(ATLANTA - 25 October 2011) “Too big to succeed.” And no, I’m not talking about AIG or Morgan Stanley.
Those horrible four words could be the new-new-new-new Facebook tagline. As the social-networking giant has grown exponentially, it has changed UIs (user interfaces), bells and whistles, functionality, and security preferences more than Tara Reid has changed boyfriends. While Twitter has streamlined and improved without blowing up their core product - and spawning a cottage industry of top-notch Twitter clients - Facebook has seized on an ill-perceived need to change, change and change again.
This issue came to a boiling point while running ARTvision Atlanta - which, smart as it was at the time, has a Facebook page for the sole purpose of expanding our earnings reach and branding. As many folks have noted (here and here), love it or hate it, Facebook is a critical element in growing exposure to charitable causes.
Among the myriad challenges that charities face, spending time fixing a fatal code bug on a Facebook page shouldn’t be one of them. (My Googling shows that this is a widespread and as-yet unaddressed issue.) Alas, this is the case with our page now. Without getting into the geeky-gritty of it: Facebook has inexplicably violated its own TOS (terms of service) by allowing administrators to inadvertently change the name of a group with 100+ members by indicating the location of said group. So now, ARTvision Atlanta - which was closing in on 500 members - now reads as its beneficiary, Positive Impact, and the name cannot be changed back.
A group’s name is, last time I checked, the very foundation on which fundraising stands. Our AV page has three years of activity, history, photos and proven sales history that we have abandoned for a new page until Facebook gets off its ass to fix the issue. Sending bug reports, posting on help pages and other pleas for assistance have been systematically denied - because, well, Facebook is just too damn big. At last count, the site has 800 million users and they, by sheer volume, cannot address everything individually.
But is that a good enough reason to refuse help when charitable funds are at stake? This bug rises to a different level entirely when we’re talking about charitable giving. We depend on the networks and reach of Facebook to get word out, and this fatal flaw in their code - being no fault of any user - must be addressed now. Lest the company go down in history as the giant who got too big for their britches and couldn’t care properly for their philanthropic micro-communities.
When it comes to charitable giving and fundraising, a different urgency should rise through the ranks. And if this post helps to fix the overall bug itself, fine by me. In the meantime, please visit our new Facebook page and forgive the occasional grumble from me. - WP
Big HT and shout out to WannaBAuthor for the awesome devilish FB image.
Blogger’s note: I will be blogging at the ARTvision site from here until the end of the year.
UPDATE: After hitting hard, Facebook came back and addressed the Group name issue. We now are back in business as ARTvision Atlanta on Facebook! Of course, they attributed it to our mistake. But I don’t care... as long as we have the real name back.
The attacks were ghastly and altering, changing our country’s composition down to its DNA. But what we did in response trumps even those dastardly deeds: we gave ourselves over to the very “evil” that attacked us in the first place.
“Pride” (Provincetown, Mass.), by Will Pollock
Please allow a bit of a parallel: If electing Kennedy allowed us to successfully avert nuclear war during the Cuban Missing Crisis, then how would a President Gore have handled the country before, during and after this assault? How would we have been led as a country in response to 9/11? Would we have sunk trillions of dollars in nation-building in Iraq, or perhaps used it as a rally cry to show attackers that we can survive and thrive, even in the aftermath of death and misery? “A lot of other people behaved badly” after that day, as Paul Krugman put it today. “The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.”
Recent events show that we have been on a sad, downward spiral ever since the attacks. Our financial system has collapsed and is still limping; profiteers have bounced back with an assault on commonsense regulation; our previous administration is so demonized elsewhere that they risk arrest if they travel abroad; we tortured people in custody and are still protecting those responsible today; and, most recently, we’ve seen a culture emerge where folks who hate government are the very ones making policy. What’s our response?
I say, enough. Let’s remember today in a factual way, without embellishment or agendas. Let’s return our country to the very compassionate, understanding, engaged folks who make this country great: the people. Let’s elect representatives who reflect that value system, not those who want, need and manipulate for profitability or glory. When a politician fails us, as Bush and his team did - and still do, thumbing their noses at truth and fact - we only have ourselves to blame. And that includes the voters who didn’t punch the ballot for the offending party. We are all complicit if we are all Americans.
But if it’s about all of us, it’s still cannot be “us vs. them.” Peace and ambassadorship have been reframed, inexplicably, as weak and useless when juxtaposed against our lionized, “boot in the ass” politicians. I say, loudly, no more. No matter whom you vote for, make sure it doesn’t reflect the mistakes we made when slammed with the calamity on this day 10 years ago.
Today, I take pride in my country, and want to go forward with a people-first agenda. Where we come first, and yet all the while knowing that we are still the global leader that can think outside ourselves, and never take the world around us for granted. Superior actions, not superiority.
After this day of remembrance, returning this country to the people is the best step forward over the next decade.
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UPDATE: Jack Lessenberry imagines a fictitious United States response with Al Gore as president. Money quote: “Yet it would be nice if, a century from now, we remembered it as a sad milestone that started the process of greater understanding.”
Remember the days of “Up Where We Belong”? The interplay between two singers creates an energy that can’t be matched in solo work. Here’s a recent example from Jason Reeves and Kara DioGuardi - it’s an uncomplicated, down-tempo song but the vocals are good.
I’d like to see us get back to loving this type of songwriting and performance. Word on the street is that Kara will appear on Kelly Clarkson’s new album, “Stronger,” when it drops in October. Kelly’s first toe-tapping single, “Mr. Know It All,” is available now on iTunes.
(ATLANTA - 6 September 2011) :: Songwriting, crisp arrangements and soulfulness are alive and well, I’m happy to report.
All evidenced by Parachute’s latest record, “The Way it Was” (Island Def Jam). The band first caught my ear with the driving, soulful “Under Control” - a fine if a bit safe pop-rock track that spurred me to snag the entire album. I’m glad I did, because it was the perfect prep for their newest effort.
go to Parachute’s official website
No sophomore slump here - far from it. The album cover art is a throw-back to an old Chicago or Doobie Brothers cover, shot plainly in a leafy park setting.
”The Way it Was,” Parachute
But don’t let that fool you: the production is slick and the writing is stellar. Despite the strange, retro look on the cover, the band fearlessly delves into hybrid waters, with the unabashed, gospel-infused “Something to Believe In.”
“You spend your days alone still hopin' for the truth,
But all you hear are lies”
As a writer and lyricist, that’s a line that hit right at my core. We are a nation hoping for something new, something truthful, but all we are fed is bullshit - and then we’re expected to stay quiet and accept the scene of our country crumbling at its core.
But the lyric and arrangement is raised up by the gospel backing - a daring move for a band not known for that. I’d push back on their video for not highlighting those specific vocals, because they absolutely make the song. But I’m nit-picking.
I don’t use the term “fearless” lightly with this record - because rock bands often shy away from anything that takes them outside of their wheelhouse. (And they are often criticized for doing so, as Liz Phair found out the hard way.) Creating accessibility in songwriting is not tantamount to watering down or “selling out” - it’s a tool to speak to more people.
Just ask Steve Winwood, who saw “Higher Love” shoot to the top of the charts with the blistering, stellar backing of Chaka Khan. How could that song have soared as it did without her vocal - and without that added accessibility? Answer: it couldn’t. They did, in fact, show Chaka in the video, too.
In all, and in the midst of the nutty spin-cycle of never ending new-band parades, Parachute has done an incredible job. So check it out on iTunes if you haven’t already; make sure to spin “Kiss Me Slowly” (written with members of Lady Antebellum), “You and Me,” and “Philadelphia” - an uncomplicated tune reminiscent of some of Josha Radin’s best stuff.
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“Torrent” (Atlanta, GA)
“They grow, and they multiply. No longer satisfied and yet ultimately saved, humbled in light and bold in darkness, seeing the unseen and reveling in nothingness. The darkness calls, but damn it all to hell, expansiveness and light prevail as we look inward, celebrated by abundance and reminded of a tempting, incautious glance to the control and careless in the ether. to the befallen, to the endings, to the fear, we give more love. and more still. this is the truer capacity, the contrast of hope surviving its greatest fight, its most important challenge, its most gorgeous reach. a new space is born.”
Prose Author: Will Pollock
Photographer: Zed Boucher-Myers
Go directly to the link on PhotographProse.com
(ATLANTA - 8 June 2011) :: Before February 2010, I had little knowledge of the Presbyterian way of worship. I was basically *this side of atheist, with a generous, inquisitive spirituality but a combative, skeptical streak that usually kept me away from churches altogether.
Along came Jason. We met early last year on Compatible Partners, and since then, we’ve transitioned well into a couple; he’s helped awaken me to the generosity and kindness that can dwell in the halls and sanctuaries of our nation’s churches.
Covenant Presbyterian in Augusta, Ga., is an able example of that compassion. Jason, the church’s Director of Music and Organist for the past eight years, is active in the community as a singer, concertmaster, performer - and, at first, I found the idea of coming together with him daunting given how successful and established he was in his town.
I also wondered: “How could this church understand our relationship? How would they accept me, me with him, us together?”
I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. For it was the church’s people - Diane and Joe, Kaye, Jennifer, Pastor Rob, Karla, Beverly, and so many others - who welcomed me and folded us in as part of the family, giving us time and space for our relationship to blossom into what it is today. They allowed for and supported a reimaging of who Jason is as a partnered person, giving him a chance to realize his dream of finding an able boyfriend. I will always be deeply grateful for the gracious and open treatment they afforded us.
While Jason and I were enjoying Covenant’s people and environs - including its stunning, sultry-sound sanctuary (pictured) - change was afoot at Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s national level. The question: whether or not to ordain openly gay men and women. Very often change is accompanied by lots of chaos, dissent and frustration - which was ever-present in the regional discussions on the topic.
‘You’re going to be late for lunch today’
Pastor Rob Watkins, leader of Covenant’s congregation, was party to these meetings - and had a lot to say one Sunday after suffering through some of those meetings with people of strident, divergent opinions.
Following that meeting, Pastor Rob delivered a rousing sermon on his frustration with the Presbyterian Church’s position and posturing on the subject of ordination. Some excerpts from the sermon:
“You can walk down the street and find churches that are ripping each other to shreds, because they have taken on the power of God, and decided who is right and who is wrong. I get annoyed when I go to Presbytery meetings. And I confess I am a terrible Presbyterian. Why? Because I can’t help but get annoyed. Who are we to speak for God? God gave us the work to do. You preach. You teach. And you engage in love. You engage in compassion. Anything else is extraneous. Anything else. What does that mean? That means that yesterday’s Presbyterian meeting for about five minutes, we were engaged in the work of God. The rest of the time we were wasting our time and wasting the time of every human being who was sitting there, because we were engaged in speaking for God. We had no right to do that. None. Zero.
God is in the midst of the chaos that roils all around us all of the time. God firmly plants himself in the corner of anyone who has need of him. In other words, the power of God is eternally present behind compassion. Remember that the apostle John wrote, “God is love,” but he wasn’t simply thinking of a Hallmark card. He was thinking in real, human terms. God is love, ironically, which means you find him in the presence of human love.
I apologize for anything I have said that makes you feel like I am not ready to be your pastor anymore. That was one thing I heard at the Presbytery meeting, that just about made me stand on my head … if we are so scared that someone is going to walk out the back door because we are going to act in compassion, then we are not who we ought to be. If they can’t handle compassion and they want to leave, bye. Because that’s who we are. That’s what we are. That’s how we are. We say it so glibly, “God so loved the world, that God gave his only son, and whoever believes it may not perish and have eternal life,” but then turn right around and smack somebody in the face. How can we do that?
Look at the spectrum that is sitting here in this room. Look at the spectrum that gathered here on Thursday for a funeral. Look at the spectrum that gathers as soon as you set foot outside these doors. Look at the spectrum that is gathered at McDonald’s after church. Look at the spectrum that is driving past you on the wall. Look at the colors that God paints with. Look at the shades that God paints with. And it’s all art, all of it. Who are we to divide ourselves up? It’s as if the Mona Lisa hanging in the Louvre looks over at the Monets and says, “You’re garbage.”
You don’t do that. They are masterpieces, all of them. And you know what? I would argue that Leonardo de Vinci would look at Eden’s first scribble with a crayon and say, “That’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my whole life.” Why? Because Leonardo knew, knew what it was to have God’s creative will coursing through his bones. And when he sees a child pick up a Crayon and draw, he sees affirmation of that creative will.
Yes, you are going to be late for lunch today. Wait with me. You need to be late for lunch today. Because we are not celebrating the gift of a child with a Crayon, we are dividing each other up.Do I mean right here, specifically in this congregation? God I hope not. But I know all you have to do is step foot outside the door, and you are right in the midst of it. You are right in the midst of it.
I had my eyes opened 18 years ago to what love really means. I was working with a couple, one of whom was dying and it was a horrible death. It was a horrible, horrible death. And the spouse was there every day. Told their job, ‘I can’t come. I won’t come. I have to be here.’ And every day they started the day with a bath, because the dying could not wash themselves. And so with tenderness and mercy and care, the other bathed their spouse every morning. As things got worse, the dying couldn’t even lift a fork to feed themselves. So spouse stayed there and fed them every meal. Made sure they got every drop of water that they needed. You would think that they would have sat and cried all day long and wept, and been in misery and just been awful all day long, but they weren’t. They laughed. They smiled. Their love only deepened as they cared for each other. The one who was dying said, ‘Take my credit card. Go max it out. I am not going to be here to pay the bill. (laughter)
“‘Go buy whatever you want. I have worked hard to get a $20,000 credit limit. Go max it.’ John and Rocky taught me about love. Yeah. That’s right. Two men. In a committed, loving relationship that the State of North Carolina, could not, would not and did not recognize as marriage. They were more married than half of the heterosexual people I worked with in that church. Would you have cared as John cared for Rocky, as he died? That’s the question to ask yourself and I hope that you can say, Yes. And who then are we to say to John and Rocky your love isn’t real? Your love is a lie. Your love is sinful. When I saw as a pastor who had real struggles and real issues, that is what Christ requires, was right there… to bathe a dying body every single morning. To feed a dying man every single meal. To make sure that there was water to drink every single time he was thirsty. To make him laugh when it hurt to breathe… who are we to say that isn’t real? That isn’t right? Have you ever been face to face with love so powerful? And that’s the problem. We won’t go face to face. We won’t meet face to face. We will keep it out there in the spacious unknown where we can talk in philosophical terms without putting human beings before us. I am begging you, put human beings before you, before you say anything.
As I said, you are going to be late for lunch. Bear with me. This is too important. Put human beings first. I wasn’t expecting it until I sat through a Presbytery meeting yesterday. We cannot keep ignoring that anything that happens in our world involves human beings. Those are real people. They live. They breathe. They see. They ache. They hurt. They cry. They laugh. They dream.”
Pastor Rob’s sermon did not go unheeded - and the news from the national organization was good. Last month marked a milestone for the Presbyterian church - from the article in The Huffington Post:
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) passed a historic measure Tuesday evening allowing openly gay men and women in same-sex relationships to be ordained as clergy.
The move reflects a monumental shift in the 2.8 million-member church, which, along with other mainline Protestant denominations, has had increasingly contentious debates and struggles over issues pertaining to gay and lesbian members and clergy. A majority of the church's regional bodies, or presbyteries, defeated a similar measure to allow gay clergy two years ago.
Because Pastor Rob, Covenant’s members, et. al., weren’t only championing Jason and me - they were championing all of us. Spurring greater understanding, provoking thought, expressing non-violent dissent, and accepting the “all that is” in the universe with which I’m so fascinated. Theology, philosophy and social progress are not obscured by religion; in great measure, they are enhanced by it.
Embracing the unknown
Just as Joyce said to me recently: “God knows what’s right.” However you conceive Him or Her to be, that particular power has been proven to be working, and working well, for everyone - no exceptions - in the “spacious unknown.”
Here’s a clip from HRC that shows Bruce Reyes-Chow acknowledging the historic change:
Faced with an emotional summer of transition and new beginnings, Jason will be departing Covenant in August to move to Atlanta and start school. Although excited by our co-habitation, my heart is heavy that we will be visiting Covenant less in the future, having to say so long (but definitely not good-bye) to so many great, gifted people. We have the entire family at Covenant - as well as our friends and family - to thank for their unwavering support of us. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life, and, I would imagine, so will Jason.
So, Triscuit will finally have her Jason close by, for many puppy kisses. And from now on, when asked, I’ll always opt for the late lunch.
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“Kiln Candy”This piece has been submitted to the Gertrude Herbert Institute National Juried Fine Art Competition - along with four other contemporary photographs. Stay tuned, and please keep your fingers crossed.
Also new this month: the launch of Stone Four Media on PhotoStockPlus.com. This page will retail my fine-art and stock photography for a broader audience. Check back frequently for updates!
At Studioplex, the historic former cotton mill in Atlanta’s Old 4th Ward district, first- and second-floor lofts and common-area spaces have been transformed to house artists, chefs, musicians, jewelers, glass blowers, photographers, painters and so much more. Here’s just a slice of what you’ll see:
- Shondra Leigh’s “Stained” line of socially conscious jewelry. These stunning pieces have been crafted from balls of tar that washed up on the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill. (Visit Loft #201)
- Scott Serpas, famed chef and owner of Studioplex-located Serpas restaurant, will be treating visitors to a cooking demo at 3:30
- ARTvision Atlanta, benefiting Positive Impact, will hold its final round of sales, featuring discounted pieces from Delia Cochran, Sean Mansfield, Kimber Herndon and much more. (Visit Loft #131)
- Lorikay Photography will be snapping free Facebook profile pictures with a red, chalkboard background to give you the customized look you want! (Visit Loft #205)
- ABV Gallery is hosting “Save the Day, Kill the Night” is a collection of original works inspired by superheroes.
This is just a small selection of what’s on tap for this Saturday, 14 May 2011, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more, please visit our website, RSVP to our Facebook event invite and follow ArtWalkFest on Twitter. See you then!
(ATLANTA - original post date (link here): 27 May 2008 | updated on 4 May 2011) :: In many ways, we *are the people around us.
We are an amalgam of personalities, legacies, love, hatred, ambivalence, random acts of all kinds - wearing a reflection of those energies on our skin. And yet we wake up some days thinking the entire world tilts on our axis; that everyone is against us, life is hopeless and the sky is permanently falling.
When faced with the choice of more love or worry, we very often choose the latter without so much as a thought. Why do we do that?
The challenge for us is to find where authentic love lies - about where it breathes, how we contribute to its collective, where it compounds itself and how, and when it's likely to happen again. When we turn the right stones, or seek the right fortune, there it will be. And that's for those of us lucky enough to have found the romantic type of love more than once, in more than one person; who are brave enough to risk the fool after getting the shaft and going great guns to find it again.
Truthfully, we're all faced with many great challenges over the term of our lifetimes. Our resiliency during these periods often help shape the way we cherish ourselves, and equally important, each other.
Jimmy Roberts, sports reporter for NBC and commenting on Andre Agassi some time ago, shared this spontaneous, eloquent gem about a person's unspoken impact:
"An old friend of mine used to say that there are people in this lifetime who leave footprints. In other words, there are these people, and we all know them, who have an impact. They aren’t necessarily the best at what they do; they might not always behave the way we wish they might, but they make an impact on all of us."
This thought is true for everyone - not just those like Andre, whom we might put on a pedestal. Consider Chris "Crusty" Haddle's fight against mucinous adenocarcinoma, which caused a dull ache he detected in his lower abdomen back in 2008 that felt like simple appendicitis, but turned out to be stage-two cancer that required radical surgery. He needed six months of chemotherapy and just had a second and less-disruptive surgery a few days ago.
Also consider Gene Rector, who was officially diagnosed with lymphoma, and who endured chemo *and radiation since it had spread to his spleen. He is cancer-free as of this writing.
So what or who is at work here? None of us can point to one thing. But the remaining residue - both in emotional and metaphysical terms - is that we should always know the fingerprints that our friends, family, neighbors, strangers on the street, anyone, leave on us. They contribute to a better understanding of ourselves. They are the cherished gas in our engine, the great person we've yet to meet, the random waitress with whom you've just connected somehow - while on a road that would be much more boring and barren without them.
So, run to the windows, rush to the phone... tell your mother, your friend, even someone you're unsure about. Look in their eyes and tell them their impact. Crusty and Gene have both in their own ways changed me for the better, and for that I'll always be grateful.
Being good to each other, even when it might step on your own purpose or agenda, is tantamount to a peaceful coexistence. Think about it. If we use that mission in everything we do - from the politicians we choose down to the type of milk we buy - we'll see a spontaneously different world around us.
Because someday, someone will see your "footprints" in the sand, your fingerprints on something great, and admire the decisions you made. - WP
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“Madaket Sun” was shot in 2005, so it’s a dip into my portfolio - and it’s a wish to return there someday soon. Enjoy.
In celebration of hovering around 400 Twitter followers - clearly, some of the smartest folks on the web - I give you my “Simple Four” social-media tips and suggestions. Here we go:
1. Leave dirty laundry to the cleaners. Your best pal, your hairdresser, or perhaps an unlucky neighbor - those folks are the sympathetic ear you’re looking for. They could also be the object of your ire; don’t complain about someone or something unless you’re a) saying explicitly why it matters and b) following it with a solution. Any complaints about people in particular will feel to your readers as venting and sour grapes. Contribute to discourse and two-way discussion, because, in the end...
2. It ain’t about you. This web-advice gem came from a talk I heard from the incredible Peter Shankman, offered mostly to folks who get pissed off about something or someone, and take that complaint to Twitter or Facebook. “I deserved that promotion.” “I hate my sister.” “My colleague is a douchebag.” Or, a more specific Facebook post from a friend in response to a celebratory, pre-grilling food picture I loaded to Facebook: “That looks like dog food. Food pictures are my pet peeve!” I care about that, why? How about you be irritated in your quiet voice and let me, and the rest of us, celebrate a fun moment? (The burgers were exceptional, btw.) Make your posts useful to your friends and followers, or run the risk of appearing self-aggrandizing.
The “offending” Facebook dinner preview
Make your posts about your friends and followers - in this case, inspiration for cooking recipes - or run the risk of sounding vapid, self-obsessed and useless to the people who look to you for wisdom.
3. Don’t be a jerk. This is pretty straightforward: be respectful and always keep it classy. Here’s an example in support of this bullet, courtesy of the seemingly thin-skinned @Shoq on Twitter. After questioning his fiercely one-sided impugning of people who are concerned about Bradley Manning’s treatment - and after I joined with @a_picazo in asking him why - he Tweeted this: “.@wildcatatl I think you might either be sleeping with @a_picazo, trying to, or alternatively, you're just fucking stupid.” He then blocked me from his stream. I honestly didn’t understand why this otherwise progressive voice was railing on people so hard, without proof or support of his skepticism, and I honestly wanted to know why. The lesson: engage in conversations and debates in a mature way and do not needlessly flame people. Especially folks who know how to post about it later.
4. Always, whenever possible, include links. Be kind, support your findings. Your followers want to learn more about your positions and opinions. Tweets are nominations, if you will, for the most compelling news items of the day. Go to Mashable for more on this topic. The immediate click-through rate isn’t staggering, but if someone is evaluating your Twitter stream to decide if they want to follow you, those links will stay there and quite likely help you later.
Folks on the Internet want engagement, not one-sided preaching or personal blather. Scale to and maintain the high road - in the end, you’ll be rewarded.
“Cadence” (Zenyard II)
“Cadence” is the latest entry in my “Zenyard” series - showing natural images shot in my backyard here in Midtown Atlanta. Because beauty is very often just steps away - as long as we’re awake to see it. - WP
I just took over the “Project Idol” column for ProjectQ Atlanta - look for lots of dish about some of the year’s best singers, and the lameness (so far) of the judging panel.
This month’s header, “Low Shelter,” comes from a scene outside Brevard, N.C., when I was on my way to contesting a speeding ticket that Jason and I got while looking for Owenby Farms. This image will be for sale on RedBubble for the same price as the ticket - $180.
Look for more updates about ARTvision Live and another round of sales. - WP