Last week Sunday, we took the Orange Line from Jackson Square (pictured above) to Forest Hills station so we could take a walk around the Arnold Arboretum. Continue reading
We were supposed to travel this weekend, but Hanna was unwell so rather than push ourselves and land her with three weeks of pneumonia like last fall — that was fun! — we revised things and stayed in place. On Saturday morning we took our coffee and pastries (thank you Ula Cafe!) and went out to Forest Hills Cemetery to sit and read in the October sun. Continue reading
Back in the spring, I received a review copy of Babette: The Many Lives, Two Deaths, and Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth (2013) a memoir/biographical study by Ross Eliot. After six months of hectic life, I’m finally getting around to reviewing the book; my apologies to the author for my deleterious behavior.
In 1999, Ross Eliot was working odd jobs and taking community college classes in Portland, Oregon, when a member of the history faculty — Dr. Ellsworth — took an interest in him. In her seventies and living alone, Ellsworth was looking for someone to take up residence in a basement apartment and help out around the house, drive the car, and be a companion at meals as well as on frequent weekend excursions in exchange for room and board. Eliot accepted the challenge, and lived with Dr. Ellsworth, despite her many eccentricities, until a heart attack took her life in 2002.
Part memoir, part character study, Babette echoes such works as Alan Bennett’s essay “The Lady in the Van” (1989) or Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters (2005). Like its predecessors, Babette centers around the complicated, marginal life of an individual with whom the author had personal acquaintance — but whose personal life details elude complete or coherent understanding. All three of these narratives also involve troubling questions of ethical responsibility toward the stories of others, and challenging questions of power imbalances within such author-subject relations.
[mild spoilers after the jump]
Hanna and I walked into the city center this morning via the Southwest Corridor Park, from Jamaica Plain to the Back Bay. Here’s a selection of images we took along the way.
The Southwest Corridor Park was almost a freeway.
Instead, neighborhood activists came together to stop the freeway & today
the Orange Line T / commuter rail lines run alongside a nearly 5 mile urban park. Continue reading
Our plans include a lot of napping and reading. Maybe some long walks, used bookstores, libraries, and coffee shops.
In the meantime, here are some things I’d like to write blog posts about at some point:
1. I’ve been reading sociology books on home education lately — Kingdom of Children and Home is Where the School Is — and would like to write a post about unschooling at work (what does it look like to bring the values and structures of the unschooling ethos into a workplace?) and unschooling at adulthood (can you have a family that practices “unschooling” when you’re not raising kids? spoiler: I think you can).
I had a two-day migraine last week and now seem to be battling a cold, so — suffice to say writing energy and focus is low, and time scarce. In the meantime, here’s some stuff I’ve been reading on the internet I’ve been thinking about when not following #teamharpy.
Jacobin Magazine recently published a bitter analysis of the forces of gentrification by Gavin Mueller that has returned my thinking to urban history and politics:
Gentrification has always been a top-down affair, not a spontaneous hipster influx, orchestrated by the real estate developers and investors who pull the strings of city policy, with individual home-buyers deployed in mopping up operations. …
“What choice do I have?” ask the liberal gentrifiers, if you press them a bit. “This is the only place I can afford to live!” This sums everything up perfectly, puncturing the bubble of individual choices that make up liberal politics.
You have no choice; everything’s been decided ahead of time. If you want the American dream of a middle-class life with a home you own in the city in which you work, you have few other choices than to join the shock troops of the onslaught against the urban poor. Align with big capital and the repressive state in the conquest of the city, and maybe you’ll have enough equity to send your kids to college.
Maybe because of the Jacobin piece, or because of the series on Uprooting Racism I’ve been doing over at the Amiable Archivists Salon, I’ve been thinking about gentrification a lot lately. This piece by Dannette Lambert on “20 Ways Not to be a Gentrifier” from the Oakland Local is always worth a re-read: Continue reading