Contrary to Hallmark’s projection, the meaning of Valentine’s Day is not all chocolate covered strawberries, overpriced flowers and prefix menus to remind the ones who stick with us through thick and thin that we care for them. While the details of St. Valentine’s identity and the good deeds that earned him his sainthood are rather murky, one thing the different versions of the story share is the untimely death of the Saint. Whether putting his life on the line to marry Roman soldiers or delivering the first “valentine” to his lover before his death, St. Valentine was obviously a hopeless romantic. One who believed that true love is more than just a fluttery feeling and supplying copious amounts of chocolate on February 14th . Without a solid foundation of trust, mutual respect and shared interests, in the words of my guiltiest pleasure, Tina Turner, “what’s love got to do with it?”
Today’s Friday 5 is a list of lovers who were as thick as thieves (pun intended). Because let’s be honest, if you can’t depend on your special someone to help you hide the body maybe you should skip the trip to Godiva and settle for Russell Stover. (more…)
Today’s Friday 5 comes from author Ann Banks, who has reviewed children’s books for the New York Times and Parents magazines. Ann has published seven books for children. Her journalism has appeared in many national magazines and newspapers, some of which are still in existence. She serves on the boards of the Writer’s Room, City Lore, and the Coney Island History Project.
I remember walking with my mother along the aisle of our local children’s bookstore as she looked for a gift suitable for her granddaughter. “Aren’t there any books about good children?” she asked. No, Mom, not so many. And for that we must thank Lewis Carroll, born 181 years ago on January 27. Until Alice in Wonderland, children’s literature in England was meant to instruct and improve. A typical fictional heroine was Little Goody Two Shoes, a nauseatingly virtuous orphan whose exemplary behavior children were meant to emulate.
Then along came Alice. Her curiosity and impetuousness trumped Victorian propriety, and after her tumble down the rabbit hole, children’s literature would never be the same. Praiseworthy exemplars like Goody Two Shoes were upstaged by willful and unruly boys and girls (and hedgehogs and monkeys and hippos and elephants). Browse the children’s classics in any bookstore, and you’ll encounter characters who are stubborn, noisy, hot-headed, brash, messy, jealous of their siblings, mendacious, prone to extended sulks, cheeky and deliberately bad. (more…)
This week’s Friday 5 is in celebration of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and comes from writer Christopher Oklyn. Christopher was born in Paris, France and grew up in Cardiff, Wales. He attended Northwestern University in Chicago, where he majored in communications and economics. He is a recent migrant to Brooklyn and currently works for a Community Development Financial Institution in Manhattan. Christopher is a playwright, a poet, and a blogger with interests in improv, social activism, and travel.
Two men will be celebrated this weekend. Two men of distinction, of great hope, and of far-reaching ambition. It is important to cherish this moment and to acknowledge how far from the tyranny of segregation we have come. But it is equally important to take pause and remember that we would not be congratulating one man without the sacrifice of the other. This Sunday Barack Obama will be sworn in for his second term. This is an achievement that we can comfortably assume was barely a dream forty-five years ago, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. died for the Civil Rights Movement.
Yet, it is hard to begin to comprehend what this achievement means: I will never be able to fully understand the prejudice suffered by people of color now or fifty years ago – I am a white male. However, John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me, the non-fiction classic published in 1961, does an excellent job of providing an inroad for understanding. Mr. Griffin’s experiment in changing the pigmentation of his skin and his description of traveling through the Deep South show us, through the lens of a man experiencing intense discrimination for the first time, how awful conditions truly were.
The NY Writers Coalition is looking for volunteers to lead creative writing workshops that provide a safe, supportive environment in which writers can find and expand their voices, take risks in writing, and be part of a non-competitive writing community. Once trained, volunteer workshop leaders participate fully in all workshops they lead: writing, reading aloud, and providing supportive feedback to workshop participants. Workshop leaders gain leadership skills while being part of a rewarding process of personal and interpersonal discovery. Want to know more about what it is like to be a workshop leader? Here are 5 benefits of becoming a writing workshop leader from current workshop leaders themselves…
As a workshop leader you:
Willie Mae Thorton, also known as Big Mama Thorton, recorded “Hound Dog” in August 1953 under the production of Johnny Otis with the Otis band. The song held the top spot on the Billboard’s R&B charts for seven weeks selling over half a million copies. It was Thorton’s signature growl over the blues and soulful track that garnered its success and made Thorton a force to be reckoned with in blues and R&B music. But then there was Elvis Presley. Elvis, who had never heard of Big Mama Thorton, heard all white male Las Vegas lounge act Freddie Bell and The Bellboys, perform their version of “Hound Dog” at Sands Hotel in 1956. Upon, hearing it Elvis fell over heels for the song, and went on to record it and the rest was history. “Hound Dog” became Elvis’s longest-running #1 hit with 11 weeks at the top of the charts in the summer of 1956. With the song’s now broad appeal, Elvis became the King of Rock & Roll. Big Mama Thorton on the other hand, although she did release other albums in the late 1960s, never received notable fame on the level of Elvis Presley and despite half a million copies sold of “Hound Dog” she responded that she only received a $500 check for the record. Today, most people associate “Hound Dog” with Elvis Presley. (more…)