Posts filed under ‘Other People’s Stuff’

A Black Square

blacksquare

Let me clarify.

A black square does not mean “I hate police.” A black square does not mean, “I think violence is the answer.” A black square does not mean that my life revolves around what is cool on social media.

It was one small thing. A little black square. Please don’t knock it. Please don’t hijack it. Please don’t use it as another distraction or another way to polarize opinion.

I posted a black square as a way of saying, I see racism. I see inequality. I know it exists. I want things to change. I posted a black square to say, I cannot believe we aren’t doing better than this in the 21st century. I posted a black square to say, I’m here. I don’t know much but, Um, Hi. I’m here.

I can deeply respect policemen and women and still post a black square.

I can love this country and still post a black square.

I wouldn’t for a second assume I know what it’s like. But I sure as heck have witnessed racism.

I have heard friends use the N word. I said, “Don’t.” But that doesn’t feel like enough.

I have heard elderly people say racist things. I never know how to handle that. I have disagreed gently at times. But I’m sorry to say there have been times when I just bit my lip. I feel bad about that.

I dated a bigot. Holy crap, I slept with a bigot. I also broke up with him, but racism was a contributing factor, not the primary reason. (I’m ashamed of that entire paragraph.)

I know a couple of bars that will not allow black people in the door. I won’t drink there. But so-called “private clubs” still exist. And that doesn’t seem right.

I’m no evangelist. I’m no extremist. I’m neither left nor right. Folks, I wasn’t going to blog about this. Mine is not a relevant voice. I’m a pasty pale white, non-political, fallible human. I have absolutely no idea how it feels to be black in America. But, while I wouldn’t dare to say I understand, I’m not blind. I’m not stupid.

Racism exists. Things need to change.

I saw a black square on Facebook this morning and I was curious. I read a few articles. One article included a quote I had never seen before:

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.   — Martin Luther King

That struck me. That resonated. And from there, I interpreted the black square as a way to not be silent. It was a simple black square, a symbolic statement on social media. It was not enough, by real real real real real real far. But, today, it was a tiny way to be kind.

That is how I saw it. That is what I meant.

There are times when we all need to take a breath, pause a beat, and try to see the best in each other. This is one of those times.

June 2, 2020 at 8:24 pm Leave a comment

Hilarious: Wrong Hands Cartoonist

Humor is a life preserver, so here’s some to start your week. I think this guy’s work is absolutely hilarious. Check out his “Wrong Hands” website for more. All of the following cartoons are the creation of and property of John Atkinson. ©John Atkinson, Wrong Hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 11, 2020 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

Dear Andrew McCutchen


In response to Andrew McCutchen’s article, Dear Pittsburgh.


Dear Andrew McCutchen,

I wanted to sincerely thank you for your letter to me (and everyone).

I have been part of Pittsburgh since 1963. I remember 1971. I remember 1979.

I remember 1992, when a guy who had wished to stay in town and be a Pittsburgh Pirate, a guy who had offered to take a pay cut to stay in town and be a Pittsburgh Pirate, slid to the plate wearing a Braves uniform and knocked the wind out of this city.

I won’t rehash the Pittsburgh pIrate years except to say this: The biggest difficulty wasn’t the losing. We don’t need trophies to be happy (we have plenty). Sure we like to win, but we have our priorities straight. We do not like laziness. We do not admire greed. And we get rather peeved at those who crap on tradition.

In the midst of the bad years, I also remember June 4, 2009.

Your first game in Major League Baseball was a great game, and I was in the stands. You were a stand out, a bright spark, a star. And, as the cheering subsided and I walked to my car, I wondered how long it would be before you were traded away in the night for a handful of beans.

But they didn’t trade you. And you became The Guy.

You’re The Guy we got to hold onto. It was a symbol, a pivot, a change. You’re The Guy who had skill. The Guy who had heart. The Guy who liked being a Pirate. A leader. An inspiration. The Guy who brought confidence—and fun!—back to the dugout. The Guy who didn’t get lazy, didn’t stop trying.

You’re The Guy cynical, middle-age folk snuck a peek at while pretending not to care about baseball anymore.

You’re The Guy who set the tone for the team who gave baseball back to Pittsburgh.

And beyond all that, you’re you. And we love you.

We love you like we love an incline. We love you like we love a parade. We love you like we love pierogi made by little old ladies in the South Side.

We love you like we love rivers. We love you like we love ketchup. We love you like Christmas morning. We love you like Friday at 5:00. We love you like Primanti’s really late at night.

We love you like we love the street we grew up on. We love you like a neighbor. We love you like a friend. We love you like We Are Family.

We love you like our first baseball glove, the one Dad bought at Honus Wagner’s downtown. We love you like the crack of a bat. We love you like sunshine.

We love you like we love Mario. We love you like we love Myron. We love you like we love Bill Mazeroski and Willy Stargell.

We love that you want to be here. We love that you understand what baseball means to this town. We love that you love Roberto. We love your smile. We love your style. We love your game.

So, last season wasn’t the cherry on top. So what. We’re from Pittsburgh. We are very well aware that not every story would sell to Disney. We know turnarounds take time. We know setbacks make us strong. We weren’t worried.

Until the rumors started.

I heard the trade rumors exactly two days after I bought my brother a McCutchen jersey for Christmas.

(True story. When I saw a McCutchen jersey on a sale rack, I said aloud, in the store, “Huh, they’re not trading McCutchen are they?” And I laughed. I laughed! The sheer absurdity that the Pittsburgh Pirates organization would give up The Guy? That they would decide to trip momentum? Turn back time? No way. They wouldn’t. They couldn’t. Even for people who don’t give a damn about the love of Pittsburgh, the financial benefits of the resurgence had to be enough to keep them happy enough to not do something as preposterously, stunningly stupid as trading The Guy, right? I laughed.)

Such a punch to the gut. A reminder of 1992 and all that followed. The disconnected years. The fool-me-20-times years. And I wondered if maybe it was all a lie. Maybe nothing had changed. Maybe the plan all along had been to do the minimum required to lure in a new generation and then sit back and make concession/advertising/profit-sharing money for another 20 years. Maybe the decision makers still couldn’t see beyond their wallets to the soul of a thing, to the ripples of a baseball hitting a river, to the importance of The Guy.

I held my breath. I wrinkled my brow. I grew gray hairs. I expected the worst but I hoped.

And then.

Perhaps they recognized the importance of The Guy. Perhaps they saw the error of their ways. Perhaps a collection of lucky circumstances kept a deal from getting done. Or, perhaps, there is simply nothing that can stand against the fervent, collective wish of the people of Pittsburgh.

And perhaps it was coincidence that the news of you staying arrived and we got spring in February.

However it happened, dear Andrew McCutchen, we are very glad you are here.

Sincerely,
Beth Schmidt

February 20, 2017 at 3:22 pm 3 comments

Does Anybody Still Collect Matchbooks?

matchbooks_sampleSome years ago, I came home from a yard sale with four large Ziploc bags filled with matchbooks which then sat in my garage, untouched ever since, except for the occasional forage when someone needed a light or the power went out.

And all those times I made flambé.

This past week, working on a layout for a client who doesn’t have budget for stock art, I thought of the matches for a graphic idea. I squirmed the bags out of a dark corner of the garage and dumped them out on the floor of my office for a little in-house photo shoot.

I hoped to be able to create an interesting, colorful, free image. But I got a bit more out of those bags than just that. I got to see some vintage design, and I got a lovely rush of nostalgia—that quirky cool you can sense in old things.

And I got a glimpse.

I ended up sprawled on the floor for a lot longer than expected, captivated by a completely unexpected feeling that I was flipping through another person’s scrapbook.

I don’t know exactly who these matchbooks belonged to, but he was from the Pittsburgh area, served in the military, traveled a bit. He was a grown-up in the 50s and 60s and still alive in the 80s.

I imagine he was a good-natured, occasionally gruff old bird who served in the Navy, WWII or maybe Korea. He visited Tokyo, Waikiki, and many other cities, came home, got a job, quietly raised a family. Maybe he was in sales. His wife worked at a department store when the kids were older. They went out to dinner on special occasions and loaded the family into a station wagon to go on driving vacations. Friends would bring him a matchbook when they traveled, too. He had a big laugh and a paneled den. His granddaughter went against current custom and had matches at her wedding reception, just for him. He got a big kick out of that. It was one of the last matchbooks he added to his collection.

One day, these little square signs of a friendlier era and markers of a lifetime of moments were deemed politically incorrect and unwanted. Somebody scooped the collection into Ziploc bags and sent them off to a thrift shop or flea market. I hope this occurred after he died and not while he was aware and forced to acquiesce.

I hope this quite fervently.

Ah, yes, I’m a little weird. But I’ve a brain that creates characters and tells tales. And I am overly susceptible to sentiment. (I get a similar pang when I see people’s family photos at antique stores. Or a single shoe on the highway.)

Truth is, I will never know exactly what his story was. But I do know that I was pleasantly surprised to get something beyond practicality in this yard sale flotsam. I discovered pocket Americana. I rescued these colorful little books that tell the tale of an un-famous, fascinating life.

Does anyone collect matchbooks anymore? (If so, let me know if you’d like to have them. I’m keeping a few just for fun, but there are so many. I’d be very happy to share with someone who collects them.)

matchbook_big

October 1, 2016 at 5:24 pm 3 comments

On a Serious Note . . .

Came across this Facebook post today and thought it worth sharing. (Well said, Melissa. Thank you.)

I sometimes fear the world overall is losing its capacity for common sense, critical thought, and empathy. I hope that is not the case. I hope it is just the nature of social media:  that we are exposed to so many millions of people, there are bound to be some really awful ones in the mix. I fear for children growing up in the midst of it, where such behavior could be seen as an example of what is proper, what is okay as a member of society, what is funny. It worries me. But perhaps that is age creeping up on me, for it is, after all, the elders’ job to worry about those coming next — not because we’re better than they are but because we love them so fiercely.

I do not claim perfection, in life or on Facebook. So please know I do not share this to preach at anybody but rather as an important reminder for us all. The human brain is capable of a multitude of thoughts:  simultaneous, swarming, soaring, nasty, beautiful, ugly, diverse thoughts. Being a decent human being doesn’t mean you never have a bad thought; it means you have learned what not to share.

Peace & Love.

June 16, 2016 at 8:48 am Leave a comment

It Is Still A Beautiful World

I have been trying to put my thoughts into words for a blog post tomorrow — which then became today as I crested 8 hours of writing and rewriting in a day when I had way too many other, more urgent things to do. And, just as I thought I was getting close to what I wanted to say, I realized that Max Ehrmann had already said it far better than I ever could. So, as we each face this day, I share his words instead of my own.

Desiderata
by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
 for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
 But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals,
 and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
 Especially do not feign affection. 
Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
 Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

September 11, 2014 at 2:03 am 2 comments

Snail Mail My Email 2013

SMME cartoonIt’s that time of year again. Snail Mail My Email has begun. (Here’s another Life Preservers post about the project:   Snail Mail My Email Project.)

For one week only (this week!), the Snail Mail My Email team will take your email, hand-write it, decorate it, and mail it. For free. Want to send a one-of-a-kind letter? Go to the Snail Mail My Email website.

Or think about writing a letter to someone this week!

The Snail Mail My Email project was created in 2011 by artist Ivan Cash. In that first year 234 volunteers collectively sent 10,457 letters to 70 countries in just one month. The project has since transitioned to a week-long annual event held every fall. And it’s going on now.

The project has also been captured in a book, which is for sale on amazon.

 

 

November 11, 2013 at 10:18 pm Leave a comment

Cool Project (that Deserves Support)

Have you seen those antique blue dinner plates? The ones with the complex design and tranquil scenery? Well, there’s a designer in Pittsburgh named Don Moyer who re-draws the pattern–but with a twist. He adds a calamity, like attacking aliens or a pirate ship. Check out some of the images here on Flickr.  They’re a hoot!

At this point, Don is trying to raise the money to actually produce one of his Calamityware Dinner Plates as a real plate. He has a project up on KickStarter, a site that helps everyday folks help other everyday folks fund creative projects. You make a pledge to fund the project. If the project doesn’t get completed, you get your money back. You can pledge as little as one dollar, simply as a show of support for this delightful bit of genius. For $25, you’ll get one of the Calamity plates. With flying monkeys. (Flying monkeys!)

This image is not mine. Copyright Don Moyer. I'm just borrowing it so you can see how cool it is!

This image is not mine. Copyright Don Moyer. I’m just borrowing it so you can see how cool it is!

Check out the Calamityware Dinner Plate KickStarter page here for more info, including a video from Don Moyer explaining the project and all of the details about KickStarter. Consider making a donation. I just did. Because I like to support silliness and creativity in the world. And I want one of these plates!

To make a pledge, you have to create a log in on KickStarter and then pay via amazon.com. If you already have an amazon account, you just use your regular log in. If you do not already have an amazon account, you would need to create one. But the pledge process is really simple. If the project is successful, plates will ship around February 2014.

I do not know Don personally, but he is a friend of a friend, so I feel comfortable vouching for this project. Check it out!

October 25, 2013 at 2:39 pm Leave a comment

Snail Mail Book – Coming in November

Was very excited to hear the news today. Snail Mail My Email book will be out in November. It’s available for pre-order today. (And yes, mine is already ordered.)

Snail Mail My Email was a fun letter-writing project created by Ivan Cash. I shared a bit about the project last summer.

August 15, 2012 at 7:44 am Leave a comment

I Love the Stuff Zombies Hate

“Zombies Hates Stuff” by Greg Stones


Had to share the latest from Greg Stones. It’s “Zombies Hate Stuff.” It’s less than $10 and it’s available from:

amazon.com

Chronicle Books

Barnes & Noble

Urban Outfitters

Same prices on each site ($9.95). Buy at least two because you’re going to want to share this one, but you’re not going to want to give away your copy. It’s a uniquely hilarious book of charming-but-twisted paintings depicting zombies and the stuff they hate (like clowns or hippies or kittens).  Each page is a little masterpiece that will make you giggle—that is, as long as you have a sense of humor. Great gift for Walking Dead fans, hard-to-shop-for teens, friends, and zombies. Not a picture book for toddlers. Probably not for grandmas. Unless your grandma is wickedly cool.

Even if you don’t buy the book, treat yourself to a little Happy Friday giggling and take a peek.

p.s. I have written about Greg Stones before. I own a couple prints and am the insanely proud owner of a Greg Stones custom original called “The Observer”:

June 15, 2012 at 9:01 am 2 comments



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