Musings: What we know and don’t know

GateJust back from seeing “I Am Not Your Negro” at the Gene Siskel Film Center (highly recommended), I’m pondering, not for the first time, how history is created and shaped. In the true sense, history is, of course, what has happened. But those who tell the narrative get to define the narrative, so history as we know it can be quite different from the actual events that happened.

This is nothing new, of course. Those who die in battle don’t own the narrative of war. Those who hold power have the luxury of being able to tell their version of events and have that telling accepted as authoritative. There’s nothing inherently sinister in this, just, perhaps…distorting.

What has me pondering this is a segment in “I Am Not Your Negro” where Baldwin (whose writings are narrated by Samuel L. Jackson) declares that so much has been said about author/playwright Lorraine Hansberry’s meeting with Robert F. Kennedy that Baldwin feels compelled to address what really happened. Long story short, in a meeting to discuss civil rights and race relations, Hansberry was so disappointed and disheartened by Kennedy’s response that at one point she verbally dressed him down, then walked out of the room. Continue reading

Google: Pushing to make the web more mobile-friendly

MobileCarIn case you missed it, Google recently announced plans to make mobile-friendliness an even more important part of its ranking algorithm. What that means is that it’s even more important than before for your website to display well on mobile devices.

The reason for this is sound. It isn’t just Google trying to dictate changes that it wants you to make to your website. Google is reflecting the reality of how people use the Internet. Continue reading

Mixing memory with desire: Poetry and public schools

"April is the cruellest month, ..."

IMG_1291Nearly every year on April 1, I re-read T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.” It’s one of my favorite poems, and while I pay homage to it by quoting and requoting lines from it in conversation year-round, I also like to sit down and read it through periodically. The opening line, quoted above, is of course why I choose April 1 for this pleasure. (Also, April is National Poetry Month, so there’s another reason, though not the one that drives me.)

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Yearning for Summer

Onions-250It feels like spring today in my part of Chicagoland, and over on Twitter I see people on the West Coast preparing to head out to their farmer’s markets. So now I want to be at mine.

Unfortunately, it’s only mid-February, and here in the Midwest we won’t see a farmer’s market for months to come. Memorial Day, where are you?!

I want sunshine and rows of fresh produce and flowers—lettuce and spinach, strawberries, live plants for the garden. I want the party atmosphere and the fun of seeing friends and neighbors out and about. Continue reading

God, I love Chicago!

TheBeanI’m not the only one. Neil Steinberg does, too. So do a lot of other people—presumably including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who wrote of thinking to himself “God, I am in Chicago” after first arriving in the city for a visit at the age of 15.

Steinberg recounts that moment of Jackson’s among many other stories in his 2012 book You Were Never in Chicago, which I read recently and reviewed over at Escape into Life. It’s one of many memorable tales Steinberg brings to life in the book, which took me down memory lane—both as a journalist and as an adoptive Chicagoan—while also teaching me more about the history of the city I love.

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