We listened so often we memorized lyrics like the secret readers in Fahrenheit 451, at least the lyrics to the songs Stipe enunciated. Famously elusive, mumbled and indirect, many of his songs were like codes, with meanings no more than roundabout guesses. All that and more came back hearing that snatch of song, and reading Grace Elizabeth Hale’s incredible Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture. In it she not only clearly and thoroughly tells the fascinating story of the Athens scene around University of Georgia that gave rise to R.E.M. and so many other acts, she captures and conveys the liberation, joy and sweetness of youth.
In the fifth smallest county in the United States, and the smallest in Nebraska, there’s a town called Arthur, population 118. Taking Fir Street, you can walk from one end to the other in about ten minutes, passing the bank, post office, and County Treasurer. At the southern end lies the old county courthouse and jail, said to have been the smallest in the United States. At the northern end, there’s a hat shop.
Like many others who were (or still are in some cases) stuck inside during this strange summer, I have immersed myself back into the world of cinema. Personally I’ve been enjoying working my way through Spike Lee’s early “joints” (I lost patience after Chi-Raq whilst Da 5 Bloods only just managed to hook me in). As I rewatched a few favorites and ticked others off the list, I suddenly realized something; the sense of style in these films is actually on point. From Mookie’s Dodgers jersey in Do The Right Thing to Delroy Lindo’s shirts in Crooklyn, his characters have got a natural sense of game that just blends into the overall experience.
I’m in the middle of a closet embargo, only worsened by the pandemic. To that end, I’ve begun a series of little Do It Yourself projects to try to breath new life into old things. I invite readers to try this list for themselves, or make up their own.