had to space the rumble strips such that if driven at 45 mph for one second, the car would hit 330 strips. A bit of math tells us this is 2.4 inches between each rumble strip. After that, it’s a case of breaking down the music into exact chunks of time and applying the same technique to each space depending on what note is needed and for how long.”

Bonus bananas: Get chills watching and listening to Phil Collins working the drum fill from In The Air Tonight, and check out a few photos from the Bhagavad-Gita Diorama museum in LA.

Those are the bananas I found for you this week. You can hit “reply” and it’ll go only to me. Thank you.

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