“As citizens, we all have to reach out and try to be compassionate and kind, and to make sure we are working for a better existence for everybody all the time.”
In pursuit of that rough and ready insight, I’ve been listening to the right of wrong and to the wrong of right in Brooklyn music for a couple of years. Here follows a smidgeon of the music in Brooklyn and a little of the Brooklyn in music, overheard.
“Virginia Woolf’s amazing essay ‘On Being Ill’—where she interrogates literature’s lack of focus on illness, the collective obsession with the drama of romance over the drama of often inseparable physical and mental ailments—has been a jumping off point. So, I’m writing though some of my own experiences via Woolf and also some other artists and writers.”
Slavery, it turns out, influenced everything about Brooklyn from its industrialization (sugar, tobacco, cotton) to the early racial makeup of its neighborhoods. Now that I work for a museum, I can’t become a visitor myself without asking: what are the questions that allow people to dig into unfamiliar material, to lose themselves in it?
* Mary Camille Beckman *
Just like my first summer in the Midwest, this year it’s been relentlessly hot, surprisingly humid, and in my apartment, ever un-air conditioned. In July, I stripped my bed of its quilt and sheets, placed a fan in front of every window, almost cracked a tooth chewing ice. My cat has been nibbling on her Tender Vittles only infrequently, yawning often, and shedding continuously. She stretches out day and night on the cool tiles between the toilet and the shower. I’ve been eating mango popsicles for dinner. This kind of heat—the kind that makes most movement absurd or impossible, robs you of your appetite, colors everything bright, wilts people and plants alike—is the subject of Florine Stettheimer’s 1919 painting titled, you guessed it, Heat.