Thanks for checking out my newsletter. I’m back after a few weeks off. Here is some of what’s in store below.
I came upon And Also Too, “a collaborative design studio for social justice visionaries.” It seems the Toronto-based group has facilitated a bunch of interesting projects, especially related to youth:
After digging into thier projects, I was/was not surprised to see some of their members have collaborated with Allied Media Projects here in Detroit.
The work takes me back to the human-centered design projects I ran a few years ago in my Critical Literacies and Communities class. Students started with a challenge question related to English language arts experiences, and then went through a design process to build and pitch prototypes. Students were not wrong when they said “this doesn’t feel like an English class.” But there were some interesting prototypes that came from it, like a Student Queer Resource Library (SQRL) that remixed “little free public libraries” into books and resources for transgender students.
______________ Lo and Behold! Records & Books is one of the shops I frequent around here. It opened in 2012, about the same time I moved to Detroit from Philly. It’s a single rectangular room with bins and stacks of records around the perimeter. And the new arrivals are the first thing you see entering the store.
But what’s in the middle of that vinyl perimeter is always in different stages of chaos: books, records, record sleeves, guitar pedals, posters, disassembled drum set parts, and lots of dust. But that’s the fun part, because you might find old boxes like these that sent records from the distributor in Florida to the record label in Detroit. Here are some sent to 1960s Ric-Tic Records, a Motown competitor.
The design of the labels, different fonts on them, handwriting imposed overtop – these are all the things I get into with such artifacts.
These boxes have a lot of water damage to them, but the 45s inside were still in shiney, black, mint condition.
I read Adam Mansbach’s memoir + poem I Had a Brother Once in a single sitting: on the front stoop, next to the mailbox, with the shipping envelope torn open lying next to me. It’s a book about Adam’s brother’s suicide. Adam is a friend, and I was with him 10 years ago the night he received the news. We were at a lounge DJing together in a small booth, and he got the call from his father. I can say the experience of reading this book was unlike any other I’ve had – not simply because of my proximity to the tragedy and some of the people it shattered, but because the book starts on that day, in that DJ booth, and with that call. It’s a stunning book/poem about grief, loss, and ritual. And it has me thinking about times I’ve felt entirely inadequate to comfort people and how entering into that suffering with them is perhaps the most one can offer.
We’re closing out the semester of YA Lit + Anti-Racist Teaching with some creative projects. I launched students into them by having a gripes + dreams session and then turning each gripe/dream into a How Might We challenge question. We then did some sharing about which HMW questions were most compelling, and that sharing was good enough to show who had common interests to move forward together, and who should go it alone. Oh, and project charters: I have students working together fill out a project charter document so the focus and roles for everyone are clear from the start.
This new album by Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders, & London Symphony Orchestra. Brass, strings, and ambients carry that opening refrain through the entire album – a full, complete, compelling thesis. Mastery.
On their collaboration with the Alchemist, ELUCID and billy woods drag postcolonial wounds onto the examination table. They don’t just embrace the darkness; they wear it as a protective cloak.
Fun boogie R&B from New York art kids group Michelle with the endearing lyric I don’t want your Instagram / Just want you to hold my hand on the song “Get Off Ur Phone.” And listen for the MJ “I Can’t Help It” nod in the melody of “Mango.” This is summer time fun time music, good people.
From the archives
Last year at this time I sent out issue #019, Fire & Wire. Click here to read.