Papal Fever: Prayer Grotto and Pope Plushies in Phila…. Security Barriers and Metro Madness in DC

So this country is kind of losing what remains of its mind over the Pope, yes? You guys know that the pope makes me feel minty, and this mintiness is not decreased by proximity. I will be sheltering in place for the duration of his visit.That said, I was in Philadelphia recently and they have done one fantastic thing. The city is pope-mad, the train station is just covered in giant scary Francis faces that turn out to be ads for Jesuit colleges, and you can buy stuffed Pope Francises in the … [Read more...]

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“Redesigning a Prison Town”: Next City

magazine: ...Ionia is a prison town. That is its primary industry. That’s why there’s a shiver that runs through town when word spreads about the possible closure of one of those facilities. Most of the thousands of inmates incarcerated in them come from 130-some miles away in southeast Michigan, where Detroit is the hub. The distance makes for a severe reduction in family visits and programming, which ultimately increases recidivism — that is, it increases crime. But building prisons here is wh … [Read more...]

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“The True Story of Kudzu, The Vine That Never Truly Ate the South”: Smithsonian Magazine

ruminates: ...The hype didn’t come out of nowhere. Kudzu has appeared larger than life because it’s most aggressive when planted along road cuts and railroad embankments—habitats that became front and center in the age of the automobile. As trees grew in the cleared lands near roadsides, kudzu rose with them. It appeared not to stop because there were no grazers to eat it back. But, in fact, it rarely penetrates deeply into a forest; it climbs well only in sunny areas on the forest edge and suff … [Read more...]

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“Jacob Lawrence’s Existential Sociology”: I’m at AmCon

reviewin': ...It’s easy to read artists—and maybe especially black artists—as mere reporters. Or, worse, sociologists. And Jacob Lawrence’s work does indeed have many reportorial or sociological characteristics: He’s racially conscious (and self-conscious about his role as a voice of his race), he’s influenced by folk art, he’s panoramic in his attempt to depict many layers of society. He has what The Wire would call “the Dickensian element.” These are all artistic choices he made that add to th … [Read more...]

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“Slow Poison”: Ezekiel Kweku on a Lifetime of Preparing for Police Violence

...Half an hour later, I stopped for gas in a small town I’d once known. As I began to fill my car, I realized that several years before I had been to the park across the street. The woman who was not yet then my wife had driven me there one evening while we were in college. We sat there in the car talking as dusk fell, under the strange shadows made by sunset and streetlights through tree branches. I don’t remember what we talked about, only that we spoke with the unembarrassed, giddy exc … [Read more...]

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Girls Like Violence: Short Movie Reviews

First up, a couple horror flicks; then a WWII documentary covertly filmed behind Fascist lines in Italy; then a satire/adventure tale from the first Gulf War. Don't say I don't have range.Stonehearst Asylum: A new asylum movie from the guy who brought us Session 9? Sure, I'll eat it! And Stonehearst is a really solid horror flick, twisty and heartfelt and saddening.It's a period piece, set between Christmas 1899 and New Year's 1900, at a remote asylum in... England? Scotland? Hogwarts? … [Read more...]

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Prison Photography: Texas in the ’60s, Italian Theater Performers, More

Clara Vannucci: “Why should I run? Where would I go? Twenty years I’ve lived in prison. Now I have something to live for. Life has meaning.” This was the unexpected and humbling response Vannucci received when she asked a prison inmate of Italy’s notorious Volterra Prison and touring theatre actor why he did not try to escape when he had so many opportunities to do so.In 1998, Armando Punzo established the Compagnia della Fortezza, a theatre troupe comprised of dangerous felons and hardcor … [Read more...]

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